Screenshot of Chan Chun Sing from Facebook video

Responding to opposition MP Leon Perera, Minister of State Chan Chun Sing said that the Singapore government has to be profitable and “earn its keep”. When Workers’ Party MP Leon Perera slammed the Singapore government for raising water prices by 30% and said:

“People have three years to forget them before the next General Election,”

Minister Chan Chun Sing replied that the government has to be profitable:

“The national Budget system is designed such that every term of Government has to earn its keep… Guess what… At the start of every term of Government, PAP (People’s Action Party)… We precisely designed the system such that no Government will come in and promise to spend before it has earned its keep. This is unlike other countries. This is the reason why we have been able to get one dollar out of every five to support our Budget. So we rather err on the side of caution. This is why our forefathers have put in this system and this generation will continue to uphold this system.”

When criticised by the opposition MPs that the Budget is ignoring the sufferings of the people during today’s economic downturn, Minister Chan Chun Sing smugly retorted that the increase in taxes is to “help the people”:

“Is that so? If this is so, why did Minister Heng Swee Keat announce targeted measures to help specific sectors like the offshore and marine? Like the S$700 million we pushed into the construction sector? If this is so, why spend all that we spent for that increase in U-Save rebates, to make sure that even though prices may increase on average, we will take care of the lower-income first? If we adopt such a cynical attitude to budgeting, would we have done this? If indeed this is a cynical Government, then we shouldn’t be giving anything at all. No, this is not a cynical Government and it would be wrong for us to impute our own perverse motives. The Budget is targeted to help, and precisely because we feel the pain for our people.”

Minister Chan Chun Sing, a former army general who has never worked in a private company, then gave a talk on how to manage the economy:

“Managing an economy is not like turning a thermostat in an aircon room. If this Government is not concerned with the short-term, and if the economy goes down south, who can guarantee that in two years’ time, when we want turn it up, it will go up? We don’t have to look too far. The competition across the world is intense. Some countries lose their footing, get into a downward spiral and never recover. Our job is to keep ourselves on a steady path, making sure we address short-term pains while establishing conditions for long-term success. It’s never either/or, it’s always both.”

The Minister, who is also the Government Whip, and NTUC chief, then wax lyrical about a “responsible government”:

“A responsible Government is not one that will raise prices and not take especially greater care for the poor. It is not one that pretends it will make difficult decisions but no one will have to bear a greater part of the responsibility to help those with less. A responsible Government is someone who knows what is not sustainable, and will put a stop to it now.”