Home News town councils compromise safety of 2 million residents with China-made lifts

PAP town councils compromise safety of 2 million residents with China-made lifts

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By: Phillip Ang

Now that the LTA has been caught flip floppingafter helping SMRT to conceal issues with China-made trains, the next question to ask is whether there are also issues with thousands of China-made lifts.

That Chinese products are inferior and lacking in QC is a fact: China has been competing on the basis of lower prices. As with lower prices, there are tradeoffs.

Unknown to HDB residents for years, town councils have been replacing our Japan-made lifts with cheaper China ones. Although they had initially worked without glitches, malfunctioning as frequently as our China-made trains is now a permanent feature. And no need to take years of abuse for lifts to start malfunctioning: a 1-year old HDB block in Woodlands recently experienced simultaneous breakdown of all 3 lifts.

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To confirm HDB residents have been shortchanged big time, all 4 lifts in a 40-storey block also broke down simultaneously just 3 days after the above incident. Thanks to social media, we now understand HDB lifts did not malfunction for no rhyme or reason.

After the lift issue came into focus, Today published a letter highlighting their unreliability and safety concerns. The Independent Singapore (TISG) followed up on this with some interesting research, ie the last 3 cases of lift malfunctioning were in estates managed by EM Services**. EMS is a joint venture between HDB and Keppel Land Limited.,

Own self praise own self EMS claims to have an “excellent track record” because they were awarded a number of contracts by HDB for upgrading 2,200 lifts to China-made ones. But how could HDB not award EMS the projects when HDB itself is a joint shareholder of EMS? What is there to shout about when there was really no meaningful competition but HDB awarding itself projects after projects?

EMS is also the “sole agent for the sale and installation” of lifts manufactured by Chinese company Brilliant Elevators. Instead of using the more reliable non made-in-China lifts, EMS is only concerned about its own bottom line.

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Are the 2,200 lifts installed and maintained by EMS safe? This issue deserves attention in Parliament. Based on EMS’ track record, two million HDB residents living in the following 9 estates managed by EMS should be prepared for more inconvenience akan datang.

  • East Coast-Fengshan
  • Holland-Bukit Panjang
  • Jalan Besar
  • Marsiling-Yew Tee
  • Nee Soon
  • Pasir Ris-Punggol
  • Sembawang
  • Tanjong Pagar
  • West Coast.

Feels like SMRT all over again?

Point to note is our upgraded lifts may be cheaper but they are definitely no better than other lifts made in the same country. And faster, yes – they have started to malfunction damned fast and not only are HDB residents increasingly inconvenienced, their malfunctioning has even killed a Pasir Ris resident in the process.

Let me digress a bit to highlight this fact: EMS manages 400,000, mostly HDB, vehicle parking lots. When HDB increases parking charges, it is effectively transferring wealth from HDB residents’ pockets to EMS and Keppel Land.

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Without transparency, HDB residents will always be screwed by PAP town councils. The recent case of LTA working in secrecy with SMRT is testament to the fact that Singaporeans’ interests have been compromised. Any thinking HDB resident should not even dream of the government taking the initiative to come clean on China-made lifts.

For residents whose estate manager happened to be EMS, we are living in dangerous times.

Should the 2,200 substandard lifts also be sent back to China, replaced by more established brands?


In 2013, I highlighted the issue of non-disclosure of EMS’ key executives to PM Lee, copied to MPs and the press. EMS has still not disclosed its CEO and directors on its website.

EMS is not our neighbourhood provision shop. It receives hundreds of millions in tax dollarsevery year and is obligated to act in a transparent manner. Are there many PAP grassroots leaders/ex civil servants/MPs/ministers linked to EMS? The public deserves nothing less than total disclosure. Or the government should cease all business dealings with such a secretive company.


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