What happened to the investigation on corruption at Ang Mo Kio town council?

More than a year has passed since the news broke on 30 Dec 2016 about the removal of the general manager and secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC), Mr Victor Wong Chee Meng from his duties and him being placed under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Mr Wong had been acting as the General Manager/Secretary for the AMKTC since 2013, under the employment of CPG Facilities Management, which is the appointed managing agent of the town council. The Ang Mo Kio town council serves the Ang Mo Kio GRC which is headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

According to PAP Member of Parliament and town council chairman, Mr Ang Hin Kee, Mr Wong was asked to go on leave by his company after the town council received a complaint about him in September 2016.

Mr Ang also added that the case had been referred to the CPIB and Mr Wong was removed from his positions at the town council last month due to an earlier complaint that was received in September about Mr Wong concerning “the way he handles contracts and dealings in the town council”. He noted that the complaint “arose out of his dealings which relates to probable behaviour needing investigation done by CPIB”.

Mr Ang was quoted to have said, “Needless to say, the town council ourselves will render all the assistance needed to ensure zero tolerance for corruption…There’s responsibility on the part of our contractors to do the job properly, if they do it inappropriately then we will take follow up actions with regards to getting them replaced (and) sending the case for investigation, making sure the necessary steps are taken.”

While declining to reveal more details onto the case due to ongoing investigation by CPIB, Mr Ang notes that the town council constantly reminded its staff to declare any interests concerning tenders that the town council was awarding.

Coincidently, The Online Citizen was informed that a member of public filed a complaint with the Auditor General Office (AGO) on a case which involved in overpriced home renovations by the Ang Mo Kio town council in September that year. The member of the public was told by AGO that there does seem to be a price hike and they would conduct their investigations into the matter, no updates have been provided to the person since.

On 4 July 2017, Minister at Prime Minister Office, Chan Chun Sing answered questions filed by Workers’ Party Member of Parliament Png Eng Huat on public sector corruption cases in Parliament, on behalf of the Prime Minister.

Mr Chan said,

“In the last three years, the number of persons prosecuted in Court by the CPIB has been on a decline. In 2016, there were 104 individuals who were prosecuted in Court by the CPIB, out of which four were public sector employees. However, not all the four individuals were charged for corruption offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. To answer Mr Png’s question, the total bribe amount, or personal gains involving public servants prosecuted last year was $24,800. The CPIB takes on average less than a year to complete investigations. Nevertheless, this also depends on the complexity of the cases, many factors such as the availability of witnesses, or if the case is transnational, also affect the duration of the investigations.

For 2016, there were 13 cases from the 92 uncompleted cases that were carried forward from 2015 that took more than two years. Even though the Singapore Public Service is known to be one of the cleanest in the world, the Government remains vigilant and constantly seek new ways to maintain the integrity of the Public Service. As with all corruption cases, they start and end with humans.”

Given that the case involving Mr Wong has dragged over a year without any news of prosecution or being issued a warning by the CPIB, is the case really that complex in nature?

For the reader’s information, CPIB is managed under the Prime Minister’s Office where PM Lee is situated at, which is why Mr Png’s questions were answered by Minister Chan at Parliament.