Friday, 4 January 2013

Town Councils Graded On Corporate Governance

Updated 2 Jun 2015: AHPETC’s ‘egregious conduct’ must be punished: Shanmugam
In an 80-page judgment released on yesterday, Justice Loh had said that AHPETC’s actions were “at the height of financial irresponsibility”, quoted Mr Shanmugam

A day after a High Court raised the red flag on the goings-on in Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), Law Minister K Shanmugam followed up with hard-hitting words for the Workers’ Party, which runs the town council.

The scathing comments Justice Quentin Loh directed at AHPETC confirms his remarks previously that AHPETC’s town councillors had acted in an “unlawful” manner, said Mr Shanmugam, who is also Foreign Minister. He also zeroed in on the fact that the judge had highlighted AHPETC chairman Sylvia Lim’s misleading statements to Parliament about the financial transfers the town council was required to make.
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“I said in February, in Parliament, that the WP MPs’ conduct on AHPETC was unlawful. I said that several times. I choose my words carefully. This judgment confirms what I have said,” said Mr Shanmugam, who was giving his views on the court’s decision at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today (May 28). “The judge was scathing about the town councilors and their conduct. He said that the chairman of the WP misled Parliament. It is very serious to lie in Parliament.”
Today was not the first time Mr Shanmugam has, shorn of parliamentary privilege, described the WP town councillors’ conduct as unlawful. Parliamentary privilege refers to the legal immunity from any action in the courts for words spoken in the course of parliamentary proceedings. The aim is to allow Members to speak freely and frankly without fear of legal consequences.


Court Condemns AHPETC’s Conduct as the “Height of Financial Irresponsibility”

Despite turning down the MND’s application for court-appointed accountants to check on AHPETC’s finances, the court condemned AHPETC and its officers for the state of the town council’s accounts. Justice Quentin Loh said that there are “grave and serious” questions that have been raised about the state of AHPETC’s accounts.

“I can only say it is a travesty for AHPETC to have ignored their duties and obligations imposed on them by the Town Council Act and Town Council Financial Rules.”

Justice Loh added if AHPETC was a managing corporation subject to the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act, he would have
“no doubt that AHPETC or its officers will be exposed to the “possibility of civil liability… or, in an extreme scenario, criminal liability.”


Heng Swee Keat’s allegations – wild claims or fact?
In Parliament on Friday, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat joined in the attacks on the Workers’ Party (WP) over the management of the WP town council, AHPETC

In particular, Mr Heng claimed how WP non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), Yee Jenn Jong, and “a group of party supporters” had “walked away quickly” when the resident allegedly asked the WP “group” about the town council issue.

“But he didn’t answer and walked away quickly,” Mr Heng told the House. “So is this the answer Mr Singh (and) the WP promised to residents? A WP CEC (central executive council) member and his activists meet residents, and they evade the question?”

Mr Heng continued:

“Won’t answer auditors. Won’t answer Parliament. Won’t answer residents. Who is left in Singapore that the WP think is worthy of an answer?”

AHPETC: If MND Suspects Criminal Activity, then Report Us To The Cops!

If there’s any suspicion of criminal offences, the Ministry of National Development (MND) can report Aljunied Hougang Punggol-East Town Council (AHPETC) to the Criminal Investigation Department, or the Commercial Affairs Department.

That was the challenge AHPETC’s lawyer Peter Low put forth in court yesterday – the first day of court proceedings brought by the MND to have AHPETC appoint independent accountants to audit its finances. Mr Low argued that under the Town Council’s Act, the MND cannot bring legal proceedings against a town council.

When asked by Justice Quentin Loh if residents would just have to wait till the next election if lifts broke down or funds were mismanaged, Mr Low initially said yes.


A Vote for Change
– Spore GE 2016: A Concerned Citizen: AHPETC, when will you tell the truth?
– Kaffein-nated: Smearing Campaign?
– The Ricebowl Singapore: Whose “Egregious Conduct” Should Be Punished?
– Likedatosocanmeh: GE 2015 – no transparency from PAP, no vote for them

– Spore GE 2016: MND loses to AHPETC but wins a Strategic Decision
– Zhun Bo, Singapore?!: What next for AHPETC?
– SgPolitics: Research say PAP in strong position; next GE sooner rather than later
– Asian Correspondent: AHPETC, MND & “argy-bargy” issue of Government grants
– All Singapore Stuff: PAP’s Election Tactics Will Blow Up In Their Own Faces

– TOC: Residents in AHPETC denied 2-yrs worth of gov grants w/o any valid reason
– Reflections on SG: Technically Insolvent Town Councils
– The Ricebowl Spore: Is Lee Hsien Loong Sleeping on the Job or Just Bored?

– Talking Singapore: AHPETC is Insolvent … WP Fail!
– Bertha Harian: Caught in the middle: Residents in AHPETC
– Blogging for Myself: AHPETC running out of money soon
– Zhun Bo, Singapore?!: AHPETC: Breaking the law… and breaking the bank?

– Yawning Bread: The reporters who wouldn’t let me ignore the Funeral
– Blogging for Myself: PM Lee: Next GE about leadership renewal
– Spore GE 2016: AHPETC: Lawless in Aljunied or WP Laws in Aljunied?
– Zhun Bo, Singapore?!: AHPETC is like a period: Better late than never


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NParks do not work with WP at Aljunied GRC, only deal with PAP grassroots

Over at Aljunied GRC, Singapore’s government statutory board National Parks (NParks) has been exposed to be only working with PAP grassroots and not with the legitimate Workers’ Party MPs and their WP grassroots. PAP grassroot leader Victor Lye Thiam Fatt, posted on his Facebook page a photo of himself with a NParks officer, Yvonne, to discuss about the developments of the grass areas next to the two new estates – Parkview BTO and Parkland DBSS – at Upper Serangoon Crescent.

This is not the first time NParks have been accused of being a political tool of the ruling political party. On the 2nd of October 2014, NParks personnels with its director Chia Seng Jiang, attempted to relocate a political protest against the CPF at the Hong Lim Park, to make way for an event which had invited PAP Minister Teo Ser Luck. There was no demarcation notice prior to the event and the NParks personnels threatened to revoke the CPF protest’s permit if its organizers do not make way.

Even more appalling, the NPark personnels did not approach the other event’s organizers to negotiate on the use of Hong Lim Park. Hong Lim Park is the only gazetted area allowed for protests, yet when the NParks approved the CPF protest event, it allowed another mega event to use the park instead of advising them to stage their event elsewhere.

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Tit-for-tat between MND, Workers' Party over AHPETC’s financial audit rumbles on
A part of the residential area in Hougang Single-member Constituency in Singapore. The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council is being taken to court by the National Environment Agency for failing to apply for a licence to operate and organise a trade fair starting 9 January 2014. (Yahoo file photo)
UPDATE Sat, 15 Feb 1150AM: Workers' Party links audit issues to post-GE handover, MND dismisses claims

The Workers' Party says "information gaps" due to the post-2011 General Election handover led to independent auditors being unable to verify certain figures during a recent audit of the  
Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

In a Friday statement, the WP asked the Ministry of National Development to assist with the audit and in closing some of these "information gaps".

"At FY 2011, the auditors had tried to request information from former auditors, unsuccessfully. Repeated attempts by the Town Council (TC) to obtain information from the former Managing Agent (MA) and government authorities, such as asking MND / the Housing and Development Board... did not yield answers. Attempts in FY 2012 to get the information were also unsuccessful. Unless those agencies with the required information furnish them to the TC, it is likely that information gaps will remain and the accounts will continue to be qualified every year," said the statement. [FULL STATEMENT HERE]

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REQUEST FOR MND’S ASSISTANCE AND AUDIT OF AHPETC

We refer to the media statement by the Ministry of National Development (MND) released on the evening of 13 February 2014.  Therein, MND highlighted various concerns regarding the auditor’s report on the financial statements of Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) for Financial Year 2012.  As MND’s observations as stated are incomplete and will mislead the public, it is therefore necessary to put the MND’s statement in proper perspective.

The auditors have given us a qualified report.  It is not an adverse report.  They have also stated clearly that apart from their specific observations, our books, accounts and records have been kept in accordance with the Town Councils Act. The full audited report can be found at www.ahpetc.sg.

In its media statement, MND highlighted the auditors’ inability to verify certain figures.  We do understand the auditors’ plight, as there were information gaps that existed at the handover after the General Election 2011 which to date are still not filled.  At FY 2011, the auditors had tried to request information from former auditors, unsuccessfully.  Repeated attempts by the Town Council (TC) to obtain information from the former Managing Agent (MA) and government authorities, such as asking MND / the Housing and Development Board regarding $1.12 million which the PAP-run Aljunied TC had recorded as receivables from the Citizens Consultative Committees (CCCs) for Town Improvement Projects, did not yield answers.  Attempts in FY 2012 to get the information were also unsuccessful.  Unless those agencies with the required information furnish them to the TC, it is likely that information gaps will remain and the accounts will continue to be qualified every year.  In this regard, we note that MND could well be the best party to assist the TC to resolve some of the key information gaps.

related:
Town Council Management Review Published 21 Nov 2013
Minister’s Belated Statement Uncalled For

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Aljunied resident challenged Khaw Boon Wan's Ministry of National Development (MND) to report AHPETC to the relevant authorities for legal action
TR Emeritus, 15 Feb 2014
I refer to the article “Auditors unable to fully verify AHPETC accounts for second year; MND concerned” (Straits Times, Feb 14).

I am commenting as a resident of Aljunied and as a Singaporean, and not in the context of having qualified as a Chartered Secretary (former Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators), former Accredited Investment Fiduciary Auditor and past president of the Society of Financial Service Professionals. It has also been a very long time since I was involved in annual reports or matters relating to corporate governance.

Since as I understand it – this is the second year in a row and more than a year has lapsed since Aljunied’s previous governance issues – why is it that Aljunied has not been taken to task or charged in court by the relevant authorities? You mean “expressing concern” is all that you can do for a second year - and you are not going to anything about it? Full story

Related: MND responds to AHPETC’s 14 Feb statement - TR Emeritus

Uncle Leong challenges MND to sue AHPETC


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AHPETC accounts troubles

Sian! It would be easiest if WP had failed and should be brought to task over this. But how would we know? Many of us are suspecting that this is yet another attempt by the government and the PAP to fix the opposition. Folks like me and there must be many of us have no time to follow blow by blow what's happening. I will leave this alone but by the next GE, the dust would have settled and become less fuzzy or controversial and then I can study and make up my mind.

If I were WP, I would conserve resources and try to do as little as possible because this is a silly David vs Goliath game. Either you have pebbles to slingshot Goliath or else you just always keep out of harms way. And if I am representative of most voters tired of all these politicking, then the WP is safe because we have lost interest. But if the WP had done wrong, they deserve to face the music.

Better worry about the next haze and spend more time and energy on the existential threat Indonesia could become someday. The PAP should not try to fix any opposition when the forever hard truth for Singapore is that she is so vulnerable. This is an absolutely stupid action as you will discover an ineffective opposition in parliament just create a far larger and dangerous one outside aided and organized by modern technologies.

related: WP vs PAP: Our unusual politics

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What happened to PAP’s “smooth handover” promise?

The statement and remarks by the Ministry of National Development (MND), in response to the audit report of the Workers’ Party (WP) town council, have raised an important issue with regards to the MND’s fairness in dealing with town councils.

The news first broke on Thursday that the auditors, Foo Kon Tan Grant Thornton, had found that it was unable to “obtain sufficient audit evidence” from the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol-East Town Council (AHPETC), to “determine the accuracy and validity of several items in the accounts.”

The WP’s chairman, Sylvia Lim, issued a statement the next day to explain why some things were not verifiable.



LUNAR NEW YEAR FLORA AND COMMUNITY FAIR AT HOUGANG CENTRAL HUB

The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council has today received a summons to attend court in relation to the Lunar New Year Flora and Community Fair held at Hougang Central Hub, a venue under its management.

The TC had initiated communications with the National Environment Agency (NEA) over its intention to run the event since 20 December 2013, with the nature of the community fair and the benefit to residents clearly stated. The event commenced on 10 January 2014.

In addition to summons against the TC as the organizer of the fair, the NEA has also issued notices to attend court and to pay fines to residents and their family members assisting there on 28, 29 and 30 January 2014.

related:
NEA is Contradicting Itself
AHPETC: NEA is Politically Motivated to Tarnish the Image of AHPETC

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Low Thia Khiang: "Time for WP-run town councils & NEA to move on"

Integrity of 'Public Procurements' Vs Integrity of 'Ceiling Cleaning'

PM thru his Office had fired another exchange in the AHPETC ceiling cleaning saga stating that charges against WP remains 'unrebutted' and raised serious questions of integrity and honesty of WP.

On the other hand, the Auditor General Office has just release its report of procurement lapses in our Civil Service involving millions of Public dollars similar to it's 2012 report.

Is there integrity involving an alleged couple thousands of dollars against millions of our people's money?

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Charges against WP MPs remain: PMO


There was another exchange of statements in the Aljunied-Hougang- Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) saga on Saturday.

Responding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's statement on Friday, Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang said the party had already made its position known and did not find it "productive to continue" the argument.

The Prime Minister's Office described this as a "non-statement" and said "serious charges" against two of the party's MPs remained "unrebutted".

related:
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Keeping town councils honest and clean

The ongoing spat over town council contracts and appointments, with both sides trading charges of shenanigans and wrongdoings, is a worrying sign of things to come. The proposed strategic review of town councils that is under way is both timely and necessary. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

We had lived in the Housing Board block in Yishun for several years when one day, a new signboard went up on the side of the red-brick building.

It was one of those illuminated signs that bore the block number. It was the first sign of the arrival of the new town council, which had also put up signs nearby to make clear to all of us in the neighbourhood that we were now part of this new public entity.

What a waste of resources, I recall thinking at the time, not just to install these, but to keep them burning bright through the night, every night.



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OPINION: After the childish bickerings, issue of conflict of interest in AIM-PAP TC software deal still lingers
Andrewlohhp.wordpress.com, 21 May 2013
The simple fact of the matter is this: a contract was awarded by 14 PAP-run town councils to a PAP-owned company – a company, mind you, which for 22 years no one knew existed.

Here is the sting: any profits made from such transactions with AIM would go directly into PAP coffers, since AIM is a PAP company, unlike the WP case where any profits do not go into the party’s accounts since the management agency involved, FMSS, is not a WP-owned company. 

While “AIM did not make a profit from the TCMS transaction in 2010 [and] its directors were not paid any fees and it charged only a fee to cover its operational costs”, this really is beside the point.

The issue here is that a political party – in fact any political party which owns such a private company providing such services – can benefit politically from such deals. If AIM had made a profit, or had paid its directors, the point would be more stark, and the public outcry would be more devastating to the party. Full story


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Sylvia Lim drops the bombshell on AIM issue!

When the AIM issue emerged a few months ago,  PAP's Dr. Teo explained that the move to have an open tender to sell the town council software was recommended by consultants. Several software companies collected the tender document but nobody responded so AIM wanting to help the town councils decided to bid for the contract. 

"The TCs advertised the tender in the Straits Times on 30 June 2010. Five companies collected the tender documents. These were CSC Technologies Services Pte Ltd, Hutcabb Consulting Pte Ltd, NCS, NEC Asia Pte Ltd and Action Information Management Pte Ltd (“AIM”).

I am aware that NCS considered bidding but in the end, decided not to do so as it was of the view that the IP rights to software developed in 2003 on soon to be replaced platforms were not valuable at all.

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AIM saga - MND's failure to distinguish politics from policies

Sometime after the last General Election, soon after I agreed to act as the Chief Editor of The Online Citizen, a junior staff from the PAP Government asked if he could meet me in my capacity as head of TOC, as well as some other young people from TOC to discuss how disenchanted young people may be engaged.

I met him soon after with some friends from TOC, and at this meeting, this person emphasised that he had taken leave and was meeting us in his personal capacity. His message to us was simple. He said that the Government was apolitical, that we should not confuse politics of a political party with policy initiatives of the Government, and that he wished that youths would see this distinction and would work with the Government in making better policies.

Even though I knew that it was impossible to totally divorce politics from policies  and even if this junior staff's proposal sounded like a tired old proposal by the Government to engage, it sounded sincere enough, coming soon after General Election 2011, that this Government will choose engaging the disenchanted over Party politics.

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Town Councils: If it's not broken, don't fix it

After a five-month-and- counting dispute between the PAP and the WP over town council management, I went away thinking that everyone had blood on their hands.

And in a way, that’s as it should be. What the whole time-consuming episode has shown us is that town council management is absolutely drenched with politicking.

In one corner, we have the PAP, which sold its town councils’ IT software to a $2 company owned by former MPs, which then leased its use back to the town councils, with a one-month termination clause should an opposition party take over.

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AIM-Gate

– My Singapore News: Jeremy Chen – Nation Wide Town Council Management System
– Blogging for Myself: Technology to make govt more honest
– Thetwophilo’s Blog : We Need Real Political Leaders At The National Level
– Singapore Kopi Tok: The Town Council Finger Pointing
– Support Site for the Unemployed: Political implications for opposition and government
– Ravi Philemon: AIM saga – MND’s failure to distinguish politics from policies
– TRE: Did the Chief of Government Communication help draft Dr Teo’s press statement?
– [Old Post] Little Stories: PAP Town Councils – What A Fiasco
– TOC: AIM debate in Parliament: (Round 4) – Revisiting conflicts of interest?


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A thief shouting "thief, thief!" – The latest blame show of AIM gate
{It takes so many years for the PAP to finally acknowledge and agree with “paper qualifications alone are not a ticket to success.”  The hard truth and verdict of current AIM gate can also be discovered later, the sooner the better in 2016.}


There is a Chinese saying “贼喊捉贼” (Zéi hǎn zhuō zéi) perhaps can best describe the AIM dilemma that PAP is facing.  A thief is shouting and crying for attention for others to catch a thief.  With the pro-government main stream media, “A thief shouting “thief, thief!” has received good coverage in Singapore.   However, this is only one side of the story from the PAP.

But a “thief” is a “thief”. Nevertheless, for the interest of all, the thief should not stop behaving like a “police”.  It is playing with fire and the consequence is beyond everyone’s imagination.
 
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Price Of A Patriot

If you require proof Khaw Boon Wan is no gentleman, read how he addressed Ms Sylvia Lim in his closing remarks of the MND Review "debate":

"This is self-righteous and - pardon me for saying so - arrogant. Many of us in this House have been serving Singapore for decades, long before she entered this House.  Please, don't behave as if you're the only patriot in this House."

It kind of sets you thinking. Firstly, the oldest man in the House already said Singapore is not yet a nation - patriots are normally associated with nationhood. Then there's this definition of a patriot as a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion. But how can anyone honestly do that when our country has been raped beyond recognition by members in the House who have sold it out to foreign interests, and diluted the national core to a fraction of its original composition? Even the kids of the future generation are not spared the ravaging pillage and plunder of the rapacious horde.

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Khaw Boon Wan's Ministry of National Development clears the controversial PAP Town Council-AIM software deal, which PM Lee gladly accepts
Yahoo! News Singapore, 3 May 2013
A probe into the sale of the People's Action Party (PAP)'s Town Council management software to Action Information Management (AIM) has found no evidence of any misuse of public funds.

A report submitted to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong by the Ministry of National Development (MND) found that the controversial AIM deal had complied with the Town Councils Act and Town Council Financial Rules.

In its findings, the report stated that the main issue at hand was whether the interests of residents had been protected, if there had been a conflict of interest for the parties in the deal and if there had been any misuse of public funds.

In a press release Lee said that the government "accepted the findings". Full story
Related:

  1. PM Lee: I accept the findings of MND review – AIM deal is ok - TR Emeritus
  2. Hsien Loong accepts MND’s review on AIM - My Singapore News
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Related: Review Of Corporate Governance In Town Councils

Workers' Party Chairman Sylvia Lim files adjournment motion for next Parliamentary sitting on safeguarding public interest in town council management
Facebook.com/workersparty, 8 Jan 2012

Link

Related:
PAP uses clout to deny services to opposition constituency - Asia Sentinel

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has asked the Ministry of National Development (MND) to fully review the transaction of PAP Town Council's management software to Action Information Management (AIM) in 2010.

In a media statement, Mr Lee said he is calling for the review in the interest of transparency and maintaining trust in the system, for MND to "satisfy itself that public funds were safeguarded and residents' interests were not compromised".

He said MND will take a broad-based approach, including re-examining the fundamental nature of town councils, with a view to ensuring high overall standards of their corporate governance. 

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MND to review AIM transaction and corporate governance in town councils

MR LEE'S STATEMENT IN FULL:

Last week, Mayor Teo Ho Pin explained the circumstances of the sale of Town Council (TC) management software belonging to PAP TCs in an open tender to Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM) in 2010. The transaction was not raised as an issue by any of the external auditors who audited the FY2010 accounts of these TCs.

In the interest of transparency and maintaining trust in the system, I have asked the Ministry of National Development (MND) to review this transaction fully, and satisfy itself that public funds were safeguarded and residents' interests were not compromised.

With a view to ensuring high overall standards of corporate governance in TCs, MND will take a broad-based approach, including re-examining the fundamental nature of TCs. MND has begun the review, which is expected to take a month or two.

PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT:

Town Councils are autonomous bodies managed by elected Members of Parliament and governed by the Town Councils Act which MND administers. The MND Town Council Review Team is led by Mr Tay Kim Poh, MND's Deputy Secretary. The team will report to Permanent Secretary, MND. Planning began last week and field activities should start soon. The team looks forward to the cooperation of all TCs.

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A different look at this AIMishambles

AIMgate is such a clichéd term; I prefer AIMishambles to keep up with the times, after the Oxford English Dictionary 2012 Word of the Year omnishambles. The term refers to “a situation which is seen as shambolic from all possible perspectives” and is a fitting one to describe not just the original PAP town councils-AIM transaction, but also the government’s response so far.

A lot has been said online but nothing much new since Dr Teo Ho Pin’s statement besides the brouhaha on the threat of defamation suits. There isn’t much value in the discussion when everyone is saying the same things on social media while the government is not saying much. So let me play the devil’s advocate and comment on some of the things said online, and offer some alternative explanations. Just keep an open mind and don’t shoot me for saying them.

Regardless of the intention, though, this was a deal that should never have happened because of the potential conflict of interest due to AIM’s ownership. While the government must shed more light on this AIMishambles it is now facing, we should not just read things the way we want to read them, and be prepared to accept explanations that are less exciting than our conspiracy theories.

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Does PAP pass the "smell" test?

If the PM hopes to stop social media talk (and coffeeshop talk) on the AIM saga with his lawyer's defamation letter to well-known blogger Alex Au, he will be sorely disappointed. In fact, Alex has just posted Part 6 of his legendary "PAP''s misAIMed blow" series of blogs as he had promised when he posted his apology. I admire Alex for his persistence and tenacity which can only mean one thing - that he truly believes in what he has written and done to expose questionable deeds and do society good. Well done Alex! Many other bloggers have joined in too, adding greater clarity.

Most postings have so far concentrated on the transaction itself, its propriety or lack thereof, the conflict of interest, the sale of a public-funded asset to a partisan body and many other related aspects. I have not noticed much being written about the supervisory aspects, the rules and regulations of governance which if properly and duly followed could have prevented this misAIMed episode. I hope to fill the gap with this posting.

A close symbiotic relationship? (source : www.TownCouncils.sg)

What are these rules and who are responsible for supervising them? The official website http://www.TownCouncils.sg
states:

"MND sets the broad legislative framework and financial guidelines under the Town Councils Act and Town Council Financial Rules to ensure proper governance and accountability by Town Councils. As the public housing authority, HDB advises and assists MND in its regulatory duties. HDB also works closely with Town Councils in its capacity as the owner of common property in HDB estates."

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Aim High Aim Low and Que Sara Sara

PM Lee Hsien Loong has fired his first shot in the Singapore conversation between his party owned AIM and Aljunied-Hougang Town Council.  Instead of openly supporting his party company AIM and party man Dr Teo Ho Pin’s explanation on the dispute or debate or whatever you like to name it, he shot a blogger by issuing him a lawyer’s letter.

This is really a unique way of shooting a target and perhaps this is his usual practice by not telling you where his real target is. So, we don’t know his position about the AIM-AHTC-Dr Teo argument and which side he is supporting.

By nature, AIM, a fully owned PAP company and Dr Teo, a PAP MP, PM Lee must send a clear signal to Singaporeans that he, as party secretary-general, fully, totally and 100% support the points raised and statements issued by AIM and Dr Teo.

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The AIM saga that must go on

The libel suit is a double edged sword. On one hand, any scanty accusation of corruption and improprieties are taken out of circulation. On the other hand, just because someone apologized, it doesn’t mean that the original statement is wrong. It just means that one could not get the prove required to sustain those accusation, so the accusation still stays. So all the libel suit does is make people remember that there are truths in the accusation that the someone else doesn’t want the public to find out or talk about.
But mostly importantly, we should not forget that there are still a number of unanswered questions regarding the AIM saga:
1) PAP refusing to declare how many companies they hold and which companies have dealings with the government is detrimental to the public interests. If undeclared, what this means is that there could be PAP companies running services for our various ministries. What happens when another political party takes over those ministries? Will there be a deliberate denial of services to those ministries because we have no clues which ones are politically-owned? How could this benefit the public? How many our of government services are being managed by PAP held companies? If PAP refuse to tell, we can only speculate and it is probably worst for them, because the public will see this as a sign of possible cover-up.
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Try The Other Side

In indoor bowling, the objective of the game is to roll or throw a ball to knock over pins. A strike is the term used when all 10 pins are completely knocked down with the first ball. On score sheets, a strike is symbolized by an X. The trick is aiming at the pin which will knock down all the others. Is Teo Ho Pin the critter who will bring the whole house down?

Take a look at some of the other falling pins:
Chandra Das: "as a PAP company, we wanted to be helpful to the PAP town councils";
Grace Fu: "town councils were set up to give elected representatives of political parties more say in managing their estates";
Baey Yam Keng: "we cannot forget that TCs are all political organisations"
And let's not forget those who'd rather let their lawyers speak for them.

What we see unfolding was actually foretold by Lee Kuan Yew in "Hard Truths" (page 68):
"There will come a time when eventually the public will say, look, let's try the other side, either because the PAP has declined in quality or the opposition has put up a team which is equal to the PAP and they say, let's try the other side. That day will come."
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Baey's shameless confession: TCs are political

I agree with BH and I have something to add. Baey is adding to the dumb in PAP. Why did he have to follow after Grace Fu? He is a good MP. Why did he make such a stupid mistake? The WP has adopted an honest strategy which the PAP cannot hope to win. WP has only one message: They put the people of Singapore first and that includes the WP too.

That is first class political communication. Every speech they make, every essay they write and even every song they sing ends in how and why they are putting Singaporeans and then Singapore first. As for the PAP, they claim to put Singapore first but not Singaporeans. What is Singapore without Singaporeans. It was a sleepy and mosquito infested fishing village. I remember learning that in primary school!

The PAP puts itself ahead of Singapore and to make sure it is fail safe, they booby trapped it. If the PAP goes down, they are taking Singapore along with them. Despicable and now with Baey's confession, shameless too.

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Town councils as political organisations

Here’s an interesting twist to the AIM tale: town councils are political organisations, not public organisations. That’s Baey Yam Keng’s take on how the whole saga should be viewed. The issue has been unnecessarily politicised, he said. Town councils aren’t government agencies, not run by civil servants – which I take to mean that they shouldn’t be subject to civil service norms or expectations.

He also said in Today that the question should be whether Action Information Management failed in its commitment to town councils and whether its fees are reasonable.

I wonder if he realises that he’s opening up a can of worms

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PAP TC-AIM Saga: Tampines MP Baey Yam Keng got his knickers in the knot trying to defend PAP TC-AIM controversial deal
TR Emeritus, 8 Jan 2013
Baey Yam Keng on Town Councils:
"They’re not public institutions; they’re not a public service company"
“They do not belong to the government. They’re governed by government regulations, but they’re definitely not run by civil servants; and they’re not a public agency,” Link
However in the Town Councils Act (Chapter 329A), Section 56 states that: 
 "All members, officers and employees of a Town Council and all employees of its managing agent shall be deemed to be public servants for the purposes of the Penal Code (Cap. 224). " Link

Question: If PAP Town Councils are not public institutions as claimed by Baey Yam Keng, then are Town Council staff considered as PAP employees or public servants?

Related:
Is Town Council a Public Institution or Political Institution? - Hardwarezone Forum


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AIM-PAP latest twist: Town Councils are NOT public institutions

The People’s Action Party never seems to fall short of ideas when it comes to ‘wayanging’ supposed daft Singaporeans, whenever it is caught in a situation it cannot clearly explain.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Tampines GRC, Baey Yam Keng is THE man slated for the new ‘wayang’, after Teo Ho Pin and Grace Fu’s lame attempts at explaining/side-stepping the AIM-PAP saga was squarely shot down by netizens, point-by-point.

Now behold the latest ‘twisted explaination’ to the AIM-PAP saga:
Town Councils are NOT public institutions. 
A claim which Mr Baey proudly made in his monthly FaceBook chat session on Sunday (6 January 2013).

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Public institution or political organization

The AIM saga has led many to question the nature of Town Councils. Are TCs public institutions or are they political organizations? This also brings to question whether the People’s Association is a public institution or a political organization. According to Tan Cheng Bock, TCs are public institutions. Baey Yam Keng said otherwise, that they are political organizations and the AIM saga has been over politicized. Should not that be the case since they are political organizations?

What are the differences between a political organization and a public institution? There are many and very obvious differences without having to split hairs. Academics may have a long list of definitions or what is and what is not. I would simply lay out a few cogent points of what is a public institution and what is not.

A public institution is often formed to serve the interests of the public in general, not a particular group or political party. It draws its funds from the public or from the govt. It is has no links to any political party. These should be brief and easy to understand. Political organizations are simply organizations of political parties to serve party interests.

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AIM deal begs questions: Tan Cheng Bock

Former long-time PAP backbencher Tan Cheng Bock has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the sale of computer systems used by town councils, raising several questions in a post on his Facebook page yesterday, including whether it was right and beneficial to give up ownership of software developed using public funds.

Dr Tan, who was chairman of West Coast-Ayer Rajah Town Council from 2001 to 2004, also questioned whether the town councils, as "public institutions" - a description that was disputed by Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng, who said they were "political organisations" - did the right thing selling the system to Action Information Management (AIM), "a company owned by a political party with its own agenda".

But Mr Baey, who had to field several questions on the same issue during his regular Facebook chats on Sunday, felt the matter had been unnecessarily politicised. 

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Politics and Power in Singapore

On Dec. 21, a Singapore blogger named Alex Au published a report questioning transactions between Singapore's ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and private company, Action Information Management (AIM) over a financial software system that had been developed for Singapore's town councils, which maintain the common areas of public housing flats.

Au followed up his original blog with three others delving into other concerns as the issue began to gain traction among Singaporeans.

For his troubles, Au received a demand letter from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saying that his claims were "false and baseless" and asking him to take down his first blog post -- along with accompanying comments -- and issue an apology. It was a familiar move: the Singapore government has often been criticized for using defamation suits to silence dissenters.

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PAP mis-AIMed, faces blowback, part 6

Facebook postings about the sale of town council software to Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM), a PAP-owned company, fell off dramatically soon after news broke that Lee Hsien Loong’s lawyers had sent me a letter. Possibly, people felt very unsure what was safe to talk about anymore.

Therefore, I think it is important for me to clarify that the statements in the article that I had to take down, and that Lee took exception to, were not, strictly speaking, statements about the sale of the software to AIM, but phrases and sentences pertaining to him. They were statements and questions I had asked that Lee felt questioned his integrity, corruptibility and abuse of power should he not launch an investigation. The 21 readers’ comments that the lawyers cited as defamatory were of the same vein.

I have apologised for them, though readers might want to consider the broader ecology of defamation threats and suits in Singapore. I draw your attention to Angela Faye Oon’s Facebook posting of Friday 4 January 2013 (I hope she doesn’t mind me archiving it here because many readers of Yawning Bread may not be ‘friends’ with her, but I’ll take it down if she asks), Cherian George’s comment in Journalism.sg (For whom the libel tolls: government loses even as it wins) and Tan Kin Lian’s article on his blog (Threat of defamation suit).

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Will This Year be any Different from the Last?

So now Big Brother has proven that nothing in essence has changed. With a single act, any goodwill it has cultivated through months of “engaging citizens” via the National Conversation and the social media has now gone down the drain.

But as Alex Au wrote in his response to media queries over Lee Hsien Loong’s letter of demand to remove his earlier blog posts, “This should not distract from the issue of the sale of town council software to Action Information Management Pte Ltd”.

Few of us have Alex’s courage, and many of us who have been following and/or commenting on the developments of the AIM incident are now sobered by the very real threat of legal action from none other than our political chief.

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Too many cobwebs, still

The so-called response from the Chairman of the ruling party’s Town Councils (on what is turning into a debacle) regarding the business activities of his party which seem entangled with affairs of state — is not a good start to the year. The fellow’s reply can be found here: link.

This only gives rise to more questions that need to be asked and addressed:

1. Now that we know the ruling party has a private company, how many other companies does it own and run, and what are its assets/turnover, and who are its members? (The opposition does not seem to have any such business interests).

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PAP defamation suits and falling standards

I can't believe they are quarreling over letters. Why the letter from AIM did not have the usual, "with reference to..." that would have cleared all the doubt by placing this letter of termination in the right place. And a hotmail address for email? The Upper Changi Road address is the PAP HQ.

As the PAP forms the government today I start counting when the day comes where they cannot even reliably clear the daily rubbish. The rot which must have began sometime back has become too visible to hide. They aren't even embarrassed by their lack of professionalism. With such sloppiness how is AIM capable of managing large software systems? The director who signed on the letter didn't spot these mistakes? Did he even read the letter he had signed?

I never forget what the PM said in one of his earliest rally speeches. That we should be more tolerant of errors and think in terms of  "safe to fail" rather than fail safe. I thought that was really arrogant. How do you know when and what is safe to fail? Often you don't have enough wisdom to do that. From then on the standard of governance keep falling. 2012 was a banner year of government failures and corruption charges brought against senior civil servants and educators. I fear what 2013 might bring.

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Doing the Right Thing


Many a time we have been reminded by our leaders that we must do what is right. This is because we want fairness for all.

The recent controversy of town councils (TCs) allowing the ruling political party company (AIM) to buy over and manage the IT software programs of TCs, beg a few questions, especially when the company may not serve ‘due to material change’, an opposition ward.

This soft ware is developed using public funds by town councils. Is it right for the TCs to give up ownership in this manner?

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Is PM Lee Aiming to use a bazooka to kill an ant and scare off the rest?

I had read Alex’s allegedly defamatory post before it was removed today (search online and you can still find it), and no where did he mention the PM nor accuse him of being corrupt!  And yet, PM’s lawyer cleverly put up a case by sewing bits and pieces together. Alex’s post was said to contain “very serious suggestions of criminal breach of trust”, and because he referred to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, “of corruption” as well, reported TODAY.

According to the papers, the lawyer had highlighted 21 comments on Alex’s post that he said, when either taken together with the blog post or read on their own, would suggest that PM Lee “is guilty of corruption in relation to the AIM transaction and will abuse his powers to cover up the matter or prevent any investigation into his corruption”.

Well, well, so now it looks like the big guns will fire even if they are not mentioned and even if the comments that they find offensive were not made by the blogger but by those who comment on the blog! 

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How not to manage irritating blog postings: Lessons in info management from PM Lee versus Alex Au's Yawning Bread blog

If you feel your good name has been hurt by a blog post, the last thing you need or want to do is to direct eyeballs to that blog.

Above all, having the mainstream media (MSM) publish your grievances on Page 1 and televise them on the nightly TV news bulletin is a surefire way of igniting interests in the very blog that you feel so aggrieved about.

This traffic spurt is exactly what the local blog, Yawning Bread (click here), has enjoyed.

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Mind your own IT business

Singaporean, or at least those politically-aware, would have seen it coming. A reportedly shell company owned entirely by the PAP buying up a software system that was developed with tax-payer money for the sake of maintaining a software system that experts have judged as "obsolete and unmaintainable" defies every rule of business logic. But let me not be accused of repeating anything libelous. After reading through whatever is there on the internet regarding the AIM-AHTC saga, both from AHTC and AIM, I came away with the distinct impression that AHTC has not explained the situation clearly and fully, and AIM has not been convincing at all with their explanation.

This is why the blog posts on this subject by Mr Alex Au on his Yawning Bread blog has not only captured the attention of the social media, it has been vetted through a fine toothcomb by the PM's lawyers, who have determined that parts of the posts are libelous and threatened to sue.

Truth be told, I don't read Yawning Bread at all, but due to the publicity that has been stirred up, I have also begun my "fine toothcombing" of the posts, some of which are quite lengthy and appears to have been a product of extensive research. Dr Teo Ho Pin's explanation (defence) of the issues raised by both WP's Sylvia Lim, bloggers and social media, pales in comparison. To me, his explanation raised more questions that it answered. Quite obviously, he has never been an IT professional, but trying to explain an IT business. It's like expecting Ms Saw to run a train company, no?

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Speaking Plainly

For instance, the full text of the Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) letter dated June 10, 2011 clearly indicates:
"We would like to inform you that Aljunied-Hougang Town Council is in the process of developing a Town Council Management System to support its operations effectively.
We would like to thank AIM for the assistance rendered to us in preparing the migration of database to the new system.
The new system is targeted to go live on 1 August 2011. While the new system goes live, we are planning to have the AIMS-TCMS (Financial Module) running concurrently till 31 August 2011, so as to ascertain the reliability of the new system.
As such, we would like to put up a request to continue to use the AIMS-TCMS till 31 August 2011, for your favourable consideration please."
The smoking bit in Action Information Management (AIM)'s ungracious response dated June 22, 2011, as supplied by AIM, is highlighted:
"We hereby give notice in accordance with Clause 9.3 of the Conditions of the above Contract that, owing to material changes to the membership of the Town Council, we will cease to allow Aljunied Town Council the use of the intellectual property and system functions relating to the developed application software currently used by the Town Council after a period of at least one month from the date of this notice.
The provision of the developed application software will therefore be terminated with effect from 1 August 2011."
It is clear as day AIM had no intention of acceding to AHTC's simple request for a one month period to ascertain the reliability of the new system. That's chao kuan in action.

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The PAP AIM Saga

Predictably, with the PAP finding it increasingly difficult to explain why Aljunied Town Council sold their computer system to a PAP-owned company when Aljunied was controlled by the PAP, the PM decided on the nuclear option of lawyering up. A lawyer's letter was sent to Yawning Bread demanding an apology, which Yawning Bread complied with.

Separately, Tan Chuan Jin did the same to Vincent Wijeysingha over comments he made in relation to the SMRT strike fiasco.

This is what you do when you realize that you are losing control of the conversation. Send in the lawyers and shut down the entire conversation.

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Doc, pull the other leg, its got bells on it

There is no basis to suggest that the transaction to provide computer services to the PAP Town Councils by the company, Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM), was improper or disadvantageous to the town councils.

Coordinating Chairman of the PAP-run town councils, Dr Teo Ho Pin made this point in his latest rebuttal to comments made by Ms Sylvia Lim, the Chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1245602/1/.html

Really? If there was “No basis to suggest AIM transaction was improper”, why did the explanation take so long to come out?

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AIM reiterates, town council served notice first

Following two further statements on the issue earlier today, Action Information Management (AIM) has come out to reiterate that it was the Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) that had initiated the termination of AIM's services.

Earlier today, AHTC's chairman Sylvia Lim disclosed a copy of the termination notice by AIM, dated June 22, 2011.

But AIM said the termination process began with a letter from the town council, sent to AIM, on June 10, 2011, which is already in the public domain. 

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Defamatory statements

Alex Au had made a statement somewhat along the following lines,  "if the the Attorney General Chambers and the Corrupt Practice Investigation Bureau are independent bodies, they should mount an investigation into the sale of the town council software to a company owned by a political party". Some people said that this statement could be regarded as defamatory.

I do not understand why this should be the case; I consider it to be a fair statement.

I had met two Swedish public figures and told them about the background to this matter, shortly after they had read the news in the social media about the threat of legal action against Alex Au. Their first reaction was, "This transaction would be considered in our country to be corruption". I did not ask them to explain why this was the case; anyway, they are just expressing their opinion.

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Why PM Lee Sued Alex Au and the Implications

First, by threatening to sue one person, they hope that it will silence all other bloggers. If Teo’s statement cannot silence people, then you go direct to the people to silence them.

b)      Second, you need to identify the most, or one of the most influential bloggers, whose blog has garner a lot of attention and discussion, so that you eliminate one key channel where discussion is taking place, and take out one of the bubbles of discussions, to semi-cripple the discussion.

c)       Third, you identify a blogger which you can name in mainstream media. You cannot threaten to sue bloggers which have not been named in mainstream media because this will only prompt the Singaporeans who seldom read online news and who rely heavily on the mainstream media to then search online for this blog(s) for new sources of information. Alex Au’s blog is one of the few blogs which has been spoken about in the mainstream media, and based on the above, he is the most logical blogger that should be threatened. But, Alex is a seasoned player.

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Legal Dirty Politics

Do you know that sometimes in trying to prevent something, you can actually make things worse? If anyone doubts that, I strongly suggest you read about the sage between M/s Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM) and the PAP town councils.

Last week, I blogged on the case and since then there had been twists and further twists on the matter. As the initial defense by the PAP-owned IT company has been widely discredited by the Singapore public, Coordinating Chairman of the 14 PAP Town Council (I didn’t even know there’s such a position), Teo Ho Pin, issued a 26 paragraph statement explaining the PAP's Town Councils rationale for the sale.

Like the initial defense by AIM, the Singapore public did not accept it as there were gaping holes in his statement. The question of conflict of interest was not touched on and while Mr. Teo said that the Town Council will save $8000 in the leaseback agreement, we have no idea how that figure came about as no one seem to know the cost of developing the original software

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Manuscripts don’t burn, PAP

So, the local Behemoth has struck again—demanding that blogger Alex Au remove his series of posts questioning the AIM transaction or face legal action. What a way to start off the year, a slap in the face of an ongoing national conversation where unwelcome questions are met by the wrath of the demon cat in place of honest engagement, accountability and transparency.

In truth, what Mr Au had written was no worse than what numerous other blogs and websites and their commenters have already written on this dodgy transaction. But the government can’t sue everyone, so this is their idea of sending a signal of zero tolerance, by targeting the most prominent one they can get hold of.

Very aptly, the most famous quote from The Master and Margarita is “manuscripts don’t burn”, as explain on this website:

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Is Alex Au Sue-Proof?
Alex dodges another one

Lao gay Alex Au got another warning letter about his recent blog post on AIM which insinuated that some PAP members, including the PM himself, were corrupt. The warning was delivered by famous PAP attack legal pit bull, Davinder Singh. Alex Au, as usual to save his own skin which is the natural thing to do for any of us, apologised reluctantly and took down his blog post. Nevertheless, Chee Soon Juan or the late JBJ would not have backed down though and relished the chance of being political martyrs. Alex has more sense, just like Vincent Wijeysingha who apologised to Tan Chuan-Jin for some other defamatory comments.

This is not the first time lao Au got into trouble. Actually the 3rd time since last year - 1st was his blog post that had fleeting mention of Shanmugam's affair, the 2nd was his comments that the courts protected plastic-looking Woffles Wu. I would think this would be the last chance for Alex Au before the insecure powers that be castrate him as Alex seems bent on doing what he does best.

Really, Alex Au whether you like his postings or not, his SDP politics or not, is an insightful blogger to agree or disagree with. But to cow him into silence and make him apologise, this style cannot work anymore and is going to boomerang hard on the PAP, especially when there is a SMC By-E coming close. Alex is not The Real Singapore or that type of blogger which deserve to be slapped back by the PAP for stupid rumour-mongering or just simply, stupidity. 

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I cannot help asking

I have an opinion, and I'm sure you do too; for we are creatures endowed with an intellectual thinking faculty, that, coupled with the social nature that we are, are expected to think, opine, and share our views from our perspectives with another whom we trust and respect would have the same intellectual capacity to discern for himself what he hears, read or see. Anyone who begrudges or finds fault with another over this basic element of the human creature is nothing but a bully, and makes him very much less of a human than the one he bullies into submission. 

I have my own opinion about Pinky. I also have an opinion about Alex Au. Both opinions are, unfortunately, not as glowing as some others may have. I have engaged Alex before under a pseudonym over some LGBT issues. Very much like Lazarus and his band of jumping lizards, we were at loggerheads with each other over our opinions on the extent of gay rights and their mannerisms of rights activities. Fortunately for me, i have the Brotherhood from the planetary Farming Land, represented by its liaison officer to help me out in those days. 

Yet, i do not go out of my way to stalk Alex, to catch him slip and fall just so that i could laugh at his misfortune and take advantage of the situation to make it worse by threatening to beat him to a pulp when he is down on the ground. No, I have my human dignity to content with, and that dignity would ensure that i accord the unfortunate soul the dignity accorded to me from the unseeable Planetary Land 

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A Season Of Apologies

On Friday, 4 January 2013, lawyers for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong advised blogger Alex Au that comments on his post ("PAP mis-AIMed, faces blowback") defamed Lee by various allegations of corruption on his part in relation to the transaction between the PAP Town Councils and Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM) and "will abuse his powers to cover up the matter or prevent any investigation into his corruption".

Because Au moderated the comments, the lawyers argued, it meant that he “subscribe to and endorse” the views expressed by those comments". Au has since removed the post and undertook "not to make any further allegations to the same or similar effect".

On following Saturday morning, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) treasurer Dr Wijeysingha put up a post on the Facebook social networking site to "apologise unreservedly" to Acting Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin for supposedly defamatory allegations that are "wholly untrue and false". It referred to the December 2 note on the illegal SMRT Chinese bus drivers strike where, it was alleged, he insinuated Tan had been either dishonest or deceptive in his handling of the issue.


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao didn't sue, instead he request for probe into family fortune
The Telegraph, 5 Nov 2012
Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, is reported to have asked for a formal investigation into his family's wealth after claims that it is as high as £1.67 billion.

Mr Wen, 70, sent a letter asking for the investigation to the Politburo Standing Committee, China's equivalent of the Cabinet, according to the South China Morning Post.

Last month, the New York Times reported that Mr Wen's close relatives had become enormously wealthy during his ten-year tenure. Full story

Yahoo! News Singapore, 4 Jan 2013
In the latest twist to the saga over a computer systems deal involving Singapore’s ruling People's Action Party (PAP), blogger Alex Au was on Friday served a letter demanding he take down a blog post about the issue.

In the letter, signed by Drew and Napier Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, Au’s post was said to contain “very serious suggestions of criminal breach of trust”, and because he referred to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, “of corruption” as well, reported TODAY.    Full story


Alex Au's cockiness contributory to his own undoing

So Alex has received a lawyer's letter one more time. (AIM saga and Alex Au - when PAP can't argue, just sue)

I can't help feel that there is a degree of poetic justice served, in spite of the fact I am against PM's action. The reason is that Alex Au, for all the hyped up claims by rights activists that he is a fighter for free expression, has his own form of bias and censorship.

Alex Au, just like the PAP, censors opinions that are not in line with his opinion. More importantly, he disguises his censorship with the fallacious idea that he wants to keep his website "clean", when in actual fact, it is just a guise to censor what he does not agree.

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Learning why Au's post was libelous

I had to read Au's Part 1 the third time to pick out what might be perceived as libelous statements and I could only identify one paragraph (I ignore comments, almost never read them as they are often flippant and thoughtless). The one which mentioned CPIB.

I don't know how many people take Alex Au's blog seriously. I don't and rarely read it unless pointed to by someone or especially when there is legal action like now. I find it more valuable to read Lucky Tan's Diary of a Singaporean Mind. He had weighed in on this issue too and I thought it was inappropriate to compare the town council computer system with the American social security system. The equivalent would be the CPF system. These bloggers don't like the PAP government.

For me I am still issue specific. I saw this as just under handed politics which is business as usual in most developed polities. It shows us how human we are and always vulnerable to failing and corruption. I do not buy that the MIW is that white. Just trying to be white and if the stakes are too high, forget about staying white. The MIWs have no non negotiable ideals. Everything can be sold for the right price. I only hope those moments don't come by too often. The last time we sold our souls for the two IRs which even Hong Kong will not entertain.



GRACE FU EMBARRASS HERSELF BY DEFENDING PAP'S AIM WITHOUT DOING HOMEWORK
Grace FU AIM

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu has commented on the saga surrounding the People's Action Party town councils' sale of their computer software to PAP-owned company Action Information Management (AIM). The issue started when AHTC Chairman Sylvia Lim said that her town council's less-than-stellar performance in the Dec 14 Town Council Management Report was because it had to develop new IT systems within two months after AIM terminated its contract last August.

Here is Ms Fu's post in full:

Why take aim at AIM? - Well, my take on the recent AHTC/AIM issue is that the aim was really to hope that we would forget how this all started. Before we get all excited over this comment, let me explain the background of Town Councils. 

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PAP mis-AIMed, face blowback, part 5

On Friday, 4 January 2013,  a letter from Drew and Napier came to me. Lawyer and former PAP member of parliament, Davinder Singh, acting for the firm which represents Lee Hsien Loong (in his personal capacity) said Lee was defamed by various allegations of corruption on his part in my article dated 21 December 2012, titled ‘PAP mis-AIMed, faces blowback’, as well as in 21 comments following it made by readers (referred to as ‘posts’ in the letter below). Because I moderated the comments, the letter said, it meant I “subscribe to and endorse” the views expressed by those comments.

I accept that I was wrong and am publishing an apology and undertaking as requested:


Readers can look forward to a further article from me further discussing the effect of this turn of events on the AIM saga. Yes, there will be a part 6. Stay tuned.


The AIM saga – lawsuits not the way forward

There is much unhappiness that has resulted from the sale of Town Council computer systems to AIM, a private company owned by former PAP MPs. In responding to critics, Dr Teo Ho Pin, the coordinating MP for PAP-held Town Councils, issued a statement which has raised more questions.

The attempt to clarify his party's position over the matter has backfired. The situation is exacerbated with Mr Lee Hsien Loong now taking Mr Alex Au to task by sending the blogger a letter to cease and desist.

(Acting Minister for Manpower has also demanded, and received, an apology from Dr Vincent Wijeysingha over the latter's posting of an article on the SMRT bus drivers episode.)


AHTC COMMITTED TO SAFEGUARDING RESIDENTS’ INTERESTS DESPITE CHALLENGES THROWN AT IT

Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) is not able to verify the accuracy of the reasons for the sale cited by Dr Teo, as the documents AHTC has on hand, including the tender documents, do not disclose many of the details mentioned.  In any event, the reasons given underscore three fundamental facts: first, that the PAP-managed Town Councils sold off the computer and financial systems developed with public monies to a vehicle of the PAP, just prior to the General Election; second, according to the most recent statement of Mr Chandra Das, AIM’s Chairman, AIM “as a PAP company” wanted to “be helpful to the PAP Town Councils”, and; third, that the PAP sees no issue with an arrangement allowing them to terminate the software agreements with any Town Council with one month’s notice if there is a material change in the Town Council’s membership.

With regards to the one-month termination clause in the AIM contract, Dr Teo considered it “reasonable”.  However, he himself indicated that it would take “maybe 18 to 24 months, or even longer” to assess new software and develop a replacement system.  In our view, therefore, the question of how the PAP-managed Town Councils acted in the public (and residents’) interest in relinquishing their ownership of the systems to AIM upon such conditions has still not been answered.  We leave it to the public to make their own judgment.

To allay any doubts about whether AIM had indeed terminated the software agreement with AHTC, a copy of the termination notice is attached for public scrutiny.


AHTC’s media release in response to Dr Teo’s reasons for sale to AIM

Just a while after Ms Sylvia Lim issued the press statement to the media. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, 2nd Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and 2nd Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Grace Fu posted on her facebook status update, stating that 18 months should be more than enough for WP to have taken over the operation of AHTC and questioned why was AHTC the only Town Council whose grading for corporate governance is still pending for its auditor’s report.

Ms Grace also said in this status update that it was a false statement given by Ms Sylvia Lim, Chairman of the AHTC for alleging that PAP terminated the financial systems provided by AIM, but instead it was Workers’ Party (WP) who served notice to terminate AIM’s services. It was Workers’ Party responsibility to provide services in the AHTC and not the government’s nor the PAP’s responsibility.

Together with AHTC’s media release released on 5th January 2013, the termination notice given by AIM was posted on AHTC’s website, showing that AIM served a notice to AHTC in June 2011 that it will be terminating its services in August 2011, just one month after the General Elections was held on 7th May 2011.

AIM-PAP Saga : Just too many unanswered questions

There is so much online and offline discussion on the topic and a whole pile of unanswered questions piling up when Dr. Teo HP promised an explanation. Unfortunately, the explanation was highly unsatisfactory and the unhappiness surround the issue rocketed. Singaporeans depend on town council to provide essential services at a affordable cost would like more transparency and accountability on this matter and greater clarity and more data  will certainly help us to make a better assessment.

It is unfortunate the threat of defamation lawsuits came so quickly when there are so many legitimate questions still waiting for answers. The concerns of Singaporeans have to be satisfactorily addressed otherwise there will be a further loss of trust.

In page 6 of today's The New Paper one of the companies that collected the tender document, Hutcabb Consulting, shed some light on what was in the documents. Hutcabb Consulting has an office located in Jalan Kilang and counts the Attorney-General Chamber and Ministry of Foreign Affairs as its clients: 

Stop being so childish, prime minister

It is barely the first week of the new year and we already have a threat of legal action from the People’s Action Party (PAP) / Government. PM Lee Hsien Loong had sent a lawyer’s letter to well known and very much respected blogger, activist and writer, Alex Au, demanding Alex removed his blog posts about Action Information Management, the PAP-owned company embroiled in the controversy over a certain computer system.

It is unclear whether PM Lee had sent the letter in his personal capacity, or as the prime minister or secretary general of the PAP. Whatever it is, the demand was clear – remove the allegedly offending post, and publish an apology, or else.

It is the same old tiring, tiresome, and tired tactic of issuing threats instead of engaging the issue or the alleged allegations. Threatening to take legal action over blog postings is, to be honest, infantile. It is childish because it does not befit the office of the prime minister to take offence so easily, when he has in his power all the resources to engage the issue, clarify any perceived falsehoods, or lay out the facts of the issue at hand. In short, he could very well take some time, have a bit of patience, and debate or discuss the issues and in the process enlighten everyone – and maybe gain a bit more respect too from his detractors.


RULING PARTY SUES GAY BLOGGER FOR POINTING OUT THE OBVIOUS
Suing people is gay

Today PM Lee issued an angry letter to happy activist Alex Au, demanding that the four-part article titled “PAP mis-AIMed, faces blowback” be taken town, together with 21 comments that dared suggest that PM Lee was guilty of corruption

The controversy over the PAP-backed firm Action Information Management (AIM), which owns the computer and financial systems used by PAP town councils, was sparked off when Aljunied Town Council, now run by the opposition Workers’ Party, received the lowest grade for corporate management in an audit of town councils conducted by the Ministry of National Development. In response, the party said that they could not replace the services provided by AIM within two months after the contract was terminated by the company “due to material changes to the membership of the Town Council

Obviously some observers were outraged at this blatant act of discrimination though most treated the incident with seasoned sangfroid


Lee vs. Au – Back to the old “National Conversation”

What’s a man to do when someone defames him online? I’m sure that many of us have been at the receiving end of insults, bullying and gossip online, and humanity in general has found a way to work with the new communication frontier of the Internet. When faced with defamation online, most people, regardless of our station, simply refute, engage or ignore it. Some of us descend to a tit-for-tat flame war, but even then, nobody is thinking of suing anybody. After all, this is the Internet, and we don’t live in lawsuit-happy America.

Not so our dear PM. Link the wrong words to his name and it’s off to court we go. I’m not sure of the man ever did try to speak to Alex Au nicely about the defamatory statements, like, “Dear Alex, could you please delete the part where you insinuated that I was corrupt?” I don’t know if he did ask nicely first, but on the face of it (and based on common practice for PAP defamation suits) it doesn’t seem like Lee did, and chose to send in the lawyers first.

…because if I can’t find you, I can’t sue you.

So there is a picture of a man who isn’t walking his talk, or to be more specific, isn’t engaging in the National Conversation. I won’t argue about whether Au did defame Lee or not, since Au has already taken down his post and agreed to apologise, and is no stranger to lawsuits like these, but I would have expected PM Lee to, in the spirit of engagement that he so publicly promotes, engage first, then sue if conversation fails.


AIM- a commercial or political entity?

Mr Teo can explain all he wants but the crux of the matter from how I see it is simply this:

To sell the software to a $2 company that has the explicit discretion whether or not to provide the license of the software to a town council simply on the basis of a significant change in the membership of the council obviously is not a commercial reason

I don’t even want to bother about listening the excuses that Teo is providing. Change in membership has no reflection on the credit worthiness of a town council. Come on, we’re talking about only $785 per month for a town council of an area- even my HDB mortgage repayment is less than this! 

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AIM indeed is a PAP entity 

As disclosed by Action Information Management (AIM) Chairman, ex-PAP MP Chandra Das, AIM is a PAP company. He disclosed this in a statement on 2 Jan [Link]:
“AIM participated in the tender not knowing other companies would not do so. The sums involved in the transactions are modest. But as a PAP company, we wanted to be helpful to the PAP Town Councils. So we were ready to take on the task and submitted the proposals to help the PAP Town Councils achieve their goals.”
Of course, one can surmise that as a PAP company, AIM, likewise, would not want to be that “helpful” to Opposition Town Councils too.

In the termination notice sent by AIM to Aljunied-Hougang Town Council which was duly produced by Ms Sylvia Lim on AHTC’s website [Copy of Termination Notice by AIM], the address of AIM was listed as:

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Response to Mr Prime Minister's Demand

Having just written to you recently [Link], I am shocked by your latest action.

How can you as Prime Minister of Singapore demand through lawyer Davinder Singh an apology from blogger Alex Au for writing his piece on the disquiet generated by Teo Ho Pin and AIM (Action Information Management Pte Ltd) owned by PAP? It is so unbecoming of a Prime Minister.

Who the devil made you do it? Your 2013 New Year speech has already put you in a bad light, why on earth would you want to add insult to your own injury? I do not understand. 

The Dummy guide to avoiding AimED fire in Singapore’s DMZ (Defamation Means Lawsuit Zone

The danger for commentators is that allegations about the possibility of criminal conduct are treated similarly by politicians as allegations about the innuendo of criminal conduct. Unless any one particular commentator has the where withal to withstand extended court cases, what is fair comment or not and whether allegations about “possible” criminal conduct represents defamation before the law can never be decided because it has never been brought before the courts.

In short the answer lies as Alex has done in his articles in raising and critiquing the answers given, calling for investigations and clarifications but resisting all temptation at raising any allegation of criminal wrong doing.

In short the PAP might have made a mistake made disingenuous comments, have not been forthcoming, the town councils might not have followed its own procurement rules, there exists substantive conflicts of interest, Teo Ho Pin has been economical with the truth and less than forth coming on some issues, but that is currently the only way to stay out of the DMZ.


For whom the libel tolls: government loses even as it wins

A week after I expressed my hope that the PAP government would stop using the defamation threat in political arguments, it has used a defamation threat in a political argument. One thing I have learnt from this (not for the first time) is that I have no future as a political consultant, and my fortune telling skills are inferior to Huat The Fish and random green parrots on Little India pavements.

The wielding of defamation law against unsubstantiated attacks has turned out to be the most significant development over the past year in the evolving relationship between the government and online critics. It used to be that defamation suits were reserved for opposition politicians and major foreign news organisations. The democratisation of criticism (now, anybody can loudly disparage Singapore’s leaders) has resulted in the democratisation of punishment (now, even a one-man-operated blog like Yawning Bread merits the nerve-wracking attention of the Istana and Drew & Napier).

Defamation law is necessary as a means of protecting people’s reputations against lies. Politicians are people too, and should enjoy the protection that the law provides. “The law of defamation is really about balancing the value of free speech and the value of reputation in a democratic society,” former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong has pointed out. In the current case, Alex Au has acknowledged that his post and accompanying comments were defamatory. He says he will take down the post and apologise.

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Is there any other better way to engage the blogging community besides suing Alex Au?

I have read through Alex Au’s blog posts and felt uncomfortable  as some of the allegations were truly hard-hitting and bordered on defamatory.

However, I disagreed with the latest Prime Minister’s defamatory suit against him.

The government is going backwards on how it is dealing with the influential blogging community by using  the legal way.


Blogger Au to remove post after PM Lee takes legal action

Exactly two weeks after he wrote a blog post on the sale of computer systems used by town councils, the founder of the popular Yawning Bread website, Mr Alex Au, has been served with a legal warning by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to take it down or face legal action.

Senior Counsel Davinder Singh of the law firm Drew & Napier, acting on behalf of PM Lee, sent the letter of demand to Mr Au yesterday. It is the third time in the past 11 months that Mr Au has been taken to task over his blog posts.

In the letter, Mr Singh said the article, headlined "PAP mis-AIMed, faces blowback", taken together with 21 other comments posted by readers, can be taken to suggest that Mr Lee is guilty of corruption in relation to the transaction between the PAP town councils and the company Action Information Management (AIM).

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Legal action against Alex Au


I am deeply disappointed at the threat of legal action that the Prime Minister has taken against blogger Alex Au.

I read his four articles again and found that he had been quite fair in his comments and had asked important questions of public interest. I did not find anything defamatory in the articles. (Correct me, if I am wrong).

The defamatory statements could be contained in the comments posted by other people in the article and "approved" by Alex. Many of these comments are posted by anonymous people, who are untraceable - at least to Alex. As there could be hundreds of these comments, it would be impossible for Alex to check all of them. 

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PM Lee takes action against blogger Alex Au (UPDATE)

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is taking legal action against blogger Alex Au for allegations made in a post about the sale of computer systems used by town councils.

A letter of the demand was sent to Mr Au on Friday, saying that an article entitled “PAP mis-AIMed, faces blowback”, together with 21 other comments that the blogger allowed to be posted on his site, can be taken together to suggest that PM Lee is guilty of corruption in relation to the transaction between the PAP town councils and the firm Action Information Management (Aim).

“These are false and baseless allegations,” said the letter of demand which was from Senior Counsel Davinder Singh of Drew and Napier.

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PM Lee's letter of demand should not distract from issues arising from sale of town council software to AIM: Alex Au
Yahoo! News Singapore, 4 Jan 2012
Responding to the letter on Friday afternoon, Au said in an emailed statement to reporters that he accepted that his post and its accompanying comments were defamatory, and would take them down as requested, as well as put up a letter of apology.
“This should not distract from the issue of the sale of town council software to Action Information Management Pte Ltd.,” he added. “From what has been disclosed so far, reasonable people would have many questions, and while news of me getting a lawyer’s letter may be temporarily more ‘newsy’, it is more important for Singapore that these questions be answered, not avoided.” Full story

Related: PAP, AIM and the big fat white elephant in the room - Yahoo! News Sg

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AIM saga and Alex Au - when PAP can't argue, just sue

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to media representatives from Singapore and India in this file photo. PM Lee is taking legal action against blogger Alex Au for allegations made in a post about the sale of computer systems used by town councils. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Alex Au has been sued again. Yes, when the PAP runs out of words, just sue. As always. The less commented, the better.

PM Lee to take legal action against blogger Alex Au for false allegations

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Statement on the Sale of AHTC’s Computer Systems to a PAP connected company

The Reform Party is appalled by the recent revelations arising from the conflict between Aljunied Town Council and the PAP controlled Company AIM. They suggest the management of Town Council financial information systems is shamefully being exploited for political purposes.


The central watchwords of the Reform Party have always been accountability and transparency. We have consistently called for good governance, independent regulators and a political system that serves the interests of all Singaporeans rather than that of any one political party. We are named the Reform Party because we believe that we need to reform the electoral and political systems that currently serve to create divisions or grant absolute power.

The same systematic reform is necessary whether it is the unfettered discretion of a PM to call or not to call a by-election, the unfettered discretion of a MOF subsidiary to loan money to an international financial organization or the unfettered control of 15 town councils’ information management systems.

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PAP, AIM and the big fat white elephant in the room

PAP still has many questions to answer, says our blogger. (Yahoo! photo)

Just a day after his party won Aljunied GRC in 2011’s general election, Low Thia Khiang said he hoped “he will get the People's Action Party's (PAP) cooperation” in taking over the town council in the constituency.


“Mr Low also hopes that there won't be 'any sabotage' like what he encountered in 1991 when he was first elected in the Hougang single-seat ward,” the Straits Times reported.

Low, who is the Workers’ Party’s secretary general, had had to vacate the Hougang Town Council in Hougang Central and had to turn to his own business contacts to build a new town council at Block 701, Hougang Avenue 2, within 45 days.

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AIM Fiasco: Don’t ignore the elephant in the room

The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) strategy for addressing the glaring conflict of interest in its MPs running its Town Councils awarding an important contract to its own company is now clear: simply ignore it.

Simply ignore the fact that this is what everyone other than the mainstream media is talking about. Simply ignore all the emails that Singaporeans had sent to PAP MPs using the form email provided by TOC (see here: http://theonlinecitizen.com/2013/01/toc-editorial-the-problem-with-the-aim-case-and-what-you-can-do/) flagging this as the key issue.

Dr Teo Ho Pin’s statement had a lot of words, but simply ignored the central issue in this controversy. Indeed, he even had the audacity to claim that the PAP’s ownership of Action Information Management Pte Ltd was in fact a good thing – because it showed that AIM would honour its commitments. No doubt because he is from the PAP and knows first-hand how the PAP operates.

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AIM SAGA: The Art of Writing a Letter to Sidestep the Truth

This means that for Singaporeans, we have to continue discussing about this case with unabated breath. It means that the citizens of Aljunied GRC will have to demand for respond from the Worker’s Party, to give them a chance to have their voice heard again.

This will be a long drawn out battle, if we can keep at it. We’ve let slip many opportunities for transparency, honesty and truth to prevail. This Aim case is actually a very good opportunity that we have for truth to be finally exposed, and we cannot let up.

For now, PAP will hope that time will erase the memory of the Aim case from the minds of Singaporeans and that this statement will end it. But we will not let it be. We will continue to keep it in the minds of Singaporeans until we get an answer – and the truth.

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The Continuing AIM Saga

The elaborate statement by Dr. Teo Ho Pin, Coordinating Chairman of the PAP Town Councils, in response to Workers'' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim's questioning of the sale of the computer software rights to Action Information Management (AIM), when she asked if it was in the public interest, cuts no ice with the public, especially the netizens. His statement has been published on the TR Emeritus website which elicited no less than 218 responses from netizens criticising or condemning Dr. Teo for his disingenuous statement designed to cover up the questionable sale of the PAP Town Councils' computer software system to a PAP-owned AIM with a paid up capital of $2 whose three directors are former PAP MPs.

Dr Teo attempted to justify the sale of the computer software by quoting for the first time  that a consultancy firm Deloitte and Touche Enterprise Risk Services Pte Ltd had been engaged to review the system and had found the system, built in 2003, was becoming obsolete and impossible to maintain. Deloitte and Touche had suggested centralising the software ownership with a third party taking over the software rights.

A commentator with computer software expertise has commented that unlike a real machine, a computer software cannot get outdated. It is just a series of instructions to an operating system to perform a task. There are no rotating gears or other moving parts in a software which can suffer from wear and tear. So Singaporeans can draw their conclusion whether the sale of the computer software to a third party which turned out to be none other than the PAP-owned AIM, a $2 shell company, was in the public interest. 

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PAP'S AIMS AT DIRTY LEVEL - TIME TO COME CLEAN

How dirty is politics? How much dirtier can it get? More than five days after he had promised to deliver a daily dosage of explanation to Singaporeans, and to assuage that there is absolutely no conflict of interest when the PAP's Town Councils decided to award the IT contract to the PAP's $2 IT Company, AIMS, the same PAP Chief representing both sides of the coin finally comes out from hiding to write a lengthy explanation which does nothing to address anything. 


On the contrary, it opens up more worms in a tin can which we are discovering to hold more than one compartment. Let us be fair and not be found wanting as we present the alternative view to what the PAP mouthpieces have presented - very obviously to glorify the virtue of the devil.


We have heard yesterday that the AIMS contract lasted from 2003 to 2010. That's a total of 8 years, including both start and end years. . For those familiar with contacts, bids and tender exercises, nowhere in the four corners of this tiny island would you see any company offering a contract this long. It is even more stupid for any contractor to sign a contract this long. Does the reason for the other four potential bidders not submitting their bids be somewhere in this?


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Opposition has more integrity than PAP

I wrote the following email to Mr Khaw Boon Wan, chairman of the People's Action Party, today:

Dear Mr Khaw, I refer to the newspaper report 'PAP explains software sale to AIM' (link: http://goo.gl/6VMO9). The report states that 'The PAP declined to comment on the number of companies it owns'.

The PAP being a political party is subjected to the political donations act; an act which the PAP dominated Parliament passed as being integral in safeguarding the integrity of the domestic political process, and to ensure that political organisations are not funded by foreign elements or sources.

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PAP in an awkward position

It is not what you think. It is not a 69 or 66 or a 99. It is neither about Michael Palmer. The PAP has always been on the right side of things, or on top of things. This time it is like the gun is pointing at the wrong direction, at the PAP. The AIM thing is looking very awkward for the PAP.

This time the Town Council or the Town Council Chairman, or the directors of AIM are all synonymous with the PAP. They are the PAP. Now there is a certain act that the legal counsels will say that there is a prima facie case to answer. All the facts are on the table, or almost all. And the people are asking for more. There are many questions being asked and the answers are still yet to come forward. Whatever answers that have been given were not acceptable, not good enough.

Soon the people are going to ask the PAP to come clean, to be transparent,

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AIM-PAP Saga : The Explanation that explains nothing!

The main issue with the sale of town council management software to a PAP owned company with a clause that gives the PAP company the right to terminate use of the software if an opposition takes over the town council is that of conflict of interest. It is equivalent to the Democratic Party selling the US Social Security computer software to a company it owns then giving the company the right to stop the Republicans from using it when it recapture the presidency in elections. The AIM deal gives enormous power to the PAP to stop the opposition from running the town councils effectively when they are chosen by the constituents to be their representatives in parliament. Therein lies the conflict of interest. The rights of the people are not protected and they are put at risk.

"Dr Teo has now confirmed that this third party, AIM, is “fully-owned” by the PAP. In other words, the PAP-managed Town Councils saw it fit to sell away their ownership of the systems, developed with public funds, to a political party, which presumably could act in its own interests when exercising its rights to terminate the contracts". - Sylvia Lim, WP Statement

Professor Teo Ho Pin's  26 paragraph explanation does not address this conflict of interest issue which was the main point brought up by Sylvia Lim.


Craps, craps and more craps

Your latest statement on AIM-gate is very illogical:

1) You are the Coordinating Chairman of the TCs and you dealt with AIM on behalf of the TCs. Therefore, any vendor would only have to deal with you and not the 14 TCs. How can it then be “cumbersome” for the vendor when reviewing or revising the IT system?

2) You said that D&T “raised…the option of having a third party own the computer system.” But is this the option most recommended by D&T? In the interest of transparency, will you publicly disclose the report prepared by D&T?

3) Why was the advertisement


PAP Town Council's Tender Notice revealed, blogger poses more questions to Teo Ho Pin and East Coast Town Council


"I cannot understand how a $2 company that AIM Pte Ltd is, which doesn’t even have a corporate website, meets the tender requirement of an “Experienced and reputable Company with relevant track record”."

Yawningbread.wordpress.com, 30 Dec 2012


The above tender notice appeared in the Straits Times on 30 June 2010. (Thanks to a reader who did the sleuthing, who, I believe, would prefer to remain anonymous). You can click on it for a bigger version, but for your convenience, here is the text: Full Story

Related: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Hardwarezone

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Comments on the article "Why PAP town councils entered into transaction with AIM"

Article: http://www.todayonline.com/Hotnews/EDC130102-0000105/Why-PAP-town-councils-
entered-into-transaction-with-AIM

The detailed statement by Dr. Teo Ho Pin provides the public with more information about the Town Councils-AIM issue. However, it may also raise more questions. These questions do not amount to a charge that there is corruption involved.

The issue has, in fact, expanded to the question how well-managed the Town Councils are -could it have addressed the issue of the increasingly obsolete software earlier, for instance? The explanations should perhaps not be given by the Town Councils alone. Given the ties between AIM and the PAP, the owners of AIM may want to clarify how it has profited (or not) from the transaction with the Town Councils - exactly what payments and fees were paid?

The statement by Dr. Teo ultimately may not help to eliminate the public’s objections tothe transaction with AIM. Even if nothing illegal has been done, public confidence is not dependenton the legality of actions.

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My Conscience Is Bugging Me

I cannot let the media statement put out by the “Coordinating Chairman of the PAP Town Councils” regarding the sale of the town council management software system to a ex-PAP MP-owned company be left alone without it being shredded apart. The media statement appeared on January 2, 2013 on the PAP website.


I have italicised and indented the paragraphs from the media statement and my response follows each italicised segment

Statement by Teo Ho Pin on AIM Transaction
On 28 December 2012, I issued a press release in response to Ms Sylvia Lim’s statement on the website of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. Ms Lim had made various assertions in her statement. However, her statement was made without citing the relevant facts. I now make this further statement to set out fully the relevant facts.


Response to Teo Ho Pin's Statement

The first thing that came to my mind when I read "Statement by Teo Ho Pin on AIM Transaction" was "Lu kong simi?" = Say what?

I simply do not understand what to make of your statement. If you trust honesty, you would not have wasted time to defend the indefensible. If you continue to paint yourself into a corner, you'd only damage your integrity and bring your credibility down the sewers like the PM recently did with his 2013 New Year Message.

I'm no fan of Michael Palmer but his resignation (forced or otherwise) was a huge release for him. Through his resignation (or sack), he may have found freedom. Free from the chains of political masters/vampires who suck away core values and self worth  Maybe you should do the same. Resign.

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Dr Teo, Oracle does provide lifetime support to its customers

Dr Teo Ho Pin, the coordinating Chairman of 14 PAP Town Councils (TCs), earlier explained why the TCs decided to sell their software to AIM through an open tender and then lease it back from AIM (‘Dr Teo Ho Pin’s latest statement on AIM‘).

In his statement, Dr Teo said the main issue was the software was “becoming obsolete and unmaintainable”. One of the components of the software is the Oracle Financial 11 platform. He said that Oracle would soon phase out and discontinue support for its Financial 11 platform.

Thanks to a reader who has forwarded this information to us (‘TCs System becoming obsolete and unmaintainable???‘), Oracle actually has a policy to give lifetime support to its customers, regardless of the versions of software they purchased from Oracle. In other words, Oracle won’t just “phase out” its software with no support, leaving customers in a lurch. Hence, Dr Teo’s statement that Oracle would “discontinue support to its Financial 11 platform” is simply not true.

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AIM, PAP, Political Financing and Money Politics
"AIM is a fully PAP owned ‘party asset’. Like Ma Ying-jeou, Najib Razak and Chua Soi Lek, the Secretary-General of the PAP has to explain to Singaporeans how these ‘party assets’ are managed in an open and transparent way"
The very first mistake, that the People’s Action Party makes, is to confirm the status of AIM – a fully owned PAP company.  AIM is now a party asset of the PAP and it has been established for more than 20 years.

What is the purpose of setting up such a company? Has it had to do with political financing and money politics like Malaysia’s UNMO and MCA, as well as KMT in Taiwan?

UNMO, MCA and KMT have all been trouble by their ‘party assets’.   These assets have turned into political liabilities for them and have been accused by the oppositions for money politics.

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OPINION: Unanswered questions in Teo Ho Pin's statement on the deal between PAP Town Councils and PAP-owned $2 dormant company


The Online Citizen, 3 Jan 2013
From public to private – Conflict of interest?
Moreover, there is the conflict of interest in transferring public property developed for the people and presumably with the town councils’ funds which belong to the people, to a private company that reaks of being linked to a political party.

Cost to develop the software?
Also, the question as to how much it cost to develop the software remains unanswered.
Applying this logic of ” The vendor would have to deal with all 14 TCs”, wouldn’t it apply to other contracts and services as well that involve other vendors? Wouldn’t it simply be easier to have the vendor deal with just the town councils’ staff designated to handle this task. After all, they are all using the same system. So, does it make sense to say that the vendor would have to deal with 14 TCs? Full story

Related:
  1. Teo Ho Pin defends PAP Town Councils' decision to award contract to PAP-owned dormant $2 company, says it saves money for TCs
  2. PAP Town Council's Tender Notice revealed, blogger poses more questions to Teo Ho Pin and East Coast Town Council
  3. The curious case of PAP Town Council's tender notice with no details
  4. Town Council Computer System Saga: Member of public files complaint with CPIB and AGO - TR Emeritus 
  5. AIM is the second controversy in Aljunied Town Council handover after CPG Facilities Management
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IT deal done to benefit town councils: Teo Ho Pin

THE coordinating chairman of the PAP town councils, Dr Teo Ho Pin, yesterday explained in detail why they had sold the software rights of their computer system to a company.

The reason: it would have been cumbersome for an IT service provider to negotiate separately with each of the 14 town councils (TCs) on the maintenance and upgrading of the system.

He also described how the tender for the sale was called in 2010 and the process by which it was awarded to Action Information Management (AIM), a company owned by the People's Action Party.

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PAP explains software sale to AIM

The circumstances under which the computer software of the People's Action Party (PAP) Town Councils was sold to a PAP-owned company, Action Information Management (AIM), were outlined in detail by Dr Teo Ho Pin yesterday in a four-page statement.

Among other things, Dr Teo, who is Coordinating Chairman of the PAP Town Councils, said that the town councils were advised by Deloitte and Touche Enterprise Risk Services (D&T) that the software was "obsolete and unmaintainable" - which could explain why no other company wanted to bid for the tender.

D&T also suggested the option of having a third party own the computer system, including the software, with the town councils paying a service fee for regular maintenance.

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No basis to suggest AIM transaction was improper, says Teo Ho Pin

There is no basis to suggest that the transaction to provide computer services to the PAP Town Councils by the company, Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM), was improper or disadvantageous to the town councils.

Coordinating Chairman of the PAP—run town councils, Dr Teo Ho Pin made this point in his latest rebuttal to comments made by Ms Sylvia Lim, the Chairman of the Aljunied—Hougang Town Council.

Ms Lim had questioned why the computing and financial system developed by PAP—managed town councils was sold off to a third party.

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Why PAP town councils entered into transaction with AIM


Coordinating Chairman for the 14 PAP Town Councils Dr Teo Ho Pin has issued a statement on why the town councils entered into a transaction with Action Information Management for the redevelopment of their computer system. This follows a dispute over the termination of Aljunied-Hougang Town Council's former computer and financial systems. Here is the statement in full: 

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AIM: What is it all about?


AT THE centre of the dispute between the People's Action Party (PAP) and the Workers' Party (WP) is a company called Action Information Management (AIM).

Three of its directors are former PAP MPs.

The WP said AIM terminated its contract with Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), which is why the council got a red grade for service and conservancy charge arrears.

related:
Town council's red grade fuels debate
PAP, WP in war of words over IT firm
Exchange of letters between AIM and Aljunied-Hougang Town Council
WP reiterates question on public interest


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Interesting history of AIM Pte Ltd

AIM was formed on 22 Jul 1991, about 21 years ago [Link].

From this document [Link], we know that Ng Pock Too was the original director of the company. He was appointed the director on the same day that AIM was formed.

Ng Pock Too was the PAP’s candidate for Anson constituency in the 1984 GE. Then, JBJ (WP) beat Ng Pock Too to retain his seat in Anson. JBJ had earlier won in Anson in a 1981 by-election when Devan Nair relinquished his Anson’s seat to become the President of Singapore.

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Town councils’ software statement: ‘Full of holes’?

I refer to the report “No basis to suggest AIM transaction improper to town councils, says Teo Ho Pin” (Channel NewsAsia, Jan 2).
“Having each of the 14 individual TCs hold the Intellectual Property (IP) rights to the software was cumbersome and inefficient. The vendor would have to deal with all 14 TCs when reviewing or revising the system. It would be better for the 14 TCs to consolidate their software rights in a single party which would manage them on behalf of all the TCs, and also source vendors to improve the system and address the deficiencies.
10. The TCs thus decided to call a tender to meet the following requirements:
a. To purchase the software developed in 2003, and lease it back to the TCs
for a monthly fee, until the software was changed;
b. To undertake to secure extensions of the NCS contract at no extra cost i.e.
take on the obligation to get an extension on the existing rates, until the
TCs obtained new or enhanced software. This was put in to protect the
financial position of the TCs”.
“Cumbersome and inefficient” to deal with 14 TCs? 

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The curious case of the tender notice with no details

First and foremost, the project description is ludicrously vague. What does “THE DEVELOPED APPLICATION SOFTWARE” refer to? What is the software and what does it do? How does the software work – standalone on a personal computer, or over a network? What platform does the software operate on, say Windows or Macintosh or even Linux? And again, and obviously most importantly, what is the software and what does it do? 

And it only says “CONTRACT FOR THE PURCHASE” – but who is doing the purchasing? On the face of it, it almost sounds like the Town Councils were looking to buy some software to be developed for it, instead of looking to sell already-developed software.

The project description is also incomplete. It only talks about the “PURCHASE” of the software – but it turns out that the contract was not just for the Town Councils to sell the software, but also for a license-back by the purchaser to the Town Councils with continuing obligations to provide support and maintenance to the Town Councils.

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What are PAP’s Aims for Aljunied GRC?

After all this hoobalah over Aim and Aljunied GRC, we are no wiser as to what actually transpired behind what really went on.

Contrast this to PAP’s handling of the Michael Palmer incident and this Aim episode stands in huge contrast with how quick and efficient PAP had swiftly dealt with the whole Palmer incident and swept it right underneath the carpet.

Yet, with the Aim episode, why has PAP not been as swift in their actions? – because as much as PAP pride themselves as being able to anticipate and foresee future events, they haven’t actually anticipated the current Aim episode to occur.

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THE PROBLEM WITH THE AIM CASE, AND WHAT YOU CAN DO

The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) historical dominance of Singapore politics and government has always rested on the twin pillars of efficacy and incorruptibility. Its record of economic progress since independence is undoubtedly impressive, while winning a global reputation for zero tolerance for corruption.

While 2012 has rocked the establishment with a series of sex and corruption scandals, the PAP, both as the Government and as a political organization, has tried to respond robustly to these in an effort to maintain its aura of incorruptibility.

Which makes its weak and opaque comments about the sale of the Town Council Management System to the PAP-owned $2 company Action Information Management Pte Ltd even more striking.

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AIM saga – member of public files complaint with CPIB and AGO

A member of the public has mailed hard copies of the following letter to CPIB and the Auditor-General’s Office, asking the two Government agencies to investigate any irregularities arising from last year’s sale of the Town Councils’ computer and financial system to AIM Pte Ltd.

In the letter, the member of the public brings up a number of questions. He asks if the tender exercise is similar to the one in the scandalous NParks’ Brompton bicycle case.

He also asks if it was in the best interest of the public for the Town Councils to sell the system to a private company and then to rent it back?

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Sylvia Lim questions sale of town councils’ computing systems

In her latest comments, Ms Lim said both "Dr Teo’s and Mr Das’ statements have been calculated to side—step the most critical question of how public interest was served" when the financial systems were sold off to AIM, which could terminate its contract, if there was a "material change" in the composition of a town council.

A "material change" could refer to a change in the management and makeup of the town council, following results of the general election. In this case, it was the town council being handed over to the Workers’ Party, which won the Aljunied seat from the PAP.

Ms Lim said Singaporeans have the right to know what justification there was for town councils to relinquish ownership and leave the continuity of operations at the "mercy of a third party" — referring to AIM.

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Teo Ho Pin: Sylvia Lim should come clean on the facts

In responding to Ms Sylvia Lim’s latest rebuttal through a media release (‘Media Release: AHTC asks what rights do TCs have to sell off a public funded system to a political party?‘) on 28 Dec, Dr Teo replied on the same day that Ms Lim’s remarks do not answer the key question that was addressed to her.

Dr Teo said it was Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) which stated that it wanted to develop its own system and added that the contract was terminated between AIM and AHTC through a mutual agreement in Sep 2011.

“Ms Lim had stated that the reason for the poor performance of Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (in the Town Council Management Review), was due to the termination of the lease for AHTC’s computer and financial systems by Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM),” he said.

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A Lesson on the Need for Alternatives

As for developing an alternative replacement IT system for town management for AHTC, AIM reportedly said that AHTC had indicated sometime in June 2011 that it was developing its own system to serve residents.  At the time, the Workers’ Party (WP) MPs who became the incoming management of AHTC were acutely aware of the possible termination of the computing and financial systems at short notice by AIM, hanging over AHTC like the proverbial Sword of Damocles.

To safeguard the interests of residents who elected the WP Team and gave the WP MPs the mandate to manage the town, AHTC worked overtime to upscale the town management system in use in Hougang TC, which had been tried and tested.  AHTC counts itself fortunate to have been able to leverage on the Hougang TC system, which had been developed and in use for more than a decade, customized specifically for town council management requirements.

If anything, this episode clearly demonstrates the risks to Singaporeans of having a lack of alternatives in every sense.

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Why did Teo Ho Pin's team award tender to company without core competencies or skills?

According to the coordinating chairman of 14 PAP town councils, the computerised management system of the 14 town councils was tendered out to AIM (a PAP controlled company), and AIM subsequently engaged National Computer Services (NCS) to maintain and further develop the system. That sounds like a sensible explanation until you recall that it was developed and maintained by NCS prior to the tender being called.



Prior to this tender, the PAP town councils owned the system, and paid NCS to develop the system, presumably using the monies residents pay for service & conservancy (S&C) charges. 7 of these 14 town councils have subsequently raised the S&C charges. AIM which now owns the rights to the database management system, currently charges the 14 town councils $131880 per year to maintain the system.

In the face of this, the chairman of the town council has got to be more transparent, and answer the following questions:

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Not profiteering. But politicking?

The new contract with AIM containing the termination clause in the event of change in management was most probably intended to frustrate opposition parties in the event that a Town Council management ended up in the hands of the opposition.  Given the fact that Town Council management runs parallel to the seats won by MPs, the possibility of a change in management is always going to be inevitable.  The termination clause was probably inserted in anticipation of electoral defeat in some constituencies.  Probably.

Anyway, for good measure, in order to eliminate the possibility of profits being made by AIM, I tried to do an online search through ACRA for the audited accounts of AIM.  This is what I found:


The Annual Returns (AR) filed by the company is without accounts.  I didn't bother clicking through to purchase the AR.  I backtracked to look at the business profile of the company that is available here http://www.tremeritus.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Action-Information-Management.pdf?9804ec AIM is an Exempt Private Company. There is thus no legal requirement for Audited accounts to be filed at the registry.

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OPEN LETTER TO DR TEO HO PIN

I would like to know the following, how is it a software that is funded by tax payers monies be sold to a $2 company, why was there a need to do this in the first place?

Secondly, what is the tender eligibility or criteria for vendors to participate in the open tender, will you allow a $2 company to qualify for this kind of open tender in the first place?

The greatest fear or worry is the decision makers and their ability to award the tender to a $2 dollar company, what did they like about this vendor and does it have a proven track record before awarding the tender to them?

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Let there be light

The latest scandal in Singapore, this time involving the sale of  computer systems in town councils to a firm which apparently was set-up with a capital of $2 enforces the claims by some about our Potemkin village status — that many still take as somehow reflecting that all is well in the country.

Background to this kerfuffle can be read here: link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4.

To those diehard supporters of the Establishment who may sometimes look in on this site (apart from concerned citizens and those just learning of this issue): Please be aware that this situation is something that bears some thought. If this strange issue involving a single tender being won by a firm composing three former MPs of the ruling party does not smack of conflict of interest, then the term ‘conflict of interest’ has lost all meaning.

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Open Source and Government

The recent events with the Worker’s Party-led Aljunied Hougang Town Council‘s financial management system needs to be looked at from a far more holistic manner.

The system that AHTC has used for managing the financial and related activities was something that they inherited from the previous Aljunied Town Council. ATC was held by the People’s Action Party who lost it to the Worker’s Party in the May 2011 General Elections. And with the adjoining Hougang Constituency also held by the WP, it made sense for them to join forces and create AHTC.

From information that I have from the online and social media (and the MSM surprisingly), the software system was developed by the National Computer Systems under contract from the PAP-run town councils for an unspecified (say $X) amount. I can’t tell if the $X was for software only or did it include hardware as well. Probably not. Nor can I tell if it did include ongoing support, bug fixes and upgrades?

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Questions on town councils-AIM transaction

There are too many unanswered questions pertaining to this software transaction between the town councils and AIM. As long as the mainstream media chooses to stay silent and not report anything until there is a ready explanation from the officials, it is crucial that we continue to press for answers.

But first off, we must not focus on the wrong aspects. Netizens should not harp on about sale-and-leaseback transactions which are not uncommon in business and accounting. In fact, the decision not to hold on to a costly asset on the TCs’ books might make better financial sense. Small companies with very low paid-up capital using virtual addresses and external secretarial services are also common, though how the TCs can trust one to be creditworthy is a different question. We also can’t do straight line valuations without considering discount ratios, depreciation, value-added services and other risk factors. Lastly, the tiff between Aljunied-Hougang Town Council and AIM on the service extension is irrelevant and distracts from the main issue.

These are the questions I have:

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AIM is the second controversy in Aljunied Town Council handover after CPG Facilities Management
The Online Citizen, 13 May 2011
A conflict of interest?
In the Straits Times on Thursday 12 May 2011, on page A4, “Cynthia Phua promises proper handover”, the following was reported:

“Aljunied Town Council is now managed by CPG Facilities Management, with whom the town council signed a three-year contract last year. CPG managing director Jeffrey Chua is the town council’s general manager. As the town council managing agent, CPG engages the services of other companies for services such as cleaning, maintenance and lift rescue.”

 While CPG Corporation Pte Ltd is the corporatized and renamed Public Works Department, it is not apparent whether Mr Chua, as the Managing Director of CPG Facilities Management Pte Ltd holds shares or options in the firm CPG Facilities Management Pte Ltd (which appears to be a subsidiary of CPG Corporation Pte Ltd) or its parent.

Regardless, I find it difficult to understand how Mr Chua can carry out both his duties as the general manager of the town council, and the Managing Director of the town council’s managing agent. Full story

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So, the sequence of events is as follows:
  1. TCs engaged NCS to develop the software system
  2. TCs sold software system to AIM through an open tender with AIM as sole bidder
  3. AIM leased the software system back to TCs for $785 per TC per month
  4. AIM engaged NCS to manage and support the software system on its behalf for TCs
In a nutshell, assuming the informant who wrote to TRE is correct, TCs engaged NCS to develop the software for $1 million (approximated). TCs then sold the software to AIM for $140,000 and leased the software from AIM for $10,990 monthly while NCS continues to provide support for the software.

This then begs the question – Why the need for AIM when TCs could have been better off dealing with NCS directly, minus the middle-man AIM which apparently is doing nothing except taking a cut out of the deal?

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And The Hole Gets Deeper

This defense by AIM is a god-sent for the opposition parties here in Singapore because it just open a can of worms for the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP). Seriously, if we take what AIM said at face value, then how in the world did a company with a paid-up capital of just $2 managed to pay $140,000 to win the bid to own the system? If they got a loan, it begs the question which bank actually loaned AIM $140,000 when the company is worth all of $2!

Also at the monthly cost of $785, why didn’t the town councils maintain the system themselves and questions will be asked about how much was spent to develop the system in the first place? I mean at $785 a month per town council, AIM would recoup the $140,000 in just slightly over a year! And in drawing NCS into the picture, now questions will be asked of them as well!

How in the world is any of this good for the PAP? It isn’t. Even if everything is legal (and it seem they took pains to make sure it is), it still looks bad and smell worse. And the whole mess is totally avoidable! Just get rid of the agreement between AIM and the town councils before more awkward questions get asked! Surely that is preferable than to have the whole thing brewing during the next by-election!

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Sale of Town Council Software begs explanation

When I heard that PAP Town Councils sold their Town Councils Management System (TCMS) software to an external company, AIM, then leaseback the software, I was really curious to hear the explanation for such a move. I have heard of leasebacks being done by cash strapped companies to raise cash  - they sell their building or equipment because the need the cash badly then lease these back from the new owners. Such deals are financially disadvantageous for the company leasing back - they usually do such deals when they no longer have access to cheap money from the banks and bond market.

The response given below by Dr. Teo Ho Pin just does not make any sense. It does not give the rationale for doing such a deal.

1. One important missing information is cost of developing the software. Selling the software means that they have to incur the cost of redeveloping the software if the AIM decides to charge an exorbitant fee for the leaseback or if it decides to terminate the leaseback. This put their constituents on the hook.

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AIM, PAP and the smugness of legality

After 12 days of silence, state media finally report on the AHTC-AIM saga. The PAP Town Councils confidently state that “their contract was in accordance with the Town Councils’ Financial Regulations.”

Nevermind the fact that 14 PAP MPs paid an unknown sum to NCS to develop their computer and financial systems, then sold it uncontensted to $2 company AIM, owned and chaired exclusively by ex-PAP MPs who, based on the figures reported in state media, stand to make $500,000 over the course of 5 years (until the next GE).

The fact that it is in accordance with regulations only makes it all the more galling. Note the little giveaway quote that:
“the company’s current directors, three former People’s Action Party (PAP) MPs, namely himself, Chew Heng Ching, and Lau Ping Sum do not receive directors’ fees or any other benefits.”
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TRE readers question AIM Pte Ltd and Dr Teo Ho Pin

The sale and lease back has raised many questions and rightfully so. My question is WHAT MOTIVATE THE SALE?  Was it just monetary gain or money plus political knee-capping to jeopardise the WP, regardless of the collateral damage to citizens of Singapore staying in Aljunied?

Next question is WHO GAVE THE 14 TC THE RIGHT TO SELL THE OWNERSHIP OF THIS SOFTWARE?  They are just town councillors managing the town, the citizens are the real owners of this software so they cannot sell what they do not own.  If this illegal precedent is not rescinded immediately, what is to prevent them from selling the children’s playground, the footpaths, the public spaces in the PAP towns and then leasing them back?

Another question is DON’T THEY REALISE THERE IS CONFLICT OF INTEREST WHEN A PAP RUN TC SELLS ITS ASSETS TO A PAP OWNED COMPANY (as reported by CNA).

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There Are Singaporeans Who Care

There Are Singaporeans Who Care enough to risk their well-being in writing what's in their heart and soul to show the contempt they have for the PAP government. Apart from risks, their time and effort spent in blogging and/or speaking in coffee shops and elsewhere to enlighten other Singaporeans of the unsavoury actions of the power that is shows the fortitude that is tragically missing among 60% (my estimate but may be less now) of the electorate in Singapore



I visited the blog of one of my commentators and . . . DING! . . . I'm stoked by the articles that's written in the blog. I would strongly encourage readers to visit this link. [Link] Above pic is from the blog.


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Computer firm says town council's claim "inaccurate"

A disagreement between Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) and a company that used to provide its computer and financial systems continues.

In a letter to the media, Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM) said AHTC Chairman Sylvia Lim's allegation that a service extension with AIM had to be "fought for" was inaccurate.


AIM said two service extensions were granted - in August and September 2011 - before the contract lapsed.


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AIM refutes Aljunied-Hougang Town Council's claims

Action Information Management chairman Chandra Das has refuted Aljunied-Hougang Town Council's (AHTC) claims that it had to fight for a service extension to continue using the existing town council management system.

In a statement issued on Christmas Eve, Mr Chandra Das, a former PAP MP said that the Workers' Party intended to develop its own management system after it took over the town council and that Aim readily gave it the two extensions it sought.

He added that Aim would have willingly granted further extensions if the AHTC had asked for it.

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Contract follows regulations, say PAP town councils

The coordinating chairman for the 14 PAP town councils, Mr Teo Ho Pin, has responded to online chatter about a contract between the town councils and a PAP-owned company over the sale and leaseback of computer systems.

Netizens had asked for details on how the deal was done and questioned if there was a breach of trust.

Mr Teo said on Monday that the contract between the town councils and Action Information Management (Aim) had followed existing financial regulations.

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Much Ado About Town Councils & Corporate Governance

WP-managed Aljunied Town Council had a red mark on its corporate governance score card in a MND report on how town councils managed their financial records and procedures. WP explained that the entire system was run and terminated by Action Information Management, the company which previously supported the PAP town council pre-GE 2011. As it was terminated, Aljunied could not get a replacement system running from scratch and thus could not submit its report in time.

Action Information Management defended itself that Aljunied should have applied (and thus paid for) an extension of its services after September 2011. Should we give WP a break about its technical lack of compliance? As this is the first time they are running a town council and although it has been more than a year since they took over Aljunied, yes we should give WP some slack for its failure to submit an audit report promptly because its financial system was not in place.

However, public patience is quickly running thin if WP continues to use that excuse in future of transition hiccups and being new in the job. They are in parliament already and should get its act together faster and better.  If they can’t run a town council overnight, what about a country.

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OPINION: Questions surrounding Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM) and PAP Town Councils
The Online Citizen, 21 Dec 2012
As Sylvia Lim pointed out, the questions have to be: Why did the PAP Town Councils relinquish ownership of the computer and financial system, and how much did they sell it to AIM for?
After the [general election] in May 2011, the Town Council was served with a notice that the Town Council’s Computer and Financial Systems will be terminated with effect from 1 August 2011 due to material changes to the membership of the Town Council. This Computer and Financial Systems had been developed jointly by the 14 PAP Town Councils over a period of more than 15 months but was in January 2011 sold to and leased back from M/s Action Information Management Pte Ltd, a company which was dormant. This effectively meant that ATHC had to develop its own equivalent systems, in particular a Financial System, within a 2 months’ timeframe.
http://www.ahtc.org.sg/ahtc/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/TCMR-Media-Release.pdf
Full story

Related:
  1. TCs develop computer system only to sell and lease back from dormant company run by ex-PAP MPs
  2. Eternally Gratified - Singapore Notes
  3. What has Aljunied-Hougang TC’s IT system got to do with Changi airport? - TR Emeritus 
  4. REVEALED: The Chairman of the 'dormant' firm which bought the Computer and Financial Systems
  5. Town Council IT systems developed by TC fund and sold back to dormant company - Hardwarezone
  6. Directorships of Mr S. Chandra Das - spicei2i.com
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ST: WP, Computer firm (controlled by ex-PAP MPs) argue over lease

A disagreement has broken out between the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), run by the Workers' Party, and a company that had leased computer and financial systems to the council.

Yesterday Action Information Management (AIM) said it would have continued to extend the lease of the systems to the town council if WP had asked for it.

But AHTC chairman Sylvia Lim said last night that it had not been told further extensions were negotiable.

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Town council spat puts spotlight on PAP

Aljunied-Hougang Town Council explains its performance. (Yahoo! photo)

Questions are being raised over how computer and financial systems of an opposition-run town council were placed under the control of a little-known firm linked to the ruling party.

In a post in his blog Yawning Bread on Friday, Alex Au said the issue “has the potential to be a big story, causing enormous damage to the People’s Action Party (PAP)”.

Controversy first erupted earlier this month when the Ministry of National Development (MND) released its latest town council management report, singling out the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) with a “red” rating for its handling of service and conservancy charge (S&CC) arrears.

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AIM operating out of a virtual business office

AIM's Chairman, Chandra Das

AIM came into prominence when it was revealed by AHTC Chairman, Sylvia Lim, that the computer and financial system had been developed jointly by the 14 PAP Town Councils over a period of more than 15 months. In Jan 2011, for some unknown reasons, it was sold to and then leased back from AIM. In other words, after Jan 2011, the 14 PAP Town Councils then started paying AIM rental fees so as to use the computer and financial system. The rental fees to pay AIM, of course, would have to come from the conservancy fees paid by residents. It is not known how much PAP sold the system to AIM and how much rental fees were paid to AIM for leasing the system back (‘PAP TC’s computer & financial system sold to and leased back from a $2 company‘).

Ms Lim also asked why the 14 PAP town councils, which had developed the system, had transferred the ownership to AIM, a third party.

And since now AIM owns the system and presumably has to maintain and provide technical support for the use of the system by the PAP Town Councils, how is it doing it if it is running from a “virtual office”? For example, as in all IT maintenance business, surely it must keep some spare hardware as backups in case computer systems fail at customer sites? Did it keep the spares in the virtual office? What about backing up precious data of residents who are paying their monthly conservancy fees? Where are their backup servers? In the virtual office as well? What sort of services are AIM providing in their lease of the computer and financial systems to Town Councils?

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PAP Scorched Earth at Aljunied GRC

Recently, MND gave a report that WP's Aljunied GRC team CMI - WP got a red card for their late audit / management report. Ooooooh eyes on WP for being lame and giving excuses. Yes WP cannot excuse that away. However, as more bits and pieces came out about AIM, the financial services company that was holding WP Aljunied Town Concil hostage by putting admin obstacles in front of WP's management report to MND, then the blame and shame game on WP turned into one on PAP's scorched earth policy.

Not new, this PAP denial of the political enemy access to infrastructure, like how WP had trouble with use of common space in Hougang because MND and PA were politically motivated in their decisions. Ooooooh

Lau gay Alex Au was half right to say that AIM is a stay-behind sabo party - right because AIM is actually owned by former PAP MPs and I think still PAP members, not so right as AIM took over the financial and computer systems of the PAP town councils before GE 2011 in January last year, and not just before handover of Aljunied to WP. How was the tender process that AIM won, we are very curious!

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Most town councils fare well in governance checks


THE majority of town councils scored well in corporate governance, according to the fourth and latest town council management report released today.

Only three out of 15 town councils did not receive the top green score in a new colour-coded scoring system announced by the Ministry of National Development in April. Red represents the lowest grade, while amber is a medium score.

They were Jurong and Tampines, which both received an amber grade, and Workers' Party controlled Aljunied-Hougang, whose score is pending as they have yet to submit a report from their auditors.

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Why we were behind: Aljunied-Hougang Town Council

Responding to a less-than-stellar showing in the latest Town Council Management Report - where the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) was rated red for arrears management and did not complete its submission for the new Corporate Governance indicator - AHTC Chairman Sylvia Lim said the audit process for the report took "longer-than-expected".

The AHTC is now finalising its auditor's Management Letter, which together with a self-declared corporate governance compliance checklist, is used to assess corporate governance.

Ms Lim said that after the General Election last May, the town council was notified that its Computer and Financial Systems, jointly developed by the People's Action Party town councils, would be terminated from August. The AHTC had to develop its own financial system within two months, and did so in phases.

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Firm defends itself against WP comment


The company that Aljunied-Hougang Town Council chairman Sylvia Lim identified as a factor for the town council's less-than-stellar performance defended itself against the comment yesterday.

Last Friday, a performance report on town councils here by the National Development Ministry showed that Aljunied- Hougang Town Council was the only one that did not have a corporate-governance score.

The ministry said this was because the council had not submitted the auditor's management letter in time.

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AIM Before Damage Is Done

Alex Au is a blogger that is firmly in the pro-opposition side of the political divide here in Singapore. So I, like most Singaporeans, take whatever he writes with a pinch of salt. However in the latest case of the town councils’ computer systems being run by a little-known firm linked to the ruling party, I have to agree with him that the issue “has the potential to be a big story, causing enormous damage to the People’s Action Party (PAP)”.

The problem first began when the Ministry of National Development (MND) released its latest town council management report and singled out the opposition-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council with a “red” rating for its handling of service and conservancy charge (S&CC) arrears. The byline from the MND was that the Workers’ Party (WP) was incompetent. 

The Workers’ Party (WP), who both the Hougang and Aljunied seats in the last General Elections (GE) in 2011, came out swinging. Chairperson of the WP, Sylvia Lim, released a statement noting the fact that the town council’s audit took longer than expected because of their need to develop a new computer and financial system from scratch.

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AIM Eternally Gratified

Commenting on the findings of the Town Council Management Review published on 14 Dec 2012, Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) chairperson Sylvia Lim has inadvertently unearthed some unsavory goings on rivaling the extra-curricular activities at the Punggol East Monday nights meet the people sessions. Already MPS is now an acronym for Mate Per Schedule, code for sweetheart dealings under the umbrella of approved government transactions.
"After the GE in May 2011, the Town Council was served with a notice that the Town Council's Computer and Financial Systems will be terminated with effect from 1 August 2011 due to material changes to the member ship of the Town Council. This Computer and Financial Systems had been developed jointly by the 14 Town Councils over a period of more than 15 months but was in January 2011 sold to and leased back from M/s Action Information Management Pte Ltd, a company which was dormant."
That dormant company lists as directors former People's Action Party members of parliament, namely Chandra Das, Lau Ping Sum and Chew Heng Ching (Deputy House Speaker 2002-2006). That explains the "Action" in the company name "AIM". Whatever the original aim of the entity, it was incorporated in 1991 with a miserly paid up capital of $2. The first director (Lau) was appointed in 1998, Chandra Das (MP 1980 to 1996) was made director in 2010. Presumably those were the years they geared up for their "IT consultancy/hardware consultancy" business, and injected more funds to augment the token start-up investment. We are assuming, of course, the 14 Town Councils, will millions of reserves collected from S&CC, will not deal with a $2 company. Or entrust it with a costly computer system developed over 15 months.

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WP, computer firm argue over lease

A disagreement has broken out between the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), run by the Workers' Party, and a company that had leased computer and financial systems to the council.

Action Information Management (AIM) said it would have continued to extend the lease of the systems to the town council if WP had asked for it.

But AHTC chairman Sylvia Lim said last night that it had not been told further extensions were negotiable.

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Aljunied-Hougang town council could have asked for service extension: IT firm

The company which provided the computer and financial systems to Aljunied-Hougang town council, has spoken up on its termination of services for the council. 


Last Friday, the Aljunied-Hougang town council said the termination was one reason its corporate governance audit was delayed.


In a letter to the media, Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM) said it had extended its services to the town council twice, in August and September last year.


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What has Aljunied-Hougang TC’s IT system got to do with Changi airport?

In a letter to the media, Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM) said it had extended its services to the town council twice, in August and September last year.

AIM’s chairman S Chandra Das said the company would have agreed to a further extension, if the town council had requested for it.

When contacted, council chairman Sylvia Lim said they understood that no further extensions would be forthcoming at the time.

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Aljunied-Hougang Town Council Statement on Town Council Management Review

The Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) has noted the findings of the Town Council Management Review published on 14 Dec 2012.

We are pleased that MND has rated the AHTC comparably with the other Town Councils in the areas of cleanliness, maintenance and lift breakdown.  This is a recognition of the efforts put in by the new management team in our first year, to ensure continuity of services to residents since the handover in August 2011.

MND has indicated, however, that AHTC has not completed its submission on Corporate Governance and was banded ‘Red’ for arrears management.   We welcome the opportunity to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding these matters.

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Town councils graded on corporate governance in new report card

The Ministry of National Development has released its annual report card for town councils on Friday, highlighting estate maintenance as an area for improvement.


Besides a new grading format, the report has included - for the first time - corporate governance.


Town councils across Singapore are assessed according to the level of cleanliness, estate maintenance and now, corporate governance too.


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White Clouds Clearing For Blue Skies


Hardwarezone Forum - Dr Koh Poh Koon having fun waving to empty streets and buildings

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White Clouds Clearing












For Blue Skies













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related:
Auditor-General's Report FY2013/2014
Auditor-General's Report FY2014/2015
AGO Report 2015/2016
'Pervasive' lapses in WP town council
Lapses in Governance And Compliance

From Desmond Lawrence Sylvia to AHPETC