Mr Lim Swee Say, the People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate for East Coast GRC, has been criticised for his remarks on China and Malaysia.
In a rally speech on Thursday, Mr Lim was trying to espouse the virtues of being a citizen of Singapore. He made personal references to emphasise his point by relating how his father had come from China and how it was fortunate that Singapore had left Malaysia in 1965.
“Later my father got to know my mother, they got married and had six children,” Mr Lim told the small crowd at the rally.
“If my father had not taken that boat to Singapore, today I might be a Chinese citizen,” he said, and added, “Heng ah!” (“Lucky!”)
Mr Lim then said that it was fortunate Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965.
“Then in 1965, Singapore and Malaysia separated, because Mr Lee Kuan Yew wanted a nation regardless of language, regardless of race – one that is equal,” Mr Lim told the crowd.
“So we can’t stay in Malaysia, as the tenet of Malaysia is: Malaysia belongs to the Malays. So we had no choice, we could only separate.
“So I am thinking, if we didn’t separate in 1965, today you and I would be Malaysians, ‘heng’ (lucky) ah,” he said.
Reaction to Mr Lim’s remarks was swift with many criticising him for belittling other countries’ economic progress.
“It’s shocking to see a minister from a supposedly “successfully developed” nation to talk n behave so insensitive like this,” Mr Kenny Low posted in the Malaysiakini Facebook page. “Very arrogant n I hope he will lose in the GE for him to learn a lesson.”
Ms Eunice Lee said, “No wonder I was told that Singapore is a country without much caring. Malaysia is far behind Singapore now and yes this is truth. But it’s not necessary to bring other ppl down for brighten you up. This is shallow and lame.”
“Surprise that Singapore has such Minister!” Hema Anandan said. “Making such remarks only shows you are no different! See who makes Singapore good by visiting the causeway every morning and evening to know what Malaysians gave Singapore! Just because of s few don’t imply All Malaysians!”
Jack Wong said, “So sorry, our Singapore minister here not too smart. One should never praise oneself at the expense of others.”
There were however others who agreed with Mr Lim.
“While what Minister Lim said may be politically insensitive,” Moo Tan said, “what he said were merely undeniable facts.”
Mr Lim is the anchor minister for his election team in East Coast GRC, which is being contested by a Workers’ Party team in what is seen as one of the main contests in the election.