Introducing a motion calling on Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) to require Workers’ Party (WP) politicians Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim to “recuse themselves” from the town council’s financial matters, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that WP “cannot stay silent” and urged it to “take action” in an hour-long speech in Parliament today (5 Nov).
DPM Heng’s motion comes weeks after High Court Judge Kannan Ramesh said that Mr Low and Ms Lim had breached their fiduciary duties to AHTC and that the Aljunied GRC MPs are liable for damages, as he released his long-awaited judgment on the year-long AHTC lawsuit.
Noting that the judgment was released nearly four weeks ago, DPM Heng – who is expected to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as head of government following the next election – said:
“Close to four weeks have passed since the judgment was published. In all that time, the Workers’ Party have said nothing.
“They have not apologised for the shortcomings that the Courts – and before the Courts, AGO (Auditor-General’s Office) and KPMG – have established. They have not accounted for their dishonesties and untruths.
“Nor have they have said whether they intend to put right the many wrongs that the Court has uncovered, and if so how.”
The motion DPM Heng put forth called on Parliament to affirm “the vital importance of MPs maintaining high standards of integrity and accountability” and require Mr Low and Ms Lim to recuse themselves from AHTC’s financial matters until the court case is concluded.
Asserting that “this is the least they can do,” DPM Heng said: “All that this House is asking, is for Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Low Thia Khiang to recuse themselves from dealing with or having oversight over financial matters, until the court case is concluded.”
On his reasons for introducing the motion, DPM Heng explained that “integrity is of the utmost importance in elected officials” and that Singapore has only succeeded because of its culture of honesty and integrity in the public service. He said:
“Those who participate in politics must be honest, upright people who can be trusted to uphold the public interest, speak the truth even at a cost to themselves, and admit their mistakes when they have done wrong.
“They have to uphold these principles even when it is politically inconvenient to do so and we need to do this, whether you are a government or opposition MP, whether you represent a constituency in Parliament, or are an NCMP or NMP.”