The Singapore Democrats have taken issue with the PAP’s narrative that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat saw Singapore through the global financial crisis of 2008.
In 2011, the late Lee Kuan Yew described Mr Heng as the “man who saw Singapore through the financial crisis” of 2007 and 2008, and the country “recovered faster than other countries”.
This view has been echoed by prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, who said that “during the global economic crisis… he helped our financial system come through safely — a critical job at a high-pressured time.”
At the time, Mr Heng was the director of Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
However, the SDP has called that narrative a “fairy tale”
In a statement following Mr Heng’s appointment as the PAP’s 1st Assistant Secretary-General, which puts him in line to be Singapore’s next prime minister, the SDP said:
“The idea that Mr Heng helped Singapore’s economy “come through safely” from disaster during the 2008 financial is but a fairy-tale. The GIC and Temasek Holdings were on the brink of losing hundreds of billions of dollars invested in Western banks. If the US government had not pumped in enormous amounts of funds through its Troubled Assets Relief Program to bail out the banks, Singapore would have been in a deep crisis of our own.”
The SDP also criticised Mr Heng for raising the cost of living in Singapore:
“As Finance Minister, he went along with a slew of tax hikes and price increases that have made the most expensive city in the world an even costlier one, effectively piling on the financial stress for the average Singaporean.”
Mr Heng was also condemned for not making significant improvements to Singapore’s education system during his term as Education Minister:
“When he was Education Minister, Mr Heng, apart from making inconsequential tweaks here and there, continued with the exam-oriented system that has not taught students to think critically and creatively. Our youth are, therefore, ill-equipped to face a changed and changing global system where ideas and innovation determine a nation’s place in the world.”
The SDP said that “judging by what Mr Heng has said and done in the past, it seems that he is more concerned about toeing the party line rather than thinking and acting out of the box for Singapore’s sake.”
“No matter who gets chosen to be the next PM, the PAP script has been written and all the next leader will do is to follow it. Nothing has changed – and therein lies the danger for Singapore.”