Khaw Boon Wan

Khaw: Town councils should still be linked to MPs, not run by the HDB

The need to create a link between an elected MP and his voters through his work in the town council is a strategic imperative which cannot be faulted, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Monday.

"We should not return to a situation where HDB administers estates all over Singapore, and MPs have no authority or responsibility over what is done or how well things work," he said in a ministerial statement on town councils in Parliament.

However, he noted gaps in the current rules on handover of town councils between one political party to another, resulting in disagreements and difficulties, including recently when Punggol East changed hands from a People's Action Party (PAP) town council to a Workers' Party-run town council.

Political pressures on town councils also lead to poorer outcomes for residents, such as delaying necessary increases in Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) which go to building up the councils' sinking fund, and failing to strictly enforce by-laws on issues like obstruction of common corridors, he said.

He revealed that a government review of town councils, led by Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan, will look into three broad areas.

They are the councils' duties and responsibilities in relation to HDB, the adequacy of their sinking funds and long-term financial sustainability, and the arrangements when they change hands between MPs.