Straits Times: WP chief rebuts Mah’s remark on fund access

OPPOSITION MP Low Thia Khiang has disputed National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan’s statement on a fund that can be used to improve estates in a constituency.

Mr Low, the MP for Hougang and the Workers’ Party leader, said that while the funds have always been available, they were for potential People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates and not elected opposition MPs.

He was referring to the Community Improvement Projects Committee (CIPC) funds, which Mr Mah said on Friday have always been there for opposition MPs to make use of.

“This is factually incorrect and misleading,” said Mr Low in a statement he issued over the weekend as chair-man of Hougang’s Town Council.

He cited two examples to support his charge.

In September 1995, the Hougang Town Council made an application to the Hougang Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC) for CIPC funding to install illuminated carpark direction signs.

“Contrary to Mr Mah’s statement, the funds that were ‘always there’ were not made available to the town council, as no support was given for the town council’s proposal by the adviser to the CCC,” said Mr Low.

“Instead, the CCC itself submitted an application to the HDB about two weeks later in October 1995 for a similar project.”

As a result, his town council’s application to HDB, the landowner, was held in abeyance by the HDB, said Mr Low.

It was only in September 1997, after the CCC withdrew its application, that the HDB gave the town council the go-ahead for the signs, he said.

“No CIPC funds were given for the project.”

The CIPC, which reports to the National Development Minister, gives funds for minor improvements to estates.

However, access to the money is possible only through the CCC, a grassroots organisation whose adviser is always a PAP representative.

The other case was in 1991, when Mr Low was first elected. The CCC withdrew its application to build a covered walkway from a bus stop to the nearest block in the ward.

“The Hougang Town Council later completed the project without any CIPC funding,” he said.

“Thus, the correct statement should be that ‘the CIPC funds had always been there for the potential PAP candidate in opposition wards to make use of’,” he added.

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