Waiting for agencies to act on Geylang

Waiting for agencies to act on Geylang
ROUNDS: Dr Fatimah Lateef (in front), MP for Marine Parade GRC, walking with grassroots members at Geylang Lorong 37. In an ongoing effort to combat seedy activities in Geylang, street lamps have been installed to light up the back alleys at Lorong 33 to 39.

SINGAPORE - Hundreds of hours of talk with little action from various authorities has left Marine Parade GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Fatimah Lateef frustrated.

But she has vowed to forge ahead and improve conditions at the rowdy red-light district - despite the red tape.

In a personal Facebook post on Monday, the MP wrote that despite the time and effort, there is still no "concrete action plan" to deal with the situation in Geylang.

The lengthy, strongly worded post highlighted "for the first time" her full efforts to clean up the area.

Associate Professor Fatimah said she patrols Geylang "at least twice a week or more if required" to sort out and solve "many issues".

She has been working with residents, grassroots volunteers and agencies like the Ministry of Manpower, Land Transport Authority, police and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Among the problems she "regularly" deals with: The high human traffic, littering, parking and safety issues.

But she is frustrated by the lack of a definitive plan.

"As an action-oriented person who expects results, I have indeed waited very long for higher authorities to effect the change I, my grassroots leaders and my residents want to see.

"Hundreds of hours (maybe more) of meeting police, anti-vice, agencies (multiple) and yet I am still waiting for their CONCRETE action plan (sic)."

She continued: "I have been waiting... Not just waiting but, waiting and DOING a lot of things within my capabilities as one person, one MP, one woman.

"I am still waiting for the relevant authorities to ACT in a major way, in a major clean-up... eight years of efforts and small positive changes already effected cannot go to waste and my perseverance will not dwindle (sic)."

Geylang returned to the spotlight after Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee said last week that he was more worried about the area than Little India, where a riot involving foreign workers took place last December.

Political observers who saw Prof Fatimah's post noted she sounded exasperated because of a lack of a concerted plan of action to manage the various issues that have long plagued Geylang.

Singapore Management University (SMU) associate law professor Eugene Tan told The New Paper: "The remarks by the police commissioner last week may have given the impression that she, as the MP, has not done enough to raise crime-control issues in Parliament and to the relevant agencies.

"As such, it's understandable that she feels the need to put it on record what she has been doing the past eight years, albeit on her personal Facebook page as opposed to her public page," added Prof Tan.

But this is a delicate matter, concedes the law academic, "because she would need to work with the various agencies".

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