Open letter from PE resident to AHPETC

A reader living in Punggol East submitted the following open letter to AHPETC to us for sharing:


I note with distress the latest Town Council Management Report for FY2014 which the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) was banded “red” in the areas of service and conservancy charges arrears management and corporate governance.

The report has stated that most of the Town Council’s S&CC arrears reports since May 2013 are still outstanding. I find this highly disturbing, because submitting documents and reporting of stats should be the most basic and simple responsibility of the Town Council since they are managing public funds. AHPETC took over the running of Punggol East around that period as well, after the by-elections in early 2013.

I’m concerned, was AHPETC scrambling to take over the running of Punggol East or were they only focusing efforts on winning Punggol East so as to fill the financial hole in Aljunied Hougang Town Council(AHTC), hence leaving Town Council affairs in a mess? Punggol East was indeed wrong to have given you the chance to represent us.

Although I don’t really understand all the legal jargon over the estate management, and don’t profess to be the expert over it, but WP has never come forward to refute the claim that they have been using funds from Punggol East to cover up the financial hole in AHTC. The way in which the Town Council has conducted itself in this entire episode is simply unacceptable, and to profess to be accountable and transparent is simply an affront to the idea of accountability and transparency.

Since we cannot change the past, and what has been done has been done, I accept that and would like to move on too. But I hope to have some closure on this matter. Punggol East has been won back by the PAP in this recent elections, and I hope that the Town Council has a plan for handover for the merged Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council to be formed. The fact that AHPETC has not submitted their accounts since May 2013 could mean that documents are not in order. In that case, I am not confident that AHPETC can handover to the new Town Council.

These are your Punggol East residents’, our, hard earned money. Overlooking all the overpayment to FMSS and the 2 page stunt pulled by Mr Low towards the end of elections, I hope that AHPETC can properly explain to residents what has been going on.

The new Town Council Chairman, Mr Pritam said,”Despite incremental enhancements made to the existing IT system over the last few years, there remain inherent limitations which continue to contribute to some management and reporting challenges associated with S&CC arrears management and corporate governance,” he said. “The new system is expected to be operational within 18 to 24 months from the award of tender.”

The new system is obviously unable to be operational before the handover of the Punggol East accounts to the new Town Council.

If the Town Council is unable to do a handover, it will be very difficult and almost impossible for the new Merged Town Council to be set up. Who is going to clean our estate in the meantime? Are we going to have to do it ourselves? Is AHPETC going to continue to maintain our estate until they are able to do the proper handover?

I am upset that this has happened, but it seems to only be dragging on. Residents need closure, and let a new Town Council take over. We are your residents, and Mr Pritam has said that he will answer to us. But so far, our questions have been left unanswered.

Yours Faithfully,

Your concerned Punggol East resident.


AIM-ing to give you the facts

The troubles in AHPETC have nothing to do with AIM. It is dishonest to link the two.

The PAP TCs consolidated ownership of the system under AIM as the start of the process to tender for a new system. By this time, the system was obsolete and worth very little.

“We entered into the transaction with Aim with the objective of benefitting the TCs. Over the last two years, the intended benefits have been realised. There is thus no basis to suggest that the AIM transaction did not serve the public interest, or was disadvantageous to residents in the TCs.” – Dr Teo Ho Pin 

AIM and its directors did not make any money from this consolidation and transfer of ownership.

The MND conducted an official inquiry and concluded that nothing wrong was done and this was discussed in Parliament.

When the WP took over AHPETC, it gave notice to AIM to terminate the contract for the system as it wanted to develop its own system. When it needed more time to do so, AIM granted extensions of time. AHPETC thanked AIM in writing for its assistance.



With AHPETC’s accounts being flagged red and submitted late, the WP only raised the AIM issue 2 years later. But those had nothing to do with AIM.

Remember AIM … Remember FMSS

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Remember AIM issue?

It was explained countless times and again it resurfaced.

1. Yes, the software was sanctioned by 14 Town Councils.
2. Yes, they paid the software by using the S&CC fees collected from residents.
3. Yes it was sold to AIM thru an open tender.
4. Yes, the software was later leased back to the Town Councils for a subscription fee.

But here are some facts.

1. The directors of AIM were not paid a director fee.
2. The software was getting outdated.
3. The cost for an upgrade would have meant a substantial initial outlay of the residents’ money.
4. Although there were several companies which took the tender documents but only AIM came back with a bid.
5. AIM did not profit from the purchase of the TC software nor from the lease back. Industry experts also mentioned that it was loss-making bid. (Maybe that is why no other companies bid for the tender)
6. Prime Minister Lee ordered a review of the AIM transaction and the fundamental nature of town councils, to ensure high standards of corporate governance.
7. The review reported that there NO wrong-doings and saying the AIM sale complied with regulations and there was no conflict of interest.

So how did this saga came about? hint* FMSS…. Overspent … WP…. Friends… (got it?)


Pot calling the kettle black? AHPETC vs PA Accounting lapses

The Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) has conducted its selective audit of PA and 124 of its grassroots organisations (GROs) between July 2014 and February 2015, and has observed that there were procedural lapses among GROs.

Netizens have expressed concerns regarding these lapses, citing the recent AHPETC saga which saw several dramatic episodes in parliament between the WP MPs and the PAP MPs. They say PAP is the pot calling the kettle black; they question the right of the PAP to condemn the actions of AHPETC when the PA GROs have committed similar offences.

There are some differences between AHPETC and PA to bear in mind.

1. WP has repeatedly refused to acknowledge their accounting lapses and conflicts of interest. They have not only refused to acknowledge their wrongs, they have refused to right their wrongs.

PA on the other hand, takes these findings seriously and has taken immediate actions to rectify all the lapses. PA has since informed AGO that it will review its procurement rules for GROs, to strike the right balance between competitive procurement and “expeditious decision-making” on the ground.

 Note the difference: If there is a mistake, they admit, investigate, punish if warranted and learn from it. This is not how AHPETC has done itYear after year, AHPETC has been making the same errors over and over again. Evidently, they have not learnt from their mistakes. 

2. Responsibility taken by the individuals is also an important factor to consider.

After many months of investigation, and pressure from the public and the court, AHPETC finally decided to do away with FMSS. No legal or stern action was taken against the company.

On the flip side, there was also one case of non-declaration of conflict of interest in a Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC). While the Investigation Panel set up by PA found no evidence of dishonesty by the volunteers concerned, this is nonetheless a serious lapse. The Chairman has apologised for the lapse and has resigned from the CCC. The CCC member has been advised to comply with proper procedures. Despite only being a volunteer, the CCC chairman has taken responsibility and has resigned.

Note the difference: AHPETC is run by paid staff, not volunteers. Hence, they are obliged to know the proper financial procedures. Volunteers in the GROs may not have this knowledge at present.  

3. AGO audited both AHPETC and PA. In the AHPETC case, the AGO said that the accounts cannot be relied upon and there can be “no assurance that public funds are properly spent, accounted for and managed”.

For PA, there were procedural lapses which were fixed and action taken.  But there was no issue with the overall accounts.

I think the difference is clear; the severity of the accounting lapses should be seriously considered when comparing both cases.

At the end of the day, the AGO report is impartial and it gives the organization a chance to improve on its governance. How it is managed is the crucial point. The management should be accountable and responsible for their flaws and make sure it does not happen again.

Please tolong, investigate. Not for PAP, for the people.

Seen on Facebook:

“I wish the Worker’s Party would investigate thoroughly and inform the public the truth; not because the PAP asked for it, but for the people who put hope on WP to be better than PAP.
Otherwise, one would be left with this uncomfortable conclusion: that, sometimes, when WP MPs attack PAP’s ethical failures, it’s not because they believe in the high road themselves, but because they think they have exclusive rights to the low.”

It is time to put aside political agendas. This town council issue is more than a political issue. It is an issue of trust and integrity.

Lets put people before politics.

Mud slinging from the dirty ceiling

WP deserves three D’s for this one:
1. Dishonesty
2. Distracting
3. Discombobulating

I hope we won’t be blind to the facts. Our country needs people who can make objective and correct decisions about our future. Not stoop to personal attacks when all the facts are against you.

No one is digging up dirt on our dear WP MPs on purpose. But when the facts are out, it’s time to do the RIGHT thing.

What’s wrong with saying sorry? What a lack of integrity! Who wants such leaders in Singapore? Have you ever heard them apologize for a mistake they have committed? At least the PAP does so. All the WP does is to keep silent! ( if they’re not silent, they’re drawing disrespectful pictures )

Eh, your politics clean or not?

“Bear in mind that just putting on a safety belt and hope that the driver will drive you to your destination is not enough. A co-driver is essential, especially as road gets tougher to navigate. The co-driver is there to slap the driver when he drives off course or when he falls asleep or drives dangerously.”

– Mr Low Thia Kiang (GE2011)

A co-driver will always remain a co-driver when he has been proven incapable of driving himself.

This issue is a political issue, and those who brought it up to begin with knew very well. Hoping to score political points by bringing up such an issue in parliament? Hmm wonder if that’s becoming of a “first world politician”.

“What I gather from the whole episode is the misunderstanding between Annual cleaning and Spring cleaning..” – Mr Low, in his parliamentary speech.

Well, whatever cleaning, shouldn’t it be free? That is irrelevant whether it is Annual Cleaning or Spring cleaning. As long as it’s under your town council’s charge, why should hawkers be made to pay for it to be done?

Nonetheless, they say that we should all move on from this episode and focus on more pertinent issues. How? When there are so many question marks hanging over our heads. The statement issued by the Workers Party is simply unsatisfactory. Dr Vivian, unfortunately Mr Low has not heeded your advice to go back and find out what’s gone wrong. “We have put forth the facts as we have found them, based on our own earlier investigations.”  

Looks like “We do not find it productive to continue debating and arguing with the ruling party over this issue.” means we do not see the potential to score anymore political points here, so let’s just leave the issue hanging.

When the statement from the PMO was released, people say why they bully others, take out big guns to whack the poor fella. Here’s the thing, why do we cut the opposition so much slack? Why are they not subject to the same criticism as the Government? I feel that it is in no way an over reaction. By not coming forth to clarify, Mr Low has allowed “these grave doubts about the integrity of his fellow MPs unresolved. This is not how members of a First World Parliament should conduct themselves. Neither is this the sort of politics Singapore needs.”