The Health Ministry (MOH) and the National Development Ministry (MND) issued a joint statement yesterday (20 May) refuting recent online allegations of profiteering and corruption in relation to the development of the community care facility (CCF) by Surbana Jurong at the Singapore Expo.
“These allegations are false and malicious,” the statement said.
CCFs are meant to house COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms, or who are recovering after they have been discharged from hospital.
The government then went on to explain that since facilities like CCFs had to be built and prepared quickly, it “thus worked closely with Temasek, at short notice”.
“Temasek was approached because it had the necessary resources, to be marshalled, at short notice, through its subsidiaries. Temasek agreed to assist, and also agreed that the work done by Temasek and its linked companies, would be done at cost recovery basis, and in some cases, below cost,” the government said.
“There will be no profit made by Temasek and its linked companies for the work done. The Temasek linked companies agreed with these arrangements.”
The government added that it was Temasek which proposed using Singapore Expo as venue for CCF and that Temasek asked Surbana to convert it into “Singapore’s first large-scale CCF”.
“Temasek also confirmed that its linked companies, including SJ (Surbana) will only charge for direct expenditure, at cost. Some aspects were charged at below normal cost. For example, Temasek told the Government that SingEx Venues Pte Ltd, which manages the Singapore EXPO, will not charge the full capex cost, since the EXPO was not being used for normal business anyway,” it said.
“The Ministry of Manpower and the Minister for Manpower were not involved in the selection of SJ (or any of the parties) to participate in the development of the Singapore EXPO CCF, and were not involved in the process of managing the costs of the project.”
As a warning to those who made allegation of corruption, the government said, “The Government accepts that legitimate questions can be raised about the spending, and is fully prepared to explain why and how money was spent. However the Government will respond firmly and appropriately to any scurrilous allegation of corruption.”
Following the joint statement issued by MOH and MND, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has issued letters of demand to activist Jolovan Wham and a person named Donald Liew for accusing her and her husband of profiteering and corruption (‘Josephine Teo sends legal letters to two people over ‘completely baseless’ accusations of profiteering and corruption‘).
In any case, the government has always said that it maintains an “arms-length relationship” with Temasek as well as GIC. This was what Minister Lawrence Wong replied in Parliament last year when WP MP Png Eng Huat asked if there is a remuneration cap for key management of government companies like Temasek and GIC. Wong refused to reveal the salaries of top management at the two government companies in Parliament (‘Govt does not interfere in salary decisions for top brass at GIC, Temasek: Lawrence Wong‘).