By Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the article “Overlapping roles can be efficient but safeguards needed” (Straits Times, 31 Dec).
Key officers at town councils are often also employees of the managing agent
It states that “The key officers at town councils are often also employees of the companies hired to manage the estates.
This double-hatting by the staff of the managing agent companies allows for efficient operations and is a common practice, said observers, who added that robust safeguards must be in place to prevent conflicts of interest.
However, AHTC is not subjected to CPIB investigations?
“AHTC has more wide-ranging issues, while this case so far involves an individual,” said Associate Professor Mak. But he noted that the current case was a criminal investigation, while the CPIB had not been involved in investigating AHTC.
To fully eliminate conflicts of interest?
To fully eliminate conflicts of interest, said Prof Mak, town councils should not appoint employees of their managing agent companies as senior officers.
But could drive up costs?
“The best safeguard is to separate the two sides and have a totally arm’s length relationship,” he said. But he added that this could drive up costs.”
How much extra costs?
I would like to ask how much extra “costs” are we talking about? After all, the town councils’ revenue and expenditure already run into tens of billions.
Constantly reminded to declare any potential conflicts?
The article further noted that ”to guard against problems that could arise from double-hatting, staff are constantly reminded to declare any potential conflicts, said four chairmen of People’s Action Party-run town councils – Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Mr Baey Yam Keng, Mr Lim Biow Chuan and Mr Ang Wei Neng."
General Manager + Secretary has inherent and embedded conflict of interest?
Mr Lim said that tenders and bids must also always be evaluated by a group of people rather than an individual” – what’s the point of “staff are constantly reminded to declare any potential conflicts” – when arguably, the highest ranked staff (General Manager) may have an inherent and arguably, embedded conflict of interest?
Since so many people are talking about conflicts of interest – let us look at the arguably top 10 “Conflicting Statistics” of 2016.
- 550,000 resident workers (estimated) earn less than $1,838 monthly? – Are workers worse off than 8 years ago?
- 407,400 earn less than $1,200 after CPF? – Workers earning or more less than before?
- MediShield Life: Premiums up 2.5 times, claims up 2 times? – Is Healthcare insurance going to be affordable as claimed?
- ElderShield: $90m claims, $3b premiums & accumulated interest (estimated)? – Is government earning from the premiums and not spending on healthcare?
- S’pore only spends 4.7% of GDP on healthcare? – Healthcare affordable or Singaporeans paying more out of pocket?
- Do the total contributions and interest credited to Medisave account balances annually, still exceed annual total public healthcare expenditure and total withdrawals from Medisave accounts to pay for medical expenses and insurance premiums?
- S’poreans applied 1,096,628 times successfully for Medifund – Does it mean more people are getting worse off and qualifying for Medifund support?
- $324.2b owed to CPF members? – Is CPF a retirement fund managed for the people?
- % credited to CPF members – “na” from 1961 to 2001?
- CPF Real % was 0.5% from 2001 to 2015?