Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Charles Chong: Pledge to clear up Punggol East's books

By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent and Jessica Lim, The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2015

If elected in Punggol East SMC, People's Action Party candidate Charles Chong will open its books, get independent auditors to dig into the accounts and find out its "exact financial position".

Speaking last night at a rally in Pasir Ris, he said: "We need to find out the exact state of accounts and how the money was spent."

GE2015: Charles Chong on Punggol East
PAP's Charles Chong plans to remove Punggol East SMC from AHPETC, open up books for independent auditors.LIVE UPDATES: WATCH LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The veteran backbencher is challenging Workers' Party (WP) candidate Lee Li Lian, who won the seat in a 2013 by-election.

Referring to WP's claims that Punggol East was in deficit before being handed over to the party's town council, Mr Chong said the facts are clear, despite conflicting accounts. He added that PAP town councils have been transparent, and voters can access the financial statements of their town councils.

"I would have brought a piece of paper to show you here tonight, but I don't think those sorts of theatrics are necessary, nor is it constructive. We must have nothing to hide, and our accounts must always be reliable and properly certified, for everyone to see," he said.

As soon as the accounts are put in order, he said he would get the Ministry of National Development to restore the grants due to Punggol East so that the PAP can improve maintenance and cleanliness in the estate.

For immediate release.On 24 August 2015, I was interviewed by Lianhe Wanbao on my potential candidacy in Punggol East...
Posted by Charles Chong on Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Workers' Party 'deliberately misquoted me' on Punggol East funds: Charles Chong
The People's Action Party candidate for Punggol East SMC called on the WP to subject the accounts at the WP-run Aljunied-­Hougang-­Punggol East Town Council to an independent audit to "bring closure" to the issue.
Channel NewsAsia, 9 Sep 2015

People's Action Party candidate Charles Chong said that the Workers' Party - whose candidate Lee Li Lian is the incumbent at Punggol East SMC - "deliberately misquoted" him on the issue of Town Council funds.

WP Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang said at a rally that after the WP won the single-seat constituency in a January 2013 by-election, it took over the Town Council with a deficit of about S$280,000.

However, in a press release on Wednesday night (Sep 9), Mr Chong said he was referring to the surplus at the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council. He also called on the WP to subject the accounts at the WP-run Aljunied-­Hougang-­Punggol East Town Council to an independent audit to "bring closure" to the issue.

"On Aug 24, 2015, I was interviewed by Lianhe Wanbao on my potential candidacy in Punggol East SMC for the then­‐upcoming General Election. One of the issues covered in the interview was that of town council finances affecting Punggol East.

"The interview, carried in the Aug 25, 2015 edition of Lianhe Wanbao, quoted me as saying that when Punggol East was handed over to the Workers’ Party, the Town Council had a surplus in excess of S$1 million. This was clearly a reference to Pasir Ris-­Punggol Town Council (there being no entity known as “Punggol East Town Council”).

"The Workers’ Party (WP) has deliberately misquoted me to give the impression that I said that Punggol East had a surplus of S$1 million when it was handed over to them. This is a very regrettable move on the part of the WP and has served to further confuse and mislead the public and also to distract voters from the main issue – that of the WP being unable to provide a set of unqualified accounts for Aljunied-­Hougang-­Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) since the WP took over those constituencies.

"The lack of unqualified accounts and absence of transparency has prevented the public from properly understanding the true financial situation at AHPETC.

"For the record, Pasir Ris­‐Punggol Town Council (PRPGTC) ended its 2012/2013 Financial Year with a surplus for the year of approximately S$1.7 million. PRPGTC’s audited – and unqualified – financial statements for FY2012/2013 are available for download from its website, http://www.prpg­‐

"Rather than continuing to trade numbers, the WP can bring an end to the uncertainty by subjecting AHPETC to an independent third party audit – including a forensic audit – and by providing full co-operation to the independent auditors. This will allow the public to have a clear and unqualified picture of the financial health of AHPETC and bring closure to this issue."

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