Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gambling in the Town Councils?

I am shocked to realise that Holland-Bukit Panjang and Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Councils invested and probably lost a combined S$12 million in the failed Lehman Brothers products. And who knows, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Would Town Councils share the fate of the Titanic, sinking because of lack of diversification and uneducated assessment in a product that was mis-sold?

Conspiracy Theories Abound

With conspiracy theory in mind, the reason becomes crystal clear on why the government perhaps showed its hand and pushed DBS to have a compensation plan for those burnt by minibonds. That is because they knew since September that the Town Councils which gambled in the minibonds were in trouble and DBS had to be squeezed to return the money in some form, or else the peasants would get angry.

But only in the past few days was the severity of the damage revealed by our nation-building press. If there were no pleas to whistle-blow, would the Town Councils, behaving like GLCs, have come forward and be honest? Or would they have tried to salvage their Titanic wreck quietly behind the scene, all the while simultaneously piously openly berating DBS for mis-selling. They were not acting for the retired uncles and aunties as a priority, the government and the town councils might have acted to protect their loses.

Looking the Other Way

The astute observer would point out the likely double standards in this mini-Temasek saga over the Lemon products. If Potong Pasir or Hougang Town Council had invested in minibonds and lost the money, you bet the media would have went to town about gambling and squandering of the residents' sinking fund. As it is now, the reporting is a boring matter of fact without the character assassination of high profile council members.

What other skeletons are still in the closet? Let the truth prevail.

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