TL;DR – Still waters run deep.
PAP’s candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election, Mr Murali Pillai, announced his manifesto at a media conference on the eve of nomination day. It focuses on jobs, social mobility and caring for the elderly. The plans Mr Murali intends to implement should he be elected include a job replacement programme and a new health cooperative.
The job replacement programme will tap on the network of volunteers in Bukit Batok to help the unemployed find a new job faster. The health cooperative will be run by doctors and nurses. It will help make it cheaper for families to buy consumables, such as milk feeds, catheters and vitamin supplements. The cooperative will also teach the elderly about medical issues to help them stay healthy.
DPM Tharman was also at the media conference.
He said some things which we thought had some hidden messages. This is what we thought DPM Tharman really meant when he said the following three things.
What DPM Tharman said:
“I like the fact that the SDP’s bringing in some new volunteers. But we’ve got something going here, a very strong volunteer base.”
What we think he meant: “SDP volunteers are noobs”
We think that DPM Tharman is trying to say that SDP volunteers are inexperienced in organising large scale programmes that go on for many years. For instance, one of SDP’s volunteers for the social programs that SDP announced, Wong Hwee Lin had only been volunteering with SDP for a year.
This is in contrast with the army of volunteers that PAP have, many of whom have been active for many years. Mr Murali himself has been serving in Bukit Batok for over 16 years in various capacities. In that time, he had already successfully set up programs that benefitted Bukit Batok residents. For example, as early as 15 years ago, Mr Murali had already set up a legal clinic (which is one of the social programs proposed by SDP) in Bukit Batok. He had also used his experience and work contacts to raise funds for bursary awards he had set up in Bukit Batok.
And as we all know, ideas are cheap. Implementation is key. If your volunteers and activists are noobs, you aren’t going to get anywhere, no matter how cool sounding your ideas may be. So what DPM Tharman really meant to say was that it would be wiser to trust the team with the volunteers who have the experience and been shown to be able to implement things well. But according to the poll that we are running here, it seems that more people trust SDP to be better able to implement social programmes (26 for SDP vs 15 for PAP)
What DPM Tharman said:
“The SDP is not new to Bukit Batok… They have actually had time to know the constituency, to listen to people, consult people and have some idea of the plans that they could develop, or even have plans that are already developed. But if they need more time, just say so… There’s no need to begrudge the PAP for having already done its work in consulting residents and making plans”
What we think he meant: “SDP is S-L-O-W”
PAP didn’t pull the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) proposals that Mr Murali spoke about out of thin air. They came as a result of a series of consultations with Bukit Batok residents. Those proposals ARE what Bukit Batok residents want. But it seems like SDP doesn’t know that.
Which is strange. Because SDP has supposedly been walking the ground in Bukit Batok since before GE2015. That means that they’ve been there for about nine months or so. If they had been talking to residents and really listening to what they have said, shouldn’t they already know what sort of improvements Bukit Batok residents want? Then how come still say need time to consult before coming up with a plan?
The only logical conclusion is that SDP is S-L-O-W lor…
What DPM Tharman said:
“(Jurong-Clementi Town Council has a) decent track record of implementing NRPs and all our upgrading programmes”
What we think he meant: “We don’t know if SDP is able to implement NRP or upgrading projects”
Yes… SDP has announced that it would set up a Town Council Transition Team should it win the by-election. The team comprises various people including Mr Yeo Yeu Yong, who seem to have extensive experience in facilities management. But managing facilities is very different from the large scale project management that would be involved in implementing the NRP proposals.
PAP’s Jurong-Clementi Town Council has proven itself. It has completed numerous NRP projects over the years. It also oversees seven divisions and thus enjoy economies of scale. It has an overview of all the needs of the seven divisions and is able to shift resources from other divisions to where the needs are greatest at any point of time.
And currently, it seems that the need in Bukit Batok is the greatest, so the resources it gets from Jurong-Clementi Town Council is disproportionately more than what the population in Bukit Batok entitles it to get. If SDP were to win, the newly formed Town Council would not benefit from such economies of scale.
Disclaimer: This is what WE think DPM Tharman had meant. Nope, it doesn’t mean that is actually what he had intended to mean. We can’t read minds (yet!)
(Cover image via CNA)