On Sunday, Hougang MP, Png Eng Huat, said the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) will release its updated audited town council financial report soon – and said that all discussions about this would be more meaningful once the report has been released.
He said all town councils have until 31 August to submit their accounts to the government, and that the WP is working towards that.
Below is the full transcript of the statement and interview with Workers’ Party’s chairman, Sylvia Lim, in Nee Soon GRC on Sunday morning.
In it, Ms Lim addressed several issues, including where the Aljunied Members of Parliament will contest in the upcoming elections, the WP town council financials, DPM Teo Chee Hean’s remarks and why the WP is not attending the National Day Rally this year.
Ms Lim’s statement:
“There has been some speculation lately about whether any of the Aljunied MPs will be moving out of Aljunied GRC and contest in other wards. We would like to tell everyone that while all the MPs will be assisting the candidates to contest in the areas that we’ve announced, the Aljunied GRC team will remain intact to contest the coming GE.
“We have found that in the last 4 years, our experience in Aljunied has been fulfilling and at the same time, we also had our challenges as you know. Throughout this period, there have been residents have inspired us by coming forward to give us encouragement because they believe in us. So, on consideration, we decided that it is meaningful for us to remain as a team to seek their mandate for the next term.”
Q: There have been speculations that you would leave Aljunied to lead another team. What are the considerations in deciding to stay in Aljunied?
SL: As I’ve said, I believe that as a team, we feel that it is fulfilling for us to continue in Aljunied, continue the work that we have done, and we know that the residents they have stuck by us and encouraged us to continue. So, we feel that it is meaningful for us to remain in Aljunied as a team.
Q: Are we likely to see any changes in Hougang and Punggol East?
PEH: We have no change in Hougang.
Q: How about Punggol East?
SL: All the elected MPs will be staying put in their constituencies, we’ll be defending our constituencies.
Q: regarding your first Instagram post, were you surprised that it garnered such reaction from the ruling party?
SL: Well, I think it’s a pity that DPM Teo Chee Hean doesn’t seem to have a sense of humour.
Q: DPM Teo said the PAP team wants to go in [to Aljunied] to “clean up the mess”.
SL: I think we leave our residents and the public to judge on the town councils fund, whether we have shortchanged our residents, be it in estate cleanliness, maintenance, lift breakdowns, and so on. And of course there have been some statements recently asking about the financial position of the town council. Mr Png here is the chair of the audit committee, so we have an update for you.
PEH: I think as you all know, we are going to close our accounts by 31 August, that’s across the board – all town councils – and so we are working towards that. So, any discussions regarding AHPETC’s financials will be more meaningful after 31 Aug when we file our audited report.”
Q: [On Lui Tuck Yew’s resignation.]
SL: I think you better put that question to Mr Low because he was the one who asked those questions. Fundamentally, we are looking at the issue of Cabinet responsibility. We believe that the Cabinet is collectively responsible for all policy issues. So, we’re just asking.. his departure is a surprise to us.
Q: DPM Teo said there are already provisions for opposition members in Parliament. What is WP’s view on that?
SL: Singaporeans have already shown that there is a desire for elected opposition. On the opposition front, we also have to make sure that we continue to give Singaporeans credible choices, so it’s up to Singaporeans to decide whether they are satisfied with constitutionally guaranteed NCMPs or whether they would like to have elected MPs governing their constituencies.”
Q: Will WP be fielding fresh faces in other constituencies?
SL: We have said that we will probably announce our candidates when we are ready. Nee Soon is not new to us. We have contested here before and we have announced that we will be contesting here again. ”
As for reaction from residents, we don’t want to speculate. Right now, we are in the food centre. Actually there are many people here who live in the neighbouring Sembawang and we have to tell them that we are not contesting in Sembawang. So it’s very hard to gauge reaction based on people you see at a food centre.”
Q: Do you think the town council issue will affect sentiments on the ground?
SL: We leave to the residents and the public to judge what is actually going on. And as Mr Png mentioned earlier, we expect to release our updated audited figures very soon. So I think it would be more meaningful for us to talk about these issues at that time.
Q: When will WP announce its candidates?
SL: WP will announce candidates based on our own timeline. We will not look at what other parties are doing to decide when we will announce.”
Q: Will be after the National Day Rally?
SL: That’s one week’s time, right? Will be probably after that. Some time after that.
Q: WP is not going to the NDR because of some clash with a grassroots event. Some people think this is a slight on the govt.
SL: I don’t think there’s an issue really. Not sure why people are trying to create an issue out of it. We planned our dinner as SG50 National Day, last year in fact, the date was already chosen and we think it’s meaningful for us, especially as an opposition party to rally our supporters to remind everyone that what we want is to actually have betterment for Singapore as a whole. You know, I think some of these people get confused, they can’t distinguish between national interests and ruling party interests. We want to underscore the point that even if you are an opposition supporter, you can be as loyal to Singapore as any PAP supporter. We think that it is important to set the record straight. ”
Q: DPM Tharman said opposition presence in parliament had no effect on government policies.
SL: I think that will be dealt with in due course. I think it is also up to the people to come to their own conclusions as to whether opposition presence in parliament has made the ruling party more sensitive to their needs.
Q: How do think an update like this will help residents understand the issue of town councils better?
PEH: I think the last report we filed was June 3o. That was for financial year 2013/14. That’s actually one year ago… Any discussions about our financials will be more meaningful when we release our latest report.
Q: when will that be?
PEH: August 31. That’s the deadline set.
SL: For all town councils the deadline for 2014/15 is 31 August this year.