Aljunied-Hougang Town Council lawsuit

Appeal hearing postponed after Sengkang Town Council's request

Sengkang Town Council had asked for six weeks to consider its legal position on case

The hearing follows a High Court judgment last year which held that former Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang and party chairman Sylvia Lim had breached their fiduciary duties to the AHTC, among other things.
The hearing follows a High Court judgment last year which held that former Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang and party chairman Sylvia Lim had breached their fiduciary duties to the AHTC, among other things.LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO

The appeal hearing involving Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), which is run by the Workers' Party (WP), has been postponed, following a request by the new Sengkang Town Council (SKTC).

The hearing was due to be held last Monday, but MP He Ting Ru, on behalf of SKTC town councillors, had asked for an adjournment to allow for "sufficient time" to consider its legal position on the case, according to court papers.

Ms He had written on Aug 10 to the Supreme Court Registry to request a six-week adjournment.

In her letter, Ms He referred to the Town Councils (Declaration) Order 2020 and argued that the relevant sections suggest "to us that the outcome of the appeal hearing and any judgment of the Court of Appeal will bind SKTC and, therefore, ultimately affect the residents of Sengkang whose interests we must safeguard".

She added: "We consider it prudent to obtain legal advice relating to the steps SKTC ought to take (if any) including whether to file an application for intervention and if so, the legal position to take."

SKTC's involvement in the case stems from the changing status of Punggol East since 2013.

Punggol East was managed by AHTC when it was a single-seat constituency won by the WP in the 2013 by-election.

But in the 2015 General Election, it was wrested back by the People's Action Party and came under the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council.

The single-seat constituency, however, became part of the new Sengkang GRC when the electoral boundaries were drawn for the general election on July 10.

With the WP winning Sengkang GRC, the area now comes under the SKTC.

The appeals court hearing follows a High Court judgment last year which held that former WP chief Low Thia Khiang and party chairman Sylvia Lim had breached their fiduciary duties to the AHTC, among other things.

 
 
 

Both of them were then town councillors of AHTC, which had taken a civil suit against them for alleged improper payments made under their watch.

The case also involved WP chief Pritam Singh and other AHTC town councillors as well as the former managing agents of AHTC. They, too, are appealing against the High Court judgment.

The request for adjournment by SKTC followed from a letter that the law firms involved in the case, including Davinder Singh Chambers, had received from the Supreme Court earlier this month, informing them that the hearing of the appeals was to be held on Aug 17.

They wrote to the Supreme Court Registry on Aug 5, saying that they would leave it to the court to decide whether the appeal hearing should proceed on Aug 17.

The court replied that it would proceed unless SKTC applies to intervene or seek any relief, such as an adjournment.

As Sengkang Town Council was not a party to the appeals, it sent its request for an adjournment to the Supreme Court Registry and also wrote separately to Davinder Singh Chambers for its assistance in drawing the Registry's attention to the request which, in turn, was brought to the top court's notice.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2020, with the headline 'Appeal hearing postponed after SKTC's request'. Print Edition | Subscribe