GE2020: Aware calls PAP out for using domestic violence analogy in dispute with Chee Soon Juan

PHOTO: YouTube Screengrab/CNA

As things heat up ahead of Polling Day, the People's Action Party (PAP) has been criticised for bringing domestic violence into an ongoing war of words with Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan.

A PAP press statement released yesterday (July 3) that compared Dr Chee's assertions about the party to allegations of beating up one's spouse was "regrettable" and "insensitive", the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) said today.

In its statement accusing Dr Chee of repeating the "false statement" that their party was targeting a population of 10 million, PAP wrote: "A simple analogy will explain Dr Chee's mendacity.

"Imagine this. Dr Chee claims you said you want to beat up your spouse. You deny it, and show proof that you neither said this nor have beaten your spouse.

"Instead of apologising, Dr Chee says: 'Victory! I extracted a promise from you that you will never beat your spouse.'"

The mention of domestic violence in the statement had prompted many concerned members of the public to reach out to Aware, the gender equality advocacy group said.

It explained: "This analogy is regrettable. It is insensitive to apply imagery of spousal violence to situations that have nothing to do with it.

"Domestic violence is a serious and devastating issue for many in Singapore, and millions more around the world. It is not something to be invoked lightly — especially not during the Covid-19 pandemic, when domestic violence has seen a sharp increase."

AsiaOne has reached out to PAP for comment. 

AWARE does not engage in partisan politics. However, as a gender equality organisation, we are concerned about...

Posted by AWARE Singapore on Saturday, July 4, 2020

PAP's statement appeared to be in response to SDP's claims that it had "achieved victory" after a live political debate on July 1.

At the debate, Dr Chee asked PAP's Dr Vivian Balakrishnan to categorically state that PAP has no intention of raising the population to 10 million. 

Referring to the figure as a falsehood, Dr Balakrishnan had said: "Let me state, for the record. We will never have 10 million. We won't even have 6.9 million."

According to SDP, the declaration was a validation of one of its campaign objectives — to "push to stop the PAP from raising our population to 10 million".

However, the government has never had any plans to increase its population to 10 million, the Prime Minister's Office said on July 1.

A Factually article published in March had also said that the government does not seek to achieve any particular population size, and that Singapore's population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030.

Speaking to reporters on July 3, Dr Chee maintained that the 10 million figure did not originate with the SDP and had been "floating around".

kimberlylim@asiaone.com