30 October 2006

Temasek Holdings' Tongnoi tangle

Our billion-dollar investment company came close to having a scoundrel as a corporate advisor. In the process, it dragged in the good name of the Thai royal family. Full essay.


Jordan said...

The Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej for decades has been an activist for the poor rural thai farmers,
championing rural development through his Buddhist-inspired economics, stressing self-sufficiency and moderation, opposing even outside interference. The Thai King, himself, has been revered by the Thai people for this.
Here comes along, the renegade PM Thaksin, who sells his Shin Corporation to Temasek Holdings, a Singapore government investment agency.
This was Thailand's biggest corporate takeover and netted PM Thaksin a mind-boggling 73.3 billion baht ($14.45 billion) -- exempt from capital gains tax because the transaction went through the Thai stock exchange.
While the constitution does not allow the king to dissolve government or name a new prime minister , the monarch wields great influence over Thai society. It is an un-written rule of Thai tradition for 800 years to petition to the king to ask him to address his subjects' suffering, even if it is not written in the constitution.
Former PM Thaksin is now in exile in London with his billions, while Thai authorities conduct their own investigations over the controversial sale of the Shin Corporation to Singapore.
Singapore’s Temasek Holdings's buy-out of the Shin coporations have seen a decline in the shares.
Having M.R. Tongnoi Tongyai, a private secretary to His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn,to be an adviser to Temasek Holdings is such a joke, I do not understand how TongYai could even be considered being 'part of Temasek', the same company that bought the ShinCorp?
The Thai Monarchy has to preserve and distance itself from this sale.
This problem is solved. The Thai govt has spoken, and Tongyai is now the 'bad guy', and for that matter... any other Thai who is potentially on Singapore's mind to sit on Temasek's board.
Thailand is of the last countries in the world where a politician—indeed anyone—would want to challenge the king, directly or indirectly. When the palace speaks, everyone listens.
Singapore does not understand the 'way of the Thais'? or has not done its political homework? Whatever the case maybe, the shares are doing badly, the Thais are upset with Singapore buying into Thailand's satelite/media coporations (TV stations/cell/phes)n the Thais are investigating into this controversial sale.
Temasek, in its attempt to gain a 'political foothold' in Thailand may costs them more down the road. it was not a wise or profitable move on the part of Temasek. In fact, it is proving to be an on-going loss for Temasek. And Thailand is not happy.

Anonymous said...

The only one that benefitted is the former PM Thaksin. As Jordan has clearly disclosed, it was 'a political move' that went wrong.

Anonymous said...

'That's a loss, albeit a paper loss, of Baht 43 billion, or S$1.83 billion. Divided by 3 million Singapore citizens and permanent residents, that's S$610 per Singaporean. Multiply that by a family of 4, and that's S$2,440 per family'- YB

Yep, the Singapore taxpayers will foot this one. You have to wonder who runs n makes decisions for Temasek?
One cannot 'buy' from a lackey, when the KING does not even need one's money?
The lackey promises the buyer the 'moon n the stars', but as we can see now- the buyer gets played out. They should hire all of us for advise, we are smarter n cheaper.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

looks someone will need to commit hara kiri

george said...

For all its boast about good governance and transparency, Temasek is now doing a good job teaching others how not to govern and what transparency is not.

This reminds me of a similar irony at the LKY School of Public Policy in NUS which tries to teach the model of good governance in Singapore to its neighbours. Surely, we qualify to be Asia's irony hub.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

I have deleted one comment. It was made anonymously, and it alleged that "no one wants to parade the royal court's dirty laundry in full view of the public, and the Crown Property Bureau was very much involved in the Temasek deal."

It also alleged that "The only thing that was exposed in this surreal story is the extent of royal corruption in Thailand."

Yawning Bread is not the place to make accusations like these, least of all anonymously without a shred of justification.

I have cited the phrases above not because I wish to give them credence, but because I wish to point out that reasonable minds cannot accept accusations like these without better foundation.

Anonymous said...

this comment probably came from a taksin supporter

there are different thai cliques; the palace side thinks it is upholding tradition and refinement versus blatant commercialism; the taksin side thinks it is promoting modernism and democratic processes versus feudalism and mob rule; each side has some valid points

unfortunately, temasek has got itself caught in the cross fire, an outsider gets into deeper water without knowing enough about the undercurrents

Jordan said...

The Temasek/Shin take-over Saga continues...'Oct 28 2006".
Temasek is now under investigation by Thai authorities over its US$3.8 billion takeover this year of the Shin Corp, the Thai telecoms and media group, for allegedly breaching foreign ownership.
Surayud Chulanont, Thailand's new interim PM,even skipped Singapore during a recent tour of south-east Asian capitals.
Thai PM Surayud Chulanont informed Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong that the 'military-backed' government would not intervene in the Thai judicial process over the controversial Temasek Holdings takeover of Shin Corp.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has asked the Thai PM Surayud how the problem can be amicably resolved?
Temasek has facing legal problems over the Bt140-billion takeover because it may have violated laws that prevent foreigners from owning more than 49 per cent stake in local Thai companies.
This is a full-blown political affair for Temasek, putting the Lee family in an awkward position. Ho Ching, the CEO of Temasek, is the wife of Singapore PM Lee.
If Singapore/Temasek is found guilty of violating the Thai law, Temasek would be forced reduce its stake in Shin Corp to below 50 per cent.
This would result in a huge loss for Singapore.
Thailand is not happy, and Singapore will just have to abide by Thai judicial rulings.

Having said that, one has to wonder why the lawyers on both sides of this huge transaction DID NOT ABIDE by Thailand's foreign acquisition laws?

Doesn't one check out the law of any country when one wishes to buy a house or a property in Australia, Bahamas or China for that matter?

Why did the brilliant lawyers that represented Singapore/Temasek not inform their client of how much Singapore buy a stake in a Thai Corporation?
Or did Singapore/Temasek dismissed their legal advise?
One has to agree with Thailand in this case. After all, PM Lee did ask the Thai PM how the problem could be solved?

My question is :
"How did Singapore get into this mess, paying US$3.8 billion $$$ of money to Thaksin, n violating the acquisitions law of Thailand?"

Singapore with all of its President Scholars, and employees with paper qualifications up the ying-yang...they sure do not look too bright from my end.

Anonymous said...

Do Singaporeans have to feel sorry for them?

http://asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=243&Itemid=3 1

Anonymous said...

When will the guys at Temasek ever learn? Guess Thaksin is laughing all the way to the bank.
OVer the last 5 years, Temasek has miserable return of 1% p.s. on its investment of $100 billion. Lost a few hundred millions on Global Crossing, and other telecoms deals in India and Indonesia.

Anonymous said...

Fortune mag of March 20 headline - (First Lady of Finance)Singapore stumbles - Is Ho Ching losing her touch? Temasek underestimated the political fallout of the Shin purchase. Under fire with Indosat, Telkomsel in Indonesia and Idea Cellular in India. Took 62% stake in 2003 in Global Crossing, lost US$336 million in 2004, and another US$278 million in 2005.Took US$700 million write-down in Dao Heng Bank, Hkg. Owned 60% of Chartered Semi-Conductor with losses of more than US$1 billion since 2001. When will these losses stop? Who will pay for it?

Anonymous said...

temasek's performance need to be assessed in two parts; first is the consolidated results of its collection of listed GLCs, which are managed by their own boards and need to face their own public shareholders; Temasek's main task is to choose the right CEOs and board chairmen; second is the privately held investments whose performance must be the responsibility of Temasek management itself

I will leave you to find out for yourself which the list of problems you mentioned belong to

Jordan said...

MM Lee defends Temasek.


'Asked by a student whether Singapore would make any institutional changes to improve accountability, Lee said the country already had sufficient checks and balances."There are very strict internal rules that make sure that there is absolutely nothing underhand. Otherwise, the system would have collapsed long ago. This system exists on the basis of integrity," he said. '

MM Lee did not disclose Singapore's federal reserves. From his statement, PAP is in charge of our finances.

anibodi said...

Thaksin got entangled with Ta-masak and got himself ousted as PM of Thailand.

Tongnoi got entangled with Ta-masak and got himself denounced by the Crown Prince of Thailand.

Looks like, as if anyone who gets entangled with Ta-masak would ultimately meet with his own downfall.

I think, in Thailand today, the word Ta-masak is like what NKF and Peanuts were to Singaporeans in July 2005.

Jordan said...

Ex-PM Thaksin's kids have been ordered to pay $320 million, in taxes and fines over a sale of shares in Shin, and required to pay by March by the Thai authorities.


Guess Thaksin's little munchkins will either have mop floors for a fast-food restaurant, or pay up?
Their whereabouts are unknown to me.

Anonymous said...

Ask any Thai,we are so fed up of KING,S PROPAGANDA.a very UNSAINTLY SAINT.