Trade fair case: No appeal by AHPETC

The Workers' Party (WP)-run town council has not appealed against its guilty verdict for holding a Chinese New Year fair last year without a permit.

But WP chairman Sylvia Lim, who heads the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), told The Straits Times that it is still exploring options to challenge the decision.

The Straits Times understands that the 14-day window during which AHPETC had to decide on an appeal lapsed on May 18.

Responding to queries, Ms Lim said in an e-mail to The Straits Times last week: "The town council is considering placing this matter before the High Court."

She did not elaborate on the specific course of action.

But an option open to AHPETC is to file for a judicial review of either the law, which mandates a permit for trade fairs, or of the process involved in applying for the permit.

AHPETC ran the Chinese New Year fair at Hougang Central Hub for 22 days last year despite the National Environment Agency (NEA) refusing to issue it a permit. It was fined $800 by District Judge Victor Yeo last December.

Ms Lim told reporters at the time that AHPETC planned to take the case to the High Court because "we are not satisfied with the outcome of the case".

The town council paid the fine, but filed a notice of appeal. This required the judge to release his full grounds for the decision.

His grounds, dated April 27 this year, were published on legal portal LawNet on May 4. AHPETC then had to decide whether to proceed with the appeal.

During last year's court hearings, AHPETC argued that the requirements set by the NEA in applying for a permit were onerous and unreasonable.

But Judge Yeo declined to rule on those aspects, saying that the issue surrounding conditions for a permit should not be argued at the trial, but at a judicial review.

In the grounds of his decision, he found AHPETC's main defence - that it believed it did not require a permit - to be unconvincing.

AHPETC proceeded with the fair despite not having an NEA permit, and also ignored NEA's orders to cease the activities.

This article was first published on May 29, 2015.
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