Workers' Party MPs Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim do not need to recuse themselves: AHTC

A photo taken on Oct 16, 2018, shows former Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang and WP chairman Sylvia Lim outside the Supreme Court. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Workers' Party MPs Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Low Thia Khiang will not need to recuse themselves from all financial matters, the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) said on Saturday (Nov 30).

The town council, in a media statement, said that a decision was made at its recent quarterly meeting, where the council voted 17 to 1 against the recusal.

The resolution was passed as a secret vote. Ms Lim and Mr Low were both absent from the meeting.

Parliament had previously voted on Nov 5 for a motion that called on Ms Lim and Mr Low to discharge themselves from all financial matters at AHTC.

The motion was introduced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat after a High Court verdict released last month found Mr Low and Ms Lim had acted dishonestly.

Mr Heng made the point that if AHTC were a company, Ms Lim and Mr Low would not be allowed to carry on in the same roles and enjoy the same degree of financial oversight over public funds.

The vote saw 52 MPs supporting the motion and all nine WP MPs voting against it.

Following the motion on Nov 7, Mr Low told reporters that he would refrain from participating in any meeting or discussion by the AHTC on whether he and fellow MP Sylvia Lim should recuse themselves from all its financial matters.

In a judgment released on Oct 11, High Court Judge Kannan Ramesh had found out that Ms Lim and Mr Low had breached their fiduciary duties towards the town council, and were liable for losses suffered by the town council, which is said to have made millions of dollars in improper payments under their watch.

Judge Ramesh also found them liable for losses suffered by Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, which had also sued to recover its share of losses incurred when Punggol East constituency was managed by the WP-led town council from 2013 to 2015.

In awarding contracts to FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) and FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI) without calling a tender, Ms Lim and Mr Low had put their own political interests above the interests of their residents, the judge said.

FMSS was brought in by the WP MPs after the 2011 General Election to provide estate management services. It was owned by the late Danny Loh and his wife How Weng Fan, later revealed to be the secretary and general manager of the town council respectively.

Justice Ramesh also found the owners of FMSS and FMSI had breached their fiduciary duty, and three other town councillors, including Aljunied GRC MP, WP chief Pritam Singh, had breached their duty of skill and care.

Mr Low and Ms Lim are challenging the High Court's decision. The points of contention include that they owe fiduciary duties to the town council; that they are liable for compensation over certain sums paid by the council; that they are not protected from personal liability under the Town Councils Act; and that they have breached Rule 74 of the Town Councils Financial Rules on tender processes.

This is according to the notices of appeal they filed on Nov 11 together with Mr Singh, and AHTC town councillors Kenneth Foo Sek Guan and Chua Zhi Hon.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.