Friday, August 28, 2009

How Sophistic Can Temasek Be?

"You can bluff some of the people some of the time". This famous saying was made by the late renowned American President Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century and it is still axiomatic in the 21st century Singapore.

Temasek, or rather Ms Ho Ching, hid behind a sophistic phrase "unresolved strategic differences" to make the bombshell announcement of the sudden departure of the CEO-designate Mr. Charles Goodyear. Since the enigmatic announcement there have been massive clamours from the disillusioned public for Temasek or Ms Ho Ching to enlighten them on the real reason for Mr. Goodyear's departure. Ms Ho Ching cannot be so naive as to expect the discerning public to be so easily taken in by such sophistry.

Temasek spent two years since 2007 wooing Mr. Charles Goodyear who was interviewed by board members individually and as a group. Are we asked to believe that the board members, individually and as a group, showed such ineptitude that they could not detect any prospective "strategic differences" or any similar flaw in the prospective CEO? This is what the public would like to be enlightened on. Indeed, there is a plethora of requests for such enlightenment from netizens which Temasek could not have been so ignorant as to be unaware of. Maybe their most expedient attitude is to ignore such clamours in the hope that they will blow over in course of time.

Are these really "unresoved strategic differences" as such between Ms Ho Ching and Mr. Charles Goodyear? When did Ms Ho Ching discover these differences to be so fundamental that they cannot be resolved? Or could it not boil down to the fact that it gradually became dawn on Ms Ho Ching that Mr. Goodyear was not a malleable character much to her chagrin. In short, Mr. Goodyear was found to be a maverick. Worst still, he appeared to all intents and purposes to be going to throw a spanner in the works when he assumes complete control of Temasek. No doubt this discovery had appalled Ms Ho Ching and the Temasek Board and, amidst the frantic scrambling for a face-saving solution, a drastic action had to be taken which necessitated the giving of a golden hand-shake to a disconcerted Mr. Goodyear. This was where politics came into play. To preserve a semblance of goodwill on both sides, the parting was euphemistically described as mutual and the phrase "unresolved strategic differences" was coined to give the comic opera a veneer of respectability. The truth of the matter will eventually appear on the grapevine but may take some time.

In the meantime Ms Ho Ching will continue to reign as Temasek queen which public talks have predicted as her ambition. The disenchanted public will be watching with bated breath to see if there will be any further disastrous financial losses under her diffident stewardship, her recent so-called honour as the world's fifth most powerful woman notwithstanding.

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