PAP activists give out fliers on problems at AHPETC

PAP activists give out fliers on problems at AHPETC

People's Action Party (PAP) activists in Aljunied GRC, Hougang and Punggol East are going door-to-door to hand out fliers highlighting problems at the Workers' Party-run town council.

HDB households in two of Aljunied GRC's five wards - Bedok Reservoir and Paya Lebar - have received fliers in English and Chinese urging residents to ask WP Members of Parliament questions about the management and financial health of the town council.

The remainder of the initial print run of 35,000 fliers will go out to the other wards this week.

The aim, said PAP Paya Lebar branch chairman K. Muralidharan Pillai, is to reach all 55,000 HDB units under the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) and remind them to hold the WP to account.

The fliers come one month after a two-day debate in Parliament over the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) report on the troubled accounts of AHPETC.

The fliers do not have a PAP logo or say who printed them.

But volunteers distributing them wear party badges, and pictures of the fliers and of activists giving them out have been posted on the PAP Paya Lebar branch's Facebook page, said Mr Pillai.

"There should be no confusion that they are from the PAP," he told The Sunday Times yesterday.

WP chairman Sylvia Lim did not respond to a request yesterday to comment on the fliers.

The two-page flier informs residents that after AHPETC's own auditors refused to give a clean opinion on its accounts, "the AGO stepped in and found serious problems that will affect you".

The Government requested the AGO audit in February last year. In its report released last month, the AGO found lapses in governance and compliance at AHPETC. These findings were endorsed by Parliament - including the nine WP MPs - after a heated debate.

The flier gives a run-down of the most significant findings against AHPETC, highlighting improper governance, overcharging, and turning the surplus accounts into a "major deficit" in two years.

The flier says AHPETC awarded more than $25 million in contracts to run the estate to FM Solutions and Services (FMSS), and notes, in bold lettering, that FMSS was "set up just seven days after GE2011", when the WP won Aljunied GRC.

It also says, in bold, that FMSS is owned by a "husband and wife team" who are friends of WP leaders and who also work in AHPETC.

"They bill AHPETC for FMSS services, certify their own work, and pay themselves, with little checks."

FMSS is majority-owned by AHPETC general manager How Weng Fan and secretary Danny Loh, her husband.

The flier also says AHPETC had "overpaid its friends at FMSS by at least $6.4 million", and now runs a deficit - despite the fact that the PAP had handed over a town council whose accounts were in surplus.

"We do not know how bad the situation is because AHPETC has not submitted clean accounts since 2012," the flier adds.

It suggests several questions that residents should pose to their MPs, such as: "How much did FMSS and other businesses owned by the AHPETC employees earn from AHPETC?" and "What is the latest financial situation at AHPETC?"

During the Parliament debate, the WP said that there had been no criminal wrongdoing or loss of money in its contracts with FMSS.

It said the WP MPs knew of the AHPETC staff's ownership of FMSS and that the said staff had no role in the contract tender deliberations.

The WP also acknowledged lapses in management, but said these were largely borne of inexperience and human error, and that the party has since put in place safeguards to rectify the situation.

WP chief Low Thia Khiang added that FMSS was the only company to bid for managing agent, in effect leaving the WP with no choice.

Yesterday, Paya Lebar Young PAP chairman Abner Koh, 32, said residents he met while handing out the fliers were "generally friendly and curious".

As for the fliers, he said: "I personally think residents are rational and could be quietly thinking about the implications."

Residents had mixed reactions. "I don't really have time to think about town council management as long as the situation doesn't personally affect me," said customer service manager Jackie Quey, 56, who lives in Kovan.

"Elections are coming," was the conclusion of sales executive Lim Hongmin, 26, who lives in Bedok Reservoir.

rchang@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 15, 2015.
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