AIM saga - MND's failure to distinguish politics from policies

Sometime after the last General Election, soon after I agreed to act as the Chief Editor of The Online Citizen, a junior staff from the PAP Government asked if he could meet me in my capacity as head of TOC, as well as some other young people from TOC to discuss how disenchanted young people may be engaged.

I met him soon after with some friends from TOC, and at this meeting, this person emphasised that he had taken leave and was meeting us in his personal capacity. His message to us was simple. He said that the Government was apolitical, that we should not confuse politics of a political party with policy initiatives of the Government, and that he wished that youths would see this distinction and would work with the Government in making better policies.

Even though I knew that it was impossible to totally divorce politics from policies  and even if this junior staff's proposal sounded like a tired old proposal by the Government to engage, it sounded sincere enough, coming soon after General Election 2011, that this Government will choose engaging the disenchanted over Party politics.

But how this PAP Government has responded to Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPE) in the AIM saga, has totally shattered any hope that the ruling Party can or will make any distinction between politics, policies and good governance.

"Where is the missing $1 million?" ~MND Press Statement (link:

As the Ministry of National Development (MND) sets the broad legislative framework and financial guidelines under the Town Councils Act and Town Council Financial Rules to ensure proper governance and accountability by Town Councils, MND should have sought clarifications from AHPE before making such insinuations. That would have been the right thing to do, and would have amplified to the disenchanted members of the public that this is a Government which can make clear distinctions between politics and policies.
"We also have to keep our system open and contestable. The political system must be such that it is easy for people to come in to contest, form a party and participate. To win cannot be so easy because if you win, that is a big thing, and your voice will count so you must achieve a high standard to win. But to contest it cannot be difficult. You cannot require a lot of money...It is cheap to contest but the hurdle to get elected should be high because you want to maintain the quality of the MPs and the quality of the political leadership and the political debate. The way to make the hurdle high is for voters to vote for the party and the leaders who will serve them best. The system encourages that because once an MP is elected, he looks after your constituency, he is responsible for your Town Council, he does not just make speeches in Parliament." ~PM Lee Hsien Loong at Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum on 5 April 2011 (link:
From PM Lee's speech at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum we can understand why MND has attacked AHPE so viciously, especially when they had the right as well as the channel to clarify 'the missing $1 million'. The opposition-held town councils cannot do well if the PAP is to have any chance of recapturing it at the next General Election. Is that another reason why opposition-held town councils keep doing so badly in the Town Council Management Report? (see and

Against this backdrop, it is understandable why AHPE appointed a company they know for sure is not owned or affiliated to the People's Action Party (PAP). In fact, until the recent sitting of Parliament, no one knew if AIM is the only company PAP owned. I can certainly imagine the ways in how a PAP-owned company can sabotage an opposition-held town council, if the management of the town council's functions are outsourced to such companies.

So, coming back to the AIM saga, these are the facts:
And these facts clearly show that this PAP Government has not given citizens appropriate answers about the AIM-saga, but is just trying to deflect blame by pointing their fingers at the relationship between AHPE and FMSS. I wonder if MND's recent review of the AIM saga also involved analysing how AHPE can be dragged through the mud.


The Pariah said…
Town Council is public institution and TC funds are public $$$.

When no less than Minister Khaw Boon Wan has questions about $1,000,000 (NOT $8) allegedly missing from AHTC AND that same Minister has regulatory oversight over ALL TCs, then he must order a CPIB/Auditor-General investigation ASAP as part of Good Governance under PAP Government.

If not, then Singaporeans can reasonably conclude that:

- Either MND under Minister Khaw is a FAILED REGULATOR,

- Or Minister Khaw who is also Chairman of PAP was spewing FLUFF in Parliament.