Sunday, January 6, 2013

Legal Dirty Politics

Do you know that sometimes in trying to prevent something, you can actually make things worse? If anyone doubts that, I strongly suggest you read about the sage between M/s Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM) and the PAP town councils.

Last week, I blogged on the case and since then there had been twists and further twists on the matter. As the initial defense by the PAP-owned IT company has been widely discredited by the Singapore public, Coordinating Chairman of the 14 PAP Town Council (I didn’t even know there’s such a position), Teo Ho Pin, issued a 26 paragraph statement explaining the PAP's Town Councils rationale for the sale.

Like the initial defense by AIM, the Singapore public did not accept it as there were gaping holes in his statement. The question of conflict of interest was not touched on and while Mr. Teo said that the Town Council will save $8000 in the leaseback agreement, we have no idea how that figure came about as no one seem to know the cost of developing the original software.

In the latest additional to the saga, lawyers acting on behalf of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) served a letter to local blogger Alex Au demanding he take down the blog post that first raised the issue. Mr. Au, quite naturally, did so (why not when the matter is already out) but the damage was already done.

I think this act through the lawyers was truly foolish on the part of the PAP.

Now the ongoing saga involving AIM and the town councils has raised questions of propriety, transparency and accountability. The PAP had tried to explain away the entire episode (twice), but the Singapore public is not accepting their explanation. The last thing they should be doing is to go after Alex Au.

To the Singapore public, it looks like the PAP tried to explain away their actions to no avail so now they are going after the guy who first broke the story. To me, that’s like saying the PAP has no more cards to play, no more arguments to make, so the only thing left for them to do is to shut people up.

Simple put; going after Alex Au now is an admission of defeat!

Also, this latest action by the PAP comes at a totally inappropriate time. I mean if you want to shut people up, do it before trying to explain away your actions! Not after you had failed to do so! What’s worse is that this action by the PAP now makes people think there’s really something wrong with the whole AIM deal.

There isn’t! Everything is totally legal. It's dirty but it's legal and this is all the PAP need to emphasize. To be blunt, it's dirty politics but it's legal, dirty politics. Yes, Singaporeans are unhappy about the deal and most expect our leaders to be more ethical than this, but let's be serious here. If Singaporeans can accept the PAP gerrymandering left, right and centre every election, they can accept this.

This is dirty politics and the PAP need to stop trying to justify dirty politics. It's not going to work and they need to stop trying ASAP because the more they try, the worse it will get for them.


JG said...

I hope many Singaporeans also do not dismiss this merely as "dirty politics" and look the other way.

The people of Aljunied (amongst 5 million in other GRCs) contributed funds to develop a software. The software was transferred to a private party, controlled by the PAP, under dubious circumstances. "Dubious" because its not even clear (if you look at Alex's analysis) that the private party ended up paying a cent for it. There's round-tripping involved. Kinda like the round-tripping you read about, you know, in Enron or even in the latest City Harvest case.

The terms of the tender notice was vague. The other 4 potential participants smelled a rat and quickly backed off. The winning party who's the sole bidder bid 5 days after the tender notice was closed and won. The related party transaction was never disclosed. In any other commercial enterprise, at the very least, you will have needed directors and shareholders resolution to approve a related party transaction.

I agree that its OK for PAP to make life difficult for WP. Fair enough. Even OK, to stick a foot out, to trip a person. That's life, isn't it.

But not sale of PUBLIC assets to a private company. And I don't care if the company is PAP owned or WP owned. Or City Harvest owned or whoever.

If we do not draw the line here, what's to stop the PAP from transferring the ECP or PIE to AIM in the future, when it senses that Singaporeans are voting in opposition in big numbers? Or, to transfer the roads, bus-stops in your district? Because these programs are initiated by the PAP, right?

And as a Singaporean, wouldn't you now want to know what other assets have been transferred to AIM, other than this software?

The ST is trying to muddy the water with its coverage. Hoping to show that it is just a normal, ugly tit-for-tat. I'm gratefull that there are brave souls out there who refuse to be intimidated and doggedly pursue the truth. I hope in our own small ways, we Singaporeans can be supportive of their efforts. This is yours, and my, money involved here. Its our country, right?

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."
-- Pastor Martin Niemoller

Anonymous said...

Losers can shut up our mouth, why? because unlike them, we do not have the resources to fight them in kangeroo court, but they cannot stop our minds working. Everybody (maybe except the 60%) know the dirty things going on, we are not stupid and stop treating us like idiots! Their days are numbered...

Ghost said...

There's a lot of unanswered question in this case, the whole deal stinks but there's a big difference between that and corruption. A lot of comments on the internet are saying there's corruption; my post is my view that there isn't and the PAP's action against Alex Au does more harm than good for the PAP.
Also, why do people keep on saying there's corruption. It makes no sense to me. We, the Singapore public, don't know enough of the case to make that assessment and no one in the WP has said that there is.