Government agencies had far worse lapses than the now-defunct AHPETC, and yet managed to get away relatively lightly with such mismanagement of money compared to the treatment meted out to Workers’ Party town councillors.
An anonymous netizen put together annual reports from the Auditor-General’s Office showing all the lapses involving government agencies related to waiving of competition, procurement, and related-party transactions.
Aljunied-Hougang Town Council and Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council are suing WP town councillors along the lines of those 3 issues, accusing them of breaching fiduciary duty leading to overpayments of AHPETC managing agent FMSS.
The WP town councillors, secretary-general Pritam Singh, chairman Sylvia Lim and former secretarty-general Low Thia Khiang have denied all allegations and have challenged the authorities to arrest them and commence criminal proceedings if any wrongdoing is suspected.
Said the anonymous netizen:
“In each of the 3 categories for which WP is being brought to court, there are between 6 to 20 government agencies who have also been called out by AGO for similar lapses in management of public monies.”
The highlight of the big data analysis include:
(1) Procurement: Weak grounds for waiving competition
NPARKS ($20.8 mil). AGO found another three consultancy services contracts that were awarded via waiver of competition without compelling reasons. NParks cited tight timeline as the main reason for waiving competition in the papers seeking approval. There was, however, no evidence to show that the tight timeline was caused by unforeseen and urgent events.
(2) Procurement: Lapses in procurement process
WP ($2.8 mil). Engaging LST Architects for 10 projects even though they were higher-priced than Design Metabolists in 7 of these projects without adequate justification.
HSA ($25.6 mil). Five incumbent contractors were awarded contracts even though their tender proposals did not fully meet the tender requirements. There were also irregularities in the evaluation of the tenders. HSA did not uphold the Government procurement principles of transparency, open and fair competition and value for money for these five tenders.
NPARKS ($2.37 mil). NParks allowed a consultant to commence services before approval was obtained to call a limited tender for the consultancy services inviting only the consultant to bid. By doing so, NParks had prematurely communicated to the consultant that it had intended to award the contract to the consultant.
(3) Lapses in Related-party transactions
Temasek Polytechnic ($40 mil). AGO found lapses in Temasek Polytechnic (TP)’s evaluation of and approval for its investments in bonds. […] AGO noted that for two of the five bonds (totalling $40 million), […] TP’s evaluation relied heavily on inputs sought from a person who had an interest in the company that issued the bonds. With these lapses, there was no assurance that the evaluation was robust.
(4) Outcome of Audit Findings
There are several audit cases that violate the principles and rules of public monies management, where a handful of cases involved larger sums than what WP’s being charged for, and none of these audit findings led to the same outcome that WP is facing:
Temasek Polytechnic ($40 mil – Lapse in related-party transaction). TP informed AGO that it would improve its process and documentation.
NPARKS ($20.8 mil – Weak grounds for waiving competition). NParks acknowledged that the reasons cited for waiver of competition were not compelling and indicated that it should have called open tenders instead.
(Compare this with how the Ministry of National Development withheld S$14 million of S&CC grants to AHTC and only released the money after independent accountants were tasked to investigate the town council’s books, and how WP town councillors have been flogged in parliament for the past 4 years leading up to their latest lawsuit.)
Said the netizen:
“Why are the custodians of public monies not as concerned about other instances of lapses in public monies management? These are the same people who are investing years’ of time and money (of AGO, Parliament, PwC, KPMG, and most recently the Courts, among others) to get to the bottom of WP’s lapses.
If these questions cannot be answered satisfactorily, it then follows to say that the pursuit against WP leaders on these audit issues is an unfair treatment towards opposition party leaders.
But don’t take my word for it! Explore the data for yourself here and see what you think. It includes every single audit case in the category of lapses in procurement and related-party transactions found in AGO’s annual reports from FY2012 – FY2017”
Explaining his purpose for putting together this report, the anonymous netizen said:
“I’m a Singaporean and I believe that no matter which party you support – Singapore will benefit from more rigorous debate in Parliament on issues that are important to us – healthcare, education, social issues, etc. I am remaining anonymous for one reason: my own safety.
You can find the full report here.