SINGAPORE - The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) is "categorically against racism and does not stoke or incite racism to gain political mileage and advantage", its top leadership said on Wednesday (May 12).
"PSP is steadfast in promoting racial harmony and equality, which is enshrined in our core values and beliefs," said the party's central executive committee in a statement.
On the recent case involving a man who allegedly kicked a 55-year-old Indian Singaporean woman and shouted a racial slur at her, the party said such attacks are "unacceptable and deplorable".
It appealed "to the good sense of all Singaporeans to stay calm and united" during this period of crisis.
The statement comes a day after Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam challenged PSP Non-constituency MP (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai to debate the merits of the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca), which some government critics say has paved the way for Indian nationals to enter Singapore and take jobs away from locals.
Mr Shanmugam said in Parliament that there have been "several canards" about Ceca, adding: "If anyone here believes that Ceca is a problem, put it up for a motion, debate it openly, and let's hear whether Singaporeans benefit or lose from it.
"I'm looking at you, Mr Leong. I invite you to put up a motion to debate Ceca. You know that most of what is said about Ceca is false."
In response, Mr Leong said his party is "very interested to take up the Ceca issue at some point in time".
"I must state at the outset that PSP, and myself, is not being xenophobic. We are just stating the economic effects that some of these free trade agreements have had on our economy, the feedback gathered from many suffering Singaporeans... definitely, racism has no place in our overall thinking. It is all about economics, about livelihoods," he added on Tuesday.
The NCMP has raised the issue of foreign talent on multiple occasions in Parliament. He has also jousted with People's Action Party MPs on the issue, including over his remarks that DBS Bank was "still without a home-grown CEO". The bank's current chief executive, Mr Piyush Gupta, was born in India and became a Singapore citizen in 2009.
Separately, Peoples Voice (PV) party chief Lim Tean said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that his party wants to be involved in the Ceca debate, and questioned why it should be held only in Parliament.
"PV is the original anti-Ceca party and the only one which has called for its abolition," he said, adding that he would like to debate PAP ministers like Mr Shanmugam on national TV instead.