Time for co-driver to give driver a kick, instead of a slap

The Workers’ Party (WP) chairman, Sylvia Lim, fired another salvo at the People’s Action Party (PAP) over the AIM saga at the WP rally on Tuesday night. It was a little of a surprise since she had withdrawn her adjournment motion which she had filed in parliament, citing the convening of the review announced by the prime minister as the reason.

Nonetheless, kudos to Ms Lim for not letting the matter rest – and for also raising it during the by-election, a period which she knows would give it maximum publicity.

And indeed it has.

Swiftly, though, the man on the other side of the fence – Dr Teo Ho Pin, coordinating chairman of the 14 PAP town councils at the centre of the controversy – issued a statement on the same night in response to Ms Lim’s rally attack.

But – again – Dr Teo has missed the entire point altogether. Again, he refuses to acknowledge the issues which many are and have been raising. Instead, he reiterated the same tiresome – and irrelevant – points he had previously made, namely (and in his words):

a) AIM was awarded the contract after an open tender by PAP Town Councils, to centralise software to maintain the current IT system and help develop a new system

b) The transaction brought benefits and savings to the Town Councils. AIM did not make any financial gains from the transaction.

c) It was the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) which terminated the contract, and not AIM. Ms Lim herself has admitted that the AHTC’s arrears are high, and that this has nothing to do with AIM or the changeover of the IT system, and that the AHTC could do better. This is the key issue – the performance of the Town Councils, and how well they are managed by the WP.

It feels like Dr Teo is stuck in a time-warp, oblivious or pretending to be oblivious to the issues raised, which centres on questions of transparency, a conflict of interests, the costs of developing the computer system in question, and the tender process itself.

In short, Dr Teo seems to still be sleeping.

As the silence continues, more questions will surface, and the public will take it upon themselves to dig for information – as indeed someone apparently did, in this article on Temasek Review Emeritus: Did TCs develop software for $5M before selling it to AIM for $140K?

The issue seems to be getting bigger with each passing day, and the longer the matter is left to fester, the more the PAP government will lose the people’s trust.

It is a simple matter of being open and laying out all the information, and answering the questions which the public have.

There really is no need for a “review” of the sale of the computer system, as the prime minister has ordered.

The danger here for the PAP government is that if it is not forthcoming with the information or answers to the questions, and if indeed dubious ongoings pertaining to the sale are further unearthed, this has the potential to do some real damage to the PAP.

And I will not rule out an early general election as a result.

The sooner the PAP wakes up and come clean, the better it is for it.

There is still time – before it veers off the path and plunges over the edge.

Maybe it is time the co-driver gave the driver a kick instead of a slap – by publishing or making known the other contracts (as Ms Lim disclosed in her rally speech) which carry similar termination clauses. It would be interesting to know what these other contracts are, and if AIM – the PAP company in the middle of the current fiasco – or any other PAP company is also involved in any of these contracts.

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11 thoughts on “Time for co-driver to give driver a kick, instead of a slap

  1. Dr Teo, as everyone kn ows by now, has no choice but to give non-answers. If he tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, he will be hung out to dry which anyway is only just a matter of time. Of course until then, he will still be paid very handsomely.

  2. If the majorities from the Public in their clear sense of mind sees what took place by the Town Councils and A.I.M. was a major flaws in the handling of the computing systems, why did not all those involved come out right in the open to clarify and declared their innocence.

  3. I think you’re asking the wrong question.

    It would be amazing if software developed 5-10 years ago at $5M is sold at $5M… Don’t you think that normal accounting depreciation rules would apply, and the book value is not $5M? Usuallys software is depreciated over 3-5 years, hardware 5 years. Technically the book value could be $zero.

    Selling something worth zero on the books for $140K is not too shabby.

    That’s possibly one reason why WP has not harped on this question.

    Dr Teo is not sleeping. He ignores certain questions simply he is not willing or authorised to answer them. The big question Sylvia posed– the poison pill clause and how it treats residents as political pawns– that’s the one you should be pressing.

    But Dr Teo’s not dumb or deaf. He’s not sleeping.

    He just doesn’t want to or is not allowed to answer on behalf of the PAP.

    1. While Sylvia’s question is no doubt important, it is just as important to know how much was used to develop the software, and why the PAP decided to sell it to the PAP-owned company despite the clear conflict of interests.

      I don’t think these are wrong questions to ask.

      1. Asking the first question makes one look ignorant, if one does not take accounting book values into consideration.

        Asking the second question is valid. Indeed, that is the reason why people are up in arms. The official answer, that they were awarded in an open tender, has so far been unconvincing. Nevertheless, you have your answer– because no one else wanted to buy the software from the Town Councils. Let the people decide if that is a good enough reason and justification.

    2. Nay, accounting standard does allow for 10 years depreciation or its useful life whichever is shorter. The fact that the software is leased back to the town council, it obviously has not gone pass its useful life. Therefore, the accounting book value is certainly much more than $140K. Having said that, the key question is what is driving the sales and lease back arrangement with the termination clause ?

  4. /// It feels like Dr Teo is stuck in a time-warp, oblivious or pretending to be oblivious to the issues raised, which centres on questions of transparency, a conflict of interests, the costs of developing the computer system in question, and the tender process itself.

    In short, Dr Teo seems to still be sleeping. ///

    No, I don’t think so. He already woke up after having nightmares.

    The fact that he keeps repeating the same mantra like a broken record ad nauseum means that there are no better answers. There are no answers to those questions that you posed and he conveniently ignored those.

    1. I predict that the PAP govt would take the stand
      that there is NOTHING wrong with a political party doing business and even doing business with the govt of which it is in control!

      Just look at the incestuous# relationship existing between party-govt-civil service -GLCs etc etc.

      # incestuous : being so close or intimate as to prevent proper functioning: an incestuous
      relationship between organized crime and
      government (for example) – dictionary.com

  5. Software sale usually involves development cost and licence/maintenance cost.

    My interpretation of the tremeritus’s article (http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/01/22/did-tcs-develop-software-for-5m-before-selling-it-to-aim-for-140k/), Town Councils paid $30 million to develop the software, and $5 million for licence. This $5 million should be the support cost to be paid each year.

    I think this Jonathan guy could be exaggerating a bit (like a taxi driver some time back) to make his CV look great.

    But if all the figures are true, did Town Council overpaid NCS for development costs and licence costs?

    And yes, all the questions about transparency, the tender process and conflict of interest matters.

  6. We may see a bi-election in Bt.Panjang very soon, with another one in Tanjong Pagar GRC. We can then send that Old Fart off on his journety to join his wife and Chan Chun Seng back to the SAF for good

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