Featured News Tin Pei Ling: Interests of MacPherson constituents must come first

Tin Pei Ling: Interests of MacPherson constituents must come first

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Sense And Nonsense by Tan Bah Bah

Suddenly concerned Singaporeans are being confronted by four developments that seem to be cropping up almost simultaneously. One – affordability of Housing and Development Board flats and as part of it, the land issue – is a bugbear that has been around for a while. Second is the Singapore Media Trust massaged data problem. Third is the Keppel O & M corruption scandal. All these three will be discussed in Parliament this coming week. The fourth development, which will not be aired in Parliament (unless someone tabled an emergency question) is MP Tin Pei Ling joining Grab Singapore as director of public affairs and policy.

I will talk about Keppel O & M (KOM) and Tin. HDB will be debated tomorrow, so I do not know what is going to come out of that as PSP NCMP Leong Mun Wai throws darts at the government. And we do not yet have all the facts regarding SMT which is also going to be talked about in Parliament anyway.

Mothership has produced a good summary of the KOM scandal. Let me quote the relevant part:

“A Singaporean government-linked company, Keppel Offshore & Marine (O&M), has been found to have done some very corrupt things — paying people a lot of money to accept their business over other companies.

“Some S$73 million was involved over 14 years — between 2001 and 2014.

“The money went to people very high up in Brazil — politics as well as in the oil sector — in order to win contracts for business.

“Keppel’s profits? In excess of S$467.6 million.

“And then they forked out more than S$563 million in fines in a deal to avoid going to trial about it — to Brazil, the US and to Singapore’s governments.

“This case is set to go down in history as a record settlement for a cross-border corruption probe involving a Singapore-listed entity.”

CNA reported: “The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau has issued stern warnings to six former senior management staff of KOM involved in a corruption case. (It is unclear whether this case was one of many yet to be revealed).

“The warnings were in lieu of prosecution for offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

“The offences relate to bribe payments to officials of Petrobas, the Brazilian oil giant, pertaining to rigs-building contracts which Petrobras or its related companies had awarded to KOM.”

This is where, on surface at least, Singapore’s much vaunted zero-tolerance policy on corruption seems at odds with KOM’s conduct. Basically, are we having double standards – one set of rules here in Singapore and another for dealings in another country? Without saying yes or no, I would make this point: this world is no Disneyland. Singapore sometimes has to trade with the devil to survive.

Should we convict the six officials? If we do, that will be tying the hands of all government-linked companies operating overseas. It depends on the type of corruption. If it is clearly for their own pockets, using their position to get corrupt money, they then should be prosecuted in Singapore to the full extent of the law here.


PAP MP for MacPherson Tin Pei Ling has just joined Grab Singapore as its director of public affairs and policy.

“I am absolutely clear that when I am discharging my duties in my capacity as a 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,” Tin said.

It may be possible to wear the two hats – but only if Grab itself recognises very clearly and publicly that she has to have the power to represent her constituents with no fear or favour. Her constituents must come first in any conflict between their interests and those of Grab. Otherwise, it is better for her to step down as MP and pursue her future in Grab.


Tan Bah Bah, consulting editor of TheIndependent.Sg, is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a magazine publishing company.


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