The current saga focused on the relationship between Aim (Action Information Management) and PAP.
However, we need to look deeper to see how the relationship is intertwined further.
According to The Straits Times (Tuesday, December 25, 2012):
1) The computerised management system of PAP’s town councils (TCs) “was developed by National Computer Services (NCS).
2) The PAP TCs apparently decided not to extend NCS’s contract and called an open tender.
3) Aim was apparently the only company which bidded, and won. “Five companies took the tender document” but we have no evidence or proof of who they are.
4) “After getting the deal, Aim engaged NCS to maintain and further develop the system.”
Here are the key questions:
1) Why did the PAP TCs initially felt that NCS wasn’t good enough and thus decided not to engage their services?
2) Why did Aim engage NCS? If the PAP TCs had decided not to extend NCS’s contract, then it would mean NCS isn’t capable enough? Why didn’t the PAP TCs oppose Aim for engaging NCS?
3) NCS is a company by itself. Is it so incapable that it had to be managed by another company – Aim? Or were the PAP TCs so incapable that they couldn’t manage NCS by themselves and had to bring in Aim to manage NCS?
4) What are the key reasons the PAP TCs decided not to engage NCS?
5) What are the key reasons for awarding the job to Aim and why did the PAP TCs not recall the tender (an obvious question, of course)?
6) Why did Aim decide to engage NCS again if the PAP TCs had decided not to engage their services?
7) Did Aim not have the required expertise to do the job and they thus had to engage NCS? If so, why did the PAP TCs award the job to a company which has no relevant expertise?
8) What is Aim’s role then? To manage a system for the PAP TCs? But this wasn’t what the PAP TCs had called a tender for initially. They had called a tender to either “leverage on the existing system or develop a new one.” Aim had to engage NCS to do it. They did not have the relevant skills apparently. So why did the PAP TCs not simply extend the contract with NCS to do it?
9) The PAP TCs wanted to give the job to Aim even though they did not have the relevant expertise and skill sets. And they closed a blind eye to Aim engaging NCS even though the PAP TCs had not wanted to extend the contract to NCS. Why was Aim given a job which they did not have the capability to manage?
It is quite obvious that on all levels, that the PAP TCs, NCS and Aim were all incapable and have inadequate skills for their jobs:
1) The PAP TCs are not capable of good decision making and awarded a job to a sole bidder, without checking on their relevant expertise and skill sets.
2) When Aim engaged NCS, the PAP TCs did not disapprove of this arrangement even though they did not want to extend NCS’s contract. The PAP TCs are incapable of enforcing their decisions.
3) NCS is a company on their own. The PAP TCs engaged Aim to manage NCS. Does this mean NCS is an incapable company? NCS had many contracts internationally. But yet, they are incapable and had to be managed by Aim.
4) The PAP TCs could not manage NCS on their own. They had to engage Aim to manage NCS. Does this mean the PAP TCs do not have adequate management skills?
But this is the real story:
1) In 1981, “the Singapore Government … established the National Computer Board (NCB), now the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). National Computer Systems Pte Ltd (NCS) was born then as the IT arm and wholly-owned subsidiary of NCB.”
5) Aim’s three directors are “former PAP MPs”. You can read more at The Real Singapore.
In this whole story, all the companies involved either belong to the Singapore Government or are government-linked. NCS is created by the government and then privatized and owned by Singtel, which was also created by the government and then privatized but now owned by Temasek, which is own by the government. Aim is a company owned by 3 ex-PAP MPs, who worked for the government.
PAP has been in power in the government since 1965 for 47 years.