Singapore — The Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) issued a statement on Saturday, November 30, saying that the Town Council has resolved that Workers’ Party (WP) Members of Parliament (MP) Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Khiang need not recuse themselves from all financial matters.
AHTC’s resolution was passed via a secret vote, with the council voting 17 to 1 against the recusal, with both Ms Lim and Mr Low not present when the vote was taken.
The statement read: On 5 November 2019, Parliament passed a motion calling upon Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) to discharge its responsibility by requiring Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Low Thia Khiang to recuse themselves from all matters relating to, and oversight over, financial matters of AHTC. The Town Council discussed the matter at its recent quarterly meeting and resolved that Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Low Thia Khiang do not need to recuse themselves.
The statement was issued on behalf of AHTC by Town Council Chairman Mohammad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap, also a WP MP and the vice-chairman of the Worker’s Party.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat introduced the motion in Parliament, calling on Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Khiang, leaders of the Workers’ Party (WP) to recuse themselves from financial matters related to the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHC).
The motion brought by DPM Heng, who is also Singapore’s Finance Minister, affirmed “the vital importance of MPs maintaining high standards of integrity and accountability,” according to a report from TODAY.
Mr Heng’s motion came on the heels of the recently delivered verdict of High Court Judge Kannan Ramesh, wherein he called out Ms Lim and Mr Low for improper and dishonest conduct. The Judge said that the WP MPs “acted dishonestly” and were “in breach of their fiduciary duties,” which Mr Heng’s motion reiterated, adding that Ms Lim and Mr Low’s behavior “lacked integrity and candour”.
The motion also said, “Ms Lim and Mr Low were fully aware that their conduct was of questionable legality,” and asks the Members of Parliament to “affirm the vital importance of MPs maintaining high standards of integrity and accountability”.
On November 6, Mr Low said that regarding the matter of his and Ms Lim’s future roles in the Town Council, this is for the AHTC to decide. At present, Mr Low is a member of AHTC’s estate and community-liaison committee as well as an elected member of the town council. Ms Lim is AHTC’s Vice-Chairperson.
As for what his political party would do in this regard, he said, “I don’t want to prejudge or anticipate what the town councillors will do. This… has nothing to do with WP. WP is a separate legal entity.”
Mr Low added he would recuse himself from taking part in AHTC’s decision-making process, saying, “I will recuse myself from participating in any discussion… (as well) as for the voting if there is a vote to be taken.” When asked if Ms Lim would likewise recuse herself from the discussions, Mr Low said he believed that she would do so, but that he could not speak for her, TODAY reports.
The press also inquired if Mr Low would still carry out his roles at AHTC should the town council say he does not need to recuse himself from his responsibilities there, the former WP leader replied that he would consider this after the decision has been made.
“Anyway, my role in the financial matters is very limited. I am only a member of the committee who looks at some projects and some of the approvals,” TODAY reports him as saying. -/TISG