Andrew Loh / Deputy Editor
It is hard not to be angry. And be very angry at that.
On 15th September 2007, according to Channel NewsAsia, the HDB said the following with regards to the new flats in Punggol:
… 81 percent of residents said they were willing to pay more for service and conservancy to enjoy the new flat designs. About half of them said they were willing to pay above S$10 more than the usual rates.
And on 5 May 2008, Aljunied Town Council even wanted to raise S&C for the “dirtiest precints”:
Officials also said they will consider raising the conservancy charges for the dirtiest precincts to cover the extra work that goes into maintaining them …
Later, after some public outcry, the town council backtracked and said they never intended to raise S&C at all but that they were going to have the dirtiest precints cleaned more frequently instead.
And now, of course, we hear they have $1 billion of funds in their kitty. No wait, they have $2 billion. If you’re wondering which is which, I too am unsure.
In Dec 2007, Straits Times reported:
This new rule, which kicked in yesterday, applies to more than $1 billion in sinking funds managed by the 16 town councils in Singapore.
The Straits Times reported the same, one year later, on 17 November 2008:
The 16 town councils manage more than $1 billion in sinking funds.
But CNA, on 17 November, reported:
Based on the 14 PAP town councils’ latest financial statements submitted to the National Development Ministry, these investments amounted to 0.6 per cent of their total funds of S$2 billion.
So, perhaps the understanding is this: They have $1 billion in their sinking funds and $2 billion in total? Now, as many have asked: What on earth are town councils hoarding – yes, it’s plain simple hoarding – such a huge sum of money?
Considering that S&C charges, which on average is about $40 or so per household, that’s a huge amount of money! And as I wrote in an earlier article, why aren’t the town councils helping residents more with such a huge sum of funds at a time when the cost of living has spiraled out of control and Singaporeans are experiencing record inflation?
None of the town councils have reduced their S&C charges.
So, when Mr Teo Ho Pin, co-ordinating chairman for all the PAP town councils, said:
They (residents) should thank the Town Council for working hard to come up with a diversified portfolio to generate income so that residents do not have to fork out more money…
It just makes your blood boil.
Especially so for those who were brought to the courts for failing to pay their S&Cs, or who are presently having difficulties paying their S&Cs. (I can relate to this, remembering how my mother used to be worried sick every month thinking about how she was going to pay the S&C charges for her 3-room flat.)
Or for those who have had their flats repossessed by the town councils because they could not pay their S&Cs. Yes, town councils now have the power to do that.
So, it’s hard not to be angry.
The town councils should, in all decency and honesty, come clean.
And stop engaging in smug arrogance with atrociously insensitive remarks.
At the very least, it makes the MPs look stupid.
Such naked arrogance is, truly, beneath those who claim to be “public servants”.