Calvin Cheng, a former Nominated Member of Parliament, has recently taken aim at Non-Constituency Member of Parliament(NCMP) Leong Mun Wai.
In a Facebook post yesterday (1 March), Mr Cheng expressed his concern about the “falsehoods” and fudges that Mr Leong has been putting out, which he believes could lead to disastrous consequences if left unchallenged.
“He is not stupid. He was a scholar, and a successful professional,” Cheng argued that some of Mr Leong statements, such as his belief that land costs in Build-To-Order (BTO) flats are taxes, are untrue and potentially damaging.
Cheng also criticized Mr Leong’s stance on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which he believes is not the reason why some people cannot achieve their professional dreams.
“I now realise if we treat him as a clown and don’t stop him, the impossible might happen,” he vowed to refute every “falsehood and fudge” that Mr Leong puts out, stating that he is “very free” and has “a lot of time on [his] hands.”
Mr Cheng also expressed his confidence that he is smarter and more capable than Mr Leong, “I am coming for you”.
In another earlier post, Cheng made a crude remark about Mr Leong Mun Wai and his supporters.
“I chanced across a video of Leong Mun Wai 梁文辉 saying that land costs in BTO, is a tax, ” he wrote.
During a recent parliamentary exchange with Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, Mr Leong pointed out that the calculation of tax-benefit and tax-income ratios in Singapore doesn’t consider the cost of land paid by Singaporeans through HDB flat prices.
This gives the impression that middle-class Singaporeans are benefiting from favourable tax ratios, when they are actually struggling with high land costs.
Mr Leong also criticized the government for hoarding resources and imposing tax increases like GST, which negatively affect middle-class Singaporeans.
However, Cheng sarcastically presented two possibilities: either Mr Leong is “stupid,” which he ruled out given Mr Leong’s education and professional background, or Mr Leong is providing “representation” for “stupid people” in parliament.
“In a democracy, stupid people deserve representation too, ” he ridiculed.
Calvin Cheng called out PSP’s proposal as “impractical ideas”
When commenting on Mr Leong’s Facebook post, he further called out PSP’s proposal which aimed at protecting Singaporean workers from various forms of discrimination, as “impractical ideas”.
During the Ministry of Manpower Committee of Supply debate on 1 March, Mr Leong proposed a monthly levy of S$1,200 on Employment Pass holders, stating that it was necessary to level the playing field for Singaporean professionals, managers, and executives (PMEs).
Other policies proposed by PSP including:
- Imposing limits on the total percentage of a company’s workforce that may be from a certain foreign nationality (“diversity quotas”)
- Remove the exemption of SMEs that employ less than 25 employees from the anti-discrimination law
- Include sexual orientation as a protected category from discrimination if religious organisations are exempted from the anti-discrimination law
- Ensure that employers without genuine occupational requirements no longer practice vaccination-differentiated measures
However, Calvin Cheng commented on Mr Leong Mun Wai’s proposal, stating that the suggestion to implement a monthly levy on Employment Pass holders would harm Singaporeans and Singapore as a whole.
“Stop lying to Singaporeans. Singapore has a small market so almost all companies except the mom and pop shops, have to compete globally,” he opined that protecting locals just because they are locals would not work, and it would be more feasible for companies to either move or hire remotely.
He added that the “nativist proposals” put forward by Mr Leong would create barriers that cause Singaporeans to lose jobs to remote working or overseas.
“Stop pulling wool over peoples eyes with your impractical ideas,” Mr Cheng called Mr Leong.
Netizen called out Calvin Cheng for resorting to “childish schoolyard tactics”
Mr Leong has yet to reply Calvin Cheng on social media.
Cheng’s post has generated mixed reactions. While fans on his Facebook page applaud his actions, others have criticized his approach.
Some have called for more civil and constructive discourse, while others have accused Cheng of resorting to “childish schoolyard tactics.”
A debate has ensued among netizens over the PSP’s proposal put forward by Mr Leong to enhance protection for local Singaporean workers.
Netizen Julie O’Connor criticized Calvin Cheng’s approach to calling out Mr Leong and suggested that a more professional approach would be to sit down and discuss grievances with LMW or write a counter-argument article instead of resorting to childish tactics.
Netizens challenged Calvin Cheng to debate and stand against Leong Mun Wai in coming election
Netizen Liu Yang commented on Mr Cheng’s Facebook post, challenged him to debate with Mr Leong, and pointed out that Cheng had not sent an official letter of challenge.
Some netizens took it even further, asking Mr Cheng to stand against Mr Leong in the coming election:
Netizens warned not to underestimate LMW
Another netizen warned Calvin Cheng that he should not underestimate LMW, as LMW is also intelligent, having attended a top-tier school and excelled in the financial industry.
Mr Leong was Managing Director of OCBC Securities, Director of Merrill Lynch HK and Investment Officer of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. He was educated at Raffles Institution in the 1970s, and also alma mater of Hitotsubashi University (BEc) and London Business School (MS).
PAP’s definition of “raiding the reserves” is debatable
Richard Weng who is a zealous supporter of PAP, wrote in support of Cheng’s comments, claiming that PSP’s proposal would “raid the reserves” and lead to a crash in the property market, with billions of dollars being drained from Singaporeans’ retirement funds.
Weng has written many comments and articles to criticise Mr Leong and the Members of Parliament from the Workers’ Party.
However, another netizen, Dan Salvador soon challenged his viewpoint, stating that the ruling party’s definition of “raiding the reserves” is debatable and uncertain whether Mr Leong’s proposal would cause a crash.
Mr Leong also noted in his speech in Parliament that the Government has not explained how PSP’s proposals are infeasible and that the expenditure is taken from the returns of the reserves and not the reserves themselves.
Dan added that measures could be taken to prevent a possible crash, such as reducing the price of new HDB flats gradually and in phases.
Remote working and foreign labours levies have been around this year
A netizen, Jay Kay challenged Calvin Cheng’s opinion, pointing out that remote working and the use of foreign labour have been around for a long time and that levies on foreign labour have also been increased over the years.
Jay Kay questioned why Cheng believes Mr Leong’s proposals would harm Singaporeans and Singapore.
He also added that Singapore provides competitive corporate tax rates and rebates to companies, as well as support during extreme periods such as the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alternative solutions to protect locals while still attracting foreign talent
Dan Salvador also shared his opinion that the success of transnationals may not necessarily benefit the ordinary workers, citing income and wealth distribution in most countries.
He argued that relying solely on private enterprises to provide livelihoods is a mistake as their main goal is to maximize profits and shareholder value, which may not align with providing livelihoods.
He proposed the inclusion of worker-owned enterprises as they allow workers to own the business and receive a share of the profits, in addition to their wages, “Jobs are also more secure because in worker owned enterprises workers determine company policies.”
Calvin Cheng previously incurred the wrath of netizens for asking people to boycott all businesses which only accept cash payment
Last month, Mr Cheng also incurred the wrath of netizens from a post that he made on Friday, asking for shops in a food court which only accept payment in cash, with hundreds of comments questioning his disgraceful act.
Posting two images of stalls putting up signs stating that they accept cash only, Cheng calls for the food court in the Central Business District to “be named and shamed”.
Cheng also posted in his comments asking people to boycott all businesses that do not offer alternatives to cash.
Netizens took issue with Cheng’s comments, with some questioning his “disgraceful act” and stating that business owners have the autonomy to decide what payment methods they accept. Others called out Cheng for his lack of understanding about payment platforms and how they charge fees.