MPs paying $1 a day for HDB parking

From ‘Govt should walk the walk on clean wage policy’, 30 June 2018, ST Forum

(Sean Lim Wei Xin): The revelation of MPs enjoying underpriced parking fees has raised eyebrows as, ironically, it goes against the clean-wage policy preached by the Government itself (Elected MPs pay $365 a year for HDB parking; June 26).

The rationale that MPs “do not park overnight or full day at their constituencies” and at Parliament House does not justify the subsidised parking fees. Teachers also do not park overnight in schools, but they will be paying market rate parking fees soon (Parking fees for teachers to kick in from August; March 27).

Singaporeans usually pay $1.20 per hour at public carparks but MPs pay $365 for an annual permit. This boils down to about $1 for a day’s worth of parking at their constituencies or Parliament House.

Based on simple calculations, it appears that this fee is underpriced as $1 a day amounts to only 50 minutes of parking at a public carpark.

[…]The problem is not about whether free or subsidised parking is justified for anyone.

The issue of the “hidden perks” that teachers and soldiers gained through free parking should not have even been brought up in the first place as it is not significantly detrimental to Singapore’s economy.

But as it was raised and a can of worms has been opened, all eyes will be on the Government to reconcile the issue.

In 1985, Senior Perm Sec Lee Yiok Seng came ‘clean’ with the perks that MPs received: Free HDB parking, free telephone service and civil servants’ medical benefits. He also proudly declared that Singapore then had the ‘poorest MPs’ in the world in terms of perks.  Fast forward 30 years later and they’re among the highest paid, but somehow paying less for parking than nearly everyone else.

Perks used to an ugly reality that we’ve come to accept. Kings don’t pay taxes. Celebrities skip queues at clubs. Teachers used to park for free. Grassroots leaders get priority queues for Primary 1 registration. Your neighbour’s mother-in-law gets discounted fish from the wet market.

And what do we make out of all these special individuals getting VIP treatment? That life is unfair. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. We deal with it. After all, we have laws to draw the line between privilege and corruption. Human relations without entitlements, favours or reciprocation, material or intangible, is a communist haven where all your contributions and takings are tracked in real time and unearned extras are returned to the state for nation building.

Enter Ong Ye Kung and his call for everyone to ‘uphold the value of self-discipline’ when it comes to keeping your wage clean and void of any fiscal activity that would get the AGO’s panties in a knot. Yes, that includes you MPs. If a resident offers you bakchang during a Meet the People’s session, it is your moral duty to maintain your self-discipline and reject it outright, saying that you’re already getting parking at a ridiculous bargain and under no circumstances should you receive gifts or favours that would undermine the Govt’s internal system of checks and balances. In fact, if you really want to walk the talk, you should give up your car altogether and move with us towards a car-lite nation.

If the Govt has decided to play the petty penny-pincher, then they must be prepared for us, the electorate, to respond in kind. As a wise man once said: If you want nice chicken wings, you must be prepared to queue.

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