Corruption in Town Councils? Let the law take its course!

The General Manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) is being investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). Apparently, he was asked to go on leave following a complaint against him in September. From the news reports, it’s not clear who made the complaint. Was it someone from within the town council? Or was it someone else?

But Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Home Affairs, was quick to compare what happened in AMKTC with what happened in AHTC. He said:

“In Aljunied Town Council, court application after court application, auditor-general to investigate because they wouldn’t give the information to their own auditors. Their own auditors prepared a report saying we are being denied the information. You call that good behaviour with public funds? Investigations are ongoing because you have a further set of accountants looking at more information. Eventually, all of this will have to come to a full circle once the auditors have finished their work. There is more to come. But this is not the way to do things. The way to do it is to disclose all the information; be upfront; hand it over and then let the law take its course. Not hide every step of the way.”

The assumption of course is that the auditors looking into the account of the AHTC will find something incriminating. But as what Worker’s Party (WP) said in their response to Minister Shanmugam’s comments:

“When the July 2016 report by KPMG on AHTC came out, AHTC ordered a 100 per cent check on the S$60m direct journal entry and dummy code issues. Some people jumped prematurely on the possibility of fraud and ficticious payments without waiting for the results of the audit.”

So is Minister Shanmugam being too presumptuous? Or does he know something that we don’t? In any case, if anyone has good reasons to suspect that anyone in AHTC is corrupt, they can easily make a complaint to CPIB. Then, just like what happened in AMKTC, CPIB will swoop in and call up the relevant people for investigation.

And with the authority that it has, surely CPIB will be in a better position to gather the evidence to prove if there is indeed corruption. After all, while AHTC may deny information to auditors, surely they can’t deny information to CPIB, right? So if there really is any good reasons for anyone to suspect that there is corruption in AHTC, then surely for the public’s interest, that person should really make a complaint to CPIB right? If not, then that person really is being quite irresponsible, no?

Surely Minister Shanmugam isn’t an irresponsible person. Surely he is quite civic minded. Otherwise he won’t be a Minister, right? But he hasn’t made a complaint to CPIB yet. So that means he also doesn’t have good reason to suspect that there is corruption in AHTC. That means all the things he’s saying is… merely speculation. Right?

And what if all that speculation turns out to be premature? What if it turns out that there isn’t any corruption, but merely that AHTC is… lousy at all that administrative paperwork. What then? Would he apologise?

I highly doubt so.

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