If there’s any suspicion of criminal offences, the Ministry of National Development (MND) can report Aljunied Hougang Punggol-East Town Council (AHPETC) to the Criminal Investigation Department, or the Commercial Affairs Department.
That was the challenge AHPETC’s lawyer Peter Low put forth in court yesterday – the first day of court proceedings brought by the MND to have AHPETC appoint independent accountants to audit its finances.
Mr Low argued that under the Town Council’s Act, the MND cannot bring legal proceedings against a town council.
When asked by Justice Quentin Loh if residents would just have to wait till the next election if lifts broke down or funds were mismanaged, Mr Low initially said yes.
He later clarified that there were in fact two instances in which the minister could appoint a person to perform the town council’s duties – that is when there is a failure to maintain common properties, or a failure to remove anything that could cause imminent danger to residents.
AHPETC admitted that for FY2014/2015, they had only made two transfers to the sinking fund, and that they had been late in doing so.
Quarterly transfers to the sinking fund are mandatory – and the money is used for long-term estate maintenance.
AHPETC also admitted to breaching the Town Councils Act and Town Council Financial Rules.
AHPETC chairman Sylvia Lim has said that the town council will mount a “vigorous defence” and that it will send letters of explanation to residents in due course.
“We are doing this in the interest of our residents, and we believe this court case is wholly unnecessary.”