Thursday, 16 August 2012

Watz Buzzing - 16 Aug 2012

Lapses in government procurements highlighted in Singapore's annual audit report
Xinhua, 14 Aug 2012
 SINGAPORE, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- Lapses in tender processes of Singapore's government agencies have been brought to light in the annual audit of the auditor-general that was revealed Monday for fiscal year 2011-12.

In his report, 10 ministries and 11 government agencies have been found to have problems in managing public funds and resources.

The troubled National Parks Board, which bought 26 foldable bicycles for its officers patrolling the parks at the price of 2, 200 Singapore dollars (1,760 U.S. dollars) each, has been found to have lapses in parks development projects, where nine tenders with a total value of 69.42 million Singapore dollars (55.54 million U. S. dollars) were approved by the wrong approving authority. Full story

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Singapore civil servants not complying with public procurement rules

The city-state’s procurement processes have come under media scrutiny recently after a string of incidents that put Singapore’s reputation of providing a honest and efficient administration at risk.

The Ministry of Development, through an internal audit process, identified discrepancies in the National Parks Board’s purchase of 26 foldable Brompton bicycles, each costing $2,200 (SGD).  Mr Bernard Lim, the assistant director of the Park Connector Network has been suspended and the matter has been handed over to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

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Procurement issues - a problem with competence? Surely not.

DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam's announcement that the government will look into widely criticized e-procurement issues is timely and very much appreciated. But his comment that this was all to do with incompetence and compliance shows that perhaps he hasn't quite appreciated what the real problem is.

If indeed compliance was the problem, surely this would have been detected easily through the regular audits, and the necessary corrective action taken. If corrective action had not been taken despite non-compliance having been diagnosed, something is seriously wrong with management. To lay the blame at the level of the procurement officer is misguided to say the least.

If anything, the procurement officer is only all too careful to follow all procedures. He knows he will be caught out by the audit if he is non-compliant. I am not talking here about any intention to cheat. This can happen even if procedures are followed. That is why Minister Khaw can confidently attest in the NParks wayang that "procurement formally observed and complied with the existing rules".

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AG highlights lapses, DPM Tharman plays it down

Wasn't DPM Tharman quick on his feet to downplay the point brought out by his Auditor General, that there are lapses in how the govt purchased goods and services? Tharman's double quick move shows that he is probably embarrassed by all the fiasco that has been happening around in the govt ministries and stat boards. From Bromtomgate to sexual services as bribes. What more now?

Here is the report as highlighted by the AG.
Procurement lapses highlighted by Auditor-General

Auditor-General Lim Soo Ping, from the Auditor-General's Office (AGO). -- ST PHOTO: FRANCIS ONG

Here is Tharman's double quick move to play down the embarrassing situation.
Govt procurement rules are sound, but can be improved: DPM Tharman

The public sector's procurement system is in good working order and the rules are sound, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

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Shanmugam's crafty way to avoid the Woffles Wu disquiet

WP MP Sylvia Lim asked a simple question. But Shanmu, the crafty fox, made it look like as if there's an innuendo in it, thereby avoiding the embarrassment of the Woffling Woffles Wu case. Wait a minute, wasn't he the guy who also threatened a particular blogger with a legal suit, avoiding denying another embarrassment?

Here is the report of the crafty fox's convoluted words, which of course, PAPpy Lappy dog ST, will lap it all up.

Heated exchange in House between MP and minister

"Are you trying to say there's favouritism?" growls Crafty Shanmugam.
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Shanmugam, Sylvia Lim clash over Woffles Wu case
Yahoo! News Singapore, 14 Aug 2012
A debate over the case involving one of Singapore’s most prominent plastic surgeon grew heated in Parliament on Monday.

Responding to questions by Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC Sylvia Lim regarding the conviction of Dr Woffles Wu Tze Liang for abetment of giving false information to the police, Law Minister K Shanmugam gave the facts regarding the matter and a schedule of cases where a fine was imposed. Full story

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Badly handling Woffles case

The AGC and Shamugam waste our time. The exchange between the minister and Sylvia Lim caused me to think less of Shamugam.

All that they needed to do way before this sitting of parliament was to publish and explain these six cases. Instead they took us through the maze and left many of us bewildered and confused.

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Improvements To Be Made

Responding to Nominated Member of Parliament Eugene Tan's tabled question, Shanmugam said Wu was not interviewed during initial investigations in 2005 and 2006 because Kuan  had identified himself as the driver. And the trusting cops simply took the word of one old guy without seeking collaborative evidence from other witnesses?

Such as the addressee of the official government letter requesting particulars of the driver? Well, it looks like the procurement system is not the only standard operating procedure that is in dire need of improvement

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Giving up on your own people

‘When you import sporting talent just to win, you have given up on your own people and it represents the “cannot do” spirit …a confirmation that you don't believe in your own people and their talents. No surprise to me that the sports association that is most active in importing sporting talent to win is led by a PAP [ruling party] MP….it reflects the faith and confidence they have in our own people.’ Lucky Tan.

The dependency on bought foreign talents to represent Sinkieland and to win medals has drawn many furious comments from concerned Sinkies. The above quote from Lucky Tan is one of the many comments made by Sinkies and has wider implications. Spending some money, since we have so much money, on something of fancy like the fantasies of an adolescent is nothing serious. It is a phase of growing up and once the dust has settled, the fantasy in the hands, it may lead to a realisation that all the farce wasn’t worth it.

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Reproduce LKY?

"Enormous problems if Singaporeans don't reproduce Lee Kuan Yew" said Channel NewsAsia.

I think either there is a missing comma or CNA really wants us to consider cloning LKY…

(New Nation spotted this too.)

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Tin Pei Ling auctioning off her Kate Spate handbag for AWARE, 14 Aug 2012
Fancy owning Marine Parade GRC MP Tin Pei Ling’s Kate Spade handbag?

It’s the bag in the photograph which went viral during the General Election in 2011.

The photo showed Ms Tin posing in a cute manner while holding a Kate Spade handbag box.
It drew much attention from netizens and quite a bit of criticism as well.

Well, you stand a chance to own the iconic handbag if you bid in the auction at the Supersonic Big Ball organised by the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE). Full story

Straits Times refused to publish full clarification by Tan Jee Say

It all started from the Straits Times (ST) publishing an article on 21 Jul 2012 about the company, Chanson F&B Pte Ltd, which was renting from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) unable to pay rent owed to SLA.

However, in its eagerness to run the ex-Presidential candidate Mr Tan Jee Say down, ST decided to use the following title on the article – “Tan Jee Say faces eviction from Orchard Road base“

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Indian FT sues Yahoo Singapore for impostor’s identity

Sandeep Sharma, a managing director at HSBC’s private banking arm claimed that he had been defamed by Yahoo’s user impersonating him and making offensive remarks about Singaporeans.

Mr Sharma is asking the Singapore’s High Court to order Yahoo Singapore to reveal the identity of the person using the moniker “Sandeep” and claiming to be him.

“Sandeep” was said to have made a few postings on Yahoo’s forum calling Singaporeans “highly incompetent” and saying that foreigners are Singapore’s future, according to court papers filed on 8 Aug.

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OPINION: Is Goh Chok Tong serious about wanting a national dialogue?

Singapore Democrats, 14 Aug 2012
In his National Day message, former prime minister Goh Chok Tong called on Singaporeans "who feel passionately about where Singapore is heading" to have a constructive dialogue with Ministers and MPs.

This, he said, is part of a national effort to build consensus on the country’s future. Should Singaporeans take him and his party seriously?

He urged the people to "research the issues, find out the facts" and then invite officials for a frank discussion.

How is this possible when the media the Government controls refuses to keep the people informed? How are Singaporeans going to come to know of alternatives available to them, let alone discuss them with Ministers and MPs? Full story

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Numbers game

The numbers do not lie. On a per capita basis, Yahoo Sports reported that Jamaica, with a population of 2.7 million, won nine gold medals in the recently concluded London Olympic games. This casts doubt on people who say that Singapore's population is too small to produce world beaters in sports. For the record, Singapore won three bronze medals, and all by people who were not born in Singapore.

They are what Singaporeans' euphemistically call "Foreign Talent". Singapore's population as of 2011 is 5,183,700 of which  Singapore residents number 3,789,300. That's roughly 1 million more than Jamaica's population, or 2.5 million more if you include the non residents.

Granted, we are not comparing apples with apples. There are differing social, cultural and economic environments that masks these numbers, and sociologists and politicians will have their stories to tell to rationalise and explain the discrepancies in these numbers.

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Grace Fu: All must do their part to help new immigrants integrate

At the parliamentary sitting today (13 Aug), the newly promoted Cabinet Minister, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Ms Grace Fu told Parliament that a community approach is needed to help new immigrants integrate with Singapore society.

She said all members of society, including student leaders, employers and community leaders, must do their part.
Ms Fu also talked about the National Integration Council (NIC) and said that its work is a long-term one.

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Intimidation, intimidation!

As I read the morning papers my hands were shivering in fear. The word intimidation seems to be everywhere and jumping out from the pages. But who is intimidating who?

This one I no able to figure out. In Parliament, everyone is so clever and it is really very hard to tell what they said and what they meant. And of course there is no intimidation in our first world Parliament. No chairs or punches were thrown, so we are one class above those gangster infested parliaments. Sure no see blood.

While I am still very hazy about the ongoings and recovering from the shock, I still think it may be a good idea for MPs on the wrong side of the power equation to exercise extreme care when asking questions in Parliament. Asking questions they must, but there are certain special nuances and skills required to be able to ask questions safely and successfully.

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Ex-Chief of Army appointed new CEO of SMRT
Yahoo! News Singapore, 14 Aug 2012

Former Chief of Army Desmond Kuek has been appointed the president and new CEO of SMRT.
A statement by SMRT said Kuek, who will assume his new role on 1 October 2012, was appointed after an extensive search and selection process.

The 48-year-old takes over the hotseat vacated by Saw Phaik Hwa, who stepped down in January following a firestorm over the twin December train breakdowns that affected over 200,000 commuters. Full story

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An Immigration Bonus for Singaporeans? 

In order to make Singaporeans more receptive to foreigners, it may be worth considering making the benefits of their presence more tangible to Singaporeans through an “Immigration Bonus” for citizens from a revenue pool of immigrant labour levies….

Making Singaporeans appreciate foreigners

While the current efforts to mitigate the drawbacks of the influx of foreigners are steps in the right direction, two issues remain. Firstly, the fact remains that the immediate downsides clearly continue to be palpable while the benefits remain obscure. Secondly, the staunchly anti-immigration camp may not appreciate the potential cost of a closed-door immigration policy.

Widow, mother of dead Ferrari driver Ma Chi sues insurer AXA Singapore

The wife and mother left behind by deceased Ferrari driver Ma Chi are taking the vehicle's insurers to court after the companies said they intend to withdraw coverage for the deadly crash.

The Straits Times reported insurers AXA Singapore had told Mr Ma's family that the crash on May 12 at Rochor Road was a "collision", not an accident.

What this means in the insurance industry is that the driver was aware that his actions would cause an accident, thereby voiding the insurers' liability to make a payout.

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Ferrari driver's $8m estate to go to family


The Ferrari driver who died in a traffic accident almost three months ago left behind an estate worth more than $8 million.

As Mr Ma Chi, 31, did not leave a will, the money will go to his family, reported Lianhe Zaobao on Tuesday

Court documents indicated that Mr Ma's fortune was close to $8.1 million.

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