It would appear that the Workers’ Party (WP) has taken the moral high ground in relation to Ang Mo Kio Town Council’s (AMKTC) alleged lapses in management. Instead of lambasting the PAP constituency with accusations of fraud, the WP has chosen to respect the sanctity of ongoing investigations by not speaking out and risk misleading the public.
This is in direct contrast to the approach certain individuals within the PAP government took when the WP led Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) came under fire for mismanagement of AHTC funds. Minister for Home Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmuggam was then quoted making remarks that implied that it was a forgone conclusion that AHTC had indeed been fraudulent despite the fact that independent third party auditors, KPMG were still investigating.
Given that Mr Shanmugam is a high ranking minister whose words will be widely publicised and repeated, I wonder if it is the best course of action to have made premature statements before the verdict is out? Could it have the effect of misleading the public of fraud where there in fact was none?
Were the roles reversed, would the PAP have taken legal action for defamation? Based on its track record, I would have thought that highly likely.
Now that KPMG has found no evidence of fraud in AHTC, could the WP take actions for defamation too?
I am not suggesting that they should. I have merely observed the differences in approach by the two differing political parties.
Town councils are a very important part of Singaporean society and the work that they do should be top notch. Any hint of corruption should be rigorously investigated and eradicated. However, for any investigation to be fair and effective, it should be uncompromised by statements made by influential individuals. Isn’t that part of the reason why jury trials were abolished in Singapore?
The last thing we want is for an investigation as crucial as this to be unduly prejudiced by unfounded rumours and public perception. I am heartened that the WP has taken the discreet approach that it has.
The AHTC debacle is now over. However, I can only hope that in future cases, all politicians take the discreet approach and not fan the flames of speculation.