Saturday, June 17, 2006

Upgrading as carrot: expect more of the same

Mr.Mah Bow Tan (Straits Times 17 June 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 TanMinister for National Development

My comments: The cynics on both sides have won! The line has been drawn in the sand.
I was hoping that there would be some sort of "healing" after the GE and that we can genuinely move ahead as a nation regardless of how we voted. I was not insincere when I credited the PM for wanting to come together as one people and moving on and "making things happen".( can't find the exact quotation- too early in the day and brain not functioning)
I guess cynics have a right to say, " I TOLD YOU SO!"
Is there no hope that this government can ever rise above the level of parochial divisive politics?


Anonymous said...

It is not just about upgrading but Developing the 2 towns as a whole.

I have heard of Golden Village wanting to build a multiplex in HG or PP but was rejected by filmsy reasons.

Even if it is not true, the gist is there.

Singapore is already small enough, we cannot afford party politics right down to the bone.

It is too dangerous and created a dangerous precedent.

Every Singaporean is a resource and not cost or burden.

Party politics can be played at elsewhere or at elections but it is not right to use thousands of Singaporeans as gambling chips or pawns.

PAP is becoming dangerous to Singapore in their pursuit of staying in power.

Worker's Party must develop at a much faster pace. Singapore and Singaporeans cannot wait too long.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon,
I agree that each of us is a resource. I am esply worried as there are many who seem to have been bypassed in the recent "globalisation" drive. Doing their previous jobs are so-called Foreign Talents who work for much less. I cannot reconcile this new reality. We are leaving people behind! I don't blame the foreigners. If you make so easy for them to come, they will come right? The rich-poor divide is alarming! I know as I mix around with many who have been to Paris more times than Pasir Ris!
Dr. Huang