In an eight-page “rules of prudence” traditionally issued to Members of Parliament (MPs) from the People’s Action Party (PAP) after each general election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that PAP MPs should “observe decorum,” and “ensure factual accuracy,” as “an absolute requirement”. While the PM’s sentiments ring true, why has he not publicly taken to task Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat for saying that older Singaporeans were not ready for a non Chinese Prime Minister at an interview last year?
Unless, the establishment does think that such a statement is decorous and factually accurate?
In the same “rules of prudence, PM Lee also exhorted PAP MPs to be “honest, empathetic, positive and affirming” and to “know your audience and be sensitive to how they feel” adding that social media should not be used to attack another person. While these are very valid reminders, does the PM think that PAP MPs have done this recently?
The coronavirus pandemic broke out a few months before the general election and PAP ministers such as Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo were heavily criticised for the Government’s handling of the outbreak. Teo, in particular was singled out for the spread of the virus within the migrant worker community. While the entirety of the situation and viral outbreak cannot be pinned on her alone, it is strongly arguable that the Ministry of Manpower could have done more to curb the outbreak.
For instance, news that migrant workers living in dormitories catching the virus had been public as early as February but nothing was seemingly done. Yet however, Teo has refused to apologise to the migrant worker community because according to her, no migrant worker had asked for an apology.
Is this honest, empathetic, positive or affirming in PM Lee’s book? Does it display sensitivity or a knowledge of the target audience?
And if not, why has he not chastised her? Worst still, why has she retained her portfolio?
In reminding PAP MPs to be mindful as elected officials and public figures, has he given some thought to the social media posts made by his own wife, Ho Ching?
As both his wife and CEO of Temasek Holdings, it is clear that she is a public figure. She was even influential enough to have caused a diplomatic fracas with Taiwan over her “errrr” comment over facemasks on social media. It seems at odds for the PM to be telling MPs to be mindful of their social media posts when his own wife seems to sometimes display a lack of discernment in her social media posts.
Just a few days ago, she came under fire for uploading a post on her Facebook page that appeared to be taking aim at Leader of the Opposition (LO), Pritam Singh’s announcement that he was going to donate half his LO salary to good causes. Arguably, that could fall under the category of using social media to attack another person.
It seems rather disingenuous for the PM to tell his party’s MPs to behave in a certain way while his own wife (a public figure in her own right) seems to be following her own rule book