Know What You Are Defending, Mr Khaw

MND boss Khaw Boon Wan had spoken.
[Link: Khaw defends NParks' purchase of $2,200 foldable bicycle]

Did Khaw really understand NParks' justification on their purchase? Let me summarise them,

1) NParks cited buying foldable bikes will increase staff productivity.

2) I quote word for word, the reasons that NParks gave on their choice.
"Brompton was picked because only one vendor responded to the tender with a bid price lower than the listed retail price of the same bicycle."
3) While a Brompton bike costs more than foldable bicycles with similar specifications, Mr Khaw said cyclists told him the bike was durable and would require less maintenance after heavy usage.

With that, Khaw concluded,
"It looks like NParks has bought the right equipment. However, it also looks like NParks might have gotten a better deal if there was greater participation in this quotation."

I'll tell you, as a citizen of Singapore, why you should not accept this slipshod justifications by NParks and Khaw's support of his underlings despite an obvious weak understanding of what was going on.


In the article, Mr Khaw explained that a foldable bicycle was chosen because such bicycles "would eliminate the need for an office van to transport the bikes and the staff to the areas of their daily rounds". The NParks staff would also be able to carry them onto buses and trains where necessary.

How does staff travel faster and further riding on bicycles the whole day, "using public buses and trains where necessary", as compared to a company van dropping staff and bikes? If you are talking about cost cutting, maybe. You can make that van driver jobless and save a good few grands per year. Fair. Productivity? Pure cycling is faster than a van reducing most distance for the staff? Public buses and trains? Increased productivity? This is Brompton, not Nimbus 2000. Some people have to go back to school. Especially you, Mr Khaw.

At least do some studies and provide some facts instead of spurting some airy figures on national newspaper, people. This isn't the Industrial Revolution, even the Millennium had came and went. People are not receiving drones as before.


Just because only one vendor responded to the tender, we have to accept their bid? If NEA or AVA tenders for company cars and BMW happens to be the only vendor who offered a fleet lower-than-retail price, are we going to see health officers doing their rounds in BMWs? Do you know what you are talking about, Mr Khaw?

Have you questioned NParks about the specifications? What kind of routine NParks staff have to go through everyday for the need of such specifications? What are the specifications in the first place? Please be transparent and release them. There will be many Singaporeans who are more than capable to find you a fitting substitute with a competitive price. First, please run through the feasibility studies to find out of the specifications are over-stated.

Lastly, if there wasn't a budget of around S$2,200 set for each bike, how can a bid be accepted whether or not there was one participating vendor? Where did the extra money come from if the intended budget was lower? Who was the person who approved this purchase, the Parks Management Director or NParks' CEO? We need the answers that the media failed to supply.


Do you know how many common bicycles you can buy with that budget, Mr Khaw? You guys have spent S$57,200 on bicycles. How many common bicycles costing S$100 each you can buy with that budget? 572 bicycles. You can get so many of these that you can virtually plant one bicycle all over Singapore. Since NParks staff claimed that they will use public transport, there will always be one bicycle waiting for them at every corner of Singapore to assist them with their daily patrol. Do we have 572 parks in Singapore? You can have 3 bicycles per park, spaced strategically if you like, even in small neighbourhood parks.

Will 26 finely crafted bicycles costing S$2,600 outlast 572 common bicycles costing S100 each? Want to make a bet how many bicycles of each category are left standing after ten years of usage? Tell me these Brompton bicycles come with a lifetime warranty. Tell me how cheap Brompton imported spare parts cost and how easy it is to replace worn parts? Any commoner with a slight mechanical aptitude could service a common bicycle. Even sending the bicycle to a heartland mechanic will not break anyone's bank. Less maintenance, you are having a laugh.


"It looks like NParks has bought the right equipment." 

Looks like.

Looks like Mr Khaw was not really sure. Come on, do you think we are really disputing the fact that NParks needs foldable bicycles? There are many good reputable foldies out there which cost less than one grand each. Talk to Mr Brown, the cycling nut. He should be more than happy to be your sales consultant. It doesn't even take much effort to acquire a model that looks better than that thing NParks bought. Talk about creating a hip image for the company!

If productivity and convenience is what NParks wanted, give them one of these electric scooter.

It is much lighter than a lousy foldie. You can take as many public buses and trains as you want. It is small and handy and can go up to 35km/h, covering a maximum distance of 60km per charge. How are these specifications compared to NParks' needs?

You can get one of these for US$200 a piece. How many of these can you buy with S$57,200? Don't get me started, Mr Khaw. Don't like electric stuff because it costs more to run? I'll love to see you replacing the tens of buggies parked in Botanic Garden with foldable bicycles.


  1. that's how our gov tender works? "because only one vendor responded to the tender" is enough to award the tender? this is really eye opening..

  2. If not mistaken govt tenders must have min 3 tenderers.
    Why there were no min 3 tenderers?
    Could it be another case of no-sex-no-tender?
    Mr khaw, what do you think?

    1. Recently, an elderly stall-holder at a market gave up her stall and retendered for it at a lower price. Although there was no minimum price set, her bid was rejected for the single reason that there were no other bids received.

  3. The above 2 comments are confused with Sing gov procurement procedures.

    Some explanation.
    NParks is a MOF funded Stat Board. That means following the Sing Govt's Instruction Manual (previously named IM 3B) is mandatory.

    In Tenders, the awards are always made by the Chief Executive. There are 3 types of tenders, Open, Selective and Limited.
    Open means open to all,
    Selective means a open qualification exercise was made to pre-qualify the invitees to bid.
    Limited means only invited parties can bid.

    All tenders and the awards are specified in GeBiz. (Govt procurement website)

    Open tenders can be awarded even if there is only 1 person responding. (Although tender specifications can be written in a way to get some prediction of results. As the above post by singaporeanson has expressed.)
    Actually, MOF is well known to crackdown quite hard on agencies that use this route of 'over-specifications'. If the tender specification is indeed written to benefit Brompton, I'll be very very surprised.
    Chief Executives (of Stat Boards) can approve tenders of up to $1M. This tender exercise for bike is about $57k. What singaporeanson mention is also correct. If the Chief Executive is uncomfortable in any way about the tender, he can always refuse to sign the tender award. The tender will then be termed 'No Award'. All they have to do is to redo the whole exercise with more market communications to ensure more participants bidding.

    How did this whole saga blow-up? Did someone monitoring the Govt tenders tip-off someone? Usually, contractors monitors the GeBiz website to see what tenders are being called and awarded. If it's a tip-off, why did the person not bid for supplying the bicycles? (He/She could have bid $2.1k and made a killing)

  4. Bro, your rebuttal to KBW's lame justifications really cuts to the bone of the argument.

    You should send this to KBW email, cc the MSM, cc all those other watchdogs.

    I would be curious to see how'd they get out of answering these point blank questions.

    I really cannot see how they actually can justify $2K bikes when there are smaller and high quality folding bikes for $200-$500 a pop.

    This story smells of the Herman Miller chairs another department splurged on.

  5. Khaw Boon wan job is to give excuses. He loves numbers and sometime even surprised us with non-sensical bloopers like his $8 heart surgery and HDB sizes have not shrank. I suspect his mind is not working and he is too old to be a ministers. We need a brain, not a jibberish mouth.

  6. There is no doubt that Minister Khaw knows everything he did and is doing. He is long in Parliament and a full minister in Health and now MND.

    Now Sinkies are praising him for solving the Housing Problem

    When he was Health Minister, he suggested Bintan and JB; soon the facility will be available to Sinkies in JB and who knows Bintan will be available too.

    Sinkies should have faith in Minister Khaw, he meant what he said, one of the most efficient minister.


    1. Patriot,
      Are you sure? Did you mean what you said? This Kaw Peh Kaw Bu fellow is making all the Sinkies Kaw Peh Kaw Bu lah! Oh don't forget about his $8 heart by pass and HDB flats nvr shrink at all! He can just bullshit all the way and Sinkies are still grateful to him! KNN!

  7. now wait a min... why do nparks staff have to carry their bikes and commute to they DAILY patrol areas??? its like your boss telling you that you have to pack up all your files, computer and office phone every night and bring it home and then bring them back every morning to use in the office. wat utter nonsense.

  8. Very low calibre manager,Mr Khaw better becomes a teacher,those who can,do,those who can't teach.

  9. It is peanuts...really, the monkeys have spoken..

  10. Who exactly are these so called 'national park staff"?
    Are they the Park rangers?
    If so, do they have to go pick up the bikes from a central location, then bike their ways around singapore, then return to central location and leave the bike. Repeat same thing everyday?
    Or does the staff doing the patrolling actually get to go home with the bike?
    Something is very fishy here.

  11. It is true that the tender was awarded according to guideline, but it doesn't the judgement is sound. Meeting the guideline then no need to ask and find out? too lazy to find out? It is the attitude of the person carrying out the job.

    Mr. Khaw it taking this to another dimension, admitting a bad decision (if it were) or failed at convincing..

  12. A waste of tax payer money. Period.

  13. His explanation on his MND facebook page has disappeared. It carried lots of questions to him haha

  14. Apparently the vendor awarded is not the authorised Brompton reseller (which comes with warranty). Authorised reseller's fb:

  15. "While a Brompton bike costs more than foldable bicycles with similar specifications, Mr Khaw said cyclists told him the bike was durable and would require less maintenance after heavy usage."

    bullshit and horsecrap...

    i had a china made cheapo foldable bicycle bought for ~$80 for around 4 years now, riding it like a BMX AND a mountain bike. haven't had any repairs needed (besides flat tyres)

  16. Let's look at the bright side bro, these NPark staffs kana jin jia luck! now must really show around riding at NPC. Otherwise they had call Segway for tender and opt for easy life.

  17. "NParks did not purchase bike from authorized dealer"

  18. Just published on TRE :)

  19. Just saw this:


    last night, I saw on TV a bicycle expert who said, 欲善其事,必先利其器 (right tools for the job), and that tools used by professionals are sometimes much more expensive than what others would use. i kinda agree. nparks is trying to make singapore safer from fallen trees. yes, the cost of each bike does seem a bit expensive, but if it helps them to do their job better, why not? I certainly don't envy them, being out in the streets day in day out, checking trees and park connectors. i'd rather be in an air-conditioned office sitting on my chair and drinking kopi.

    1. Interestingly Khaw who was the Minister of Health, is now routed to MND. I would like to know if he had thought of "欲善其事,必先利其器" (right tools for the job) when he was at MOH. With regards to the bicycle expert's "欲善其事,必先利其器" claim, this is what I told my siblings in Singapore:

      Ya, right. "Right tools" are available only for specific people lah.

      E.g. Here in Canada, hospital rooms are fitted with ceiling lift. In addition, various other lifting devices are available so that nurses don't have to break their backs when moving the patients. In Singapore, I have not seen ceiling lifts (not in the usual C-class medical/surgical wards anyway), not even in TTSH with so many elderly patients with mobility issues. Lifting devices and many other tools which are common in Canada -- which is technically poorer than Singapore going by GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) -- are rare in Singapore hospital wards.

      Thus one can conclude that nurses not as important as National Park rangers in Singapore. Perhaps it is better to be a vegetable (i.e. NParks tree) than to be a sick elderly (i.e. TTSH patient) in Singapore.

    2. Knn... even if it's 欲善其事,必先利其器 (right tools for the job), why did NParks bought this "right tool" from an non-authorised reseller which do not and cannot offer the official five-year frame warranty and two-year parts warranty???

      A M6L Brompton from authorised distributor retails at S$2250 PER BIKE which will cover the 5-year frame warranty and 2-year warranty on parts.

      In comparison, buying a total of 26 M6L Bromptons at S$2200 per bike is unfortunately not a fair deal for NParks, especially when the bikes come from a non-authorised reseller, which do not and cannot offer the official five-year frame warranty and two-year parts warranty.

      For 26 bikes, NParks could have bought them at a much lower price than S$2200, since the retail price of 1 bike is S$2250. What worse, NParks bought the bikes at a high price of S$2200 from a non-authorised reseller which do not and cannot offer the official five-year frame warranty and two-year parts warranty. WTF!