CPIB investigates Changi Motorsports Hub

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

Did you read this in today”s The Straits Times and The Business Times? There’s another report here which has slightly more details. This isn’t the first time I’m hearing about this (for obvious reasons I didn’t report it) so it’s no surprise to me, but I can’t help heaving a huge sigh. Like me, I’m sure many motorsports enthusiasts out there are highly anticipating the construction of Changi Motorsports Hub as it will greatly boost the scene here and give our drivers a place to call “home”.

 

First it was the delay of the construction. Then mid-last month Christopher Tan wrote in The Straits Times that construction has finally started and that it is still targeted for completion by end this year for the 2012 season. I feel sad reading about all the corruption and the unhappiness between the management behind what is possibly the next big milestone in Singapore motorsports (Formula 1 is an example of a big milestone).

 

I just hope things will be sorted out and that the construction of the circuit will not be too affected. Maybe the best solution is for the government to just take this into their hands and fund it. That will solve most of the corruption or whatever “black money” issues that can potentially arise. I think the rest of the motorsports community who are not involved in the building of the Changi Motorsports Hub don”t really care about whatever internal bleeding that happens within the company as long as the track comes up. Agree?

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Extracted from www.straitstimes.com:

Jan 6, 2011

Motorsports hub tender under probe

By Terrence Voon

 

THE Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) has begun a probe into the tender for the $380 million Changi Motorsports Hub. Sources told The Straits Times that a senior official at the motorsports industry development arm of the Singapore Sports Council as well as others involved in the deal have been called up for interviews and lie detector tests.

 

Investigations were said to have begun last year, after the CPIB was tipped off about possible irregularities in the tender for the upcoming motorsports hub, which was won by the SG Changi consortium in March. The tender was announced in 2009, and the winner was picked by a panel of government agencies and consultants.

 

SG Changi – fronted by home-grown Jurong Kart World along with its Japanese partners – eventually beat two other bidders for the right to build the 41ha facility off Changi Coast Road. The other two consortia who put in bids were Singapore Agro Agriculture and Sports Services, which was backed by public-listed leisure and health-care products firm Haw Par Corporation.

 

In March last year, government figures praised the winning bid for its innovative 3.7km track design which allows for two races to be staged simultaneously; the quality of the international and local events to be brought in, and the group’s financial strength. Aimed at cementing Singapore’s reputation as a regional motorsports hub following the first Formula One (F1) night race here in 2008, it is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

 

The Changi track is slated to host its first race early next year, and there has been talk of it staging a MotoGP leg, motorcycle’s equivalent of F1. The tendering process for the mega-project was handled by the sports council’s motorsports department, which was set up in recent years to promote the sport here. It is staffed by a small group of officials, some of whom were seconded from other government departments.

 

Sources said the senior official at the centre of the probe is known as a passionate champion of motorsports here, and his involvement in the investigations has come as a shock. The CPIB case – which has been going on for months – is believed to have been extended to include the consortium, which received its permit to start work from the authorities last month.

 

It was also reported last month that SG Changi’s director Genji Hashimoto, a former race driver, had resigned suddenly. He has since been replaced by businessman Moto Sakuma. When contacted yesterday, both the CPIB and Mr Sakuma declined to comment. Mr Alvin Hang, the sports council’s director of corporate communications and relations, also said: “We are unable to comment on this matter at this point in time.”

 

It is not known if the investigations have been conclusive so far. But according to Mr Chia Boon Teck, a partner at Chia Wong law firm, lie detector tests are standard in graft cases where the evidence is not clear-cut. He said: “These tests are not compulsory, and it is up to the suspect whether or not to undergo it.”

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Extracted from www.businesstimes.com.sg:

06 Jan 2011

CPIB looks into Changi Motorsports Hub deal

Sources say CPIB is investigating award of the tender to the winning consortium

By NISHA RAMCHANDANI

 

(SINGAPORE) The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) is looking into the tender awarded by Singapore Sports Council (SSC) to build the upcoming $380 million Changi Motorsports Hub, BT understands. When contacted, the CPIB said it was unable to comment. However, a source told BT that the probe relates to the award of the tender for the Changi Motorsports Hub to the SG Changi consortium and whether there was any information leakage during the tender process, which would have given one party an advantage over the other parties.

 

There is also talk that one or more SSC staff involved with the tender for the project had been looking at joining SG Changi some months ago, which ultimately did not materialise. SG Changi declined to comment when contacted. SG Changi was awarded the tender in March last year, pipping Singapore Agro Agriculture – the company behind food-and-retail mall Turf City – and Haw Par Corporation-backed Sports Services to operate the Changi Motorsports Hub for a 30-year period.

 

BT understands from a source that SG Changi is co-operating with the CPIB and that the consortium insists that no money changed hands during the tender process. In response to queries from BT, a spokesperson for the SSC said: “We are unable to comment on this matter at this point in time.” It hasn’t quite been smooth sailing for SG Changi since it first won the bid in the first quarter of last year to build and operate the Changi Motorsports Hub.

 

For starters, the consortium saw a management reshuffle last year, with former Japan GT driver Genji Hashimoto – previously SG Changi’s managing director – leaving the group while Japanese businessman Moto Sakuma came onboard as director. Other members who constitute the group include executive chairman Fuminori Murahashi as well as director Thia Yoke Kian, the former owner of Jurong Kart World.

 

Construction of the facility also took a while to kick off, with piling commencing late last year, despite the group breaking ground in July on the 41-hectare sea-facing site near Changi Airport. According to a media report in December, SG Changi reportedly said that it still hopes to have the motorsports hub completed by the original target of end-2011, with the first race to take place as early as March 2012.

 

“SG Changi has already started piling works and completion is on track by end-2011,” an SSC spokesperson confirmed yesterday.

 

Located along Aviation Park Road, the Changi Motorsports Hub will include a Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Grade-2 certified 3.7 km racetrack, a 1.2 km karting track, a drift track, a bonded warehouse and seating capacity for some 20,000 spectators plus a 10,000-seat temporary grandstand. It aims to host a calendar of both local and international racing events, including the Formula One of motorcycling, MotoGP. The round-the-clock facility will also feature an entertainment complex, a motor museum, food and beverage and retail outlets as well as a hotel.

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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