Singapore PM says ‘almost half’ of Indian parliamentarians have criminal charges.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has claimed that “almost half” of the parliamentarians in India’s Lok Sabha — the lower house of parliament — have criminal charges against them, prompting New Delhi to summon the country’s ambassador to explain the remarks.
“Nehru’s India has become one where … almost half the MPs in the Lok Sabha have criminal charges pending against them, including charges of rape and murder,” Lee said. Lee made the comment in Singapore’s parliament on Wednesday during a debate about accusations of lying levelled at a member of the opposition.
According to a report in The Straits Times, the prime minister spoke about how a democratic system needs MPs with good norms and values to function, the importance of public trust in the government, and other things.
“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.
“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-Gurion, the Jawaharlal Nehrus, and we have our own too,” he said.
However, successive generations struggled to maintain that momentum, he said, giving the example of Israel and India.
“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, and some have gone to jail.
“While 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.”
He did add, however, that many of the charges were politically motivated.
India summons the Singaporean ambassador.
Indian media reported that Singapore’s ambassador had been summoned to the foreign ministry to explain.
The Indian ministry declined to comment but an official there criticised what the Singapore leader said.
“The remarks by the prime minister of Singapore were uncalled for,” said the official, who declined to be identified.
“We have taken up the matter with the Singaporean side.” Lee’s office said it had nothing to add.
India and Singapore are both former British colonies and have been close allies for decades.
India’s main opposition Congress party, led by Nehru’s great-grandson, Rahul Gandhi, took the opportunity to extol its old leader and have a dig at its rivals.
“Nehru’s magnanimity continues to inspire world leaders even today,” Congress said in a statement on Twitter.
“Pity the ones here at home who fail to have the vision to understand the exceptional leader he was.”