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The Straits Times
Feb 10, 2023
Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling will switch to a new job scope at Grab Singapore following the public outcry that accompanied her appointment as its director of public affairs and policy last week.
Her role has been changed to one involving corporate development, said the ride-hailing and technology company in a statement on Friday.
“Her duties will include realising synergies across our investments and acquisitions, as well as supporting strategy development,” said a company spokesman.
“In her new role, Pei Ling will not be involved in public affairs and policy work in Singapore, nor will she represent Grab in public policy discussions with Singapore government officials.”
The change comes just over a week after Ms Tin’s appointment was made public. Her initial appointment attracted criticism and prompted questions over a possible conflict of interest with her role in the Government.
In its statement, Grab Singapore acknowledged that Ms Tin’s initial appointment had “generated significant discourse” and that “conflicts of interest in any setting warrant robust discussion”.
It admitted that balancing the efforts to allow Ms Tin to serve effectively both as its employee and as an MP “is difficult if the intent behind every action or position she takes in the future is doubted or called into question”.
Following the switch to her new role, the spokesman added that Ms Tin “will be expected to continue abiding by the rules of engagement we have put in place to declare and avoid any possible conflicts of interest, and operate in the same manner as other MPs holding private sector roles”.
It also said the governing People’s Action Party (PAP), to which Ms Tin belongs, had not objected to her appointment.
In a separate statement also issued on Friday, the PAP said that while it did not object to the nature of Ms Tin’s job when the matter was first raised in September 2022, it discussed the matter with her again following the public reaction to the news.
“It then became clear to the party that she would be expected to engage regularly with government ministries and agencies on public policy issues on behalf of Grab.
“While she would make it clear that she was engaging in her private capacity and not as a PAP MP, there could still be challenges in carrying out these responsibilities, especially under the current circumstances,” it said.
It added that it “holds itself and its Members of Parliament to high standards of propriety and integrity”.
“It is essential that MPs rigorously separate their public role as MPs from their professional and commercial interests in their private careers.”
Ms Tin, who is the MP for MacPherson, had attended Grab’s Chinese New Year appreciation lunch for driver- and delivery-partners on Feb 1 in her new capacity.
In a statement on her own Facebook page, shortly after the media statements were released, she said: “Following the recent public attention, Grab and I discussed and agreed that it would be best for me to move into a role that did not involve any government relations in Singapore.
“I understand and have long come to accept the public scrutiny that comes with being an MP... But I would never want it to hinder my ability to serve my constituents well as MP, or to do my job at Grab effectively.
“And this would be the case if my intentions and actions in the future are always called into doubt, whether justified or not.”
She added that her new role is aligned to her career interests and will also tap her past experience in consulting and corporate strategy.
Prior to joining Grab, Ms Tin was chief executive of Business China, a non-profit organisation spearheaded by the Singapore Government and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
She left on Dec 2, 2022 after spending 4½ years in the role, citing a desire to pursue interests in the private sector. The three-term MP remains part of Business China’s board of directors.
Ms Tin, who is married with two children, currently chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Communications and Information, and is a member of the GPC for Culture, Community and Youth.