Embattled town council 'not good for residents'

PAP's Teo Ser Luck speaking during an election rally on Sept 3, 2015.
PAP's Teo Ser Luck speaking during an election rally on Sept 3, 2015. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

It is not in residents' interests to be with a town council at loggerheads with various parties, said Punggol East PAP candidate Charles Chong, referring to the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPTEC) saga.

He is up against the Workers' Party's Ms Lee Li Lian in the 34,410-voter, single-member constituency (SMC).

Speaking at the Pasir Ris-Punggol rally yesterday night in the field next to Buangkok MRT station, the 62-year-old cautioned voters against remaining in a GRC with a town council that was "embroiled in dispute" with the Ministry of National Development (MND), the High Court, auditors and with its former managing agent.

Criticising WP's reaction to the fallout, he said: "It is also disconcerting that the key people in charge of the town council, instead of concentrating their efforts on finding solutions to their difficulties, are finding excuses about why they are unable to do a proper job."

"It is therefore timely... to get Punggol East out of AHPTEC, to get our accounts in order... and to eliminate the possibility of any of our managing agents writing 'owe money, pay money' on the wall of our town council office," he quipped.

Fellow rally speaker Lam Pin Min, Sengkang West SMC's PAP candidate, who is up against the Workers' Party's Mr Koh Choong Yong, rebutted claims that his party members were not good listeners.

"People say the PAP does not listen. Who says so? Do you think the columbarium issue was solved by itself?" he asked, adding that a dialogue session was swiftly held with residents after the news broke.

Last December, home buyers had objected to a columbarium being located next to a build-to-order residential project.

In January, the Government rejected plans by funeral services firm Eternal Pure Land to build the commercial columbarium. A second tender was then called.

The Minister of State for Health took a swipe at his opponent, suggesting that Mr Koh may not be aware the PAP had listened to residents' feedback since he had "disappeared for the past four years".

Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC candidate Zainal Sapari likened the opposition to magicians that appear only during elections. He also rebutted the opposition's minimum wage proposal. This would do little to improve the lives of low-income workers, he said.

"(Many firms) will not increase your salary because they have already paid the minimum," he said, adding that the older and physically-challenged workers might also lose their jobs due to the higher costs of employing them.

And what, asked the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general, has the opposition done for low-wage workers?

"Zero, nothing," he said.

Jessica Lim and Lydia Lam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2015, with the headline 'Embattled town council 'not good for residents''. Print Edition | Subscribe