Monday, January 6, 2014

Can't Take It With You

On Saturday, January 4, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) welcomed the move of Singapore's Court of Appeals to grant Philippine National Bank (PNB) legal title to former President Ferdinand Marcos' Swiss funds. For 10 long years the $30.1 million deposit was sitting in the local branch of German bank WestLB, comprising US$16.8 million (S$21.3 million) and £4.2 million (S$8.8 million).

The money is part of what the Philippine Supreme Court declared in 2003 as Marcos' Swiss ill-gotten funds. “The PCGG views the Singapore decision in a positive light," PCGG chairman Andres Bautista said, sounding more like an understatement than celebration. The court affirmed Singapore High Court ruling that the PNB held the legal title to the funds as depositor of the money as well as original account holder with WestLB. Led by Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justices Belinda Ang and Woo Bih Li, the decision effectively junked the claims of the Philippine government, at least five of Marcos' foundations set up to hold the money in Swiss banks, as well as 9,539 human rights victims under the Marcos regime.

The late Indonesian tycoon Liem Sioe Liong, one of Southeast Asia's richest men, must have also left a sizeable financial footprint in Singapore when he passed on in June 2012. Liem had been living here since 1998 after moving to Singapore in the wake of anti-Chinese riots that hit Indonesia.  Located in Katong, his house sits on a massive 86,000 sq ft site that was purchased in 1970 and currently valued at approximately $100 million.

Liem reputedly prospered through his close relationship with Suharto, the autocratic president who ruled Indonesia from 1966 until 1998. As one of a number of ethnic Chinese tycoons who made fortunes because of their links to Suharto, he was an obvious target of visceral anti-Chinese sentiment that the corrupt president stoked and sometimes allowed to boil over into violence. When his Bank Central Asia (BCA) collapsed during the Asian financial crisis, panicked depositors rushed to pull their money out of BCA in May 1998 and a mob ransacked one of his Indonesian homes.

Liem's family is worth around $3.6 billion, according to a Forbes estimate, or $8.5 billion, according to calculations by Indonesian business magazine Globe Asia. It was a shock to stumble across his final resting place at the Chinese Cemetery in Choa Chu Kang, sharing the same exact plot size as any average HDB dweller.

17 comments:

  1. Hahaha... I wonder where would LKY's final resting place be? Indonesia?

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    1. The dead centre of Singapore,no?

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    2. As a tribute to LKY, the Istana will be reconstructed to match the famous Yasukuni shrine in Japan, and people such as TonyTan, GohCT, LHL, etc, who have contributed significantly to rendering true blue singaporeans to become the minority deserve to be at this final resting place . LOL

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    3. ...and a thousand statues installed throughout the island. Sweet.

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    4. How about the Japanese shrine the Abe visited, for services rendered during WW II ?

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  2. In the day and age where everyone, including those pioneers buried at Bt Brown do even have a resting place soon, how on earth does a rich foreigner like him get to buy a plot ratio so big on a land for his soul here?

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    1. I believe it was Liem's foresight to have a big plot.
      He had thought about his pal, Lee Con You, who might decide to drop by and stay with him. And of course there is ample room for the famiLee members as well.

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    2. I think you have misinterpreted Tattler's remark. I understood him as saying what an irony that LSL's grave is as small and non-descript as the size of the grave of any average HDB dweller!
      Tattler, am I correct?

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    3. @anon 1.14pm. You have interpreted tattler correctly.
      There may come a time this plot will not even be available for LSL and his ashes will be kept in some cabinet or returned to Indonesia along with the ill gotten wealth.

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    4. I concur with @anon 1.14, but Tattler is not quite correct. Nowadays, even HDB dwellers cannot afford a tomb but have to be cremated and placed in pigeon holes at the columbarium. HDB when alive, HDB again when dead. Sad live.

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  3. When the old fart goes, he will leave his legacy behind. Already some of his ball carriers are suggesting that the airport or stadium be named after him. Unknown to them is that the old fart may want to rename Singapore (Lion City) to Old Fart City and call himself the Lion of Old Fart City.


    Saycheese

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  4. Is it likely Salim agreed to a simple plot with the masses? Hard to say, his last years, and these were well before the riots in 1998, were spent away from limelight, he could have attained enlightenment of some sort and given orders for simple burial. On the other hand, we know for sure who has doggedly refused to go quietly, even when speech or clarity of mind have deserted him.

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  5. Rich or poor. When dead, same same. The earth or fire will reduce you to nothing. The riches are not your to keep but the generations after you. No matter how mighty you were, the little virus will triump over you, eventually!!

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  6. Leaving a name behind for posterity does not always mean a good thing.
    Those that are remembered longer in history were tyrants, scums and evil folks.
    In Sin, there are some that deserve to be remembered for at least a few generations.
    As for the burial ground, it does not matter, in it is the same for everyone. Ash to ash and dust to dust, death levels all. It is just a question if the Name stinks.

    patriot

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  7. The truth is they abolished estate duty in 2008, so the rich get to keep it in the family even if they kick the bucket. One of the first few to benefit from this was the old fart. Wonder why we have so many millionairs/billionaires come here to live it up, and die here? It's not because of the size of their burial plots! This was what Shanmugaratnam said:

    ‘If we make Singapore an attractive place for wealth to be invested and built up, whether by Singaporeans or foreigners who bring their assets here, it will benefit our whole economy and society, not just the individuals who build up their wealth. It is not a zero sum game.’

    He encouraged individuals who have accumulated wealth to think of how they can use it to make a contribution to society, and make full use of the enhanced incentives introduced last year to promote philanthropy.

    http://blog.simplyjean.com/2008/02/15/estate-duty-to-be-abolished-in-singapore/

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  8. 1970s saw them arriving in the LionCity. LSL was not jailed in Indonesia like others and some dared not return since they would promptly be put in jails. The late Joseph Gondobintoro was jailed before moving to LionCity; he owned rubber plantations in Ivory Coast and some companies GMG, Panwell etc.

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  9. Great information! Singapore is one of the few first-world countries in Asia, with a highly efficient infrastructure, free market economy, a stable socio-political environment, an attractive tax regime and per capita income among the top five nations in the world.
    how to set up a company in singapore

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