An independent panel acting on behalf of AHTC has taken WP MPs Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim and Pritam Singh to court over supposed misappropriation of Town Council Funds.

But this case still leaves many questions unanswered.

And it is indeed curious. If the WP MPs in question did misappropriate funds, why hasn’t there been an investigation by the CPIB or the Commercial Affairs Department to date? Thus far the public has heard accusations after accusations, smears after smears but there has been not one investigation. Well, one can say that the Town Council Act does not provide for criminal penalties for such acts. But didn’t the PAP recently amended the Town Council Act? But somehow the amendment still did not contain any criminal penalties for the wrongdoing the WP MPs have been accused ad nauseam. And this is curious. Because if indeed the WP MPs are guilty of wrongdoing, why not close the loophole and get them into hot water and move on?

Could it be because the PAP knows that if criminal proceedings are commenced the outcome would be that they would be caught with their pants down, like the incident concerning the late J B Jeyaretnam when the Privy Council found that he was framed by Lee Kuan Yew’s government for a similar wrongdoing the current WP MPs are accused of? And so it is better to use alternative routes such as civil suits where the mechanism in place allows the incumbent to fix the Opposition without leaving fingerprints via the wall of bureaucratic procedures?

That is not the end of the questions. The independent council that commenced the lawsuit is headed by Philip Jeyaretnam. It is a known fact that Philip Jeyaretnam has close ties with the incumbent through his seat in the council of presidential advisors and his position in the public service commission. This is not to say definitively that Philip Jeyaretnam was acting under orders from the government or that the PAP has a hand in it, but that possibility cannot be ruled out either, given Philip Jeyaretnam’s ties to state institutions, which should raise even more questions about the nature of this affair. Whilst it can be argued that he is the son of the late J B Jeyaretnam, however, it is to be noted that sons do not necessarily follow the paths of their fathers. Janil Puthucheary, Ong Ye Kung, Murali Pillai and Janadas Devan all had fathers who had run-ins with the PAP but they are now holding positions in government and the incumbent.

Lastly, the timing of the case also raises questions. The lawsuit, it is to be noted, was filed against the WP MPs within the same month the WP took on the incumbent with regards to the appointment of Lucien Wong as AG and the nature of lawsuits undertaken by the PAP against critics and opponents which certainly led to a degree of embarrassment for the incumbent and led to questions asked about the way politics and government are done in Singapore. The scene concerning AHTC has been strangely very quiet until then and once Low Thia Khiang took on ESM Goh on the PAP’s defamation suits, a careful observer of Singapore politics could see AHTC coming out from the horizon once again. As mentioned, Philip Jeyaretnam’s ties to the incumbent makes the timing of the lawsuit even more questionable. Not to mention the nature of the charges. The charges of misappropriating the money is one neither the courts or KPMG has found the WP MPs to be guilty of. Even to date the PAP dares not tread into this area. And if there was indeed such as case it would have been found out in running developments like the City Harvest case and not only after the WP held the PAP to a vigorous debate concerning Oxley-gate which left the incumbent with an egg in the face.

To put it this way, the nature of the charges appear to be the same old (unfounded) charge in a new guise – that the WP took money from the man on the street and gave it to their friends. But somehow to date neither KPMG nor the courts have found any arrangement that has been in place for fraudulent intent nor any act of fraud from the arrangements AHTC took. Even the Auditor General mentions the problems AHTC faces as technical ones more than legal ones or questions of fraud and in fact AHTC fared better than the PA which has consistently received “adverse opinions”.

To end off on a curious side note, thus far there has been no lawsuits from independent councils on the incumbent thus far for its overspending on the YOG, the overpaid bin centre, the PA’s adverse opinions and contracts without tender, a CCC Chairman from Sembawang GRC who approved payments to his own company, the lift injuries/deaths in HDB flats, a company ran by grassroots leaders that breached safety regulations leading to the Upper Changi Road East accident and the process that led to the award of tender to the company or similar lapses in the Gardens by the Bay or the AMKTC double hatting case or a government project in Nee Soon GRC awarded to a company ran by incumbent MP Lee Bee Wah or at the very least an investigation of a similar nature to that AHTC and the WP are facing. And the question is why.

N Chen
A.S.S. Contributor

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