Minister Shanmugam has always been a very logical and sensible person. His questions are absolute valid which makes one wonder what really goes on at AHPETC.
The High Court judgment on Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) underscores the fact that the “egregious conduct” of the Workers’ Party-run town council should be acted on, said Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Thursday (May 28).
Mr Shanmugam, who also stood by his previous comment that the town council’s conduct was “unlawful”, was speaking a day after the court rejected the Ministry of National Development’s (MND) application to appoint independent accountants to oversee government grants to AHPETC.
“The judge was scathing about the town councillors and their conduct. He said that the chairman of the WP misled Parliament. It is very serious to lie in Parliament. He said that the conduct was possibly criminal, and that the residents and Housing and Development Board (HDB) can sue them,” he said to reporters today.
Mr Shanmugam said the Attorney-General’s Chambers will be advising the MND on its next steps. “If this were to happen to a People’s Action Party town council, what do you think Singaporeans would be asking? If this were to happen to a public company, what do you think the shareholders would be saying?…Is the Government responsible if it just keeps quiet in the face of a judgment from the Supreme Court that says all these things?” he asked.
“(The judge’s) view was that the wording in the (Town Council Act) is HDB and the residents, and not MND, who can bring such an action. And that is something the Attorney-General will advise us on, as to whether it is the correct interpretation, and what they should do about it,” Mr Shanmugam added.
In his judgment released yesterday, Justice Quentin Loh had ruled that the ministry had not established the legal bases for such an order, but he noted that “there are grave and serious questions” in AHPETC’s conduct relating to its books and the validity and propriety of payments previously made to related parties.