The problem with Tharman’s brush off explanation is that GIC and Temasek are government-controlled and its stakeholders also include us citizens, informed or otherwise on the merits of capital injections by GIC and Temasek. Hence, as stakeholders, we want a damn good explanation on what is happening with GIC and Temasek. Taking Temasek’s shrugs and GIC’s grunts as undecipherable answers to our questions on whether the investments they make are sound is now unacceptable.
Imagine that when Temasek had bought into Shin Corp and if Singaporeans raised a stinker then and probed the deal, Temasek would have brushed us off and said that we little pesky citizens should be seen and not heard. What happened to Temasek and Shin Corp since 2006 is now a great story on how lack of transparency and an eventual big foul up means tremendous lack of faith and confidence in these government-linked organisations, and our government.
Also, Inderjit Singh won’t be around for long if he continues to ask such “embarrassing” questions.
Tharman says not govt’s role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments
By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 21 January 2008 1812 hrs
SINGAPORE: It is not the government’s role to comment on or second-guess whether it was timely for the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and Temasek Holdings to make their recent investments, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said.
Responding to a question in Parliament on how GIC and Temasek Holdings had injected funds into distressed banks like UBS and Merrill Lynch, the minister said, “They make these decisions for commercial reasons based on calculations free of any influence from the government.”
“The government is assured that both GIC and Temasek have thoroughly assessed the risk in each of these investments and have made hard-headed commercial decisions after careful assessment of the risk and the prospect for returns over the long term,” he stressed.
The MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, Inderjit Singh, asked, “In July last year, Temasek invested a few billion dollars into Barclays Bank… From what I understand, these values have now gone down to half of the investment.
“Is the minister not worried that if GIC and Temasek continue with this kind of multi-billion (dollar) investments all in one sector – in the banks, this could quickly wipe out a significant portion of our reserves?”
The minister replied, “We have to leave it to them – timing, decision as to whether to invest, how to protect yourself in each investment, which GIC and Temasek have indeed done in each of these large deals…
“We do have an understanding with both GIC and Temasek as to the government’s overall risk tolerance, so this is not a situation where we are completely hands-off.” – CNA/ac
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