On 14 October (Monday), Workers’ Party (WP) member and former non-constituency Member of Parliament Gerald Giam took to his Facebook to share concerns raised by citizens he encountered over the latest Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) case involving three members of the WP, including its chief Pritam Singh.
In his post, Mr Giam said that while he was distributing food in Fengshan last weekend, many worried residents asked him about the court case.
Just a few days earlier (11 October), the High Court found WP Aljunied GRC Members of Parliament (MPs) Pritam Singh, Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Khiang liable for damages against AHTC and the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC).
Judge Kannan Ramesh, in his written judgement, ruled that Lim and Low as town councillors had acted in breach of their fiduciary duties to AHTC.
He reasoned that such breach of fiduciary duties was evident in the waiver of tender leading to the award of the first managing agent (MA) contract to FM Solutions & Services (FMSS).
The waiver, said the judge, was “not justified under the Town Council Financial Rules (TCFR), and that subsequently, Lim and Low had “failed to act in AHTC’s best interests and had acted for extraneous purposes”.
The evidence shows that there was a clear plan for FMSS to replace the incumbent MA CPG regardless of CPG’s intention as regards the existing MA contract, and that this decision was made by Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Low Thia Khiang shortly after the 2011 General Elections,” said Justice Kannan.
Commenting on Singh’s role in the case, Justice Kannan said that while “it cannot be said that he has breached his fiduciary duties to AHTC” based on the available evidence, the former had breached his “duties of skill and care” to the Town Council in relation to the award of the first MA contract.
All three MPs may now owe the two town councils part S$33.7 million in claims, but the exact amount will only be determined in a “future second stage of the trial”.
If the damages are large enough to classify them as bankrupt, then the trio could be disqualified from being MPs or contesting elections.
As such, Mr Giam said in his post that an elderly resident asked him about the court judgment as she couldn’t really comprehend what is happening after she watched it in the television. “With deep concern on her face, she asked if the amount our MPs had to pay was ‘banyak’ (a lot),” he wrote.
Besides the senior woman, another elderly friend of Mr Giam also rang him up and said he was upset about the whole incident, while another one texted him to convey a message to WP’s MPs that “you had our backs, now we have yours”.
Looking at all the support he has been receiving, Mr Giam expressed that he is touched that “many Singaporeans have stepped forward in solidarity during these trying times.”
In the comment section of his post, many netizens penned their support for the opposition party and its members. They said that they will be with the Party during this difficult time and expressed words of encouragement, with some even offering monetary help.
Others voiced their dissatisfaction towards the People’s Action Party (PAP) as they don’t seem to be bothered about Singapore’s high cost of living. They also pointed that PAP has “overstayed its presence” and it is “losing badly in the Court of Public Opinion”.
Facebook user JlackHeNg Lim said that although WP is not the MP in his area, but he will continue to support the opposition party and hope that it will win in the upcoming general elections.