The dispute between the AHPETC and NEA over the cleaning of Hawker Centres has been a huge exercise of political mud-slinging. Details which have just recently surfaced, however, indicate that the whole attack may have been initiated from the PAP side, at the grassroots level.
Workers’ Party claims that it is the victim of politicking (AHPETC: NEA Is Politically Motivated To Tarnish the Image of AHPETC), while NEA, backed by the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, insist that WP is wrongly pushing the blame over the issue. (See NEA Blames WP for Not Paying Contractors to Clean Hawker Centres and Dr Balakrishnan: WP is Lying over the Hawker Centre Issue).
Is WP the victim of politicking or is WP just avoiding the blame for their mismanagement of cleaning costs?
In an attempt to provide clarification and ‘clear the air’, NEA released several documents related to the case (NEA Releases Doncuments in AHPETC Case) on June 9.
One of the documents released were ‘Petition letters submitted to the media on 3 June 2013 by the hawkers of Blocks 511 and 538 reflecting the consistent position taken by the hawkers throughout this incident.’
But how does this serve any proof? Why are there no names and signatures in both “petitions”? If you present such evidence in the Court of Law it will be thrown out right away!
The other interesting document was the quotation: It was seen that ATL, the maintenance contractor, had provided a quotation to the Market Association for both the scaffolding and cleaning of ceilings:
This quotation was used by the NEA to ‘prove’ that the AHPETC had charged the hawkers for the cleaning costs even though there was no proof that the towncouncil had ordered the quotation. Upon closer inspection, its seen that the quotation was addressed to a Mr Ng Kok Khim and indicated that Mr Ng had ordered the quotation.
This fact was also highlighted by AHPETC (AHPETC Refutes NEA Allegations): “NEA should know that ATL is an independent commercial company free to provide quotations to any party that requests it. It was the Market Association of Blk 538 Market that requested the quotation, as confirmed by ATL’s media release on 6 June 2013.”
“Attributing the quotation to AHPETC is misleading and politically motivated to tarnish the reputation of AHPETC.”
Despite WP clarifying the issue on many occasions, the quotation ordered by Mr Ng Kok Khim has continually been used by NEA to ‘prove’ that the towncouncil had attempted to charge the hawkers for the cleaning.
So who is this Mr Ng Kok Khim?
Some cyber CSI revealed that he is actually a PAP member and Grassroots Leader. He is a long-time PAP member who was commended in 2011 with a ‘Long Service Medal (Silver)’ [Link]:
Mr Ng Kok Khim is also a representative of the Market Association, which explains why he would be in a position to ask for a quotation from ATL. It is also odd that the address the quotation was sent to, Unit #01-651, is actually in the next block; Block 539. The unit is a shop called “B G Garment Department Store” which some of the local hawkers have indicated is linked to Mr Ng Kok Khim.
So why is the quotation ordered by Mr Ng, a PAP Grassroots member not associated in anyway with the WP towncouncil, being used to ‘prove’ that AHPETC was the one that had billed Hawkers for the cleaning process?
It is still unknown who exactly had told the Hawkers that they would have to pay for the cleaning services, but it is possible that Mr Ng may have used this quotation to mislead hawkers in an attempt to make them unsatisfied with the WP towncouncil. An attempt that clearly worked as evident from an e-mail TRS received from one of the Hawkers in the affected blocks a few weeks ago:
“I am angry and we will do petition tomorrow. I angry last time with everything going up and want to change MP but now have to pay more. All is the same, we citizen will suffer.”
It appears that political attacks can be mounted, successfully too, from the ground. This just goes to show how far reaching the PAP control really is. Even members of your community could be working indirectly for the PAP to ensure that support for the opposition is squashed.
By The Real Singapore