The issue of “conflict of interest” is something that has to be finely balanced in Singapore. This is particularly the case where we have a dominant People’s Action Party (PAP) linked to virtually all aspects of public life. A recent example of this is when it was announced by Grab Singapore that Ms Tin Pei Ling, Member of Parliament (MP) for MacPherson Single Member Constituency, had been appointed as its Director of Public Affairs and Policy.
While Ms Tin may possess the skills to perform this role, the issue is whether there is a conflict of interest. As an MP, Ms Tin could potentially influence the shape of policy, which could benefit Grab Singapore in a way that a non-MP would not be able to. This would mean that Grab Singapore could reap benefits it would not otherwise have had if it did not have Ms Tin as a director. While there is no evidence that this was the intention of either Grab Singapore or Ms Tin, matters such as these should be handled in a way that is totally above board. After all, justice must not only be done, but it must also be seen to be done.
This appointment has raised the ire of some netizens who complained about seeming double standards. One said: “NSF slaves earning $600 a month get sent to detention barracks if they moonlight. But MPs earning $16,000 a month are so free that they can work a second job.”
An added question that arises is whether MPs should be allowed to have another job. After all, being an MP and serving constituents should be one’s full-time job, should it not? They are well remunerated at $16k per month, a full-time salary. Given that, is it fair for them to have another job? Can they truly serve their constituents properly if they have another job?
Ms Tin’s appointment, potentially being one where a conflict of interest arises, is not an isolated one. When the Covid-19 pandemic was raging, another PAP heavyweight, Mrs Josephine Teo, also faced public backlash when there was speculation that Mrs Teo was involved in the Government’s decision to commission Surbana Jurong Pte Ltd to develop COVID ca...