Town councils: Transparency & accountability? – Aljunied had $5.5m surplus in 2011?

I refer to the article “Accountability and transparency needed from AHPETC: Desmond Lee” (Channel NewsAsia, Nov 21).

Aljunied had $3.3m operating surplus in 2011

It states that “AHPETC received the same S&CC grants in FY12 that it got before the 2011 General Election.  Yet, in FY10 the TC ran an operating surplus of $3.3m, but in FY12 it ran a deficit of $734,000.  Why did this happen?”

Aljunied had $5.5m accumulated surplus in 2011?

– Was Aljunied before it was lost to the Workers’ Party, arguably collecting too much S & CC (perhaps too zealously too?) – resulting in an operating surplus of $3.3m, in addition to an accumulated surplus of $2,170,987, to give a total accumulated surplus of $5,471,371 for the year ended 31 March 2011.

AHPETC had $3.3m deficit, but $2.7m accumulated surplus in 2013?

In contrast, despite an operating deficit of $3.3m, AHPETC ended the year (31 March, 2013) with an accumulated surplus of $2,748,196.

Why accumulate so much surpluses? 

From the perspective and the interest of residents – how appropriate is it for town councils to (over) accumulate so much operating surpluses – only to have them transferred to the sinking fund at the next election?

“Confuse the public and distract them from the real issues”?

As to “AHPETC has yet to explain its serious financial mismanagement, and the S&CC arrears.  Instead, we have seen a coordinated online campaign to distract the public, using falsehoods, half-truths and speculations, by friends, sympathisers and proxies of the Workers’ Party (WP).  The aim is to confuse the public and distract them from the real issues.  MND has addressed these untruths.  This is what the WP often does when caught under the spotlight – raise a flurry of red herrings in the hope that people forget that they have not come clean.

The key issue is accountability and transparency.”

“Accountability and transparency”?

– In the spirit of “accountability and transparency” and “distract (them) from the real issues” – Can the following information be disclosed and questions answered?

Historical grants?

Why not give the historical year-to-year total government grants and the breakdown into the different funds, for opposition and PAP town councils, so that the people can see and judge for themselves?

Breakdown of flats?

Why not just give the breakdown of the types of flats in the opposition and PAP town councils, and the changes before and after the last elections due to boundary changes, instead of a general statement on the percentage of 3-room or smaller flats in some town councils?

Section 34?

Since as I understand it – Section 34 of the Town Councils Act states that 100% of the accumulated surplus has to be transferred to the sinking fund if the winning party is a different one – why was Aljunied allowed to contravene the legislation and only transfer 80%?

Also, what is the rationale to amend the legislation such that the accumulated surplus has to be transferred to the sinking fund when there is an election – thus, depriving residents of the surplus for operating expenditure. And why 80% if the same party wins, but 100% if a different party wins?

Since AHPETC’s annual report for 2012 indicated an an accumulated surplus of $5,471,371 for the year ended 31 March 2011 – why is it that the MND’s clarification says that $3.7M (80% of the accumulated surplus was transferred to the sinking fund)?

No upgrading for you?

By the way, have we forgotten that Singaporeans were threatened for decades during elections that their flats would not be upgraded if they voted for the opposition.

The “real issue”? 

The real issue is arguably not so much about one opposition town council’s S & CC arrears in one year, but the entire system and policies relating to town councils.

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.