Straits Times: Heated words over ‘hoodwink’


MIND YOUR LANGUAGE: Mr Khaw took offence at Mr Low’s words, saying ‘I’m not one to hoodwink people.’

There was a short but heated exchange in Parliament yesterday, between opposition MP Low Thia Khiang and Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Mr Khaw: “In their earlier manifestos, the Workers’ Party (WP) wanted to abolish Medisave. ‘Phase out the Medisave scheme as soon as possible’, they said. Luckily, they did not succeed.

“…The WP has since achieved some enlightenment. The latest manifesto no longer wants to phase out Medisave. But they have replaced the medicine with another. They propose that Medisave be used for a ‘comprehensive public health insurance scheme’.”

“When I read the manifesto, I was reminded of… a very interesting cartoon (in Lianhe Zaobao).

“(Taiwan) President Chen Shui-bian wanted to suspend the reunification council, so there was a cartoon that showed Chen leading the way and there’s a big manhole and (he’s) about to walk into the manhole.

“If we go the Workers’ Party’s way, I see this cartoon, maybe Mr Low Thia Khiang waving Singaporeans into this hole.

“And you will find this hole is crowded. There are many people there trying to get out. So I think let us beware.”

Mr Low: “I would like to ask him (Mr Khaw) whether he purposely distorted the Workers’ Party manifesto for political purpose to hoodwink the voters.

“What he has said was not what we published in the 1994 manifesto. We highlighted the inadequacy of Medisave. We did not say we want to abolish it.

“We believe more in risk pooling of insurance schemes rather than direct payment through Medisave, because you never know how much you need to save… That was the basis on which the Workers’ Party felt that insurance would be a better solution.

“Why was there a need for him to look at MediShield insurance scheme, to revamp it? That is exactly the concept which the Workers’ Party manifesto has enshrined in 1994.

“…I would say that without the revamp of the insurance scheme, probably the Ministry of Health has a bigger hole for the people to drop inside.”

Mr Khaw: “You claimed that I lie, although you didn’t use that word, it was in your old manifesto when you talked about abolition of Medisave…

“…So I must object to this use of word that I tried to hoodwink Singaporeans. Singaporeans have seen me by now, I’ve been in public service for many years.

“I didn’t enter politics to score political points. I entered politics because I thought that’s one way to do some good for Singaporeans… I’m not one to hoodwink people.”

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