AHTC unwilling to comply with recusal motion by Parliament

In a reply to the Ministry of National Development’s (MND) press release, the Aljunied Hougang Town Council implied that the non-compliance with recusal is because of “good performance”. 

On the 30th of November, the town council voted 17 to one against the recusal in a secret vote during a quarterly meeting recently. This led MND, the governing body that regulates town councils under the Town councils Act, to write to AHTC on the 4th of December to request to know the reasons for not complying. 

“For good governance, AHTC should take interim measures to safeguard its procurement and payment processes immediately,” said a spokesperson for the MND. “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.”

The Ministry also requested for AHTC to answer if it would intend to implement other safeguard and interim measures in the management of their finances. 

In their reply on the 5th of December, the AHTC pointed that in 2018 the MND issued the AHTC tree ratings for Lift Performance, S&CC Arrears Management, and Corporate Governance, and amber ratings for Estate Cleanliness and Estate Maintenance.

Also that it was working alongside audit firm KPMG to resolve control-related issues flagged for correction. 

However the elephant in the room has not yet been addressed. All the above would not have been achieved and that their mismanagement (as charged by the courts) were allowed to fester. It took public organisations many, many years since 2011 when the problems were first brought to light. It even took a general elections for Punggol East to be won back to the PAP for the books to be uncovered, without which it would have been even more difficult to expose the mismanagement.

For a party that wants to keep the government in check, it is ironic that it is the government keeping their shortcomings, breach of duties and failure to comply with auditors in check and under public scrutiny. They have refused to acknowledge these year after year, case after case and only until exhaustive inquiry were they willing to acknowledge some responsibility. 

The Ministry of National Development should act for two reasons:

1. To prevent further breaches and

2. To send a signal to other town councils, present and future that this sort of governance will not be condoned.

The MND was reported to have said that “Upon receiving AHTC’s response, MND will further consider whether regulatory action needs to be taken in order to ensure the proper safeguarding of public monies entrusted to town councils”. 

The public will be watching eagerly.

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