by Joseph Nathan
As l read Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement on his appointment of key members for the Review Committee, I find it very troubling. To help make sense, let’s look at it from the corporate perspective:
A major Multi-national company, let’s refer to as SG Inc, recently announced a major technological initiative and let’s call it Smart Nation. Suddenly, there was a series of serious data breaches & lapses at a few of its regional offices. It badly affected many of the operations in those regions. Everyone was alarmed, embarrassed and affected as such occurrences were unprecedented.
Having expended a huge amount of “undisclosed” funding and resources, the Board of Directors (BOD) naturally became very concerned and demanded an account directly from the CEO. The CEO finally decided to fly in, went to the BOD and told them:
“This is very serious and totally unacceptable. I will personally see to it and assure everyone that this problem will be resolved with urgency.”
He then summoned the CURRENT head in charge of the security of those regional offices and put him in charge of the high-powered Review Committee, who in turn appointed the CURRENT senior management of four, who then called up their CURRENT consultants and security experts, who then recommended their international renowned security gurus, and so on and so on…
He then sent his assistant to the BOD with the details of his “wise” plan while continuing to assure them that the Review Committee he had put in place are highly competent and will get the job done before proceeding to the airport.
At the airport, he was surprised to see the BOD and inquired why they were so kind as to be coming all the way to the airport just to send him off. With a broad smile and feeling very relaxed, he was expecting compliments for coming up with such a “wise” plan.
They then told him bluntly: “what do you take us for? Morons with wet ears? If those clowns of yours were as competent as you would like us to believe, we won’t have these problems in the first place. How can you even expect them, or even think that they will impeach themselves for their own shortcomings or failings? How long more do you and those clowns of yours expect us to tolerate these never-ending bullshits?
They then gave the CEO his severance package, expressed their utter disappointment in him and told him to bring all of his clowns with him as they think it is a waste of time to be firing the whole bunch themselves.
The Hard Truth is that such scenarios do happen in the corporate world but their BODs will “deconstruct” such questionable assurances very quickly and decisively put an end to it. It makes no sense. Otherwise, they too become guilty for failing to act professionally or in good faith by risking their organisations to risks of bankruptcy.
I simply cannot understand the logic of such an appointment or as to why no one in the “BOD” of SG Inc is demanding for greater accountability or taking firmer actions against these CURRENT executives. Aren’t those systems that were breached or lapsed part of Smart Nation? Do we even have a BOD overseeing SG Inc in this major undertaking?
We need a firmer “Hire & Fire” policy if we truly want to end the endless issues that are plaguing SG mercilessly. Besides having the word “smart” in our Smart Nation initiative, l seriously don’t see or can honestly equate the current breaches, failures and breakdowns as being smart in any sense or form.
If the “eunuchs”, as illustrated by Philip Yeo, the former head of Economic Development Board (EDB) and A*STAR, are the incurable diseases that are inflicting our current government, is there a real cure or has SG reached an incurable stage?
Politically speaking, do we need to bring in new political-surgeons like Dr Tan Cheng Bock or Professor Paul Tambyah to help remove such cancerous tumour and save SG?
The integrity of an independent Review Committee does matter simply because vested interests in the appointment of the “same old” are already in conflict with its stated objective.
Can we stop these “same old” approaches as SG deserves better accountability?
This was first published on Joseph Nathan-SG Hard Truths’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.