July 18, 2023
SINGAPORE – The Workers’ Party (WP) is looking into a video clip circulating online that appears to show Member of Parliament Leon Perera sharing an intimate moment with fellow senior party member Nicole Seah.
The 15-second video shows Mr Perera stroking the hand of a woman who seems to be Ms Seah, as the duo have a glass of wine at a restaurant. Cars can be seen going by in the background.
In a statement on Monday, the WP said it is “aware of a video clip circulating online today that suggests an inappropriate exchange between two senior party members”.
“The party is currently looking into the matter and will comment when we have the facts. The party also expects all its members to fully own and account for their behaviour.”
Both Mr Perera and Ms Seah are married. They are also on the party’s 15-member central executive committee (CEC) – its top decision-making body.
Mr Perera is the MP for Aljunied GRC’s Serangoon division, and heads the party’s media team. He has two children and is married to a woman named Carol, according to previous reports.
Before joining politics, he had been a civil servant before becoming the co-founder and chief executive of a business research and consulting agency.
Ms Seah, 36, is the WP’s Youth Wing president, and was one of the party’s candidates in the team that contested in East Coast GRC in the 2020 General Election. They narrowly lost to the PAP team led by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
She entered politics with the National Solidarity Party at the 2011 General Election, where she was the youngest female candidate.
Ms Seah and her husband Bryan had their second daughter in April 2022. They married in 2015.
The Straits Times has sent queries to WP chief Pritam Singh, Mr Perera and Ms Seah.
Mr Singh declined to comment when approached at his Meet-the-People Session (MPS) on Monday. Mr Perera did not turn up at his MPS. The WP chief later went to the party’s headquarters in Geylang, where he met other WP leaders, including former secretary-general Low Thia Khiang and Sengkang GRC MP Jamus Lim, to discuss the matter.
Relationship manager Christy Lee, 37, a resident in Mr Perera’s Serangoon ward, said he should, as a public figure, take some responsibility to step up and address the situation.
“As long as he does his job well, it’s not like this is going to affect my life,” she added.
Another resident, senior engineer Terry Pour, 43, said Mr Perera is a very genuine man who “makes sure that he goes through every single case”. He added that people should not jump to conclusions so soon.
Political watchers cited the party’s handling of former Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong’s alleged affair as an indication of how it could deal with the latest incident involving Mr Perera and Ms Seah, though they noted that nothing has been confirmed.
The WP sacked Mr Yaw in 2012, with its leaders saying he had refused to explain extramarital affair allegations and failed to uphold the party’s standards of accountability and transparency.
Dr Felix Tan, a political analyst and associate lecturer at Nanyang Technological University, said: “If these allegations are true, it would be best that these two step down from their positions within the WP to prevent any further fallout that will affect the party membership.”
Singapore Management University associate professor of law Eugene Tan said: “Based on what I observed of the WP’s handling of Mr Yaw’s alleged affair in 2012, it would point that they (WP), too, would ask for the MP’s resignation.”
The party had made it clear at the time that it will not tolerate such “personal indiscretions”, said Prof Tan, pointing out that voters’ confidence in the WP would not be affected if it deals with the incident fairly.
Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, senior international affairs analyst at Solaris Strategies Singapore, said Monday’s surprise resignation of People’s Action Party (PAP) members Tan Chuan-Jin and Cheng Li Hui over an extramarital affair could compel the WP to take the same approach if Mr Perera and Ms Seah are found to be in an inappropriate relationship.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday said the resignations of Mr Tan and Ms Cheng were necessary to maintain the high standards of propriety and personal conduct that the PAP has upheld all these years.
“The inevitable domestic political pressure from the decision made by the PAP could compel the WP to take the same decision, culminating in resignations,” said Dr Mustafa.
In such a scenario, the impact for the WP would be greater as it has “fewer members of Parliament and both of them are in the CEC of the WP”, he added.
“With the PAP having dealt with its own incidents, domestic eyes will be on how the WP will manage its own incident,” he said.