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4 Heads Rolling vs 4 Heads Remaining 

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For those of us, in increasing numbers one hopes, who have cut off our ST subscriptions in favour of higher-rated Reporters Sans Borders news sources, we would have read of 4 prominent C-suite employees who lost their jobs this week.


First World Accountability: Off With Their Heads!
The first on the list are Deutsche Bank (DB) co-CEOs Anshu Jain, a longtime investment-banking executive, stepping down at the end of June and Jürgen Fitschen, who plans to next May. (link) To be fair, both are leaving honourably and not giving marching orders.

The reasons for taking, some would say, the hara-kiri step is reportedly shareholders’ unrest over the bank’s strategy. Also, DB has been hit by various penalties, including a £1.7bn fine over the Libor scandal. Also noteworthy, during their three years tenure, DB’s shares have underperformed against Germany’s Dax index. (link)


Next, CEO Mr Antony Jenkins. Barclays’ Chairman, Mr McFarlane, applauded Mr Jenkins’ role in steering Barclays through the aftermath of the financial crisis, and through the fallout of Barclays’ management shakeup three years ago. But he also said that Mr Jenkins’ skill set had been suitable when he took the top post, but that the firm’s needs had changed. (link)

Mr Jenkins had performed credibly. Barclays share price tracks that of the FTSE. Furthermore, he had honourably waived his annual bonus for 2013 – as he did in 2012. His was a deliberate choosing in favour of staking his fortunes with his own publicly-measured performance via 1.9m shares in 2014.

Still, he is not spared his job when the board considers his use-by date.

Barclays' share price performance vs others & FTSE

A civil servant rounds up our hit list. Baltimore’s mayor sacks the city’s police chief, Anthony Batts, saying his leadership had become a distraction from fighting a “crime surge”. This, 3 months after riots hit the city in April when Freddie Gray, a black man, died after suffering injuries in police custody. Six officers were charged. Mayor Rawlings-Blake says Mr Batts had “served this city with distinction” since becoming police chief in October 2012. But the city has seen a sharp increase in violence since April, with 155 homicides this year, a 48% increase over the same period last year. (link)

Singapore Accountability: In Status Quo (ISQ)
(Recently blessed with a temp job as a data entry clerk assisting psychiatrists in a local institution, I learn a new abbreviation, ISQ, Latin equivalent of ‘no change’, refering to medical prescriptions.)

In no order of priority and some of the most relevant details, here’s our Singapore list of 4 C-suite honchos who continue to enjoy the fats of their million$ salaries and undisclosed perks – while by the normal First World metrics, underperforming.

Mr Ng Yat Chung , CEO, NOL, since Oct 2011
– Prior to joining NOL, Mr Ng was a Senior Managing Director at Temasek.
– Under NOL share price has hovered around the S$1 mark (link) , reported losses in every of the last 3 FY and still reporting losses in the latest quarter. Maersk share price, on the other hand, double from Oct 2011 to Mar 2015 before trading at about +55% gain from Oct 2011. (link)
*ex-Chief of Defence Force.

Mr Desmond Kuek, (need we state his job title?)
– Given SMRT’s spectacular 7-7-7 (7 July 7pm) ‘once-in-50-year’ occurrence, dual NS & EW lines breakdown, no need to discuss his performance since he answered the patriotic call of his minister to helm SMRT on 1 Oct 2012.
*ex-Chief of Defence Force.
Mr Liu Tuck Yew, Minister of Transport since 21 May 2011
– No need to discuss details and performance.
– Interesting to note: Apparently his ex-Brigader General boss, PM Lee, assessed that he did well in Transport, very well actually and possessing the energy, time for the additional workload of 2nd Defence Minister in Apr 2015.
*ex-Chief of Navy

Mr Chew Meng Leong, CEO, LTA since 1 Oct 2014.
– Prior immediate appointment, CEO PUB.
– Interest to note: Beside leading LTA to oversee SMRT, his LTA has been busier thinking up 60 more CCTV locations to catch those who park illegally. (link) And CCTVs at bus stops to assess crowd levels to enable timely measures such as schedule adjustments. (link) Mr Chew has obviously forgotten the dumb onboard cameras SBS installed to ‘catch’ bus lane offenders, only to dump same later. Now, with bus stop cameras, LTA has to pay for dedicated equipment & and staff to monitor the cameras. Here’s a simple alternative idea; just instruct bus drivers and stranded passengers to call an existing hotline to report instances of sardine-packed bus services, real time? Higher productivity, faster response instead of taxpayers footing expensive cameras, system and needless manpower.
*ex-Chief of Navy.

The reason for all these IRON RICE BOWL appointments are varied. But it is easy to trace that not since Lim Chee Onn was brought to the cleaners and bumped off his ministerial and NTUC Sec-Gen appointment by LKY in 1983 has there been a similar accounting for failures at the highest levels of Singapore leadership. Consider the thinking behind PM’s response to the escape of our very own worldclass terrorist-son, Mas Selamat; “This was a lapse. What to do. It’s happened…” (Apr2008) No C-suite heads rolled. That must be the reference mark of the slow-forming culture of post-LKY Singapore-style accountability for public servants. But then some have also suggested that LKY changed his own high standards of public accountability over time…

A second common thread would be either PAP or Temasek in control of these plumb appointments such that no private citizens or group can effect any change whatsoever –except when it serves PAP or Temasek to do so.

But let’s all be positive. There is a silver lining in our Siingapore-style accountability. Perhaps, talents and honourable men like Mr Jain, Mr Fitschen, Mr Jenkins and Mr Batts will apply to Singapore jobs as Foreign Talents on E-passes if they prefer a more secured job without the prospect of an embarrassing exit.

Will that happen? Or is it more likely that 2nd, 3rd, no, or, O wow! fake grade Foreign Talents have been, still are and will continue making a beeline to Singapore to, in the PM own words, ‘help create good jobs for Singaporeans’, when all about him is evidence that more PMETs who need those good jobs are losing our pants?

Law Kim Hwee


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