Not to be outdone by Hollywood’s 79th Oscar Awards extravaganza, the Singapore parliament decided to convene a Great Budget Debate to showcase its own highly paid performers in action. Dubbed The Mother of All Wanyangs by those in the know who claim the budget is a done deal, nothing will ever come close to the Great Casino Debate. Unlike the nominees for the Oscars who had to wait for the committee’s decision, the parliamentary affair is more predictable.
Walking away with the Comical Ali Award (an allusion to Chemical Ali, the nickname of former Iraqi Defence Minister Ali Hassan al-Majid, who maintained that “everything is just fine” even as American tanks were rolling in) will be “FM” George Yeo. “Our foreign relations are on the whole very good. We have excellent relations with all our major partners, with the US, China, Japan, India, Europe and Australia,” Yeo said in a speech to his parliamentary constituency last Friday.
The Award for Best Script is a giveaway for Vivian Balakrishan who, before executing a classic U-turn, painted a dire scenario thus: “If you want to dance on a bar top, some of us will fall off the bar Top. Some people will die as a result of liberalising bar top dancing… a young girl with a short skirt dancing on it may attract some insults from some other men, the boyfriend will start fighting and some people will die.”
A shoo-in for the Transparency Award will be SM Goh Chok Tong who confessed that Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) in Singapore politics… is not just to ensure minorities are adequately represented in Parliament. “Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics,” he is quoted as saying.
The Best Cusine Award is unanimously accorded to PM Lee who created a new Singapore hawkerfare favourite when he spoke the memorable words, “I give you an example: you put out a fun podcast, you talk about ‘bak chor mee’; I will say “mee siam mai hum”, then we compete.”
Contenders for the Best Fiction may number more than one, but Minister Ng Eng Hen will definitely earn a special mention for his contribution: “Cutting Ministers’ pay won’t trim fat. You’re getting a bargain for the ministers’ pay. As a surgeon, I worked half as much and made 5 times more.” Serious challenge comes from Lim Boon Heng, who said:
“Restoring the pay cuts of civil servants and ministers is reasonable as Singapore’s economy has now regained momentum.”
“I don’t think my reading for the economy is strong enough for us to even consider asking for the restoration of the cut in CPF.”
And the Best Comedian Award absolutely has to go to the new Secretary of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Minister Lim Swee Say, “We believe that the offset package will actually stimulate some spending, additional demand. For example, the low-income households, the low-wage workers will be spending every dollar that they take from the Offset Package, every dollar that they get from the Workfare and incentive schemes on necessities.”