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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

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Reply please

Here are some responses needed from the following agencies from a reading of ST, which is chockfull of good grassroots stuff today, including good letters:

a. I have been following the issue of the HDB “optional extras’’ with some interest; where it offers security doors, elderly-friendly amenities as a package to those who buy its flats. The complaint is that the HDB approved/endorsed packages seem more expensive than those offered elsewhere.
Predictably, the response from the HDB in the Forum pages is about adhering to rules and how the process is transparent and above-board. Also, that it doesn’t make a profit.
I doubt that that was what people had in mind – that the HDB was profiteering. It’s just that we have a certain belief in our G agencies: that it would protect the interest of the public, because members are too lazy to check out other offers.
I would have expected the HDB to say that it would review all these packages by its contractors and examine whether it had secured the best – and cheapest – deals for members of the public. I don’t think anyone should expect that the HDB to provide first class stuff on the cheap. But they can expect that they would get the basic stuff – cheaply. If the HDB isn’t offering the basic and cheap version, then it should opt out of offering this service, and leave buyers to source their own deals.

b. We’ve been waiting to hear what NUS would do with Alvin Tan, the law student who put up pornographic pictures of himself and his girl. All we know is that he has been “disciplined’’ but we don’t know how.
Why so coy? Didn’t NUS make public its decision on the Sun Xu case in March? The undergraduate scholarship holder from China who made derogatory comments about Singapore, was fined S$3,000, reprimanded and ordered to perform three months of community service before he was allowed to graduate.
Both cases have attracted plenty of public attraction and I would love to hear how the NUS ruled on what is appropriate punishment for inappropriate behaviour. Is it worried that there would be more public attention if it made its punishment public? The NUS board should be more confident about making its position known and standing by it. I mean, Alvin Tan isn’t some shy boy who shys away from the spotlight…

c. Meals on Wheels may make a comeback it seems. And the troubles that had been visited on the failed scheme in the past have been trotted out. Too many rules: when to operate, where to operate and what to sell. Strange that a concept which had started out in the US as catering to construction workers in the night became a breakfast thing in the morning and only at designated places in Singapore. Don’t know why it is named Meals on Wheels when the vehicle is stationary!
Predictably, there are calls for subsidy. Sigh. Well, if I am going to be tied down by inconvenient rules that affect my business, I would ask for a subsidy too. Might it not be better to let private enterprise have a go at it with some basic licensing rules on food safety and public convenience and enter the picture later to deal with problems that might arise? It’s untidy I know. But is there really a big public risk?
Anyway, there is a last operator standing from the old scheme in Kallang. I wonder how he’s doing.

d. More eyes will be on us with the plan to plant CCTVs everywhere. The motive is to deter crime. What I found puzzling: The pilot project in Sembawang hasn’t shown any discernible “rise or fall’’ in crime, so its own MP says. Sheesh! If the rate rises, that would really be something…but since it hasn’t fallen anyway, wouldn’t the pilot project be considered to have failed? I mean, that’s what a “pilot’’ project is for right?
Predictably, there are the “right’’ responses on how CCTVs make residents feel safer and how good a tool it is after a crime is committed. Only one person raised the issue of privacy. I am back to an old point: so we now have the Data Protection Act that regulates the private sector but exempts the public sector. As I recall, the G said there was no need to include its own agencies, because it has stringent rules, and in some cases, even more stringent than the legislation. It’s about time we know what these rules are no?

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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