Murali’s unnecessary spending

TODAY, 8 September 2016
TODAY, 8 September 2016

The PAP candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election has promised a S$1.9m estate upgrading plan which will be implemented if he is elected as its Member of Parliament.

Before we readily applaud this, let us go back about 7 months – to September 2015, in the heat of the general election.

The former incumbent MP of the ward, David Ong – who has since resigned his position after some personal indiscretions – had promised a 5-year plan for Bukit Batok.

The plans would cost S$24 million.

According to news reports of his rally speech then, Mr Ong announced that this would include remaking the market in the estate and its surrounding areas, improving the shops in the ward, constructing a new hawker centre, as well as a new eldercare centre and two new early childhood education centres.

Mr Murali’s plans seems to be dwarfed by this, his main offering being a “3-generation park” in the west of the estate. But as I wrote earlier, even this doesn’t seem to be anything new. The URA had already planned for parks in Bukit Batok in its own 5-year Master Plan of 2013. (See here.)

But the question which Bukit Batok residents should ask is this:

Has Ong’s 5-year Master Plan died with his resignation? Wouldn’t this be unfair, if it were? It is not Bukit Batok residents’ fault that Ong had personal indiscretions, and had to resign his post.

Surely, his promise should be continued and honoured by his party?

After all, resident voters did give him their vote of support, based on what he – and his party – had promised.

It cannot be that an election promise, a serious matter, which is made to tens of thousands of residents, is discounted if an MP has personal improprieties.

But if the plans had not died, then does Murali need to spend more of taxpayers’ money for more such infrastructure? Is it necessary spending, given that there is already a “5 -year MASTER PLAN” for the SMC in place?

If the 5-year plan was still in place, is it necessary to be spending another S$2m a mere 7 months after the masterplan promise was made?

Is it a responsible way to use public funds?

Is it wise to be spending so much extra money at a time when perhaps there are other more pressing priorities?

Bear in mind this, if you have not noticed it: there are already TWO 5-year master plans running parallel in Bukit Batok SMC – one by the URA and the other by the Jurong-Clementi Town Council.

I think Bukit Batok residents should not fall into the trap that more such largesse is good – for at the end of the day, all these would require upkeeping. And that means residents will have to fork out the cost of maintenance out of their own pockets, through paying service and conservancy charges.

So, residents should ask Mr Murali about the 5-year Master Plan, and why they (as taxpayers) should ultimately be forking out for more such “upgrading”.

Pork barrel politics should only be allowed to go so far, if at all.

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