Will Sylvia Lim act “as an honourable MP should”? Heng Swee Keat asks

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Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has asked Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim to withdraw her statement implying that the Government’s announcement of the tax increase was “dishonest,” yet again.

This comes after Law and Home Affairs Minister pressed Lim to withdraw her comments during the budget debate yesterday. Heng had also tried to persuade Lim to withdraw her statement, to no avail.

Lim 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.

She added: “So the public pointed out that: Hey, you know, is this a contradiction? And I rather suspect myself that the Government is stuck with that announcement otherwise… perhaps we would be debating a GST hike today.”

Yesterday, Heng tried to press Lim to withdraw her remarks yet again through a letter he released to the media, asking: “Now that Ms Lim has had an opportunity to check the record, will she withdraw her allegation, as an honourable MP should, and apologise to the House? Or does she still hold she has carte blanche to raise any and every suspicion, rumour or falsehood in Parliament, and continue to insist on them regardless of the facts?”

Read his full statement here:

Statement by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat
1. In Parliament yesterday, Ms Sylvia Lim questioned the Government’s motives in announcing an increase in the Goods and Services Tax some three to seven years before the increase is implemented. She said:
“…we do note that in the run-up to the Budget discussion there were some test balloons being floated out about the fact that the Government needs to raise revenue. And immediately the public seized on the fact that DPM Tharman and perhaps other leaders had earlier said that the Government has enough money for the decade. So the public pointed out that ‘hey, you know, is this a contradiction?’ and I rather suspect myself that the Government is stuck with that announcement, otherwise, you know, if their announcement had not been made, perhaps we would be debating a GST hike today.”
2. Ms Lim was suggesting that the Government would have raised the GST immediately, if not for the adverse public reaction when it “floated” the suggestion late last year, and if it had not been ‘stuck’ with a previous statement that it had “enough money for the decade”. Ms Lim was in effect accusing the Government of being untruthful when it says that it had planned ahead, and that its proposal to raise the GST between 2021 and 2025 was the result of such planning.
3. In Parliament, on 1 March 2018, when Minister for Law K Shanmugam and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat both presented her with the facts, Ms Lim admitted she was not certain of the facts herself but would check on them later. She further added that her allegations were based on ‘suspicion’, not fact.
4. The facts are public, and were most recently set out by the Ministry of Finance in a letter to The Straits Times’ Forum Page on 28 February 2018. The Government had consistently said it has enough money for its current term of office, but beyond that, it needed to provide for increased expenditure, especially on healthcare, with increased taxes.
5. The Prime Minister first mentioned the need for the tax increase in his 2013 National Day Rally speech. The Minister for Finance had reiterated this in his 2017 Budget Statement, and did so again at a constituency function a few months later. The Prime Minister spoke again of the likelihood of a tax increase last November.
6. Taking all these statements together, two things are clear: One that there is no need to raise taxes for the current term. But two, there is a need to raise taxes for the future. There were no test balloons.
7. Significantly, Mr Low Thia Khiang himself had demanded of Mr Heng during the 2017 Committee of Supply debate: “If the minister is indeed considering an increase in GST before the end of the decade, I hope he can be upfront with Singaporeans now so that they are not blindsided by the government as they were with the sudden 30% increase in water price”. This is precisely what the Government has now done by announcing the forthcoming GST increase early.
8. MPs are entitled to raise suspicions in Parliament, if they honestly believe them – but honest belief requires factual basis. And when clear factual replies have been given, an honourable MP should either refute them with further facts, or acknowledge them and withdraw their allegations, especially if the allegations had insinuated lack of candour or wrongdoing on the part of the Government.
9. Now that Ms Lim has had an opportunity to check the record, will she withdraw her allegation, as an honourable MP should, and apologise to the House? Or does she still hold she has carte blanche to raise any and every suspicion, rumour or falsehood in Parliament, and continue to insist on them regardless of the facts?

Lim has yet to respond.

“In typical fashion, Law Minister always accuses me of dishonesty”: Sylvia Lim hits back at Shanmugam

110 COMMENTS

  1. This, we now know, is an asshole and he with his coterie of dogs and snakes are the ones who need to apologise. Not only to Sylvia but to the people because as he admitted, over the decades gov.sg had been doing things without knowing everything, ie without knowing exactly what it is doing. The result has been catastrophic- serious damage and consequences to the people including heavy financial losses because of they do not know everything about what they invested in with the country reserves. It is these losses that depleted our reserves from what it should have been. The result of such ill informed and wrongful handling of OUR money: the need to raise taxes.

    • First
      What is Falsehood?
      Support GST hike is NOT falsehood Izzit ?
      Against hike is falsehood?

      As MP, if residents asked her whether GST hike announcement is to “test balloon ”
      She is NOT in position to answer
      Of course must bring up in Parliament
      MPs are our messenger , aren’t they?

    • She did clarify that its HERS suspicion.. suspicion and accusing is different.. Ministers demanding an apology from accusation really speaks for itself that they trying to make her kowtow to them.. when Slyvia Lim have suspicion means she is speaking on behalf of the people in her ward and also herself.. tats the quality i find in her as tats what i call humble yet have dignity for what she stands for…demanding an apology shows arrogance..

    • Patrick Leong As the term suggested , “opposition”…. ain’t they suppose to oppose in events when they need to seek clarification on a matter . It is not the matter of how many ppl you have on your side …. there is only 1 truth and if the paps were to convince …. do it with facts and due respect to their opposition counterparts …. do not act like a bunch of children laughing and making a mockery when others are making a speech ?
      End of the day ,if you didn’t do it , just say you didn’t do it …. simple right ?Threats are the first tell tale signs that you felt fear and intrusion which need immediate abstraction and elimination ….

    • Patrick leong
      If you don’t understand parliamentary democracy, please don’t waste our time. Role of opposition is to question the government in its decisions. If the government has no answer, then it must say so. Then let the citizens decide. Who send this people to the parliament? Remind you they are serving our interest. Slaves like you won’t understand.

    • Firstly I think no matter what sides we stand for…Personal attack and individual pin point is not necessary…This will not differentiate us from their kind and the sincere individual.

      Lastly, Patrick’s reply is about how they will always think and not what he think….How I know? Bec he is one of my closet friend who also struggle seek work opportunity to survive due to massive influx.

      But no matter what…We are not like them and we will not act like them doing personal pin point

  2. HSK u waste ur time studying so hard but still chose to be imbecile.not omly all of u are good at twisting ur words,u all are also good at twisting other pple’s words.well done 70%,this is the QUALITY of leaders u trusted.full of $$ int heir minds n hearts for themselves.

  3. Government would have raised the GST immediately, if not for the adverse public reaction when it “floated” the suggestion late last year, and if it had not been ‘stuck’ with a previous statement that it had “enough money for the decade”. This is what people feel.
    Heng Swee Keat should withdraw his allegation and apologise to the House.

  4. Why is there even a need to apologize when she is dutifully doing her job as an Elected Member of Parliament?

    The budget itself has its contradictions.
    1. Heng says the national reserves is sufficient, yet the government is building the so called T5 and travellers had to help to fund this project. The T4 is currently underutilized by only 7 airlines.

    2. To increase the GST, yet there is no description of how the increase will be used to subsidize the healthcare.

  5. Why always ask for apology?
    She was in doubt so she asked and you provide her the answer and you insisted she must apologise to you?

    IS THIS LOGIC?

    If a student ask the teacher and teacher provide the answer and also insisted the student must apologise?

    IS A ABOVE OUR SCHOOL EDUCATION?

    When I read above, I want to laugh but I have to control myself cause is a Parliament, I don’t follow others laughing even though they are our leaders.

    Is this a democracy or an empire?

  6. No worries, look at the square faced face, full of dirt spots a tell tale sign an acute khama on the way to hit him & the black phanter in no time. With both putting on cunning artificial smile it’ll be soon.

    • That is no such thing as a perfect Govt . That is the problem in the past. The sillyporean 70% always think that every thing is harmony,meek and the political world works automatically for them. So they kept quiet and wait .Not so in the future.

  7. His last neuro stroke damage his brain cells thus turning him into a monster
    He need a brain transplant. Plenty of used but perfectly kind compensonate kind hearted brain in hospitals mortuarys for him to choose

  8. If no one can express in parliament than what’s point of holding it?. May as well tear down Parliament House which serves no purpose at all. Go there tidur is it?. Fieking bunch of useless White Termites!

  9. Alway ask WP prove what they say , can PAP prove is a need to rise want to rise tax all income and expense must show don’t keep tell us until 2020 need GST because many pioneers. They can talk with our showing income VS expenses, only 嘴巴 can already all House MUST listen , WP talk all House ask for prove ????