Tuesday, 21 October 2014

From Alvin Intan Puthu to Zaqy

Inflated legal costs – all eyes on SMC for now
The SMC had sought to claim some S$1.33 million from Dr Lim as costs for the hearings. The SMC said that this was the bill charged to it by Wong Partnership

In recent weeks, there have been a lot written in some blogs about the so-called “overcharging” by lawyers from Wong Partnership for work done for the Singapore Medical Council (SMC).

There has also been one petition set up to seek the “impeachment” of one of the lawyers involved, People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP), Alvin Yeo.

Mr Yeo, along with his colleagues, Melanie Ho and Lim Wei Lee, were the lawyers for the SMC in its legal action against Dr Susan Lim, who was later found guilty of overcharging her client, a member of the Brunei royal family, for services Dr Lim rendered which totalled about $24 million.

Reduced legal cost does not mean overcharging: LawSoc

The Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) has issued a statement to clarify on the alleged overcharging in legal fees by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC), for services in its case against Dr Susan Lim, who was in turn earlier found guilty of overcharging her patient.

SMC file claims against Dr Lim to the sum of $1.33 million. However, the High Court ruled on 1 October that the legal bills sought by SMC were themselves inflated, and reduced them to $317,000.

SMC’s legal work for the case was led by Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo, a Member of Parliament with the People’s Action Party

Don't equate reduction of costs with overcharging

MUCH ink has been spilt following recent claims of overcharging by lawyers representing the Singapore Medical Council ("Medical, legal professions need to clear the air" by Dr Jeremy Lim Fung Yen, Oct 3; and "Legal profession's unregulated pricing structure" by Mr Philip Williams, last Saturday).

Without commenting on specific cases before the court and the inquiry committee, it appears necessary to explain the process to the public.

There are two typical situations - when one reviews one's lawyer's bill, and when one reviews the opponent's lawyer's bill. In Singapore, the general rule is that the losing party has to pay costs to the winning party. Parties can agree on the quantum to be paid, or if they disagree, the court will decide the amount payable after hearing arguments from both sets of lawyers. This is known as taxation.

Lawyer Andre Arul was fined $50k for overcharging his client. Will action be taken against PAP MP Alvin Yeo too?
The Alternative View Facebook, 3 Oct 2014 Link

Singapore lawyer fined $50,000 for overcharging client
Singapore Medical Council overcharged Susan Lim: Courts

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PAP MP and lawyer Alvin Yeo has been found to have overcharged his client by over $1 million in legal fees in a case involving the Singapore Medical Council and a Doctor.

The courts found that Yeo’s law firm, Wong Partnership LLP, had initially charged a total of $1.33 million in legal fees but after the cost was disputed, it was brought down to $370,000. Subsequently, during another hearing on the cost, the total price was brought down to $317,000.

This means that the team of lawyers, Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo and Lawyers Melanie Ho and Lim Wei Lee, had overcharged by over $1 million.

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Double Standards

SMC's lawyers - Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo and Melanie Ho of WongPartnership (WongP) - overcharged by $637,009 (the difference between the original bill amount of $1.007 million and the $370,000 allowed by High Court Judge Woo Bih Li, who reviewed the matter, and eventually allowed that total sum for the bill of costs).

The latest development is that the court has slashed SMC's cost claims, and awarding the council only $317,000 of the $1.33m it was itching to collect (note the numbers keep changing, as if plucked mysteriously from the air). Examples of the overcharging include bills for two expert witnesses which were set at some $52,000, and slashed by the court to $14,000. Ring binders for which SMC had priced at $6 per unit for Dr Lim to pay were cut to $2.50 per unit after the court found it had used the cheaper version in past hearings. Greed knows no bounds.

The end is not yet in sight. When politicians get involved - and Alvin Yeo is a PAP MP - the muck takes forever to clear. Yang Yin did his homework well, he knew the Kodak moments with Lee Hsien Loong, Grace Fu and Intan Mokhtar will be worth more than the $4,000 he splurged for a fake degree.

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Clash of the Grossly Overcharged Means Alvin Yeo Must Resign

I am sure the case of Dr Susan Lim is still in many people’s minds. She was the doctor taken to court by the SMC for overcharging the Brunei royal family and suspended from practice for three years. The courts found her guilty and after her appeal failed they awarded costs against her. This means that not only did she have to pay her own lawyers but also the SMC’s lawyers’ costs.

Acting for the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in the case against Dr Lim were a team led by Alan Yeo, Senior Counsel and PAP MP for Chua Chu Kang (CCK) GRC, and lawyers Melanie Ho and Lim Wei Lee. They submitted their bill to Dr Lim for payment and in one of life’s exquisite ironies Dr Lim herself found that she herself had been grossly overcharged by the MP and his team. Her husband objected to Yeo’s bill and had it sent back to the court to be “taxed” which is the process whereby the Registrar of the Supreme Court scrutinises the bill.

A few days ago I read here that the Supreme Court ordered that Alvin Yeo’s bill be reduced from $1.33 million to $317,000. That is they found the correct amount to be charged was 25% of the original submitted. In other words Alvin Yeo and the team he led had overcharged by a staggering 300%.


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Susan Lim case: Court slashes SMC's cost claims

SMC had sought some $900,000 for work done by its lawyers at the two disciplinary committee hearings led by Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo and lawyers Melanie Ho and Lim Wei Lee respectively.

Assistant Registrar Lee was not convinced by the evidence and reduced the sum to $180,000. She also cut the $150,000 legal bill sought by SMC against Dr Lim for the appeal hearing to $70,000.

The court also disagreed with the sums sought by SMC for the legal assessors hired to advise it on points of law for the two committees. It ruled that Dr Lim should pay SMC only $22,000 of the $235,000 invoiced by the assessor for the second committee.


Recently, the High Court ruled that Dr Susan Lim was overcharged by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) which claimed an exorbitant sum in legal bills owed to its lawyers, Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo (who is a PAP MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC), Lim Wei Lee and Melanie Ho.

These are the items that the legal firm charged and what the courts decided was fair:
  • Total legal fees went from $1.33 million to $317,000.
  • Legal cost for trial: $900,000 to $180,000
  • Legal cost for appeal hearing: $150,000 to $70,000
  • Legal assessment for the case: $235,000 to $22,000
  • Expert witnesses: $52,000 to $14,000
  • Ring binders for documents: $6 per unit to $2.50 per unit

I didn’t know the cost of living here is so scary

A doctor accused of overcharging the Bruneian royalty is accusing the lawyers engaged by Singapore Medical Council of overcharging. Turns out that the lawyers were indeed overcharging the poor doctor. Haha. Poetic justice. I guess it’s a taste of her own medicine for the doctor.

Turn out that one of the lawyers found to be overcharging is a member of parliament. I didn’t know the cost of living is so high that the MP, despite having a monthly allowance of $15,000 have to overcharge the poor doctor to bring home more dough.

I think we need to increase MP allowance so to make my MP life easier. They already have a hard life seeing our faces every week during the meet the people session.

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There is nothing wrong in disagreeing with policies, issues or even ways of doing things.

However, the way of discourse to share our different views must be constructive and carried out with decorum and respect for one another, and in a way where the safety and interests of the more vulnerable in our society are being protected.

What happened in Hong Lim Park yesterday was unjustifiable by those who claimed to be carrying out a "peaceful protest".

MP Intan Azura Mokhtar says she does not know Yang Yin personally
Dr Intan says Madam Chung had approached her to write a letter of appeal for Mr Yang's PR application. -- PHOTO: BH FILE

Member of Parliament Intan Azura Mokhtar said yesterday that she did write a letter of appeal regarding Mr Yang Yin's application for permanent residency (PR) here. But she did so only at the behest of Madam Chung Khin Chun.

Questions had been raised over the former China tour guide's role in the Jalan Kayu Neighbourhood Committee, after pictures of him at various grassroots activities surfaced online. The People's Association confirmed that he had been a member of the neighbourhood committee since July 5 last year but resigned on Sept 8 this year.

Dr Intan, who is an MP in Ang Mo Kio GRC and adviser to the committee, said she did not know Mr Yang personally. She recalls meeting him only when he was participating in a cooking activity.

MP Intan Mokhtar not knowing what Internet hiding is

The Yang Yin fiasco speaks volumes about how the relevant authorities tend to abide blindly to an MP’s referral, and only scurry back to investigate Yang’s PR status AFTER he was called out, by which time he had skimmed off enough of his victim’s generosity to treat his family to Jumbo Seafood or afford to splurge on a $14,000 Frank Muller.

Madam Chung probably realised too late that he ‘loved money’ more than anything, including herself. If the ICA had stuck to their guns, they would have saved the embarrassment for both MP Intan and their own sorry asses.
Intan doesn’t concede that it was a poor decision to push Yang for PR, and proceeds to excrete an even poorer choice of words that makes the doctorate holder look, for a lack of a better word, dumb. I wonder if she knows how to turn herself ‘invisible’ while on group chats, because that’s Internet Hiding 101 for social media ‘noobs’. In any case, this is what you can uncover about MP Intan from the Internet, proof that she can jolly well run, but can’t ‘hide’, including some facts that makes her ‘play dumb’ act rather incredulous.

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MP Intan finally admits writing PR appeal letter for Yang
PRC Yang Yin helping out at a grassroots function, beside MP Intan

After almost 3 weeks of relentless pressure from the public who demanded to know if Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Intan Mokhtar had supported PRC tour guide Yang Yin’s PR application, the MP finally broke her silence yesterday (25 Sep).

She told reporters that she had indeed written a letter of appeal regarding Mr Yang’s application for permanent residence (PR). However, she said that she had done so only at the “behest of Mdm Chung Khin Chun”.

The People’s Association (PA) has confirmed that Mr Yang had been a member of the Jalan Kayu neighbourhood committee since 5 July 2013 but he resigned the position on 8 September 2014. Netizens have speculated that Mr Yang joined the PA’s grassroots to cultivate relationships and improve his chances of getting Singaporean citizenship.

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MP Intan’s & resident’s conflicting versions of MPS event
PAP MP Dr Intan (ST Photo)

Earlier, a resident of Ang Mo Kio GRC, Zulkifli Jabal, published a blog detailing how he was disappointed with Dr Intan’s response when his son went to see her on some matters (‘I’m disappointed with PAP Muslim MP Dr Intan Azura‘).

Mr Zulkifli wrote that a few years ago, his son was conned into signing for an iPhone and later all the telcos went after him for subscription fees.

A conman got his son to sign for an iPhone but did not deliver the phone to him.

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Dr Intan responds to resident’s accusation of non-assistance

On Friday, Member of Parliament of the Ang Mo Kio GRC, Dr Intan Mokhtar published a status update on her facebook to address comments on her based on an article, “I am disappointed with PAP Muslim MP Dr Intan Azura”, that has been republished on two social media website.

Mr Zulkifli Jabal who is a resident at the Ang Mo Kio GRC constituency had written that his son was conned in 2012 back into signing for mobile phones and had telcos going after them for subscription fees. His son had just turned 18 years old and was conned into signing for iPhones by signing up contracts with local telcos while the conman pretended to be a surveyor looking at how the counter personnel perform. The conman took the iPhones away from his son, saying that he will return the iPhones back but was never returned.

He added that although, the conman eventually got arrested by the police; the telcos did not want to waive the subscription and insist that his son pay them in full. Even though they have provided the police report of the arrest to the companies.

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MP needs to explain for shortcomings to be addressed

Some online commentators have been asking Member of Parliament (MP), Intan Azura Mokhtar, if she had endorsed or recommended Chinese national Yang Yin for permanent residency. Mr Yang is embroiled in a court battle over the control of the assets of 87-year Chung Khin Chun.

While the public’s query with Ms Intan is understandable, it is perhaps not fair to the MP if the query is also intended to criticise her for supporting Mr Yang’s application, if indeed she did.

MPs write letters of recommendations for all sorts of things which their constituents request of them – whether it is to apply for welfare assistance, or for job recommendations with the CDC, or to the HDB for housing issues, or even for legal matters.

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MP Intan breaks silence on criticisms

After a week of silence, Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar, People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ang Mo Kio GRC, has finally responded to queries on her role in Chinese national Yang Yin’s permanent resident status.

Speaking to the press on Thursday, Dr Intan said she “does not know Yang personally” but had written a letter of appeal “regarding Mr Yang Yin’s application for permanent residency”, the Straits Times said.

Dr Intan had been queried, especially online and through emails sent to her more than a week ago, about whether she had endorsed Mr Yang’s PR application.

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Hong Lim Park Protestors heckle Special Needs Children from YMCA

MP Janil Puthucheary:
“No excuse for bad behaviour, but especially not directed at kids.”
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Don't politicise Singapore's excellent public healthcare system, says Janil Puthucheary

An MP and medical doctor on Tuesday warned against the dangers of politicising issues as important as healthcare.

Dr Janil Puthucheary (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) was concerned that a different picture was being painted of Singapore's healthcare system, which he lauded as one of the best on the planet, based on the longevity and health of its people.

"The facts are out there together with a whole host of hysterical, irresponsible and inaccurate claims about a catastrophically dysfunctional system," said the paediatrician and medical school don.

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PAP's Dr Janil Puthucheary: I saved kids' lives

"…As for criticism that he did not serve national service, as he became a Singapore citizen at the age of 35, the paediatrician said he has been in public service: 'I've spent the last 10 years saving kids' lives.'"

I am not sure that was a satisfactory response to many Singaporean males. I have no doubt he is a fine doctor and he served the public in this way. But getting all defensive like that just made him look like an arrogant fellow to blokes who have served their NS time (2-2.5 years of active service and 10 years of reservist).

I liked how Catherine Lim (I think it's THE Catherine Lim but I cannot tell because her profile photo is that of a panda. Update: it's the OTHER Catheine Lim) responded to this in a Facebook comment:

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Dr Puthucheary gets too personal with Catherine Lim

As soon as Catherine Lim puts pen to paper, she gets the PAP and its supporters all hot and bothered. Her open letter to PM Lee, published in the South China Morning Post, raised the concern that trust in the government was lacking.

First, Singapore’s consul general in KH (Where SCMP is based), Jacky Foo, wrote a letter to the SCMP to insist that Catherine Lim was wrong, citing a study done that showed trust in the government was high, although he failed to mention that the same study showed that trust in individual politicians was pretty low.

Then a certain (or should I say uncertain) Eugene Tan did some statistical gymnastics on the ST Forum page to try and prove that the PAP is highly trusted

PAP Dr Janil Puthucheary VS SDP Dr Vincent Wijeysingha

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As for criticism that PAP MP Janil Puthucheary did not serve national service, as he became a Singapore citizen at the age of 35, the paediatrician said he has been in public service: 'I've spent the last 10 years saving kids' lives

In a desperate attempt to support the PAP, the government’s mouthpiece Ass Tee published a letter by PAP MP Janil Puthucheary in its Forum page criticising Catherine Lim.

Puthucheary seems to be following in the footsteps of his parliamentary colleague Hri Kumar. Kumar has been trying very hard to get into the good books of the PAP but has failed. This is evidenced by Kumar’s “CPF – An honest conversation” which has been termed “an honest farce” and other unflattering names. Maybe it’s just an honest wayang.

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Janil Puthucheary: I did not do NS, those are the facts

(PAP) candidate, Dr Janil Puthucheary, says that he “felt it was important to step up and stand forward to advocate on behalf of those who can’t do so for themselves, or aren’t heard.” He was responding to a question posed to him on his Facebook page on what he thought of Mr Chen Show Mao (Workers’ Party’s potential candidate) serving his National Service (NS), while he did not.

“I did not do NS, Mr Chen did, those are the facts, yes,” he said.

Dr Janil is 38-years old and is a pediatrician. He received his Singapore citizenship three years ago.

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Wake Up, Singapore
The only reason why Janil Puthucheary is in Parliament is because he got in by the backdoor through the GRC system

We dare him to contest in an SMC in the upcoming elections and campaign on his pro-foreign "talent" platform again, if indeed he thinks he has political courage.

MP Janil Puthucheary, who did not serve NS, said that the government did not decrease the number of foreign workers in Singapore, but increasing at a slower rate.

No matter how you twist your words, at the end of the day you're still encouraging the increase in the flow of foreign workers.

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Hong Lim Park Protestors heckle Special Needs Children from YMCA

MP Zaqy Mohamad:
“A pity that special needs children were heckled by protesters at event by YMCA at Hong Lim Park.”
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Zaqy Mohamad asks about position of Malays in SAF

Mr Zaqy noted that the Ministry of Defence has stated in the past that it is evolving its policy on Malays in top positions in the SAF and "is in sync and aware of where the community wants to head."

But with four out of ten marriages already between Singaporeans and foreigners, Mr Zaqy wanted to know "what will be the position of our Malay sons of Singapore next to those of families with foreign spouses and new citizens?"

When the sons from local-foreign marriages reach the age to enter National Service, he said that he hoped that "our national security narrative pertaining to the Malays serving in the defence sector would have also evolved, and that all sons of Singapore get equal footing in all opportunities, including that in our national security services."

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It's all about the economy, stupid!
File photo of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day parade, held on July 1, 2012 at the Safti Military Institute. PAP MP Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) today asked for the Government's assurance that the status and role of Malay men in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would continue to improve as the population expands with newcomers. -- ST

PAP MP Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) today asked for the Government's assurance that the status and role of Malay men in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would continue to improve as the population expands with newcomers.

He was the latest Malay MP of several this week to touch on how the Malay-Muslim community will be affected as the population heads towards a projected 6.9 million in 2030. They have expressed concern during the Parliamentary debate on the Population White Paper that a disproportionately small number of immigrants are Muslim or from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Mr Zaqy noted that the Ministry of Defence has stated in the past that it is evolving its policy on Malays in top positions in the SAF and "is in sync and aware of where the community wants to head."

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MP asks how Malays in SAF compare to new citizens

People's Action Party MP Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) on Wednesday asked in Parliament for the Government's assurance that the status and role of Malay men in the Singapore Armed Forces would continue to improve as the population expands with newcomers.

Mr Zaqy noted that the Ministry of Defence has stated in the past that it is evolving its policy on Malays in top positions in the SAF and "is in sync and aware of where the community wants to head".

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MP Zaqy Mohamad thanks resident for clarifying misleading article on The Real Singapore

Wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to Mr Lawrence Koh, a resident of CCK, who had the courage to clarify and share the truth, when The Real Singapore (TRS) twisted the facts in his forum letter to the TODAYonline news.

Mr Koh wrote a forum letter to TODAY about how I had helped him appeal to the CPF to use his Medisave for his illness, and he received a reply that he is only able to use it in the event of critical illness. The headline in TODAY was "Cost of Hepatitis B medication in S’pore a culture shock".

However, TRS, not for the first time, put up an irresponsible and vile headline which read, "VERY COSTLY TO BE A HEPATITIS B CARRIER IN SINGAPORE, PAP MP DOESN'T CARE TO HELP ME"

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"Passionate" debate an example of constructive politics: MP Zaqy Mohamad
Member of Parliament for Chua Chu Kang GRC Zaqy Mohamad described the five-day debate on the President's address in Parliament, to chart the Government's agenda for the second half of its term as a "robust" and "passionate" debate

Mr Zaqy, who had tabled the motion of thanks to the President, wrapped up the debate on Friday (May 30). He said MPs conducted themselves with decorum despite differences of opinion, which is a good step forward in constructive politics.

A total of 62 MPs spoke during the five-day debate which featured some vigorous exchange on topics such as constructive politics, immigration and retirement adequacy.

"The passionate discussion and the clashes of ideas we had this week is an example and a good step forward in the direction of constructive politics which means putting Singapore and Singaporeans at the heart of every one of our policy goals," said Mr Zaqy.

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MP Zaqy calls for govt-led plan to improve returns on CPF savings

Member of Parliament Zaqy Mohamad has called on the Government to find new ways to improve returns on Central Provident Fund(CPF) savings so that it is not too difficult for Singaporeans to reach the Minimum Sum they need to set aside for their retirement.

The MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC proposed a Government-backed investment plan that has higher interest rates and accounts for inflation.

This is one way the Government can improve returns on CPF savings, and thereby reduce citizens' unhappiness with the "changing goal-posts" of the Minimum Sum, he said, referring to the increases in the Minimum Sum requirement to meet rising living costs and longer life spans.

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Ms Serene Tham withdraw and apologies for all negative remarks in her letter to TheRealSingapore.com about Chua Chu Kang Town Council and its MP Zaqy Mohamad

I’d like to thank Ms Serene Tham for her withdrawal and apology of the negative remarks in her letter to TheRealSingapore.com. We sincerely accept her apology and will continue to assist her in facilitating her claims with the insurers. On behalf of the Town Council, I hope that we can move on from here and focus again on serving our residents as best as we can. I wish Ms Tham and her family well.

I’d also like to thank all who have supported us through this episode. Have a good weekend.

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Use legitimate ways to push hijab issue: MP Zaqy Mohamad

The way in which some have tried to push for the wearing of the Muslim headscarf in the workplace was criticised by Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad on Tuesday.

His comments came after an online petition was posted by an anonymous person on Oct 12 on campaigning site avaaz.org. It aimed to garner 20,000 signatures, but received only 12,405 before being taken down recently.

Mr Zaqy expressed concern at how the petition involved astro-turfing, in which fake e-mail addresses can be used to sign up for these causes and make the petition seem like it has more traction than it actually has. Legitimate and constructive avenues should be pursued instead, he added.

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Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng probably caught the AWOL infectious disease from her teammate Mah Bow Tan in Tampines and absented herself for a total of 14 times in Parliament.

Another Tampines GRC team member Masagos Zulkifli (Tampines GRC) absented himself 14 times which is the curse of Mah Bow Tan's AWOL.

Zaqy Mohamad of Choa Chu Kang GRC absented himself for 10 times.