Written by Ng E-Jay
25 April 2011
This is the first of a two-part series on Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports. This series will contend that Dr Balakrishnan has failed as a minister and as a politician, and as such, is not deserving of political office.
The mission statement of MCYS as stated on their website is to “build a cohesive and resilient nation that can overcome challenges together“.
Dr Balakrishnan has failed to uphold the mission of MCYS since he was appointed Minister in April 2005. His failure to care for the poor and underprivileged, and his inept administration of the Youth Olympic Games, are but two very glaring examples
In August 2008, Dr Lily Neo, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, spoke up vociferously for the poor in Parliament.
She asked Dr Vivian Balakrishnan whether his ministry is monitoring how lower-income households are affected by inflation and stagnant wages, whether the available assistance is lessening their difficulties, and whether there will be other measures to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
Dr Balakrishnan did not even care to respond to her, relegating the task instead to Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports.
Mrs Yu-Foo did a poor job, merely listing the different assistance schemes available. This was hardly sufficient for Dr Lily Neo, who stopped the Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi from proceeding to the next question by waving her papers frantically. (A full report of the event can be found here.)
Before that episode, Dr Balakrishnan had famously remarked (in 2007), “How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?“, in response to Dr Lily Neo’s persist calls for the government to increase public assistance handouts given the rising cost of living.
Again, just this year, Dr Lily Neo urged Dr Balakrishnan in Parliament to provide a permanent and constructive safety net so as to improve the plight of the children from the lowest income families.
Yet in his reply, Dr Balakrishnan only chose to highlight the various existing schemes that are already in place which Dr Lily Neo rightly pointed out had not worked.
Dr Balakrishnan also affirmed that there is no need for any kind of permanent, unconditional social safety net for the needy. (See Dr Wong Wee Nam’s article on this.)
In April 2010, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan criticized alternative media channels (such as TOC) for selective reporting of the plight of the homeless in Singapore, when in reality it is actually the government that has taken a reactive approach to dealing with the homeless situation, as opposed to a proactive approach. (Click here for a full article on the sophistry and intellectual dishonesty on the part of the PAP government concerning the homeless in Singapore.)
The epic failure of the Youth Olympic Games in 2010 to unite Singaporeans in a bond of camaraderie can be traced to its inept administration under Dr Balakrishnan. (A full report on why there was such great apathy towards the YOG can be found here.)
Under Dr Balakrishnan, the original budget for the YOG tripled to over $400 million. The PAP, which has accused the opposition of trying to raid the reserves, conveniently ignores this blatant raid on its own budget.
In addition, Dr Balakrishnan failed to give full accountability for the food poisoning incident which affected YOG volunteers, and it is not known whether any of them were adequately compensated for this gross negligence. (Click here for more details on YOG fiascoes and failures.)
Dr Balakrishnan’s performance as a Minister since he took office 6 years ago has been mediocre, lackluster, and incompetent. He should be voted out of office as he has failed.