"Ministry: MP Low wrong on lift upgrading" (Straits Times Forum, Oct 13, 2009).
Once I find some time, I'll try to dig up all prior discussion on the topic to attempt to properly make sense of this. Right now, this letter seems to contradict everything that has been said before ... why we have town councils, why town councils are required to maintain reserves, what are CDCs for, the suggestion that Potong Pasir's S$4.5M sinking fund cannot handle LUP for a few blocks etc ...
Meanwhile, the contents of the article are found below.
I REFER to last Saturday's letter by Member of Parliament for Hougang Low Thia Khiang, 'No basis for MP not to announce lift upgrading'.
The joint letter last Friday by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the People's Association ('Why grassroots advisers announce lift upgrading') should be read in conjunction with Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan's explanation to the media last Wednesday.
As Mr Mah highlighted, HDB's upgrading programmes are carried out and funded by the Government. This is no different from other government programmes such as the building of roads and schools.
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 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.
Opposition MPs are not responsible for generating budget surpluses. There is therefore no basis for opposition MPs to lead the LUP - a national programme funded mainly by the Government. Mr Low is mistaken when he cites the 'will of the people' expressed in general elections to justify why he should play a leading role in the LUP in Hougang. 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.
Singapore has a one-level system of government. MPs, whether People's Action Party or opposition, do not constitute a local government in their 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.
Lim Yuin Chien
Press Secretary to the
Minister for National Development