The lawyer representing a town council which is suing veteran opposition MP Low Thia Khiang insisted on the ninth day of the hearing that Low had made up his mind to replace the incumbent managing agent for Aljunied GRC within days of being elected in May 2011.
And in going about to ensure that FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) would emerge as the only alternative managing agent for the newly formed Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), “FMSS had been given a gun to put to AHTC’s head”, said Senior Counsel (SC) Davinder Singh, who was cross-examining Low.
“If they have a gun, they didn’t have the trigger,” Low replied, disagreeing with Singh’s suggestions that he had put AHTC in a vulnerable position and compromised the interests of residents.
Low was taking the stand for a second consecutive day in the high-profile trial centring around $33.7 million in residents’ monies alleged to have been improperly spent by their town council.
AHTC was formed after the WP won Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC in the 2011 GE. In the January 2013 by-election, the WP won Punggol East SMC and it joined AHTC, which became known as AHPETC. But WP lost the constituency in the 2015 GE and it became part of Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC), while AHPETC reverted to AHTC.
In July last year, at the direction of an independent panel, AHTC sued Low, WP chairman Sylvia Lim, secretary-general Pritam Singh, along with AHTC councillors Chua Zhi Hon, Kenneth Foo Seck Guan, WP supporter How Weng Fan and FMSS. Two months later, PRPTC followed suit.
The plaintiffs allege, among other things, a breach of fiduciary duties and improper payments made to FMSS and its service provider FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI), between 15 July 2011 and 14 July 2015.
In the High Court on Wednesday, SC Singh, who is the lawyer for PRPTC, suggested that Low’s priority in ensuring Hougang Town Council staff continued to have jobs after the 2011 GE was the reason why the opposition MP wanted FMSS to be AHTC’s managing agent, and did not call for a tender in the first year.
Singh also reiterated his case that Low and the WP MPs had formed the decision to remove Aljunied Town Council’s incumbent managing agent CPG Facilities Management, even before the latter informed them that it wanted to be released from its contractual obligations on 30 May 2011.
Reading out from an email between the WP MPs, Singh said, “The existing managing agent of Aljunied Town Council, CPG, will report to us until we release them at such date not later than 1st of August.”
“That sentence makes it clear that that was already a decision,” Singh asserted.
The WP’s former chief disagreed with both of Singh’s points.
Looking squarely at Low in the eye, Singh said, “I’m sorry to tell you that you’re dishonest.” Low replied, “I’m looking into your eyes and telling you the truth.”
Later in the day, when Low asked for a question put to him by Singh to be clarified, Singh said, “You know what I’m asking. Please don’t play for time.”
Singh also put to Low that none of the WP MPs “conducted yourselves responsibly”, in regard to carrying out due diligence with FMSS. The firm had proposed to carry out the scope of work stipulated under the CPG’s contract with Aljunied Town Council, but Low did not know which part of the contact would be applicable or not.
Low paused for a few seconds, prompting Singh to say, “I’m waiting for an answer Mr Low.”
Low admitted that certain questions ought to have been asked by the MPs, and that he did not look at the contract, but he did not know if the others had.
The hearing resumes on Thursday with Low on the stand.