Take corp governance to the next level at SingPost

Published April 16, 2016

Letter to the Editor

First published in the Business Times on AprilĀ 14, 2016

RECENT announcements about board changes at Singapore Post (SingPost) have given me hope that the company will transform its board just as it is transforming its business.

However, it is still too early to know whether it will be a change from a “Windows Vista” version to a “Windows 10” version, or whether we will get a “Windows 8” version – different but not particularly good.

To start with, the composition of the reconstituted Nominations Committee still causes me concern.

While a new chairman has been appointed for the committee, retiring chairman Lim Ho Kee and lead independent director Keith Tay remain on it, as the board initiates a search for new board members. There will be scepticism as to whether the committee will be capable of helping to effect real change.

Although SingPost has probably spent enough money on external consultants to last its lifetime – and I am loath to recommend that it spend more – in this instance, it is important for it to avoid relying purely on the recommendations of incumbent directors, or merely looking at the list of the who’s who in corporate Singapore, in identifying candidates.

I hope that at the end of the search process, we do not end up with the usual suspects, who are circulated among different boards as part of “board renewal” in individual companies, or people who are described as “safe” or “trusted”, but who may not be particularly effective because they do not possess the appropriate skills and experience for SingPost or who already have too many commitments.

If this happens, SingPost and corporate Singapore would have missed a real opportunity to demonstrate to the many international institutional investors who invest in SingPost and in other Singapore companies that we are capable of taking corporate governance to the next level.

Mak Yuen Teen



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