Sengkang Town Council Gets Lawyers Who’ll Help Them For Free, Will Make Up Independent Panel

When the Workers’ Party (WP) took over Sengkang Town Council (SKTC), one of the things that had people wondering was: What would happen to its role in the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) lawsuit against 5 then town councillors?

That’s because SKTC would be taking over the running of Punggol East Single-Member Constituency (SMC), which used to be under Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC).

And PRPTC is also suing the town councillors, which include WP leaders Pritam Singh and Sylvia Lim, and former WP chief Low Thia Khiang.

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Well, it seems the case will go on after SKTC appointed an independent panel to handle the case on its behalf, comprising 2 senior counsels and 1 law professor. These 3 panel members have graciously agreed to work for free.

SKTC announced the appointment of the Independent Panel in a Facebook post on Tuesday (8 Sep).

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Panel comprises 2 lawyers, 1 law prof

The panel is made up of:

  1. Senior Counsel Kenneth Tan
  2. Senior Counsel Lok Vi Ming
  3. Law professor Kevin Y.L. Tan

(From left) Senior Counsel Kenneth Tan, Senior Counsel Lok Vi Ming, Professor Kevin Tan
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Calling the 3 members “distinguished persons”, the SKTC statement said the panel will exercise SKTC’s powers to make all decisions relating to the case.

They have also agreed to work for free.

Background on the members

Here’s some background on the 3 members of SKTC’s Independent Panel.

Mr Tan was an excellent student when he was National University of Singapore’s (NUS’) Law Faculty, coming in top of his class every year. He eventually graduated with 1st Class Honours in 1983.

He was also among the first batch of senior counsel appointed in 1997, and was the youngest to be appointed at the time. Kenneth Tan Partnership, his law firm, was founded in 1998.

Mr Lok has more than 30 years of advocacy experience, and served as president of the Law Society of Singapore in 2013 and 2014. He was also formerly vice-president of the Singapore Academy of Law.

The Senior Counsel has formed his practice, LVM Law Chambers, as a mid-sized dispute resolution practice that’s ideal for representing clients against established institutions and organisations.

Prof Tan is an adjunct professor at the NUS Law Faculty and is a noted public law scholar who graduated from NUS and did his Master’s and Doctor of Juridical Science in Yale.

He specialises in Constitutional and Administrative Law, International Law and International Human Rights, and is widely published, having written and edited more than 40 books on the law, history and politics of Singapore.

Independent panel to be impartial at all times

According to the Independent Panel’s Terms of Reference, the 3 members are supposed to be independent and impartial at all times.

While they’ve been appointed in their personal capacities, they will also act in the best interests of SKTC, and not take any direction or instruction from any other person.

They may not be paid for their work, but they’ll be compensated for any expenses incurred while exercising their powers on SKTC’s behalf.

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PRPTC to transfer all assets & liabilities on 28 Oct

According to SKTC, PRPTC will transfer all its assets and liabilities with regards to the former Punggol East SMC to SKTC.

That includes legal proceedings, and covers the appeals over the AHTC case, which will be heard at the Court of Appeal on 18 Sep.

These transfers will be made on 28 Oct.

SKTC said by appointing the Independent Panel, it’s showing that it’s “fully committed” to ensuring the fairness and transparency of all decisions taken regarding the AHTC case.

That’s especially important as both AHTC and SKTC are now being run by WP MPs.

SKTC thanks panel members

SKTC has thanked and shown appreciation to the 3 panel members for taking up the roles.

We think the appointment of the panel is a necessary move in order to show that the AHTC case will proceed fairly amid concerns that it’s become a case of “ownself sue ownself”.

Let’s hope for a fair resolution to the appeals, so MPs can have more time to serve residents.

Read also:

AHTC Wants To Add Claims To Case Already Decided, WP Defendants Say It’s Abuse Of Court Process

Featured image adapted from Facebook.