Straits Times: MP to ask Govt for $100m for Hougang

Application for upgrading package to go ahead despite what minister said, says Low

By Ken Kwek

HOUGANG MP Low Thia Khiang is going to ask the Ministry of National Development (MND) for the $100 million upgrading package for his ward that the People’s Action Party had announced during the general election.

The Workers’ Party chief told The Straits Times last night that he will do so, despite National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan’s recent statement that opposition wards will get funds for upgrading only after PAP constituencies had received theirs.

Mr Low said: “It doesn’t matter what the minister has said, I will apply for the funds anyway.”

After the election, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong had said that although Hougang voters had not voted in the PAP candidate, Mr Low could still try and apply for the money as the Government had been “prepared to put up a budget for it”.

But Mr Mah said last week that the money would not be made available for the opposition ward.

Mr Low yesterday said he had met Mr Mah on May 30 at the swearing-in ceremony for the new Cabinet, and had asked the minister for the $100 million upgrading fund that Hougang residents were promised by the PAP.

He declined to disclose Mr Mah’s response, saying it was “a private conversation”.

But he added: “The Government will just have to decide what is the right thing to do. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said he wants to build a more inclusive society, right?

“On my part, I’ll do whatever is necessary to fight for my residents’ needs, and apply for the funds.”

Mr Low said he had “given instructions” to his town council staff to prepare the necessary paperwork for making the application.

But he would not be seeking funds through the Community Improvement Projects Committee (CIPC), as the application process for such funds had always been ‘skewed against the opposition’.

“I think it’s pointless going through that avenue,” he said.

Constituencies that want CIPC funds for estate upgrading can apply for them only through their grassroots advisers, who are always PAP representatives. No CIPC funds have been used for opposition wards so far.

Mr Low added that he was sure the MND had the budget “since they promised Hougang voters before Polling Day that $100 million could be set aside for upgrading their estate”.

He added that he believed many Singaporeans did not support the votes-for-upgrading policy because they considered it unfair.

“I’ve always believed that Singaporeans have a sense of justice in their hearts, and are able to make fair judgment on issues,” he said.

“The question is whether the PAP is willing to accept this, and trust the people’s judgment.”

Mr Eric Low, the PAP candidate who failed to win Hougang, declined to comment when contacted yesterday.

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