This tiny purchase ($56K) by a govt dept has been very extensively discussed- netizens have gone after every aspect of the purchase - cheaper and reliable alternatives exists, how the procurement processes can be gamed by specifications than can only be met by one vendor (brand), how the N. Parks misses out potential suppliers in its process because they were not informed and do not actively look out for govt tenders. The real problem that motivated people to discuss this purchase are not all these little things.
Most Singaporeans families have bicycles and many of us actually own this brand of bicycle called Aleoca which is sold at Giant. I went to check and found out that 2 of my 4 bicycles are Aleoca - I didn't even know because I was totally brand-agnostic when I bought them. Aleoca bikes cost between $100 to $200. I notice women taking their children to school every on their Aleoca bikes.
Link] which costs $1000 to $2000. Some people may think it is too extravagant but I think it is worth the price. Some people who are cycling enthusiasts prefer to pay $100 for chairs and $1000 for bicycles. Suppose I'm a civil servant and have been assigned to buy chairs for an office occupied by middle to upper management what should I do? I honestly think that Herman Miller chairs that cost upwards of $1.8K are definitely worth the price for their durability and design. However, these chairs are associated greedy investment banks and are very costly to the average Singaporean..... so do I avoid such a purchase that will definitely attract criticism and anger from the public? Those Herman Miller chairs purchased by NTU caused an uproar a few years back[Link]
The Singapore public wants our tax dollars to be spent they way that ordinary middle class families would spend it for items that they are familiar with e.g. chairs, furniture, bicycles. Singaporeans have gone through the thought processes themselves on how these type of items that they are familiar with should be purchased. Why wouldn't something be good enough for them not be good enough for N. Parks officers? ...Give and take some level of quality, durability and comfort. If you buy something that most middle class families will never buy because they consider it t oo extravagant you can expect criticism. There is a certain logic to this...the requirements for someone in the civil service shouldn't be too far off from people in the middle class when it comes to such items. I'm sure most N. Parks officers will have no problems with bikes in the $500-$800 range and that would be okay for members of public because it is not uncommon to find friends and relatives with an interest in biking spending this kind of money. ...but it is extremely rare to find anyone buying $2K Brompton bikes.
If I am assigned the task of buying office chairs for civil servants, I'll stick to the $200-450 price range. Those with special requirements and are very fussy about sitting comfort like myself should spend some of their bonus to buy their own chairs....and not expect tax payers to foot the bill.