At a walkabout in East Coast GRC yesterday (3 Jul), PAP First Assistant Sec-Gen Heng Swee Keat told mainstream media reporters that integrity is important for all political candidates and added that spreading falsehoods as the Singapore Democratic Party’s Chee Soon Juan has done is “not the right kind of politics” (‘Singapore GE2020: Spreading falsehoods not the right kind of politics, says DPM Heng on SDP’s 10 million population claim‘).
“Singaporeans can judge whether you are saying something serious or you are just spreading statements like this with no basis whatsoever,” Heng said.
“This is not the right kind of politics. I think we must be sincere and honest in seeking to serve our people.”
In a live debate on Wednesday (1 Jul), Dr Chee said that Heng had “toyed with the idea” of raising Singapore’s population to 10 million.
Heng responded the next day, saying he had not said the country should plan to raise its population to 10 million, or mentioned the number. In other words, Heng is essentially accusing Dr Chee of spreading falsehoods over the 10 million population claim.
ST: Heng cited former chief planner Liu Thai Ker
In fact, Dr Chee’s mentioning of Heng “toying” with the idea a 10 million Singapore population came from a dialogue Heng held with NTU students last year.
The event was reported on the Straits Times (ST) on 29 March 2019 (‘Heng Swee Keat on S’pore staying open: We don’t want a world where people build walls‘).
At the dialogue, Heng said Singaporeans need to be open and understanding of foreigners so that they have the confidence to interact with people of all races, languages and cultures from around the world.
It’s true that Heng did not exactly mention raising Singapore’s population to 10 million but according to the ST report, Heng did say Singapore’s population density is not excessive and noted that other cities are a lot more crowded than Singapore.
“He cited former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who said in 2014 that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term,” ST reported.
In other words, Heng did mention Liu Thai Ker’s name in the dialogue, whom everyone knows championed the Singapore government to plan for 10 million population. Perhaps Heng should have told ST to make clarifications in its reporting when the news was published last year?
Charles Chong accuses WP of losing $22.5 million town council fund
And may be Heng should also question if his fellow PAP member Charles Chong was spreading falsehoods during the last GE in 2015, and what he did is the “right kind of politics” too?
On 8 Sep 2015 just 3 days before 2015 GE, Chong distributed flyers alleging Workers’ Party has somehow “lost” $22.5 million of town council funds. “The indisputable fact is that when Punggol East was transferred to the Workers’ Party, $22.5 million was transferred to the new town council. That sum is now unaccounted for…,” he wrote on the flyers (‘PAP Sec-Gen Lee pays tribute to Charles Chong: We sent him in to “fight hard and fight smart”‘).
Three years later on 15 Feb 2018, Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) finally said that it has resolved all its outstanding audit issues and ended its engagement with auditors KPMG, concluding a two-year long clean-up of its accounting system and internal controls. In the report, KPMG confirmed it is satisfied that AHTC is compliant with the Town Council Act and that all audit points and control-related matters have been resolved.
Writing on his Facebook page on the same day the auditor’s report was released, then WP MP Png Eng Huat took the opportunity to dispel the accusation put forth by Chong on the eve of 2015 GE earlier, which no doubt, must have swung certain number of votes against WP.
Mr Png explained that by the time WP got wind of the flyers distributed by Chong, it was already Cooling-Off Day. After the election, which Chong won by a slim margin, Mr Png met him to discuss the handover matters. “I asked him about the alleged missing $22.5 million. I told him we would want to return every single cent to PE residents if he could point out what this money was all about,” Mr Png recalled.
“In every audited financial statement since 2013, there was $22.8 million to $26.3 million attributed to PE sitting in our accounts. He brushed off my question and said he had already explained. I did not recall there was an explanation given anyway.”
Mr Png then waited until PRPTC under PAP, filed its annual report in 2016 and noted that there was $24.7 million attributed to PE sitting in its book too. And finally, the KPMG report also exonerated WP with regard to the imaginary “missing” $22.5 million as alleged by Chong.
“I waited further for KPMG to publish its final report to complete the final piece of the puzzle. The final report speaks for itself,” Mr Png added.
“We will never solve the mystery of unaccounted $22.5 million now as none of the audited statements from the two town councils and special reports by KPMG and PwC (hired by PRPTC to also look into the accounts of PE after GE2015) could shed any light on the allegation,” he countered Chong’s 2015 allegation. “The end of the KPMG audit also marks the end of my attempt to find some answers into this matter.”
In any case, the damage was already done. Chong helped PAP win back Punggol East in 2015 GE. Would Heng bother to question Chong?