Yet another PAP parliamentarian has cast aspersions against Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim’s conduct after she refused to apologise for her remarks on the timing of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) increase announcement.
The Aljunied GRC MP had said earlier 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 Lim 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 Finance Minister 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.
In Parliament yesterday, Lim asserted that she was reflecting concerns on the ground and that she did not accuse the government of being dishonest: “I do not accept the over-characterisation the PAP MPs have put on my words and intentions based on their own interpretation borne out of overactive imaginations and over sensitivity.”
A “disappointed” Fu put Lim on notice for failing to apologise. She added that Lim’s behaviour is indicative of the low standards of “the member and her party,” and said that her actions are “deplorable”.
Indranee Rajah shares her take
Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah explained the whole situation on her Facebook page this afternoon and explained why Fu had said that Lim had not behaved honourably.
Adding that Lim’s explanation of her allegation “did not square with the facts,” and that the opposition politician should have apologised and withdrawn her statement:
GST Hike: An Honourable Course of Conduct or not? On Monday I had posted on Ms Sylvia Lim’s allegation that the…
“GST Hike: An Honourable Course of Conduct or not?
“On Monday I had posted on Ms Sylvia Lim’s allegation that the government floated a “test balloon” about raising GST immediately, but backtracked due to the public reaction.
“In Parliament yesterday Ms Sylvia Lim made a statement on this issue. There followed a long exchange involving the Leader of the House Grace Fu, Ms Lim, Minister Heng Swee Keat and Mr Low Thia Kiang.
“When the dust settled, the bottom line was this:
“Ms Lim admitted that her suspicion may not have been correct.
“Mr Low was more forthcoming. He said it was clear that the government had no intention to raise GST immediately and that Ms Lim’s suspicion was not correct.
“Yet Ms Lim refused to withdraw her allegation or to apologise.
“Leader said this fell short of the standards of integrity and honourable conduct expected of Members. Why did she say that?
“Ms Lim gave an extended explanation of why events prior to the Budget Statement had led her to the suspicions she voiced in Parliament last week on Thursday.
“Her explanation doesn’t really square with the facts, but let’s put that aside for the moment, and focus on what happened after she spoke last week.
“Both Minister Shan and Minister Heng had stood up immediately to point out that the record disproved her suspicion, and invited her to withdraw her comment.
“Ms Lim claimed she didn’t have the facts at hand, and promised to go back and check.
“Minister Heng issued a statement the very next day (Friday) reciting the facts, and invited her to withdraw and apologise.
“I put up a FB post on Monday setting out the government’s successive statements over a five year period, which were all consistently about having enough revenues until 2020, but needing more revenues beyond 2020.
“On Tuesday Ms Fu, as Leader of the House, reiterated the facts and invited a withdrawal and apology.
“Ms Lim may originally have been under a mistaken impression. Fair enough. But after the facts have been made clear by four ministers, after it had been shown that her suspicion was wrong, after she herself admitted that she may have been wrong, and after her own leader Mr Low said it is clear now the Government had no intention to raise GST immediately, shouldn’t she have withdrawn the allegation and apologised?
“Yet Ms Lim did neither. That is why the Leader of the House said this was not the honourable conduct expected of MPs.”
Netizens criticise Indranee for “unnecessary” comment
Netizens, however, criticised Indranee for her “unnecessary” comments on the matter. Challenging why Indranee did not contribute her views in Parliament itself, several netizens asked her to just move on: