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Netizens query on possible conflict of interest as Josephine Teo’s husband is CEO of company that set up temporary dormitory facilities

The Manpower Minister's husband Teo Eng Cheong is CEO of Surbana Jurong which runs Community Care Facilities (CCFs) for COVID-19 isolation

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In a viral Facebook post, one netizen raised questions about Manpower Minister and Surbana Jurong, the company that runs Community Care Facilities (CCFs) for COVID-19 isolation, including a facility at the Singapore Expo.

The post, written by one Levan Wee on Sunday (May 17) stated the following:

“1( Surbana Jurong helped to set up the temp facilities.
2) The CEO of Surbana is Teo Eng Cheong
3) He is the husband of Josephine Teo”.

Surbana Jurong has been providing technical services as an urban and infrastructure consulting firm to various government agencies involved in the setting up and running of CCFs in Singapore in the last two months.

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“There was an urgent need for CCFs to house patients with early symptoms of COVID-19 and those recovering from it. Surbana Jurong was called upon to help quickly develop these facilities”, it said, in a press statement yesterday (May 19).

In his Facebook post, Mr Wee asked if Surbana Jurong was awarded a financial contract or if they were setting up the Community Care Facilities voluntarily or as a non profit and out of good will.

He continued, “If there is any degree of commercial interest involved, then:
1) to what extent does the company qualitatively / quantitatively benefit from this – if at all?

2) How was any personal relational links disclosed, addressed, and set aside in the interest of a final objective decision? This is contextually relevant given the inter-connectedness of persons.

3) is there a clear demarcation between public / private – and if so, how is this transparently assured and sustained? How are intersections between the two clarified? Who is the neutral body involved in ascertaining these things, ensuring that the dichotomy is upheld?”

He added that he was curious to know “as a citizen” and stressed that he was “NOT stating facts or asserting anything more than Google research”.

Similarly, another Facebook post alleged that “Josephine Teo messed up on the dormitories infection issue which is now first straining our medical resources and then causing obscene costs to the coffers”.

The netizen named Liew, in his post added, “A lot of these projects are awarded to Surbana which logically will make a lot of money. Thus their financials will be glowing. And when your financials are glowing you reward the top dogs. The CEO is Mrs. Josephine Teo’s husband”.

“So Mrs Josephine screws up, doesn’t have to apologise and the Teo family ends up wealthier. Quite strange I think. Have I got this wrong?” he asked.

In response to TISG’s queries, Ms Josephine Teo did not respond, but Surbana Jurong said that it “remains focused on supporting Singapore’s efforts to contain COVID-19 and demonstrating the nation’s resolve to helping those affected by the pandemic”.

In a press statement yesterday, infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong also refuted online allegations that it is “profiteering” from the setting up and running of Community Care Facilities (CCFs) for COVID-19 isolation, including a facility at the Singapore Expo. /TISG

Surbana Jurong’s full statement:

SURBANA JURONG WAS CALLED UPON TO DEVELOP CCFs QUICKLY AND REMAINS FOCUSED ON SUPPORTING SINGAPORE’S EFFORTS TO CONTAIN COVID-19

Singapore, 19 May 2020 – Over the last two months, Surbana Jurong has been providing technical services as an urban and infrastructure consulting firm to various government agencies involved in the setting up and running of Community Care Facilities (CCF) in Singapore. These critical facilities are part of the Ministry of Health’s public health strategy to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of its efforts to support the community during this time, our shareholder Temasek engaged some of its portfolio companies that could provide specialist support, and all readily stepped up to support. There was an urgent need for CCFs to house patients with early symptoms of COVID-19 and those recovering from it. Surbana Jurong was called upon to help quickly develop these facilities. In March 2020, we were asked to identify and study possible locations. We explored various sites and found Singapore Expo, with its existing mechanical and electrical (M&E) infrastructure and extensive indoor space, to be large enough and fit for purpose. As Singapore Expo is also a Temasek portfolio company and was already engaged to support this initiative, Surbana Jurong was immediately able to embark on converting Singapore Expo into the first CCF.

We assembled a 50-strong team. Comprising our healthcare planners, architects, M&E engineers, project managers and procurement staff, the team provided a one-stop solution with their range of expertise that enabled us to set up 10 halls with 8,000 beds in four weeks. It was no mean task, and required tremendous dedication, focus and long hours of hard work. The team was led by Yeo Choon Chong, CEO, Singapore, Surbana Jurong and Vincent Lee, Director, Surbana Jurong, under the direct supervision of Group CEO, Wong Heang Fine. Our partners PSA, Woodlands Health Campus, Parkway Pantai, SingEx, Resorts World Sentosa and other companies also worked incredibly hard to get this urgent project up and running.

At all times, Surbana Jurong is proud and happy to play a critical role in projects that serve the nation’s interests. With our multidisciplinary inhouse expertise in planning, design, engineering, procurement and project management, we are uniquely able to provide complete solutions for the built environment and meet all operational requirements in double quick time.

In service of the community, we will continue to provide our expertise to projects related to managing the COVID-19 crisis on a cost-recovery basis.

Surbana Jurong has received many messages of support and thanks from members of the public which are most encouraging to our people. Unfortunately, our involvement in Singapore Expo has been most unfairly subjected to unfounded accusations of profiteering and corruption in some social media posts. 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.

Surbana Jurong remains focused on supporting Singapore’s efforts to contain COVID-19, and demonstrating the nation’s resolve to helping those affected by the pandemic.

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