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Uniquely Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 12, 2008

Uniquely Singapore

The Unions, the Press, and the People – Part II

CASE’s Relationship with NTUC

Leong Sze Hian

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) founded the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) in 1971, and it remains an institution member today. (938 Live) (CASE’s letter to Business Times)

According to NTUC’s web site:

The NTUC Family includes 9 co-operatives, and 6 affiliated organizations – the Singapore Labour Foundation, NTUC Club, NTUC Link, the Ong Teng Cheong Institute of Labour Studies, NTUC LearningHub, and the Consumers’ Association of Singapore, and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

NTUC is the parent body of CASE.

CASE President Mr Yeo Guat Kwang’s “present occupation” is currently listed as “Director, Quality Worklife Department, NTUC” in the Singapore Parliament website.

He was seconded from NTUC to be President of CASE.

CASE’s Central Committee Secretary and its Executive Director, Mr Seah Seng Choon, was seconded from NTUC as well. Before joining CASE, he was General Manager of NTUC Denticare and Director for Skills Development at NTUC Training Centre. (CASE)

CASE’s former Executive Secretary, Mr Ivan Baptist, was also seconded from the NTUC. (CASE)

CASE’s web site describes CASE as “a non-profit, non-governmental organization for the people”.

In view of the above, is there a possible conflict of interest – the issue of impartiality for CASE to evaluate NTUC FairPrice viv-a-vis other supermarkets?

Is there an issue of objectivity when the President and Executive Director of CASE are both seconded from the NTUC, in matters concerning NTUC FairPrice?

Erroneous information and sloppy work by CASE

In its May 2 press release, CASE reported that its survey revealed that NTUC FairPrice was the only supermarket chain which had uniform pricing in all its outlets:

We also observed that the same product can be differently priced in different supermarket’s outlets, except Fairprice which maintains consistent pricing for all products in all their outlets. (CASE)

One week later, on May 9, the Straits Times’ report titled, “One-price policy: Some do, some don’t” (Straits Times, May 9), it revealed that NTUC FairPrice was not the only supermarket with uniform pricing:

Three supermarket chains have uniform pricing across all their outlets, a Straits Times check has discovered.

On May 2, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) reported that supermarket chains here, with the exception of the 80-outlet NTUC FairPrice, did not have a uniform price policy.

A Giant Hypermarket spokesman told The Straits Times that this was not so: ‘We have always had a one-price policy at all hypermarkets.’

The exceptions were when a store had ‘specific promotions on selected items’.

But Case was right when it came to the Cold Storage and Sheng Siong chains.

When contacted, Case executive director Seah Seng Choon said that only NTUC FairPrice had told the consumer watchdog of its uniform pricing.

‘The other supermarkets did not inform us about it. Since they have disclosed it now, we will inform all consumers,’ he added”.

It is perplexing for CASE’s executive director to explain the disparity by saying that “only NTUC FairPrice had told the consumer watchdog of its uniform pricing.”

This is especially bewildering because CASE was supposed to have done a survey of all the supermarkets – instead of waiting for the supermarket chains to tell it about their uniform pricing.

Besides, if the supermarkets did not tell CASE about it, and CASE did not find out for itself, how then did CASE come to the conclusion that NTUC FairPrice was the only chain with uniform pricing?

This begs the question: Did CASE ask the other supermarkets whether they had a uniform price policy like FairPrice, before it made the press release that “supermarket chains here, with the exception of the 80-outlet NTUC FairPrice, did not have a uniform price policy”?

One can only wonder about the methodology CASE used for its “survey”.

How will CASE correct the erroneous information it gave out?

Was the comparison of prices amongst supermarkets based on the highest, average or lowest prices for items, for those supermarkets that do not have a uniform pricing policy?

With reference to CASE promising to “inform all consumers” about the uniform pricing, I would like to ask how CASE is going to do so? By a press release?

I think in all fairness, perhaps somebody ought to apologise to Shop N Save and Giant, for saying that all “supermarket chains here, with the exception of the 80-outlet NTUC FairPrice, did not have a uniform price policy”.

Who audits NTUC?

As a co-operative, we understand that NTUC FairPrice gets preferential tax treatment relative to the commercial supermarkets. For the year ended 31 March 2007, its taxation was only about $3 million on a profit of $103 million. (FairPrice) (Note: the corporate tax rate is 18 per cent.)

So, shouldn’t NTUC FairPrice’s prices be “cheaper” than others, given that it is taxed less?

The Auditor-General’s Annual Report has just been released on 8 May. So, who audits NTUC Fairprice’s “prices” and profits increasing by 89 per cent last year to $100 million?

Read also: The Unions, the Press and the People by Leong Sze Hian and Choo Zheng Xi.

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31 Responses to “Uniquely Singapore”

  1. CynSkep said

    Thanks for the great insight. It just brings to light how ineffective and biased CASE is given its background. I have always wondered why a MP is heading CASE and I’ve got the answer.

  2. sgcynic said

    If we can accept the COI on Mas Selamat’s escape to be “independent”, we can also accept that CASE is “independent”. Let’s move on (straight to the polls).

  3. Daniel said

    There is so much conflict of interest in our wayang government and they can even act blur to such arrangement.

    It looks like the citizens have been taken for a ride all along.

  4. NSman said

    CASE is not a case
    And no case is there a CASE.
    If one needs to go to CASE,
    Be prepared to lose your case,
    Just in case
    CASE is not prepared to standby your case.
    So tell me whose case is CASE?
    I think CASE should just be put in a showcase.

  5. “As a co-operative, we understand that NTUC FairPrice gets preferential tax treatment relative to the commercial supermarkets.”

    Interesting point! Anyone knows how much are co-op taxed or if they are taxed the same as businesses?

  6. MMSMPMMC said

    If a family owned company told you the company is not a small family business SME and every employees get their chance in the promotion in the company but then all the top management post are held by the company chairman’s brother, sister-in-law, cousin, cousin-in-law, father’s cousin’s son-in-law, mother’s foster sister’s cousin’s daughter-in-law…… etc…

    Fair chance for all employee in the company?

    It’s really a family business company…..

  7. Daniel said

    MMSMPMMC,
    indeed a Lee Dynasty.

  8. Gary Teoh said

    case is a useless body,it can’t help the consumer

  9. Gary Teoh said

    is it true, Lee Dynasty ? why Financial Times got sued if it reported true facts?

  10. Frieda said

    Are we Singaporean still in our slumber?

  11. Daniel said

    Gary Teoh,
    You have nepotism in the government all over the place and ensnare in secrecy etc. Don’t you think is what China monarch dynasty is all about ? The top enjoy the greatest benefit while the people below struggle like to meet end’s need. Tax and tax, and more ERP gantries to setup and people just keep quiet for fear of Lee…

    If this is not oppressive LEE dynasty, why is it ?

    Which credible magazines etc Fortune, FEER, Economist, which scrutinize about Lee’s dynasty never can sue ? The strange thing is that if these magazines aren’t credible, why then the government these magazine to be imported in Singapore in first place ?

    http://bbs.chinadaily.com.cn/viewthread.php?tid=535174

  12. Michael said

    Without a shadow of doubt, CASE is indeed another affiliated mouth piece of NTUC and the gahment. NTUC is also another money making machine in the stable. No chance can we see CASE taking on the profiteering oil companies as they are pro-establishment. Thanks TOC for the clarification.

  13. Eveline said

    You can see the corporate structure of NTUC pretty clearly here:

  14. Maddog said

    Hey you guys.. please ignore what other people say or write about CASE or Singapore and all our politics… I say we are clean and honest. We have honest and ethical people working in all our government department.. so just ignore anything that is mentioned in other papers and studies… I say we are clean and honest and so be it !!

    Honest and Clean
    MD

  15. sgcynic said

    Hi Maddog,
    Blind faith?

  16. Daniel said

    “We have honest and ethical people working in all our government department”

    Maddog, you are right.
    All the honest and ethical people unfortunately died a unjust death. Just look at the honest and credible Saddam Hussein who get hanged in the end because of his care and love for his nations and people. The citizen unfortunately doesn’t appreciate the greatness of Saddam even though his exploitation and greed are for the citizen’s own good in case the citizen become complacent and develop crude mentality. Saddam deserves to be a saint for all the goodness in him and how he build and blunder the nation, with nepotism running all over the place. He build a nation where everyone fear him and become obedient to him. He is the perfect replica of great leader no one can ever match. The world mourn for the death of benevolent dictator.

    Maddog, don’t you agree with what I said ?

  17. Maddog said

    Nope , not blind faith.. just plain old stupid citizens…

  18. tunkudon said

    so now we can all heard to shop ans save more , cause mother know best

  19. Andrew Loh said

    In a nutshell:

    – NTUC has a 16.34% management shares stake in SPH (which controls virtually all the newspapers in S’pore).

    – NTUC is the parent of CASE.

  20. sgcynic said

    Hi Maddog,
    Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Cheers 🙂

  21. Raymond said

    Gone Case! 😀

  22. patriot said

    Consumer Association, National Trade Union Congress, and the Main Stream Medias are family members of the PAP. They are also members of Singapore Inc which means they run businesses and all businessmen are only concerned with money and people who help them make money!

    Wellfares and wellbeings of the people have got to be the responsibilities of the commoners. On top of that, the people must contribute to make sure that the Country and the Leaders survive comfortably. Otherwise, corruption and crutch mentality will set in.

    It is alright for old folks to work for their own survivals no matter how menial and hard their lives are, for no one owes them a living. Good and logical argument; shall I say as good as ‘Leaders must be remunerated to the tunes of multi-million SIN Dollars per annum’ to prevent corruptions. Great perverse wisdoms make great bloody greedy leaders!

    patriot.

  23. Thank again Mr Leong for showing us the truth which most Singaporeans are too blind to see.

    If there’s one thing they need to know is:

    “You can bluff some people all the time
    You can bluff all the people some of the time
    But you can’t bluff all the people all the time!”

    Thanks also to Mr Andrew Loh for letting us know that NTUC is such a big boss of SPH.

    http://feedmetothefish.blogspot.com/

  24. My sincere appreciation to Mr Leong Sze Hian and Mr Andrew Loh for their contribution in making Singapore better!

    It takes courage and effort to do the research and tell it like it is without fear or favour.

    With what’s going on in TOC and the awakening of more Singaporeans, there may be hope yet for Singaporeans to truly live
    their National Pledge.

    Our Pledge
    We, the citizens of Singapore,
    pledge ourselves as one united people,
    regardless of race, language or religion,
    to build a democratic society
    based on justice and equality
    so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and
    progress for our nation.

    To the power that is, I’d say:

    “You can bluff some people all the time
    You can bluff all the people some of the time
    But you can’t bluff all the people all the time!”

    To Singaporeans, I’d say:

    “Fool me once, shame on you
    Fool me twice, shame on me”

    When will Singaporeans reach the stage of “we won’t get fooled again?”

    feedmetothefish

  25. Daniel said

    Every concerned citizen,
    please do take a read at this wonder article. It highlight working Microsoft as monopolist and business and PayAndPay as priority. It is act of focusing of business by Microsoft rather than consumer.
    Little wonder Apple over take the giant.

    How is it relevant ? Think about ShengSiong versus NTUC, government versus citizen…

    http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/05/12/from-vista-to-zune-why-microsoft-cant-sell-to-consumers/#more-1814

    Read this and give us how clownful is our ruling party.

  26. Logicalman said

    Daniel,

    Microsoft operates in the free market and is subject to independent regulatory scrutiny in the regions that she operates. Big as she is, she has eaten the humble pie in Zune, Windows Mobile, and internet search, among others. She doesn’t win all the time. Her founder and leader Bill Gates gives generously out of his own pocket to help alleviate the plight of many third world countries.

    The ruling party operates in a sandbox that she has created, and she regulates and scrutinizes herself. She is big, and continues to grow bigger. I don’t think she knows what a humble pie tastes like although she has been quick to offer advise to other countries when they ate the humble pie. She wins all the time, and her leaders are good at taking generously out of the people’s pockets to add on to their plight of feeling like a third world citizen in a first world nation.

  27. Logicalman said

    Sorry for the typo error above. “offer advise” should be “offer advice”. Have a nice day, all readers 🙂

  28. Daniel said

    Logicalman,
    Singapore currently reminds me of Microsoft in early 1990s. Monopolist, arrogant, complacent, … until the web sweep Microsoft down. The internet and web larger than Microsoft etc.

    Singapore still offers free advise but unknow to citizen, and want those countries LKY advise to invest in the country to grow the economy. Yes, it is about $$$, $$$ and more $$$ to coffers. Strange given so much $$$ invest from other countries, coffers still claim money not enough and still open fuc#$king lot of ERP, with more coming soon to jerk up Lee’s wealth.

  29. surprise said

    I think one word sums it all up …… Incest.

  30. auditor said

    SINGAPORE: More than 100 disabled people in need continued receiving payments under a financial assistance scheme even though they had been dead for between four and 40 months, the Auditor-General’s office (AGO) said in its 2006/07 accounting report on ministries, statutory boards and Government-owned companies.

    On Thursday, 10 months after the AGO made that report, the Public Accounts Committee released its findings on the remedial actions that have since been taken.

    The Ministry of Health (MOH), which had made the payments to 106 people, informed the committee that S$85,200 of a total of S$178,150 had been recovered. It will not recover the remaining sum because the MOH has a policy of “not recovering payouts made up to three months upon the death of the beneficiaries”. This policy would be reviewed.

    The Home Affairs ministry will also provide monthly updates to the MOH on death records to prevent similar erroneous payouts.

    The committee, made up of eight Members of Parliament (MP) and chaired by Mr Cedric Foo (West Coast GRC), said: “Most of the lapses, which occurred in public institutions, have been addressed.”

    MP Zaqy Mohamad, who sits on the committee, said that although the various ministries have “taken steps to ensure that such deficiencies do not happen again”, the committee’s key role is to evaluate the effectiveness of all these measures.

    “We are working to see how we can give the Auditor-General’s Office more authority for the long-term strengthening of the governing structure and tightening of the government framework,” he said.

    The AGO also found that medical expenses incurred by three overseas missions had not been claimed under an insurance policy that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) held even though the medical expenses of staff and dependent family members were covered by it.

    The ministry’s permanent secretary said it has addressed the problem with measures such as “raising awareness” among employees that they have to submit insurance claims and the procedures for doing so. It has also stepped up “enforcement actions to check on these claims”.

    As of last September, the MFA has identified S$1.56 million in unclaimed medical bills since April 2003 when the insurance cover took effect and it was in the process of filing these claims. In another recovery exercise, the Supreme Court Administration informed the committee that it had gotten back the unnecessary replacement costs for glass panels at its building in full from the contractor.

    Pointing to the AGO’s report that the Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore could have earned higher returns if it managed its cash reserve better, the committee also recommended to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to consider “pooling and centrally managing the surplus funds of all statutory boards for greater efficiency and effectiveness”.

    The MOF said that statutory boards were responsible for overseeing their own investments because they were “better attuned to their investment needs and objectives”.

    From this financial year, the AGO would audit 18 statutory boards, instead of 13. Full audits will be done at least once every five years for each of the 64 statutory boards.

    The AGO’s report last year had spotted weak links in the Economic Development Board after its first audit of the agency in 46 years

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