By Leong Sze Hian

Quarrel between transport correspondent and Comfort CEO?

After writing “How much profits should social enterprises make?” (Mar 7), I vaguely remember some controversy about a decade ago, about a newspaper transport correspondent being barred from a company’s functions and all contact with him, because he had written an article about the pay of the  Chief Executive Officer (CEO) being more than a million dollars.

Comfort CEO’s pay was $1.43m?

So, I went to the National Library to search the newspaper archives, and would like to reproduce the following newspaper forum letter on the issue, which may be an interesting read for you:-

“Who is being personal here?

4 October 2002
Straits Times

I REFER to Comfort’s boycott of Business Times journalist Christopher Tan because of his reporting of Comfort managing director Goh Chee Wee receiving $1.43 million in remuneration last year.

Comfort is a publicly-listed company, and Mr Tan was merely reporting on information available in its annual report.

It is in the interest of the investing public, Comfort’s shareholders, taxi drivers, employees, and so on, for such information to be highlighted in the media.

In an e-mail to his managers dated Sept 16, Mr Goh wrote: ‘Christopher Tan of Business Times has made a personal and vicious attack against me in his articles.’

If Mr Goh feels that he has been libelled, he should seek legal redress for defamation.

By barring Mr Tan from all functions of, and contact with, the Comfort group, I think it is Mr Goh who is making a personal attack on Mr Tan.

Are we sending a message to Singaporeans that ifone writes on a sensitive issue, one would be taken to task?

Perhaps the media should boycott Mr Goh and the Comfort group instead.

I, for one, will not be taking any Comfort taxi, until Mr Goh gives an apology to Mr Tan.

I think he deserves one.”

How much do social enterprise CEOs get paid?

If the question raised in 2002 was whether a business that was originally founded as a social enterprise paying its CEO $1.43 million a year was excessive, perhaps the obvious question now, may be to ask how much the CEOs of the 12 NTUC social enterprises are paid today?

From social enterprise to now?

Comfort Group merged with DelGro Corporation to form ComfortDelgro on 29 March 2003.

The Comfort Group had its beginnings in 1970 as the NTUC Comfort taxi cooperative. NTUC Comfort was corporatised and subsequently listed as Comfort Group Ltd on theSingapore Stock Exchange in 1994.

Should public transport be privatised for profit?

Since ComfortDelgro owns 75 per cent of SBS Transit which runs part of the MRT system and has the largest bus network, how different would the public transport landscape in Singapore be, if Comfort  had remained as a social enterprise?


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