Thursday, 5 January 2017

Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager under CPIB probe

Mr Victor Wong, former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council, is under investigation by the CPIB. FOTO: ST FILE

The general manager & secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) has been removed from his duties & is under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Mr Victor Wong, who works for CPG Facilities Management, the managing agent of the town council, was asked to go on leave by his company after the town council received a complaint about him in September, town council chairman Ang Hin Kee told The Straits Times on Thu (Dec 29).

He added that the case had been referred to the CPIB & Mr Wong was removed from his positions at the town council last month.

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ANG MO KIO TOWN COUNCIL GENERAL MANAGER UNDER CPIB PROBE FOR UNETHICAL DEALINGS

Mr Victor Wong, the General Manager and Secretary for Ang Mo Kio Town Council has been sacked from his position and put under investigation by the Corrupt Investigation Bureau (CPIB). Wong works for CPG Facilities Management who is the managing agent for AMK Town Council.

He was asked to go on unpaid leave after AMK Town Council received complaints about him in September and in November, he was removed from his positions and referred to CPIB for further investigations. A replacement General Manager Lim Kian Chiong has been appointed to replace him.

According to Mr Ang Hin Kee, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, the complaint about Victor Wong was the way he handled contracts and dealings within the town coun

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Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager investigated by CPIB

The general manager and secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) is being investigated by the the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

In September, the town council received a complaint about Victor Wong of CPG Facilities Management, the managing agent of the town council, reported The Straits Times on 29 Dec.

Wong was removed from his duties in November.

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CPIB investigating Ang Mo Kio Town Council General Manager

Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) general manager & secretary Victor Wong is being investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), a town council spokesperson confirmed to Channel NewsAsia on Fri (Dec 30).

He was asked to go on leave following a complaint against him in September, AMKTC said.

The spokesperson added that its acting general manager Lim Kian Chiong is covering Wong's duties.

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AMK Town Council general manager under CPIB probe described as ‘hardworking’

He began working at Ang Mo Kio Town Council as a property manager. In 2013, Mr Victor Wong, currently the subject of investigations by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, was promoted to general manager at the town council.

On Frii (Dec 30), the Straits Times reported that Mr Wong, an employee of CPG Facilities Management, the Managing Agent of the Town Council, was asked to go on leave by the company in September, after the town council received a complaint about him. He was removed from his post last month.

When contacted, Ang Mo Kio Town Council vice-chairman Darryl David confirmed that Mr Wong is assisting in investigations.

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Probe into town council officer: Overlapping roles can be efficient but safeguards needed

The key officers at town councils are often also employees of the companies hired to manage the estates.

This double-hatting by the staff of the managing agent companies allows for efficient operations & is a common practice, said observers, who added that robust safeguards must be in place to prevent conflicts of interest.

They were commenting on this overlapping of roles after The Straits Times reported on Thursday that Mr Victor Wong, the general manager & secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council, had been removed from his duties & was being investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB)

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AMK Town Council general manager under CPIB probe

The general manager and secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council has been removed from his duties and is under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Mr Victor Wong, who works for CPG Facilities Management, the managing agent of the town council, was asked to go on leave by his company after the town council received a complaint about him in September, town council chairman Ang Hin Kee told The Straits Times yesterday.

He added that the case had been referred to the CPIB and Mr Wong was removed from his positions at the town council last month.

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WHY DID THE ANG MO KIO TOWN COUNCIL TAKE SO LONG TO INFORM THE PUBLIC ABOUT STAFF BEING INVESTIGATED BY CPIB?

On 30 Dec it was reported that Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) general manager and secretary Victor Wong is being investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). Mr Wong was already asked to go on leave when investigations commenced. He was suspended in November 2016.

AMKTC, which manages the estate matters of Ang Mo Kio GRC, helmed by PM Lee Hsien Loong, had to wait so long before informing the public about this matter on 30 Dec. More than a month after the incident. Is the standard of transparency and accountability that the PAP adheres to?

Furthermore, netizens can see the difference in reporting by the mainstream media. When the Workers’ Party ran Aljunied-Hougang Town Council was reprimanded for allowing the key officers at the town councils and the owners of the managing agent be the same people, they were heavily criticized by the PAP and the mainstream media that are beholden to them.

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AMK CPIB probe: Same conflicts of interest like Aljunied?

Straits Times in its article, “AMK Town Council general manager under CPIB probe” (30 Dec), states that “The general manager and secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) has been removed from his duties and is under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Mr Victor Wong Chee Meng who is currently under investigation by CPIB, works for managing agent, CPG Facilities Management and is also general manager and secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council

He was asked to go on leave by his company after the town council received a complaint about him in September, said town council chairman Ang Hin Kee to The Straits Times on Thursday (29 Dec).

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Full Coverage:
Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager replaced in Nov, under
AMK Town Council general manager under CPIB probe described as
CPIB investigating Ang Mo Kio Town Council General Manager
Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager investigated by CPIB
CPIB probes Ang Mo Kio Town Council's general manager
General manager of PAP town council removed from duties and
AMK CPIB probe: Same conflicts of interest like Aljunied?
ang mo kio town council general manager under cpib probe for
Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager under CPIB probe
Need to safeguard the integrity of investigation into management of AMKTC
Can anyone who can't run his own TC be trusted to manage nation's affairs?
CPIB investigating Ang Mo Kio Town Council General Manager
Corruption case under probe at AMK Town Council
Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager investigated by CPIB
ang mo kio town council general manager under cpib probe for
AMK Town Council general manager under CPIB probe described as
CPIB investigating Ang Mo Kio Town Council General Manager
AMK Town Council general manager under CPIB probe
Someone asked why the CPIB was called in so quickly at Ang Mo Kio
AMK CPIB probe: Same conflicts of interest like Aljunied?
Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager under CPIB probe
AMK Town Council general manager under CPIB probe
Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager under CPIB probe
AMK Town Council general manager under CPIB probe
Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager investigated by CPIB
CPIB investigating Ang Mo Kio Town Council General Manager
AMK CPIB probe: Same conflicts of interest like Aljunied?
AMK Town Council general manager under CPIB investigation

'Pervasive' lapses found in Workers' Party town council accounts; Some lapses may amount to criminal conduct: KPMG

Auditors of the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) had harsh words for the way it was managed, saying they found "pervasive" control failures in its accounts and work processes over the past five years.

These weaknesses cover key areas of governance, financial control, financial reporting, procurement and records management, KPMG said in a report on Wednesday.

In all, KPMG flagged six areas where AHTC's control environment had failed to set the foundation for discipline and structure for its internal workings. These include the lack of communication and enforcement of integrity and ethical values. For instance, "highly irregular" methods were used to process over $60 million worth of payments, and temporary accounts used for more than one million transactions were not cleared swiftly.

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WORKERS' PARTY ON AMKTC CASE: AVOID PREMATURE SPECULATION

The press has asked The Workers’ Party to comment on what Minister Shanmugam has said with regards to the AMKTC corruption case and the AHTC governance issue.

Since CPIB is investigating the AMKTC case, we should let due process take its course and not jump to conclusions.

When the July 2016 report by KPMG on AHTC came out, AHTC ordered a 100% check on the $60m direct journal entry and dummy code issues.

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Did or did not Law Minister say “You are not going to get angels in power all the time”
“You’re not going to get angels in power all the time”

The Law and Home Affairs Minister, K Shanmugam, spoke to the mainstream media earlier today on the the investigation of the General Manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

The General Manager was flagged for “the way he handles contracts and dealings in the town council”. The manager, Mr Victor Wong, is employed by CPG Facilities Management, but is also the secretary for the town council.  He has been put on forced leave.

No further details were given about the possible rot at a town council anchored by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. But Member of Parliament Ang Hin Kee, the town council’s chairman, said the complaint “arose out of (Wong’s) dealings which relates to probable behaviour needing investigation done by CPIB”.

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ST, CNA deleted Minister Shanmugam’s ‘You are not going to get angels in power all the time’ comment
[Update as of Jan 7., 1300Hrs: Minister K Shanmugam’s ‘You are not going to get angels in power all the time’ comment can be found on the print copy of The Straits Times and The New Paper.]

K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Law, who was actually speaking at a news conference on another matter, told the media on Jan. 6 that we (referring to the government) “take probity in public office very, very seriously” and that the allegations would be “investigated and no one will be spared”.

More importantly, Shanmugam added that “no town council, no one, nothing will be swept under the carpet”.

Sweeping under the carpet was exactly what Channel NewsAsia and The Straits Times did to parts of his comments in their reports.

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Minister of Law and Home Affairs slaps himself and party with comments about AMKTC and AHTC

Minister for Law and Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam slaps himself with comments made about the Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) and former Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol-East Town Council (AHPETC) on Friday.

Mr K Shanmugam was quoted by the media that the best way to deal with investigations such as the one involving AMKTC General Manager to "let the law take its course" and that the AMKTC case shows "the essence of the way this Government operates".

"Regardless of who he is, if there's an allegation, he will be investigated. No town council is exempted; nothing will be swept under the carpet. That's why Singapore is successful - because we take these things seriously," he said.

related: The different approach by WP and PAP in regards to ongoing investigations

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WP MPs 'have not shown integrity'
Mr Shanmugam (above) criticised AHTC chairman Pritam Singh "for suppressing the truth (designed to mislead) both in Parliament & in Court"

Workers' Party (WP) leaders have not shown integrity or ethics in managing their town council's finances & fixing lapses, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

In a strongly-worded Facebook post, he called on WP's 6 elected MPs to come clean on millions in irregular payments in its "dark corners", sums that were flagged by independent auditor KPMG in its report on WP-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) last week.

KPMG found "pervasive" control failures in AHTC's accounts & processes over the past 5 years, spanning governance, financial control, financial reporting, procurement and records management.

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Public monies have been lost, minister charges

Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council’s (AHPETC) transactions with its managing agent & a vendor, which its senior staff have stakes in, are “unlawful” & the Workers’ Party (WP) Members of Parliament (MPs) have seriously breached their fiduciary duties in allowing the arrangement, charged Law and Foreign Minister K Shanmugam yesterday.

The minister made these points at the end of a nearly 4-hour debate on the motion raised on the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) findings on the town council, which was kicked off with National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan flagging the implications that the WP’s less-than-stellar running of the AHPETC would have for residents.

The AGO’s findings, made public on Monday, highlighted 5 major lapses, but Mr Shanmugam dedicated his entire speech yesterday to only one of them: Related party transactions the town council was involved in.

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'Public funds given to WP's friends'
OVERPAID FEES: Mr Shanmugam said there has been a loss of public money due to AHPETC's "overpayment" to its managing agent, FMSS

Alleging that the Workers' Party (WP) overpaid a managing agent run by its supporters, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said in Parliament yesterday that the WP was giving residents' money to its "friends".

In a 45-minute speech hitting out at the opposition-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), Mr Shanmugam said: "The rhetoric from the WP is always about helping the poor man. The reality is that WP took money from the man in the street & gave it to FMSS, to their friends."

He was taking issue with the fees which management agent FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) charges AHPETC.

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Shanmugam takes WP leaders to task over ‘breach of duties’

Law & Foreign Minister K Shanmugam took 4 Workers’ Party town councillors to task individually yesterday over whether & when they knew about four AHPETC employees’ stakes in 2 vendor companies, as well as why they had approved the payment mode in these transactions. Here are excerpts of what he said to each of them:
  • To Mr Pritam Singh - You make fierce speeches about transparency ... You have been anything but transparent and accountable. There is a thread all right, but it weaves & leaves a tangled web.
  • To Mr Chen Show Mao - As a lawyer, you will know every town councillor owes fiduciary duties. It will be a gross breach of those fiduciary duties to have allowed Loh, Ms How and Yeo to act as they did and rubber-stamped what they did. You will be aware that such conduct is unlawful ... So the question is: What did you know & when did you know?
  • To Ms Sylvia Lim - You must (have) known that such conduct would be in serious breach of your legal, fiduciary duties; that it will be unlawful to do so. Yet you allowed this.
  • To Mr Low Thia Khiang - Loh & Ms How were your friends. They got the contracts because they were your friends. What is your role and responsibility, Mr Low? You allowed all of this to happen? As secretary-general of the WP, will you take responsibility? What should be done now?
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Parliament: Shanmugam says WP took money from man in the street & gave it to their friend

"The rhetoric from the WP is always about helping the poor man. The reality is that WP took money from the man in the street & gave it to FMSS, to their friends," said Law Minister K Shanmugam in Parliament on Thursday.

Mr Shanmugam distributed a table that compared managing agent rates island-wide, showing that from Jul 2013 to Jul 2014, FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) charged both residential & commercial units almost twice the amounts other town councils charged.

He added that the calculated difference in annual payment is $1.6 million, which adds up to $6.4 million over 4 years.

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AGO’s audit findings raise four issues, says Shanmugam

AHPETC’s payments to FMSS & FMSI, which are owned by 3 town council staff, were “unlawful”. The town councillors were “in breach of their legal, fiduciary duties” by allowing the 3 employees to both bill & approve payments to themselves.

These payments were done “without transparency or accountability” because the ownership of FMSS & FMSI was not disclosed to all town councillors. These related party transactions were also not fully reflected in the AHPETC’s financial statements, in breach of financial reporting standards. There was also no discussion of “serious” conflicts of interests arising from the payment process involving FMSS.

AHPETC suffered a loss because of overcharging by FMSS, its managing agent. The difference, on an annual basis, between what the AHPETC paid FMSS, & what other town councils pay their managing agents, is about S$1.6 million each.

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Khaw demands Workers’ Party deal with FMSS ‘crooks’ for 'monumental incompetence'
Drawing on the Chinese idiom 混水摸鱼, Khaw said: “Where the water is murky, it’s easier to fish. Opacity creates opportunity for crooks to make money.”

Singapore’s Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan on Friday asked the oppositionWorkers’ Party (WP) to take “real, sincere” action in the face of its alleged mismanagement of theAljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

After 2 days of fiery, sometimes dramatic exchanges in Parliament, all 85 members present in the house unanimously passed a motion criticising the WP’s running of the AHPETC, which arose from the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) findings of lapses in the town council’s financial accounts.

But not before Khaw wrapped up the debate with a stinging assessment of the WP and the AHPETC’s managing agent, FM Solutions and Services (FMSS). Khaw said he expects WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang “to take action against FMSS for monumental incompetence”.

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WP arrogant over lapses instead of being remorseful, says Khaw
Minister urges Workers' Party to recognise gravity of town council's situation

Throughout the 2-day debate on the audit findings on Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), the Workers’ Party (WP) has been in denial and has shown no remorse for the lapses that were uncovered, charged National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Instead of acknowledging the mess they are in, he said they chose to play the victim & recycle their objections to the troubling audit findings in the House, even though these had been rebutted explicitly by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) report, which was at the centre of the parliamentary debate over the past 2 days.

“This consistent pattern of evasive behaviour gives us cause to doubt the sincerity of the AHPETC Members of Parliament (MPs) when they come to this House to declare their support for the motion and assure that they will make necessary changes,” said Mr Khaw. “I am a forgiving man and I listened very carefully to their speeches, hoping to find some dose of sincerity and genuine remorse. Sadly, I found none.”

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Khaw: Town council’s lapses ‘affect residents’ interests, safety’

Lacking in transparency, appointing a related party as its managing agent and failing to promptly deal with problems — such was the pattern of behaviour on the part of Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), & this has implications on residents’ interests & safety, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday.

Kicking off a motion in Parliament to address the issues raised by the Auditor-General’s report on AHPETC’s finances and management, Mr Khaw noted that this was the 1st time the Auditor-General had undertaken a special audit on a town council to look into concerns about its financial circumstances.

Questions on how AHPETC is spending its funds which include grants from the Ministry of National Development directly affect the interests and safety of the constituencies’ residents. “They are not trivial technical issues raised merely to satisfy the accountants and auditors or meet financial regulations,” Mr Khaw said. “Unfortunately, the observations in AHPETC auditor’s report have raised serious questions about the reliability & accuracy of its financial and accounting systems.”

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Parliament: Khaw chides AHPETC’s behaviour, MND to take action

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan today (Feb 12) rebuked the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), saying its behaviour is “unacceptable”.

He was speaking in Parliament on the Auditor-General’s audit on the town council, which had flagged several major lapses in “governance and compliance”. The report is “a sad commentary on the state of affairs at AHPETC, he said, adding that the MND will take action.

POOR PATTERN OF BEHAVIOUR - Mr Khaw said the AHPETC exercised a lack of transparency, & failed to disclose things on time or submit required reports, adding that they “came up with yet another excuse”, when the ministry gave them reminders. Financial reports aside, he said the town council’s FY2013 cyclical maintenance works report - which informs MND of any delays in replacing major infrastructure - was also late for more than 6 months and was incomplete and inaccurate, he said.

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WP has betrayed the trust of residents of Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East, says Heng
Parliament on Friday unanimously adopted a motion endorsing the Auditor-General's findings of lapses at the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC). During the parliamentary debate on the motion on Friday,  Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said the motion boils down to one word: Trust. We reproduce the full text of his speech in Parliament:

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak because I’m concerned about the well-being & interests of the residents of Aljunied, Hougang & Punggol East. I’m concerned about their lives and their homes.

They have been short-changed by their MPs, and they have been kept in the dark. I am concerned about the well-being and interests of all Singaporeans. Elected MPs are expected to be clean, honest and to act with integrity.

This Motion boils down to one word: Trust.

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Workers' Party town council episode shows need to strengthen laws: Heng Swee Keat
The episode with the Workers' Party (WP) town council shows the need to strengthen the governance of town councils, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat on Sat

His comments come a day after Parliament unanimously endorsed the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) findings of serious lapses at the opposition-run town council & called for stiffening the law regulating town councils.

"We need to ensure that the interests of residents are well served & that there is sufficient safeguards for the use of public funds," he said at the sidelines of a community event.

He added that details about how the Town Council Act will be amended will be revealed later

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Heng Swee Keat’s allegations – wild claims or fact?
In Parliament on Friday, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat joined in the attacks on the Workers’ Party (WP) over the management of the WP town council, AHPETC

In particular, Mr Heng claimed how WP non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), Yee Jenn Jong, & “a group of party supporters” had “walked away quickly” when the resident allegedly asked the WP “group” about the town council issue.

“But he didn’t answer & walked away quickly,” Mr Heng told the House. “So is this the answer Mr Singh (&) the WP promised to residents? A WP CEC (central executive council) member and his activists meet residents, and they evade the question?”
Mr Heng continued:

“Won’t answer auditors. Won’t answer Parliament. Won’t answer residents. Who is left in Singapore that the WP think is worthy of an answer?” It is rather strange to claim the WP was not answering to everyone or anyone.

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WP criticised for making ‘flimsy’ excuses for AHPETC’s lapses

People’s Action Party parliamentarians came out strongly against the Workers’ Party (WP) today (Feb 13) over its running of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) & accused it of trying to dodge blame for the lapses uncovered by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO).

Describing AHPETC as a “house in disarray”, Mr Liang Eng Hwa, Member of Parliament (MP) for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, took aim at the WP’s “lax attitude” in managing the town council’s sinking fund, as he echoed his party colleagues’ warning that its residents will suffer in the long run as a result.

The opposition party has also thrown up excuses instead of accounting for the deficiencies flagged in the audit, said Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Hri Kumar Nair, adding that it had even tried to paint a misleading picture that no wrongdoing was found

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related:

AGO Report 2015/2016
Auditor-General's Report FY2013/2014
Auditor-General's Report FY2014/2015
'Pervasive' lapses in WP town council
Lapses in Governance And Compliance
MPs debate "Lapses in Governance And Compliance"
Town Councils Graded On Corporate Governance
The AHPETC Saga
MPs debate "Lapses in Governance And Compliance"
Lapses in Governance And Compliance
Town Councils Graded On Corporate Governance
From Desmond Lawrence Sylvia to AHPETC
Social Media Takes On Town Council
Town Council Grants And Surplus Issues
From Adverse-Opinion, Ceiling-Cleaning to Unlicensed-Fair
From AIM AHPETC to PA
From NEA MND MOF to AGO
Low Thia Khiang: "Time for WP-run town councils & NEA to move on"
Dr Vivian: "Clean up and apologise, then we talk"
Sylvia Lim: "Is NEA Playing Politics?"
White Clouds Clearing For Blue Skies
"Worst-case Scenario" Of A 6.9 Million Population
Media release by the AHPETC - Minister’s Belated Statement Uncalled For
Paying high salaries to mitigate corruption