The ongoing reality TV like feud between Dr. Lee and PM Lee has somehow diluted public interest in the disgraceful comments made by MP Denise Phua last week. Her comments which bear no interpretation other than ignorant, bigoted and racist appear to have been glossed over by the PAP majority government. Perhaps, they too have been sidelined by the bigger family dynastic power tussles brewing.
While MP Phua has somewhat apologised for her ill advised opinions, it is important to note that her apology is very much reserved. She issued a Facebook statement asking for the public to “accept my sincere apology if I have caused you concern” as opposed to an unreserved apology for her misguided snobbery. (https://theindependent.sg.sg/denise-phua-i-personally-get-along-very-well-with-the-foreign-cleaners-in-my-constituency). While she acknowledged that she should not have used the “walking time bomb” phrase, she has not apologised for her inherent mindset that led to such an analogy in the first place! Nor has she pledged to take steps to eradicate her inherent prejudices!
The PAP government has repeatedly confirmed its commitment to the fostering of multi racial relationships. Indeed, weren’t the editors of The Real Singapore prosecuted for alleging promoting xenophobic feelings? (http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/former-the-real-singapore/2578924.html) It does seem odd that the PAP has not then taken its own MP to task?
While The Real Singapore was irresponsible, it is arguably clear that a widely reported MP’s words in Parliament hold more power to influence than a couple of editors from an online platform? Why then, the deafening silences?
As I noted in (https://theindependent.sg.sg/denise-phua-should-know-that-segregating-foreign-workers-will-create-time-bombs/), Singapore’s relationships with neighbouring countries are crucial – not just for our economic growth but also for our security. Why else would the government spend so much on defense? Clearly they have security concerns. Why then is an MP who as a member of government whose words can be taken as representative of the government not taken seriously by the PAP government? Are they not concerned that MP Phua’s words can cause a diplomatic incident?
Singapore is a multi racial society. The government has taken great care to reiterate their concerns for racial harmony to be maintained (http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-must-do-more-to/2438094.html).
Indeed, this is even more important in the face of blatant discrimination that has been coming to light (https://theindependent.sg.sg/malay-man-responds-maturely-to-woman-who-claimed-muslims-cannot-compromise/) (https://theindependent.sg.sg/police-report-lodged-over-tampines-1s-racist-reply-to-entrepreneur/). These types of discrimination have to be nipped in the bud.
An MP who seems to be fanning the flames of bigoted ignorance should therefore be taken to task publicly by the party she serves. If action is not taken, then the government’s continued public utterances of commitment to racial harmony would appear to sound hollow.
The PAP has in the past publicly punished its MPs for indiscretions. Michael Palmer and David Ong have been made to resign over their private lives. What more an MP making damaging statements in her capacity as an MP?
While I am not necessarily suggesting that Ms Phua resign, I do think she needs to be publicly reprimanded.
Denise Phua should be publicly reprimanded