Allegations of corruption: AHTC vs. AMKTC

Ang Mo Kio Town Council’s former General Manager Victor Wong is under investigation by the CPIB. Pro-opposition folks like Andrew Loh and Lee Li Lian have been quick to jump on the case. One needs to remember he is innocent until proven guilty.

They complain that the press has not covered it as extensively as the AHPETC or AHTC saga.

Eh, wait for CPIB to charge the guy if they really find something criminal lah. Then you can have daily front-page splashes like when the CNB and SCDF heads were charged. Those guys were much more highly-ranked than Victor Wong, and they were still charged and dragged through the mud. Remember all the saucy details of sex escapades? Proof that we should have faith in our system. 

The PAP Town Council dealt with the allegations much more transparently. Once a complaint was made, the probe started. And announced relatively soon. Remember there will also be personal damage to the accused if the probe eventually turns up nothing.

Meanwhile, opposition folks lied through their teeth to deny their problems. Andrew Loh said, “There were investigations by the MND/HDB, the AGO, PriceWaterHouse, and KPMG…In their final reports, there were no complaints of WP or AHPETC stalling investigations.

Oh really??!! When someone only talks about “final reports”, you can be pretty sure he doesn’t want to talk about anything else that happened. In any case, the AHTC case is not done yet. Investigations are still on-going. What makes him so sure there is nothing to it?

And guess who are the ones who were dragging the case on – instead of coming clean from day one.

 Let’s take a look at their stalling tactics.

1.       Not submitting reports for years.

They have not submitted properly verified accounts since 2013!

2.       Refusal to appoint accountants.

Went to court for a whole year until courts orders them to appoint a Big Four accountant.

3.       Repeated lies

–          Lie 1: Said AHPETC’s accounts are problematic because they have not been able to get data from the former managing agent, or from authorities like MND.

Truth: Issues are either what AHPETC promised to fix a year ago but had not, or nothing to do with handover issues.

–          Lie 2: Said they can’t report on S&CC arrears as their finance staff are busy preparing information for the AGO audit.

Truth: AHPETC stopped submitting monthly S&CC arrears reports after April 2013, when the AGO audit only started in Feb 2014. Sylvia Lim quickly denies she said so in the first place.

–          Lie 3: Low Thia Khiang says in Parliament that AGO did not find AHPETC engaged in corrupt practices nor any money lost.

Truth: AHPETC has been trying to claw back money from their managing agent FMSS. They have stopped paying FMSS and are in court because of this. This is how they act when there is “no money lost”?

–          Lie 4: Said they are insolvent due to MND’s withholding of funds.

Truth: Sylvia Lim had rejected MND’s offer to disburse half of the funds. Also, AHPETC’s financial position consistently deteriorated between FY11 and FY13 even though full grants were given by MND during these three years.

Let’s go a step further to question- why did WP stall investigations? Why did they lie so many times, when they knew they will be swiftly contradicted by facts? Why do they keep saying the government is persecuting them, or the government also has issues? Because they know Singaporeans see them as the underdogs and want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Because they know many people can’t understand the accounting jargon, and if they keep muddying the waters, people will give up following the case. Most importantly, because they know that under the Town Council Act (before recent amendments), Town Councils are only accountable to their residents and councillors. They can’t be charged for financial incompetence, only voted out. So they focussed on deceiving the people, not actually managing their town well.  But remember, if or once a criminal act is found in subsequent investigations, they may end up in court as well.

Compare this to the Victor Wong case. AMKTC received a complaint about him, and proactively called CPIB in. Remember the Town Council Act I talked about- they didn’t have to. They behaved like people who want the truth out, so that they can fix the lapses. Unlike the WP MPs, who are behaving like people who know if the whole truth comes out, they won’t escape blame.