Much Ado About Town Councils and Corporate Governance

WP-managed Aljunied Town Council had a red mark on its corporate governance score card in a MND report on how town councils managed their financial records and procedures. WP explained that the entire system was run and terminated by Action Information Management, the company which previously supported the PAP town council pre-GE 2011. As it was terminated, Aljunied could not get a replacement system running from scratch and thus could not submit its report in time.

Action Information Management defended itself that Aljunied should have applied (and thus paid for) an extension of its services after September 2011. Should we give WP a break about its technical lack of compliance? As this is the first time they are running a town council and although it has been more than a year since they took over Aljunied, yes we should give WP some slack for its failure to submit an audit report promptly because its financial system was not in place. However, public patience is quickly running thin if WP continues to use that excuse in future of transition hiccups and being new in the job. They are in parliament already and should get its act together faster and better.  If they can’t run a town council overnight, what about a country.

Nevertheless, WP already assured that its own system is up and running and everything is on track, especially its serious issue of arrears i.e. not paying up when it should.

The other question we should ask is that Tampines and Jurong Town Councils had Amber ratings in their corporate governance, presumably despite submitting their audit reports on time. We would assume they had established practices in place etc. How and why did they get Amber ratings? Invested their money in mini-bonds again?

Firm defends itself against WP comment
My Paper
Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012

SINGAPORE – The company that Aljunied-Hougang Town Council chairman Sylvia Lim identified as a factor for the town council’s less-than-stellar performance defended itself against the comment yesterday.

Last Friday, a performance report on town councils here by the National Development Ministry showed that Aljunied- Hougang Town Council was the only one that did not have a corporate-governance score.

The ministry said this was because the council had not submitted the auditor’s management letter in time.

Ms Lim said in a statement that a reason for the delay was that use of the council’s computer and financial systems was terminated by Action Information Management. The firm owns the systems, developed by the People’s Action Party town councils.

The Workers’ Party (WP) runs the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, formed after WP won Aljunied GRC at last year’s May General Election.

Ms Lim, who is WP’s chairman, said that following the election, her town council was notified that use of its computer and financial systems would be terminated from August last year “due to material changes to the membership of the town council”.

Ms Lim said this meant the council had to develop its own systems in a two-month timeframe, which was a “near-impossible task”.

However, Mr S. Chandra Das, chairman of Action Information Management, clarified in a letter to the media yesterday that the council had requested two extensions from the firm on the use of the systems.

The first one was until Aug 31 last year and the second one was until Sept 9 last year, which Mr Chandra Das said Action Information Management had “readily agreed” to.

“If Aljunied-Hougang Town Council had asked for a longer extension, Action Information Management would have similarly agreed,” he said.

“However, after the second extension, (the council) did not ask for further extensions.”


6 responses

  1. Err… the ‘arrears’ represents slow collection by the town council, not slow payment by town council. In Hougang, they’ve said they’re more understanding than PAP.

    December 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  2. Pingback: Daily SG: 19 Dec 2012 | The Singapore Daily

  3. Authority

    The question is why did the 14 TCs transfer ownership of the system to a dormant company with 3 ex PAP MPs as Director. How much did AIM pay for it and how was the money re-distributed to the TCs. How much does it cost the TCs to lease it back?. How was AIM selected and was it in accordance to government IM.

    December 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm

  4. 2nd extension is from 31Aug11 to 9Sept11. Logically speaking if WP ask for a 3rd extension, how many days extension will it be granted? More than 10 days? The reply by Chandra Das is nothing but a redherring, trying to appear sympathetic and reasonable.Where on earth can we find a vendor such as Aim able to dictate terms that appeared to be politically motivated.

    December 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm

  5. Why was there termination in the first place? Why can’t they still share the system? Seems like a huge waste of money to be building a new system. These are the questions that we need to ask, not the emptiness contained in this post.

    December 20, 2012 at 7:21 pm

  6. Authority

    It been days and yet no answers from the TCs, AIM or PM. If the people do not get a answer to their questions soon, the party is going to lose all its credibility of being uncorrupted. The TCs with a Mayor are running the organisation like some syndicate where members are being rewarded for their affiliation and loyalty to the party. This incident indicates that it might be much more rampant and the rot has reached epidemic levels. Orwell was right, absolute power corrupts absolutely

    December 21, 2012 at 12:03 pm

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