Public has sufficient info to make judgement

I refer to the 16 Jul 2013 Straits Times letter “Public needs info to make judgment” by Mr Anthony Lim [1].

Mr Lim wants WP chief Low Thia Khiang to make available details of his investigation into the Aljunied hawker centre cleaning issue. But Mr Low has already said that all pieces of information concerning the case are already in the public domain and these are indeed quite sufficient to establish the essential facts of the case.

Mr Lim sees a need to clarify whether or not the town council has decided to carry out annual spring cleaning. But it was already clear from Ajunied Town Council’s annual spring cleaning schedule that annual spring cleaning won’t take place for the affected Blk 538 until the end of Oct 2013 [2]. Somehow the hawker centre decided that the spring cleaning from 4th to 8th Mar 2013 will be the annual spring cleaning and this was somehow not communicated clearly to Aljunied Town Council who ended up believing this was a quarterly spring cleaning with additional requirement for high area cleaning. The fact that there was to be a five-day hawker centre closure does indicate that high areas will be cleaned. But it doesn’t indicate Aljunied Town Council’s understanding that this will be an annual spring cleaning rather than a quarterly spring cleaning with add-on request for high area cleaning. One cannot blame Aljunied Town Council for levying additional charges for high area cleaning for the 4th to 8th Mar 2013 spring cleaning if it thought this to be an additional requirement over and above the high area cleaning to be carried out for the planned annual spring cleaning towards the end of Oct 2013.

Mr Lim is of the opinion that if WP feels aggrieved it should take legal action against Mr Bala. But the sad fact as far as anyone can remember is that all legal proceedings between the PAP and the opposition have always ended in favour of the PAP. This is not to suggest that our legal system is biased in any way as that suggestion is itself illegal as far as one understands. However, without looking into the reasons why the PAP always triumph over its opponents in court, but just looking only at the statistical record of such legal proceedings, one will, even if one has full confidence in the legal system, be inclined to think that based on the statistics, for whatever underlying reasons, one is doomed to fail if one decides to take on the PAP in court. It is therefore understandable why WP has wisely chosen not to take legal action.

On the other hand, if Mr Bala has, as he claims, incontrovertible evidence that WP has sought to illegally double charge the hawkers for the cleaning of their hawker centre, then why hasn’t he taken legal action to incriminate WP of such wrong doings? Why hasn’t he called in the CPIB for a full investigation? It seems that Mr Bala has nothing but hot air to show for his so-called incontrovertible evidence.

Mr Lim is also of the opinion that politician integrity is an important national issue worthy of debate in parliament. However, if politician integrity is really at stake, shouldn’t the CPIB and the public prosecutor be brought in for a thorough investigation? The fact that neither the CPIB nor the public prosecutor have been called in suggests there is really no big integrity issue as far as the WP side is concerned.

[1] Straits Times, Public needs info to make judgment, 16 Jul 2013, Anthony Lim

THE Workers’ Party has called on the public to “make its own judgment” on several occasions (“WP: Unproductive to continue arguing”; Sunday).
As a member of the public and a Singaporean, I wish to make an informed judgment based on proper understanding of the hawker centre cleaning saga.
To help me do so, I would need clarity on the following:
• WP chief Low Thia Khiang said last Wednesday that there was no need for further investigations into complaints related to hawker centre cleaning in Aljunied GRC (“Low: No need for further probe into hawker centre cleaning row”; last Thursday).
This means the party must have conducted an investigation. For the purpose of transparency and to facilitate proper understanding, it should make the details of the investigation available for public scrutiny.
• In Parliament last Tuesday, Mr Low attributed the dispute to a misunderstanding between the town council, hawkers and National Environment Agency over quarterly spring cleaning versus annual cleaning.
A day later, he said town councils have the prerogative to decide on annual cleaning schedules for markets.
There is a need to clarify if the town council had decided to carry out annual cleaning or otherwise at the two Bedok hawker centres.
From what was reported, the five-day closure at one hawker centre would have indicated that annual cleaning was being carried out, for which high areas had to be cleaned.
• The WP MPs have said that Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan made serious allegations against their integrity.
If they are so aggrieved, and since Dr Balakrishnan has waived his parliamentary privilege, why have they not taken legal action to protect their integrity?
And now that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has mentioned that what Dr Balakrishnan said in Parliament was also the Cabinet’s position, there is an even greater need for the WP leadership to prove its position in order for the public to make the right judgment.
Mr Jeffrey Law Lee Beng (“Discuss national issues in Parliament”; last Saturday) said Parliament should debate national issues. Politicians’ “integrity” is a national issue – and a very important one that may decide the future of Singapore.

[2] Aljunied Town Council annual cleaning schedule 2013

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One Response to “Public has sufficient info to make judgement”

  1. ;Annonymous Says:

    Congratulations for your careful and considered piece. However, I would like to share a few thoughts of my own. Since the PAP has been thumping its chest proclaiming that it plays clean politics and trying to hold the moral high ground they should do some investigation of their own (assuming that they do not already know). The MSM has now exposed the two PAP members who claim to head phantom Hawkers Associations belatedly because netizens had already identified them. Clearly they have to be investigated by the Registrar of Societies because, prima facie, they have been members of illegal societies. Next, it appears reasonable to assume, given their admissions that they handled the matter from the start, either or both prepared or sent the so-called petitions to the press to embarrass the WP. Clean politics? The NEA uses the petitions in their dealings with the WP and they find their way into the ‘dossier’. So Balakrishnan’s was not politicising the matter ? Many outside observers continue to wonder why a small municipal matter has been made in a matter of integrity and national importance deserving all that Parliamentary time. As a concerned citizen I would ask Balakrishnan to convince me and others like me that the whole episode was not a pre-planned attack on the WP to try and re-capture Aljunied GRC in 2016, an episode that has back-fired. He said in Parliament that he raised the issue against the advice of well-meaning friends; it was meant to give the impression that it was his personal conviction that moved him. Now we know from the PM that it was a Cabinet decision to raise it and he was deputed to raise it in Parliament (complete with a ‘dossier’). I find the whole thing nauseating.

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