Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Rape Of The Town Council Funds

A total of $3.8 billion was earmarked in 2001 for the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) to install lifts that stop at every floor for "eligible" HDB blocks. Between now and the deadline of 2014, only $400 million is left of the total set aside. Meaning, some 90 percent of the funds have already been dispensed. The MND has revealed that opposition wards Hougang and Potong Pasir will finally be given $150 m of this last remaining amount. MND confirms it's political bias just as much by maintaining that it is sticking to the policy of giving priority to wards which "supported the Government". That's not all.

We now know that the 14 PAP wards, out of the total of 16, have special access to something called Town Improvement and Project Fund (TIPF) which is available only when the grassroots adviser, also the elected MP, makes an application for the funds. Except that the MP in an opposition ward is not recognised by the MND, and the adviser here is from the PAP, who conveniently skips applying for the grant. The stash money is dispensed by the MND, not out of the largesse of their own pockets, but from the taxpayers. Maybe the residents of Hougang and Potong Pasir should get a tax rebate for this exceptionally shoddy treatment.

No wonder Low Thia Khiang repeatedly demanded that the Government disclose the amount of funding each PAP town council had received, a request that Senior Minister of State of the Ministry of National Development Grace Fu stubbornly ignored. It's as if she had suddenly developed a deaf ear like the frog in Lim Swee Say's ridiculous tale. Even former Nominated MP Zulkifli Baharudin, general manager of two town councils in the 1990s, echoed the outrage, "People are cynical. If you don't want to release the information, they would think, do you have something to hide?" Or more accurately, how much have you been hiding?

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