This article contains a false statement of fact. For the correct facts, click here: www.gov.sg/article/factually-corrections-on-falsehoods-on-annual-salary-of-temasek-holdings-ceo-ho-ching.
In a Taiwan news show recently, it was reported that Mdm Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, earns about TWD2.1 billion (S$99 million) a year or about S$300,000 a day as the incumbent Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Temasek Holdings.
The news anchors also noted that Singaporeans often discuss Mdm Ho’s annual salary and comment if it is too high.
This report relates back to the recent saga sparked by Mdm Ho’s Facebook post about Taiwan’s donation of face masks to Singapore where she shared a news report and included a caption that simply said, “Errr….”
The post drew flak from Taiwan netizens who found her caption confusing and ask her to explain the meaning of the post, adding that if Singapore doesn’t want the masks, it can reject the offer.
While Mdm Ho’s comment was ambiguous, Singaporeans rushed to defend her on Facebook, with allegations from a pro-PAP fanpage called Singapore Matters claiming that Taiwan had held on to Singapore’s face masks leading to shortage in Singapore.
About two days later, Mdm Ho edited her post to thank “friends and friends of friends in Taiwan” for all they have done, adding that she is “forever grateful”.
She said, “We all know we are in this together as one world – and I’m totally grateful for every one which has reached out, advised, pointed the way, and tried their best to help, sometimes successfully and sometimes not.”
“But that sincere effort and thought, regardless of success or failure, is what I will treasure forever.”
She then added, “And mistakes? Also forgiven, lah!”
She also urged people to stop “trying to beat each other up in cyber space”, stressing that we should “beat” the virus instead and noted that the “bug” can be beaten if everybody pulls together as one an does what needs to be done.
Despite Mdm Ho’s edits to clarify her comment, netizens are still flocking to Facebook to voice their displeasure over her post.
Ho Ching’s salary is question that remains unanswered in Singapore
Now, the question of Mdm Ho’s salary is one that crops up regularly. Back in June 2018, blogger Phillip Ang speculated that it could be somewhere around $100 million a year. Others were speculating as well, guessing at perhaps $24 million or even $1 billion.
Unfortunately, we don’t know for sure if this is true because Temasek Holdings is an exempt private company under the Singapore Companies Act. This means the company is not required to publish its audited statutory consolidated financial statements. It’s even stated on their website.
So really, there’s no way for the public to know for sure how much Temasek’s management makes.
Last year in parliament (8 May), Second Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said that the Government keeps an “arms-length relationship” with GIC and Temasek Holdings, and does not get involved in their operational decisions, such as remunerations.
Mr Wong, who is also Minister for National Development and sits on the GIC’s board of directors, was responding to Workers’ Party Member of Parliament (MP) Png Eng Huat, who asked if there is a salary cap for key management of companies like sovereign wealth fund GIC and state-owned investors Temasek Holding.
The Minister did not reveal the salaries of the top brass at the two firms, and added that instead the Government expects the Boards to hold accountable for their respective performances.
Mr Png had specifically requested for the range of total annual remuneration – which include salary, annual and performance bonuses – of the top three highest-paid executives at GIC and Temasek Holdings over the last five years.
As such, Mr Wong noted that remuneration falls on performance and industry benchmarks, and supports a “prudent risk-taking culture”. In addition, a part of the remuneration at both companies are also tied to long-term performance.
Further pushing for figures, Mr Png said, “These two entities are managing our reserves, and the Government is the sole shareholder. Usually shareholders would know the remuneration packages for the companies they own.”
Despite the push, Mr Wong still refused to divulge the figure and said that there’s a system that is presented to determine compensation. Based on the past performances of these two entities, it shows that the system works, he added.
The system does not solely look at “one or two expense items” like remuneration. Instead, it comprises of a “thorough assessment” to decide long-term expected return, which will then be proposed to the President who will conduct an independent assessment with the help of advisors.