Monday, 12 March 2018

The 'GST Float Balloon' Saga


Update 15 Jul 2018: Policies, politics and paranoia: Singapore Democratic Party chairman Paul Tambyah goes On the Record

He is referring to WP chairman Sylvia Lim being asked to apologise to the House earlier this year for alleging that the Government had floated “test balloons” before announcing an impending Goods & Services Tax hike. I put it to him that most ruling parties would consider it a natural instinct to defend their policies & make a point of it if they feel the other parties are trying to cast aspersions on their intentions.

“But still, there has to be some degree of balance because otherwise it’s going to backfire. The whole Sylvia Lim example, I think it won Sylvia a lot of sympathy points - the fact that people are trying to make her apologise for asking an honest question. You can say that the question is a stupid question, you can try to criticise her for that, but trying to make her apologise for asking a question seems to be a little bit like shooting yourself in the foot because it makes you come across like a bully.

“In a parliamentary democracy, if somebody asks you a question, you can make them look small or really silly, but to treat every question as an attack on your own personal integrity, to me, that's bordering a little bit on paranoia.”


Labour movement confirms it conducted poll last year to gather feedback on Budget issues, including taxes
Nearly three-quarters of the respondents in the survey said they did not think GST should be raised, and of these, 44 people said the Government should tax the rich in order to balance revenue & expenditure.PHOTO: ST FILE

The labour movement has confirmed that it conducted a poll towards the end of last year to gather feedback from union leaders on issues such as training & taxes, ahead of the annual Budget.

Along with input gathered through focus group discussions & dialogue sessions, the feedback was used to inform the National Trades Union Congress workplan for this year & its labour MPs' positions. But the results of the poll were not presented to the Government.

The NTUC's Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute said this on Wednesday (March 14) in response to queries from The Straits Times, after a selection of tax-related questions from the poll were posted on sociopolitical website The Online Citizen on Sunday (March 11).


Tale of 2 Finance Ministers: One abolishes GST while the other increases

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who became the 7th PM of Malaysia on Thurs (10 May) announced yesterday (12 May) that Lim Guan Eng, also the deputy president of Pakatan, would be the new Finance Minister of Malaysia.

The Star reported that Lim's appointment as Finance Minister has been lauded by businessmen and observers.


“This news of Lim Guan Eng being the Finance Minister is great and very encouraging,” said the president of the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Malaysia. The view is that the son of DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, who was once a political detainee, will be able to understand better the financial needs of ordinary Malaysians.

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Fu sought AGC’s advice before asking Sylvia Lim to recant and apologise

The Straits Times (ST) today reported that the Leader of the House, Grace Fu, had sought the Attorney-General Chambers’ (AGC) advice before asking Sylvia Lim to retract her statement and apologise last Tuesday.

A certain news site has however interpreted ST’s report to suggest that the “PAP government (is seeking) legal avenue against Sylvia Lim after (she failed) to apologise in ‘Test Balloons’ saga.”

Lim 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.

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PAP government seeks legal avenue against Sylvia Lim after failing to apologise in ‘Test Balloons’ saga???

The Straits Times (ST) reported today (11 Mar) that the government had proceeded to seek legal advice from the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to see if Workers' Party Sylvia Lim did breach parliamentary privilege in the recent "test balloons" debates in Parliament???

Last updated on March 12th, 2018 at 05:10 pm
Correction: It was earlier written that "PAP government is making a new move by consulting with AGC to see if there is a legal case against Ms Lim." We have revised the sentence to PAP government made an earlier move by consulting with AGC to see if there is a legal case against Ms Lim as we have been notified that the government had consulted AGC before Ms Grace Fu made an official demand to Ms Lim at Parliament.

Today, ST reported that the PAP government is making a new move by consulting with AGC to see if there is a legal case against Ms Lim, as she did not succumb to PAP's pressure to withdraw her statements and to apologise in Parliament??? Grace Fu told ST, "Ms Lim was in breach (of parliamentary privilege) because she should have known that her allegations were untrue, and because of her refusal to withdraw the allegations even after the facts were clarified."

However, Singapore Management University Law Prof and former Nominated Member of Parliament Eugene Tan commented that although "having the AGC's advice gives the Government a stronger footing in the matter", it is ultimately something for Parliament to decide as parliamentary debates also involve a political dimension and breach of parliamentary privilege may not be purely a legal question. Grace Fu had said in Parliament that it was an abuse of privilege for MPs to knowingly maintain allegations that have been shown to have no factual basis.

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MCI refutes TOC: Govt already sought AGC before Grace Fu asked Sylvia Lim to apologise


In response to an article published by TOC yesterday ('PAP government seeks legal avenue against Sylvia Lim after failing to apologise in "Test Balloons" saga', 11 Mar), the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has written an email to TOC saying that the report is incorrect.

MCI said that the claim with regard to the "Government was now seeking AGC’s advice on Ms Lim’s actions because she did not apologise" is incorrect.

MCI, quoting Straits Times, said that the Government had already sought advice from AGC on the matter before House Leader Grace Fu officially asked Ms Lim to withdraw her statement and apologise last Tuesday (6 Mar).

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Govt sought Attorney-General’s Chambers advice about Sylvia Lim’s Parliament statements


According to The Straits Times on Sunday, March 11, the Singapore government had sought legal advice from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).


The issue was on whether Workers’ Party chairman (MP) Sylvia Lim’s statements in Parliament during the Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike debate had been in breach of parliamentary privilege.

However, it was reported the advice had been sought prior to Leader of the House Grace Fu’s request on March 5 for Lim to apologise and retract what she had said.

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NTUC Members polled: Majority against GST hike

According to the poll, 73.8% said ‘No’, when asked if GST should be raised, another 16.3% said ‘Maybe’ and 9.9% said ‘Yes’

Earlier this week, results of a poll conducted within the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) was anonymously revealed through WhatsApp.

According to the source, there were more than 300 leaders of NTUC who took part, with about 440 responses received.

The results were not entirely favourable towards the proposed increased in the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

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NTUC confirms that survey on taxes was conducted prior to Budget 2018

Singapore's labour union, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has confirmed with local newspaper, Straits Times that it had conducted a poll with its union leaders on issues such as training and taxes, ahead of the annual Budget.

According to ST,  Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute has expressed that the feedback gathered from the poll along with other inputs gathered through focus group discussions and dialogue sessions, was used to inform NTUC workplan for the year and positions for the labour Members of Parliament.

The institute was responding to queries filed by ST on the poll that was reported by The Online Citizen on Sunday.

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NTUC Confirms that Feedback on GST Hike was Gathered from Union Leaders before Budget 2018

The National Trades Union Congress has confirmed that it conducted a poll between November and December last year to gather feedback from union leaders ahead of Budget 2018, which included questions on their attitudes towards a GST hike.

This comes after the survey and its results were leaked to online news agency The Online Citizen, leading to allegations that the government had indeed floated “test balloons” before deciding to raise GST only after 2020.

According to state media agency The Straits Times, NTUC said that the survey feedback was used to “inform the National Trades Union Congress workplan for this year and its labour MPs’ positions” and that the result of the survey “was not presented to the government.”

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NTUC confessed “test balloon” survey for GST increase

In yet another damning evidence proving the Ministers wrongly accused Sylvia Lim for lying, government statutory board NTUC today (Mar 15) confessed that they conducted “test balloon” survey for GST increase in Nov 2017.

The survey questioned 440 respondents if GST should be increased and when should it be done. The majority 38% chose “Between 2021 to 2025”, which coincides with the actual announcement 3 months later on Budget 2018. NTUC said that the feedback was not released to the public and only presented to the government.

A director of NTUC, Steve Tan, admitted he conducted the survey on GST increase on behalf of the government:
“NTUC have been conducting an average of 10 feedback exercises each year since I started heading it in 2015. As the voice for working people, the labour movement needs to be on top of their concerns. As such, we regularly gather feedback, both formally and informally… Naturally, this would include the national Budget.”
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“Leaked” NTUC Survey Suggest GST “Test Balloons” were Launched


A survey alleged given to staff from the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) suggest that “test balloons” were launched before the announcement of the GST hike in Budget 2018.

Local news agency The Online Citizen reported that a NTUC whistleblower had leaked a “short survey on tax matter with more than 300 of its union leaders” in Nov 2017, which included questions on the GST hike.

NTUC allegedly collected close to 440 responses from the survey, and survey results were released in the first week of Dec last year.

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Sylvia Lim will not apologise to House over GST hike comments


As an Opposition MP, it is my duty to watch every move and signal from the government, for the future of Singapore and welfare of Singaporeans. Hence, I admit that I did suspect the Government intended to raise GST. However, the Government contributed to this suspicion by its non-denial of reports and economists’ predictions of an immediate GST rise. Based on the sequence of events, I believed the Government could have intended to raise the GST rate at this Budget.

Thus, during the heat of the exchanges at the Budget Round-up, I articulated my suspicion. In doing so, I believe I was doing my duty as an MP to convey ground concerns, reactions and confusion. I did not accuse the Government of being untruthful as alleged, and neither had I intended to accuse the Government of dishonesty. I do not accept the over-characterisation the PAP Ministers have put on my words and intentions, based on their own interpretation borne out of over-active imagination and over-sensitivity.

Since the Government has now strongly refuted that it had any intention to raise GST immediately, I can accept that my suspicion then may not have been correct.

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Sylvia Lim Refuses to Apologise, Questions if Parliament Practises Double Standards

“I will not apologise to this House because I believe I was doing my duty as an MP in the constitutional role…”

Workers’ Party MP Sylvia Lim refused to apologise and retract her statement in relation to allegations that the government had floated “test balloons” on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike in a heated exchange in parliament today with Leader of the House Grace Fu and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. Lim has maintained that the government has been vague about when it would be raising GST, and that she was voicing the concerns of her constituents. “If MPs believe that something is wrong, it’s MPs job to pursue the facts, and make these allegations in their own name, decide whether something seems to be wrong… then come to this House confront the government, ask for explanations and answers.”

However, PAP MPs Fu, Heng, Indranee Rajah and K Shanmugam set upon her over the past week, accusing her of being dishonest, to casting aspersions on the character of the government. To this, Lim questioned today whether the government has double standards when it comes to clarifying allegations. Quoting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Lee’s comments during the parliamentary debate in July last year. Then, PM Lee rebutted allegations levelled by his younger siblings, Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, over their Oxley Road family home. He had at the time that if MPs believe that something is wrong, it was their job to pursue the facts and make allegations in their own name and ask for answers.

Asked Lim in parliament today: “I’d like the Leader to clarify, is there a difference in standard here? One standard when the PM’s name needs to be cleared and another standard when we are talking about raising taxes on the people?” Lim did not receive a direct answer to that question.

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CAN WE ALL JUST GIVE SYLVIA A BREAK?

Don’t beat a man (or woman) when she’s down. And down, is clearly what she is now

Sylvia had earlier in Parliament, accused the PAP of “testing the waters” before embarking on a GST review. Today, under the pressure of peer scrutiny the Worker’s Party chairwoman acknowledged that her suspicions “may have been wrong”.

An opposition does have a need to float voices that are disagreeable in Parliament, because otherwise…what else would they be opposing?


The intentions of their speeches so far, had been good. They spoke what the uninformed wants the government to hear. This is the field of rhetoric, where passion takes the stage and logic is stripped of its defences. It is dramatic, but it is an important view no less.

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Tan Cheng Bock: PAP ministers brow-beating Sylvia Lim for apology


Former Member of Parliament and candidate in Presidential Election 2011, Dr Tan Cheng Bock has voiced out against the antics of the ministers from his former party, commenting that the ministers had been brow-beating Workers' Party Chairman and MP for Aljunied GRC, Sylvia Lim by demanding an apology from her for comments made on the GST hike.



In a Facebook post entitled "BE GRACIOUS IN PARLIAMENT" that was published on Saturday, Dr Tan wrote that he felt that the ministers from People's Action Party, especially Minister of Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam were brow-beating Ms Lim by demanding an apology for asking whether the government postponed the GST hike because of negative public feedback.

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Dr Tan Cheng Bock 5 hrs


Having watched the video on the GST debate, I felt the PAP ministers especially Shanmugam were brow beating MP Sylvia Lim by demanding an apology for asking whether the government postponed the GST hike because of negative public feedback. Many people perceive this brow beating as arrogance. I remember our former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once told all PAP MPs in 1988 “Any show of arrogance or indifference by any MP or Minister will erode confidence in him and, later, in the government.”

Instead of getting upset, the Ministers should be thankful Sylvia Lim gave them an opportunity to explain. If the government’s position is ‘no’ then just say no and let’s just stop at that. No need to get defensive. As PM Lee Hsien Loong rightly said at the close of the Oxley Road debate: “If MPs believe that something is wrong, it’s an MP’s job to pursue the facts and make these allegations in their own name, decide whether something seems to be wrong, and if you think something is wrong, even if you’re not fully sure, then come to this House, confront the Government, ask for explanations and answers.” I enclose a video clip of Sylvia Lim quoting PM Lee.

PM Lee was echoing the view of our former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who said “All MPs new and old, should speak out. You have to speak up and bring out the grapevine criticism in the coffee shops and hawker centres. It is damaging for the government not to openly refute it with facts and argument. By bringing up apparently embarrassing issues, you help the government openly state the facts and explain the reasons for our policies and so continue to hold the ground.”

So be gracious, no need to over-react or ask for any apology for bringing out “grapevine criticism” or “apparently embarrassing issues” in Parliament.

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WP MP Sylvia Lim won't apologise in Parliament regarding GST hike comments
Workers’ Party chairman and Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim. Screenshot from gov.sg YouTube channel

Member of Parliament (MP) and Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim refused to apologise and retract her statement in relation to allegations that the government had floated “test balloons” on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike in a heated exchange with Leader of the House Grace Fu and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (9 March) in Parliament.

“I do not see any reason for me to retract the statements which I made during the exchanges with the minster…I will not apologise to this House because I believe I was doing my duty as an MP in the constitutional role.”

Speaking in Parliament ahead of the resumption of the Committee of Supply debate for the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Lim set out the sequence of events that led to her suspicions of the possibility of an imminent GST hike, adding that her suspicions may have been incorrect.

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WP chairman Sylvia Lim refuses to apologise over GST 'test balloons' claims

Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim (left), in response to Leader of the House Grace Fu, says she did not accuse the Government of being untruthful. Foto: Screencap from Parliament

Workers’ Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim has refused to apologise over her claim that the Government had floated "test balloons" over the impending goods & services tax (GST) hike, prompting Leader of the House Grace Fu to express her disappointment at the “low standards” set by Ms Lim & the opposition party.

Issuing her statement on the matter in Parliament on Thursday (March 8), Ms Lim, who is an Aljunied Group Representation Constituency Member of Parliament (MP), also declined to withdraw her comments made in the House last Thursday. Instead, she clarified what led her to make the claims.

At the conclusion of the Budget debate last Thursday, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat demanded that the Opposition MP withdraw her allegation that the Government had postponed the hike for the GST because of a public backlash — after having had an opportunity to check the facts.

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Sylvia Lim does not apologise in Parliament, Grace Fu ‘disappointed’

In return, Fu remarked that she was “disappointed” that Lim has failed to say sorry for her “false allegations”.

Fu 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.”

She added that Lim’s behaviour is indicative of the low standards of “the member and her party”. “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,” Fu said.

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Mothership.sg 3 Mar 11:00 am

Sylvia Lim & K Shanmugam teach us new things while fighting.

While Sylvia Lim and Minister K Shanmugam fight over when to talk about the GST hike, we get to learn new things.


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Sylvia Lim Refuses To Apologise In Parliament, Despite Pressure From 4 Ministers

Workers’ Party Chairman Sylvia Lim Stands Her Ground In Parliament And Refuses To Apologise

Ever had that one TV show that you binged in under a day, and will now have to suffer withdrawal symptoms for months until the next season releases? Well, this is the opposite of that.

As you may – or may not, but that’s highly unlikely – have heard, the current sensation gripping the Parliament involves Law Minister K Shanmugam, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Leader of the House Grace Fu and Workers’ Party Chairman Sylvia Lim.

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Guess What? Everyone Squabbling In Parliament Now Is An Aries

Sylvia Lim should apologise. To Singaporeans for failing to create a first-world parliament.
Right now, it looks more like a neighbourhood playground than the legislative body of a developed nation. Following Sylvia Lim’s “test balloon” statement on the GST hike, Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister Shanmugam, and House leader Grace Fu have all lined up to demand an apology from Ms Lim for making “baseless suggestions”.

Sylvia Lim refused on the grounds that her statement was made in “honest belief”.

So instead of moving on, we now have not one, but three fully-paid Ministers demanding an apology from Ms Lim because her honest belief was not honest enough.

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Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat Demands Sylvia Lim Withdraw Her Allegations About The GST Hike

In Parliament, Ms Lim said that the Government had floated what she called “test balloons” about the need to raise revenue:
“We do note that in the run-up to the Budget discussion there were some test balloons being floated out about the fact that the Government needs to raise revenue. And immediately the public seized on the fact that DPM Tharman and perhaps other leaders had earlier said that the Government has enough money for the decade. So the public pointed out that ‘hey, you know, is this a contradiction?’ 
“And I rather suspect myself that the Government is stuck with that announcement, otherwise, you know, if their announcement had not been made, perhaps we would be debating a GST hike today.”
According to her, his was done over the months leading up to the Budget announcement on 19 Feb. The resulting public reaction was negative, with some pointing out the contradictions in that notion. After all, DPM Tharman and several PAP leaders had previously gone on record as saying that “the Government has enough money for the decade”. Ms Lim said that she “rather suspect[ed]” that there was no alternative, and the “Government is stuck with that announcement”. Had they not, she said, the merits of a GST hike perhaps would still be discussed today.

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Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat seeks retraction of statement from Sylvia Lim on GST increase

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has just issued a statement on Friday evening to ask Member of Parliament of Aljunied GRC, Ms Slyvia Lim to retract her statement in Parliament made on Thursday.

Ms Lim questioned the decision of the Government to raise the Goods & Service Tax in her speech and noted that there had been "some test balloons" floated that the Government needed to raise tax. She then commented that she suspect that if not for the response from the public about the potential increase of GST, the government might have raised the GST in this budget announcement.

Mr Heng had also asked Ms Lim to retract her statement on Thursday itself, following the comments by Minister of Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam stating that Ms Lim's statement is "hypocritical and dishonest" before asking her to retract the comments.

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Law Minister K Shanmugam Verbally Spars With WP’s Sylvia Lim In Parliament Over Budget 2018


Ms Sylvia Lim made it known that the Budget would have been passed completely unopposed if not for the inclusion of the GST hike.

She commented that the Government had run what she called “trial balloons” about the need to increase the country’s revenue during the weeks prior to the budget announcement.

From the negative public reaction that resulted, she indicated that the establishment “backed down” but was ultimately “stuck” with it.

Had the GST hike not been announced, Ms Lim said they could have been debating a GST hike that day in Parliament.

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Shanmugam calls Sylvia Lim dishonest, Lim says she is entitled to make GST trial balloon comment
Law & Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam (left) and Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim crossed swords in Parliament on March 1, 2018. FOTO: YOUTUBE SCREENGRABS

In a testy exchange, Law & Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam & Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim crossed swords in Parliament on Thursday (March 1).

Mr Shanmugam accused Ms Lim of dishonesty in "implying" that the Government's announcement of the impending goods and services tax (GST) hike was "dishonest".

"Can I invite her to agree that that's a thoroughly hypocritical & dishonest statement & typical of the statements she makes in this House?" Mr Shanmugam said, calling on her to withdraw the statement.

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K Shanmugam and Sylvia Lim clash in Parliament over planned GST hike

‘Suppreesio veri, suggestio falsi’

In response to Heng’s speech on Thursday, Lim said, “We do note that in the run up to the Budget discussion, there were some test balloons being floated out about the fact that the government needs to raise revenue, and immediately the public seized on the fact that DPM Tharman (Shanmugaratnam) and perhaps other leaders had earlier said that the government has enough money for the decade.

“And I rather suspect myself that the government is stuck with that announcement. Otherwise, if that announcement had not been made, perhaps we would be debating a GST hike today.”

Shanmugam retorted, “Can I invite her (Lim) to agree that that’s a thoroughly hypocritical and dishonest statement and typical of the statements she makes in this House?”

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K Shanmugam, Sylvia Lim cross swords in Parliament over GST hike timing


Mr Shanmugam took issue with Ms Lim's comments that the Government had floated a "trial balloon" about the need to raise revenue in the run-up to the Budget, then possibly "backed down" due to the negative public reaction.

"I rather suspect myself that the government is stuck with that announcement. Otherwise, if that announcement had not been made, perhaps we would be debating a GST hike today," Ms Lim had said.

Calling her statement "hypocritical & dishonest", Mr Shanmugan asked Ms Lim to retract it. "Can I invite her to agree that this is a thoroughly hypocritical and dishonest statement & typical of the statements she makes in this House?" he said.

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Channel NewsAsia March 1 at 9:18pm

WATCH: Minister K Shanmugam Sc and The Workers' Party MP Sylvia Lim spar in Parliament over the timing of the announcement of the GST hike. #SGBudget2018

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Sylvia Lim’s GST “Test Balloon” Comment Has Now Drawn The Ire Of 2 More Ministers

Ministers Request For An Apology As Evidence Stacks Against Ms Lim’s Accusations

During a recent Parliamentary session, Workers’ Party’s Chairman Sylvia Lim said some not-so-nice things about the Government and the oh-so controversial GST hike. Not only did this invoke the wrath of Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, her statements got Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat pretty upset as well.

Unfortunately, it seems like her comments had offended more than just the pair.

Because just a few days later, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah and Leader of the House Grace Fu entered the fray as well.

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WP’s Sylvia Lim’s conduct falls short of the standard of integrity and honour expected: Grace Fu


Leader of the House Ms Grace Fu has expressed disappointment that the Workers’ Party Sylvia Lim despite admitting that her 'test balloons' allegation 'may not have been correct,' adamantly refused to apologise in Parliament for making false allegations against the Government over the timing of the GST increase.

Ms Fu had issued a statement on 6 March 2018 calling on Ms Lim to apologise and withdraw her allegation that the Government had “floated test balloons” on the timing of the GST increase.

Responding in Parliament yesterday, Ms Lim said: "Since the Government has now refuted that it had any intention to raise GST immediately, I can accept that my suspicion then may not have been correct."

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“Disappointed” Grace Fu says Sylvia Lim’s refusal to apologise is indicative of the low standards of Lim and WP

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.

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This Grace Fu Marks International Women’s Day with Parliament Catfight and Personal Insults

If you can’t beat them, then throw a tantrum and piss them off?

That seems to be what happened in parliament today during the catfight between Leader of the House, this Grace Fu from the PAP, and the WP’s Sylvia Lim.

When questioned by Lim as to whether there were double standards in parliament – one for the Prime Minister and one for clarifications on GST – all Grace Fu could muster was a weak attack on the WP and Lim.
“I would like to say that her conduct falls well short of the standards of integrity and honorable conduct we expect of all members. Regrettably to say that it reflects the low standards which the Member and her party have set for themselves with regard to commitment to truthful and honest debate in parliament.”

Sounds like that moment when you don’t have a good come back line and resort to name-calling?

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Grace Fu demands apology from WP's Sylvia Lim for GST ‘test balloons’ allegation


Leader of the House Grace Fu on Tuesday (March 6) called on Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Sylvia Lim to apologise to the House before Thursday, & withdraw her allegation that the Government had floated “test balloons” on the need to raise revenues within this term & had intended to raise the goods and services tax (GST) immediately.

Speaking in Parliament before the start of the day’s Committee of Supply (COS) debate, Ms Fu, who is also the Minister for Culture, Community & Youth, read out a statement which set out the facts and reiterated that Ms Lim’s allegation was without basis.

Her statement came 4 days after Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had asked last Friday if she was ready to withdraw her allegation — which was made in Parliament the previous day — after having had an opportunity to check the facts.

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Grace Fu issues 2nd ‘Apology Notice’ to Workers’ Party parliamentarian in as many months


Leader of the House, Grace Fu, has issued an ‘apology notice’ to another Workers’ Party member of parliament, Sylvia Lim. Ms Fu’s notice is the second one of a similar kind issued to opposition parliamentarians in as many months. In January 2018, Ms Fu asked non-constituency MP Leon Perera to apologise for misrepresenting the facts and misleading Parliament at a sitting of the House in November 2017.

This time, Ms Fu (who is also the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth) asked Ms Lim to withdraw her “allegations” that the government had “floated test balloons” about the Good and Services Tax (GST) hike coming between 2021 and 2025.

Lim 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.

related: In typical fashion, Law Minister always accuses me

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Indranee Rajah Faces Backlash for Renewed Attack on Sylvia Lim over GST Hike “Test Balloons” Suspicion


If you thought yesterday’s long-drawn and heated exchange in parliament over MP and Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim’s GST hike “test balloons” suspicion was the end of the whole saga, well, someone else had other ideas in mind. That someone being PAP MP and Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah.

In a Facebook post earlier today titled “GST Hike: An Honourable Course of Conduct or not?”, she continued to question why Lim had not apologised for raising her suspicion in parliament, and said “that is why the Leader of the House said this was not the honourable conduct expected of MPs”.

However, Ms Indranee apparently wasn’t counting on the backlash she would receive. Many took to her Facebook page to criticise her.

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Indranee Rajah 17 hrs
GST Hike: An Honourable Course of Conduct or not?

On Monday I had posted on Ms Sylvia Lim’s allegation that the government floated a “test balloon” about raising GST immediately, but backtracked due to the public reaction.

In Parliament yesterday Ms Sylvia Lim made a statement on this issue. There followed a long exchange involving the Leader of the House Grace Fu, Ms Lim, Minister Heng Swee Keat and Mr Low Thia Kiang.

When the dust settled, the bottom line was this: Ms Lim admitted that her suspicion may not have been correct.

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Netizens criticise Indranee for “unnecessary” comment


Netizens, however, criticised Indranee for her “unnecessary” comments on the matter. Challenging why Indranee did not contribute her views in Parliament itself, several netizens asked her to just move on:
In the very 1st Place why MUST Ms Sylvia apologies for the question on GST Increase!! She or even the Opposition does NOT have to apologise to such people like Grace FU in the very 1st place….Look they as Opposition have the Right to question the Government and that does NOT make Grace Fu the Government but rather as one of its MPs or Minister and without the GRC Group Grace Fu too would not have got her seat in Parliament. We the Citizen and Tax payer RESERVE our right to even QUESTION you “Grace Fu” & Government WHY the INCREASE for. You (Government) owe us an explanation and just because we the Ordinary Citizen are NOT able to come into Parliaments to SPEAK Up nor are we able to Voice our Unhappiness even in Speaker Corner WHAT utter Nonsense you (Government) Talking about….Do NOT say our “Income Tax & Property Tax” is a small amount that we have NO right over YOU and don’t Threat your Civil Servant that their “Pay Check/Salary come from the PAP/Government” as you forgot the SHIT that the ERP & GST are Money from us Singaporean and ME too….So Madam Grace Fu learnt some Manner before you really get a Face to Face with Me if I ever join the Opposition.
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Facebook post of Indranee Rajah flooded with comments asking her to move on


Yesterday (9 Mar), Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah made a renewed attack on her Facebook page against Ms Sylvia Lim with a post titled, 'GST Hike: An Honourable Course of Conduct or not?'.


"Ms Lim admitted that her suspicion may not have been correct," Indranee wrote. "Yet Ms Lim refused to withdraw her allegation or to apologise."

She then went on to piece together the events after Ms Lim spoke last week, for readers to see.

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Indranee Rajah sides with Grace Fu; explains why Sylvia Lim’s conduct is dishonourable


Yet another PAP parliamentarian has cast aspersions against Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim’s conduct after she refused to apologise for her remarks on the timing of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) increase announcement.


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”.

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Record shows 'there were never any plans' by Govt for immediate GST hike: Indranee Rajah


It is a matter of record that "there were never any plans" by the Government to immediately raise the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Senior Minister of State for Finance & Law Indranee Rajah said on Monday (Mar 5).

In a Facebook note titled GST Hike: A Matter of Record so that people know what this is about, Ms Indranee highlighted Workers' Party Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim's suggestion that the Government had floated "test balloons" about raising the GST.

Saying that Ms Lim was "in effect accusing the Government of being untruthful", Ms Indranee said the Government makes it a "point of principle" to be upfront & open with Singaporeans.

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'Test balloons' allegation, if not refuted, could have led to 'political attacks': Chee Hong Tat



The Workers' Party could have used its "test balloons" allegation on the timing of the Goods-&-Services Tax (GST) "to great effect for political attacks", if the Government had not challenged it in Parliament, Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat has said.

"Had the Government not pursued the matter in Parliament, most people would have overlooked Ms Lim’s 'test balloon' comment.  However, the WP could later use it to great effect for political attacks, including during the next general election," he wrote in a letter addressed to all Singaporeans published on the People's Action Party (PAP) website on Sat (Mar 10).

Mr Chee signed the letter as Member of Parliament (MP) for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. This comes after Senior Minister of State for Finance & Law Indranee Rajah on Friday issued clarifications on the exchange in Parliament on Thu (Mar 8) in which WP chairman Sylvia Lim refused to apologise for making comments about the upcoming GST hike.

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WP could have used GST allegation ‘to great effect for political attacks’ had Govt not challenged it: Chee Hong Tat


Had the Government not rebutted Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim's "test balloons" allegation over the impending Goods & Services Tax (GST) hike, the opposition party could have used the matter "to great effect for political attacks, including during the next General Election", Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat said on Sat (March 10).


In a letter posted on the ruling People's Action Party's (PAP) website, Mr Chee wrote that the Government had to respond because "the underlying sting of that allegation was that the Government was being dishonest with the people".

"This is both false and vicious, & goes to the heart of Government's integrity," he added in the latest exchange between the WP and several PAP leaders, including Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Law & Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, Leader of the House Grace Fu and Senior Minister of State for Finance & Law Indranee Rajah.

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Protecting the Government’s integrity and keeping our debates honest


Dear Singaporeans, The recent discussion on Parliamentary Privilege and Workers’ Party MP, Ms Sylvia Lim’s comments has generated some questions.  My colleague Ms Indranee Rajah had touched on some of these in her recent post.  I will address the question why Government decided to take up the matter during the Budget Debate.


To recap, it started with Ms Lim’s allegation that the Government had floated a “test balloon” about raising GST immediately at this year’s Budget, but later backtracked and delayed the implementation due to public reaction.  After the Government clarified the facts, Ms Lim admitted that her earlier suspicion “may have been wrong”.  WP’s Mr Low Thia Khiang acknowledged in Parliament that “Ms Lim’s suspicion wasn’t really correct at that point in time”, i.e. Ms Lim’s suspicion was wrong, right from the start.

Why was it important for the Government to pursue the matter?  Because it needed to remove any doubt that the Government had intended to raise GST immediately, but then backtracked when it was called out that this would contradict previous Government statements. The underlying sting of that allegation was that the Government was being dishonest with the people.  This is both false and vicious, and goes to the heart of Government’s integrity.

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“In typical fashion, Law Minister always accuses me of dishonesty”: Sylvia Lim hits back at Shanmugam

Netizens responding to Lim and Shanmugam’s exchange online expressed their support for the opposition leader

Lim 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.

She added: “So the public pointed out that: Hey, you know, is this a contradiction? And I rather suspect myself that the Government is stuck with that announcement otherwise… perhaps we would be debating a GST hike today.”

Taking the opposition party chief to task, the Minister asked Lim to retract her statement: “Can I invite her to agree that this is a thoroughly hypocritical and dishonest statement and typical of the statements she makes in this House?”

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The Workers' Party March 1 at 10:46pm

In response to Shanmugam's assertions in Parliament, Sylvia Lim says that, "In typical fashion he always accuses me of dishonesty when, as far as I'm concerned, I acted honestly."

She says, "This is what we as MPs have to do, to get better clarity on matters of public interest. Of course, the Government can rebut our speeches robustly - that's fine. But I don't think I'm disentitled to come to Parliament to advance honestly held beliefs or suspicions."

Vid credit: Gov.sg

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A lot of people need to say sorry

So there’s another apology in the offing in Parliament, making it the second time the Workers Party will be ticked off for remarks made in the House this year. In January, Mr Leon Perera ate humble pie when he had to concede that his remarks about MediaCorp’s editing of parliamentary speeches were misleading. Now it is the party chairman’s turn to face the PAP chorus of condemnation.

It’s getting a little over the top.

So the G is unhappy that Ms Sylvia Lim voiced her suspicion that the Government had intended to introduce a GST hike immediately, but that it backed down after test balloons it floated got a negative response. She said that people noted that leaders, including Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, had said the Government had enough money till the end of the decade.


Netizens thank Sylvia Lim for standing up against “intimidation tactics” in Parliament
Several netizens have expressed their support for Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim after she faced intense debate in Parliament last week

Lim faced off with Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam over the timing of the GST hike announcement. Lim 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.

Taking the opposition party chief to task, the Minister asked Lim to retract her statement: “Can I invite her to agree that this is a thoroughly hypocritical and dishonest statement and typical of the statements she makes in this House?” Lim responded: “I can understand why he wants to accuse me of various things because he probably was not happy about past debates where I had disagreed with some of his legislative changes and in typical fashion, he always accuses me of dishonesty when as far as I am concerned I’ve acted honestly.”

When pressed to withdraw her statement, Lim jumped up and asserted: “I clearly said that it was my suspicion…it’s my honest suspicion, am I not entitled to have a view?” She added: “This is what we as MPs have to do, to get better clarity on matters of public interest. Of course, the Government can rebut our speeches robustly – that’s fine. But I don’t think I’m disentitled to come to Parliament to advance honestly held beliefs or suspicions.”

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Distasteful clash over what should have been a sensible debate on GST hike
This impudence, intolerance, bullying, belittling etc towards Opposition MPs must stop!

(In regards to the exchange between Minister of Law and Home Affairs, K Shanmugam and MP for Aljunied GRC, Sylvia Lim on 1 March) – My take as a Concerned Senior Citizen who has eaten more salt than any of the Members of Parliament.

t reinforces an already ugly perception of elitism, arrogance and rudeness that has been the hallmark of Senior Ministers, in particular K Shanmugam, Chan Chun Sing, Khaw Boon Wan, Dr Balakrishnan, who behave as if they are disciplinary school masters waving a cane, pointing fingers and picking on students they dislike (for little or no reason) in a publicly televised “classroom”.

They forget that people like Sylvia Lim are Elected Representatives of their constituency and act as the voice of the voters they represent. Is it so difficult to behave and act in a gracious, considerate and gentlemanly manner?

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Full Coverage:
Sylvia Lim won't apologise in Parliament regarding GST hike comments
WP's Sylvia refuses to apologise to House, but admits 'test balloons' allegation
Leader of House asks Sylvia Lim to apologise by tomorrow
Grace Fu asks Sylvia Lim to apologise, withdraw comment on GST hike
Deadline to Sylvia Lim to withdraw allegations of “test balloons” on GST hike
Grace Fu asks Sylvia Lim to apologise, withdraw 'test balloons' allegation
Ms Grace Fu, please be objective and use some common sense
Heng: Will Sylvia Lim withdraw remarks?
K Shanmugam, Sylvia Lim cross swords in Parliament over GST hike timing
Inequality a threat to Singapore's solidarity; needs to be looked into: Sylvia Lim
I asked to speak on day 2 of debate: Sylvia Lim
Heng Swee Keat presses WP's Sylvia Lim to withdraw GST-hike allegation
A lot of people need to say sorry
Record shows 'there were never any plans' by Govt for immediate GST hike
Using Grace's arguments, MP Charles Chong should also apologise to WP
Distasteful clash over what should have been a sensible debate on GST hike
No contradiction in Govt's decision to raise GST in future: Indranee
GST hike responsible way to fund spending needs: Heng
Sparks fly, as PAP Cabinet ministers and WP MPs spar over GST hike
In typical fashion, Law Minister always accuses me
Will Sylvia Lim act “as an honourable MP should”? Heng Swee Kiat
Heng: Will Sylvia Lim withdraw remarks?
K Shanmugam: Dishonesty or honest suspicion?
Ms Grace Fu, please be objective and use some common sens
Shanmugam calls Sylvia dishonest, Lim says she's entitled to GST trial balloon
Parliament: Shanmugam calls Sylvia Lim dishonest, Lim says she is
House leader Grace Fu asks Sylvia Lim to apologise, withdraw 'test balloons'
Leader of the House Grace calls on Sylvia to apologise and withdraw comment
Grace gives 3-day deadline to Sylvia to withdraw allegations of “test balloons”
More for sylvia lim gst float balloon
Leader of the House Grace Fu calls on WP's Sylvia Lim to apologise
Leader of House asks Sylvia Lim to apologise by tomorrow, Politics
House leader Grace Fu asks Sylvia Lim to apologise, withdraw 'test
K Shanmugam, Sylvia Lim cross swords in Parliament over GST hike
Discussions over Grace Fu's demand for Sylvia's apology on her GST
Grace Fu gives 3-day deadline to Sylvia Lim to withdraw allegations of
GST: Have a True Picture, not just Big Picture, debate | The Independent
K Shanmugam and Sylvia Lim clash in Parliament over planned GST

Shanmugam and Sylvia: the Clash of the Nemesis
Not since the days when Lee Kuan Yew and J. B. Jeyaretnam had frequent fiery clashes have we had two Parliamentarians so intent on having a go at each other

Sylvia Lim has the knack of getting under the skin of K Shanmugam who does not mince his words and gives no quarter. The Workers’ Party MP and Law and Home Affairs Minister have crossed swords numerous times, the latest being the testy exchange over the impending GST hike timing.

Both are lawyers, both do not suffer fools gladly. Sylvia has the tendency to wade into Shanmugam’s “territory” and he being ever protective and combative, is always up for a battle. The result: they have become each other’s quintessential nemesis or adversary.

Shanmugam is the one with a no holds barred approach, accusing Sylvia of being “hypocritical” and “dishonest” about her questioning of the GST hike timing. Sylvia, typical of such exchanges, stood her ground, but did not resort to name calling: “I can understand why he wants to accuse me of various things because he probably was not happy about past debates, where I had disagreed with some of his legislative changes and in typical fashion he always accuses me of dishonesty, when as far as I’m concerned I acted honestly.”

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WP's arguments "pure theatrics with no substance, calculated to mislead"

Home Affairs & Law Minister K Shanmugam (File foto: TODAY)

Certain statements made by The Workers’ Party's (WP) Members of Parliament during a parliamentary debate on amendments to the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA) on Tuesday (Feb 6) were "pure theatrics" meant to mislead Singaporeans, said Minister for Home Affairs & Law K Shanmugam on Wednesday.

"My conclusion, listening to some parts of the debate: Pure theatrics with no substance, calculated to mislead," Mr Shanmugam said in a Facebook post.

WP had spoken out against changes to the legislation, which allows for detention without trial, with chairman Sylvia Lim calling the move to define the scope of criminal activities an “attempt to make the Minister (for Home Affairs) all-powerful”.

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Sonny Liew added a new photo 5 March at 22:46


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