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Japanese firm NEC wins tender for PAP town councils’ IT systems contract

SINGAPORE — Japanese firm NEC Asia Pacific has won the tender for the development of a new computer system for all People’s Action Party (PAP)-run town councils, taking over the role performed by the controversial PAP-owned company, Action Information Management (AIM).

SINGAPORE — Japanese firm NEC Asia Pacific has won the tender for the development of a new computer system for all People’s Action Party (PAP)-run town councils, taking over the role performed by the controversial PAP-owned company, Action Information Management (AIM).

Dr Teo Ho Pin, Coordinating Chairman of the 14 PAP-run town councils, said in a statement yesterday that NEC was awarded the contract on March 30, following recommendations from Deloitte and Touche Enterprise Risk Services, which was appointed to evaluate the bids.

NEC was chosen as it had submitted the lowest bid of S$16.8 million for the seven-year contract, among other things. Furthermore, NEC’s system also incorporated “the latest technology” from Microsoft and technology firm Anacle. “The new system is more cost-effective, thus saving maintenance cost for town councils and our residents,” added Dr Teo.

HCL Singapore and NCS, a wholly owned subsidiary of the SingTel Group, had also submitted bids. NCS had developed the common platform for the town councils’ computer systems when it was under contract from 2003 to 2010.

The PAP town councils’ computer software fell under the spotlight after Aljunied-Hougang Town Council Chairman Sylvia Lim blamed AIM for terminating its contract in 2011, which left the town council scrambling to install its own IT systems.

During the exchange, it was revealed that all 14 PAP-run town councils had sold their computer software to AIM in 2010, which then leased it back to the town councils — a move criticised for being against public interest. The company had been the only bidder in the open tender, in which the contract will end later this month.

Explaining the sale, Dr Teo had said, among other things, that it made it easier for them to negotiate as a cluster their software needs and that the deal with AIM is strictly to benefit the town councils.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong then ordered the Ministry of National Development (MND) to conduct a full review into the sale, saying it was in the interest of transparency and maintaining trust in the system. The MND has been asked to re-examine the “fundamental nature” of town councils to ensure high standards of corporate governance.

News of the award of the tender to NEC came a day after it was reported that the MND said it has extended its review of the controversial sale by a month, to the end of this month. No reasons were cited for the delay.

AIM, which reportedly has a paid-up capital of S$2, withdrew from the latest tender, as it helped the town councils prepare the tender documents. It did so to help the town councils migrate from their “obsolete software” to “new-generation software”, it said.

The tender exercise, put up on Feb 4, drew some 11 “potential bidders” who attended the tender briefing on Feb 7, said Dr Teo. Although eight of the firms purchased tender documents, three eventually submitted bids.

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