During the debate in Parliament on Town Councils on 13 May 2013, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan made several remarks about the Workers’ Party (WP), Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) and AHPETC’s managing agent (MA), FM Solutions and Services Pte Ltd (FMSS).
Ms Sylvia Lim (Chairman of the WP and AHPETC, MP for Aljunied GRC) and Mr Pritam Singh (Vice-chairman of AHPETC, MP for Aljunied GRC) responded in Parliament to the Minister. The following is a summary of the key clarifications raised:
FMSS’ alleged party affiliations and preferential treatment
Following the General Election in May 2011, then-managing agent, CPG Facilities Management, had asked to be released from its contract with Aljunied Town Council (ATC). CPG was concurrently contracted as an MA with another PAP Town Council (TC) and felt that they could not work for both PAP and WP TCs. Hence there was a need to engage a new managing agent for the newly constituted Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC).
At that time, there were only a few companies in the market that provided town management for HDB estates: Esmaco, EM Services and CPG, all of which also had existing contracts with PAP Town Councils. The set-up of FMSS was due to the very real possibility that WP would be faced with no other company to manage AHTC.
None of FMSS’ shareholders and directors are WP members and FMSS is not a WP-owned company. FMSS was engaged based on its directors’ experience in property management, professional skills and track record in running Hougang Town Council. One of the directors of FMSS was the former General Manager of Hougang Town Council.
Managing agent contract tendering process
In 2011, Ms Lim exercised her rights as Chairman of the TC to waive a tender for the MA contract when it was first awarded after the GE. The Town Council Financial Rules provide for tender process to be waived in certain circumstances. The reason for the waiver was the urgency in the public interest to put in place a Managing Agent to handle the handover in time.
In 2012, Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) issued an open tender for a new MA contract. There were three companies that picked up the tender documents, but only FMSS submitted a tender. AHTC was aware of its duties when dealing with a sole tenderer, and that the TC needed to ensure value for money for its residents. AHTC had also commissioned a special external audit of the tender award as an additional assurance of compliance and good governace practices, and that steps had been taken to ensure value for money.