The Straits Times report last Tuesday (30 Dec 14) sparked an outcry from young couples who are looking forward to their new BTO flats which are scheduled to T.O.P in third quarter 2015.
Australian funeral services company Life Corporation won a tender in July 2014 to build a Chinese temple with an integrated columbarium directly next to these new batch of BTO flats.
These young couples are upset that HDB did not inform them upfront that a columbarium will be squarely next to their new flats. To this, HDB replied that they had informed buyers though printed fine print in the BTO project brochure that the land parcel besides the project may be used to develop places of worship which may include a columarium.
The PAP MP for Sengkang West SMC Dr Lam Pin Min who is in charge of the area where this BTO project is located has responded on Facebook and called for a dialogue session between Life Corporation and the residents involved but the outcome does not seem fruitful. Dr Lam is also the Minister of State for Health.
This issue will have have political ramifications for PAP. HDB website indicated that this BTO project Fernvale Lea was available for application in 2012, six months after General Elections 2011 when Dr Lam was voted into parliament with a 58.11% win over Workers Party candidate Koh Choong Yong.
Fernvale Lea is scheduled to T.O.P in third quarter 2015, way before the next General Elections is going to be held. These unhappy young couples who will be re-registered as new voters in that SMC will bear grudges against Dr Lam’s for his unwillingness to stand on their side & HDB’s perceived craftiness which could result in a vote swing against PAP unless the Elections Department decided to redraw the boundaries of Sengkang West SMC by merging it with a neighbouring GRC.
This is the time for Dr Lam to show his new voters that he is on their side. But what are his options? I doubt he is able to twist HDB & URA to reverse the decision since a legit tender was awarded to Life Corp.
The Workers’ Party should make use of these opportunity to build rapport with these affected residents to raise its own chances of capturing Sengkang West SMC. However, opposition politicians must be mindful that they are unable to promise anything to these residents as well unless they could find issues with the tender which was awarded to Life Corp.