Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What's Going On Between Temasek and the Ministry of Finance?

Just one and a half weeks ago (March 22, 2008), it was reported in the news that Temasek Holdings was saying that it was not a sovereign wealth fund.

TEMASEK Holdings said that it is not affected by an agreement by Singapore, Abu Dhabi and the United States on principles to increase the transparency of sovereign wealth funds. 'Temasek is not a sovereign wealth fund,' its spokesman Mark Lee said in a telephone interview yesterday. 'Temasek has to sell assets to raise cash for new investments and doesn't require the government to give approvals.'

And then, today (1 Apr 08), the Ministry of Finance goes on the record saying, hey, actually what Temasek said about themselves is not true, the rules apply to Temasek as well:

THE Ministry of Finance yesterday said that Temasek Holdings should abide by guidelines for sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) that were unveiled just over a week ago.

It said that as Temasek is wholly owned by the Government, the 'policy principles' it helped craft with counterparts from Abu Dhabi and the United States are relevant for the local investment company.

Whooopsy...!! What's going on here???

Now, not only does Temasek invest "purely on commercial principles," it doesn't even clarify its status with our Ministry of Finance before making an official statement to the press!

What do we have here? A Rogue Sovereign Wealth Fund which makes up its own rules ahead of the Government and without its owner's approval??

Now we really understand why we get headlines like "Temasek says investments in U.S. not influenced by Singapore Government" - Temasek makes its own rules in the absence of a proper system of checks and balances.

This issue is not just a matter of definitions, semantics and of whether Temasek is an SWF... indeed these recent events suggest that Temasek is a corporate entity that is able to determine its principles of corporate governance ahead of and without the approval of its sole shareholder, the Ministry of Finance.

This has implications that go far beyond standards of disclosure into the realm of issues such as the investment mandate and decision making process that Temasek uses to decide on its investments.

This is very disturbing and I have written a letter to the press about this issue.


Anonymous said...

Obviously our Singapore Gahmen tried to salvage the situation by correcting its own blunder because they know that they cannot bluff their way through ie. escape the scrutiny of foreign governments like US/Europe.

It is just unfortunate that we Singaporeans have put in charge a Gahmen who appears to be so secretive about how our reserves are being utilised that NOBODY can say for sure whether there has been any abuse like what is happening to corrupt govertments in Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, etc.

Anonymous said...

I thought this is obvious.

GIC is headed by MM. MOF by PM until recently. Tem by HC. Tharman is new. Go figure......

feedmetothefish said...

At times like this, I love being a Singaporean. LOL!

Since when does the familee and the msm cock up like this?

Lately, quite often. LOL

This is what we get when the honcho is the son, the top honcho is the father, the in-between is the wood and the wife of honcho is the honcho of Temasek.

Shame, shame, shame . . .

Anonymous said...

Well, as explained by them(the Government and GIC), everything seems leegalised and leegitimate!


Anonymous said...

Oops, patriot hereby makes a correction.
In bracket(the Government and GIC) should be (the Government and Temasek).
My sincere apology.