By Chris Soh
In a shocking development at the Singapore Environment Council, executive director Edwin Seah has been suspended from official duties pending an inquiry.
In response to queries from the media, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) said in a statement that “we are unable to comment as investigations are ongoing.”
Mr Seah said that he was informed of the suspension by director of Board, Mr Lam Joon Khoi at about 11am on Thursday, 13 October.
This came a day after the Asian Environmental Journalism Awards (AEJA), in which Mr Seah presented awards to the winners.
Mr Seah said that he was in a state of “complete shock” as he had been scheduled to travel to Kiev in Ukraine for the Global Eco-labelling Council annual general meeting on Friday.
Mr Seah joined the SEC in October 2014 and was appointed as the Executive Director in April 2015 as a replacement for former SEC Chief Executive Officer Mr Jose Raymond who left at the end of January 2015 after a nationwide search by the SEC.
Along with Mr Kavickumar Muruganathan, who had also left the SEC earlier this year for Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), Mr Seah had been nominated for the UBS Singaporean of the Year award organized by the Straits Times for the work done by the green group for pulling the APP products off the shelves during the haze episode of 2015.
Insiders have also told The Online Citizen (TOC) that the suspension was the culmination of months of tension between Mr Seah and the Chairman of the SEC Isabella Loh. It is understood that things were made worse after Ms Loh was not asked to present any awards to the winners during the AEJA.
Ms Loh is no stranger to controversy herself. She was once Miss December for the Sembcorp Waste annual calendar when she was CEO of the public waste collector.
In 2011, Isabella Loh, whose original name was Loh Wai Kiew, also cancelled the Halloween Horrors night at the Singapore Zoo, when she was interim CEO.
Her decision was lampooned and lambasted by the students of Singapore Polytechnic, who had spent months to prepare for the event and was even ridiculed by Mr Brown.
She also had to apologise to President Tony Tan for linking his comments about family bonding activities to her unfortunate and erroneous decision to cancel the Halloween Horrors night event which was popular with the youth and despite close to $1 million being spent.
Earlier this year, Ms Loh and the SEC were also in the news after it was reported that she had used her position to influence the charity in taking part in a research project which she gains financially without any declaration of conflict of interest.
This allegation was sent to the Commissioner of Charities on 16 February 2016 with TOC copied in the email.
The Nanyang Technological University later said that Ms Loh had declared all possible conflicts to interests to the university before her name was included in the proposal to the National Research Foundation for the project.
Ms Loh has held the position of Chairman of the SEC since 2008. Apart from Lam Joon Khoi, who was a former deputy secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and CEO of the National Environment Agency and Singapore Land Authority, other board members include PAP Members of Parliament Teo Ho Pin and Rahayu Mahzam.