Q&A with Lim Biow Chuan

Posted on 15 April 2011

New Nation speaks with the incumbent MP for Mountbatten SMC.

Mountbatten has recently been carved up into an SMC, from a GRC. Do you think that contesting in an SMC is to your disadvantage?

I don’t think it’s an advantage or disadvantage. It was carved up on the requirement that we should have 12 single member constituencies. And based on the population profile, the boundary review committee decided that this would be best as a single member constituency.

Do you think it’s disadvantageous that you have to contest on your own now, instead of riding on SM’s coattails?

I think there’s always security when you’re contesting in a GRC. Nevertheless, every MP that I know are prepared to go single member if they’re called upon to do so. Again, I don’t see the issue of it being an advantage or disadvantage.

Put it this way, SM Goh has reputational advantage, and you don’t have that this time. Do you think this puts you at a significant disadvantage?

I wouldn’t see it that way. At the end of the day, when we first came it, it certainly helped because there may not be a level of recognition. But having worked the ground for five years, I should be able to command the respect with or without Mr Goh. Even if we are part of the GRC, I would certainly be required to hold my weight, and not hold on him. Because if I still have to rely on SM Goh to pull up my votes, I think I would have failed. I wouldn’t have done my work as an MP covering this area.

What advantage do you think you have against Jeanette Chong Aruldoss from NSP?

Certainly there would be the advantage of being the incumbent. It has always been a surprise to me as to why the opposition would feel that they would only come to a constituency to work the ground just before the elections. I always felt that a serious opposition would be working the ground that they want to contest in, if they’re serious in it. And they should be here a few years ago.

Not necessarily Mountbatten but they should be working the ground around the entire area if they’re really interested in serving the community. I think being an MP is not just going to parliament to debate about issues. You must be able to have an impact of people’s lives. The question is how you want to impact peoples’ lives, how you want to make their lives better…

What do you think is the biggest impact you’ve had on the people of Mountbatten?

I think it’s really to help those who need help. There’s a segment of people from the lower income, people who have issues that they can’t solve. So together with the grassroots leaders we see what we can do to make a positive influence on their lives. Not everything they ask for we can solve for them. We try our best.

Am I right to say that the most pressing issue for you this coming elections is helping the lower income?

Not necessarily so. I think that the lower income has an inherent set of problems that you want to help them with. There are various aspects to being an MP, it’s not just doing one thing only…

How about this coming elections, what’s the most pressing issue you would ‘harp’ on?

I personally don’t think that there’s one particular issue area.

If you had to pick though?

I won’t ever run an election in that manner. At the end of the day you have to ask the residents, who do you want to be your representative to represent you not only in parliament but also to look after your estate, to make things work if things are not working. You want to make sure that someone is there, someone who is dependable, able to empathise with your situation and say “look, I want to help you”.

There are many types of residents though – lower, middle, higher income brackets. Which group do you think you appeal to the most?

My intent is to serve everyone. Everyone who feels “I have an issue”, they can come and see me I’ll do my best to help them. I have a large number of private estate dwellers and they do come and see me for their issues. Some of them complain that… “can you cover the drains in my estate”, “can you help chase the NEA to clean the drains up”, “can you sure that the litter is cleaned regularly”…

So are you saying that an MP is like an aggregator of complaints?

Not really so. That was in direct response to your question, “do you only cater to this group of people”. My answer is that we cater to everyone, who’s involved, who feels that they need a solution to their problem.

An MP is like a caretaker of the town, these are part and parcel of being an MP on the ground. And apart from that, you have to go to parliament to voice the people’s concerns….

Do you think the government is spending excessively at the moment?

No, I think they’re always prudent when they spend their money, because there’s this accountability and in the event they spend excessively, there would be several people who would look into it, who would take the government to task. This would be the MPs.

If you had to raise issue with the government right now, which issue would you target?

You have to see what’s the current issue of concern. I’ve raised issues about rental flats, because this is reflective of my constituency. I’ve raised issues about education, about transport. I’ve recently filed a question in parliament, about whether the government should consider building lifts and escalators and overhead bridges where there is a significantly larger number of elderly people. Because elderly people struggle to climb up. So could the government do something about it.

MPs also spend a lot of time talking to ministers. Some of it is behind the scenes, a lot of it are requests to speak to ministers. And a lot of times we don’t do a big song and dance about it. Because it is really work in progress all the time. I seldom want to say something and make a song and dance about it because that’s not necessarily the best way to solve a problem. You can always stand up, shout and scream and say “you must do this this this” but what is the reaction that you will stir up? If you put people on the defensive, my experience is that you will always get more difficult solutions to the answer.

But if you work with people to find a solution, it always turns out better that way. So a lot of times we work with the ministers to say “Look, how can we solve this problem”. And the ministers have, based on my five years there, always been receptive. If they feel that you have a concern that is valid, they would sit down with us, send down their civil servants to work with us, to look for solutions.

Q&A with Lim Biow ChuanQ&A with Jeanette Chong-AruldossMain story

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  • Mountbatten

    I would like to find out from Lim Biow Chuan why no lift upgrading provided to those rental flats in Mountbatten? These residents are old people and have been begging for lift on every floor as they can no longer climb up and down the stairs. Why after decades this group of people are not given priority? Do you see the physiological effects on this old people who are stuck in in flat because they can no longer climb the stairs to take the lift?

    • Pang Sua

      Cos the estates concerned are due for SERS

    • http://newnation.sg Shihan

      I found that meeting the MPs during the MPS was always the best way to feedback. He’ll be at the office above Old Airport Road hawker centre every Tuesday.

  • Mountbatten

    @ Shihan,

    Well, tried that, no respond, so lets go public with the request.

    @ Pang Sua, what SERS are you referring too? Rental flat, SERS? Pay more for new rental flats? Take them away from a place that they are very familiar with? Have you been to this flats? This are old folks who are in their 60 and above. You want to force them to be in a new environment? So that new flats can be build for younger Singaporeans? At the expense of this old people?

    • Pang Sua

      Exactly, this is what these people are in for. I feel bad for them, as much as you do.

  • corinne goh

    In my 11 yrs of staying in Costa Rhu condominium, only one visit by the MP which was last year. Many questions were raised about TALKS of building bridges , bus services etc which have remain just that -TALK

    Please tell me why i should vote for you. Yes you may be at the office every tuesday but how often do u make visits to residents, how frequent do u “patrol ” the constituent that you are working for.

    It is sad cos when i asked the Singaporeans staying near me if they knew the NAME of our MP, not one , not even i, knew. That is how invisible you are.

    I miss the PAP MPs of days gone by like Mr Rahim Ishak of Siglap constituency,Mr Joseph Conceicao of Joo Chiat constituency who made the effort of REACHING out to ppl instead of waiting for ppl to reach out to them.

    So am i going to give you my vote???? I need to consider very seriously.

  • MJ

    I leave in Haig Road for 23 years and i have never seen him before.

  • Singaporean

    This MP, I seldom see. Unlike, the Eugene Yap. From the Q & A, I did not sense any passion & conviction of him serving the voters. Just writing letters to the various govt departments with that kind of MP’s allowance, who cannot. Has he done much for Mountbatten, not that I can think of. I need an alternate voice. I’m glad, we voters at Mountbatten are finally given a chance to vote again.

  • ah bin

    I remembered few years back, there was a session with LTA – update on Circle Line progress and road diversion required (Part of Old Airport Road will be closed and traffic to be diverted to Guillimard Road). While the residents were debating with LTA representatives, the MP left quietly, leaving the residents to fend for themselves. Is that MP Lim Biow Chuan?

    • Something to consider

      You might be right.

  • Lee TH

    Hi Sir.

    I have been complaining to HDB and the Police about my neighbour’s dog consistent and very frequent barkings, almost every hour, as late as 11pm and as early as 4.30 am.

    And it was found out that the neighbour in fact kept more than the allowed quota of 1 dog per house hold.

    The reply I got from HDB was that they have already visited the neighbour and sent them letters. but so far nothing has been done to reduce the barking.

    do i have to live with the barkings and be awaken almost every morning at 5am ?

    regards
    Lee

  • Dennis

    Long traffic jam on weekdays along Mountbatten Road at 8:30am opposite Mountbatten Square and at 7pm outside Mountbatten Square. Affects both motirists and bus commuters. Please help