Budget Debate 2018

Robust debates in the House: How far is too far?

Parliamentary privilege allows MPs to speak without fear of being sued. But when does this cross into abuse of power?

WP chairman Sylvia Lim (left) had voiced her suspicion that the Government had intended to raise the GST immediately but that it backtracked after negative public reaction. While later saying her suspicion "may have been wrong", she refused to withdr
WP chairman Sylvia Lim (left) had voiced her suspicion that the Government had intended to raise the GST immediately but that it backtracked after negative public reaction. While later saying her suspicion "may have been wrong", she refused to withdraw her comment and apologise for it. Leader of the House Grace Fu said Ms Lim's conduct fell short of the standard of integrity and honour expected of members.PHOTOS: GOV.SG/YOUTUBE

The Budget debate may be over, but one aspect still sticks in people's minds: the exchanges between Workers' Party (WP) leaders and several People's Action Party (PAP) ministers.

During the Budget round-up debate on March 1, WP chairman Sylvia Lim voiced her suspicion that the Government had intended to raise the goods and services tax (GST) immediately but that it backtracked after negative public reaction. While later acknowledging that her suspicion "may have been wrong", Ms Lim refused to withdraw her comment and apologise for it.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 11, 2018, with the headline 'Robust debates in the House: How far is too far?'. Subscribe