20 years of town councils – yet no stake in governance for residents

It has been 20 years since town councils were instituted to take charge of the running of HDB estates. Previously, estates were run by the Housing and Development Board. Town councils were, it was initially hoped, suppose to “function as a form of local government and give residents more say in the estate they live in”, as reported in the Straits Times of 27 June 2009.

However, 20 years on, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, in an interview with the Straits Times, admits there is a “missing link” between residents and their town councils. He was referring to the devolvement of governance of the estate, “to give them (residents) a stake in the process of governance”.

SM Goh said:

I would not say that the direct link has been forged yet between residents and the Town Councils. But Town Councils have been successful in getting the grassroots leaders to understand the linkage between what Town Councils can do and what the people must do.

Mr Lim Boon Heng concurred, saying, “We have not yet imbued the sense of personal and collective responsibility in the residents.”

What are your views of your town council?

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