The People’s Association’s (PA) grassroots adviser, Chua Eng Leong, for Eunos ward took to his Facebook on Saturday (19 October) to hit back at Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh over what Mr Chua refers to as “unsubstantiated comments” about the delay in the completion of a barrier-free-access (BFA) ramp at Blk 108 Bedok Reservoir Road.
Mr Chua – who was part of the People’s Action Party (PAP) team that lost to WP in Aljunied GRC during the 2015 General Election – stated that Mr Singh’s allegations are “politically divisive and factually inaccurate”, and he decide to respond to it in order to maintain a “level of accountability” to the people of Singapore.
He was referring to Mr Singh’s Facebook post on Tuesday (15 October) where the opposition MP said that the BFA ramp was only opened to the public, seven years after it was first proposed. Mr Singh revealed that for projects to be funded by the government, MPs have to raise them to the Grassroots Advisers for consideration, which can be challenging as the losing PAP candidate are appointed as Grassroots advisers in opposition wards like Aljunied and Hougang.
As such, Mr Singh asserted that the PAP is “divisive” and have “double standard” when it comes to how certain process operate in opposition party.
In response to this, Mr Chua announced in his post that the BFA ramp is only one of the many community improvement projects by the People’s Association Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCC) in Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC.
He added that Mr Singh’s allegation that the completion of the BFA ramp was deliberately delayed as it was mooted by the opposition was “unjustifiable” since the project was also proposed by the Eunos CCC.
Dismissing Mr Singh’s claims, Mr Chua said that the BFA ramp “were completed within a reasonable period of time once the underlying issues were resolved”, after its funding was secured in 2016.
On the subject of accountability, Mr Chua also sarcastically noted that accountability is a responsibility of all parties to the people of Singapore, including those “parties (who) have been found to be in breach of their fiduciary duties”.
“Instead of engaging in an online debate, I urge everyone to remember our priority is to our fellow Singaporeans and we should focus on accountability to them and not debate on a completed BFA Ramp, which is but a mere red herring,” Mr Chua wrote.
Responding to Mr Chua’s remarks, MP Singh also took to his Facebook on the same day to shoot down the grassroots adviser’s remarks.
Mr Singh said that he now understands that the BFA ramp was “concurrently proposed” but asked “why was there a delay” given that the funding was secured in 2016.
On top of that, Mr Singh also questioned if “a seven year wait for a proposal to come to fruition the norm in PAP wards where taxpayers monies are also used to fund CPIC projects?”
Mr Singh also added, “Mr Chua contends that the BFA ramp is a red herring. He is wrong. It is a metaphor – A very powerful metaphor for the double standards when it comes to CIPC funding in opposition wards.”
Upon reading this online spar, many netizens showed their support towards Mr Singh. Commenting in the Facebook pages of TODAY, Yahoo News and The Straits Times, they said that they agree with Mr Singh that “7 years is indeed an unacceptable timeline for proposal to completion” for the BFA ramp. They added that Mr Chua is “unheard of” and he is using “opportunity to gain popularity”. Others called him a “bully” for trying “to sidetrack of ongoing WP’s case” instead of resolving the actually issue.
Former NMP Calvin Cheng said that it’s ridiculous for Mr Singh to “be asked to through the grassroots advisor, most likely the candidate he defeated at the GE, in order to get projects approved”.
Echoing the same sentiment, many other online users also feel it’s “such nonsense politics” to get “elected opposition MPs..to seek permission from grassroots advisers that are NOT elected by the residents”.
Others pointed out that there are many obstacles placed in front of WP and hope that people will “support a party who also serve the people”. A number of them also agreed with Mr Singh and said that there’s “double standard” in the PAP government.