Tuesday, 10 January 2017

"You're not going to get angels in power all the time"

Shanmugam compares town councils' responses over corruption allegations

When asked about the view that a People's Action Party (PAP) run town council should be held to higher standards, he said: "You're not going to get angels in power all the time."

"You look for clean people, but sometimes, people fall prey to temptation. You cannot prevent that, not now, not ever."

The WP, in response, said in a statement that the law should be allowed to run its course.

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'Let the law take its course': Shanmugam on Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager

In response to a question asking if PAP town councils should be clean to begin with, the Law and Home Affairs Minister said: "You find me a set of people in the world, a society, where nobody commits offences & everybody is clean.

"The real point is whether the system as a whole is clean, primarily, whether the man at the top is clean, whether the system moves quickly & immediately & forcefully regardless of who it is. You look for clean people but sometimes people fall prey to temptation."

"In Ang Mo Kio Town Council, complaint made, CPIB is in," he said.

related: CPIB investigating Ang Mo Kio Town Council General Manager

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WP responds to Shanmugam's comments comparing AMK Town Council case to AHTC
The Workers' Party has hit back at Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, after he compared the Ang Mo Kio Town Council's (AMKTC) handling of the case involving its general manager to the practices of the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council on Jan 6, 2017. TODAY file foto

The Workers' Party (WP) has responded to comments made by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam comparing the Ang Mo Kio Town Council's (AMKTC) handling of the case involving its general manager to the practices of the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, which had been rapped for failures in governance by independent auditor KPMG last year.

Earlier on Fri (Jan 6), he had said: "In contrast to the only place where this Government is not in charge, in that one place, first you have people appointing their cronies to run the Town Council. You have town councillors being misled on the terms that these cronies were appointed."

AMKTC's general manager and secretary Victor Wong had been asked to go on leave by his company CPG Facilities Management – the managing agent of the town council – after the town council received a complaint about him last Sep. He was suspended from his posts in November last year, & is currently under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). Mr Shanmugam had made it clear that no one will be spared from investigation, once an allegation has been made.

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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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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).


'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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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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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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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