MND skirting around concerns about the Sengkang columbarium tender

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Khaw Boon WanBy Howard Lee

The exchange that the Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan had with fellow parliamentarians on the Sengkang columbarium issues deserves a closer look, not least because the key thrust of the debate seems to be conveniently lost in headlines that declare, “there will be no commercial columbarium in Fernvale”.

Also not helpful is what I can only best describe as a serious misrepresentation of the concerns brought up by residents about the columbarium, which some media outlets put it rather simplistically as they “did not like living next to a columbarium, felt their property resale value would be affected, and did not like how a religious site was given to a commercial entity.”

Mr Khaw’s responses in Parliament yesterday can basically be distilled into three key points: The tender with for-profit company Eternal Pureland Pte Ltd (EPL) to build a temple on land for non-profit purposes will continue; MND acknowledges that the land was meant for non-profit uses, and is “in discussions with EPL” to build a temple rather than a “commercial columbarium”; and there are serious gaps in the MND tendering process, which will be reviewed.

Is MND’s approach to the whole issue sufficient in answering the concerns of the residents directly involved, and the confidence in the public about MND’s ability to deal with such issues?

dialogsession at sengkangConcerns of the residents, misrepresented?

First, the portrayal of how residents reacted to the whole issue had stuck with the not-in-my-back-yard formula – that they did not want the columbarium because it affects them personally. Even Mr Khaw could not resist saying:

“But I can understand some of the residents' unhappiness because of this indication that there will be a commercial columbarium cropping up in their neighbourhood. So I think those concerns are legitimate and reasonable.

We all make a strong distinction between a commercial columbarium and an incidental columbarium service which is provided by temples and some churches.”

A closer read of the open letter from the residents, sent to the Minister himself, would reveal that their concerns are nowhere near this NIMBY hypothesis. Concerns about the devaluation of their property never entered the letter.

Instead, what we see are their concerns that the award of the tender to a commercial company would set an unfortunate precedence for unfair competition between for-profit businesses and non-profit organisations. They also took issue with how the Housing Development Board “hide critical material information under ultra-fine prints and vague uncertain phrases” in what they see as an attempt to inflate the price of the property by being opaque with the full details.

They made a call for HDB to effectively and unconditionally cancel their deal for the homes they have paid a deposit for, or to cancel the tender to EPL in favour for more non-profit purposes.

In his reply, Mr Khaw never addressed these issues directly. In fact, we are to understand that EPL would continue to be the valid tenderer for the temple/columbarium project, with Mr Khaw suggesting that the move will be from a “commercial columbarium” to an “incidental columbarium”.

There will be no lack of raised eyebrows for this preposition. Assuming that a for-profit entity would even entertain doing things in a non-profit way, such a “middle path” as Mr Khaw would likely call it lends itself to issues of drawing very thin lines on what a for-profit entity might be permitted to do as a non-profit outcome.

Why would anyone have faith that MND and HDB would be able to draw those lines, given that the current situation was a result of the agency “just assuming that it must be a company affiliated to some religious organisation”? Who would police EPL? Why not start on a clean slate to eradicated such ambiguity, rather than offer any opportunity at by-passing the rules?

MNDLoopholes in tendering process just about “catching up with times”?

In fact, MPs Lee Li Lain and Baey Yam Keng both identified that this lack of due diligence on the part of the tendering agency needs to be checked and amended, not just for MND but also for future tenders which involve land use.

Unfortunately, Mr Khaw made two statements that would have most baffled, if not question the capacity of MND and its statutory boards to do it right again:

“I think one takeaway for me from this episode is that times have changed and some of our tender procedures have not caught up with time.”

“Their (EPL’s) plans and our plans do not coincide.”

It is only right that Mr Khaw should call for a review of the tender processes, which he did. But beyond demanding for accountability by calling on MND to follow up and reveal the eventual results of the review, what we should be concerned about is how MND seems to have taken a flippant attitude towards the whole matter.

That EPL’s commercial intention for a non-profit site was allowed to pass because they “made the highest bid”, as Mr Khaw has admitted, speaks volumes about the government’s approach towards tenders, particularly those for land use.

So one might wonder what Mr Khaw meant when he said that the review would “tighten tender rules to achieve MND’s planning objectives”. A holistic approach would necessarily need to consider matters of transparency, not just for how the tendering agency can be accountable to the people by building in more specific tender requirements, but how bidders need to disclose their interests and business affiliations.

Unfortunately, letting EPL proceed with the project, regardless of any new terms and conditions imposed by MND, will continue to be a sting in the hide of the whole issue. It is emblematic of a system that penalises citizens, even if unintentionally, because it is unable to distinguish between social and commercial interests.

  • laukokok

    Why say so much, just say this is a isolated case or human error ,set up a COI after sometime people will forget. This the way you PAP Minister always co right?

  • Tan Alan

    Why no COI or CPIB investigation into fraudulent corruptible acts in tender process?… another Bromptomgate, AIMgate to be quickly swept under the stinky PAPigfarm carpet?

    • PikuChoo

      As I have repeatedly mentioned, there has been an allegation that Goh Chok Tong’s son and Ho Ching’s cousin are directors of either the $1 company (Eternal Pureland) and/or its parent company Life Corporation (Australia listed).

      We need Mr Khaw to categorically state that the allegation is either false or true instead of conveniently keeping silent. Otherwise, we will assume the worse, ie: it is true. (Hopefully our assumption will not be subject to being issued a letter of demand in a private capacity by PM LHL through his very good friend Mr Davinder).

      It is okay to assume and ACT on the assumption right? Afterall, MND appears to have done EXACTLY that and NO one has been punished.

      • nelsonmandala

        what!!!! lauGoh’s son again..that bloke is a big doc in raffles parklanes medical centres..now dead also hav a share…sure win lioa

        • PikuChoo

          If this (Fernvale columbarium) had gone ahead, lauGoh’s son’s hospital might well be funneling business to the columbarium… and he gets to make money on patients whether they come or go…

          • nelsonmandala

            mayB lauGOH’s angmor soninlaw becum a taoist monk and can performed the xclusive funeral rites in fernvale colabarium as well

      • Richard Woo

        Khaw is a PAP minister – we must remember that. Can we trust him to answer truthfully? The PAPy camp is saturated with half-truths and hypocrisy. The next GE results cannot be seen as a freak result [overall] but as an indictment of PAPy failure in serving Singaporeans – assuming of course the PAP is booted out.

        • jessie

          But we don’t have enough Opposition to form the govt.
          -Jessie

      • Samson

        No surprise lah, this is expected given the blank cheque by the people, in fact it would be stupid of PAPpies not to write anything on the cheque since the 60% so love, love, love them and support anything and everything they do. This election is not going to be any different, PAP WILL WIN AGAIN!!! This is how blooming stupid majority of Singaporeans are. Why do you think the cleverer ones find this place hopeless and left.

  • Nikko Asia

    This incident is the thin edge of the wedge. Wonder what other rules will have loopholes to allow skirting of the social contract.

  • PikuChoo

    This is the definition of “twisting”, one of the favourite words of A-Lan, who is noticeably absent all of a sudden….

    • Alan

      So you make a living trolling in TOCommunists! How much you get for being their professional IB? 5 cents or 10 cents per comment? Payrolls include Jessie, nutcase and Samson right? You people must have make a lot for the amount of twisting and turning!

      And Nelson, walnut face dog, nonsense paragraph troll and fake supporter are not full timers! They do more harm than good!

      I’ve to work for a living and live my life rather than station here full time. Nobody is going to pay my bills like you! I can only be in when I take time off for my busy schedule and it’s all with the aim of defending my country from you idiots!

      Life sucks right?

      • nelsonmandala

        ole yeah.. u been bz..polishin 0.38 calibre ammo for your helicopter gunships

        • Alan

          Don’t come and fucking shit around! Who is talking about what fucking bullet the military is using!

          You sucked for a living is it! Both for TOCommunists and Piku is it!

          She is a fucking twister! Don’t need you to kaypoh!

          • GUSSIE91

            have you registered to the KL kindergarten to learn, to speak and to write a good Singlish……………?
            It is nice to see and to read in TOC.

          • Alan

            It’s meant for shitty people like you! Enjoy it!

          • GUSSIE91

            you sounds like the lowest caste FW who lives at the border between India, Pakistan, Bhutan in the deep dark jungle………

          • Alan

            This is racial again! You sure you want to go that path?

          • GUSSIE91

            no,no,no………..there were mixed marriage between India, Pakistani, Bhutan, Chinese, Russia, Jews and Anglo Saxon.
            They are pretty, tall, busty, sexy and exotic.

          • GUSSIE91

            it is nice to keep on maintaining the fire in TOC till the next GE……………the more you argue the better for the average ordinary Singaporeans to recall the past the ruling party mistake.

          • Alan

            Best things was most errors were drum up by your rumors and imagination.

            And most people are sane!

          • GUSSIE91

            we will meet in the next GE to fight…………the fight between the leaders and the 4,200,000 average ordinary Singaporeans in Singapore history.

          • Alan

            Wrong! There are only handful of you! Don’t exaggerate!

          • nelsonmandala

            and there r onlee 2 of u……
            a..Lan and rational who is aka szabo aka jaw aka idiot

          • Samson

            Only 1% right? 99% love and adore PAP and will vote PAP. Why you jumping up and down everytime the “handful of (us)” expose something leh? 99% not so stupid right, so no need you to jagar lah.

          • Alan

            I hate rumors! It serve no purpose! It only serve to cloud everyone to just focus on useless parts of the whole thing!

            Like some of you are complaining on the liquor clamp. Said it restricted our right! But anyone see the reason?

          • Samson

            Is this rumour – LHL is best of the best of the best in the Universe, he can lead mother Earth to conquer Mars,…..? I don’t find this kind of rumours in TOC leh. So is it when stories expose PAP or LHL failure, its all rumours?

          • Alan

            Trying to choke me with you lies again? I’m never fascinated politician because they are paid by us to get things done!

            Maybe you should rumored with the example you quote which is more trustworthy then the lies you fabricate!

          • Tan Peng Leng

            “I’m never fascinated politician because they are paid by us to get things done!” – Sure lah, you are so grossly in love with yourself that you can take a libido and poke you own ass mah! Even you are the Grand Turtle Head you have never fascinated the girls mah, and you prefer to do it with animals, especially dogs, and to yourself than to a decent human being!

          • nelsonmandala

            I’m never fascinated politician because they are paid by us to get things done!
            ………………………
            harlor..is that Y? pap party nid 79 mps and 1 useless presidente with a couple of eatricewaste seeds mayors to run the show?

          • Alan

            You expose what? Everything is just fart and no proof or evidence! That’s what you call rumors!

            This lesson is free! I won’t charge you!

          • Tan Peng Leng

            You are exposed lah. BLJ, ball-less, not the natural child of your current family, a-gua, Grand Turtle Head, Hypocrite King of TOC, Greatest Traitor of All Time In Singapore History!
            Oh, what happen to “many of them coming”? Still cannot “see” leh, or they are drowned by your saliva? What happen to your Air Force? All grounded by your saliva? You venom must be very sticky!

          • nelsonmandala

            his airforce crew kanned XTRAS..they r polishin every 0.38 rounds for the helicopter gunships

          • nelsonmandala

            cancerLEE was the lt col spiderman who climbed the cable car cables to safe foreigners(visitors)…
            and also led the commando team to kill the bhaiis hijacker who was armed with temple knives in the sia plane

          • GUSSIE91

            I will be one in the 4,200,000 average ordinary Singaporeans to fight till the last blood drop…………….

          • Tan Peng Leng

            Grand Turtle Head BLJ will run away first lah! He claimed that more of his kind is on the way to TOC, yet, until today, still see no one leh! Telling people not to exaggerate, yet he talk big than the rest of us. By the way, want to know his full list of titles? I can update you if you are interested!

          • GUSSIE91

            another weak mis-management was reported by Parliament’s public accountants watchdog, similar to Keppel Golf corruption/over look shadow membership…………..what is going on w/Singapore elite group policies?

          • liangjwc1

            Are you sure still so many at 4,200,000?
            Maybe you included many foreigners.

          • GUSSIE91

            no,no,no………………latest report, total 4,200,000 native Singaporean plus 1,500,000 PR/FT/FW making the population 5,7M.
            Approx 40% are eligible to vote………….the rest of 60% will fight in the CC during meeting people session.

      • PikuChoo

        When AHPETC made a mistake in reporting the arrears for their town council, nobody LOST money and nobody made a profit.

        When Ho Ching lost a S$1 billion of our laundered CPF funds, it was an honest mistake. She has since far exceeded that record.

        Now Khaw Boon Wan cannot even admit that a mistake had been made with respect to the Fernvale temple tender. Instead, he has chosen to “twist” and “turn” and “farted” that an assumption had been made. He couldn’t even bring himself to say that it was a WRONG assumption.

        And you say you are “defending my country” by mindlessly supporting whatever the PAP govt says or does? I think if a govt minister was found raping your daughter, you would DEFINITELY say that she was asking for it and the minister is innocent. Right? 🙂

        • Alan

          Did I ever fucking cursed you and your family? Did I ever bring your family into any topics over in TOC?

          Don’t you fucking start the precedent! I don’t tolerate this fucking shit!

          • PikuChoo

            I “assumed” you didn’t mind 🙂

          • Alan

            For a start what does Ho Ching had to do with the topic we are discussing?

            For one, it’s about the governing of TC and they screwed it. There are nothing you can twist to change that!

            The government already declared that Temasek does not handle CPF. It’s like insisting that your mum is a woman but you keep implying That’s not! So what’s the point?

            No one in the world can guarantee profitability on investment! There are profit and losses! Even f they’ve losses, they’ve made it back! Our funds are more now! Can’t u let it go? Less you tell me there isn’t other issue you can counter with and prefer to be a broken record!

            For that the ruling party is doing a great job with minimum problems and mistakes !

          • GUSSIE91

            dude……………..we just received a summary fast fax from Oxford cafe after Davos meeting, that the Singapore GIC/Temasek world bank Standard Chartered/SC majority share holders has lost more than 65% from it capital invested and its earning has also dropped more than 75%.
            The SC chairman/CEO plus their top senior executive will be leaving the company within 21 days. Unofficial report told us Ho Ching will be in charge in running the huge lose SC bank from March 2015.
            It is sad that our CPF money is declining more than 55% from the first day Temasek/GIC occurred huge loses investment in 2008. Singapore investment will lose more and more w/the forex war and world currency devaluation…………regret that Singapore deep recession is un-voidable within 12 months w/growth minus 2,5% till 2018.

            At present cash and gold are still our king.

          • PikuChoo

            Huh? What does Ho Ching know about running a bank? She didn’t know anything about investment and promptly lost nearly S$1 billion when she started at Temasek Hld.

            We might as well sell off whatever is left of Standard Chartered now before she runs in completely into the ground.

          • GUSSIE91

            W/20% share holding in SC and $300billions surpluses those has been published around the world…………..HC also received report from the senior executives, it is no necessary to know about running a bank.
            Being PM’s wife is sufficient to show her power by just giving order.

            If you could rewind Temasek/GIC huge investment, our investment value is just getting smaller and smaller by days since 2008.
            It is sad indeed.

      • jessie

        If you cannot participate in a discussion you should politely leave the forum so that you
        don’t reveal your IQ level and bring shame to your party!
        -Jessie

        • Alan

          Ban me! Why be another to beg me to go! Can’t you accept someone true among the whole group of liars here?

          I add credibility to your otherwise shitty forum. And I attract more opposite voice to balance or otherwise extremist views that may have gotten all of you into trouble!

          • Tan Peng Leng

            “Ban me!” – Don’t need lah, without you life in this forum will be very broing!

            “Can’t you accept someone true among the whole group of liars here?” – Can, except that you are the Greatest Lair among us there, also the Born Loser according to your definition!

            “I add credibility to your otherwise shitty forum.” – Whoa, the Greatest Traitor of All Time In Singapore History and Grand Turtle Head of All know Lorongs In Singapore add credibility to this forum leh! How ah? By labelling others as Farter, Fuck, dog, etc.? Well, should not surprise since your England Powder is limited!

            “And I attract more opposite voice to balance or otherwise extremist views that may have gotten all of you into trouble!” – Did not know that you are the great saviour who sacrifice oneself to save the rest of us! So a new title for you – The St Mother Fucker who let himself fuck by all other enemies to save the rest of this forum (Actually if you do “fuck” around, we would be more than happy)!

            Remember that you said here – “Did I ever fucking cursed you and your family? Did I ever bring your family into any topics over in TOC? Don’t you fucking start the precedent! I don’t tolerate this fucking shit!” – Question my daughters’ family lineage by suggesting that “who are yours or may not be yours”, you chee bye ball-less a-gua A-LAN better watch out! No time to read my post? No issue, I have all the time to read yours!

          • Alan

            Please continue! I comments for idiots like you to read! How sad if you were to ignore it.

            I hate nonsense so I’m going to skip yours! However bout your daughter lineage I’ll suggest you have a check! You’ve repeated this shit a few times so it seemed to be a thorn in your brain!

            Good luck and hope everything is in proper!

          • Tan Peng Leng

            “I hate nonsense so I’m going to skip yours!” – Whoa, now triple confirm you are indeed BLJ!

            “However bout your daughter lineage I’ll suggest you have a check!” – Haha, no worries about that. You should check whether you are the child of your parents – maybe your father is not your biological father or your mother is not your biological mother, or worse maybe both are not natural parents, and you are the product of a one-night fling!

            “You’ve repeated this shit a few times so it seemed to be a thorn in your brain!” – Where got? Check what I have written and it will reveal your TRUE identity in bringing my family into the discussion while ASKING others not to start it! So how hypocrite cab you be! New Title for you: Hypocrite King of the TOC!

            “Good luck and hope everything is in proper!” – Check your lineage first lah – can “see” from this forum that you are not a natural product of your current family! That is why you are son of a bitch!

          • Alan

            You are worry! Because you keep emphasize it! It does hit a raw nerve huh?

            Don’t worry! Just recalled what wrong you did the last time and make good to the one you did to, and forgive what she had done back to you!

            You’ll be in peace!

          • Tan Peng Leng

            “You are worry! Because you keep emphasize it! It does hit a raw nerve huh?” – I am worry? Check the whole history of our exchange lah, see whether I am indeed worry! I emphasize it? No lah, just use it an example in your exchange with Pikuchoo o showcase how hypocrite you are! Hit my raw nerve? I think you siam all the question I post, just like you siam your NS obligations! Must be really son of the BITCH!

            “Don’t worry! Just recalled what wrong you did the last time and make good to the one you did to, and forgive what she had done back to you!” – Whoa, now involve my missus! Message from her: Why? You jealous my hubby got TLP and mushroom head whereas you are eunuch! This one from me: You should worry more as you keep “spilling” fucker, farter, idiot, etc, who knows you really have one in hand and that makes you red-eye of the others with happy family!

            “You’ll be in peace!” – Not only I am in peace, I am one piece too! Unilke you, where your brotherhood is already long gone!
            So, is your father the real father, your mother the real mother? Why chose not to answer? Or I have sit you RAW NERVE! Really a ball-less one, change name lah, called Tu-Lan better!

          • Alan

            You just have to worry bout yourself! Keep calm when you find out anything. Don’t want to read another news alike the Parkview incident.

          • Tan Peng Leng

            “You just have to worry bout yourself! Keep calm when you find out anything. ” – You talking about yourself lah, don’t need to be paiseh about it! After all, you don’t even defend your family name – only those who have no family does that! That’s a clear act that you are son of the bitch! An unwanted child, not even wanted by the RSAF!

            “Don’t want to read another news alike the Parkview Apartment incident.” – Whoa, what happen? You mean you lan-pa-ji was chopped off in that incident?

  • One straightforward simple question: Which commercial entity with stakeholders and stockholders to answer to, be willing to part with millions of dollars for a project that would for all intents and purposes yield zilch income just because some MND civil servants or the minister have been sleeping on their jobs? It will be a moral hazard for the minister to arm twist or otherwise get EPL to continue. Any behind the scene deals to make EPL cooperate is strictly illegal for the govt to enter into.

  • Samson

    Do people seriously expect high standards from these Millionsters? If the boss must pay them a lot a lot to prevent corruption, has zero accountability and consequence for any misdeeds, it is only normal or natural for all sorts of misdeeds to be carried out under your nose.

    The boss himself is blackmailed by this thugs! What you expect?