Singapore

WP chief Low: We acted in good faith

AHTC takes Workers' Party leaders to court to account for $33 million paid to ex-managing agent and service provider

The three Workers' Party MPs at the centre of the lawsuit brought by Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) yesterday rejected the allegations that they acted in breach of their fiduciary duties.

"My conscience is clear. We acted in good faith and in the best interest of our residents, and there were no dishonest intentions," party chief Low Thia Khiang told reporters before his Meet-the-People session.

"The residents can see for themselves. I have been in politics for more than 20 years, and I think people know me."

Mr Low, AHTC vice-chairman Sylvia Lim and chairman Pritam Singh said they would contest the lawsuit, which was brought against them by an independent panel on behalf of the town council.

AHTC wants its most senior councillors to account for more than $33 million in payments made to its ex-managing agent, FM Solutions and Services (FMSS), and service provider, FM Solutions and Integrated Services.

The lawsuit alleged that the payments - from July 15, 2011, to July 14, 2015 - are null and void as the councillors had acted in breach of their fiduciary duties.

It also accused them of setting up a faulty system that allowed the appointment of FMSS despite conflicts of interest.

Ms Lim said they welcomed the opportunity to explain to the court and the public the reasons behind their decisions.

She said the town councillors "still stand firm today that what we did was in the best interests of the council, based on the information we had at the time".

Asked about the $33 million, Ms Lim said this was the total value of payments made.

"We reject the allegations that these payments were unlawful and wrong, and it will be up to the court to determine what they think is a fair and correct decision," she said.

LIABLE

If the court finds the MPs liable to pay any amount, they will have to see if they are able to do so, said Ms Lim.

"If we don't, we may have to consider other options, perhaps raising funds. If we are not able to... the law will take its course," she added.

The lawsuit also alleged that the town councillors awarded contracts to an architectural firm that put in a higher bid without proper justification, in breach of duties owed to AHTC.

In a statement sent earlier yesterday, the three MPs rejected the allegations, saying: "We have not benefited a single cent. In the course of these proceedings, we will be furnishing more information so that all concerned will be clearer on the issues and why we made the decisions and acted as we did."

Law firm Tan Rajah & Cheah has been engaged to defend the claim for the three MPs, and two other defendants Chua Zhi Hon and Kenneth Foo, who are appointed members of the town council.

Ms Lim said they will file further court documents for the case in the next few weeks, including a substantive defence three weeks from now.

The last two defendants are Ms How Weng Fan, the owner of FMSS, and FMSS itself.

Last night, Mr Low rejected suggestions that the lawsuit could damage the party's reputation or his internal standing within the party.

"I don't think Singaporeans have lost faith in us, we acted in good faith. I believe Singaporeans will trust us," he said.

Adding that he does not really care about his own popularity, he said it is important to keep one's conscience clear in politics.

"If we lose our seats, the younger generation of the WP will be prepared to come forward to serve Singaporeans, so I am not worried," he said.

WORKERS’ PARTYlawsuitTown Councils