SINGAPORE – The Workers’ Party (WP) has responded to a commentary by Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, Mr Chee Hong Tat, which was published on Petir.sg, the People’s Action Party’s newspaper website.
In the commentary titled “A serious Government and a serious Opposition for Singapore,” published on Tuesday (25 Apr), Mr Chee questioned the Workers’ Party’s change in stance on the Goods & Services Tax (GST).
In its statement on Wednesday, the WP expressed surprise that Mr Chee did not raise his concerns in Parliament if he was unsatisfied with the replies from its Members of Parliament, Mr Leon Perera and Mr Louis Chua.
Leader of the Opposition, Pritam Singh, had earlier pointed out in parliament that the government’s focus on the WP’s stance on the GST serves as a distraction for Singaporeans.
The party also pointed out that they had never called for a reduction of GST from 7% to 0%.
The Workers’ Party noted that the government had not clarified the WP’s stance on GST in previous parliamentary debates or at any time since 2018, including during the Budget debate in 2023.
“If the government wishes to resurrect WP positions from 15-20 years ago, by the same token, the WP could bring up PAP policies from the past for debate today. For example, has the government explicitly reversed it stand on extending HDB upgrading funded by taxpayers to opposition constituencies last, a policy introduced in the 1990s? Was there a post-mortem and closure on that policy?” said WP.
It asked, “If the WP were to bring that up for debate in 2023, would that be constructive?”
The party also emphasized that if they had wanted GST reduced from 7% to 0%, they would have made it explicit. This was also stated by Mr Perera in his reply to Mr Murali Pillai during the debate on the Singapore President’s speech last week.
Mr Chee had suggested that the WP might accept a 9% GST in the future. In response, the WP argued that future PAP governments might also adopt policy positions advanced by the WP, just as they had in the past.
In relation to Mr Chee’s concerns about WP MP Louis Chua’s commercial research paper, the party stated that neither Mr Chee nor any other PAP MP had sought clarification from Mr Chua in Parliament. Mr Chua’s paper advised investors on profitable opportunities in the housing market, emphasizing the affordability of HDB housing from an investor’s standpoint.
The Workers’ Party called on Mr Chee to debate their positions in Parliament, stating that it is not an unreasonable expectation for any serious government around the world.
In a related development, Minister for Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam, had earlier criticized Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, Mr Leong Mun Wai, from the Progress Singapore Party over a Facebook post that Mr Leong made about the disclosure of police investigations on Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern.
Mr Shanmugam highlighted the importance of having debates in Parliament to clarify issues and promote understanding among the public.
He told Mr Leong, “There are reasons why we have debates in Parliament – so that we can debate the issues here, clarify and so on. But when we carry on the debate in a one-dimensional way outside, I think the idea here is to continue that. Because certain statements are made in your statements. I think the request is to let us clarify to make sure that we tease out what exactly is the clarity that the public wants to know.”