Sengkang Town Council appoints independent panel to handle pending court appeals

The panel will review previous instructions and advice to Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC's lawyers and decide what position to take in relation to the appeals. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The Sengkang Town Council has appointed an independent panel consisting of two lawyers and a law professor to handle all matters related to the pending appeals against a High Court judgment involving Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC).

The move follows the impending transfer of all assets and liabilities relating to the area of Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC that now forms part of Sengkang GRC to the new Workers' Party-run Sengkang Town Council (SKTC).

"The appointment of the independent panel is in furtherance of the SKTC's previous public statement that it is fully committed to ensuring that all decisions taken in relation to the management of the appeals are fair, transparent and in accordance with the law," said SKTC in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 8).

PRPTC had earlier filed the ongoing civil suit to recover alleged losses incurred by the former Punggol East SMC when it was under the Workers' Party from 2013 to 2015.

The former single seat is now part of Sengkang GRC, and returned to Workers' Party's hands at the recent general election.

This means that SKTC has taken over the management of this lawsuit.

The independent panel, which has agreed not to charge a fee, will "at all times act independently and impartially in the best interests of SKTC", said the town council in its statement.

It was formally appointed on Sept 5 and consists of Senior Counsels Kenneth Tan and Lok Vi Ming, as well as Dr Kevin Tan, an adjunct professor at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) law faculty and a public law scholar.

Mr Tan graduated with first-class honours from NUS and was among the first batch of senior counsels appointed in 1997, the statement noted. Mr Lok served as president of Singapore's Law Society in 2013 and 2014.

The panel's terms of reference state that all three are appointed in their personal capacities.

"The fact that other persons in their organisations have been or may be engaged by or have any dealing with SKTC, including on matters potentially relevant to the work of the independent panel, would not of itself give rise to a justifiable doubt as to the independence of the members," it added.

The panel will review previous instructions and advice to PRPTC's lawyers and decide what position to take in relation to the appeals.

It will also have the power to appoint experts, such as accountants or consultants, to help with its work.

Although they will not be paid a salary, the three panel members will be reimbursed by SKTC for expenses that they may incur during the course of their work. This includes, for instance, engaging legal advisers or a secretary.

The panel will provide updates and reports to SKTC on the progress of its work and the exercise of its powers, and make decisions by a majority vote of its members.

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