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Public Service Division on GrabHitch: Civil servants need to declare additional trade or work that draws income to ensure that there is no conflict of interest

In a statement to the Straits Times, the Public Service Division (PSD) has said that civil servants need to declare additional trade or work that draws income to ensure that there is no conflict of interest and noted that civil servants can apply for permission and the request will be considered on a case-by-case basis,

The statement issued by PSD, follows the reports that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) fined a staff sergeant $2,000 in default of 2 weeks detention by General Court Martial, for giving 140 rides using the GrabHitch app between October 16 and March 17.

Details of the charge were shown in a screenshot shared on Hardwarezone forum on 22 August 2017.

The case example in the screenshot was purportedly documented under "Moonlighting" by the G1 army branch, noting that the SSG had used GrabHitch to pick up a passenger and received a payment of S$3.50 as remuneration for his service.

The passenger, Ms Danielle Goh who was picked up by the SSG, wrote an email to the MINDEF feedback unit and alleged the SSG was a regular serviceman who was moonlighting as a GrabHitch driver.

The unit commenced investigations into the matter and investigations were handed over to the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) – a sub-unit of SAF Military Police (MP) Command – as it involved a commercial entity.

In the course of SIB's investigation, it was revealed that the SSG had completed a total of 140 trips between Oct 16 and Mar 17 and received a total of S$1,129 (About S$225 each month). It also noted that the SSG had not sought prior approval.

GrabHitch is not for profit

According to Grab's description,

GrabHitch is not an on-demand, commercial ride hailing service.GrabHitch is a social ride-sharing initiative launched by Grab to match journeys between private car drivers and commuters heading the same way at the same time.

Drivers choose to share their rides with passengers and get paid a basic fare that covers their petrol costs, while passengers enjoy a socially interactive ride that is 20-40% cheaper than alternative private transport options.

GrabHitch is 100% powered by people, not for profit, but for a green car-lite Singapore.

Public disagree with PSD's stance

On ST's Facebook post, readers largely disagreed with PSD's stance, particularly on the point of considering GrabHitch as moonlighting.

Dave Tan wrote, "This is nonsense! Carpooling is to get another passenger or passengers traveling the same route, same time to share the cost of the transportation. It is definitely encouraging Govt policy on car lite. And most important, its will NEVER affect the work performance of the driver. Thus, this is definitely not moonlighting. Carpooling is so common in many major cities! Cant imagine our Civil Servant is so narrow minded. Smart Nation? Wait long long! With these narrow minded and stupid elite in the public service!

Gerald Tan wrote, "It's NOT income la... It's hitching with the rider helping to cover petrol and maintenance costs. Show me an individual solely using hitch to make money and I'll eat my own words. The people up there driving their own expensive cars without worrying if they can cover the next instalment please just STFU."

Peter Simeon Khew wrote, "If LTA allows non-commercial carpooling, then I don't see why it shouldn't be allowed by the employer in doubt. It's the worst moonlighting ever. Nobody's going to make a profit from only two trips a day."