Like walking past a gate of ferocious barking guard dogs, opposition party WP has chosen to ignore the comments of Minister Indranee Rajah and Minister Chee Hong Tat, telling state media reporters that they would not entertain them with a response.
The two PAP Ministers joined the foray after two Parliament sessions where Law Minister K Shanmugam, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Culture Minister Grace Fu made disparaging remarks on WP MP Sylvia Lim when she presented her opposition to the GST increase.
Minister Grace Fu sought the Attorney-General’s advice and issued a threat last Monday, demanding that the opposition MP “apologise by Thursday or else”. The opposition MP then were made to repeat three times that she is not apologising or retracting her statements, infuriating Minister Grace Fu. The Leader of the House is now contemplating to set up a Select Committee to prosecute the opposition MP, who may face a 2 year’ jail and a fine up to S$50,000.
Despite being silent during the debate in Parliament, Minister Indranee Rajah and Minister Chee Hong Tat followed up on the parliament session calling MP Sylvia Lim “dishonourable”. State media reporters were however disappointed that the WP MP and the opposition party has chosen not to respond to the Ministers’ defamatory remarks.
Many Singaporeans have rallied behind MP Sylvia Lim saying that she should not apologise for questioning the government, and that the purpose of Parliament is exactly to question government policies. Political observers commented that the Ministers are being belligerent and arrogant, with former PAP MP Dr Tan Cheng Bock singling out Law Minister K Shanmugam. Ground sentiments have also been one-sided, with few agreeing with the ruling party Ministers.
Nonetheless, the opposition MP could face a potential repercussion for her non-compliance under a parliament privileges act passed down from the 1962 British colonial government.