The remuneration package of Temasek’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ho Ching has always been a hotbed of speculation. Most recently, there have been reports that a Taiwanese news media outlet had said that Madam Ho’s salary was apparently $99 million per annum.
As of writing, it has been reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) office to issue four correction directions to The Online Citizen’s Facebook page and website, The Temasek Review’s Facebook page, HardwareZone user “darksiedluv” and opposition politician and lawyer Lim Tean for sharing the falsehood on his Facebook page.
This correction direction is on the basis that the claims that have been made on Madam Ho’s remuneration package are incorrect. However, instead of going through all the trouble of having to issue correction directions, why not just disclose the salary package and put the matter to rest? Until the figure is disclosed, people are realistically never going to stop speculating and guessing.
Ho Ching is the wife of our Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong. She is also the Executive Director and CEO of arguably the most powerful company in Singapore. In itself, her role as CEO had already caused controversy among some as a potential conflict of interest given her relationship with the Prime Minister. That aside, while Temasek is technically a private commercial entity, it does undertake activities that blurs the lines between a sovereign wealth fund and a private enterprise. In view of this, shouldn’t the salary of its management team including that of its CEO be public information?
Singapore has long since made it clear that it will not disclose two things:
1. What we have in our national reserves; and 2. Ho Ching’s salary.
Where state reserves are concerned, the government has indicated that there are national defence reasons for why it has to remain a secret. While that is not a completely convincing argument, at a stretch and perhaps with the remotest of possibilities, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Heng Swee Keat may have a point for refusing to disclose our national reserves . But where Madam Ho’s remuneration is concerned, what reason could there be? It is surely not a state secret
Temasek has since issued a statement to say that chatter about Ho Ching’s salary being around S$100 million is false. It went on to state that “Ho Ching’s annual compensation is neither the highest within Temasek, nor is she amongst the top five highest paid executives in Temasek”.
This is a statement that could cause further speculation. If it is not among the top 5, is it among the top 6 or 8 or 10 and the list goes on.
Given that Temasek performs functions akin to a sovereign wealth fund, the salaries of all of its Board should be made public.
Secondly, given Ho Ching is the wife of our Prime Minister, disclosure of her salary will make her appointment as CEO of Temasek more transparent. Last but not least, just disclosing her salary once and for all will kill speculation and end the “fake news” that surrounds this issue.