In a recent political controversy that has gripped Singapore, Lim Tean, the leader of the People’s Voice Party, has strongly reacted to a comment made by Mr Tan Chuan Jin, Speaker of the Parliament, calling for him to resign as Speaker and a Committee on Privileges to be convened over him calling another Member of Parliament, a “fxxking populist”.
The comment was apparently made in response to a speech by Associate Professor Jamus Lim, Member of Parliament for Seng Kang GRC from the Workers’ Party.
Mr Lim Tean addressed his fellow Singaporeans in a video message posted on Tuesday, saying, “I woke up this morning to many messages in my WhatsApp…they showed a TikTok video of Jamus Lim speaking in Parliament in April this year on the Silver Support Scheme and asking why that scheme was so restricted.”
Mr Lim then turned to the controversial part of the incident, stating, “I was absolutely shocked when after Jamus spoke, the Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan Jin… was heard muttering what might be the words ‘fxxking populist’.”
Mr Tan is also a Central Executive Committee member of the People’s Action Party and a former Brigadier General.
Challenging the Speaker’s response, Mr Lim emphasized, “Let me repeat the word again. ‘Fxxking populist’. Well, I’m not saying it as bad as you know it should sound all right…But, my friends, this is not acceptable.”
The chief of Peoples Voice further mentioned that Mr Tan Chuan Jin had issued an apology on Facebook, but he considers this insufficient.
In a damning critique of Mr Tan’s capabilities, Mr Lim declared, “I have always said that Tan Chuan Jin is not fit to be the Speaker of Parliament. He does not know how to do his job…A Speaker of Parliament must be someone who is totally impartial.”
Mr Lim also drew attention to the handling of parliamentary affairs in other countries, including the House of Commons and the Australian Parliament, emphasizing their impartiality in contrast to the alleged bias of Mr Tan.
In the wake of the incident, Mr Lim has called for Mr Tan’s resignation as the Speaker of the House and for the Leader of the House, Indranee Rajah, to launch a Committee of Privileges to investigate the matter.
“To me, this is such a grave offence. It merits expulsion. And if Tanjung Jin has any decency, he will resign immediately as the Speaker of the House. Because we can’t have a person like him be the ultimate symbol of Parliament,” said Mr Lim in his video address.
Mr Lim Tean ended his address by formally calling for the “immediate resignation of Tan Chuan Jin” and for “Indranee Rajah to call for the Committee on Privileges”. The call, he states, is on behalf of the People’s Voice and an alliance formed with three other parties.
“Fxxking populist” in response to speech on establishing a poverty line
In his address on 17 April, Asst Prof Lim emphasized the need for an official poverty line in Singapore. He criticized the current system of varying benchmarks as confusing and inefficient in identifying and aiding the economically vulnerable.
Asst Prof Lim argued for an expanded definition of “basic needs”, including elements such as smartphones, holidays, and cultural gifts that are crucial for societal participation and mental health.
The Associate Professor faulted the government for overlooking these aspects and the psychological toll of poverty.
This oversight, he claimed, resulted in a disconnect between government policies and Singaporeans’ perception of a fulfilling life.
Asst Prof Lim suggested establishing a committee composed of members from civil society, academia, and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), to define a comprehensive poverty line.
This would then serve as a benchmark to revise government assistance thresholds and the Local Qualifying Salary.
Furthermore, Asst Prof Lim called for improvements to the ComCare system, labelling it as intrusive and miserly.
He proposed less rigorous pre-approval scrutiny and implementing more conditional cash transfers. He also criticized the low support amounts and income threshold of Workfare, urging enhancements to support parents and younger workers.
The contentious whisper was heard just as People’s Action Party (PAP) MP for Sembawang GRC, Mr Vikram Nair, prepared to take the stage.
Following the public outcry over the revelation, Mr Tan Chuan Jin, Speaker of Parliament, in a Facebook post on Tuesday, admitted that he was the culprit who made the remark.
Mr Tan acknowledged in his post that he had listened to the video and identified the remark as his own.
He clarified that these were private thoughts he had inadvertently uttered and apologized for his unparliamentary language.
Mr Tan further mentioned that he had personally apologized to Asst Prof Lim, who accepted his apology.
It should be noted that Mr Tan had been the Minister for Social and Family Development between 2015 and 2017 before his appointment as Speaker of the Parliament in 2017.
Just last week, the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) and Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), Leong Mun Wai, were compelled to make a public apology after the Leader of the House, Indranee Rajah, insisted on an apology for a Facebook post made by the alternative political party.
Ms Indranee accused the PSP and Mr. Leong of conveying a misleading impression with a Facebook video that the party posted of an exchange in Parliament, which she claimed did not comply with the Parliamentary Privileges, Immunities, and Powers Act (PPIPA).