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SG Khaw orders review of town councils

Property Here - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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By Shabnam Muzammil:

The government will conduct a comprehensive review of the legislation governing all town councils in Singapore, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in his ministerial statement in Parliament yesterday.

To be led by Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry, the review will focus on three areas — the councils’ duties and responsibilities in relation to HDB, the adequacy of funds as well as long-term financial sustainability, and the arrangements when they change hands between MPs.

MPs also debated on whether to depoliticise town councils.

“As custodians of public funds, all MPs must act in the best interest of residents, regardless of which political party they support…At the same time, town councils unavoidably have some political elements...(but) it does not mean that MPs can use town-council assets, or can allow town-council assets to be endangered or cut off from town-council use for political reasons,” said Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim.

But Mr Khaw maintained that town councils are by nature, political institutions and the need to establish a link between an elected MP and his voters through his work in the town council cannot be faulted.

“We should not return to a situation where HDB administers estates all over Singapore, and MPs have no authority or responsibility over what is done or how well things work,” he noted.

Town councils have been in the spotlight following the dispute between the Aljunied-Hougang branch and PAP-owned company Action Information Management (AIM). 

But the Ministry of National Development (MND) cleared AIM of any wrongdoing earlier this month, declaring that there was nothing wrong with the sale of town council software to AIM. MND added that the transaction did not result in any loss or misuse of public funds, or compromise the interests of residents.

 

Shabnam Muzammil, Senior Journalist at PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories email shabnam@allproperty.com.sg