Wednesday, January 09, 2013

AIM-PAP Saga : White elephants, transparency and accountability..........

"The big fat white elephant in the room – which the PAP and Teo seem to have missed – is the issue of a conflict of interest in selling the intellectual property (IP) of software developed by the 14 PAP town councils and paid for, presumably, by residents or taxpayers, to a PAP-owned company run by three former PAP MPs." - Andrew Loh [Link]

The big white elephant is not just seen my netizens but by all ordinary people except for the PAP and their staunch supporters. Two days ago, highly respected ex-PAP MP and presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock  question the sale of software to AIM:

"So did the town councils as public institutions do the right thing, selling (the system) to a company owned by a political party with its own agenda?" - Tan Cheng Bock.

PAP MP Baey Yam Kam argued that  town councils "are not public institutions;" but  are "political organisations" run by political parties[Link]. He seemed to be saying that because town councils are political organisations, the conflict of interest just does occur in the AIM deal. This the first time I heard of this  political "role" of town councils - just because the people filling various positions are from competing political parties does not make town councils political organisations. Our prime minister is from PAP but he is the prime minister for the whole country including those who voted for the opposition - if he forgets his role, he will be in trouble.

PM Lee has called for a review of the AIM transaction. The review will also examine the role of town councils.

'The simmering issue, which gave rise to numerous statements being exchanged between both sides over the "public interest", will be reviewed "in the interest of transparency and maintaining trust in the system' - PM Lee's statement[Link]

One factor that affected trust in the govt that cannot be repaired now regardless of  findings of this review committee is the way the AIM saga came to light. The public only learned about AIM  (and AIM being a PAP company) after WP tried to explain its town council's performance. Much of the information that pointed to important possible issues were initially gathered by netizens. Only when the pressure mounted did the govt release more information. Things could have turned out a lot better for the PAP if the town councils had been completely transparent in 2010  when AIM was awarded the contract. If the people who made the decision knew that they had to explain it to the public they would have been more careful and conscientious. Continuous transparency and voluntary transparency helps to resolve problems early and improve decision making. Countries and organisation implement what is known as a freedom of information act (FOIA) so that information all information so long as it does not affect national security and national interest. Instead of the FOIA, the PAP implemented the draconian OSA (official secrets act) [Link].

Today, even restaurants have open kitchens so that you can see how your food is cooked before you enjoy it. The cook will re-cook the food with fresh ingredients if he accidentally drops it on the floor. One quarter of chefs would serve you food from the floor if nobody sees it [Link]. There no point explaining that the floor is clean after you're caught.  Being transparent "after the fact", will not help to fully repair the damage to  trust and reputation that could have been prevented by having transparency all the time.

I don't expect the PAP to change or improve much in this area - secrecy seems to be in deep in their DNA, a common trait among less democratic..authoritarian type govts. I do see opportunity here for opposition parties to show they can find ways to give the public more information ...that we don't have a 1st world govt does not mean we should not have a 1st world opposition when it comes to transparency....how else is it going to check and challenge the govt to do better.  

56 comments:

gm . 绿效精神 said...

For the whole big exercise of outsourcing the IT system, no sound advice/ discussion involving highly professional ICT expert/ consultant from IDA?

It is pretty clear that WP has emerged as the bigger winner with the upscale IT system, even though TC Management Report shows otherwise.

Anonymous said...

This is one way of how PAP siphon taxpayers' monies into their pockets. Many more Singaporeans will discover if more and more opposition members are voted in. Let's all united to expose the PAP dirt and worms.

Anonymous said...

PAP needs to win Punggol East by election, if there is one.

If PAP wins, this is one good answer to those unanswered questions on the AIM-PAP saga.

PAP have already hinted about who will be their candidate.

But for the opposition, who? Can win or not?

Anonymous said...

If multi-corner fight, opposition sure lose Punggol by election, even if only 50% think PAP is the best available party to rule Singapore, despite the AIM saga.

Very sad.

Anonymous said...

Good lah, So no more 60%.

50% can already, thanks to the opposition.

Anonymous said...

PAP-MIW Joke
++++++++++++

Daddy, daddy.
The Catholic church has a wonderful system for choosing the Pope.
The Pope appoints the cardinals.
And the cardinals appoints the Pope.

Daddy, daddy.
Why not I appoint ????? to investigate the Town Councils.

Anonymous said...

I have grave concerns about this review. While it is commissioned to review the sale to AIM it will also re-examine the "fundamental nature of town councils" We all know the actual reasons GRCs were formed, just as we all know why People Association was formed and who is serves by using government funds. The GRCs were further empowered by the Town Councils Act. This was further secured when HDB stopped providing esstential services in 1996 to the estates, which prompted the then 4 opposition to cry "Fix". Similarly we all also know the real reason why the TCs sold the software to AIM. However we still do not know how many such PAP owned companies are out there provising essential services to the TCs and I do not believe the review will be revealing this. What I fear most is that overall review will find ways to "fix" all the problem they are facing after one GRC was lost by perhaps creating another "PA" to manage all town councils as well.

Anonymous said...

And hopefully Slyvia pre-empts this on Monday leaving the MND review stone faced

Anonymous said...

Whatever it is, most important is to be able to win elections and by elections.

If opposition can win elections, only then can they not only review but also do things their way and not the PAP way.

Anonymous said...

My response to Baey:

From the Town Councils Act (Chapter 329A), a town council is established by the Minister and incorporated by the Act.

1) Why does it require someone in a Minister's capacity to establish a political organisation?
2) Statutory boards are also incorporated by similar acts. Does it mean the CPF and MAS are political organisations, and all their assets belong to a political organisation?
3) Does it mean that the HDB has been donating money towards political organisations all this while for the upkeep of residential towns?

Anonymous said...

First it was that Grace Fool who made an idiot of herself trying to defend what was perceived by many as one of PAP's dirty political tricks to fix the opposition.

Now this other idiot Baey try to make himself look like a fool saying that Town Councils are political organisations ? What is he trying to smokescreen us ? If political organisation, then PAP is excused from committing any murder, is it ? Sorry, I mean fraud ?

Anonymous said...

"Our prime minister is from PAP but he is the prime minister for the whole country including those who voted for the opposition - if he forgets his role, he will be in trouble."

Lucky Tan,
did you grow senile ? How can you say Pinky forget his role when he even blatantly say these in his own very words as a PM. He able to get the best of both world using his role to advance his political interest as so far what been observe. the fact that nothing happen to him over these remark is very telling.

""Right now we have Low Thia Khiang, Chiam See Tong, Steve Chia. We can deal with them. Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I'm going to spend all my time thinking what's the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week's problem and forget about next year's challenges?""

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krtGW-xUSH4

Anonymous said...

I also don't believe PAP "independent review" is truly an independent one if they were made up of PAP apologists. Independent has been loosely used to show PAP is partial, but I hardly know of anyone being punished or at least apologise after a review is over. That should probably explains why many serious problems in Singapore are not taken seriously and "review" are just time staller to keep us beleiving something will be done.

One good example is the SMRT major breakdown in Dec 2011. After and independent & expensive committee review was set up, almost everyone that caused the SMRT problems was exonerated and we still encounter breakdowns thereafter.

Will the MND review outcome makes any different to Teo Ho Pin's statement? We will only know the answer within two months. Most likely, we will hear the PM said there is no conflict of interest by dragging out the audit firm to support the statement, and probably caused a shock wave in the audit community too.


Anonymous said...

Lucky tan,
you might be interested in this

http://blog.transparency.org/2012/11/29/corruption-perceptions-index-2012-life-at-the-top/

"Our research shows that these countries have not managed to fully insulate themselves from corruption risks, with the main threats to integrity located at the nexus between politics and business. Conflicting interests and opaque party funding are among the problems that prevent these countries achieving full marks in our ‘integrity test’. Local government corruption is also troubling the region, particularly with regards to public procurement processes.

In all four countries, regulation of political party financing showed signs of weakness. In Sweden, there is only a voluntary agreement amongst all but one political party to disclose budgets, and details of donors are not included in this disclosure. This shields influential donors from the public eye, meaning that citizens are unable to judge who could be influencing their national politics. Transparency International Sweden wants mandatory regulation to make parties disclose their budgets and details of donors.

Conflicting interests present a significant risk across the region. In Finland, the national assessment concluded that old boy’s networks provide fertile ground for corruption to grow. When those charged with making political decisions have multiple interests and ties with business, decisions could be skewed in favour of those interests."

Anonymous said...

The sale to AIM must be known to all PAP MPs including the PM and all his ministers via minutes of discussions and decisions. By their silence and absence of no-objections, they are all implicated in whatever wrong-doing in the AIM episode.

The real issue in the AIM matter is not about monetary enrichment for the ruling party as the amount involved is insignificant, or who terminated first. Those are just diversions. Supposing there was an intent, and I must confess I do not possess concrete proof of that, for the PAP TCs to fix the opposition who gained control of a constituency or GRC. One possible way to go about it is to throw a spanner into their gears. It would have been too obvious and ugly for this to be done directly, so that's where a 3rd party like AIM might have been used to do the dirty work.

There has been no explanation if the termination clause was initiated by NCS or AIM. If it is not by NCS , why then should AIM be interested to impose such a clause upon itself which it justified with a commercial reason, that being that a change of boundaries would cause NCS to incur extra costs to service. If NCS is not concerned with the cost issue, why then should AIM take it upon itself to impose the termination clause on itself. If NCS indeed was concerned, the most natural and logical commercial course of action to address the cost issue was to incorporate in the service agreement a clause for cost variation in the event of a material change, a way that is commonly found in commercial contracts. Why would it instead cut away business and revenue by terminating in short notice without conferring first? So with WP out of the service agreement after termination, how much discount did AIM get from NCS for less cost incurred henceforth? If not why not?

Behind every action, lies the motive. It is absolutely bewildering and frivolous what AIM had done from a commercial perspective. Then what other motive was there? A political or vindictive one…by fixing……?

The longer term ramification of the AIM act is distressing. Who is to say that PAP entities wouldn't do an AIM on the physical and intellectual assets of service-rendering GLCs or even the Civil Service in the future to pre-empt a risk of loss in majority control in a general election? The smooth administration of Singapore would then be in turmoil, and for what?
A political entity like a PAP TC may run the town council activities (management), it doesn’t follow that it had absolute proprietary and disposal rights over the assets including cash of the town council (ownership). As an analogy, the CEO and management/board of a bank cannot simply sell the bank’s assets at their whim and fancy to entities related to themselves without due process and approval of shareholders.

patriot said...

Singaporeans have no choice at present except to choose between satan and thr devils.
All the seeking for justice are cominh from metizens.
The Judiciary, those in the legal practices and Law enforcement agencies are silent, wonder if Sin has these institutions. CPIB is incharge by the Prime Minister, it is not proactive in looking into irregularity unless official complaint is made and presumably given the permission to proceed by the PM.

There also exists a Law that no private investigation can be carried out on Parliamentarians, if my memory is correct.

How then can Singaporeans work towards an equitable society when those relevant authorities are not proactive and the lay people are powerless to oversee that wrong doings are not acceptable and are against the Laws and the people at large.

The only option is to vote in more Alternative Party Representatives to monitor and check on the works of the Parliamentatians. That is; to have them keep their eyes and ears on each others, so that they will be careful of what they are doing. Most importantly, it will prevent collusion and conspiracy.

patriot

Anonymous said...

In reality, a lot of first world countries government also not transparent/clean/independent. Ever wonder why alcohol and tobacco tax is so low in some european countries? why they never dare to touch certain companies? politics is just a dirty game anywhere and anytime.

Anonymous said...

You appoint a poke, you position him to be poked , for right or for wrong , and  this unending poking will lead to unrest and ultimately the destruction of the entire body.  logical to have the poker depoked ,there is no other way because history attest to the fact that it is an untenable position   It now remains for the son of heaven to do the night thing   Such is the mayhem prophecy.

Anonymous said...

AIM... an "IT company" that don't even have a domain name?

Anonymous said...

这件事越演越烈,总理看来为了瓜田李下,只有牺牲某些干部,壮仕断臂,以免此事侵蚀党誉,真是赔了夫人又折兵。

Anonymous said...

Do you agree that the islandwide community centres are "public institutions"? I dun.

Anonymous said...

Celestial bodies clashes.....better commit hari kiri

Anonymous said...

LHL thinks he will win big in Pungol east with 5 opposition candidates wanting to compete there.

He got a good text book guy for his party.

That is why he launched the by election immediately after sending mnd to check on town councils on AIM problems.

Then after the election, which he is sure to win, he can turn around and thumbs down opposing voice that AIM practice is acceptable.

The stakes of this election is high. please don't vote PAP.

Anonymous said...

Notice that is why he changed his position from attacking AIM problem critics like alex au to getting mnd to check on aim.

because he knows he is going to win pungol east with 5 opposition candidates running for it.

Anonymous said...

Protect Singapore's assets for your children and grandchildren.
Keep them safe from being sold to $2 companies.

Vote Opposition.

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Anonymous said...

They are business oriented. This requires strategies and being secretive is the preferred method.

Keeping your cards very, very close to your chest.

But the world has changed and it is difficult keep secrets anymore. Soon, we will learn even their favourite positions for intercourse.

Anonymous said...

Your mentioned of FOIA triggered something I was thinking.

I think FOIA goes beyond mere transparency. Part of FOIA, I think, is also about providing readable codes of the database such that no single software platform developers can hold customer ransom because other platforms cannot port the database over, other than painfully re-keying of all records.

I've dealt with some solution providers myself and I always ask if I can port the database to another platform easily.

Anonymous said...

Unless you F differently from monkeys, there is really nothing to learn from F king lol

Anonymous said...

U wanted a king. U got a F king?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
////Annon 9/1/13 15:36
In reality, a lot of first world countries government also not transparent/clean/independent. Ever wonder why alcohol and tobacco tax is so low in some european countries? why they never dare to touch certain companies? politics is just a dirty game anywhere and anytime.////

Sure. It is a matter of degree. The test is whether our country is better or worst than those you are talking about.

Do you feel better if you are slightly better than the worst or slightly worst off than the best.

Anonymous said...

////Annon 9/1/13 15:36
In reality, a lot of first world countries government also not transparent/clean/independent. ///

Do these 1st world countries also have detention without trial?

Monopoly of only one news media company friendly to only one political party?

Anonymous said...

PAP-MIW Joke
++++++++++++
Daddy, daddy.
You are a lawyer.
What do these phrases mean;
"related party transaction"
"arm's length dealings"
"independent judicial review"
"checks and balances"

Why you never teach me about these things?
Is it because you think they are not important?

Anonymous said...

What is that song by Michael Jackson with the chorus " Annie are you ok , are you ok
Annie ...."

Anonymous said...

We have a lot of idiots working in govermen. Idiotic school born out of idiots

Anonymous said...

PAP-MIW Joke
+++++++++++
An asshole doctor from the People's Asshole Party is going to run for political office in Punggol East.

Q: What do you call an intelligent asshole politician in Singapore?
A1: A tourist.
A2: An asshole
A3: A colo-rectal surgeon
A4: A smart ass

Anonymous said...

PAP-MIW Joke
++++++++++++

"Working Where the Sun Don't Shine"

We praise the colorectal surgeon,
Misunderstood and much maligned,
Slaving away in the heart of darkness,
Working where the sun don't shine.

Respect the colorectal surgeon,
It's a calling few would crave,
Lift up your hands and join us,
Let's all do the finger wave.

When it comes to spreading joy,
There are many techniques,
Some spread joy to the world,
And others just spread cheeks.

Some may think the cardiologist is their best friend,
But the colorectal surgeon knows...
He'll get you in the end!

Why the colorectal surgeon?
It's one of those mysterious things.
Is it because in that profession,
There are always openings?

When I first met a colorectal surgeon,
He did not quite understand;
I said, "Hey nice to meet you
But do you mind? We don't shake hands."

He sailed right through medical school,
Because he was a whiz,
Oh but he never thought of psychology,
Though he read passages,
A doctor he wanted to be,
For golf he loved to play,
But this is not quite what he meant...
By eighteen holes a day!

Praise the colorectal surgeon,
Misunderstood and much maligned,
Slaving away in the heart of darkness,
Working where the sun don't shine!

Anonymous said...

I think it is quite possible to profit from the AIM saga. I read from somewhere that the Director of AIM tried to sell the computer system in China.

Logically thinking, a computer system that was developed for so many years is only worth $140,000? I am sure there is much use for a system that is developed over quite a period of time. Anyway, the TCs are still using the same software, so it is not as obsolete as it was claimed to be.

Personally, there are many questions. Just like the infrastructure built for MRT and bus interchanges, even when they become old and outdated, they are still valuable because they cannot be built overnight. Rarely in history, a project or something of a bigger scale is built from scratch and the foundation itself is already quite valuable.

Anonymous said...

The problem with folks like Baey and all PAP office bearers in general is the woeful lack of education on issues as simple as "accountability". They are good at disingenious argument, like all lawyers and philosophy or history students. When someone say: "public institutions must be accountable to taxpayers", they immediately counter by saying "town councils are not public, they are political". But the issue is "accountability", Mr Baey clown, becaiuse I cannot give you a hoot, whether you call yourself "political clown" or "public clown", when you deal with other people's money, people who elected you based on a belief you will be responsibile and accountable to all voters, then you better get rid of all the non-accountable thoughst and ideas, otherwise, I will sue the shit out of you, I may even engage Mr Dar Singh to do so, since he can be bought with money.

Anonymous said...

the truth is. I dunno much about this colorectal surgeon and neither do you cos he just popped out of nowhere to stand for election. I hope people vote for the best candidate rather than cast their vote based on party line.

patriot said...

Me am a voter in Tampines GRC.

Was disappointed when Result was announced for the Constituency in the Last GE.

Now, terribly upset and sad with one of the MP at odd with many Singaporeans all over the Island. It woild have been better if he had remained in Tanjong Pagar to share limelight with another more famous elder of his.

patriot

Anonymous said...

Big Public Relation Blunder for this Baey Chap.

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Anonymous said...

"PAP is the government mah. Opposition got what use? No power one. How to help people like us?"
--- From one of the diehard 60%

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Anonymous said...

PAP-MIW Joke
+++++++++++

Potong Pasir SMC = $1 abalone porridge
Hougang SMC = Free Teochew Porridge

Punggol East SMC = Free colo-rectal examinations?

Anonymous said...

Colon, rectum and anus.

The smelliest part of the human body, right?

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Anonymous said...

According to MSM, Dr Koh, who is 40-year-old, remembered when he finally got his HDB flat in 1988, just after he ORD from the army.

He ORD and got a flat when he was only 16 year old?
No wonder he and his wife had only $11.50 to furnish their flat.
But it is better to field one who ORD so young than one who defer NS for many years.

Anonymous said...

Oliver Stone: I Learned Nothing From the Rich

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/off-the-cuff/oliver-stone-learned-nothing-rich-041932049.html

Learn from Oliver Stone.
You won't get anything of value by voting for the Pro Alien Party.
A party which believes that rich people should be subsidized by poor people.

Anonymous said...

Don't joke lah or worse lie.

16 year old can buy HDB Flat meh???

Anonymous said...

It is alarming to know the extent Minister Baey is being brainwashed by his party. He thinks public money is party money. He simply cannot understand the difference, or does he?

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