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News Reports

Just three things…

Plenty of interesting stuff today. I’ll just do it from a numbers point of view on just three bits


That’s the maximum fine Singapore wants to levy on firms who burn forests in Indonesia and the wind blew the smoke over… That’s quite radical given that we’ve had so much talk about how difficult it is to put a legal onus on people to do right outside national boundaries. Lots of problems of enforcement, for example. Rather than discuss if the penalty is too low, which appears to be what people are saying, shouldn’t we be talking about whether it can even be enforced?

The trouble with those plantation firms is that they all deny burning anything and have a zero-tolerance burning policy. It’s those down the line, so they say, sub-contractors and individual farmers and such. And the Indons aren’t quite sharing enough info on who is burning where. How to even know who to take to court in such circumstances?

Also interesting is how the errant “burners’’ will be nabbed. Those managing the companies have got to step into Singapore. If I were a plantation owner, I’d just stay away. Or maybe we’ll just go after the Singaporeans sitting on the boards of these companies first.  

Anyway, it’s up for public consultation. Wonder what the big plantation firms will say…

40 minutes

Those who were at the COI hearing yesterday (and there were not many beyond journalists) were treated to a video clip on what happened in Little India on the night of the riot. Seems like the bus driver had too much on his plate that night to even catch sight of the Indian worker who tried to keep pace with the bus and died under it. Plenty of specifics were given out, such as the speed at which the bus was crawling and how long the man chased after it before he seemed to have lost his footing. The driver isn’t being charged with anything and it would appear that the video is testimony of how he couldn’t have done anything to prevent the sorry accident from happening. ST reported earlier that he was relieved, for which it was whacked by the COI chairman for contempt of court.

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The COI is really laying down the law here, castigating those for trying to “influence’’ the proceedings by interviewing witnesses, for example. The chairman, an ex-judge, also made it clear that the panel wasn’t comprised by idiots to be led by the nose simply because someone from the Attorney-General’s Chambers is leading evidence, something which civil society activist Vincent Wijeysingha had criticised in a letter in TODAY.

$1.12 million

The Workers Party town council said it was owed this much by the previous town council. That was given by the HDB and Citizens’ Consultative Committee for Community Improvement Projects. The MND said there was nothing owed according to its own records. And contrary to WP’s earlier statement that it didn’t get any info from the parties, MND said it furnish the info twice.

That’s just one thing that cropped up in the G’s decision to ask the Auditor-General to go over the town council’s books, which its independent auditors had disclaimed an opinion on. Note that a “disclaimer” is not as bad as an “adverse’’ report, but it was good enough for the G to intervene because of the involvement of public money. Some $22 million can’t be matched but the WP is on record as saying that nothing improper or illegal happened, like the money going into the wrong hands or gone missing. WP’s Low Thia Kiang did say, however, that there might be “technical issues’’ in terms of complying with auditing requirements.

Looks like the G is pretty focused on nailing one big point: the role of party supporters as the TC managing agents and how much of a cut they get from handling TC projects.

I guess some will look at it as G persecution of the opposition ahead of the next election. But what do the Aljunied-Hougang residents think? Are they even following this? Because at the end of the day, whatever the outcome of the audit, it’s their opinion that counts unless criminal wrong-doing is exposed. Or are there other “penalties’’ that the Auditor-General can impose?


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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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