Channelnewsasia.com | Posted: 24 March 2013 1126 hrs
SINGAPORE: Residents have come up with more than 100 ideas on how to improve their living environment through competitions organised by the Housing and Development Board (HDB).
Quek Yang Thee, whose winning idea on unsolicited flyers won him and his wife the first prize, said: "So the flyers will come in one compartment, while the postman will deliver mail in the other compartment. So when the resident opens the letter box, they are able to separate the flyers and the official letters."
In the student category, a group of engineering undergraduates from the Nanyang Technological University came up tops for a personalised bin for burning incense.
Junio Lee said: "It's also environmentally friendly because after usage, you can empty the contents, and then you crush it. Then, you can recycle it. The basic problem that we have to solve is basically people are not using the incense burners that are provided by the government agencies. Sometimes, it's because there're a lot of people queuing up for it, or because of lack of personal space."
Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan said: "The entire exercise is really to stimulate creative thinking among our residents, among our students because I think for the residents, they are end-users so they know the kind of problems or inconveniences they face day-to-day.
"So from the user point of view, they would have suggestions on how a particular item can be improved in terms of design. Then for the students, they are studying all kinds of theory, so as you can see, they really apply some of what they learn onto things that are very practical in the day-to-day living. So essentially, having experience with the East Coast residents, we're bringing to Nee Soon and Sembawang and hopefully we can also mobilise these creative juices among the residents to come up with out-of-the-box thinking and ideas.
More than 100 ideas have emerged since 2011, when HDB started this series of competitions to solve the problems of daily life. And Mr Lee Yi Shyan said HDB has taken some of these ideas into consideration in new flat designs, but one key factor is safety.
He said: "Like the bamboo hanging mechanism that can be retracted and can be extended, and in so doing, you actually apply quite little strength. So that is quite good for the elderly citizens but because it has got a lot of moving parts, we are in the phase of testing and to see how and if it is installed, how it can be done so safely. So that has come quite far along.
"I think the key consideration for HDB is whether such installations can be done safely and cost-effectively. I think the last thing we want is to install something, and one day (it) falls out - three years later, they fall out from the balcony or something. Then it'll become a hazard item.
"So for HDB, immediate adoption - there will be safety requirements. Cost effectiveness - many things can be improved but at what cost? But definitely HDB will look at it in terms of future flat designs, whether some of these ideas can be incorporated, so I think it's a long-term engagement exercise. I think it's good if the residents can come forward and suggest ideas and over time, we can make improvements."
The competition is held all year round, and the next one is for residents in the Nee Soon and Sembawang constituencies.
Residents have formed 16 groups to brainstorm ways to solve three main issues. They are unattended cooking, rainwater splashing along common areas and household recycling.
Mr Quek said such competitions encourage residents to provide constructive feedback rather than complaints.
"Instead of getting complaints from the residents, this actually has a positive image of HDB trying to organise a prize and reward for feedback. In the past, I think when residents had some issues, they complained. I think that's a negative thing. But with this competition, it becomes a positive thing," he said.
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