Asked if it was a matter of responsibility and duty for WP members to first consider directly managing AHTC since there would be substantial cost savings, Mr Pritam Singh said it would have been moot because town councillors from Hougang Town Council (which merged with Aljunied Town Council), made up the nucleus of appointed councillors at the newly formed AHTC.

“They would have known that the need to proceed with the managing agent model would have been more compelling. They would have intuitively understood that in Hougang, Mr Low had to do everything on his own,” he said, referring to the former WP chief.

However, Mr Davinder Singh noted that AHTC received no bids in its managing agent tender in 2012 because of the strong message sent to other managing agents — CPG, EM Services and Cushman & Wakefield — that they would not stand a chance against FMSS.

“What you are doing is effectively telling the world, ‘Don’t bother to come and try and get the contract from us. We will go on our own’,” the lawyer added.

Mr Davinder Singh also said that if Mr Pritam Singh felt there were good grounds for a waiver of tender, it would have been the “responsible thing” to do to lock in FMSS for three years, since it was ready to keep to the rates charged by CPG.

This would save AHTC from price negotiations, but instead the waiver of tender applied for just a year.

Disagreeing, Mr Pritam Singh said that since FMSS was willing to go with the prevailing rates of CPG, that had given him the “comfort” that nothing was done in the “shadow of darkness” to benefit FMSS.

Furthermore, he and his elected WP members were “labouring under” a need to “take over fast, stabilise operations, then move forward”, so as to avoid any disruption in services to residents, he added.

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