Mother Goose Stories

Did you notice that the ST is trying to intervene in the AWARE saga? They are now centering their attention that DBS publicly disapproves of DBS Vice-President Josie Lau taking over the helms at AWARE. Today however, takes a more oblique inquisitive stance and questions the motivation of DBS’ double-standards distancing from the new AWARE president.

Factions are forming – the old AWARE exco, the gays, ST and DBS on one side, while the new AWARE exco seems stumped and swamped by the insidious rumour-mongering of its anti-gayness. Rumours are quickly becoming truth, encouraged by people who invested in the old AWARE and realised that they are now cut-off and cannot rely on AWARE support possibly because the new guard is in-charged now. Hell has no fury like a woman scorned. The new AWARE exco is getting a front row experience on that idiom.

What’s good for the goose …
Isn’t for the gander? DBS has other multi-taskers too, besides Aware’s president

Friday April 17, 2009
Conrad Raj
editor-at-large | conrad@mediacorp.com.sg

ONE might wonder if there is more than meets the eye, in DBS Bank’s disapproval of Ms Josie Lau Meng Lee’s appointment as president of Aware.

The bank said on Wednesday that although it supported her involvement in Aware as a council member in her own personal capacity, it was “not supportive” of her running for presidency of the women’s advocacy group.

“We believe that as a VP (vice-president) in DBS, she already has a challenging job with many responsibilities and the role of president would demand too much of her time and energy,” the bank said in a media statement.

If it is the case that Ms Lau’s new post at Aware would take up too much of her time, then what about the various external groups that the bank’s senior management are involved in?

Mr Koh Boon Hwee already has a full time job as executive director of MediaRing. Yet he chairs DBS Holdings, since the late chief executive Richard Stanley became ill with cancer, where he has been involved in the daily running of Singapore’s largest commercial bank.

Furthermore, Mr Koh is a director of Sunningdale Tech, chairman of the Board of Trustees at Nanyang Technological University, a director at Temasek Holdings, and on the boards of Agilent Technologies and the Hewlett Foundation. Is that not more onerous than being a VP of DBS’ credit card division and president of Aware?

Mr Koh is not the only one multi-tasking at the bank; most of its other directors sit on other boards besides having full-time jobs.

Take Dr Bart Broadman, 47, for example. He is not only managing director of Singapore-based Alphadyne Asset Management which he founded, but is also a board member of the Central Provident Fund Board, serving on its Investment Committee; as well as vice-chairman of the Board of Governors at the Singapore American School.

Board member Kwa Chong Seng, 62, is not only chairman and managing director of oil giant ExxonMobil Asia Pacific and the lead manager of the company’s subsidiaries in Singapore, but also deputy chairman of Temasek Holdings, a director of Sinopec SenMei (Fujian) Petroleum Company and a member of the Public Service and Legal Service commissions.

Mr Wong Ngit Liong, 67, is not only a member of DBS’ Board and its Audit committee, the Nominating and Compensation committee and the Management Development committee — but also runs one of the biggest contract manufacturing plants in Singapore, the Venture Group of companies. He is also chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees and a member of the Research Innovation and Enterprise Council.

All this aside, several of Singapore’s Ministers and top civil servants hold more than one portfolio. In fact, many permanent secretaries sit on various boards of statutory boards and private companies, besides running their respective ministries.

Yet, Ms Lau is considered not capable of handling the presidency of Aware and her job at DBS. Is the bank that demanding an employer? Also, she was given approval to be a council member but not take on the higher-profile appointment at Aware: One would have thought, it would be a feather in DBS’ cap to have a staff member gaining the presidency of a prominent organisation.

In any case, DBS should be judgingMs Lau on her performance at the bank. If she is not able to perform adequately as a VP, there are various measures the bank can take to improve her performance, including cutting her bonus or stagnating her pay.

Unless there are other factors at play here?

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The Lying Foreign Media!

Well, all media anywhere in the world have an agenda and political compass eg. Fox (Neo-Con), Washington Post (Liberal), The Independent in the UK (Left) . Nonetheless, this report about the Burmese junta complaining about the plot of the Western media to criticise Burma sounds like what our own PAP leaders might say about FEER, AWSJ or The Economist at one point or another. I don’t doubt that the New Light of Myanmar has something to say in support of the junta on this. It is a given that local eg. Straits Times, and international media eg. AWSJ, try to advocate a certain cause or issue and pontificate it as objective journalism.  The challenge and fun for the audience is to see through and understand the rationale behind these biasness.

April 5, 2009
Foreign media spread lies

YANGON – A SENIOR figure in Myanmar’s military regime has accused foreign media of spreading lies to undermine national unity, a state-controlled newspaper said on Sunday.

Adjutant Gen. Thura Myint Aung said powerful countries use their media to ‘disseminate fabricated news reports,’ the Myanmar Ahlin Daily newspaper reported.

‘Some countries … are using the media as a weapon to weaken unity, to disrupt stability and to deceive the international community,’ it quoted Myint Aung as saying in a speech Saturday marking the 14th anniversary of state-run Myawaddy Television.

He stressed the need for state media to counter foreign reports and urged the staff of Myawaddy to be ‘loyal to the country.’ He did not single out any country or media outlet in his criticism.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, tolerates little dissent, and all major media are controlled by the state.

Some citizens therefore depend on radio broadcasts from abroad to get much of their news. Although listening to foreign stations is not illegal, it’s frowned upon by the regime as a defiant gesture.

Last year, the government accused foreign media of distortions in their coverage of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar on May 2-3 and left nearly 140,000 people dead or missing.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962. The current junta – formally known as the State Peace and Development Council – seized power in 1988. It called elections in 1990, but when opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won by a landslide, the military refused to hand over power.

Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the last 19 years under house arrest. — Ap