Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan has welcomed the news that some proposed upgrading projects at Bukit Batok SMC have been cancelled.
Bukit Batok SMC has been close to Dr Chee’s heart, ever since he first contested the ward in the 2016 by-election. The veteran opposition politician ramped up his efforts in the ward narrowly losing his second contest there in the 2020 election with an impressive 45.2 per cent of votes and even runs his own grassroots campaign to benefit residents.
Over the past six months, Dr Chee has been highlighting several municipal matters and has urged incumbent MP Murali Pillai to step up and initiate changes to better serve Bukit Batok residents. One of the issues Dr Chee brought attention to back in October 2020 was the upgrading plans for Blocks 188-299.
The authorities had planned to convert a pavilion into a linkway that seems to link to nothing and considered constructing a playground and BBQ area just a few metres from existing playgrounds and BBQ pits.
Calling such plans “nonsense projects” that are a waste of taxpayer funds, Dr Chee had urged Mr Murali to immediately cancel such projects which may turn into white elephants.
It seems that the authorities have decided to scrap their upgrading plans in the precinct. Celebrating this turn of events, Dr Chee wrote on Facebook on Monday (18 Jan): “Evidently, common sense has prevailed.”
Dr Chee also welcomed Jurong-Clementi Town Council’s (JRTC) decision to solicit suggestions from residents through a new feedback form, noting that he has repeatedly asked the town council to consult residents when it comes to drawing up neighbourhood renewal projects in the past.
Although Dr Chee was happy with the way JRTC is giving residents more of a platform to share their ideas, he noted that many of the ideas in the new form are pre-existing amenities like void-deck seating areas, games courts, playgrounds, BBQ areas and drop-off points, while other suggestions like an “activity plaza” appear vague.
Pointing out that neighbourhood renewal projects should focus on how to best benefit residents, Dr Chee highlighted one new project that he believes will be highly utilised – a linkway from Block 187 to the bus stop at Bukit Batok Ave 1.
The lack of a footpath for residents’ use in the area has been a longstanding issue of contention between Dr Chee and Mr Murali. The public disagreement stretches back to the beginning of September 2020, when Dr Chee said that the lack of a walkway in the area poses a danger to pedestrians since they are forced to walk on the road alongside traffic.
Dr Chee claimed that several residents he spoke to wanted a footpath to be constructed and has been asking the authorities to build a footpath immediately to better protect pedestrians.
Mr Murali and JRTC, however, do not appear interested to construct a footpath. Mr Murali has allegedly argued that residents can walk through the void decks and that cost was a factor against the construction of the pavement since a sheltered walkway is too expensive to construct and maintain.
Dr Chee responded that Bukit Batok residents are asking for a simple concrete sidewalk – not a sheltered footpath – and that Mr Murali has no qualms about the cost for other structures that seem to have little use in the ward.
Despite the opposition leader’s repeated requests, there are no plans to build a footpath. Linking to this issue in his latest Facebook post, Dr Chee said:
“Mr Murali has, thus far, refused to build the linkway citing cost and has asked people to use a convoluted pathway that residents say is impractical. Yet, he proposes to build a linkway at Blk 642 BB Central that is just a few metres away from an existing one.
Calling on JRTC to set up an online forum for residents to decide on whether they need a footpath, Dr Chee added: “I suggest that the TC build facilities that the residents want and need rather than vanity projects.”
Read his post in full HERE.
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