SINGAPORE — The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has refuted Health Minister Ong Ye Kung’s “false allegations” that the opposition party has helped fuel sentiment against Indian immigrants arising from its position about the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
In a Facebook post on Thursday (1 July), PSP’s Secretary-General Francis Yuen said he welcomed Ong’s statement that the minister will be responding to the party’s questions about jobs.
“However, we are bewildered by Mr Ong's baseless allegations that we have contributed in no small part to the undercurrent of sentiment against immigrant Indians through PSP that CECA has given Indian PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) a free hand to work here.
“This is a serious allegation made without facts as to where and when such alleged false statements were made by PSP. Unless there is evidence to back his allegation, the minister should withdraw his statement and make an apology.”
In an earlier post on Facebook on the same day, Ong referred to “two incidents” of verbal and physical assaults on Indians, which were “disturbing and not reflective” of what Singaporeans are. He said that these occurred amid an undercurrent of sentiment against immigrant Indians over the past two years.
“There are concerns from Singaporeans that need to be addressed, but the unhappiness is also fuelled in no small part by false allegations by the Progress Singapore Party about how the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement has given Indian PMEs a free hand to come here to work,” Ong said.
Last week, PSP’s Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai said his party has accepted Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam's challenge to debate CECA in Parliament.
Leong said in a post on Facebook on 22 June, “The most important economic policies that have affected the jobs and livelihoods of Singaporeans relate to foreign PMETs and Free Trade Agreements, in particular the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with India.”
Ong said in his post that he and Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Tan See Leng will be delivering Ministerial Statements at Parliament’s sitting next week.
Saying that he would be debating the issue in his role as a former trade negotiator, Ong said, “We will explain how vital FTAs are to Singapore and how they work. We will address in particular the false allegations that FTAs allow foreign professionals a free hand to live and work in Singapore.”
The ministers will move to open their Ministerial Statements for debate to allow members of the PSP to respond to their statements if they wish to.
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