25 February 2014

AHPETC Needs To Change

The managing agent ("MA") of a town council is a key entity to give effect to the town council's responsibilities of controlling, managing, maintaining and improving the town.

Although Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council's ("AHPETC") performance was rated generally on par with that of the other town councils for FY2012 (ended 31 March 2013) in estate cleanliness, estate maintenance and lift performance, some points raised by its auditor in its audited financial statements for FY2012/13 should give AHPETC pause for thought about its compliance culture, including but not limited to the role of its MA in ensuring compliance with the Town Councils Financial Rules.

I will discuss four of the issues raised in the audit of AHPETC's financial statements for FY2012/13.

21 February 2014

AHPETC Lessons For Opposition Parties

The Workers' Party's experience in managing Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council ("AHPETC") is a timely wake-up call for the opposition parties that aspire to win any electoral constituency in the next general election or by-election.

Managing Agent
Around the time of the handover of Aljunied TC from Aljunied GRC's losing People's Action Party ("PAP") Members of Parliament to the victorious The Workers' Party Members of Parliament (and therefore elected members of the town council), the incumbent managing agent ("MA") indicated its desire to be released from the MA contract.

No reason was disclosed by newly constituted Aljunied-Hougang TC ("AHTC") why the incumbent MA would voluntarily walk away from the MA contract, which is estimated to be worth about $4 million a year (before Punggol East was merged into AHTC to form AHPETC).

Managing a town is not a piece of cake.

20 February 2014

AHPETC Audit — MND Must Act

For the second consecutive year, Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council ("AHPETC"[1]) was late in finalising its audited financial statements.

For the second consecutive year, AHPETC's independent auditor, Foo Kon Tan Grant Thornton LLP ("FKTGT") issued a disclaimer of opinion.

Inability To Obtain Information
Following the 2011 General Election, the Ministry of National Development ("MND") directed reconstituted town councils (e.g., Aljunied TC) to prepare financial statements for the period from 1 April 2011 to 31 July 2011.

According to AHTC, it agreed to the incumbent managing agent's ("MA") request to be released from its contract with Aljunied TC[2].

17 February 2014

KRI Usman Harun: Moving Forward Quietly

Referring to Indonesia's decision to name a frigate KRI Usman Harun after the two Indonesian marines, Osman Mohd Ali and Harun Said, who were convicted and executed in Singapore for the March 1965 bombing of MacDonald House, Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam said on 12 February 2014 (edited for brevity)[1]:

Why Singapore raised the issue in the first place

The marines used civilian disguise. They planted a bomb in MacDonald House targeted at civilians. Killed and injured civilians. It was part of a campaign of terror. It was illegal under international law. They were tried in the Courts. The case went up to the Privy Council. They were found guilty. They were hanged in 1968.

12 February 2014

Moving Forward on KRI Usman Harun?

Indonesia's minister for foreign affairs Marty Natalegawa said that there was no ill intent when his government named a frigate KRI Usman Harun after the two Indonesian marines Usman Mohd Ali and Harun Said who were executed after being convicted of setting off a bomb in Singapore that killed three people and injured 33 others in 1965.

He said they thought that we would have forgotten about the bombing that took place almost 50 years ago. But at the same time, they did not forget their two so-called heroes whose sole claim to martyrdom was being caught and executed for their cowardly and criminal targeting of innocent civilians, which act is no different from the cowardly and criminal acts of present day terrorists.
He said that Indonesia would bear in mind the lessons from this episode and urged Singapore to move forward.

Move forward?
If he became aware, even belatedly, that Indonesia had hurt Singapore's feelings unintentionally, why did he not apologise and why did the Indonesian government not change the name of the frigate?

Compare his response with that of US President Barack Obama. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel was outraged on finding out that the United States had been spying on her, Mr Obama apologised and said that such spying would stop.

But when Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to apologise for his country's spying on Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono nor cease such spying, relations between the two countries became tense, and continues to be tense to this day.

07 February 2014

Civility in the Face of External Provocation (KRI Usman Harun)?

On learning that Indonesia had named a frigate KRI Usman Harun after the two Indonesian marines Usman Mohd Ali and Harun Said who were executed after being convicted of setting off a bomb at MacDonald House in Singapore that killed three people and injured 33 others in 1965, Singapore leaders called their Indonesian counterparts.

Singapore's Reaction
Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam spoke to his Indonesian counterpart to register Singapore's concerns and the impact it would have on the feelings of Singaporeans, especially the families of the victims.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen spoke to their respective Indonesian counterparts.

05 February 2014

Civility in the Face of Contemptuous Provocation (Anton Casey)?

Referring to Anton Casey's remarks that had riled Singaporeans, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said:

"[Casey] has done something wrong, [and we should] repudiate it, condemn it, but do not lower ourselves to that same level to behave in a way which really makes us all so ashamed of ourselves to become abusive, hateful mobs, especially online and anonymously.

We risk having an over-reaction, we risk having unrestrained, anonymous viciousness on the Internet.

You scold, you swear, you curse — all the wrong instincts get fed and in a group, there are certain group dynamics and it is like a pack of hounds hunting, which is bad. We have to be better than that, to deal with situations civilly, patiently, tolerantly. Hold a stand, but remain a civilised human being."