WP town council to fight summons in court

AHPETC will present its case in court, says WP chairman Sylvia Lim. The trial will likely start on June 2. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
AHPETC will present its case in court, says WP chairman Sylvia Lim. The trial will likely start on June 2. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

WORKERS' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim said the Aljunied- Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) "will present its case" in court as it fights a summons for holding an alleged illegal trade fair.

The trial will likely begin on June 2, added the town council's lawyer Terence Tan, after a pre-trial conference yesterday.

The fair, held in Hougang Central from Jan 9 in the lead-up to Chinese New Year, was into its third week when the National Environment Agency (NEA) announced it did not have a licence.

Six of the fair's stallholders were issued summonses for illegal hawking. Five of them received a single summons each, and have already paid composition fines of $300, said Mr Tan.

Ms Lim, who is also AHPETC chairman, said she understood why the residents decided to pay up after speaking to them, adding that "it is inconvenient for them to go to court".

The sixth stallholder, 63-year-old Goh Kwee Leng, received three summonses over three days at the fair, and was not offered a composition fine, said Mr Tan. He is being represented by the town council's lawyers in a separate case.

Mr Tan, who is assisting lead defence counsel Peter Low and will not be claiming legal fees as he is also a WP member, said they are seeking an offer of a composition fine or a withdrawal of the summonses for Mr Goh.

When asked why Mr Goh did not take AHPETC's cue in pursuing the matter in court, Mr Tan declined comment.

Referring to the town council, he said his clients "are seeking a just and equitable determination of this matter by this court".

Between 2011 and January this year, NEA had taken operators to court for running fairs without valid licences on 15 occasions - 11 of which resulted in fines of up to $800.

According to Section 35 of the Environmental Public Health Act, "no person shall promote, organise or stage any temporary fair... without first obtaining a permit from the Director-General (of Public Health)".

Anyone who contravenes any of the Act's provisions could, where no penalty is expressly provided, be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and/or a jail term not exceeding three months.

hpeishan@sph.com.sg