A candidate who ran for a seat in Sengkang GRC in the recent general election criticised a proposal made in Parliament by his former opponent.
On Oct. 7, former Sembawang GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Amrin Amin shared his thoughts on a tussle between his former anchor minister Ong Ye Kung, and his former opponent in Sengkang, Jamus Lim of the Workers' Party.
Lim had proposed imposing an environment tax on Singapore Airlines' (SIA) proposed "flight to nowhere". SIA has since confirmed that it will not go ahead with such flights.
Send love, not stones down the well
In his Ministerial Statement on Oct. 6, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said it would not be the right thing to do in this climate, and that adding another tax would be akin to throwing stones at someone who has fallen into a well.
Ong acknowledged however that when aviation and air travel returns to normal, the discussion of an environment tax could be taken up again.
In Amrin's post, he said he is worried about the crew members of SIA who have been retrenched, and called Lim's suggestion a "serious disconnect."
He also said that if a PAP MP had made the same suggestion, "many colourful adjectives will be coughed out."
You can see the whole text below:
"I worry about the many cabin crew and staff of SIA who have been retrenched. Passenger volumes are critically low. For the aviation industry, it’s now about trying to stay afloat.
There’s a serious disconnect for Workers Party Jamus Lim to suggest slapping a new environmental tax on an ailing national carrier. SIA had already dropped plans for ‘flights to nowhere’ last week. Times are bad. It’s a struggle.
If a PAP MP had suggested this, many colourful adjectives will be coughed out. But I suppose we can be charitable and just call the less than compassionate suggestion - noise pollution?"
Amrin was not the only defeated Sengkang GRC candidate to refer to SIA's plight on social media.
Lam Pin Min, the erstwhile Senior Minister of State for Transport, also referred to SIA's importance to Singapore's economy, and called it a "national pride and symbol."
However, he did not refer to Lim or Parliament directly. You can see the post below:
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The Singapore Air Hub is critical to the survival of Singapore. Before the COVID-19 pandemic paralysed global aviation, our aviation sector contributed about 3% of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and was an enabler of other sectors such as tourism, financial services, retail and manufacturing, creating many good jobs for Singaporeans. Our National Carrier, Singapore Airlines had provided the excellent air connectivity to connect Singapore to the World and the World to Singapore. She has been our national symbol and pride and will always be. And I agree with Minister Ong Ye Kung that we must do all we can to support and ensure that SIA weathers this storm and emerges even stronger. As he aptly puts it : “What is at stake is not just hundreds of thousands of jobs, but our status as an Air Hub, Singapore’s relevance to the world, our economic survival, and in turn, the ability to determine our own future." https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/covid-19-singapore-air-hub-travel-bubbles-green-lane-ong-ye-kung-13210246
Jamus Lim's clarification of his position
Lim explained on his social media accounts on Oct. 6 that he is proud of SIA and wants the industry to survive, and his suggestion of an environment tax would be borne by wealthier customers who would be more willing to take a proposed "flight to nowhere."
Lim added that he was hoping to "spur some creative thinking about how we can help ensure the future viability of our national airline, without compromising the need to pay attention to the environment, too".
He said that "such creative thinking is necessary to ensure that we don’t spend our hard-earned reserves in an unwise fashion".
Today in Parliament, I posed a question about environmental taxes on #SIA’s proposed (now abandoned) “flights to nowhere.” In his response, Transport Minister Ong pushed back, saying that it was inappropriate to impose additional costs on SIA, even as it struggles financially.— Jamus Lim (@jamuslim) October 6, 2020
Top image from Amrin Amin and Jamus Lim's Facebook pages.