When WP took over a GRC in 2011, there was optimism that they can do a better job with economies of scale. People were already tired of PAP-run town councils that had frills in landscaping and decoration in the estates that ultimately drove up operational and thus conservancy costs. By all accounts from the latest news, WP is no better if not worse in keeping costs down.
A Misstep in Who Foots the Bill
In the latest battle of who can run town councils after better, fairer and cheaper after AIM and FMSS, WP is again under the spotlight as it passed the cost of cleaning the roof and ceiling of hawker centres to the hawkers instead of absorbing them as was in the past practice under the PAP.
NEA, who acted after the WP GRC stallholders complained, said that it was the responsibility of Aljunied-Hougang-Punngol East town council to pick the tab as hawker centres were common area, and not pass the buck to the stallholders.
So soon after the FMSS-AIM saga,WP is again not doing too well in this tit-for-tat on who can run the show better. WP's popular folk image is that it is very grassroot-oriented and not distant from the ground, unlike the PAP who has forgotten its roots, as the coffeeshop talk goes.
From Spotless Hawker Centres to Spotless WP
However, by asking the humble and ubiquitous stallholders to pay for the cleaning of some of the common areas is a departure from the blue-collar worker empathy of the WP. WP is already trying to recover and stated that cleaning of the ceiling and support beams of the hawker centres was not due and there was miscommunication about hawkers footing the bill. Too little too late. This shoulder-shrugging and focus on semantics is typical of the PAP and goes to show the WP might not be as spotless as they made themselves out to be.