Singapore — Opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leader Chee Soon Juan has called People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Murali Pillai’s actions “petty and small-minded” after the authorities re-turfed a worn-down grass patch instead of constructing a simple footpath for residents in one part of the SMC.
Dr Chee’s remarks on the re-turfing of the grass patch are the latest turn in his long-running dispute with Mr Murali over the lack of a footpath in the vicinity of Block 190, Bukit Batok West Avenue 6.
Last month, Dr Chee said that the lack of a footpath there posed a danger to pedestrians because they were forced to walk on the road alongside traffic.
The SDP leader, who contested in Bukit Batok SMC in the 2016 by-election and in this year’s General Election, also shared that he had seen several instances of cars driving dangerously close to pedestrians when he visited the area.
Dr Chee said several residents he spoke to wanted a footpath to be constructed and added that a resident who brought up the matter with Mr Murali was told that it was not possible because people would also want a shelter if a footpath was constructed. Dr Chee called on the authorities to build a footpath immediately for the safety of pedestrians.
Mr Murali had responded that it was “simply wrong” for Dr Chee to say that there was a lack of footpaths or viable routes since residents could walk through the void decks and disputed the insinuation that residents were forced to walk on the road or on the grass patch.
Calling on the constituents to walk through the void decks, Mr Murali implied that the facts were not accurately presented in Dr Chee’s post and that people could have been misled by the suggestions about the lack of a footpath.
Dr Chee said that the best argument for a footpath was the fact that the authorities had already built a short stretch of it along part of the road. He added that it was obvious that the authorities had built that stretch of footpath for the use of pedestrians and asked why it could not be extended.
Dr Chee also disputed Mr Murali’s claim that cost was a factor against the construction of the footpath and that a sheltered walkway was too expensive to construct and maintain. He pointed out that the residents were asking for a simple concrete footpath, not a sheltered walkway.
He added that Mr Murali had no qualms about the cost of other structures that seemed to be of little use in the ward and asked why he had suddenly became very cost conscious.
In a Facebook post published on Friday (Oct 30), Dr Chee renewed his call for the authorities to construct a footpath without delay.
Referring to the returfing of the patch of ground made bald because of constant use by residents, Dr Chee asked why the authorities had decided to do that instead of putting down a concrete footpath as suggested by residents. He wrote:
“A resident sent me this photo of the strip of bald grass-patch alongside the road being re-turfed by Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JRTC). The bare strip was formed by residents walking on the grass. Otherwise, they would have to walk on the road with cars passing dangerously close.
“But instead coming to the residents’ assistance by laying a concrete footpath for them, Mr Murali and the JRTC has chosen instead to re-lay the patch with new grass.”
Stressing that this measure does not solve the problem since the new grass will wear down again over time and since the residents will still have to use the road when the grass patch becomes soggy from rain, Dr Chee asked: “If Mr Murali can spend money re-turfing the strip again and again, why can’t he just cement it up and provide a permanent, not to mention safe, solution for the residents.”
Calling Mr Murali’s actions “petty”, he added: “Laying new grass to force residents to walk on the road is demonstration of petty- and small-mindedness …
“If Mr Murali really cared about BB residents, he would stop bullying them and doing all this nonsense, including proposing linkways to nowhere, and build that pathway already.”