Responding to a statement by the Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, which lambasted the Aljunied Hougang Punggol East town Council (AHPETC) team for their management of town council funds, Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim has issued a second statement today, 12 December, retorting that the MOS Lee has switched his position and that the People Action Party's accusation of transparency and accountability was a "non-starter".
Mr Lee latest charge questioned the WP leaders' integrity and national reputation, saying that they must be accountable to voters.
"What is important is AHPETC's lack of transparency and Ms Lim's and her fellow MPs' failure to be accountable," he said. "They have yet to explain why their arrears are so high or disclose what their latest arrears rate is."
"This series of excuses calls into question not only AHPETC's local competence, but also the WP leaders' integrity and national reputation," he added. "Ms Sylvia Lim in her statement yesterday put the responsibility on the Government and the AGO to establish AHPETC's true state of affairs. This is a remarkable proposition: The elected MPs of Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East, who pride themselves on checking the Government, are now relying on the Government to check them, instead of taking responsibility themselves for accounting to the public what they have done or have not done."
In response, Ms Lim pointed out that Mr Lee had switched his position, and that her last clarification puts to rest any accusation on AHPETC's accountability.
"We had pointed out that the public could expect that the PAP would be the first to hold WP to account; that the PAP government had all investigative arms at its disposal to hold WP to account for any matter under the sun, and that AHPETC was facilitating the audit of its accounts and systems by the Auditor-General’s Office and that, like all other Town Councils, its annual audited accounts would be published," said Ms Lim.
"MOS Lee has now shifted his position to say that “WP is relying on the government to check them, instead of taking responsibility themselves for accounting to the public what they have done or have not done.” We have said many times that we will account to the public in due course, and we will."
Ms Lim also noted inconsistencies in the PAP's position on the issue.
"When we said that we would explain to the public the S&CC arrears in due course, this was sarcastically labelled “the sound of silence”. When we explained to the public the circumstances why AHPETC was unable to submit the S&CC arrears report in the format demanded and that MND had refused to accept our S&CC arrears submission in our own data format, this was labelled as making excuses."
"Seeing such responses from the government is regrettable. We will leave it to the public to make its own judgement," she added.