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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

SM Goh Chok Tong: We're victims of our own success

SM Goh Chok Tong urges Singaporeans to put carpark, housing woes in perspective and think of the poor.

Singaporeans who complain about crowded trains, the lack of carpark spaces and public housing should think of the poor who struggle to make a living, said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday.

Urging Singaporeans to put these challenges 'into perspective with the overall needs of our society', he noted that there are still the poor and disabled who need help.

He said: 'It is important that we do not complain too much when we can't get the house that we want, we can't get the carpark that we want, when the MRT trains are a little crowded.

'We are in fact quite fortunate. These are problems created by our own success. There are many people who are not able to benefit from our overall success. Just remember them as we also try to solve our problems at the top end.'

Mr Goh was speaking on the fringe of the 10th anniversary celebration of Ramadhan On-Wheels (ROW), organised by Malay voluntary welfare group 4PM.

He was giving his take on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech last Sunday.

Mr Lee touched on hot-button issues like the shortage of public housing, the large influx of foreigners and public transport congestion.

'The PM was addressing the problems created by our success moving very quickly from the Third World to the First World,' said Mr Goh.

'In a sense, we are victims of our own success.'

He pointed to parking woes in HDB estates as an example of such a problem. Because Singaporeans are more well-off now, many families own two cars, he said.

'If you can own two cars, you are not really poor,' he added.

Inadequate space for car parking in HDB estates is an issue that has been debated in Parliament and in newspaper and online forums.

Mr Goh added that these complaints are surfacing at the 'top end' even as there are many people at the other end of the spectrum who are not able to benefit from Singapore's progress.

They include the elderly, and low-income and dysfunctional families, some of whom turned up yesterday at the ROW event at ITE College East in Simei.

Mr Goh highlighted the plight of two families, both beneficiaries of 4PM's outreach efforts.

One of them is an elderly Chinese couple in their 70s, who are on public assistance. Four of their eight children are estranged from them, while the remaining four who are still living with the couple are seeking treatment for mental illness.

'It's important for those who are facing the problems of success like inadequate carparks or housing at the top end to think of those who are struggling to make a living every day,' he said.

Since its inception in 2001, 4PM has helped some 1,200 needy families from various racial backgrounds.

4PM's volunteers collect provisions like food, second-hand computers and electrical appliances from corporate donors and deliver them to needy homes.

More than 1,100 volunteers signed up to deliver provisions and clean the homes of needy families this year.

An interesting tweet going around #smgohsaysdontcomplaintoomuch.

SM: We're victims of our own success [via]

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