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Thread: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

  1. #41
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    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by Yappy View Post
    The logic is simple.

    If you do not want anything, don't accept it.

    If you take it then you should not complaint!

    Which govt in the world give money to the population. Don't you think it is better to have the monies in their pocket instead.
    Most 1st world government provide social welfare to the unemployed, handicapped and elderly. They also provide essential services such as education and health care for free or a nominal amount.

    Governments exist to serve the population/society at large.
    They do not exist to put monies in their pockets. I will be very worried if you are part of the government.

  2. #42

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    1. Not happy cannot say anything? What kind of logic is that?

    2. Have you heard of unemployment benefits? Welfare? Social security?


    Quote Originally Posted by Yappy View Post
    The logic is simple.

    If you do not want anything, don't accept it.

    If you take it then you should not complaint!

    Which govt in the world give money to the population. Don't you think it is better to have the monies in their pocket instead.
    Last edited by waileong; 23rd January 2008 at 07:40 PM.

  3. #43

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    2. Have you heard of unemployment benefits?
    so what is your stand on unemployment benefits?

    no matter how you put it, unemployment benefits (nothing to do with being unable to work because of disability, mind you).. are a waste of taxpayers' money. sure, we'd all like to have a safety net to catch us when we fall, but there's a thing called personal responsibility in the form of savings.

  4. #44

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by CTN View Post
    We should find another fund manager who can make one cent, and doesn't lose one cent.
    In the financial world, earnings volatility is undesirable, to be avoided.

    On another note, if we have a fun manager who refuses to discuss how many cents he makes or loses, we should not allow him to continue investing. In fact, we should sack him.
    well if he refuses to talk, he can't be very fun, can he?

    but this is not the same as the scenario being discussed. it is more like people pestering the boss to say something about a fund manager who has made one wrong decision, even though he has had a good record in the past (let us all acknowledge that at least). given this, should the boss say something? he can't be right to reprimand the fund manager, after all maybe the fund manager is doing other good stuff, he doesn't only have all his eggs in one basket unlike what most people are painting. he can't be right to say that it's ok either. so what's the best statement? no comment.. i think, will be fair. there is no way you can ever justify how investments go wrong. EVERYBODY invests based on what they think is right. so what's the point of stating the obvious? better to not state it at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    b. It follows from a. that a good fund manager will outperform the market consistently, while a bad one will underperform, or is at best, a random walk. The returns generated by the fund manager can be objectively quantified over any time horizon and can be compared. Risk-weighted if you like.

    c. It follows from the above that there is always a right or wrong for every given investment decision, although it may not be apparent till months or years later.

    d. As to whether it's fair to hold people accountable for something they cannot predict, my view is simple-- you want to make big bucks, you want me to turn over billions of dollars to you to manage, you must be accountable for the bad decisions, even if they were caused by market factors.
    based on the points in red for b & c, what i gather is that you agree that it is only fair to wait and see. it also only fair that an overall picture is garnered instead of just focusing on one slice of the issue.

    then you turn around and say that in d, we should make big noise at one mistake. has the mistake been set in stone yet? is it confirmed that this fund manager is screwed and in the red?

    so - how do you think the performance has been so far for this particular fund manager?

  5. #45

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    That's a separate topic. My point in raising this is simple-- Yappy says our govt is the only one gives out money for free when in fact, they overtax us, thus causing surpluses they can give as "bonuses" according to the size of their HDB flats.

    Other countries tax their people and use it to provide unemployment benefits, people who are really dead in the water.

    So who says ours is the only govt that gives out money to the people?

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    so what is your stand on unemployment benefits?

    no matter how you put it, unemployment benefits (nothing to do with being unable to work because of disability, mind you).. are a waste of taxpayers' money. sure, we'd all like to have a safety net to catch us when we fall, but there's a thing called personal responsibility in the form of savings.

  6. #46

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    That's a separate topic. My point in raising this is simple-- Yappy says our govt is the only one gives out money for free when in fact, they overtax us, thus causing surpluses they can give as "bonuses" according to the size of their HDB flats.

    Other countries tax their people and use it to provide unemployment benefits, people who are really dead in the water.

    So who says ours is the only govt that gives out money to the people?
    overtax us?

    ...you seem to like comparisons. perhaps you should compare our country's taxes to the rest of the world, and bring up strong examples where another country is relatively "lightly taxed". where your unemployment benefits are concerned.. i haven't found a country which provides GOOD COVERAGE as you say, and has low taxes. the equation would not balance.

  7. #47

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    1. I've not pestered the fund manager to say anything. They are not elected officials, they don't have to answer to the people.

    2. I have however stated that Tharman's point is ludicrous-- he is in power because of the people, the govt has to answer when MP's question, not say it's not their pasal to comment. I have even given an example of the answer he could have given-- that the investment is a long term one and the govt will judge it as part of the total returns given by GIC.

    3. I have not said we should make noise at the mistake. I've said we should make noise at Tharman not wanting to say anything.

    4. I have however spent many posts explaining accountability and responsibility. I hope it's clear now that there are no "honest" mistakes in this business.

    5. Frankly, without detailed data from GIC on this issue, who's to judge whether GIC made a mistake? There's only a foreign newspaper report quoted by MP Inderjit Singh. However, it's clear that in some cases (eg Micropolis, Suzhou Ind Park, etc) that mistakes were made, and it's not clear whether anyone was held accountable.

    6. Another example-- IDA lost $1.5B under Mah Bow Tan due to a mistake in not checking with IRAS when paying compensation to Singtel. $1.5 BILLION!!! And they couldn't bother to check with IRAS before payout. In any other truly democratic country, the opposition would be baying for blood, and the Minister in charge (Mah Bow Tan at the time) would have resigned or been forced to resign to save the Govt from embarrassment. Of course, MBT did not resign, neither did CEO IDA. So who was held accountable? Anyone?


    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    based on the points in red for b & c, what i gather is that you agree that it is only fair to wait and see. it also only fair that an overall picture is garnered instead of just focusing on one slice of the issue.

    then you turn around and say that in d, we should make big noise at one mistake. has the mistake been set in stone yet? is it confirmed that this fund manager is screwed and in the red?

    so - how do you think the performance has been so far for this particular fund manager?
    Last edited by waileong; 23rd January 2008 at 09:31 PM.

  8. #48
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    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    overtax us?

    ...you seem to like comparisons. perhaps you should compare our country's taxes to the rest of the world, and bring up strong examples where another country is relatively "lightly taxed". where your unemployment benefits are concerned.. i haven't found a country which provides GOOD COVERAGE as you say, and has low taxes. the equation would not balance.
    Err.... may be Brunei and Saudi Arabia????
    Sony Alpha 700 hobbyist

  9. #49

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    That's the beauty of it. So many taxes are stealth taxes that people believe their tax burden is so light....


    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    overtax us?

    ...you seem to like comparisons. perhaps you should compare our country's taxes to the rest of the world, and bring up strong examples where another country is relatively "lightly taxed". where your unemployment benefits are concerned.. i haven't found a country which provides GOOD COVERAGE as you say, and has low taxes. the equation would not balance.

  10. #50

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by zcf View Post
    Err.... may be Brunei and Saudi Arabia????
    and what do these two countries have in common?

    come on, it isn't that hard. i quote wikipedia, as a side point:

    Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly expressed concern about the state of human rights in Saudi Arabia, although these concerns have been dismissed by the Saudi government.
    yar, their government seems really good

  11. #51

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    That's the beauty of it. So many taxes are stealth taxes that people believe their tax burden is so light....
    stop making unfounded statements with no proof.

    what are your "stealth taxes"? the same applies everywhere else - since we do not live there, there might be super mx100 stealth taxes too which might not be detected and recorded down. this is a ridiculous point, which is surprising coming from you.

    perhaps you can take a look at this.

    singapore is listed as 18% (corporate) , 0-20% (personal) and 7% vat.
    australia - 30% (corporate), 0-45% (personal) and 10% vat.
    bangladesh - 40% / 0-25% / 15%
    ok the list goes on

    basically most of the countries on the list have higher or equivalent. exceptions are saudi arabia (oooh, it is just so special, i wonder why) and hong kong. oops, looks like we are in the majority, but somehow the minority is doing the right job. gotta love the double standards in logic here.

    average developing rates - 29/41/17
    average developed rates - 27/31/15

    nicely below average too. heyyyy but no no no people, it's alright. we have the worst lives in the world. we suffer. we are in pain. of course all this is really, based on reality checks, not absolutely true.. but oh, we shan't bother about that.
    Last edited by night86mare; 23rd January 2008 at 06:39 PM.

  12. #52

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    2. I have however stated that Tharman's point is ludicrous-- he is in power because of the people, the govt has to answer when MP's question, not say it's not their pasal to comment. I have even given an example of the answer he could have given-- that the investment is a long term one and the govt will judge it as part of the total returns given by GIC.

    5. Frankly, without detailed data from GIC on this issue, who's to judge whether GIC made a mistake? There's only a foreign newspaper report quoted by MP Inderjit Singh. However, it's clear that in some cases (eg Micropolis, Suzhou Ind Park, etc) that mistakes were made, and it's not clear whether anyone was held accountable.

    6. Another example-- IDA lost $1.5B under Mah Bow Tan due to a mistake in not checking with IRAS when paying compensation to Singtel. $1.5 BILLION!!! And they couldn't bother to check with IRAS before payout. In any other country, the Minister of Communications would have resigned to save the Govt from embarrassment. Of course, MBT did not resign, neither did CEO IDA. So who was held accountable? Anyone?
    your red and blue points seem to clash.

    on 6 - so you think that resignation of officials is the right way to go when it comes to mistakes? that's like saying that it is correct that a parent should commit suicide if he/she fails in his duty as a parent.

  13. #53

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    1. It does not clash. GIC is accountable to the Govt, and the Govt is accountable to us.

    The Govt should hold GIC accountable for their mistakes.

    But so far, they've never told us if they've held anyone in GIC accountable for their bad investments.


    2. On 6-- so you think nothing should be done? Just let a $1.5B mistake go by? You can keep your view if you wish, but I think it would be a minority view in most democratic countries.

    You appointed somebody to run your company, and he lost $150k of YOUR hard-earned money through a careless mistake. You would just act like nothing happened? You would not sue him? Kick him out of your company? Maybe you are magnanimous, but your fellow investors, the rest of the guys on the board-- I doubt they would be so.


    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    your red and blue points seem to clash.

    on 6 - so you think that resignation of officials is the right way to go when it comes to mistakes? that's like saying that it is correct that a parent should commit suicide if he/she fails in his duty as a parent.
    Last edited by waileong; 23rd January 2008 at 09:46 PM.

  14. #54

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    How would you know I have no proof? Stop your unfounded assumptions.

    This is OT, please start a new thread and we can discuss.

    Anyway-- proof or not, I don't see you accepting anything. Even $1.5B of proof is not enough for you, so what's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    stop making unfounded statements with no proof.

    what are your "stealth taxes"? the same applies everywhere else - since we do not live there, there might be super mx100 stealth taxes too which might not be detected and recorded down. this is a ridiculous point, which is surprising coming from you.
    Last edited by waileong; 23rd January 2008 at 07:38 PM.

  15. #55
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    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    stop making unfounded statements with no proof.

    what are your "stealth taxes"? the same applies everywhere else - since we do not live there, there might be super mx100 stealth taxes too which might not be detected and recorded down. this is a ridiculous point, which is surprising coming from you.

    perhaps you can take a look at this.

    singapore is listed as 18% (corporate) , 0-20% (personal) and 7% vat.
    australia - 30% (corporate), 0-45% (personal) and 10% vat.
    bangladesh - 40% / 0-25% / 15%
    ok the list goes on

    basically most of the countries on the list have higher or equivalent. exceptions are saudi arabia (oooh, it is just so special, i wonder why) and hong kong. oops, looks like we are in the majority, but somehow the minority is doing the right job. gotta love the double standards in logic here.

    average developing rates - 29/41/17
    average developed rates - 27/31/15

    nicely below average too. heyyyy but no no no people, it's alright. we have the worst lives in the world. we suffer. we are in pain. of course all this is really, based on reality checks, not absolutely true.. but oh, we shan't bother about that.
    Hong Kong seem not bad, no GST some moresingapore is listed as 18% (corporate) , 0-20% (personal) and 7% vat.
    Hong Kong 16.5% 0-16% N/A
    Brunei not listed.
    Saudi Arabia citizen couldn't be treat that badly, but they do have problem with slave and foreign helper...
    Sony Alpha 700 hobbyist

  16. #56

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by zcf View Post
    Hong Kong seem not bad, no GST some moresingapore is listed as 18% (corporate) , 0-20% (personal) and 7% vat.
    Hong Kong 16.5% 0-16% N/A
    Brunei not listed.
    Saudi Arabia citizen couldn't be treat that badly, but they do have problem with slave and foreign helper...
    yar, i know, hong kong is the one exception.

    lots of people studying here would rather work in hk than stay in london.. for obvious reasons.

  17. #57
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    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    and what do these two countries have in common?

    come on, it isn't that hard. i quote wikipedia, as a side point:



    yar, their government seems really good

    Eh...I think..best not to use those organisation to back up your case. In fact those organisation like Amnesty International etc they not too happy with our Singapore politcal situation too. heh...

    Okie..back to this fiery debate...it's a good discussion.

  18. #58

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    and what do these two countries have in common?
    OIL = Money = Less Taxes. Nothing to do with political structures.

  19. #59

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    OIL = Money = Less Taxes. Nothing to do with political structures.
    precisely my point, you can't really rope them into the equation

  20. #60

    Default Re: Tharman says not govt's role to comment on GIC, Temasek investments

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    Understand, but please note:

    a. I repeat. This is not about getting things right 100% of the time. I already mentioned I don't expect fund managers to be divine, to predict markets. The test of a fund manager is how he handles the market, including how he manages wrong decisions. (Post #19)

    b. It follows from a. that a good fund manager will outperform the market consistently, while a bad one will underperform, or is at best, a random walk. The returns generated by the fund manager can be objectively quantified over any time horizon and can be compared. Risk-weighted if you like.

    c. It follows from the above that there is always a right or wrong for every given investment decision, although it may not be apparent till months or years later.

    d. As to whether it's fair to hold people accountable for something they cannot predict, my view is simple-- you want to make big bucks, you want me to turn over billions of dollars to you to manage, you must be accountable for the bad decisions, even if they were caused by market factors.

    Why? I hired you to manage things. If the market turned sour, you should have taken the necessary mitigating actions. You should have hedged, you should have cut losses, etc. Don't come and tell me the losses were due to factors beyond your control. I didn't hire you to control the market. I hired you to make money.

    Do people not select fund managers based on their track record? Do people not reward them based on their performance? Why then the hesitation in holding them accountable?

    e. If you think the above is cruel, think of what every ship captain, air captain, etc. goes through. One little mistake, if the ship runs aground or if the plane has a minor accident-- their career is finished. No one will accept that the captain made an honest mistake. Not when thousands of lives are involved.

    Frankly, if you even drive a car in Singapore, the same applies to you. You hurt or kill someone on the road, even if it's an accident, even if it's a mistake, you'll be punished as well. There's no mercy for mistakes. Accountability at your doorstep (or steering wheel).

    f. As for different valuations, the examples you cited is what separates a good fund manager from a lousy fund manager. The data is objective-- sales, EBITDA, etc but it can be interpreted in different ways, and it can be combined with your own estimates of the future potential to come up with a basis for an investment decision.

    The test of a good fund manager is to interpret this data and to make the decision, and then to manage the follow-up actions after the decision has been made.
    Hi,

    I concur with you on most of the following - however, here's some of my own perspectives:

    a,b,c) That's true all right - however, what has been GIC's performance returns on the whole? A short Google showed this, from ST in 2006:

    On average, a return of 9.5 per cent in US dollars was made each year for the past 25 years. In Singapore dollars, the yearly return was 8.2 per cent.

    In real terms, after working in global inflation, the rate works out to 5.3 per cent. These figures on the performance of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) up to March 2006 were made public yesterday by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
    Unless we get more data, it's hard to analyse this in detail - good or bad, it remains to be seen. So I don't think we should pass any judgement calls on their performance based on some successful/failed deals in the past.

    d,e,f) I can't agree more - no matter what the risk is, there needs to be accountability for these fund managers for the investment decisions that they take, regardless of market conditions. This is the real world - if you can't perform, get ready to pack your bags. Hope I wasn't misconstrued in my previous post.

    However, on this whole SWF issue, I feel that there are some gripes on the following aspects (my personal comments though):

    1) Accountability of these SWFs seems to be lackadaisical in the public's eyes. There was a recent ST (or BT?) article commenting about GIC being one of the least transparent SWFs around:

    Mr Truman also revealed that in a 'scoreboard' he had prepared for standards currently observed by 33 SWFs from 28 countries, Singapore's Temasek Holdings ranked above average, while Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) ranked third from the bottom.

    The scoreboard of rankings showed that while no SWF was perfect, those run by New Zealand and Norway topped the list, while the United Arab Emirates' fund was at the bottom. Temasek scored 13.5 out of 25 - above the average score of 10.6 - while GIC scored 2.25.
    Without so little public information about them (from performance to accountability issues), people can only second-guess/analyse on what's going around them, and that can be misleading at times (whether good or bad).

    However, given the context that they are operating in - after all, they are a SWF, and there are a whole lot of other factors (from political concerns to national security), it may be difficult for these SWFs to be as forthcoming as say, the hedge fund around the street.

    Then having said that, I personally think that they shouldn't use this as a reason not to disclose at all - after all, from research, there are SWFs that have managed this better on a relative scale. But to be on the objective side, it's not as straightforward to do so either.

    EDIT: I missed out on your Post #49 - some interesting perspectives there though.
    Last edited by SNAG; 24th January 2008 at 01:34 AM.

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