National Day Rally 2014: New Municipal Services Office to serve residents seamlessly

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu (centre) will oversee a new Municipal Services Office will be set up to serve residents in a more seamless way. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu (centre) will oversee a new Municipal Services Office will be set up to serve residents in a more seamless way. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - A new Municipal Services Office will be set up to serve residents in a more seamless way.

It will get different agencies to work more closely together especially when responsibilities are split, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday night.

The new office aims to resolve the problem of residents getting frustrated when their complaints or requests bounce back and forth between several agencies.

It will be housed in the Ministry of National Development (MND) and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu will oversee it, Mr Lee added.

Ms Fu will work with National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, and more details will be announced later.

Mr Lee acknowledged the government could do better, and cited the experience of South West District mayor Low Yen Ling, whose residents complained about why the walkway to Bukit Gombak MRT station was often dirty.

She found out that a fishball stick had been left there for more than a day, because different parts of the walkway were managed by different agencies. The National Environment Agency (NEA) was responsible for the slope to the left of the walkway, while The National Parks Board (NParks) managed the park connector in the middle and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) was in charge of the pavement on the right.

The fishball stick had fallen on the right, an area which was cleaned every two days.

Ms Low's experience had been "frustrating and difficult", said PM Lee, but eventually it was resolved.

"Can you imagine if you're an ordinary citizen trying to solve such a problem and running around the different agencies? It's not the way we should be operating and we have to do better, to bridge these inter-agency boundaries and to serve the public in an integrated way," Mr Lee added.

He said the Government would try to do a better job, but added that citizens also had a role to play in making Singapore a better home.

He encouraged residents to be part of the solution by using technology like smartphone applications to give feedback and report problems they found.

For example, Ang Mo Kio residents can report estate maintenance issues using their town council's iConnect app. Others can also use NEA's myENV app to report issues like litter, construction and overflowing dustbins.