Friday, October 20, 2006

Enough To Make One Puke

Elitist Wee Shu MinEver peered into the mind of an elite?
RJC student Wee Shu Min has the "perfect" pedigree: student from the Gifted Education Program program, topped O-levels in Singapore in 2004, PM's Book Prize winner, her dad is an "elected" Member of Parliament (Ang Mo Kio GRC's Wee Siew Kim).... the list goes on. Yes, she could be someone who is expected to join the top echelons of the civil service and possibly get co-opted into politics to run the country some day. And this is what she wrote in her blog ( before it was hastily taken down:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

mom's friend sent her some blog post by some bleeding stupid 40-year old singaporean called derek wee (WHY do all the idiots have my surname why?!) whining about how singapore is such an insecure place, how old ppl (ie, 40 and above) fear for their jobs, how the pool of foreign "talent" (dismissively chucked between inverted commas) is really a tsunami that will consume us all (no actually he didn't say that, he probably said Fouren Talern Bery Bad.), how the reason why no one wants kids is that they're a liability in this world of fragile ricebowls, how the government really needs to save us from inevitable doom but they aren't because they are stick-shoved-up-ass elites who have no idea how the world works, yadayadayadayada.

i am inclined - too much, perhaps - to dismiss such people as crackpots. stupid crackpots. the sadder class. too often singaporeans - both the neighborhood poor and the red-taloned socialites - kid themselves into believing that our society, like most others, is compartmentalized by breeding. ridiculous. we are a tyranny of the capable and the clever, and the only other class is the complement.

sad derek attracted more than 50 comments praising him for his poignant views, joining him in a chorus of complaints that climax at the accusation of lack of press freedom because his all-too-true views had been rejected by the straits times forum. while i tend to gripe about how we only have one functioning newspaper too, i think the main reason for its lack of publication was that his incensed diatribe was written in pathetic little scraps that passed off as sentences, with poor spelling and no grammar.

derek, derek, derek darling, how can you expect to have an iron ricebowl or a solid future if you cannot spell?

if you're not good enough, life will kick you in the balls. that's just how things go. there's no point in lambasting the government for making our society one that is, i quote, "far too survival of fittest". it's the same everywhere. yes discrimination exists, and it is sad, but most of the time if people would prefer hiring other people over you, it's because they're better. it's so sad when people like old derek lament the kind of world that singapore will be if we make it so uncertain. go be friggin communist, if uncertainty of success offends you so much - you will certainly be poor and miserable. unless you are an arm-twisting commie bully, which, given your whiny middle-class undereducated penchant, i doubt.

then again, it's easy for me to say. my future isn't certain but i guess right now it's a lot brighter than most people's. derek will read this and brand me as an 18-year old elite, one of the sinners who will inherit the country and run his stock to the gutter. go ahead. the world is about winners and losers. it's only sad when people who could be winners are marginalised and oppressed. is dear derek starving? has dear derek been denied an education? has dear derek been forced into child prostitution? has dear derek had his clan massacred by the government?

i should think not. dear derek is one of many wretched, undermotivated, overassuming leeches in our country, and in this world. one of those who would prefer to be unemployed and wax lyrical about how his myriad talents are being abandoned for the foreigner's, instead of earning a decent, stable living as a sales assistant. it's not even about being a road sweeper. these shitbags don't want anything without "manager" and a name card.

please, get out of my elite uncaring face.

In the inevitable tsunami of backlash from furious interneters, her father MP Wee did no better than her precious elitist daughter by declaring that:

"What she said did come across as insensitive. The language was stronger than what most people could take.
But she wrote in a private blog and I feel that her privacy has been violated. After all, they were the rantings of an 18-year-old among friends.
I think if you cut through the insensitivity of the language, her baic point is reasonable, that is, that a well-educated university graduate who works for a multinational company should not be bemoaning about the Government and get on with the challenges in life.
Nonetheless, I have counselled her to learn from it. Some people cannot take the brutal truth and that sort of language, so she ought to learn from it.
I will not gag her, since she's 18 and should be able to stand by what she says.
The new media of the internet is such that if you don't like what she has said, you have the right of rebuttal.
Hopefully, after the discussion, everyone will be the richer for it. As a parent I may not have inculcated the appropriate level of sensitivity, but she has learnt a lesson, and it's good that she has learnt it at such an early stage in life."

RJC principal Winston Hodge put out a more palatable statement:
"We are disppointed with Wee Shu Min's comments on Mr Derek Wee's posting on the Web.
We have counselled Shu Min and have converyed to her the importance of sensitivity and empathy, qualities that she should have exercised in her response to Mr Wee.
We are confident that she has learnt from this experience and will the wiser for it."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A History of Defamation

The Writ of Summons served by Lee Kuan Yew (NRIC S0000003E) on FEER and Hugo Restall includes in Appendix A a list of the Defamation suits covering 1965 to present. The Writ is issued by DREW & NAPIER LLC, which is the law firm of Davindar Singh and Hri Kumar, both affiliated with ruling party PAP as former and current Members of Parliament.

Proceedings: 720 and 721 of 1965
Defendants: Tan Sri Syed Ja'afar Albar, Utusan Melayu, Editor of Utusan Melayu
Gist of Offensive Words:
That the Plaintiff is acommunist who is out to destroy Malaysia
Result: Settled. Defendants apologized and paid indemnity costs.

Proceedings: 2647 of 1972
Defendants: Barisan Socialis Malaya, Yeo Ah Ngoh (Editor of Barisan News), Dr Lee Siew Choh
Gist of Offensive Words:
That the Plaintiff behaves like a gangster and scoundrel. He uses tactics such as long term detention and brutal treatment against those who oppose him.
Result: Judgement. Damages of $50,000/-

Proceedings: 219 of 1977
Defendants: Teng Ah Boo
Gist of Offensive Words:
That the Plaintiff is corrupt. He uses his postion to obtain favours for M/s Lee & Lee
Result: Judgement. Damages of $100,000/-

Proceedings: 1023 of 1972
Defendants: Chan Yang Ling
Gist of Offensive Words:
That the Plaintiff is corrupt. He uses his position to obtain favours for his brother and M/S Lee & Lee.
Result: Judgement. Damages of $65,000/-

Proceedings: 28 of 1977
Defendants: J B Jeyaratnam
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff is guilty of corruption and nepotism. The Plaintiff had procured the grant of favours to M/s Lee & Lee and his family.
Result: Judgement. Damages of $130,000/-

Proceedings: 1025 of 1977
Defedants: Hwang BAn Cheong
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff is corrupt. The Plaintiff had procured the grant of favours to M/s Lee & Lee
Result: Judgement. Damages for $65,000/-

Proceedings: 9332 of 1984
Defendants: Seow Khee Leng
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff is corrupt.
Result: Judgement. Damages for $250,000/-

Proceedings: 230 of 1985
Defendants: Dr Lee Siew Choh
Gist of Offensive Words:
That the Plaintiff covered up the investigations into Phey Yew Kok. That the Plaintiff is corrupt.
Result: Settled. Damages of $30,000/- and an apology.

Proceedings: 231 of 1985
Defendants: Quek Teow Chuan
Gist of Offensive Words:
That the Plaintiff has embezzled public funds.
Result: Judgement. Damages of $400,000/-

Proceedings: 3336 of 1987
Defendants: Derrick Gwyn Davis, Publisher of FEER, Printer of FEER, Author of article
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff had threatened to use the ISA against 4 Catholic priests; that the Plaintiff was against the Catholic Church.
Result: Judgement. Damages of $230,000/-

Proceedings: 1754 of 1988
Defendants: J B Jeyaratnam
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff had encouraged the suicide of Teh Cheang Wan for the improper purpose of covering up an embarassing scandal to the government and the PAP.
Result: Judgement. Damages of $260,000/-

Proceedings: 1488 of 1994
Defendants: Executive Editor (Vinocur), Chief Executive, Publisher and a journalist of the International Herald Tribune
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff was guilty of nepotism
Result: Judgement. Damages of $300,000/-

Proceedings: 1974 of 1994
Defendants: Executive Editor,Editor for Asia,Publisher and and journalist of the International Herald Tribune
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff sought to suppress legitimate and democratic political activity in Singapore by the subtle means of suing political political opponents for defamation, and relying on a compliant judiciary to grant judgements in his favour.
Result: Judgement. Damages of $300,000/-

Proceedings: 1116 of 1996
Defendants: Tang Liang Hong, Editor, proprietors, publishers and printers of Yazhou Zhoukan
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff was guilty, or reasonably to be suspected, of corrupt or otherwise criminal conduct in respect of the purchase of private properties in 1995
Result: Judgement. Damages of $550,000/-

Proceedings: 172 of 1997
Defendants: Tang Liang Hong
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff was guilty of misconduct in relation to the HPL issue and that this would be his "death blow".
Result: Judgement. Damages of $250,000/-

Proceedings: 2523 of 1996
Defendants: Tang Liang Hong
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff had committed criminal offences by defaming Tang and assassinating his character.
Result: Judgement. Damages of $270,000/-

Proceedings: 181 of 1997
Defendants: Tang Liang Hong
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff had abused the process of the Court by suing Tang for defamation.
Result: Judgement. Damages of $200,000/-

Proceedings: 182 of 1997
Defendants: Tang Liang Hong
Gist of Offensive Words:
The Plaintiff had lied to Nanyang University students when he assured them that they would not be arrested.
Result: Judgement. Damages of $230,000/-

Proceedings: 1459 of 2001
Defendants: Chee Soon Juan
Gist of Offensive Words:
That the Plaintiff was dishonest, unfit for office and has misled Parliament.
Result: Settled. Apology and damages.

Proceedings: --
Defendants: Bloomberg
Gist of Offensive Words:
That the Plaintiff had procured the appointment of Mdm Ho Ching as the Executive Director of Temasek Holdings Ltd and was guilty of nepotism.
Result: 1. Published apology on its website. 2. Paid damages; and 3.Indemnified the Plaintiff for costs.

Proceedings: --
Defendants: The Economist
Gist of Offensive Words:
That the Plaintiff condoned the appointment of Mdm Ho Ching to Temasek Holdings Ltd, not on merit, but for corrupt nepotist motives for the advancement of the Lee family.
Result: 1. Published apology on its website. 2. Paid damages; and 3.Indemnified the Plaintiff for costs.

Proceedings: --
Gist of Offensive Words:
That the Plaintiff had corruptly and improperly caused Temasek Holdings Ltd to be owned and managed for the benefit of his family.
That the Plaintiff was dishonest and unworthy of the high office he held and continued to hold in that he behaved corruptly and improperly despite taking the public stand in support of clean, corrupt free Government in Singapore.
Result: 1. Published apology on its website. 2. Paid damages; and 3.Indemnified the Plaintiff for costs.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Truths About Temasek

The Temasek Holdings representative wrote the following letter in response to a letter to the forum, maybe she should also address the concerns of the deputy secretary general of the Democrat Party, Korn Chatikavanij.

"I REFER to the letter, 'Did Temasek take unnecessary risk?' (ST, Oct 14).

As a long-term international investor, Temasek complies fully with the laws and regulations in the different jurisdictions we invest in.

Our investment in Shin Corp in Thailand is no different. It was based on commercial principles and was consistent with best practices in international mergers and acquisitions.

Following advice from our legal and financial advisers, the consortium, which included Thai co-investors, completed its purchase and General Tender Offer in accordance with market practices and in compliance with the laws and regulations of Thailand, including guidelines imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Our investment in Shin Corp was not predicated on which government was in power. Temasek is investing for the long term, and therefore factors possible changes in government in our investment considerations.

In March, almost all of the remaining shares were tendered to the consortium at the close of the General Tender Offer. Post the tender offer, the consortium owns 96 per cent of Shin Corp. This was far beyond anyone's expectations.

The consortium has said that it would like to keep Shin Corp listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. This means that we would like to reduce our shareholding in Shin Corp at the appropriate time and in an appropriate manner for orderly market conduct.

This intention remains unchanged. Indeed, Temasek believes it is good for listed companies to have a healthy float of retail public and strong institutional shareholders.

As an investment house anchored in Asia, we are convinced that it makes sense for us to re-invest in Asia to grow together. We look forward to playing a constructive role as a responsible long-term investor in the various communities in the region."

Myrna Thomas (Ms)
Managing Director
Corporate Affairs
Temasek Holdings

The Thai perspective
Was it a professional and proper transaction, as Singaporean leaders claim?
By Korn Chatikavanij, deputy secretary general of the Democrat Party. The Nation, Oct 12, 2006

I think it is fair to say that there are many questions that need to be answered before we can conclude, as Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong did on Friday, that the Shin Corp transaction was "professional and proper".

Indeed, I would be surprised if, in spite of his rhetoric, Lee would be genuinely satisfied that the deal's due diligence process was of the quality that he has the right to expect from Temasek, a lead investor for Singapore Inc.

If we were to accept statements by Khun Boonklee Plangsiri, Shin's chairman at the time of the deal, then the management of the underlying companies was not involved in due diligence.

Khun Boonklee declared right up to the announcement of the transaction that management was not aware of any discussions taking place regarding a sale.

Either way, Temasek is at fault. Conducting due diligence on the senior management of a target firm is usually the top priority in a friendly takeover deal, as it is the easiest and least costly way of finding out how a company is being run and what its prospects are. This is a no-brainer in any M&A practitioner rulebook.

Assuming Khun Boonklee was telling the truth about the lack of due diligence involving Shin and its subsidiaries, the implications for Temasek's investment procedures must surely be a cause for concern for Lee.

The Singaporean public, whose money has been entrusted to Temasek to manage, must also be worried. This can only mean that Temasek went into this deal with no idea about the internal affairs or the financial health of Shin and its subsidiaries.

Temasek may not even be aware of the legal case pending in the Administrative Court regarding ITV's concession payments. Simple, legal due diligence would surely have led to potential liabilities at least being shared with the prospective sellers.

Information that is publicly available could be inaccurate and out-of-date. Temasek also completely missed the Thai Air Asia ownership requirement.

Those are issues that call into question claims that the deal was "professionally" handled. But there are even bigger questions relating to whether the deal was "proper".

The word "proper" can mean "correct according to procedures" or, more commonly, it is taken to mean "decent or ethical". This definition raises some issues:

1 Lee has himself acknowledged that in the months leading up to the share purchase, Thaksin's dirty laundry was already being hung out for all to see.

Temasek should therefore have been aware that many people would perceive the deal as the acquisition of "tainted goods". Singaporeans should certainly be asking Temasek whether it is proper for their national reserves to be used in that way.

2 In setting up convoluted structures to buy shares, Temasek would have been fully aware that they were relying on legal advice to take advantage of what at best were loopholes in the Thai Alien Business Law and in the Thai definition of "foreign". Again, would Lee confirm that taking advantage of loopholes that are clearly against the spirit of the law in Temasek's modus operandi?

3 Having made the purchases, Temasek was obliged by Thai law - which is not dissimilar to Singapore law in any respect - to treat minority shareholders fairly by buying shares from them at the same price Temasek paid to the major holders in what is known as the General Tender Offer.

Again Temasek failed to do that. Temasek asked Thailand's SEC for a waiver against having to tender for shares from minority holders of two of Shin's listed subsidiaries, Shinsat and ITV. Temasek's reason was that these companies were not the "real" targets of the acquisition.

Subsequent to that, Temasek made an offer to minority holders of AIS - the declared target - that was a full 30 per cent below the market price of AIS's share on the day of the original transaction.

That Thailand's SEC allowed Temasek to do this is a separate issue that I hope will soon be dealt with. The fact that Temasek clearly offered a price far below the implied price paid to the Shinawatra family clearly cannot be considered "proper".

Indeed, when JP Morgan was asked to give independent advice to minority shareholders in AIS, it said Temasek's offer was "unfair".

Moreover, it should be pointed out that though Shinsat and ITV were not the "real" targets, control has nevertheless changed hands and minority shareholders were deprived of their right to exit.

The new owners have been entirely silent as to their intentions towards the companies they "unintentionally" acquired. It has been more than nine months, and ITV has lost more than 70 per cent of its market value since the beginning of the year. Many minority shareholders who were cheated by the process are still waiting for an answer.

4 Last but not least, Temasek is aware that neither Thaksin Shinawatra nor his wife Pojaman had any right to act on behalf of Shin as decision makers. We are led to believe by Thaksin that all decisions and negotiations were made by his children - something that is entirely unbelievable.

Thaksin's eldest son has gone on record to say that the decision to sell Shin was made by his "elders". If Thaksin or his wife were those "elders", then there will be serious repercussions. It is a serious crime for the prime minister and his spouse to engage in undeclared private business.

The premier's role is to uphold the interest of the general public, not the interest of his purse. It cannot by any stretch be considered proper for Temasek to have knowingly negotiated a transaction in a way that was unconstitutional.

More importantly, such a deal would be improper, if not illegal, given the controversy surrounding the deal, for Temasek to remain silent on the issue.

In my perhaps naive opinion, I think the best course of action for Temasek would be to come clean on all issues relating to the deal and the true nature of its Thai "partners".

This would be the start of a more transparent relationship between our two countries. In Thailand, our willingness to forgive and compromise knows no bounds.

One reason why the situation has gone from bad to worse for Temasek is the company's reluctance to be up-front. Coming clean would be the most "professional" response to mistakes made, and certainly the most "proper" one under such circumstances.

It would also help ameliorate any misunderstanding arising from the Shin deal, and serve as a gesture of goodwill between the two countries. After all, Singapore and Thailand have been and will continue to be major partners in the world economy.

B Korn Chatikavanij

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

An Apology, Kind Of

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had sought to find out why Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had made certain remarks recently about the state of ethnic Chinese in Malaysia. On 2 Oct 2006, Mr Lee wrote back to Mr Abdullah, to explain both the context and the reasoning behind what he had said. The following is the text of his letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

Thank you for your letter of 25 September 2006.

I made the remarks in a free-flowing dialogue session with former US Secretary of Treasury Larry Summers before many foreign delegates attending the IMF/WB meeting.

To put what Reuters reported into context, I set out the transcript of the relevant passage:

"Let me sum it up nicely, why you must have a government in Singapore which is really firm, stout-hearted, subtle and resolute. My neighbours both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful, they are hardworking and, therefore, they are systematically marginalised, even in education. There are quotas to prevent you. So, you've got to make money to go abroad or go to one of the private universities which are being set up. And they want Singapore, to put it simply, to be like their Chinese, compliant. So, every time, we say 'No' to some scheme to knock down the Causeway and build a bridge, he says, 'Oh, you're not cooperative, you're only thinking of yourself'. For no rhyme or reason, we knock down a causeway, nearly 100 years old, which served us well. He wants to build a bridge because it looks pretty and he says ships will sail and his containers can move from the East Coast to the West Coast via this. But we saw no ... So, we said, "All right, if you give us commensurate benefits, we'll agree". But you need a government who'll be able to, not only have the gumption, but the skill to say 'No' in a very quiet, polite way that doesn't provoke them into doing something silly."

On the bridge and the half bridge to remove the Causeway, you made the position of your government clear that Malaysia respects legally binding agreements and acts in accordance with international law. This made unnecessary a reference to ITLOS and the International Court of Justice that would otherwise have been unavoidable. This respect for the law is the basis for sound long-term relations between us.

I was explaining to a liberal audience of westerners who wanted to see a stronger opposition in Singapore why Singapore needs a strong majority government, not a weak coalition that will hamper us in defending our national interests.

Singapore needs a strong government to maintain good relations with Indonesia and Malaysia, and to interact with Indonesian and Malaysian politicians who consider Singapore to be Chinese, and expect Singapore to be 'sensitive' and comply with their requests.

On numerous occasions UMNO leaders, including Dr Mahathir and many others, have publicly warned Malaysian Malays that if they ever lose power, they risk the same fate as Malays in Singapore, whom they allege are marginalised and discriminated against. And from time to time when Malaysian politicians attack Singapore fiercely over some bilateral issue, some of them tell us privately that we should just accept this as part of Malaysian politics and not react to these attacks.

Singapore understands the reality of Malaysian politics. We have never protested at these attacks on our multi-racial system or our policies, except to clarify our own position when necessary. But we have to explain to our people the root cause of these difficulties in our bilateral relations. Otherwise Singaporeans will believe that their own government is doing wrong, either to our own people or to Malaysia.

As for the international audience, with so many foreign embassy staff and foreign correspondents reporting on Singapore and Malaysia, plus tens of thousands of expatriate businessmen working in our two countries, these people will come to their own judgement of the true position regardless of what I say.

I have not said anything more than what I have said many times before. In fact I have said less than what I had written in my memoirs published in 1998. I had no intention to meddle in your politics. Indeed I do not have the power to influence Malaysia's politics or to incite the feelings of the Chinese in Malaysia.

Since you took over as Prime Minister in November 2003, relations between our two countries have much improved. Singaporeans and, I believe, Malaysians too, appreciate this.

I am sorry that what I said has caused you a great deal of discomfort. After a decade of troubled relations with your predecessor, it is the last thing I wanted.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore has also moved to placate Indonesia after similar comments made by Lee Kuan Yew on Jakarta's treatment of its ethnic Chinese, a Singapore official has said.

Indonesia summoned Singapore's ambassador last week to seek clarification of reports that Lee had told a forum that ethnic Chinese minority communities in Indonesia and Malaysia were being systematically marginalised.

In a diplomatic note, Singapore said it had no wish to interfere in Indonesia's domestic affairs and was aware of the improving situation for Chinese in Indonesia, Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Yuri Thamrin told AFP.

"So (the note) was about acknowledgement of the positive situation in Indonesia with respect to the Chinese, and the second point is that there was not at all any intention to interfere domestically," he said.

"There is a wish to maintain good relations with Indonesia," he added.

The spokesman said that the remarks had not taken into account "the changing situation in Indonesia, and that's why we were a bit confused".