Heng Swee Keat; Straits Times

Facing mounting internal criticisms from ruling party supporters that the PAP government is becoming more incompetent, Prime Minister successor and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat wrote a lengthy letter to state media Straits Times defending his government saying that he has not grown complacent or “gone slack”:

“The Zaobao editorial of Feb 1 raises serious questions that my colleagues and I will not shirk… But I reject the suggestion by some that the political leadership has allowed the whole system to go slack. And worse still, that we have gone soft on ourselves and the public service, failing to hold senior people accountable when things go wrong.”

The S$1.1 million-a-year PAP Minister claimed that his government has been “solving” problems that has never surfaced before, citing MRT breakdowns as an example and claiming that the public believe he has “solved” the public transport problems:

“We should have started renewing the MRT system earlier. But we have learnt from this experience, and will keep on improving the system. We are not yet where we want to be. But surveys confirm that commuters have noticed the less crowded trains and more reliable service.”

Minister Heng Swee Keat also defended Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s incompetency:

“The Prime Minister holds ministers accountable for running their ministries properly, and correcting any shortcomings uncovered. Ministers also have to account to Parliament and to the public. When lapses occur, we deal with them transparently and honestly. This is the way to restore confidence in our systems and maintain the trust of our people. Where individuals are found culpable or wanting, we do not hesitate to take action.”

The PAP Minister was unable to give any example when a Minister was taken to task for a ministerial failure. Minister Heng Swee Keat then went on to defend his government saying that firing a minister is “not a solution”:

“But we should not routinely dismiss officials whenever things go wrong, regardless of the facts or circumstances. Doing so may give the appearance of solving the problem when that is not necessarily the case. It is more important to do the hard work of resolving the problem at the root, which requires the concerted effort of everyone.”