From ‘Seeking clarity over $2200 bike purchase’, ST Forum, 8 July 2012
(Tan Buck Yam): AS A taxpayer for the past 34 years and an avid cyclist, I find it hard to comprehend how the National Parks Board’s (NParks) bulk bicycle purchase was value for money (‘Khaw okay with NParks’ purchase of $2,200 bikes’; Thursday).
I agree that NParks officers need bicycles for their field duties, which are demanding. However, to acquire foldable bicycles at $2,200 each may not reflect well on the Government’s call for prudence and austerity. I own four bicycles – a hybrid costing $420, two mountain bikes at about $200 each and a foldable 20-inch bicycle at $98. All were purchased from Carrefour supermarket.
…What were these requirements that resulted in Brompton bicycles being the cheapest and most prudent purchase? What was the process of scrutiny by senior management? Perhaps the public could be shown a comparison of a similar purchase by the police, who recently acquired bicycles for their officers to patrol neighbourhoods. What was the cost of these bicycles?
I hardly see the police on bicycles, but I doubt they would pedal more than 40km a day, at least according to NParks in their justification for luxury biking. Taking the quality of a Brompton at face value, you can purchase more than 20 Carrefour bikes as spares for the same price. According to Khaw Boon Wan, who thinks paying spending more than $50K on 26 bicycles is a good deal:
…It offers us maximum operational flexibility in terms of usage and deployment. It enables our staff to get to the field sites directly and individually rather than needing an office van to transport them and their bikes to the various sites. This is a significant factor in raising productivity all round – manpower, time, vehicle
This coming from someone who paid $8 upfront for a bypass. Khaw went on to clarify that the only reason why the Brompton was picked was that only one vendor responded to the Gebiz tender, and that it was bought at a discounted rate. Which is pretty much the typical Singaporean response to expensive stuff at a sale, buying things you don’t really need but providing self-justification that you made a wise decision on hindsight. In March last year, our National Development Minister also sang praises of Herman Miller chairs, which MOM purchased at $575 a pop, supposedly a ‘steal’. A total of 475 of such ergonomic branded chairs were bought then, and it remains to be seen how a comfortable butt and SPOILING staff has improved civil servants’ productivity. An orthopedic surgeon remarked that ‘you don’t need an expensive chair to prevent back problems’. Ironically, if your chair is TOO comfortable, you may be spared from neck, shoulder and back pains, but subject yourself to a higher risk of cardiac mortality for prolonged sitting down.
I think the same applies to NParks officers, doing whatever they do on their rounds. You don’t need an expensive ‘Bomb-ton’ bicycle to chase down wild boars. In fact, knowing that you’re sitting on a $2200 luxury good means you’re less likely to hurtle headlong into a forest to perform your huntsman duties in fear of damaging standard issue equipment and writing statements. Interestingly, I also stumbled upon this Youtube UOB ad and 8 days feature while trying to find out how much a Brompton is selling here (according to a forum fan, you can get it for less than 2K for some models). These feature sometime eco-warrior Howard Shaw, recently charged for sex with an underaged prostitute, riding a BROMPTON. Second thoughts, NParks?
Note how UOB uses the slogan ‘The Sustainable Energy of Howard Shaw’. I think we all know what ‘energy’ they’re referring to now. 8 days also once labelled Shaw as our generation’s CAPTAIN PLANET, which explains his affinity for kids then.