31 May 2013

SEA Games Won't Exceed Budget, But We Won't Tell You The Budget

Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee executive chairman Lim Teck Yin expressed confidence that the budget for 2015 SEA Games would not be exceeded.

With the benefit of inaugural Youth Olympic Games, which were held in Singapore in 2010, the committee knows what it is getting for each dollar.

30 May 2013

Regulating Online News Sites — Losing The Online War

Any online news sites that, over a period of two months, (i) reports an average of at least one article per week on any programme (whether or not presenter-based and whether or not provided by a third party) containing any news, intelligence, report of occurrence, or any matter of public interest, about any social, economic, political, cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific or any other aspect of Singapore in any language (whether paid or free and whether or not at regular intervals), and (ii) is visited by at least 50,000 unique IP addresses from Singapore each month will require an individual licence from Media Development Authority ("MDA").

Online news sites are currently automatically class-licensed under the Broadcasting Act.  From 1 June, when MDA assesses that a site meets the criteria to be individually licensed, MDA will issue a formal notification to the site.  Licensed online new sites have to post a performance bond of $50,000 and have to comply with MDA’s directions within 24 hours to remove content that is considered to be in breach of content standards.

Thinking Within The Box

28 May 2013

NEA, Stall-Holders vs AHPETC — Cleaning High Areas at Food Centres

Stall-holders at food centres at blocks 511 and 538 Bedok North Street 3 were displeased after they were informed by Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council ("AHPETC") that they had to pay for the scaffolding needed to facilitate the semi-annual washing of ceilings and exhause ducts of the market and food centres.  Previously, the scaffolding was provided by the cleaning contractor.

According to AHPETC, the scaffolding was to have been provided for cleaning the high areas.  However, on the day of the cleaning, there was no scaffolding, so the cleaners could only clean the reachable areas but not the ceiling or exhaust ducts.

Stall-holders at the food centre at block 511 were informed that they had to pay extra to have the ceilings and exhaust ducts washed because AHPETC's cleaners did not cover areas that were more than 2.5 metres from the ground.

23 May 2013

Civil Servants Should Be Politically Neutral

Sometimes, civil servants don't know how to remain politically neutral, or at least to be seen to be politically neutral.

In the 13 May 2013 Parliamentary debate on the sale and leaseback of the town council management system owned by 14 People's Action Party-managed town councils ("TCs") to PAP-owned Action Information Management Pte Ltd, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said:
"I am glad that several WP [The Workers' Party] members like Sylvia Lim, made comments expressing concerns about financial prudence and the need to ensure that TCs minimise costs in the interests of their residents.  Well... so do we, although frankly how the PAP and the WP does (sic) it may be different.  For instance, in Aljunied, the management agency rate which FMSS [FM Solutions and Services Pte Ltd] charged Aljunied-Hougang residents, we found, is 20 per cent higher than the rate charged by the former Aljunied TC’s managing agent when he was under [PAP's] Mr George Yeo.  To be precise, when it was under George Yeo, the rate was $6.51 per unit per month.  Now, it is $7.87 in FY2011 — the first contract — and then it went up to $8.04 per unit per month in FY2012.  In fact, the FMSS rate is more than 50 per cent higher than the rate for Tampines TC, which is of similar size.  Tampines TC’s rate was about $5.15 per month per unit.  In fact, it came down a little bit to $4.99 last year.  I assume the residents living in Aljunied are aware of these and find them acceptable."

14 May 2013

TCMS — Standard Or Customised Software?

The exchange of words between Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim and Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on 13 May 2013 was a revelation.

When the 14 PAP-managed town councils ("TCs") sold the town council management system ("TCMS") that was jointly owned by the 14 towns to PAP-owned Action Information Management Pte Ltd ("AIM") in 2010 and immediately leased it back, the lease contracts contained a provision allowing AIM to terminate the contract with any TC by giving that TC a notice period of one month in the event of material changes to the membership, or to the scope and duties, such as changes to the boundaries, of that TC.

Ms Lim asked whether Mr Khaw considered the one-month termination clause in respect of the TCMS — a critical IT system used by the TC — was reasonable and would not jeopardise the continuity of services to residents of any affected town.

06 May 2013

MND Town Council Review Report — Reflections

Ministry of National Development released its Town Council Review Report on 3 May 2013.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong directed Ministry of National Development on 8 January 2013 to review the sale and leaseback of the town council management software ("TCMS") between the PAP Town Councils and Action Information Management Pte Ltd in 2010.
MND was to review the transaction fully and its context, and satisfy itself that public funds were safeguarded and residents’ interests were not compromised.