In yet another sign of increasing poverty among Singaporeans, the number of households charged for not paying town council service and conservancy charges (SNCC) have more than doubled in 3 years, from 2,494 cases in 2015 to 6,335 in 2017.
The astonishing poverty prompted the presiding judge of the State Courts, Justice See Kee Oon, to mandate that town councils must negotiate and engage with the residents first before starting criminal proceeding. There will need to have two notices: the first to invite to pay via instalments, and the second notice will have to be served personally. Town Councils, with PAP Town Councils being the chief culprits, will then be allowed to serve a court letter. The move is to prevent wastage of court resources resulting from the Town Councils being “trigger-happy”.
The Judge announced yesterday (Mar 9) that the new protocols will take effect next month:
“These offences are generally not serious regulatory offences given that they involve low moral culpability and low measure of harm to society, and are punishable with fines only.”
PAP MP Lim Biow Chuan however lamented the protocols “takes much time and resources” and defended the PAP Town Councils:
“It takes much time and manpower resources to serve three reminder letters and to get property managers to visit residents’ homes to better understand the issue. Taking residents to court is only done when there is no choice, ultimately, the town council still has an obligation to collect the charges for a common pooled fund that is used for estate maintenance. We can’t have people who don’t pay and we do nothing… Just like a management corporation, we owe it as a duty to other people who are paying.”