16 Aug 2005
Accountancy 101 - How to become a CFO in a billion-dollar S'pore
In the first place, the problem started when Mr Kuan was "headhunted" (or "highly recommended" perhaps) to be the Group CFO of JTC. And this is an important lesson for all Singaporeans (especially those who need "help" in finding high-paying jobs in government departments, statutory boards, GLCs, etc..). You first "volunteer" as a member of the RC, NC (and all the various "CCs") in your constituency and rub shoulders with the MPs (and ministers if possible). What is the 8-letter word for all this, starting with "ne------"? (Of course, they call it "networks", but sorry if you're thinking of another word). As for what happens next, the sky is the limit....even the President one fine day !!
Having got in, what do these stat boards and GLCs do when they find your work performance "unsatisfactory"? Of course, through their "networks" again, they try to "help", failing which, they'll try to keep you "employed" (for as long as possible, but maybe 27 months is long enough with all that salary and bonuses to tide you over for some time, lest you accuse the government as an "employer with no heart").
It is high time the Prime Minister sets up a market-based and international-standard appraisal system (market-based salary must come with market-based responsibility and appraisal) and ensures that such senior appointments in the government (including statutory boards and GLCs) should not be allowed to remain in their positions if their performance is found to be unsatisfactory. For those whose performance is bordering on the "unsatisfactory" range, they should be subject to a "review period" of 3 or 6 months during which they must exhibit marked improvement in their performance. Furthermore, senior officials under "review" must require the approval of the respective Minister to remain in their job at the expiry of the "review period" (If certain key appointments require the approval of the President (a post Mr Kuan was on the verge of becoming), certainly appointments of CEOs and CFOs (and other C-Os) of statutory boards and GLCs (whose reserves can easily run into billions of dollars) should also require similar stingent scrutiny?)
"Why keep Andrew Kuan on if he was unsuitable?
Puzzling questions came to mind when I read excerpts of the press conference by JTC Corp on former presidential aspirant Andrew Kuan ("JTC was not satisfied with Kuan's work"; ST, Aug 12).
For a high-level position in a statutory board such as the JTC, where corporate transparency is critical - and so is the bottom line - I wonder how it is possible and justifiable that Mr Kuan kept his position as group financial officer just because JTC board members were "reasonable employers" and hoped that will "help him to tide over and find a job elsewhere".
If Mr Kuan did not make a bid for the presidency, this would probably have not come to light.
The chief executive officer and members of the board should make decisions based on the capability of the employee and not on the two reasons given for extending his tenure, especially when they were dissatisfied with his performance in such a senior position ("and came the second year, when we were quite sure that we were not satisfied...").
Why did JTC rate his performance as "good" if it was not satisfactory? JTC should also explain why performance bonuses and pay rises were given to him.
Statutory boards are semi-independent agencies that carry out specific plans and policies of the ministry, meaning that officers serving such boards are funded by taxpayers.
I believe taxpayers do not support the retaining of high-level, highly-paid employees if they are deemed to be not suitable for a position.
Jennifer Tan Ban Ban (Ms)"