Monday, May 23, 2011

Nicole Seah's fund raising

Dear All,

Thank you for all the concerns raised here. I apologize for the great confusion and anxiety caused by this episode.

Under the Political Donation Act, it is LEGAL for candidates to solicit donations under their names. Thus what Nicole has done is legal. The main concern is why personal bank account has been used instead of Party bank account. First of all, Nicole is soliciting funds for her candidacy in Marine Parade. She is also trying to get funding for her whole Marine Parade Team. Thus, it would be technically tedious for us to differentiate between funding meant for Marine Parade Team if donations are made to the Party bank account. Besides, financial reporting for the Party will be very complex if every Teams or individual candidates utilize the Party bank account for their fund raising activities.

I believe that those who have donated to Nicole or any other opposition members would have full confidence and trust in them to utilize the funds solely for the GE only. Having said that, I also understand the demand for transparency from the public on the fund raised. Rest be assured that due diligence will be carried out by the whole Marine Parade Team since the fund raised is intended to defray the cost of its election campaign.

As I have mentioned before to the press, young people are using the New Media more often and it will become a trend for them to utilize New Media for their political work and engagement which will include soliciting political donations. It is unfortunate that this present issue was blown out of proportion due to the utilization of the New Media. On hindsight, it could have been managed better.

Nevertheless, I have full confidence in Nicole and her Marine Parade Team in managing public funding properly. The stakeholders who have contributed money to their funds have the right to know how the funds have been utilized. This is a matter of transparency. This can be done by sending them the details via emails.

However, I think it is totally inappropriate for the members of public to insinuate corrupt practices, intent or misconduct with regards to this issue. It would be unfair to Nicole and her team to suggest that because they have acted within the legal limits. Unless there is any proof of misappropriation of funds, I think such slander is totally unwarranted. I hope the members of public should refrain from making such insinuations.

I think that this issue would be a good public education process for both politicians as well as Singaporeans. Singaporeans may not be used to politicians soliciting funds under their names but this is perfectly legal for candidates to do so, just as any other democratic countries in the world (US, Europe countries etc). On the other hand, politicians have to be mindful about perceptions of the public as well as the transparency of the whole fund raising exercise.

To conclude, I hope that Singaporeans could bear with us while we move on to a more open society. It is perfectly healthy for Singaporeans to raise their concerns on transparency and accountability when such public donations are involved. But I hope that my explanations and clarifications here could address their concerns adequately.

Yours Sincerely ,

Goh Meng Seng


Paul Thong said...

Thanks for the clarification. I have confidence in Nicole and admire her youthful enthusiasm in wanting to serve and help the needy and therefore have already sent her my cheque.

The trouble is people with little knowledge of the Political Donations Act and who did not bother to read her full appeal just jump to conclusion the moment they see that she is using a personal banking account.

Perhaps she can emphasize that an official receipt will be issued and as required by law statements will be issued to relevant authorities to tie up with all donations received.

Ren said...

Thanks for the clarification on Nicole position to raise fund.

As many young Singaporeans may not know much about issues like donation under individual's account on behalf of policitical party, allegation and comments tends to surface especially on the internet.

What the party can do is by making announcement on the website of the respective party member who will be conducting donation for that specific party. This will in terms will acknowledge with the approval by the party chairman/woman, and which in term will not create misunderstanding to that individual party members. Unless they are acting without the consultation of the party leaders.

dolphin8` said...

One netizen has stated why NS chose to use her personal name.

NSP supporters will donate $$ to NS bank acc but they will be hesitant in donating to NSP bank acc.

This is becos they are worried they will be found out by the Elections Dept which they see as pro-PAP.

This is a self-fulfilling climate of fear.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this much-needed clarification. I trusted her all along. It makes perfect sense but Nicole really brought this on herself. I have GREAT respect and admiration for her and flew there to vote only because of her. Had she been upfront and clear from the beginning, explained the reasons for the personal vs party accounts, no-one would have had reason to qestion her intentions.

nofearSingapore said...

I have a different perspective. although things have improved a fair bit in the last few years, it is still true that one must be whiter than white if one wants to compete with the PAP. One must lessen the opportunities for doubts to be planted into the minds of the public. If we start with this where does it end? Fear is but something that all of us in the recent GE have overcome. We have attended opposed rallies and voted for opposed without fear. So why then use the fav instrument of PAP as excuse to collect public money thru private account? Would you allow a company employee to routinely deposit the company's money into personal acc? Would condo owners protest if contractors pay the condo management via a private acc of a committee member? GMS, please do the right thing for the sake of NSP and oppo politics. Stop this unsafe practice. Dr Huang

Anonymous said...

The law is clear on how a candidate can solicit funds for their campaign. Therefore anyone who donate knows how their money will be used. There is element of trust, and we should trust that Nicole need the money for right purpose. Sometimes we want to fully support an individual candidate and not necessarily the party. So this is a good avenue to show your support for her.

Ethen, Jin-Chew said...

Dr. Huang,

I do respect your view. However, my view is that donations for Nicole's election campaign has been carried out in accordance with the law, period.

It is absolutely inappropriate to say that it is an "excuse to collect public money thru private account" !!

This particular incident cannot be used to compare with the case of company employee depositing company's money into personal account without the knowledge of the CEO. Such would be an act of fraud. But, what if the employee does the act of depositing money from the company into their private acount under instruction from the CEO for subsequent cash disbursement to workers and certain material suppliers who prefer cash payments ?

It all boils down to internal accounting, responsibilty, accountability and in compliance with the Law.

You mentioned contractors paying condo management committee via private account, that's corruption !! Management and contractor are bound by service/maintenance contracts and the flow of money can only be one way: payment from the management to the contractor for works done.

Sorry to say that you may have confused a lot of people by citing this totally irrelevant and inappropriate example.

Nicole and NSP are certainly well aware of the Law governing election

Lets move on Dr. Huang !!

nofearSingapore said...

Nicole has mesmerized all of us during GE2011 and we are all so proud of our youth because of her.

I do not insinuate any corruption on her part and my examples from corporate life are real as I sit on many committees and we take care to separate personal from the committee's financial accounts . Or else we may stand accused of abuse.

NS has a bright political future ahead of her and experienced people like GMS should point to her these pitfalls.

Take these criticisms in the right spirit. Not all who point out these dangers are out to shorten her political career. Let's not get paranoid.

NS is a natural leader and I hope this hiccup will not prevent her from fulfilling her potential in Sg politics. I am moving on. Thanks

Meng Chong said...

Hi there

While this matter has been blown out of proportion, there is a valuable lesson here.

Politics is perception. On this note I'm in agreement with nofearSingapore@7.22pm.

That being said, the sourcing of donation is based on TRUST (Bold and Underlined). Remember the NKF saga? All the checks & balances were supposed to be in place and it was a trusted organization.

Collin said...

Well said Goh Meng Seng! It makes perfect sense, though i really don't understand why some people are making such a fuss over it.

Nicole Seah has been transparent, its legal, so i think its more a case of ignorance & because its not commonly practiced here.

Anonymous said...

It is NSP simple explanation but it has shown the lack of foresight by the party.

A wise leader would instill discipline and if it is so, please explain why the other team members did not resort to this standard practice of soliciting funds in same manner.

In real truth is that nobody was controlling the system or bothers to question it as long as the till is filling up.

Donations r Us said...

Thank you for the clarification. This explanation should have been made at the onset to have prevented all the confusion.

There is one point I would like to suggest. Instead of Nicole having opened a new account in her own name, why not NSP open a new account - in their own or Marine Parade team's name? That would really have pre-empted all this hullabaloo.

The banks allow this, as my own organisation did this during the 2004 Tsunami - when we opened a separate account to collect donations. This allowed us to cleanly separate and account donations from our own general account.

Anonymous said...

What is the fuss? She has given her bank account and has declared that the donations are in respect of election expenses. That is transparent enough unless she is said to be inherently dishonest. The facts do not suggest that. So give her a break.If anyone wants to lodge the donations in some other account, just ask her. Lets not get peevish and discourage the young.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't see what is the big hoo ha. I got a feeling though this shit is stirred by supporters or running dogs of PAP. The average citizens or opposition supporters are also unfazed by this incident.

Anonymous said...

Goh Meng Seng you claim that your party is run by volunteers .Now lets us take a look at the list of his CEC members .You will know GMS is someone that cant be trusted .There are so many members in his CEC ,you still dare to claim your party is run by volunteers .Its being run by your party members ,not volunteers .There are even Treasurer: Steve Chia,Assistant Treasurer.
Yip Yew Weng to take care of his party funds .GMS dare to claim NSP lack of men to take care of public donation?Why need to transfer public donation to nicole bank acct?

NSP Central Executive Council Members list :

President: Sebastian Teo
Vice-President: Christopher Neo
Secretary-General: Goh Meng Seng
Assistant Secretary-General: Reno Fong
Treasurer: Steve Chia
Assistant Treasurer: Yip Yew Weng
First Organising Secretary: Ivan Yeo
Second Organising Secretary: William Tan
Webmaster: Elvin Ong
Council Member: Abdul Rasheed
Council Member: Cheo Chai Chen
Council Member: Ken Sun
Council Member: Lee Wai Leng
Council Member: Ong Hock Siong
Council Member: Raymond Chua
Council Member: Tan Chee Kien
Council Member: Yadzeth Bin Hairis

Anonymous said...

Goh Meng Seng ,you dont need to wayang so much .Just show us nicole bank account statement to the press n the public .Nicole promise to show her bank acct statement ,untill now still no news of it

.If you cant show ,this will only prove NSP n Nicole have something to hide,afraid to be under media scrutiny .Afraid that after showing will let the cat out of the bag .Afraid that after showing we will know NSP n Nicole is lying .Action speaks louder than words .No need to explain too much .Show her bank statement ,this fact will prove her innocent.IF nothing to hide ,y untill now still dun dare to show her bank statement?

Anonymous said...

GMS even ban me from posting .This really show what kind of party leader he is .

My previous post have been deleted by him .Keep trying but still cant get it appear on this blog .

Anonymous said...

)A permissible donor is
(1) any individual who is a citizen of Singapore and is not less than 21 years of age;
(2) a Singapore-controlled company1 which carries on business wholly or mainly in
Singapore; or
(3) in relation to a candidate, any political party he is standing for at an election.
Donations other than those from permissible donors are considered impermissible donations.

you talk about its legal for them to raise funds in this way?You are dam wrong .Election department should step forward to investigate since its not that legal afterall. From the above it state that donors should be individual who is a citizen of Singapore and is not less than 21 years of age.GMS ,you are dam sure those who donate to nicole bank accts are all sporean , 21 yrs old and above?There is no donors who are in their teens ?Nicol;e n your NSP have already violated the election law .You still dare to claim its legal ?

Anonymous said...

'' NSP, just like any other opposition parties are run by volunteers without paid staff.

Furthermore, opening more accounts is easier said than done. It is about managing that accounts, keeping track of all transactions, making sure all donations are legal etc. This is no small task at all. Please bear in mind that there are a total of EIGHT constituencies. ''

Goh Meng Seng ,pls dont try to shift responsibility and blame .By doing so will not make you less accountable .You talk about how tedious its to open accounts ,keeping track ect ,thats just an excuse on your part .NSP has an Central Executive Council ,so how can you claim your party is being run solely by volunteers?Beside ,among your Central Executive Council ,there are Treasurer: Steve Chia ,Assistant Treasurer: Yip Yew Weng to handle the fund and accts of NSP .You still have the cheek to come in here to claim that NSP lack able person to track the acct? Isnt NSP funds n accounts being manage by your party,Treasurer: Steve Chia ,Assistant Treasurer: Yip Yew Weng all along ?

I have another question for you which you din reply .You announced that you have sold off your flat to fund NSP campagin .Since you already have that fund through selling of your flat,why did your party still ask for public donation? Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss' is a lawyer .As a lawyer which means she is a high earner ,why did she still require public donation to sponsor her election campaign?Cant she pay for it herself?Your party n candidate is taking sporean as a fool .NSP is a greedy party who did not wan to pay for their own expenses eventhough they can afford it .They are trying to get free lunch from stupid donors who donate to them .

Anonymous said...

''On a side note, it is important for candidates to start to learn how to manage public funds. A simpler way is to dictate a third party audit to the funds and put up reports to all donors at the end of the fund raising exercise. If I cannot trust my candidates to manage small amount of public funds/donations properly, then I shouldn't be fielding them as candidates in the first place. ''

Goh Meng Seng ,you are treating donors donation as a game ?If you wan them to learn how to manage funds ,pls use your own money .Those donation are from the public,ofcos its easy for you to say that .Afterall even if your candidate misappropriate the fund ,its not your money n you wont feel the pain .Trust your candidate to manage small public funds ? . At that time sporean dun believe a person with such high standing such as TT Duria ,Shi Ming Yi will missappopriate funds and donation too.But it turn out otherwise .

Anonymous said...

Another thing is that the NSP has potential. It might not be polished but I see it as a bit of "a diamond in the rough". I think that it does need a bit of polishing; it does need a bit of change and new direction. I think that I want to be part of that process. I don't want to jump into something that will give me the best and most established platform but I would want to be that person to form that platform.

Nicole Seah said this in an interview with Yahoo! SG.

Is she going to take over as the head of NSP?