With the management of town councils potentially a talking point in the coming elections, Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) chairman Desmond Lim today (Aug 1) sought to highlight his party’s focus on running estates and addressing residents’ concerns during a walkabout in Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency.
Speaking to the media, Mr Lim said that for the past year or so, SDA has a team of “shadow town councillors” which visits residents in the constituency every weekend and discusses ways to improve their estate.
The team comprises six individuals who are non-party members, including operations manager Tan Jui Koon, 44, and Mr Lim Kim Soon, 61, formerly the executive secretary of the Hokkein Huay Kuan.
Town council management must be separated from politics and having non-party members as shadow town councillors would ensure that, Mr Desmond Lim said.
He also reiterated his 14 years of experience serving as a consultant at Potong Pasir Town Council, when he was the right hand man of the ward’s former Member of Parliament Chiam See Tong.
In recent months, his team has helped Pasir Ris One residents raise their problems to the Pasir Ris-Punggol town council. The Design, Build and Sell Scheme project had made headlines for building defects and other issues, such as corridors that are too narrow. The developer has agreed to change the swinging doors to sliding doors, and the SDA chief said this was one of the suggestions that his team had made to the town council.
Last month, his team had also asked the town council to remove sheets of plywood that had piled up on the rooftop of a block of Housing and Development Board flats along Pasir Ris Drive 1. He said: “We have to demonstrate to residents in Pasir Ris-Punggol our confidence and capability to run a town council and take care of their living environment…to assure them that their quality of life will not be discounted if they give us their support.”
He added that the presence of a “second town council” also presses the incumbent town council to “work harder for the residents”.
The Workers’ Party (WP) had come under criticism from the ruling People’s Action Party over the management of the finances of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).
Asked if SDA’s focus may be seen as capitalising on the AHPETC saga, he disagreed: “It is a matter of fact that any political party must give recognition to the Town Council Act, and anyone elected as a Member of Parliament will have to take good care of the people’s living environment, in addition to giving them a voice in Parliament.”
During the walkabout, the SDA entourage — which consisted about 30 members and supporters — gave out handheld Singapore flags, and flyers to residents which carried the party’s slogan, “A heart for the people”.
Mr Desmond Lim also introduced two potential election candidates to the media — SDA assistant secretary-general Aloysius Chan, 29, and party member Ernest Pak, 34.
Mr Chan and Mr Pak joined SDA in June and October last year respectively, and have been involved in SDA’s charity arm. Mr Pak said he hopes to speak up for the sandwiched class. “The authorities are not really getting any feedback from this group of people,” he said.
Despite having tasted defeat in the all the elections he had taken part in — the 2001, 2006 and 2011 GEs, and the 2013 Punggol East By-election where he forfeited his election deposit — Mr Lim said he is undeterred. It is his responsibility as part of the community to stand for the elections, he said. “To show care and concern to Singaporeans, to build a national identity is what pushes me to stay on,” he added.