SINGAPORE: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Grace Fu said a fundamental point in the discussions on Aljunied—Hougang Town Council (AHTC) and Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM) revolves around the management of the town council.
In a post on her Facebook page, she said town councils were set up to make Members of Parliament (MPs) responsible for the maintenance and cleanliness of their constituencies.
Thus, the government put town councils under the charge of the elected representatives, and linked them directly to the MPs and their political parties.
Ms Fu said when the Worker’s Party (WP) contested in Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC), it assured the voters that it could manage the estate well, based on its track record in Hougang.
Ms Fu noted that after WP won the GRC in the 2011 general election, it promptly put its people into the town council and directly appointed its own managing agent.
They were clearly in charge of Aljunied—Hougang TC (AHTC) right after the election, she said.
Ms Fu pointed out that 18 months later, AHTC got a "red band" for its collection of Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) in the reports card on town councils.
More than half of its monthly S&CC collection is overdue for three months or longer.
AHTC was also the only town council whose grade for corporate governance was pending its auditor’s report.
Ms Fu said AHTC Chairman Sylvia Lim had said the fault is not theirs, but the PAP’s, which allegedly terminated the financial systems provided by AIM.
She said this is untrue — and that it was WP that served notice to terminate AIM, and later asked for and received two extensions of time, until its own system was ready.
Ms Fu said it is the WP’s responsibility to provide services in AHTC, as it did in Hougang Town Council — not the government’s or the PAP’s.
She added that "taking aim at AIM misses a fundamental point — the management of AHTC".
Ms Fu said a new team may take three or four months to settle in, but believes 18 months are enough to take over and be responsible for a town council.
"If not, how much longer should the conversion period be? 24, 30 months? Maybe 5 years?" she asked.
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