"There's no push factor for the current CEO to step down"
-Minister Tharman [Link]
"No push factor after a $50B loss? ...."
- Lucky Tan
When they brought in Goodyear, we were told that Temasek has been looking for a successor for Ho Ching since 2005 [Link]. It took them 4 whole years to find Chip Goodyear who turned out to be unsuitable so Ho Ching will stay. Minister Tharman said yesterday that Temasek has "no deadline" to find a successor. That I say is one heck of an incredible story. Incredible that they took 4 years to find Goodyear, incredible that they conduct such a search without deadlines, incredible that Goodyear turned out to be 'unsuitable' and incredible that they expect Singaporeans to believe this amazing explanation.
I think the opposition in Singapore must be celebrating. Yes celebrating. Why? After losing $50B of taxpayer's money and making horribly numerous ill-timed investments ( selling BoA at the market bottom etc), they now expect us to believe they bungled the selection of Chip Goodyear for Temasek CEO. The arrival of Chip Goodyear and Ho Ching stepping down provided some kind satisfactory closure for many Singaporeans after the torrent of bad news. Whether they genuinely bungled by selecting Goodyear or there are other hidden reasons, it has caused great damage to the govt's credibility . This is going an issue that opposition parties can exploit during the next election especially if Ho Ching continues to stay at Temasek.
The whole saga, however, did not start with the recent losses. Singaporeans viewed the appointment of Ho Ching in 2004 with great scepticism - they found it hard to believe there was no better candidate for the job at that time. It was explained at that time that despite apparent conflict of interest, Ho Ching was so capable there was no choice but to appoint her. In 2006, she lost billions investing in Shin Corp. This was described as "a spectacular misjudgment" by Forbes magazine and would have caused a dismissal if it happened any other investment company. But Ho Ching stayed on after the govt defended Temasek for the Shin Corp purchase. The Shin Corp saga left Singaporeans feeling that there was a lack of acountability at Temasek - someone can just get away with a serious misjudgement that caused billions in losses. The hefty losses in US financial institutions was the straw that broke the camel's back. Goodyear's replacement of Ho Ching would have repaired some of the damage.....but they bungled that and for many Singaporeans that destroyed whatever trust (for Temasek) that remained.
Ho Ching staying on at Temasek will be a great liability for the PAP govt.