MP punched during MPS, then signs attacker's letter of appeal
Man arrested for punching Dr Tan Wu Meng, who wrote up his letter of appeal after hospital check-up
One moment he was interviewing a resident during a Meet-the-People Session (MPS) in Clementi, and the next he was on the floor after being punched by a man.
Jurong GRC Member of Parliament Dr Tan Wu Meng, 43, told The New Paper yesterday: "It took me completely by surprise. Next thing I knew, volunteers and residents had pounced on the young gentleman, restraining him."
The police later arrested a 32-year-old man for the attack at Block 334 Clementi Avenue 2 at 10pm on Monday.
Dr Tan, who had bruises on his arm and abrasions on his neck and head, said police and Singapore Civil Defence Force officers advised him to have his injuries checked just in case.
But the first-term MP decided to help some residents who were waiting to see him before he went to the National University Hospital.
After his check-up, he returned to the MPS and wrote up his attacker's letter of appeal, among others.
He said the man had been to his MPS once about a year ago. This time, he turned violent before he could be interviewed.
Dr Tan, a medical oncologist, added: "He came in with a set of problems, and I just hope he will be able to get help."
He declined to reveal what issues the man has or what the letter of appeal was for.
Dr Tan said he was in a daze after the attack and could not catch what the attacker had said.
"There were many residents around, some of them very young. I was worried someone else would be hurt," he added.
"When you are reaching out to people, you have to make yourself accessible, and it is unfortunate that such things happen. I'm just glad no one was seriously injured."
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who leads the team of MPs in Jurong GRC, called the incident unfortunate and completely unacceptable yesterday.
"Dr Tan Wu Meng and his volunteers handled it well," he wrote in a Facebook post.
Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin said on Facebook yesterday: "This is never right nor acceptable. Our Parliamentarians, regardless of party, public servants and for that matter anyone serving the public in any capacity should not have to be subjected to such acts."
He added: "It's an unfortunate risk we have to bear because the nature of our work requires that we do have that direct contact with our residents. While we can take mitigating measures, we can never insulate ourselves from the public. Nor should we."
Attacks on MPs have happened twice before, both times involving former MP Seng Han Thong.
In 2009, he suffered burns to his face, neck and back after a former cabby, then 70, splashed paint thinner on him and set him alight at a grassroots event at Yio Chu Kang Community Club.
In 2006, a 74-year-old cabby punched Mr Seng during an MPS.
People's Action Party organising secretary Chan Chun Sing said in a statement: "This is a stark reminder of the risks that our MPs have to manage in the course of our public duties.
"Police investigations are ongoing, and we urge everyone not to speculate and to leave the matter to the relevant authorities."
A police spokesman said the suspect was arrested for criminal trespass and is being investigated for voluntarily causing hurt to an MP.
He will be charged in court today.
If convicted of criminal trespass, he can be jailed for up to three months, fined up to $1,500, or both.
For voluntarily causing hurt, he can be jailed for up to two years, fined up to $5,000, or both.
Dr Tan wrote on Facebook yesterday: "Whatever the outcome under the law, I hope he can get back on track and I will try to help him do so."
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