Workers' Party

AHPETC issues 2 statements on Punggol East accounts

Mr Low Thia Khiang, secretary-general of WP, devoted a Mandarin speech for a fiery retort to claims that AHPETC was in financial crisis, during the campaign rally in Jalan Besar.
Mr Low Thia Khiang, secretary-general of WP, devoted a Mandarin speech for a fiery retort to claims that AHPETC was in financial crisis, during the campaign rally in Jalan Besar. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

The Workers' Party (WP) town council went on the offensive yesterday against the People's Action Party (PAP) over the accounts of Punggol East.

It issued two statements - one dismissing PAP claims that the constituency was in the black when the WP took over, and another to say it had released the audited accounts of the constituency online.

The WP has come under PAP attack from the start of the campaign period for lapses in the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

Last Saturday, WP chief Low Thia Khiang raised the issue of Punggol East's accounts, when he held up a page of accounts showing an operating fund account deficit of $282,000.

He said this was contrary to the PAP claim that the constituency had a surplus when it was handed over to the WP in 2013.

PAP candidates and ministers responded right away, but the AHPETC came back yesterday, singling out Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean for bringing up an "irrelevant and misleading" point.

Commenting on the finances of Punggol East, Mr Teo had said the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council handed over $22.5 million to AHPETC.

Yesterday, AHPETC said the $22.5 million was for the town council's sinking fund, and the sum is "not relevant when discussing operating surpluses or deficits".

It also took PAP Punggol East candidate Charles Chong to task for saying in a Lianhe Zaobao interview that Punggol East had a surplus of $1 million when the WP took over in 2013.

AHPETC said it had no evidence of that and was obliged to set the record straight.

It said it had "not received any clarification" on the issue, even though Defence Minister and PAP organising secretary Ng Eng Hen had said the ruling party would issue a "definitive clarification".

Yesterday, the WP also hit out at the PAP over the Government's immigration policy, saying that it had hurt businesses.

While on a walkabout in Simei, WP East Coast GRC candidate Gerald Giam defended his party's proposed curbs on foreign manpower growth and said it was the PAP that caused the problems in the first place by allowing an influx of foreigners from 2000 to 2009.

When the Government turned off the tap for foreign workers, the sudden policy change hurt businesses the most, he said.

"Businesses are able to adapt, but they need time to plan, forecast what the labour projections are going to be and the pipeline of labour coming in. Where there's a sudden policy change, that's what hurt businesses more," added Mr Giam.

•Additional reporting by Danson Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'AHPETC issues 2 statements on Punggol East accounts'. Print Edition | Subscribe