Government must get out of business

February 8, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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The Singapore Democrats repeat our call for the PAP Government to divest its business interests and get out of the corporate sector.

First, the Government business performance is woeful as indicated by Temasek’s

total shareholder return of 1 percent over five year compared to 2.7 percent for the Straits Times Index.

Second, whenever GLCs venture overseas to make acquisitions, they are met with suspicion and hostility such as in Hong Kong (Cable & Wireless Hong Kong Telecommunications), Malaysia (Time Engineering), Australia (Cable & Wireless Optus) and now Thailand.

In the latest incident, Temasek’s buying of Shin Corp’s shares owned by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is unnecessarily stoking anti-Singapore sentiment in Thailand. This affects private Singaporean businesspeople who are there to conduct honest-to-goodness trade.

And even when deals are successful, there are questions about GLCs overpaying for them and getting questionable returns.

In addition, business conducted by the PAP Government is done with little transparency and accountability. The GIC refuses to make public its profits and losses even though it is using public money for its operations.

The sooner it is realised that the Government’s direct and extensive involvement in business is hindering not enhancing Singapore’s economic performance, the faster Singapore can get on with the business of constructing an economic strategy based on regard for the well-being of the people, not the ruling elite.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party