AGO: PA lapses – 25% grassroots new citizens/PRs?

Office workers walk through the central business district during lunch break.PHOTO: BLOOMBERGOffice workers walk through the central business district during lunch break.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

What is the proportion of new citizens and PRs in the grassroots?

I refer to the article “Auditor-General report: Lapses in People’s Association’s procurement, welfare assistance management” (Channel NewsAsia, Jul 17).

It states that “AGO test checks also revealed that cash gifts and assistance-in-kind given out under grassroots organisations’ welfare assistance schemes from April 2016 to June 2017 were not properly managed.

As a result, there was no assurance that the assistance, which included supermarket vouchers, food vouchers and groceries for needy residents, were given to only eligible applicants and properly accounted for, the report said.

For example, three grassroots organisations did not have documentary evidence to substantiate residents’ eligibility for cash and assistance-in-kind at festive events.

PA said the applicants were interviewed and assessed for welfare assistance but that it was not documented, and said it would put in place procedures to standardise the evaluation process across grassroots organisations.

AGO also found that there were weak controls over reimbursement claims for food vouchers, with some grassroots organisations failing to invalidate vouchers that had already been used, and not tagging them to the reimbursement claims. One grassroots organisation also did not keep records of authorised representatives who could claim reimbursement, exposing itself to the risk of paying to unauthorised individuals.

In addition, some of the groceries purchased for distribution to needy residents were not the same in type and price as those stated in the contracts with a vendor, or could not be accounted for.”

I was talking to a friend and he said jokingly “aiyah nowadays the grassroots are flooded with new citizens and PRs who can’t write English one – so, how to document lah”.

I was kind of intrigued by this – so, I googled about “grassroots”.

According to the article “New citizens and PRs flocking to join PAP grassroots organizations” (TR Emeritus, Jul 12, 2010) – “According to a Straits Times report today, they now constitute 20 percent of some 24,000 grassroots leaders in Singapore with 1,400 PRs and 4,600 new citizens”.

Actually, I suspect the calculator may be faulty because 1,400 plus 4,500 divided by 24,000 is about 25 and not 20 per cent?

According to the articles “More new immigrants to serve as grassroots leaders” (Channel NewsAsia, May 18, 2013) and “MP Indranee: P1 registration priority given to grassroots leaders not based along party lines” (TR Emeritus, May 13, 2013) – “Currently, some 3,000 new immigrants are grassroots leaders.

They make up nine per cent of Singapore’s 33,000-member strong grassroots leadership.

The People’s Association hopes to make community leaders out of 300 more new immigrants — increasing the proportion of grassroots leaders who are new immigrants from the current nine per cent to 10 per cent by 2014″.

Did this 3,000 new immigrants refer to new citizens only?

How many more were PRs?

Why is it that they comprised 9 per cent of grassroots leaders (and PA wanted (in 2013) to increase it to 10 per cent!)?

Singaporeans under-represented in grassroots?

Why is it that Singaporeans appear to be grossly and disproportionately represented in the grassroots, relative to the proportion of new citizens and PRs to true-blue Singaporeans?

If we include grassroots leaders who are PRs, what is the proportion of the combined total of new citizens and PRs, to citizens now?

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.