AHTC trial: WP chairman Sylvia Lim lied to town councillors, Parliament, court, says Davinder

Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim arriving at the Supreme Court on Oct 18, 2018.
Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim arriving at the Supreme Court on Oct 18, 2018.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim lied to her other town councillors, Parliament and the court by giving the false impression that the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) was forced to upscale a computer system because a software company terminated its contract with AHTC, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh charged.

Mr Singh noted that according to Ms Lim, the termination by Action Information Management (AIM) led to an urgent need to upscale an existing management system used in Hougang to avoid a disruption of services to residents in Aljunied GRC, which the WP won in the 2011 general election.

But he put it to her that it was a false impression that she "knowingly and deliberately perpetuated", which she disputed.

During his cross-examination on Thursday (Oct 18), Mr Singh pointed to several documents to make the case that AHTC had decided to upscale a software system even before learning that AIM would discontinue its contract on May 30, 2011.

This included a May 13 letter signed off by Ms How Weng Fan, a majority owner of AHTC managing agent FM Solutions & Services, which mentioned information and documents needed by Hougang Town Council's computer vendor.

Mr Singh suggested that the reason the vendor required this information was to upscale the Hougang software, so it could now serve the purposes of the enlarged AHTC.

"Before 13 May when this letter was sent out, it had already been decided that the Hougang Town Council computer vendor would be asked to upscale the computer system, right?" Mr Singh asked.

Ms Lim replied: "It could be on the 13th itself but I agree it would have to happen before the letter was sent out."

She later said the town council had started "preparatory works" on upscaling the computer system, in anticipation of AIM terminating its contract.

In another instance, although Ms Lim said in her affidavit that she and Ms How were informed in early June 2011 that AIM would withdraw its town council management system, following questioning by Mr Singh on Thursday, she conceded that some work related to upscaling took place in May - before it faced "imminent termination".

The WP chairman is one of eight defendants in a multi-million-dollar civil lawsuit brought by AHTC and the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, which Mr Singh is representing.

Mr Singh also made the case that rather than forcing AHTC to upscale its software, AIM had given the town council all the time it needed to transition to the new computer system.

He noted that AHTC had put up a request to continue with the AIM system until Aug 31, 2011, which AIM agreed to.

The software company had earlier said on June 10 that it would be giving a one-month notice of termination, but only did so on June 22, he added.

It subsequently extended its services to Aug 31 and later, at AHTC's request, to Sept 9.

 
 
 

Ms Lim replied that the first extension was in part for the benefit of AHTC's then-managing agent, CPG Facilities Management, which needed to use the system.

The further extension was also to facilitate CPG's audit work, she added, though she agreed that it was also for the benefit of the new management.

"You see, Ms Lim, far from AIM trying to undermine AHTC or the WP, it bent over backwards to accede to the requests that were sought... do you agree?" asked Mr Singh.

Ms Lim responded: "Bent over backwards is a very loaded phrase."

Mr Singh put to her that the company agreed to give AHTC the time that it needed, despite being under no obligation to do so.

Ms Lim replied: "They agreed to do that, yes."

Mr Singh also noted that AIM's representative Sasidharan Nair had been described as helpful and nice by Ms How.

Despite this, said Mr Singh, Ms Lim had "misled everyone" that the company had terminated its contract, which is why the opposition-run town council had to upscale.

"You lied to your town council members, you lied to Parliament, you lied in this court in your defence. And even now, you don't have the honour to accept that what you did was wrong," he charged.

Ms Lim disagreed.