Monday, March 27, 2006

People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

Frankly, I am sick and tired with the PAP government for threatening Singaporeans with issue of upgrading during each election season since 1997.

Come on, who is the PAP government trying to kid? Where does the money for the upgrading comes from?

PAP ah? No, it is US, the TAXPAYERS who are funding the upgrading! So on what basis should the PAP government deny the opposition wards of upgrading if their estates needed it? It is not as if that people in Potong Pasir and Hougang do not need to pay taxes.

Moreover, residents still have to “co-pay”, whatever that means, for the upgrading. As if the money that the PAP government used for the upgrading does not come from US, the TAXPAYERS.

However, the most fundamental question is, why wasn't the flats designed in such a way that the all floors are serviced by a lift in the 1st place? Frankly, I find it very stupid that we have lifts that don't stop at every level, and that happens even for the point blocks.

Before SM Goh start boasting about how Hougang can be “as beautiful as Marine Parade”. Lets us not forget about the botch up of the upgrading project in Marine Parade back in 2003, where the contractors for upgrading went busted leaving the residents in lurch. Read this, this and this.

If the PAP government is really "concerned" about improving the lots of the residents in Potong Pasir (PP) and Hougang, why not start NOW? Namely, why not start providing EQUAL funding from the STATE, on per household basis, to the town councils of PP and Houang?

What is the AGENDA of the PAP government for NOT doing so?

SM Goh, don't you feel paiseh when you says Potong Pasir and Hougang are “in the 50s”? Especially when government grants came up to just $113 per household for Potong Pasir and $111 per household for Hougang in 2004-05 compared to the neighbouring Aljunied Town Council where it got $560 per household for the same period.

So much about NOT having any pork-barrel politics in Singapore.

So much about progressing TOGETHER, and NOT leaving ANYONE behind.

If the movie loving Singaporeans can take anything out of the current blockbuster V for Vendetta it should be this.

Monday March 27, 6:45 PM
Singapore's ruling party warns voters against opposition
By Fayen Wong
SINGAPORE, March 27 (Reuters) - Singapore's ruling party, which is likely to call an early election this year, has warned voters if they elect an opposition candidate their constituency stands to lose out on state-subsidised improvements.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who visited an opposition ward at the weekend, told local reporters that it would be in the residents' interests to vote for a People's Action Party (PAP) candidate at the next election if they want their estates to be get new lifts and improved shopping facilities.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently asked Goh, a former Prime Minister, to help win back Singapore's two opposition wards. The tiny, fragmented opposition holds only two out of the 84 elected seats in parliament.

Chiam See Tong, chief of the Singapore Democratic Alliance, has led the Potong Pasir constituency for the past 25 years while Workers' Party secretary-general Low Thia Kiang has chaired the Hougang ward since 1991.

"I do not want the two constituencies to be left behind, especially Potong Pasir, an old estate. Five years down the road, assuming Chiam do win, there will be no upgrading," Goh was quoted as saying on state broadcaster Channel NewsAsia's Web site.

Goh's comments echo remarks he made before the January 1997 poll, when he told voters that those wards which elected an opposition candidate would be the last in line for upgrading and risked becoming "slums".

The upgrading of state-built housing estates typically includes a fresh coat of paint, new parks and playgrounds, and facilities for the elderly such as ramps and lifts that stop on every floor. …

Hougang 'can be beautiful'

Monday, March 27, 2006
SM Goh tells residents estate should be upgraded before it becomes derelict

Val Chua
Assistant News Editor
ONE woman wanted more disabled-friendly facilities for her child, who suffers from muscular dystrophy. Another wanted the PAP to take him out of the 50s zone, a jibe at the ageing estate that has been the turf of Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang for the past 15 years.

These were some of the requests from about 500 Hougang residents at a dialogue session with Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday.

In response, Mr Goh quipped as he borrowed from the WP slogan: "The Workers' Party says you have a choice. If you leave it to me, we can make this estate as beautiful as Marine Parade."

This was Mr Goh's first visit to the ward after he was tasked with winning the two Opposition wards — Hougang and Potong Pasir — for the PAP. Speaking to reporters later, he stressed that he was not in Hougang to campaign but to find out what the residents wanted.

"My view is that Hougang should be upgraded. Otherwise, another five years, another 10 years, it will become rather derelict compared to other estates in Singapore."

But there seemed to be some resistance to what the PAP was offering. During the session, the proposal to privatise the HUDC flats in Hougang by PAP candidate Eric Low was met with a muted response. One resident criticised it, citing high costs.

When Mr Low asked for a show of hands from those who wanted the wet market upgraded, there was hardly a flutter, except from one woman, who asked: "Who will pay for it?"

The issue of increased rentals was a concern of stall owners and shopkeepers when Mr Goh and his entourage toured the wet market. His response to the hawkers' resistance was that it was short-sighted economics. "The rent may increase, but the business will also increase," he said.

But he assured the hawkers he was only there to suss out the ground, and that no upgrading would take place if there was opposition to the project.

When asked to assess the PAP's chances this time, Mr Goh said: "When we enter the battle for Hougang, we must believe we can win. It depends on how hard you work, how smart you work and your message. Low Thia Khiang said he is quite confident. I am equally confident."

that $13,000 a month salary

Singaporeans shouldn't begrudge their MP's monthly pay, staggering as it may seem at $13,000 a month. [Me: Of course, that is just 0.26 peanut a year what]

Responding to a Hougang resident who suggested that the monthly pay be reduced to an annual one, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said: "It's a full-time job. They have meet-the-people sessions and attend Parliament ... it's a fair wage."

In fact, some MPs – lawyers and doctors – lose income from their day jobs as a result of their political work, he said. Former MP and cardiologist Dixie Tan had to close her practice because her patients switched doctors after she joined politics.

Then, pointing to PAP hopeful Eric Low on his right, he said: "Eric Low is not an MP. But he works as hard as an MP, and he does not get any allowance. So we must be fair to him and ... help him to be an MP." — Val Chua

September 30, 2003

Learn to say sorry
Public and private sectors must be accountable for botch-ups

by Lee Han Shih
... Nothing, however, beats the Housing and Development Board's upgrading job at Marine Parade, which has gone through three contractors and numerous delays.

At first, the HDB refused to apologise. Then its CEO Niam Cheng Meng, did say sorry — but directed it mainly at Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, MP for the area. …

March 25, 2006
The gathering storm
Chiam may face his toughest fight yet
By Peh Shing Huei
... To be fair, the incumbent, as chairman of the town council, has done some work - repairs and renovations have been carried out in 17 blocks and a couple of linkways have been built.

Lift upgrading of the entire estate will be carried out, promises Mr Chiam. He has already installed 29 new lifts in the blocks in Toa Payoh Lorong 8, but the lifts do not stop on every floor as it was not approved by the HDB, he says.

The town council's annual report for 2004/2005 says that it shelled out $3 million for cyclical works and $600,000 for estate improvement works like covered linkways.

'The PAP said last time that rubbish would pile up to the second floor if the voters chose an opposition,' he says. 'Do you see rubbish up to the second floor? No.'

But the rubbish is not where the rub is.

It is the money, or lack of. That is how the town council system is truly hurting this opposition ward.

Taking into account all the grants from the Government, the Aljunied Town Council, for example, gets $560 per household for the financial year ending March 2005.

The grants include funds from the Community Improvement Projects Committee (CIPC), which is controlled by the Ministry of National Development.

In contrast, government grants came up to just $113 per household in Potong Pasir.

That means less for the resident. For routine maintenance, Potong Pasir spent $1.5 million in the financial year, or $275 per household. Neighbouring Bishan-Toa Payoh households enjoy $437 each.

March 25, 2006
Hougang's Low may be 'heart' to beat
By Ken Kwek
A PHRASE echoing across the void decks of Hougang these days is 'you xin wu li'. It is a Chinese idiom that means 'having the spirit, but lacking the power'. ...

Working within limits

YET many residents are quick to give Mr Low credit where it is due, pointing out his varied achievements in keeping the estate clean, and safe for elderly folk.

Housewife S.H. Tan, 48, says the lift upgrading in her block along Hougang Avenue 5 was done 'very nicely', while Miss Mandy Tan, 35, likes the 'improved lighting in the playgrounds and leisure spots'.

Indeed, at first blush, the town is not markedly different from any other PAP ward. The roads are smooth and clean, and the walkways between blocks are sheltered, or tiled and lined with palm trees.

Away from the sheen and throng of Hougang Mall in Aljunied GRC, the coffee shops of Mr Low's ward are older, quieter. They are the regular watering holes of the town's mostly working-class and elderly residents.

At night, yellow and red signs speckle the blocks, the corridors of which are less brightly illuminated than in Aljunied just next door.

But this does not cast a dim or depressing pallor on the town. Rather, most residents appear content despite living in the shadow of a literally brighter neighbour across the street.

In fact, most accept that their MP has done an adequate, even admirable, job of running the town council. It is said that Mr Low keeps a close watch on its work, going for spot checks himself.

According to its annual report for 2004-05, about $5 million was spent on estate maintenance, while another $4.7 million was committed to other projects.

Last year, the construction of 11 covered walkways serving about 20 of its 110 HDB blocks was initiated, and a public garden was built outside the town council office.

The old lifts on eight blocks of flats were also replaced, and areas such as lift lobbies and letter boxes were refurbished.

Residents' appraisal of these improvements is moderated by the belief that Mr Low's hands are tied - that is, he should not be judged unfairly against the resource-rich PAP wards, whose larger town councils serve a wider area and can enjoy economies of scale.

Government grants came up to about $111 per household in Hougang in 2004-05. By contrast, neighbouring Aljunied Town Council, which has access to funds such as the government-controlled Community Improvement Projects Committee (CIPC), got $560 per household for the same period.

Where such inequalities are concerned, Hougang residents tend to have an air of resigned acceptance. Some take the attitude that they should show appreciation for what has been done for them, rather than moan about what is lacking.

Freelance programmer Troy Chua, 51, is one such person. He says: 'I've called up the town council a few times to notify them about the lack of drain covers, ponding in passageways - they've always been fairly responsive. Once, they even came at 2am to repair a lift in my block.’ …

Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 26 March 2006 1757 hrs

SM Goh concerned Potong Pasir, Hougang residents will lose out on upgrading
By Farah Abdul Rahim, Channel NewsAsia
SINGAPORE : Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has expressed concern that Hougang and Potong Pasir residents will lose out on upgrading if they do not vote for the People's Action Party.

He has also suggested that the party whip be lifted in Parliament for the PAP MPs if they are elected in these wards.

Mr Goh has been tasked by the Prime Minister to help win back the two opposition seats in the upcoming General Election.

Mr Goh says: "To my right, I see across the estates of the 1990s and to my left, we have the estates of the 1950s. How can I come out of the 50s' zone?"

Upgrading and rejuvenating Hougang constituency were some of the key issues raised by some 500 residents and grassroots leaders at a dialogue.

Mr Goh says he is not there to offer residents upgrading but to hear what they want.

He is worried that the opposition wards of Hougang and Potong Pasir would be left behind.

Mr Goh says: "I do not want the two constituencies to be left behind, especially Potong Pasir, an old estate. Five years down the road, assuming Chiam do win, there will be no upgrading.

"After that, we got to ask ourselves whether the estate is worthwhile upgrading. I'm talking about Lorong 8. By then, the estate would be around 35 years old and the lease is only 99 years, so economically, is it worthwhile?

"My own view is Hougang should be upgraded, otherwise another five years, another 10 years, it would become rather derelict compared to other estates in Singapore."

To address concerns by Hougang residents for an opposition voice in Parliament, Mr Goh says he will push for the party whip to be lifted so that PAP's candidate Eric Low can speak up, if elected.

Mr Goh says: "You have a choice - if having opposition is more important, then vote opposition - but if there is a way to get my views put to parliament to somebody, then vote for your interests, vote for upgrading - and your views can be put across in Parliament and if you vote for Eric Low, I can tell PM to let him be the opposition in Parliament."

The Party whip ensures there are sufficient party members in Parliament to support the party's position and that MPs vote on party lines.

The Whip was lifted in 2002 for all PAP MPs on matters of conscience and certain other issues, except those affecting the Budget, the Constitution, no confidence motions and issues of national security.

Residents had mixed feelings about upgrading.

"It's 50-50, because if you upgrade, then our rentals will go up as well."

"I hope they can give this place a new lease of life and add more facilities, to attract more people to come here and shop."

One market-cum-hawker centre at Hougang Avenue 7 has not been upgraded for some 30 years, and Mr Goh has urged residents and stallholders to take a long-term view.

While rent may go up, businesses will also increase and customers too will welcome the move - all part of Mr Goh's hope to make Hougang look as beautiful as his own ward in Marine Parade. - CNA/de


At 1:22 AM, March 29, 2006, Blogger BEAST said...

Unfortunately, this is the kind of pork barrel politics Singaporeans will be subjected to, as long as:

1. They prefer to endure Singapore's oppressive, conservative political climate in stoic silence.

2. Up the masochistic steaks by insisting that the govt implement more oppressive legislation, such as racial quotas for schools, universities, toilets, restaurants etc.

As long as we keep voting for a "safer", more conservative govt, I am afraid this will be what we are going to get. As the saying goes, you get what you sow. Or in this case, you get the govt you vote for. Can't blame no one else for your woes.

At 7:33 PM, March 29, 2006, Blogger at82 said...

I will vote if I could, unfortunately I can't.

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Hi Anon 10:28 AM, March 30, 2006:

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