Parliament Debate On SEA Think Tank Shows That MPs Can’t Answer Questions Properly

PAP got unnecessarily political after WP asked a valid question

Let’s get straight to what went down in Parliament yesterday (14 July).

The Parliament approved a bill that makes a couple of big changes to the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS):

1) Renaming the institute to “ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute” (Clauses 2 to 5, 12 to 14).




iseas 2Source

2) Replacing the President’s role in ISEAS with that of a Minister’s (Clause 6)

This is what the Bill says:

“Clause 6 streamlines the composition of the ISEAS Board from 22 to 15 members, and updates appointment authorities for the Board.”

The opposition opposes

Clause 6 did not sit well with the Workers’ Party.

Chairman of the party, Ms Sylvia Lim, argued:


“We are of the view that failure to preserve the diversity and autonomy of the Board will undermine ISEAS’ reputation as an independent research centre and think tank. Further, removing the office of President, our Head of State, from his role in ISEAS and replacing him with a Minister, will adversely affect ISEAS’ prestige and standing in the region and indeed, beyond.”

What she’s saying: Replacing Mr Tony Tan with a Minister will do undesirable damage to ISEAS.

WP Chief, Mr Low Thia Kiang, also raised a valid question:


“We are wondering whether the Government is sincere in honouring Encik Yusof Ishak because, is it a disguise in honouring Encik Yusof Ishak by changing the name, for control of ISEAS by changing the appointment power of the Board?”

What he’s saying: Can the People’s Action Party prove if their motives are upright in this bill?

2 replies from the PAP that show they have no idea how to answer questions

1. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Mr Hawazi Daipi on Ms Lim:


“I feel quite hurt to hear Ms Sylvia Lim’s comments.”

“I disputed her intent in politicising this matter.”

So apparently asking questions to clear confusions = politicising. Also, the MP for Sembawang GRC might need a hanky.

2. Education Minister, Mr Heng Swee Keat, on Mr Low’s questions:


“Do we want ISEAS to succeed? Absolutely! So why would I as a minister make an amendment to the change in order to make ISEAS less effective? I hope that Mr Low, you do not start imagining things when there is none and that is not good for governance.”

“I fully understand SPS Hawazi’s feeling, that this is not a time for politicking. This is a very important piece of change to honour President Encik Yusof. I object to Mr Low saying that we are using the name change to affect the composition of the Board. That is not our intention. Let me state categorically, that is not our intention.”

Ms Lim said the changing of the board would damage ISEAS.

Ms Lim didn’t say the changing of names would damage ISEAS.

Get your facts straight, PAP.

MPs need to relearn how to answer questions properly

The fact is the composition of the Board will be affected, name change or not. But why?

We still don’t know. Because MPs don’t know how to answer questions.

Shots fired: 1281948081431813913843.

Questions answered properly: 0.

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