Don’t take advantage of people, Minister Balakrishnan tells WP. WP accused of being untruthful in hawker centre cleaning saga

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  Vivian Balakrishnan

The core issue is integrity – Hawkers vs AHPETC 

Many well-intended people advised me not to pursue this saga. It was too mundane, and people wanted to move on.

But I felt duty bound to resolve this matter, because it goes far beyond clean ceilings.

The core issue is integrity.

The Property Manager of AHPETC, Mr Tai Vie Shun, demanded extra money from hawkers for cleaning the high areas of hawker centres. He did so on three occasions – 8 March 2013, 26 April 2013 and 28 April 2013. The hawkers have confirmed this consistently, and their account is backed up by notes of meetings.

When this scandal came to light, instead of putting things right, the Town Council Chairman, Ms Sylvia Lim, and the Vice-Chairman, Mr Pritam Singh, publicly denied that the Town Council had ever asked hawkers for more money.

That was why I said in Parliament that these denials by Ms Lim and Mr Singh were false and untruthful. And I say it again here.

Ms Sylvia Lim acknowledged that this was a very grave charge, but then she beat around the bush, and claimed confusion between spring and annual cleaning.

But how can she, on the one hand, claim that the Town Council never asked for more money; and then, on the other hand, maintain that this was spring and not annual cleaning, i.e. the Town Council was justified to ask for more money?

Mr Pritam Singh sat conspicuously silent throughout the proceedings.

Mr Low Thia Kiang argued that it was all ‘a misunderstanding’. But interestingly he did not strongly defend the Town Council’s actions, or Ms Lim and Ms Singh’s public denials.

Politics is a contest for power, but people with power must never take advantage of those in their charge. Equally important, we must always be honest with everyone, including ourselves, especially if a mistake has been made. I therefore urged Mr Low to conduct a full investigation and clean up his Town Council.

To my surprise, at this point Mr Low, Ms Lim and Mr Singh all chose to remain silent, and raised no further questions or objections, and so the debate in Parliament ended.

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Spat with Workers’ Party not about clean hawker centres but clean politics, MEWR Minister says

SINGAPORE — The crux of the spat between the Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with the Workers’ Party was not over the cleaning of the hawker centres in Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council, but rather, clean politics, said Dr Balakrishnan in Parliament this afternoon.

In a protracted debate between the Minister and AHPETC Chairman Sylvia Lim, Dr Balakrishnan charged that the issue of integrity has been obscured the whole episode, while accusing both Ms Lim and Mr Pritam Singh — AHPETC’s Vice-Chairman — of being untruthful and lying that their contractor had included separate payment for both the scaffolding and cleaning of the high areas in the hawker centres located in Blocks 511 and 538 in Bedok North.

In response, Ms Lim said that Dr Balakrishnan “made very serious allegations” against herself and Mr Pritam. She pointed out that the misunderstanding arose over confusion whether the cleaning of high areas is supposed to be conducted once or four times a year.

She also said that the issue started through a series of misleading emails exchanged between AHPETC staff and an National Environment Agency official over who was in charge of the erection and dismantling of scaffolding used during the cleaning.

In reply to Dr Balakrishnan’s repeated questions on whether the property manager of AHPETC, Mr Tai Vie Shun, had asked hawkers to pay extra for annual cleaning, Ms Lim said: “As far as our investigations go, Mr Tai, at no point of time, asked for extra money to be paid to the town council for high area cleaning.”

Dr Balakrishan then distributed a dossier containing evidence, before specifically pointing out documents showing that Ms Lim had been untruthful.

Speaking to WP Chief Low Thia Kiang, he said:

“Politics is a contest for power, but the key principle when you have power is, don’t take advantage of people under your charge, and always be honest and upfront with them.

All of us will make mistakes. When a mistake is made, just come clean and say so, but don’t cover up. That’s why I have not let this go, because it is not about cleanliness of the ceiling, it is about clean politics, and I appeal to you because I know you to be an honourable man.

I appeal to you, go back, do a thorough investigation of what’s gone wrong in your TC and put it right, set it right. I have confidence that you will do so, Mr Low.”

The heated debate also led to Mr Low rising at one point to seek clarifications. Mr Low explained that it was the contractor — and not AHPETC — who issued the quotation to the hawkers, while adding that the whole episode arose from a misunderstanding over the terms spring cleaning and annual cleaning.

He said: “From my understanding, the Town Council is well aware of their obligations to clean the high areas … What I gather from the whole episode is arising from a misunderstanding between annual cleaning and spring cleaning.”

Source : todayonline : Don’t take advantage of people, Minister Balakrishnan tells WP

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“DON’T COVER UP” :  BALAKRISHNAN

WATCH the exchange in Parliament today between Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Workers’ Party Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang over the hawker centre cleaning saga involving the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council  – CNA

Video link : “DON’T COVER UP “:  BALAKRISHNAN

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Related Article :

  • Dossier which accompanied the responses by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, to Supplementary Questioning for PQ1238 on the role of Town Councils in the maintenance and cleaning of hawker centres under their charge  – http://app.mewr.gov.sg/web/contents/contents.aspx?contid=1846

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by Fabrications About The PAP

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