Singapore—On Monday (Aug 24), Workers’ Party (WP) chair Sylvia Lim posted a photo of herself along with other WP members after the opening of the 14th Parliament, having dinner at a rooftop bar near City Hall, against the backdrop of the city’s skyline, on her social media accounts.

Ms Lim’s photo included former WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, former MP Png Eng Huat, and MP for Hougang SMC Dennis Tan, among others, and was widely liked and commented on on Ms Lim’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

Ms Low wrote, “A happy day for Mr Low Thia Khiang and Png Eng Huat as well… what a skyline.” The WP saw unprecedented gains in the General Election last July, nearly doubling its seats in Parliament.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong referenced the WP chair’s photo of the Singapore skyline in his first speech in Parliament since the election on Wednesday (Sept 2), saying that Ms Lim’s post had been a tribute to the Government, as well as to the Singaporean people.

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PM Lee pointed out that in Ms Lim’s photo, Raffles Place, the National Gallery, as well as a portion of the new downtown in Marina South, could be seen, saying the backdrop was “brightly lit and spectacular”.

The quotes the Prime Minister as saying, “I thought to myself: She’s paid an enormous tribute to the PAP Government and to the people of Singapore – my predecessors as well as my colleagues in the current Government – and generations of Singaporeans who worked with the PAP Government to make this happen.”

The WP chair’s tribute had been inadvertent, the Prime Minister added, which made it all the more valuable in his eyes.

“I don’t think she intended it, and therefore I appreciated it all the more. Together we did make this happen.”

On her part, Ms Lim made her first speech in Parliament for the year on Tuesday (Sept 1), focusing on the topic of race. Whereas in years past, “talk of race was discouraged,” today is a time of “heightened race consciousness,” she said.

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The WP chair discussed three policies that needed addressing: the current system of ethnic classification and data, voting along ethnic lines, and the HDB Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP).

Regarding issues surrounding the current system of ethnic classification, Ms Lim said “Such serious matters deserve wider study by persons outside the government, such as researchers. There should be public awareness of any challenges faced by particular communities, and a whole-of-society approach should be encouraged. We should strive to foster a national culture, where every Singaporean is a stakeholder in the lives of fellow citizens.”

And, speaking on the EIP, the WP chair said, “Fourteen years ago when the Workers’ Party suggested removing the EIP, it was met with a robust response from the ruling party. The suggestion was labelled a ‘time bomb’. We were also aware that some Singaporeans did not agree with our suggestion. Today, half a generation later, I hope we can have a more progressive discussion on this issue.”

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At the end of her speech, Ms Lim said, “Is a race-blind Singapore a fantasy? Singaporeans have already risen above tribal instincts on many occasions. We can go further, with the right policies and signalling at the official level.” —/TISG

Read also: Sylvia Lim calls for HDB’s ethnic quota and other race-based policies to have an open review

Sylvia Lim calls for HDB’s ethnic quota and other race-based policies to have an open review