fbpx
Low

WP comes out swinging, sets record straight on AHPETC

Low
Low

After almost two years of badgering by the ruling party, all three chairpersons of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) stoutly defended their town council’s record and performance at the Workers’ Party’s (WP) rally in Hougang on Wednesday night.

The party’s secretary general, Low Thia Khiang, also gave an impassioned chastisement of the People’s Action Party (PAP) for grossly exaggerating the issues involving AHPETC, and for wanting to find fault with it when there was none.

“Let me tell you, I’ve tolerated them for very long,” Mr Low told the huge crowd, which responded with loud cheers.

“But we had to have time and focus on resolving the financial issues,” he explained. “It is important to get things right first. No point trying to explain before this.”

And to even louder cheers, he said:

“Now, we have settled the accounts!”

He said AHPETC has submitted its latest financial statement to the Ministry of National Development (MND) and to Parliament.

“The issues raised in the AGO report, and most of the outstanding issues, have all been resolved,” said Mr Low.

As with an earlier statement from AHPETC, Mr Low reiterated that if government grants of $7.2m were factored in, the town council would have a surplus of $1.7m.

Mr Low then took aim at the MND which has refused to hand over the grants, which all town councils receive from the government.

“You heard what Png Eng Huat said just now,” Mr Low said, referring to the vice-chairman of AHPETC, and Member of Parliament (MP) of Hougang. “The PA, despite all the financial lapses, is still being given grants.”

The PA (People’s Association) was found to have numerous financial and accounting lapses by the Auditor General’s Office (AGO) in its audit, the results of which were published in July.

Nonetheless, the PA’s operating budget this year was increased by 100 per cent – from $500m to $1b.

“But grants for us, they say they cannot give us,” Mr Low told the crowd.

“This is double standards.”

“If we include this $7.2 million, our town council will still have a $1.7 million surplus.

“We have no deficits.”

Crowd at WP rally [Photo: Bhavan Jaipragas]
Crowd at WP rally [Photo: Bhavan Jaipragas]
Mr Low said the PAP has been trying to find fault with the WP and AHPETC so that Singaporeans would be afraid of voting for them.

From the washing of markets, to residents – because they are poor – owing service and conservancy charges – to town council matters, and even how much the managing agent makes in profit, the WP is being blamed for all these, Mr Low said.

He told the crowd: “The PAP is using the financial issues regarding the town council to show that the Workers’ Party cannot run town councils. They tell everyone that they should not vote the Workers’ Party because WP doesn’t know how to run town councils – we don’t know how to do accounting, we lose money.

“But they forget – they had used residents’ service and conservancy charges to invest – $16 million invested in Lehman Brothers which collapsed and all the money was lost!”

Mr Low said, “Shouldn’t the PAP MPs go and demand for the lost money from the PAP?

“The PAP asks the Aljunied residents to demand money from us – then why hasn’t it also asked residents to demand money from the PAP [for the losses]? Wouldn’t that only be fair?

“They point the finger at others but fail to point at themselves.”

Mr Low, who is also MP for Aljunied GRC, told the crowd to be mindful of the smears that the PAP is throwing at the WP.

“Dear friend, think about it,” he said. “In Singapore, if we had committed any criminal offence, we would already been thrown in jail!

“If there were any corruption, would they still leave you alone?”

While Mr Low accepted that the town council had some shortcomings, he said most of the issues raised in the AGO audit have now been resolved.

“However, some other things need more time,” he said.

Mr Low then related how things were when the WP took over the running of the town council from the PAP in 2011 after the last elections.

“When the town council was handed over [from the PAP], they tool the entire computer system!” he said, to loud jeers from the crowd.

“And all the data, the information in it.. there are some things.. let me tell you frankly, I told the government that if some things cannot be settled, it is because of you, not because of us.”

Mr Low then highlighted one important fact.

“But the most important is after the inspection of the accounts, they found no criminal offence.

“But the PAP is making it like we have committed some big offence, and grossly exaggerated the matter.

“But today, we are still firmly standing here.”

Mr Low dismissed the claims made by the government, including how payment cheques were allegedly signed off by the husband and wife of the managing agent who also held positions in the town council.

“[The PAP] said in the newspapers, ‘Wah, inside your town council husband and wife can do what they want and things can be approved easily.’ That’s rubbish!” Mr Low said.

“The Worker’s Party is a responsible party. In 2011, when we took over the town council, the first and most important thing was, because we engaged a company to handle matters, when it comes to the issuance of cheques, if they were not signed by the chairman or vice-chairmen of the town council, the cheque will not be approved. No way it will be approved, the bank would not approve it.”

But the PAP did not stop at such allegations, Mr Low told the crowd.

“They also said we awarded contracts to friends. This is false.

Low [Photo: Pauline Tan]
Low [Photo: Pauline Tan]
“When we took over the town council, there was no tender for the contract,” Mr Low explained, referring to the town council’s first year in operation. “This was made known to the Ministry of National Development.”

He explained that all subsequent contracts were subjected to open tender. And in open tenders, anyone can submit bids.

“The result of such tenders must also be published and made opened.

“How would we be able to award them to friends? I would be beaten to blue and black!”

Despite all these, however, including subjecting AHPETC to a 10-month audit by the AGO, the AHPETC has not been found to be involved in any criminal offence.

But the PAP is not satisfied, Mr Low said.

“Now, they are still digging into the town council. The AGO had spent 10 months, 10 months, auditing our accounts – which was why we had no time to submit our other reports – they spent 10 months inspecting our accounts, they wanted to dig but they found nothing.

“Despite having found nothing, they were not satisfied!

“Now, they are digging the company which was engaged to run the town council. They said the company earned lots of money.

“This is exceptionally unreasonable.

“They make money we are also blamed.

“But the money is made by them, not us.”

“The PAP found a small hole, and they excitedly started to dig at it.”

“The PAP will never be satisfied. It will find fault in other areas again.”

Mr Low then urged supporters and voters to not be cowed.

“They want to destroy us,” the WP leader said. “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid!

“We the Workers’ Party have braved storm and wind, and we will proudly and courageously walk through them!”

———————-

The video and translation of Mr Low’s Teochew speech:

“In the 2011 general election, because of voters’ support of the Workers’ Party in Hougang, Aljunied and Punggol East has forced the People’s Action Party to change policies. And because of these changes, they have benefited all Singaporeans. This is Singaporeans’ credit.”

“These last four years, the government has made quite big changes to policies which have affected Singaporeans. This is a good thing.

“But as for the Workers’ Party, the PAP has been putting obstacles in its way. Washing markets, residents – because they are poor – owe service and conservancy charges – town council matters, and even now how much other people’s company makes, they also want to blame it on us.

“Actually, a general election should be about national issues, Singaporeans expectations and future. But the PAP wants to use this town council issue to taint Workers’ Party.

“So, I cannot not explain tonight.

“Our town council had some shortcomings. The government inspected our accounts and said some things needed improvements.

“It issued a report, and most of the issues raised in it have now been taken care of. However, some other things need more time.

“When the town council was handed over [from the PAP], they tool the entire computer system!

“And all the data, the information in it.. there are some things.. let me tell you frankly, I told the government that if some things cannot be settled, it is because of you, not because of us.

“But the most important is after the inspection of the accounts, they found no criminal offence.

“But the PAP is making it like we have committed some big offence, and grossly exaggerated the matter.

“But today, we are still firmly standing here.

“Dear friend, think about it. In Singapore, if we had committed any criminal offence, we would already been thrown in jail!

“If there were any corruption, would they still leave you alone?

“PAP has talked so much, but that doesn’t mean they are right!

“The Worker’s Party is a responisble party. In 2011, when we took over the town council, the first and most important thing was, because we engaged a company to handle matters, when it comes to the issuance of cheques, if they were not signed by the chairman or vice-chairmen of the town council, the cheque will not be approved. No way it will be approved, the bank would not approve it.

“But they [PAP] said in the newspapers, ‘Wah, inside your town council husband and wife can do what they want and things can be approved easily.’ That’s rubbish!

“But there was more. They lso said we awarded contracts to friends. This is insinuation.

“When we took over the town council, there was no tender for the contract. This was made known to the Ministry of National Development.

“All subsequent contracts were subjected to open tender. And in open tenders, anyone can submit bids.

“The result of such tenders must also be published nd made opened.

“How would we be able to award them to friends? I would be beaten to blue and black.

“Now, they are still digging into the town council. The AGO had spent 10 months, 10 months, auditing our accounts – which was why we had no time to sbmit our other reports – they spent 10 months inspecting our accounts, they wanted to dig but they found nothing.

“Despite having found nothing, they were not satisfied!

“Now, they are digging the company which was engaged to run the town council. They said the company earned lots of money.

“This is exceptionally unreasonable.

“They make money we are also blamed.

“But the money is made by them, not us.

“The PAP is using the financial issues regarding the town council to show that the Workers’ Party cannot run town councils. They tell everyone that they should not vote the Workers’ Party because WP doesn’t know how to run town councils – we don’t know how to do accounting, we lose money.

“But they forget – they had used residents’ service and conservancy charges to invest – $16 million invested in Lehman Borthers which collapsed and all the money was lost!

“Shouldn’t the PAP MPs go and demand for the lost money from the PAP?

“The PAP asks the Aljunied residents to demand money from us – then why hasn’t it also asked residents to demand money from the PAP [for the losses]? Wouldn’t that only be fair?

“They point the finger at others but fail to point at themselves.

“Let me tell you, I’ve tolerated them for very long.

“But we had to have time and focus on resolving the financial issues. It is important to get things right first. No point trying to explain before this.

“Now, we have settled the accounts!

“And we have submitted them to the Ministry of National Development and Parliament.

“The issues raised in the AGO report, and most of the outstanding issues, have all been resolved!

“Our financial statements of 2014/2015 – if we include the $7.2 million government grants, this $7.2 million grant is being withheld by the government, they don’t want to give to us.

“You heard what Png Eng Huat said just now – the PA, despite all the financial lapses, is still being given grants.

“But grants for us, they say they cannot give us.

“This is double standards.

“If we include this $7.2 million, our town council will still have a $1.7 million surplus.

“We have no deficits.

“The PAP found a small hole, and they excitedly started to dig at it.

“Let me tell you. PAP’s rat hill, I am not sure if it is a big matter or a small matter, NEA jumped to it quickly. Must help, don’t play, it is PAP’s ward. They spent a few weeks to catch all the rats.

“Let me tell you: if this rat hill was in Workers’ Party constituencies, we will be held to account no end.

“So, I hope to discuss with everyone: all of you need to help, help and see to make sure they don’t let the rats run over here.

“The PAP will never be satisfied. It will find fault in other areas again.

“They want to destroy us. Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid!

“We the Workers’ Party has braved storm and wind, and we will proudly and courageously walk through it!

“Dear friends, let me tell you, the PAP is behaving strangely.

“It has been the government for 50 years, but today it is speaking all kinds of strange things.

“Talk about what rooster, talking nonsense.

“So, let me tell you, for the sake of our country, and for our children and our grandchildren’s future, on 11 September, you must vote Workers’ Party.

“Thank you!”