Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Curiouser And Curiouser!

Nobody probably batted an eyelid when they saw  the Deputy Director of Singapore Land Authority (SLA) driving around town in his Mercedes E200 ($140,000) or E350 Coupe ($300,000).  And so what if he traded in a white Lamborghini Gallardo for a grey Murcielago ($1.55 million), it's just a change of colours.  After all, it's common knowledge that Singapore's civil servants are well paid. Very well paid. His name only popped up in somebody's radarscope when he crashed his Ferrari along Nicoll Highway on 19 December last year. What a waste of a fine piece of engineering. The curious part about Koh, 40, is that he skimped off $11.8 from fictitious payments for IT maintenance goods and services. If SLA spends that much on IT maintenance, they must have an astronomical budget for IT capital purchases. No wonder the YOG committee didn't think twice before shelling out $97 million for time keeping hardware.

But the curious story about YOG is that they gave out 400 free passes for the F1 races, purportedly "to thank volunteers for helping out at the games". In a statement, Vivian Balakrishnan's Ministry of Communications, Youth and Sports said it was offered 1,200 complimentary F1 tickets to give to the deserving volunteers. So what happened to the missing 800 tickets? Each of those tickets for the Marina Bay grandstand cost at least $298. That's $238,400 missing right there. And that's not all. Of those "lucky" volunteers who were given tickets, many received them after the event was over. Now that's a new twist to the term "Indian giver". Volunteer Goh expressed his incredulity thus, "The most ridiculous thing was that the envelope was stamped Sep 24, when the ticket was for Saturday, Sep 25." The irony was not missed that the Ministry of Communications was handling the delivery.
So while the Minister Mentor traverses the globe, telling people how to run their countries, much is amiss at home. The other curious bit is how he prefers to spend his 87 birthday abroad in the company of foreigners, instead of being close to his own family members. After all, he does have a bed-ridden spouse, one brother dying of diverticulitis and a third brother diagnosed with prostate cancer that has spread into the lymph nodes.


  1. Its Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports. Communications is the "C" in MICA, not MCYS. But agree with you about the F1 ticket screw-up.

  2. Never mind lah...these F1 tickets (and Universal studios) probably already covered under "other costs" of $79.8m.

    Btw...Shitty Times is right to credit Aug's high tourist arrivals to i meant YOG

  3. >>how he prefers to spend his 87 birthday abroad in the company of foreigners...

    “Well, I can’t go anymore because so many people want to shake my hands and I become a distraction, I can’t really get down to my food.”

  4. Astute observations about the SLA fraud case. I rolled my eyes when I read that no one knew Chris Lim was their colleague when he crashed his Ferrari. And no one ever noticed Koh driving around in his Lambo? Seems really hard to believe that it could go on for 2.5 years undetected. Simply amazing is more like it.

    As for YOG, the number of screw ups just seems to keep piling up, eh? Besides the very glaring budget overrun of 300%, now they have all these goof-ups with the signatures, volunteers' food and F1 tickets. Sad......

  5. Its a disgrace that the Deputy Director of the SLA abused his position and betrayed the trust of the public to finance his lifestyle. Highly paid salaries attracts talented and competent crooks.

    Are these highly paid civil servants and ministers actually improving the quality of life for the average singaporean? Does the well being of the lower income singaporean figure in their computations?

    There was a time when the dignity and public prestige of serving in the cabinet and in the civil service was enough to attract "talent". Serving the needs of common folk created a sense of fulfillment which had little do with monetary compensation.

  6. Someone wrote in to the Forum to say the YOG countdown clock at Ion Orchard is still counting!

  7. A civil servant once remarked to me that if one aspire to rise rapidly through the ranks, one have to 'angkat' the superiors frequently and remain in the good books of those with the right political connnections. Favoritism remains very much alive in the survival of PAP cronies and GLC contracts and service providers.

    Just start with our GLC corporations like our biggest shipyards. Senior employees are often endowed with special gifts and dinner invitations by contractors while the Senior Employees in turn similarly entertain thier Client Representatives in the same manner.

    Who say corruption is not rampant in our civil service and GLCs ? In the name of doing business and securing contracts, they just keep one eye closed to such happenings ?

  8. It is not that there is no corruption in Singapore. It is just that the culprits have not been caught.

  9. Aiyah! This is small fry. Anyone dare to investigate the millions spent on YOG? It's just not going to happen. Small pay, small corruption. Big pay, big corruption. Everything is relative. Why are Singaporeans so stupid!!