Workers’ Party secretary-general Pritam Singh has re-asserted that People’s Association (PA) grassroots groups and the team of grassroots advisers appointed by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) ignored Aljunied-Hougang Town Council’s (AHTC) community upgrading proposals, in response to former PAP candidate Chua Eng Leong’s “serious allegations” against him.
In a Facebook post published on 15 Oct, Mr Pritam decried the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) practice of appointing defeated PAP candidates as grassroots advisers in opposition-held wards and revealed that this practice allows the defeated candidates to “campaign for votes well before the General Elections” and gives them the authority to dispense “large sums of taxpayer dollars.”
Noting that the WP has to go through these defeated PAP candidates to raise projects and gain approval on spending the S$40 million that is made available to all town councils for community upgrading projects, Mr Pritam asserted that these grassroots advisers are able to delay community improvement projects in opposition wards for years or ignore proposals altogether.
Mr Pritam said that one such example of a long-delayed project is the construction of a Barrier-Free-Access (BFA) ramp at Blk 108 Bedok Reservoir Road. Asserting that the simple ramp could have been built in months, Mr Pritam that the project – which was first mooted in 2012 – took about seven years to complete due to “political double standards”.
One of the grassroots advisers in Aljunied GRC, Chua Eng Leong, took issue with Mr Pritam’s post. Mr Chua, the son of former Cabinet minister Chua Sian Chin, was appointed the PAP’s branch chairman for the Eunos ward of Aljunied GRC in 2013 after ex-PAP politician Zainul Abidin Rasheed who lost to the WP in the 2011 General Election left politics.
Accusing Mr Pritam of making “unsubstantiated comments” about the completion of the ramp project, Mr Chua said on 19 Oct: “At the outset, I should state that these are politically divisive and factually inaccurate comments that I have chosen to respond only so as to maintain a level of accountability to our residents and my fellow Singaporeans.”
Mr Chua said that the Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs) in Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC have completed multiple projects in this ward and claimed that the BFA ramp was also proposed by the Eunos CCC. CCCs are under the purview of the People’s Association (PA), which is a Government statutory board.
Asserting that AHTC was not the only party that proposed the BRA ramp, Mr Chua said: “Considering this BFA Ramp was proposed by Eunos CCC, why would Eunos CCC delay the project? Regardless of whether a project is proposed by the AHTC or the Eunos CCC, the Eunos CCC and the PA would ensure the seamless completion of the project once the necessary approvals have been granted.
“Any insinuation that there was a delay in the completion of the BFA Ramp because it was a proposal mooted by the opposition party is therefore unjustifiable.”
Mr Chua explained that the contractors in charge of the BFA ramp had asked for time extensions to complete the project. Repeating his claim that Mr Pritam’s remarks were “politically divisive,” Mr Chua said: “It is politically mischievous to suggest that proposals by MPs are commonly ignored.”
Calling the BFA ramp issue a “red herring”, the PAP member also took the opportunity to make a dig at Mr Singh over the recent High Court judgment on the AHTC lawsuit.
Mr Pritam promptly responded to Mr Chua’s post and said: “I am delighted to see the CCC finally engage this issue, albeit only after things have to go public. Repeated emails, requests for answers have gone unanswered and ignored, over many years.”
The opposition politician also asked: “If you do not communicate with your counterparty, and you do not explain why repeated Extension of Times (EOT) are required – what is the irresistible conclusion? Is a seven year wait for a proposal to come to fruition the norm in PAP wards where taxpayers monies are also used to fund Community Improvement Projects Committee (CIPC) projects?”
Asking Mr Chua to shed light on how much was allocated to the Aljunied CCCs after 2011 against the average allocated for CCCs in all other wards, Mr Pritam also said that another set of proposals AHTC raised for CIPC funding after 2015 was ignored.
He added: “Mr Chua contends that the BFA ramp is a red herring. He is wrong. It is a metaphor – A very powerful metaphor for the double standards when it comes to CIPC funding in opposition wards.”
Noting that he expected some reference to the ongoing AHTC court case, Mr Pritam called on the CCCs to meet with the elected MPs to ensure equity in disbursement of taxpayer dollars and efficient execution of CIPC projects in opposition wards.
Mr Chua did not respond to Mr Pritam’s remarks. He had said in his 19 Oct Facebook post that he has “no intention of engaging further on this issue after this clarification post unless the need arises.”
Mr Pritam, however, has reasserted his claim that PA grassroots groups commonly ignored AHTC’s proposals in his latest Facebook post. Revealing that he has collated proof of his correspondence with the grassroots groups that show a trend of ignoring AHTC’s proposals for CIPC funding, Mr Pritam hit out at Mr Chua’s “serious allegations” against him:
“In his Facebook post of 19 Oct 2019, Mr Chua Eng Leong, Grassroots Adviser, Aljunied GRC alleged that I had made “unsubstantiated comments” about the delays to the completion of the Barrier Free Access (BFA) ramp at Blk 108 Bedok Reservoir Road. He also stated that my comments were “politically divisive” and “factually inaccurate”.
“He also argued that any insinuation of a delay to the completion of the BFA ramp because it was mooted by the opposition was “unjustifiable”. Finally he stated that it was “politically mischievous” to suggest proposals by (opposition) MPs were commonly ignored by the CCC.”
Asserting that the “facts speak for themselves” and that Mr Chua’s position on the matter is thus “untenable,” Mr Pritam said:
“In light of these serious allegations, I have collated a substantive summary of all communication pertaining to CIPC funding since 2012 that I have sent to or received from PA-appointees – from Grassroots Advisers, CCC Chairmen, PA Constituency Directors and CCC appointed consultants since 2012 for public scrutiny. The facts speak for themselves. Mr Chua’s position on the matter is untenable.”
The correspondence Mr Pritam has collated apparently shows that the CCC was fully aware of AHTC’s proposal for Blk 108 Bedok Reservoir Road BFA ramp and Blk 633 Bedok Reservoir Road shelter from 2012 and that multiple chasers were sent by the AHTC MP to PA representatives over seven years, including calls for meetings with PA representatives, Grassroots Advisers or CCC representatives.
Asserting that he has evidence that AHTC’s new CIPC proposals dating 2016 were ignored despite repeat reminders, Mr Pritam: “As I stated in my original post, no matter who is in Government or who is in the opposition, Singapore and Singaporeans deserve better.”
CIPC Funding in AHTC________________________In his Facebook post of 19 Oct 2019, Mr Chua Eng Leong, Grassroots…
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