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Australian media criticise S’pore – and the Lees

From The Age:

Singapore doesn't really do Parliament, either. It has one, where hand-picked loyalists occasionally convene in a brutal modernist edifice to rubber-stamp edicts from above. In the last election in 2006, the People's Action Party won 82 of 84 seats with a gerrymandered 66 per cent of the trackable votes. Only North Korea, China and (just) Cuba from 1959 outrank Singapore in single-party-rule longevity. Which may explain why average Singaporeans are more likely to know Sony's head office over the people's chamber.

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Conflicts of interest? Not in Singapore, where independent thinking complicates and slows its real business, which is business. Real power at every critical institution in this rich, urgent little place gathers efficiently and pyramidically, peaking at one of the most powerful families in the world, the Lees. And their power prints are everywhere, even at the Singapore Stock Exchange.

It is not corruption - Singapore ranks well on that score - but rather an intimidating (and often intimidated) power network of trusted, well-rewarded hands (cronies?) who know very well what side their bread's buttered and don't step out of line, all easy to manage in a small, highly wired town like Singapore. Compliant Singaporeans don't have to ask or be told what to do, they just know.

Read more here.

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Read also, by the Sydney Morning Herald:

A loathsome deal that should be given bargepole treatment

The Lee family, which runs Singapore's faux democracy, has proved one of the region's most consummate oligarchs.

The Singapore government's paws are over every big enterprise in the island state, which has been described unkindly as a shopping mall with a vote in the United Nations.

When you add up the arms and agencies with holdings and cross-holdings in the exchange, the Singapore government owns more than 30 per cent of the SGX. The exchange's annual report lists as a director Lee Hsien Yang, the second son of old Harry Lee and brother of  Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The state's sovereign investment arm, Temasek Holdings, has a big stake in the exchange, and its chief executive is Ho Ching, the Prime Minister's wife. Temasek is basically owned by the Ministry of Finance.

The regulator of the exchange is the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which doubles as the central bank. It is chaired by former prime minister Goh Chok Tong.

Immediately, there are legitimate perceptions of a conflict of interest as one government instrumentality is supposed to be having oversight of the stock exchange which, in turn, is required to deliver a healthy return to investors, including the government. It is into this carefully confected fiefdom that our securities exchange is being foisted.

Full article here.