Singapore – Six months after the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) trials began, the lawyers of the Worker’s Party (WP) Members of Parliament (MPs) noted in court on April 9 (Tuesday) that the S$33.7 million claim was “entirely speculative” and only S$15,710 from the total amount was recoverable.
Final submissions were given by team Tan Rajah & Cheah, led by Senior Counsel Chelva Rajah, to Justice Kannan Ramesh. They noted that the claims of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC) and an independent panel representing AHTC were made to question the manner which the defendants handled the town council’s funds and not for the funds that were “misappropriated” or “unaccounted” for, reported Today.
Among the eight defendants included in the two multi-million-dollar civil suits (by AHTC and PRPTC) that have been going on for the last six years are WP MPs Sylvia Lim, Low Thia Khiang and Pritam Singh. It is alleged that between 2011 and 2015, the town councils made improper payments amounting to S$33.7 million to FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) and FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI).
Pritam Singh went on Facebook to provide details on their closing oral submissions. He also attached skeletal submissions which provided a summary of their position. He ended his post by mentioning Section 52 of the Town Councils Act: No suit or other legal proceedings shall lie personally against any member, officer or employee of a Town Council or other person acting under the direction of a Town Council for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in the execution or purported execution of this Act or any other Act.
The blog post noted some issues which the Honourable Court gave attention to. One was toward the actions of the Town Councillors. “The Plaintiffs have built their case entirely on their attempts at giving the evidence their own specious interpretation or by subjecting the Defendants to the standards of perfect hindsight using hypothetical scenarios that ignored the actual circumstances that the Town Councillors faced at the time,” stated the post.
Next, it was mentioned that the Plaintiffs had not provided evidence showing actual losses to AHTC/AHPETC based on the Town Councillors’ decisions. “The purported losses which are claimed in the suits are losses alleged by the Plaintiffs or their accountants on the basis of figures plucked from the documentation. This was done without ascertaining whether these alleged lower cost figures were in reality achievable at the material time.”
Lastly, a comment was made on the cross-examination process. “Much of the Plaintiffs’ cross-examination proceeded on unpleaded matters. These matters relate to material facts which must be pleaded. The Court should, therefore, disregard the Plaintiffs’ submissions based on its unpleaded case. It is for the Plaintiffs to plead the necessary particulars. The instances where the Plaintiffs have proceeded on unpleaded facts have been identified in the Defendants’ submissions. These instances include an alleged “conspiracy” to remove CPG and appoint FMSS as the MA in order to advance the interests of the WP and its supporters.”
Mr Rajah emphasised that his clients acted “in good faith” and therefore no suit or legal proceedings shall lie personally against them. “That’s what my clients had been doing in this case — trying to do their best out of a difficult situation,” (sic) he added.
Read related: AHTC trial closing submissions: ‘Good faith’ or not?