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“Pre-election stunt?” – Netizens question the “musical chairs” at Temasek subsidiary

The Independent logo The Independent 21/3/2019 Jewel Stolarchuk
a close up of Ho Ching © Provided by Apple Seed Pte Ltd

Temasek International announced on Tuesday (19 Mar) that Singapore Prime Minister’s wife, Ho Ching, will step down as its chairman next month and will be replaced by the organisation’s chief executive Lee Theng Kiat. Lee Theng Kiat’s role will be filled by Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara.

Temasek International is a subsidiary of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Temasek. Despite her departure from Temasek International as chairman, 65-year-old Ho Ching remains very much in charge of Temasek.

Ho Ching has been at the helm of Temasek for a decade and a half. She joined the organization as a director in Jan 2002 before she was promoted to executive director just four months later, in May. Two years after she joined Temasek, Ho Ching became its Chief Executive Officer on 1 January 2004 – a role she has held for the past 15 years.

Interestingly, 2019 also marks a decade since a leadership succession plan infamously failed at Temasek.

In 2009, just five years after Ho Ching took over as Temasek CEO, public sentiment against her was so high that she was due to be replaced as CEO. Succession plans for a new CEO to replace Ho Ching were underway but abruptly fell through in a boardroom bust-up in 2009 – just three months before the new CEO was supposed to take over.

A decade has gone by since then and Ho Ching remains the CEO of Temasek, with no public signs of leadership renewal in sight.

Although the latest round of changes in leadership at Temasek International may lead some to believe that changes are occurring within Temasek, Ho Ching continued role as CEO of Temasek – the parent company of Temasek International – ensures that she still has sufficient oversight over the subsidiary despite the fact that she is no longer chairman.

Netizens responding to the latest shake-up in the subsidiary have wondered what prompted the changes.

Some wondered whether the changes are an “election gimmick” or “pre-election stunt,” since many expect that the next General Election may be called as early as this year. Others criticised the headlines by mainstream media outlets covering the changes at the Temasek subsidiary since it made it seem like Ho Ching was leaving Temasek completely:

a screenshot of a cell phone

© Provided by Apple Seed Pte Ltd

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