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New Municipal Services Office announced

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announces a new Municipal Services Office to coordinate the work of various Government agencies in order to improve service delivery to residents.

SINGAPORE: There will be a new authority set up to coordinate the work of various Government agencies in order to better serve the public when it comes to municipal issues. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced this on Sunday (Aug 17) during his National Day Rally.

The Municipal Services Office (MSO) will coordinate the work of agencies such as the Land Transport Authority (LTA), NParks, the Housing and Development Board and Police. The aim is to improve service delivery to residents.

PM Lee highlighted an example cited by Mayor for South West District, Low Yen Ling. "Yen Ling's residents had complained that the walkway to the Bukit Gombak MRT Station was often dirty," Mr Lee related. "One resident told her he saw a fishball stick there on the walkway. The next day he came back and looked, the same fishball stick was still in the same place. Her residents have very sharp eyes. So Yen Ling called up the agencies to find out why the area was not being cleared regularly. And she had to make multiple calls to several agencies, held several meetings. She finally managed to establish what happened. "

Ms Low found that a slope on the left of the walkway is overseen by the National Environment Agency (NEA). In the middle, which is a park connector under NParks, while the pavement close to the road is under LTA. Mr Lee said the cleaners of these areas had different cleaning schedules, and the area on the right where the fishball stick lay was cleaned every two days.

Mr Lee said: "Yen Ling did her job as a mayor, but she found it a frustrating and difficult experience even though she is a mayor so can you imagine if you are an ordinary citizen trying to solve such a problem and running around the different agencies."

While progress has been made with managing inter-agency issues, Mr Lee said more must be done to bridge boundaries and serve the public in an integrated manner. He pointed out that many cities have operations centres where people can report municipal issues. In Brazil, for example, Rio de Janeiro has an operations centre in the Mayor's office, which oversees all emergency services and key public agencies. 

Mr Lee said the ops centre proved useful during the recent World Cup. Manned by 50 officers, it monitors cameras around the city, and allows the authorities to act quickly during accidents or disasters. Mr Lee said Singapore can learn from this, and "we too can get there".

MSO will come under the National Development Ministry, and overseen by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Grace Fu. She will work with National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan. More details on the MSO will be announced later.

Mr Lee also spoke about the need to turn Singapore into a Smart Nation. He said citizens have a role to play in making Singapore a better home, and technology can be a way to achieve that.

He said: "You can also be part of the solution, being our eyes and ears all over Singapore. We can use technology to crowd-source, to involve Singaporeans, so that you can give feedback, report incidents and problems on the ground."

To do this, Mr Lee said there are already mobile applications which Singaporeans can make use of. These include NEA's myENV app, which allows residents to report littering and noise pollution issues to the agency. The Ang Mo Kio Town Council also has the iConnect app to report estate maintenance issues. Also highlighted by Mr Lee is the Smart Nation booth at the ITE College Central, which showcases other apps and gadgets developed by government agencies.