Singapore Fact Checking Website Refutes Ho Ching Salary Claim Without Giving Facts.
Some Singapore watchers might be forgiven for thinking that Heng Swee Keat is Ho Ching’s house elf. Somehow yesterday this civil servant got the Finance Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister to issue 4 Protection from Online Falsehood and Manipulation Act (POFMA) notices against various individuals and bloggers. Apparently, a post by the Taiwan News report that Ho Ching is paid $100 million a year is not true.
Singapore Citizens: Got it. Not $100million. So? how much is her compensation?
Government: Not telling. It’s a secret.
Singapore Citizens: Go on! It’s our money she invests and our tax dollar that pays her salary.
Government. OK then. She’s not paid $100 million.
SC: But how much?
GOV: OK she’s not in the top five by annual compensation.
SC but how much?
GOV: OK then. Her salary gets smoothed out over rough years
SC But how much??????
Here ends the Factually fact free seminar.
For years i have been openly asking our government to give us some transparency over what they do with our money. It is that simple. Instead of providing transparency they put more and more obstacles in the way, the latest ruses being POFMA and the Government website “Factually’ (sic) which I exposed here before.
Here is a fact, Singaporeans. You do not need to be afraid of POFMA. I also wrote an open letter to Heng Swee Keat defending an ordinary citizen when she was served with a POFMA for daring to make a guess about what percentage of the Resilience Package went to Temasek. Nothing has happened to me.
Remarkably the Factually website is devoid of facts, instead containing highly disingenuous and irrelevant arguments such as might be used by a slippery lawyer seeking to get his client off a murder charge on a technicality. The goalposts for POFMA have moved from telling a lie being the falsehood to making a mistake and now in the absence of facts making a guess or even in my case an educated estimate is breaking the law. It is all cock and the more of us who call it out the better.
As a thought experiment imagine this. I blog and say the Prime minister was given a deep discount on a prime condo in a new development. I do not know how much but I guess about $1million. I am issued a POFMA and Factually says this is a falsehood because he was not given a discount of a million dollars. In fact five other members of his extended familiee were given deeper discounts. He did not even get the biggest discount. The Government do not deny a discount, they just say it is not the sum I have guessed. It is preposterous, right?
So Ho Chin DOES NOT earn $100 million. Let us guess instead that she earns $89 million. Each time our citizens get POFMAs we can change the figure because until the Government gives us the actual figure we are not telling falsehoods. We are giving our best guess.
Also Factually says Ho Ching’s salary as CEO is NOT the highest in Temasek and in fact she is not in the top 5 earners. that suggests to me that she is not essential and could be replaced by someone who isn’t in the Prime Minister’s immediate family. Factually then uses the word “annual”. Singaporeans should not be fooled. This is just more dissembling. I was a hedge fund manager and worked in finance for 25 years and know how people are paid. She could be paid a S$1,000 annual salary and still have billions in the Temasek bonus scheme accumulating free of tax. Do not forget the golden handshake when she finally retires, either.
We have the right to know Ho Ching’s total compensation, including salary, bonus, long-term incentive and pension schemes paid to her since 2004 when she was appointed by her husband and father-in-law to run Temasek. Previously I wrote a blog about her subordinate, the CEO of SingTel, Ms Chua Sock Koong (allegedly the daughter of Chua Sian Chin and a cousin of LHL), explaining that while her annual salary and variable bonus was $5.6 million in 2014, her real compensation including share options was $12 million based on the company’s Performance Share Awards and would be $48 million and possibly as high as $58 million over the period 2015-18. Since Ms Chua has, like Ho Ching, enjoyed remarkable job security (she has been CEO of SingTel since 2007 after Lee Hsien Yang the Prime Minster stepped down) her total compensation must be in the hundreds of millions. Quite good for a person with a fairly mediocre academic background.
Until the Government publishes the total compensation of Ho Ching over the last sixteen years and how much is due to be paid out to her in the future we can and we absolutely must ignore its attempts to bully us into acquiescence.
Furthermore Factually tries to hide behind the preposterous claim that Temasek is somehow independent. It is an easy mistake to make and i dealt with it in my open letter (see link above) so just follow what I say as I have never had a POFMA and you will not get issued with one if you tread in my footsteps. Factually says the Government holds the Board responsible for Temasek’s performance. Clearly the government appoints the Board and the Management. Lee Hsien Loong is the head of the Government. As I have written in a previous blog in 2012 the members of the Board are all beholden to or have received favours from the Government. Nothing has changed since then. The Chairman is a former PAP Minister and head of NTUC (a PAP controlled organisation). The Deputy Chairman is also from NTUC. Most of the others are civil servants or heads of statutory boards who are appointed by the PM. Robert Ng, the property billionaire and richest man in Singapore (till the Lees disclose their assets), who serves in China’s National People’s Congress, will also rubber-stamp any compensation package for the PM’s wife given that the Government owns 90% of the land.
Not only must the Government come clean about Ho Ching’s total compensation, it must also require her to disclose any funds she and her husband have co-invested with Temasek or any early stage investments she is cut in on. In fact any conflicts of interest or favours must be disclosed. We also demand to know the same about Lee Hsien Loong’s earnings and assets and investments. As Chairman of GIC, he is in a position which is by definition a conflict of interest with his job as PM.
Singaporeans may say we can trust the PM. However we have seen again and again his conflation of his own personal interests with those of the country, in the same manner as his late father. He took an improper discount on his investment in Nassim Jade in 1996 but was then allowed to pay it back because he claimed, despite coming first in Part 2 of the Maths Tripos at Cambridge – not to have realised that the price was discounted. Think about that. He’s our PM and head of GIC and he didn’t realise the price wasn’t in line with the market? Well claiming stupidity worked well for him because he avoided prosecution and having to resign as a Minister. He also sues individuals for defamation in his personal capacity and yet uses the resources of his office, including his press secretary paid for out of public funds, to assist him. In most countries under the Ministerial code of conduct, ministers would be required to step down if they wished to pursue an action for defamation. I have also drawn attention to his use of ST Aerospace’s Gulfstream and questioned whether he has obtained Parliamentary approval for that.
To show how indefensible Factually’s desperate equivocations are, consider this. Having the PM’s wife run Temasek would be like President Trump appointing his daughter Ivanka simultaneously to run Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Disney, J P Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Walmart, United, Delta, American, Exxon, etc. etc. Or the UK PM appointing his girlfriend to be head of the Bank of England, BP, British Airways, the BBC, ITV etc.
While the Government refuses to give us information about how much the PM’s wife is paid out of public funds, about the size of the reserves, about the fake Budget accounting, we have every right to make educated guesses. Keep on guessing folks!