NCMP Daniel Goh calls out Today newspaper's biased report on AHTC's "17 breaches"

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UPDATE: TODAY corrected the errors in their article and have also apologised. The newspaper further changed the title of their article to make it more accurate.

Their correction read: “In our earlier report, we said that KPMG has highlighted 17 instances of financial management lapses. This is incorrect. These were earlier identified by the Auditor-General’s Office and subsequent accountant’s reports. What the KPMG report found were 15 lapses that were yet to be resolved. We also stated wrongly that the report was released by KPMG. The report was made public by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. We are sorry for the errors.”


Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Daniel Goh called out the shoddy reporting of Today newspaper in his Facebook today. We republish his note in full.


Seriously bad reporting (not even journalism here) by TODAY. The first paragraph reads,
“SINGAPORE — The first report released by audit firm KPMG — appointed by the Workers’ Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) to remedy compliance and governance lapses – has highlighted 17 instances in which the town council failed to comply with rules set out in the Town Councils Act and financial rules governing town councils.”

Two errors in the opening paragraph that gives the negative spin of devastating findings by the KPMG auditor of “breaches” by AHTC.

One, the report was not released by KPMG. Paragraph 2 of AHTC statement: It is AHTC which released the report. The KPMG report was submitted to AHTC and HDB. I don’t recall the requirement for any party to release the report and KPMG certainly didn’t release the report. The report is released on AHTC’s site, not KPMG or HDB …

Two, the report does not “highlight” or “flag” 17 “breaches”. The 17 lapses were already known in the AGO report and subsequent accountant reports. KPMG was appointed to assist and advise AHTC to identify the lapses and remedial actions to be taken. Did the reporter read para 1.1.1 of the KPMG report?

“For the avoidance of doubt, “outstanding non-compliance” refers to issues identified (the “Audit Points”) in the report (“the AGO’s Report”) of the Auditor-General’s Office of Singapore (the “AGO”) and in subsequent accountant’s reports for financial years ended 31 March (“FYE”s) 2014 and 2015 (together with the AGO’s Report, the “Audit Reports”).”

Avoidance of doubt, as though the auditors knew that such negative spin would come!
And the best part is, TODAY actually got the facts right when it gave a preview on its FB page (you can see it embedded in the main article actually, the irony):

“The Workers’ Party-run Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) has released the first monthly progress report by its auditor KPMG. In the report, the auditor made several observations about the running of AHTC, such as how it “does not have a policy management process to manage the creation, updating and management of all corporate policies and procedures.” Read more: http://bit.ly/23EpJRN

AHTC chairman Pritam Singh said in a statement that the town council had discussed the auditor’s recommendations, and “agreed to implement a policy management process, a governance and internal control framework, guidelines for Finance Department staff, and an accounting manual, with target completion in July 2016”.
Read the full report here: http://www.ahtc.sg/…/201604-KPMG-Monthly-Report-on-Progress…

Read AHTC’s statement here: http://www.ahtc.sg/media-release-16-april-2016/

“Story to come?” Spin to come, you mean? The rest of the story is actually straightforward reporting of the report, which is quite okay, but of course, the opening paragraph frames the reading.

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