The alternative news in 1 day? (part 47) – “Fixing” my town council?

I refer to the article “ST downplays news of NEA taking AHPETC to court” (TR Emeritus, Feb 1).

Summons against town council?

It states that “In addition to issuing a summons against AHPETC (‘NEA issues summons against AHPETC‘), NEA issued notices to residents and their family members assisting at the fair to attend court and pay fines. NEA said 4 stallholders had been served with a notice because they were “hawking without a licence”.

“AHPETC has continued to blatantly break the law and wilfully exposed their tenants to legal action.”

Summons against stallholders and workers too?

Earlier, on 30 January 2014, TR Emeritus reported that a group of NEA officers had been sent to “raid” the trade fair at Hougang Central Hub on the eve of Chinese New Year (‘NEA spoils Hougang residents’ mood on CNY Eve‘).”

Working unusually hard during CNY?

As a resident in Aljunied town council, I believe many of my fellow residents may be puzzled by the NEA’s actions during what has always been a festive period.

For example, I was given the understanding (although I have no way of verifying this) that during the 3 days of Chinese New Year and the eve of CNY – there may be some let up on traffic fines, littering fines, etc.

So, why is the NEA in a sense, going out of its way (since I believe what has happened has never been done in the past) – to be kind of like a spoilsport – in our constituency?

I find the actions of the NEA to be somewhat unreasonable. If there is indeed a problem between the town council and the NEA – why seemingly take it out against and make the life of the “innocent” stallholders and their workers miserable during CNY?

Isn’t issuing them with notices to pay fines and to attend court during CNY being rather high-handed, unreasonable and arguably, in very “poor taste”?

Other town councils can run fairs?

As to “Quote from Yahoo.com.sg (http://sg.news.yahoo.com/nea-takes-aljunied-hougang-punggol-east-town-council-to-court-over-trade-fair-072809502.html)

The Ministry of National Development also said town councils are not allowed to engage in commercial activities, including the organisation and operation of fairs, “as these are not related to their statutory function of management and maintenance of common property”.

According to the NEA, MND informed AHPETC of this on 14 January. Checks by Yahoo Singapore in the Town Councils Act do not show such a clause or section. Yahoo Singapore understands that this rule is a policy stance of the ministry’s.

Please read the last paragraph carefully.

In any case, for PAP wards, the town councils skirt the issue altogether by renting out spaces in their constituency for fairs to People’s Association grassroots organizations like citizens’ consultative committees, never mind that these grassroots organizations are closely linked to PAP (‘Politicians clash over politicisation of grassroots at forum‘)”

The grassroots organization – not the PAP town council – is the organizer. This way, the PAP town council cannot be accused of engaging in commercial activities”

– This action by the NEA may be the last straw that may break the camel’s back as to whatever goodwill and chances of getting Aljunied back to the ruling party. Many of my neighbours and friends had hoped that with all the consistent rhetoric of “transformation”, “national conversation”, etc – that Singapore would truly move away from its old undemocratic ways – like “no upgrading if you don’t vote for us”.

One united people … ?

In this connection however, the following happenings after Aljunied was won by an opposition party – does not bode well for the future of our country, and the unity and inclusiveness of all Singaporeans – like our national pledge – “as one united people … to build a democratic society based on justice and equality”:-

One after another “fixing” of … ?

… taking over the control of some facilities in the town council, to be under the People’s Association (PA)

… the “AIM” town council software affair

… section 34 of the town council act requiring the transfer of 100% of the accumulated operating surplus to the sinking fund, when a different party wins

… the spat over the cleaning of hawker centres

… the Kovan trade fair controversy

… proposal to take some hawker centres’ management away from town councils – to be run on a non-profit basis by interested bodies

… and now the “illegal” CNY fair

The whole world is laughing at us?

All the above may have made Singaporeans, and in particular the residents of Aljunied – the laughing stock of the world!

Uniquely Singapore! A first-world country indeed!

Leong Sze Hian

 

 

About the Author

Leong
Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.