Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dr Vivian: "Clean up and apologise, then we talk"

Update: Low Thia Khiang: "Time for WP-run town councils & NEA to move on"

Dr Balakrishnan calls on WP to clean hawker centre, apologise

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan has said that the Workers' Party (WP) should clean up the hawker centres under their charge and apologise to the hawkers involved in a long-running dispute over the cleaning of hawker centres in Aljunied GRC.

Only once the cleaned hawker centres have been inspected would he sit down for a meeting with WP chief Low Thia Khiang, said Dr Balakrishnan on Tuesday.

“At that point, I will be happy to invite Mr Low Thia Khiang for a cup of coffee with me,” he said to reporters, adding that  the meeting would also have to involve the hawkers.

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V Balakrishnan, the PAPpy minister with a schoolgirl's tantrum

The Town Council will clean the place. That is settled. So what is this petty "apologise" thingie for? Why is V Bala trying to lengthen the issue? Trying to detract us from the AIM saga?

Why are we overpaying ministers so much, only for them to act like petty schoolgirls arguing who started first? WP has invited V Bala to talk things over, yet this guy (or gal? btw isn't Vivian a girl's name?) seems to be so free and bored, he has to look for action. Vivian Balakrishnan. It pains me to see that a million dollar minister is wasting his time on petty things, protracting issues that are already resolved, instead of paying more attention to national needs.

Well, looks like I got that one right - The man in the centre of AHPETC controversy is a PAP grassroots leader. Good job, TRE! It certainly looks like a planned, coordinated, sinister effort by the PAPpy gang to tarnish the image of WP. Pity Vivian Bala is stupid enough to get involved. What a waste of money funding his overpaid salary.

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Clearing The Air

At least the truculent troika of Khaw Boon Wan, Teo Ho Pin and Chandra Das had the smarts to shut up when invited to call in the CPIB if they were not satisfied with the public accounting of the A.I.M. saga.

When Vivian Balakrishnan was invited to an opportunity to clear the air about the misunderstandings over the cleaning of hawker centres (not food court or restaurant) in Aljunied GRC, the blustering minister for Environment and Water Resources was true to form. He haughtily demanded action to “clean up the place” and “apologise to the hawkers”, before acceding to meeting Mr Low Thia Khiang over a cup of coffee “after the place is cleaned and to do so with the hawkers present.”

This is the typical coward who hides behind the safety of a GRC, instead of facing the electorate on his own two feet in a SMC. It's not his style to settle scores with his adversary mano-a-mano, that's good reason why he carries a feminine sounding name. And the hawker he is dragging into the fracas?

NEA & Hawker Association are playing politics!

As the local media was trying hard to cook up a storm on the case, why didn’t NEA approach AHPETC to listen to its side of the story?

In my opinion, the NEA and Hawkers Association have been politically motivated in their dealing with this case. The local media, once again, has proven that it is effectively the ruling party’s propaganda department. WP and the stallholders are the victims here. 

Editor’s note: Our local media probably thought they’d got a “hot story” when they heard the hawkers or hawker rep(s) telling them that WP “is going to charge” extra for the scaffolding. As it turns out, things are backfiring… not just for the establishment but also the local media as well.

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OPINION: NEA Minister Likes to Play Politics

Picture from

Comment: Will Vivian Balakrishnan also be inspecting the quality of cleaning work at hawkers centres in all PAP's ward?

TR Emeritus, 12 Jun 2013
After giving an update on Singapore’s latest dengue situation and dengue control measures to the media today (11 Jun), Environment and Water Resources Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said he stands by his comments in the recent spat with AHPETC over the cleaning of hawker centres in Aljunied GRC.

In any case, Dr Balakrishnan told the media today that, for now, his advice to the Workers’ Party is to “clean up the place” and “apologise to the hawkers”. 

After the place is cleaned, he said that he and NEA will inspect the “quality of work”. 

Dr Balakrishnan added that he will then meet Mr Low Thia Khiang over a cup of coffee “after the place is cleaned and to do so with the hawkers present.” 

That being the case, it will probably be the first time in the history of Singapore that a Minister is going down to inspect cleaning work at hawker centres. Full story

Singapore Dengue Outbreak Worsens As Environment Minister Continues Bickering With AHPE Town Council

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AHPETC saga: It’s all about trying to discredit WP

It is apparent that the PAP is going after Sylvia Lim. I can recall how she was talked down to by Jayakumar in parliament. And recently, was unfairly accused of being ‘arrogant’ by Khaw Boon Wan again in parliament during the AIM debate. And now Vivian Balakrishnan has also used the same adjective on her.

The plot to ruin her public image is unmistakable! But, on the contrary, this is a clear admission that the PAP politicians FEAR her because she has been FEARLESS in asking all the right and HARD questions in parliament. So, typically when Khaw and Balakrishnan has no credible replies to her hard talk, they start to attack her personally! But, IMO, it has backfired on both ministers. For all the pains they have taken to malign her, they have effectively tarred and feathered themselves.

The regrettable thing really is that in the process, it has only brought disrepute and discredit to the civil service, damaging its image in the eyes of the public, again and again. In the final analysis it undermines the country as a whole when civil servants become willing pawns in partisan politics or allowed itself to be used in this manner. We don’t have to look far for the reasons why Singaporeans are fast losing faith in public institutions.

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The man in the centre of AHPETC controversy is a PAP grassroots leader

Ceiling of hawker centre at blk 538

TRE readers have also sent in information that Mr Ng Kok Khim is not only a grassroots leader but also a long time PAP member. In fact, he was commended by his party during a 2011 PAP Award Ceremony for his long service to PAP [Link].

He received the Long Service Medal (Silver) for his work in the Kaki Bukit division of Aljunied GRC. The Kaki Bukit area was “transferred” to Aljunied GRC from Marine Parade GRC, just before the 2011 GE. It’s not known if Mr Ng Kok Khim is still a town councilor with the Marine Parade Town Council since his division is no longer under Marine Parade GRC.

In any case, the fact that Mr Ng was awarded the PAP Long Service Medal, he must be considered to be a party patriot by PAP.

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Ng Kok Khim in the hawker centre cleaning spat

Thanks to TRE for uncovering this. I believe many of us are tired of this unending spat but with evidence like this we need to return once more. 

Mr. Ng Kok Khim is the Chairman of the Blk 538 Market Association is also a PAP member and PA grassroot leader. Very curious isn't it? 

Such people are only serving to take us to new depths of cynicism.

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These are debates the public can do without

I am referring of course to two recent clashes between the Workers’ Party and the People’s Action Party-led government.

There are two possibilities on what has led to the disputes. One, it was a pure misunderstanding between two sides which engaged each other in good faith. Two, it was not a pure misunderstanding, but that one side or both were being mischievous.

Whichever is the case, let’s stop it now.

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Blk 538 suggests PAP never learn

In one stroke the revelation of Ng Kok Khim's possible role in the hawker centres cleaning spat has put what many of us feel was an unnecessary distraction and waste of time onto many people's radars. Smells like a suitable sequel to AIM-gate.

I don't care about small quarrels over who pays for cleaning. May be I should care if the problem turns chronic but we were far from that.

The papers had to report the quarrel because it was as newsworthy as the maiden MPS when WP won the GRC. It was a significant event in our political history. The rest of Singapore wait to see if WP can run a GRC well especially when they quietly showed they could do it cheaper than the PAP.

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Clean first, coffee later

Anyone who has been following the National Environment Agency and Workers’ Party tussle over cleaning of Aljunied GRC-Hougang hawker centres will note the similarities with the AIM saga over town council software.

Emails and letters have been produced and the reading public is subjected to the ding-dong accusations and rebuttals flying across – over their heads.

An ordinary layman’s reading of this particular saga would be: What’s the fuss? It seemed to have stemmed from an unclearly worded NEA note that “the Hawkers Association will make the necessary arrangements with their contractors on the scaffold erection/ dismantling during the spring cleaning period from March 4-8″.

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AHPETC-NEA Stand-Off: What’s Really Going On? (Part 3)

Alright! So, what really happened between the AHPETC, NEA and now, our dear Vivian? I had tried to be amicable in the first two articles but things have gotten out of hand. So let it rip! Below is the chronological order of what has happened thus far.

Please note that this infographics pertain only to the food centre at Block 538, as the issues for Block 511 are different. Note the smoke bombs that were thrown too.

You can read Part 1 of the article here and Part 2 here.

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Hawker centre issue a "distraction": Dr Balakrishnan

In his statement, Dr Balakrishnan also called the hawkers "honest, hardworking people just trying to make a living".

There was no reason to charge them more for cleaning the ceiling, he said, and no reason to disrupt their business.

He added: "The hawkers have been consistent and truthful throughout this entire episode. Either (AHPETC vice-chairman) Mr Pritam Singh or the hawkers are telling the truth. It is obvious that the hawkers are speaking the truth."

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While NEA is busy playing politics, Singapore reports second death from dengue

SINGAPORE, June 9 (Xinhua) -- A 60-year-old man died of dengue fever in Singapore on Sunday, the second dengue death reported so far this year in the city state. 

The man went to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital on Wednesday with fever, shortness of breath, vomiting and rash on his left leg. He was diagnosed with skin inflammation of the left leg and prescribed with antibiotics. He was also told to return to the polyclinic for a repeat blood test, the Ministry of Health and the Environment Agency said in a joint statement. Full story
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Politically Motivated Public Bodies

The war of words is starting to degenerate into a kopi-tiam brawl. In the old days, we are told, cups will be turned upside down, the signal for the gangsters to begin battle.

Gutter politician Vivian Balakrishnan challenged, "Either Pritam Singh or the hawkers are telling the truth. It is obvious that the hawkers are speaking the truth." Notice the round about way of accusing Mr Singh, a public figure, of lying, a clear case of libel.

Flashback to May 2011, the last general election. We were testing the low light capability of a friend's new digital SLR, and wanted to check how efficient the built-in denoising algorithm was. PAP rallies are seldom well attended, despite the bussed-in supporters and free packet meals thrown in for good measure, Sure enough, the Clementi crowd was thin enough for us to get close to the stage for some shots. At any opposition party rally, one would have to turn up a couple of hours early to get a similar vantage point.

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In his latest statement, Dr Balakrishnan described the hawkers as “honest, hardworking people just trying to make a living” and that there was “no reason” to charge them more for cleaning the ceiling and disrupt their business. 

“The hawkers have been consistent and truthful throughout this entire episode. Either Pritam Singh or the hawkers are telling the truth. It is obvious that the hawkers are speaking the truth,” he said.

Meanwhile, while NEA and Balakrishnan continue to be busy “battling” with AHPETC over the cleaning saga as to who was right or wrong, more people are dying from dengue. Yesterday, a second person died from dengue fever at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. What do you think?

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AHPETC proposes dialogue over hawker issue as row continues

The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) has invited the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan to a dialogue with the MPs in the council to “settle any outstanding matters”.

Its vice-chairman, Workers’ Party MP Pritam Singh, made this invitation at the end of   statement on Monday evening, continuing the ongoing argument between the Government and AHPETC over the cleaning of hawker centres in Aljunied GRC.

Mr Singh sought to rebut suggestions made on Sunday that he had been untruthful over the matter of whether hawkers had been asked to pay extra for the ceiling of the hawker centres to be cleaned. National Environment Agency (NEA) has said that hawkers in Block 538 and 511 have been asked to pay more. Mr Singh stressed that AHPETC had made no such request

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Minister's comments on AHPETC-NEA spat uncalled for: Pritam Singh

In a statement on Monday, Mr Singh said he has been truthful in communicating the town council's position on the issue, and that there is no reason to doubt the honesty of its staff.

He said that the town council has been consistent in its attitude, and is always prepared to cooperate with government agencies for the benefit of residents. He added that the minister should not mistake this to mean that the town council can be "bullied or is an easy target to be used by the government to score political points".

Mr Singh said the town council is ready to have a dialogue with the minister, should he wish so. 

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