The Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) Chee Soon Juan attacked the government’s record of spending, as he defended his party’s policy proposals which have been criticised by candidates from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) for being “tax-and-spend” in nature.
“The real question is not how much a Government spends but what priorities it gives for its expenditure. The PAP has demonstrated shocking lack of judgment here,” Dr Chee said as he addressed a crowd at the promenade area next to UOB Plaza, during this election’s first lunchtime rally in the city.
“The PAP team in Holland Bukit Timah has repeatedly accused our economic policies of being one of tax-and-spend. And that our policies will lead Singapore to ruin,” he said.
“Don’t you think that’s a bit rich coming from (Vivian) Balakrishnan who blew a hole in the YOG (Youth Olympic Games) budget and overspent by S$300 million?” Dr Chee added.
He was referring to the inaugural Games held in Singapore in 2010 which was managed Dr Balakrishnan, who was then Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.
Dr Chee is leading a four-member team to challenge the incumbent PAP team in the Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC) led by Dr Balakrishnan, who is now Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.
At the rally, Dr Chee raised the issue of Singapore’s healthcare spending, which he said is the lowest among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. He said that the Government has since announced a S$4 billion increase in healthcare spending over five years to 2020 in response to calls by the Opposition.
“S$4 billion might sound like a lot. But let me put it in perspective for you. It is the same amount of money that (state investment firm) Temasek Holdings offered in 2014 in a highly questionable investment in Olam International, which was a debt-ridden company,” Dr Chee said.
He went on to list the investments made by Temasek and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation in western banks like Citigroup, UBS, Merrill Lynch and Barclays in 2007-2008 during the global financial crisis, noting that both funds lost a combined S$120-S$140 billion on those investments.
“Sometimes we lose track of the fact that this is all our money. Our CPF reserves, our foreign reserves,” Dr Chee said.
“Meantime, our hospitals face repeated shortage of beds and have to put patients along hospital corridors and makeshift tents.
“This Government accuses us of tax-and-spend but what they will do is take our reserves, go out and make failed investments, and then tell us that they are going to increase our health care spending by S$4 billion in five years?”