Written by Ng E-Jay
10 Sept 2009
In its letter to the Wall Street Journal “Correcting Temasek Misperceptions” (08 Sept), Temasek Holdings stated that they “do not manage Singapore citizens’ earnings“, and that it is factually wrong (for the WSJ) to imply that Singaporeans have no choice but to keep their money with the fund.
I am appalled by the latest stand Temasek Holdings has taken, which seems to suggest that the assets they manage have nothing to do with the productive work of Singapore citizens and the wealth they have created for the nation over the past 5 decades.
Temasek Holdings was responding to an earlier WSJ editorial “Temasek’s Revised Charter” (31 Aug), which argued that Temasek’s latest charter “skirts the basic conflict of interest between the public interest of protecting citizens’ earnings and the private-market imperative of taking risks to seek returns“.
(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?
Written by Ng E-Jay
19 Aug 2009
Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was so evasive about questions posed in Parliament in Tuesday concerning Temasek’s short-lived CEO Charles “Chip” Goodyear that one cannot be blamed for thinking he could have been hiding some private secret that he does not want dragged into the light of day.
According to a Channel News Asia report, Mr Tharman was grilled for nearly 20 minutes by MPs who raised various questions pertaining to Temasek Holdings, including whether it should be headed by a foreigner, as well as the reasons for the sudden departure of Mr Goodyear after he had obtained the ringing endorsement of the Government only months ago.
Mr Tharman told Parliament that the Government will leave the decision to Temasek on when to appoint a new successor, but he added the next CEO should ideally be a Singaporean.
However, when he was asked for more details on why Mr Charles Goodyear left Temasek Holdings recently after having held the job for only 5 months, Mr Tharman flatly refused to divulge anything, saying it “serves no strategic purpose” for the public to know.
By the Singapore Democrats
21 July 2009
The about turn in Temasek’s appointment of Mr Charles Goodyear as CEO to replace Ms Ho Ching is a sad but accurate reflection of the abysmal leadership seen at the organisation.
Chairman of Temasek, Mr S Dhanabalan, had said in an announcement in February this year when Mr Goodyear was first appointed that the company had been “working on this appointment for more than a year.” He added that Mr Goodyear “shares the vision and values” of Temasek. Barely four months later, we learn that this appointment has been reversed because of “differences regarding certain strategic issues that could not be resolved.”
Given that Mr Goodyear’s appointment has been deliberated for over a year, is it plausible that strategic issues cropped up only at the last minute? What were these differences and why can’t they be resolved?
Fresh from the Oven
04 June 2009
Analysts have estimated that Temasek’s portfolio was up around 13% from the period November 2008 to mid May 2009.
A Straits Times online report quoted the finance research firm Nomura Analysts as saying that Temasek’s portfolio value had bounced back to around $143 billion as of May 15, a gain of approximately 12.5% from a low made last November.
If the research firm is accurate in their estimates, Temasek’s portfolio has significantly underperformed regional equity markets.
Written by Ng E-Jay
11 March 2009
Is there really no Singapore citizen who is fit to manage our own country’s reserves?
That was the impression Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew gave last week when he said at the Thomson Reuters Newsmaker Event that “there was nobody inside Temasek equal to the job” of CEO.
MM Lee was explaining the events leading up to Ho Ching’s resignation, from the Cabinet granting in-principle approval for her to step down last month, to the release of a Cabinet paper tabled by the Ministry of Finance laying out her reasons for retiring. MM Lee emphasized that his daughter-in-law’s resignation had nothing to do with Temasek’s poor investment performance last year.
MM Lee has since backtracked on his statement, which seems to imply that our country is so devoid of talent that we need to find a foreigner to manage our own reserves — wealth that our citizens built up over the decades with sheer hard work and diligence.
In a statement issued by his press secretary, MM Lee said that Temasek Holdings has “corrected” him, and that their succession options include both Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans, both inside and outside of Temasek.