Saturday, 15 November 2014

SG Leaks: Town Council Act, Toothless by Design

In response to Bertha Henson's questions (on her blog Bertha Harian) about: (a) why the Government has not acted when the AHPETC did not (or chose not to) submit reports on its S&CC fees for more than a year; and (b) whether there was a trigger point or legislation for the Government to step in short of AHPETC going bankrupt, senior government official spoke to SG Leaks on the condition of anonymity.
The official shared the following perspective ...
"The Town Council Act is admittedly an act that was crafted by design to be toothless so as to give the elected Members of Parliament (MP) autonomy to run their wards as they saw fit. This was a deliberate decision taken in complete knowledge that it may not be good governance regardless of which party runs the Town Council. Nonetheless, as the electorate wanted an opposition party in Parliament, the Government of the day gave citizens what they wanted. And, as nothing impacts the electorate more directly then the environment they lived in, the politicalization of the Town Councils occurred. With the Town Councils now run by their elected MPs (PAP or otherwise), the electorate could hold their elected MP directly responsible for their livelihood and in a sense live with the result of the choices."
The official further elaborated that the public's na├»ve belief that every civil servant is a PAP supporter has also hindered the Government's ability to act. In view of the political nature of the Town Councils, even if the Government wanted to act, there is the fear that the public would only view it as the PAP "fixing" the opposition. A good example being the ongoing court case between AHPETC and the NEA over a simple permit for a trade fair.
Ironically, there are many in Government who want to act to protect the interests of Singaporeans living in Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East, but are being hindered by fear of how it will be perceived. The sooner the public perceives the Government as being impartial, the better we can do our jobs.

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