Former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) and Workers’ Party (WP) politician Yee Jenn Jong says it is “ridiculous” for un-elected candidates to be given the power to approve community projects suggested by elected MPs.
“It is ridiculous and a mockery of our democracy for un-elected and losing candidates of GE [General Election] to be approving community projects (funded by taxpayers) initiated by elected members of parliament, and delaying or ignoring chasers because it is simply playing dirty and inconveniencing residents who may badly need these facilities,” Me Yee said in a Facebook post on Friday (25 October).
He was referring to the People’s Association’s (PA) grassroots adviser, Chua Eng Leong, for his latest online dispute with WP’s chief Pritam Singh over the delay in completion of a barrier-free-access (BFA) ramp.
It all started when Mr Singh revealed in a Facebook post on 15 October that a BFA ramp at Blk 108 Bedok Reservoir Road was finally opened to the public, seven years after it was proposed. The opposition MP also noted that in order for community improvement projects at Town Councils to be funded, MPs have to raise them to the Grassroots Advisers for considerations, 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.
He also pointed out that the project took years to complete when it should have only taken months.
“How many senior citizens, immobile, and yet others recovering from episodes such as debilitating strokes could have benefited from this facility earlier, but for how the PAP determines the People’s Association operates in opposition wards. Other proposals by opposition MPs for the community are commonly ignored by the People’s Association,” Mr Singh lamented.
Mr Singh’s post irked Mr Chua, causing the latter to take to his Facebook to hit back at WP’s chief. Mr Chua said that Mr Singh’s comments were “unsubstantiated” and “politically divisive and inaccurate”.
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 – said 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.
Additionally, Mr Chua also revealed that the funding for the ramp and other community improvement projects were secured in September 2016, and the construction for the ramp commenced in December 2018 and it was handed over to Town Council this month.
In response to this, Mr Singh said in a separate post, that he was glad that the “CCC finally engage this issue, albeit only after things have to go to public”. He also noted “repeated emails, requests for answers have gone unanswered and ignored, over many years”.
He also stated that now he understands that the BFA ramp was “concurrently proposed”. Hence he asked “why was there a delay” given that the funding was secured in 2016.
“If funding was already secured in 2016 (putting aside the fact that it oddly took 3-4 years to secure funding, especially since the MND allocated about $40m each year for CIPC projects), I cannot find a substantive reason for the delay in Mr Chua’s long post below,” he said.
Mr Yee’s view on the matter
In Mr Yee’s post, he said that he lost in the 2011 General Election by 1%, about the same margin as Mr Chua in the 2015 General Election. However, Mr Yee noted that he “had no access to the PA and no ability to use facilities in Joo Chiat SMC for any political activities”.
“I certainly could not approve projects like what Mr Chua can,” he wrote.
Despite not having “access and powers that Mr Chua and other losing PAP candidates now have”, Mr Yee stated that his party still managed to do their political outreach in the most capable manner as they could.
“And Joo Chiat SMC was wiped off the electoral boundaries in 2015 and then the General Elections was swiftly called,” he said.
Recently, the Straits Times’ Opinion Editor Chua Mui Hoong wrote an opinion piece warning the PAP of a possible backlash if they continue to be overly domineering. The article referred to a leading 4G leader who attacked Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa’at over the cancellation of Yale-NUS controversial module on dissent.
Citing this as an example, Mr Yee said he thinks “the same principle applies here and in some other cases where the politics of dominance has gone too far that it alienates the people”.
“Singapore belongs to Singaporeans and not to the PAP. No doubt many Singaporeans, myself included are grateful that the first generation leaders got us onto the right track for good economic development. That does not mean that we approve of undemocratic methods to entrench themselves in power, Mr Yee wrote.
He added, “If the people chooses to let PAP continue to be the vastly dominant ruling party, that will be their choice but it should not be because of threats over their own well-being.”
“We should not allow dominance to be the passport to hold Singaporeans hostage through unjustifiable and undemocratic methods.”