Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The most absurd policy I had ever seen.

This must be the most absurd policy I had ever seen...

Mr Mah Bow Tan said that oppo wards residents MUST co-pay for lift upgrading...

I meant if oppo wards can provide lift upgrading for FREE to their residents why does PAP wanna stop them from doing it?!?!

It is not as if by making oppo wards co-pay it will earn them any political pts.

Not only they are preventing oppo from doing better, they are also giving oppo chances to blast them as WP and SDA had managed to provided FREE lift upgrade even with their limited funds.

They are also doing Oppo a favour by giving them excuses to charge residents for lift upgrades, thus alleviating their finanical burden.

Of course, the PAP govt can prevent the oppo from capitalising on their free lift upgrade during the next election and reduce the $ they spend on lift upgrading, but I wonder if this is really worth the while.

If PAP cannot or don't want to provide the same level of services that the oppo can offer, the least they can do is not to make the people in Hougang and PP to suffer together.


Opposition can use surpluses for upgrading
But MPs must follow government rules like co-payment by residents, says Mah Bow Tan
OPPOSITION Members of Parliament are free to use any surplus funds to do lift upgrading in their wards but they must abide by rules laid down by the National Development Ministry, which includes co-payment by residents.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan on Friday clarified the issue, which cropped up during the recent general election after Potong Pasir incumbent MP Chiam See Tong declared that he had the funds to install lifts that stop on every floor within all the Housing Board blocks in his constituency within five years.

Under the rules that the Government set last year in a bid to speed up the provision of lift access to Singapore's fast ageing population, town councils were allowed to provide lifts that stopped on every floor in the blocks under their care, provided the cost did not exceed $5,000 per benefiting household.

Also, the flat owners had to take a vote on such work, and co-pay 5 to 12.5 per cent of the total cost of the work, depending on the type of flat that they lived in.

Town councils were allowed to tap into 10 per cent of their sinking fund, which is used for long-term cyclical repairs like replacing water pumps, reroofing and repainting blocks.

These rules apply to all town councils.

This would have meant that Potong Pasir, which had $7.9 million in its sinking fund for residential properties on March 31, 2004, could only use $794,000 of it for lift upgrading work.

This falls far short of the roughly $9 million that Mr Chiam had estimated he would need, which raised the question of where the rest of the money was going to come from.

Mr Mah told The Sunday Times that town councils were free to use their surpluses, which is the money left over from their income after taking into account added expenses, to do lift upgrading work.

He said: 'If you have surpluses, if you have a lot of surpluses, that's up to you. But cannot touch more than 10 per cent of your sinking fund.'

This means that Mr Chiam can top up his lift upgrading fund with his town council's surpluses, which stood at $969,800 on March 31, 2005.

Mr Chiam could not be contacted yesterday.

The HDB used to allow town councils to add lift landings to HDB blocks with their surpluses, but stopped doing so after 2001 because it was concerned that such work would be expensive and affect the town council's spending on other services like cleaning and maintenance.

Although the rules were changed last year to allow town councils to do lift upgrading work, the councils had to follow guidelines on how to fund the works and how much to spend.

Turning to the question of the funds from Community Improvement Projects Committee (CIPC), a source of funds controlled by the National Development Ministry for minor improvement work in the estate, Mr Mah revealed that a town of 100,000 households could stand to get a few million dollars of funding a year, depending on the projects its grassroots leaders proposed.

The money is used to build amenities such as street soccer courts, playgrounds and sheltered linkways, but cannot be used for major projects like lift upgrading.

The workings of the CIPC have long been a bugbear of opposition MPs, who charge that they are unfairly left out because the money is always disbursed through Citizens' Consultative Committees (CCCs), which have PAP politicians as their advisers.

Asked if disbursing the money through CCCs would appear to politicise the issue, Mr Mah replied: 'The CCC is not political. It is a committee made up mainly of residents within each constituency.'

Giving a lift to the upgrading debate

By Ong Soh Chin
May 4, 2006
The Straits Times

Currently, the opposition and its supporters see upgrading as an unfair issue which the PAP will always win, even though Mr Low Thia Khiang of the Workers' Party has pointed out that his Hougang residents have managed to enjoy free lift upgrading even with the limited funds of its town council.

Mr Chiam See Tong of the Singapore Democratic Alliance also noted that he managed to build 89 new lifts for Toa Payoh Lorong 8 last year - for free. But Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has said that Mr Chiam's PAP challenger Sitoh Yih Pin would be able to carry out lift upgrading faster if elected because 'he will be in government'.


At 7:06 PM, June 13, 2006, Anonymous Molly said...

What co-pay? The money comes from the people and is paid by the people. If the gahmen wants co-payment, then it should fork out its share from its own big pockets.

At 8:08 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger at82 said...

Mr MBT say liao mah, Govt $ is PAP $ bcos it is PAP policy "which generated economic growth and the Budget surpluses".

June 11, 2006
Upgrading for all wards, but PAP ones first

NATIONAL Development Minister Mah Bow Tan has come out to clear the air on the upgrading of opposition wards, saying that their lifts will be upgraded by 2015 at the latest, but PAP wards will still get priority.

His comments will surprise those who thought that the policy of upgrading PAP wards first was ripe for change, after the ruling party failed to win back Hougang and Potong Pasir at the recent polls despite offering $180 million in improvement works for the two ageing estates.

After the election results on May 7, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the People's Action Party (PAP) would have to review its strategy in the opposition wards.

But in an interview with The Sunday Times on Friday, Mr Mah made it clear that this review would not affect the policy of giving lift upgrading priority to PAP wards. 'There is no change, that policy still remains. We've looked at it and we believe that that is still something we have to do,' he said.

Giving PAP wards priority does not mean that the Government intends to deprive opposition wards of upgrading, he added, although this point might have been lost in 'the heat and the noise of the elections'.

The Government has pledged that by 2015, all HDB blocks will have lifts that stop on every floor, with the exception of a small number of blocks whose designs make such works too costly.

Mr Mah said this includes blocks in opposition wards.

'We intend to honour this commitment, 2015, all eligible blocks will have their lifts upgraded,' he said.

The ramping up of the lift upgrading programme means a close to two-fold increase in the national upgrading budget over the next few years, to between $500 million and $600 million per financial year.

About 130 blocks in Hougang and Potong Pasir are eligible for improved lifts but they are not the oldest blocks to have gone without upgrading.

Mr Mah said about 800 blocks in PAP wards are as old or older and have not been upgraded at all. They are located in areas such as Queenstown, Bukit Merah, Tiong Bahru, Marine Parade, Serangoon, Woodlands, Marsiling, Yishun and Kampung Ubi.

'I can't put the opposition blocks at the head of the queue, ahead of these 800. Surely not,' he said.

To select precincts for upgrading, the ministry uses three criteria: the age of the blocks, the geographical spread to ensure upgrading is not concentrated in only a few constituencies and support for the Government.

While acknowledging that many thought it unfair to link votes to upgrading, Mr Mah defended the policy as 'not unreasonable'.

He said the massive and costly upgrading programme was only possible because of the Government's policies, which generated economic growth and the Budget surpluses needed to fund it.

And these policies could only be implemented if the Government received the people's mandate.

'We really need to be fair to the people who voted for the PAP candidate. Upgrading has been a major election platform for the PAP and those who support the PAP candidate expect their MPs to deliver on their promises.'


At 8:52 AM, June 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this is not institutionalized and legalized discrimination against its own citizens by the gahmen, I don't know what is. Oh, wait, how stupid of me to forget that Singapore is a Corporation and not a country and there is no such thing as a Singapore citizen.

At 8:29 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger at82 said...

Hi annon,

U are wrong, S'pore is not a Corporation.

Corp cannot force their male empolyees to undergo NS to protect the company assets but S'pore can.

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