Amid criticism levied against Community Development Councils (CDCs) for being potentially too expensive and an exercise of job duplication, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called CDCs the “crucial bridge” between the Government and the residents in Singapore.
“CDCs … are the crucial bridge between residents and the Government. You are eyes and ears on the ground, helping us identify where residents are being under-served. You are also our hands and legs, mobilising the community, resources, partners, to implement programmes to bridge these gaps, meet these needs.”
Surely the members of parliament (MPs) that Singaporeans elect to represent them are the “crucial bridge between residents and the Government” and not the unelected CDCs?
We have 93 elected MPs. Surely, they and their teams should be the ones that are the “eyes and ears on the ground”? If not, what are the elected MPs (the bulk of which are from the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP)) doing?
Is PM Lee suggesting that he does not trust the bulk of elected PAP MPs to be the “crucial bridge” between the Government and residents?
As lawyer and activist, Teo Soh Lung has previously observed, there are five mayors in our little island of 721.5 sq kilometres with a population of 5.7 million in comparison with huge cities like London and New York where there is only one mayor. In addition, a mayor’s minimum annual salary is $660,000. If the salary as MP, which is $192,500 per annum is added, the given mayor gets a minimum of about $71,000. This is near twice the salary of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern who earns just $35,800 a month. And New Zealand has a population of 4.886 million. If Singapore’s 5.7 million population is divided by 5, each mayor “takes care” of 1.14 million people.