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Reblog: Views on the AIM saga

January 4, 2013 2 comments

There are many posts in the blogosphere discussing on the almost embarrassing act of a Prime Minister shooting out lawyer letters to Alex Au, the blogger of the popular Yawningbread.org. So I am not going to write more, since the questions are very much well known. I do, have a couple of posts from other social-political website that shares my sentiments and questions regarding the saga. So in my bid to promote similar views, I have them reblogged on my blog:

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Source: http://andrewlohhp.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/stop-being-so-childish-prime-minister/

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.

But no. A lawyer’s letter was obviously deemed the better option.

Nonetheless, lets not let this threat of legal action distract us from the very important matter of the AIM/PAP controversy – for there are still many questions, serious questions, left unanswered, even after some 3 weeks since the matter came into the public spotlight.

Dr Teo Ho Pin, the coordinating chairman of the 14 PAP town councils, have yet to explain, for example, why he and the chairmen of the town councils, did not see the conflict of interest of awarding and selling the rights of the computer system to a PAP-owned company. If they did, why did they still choose to go ahead in awarding the contract to AIM?

He has also not disclosed how much was used to develop the software in the first place. Or indeed, how much AIM paid for the software. Why was AIM’s bid for the contract submitted, apparently, one week after the closing date of the tender – and accepted?

Alex raised some very pertinent matters too – such as the danger that there is nothing to stop the PAP from selling out other services to PAP-owned companies. By the way, the PAP has declined to reveal how many companies it owns. This too is a problem because any opposition party which wins a constituency may find itself having to deal with PAP-owned companies, as the Workers’ Party did with AIM in Aljunied.

It is thus important, in the name of full accountability, that the PAP disclose the number of companies it has, and the nature of their business.

In the case of AIM, the PAP declined to disclose its past business dealings, or other details about the company.

So, in spite of the threat of legal action by the prime minister, these questions are being asked even more loudly now – and it would do the PAP a whole lot of good if it addressed each one openly.

And the best way to do so is in a “live” press conference in the presence of the mainstream media and the alternative media. Take the matter head-on, clear all doubts, lay out all facts.

That is, if the PAP has nothing to hide, which I am sure is the case.

And it really – I mean, really – is time to lay down the hatchet.

Engage Singaporeans. Engage the issue. Engage the questions – and not engage lawyers to issue threats.

Stop being so childish, prime minister.

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Source: http://www.raviphilemon.net/2013/01/opposition-has-more-integrity-than-pap.html

Mr Khaw Boon Wan
Chairman
People’s Action Party

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.

Since the Party is subjected to the said Act, it is important for the Party to give details of the companies the Party own, for only that will give the general public the confidence that the ruling party is not above the integrity expected of other organisations involved in the local political process, and that it is not funded by foreign elements or sources.

I write to you as Party Chairman to shed more light on this issue.

Thank you.”

AIM (PAP-owned company) too, like its owner, has declined to give details of its track record and business dealings. This silence, is extremely disturbing, and I hope I get a response from PAP’s chairman soon.

In the midst of the unraveling of this issue, some have accused Workers’ Party of keeping relative silence because they too like the PAP, have engaged their own company to manage the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. That accusation is not true.

While the PAP has acknowledged that AIM is owned by PAP, FM Solution & Services Pte Ltd (FMSS) is not owned by WP, and also no WP member has any interest in FMSS (see THIS). Yes, the General Manager of FMSS may have formerly been the secretary of Hougang Town Council, but where the town councils are so politicised, I can understand why.

With the PAP deciding to not disclose which are the companies they own, you don’t know which are the ones the PAP owns and which they don’t. If WP is not careful about who they award the town council management contract to, and if it gets awarded to a PAP-owned company, that company may potentially sabotage WP’s town council operations in order to reduce WP’s electability in the same constituency in the next General Election.

The PAP being the ruling party, and being the governing party for over 50 years, must first set fairness as a benchmark. Where that is not established, whether WP’s action to award contract to FMSS was beyond reproach or not, becomes very subjective. And no, it’s not a competition about who’s more wrong, or where the greater conflict of interest lies. The fact is, WP does not own any companies – not one of the other political parties do.  But PAP does, and no one knows how many such companies they own.

WP, and all the other opposition parties try to serve the citizens of Singapore, in an uneven field created by the PAP;  but they compete with more integrity than the PAP.

****

All in all, the questions raised are logical. As a citizen, it is my right to question the questionable. How the heck can one sounds ‘in-defamtory’ when the PAP is not giving clear details on their explanation (and it took them more than 3 days to come up with an answer??? That itself is questionable!)?  PAP has a chance to showcase their integrity and transparency by coming forward to explain with concrete evidence that Alex’s posts are defamatory. Yet, they stupidly choose to undertake the perceived negatively action of throwing libel suits. What they achieved in the end is probably a slight relief of having suggestive posts being taken down but end up being a loud hailer for deeper questioning of the AIM saga.

Dear Prime Minister, seriously, grow up. Give me the answers that we citizens demand and deserve. As a political party, in the name of transparency, which the PAP has always loudly acclaimed, disclose all the companies the PAP owns or have vested interest in. How else do you expect citizens to believe there’s no dealings being undertaken that could run against the interest of Singaporeans? Given the recent episodes of corruption and immoral coverings of senior civil servants, including a MP/ Speaker of the House, where is the guarantee that such bad apples or dealings don’t exist within the PAP party? After all, didn’t the ruling party absorb most of their ‘talents’ from the exact same pool?

Cabinet Reshuffle (again)

July 31, 2012 Leave a comment

It came as a shock for many when the PAP government announced a shuffle of cabinets, turning MCYS and MICA to these weirdly worded ministries like Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSFD); the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY); and the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).

Sometimes I wonder what did all these people in those ministries actually do every day. Did anyone really benefit from anything that MCYS (sponsorships for schools probably) and MICA (which I only remember them doing censoring) do? How can a ministry magically improve family ties?

From what I discerned from the write up of the 3 cabinets, the government believes the ‘family’ factor warranted a full ministry in MSFD, MCYS changed their name to MCCY and assume MICA’s art and heritage functions after removing the ‘family oriented unit’ (net work load remains the same it seems), and MICA’s responsibility essentially becomes lesser after a name change to MCI.

Synergy? Frankly speaking, I don’t see any. What I see is simply a lot more red tape and bureaucracy. From my previous experience in a prominent ministry, there is barely any synergy when you talk about two different departments, much less between ministries. There is more mistrust than synergy as scholars/ leaders in each stat-board and ministry compete to outshine one another. The truth is, the imperialistic system installed will only add on more layers of miscommunication and confusion between huge groups. Why can’t MCYS simply appoint specialized departments to oversee specific functions and coordinate between them? There’s no rule on how big a ministry should be.

What I deduce from this reshuffle is: this is simply a promotion drive. With one more ministry, one can create more positions for themselves. The PAP government needs a full female minister after the ‘unfortunate’ dismissal of ex-MP Lim Hwee Hua in Aljunied, to signal gender equality. There’s not much choice to begin with, so there goes lucky Grace Fu. Then there’s the factor of wage decrease a few months ago. How do you continue to entice people to join PAP after the wage cut? There’s always the promotion drive to circumvent the drop in wage.

Think of citizens as shareholders of a company. Now Singapore Inc wants to create new positions, increase the cost and deliver essentially the same results. Should the share price go up or down?

It doesn’t matter how many ministries you have. If you really have capable people, you won’t need so many people leading the various ministries. Why do we have two full ministers as Ministers of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, which as the name suggest, should be headed by the Prime Minister? Does the incapability of LTA in regulating public transport means LTA should be split up into Ministry of Bus, Ministry of Train and Ministry of Cars?

Here comes the defamation suits again

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

And what is new? So some time ago, some of the most prominent bloggers were served the legal letters from some members of the PAP government for defamation. The lack of transparency (like seriously, how much did we have in our national reserves again?) and accountability (like why is Mr Mah Bow Tan fired only after a drop in votes despite years of complaints from the public on housing prices?) of the ruling party is the sole reason why people loves to speculate. Because information is controlled by the government, it is a no brainer that the government always holds the upper hand (legally) in refuting any forms of speculation.

While the government can continue to assert their rights, they are unable to stop people from taking among themselves. Simply taking on defamation suit without a corresponding transparency might stop the rumors (online at least) for a while but it’s the after math of doing so that is more damaging. Those people who might have forgotten about the issue might take a renew interest into the matter.

Take for example the issue of nepotism. One blogger accused the reason Ho Ching was CEO of Temasek Holdings is simply because she is the Prime Minister’s wife. Of course, that accusation was refuted and it was stated (quote from ChannelNewsAsia):

“This is a false and baseless allegation. As is publicly known, Mdm Ho Ching was appointed on merit and through proper process.”

Publicly known?? Like how? I never knew the process of selecting a CEO for Temasek Holdings was ever disclosed. Is it even possible to prove whether nepotism took or never took place especially when Temasek Holdings is such a secretive organization (the financial statements don’t tell much)? While I think anyone with any background can take on a job in finance, it is not unreasonable to expect raised eyebrows when someone who had been an engineer for more than 2 decades could take on the complex job of leading and managing a company dealing with investing hundreds of billions of dollars within a couple of years. The fact that she was appointed CEO in the same year Lee Hsien Long was appointed Prime Minister also does not help in quelling more rumors of nepotism.

Categories: PAP Not Transparent

More money lost via Temasek

July 5, 2011 6 comments

Temasek Holdings has once again taken huge money losing positions (via many sub-hedge funds) in ‘they think it’s stable stocks to ride on China’s economic growth’:

Source: Bloomberg

Temasek Holdings Pte, the Singapore state-owned investment company, is seeking to raise about HK$28 billion ($3.6 billion) by selling stakes in China Construction Bank Corp. (939) and Bank of China Ltd. (3988), two of the country’s three biggest banks.

The Singapore-based investment company is selling about HK$18.7 billion of shares in Bank of China and about HK$9.3 billion in an offering of China Construction Bank stock, according to term sheets obtained by Bloomberg News.

Shares of China’s four biggest banks fell in Hong Kong trading today after Moody’s Investors Service said banks’ loans to local governments may exceed official estimates by more than 3.5 trillion yuan ($540 billion) more than official estimates and the credit outlook for the industry could decline.

The extra liabilities, coming on top of the national audit office’s findings last week of 10.7 trillion yuan in local government debt, may fuel concern that banks will be unable to absorb losses on defaults should property prices drop.

Bank of China shares slid 0.3 percent to HK$3.86 in Hong Kong today while China Construction Bank dropped 1.2 percent to HK$6.48. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (1398) Ltd., the world’s most profitable bank, fell 0.5 percent to HK$5.93.

Morgan Stanley (MS) is managing both sales, the terms show. Jeffrey Fang, a spokesman for Temasek, declined to comment.

2006 Investment

Temasek’s Fullerton Financial Holdings Pte. Ltd. unit is offering about 5.2 billion shares in Bank of China for HK$3.60 to HK$3.67 each, according to a term sheet. That’s as much as 6.7 percent less than today’s closing price.

Temasek owned about 10.5 billion shares, or 12.5 percent, of Hong Kong-listed Bank of China, according to a Dec. 31 filing. The fund paid about $1.5 billion for a five percent stake in the lender in 2006.

Cairnhill Investments (Mauritius) Pte. Ltd. and Crescent Investments (Mauritius) Pte. Ltd., both controlled by Temasek, are also selling about 1.5 billion shares in China Construction Bank for HK$6.22 to HK$6.35 each. The Singapore fund holds seven percent, or 16.9 billion shares, of China Construction Bank, according to company filings.

Temasek, set up in 1974, bought $1 billion of stock in China Construction Bank’s initial public offering in 2005. It also purchased an undisclosed stake in the Chinese lender from China SAFE Investment Ltd. the same year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zijing Wu in London at zwu17@bloomberg.net Cathy Chan in Hong Kong at kchan14@bloomberg.net.

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This is obviously a desperate move to dispose off questionable chinese national banks with high links with a corrupt chinese government. It’s appalling how the Financial Crisis had not taught the two megamoths GIC and Temasek that bank stocks are not exactly the best stocks to own. And they obviously takes up very risky positions (looking at how Temasek can be purchasing the same stocks via 2 other hedge funds). So who are the management of Temasek accountable to at the end of the day? The citizens deserve a clear answer and some responsibilities taken.

Dangling Carrots: Upgrading

May 2, 2011 Leave a comment

The usual tactic PAP used to instill fear and reluctance for citizens to vote for opposition. Is it fair to use tax-payers money to threaten tax payers? I leave it to you to decide.

Where does the ruling party get their funds from to upgrade their estates? Please don’t tell me you raise the funds yourself ( Mr Desmond Choo might want to reveal who are his ‘donors’ if he dares). The PAP government can easily bank roll the funds. With so much of taxpayers’ money, it is unfair for the ruling party to keep questioning the opposition parties’ capabilities to raise funds to maintain the estates. If the opposition has no access to government funds, the ruling party should not have access to government funds as well.

When it is a well known fact that the ruling party can prioritize upgrading for their own constituents as the opposing wards are small, Singaporeans need to understand that when the number and size of opposing wards gets larger, the PAP will loss the ability to dangle this carrot. If the opposing wards grow to 40%, do you think the ruling party can still afford to not give equal upgrading to all estates? The political repercussions will only spread and the ruling party will have no choice but to be, for once, fair and square in distributing public funds. In any case, estate upgrading is simply the basics of what the government is elected to do. Why else are we paying taxes??

The GRC system allows the PAP to retain control over an obscenely large part of Singapore. But it is a double-edged sword. Should a critical mass of GRCs be won over by the opposition party, the reverse will be true. The PAP will loss all means of threats in future elections. So you see, there is a lot more benefits if more opposition parties be elected into Parliament.

So do you want a fairer, more equitable government? Or do you want to continue another 5 years of increasing inflation, foreigners influx, and ultimately local genocide as the government tactically replaces the Singaporean population with PRs and new citizens?

P.S.: An admirable comment from a Potong Pasir resident on Facebook: Click here.

Reserves

April 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Reserves? What reserves? Nobody (except maybe the prime minister) ever saw that mysterious ‘reserve’.  The ‘reserve’ has been so sacred that it has been used as the ultimate reason is everything ranging from tax spending to housing policies.  PAP has been using the scare tactic about prudence in maintaining our ‘reserves’ so that we can deal with ‘difficult times’.

Since independence, who else, apart from the Prime Minister and maybe the Minister of Finance knows how much wealth the country has? When the first and only people elected President Ong Teng Cheong made the rare move in demanding how much reserves the country had, the reply the President got is it’ll take more than 56 man years to calculate the massive wealth of the country! WHAT RUBBISH!?? Is Singapore so rich? Or rather, is the PAP so obscenely rich? So you mean the reserves were never audited? Who manages the reserves? Who is accountable for our reserves? How much is our reserves? WHERE is our reserves?? Simple questions on transparency that was never answered. The reserves belongs to the nation, it belongs to Singaporeans, it DOES NOT BELONGS TO THE PAP!

And after the poor President did what he was supposed to do (how the heck do you expect him to guard something he don’t even know where is it and how much?), he was never given an answer, black listed by the PAP and rewarded with a non-state burial when he passed away even though he was the President. If a President does not deserve a state burial ceremony, who does? Maybe only Lee Kwan Yew and his offspring. What kind of logic is that?

  1. If Singapore has so much reserves, why does the PAP government fear spending them? Do you know how hard it is to spend something that takes more than 56 man years to calculate?
  2. If Singapore has so much reserves, does not the citizen deserve to be allocated some to help them in difficult times such as ever increasing inflation (such as NOW)? A one off payment of $4-800 hardly covers the increase in cost over 5 years.
  3. How much reserve is enough? The nation has been increasing our reserves over 45 years. So are the reserves invested? If yes, what are the returns and shouldn’t the returns be returned back to society leaving the principle unchanged? If the reserves are not invested, then why keep accumulating losing out on all the opportunity cost?

Can the PAP answer the above questions? If not, it is simply not accountable.

Conclusion: The PAP is deliberately hiding important reserves away from the citizens, and hiding away from the important questions, making absolutely no attempt to answer basic questions illustrated above. The wealth is not attributed to the citizens. The wealth is only accumulated for the sake of the ruling party. As such, it is an act of betrayal of the citizen’s trust, and with no intent to be accountable, it is therefore, corrupt.

If they are not corrupt, why can’t the PAP government be answerable to us on OUR reserves?

Categories: PAP Not Transparent