Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) is taking the People's Association (PA) to task over a Chinese New Year fair set up beside Heartland Mall in the Workers' Party-held Aljunied GRC.
The PA was issued with three different notices of offence on Jan 9 by the WP-run town council for infringing onto common property. This was two days after the fair, organised by the Kovan Merchants' Association, was held at the public site leased by the PA.
The notices did not indicate any other details of how the offences were committed, but said that "a notice of composition or a summons to attend Court will be served on you in due course". Kovan Merchants' Association secretary Poon Cher Hock, 55, told The Straits Times on Tuesday that an AHPETC officer told the association that they may issue a summon of $1,000 a day for the offence, "backdated to Dec 31 when the tentage was put up."
The WP and AHPETC did not respond to media queries as of Wednesday morning. But Mr Lee Bak Lee, 69, vice-chairman of Citizen Consultative Committee of Paya Lebar Division, felt that the town council was "nitpicking" with the merchants who had set up the fair.
"The tentage for the fair was put up on Dec 31 last year, even though the fair was to start from Jan 7 to 30 (this year)," he said. "But on the morning of Jan 7, a town council officer inspected the site and told the merchants that the tentage had intruded into one metre of the town council's property. The merchant immediately instructed his contractor to shrink the size of the tentage. The rectification was done by about 2pm, on the same day."
Mr Lee felt that those were small issues that were rectified immediately and there was no need for town council to issue the summons.
The AHPETC now manages communal spaces and leases them to trade fair organisers for a fee. Mr Lee said that the Kovan site is frequently used for community activities to promote bonding among the residents and "the town council should work at fostering closer ties with the residents and shopkeepers, not to find fault with them".
"The offence was unintentional," added Mr Poon. "We feel that it is unfair for town council to issue the summons to PA when they have allowed us to use the site out of goodwill."