Former Member of Parliament and candidate in Presidential Election 2011, Dr Tan Cheng Bock has voiced out against the antics of the ministers from his former party, commenting that the ministers had been brow-beating Workers' Party Chairman and MP for Aljunied GRC, Sylvia Lim by demanding an apology from her for comments made on the GST hike.
In a Facebook post entitled "BE GRACIOUS IN PARLIAMENT" that was published on Saturday, Dr Tan wrote that he felt that the ministers from People's Action Party, especially Minister of Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam were brow-beating Ms Lim by demanding an apology for asking whether the government postponed the GST hike because of negative public feedback.
Dr Tan wrote,
Many people perceive this brow beating as arrogance. I remember our former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once told all PAP MPs in 1988 “Any show of arrogance or indifference by any MP or Minister will erode confidence in him and, later, in the government.”
Instead of getting upset, the Ministers should be thankful Sylvia Lim gave them an opportunity to explain. If the government’s position is ‘no’ then just say no and let’s just stop at that. No need to get defensive.
He further pointed to the statement made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the close of the Oxley Road debate in Parliament, where Mr Lee said, “If MPs believe that something is wrong, it’s an MP’s job to pursue the facts and make these allegations in their own name, decide whether something seems to be wrong, and if you think something is wrong, even if you’re not fully sure, then come to this House, confront the Government, ask for explanations and answers.”
Dr Tan noted that Ms Lim had also raised the reference in her speech in the last day of the parliamentary debates and shared the video of Ms Lim speaking in Parliament.
He further wrote that PM Lee was echoing the view of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who said “All MPs new and old, should speak out. You have to speak up and bring out the grapevine criticism in the coffee shops and hawker centres. It is damaging for the government not to openly refute it with facts and argument. By bringing up apparently embarrassing issues, you help the government openly state the facts and explain the reasons for our policies and so continue to hold the ground.”
So far, Leader of the House, Grace Fu, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Mr Shanmugam, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Law, Indranee Rajah and Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Health and Communication and Information, Chee Hong Tat have relentlessly called for Ms Lim to apologise and criticised her as being dishonest, dishonourable for not apologising when presented with facts of the matter.
Dr Tan concluded his message by writing, "So be gracious, no need to over-react or ask for any apology for bringing out “grapevine criticism” or “apparently embarrassing issues” in Parliament."
Elected Malay President quiet over the "say sorry" saga
Sharing close to 2,000 times, and making over 300 comments, supporters of Dr Tan expressed gratitude for his comments on the behaviour of the PAP MPs.
Dr Tan had earlier expressed interest in contesting in the Presidential Election 2017 after his near win at PE2011. However, he was disqualified from standing in the election after the Parliament passed amendments to the Presidential Election which introduced reserved election for racial minority and increasing the criteria for private candidates from managing $100 million companies to $500 million.
Both Malay private candidates who had expressed interest in standing for the election were also disqualified by the Election Committee for not meeting the increased criteria which was introduced a few months before the election in 2017.
On the other hand, the elected Singapore President Halimah Yacob who had a walkover victory at the Presidential Election has not made any comments on what transpired in Parliament for the last past weeks. From her Facebook postings, she seems to be busy with attending events at gardens and luncheons.