The New Paper, July 7, 2012 (source)
|Kartini Omar-Hor, General Manager (Parks)|
Should We Still Khaw on NParks?
Summarizing NParks' suspicious tender procedure and outcome uncovered by netizens
by A Singaporean in Australia, July 15, 2012 (source1, source2, source3)
This post is a continuation of my take on NParks' Brompton Bikes Purchase.
The above was the tender notice, drawn out on the 19th January 2012. That was just before Chinese New Year.
28th and 29th of January happened to be a Saturday and Sunday.
In response to fervent online forum chatter in reference to the 26 Bromptons ordered by National Parks Board: almost all local bike companies do not follow Gebiz tenders as one would not expect government agencies to want to buy high-end bicycles for group use.As the commodity indicated in the tender specs: a folding bike with 16 inch wheels is not a common commodity like tissue paper and pens, it would be fair to assume that Procurement/Purchasing would want to seek out the various players in the industry to ask them to consider bidding for their bulk purchase tenders, thus doing their due diligence.NParks is aware that Diginexx is the authorized distributor that offers the 5-year warranty on the frame and 2-year warranty on parts. If it was really intended for local bike companies to tender for this bulk purchase, NParks would have been able to find through the various bids that there are likely cheaper alternatives to the Brompton and/or be able to receive a competitive price quote from Diginexx so that NParks can buy and save public money in the process.In this case, no local bike companies was aware of this tender, and there was only one bidder.And even if NParks had really specifically wanted just the Brompton for their usage, the model in question is a M6L.A M6L retails at S$2250 per bike at Diginexx which will cover the 5-year frame warranty and 2-year warranty on parts.In comparison, buying a total of 26 M6L Bromptons at $2200 per bike is unfortunately not a fair deal for NParks especially when the bikes come from a non-authorised reseller, which do not and cannot offer the official five-year frame warranty and two-year parts warranty.
NParks DID have a brompton workshop with the authorized dealers, the proof can be found in on 4 Sep 2011 which can be seen in diginexx's photo page on facebook. I quote:
Forty-six Diginexx's Brompton riders visited Hort Park on Sunday 4 September and spent an afternoon hanging out with fellow B riders, having fun learning how to change their tubes, tyres and degrease their bike chains. The sturdy stand pump owned by Yih Yng was a saviour to many! Many thanks to Bernard Lim of the National Park Board for the kind use of the Multi-Purpose Hall, thank you very much to our helpful elves, David, Steven, YM, Tommy, Gary, Danny and Patrick, Noelle, Joyce and Fabian! Photos credits to Danny, Fabian, Noelle and Patrick! Thank you for a great afternoon of camaraderie and friendship!
There was no doubt NParks knows Brompton very well and were impressed enough by it. Let's take a look at their tender specifications:
The winning bidder
|Left to right- Managing Director Lawrence Lim Chun How (https://www.facebook.com/lawlim1010), |
Willie Ong (Willie Ong | Facebook), and Kok How Lim (Kok How Lim | Facebook)
|Lawrence Lim Chun How (right)|
-BikeHop is owned by Lawrence Lim (and his 2 partners).
-Lawrence Lim is friend with Mr Woon Taiwoon before January 2012. (who is very vocal about NParks having gotten 'A Good Deal' with the Brompton purchases from BikeHop).
-Woon Taiwoon is friend of both Bernard Lim and Wesley Su from NParks.
-Wesley Su is working under instructions from Bernard Lim at Nparks.
-PCN division head Mr. Bernard Lim is a friend of ALL 3 BikerHop owners; with Lawrence Lim and Willie Ong before January 2012.
-They are all friends and fans of Brompton bikes.
Now you might ask what can one prove anything even though there are solid evidences that they all knew each other before January 2012? Well, my answer to you is, i can't prove anything else beyond that. Because i am not someone who is able to conduct checks into people's email, sms, phone call logs, or even bank transactions. I'm not superman. Maybe only some people with power can.
Anyway, let's break it all down even simpler for you:
Assistant Director Mr. Bernard Lim of National Parks Board PCN,
is already a big fan of Brompton brand foldable bicycles,
and is a friend of at least 2 BikeHop bosses - Mr. Lawrence Lim and Mr. Willie Ong, BEFORE the short quotation notice was put up at Gebiz on the 25th January 2012, which concluded with NParks buying 26 Brompton bicycles from BikeHop.
Take note, these are BEFORE the procurement, not after.
If NParks said that the procurement adhere to guidelines, then these guidelines is all rubbish! Let me share an incident on how I was “invited” to bid in GeBiz.
I was doing a small project for a school. The teacher asked me to do a site survey. After the site survey, the project quoted was only a few thousand dollars. Not wanting the hassle to get more vendors, the teacher verbally said my quote was OK. But he could only award the project to me through GeBiz. So the teacher told me that when the ‘tender’ was up on GeBiz, he would call me. I would just need to submit my quote – exactly the same quote we agreed. He also said that as no other vendors would be able to meet his requirement as they did not know what the details were and also the fact that no other vendors would know that such a project tender would be available in GeBiz. So true enough, I put in a bid as was told – only one vendor put in the bid and got the job.
Although the project I did was of a low value, I just want to highlight that GeBiz is fundamentally flawed! Just look at how NParks awarded the purchase where there was only one bid.
MND details discrepancies in Brompton bicycle purchase
Channel NewsAsia, July 25, 2012 (source)
The Ministry of National Development (MND) said its internal audit team interviewed all officers involved in the procurement process of the Brompton bicycles from vendor BikeHop.
MND said this in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia on July 25, 2012.
The ministry discovered links between the suspended officer, Bernard Lim, and an owner of BikeHop in Bernard's Facebook account.
MND said the online postings reinforced what NParks had discovered.
Subsequently the audit uncovered certain significant discrepancies, which led to the decision to suspend Bernard and report the matter to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) for investigation.
MND said it was working with NParks and other agencies to consider practical ways to strengthen its procurement controls for tenders and quotations, especially where single bids are involved.
Appropriate approving authorities and proper justifications will be required to ensure that single bid awards are reasonable and justifiable.
MND is also reviewing, in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, other aspects of the procurement system like the tender/quotation duration.
The ministry was also working towards an internal procurement guide to advise officers in their purchases.
MND said it would continue efforts to ensure prudence in the use of public funds.
It was also mindful that government purchases are justified on a cost-benefit basis, the procurement process open and fair, and decisions satisfy the criteria of value for money.
MND's full response to the queries from Channel NewsAsia:
Q. What kind of discrepancies were found in the procurement process?
A. MND's internal audit team was tasked by Minister Khaw to work with NParks to examine the purchase of the bicycles and review the procurement system as a whole after a newspaper article was published on this on 22 June.
As part of the audit, all officers involved in the procurement were interviewed. On 10 Jul, NParks officers discovered links between Bernard Lim and an owner of BikeHop in Bernard's Facebook account. However Bernard's FB account was also found to have nearly 300 other "friends" including other bike suppliers and vendors as well as many other biking enthusiasts. Bernard was a known biking enthusiast. On-line postings reinforced what NParks had discovered and the continuing inquiries and audit subsequently uncovered certain significant discrepancies which led to the decision to suspend Bernard from duty and to report the matter to the CPIB for investigation
As internal investigations were ongoing last week, NParks was unable to comment on this issue earlier.
Q. In light of this case, have there been changes in SOP in NParks in dealing with purchases? What kind of specific guidelines do officers now have to follow? We do understand that NParks is looking at having longer quotation period, and recalling the quotation when only one vendor made a bid. What other checks and balances are being put in place?
A. MND is working with NParks as well as our other MND agencies to consider practical ways to strengthen our procurement controls for tenders and quotations, especially where single bids are involved. Appropriate approving authorities and proper justifications will be required to ensure that single bid awards are reasonable and justifiable. We are also reviewing, in consultation with MOF, other aspects of our procurement system like the tender/quotation duration and are working towards an internal procurement guide to advise and guide our officers in their purchases.
We will continue our efforts to ensure that prudence is always exercised in the use of public funds. We are mindful that government purchases need to be justified on a cost-benefit basis, that the procurement process must be open and fair, and that decisions taken satisfy the criteria of value for money.
Q. Does MND think the Brompton bikes are really value for money? Could the same objectives be met with cheaper and less branded bikes?
A. The purchase of high specifications foldable bikes was made on the basis of an open Gebiz tender where a single bid was received. The vendor in question bid to supply foldable bikes which met all specifications and which was within the budget. The bikes the vendor was offering was Brompton. There was no other bidder offering other bikes. If there were, these bids and the bikes offered would have been evaluated accordingly against the specifications and comparative costs, regardless whether they were "branded" or not.