Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Light at the End of the Tunnel

It looks at there will be some light at the end of the tunnel (or along in pathway in this instance) for Potong Pasir residents after all. MP Chiam See Tong is now trying to build a lighted covered walkway.

This comes after some weeks of darkness, and a few days during which the spotlight (metaphorically speaking) was put on Chiam and defeated PAP candidate Sitoh Yih Pin as to who would fix the lights which the latter had installed.

Sitoh had leased the land from LTA in early 2005 to set up the 8 solar-powered lights costing $20,000. Recently, six lights had been vandalized and the fixing them would cost about $5,000 according to Sitoh. Sitoh put the onus of providing amenities on the elected town council (headed by Chiam) while Chiam noted that the lights were Sitoh’s baby, and it was illegal for the town council to fix the lights as it (the leased land) was not under his control.

Now that elections are over, Potong Pasir residents no longer have $2 abalone porridge and extra meet-the-people (with a PAP representative no less!). However, they should be grateful to Sitoh – and not just for the abalone porridge consumed previously – for several months of free lighting, and more importantly, for keeping Chiam on his feet and paying attention to his constituents.

Sitoh never had any obligations to the people of Potong Pasir and has no obligation now. Call him a sore loser, but it was and continues to be Chiam’s job to ensure that Potong Pasir residents have the amenities they need. As the MP for over two decades, Chiam should be aware of his residents’ needs, and proactive in trying to meet them. He is now trying to build a covered walkway. Would this have happened if Sitoh had not put up the lights in this first place?

Conversely, it must be said that the same argument should also apply in the PAP wards. In this regard, I wonder if $2 abalone porridge will be on the menu for Aljunied’s residents soon.


Straits Times Interactive – Singapore

AUG 8, 2006 TUE

SOLUTION UNCOVERED?: The question of who should repair the damaged lights will become redundant if the town council gets approval to build a covered walkway, said Mr Chiam

THE saga of who is to repair some damaged solar lights along a pathway in Potong Pasir constituency took a new turn last night.

Its MP, Mr Chiam See Tong, is now seeking to build a covered walkway with lights for residents walking home from the Potong Pasir MRT station.

He told The Straits Times that he applied to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) last week for permission to build the linkway to connect the MRT station to the town centre in Potong Pasir Avenue 2.

This new development follows a dispute between Mr Chiam and the People's Action Party candidate, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, who lost the contest for the ward in the May General Election.

Earlier, before the election, Mr Sitoh had installed eight solar lights along a concrete pathway from the MRT station to Block 147, Potong Pasir Avenue 1. He had obtained the lease of the land from the SLA.

Six lights were vandalised. Mr Sitoh declined to repair them, saying the land's lease would run out on Oct 31. Mr Chiam, on the other hand, said it was illegal for his town council to use its funds for the repairs because the land in question was not under the council's jurisdiction.

He said in an e-mail last night: 'In the case of building a covered linkway, we shall have to apply for permission before we can...construct a facility. We are now applying to the SLA to do that.'

His town council will also apply to use its sinking funds to pay for the covered walkway, he said. Mr Chiam also rebutted a comment made over the weekend by Mr Lim Boon Heng, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office. Mr Lim had said that as MP for Potong Pasir, Mr Chiam was responsible for repairing the lights.

Said Mr Chiam: 'Mr Lim Boon Heng should know that permission was granted to Mr Sitoh to build the solar lamps. Therefore, it is his duty to repair the lamps.'' He added the issue would become redundant if the town council was allowed to construct the covered walkway.

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