SDP rally

PAP lacks judgment in spending decisions: Chee

Dr Chee Soon Juan taking pictures with members of the public during a book signing session after yesterday's rally.
Dr Chee Soon Juan taking pictures with members of the public during a book signing session after yesterday's rally.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

There is no effective opposition in Parliament to check on the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan said yesterday.

For this reason, the PAP "does as it pleases and is making dangerously wrong decisions without proper scrutiny and accountability", he added.

Dr Chee was scathing as he attacked the PAP for what he called "a shocking lack of judgment" in how it prioritises its spending.

It was "tooting its horn, throwing confetti and doing cartwheels" earlier this year, said Dr Chee, over setting aside nearly $4 billion in healthcare subsidies for the next five years.

Yet, in recent years, there have been "failed" or "questionable" decisions made by the sovereign wealth fund GIC and Singaporeinvestment firm Temasek Holdings, he added.

Dr Chee highlighted several examples to the crowd of office workers at the promenade outside UOB Plaza, implying that the money would have been better used on healthcare to tackle the problem of an acute shortage of hospital beds.

Temasek, he said, had invested about $4 billion in "debt-ridden" commodities trader Olam International last year. It also led a consortium to buy Thai telecommunications conglomerate Shin Corp for a similar sum in 2006.

"This Government accuses (SDP) of coming up with policies of tax and spend, but what they do is take our reserves, go out, and make all these failed investments," he said.

"This is the kind of situation we have when there is no effective opposition in Parliament... to check on the PAP."

Dr Chee, however, ignored altogether the profitable investments the two organisations had made. The Finance Ministry has also said repeatedly that the Government plays no role in decisions on individual investments made by the duo.

In the last Parliament, the opposition comprised seven elected MPs and two Non-Constituency MPs (NCMPs) from the Workers' Party, and one NCMP from the Singapore People's Party.

Dr Chee, 53, is leading a team to contest Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. It includes medical professor Paul Tambyah, 50, who also spoke at the rally, where he praised Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam for being "the most brilliant of our current ministers".

"Many of us think he will make a fine PM," said Dr Tambyah. "Many of us in the alternative parties hope that, one day, DPM Tharman will fall out with PM Lee (Hsien Loong) and will come out and lead a grand coalition of opposition parties."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'PAP lacks judgment in spending decisions: Chee'. Print Edition | Subscribe