Sack HDB, disband People’s Association

“We never had any conditions on invitees,” the text message from Workers’ Party chair Sylvia Lim said. “Ground rumours spread by others.” This was her response, 24 August, after I texted her regarding a sentence in the joint statement put out by the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the People’s Association. I had asked her what had been the position before 19 August.

The controversy was over the seizure of 26 plots of land by the People’s Association from the management purview of Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) with the connivance of the Housing and Development Board which comes under MND.

The sentence in question was this one:

In the statement last night, MND and [the People’s Association] gave their side to the dispute.

They said there had been occasions when organisers of grassroots and community events applied to use sites managed by the Aljunied-Hougang town council – run by the WP – and were told that they were expected to invite the WP MP.

‘It was only on Aug 19 that the chairman of Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) stated publicly that the town council would not impose any condition on whom the organisers could invite, when using sites managed by AHTC,’ they wrote.

Straits Times, 24 August 2011, Curbs lifted on events at PA sites, by Li Xueying & Teo Wan Gek

As explained in a media statement the Workers’ Party released late on 22 August 2011, the HDB informed the AHTC that they had removed 26 sites from the purview of the town council, leasing them to the People’s Association instead. As elected representatives of these two constituencies, the Workers’ Party runs this town council and rightly felt aggrieved. The media statement pointed out that no background nor rationale was given for the decision. However,

A check on the sites, which were part of the common property managed by the former Aljunied Town Council but now leased to PA, showed that many of them are strategically located, being hard courts or amphitheatres highly suitable for organising social activities. We were puzzled about the intention behind the move, which occurred before the new management took over the estate. We are left to conclude that the decision by the HDB to shift management of these common properties from the Town Council to the PA was precipitated by the victory of the Workers’ Party in Aljunied GRC in the General Elections.

— Workers’ Party media statement, 22 August 2011

The effect of this change, said the original statement from the party, was that anyone wanting to use these spaces for activities would now have to apply to the People’s Association for permission, and find themselves saddled with a condition that the organisers must not invite Workers’ Party members of parliament to their events.

First, the HDB as part of the government machinery is abusing its power as land owner of common property in HDB estates to help PA to achieve the political objectives of a) preventing elected MPs from holding activities at the excluded sites which are strategically located and convenient to residents; and b) curtailing the ground presence of the elected MPs, by warning the residents that their applications for events at those sites may not be approved in subsequent years if WP MPs were invited.

Secondly, the PA, a statutory board funded by tax payers’ money and chaired by the Prime Minister, appears to capitalize on its close connection with the government to serve the political interests of the ruling party. The PA is leveraging on HDB to enable PAP candidates who lost at the last elections to re-emerge at community events as “advisors” to PA grassroots organizations. The move to let PA control the sites previously managed by the Town Council would give PAP candidates a ground advantage and permanent presence, in advance preparation for the next elections.

— ibid.

Within less than a day of the Workers’ Party highlighting this blatant act of partisanship, the  PAP-Govt complex (which includes the People’s Association) did an about-turn.

In a major about-shift, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the People’s Association have lifted restrictions on who residents can invite to events held on public sites leased by the PA.

However, these activities have to be “non-political” in nature and that they have to be organised by “non-grassroots organisations”.

The liberalising of rules, announced in a joint HDB-PA statement on Tuesday night, is the latest twist in a public debate over the use of open spaces in Aljunied GRC, which is under the Workers’ Party (WP).

— Yahoo! news, 23 August 2011, People’s Association lifts restrictions on sites, by Jeffrey Oon.

What on earth is meant by “non-grassroots organisations”? An answer might be found in the Straits Times’s story of 24 August.

Government grassroots organisations – such as residents’ committees (RCs) and Citizens Consultative Committees (CCCs) – continue to reserve the right to invite only their grassroots advisers, usually the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates in the constituency.

— Straits Times, 24 August 2011, Curbs lifted on events at PA sites, by Li Xueying & Teo Wan Gek

These bodies are all affiliated with the People’s Association, who then impose on themselves the rule that they can have restrictions on who they invite. So does that mean they restrict themselves to inviting politicians from the People’s Action Party (PAP)? If so, does that not prove academic Terence Chong’s point, when he wrote on Facebook, 24 August 2011:

These concessions amount to window-dressing until the “grassroots advisor” role is either abolished or delinked from PAP members. Even now, a PAP member who does not even qualify as [Non-constituency member of parliament] can still be an “advisor” while a NCMP from another party can’t. The [People’s Association] is just a political Trojan horse and should be recognised as such.

— Terence Chong on Facebook, 24 August 2011

(Words in [square brackets] are expansions of abbrevations used in original posting.)

Chong’s view is shared by a wide cross-section of Singaporeans. But a critical point that follows from this is that since the People’s Association is a party-political body, then when the Housing and Development Board (HDB) transferred sites to its management, the HDB was favouring one party over another, a direct violation of its neutral, civil service role.

The members of the Board should be impeached. At the very least, the President should refuse to reappoint any of them when their terms of office come up for renewal.

* * * * *

Article 22A (1) (b) of the constitution says

no appointment to the office of chairman, member or chief executive officer of any statutory board to which this Article applies and no revocation of such appointment shall be made by any appointing authority unless the President, acting in his discretion, concurs therewith.

The HDB is a statutory board constituted by the Housing and Development Act, and the Fifth Schedule to the constitution lists the HDB (along with the Central Provident Fund Board, Jurong Town Corporation and the Monetary Authority of Singapore) as the key statutory boards to which the above Article 22A (1) applies. That being the case, I want the new president to make clear that he will clean out the rot from the HDB at the earliest opportunity.

The People’s Association is also a statutory board, constituted under the People’s Association Act, but it is not one where the president has blocking powers regarding appointments. Section 4(1) of the Act says that the Prime Minister shall be the Chairman and a minister the Deputy Chairman. This makes the political neutrality of this body inherently problematic, especially when the People’s Action Party has, as presidential candidate Tan Jee Say said, lost its moral compass.

Playwright Alfian Sa’at on Facebook went further, pointing out what I too think is obvious:

The collusion between the Housing Development Board and the People’s Association in denying the Workers’ Party the use of public spaces within their own constituency is shocking. Forget all you’ve read about Singapore being ‘corruption-free’. A government that allows the use of taxpayer’s money to protect the interests of a single party is a corrupt government.

— Alfian Sa’at on Facebook, 23 August 2011

The People’s Association therefore needs to be cleaned out too, and the best solution, in my view, is to disband it altogether. It would be no loss to Singapore. What critical need does it serve anyway? As stated in the People’s Association Act, its objectives are:

8. The objects of the Association are —

(a) the organisation and the promotion of group participation in social, cultural, educational and athletic activities for the people of Singapore in order that they may realise that they belong to a multiracial community, the interests of which transcend sectional loyalties;
(b) the establishment of such institutions as may be necessary for the purpose of leadership training in order to instil in leaders a sense of national identity and a spirit of dedicated service to a multiracial community;
(c) the fostering of community bonding and strengthening of social cohesion amongst the people of Singapore;
(d) the performance of such other functions as may be conferred upon the Association by any written law; and

(e) the carrying out of such activities as appear to the Board to be advantageous towards, or necessary or convenient for, the furtherance of the objects of the Association as set out in paragraphs (a) to (d).

It sounds awfully out of date, there are far more faultlines in Singapore society today than just race.

Then, as stated on its website, it runs

  • Over 1,800 grassroots organisations
  • Community Clubs
  • Five Community Development Councils
  • National Youth Council
  • National Community Leadership Institute
  • Outward Bound Singapore
  • Water Venture outlets

. . . of which the only one of some social significance may be the Community Development Council which disburses help to the needy. But this function can easily be transferred to Town Councils or a new department under the Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports. The rest are activities that should be left entirely to civil society, if at all they serve any purpose.

The People’s Association is a putrid carbuncle on the body politic. Cut it out now.

* * * * *

The Straits Times  gave prominence to the People’s Association’s complaint against the Workers’ Party. I shall reproduce the news article in full:

How WP curbed grassroots events

The People’s Association (PA) yesterday issued a statement detailing examples of grassroots activities in opposition-held Hougang ward and Aljunied GRC being curtailed by the Workers’ Party-run town councils.

It said that in 2001, applications by the PA’s grassroots organisations in Hougang to use common property under the management of the Hougang Town Council were mostly rejected.

The reasons given for rejection? Noise pollution and prohibition of certain activities like washing and cooking in the void decks.

On many occasions, no reasons were given.

In 2004, the Hougang Town Council told the PA’s Hougang constituency office that it had ceased approving permits for functions in front of two Residents’ Committee (RC) centres in Hougang. Again, no reason was given.

So the grassroots organisations stopped making applications to the town council and kept their activities within either the community club or the RC centres.

In 2009, one RC asked the town council for approval to install a closed-circuit television camera outside the RC centre to enhance its security. Until today, the town council has yet to reply.

Most recently, in Aljunied GRC, an application by the Serangoon North Village Seventh Moon Group to the Aljunied- Hougang Town Council last month to use an open space beside Central Plaza and Inner Plaza for three days for Hungry Ghost Festival celebrations was not approved.

This was despite approval having been given for the same occasion on the same spot last year.

— Straits Times, 24 August 2011, How WP curbed grassroots events

This completely misrepresents the central issue. To get a better sense of what the issue is about, each time you see the expression “grassroots” or “RC” in the above text, replace them with “PAP”, because the truth is that’s what they all were. So, if the Workers’ Party did disadvantage the People’s Association in the areas they controlled, they were doing nothing more than replicate the enormous disadvantages imposed on opposition parties (including Chiam See Tong’s Singapore People’s Party while he was the member of parliament for Potong Pasir) by the PAP-Govt complex in other wards.

Even so, the guilt is not equally shared. The side with the greater power is the one we point our fingers to.

It is the PAP that set about politicising the civil service and the People’s Association (if ever it was supposed to be party-neutral in the first place). And the opposition party involved simply has to defend itself. This is part of a wider pattern. The PAP has been a destroyer of institutions. Whenever things didn’t suit itself, it would politicise otherwise neutral arms of the state. Here we see the HDB made to lick boots. Other times, it’s the police and its licensing arm, or the prosecution branch and yes, the judiciary too.

[Update 25 Aug 2011: Low Thia Khiang has issued a long media release rebutting as groundless the claims made by the People’s Association about unfairness on the Workers’ Party’s part, and with great detail incident by incident.]

54 Responses to “Sack HDB, disband People’s Association”

  1. 1 Anonymous 24 August 2011 at 16:39

    PA, PAP, whats the difference? PA, NTUC, CCC, RC and all the stat boards are PAP controlled.

    That’s why the need for a truly independent Elected President.
    Vote a non-PAP President, vote Tan Jee Say.

    • 2 Anonymous 24 August 2011 at 19:49

      sorry you were saying tan jee say is independent because he is an opposition?

      • 3 roni63 25 August 2011 at 02:11

        Independent, as in, independent from the ruling party. I believe TJS made that clear during the CNA Roundtable discussion.

        TJS has also communicated that he is willing to work with the PM with whom he will seek advise most from. Hence, TJS is stating that he does not see himself opposing for the sake of “opposition”.

        His opposition would only come if issues come within the purview of the 5 areas of the president. However, should the need to oppose arise, TJS’s approach is to do it via a private discussion with the PM.

        I have not attended any TJS rally or listened to his speeches but I did watch this feature and the above is what I gathered.

      • 4 Chanel 25 August 2011 at 11:52

        he’s on the “opposition” ticket for only 3.5 months compared to Tony Tan’s 30 years close association with PAP

    • 5 I don't want Tan Ah Say as my president! 25 August 2011 at 13:51

      Independent shd be free from any party, pro-opposition is not considered independent!

  2. 6 Gard 24 August 2011 at 17:24

    Statement by Mr Low Thia Khiang, 24 Sep 2010:

    “As for WP, what options do we have? We have applied to Town Councils and CCs managed by the PAP to hold dialogue sessions and block parties for residents previously but these applications were promptly rejected.”

  3. 7 Poker Player 24 August 2011 at 17:29

    “A government that allows the use of taxpayer’s money to protect the interests of a single party is a corrupt government.”

    I am reminded of La Rochefoucauld’s “Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue”. But in our case, LKY openly admits this charade. We must be the only society in the world where virtue is no longer worth this homage. We are at an altogether different level of corruption.

  4. 8 Anonymously Annoyed 24 August 2011 at 17:53

    Love your analysis, Alex; love the putrid carbuncle (both the metaphor AND the photo) too.

    The PA’s response on how the WP curtailed grassroot activities is completely dubious. Even if, as the PA claims, the WP has been rejecting the PA’s application to conduct activities all along, why wait till 2011 – and only AFTER the WP has issued a statement on the HDB’s transfer of 26 sites to the PA without prior notification – to surface these issues? Some of the cases they cited took place a full decade ago, for crying out loud. Apparently, the PA’s inability to bring people together then wasn’t so troubling then.

    Note also the way Channel News Asia chose, at this point of time, to publish Mr Desmond Choo’s sob story about how difficult it was to conduct his non-political activities in Hougang. The same Desmond Choo who said progress was about making it difficult for an Hougang granny to continue voting the Workers’ Party – ostensibly due to his efforts at improving the lives of residents that did not require any Hougang Town Council approval, no less.

    I say, “Hogwash!”

  5. 9 Kenneth Tan (@singaporeano) 24 August 2011 at 18:14

    Alex, it’s time to switch to an iPhone ;p

  6. 11 Anonymous 24 August 2011 at 18:37

    Quote “Whenever things didn’t suit itself, it would politicise otherwise neutral arms of the state. Here we see the HDB made to lick boots. Other times, it’s the police and its licensing arm, or the prosecution branch and yes, the judiciary too.”

    In short, the PAP government is corrupt. That’s why we must vote Mr Tan Jee Say to check this government.

  7. 12 peiying 24 August 2011 at 18:41

    I was talking to many people about this and a lot of them commented, “this is not new – it has been happening over the past 20 years for opposition wards.”

    When the news came out, I felt so much disgust and my respect for the ruling elite just dropped to a new low. Even if they have been doing this sickening politicking over the past 20 years, you would imagine after the wake up call that is GE2011 would have taught them something.

    I’m so disappointed in them. It is going to be so difficult for the WP MPs to connect to the ground now if this goes on.

  8. 14 ajohor 24 August 2011 at 18:54



    ” Even so, the guilt is not equally shared. The side with the greater power is the one we point our fingers to.”

    If both sides either anti PAP or PAP play this, it is politics per se, it is no longer a moral or ethical issue or equity issue, It is pure politics game just played big or small.

    How different, would this be from the “do not do what I do but do what I say ” thoughts.


    • 15 Anonymous 24 August 2011 at 23:30

      erm. WP is partisan, PA is non-partisan (well they are not supposed to be anyway).

      • 16 Vernon Voon 25 August 2011 at 10:34

        Completely agree. Either PA be truly non-partisan and allow elected MPs to become their advisors, or call a spade a space and rename themselves to PAPA (the People’s Action Party Association) which is what it actually is.

  9. 17 Steven Lim 24 August 2011 at 20:42

    A man built a house for us to shelter in. This house was expanded to adept to the increasing occupants. One day u came in n started to put yr weight around. U wanted more n finally u said that the system is wrong. U said that the original builder is arrogant and the house serves only him. U said it doesn’t matter if the house was well built becos it has too much of the original builder in it. U said he is corrupt. U said he made the house for his own benefit. U start to change the structure of the house n get all yr yes men to destroy the very fabric of this house.
    I lived in this house happily n sheltered all these years. I helped build this house but u want to destroy it to suit yr taste n reward yr yes men! U twist every pillar, every beam, every brick we put in all these years to facilitate our safe occupancy into something vile n corrupted so that u hav a reason to restructure this house to suit your kind.. And u say we are arrogant !

    • 18 Singaporean 25 August 2011 at 08:44

      It is precisely this type of “self-entitlement” that turns off many Singaporeans. Good luck with trying to win the hearts and minds of Singaporeans.

    • 19 Anonymous 25 August 2011 at 10:56

      “A man built a house for us to shelter in.” …..

      Ur story failed at the first sentence….. anything that continues is simply rubbish …

    • 20 AnT 25 August 2011 at 21:51

      Is that house a home to begin with or has it sullied to become a whorehouse entertaining all kinds of dubious characters while ignoring the pleas of the rightful occupants to stay on the right moral course to build a better home?

  10. 21 Lim Bt 24 August 2011 at 21:04

    PM LHL is keeping quiet about this. By keeping quiet he is condoning such act. He forgot his National Day Message. So his words cannot be taken seriously. Same as his apologies during the GE. After he got what he wanted i.e PAP won the GE with his vote increased he forgot what he said. What HDB and PA did to the WP is simply bullying. Shame on you PM. We should not wait till GE 2016 to show the PAP our unhappiness. AUG 27 is the date.

    • 22 wendy 25 August 2011 at 08:24

      keeping quiet seems to be the PAP way. scandals here and there, all keep quiet, banker politicians with former bankrupt husbands, also keep quiet. other public talk, then maybe get sued… fantastic behavior. these people have MONEY, and millions of it… so you and I must fear them

  11. 23 Daniel Ho 24 August 2011 at 21:38


    It is a moral issue when a party hides behind the cover of neutrality, but wields nothing but sheer partisan will. In simpler terms, this is known as lying.

    To me, even if PA’s claims are true, WP can only be faulted if it is customary for losing opposition candidates to still be allowed to conduct their outreach in PAP wards. I’m not holding my breath.

    The culture of “at all cost” in the PAP ranks is seriously getting old and beginning to be worrisome. They may call it an efficient government, but putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t make it less of a despot. Sure political impasses may be incredibly inconvenient and even appear silly at times. But it is better to be a state that is at times foolish and slow but lasts centuries, than to be a state that is an efficient speeding bullet barreling towards oblivion.

  12. 24 Leong 24 August 2011 at 21:48

    This whole bunch of PAP/MND/HDB/PA cronies can be liken as thieves crying wolf when caught red-handed in their acts.

    And to think that they can stoop so low to resort to such dirty & unscrupulous tricks in politics is such a disgrace to the very clean image they want us believe they portray.

  13. 25 Deatheater 24 August 2011 at 22:03

    Alex, you hit the nail on the head. For far too long, the PAP has employed a cynical brand of politics that relies on vote-buying disguised as “share and growth” bonus (which I donated to the church social fund by the way), lawsuits, threats, torture, fear-mongering and monopoly of media to install an exclusive club of ruling oligarchy that yearns for more power even as it has obtained such unparelled hegemony.

    Since the elections, nothing new or material has been effected and we still see the same old: from Shanmugam’s pernicious and despicable pronouncements on the EP, to Lui Tuck Yee’s faster-than-you-can-say “MRT” dismissal of WP and NSP’s proposals for the public transport, to the continued biased reporting and slandering of the Opposition and the social media by the mainstream media of ST, TNP and Today and finally, to this latest piece of political whoring by the HDB and the PA.

    Winston Churchill once said: “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.”

    The PAP should take note that such abominable behavior will only cause resentment and political dissent to spread. After all, eyes can see and ears can hear – that the PAP has not lived up to the values espoused in our National Pledge.

  14. 26 Salamat 24 August 2011 at 22:31

    Since PA is involved in partisan politics, shouldn’t it be gazetted as a political party, just like what TOC?

  15. 27 www.facebook 24 August 2011 at 22:34

    yeah, disband the PA. let their 3,000 members go and find a regular job like the rest of us

  16. 28 Whos afraid of the astroturfers? 25 August 2011 at 00:04

    Funnily, the ‘white’ man kept on tripping over his own feet. Clumsy as he can be and flumbly that he try failingly just to look so almighty. So thoughtfully, the innocent ‘blue’ child went up to point the finger at the man’s face and say, “Sir, There’s dirt on your face.” Thereupon the ‘white’ man anxiously and furiously tried to scrub them off with his hands. The little ‘blue’ child smiled to himself and said, “But sir, you’ve now got even more dirt all over your face.”

  17. 29 reservist_cpl 25 August 2011 at 00:19

    I’m curious, Alex, who would run the community centres then?

    I’ve got a few options in mind:

    1. Privatisation
    2. Make each CC a kind of “quango” independent of the other CCs.
    3. Town Councils

    Of course, all are problematic in some way or other.

    Perhaps getting rid of the body altogether is throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and tweaks can be made to make the PA independent instead.

  18. 30 LC 25 August 2011 at 00:38

    The sheer pettiness of Desmond Choo, Cynthia Phua and their grassroots supporters is simply amazing. This shows that they have absolutely no respect for the will of the people. Instead of working hard to win people over the hard way by going door to door like Sylvia Lim did, they want the easy way out, but through under hand methods. Desmond Choo, like another commenter elsewhere said, has the hide of an elephant. The man was beaten soundly in the last GE, now he comes up with this stunt.

    Well done! This has only served to open yet more people’s eyes to the corrupt nature of the government of the PAP and the whole PAP-HDB-PA complex (as referred to by Alex).

    More people need to be woken up. We already have a very sophisticated kind of corruption in Singapore, tacitly endorsed by most of the electorate for 20 years or so, which is the use of MND money to fund the multimillion dollar upgrading for PAP constituencies, while the opposition held wards get nothing.

  19. 31 dk99 25 August 2011 at 00:51

    I don’t think we should call for PA to be disbanded. Instead, I feel that a reform in PA is necessary. The Grassroot Advisor should be the MP of the GRC/SMC. PA, together with RC, CCC (etc etc), should assist the MP in organising events for residents.

    The people voted for the MP to represent them. PA should respect the voters decision.

  20. 32 Mr J Obs 25 August 2011 at 01:01

    I guess the biggest question of all is this: Why is Alex Au still using a Nokia phone?

  21. 36 roni63 25 August 2011 at 02:22

    Steven Lim’s kind of mentality frightens me. These are the type of citizens that will hold our nation back from progressing towards democracy and help sustain the tyranny that is killing the souls of the people of this land.

  22. 37 Dy 25 August 2011 at 02:46

    I’ve no respect for Cynthia P at all. I’m very tempted to hurl in some selected words to accompany her name but decided to leave it as such – she is disgusting enough herself. I guess what WP did was to throw out into the open what we Singaporeans long suspected and knew (but never really dared discuss in public) and what great political timing as well!

    My disgust extends to the ‘hardcore’ PAP supporters (think YPAP) who still tries to defend this indefensible position! Guys, would you sleep well at night knowing these people might be our future leaders?

    WP 1 – PAP 0

  23. 38 PatricNoNSTan 25 August 2011 at 06:44

    I think all those who collude to serve the interests of a party when they are not supposed to should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    With such excellent reports and investigative work done online, it will get harder and harder for the old fart gang to lacquer a veneer of legitimacy in their ‘grassroots’ activities while shooting their opponents in the guts under the table.

  24. 39 Thor 25 August 2011 at 09:36

    Is it true that PCF Kindergarten teachers had to canvass for candidates during GE n that they are rostered for duty during Meet the People sessions every week? Poor teachers.

    Did TT’s famous sons attend PCF? Come to think of it, did any of MPs’ children ever attend PCF kindergartens? If not, what message does this send?

    Why is our Prime Minister keeping silent? Where is the leadership? Is this why we elected him? I guess we do need a President with moral authority who will speak up when there is such clear injustice.

  25. 40 Robox 25 August 2011 at 09:59

    I want to ask readers here, especially those who have expressed outrage over this incident, these two questions:

    1. Do you want to see a resolution for this episode described in the article?

    2. Do you ever want a gridlock between the next President and the PM?

    If you answered “no” to both questions, then you are likely someone who has believed all the lies spun by the PAP government.

    If you answered “yes” to #1 but “no” to #2, then you probably have some belief in notions of “fairness” and “equality”, but you don’t want that fairness and equality to be enforced if it means – horrors of horrors – CONFRONTATION with the government.

    I think it is less likely that someone would answer “no” to #1 but “yes” to #2, and if you did, I don’t yet have an explanation for that decision.

    But, if you answered “yes” to both questions, then perhaps it is time to consolidate your voting decisions for this Saturday – if you haven’t already – and ask yourselves which of the 4 candidates can deliver according to your wishes for this conundrum.

    I think it is a bit rich of Lee Hsien Loong to speak of gridlocks – as if they were a bad thing and not part of a problem-solving process – when, right here, we have yet another example of the PAP government having introduced a gridlock against the opposition parties. The PAP has always introduced such gridlocks against opposition parties whether they had cadidates elected to Parliament or not; they have always acted to prevent oppositio parties from functioning like political parties in normal democracies. As Alex said in his conclusion, “This is part of a wider pattern”.

    In the case of elected opposition MPs, they have a track record of obstructing those MPs from functioning in the same way as elected PAP MPs do. Even losing PAP candidates are accorded far more opportunities to continue functioning like potential candidates at future elections.

    The only powerful solution to the gridlock that the PAP government has introduced here is a president who will exercise his powers to hold the PM and his cabinet to a gridlock until this issue is resolved to the satisfaction of right-minded Singaporeans according to the principles of fairness and equality.

    Would a president who holds the PAP government to a gridlock in such circumstances, be THE PROBLEM or part of THE SOLUTION?

  26. 41 booron 25 August 2011 at 11:05

    Thank you, I enjoy how your writing is a good summary and analysis of what’s happening.

  27. 42 Chanel 25 August 2011 at 11:55

    PAP clearly have their priorities all wrong. The right way to win elections perennially is to make people’s lives better, not by engaging in unproductive, petty and underhanded politicking. Why spend even an iota of time, energy and money on “fixing” the opposition party?

  28. 43 Dennis 25 August 2011 at 14:17

    If the PA and the CCC (and also the CDCs) cannot remain politically neutral, then they should be disbanded at the earliest opportunity because they have become tools of division among Singaporeans for too long, contrary to the PA’s statutory intent. The CCs and RCs can and should remain politically neutral and should come under the responsible Town Council. Anyone of any party leaning should be allowed to volunteer and hold positions in the CCs and RCs. The MP of the constituency/ward should be the person should be the advisor of the CCs and RCs, like the TC, since he or she is the elected representative of the people. Voiunteers and office bearers in CCs and RCs must co-operarate reasonably with the sitting MP regardless of difference in political leaning as at the end of the day, service in CCs and RCs should be regarded as community service and not politically connected, which is not the case at the moment. I think my suggestions above cannot be more neutral and law abiding.

  29. 44 Anonymous 25 August 2011 at 14:38

    I got a question here. Is this the first time HDB is leasing public sites to PA for to this on-going AHTC saga or similar occurrence existed in other constituency?

  30. 45 Sin Pariah 25 August 2011 at 19:39

    Based on Sections 3 and 5 of the Peaople’s Association CCC Rules & Regs:

    Click to access Rules-CCC-0710.pdf

    What are PAP/WP answers to flwg Q and what would each of them do about this:
    Should “Advisers” to CCCs of various constituent areas within a GRC won by a non-PAP political party (eg, Aljunied GRC won by WP) be appointed by PA’s Chairman or Deputy Chairman who are both from the PAP ruling party (currently, PM Lee Hsien Loong and Minister without portfolio Lim Swee Say)?

  31. 46 Chow 25 August 2011 at 21:50

    And so our suspicions have been validated. I will say that it isn’t unexpected since given the ruling party’s ultra-business like approach to things I’m not surprised that they’d employ such tactics and more.

  32. 47 feedmetothefish 26 August 2011 at 01:35

    Dear Alex,

    I got to know you since the epochal picture you posted years ago of WP’s Election Rally that created shivers in the MSM and put them to shame! Thank you so much for leveling the field and exposing the bullying tactics of the despicable.

    My sincere appreciation for your undying effort in highlighting the injustice. I’m with you with Tan Jee Say.

    Keep keeping it up!

  33. 48 Lisa 26 August 2011 at 03:48

    I agree with your arguments on why we should disband the PA and take steps to ensure the neutrality of the civil service. But you really did not need to resort to using visceral images like the pus-filled sore to get your point across. It’s in poor taste, and diminishes your credibility. You are a better writer than that. Your explanation of why you endorsed Tan Jee Say was illuminating and wonderfully nuanced. So keep it classy, please.

  34. 49 Nothing New 26 August 2011 at 10:56

    The PAP has been doing this since the days of LKY as PM, extending their talons thru the PA, CC and all grassroot organisations. I recall reading on Singpapore Window 1-2 years ago that even the Chinese Communist Cadres were impressed and sent representatives to S’pore to study how PAP maintains their stranglehold on the political scene thru control of PA, and grassroot orgs.

  35. 50 Dennis 26 August 2011 at 11:15

    Despicable is the word to describe such actions of govt agencies.
    Did we really have a civil service that is staffed with gentlemen, of integrity, honorable, and trust-worthy?

  36. 52 Daft Singaporean 26 August 2011 at 18:56

    You are definitely daft if you believe any of the Singapore civil service units including stat boards is neutral and non-political. What evidence you have to prove that they are independent of any political party? The opposite is true in fact – they are all PAP’s instruments to control the people so that PAP can perpetuate its rule and power forever.

    To have a real democratic, equal, just and open society or country, such an unaccountable, opaque and highly secret government should not be allowed to continue after GE2016. Daft Singaporeans unfortunately have missed the GE2011 to make the important change.

  37. 53 Steve Wu 30 August 2011 at 11:28

    HDB and PA are both statutory boards governed by the respective legislations under the Constitution. The abuse of powers by individuals within these organizations, not least in the latest incident, is not only morally wrong, it is a blatant violation of Article 12 of the Constitution.

    The violators must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  38. 54 John Wang 2 September 2011 at 18:39

    Singapore is not about the PAP but a nation for the people and by the people!
    The People’s Association (PA) was established in Singapore by an Act of parliament as a statutory board on 1 July 1960 to promote racial harmony and social cohesion.

    It was established to counter racial and political tensions in Singapore during the 1950s and 1960s to foster closer ties among the different ethnic groups.

    It’s mandated mission and vision were as follows:
    (a) the organisation and the promotion of group participation in social, cultural, educational and athletic activities for the people of Singapore in order that they may realise that they belong to a multiracial community, the interests of which transcend sectional loyalties;
    (b) the establishment of such institutions as may be necessary for the purpose of leadership training in order to instil in leaders a sense of national identity and a spirit of dedicated service to a multiracial community;
    (c) the fostering of community bonding and strengthening of social cohesion amongst the people of Singapore;
    (d) the performance of such other functions as may be conferred upon the Association by any written law; and
    (e) the carrying out of such activities as appear to the Board to be advantageous towards, or necessary or convenient for, the furtherance of the objects of the Association as set out in paragraphs (a) to (d).
    It did not specifically state that it was formed especially for the ruling party’s benefits.

    The PA is under the gross misconception that it was created solely to benefit the PAP. All MPs who are elected by the people are equal in status under the law. Thus, the PA should work closely with all political parties and not just for the ruling party.
    The PA is managed and operated by public funding with money belonging to the people. If the PA just served the PAP, then it should be privately funded by the PAP from its own funds.
    It has failed miserably in performing its objective and mission to foster “community bonding and strrengthening cohesion amongst the people of Singapore by neglecting to treat the opposition-held wards as equal to those constituencies held by the PAP.
    It has sidelined the elected opposition MPs and only supported the grassroots organizations created in PAP wards.
    Curiously, the PM is the chairman of PA.
    Therefore, the Act should be repealed as it is not serving the needs of the nation.
    It is seen that we have a hard-working civil service who are committed to serving the people. But, HDB under MND in colluding with the PA to disregard the role of opposition MPs is seen as prejudiced and partial to opposition-held constituencies. Mark you, voters in opposition-wards are not second class citizens but are more than equal to those in PAP constituencies. Similarly, all MPs regardless of party affliations are all equal under the law.

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