Singapore – Workers’ Party Chairman Sylvia Lim, speaking in a rather empty chamber of Parliament, has queried the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on its acquisition decisions.
On Monday (March 2), Ms Lim asked for elaboration on how Mindef “assesses the reasonableness of the prices quoted by vendors and ensures that it receives fair value for money on its purchases”.
Ms Lim added that at stake in these decisions is “hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. More importantly, they involve the lives and safety of our men and women in uniform and, ultimately, Singapore’s security”.
She pointed out that a key issue is that, unlike other products or services, “defence articles may not be freely market-tested due to the confidentiality of specifications or dependence on specialist contractors” and that “systems sold at a certain price point may be subject to expensive after-sales maintenance and upgrade packages with proprietary and protected information”.
Ms Lim mentioned the US F-35 programme under which Singapore is set to purchase up to 12 aircraft for an estimated US$2.75 billion (S$3.79 billion). “However, the programme has been dogged by cost overruns and questions about reliability. There were also issues regarding the leak of confidential data that required costly redesigns and retrofits from various vendors and subcontractors.”
Ms Lim ended with the following statement: “This is just one well-known example about a single programme. My question is broader. Can Mindef elaborate on how it injects rigour into its procurement decisions to ensure value for money?”
Netizens agreed with Ms Lim’s question.
Meanwhile, those watching Ms Lim ask her question also noticed the rather-empty Parliament session. “Thank you Sylvia Lim for speaking up in Parliament about spending Government money wisely,” wrote All Singapore Stuff on its Facebook page. “But more importantly, who is she speaking to? How come looks like so many empty seats again?” the caption added.
One person said that Ms Lim should have asked why she was scheduled to speak during a near-empty Parliament sitting. Others called it “disrespectful to the voters and taxpayers”.
Another person proposed that a session should not proceed if a certain number of MPs were not present, with penalties for those who did not attend.
𝗩𝗮𝗹𝘂𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗠𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆Are we spending our defence dollars prudently, maximising value and benefit for the country's defence? Sylvia Lim asked how the Government assess the reasonableness of tenders for defence acquisitions to ultimately ensure not just value for money, but also the continued safety of our men and women in uniform, and ultimately, Singapore's security. (2 March 2020)Watch to learn more.Read more here http://www.wp.sg/ministry-of-defence-committee-of-supply-2020-cuts-by-wp-mps-and-ncmps/Vid Credit: CNA
Posted by The Workers' Party on Monday, March 2, 2020