My PAP opponent, Mr Charles Chong said in a press interview yesterday that:
a. Upgrading is necessary and is what residents want,
b. I do not understand the parking problems and that it cannot be solved by just promoting neighbourliness and tolerance.
I replied through telephone interviews with the press. However, as some of my statements were not fully reported, I am putting up a reply via this blog post.
a. What residents want
The vast majority of residents I have met in my walkabouts have raised national issues such as healthcare costs, living costs, need for checks and balances, foreign talent issues, crowded facilities and transportation issues. There were some who did ask about upgrading of various facilities. There are some upgrading requests that are necessary and which are under the charge of specific government agencies. These I will certainly also raise to the relevant agencies.
The PAP has always been using upgrading as a carrot in elections. There may be some specific funds they can tap on but will deprive an opposition MP access to. I was referring to these unfair upgrading advantages the PAP has, despite the fact that these are actually the people’s money.
When I further asked residents if they would sacrifice having an additional credible alternative voice in parliament versus the upgrading they have asked for that requires funds accessible only to the PAP, most would choose to have the alternative voice. After all, the residents of Hougang and Potong Pasir have rejected bigger upgrading carrots to their flats.
Hence, I made the statement that upgrading is not a key issue in Joo Chiat SMC versus the bigger goal of having a better representation for the residents in parliament on national issues. The PAP’s upgrading carrot cannot work in Joo Chiat.
b. The parking issue
Charles’ ability to problem solve the parking issue will not be greater than mine. This is because an MP, whether from the PAP or from the opposition cannot make decisions unilaterally on creating additional parking spaces or changing traffic direction of roads.
I will certainly be looking at feasible ways to create additional parking spaces. Proposals will be disscussed with the relevant national authorities after gathering all necessary feedback and studying the feasibility of proposed solutions. However, there is only so much anyone can do because of limited space in the area. Charles cannot create more space for parking than I can. We face the same constraints. Changing the direction of traffic may cause more problems, as evident by the problems in the Palm Road / Tay Lian Teck area after Palm Road was converted into a single way traffic some years ago. The problem remained unresolved today despite strong feedback from residents.
Neighbourliness and tolerance can help to minimise some problems. For example, many of the parking problems are due to events, such as those related to places of worship and community centre events. These are occasional or periodic events and some creative solutions can also be found by the community collaboratively. For example, those going to the community centre could be asked to park somewhere else with more space and be car-pooled into the area.