Shanmugam and Balakrishnan Are So Sensitive They Deserve a Medal
A lot of you are talking about Tan Yeng Soon and the $50k cookery course etc. But let’s be clear, Whatever course TYS went on when on holiday in France and no matter what he paid, it was his own money that he spent. There was no conflict of interest because well, he wasn’t a senior Minister but also no state assets, no state land and no management of the reserves was involved. No secret bidding process either. There are no queries over whether the course was specially modified for his own advantage and the changes paid for by the state.
What happened to TYS is that he got rapped by his boss Teo Chee Hean for insensitivity. He wrote an article for the State Times complete with photos of him as “chef” and blatantly telling everyone about the pricetag. Goodness me! No wonder he got told off. so we must praise Shanmugam and Balakrishnan where praise is due. They have been extremely sensitive to the ordinary Singaporean struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis. Not for them a spread in a lifestyle magazine. No public record of the bidding process or the amount paid. Neither have we been treated to “before” and “after” photos in Elle Decoration or Tatler. No, they have been so sensitive that it might also be called secretive.
Our media has also been sensitive. so sensitive that it might also be called silent. In fact the only insensitve party in this whole sorry saga is me. i should be rebuked because until i raised the matter publicly no-one knew.
There is a much better parallel than TYS and it’s happening right now. in the UK in the last few days there have been calls from the Opposition benches and the media in the UK for an investigation into whether their Home Secretary, Suella Braverman broke the Ministerial Code by asking her civil servants to help her with a private matter. The private matter is she had been caught speeding. In that situation apparently you can choose to get points on your licence and a fine or attend a course. OK. But Suella was worried she might get recognised on her course and the whistleblower has said that she asked the civil service if it were possible to arrange a private course and the senior civil servant told her to go away.
Now that this is out in the public domain there are newspaper headlines like “Speed her out of the Government” More relevant to the Ridout raja saga is that so much pressure was put on the PM Rishi Sunak that he has now had to consult the Independent ethics adviser.
In fact the PM was giving a press conference at the G7 summit in Japan and really fluffed it when all the Press questions was not about the summit but about the Home Secretary and whether she had become a liability. (See video below.)
It looks increasingly likely that Suella Braverman will be forced to step down on grounds that she has broken the Ministerial code by simply asking her civl servants for advice!.
Contrast this with Singapore where there is prima facie evidence that Shanmugam especially and VIvian Balakrishnan have broken the Ministerial code. Lee Hsien Yang has posted the relevant section of the code on Facebook and I reproduce it below:
I am at a loss to understand how Shanmugam can escape the glaring and egregious conflict of interest. Clearly his supreme arrogance and belief that Singaporeans, through fear or brainwashing, will allow PAP Ministers to get away with anything, so inured have we become to the PAP argument that the highest standard of good governance and accountability is “Ownself Check Ownself”.
As the Minister who oversees SLA and appoints the CEO, of course he has special knowledge which has brought benefit to himself. At the very least SLA’s mismanagement and mispricing of these rental properties for what looks like a very long time was something that Shanmugam had a clear vested interest in. I have already shown how the divergence between rents for these black and white bungalows on huge tracts of state land and the rents for private properties enabled both Shanmugam and Balakrishnan to make a huge arbitrage profit from our reserves by renting out their already palatial private residences and moving into the Government ones. The simple fact is that both Ministers should have been barred from bidding for these properties.
We don’t have an independent ethics adviser so we must now have a Commission of Inquiry chaired by an independent person (preferably a senior judge from a Commonwealth country) and not a few tame questions from PAP and PAP-friendly WP MPs after which the matter will be deemed closed.
If the Ministers have broken the Ministerial code then they must be sacked. If they have made a pecuniary gain from the mismanagement of state property of which Shanmugam was in charge then criminal and civil penalties must apply. Astonishingly we have not heard from the Ministers involved and the Rajahs of Ridout continue in occupation of their palatial residences.
We know state media can raise questions if they are told to since the State Times was quite effective in bringing down T.T. Durai of the National Kidney Foundation who used the charity’s money for gold taps in his office and flew first class. Now the state media are quiet as lambs. Proving that they work for the PAP alone. Singaporeans have to ensure that they also get a voice, that the matter is not allowed to drop and the Ministers and the PAP Government are not let off the hook.
Surely it borders on Misfeasance due to perception or arousal of suspicion.