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AGC says no offence was committed, following police reports lodged against PAP's Heng Swee Keat for comments at forum

SINGAPORE — The police on Tuesday (July 7) said that it has consulted with the Attorney-General’s Chambers who deemed that Mr Heng Swee Keat’s remarks at a student’s forum last year had no intent to wound anyone’s racial feelings or promote enmity between different races.

SINGAPORE — The police on Tuesday (July 7) said that it has consulted with the Attorney-General’s Chambers who deemed that Mr Heng Swee Keat’s remarks at a student’s forum last year had no intent to wound anyone’s racial feelings or promote enmity between different races.

In a statement, the police confirmed that reports had been lodged against Mr Heng, who is contesting in the East Coast Group Representation Constituency, in relation to his response to a question posed to him at a student’s forum at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on March 28, 2019.

Mr Heng had been asked whether Singaporeans were ready for a non-Chinese Prime Minister.

“The police have consulted the Attorney-General’s Chambers, which advised that no offence is disclosed. Mr Heng’s remarks, in the context they were made, do not evidence any intent to wound anyone’s racial feelings or promote enmity between different races,” said the police.

Mr Heng had made the remarks when replying to a question posed by a member of the audience at the NTU forum last year.

In asking the question, Assistant Professor Walid Jumblatt Abdullah of NTU's School of Social Sciences’ public policy and global affairs programme, noted that Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was a popular choice to take on the top job.

A survey conducted by market research consultancy Blackbox in 2016 found that Mr Tharman was the top choice among Singaporeans to succeed Mr Lee Hsien Loong, with 69 per cent of almost 900 respondents indicating that they would support him to be the candidate for prime minister.

“Is it Singapore who is not ready for a non-Chinese prime minister, or is it the PAP (the ruling People’s Action Party) who is not ready for a non-Chinese prime minister?” Asst Prof Walid asked.

While Mr Heng noted that many among the 700 students who attended the ministerial forum organised by the NTU Students’ Union were happy to have a prime minister who is not Chinese, he said that this was not the case for all of Singapore.

“My own experience in walking the ground, in working with different people from all walks of life, is that the views — if you go by age and by life experience — would be very different,” the finance minister said.

Nevertheless, Mr Heng said: "I do think that at the right time, when enough people think that we may have a minority leader, a minority who becomes the leader of the country, that is something that we can all hope for."

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