AHTC lawsuits

AHTC trial: Sylvia lied to town councillors, Parliament, court: 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

WP chairman disagrees with lawyer's claim she misled them on why town council software had to be upscaled

Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim lied to her fellow town councillors, Parliament and the court by giving the false impression that the WP-led town council was forced to upscale a computer system because a software company terminated its contract, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh charged yesterday.

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, Mr Singh pointed to several documents to make the case that the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) had decided to upscale a software system even before learning on May 30, 2011, that AIM would discontinue its contract.

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 Hougang's software so it could now serve the purposes of the enlarged AHTC.

"Before May 13 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, based on past experience.

 
 
 
 

In another instance, Mr Singh noted that Ms Lim had said in her affidavit that she and Ms How were informed in early June 2011 that AIM would withdraw its town council management system.

But following questioning by Mr Singh, Ms Lim conceded that some work related to upscaling took place in May - before AHTC faced "imminent termination" of AIM's contract.

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

Mr Singh also contended that far from causing AHTC to have 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 did so only 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 Sept 9 extension was to facilitate CPG's audit work as well, she said, although 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?" Mr Singh asked.

"Bent over backwards is a very loaded phrase," Ms Lim replied.

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 opposition-run town council had to upscale its computer system because AIM terminated its contract.

"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.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2018, with the headline 'Sylvia lied to town councillors, Parliament, court: Davinder '. Print Edition | Subscribe