On the campaign trail

PAP and WP spar again over AHPETC

The People's Action Party and the Workers' Party sparred again over financial lapses at the opposition-run town council, with Law Minister K. Shanmugam saying WP should treat Singaporeans with

respect "by telling them the truth".

But the debate between the two sides, which surfaced in 2013, may be tapering off after dominating the first week of the hustings.

Speaking at a walkabout at Chong Pang market in Nee Soon GRC, Mr Shanmugam said Hougang Town Council (HTC) had a deficit before merging with Aljunied Town Council (ATC) on May 26, 2011.

He was responding to WP chief Low Thia Khiang, who said at a rally on Thursday that HTC had a surplus of over $80,000 before merging with ATC after the WP won Aljunied GRC at the 2011 election.

Mr Low's comment was made in response to statements from the PAP that ATC's surplus was used to cover HTC's deficit.

Said Mr Shanmugam yesterday: "First, I think Mr Low should look at his March 31, 2011 audited accounts. Those are the accounts for the entire year and they show a $91,800 deficit and an accumulated deficit of over $8,000. It's clear, it's there in black and white."

Singaporeans should be treated with respect by being told the truth, he added.

HTC's statements showed a deficit of $91,807 for the year ended March 31, 2011, and that some spending was not captured in the two months before the merger.

Mr Shanmugam said it was WP which broached the issue of lapses at the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) at the hustings, before adding that PAP believed in focusing "on the future and who can best serve Singapore".

"Integrity is a key issue. The record is there, what they have said in Parliament... Rather than getting sucked into (the AHPETC issue), I would prefer to say we have made our points... Whether (WP) answered the questions... people can go and look at it."

Mr Low, at a walkabout in Chong Pang, said Singaporeans can make their own judgment by going through AHPETC's audited accounts for financial year 2014/15, which have been made public.

Separately in Fengshan, WP chairman Sylvia Lim added that "this election should focus on national issues".

• Additional reporting by Danson Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline 'PAP and WP spar again over AHPETC'. Print Edition | Subscribe