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AHTC appeal judgement: WP leaders 'pleased to note' finding that they acted in good faith in awarding contract without tender

SINGAPORE — Workers’ Party (WP) chair Sylvia Lim, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and former WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang said they were “pleased to note” that the Court of Appeal has found they had acted in good faith in awarding the managing agent contract as well as other contracts to certain third party contractors.

Workers’ Party MPs (from left) Pritam Singh, Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim at the Supreme Court in a file photo taken in October 2018.

Workers’ Party MPs (from left) Pritam Singh, Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim at the Supreme Court in a file photo taken in October 2018.

  • The Workers' Party's Sylvia Lim, Pritam Singh and Low Thia Khiang said they were "pleased to note" the Court of Appeal's finding that they had acted in good faith in awarding certain contracts
  • They said the Court of Appeal "took into account the circumstances we faced in 2011" when they first won the election in Aljunied Group Representation Constituency
  • They also acknowledged that the Court of Appeal has sought further submissions for two breaches it found

SINGAPORE — Workers’ Party (WP) chair Sylvia Lim, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and former WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang said they were “pleased to note” that the Court of Appeal has found they had acted in good faith in awarding a managing agent contract, as well as other contracts to certain third party contractors.

They added that they were studying the judgement, which pertains to the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) lawsuit.

Their joint statement — published on their blog In Good Faith — on Wednesday (Nov 9) comes after the apex court largely overturned the High Court’s previous ruling.

The five-member court led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon ruled earlier in the day that the town councillors and employees had all acted in good faith when they awarded the management agent contract to FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) without a tender.

They had also acted in good faith when they contracted third party contractors at rates the plaintiff claimed were higher than necessary or without compliance with financial rules, the court added.

However, the court also ruled that the leaders could still be liable to pay damages over possible negligence concerning certain other aspects of their contract dealings.

In the WP leaders' statement, they said: “We are pleased to note that the Court of Appeal has found that the town councillors acted in good faith and in the execution of the Town Councils Act and the Town Councils Financial Rules in awarding the managing agent contract to FM Solutions & Services and in awarding the contracts to certain third party contractors."

They also noted that the Court of Appeal judgement stated that there was “simply no basis” to find they had not acted in good faith, “or even that they had breached their duty of care, for considering and ultimately deciding that they were better off with a new managing agent services provider who could be trusted to work with them in a committed way”.

“In making this finding, the Court of Appeal took into account the circumstances we faced in 2011 when we first won the elections in Aljunied Group Representation Constituency and why we waived the tender of the managing agent contract in 2011,” they said, in reference to their assertion in 2018 that opposition town councils struggled to find managing agents.

The three WP leaders also acknowledged that the Court of Appeal has sought further submissions for two breaches it found — the first being for negligence in the payment process, and the second being on the part of Ms Lim for the award of a contract to a third-party contractor.

“In respect of both these claims, for which damages will eventually be assessed in a subsequent hearing, the burden remains on the town councils to prove their loss,” they said.

“In particular on the damages for the breach relating to the payments process, the Court of Appeal has observed that the town councils’ case appears to have been constructed on the perceived risks inherent in the payments process.  

“Further, the Court of Appeal also stated that it is not clear that AHTC or Sengkang Town Council have provided evidence of any instance where the breaches resulted in improper payments.”

Adding that they were still in the process of studying the judgement, Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Low thanked members of the public and supporters for their support. They also thanked their lawyers from Messrs Tan Rajah and Cheah.

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