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Ownself check ownself


Alfrescian (Inf)

'Ownself check ownself' is a virtue, S'pore in trouble if Govt can't ensure public accountability: Ong Ye Kung​

'Ownself check ownself' is a virtue, S'pore in trouble if Govt can't ensure public accountability: Ong Ye Kung

Institute of Policy Studies
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, with moderator Woo Jun Jie from the Institute of Policy Studies, speaking at the Singapore Perspectives 2022 forum on Thursday (Jan 13).
  • "Ownself check ownself" is a virtue, otherwise the Government cannot be accountable to the public, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung
  • The phrase was originally coined by Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh in 2015
  • Mr Ong was responding to a question asked at a Institute of Policy Studies conference on Thursday
  • Besides having institutions and a neutral civil service to ensure accountability, having an opposition presence in Parliament also helps to surface alternative views, he said
  • Nevertheless, Mr Ong does not believe a two-party system will happen in Singapore given its small size



Published January 13, 2022
Updated January 13, 2022
SINGAPORE — A government that has its own set of checks and balances is one that is accountable and functions well, which is why the Singapore Government's ability to "ownself check ownself" is a virtue, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Thursday (Jan 13).

Mr Ong was making reference to a remark first made popular by Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh during an election rally on Sept 2, 2015, when he was criticising Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong's comment that the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) exists in a political system where it is its own check.
"People can say 'ownself check ownself', but I see it always as a virtue — if ownself cannot check ownself, you're in big trouble," Mr Ong said at a forum organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

During the panel discussion on Thursday morning, Mr Ong said Singapore is unlike other countries, where layers of civil servants leave every time the ruling political party changes.

Instead, Singapore has a "neutral, non-politicised" civil service, with an independent Public Service Commission to appoint the top civil servants, he noted, adding that state organs, such as the Auditor-General's Office, as well as the courts, also play a part in keeping the Government clean and functioning well.
"There will always be a role for different kinds of institutions, for checks and balances, (to) ensure that the executive branch is always accountable to the people," he added.

Mr Ong, who is also assistant treasurer of the PAP's central executive committee, was replying to a question from the virtual audience at the Singapore Perspectives 2022 conference on whether he believed a strong Singapore is compatible with having a strong opposition or even a two-party system as seen in some countries.
In his response, he also said that the presence of an opposition in Parliament allows alternative points of view to come forth and that the ruling PAP has to take these views seriously.

"All of this (put) together, I think we can have a fairly effective functioning state that serve the people," he said.
Mr Ong added he does not believe that a two-party system can arise in Singapore, even though some may argue that the Republic already has one now.
Unlike in larger countries such as the United States, where people's political views can differ greatly depending on which part of the country they live in and political parties can thus cater to these vastly different perspectives, Singaporeans do not have vastly different views from each other, he noted.
"Between Jurong and Changi, people worry equally about cost of living, about Covid-19, and in terms of fundamental views, it may differ from person to person, but not between regions," he said.

"So as a city state, if Singaporeans are unhappy with one policy, the Government can change it. If the Government does a good job and people are happy, it spreads throughout the island as well."

He said that as the ruling party, the PAP has to continue the good work of earlier generations, make sure that it is an accountable government that serves the people and ensure policies must make sense and acceptable for the majority, even if they may not please everyone.
"If we can do that, we can continue a good path and I feel this is the role of my party," he said.

Mr Ong, who is widely pegged as one of the main contenders for Singapore's next prime minister, had earlier on Thursday morning given a keynote speech on the rise and fall of global cities, and the sociopolitical factors that makes Singapore an effective city-state.

While other countries in the past had to contend with ideological contradictions between the right and the left, modern societies face new contradictions in inequality, protectionism and climate change — the three biggest issues that Mr Ong said nations must grapple with today.
This is why a strong state is needed, even as healthy discourse and the proper functioning of checks and balances remain important, he said.
"Our policies need to be consistent for the long term to make an impact. Unlike bigger countries, we cannot afford to be caught in fractious politics with frequent change of governments and reorientation of policies."

More crucially, Mr Ong said, challenges can be overcome with Singaporeans' sense of togetherness — the idea that people here are part of a close-knit tribe that has a better shot of the future by working together and making sacrifices for each other.

"Then something mysterious emerges, beyond security, beyond making a living, beyond creature comforts, like the soul of a nation," he said.


Alfrescian (Inf)

No charges brought against MP Louis Ng for holding placard without permit to support hawkers​


MP Louis Ng had been investigated for holding up a piece of paper that read "Support Them" during a visit to Yishun Park Hawker Centre in 2020. PHOTO: LOUIS NG KOK KWANG/FACEBOOK

Jean Iau

Oct 5, 2022

SINGAPORE - Following police investigations, Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng will not face criminal charges for failing to apply for a permit before he visited hawkers while holding up a placard in June 2020.
It was earlier reported that Mr Ng was being investigated for holding up a piece of paper that read "Support Them" with a smiley face printed on it.
A spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) told The Straits Times on Wednesday that AGC directed the police to take no further action against Mr Ng under the Public Order Act.
"Investigations have revealed that Mr Ng was exercising his duty as a Member of Parliament, in expressing care and support for the welfare of the hawkers in his constituency during the Covid-19 pandemic," said the spokesman.
The spokesman added that the nature of the act and the intent of the person performing the act are key considerations in deciding whether an offence has been committed or whether there is any public interest in prosecuting the offence.
Mr Ng posted about his trip to Yishun Park Hawker Centre on Facebook on June 20, 2020, encouraging residents to visit the hawkers weeks after the circuit breaker period had ended. In pictures that accompanied the post, Mr Ng could be seen holding up the sign.
He wrote: "(Hawkers) worked hard during the past few months to try to make ends meet and to provide yummy food for us. More than ever, our hawker heroes need our support."

Under the Public Order Act, an assembly is defined as a gathering or meeting with the purpose of demonstrating support for, or opposing the views or actions of, any person, group or government.
It also applies to publicising a cause or campaign, marking or commemorating any event, and includes a demonstration by a single person.
Mr Ng was investigated after activist Jolovan Wham was charged with holding up a piece of cardboard with a smiley face drawn on it in Toa Payoh in March 2020.
Wham, who in September 2022 served 15 days behind bars instead of paying a $3,000 fine for a separate assembly, was earlier given a discharge amounting to acquittal for the charge involving the smiley face. This means he cannot be charged again with the same offence.
The Straits Times has contacted Mr Ng for comment.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Senior SPH Media staff taken to task or have left company after review finds issues with circulation data​


A spokesman said the company had in March 2022 initiated a review of internal processes. PHOTO: ST FILE

Goh Yan Han
Political Correspondent

Jan 9, 2023

SINGAPORE - Several senior employees of SPH Media have been taken to task or left the company after an internal review found issues linked to circulation numbers.
An SPH Media spokesman on Monday said: “We have immediately taken steps to strengthen processes.
“The staff involved had been taken to task, or had left the organisation.”
The employees were not named.
The spokesman said the company had in March 2022 initiated a review of internal processes.
This included the reporting of circulation data.
“Some inconsistencies in the reporting of the data were discovered,” said the spokesman.

SPH Media cited several examples of these inconsistencies, in reply to queries from The Straits Times.
Lapsed contracts continued to be counted into circulation data.
There were also copies that were printed, counted for circulation and then destroyed; as well as double-counting of subscriptions across multiple instances.

“A project account was injected with additional funding over a period of time to purchase fictitious circulation,” the spokesman said.
“Certain circulation numbers were arbitrarily derived,” she added.
These resulted in a discrepancy of between 85,000 and 95,000 daily average copies across all titles, which represents 10 to 12 per cent of the reported daily average circulation, the spokesman added.
SPH Media publishes The Straits Times and The Business Times, as well as Lianhe Zaobao, Shin Min Daily News, Berita Harian and Tamil Murasu.
The review was initiated shortly after SPH Media was spun off in December 2021 from mainboard-listed company Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) to become a not-for-profit entity - a company limited by guarantee (CLG).
The period of review was from September 2020 to March 2022.
This period included a full financial year, from September 2020 to August 2021, plus two quarters - from September 2021 to November 2021, when the media business was still part of the listed company, as well as from December 2021 to March 2022, when SPH Media had become a CLG.
SPH had first expressed intent in May 2021 to transfer its media business to a company limited by guarantee, to help secure funding from public and private sources.
The move was approved in September 2021 by shareholders of SPH, which, like other media companies globally, had struggled with falling advertising revenue and losses in recent years.
Following the move, the Ministry of Communications and Information said in February 2022 that SPH Media would get government funding of up to $180 million annually over the next five years, and the company would be required to provide half-yearly progress updates.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Whistleblower shared SMT CEO told staff to “let the matter rest” at townhall meeting before its scandal went public​


SINGAPORE — Staff from selected departments at SPH Media were allegedly told to “let the matter rest” at a town hall meeting by the Chief Executive Officer of SPH Media Trust (SMT) over actions taken against executives who were said to be connected with the misrepresentation of the circulation figures for its publications.

This is according to a whistleblower who self-proclaims to be part of a group of individuals who have obtained the information from sources within the revenue and advertising arm of SMT and Straits Times (ST) who have attended the town hall meeting.

A scoop by Wake Up Singapore (WUSG) on 8 January shared allegations of the departures of three senior executives in SPH Media over alleged discrepancies relating to circulation and/or subscription numbers.

A day later, SPH Media, through a report by ST, acknowledged that some inconsistencies in the reporting of the data were discovered during a review of internal processes in March 2022, which looked at a period from September 2020 to March 2022.

This included the reporting of circulation data, lapsed contracts that continued to be counted into circulation data and also copies that were printed, counted for circulation and then destroyed, as well as the double-counting of subscriptions across multiple instances. There was also a project account which was injected with additional funding over a period of time to purchase fictitious circulation.

“Certain circulation numbers were arbitrarily derived,” noted the SPH Media spokesperson, which resulted in a discrepancy of between 85,000 and 95,000 daily average copies across all titles, which represents 10 to 12 per cent of the reported daily average circulation.

The media publications of the former Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) were incorporated as SMT, a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG), on 19 July 2021 after being cut off from SPH due to its declining revenue. They include ST and The Business Times, as well as Lianhe Zaobao, Shin Min Daily News, Berita Harian and Tamil Murasu.

“Let the matter rest at that”, asks SMT CEO​

According to the whistleblower, the town hall meeting was held some days after several executives were “taken to task or left the company after an internal review”, and was hosted by the CEO of SPH Media Trust, Ms Teo Lay Lim.

No specific date was given by the whistleblower, and neither did SPH Media on when actions were taken against the executives.

In it, she informed the members who attended of the actions taken by the company and asked them to “let the matter rest at that” — referring to the departure of the executives.

The CEO was said to be concerned about the matter coming to the attention of the Ministry of Communications and Information and being debated and questioned in the Singapore Parliament.

It was highlighted that the town hall meeting was not attended by all members of the company but only staff from the marketing, advertising and circulation departments.

The whistleblower suggests this implies that the CEO and the top management did not want the entire staff strength to know about this matter.

It was also pointed out that no circular on the departure of these several executives and the reasons for their departures were made known — via an HR circular — to the staff.

The whistleblower also said that the group understood that the “fabricating of circulation numbers” was a common practice before the internal review, certainly before September 2020, which further suggests that members of the past management may have known about this practice, and shareholders of SPH were deliberately misled.

“It was very likely that the annual reports in the years when circulation began to fall had probably contained inflated figures.” wrote the whistleblower in the email.

Had it not been for the scoop by WUSG, it would be highly likely that SPH Media would have kept mum about the findings of its review.

Double counting, legitimate​

This was, in a way, acknowledged by former ST editor and SPH marketing chief Leslie Fong said in a WhatsApp message that has been circulated that when a household pays for both a print copy and a digital subscription, the Audit Bureau of Circulation Singapore (ABC) allows that sale to be counted as two copies.

Mr Fong, who later confirmed with TODAY the veracity of the message, added: “In some other countries, if the digital subscription covers an e-paper or PDF (Portable Document Format) version, the publisher can and often does claim a count of three. SPH kept it as two.

So this is legitimate ‘double counting’, not cheating or inflating.”

Mr Fong, whose 46-year stint with SPH also included 15 years as editor of ST, as well as three years as editor of the Chinese-language Shin Min Daily News, said that since more than two decades ago, the ABC has accepted as legitimate that bulk sales to advertisers for free distribution can be counted in its circulation figures even if only half of the copies were picked up.

“That bulk sale of, say, 1,000 copies of the ST to, for example, a shopping mall for free distribution to its shoppers be counted as 1,000 circulated copies,” he said in his message that has been circulated.

This has been industry practice endorsed by every external auditor the company has used and every SPH main board led by the likes of former Cabinet Minister Lim Kim San or former president Tony Tan, Mr Fong said.

Copies that were sent free to advertising agencies for their principals’ reference are also included in circulation numbers, he added.

“Newspaper publishing is not a simple business,” he said.

It is said in SPH’s annual report that the total print and digital circulation numbers reported are in accordance with the rules set by ABC in 2016.

TOC wrote to ABC last week to ask if its rules have been violated by SPH Media and whether actions would be taken against it but has yet to receive a reply.

SMT funded up to S$180m per year​

Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo confirmed in Parliament in February 2022 that the Government will fund SMT to the tune of up to S$180 million annually over the next five years for a total of S$900 million.

So far, no minister has issued any statement over the scandal. Mr Khaw Boon Wan, former People’s Action Party Minister and Chairman of SMT, is also missing in action.

Responding to media queries over the matter, a Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) spokesperson said the ministry has asked SPH Media to share its full findings and has recently received SPH Media’s internal report on the matter.

“MCI will undertake our own review to determine if these inconsistencies in circulation data affect the decision to fund, and the amount the Government committed to fund SPH Media. MCI expects SPH Media to fully cooperate with our review,” said the spokesperson.

The whistleblower also wrote, “We don’t want our identities to be made known, so we are writing this to your organisation in confidence, and we hope our sharing will lead to greater transparency and accountability on the management of public monies and the upholding of public trust.

The email was sent to other publications in Singapore and has been circulated on private messaging.

TOC wrote to the senior management of SPH Media for clarifications last week, but no reply has been received as of the publication of this post. We will include SPH Media’s response in the post once it is provided.


Alfrescian (Inf)
SPH and the PAP government tried to downplay the fraud. An investigation was initiated only after a public outcry.

SPH Media tasks audit committee to look more fully into overstated circulation data​


Seven employees were taken to task over the matter in December. Four of them have left the company, while the other three were served warning letters. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Tham Yuen-C
Senior Political Correspondent

Jan 20, 2023

SINGAPORE – SPH Media’s board has asked its audit and risk committee to further investigate overstated circulation numbers that were discovered in an audit in 2022, and consider what further steps should be taken.
In a statement on Friday, the media company, which came under public criticism after announcing the discovery on Jan 9, said its board’s audit and risk committee will focus investigations on the preliminary findings that circulation figures had been overstated by up to an average of 90,000 daily copies in some months.
The committee will also commission legal advisers to assist in the probe, and report its findings directly to the SPH Media board.
SPH Media had, in March 2022, initiated a review to assess data that it had taken over from its predecessor Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPHL), which had transferred its media business to SPH Media Trust, a new company limited by guarantee.
The review covered the period between September 2020 and March 2022, which included a full financial year of SPHL from September 2020 to August 2021. An independent Big Four advisory firm, one of the four largest professional services companies, was commissioned to assist in the review, which found the inconsistencies in circulation data.
Giving more details about the discrepancies for the first time since news on the matter broke, SPH Media said that of particular concern was an overstatement of an average of 49,000 daily copies – or 5 per cent of total daily circulation then – of news titles, which include The Straits Times.
This figure had been recorded as circulation numbers, although the copies were never distributed. The majority were digital copies.

Another 5,000 daily copies on average continued to be recorded in circulation numbers after contracts had lapsed, while 17,000 copies on average were recorded as a result of a failure to check that reported numbers were accurate against actual usage tracked in the system.
There was also a possible discrepancy of an average of 19,000 daily copies, which included a barter arrangement with another publisher, which SPH Media did not name.
The committee is chaired by former managing partner of EY Asean & Singapore Max Loh, and comprises Allen & Gledhill co-head of mergers and acquisitions Lim Mei and HSBC Singapore’s vice-chairman of global banking for South-east Asia Philip Lee.

News of the overstated circulation numbers broke after several senior employees of SPH Media left the company in December 2022, following the internal audit.
In its statement on Friday, the company said a total of seven employees had been taken to task over the matter at the end of December. As a result, four of them have left the company. The other three were served warning letters.
Since the over-reported numbers were uncovered, some advertisers have said publicly that they had contacted the company over the matter.
In an e-mail to advertisers on Jan 10, SPH Media Group’s chief executive Teo Lay Lim said that circulation data is not used as a basis for the company’s advertising packages. Instead, media rates and advertising packages are based on reach and readership, an estimate of how many readers a publication has.
This data on reach and readership is collected periodically via a survey panel that is statistically representative of the Singapore population, Ms Teo had said.

Circulation data is a count of how many copies of a publication are distributed, such as through regular subscriptions or off-the-shelf purchase.
The company did not clarify what circulation numbers are used for and the impact the overstated figures could have had. The discovery had also sparked questions about how long the practices that led to inconsistent data had gone on for, and why they had not been discovered or announced earlier.
In Friday’s statement, SPH Media said that circulation data reported in previous annual reports – when its predecessor company Singapore Press Holdings was still listed on the Singapore Exchange – was stated to be in accordance with the rules set by the Audit Bureau of Media Consumption Singapore. This entity ceased operations in Singapore in 2019, as digital and media advertising grew and quantifying print circulation became less relevant.
“To obtain data on reach and readership, SPHL commissioned surveys conducted by independent third-party research agencies such as GfK,” said SPH Media.
It added that in the light of the changing media environment, the company is reassessing the methodology for the reporting of circulation data to establish a new framework and baseline to measure its performance, something publishers elsewhere have done as circumstances have changed.
SPH Media said: “SMT is committed to upholding integrity in every part of our business.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

(From top left to right) Chow Yew Yuen, Tong Chong Heong, Tay Kim Hock, former, (From bottom left to right) Kwok Kai Choong, Choo Chiau Beng, Jeffery Chow

SINGAPORE — The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) and Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) have said that they will not name the six former senior management staff of Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited (KOM) who were issued stern warnings over offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).

CPIB made a press statement on Thursday (12 Jan) about the stern warnings issued to six former senior executives of KOM after close to five years of its investigations after consultation with AGC.

The offences relate to bribe payments to officials of Brazilian state-owned corporation Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras), pertaining to rigs-building contracts which Petrobras and/or its related companies had awarded to KOM.

Six former executives were determined to have been implicated in the scheme through investigations by the United States’ Department of Justice (DOJ), as documented in the plea agreement signed by KOM.

According to the admissions and court documents, beginning by at least 2001 and continuing until at least 2014, KOM conspired to violate US’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying approximately US$55 million in bribes to officials at the Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras, and to the then-governing political party in Brazil, in order to win 13 contracts with Petrobras and another Brazilian entity.

KOM and its related entities, including KOM USA, are said to have earned profits totalling approximately US$159.9 million from the P-61 project.

CPIB was reported to have arrested six former executives from KOM in Feb 2018 following the DoJ’s investigation. The six were subsequently let off on bail, and the matter was then referred to the AGC to decide if charges were to be filed.

Individuals investigated are not named​

Back in 2018, Members of Parliament from the Workers’ Party (WP) filed Parliamentary Questions over KOM soon after CPIB, and AGC served a conditional warning to KOM on 23 December 2017 for corruption offences punishable under Section 5(b)(i) of the PCA.

Of the many questions, one was why the identities of the Singaporeans involved in the bribery case cannot be named.

Answering on behalf of the Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, Ms Indranee Rajah said:
The Government’s position is very simple. The Government deals with the Government’s actions. So, the Government’s actions are that when investigations are on-going, we do not disclose the identities of people being investigated. What other people may say outside, what other information may be floating outside, what other comments may go on in social media, that is separate.
But as the Government, as an investigation authority, the Government does not disclose names of individuals who are being investigated. And we are not alone in that. All civilised jurisdictions which observe the rule of law uphold that principle simply because, as I have mentioned earlier, we do not want to prejudice either the investigations or the persons being investigated, depending on how the investigation might turn out.

Who might be the six who have been issued stern warnings?​

While the Singapore Government has not named the six who were issued stern warnings over the offences, details contained within an attachment of the plea agreement between DoJ and KOM and reports on the court hearings in Brazil might help to shed some light on the issue.

The attachment listed details of six executives who were part of DoJ’s investigation.

KOM Executive 1, a citizen of Singapore whose identity is known to the United States and KOM USA, was a senior executive of KOM from 2002 to 2014.

KOM Executive 2, a citizen of Singapore whose identity is known to the United States and KOM USA, was a senior executive of a wholly-owned, Singapore-based subsidiary of KOM in or about and between 1989 and 2009 and a senior executive of KOM in or about and between 2013 and 2017.

KOM Executive 3, a citizen of Singapore and legal permanent resident of the United States in or about and between 2002 and 2013, whose identity is known to the United States and KOM USA, was a senior executive of KOM USA in or about and between 2002 and 2011 and a senior executive of KOM in or about and between 2011 and 2017.

KOM Executive 4, a citizen of Singapore whose identity is known to the United States and KOM USA, was an executive at KOM in or about and between 2002 and 2017. He was an executive at KOM USA in or about and between 2011 and 2017.

KOM Executive 5, a legal permanent resident of the United States since 2015, whose identity is known to the United States and KOM USA, held executive positions at multiple KOM subsidiaries in Brazil in or about and between 2003 and 2017. He also held an executive position at KOM and at KOM USA in or about and between 2012 and 2017.

KOM Executive 6, a United States citizen whose identity is known to the United States and KOM USA, held various senior positions in the legal department of KOM in or about and between 1990 and 2017.

Names revealed in report on court hearings​

And although the six were also not named by DoJ, a report by Bloomberg in 2016 on the court proceedings at a Brazilian court over the bribery case shed light on the matter.

The Consultant who assisted KOM in bribing the Brazilian officials was identified as Zwi Skornicki.

Skornicki also reportedly told the court that five Keppel executives were involved. They are:

1. Chow Yew Yuen, then-current Keppel Offshore & Marine CEO
2. Tong Chong Heong, former senior executive at Keppel Corp
3. Tay Kim Hock, former CEO of Keppel Fels Brasil
4. Kwok Kai Choong, then-current CEO at Keppel Fels Brasil
5. Choo Chiau Beng, a former Keppel Corp CEO and former non-resident ambassador to Brazil

Portfolio of the six executives involved in the US DoJ investigations​

Using the details in the plea agreement, it can be ascertained that the six unnamed executives are those who have been identified in the Bloomberg report.
Chow Yew Yuen was the CEO of KOM from 1 February 2014 to 20 March 2017. He was with the company for 36 years and first joined Keppel FELS in 1981 as a project engineer. Over the next decade, he worked in various departments and rose through the ranks to become the president of Keppel AmFELS and later the president of Keppel O&M USA.

Tong Chong Heong was the CEO of KOM from 1 January 2009 to 31 January 2014. Tong has served as Executive Director on the Keppel Corporation Board since 1 August 2009 and the Chairman of Keppel FELS Brasil SA; and Senior Executive Director of Keppel Corporation Limited.

He was also appointed Chairman of Keppel Integrated Engineering (KIE) previously on 3 August 2009 after serving on the KIE board since 1999.

After stepping down as CEO, he was appointed senior adviser to KOM and Keppel Infrastructure boards. Mr Tong was conferred Singapore’s Public Service Medal in August 1999.

Tay Kim Hock, was President & CEO of Keppel FELS Brasil S/A, President of FSTP Brasil Ltd, and President of the Administrative Council of BrasFELS SA from Jun 2000 to Oct 2007. Following that, Tay became Senior General Manager of KOM from Nov 2007 to Mar 2009.

He was Head Marine & Offshore Engineering of IMC Industrial Group from Jan 2010 to May 2012 and Director of Penguin International from 2012 to 2015. Straits Times had earlier reported that Tay was one of the six being arrested by CPIB in 2018.

Kwok Kai Choong was the CEO at Keppel Fels Brasil from 2007 to November 2017.

Choo Chiau Beng was CEO of Keppel Corporation from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2013. Before that, he was CEO of Keppel FELS from 1983 to 2008 and Chairman & CEO of KOM from 2002 to 2008. He was Executive Director of Keppel Corporation since 1983 and Senior Executive Director since 2005.

Upon his retirement on 1 January 2014, Choo was appointed Senior Advisor to the Board of Keppel Corporation.

In July 2014, Choo was appointed by the National University of Singapore (NUS) as Provost’s Chair and Professor (Practice) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Department of Management and Organisation, NUS Business School.

Choo was formerly appointed as Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil in 2004 and has left the position.

As for the sixth executive, while not named by Skornicki, the news reported his name in the coverage of the case.

Jeffery Shiu Chow, a US citizen, was reported to have cut a deal to help prosecutors in their probe of Keppel and other former executives. Chow pleaded guilty on 29 Aug 2017 to conspiring to violate the FCPA as part of his deal to cooperate. He admitted to drafting contracts that were used to make bribe payments, according to court records.

He is a former senior member of KOM’s legal department and has worked in the legal department for over 25 years. Although a US citizen, Chow resides in Singapore.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Reasons for funding SPH Media still valid; circulation issue doesn’t affect decision: Josephine Teo​


The Minister for Communications and Information said no public monies have been lost due to the circulation data discrepancies. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Tham Yuen-C
Senior Political Correspondent

Feb 6, 2023

SINGAPORE – The recent discovery of overstated circulation data at SPH Media Trust (SMT) will not affect the Government’s decision to fund the media company, as the reasons to help develop local newsrooms remain valid, said Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo.
She added that there is no change to the Government’s commitment to fund SMT by up to $900 million over five years.
The level of funding – to support SMT in digital transformation and capability development, and to sustain vernacular newsrooms – remains valid, she told the House, as there is a need to preserve local news media in the public interest amid severe disruption in the industry.
Mrs Teo also said circulation numbers of the company’s publications were not a key consideration in assessing the funding required for SMT’s transformation.
Her remarks in Parliament on Monday came in response to 26 questions filed by MPs. SMT, which publishes The Straits Times, among other publications, is facing public criticism after it emerged that an internal review found circulation figures for some of its publications had been overstated by about 85,000 to 95,000 daily average copies. The review covered data between September 2020 and March 2022.

Mrs Teo emphasised that no public money has been lost due to the discrepancies in circulation figures, as the Government had pledged to start funding SMT only in financial year 2022 – after the period covered in SMT’s internal review. The Government also had yet to disburse any funds to date, she said.
The reasons for funding SMT, aired and debated in Parliament in 2021 and 2022, remain as valid today, she said of the findings her ministry made after a review sparked by the circulation issue.

Local news outlets give voice to the Singapore identity and Singaporean perspectives, and also provide information people can trust to be accurate and objective, she said.
It has become even more important to ensure their survival at a time when the Internet has made it exceedingly easy for all kinds of information to reach and influence domestic audiences, Mrs Teo said.
“SMT’s internal review of circulation numbers reinforced our assessment that the media landscape had become highly unfavourable for news organisations, even if they had substantial reach and were trusted by the public,” said Mrs Teo. While this did not make it right for anyone to overstate circulation numbers, it reaffirmed the need for restructuring, she added.

But, she said, “SMT’s board and management must also be mindful of their public duties, their responsibility to maintain the public’s trust in their newsrooms and journalists, and the need to discharge these responsibilities in a diligent and timely manner”.
SMT had said in a media statement on Jan 20 that it had tasked its audit and risk committee to further investigate the matter and to commission legal advisers to help. The committee will report its findings to SMT’s board.
Mrs Teo said the board will have to share these findings with her ministry.
She also said that SMT will be held to account when it receives government funding.
In this regard, the Government’s focus is on readership and reach, which measure how many people read the publications, and not circulation, which measures how many copies are sold or distributed.

Mrs Teo noted that readership and reach are measured through surveys done by third parties, such as research agencies like GfK, external sources such as the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, and the Government’s own surveys.
She added that there are safeguards in place in the Government’s agreement with SMT to ensure public funding is used in an accountable and responsible manner.
The key performance indicators (KPIs) the Government will look at to assess SMT’s performance include the total reach and engagement of the company’s products, especially on digital platforms, and also specific reach indicators for vernacular groups and young people, she said, noting that the indicators will determine the amount of funding.
These indicators and the company’s financial statements must be audited by independent external auditors before they are submitted to the Government, which can also conduct its own audits, she added.
SMT will also have to provide progress updates to the Ministry of Communications and Information on a half-yearly basis.
“Funding will be disbursed only if SMT provides satisfactory regular updates on where and how funding has been utilised, and future business plans. The Government will also review the funding quantum during the midterm and adjust KPIs and funding where necessary,” Mrs Teo said.

Asked by Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) what the Government will do to ring-fence its funds if the company’s internal review finds criminal wrongdoing, Mrs Teo said safeguards have been built into the funding agreement and can be exercised if necessary.
Several MPs wanted to know the Government’s next steps. Mr Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC) asked what the Government would do to ensure the overstatement does not happen again, while Ms He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC) asked how the Government would restore trust in SMT’s publications after the episode.
Said Ms He: “People might be thinking, if the organisation goes to such lengths to falsify circulation figures such as even pulping newspapers, would we still be able to trust the content that’s delivered by these organisations?”
Responding, Mrs Teo urged MPs to wait until the company’s audit and risk committee finishes its investigations, adding that she would not prejudge the outcome.
She said that while SMT’s board is accountable to the company’s members, it also has “a responsibility to let the public know how (it intends) to proceed”.
Mrs Teo also made a distinction between SMT and Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH), saying that the discrepancy in data was discovered by SMT’s own internal review.
In 2021, then mainboard-listed SPH spun off its media business, which was then incorporated as SMT, a company limited by guarantee, on Dec 1 that year.

Many MPs also had questions on the details of SMT’s internal review, including how long the practice of overstatement had been going on and the financial implications of the inaccurate circulation data.
Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa took issue with the manner in which SMT had handled the issue, and asked why the organisation had not broken the news of the discrepancies itself, given that the role of the news media is to “expose wrongdoing”.
Mrs Teo said their concerns are valid, and the questions should be addressed by SMT.
“The Government cannot speak on behalf of SMT, and it is premature for us to say more at this juncture,” she added, noting SMT’s ongoing investigations.
Acknowledging that the episode has affected SMT, including its newsrooms and journalists, she said SMT’s board will have to do what is necessary to rectify things if any problem is found and be transparent in how it will do so.


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Five questions on SPH Media’s overstated circulation numbers​


Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said the Government concluded that the reasons for providing public funding to SPH Media remain valid. PHOTO: MCI

Ng Wei Kai

Feb 6, 2023

SINGAPORE — Several MPs raised questions in Parliament on Monday about SPH Media’s overstated circulation numbers that came to light in January. Here are five questions Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo was asked and her responses.

Why did SPH Media not break the news itself?​

The news of SPH Media’s circulation issues was broken by an independent online publication rather than by the organisation itself, said Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP).
She asked Mrs Teo why this was the case, as one of the roles of a media organisation is to expose wrongdoing.
Mrs Teo said many things happen in an organisation each day, and it is up to the management to decide if and how an incident ought to be communicated, both within and outside of the organisation.
She noted that the review of circulation numbers was initiated by SPH Media, and that it was still under way when news of the overstated figures emerged. It has also convened a further review by its audit and risk committee to set things right, she added.
“Should the manner in which they communicated have been approached differently?” she asked. “I think that is a matter that SPH Media and the management and the board will have to consider.”

Has trust in SPH Media and its publications been broken?​

Workers’ Party (WP) MP He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC) asked if public trust in the company has been broken, and whether or not any steps will be taken in the interim to restore that trust.

She said: “If the organisation goes to such lengths to falsify circulation figures, even pulping newspapers, would we still be able to trust the content that’s delivered by (it)?”
In response, Mrs Teo reiterated that SPH Media is expected to share the findings of its audit and risk committee’s investigation with the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) once it is completed, and make the necessary rectification.
SPH Media has a responsibility to let the public know how it intends to proceed, and this responsibility is not lost on its management and board, she said.

“If there was any doubt that they did not take this matter seriously, I don’t see why they would have convened another review by their own audit and risk committee.”

Was there insufficient due diligence in deciding to provide SPH Media with public funding?​

Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai of the PSP said circulation data should have been part of the Government’s due diligence before it committed in 2022 to fund SPH Media up to $900 million over five years.
He noted that while the Government’s metrics for accountability of public funding to SPH Media are readership and reach, circulation data is an important area, and he questioned if there was inadequate due diligence by MCI.
In response, Mrs Teo said MCI conducted a review in January of the reasons for which it had committed public funds to support SPH Media’s capability development.

These included the intense competition faced by professional newsrooms as news consumption shifts online, the long-term public interest of preserving local news media, and the need to support vernacular news outlets to reflect Singapore’s multiracial make-up.
She said the Government concluded that the reasons for public funding remain valid, as does the level of funding.
“Should these be affected by the findings of the audit and risk committee? At this stage, it is too early to say – I will not prejudge,” she said.

Will there be any legal action taken against its employees or management?​

Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) and Mr Louis Chua (Sengkang GRC) asked if there could be criminal sanctions, civil liabilities or regulatory action taken against SPH Media’s employees or board.
Mrs Teo said that if there is any evidence that laws were broken, SPH Media Trust is obligated to inform the police. Until the audit and risk committee has completed its work, one should not prejudge the outcome, she added.
As for Mr Chua’s question on whether circulation revenues were impacted, that is the reason SPH Media has asked its committee to investigate the matter more fully, she said.
“Until they have completed their work and shared their findings, I think everything else that we say is speculative.”
Reasons for funding SPH Media still valid; circulation issue will not affect decision: Josephine Teo
SPH Media tasks audit committee to look more fully into overstated circulation data

Were earlier circulation figures also overstated?​

Mr Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) asked if circulation figures reported by SPH Media before the period that was reviewed were accurate, and if the overstatement of circulation figures was a longstanding practice.
Mrs Teo said these questions are better addressed after the SPH Media committee completes its investigation and shares its findings.
“Keep in mind that these discrepancies were uncovered as a result of an internal review that was initiated by the SPH Media management in the first place,” she said in response to another question on circulation figures by Mr Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC).
“So I think it is clear that the intent of the SPH Media board as well as its management (is) to put things on the right footing, and we should support them in this process.”


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Did the CPIB put a serious effort and enough resources into the investigation?
Or were they instructed to do wayang kulit?

Insufficient evidence to prosecute those involved in Keppel O&M corruption case: Indranee​


Six former Keppel O&M employees were investigated for allegedly conspiring to give bribes to foreign consultants involved in the company’s business interests in Brazil. PHOTO: KEPPEL CORP

Natasha Zachariah

Feb 6, 2023

SINGAPORE – In the absence of key witnesses and sufficient evidence, a decision was made to issue stern warnings instead of prosecuting six former senior management staff of Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) over alleged bribe payments, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah in Parliament on Monday.
However, if compelling and new evidence surfaces, the public prosecutor (PP) can and will re-evaluate the decision, she added, stressing that Singapore’s zero-tolerance policy towards corruption must be upheld in a manner that complies with the rule of law.
Responding to 17 parliamentary questions filed on the matter, Ms Indranee said: “Simply put, there is a lack of sufficient evidence, either documentary or through witnesses, which would establish any criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt against a specific individual.”
Referring to a press statement that the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) issued in January, Ms Indranee said the agency had done its best, including working with international partners to uncover evidence.
“CPIB conducted an in-depth investigation within Singapore, within the scope of its legal powers. However... the difficulty with this case is that several potentially key witnesses are not in Singapore, and CPIB has not been able to secure their cooperation or agreement to testify in Singapore. “
She added that both the CPIB and Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) had done a careful and thorough review of the documents, including the deferred prosecution agreements and plea bargains, “and the public prosecutor has advised that those are insufficient to meet the burden of proof”.
CPIB made two fact-finding trips to Brazil in 2019. The AGC and CPIB also sent three mutual legal assistance (MLA) requests to Brazil to secure needed evidence, and an MLA request to another relevant foreign authority to interview other potential material witnesses.

“The contents and outcome of these MLA requests are confidential, but I can inform the House that they have either not yielded evidence that could be used to secure a conviction before our courts, or the responses have not been helpful in advancing the case,” said Ms Indranee, who is also Leader of the House.
There was also a foreign witness whose evidence in other proceedings could have been relevant to establishing the offences in Singapore, but the witness was unwilling – and cannot be forced – to provide evidence here, Ms Indranee added.
On Jan 11, the CPIB said the six former employees had been investigated for allegedly conspiring with one another to give bribes amounting to about US$55 million (S$72.8 million) to foreign consultants involved in Keppel O&M’s business interests in Brazil.

The money was then used to pay bribes to officials of Brazilian state-owned company Petrobras, pertaining to rig-building contracts that it or its related companies had awarded to Keppel O&M.
Under a global resolution led by the United States Department of Justice and involving Brazil and Singapore, a conditional warning in lieu of prosecution was issued to Keppel O&M for offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Keppel O&M paid a total fine of US$422 million and fulfilled all obligations under the conditional warning.
On why the six former staff were not named, Ms Indranee said CPIB does not reveal names unless individuals are charged in court, to avoid prejudicing the person’s right to due process, and avoid any presumption of guilt in the absence of formal findings.

She urged MPs who felt strongly about the matter to petition for change. However, she cautioned that it would be a major policy change and “it cannot only be for this case, it must be for all future cases”.
To Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim’s (Chua Chu Kang GRC) question on whether the Prevention of Corruption Act should be amended so the CPIB can conduct investigations outside its jurisdiction, Ms Indranee pointed out that other countries would not tolerate Singapore exerting its police powers beyond its borders, and vice versa.
“Members need to be realistic about what we can and cannot do. Singapore companies that operate overseas do so in myriad environments, where all kinds of business practices prevail. We cannot police all of them,” she said.
“However, what we can and should do is to insulate our companies, and our system against corruption.”
Addressing MPs’ concerns about how the case would affect Singapore’s reputation and zero-tolerance policy towards corruption, Ms Indranee said that there was no change to the policy.
“If subsequently new and compelling evidence comes up, the PP can and will re-evaluate the decision. The PP’s decision to issue stern warnings should be understood in that context,” she explained.
“Our zero-tolerance policy must be upheld in a manner that complies with the rule of law. The PP has acknowledged this, and this is exactly what the PP has done on the facts – to uphold the rule of law.”


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Issuing stern warnings to former Keppel O&M staff a balanced solution: Indranee​


Minister Indranee Rajah responds to questions in Parliament about the Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited corruption scandal. THE STRAITS TIMES

Natasha Zachariah

Feb 6, 2023

Issuing stern warnings to the six former management staff from Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited (KOM) was an “in-between” solution but the right thing to do, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah.
She was responding to a follow-up question from Workers’ Party MP Leon Perera (Aljunied GRC), who asked on what basis stern warnings were issued by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), given the insufficient evidence.
Ms Indranee said that a stern warning is given when one cannot give a complete clean bill of health, but at the same time does not have enough to clear the evidentiary hurdle.
“So you see, what are the choices: Do nothing at all, or bring charges when you know you don’t have sufficient evidence? Or is there something in-between? The stern warning device is the something in-between.”
She added that closing the investigation without doing anything would not have been the correct thing to do. “The stern warning device... it’s an expression of AGC’s position that we don’t think that you’re completely off the hook.”
Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) asked if the AGC did not pursue the case because it was an “uphill task in and of itself or outright impossible, given the available facts”.
Ms Indranee responded that the correct test is that there must be a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction, because there must be a certain threshold.

“Otherwise, if you just go around filing charges with insufficient basis, that would not make for a strong justice system. And that is the threshold that AGC feels that it is not able to get over in this particular case.”
Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh questioned if KOM board at that time when the offences were committed had “constructive knowledge” - something that they could reasonably be expected to know - of corrupt payments being made to secure contracts in Brazil.
“If the question is whether the investigation included determining if there was constructive knowledge, the answer is if constructive knowledge is not an offence, then there’s no reason for CPIB to be investigating this,” said Ms Indranee.
She added that the CPIB investigates offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), and that is what it had done in this case. “Unfortunately, there’s insufficient evidence for them to mount a prosecution.”
Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) asked if it was an opportune time to review Section 37 of the PCA - which describes the liability of Singapore citizens for offences committed outside Singapore - to include companies.
Ms Indranee replied that the Government’s general assessment is that the PCA does have sufficient powers, but it is open to suggestions if there is anything that can be usefully reviewed or improved.
She reiterated the Government’s zero-tolerance stance on corruption.
“We make sure that our laws are directed at ensuring that you have good corporate governance,” she said.
“So all the signals that we send as a government is to tell our companies, please do business properly. And of course, it’s incumbent upon those companies, not the Government, to ensure that their staff (and) their practices are clean and above board, and in accordance with proper governance.”


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Commentary: The nature of MP Tin Pei Ling’s new role at Grab muddies perception​

Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling has defended taking a new job at Grab. Corporate governance expert Mak Yuen Teen weighs in on the online frenzy and the actual and perceived conflicts.
Commentary: The nature of MP Tin Pei Ling’s new role at Grab muddies perception

MP Tin Pei Ling joined Grab Singapore as its Director of Public Affairs and Policy in January 2023. (Photo: Grab Singapore, Facebook/Tin Pei Ling)

Mak Yuen Teen

06 Feb 2023

SINGAPORE: The news that Member of Parliament (MP) Tin Pei Ling has joined tech giant Grab in a full-time role as director of public affairs and policy at Grab Singapore has been widely reported in the local and international media, and lit up the Internet.
In Singapore, many MPs have other full-time or part-time roles.
Prior to joining Grab, Ms Tin was CEO of Business China, a non-profit organisation that had the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew as its founding patron, with five current ministers as advisers, and a board of directors that includes several senior ministers of state and civil servants.
Before joining Business China in May 2018, the People’s Action Party MP - who was first elected to Parliament in 2011 - was group director of corporate strategy at Singapore firm Jing King Tech Group.
There was no online or media frenzy on those occasions.
However, this time the reaction has been vastly different. In her LinkedIn and Facebook posts responding to concerns of conflict of interest, she said:
“The company has established clear rules of engagement to ensure that any possible conflict of interest will be properly declared and avoided. Likewise, the People’s Action Party has a published set of Rules of Prudence, as well as mechanisms in place for declarations of interest and the avoidance of conflicting interests.”
She added: “I am absolutely clear that when I am discharging my duties as an MP, my constituents and Singapore come first. When I am working on behalf of Grab, I will have to ensure that Grab’s interests are safeguarded.”
It is not so straightforward.


As a company listed in the United States, Grab Holdings is required to have a code of conduct for its directors, senior officers and employees, which must be made publicly available.
Grab’s 13-page code of business conduct and ethics covers general principles relating to honest and ethical conduct and specific topics. There is a short one-paragraph section on Conflicts of Interest that serves to prevent actual and perceived conflicts, and reference to a separate Conflict of Interest Policy.
However, the code does not appear to specifically cover the situation of an employee who concurrently holds a position as a government official, such as an MP. It acknowledges that the code is not a complete list of legal or ethical questions and/or situations that may be faced, and said that it “must be used together with your common sense and good judgment”.
However, a code of conduct is mainly aimed at protecting a company’s interests. The concern here is not the company’s interest but the public interest.
I am surprised that Grab, being a company listed in the US, would employ an MP, who is considered a politically exposed person. Perhaps Grab’s head of ethics and compliance and general counsel deemed this a non-issue because she is not a board director or senior officer and her appointment is Singapore-based.


On the Government’s side, the PAP’s Rules of Prudence are communicated through a letter from the Prime Minister to PAP MPs after each election. It was last done for all PAP MPs in 2020. The rules are comprehensive, but they still require the MP to use their own judgment.
As for mechanisms for declaring interests, every MP is required to disclose to the Prime Minister, in confidence, their directorships, business and professional interests, latest employment and monthly pay, all retainers and fees that they are receiving, and whether their job requires them to get in touch with officers of government ministries or statutory boards on behalf of employers or clients.
It is unclear whether declarations must be made before accepting a job or appointment but regardless, it would be difficult to ensure compliance with the letter and spirit of the rules purely through self-declarations. Again, much would depend on the individual doing the right thing.


The Integrity Coordinating Group in Western Australia (WA) published a guide some years ago titled Promoting and Strengthening Integrity in WA Public Bodies which is useful for public officials to personally evaluate and address conflict of interest situations.
It recommends that an individual asks the following questions, which I have slightly adapted, to identify potential conflicts of interest:
  1. Do I have personal or private interests that may conflict, or be perceived to conflict with my public duty?
  2. Could there be benefits for me, now or in the future, that could cast doubt on my objectivity?
  3. How will my involvement in the decision/action be viewed by others?
  4. Does my involvement in the decision appear fair and reasonable in all the circumstances?
  5. What are the consequences if I ignore the conflict of interest? What if my involvement was questioned publicly?
  6. Have I made promises or commitments in relation to the matter? Do I stand to gain or lose from the proposed action/decision
It also suggests the following possible actions to resolve conflict of interest:
  1. Disclose the interest or conflict
  2. Restrict involvement in the matter, which may include not receiving information on the matter, not participating in discussions, and not being involved in making the decision
  3. Involve an independent third party to participate in, oversee, or review the integrity of the decision-making process
  4. Remove oneself altogether from the matter
  5. Dispose of the private or personal interests
  6. Resign from the organisation
Very importantly, it recognises that even perceived conflicts can be problematic. Further, declaring an interest or conflict is the minimum - it merely makes others aware of the interest or conflict but often does not resolve it.

MP Tin Pei Ling meeting residents during a walkabout at MacPherson. (Photo: Tin Pei Ling's Facebook Page)

File photo of Tin Pei Ling in Parliament.

People's Action Party candidate for MacPherson SMC Tin Pei Ling removing her mask just before her address on Nomination Day on Jun 30, 2020. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)


The Rules of Prudence tell MPs the following: “Separate your public political position from your private, professional or business interests. MPs who are in business, who occupy senior management positions in companies, or who sit on company boards should be especially vigilant. You must not exploit your public position as Government MPs, your close contacts with the Ministers, or your access to government departments and civil servants, for your personal interest or the benefit of your employers. Your conduct must always be above board.”
Even if Ms Tin’s role is not Singapore-based and does not involve interactions with the government bodies and officials here, perceptions of conflicts will likely remain because Grab is ubiquitous in Singapore and facing potentially increasing regulation impacting its business, particularly regarding the rights of gig workers.
Also, how would Ms Tin address perceptions that information she receives as an MP may be used to benefit Grab, even if unconsciously?
As director of public affairs and policy, the potential conflicts are intensified because her job responsibilities are likely to require her to oversee government relations and ensure that Grab’s views are communicated to the Government.
All MPs face challenges when treading the line in balancing roles, but in this type of position, the challenges are even more acute.
Mak Yuen Teen is Professor (Practice) of Accounting at the NUS Business School where he specialises in corporate governance.


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AGO to review nearly half of Govt’s $72.3b Covid-19 spending in annual audit​


As part of its FY2022/23 audit, the Auditor-General's Office will look at the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers scheme. PHOTO: ST FILE

Natasha Zachariah

Feb 7, 2023

SINGAPORE - The Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) will scrutinise some $32.3 billion spent by various agencies to fight Covid-19 as part of its annual audit of government accounts, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said on Monday.
Programmes being audited include the Jobs Support Scheme, Rental Relief Framework (Cash Grants), Rental Support Scheme and SingapoRediscovers Vouchers Scheme, DPM Wong said in a written reply to a parliamentary question by Mr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang).
This is close to half of the $72.3 billion of Covid-19 spending that the Government incurred in financial years 2020 and 2021. DPM Wong’s reply came after the Public Accounts Committee called on the Government in January to conduct a comprehensive review of its pandemic-related expenditure, given the unprecedented complexity and scale of operations.
Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister, said that more than half of the Government’s Covid-19 expenditure have been audited, including the AGO’s thematic audit of the Ministry of Manpower, the Singapore Land Authority and the Health Promotion Board in the 2021/2022 financial year.
In its report in July 2022, the AGO found that the three agencies generally had in place processes and controls to manage the different stages of procurement and contract management, but there were some lapses in evaluations of contractors’ proposals as well as tell-tale signs that some documents provided by contractors might not be authentic, among other things.
“Using a risk-based approach, AGO may choose to audit other selected areas of Covid-19 spending in their ongoing and subsequent reviews,” said Mr Wong.
Besides the AGO’s audits, public agencies have also conducted internal audits on Covid-19 spending since early 2022, said Mr Wong. These included reviews on the effectiveness of internal controls, as well as the validity and accuracy of payments.

“Findings and remedial actions from the internal audits were reported to the respective agencies’ senior management, as well as to their audit committees and boards in the case of statutory boards,” he added.
Mr Wong noted that the $72.3 billion spent went towards a broad range of areas to safeguard public health and enable safe reopening. The money also financed support measures for individuals and businesses in the form of grants, financing assistance, tax rebates and vouchers.
“The remaining audits are ongoing and are expected to be completed by the end of financial year 2024,” he said.


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On 1st Feb, SAL published an article by Senior Counsel Harpreet Singh questioning the decision not to prosecute the 6 Keppel executives. On the 2nd Feb 2023, the said article was removed by SAL. On the 3rd day of CEO Rama Tiwary announces that this is his last day at work having been CEO for 3 years.


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Forum: Tough job for MP to fulfil duty to public and employer​

Feb 8, 2023

I am a Singaporean living overseas, and many of my foreign friends have marvelled at our efficient and incorruptible Government, which has been credited as a key ingredient behind our country’s success.
Many Singaporeans are proud of the Government’s integrity and the political stability we enjoy. There is a high level of public trust in our society. These are qualities that set Singapore apart from many other countries.
In this regard, Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling’s recent appointment as director of public affairs and policy at Grab Singapore came as a surprise to me. Wouldn’t Ms Tin, in her new role, be required to advance Grab’s commercial interests by engaging with the civil service and lawmakers? This role will likely put Ms Tin in a position where she will have to switch between acting in Grab’s interests and that of her constituents, a point she recently acknowledged (MP addresses conflict-of-interest concerns after taking up Grab role, Feb 3).
In this context, I find it hard to understand how an MP can effectively fulfil his elected and appointed responsibilities to both constituents and company. For example, if the MP recuses himself from voting in Parliament on sensitive legislation that would impact the interests of his constituents and his company, to what extent has he fully discharged the responsibilities required?
Dispelling the perception of conflicts of interest is as paramount as avoiding them altogether when it comes to discharging one’s official duties. This is particularly important for MPs, who are subjected to high levels of public scrutiny as elected officials.
If doubts linger over the ability of an elected official to act in the best interest of his constituents, I worry it is not simply the integrity of the MP but that of the Government that could be jeopardised.

Liu Yi


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MP Tin Pei Ling moves to corporate development role at Grab Singapore following outcry​


In her new role, Tin Pei Ling will not be involved in public affairs and policy work in Singapore. PHOTOS: MCI, LIANHE ZAOBAO

Anjali Raguraman

Feb 10, 2023

SINGAPORE - Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling will switch to a new job scope at Grab Singapore following the public outcry that accompanied her appointment as its director of public affairs and policy last week.
Her role has been changed to one involving corporate development, said the ride-hailing company in a statement on Friday.
“Her duties will include realising synergies across our investments and acquisitions, as well as supporting strategy development,” said a spokesman for the ride-hailing and technology giant.
“In her new role, Pei Ling will not be involved in public affairs and policy work in Singapore, nor will she represent Grab in public policy discussions with Singapore government officials.”
In a separate statement also issued on Friday, the People’s Action Party (PAP) confirmed that that her role in Grab has been changed to Director (Corporate Development).
“In this role, her primary duties will not involve Government relations in Singapore,” the PAP statement said.
Her initial appointment as director of public affairs and policy raised criticism and prompted questions over a possible conflict of interest with her role in Government.


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Ex-Changi Airport Group chairman’s son, Karl Liew, expected to plead guilty in Parti Liyani case​


Karl Liew Kai Lung is accused of giving false evidence in the case of his family’s former maid, Ms Parti Liyani. PHOTOS: ST FILE

Shaffiq Alkhatib
Court Correspondent

Feb 10, 2023

SINGAPORE - Karl Liew Kai Lung, who is accused of giving false evidence in the case of his family’s former maid, Ms Parti Liyani, is expected to admit to his charges on March 30.
The 45-year-old man, who is the son of former Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, was charged in 2020 with giving false evidence and furnishing false information to a public servant.
He is alleged to have falsely told the police in 2016 that he had found 119 items of clothing belonging to him in boxes that had been packed by Ms Parti, who was then accused of stealing from the family employing her.
He also allegedly gave false evidence during Ms Parti’s trial that a T-shirt and a blouse, which were exhibits in the case, had belonged to him.
Ms Parti, an Indonesian, was initially convicted in 2019 of stealing $34,000 worth of items from the Liews but was acquitted after the High Court overturned her conviction on appeal in 2020.
Ms Parti, who began working for the Liew family in 2007, was asked in March 2016 to do chores at Karl Liew’s home and clean his office in another location.
She had expressed unhappiness at being made to do extra work for him.

The Liew family terminated her employment in October 2016, and she was given two hours to pack her belongings into three boxes.
Unhappy, Ms Parti threatened to lodge a complaint to the Ministry of Manpower before returning to Indonesia.
She had asked Karl Liew to pay for the boxes to be shipped to her. The next day, the Liew family opened the boxes belonging to Ms Parti.
A police report was later made, alleging that some of the items she had packed in the boxes belonged to the Liew family.
Ms Parti was arrested when she returned to Singapore in December 2016, and was charged with four counts of theft in August 2017.
She claimed trial to the charges. She was then convicted and sentenced to two years and two months’ jail in 2019.
Ms Parti was acquitted after an appeal in 2020, in which the High Court ruled the original conviction was “unsafe”, highlighting the police’s handling of the evidence.


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Never check properly....

PAP gave go-ahead for Tin Peiling’s appointment at Grab without knowing her job scope as Director of Public Affairs and Policy​

by Terry Xu


PAP gave go-ahead for Tin Peiling’s appointment at Grab without knowing her job scope as Director of Public Affairs and Policy

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), did not know the scope of Ms Tin Peiling’s appointment as Director of Public Affairs and Policy when it gave the go-ahead for her to assume the position.
This was revealed in the party’s Facebook post on Friday in response to Grab’s announcement of Ms Tin’s reappointment as a Director of Corporate Development following the public furore over the possible conflicts of interest arising from her public duties as an MP and her private job at Grab.
PAP wrote that the Macpherson Member of Parliament had informed the party about her appointment and the nature of the job in September last year.
The party noted this and did not object.
Following public comments about Ms Tin’s appointment, PAP discussed the matter with her again to understand better the scope of her duties.
“It then became clear to the Party that she would be expected to engage regularly with Government ministries and agencies on public policy issues on behalf of Grab. While she would make it clear that she was engaging in her private capacity and not as a PAP MP, there could still be challenges in carrying out these responsibilities, especially under the current circumstances.”
PAP then says that her primary duties in her new role will not involve Government relations in Singapore.
It says the party holds itself and its Members of Parliament to high standards of propriety and integrity.

“Most PAP backbench MPs have private careers. This keeps them in touch with our economy and society and enables able and committed people from many professions and walks of life to serve as MPs, raising the quality of MPs in Parliament.”
However, it is essential that MPs rigorously separate their public role as MPs from their professional and commercial interests in their private careers, states PAP.

Move for reappointment initiated by Grab​

Grab in its statement released on Friday (10 Feb), said it understands that Ms Tin’s recent appointment at Grab has generated significant discourse in recent days.
The super-app company noted that “much thought and care” was given to address any potential conflict of interest that may arise when Ms Tin was hired.
“We had worked closely with her months in advance to ensure her hiring and the scope of her expected responsibilities are in line with the rules governing her duties and conduct as an MP. Pei Ling informed her party leaders who did not object to her appointment.”
It said it also established rules of engagement where Ms Tin should not be advocating for Grab’s interest in her capacity as an MP, and correspondingly, she should also not be advocating for her constituency and party in her work within Grab.
“However, the discourse has led us to pause and reflect on how we can create an environment where Pei Ling can serve effectively in both her roles as an MP as well as representing Grab We acknowledge that this is difficult if the intent behind every action or position she takes in the future is doubted or called into question.”
After a discussion with Ms Tin, Grab said it came to a mutual agreement that she will transition to a corporate development role at the company as a Director of Corporate Development.

Her duties will include realising synergies across our investments and acquisitions as well as supporting strategy development.
Grab states that Ms Tin, in her new role, will not be involved in public affairs and policy work in Singapore nor will she represent Grab in public policy discussions with Singapore government officials
“She will be expected to continue abiding by the rules of engagement we have put in place to declare and avoid any possible conflicts of interest, and operate in the same manner as other MPs holding private sector roles.”

Ms Tin did not think her appointment at Grab was an issue​

Ms Tin has previously disregarded concerns over the concerns over conflict of interest and said she would continue with the appointment, saying that, “As to which capacity I represent at any time: I will be transparent and above board.”
Following her reappointment, Ms Tin posted on her Linkedin profile, saying that being the voice of her residents, finding ways to improve their lives, and serving Singapore will always, always be her top priority.
“I understand and have long come to accept the public scrutiny that comes with being an MP. But I would never want it to hinder my ability to serve my constituents well as MP, or to do my job at Grab effectively. And this would be the case if my intentions and actions in the future are always called into doubt, whether justified or not.”
According to her Linkedin profile, Ms Tin had just stepped down from her position as the chief executive officer at Business China, a Singapore non-profit organisation cultivating Singapore-China relationships and headed by PAP Ministers and MPs, after four years of service and is still listed as a board member.
Prior to her stint at Business China, she spent a year as group director of corporate strategy at Jing King Technology Group, now known as Adera Global from May 2017 to May 2018. The Singapore global company is involved in data security, artificial intelligence and automation.

Ms Tin had spent a couple of years as a full-time MP at Marine Parade GRC after she was elected to Parliament in 2011 and resigned from her job at Ernst and Young.
She currently chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Communications and Information, and is a member of the GPC for Culture, Community and Youth. These appointments, apart from her position as an elected MP, raised eyebrows as there are overlapping aspects of the duties as a Director of Public Affairs and Policy at Grab.
If not for the public outcry over the possible conflicts of interest by Ms Tin in her appointment at Grab, PAP might not have known the implications of her appointment.
Not to mention, the initiative to discuss alternative arrangements for Ms Tin’s appointment was made by Grab and not PAP or Ms Tin.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Woman who stepped into uncovered drain loses claim for more than $60k against town council​


The town council, in defending its case, said Madam Chan Chui Yoke’s fall was the only such accident in the last 20 years. PHOTO: ST FILE

Selina Lum
Senior Law Correspondent

Feb 21, 2023

SINGAPORE – A 71-year-old woman who sued the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council for more than $60,000 after she stepped into an uncovered part of a drain has lost her case after the judge decided it was unlikely for anyone to have fallen.
The town council, in defending its case, said Madam Chan Chui Yoke’s fall was the only such accident in the last 20 years as far as it knew.
In the 2021 incident in Bangkit Road, the drain had been left partially uncovered to facilitate cleaning and to prevent mosquito breeding in accordance with National Environment Agency guidelines, a property manager for the town council testified.
Said District Judge Teo Guan Kee: “Having regard to the limited likelihood of a person falling into the uncovered perimeter drain and suffering a significant injury, and balancing that against the consideration that the perimeter drain was left uncovered for a cogent and supportable reason, consistent with a practice commonly adopted by town councils, I am of the view that the defendant did not fall short of the duty of care which it owed to the plaintiff.”
In the suit, Madam Chan contended that she fell into the drain because the town council’s failure to properly clean the drain made it difficult to differente between the “dirty drain” and drain covers.
It was alleged that the town council negligently caused the accident by failing to cover the drains, failing to clean the drain covers and failing to warn residents or prevent them from crossing the drain.
Madam Chan, then 69, fell into the drain, which is near the block where she lives, on Feb 8, 2021.

She had crossed over the 25cm-wide, 36cm-deep drain from the pedestrian walkway to a turfed area to water some plants.
But as she was crossing back to the walkway, she accidentally stepped into the drain. She hit her face on the pavement and landed on her right hand.
Madam Chan, who was represented by Mr Muhammad Hariz Tahi of Clifford Law, fractured her right middle finger and tore her left Achilles tendon.
A witness who testified for Madam Chan, who has been living there since 1988, said he had seen people crossing over the drain but had not seen anyone fall.
The town council, represented by Ms Grace Tan of WhiteFern, admitted that it owed a duty of care to Madam Chan at the time of the accident, but contended that it did not breach this duty of care.
Ms Tan also highlighted that the drain was not intended as a means of access to the turfed area and that there were pavements and walkways which could have been used instead.
The judge, who issued his judgment, on Feb 17, said that while there was algae on the drain and drain covers, it was not clear that this increased the likelihood of someone stepping into the drain. The fact that there were no warning signs or barricade did not help Madam Chan.
“Put simply, despite the absence of warnings or barricades, no one has been known to suffer the kind of accident which now forms the basis of the plaintiff’s action,” he said.