Even PAP MPs bristle at LKY intervention in SIA

March 10, 2004
Singapore Democrats

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The latest uproar over the SIA bust-up with its pilots’ union has attracted criticism even from PAP MPs (see below). But alas (again), all this will be mere words because there is not a thing anyone can do without a strong Oppositional voice in Parliament.

The Singapore Democrats have issued a statement on the Government’s action against pilot Captain Ryan Goh (see section on Media Release).

Doesn’t this tell us everything about the Government’s empty words about wanting to loosen its control over GLCs and letting Singaporeans have more say in running the business sector?

Ministers have come out swinging against the pilots. Where’s SIA’s management in all this or doesn’t it have a say in how it deals with its own union? Is this the way we are going to proceed on corporate and labour issues, based on Lee Kuan Yew’s out-moded view on management?

Excuse us, Mr Senior Minister, but do you realise that with your continued interference, the Singapore ship is sinking – slowly, maybe, but assuredly.

Govt intervention in SIA, PSA sends wrong signal: MP
Chuang Peck Ming
Business Times
http://business-times.asia1.com.sg/sub/premiumstory/0,4574,110262,00.html?

Government intervention in state-owned companies like Singapore Airlines and PSA Corporation isn’t helpful to what Singapore wants to promote – a reduced government role in business and more competition, Member of Parliament Inderjit Singh said in the Budget debate that kicked off yesterday.

‘In both cases, we see very senior ministers getting directly involved, despite the fact that both companies already have supposedly very strong management teams and boards running them,’ the MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC told Parliament. ‘This is not a good signal and is not in line with what the government has been saying about its role in managing companies owned through its investment arms.’

Mr Singh did not elaborate on the government’s ‘involvement’ in SIA and PSA but Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew was very much in the thick of an effort to settle the recent dispute between SIA pilots and management over wage cuts and other industrial relations issues.

Through investment company Temasek Holdings, the government owns 57 per cent of SIA. It also has substantial stakes in seven of 10 of Singapore’s biggest publicly traded companies, with its stake in them worth about $28 billion.

‘I feel that the government should shed its ‘I know best’ attitude when it comes to the management of these companies,’ Mr Singh said. ‘Many a time, many Singaporeans have given feedback to the government, the latest being the recommendations by the ERC (Economic Review Committee), where the recommendations are for government not to interfere and be involved in business.’

While the government has been receptive to the feedback and recommendations, according to him, it has not shown the will to let go.

‘While many of them are already listed companies, we continue to see the strong influence of the government, including giving helping hands to these companies, hence creating an unlevel playing field to the detriment of the private sector,’ Mr Singh said.