WP’s Sylvia Lim refuses to apologise to House, but admits ‘test balloons’ allegation ‘may not have been correct’

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Advertisement Advertisement WP’s Sylvia Lim refuses to apologise to House, but admits ‘test balloons’ allegation ‘may not have been correct’ close breaking news Advertisement Singapore WP’s Sylvia Lim refuses to apologise to House, but admits ‘test balloons’ allegation ‘may not have been correct’
Ms Lim said that while she could accept that her suspicion may have been wrong, she did not accept that her suspicion had no basis. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Workers’ Party MP Sylvia Lim and Leader of the House Grace Fu in Parliament on Thursday (Mar 8).
SINGAPORE: Workers’ Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim on Thursday (Mar 8) responded in Parliament to House Leader Grace Fu’s request that she apologise to the House for alleging that the Government had floated “test balloons” before announcing an impending Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike. She refused to apologise, but admitted her “suspicion” that led to the comment may not have been correct – a point conceded by WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang as well.
Speaking at the start of the Parliament sitting on Thursday (Mar 8), Ms Lim cited media reports and economist comments that led her to suspect the Government planned to raise the GST sooner than its stated timeline of between 2021 and 2025.
“The Government contributed to this suspicion by its non-denial of reports and economist predictions of an immediate GST rise,” she said. “Based on the sequence of events, I believed the Government could have intended to raise the GST at this Budget. Thus, during the heat of the exchanges at the Budget round-up I articulated my suspicion.
“In doing so, I believed 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.”
She added: “I do not accept the overcharacterisation the PAP MPs have put on my words and intentions, based on their own interpretation, borne out of over-active imaginations and oversensitivity.
“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,” she stated. Advertisement Advertisement
In response to Ms Lim, Ms Fu said she was “deeply disappointed” that someone of Ms Lim’s experience would accuse the Government of a lack of candour, and said Ms Lim’s conduct reflects the “low standards” of the Workers’ Party and its members.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat also spoke, saying he can accept that in the heat of the exchange that she may have said things which she did not intend, but that it is “only right and honorable” for Ms Lim to withdraw her “test balloons” allegation, having examined the facts.
Weighing in on the issue, WP chief, Mr Low said if the Government did not intend to raise the GST sooner, there was “nothing wrong” with it making it clear earlier that it did not intend to raise GST at this Budget.
“That would have cleared the air, and the confusion on the ground, of speculating that you’re keeping quiet on raising tax, not mentioning what kind of tax,” he said. “GST is a form of tax, and that contributed to the ground confusion, leading to the impression formed.”
Mr Low added that “it is now “clear that the Government has no intention to raise GST at that point in time” and that Ms Lim’s “suspicion wasn’t really correct at that point in time” as well.
WATCH the exchange in full:

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