Thursday, December 1, 2011

Life Outside The Cabinet

John Swire & Sons (South-east Asia) has appointed former Transport Minister Raymond Lim as a senior adviser to "provide both focus and expertise to efforts to develop and broaden the range of investments in the region." Little is known of the charter of the Swire Group entity which was incorporated only in August.

Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) is the more well known local unit in the London based Swire Group, owner and operator of an extensive fleet of 75 offshore supply vessels (PSVs, AHTS) to support the oil and gas industry, including drilling, production, exploration, pipe-lay, subsea construction and FPSO operations. Lim was in finance before politics, one of the managing directors of Temasek Holdings and chief executive of DBS Vickers Securities. In a statement Lim said "I look forward to helping it grow in the region," presumably not in the land-based transportation industry.

The big question in everybody's mind is whether he is getting anything close to his former ministerial million dollar paycheck. In "Lee Kuan Yew, The Man And His Ideas" (Straits Times Press,1998), Lee himself said, "There's no way a prime minister can argue that any any minister can walk out of his cabinet and get this kind of salary." Not unless Swire pays its advisers big bucks. Fraser and Neave did. Lee Hsien Yang received $1 million as a business consultant after departing from Singtel, never mind if he had zero experience in food and beverage or property development.

It's interesting to note that nearly all the ministers who lost their appointments after May 7 have yet to get a "real job". After landing a Senior Advisor appointment with Malaysian conglomerate Kuok Brothers, George Yeo curiously labelled it as ""an informal arrangement." He added, " I'll join (the) private sector next year, " which makes one wonder what an adviser does for a living. Lim Hwee Hua seems more prolific in collecting "informal arrangements" (whatever Yeo means by that term), as senior advisor to global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) in addition to being appointed as a non-executive director at Jardine Cycle & Carriage. A recent update to her resume is an appointment as an independent non-executive director on Ernst & Young's Global Advisory Council (GAC). At least she's collecting all these stuff while she's out of the cabinet. Recall former PAP MP Dr Wang Kai Yuen, with 11 directorships under his belt, who used to lament that "some of the companies pay me as little as $10,000".


  1. Why worry about their ability to perform? Just like what happened in our neighbouring countries, it is the connection that is of value to these companies. If I were a businessman, I would love to have an ex President to work for me. He does not need to work at all. Just link me to the right source.

  2. We are all living in the knowledge economy. In this case it's know-who not know-how.

  3. Hey....LHL got the job after Temasek invested in F&N.

    Try doing it in not related GLC companies.

  4. Right!
    Go under the skin and you would discover all these 'advisory' posts are in govt/glc related companies.

    For all you know, there is an agreement made to pay all ex-govt 'advisors' from the dividend of the govt/glc's stakes in the companies. That is, you and I are possibly paying for it!?

  5. In reviewing the MPs salaries, Gerard Ee should reveal what % of the stock options by the various GLC are also given out as part of the compensation to Ministers who meet those KPIs. It will tell you why someone like LTA & Lui Tuck Yew has every interests to see profitability over people in matters relating to SMRT. Is one big ponzi scheme. They make money out from the people, and add to their own coffers.


    Simple lah. Life outside of Cabinets is all about bringing the rich and famous to singapore, paving for more billionaires so that 'anything they can dream, they can built' for the foreigners. Poor Singaporeans can only dream about a pigeon-size scaled down HDB hole spreading over 30years debt loan. Way to go..more playground for the rich.

  7. An interesting thing happened in 2001. That was the year that auditors were prohibited from doing other consulting work for their corporate audit clients. In the case of Lehman Brothers and Ernst & Young, that event seemed to have just the opposite effect in that the auditor’s fees skyrocketed. From 1999 to 2007, the last year auditor fee data was reported to Lehman’s shareholders, Ernst & Young’s fees increased 7 fold from $5.3 million to more than $31 million. The dramatic climb in E&Y’s fees for the 9-year period suggests that, in terms of fees collected from it’s client, the risk of “not biting the hand that feeds you” increased dramatically. Okay, looks like the culture mix is just right for Lim.

  8. The informal arrangements are apt for they are only capable in advisoral appointments. Execution sucks. Even the employers know to what extent they can be tapped on. Just some insider knowledge and network

  9. Quote, " ...A recent update to her resume is an appointment as an independent non-executive director on Ernst & Young's Global Advisory Council (GAC)..."

    Remember our Kate Spake MP who parachuted into parliament is also from the same company. This makes one image what sort of links between this company and the government. Accountability and transparency is a key issue in this red dot indeed.