Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan’s void deck event at a Bukit Batok HDB block requires a permit, as it is “a cause-based” one, said police on Saturday (27 Feb).
Police have stated that all activities deemed “non-essential” — including such cause-based ones — are restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic to encourage safe distancing.
The event, which was supposed to be held at the void deck at Block 192 Bukit Batok West Ave 6 today, was targeted at help residents collect more signatures for a petition to be submitted to the Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JRTC).
The petition concerns urging JRTC to build a pavement from Block 194 to Block 187 instead of leaving pedestrians having to walk on the road with passing vehicles.
This was originally slated to take place from 2 pm to 4 pm today.
Dr Chee and his team were already present at Block 299 on Friday night to help residents gather signatures for the petition.
“The response was enthusiastic and overwhelming as many have used the route and agree that it is not safe for residents to walk on the road,” he said.
Despite the warm response, Dr Chee noted that “in the last couple of weeks, we have not been able to visit all the blocks”.
“Also, many of you were not home when I came a-calling over the several occasions,” he said, before urging residents to support the initiative by signing the petition, which will be submitted to the Town Council after the session.
“Even if you’ve signed the petition, come by anyway. I’d love to see you again and have coffee with you (will have some on standby),” said Dr Chee.
In a live video on his Facebook page today, Dr Chee said, following the police’s move to prohibit the event: “The next best thing for me to do is to go up to residents and continue with this exercise of helping residents collect (their) signatures.”
“I won’t be here at the void deck, even though I’ve already prepared this coffee here. But, you know, later on, if we have some time … Just come down and chat. I’d love to hear from you,” he added.
Dr Chee explained that experts have communicated to him that a pathway can be constructed for the residents in the specific area.
“Some of the reasons that the Town Council has given is, “Look, you have these lamp posts here, and it is expensive to construct a walkway, and then there’s an existing path for residents to walk on.”
“But the problem is that when you have to walk under the blocks, think of parents with children, or people having groceries to carry, and if they have to use this block, the route underneath the blocks you’re talking about is a very convoluted pathway and a very long alternative route to get to work,” he said.
Dr Chee said that it is possible to build a “simple concrete pavement for residents here for safety reasons”, which does not take a lot to do.
“This is a much needed, much-used walkway … The residents have been clamouring for this for years,” he said.
Dr Chee added that some residents have also indicated that a proper concrete pathway does not exist at another walkway on the other side of Avenue 1 at Block 299 and 296.
“Not even a sheltered walkway, just a concrete pathway for them to work on … They have to navigate and manoeuvre in between cars and that’s a dangerous situation again.
“If you are able-bodied, maybe that’s not a problem, but think of elderly folks and wheelchair-bound people, or parents having to push their children on strollers,” he stressed.
JRTC in a Facebook post on Thursday said that it will “evaluate the proposal” on the grounds of safety and other considerations such as access for mobility challenged residents, site conditions, costs, and so on.
“Over the years we have built many amenities, including walkways, thanks to your feedback and support,” said the town council.