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Tan Kin Lian: Singapore is Not “Free of Corruption


Former presidential candidate and NTUC income chief Tan Kin Lian apparently doesn’t believe that Singapore is corruption-free, despite the nation being recognised internationally for it near-spotless reputation.

Commenting on his blog, Mr Tan recounted a conversation with a friend who discussed the issue of corruption in Singapore with him.

Mr Tan mentioned Singapore isn’t “free of corruption” and raised the issue of Temasek Holdings’ business practices.

This is what Mr Tan had to say:

“A friend from Myanmar asked me to explain how Singapore to level of corruption in Singapore. He believed that Singapore sets a high standard in being “free of corruption”.

I said that the practice in Singapore is not “free of corruption”.

Temasek Holdings is run by the wife of the Prime Minister. She is the CEO. Some people asked if she is the right person who has the business and management know-how to run such a large group of companies. I do not recall anyone giving a convincing answer.

The directors fees and the remuneration of the CEO of Temasek Holdings are not disclosed. Some people speculated that the CEO could be receiving several tens of millions in remuneration a year. But, the public does not know.

Friend – Is Temasek a public company? Are they required to disclose the remuneration of their top people?

TKL – It is technically a private company and is not required to disclose these information. However, it is wholly owned by the Government and is, in reality, a public company. All the citizens of Singapore should have the right to know how much the directors and CEO of Temasek are being paid.

Friend – I find this very strange. Perhaps it was embarrassing for them to disclose the actual remuneration, which must be extremely high. A better approach is to pay the CEO  a “reasonable salary” and to have it disclosed to the public.

My Myanmar friend was visibly surprised. Coming from a country that had a high level of corruption in the past, he had expected a high standard of transparency and meritocracy to be practiced in Singapore. He did not expect to hear about the practices that I have described.”


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