Checks & balance, values, morals & public duty: AIM saga?

Where were arguably, the checks and balance, values, morals and public duty in the AIM saga?

I refer to the article “Parking charges for teachers stem from system of checks and balances: Ong Ye Kung” (Straits Times, May 25).

It states that “The decision to charge teachers for parking is borne out of a public duty to abide by a “system of internal self-discipline” …

Yet we have to respect our internal system of checks and balances.

“This is about upholding the value of self-discipline.”

However, there are checks and balances within Singapore’s governance system.

.. it is a reminder about the kind of conversations and discourses we should be having. That policy decisions should be grounded not just on economics, but more importantly on values, morals, and public duty.””

In this connection, since we are talking about “values, morals, and public duty”, “checks and balances within Singapore’s governance system”, “upholding the value of self-discipline”, etc – perhap we should revisit the “AIM saga”?

In this regard – I refer to the article “three firms bid for PAP town councils IT contract” (Straits Times, Mar 13, 2013).

Tender bids $16.8 to $31.5m?

It states that “The estimated tender amounts to develop and maintain the computer systems range from $16.8 million to $31.5 million.”

How much for current system?

Despite widespread calls by Singaporeans for disclosure as to how much the town councils had paid for its current software system, there has been a deafening silence todate.

So, we can only guess what it cost, in light of the “$16.8 million to $31.5 million” being tendered now.

Sell and lease-back?

So, does it mean that a multi-million software’s IP rights was sold in 2010 for $$140,000 to AIM, and then leased back to the town councils for  $165,030 ($785 x 12 months x 14 town councils + $33,150)?

Why sell and lease-back, when apparently there was actually no need to do so or pay previously?

Tender qualifications?

As to “The three companies have a sizeable presence in the local IT industry” – isn’t it a stark contrast to AIM, which was a $2 company with arguably hardly any presence or experience in the local IT industry?

Government supplier registration guidelines?

With regard to “The latest tender requires the firms to have an annual turnover of at least $10 million and a paid-up capital of at least $1.5 million. This is under the S9 financial grade of the government supplier registration guidelines”, was “the S9 financial grade of the government supplier registration guidelines” applied to AIM, which had a paid-up capital of $2 and annual turnover of $58,338 (Consultancy services revenue $57,057 & Interest income $1,281) in 2000 and $1,885 (Interest income) in 1999 – which I understand were the last two years of publicly available accounts filed with ACRA?

To bid or not to bid?

In respect of “AIM, which reportedly has a paid-up capital of $2, had earlier decided it would not take part as it helped the town councils prepare the tender documents” – why did it say earlier that “AIM chairman Chandra Das also did not want to reveal whether the IT company had – or would – put in a bid. “Wait and see,” he would only say.” – is this not somewhat self-contradictory?


Develop new system?

Finally, in view of the large tender amount, shouldn’t the town councils’ residents be given more information as to why it is necessary now to develop a new software system? At such huge costs, how does it compare to the non-PAP town councils’ software?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.