Supposed-private research company employs significant number of former workers from govt-linked entities

The company is also headed by five directors, all of whom are senior civil servants

It appears that Rysense Ltd is not only headed by five senior civil servants as its directors, the research company had also employed former workers of government-linked entities to work in different departments.

In an earlier report, TOC revealed that the online survey community HappyDot.sg is actually owned by Rysense Ltd, a Public Company Limited by Guarantee (PCLG) which was founded in 2014. The company is headed by five directors – all of whom are Singapore senior civil servants – and one Malaysian secretary.

That report was followed by revelations of Rysense conducting surveys commissioned by the Ministry of Communication and Information (MCI) in the past years.

Claims emerged that these MCI-commissioned surveys contain questions with possible political nuances.

In one instance in 2018, Ervin Tan, who formerly represented Amos Yee as the latter’s defence lawyer, said he was approached by Rysense’s surveyor to complete MCI’s “News Consumption Survey”.

“Rather intriguingly,” he said, at the end of the survey, he was “asked (among other questions), on a scale of one to ten (being strongly disagree or strongly agree)” about whether “Singapore headed in the right direction” and “Is the Prime Minister doing a good job”.

What’s more, Rysense’s recent job advertisement on Jobstreet implicitly states that the company does generate profits from these projects.

As Rysense is declared as PCLG, it has no share capital and is prohibited from paying dividends or surplus to its respective members. Alternatively, it could retain the profits in the company or use them to achieve the company’s objectives.

These findings, however, raised questions on the declaration of Rysense’s earnings from the MCI-commissioned surveys.

In fact, the composition of its Board of Directors suggested that Rysense is fully-owned and controlled by the government.

Documents obtained from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) has revealed the following names as the directors of Rysense Ltd:

  • Kwek Poh Heok, a Deputy Principal Private Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies;
  • Yeo Ken Jin, an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore;
  • Wong Wee Kim, Chief Statistician at the Ministry of Trade and Industry;
  • Tan Chor Kiat, a Senior Director of Industry Division at the Ministry of Trade and Industry; and
  • Leong Der Yao, a Senior Director at Government Technology Agency (GovTech), under the Prime Minister’s Office

It is worth noting that civil servants in Singapore are prohibited from moonlighting or taking on a second job. They are required to seek approval before doing so, with approval considered on a case-by-case basis.

Considering that these individuals work in different ministries, it is not known who might have given approvals or instructions to them if such is the case.

Furthermore, TOC has recently discovered that at least 13 of Rysense’s employees have past work experience in the government-linked entities.

While TOC are not disclosing the names of these employees, we listed down the job position that the person holds at Rysense, as well as the person’s past job experience in the government-linked entities, alongside a screenshot of the employee’s LinkedIn profile.

List of Rysense’s employees who have past work experience in govt-linked entities

The most notable profile among Rysense’s employees is its Associate Director of Corporate Development Division, with more than 11 years of experience working in the government sector.

Within 11 years, this employee has worked for the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), SingHealth, and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

This second employee of Rysense happens to be a former Legislative Assistant at the Parliament of the Republic, Singapore in 2006. This employee had also worked as a Director at Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital in 2016.

Thirdly is Rysense’s current Senior Executive of Panel Operations who turns out to be a former Data Processing Assistant at Media Research Consultants (MRC), which also known as MediaCorp Enterprise on LinkedIn.

The fourth employee of Rysense used to work in the Ministry of Information, Communications and Arts for more than three years, and was a former counsellor at the Singapore Prison Service in 2004.

This fifth employee of Rysense happens to be a former Management Executive Officer at the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in October 2019.

Rysense’s current Senior Designer has previously worked at the SPH Magazines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of media organisation Singapore Press Holdings Limited, for more than three years.

The Head of Human Resources and Admin at Rysense had previously worked at the Health Promotion Board for more than three years, and was a former Manager at Singapore Tourism Board for over five years.

Rysense’s current Assistant Manager of Qualitative Research has previously worked for the National Arts Council in 2011, as well as the Singapore Sports Council in 2010.

The ninth employee of Rysense was a former Research Analyst at the Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, from July 2014 to October 2018.

This employee had also worked at Singapore’s national teacher education institute, National Institute of Education (NIE), which is an autonomous institute of Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Moving on to the tenth employee of Rysense, this employee turns out to be a former Administrative Officer at the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), and a former part-timer at the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board.

The eleventh employee of Rysense used to work for the National Youth Council (NYC) Singapore in 2017, and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) which governed by the MSF.

Next is Rysense’s Senior Executive of Quantitative Research, who happens to be a former Research Assistant at the National Institute of Education Singapore in 2016.

Another former employee of MRC was employed by Rysense in 2018. This employee had also worked for MediaCorp Pte Ltd for more than a year, and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) for nine months.

Govt-linked entities recruit ex-Rysense employees right after their resignation

TOC had also discovered six profiles of Rysense’s former employees, who were recruited by the government-linked entities not long after they resigned from the research company.

A former Assistant Manager of Process Audit at Rysense is now a full-time statistician at the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS). This individual worked for the research company from March 2016 to January this year, and moved to DOS in the following month.

A former Senior Research Executive at Rysense has moved to two different government-owned entities after resigning from the research company in January 2017.

These two companies include Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), and CapitaLand – which 40 per cent of CapitaLand is owned by the sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings.

This individual worked as a research assistant at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore for eight months, before joining Rysense as an executive in June 2017.

This employee has recently moved to the National Youth Council Singapore as a Manager.

Next is Rysense’s former Data Solutions Executive who worked there for nearly three years.

Prior to the employment in Rysense, this individual has worked for the People’s Association (PA) – a grassroots organisation for the incumbent People’s Action Party (PAP) – as a Community Management Executive for 11 months, and the National Heritage Board for over a year.

This employee started working at Rysense in February 2016 and subsequently resigned in September 2018 to join CapitaLand as a Senior Executive of Digital International.

A former Senior Manager at Rysense now holds a Director position at a Temasek-owned company, ST Engineering Electronics Ltd.

This individual had previously worked at four different government-owned companies before being employed at Rysense. These companies are including Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) – a statutory board under the Ministry of Defence – and GovTech.

Lastly is Rysense’s former Senior Research Advisor, who worked in the research company for more than five years.

Prior to his employment at Rysense, this individual was a former worker at the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and also at the Ministry of Education (MOE).

This individual currently holds two job positions after resigning from Rysense in August this year. He is now a Consultant at the UNESCO, and also a “Senior Research Fellow” at the Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Meanwhile, these 19 profiles seem to further question the government’s link and likely ownership of the private research company, Rysense Ltd.

On top of these, it should also be noted that former Internal Security Director, Benny Lim had previously headed the company as its Chairman.

In fact, as TOC had reported earlier, Rysense’s ownership of the online survey community HappyDot.sg also allows it to push out government messages under the guise of a private company conducting “independent” surveys.

Considering that these individuals worked in different government-linked entities before joining Rysense, with some even recruited by the government after their resignation in the research company, it raised the question of whether they are akin to lateral staff transfers?

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