Straits Times, 9 August 2006
Mah: Chiam should focus on residents
by Tan Hui Yee
National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan yesterday accused Mr Chiam See Tong of raising "petty, non-relevant issue " instead of getting down to work to serve his Potong Pasir residents.
he made the comments in response to an ongoing public dispute between Mr Chiam and his defeated People's Action Party opponent, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, over a set of damaged solar lights in the opposition wards.
The lights were installed on government land leased to Mr Sitoh, who is the PAP's grassroot adviser in the ward. The lights were vandalised recently but Mr Sitoh said he had to return the land to the Government, while the opposition MP said the are a where the lights are does not come under the jurisidction of his town council.
Said Mr Mah yesterday: "At this point in time, it is important for the elcted respresentatives, whether it is PAP or the opposition, to get on with the job of serviing their residents.
"The PAP MPs have already started work to draw up plans to fulfil the promises they made during the election. I think the opposition MPs should do likewise and stop playing games. "
Mr Mah was speaking after attending a National Day observance ceremony in the Botanic Gardens.
Mr Sitoh declined to repair the lights as he said the land's lease will run out on Oct 31.
Mr Chiam told Shin Min Daily News earlier this week he wanted to find out the terms of the lease agreement for the land, which he believed may include certain conditions like maintaining the lights.
However, the HDB has declined to reveal the terms of the lease, saying it is private information between the board and Potong Pasir Citizens' Consultative Committee, which Mr Sitoh advises.
Yesterday, Mr Mah accused Mr Chiam of "trying to divert attention from the real issue " .
"The main issue is this is a problem in the constituency.... the Member of Parliament should try to solve the problem as quickly and as efficiently as possible, " he said.
Mr Chiam is now seeking to lease the land to build a covered walkway for residents.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Lim Boon Heng, told reporters at a separate event yesterday: "In Potong Pasir, you cannot have your cake and eat it. You've decided on Chiam See Tong, so he should solve your problems. You have rejected Sitoh, so don't expect him therefore to continue serving you.
"For all he has done, you have rejected him and you wanted Chiam See Tong. You've got a problem, then you go to Chiam See Tong."
Not for the first time, the opposition MPs are being cast in a bad light by the ruling party.
This may appear to be a storm in a teacup but there are far greater implications. Firstly, the facts in this case was that the footpath does not come under the jurisdiction of Chiam and his counterpart, Sitoh is holding on to the lease until Oct this year.
Since the PAP like to do everything in a "law-by-law" manner, naturally Sitoh should repair the solar lights which was incidentally, also installed by him and without the knowledge of Chiam's town council.
Yet Mah Bow Tan chose to accuse Chiam of diverting attention from the real issue and not "serving" his people and solving problems like what the rest of the good PAP MPs have done in their own constituencies. In typical PAP style, another heavyweight, Lim Boon Heng also joined in the fray and bully the opposition into submission. His message was more threatening though when he mentioned that the people who chose the oppositions deserved whatever problems they are getting and they should look for these candidates. Don't expect the PAP to solve your problems, period.
This is very petty politics the PAP are playing and if the characters of our leaders are as such (regardless of how capable they are), they do not deserve our respect.
Actually, by exposing this matter through the press and subsequently making an application to the URA to build a covered walkway on this piece of land, Chiam is doing his best for his residents with scarce resources and severe constraints (uncooperative bureaucrats).
Mr Mah should be more of a gentleman and don't twist the facts. This only make him stand out as a sore loser (he was the PAP candidate who lost out to Chiam in Potong Pasir and resulted in Potong Pasir being the longest held opposition ward). Come on lah, the people aren't stupid and can think for themselves. Don't insult the intelligence of us heartlanders, okay...