Singapore Media Watch

Monday, October 02, 2006

Investment by Singapore tangled in Thai coup - New York Times

Click for full article

By Wayne Arnold
The New York Times
1 October 2006

SINGAPORE Among the many measures of a successful foreign investment, helping to trigger a coup d'état is definitely not one of them.

In hindsight, then, the $1.9 billion purchase of a controlling stake in Thailand's dominant telecommunications conglomerate early this year by a group of investors led by the Singapore government's investment arm, Temasek Holdings, has been less than ideal, say analysts and people close to the deal.

Buying the company, Shin, provoked nationalist outrage in Thailand. Buying it from the family of a prime minister widely accused of corruption, moreover, touched off massive street protests that culminated last month in the ouster of that prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.

"I don't think anyone perceived there would be such political fallout from the deal," said Stephen Bennett, a lawyer at Hunton & Williams in Bangkok who advised Temasek on the purchase.
"They wouldn't have done it had they known this would happen."

On the contrary, Bennett said, political risk did not figure into negotiations. "It wasn't an open-discussion issue," he said.

Thaksin is now in exile in London, Temasek's investment has sunk by almost $690 million, and Thai officials are investigating whether the deal was illegal. Temasek said executives were not available for interviews but issued a statement in response to a list of questions saying it had not violated any laws, was cooperating with investigators and stood by its investment.

"Temasek remains a long-term investor in Thailand, and we believe that the long-term fundamentals of the country remain good," Temasek said in a statement issued through its public relations agency. "We have complied fully with the laws in our investments and will continue to cooperate fully."

Our readers' views:

"Ask the Sporns in the street and at least 70% would stare at you blankly if you ask them if they know what Shin Corp is. Of the remaining 30% who have heard of the deal, 70% would not have an opinion and 29% would 'trust the government'."



Spot on! The average Singaporean doesn't even know about Shin Corp.
Try bringing up the subject with a group, (like I did at a party last Saturday night), and you will find that people are more interested in discussing where to get the best laksa, hokkien mee etc.
As long as they are fuelling their gluttony, their stomachs are bulging and they feel "prosperous", the brain (if any) of the average Singaporean doesn't come into play.


It's easy to criticise based on 20/20 hindsight. But who here saw the coming of a thai coup up to the very day it happened? Or predicted that the shin corp deal will cause the downfall of Thaksin? Not that i'm a fan of HC, but bros here are just tearing away at this "juicy failure" of Temasek without recognizing that they are still human.


The following isn't 20/20 but the facts prior to and leading up to the Shin Corp purchase by Temasek.

1) Thaksin had been under fire for a long time for his nepotism and cronyism.

2) Temasek dabbled in dastardly ways to purchase more than 49% of Shin Corp. Truly vile way that would be made know in due time as Thaksin, unlike some people in Singapore, was being 'investigated' by many elites from the educational and political arenas. Temasek, in fact purchased close to 90% of Shin Corp, way above what Thai law allows, in terms of foreign ownership of a major, local company. Did Temasek really think that they could get away with such a crime?

3) Any purchase of such a large company by a foreign company was going to lead to eyeballs rolling. Temasek has had first hand experience with this in Australia and perhaps other countries too. Nothing too obvious here. Whatever the manner or outcome, there was going to be a big hooh-haah over the purchase. Taking all these known facts into consideration, how else can one explain that Temasek was into the purchase for the long-term??? Who purchases a company for over a billion dollars for the short-term??? The fact that people are hitting against Temasek now isn't based on sour grapes or anything against the Lee empire. It is simply a knowledgeable and righful way to hit out at those that use the country's resources in an irrespoinsible and dubious manner.

And lastly, where is the accountability at Temasek and the government for this debacle??? No transparency is one thing. But coupled with no accountabilty - it seriously becomes a crime against the people of Singapore.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home