Singapore — Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan’s alleged comment questioning how Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai got into Raffles Institution (RI), calling it a “lousy school”, has received online backlash, with netizens demanding an apology to RI students and alumni.
During a Parliament sitting on Tuesday (Sept 14), ministers made private comments heard over the microphone criticising Mr Leong.
After Mr Leong had spoken on jobs and livelihoods, a voice was heard saying “he’s illiterate” towards the Progress Singapore Party NCMP.
At a later exchange between Manpower Minister Tan See Leng and Mr Leong, another voice was heard over the microphone saying, “Seriously, how did he get into RI? … Must have been a lousy school.”
It is understood that the comments were made by Dr Balakrishnan.
Dr Tan was then heard replying, “I’m from Monk’s Hill.”
The following morning, Dr Balakrishnan took to Facebook to apologise to Mr Leong.
“I called Mr Leong Mun Wai today to apologise for my private comments to a colleague in Parliament yesterday.
“I disagree with him on the issue, but I should not have said what I said. Mr Leong has accepted my apology,” he said.
Members from the online community have openly expressed disappointment at Dr Balakrishnan’s comments.
“The comment on Leong Mun Wai was APPALLING. We should not even allow this kind of character into the Parliament because it speaks A LOT about the person’s character and integrity,” said Facebook user Jessica C Lee in a comment liked by over 260 netizens.
“I thought highly of him. But now I am truly disappointed,” said Facebook user Farina Mdh.
“All appointed ministers and others in Parliament are people who were voted and representation of the people. There should never be a display of criticism towards one another in Parliament or outside. Nobody is almighty,” she added in a comment with over 70 likes.
Others also deemed Dr Balakrishnan’s apology to be lacking.
He has since apologised to Leong Mun Wai, but that is not good enough, said Facebook user Shu Lian.
“He should publicly apologise to Singaporeans, particularly those in RI. Has he forgotten that our late Lee Kuan Yew was also from RI?”
“He sure has offended most RI or former RI students,” added another netizen.
One Yoshiki John highlighted that beyond the former prime minister of Singapore, he had
“offended many former RI…Yusof bin Ishak, Benjamin Henry Sheares, Wee Kim Wee (all former presidents), Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong (all former PMs), Chan Chun Sing, Desmond Lee Ti-Seng, Heng Swee Keat, K. Shanmugam, Ong Ye Kung, Tan Chuan Jin and many many more…. the list goes on.”
“He should admit, explain and apologise in the Parliament. I am quite worried, majority of Singaporeans didn’t get into RI. Lol, every school is a good school. Minister, I hope to hear from you in Parliament. Let’s be gracious!” said another netizen. /TISG
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