A Residents’ Committee (RC) member was allegedly caught following a Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) team during their walkabout in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, according to party member Abdul Salim Harun. Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC is one of the wards the SDP plans to contest in the upcoming General Election.
Sharing a partial shot of the woman who was allegedly following him and his colleagues, Mr Abdul revealed that the woman identified herself as someone who was “asked to make a report” on the SDP’s movement. Mr Salim wrote on Facebook on 22 Oct:
“So we were followed by this lady during our house to house visit earlier on in Marsiling. When we spoke to her, she claimed that she is from the RC and was asked to make a report on our movement. So much interest”
So we were followed by this lady during our house to house visit earlier on in Marsiling.When we spoke to her, she…
RCs were established by the Government in 1978 to serve as a channel of communications between residents and the Government. RCs are predominantly run by grassroots leaders, many of whom are members of the ruling People’s Action Party, who organise meetings and programmes to reach out to residents.
Today, there are over 550 RCs. These committees initially came under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office, and later, the Ministry of Community Development. Since 1993, RCs came under the purview of the People’s Association (PA) – a Government statutory board under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) which is chaired by the Prime Minister.
There have been concerns over whether the management of the PA should be less politicised. The PAP has fielded candidates who were active grassroots leaders in PA organisations in past elections and there are allegations that Residents’ Committees and Community Clubs have encouraged the public to support PAP candidates at rallies and electoral events.
Further, opposition MPs are not allowed to be advisors to government-run grassroots bodies since grassroots advisers who are appointed by the Government are expected to support and execute the Government’s programmes and the opposition MPs are not expected to do so.
Shortly after the Workers’ Party (WP) won Aljunied GRC in the 2011 General Election, party chairman Sylvia Lim revealed that the WP was informed that 26 public sites, including fields and hard courts, had been leased by the Housing Development Board (HDB) to the PA and that the PA has informed them that “booking by WP will not be allowed”.
Veteran WP leader Low Thia Khiang also noted that temples were allowed to hold activities in his constituency only if they have supporting letters from the grassroots organisations, and not from him as the elected MP.
More recently, WP secretary-general Pritam Singh decried the Government’s practice of installing defeated PAP candidates as grassroots advisers in opposition wards and said that this makes defeated ruling party members “relevant for residents” and allows them to “campaign for votes well before the General Elections” since their appointments as grassroots leaders gives them the authority to dispense “large sums of taxpayer dollars.”
The Government, however, has held that the PA and its grassroots organisations are not politicised. Heavyweight PAP minister Chan Chun Sing said in 2016 that the PA “executes the directions for the Government of the day, as per any statutory board. The PA does not allow any political activity or canvassing on our premises or in our activities. And we certainly do not mobilise anyone for any political party.”