The Town Councils Act provides for continuity before and after a parliamentary election, where a town council (TC) handover may be necessitated by changes in electoral boundaries, reconstitution of towns, or a change in political parties ("Ensure proper town council handover" by Mr Yeo Chee Kean; Wednesday).
First, when Parliament is dissolved and all MPs cease to hold office as town councillors, the TC will appoint from its non-MP town councillors an acting chairman to oversee the operations of the TC.
The acting chairman will hold office until the new MP(s) is elected. A newly elected MP will assume office as town councillor immediately after the election.
Second, the validity and enforceability of a TC's contracts are not affected by a handover, and these contracts remain valid and enforceable by the successor TC until, by the terms of the contracts themselves, the contracts expire or are terminated through mutual agreement.
This covers all contracts, including contracts for managing agent services, cleaning, estate maintenance, cyclical works and computer and financial systems.
Third, there are established processes for the transfer of property between TCs due to electoral boundary changes and/or reconstitution of towns.
These include proper accounting of assets and liabilities, which are audited by an independent auditor to ensure the statements declared by the handing-over TC are true and fair, and that receipt, expenditure, investment of monies, acquisition and disposal of assets, and proper accounting and other records are kept in accordance with the provisions of the Town Councils Act.
All TCs have a duty to their residents to carry out the handing and taking over in a professional, fair and timely manner, to ensure continuity of services.
Christine Yap (Ms)
Ministry of National Development
This article was first published on September 19, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.