Political leaders must put integrity, honesty first: Xie Yao Quan

By Xie Yao Quan, Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC

This letter was first published in Mandarin in Lianhe Zaobao on Feb 17, 2023.

Workers’ Party (WP) MP Louis Chua submitted a letter titled “The Workers’ Party did not call for stopping or reducing the construction of BTO flats” to the Lianhe Zaobao forum on Feb 14, 2023.

During last week’s Parliamentary debate, National Development Minister Desmond Lee pointed out that in 2019, the WP suggested that the Government should reduce the production of BTO flats to 9,000 units annually.

Mr Chua’s letter seemed to refute Minister Lee’s comments, but failed to come up with any effective counterarguments, which is confusing.

One of the main arguments by the WP in last week’s debate was that the Government did not build enough BTO flats, and it did not build them fast enough. This contradicts what the WP said four years ago.

At that time, WP believed that HDB faced the risk of an oversupply of flats, and suggested that the Government build less — just 9,000 flats a year would be enough.

In fact, the Government launched 16,000 BTO flats in 2018, 15,000 flats in 2019, and 17,000 flats in 2020, all of which were more than the 9,000 annual units proposed by WP.

If the Government had adopted the WP’s proposal, the current shortage of HDB flats would have been even more severe. Minister Lee’s point was to remind the WP that politics should be based on principles and that politicians should not behave inconsistently or capriciously.

Mr Chua said that Minister Lee quoted the report out of context. Having perused the WP 2019 report, I cannot see how Minister Lee took its meaning out of context.

Mr Chua basically raised three points:

  1. In 2019, WP did judge that there might be an oversupply of BTO flats;
  2. WP did not ask the Government to stop building BTO flats;
  3. If there’s an undersupply of BTO flats, the Government can use the WP’s suggested “Universal Sale-and-Buy-Back Scheme” to buy older flats from homeowners and sell them on the resale market.

Don’t Mr Chua’s first two points tally with the basic fact that the Workers’ Party suggested in 2019 that the Government build fewer BTO flats, and claimed that 9,000 flats would be enough?

As for the third point: Putting aside the pros and cons of the “Universal Sale-and-Buy-Back Scheme”, raising this point does not refute Minister Lee’s comments at all.

Mr Chua’s letter is a rebuttal for the sake of rebutting. It seems to speak with conviction but it is, in fact, empty at its core.

My opinion remains the same: Governing a country is not easy. As political leaders, we must put honesty and integrity first in order to live up to the people’s trust and continue helping Singapore to thrive and prosper.










谢曜全, 裕廊集选区议员

Top image credit: Xie Yao Quan/Facebook