Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and her husband Teo Eng Cheong have come out to deny the corruption allegations that have risen over the COVID-19 community care facilities that Mr Teo’s firm helped develop.
To curb the spread of the COVID-19 infection among the young who have no underlying conditions, the Government decided to convert certain public spaces – like the Singapore EXPO – into community care facilities. Temasek-owned infrastructure consultancy, Surbana Jurong Private Limited, helped transform the Singapore EXPO premise into one such facility.
Posts pointing out the links some of the people involved in Surbana Jurong have with the Government soon began circulating on social media and messaging platforms. One post highlighted that Manpower Minister Josephine Teo’s husband Teo Eng Cheong is Surbana Jurong’s CEO (International).
Mr Teo joined Surbana Jurong in 2016 – the same year that the firm came to be acquired by the Government’s investment vehicle Temasek. The former senior government official now leads Surbana Jurong’s work in Singapore, Southeast Asia and North Asia.
Another post highlighted that ruling party Members of Parliament Desmond Choo and Yaacob Ibrahim are board members at Surbana Jurong. While some posts raised questions about the selection process of firms involved in Government projects, other posts made outright allegations of corruption and profiteering.
Surbana Jurong came out strongly against these allegations Calling the allegations “unfounded accusations of profiteering and corruption,” it said: “These allegations are not only untrue, they are disrespectful of our colleagues who have made enormous sacrifices, including putting their health at risk, to deliver the projects under challenging conditions for the benefit of our community.
“We absolutely refute the allegations and will not hesitate to take legal action against any perpetrator who continues to make scurrilous attacks against our company.”
The company revealed that it became involved in the project when it was tapped by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek to provide expertise to projects related to managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Josephine Teo has since refuted the allegations against her and her husband, in a statement issued by Allen & Gledhill on her behalf on Wednesday (20 May). Calling the claims “untrue, scurrilous and completely baseless.” Mrs Teo asserted: “Neither my spouse nor I have any involvement with the commissioning of these projects or the monetary transactions.”
The Minister also instructed her lawyers to send formal letters of demand to the two men who made the claims, Mr Jolovan Wham and Mr Donald Liew, asking them to withdraw the allegations. Mrs Teo added that she will not claim damages or pursue the matter further if the claims are withdrawn and she receives apologies from the two men:
“I understand that I am legally entitled to substantial damages for these serious and baseless allegations. However, I do not intend to pursue the matter further, or to claim damages, if the allegations are publicly withdrawn, and apologies given. This has been made clear in my lawyers’ letters.”
While she does not intend to claim damages, the Minister asked both persons to donate S$1,000 each to the Migrant Workers’ Assistance Fund. Mr Donald Liew has since withdrawn the allegations and apologised.