Rewarding meritocracy

March 30, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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The Rhetoric

“I would single out three important ingredients which have enabled Singapore to achieve today’s standard of living. One is the principle of meritocracy. That allows Singaporeans to strive, to compete and to be rewarded in accordance with their performance.”
PM Goh Chok Tong, Asiaweek, 1996

“Temasek supports, in principle, a performance-linked compensation plan to align management to shareholders’ interest.”
Temasek Holdings, press release, May 2002

The Reality

“Pay linked to performance? You have got to be kidding: One in every two companies making less money now than earlier have actually upped their pay to executive directors. And not by any small amount, but by a staggering 59 per cent.”
Straits Times, Apr 3 2003

“A Straits Times report asserted that there was no clear link between performance and remuneration. It singled out ST Assembly Test Services (Stats) and Chartered Semiconductor as two badly performing companies which nonethesless paid their CEOs, Mr Tan Bock Seng and Mr Barry Waite, 1.32 million and 7.2 million, respectively.”
Streats, Oct 23, 2002

“CapitaLand, which likes to bill itself as South-east Asia’s biggest property player, made a miserly $8.7 million for shareholders in the years 2001 and 2002. It gave almost as much in cash and share options to its directors …CapitaLand shareholders take a risk in putting money into the company. Its directors face no such risk. “
Lee Han Shih, Business Times, Apr 1, 2003