Andrew Loh / Deputy Editor
Mr Goh Meng Seng, who translated Mr Tan Kin Lian’s speech to Chinese at Speakers’ Corner, later shared his views on the structured products saga. He compared Singapore with Hong Kong, where he spends some of his time.
“We’ve sent in the petitions but so far there have been no response,” he said in Chinese, referring to the three petitions which have been sent to the authorities by Mr Tan so far. Saying that the Hong Kong government has been more pro-active in dealing with similar complaints there, the Singapore government, on the other hand, has been slow to take action on the issue, especially in investigating potential wrong-doings by the financial institutions.
Referring to Hong Kong, Mr Goh said, “The first [thing that the Hong Kong government did] was to set up an independent place for people to complain. They don’t push you to the banks or the financial institutions.”
As to why the Singapore government has not done the same, he said that it is because there are no opposition members to provide a check and balance on the government. “If the government does not want to do it, the Parliament will not say anything,” he told the crowd.
Switching between Chinese and English, Mr Goh urged the affected investors not to give up. If they did, he said, “one social injustice will be done in this instance.” He said that, in his view, there can be only two things which investors can do to get some resolution: one, investors should see their Members of Parliament (MP) and make their complaints known to them. “Go to their Meet the People Sessions,” he said. “Go every week because they have their MPS every week, whether they are MPs from the opposition or the ruling party!”
The second option, he said, is to take the legal route and go to the courts. However, he said that would not be the preferred course of action. “Once this issue reaches the courts, it will not only affect the financial institutions but also Singapore’s reputation as a financial hub.” He advised that legal action must be the last resort as it also can be very costly.
Mr Goh added, “At this moment, we do not have any alternatives. We have exhausted all our alternatives, even those [given] by the government and MAS.” He asked if investors still have confidence in the authorities. “A lot of people have come to me and said they do not have confidence in them.”
Getting to the bottom of the issue is in Singapore’s interest, he explained. “[It] helps us to be stronger as a financial hub in future,” he said in English. “You cannot base [being] a financial hub merely on money, you cannot base [being] a financial hub which only takes care of the financial institutions because the confidence is not merely from them. It’s also from the investors.”
“You want to be financial hub of this region, you have to keep the confidence of not only the financial institutions but also investors like all of you,” he told the audience.
“So you have to pressure the government to do what is right,” he said. “A full investigation into the issue.
Videos of Mr Goh's speech: