Sengkang Town Council's independent panel appoints lawyer to act in appeal

Following changes to the electoral boundaries in GE2020, Punggol East is now in Sengkang Kang GRC. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Law firm Tan Kok Quan Partnership has been appointed to act for an Independent Panel tasked by the Sengkang Town Council (SKTC) ) to handle matters related to a court appeal involving Workers' Party (WP) MPs Sylvia Lim and Pritam Singh plus others.

Court documents show Ms Marina Chin, joint managing partner of the firm, was formally appointed on Oct 28, 2020, the vesting date on which the assets and liabilities of Punggol East single-member constituency (SMC) were transferred to SKTC.

The newly-formed SKTC has taken over the management of the former Punggol East SMC, which used to be under Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC). But following changes to the electoral boundaries in GE2020, Punggol East is now in Sengkang Kang GRC.

SKTC subsequently appointed the Independent Panel to decide how it should proceed with the appeal.

The panel, comprising law Professor Kevin Tan, Senior Counsel Kenneth Tan and Senior Counsel Lok Vi Ming, has been tasked to handle all matters on the pending appeals against a High Court judgment involving PRPTC.

PRPTC had filed the lawsuit to recover alleged losses incurred by the former Punggol East SMC when it was under the WP from 2013 to 2015. It initiated the civil suit after the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) had taken the same defendants to court.

The WP town councillors as well as the PRPTC have filed an appeal against the High Court judgment last year which ruled, among other things, that WP chairman Sylvia Lim and then general secretary Low Thia Khiang had breached their fiduciary duties to the town council. Mr Singh, the WP's secretary-general who is Leader of the Opposition, was found to have breached his duty of skill and care.

The Supreme Court was notified last month about Ms Chin's appointment as counsel.

The formal appointment of counsel for the Independant Panel in relation to the appeal is understood to suggest that SKTC could succeed PRPTC as the party to continue in the appeal with court approval.

Singapore Management University's Assistant Professor of law Benjamin Ong said SKTC is "likely" to seek a court order to replace PRPTC as a party to the suit. He added the court may on its own motion order PRPTC to be substituted by SKTC under the Rules of Court.

The hearing before a five-member Court of Appeal, comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Appeal Court judges Andrew Phang, Judith Prakash and Tay Yong Kwang as well as Justice Woo Bih Li, is due to be heard later this month.

The PRPTC case is one of three appeals scheduled to be heard.

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