Taking aim at each other

SINGAPORE - Minister Khaw Boon Wan is known for his calm, even-tempered and Zen-like demeanour. On Monday, he was less so.

Calling Workers' Party (WP) Chairman Sylvia Lim "self-righteous" and "arrogant", the National Development Minister said: "Many of us in this House have been serving Singaporeans for decades, long before she entered this House. Please, don't behave as if you're the only patriot here."

Using an airline analogy, Ms Lim had earlier asked in her speech whether the Government "even cares about the passengers in the Cessnas or are they simply collateral damage in the bigger political game?"

The heart of this debate: The AIM saga.

It arose when WP said Action Information Management (AIM) terminated its contract with Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), which was why the council got a red grade for service and conservancy charge arrears in the latest Town Council Management Review.

But PAP-owned AIM had said: "AHTC wrote in on June 10, 2011, to state that it wanted to develop its own system.

Thereafter the contract was terminated with mutual agreement on Sept 9, 2011, after two extensions had been given."

Rejecting the finding by Ministry of National Development that residents' interests had not been compromised in a deal between PAP-run town councils and AIM, Ms Lim asked if residents are merely collateral damage.

She was using the same airline analogy as then First Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong did in his 1988 speech at the second reading of the Town Council Bill, asking if residents are passengers.

Mr Goh had said there was a need to protect the public by ensuring that political parties which aspired to be the government should first prove they could run a town council for a constituency.

Otherwise, it would have been like an aspiring pilot taking over an SIA jumbo jet in midair, before he has flown solo in a Cessna.

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