WP town council 'misleading' about funds transfer issue: Zainal Sapari

Mr Zainal Sapari, chairman of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, on April 19, 2016,  took issue with the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council for implying his town council had been slow in the transfer of the funds.
Mr Zainal Sapari, chairman of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, on April 19, 2016, took issue with the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council for implying his town council had been slow in the transfer of the funds.BH PHOTO: JOHARI RAHMAT

SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party (PAP) town council that manages Punggol East constituency has countered that the Workers' Party (WP) town council is being misleading, in an ongoing exchange over the transfer of sinking funds.

Mr Zainal Sapari, chairman of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC), on Tuesday (April 19) took issue with the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) for implying his town council had been slow in the transfer of the funds.

This drew a response from AHTC chairman Pritam Singh, who said that PRPTC had taken "close to 20 months" to hand over the money.

The issue arose following a change of hands in the constituency. In 2013, the WP won Punggol East in a by-election. In last September's general election, the PAP won it back.

Mr Zainal recounted in a Facebook post that PRPTC had made two transfers totalling $18 million in sinking funds to the former Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) within four months of losing Punggol East.

He said this amounted to 80 per cent of the $22.5 million due to AHPETC, renamed AHTC after last year's election. His town council made a third transfer of $3 million in May 2014, after submitting the constituency's audited financial statements.

The final $890,092 was transferred in September 2014, after PRPTC "helped (AHPETC) to understand their queries about the accounts", he added.

Mr Zainal was responding to Mr Singh, who had said on Monday that PRPTC had taken over 20 months to hand over the sinking funds.

Mr Zainal said: "The media release by AHTC is misleading to infer (sic) that PRPGTC was slow in transferring the sinking funds to AHPETC."

The saga started after Punggol East MP Charles Chong said last Thursday that AHTC had not handed over all the sinking funds after last year's election.

Mr Chong said AHTC had transferred only an "interim amount" of $10 million, and the exact amount due is being worked out. He added that PRPTC had been more prompt in transferring sinking funds to AHPETC in 2013.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr Singh said Mr Zainal's Facebook post confirms what he had said about PRPTC taking 20 months to transfer the money.

He added that Mr Zainal "is strangely silent on MP Charles Chong’s incorrect factual remarks".

In his statement on Monday, he had said that AHTC will hand over the sinking funds in several installments, just as PRPTC had done.

He said AHTC will ensure all sinking funds are transferred to PRPTC "in due course".

On Tuesday, Mr Zainal noted PRPTC had transfered 80 per cent of the sinking funds to AHPETC within four months of the constituency being lost.

"Compare that to the current situation, where PRPTC has received only $10 million of sinking fund from AHTC and it has been more than four months since the handover date," he said.

He added: "I hope AHTC can get their qualified accounts in order and make the second interim sinking fund transfer as soon as possible."

leepearl@sph.com.sg