SINGAPORE - Social worker and activist Jolovan Wham on Friday (May 22) apologised to Manpower Minister Josephine Teo for making false corruption allegations against her and has removed the statement he made on Facebook containing the accusations.
Mr Wham was one of two men who were issued letters of demand from Mrs Teo's lawyers on Wednesday (May 20), 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 Wednesday (May 20) night.
On Friday afternoon, Mr Wham posted to his Facebook page an image of a signed and dated document containing his apology and an undertaking not to publish any further statements on the matter or to make any allegations to the same or similar effect.
A statement he had published on May 16 as a comment on a post by Facebook user Teng Qianxi 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.
"I admit and acknowledge that these allegations are false and completely without foundation. I apologise unreservedly to Mrs Josephine Teo for making them," the apology note said.
Mrs Teo had earlier said that while she understands she is legally entitled to substantial damages, she does not intend to pursue the matter further or claim damages if the allegations are publicly withdrawn and apologies given.
Mr Liew and Mr Wham are also required to make a donation of $1,000 each to the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund, the charity arm of the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC).
Lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam, whose law firm represented both Mr Wham and Mr Liew in the matter, told The Straits Times Mr Wham has made the donation.
In a separate statement, his firm said Mr Liew was unable to make the donation due to personal circumstances and he 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, and the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of National Development (MND) issued rebuttals against several posts circulating on social media and messaging platforms that alleged 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. Other posts questioned how the decision to involve Surbana Jurong was made, while noting that Members of Parliament Desmond Choo and Yaacob Ibrahim are Surbana Jurong board members.
In a statement issued on Mrs Teo's behalf by her lawyers from Allen & Gledhill, the minister said these claims were untrue, scurrilous and completely baseless.
Mrs Teo said 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.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, MOH and MND said the Government had asked Temasek to help set up the CCF as the firm had the necessary resources to do so at short notice through its subsidiaries.
The ministries said Temasek agreed to assist and the work done would be at cost-recovery basis and in some cases, below cost.
"There will be no profit made by Temasek and its linked companies for the work done," they added.