Verdict on Friday for Workers' Party town council trial over Chinese New Year event

(From left) Defence lawyers Peter Low and Terence Tan together with Mr Png Eng Huat and Mr Pritam Singth of the Workers' Party. The verdict in the trial of the Workers' Party (WP) town council for allegedly flouting the law in holding a Chi
(From left) Defence lawyers Peter Low and Terence Tan together with Mr Png Eng Huat and Mr Pritam Singth of the Workers' Party. The verdict in the trial of the Workers' Party (WP) town council for allegedly flouting the law in holding a Chinese New Year event without a permit is expected to be delivered on Friday. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

SINGAPORE - THE verdict in the trial of the Workers' Party (WP) town council for allegedly flouting the law in holding a Chinese New Year event without a permit is expected to be delivered on Friday.

National Environment Agency (NEA) prosecutors and lawyers for the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) summed up their arguments before District Judge Victor Yeo at a State Court hearing on Tuesday.

The town council has maintained that its event in Hougang Central, held from Jan 9 to Jan 30, was a "community event" or a "mini-fair" held on a common area that it was managing, and so did not require a permit.

It has said this was so under Section 18 of the Town Councils Act - which spells out that a town council is to "control, manage, maintain and improve the common property of residential and commercial property in the housing estates".

NEA prosecutor Isaac Tan argued that it was never the intention of Parliament to give town councils "unfettered powers" in the management of their estates. Rather, they need to adhere to regulatory bodies, and not "be given carte blanche to do whatever it wants".

Under Section 35 of the Environmental Public Health Act, a permit is required for "any temporary fair, stage show or other such function or activity".

The event involved five stalls selling festive decorations, cookies, flowers, assorted fruit and potted plants in a 560 sq m space between Blocks 811 and 814 for 23 days.

This fits the ordinary meaning of a temporary fair, said the NEA lawyers.