The Ministry of National Development (MND) on Fri (13 Dec) evening said that it has received a reply from the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) regarding its rationale behind not requiring the recusal of two Workers’ Party (WP) Members of Parliament from its financial affairs.
A MND spokesperson told The Straits Times that it has “received and is reviewing AHTC’s reply” regarding its decision to continue permitting the involvement of Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Khiang in its financial affairs.
Previously on Thu (5 Dec), MND requested information from AHTC on the town council’s reasons behind not requiring the recusal of the two town councillors, following the recent High Court judgement in Oct.
MND in its Town Council Management Report (TCMR) for the financial year 2018, which covers the period from Apr last year to Mar this year, expressed its concern regarding whether the measures implemented under the advice of KPMG, the auditing firm appointed by AHTC pursuant to a Court order in 2015, “are adequate to guard against a recurrence of the past control failures if Ms Lim and Mr Low continue to be involved with AHTC’s financial affairs”.
“MND notes the recent High Court judgment in October 2019 which found that Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Low Thia Khiang, both elected town councillors of AHTC, had acted dishonestly and in breach of their fiduciary duties, and that their conduct had lacked integrity and candour.
“Despite these serious and grave findings, AHTC has resolved during its recent quarterly meeting that Ms Lim and Mr Low do not need to recuse themselves from AHTC’s financial matters.
“In this regard, MND has written to AHTC on 4 December 2019 to request for information on AHTC’s reasons for not requiring Ms Lim’s and Mr Low’s recusal on AHTC’s financial matters, and on whether AHTC intends to implement other interim measures or safeguards,” said the ministry.
MND urged AHTC to “take interim measures to safeguard its procurement and payment processes immediately” in the name of “good governance”.
“Until and unless the Court findings in respect of Ms Lim’s and Mr Low’s conduct are reversed by the appellate Court, they remain good and should be taken seriously by AHTC,” MND added.
The ministry said on Thu that it will deliberate on whether regulatory action needs to be taken in order to ensure the proper safeguarding of public monies entrusted to Town Councils upon AHTC’s response.