One of the major lapses by Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council cited in the supposedly damning report put out by the Auditor-General’s Office on Feb. 9, 2015, is that conflicts of interests were not managed properly.
For the AHPETC’s case, it involved transactions worth $25.9 million between the town council and its managing agent.
And these conflicts had arisen as four of the town council’s senior officers had stakes in its managing agent FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) and had verified work and approved payment on behalf of AHPETC to their own company in some instances.
But having individuals who have a hand in both town council and managing agent pie is not rare.
Here is a comparison:
People’s Action Party
Party supporters or members of the People’s Action Party and Workers’ Party have their perks: They do get hired by town councils or are closely involved with the managing agents appointed by town councils.
For example, for the incumbent side, Ho Thian Poh, who is secretary of the PAP-run Jurong Town Council, is a member of the party.
He is also the managing director of the town council’s managing agent, Esmaco Township Management.
This fact has been public knowledge.
On the other hand, for the opposition side, FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) is majority-owned by Danny Loh and How Weng Fan.
The couple are long-time WP supporters and were assentor and proposer to the WP candidates who contested Ang Mo Kio GRC in the 2006 General Election.
They are a husband-and-wife team who are also employed by Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council.
Since Aug. 1, 2011, Loh has been secretary and How has been deputy secretary and general manager of the town council.
They formed FMSS shortly after the 2011 General Election, where Workers’ Party won Aljunied GRC.
FMSS went on to be awarded the contract to be managing agent for AHPETC.
FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI), a company owned solely by Loh, was also paid $88,200 by AHPETC for essential maintenance and lift rescue services for the period from April to June 2012.
The main difference between the PAP-run and WP-run town councils was that the WP’s AHPETC did not properly disclose or manage potential conflicts of interest.
This led to situations where the same individual issued an invoice for work done by FMSS and then approved payment from the town council for that work.
However, the disclosure of conflicts of interest should apply to both incumbent- and opposition-run town councils for full transparency purposes.