Never Mind the Conflict of Interest! Tin Pei Ling Proves Once Again That Joining the PAP Is A Smart Career Move
News today that Tin Pei Ling was joining Grab as Director of Public Affairs and Policy. TPL was last seen spreading disinformation and fake news during the pandemic. She misleadingly claimed using what she said were back-of-the-envelope calculation that. the Government had spent $100 billion on helping Singaporeans.and that on a per capita basis this amounted to about $23,000.
However I showed that the true figure was about $44 billion but even less if one subtracted the portion of the Jobs Support Scheme going to state-owned companies as that was just moving money from one pocket to another, a time-honoured tradition of PAP finance ministers, and should have been included within the wider government surplus. In fact even before netting off double counting the actual deficit for 2020 was only around $34 billion on the Government’s own fake definition once top-ups to endowments and trust funds were subtracted.
As for the per capita figure I showed that actual support for Singaporean citizens and PRs was about $600 on a per capita basis, miniscule by comparison with what other much less wealthy countries. I called for TPL to be issued with a POFMA notice saying:
If you ignore my letter and refuse to issue a Correction Notice then it will be plain to Singaporeans that POFMA was never intended to deal with the problem of fake news but on the contrary to allow the PAP Government to present its own false facts secure in its monopoly of information and in the knowledge that this new piece of repressive legislation will even further deter ordinary citizens from challenging them.
Like other PAP MPs and wives and offspring of Ministers for whom, despite being paid hundreds of thousands up to several million dollars for very little work and enjoying complete job security, “money no enough”, TPL has now been rewarded by being hired for a no doubt highly lucrative position with a company in which Temasek and possibly GIC hold significant stakes. Being an MP at the same time raises several conflict of interest issues since she will presumably be expected to lobby for Grab in Parliament and seek to influence legislation. Will she be referred to the Committee of Privileges if she has? At the same time surely her new position is a full time one so that the interests of her constituents will be neglected. In countries like the UK being an MP is a full time job because Parliament sits most of the year and while MPs can be paid as consultants or for giving speeches or writing articles they cannot be in full time employment.
Of course in Singapore, just as in Communist China, the lines between public and private are blurred, and all large companies, and especially those which are technology unicorns and fly the flag for Singapore, can be described as PAP-controlled and -influenced organisations. With Grab it is difficult to determine the extent of surreptitious PAP control but it is likely to go well beyond the public shareholdings of Temasek and possibly GIC. We should have a public register of Minister’s and MP’s interests, rather than the “ownself check ownself” of PAP Ministers and MPs being merely required to declare their interests to PM Lee. But in a country where the PM can appoint his own wife to head Temasek and his son to be head of the Technology Agency, it is natural that those further down the food chain will want to get their snouts in the trough. TPL’s good fortune reminds Singaporeans that for those lacking natural talent being a member of the PAP or better still being selected as an MP is a smart career move. She will now be able to upgrade from Kate Spade to Hermes. By grabbing whatever she can get, like so many others in the PAP elite, she serves as the best advertisement for her new employer.