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Grab Hires Singapore Politician for Public Affairs Role

(Bloomberg) -- Grab Holdings Ltd. hired Singapore politician Tin Pei Ling to run its government relations department, as the ride-hailing and delivery company faces regulatory changes in its biggest market.

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Tin’s title is director, public affairs and policy for Grab Singapore, the company said in an email on Wednesday. Tin, 39, has been a member of the city-state’s parliament since 2011 and she is the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information, according to the website of the ruling People’s Action Party.

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“Members of Parliament in Singapore are allowed to hold jobs in the private sector, and many hold such roles,” Grab said. “The two roles are distinct, and we have established clear rules of engagement to ensure that any conflicts of interest will be avoided.”

Like governments around the world, Singapore is rolling out legislative changes to better protect gig-economy workers. Ride-hailing and food-delivery companies are built on the labor of these low-wage contract workers, but have resisted taking them on as full-time employees to contain costs.

Grab said that Tin understands digital economy policy and that she will build partnerships and programs to harness technology’s potential in Singapore.

Representatives for Tin’s PAP party didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Grab, one of the most high-profile companies in its home market because of the ubiquity of its cars and couriers, has struggled to reach profitability amid stiff competition. Shares of the company have lost two-thirds of their value since its merger with a US blank check company in late 2021.

Tin entered politics more than a decade ago and was elected to parliament under a team led by former Prime Minister and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. As one of the youngest candidates to be slated at that time, Tin initially came under scrutiny and criticism for her age and political inexperience. During the latest election, she triumphed at the polls, winning 71.7% of the votes in her district, among the highest candidate reelection margins.

In November, Singapore’s government said that the city-state’s ride-hailing and food-delivery workers are set to gain more benefits like insurance and pensions, but the platform companies using them won’t need to treat them as full-time employees. While the new rules will guarantee more benefits to the workers, for instance in the case of injury, the cost increase for the platform companies will be limited because they won’t need to take them on full-time.

(Updates with Grab’s business challenges starting in fourth paragraph)

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