AHTC trial has a silver lining

Perhaps witness for Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC), Mr Goh Thien Phong, a partner at accountancy firm PWC (Goh) is not the best choice for AHTC. Based on his performance in court as reported by the press, he seems to give the impression that PWC's internal communications is not well managed. He also comes across as rigid and illogical.

Goh said in court that its report was based "on available evidence". Does this mean that if new evidence were to be adduced, he would change his report?  What is the definition of "available evidence"? Would evidence that he ought to have seen but had not seen due to PWC's own poor internal communication fall into what would constitute "available"? What falls into the bracket of "available evidence" should include all information that PWC ought to have known. This would include information that was passed on to PWC whether or not Goh had seen it himself. If information that PWC ought to have seen and considered was not reviewed because of its own gaps in internal communication, this cannot be the responsibility of the Workers' Party (WP).

Goh went on to state that he had not found it necessary to seek the views of the defendants, including that of managing agent FM Solutions & Services's (FMSS) Ms How (How) because his report referred to KPMG's findings, and any feedback that she had given to KMPG would have been addressed in its report. Is Goh admitting in open court that it does not do its own due diligence but relies on the reports of a competitor? This surely does not bode well for the practices of PWC.

Goh also declared that any perspective Ms How might have provided would not have changed his report. This begs the obvious question – How would have known that How's feedback would not have changed things if he never even had the chance to hear what she may have said? Is KPMG infallible? Does Goh possess the gift of mind reading?

Goh's testimony reeks of high handedness that is light in logic. It displays the misplaced arrogance of those who hold high position, who feel they can make decisions and statements without evidence or verification.

Up till Goh's testimony, I had considered this case to be a waste of resources. Now that Goh has given some testimony, I see a silver lining in the proceedings – the trial has exposed the uncomfortable possibility that opposition councils are held to a far higher standard than PAP managed ones, that our top accountancy firms may be just as poorly run as what they are alleging of the WP run town council; and the possibility that state resources have been used misguidedly to take down opposition politicians.

What are we going to do about it?