Did PM Lee coach Heng Swee Keat on what to say when Sylvia Lim refused to apologise for “trial balloons” statement?

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While all eyes were on Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu during their clash in Parliament over Lim’s refusal to apologise for her statement on the timing of the GST hike announcement, some Singaporeans have noticed a curious exchange between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

The exchange occurred during the “trial balloons” saga that gripped headlines last week, that began when Lim had said in Parliament that the Government had floated “trial balloons” on a possible tax hike but possibly backed down after the public noted Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s comments in 2015 that the Government has enough revenue for the next decade.

While the Aljunied GRC MP defended her statement as “honest suspicion,” her remarks drew intense flak from Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam who refuted the allegation and asserted that her statement was both “dishonest” and “hypocritical”.

Shanmugam and Heng Swee Keat pressed Lim to withdraw her statement. Heng later wrote a letter and pressured Lim to behave as “an honourable MP should” and retract her statement.

This was followed by Leader of the House, Grace Fu, giving Lim a 3-day deadline to apologise for the “false allegation” or risk further action on Tuesday, 6 Mar. When Lim refused to, a “disappointed” Fu put Lim on notice and added that Lim’s behaviour is indicative of the low standards of “the member and her party,” and that her actions are “deplorable”.

During the last parliamentary exchange between Fu and Lim, PM Lee appeared to be carrying on a private conversation with Heng where it appears that the head of government is coaching the minister who is tipped to be one of the frontrunners to succeed the PM.

A video capturing this exchange in detail has been uploaded on social media. The video begins right after Lim completes her speech, announcing her refusal to apologise:

PM Lee looks at Heng Swee Keat

Did the Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat intend to chip into the call on Thursday morning for Ms Sylvia Lim to apologise for her comments on GST hike, or was he arrowed to do so?

Posted by The Online Citizen SG on Thursday, 8 March 2018

After Lim completes her speech, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan Jin asks House Leader Grace Fu if she has a response or clarification. As Fu proceeds to walk towards the podium, PM Lee can be seen turning his head to look at Heng who is seated two seats away from his right.

Heng, who seemed occupied with what appears to be notes, looks up as if he heard something and turns towards the PM, before gesturing to Fu who has reached the podium.

Shortly after this, Heng has been given a seat right beside the Prime Minister and it appears that Shanmugam and Yaacob Ibrahim moved over one seat each, to make way for Heng.

While Fu and Lim spar over Lim’s refusal to apologise, PM Lee can be seen speaking with Heng, with Shanmugam and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam joining in intermittently.

PM Lee can also be seen holding his iPad and gesticulating towards it while speaking to Heng. Shortly thereafter, he passes his iPad to Heng. As soon as Fu finished speaking, Heng raises his hand signalling that he wants to speak and takes the podium.

Not the first incident

This is not the first time PM Lee has been caught on camera appearing to coach a fourth generation minister during a parliamentary clash with a Workers’ Party parliamentarian over the very same issue.

This previous incident occurred during Workers’ Party Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang clash with Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng.

At one point in the video of the incident, Ng brings up remarks Low had made during the Committee of Supply debate last year: I quote ‘I hope he – meaning the Minister of Finance – can be upfront with Singaporeans now so that they are not blindsided by the Government as they were with the sudden 30 per cent increase in water prices’.”

He then quips, “You can’t have your cake and eat it,” drawing laughs from the chamber – most notably, from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who are seated together.

A video of the exchange shows that Ng is reading Low’s quote from an iPad or an electronic tablet of some sort. Interestingly, after he reads Low’s quote, Ng hands the iPad over to PM Lee, without being prompted to do so. This raises the question if the iPad Ng was reading from was, in fact, the Prime Minister’s as Ng seems to be returning the iPad to him.

As Low responds, WP chairman Sylvia Lim can be seen behind him smiling, with what appears to be disbelief, before she can be seen shaking her head (see 1:35 onwards):

Budget 2018: Low Thia Khiang, Ng Chee Meng exchange words over timing of GST hike announcement

WATCH: The exchange between The Workers' Party's Low Thia Khiang and People's Action Party's Ng Chee Meng 黄志明, after Mr Low called the announcement of the GST hike an "unnecessary distraction".

Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Did PM Lee tell Ng Chee Meng what to say during parliamentary clash with Low Thia Khiang?

 

88 COMMENTS

    • Which party able to lead Singapore?
      Sure, you need opposition to voice your concern.
      However, which party really work very hard to manage Singapore in all perspective? WP can’t even manage their town council fund and maintain a proper record for audit!
      Ask yourself with your heart, do you really think who is able to lead the country and who do you want to entrust you children with??

        • Serious?? Poor thing! Can’t even have enough to draw out at the age of 55!
          If you have more than enough, you can draw out and invest if you are good in investment. If you are an average people, better play safe and put your money in the CPF to earn 2.5% interest (better than the best FD in the market at 1.5%) rather than get cheated by the cuns!
          If you put enough in your CPF fund you’ll get a stream of retirement fund at later years. If you passed on earlier, the money will be transferred to your children. You need to do your maths properly lah…

  1. The reason pap 4G are not ready is that they are only paper smart and good at conforming to political correctness and bingo, they are considered to be the best by the pap…but are actually no match for the real world where the opposition mps grows up in.

  2. A dishonourable rotten top spreads like cancer to the rotten bottom. The whole party has reached 4th stage cancer.
    Absolutely useless heap of garbage and a huge waste of taxpayer”s money.

    You 70% you have seen it for yourself. Don’ t you think it is time to get rid of all the rot?

  3. LHL will be having a hard time managing this country with his incapable lots of MP keep screwing things up. That’s what u get for getting people in position on who u know vs real abilities they have. ‍♂️‍♂️. There is no short cut

  4. Just watch a video on Li Shengwu debate! By comparison, our white monkeys debaters are robots ! They are kampong standard as compared to Shengwu international standard
    Our kampong days, we have watched the puppets show! These puppets are monitored by strings attached to their bodies!
    Robots have no compassion, no brains and live under the instructions of their master!
    They are in the same profession as mediacorpse actors who are trained to speak by reading prescription scriptures
    Voters must think twice as such MP will never take care of your problems

  5. MIWs have alrdy served notice that they would have to spend more times fixing the oppos if more are elected into pariahment. If u don’t apologise they will find ways to fix u up, too, which happened to the Honourable Slyvia Lim. a legitimate elected MP. What are they capable of doing good for the mass ? They may invent new laws again if they cannot get you again for whatever reasons. It”s sad and cruel days ahead for SG !! We feel very embarrassed, our leaders are no longer gracious, but dis-grace-fool !

  6. Just sharing
    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2062656613761023&id=100000501136909&ref=content_filter

    Read Frances Ng’s comments and watch the video here its entirety to observe how LHL desperately gesticulated to HSK to jump into the debate to save DisGraceFu in the “trial balloon” debate.

    But a feeble HSK procrastinated, visibly unsure if he should step forward again and slumped back to his seat.

    The same observation was put forward by another apps group of NUS Political Science students.

    The late LKY would have done it very differently. Instead of pushing his underlings to the forefront he would have taken on the fight himself in thunderous fashion. The mark of a real leader.

  7. All the sub-standard fast-tracked paper generals are just obedient soldiers and obedient civil servants. Nothing else. No spine. No guys. No colour. No leadership. Mere followers of orders and instructions. Pathetic and tragic. Singaporeans are in deep shit.

  8. it would be very shameful for a PM to teach its cabinet minister to hit back and is very uncalled Ethic even if Politics is dirty you should be shameful enough to even get the Tourist and the singaporean pay for your Terminal 5 airport so shameless group of 4G ministers and government.