SEC tells two more senior staff to leave

ST VIDEO: AUDREY TAN
Mr Gerard Christopher, SEC's assistant executive director, and Ms Shirley Chua, its communications director, yesterday were told to go with immediate effect.
Mr Gerard Christopher, SEC's assistant executive director, and Ms Shirley Chua, its communications director, yesterday were told to go with immediate effect.
Mr Gerard Christopher, SEC's assistant executive director, and Ms Shirley Chua, its communications director, yesterday were told to go with immediate effect.
Mr Gerard Christopher, SEC's assistant executive director, and Ms Shirley Chua, its communications director, yesterday were told to go with immediate effect.

Duo say no reason was given; move comes just days after former head was told to go

Two more senior staff members at the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) have been asked to leave, just days after executive director Edwin Seah's services were terminated.

The charity's assistant executive director, Mr Gerard Christopher, 43, and communications director, Ms Shirley Chua, 45, said no reasons were given for the decision yesterday, effective immediately. Ms Chua received two months' salary in lieu of notice, while Mr Christopher received three.

Staff at SEC cried after hearing the news, including executive Jeanette Choong, 25.

"I think it's ridiculous. They are good bosses who helped to develop (SEC's) programmes," said Ms Choong, who had earlier tendered her resignation for reasons unrelated to the case and is serving notice.

This latest staff upheaval comes after Mr Seah, 46, was told on Wednesday he had been released from duty, despite having been cleared of all charges that had led to his being suspended from work last month. The Straits Times understands he was thought not to be a good fit with the organisation.

Mr Seah said he was given no reasons for his suspension but sources told The Straits Times it was over not following standard operating procedure during an SEC event, and suspicions that he was behind an anonymous e-mail sent to media organisations early this year.

A special panel was convened last week to look into the charges, and he has since been cleared of all of them.

Asked about the latest terminations, a spokesman for SEC said it was inappropriate to discuss employment matters other than with the individuals themselves.

There have been other high profile departures from the council, which spreads environmental awareness through training programmes, awards and its Singapore Green Labelling Scheme. The council is chaired by Ms Isabella Loh.

It was started in 1995 and now has 26 full-time staff following recent personnel changes.

Chief executive Jose Raymond, 44, joined Indonesian firm Asia Pulp and Paper in January, but left in September and has set up his own public relations firm. In April, SEC eco-certification head Kavickumar Muruganathan, 27, also left to join Asia Pulp and Paper.

Professor Ang Peng Hwa, who co-founded the Haze Elimination Action Team volunteer group, said: "I suppose the board members have their reasons but are holding them close to their chest. The SEC has done excellent work in helping to fight the haze last year. I hope it does not lose that capability for next year."

SEC was instrumental last year in raising awareness about the link between the haze and unsustainable paper products, after it suspended the use of its Green Label on products from Asia Pulp and Paper, an Indonesian firm with alleged haze links. This spurred supermarket chains to pull APP products, such as toilet rolls and facial tissue, from the shelves.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2016, with the headline 'SEC tells two more senior staff to leave'. Print Edition | Subscribe