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Back to the Gutter: Chee Hong Tat’s Below-the-Belt Attack on the WP’s Leon Perera in Parliament

ELSON: Let the casting of aspersions continue – for the PAP, unwarranted personal attacks are nothing new.

Workers’ Party NCMP Leon Perera was the latest victim of the PAP’s below-the-belt tactics, courtesy of Senior Minister of State for Health, Chee Hong Tat.

In parliament, Chee attacked Perera when the latter had asked to “allow confirmed smokers access to e-cigarettes, at least for a certain period of time, as part of their efforts to quit smoking or reduce consumption”.

In a feeble and embarrassing attempt seemingly aimed at smearing Perera’s reputation, Chee insinuated that Perera was promoting the use of e-cigarettes for the benefit of tobacco companies, and as a result of that, for his own monetary benefit.

Pressing Perera, Chee said:

“I had only asked the Member if he had any interest to declare. Can I also ask Mr Perera if Henkel, a key manufacturer of adhesives for cigarettes, is a client of the Spire group of which Mr Perera is CEO?”

This is Henkel, a former client of Perera’s company, Spire Group:

One application of adhesives Henkel produces is for cigarettes (those rollies aren’t going to stick themselves, you know).

It also produces adhesives for other purposes ranging from cars to construction materials.

It’s the equivalent of saying your grandmother works as a cleaner at a hotel, sometimes prostitutes book rooms at the hotel so they can have happy hour with their clients, so your grandmother supports prostitution and living off the earnings of prostitutes even though hotel rooms have been used for many other purposes.

What an absurd inference!

But, this was handled at least in a manly fashion by Perera, who replied without trying to throw smoke that:

“As a general matter of policy, the work my company does, does not pertain to tobacco business at all. And that’s a position we have taken historically, so I do not serve tobacco clients in my private capacity in the work that I do for this company. “I take very strong objection to any implication that the opinions that I’ve expressed in my speech for the Tobacco Bill was motivated by commercial considerations in any way.”

What’s possibly worse is that our Senior Minister of State for Health doesn’t seem to grasp the tobacco industry’s workings, or the economics of it – big tobacco firms aren’t major producers of e-cigarettes because it cannibalizes their core product offering, which yeah, is normal cigarettes lah.

Or maybe Chee was so determined to get another personal attack in that he was willing to let facts and simple common sense slide?



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