Today’s blog feature is from Koh Choong Yong on his attendance of the recent Parliamentary debates and how Mrs Lim Hwee Hua had slipped up in revealing that the GIC had lost 41% of its investments.
There was also one incident which I witnessed, which is a bad reflection of the personality of a particular MP: Dr Ong Seh Hong. When he entered the chamber, he did the same thing as others, take a bow, and moved to his seat. As he was sitting down, I saw that he popped a candy into his mouth, and with a very fluid action, flicked his left hand towards the back of his seat. When his left hand returned to meet his right, I saw a clear wrapper sitting on the wooden platform behind his seat! About an hour later, I checked to see if the wrapper was still there, this time I think I saw 2 wrappers instead! So maybe that’s why camera phones are not allowed in the public gallery!
She also added that Temasek Holding’s portfolio fell 31%. When it was time for clarification questions, Ms Sylvia Lim rose to ask about the exact figure for losses incurred by GIC, since no specific number was quoted, while the 31% was disclosed for Temasek. Mrs Lim Hwee Hua was stumped for words for a few seconds, stammered a little, mumbled something about “it was reported during the budget debate last week”, while frantically flipping her file infront of her to look for an answer. Sylvia Lim spread her hands in a gesture asking “what number”, and Lim Hwee Hua, after not being able to give a specific number, suddenly succumbed and threw out a number, “41%”. The Speaker was nice to Lim Hwee Hua, seeing that she was not very sure of the number herself, and asked if she wants to clarify the number later. She took the opportunity, and since it was also time for the recess at 1520hrs, the Speaker declared that the Parliament go into recess.
As I stood up to walk out the public gallery to a much needed toilet break, I saw Minister of Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam walk towards Lim Hwee Hua. He did not look fierce, but I assume she must be getting her earful from him right there.
I scoured Straits Times, Zaobao, Channel News Asia, Today, and found no mention of this incident. So if I did not attend the Parliament live that day, I would not have known such an episode happened.
Read Koh Choong Yong's full blog post here.