Sunday, November 23, 2008


Read in Sunday Times today that Town Councils must be accountable to their residents for what they do with the money they collect from them, said Singapore's National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan. "Each Town Councils has the duty to explain to its residents how it invests its funds, what is it philosophy, what are the risks it takes"

News emerged last week that eight of the 14 Town Councils run by the People's Action Party have invested about S$16 million in troubled structured products.

How about Temasek's more than $400 million losses in Australian childcare chain, ABC Learning in less than 2 years? How about GIC's billion dollar investment in overseas financial institutions? Invest for the long term? How long? How many more bad investment decisions? Who are these "professional" managers responsible for the deals?

I am glad to learn that former chief executive officer of NTUC Income is considering standing as Singapore's next elected president or contesting in the next general election as an independent candidate if more than 100,000 signatures and names of Singaporeans are willing to give him their support. He feels that the government has lost touch with the ground, the widening income gap and the high salaries of Government leaders.

Yes, the whole world is facing the same problem of high salaries of CEOs, senior executives and the indecent performance bonuses that drive them to take highly risky business ventures.

Temasek which manages a portfolio of S$185 billion, announced that its senior managers had volunteered to take salary cuts of 15% to 25% as part of a company-wide reduction. Civil service salaries, including those of top political leaders, would be adjusted in light of the economic turmoil, said Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

That's a good move by the government to reign in high salaries and sending a message to the private sector's fat cat CEOs, directors and senior executives. The government should do more to slow the widening income gap.

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