In what is probably one of his most insulting and condescending statements to date, the Minister for National Development, though his taxpayer-funded press secretary, has basically told Opposition leader and Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang to stay within the confines of his town council and stop trying to manage the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP), period.
Here are excerpts of what the press secretary to the Minister wrote in his Straits Times Forum letter today:
These programmes have to be implemented through government channels. In the case of HDB upgrading, this channel is the advisers to grassroots organisations, who are appointed by the Government. Opposition MPs are not answerable to the Government, nor are they obliged to carry out and explain the Government’s policies.
The government has just admitted that all grassroots advisers are government appointees. This settles the ambiguity once and for all — that the PAP thoroughly controls the taxpayer-funded grassroots organisations and is using them to its own political advantage.
The Government pays up to 90 per cent of the cost of the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP), with the rest shared between the residents (5 per cent) and the town councils (5 per cent). Funding for LUP is possible only because of the Government and the Budget surpluses it has generated through prudent policies.
If town councils are expected to fork out 5% of the LUP costs, don’t they deserve a say in the upgrading? This is taxation without representation. It is nothing short of political gymnastics to say LUP is only possible because of budget surpluses. Why don’t they say road maintenance, MRT lines or government polyclinics in Hougang are possible only because of budget surpluses?
It was HDB that built the flats without proper lifts in the first place. Therefore installing proper lifts is part of HDB’s “service recovery”, not a privilege accorded to residents by a magnanimous government.
Opposition MPs are not responsible for generating budget surpluses. There is therefore no basis for opposition MPs to lead the LUP…
This is a red herring. Neither are the PAP grassroots advisers, the PAP MPs, and even the PAP ministers responsible for budget surpluses. These surpluses would not have come about without the taxes paid by Singaporean workers and companies. Why should the PAP grassroots advisers front the LUP then? Is is just so that they can claim credit for the LUP, which they have already been doing?
The will of the people expressed in general elections is to elect a government for the country as a whole; and not to elect separate local governments for each constituency.
However, MPs do have a role in running town councils. Their role in town management and maintenance is clearly defined in the Town Councils Act, and does not extend to implementing government programmes such as the LUP.
In future, I will expect the MPs in PAP town councils not to have any role whatsoever in implementing LUP. They are not to publicize it, take credit for it or manage it.
This overtly partisan political manoeuvring by the PAP has really woken up many Singaporeans to the reality that the ruling party will do anything just to get a few more votes for themselves. Each reply from the HDB, PA, MND or the Minister digs them deeper and deeper into a hole of disdain in the eyes of Singaporeans.
Is this the direction we want to see politics heading in Singapore?