Thursday, August 2, 2012

Brompton Saga Rehashed

When The Washington Post first reported on discoveries that ended up as the Watergate affair, Editor Ben Bradlee noted that the protestations from the White House fell short of denial. On the basis of what he coined as "non-denial denials", he extended his support for Woodward and Bernstein's investigative reporting.

"Read my lips"
"Did I jump the gun? I don't think so," Khaw answers his own question in his first official comment on the Brompton bikes hullabaloo since the investigation was turned over to the CPIB. To assess whether it is indeed a sin of omission, or sin of commission, on the part of the Minister-in-charge, it is useful to review the chronology of events that unfolded per his story telling:

On Jun 22, Khaw discussed the Zaobao report on the purchase of 26 units $2,200 foldable bikes with his staff and wanted answers on: (a) why foldable bikes; (b) how the supplier was chosen.

On June 30, NParks submitted their internal findings, and Khaw was satisfied that the decision on foldable bikes could be justified.
[Significantly, here Khaw reveals for the first time, "for thoroughness", he commissioned an MND Internal Audit Team to "dig impartially and more thoroughly into the transaction", and verify "if the procurement was conducted in a fit and proper manner".]

On July 4, Khaw blogged that he had been satisfied with NParks' justification for the purchase, while observing that "NParks might have gotten a better deal if there was greater participation in this quotation", without mention of the audit he commissioned.
Online vitriol started to simmer over the cavalier attitude towards abuse of public funds. Since mainstream media seemed to take the Minister's comments as the final word on the matter, cyber sleuths took the initiative to unearth the hidden details and hit pay dirt.

From July 14, according to Khaw, the audit team took notice of comments circulating online on the friendship between one NParks officer and the owners of the company supplying the bikes. [Significantly, the audit team came across the incriminating inputs from internet sources, not from their own internal thorough investigative efforts.]

On July 20 the MND audit was completed, and the findings determined that while the reason for the purchase was valid, there were "certain discrepancies which suggest a possibility of bias". Note the blame is on the process, not the people involved. The online sentiments boiled over.

On 21 or 22 July, what Khaw termed as "over that weekend", we are told for the first time, the audit findings were discussed with the Permanent Secretary of the MND and it was decided to report the matter to to the CPIB.

On July 23, the report to the CPIB was made, a press statement was issued the following day, and the NParks officer was suspended from duty.
[The first MND statement had a glaring omission of the culprit's name. A second statement confirmed what the Net already knew. Latest disclosure has it that the guy is still on full pay, enjoying his leave entitlement, inspite of being suspended from service.]

"Did I jump the gun? I don't think so," that's what the man said. Well, in the light of facts on hand, we beg to differ. We don't need Yaacob Ibrahim's Media Literacy Council to teach us how to read between the lines, our netizens are doing very well, thank you. It is all too easy to brush the Minister's action/inaction to the side as something of a sympathetic parent trying to make excuses for his child's poor performance in the championship game that led to team's loss, to borrow the excuse for Alan Schwartz bringing down Bear Sterns ("Bear Trap, The Fall of Bear Sterns and the Panic of 2008"", Bamber and Spencer). If Khaw had been open and transparent in his blog of 4 July, the mud would not stick.


  1. Wouldn't the Minister have moved on and the case closed if concerned netizens had not exposed the unusual circumstanstances surrounding this procurement ?

    Now only he is saying that he hoped lessons can be learnt from this incident, which kind of showed he hadn't learnt a single thing from that S$8 heart surgery nor those expensive Herman Miller chairs purchase, isn't it ?

    Now it appears like he is trying to give mere excuses trying to salvage his image .... like what Dr Balding said details provided by Temasick were designed to obfusgate ?


      Even SCMP from HK has a op-ed column on it. Yet our unbiased balanced press are all very SILENT about the topic. No expertise to dissect the numbers ie. out of their league, or won't dissect the numbers because they think we don't have the literacy for it?

    2. This is significantly Much worst than enron , worldcom, Madoff. The highest to make Madoff jail for 150 years.

      "Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence for perpetrating the largest financial fraud in US history, a massive Ponzi scheme that lost an estimated $US17 billion dollars placed with his investment company."

      We lost so much and yet this govt is so shamelessly still living in luxury, wealth and ivory tower. Singaporeans are indeed very daft and stupid just like LiAo says. No wonder other foreigners come here to trample the local because there is no indignity here.

  2. Khaw has the cheek to shout WP misled the voters. In FACT, Khaw is the most misleading ministers in Singapore - from sending Singaporeans to nursing home in foreign countries, $8 heart surgery, HDB sizes, Herman Miller Chairs to Brompton Bike case and it leave everyone wonders was he aiming some kind most misleading ministers award on National Day? Yup, he still live in the world where he thought Singaporeans are daft and forgetful of what he said in early July and than he said a different thing to snake out from all these saga and hoping everyone will forgt in the next election.

  3. Will our Media Literacy Council use Minister Khaw's posting as a case study on how the internet can be used by those in authority to mislead?

  4. Full of wayang to divert attention away from all the systemic problems the civil service and government are facing and unable to resolve. Naturally, like all the other cases, CHC, underaged whore, NUS grades for sex, CNB/SCDF chiefs, they also want to limit all scandals to individual greed rather than system-wide corruption. Every case will be limited carefully in scope, buck always stop below me, just like how the Wall Street Bankers are blaming all the Liebor collusion to a handful of ex-Singapore-based traders from UBS. Enjoy the kibuki show, it helps vent frustration but solve none of the problems faced by the man on the street.

  5. And this is why we need more Opposition politicians in parliament.

    To ask questions that the Pro Alien Politicians are unable or unwilling to ask.

    1. Sorry to burst your balloon but it was not the WP who were responsible for the expose but the social media. WP have turned out to be a disappointment in parliament. They dont seem to be passionate about issues nor are they interested in tabling bills in parliament.

  6. "And this is why we need more Opposition politicians in parliament."

    We already have. With dirty linen and skeletons of PAP and govt coming out of the closets, we, the netizens, have by circumstances become the largest opposition members. See how the desperate govt coming out idiotic committee to crush questioning voice.

  7. If I were Khaw, I would come out declaring :

    “I should thank the ever-vigilante netizens for their high media literacy, particularly their ability to sort the wheat from the chaff, and not taking what we, the politicians and media have said at face value. Despite my assurances, the netizens have done their own thorough investigation of sorts, and were able to connect all the disparate dots on their owns. Thus helping us expose the inconsistency, bias and system imperfection in our procurement exercise that were so open to exploitation. Because without the netizens, thanks to my subordinates’ indifference, those Brompton bikes would be on the streets at the cost of taxpayers money by now. Nothing will make me happier than to auction off the foldable bikes to the public, and recall a fresh tender after the Agency has completed its mission to ensure everyone our integrity is still intact. But we can’t do that if you idiots keep disrupting us with blather about integrity, transparency, accountability, and by the way I have jumped the gun quite a bit here already. Mr Yaacob has asked that I leave that area to his governance. Once again, thanks for helping us get to our "bottoms" on the two cases involving HM chairs & BB. Everything we do from here then onwards, will strictly be 'value-for-money'. A good example of it is turning our 30 yr HDB loan to 50yr HDB loan. Thank you for your understanding"

    1. Media Literacy Award8/03/2012 9:50 AM

      LOL! Brilliant, couldn't have put it better!

  8. Everyone can relate to Herman Miller chairs and Brompton bikes. But what about the other thousands of government tenders that few can relate to? How do we know that there is no corruption? The elephant in the room is the nation's reserve where there is still NO ACCOUNTABILITY.

  9. The whiter than white shirt has not be washed since the formation of the party. Wearing it day in & day out has soiled it quite badly. We can see it but the wearer did not notice the stain. Perhaps it is time to change that shirt!

  10. Mr Khaw now claims that he direct the investigation straight away,and gave no credit to our hard working netcitizens.
    Fair enough,but what happened during the NKF saga?long after whistle blowers were fined and apologised to conman Durai and the case exposed by MSM and netcitizens,and case before the court,he as then Minister of Health,still claimed that he felt sad for conman Durai,and said Durai daughter very pityful,how about the real pityful diabetic patients who die due to NKF policies,not a single word from honest Mr Khaw till today.