Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vote-Buying Rears Its Ugly Head

The decision by WP MP Pritam Singh to selective wave ‘carrots’ at supporters of his upgrading initiative for Aljunied GRC, truly puzzles me.

At best you could say his stumbling into the realm of unethical vote-buying was a result of his naivety. Perhaps they might argue that they followed the advice of a well-intending grassroot advisor, and failed to realise that they have inadvertently alienated residents for whom upgrading was possibly an economic or general inconvenience.

If the move was intended to reward WP supporters, the WP also probably failed to realise that perhaps some of the constituents might just not want the upgrading? Did you some how adopt the hubris attitude that you are either with us or against us? That if your voted no, you must be a die-hard PAP supporter?

I am particularly irked by this news as many an opposition rally message have focused on the abusive nature of associating votes with upgrading. The WP has often said that the PAP insults the sensibilities of Hougang residents by thinking that they can be bought over.

Stepping away from the political realm, this lucky draw reminds me of the unethical practices that plagued private property owners going through an Enbloc exercise. Before amendments to Enbloc Sale rules, sales committees would ‘threaten’ hesitant sellers that if they did not vote for the sale, and if the sale subsequently went through, they would not get their share of the remaining building/sinking fund.

Now I am not the type to clamour over freebies and lucky draws, but i do feel for any resident that feels discriminated and isolated. I didn’t like it when the PAP did it, and i still don’t like it when the WP does it.
ps. Goh Meng Seng, a former member of the WP, shares his view on this issue, and i append his posting below

Netizens question upgrading lucky draw

Posted on Oct 3, 2012 7:17 PM Updated: Oct 3, 2012 8:09 PM

A lucky draw organised by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council to thank
residents who voted for upgrading has attracted flak online.

On Tuesday, the Facebook group Fabrications About The PAP
posted a scanned image of a letter which Aljunied MP Pritam Singh sent last month.

Dated Sept 21, the letter is addressed to residents of Eunos
Spring which is in Mr Singh’s ward. It states that 79 per cent of the residents had said yes to the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP).

It also invites residents to a “modest thank-you reception” organised by the town council held on Sept 29, featuring a dialogue with residents and a lucky draw. Prizes included a Samsung 40-inch television, an iPad, and close to 100 household appliances.

One line of the letter states: “All residents who voted YES in the NRP polling exercise are automatically included in the draw.”

Netizens latched on this line, with some questioning why the ballot was not secret, while others asked why residents who turned down NRP were being left out.

Singapolitics asked Mr Singh for his reasons for the lucky dra
w, and if residents who turned down upgrading would be allowed to take part.
We also asked if he would respond to netizens’ accusations that he is discriminating against residents who voted no.

In response, he referred Singapolitics to the Housing Board saying they were the “best authority to check with” and added that the town council will be issuing a statement on Thursday.

The Housing Board said it would reply on Thursday.
Singapolitics understands that it is usually the town council, not
the Housing Board, that conducts such upgrading polling exercises.

The NRP is a government-sponsored programme which sees neighbourhoods fitted with improvements such as drop-off por
ches, covered linkways and resident’s corners.

Residents can propose improvements, and at least 75 per cent of eligible flat owners must support it before it can be carried out.

In April last year, one month before the general elections which saw the Workers’ Party win Aljunied GRC, it was announced that Eunos Spring was eligible for upgrading.

However, the previous working committee secured less than 50 per cent approval, according to another letter by Mr Singh in August this year. The area was under PAP MP Zainul Abidin Rasheed at that time.

Mr Singh said then that in the first quarter of 2012, he went d
oor to door to secure resident approval, along with town council officers as “we did not want to lose the opportunity for upgrading for Eunos Spring”.

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