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Posts Tagged ‘People’s Association’

PAP, WP don’t do accounting

In Accounting on 16/08/2015 at 12:09 pm

As Chairman and deputy chairman of the PA, ah Loong and Zorro should do what Khaw implicitly asked the WP leaders to do and what Lui may or not have done (I’ll blog one of these days on why the Ah Loong administrations sucks in comparison with that of his dad’s: never a clear message). I don’t know if Lui is willingly (or unwillingly) taking the rap for the failures of the MRT system, or he juz going MIA or AWOL to look at his monthly CPF statement and feel happy).

In the Budget earlier this year, the PA’s expenditure was increased 51.3% to over $1 billion.

Minister Lim Swee Say, Minister (Prime Minister’s Office) and Deputy Chairman of PA, said that the budget allocated to the PA “reflects a higher level of commitment by the Government towards promoting social cohesion and racial harmony.”*

Yet the management of the PA didn’t ensure that the systems were in place to ensure that the records on how this money (and earlier funds) were kept in accordance with the PA’s own internal rules.

The Auditor-General (AGO) is not happy. The People’s Association was flagged for various lapses in the Auditor-General’s Report, released on Wednesday (Jul 15), including lapses in management of tenancy contracts in Community Club/Centre Management Committees (CCMCs) and procurement lapses.**

The AGO had conducted audits on only 115 GROs out of the 1,800 over GROs, which as TOC points out “is only 6.39 percent of the total GROs which PA is in charge of”.

As TOC points out, with the recent findings by AGO on the GROs, one would have to be concerned or extremely concerned that public money may be misused or misappropriated due to the lack of understanding of proper accounting practices set by PA’s financial rules.

To recap:

There are 1,800 grassroots organisations under the People’s Association’s umbrella.
That’s a mere 6.4% of all the GROs.The Auditor General audited only 115 of them.

And already, the AGO found almost 40% of them with financial irregularities.

So while PA has said that it would conduct internal investigations and audits of its GROs, a more prudent method to ensure public monies would be lawfully used, is to get AGO along with a 3rd party auditor to audit the whole group of GROs under the PA.

In the meantime, the Minister of Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong, who oversees the PA, should be accountable and freeze the funds that are meant to be given to PA until the auditors can be sure that proper accounting process can be put in place for the GROs – and that public funds are duly protected from misuse.

Terry Xu

Now given that Khaw had recommended that the AHPETC commit hari kiri, and given that the PM is the chairman of the PA and Zorro Lim is the minister-in-charge of PA, why is Khaw silent on them performing hari kiri? At the very least, he should recommend that they do deep bows and apologies at the National Day rally next week.

But then the PAP believes that “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/why-khaw-vikram-must-commit-hari-kiri/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/learn-from-japanese-set-example-leh-elites/

But to be fair to the PM, Zorro and the PA and the PAP, rather than challenging the AGO and throwing smoke as the WP would (think AHPETC: there is lousy record keeping, so lousy that no-one knows if money has been stolen or not, and Pritam and his Auntie mentor have to do a manual check to report the correct arreas situation), a review by a newly formed Grassroots Finance Review Committee, to prevent a recurrence of procurement lapses flagged in a report by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) will take three months, the People’s Association said.

“The common lapses found in most of the grassroots organisations test-checked indicate that they may not be familiar with PA’s financial rules,” the AGO said in its report on Wednesday (Jul 15).

A statement released by the PA on Thursday said the committee will be chaired by a member of the PA’s board of management, Timothy de Souza. “Mr de Souza is a trustee of the Eurasian Association of Singapore and an experienced grassroots leader”, the PA said. He is also the auditor of a Neighbourhood Committee.

The other members of the committee are chief financial officer and member of the Auditing and Assurance Standards Committee of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants John Teo Woon Keng and Mr Chiang Heng Liang, director of wealth management at an international bank and chairman of Kolam Ayer Citizens’ Consultative Committee.

The committee will be supported by PA senior officers, and they will be able to tap on expertise from the Ministry of Finance for advice.

The committee will review and recommend refinements to financial and procurement rules and procedures, especially with regard to AGO observations, the PA said. It will also propose measures to enhance compliance of financial rules and recommend measures to strengthen monitoring by staff. And, it will enhance training for staff and grassroots leaders.***

I’m still wondering what the WP are going to fix its accounting systems? Can some cybernut enlighten me? I got rezoned into Marine Parade and me and the neighbours (they are accountants, lawyers etc), and the really real Marine Parade residents I talk to, are wondering if the bad record keeping will continue. We know WP can keep the area clean and tidy, but can it keep proper financial records?

And we want to know if the WP can assure us that the excellent bus links to the other parts of S’pore will continue. Rightly or wrongly, we attribute these links to one Goh Chok Tok who was once the MP of the real Marine Parade.

Finally, the WP kept saying that a vote for the WP is a vote to keep the PAP honest. Who is keeping the WP honest? I mean someone has to take the rap for an accounting system that isn’t fit for purpose?

Will PritamS or his mentor step up for a deep bow? Or both?

But Ah Loong should set a good example, and take a deep bow next weekend. pigs will fly first.

———————————-

*He said  that out of the $339.6 million or 51.3% increase in the estimated Financial Year (FY) 2015 expenditure of the PA, $239.3 million (70.5%) is meant for the development of facilities for residents’ use.

These include the building of the Tampines Town Hub, construction of nine new CCs and two Water-Venture outlets; as well as to upgrade 28 existing CCs under PA’s 15-year upgrading cycle.

The increase of $100.3 million or 29.5% in operating expenditure will go into implementing the Pioneer Generation Ambassador programme where staff and volunteers reach out to seniors where they live, as well as supporting the work of the grassroots organisations (GROs) and Community Development Councils (CDCs) in assisting the needy and in building and bonding our multi-racial and multi-cultural communities.

(CNA)

**LAPSES IN MANAGEMENT OF TENANCY CONTRACTS

Of the 91 CCMCs test-checked by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO), 35 did not obtain approvals from the relevant approving authorities for awarding 53 tenancy contracts, totalling S$17.78 million. Approvals were either obtained from committees which were not authorised to do so, or whose approval limits were below that of the contract values, the AGO said.

In addition, 10 of the 35 CCMCs did not obtain the relevant approvals for the direct award of 13 tenancy contracts without competition, worth a total of S$3.67 million.

“The number of lapses detected points to a weakness in the People’s Association’s monitoring of CCMCs’ compliance with its financial rules with regard to tenancy contracts,” said the AGO. PA has informed the AGO that is has since obtained covering approvals for the tenancy contracts.

LAPSES IN PROCUREMENT

Test-checks of nine grassroots organisations (GROs) – comprising four CCMCs, three Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs) and two Residents’ Committees (RCs) – revealed non-compliance with PA’s financial rules, including the award of nine contracts totalling S$152,600 prior to obtaining approvals; the award of 15 contracts worth S$565,300 from the wrong approving authorities; not seeking approval for 10 direct purchases from suppliers worth a total of S$53,700; and not inviting quotations in writing for 13 purchases totalling S$187,900.

“The common lapses found in most of the grassroots organisations test-checked indicate that they may not be familiar with PA’s financial rules,” the AGO said. “They also reflect a lack of oversight by PA.”

The PA has since informed the AGO that it will review its procurement rules for GROs, to strike the right balance between competitive procurement and “expeditious decision-making” on the ground.

LAPSES IN ENGAGING TRAINING OPERATORS

According to the report, the AGO found common lapses in engagement of training operators and the collection of course fees across most of the seven grassroots organisations checked.

For example, four GROs engaged operators directly without calling competitive bids under eight contracts, totalling S$311,800. “Hence, there was no assurance that the GROs were able to obtain the most advantageous bids for the courses,” the AGO said.

One RC awarded a contract for tuition services with an estimated revenue of S$1.11 million to the incumbent operator through a quotation exercise, when a tender was required. There was no evidence other operators were invited to quote, the AGO said.

Four RCs test-checked could not produce evidence that they had carried out audit checks on course fees – totalling S$1.26 million – collected by operators on the RCs’ behalf, according to the report. The PA said that the RCs had conducted random checks on the collection of the fees, but these went undocumented. The course fees have been fully collected from the operator, PA added.

One RC did not take any action when an operator repeatedly delayed handing over course fees collected on behalf of the PA, totalling S$414,700, every month from April 2013 to July 2014. This exposed the RC to the risk of the operator defaulting on the payment of course fees, the AGO said.

LAPSES IN MANAGEMENT OF RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

The AGO’s checks found that the chairman of a CCC was involved in approving the award of two contracts worth a total of S$32,000 and corresponding payments to a company of which he was a member of the senior management. For one of the awards, another CCC member involved in the approval process was both a director and shareholder of the company, the AGO said.

The CCC chairman also approved payment for a purchase worth S$1,500 from another company where he was both a director and shareholder.

In these cases, the two CCC members involved did not declare their interests in the transactions, the AGO said. “As a result, there was no assurance that the transactions were conducted at arms’ length.”

PA acknowledged that the chairman should not have approved the payments, but checked and found that there was no irregularity in the payments as the amounts tallied with the quotations and the work tendered.

Test-checks revealed seven instances where the CCC chairman was involved in approving his own claims, totalling S$114,767 – a “clear conflict of roles”, the AGO said. In three of these payments, no supporting documents were available.

The PA’s response was that the chairman had inadvertently approved his own claims, and said that the vice-chairman and treasurer will endorse future payment vouchers instead.
MP for Sembawang GRC Khaw Boon Wan said the grassroots leader in question was from Admiralty CCC and that he has stepped down to facilitate a full investigation.

“I am glad that the Investigation Panel found no evidence of dishonesty. Nonetheless, it was a related party transaction that was not declared,” Mr Khaw said in a statement. “The CCC will study the investigation report, and review its procedures to ensure that such lapses do not recur.”

Fellow MP for Sembawang GRC, Vikram Nair said he was saddened to learn of the findings by the AGO and that the grassroots leader concerned has “served with distinction for many years”. The man is giving full cooperation in the investigation, Mr Nair said.

ISSUES WITH FUND UTILISATION REPORTS

The PA obtained excess funding from the Citizens’ Consultative Committee ComCare Fund (CCF) from the MSF, amounting to S$84,394 over two years, due to errors and omissions in the updating of disbursements at seven CCCs checked.

The errors include duplicate entries of CCF disbursements, incorrect amounts recorded and inclusion of financial assistance that was not to be funded by the CCF. Disbursements were entered into the system by an officer without any independent checks, the AGO found.

These errors led to inaccurate CCF usage reports submitted by PA to MSF, ranging from an overstatement of S$225,703 in some cases to an understatement of S$120,210 for FY2012/13 and 2013/14.

In response, the PA said it was conducting a one-off reconciliation exercise for all CCCs to update and correct the CCF utilisation reports, meant to be completed by June this year.

CNA

***The committee will strengthen the supervision of its 1,800 grassroots organisations (GROs). “The committee will also recommend suitable measures that would enable our 37,000 grassroots leaders and volunteers to continue to serve the community’s best interests while maintaining good governance and sound financial practices.”

Additionally, a hotline has been set up to help GROs with queries on correct procurement procedures. The number is now active and has been communicated to GROs internally.

(CNA, I think)

Zorro & PA make PM look stupid, cheap-skate, ill-mannered & ungracious

In Political governance on 12/02/2014 at 4:50 am

(Or “PA trying to show that it is no PAP stooge?”)

Tot Cheap, Cheapo Quick Zorro is a minister in PMO, the deputy chairman of the PA,  and that PA and the PAP are one and the same? Think again, with people like Zorro and other senior PA managerss, who needs enemies, the PM (and chairman of PA) must be wondering. PM may also be wondering if Zorro and other clowns manager at PA are trying to fix him or that they showing S’poreans that they are not part of the PAP machine.

Still laughing at Zorro Lim’s explanation of why ex-presidential TCB was “un-invited” from an Istana function organised by the PA. And at his petulance in being upset that Dr Tan made the un-invitation public*:  Mr Tan Cheng Bock is just informing his followers and friends on facebook.
Cannot meh? (TRE reader)

Wouldn’t it have been easier (i.e. less damaging to PM, Zorro personally, the govt, the PAP and the PA) once the balls-up was discovered for Lim to say to his staff, “As our sister Jos said We cannot have the attitude that everything will be perfect from Day One: but more careful. Make sure the correct list is used next yr. As for this year, let the invitations stand. Order more food. No budget? Juz cut activities in WP areas. Make the residents there repent. We don’t want PAP voters and neutral S’poreans to think we are ill-mannered: badly brought up by our parents.”

Instead, he called all those wrongly invited to dis-invite them (Wonder how many? Any Oppo GE 2011 canidates? Think Ben Pwee and SDP’s Dr Ang). Surely on a cost-benefit analysis, this was a waste of his valuable time**? Particularly given the PR damage if this dis-invitation was made public? In the age of social media, disclosure must be presumed.

As it is, one TRE reader voiced what is on many minds (self-included)

I think the whole episode of “uninviting Lim Cheng Bock came out badly” in the eyes of many Singaporeans. It showed clearly as long as someone is against the PAP, they do not deserve to be a Singaporean, notwithstanding his or her past contributions to nation building. At least I view it this way as a Singaporean from this episode. Because Tan Cheng Bock, an ex PAP member dared to stand up against the current PAP policies, it seems he is more an outlaw today, and whatever credit he chalked up in sacrificing his youthful years in nation building became a zero and does not deserve any recognition at all***.

He or she goes on to make some very valid points:

Secondly, with Lim Swee Say’s explanation, it also reflected badly on the PA as an organization. It looks like in coming up with the first list of invitees, they did not even know exactly what criteria to use to come up with the selected people for the Istana Party. All these days with the PM loudspeaking his sincere wish to recognize the first generation people who contributed to our nation building, it looks like at the end the selection was morely likely based on a preferred list, which is not surprising at all. Woe betide once again!

Thirdly, Lim Swee Say came across as unconvincing at all, especially when he is also the Labour Chief who needs to have a heart full of empathy in the first place. But by executing the order to uninvite a fellow Singaporean who was already invited, it just reflects clearly that our leadership is uncompassionate and also unkind. Even if the case was not about Tan Cheng Bock per se, but if any ordinary Singaporean who got invited to the Istana to be informed later that he was univited because of an error, have the government given any thought on how the affected person would feel. He or she could have already announced to all the friends that he was invited by the PM for the Istana Party.***

Given the above logic, Tan Cheng Bock has every right to make a comment on how he really felt about the matter. Does Lim Swee Say expect Tan Cheng Bock to challenge the decree when it was announced to him over the phone? Cheng Bock has to accept it as a gentleman but does it mean he has bought into the explanation which is a lousy one in the first place. So my advice to Swee Say, just shut up!

And it’s not only netizens. This appeared in MediaCorp’s freesheet:

Aileen Tan Ai Ker

Published: 10 February, 4:06 AM

I refer to the report “Cheng Bock invited to Istana party ‘by mistake’” (Feb 8). Invitations are traditionally, even now, sent because the host wishes to have the company of the guest.

No one sends an invitation and retracts it, especially after it has been accepted. This is unacceptable in any culture, by any social standard. It is a question of “face” and emotional quotient. Similarly, a guest should have basic, reasonable emotional intelligence to decline an invitation if he or she feels awkward or is on unfriendly terms with the host.

In this instance, former Member of Parliament and presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock received and accepted the invitation.

The People’s Association (PA) should have been sensitive and exercised discretion to host him and those guests whom they considered were invited by mistake.

An old invitation list was used, despite today’s database management technology. It would have been smarter to bear the brunt of this and be graceful. The cost of hosting them would probably have been negligible.

Instead, the episode reflects badly on the PA, which deals with the grassroots and Singaporeans in general.

We expect more sensitivity than a simple apology after making a mistake. EQ training might help prevent a repeat.

Update: Related article: http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/02/08/pap-in-stage-3-to-4-of-decline/

—-

*He implies that since Dr Tan accepted the dis-invitation, he should juz sit down and shut up. A TRE reader pointed out: Mr Lim SS, Dr Tan may accept your explanation. He may not necessarily agree with or support your explanation. He has not explicitly say that he agrees with your explanation. Example : I may accept the price of NTUC goods/products however I may not support it. So Dr Tan has the rights to provide his side of the story. Remember he has his grassroots supporters to explain to. So if you have nothing to hide, Mr Lim why be do defensive.

**Remember he needs time to read his specially prepared monthly CPF statement, and to borrow toothpicks from a certain place.

***It is not about the invite – it is about some small- minded people who felt threatened by his presence. By 0.35 % margin! Dr. Tan will be the one sending out the list. Now he is pariah!

Shame on the PAP. (Another TRE reader)

****But the important things is this – if an invitation has been extended, you honour it and follow through with it. And if you have to have a longer guest list and cater more food as a result of this, then so be it. Making things right in situations like this is to honour what the Government has done. Updating the list and uninviting people is not making things right, and in fact is not right and making things worse.

It is disappointing that you would stand by and approve of this kind of conduct. Is this the ethos PA goes by?

Don’t highly qualified people in the civil service understand what it means to do the right thing in human relationships? (Yet another TRE reader)

MoE analogy abt PA

In Political governance on 13/09/2011 at 6:42 am

“It’s like having the Ministry of Education, the civil servants are impartial and neutral but the Minister is a Government Minister,” said the PM when trying to explain that the People’s Association was part of the government, like the MoE, and not the PAP.

The problem with this analogy is that the MoE doesn’t have embedded within its structure of administrators and teachers, PAP MPs, defeated PAP MPs and candidates and possible MP candidates; and whose ranks cannot contain non-PAP MPs. On this ground alone the analogy fails.

The analogy only works if the PA only appoints civil servants to be grassroot leaders, to explain and promote government policies. Do PAP MPs, defeated MPs and candidates, and potential MP candidates, get invited to attend school and MoE functions as a matter of routine, while Opposition MPs are not invited as per standard operating procedures? I think not.

The PM should give give several tight slaps to whoever suggested that he use this analogy. Any chance it was Tin Pei  Ling, via her hubby yr PPS? Sounds like her.

Try telling the PA and yr minister abt unity, PM?

In Political governance on 06/09/2011 at 7:18 am

On 1 September 2011, the PM said Singapore must also build a united society which leaves no Singaporean behind. He was speaking at the swearing-in ceremony of Singapore’s seventh President Dr Tony Tan at the Istana.

This was the fifth time that he had spoken about the need for unity since the 7th May 2011 General Election. Five times in five months.

Well the trouble with this latest attempt was that the day before, the People’s Association (a statutory of agency of which he is chairman) had published a statement explaining why it excluded Opposition MPS from being appointed grassroot leaders. In a letter to the Straits Times Forum, PA director of corporate and marketing communications Ooi Hui Mei said on behalf of the CEO, “Besides connecting people to people, grassroots advisers are required to help the Government connect with people and help promote Government policies and programmes such as anti-dengue and active ageing. Hence, the Government has to appoint grassroots advisers who support its programmes and can play this role well. Opposition MPs cannot be expected to do this and thus cannot become advisers to GROs.”

She is saying that Opposition MPs are not loyal S’poreans that the government and PA can trust.

Ms Ooi’s letter drew a response from WP’s Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh (the guy with tots of being in coalition with the PAP on his brain). He wrote on his Facebook page that he found it “apposite to inform the PA that Opposition MPs do not love the aedes mosquito, nor do we have anything against active aging.” He cited examples of former and current PAP MPs, including former MP Tan Cheng Bock and President Tony Tan, who opposed the Nominated MP scheme and the graduate mother’s scheme respectively.

Hehehe. Snigger, snigger. Gd riposte Bei-Yee Singh. Letter writers to ST and Today and online forums joined in the fun of bashing Ms Ooi’s letter.

Unhappy with this mauling, the deputy chairman of the PA, Lim Swee Say (who is also a cabinet minister and NTUC chief), not heeding PM’s call for unity, got Ms Ooi to issue another letter on 3 September 2011, making the same point again: that Opposition MPs are not loyal S’poreans that the government and PA can trust.

Because of her letters, I’m again left wondering (I’ve commented on his four previous attempts here) whether the PM is sincere when he calls for unity. Why should I take his words at face value, when the spokeswoman from a government agency, where he is the chairman, takes a view that is contrary to his call for unity, both before and after his message. If she had not written the second letter, I would have been willing to try to suspend cynical disbelief. But Ms Ooi’s letters have left me no choice but to disbelieve the PM.

Is he or the CEO and deputy chairman, she scribed for, off-message? Or is his definition of “unity” different? Maybe he means “unity under the regime of Hard Truths”?

Time will tell.

If PM is sincere abt unity, what abt talking a leaf from Mao. When the Chinese Communist Party refused to listen to him, he launched the Culture Revolution. Maybe PM should reform the PA to better serve his and our needs.

Why did PA take so long to complain?

In Political governance on 25/08/2011 at 7:37 am

At the same time as hoisting the white flag of surrender, the PA said its underhand tactics of fixing the WP were a result of WP tactics. WP has denied these allegations.

Problem is the incidents it cited were from yrs ago (shades of CurryGate). So how to believe? Ironically, the media carried at the same time reports of rape charges against the former head of the IMF being dropped by the American authorities. One reason given was the fact that the complaint took several hrs before complaining of being raped. She had gone on with her work.

She was no longer credible because of the time-lapse.

And why didn’t the PA see fit to allege publicly that the WP was playing dirty before the May GE. If it had, residents of Aljunied may still have Cynthia Phua as one of their MPs. It might have also prevented the WP’s near victories in East Coast and Joo Chiat.

And doesn’t it sound strange to hear from a government agency headed by the PM no less that it played dirty because it alleged the WP played dirty. Sounds like a criminal admitting it broke the law because it alleged someone else broke the law.

PM should give PA five tight slaps. One for making him look like a liar (how to believe the calls abt hearing us when his agency went rounding fixing the WP?), one for saboing Tony Tan’s campaign, one for not raising the allegations abt WP before the May GE, one for using underhand tactics, and one for making the PM look stupid (he chairman of PA)

 

What MM Lee said of the ties between CCCs and PAP

In Political governance on 23/08/2011 at 9:46 pm

On 30 December 2009, our nation building, constructive ST reported MM Lee as saying of the Chinese officials who come here to study the governance of S’pore,“They discover that the People’s Action Party has only a small office in Bedok. But everywhere they go, they see the PAP – in the RCs, CCCs, and the CCs.”

(RCs (residents’ committees), CCCs (citizens’ consultative committees), and the CCs (community clubs)
are grassroot organisations under the People’s Association. Its Chairman is none other than the PM himself who is also the secretary-general of the PAP.)

Todate no-one from the People’s Association, PAP or government, has to my knowledge, contradicted the then MM Lee.

 Back story. PA waves white flag.

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