Elections are regularly held in a democracy. In these times, it is not just the duty of the public service to ensure that political parties participate fairly. Voters also have a role to play by providing feedback to the public service. This is one such example of what an ordinary voter can do.
LETTER SENT TO CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT BOARD ON 29 APRIL 2011
I am a resident of Jurong. I attended a political rally by the Singapore Democratic Party at Jurong East Stadium. I had initially intended to walk over to Jurong East Stadium from my place, which would take me about twenty-five minutes. Instead, I decided to car-pool because I was late for the rally and I felt a little unwell.
I knew that there were ample parking lots available. A relative, who arrived there earlier, also confirmed this.
When I arrived, I was told I could not enter the car park as the lots were unavailable. I then parked at a relative’s place some ten minutes walk away.
FOLLOW-UP MEASURES TAKEN TO UNDERSTAND SITUATION
I walked over to the stadium only to realise that there were ample spaces available. I was furious. I approached the public servant on duty there, who appeared to be managing the car park. He identified himself as Mr Lee Seng Huat, and he confirmed to me that the Housing and Development Board was responsible for the car park.
At the outset, I must commend Mr Lee for behaving politely and professionally. In this process, he also managed to calm me down.
I asked him why attendees of the rally were not being allowed to park at the car park. He told me the spaces were reserved for season parking holders. I pointed to the sign board at the entrance of the car park.
I told him that there was nothing on the sign-board that said this was the case. In fact, the sign said otherwise, that is members of the public could use the car park.
I then asked Mr Lee if HDB had looked into how many season parking holders there were and how many spaces were available for all others. He said HDB had done so. I told him to give me the most recent figures at that time, based on the cars that had arrived at the car park. He could give me no answer.
I sensed Mr Lee was unprepared for such questions but it is due to no fault of his. As he is an elderly gentleman, I urge you to look into some training for Mr Lee to better manage such queries.
ACCOUNTABILITY OF HDB
Then, I informed him that I would be writing to you as you were ultimately accountable for this situation. He agreed and encouraged me to do so. (I think he was probably relieved too! With the benefit of hindsight, I also think I was wrong since it is really Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan, who has ultimate accountability for this situation.)
I cannot believe that this is a situation that has never arisen before. The stadium has been there for a while now. Events are regularly held at the stadium. Parking would have been an issue before. Yet, this appears to have been glossed over by the HDB.
The police must have identified and selected this venue some time back. It is reasonable to expect that the HDB would have been consulted on this. If parking was going to be such a grave concern, HDB should have highlighted this to the police so that the police and HDB could work together on making available alternative parking spaces.
Incidents such as these do not do justice to the incumbent People’s Action Party responsible for that area. In the heat of hustings, allegations that the PAP has discriminated against attendees of the rally can easily follow - as much as I accept it would not have been the intention of the PAP to do so.
In these sensitive times, the public service has a prime duty to be whiter than white and maintain, on a best efforts basis, a level playing field between the political parties.
You also have a secondary duty to ensure that members of the public can arrive hassle-free at such venues and, in doing so, facilitate their eventual choice on Polling Day.
As a result of this whole situation, I am now running a fever. I could have avoided this if I had been allowed to park at the car park. I decided to write to you, while the incident is still fresh in my mind.
WHAT HDB CAN DO
I hope that corrective and preventive measures will be taken to address this situation.
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