Low Thia Khiang: Workers' Party will respond in Parliament to audit report on town council

SINGAPORE - Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang said on Wednesday night - the eve of a Parliament sitting that will scrutinise major lapses in governance and compliance in the financial statements of his party's town council - that he will address the issues in the House.

"I'll say what I want to say in Parliament," he told reporters, when asked to comment on the Auditor-General's report on the Aljunied-Houngang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

He was speaking before his Meet-the-People session at Bedok Reservoir Road. Mr Low is the MP for the Bedok Reservoir-Punggol division of Aljunied GRC.

The audit report, released on Monday, identified major lapses in five areas. These include the management of the sinking funds and arrears in service and conservancy charges paid by residents, as well as the governance of related party transactions leading to conflicts of interest.

Among other things, the Auditor-General's Office found that AHPETC failed to manage properly potential conflicts of interest from related party transactions that amounted to $25.9 million and involved its senior staff.

Four of the town council's senior officers - secretary Danny Loh Chong Meng, general manager How Weng Fan, and deputy general managers Yeo Soon Fei and Johnson Lieow Chong Sern - had stakes in its managing agent FM Solutions & Services and had verified work and approved payment on behalf of AHPETC to their own company in some instances.

During the Parliament sitting on Thursday, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan will present for debate a motion that calls on Parliament to note "with concern" the report and findings by the Auditor-General. The motion will also call for support for the strengthening of laws for town councils, "in order to hold those responsible for their good management to proper account". - Additional reporting by Tham Yuen-C