Friday, June 24, 2011

Behold The Independent Candidate

anon@June 22, 2011 3:18 PM wrote:
Here's a scary thought ...
Tony Tan resigns from GIC to become Elected President.
GIC and Temasek merge to become a single corporate entity to enjoy cost savings, economies of scale and a larger global footprint to project Singapore's soft power overseas.
And Ho Ching is the new CEO.

Part I is now in play, so are the rumours about the CEO of Temasek stepping down in August heralding the script for Part II?

Tony Tan was always Lee Kuan Yew's favorite choice as successor when latter decided to "step down" in 1988. "Chok Tong was not a natural politician. He was tall, gangling and awkward, and spoke English with a Hokkien accent." (LKY, "From Third World To First", page 744)

Son of a businessman, Tan was born with a silver spoon. He's the rare bird that does not need to be dignified by a minister's hefty salary package. Tony Tan is the nephew of Mr Tan Chin Tuan, philanthropist and banking pioneer who founded OCBC bank. Same guy who made DPM Teo Chee Hean's father CEO of OCBC (1989-1991).

The only hiccup in Tan's 27 year PAP political career was when he threatened to resign on the spot, upon witnessing the 1990 horror of Dhanabalan at the receiving end of an outstretched hand (read the torrid account in Ross Worthington's "Governance in Singapore", page 150). Unlike Richard Hu, whose pilfered files were the subject of the fracas, Tan left after the August 1991 election, to become the chairman and CEO of OCBC Bank. When Lee Hsien Loong was subsequently stricken with cancer, he was asked to return as Deputy Prime Minister in 1995 to "strengthen the cabinet".

Astute Singaporeans will remember Tan for citing the dubious PERC (Political and Economic Risk Consultancy) survey that said Singaporeans are more highly paid than their United States or Australian counterparts "to show why the Central Provident Fund (CPF) rates must be cut swiftly and substantially." Tan told reporters in August 1993,"We have priced our labour out of the market." That may be true of the ministers' compensation, but even the daft man in the street could easily see through the lie. In defence, PERC's CEO Robert Broadfoot (some say Bigmouth) claimed their findings were based on businessmen's perceptions, not statistical reality.

"I am running as an independent candidate," declared the former Deputy Prime Minister. "My candidacy does not have the backing of any political party." He did emphasise that he informed the chairman of GIC, which happens to be the Prime Minister, of  "my intentions to contest the elections and to resign from GIC as a matter of protocol." The PM presumably valued the candidacy of the president more highly than the chairmanship of GIC, the entity charged with getting a good return for the people's money. This has to be the odd instance when the custodian outranks the chief honcho.


  1. Yes Part I of Act II is unfolding now. Like his signature pair of spectacles that Tony Tan has donned over decades, he has put up a spectacular good show on why he shouldn't remain spectator. His left hand has been doing the investment, while his right hand-SWF (the one runs by HC) is doing the profligating. So by inserting himself in the EP role, he can finally place his steady hands to ensure left/right hands know what they're doing at his clap! So deviously silent, helping to keep it within the familee. Question is, as GIC head, he was guided by confidentiality agreement NOT to reveal. Now in the EP role, does he have the same gag-order? I suspect even without it, like his SPH holdings, he will apply serious self-censorships. Forget about knowing the true state of our reserves. A vote for TT is a vote for the familee.

  2. There's presently a big asymmetry and imbalance here where the country's reserves (ie savings of its hardworking people) lies only in the hands of a few power brokers and elites. Is this desirable to the nation's interest?
    In my view, SG does not need the old definition of Obscurity. We need a new demonstration of Transparency, before the erosion of trust accelerated beyond repair, especially after 12 years of radio silence by a SRN & within the complexity of world finance. The old ways of being accountable only to the Monarch & her 5 cousins must stop. The Axes of accountability has to be broader to be a Public Internal Accountability (including to its citizens), and not merely Private Internal one (largely to the EP & PAP) only.

  3. LOL Tony Tan is the right man, at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
    A cast of vote for him is a cast in stone - opacity and elitism!!!
    Wake up people..

  4. Never never believe that whatever Dr. Tony Tan is embarking on his close circle of associates were not consulted on or informed about his intention. It is all about politics a little white lie does no harm.

  5. Tony Tan is as independent of PAP as a newborn baby is of his mother!!?

  6. Pigs will fly if Tony Tan is not the PAP-endorsed presidential candidate. Do the people want a single political party to control all of S'pore??

  7. Haha....

    a fish independent of water.


  8. Two sticking points I have about Tony

    1) In 1993, he supported Ministers' Pay. Quote "The salaries were not exorbitant, but "in line, in fact, lower than, the salaries which are paid to senior executives in the private sector". He added that Singaporeans should not begrudge civil servants and ministers their salary revision. They should also not be hypocritical about paying these people adequately, as the revision was "our investment in the future of Singapore". Imagine how much he's paying his 52 MDs in GIC's 9 global offices today?

    2) In 2003, he said SG labour workers have gotten expensive & priced themselves out of market. Thus denying us the pay rise/productivity which led to more & cheaper labour from India/China & FTs to put spurs in our hides..while they enriched themselves.

    3) All these years GIC made a close 8-10% annual returns, but what did CPF yield us? A paltry 2.5%..who's taking the difference? You think he cares for you singaporeans?

    Somethings just don't change. A leopard with spots, and a certain hairdo from yesteryear are clear signs. Voters will repent till the day they die because they will not see their savings/CPF ever again as long as the President is Tony Tan. I would rather vote for Kenny Rogers who surely ranks among Platos as he sang in "The Gambler" - know when to walk away and know when to run.

  9. Let' strip away all the 'wise soundbites" and see it for what it is:

    - My candidacy does not have the backing of any political party and I am not seeking such backing = I am rich enough to back myself with press corp to campaign, & the entire SPH is on my back. But mostly, I have to watch my back in case a questioning new EP will start to discover & finger-point my master works in GIC.

    - I probably know as much about the management of the reserves as anyone in Singapore. This could be an advantage in the President exercising his custodial responsibility with regards to looking after the reserves = I mean, how do you prove a negative when I'm the one who hid the weapons only I could find?

    - "This is the right time for me to come forward ... to present myself as a candidate." = This is the right time to be an EP as I only have to answer to myself for my previous results.

    - it is my responsibility to step forward and to try, I could not "remain a spectator while Singapore faces complex challenges = Do you think Alan Greenspan was a brilliant chairman of the FEDReserve or just a lucky one? Remember what happens after the crisis in 2008? He was never exonerated because he was complicit in many ways with wall st/govt. That can't happen to me..

  10. maybe that's why he decides to leave GIC now that LHL has inserted himself as chairman. In case another slapping incident over his "conservative" returns, better quit first. Then pave the way for HC to become the "risk-taking" one. But where does all these monies made go to, is anyone guess. It sure hell is not trickling down to our CPF or pockets.
    Also, TT is a cold rational mathematician/banker, despite his smiling and gentle demeanor. Anyone who knows history, will know that he'd basically outcasted all the handicapped/disadvantaged children when MOE was at his charge. Why do we think he has compassion for the peasants/people? He's lived a privilege life in his Ivory tower for too long.

  11. Hey people,

    How come all so cynical? MIW are the goooood guys, they wear white don't they? They also tell the entire universe (yeah, including ETs) what a clean government they are, etc.

  12. You must read a book edited by Michael Haas: The Singapore Puzzle. Not sure if this book is banned in Singapore because it tells the story that PAP government does not want to hear.

    The book predicted the decline of PAP Singapore. You would see some predictions are coming more and more real. Basically, a repressive nation with heavy emphasis on economy growth only may collapse for economic reasons. Also, more educated middle-class will likely be the group to push for democratization. GE2011 shows some signs that prove the prediction. Hope Michael Haas could revise or rewrite the book taking into the current signs and information.

  13. anon 5.52pm - real daft or what>
    haven't u learnt the collapse lessons from (1) bernie madoff (2) lehman brothers (3) Enron (4) iceland (5) greece? dont' tell me they dont' have smartest ass ivy league elites/people who don't know best? they all fail because of one BIG common traits - lack of transparency & accountability. When the know-it-all groupthink sets in, you think you are impregnable or infallible...history always repeat. Look under the hood even when things are good, or even better, look under the hood when are things are unbelievably too good to be true!!!

  14. ahh..once upon a time, I had wished TT will be our PM. But that didn't happen. Now time has moved on, and lots have changed. To run for President now, is too little too late. We want more transparency and accountability. Although I suspect many people who are nostalgic about the good old PAP days/leaders might like this clever move by MIW, but will eventually be disappointed. A false security.

  15. Here's the scariest thought ...

    You had a Madoff running the country’s reserve. Now you put Madoff in charge to protect the country’s reserve.

    Madoff got away for so long because he colluded with his accountant. If GIC were a fraud, you surely don’t want the GIC head to be the auditor! Tony Tan is a smart person and he should know this fundamental principle of corporate transparency and accountability.

  16. How can we trust someone who during PAP's good times, associate himself with PAP and even sue political opponents with his PAP colleagues.
    Now PAP is seen as not so popular, he ditch PAP and wants the world to think that he cuts all with PAP.

  17. Whatever GE or PE, my vote will go to those are not ex-PAP, pro-PAP, or PAP-related. The simple rationale is that we have yet a complete accountable and transparent government for the good future of Singapore. Current Singapore is not sustainable as a nation.

    Yes, Anon June 24, 2011 6:02 PM, Singaporeans should read that book edited by Michael Haas. It tells the other side of the Singapore story. It is an eye-opening for those who have blindly and daftly supported the regime for the past. I have been PAP supporter till late 1980s after seeing through the surface and have exposed to the other side of the story. I found many unanswered and unjustified issues in this red dot and most ordinary Singaporeans are daft and not informed. Basically, we are living in a dark age though on the surface everything seems very good. The change will come as predicted by Michael Haas' book. Believe it or not. No one can stop the wheel of history turning.

  18. //Whatever GE or PE, my vote will go to those are not ex-PAP, pro-PAP, or PAP-related. //

    there' no such candidate leh..all is a matter of shades of grey. I'm thinking not to dignify the presidential role by spoiling my vote. what for right? is all puppet. where on earth in other country where president must have $m mgtment experience, when lky himself said u don't need to be an accountant to be one!!! farce farce farce. fed up with all these wayang to con the people. vote for merlion or yamahmee!!!

  19. For Anon @ June 24, 2011 6:02 PM:

    If anyone is interested, the Michael Haas book is available (for reference only) at the National Library