The Workers’ Party’s Aljunied-Hougang Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) ceased to be managed by a Managing Agent on 15 July, WP MP Lee Lilian said on her Facebook page on late Thursday night.
“For the last few months, my fellow MPs and I have been busy with the handover. Preparation for this day started as early as Feb this year,” Lee wrote, adding that she had been tasked with recruitment to build a team of staff capable of managing the estate.
Recruiters placed notices on the boards across the seven divisions managed by WP, a method which attracted applications. “I’m very heartened to note that despite the recent saga experienced by the TC, we have residents who wrote in to express their interest to join the TC. Although not all were found to be suitable, I am very touched to see residents coming forward,” Lee said.
The Auditor-General’s Office flagged lapses following an audit of AHPETC’s accounts. The town council was also accused of impropriety by members of the People’s Action Party, who said WP had hired FM Solutions and Services Pte. Ltd. (FMSS) – run by longtime WP supporters – and paid them more than managing agents for other town councils.
WP has said that the contract to manage the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council following the 2011 general election was given to FMSS without a public tender to ensure a “smooth takeover of town management“. However, public tenders were called in 2012, 2014 and 2015 for Managing Agents (MA) and Essential Maintenance and Services Unit (EMSU) services.
In response to the allegations that WP had paid FMSS more than other managing agents, WP chairman Sylvia Lim pointed out that the rates paid to managing agents in PAP town councils had dropped in 2014, and that it is not fair to compare rates to a “weighted average” without taking into account the different requirements of various town councils.