AMK CPIB probe: Same conflicts of interest like Aljunied?

By: Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “AMK Town Council general manager under CPIB probe” (Straits Times, Dec 30).

It 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).

Works for managing agent & also general manager and secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council

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 Thursday (Dec 29).”

Conflict of interest?

Isn’t it a conflict of interest for an employee of the town council’s managing agent to be also the general manager and secretary of the town council?

After reading the subject news article – as a resident of Aljunied town council – I googled “aljunied town council conflict of interest secretary managing agent” and found the following:-

Same conflicts of interest flagged by Aljunied’s auditor?

“These were among several improper payments that the town council made to managing agent FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) and service provider FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI), said KPMG.

Such improper payments were made in a situation where there were “control failures” and conflicts of interest, as the shareholders of the two companies were holding key management positions in the town council.

These include a failure to address serious conflicts of interest and a lack of meaningful oversight by town councillors, it added.

KPMG identified six FMSS shareholders who held key management posts in AHTC, such as secretary, general manager, and finance manager – creating a conflict of interest” (“AHTC failed to address conflicts of interest, says independent auditor KPMG” (Straits Times, Nov 7).

Why same conflict of interest in Ang Mo Kio?

In view of the the independent auditor, KPMG’s report on Aljunied town council regarding “serious conflicts of interest” – why do we have similar conflicts of interest in Ang Mo Kio town council?

Other town councils also have conflicts of interest?

Are there such conflicts of interest in the other town councils as well? If so, what actions have such town councils taken, given that KPMG flagged such “serious conflicts of interest” in town councils? How long have these conflicts of interest been going on?

GM replacement also same conflict of interest?

As to “An acting general manager, Mr Lim Kian Chiong, has been appointed to replace him, according to a notice published last month in the Government Gazette.

Mr Lim is also an employee of CPG Facilities Management, contracted to manage the estate” – why are we still continuing to have such similar conflicts of interest?

Do town council councilors understand the meaning of “conflicts of interest”?

With regard to “Mr Ang, who is an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said the town council received a complaint in September about Mr Wong concerning “the way he handles contracts and dealings in the town council”.

He added that the complaint “arose out of his dealings which relates to probable behaviour needing investigation done by CPIB”.

“Needless to say, the town council ourselves will render all the assistance needed to ensure zero tolerance for corruption,” said Mr Ang.

“There’s responsibility on the part of our contractors to do the job properly, if they do it inappropriately then we will take follow up actions with regards to getting them replaced (and) sending the case for investigation, making sure the necessary steps are taken” – do town council councilors understand the meaning of “conflicts of interest”?

Superfluous when conflicts of interest are already inherent and embedded in the town council system?

In respect of “Mr Ang declined to reveal details about the case, citing ongoing investigations, but said that the town council constantly reminded its staff to declare any interests concerning tenders that the town council was awarding.

Staff from the managing agent were also reminded that “if there are declarations to be made, if there are interests to declare, the people involved (must) make those declarations”, he said.

He added that the MPs of the GRC had made it a point to personally check on projects performed by its contractors, “so not 100 per cent is done by the managing agent with no oversight” – isn’t all these kind of superfluous when “serious conflicts of interest” are already inherent and embedded in the town council system?

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