Hyflux director Simon Tay quits after commenting on legal adviser WongPartnership's exit

As a result of his resignation from Hyflux, Simon Tay has ceased to be a member of Hyflux's risk management and investment committees. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Hyflux said its non-executive independent director Simon Tay has resigned voluntarily due to his "inability to fulfil his duties as an independent director".

Mr Tay, 59, is also a senior consultant at law firm WongPartnership (WongP). His resignation, effective last Friday, came after "unresolved differences in opinion" regarding WongP's decision to discharge itself from representing the water treatment firm, Hyflux said in a regulatory filing on Friday (Feb 7).

Both Hyflux and WongP had separately cited a "loss of confidence" and trust in each other last month. Hyflux then went on to appoint Clifford Chance and Cavenagh Law as its legal advisers in WongP's place.

Before he resigned as a director of the water treatment firm, Mr Tay had in a Facebook post on Feb 2 commented on WongP's decision to discharge itself. He also said in the post that he would be recusing himself at Hyflux and not take part in any discussion or decision relating to WongP. Mr Tay noted that as a senior consultant at WongP, he does not manage the law firm.

Following that, Hyflux published a notification saying Clifford Chance and Cavenagh Law had sent a letter to Mr Tay on Feb 4 to respond to his Facebook post.

In the letter, the lawyers wrote that Mr Tay, as a Hyflux board member, did not recuse himself nor object to the board's announcement on Jan 29 which said that Hyflux has lost confidence and trust in WongP. He also did not object to the resolution passed by Hyflux's board on Jan 30 which contained an explanation of why the company lost trust and confidence in WongP, according to the letter.

"It would appear that despite having agreed to recuse yourself from any discussion relating to WongPartnership, you consider it appropriate as an independent director, to discuss that very same matter publicly," Clifford Change and Cavenagh Law said in the letter.

The lawyers also requested Mr Tay publish the letter as a comment on his Facebook page, but he has not done so, Hyflux noted.

Hyflux said that he has not denied that he did not object to the company's Jan 29 announcement or to the resolution passed on Jan 30.

As a result of his resignation from Hyflux, Mr Tay has ceased to be a member of Hyflux's risk management and investment committees.

He was appointed as non-executive independent director in May 2011. As at Feb 7, he held 500,000 of Hyflux's 6 per cent perpetual securities as well as 350,000 share options in his own name.

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