Speaking on the first day of the AHTC trial, lead counsel for Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Counicil Davinder Singh said that public monies received are not meant for town councillors to benefit their friends and families, and property values will drop if they do not do their job properly.
Mr Singh said the values of homes are “dependent” on how town councillors and officers behave, and misconduct “not just affects the pockets of the residents and drains public funds, it can cause property values to diminish”.
“For many, their homes are their most valuable assets. Town Councillors and officers are therefore duty bound to protect their value.”
Mr Singh said that Workers’ Party chaiman Sylvia Lim and former WP chief Low Thia Khiang, chairman Sylvia Lim and other defendants “have come ready to use the witness stand as a soapbox to score political points”, instead of using the occasion of the inquiry to “show remorse” for their lapses.
He said the defendants have resorted to “disingenuous defences” when they took the matter to trial, and “in doing so, they have advanced a narrative that bears very little resemblance to the objective facts and contemporaneous documents”.
Mr Singh said that town councillors and officers of town councils are custodians of residents and public monies, those monies are given to town councillors and officers “not to benefit friends and supporters but to carefully and prudently spend for the benefit of the residents and the estate”.
He referenced the accountants’ reports by KPMG and PwC, which have made it “overwhelmingly clear” that non-compliances, lapses and failures stem from a “complete and reckless disregard” of their duty to protect public monies.
This trial will determine whether Mr Low, Ms Lim and WP secretary-general Pritam Singh are liable to compensate the S$33.7 million that they are alleged to have wrongfully paid to FMSS between 2011 and 2015.
FMSS is standing trial for receiving improper payments made in breach of fiduciary duties, and dishonest assistance of breach of fiduciary duties.
Other defendants in the lawsuits include town councillors Chua Zhi Hon and Kenneth Foo Seck Guan.