Wednesday, April 03, 2013

A brief marriage of Sembawang--Nee Soon Town Council

In less than two years, Sembawang—Nee Soon married and divorced. I mean, the town councils of these two GRCs merged and split, suspiciously, as the merger took off not that long ago in May 2011 [Here].

Understandably, time and manpower were involved in the process. Was there even any thinking process involved when the idea was first floated before being implemented at such scale and with such deliberation, specifically right after GE 2011 and yet, allows this “marital bliss” to last for a brief period of 22 months?

Yes, apparently there was.

According to Vikram Nair, “The main benefit would be economies of scale, which can lead to cost savings. A large town council would have more bargaining power in relation to subcontractors and can spread out fixed overheads over a larger scale. Also, as mentioned above, disruption to residents would be minimised because SNTC is essentially serving the same areas it previously served.” [Here] And so on and so forth for the reasons.

Which is not entirely disputable.  

However, the “divorce” noticeably occurred after a string of unfavourable post-GE 2011 political events/incidents for the regime, such as the losses of Hougang BE and Punggol East BE, AIM saga and the bull-dozing of the population paper etc. It would be difficult not to translate the marriage and the unfortunate divorce as deliberate political moves, to ensure the political survival of the regime.

It is the only reason for the regime to pursue at all costs and speed and a reason that suffices for the regime to flip from a cost-saving merger of two large GRCs in less than 2 years. The change of mind indicates the impact of the unexpected post-GE events have compelled them to necessitate a change of the initial course. 

The short-lived merger of the once largest town council is a suspected move for the GE 2016 and some how complementing the political strategy of the population white paper. Importing newly-minted citizens already enhances its political longevity over the next few years, however, there must be other strategies in place to secure a sure-victory.

Another unsettling thing that arises from the divorce of the town councils is the mention of “rapid expansion”. It sends immediate chills down my spine in our hot climate.

What kind of "expansion" are they implying? So much so that its scale and pace would outpace the benefits of economies of scale? Does that translate into importing a tsunami wave of foreign/new residents into these estates at such a “rapid” pace and scale that would cripple even the largest combined town council? And shockingly, an expansion of such pace and scale to be expected in less than 2 years after its merger is an implication of either the lack of foresight or that this “rapid expansion” is the easiest respond to the string of unfortunate political events that may shudder the once solid ground for the regime. 

Whatever the motive behind the split of Sembawang—Nee Soon is, it is certainly not meant for the interest of the people.