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

Lim said she was just doing her duty by reflecting concerns on the ground.

By Joshua Lee | March 8, 2018

Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim has responded to Leader of the House Grace Fu’s demand for her to apologise by stopping short of apologising.

This was after Lim was accused of making a “false allegation” that implied the government was dishonest in their intentions to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike.

Grace Fu gives 3-day deadline to Sylvia Lim to withdraw allegations of “test balloons” on GST hike

Fu made her demand on Tuesday, March 6 in Parliament. She had also requested Lim withdraw her comment by March 8, 2018.

Lim said in Parliament on March 8 that she did not accuse the government of being dishonest, and she was doing her duty by reflecting concerns on the ground regarding the tax hike.

“I do not accept the over-characterisation the PAP (People’s Action Party) MPs have put on my words and intentions based on their own interpretation borne out of overactive imaginations and over sensitivity,” Lim said.

GST tax hike

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat recently announced in the 2018 Budget that there will be a 2 percent increase in GST in the next government term from 2021.

This raises GST from 7 percent to 9 percent.

GST to rise to 9% sometime between 2021 & 2025

His announcement of an impending tax hike caused a bit of confusion, especially since the government had publicly announced that they have enough money to avoid a tax hike during this term of government.

In the lead up to Budget 2018, talk of increasing GST by the government led many people, including economists, to speculate that the GST increase would be announced in Budget 2018.

This prompted Lim to remark in Parliament that the government put out a “test balloon” to test the waters regarding a tax hike.

And if not for the adverse reaction from the ground, as well as constrained by their earlier promise to delay tax increases until the next term, the government would have implemented the tax hike immediately.

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

In response, Lim received pressure from Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Law Minister K Shanmugam, and Fu to apologise for her remarks, although Lim had Parliamentary privileges when airing them 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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