Shanmugam and Sylvia: the Clash of the Nemesis

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By Augustine Low

Not since the days when Lee Kuan Yew and J. B. Jeyaretnam had frequent fiery clashes have we had two Parliamentarians so intent on having a go at each other.

Sylvia Lim has the knack of getting under the skin of K Shanmugam who does not mince his words and gives no quarter. The Workers’ Party MP and Law and Home Affairs Minister have crossed swords numerous times, the latest being the testy exchange over the impending GST hike timing.

Both are lawyers, both do not suffer fools gladly. Sylvia has the tendency to wade into Shanmugam’s “territory” and he being ever protective and combative, is always up for a battle. The result: they have become each other’s quintessential nemesis or adversary.

Shanmugam is the one with a no holds barred approach, accusing Sylvia of being “hypocritical” and “dishonest” about her questioning of the GST hike timing. Sylvia, typical of such exchanges, stood her ground, but did not resort to name calling: “I can understand why he wants to accuse me of various things because he probably was not happy about past debates, where I had disagreed with some of his legislative changes and in typical fashion he always accuses me of dishonesty, when as far as I’m concerned I acted honestly.”

Following the exchange In Parliament, Shanmugam did what he has done before – take to Facebook to underscore his message: “I have seen her do this several times. Insinuate, never directly accuse, but run when confronted. Insinuate without basis.”

Strong words indeed, but we know better than to expect less from him.

Last year, the two also crossed swords over the presidential term count for the Reserved Presidential Election and before that over various other issues. It looks like we have the making of a long-running adversarial battle as long as Shanmugam and Sylvia remain in Parliament.

There have always been classic conflicts and fights between nemesis – both fictional and in real life. Having a nemesis can be a motivating factor – it keeps each other alert, ready to play ball and up the game.

For a nemesis, Popeye had Bluto, Batman had The Joker, Harry Potter had Voldemort, Steve Jobs had Bill Gates, and our very own Lee Kuan Yew had Mahathir Mohamad and J. B. Jeyaretnam.

Today in Singapore we have K Shanmugam and Sylvia Lim who get under each other’s skin with increasing frequency. Each time they cross swords, temperatures rise in Parliament and the media has ready-made headlines. And we as members of the public either choose to take sides or merely watch from the sidelines.

26 COMMENTS

  1. PAP are full of snakes. Some black and some white. We all know snakes are poisonous and singkaporeans are sinking with their deadly sting. 70% are already paralysed by their sting.
    Hurray Sylvia you have done us proud. You have the antidote to a black sting.
    Produce more antidotes and wake the paralysed 70%.

  2. PAP are full of snakes. Some black and some white. We all know snakes are poisonous and singkaporeans are sinking with their deadly sting. 70% are already paralysed by their sting.
    Hurray Sylvia you have done us proud. You have the antidote to a black sting.
    Produce more antidotes and wake the paralysed 70%.

  3. PM ever commented that the parliament house is too quiet and boring, so we are happy to watch this interesting lawyers on debates!
    Will the citizens of Singapore please vote Dr Chee Soon Juan into the parliament house, certainly the parliament house debates will become very dramatic so that no MP will fall asleep in the monotonous boring debate!!!

    • Yes ! GetDrCSJ in the law maker house come2019! Make those WTG members runs for the tax payers’ money! high time this gang of white termite monkeys to be humbled!!!

    • @Kent Heng
      Please join me in prayers that by GE2019, 30 members from SDP and 30 members from WP will enter into our parliament house, that means opposition parties will win more GRC on GE2019, 3 CHEERS SINGAPOREANS

  4. Unlike the pappies. Say this and that. End up citizens get nothing but GST hikes.
    Pappies not being “hypocritical” and “dishonest”?
    If they lose 2 GRC, they will be careful not to be “hypocritical” and “dishonest” again?

  5. Denial someone a seating in the parliament just because he/she is from The OPP and jumping into conclusion that he/she’s incapability is like promoting someone based on his /her race or gender …..
    We want more “alternate” voices

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