Pokka CEO Alain Ong, hubby of Pokka ambassador Vivian Lai, suspended pending internal audit
Pokka says he's still an employee even though his CEO duties have been taken over.
The CEO of Pokka International, Alain Ong, has been suspended from his duties pending an internal audit, according to Shin Min Daily News (SMDN) in a Sept. 26 report.
According to the Chinese paper, there has been a massive shake up of the beverage company’s higher management a few days ago. Aside from Ong, several other management-level positions from other departments have also been replaced.
Ong’s duties have been handed over to Rieko Shofu, Group CEO of Pokka Corporation (Singapore) Pte Ltd. The latter is concurrently the acting CEO of Pokka International.
In response to SMDN’s queries, a Pokka spokesperson only said that the higher management positions from both Pokka International and Pokka Corporation were being replaced during the internal audit period so as to prevent disruptions to the company operations. The spokesperson also declined to comment on the audit matters as it is ongoing.
However, Pokka confirmed with SMDN that Ong is still an employee of the company even though his work has been taken over by Rieko.
A quick check on Pokka Singapore’s website showed only Rieko on the board of directors:
Pokka partners received letter regarding management change
SMDN further said that a reader supplied the paper with a letter from Pokka addressed to its business partners and supermarkets.
The letter, which was sent on September 19, stated that Rieko was taking over Ong’s duties and that the latter was no longer authorised to represent Pokka Corporation (Singapore) and Pokka International .
8 company personnel suspended
According to SMDN’s investigations, up to eight employees have been suspended and ordered to stay away from company premises during the audit period.
It is unclear who these eight are.
The paper also said that personnel from Pokka’s Japan headquarters arrived in Singapore to commence their audit two weeks ago. A few days later, eight employees were asked to leave the company. The paper’s source also divulged that these eight employees were strictly forbidden from entering the company’s premises without the expressed permission from the upper management.
SMDN added that none of the suspended personnel are Japanese management.
Pokka did not comment on the alleged suspension of the personnel, citing company policy. The company stressed that no investigative organisation is conducting any investigation into the company or its employees.
CEO’s wife has been Pokka ambassador for a decade
Ong’s wife, Mediacorp artiste Vivian Lai, has been Pokka’s ambassador for more than a decade. According to SMDN, Lai reportedly received S$1 million for her endorsement in 2012 – a sum that supposedly exceeded the going rate for veteran Mediacorp artistes.
Lai who is currently 41 years old hosts a slew of popular variety shows on Channel 8. Notably, she’s a co-host of What’s In The Fridge? (冰箱的秘密) which counts Pokka as one of its sponsors.
Her co-host for the show Pornsak is the spokesperson for the Asian Story packaged drinks brand which is distributed by Pokka.
In response to SMDN’s queries about Pokka’s future marketing strategy and possible change in endorsement personality, the Pokka spokesperson said that the company is focusing on maintaining company operations during this period and has not made any decisions on future marketing strategies.
Both Ong and Lai refused to respond to SMDN’s visits and calls.
[Edit: The previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Asian Story is owned by Pokka. It has been corrected.]
Top images by Pokka Facebook.