Empathy, empathy, where art thou?

Yaw Shin Leong

I refer to the news report, ‘Little political impact in town council report’ (Straits Times, 12th July 2010).

In my opinion, even if the released Town Council [Management] Report was indeed meant to create ‘political impact’ to the disadvantage of the opposition-run town councils, I am of the view that the report might have potentially achieved the contrary.

Pertaining to the situation of SC/CC arrears, fellow Singaporeans should be able to discern for ourselves that opposition-run town councils, specifically WP-run HGTC, have more empathy towards residents who are in financial difficulties and via compassionate assistance, allow residents to pay their arrears by means of monthly installments to ease their financial hardships.

Of course, empathy must be administered with discern and prudence, in cases where residents fail to pay or respond to HGTC’s reminder for payment, summons will still be issued to attend court. Such a procedure in place will ensure that the empathy element will be in place even in the administrative function of SC/CC collection to ensure that the arrears situation remains manageable.

More importantly, WP-run HGTC does not believe in writing off arrears of residents who repeatedly fail to pay as bad debts in order to reduce the total amount of arrears. The rationale is that, if this is to be done, it will not be fair to residents who have been paying promptly. This means for those residents who continue not to pay, late payment interest is imposed and they will have to pay their total arrears with late payment interest.

Lastly I agree with the concerns of MP Low Thia Khiang that [the TCMR exercise] will inevitably require respective TCs to put in more resources and would certainly translate into higher operating costs, resulting in residents potentially ending up paying higher SC/CC.

For residents living in PAP-run town councils, perhaps the question to ask should be ‘Empathy, Empathy, where art thou?’


The article first appeared on Mr Yaw’s Facebook page. We thank Mr Yaw, who is also the Organising Secretary of the Workers’ Party,  for allowing us to publish it here on TOC.


The views expressed in the above article are those of the writer and are in no way representative of the views or opinions of the organizations he may belong to.

Little Political Impact in Town Council Report (Straits Times, 12th July 2010)