Temasek updates its charter, but any difference in accountability and transparency?

(Temasek’s updated charter is attached below.)

Quick Snippets from the Editor
27 Aug 2009

Temasek Holdings recently updated its charter to distance itself from the role of managing investments on behalf of the Government.

Temasek now portrays itself as an investment holding firm operating purely on commercial interests whose role is no longer focussed on diversifying away from local companies. Its updated charter also states that it seeks to create and deliver sustainable long-term value for stakeholders, as opposed to the old charter which states that it manages investments for the long-term benefit of Singapore.

Amidst all these cosmetic changes, we should ask: Will there any difference in Temasek’s level of accountability and transparency?

No matter how many superficial changes are made to Temasek’s charter, what cannot be denied is that Temasek is charged with the responsibility of managing and investing our national savings. These assets are derived from the industry and productivity of Singapore citizens. Ultimately, Temasek Holdings and the Government must be made accountable to citizens for the management of these assets.

We have seen Temasek make ill-judged forays into regional investments such as Thailand’s Shin Corporation and ill-timed investments in collapsing financial institutions that were brought to their knees in the credit crunch of 2008. We have witnessed how Temasek lost nearly half its portfolio in the recent bear market. Temasek has not been made to account to Singaporeans for this disastrous management of their collective savings.

With Temasek’s charter now explicitly focussed on managing investments for stakeholders rather than for the long-term benefit of Singaporeans, it will be even harder to make it accountable to citizens.

Temasek’s returns should be used to build a comprehensive social safety net for Singaporeans who have fallen through the cracks due to the ravages of globalization and inflation, not used to bail out failing companies.

The Government likes to scare Singaporeans into believing that if we dip our fingers into our nest egg for the sake of the poor and disadvantaged, our national savings will be destroyed. This is just ugly propaganda that must be forcefully rebutted.


Temasek Charter

Temasek Holdings is an investment company managed on commercial principles to create and deliver sustainable long-term value for our stakeholders.

Temasek is an active value-oriented investor and may increase, reduce or hold its investments in companies or other assets, or pioneer innovative products or businesses in order to create and maximise shareholder value.

Temasek is an active shareholder and aims to achieve sustainable returns by engaging the boards and managements of its portfolio companies to:


Foster a deep culture of integrity, meritocracy and excellence;


Maintain a clear focus on core competence, customer fulfilment, innovation, commercial discipline and consistent value creation;

Human Capital

Cultivate high calibre board and management leadership, as well as committed and responsible employees;

Sustainable Growth

Institutionalise superior business leadership, financial discipline, operational excellence and sound corporate governance;

Strategic Options

Create strategic options to build significant international or regional brands or businesses.

Temasek is a responsible corporate citizen and is committed to contributing part of its returns to encourage the growth and development of the wider community.

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