They’re all auditing lapses, but they’re not the same thing. The troubles at AHPETC and the issues raised by the Auditor-General in its report are different.
In very short points, here’s what’s wrong with AHPETC:
There is money unaccounted for
There is a conflict of interest. The same people having commercial gain in the managing agent (FMSS) are also the same people on the Town Council’s board
Their own auditors refused to certify that their books are absolutely clean
And the most disturbing point: there is no statement of assurance from them that they’ll set things right. Which isn’t surprising, because by doing so is an admission that things have gone wrong within the Workers’ Party and the AHPE Town Council.
The Government departments are mostly about not adhering to a set of procedures.
The People’s Association has made a press statement with a set of instructions on how it intends to get its officers to set things straight (CNA: People’s Association takes immediate action to rectify lapses flagged by AGO). One of these include putting in place a system to manage all 1,800 of their Grassroots Officers and 37,000 grassroots leaders and volunteers. This will be done in the shape of a “Grassroots Finance Review Committee”, designed to review and streamline financial rules, and propose measures to enhance compliance with financial rules.
The Government of Singapore does not take kindly to matters that smells anything like corruption. High level Government directors and officers had been criminally charged for matters as simple as a $700 iPad, corporate gifts and Brompton bikes.
It is the attitude towards wanting to maintain a clean and corrupt free administration that is what makes this country so successful.
This exchange between Workers’ Party’s Png Eng Huat and MOS Josephine Teo explains most clearly the laissez-faire attitude taken by the AHPETC towards the same Auditor-General.
When told about the AHPETC discrepencies, Png Eng Huat simply asked the Parliament “Which other Ministry doesn’t commit mistakes?”
The swift rebuke by Minister of State Josephine Teo went something like: “Never had any of the Ministries and Organizations taken an Auditor-General’s report so lightly. When a mistake is found, parties scramble to resolve and ensures it never happens again.”
Perhaps the AHPETC could observe what these organisations will do, and learn a thing or two from them.
(Correction: Earlier we wrote that Josephine Teo is a Parliamentary backbencher. She is not. This has been corrected.)