SINGAPORE: Minister of National Development Khaw Boon Wan felt he did not jump the gun when he decided to update the public on the purchase of the 26 foldable bikes, based on what NParks’ internal inquiry and the ministry’s audit team had ascertained.
He said over the past month, the matter has been dealt with firmly but with measured action, balancing between the resolute pursuit of justice and the need for fairness and due process.
Mr Khaw stressed that from the feedback received from Singaporeans, he shares their common objective to ensure that taxpayers’ money should be well spent.
Giving a detailed timeline of investigations on his blog on Wednesday, Mr Khaw explained that after reports on the NParks’ purchase of 26 foldable bikes appeared in June, he discussed the matter with the chief executive officer of NParks and his ministry’s permanent secretary. He had two questions – why foldable bikes and how was the supplier chosen.
On June 30, NParks reported the internal findings to the minister and after reading their report, Mr Khaw said he was satisfied that the decision on foldable bikes could be justified.
But Mr Khaw said he was not happy with the procurement outcome as NParks could have got a better deal, even though they had adhered to the prevailing government procurement rules.
Meanwhile, from July 14, some netizens began to comment on the friendship between one NParks officer and the owners of the company supplying the bikes. The internal audit team noted the observation while continuing with its investigation and interviews.
On July 20, the ministry’s audit was completed and the findings confirmed that the NParks’ reason for the purchase of foldable bikes on staff productivity grounds was valid and verified that the procurement formally observed and complied with the existing rules.
However the audit also uncovered certain discrepancies which suggest a possibility of bias.
Mr Khaw said over that weekend, he discussed the audit findings with his permanent secretary and both decided to report the matter to and share the audit findings with the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) on July 23.
Mr Khaw said the next day, a press statement was issued and the NParks officer was suspended from duty and the matter is now in the hands of the CPIB.
The minister said he is mindful of how this episode may affect the morale of officers in NParks.
He said it is important to be fair and not demoralise and tarnish the reputation of NParks as the department has many dedicated officers who continue to work hard each day to make Singapore a garden city for the well-being of all Singaporeans.
Channel News Asia