In yet another incident over municipal issues, the chairman of the Kaki Bukit Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC), David Poh, has accused the Workers’ Party (WP) of allegedly not nominating the ward for the Home Improvement Programme (HIP).
The HIP is a national upgrading programme. On the Housing and Development website, it says:
“The Home Improvement Programme (HIP) helps you, the flat owners, to deal with common maintenance problems related to ageing flats, such as spalling concrete and ceiling leaks, in a systematic and comprehensive manner.
“Flats built up to 1986 and which have not undergone the Main Upgrading Programme (MUP) are eligible for HIP.”
Application or nomination for such upgrading projects must be submitted by the town council and must be supported by the grassroots adviser to the ward, which is usually a People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP), or the losing candidate of the PAP.
In a letter to residents which was posted on the notice boards of Kaki Bukit, dated 3 May 2014, Mr Poh claimed that the WP town council had not nominated any such upgrading projects for Kaki Bukit.
“The CCC understands that many of our residents are facing problems like spalling concrete, toilet floor water leakage etc, and look forward to HIP coming to their blocks. Kaki Bukit is one of the oldest estates in Singapoe, with some flats as old as 37 years,” Mr Poh’s letter to residents said.
Mr Poh’s claims, however, were swiftly met with a rebuttal from the WP’s Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).
The Town Council, which is headed by WP chairman Sylvia Lim, said:
“In nominating clusters of blocks for the HIP, AHPETC considers the age of the blocks as well as the need to ensure that, over time and in the interest of fairness to all residents, all wards across the Town Council are nominated for such upgrading projects. As a mature town with in excess of 700 blocks of flats, AHPETC hosts many old blocks of flats in addition to those in Kaki Bukit. The exception is Punggol East SMC, which has newer blocks that do not qualify for HIP.”
AHPETC also said that in 2012 and 2013, it had nominated various clusters in the Eunos, Hougang, Paya Lebar and Kaki Bukit wards for the HIP program.
“The Kaki Bukit cluster (Blocks 533 to 536) was eventually selected by HDB for 2013,” the Town Council said.
“For 2014, the Town Council nominated clusters in the Bedok Reservoir-Punggol, Serangoon and Paya Lebar wards for the HIP. HDB selected the clusters in Bedok Reservoir-Punggol and Serangoon wards for FY 2014.”
In fact, AHPETC said that when it took over the town council in 2011 following its victory in the general elections, “many HIP-eligible blocks including those in Kaki Bukit had not yet been nominated nor chosen for HIP.”
“The HDB has since announced that it would ramp up the HIP project, increasing the number of eligible units per year from 28,000 units to 35,000 units. Next year, we will nominate more clusters for HIP and look forward to HDB’s fair consideration of the nominations.”
This is not the first time that the WP has been accused of not supporting the HIP.
During the general elections of 2011, the PAP team in Nee Soon GRC sent out a letter to residents just hours before the campaign period ended.
In its letter, the PAP team – which was being led by K Shanmugam, Lee Bee Wah, Lim Wee Kiak, Muhammad Faishal Inbrahim, Patrick Tay Teck Guan – claimed that the WP “is against LUP, HIP, and other upgrading."
They based their claim on what WP candidate Gerald Giam had written on his blog criticising the government’s Asset Enhancement Programme which was started in 1991. Mr Giam had said that the programme “has been proven to be a flawed policy of the PAP”, and that “HDB flats should remain no-frills public housing.”
The PAP letter then concluded that “WP says prices of HDB flats should be kept low by keeping your flats looking old and without facilities.”
It then listed 4 areas which WP allegedly were against, among which was the HIP.
In its response, the WP said the PAP letter was a “cheap attempt to frighten voters.”
“The PAP has circulated a political leaflet to all households containing accusations that ‘the WP is against LUP, HIP and Other Upgrading’ programmes,” the WP said then.
“This is misleading and mischievous. It was distributed just before the close of the campaign period, leaving little time for WP to respond and set the record straight.”
The WP said it is “ludicrous for the party to be against a programme that presents clear benefits to residents, like having lifts on every floor.”
“Indeed, Hougang Town Council has spent substantial sums of money to help implement LUP in Hougang Town,” the party said.
Upgrading programmes for public flats has been a contentious issue for many years, since it was introduced in fact. Wards managed by opposition parties, such as Potong Pasir and Hougang, were pushed to the back of the queue for such programmes by the ruling PAP.
It is thus ironic that the opposition WP is now being accused of not supporting such programmes.
The following is a list of the upgrading works which have been carried out or are currently being carried out in Aljunied GRC, which the Kaki Bukit ward falls within. These are from the WP Town Council's "Good Neighbours" newsletter (May 2012, November 2012, May 2013, September 2013 and January 2014 issues):