WP welcomes grassroots' bid to secure govt funds for wards

File photo of Workers’ Party MP Sylvia Lim.

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party (WP)  welcomed the rare move, by grassroots bodies in the three constituencies under its charge, to get government funds for 17 estate improvement projects on Tuesday.

Said Ms Sylvia Lim, chairman of the town council (TC) that runs Aljunied GRC, Hougang and Punggol East: "We welcome the intended submission of the projects for approval, and look forward to providing the TC's professional input on the projects for the benefit of our residents."

Her response comes a day after the Citizens Consultative Committees (CCCs) of the three constituencies said they will ask the National Development Ministry to let them draw on funds from the CIPC, or Community Improvement Projects Committee, for the projects.

The CIPC funds have been a point of contention in opposition wards as the ministry disburses the money to town councils through the CCCs, which are grassroots bodies under the People's Association (PA).

The adviser to these grassroots bodies, usually the People's Action Party electoral candidate, has to apply for the grant.

This process has led to friction in the past when opposition MPs accused these advisers of denying them use of the CIPC funds.

But in the latest move, the CCCs said they had consulted the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) before finalising the list of 17 projects. These include covered walkways, barrier-free access and fitness corners.

Asked how many of the 17 were AHPETC's ideas, Mr Sim Wai Chin, chairman of Eunos CCC, said it had "exclusively suggested" six. Eunos is a ward in Aljunied GRC.

On Tuesday, Ms Lim said AHPETC vice-chairman Pritam Singh, the MP for Eunos ward, had been liaising with PA grassroots in his ward since 2012 on possible CIPC projects.

Late last year, CCC representatives gave the town council a list of their proposals as AHPETC "needed to confirm that the projects were feasible for TC to maintain and would not become a financial burden to the TC in the future", she added.

AHPETC gave the CCC its own project list.

Mr Sim said AHPETC proposed 52 of the 90 projects the CCCs collated.

To whittle down the list, the CCCs focused on providing new facilities, with an eye on the cost of building and maintenance and benefit to residents.

They did not support proposals that "verged on maintenance in nature", such as upgrading existing bicycle racks and providing block number signs.

Of the final 17, nine are in Aljunied GRC, five in Punggol East and three in Hougang, he said.

The possible injection of CIPC funds follows national upgrading schemes announced in WP wards since the 2011 General Election.

Asked if the CIPC move marks a shift in PAP strategy, Mr Ong Ye Kung, a former PAP candidate and grassroots adviser for Aljunied GRC, said: "As community volunteers, the grassroots leaders did what makes most sense for the benefit of residents. That should be the priority."

andreao@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Rachel Chang


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