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Why did the govt reveal losses to foreign media but not Parliament?

GIC losses – foreign media more important than Parliament?

Leong Sze Hian

The reply in parliament last month, to the question on GIC’s losses, was that it was “substantially lower” because of its more conservative lower risk portfolio. The actual loss amount was not revealed.

It was only three weeks later, on 5 March, that the figure of 25 per cent was disclosed – and not in Parliament but by the Minister Mentor in an interview with foreign news agency, Reuters. 

The difference between Temasek’s 31 per cent loss, which was made known earlier, and GIC’s 25 per cent is far from “substantially lower”. After adjusting for any injections into GIC’s assets after its assets had reached its peak, is the loss greater than 25 per cent?

Why is it that GIC’s losses cannot be revealed when questions were asked in Parliament – but could be disclosed to a foreign news agency less than a month after the question was asked in Parliament?

Does the government consider a foreign news media more worthy of an answer than our own MPs, and by extension, Singaporeans?

Where is the sanctity of Parliament and its accountability to the people of Singapore?

When the late President Ong Teng Cheong asked how much assets the Government had, he never got an answer because he was told that it would take 56 man-years to obtain the information for him. (See here.)

In an interview with the local media on 17 February 2009, the current president was asked, “When you made the decision [to approve the government dipping into the reserves], did you have the information on like how big our reserves, how much of a draw this would be on the reserves…?” The president replied, “Of course I have. Of course I have.” The media did not report any further elaboration by the president on the information which the president said he has.

Even now, we do not know how much reserves we have left, or exactly how much we have lost?

Why is transparency being released in drips and draps?

If  estimates that GIC’s reserves were about $550 billion, as projected by the Thai newspaper, The Nation, is correct, does it mean that we lost about $137.5 billion, on top of Temasek’s $58 billion?

After taking into account GIC’s 25 per cent loss, how much lower is its 20-year annualised return of 5.8 per cent till March 2008?

As to there being a cabinet paper explaining why Mdm Ho Ching wanted to step down, why was this not disclosed in Parliament last month when we were told that her departure was already in the pipeline for about a year?

Will the details of this cabinet paper be now disclosed to Singaporeans?

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References:

"MM clarifies remarks on Temasek" (ST, Mar 11)

“GIC assets down 25%” (ST, Mar 5)

“Why Ho Ching quit” (ST, Mar 5)

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