India has issued a diplomatic protest with Singapore, labelling Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s comments about Indian lawmakers as uncalled for.
Here’s what happened.
PM Lee Cited Number of India’s Lawmakers Facing Criminal Charges, India Said Remarks Were “Uncalled For”
While addressing Singapore’s Parliament earlier this week about the Raeesah Khan scandal, PM Lee cited India as an example where crime amongst lawmakers is prevalent.
“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.”
New Delhi raised this issue with the city state’s high commissioner on 17 February, said a senior government official.
The official, who remains anonymous citing their rules for speaking to media, said that PM Lee’s remarks were uncalled for.
Well, when another country’s leader paints your government in such an undesirable light, I guess you’d feel indignant as well. This comment could have also hit especially hard since India is currently having a series of local elections.
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But what was the true context of PM Lee’s comment?
Must Uphold Democratic Ideals So Public Trust In Government Doesn’t Erode
This example of India was cited while PM Lee was talking about how lies by MPs have contributed to the dilution of democracy, in various countries like Israel and India.
PM Lee was reinforcing the importance of upholding democratic ideals, so that public trust in the government isn’t eroded.
In fact, right after the comment on India, PM Lee proceeded to say: “What is to prevent Singapore from going down the same road? Nothing. We are not intrinsically smarter or more virtuous than other countries. Modern Singapore does not come born with a fail-safe mechanism.”
So no, PM Lee wasn’t throwing shade at countries for no reason. He was using these concrete examples to substantiate his point about how a democratic system needs MPs to uphold good values to function well.
If anything, he was more of throwing shade at Raeesah Khan and the Worker’s Party.
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What Does This Diplomatic Protest Mean?
A diplomatic protest, or démarche, is “a formal diplomatic representation of one government’s official position, views, or wishes on a given subject to an appropriate official in another government or
Simply put, it is usually just a way for countries to protest, or in this case, object to actions by another government. You can kind of see this as a complaint letter from India to Singapore.
According to The Straits Times, India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi was not immediately available for comment. The Singapore Prime Minister’s Office has also declined to comment.
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