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
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.
The statement noted that when the WP took over the town council in the wake of their election win, the WP was informed that the existing computer and financial systems used by the town council would be terminated from 1 August 2011. The reason given was “due to material changes to the membership of the Town Council”. AKA, the opposition had taken over the town council.
Ms. Lim then pointed out that the computer system used was developed collectively by 14 PAP town councils (including Aljunied) over a period of more than 15 months but in January 2011, the system was sold to a little-known company called M/s Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM). The town councils then had to lease back the systems from AIM, paying the company fees every month for the usage of the computer systems. Ms. Lim gave details about AIM and noted the fact that the company was dormant.
Since the statement by the WP, a report from online socio-political site TR Emeritus gave more juicy details about AIM.
TR Emeritus reported that AIM had been operating out of an office which it allegedly shares its address with more than 1,000 other businesses and the actual company operating from the address was one KCS Corporate Services Pte Ltd. Then in a second report, the alternative news website noted that AIM consisted of just three people, AIM chairman, S Chandra Das, and directors Lau Ping Sum and Chew Heng Ching. All of whom were former PAP Members of Parliament. Also the company only had a total paid-up capital of just $2, with $1 held in shares by Chandra Das, and the other $1 owned by Lau. To make it even more laughable, this was discovered via the firm's business filing with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.
Also it noted that the monthly payments by the town councils would have to come from the residents.
Boy, did the MND stepped into it or what! I find it laughable that a small pothole by them at the WP would become the event that exposed the dirty politics of
I have to feel for the guys at the MND. I assumed no one at the MND knew about
the “arrangement” between the town councils and AIM or else they would never
let the WP have this golden chance to expose it this way.
Of course between the Michael Palmer scandal, workers going on strike, the coming by-election, and a school principal being investigated for corruption, this potential scandal reminds just that. Probably to the WP’s dismay, it has not gained any traction with the
For that reason, I strongly suggest to the PAP to cancel the “arrangement” between AIM and the town councils. I mean I feel the residents are in fact paying twice. Once because the system was developed with money provided by the town councils and again now for the “monthly” use of the systems. A system that is now run by a shell company that consist all of 3 people!
Now the last thing you want going into another by-election is ammunition for the opposition to embarrass you, and this is what this potential scandal is; a potential embarrassment. Lucky for the PAP, it has not gained traction yet. No harm done yet. If the PAP is smart, they will get rid of the “arrangement” before it does any damage.