As the dust begins to settle on Singapore GE2015, we now set our eyes on Singapore General Elections 2021. Visit us at our new blog.
Wednesday, 9 September 2015
SG General Elections just received the following copies of briefing notes by opposition supporters. These notes are to be used by opposition supporters during the cooling off day to do whisper campaigns against the People's Action Party (PA).
While it is not immediately who created the notes and who is behind this campaign, our guess it is either the Workers' Party (WP) or the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). Why is this our guess? Simply because these two parties are schooled in the Taiwanese art of political campaigning and this has been their method of operations for years.
You be the judge. Do you want people like these as your leaders? The WP wants to form the next Government. If you vote more of them into Parliament, Singapore is doomed.
I read the TNP today and saw the juicy story about the WP candidate Luke Koh beating his wife.
What shocked me more is when I saw Cherian George jumping in and say that this is gutter politics over an acrimonious divorce. This is not about the divorce but everything to do with what kind of people are we getting into parliament. It is only gutter politics only if it is untrue. But for this Luke fella, he has much to explain.
From TNP, I can summarize that Luke Koh is criminal. His ex-wife took a PPO against him. He tried to climb over the fence of his ex-wife's house. That is a criminal trespass.
Secondly, he is a wife-beater. He assaulted his wife and breached the PPO to create a scene at her house.
Thirdly, he is a liar. When TNP asked him, he declined to comment and said this matter is out of bound. So he gets to define what is out of bound now?
Finally, he is an hypocrite. After making the song and dance of being a champion for graduate mothers etc, he is nothing but a wife-beater. AWARE should be aware.
So it really puzzles me why does George Cherian, with his outstanding records of fine journalistic work made such comments with no sensitivity to the suffering his ex-wife has gone through and the type of people we are choosing into political office? May be it has to do with him and how he treats Zuraidah.
Now it is up to Luke to prove TNP wrong!
There is an article circulating online as a must read before voting. As the writer has given, in my opinion, a bias perspective, here is my rebuttal ...
I am a Singaporean voter. I want our policies to be thoroughly examined by different political parties in the Parliament.
I know all the candidates have different strengths, weaknesses and abilities but that is exactly the whole idea. A policy paper can be better scrutinized by different people with different perspectives, angles and insights. Ultimately, Singapore and Singaporeans benefit from better policies. Good policies can withstand scrutiny, no matter who came up with them.
I am a Singaporean voter too. I want policies to be first the result of public engagement and consultation; second, to be examined by citizens as well as all relevant groups and parties. Policies affecting my life should not be vetted and examined only by political parties because frankly parties have their vested interests and MPs do not have a monopoly over common-sense and wisdom. Singaporeans are empowered enough today to think for themselves and speak up for themselves.
I am a Singaporean voter. I want our anti-corruption department to be completely detached from the power of any government, regardless of political party.
The department should be a checks-and-balances asset for the people of Singapore. The anti-corruption department should report directly to the people and conduct regular and random checks on every single branch of the state and government to ensure nobody plays under the table. Nobody.
I am a Singaporean voter and I agree. The CPIB must continue to be independent and do its job fearlessly and impartially as , to be fair to CPIB, it has done for 60 years. That is why Ministers and senior civil servants have been charged and punished when they commit offences. No other country has done this as well as Singapore and the credit goes to Lee Kuan Yew.
I am a Singaporean voter. I want our civil service, army, police and judiciary systems to be independent from any politically-motivated decisions from any incumbent government.
I am a Singaporean voter. Your ideas are flawed and you obviously need a lesson in political science and law. In a democratic system, there are 3 bodies - Parliament which makes laws, the Judiciary which interprets the laws and enforces it, and finally the Executive which govern. This is the principle of the separation of powers The judiciary must be independent. Parliament should preferably be plural and not dominated by one party.The civil service is part of the Executive which is led by elected officials ie PM and Cabinet. The civil service must carry out faithfully the programmes of whichever elected party that forms the Government but it must do so impartially.
I dislike the practice of parachuting newly-resigned civil servants, army or police officers or judges into the political sphere weeks or days before elections. This presents a serious conflict of interests because these newly-converted politicians still hold networks of influence within their old jobs and that may present dilemmas in crucial decision-making. Imagine if we go to war and our generals hesitate to act because they are considering military decisions based on answering to ex-colleagues-turned-ministers on which electoral constituency to defend or retreat from. Wouldn't that be a disaster if they lost battle initiative due to such considerations?
I am a Singaporean voter and I agree. However your example about war and generals is really stupid because Singapore is just too small to be defended in a war constituency by constituency.
I am a Singaporean voter. I understand all policies cost valuable taxpayers' monies.
I am a Singaporean voter too and I agree with you. However trade-offs are not just about monies but also about choices affecting how we live and the options we have for the future. No country can have their cake and eat it without them or their next generation starving in the end.
I am not a rabbit. I don't eat carrots dangling in front of me. I am not a dog. I refuse to be tamed or intimidated by fear-mongering tactics. I am not a crazy person either. I don't intend to bankrupt Singapore or Singaporeans over poorly-planned policies. I am, however, keeping an open mind to alternative suggestions to current policies. I don't mind these alternatives be thoroughly debated in Parliament because there is always a chance to find moderation and suitability in them until these policies can meet the needs and wants of Singaporeans.
I am glad you are not a rabbit or a dog or a crazy person but an open-minded person willing to entertain alternative views. I hope that is how you will take my elaboration over your ideas. No offence intended, hopefully no offence taken.
I am a Singaporean voter. I want my government to work for me, not against me and certainly not for themselves. I want my politicians to earn their keep, not sleep through in Parliament and just nod their heads in agreement to pass policies into bills which are not clearly understood by the people.
Governments are servants to the people. If they lord over their own voters, they are not governments. They are called tyrants. I understand the need for attractive pay to entice the best talents and minds into a government. However, I want such salaries to be pegged to real performance in their terms of office. This is called meritocracy. Any member of parliament who naps in parliamentary sessions should receive a pay cut for that month. No excuses. Any member of parliament who has contributed no constructive suggestions to any policies in a year should receive a pay cut for that year. Any member of parliament who broke the laws of Singapore should receive a demerit ceremony in public and serve the necessary sentence in whichever way deem fit by the people of Singapore.
I am a Singaporean voter too and I agree with you except for the part about punishment to be determined by the people – that sounds too much like trial by lynch mob. Regardless of popular sentiment, the rule of law must apply – dispassionately and impartially.
I am a Singaporean voter. I want Singapore to survive longer than any political squabble or contest.
If any political party claims that Singapore will collapse or be in ruins if they are voted out of power, that means we have built the country in the wrong way. All political parties face the possibility of total dissolution but as a Singaporean, I want Singapore to possess a robust system where it can survive any change of power from any political party. This means the civil service, army, police and judiciary system must remain apolitical if they understand such a national need beyond political competition.
I am a Singaporean voter and I agree. Singapore should not collapse because one party is voted out of power. Whether Singapore will collapse because this happens prematurely is the question that is pertinent today because even the serious people in the opposition itself admit they cannot yet form an alternative government.
I am a Singaporean voter. Vote not for Singapore's past. Vote not for Singapore's present. Vote for Singapore's future.
I am a Singaporean voter too and I also want to vote for a good Singapore future. But ignoring the past and present is shallow thinking and reckless. We must always remember the past that led us here without being trapped in the past; we must always look with honesty and with a hand to the heart, at the good we have in the present without being blind to its imperfections. Then we reflect and decide what we believe is the best choice to make for the future when we cast our vote on
Tuesday, 8 September 2015
Today is the final day of campaigning. All the parties have spoken. Some made sense, some not so much. So how does the average Singaporean decide.
One analogy that is circulating online is to view the PAP as the dutiful wife who has been with you since day one. The PAP has been with you through thick and thin and has taken care of all your the family's needs. While no longer young and sexy, the PAP has proven herself to be loyal with your best interest at heart.
This contrasts with the opposition who, in the analogy, is seen as a PRC gold-digger. The opposition is sexy, young and there to pander to your wants. With nothing to lose, the opposition, can always tell you what you want to hear and make you feel good about yourself. Wanting to take over the place of the wife, the gold-digger will whisper things without concern for the consequences as it is easy to be responsible when you are responsible for nothing.
At the end of the day, the choice is simply between choosing someone who has been loyal and cares for you, or someone who is out for their own self-interest.
For those that are not convinced, but say that that you need an affair so as to scare the wife to worker harder at home, do consider the consequences. If you miscalculate and the wife leaves, you will be stuck with a no good gold-digger.
There is however a third option .... spoil your vote!
If at the end of the day, you believe that the PAP is still the best, but think that you need to voice your unhappiness by reducing their percentage of popular votes, signal via spoiling your vote. Spoiling your vote minimizes the risk of a freak election result where the PAP is voted out by accident over-night.
We have a vision for tomorrow, just believe, just believe
Over the last few days of campaigning, one question that I have heard from my friends repeatedly is –What will I get if I vote for PAP? More of the same?
WP says – vote for me, get minimum wage
SDP says – vote for me, get free healthcare
RP says – vote for me, get child and elderly support
HHH says – vote for me, get your CPF back
What has PAP said?
“Please vote for me and my PAP team, so that we can keep improving Singaporeans’ lives and make our plans and dreams come true” – Lee Hsien Looong
Is that a collective “cheeeeey” I hear? PM – how to get votes liddat?
But here’s the thing – PAP is the only party that is expected to deliver on their promises. PM cannot just run off and promise to build a gigantic dome that keeps the entire Singapore air-conditioned (though side note – whoever can make that happen, gets my vote man).
So we should probably give the PAP some credit for being the only party fighting against the cries of “more, more, and more.” I mean, if our current leaders just want to stay in power for a couple more terms, collect their salaries (yes, I know, million-dollar salaries) and retire, all they got to do is spend the reserves and keep people happy. Free education? Sure, why not! Free healthcare? Sure, why not! Free transport? Sure, can even throw in a free bicycle or two.
Singapore has leapfrogged from mudflats to metropolis. We are now among the top global cities; there is no blueprint for us to follow. But that doesn’t mean that we can remain at status quo. There are still challenges for us to overcome – changing demographics, widening inequality, and increasing regional competition. These will be hard to tackle and there’s no quick fix. If we don’t continue to push, the only place to go is down.
So relook what PAP is promising you. Making lives better and providing more opportunities is not as easy as it sounds. And yes, Singapore will have to keep working and fighting to remain successful – no two ways about it. But if the PAP presses on with policies such as improving pre-school education and SkillsFuture - policies which are decidedly unsexy – maybe that’s how they will make sure that dreams continue to come true in Singapore.
So as the song goes … We have a vision for tomorrow, just believe, just believe.
Sunday, 6 September 2015
At one of the Workers' Party's recent rally, Png Eng Huat and Low Thia Khiang openly declared to their supporters that Hougang Town Council (HGTC) was in the black before they merged with Aljunied GRC.
This is once again misleading as they took a snap-shot without declaring that they had debts to be paid. Additionally, HGTC's published financial reports show that they were in the red since 2008. In fact, their own auditors were concerned about the continued operations of HGTC.
Once again more half-truths by the Workers' Party to mislead Singaporeans. This simple animation by Citizen Sane explains the full story .... #sharethetruth #stopthe lies #stopwp
WP GE 2015 Rally Promises: True or not? Or talk cock again ...
Been a property developer for 20 years and I also don’t think I dare to say such things.
The problem with the property market is first, it is volatile and second, because there are too many direct and blunt interventions by Government. If Low Thia Khiang can read the property cycle so accurately – he is either throwing smoke or the real Property Guru. Based on his airy explanation, I can only conclude that it is the former.
I think the only way HDB flats can be "stable" in price over the years and over property cycles is to return to a system of sell-back to HDB based on fixed valuation with discount for age of flat and remaining lease. This used to be the case. But that would mean 800,000 HDB owners today would lose the asset value that their flats fetch on the open market and which is a key part of their retirement nest-egg calculations. People who will suffer are the middle-aged to elderly people who own existing flat.
Price stabilisation over the last few years came about not from a single magic bullet like de-linking BTO pricing from resale. Stupid and irresponsible to oversimplify this. Stabilisation came about through a slew of cooling measures including shifts in HDB pricing. These measures had to be introduced incrementally to avoid overkill and avoid crashing the market which would only hurt all homeowners or more than 90% of all Singaporean households. Depressed flat prices will badly affect existing flat owners.
More important than just pricing is affordability. Whatever the price, people need to be able to afford it based on their ability to pay. This depends on their income and on the amount of grants they can obtain from HDB.
At a local coffeeshop, I heard a most interesting analogy. The uncle compared the relationship between the PAP and the Opposition Parties as that of the dutiful wife and the vixen. Here goes:
The PAP is akin to a middle aged wife of a self-made wealthy businessman. She toiled tirelessly, washing clothes, cooking, teaching the kids... Basically caring for household.
Regardless of how well she runs the household, she would never have gotten the praises and adoration of her husband and children. When something goes wrong, it will usually be her fault... Too strict... Incompetent...u name it.
But why would she be naggish and strict? Because the wife is there to walk life's journey with the husband and she has a responsibility. She scolds because she is worried, she nags because her heart aches.
The opposition is like the vixen who is prancing and waiting to replace the wife. All she needs to do, is to dress up, speak nice sweet things and gain the liking of people. Nothing more.
Once the vixen gains her position, she has his money to spend. She doesn't care if the kids or the family has a future! After all, she didn't walk the journey from the start with the family, the kids are not hers!
Why would this vixen be seemingly sweet and considerate? Because she has no responsibilities, and she doesn't and wouldn't appreciate how difficult and arduous the journey has been from rags to riches.
To pick on bones and speak badly of the wife, is easy, who can't? All that's needed is to speak against, act prominently and go against the flow of logic...
Sad but real
HWZ censors anti-WP information ....
Earlier today, a netter on HWZ posted that Workers' Party’s Low Thia Khiang was lying and uploaded a picture of Punggol East SMC’s financial report. The report showed another statement with an additional $303k received, which did not result in a deficit.
The thread which was gaining traction and likely to portray Low Thia Khiang as a liar was deleted at about . Shown below is the real full Punggol-East statement of account. We cannot help but wonder if this is the end of Low Thia Khiang and the Workers' Party.
Misinformation on AHPETC’s Managing Agent (MA) Fees
Articles have been circulating on HWZ, TOC and even Roy Ngerng’s page claiming that AHPETC’s managing agent’s (MA) fee are not high. The writers go to great lengths to show what appears to be empirical proof. While on the surface their calculation appears logical, it is fundamentally flawed.
TOC’s publication of the article is not unexpected as they are known to be the mouth piece of the Workers’ Party. And since the WP is literally on the ropes after it was made known that FMSS, their former MA, was suing AHPETC for $3.5m, they needed a distraction.
Number 1: First of all, Town Councils manage only HDB estates. Hence, using the number of electorate as the basis for deriving their average-per-constituent cost is flawed. If we were to actually compare apples to apples, the correct cost per user would show that AHPETC was still significantly higher than any of the other Town Councils.
Number 2: How can you delink management fees to determine cost. This is businessmen call salami slicing. To get an accurate cost analysis, the total cost to deliver the service must be factored in. So this is the actual cost to residents:
Number 2: How can you delink management fees to determine cost. This is businessmen call salami slicing. To get an accurate cost analysis, the total cost to deliver the service must be factored in. So this is the actual cost to residents:
So nice try TOC! Once again, you have shown your creative genius in how you continually try to mislead Singaporeans.
Saturday, 5 September 2015
An Uneasy Marriage of Inconvenience
DPP’a Benjamin Pwee had initially left the SPP amid disagreements over the appointment of Mrs Lina Chiam as Mr Chiam’s successor. This rift shows.
For instance, SPP and DPP members have been wearing their own party t-shirts while canvassing for votes in the GRC. Even though they are now running under the SPP banner, Mr Pwee and Mr Hamim are DPP t-shirts, even at the rally.
Furthermore, SPP and DPP personnel have been seen canvassing for votes separately. If the team cannot even work together to canvass for votes, how are they going to run a town council together?
Even the relatively larger Worker’s Party find it difficult to run a GRC town council well – what more a disparate team lacking in party cohesiveness an identity?
One hyphen does not make a team
The current team was a last minute artificial creation. A cobbled together SPP-DPP. But electoral rules do not allow for two different parties to contest as one team.
As a consequence, DPP members Benjamin Pwee and Hamim Aliyas had to resign from their party and re-join the SPP. They will resign from the SPP and re-join the DPP should they lose in the upcoming elections.
What does this say about political loyalties?
Mr Pwee and Mr Hamim could be purely opportunistic in their political membership. Votes at any cost – doesn’t matter my political affiliation. This means that they will shift and change with the political winds.
But even if they are truly committed to this current hyphenated creation, what can they really do? As part of the SPP’s recent rally at Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, opposition stalwart Mr Chiam See Tong appeared to deliver a short speech in support of the joint SPP-DPP team currently contesting the GRC.
The general thrust of the SPP’s message was that they are more in touch with the ground and less elitist than their PAP opponents. This is easy to say. But as I voter, I want to know – what can you do?
Team Mascot: Chiam See Tong
The team is limited by real issues of succession. Mrs Lina Chiam is a great wife but a poor leader. The SPP lacks competent and convincing leadership.
As a consequence, they continued to rely on an increasingly frail Mr Chiam. Mr Chiam is neither fit nor willing to run for an election – but the party continues to wheel him out at every possible opportunity.
Even on nomination day, Mrs Chiam needed the assistance of SPP’s Assistant Sec-Gen Loke Hoe Yeong, (Mr Chiam See Tong’s biographer), in reciting her speech. He probably wrote her speech as well.
The visibly frail Mr Chiam was also made to stand at both nomination day and their recent rally. He is the only recognizable feature of the party.
Can voters trust a party that continues to make use of its founder as a mascot? What will happen when Mr Chiam is no longer able to play even this diminishing role? Neither Mrs Chiam nor Mr Pwee are capable of exercising political leadership. Ironically, the SPP, in its manifesto, pushes for a “worry-free retirement” Mr Chiam See Tong appears denied of such a retirement, at least politically.
Friday, 4 September 2015
OPEN LETTER TO PNG ENG HUAT: DID HOUGANG TOWN COUNCIL HAVE A SURPLUS OR DEFICIT?
Dear Mr Png,
On 2 September, you gave a good rally speech on how Hougang town council had a surplus when it merged its account with Aljunied GRC on 26 May 2011.
But as a citizen and voter, I feel it’s my duty to speak up when I’m not sure if it’s the truth. I need to know I can vote people I trust, so I hope you can shed light on this.
I was told that Hougang town council may not be as good as you painted it to be – before 2011, Hougang town council was in deficit every year for 3 years:
FY2008/09 - deficit about $96k
FY2009/10 - deficit about $102k
FY2010/11 - deficit about $92k
You said in your speech that when Hougang TC merged its account with Aljunied on 26 May 2011, Hougang TC had a surplus. But I was also told that actually your auditors said that in the financial year ending 31 Mar 2011, your TC registered a net deficit of about $91k. I find it hard to believe, but is it true? This date is very close to the 26 May date, how come?
Apparently your auditor said they were not sure whether you had enough operating funds for daily operations, and your management had been exploring ways to improve the financial position of Hougang TC. What kinds of ways did your management explore?
There is talk that the surplus in Aljunied was used to cover the deficit in Hougang after the 2011 elections. Could that be the way your management improved the financial position of Hougang TC? I hope not…
Thanks Mr Png for taking time to clear up my doubts. It would also help if you could open your accounts and let the public see the Hougang TC audit reports from 2008 to 2011.
Then we can know for sure.
Keep up the good work!
(1) Png Eng Huat and Low Thia Khiang declared that Hougang Town Council (HGTC) was always in the black. Not true.
Based on the TC’s own accounts, HGTC had operating deficits of $96,000 for 2008 and $102,000 for 2009 and $92,000 for 2010 (ending Mar 2011). Fact is they have been spending more than their income every year.
(2) Png Eng Huat and Low Thia Khiang said that Hougang had a surplus when it merged with Aljunied. Half-true-deliberately misleading.
(3) Low Thia Khiang declared that there was no need for Hougang to merge with Aljunied. Not True.
Any book-keeper or accountant will tell you that the financial state of the TC is determined at the end of each year when the income collected each month and expenses spent each month are totalled and squared. For instance, if you look at your own finances in a year, on the month you get your bonus, you probably have a surplus. But when you add up the expenses against your income for the months in the rest of the year, your bankbook and bills will tell you whether you are spending more than you earn or not and whether you have savings (surplus) or debt.
What Low and Png did was to carefully select a month (May 2011) at the start of the financial year (which starts on 1 Apr 2011) to create a false picture of a surplus when in fact their finances reflected a pattern of deficit in Hougang which began in 2008. But by merging the Hougang accounts with Aljunied, they ensured that this will be buried from public view.
The TC’s own auditors, Kelvin Wong & Co, on Mar 2011 stated that there is uncertainty over the adequacy of operating funds and that the HGTC’s so called surplus is just a snapshot and is not a good reflection of the TC’s finances because bonuses, property tax, GST expenses, etc were included in the financial report. In short, he is saying to Hougang TC that you are rich on payday, but actually you are in debt because you have not settled all your bills and still spending more than you earn.
An amazingly simple but powerful video by a PAP supporter on why she continues to support the PAP. She gets it right by saying that much has improved since 2011 and that only by working together with the Government can we continue to achieve as a nation.
Thursday, 3 September 2015
Although I am pro-opposition, I will not vote for WP’s disappointing candidate in Macpherson. NSP gets my Vote!
Many of my friends have said that they are envious of me—a resident in Macpherson SMC—because the number one opposition party The Workers’ Party is coming to contest in my area. I am spoilt for choices, they said, and don’t have to settle for “non-choices” such as The Reform Party, SingFirst or the Singapore Democratic Alliance.
But I beg to differ. I told them three reasons why I will not be voting for the Workers’ Party in this coming election.
First, WP is insincere in contesting in Macpherson SMC. I have done my due diligence to research what is the reason they are contesting in Macpherson SMC but I couldn’t find anything. It is clear to me that WP is only interested to come to Macpherson because it was part of Marine Parade GRC. And they are contesting in Marine Parade GRC only because Yee Jenn Jong’s beloved Joo Chiat SMC is absorbed into MP GRC. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even be here at all! If they were sincere, they would have been working the ground for Marine Parade GRC, including Macpherson, over the last few years. From what I can see, their sincerity extends to only Joo Chiat SMC.
Second, Bernard Chen is an election greenhorn. I might have considered WP if they fielded a person who is at least familiar with Macpherson. But from what I have found, Bernard does not stay in Macpherson. From his Facebook, he has been seen more in Hougang and Aljunied than in Macpherson. Since the WP believes so much in working the ground and engaging the residents, why send someone who doesn’t hasn’t been in the constituency regularly? My sense is that the WP is merely fielding him in Macpherson for his baptisan of fire into politics. If so, don’t expect me to vote for someone whom his own party don’t expect to win but here for the experience.
Third, I don’t trust Bernard Chen to run my town council. According to his blog, he has only worked for less than one year. To my surprise, he has even fewer working experience than me (I started working in September 2011) at 29 years old! Does someone who has so little years of working experience able to manage a town council when his more senior colleagues in the WP already has so much problems? Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim have said they were inexperienced in the financial matters as it was their first time and they would do better. Then why are they sending a greenhorn? Will he give the same excuses that he is unfamiliar in running the town council when he screws up? And the stakes are higher in Macpherson because there are so many elderly who live there. If the lifts don’t work and cannot be repaired in time, I shudder to imagine the consequence. In comparison, NSP’s Cheo Chai Chen was a former MP for Nee Soon Central SMC from 1991 to 1997. For what NSP is worth, at least they showed sincerity and seriousness by fielding a veteran who was an actual MP. Despite the troubles in NSP, I am keeping my options open and see what NSP’s Cheo Chai Chen will offer in the upcoming days and explain why he is a better candidate than PAP’s Tin Pei Ling.
WP might make a compelling choice in other places, but definitely not for me in Macpherson.
Wednesday, 2 September 2015
In response to The New Paper’s article that FMSS had served a letter of demand on AHPETC for the sum of $3.5m, AHPETC issued the following Open Letter to the residents of AHPE. As with most of their communication, AHPETC has once again been selective with the truth and at times distorting the facts to suit their own lies.
SG Bumiputra sat down to study Sylvia Lim’s letter and the following are the distortions and untruths I discovered.
SECOND OPEN LETTER TO RESIDENTS OF ALJUNIED-HOUGANG-PUNGGOL EAST TOWN
In my First Open Letter to you in June 2015, I explained three main points concerning various allegations made against Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC). These were:
1. AHPETC does not and cannot reserve contracts for “friends” due to the public tender process;
2. The alleged “overpayment” by AHPETC to its former Managing Agent (MA), when compared to rates paid by PAP TCs in 2014, was an exaggeration, looking at the rates paid by PAP TCs in 2011, 2012 and 2013 according to data provided by the Ministry of National Development (MND);
[Distortion: FMSS’ MA rates were consistently higher than other TCs, in the four years that it was AHPETC’s MA (not just 2014) ). Now we also learnt that the margin of profit was 30% and the four FMSS owners made more than $3.2m a year.]
3. The MA rates that AHPETC agreed to pay its MA in 2012 were arrived at taking into account the MA rate paid by the PAP management of Aljunied TC to its former MA.
If you missed the first open letter, you can read it online at http://www.ahpetc.sg/sylvia-lims-open-letter-to-residents/.
In this Second Open Letter, I would like to clarify and reassure all residents that AHPETC places your interests at the heart of its work and continues to make improvements to its financial management.
This letter will cover the issue of Conflicts of Interest and AHPETC’s financial position.
1. Conflict of Interest and Related Party Transactions
There have been allegations concerning related party transactions between AHPETC and its former MA, FM Solutions & Services Pte Ltd (FMSS).
First, there is no longer any issue, as AHPETC is now directly managed and does not outsource its work to an MA. The previous MA contract expired on 14 July 2015, and there were no bidders to take over the MA services after 14 July 2015.
Since 15 July 2015, AHPETC has been self-managed. This means that AHPETC is now directly hiring staff to handle estate, finance, administration and other tasks, instead of outsourcing the work to an MA.
Under direct management, AHPETC’s contractors continue to deliver services under the existing contracts, now supervised by TC’s directly hired staff.
Second, there was never any conflict of interest whatsoever between the Workers’ Party (WP) or any of its Members of Parliament (MPs) and FMSS. Neither WP nor any of its MPs or members has any interest in the business of FMSS. None of the directors and shareholders of FMSS is a member of WP.
[Untruth: The late Mr Danny Loh and Ms How Weng Fan are long time WP supporters. They acted as assentor and proposer to the WP team of candidates led by Mr Yaw Shin Leong in Ang Mo Kio GRC in the 2006 General Election. Ms How has worked for Mr Low TK in Hougang since graduating from university. FMSS was formed on 15 May 2011, exactly 1 week after the results of the GE. CPG only informed Sylvia Lim of their wish not to continue as MA in late May.]
Third, there have been accusations that when the MA was working at AHPETC, the husband and wife team who owned FMSS could freely sign payments to themselves. This is not true. When WP took over in 2011, one of the first decisions made by the new Aljunied-Hougang Town Council was to require any cheques to the MA, no matter how small the amount, to require the counter-signature of AHPETC Chairman and Vice-Chairmen who have no interest in the MA’s business
[Untruth: While the payment amounts may have been pre-agreed by contract, the TC still has a duty to ensure that the services that the MA was contracted to provide were performed duly and properly. The question is, when the Chairman and Vice-Chairmen counter-signed these payments, did they take steps to counter-check that the contracted services - for which the millions were being paid - had been duly performed? The answer is clearly NO since their own auditors have observed poor governance over related third party transactions involving FMSS. And the AGO discovered specific instance of overpayment/overcharging by FMSS because it misrepresented the facts to the TC who approved the payment rates in ignorance.]
2. Financial Position of AHPETC
Some people have accused AHPETC of bankruptcy and running huge deficits that are not sustainable, and also warned residents of other towns not to vote for WP so as not to subsidise AHPETC. These allegations are misguided.
AHPETC filed its audited accounts for FY 14/15, on time, by 31 August 2015. Though these accounts show AHPETC in annual deficit, this is because AHPETC has still NOT received its annual S&CC operating grant of $7.2 million from the government, which would normally have been paid to all Town Councils in April 2014. Taking into account the $7.2 million in grant which AHPETC expects to receive, AHPETC’s annual income and expenditure statement would show an annual surplus of $1.7 million.
[Untruth: MND had to withhold the grants because the TC could not file a clean set of accounts for years. Its own auditors and the AGO itself raised numerous disclaimers and concerns. As these grants are public funds, MND has a duty to safeguard how they are used and managed. Nevertheless at the request of the TC for release of the grants to pay their outstanding SF deficits, MND agreed and asked for AHPETC latest cash flow position. The TC refused to give the information despite repeated reminders viz on 2 May, 15 Jun and 6 Aug 2015. Even the High Court Judge Quentin Loh remarked that the TC had itself to blame for not securing the grants.]
The past operating deficit was largely the outcome of higher tender price for various service contracts and start-up costs.
The current positive position came about through a combination of steps taken by AHPETC. These included lowering its utilities costs by using contestable energy, reducing its general and administrative expenditure, and increasing its revenue.
Throughout the difficult initial years, AHPETC management believed that it could improve the TC’s financial position, and the latest audit shows that it has. We expect to further consolidate and improve AHPETC’s financial position going forward.
We have done our best to serve residents, and I would like to express appreciation to our staff for their contribution to the progress we have made and to our residents for their support and understanding.
ALJUNIED-HOUGANG-PUNGGOL EAST TOWN COUNCIL
From this simple episode, it is obvious that Ms Sylvia Lim and the Workers’ Party are skills in the art of misinformation. Sandwiched between truths, the lies are hard to distinguish from the truth.
Every once in a while when the opposition trolls run out of things to say, they will invariably raise the issue of Ministerial Salaries to push their agenda that the PAP Ministers are out of touch with Singaporean. However, before you get mislead by this misinformation, did you know that the Worker's Party (WP) and the People's Action Party (PAP) agree on the quantum of ministerial SALARIES to be paid?
A look back at the SALARY debate in 2012 will show that the WP's proposal is very similar to that of the review committee set-up by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In fact, the WP proposed a higher starting monthlySALARY for ministers.
The full story can be found at AsiaOne. #sgelections #ge2015
Sharing what my civil servant friend shared with me about the Cost of Living issue Singaporeans face ...
Chowing down your food with friends—$3 plate of Hokkien mee, $4.50 plate of orh luak (oyster omelette), $8 plate of BBQ chicken wings and $12 plate of BBQ stingray—at a hot and crowded hawker centre, watching as super zhng-ed out luxury sports cars worth over $1 million whiz past? Yes, it pisses me off too.
But refusing to buy $0.30 tissue from an old aunty as you work your way through your food? Yep, I’m sure that pisses the Aunty off as well, especially when she can’t afford your $27.50 meal.
Simply put, we can see an income gap in Singapore everywhere we look. It is one of the highest amongst developed countries. How high? There is a number called the Gini coefficient. Essentially, the closer the number is to 1, the greater the income inequality. Singapore’s was 0.464 in 2014. Compared to places like the USA’s 0.401 and UK’s 0.35, we aren’t doing so well.
How should Singapore overcome this income gap? Solutions have been much debated abroad and locally.
Some say minimum wage for those in lower-skilled jobs—like fast food chains—is the answer. In fact, they think minimum wage would help these employees better cope with the rising cost of living. But is this really a viable solution? Other countries have tried, but their unemployment rate is much higher than Singapore’s. In Europe, high minimum wages have been accompanied by severe unemployment. Typically, those with the lowest skills are most badly affected. This makes sense, if you think about it. Companies would find it simpler to come up with automated ways of carrying out these jobs, so they don’t have to pay minimum wage to hire workers.
And why would companies choose to do business in Singapore, when there are many other neighbouring countries that do not have minimum wage? I am no expert, but surely this solution could negatively impact Singaporeans’ jobs.
Perhaps this is why the government has not implemented minimum wage. Instead they supplement the wages of lower-income Singaporeans. For example, Workfare has become a longstanding feature of our system. For Singaporeans 35 and above, and earning $1,900 or less, get up to $3,500 more a year in cash and CPF contributions.
Even those near the middle are getting help. More recently, the government has been co-funding 40% of wage increases for Singaporeans earning $4,000 per month and below through the Wage Credit Scheme.
What else can they do in the long-run? In a 2014 report, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) lists a few other solutions, one of them being to better match jobs with skills, and yet another to promote equity in education. Singapore may already be heading down this path. Last year, PM noted that some of the ways to deal with the gap between rich and poor in Singapore was to ensure that Singaporeans who chose a technical route could succeed too, and all had access to housing, education and healthcare.
For example, SkillsFuture will give polytechnic and ITE graduates good career progression and allow them to earn more when they start in the workforce, by ensuring these students get a chance at hands-on learning in the industry.
As for quality housing, education and healthcare… well, the government provides housing grants (which go up to $60,000) for those looking to buy HDB flats, helps lower-income families afford kindergarten fees with KiFAS (lower-income families possibly pay as little as $1 per month), and the new MediShield Life will provide universal insurance for hospitalisation.
A lot of these schemes will benefit both the Aunty selling tissue paper packets, and you having your hawker feast. So, while we complain about the unfairness of it all, we should also admit this: income inequality is real, but the government hasn’t been sitting on its white horses. With some luck and hard work, we may be able to keep the gap from widening beyond what’s healthy.