As the war against COVID-19 wages on, life for our local ministers just doesn’t appear to get any easier either. Fighting both critics and the coronavirus, our leaders can’t seem to catch a break with press conferences and other urgent ministerial duties in tow. Particularly in the spotlight is our Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo, especially since recent events have shone a light on the less-than-desirable situation surrounding Singapore’s treatment of our migrant workers.
Earlier this month, Josephine Teo responded to the pandemic and had this to say when questioned whether there would be an apology issued to our migrant workers. Fast forward nearly 20 days later, Teo found herself on the receiving end of an apology instead—albeit for a different reason.
As of 21 May, it has been reported that Josephine Teo has issued formal letters of demand to two men who had allegedly made false statements accusing her and her husband of profiteering and corruption. The premise of the letters is to ask for the statements to be withdrawn.
The accusations were regarding the development of the community care facility by Surbana Jurong at the Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre, which Teo has dismissed as “untrue, scurrilous and completely baseless”.
As most might know by now, the Singapore Expo is just one out of the many designated community care facilities for recovering COVID-19 patients, mainly those who are already clinically well or with milder symptoms. Its total housing capacity stands at 8,000 beds.
“Neither my spouse nor I have any involvement with the commissioning of these projects or the monetary transactions,” said Teo. However, she adds that she does not intend to pursue the matter further if the statements are publicly withdrawn and apologies given.
On top of that, the legal letter issued to the two accusers also requires them to make a donation of S$1,000 each to the Migrant Workers’ Assistance Fund.
Shortly after, Surbana Jurong issued a statement refuting the allegations, stating that they are “not only untrue, they are disrespectful of [their] colleagues who have made enormous sacrifices, including putting their health at risk, to deliver the projects under challenging conditions, for the benefit of [their] community”.
Following this, Donald Liew—one of two men behind the false corruption allegations against Teo and her husband—has apologised and withdrawn the offending material.
“I apologise unreservedly to Mrs Josephine Teo for making [the allegations]. I have removed the statement and undertake not to publish any further statements on this, or to make any allegations to the same or similar effect, in any manner whatsoever,” wrote Mr Liew. However, it is not yet clear whether Mr Liew has made the S$1,000 donation.
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