SEC suspends executive director, says investigations ongoing

SIAU MING EN Today Online 13 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — He had just presented the Asian Environmental Journalism Awards at a ceremony on Wednesday (Oct 12) but less than 24 hours later, Mr Edwin Seah, the executive director of the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), found himself suspended from his duties without a clear explanation.

Speaking to TODAY, the 46-year-old said he was notified of his suspension via a phone call from SEC executive committee chairman Lam Joon Khoi at about 11am on Thursday.

When Mr Seah probed further on the reason for his suspension, Mr Lam told him that he could not disclose the details. A meeting has been fixed for next Wednesday and TODAY understands that a committee of inquiry will be held then.

“It was definitely a surprise,” Mr Seah said. “(On Wednesday) we had a pretty good event ... (and) this call came out of the blue. It’s a complete shock,” the father of two added.

Responding to media queries, an SEC spokesperson confirmed that “the SEC Board has decided to suspend Edwin Seah” with effect from yesterday. “We are unable to comment further as investigations are ongoing,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Seah, on childcare leave on Thursday and Friday, was supposed to fly to Ukraine on Friday to attend the Global Ecolabelling Network’s annual general meeting and elections as an SEC representative.

He would no longer make the trip, he told TODAY. In October 2014, he joined SEC as director of communications before being appointed executive director in April last year.

TODAY understands that Mr Seah had disagreements with a senior figure in SEC. When asked about this, he said: “I think it’s quite common if there are disagreements, but the fact that the programmes have gone on pretty well in the time I’ve been (executive director), that should be more of the focus.” Asked about the disagreements, SEC could not respond by press time.

Describing his experience at the council as one that was “enriching”, Mr Seah said that he enjoyed working with the team at the non-governmental organisation, where the number of projects have also grown over the years.

During the haze last year, SEC suspended the use of its green label on Asian Pulp and Paper Group’s products while some supermarket chains also stopped selling paper products sourced from the group. Mr Seah added that under his lead, the council’s financial position has also been enhanced and the employee turnover rate was lowered.


Head of environmental NGO suspended from duty pending internal investigation
Lynda Hong Yahoo Finance Singapore 14 Oct 16;

Edwin Seah, Executive Director of the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), has been suspended indefinitely from duty from Thursday (Oct 13).

In an email response, an SEC spokesperson said: "The SEC Board has decided to suspend Edwin Seah with effect from today. We are unable to comment further as investigations are ongoing.”

Apart from the phone call from SEC executive committee chairman Lam Joon Khoi on Thursday morning, Seah said there has been no interview request from authorities to assist with the investigation.

“As far as I know, this is an internal investigation,” said Seah in a phone interview with Yahoo Singapore.

An SEC meeting would convene on Oct 19. It is unclear if Seah is now on no-pay leave pending this meeting.

Seah is surprised by this move, saying that no staff has been suspended before. He is supposed to be on childcare leave on Thursday and Friday, before heading for a work trip next week in Ukraine.

He said there was a good relationship with board members like Professor Leo and Philip Su, as well as with his colleagues.

An unnamed employee said: “Edwin has been so supportive since he stepped up. I really couldn’t have asked for a better boss."

Seah was appointed Executive Director in April 2015, after having joined the SEC as Director of Communications in October 2014.


Green group chief 'shocked' by suspension via phone call
Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Oct 16;

The head of a green group has been suspended indefinitely, surprising many in the environmental scene.

Mr Edwin Seah, 46, who has been executive director of the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) since April last year, was told of the move yesterday morning while on leave.

He said he was told via a phone call from the council's executive committee chairman Lam Joon Khoi.

"I'm shocked because no reason was given, and I was due to travel tomorrow night on official business," he told The Straits Times.

He was due to fly to Ukraine tonight for the annual general meeting and elections for the Global Eco-labelling Network, of which he is an elected board member.

An SEC spokesman said:"The SEC Board has decided to suspend Edwin Seah with effect from today.

We are unable to comment further as investigations are ongoing."

ST understands the council will hold a committee of inquiry next Wednesday.

The non-governmental organisation spreads environmental awareness through training programmes, awards and its Singapore Green Labelling Scheme.

It was started in 1995 and has 28 full-time staff.

Mr Seah, who was previously at the Singapore Tourism Board and Energy Market Authority, was nominated along with SEC former eco-certification head Kavickumar Muruganathan for The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award last year.

They were recognised for raising awareness about the link between the haze and unsustainable paper products.

Mr Seah's suspension is the latest in a string of personnel changes in the charity.

In April, Mr Kavickumar, 27, left to join Asia Pulp and Paper (APP).

Former chief executive Jose Raymond, 44, also joined APP in January but left last month and has since set up his own public relations firm.

Professor Ang Peng Hwa, who co-founded the Haze Elimination Action Team volunteer group, said he was shocked by the news, especially as he had just met Mr Seah at an SEC event on Wednesday.

"With all the recent personnel changes this year, it seems like it is a spell of bad luck for SEC," he said.

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