GE 2015

Talks on Punggol East transfer to start today

Tanjong Pagar residents waving to the PAP team yesterday as they rode through the estate on a lorry thanking residents for their support. Mr Charles Chong, who won in Punggol East SMC, as well as the PAP teams from Tampines, Pasir Ris- Punggol and Ja
Tanjong Pagar residents waving to the PAP team yesterday as they rode through the estate on a lorry thanking residents for their support. Mr Charles Chong, who won in Punggol East SMC, as well as the PAP teams from Tampines, Pasir Ris-Punggol and Jalan Besar GRCs also went around thanking residents.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Tanjong Pagar residents waving to the PAP team yesterday as they rode through the estate on a lorry thanking residents for their support. Mr Charles Chong, who won in Punggol East SMC, as well as the PAP teams from Tampines, Pasir Ris- Punggol and Ja
Tanjong Pagar residents waving to the PAP team yesterday as they rode through the estate on a lorry thanking residents for their support. Mr Charles Chong, who won in Punggol East SMC, as well as the PAP teams from Tampines, Pasir Ris-Punggol and Jalan Besar GRCs also went around thanking residents.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Tanjong Pagar residents waving to the PAP team yesterday as they rode through the estate on a lorry thanking residents for their support. Mr Charles Chong, who won in Punggol East SMC, as well as the PAP teams from Tampines, Pasir Ris- Punggol and Ja
Tanjong Pagar residents waving to the PAP team yesterday as they rode through the estate on a lorry thanking residents for their support. Mr Charles Chong, who won in Punggol East SMC, as well as the PAP teams from Tampines, Pasir Ris-Punggol and Jalan Besar GRCs also went around thanking residents.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Punggol East's MP-elect Charles Chong will start discussions today about transferring the ward from the opposition-held Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) to the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council.

But Punggol East's finances have to be squared before that can happen, he emphasised, so that grants from the Ministry of National Development (MND), currently withheld, can resume.

"We're taking them out of one town council, possibly merging it with the former town council which they were in - Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council," he said. "(But) we need to have a clean set of accounts first before we can merge. If necessary, maybe we will hold separate accounts until we resolve all these issues."

Punggol East merged with the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council after the WP won the ward in a 2013 by-election. Mr Chong won it back for the People's Action Party at last Friday's general election with 51.8 per cent of the vote.

Serious financial and governance lapses uncovered at AHPETC by the Auditor-General's Office led to the MND withholding grants. It also applied to the High Court to appoint independent accountants to safeguard the grants disbursed, and said it would release funds only if this condition was met.

AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

We'll try to do it as quickly as possible. If we can do it in a shorter period, so much the better.

MP-ELECT CHARLES CHONG, on the town council handover of Punggol East

Yesterday, Mr Chong said that from past experience, the handing over of a town council takes about three months.

"We'll try to do it as quickly as possible. If we can do it in a shorter period, so much the better," he said, adding that he will be briefed by the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council today, and will then approach AHPETC about the handover.

"MND has made it clear that they require a clean set of accounts before they resume funding, so we intend to get that as soon as possible. Once we have that clean set of accounts, there's no reason for MND to withhold funding from Punggol East and, with that, I think we can do so much more."

Mr Chong said he will also focus on raising service standards, with an eye on estate cleanliness and maintenance.

"Many (residents) told me that compared with the situation before the by-election, there appears to be some deterioration. Whatever it is, it should not be less than what they had before and I would definitely try to make it even better," he said, adding that he will also look into requests for covered linkways and senior citizens' corners.

Lim Yan Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2015, with the headline 'Talks on Punggol East transfer to start today'. Print Edition | Subscribe