by N Chan
I read the latest news that Ms Grace Fu, leader of the House of Parliament in Singapore, has issued a statement (more of a threat) in parliament that Workers' Party MP Sylvia Lim should apologise for the "test balloon" claim with a veiled threat of consequences.
I would like to urge Ms Grace Fu, please use some common sense in this whole issue. Ms Sylvia Lim laid out a suspicion concerning a policy action. In no way does this constitute slander or defamation or however one wants to call it along such lines. And that is because in no way does the action even impugn on the integrity of anyone. That is what academics, analysts and experts do to analyse a matter. So are you trying to say that even proper and common methods of analysis are engagements of dishonesty?
Also, even if your government does not like the "test balloon" claim by Miss Sylvia Lim, it has only itself to blame. PM Lee, lest you forget, in your party's convention late last year, made the announcement of tax hikes.
This followed by speculation by the press, analysts and economists that the tax hike would come with the Budget Announcement this year. Your party's secretary general, PM Lee, did not give any clear timeline on when the new taxes would come about. Especially so at the back of your colleague, DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam's assurance to the voters in GE 2015 that the government has enough budget and a tax hike as such is unlikely.
But neither PM Lee nor DMP Tharman or anyone in your government took any effort to try to quell speculation that the GST hike would be sometime between 2018-2019. With the announcement that the GST hike would only be in 2021, the chain of events had all the image and hallmarks of floating test balloons.
What Ms Sylvia Lim did was no dishonest act. It was a conclusion drawn from an inference of the given set of information and data which any decent academic or analyst would have made. By threatening and even possibly penalising Ms Sylvia Lim, you are threatening and penalising proper procedures of analysis one would use to analyse a given policy case.