Surbana Jurong graft allegations

Activist Jolovan Wham apologises for claims

Mr Jolovan Wham (above) and Facebook user Donald Liew are also required to make a donation of $1,000 each to the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund.
Mr Jolovan Wham (above) and Facebook user Donald Liew are also required to make a donation of $1,000 each to the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund.PHOTO: ST FILE

Social worker and activist Jolovan Wham yesterday apologised to Manpower Minister Josephine Teo for making false corruption allegations against her. He also removed his statement containing the accusations.

Mr Wham was one of two men who received letters of demand from Mrs Teo's lawyers on Wednesday, requiring them to withdraw statements accusing Mrs Teo and her husband of profiteering and corruption in relation to the development of community care facilities (CCFs) for Covid-19 patients.

The other man, a Facebook user named Donald Liew, withdrew his allegations and posted a public apology late on Wednesday night.

Mr Wham yesterday posted on Facebook an image of a signed and dated document containing his apology and an undertaking not to publish any more statements on the matter or to make any allegations to the same or similar effect.

The offending statement was published on May 16 as a comment on a post by Facebook user Teng Qian Xi.

It had alleged that Mrs Teo, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs, acted improperly and corruptly in relation to the development of emergency housing facilities by Surbana Jurong.

Said Mr Wham: "I admit and acknowledge that these allegations are false and completely without foundation. I apologise unreservedly to Mrs Josephine Teo for making them."

Mrs Teo had earlier said she does not intend to pursue the matter further or claim damages if the allegations are publicly withdrawn and apologies are given.

Mr Liew and Mr Wham were also each required to make a $1,000 donation to the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund. Lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam, whose law firm represented both men, said Mr Wham has made the donation.

In a separate statement, the law firm said Mr Liew was unable to make the donation owing to personal circumstances, and has asked Mrs Teo to waive this requirement.

"The minister has considered his circumstances and kindly agreed to his request for which he is grateful," the firm said. It added that Mrs Teo has also offered to assist Mr Liew with his personal circumstances.

The public apologies came after Surbana Jurong, which is owned by Singapore investment firm Temasek, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of National Development (MND) refuted social media posts alleging profiteering and corruption in Surbana Jurong's development of the CCF at Singapore Expo.

One such post concerned how Mrs Teo's husband, Mr Teo Eng Cheong, is the international chief executive in charge of Singapore, South-east Asia and North Asia at Surbana Jurong.

In a statement issued on Mrs Teo's behalf by her lawyers from Allen & Gledhill, the minister said the claims were "untrue, scurrilous and completely baseless".

 
 
 

Surbana Jurong dealt directly with MOH and MND, and neither she nor her spouse had any involvement with the commissioning of these projects or the monetary transactions, she said.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, MOH and MND said the Government asked Temasek to help set up the CCFs as the firm had the necessary resources to do so at short notice through its subsidiaries.

Temasek agreed to assist. The work undertaken would be at cost-recovery basis and in some cases, below cost, the ministries added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2020, with the headline 'Activist Jolovan Wham apologises for claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe