Questions about the selection process of firms involved in Government projects have arisen after a viral social media post highlighted that the CEO International of the company that built the Singapore EXPO community care facility for COVID-19 patients is Manpower Minister Josephine Teo’s husband, Teo Eng Cheong.
About 90 per cent of Singapore’s nearly 29,000 COVID-19 cases are migrant workers who live in dormitories. To curb the spread of the 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, stepped in and transformed the Singapore EXPO premise into a community care facility that could house 8,000 patients, in just four weeks using a limited team of 50 workers.
Surbana Jurong’s Group CEO told TODAY that his team had just a week of “discussion time” with their client, the Ministry of Health, before they began work since the Government needed to open the facility urgently.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is married to Temasek CEO Ho Ching, praised Surbana Jurong for completing the project speedily, in a Facebook post published on 26 April.
In the ensuing days, however, posts pointing out the links some of the people involved in Surbana Jurong have with the Government 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.
Questions about the selection process of firms involved in Government projects arose as these posts began trending online. Some asked whether a tender for the community care facilities was called, since the job was supposed to be completed urgently.
Government bodies must openly post invitations for quotations and tenders for services and supplies above S$6,000 on the Government electronic business portal (GeBIZ). Invitations for quotations and tenders are typically open for bidding for about 7 to 14 days.
Online Citizen Asia said that it could not find any tender for the community care facilities on GeBIZ. There is speculation that the minister in charge of the project could have waived a tender for this project given the urgent nature of the job.
Surbana Jurong has strongly refuted allegations of profiteering and corruption over its involvement in the community care facilities project, in response to the viral posts. The company said that it was tapped by Temasek to help set up the community care facility.
In a statement released on Tuesday (19 May), Surbana Jurong said: “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.”
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