Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Commentary - David Lim Out. All still Quiet?

Expand Messages
  • thevoiddeck@lycos.com
    Commentary Thank you for playing! Next Player! It is not everyday we see what we thought was a rising PAP rocket in 1997, sputter and fizzle and now is
    Message 1 of 5 , May 5, 2003

      Thank you for playing! Next Player!

      It is not everyday we see what we thought was a rising PAP rocket in 1997,
      sputter and fizzle and now is plunging into the dank swamp of obscurity. No
      it is not a bird it is not a plane, it is a crashing rocket with David inside,
      aiming for a landing in the private sector and clutching a token golden
      parachute with the phrase painted in its nice silky canopy "'The
      Prime Minister has reluctantly agreed to his request and thanks him
      for his valuable and dedicated service to the Government and the
      people of Singapore". That really didn't sound good leh.

      Eh so who is this quitter David? An ACS boy who later had his finger
      in the pie as the CEO of the China Suzhou Industrial Park in 1996.
      Whoooops bad CV as we know what happened in 1999 when the SIP project
      was, unfortunately for Singapore, regarded a failure. Of course David
      had left the SIP scene in 1997 and dressed in White and became a MP
      by then. Maybe he didn't do too well in SIP then? In 1998, Asiaweek
      described him as "He's hot. With international experience, he
      epitomizes the outward-looking, tech-savvy minister". Whooops this is
      the assessment of a magazine that just couldn't hack it and gain
      readership and sadly shut down in 2001.

      That his departure was a shock to many including MPs Lily Neo and
      Wang Kai Yuen is telling and fuels speculation amongst my coffee-shop
      kakis. The press also didn't report much on David's overnight
      departure from politics and it looks like news on David is being
      purposely downplayed. The only insightful comment on David was Chua
      Lee Hoong's recent article 'David vs Goliath of speculation' where
      she said that there is more than meets the eye or something like
      that. If David is being politely phased away, THEY would have posted
      him to some other obscure government ministry or stat board first mah
      (like Lim Hng Khiang now after his lacklustre performance in the SARS
      crisis). The sudden stepping down into backbencher status only
      suggests that something is amiss and based on personality clashes. It
      is either he cannot stand the rest in the PAP or the people that have
      clout in the PAP cannot stand him. (I just love to speculate
      and it makes me feel like a political analyst!)

      Ahhhh perhaps it is simply because David didn't perform as brightly
      as he should have and knows that it is his time to scoot. After all,
      he was a President Scholar before you know and the PAP bosses
      probably expected lots from him. David popped into the political
      scene in the 1997 elections and quickly rose to become Minister of
      State in the powerful and important Ministry of Defence in 1998. But
      his star blazed during PM Goh's time.

      Back to the personality clashes argument, maybe David knew that once the
      new PM we-know-who takes over the helms perhaps even next year, things
      might become bleak for him. Fellow acting Minister Yacoob Ibrahim becomes
      MCDS Minister on 12.05.03. Lee Boon Yang, now in the Manpower Mnistry and
      fairly quiet in the last few years, will become Information, Communications
      and the Arts Minister that day. As Lee Boon Yang is set to replace David, it
      means that the PAP bosses see in Lee Boon Yang what David lacked.
      I still don't know what those characteristics are.

      What it all means to Singaporeans is that David sets a recent
      precedent in the hire and fire of PAP politicians, even a former
      President Scholar. We won't know whether David is slinking away
      because he cannot cope in his job and wants to go back to the private
      sector or his future boss, The Next Lee, just doesn't want him on the
      team later. As DPM Lee Hsien Loong looks set to become the next PM of
      Singapore, it is likely that the man had his hand in the current
      Cabinet changes including David's sudden departure.

      http://www.thevoiddeck.org 03.05.03
    • Angela Pok
      Cheap tabloids unaccustomed to publishing insightful articles will often resort to sensation seeking journalism to attract subscriptions. Below is one such
      Message 2 of 5 , May 7, 2003
        Cheap tabloids unaccustomed to publishing insightful articles will often
        resort to sensation seeking journalism to attract subscriptions.

        Below is one such example. SPH and The Straits Times is yet to reply to
        below letter.

        ST article on SARS patient insensitive
        By Angela Pok
        April 5, 2003

        I refer to the article "91 cases traced to just one woman here" on
        Thursday, April 3 2003. I was utterly appalled and outraged for Ms
        Esther Mok that the so-called serious newspaper of our country could
        allow such a gross error in judgement. [The] headline alone is a
        deplorable example of insensitivity and baseness.

        I realise that ChannelNewsAsia had already released the fact that she
        is a "super-infector" but your article seems to put blame on her. Is
        it necessary that you point out that she was the root of the
        infection of 91 persons? No I don't think so! She has already lost
        her father and is still ill herself, now you want to place a stigma
        on her as well?

        There is absolutely no justification or excuse for what you have
        done. I have no relation to Ms Mok and do not know her personally but
        I am livid at the faux pas you have committed here. And this is just
        one of many mistakes that I have noticed The Straits Times has made
        in the past year. Almost everyday there are "What it should have
        been" articles. But this really takes the cake.

        And I am not alone in my views of this article and how Ms Mok has
        been abused in her incapacitated state. If and when she recovers I
        would advise her to take legal action not for libel nor slander but
        for causing emotional distress and for a complete lack of common
        sense. You should not call yourself a serious newspaper with articles
        such as these. Why not put a naked girl on page three? Even that
        would be more tasteful than this.
      • Ko����chiro Matsuura
        05 May 2003 by Ko����chiro Matsuura Each year on World Press Freedom Day, attention is drawn to the importance of press freedom as a prerequisite of a healthy,
        Message 3 of 5 , May 7, 2003
          05 May 2003 by Koïchiro Matsuura

          Each year on World Press Freedom Day, attention is drawn to the
          importance of press freedom as a prerequisite of a healthy,
          functioning democracy in which people are free to speak their minds.

          In times of war and violent conflict, the dangers facing journalists
          are greater than usual but these are precisely the circumstances when
          independent, accurate and professional reporting is at a premium.
          Given the pervasiveness and immediacy of modern media, we all carry
          in our minds fresh and vivid images of warfare, destruction and
          violence. We are aware, therefore, of the conditions under which
          journalists sometimes work and the risks to life and limb that they
          face. At least 274 journalists were killed in war zones between 1990
          and 2002. And most recently, of course, death or injury was visited
          upon a number of journalists covering the war in Iraq.
          On this World Press Freedom Day, we salute all those journalists
          whose pursuit of truth and information in circumstances of warfare
          takes them into harm's way. We applaud their bravery in the face of
          dangers that may well be life-threatening. We admire their tenacity
          in pursuing the facts. And we pay tribute to their professionalism in
          seeking to penetrate the fog of war.

          The risks facing journalists are not confined to wartime, however.
          Translating the principle of press freedom into practice is no easy
          matter. Sometimes, press freedom is constrained by laws and the
          enforcement powers exercised by the police and the courts. Sometimes
          it is constrained by unlawful violence, threats and intimidation.
          Typically in such cases, it is journalists and other media
          professionals who find themselves, sometimes literally, in the line
          of fire. And the price they pay can be very high indeed. The
          statistics available from professional organizations tend to vary but
          the categories they use tell their own story: the number of
          journalists murdered, physically attacked or threatened; the number
          of journalists arrested and imprisoned; and the number of media
          outlets censored. During the past year, the global situation of press
          freedom appears to have deteriorated.

          Behind the statistics are individual stories of courage and pain, of
          lives broken, of personal loss and sacrifice. Beyond the statistics
          are the effects on all of us when journalists, in the course of
          exercising their profession, are subjected to harassment,
          imprisonment, attack, and even murder. Such abuses cause great
          individual suffering but they are also a grave curtailment of freedom
          of expression, with all that this implies as a limitation on the
          enjoyment of freedoms and rights in society at large. For whenever
          one journalist is exposed to violence, intimidation or arbitrary
          detention because of his or her commitment to conveying the truth,
          all citizens are deprived of the right to express themselves and act
          according to their conscience.

          The debt we collectively incur when journalists suffer on our behalf
          must be repaid in practical ways. At the very least, we must declare
          war on impunity. I therefore appeal to all governments, at all
          levels, to fulfil their responsibility to ensure that crimes against
          journalists do not go unpunished. It is essential that all violations
          are investigated thoroughly, that all perpetrators are prosecuted,
          and that all judicial systems and processes are capable of punishing
          those found guilty. These requirements are vital for correcting human
          rights abuses. Putting an end to impunity fulfils our need for
          justice; in addition, it will do much to prevent abuses occurring in
          the first place.

          The right of all citizens to reliable information depends on the
          courage and integrity of journalists, on the fearless exercise of
          editorial freedom, and on the unswerving commitment of pluralistic
          media to the principles of journalistic freedom and independence. I
          appeal, therefore, to the international community and to decision-
          makers and citizens everywhere to do whatever you can to ensure that
          journalists can pursue their work unhindered and undeterred, so that
          people throughout the world can benefit from the free flow of ideas.
          For its part, UNESCO will act, whenever and wherever it is necessary,
          to promote the freedom, pluralism and independence of the media. We
          unreservedly condemn all forms of violence aimed at silencing the
          truth. On World Press Freedom Day 2003, our arms are locked in
          solidarity with all those equally committed to media freedom and
          freedom of expression.

          Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR),
          binding on all States as a matter of customary international law,
          guarantees the right to freedom of expression in the following terms:
          Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this
          right includes the right to hold opinions without interference and to
          seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and
          regardless of frontiers.
        • Jeffrey Ho
          The following letter from Mr Jeffrey Ho was sent to the Straits Times but was never published under the ST Forums. It is now re-circulated under Singapore
          Message 4 of 5 , May 7, 2003
            The following letter from Mr Jeffrey Ho was sent to the Straits Times
            but was never published under the ST Forums.

            It is now re-circulated under Singapore Review.

            Leaders need to walk the talk to fight fear and SARS
            By Jeffrey Ho
            28 April 2003

            Much has been heard and written about the crisis of
            fear as a result of SARS. As is rightly pointed out,
            the fear of SARS is even more serious than SARS

            Because of the fear, people resort to lying and
            behaving irrationally. The paranoid avoid going to
            hospitals or seeing a doctor when they are not well
            (for fear of contact with medical personnel or the
            SARS-infected patients) while the irresponsible risk
            infecting others by their nonchalant act. Therefore,
            the community at large is in danger of exposure to the
            disease if those already infected in these two groups
            act irrationally or irresponsibly: the paranoid who
            refuse to see the doctors when early treatment might
            render speedier recovery (thus avoiding widespread
            contagion) while the nonchalant, who should be
            quarantined, go about doing their normal routines, as
            a result of which, expose others who come into contact
            with them. While the new measures (fine and jail for
            those who breach quarantine orders) have addressed
            those who are nonchalant and irresponsible, more needs
            to be done to address those who are paranoid with

            The main cause of fear is the unknown - a lot of
            uncertainty about SARS still remains, especially how
            it is spread. Lack of information about the disease
            (especially amongst the heartlanders and those without
            access to the media) exacerbates the fear. Education
            and publicity about the safety of hospitals (in
            particular about TTSH) is a given and must be
            on-going. What the government, ministers, MPs and
            community leaders can do more to alleviate the fear is
            to personally bring the message (though done sparingly
            now) through to as many households as possible during
            the next few weeks. It is one thing to read, hear or
            see our leaders, in Parliament or at press
            conferences, exhorting to the citizens (that it is
            safe to go to TTSH for screening), but to have them
            visiting their homes (be they in HDB or private
            estates) and re-affirming the message will give
            Singaporeans' waned confidence a much-needed boost. In
            other words, the leaders must walk the talk (pun
            intended). TTSH is safe? The leaders show the way.
            People avoiding crowded food courts? The ministers
            have breakfast there (as Senior Minister Khaw Boon Wan
            has done).

            Therefore, it may now be timely to bring back those
            ministerial walkabouts to personally educate
            Singaporeans to act rationally and responsibly and to
            show that, even with SARS, life must and can still go
          • Mellanie Hewlitt
            Mellanie Hewlitt Singapore Review 9 May 2003 Some Singaporeans are wondering if they will ever see the completion of the North East MRT Line within their
            Message 5 of 5 , May 8, 2003
              Mellanie Hewlitt
              Singapore Review
              9 May 2003

              Some Singaporeans are wondering if they will ever see the completion of the
              North East MRT Line within their mortal life times. Complaint letters concerning
              the late completion of this project were sent by members of the public as early
              as October 2002 (see one such letter published ih the Straits Times below). It
              is note worthy that some 9 months have passed since this complaint letter and
              there has been no significant progress.

              Project completion was first delayed till Nov 02. Then delayed again till March-
              April 03. The latest deadline revision is close to June 03, with no end insight.

              From the "Management" there was no apology, no remorse, not a hint or regret
              even. Instead, in a sweeping move "Management" announced implementation of rate
              hikes. If ever there was a time to rethink policy measures for GST and rate
              hikes, now would be it.

              The North East Line was a much touted project of the government and received
              much fanfare and media coverage some 1-2 years ago. But that was BEFORE the
              project ran into huge problems, delays and cost over-runs and became a public
              eye sore and national embarrassment.

              In a desperate attempt to salvage credibility and nationalistic pride, pro-
              government Singapore Press Holdings ran not one, or two, but THREE separate
              articles in today's Straits Times, down playing the extent of the blunders
              ("N-E Line fares higher, but SBS discounts soften blow", "When 29 more for
              train = 15 more min of snooze" and finally "SBS to divert 9 bus services on
              North-East Line".)

              In their article "When 29 more for train = 15 more min of snooze", Straits
              Times put forward the case that convenience from reduced travel times more
              then justifies and compensates users for the increased fares.

              First of all this is a relative value statement as dollar value per hour
              differs from person to person. Secondly this misses the crux of the issue

              Lets clear the air on the rate hikes before proceeding further. These are
              essentially OPERATIONAL COSTS incurred in daily operations of the facility.
              They are not part of the original project delays and construction costs.

              According to the Business Times (SBS to incur loss on NE Line despite 13%
              higher fares), the costs overruns (in terms of operational costs)are of
              such a staggering magnitude that losses will be incurred even with the rate
              hikes. This in turn raises several questions:

              a) Who did the maths on this? What happened to project senstivities and
              base case scenarios? Did anyone conduct a sanity check?


              b) What is the operational efficiency (in terms of dollar costs) of State Owned
              Enterprises and GLCs? Are these shrouded in secrecy and impossible to estimate
              during the initial stages of planning?

              But these are questions which will never be answered within the layers of
              bureucracy of Singapore Inc.

              Singapore Press Holdings can argue till the cows come home, but the following is
              undeniable fact:
              Cost-Overruns and Project Delays are twin evils that indicate poor project
              planning, implementation, management and budgeting. These same areas are the
              supposed forte of Singapore Inc.

              The delays and costs-overruns may be justified in implementation of new, ground
              -breaking projects. This is not the case for MRT lines (even one that runs
              underground) as Singapore Inc (whether in the form of SMRT, SBS, LRT etc, all
              part of the same government bureaucracy) has a wealth of prior experience in
              this area.

              We seem to have inherited the worst of both worlds, the cut throat pricing of
              the private sector, without its accompanying private sector efficiency and

              This is not the first time bureaucratic mismanagement and blunders have resulted
              in inconvenience and added costs to Singaporeans.

              In the short space of several months, there have been a spate of blunders and
              foul-ups by various State Owned Entities and GLCs. See for example:

              a)Canned bus-time project: LTA may face $4m claims by Karamjit Kaur (STI);
              SINGAPORE'S main bus operators have spent an estimated $4 million extra to fix
              problems connected with the $40 million bus information system called "traffic.
              smart" that was aborted recently.

              b)LRT's runaway losses - up to $3m a year (by Alexis Hooi STI)
              THE operator of the Bukit Panjang Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line has been
              losing about $2 million to $3 million a year even with cost-saving measures in
              place, and it could go further into the red.

              c)15,000 homes hit snag getting wired up (by Denesh Divyanathan and Bryan Lee
              STI) AN ACRIMONIOUS dispute between SingTel and StarHub Cable Vision (SCV) means
              that up to 15,000 homes face problems getting wired up for cable television and
              cable broadband Internet access.

              Back to latest government blunder. Official sources indicated that security and
              safety tests were the reasons for the 9 month delay. Still, it is difficult to
              visualize how testing could have persisted for well over 9 months. How much
              "testing" is enough?

              And to top it off, the concluding statement of SBS Transit chief operating
              officer for rail Simon Lane; "It'd be foolhardy for anyone to give an indication
              that nothing will go wrong."

              So what then was achieved by all the tests? Nothing? Are we not back to square

              The latest incident brings to light again the disturbing fact that GLCs and
              other government runned/managed organisations operate purely within a vacuum.
              Unlike the private sector where bad business decisions are followed by swift
              repercussions, there is no follow-up and accountability for the series of
              blunders and management errors in GLCs.

              There has been much fanfare regarding management of GLCs and various state
              entities which fulfill public functions, as private sector entities. And the
              move had been taken to benchmark civil service salaries against private sector
              remunerations. Would it not have been prudent to impose wage increases AFTER
              the respective GLCs have proven their worth (after all remunerations and rewards
              in the private sector are paid out AFTER the respective companies have achieved
              deadlines and objectives, and not BEFORE).

              In a playing field bereft of competitors, and funded by deep pockets of the
              state treasuary and public coffers, project delays and cost overruns are
              luxuries that can be well afforded by GLCs and their Management in their
              "secluded shrines" (to coin the phrase used in the complaint letter).

              Time and again, the final recipient of mis-managed government projects is none
              other then the tax-payer who also in all probability financed the project in
              the first place out of tax dollars. So the average Singaporean is dealt a
              double (or in this case triple) whammy as they also have to bare the brunt of
              rate hikes.

              Have your say and send your comments to Sg Review.

              To subscribe, simply send an e-mail to: Sg_Review-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

              Or you can Send your articles to the editor: Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com


              SMRT not like other private-sector firms.
              265 words
              3 October 2002
              Straits Times
              (c) 2002 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

              I REFER to the article, '$1m - that's how much a CEO in S'pore earns
              a year' (ST, Oct 2).

              Despite its attempts to detach itself from its government heritage
              via a public listing on the Singapore Exchange, Singapore MRT
              remains, for the most part, a government-owned and government-run

              Temasek Holdings is SMRT's top shareholder and retains a 62.29-per-
              cent stake in it.

              That aside, SMRT's management style is revealed in its management of
              the North East Line.

              Serangoon Station appears to have been completed since June. But, to
              this day, it remains idle.

              Perhaps public safety is foremost in the minds of the project
              managers, and stringent tests have to be conducted to mitigate risks.

              One can only speculate.

              It is now October and the station remains an unused asset that is a
              balance-sheet liability.

              This casual bureaucratic management style is a luxury that can be ill-
              afforded by the fast-paced private sector.

              In SMRT's secluded shrine, it has nocompetitors and no immediate
              deadlines to meet.

              Project-completion delays and cost overruns are distant,
              inconsequential issues as the only inconvenience and costs are to end-
              users and those who have to put up with traffic jams and congestion
              untilthe line has been completed.

              It is not fair to categorise SMRT as a normal private-sector
              corporation, and there is no basis for comparing the remuneration
              received by its directors with the salaries received by directors at
              bona fide private-sector companies.


              From: Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Wed Mar 12, 2003 9:48 pm
              Subject: STI News: LRT's runaway losses - up to $3m a year & LTA may face $4m

              Comments from sender:
              Latest debacle at LRT is just one of the many cases which cast increasing
              doubts about the viability of State on Entities, and the transprency and
              accountability issues surrounding management of public funds.

              See also recent foul-ups by LTA per below;

              CASE 1

              Canned bus-time project: LTA may face $4m claims
              by Karamjit Kaur

              SINGAPORE'S main bus operators have spent an estimated $4 million extra to fix
              problems connected with the $40 million bus information system called
              traffic.smart that was aborted recently.

              These were additional costs incurred to fix problems for a system that SBS
              Transit and Trans-Island Bus Services (Tibs) expected to be foolproof, The
              Straits Times understands.

              Now, the bus operators, both public-listed companies, are said to be planning
              to claim that money back from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), which
              cancelled the project last week.

              SBS and Tibs would neither confirm nor deny this when contacted.

              They would say only that they were discussing the implications of the
              project's cancellation with the LTA.

              The LTA was equally tight-lipped. It would say only that it was in discussions
              with the bus operators as well as Stratech Systems.

              Stratech is the IT systems and technology developer that had won the contract
              to design and develop the $40.3 million radio communication system according to
              the LTA's requirements and specifications.

              Work started in October 2000.

              The LTA was to bear the initial capital costs for traffic.smart, while SBS and
              Tibs would split the maintenance bill between them.

              That bill, apparently, would have topped $4 million a year.

              SBS and Tibs would also develop their own satellite systems to track their
              fleets, which would later be integrated with the radio communication system.

              Then it all began falling apart.

              SBS and Tibs had designed their systems to track buses on the road every 25

              But traffic.smart required tracking to be done every 5 secs.

              So SBS and Tibs had to modify their systems.

              A software program that was supposed to transmit data on bus locations to
              control centres at the LTA, SBS and Tibs also caused problems.

              The data was supposed to be processed and disseminated practically the instant
              it arrived. But there was a time lag.

              That meant the bus companies had to modify their systems again.

              Neither would put on record how much they spent to do so, but SBS is believed
              to have spent more than $2 million, and Tibs, more than $1 million.


              CASE 2

              LRT's runaway losses - up to $3m a year
              by Alexis Hooi

              THE operator of the Bukit Panjang Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line has been
              losing about $2 million to $3 million a year even with cost-saving measures in
              place, and it could go further into the red.

              Singapore MRT (SMRT) president and chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa said
              yesterday that the most senior SMRT staff had been deployed to help the
              problem-stricken Singapore LRT (SLRT) work its way out of trouble.

              Speaking at an awards presentation at its North Bridge Road headquarters, the
              48-year-old SMRT chief, who took over last December, said: 'We've thrown in so
              much staff, money, anything you can think of, to make it work.'

              She said running the loss-making SLRT has been a public service more than
              anything else.

              'As an organisation, we've tried our very best to make the system work for the
              people. We've spared no expense, to the extent that we are losing millions of
              dollars every year.

              'If we don't contain the costs, next year it could be $5 million and the year
              after that could be $10 million. I mean, it's ridiculous.'

              In January, the SLRT system, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SMRT, was given six
              months to set its house in order by Land Transport Authority (LTA) chief Han
              Eng Juan, after a breakdown in October halted train services for five days.

              Since it started operating in November 1999, the 14-station line which links
              Bukit Panjang New Town to the MRT system at Choa Chu Kang, has broken down
              about 50 times.

              While the initial problems had more to do with the train system's design,
              later disruptions were more maintenance-related, including poor supervision,
              LTA had said.

              Yesterday, Madam Saw acknowledged: 'The SLRT has not been a very good example
              of performance. I didn't build the system, but it's there and we have to
              rectify it.'

              And the three-year-old Bukit Panjang system continued its run of breakdowns on
              Monday afternoon when services had to be suspended twice because of a power
              failure, and a third time because of a train's brake problems.

              Aside from its subsidiary's woes, Madam Saw said SMRT was right on track,
              despite last week's freak accident when a car smashed through a fence along
              Lentor Avenue and landed on the tracks in the path of an oncoming train.

              A comprehensive review of the entire MRT system to improve safety is in place
              and a decision to build stronger barricades to protect train tracks will be
              made in about three weeks' time by the LTA.

              Madam Saw is also going ahead with her plans to make SMRT a
              'customer-conscious organisation'.

              The staff of 11 MRT stations were recognised for their good work at
              yesterday's awards presentation. They were chosen partly from the results of a
              public survey of 20,000 passengers in December last year.

              The survey looked into customer satisfaction, equipment and facilities,
              housekeeping standards and the number of commendations or complaints received.
              Yishun MRT station clinched the best station award for last year.

              Madam Saw said: 'While there are many areas of improvement, our target is one
              million happy customers a day.'
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.