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How it all unfolded: The AHTC case in a nutshell

SINGAPORE — With the courts finding Workers’ Party Members of Parliament (MPs) liable for damages on Friday (Oct 11), the six-year saga of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) reached yet another milestone.

How it all unfolded: The AHTC case in a nutshell

Three WP MPs – Mr Low Thia Khiang, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Pritam Singh – were sued by an independent panel acting on behalf of the WP-run AHTC as well as by the People’s Action Party-run Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC).

SINGAPORE — With the courts finding Workers’ Party Members of Parliament (MPs) liable for damages on Friday (Oct 11), the six-year saga of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) reached yet another milestone.

It looks set for a protracted legal tussle with the case going back to court again for a second tranche to determine damages, which could reach up to S$33.7 million.

Three WP MPs — Mr Low Thia Khiang, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Pritam Singh — were sued by an independent panel acting on behalf of the WP-run AHTC as well as by the People’s Action Party-run Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC).

Aside from the WP MPs, other parties sued included former AHTC town councilors Chua Zhi Hon and Kenneth Foo. Separately, FMSS, its director and shareholder How Weng Fan, as well as her late husband, FMSS owner Danny Loh, were also sued.

TIMELINE

May 2011: At the General Election on May 11, WP won the five-member Aljunied GRC and retained the single seat of Hougang. It formed the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC). FMSS was set up on May 15.

Jan 2013: WP won the single seat of Punggol East in a by-election and folded it into its existing town council, which was renamed as the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

May 2013: During a Parliamentary debate, PAP MPs questioned the WP about a possible conflict of interest arising from the fact that FMSS was owned by WP supporters

Feb 2015: The Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) carried out an audit of AHPETC and found several lapses in governance and compliance. It was revealed that Mr Loh was also the secretary of the town council, with the power to co-sign cheques, while his wife Ms How was the general manager of AHPETC. Both husband and wife were longtime WP supporters. In a Parliamentary debate that same month, PAP leaders accused the WP MPs of breaching their fiduciary duties. The opposition MPs denied the allegations.

July 2015: Mr Loh died after an accidental fall in Japan.

Sept 2015: WP lost Punggol East to the PAP in the General Election. The town council was renamed AHTC.

Nov 2015: The Court of Appeal ordered AHTC to appoint accountants to fix lapses found by the AGO.

Nov 2016: Accounting firm KPMG found “improper payments” worth over S$33.7 million to FMSS and FMSI.

Feb 2017: AHTC appointed an independent panel to review the findings of the KPMG report.

July 2017: The panel, on behalf of AHTC, filed a suit against the three WP MPs to claim back the money. WP said it would contest the suit.

Sept 2017: PRPTC also filed a suit against the three WP MPs for losses allegedly incurred back when WP ran Punggol East constituency.

Oct 5, 2018: The trial relating to the two suits began. It ended on Oct 30.

Jan 18, 2019: All parties filed their closing submissions to the court, summarising their arguments made during the trial.

April 9, 2019: PRPTC, AHTC and the WP MPs appeared in court to deliver their oral submissions. The MPs’ lawyers said the S$33.7 million claim was speculative — only S$15,710 was recoverable.

Oct 11, 2019: The MPs, town councillors and senior employees of the AHTC and FMSS were found liable for some of the claims made against them by the AHTC and PRPTC.

Related topics

AHTC Workers' Party town council Low Thia Khiang Sylvia Lim Pritam Singh

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