Singapore—A notice paper sent to Members of Parliament (MPs) indicated that on November 5, Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will introduce a motion 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, would “affirm the vital importance of MPs maintaining high standards of integrity and accountability,” according to a report from TODAY.
Mr Heng’s motion comes 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”.
The two WP MPs maintain positions in the AHTC, with Mr Low being an elected member of the town council and Ms Lim its Vice-Chairperson.
Mr Heng’s motion calls for AHTC to “discharge their responsibilities to their residents by requiring Ms Lim and Mr Low to recuse themselves from all matters relating to, and oversight over, financial matters”.
Pritam Singh, the Secretary-General of the Workers’ Party, told The Straits Times (ST) that he will be addressing this issue in Parliament.
Along with Ms Lim and Mr Low, Mr Pritam was also found liable for damages suffered not only by AHTC but also by Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC).
The town council was found to have paid millions in improper payments under the WP MP’s oversight.
On October 11, the High Court Judge issued his judgment finding that Ms Lim and Mr Low were in breach of their fiduciary duties.
The judge said that Ms Lim and Mr Low had placed their own political interests over the interest of their constituents when they awarded contracts to FM Solutions & Services and FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI) without calling a tender.
On October 11, TISG reported “Between July 2011 to July 2015, AHTC had paid at least S$33.7 million to their town council managing agent FM Solutions & Services (FMSS), which was appointed without tender. Mr Low was the secretary-general of the WP at that time while Ms Lim had chaired AHTC, with Mr Pritam serving as a member of the town council’s committee for tenders and contracts.
In his judgment, High Court Judge Kannan Ramesh said that Mr Low and Ms Lim had breached their fiduciary duties to AHTC and that Mr Pritam breached his duties of skill and care to the town council. Judge Kannan said:
“Their conduct was improper and the attempt to cloak the same with a veneer of truth and credibility collectively leads to the conclusion that they had not acted honestly and therefore breached their duty of unflinching loyalty to AHTC as fiduciaries.”
The case is set to move on to a second set of hearings to determine the quantum of damages suffered by AHTC and how much is recoverable from the parliamentarians. The MPs can also appeal the High Court’s decision.
Unless the WP MPs are unable to pay the damages, it is unlikely that the judgment will affect their parliamentary positions since the lawsuit arises from civil proceedings. If they are unable to pay up, they will be made bankrupt and lose their seats in parliament.”/ TISG
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