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'Makes no sense': Shanmugam rebuts WP MP's suggestion for independent ombudsman

Mr Leon Perera (left), Workers' Party Member of Parliament, and Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam (right) speaking during a Committee of Supply debate on March 3, 2022.

Mr Leon Perera (left), Workers' Party Member of Parliament, and Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam (right) speaking during a Committee of Supply debate on March 3, 2022.

SINGAPORE — In his speech debating the budget of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Leon Perera asked how senior government ministers are checked for foreign interference, and suggested the creation of an ombudsman to provide independent oversight.

An ombudsman is typically an official who deals with complaints made by the public against the government.

Mr Perera's two-minute speech on Thursday (March 3) also called for greater “oversight mechanisms” over the use of extra-judicial caning as a punishment for certain offences.

The Aljunied Group Representation Constituency MP’s suggestion received a lengthy rebuttal from Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam.

"Mr Perera said during the Fica debate: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. If I recall correctly, for some reason, I think that phrase seems to have lost favour now. Who guards the guards?" Mr Shanmugam said.

Mr Shanmugam appeared to allude to the findings of the Committee of Privileges on the conduct of former WP MP Raeesah Khan when he added: "Now take a hypothetical situation, say, you have an organisation where the top leaders engage in wrongdoing. Or for example, say, they set up a disciplinary committee to cover up what they did rather than actually investigate, I think you can ask, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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