In elected member of parliament (MP) for Sengkang Group Representative Constituency (GRC), Jamus Lim’s maiden speech in Parliament, he said that Singapore should “no longer privilege efficiency at the sheer expense of equity“. While this statement seems like a sound general principle to follow, it appears to have hit a raw nerve among the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) MPs.
Senior Minister and MP for Jurong GRC, Tharman Shanmugaratnam appeared to be one of the PAP MPs whose feathers seemed to be ruffled by this. In response to Lim’s first speech in Parliament as an elected MP, he cautioned Lim against assuming that he had the “monopoly over compassion“.
For the usually even keeled Shanmugaratnam this seems like a bit of an overreaction. How does saying that we should avoid prioritising efficacy over equity equate to having a monopoly over compassion? This rings similar to the PAP’s Murali Pillai’s sledgehammer attack on the WP’s Dennis Tan when the latter raised complaints about “petty politics“.
The dominant PAP has certainly in the past made general statements about what one should or should not do. Why then is it taking offence at Lim’s general statement? If it was a PAP MP who had said what Lim said, would Shanmugaratnam react the same way?
Is this the new tone of Parliament just because there are a few more elected non PAP MPs now? To go all out to attack every point that a WP MP makes however small?
Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing has urged Tan to furnish evidence of his complaints before making “serious allegations” in Parliament. But isn’t the PAP doing exactly what Chan is accusing Tan of doing with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong calling non PAP voters “free riders” and Shanmugaratnam accusing Lim of suggesting that he had a monopoly over compassion? Where is the evidence?
Shanmugaratnam went on to caution Lim against using straw man policies like saying the Government is only interested in efficiency, not equity. However, is this a misinterpretation on the part of Shanmugaratnam?
Lim did not say that the Government was only interested in efficiency, not equity, he merely said that we should “no longer privilege efficiency at the sheer expense of equity”. That is not quite the same thing! Who is assuming here?
Secondly, is it not a bit rich for the Minister to insinuate that Lim was using straw man policies? Isn’t that exactly what his own government does?
Let’s use the Government’s defence of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) as an example. It keeps saying that CECA is needed for foreign investment which creates jobs for Singaporeans but yet fails to provide specific data backing up this point. Who is the one using straw man policies here?