Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean fired his party’s latest salvo at the opposition Workers’ Party, demanding that the party prove it is “at least able to run a town council” and taking issue with one of party chairman Sylvia Lim’s Instagram posts in a report by Channel NewsAsia.
DPM Teo was referring to the ongoing Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) saga. The opposition-run town council has faced questions related to the management of its accounts. Teo pointed at Punggol East SMC, which had been managed under the same Pasir Ris-Punggol town council until WP won the seat in a 2013 by-election, saying that that town council had gone from a surplus to a deficit.
“Essentially what happened was this: Hougang town council was running a deficit, they took over Aljunied, a town council which was in surplus (following the 2011 General Election). They took over Punggol East from Pasir Ris-Punggol town council which was also in surplus. Now the whole Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council is in deficit,” Teo told Channel NewsAsia.
Turning his attention to WP chairman Sylvia Lim’s new Instagram account, the deputy prime minister went on to say: “Now we see the chairman of the town council saying that Fengshan SMC looks quite delicious. What’s going to happen? You’re going to swallow up Fengshan? For what purpose? To serve the residents of Fengshan? Or is Fengshan delicious because you want to add it to the pot? And help the town council with the deficit?”
Lim had shared a photo of herself eating an oyster omelette, presumable in a hawker centre somewhere in Fengshan SMC. Her caption read: “The taste of Fengshan – heavenly! #reasontowin”
While some agreed with Teo that WP’s running of town councils should be further scrutinised, Teo’s remark has since been criticised as petty and unprofessional by commenters on Channel News Asia’s Facebook post.
WP supporters on Instagram also expressed their distaste for Teo’s comments:
Teo had other criticism for WP too, saying that they were “rabble-rousing” and “inflaming emotions” during the elections only to remain silent on certain issues in Parliament. He also said that WP leader Low Thia Khiang’s reaction to Transport Minster Lui Tuck Yew’s retirement from politics were merely “crocodile tears” and that it was “very characteristic of Mr Low to squeeze the most political mileage out of anything.”
The Straits Times also reported that Teo had said in a closed session with the media that the general election was not about getting opposition voices in Parliament, as the Singapore Constitution already guarantees nine opposition members as Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs).