WP’s Sylvia Lim rebuts ministry’s reply on lift upgrading

Sylvia Lim’s letter to the Straits Times:

I AM responding to the reply from the Minister for National Development’s press secretary on Tuesday (‘Ministry: MP Low wrong on lift upgrading’), as the Member of Parliament for Hougang, Mr Low Thia Khiang, is currently out of town.

The reply states that the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) letter last Friday (‘Why grassroots advisers announce lift upgrading’) ‘should be read in conjunction with’ the minister’s earlier explanations to the media.

This acknowledges that the reason given by the HDB in reply to Mr Muhammad Yusuf Osman’s letter (‘MPs should front initiative’, Oct 7) does not stand up to scrutiny.

Mr Muhammad Yusuf had pointedly asked why protocol seemed to be ignored when the HDB worked with the unelected candidates in opposition wards to announce lift upgrading programme (LUP) plans rather than with the elected MPs.

It is not disputed that the LUP is a government programme. After all, it is to rectify a design flaw in public housing which does not cater for an ageing society. Given this imperative, the public interest should trump politics.

Mr Low’s letter on Saturday (‘No basis for MP not to announce lift upgrading: Low’), responding to the HDB’s reply, was not about wanting credit for the programme.

He has stated that he is prepared to work with the Government’s appointees for the benefit of his constituents, and indeed has met the grassroots adviser several times over many months to give input on the LUP plans for Hougang.

It was the HDB’s unjustifiable answer to Mr Muhammad Yusuf – that the grassroots adviser was more appropriate than the MP to announce the LUP plans because he was able to gather residents’ input and marshal support for the plans – which compelled Mr Low’s response.

The HDB should have just given the real reason in its reply and not beat around the bush.

The Ministry of National Development’s (MND) reply on Tuesday further states that the LUP is funded from Budget surpluses, which opposition MPs are not responsible for generating.

However, the Budget surpluses are hardly the effort of the Government alone as they include significant contributions from the public through taxes, levies and stamp fees, which the Government simply reaps.

Finally, the MND reply also appears to interpret the general election as an event where the only outcome which matters is who forms the government.

This shows the respect the Government has for the people’s choice of MP, who is vested with the constitutional mandate to represent the constituency.

Sylvia Lim (Ms)
Workers’ Party