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Changes to Town Councils Act could be delayed if polls are called

SINGAPORE — The review of the Town Councils Act — which has taken more than two years, and counting — will be put on the back-burner should Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as widely expected, dissolve Parliament and call for election soon.

SINGAPORE — The review of the Town Councils Act — which has taken more than two years, and counting — will be put on the back-burner should Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as widely expected, dissolve Parliament and call for election soon.

Asked about an update on the review, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said it is ongoing. “Previously, I was hoping we can amend the Act within this year,” he said in an interview with TODAY last Thursday (Aug 13).

“But market talk is the election is just around the corner and, if so, I would not be able to meet this particular KPI (key performance indicator),” he quipped. “We have to wait until the next term of government.”

The review to strengthen oversight over town councils to better protect the interests of residents was announced in May 2013. Headed by Senior Minister of State (National Development and Trade and Industry) Lee Yi Shyan, it will focus on the duties and responsibilities of town councils vis-a-vis the Housing and Development Board, the adequacy of town councils’ sinking funds and long-term financial sustainability, as well as the handover arrangements and transition when town councils change hands.

The review was recommended by a Ministry of National Development (MND) team which had looked into the sale of a town council management computer software by the People’s Action Party town councils to PAP-owned Action Information Management (AIM). The team gave the AIM transaction the all-clear — there was no misuse of public funds or any conflict of interest between town-council members and the company.

The AIM saga was played out publicly over several weeks in December 2012 and January 2013, after Workers’ Party (WP) Chairman Sylvia Lim said the performance of the WP’s Aljunied-Hougang Town Council had been affected by the termination of its IT contract with AIM.

A protracted exchange of words ensued between Ms Lim on one side, and PAP Town Councils coordinating chairman Teo Ho Pin and AIM chairman S Chandra Das on the other.

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