Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim did not inform the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council's (AHTC) then secretary about a waiver of tender for its new managing agent despite knowing she had a duty to do so for him to discharge his duties, the court heard yesterday.
This emerged on the third day of her cross-examination by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, when Ms Lim conceded that given the town council rules, then secretary Jeffrey Chua needed to know that AHTC had waived a tender and appointed FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) as its managing agent in July 2011.
Section 20 of the Town Councils Act says that a town council's secretary is responsible for its "proper administration and management".
"For Mr Chua to discharge his duty... you would have to share with him the fact of the binding commitment, the fact that no tender had been called and the fact that there had been a waiver," Mr Singh said.
"With hindsight, I agree with you," Ms Lim replied.
But she contended yesterday that although she did not specifically tell Mr Chua about the waiver of tender, he already knew of it.
Ms Lim and seven other defendants are being sued over alleged improper payments of millions of dollars stemming from the appointment of FMSS.
Yesterday, Mr Singh questioned Ms Lim about a July 6, 2011, e-mail she sent to Ms How Weng Fan, a majority owner of FMSS and then deputy secretary of AHTC.
In it, Ms Lim asked if it would be all right to defer the formal appointment of FMSS until after Aug 1, when incumbent managing agent CPG Facilities Management was due to step down - or if it was necessary to get the town council to waive the tender first. In the latter scenario, CPG would "needlessly" be involved, as Mr Chua was AHTC's secretary and CPG's managing director.
Mr Singh noted that CPG was still the managing agent for AHTC in July, to which Ms Lim replied that CPG would not be interested in details of the new agent's appointment as they already wanted to leave. She later added the details were not of concern and not relevant to CPG.
Asked if CPG said they had no interest in matters that would normally be tabled at town council meetings, Ms Lim said this was implied in their communications.
The Senior Counsel later asked Ms Lim if Mr Chua knew there had been a waiver of tender, to which she said: "He would have known."
Mr Singh then put it to Ms Lim that she was inconsistent, in first saying there was no need for CPG to know about the waiver, and later saying Mr Chua already knew.
Ms Lim disagreed, and said Mr Chua would have known there was a new managing agent appointed and that no tender was called.
"He doesn't know the terms and conditions, and he didn't need to know that," she said.
Noting that Ms Lim had earlier said the matter was not of Mr Chua's concern, Mr Singh charged: "The reason you changed your evidence is that you realise that you breached Section 20. You caused and created a situation together with your fellow elected MPs, of putting a secretary in a situation where he could not discharge his functions. Isn't that the reason for your sudden change in your position?" he asked.
Ms Lim paused for about two minutes before replying: "I will just say that (Mr Chua) was an outgoing secretary, and he knew what was needed. That is all I will say."
After repeated questioning, Ms Lim conceded: "I agree that (Mr Chua) did not know the full details... that seemed to be required under Section 20."
Mr Singh said she again did not answer his question. After another long pause, he said: "You have now had many chances to answer that question. A lot of time has passed."
Ms Lim replied: "Well, Mr Singh, I have to agree... what we did was what we felt was necessary that the handover was smooth and in the interest of the residents."