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AHPETC Festive Trade Fair Fine: A Case of Cherry-Picking?

Call it the Christmas Eve discount. Yesterday, the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) was fined $800 for allegedly holding a festive trade fair without a permit, instead of the maximum $1,000.

District Judge Victor Yeo ruled that Section 35 of the Environmental Public Health Act created a strict liability offence, and therefore Section 18 of the Town Councils Act did not obviate the need for the town council to obtain a permit. Sounds remarkably like cherry picking the laws of the land to suit the flow of the tide. Second guessing the sentiments of the dominant political party in force, he speculated that it could not have been Parliament’s intention for town councils to be exempted from the licensing laws of the land. Why not put the question to Parliament.

Gloating on its Pyrrhic victory, the National Environment Agency (NEA) quickly made the statement: “NEA requires temporary fair operators to have a licence to ensure that public health concerns and disamenities arising from temporary fairs such as food hygiene, waste management and noise nuisance are addressed.”

The same NEA seems to be oblivious to the “public health concerns” and “food hygiene, waste management and noise nuisance” at Bukit Batok, where rats squeak and stray dogs bark. And they ain’t exactly singing “Silent Night, Holy Night”. Apparently Channel NewsAsia did telephone them for a comment, and was told the area concerned was state land under the jurisdiction of the Housing and Development Board (HDB). HDB said to wait for their statement on the ratfinks.

Recall how Lee Hsien Loong narrated the story of the fishball stick problem faced by Mayor of South West District Low Yen Ying. Ms Low found that a slope on the left of the walkway is overseen by the National Environment Agency (NEA). In the middle, is a park connector under supervision of NParks, while the pavement close to the road is the responsibility of LTA. In his infinite wisdom, Lee assigned Grace Fu the pao-ka-liao role of intermediary for the various government agencies practising tai-chi. After announcing her new Municipal Services Office (MSO) was open for business on 1 October, the disgraceful Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office has gone the way of Desmond Lee, quiet as a mouse.

No wonder the district judge didn’t bother to take it all the way to Parliament House. Nobody seems to listen to the Prime Minister these days.

This commentary was written by Tattler.
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