Wednesday, 9 September 2015

AHPETC conversations

AHPETC is the Vietnam War of Singapore Politics.

It's a quagmire of claims and counter-claims and accusations and counter accusations, and like any war, the first casualty is truth.

So here is the most clear-headed summary of the AHPETC issue I could find.

Which I thought provided a pretty fair assessment of the issues. Though the conclusion could be read as pro-PAP.

But really, do we need to continue with this? There is nothing to be gained from this.
By now, most voters wouldn't be able to tell you the specifics of the long-running saga - only that neither side comes off well.

"So do you know about this AHPETC thing?"

"I know! The PAP brought up the AHPETC thing because WP brought up the AIM thing. Just like the PAP brought up the Yaw Shin Leong thing, then WP brought up the Robert Palmer thing!"


"Michael, what?"

"Michael Palmer. Not Robert Palmer."

"Then who is Robert Palmer?"

"This is Robert Palmer:"

"Addicted to love? Appropriate."


"So you think the CPG broke their contract with AHPETC for political reasons?"

"They didn't break contract. It was mutually agreed."

"Like Singapore and Malaysia mutually agreed to Separate in 1965, ah?"

Shortly after their historic victory in Aljunied GRC in 2011, the WP terminated the services of the managing agent its PAP predecessors had hired, CPG Facilities Management.
CPG wanted out, so the WP agreed and FMSS took its place.
It is true that CPG's contract still had two more years to go, and the WP leadership could have forced it to fulfil those two years.
But anyone who has ever worked with someone who doesn't want to work with you knows that isn't an ideal arrangement if you want to get anything done. Which makes the WP's acquiescence to termination understandable.
What's fishy is the whiff of cronyism and opportunism around FMSS. It was created seven days after the election, and majority-owned by a married couple who were long-time supporters of the WP - and senior staffers of AHPETC.

"So do you think CPG was politically pressured to withdraw their services from AHPETC?"

"This is just speculation at best. It sounds feasible like there is a conspiracy to sabotage AHPETC under WP. But the creation of FMSS just 7 days after WP won Aljunied sounds like WP also didn't want CPG."

"Good point."

"And there may be a resource issue, too."

"What resource issue?"

"If CPG is servicing all the PAP Town Councils, they will need enough staff to handle the whole of Singapore, correct?"


"Have you looked at who are the cleaners in your estate?"

"Errr... Foreign workers?"

"Exactly! And what happened to the supply of foreign workers? It has been cut. So if you have contracts with 14 Town councils to clean, but you have only enough cleaners for 13, what should you do? Get out of one of the contracts so you can redeploy your manpower to other towns."

"But when 13 of your customers are from one organisation and the other one is your customer's competitor, for your peace of mind and sanity, which one do you drop?"


"So it may seem like a conspiracy to deny the WP of services, or WP wants to frame it as political conspiracy, but it may simply be a commercial and business decision. And of course the fact that FMSS was set up within days of WP winning the GRC, it seemed like, even if CPG wanted to continue, WP and AHPETC was already preparing to give their business to FMSS. So who played out who? Let's just say it was a mutually agreed decision that both parties were, if not completely in agreement, at least partially in favour of."


"So Minister Shanmugam says that WP has been taking money from the people of Aljunied or AHPE, and giving it to their friends in FMSS. True or false?"

"I think that is rather unfair. Read this:"
If one were, say, dying of thirst, and the only person willing to sell you a bottle of water charged $20, could you be accused of overpaying?
"I think when you are a town council of the PAP, you are one of 13 town councils and you can bargain for a better deal for all 13 GRCs. But if you are AHPETC and you run only one town council, you have lesser bargaining power. Add to that, FMSS is a new business and may not have the experience to know how to lower their costs while maintaining their service standards. So costs may be higher."

"Wah liao! So liddat means any GRC that falls to an opposition will mean higher S&CC for the residents? So how come the PAP never point this out?

"Good question."


"So, Low Thia Khiang say if they had cheated the residents of AHPE, why has MND or the govt not arrested them and charged them with criminal breach of trust or cheating or some offence."

"Well, part of the problem could be their accounts. I don't understand it, but the auditors would not sign off on it. That means there are numbers there that the auditors cannot trace and confirm. If there were any fraud, these unsubstantiated numbers could cover it up. But these unsubstantiated numbers could simply be poor accounting, and not criminal in nature. But... I'm guessing here. I don't really know accounting."

"So PAP could also just be playing this up to scare people into not supporting WP?

"Yes. It could be just a scare tactic. PAP could tell the people AHPETC was badly run and they drew down on their sinking fund, which is supposed to be for maintenance, to run their day to day operations. Which means that eventually, they would have no money for major repairs and replacement. So they need to win more GRCs and get more Town Councils and raid those Sinking Funds to hide the problem. "


"I don't know about others, but I've lost track of the arguments and I really don't care anymore."

"So you're voting WP?"

"They not standing in my GRC."

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