This was what really happened at the parliamentary debate between Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol-East Town Council (AHPETC) Chairperson Sylvia Lim and Worker’s Party chief Low Thia Kiang.
Vivian started off trying to shorten the given names of others.
He said that he didn’t want to impose on the public but this debate would go on for the next 35 minutes, with him giving some of the longest speeches and reading out long emails.
He said that this is a matter of integrity.
He said that Sylvia and Pritam were untruthful.
Sylvia reaffirmed that the AHPETC had not asked the hawkers to pay extra for the cleaning of the high areas of hawker centres.
She reminded Vivian not to confuse the issue of area cleaning with the cleaning of high areas.
Vivian looked uneasy.
He looked down nervously.
Sylvia reminded Vivian that the issue started with Vivian’s own ministry.
Vivian said that this is about integrity (for the second time), and tried to pin the blame on Mr Tai, the property manager of FM Solutions and Services Pte Ltd, the contractor for the cleaning services. Vivian read out some emails which he claimed that Mr Tai had asked the hawkers to pay extra.
Sylvia said that Vivian had distorted the facts of the emails and that Mr Tai had not asked the hawkers to pay extra.
Vivian went back to his point again – and asked if Mr Tai had asked for extra money to clean high areas.
Sylvia said no.
Vivian brought out a stack of information which he claimed is evidence. Sylvia asked him to point out where in the stack it had said that Mr Tai had asked the hawkers to pay extra.
This was what Vivian then said. Nothing about the hawkers needing to pay extra.
And again, he asked if Mr Tai had asked the hawkers to pay extra.
Sylvia said no again.
Sylvia then went on and asked why Vivian had evaded answering the questions that she had posed.
Vivian brushed all her questions off.
Sylvia looked on flabbergasted.
Yet, Vivian asked again if Mr Tai had asked for more money. This man just doesn’t know how to take no for an answer.
And again. He simply cannot handle rejection.
Now, this is getting really painful.
Vivian said that Sylvia is untruthful, yet again. And wants her to answer his questions, but doesn’t want to answer her questions.
Sylvia said no again – Mr Tai did not ask for extra money.
Mr Low brings the question back and said that the issue arose from a difference in understanding between annual cleaning and spring cleaning.
He has a full audience.
Mr Low reiterated that AHPETC had never asked for extra money.
Finally, Mr Low came out with a solution.
Vivian jumps onto the bandwagon.
He said something out of the blue.
Mr Low gives up trying to make sense to him.
Sylvia wonders why logic doesn’t work on him.
Vivian asked whether Mr Tai asked for extra money again. This man has major problems understanding, “No”.
Vivian gives a lesson on clean politics.
Mr Low is unamused. He doesn’t hide it.