MPs must meet residents' future needs: Tan Chuan-Jin

Voters should pick party that will look out for their long-term interests, says minister

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin visits MacPherson Division with MP Tin Pei Ling.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin visits MacPherson Division with MP Tin Pei Ling. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

A more competitive election means more choice for Singaporeans, but they must still use their vote to pick a party that will meet not just their present but also their future needs.

Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who helms Marine Parade GRC, said this yesterday at a walkabout in MacPherson, where he responded to questions on the redrawing of boundaries and possible electoral battles.

"Having a contest is always good, it keeps us on our toes. It offers options for residents," he said.

But competition should not stop MPs from focusing on their work. They should not only serve residents' needs, but also look out for their long-term interests.

Mr Tan was on the walkabout with Ms Tin Pei Ling, also a Marine Parade GRC MP. She oversees MacPherson ward, which will be a Single-Member Constituency at the next polls. Marine Parade GRC will, in turn, absorb Joo Chiat SMC.

The Workers' Party (WP) has staked its claim on Marine Parade GRC and MacPherson SMC for the next polls. The National Solidarity Party and Singaporeans First party have also expressed interest.

Mr Tan said his PAP team would focus on serving residents and doing "the right thing".

Elaborating, he said the Government was always thinking about how to better Singaporeans' lives, while also planning for the future.

Likewise, MPs should do the same with the town councils they run. For example, he said, town councils should ensure that they can cater for long-term projects that could be costly, such as lift replacements, and not just focus on residents' day-to-day needs.

"Making sure that what we do is sustainable is very important... which is why sinking funds are very critical for us," he said, adding that town councils need to keep their finances in order.

Town councils are required by law to transfer a portion of the service and conservancy fees collected into their sinking funds. The money in the fund is earmarked for longer-term maintenance projects, such as repainting common areas and upgrading lifts.

Mr Tan did not cite any town council in particular, but the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council has been in the spotlight over governance and accounting lapses, including over transfers to its sinking fund.

The new MacPherson SMC would still come under the Marine Parade Town Council after the electoral boundary changes, Mr Tan said, adding that it was important from a local governance and administration standpoint.

Stressing good local governance, he said he had told Aljunied GRC residents during an April visit that the Government's work will benefit all Singaporeans, regardless of whom they voted for.

"What we can't do is the local governance and that's something that individuals have to decide for themselves - who best provides for them for the present and also the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline 'MPs must meet residents' future needs: Tan Chuan-Jin'. Subscribe