MND accuses FASS of taking advantage of AHPETC

The Ministry of National Development today (29 Aug) released a statement on the accounts of FM Solutions and Services (FMSS). FMSS served as the Managing Agent (MA) for the Workers’ Party run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) from 15 July 2011 to 14 July 2015.

The press release comes a day after the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) unveiled their candidates who will be contesting Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) in the coming general elections.

Gross Profiteering

MND used “gross profiteering” to describe FMSS’ actions.

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Breaking it down, MND provided us with some figures:

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AHPETC is FMSS’ sole client, which makes the numbers all the more startling as they money couldn’t have come from anywhere else.

MND says the finding supports their earlier concern that FMSS had been overpaid excessively which would have contributed to AHPETC’s operating costs. AHPETC observed an operation deficit of $1.5 million in Financial Year (FY) 12/13 and a further deficit of $2 million in  FY 13/14.

Background information on FMSS

According to the FMSS website,

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FMSS was started by the husband and wife team of Danny Loh and How Weng Fan in 2011. Mr Danny Loh passed away June this year while on holiday.

The couple are long-time WP supporters. Ms How has been working for WP Chairman since the 1990s.

Together, the coupled owned 70% of the shares in FMSS.

Letter to Sylvia Lim

MND had written a letter to Immediate Past-Chairman of AHPETC, Sylvia Lim, with the intention of checking whether Ms Lim knew the extent of profiteering in FMSS.

The letter also asks if she examined past transactions of the Town Council with FMSS, and wanted to know how she intended to recover the money from overpayments.

Sylvia Lim’s Response

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In a reply letter directed at Han Kok Juan, Senior Director (Housing) at MND, Sylvia Lim expressed her displeasure at what she labelled “careless accusations” made against AHPETC. She questioned the statements made by MND and claimed they were made in order to distract the public with the aim of politically discrediting AHPETC.

She asserted the fact that FMSS was appointed MA for AHPETC after an open tender and that payments made to FMSS were made pursuant to the contracts awarded.

She highlighted that it was unfair to compare the rates charged by the MAs for the town councils under the People’s Action Party (PAP), since no bid was received from any of these MAs.

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Finally, she questioned the timing and the political motivation behind the Ministry’s press release, given that MND had not even completed a review the findings.

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Will voters be swayed?

With the upcoming general elections less than 2 weeks away, the timing of these findings being published certainly seems interesting. One can argue that the Ministry is just doing its job of giving out statements as soon as possible and to clear the air before Polling Day on 11 Sept to ensure that voters are more informed.

Meanwhile, we won’t really know if WP’s issues with AHPETC will sway the minds of voters to turn back to the PAP until results from Polling Day are out.

A host of people and organisations have had their say and have given their findings on this topic but we haven’t really quite heard from the group of people who were directly affected.

Aljunied residents, it’s your move now and the rest of Singapore will be watching you.

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Featured Image via 154thmedia 2015 (YouTube) 
With references from Ministry of National Development, FM Solutions & Services, Straits Times, Channel NewsAsia, Workers’ Party, Workers’ Party (Facebook)