Three changes that would make Sias a much stronger outfit


Published October 11, 2014

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

First published in Business Times, 9 October, 2014

I REFER to the report “Fifteen years on, is Sias still relevant?” (BT, Oct 3).

The Securities Investors Association of Singapore (Sias) has played an important role in our corporate governance landscape. It was first off the blocks in recognising companies for corporate governance and transparency through awards, and initiated Corporate Governance Week five years ago to educate and focus attention on corporate governance.

It is particularly appropriate for an investor body such as Sias to be involved in recognising and rating companies on corporate governance and transparency, as after all, the main purpose of good corporate governance and transparency is to improve long-term corporate performance and accountability for the benefit of investors and other key stakeholders.

I do not always agree with Sias’ views on corporate governance matters and have on a number of occasions taken a public stance that is diametrically opposed to its position.

I am also uncomfortable with Sias giving out too many awards, creating at least a perceived link between its awards and fund-raising.

However, I admire it for having the courage to state its position on key corporate governance issues and when investor interests are at risk.

In this regard, it is arguably the investor or professional organisation in Singapore that has played the strongest advocacy role in corporate governance over a sustained period of time.

THREE WISHES

I have three wishes for Sias for the next five years, and they are:

Firstly, that it will get stronger financial support from the authorities, such as funding from the Financial Sector Development Fund. After all, robust investor protection is fundamental to the development of any sound capital market and Sias plays an important role in this regard. Its current reliance on sponsorships from companies creates a serious perception issue about its independence from these sponsors and the corporate community at large.

Secondly, that Sias will engage better with institutional investors and fund managers that are focused on corporate governance, to enhance the collective voice and influence of minority investors. If institutional investors, fund managers and retail investors can work more closely together in addressing corporate governance issues, there is a much better chance that directors and the management of companies will more clearly recognise their accountability to this important group of stakeholders.

Thirdly, that Sias will emulate what its counterpart in Malaysia, the Minority Shareholders Watchdog Group (MSWG), has done for many years – buy one lot of shares in a large number of companies, attend more annual general meetings (AGMs) and ask pertinent questions about the corporate governance, business strategies and financial performance of companies.

I look forward to an even more effective Sias in the years ahead.

Mak Yuen Teen

 

 

 

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