Singapore Sees No Conflict in Former Minister Advising Hong Kong

Singapore said its former foreign minister’s role as an adviser to the Hong Kong government on economic development is not a conflict of interest.

George Yeo, who left the Singapore Cabinet after losing his parliamentary seat in elections two years ago, was named a non-official member of Hong Kong’s Economic Development Commission by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying last month. The move is not a violation of Singapore’s Official Secrets Act, Masagos Zulkifli, senior minister of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in Parliament today.

“It is not unusual for governments to appoint foreigners as advisers to tap on their professional expertise and experience,” Masagos said. “Mr. Yeo constantly upheld our and will continue to uphold our national interests.”

Yeo, 58, had also led Singapore’s trade, health and information and communication ministries in more than two decades as a politician. Singapore will not restrict other former ministers of trade, finance and defense to take on overseas advisory in the future, Masagos said.

Hong Kong formed the Economic Development Commission to provide “direction and advice to the government on the overall strategy and policy” to improve its growth and development, the government said Jan. 17.

After leaving politics, Yeo became the vice chairman of billionaire Robert Kuok’s Kerry Group (HK) Pte and also chairman of Kerry Logistics Network Ltd. In November, Yeo, who has an MBA from Harvard Business School, was named an independent non-executive director of AIA Group Ltd.