The criticism Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat earned, in the wake of his less-than-stellar performance in Parliament as he introduced a motion against Workers’ Party (WP) politicians, continues.
In a commentary published yesterday (6 Nov), Yahoo Singapore Assistant Editor Nicholas Yong noted that the motion “should have been a slam dunk” but the DPM ended up scoring an “own goal”. Mr Yong was present in the House as DPM Heng moved to require Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim to “recuse themselves” from Aljunied-Hougang Town Council’s (AHTC) financial matters.
Calling his hour-long speech “harsh in tone but rambling in delivery,” Mr Yong said that DPM Heng – who is expected to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as head of government after the next election – “was supposed to carry the ball” but instead he “fumbled” and “dropped the ball” when Parliament convened on Tuesday (5 Nov).
Revealing that Mr Heng struggled to defend his motion during the ensuing debate, Mr Yong recalled: “Instead, just minutes into the debate on the motion, Heng had to call for a time-out. He hummed and hawed, flipping through his folder like a student stumbling through his class presentation. And it all happened under persistent questioning from Lim and even typically mild-mannered Hougang MP Png Eng Huat.”
The DPM asked for a recess to consider Ms Lim’s point that it was improper for him to raise such a motion. Although WP chief Pritam Singh protested that the House had just taken a 20-minute break, Mr Heng was granted a ten-minute adjournment by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin.
Although other office-holders like Edwin Tong came to Mr Heng’s rescue and engaged in heated exchanges with the WP after the break, Mr Yong opined: “And just like that, the game plan was upended.” He added that the efforts of Mr Heng’s colleagues came “too late to undo the own goal scored by Heng.”
Revealing that this is not the first time he has observed that the ruling party’s fourth-generation (4G) leaders “were unable to think on their feet,” Mr Yong said: “We have been told time and again that the 4G leaders are ready to take over. They need to do a better job of convincing Singaporeans of this.”
Read Mr Yong’s commentary in full HERE.