Friday, November 30, 2018

PAP Revealed The Next Prime Minister

Readers often grumble that Singapore’s high commissioner to London (a public servant of great intelligence and charm) wastes inordinate time penning letters of complaint to The Economist, usually over any hint that Singapore is in effect a one-party state.

Banyan once argued that the ruling People’s Action Party (pap), with 82 out of 89 elected parliamentary seats, had maintained its uninterrupted rule since 1959 not only by governing competently, but also through gerrymandering, harassing opposition figures, cowing the media, threatening spending cuts in districts that vote against it and “inculcating the absurd notion that its survival and that of Singapore itself are synonymous”.

The high commissioner duly responded: Singaporeans vote for the pap “because it continues to deliver them good government, stability and progress”. One reader promptly called out the “delicious irony”: surely such claims are for the pap to make, not “the ambassador who represents the very state she insists is not synonymous with its ruling party.”

This column returns to the one-party theme, because years of speculation over who the next prime minister of Singapore will be would appear to have been settled. Lee Hsien Loong, eldest child of Singapore’s late independence leader, Lee Kuan Yew, has run the country since 2004. But he will step down ahead of his 70th birthday in 2022.

Never say that Singapore is a hereditary state, like North Korea. The fact that Lee family members occupy high positions in state bodies has nothing to do with nepotism but with talent and selfless energies. Admittedly, Lee Kuan Yew occasionally allowed that superior genes might have something to do with it. But those genes are not flawless. Their inheritors have indulged in an unseemly family squabble, played out in social media, over the great man’s will. That may have tarnished the family somewhat in Singaporeans’ eyes. At any rate, there is no strong family candidate to take over the reins.

On November 23rd came news instead that Heng Swee Keat, the 57-year-old finance minister, will be Singapore’s next leader. The pap didn’t put it quite like that: it announced that he had been appointed its first assistant secretary-general. But media with ties to the government, such as the Straits Times, lost no time inferring it.

So comparisons with China may be more apt. Its Communist Party loves to send signals through appointments to obscure positions within its hierarchy. It refers to party “cadres”—just like the pap. It emphasises “collective” leadership, or did before the rise of Xi Jinping. And it talks in terms of “generations” of leaders since “new” China’s founding in 1949: Mr Xi is of the fifth. Mr Heng’s elevation was supposedly a collective decision of the pap’s “4g” (fourth-generation) cadres. No intra-party democracy there.

Another parallel: for all the talk of a new generation taking over, the oldies never fade away. For 21 years after stepping down as prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew remained in the cabinet. And years ago Lee set up Mr Heng by saying that his bright former private secretary was destined for greatness. Deng Xiaoping also ruled from beyond the grave. Well before his death in 1997, he had picked out Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, who held power from 2002 to 2012.

The late Mr Lee’s only regret was that Mr Heng, at around five feet six inches, “is not of a big bulk, which makes a difference in a mass rally”. But then the pap loves a technocrat. Mr Heng, who has run the education ministry and the central bank, is nothing if not that.

Popular sentiment also surely counts. Singaporeans like Mr Heng’s soft-spoken humility, and sympathise over a stroke he suffered two years ago. Ad nauseam, the Straits Times and others praise his propensity to “listen”. That has come to matter since the pap’s poor electoral showing in 2011 suggested it had lost touch with ordinary Singaporeans.

A second assistant secretary-general was also appointed: the trade minister, Chan Chun Sing. A scrappy politician, you can imagine him thriving in any full-throated democratic system, unlike Mr Heng. He makes much of his humble origins and subsequent success, including scholarships and a brilliant army career. That grates on many Singaporeans, but there is no denying his ambition. And so, a final parallel with the Chinese Communist Party: might a populist challenge upset succession plans, just as Bo Xilai’s dramatic bid nearly did for Mr Xi in 2012? Best to leave any speculation about that to the high commissioner.


Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) will likely name Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat as its first assistant secretary general, local media said on Thursday, indicating the 57-year-old career public servant is poised to become the city state’s next prime minister.

Following party polls on November 11, the PAP is expected to announce a new line-up of its top leadership on Friday that will provide the firmest indication on who will succeed 66-year-old Lee Hsien Loong.

Insiders and observers have said the person who is made first assistant secretary general – a position traditionally held by a deputy prime minister – will succeed Lee as the country’s fourth prime minister.

Lee, son of the country’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, has been in power since 2004 after he succeeded Goh Chok Tong. Following a general election in 2015, Lee said he planned to step down before he turns 70.

The local Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao reported “there are indications” Heng will be handed the first assistant secretary general position, while trade and industry minister Chan Chun Sing will likely be made the second assistant secretary general.

The Today newspaper, meanwhile, quoted a senior party leader as saying Heng was chosen because he could “rally the ground”.

Both men are part of the PAP’s “4G leadership” – referring to the younger generation of leaders in the party – who won spots in the party’s top decision-making body in the internal polls.

Separately, a source told This Week in Asia the 4G leaders recently held a meeting where they unanimously resolved that Heng, formerly a central banker, would be made “first among equals”.

The PAP, in power since 1959, has a selection process for the prime ministership that observers say resembles the way cardinals pick a pope. The sitting premier stays out of the succession process, and gives that responsibility to younger ministers who choose one among themselves as the first among equals.

Chan, viewed previously by some in the local commentariat as a top contender for the job, in a forum on Thursday said the city state’s leadership model “is stronger than a sum of individual parts”.

“Countries that do well, are those that are fortunate enough not just to have good individuals but to have a strong team,” Chan said. “A strong team that puts aside the individual interest but for the collective aspirations for the country.

“In Singapore, we are proud to say that for the last 53 years, we have been able to find … leadership teams that have been able to abide by this DNA and this set of ethos. And I think the younger generation of leaders are similarly focused on it.

Eugene Tan, a local political observer, said “it would not be too much of a surprise” that Heng was picked by his peers to lead them.

Heng was the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) from 2005 to 2011 and also served a stint as the principal private secretary to Lee Kuan Yew -– a coveted position in the Singaporean bureaucracy.

Upon Heng’s political entry in 2011, Prime Minister Lee immediately made him education minister. He was made finance minister after the 2015 polls.

He suffered a stroke in 2016 which temporarily halted his quick political rise, but swiftly returned to the political front lines after a full recovery.

“Mr Heng brings to bear an entire career in the public sector and with that a nuanced understanding of how the government works,” said Tan, a law professor at the Singapore Management University.

“As managing director of MAS, he played a pivotal role in Singapore managing the global financial crisis of 2008-09. He is likeable and unassuming too,” Tan said..

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Too much Power in the Hands of too Few is Bad for our Future

Saw this in my WhatsApp. Interesting read...

Too much power in the hands of too few is dangerous for the future of Singapore it could end up with what we have seen in Malaysia where the new leader equipped with so much power that when they abused the system and embezzled the country's resources there is no alternate power to stop them other than through the electorate.

In Singapore the electorate is very much controlled by the ruling party via gerrymandering of the electoral  boundaries and GRC system and tweaking of the Constitution which makes it impossible to remove future leader who has turn into a rogue or a tyrant. Hence any plundering of Singapore by rogue could only be stopped by external power like what we see in Libya under Gaddafi and Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

Also in Singapore where the husband and wife team also control the sovereign funds of the country in privatized corporations.  The future leader will have total and private control over the funds of the country as well without anyone able to check on them. So any abuse and corruption will be impossible to be detected and no chance to be investigated. It will be a replay of the Najib story filled with murders, hidden extravagance, crony judiciary, and ever rising burdens on the people.

While things are looking rosy for Singapore today but that cannot be said of the future. In fact looking at the crop of new leaders it looks bleak indeed. Most of them are from the army and none of them are financially savvy. Running the country's financial is very different from running your own finance. So they will most likely end up running it and using it, like their own money.

Historically we have seen how the second generation of leaders showed signs of things to come by raising their salaries to exorbitant level never seen before in world history. Fortunately LKY was still around to prevent any massive abuse. But he is gone now and we have seen how his son betrayed him in the 38 Oxley Road saga within the first year of his death. Our hard earned reserves are as cold as ice now. For the ordinary folks, anyway, they will never get to touch these money in their lifetime.

Emigration is a good choice if you're thinking of your future generations. Many have done that, including the siblings and descendants of the Lee family.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Ang Mo Kio Town Council Scandal

The daughter-in-law of a former town council general manager on trial for corruption was paid a fair wage, said the woman who had interviewed her for a job as she took the witness stand on Friday (Nov 23).

The prosecution alleged that the daughter-in-law, Stella Le Thi Hien, was given the job as a form of bribery.

She worked for sub-contractor 4-Ever Engineering between March and July 2016.

Her salary, however, was allegedly paid by 19-NS2, a company owned by Chia Sin Lan, who is accused of bribing former Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) general manager Victor Wong Chee Meng in return for contracts. Wong is Ms Le’s father-in-law.

On Friday, the woman who interviewed Ms Le for the job, Ms Goo Pei Koon, described how she first found out that Ms Le was joining the team.

"Boss told me he would be hiring a new girl to help me ... I told my colleague Lee Hui Ting and we had an interview. Both of us interviewed Ms Stella,” Ms Goo said.

She told the court how they hired Ms Le "and tried to give her a chance to learn", at a salary of S$1,600 a month, with a role in administration.

The prosecution showed the court an application form where there was an amendment to the salary, changing it from an original S$1,800 to S$1,600.

Asked why the amendment was made, Ms Goo said it was because she felt that Ms Le was inexperienced. She later explained when cross-examined by the defence that S$1,600 was the same figure her colleague Ms Lee had received when she first joined the company with no experience.

When asked by defence lawyer Melanie Ho, who represents Wong, if the S$1,600 salary was fair, Ms Goo said it was. 

The court also heard about how Ms Le’s salary was paid.

The arrangement to pay her in a roundabout way was Chia’s idea, the prosecution’s prime witness Mr Tay Eng Chuan had said previously during the trial, as it would be “too obvious” if Ms Le had worked for 19-ANC as she had supposedly requested. 19-ANC is another of Chia’s companies.

When questioned by the prosecution about the salary payments, Ms Goo said the boss of 4-Ever Engineering, Mr Ngoi Fook Kong, gave her cash when it was close to pay day and she distributed the cash to all employees, including Ms Le.

Ms Goo explained that she took photos of Ms Le's salary vouchers and sent them to Mr Tay on her boss' instructions.

Mr Tay had told the court that he was instructed by Chia to give Ms Le's monthly salary in cash to Mr Ngoi, who had initially not wanted Ms Le to work for him as they did not need an extra worker.

According to Ms Goo, Ms Le left the company after an argument with her colleagues and she did not see her thereafter.

Earlier, Mr Ngoi himself took the stand and told the court that Mr Tay had approached him to see if he could provide employment for the daughter-in-law of a friend.

He said he agreed to hire Ms Le when Mr Tay said he would provide the salary while Mr Ngoi's firm trained her.

"Would I be right to say at that time when you finally agreed, in your mind, you were helping Mr Tay?" asked defence lawyer Michael Loh, who acts for Chia.

"Yes," Mr Ngoi answered.

Mr Loh had charged a day before that Mr Tay was the one masterminding illegal transactions that funded the alleged bribes, and that he was not acting on Chia's instructions as he claimed.

The third tranche of the trial begins in March, when Wong's China mistress is expected to take the stand.
A subcontractor tried to back out from a company whose director is accused of bribing Ang Mo Kio Town Council's (AMKTC) former manager, but was met with anger and a threat, he said in court on Wednesday (Nov 14).

Troubled by the "dirty" dealings, Mr Tay Eng Chuan decided to withdraw his shares from 19-NS2 Enterprise, a company owned by director Chia Sin Lan which handled repair and redecoration works for town councils.

Chia is accused of giving former AMKTC general manager Victor Wong Chee Meng about S$107,000 in gratification between December 2014 and September 2016 in return for contracts.

Mr Tay, who worked for Chia, sent a message to Chia in early August 2016, telling him that "there is no meaning to it, I have decided to withdraw my shares, now, you should honestly return my share price to me".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jiang Ke-Yue asked Mr Tay on the witness stand on Wednesday what he meant by "there was no meaning to it".

Mr Tay said several complications had arisen in the dealings involving Wong, which he had provided details of in his testimony on Tuesday.

READ: Witness describes his increasing discomfort over ‘dishonest’ dealings
These were "related to bribery" and differed from the "original principles when we founded the company, and business morals", Mr Tay explained, and he felt it was better for him to withdraw his shares. He had already withdrawn his directorship at the company earlier that year.

However, Chia was angry. He sent Mr Tay a photo of a debit card and a phone SIM card.

"I am very angry, invite you go drink coffee," he wrote in Chinese. He then called Mr Tay "xiao ren", which literally translates to "small person" but is used as a pejorative term meaning scoundrel or villain.
READ: I told director remitting money to former town council GM's mistress was 'risky', says witness
Explaining the messages, Mr Tay said the debit card shown was the one Chia allegedly used to entertain Wong. It was in Mr Tay's company's name, and Mr Tay had signed up for it on Chia's request, believing Chia wanted to use it for his own mistress and girlfriend.

The SIM card was also an item Chia asked Mr Tay to help him buy so his family would not find out about his affairs. Mr Tay had asked his foreman to sign up for the SIM card.

Mr Tay said "drink coffee" was a reference to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

"He's telling me he will use this debit card and this handphone SIM card to report me to CPIB," Mr Tay explained.


After this, the defence began its cross-examination of Mr Tay, who is a witness for the prosecution.

Defence counsel Melanie Ho, who acts for Wong, asked Mr Tay if he knew about instances when Wong supposedly footed the bill.

The prosecution alleges that Chia paid for meals, karaoke lounge visits and hotel stays as a form of bribery, but the defence said in their opening statement that these expenses were shared among friends, who took turns to pay.

READ: Company director did not foot all bills on China trips with former Ang Mo Kio Town Council GM, says Defence
She asked Mr Tay if he was aware that for a trip to a karaoke lounge in 2016, Wong was the one who paid for the drinks and the room. Wong had also paid for the hotel rooms of Chia, Chia's girlfriend and Chia's China supplier David Gan during a trip to China, she claimed.

To both questions, Mr Tay answered that he did not know.

Ms Ho also asked a series of questions that showed Mr Tay's friendly relationship with Wong.

Mr Tay admitted in response to Ms Ho's questioning that he had gone for lunches with Wong and another business associate. He had said earlier during the course of the trial that he had lunch with Wong only occasionally.

He also admitted that he had visited Wong two days in a row when Wong was in hospital. He had also sent Wong a message which said to let him know if he needed anything.

The defence resumes its cross-examination of Mr Tay on Thursday.

Original article posted Jan 2017....

I refer to the article “CPIB probes Ang Mo Kio Town Council’s general manager” (

It states that “a general manager and secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council is under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) for “the way he handles contracts and dealings in the town council”. The general manager and secretary, Mr Victor Wong (picture), works for CPG Facilities Management. He has been put on forced leave.”

Conflict of interest?

Isn’t it a conflict of interest for an employee of the town council’s managing agent to be also the general manager and secretary of the town council?

After reading the subject news article – as a resident of Aljunied town council – I googled “aljunied town council conflict of interest secretary managing agent” and found the following:-

Same conflicts of interest flagged by Aljunied’s auditor?

“These were among several improper payments that the town council made to managing agent FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) and service provider FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI), said KPMG.

Such improper payments were made in a situation where there were “control failures” and conflicts of interest, as the shareholders of the two companies were holding key management positions in the town council.

These include a failure to address serious conflicts of interest and a lack of meaningful oversight by town councillors, it added.

KPMG identified six FMSS shareholders who held key management posts in AHTC, such as secretary, general manager, and finance manager – creating a conflict of interest” (“AHTC failed to address conflicts of interest, says independent auditor KPMG” (Straits Times, Nov 7).

Why same conflict of interest in Ang Mo Kio?

In view of the the independent auditor, KPMG’s report on Aljunied town council regarding “serious conflicts of interest” – why do we have similar conflicts of interest in Ang Mo Kio town council?

Other town councils also have conflicts of interest?

Are there such conflicts of interest in the other town councils as well?

No action, talk only (NATO (about others))?

If so, what actions have such town councils taken, given that KPMG flagged such “serious conflicts of interest” in town councils?

For how long already?

How long have these conflicts of interest been going on?

GM replacement also same conflict of interest?

The Town Council has appointed another employee of CPG, Mr Lim Kian Chiong, as an acting general manager of the town council, but why are we still continuing to have such similar conflicts of interest?

Do town council councilors understand the meaning of “conflicts of interest”?

Mr Ang Hin Kee, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC said, “if there are declarations to be made, if there are interests to declare, the people involved (must) make those declarations”.  But do town councilors understand the meaning of “conflicts of interest”?

Mr Ang also assured residents that the MPs of the GRC do personally check on projects performed by its contractors to ensure oversight, but isn’t all these kind of superfluous when ‘serious conflicts of interest’ are already inherent and embedded in the town council system?

By: Leong Sze Hian
But don't you worry. I'm sure the CPIB will return a finding that there was 'no dishonesty' involved like what PA did in 2015 in the similar case of Tonic Oh, Chairman of the Admiralty ward of Sembawang GRC.
The whole TC committee is in complicit with the conflict of interest. If they deny knowing or even think it's wrong, they are unfit to be in office to serve the people. I think CPIB should include them in their investigation. Then again, CPIB is under PMs control so again we see another conflict of interest. Corruption is pervasive.
Busy counting money no time to do own self check. Only when serious issue pops up then they say the law or policies outdated. Where's the passion to serve and what have they done other than raise costs of living for selfish reasons .. makes you now understand "own self check " is actually mean "being selfish ".
Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. PAP should keep its own TCs in order before they watch over AHTC like a hawk and whack them over the slightest thing. And where are the HDB Ministers Khaw and Lawrence Wong who are usually full of motherhood statements?
Same problem with the prime minister and his Wife on Temasek holdings. If that is not a conflict of interest then this is not?
"MPs of the GRC do personally check on projects performed by its contractors". Come on Mr Ang, you think we people as stupid as you?
If they had personally checked on projects as they now claimed, why didn't they detect these corrupted practices much earlier and reported the bugger themselves instead of waiting for a whistle blower to blow the matter out of the water?
I am looking forward to a robust response from Shanmuggam and/or Khaw Boon Wan; the kind they give if the offence had ocurred in the opposition ward. Or will everyone act blur?

SOMETHING is rotten in the estate of Ang Mo Kio.

A general manager and secretary of the neighbourhood’s town council has been put on forced leave and is now under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Mr Victor Wong works for CPG Facilities Management, the managing agent of the town council, which is helmed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. No details were given of the case, but the town council’s chairman Ang Hin Kee told The Straits Times (ST) yesterday (Dec 29) that a complaint was made against Mr Wong in September. Mr Wong was removed from his duties last month.

As to nature of the complaint, Mr Ang, who is also a Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said it had to do with “the way he handles contracts and dealings in the town council”, reported ST.

The complaint “arose out of his dealings which relates to probable behaviour needing investigation done by CPIB”, he said. “Needless to say, the town council ourselves will render all assistance needed to ensure zero tolerance for corruption.”

“We will render all assistance needed to ensure zero tolerance for corruption.”
What exactly are we talking about here?

Clues from Mr Ang’s brief interview with ST point to contracts being handled by Mr Wong and potential conflicts of interests which were possibly undeclared.

Mr Ang declined to give any more details of the investigation, but said that town council staff are constantly reminded to declare any interests concerning tenders being awarded by the council, said ST.

He also said that staff from the managing agent were also reminded that “if there are declarations to be made, if there are interests to declare, the people involved (must) make those declarations”.

Meanwhile, an acting general manager, Mr Lim Kian Chiong, has been asked to replace Mr Wong, who could not be reached for comment yesterday. Mr Lim is also an employee of CPG.

Read more from the source: