by Tan Chu Chze
POOR Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) – it seems someone has painted their town red. Town council members must be seeing red. Or maybe feeling red in the cheeks.
The recent Town Council Report by the Ministry of National Development (MND) has placed them in the “red” band (no, not Red Hot Chili Peppers) for service and conservancy charges (S&CC) arrears management and corporate governance.
But how do we interpret the red banding? While most MSM accounts of the Town Council Report stick to the slightly more objective label of ‘banding’, some reports make suggestions of more negative meanings of ‘red’.
For example, TODAY notes the “red band” to be like a red flag – or in other words, an issue that requires urgent attention. On the other hand, AsiaOne went with “red marks”, as if the report were a test which AHPETC had done poorly in.
Any emphasis on these notions might make AHPETC seem incompetent and failing.
It probably doesn’t help that AHPETC carries with itself a fair bit of red baggage. Earlier this year, it was found to be in the red. AHPETC’s defence was that it had difficulty hiring a managing agent, so it had to pay higher fees. To make matters redder, Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat suggested their reasoning was a red herring.
So far, AHPETC has not been caught red-handed, but it is clear from the Town Council Report that their struggle is real.
Perhaps it helps to see ‘red’ from the perspective of the Town Council Report itself: The colours of the other bands are amber and green – resembling traffic control. In light of this, AHPETC’s red band signals a “stop” – perhaps as a subtle nudge in a different direction.
This frames the town council’s responsibilities as a journey – and not an exam. AHPETC’s “red band” performance is then more akin to a bump in the road rather than the end of it. That is, if AHPETC bucks up.
Or maybe all this red is simply a Red Sea of red tape to be parted? Regardless, it is clear that AHPETC has a number of things to work on.
Wishing its council members lots of Red Bull for many red eye nights to come.
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