Should We Upgrade Propaganda Towers?

Singapore has the Lift Upgrading Programme and the Hawker Upgrading Programme. Why not a Noticeboard Upgrading Programme?, asked Mr Seng Han Thong (Ang Mo Kio GRC).

People are not looking at their flats' noticeboards for longer messages, he said in a speech about improving communication between the Government and citizens on Friday.

Instead, more are looking at their smartphone's small screen for shorter ones.

But this does not mean the big screen is not effective. Just look at Suntec City's big screen, he said. "It is colourful and with short, moving messages."

A "Noticeboard Upgrading Programme" in the same vein of electronic screens would help improve communications, and promote constructive politics, he said.

Apparently the government were looking to meliorate communication between citizens and themselves which seemed lacking in recent times. It looked like Mr Seng Han Thong was arrowed selected to take this ... burning issue on and one of his solutions was to upgrade the noticeboards at the void decks of every HDB flat. He deemed the current ones ineffective and reckoned a electronic screen in place of the traditional pin-up model would be a fitting solution.

Let's make this clear, I'm all for brainstorming, lest anyone accuses me of stifling creativity. Unfortunately there is a line that divides genius and asininity. Before I go into noticeboard upgrading, let's spend a few moments to consider arguably successful upgrading programs such as the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP). The LUP was introduced as an General Election carrot in 2006. The first projects took place in early 2007 and went full fledge the following year. The programme also served as an unintended but timely stimulant to the ailing construction industry in late 2008, after a major financial crisis which crippled global economies, including Singapore's. Though each household had to pay a few thousand dollars for their lift upgrade, citizens responded generally well towards to the programme because they could see the direct impact to their lives.

The above example illustrated two points. For every meaningful introduction of a physical change in our heartlands, the people who foot the bill must be the same people who benefit from it. In fact, the PAP sneakily took a bite of the benefits of the LUP programme by scoring a landslide victory in the GE, considering it was the people who paid the majority of the costs for their own benefits. I supposed that was that people term as a 'win-win situation'. At the subsequent GE, the PAP proposed chaining the entire island up with covered linkways. Again, it was accepted by the electorate though seemingly less enthusiastic than before. Perhaps a small section of Singaporeans slowly realised that holding up an umbrella would suffice and felt a little uneasy over the question of whether spending premium costs for a luxury like that could be justified. Like the previous upgrading programme, the people paid for it but the actually benefits seemed diminishing.

By 2010, the PAP showed some signs of desperation as they were running out of ideas for impact upgrades. They began a carpark upgrading scheme to cover up the open level at the top of multi-story carparks (MCP). I supposed the authorities decided the costs could be recovered by charging car park users sheltered car park rates for that level, never mind that might require decades to do so. My hunch is that the several MCPs will probably be demolished and rebuilt before they could even recover their full cost, on the basis of how often they do such things to perfectly functioning bus stops, road railings or whatever they could get their hands on.

The next GE is looming. There will always be upgrading plans on the horizon, dangling as sweet carrots to the remaining unsuspecting Singaporeans. Let's hope Mr Seng's uninspiring noticeboard upgrading is not going to be earmarked as the core upgrading strategy. Interestingly, Mr Seng likened Suntec City's big screen as 'effective' because it is "colourful and with short, moving messages." He reckoned a mini model in place of the 'retro' ones we have now would promote 'constructive politics' by improving communications. From what I was taught in school, communication is an activity of exchanging or sharing of ideas, feelings or intentions. However I'm not entirely surprised that the government deems communication as a one-way dissemination of information. As far as I'm concerned, I regard communication of this quality as propaganda and the proposed noticeboards with their suggested functions are simply going to be propaganda towers.

I hope I'm wrong. Perhaps they'll make an interactive noticeboard where citizens can flick the touch screen after they pick their noses and enable us to enter our own views and thus, 'improving communication.' If such functions are not available, would I be arrested for vandalism if I paste a post-it note saying, 'No!' on the new noticeboard because it does not come with a receptacle to listen, akin other 'communication channels' of the government? I believe many would like their voices head but have no intention of joining 17 years old Ah Bengs and 71 years old Ah Gong in the Hall of Fame.

1 comment:

  1. Electronic noticeboard => more electricity usage by Town Council => need to pay more Town Council fees. Who benefits? (h)