Thursday, January 7, 2016

Business: Heads I win; Tails you lose

Business leaders here have shown their true colors once more with the most selfish proposals before Finance Minster Heng Swee Keat. Kudos to George Huang and many other who saw through this quickly. Really reflect badly on the captains of business here. They are quick to ask for help and get others to do the work for them. I don't wish to but often business is either our enemy or most times friendly enemy.

Their proposal basically creates a situation which they enjoy all the upside with no downside which the people will have to carry. If the government is stupid to agree to these proposals they will bear the political cost at some point. Dealing with business is not about trust but leverage often in a combination of carrot and stick. They never cared for Singapore, only their short term interests. If they ran out of luck they will come crying for help. If you tell them to restructure they threaten to decamp to another country or more likely roll over and die. There are exceptions but they are the minority. Most of them are SMEs who are in business beyond the profit motive. No listed company is in this category and Alan Chan from SPH was stupid enough to allow his name to be used in the story. Imagine had SMRT been a non-listed entity, it would have paid more attention to maintenance, but it was run for profit maximization and the short term. They were right to assume that the buck would stops with the government when push come to shove. Tax payers will assume the tab to restore the system after management and shareholders have gutted it.

Just as we cannot have government like elsewhere, we cannot allow business here to be like everywhere else too. It will work against our interests for long term growth and survival. This comes across as idealistic and impractical but sadly we do not have a choice if we want to secure our future. In other words in many companies we have placed the wrong people at the top.

Update: Jan 8 9:55am

I just read BT on this debate. I happen to be reading Vox before I decided to update this post.

Quoting Vox because they made it so clear,

The Chinese political system is full of political and economic elites who have a vested interest in keeping the status quo and not changing the economy. For example, China's energy sector is dominated by three major oligopolies, which have used their political connections to block reforms designed to introduce competition (and thus fuel growth) in the field.

Now comparing with what BT printed, quoting them,

Esmond Choo, a senior director at broker UOB Kay Hian, said that the SBF recommendations are timely as Singapore Exchange (SGX) has been under pressure from regional competitors for years. The proposal to use pension monies to invest locally will professionalise retirement investing and strengthen local fund management capabilities, he said.

I hope lots of readers realize Mr. Choo was just talking his own book for his own narrow business interest. Fortunately BT always better than ST reporting on such issues sought the opinion of many more fair minded experts.

Similarly, David Gerald, president and CEO of investor lobby group Securities Investors Association of Singapore (Sias), said that GIC should not be restricted to only local markets when investing CPF monies. CPF members will want good returns, and GIC will naturally want to diversify, he said. "Let them go for local investments that match overseas investments' returns," Mr Gerald added

Come on when anyone wants you to do something good for him but not you they never tell you the real reason. This is as old as Adam and Eve when the Serpent sold Eve the idea of eating that forbidden fruit with half true promises. The problem is not blatant and obvious lies. It is always the partly true that is the problem. Buy Esmond Choo and the CEOs argument to your peril. Remember CEOs are generously rewarded when the stock price is high. When we have only ordinary people in charge, structure always breed behavior.


  1. when businesses call for that, the retail investors can expect to be roasted

  2. Becos mr Heng look like innocent kiddo. So they want to see how far can bully. Mr Heng if u got balls, show them who is the boss.