By Mary Lee
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President Tony Tan couldn’t have put it better.  He told the alumni of St Joseph’s Institution: “Social reserves  are the goodwill that makes us look out for one another during difficult  times. They are the resilience to help us overcome challenges and constraints,  and (they) give us the tenacity to progress both as individuals and  as a nation.” As social reserves are “intangible, we only  know how much we have when we need to draw on it.”
I am selfishly delighted with President Tan’s  words because they show up what kind of people the ruling party has representing  it. It began in January, during the rainy season. I had to take taxis  most of the time because of the weather, and health complications compromised  my mobility, including opening an umbrella and dashing to the ground  floor corridor of my block.  That plus having the taxi drivers  ask: “Why your block no cover?” One suggested: “Ask your  MP! Now, everything they give!”
So I did. My MP sends her constituents who have  e-mail regular “bulletins” so, in January, encountering (yet  again) a 3m banner advertising a week-long golfing trip to Hainan in  June costing $7,000+ each, I wrote to her.
She wrote back to say the money for the trip  was paid for by the residents making the trip. The actual words were  curt and downright rude.
We haven’t communicated since but let me list  ways in which town councils (PAP and WP) can help create better “social  reserves”: give people what they really need, not pretentious block  names like Chong Pang Vale, Yishun Grove or Khatib Spring. Such names  are a total waste of town council reserves and the only people it benefited  were the contractors who won the tender to put them up!
In my block there is a free clinic patronized  by older people, but there is no covered driveway to the clinic, thanks  to really bad planning around the estate. And the town council and HDB  spent tons of money upgrading the estate (residents had a choice of  doors and grilles but that was all the choice there was).
So President Tan, for your information, the people  in the parish I belong to volunteer to visit the sick, aged and lonely  at home; we build up our other social reserves because that is what  our faith teaches us.
I need my MP to understand what a greying population  in her constituency needs – not the golf club members who can take care  of their own golfing trips and aren’t even her working class constituents!  Which means she isn’t even aware how depleted her constituency’s “social  reserves” are. Bad estate planning coupled with uncaring MPs equals  zero “social reserves”. The taxi drivers say she has “nothing  to draw on”.
Am I generalizing based on one snotty MP? Perhaps.  But I think it’s a useful lesson on the Party’s “social reserves”,  don’t you?

See also  The unembarassed reemergence of Singaporean authoritarianism