Friday, October 18, 2013

Internal control on purchases


Forum Page
Straits Times

I was surprised to read that a senior government official had been charged for submitting false claims for purchase of gifts to be given to foreign dignitaries over several years. 

I do not wish to comment on this specific case, as it is being handled in the court. However, I like to ask about the internal control system that is used in government agencies.

The basic principle of internal control is that each transaction should involve at least two people, to act as a check against abuse. The purchase has to be initiated by one staff and approved by the supervisor. It is possible for these two people to collude, but the risk is minimized.

I have dealt with government agencies over the years, and they are very meticulous about following SOP, even to the extent of giving some hassle to suppliers.

It is therefore very surprising that a basic principle of internal control is being overlooked to such an extent. I look forward to a reply from the Auditor General's Office.

Do we have adequate resources for investigative work?


12 October 2013

Forum Page
Straits Times

I wish to thank Superintendent Ho Yenn Dar of the Singapore Police Force for giving me a reply and assurance that the Police will commence investigation when there is evidence that a criminal offence has been committed.

I like to ask if the Police has sufficient investigators to handle the alleged criminal cases that were lodged and if these investigators had the skill, experience and inclination to carry out investigative work?

In November 2011, I was involved in filing a complaint with another person on an alleged cheating case involving a company that provided forex training courses at a high fee. The complaint was accompanied by several hundred pages of documents of alleged deception of the trainees over a period of several years. 

After a delay of a few months, the investigator replied that they did not find any evidence merit investigation. During this period, both of the complainants were not invited to meet the investigator to clarify the evidence that were presented. We had contacted the investigator a few times, and were told that the requested meeting was not required.

I am now helping a group of complainants on another case. The complainants alleged that they had been cheated in an investment scam and had filed a complaint with the Commercial Affairs Department. The filed complaints from ten people contained several instances of alleged cheating as described in section 415 of the Penal Code of Singapore.

I have asked the investigator to interview the complainants and also offered my assistance in reviewing the evidence, as I am familiar with this matter. I await to see the action that will be taken by the investigator and look forward to a more positive and inclusive outcome to this complaint.

Unsatisfactory compensation from Sing Tel


15 October 2013

Editor, Forum Page
Straits Times

I find the compensation offered by Sing Tel to its customers affected by the disruption of service caused by the fire at its Bukit Panjang exchange facility to be deplorable.

At the minimum, the affected customers should be given a proportionate refund of the fee for the period that the service has been disrupted or for the contract period to be extended by the same period.

It could be argued that the compensation should be augmented, as the disruption to business or the daily living routine should also be considered. 

It is likely that many customers will not be adequately compensated by the increase in surfing speed or more local calls which they may not need. 

The regulatory authority is supposed to regulate the service providers to make sure that they meet the service standards. I ask the authority to step in and ensure that the customers are compensate adequately and fairly.

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