GE 2015

PAP responds to Low's charges on town council

DPM Teo Chee Hean (right) and Charles Chong, candidate for Punggol East, meeting residents while on a walkabout at Rivervale Plaza on Sept 6, 2015.
DPM Teo Chee Hean (right) and Charles Chong, candidate for Punggol East, meeting residents while on a walkabout at Rivervale Plaza on Sept 6, 2015. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

The saga on town councils refuses to go away even as the People's Action Party (PAP) tries to shift voters' focus to national issues.

The PAP yesterday responded to the Workers' Party (WP) accusation the previous day that the ruling party had misled voters on the financial state of Punggol East SMC.

Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council chairman Zainal Sapari said Punggol East had a surplus of $21,363 in 2013, after taking into account $303,372 which could be claimed from an estate upgrading fund.

The constituency did not have a $282,009 deficit as claimed by WP chief Low Thia Khiang, wrote Mr Zainal in a Facebook post. At a rally on Saturday, Mr Low waved a page on the financial statement showing the alleged deficit.

Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC's anchor minister, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, also weighed in, noting that his town council had handed more than $22.5 million in cash to Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) in 2013.

This amount included sinking funds and project funds.

"Mr Low very dramatically showed one page of the accounts. There are 20-over pages in the accounts, so we should really look at the whole set of accounts," Mr Teo told reporters at a walkabout.

"We were very careful to hand over everything that was due to our residents here... We wanted to do right by them."

The PAP lost Punggol East to the WP in a by-election in 2013 after Mr Michael Palmer, its MP and Speaker of Parliament, stepped down.

Veteran PAP MP Charles Chong, who is seeking to unseat WP's Lee Li Lian in Punggol East, said Mr Low was "probably misguided" when he gave the wrong figures.

"Most of my residents are pretty confused about this," Mr Chong said. "We want to extricate Punggol East out of this mess... start afresh."

PAP organising secretary Ng Eng Hen said the party will put the facts on record.

"If Mr Low agrees with the facts, he may have to issue a correction. I hope he's gentlemanly enough to accept that he was wrong in this regard," Dr Ng added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2015, with the headline 'PAP responds to Low's charges on town council'. Print Edition | Subscribe