Vivian Balakrishnan Denies Elitism but Calls Leong Mun Wai Illiterate and Insults His School

During a parliament session on 14 Sep, Vivian Balakrishnan was caught on mic whispering “he’s illiterate,” and “seriously, how did he get into RI [Raffles Institution]? Must have been a lousy school.” He said this about Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) Leong Mun Wai who was speaking during the session.

The remarks were passed in the midst of PSP non-constituency member of parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai and Manpower Minister Tan See Leng’s debate on jobs and foreign talent policy where Leong was requesting data on foreign nationals from countries Singapore has free trade agreements with.

The voice in the audio was identified by netizens to be belonging to Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. A second voice replied that he was from Monk’s Hill.

It is confirmed that Vivian Balakrishnan was the one who made the mocking comments as he turned himself in and published an apology on his Facebook after the audio got viral:

The full video of the parliamentary sitting was released on MCI Singapore’s YouTube channel and the remarks could be heard at the 9hr 47min 56sec and 9hr 49min17sec marks respectively.

The insulting comments reflect not only appalling conduct of PAP ministers in parliament but also the hypocrisy of the government.

Didn’t the PAP say “every school is a good school”? Why is it now that a minister is mocking the school Leong Mun Wai attended and exhibiting elitism? Isn’t it hypocritical that this was the same minister who said “every neighbourhood school of ours is a school that we can be very proud of anywhere” during the GE2020 debate on elite schools?

Vivian Balakrishnan was quoted then as saying “For schools, it’s not a question of brand name or otherwise. It’s a question of making every school a good school. And not as a slogan, but looking at the real investments which we put in the school.”

So much for not believing in elitism and class warfare.

It is also ironic that just moments before, minister K. Shanmugam was slamming Leong Mun Wai for stoking racism with his statements on CECA and the next moment, a PAP minister made comments which reeked of classism and division.

It is no wonder the PAP rejected the idea of livestreaming parliament sessions when the ministers do not observe mutual respect and decorum befitting the sacred institution of parliament.

Regardless of each parliamentarian’s educational background or social status, he or she and their ideas should be treated with equal respect. The derisive comments we just heard speaks of the kind of ministers we have and how low our country has sunk.

Such conduct of belittling members has no place in parliament and Vivian Balakrishnan should give an apology in parliament.