In 2011, the Workers’ Party (WP) made history by being the first opposition party to win a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) in Singapore – Aljunied GRC, adding the five seats in Aljunied to the one they had held previously and retained, in the single-seat ward of Hougang. Two years later, they contested the Punggol East by-election and triumphed there as well. From a mere single MP seat (not counting Non-Constituency MP seats), their presence in Parliament shot up to seven fully elected MPs. It appeared that the WP was gaining a solid foothold in Singapore politics and was growing ever stronger, perhaps even ready to challenge the ruling People’s Action Party to form the government in the not too distant future and move Singapore towards a two-party system.
But signs of financial mismanagement began to emerge at the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) as early as 2012, and more warning signs emerged in the ensuing months. It has culminated in the Auditor-General’s shocking report on the town council’s affairs this year which found “major lapses” in governance and compliance with the law. The five broad areas of weakness identified were lapses in management of sinking funds; lapses in governance of related-party transactions leading to conflicts of interest; lapses in management of arrears of service and conservancy charges; lapses in internal controls and procurement; and inadequacies in record management and accounting system.
The first day of Parliament debates on the Auditor-General’s report makes for some of the most compelling scenes I have seen in Parliament in the more than two decades I have been observing proceedings in the House. I highly recommend that GP students, especially Singaporean ones, watch the videos below and exercise their own critical judgement on this potentially seismic development in Singapore politics. Is the Workers’ Party fit to continue as the main opposition party? Does it offer a viable alternative to the PAP? Have they been unfairly accused by the ruling party?
Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council chairwoman Sylvia Lim said she takes personal responsibility for calculation errors on a contract awarded to FM Solutions & Services in 2011. However, she said residents’ interests have not been compromised.
AHPETC finances are a ‘sorry state of affairs’: Law Minister K. Shanmugam
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