Flip-flop flap

 Flip-flop flap

SINGAPORE - You might not see chairs and punches being thrown during a parliamentary debate here.

But it can get testy, in that robust Singaporean way. Like how Members of Parliament locked horns on the nature of constructive politics.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong tackled Workers' Party leader Low Thia Khiang's speech.

Mr Low had called for a nurturing of constructive politics here and a move from what he had termed a "bullying" political culture.

His speech was in response to the reopening of Parliament address by President Tony Tan, who had said that while debates can be robust, it is crucial to maintain constructive politics in Singapore, that puts the nation and people first.

Saying that it was "striking" that Mr Low chose to only focus on constructive politics in his speech, Mr Lee questioned why he had not commented on the Government's initiatives.

Mr Lee said: "He had nothing to say about the substance of the Government's programme. No critiques, no suggestions, no alternatives. Nothing."

In his speech, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Hri Kumar also tackled what he saw as a lack of alternatives from the opposition.

He said: "The details are everything, it is what distinguishes a successful country from one that is not. We often say in this House that the policy sounds good, but the devil is in the details...

"But very few critics of the Government are prepared to get into the details because it is not always pleasant."

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