June 24, 2017

Authors Posts by Bertha Henson

Bertha Henson

Bertha Henson
Bertha was formerly Associate Editor of The Straits Times and worked as a journalist in Singapore Press Holdings for 26 years.

Photo By Shawn Danker. Shared Copyright.
A lego replica of Singapore's Fullerton area in Legoland Malaysia.

by Bertha Henson

So the Malaysian opposition politicians went to the Singapore High Commission to remonstrate against the G’s supposedly harsh treatment of its nationals who mounted silent protests at Merlion Park on 8 and 11 May.

It’s to be expected. The protesters were clearly on the side of the opposition and it wouldn’t look good if some sort of display was not made on their behalf.

What’s interesting though was how the Malaysian politicians pitched their case. Said PKR’s Chua Jui Meng: “We recognise the need for Malaysians in Singapore to respect the law of Singapore. However, we call on the Singapore authorities to exercise proportionality and fairness in applying the law.”

“It is heavy handed to arrest them and cancel or review their work and visit passes simply for their quest for democracy, which is a universal struggle.”

Now what is the proportionality and fairness yardstick is he using here? Is it between Singapore and Malaysia laws?

According to ST, Mr Chua goes on to note that Malaysians comprise the largest foreign workforce in Singapore and contribute significantly to the country’s economic development. “The harshness of the Singapore authorities’ action completely runs counter to this spirit of cooperation.”

Singapore has revoked the work pass of one protester, as well as the social visit passes of two others. The remaining 18 will have their work passes reviewed, the Singapore police said. Apparently, one of them is serving out a scholarship bond and will have to pay out $100,000 to her employer if she can no longer work here.

It’s a bit galling to always hear Malaysians talk about Singapore’s heavy handedness or arrogance in the same breath that they invoke a spirit of co-operation and adherence to domestic laws. And how Malaysians contribute to the economy in such large numbers – and Singapore is therefore indebted to them? What’s surprising is that the phrase “not being sensitive” hasn’t been uttered.

Never mind that. Probably just political posturing. But it would actually have made better sense if the politicians talked about how police here said that their investigations on the activities of former Johor menteri besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman when he visited Singapore during the Malaysian GE did not amount to campaigning, as alleged in a police report. Some had wondered if this was indeed so or if the G here was merely giving Malaysia some face.

Frankly, it would not skin off Singapore’s nose to let the Malaysian protesters here off with a slap on the wrist. After all, they did not disturb public order and the “review” of their passes would probably have convinced them enough of Singapore’s tough stance on such activities. We should give these ordinary Malaysians some face too. After all, the Malaysian politicians will probably have their hands full now with their own G’s arrests of activists and protesters…

by Bertha Henson

No one wants to think about getting old or rather, becoming demented. When your faculties aren’t what they used to be, when you start drooling and even lose control of bodily functions. When your relatives pin a card with a phone number on you, in case you go missing. When little by little, you become a weight on young ones, even if they are more than filial in their responsibilities to you. (Perhaps that’s why people don’t want old folks’ facilities in their backyard. It’s a reminder of what they might become.)

That’s why a 10-year study on dementia and elderly depression is to be welcomed. According to an ST report (“New 10-year study on elderly” ST 24/05/2013), about 28,000 people here have dementia, a brain disorder which affects the memory, intellect and personality. The number will go up to 80,000 by 2030. There are however two times the number of elderly suffering from depression than dementia here. Just how was the projection made anyway? Based on a population of 6.9million?

What’s worse is Singapore’s number of elderly suicides. In 2007, the suicide rate for those aged 65 and above was 27.6 for every 100,000. In the United States, it’s about 14. What’s the link between depression and dementia? Are they perfectly okay senior citizens who become so depressed that they take their own life? Or are they mainly those who are suffering from dementia?

Now that was in 2007, about six years ago. Perhaps the study will also reveal if we have got the number going down – or is it going up? What is clear is that we are no longer a young country. And those who are young had better start making provisions for themselves, and look a little less askance at other people – VWOs and state agencies – who try to give a good life to those who are now old.

Photo By Shawn Danker
Go to Changi Prison.

by Bertha Henson

So a Singaporean odd job worker and a Vietnamese woman are now in the slammer – for getting married. Each will be behind bars for six months, instead of between four and six weeks, which had been provided for under old laws on “sham marriages’’.

Seems the price of turning up at the Registry of Marriages and saying “I do’’ is worth $5,000. There’s a middle man (or in this case, a Vietnamese woman) but nothing was said in the ST report today about what sort of cut she took or whether she’s been caught as well. Nothing was said about how the couple was caught either, which is just as well to keep aspiring “couplings’’ in the dark. One give-away though was that the Singaporean and the Vietnamese woman lived apart – she in budget hotels and he, in his Punggol flat.

Given tougher laws, the price is probably going to go up. The maximum jail term is 10 years with the limit for fines set at $10,000. It is now a specific offence. It used to be that such couples could be charged only with providing false information to the authorities – an offence that carried a jail term of up to a year, a fine of up to $4,000, or both. (Sheesh… It’s worth paying the fine if the money given was $5,000! And jail term is usually just four to six weeks!)

Okay, let’s face it, it isn’t the Singaporean who is in demand but Singapore as a place to live and make money. Getting married to a Singaporean just makes it easier for the foreigner to stay on. The State cited four such prosecutions in 2011, but 105 such cases last year. From January to March this year, there had been 49 prosecutions under the old laws. That’s a lot.

Perhaps, from now, it’s not going to be worth a Singaporean’s while to “abuse his citizenship privileges’’, as the State prosecutor described the crime.

Marriage is risky business.

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Photo by Shawn Danker
The facade of the State Courts

by Bertha Henson

A blockbuster set in the tropical isle of Stingapore, a hub of intrigue and centre of iniquity. Sean Rodd, a young American expatriate seeking adventure finds himself immersed in a different culture when he lands a job in a prestigious technological institute there. But just a year into his job, he finds that things are not what he thought it would be. His work had involved him dealing with shady Chinese networks. Aided by his supportive girlfriend whom he met at a party, he battles depression and homesickness before finally deciding to uproot for home. Instead, his body was found hanging in his Chinatown apartment. Was it suicide as the Stingapore police claimed? Or murder as his distraught family believed? Who was the last person to see him alive?

Starring: Rayne Sodd as Sean Rodd

Handsome and strapping,the electrical engineer took up a job in the Institute of Mickey Engineering in Stingapore in 2010.  His work  included a project with Heywah Technology, a Chinese network , involving a device powered by sodium chloride, which could also have military implications. Was he being snared into some form of cyber espionage? Was he betraying his country? He spirals into a depression, decides to quit his job and head for home sweet home. On June 22, 2012, he was found hanging from his bathroom door in his Chinatown apartment.

Dick and Sally Maud as Nick and Nellie Rodd, Sean’s parents

Unable to believe that their son took his own life, they accuse the Stingapore police of botching the investigation and allege a cover-up. They maintain that their son had been set upon by unknown assailants and his death made to look like suicide. Sympathetic American senators had a showdown with Stingapore’s diplomats. Finally persuaded to join a court inquiry in the city-state, the family, shadowed by FBI agents, enters the lion’s den… And walked out.

The actors, a married Montana couple in real life, said they decided to take on the roles as they had never been to Stingapore and wanted to visit Sentosa.

Tailor Connor as Con Bonner, intrepid investigative reporter

The man who came across the Rodds and their story – and hero of investigative journalism. He faces down the Stingapore justice system, refusing to testify in the inquiry, citing his commitments to a movie deal.

Wai Yu Say as Tay Ho Say, Stingapore’s Chief Counsel

Charged with defending the honour of Stingapore, he lines up witnesses to face Justice Bao, the man who has to come to a verdict on the case. He produces suicide notes written by Rodd and quizzes police on how they handle crime scenes. He threatens to arrest Rodd’s semi-blind doctor who failed twice to come to court and warns Mickey Engineering against trying to influence the case, producing a secretly-taped recording. A performance hailed by many.

See Song Boh, as Dr Wee Wat De, Stingapore’s chief coroner

The man who conducted the autopsy, he showed off his vast experience of strangulation cases to show that Rodd had hanged himself, not garrotted. He mesmerises the court with his details on what sort bruises, marks, discolourations would show up in different causes of death. The actor said he has watched several episodes of CSI to prepare himself for the role.

Eddie Braddlester as American expert Eric Addledstern

Forced to recant his earlier finding that Rodd was forcibly strangled, he bravely maintains murder-by-assassins theory. The trained vet, testifying via video-link from the safety of his home, cited Rodd’s physique which would require him to be over-powered by several people. Or tasered. Or arm-locked. He was dead before he was hanged on the door-frame.  The 76-year-old actor said it was a difficult role to play as he had to contradict four other expert witnesses in the movie.

PLUS: A cast of thousands. Including Stingapore starlet Shirlee Silvia as Rodd’s girlfriend, Shirley Shimmering. Film location: Washington DC, Montana in the USA, and Stingapore.

DISCLAIMER: The characters are fictional. Any similarity is purely coincidental.

Our thanks to the Stingapore courts for the use of their premises.

No animals were injured in this movie.

WATCH OUT FOR THE SEQUEL: Stingapore Sting – After The Walkout

by Bertha Henson

IT is all about the workplace today in the news, although the piece which will garner the most attention isn’t something that anyone could have planned for. It concerns the video that went viral showing an employer slapping around an intern. Now more has emerged on what happened, due mainly to some intrepid reporting by Chinese afternoon daily, Shin Min. It actually carried a photograph of the intern’s parents confronting his abuser.

Now all the different newspapers in MSM had bits and pieces of the story, some deciding to name (and shame?) and others staying away from too much detail. So, here’s the lowdown based on a reading of MSM. (Note that it includes both confirmed facts and material which MSM couldn’t nail down.)

The victim is a 29 year old university undergraduate. He works long hours, from 9am to 11pm, according to his parents, who added that his pay is about $500 to $600 a month as an intern. He is their only son.

The workplace is Encore eServices with its office at Jurong East. The company was registered in April last year, and reportedly designs management software for private clinics. The abuser is only identified as a supervisor named Alan.

The person who uploaded the video is another intern, a 23 year old from Singapore Institute of Management, who started work at the company two days before the slapping incident. SIM terminated his internship with the company to “protect his interest’’.

We all know that the slapping took place, the question is why. And why did the intern meekly “turn the cheek’’, so to speak.

None of the papers managed to ferret out a reason. The videographer was quoted saying that Alan thought the intern had “an inferiority complex” and wanted to “nurture’’ him out of it. Shin Min reported the intern’s mother saying that Alan admitted to hitting the intern in a “rash moment of anger”. Sheesh. Unbelievable!

The intern didn’t want to report the incident to the police (he wouldn’t even admit that he was the victim to his parents initially) because he was concerned about his supervisor’s family and didn’t want the matter blown up. And he wouldn’t give a reason for the slapping either.

Alan wasn’t quoted at all, but he was reported to have apologised profusely to the intern’s parents who immediately got their son to resign.

Now, isn’t this fine drama?

A police report has been lodged. Which is a pity because it means that people can use the excuse of “we can’t comment as the matter is being investigated by police’’! (Unless Alan wants to go public and clear his name since his face is everywhere online.)

In any case, all manner of HR practitioners are giving their two cents worth on the incident, like how to stop office bullying etc. Of course, one quick way is to quit the job and go to the police. Then again, you’ll have to reckon with whether you can find employment elsewhere or, if you are an intern, whether you really, really need a good report to help your grades.

From workplace bullying to workplace deaths
The G probably never reckoned that a case of workplace abuse would crop up at the same time it is campaigning for workplace safety! Last year, 56 people died on the job, a rate of 2.1 for every 100,000 workers. The rate has been coming down, but it’s still high compared to that in the United Kingdom (0.6) and Germany (0.7), according to PM Lee Hsien Loong . (Or maybe the comparison isn’t quite fair since it is likely that construction and shipping work is probably more intensive and extensive over here than over there.)

Still, 56 lives lost are 56 lives too many. PM Lee wants the rate brought down to 1.8 – before the target date of 2018. Going to be tough given that construction work isn’t about to scale down with Singapore’s plans to house more people and extend the infrastructure.

From dying on the job, to not getting a job
More interesting is the other workplace issue – discrimination in the workplace. So far, attention is on bosses who favour foreigners over Singaporeans. That forms half of the 303 complaints handled by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP). MOM Minister Tan Chuan Jin appears to have moved from an outright rejection of anti-discriminatory laws to a more conciliatory “not ruling it out’’, but it’s clear that he prefers moral suasion than wielding the stick.

The Sunday Times had a useful report on workplace discrimination which also listed how developed countries protect workers. Not all countries have labour laws that include anti-discrimination of all sorts – against sexual orientation, marital status and sexual harassment, for example. Some choose to give more power to government agencies such as Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission. It investigates cases, mediate disputes and helps complainants go to court if mediation fails. Others combat it through laws aimed at promoting human rights and equality, something which is sought by some NGOs here.

So what about TAFEP? So far, it seems to be an advisory panel only, talking to employers if the panel has a complaint to resolve matters. Mr Tan said that errant employers have had to make public apologies and “had their work pass privileges curtailed’’. Now, the second bit has a bit more bite…Perhaps, a way out would be to vest TAFEP with more powers to, well, hurt employers who keep on infringing guidelines.

That would be a compromise.

by Bertha Henson 

When there are so many ministers talking down a diploma or degree, something’s amiss (or afoot), methinks. Mr Heng Swee Keat makes it minister No. 4 to have weighed in on how a paper qualification is not the only route to success. Now… the minisers were mainly speaking to polytechnic graduates, practically telling them to get a job (there are plenty, so it has been asserted) instead of automatically heading to the universities.

What will they say if the audience were university graduates? Not to go chasing yet another paper? Post-graduate qualifications? What’s for sure, the mantra that learning is a lifelong process will be heard.

This is all so odd. When university places were opened up, one reason was to give more good poly students a shot at a degree locally instead of spending money on an overseas education. It was universally applauded. Then there was all that projection about the proportion of university graduates making up the labour force in the future. So many universities, autonomous and private, brand-name and otherwise, are sited here, nay, wooed over. And now we are saying that poly students might want to think about getting a job first?

You can’t blame anyone for wondering about the ministerial chorus.

Why do people want a degree? First, entry-level pay is differentiated for diploma and degree holders, as it should be, given the longer investment in a university education. Second, a degree is more prestigious than a diploma. Third, a degree is what our parents would prefer us to have. Fourth, a degree is needed if you want to be a “professional’’, say, lawyer, doctor or accountant.

In fact, a degree is now perceived as not good enough in the eyes of some people. Is it a “good’’ degree? From a “good’’ university? In fact, a Bachelors degree is not as good as a post-graduate degree. An MA or a Phd is better, that’s why it’s printed on business cards.

But I would be the first to say that work experience is valuable – but do employers think so too? When I left university, the difference between a general degree and an honours degree was $200 a month, a large sum in those days. Can a general degree holder surpass the pay of the new honours graduate in one year or two or three? Or will they forever be lagging behind? What about a diploma versus degree holder? Much would depend on how much effort the employee puts in. The other question would be whether this is recognised by employers or would employers be dazzled by the academic credentials of a fresh recruit that they automatically make arrangements for their career “progression’’?

I have another worry. Is the ministerial chorus being sounded because our polytechnic students are not good enough to fill university places, especially with the expansion of poly places over the years? And their aspirations will have to be dampened or there will be a political problem on our hands? To accommodate so many, university entry levels will have to be lowered to meet the higher demand. (I have always wondered about whether the Integrated Programme has siphoned off the best students at age 12, preparing them for university. Do the best of the rest head to the junior colleges or to the polys?)

It will take more than a ministerial chorus to turn people away from a degree and take their chances in the job market or set up their own business. The education route has been so ingrained in the minds of the people here. Sure, there are plenty of people who have made it good in life without a degree (and the media is celebrating them like crazy these days). But how many did so because they didn’t have a choice, like too few uni places here so they only go to the cream of the crop, too expensive elsewhere or family circumstances that require them to earn a living?

Another thought: With so many foreign workers sent packing with the tightened work permit system, is this one way to make sure a labour crunch is averted? Perhaps, work opportunities and space for career progression really abound. We need workers, to replace the workers who have to go home.

by Bertha Henson

It’s a really good time to be in the media or to know something about media. You have Dr Shane Todd’s parents giving what is known as the “doorstop’’ interview, and you even have the State Counsellor standing on the steps of the courthouse to give a few words, like calling on the Financial Times journalist who first broke the story of the mystery (or non-mystery) of Shane Todd’s death to come forward as a witness. Now…it’s not often that you see something like that. The Attorney-General’s Chamber’s set of lawyers prefer to escape the limelight, not go under the spotlight.

You also have the super-fast responses by both the People’s Action Party and the Workers’ Party over town council management, aided by social media. The battle appears to be conducted online, surfacing only much later in MSM.

Then you have budding television producers from City Harvest uploading videos of the trial of their church leaders on YouTube, presumably to counter what bias they think the mainstream media would have.

And finally, you have a vigilante of sorts, who posted a video online of what looked to be bullying in the office – a man slapping someone said to be an intern not once, but several times. The man was caught full face-on. The video’s been removed but not before it’s been shared on other platforms. Who is the boor? We await the results.

It is always good if people are open to the media. It means that they are willing to be transparent and subject themselves to some questioning. Of course, there is the flip side, people who use the media to advance their own interest. In such cases, we have to trust the professionalism of the media to sort through the agendas and come up with that kernel of truth or at least a compilation of facts. Even if they do not or cannot, at least the viewing or reading public will be able to see different viewpoints and make their own judgments.

Then there is of course the media peopled by amateurs fired by emotion. Those who imagine themselves to be “citizen journalists’’ are really no more than “eye-witnesses”. A facility with camera-work or some lines of text do not make anyone a professional journalist. It would be interesting to compare the work of the City Harvest people and the MSM.

That there are more people venturing forth to give “eye-witness” accounts coupled with videos and photographs is laudable. The problem though is that eye-witness accounts are actually incomplete. The video of a Mercedez Benz driver who was in a crazy zig-zag crash a couple of weeks earlier had people castigating him online. Then it turned out that he was having a heart attack at the wheel. That’s why you need professional journalists and for the proper authorities to step in to give the full account.

What of the office bully? Violence in the workplace cannot be condoned but it would be good to hear his side of the story as well on why he raised his hand. News of the video has made it into MSM, but with no other new detail than what can already be seen and read online. No names, no facts. Professional journalists owe it to their readers to find out more.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the media, old and new. It’s as confusing as it is exciting.

by Bertha Henson

Yet another phase has entered Singapore’s political lexicon: anti-wealth. It’s not about living an ascetic life and forswearing worldly possessions. It’s about looking at the rich and saying that there must some way to make them less rich and more like the rest of us. So measures are put in place to penalise the wealthy, who might think they should go elsewhere if they are not welcomed here.

It’s a bit like the phrase that was very much in vogue in the past – “politics of envy’’. You know, when you see the wealthy decked out ostentatiously and driving fast cars – and you go all green and want to punch them. Except “politics of envy’’ is emotional and might even aspire people to work hard to achieve the good – and high – life. “Anti-wealth’’ really means having a policy position that penalises the rich.

Those poor things!

First, they were hit with more progressive property taxes. So high-end homes and investment properties got taxed more. “This is fair. The property tax is a wealth tax and is applied irrespective of whether lived in, vacant or rented out. Those who live in the most expensive homes should pay more property taxes than others,” said DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam earlier this year.

Then, those with luxury cars have to pay heftier Additional Registration Fees. A wealth tax too?

Now, they are facing the prospect of paying more if they buy a luxury car or if they want to buy a second car. These are some tweaks recommended to the COE system to make it “fair and equitable’’, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.

There wasn’t much objection to their moves on luxury homes and cars. The rich kept silent. Singapore is still a good place to make money. Safe and secure.

This time, however, even the not so rich might weigh in given that supposed luxury cars below 1,600cc are actually quite within their reach. Beemers, Audis and the like now take up one-third of such Cat A cars. Seven per cent of drivers have second cars. A luxury car is more within grasp than a high-end Good Class Bungalow to most people.

The proposed tweaks might not be viewed as “anti-wealth’’ but “anti-aspirational’’.

by Bertha Henson

The People’s Action Party is responding at lightning speed and the Workers’ Party is hammering right back. All in the space of hours yesterday.

Who says politics in Singapore is dull?

Looks like the AIM saga is not about to die, despite a clean report card given by the National Development Ministry to the PAP over hiring the PAP-owned company to manage the IT stuff of its town councils. The newest twist is that the WP might be the pot calling the kettle black. Except which is blacker? Go read “Name the pot; name the kettle” for a quick summary of what has been taking place between the two parties.

The man leading the PAP strike is MP Teo Ho Pin, a pretty good move since really, MND Minister Khaw Boon Wan and his ministry should stay out of the fray. You have got to wonder which hat Mr Khaw is wearing if he starts thundering over what is really party political business when he is also the PAP chairman.

That hasn’t been lost on WP’s Sylvia Lim, who is going hammer and tongs as well. She is, in fact maintaining that AIM and the WP’s supposed “proxy’’ managing agent FM Solutions and Services aren’t pot and kettle but more chalk and cheese.

AIM is PAP-owned, a $2 company, which held a contract to an “critical town council asset’’. FMSS is not owned by the party, has $500,000 paid up capital and does not own any town council asset. The PAP is simply trying to distract attention from AIM.

Ms Lim’s latest response is to dare the PAP to file a report with the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau if it thinks that something shady is going on. She has a point. The questions being asked repeatedly by the PAP especially with regard to supposedly missing $1m, do tend to imply that something is amiss.

What’s that $1m about again?

Round 1: The PAP calculates that the total value of a three-year contract awarded to a husband-and-wife team who are WP partisans would be $15.8 million. But Ms Lim declared that it was $16.8 million to the HDB last year. So, $1m shortfall.

Round 2: Ms Lim denied any contradiction. The total contract provided for “staggered pricing, with increases in costs factored in each year”.

Round 3: Be that as it may, it means that WP’s town councils will be raising its managing fees for residents and shopowners, making it 70 per cent more expensive than a similar sized PAP town council in 2014, said Mr Teo.

Who says politics isn’t exciting?

So what’s next? The public probably has to weather a few more lightning bolts and hammer strikes because it seems neither side is willing to give way. Let’s hope that with the parties making so much noise, they remember that residents want their corridors and void decks cleaned and their rubbish cleared.

by Bertha Henson

After the Workers’ Party took aim at AIM, seems it has got the gun trained back on itself with an exchange that shows no sign of ending. It’s about how the WP town councils manage their money, whether they are overcharging residents and favouring or over-favouring close associates, party members or partisans.

You know the phrases, People in glass houses shouldn’t throw. The pot calling the kettle. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the…

Here’s a summary for those too tired to get through the numbers that both sides are throwing at each other. The numbers are of course in dollars and cents:

Now, the managing agents of WP-run Aljunied-Hougang TC – two of them – just happen to be people who are noted WP supporters, who formed a company called FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) just after WP won Aljunied. According to the PAP, the managing agents are also employees of the town council serving as general manager and secretary.

So what does this mean? The two people are getting money both ways? Through FMSS and as town council workers? Is that kosher? Couldn’t the couple just do the job without having the for-profit company?

Okay, maybe, just maybe, (since no politician is arguing about the “political nature’’ of town councils) it might well be fine to hire your friends and supporters. After all, they should be rewarded for their work and you can probably trust them to advance the interest of the party while they go about serving residents. The Town Council Act doesn’t ban this and the PAP itself contracted AIM, a PAP-owned party to do some work. It can’t very well take issue with how the WP does its hiring.

But what the PAP is taking issue with is whether the venture is above board. Note it has just got a clean report card from MND over its dealings with AIM. Now also that MND Minister Khaw Boon Wan made much of whether processes are followed and whether the interests of residents are served even in a “political’’ town council in Parliament on Monday.

The PAP’s current argument is: The Aljunied-Hougang residents and shopowners are getting a rotten deal – they are paying much more in managing agent fees than their counterparts in similar sized town councils. Like 50 per cent more. (The reason the ding dong has been a trifle confusing is whether each side has the right figures. But it seems the WP has had to acknowledge that the PAP has the right figures. From MND)

The question is why so much? WP’s Sylvia Lim has been trying to put up a defence but she got her figures wrong – “obfuscation’’ is the charge. Then there is this question of whether a tender was called or not. You can see the way the accusation is moving – the WP is dispensing patronage at the expense of the residents.

More intriguing is a $1m figure that has surfaced. Seems the total value of FMSS contract with WP for three years would be $15.8 million. But Ms Lim declared that it was $16.8 million to the HDB last year. We now have the mystery of the missing million.

PAP’s town council chief Teo Ho Pin, who found himself in a tight spot over AIM earlier this year, is now taking the high ground. He said in his Facebook post: “These questions raise serious issues of financial probity and transparency. The WP MPs in AHTC owe it to the residents of Aljunied and Hougang, as well as Singaporeans in general, to give full answers to them.’’

Now…the boot is on the other…