On Monday, October 22, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh continued his cross examination of Workers’ Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim at the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) trial. A visibly rattled Ms. Low admitted to a breach of duty as chairman of the AHTC, because in 2011 meeting, she did not disclose the fees that CPG Facilities Management, the former managing agent of the two council, had charged.
Mr. Singh asked Ms. Low if this meant that the other Workers Party Members of Parliament (MP), referring to former WP chief Low Thia Khiang, as well as Pritam Singh, were equally guilty of breaching their duty. The WP MPs are defendants in the case, along with the founders of FM Solutions and Services (FMSS), who had been appointed as the new managing agent of AHTC.
After a while, shaken by the line of questioning, Ms. Lim replied that this was so.
Her admission came about after Mr. Singh asked about the meeting in question, which was held on August 4, 2011, the first time the council met after CPG had been dismissed. It was at this meeting that the reasons for waiving the tender for managing agent were heard out. It was also at this meeting that the new managing agent, FMSS, was appointed.
According to Mr. Singh, the waiver was approved under “false pretence,” thus allowing for the rapid appointment of FMSS. He said, “You gave the impression to the town council that you had no time to call for a tender because of the position CPG and AIM (Action Information Management) put us in.”
It has been Mr. Singh’s assertion that there was a plan all along to remove both CPG and AIM from the beginning, regarding this as “dishonesty at its height.”
Furthermore he asked her, When you waive that tender, you don’t have the advantage of competitive rates, so all the more the need to know what rates were going to be in that waiver. So, why didn’t you do that?” noting that the contract for the managing agent is the “most important agreement” a town council has.
At first Ms. Lim denied that the other WP MPs had transgressed their duties, since as chairman, she was the one who had the “primary responsibility” to disclose the rates of CPG, ones that are the same as FMSS’ rates.
She insisted to the court that she had merely made an “inadvertent omission,” and that she had much higher duties than the other MPs.
Mr. Singh then said, “Yours higher, theirs lower, (but) they still had duties, (just) at a lower level, (and) those duties were breached, do you agree?”
The senior counsel and Ms. Lim had back and forth exchanges concerning the other MPs’ culpability in the matter.
Half an hour into the interrogation, Justice Kannan Ramesh finally asked Ms. Lim to simply answer the question, to which she replied in the affirmative.
Mr. Singh asked if the other MPs “therefore failed in their duty.”
Ms. Lim said that they should have done so, but did not.
On Monday morning, earlier in the cross examination, Ms. Lim had agreed with Mr. Singh that she had put then outgoing secretary of Aljunied Town Council and managing director of CPG, Jeffrey Chua, in a place where he was unable to execute his duties well.
This, Mr. Singh said, was a transgression of Section 20 of the Town Councils Act. This section clearly states that the administration and management of the functions and affairs of the town council are the responsibility of the secretary. Mr. Singh alleged that Ms. Lim had disobeyed the act by not telling Mr. Chua whether or not a tender for a new managing agent would be called.
“On hindsight,” Ms. Lim conceded that Mr. Chua should have had this information, since he was AHTC’s interim secretary.
During the cross examination, Mr. Singh also brought up the fact that Ms. Lim did not seek the approval of the town council for FMSS’ appointment between June 15 and July 15, which Ms. Lim admitted to.
Furthermore, he also brought up that S$150,000 had been paid to FMSS, in excess of the financial limit of S$100,000. Mr. Singh told her and the court, “And that was another breach of the Town Council Financial Rules.”
Ms. Lim faces another day in court on Tuesday, October 22.