India has slammed remarks by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made in parliament earlier this week and summoned the Singapore High Commissioner to convey its displeasure.
PM Lee had made a speech during the debate on the Committee of Privileges’ report, in which he slammed Workers’ Party leaders for lacking integrity.
During the speech, he invoked India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru while arguing how democracy should work in Singapore.
“Most countries are founded and start off on the basis of high ideals and noble values. But more often than not, beyond the founding leaders and the pioneer generation, over decades and generations, gradually things change,”
PM Lee said, adding that:
“Things start off with passionate intensity. The leaders, who fought for and won independence, are often exceptional individuals of great courage, immense culture, and outstanding ability. They came through the crucible of fire and emerged as leaders of men and nations. They are the David Ben-Gurions, the Jawaharlal Nehrus, and we have our own too.”
PM Lee continued:
“Nehru’s India has become one where, according to media reports, almost half the MPs in the Lok Sabha have criminal charges pending against them, including charges of rape and murder. Though it is also said that many of these allegations are politically motivated.”
And, taking a shot at Israel’s political system, he added that:
“Many political systems today would be quite unrecognisable to their founding leaders. Ben-Gurion’s Israel has morphed into one which can barely form a government, despite four general elections in two years. Meanwhile, a stream of senior politicians and officials in Israel face a litany of criminal charges, some have gone to jail.”
This is not the first time that PM Lee has been criticised for making seemingly insensitive remarks about other countries.
In an after-dinner speech to American businessmen in April 2013, he infamously quipped that “Shanghai, if you want some pork soup, you just turn on the tap.”