Article originally appeared in TalkingSingapore.com
The 2nd day of Court hearing to determine the Ministry of National Development's (MND) request to appoint an independent auditor to safe-guard public S&CC grants to AHPETC, as well as to determine if earlier public funds had been misappropriated, reached a startling conclusion.
Legal Counsel for MND, Aurill Kam, laid out the facts of the case and it was revealed that AHPETC is technically insolvent. In short, without immediate help from the Government, the opposition run town council of Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East would run out of money for essential services as soon as next month (June 2015). This charge was not disputed by AHPETC.
Ms Kam said that it would not be an overstatement to say that the Workers' Party-run town council is "technically insolvent" and that the town council had been "economical with the truth", when its leaders told Parliament in February that it had been making transfers to the sinking fund for 2014. Payments to the fund are to be made quarterly, but at that time, the town council had already missed the payment for the third quarter.
MND maintains that unless independent accountants are appointed, fresh grants that are disbursed to the town council will not be protected, and there can be no assurance that serious steps will be taken to credibly review whether there have been any wrongful payments, breach of duty, or unlawful conduct so far.
In the mean time, residents of AHPETC have to seriously think if they can live with the consequences of their Vote. Essentially, what the Worker's Party is saying is that if your town council runs out of money, you will just have to suffer lift breakdowns and dirty corridors until the next general election. To Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Khiang, how they run the opposition ward is something between them and the voters. It is not for the Government nor the courts to intervene. To them, you live with your choice for better or for worse. AHPETC belongs to the Worker's Party and WP is the law.
The decision of the Court has serious implications for the next Singapore General Elections. If the Courts agree with the Worker's Party that there is nothing the Government can do, opposition supporters need to think carefully before they cast their protest votes. Many opposition supporters have been frivolous with their votes as they believed that even if the opposition does not do a good job, the Government would not just let things be because we’re all taxpayers after all and the grant are really taxpayers’ money.
Anyway, it’s in court now. Even if the residents decide that they wanted to do anything, there is nothing they can do. Perhaps Mr Lee was right. You vote for WP, you will repent at WP's leisure. Nobody can do say or do anything about any failure, including misappropriation of money and bankruptcy, in the Republic of AHPETC.