Oppn MPs should be allowed to appoint own GrassRoots Advisers and CCC

Oppn MPs should be allowed to appoint own GrassRoots Advisers and CCC

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“This will not do, no matter who is in Government and who is the Opposition. Singapore and Singaporeans deserve better,” said the WP Chief.

“Public monies should be used for the construction of facilities, for the benefit of ALL Singaporeans in ALL constituencies” no matter who the residents voted for.

“One innocent RC member in Eunos asked me why the Workers’ Party did not organize more activities in the Community Club (CC) for residents. When I sat her down and told her that the CC is not open to opposition MPs for community purposes and that our community organisations do not receive any funding from the PA, she almost embarrassingly looked away. I told her that as long as she focused on serving the community and her neighbours and working with whichever team that was elected by the people, she should not be embarrassed about anything. She looked at me and said, “But Mr Singh, this is so unfair. Now I know why we need an opposition.” I looked at her said, “now you know why I joined the Workers’ Party,” said Mr Pritam Singh in an interview published on 16 Oct 2019. 

The Citizens’ Consultative Committee (“CCC”) controls some S$40 million in Community Improvement Projects Committee (“CIPC”) funds issued by the Ministry of National Development (MND) to upgrade estates with facilities such as covered walkways, footpaths and cycling tracks.

In opposition wards, MPs looking to tap CIPC funds (ie taxpayers money) to upgrade their estates will have to submit proposals to the CCC, which is a grassroots organisation under the PA. Even in Oppn wards, the GrassRoots advisers in CCC are appointed by PAP, usually the losing PAP candidates who contested in that same ward!

The elected Oppn MP has no say prioritising projects for the Ward and the CCC (comprising defeated MPs in Oppn Wards!) is the one that decides which projects to prioritise. “Through such upgrading projects, losing PAP candidates are made relevant for residents and can be said to campaign for votes well before the GE because they are embedded as leaders in various grassroots organisations that approve the dispensation of large sums of taxpayer dollars.” Mr Singh said.

Even if the Opposition MP can get through to the CCC to apply for use of CIPC funds, the CCC will then submit an application, endorsed by a grassroots adviser, for the funds to the MND’s CIPC. The CIPC comprises 10 PAP MPs — one of whom is Mr Victor Lye, a PAP candidate for Aljunied GRC who contested in the 2015 General Election and lost. The CIPC disburses funds by virtue of the CCC (PAP defeated MPs in Opposition wards)‘s recommendations, and the Opposition MPs have no say at all!

The approved funds will then be disbursed to the CCCs, not even to the town councils run by the Opposition MPs. Small wonder when Mr Singh said “.. from 2011 to 2015, AHPETC has received nothing..” Mr Singh also said that after trying for 18 months, WP managed to get 17 projects approved in 2013 (out of 50 proposed) but work on these did not even start after 2 years! 

Former Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong broached the topic at least eight times over his 27 years as an opposition MP in Parliament. In 2009, he had called this practice a “one country, two systems” policy that prejudiced “legitimately-elected” opposition MPs.

In a heated debate in 1995, former WP chief Low Thia Khiang, who was then Hougang MP, had argued that the mechanism serves to deprive opposition wards of funds to improve their estates, so that the PAP can say during election time: “You see, the opposition has not done much to improve your constituency.”  
 
“if.. Grassroots equals PAP Grassroots only.. this is an insult on our democracy and the values professed in our pledge and flag.. the CCC-which use community work and communal harmony as a pretext-while also doing the PAP’s political bidding-are funded by our taxpayer money.” per Mr Singh.

By this petition we urge the PAP to play “fair” per then PM Mr Goh Chok Tong and his team which were minded to transfer Anson CC and control of Grassroots Advisers’ appointments to JB Jeyaratnam in 1981 after PAP lost Anson ward to him (WP). PAP did not do so then, and this system has “now become a disease that has permanently hosted itself.” We urge the PAP to win over the hearts of Singaporeans, the 40 percent who did not vote for PAP in 2020, by playing fair- to allow Opposition MPs to appoint their own Grassroots Advisers and CCC.