Based on the snippets that have been published in the press about the testimony given by Mr Goh Thien Phong (Goh), a partner of the crisis management department of auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), it is becoming increasingly obvious (at least to me) that the case brought to court by Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) against its own Chairman and other prominent members of the Workers’ Party (WP) is more form over substance. Was the case more nit pick than genuine causes for concern?
I have previously made the point that the WP needed to be judged based on the standards practiced by all other Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) town councils. The basis for comparison is the market standard and not the “ideal” standard in a vaccum. For KPMG (the other accounting firm involved) and PWC to meaningfully audit AHTC, they need to also have a comprehensive understanding of how the other town councils operate. Do they?
Goh made rather concerning statements in court. He claimed not to have seen certain emails and notes that bolster the WP’s case. In justifying why he had not seen a particular email, Goh said that the email in question was sent to an employee that no longer worked in PWC. This does not bode well for the thoroughness of PWC. An email being sent to an employee of PWC (at the time when he or she was an employee at PWC) is the same as notifying PWC. Whether that employee is still at PWC is irrelevant. It is not the WP’s problem if PWC does not have an effective way of communicating internally. Perhaps PWC’s standard operating procedure (SOP) for resignation handovers is not well thought out? Funny that fellow accounting firm KPMG had criticised the WP for having SOPs that were not well thought out. Seems like SOPs within the accounting industry may be lacking too!
KPMG had also criticised the WP for not having had control over its managing agent FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) and that trust was not the same as control. It is ironical that their industry colleagues PWC seem to suffer from the same lack of control. Clearly, Goh would have trusted fellow PWC colleagues to tell him everything he needed to know to come to a conclusion. But that trust has backfired because he has now admitted in open court that he had not seen all the documents and was in fact unaware of their existence. Clearly, PWC is also guilty of not having control!
Goh also declared that he did not consider emotional factors when reviewing how and why decisions are made. For me, that is naive to the max. The reality of life is that all decisions have an emotional element. I am not suggesting that bad decisions be excused but to discount it in totality is a fallacy of epic proportions. Things have to be looked at from a “whole picture” perspective. There are context and scenario. You cannot just look at things in isolation – especially not when you want to drag someone though open court!
Why this matter even transpired into such a big court case is beyond me.