Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sermon on the Mount

There is a Chinese saying that if you do not open your big mouth, nobody will say you are dumb. Ms Ho Ching has finally opened her big mouth ostensibly on the Temasek debacle, but not quite. She started off with a red herring, quite rightly because of the public wrath, to divert Singaporeans from the real issue by offering so-called co-investors a stake in Temasek Holdings. Just like the slick operator she is, she either deliberately or absent-mindedly left out the details. And what are Singaporeans to make of this seemingly castle in the air?

This was an excellent opportunity for Ms Ho Ching to transcend her egregious persona and to show, even for a fleeting moment, the persona of an upfront Temasek CEO to explain the reason behind the abrupt departure of the CEO-designate Mr. Charles Goodyear instead of hiding behind the terse stereotyped "unresolved strategic differences". Instead of redeeming herself from disastrous track record of recent colossal losses of Temasek's assets, she glossed over the real issue to digress with the entertainment of bombastic salesmanship.

Can Ms Ho Ching blame Singaporeans for speculation when she is uncommunicative on the reason behind the sudden departure of Mr. Charles Goodyear? The public has a right to know and Ms Ho Ching has a moral responsibility to disclose. How long is she going to keep this charade under wrap is what the public wants to know. Like a closely-sealed hen egg which can hatch into a chick (a Chinese saying), whatever secret will eventually appear on the grapevine.

Whether this whole episode is a masquerade to allow Ms Ho Ching to perpetuate in her pet appointment as Temasek CEO is a moot point. One has only to listen to coffee shop talks to follow this trend of opinions. Be that as it may, Ms Ho Ching has now to shed her past inept persona and show more astuteness in making financial investments of Temasek. Her track record in this respect could hardly stand up to scrutiny.

Temasek may not be a government entity but is nevertheless a government-owned company.So any substantial financial losses in injudicious investments involve taxpayers' money and must be answerable to the public. But so far this has not been the norm and Temasek seems to be a law unto itself.

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