20120911 Statutory boards, town councils need overhaul

From: phillip ang
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 1:12 AM
To: CIVIL SERVICE HEAD ; <a title="teo_chee_hean ; PSD ; <a title="ago_email ; LEE LTA ; <a title="andrew_tan ; NEA CHAIRWOMAN ; <a title="cheng_chwee_yap ; PUB CEO ; <a title="tan_nguan_sen ; TC GM TAMPINES ; <a title="tc_gm ; TC GM MOULMEIN KALLANG ; <a title="snair ; HDB CEO
Cc: CHARLES CHONG ; <a title="showmao.chen ; DAVID ONG ; <a title="tharman_s ; EDWIN TONG ; <a title="faisal ; GAN KIM YONG ; <a title="gan_thiam_poh ; HAWASI ; <a title="heng_chee_how ; HENG SWEE KEAT ; <a title="inderjit ; JANIL PUTHUCHEARY ; <a title="yishyan ; LILY NEO ; <a title="lui_tuck_yew ; MALIKI OSMAN ; <a title="masagos_zulkifli ; MICHAEL PALMER ; <a title="enghuat.png ; PRITAM ; <a title="sam_tan ; VIVIAN B ; <a title="bga336 ; bokkoh ; choonhock ; cue_liew ; jaya kumar ; <a title="jjauto ; ken_dxb ; lchertan ; news ; newseditor ; ngys ; nicole.rebecca.seah ; ongqyqy ; stanley93896999 ; stlocal ; sylvia ; zblocal ; toc ; <a title="khawbw ; INT AUD NEA ; <a title="lawrence_fong ; LTA CHAIRMAN ; <a title="gptan ; LEE_HSIEN_LOONG ; CHAN CHUN SING ; <a title="gerald.giam ; MND PERM SEC ; <a title="yong_ying-i ; SHANMUGAM
Subject: 20120911 Statutory boards, town councils need overhaul

Dear CEOs and Directors

I refer to my email to PM Lee, “ 20120807 Public service 21 – a sorry state”, as well as other recent feedback. **

As CEOs and directors, many of you simply do not know what is really happening on the ground. Brazen acts of irresponsibility are self evident and have indeed become the norm.

It is my experience that politely requesting for change through feedback, either in the press or directly to government agencies, will probably take an eternity.

The clearest example would be the HDB and Town Councils’ failure to address decades-old problems. The government should cease condoning the use of ‘educational approaches’ – an all time favourite and probably cheapest method ie using posters – as these have repeatedly failed. MPs are just as guilty of shortchanging us, heartlanders, as they are influential members of a TC.

For the benefit of those who are unaware of the issues I have raised, I will repeat them in this email. The LTA has not been maintaining most of its public structures for years but has instead allowed them to be vandalised or double up as bicycle racks. After a series of unprecedented floodings, the PUB still does not have a proper maintenance regime of checks for the drainage system. What’s even worse, the NEA has created issues for the PUB by not clearing thousands of choked drainage inlets, many for months/years, etc.

The common thread running through various government agencies is one of a ‘bochap’ attitude and PS 21 appears to be an illusion. The number of photos attached in my emails prove that this is not an opinion but a fact. Your own survey should also have confirmed my feedback to be factual.

(administrative agencies such as CPF Board, ICA and many others do not seem to have a similar issue)

Problems of yesteryear should not be kicked further down the road for your successors. Attitudes of Singaporeans, shaped by the passiveness of the civil service, may become extremely difficult to change in future e.g. extremely bad driving habits, cycling along crowded linkways, inconsiderate behavior of HDB residents etc. Archaic policies and procedures must be reviewed and managers must conduct visual/random checks on contractors.

Some of your replies, or silence, also indicate that my feedback has been taken lightly. Perhaps you are not accustomed to dealing with general feedback, which requires systemic changes and much more work than specific ones, which require only one-off efforts. It is exasperating for feedback providers to repeatedly highlight the same issue.

It is more annoying when I have stated my observations to be island wide and be asked to provide specific locations, together with request for more feedback. Doing so reflects a total ignorance on your part, a reluctance to look at the issue objectively and is an invitation for more ‘convincing feedback’.

I have now decided to accede to this request and will be as specific as possible.

Before I go on, here’s a new example on how slack the PUB continues to be. (there are many more)

Some parts of this drain along along Tanjong Katong Road (between Paya Lebar Mrt Stn and City Plaza) have collapsed. (not yesterday)

Drains with stagnant water become breeding grounds for mosquitoes eventually.

Smaller adjacent drains have clearly not been maintained for months, with rainwater flow backwards i.e. into the ground under the road or….

into the ground under the drain.

Unmaintained, collapsed drains really serves no purpose.

The other issue is derelict bicycles which is not just confined to LTA, NParks and TCs. Thousands of derelict bicycles chained to public structures for years is confirmation that civil servants have not discharged their basic responsibilities. The photo below confirms PUB officers (civil servants) have never been in the vicinity for years.

2 bicycles stripped of useable parts and PUB will not remove them without feedback. Perhaps PUB’s stand is that there is no obstruction caused to pedestrians, similar to LTA’s?

A common and consistent feature of railings, such as these below, is paint spillage, usually along the entire length of railing.

Good quality paint is normally used but not all the time. Or maybe we should just blame it on the weather. Again.

Did contractor run out of paint or was PUB trying out a new shade of green?

PUB should survey all its assets and find out how such ‘consistent errors’ come about and review its organisational structure to ensure that it has a proper maintenance regime for ALL its assets.

This includes fire hydrants, one being used as a bicycle rack.

‘Secured’ by cable ties, this was highlighted in my email dated 7 August. PUB has definitely not been anywhere near this arterial road since about 2 months ago.

Since feedback is always required, the location is indicated below.

Shoddy paint job is not just the norm for the PUB but LTA as well. All over the island, our roads and road curbs have this unique ‘dripping paint’ feature.

Signs on the road are also deforming and may start to confuse motorists, e.g. below a ‘leftover’ arrow sign .

A 30/70 yellow white line not taught in Driving Theory classes. Another work of an uncertain painter? Or simply confused?

There are hundreds of these examples.

Your knee jerk reaction would be to brush off/trivialise my feedback but please be patient as you will be convinced of the need to change after my subsequent feedback.

Because change is unlikely to come from within the civil service itself, my email has been copied to a number of MPs with the hope that some might share a similar view. The civil service has been unchecked for too long and without ‘external assistance’, it will certainly head towards decadence.

It is my responsibility as a Singaporean to highlight this to the government. I fully understand it is an uphill task for a nobody like me to even attempt engaging the government at the highest level. But if it takes thousands of photos and hundreds of feedback to convince the government, so be it.

Don’t manufacture excuses, trivialise issues and expect miracles

One of many common problems in HDB living is dripping laundry and even such a small problem, if you choose to call it, has yet to be resolved jointly by HDB/TCs. It is an insult to HDB residents to put up posters on void deck notice boards and expect a miracle. The onus has yet to be placed on the ‘offender’ to cease such an inconsiderate act.

It’s not that we, public flat dwellers, have no issues but when the government (HDB, TCs) refuse to act, most of us really cannot do much. Many have been forced to permanently hang their laundry indoors to avoid confrontation with unreasonable neighbours. Unresolved problems are being compounded by the huge influx of foreigners.

Lower floor units forced to hang laundry permanently indoors – is this the solution?

TCs’ seriousness on the issue of derelict bicycles means:

(below) All, except four, are derelict bicycles. Does having an autonomous status also mean a TC GM could refuse to act despite repeated feedback to the PMO?

Appearance can be deceiving as this is more of a junkyard. (taken on 10 Sep)

Statutory boards cannot continue to play politics with estate management and I am not talking about only one or two issues.

There is much that the HDB and TCs could do to improve the living conditions of heartlanders but have yet to do so.

Singapore is really a “Little Red Dot”

No civil service has it so good as ours, which is hardly criticised in the press and even if so, it still has the last say in its replies! Singaporeans who are providing feedback for the betterment of society are exasperated when the authorities gloss over issues staring at us in the face. It does not help when politicians are divorced from the reality of the man in the street.

As an island of less than 800 sq km, the area assigned to any civil servant (officer) should not have been an issue. But more often than not, there appears to be hardly anyone on the ground in many parts of Singapore. The PUB/NEA has no excuse for not visually inspecting thousands of drainage inlets which form part of our 7000 km drainage system.

With 100 to 150 officers on the ground, a PUB officer covers a length of 70 km or less. Assuming that an officer walks/cycles to conduct a visual inspection daily, every inlet would have been visually inspected within a month. (3.5 km/day times 20 days)

But even with assistance from NEA officers, thousands of drainage inlets have remained choked, many for years! (subsequent emails)

Neither should LTA officers not have observed shoddy paint job and poor maintenance of most our 3400 km of roads or thousands of vandalised structures.


Since you still require more convincing to take meaningful action, it leaves me with no choice but to have all my observations photographed.

Hopefully, I am not required to cover every corner of Singapore before you become convinced.

Civil servants have become so spoilt by our feedback system that without public feedback on the obvious, little gets done. The Head of Civil Service has to put an immediate stop to this nonsense.

I suggest you look into resolving systemic issues within instead of implementing stopgap measures or perpetually blaming contractors. Maintaining the status quo is really not an option as it also means shortchanging taxpayers and heartlanders.

Thank you.


Phillip Ang


20120904 Re: RE:*ENF: Illegal advertisments and bicycles – Tampines-Feedback Number : 20120814-0337

20120904 Re: 20120823 NEA, government contractors

20120626 HDB – managing website or estate?

20120617 Re: 20120611 Vandalism – LTA’s double standard

20120611 Vandalism – LTA’s double standard

20120529 Town Councils’ systemic problems not addressed

20120501 PUB must not delay proper maintenance of drainage system

20120423 Public transportation breakdowns – who is in charge

20120308 PUB – throwing money down the drain (1)

20120329 PUB – throwing money down the drain (2)

20120214 Irresponsibility of LTA causes Illegally parked bicycle problem

20120126 HDB – blurring irresponsibility into creativity

1 Flooding – First World country, Third World drainage system/mindset?

This entry was posted in EMAIL TO PM LEE/MINISTERS/GOVT. Bookmark the permalink.

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