20111119 PAP shot itself in the foot, compliments of its ‘grassroots leaders’

From: phillip ang
Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 12:52 PM
To: v_bala ; LEE_HSIEN_LOONG
Cc: jjauto ; andrew ; aslav009 ; bok koh ; <a title="jayakumar89 ; ken_dxb ; Lay Cher ; <a title="cue_liew ; news ; newseditor ; ongqyqy ; stanley93896999 ; stlocal ; theonlinecitizen toc
Subject: 20111119 PAP shot itself in the foot, compliments of its ‘grassroots leaders’

Dear PM Lee

I refer to my email dated 18th Nov and I hope this email explains how the PAP had shot itself in the foot – compliments of its ‘grassroots leaders’. Although this incident happened 2 years ago, I am revisiting this issue in order for the government to realise what is happening on the ground.

2 The attachment is my email to then MCYS minister Vivian Balakrishnan in 2009. My feedback (complaint) of abuse (‘serious misallocation’) of public resources and ‘volunteer politics’ affecting the table tennis interest group at Elias CC was trivialised by Vivian Balakrishnan when he simply forwarded to the subject of my feedback ie. the CC/MC.

3 As the CC managers were subservient to the MC, how did Vivian expect the MC to be held accountable? Are Singaporeans idiots? (If the government only wants to listen to its ‘grassroots leaders’/civil servants instead of conducting an impartial investigation, please do not ask Singaporeans for feedback anymore. There are other instances which I will highlight in other emails)

4 The government is, of course, not aware that a few years of effort by volunteer resident, Steven Liew, went down the drain abruptly – at a ‘prize presentation’ ceremony, he informed all the participants that he ceased to be a volunteer with immediate effect. After what an unsupportive and vindictive MC (chained up table tennis tables, reducing from 6 to 2 tables under the pretext of safety) had done, what does one expect? Subsequently, the MC attempted to form another table tennis interest group. **

5 The MC also killed off volunteerism and the likely reason is such a ‘success’ cannot be attributed to a volunteer but only ‘grassroots leaders’. By doing so, it had created resentment among residents who are now unlikely to provide future support for any government initiatives. Is this not the PAP shooting itself in the foot? (it seems every participant knew grassroots politics killed our interest group, except the government)

6 To summarise my attached email:

a How did the MC manage to reserve 2 badminton courts for ‘grassroots leaders’ during ‘prime time’ when there was already insufficient space for 30 table tennis participants?
b Why did the managers at the CC allow the MC to subject 30 table tennis participants to one badminton court when only a handful of ‘grassroots leaders’ were allocated 2 badminton courts at the expense of taxpayers?
c Subsequently, not a single ‘grasssroots leader’ turning up, leaving both courts empty.
d Who was responsible?
e Why was no one accountable?

Inconvenient questions without answers.

7 The incident has long passed and I am not requesting for a reply to the above questions. I am hoping that a changed government will listen to residents in order to understand what is really happening on the ground instead of only its ‘grassroots leaders’. (In this case, when the conduct of its ‘volunteers’ is detrimental to residents, investigate and acknowledge feedback to assure residents that ‘grassroots leaders’ do not have priority over residents for public resources at our CCs)

8 The government should be aware that ‘grassroots leaders’ are resented for their ability to kill off volunteerism (effectively an interest group) without accountability and placing its self interest above residents’ with regard to limited public resources.

Thank you.


Phillip Ang


Problems are very seldom highlighted to the government because the government has never engaged Singaporeans. Frequently, it ‘arrows’ to the source of the problem and creates more frustration. You can never know what is happening on the ground by simply listening only to our muted ‘grassroots’. As in this case, unhappy residents simply kept quiet and moved on.

With support from the CC, Steven Liew could have easily filled up the entire hall with participants. Steven is owed an apology and should the PA decide to seek his assistance, it is advisable that support comes directly from the PA. The decision is entirely his.

Example of a table tennis interest group at Tampines Sports Hall on Monday and Friday 11am to 2 pm, Wednesday 10am to 12pm. No grassroots politics to spoil the fun.

**The MC sent a couple of students to train as table tennis coaches in the hope of emulating what Steven had done, especially coaching the children. It was not aware that maturity and passion could never be replaced. Just weeks after training started for a handful of children, volunteers and the coaches did not turn up en masse on 3 Nov 2011. Parents who brought their children the following week were still in the dark.

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