Netizens are standing with the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) for its move to debate on the issue of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in Parliament, demanding evidence from Health Minister Ong Ye Kung to support his allegations made against the alternative party on Thursday (1 July).
In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Ong claimed that unhappiness towards Indian immigrants in Singapore is fuelled largely by false allegations made by PSP on how the CECA has allowed Indian professionals to come here easily for work.
Mr Ong said that while there are concerns about racist behaviours in Singapore that need to be addressed, PSP’s “false allegations” on CECA had made it worse here.
“The recent two incidents of verbal and physical assaults on Indians were disturbing and not reflective of what Singaporeans are,” the Minister noted.
He added, “They occur amidst an undercurrent of sentiment against immigrant Indians over the past 2 years. There are concerns from Singaporeans that need to be addressed, but the unhappiness is also fuelled in no small part by false allegations by the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) about how the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) has given Indian PMEs a free hand to come here to work.”
The two recent racial incidents that Mr Ong was referring to are – the first is a senior lecturer who verbally uttered racist remarks at an interracial couple, and the second is about an Indian woman who was verbally assaulted over her apparently incorrect face mask-wearing by a Singaporean.
In the post, Mr Ong said that during the last Parliament sitting in May this year, Law Minister K Shanmugam had urged PSP to file a motion to debate on FTAs and CECA in Parliament.
Given that PSP’s Non-constituency Member of Parliament, Leong Mun Wai has recently accepted Mr Shanmugam’s challenge to seek “further clarification” on foreign employment policies and CECA, Mr Ong said that he and Manpower Minister Dr Tan See Leng will be delivering Ministerial Statements regarding this matter at this month’s Parliament sitting.
“In the run up to the filing of PSP’s proposed motion, we have received many parliamentary questions on the matter, including many from PSP.
“To answer these questions, Dr Tan See Leng and I will be delivering Ministerial Statements at next week’s sitting – he as Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, and I as a former trade negotiator,” said Mr Ong.
The Health Minister went on to note that the duo will explain how important FTAs are to Singaporeans and how they work. They will also be addressing the “false allegations” that FTAs permit foreign professionals a free hand to live and work in Singapore.
“We will also move to open our Ministerial Statements for debate. This will allow members of the PSP to respond to our statements if they wish to,” he concluded.
“We are bewildered by Mr Ong’s baseless allegations that we have contributed in no small part to the undercurrent of sentiment against immigrant Indians through PSP that CECA has given Indian PMETs a free hand to work here,” the statement reads.
It went on to state that Mr Ong’s statement is a serious allegation made without facts as to where and when such alleged false statements were made by PSP.
“Unless there is evidence to back his allegation, the minister should withdraw his statement and make an apology,” remarked PSP.
PSP states that it welcomes Mr Ong’s upcoming response to its queries that will be filed in Parliament this coming Monday and urges the Government to furnish all employment-related data in Parliament.
However, it emphasised that this is a debate about Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) which will be vigorously debated in Parliament by its Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs), and not about racial tension.
Netizens stand with PSP to debate on CECA, FTAs in Parliament
Penning their thoughts in the comments section of CNA’s, Mothership’s, and Mr Ong’s Facebook posts, many netizens stand with the PSP to debate on the issue of FTAs and CECA, saying that the party is “doing their job” to protect the rights of Singaporeans.
They demand evidence from the Minister to support his assertion that the PSP is fuelling the racial tensions among the citizens in Singapore.
One netizen wrote: “If you have no independently verifiable evidence, then are you not speculating wildly based on your partisan political OPINION? Or worse, deliberately spreading an online Falsehood, propagating a libel against PSP/NCMP Leong MW?”
“The PSP is doing their job n duty to check on the PAP govt n protect the interests of Sinkies when the PAP govt has failed to do so. Your attack on the PSP is unwarranted n unfair as they have brought up a pertinent issue of public importance n interest,” said another netizen.
One Facebook user commented that Mr Ong is “shifting the blame to PSP” when it is the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) that created CECA in the first place. Several other netizens noted that they look forward to the debate, urging the Minister to provide “all data” with regards to FTAs and CECA, and hope that the Government will be more transparent on the issue.
“I look forward to more transparency regarding this FTA. Honestly, this has nothing to do with PSP. There are many concern citizens just like me that hope the govt can be more open about this,” said one netizen.