Corporate governance more than just ticking boxes, says Sias

SINGAPORE - Listed companies still have some way to go in improving their corporate governance, the local investors' watchdog said on Monday.

"We must get companies, and occasionally regulators themselves, to see corporate governance beyond just ticking the boxes," said Ms Lim Hwee Hua, honorary chairman of the Securities Investors Association Singapore (Sias) and a former Cabinet minister. 

She told a Sias corporate governance conference that firms could do more to preserve shareholders' interests.

This was echoed by Mr Liang Eng Hwa, chairman of the government parliamentary committee for finance and trade and industry, who said at the conference that listed firms could report financial results faster and do more sustainability reporting.

The conference is part of Sias' fifth corporate governance week, which coincides with the association's 15th anniversary. Sias is run by Mr David Gerald, its president and chief executive.

Ms Lim said in a speech that many companies see corporate governance requirements as an "external imposition rather than an internal drive towards better value creation and responsible stewardship ... However, companies should aim to do better than mere legal compliance."

More companies could take actions such as providing detailed explanations of their dividend policy and including a basic profile of directors seeking election, she said. They can also avoid bundling multiple resolutions together in their agendas at annual general meetings (AGMs).

She added that Sias will embark on a new project to analyse company annual reports, then gather and publish a list of questions for discussion at company AGMs.

Mr Liang also called on more companies to look into providing a fairly new type of report called an integrated report, which he said that more investors would be pushing for soon.