SINGAPORE: The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) is contesting an allegation by the National Environment Agency (NEA) that it held an unlicensed trade fair at the Hougang Central Hub.
This comes after NEA applied for a court summons to be issued last month.
The charge states that AHPETC had failed to obtain a permit from the Director-General of Public Health before organising the fair.
The alleged offence is said to have taken place between January 9 and January 14 this year.
Previously, NEA said four stall holders have also been served with notices to attend court for hawking without a licence.
NEA said that town councils are not allowed to engage in commercial activities, including the organisation and operation of fairs, as these are not related to their statutory function of management and maintenance of common property.
NEA said that AHPETC was reminded of this by the Ministry of National Development on January 14.
Member of Parliament, Ms Sylvia Lim, turned up in court on Tuesday as AHPETC's sole representative.
In a short hearing, Senior Counsel Peter Low, who is representing the AHPETC, told the court his client will be claiming trial.
The pre-trial conference has been fixed for April 2.
The maximum penalty for contravening Section 35 of the Environmental Health Act is a fine of S$1,000.
Speaking to the media later, Ms Lim said AHPETC will be raising funds to pay for lawyers' fees and she stressed that no money from AHPETC's kitty will be used.
She said: "I'd like to also clarify that the lawyers we have hired are actually from the same firm I'm associated with, but we will not be touching any town council's funds to mount this defence. We will be raising funds from elsewhere, and neither I nor any Workers' Party member will have any share in the fees that are paid to the law firm."
When asked if this is the first such case he has come across, Mr Low said: "I don't know of any other instance, but for me this is the first time." - CNA/fa
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