Saturday, June 17, 2006

PAP: Upgrading is a unique programme by Govt

This is Mr Mah Bow Tan reply to Miss Sylvia Lim's letter.

It is really amusing that Mr Mah assert that only through this type of pork and barrel politics can we stay together and move ahead.

Maybe what he meant is that Hougang and Potong Pasir stay together and "become slums", while the newer PAP wards move ahead and get repeated upgrades?


June 17, 2006
Upgrading is a unique programme by Govt
I REFER to the commentary by Ms Chua Mui Hoong and the letters from Mr Basant Kapur, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Yee Jenn Jong on the upgrading programme for public-housing estates (ST, June 13 and 16).

The writers argued that the Government has a fiduciary obligation to act on behalf of all Singaporeans who pay taxes and serve national service. I agree. Indeed, the Government has provided all Singaporeans with good and affordable health care, subsidised public housing, equal opportunity to receive a good education, and much more.

However, the upgrading of our older public-housing estates is over and above these basic obligations of the Government. It is funded out of Budget surpluses generated by the PAP Government. No other government in the world has anything similar, in terms of scale and commitment.

The PAP presented upgrading as one of its key programmes during the election. It asked for the people's support in order to carry out these programmes. Having received a clear mandate, the Government will now fulfil its promise to the people.

Upgrading is a national programme that will be implemented in all constituencies. But we cannot avoid prioritising upgrading, due to limited resources. It is not a question of generosity or otherwise by the Government, as Mr Yee suggested. Between PAP and opposition constituencies, other things being equal, PAP constituencies will go first, as the Government had made clear before the election. Ms Lim herself noted that no one living in an opposition ward expects special treatment, i.e. to jump ahead of PAP wards.

Ms Lim stated that election campaigns should be fought over long-term national policies which affect Singaporeans' lives deeply. Again, I agree. Unfortunately, during the election Ms Lim did not ask voters to think deeply about long-term national policies and support the Workers' Party because it offered better policies than the PAP. Instead, she told them to go ahead and vote opposition, even if they wanted a PAP Government and its policies, because they could safely assume that the PAP would win, anyway. If enough Singaporeans had taken her advice, the opposition parties would have ended up governing Singapore, even though at least two thirds of Singaporeans preferred a PAP Government.

Hence, the need for the HDB upgrading-priority policy, so that Singaporeans' votes will make a difference to their own lives in HDB estates, as well as decide which party will govern Singapore. Only then can our system of democracy work. Only then can we stay together, and move ahead.

Mah Bow Tan
Minister for National Development

After a hard-fought win at the polls, Goh plans for the next century
By Sangwon Suh and
Santha Oorjitham / Singapore

Aggressive and uncompromising it certainly was. A primary issue in the campaign -- and one which the PAP wielded effectively -- was the upgrading of government flats, a program started in 1989 to bridge the gap between old and new apartments. The PAP sent forth a clear message: wards that did not vote for its candidates would be placed last in line for the upgrading program. Said Goh to those who might have been leaning toward the opposition: "In 20, 30 years' time, the whole of Singapore will be bustling away, and your estate, through your own choice, will be left behind. They become slums."

The opposition (and the U.S. government) charged that it was tantamount to intimidation. Goh countered that it was fair play: if you want to be first in line for the PAP 's programs, vote for PAP candidates. The issue hit home in more ways than one: 86% of Singaporeans live in government-built flats.


At 11:54 PM, June 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Giving 'progress packages' is another unique programme by govt, paid for by the country's surplus, so can we expect to see the package withheld from residents in opposition held wards in future too?

At 8:22 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger at82 said...

Maybe. Who knows?

We may even see ERP in PP and Hougang in the future to ease traffic jams in that area.


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