In a lengthy speech delivered by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Parliament on Wednesday (2 Sept), he called people who did not vote for the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) “free riders“. This rightly incited the ire of Pritam Singh, who as Leader of the Opposition refuted Lee’s assertions.
A day after the general election of July 2020, Lee had said :“My team and I will serve all Singaporeans, whichever party you vote for……Whether or not you voted for the PAP, we will listen to you, do our best to address your concerns and try to win your support.”
In just two months, it seems that Lee has changed his tone where non PAP voters are concerned.
How can he pledge to “listen” if in his mind, he has already labelled them “free riders”? How can he do his best to address concerns and win support if he has already dismissed them as some how lesser than PAP voters?
Lee’s statements yesterday were disappointing and makes his July pledges seem completely disingenuous.
Lee should also be reminded that all of the PAP’s policies are funded by state monies. State monies belong to all voters who have jointly contributed to the state coffers. This means that even though non PAP voters did not vote for him, they are still contributing to his salary and that of the rest of his party in power. All policies initiated by the Government are also paid for by the tax contributions of PAP and non PAP voters alike. Where is the free riding here?
How you vote has nothing to do with free riding when the benefits of Government policies are funded by taxes! Unless Lee is suggesting that the PAP has paid for the policies?
Is Lee confusing statehood with partyhood? Is Lee implying that non PAP voters do not contribute to the tax pot in Singapore?
If so, this line of reasoning and mindset is not only flawed, but scary!
In one vein, Speaker of Parliament, Tan Chuan Jin has called for all members of parliament (MP) of the 14th Parliament not to be fractious while Lee has himself called for unity when he formed Cabinet after the election.
“The elections are behind us. Whatever our political persuasions, never forget that we are first and foremost Singaporeans…..Let us all unite and focus our energies on the major challenges ahead.”
Yet, who is the one causing division and fractiousness now?
How can he say we are all Singaporeans first and foremost just to turn around and call non PAP voters free riders just a few weeks later?
Where is the consistency? Where is the sincerity? Is it party over state where Lee is concerned?