When the Singapore Democrats distributed our flyers informing residents at the Yuhua constituency about our Block Party which we held on 8 May 2012, we received an email from the the Jurong Town Council’s Public Relations Manager that the event was not allowed. (See letter below)
We were advised that residents are prohibited under the Town Council’s Rules and Regulations from gathering at void decks if the event is organised by a political party.
Given the circumstance, the Block Party was shifted to the food centre across from the venue.
SDP’s Head of Communications, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, had called the Town Council and, noting that the Rules and Regulations were not published on its website, asked for a copy so that the party could be certain of such a policy.
The Town Council officer agreed to follow up. However, he did not respond to the request despite numerous phone calls.
In the telephone conversation, Dr Wijeysingha had asked the Public Relations Manager if the prohibition extended to the PAP too. “I’m not able to comment on that,” he replied.
Dr Wijeysingha then suggested that this illustrated precisely where the problem lay: If the Town Council does not publish its Rules and Regulations, its officers are vulnerable to the accusation that public amenities are run in the interests of the PAP rather than the community as a whole. The officer confirmed that he had never actually seen a copy of the Rules and Regulations.
The following Monday, Dr Wijeysingha emailed the Town Council’s General Manager, Mr Ho Thian Poh (photo, above), to seek clarification and to request a copy of the Rules and Regulations. He has yet to reply. The SDP understands that Mr Ho is a member of the PAP and Branch Secretary of its Bukit Batok Branch.
The Members of Parliament for Yuhua, Ms Grace Fu, and Jurong GRC, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Mr David Ong, Mr Ang Wei Neng, Mr Desmong Lee Ti-Seng and Mdm Halimah Yacob, who is Minister of State for Community Development, were copied into email queries but did not respond.
Jurong Town Council is no stranger to controversy. Last year, following the General Elections, it sacked without compensation an officer, allegedly for ‘poor performance’, who had volunteered with the National Solidarity Party.
Mr Irwan Sahrul,
Head of Community Services
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)
Jurong Town Council receives feedback from residents that the SDP is holding a Residents’ Gathering on Friday, 18 May 2012 from 7.45 pm to 9 pm at the void deck of Blk 258 Jurong East Street 24.
We only allow the use of of common areas in the HDB estates for community activities organised by the grassroots organisations, but not those by political parties.
Hence, we wish to inform the SDP that your party is not allowed to use the void deck of Blk 258 Jurong East Street 24 for Residents’ Gathering.
We seek your co-operation to abide by our Town Council’s Rules & Regulations on the use of common areas.
Public Relations Manager
Jurong Town Council