The Hypocrisy of TOC by Dennis Theseira
The TOC has made it clear that it is a mouthpiece for the WP. It has established its bias towards the men in blue to the extent that it is no longer objective or rational in its reportage.
For instance, TOC published an article <http://www.theonlinecitizen.
com/2011/05/a-conflict-of- interest/> on May 13 2011 that raised the issue of then-PAP run Aljunied Town Council’s General Manager Mr Jeffrey Chua and his concurrent Managing Directorship of CPG Facilities Management, which was the managing agent for the town council then.
He raises these questions.
“Suppose Mr Chua, the Managing Director of CPG Facilities Management asked for a higher management fee, in order to deal with the rise in the foreign workers’ levy, would Mr Chua the general manager of Aljunied Town Council grant that request?
If the town upkeep is poor, and HDB blocks are dirty, would Mr Chua the general manager of Aljunied Town Council replace himself as the managing agent?
It appears that there is a conflict of interest in Mr Chua’s roles. If he receives a stipend or salary from both organizations, on whose behalf would he act? If he only receives a salary from CPG Facilities Management, how can he then act in the interest of the residents of Aljunied GRC?”
All these were largely hypothetical questions for the PAP town council – the finances were clear, accounts audited, and estate upkeep satisfactory. But the recent AHPETC debacle shows that the questions occur in real life and more severely for the WP-run town council.
1. AHPETC is run by husband and wife team who owns the managing agent. There is no issue that they are completely conflicted – their private profits against the public interest.
2. This conflict can be seen in the way that the town council has tried to charge hawkers for ceiling cleanings to cut costs, to hold illegal trade fairs to increase their revenues. Where is the money going? TOC does not ask.
3. The issue of the DBSS flats shows that the town upkeep is poor, and the managing agent is not doing its job, despite collecting $3.3 million in S and C each month.
4. Meantime, the operating surplus that the town council used to have $3 million each month, has turned into a $700,000 deficit. The managing agent is paid $1.6 million more every year, compared to other MAs.
5. This website has alleged that the managers are paid $25,000 a month. Is that true? http://www.lovelysingapore.
org/2015/02/13/ahpetc-weng- fan-highest-paid-town-council- gm-singapore/
Throughout all this, TOC has kept silent. This is hypocrisy of the highest order.
TOC is biased towards the opposition to a point that is no longer rational or objective. As an ‘alternative’ news source, TOC merely obfuscates the truth and chooses rather to report whatever it chooses to, rather than what is happening on the ground. Yes, it is alternative, but only in the sense that it is alternative to truthful reporting or honest journalism. In order to become a credible news source and political commentator, TOC needs to be more objective and balanced in both its coverage and its views.
Of all the charges levied against AHPETC, the most egregious of them would be the concurrent appointments held by AHPETC officers in its managing agent, FMSS, which constitutes a conflict of interest. To recap, AHPETC secretary Mr Danny Loh and his wife, AHPETC general manager Ms How Weng Fan are both directors and shareholders of FMSS. Such related party transactions were not reported and only revealed during an Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) audit, which was published earlier this year.
TOC has sais nary a word on the conflict of interest and related party transactions that the AHPETC is embroiled in, nor any attempts to provide analyses of these.
The closest the TOC has come to addressing the issue <http://www.theonlinecitizen.
com/2015/05/pap-is-depriving- residents-in-ahpetc-of-two- years-worth-of-government- grants-without-any-valid- reason/> was an article arguing that in withholding government grants from AHPETC during the course of investigations, the “PAP is depriving residents”.
This is problematic on two counts. First, TOC has not addressed the reason why these grants were withheld in the first place: the conflicts of interest and other discrepancies raised in the AGO audit. Second, TOC has conflated the MND with the PAP. The MND (being a ministry) is technically part of public administration and hence separate from the PAP (being a political party). This inability to separate administration from politics either reflects a lack of political education among TOC’s writers and editors or more likely, an intention to politicize what is essentially a legal-administrative issue.