Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Low : Be More Proactive MAS!

'The Minister's answers sound like the MAS shouting across the river, while watching a fire burning,' -Mr Low Thia Kiang
It seems like this is turning out to be a small matter - I thought SM Goh himself would appear before parliament to answer the questions as chairman of MAS but he sent his deputy Mr. Lim Hng Kiang to do the job instead. Contrast that with Hong Kong where Donald Tsang himself spoke up in the legislative council to answer every single question and pledged to seek justice for the affected investors. I guess our PM and SM had more important duties to attend and have to leave this matter for Mr. Lim to handle.

Mr. Low suggested the Government could form a committee 'to deal with the matter directly'. Directly investigate the banks to find out how the RMs are trained, what instructions were given to them to market these products and whether there are checks in place to ensure that no mis-selling take place. What MAS has done is to appoint "individuals to help review the complaints handling and resolution processes of the FIs who have sold the toxic structured products. The independent parties are to determine whether FIs' complaints handling and resolution processes are independent, fair and transparent and conducted in a timely manner"[Link]. In other words, MAS will not get its hands dirty with direct investigations. It will get data from the complaints handling process of the banks via these independent parties and then proceed with inquiries.
Given the number of "vulnerable" old folks who were targetted and mis-sold these risky products, there is enough to believe that are systemic issues with the FI that led to products being mis-sold. Such systemic issues can only be uncovered through direct investigation into the processes, internal communication and remuneration system. Instead of a case by case approach in which individuals have to negotiate their own compensation limited by their own evidence, the authorities can help establish important facts that will bring about a better resolution for many of investors.

It took the Hong Kong govt less than 2 days to decide to conduct direct investigations into mis-selling. While Mr. Low demands more "action" from the People's Action Party, the Hong Kong govt has already found evidence of mis-selling in 2 banks and are ready to punish them probably forcing them to compensate investors fully or face severe sanctions : [Link]. All the Singaporeans investors are asking for is truth and justice. The truth cannot be established if the govt does not investigate these FIs. Asking the investors to go one by one to the FIs with their complaints and to seek redress from the FIDReC with their limited evidence will reduce the chance of getting an outcome that is just. For example, UBS was forced to buy back billions worth of ARS (auction rate securities) which were mis-sold to investors in the US. This outcome is only possible because regulators stepped in to conduct direct investigations into mis-selling. If American investors where told to go to the banks one by one, they won't stand a chance.


Anonymous said...

MAS keeps pushing the solution of the "independent individuals" to review and investigate the FIs. This is basically a step to avoid using the name of MAS sticking their fingers in the FIs.

So, any findings by the independent individuals are just opinions but have no direct linkage to MAS and no legal binding.

They are "proactive" alright, they are actively avoiding anything that "affect" their "good records".

Kaffein said...

If I had a million dollar salary, I'd be too busy counting my monies too.


Kaffein said...

It's like telling a person thinking of committing suicide due to financial losses, "Er, if you need a hand, let me know. I can always give you the nudge."


Anonymous said...

Good media story too. Give the monies back to the retired old folks, and case close.

Let's move one. We will continue to be business friendly. Screw the people!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday 6.30pm chinese news on ch.8 showed Lim Hng Kiang laughing cracking jokes in parliament on the financial crisis while explained why MAS was slow to act compares to HK government.While there are more than 10,000 ppl lost their hard earn money of more than 501 million Sgd.the heartless Lim H K instead of showing some sympathy and offer ways to solve the problem,he made jokes on the unfortunates.My heart was very pain when i saw this.How singaporeans elect this heartless animal into parliament.His follow heartless MPs also laughed.

jeff goh said...

LTK should be more proactive too. He is an MP, leader of an oppositin party. He should follow the example of Mr Tan Kin Lian, do something not just talk, or lend support to Mr Tan.
Has Ltk even been to the speakers corner even to lend support ? I hope he did.
Perhaps Mr Tan should be the one in parliament

Anonymous said...

oh Jeff Goh, it seems you are unpleased with LYK raising questions, aren't you?

LTK's questions and analogy resonate so much with the commoners and the duped investors.

Maybe you should go to the Speaker's corner to check if LTK is there before you shoot off your mouth? Now Jeff Goh, go book in to your Barrack and serve your NS quietly....

Anonymous said...

I think Jeff has a point though. Complaining is easy, and a pasttime of all Singaporeans. As we've seen in the US how Obama is responding to the crisis versus McCain, this is an opportunity for the opposition to show that they are for the people - go out there and make it happen.

But on the flip side, even if the opposition volunteer to head the committee to investigate the FIs, how much can they do, if the govt or PAP create stumbling blocks?

Anyway, on a separate note, as we've known all along, Singapore is pro-business. The govt's policies protect the business, not the consumer. Why? because the citizen has been beaten into submission. the greatest place for businesses to prosper. they can do anything and the consumer will only complain, and not do anything else.

The HK govt, though not the most efficient govt in the world, does an ok job at managing both consumer/citizen needs and businesses.

To see MAS behave in such a way - i'm not surprised coz their action clearly shows that they are trying not to piss off the FIs.

And that is also the expectations from our govt leaders..they know we wont go any further. SM Goh's "That's life" statement is a clear reflection of this mentality.

Anonymous said...

"...the heartless Lim H K instead of showing some sympathy and offer ways to solve the problem,he made jokes on the unfortunates..."


"Save on one hairdo and use the money for breast screening."

"THE National Kidney Foundation (NKF) spends more than 80 per cent of its funds on its beneficiaries."

"...I regret making the decision because, in the end, the baby continued to be in intensive care, and KKH now runs up a total bill of more than $300,000..."- Lim Hng Kiang, regretting the decision to save a baby's life because KKH ran up a $300 000 bill

Anonymous said...


Financial regulation here is weak and is pro-business, not pro-investors. We also learnt that there is very little protection for customers. The cheated/scammed/mis-sold investors are at the mercy of the banks.

Banks here are not required to make any form of compensation, according to MAS. They are not legally bound to do so. The banks or FIs can make compensation, if they feel like doing so.

Good luck to all those who invest via a Spore bank. I am boycotting them till there is much stronger consumer protection. Till then, my money goes entirely to HK banks.

Anonymous said...


no no no, morale of the story is when you get robbed in Sillypore, the authorities are not going to do anything to help you. It hurts to say this, really. Guess the truth hurts.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, at 11:23 AM,

Is LTK complaining? He's a MP who's entitled to ask questions in parliament.

On the other hand, I do see in the news that the PAP leaders are COMPLAINING that nobody will join their ranks if their salaries are not matched to Lehman Brother's CEO.
Blame it as a pastime of Singaporean habit? It's pure GREED of PAP. See things for what they are.

Kaffein said...

DBS banks on POSB account. So what happens if every Singgie pulls out his/her money from POSB?

Hmmmm... let's see if the Lim HK will be cracking jokes in parliament.


Anonymous said...

Did Lim Hng Khiang make fun of those investors who lost money in the Lehman minibond and High Notes?

Bloody unprofessional behaviour. Guess these days, it doesn't take much to lead a stat board.

Gila Babi said...

On this most important crisis that has happened what kind of "help" do we get from the govt? Nothing but whitewash, sweeping under the carpet, cover-up, whatever we want to call it. This time with help from the banks & the "independent ivestigating parties" - go to Mr Tan Kin Lian's Blog to see how these "independent parties" investigate.

This is an insult to the common people.

But the banks will never do this if they are not sure of support from the govt. If the govt were to take steps like what the HK govt has done, we'll never see such despicable behaviour - those working in banks simply have no conscience. All these people in govt, MAS, the banks & independent parties, they all want to DO NO WORK!

Lim Hng Kiang can say please don't take it to court for the sake of the people, so that they can get some money back and faster - what utter nonsense! The way the banks and govt is behaving now, without a full investigation and not the wishy-washy type that the banks and MAS would rather have, there WILL NEVER be any chance of the 10,000 folks getting their money back.

Singapore our Singapore, how long more are we going to put up with such nonsense from such heartless people? THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT US. Memorise that and REMEMBER come GE 2011. And when that time comes, do not say the opposition are useless or troublemakers. If we do not speak at the ballot box to register our unhappiness we never will be listened to, EVER.

Anonymous said...

It's actually quite simple.

1. Money is lost
2. Someone has to bear the loss
3. Choose one of the following
- Banks
- Individuals

Sometimes, people do what they do because they can, not because they should.

AlphavilleSG said...

Let's think this through for the moment - What are the ways to force the PAP govt to take action, obviously they aren't budging.

The banks doesn't recognised the urgency, since MAS inaction sound the tacit backing of govt who took their side. But it appears political expediency seems to have over-ruled disagreement with the top rung of management in handling this affair.

What we have done so far.

Gave the issue prominence, Tan Kin Lian leadership in this should be lauded, it is hard to claim that his involvement had to do with some self-serving need (since he has already established a high profile with his web site by credence of his previous appointment), it seems more to do with the recognition that this situation, had somebody's misdeeds to blame, and that guy kind of got away after the arson.

The oppositions no doubt is critical, Mr Low had aimed his salvo, but the target is 'Osama Bin Laden', none to the detriment. It more like an opportunity to take jibes at them, feeling consoled, just that little bit better afterward. Kind of like letting your girlfriend whinged knowing full well, tonight, you're going to bonk her again after the dinner menu. All is forgotten.

Blogosphere isn't short of commentary, this one is particularly active :), everyone who's online had probably a mention on this. But again, there's a mismatch in reality. Internet is for porn. Politics on the internet is for the self-absorbed. And because it is so democratic you choose what you want to hear. On top of that, apathy is prevalent, this further negate any outreach.

So what's next?

Organisation and network.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the US regulators proactively forcing Goldman to buy back their toxic garbage?

You wouldn't want DBS to go under do you?

2 wrongs dun make a right. sadly.
Now is the time perhaps for gahmen to dip into the reserves on a case by case basis. If the worst finanacial crisis since the great depression is not a "rainy day" ... dun know what is.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps SM Goh is not the one to shoulder all responsibilities. Let's look at an excerpt in a PMO's announcement in 2004 on the swearing in of PM Lee : http://www.pmo.gov.sg/AboutGovernment/CabinetAppointments/PMLeeHsienLoong/ "At the MAS, Mr Lee initiated reforms to liberalise the financial sector and to shift the emphasis from one-size-fits-all regulation towards a lighter supervisory touch, relying more on disclosure and caveat emptor." So, who has sowed the seeds ?

Anonymous said...

Few months ago the great MM Lee always said he thinks sgpoor has got many good years to come and sgpooreans would have a better life with our high GDP growth in the next 5-10yrs barring oil price go up excessively. Oil prices was than at around 120 US dollars/pp.He had repeated these pts at various gettogethers,speaking to reporters,forums etcs. However,in today's newspaper he talks about Recovery in 3 to 5yrs in Asia if the banking system ........It was less than 6 months ago he was assuring ppl of good yrs ahead and now he about turn talking about recession and recovery.How come he changes his story so fast and so drastically.This is a classic example of twist and turn the story of LKY.