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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

HDB blues

I happened to overhear a colleague talking about a problem with his house. When he hung up, I couldn't help but ask him what had happened.

He said that, for the past few days, he's noticed watermarks appearing on a wall just above his floor and running across the entire length of the wall. He tried fixing it himself, thinking that all it needed was a simple paint job, but the problem kept appearing. Apparently, this had happened before, and he thought his contractor had fixed it already. So just now, he was talking to his contractor to see if something could be done to rectify it once and for all.

He had already complained to the Housing and Development Board about it. And the response by the officer who attended to him?

"You just have to live with it."

Needless to say, it was all he could do to contain his anger. What sort of Fourth World answer is that? (Yes, it's worse than a Third World response.) And then to rub salt on his wound, the middle-aged female officer pointed to a wall in the office, where there was a watermark too, and said, "See, we have to live with it too."

There goes the much ballyhooed government quality control.

Why am I writing this? Because it just goes to show that though I live with an extremely efficient government, it doesn't mean that it's perfect. Cracks -- and water -- will always appear.

By the way, rumour has it that my colleague's neighbourhood was the last major project of a now-dead corrupt politician. So much money was siphoned away from the project that the contractors did a shoddy work. If that's true, guess who's paying for it now.

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