Activist and social worker Jolovan Wham donated a dollar more than what Manpower Minister Josephine Teo demanded he donate to a migrant worker fund for making allegations of corruption against her and her husband.
Earlier this month, Mr Wham shared a Facebook post suggesting that Mrs Teo was involved in the Government’s decision to commission Surbana Jurong Pte Ltd to develop COVID care facilities, since her husband Teo Eng Cheong is the CEO (International) of the firm.
Mrs Teo refuted the allegations and sent a formal letter of demand to Mr Wham, asking him to withdraw the allegations. 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.”
Mrs Teo added that she will not claim damages or pursue the matter further if the claims are withdrawn. She said: “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 However, I do not intend to pursue the matter further, or to claim damages, if the allegations are publicly withdrawn, and apologies given.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 did not intend to claim damages, the Minister asked Mr Wham to donate S$1,000 to the Migrant Workers’ Assistance Fund. This fund is managed by a migrant worker centre that is operated by Singapore’s labour movement, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).
The Minister’s move drew intense backlash from Singaporeans who were disturbed that Mrs Teo would ask Mr Wham to make a donation to the migrant worker fund given his extensive work helping migrant workers over the years.
One letter that trended on social media letter pointed out that Mr Wham has a 13-year history of speaking up for migrant workers and that it is “ironic to demand that one of Singapore’s most dedicated migrant labour activists, who has invested copious amounts of time, energy, passion, labour, money, and risks to his own life, donate $1000 to the Migrant Workers’ Centre’s fundraiser.”
Mr Wham has since revealed that he donated a dollar more to the fund than what Mrs Teo demanded he give. He wrote on Facebook on Thursday (28 May), “Last week, the Minister of Manpower sent a demand letter that I should donate $1000 to the NTUC’s migrant workers centre’s migrant assistance fund because I had made defamatory remarks about her. I decided to donate $1001.”
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