Official reply fails to address concerns

The main concern was about the noise suffered by residents of HDB flats.
The main concern was about the noise suffered by residents of HDB flats.PHOTO: ST FILE

Government agencies should fully address the specific concerns expressed by Forum letter writers. Merely rehashing public policy while conveniently overlooking a writer's specific concerns cannot constitute a good official "reply".

The pool of contributors providing valid feedback on government policies and practices will shrink to no one's benefit if this is the current standard operating procedure for public servants.

The latest example of this practice is found in the National Environment Agency's reply (NEA acts on contractors violating noise regulations, and not only when there are complaints, March 28) to Mr Loong Chik Tong's letter (Understand link between noise and quality of life, March 18).

Mr Loong's feedback was not about the construction work in non-HDB residential areas or hospitals or schools, on which NEA's reply was focused. Neither was it about NEA's $2 million fund for which only big construction companies may apply.

His main concern was about the noise suffered by residents of HDB flats, namely the noise from the constant demolition and/or hacking work carried out as part of extensive renovation works when neighbouring HDB flats change hands.

Small renovation contractors are not expected to apply for NEA's $2 million fund.

Even bigger contractors engaged by the Housing Board or town councils to carry out the Home Improvement Programme, lift upgrading works, replacement of rising mains for water and electricity, and other maintenance works do not use noise-suppressing equipment either.

The quality of life for 80 per cent of the population living in HDB flats is at stake and the relevant authority should address this issue head on.

Steven Lo Chock Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2019, with the headline 'Official reply fails to address concerns'. Subscribe