MAS forms council to review Singapore's code of corporate governance

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) building at 10 Shenton Way.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) building at 10 Shenton Way.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has set up a council to review Singapore's code of corporate governance (CG Code), it announced on Monday (Feb 27).

The Corporate Governance Council will be chaired by Mr Chew Choon Seng, former chairman of the Singapore Exchange (SGX), who was also chief executive of Singapore Airlines and chairman of the Singapore Tourism Board.

The CG Code was last reviewed in 2012, when changes were introduced to strengthen board independence and enhance remuneration practices and disclosures.

Saying that corporate governance practices globally have continued to evolve since then, MAS said it has been monitoring market developments and industry feedback on how the CG Code can be improved.

"A review of the CG Code and practices is thus timely to ensure that they continue to support sustained corporate performance and maintain investor confidence in our capital markets," said MAS.

The Council will consider how the "comply-or-explain" regime under the CG Code can be made more effective. This includes improving the quality of companies' disclosure of their CG practices and explanations for deviations from the CG Code.

The Council will also propose mechanisms to monitor the progress made by Singapore listed companies in strengthening their corporate governance practices.

MAS said the current 19 Council members have been drawn from various stakeholder groups to provide a broad and diverse perspective on CG issues.

They include Ms Rachel Eng, deputy chairman of WongPartnership; Mr Douglas Foo, chairman of Sakae Holdings; Dr Gerard George, dean of Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University; Mr David Gerald, president of the Securities Investors Association (Singapore); Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, chairman of United Overseas Bank; and, Ms Michelle Quah, senior correspondent for The Business Times.

Representatives from MAS, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and SGX will also be appointed to the Council.

The Council will also consult the public on its recommendations, including changes to the CG Code, before finalising them.

Council chairman Mr Chew said that Singapore needs to ensure that its CG Code remains relevant and progressive, and supports sustained business growth and innovation. The review of the CG Code will therefore take into account changes in Singapore's corporate landscape as well as international developments.

"With market participants paying greater attention to the corporate governance practices of listed companies, companies are now under increasing pressure to become more transparent and accountable to their stakeholders," he said.

He added: "It is important for our listed companies to go beyond mere box-ticking and boiler-plate explanations. They must be able to engage meaningfully with their stakeholders and implement CG practices that lead to long-term sustainable business performance."