Parliament showdown a clear sign that PAP won't hang back

Parliament showdown a clear sign that PAP won't hang back

Last month's dispute over the cleaning of hawker centre ceilings in the WP-run Aljunied GRC went up a notch in Parliament on Tuesday.

What was surprising was the strength of Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan's accusations and his supporting documents. If public discussion of the issue had waned, his speech thrust it firmly under the spotlight again.

The initial questions by PAP MP Lee Bee Wah had to do about who should bear the cost of cleaning hawker centres. But the minister was prepared to give a full account of the events in the Bedok North hawker centres when she asked for it.

He clearly had a key message to drive home even when WP MP Sylvia Lim tried to, so he charged, "beat around the bush".

In quick succession, he alleged that the WP-run town council had "prevaricated and made untrue statements", declared he had meeting minutes and a list of witnesses to prove his claims, and that e-mails between the interested parties would be made available for public viewing.

Upping the ante, he accused Ms Lim and WP MP Pritam Singh of making public denials that were "false and untruthful". He also charged Ms Lim: "I put to you that you have been untruthful."

He also called on WP chief Low Thia Khiang to investigate and insisted that the issue is "clean politics", that is, coming clean when a mistake is made.

It was clear the minister wanted to press his point that integrity was at stake: He told the press later that he would waive parliamentary privileges, effectively challenging Ms Lim and Mr Singh to sue him for his allegations.

This tough approach follows from another episode in May when National Development Minister Khaw Boon went for the jugular too.

Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST)

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