When questioned if the S$1 billion tax-funded government agency People’s Association (PA) is politicised, Minister of State Chan Chun Sing unwittingly admitted that the PA does the political work of the ruling party government:
“In executing their duties, all government statutory boards are serving to fulfill the functions of the elected government of the day. As a statutory board, the PA’s mission is to promote social cohesion and racial harmony, as well as to connect people with the government. Through its community bonding programmes, PA also explains and gathers feedback on government policies to ensure a responsive and responsible government. For instance, grassroots advisors, who are appointed by the government, have a role in explaining difficult and sometimes unpopular policies that are necessary to the future of Singapore, such as the impending goods and services tax hike and foreign manpower policies. When the government appoints people to help it outreach, sense the ground, respond to the ground… These are all part and parcel of government function.”
The Opposition Workers’ Party then questioned the Minister why is the grassroots advisor in the Opposition wards always a PAP branch chairman or prospective election candidate from PAP. WP MP Muhamad Faisal Manap pointed out that there is conflict of interests and element of politicising:
“Isn’t there a conflict of interest or element of politicising in a situation where a grassroots advisor, who is also a political party branch chairman, invites residents to go for his unofficial Meet-the-People session at the branch office? Letters written on behalf of residents in such instances bear the name of the political party on the letterhead.”
Minister Chan Chun Sing then deflected the question saying residents are free to approach anyone to write letters addressing government agencies:
“If residents do not want to see their MP in an Opposition ward as their first resort, they are at liberty to choose to visit the PAP branch and get the letter signed by the PAP branch chairman, even though it is not their elected MP. When agencies receive the letter, they will know who is the MP that represents the resident… And they will give the matter due consideration.”
WP MP Pritam Singh then questioned the Minister why are the Community Development Centres, a government statutory board, not working with the Opposition Aljunied Town Council. Minister Chan Chun Sing feigned ignorance and told the MP to approach the CDC instead.