Monday, 19 March 2007

Pain Plus Progress

Last Friday's edition of TODAY carried a story about the upgrading of HDB flats. It reported on how HDB's ongoing Project Life (Lift Improvement and Facilities Enhancement for the Elderly) programme to upgrade one-room rental flats (which is A Very Good Thing) has resulted in some of the tenants having to sleep in the corridors and common areas (which is self-evidently A Very Bad Thing).

If you have ever been through or seen what happens during an upgrading exercise, you will understand why that happens. If a man's home is his castle, then upgrading represents a temporary invasion and occupation of that castle by well-meaning, benevolent invaders.

Your flat becomes a huge mess, with plastic sheets and tarpaulins draped all over your stuff, workers trampling all over the place, and dust and dirt all over the floor. You lose the part of your flat that is being worked upon. And when it's a one-room flat, that basically means you lose your flat. So I'm not surprised that some of the tenants preferred to sleep in the corridor.

There were two things in this article that really hit home for me. The first was the quote by Mr Chan Sai Meng, about HDB's response to his request for the unused rental flats to be opened up for temporary use, that it was "too tough" administratively. The civil service might have a No Wrong Door policy, but it's pointless when the right door opens directly into a brick wall.

The second thing was Mr Chan's parting shot at the end of the article, and his last two sentences really, really affected me:
You must have a solution before this programme starts... The Government said (to) progress together with the people. I don’t want to progress if it is so painful and without dignity. You go ahead.

The next Parliamentary sitting is on 9 April 2007. I am going to file a PQ on this. It is not acceptable.


Pkchukiss said...

When my friend's flat was to be upgraded a few years back, his family was given a temporary flat to live in while they did up his house.

That's why I am quite surprised to see that this is something that is not done uniformly to all flats that are going for upgrading.

Who is responsible for this gesture: the HDB, town council, contractor, or...?

Phua Teck said...

Yes, please do bring up also the fact that the 1994(?) formula for minister's is not supported by many many people - only the 70 odd PAP MPs, supported by whip. Talks about the Gini effect is ignored, and we have Dr Vivian being paid millions, but refuses to pay $400 to the seniors - and he is the miniter in charge.

family man said...

it will be interesting to see if any of the PAP guys find this pay increase revolting in the next parliament meeting, or are they herded in by the whip. Personally, if at $300,000, the pay is not enough, we should wise up to the fact that these young 30 year olds should serve the private sector - (if they have the guts in the first place - those who want to go, would have gone and broken their bond). What a self serving excuse for PM Lee and the ministers to increase their own pay.

Recruit Ong said...

The PM has never spent a day in private sector, yet he wants top pte sector pay. Tsk tsk tsk