The Only Ones Making the Government a Laughing Stock Are Lee Hsien Loong and His Sia Suay Wife
In Parliament on Tuesday, in response to a question from Leon Perera, Indranee Rajah demonstrated yet again the hopeless contradictions of the Government’s use of the Protection from Online Falsehood and Manipulation Act (POFMA) to try and silence speculation about Ho Ching’s salary. She ducked the question how the recent POFMAs are in the public interest and cited as justification that the issue is now sub judice.
As I wrote in a recent blog post, I do not see how the courts can uphold the POFMA on appeal by TOC.
Firstly the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has not provided any facts to refute the contention that Ho Ching is paid $100 million a year. Instead they merely said it is false. According to Justice Ang, given the asymmetry of information between the public and the Government (which speaks to the pressing need for a Freedom of Information Act in Singapore!) the onus is on the state to prove that a statement is false not for the statement maker to prove it is true.
Secondly, POFMA only allows the Ministry to issue a notice if it is in the public interest to do so. The public interest definition undoubtedly means that the statement is likely to diminish “public confidence in the performance of any duty or function of, or in the exercise of any power by, the Government, an Organ of State, a statutory board, or a part of the Government, an Organ of State or a statutory board“.The Government has steadfastly maintained that Temasek is a private company and therefore exempt from accountability to Singaporeans despite the fact that it manages a substantial percentage of the state’s assets Lawrence Wong said in Parliament that Ho Ching’s remuneration is therefore a private matter. If that is the case, and Temasek is really not connected to the Government, then how does speculation about Ho Ching’s salary diminish public confidence in the Government.
Please note that I have not been issued with a POFMA. Until the Government provides us with the true figure, taking account of all bonuses and long-term co-investment plans, I will continue to maintain Ho Ching’s total annual remuneration averaged over the sixteen years she has been CEO has been in excess of $100 million a year, perhaps considerably so.
The only people diminishing public confidence in the Government are Lee Hsien Loong and his sia suay wife. As long as the PM’s wife continues to be head of Temasek on a secret remuneration package and he fails to disclose her salary or his family’s assets, our standards of governance are about at the same level as one of the -stans in Central Asia, Mozambique or Russia, despite the schmoozing the Government’s foreign spin doctors do with gullible or venal Western think tanks and media to manipulate Singapore to near the top of global rankings for transparency.