Accountability and financial responsibility

At a National Day speech in Tanjong Pagar, minister Chan Chun Sing said that accountability means not passing debts to children.

I don’t know where he got this definition.

I would use the term “financial responsibility” to mean not passing debts to the next generation.

Accountability means to take responsibility for your own actions, e.g a government has accountability for decisions and laws affecting its citizens. Sometimes, taking accountability means admitting you made a mistake.

If the government is accountable, it has to explain why it spend $4.85 billion to build the last 3 stations of the Circle Line, which is 5 times of the average cost per km for the earlier stages. It is not sufficient to say – because of difficult ground conditions. Even allowing for ground conditions, the price tag is excessive. There is also the question – can we do without this expensive segment?

What about the cost of $21 billion to build the Downtown Line. The cost per km increased from $160 million (adjusted for inflation) for the North South Line to $490 million for the Downtown Line. While part of the higher cost is due to the Downtown Line being completely underground, it should not account for the price tag being 3 times.

To be accountable, the government has to answer the following questions:

a) Has the standard of financial control slacked over the years?
b) Is the tendering system still reliable in produce acceptable prices?
c) Could alternative designs be considered for segments that are too expensive?

I do not accept that the current government has acted in an accountable manner in these two big decisions. There are many other decisions taken by the government that raise many questions. I am referring to decisions that affect billions of dollars, such as infrastructure works and defense spending.

We have also seen many decisions, such as training death of National Servicemen, handled in a manner that does not measure up to the standard of accountability. In other countries, the minister or top commanders in charge would resign to take responsibility for the deaths. In Singapore, the lower down soldiers take the rap.

I wonder if the current ministers understand the meaning of accountability. If they don’t, they cannot act in an accountable manner. It does not help when a minister coins up a new definition for this word.


Tan Kin Lian



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6 Responses to “Accountability and financial responsibility”

  • Harder Truths:

    I thought accountability was voting wisely for a change – but I guess I was mistaken…

    What do I know?

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  • Asd:

    Educated ?
    Laughable anyway you all can say what you want people already pocket full of money.

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  • Soldier boy:

    “Mama always said, dying was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t … Now, mama said there’s only so much fortune a man really needs, and the rest is just for showing off…”
    (Forrest Gump)

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  • again, clown wife wage is ???:

    pap clown and S$m gang all no end fake news about pap 4th generation S$m grabbers such as stroke heng kee chiu chan aljunied reject ong.

    but look carefully at everyone of them. stroke heng can’t speak. not even 1st class degree. mediocre. kee chiu chan can’t speak england. maybe his hokkien is kilat. but unimpressive. aljunied reject ong is fake. copied too much of lose lky so much so lost chance to be 4th generation PM.

    the rest such as lawrence wong and such unworthy of even a mention. and bad role models too. lawrence wong is a divorcee, at such a ffffing young age. snakemugam even worse even though they talk highty mighty about morals.

    truly all of them pap folks are whitewashed sepulchres.

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  • opposition dude:

    With yearly AGO reports on this ministry and that ministry any old how spending money leading to overpaying for services and such do you think this government is accountable?

    All they are good for is saying everything is well and good, such is their arrogance. Do you still remember someone saying that a certain bin centre wasn’t expesnive when 900k was spent on consultancy fees alone?

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  • Dr Tan Tai Wei:

    Accountability must also mean, where a citizen, even one outside Parliament, especially one with specialist credentials on economics and professional fund-managing such as Kenneth Jeyaretnam, and especially one who heads a legally instituted opposition political party, has for so long been raising issues as important and grave as possible mismanagement and nepotism/corruptibility at governance of state funds, etc., that government has no right to remain silent and not reply. Infact, a former PM had required of his Ministers to not only answer but indeed to sue when ‘libeled” ( if not, then guilt presumed and one must resign?).

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