Town Council & Empathy

The recent debacle over the Town Council Management Report (TCMR) has gotten most of Singapore talking. If you haven’t heard yet, the government has released the first Town Council Management Report a couple of days ago, which saw Tanjong Pagar and Marine Parade’s Town Councils, belonging to Minister Mentor Lee and Senior Minister Goh’s constituency, clinching the top two spots in overall ranking while the opposition Town Councils run by opposition MPs Mr Low Thia Khiang and Mr Chiam See Tong, getting the worst place.

This juxtaposition of ranking differences had gotten most of the online netizens speculating as to whether or not the results and ranking were politically motivated with an election expected to be held by Feb 2012 latest. I will not speculate on whether it is politically-motivated but I thought its interesting to note that the last time a similar report like this was done was in 1996, which showed similar results with the opposition-held wards scoring lowest point, an election was called 1 year later. [ citiation need ]

Town Councils were rated by a couple of indicators like Cleaniness, Maintenance, Lift Maintenance and S&CC Arrears Management, with the latter the reason why both opposition wards fared the worst in the report. I won’t really write about my opinion on the results as I think Shin Leong has already done it for me, but rather I read with interest a news article that came out 1 day after the report:

In the article, “Good, but can do better” by Alicia Wong from Todayonline, I read with interest on what PAP MP Mdm Cynthia Phua was quoted as saying:

Some town council chairmen assured residents they would not have to pay more for improvements. Ms Indranee Rajah, chairman for Tanjong Pagar Town Council, said it seeks to work within its budget so residents would not pay more. Jalan Besar Town Council chairman Denise Phua said it has no plans to raise fees, as it partners residents to improve maintenance. However, Madam Cynthia Phua, chairman for Aljunied Town Council, cautioned if residents do not cooperate, more home visits by town council staff could lead to higher manpower costs. Half the maintenance penalties imposed by the council come from corridor clutter and unauthorised hanging of items by residents.

When I read that, the first thing that came to my mind was why did the Member feel that there’s a need to warn residents not to cause the town council to conduct home visits as it may lead to higher manpower costs. To me it feels

A day after the press release, Mdm Cynthia Phua (Chairperson of Aljunied Town Council) was quoted as saying,-but-can-do-better

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