On Thursday (22 Dec), MSF staff Chia Kwang Hwee was sentenced to 64 months’ jail for stealing more than $340k in public funds meant for the needy. While the MSM widely reported the conviction, they left out critical facts that call into question the competence of MSF and then-Minister Chan Chun Sing.
The following is a timeline of the development of the case:
14 Aug 2014 – MSF alerted by ComCare beneficiary that he had not received financial assistance payments
15 Aug 2014 – Police report lodged by MSF
18 Aug 2014 – Chia arrested
15 Sept 2014 – MSF appoints independent review panel to review on the circumstances surrounding the misappropriation of funds
3 Aug 2016 – Chia charged in Court
22 Dec 2016 – Chia sentenced to jail
As we can see, it took a full 2 years for the SPF to complete its investigation. Was the crime really that sophisticated? The facts of the case seem to indicate otherwise.
Or could it be that SPF had concluded its investigation but did not want to charge Chia in 2015 due to the fact that the GE was taking place then? More importantly, the criminal misappropriation took place over 3 years from 2011 to 2014 during which Chia diverted payments meant for 42 recipients.
If so, it is very unusual that MSF did not receive any feedback or calls from these recipients until only 14 Aug 2014. Could it be that MSF DID receive feedback but failed to act on them promptly?
More fundamentally, the PAP has been whacking the Worker’s Party for not having basic system of payments reconciliation for AHTC. It appears that this is a case of the chickens coming home to roost: didn’t MSF themselves have any such control framework of payments reconciliation?
How did Chia manage to siphon off so much under the nose of then Minister for MSF Chan Chun Sing?