From the point view of group thinking, it is easy to explain why there is no conflict of interest or misuse of public fund.
By accepting the “MND Town Council Review Report”, the PAP government has shown the public it is a common practice at PAP town councils engaging same political thinking persons for assistance in running the TCs.
According to the Review Report, the PAP Members of Parliament are given the latitude to achieve their agenda and serve their residents’ interest:
[In the administration of the Act, latitude has always been given to MPs, across political parties, to exercise autonomy in their judgement on such matters as to how best to achieve their agenda and serve their residents’ interest6.]
The footnote 6 has the following explanation：
[The Review Team found that it was not an uncommon practice across parties for the elected MPs to tap on the reliability, expertise and support of those who share their political party affiliation (instances include party council and ordinary members, as well as party supporters or political supporters of the MP personally) and engage them as TC professional staff to deliver their programmes for the estate and achieve the MPs’ electoral promises.]
Reliability, expertise and support
Does AIM have all three qualifications?
Expertise. You can make your own judgement. Does AIM have the software expertise?
Even the common practice qualifications, AIM can only fulfil two. Perhaps, the most important qualifications are reliability and support. Sorry for the expertise, when you have the money, when you get the contract, you can engage a third party to do it.
The Review Report clearly states that it is common practice for elected MPs, across parties, to engage ‘political friendly’ persons in helping to run the town councils.
WP and SPP please explain
As the words “across parties” are used, it means the Workers’ Party and Singapore People’s Party have to explain to Singaporeans whether they are (or were) also adopting this same “common practice”. The residents have the right to know whether they are practising the same things as the PAP – the same group thinking practice.
(WP and SPP are mentioned in the report and so when the parliament sits on 13 May 2013, they can clarify their stands on this common practice)
Group thinking or cronyism
Perhaps, we should give the PAP the benefit of doubt. The common complaint of the PAP is their group thinking problems. Because of group thinking, they would like to engage their own people, in this case, “party council and ordinary members, as well as party supporters or political supporters of the MP personally”.
The PAP needs these supporters to run their towns and town councils. All those involved have the same thinking in how the towns should be run and so they can achieve the ‘electoral promises of the MPs.’
The conclusion of the Review Report is interesting:
[The current arrangement inherently bears the constant risk of politicisation of town council administration. Going forward, we propose that the Government consider a strategic review of TCs in their current form. How our public housing estates are managed is a very significant subject as it impacts the value of the homes and the experience of day-to-day life for the vast majority of Singaporeans living in our HDB estates.]
Employing and engaging the ‘group thinking’ principles in town council management, with political friendly supporters, will certainly result to “risk of politicisation of town council administration.”
We look forward to see what will be the strategic review after the government has accepted the report. Will it be another strategic ‘group thinking’ product in the making?