Changes in Aljunied - Part II
Another letter adapted from Facebook, by Mr. Goh, 55, Bedok North:
I am sure Punggol East residents will vote wisely on 26 Jan 2013, taking into account the performance of PAP as well as Opposition Parties since the last GE, and reflecting their aspirations on what they feel is a better democratic system for Singapore. This was thebasis of my vote in GE 2011.
But being a resident of Aljunied GRC, I should also urge Punggol East residents to vote with their eyes open, and take into account this little issue of estate management. Because whoever wins the election, will run the Town Council and be responsible for the day to day maintenance of the estate. There is a difference when the WP takes over the Town Council. For Hougang residents, they probably got used to the WP system all these years. For Aljunied residents, I think many of us are still adjusting to it. And I thought I should share our experiences with our fellow Singaporeans living in Punggol East.
I think there are two big differences between PAP and WP run Town Councils:
First, PAP run Town Councils are eager beavers. You complain about lights not working, fan in common areas not working, drains not covered, trees not pruned, etc, and the Town Council will often rush to rectify it because they seem to think our votes for them depend on it. Sometimes you do wait, but probably 8 out of 10 times they do get done. WP run Town Councils are different. Many of my friends living around Aljunied have the same experience – if you complain about all these matters to WP Town Council or even the MP, they will say it is the responsibility of HDB/NEA/NParks etc, basically goes back to Government. And guess what when you call these departments? The civil servant will tell you it is the Town Council. But when PAP was in charge, the Town Council will just do it.
Second, there is little collaboration between Town Council and grassroots. I am not getting into any arguments here about the role of grassroots and whether the elected MP should be the Advisor.
The reality is that when the opposition wins a ward, the Opposition MP runs the Town Council and then there is a separate Grassroots Advisor. When it comes to upgrading programmes (yes, Aljunied still got upgrading programmes even after GE 2011), the coordination becomes not very ideal. Someone I know living in Bedok North and serve in the grassroots told me that there were 5 blocks there which were selected for HIP. The grassroots and HDB wanted to push ahead, but could not, because the WP run Town Council did not approve the use of the void deck to set up the mock up and conduct the residents ballot. So after all these complains about opposition ward are deprived of upgrading, this upgrading project in Aljunied GRC got stalled. In the end, after some hoohaa, WP Town Council approved it, and the ballot was successful. So this separation of roles does not work in favour of residents.
The same friend of mine told me that in Bedok North, the electricity supply to the Neighbourhood park were disrupted. The park is maintained by the grassroots so naturally the Town Council will not repair it. The grassroots got an external contractor to do it but Town Council refuse to grant access to the switch room under their charge. So things are stuck. It appears that to repair without access to the switch room, underground wires need to be re-run, and will cost a lot of money. What a waste, all because the two hands cannot clap together.
I am not interested in saying who is right or who is wrong here. But I just wanted to highlight to Punggol residents that there is a difference when WP takes over the Town Council. Vote with your eyes opened.