NParks officer suspended for foldable bikes purchase worth S$57,200

Fann Sim

UPDATED -- 25 July, 5.30pm to include MND's statement

The Ministry of National Development has confirmed Wednesday that the suspension of the NParks officer who was responsible for purchasing 26 foldable Brompton bicycles for $2,200 each has been reported to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).
 
The suspension comes after an internal review called by Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
 
In a statement late on Tuesday, the MND said the purchase of foldable bikes worth a total of S$57,200 to enhance work productivity of NParks field staff conducting was valid.
 
But the audit uncovered discrepancies which, although inconclusive by themselves, suggested the “possibility of bias” in the procurement.
 
The purchase of the foldable bicycles, which was reported on the purchase on 22 June, raised eyebrows due to the high cost of the British-made bicycles. A cheaper version can cost as little as between S$100 to $200.
 
Khaw had, on 4 July, written a post on his blog defending the purchase but called for an audit to be carried out. In his entry titled "Value for Money", Khaw wrote that the bikes were bought to raise staff productivity as "it enables the officer to cover more ground and do more inspections within the same time".
 
Foldable bikes would also eliminate the need for an office van to transport the bikes and field staff to the areas of their daily rounds, and would allow staff to get to the field sites directly and individually.
 
A good foldable bike would therefore be considered an appropriate equipment for field staff, raising productivity all round in manpower, time and vehicle transfers, Khaw wrote.