Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has called for an independent Commission of Inquiry to be convened in light of the latest revelation that E M Services Pte Ltd that is owned by Housing Development Board (HDB) and Keppel Land was found guilty by Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) in withholding the sale of spare parts to 3rd party lift contractors.
In its statement penned by Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary General of SDP, multiple questions were asked on the issue. Such as why E M Services was allowed to continue to withhold selling spare parts to third-party contractors until two months ago and did the withholding of lift parts by E M Services and other companies under investigation cause the breakdowns of lifts in HDB blocks.
The party also noted the some of malfunctions resulted in severe injuries and even death among passengers.
It was reported by Straits Times that a complaint was made two years ago to the CCS about the company, E M Services Pte Ltd sparking an investigation.
The complaint was about the company withholding supply of lift spare parts of a specific brand to a lift maintenance company, for the purposes of servicing and maintaining lifts located in a Housing Development Board (“HDB”) estate. Under the law, a dominant firm with substantial market power is prohibited from preventing or impeding competition through withholding key products or services that are essential input to other businesses1 .
CCS’s investigation revealed that such conduct by the Company would likely restrict competition in the market for the provision of lift maintenance services as the Company is the only supplier of that specific brand of lift spare parts in Singapore.
On 12 May 2016, E M Services Pte. Ltd. (“E M Services”) came forward to CCS to provide commitments to supply BLT lift spare parts in Singapore to third-party lift maintenance contractors in Singapore.
Following feedback which it had obtained from a public consultation from 22 January to 5 February 2016 , CCS considered the commitments fully address the competition concerns raised by CCS.
Member of Parliament, Pritam Singh also posted on his Facebook about the revelation, stating that it is not mentioned in the reports that EM Services are 75% owned by the HDB, and 25% by Keppel, effectively making EM Services a HDB and government-owned company and said that CCS should release a detailed report on this matter to the public.
Below is SDP's statement in full
A complaint was made two years ago to regulatory body Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) that E M Services had withheld selling spare parts to its competitors. E M Services was found guilty of the malpractice but no action was taken against the company. Even then, it agreed to supply parts to third-party contractors only in May this year.
E M Services is owned by HDB and Keppel Land. Its staff had comprised serving PAP MPs.
The latest revelation poses several grave issues which the PAP government cannot avoid:
- When was E M Services found guilty of breaching anti-competition rules when the first complaint was made two years ago?
- Did the CCS or other relevant bodies announce the complaint against E M Services and the resultant conviction?
- Why was there no action taken against E M Services when it was found guilty of breaching rules two years ago?
- Why was E M Services allowed to continue to withhold selling spare parts to third-party contractors until two months ago?
- Did the withholding of lift parts by E M Services and other companies under investigation cause the breakdowns of lifts in HDB blocks – some of which resulted in severe injuries and even death among passengers?
- Did the former Minister for National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, and the present one, Mr Lawrence Wong, know of these problems? If they did, when did they know about it and what action did they take?
- Why did Mr Lawrence Wong not raise this issue in his earlier statements this year despite his concern of the several incidents of lift mishaps in the past several months?
- Who was/were the complainant/s in the matter against E M Services and other companies, and what was/were the specific nature of the complaint/s?
- How many E M Services staff or Board of Directors are/were also PAP MPs, Town Council staff or Town Councillors?
Information regarding the entire episode has been coming in dribs and drabs, and the more is known the more questions arise. In light of the latest development, the SDP calls on the Government to convene an independent Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of the problem. A life was lost and serious injuries incurred over the sordid fiasco. There must be accountability.