By Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the article “Initiative to aid HDB residents settle arrears” (My Paper, Apr 15).
7 October 1989Straits Times
“Dr Hong Hai, the council’s chairman and an MP in the Bedok GRC, suggested listing the names of late-payers on residents’ committees’ notice boards and in the council’s newsletter.
It is appalling to learn in yesterday’s Straits Times that up to 20 per cent of the residents have not paid their conservancy and service
What is most appalling of all is that the delinquent payers are identified a s “educated and well-off residents living in executive flats and four and five-room units”.
But when the reason “may be that they know the law too well and know that we don’t have the by-laws to penalise them”, then it is another story altogether.
However, what they can and should do is to hurry up with their by-laws which will enable them to impose a penalty, preferably on an escalating scale.
Of course, such draconian by-laws will affect genuine hardship cases even more than they will the well-off and educated.”
– Comment: Fast forward to today – are most of those in arrears still the rich and educated like in 1989?
Threats and harsh measures would show that Singapore was still an “immature” society?
7,400 in Ang Mo Kio owe town councils fees worth $500,00011 December 1989Straits Times
“RESIDENTS in the Ang Mo Kio area have joined the “half million dollar club” – about 7,400 households there owed their town councils almost half a million dollars inconservancy and service
fees, an MP disclosed on Saturday.
Besides the town councils in the Ang Mo Kio area, those in Bedok, Tiong Bahru, Redhill and Bukit Batok also face this late-payment problem.
The other three town councils which had money owing to them were Redhill Tow n Council ($130,600), Bukit Batok (about $230,000) and Tiong Bahru (about $200,000).
Speaking at the Ang Mo Kio South Town Council office, Mr Heng said that if threats and harsh measures were needed to solve the problem, it would show that Singapore was still an “immature” society.”
– Comment: Fast forward to today – Singapore has really “matured” as those in arrears are served legal letters, charged in court, fined or jailed!
Beginning of the end?
Town Councils may get more power – Dr Tay19 February 1990Straits Times
“Depending on costs, the service and conservancy
charges, which have not been revised for the past eight years, which is a long time, may have to be reviewed.”
More needy families asking for aid12 February 1999Straits Times
“MORE needy families have been applying for financial help in the last three months of 1998, said Community Development Minister Abdullah Tarmugi in Parliament yesterday.
Compared to the first three months of the same year, there was a 57 per cent increase in the number of families applying for the various schemes run by his ministry and other organisations – from 637 applications between January and March in 1998 to 998 in the last quarter of the year.”
Town councils can get help for those in arrears with their bills
21 March 1991
Straits Times“TOWN councils whose residents cannot pay their conservancy bills can refer them to the Singapore Council of Social Service to see if they can get help under the newly-established rent and utilities assistance scheme, said Dr Seet Ai Mee yesterday.She added, however, that many might not qualify as they were not genuine hardship cases.
So far, 68 families out of 144 referred cases had been given financial aid to pay their bills. Eight families declined help as they preferred to get it on their own or from relatives while 32 were rejected as they had the means to pay. The rest were being processed.”
Start to have penalties for arrears?
Six more town councils impose fines for late service charges15 May 1991Straits Times
“DIFFICULTIES with unpaid conservancy bills have forced another six town councils to impose penalty fees on late-payers.They are Bishan Serangoon, Sembawang, Toa Payoh, Marine Parade, Hougang and Bukit Batok.Last year, Ang Mo Kio South, Ang Mo Kio West and Cheng San imposed similar penalties.
Penalties in Bukit Batok, which will begin in July, are: $1 for one- and two-room flats, $5 for three- and four-room flats, $10 for bigger flats and stalls, and $15 for kiosks and shops.However, the minister said there were very few genuine hardship cases. Most late payers could afford to pay but waited until they were chased before doing so.”