WP responds to charges of 'silence' over town council red flags

Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim (left) has responded to an article written by Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, which suggested that the opposition party's silence on its town council's finances and delay in submitting f
Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim (left) has responded to an article written by Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, which suggested that the opposition party's silence on its town council's finances and delay in submitting financial reports may hint at "bigger problems". -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO/ LIM SIN THAI

SINGAPORE - Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim has responded to an article written by Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, which suggested that the opposition party's silence on its town council's finances and delay in submitting financial reports may hint at "bigger problems".

In a statement yesterday, Ms Lim said Mr Wong may not have known that the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) had already explained to the Ministry of National Development (MND) its problems in churning out reports on service and conservancy charge (S&CC) arrears in the required format.

Giving assurances that AHPETC has been helping the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) with its special audit of the town council's finances, Ms Lim said the audit findings and AHPETC's audited accounts will be made public when the audit is finished.

Once that happens, "more productive discussions can be entered into", she said.

"In the meantime, I urge Minister Wong not to confuse or alarm the public by speculating on whether the S&CC arrears situation has worsened or whether AHPETC is facing 'bigger problems'," she added.

Ms Lim also thanked "the People's Action Party (PAP) ministers for repeatedly reminding Singaporeans of the issues that are close to our heart".

She noted that "the public can expect that the PAP will be the first to hold WP to account", and that "the PAP government has all the investigative arms within its disposal to hold WP to account on any matter under the sun".

AHPETC has been in the spotlight over a sharp rise in its S&CC arrears as at April 2013 - after which it stopped submitting its monthly arrears reports - as well as matters of corporate governance. It earned the worst scores islandwide in these two areas in the latest annual report card of town councils, released last month.

In his article, which was published in The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao yesterday, Mr Wong had accused the WP of "lying low and keeping its head down" in the face of "repeated questions", and of failing to be transparent and accountable to its residents.

His remarks came weeks after Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee levelled similar accusations at the WP.