AIM debate in Parliament: MND vs WP (Round 3)?

theonlinecitizen May 17, 2013


By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to MP Teo Ho Pin, Co-ordinating Chairman of PAP Town Councils’ statement (16 May) on his facebook page.

By my calculations?

It states that “By my calculations, it will increase her (Sylvia Lim) figure of $7.58 in 2012, to $8.00 this year and $8.50 next year!”

This works out to an increase of 5.5 and 6.3 per cent for this year and next year, respectively.

Plucked from the air?

Now, how did he get the 5.5 and 6.3 per cent figures? (from WP or MND? Or did he just pluck it from the air? Or does he know something that nobody seems to know?)

Basis of calculations?

Now, you can’t get more vague then by saying “By my calculations” – what is the basis of your calculations?

Anyway, using his figures, the total contract value for the 3 years works out as follows:

2012: $7.58 x 57,899 units x 12 months = $5,266,493

2013: $8.00 (5.5% increase) x 57,899 x 12 = $5,558,304

2014: $8.50 (6.3% increase) x 57,899 x 12 = $5,905,698

Total for the 3 years = $16, 730,495

But, this total figure does not tally with the $16,752,314 which the MND used in its calculations which it said was the sum that the WP had submitted to the HDB.

However, using a rate of increase of 5.9 per cent per annum gives a total sum of $16,750,339 which matches the MND’s  $16,752,314 almost exactly.

The workings are:

2012: $7.58 x 57,899 units x 12 months = $5,266,493

2013: $8.03 (5.9% increase) x 57,899 x 12 = $5,579,148

2014: $8.50 (5.9% increase) x 57,899 x 12 = $5,905,698

Total for the 3 years = $16, 750,339

The point I’m trying to make is that you can’t just take an arbitrary rate of increase which is different in each of the next 2 years. Where does it say or rather what is the source of the basis that the rate of increase will be different in each of the two years – where did the 5.5 and 6.3 per cent come from?

Allow me to explain with an analogy:

Primary 6 math question: Student W agrees to pay Tutor M $7.58 a month for tuition in this year, with a x per cent a year increase in the tuition fee for the next 2 years. If the total sum that Student W pays to  Tutor M for the 3 years is y – calculate x?

In this connection, is it the norm for town councils to accept and sign contracts with managing agents that allow for an increasing rate of increase in the subsequent years? If this is indeed the case, then something may be very wrong because as I understand it, the norm may rarely be to allow an increasing rate of increase, but rather a fixed compound rate of increase.

What is the source or basis for this assertion that AHTC’s contract with FMSS is on an increasing rate of increase basis?

Move away from this “distraction”

Anyway, I think we should move away from this “distraction” of AHTC’s contract with FMSS, and get back to the main issue – which is the debate in Parliament on the MND Town Council Review Report.

One thing at a time please.

Focus on the subject of the debate in Parliament?

Otherwise, if I may use an analogy – it is kind of like we are supposed to focus and analyse what’s wrong with the way that we have been doing something – but we keep quarrelling about one tiny aspect of what one person has done vis-a-vis what another person has or has not done, without really addressing the questions and issues on the main subject matter.  Kind of like “Penny wise, pound foolish”.

We need to get back to the purpose and main subject of the debate in Parliament – AIM.

Since we are talking about getting back to the debate in Parliament – allow me to do so.

So, let me refer to the debate in Parliament on the MND Town Council Review Report.

Are we so stupid?

The MND Minister said “In any case, are we so stupid? As the WP themselves point out, the people who suffer are the residents.

Why would we want to deliberately disrupt the lives of residents?

Why would we want to deliberately disrupt the lives of residents in Aljunied? Would the WP just keep quiet and not make a political issue out of it?

Who then would get the blame? Why would the PAP want to hurt the interest of residents in Aljunied and alienate them? How could we hope to regain Aljunied if we did this?

Ms Sylvia Lim said that the PAP is not concerned about the passengers sitting in the Cessna getting hurt should it crash land. This is self-righteous, and – pardon me for saying so – arrogant.

Many of us in this House have been serving Singaporeans for decades, long before she entered this House. Please, don’t behave as if you are the only patriot in this House.

Do you honestly believe that the WP would blame themselves if they crash, even if there is nothing to do with the plane engine, but because they are bad pilots? No way. I think they will also start pointing fingers at everybody else.

“Collateral damage in a bigger political game”?

So when Ms Sylvia Lim said that the AIM transaction shows that the PAP is hurting the people in Aljunied and that it is just“collateral damage in a bigger political game”, I am disappointed at such a comment, What is the bigger political game?

It is about winning back Aljunied, not about doing something petty that will just upset everybody and make us lose Aljunied permanently

Treat all TCs fairly and equitably

When managing TC matters, MND officials know me and my style. My instruction to my colleagues has always been – treat all TCs fairly and equitably. For instance, we apply the same formula when computing grants to be disbursed to TCs.”

Parliamentary report that only PAP constituencies got CIPC funds?

In this connection, reader ES sent me a Parliamentary report for the sitting on 7 July 1995 (see below) which shows that about 79 CCCs (there were 81 constituencies in 1995) had received CIPC funds, except the 2 opposition wards of  Hougang and Potong Pasir.

Parliament No: 8
Session No: 2
Volume No: 64
Sitting No: 13
Sitting Date: 07-07-1995

Appendix C

CCCs which had received CIPC funds:

Aljunied                      Kg Chai Chee

Ang Mo Kio                    Kg Glam

Ayer Rajah                    Kg Kembangan

Bedok                         Kg Ubi

Bishan East                   Kim Keat

Bishan North                  Kim Seng

Boon Lay                      Kolam Ayer

Boon Teck                     Kreta Ayer

Braddell Heights              Kuo Chuan

Brickworks                    Leng Kee

Bukit Batok                   MacPherson

Bukit Merah                   Marine Parade

Bukit Panjang                 Moulmein

Bukit Timah                   Mountbatten

Buona Vista                   Nee Soon East

Cairnhill                     Nee Soon South

Changi                        Pasir Ris

Changkat                      Paya Lebar

Changkat South                Punggol

Cheng San                     Queenstown

Chong Boon                    Radin Mas

Chong Pang                    Sembawang

Chua Chu Kang                 Serangoon Gardens

Clementi                      Siglap

Eunos                         Tampines East

Fengshan                      Tampines North

Geylang Serai                 Tampines West

Geylang West                  Tanglin

Hong Kah East                 Tanjong Pagar

Hong Kah North                Teck Ghee

Hong Kah South                Telok Blangah

Hong Kah West                 Thomson

Jalan Besar                   Tiong Bahru

Jalan Kayu                    Toa Payoh

Joo Chiat                     Ulu Pandan

Jurong                        West Coast

Kaki Bukit                    Yio Chu Kang

Kallang                       Yuhua

Kebun Baru

“Potong Pasir did not obtain a single cent from the CIPC fund or any HDB-related funding”?

Isn’t the above evidence to support what NCMP  Lina Chiam said during the debate – ”

When the Town Councils Act was passed in 1988, it was said that the Government wanted to make life harder for Opposition MPs in running their constituencies. Nevertheless, Potong Pasir Town Council, the only Opposition-held town council then, took up the challenge. We worked hard to run the town. I believe we did a good job, and I believe we earned the trust of our residents throughout 27 years.

But a lot of unfair obstacles were thrown at the Potong Pasir Town Council.

To obtain CIPC funds, we had to seek the endorsement of the Advisor of the Residents’ Committees, who had always been the PAP’s candidate for the constituency. Indeed, no Opposition politician has ever been allowed to become the Advisor of the RCs, even when that politician is the sitting MP for that constituency.

When it was under the Opposition, Potong Pasir did not obtain a single cent from the CIPC fund or any HDB-related funding. The sole exception was funding for improving barrier-free accessibility, granted in 2010. That was, after all, a nation-wide exercise for wheel-chair bound residents”.

2 bus services become 1?

Also, according to Singapore Armchair Critic’s article “Who’s politicing the governance of constituencies” (The Online Citizen, May 15) – “Potong Pasirians of my time could instantly relate to this inconvenience: in those days there was only one bus service (service 142) that plied the entire neighborhood.

There used to be two, but bus service 147 was rerouted a few months after Mr Chiam was returned in GE 1991 such that it no longer looped into the town. Despite the petition of more than 8,000 Potong Pasirians and the fact that the feeder also served hundreds of students at the Saint Andrew’s School in the neighborhood, the bus service was removed in 1992 (source: “No direct bus to town,” The Straits Times, 5 April 1992).

PAP would, of course, claim that this was not politically motivated but Potong Pasirians like myself felt otherwise.

“Disrupting the lives of residents”?

Going by the experience of Potong Pasirians (and Hougang residents too), it is all too evident that PAP has not been averse to disrupting the lives of residents as a part of its bigger political game.

No HDB upgrading?

“Old topic” or not, the HDB upgrading programs are another case-in-point as Pritam Singh and Lina Chiam rightly cited. To refresh selective or failing memory, it was former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong who politicized the upgrading projects (“Voter will decide upgrading priority,” The Straits Times, 13 April 1992):

“Constituencies which gave the PAP a clear vote would receive first priority”?

While those constituencies which gave the PAP a clear vote would receive first priority, Mr Goh made clear that the HDB upgrading project would still be carried out nationwide, as overall, the majority of Singaporeans had voted for the PAP…

When the HDB started deciding on which constituencies to upgrade, factors such as the demographic profile and age of the flats would be considered. But where they were the same, how residents vote at the polls would determine how soon they could have the upgrading (emphasis mine).

Thus residents in opposition wards were unfairly denied the upgrading in their neighborhoods for years. Yet when Low Thia Kiang and Chiam See Tong overcame the hurdles and offered free lift upgrading to their constituents, Mah Bow Tan, citing rules set by the Ministry of National Development, insisted that residents must co-pay for the upgrading (?!!)

Talk about hurting the interests of residents.

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.