Aim saga part 2 has just begun?

New open tender called?

I refer to the articles “PAP town councils call open tender for IT system” (Straits Times, Feb 21) and “No change in tender process for town councils’ computer systems, says Dr Teo” (Channel NewsAsia, Feb 21).

Aim helped to prepare tender?

The former states that “Dr Teo Ho Pin, coordinating chairman of the 14 PAP-run town councils, would not say how many parties had picked up the tender documents or whether Aim was one of them, saying that he did not want to influence the ongoing tender process.

But, he revealed, Aim helped prepare the tender specifications.

Aim may tender again?

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.”

Conflict of interest?

Is there not a possible conflict of interest for the current and last successful tenderer, like Aim,  to help “prepare the tender specifications”?

As indicated in the above remarks of both parties, is not the possible conflict of interest likely, when Aim or others associated with it, could also participate in the tender?

Maybe something is wrong with the town councils’ financial rules?

With regard to “He said the tender process is in compliance with the town councils’ financial rules”, shouldn’t a party like Aim which “helped prepare the tender specifications”, be barred from tendering?

Given the controversy of the subject matter, isn’t the possible conflict of interest even more significant and arguably unacceptable  in respect of the principles of accountability and transparency?

Why not wait for review?

Also, since the review is not completed yet, why hold a tender now which will close on March 4?

As it was said that the review would take about one to two months, and about six weeks have lapsed, why not wait for the findings of the review?

Otherwise, how can we be satisfied that the open tender now is in line with the review’s findings on the subject matter?

For example, how can the possible conflict of interest described above make any sense at all, if the review addresses conflicts of interest?

Is the Ministry of National Development (MND) in concurrence with the calling of the open tender now? Was the MND informed about the subject open tender?

As an analogy, it may be akin to M being asked to investigate possible conflicts of interest, accountability and transparency, public funds, residents’ interest, etc,  issues involving P and A – and yet P and A may be allowed to be possibly involved in a transaction now, before the investigation has been completed?

Why develop new system now?

With regard to “This time round, it is for developing a new town council management system” and “among other things, supply, develop and install a “fully operational integrated town council management system with operational support and maintenance”, given that a lot of money may have been used for the current system, shouldn’t more details be given to justify the need to develop “a new town council management system” now?

Moreover, why not wait for the review which is expected to be completed anytime soon?

Why is there an urgent need to develop a new system now?

In this connection, in respect of “as the controversial contract signed with Aim expires on April 30”, surely the expiry does not mean that the town councils can no longer use the software after April 30?

After all, by April 30, the review may already be out by March 8 – two months from the date it was announced that it would take about one to two months.

Termination again already?

As to “Yesterday, Ms Lim said WP hoped for an extension for the use of the software in Punggol East after the WP won the seat in the by-election last month.

She said the party has written to Aim, but did not reveal if this was to ask for an extension. Mr Chandra Das would only say the firm had received the letter, and did not elaborate on whether an extension would be granted. The WP plans to merge the new Punggol East town council with the existing AHTC”, what do all these mean?

That Aim intends to terminate or WP expects it to?

It may appear that everybody may be doing things as if the review and its findings may not matter at all, at least for now?

Finally, it may be somewhat ironic that “Teo Ho Pin, has said there is no change to the tender process which was recently called for the town councils’ computer systems” – because arguably, the current tender may have thrown up even more new questions than the questions about the last tender!

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.