Sunday, September 25, 2005

Why is law not equally applied to Town Councils and government agencies when their areas are found breeding mosquitoes?

To: Feedback Unit - MCYS

cc: Dr Yaacob Ibrahim - Minister for the Environment and Water Resources

Extract of letter published in Straits Times online forum, 23 Sept 2005 by Mr Henry C W Suriya (in Red below or visit link,,5562,342368,00.html )
listing problem areas in Singapore's fight against dengue and suggested improvements.

However, one big area seems to have been "glossed over": Town Councils.

Why is there double standard in law enforcement - NEA fines households and construction sites who breed mosquitoes but not areas under Town Councils' management (and other government agencies)? If this anomaly is not addressed, Singapore will never be able to control the breeding of mosquitoes because town councils (who are responsible for a big chunk of the public areas in Singapore) and other government agencies can get away scot-free without punishment when found breeding mosquitoes - NEA should apply the law equally to all, including government agencies like NParks, SLA state land, MOE's schools, PUB, town councils, etc..., not just private residents and corporations whose properties are found breeding mosquitoes.

Town Councils collect conservancy fees from residents (which are quite substantial), and such fees should be used prudently to maintain their areas.


Sept 23, 2005
Change mindsets first to lick dengue problem

The Government has expressed concern about the increase in dengue transmission but this has yet to result in efficient control programmes.
There must be a heightened awareness and full public participation in vector control and preventative efforts. This can only be achieved through constant training, health education, community and intersectoral participation.

Every school, polytechnic, university, government and statutory board must form its own dengue prevention groups.
The Dengue Prevention Volunteer Group of Aljunied-Kembangan Zone 2 (RC) was formed in November 1999. Since then, we had met obstacles created by an insipid Residents' Committee administration.
The RC has failed to realign itself to meet the changing needs of its residents. Creativity is viewed as dissent. This makes it difficult for subordinates to contribute ideas or develop plans.
Notice boards can serve as a focal point for the dissemination of information. This, when well displayed, will attract people's attention.
I wrote to the Town Council some time ago requesting one for environmental purposes, especially on dengue.
I thought the common areas under void decks were managed by the Aljunied Town Council but was I mistaken. It told me to contact the Peoples' Association, which is the controlling body. I did just that but to my disappointment, I did not get a reply.
The National Environment Agency was willing to provide us with very artistic and educational materials whenever I needed them. In fact, it has given us solid support in our efforts to spread the dengue awareness message. A great partnership is in place.
Aljunied-Kembangan Zone 2 has more than thirty notice boards, some half empty, others empty. Yet, I had to face such a dilemma. So much for cooperation and coordination!
During one of our Senior Citizens' monthly gatherings, our dengue-prevention group arranged with the NEA to give a talk on dengue awareness.
Officials from the People's Association and the Constituency Office thought it to be a value-added event. An additional $50 was approved for the RC to dispense refreshment. The turnout was more than eighty people.
This was turned down by the RC at the last minute, leaving some residents without refreshments. Even a walkabout with our advisor was aborted at short notice. No reason was given.
It is ironic that money spent for dinner after an MP's walkabout is never questioned. I hope the PA could tell the RC what exactly is the vision and mission of the Residents' Committee.
I imagine a basic ingredient of good leadership is to communicate and motivate. After all, we are just volunteers trying to promote neighbourliness, harmony and cohesiveness among the residents of our zone.
The only consolation our dengue-prevention group has is knowing that Lorong Ah Soo Zone 2 is not listed on the dengue hot spot list.
Our constant surveillance and willingness to engage residents have provided some results. We shall continue to cultivate the best network to garner people's support in making our estate clean, green and dengue-free.
To meet the challenges ahead, the following areas have to be closely monitored:
- Power stations which are locked and fenced up;
- Vacant state land: a horrendous mosquito breeding site;
- Bamboo pole-holders in HDB estates;
- Landscaping: avoid plants with large leaf axils;
- Grass cutters who blow cut grass into drains and clogging them up;
- Vacant HDB flats and private properties: house owners and housing agents must do their part to maintain them;
- Litter;
- Fogging: how competent are the pest control operators? Indiscriminate fogging by untrained personnel endangers the environment and residents.
- Insecticides: resistance in mosquito population;
- Increased movement of human population within and between countries;
- Zones within constituencies: in many instances, a street demarcates them. If one zone is napping, it causes problems for others as mosquitoes are found within 25 metres of their breeding sites.
- Everyone must be able to identify the Aedes mosquitoes, with their black and white stripes on the body and legs.
Unless there is a behavioral change at the individual, household and community levels, the dengue situation may not improve.
The maxim should be 'Detect and destroy - No mosquito, no dengue'.

Henry C W Suriya
DPVG Team Leader
Aljunied-Kembangan Zone 2


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