Opposition Mr Goh Meng Seng (former Secretary General of the National Solidarity Party (NSP) for Singapore GE 2011) slams the Workers Party of Singapore for their handling of the AHPETC trade fair issue. Goh Meng Seng is touted by opposition lawyer Ravi Philemon as one of a few good Singaporean politicians who will do good for Singapore if they get elected and represent Singaporeans in parliament.
Here is what Goh Meng Seng has to say about The Workers Party of Singapore .....
Let me piece up all the missing pieces of the AHPeTC sagas... from 50% arrears from commercial tenants to ceiling gate and the fine for illegal trade fair.
In 2012 and 2013, many things happened in WP's wards. First the ceiling gate and then the trade fair saga. Finally, it develops into AHPeTC management and financial saga which resulted in high S&CC arrears.
We may speculate about what happen in all these sagas and apparently, there are traces of PAP's own grassroots people involved, both in the hawker ceiling gate and trade fair saga. This is a natural development because all along, PAP has recruited those who are in charge of those local trade and hawkers associations to become their ground men.
There are two theories. One, PAP has used these local grassroots organizations as the front to embarrass or even "cripple" WP AHPeTC. Two, something went wrong in WP AHPeTC management whereby there are people who just got too greedy and started to do funny things to "milk" the system.
I believe both existed. WP has not explained why it would allow its contractors to demand additional fees from the hawkers despite the fact that it says that it has already fulfill its "contractual obligations" in the hawker ceiling gate. It has side stepped that very important question and LTK even backtracked from his promise of "investigating" into the matter and closed the case in hush hush manner.
Of course, the PAP grassroots-controlled hawker and trade associations have took the opportunity to hit hard on WP AHPeTC and indeed, the minister in charge, Vivian has started to point his fingers at WP's integrity in the whole issue.
The recent court battle between WP AHPeTC and NEA (under Minister Vivian again) over the rights to hold trade fairs has brought up a few interesting points. Here again, the local trade associations controlled by PAP grassroots are involved in the whole battle.
The first important point to debate is whether it is logical or appropriate for an Elected representative, MP, to seek "permission" from a totally non-elected representatives of trade associations to hold trade fairs on premises and areas which is within the MP's Town Council's prerogative. The seemingly valid argument is that any trade fairs held by Town Council would affect business of those tenants who have paid hefty rent for their shops located there. But we have to be mindful that such trade associations controlled by PAP's grassroots representatives may "politicize" the issue and prevented Opposition held TC from putting up trade fairs for the benefits of the residents. This is a REAL concern on the ground when grassroots organizations like PA and local trade associations are being politicized and controlled by PAP.
However, it was reported that AHPeTC has been putting up trade fairs weeks after weeks (back to back?) for at least 6 months prior to an uproar of shopkeepers in the ward. Apparently, AHPeTC has rented out the common area to an alleged WP associate/supporter to run trade fairs for a prolonged period. This has inevitably angered some of the shop owners affected. Well, put it simply, if you are running a business there, paying high rental, would you be pissed off by the TC which keeps putting up trade fairs with tenants who pay less rent but sell the same items that you are selling?
In all fairness, I think AHPeTC has mismanaged the whole trade fair issue. It should not have rented out the common space for a prolonged period for trade fairs or continuous trade fairs. It has become insensitive and inconsiderate to the shop owners in the vicinity. Whether or not PAP took the opportunity to politicize the issue, AHPeTC has made a terrible mistake in doing so. When you try to do something that will break the rice bowls of others, be prepared for uprising and repercussions.
A balance of interests must be weighed carefully before AHPeTC went into the madness of trying to "make more money" for the TC.
AHPeTC has stated a couple of reasons on why it has chose to go to court over this Trade Fair saga. One of them is "Public Interests". I guess "Public Interests" should also include the interests of those shop owners affected.
The second most important reason is revenue lost for AHPeTC. Apparently that is the more important reason for AHPeTC. But if the court is to rule in favour of AHPeTC, would it mean that AHPeTC will have a free hand to do exactly what it did before this... rented out the common space for almost uninterrupted trade fairs within the vicinity under its charge? Will that be a REASONABLE thing to do?
The key issue here, is not "Public Interests" but rather, the balancing of interests from various stakeholders. Apparently, AHPeTC has lost the balance and in the end, created a mess out of it.
And this comes to my last point. When you add up the Hawker Ceiling Saga and Trade Fair saga, will you be surprised if some of the commercial tenants (including hawkers and shop owners) just decide to go on their own "civil disobedience" by not paying their S&CC charges?
Here again, PAP might have made use of this opportunity to do AHPeTC in because basically, they have politicized the grassroots organizations. But we cannot know for sure. However, it was WP's own mistakes which provide them such excuses and opportunity to do so.
Eventually, all these may just blew up within the undercurrents of anger and dissatisfaction, resulting in the financial problems of 50% S&CC arrears from these commercial tenants.
As opposition, I do not like the way PAP politicizing grassroots organizations. They should be independent and should not be used as a political tool against opposition when PAP lost their seats.
But I am also dismay at the way WP runs their Town Council. There is no excuse for such mess because WP has great amount of experience in running a TC in Hougang before. I believe all these happen because WP started to employ FMSS as their management agent instead of running the TC on their own as what they used to do in Hougang prior to 2011.
Whether we like it or not, for TC management, it is POLITICAL in nature and politics, is about dealing with people. Insensitive acts like putting up a 6 month long numerous trade fairs in a single vicinity will definitely make more people pissed off than winning their support.
On the surface, hard core anti-PAP supporters may see this as PAP "fixing" opposition WP. But if we look deeper into it, WP is wrong to begin with but the politicking will just carry on. In the end, who suffer? Your guess is as good as mine.
Editors Note: If you don't believe us because you think we are biased, you have to believe what an Opposition Supporter says.