AHTC Lawsuit Hearings Kick Off On Friday

On Friday (5 October), Workers’ Party (WP) MPs Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim and Pritam Singh head to the High Court for what appears to be the legal showdown of the year.

The trio faces lawsuits related to their handling of the Aljunied-Hougang (AHTC) and Punggol East town councils.

MustShareNews rounds up and answers common questions about the entire AHTC saga:

AHTC is bringing on the lawsuits. Why is the Town Council suing its own chairman, Mr Singh?

The people behind the lawsuit are actually the three members of an independent panel appointed at the direction of HDB. Its members are:

  • Senior counsel Philip Jeyaretnam, son of J B Jeyaretnam and brother of Kenneth Jeyaretnam
  • Senior counsel N. Sreenivasan
  • KPMG managing partner Ong Pang Thye

More on this panel down below.

How much are they being sued for?

  • Ms Lim and Mr Singh are being sued for S$2.8 million for the wrongful appointment of architects.
  • AHTC also wants the 3 MPs to account for $33 million spent between 2011 and 2015. The panel wants the MPs to repay any money wrongfully paid out.

What led to all of this?

In case you haven’t been able to keep up with the back-and-forth, here’s a handy timeline of the saga:

2011

  • WP snatches Aljunied GRC from PAP, kicking out 3 cabinet members.
  • WP hires FM Solutions & Services Pte Ltd (FMSS) as its Managing Agent for the newly-formed Aljunied-Hougang Town Council.
  • This is done without a tender. Ms Lim later explains that this is because “urgent taking over work was needed”.

2012

  • WP calls its first tender for the management of AHTC. The tender is repeated in following years.

2014

  • WP-run AHPETC submits its audited accounts for FY2012/2013 6 months late.
  • Then-Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam directs the Auditor-General’s Office to audit AHPETC’s accounts. The Town Council is given a red grade, suggesting it is the most-poorly run TC in Singapore.
  • PAP and WP engage in a war of words over the matter.

2015

  • Ms Lim announces that WP will run its town council itself, after no one responded to the party’s 3-week tender for a managing agent. Read her open letter to residents here.

2016

  • KMPG alleges “serious flaws” in AHTC’s governance. The auditor flags the TC’s relationship with former managing agent FMSS and essential maintenance service unit contractor FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI).

2017

  • AHTC appoints an independent panel to review the findings of the KPMG report. Commenting on the decision, Mr Singh said,

AHTC believes that it is in the interests of AHTC and its residents to appoint an independent panel to review the findings and take such action as deemed appropriate to safeguard AHTC’s interests.

  • This independent panel eventually sues six AHTC staff, including Mr Low, Ms Lim and Mr Singh.

Featured image from Workers’ Party’s Facebook.