Why it might be difficult for the government to withdraw from business

 

BY Tan Boon Seng

February 10, 2002

Some corrections:
To check go to http://www.sgdi.gov.sg/
[1] Prof Wee Chow Hou is no more Dean of Business Administration in National University of Singapore. He's now a Professor at the Nanyang Business School, NTU.
[2] LTC Fong Choon Khin is an LTC (NS)
[3] Tan Eng Bock has retired from the force
[4] Dr N Varaprasad is in NUS and havinrg a seat on the board called Health Promotion Board.

Singapore Window obtained this documentation. As far as we know, the information is correct.
IF readers know of any inaccuracies please contact the webmaster.

 

GOVERNMENT-LINKED companies (GLCs) appear to be playing a bigger role in the Singapore economy than ever before. With Singapore experiencing possibly its worst economic downturn since independence, the government is re-examining its economic policies. The government’s deepening and broadening involvement in private enterprise is among the policies being scrutinized by the government’s Economic Review Committee. Some officials hint at a reversal of this practice but others appear to disagree.

A closer look at the issue suggests that reversing this policy is difficult. The government’s withdrawal from business could hurt the employment, income and ownership interests of people closely connected to it –

1)      relatives of senior government leaders,

2)      former senior government officials,

3)      former senior military commanders,

4)      current senior government officials, and

5)      current and former ruling party politicians. The outcome may also hurt the government’s efforts to co-opt its politicians from the private sector.

 

The Policy Debate

 

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Raymond Lim in November said that the government might in future do less of  “leading from the front”. He also suggested the possibility of introducing competition law to address the dominance of GLCs. Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, in December said that: “What really matters for East Asia is a shift towards open, competitive markets, and away from the state-driven industrial policies and the collusive domestic networks that have led to low returns on investment.”

 

However, Deputy Prime Minister Brigadier-General Lee Hsien Loong, who is heading the Economic Review Committee, has clarified the extent to which the government will withdraw from business. He said GLCs would continue to be “one of the thrusts forward” for the Singapore economy. His wife, Mdm Ho Ching, who is Director of Temasek Holdings and Deputy Chairman of Singapore Technologies, has shared her dream for Singapore Technologies to become a “global champion”, “to make the seemingly impossible, a reality”. Mr S Dhanabalan, Chairman of Temasek Holdings, has also made it clear that the government will not withdraw from businesses it deems it to have a “strategic” interest in. Mr Dhanabalan said the government also intends to be involved in businesses of a high-risk nature. These remarks were made even before the committee’s work had begun.

The Interests of People Closely Connected To The government

1) Relatives of senior government leaders

That the government seems reluctant to withdraw from enterprise could be complicated by its potential effect on the interests of people closely connected to the government. DPM Lee and his father Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew are at the helm of GIC, possibly Singapore’s largest GLC in terms of assets. DPM Lee’s wife, brother, and a few other relatives are also holding key positions in GLCs. While the situation is presumably a coincidental outcome of free market meritocracy, it could be a source of constrain as DPM Lee considers how to revive private enterprise in Singapore. The following table illustrates the situation:

Family Members Relationship To DPM Lee Present GLC Post
Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong   Deputy Chairman of GIC
Mdm Ho Ching Wife Chairman of Chartered Semiconductor, ST Engineering, ST Capital, StarHub, Deputy Chairman of Singapore Technologies, and Director of Temasek Holdings and SembCorp Industries (Singapore Technologies unit)
Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew Father Chairman of GIC
Brigadier-General Lee Hsien Yang Brother Chief Executive of SingTel Group and SESAMi Inc (SingTel unit), and Director of Singapore Technologies Industrial Corporation and National Computer Systems (SingTel unit)
Colonel (Dr) Kwa Soon Bee Uncle (Mother’s Brother) Managing Director of Jurong Bird Park, Chairman of Wildlife Reserves Singapore and Director of Keppel Land
Mr Edmund Lee Cousin (Father’s Brother’s Son) Chief Executive of DBS Vickers (DBS and Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Kwa Chong Seng Cousin (Mother’s Brother’s Son) Deputy Chairman of Temasek Holdings (Ministry of Finance unit)
Mr Ho Sing Brother-In-Law (Wife’s Brother) Vice President of Singapore Precision Industries 2000 (Singapore Technologies unit) and Director of Advanced Materials Technologies (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mrs Lee Suet Fern Sister-In-Law (Brother’s Wife) Director of SembCorp Logistics
Ms Lim Suet Boey Sister-In-Law’s Sister (Brother’s Wife’s Sister) Senior Vice President of SembCorp Utilities

In addition to the above list of DPM Lee’s relatives, there’s also Dr Lim Suet Wun, his sister-in-law’s brother, who is Chief Executive of Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The “restructured” hospital remains a government department. But as one of Singapore’s largest hospital, it competes with the private sector in providing health care services. DPM Lee and his father are not remunerated for their leadership of GIC. However, several of their relatives are senior managers of GLCs, who are receiving not only salaries and bonuses but also stocks and stock options in the companies. For example, DPM Lee’s wife Mdm Ho Ching owned 60,000 Chartered Semiconductor shares, 240,000 Chartered Semiconductor share options, 35,000 ST Assembly shares, 100,000 SembCorp Industries share options, and 50,000 Singapore Food Industries shares, among other interests in GLCs as of year-end 2000. And DPM Lee’s brother Brigadier-General Lee Hsien Yang owned 2,120,000 SingTel share options as of March 2001.

2) Former senior government officials

Though not an explicit policy, it has become an institution of sorts that senior government officials in Singapore move on to hold key posts in GLCs after their service in government. Former ministers in the PAP government are at least close political allies of Deputy Prime Minister Lee and his father, while former senior civil servants are trusted appointees of the government. The following table lists a number of such people:

Former government Official Former Government Post Present GLC Post
Mr Lim Kim San Minister for Defence Executive Chairman of Singapore Press Holdings
Mr S Dhanabalan Minister for Foreign Affairs Executive Chairman of DBS Group. Chairman of Temasek Holdings, Director of GIC
Dr Richard Hu Minister for Finance Director of GIC, Chairman of GIC Real Estate
Dr Yeo Ning Hong Minister for Defence Executive Chairman of PSA Corporation, Director of DBS Group and Singapore Press Holdings
Mr Lim Chee Onn Minister without Portfolio, Prime Minister’s Office Executive Chairman of Keppel Corporation, Chairman of Keppel Capital, Keppel Land, MobileOne and Director of Temasek Holdings, k1 Ventures, Singapore Airlines, and NatSteel
Mr Goh Chee Wee Minister of State for Trade and Industry Group Managing Director and Chief Executive of Comfort Group, Deputy Chairman of NTUC Fairprice Cooperative, Comfort Transportation, Comfort Automotive Services, VICOM Nominee Investment, VICOM Inspection Centre, Comfort Properties, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of VICOM, and Chairman of NTUC Media, VICOM Assessment Centre, Eurocom Motors, ComTrucks, Barcelona Motors, Sinamex Car Rental and Leasing, Comfort Driving Centre, Comfort Courier Services, Suzhou Comfort Taxi, Xiamen Comfort Taxi, Zhengzhou Comfort Tour Bus Service, Comfort Nominees, Comfort Group Investments, Comfort Myanmar, Comfort Diesel
Mr Bernard Chen Tien Lap Minister of State for Defence Corporate Adviser to Singapore Technologies and Director of DBS Group
Dr Ker Sin Tze Minister of State for Education Managing Director of Dragon Land (Keppel Land unit)
Mr Ho Kah Leong Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Director of Comfort Group (Singapore Labour Foundation unit)
Mr Sam Chong Keen Political Secretary for Education Chairman of NTUC Denticare Cooperative (Singapore Labour Foundation unit)
Dr Wee Kim Wee President of Singapore Director of The Ascott Group (CapitaLand unit)
Mr Lee Ek Tieng Head of Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for Prime Minister’s Office Group Managing Director of GIC and Director of GIC Special Investments, GIC Real Estate and Singapore Press Holdings
Mr J Y Pillay Permanent Secretary for Defence Executive Chairman of Singapore Exchange
Mr Philip Yeo Permanent Secretary for Defence Chairman of CapitaLand (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Teo Ming Kian Permanent Secretary for Defence Chairman of Singapore Technologies, and Director of PSA Corporation, TIF Ventures and T21 Holdings
Mr Tjong Yik Min Permanent Secretary for Communications President and Director of Singapore Press Holdings
Mr Er Kwong Wah Permanent Secretary for Education Director of SembCorp Marine and Jurong Engineering (SembCorp unit)
Mr Lum Choong Wah Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Deputy Chairman and Executive Director of SAFE Superstore Holdings (SembCorp unit)
Mr Herman Hochstadt Permanent Secretary for Law Chairman of ECICS Holdings (Temasek Holdings unit)
Mr Cheong Quee Wah Permanent Secretary for Defence President of SembCorp Waste Management and Director of Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Alphonsus Tan Chok Kian Permanent Secretary for Finance Chairman of Keppel Communications, Director of Keppel FELS Energy and Infrastructure
Mr Ngiam Tong Dow Permanent Secretary for Finance Director of Singapore Press Holdings and SLF Leisure Enterprises
Mr Sim Kee Boon Permanent Secretary for Finance Senior Advisor to Keppel Corporation, Director of Temasek Holdings and PSA Corporation
Dr Han Cheng Fong Permanent Secretary for Labour Director of Vision Century Corporation (JTC unit)
Mr Goh Kim Leong Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Law Executive Director of SembCorp Industries (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Wong Hung Khim Permanent Secretary for Community Development Chairman and Chief Executive of Delgro Corporation, Chairman of SBS Transit, and Deputy Chairman of Singapore Telecom
Mr Chee Keng Soon Auditor-General Chairman of Jurong Engineering, and Director of SembCorp Marine
Mr Liew Mun Leong Chief Executive of SISIR Chief Executive of CapitaLand and Deputy Chairman of Raffles Holdings and The Ascott Group
Mr Stephen Yeo Siew Chye Chief Executive of National Computer Board President and Chief Executive of Singapore Computer Systems (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Lim Jit Poh Chief Executive of National Productivity Board Chairman of Comfort Group and VICOM, and Director of International Factors, Delgro Corporation, and The Ascott Group
Mr Alan Choe General Manager of Urban Redevelopment Authority Director of Keppel Land
Mr Khoo Teng Chye Chief Executive of Urban Redevelopment Authority Group President of PSA Corporation, Chairman of Changi International Airport Services (PSA unit), and Director of Keppel Corporation
Mr Barry Desker Chief Executive of Trade Development Board Chairman of ST Marine and Singapore Network Services, and Director of Singapore Airport Terminal Services and SembCorp Logistics
Mr Lim Hock San Director-General of Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore Director of Keppel Corporation and Advanced Materials Technologies (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Ng Kiat Chong Chief Executive of National Productivity Board Director of Keppel T&T
Mr Liu Thai Ker Chief Executive of Urban Redevelopment Authority Director of Singapore Offshore Petroleum Services (SembCorp unit)
Mr Bertie Cheng Controller and Chief Executive of Post Office and Savings Bank Director of Singapore Petroleum Company (Keppel unit) and Singapore Technologies Aerospace
Mr Michael Yap Chief Executive of National Computer Board Chief Executive of Commerce Exchange (IDA and Venture TDF unit) and Director of NTUC Link
Mr Lee Yong Siang Chief Executive of Public Utilities Board Director of Keppel Hitachi Zosen
Dr Judy Lim Chief Executive of Tan Tock Seng Hospital and National University Hospital Director of Pacific Internet (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Goh Yong Hong Commissioner of Police Executive Deputy Chairman of Singapore Turf Club, Chairman of Singapore Pools, Director of Dragon Land and PREMAS International (CapitaLand Unit)
Ms Low Sin Leng Deputy Secretary for Trade and Industry Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of SembCorp Industries, President and Director of Singapore Technologies Industrial Corporation, Director of Pacific Internet, Pacfusion.com, Singapore Computer Systems, STIC Investments, Singapore Mint, SembCorp SITA, Singapore-Suzhou Township Development, Sembawang Corporation, Sembawang Industrial, Bintan Resort Ferries, Bintan Lagoon Resort, Chairman of SembCorp Parks Holdings, SembCorp Energy, Singapore-Wuxi Investment Holdings and SembCorp Parks Management, and Deputy Chairman of SembCorp Utilities
Mr Lim Ming Seong Deputy Secretary for Defence Group Director of Singapore Technologies, Deputy Chairman of ST Assembly and Chartered Semiconductor, and Chairman of CSE Systems and Engineering (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Lim Chuan Poh Deputy Secretary for Communications Executive Vice President of Singapore Telecom and Director of FailSafe Corporation (SingTel unit)
Mr Lai Seck Khui Deputy Secretary for Trade and Industry Deputy Chairman of Vision Century Corporation (JTC unit)
Mr Lim Ho Kee Deputy Managing Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore Director of Keppel Land, Keppel Capital Holdings, and Singapore Post (SingTel unit)
Dr Teh Kok Peng Deputy Managing Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore President and Director of GIC Special Investments
Mr Koh Beng Seng Deputy Managing Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore Director of ST Assembly and Testing Services and Chartered Semiconductor
Ms Leong Wai Leng Deputy Chief Executive of SISIR Deputy Chief Executive of Raffles Holdings (CapitaLand unit)
Mr Michael Khor Teik Hean Deputy Chief Executive of Public Utilities Board Director of SembCorp Energy and SembCorp Utilities
Dr N Varaprasad Deputy President of National University of Singapore Director of SIA Engineering
Lieutenant-Colonel Tan Kian Chew Principal Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister Chief Executive of NTUC Fairprice Cooperative, Director of NTUC Healthcare Cooperative
Mr Phua Tin How Principal Private Secretary to the President of Singapore President of SBS Transit and Director of SLF International, China-Singapore Industrial Park Development and Transit Link
Mr Seah Kian Peng Acting Principal Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister Managing Director of NTUC Healthcare Cooperative, Chief Executive of NTUC Media Cooperative, and Director of Singapore Telecom
Mr S Iswaran Director of Ministry of Trade and Industry Senior Vice President of Temasek Holdings
Mr Peter Tay Buan Huat Director of Ministry of Defence President of Singapore Food Industries and Director of ST Primary
Mr Wu Tzu Chien Director of Ministry of Defence President of ST Kinetics
Mr Koh Soo Keong Director of Ministry of Defence President of SembCorp Logistics and ST Logistics, and Chairman of Sembawang Kimtrans and Singapore Offshore Petroleum Services
Mr Ng Kok Song Executive Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore Managing Director of GIC and Director of ECICS Holdings
Ms Audrey Lee Executive Director of InfoComm Development Authority Executive Director of StarHub (ST Telemedia unit)
Mr Khor Poh Hwa Director of Public Works Department Chief Executive of PWD Corporation and Director of Keppel Land
Mr Ng Pock Too Director of Economic Development Board Chairman of NTUC Income Insurance Cooperative
Mr Lim Leong Geok Executive Director of Public Works Department Director of Keppel Land
Mr Tan Eng Bock Director of Police Force Director of Teledata (Intraco unit)
Mr Tan Kit Jong Director of National Science and Technology Board Acting Chief Executive and Director of TIF Ventures (EDB unit)
Mr David Lim Director of National Science and Technology Board Director of TIF Ventures
Mr Freddy Orchard Executive Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore Advisor of GIC
Mr Goh Tien Jin Executive Director of JTC Corporation Executive Vice President and Chef Information Officer of Ascendas, Chief Executive of JTCi Development and JTCi Consultancy, Chairman of Xinsu Industrial Development, and Director of Vision Century Corporation
Ms Chua Soh Kheng Director of Institute of Productivity Training, Productivity and Standards Board Senior Vice President and Director of PSB Academy (PSB unit)
Mr Low Huan Ping Division Head of Ministry of Defence Executive Vice President of Singapore Press Holdings, Director of Singapore Cable Vision and MobileOne (SPH unit)
Mr Lee Kwok Cheong Division Head of National Computer Board Chief Executive of National Computer Systems and Director of SESAMi Inc (SingTel unit)
Mr Anthony Seah Division Head of SISIR Chief Executive of PREMAS International (CapitaLand unit)
Dr Chia Boon Tat Division Head of Defence Science Organisation Chief Executive of Keppel Communications and Director of Keppel T&T
Mr Kwa Kim Chiong Division Head of Defence Science Organisation Chief Executive of JustLogin.com (Singapore Technologies unit) and former Deputy General Manager and Director of Singapore Engineering Software
Mr Liu Shih Shin Division Head of Economic Development Board Director of Singapore Food Industries
Mr Wong Lin Hong Division Head of Economic Development Board Managing Director of Temasek Capital and Director of Teledata (Intraco unit)
Mr Billy Lee Division Head of Economic Development Board Director of SembCorp Logistics
Mr Ng Yoke Weng Division Head of Systems and Computer Organisation Chief Information Officer of Singapore Telecom, Director of FailSafe Corporation (SingTel unit)
Mr Han Wee Kwang Chief Quantity Surveyor of Public Works Department Vice President (Quantity Surveying) of PWD Consultants
Mr Peter Chia Department Head of Post Office Savings Bank Executive Vice President and Division Head of Singapore Exchange
Mr Saw Ken Wye Assistant Chief Executive of National Computer Board Director of Abecha (JTC unit)
Mr Chua Tiow Chye Senior General Manger of JTC Corporation Executive Vice President of Ascendas, Managing Director of Vision Century Corporation, Director of Singapore Suzhou Industrial Holdings, RBF Development Corporation, Information Technology Park
Mr Henry Heng General Manager of Productivity and Standards Board Chief Executive of PSB Corporation
Dr Steve Lai General Manager of Productivity and Standards Board Deputy Chief Executive of PSB Corporation
Ms Poh Mui Hoon General Manager of National Computer Board President of SESAMi Inc and Director of Abecha (JTC Corporation unit)
Mr Lee Kheng Nam Deputy Director of Ministry of National Development President of Vertex Venture Holdings (Singapore Technologies unit) and Director of Silicon Illusions (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Lee Cheok Yew Deputy Director of Ministry of Trade and Industry Chief Executive of SPH MediaWorks
Ms Cheo Hock Kuan Deputy Director of Prime Minister’s Office Executive Director of Singapore Technologies, Chief Executive of Embrace (Singapore Technologies unit), and Director of Singapore Technologies Semiconductors
Mr Teng Cheong Kwee Deputy Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore Director of ST Assembly Test Services
Mr Wu Tek Ming Deputy Divisional Director of Productivity and Standards Board Chief Executive of PSB Certification
Mr Ang Swee Tian Deputy Insurance Commissioner of Monetary Authority of Singapore President of Singapore Exchange
Mr Lim Geok Hwee Deputy Director of NTUC Chief Executive of NTUC Choice Homes and SLF Management Services
Mr Quek Keng Ngak Regional Director of Economic Development Board Group General Manager of Pacific Internet, Director of AIH and Information Frontiers (SembCorp unit)
Mrs Christina Lim Senior Assistant Director of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Senior Vice President of Vertex Management (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Lau Yin Cheng Assistant Divisional Director of Ministry of Labour Vice President of SembCorp Logistics
Mr Patrick Daniel Assistant Director of Ministry of Home Affairs Editor of Business Times (SPH unit)
Ms Chua Lee Hoong Assistant Director of Ministry of Home Affairs Senior Political Correspondent of Straits Times (SPH unit)
Mr Seah Moon Ming Assistant Director of Defence Materials Organisation President of ST Electronics and Chairman of ST LogiTrack and mPayment (Singapore Technologies unit)
Mr Benett Theseira Assistant Commissioner of Lands Chief Investment Officer of The Ascott Group (CapitaLand unit)
Mr Lim Hung Siang Higher Executive Engineer in the Anti-Pollution Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office Chief Executive of CityCab (Delgro and Singapore Technologies unit) and DelGro Engineering
Dr Lee Tsao Yuan Senior Lecturer in National University of Singapore Director of Keppel FELS Energy and Infrastructure, Pacific Internet, Keppel Capital
Dr Steven Choo Senior Lecturer and Centre Director of National University of Singapore Senior Vice President of CapitaLand
Mr Wong Toon King Senior Planner of National Computer Board Director of Raffles Holdings (CapitaLand unit)

As with any business, state-controlled or otherwise, there is a tendency for managers at the top to appoint people whom they have shared a common past with. Since many past and present officials lead GLCs, these people tend to appoint other past or present officials to key positions in the GLCs. For example, Mr Liew Mun Leong was Chief Executive of SISIR from 1988 to 1992 when Mdm Ho Ching served as a Member of the SISIR Board. He is now Chief Executive of CapitaLand, the property arm of Singapore Technologies. Ms Leong Wai Leng was Deputy Chief Executive of SISIR from 1990 to 1993. She is now Deputy Chief Executive of Raffles Holdings, the hotel arm of Singapore Technologies. Mr Anthony Seah was a Division Head of SISIR from 1988 to 1991. He is now Chief Executive of PREMAS International, the property management arm of Singapore Technologies. Colonel Tham Kui Seng was General Manager of a SISIR subsidiary from 1991. He is now Chief Executive of CapitaLand Residential. Given the perceived shortage of talent in Singapore, Colonel Tham’s experience as the Army’s logistics chief is presumably valuable in efforts to develop “premier, high quality” homes around the world. Colonel Kee Teck Koon was Director of SISIR from 1991 to 1993. He is now Chief Executive of The Ascott Group, the serviced residence arm of Singapore Technologies. With nine years in the Armed Forces behind him, Colonel Kee leads “Asia Pacific’s largest serviced residence company”, building a “luxury brand that projects an elegant, meticulous lifestyle that appeals to top executives” and offering “the ultimate refinement in served accommodation”. Lieutenant-Colonel Ed Ng was General Manager of a SISIR subsidiary from 1990 to 1991. He is now Executive Vice President of CapitaLand.

If the government withdraws from business, a prestigious and lucrative destination for senior government officials would be taken away. Senior managers of GLCs are compensated at globally competitive levels. Many of them are also shareholders of the GLCs they manage. Non-executive directors are paid regular director’s fees and are even given stock options, which can be substantial. The stipends are not pittance. They may lose out if the government gives up ownership of GLCs.

3) Former senior military commanders

DPM Lee, his wife, and his brother established their careers in the Ministry of Defence. DPM Lee was with the Armed Forces for 13 years, rising to Chief of Staff General Staff (Deputy Army Chief) before becoming a politician. His wife Mdm Ho Ching, whom he got to know in the Ministry of Defence, was with the Ministry for 10 years, rising to senior positions in Defence Science Organisation and Defence Materials Organisation before joining Singapore Technologies. His brother, Brigadier-General Lee Hsien Yang was with the Armed Forces for 15 years, rising to Director of Joint Operations and Planning Directorate before joining Singapore Telecom. The following table lists a number of their colleagues in the Ministry of Defence who have also moved on to GLCs or are holdings key appointments in GLCs:

Former Military Official Former Military Post Present GLC Post
Lieutenant-General Bey Soo Khiang Chief of Defence Force Executive Vice President of Singapore Airlines and Director of SIA Engineering
Lieutenant-General Ng Jui Ping Chief of Defence Force Director of NTUC Income Insurance Cooperative
Lieutenant-General Winston Choo Chief of Defence Force Director of Australand Holdings (CapitaLand unit), Keppel FELS Energy and Infrastructure, and Keppel Capital
Major-General Lim Neo Chian Chief of Army Deputy Chairman of ST Engineering, ST Marine, ST Aerospace, ST Electronics, and ST Kinetics, and Chairman of ST Kinetics
Major-General Raymund Ng Teck Heng Chief of Air Force Senior Vice President of Singapore Airlines
Brigadier-General Wesley D’Aranjo Deputy Secretary for Defence Director of Singapore Zoological Gardens
Brigadier-General Boey Tak Hap Chief of Army Chief Executive of Singapore Mass Rapid Transit
Rear-Admiral Kwek Siew Jin Chief of Navy Chief Executive of Singapore Power
Brigadier-General Michael Teo Chief of Air Force Director of Singapore Aerospace Industries
Brigadier-General Gary Yeo Director of Joint Intelligence Directorate Deputy President of ST Aerospace, Chairman of ST Aerospace Systems, ST Aerospace Supplies, ST Perth Aerospace Engineering, and VisionTech Engineering
Brigadier-General Lee Fook Sun Director of Joint Intelligence Directorate President of ST Electronics
Rear-Admiral Larry Loon Chief of Staff in the Navy President of ST Marine
Brigadier-General Patrick Choy Division Commander Executive Vice President (Marketing) of ST Engineering, Senior Vice President and Director of ST Kinetics
Brigadier-General Andrew Tan Division Commander Senior Vice President of ST Kinetics
Brigadier-General Chin Chow Yoon Commandant of SAFTI Military Institute Chief Executive of Bintan Resort Management, Chairman of Bintan Resort Development Corporation (Singapore Technologies unit)
Brigadier-General Low Yee Kah Senior Officer in the Armed Forces Senior Vice President of ST Engineering, General Manager of Unicorn International
Colonel Lau Kee Siong Assistant Chief of General Staff Managing Director of Embrace (Singapore Technologies unit)
Colonel Michael Low Assistant Chief of General Staff Chief Operating Officer of DataOne Asia and Managing Director of DataOne Singapore (Keppel unit)
Colonel Lee Wai Mun Assistant Chief of General Staff President of ST Synthesis
Colonel Tham Kui Seng Assistant Chief of General Staff Chief Executive of CapitaLand Residential, Chairman of Australand Holdings, and Director of Raffles Holdings
Colonel Ng Eng Ho Chief Signal Officer Chief Executive Keppel T&T, Director of Keppel Communications, Keppel Telecoms, and MobileOne (Keppel and SPH unit)
Colonel Foo Jong Ai Chief Signal Officer and Director of InfoComm Development Authority Chief Executive of Netrust (Keppel unit) and Chairman of 1-Net (MediaCorp unit)
Colonel Quek Poh Huat Senior Officer in the Armed Forces and Chairman of SISIR President of Temasek Holdings, Executive Director of Singapore Power, and Director of Singapore Telecoms
Colonel Kee Teck Koon Director of SISIR and National Science and Technology Board Chief Executive and Director of The Ascott Group (CapitaLand unit)
Colonel Tay Kok Khiang Head of Air Logistics in the Air Force Deputy President and Chief Operating Officer of ST Aerospace, Chairman of STA Engines, STA Systems, Aerospace Engineering Services, Singapore Precision Repair and Overhaul, STA International Structures, and Deputy Chairman of Singapore Technologies Training and Simulation
Colonel Tan Nga Kok Division Commander Vice President and Executive Director of ST Engineering
Colonel Poon Choon Liang Chief Supply and Transport Officer General Manager of Singapore Food Industries
Colonel Quek Koh Eng Senior Officer in the Army Executive Director of Chartered Ammunition Industries (Singapore Technologies unit)
Colonel Goh Chee Kong Commander of Officer Cadet School Executive Director of SMRT Corporation
Colonel Tan Hong Huat Senior Officer in the Armed Forces Senior Vice President of SembCorp Industries and Director of Sembawang Kimtrans
Colonel Chua Tiong Guan Senior Officer in the Armed Forces Managing Director of ECO Industrial Environmental Engineering (JTC and Singapore Power unit)
Lieutenant-Colonel Ed Ng Brigade Commander Executive Vice President of CapitaLand and Director of Raffles Holdings
Lieutenant-Colonel Tay Siew Choon Commanding Officer Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of Singapore Technologies, Chairman of Singapore Computer Systems, Green Dot Internet Services, NexGen Financial Holdings, Asia Business Venture Holdings, SNP Corporation, KRDL Holdings, Vertex Management and Vertex Ventures, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of Green Dot Capital, Deputy Chairman of Vertex Venture Holdings, Director of Singapore Technologies Telemedia, SembCorp Industries, PSA Corporation, Chartered Semiconductor, ST Telemedia
Lieutenant-Colonel Teo Kian Bin Deputy Head of Joint Plans Chief Executive of Netrust (Keppel unit)
Lieutenant-Colonel Fong Choon Khin Senior Officer in the Armed Forces Vice President and Chief Information Officer of MediaCorp Singapore
Lieutenant-Colonel Chang Cheow Teck Senior Officer in the Air Force President of VT Systems and ST Engineering
Lieutenant-Colonel Yoon Kam Choon Senior Officer in the Navy and Administrative Officer Chief Executive of TradeOne (Keppel unit)
Lieutenant-Colonel Chong San Chew Senior Officer in the Armed Forces Group Corporate Planning and Business Development Manager of Comfort Group, Director of Comfort Courier Services, ComTrucks, Barcelona Motors, Comfort Myanmar
Lieutenant-Colonel Tang Kok Fai Senior Officer in the Armed Forces Executive Director of SembCorp Industries
Lieutenant-Colonel Chua Hwee Song Senior Officer in the Armed Forces and Deputy Director of National Science and Technology Board Deputy Director of TIF Ventures (EDB unit)

The proprietary interests of certain former senior military officials are not insignificant. For example, Colonel Quek Poh Huat, President of Temasek Holdings, owned 823,228 ST Engineering shares and 36,890 SembCorp Industries shares, among other interest in GLCs as of March 2001. Lieutenant-Colonel Tay Siew Choon, Chief Operating Officer of Singapore Technologies, owned 54,598 SembCorp Industries shares, 1,479,578 SembCorp Industries options, 171,000 Singapore Computer Systems shares, 80,000 Singapore Computer Systems options, 270,000 Singapore Food Industries shares, 400,000 Singapore Food Industries options, 53,850 CapitaLand options, and 100,000 STT Communications options, among other interests in GLCs as of year-end 2000.

The policy of early retirement for senior military men enables them to offer their innate and acquired abilities to GLCs. Former Commandant of SAFTI Military Institute, Brigadier-General Chin Chow Yoon, who is now Chief Executive of Bintan Resort Management, brings with him a lifelong experience of overseeing living environments such as the Officer Cadet School and leisure establishments such as the Singapore Discovery Centre. Colonel Goh Chee Kong, Director of Corporate Communications for SMRT Corporation, can draw on his experience talking to officer cadets and their trainers, as he was previously Commander of Officer Cadet School.

4) Current senior government officials

Senior government officials are holding key appointments in GLCs while still in government. Some of them receive not just directors’ fees but also stock options. For example, Lieutenant-Colonel Boon Swan Foo, Managing Director of Agency for Science, Technology and Research, owned 224,433 ST Engineering shares, 2,005,000 ST Engineering share options, 28,800 Chartered Semiconductor shares, 14,250 ST Assembly share options, and 53,850 CapitaLand share options among other interests as of year-end 2000. Colonel (Prof) Lui Pao Chuen, Chief Defence Scientist of Ministry of Defence, owned 161,444 ST Engineering shares and 12,950 SembCorp Industries shares, among other interests as of year-end 2000. Mr Liow Voon Kheong, Assistant Managing Director of Economic Development Board, owned 80,000 stock options in Chartered Semiconductor as of year-end 2000. The following table lists a number of officials who are at the same time directors of GLCs:

Government Official Present Government Post Present GLC Post
Dr Tony Tan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Director of GIC, and Chairman of GIC Special Investments
Lieutenant-Colonel Lim Hng Kiang Minister for Health and 2nd Minister for Finance Director of GIC and GIC Real Estate
Mr Lim Boon Heng Minister without Portfolio, Prime Minister’s Office Director of Singapore Airlines
Mr Matthias Yao Senior Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Deputy Chairman of NTUC Income Insurance Cooperative
Mr Hawazi Daipi Parliamentary Secretary for Education Director of PSA Corporation
Mr Lim Siong Guan Head of Civil Service, and Permanent Secretary for Finance and Prime Minister’s Office Deputy Chairman of Temasek Holdings
Mr Eddie Teo Permanent Secretary for Prime Minister’s Office Director of ST Engineering and Chairman of ST Kinetics
Mr Tan Guong Ching Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Chairman of ST Telemedia and ST Marine, and Director of ST Engineering
Mr Heng Swee Keat Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry Director of Singapore Food Industries (SembCorp unit)
Brigadier-General Tan Chin Tiong Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Director of ECICS Holdings (Temasek Holdings unit)
Mr Liew Heng San Permanent Secretary for Law Director of Raffles City, Raffles City Hotel (CapitaLand unit) and NTUC Income
Mr Lam Chuan Leong Permanent Secretary for National Development Director of SembCorp Industries
Mr Moses Lee Permanent Secretary for Health Director of DBS Group and Singapore Airlines
Mr Alan Chan Heng Loon Permanent Secretary for Transport Director of DBS Group and PSA Corporation
Mr Peter Ong 2nd Permanent Secretary for Defence Director of Singapore Technologies and ST Engineering, and former Executive Vice President of Temasek Holdings
Prof Tommy Koh Ambassador-At-Large Director of DBS Group
Mr Ko Kheng Hwa Managing Director of Economic Development Board Chairman of Pacific Internet, Deputy Chairman of JTC International, and Director of Singapore Leisure Industries and JTC Corporation
Lieutenant-Colonel Boon Swan Foo Managing Director of Agency for Science, Technology and Research (formerly National Science and Technology Board) Director of NTUC Income Insurance Cooperative, and Advisor to CEO of ST Engineering
Brigadier-General Tan Yong Soon Chief Executive of Urban Redevelopment Authority Director of SMRT Corporation and SilkAir
Mr Tan Gee Paw Chairman and Chief Executive of Public Utilities Board Director of Sembawang Construction
Prof Su Guaning Chief Executive of Defence Science and Technology Agency Director of Singapore Technologies Holdings and Singapore Cable Vision (MediaCorp, Singapore Technologies, and SPH unit)
Lieutenant-Colonel Chong Lit Cheong Chief Executive of JTC Corporation Director of Singapore Science Park, Venture TDF, Singapore Leisure Industries, Jurong Port, Ascendas, Abecha and JTC Consultancy Services
Dr Ngiam Tong Tau Chief Executive of Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority Deputy Chairman of Singapore Food Industries, and Director of NTUC Fairprice Cooperative
Mr Tan Kee Yong Chief Executive of Singapore Land Authority Director of SAFE Enterprises and SNP Corporation (Singapore Technologies unit)
Dr Cham Tao Soon President of Nanyang Technological University Chairman of NatSteel, Director of Keppel Corporation
Dr Jennifer Lee Chief Executive of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital Director of PSA Corporation
Mr Tan Tee How Chief Executive of National Healthcare Group Director of SembCorp Logistics and Chairman of Power Seraya
Ms Nancy Teo Chief Executive of Singapore Labour Foundation Director of Comfort Group, Pasir Ris Resort, SLF Leisure Enterprises, SLF Management Services, SLF Properties, SLF Investments, and VICOM
Mr John de Payva President of NTUC Director of SBS Transit
Brigadier-General Lam Joon Khoi Deputy Secretary for Finance Director of ST Aerospace and SembCorp Engineering
Dr Tan Kim Siew Deputy Secretary for Finance Director of Keppel FELS Energy and Infrastructure
Rear Admiral Richard Lim Deputy Secretary for Defence Director of Singapore Technologies Holdings
Mr Lee Chiong Giam Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs Director of NTUC Radio Heart
Mr Jaspal Singh Deputy Secretary for Transport Director of Singapore Telecom
Mr Gong Wee Lik Deputy Managing Director of Economic Development Board Director of SembCorp Utilities
Ms Chong Siak Ching Deputy Chief Executive of JTC Corporation President and Chief Executive of Ascendas (JTC unit), Deputy Chairman of Vision Century Corporation (Ascendas unit)
Mr Liow Voon Kheong Assistant Managing Director of Economic Development Board and General Manager of EDB Investments and EDB Ventures Director of ST Assembly and Testing Services and Chartered Semiconductor
Dr Kaizad Heerjee Assistant Chief Executive of InfoComm Development Authority Director of Commerce Exchange (IDA and Venture TDF unit)
Mr Goh Oon Tong Senior Director of Trade Development Board Director of Ascendas (JTC unit)
Mr Benny Lim Director of Internal Security Department Director of SembCorp Utilities
Dr Loh Wah Sing Divisional Director of Productivity and Standards Board Director of Novo Environment Technology Services (PSB unit)
Lieutenant-Colonel Goh Kok Huat Executive Director of JTC Corporation Chief Executive of Ascendas Land Singapore and Executive Vice President of Ascendas (formerly Arcasia Land and JTC International)
Brigadier-General Jimmy Khoo Director of Ministry of Defence and Defence Science and Technology Agency Director of Singapore Technologies Aerospace Engineering
Colonel (Prof) Lui Pao Chuen Chief Defence Scientist of Ministry of Defence Chairman of Singapore Technologies Dynamics, JTC Consultancy Services and Director of ST Engineering
Lieutenant-General Lim Chuan Poh Chief of Defence Force Director of Singapore Telecom and ST Engineering
Brigadier-General Rocky Lim Kim Choon Chief of Air Force Director of Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing (Singapore Technologies unit)
Major-General Ng Yat Chung Chief of Army Director of PSA Corporation, ST Aerospace Supplies, and ST Kinetics
Mr Khoo Boon Hui Commissioner of Police Director of Ascendas
Prof Bernard Tan Dean of Students in National University of Singapore Director of Keppel Corporation, Chairman of Keppel Group Cooperative Credit Union and Keppel Hitachi Zosen
Prof Chen Charng Ning Senior Director of Nanyang Technological University Director of SembCorp Utilities
Dr Tan Tin Wee Associate Professor and Centre Director of National University of Singapore Director of Keppel T&T
Prof Wee Chow Hou Dean of Business Administration in National University of Singapore Director of Neptune Orient Lines and SembCorp Logistics
Dr Phua Kai Hong Associate Professor of National University of Singapore Director of NTUC Healthcare Cooperative
Mr Lai Yeow Hin Chief Information Officer and Deputy Director of Economic Development Board Director of ST Assembly Testing Services
Mr Tay Kim Poh Chief Estate Administration and Property Officer of Housing and Development Board Director of NTUC Fairprice Cooperative
Dr Lee Seng Teik Consultant Neurosurgeon of Singapore General Hospital Director of NTUC Healthcare Cooperative

5) Current and former ruling party politicians

The situation could be further complicated by present PAP MPs holding key posts in GLCs. The non-executive directors receive not just directors’ fees but may also have shares and share options in the GLCs they direct. For example, Mr K Shanmugam, MP for Sembawang GRC, owned 70,000 SembCorp Industries share options and 30,000 Chartered Semiconductor shares, among other interests in GLCs as of year-end 2000. The following table lists non-ministerial MPs holding senior management and directorship positions in GLCs:

PAP MP Constituency Present GLC Post
Mr Cedric Foo West Coast GRC Senior Vice President of Singapore Airlines
Mr Charles Chong Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Senior Executive of Singapore Airlines
Mr Chay Wai Chuen Tanjong Pagar GRC General Manager of NTUC Fairprice Cooperative, Director of NTUC Choice Homes Cooperative and NTUC Radio Heart
Mr Chew Heng Ching East Coast GRC Director of Dragon Land (Keppel Land unit)
Mr Davinder Singh Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Director of Singapore Technologies and Singapore Airlines
Mr Gan Kim Yong Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC Executive Vice President of NatSteel, Chief Executive of NatSteel Properties and NatSteel Resorts
Mdm Halimah Yacob Jurong GRC Director of NTUC Thrift and Loan Cooperative and NTUC Healthcare Cooperative
Ms Ho Geok Choo West Coast GRC Vice President of SIA Engineering
Ms Irene Ng Tampines GRC Senior Manager of Singapore Press Holdings
Mr K Shanmugam Sembawang GRC Director of SembCorp Industries
Mrs Lim Hwee Hua Marine Parade GRC Managing Director of Temasek Holdings, Director of NTUC Income Insurance Cooperative and Senoko Power
Mr Loh Meng See Jalan Besar GRC Senior Vice President of Singapore Airlines
Dr Michael Lim Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Deputy Chairman of NTUC Childcare Cooperative
Mr Ong Ah Heng Nee Soon Central Director of Comfort Group and Singapore Post (SingTel unit)
Mr Sinnakaruppan s/o C Ramasamy Kreta Ayer-Tanglin GRC Director of SLF Leisure Enterprises and Family Leisure and former
Mr Wee Siew Kim Ang Mo Kio GRC President of ST Engineering
Dr Wang Kai Yuen Bukit Timah Director of Comfort Group, Comfort Transportation, Comfort Automotive Services
Mr Yeo Guat Kwang Aljunied GRC Director of NTUC Club Investment
Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon Jurong GRC Deputy Chairman of NTUC Income Insurance Cooperative

Former PAP MPs also fill key posts in GLCs. The following table illustrates this situation:

Former PAP MP Constituency Present GLC Posts
Mr Kenneth Chen Hong Kah GRC Director of Dragon Land (Keppel Land Unit)
Mr Chandra Das Cheng San GRC Chairman of NTUC Fairprice Cooperative and Director of The Ascott Group
Mr Chng Hee Kok East Coast GRC Chief Executive of NTUC Thrift and Loan Cooperative and NTUC Club
Dr Chau Sik Ting Thomson Director of Jurong Engineering
Mr Chin Harn Tong Aljunied Director of SBS Transit
Mr Goh Choon Kang Marine Parade GRC Division Head of Singapore Press Holdings
Dr Hong Hai Bedok Director of Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SIA unit)
Mr Lew Syn Pau Kreta Ayer-Tanglin GRC Chairman of Ascendas (JTC unit)
Mr Peh Chin Hua Jalan Besar GRC Executive Chairman and Chief Executive of Dragon Land (Keppel Land unit)

The government’s efforts to co-opt its politicians from the private sector

The PAP has often looked to GLCs for potential candidates as MPs, parliamentary secretaries and ministers. GLCs provide a uniquely effective way for the party to assess potential candidates outside of the civil service. Without being able to own businesses in the private sector, the ruling PAP government might find it more difficult to find people whom it has worked with and whom it can trust. The following table lists a number of present PAP MPs who were selected as electoral candidates after working in a GLC:

PAP MP Present Appointment Former GLC Position
Mr Goh Chok Tong Prime Minister Managing Director of Neptune Orient Lines
Mr Wong Kan Seng Minister for Home Affairs Manager of NatSteel
Mr Mah Bow Tan Minister for National Development Chief Executive of Singapore Monitor
Mr Lim Boon Heng Minister without Portfolio, Prime Minister’s Office Manager of Neptune Orient Lines
Dr Lee Boon Yang Minister for Manpower Senior Manager of Primary Industries Enterprise (Primary Production Department unit)
Mr David Lim Tik En Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts and Senior Minister of State for Defence Chief Executive of China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development and Executive Vice President of Sembawang Corporation
Mr Abdullah Tarmugi Minister for Community Development and Sports and Minister in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Associate News Editor of Straits Times
Mr Raymond Lim Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry Managing Director of Temasek Holdings
Mr Yatiman Yusof Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Information, Communications, and the Arts Editor of Berita Harian and Berita Minggu (SPH unit)
Mr Mohamad Maidin Packer Mohd Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Assistant to Editor of Berita Harian
Mr Hawazi Daipi Parliamentary Secretary for Education Special Assistant Editor of Berita Harian (SPH unit)
Mr Seng Han Thong Assistant Secretary-General of NTUC Senior Associate Editor of Lianhe Zaobao (SPH unit)
Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed Mayor for North-East CDC Editor of Berita Harian and Berita Minggu
Mrs Cynthia Lee Chief Executive of Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council Senior Manager in Esmaco (CapitaLand unit)
Dr Ong Seh Hong MP Vice President of GIC
Ms Penny Low MP Journalist with Singapore Broadcasting Corporation
Miss Irene Ng MP Senior Political Correspondent of Straits Times

The government’s Public Sector Divestment Committee in 1987 recommended that the government withdraw from commercial activities where its role was no longer needed to avoid competition with the private sector. Since then, the government has reduced its stakes in several GLCs through public offering of shares. It has also selectively divested a few companies.

Yet its participation in the economy remains entrenched and has even become more widespread. The government continues to control many of the GLCs that are listed on the Exchange. New acquisitions, ventures into new businesses, and the corporatisation of services previously administered by statutory boards have expanded its involvement in the economy. The liberalization of certain industries previously monopolised by a GLC have resulted in only more GLCs.

Given that state involvement in business could be benefiting the government and the people closely connected to it, it is appreciable that even greater resolve would be needed this time for a policy revision.