Succession Planning Called Into Question


By Augustine Low

Lee Hsien Loong became Prime Minister in 2004. The same year, Ho Ching became CEO of Temasek Holdings. So this year, Singapore’s power couple celebrate their 14th anniversary as the most powerful man and most powerful woman.

After 14 long years, it seems nothing has changed. They are both snug in their positions, with no sign that either is going away anytime soon.

Even Goh Chok Tong has seemingly grown impatient, setting a New Year’s deadline for PM Lee to designate the next PM within six to nine months, calling it an “urgent challenge.”

Will PM Lee heed the call of Goh Chok Tong? Or will he simply delay it to a time of his own choosing?

As for Ho Ching, there is also no successor in sight after 14 years. Ordinarily, what the wife of the Prime Minister does is none of our business. But since Ho Ching is considered the most powerful woman in Singapore, she is fair game and has to be subject to scrutiny.

Dr Tan Cheng Bock has said that he felt it was “very very dangerous” to have the wife of the PM head such a key institution as Temasek Holdings because there are bound to be conflict of interests. Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling have alleged that Ho Ching acted improperly on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Office, without holding an official position.

More than 10 years ago, Temasek Holdings started talking about succession planning, including for the CEO. There was a failed attempt at replacing her with CEO-designate Charles Goodyear back in 2009, who abruptly left after several months. All we got was a terse statement from Chairman S Dhanabalan: “It is with much regret that both Chip and the Board have accepted that it is best not to proceed with the leadership transition. We wish Chip all the best in his future endeavours and are happy that Ho Ching has agreed to continue as Executive Director and CEO.”

The Board, it seems, continues to be happy to this day that Ho Ching “has agreed” to be CEO. A global search was reportedly carried out but it has yielded nothing so far. Are we to believe that after years of searching, nobody in the whole wide world is deemed capable of replacing Ho Ching? Or has the Board stopped looking for a successor altogether? We simply do not have answers to these questions.

And for Goh Chok Tong, the second Prime Minister, to openly call for the leadership issue to be addressed urgently, it raises questions about the mindset and intentions of the current Prime Minister.

For a country previously known for its far-sightedness and succession planning, we are certainly coming up short on two very important counts.

Meanwhile, into their 14th year as Singapore’s power couple, PM Lee and Ho Ching continue to rule the roost. It would be nice to say that Singapore is getting two for the price of one, but in reality both come with a heavy price. It is estimated that with bonuses the annual salary of PM Lee could be around $3 million. As for Ho Ching, it is a closely guarded secret and the sky’s the limit.

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  1. Facebook Profile photo
    Orwellian ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    One day the Best Sellers on Amazon bookstore will be “The Collapse of Singapore – by the party that built it six decades ago”

  2. KH Ngai says:

    Both are in the same situation where successor could not be found or named! Indeed with greed, it is not easy to let go such highly positions!

  3. Most “powerful” woman ? Oh you mean for her position ?…. apart from flicking the middle finger monkey act and having a awfully bad sense of taste in dressing , I don’t see if she has possess any relevant capability or skills to run the board ?
    Then again who are we calling incompetent when the hubby too sucks on the success of his daddy …. gotten onto the throne and started shitting all over ?
    We can talk or keyboard until the cows come home and nothing practical will change .
    Do the right thing in the next election …. vote in more alternate voices into the parliament

  4. I very much doubt there is a formalised succession management system in place. If the muppets of the round table can select the next PM, it says how unprofessional, unqualified, and how unbecoming the manner in how the next PM will be selected. This next PM will be selected based on top down. As for Ho Ho, she is just as much a numpty sailing with the PM tide milking the state coffers through her exorbitant salaries and bonuses. Those who vote PAP either have something to gain from it or are plain fekin stoooopid!

  5. This generation of siblings have disputes. Can’t wait for the next tier. How would the wealth be divided? Of course some will benefit more from both parents will.

  6. Yan Ian says:

    No one else in this world is willing to keep the dark secrets and their evil deeds for them. Surely no one is willing to be scapegoat for years of failure, no matter how much you can pay.

  7. Ronald Lim says:

    I can’t wait for LHL to disappear into the sunset. Then, we shall see if the next PM has the guts to take on the ah soh! It is a ridiculous situation but I am sure she will cling on to the job because who knows what secrets there are?

    1. Ronald Lim says:

      Koh Phil Hope not but there is no reason why they cannot find a CEO to replace her. It is not that TH has been turning in sparkling returns. On the contrary we have not been told of its performance at all except what we read in the MSM and we read only of losses.
      Sounds fishy they cannot have a new CEO for TH, right?

  8. This couple is addicted to corruption and power for their selfish gain. They will come up with new ideas to retain their control over their greed and power even if there is a new pm designate.

  9. And what does she do anyway? She has been accompanying the PM on official trips. Like that also get million dollars salary. Two salaries combined very 米桶!

  10. What has really been the highlight of such a leadership anyway? Is there anything at all we are possibly going to remember you for LHL? Besides the habitual wayangs and hardships on and for the citizens, the answer is nothing. There is really nothing anybody wants to remember you for. Kindly step down. Enough is enough.

    1. Kevyn Ho says:

      Many children will remember LHL – taking photos with babies at baby awards shows., sitting on playground swings , opening of PAP kindergartens and all kinds of frivolous events

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