The drama continues
Parliament has just been adjourned to this afternoon (13 February). The current hot topic being debated is on the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council’s (AHPETC) messy financial accounts and poor governance. Representatives have traded barbs, and we’re rating comments from both sides.
1. ‘If PAP had made the same mistakes, do you think WP would accept this explanation?’
This comment was made by Minister of State Sam Tan.
Verdict: We’re pretty sure the Workers’ Party (WP) would pounce on the opportunity to accuse the ruling PAP party of being unable to manage themselves well. In fact, we can envision the encounter going something like this:
“PAP’s poor financial accounts are a clear demonstration of how they have failed to keep themselves in check. If this is how accounting on the lower levels are done, we cannot imagine the state of affairs at the higher levels.
P.S Vote for us at the next GE.”
However, let’s also not forget PAP’s screw ups too. Temasek Holdings made losses, but Ho Ching remains. Vivian Balakrishnan totally busted the Youth Olympic Games budget, but he’s still in the Cabinet. Khaw Boon Wan told a weird story about some ancient Chinese woman in Parliament, but he’s still there building more hospital beds.
2. ‘the WP was giving residents’ money to its “friends”.’
This very very malicious comment was made by Law Minister K Shanmugam in a 45-minute speech.
Verdict: No clear stand on this one. That’s a serious allegation by Shanmugam there and we could shrug it off as a PAP V WP kind of mud-slinging rhetoric again, but facts don’t lie.
The Managing Agent (the thing Low Thia Khiang complained no one wanted to be for them) that AHPETC appointed to run its town councils charged higher fees than agents from any other town council. FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) charged $7.43 for each residential unit versus $4.80 for other councils. These differences amounted to an additional cost of $1.6 million per year to AHPETC.
Senior officials in the AHPETC also had ownership stakes in FMSS, so it’s hard not to suspect a little bit of a conspiracy going on. However, we sincerely hope it’s really due to the fact that no one else wanted to wash Aljunied’s floors, and not a case of taking money from the left pocket to go into the right.
The reality is that WP took money from the man in the street and gave it to FMSS, to their friends.”
1. “Government transparency and accountability will benefit all Singaporeans”
This statement was made by WP MP Pritam Singh in a 2011 speech and used by Shanmugam to tease them on their apparent failure.
This was taken from the official website of the Workers’ Party.
Verdict: We see no such transparency and accountability on the side of the WP. The reason why this financial fiasco came to light was not initiated by WP, but only after news outlets had carried these stories, forcing WP to make a statement. If anything, their defence in Parliament was also meek, and doomed for failure against the PAP’s cross-examination.
Lesson learnt? Don’t make promises that you cannot keep.
2. “Minister, if you were a resident, I’ll answer your question.”
This statement by the same MP Pritam Singh takes home the award of Dumbest Comment Made. So Singh doesn’t need to answer to Parliament, but only to the Aljunied residents? Then why even bother holding Parliament sessions; let’s just all move to having lengthy dialogue sessions with our residents at void decks.
Minister of State Sam Tan made the best rebuttal:
“I’m an Aljunied resident. You can give your answers to me.”