Tin Pei Ling to change job scope after discussions with Grab and PAP

Member of Parliament (MP) Tin Pei Ling and Grab Singapore have “mutually agreed” to change her job scope, after questions were raised about potential conflicts of interest.

This comes just one week after the tech giant confirmed Tin had joined in January as its director of public affairs and policy.

The role would have seen her manage the company’s relations with the government, while concurrently serving as a lawmaker.

Grab announced that Tin will be taking up a new role in a statement on Feb 10 saying that she will now be director of corporate development, whose duties will include “realising synergies across our investments and acquisitions, as well as supporting strategy development”.

The company most known for its ride-hailing service also made clear that Tin will not be representing them in public policy discussions with the government, while still being “expected to continue abiding by the rules of engagement we have put in place to declare and avoid any possible conflicts of interest”.

On Feb 1, Grab had confirmed that Tin, 39, had joined the super-app, after she was seen at a Chinese New Year event of theirs.

When chatter began on how she would handle her two roles, Tin came out to promise she would be “transparent and above board”, adding that Grab and her political party the People’s Action Party (PAP) have rules on conflict of interest.

Grab: We want an environment where she can serve effectively

In its statement, Grab agreed that this “warrants robust discussion” and said that they had given it “much thought and care”.

“We had worked closely with her months in advance to ensure her hiring and the scope of her expected responsibilities are in line with the rules governing her duties and conduct as an MP.

“Pei Ling had also informed her party leaders, who did not object to her appointment.”

Grab added that their rules of engagement meant that Tin should not be advocating for the company’s interest in her capacity as an MP.


“However, the discourse has led us to pause and reflect on how we can create an environment where Pei Ling can serve effectively in both her roles as an MP as well as representing Grab,” it said. 

“We acknowledge that this is difficult if the intent behind every action or position she takes in the future is doubted or called into question.”

PAP: There could be challenges carrying out her responsibilities

In a Facebook post today (Feb 10), PAP confirmed that they had not objected to Tin becoming Grab’s director of public affairs and policy, but revealed that following public comments, they discussed with her again to better understand the scope of her duties.

It became clear to the party that she would be expected to engage regularly with ministries and agencies on public policy issues on behalf of Grab.

“While she would make it clear that she was engaging them in her private capacity and not as a PAP MP, there could still be challenges in carrying out this set of responsibilities, especially under the current circumstances,” said PAP.

The ruling party went on to say: “The PAP holds itself and its MPs to high standards of propriety and integrity. Most PAP backbench MPs have private careers. This keeps them in touch with our economy and society and enables able and committed people from many professions and walks of life to serve as MPs, raising the quality of MPs in Parliament.

“However, it is essential that MPs rigorously separate their public role as MPs from their professional and commercial interests in their private careers.”

The statement also reiterated the “Rules of Prudence” for PAP’s MPs.

“In no circumstances are they to abuse their status as MPs, or their access to Ministers, Civil Servants, and Govern­ment agencies, for private or commercial gain.

“While performing their MP duties, they are expected to declare potential conflicts of interest, and recuse themselves as appropriate from decisions, discussions and positions where there is a risk of such a conflict arising.”

Tin’s new role as director of corporate development, PAP noted, will not involve government relations.

Looking forward to new role 

In a LinkedIn post today (Feb 10), Tin said that following the recent public attention, Grab and her discussed and agreed that it would be best for her 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,” she wrote.

“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 said that she’s looking forward to her new role, one which is aligned to her career interest and will also tap on her past experiences in consulting and corporate strategy. 

“To ensure that I can always contribute constructively in Parliament, I also need to challenge myself to grow, and keep pace with developments,” she added.

“Hence I saw the opportunity to return to the private sector as a way to broaden my horizons and to hone new skills.”

‘Singapore comes first’

When Grab first announced they had hired Tin as director of public affairs and policy, they had said that she “has deep on-ground understanding of digital economy and Smart Nation policy, and close ties with the local community”.

“She will build partnerships and programmes to harness the positive potential of technology to create impact in Singapore.”

Tin later revealed that she received several questions about whether there was a conflict of interest by taking up the position, since she is still an MP.

In a LinkedIn post on Feb 2, she wrote: “There is a clear and mutual understanding that my role as a Parliamentarian is distinct from my role at Grab.

She pointed out that PAP has “a published set of Rules of Prudence, as well as mechanisms in place for declarations of interest and the avoidance of conflicting interests”.

“I am absolutely clear that when I am discharging my duties in my capacity as a Member of Parliament, my constituents and Singapore come first,” she wrote.


Her previous job

Before joining Grab, Tin was chief executive of Business China for over four years.

The non-profit organisation cultivates Singapore-China relations and is backed by the government.

She left on Dec 2, indicating a desire to pursue interests in the private sector, but remains on their board of directors.

The three-term MP currently represents the constituency of MacPherson, after first getting elected to Parliament as part of the Marine Parade GRC team.

Married with two children, she also sits on the Government Parliamentary Committees for Communications and Information, and Culture, Community and Youth, leading the former.

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