Sylvia Lim, chairman of the Workers’ Party, stopped short of apologising for an alleged false allegation, in Parliament today.
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 today, 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:
“I would like to remind members of the house, that they may not abuse this privilege to misrepresent facts or mislead parliament, they are not entitled to make unsubstantiated allegations without taking steps to check the facts or knowingly maintain the allegations that have been shown to have no factual basis.
“By so refusing, her conduct falls short of the standard of integrity and honor expected of all members. I must therefore put the honorable member on notice, and the rest of the House too, that if she repeats such dishonorable conduct and abuse parliamentary privilege, I will refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges.”