NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday said it was most unseemly for the Ministry of External Affairs to “summon” the envoy of a friendly country like Singapore over remarks by their prime minister to their own Parliament, and asserted that “we must learn to be less thin-skinned”.
Tharoor’s remarks came after India on Thursday lodged a strong protest with Singapore over the comments made by its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that almost half of the lawmakers in the Lok Sabha have criminal charges pending against them and suggesting a decline in the country’s democratic polity from “Nehru’s India”.
“Most unseemly for MEA to summon the HC of a friendly country like Singapore over some remarks by their PM to their own Parliament,” Tharoor said in a tweet. “He (Lee) was making a general (& largely accurate) point. Given the stuff our own pols utter, we must learn to be less thin-skinned!” the former minister of state for external affairs said.
“We should have handled the matter with a statement saying ‘we heard with interest the PM’s remarks. But we don’t comment on other countries’ internal matters, nor on debates in foreign Parliaments, & urge everyone to follow the same principle. Far more effective & less offensive,” Tharoor said in another tweet.
Singapore’s high commissioner to India Simon Wong was called to the Ministry of External Affairs and he was conveyed that the comments were “uncalled for” and that India objected to them strongly, according to sources.
In his nearly 40-minute speech, the Singaporean prime minister had talked about how a democratic system needs lawmakers with integrity and invoked India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to stress how democracy should work in the city-state.