Source: Channel NewsAsia video screengrab.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin appointed as deputy chairman for Mandai Park Holdings

Mandai Park Holdings (MPH) has just announced that Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin has been appointed as its deputy chairman.

In its press release that was just released to the media on Friday (8 Dec), the appointment had already taken in effect on 8 Nov.

Mr Tan was elected as Singapore’s 10th Speaker of Parliament in September by the majority of Parliament (Fellow members of parliament from People’s Action Party), taking over from former Speaker and President Halimah Yacob who resigned from her position as MP and Speaker to stand for the Presidential Election.

Mr Tan was formerly the Minister for the Ministry of Social and Family Development who had been lauded for various changes to policies during his term. As he was a minister, he had to be a full-time MP. Now that he is a Speaker of Parliament which is said to be a part-time appointment, the appointment as deputy chairman is possible.

MPH is a venture that is run by Temasek Holdings, Singapore government’s investment company and the Singapore Tourism Board to create a large-scale nature project in the Mandai precinct. It is unknown who makes the decision to appoint Mr Tan as the deputy chairman, but if one were to look at the Temasek Holding’s board and its overseeing board from the government, one can easily deduce who made the decision.

But despite the opaqueness in the appointment, Mr Tan can be seen as someone suited to be part of the MPH. Especially since environmentalists and nature lover had always voiced their disagreement with how Mandai should not be redeveloped.

In a letter to the Straits Times, the Nature Society noted that it has reviewed the EIA Report and prepared a position paper after MPH released its report of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of their proposals. NSS said that it maintains its strong disagreement with the proposed developments and regret the habitat and biodiversity loss that the developments will entail. Nonetheless in its commitment to biodiversity in Singapore, it will continue to engage with MPH so as to help ensure that such losses from the developments are less than they might otherwise be.

Mr Tan was earlier involved in the saga of the exhumation of the graves at Bukit Brown and had not moved an inch from his position regarding the demolition of for a 8-lane carriage way with no consideration of the EIA produced for the project. A project which is meant to relieve traffic as traffic is projected to increase, though the government had announced this year that there will be zero growth in vehicle numbers.

Given Mr Tan’s strong-handed approach to pushing projects that are government backed despite negative public feedback, Mr Tan’s appointment is indeed a well-thought decision.

But as the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Tan has to take note that whenever there is a debate or question raised that is connected to MPH or indirectly related to the interest of MPH, he might want to recuse himself from overseeing the discussion lest he is accused of abusing his position.

Also being announced in the press release to be joining the board is Ms Chong Siak Ching, the National Gallery’s chief executive, who was appointed as a director on 1 Aug this year. Other than being the National Gallery’s CEO, she is also a board member of the Singapore Press Holdings and the Non-Resident Ambassador to Chile.

Mr Tan and Ms Chong join 11 other directors on the MPH board, which is chaired by Mr S Dhanabalan, who is also chairman of Temasek Trust, a member of the Council of Presidential Advisers and a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights.

Editor’s note – Given the scale of MPH and the entities it governs, there is no official website for MPH.