GE 2015: SDP's Chee Soon Juan responds to Dr Vivian Balakrishnan in debate over policies

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Dr Chee Soon Juan during a walkabout at Adam Road Food Centre on Sept 2, 2015.
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Dr Chee Soon Juan during a walkabout at Adam Road Food Centre on Sept 2, 2015.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan has responded to Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan amid their ongoing debate on the opposition party's policy proposals and current national policy.

The two, who are in contest for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, have been debating since Nomination Day on Tuesday.

Shortly after filing their nominations that day, Dr Balakrishnan criticised the SDP's proposed public spending programmes which he said would put Singapore "on the road to Greece".

After Dr Chee rebutted Dr Vivian in a press conference on Wednesday morning, Dr Balakrishnan in the evening posted a Facebook post that began: "Some awkward questions for Dr Chee Soon Juan."

On Thursday evening, Mr Chee took to Facebook with a post titled: "Some awkward issues for Dr Vivian Balakrishnan."

Dr Chee wrote: "The question is not how much a government spends but what priorities it gives for its expenditure. On this score, the PAP (People's Action Party) government has demonstrated some rather disturbing conduct."

He said the Government's proportion of healthcare spend is one of the lowest among developed countries.

"When the SDP calls this out, the PAP responds by increasing the budget by $4 billion - over five years," he said, though he did not specify when the increase began.

"$4 billion is the same amount of money that Temasek Holdings offered in 2014 in a highly questionable investment in Olam International, a debt-ridden company," wrote Dr Chee, though he did not explain why he considered the Olam investment questionable.

"$4 billion is also the amount Temasek paid for Shin Corp," he added, referring to the the state investment firm's 2006 purchase of a stake in the Thai telecoms group that it later divested after it triggered a political backlash in Thailand.

On Tuesday, Dr Balakrishnan had criticised Dr Chee for his "irresponsible" ideas that would "cut essential services and investments including defence".

Dr Chee on Wednesday morning urged Dr Balakrishnan to look at his own party when discussing cutting essential services. He asked: "What is more essential: Our people's health or ill-fated investments by Temasek?"

Dr Balakrishnan on Wednesday evening hashtagged his post: "#RoadToGreece".

On Thursday, Dr Chee signed off: "Priority".

marilee@sph.com.sg