Following the announcement of Budget 2019, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin said that the budget was not an “election budget” as the Government chose to spend money on building the country rather than on goodies to make the people happy.
Speaking at the Committee of Supply debates on Friday (8 March), Tan said “honestly, if this was an election Budget, you will not see us budgeting for the Merdeka Generation Package here. We will shift the burden to the future”. He added, “That’s what most governments do because the monies can be spent to make all of us happier in so many different ways”.
“A politically astute government will use this dominance and wherewithal to justify even more spending, rather than still talk about prudence, about balance, about trade-offs (and) possible future GST in the next term. It is actually incredibly politically naïve to do so! Which government in the world would embark on this when they have funds and reserves to do so many more things to keep the electorate happy?” he noted.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had earlier answered this concern and said that the Budget is a strategic plan to make sure Singapore’s long-term success is not based on election cycles.
Praising the members who are not part of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), the Speaker said, “I’d also like to highlight that the opposition, at least this opposition presently in the house (and) our NMPs over the years, in spite of occasional differences and disagreements over the details – they support this approach and do not just seek wanton political largesse and populism”.
He continued that the Government can only take this approach if Singaporeans support it, and they can only support this if they actually understand what is being debated in the Parliament and share the same sense of perspective.
“So if we as a Parliament can remain relevant, trusted and respected, our people will afford us that space and mandate to lead and chart the way forward,” the Speaker elaborated.
Responding to Mr Tan’s speech, many netizens felt that a Speaker should be impartial and neutral but Mr Tan seems like he is supporting PAP.
Over 250 comments were written on Channel NewsAsia’s Facebook page regarding this matter.
Some online users still felt like the Budget was indeed an “election budget”.