Opposition rallies

Chee calls for GIC, Temasek, to open books

Dr Chee Soon Juan at the SDP rally for Bukit Batok SMC held at the field in front of Blk 265 Toh Guan Road.
Dr Chee Soon Juan at the SDP rally for Bukit Batok SMC held at the field in front of Blk 265 Toh Guan Road. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan yesterday repeated his call for Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC and investment company Temasek Holdings to "open their books".

Dr Chee - who is contesting Holland-Bukit Timah GRC - had first raised the issue at a lunchtime rally on Monday, hitting out at decisions by GIC and Temasek to invest in international banks such as Citigroup, UBS, Merrill Lynch and Barclays during the 2008 global financial crisis.

He said those moves had resulted in GIC and Temasek recording losses to the tune of billions - until they were recouped.

Speaking during a walkabout with his three GRC teammates yesterday, Dr Chee again asked why GIC and Temasek had taken the decision to invest. He said it was only through "a stroke of good fortune" that they were able to recover the investments as they had benefited from a decision by the United States government to bail out banks.

"Why despite all the warnings coming out, why did (Temasek and GIC) invest in Barclays, Citigroup, UBS and Merrill Lynch? They've said they've bounced back... but that was not because of anything they did," he said.

Dr Chee said he wanted Temasek and GIC to open their books, saying that the returns Temasek claims and what its books show do not match up. "If we are all going to be shareholders, then we have every right to know whether what they're telling us is accurate or not," he said.

The Finance Ministry had previously said that the Government plays no role in decisions on individual investments made by GIC and Temasek.

On Monday, Temasek chief executive Ho Ching put up a post on Facebook explaining how the state investment company manages its reserves and allocates a portion of its earnings and returns on investments.

Yesterday, Ms Ho further elaborated on the Government's budgetary processes, and how Singapore investment firms such as Temasek and GIC contribute through the Net Investment Income (NII) framework.

"Put simply, NII is Net Investment Income - this includes actual dividends received, such as from Temasek, and also interest and dividends received by Singov from investing its reserves through GIC in bonds, shares and other opportunities. This is real cashflow into the government kitty," she wrote.

Meanwhile, Dr Chee's GRC teammate Paul Tambyah yesterday clarified his comments at their lunchtime rally on Monday that he hoped Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam would fall out with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong so that Mr Tharman could lead a grand coalition of opposition parties. "There was no intention to sow discord," Professor Tambyah said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Chee calls for GIC, Temasek, to open books'. Print Edition | Subscribe