subpage banner

Parliamentary Replies

Hiring Practice At Temasek Holdings

23 Mar 2009

Date: 23 March 2009

Question No. 958 (by Ms Sylvia Lim, Non-Constituency Member):

To ask the Minister for Finance why the Civil Service's hiring practice of restricting access to state secrets to Singaporeans is not applied to Temasek Holdings.

Reply by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam:

Ms Sylvia Lim asked why the Civil Service’s hiring practice of restricting access to state secrets to Singaporeans is not applied to Temasek Holdings.

Let me first clarify that Temasek is not part of the Civil Service or the public sector. It is a commercial company that is wholly-owned by Government.

However, even in the public sector, the Government has not taken a view that all confidential information must be restricted to Singaporeans only. Government employees handle a range of confidential information, with varying degrees of sensitivity. The Government has engaged non-citizens, even for sensitive work and projects, where such persons are assessed to have the requisite expertise and have been security-cleared.

Ms Sylvia Lim’s question may have been prompted by the appointment of Mr Charles Goodyear as CEO-designate of Temasek. As Temasek CEO, Goodyear will be privy to information about the company's operations. Although Temasek publishes all key information about the company and the value of its assets, some information about its operations is proprietary and restricted to those who need it for proper management of the company. In all instances, however, access to any information the Government considers confidential is bound by the Official Secrets Act.

Before endorsing the Temasek Board’s proposal to appoint Mr Goodyear, the Government has carefully assessed these implications as well as broader considerations such as the role of Temasek, and concluded that it was not necessary or desirable to require the position of CEO Temasek to always be held by a Singaporean. Indeed Temasek engages many foreigners, including at senior management levels. Temasek also has foreign Board members, although the Board remains in the effective control of Singaporeans. These practices are part of an open and meritocratic approach to building the organization, so that Temasek can perform and continue to maximise the long term value of its assets.

However, if Ms Sylvia Lim is asking whether Temasek employees have access in the course of their work to information on the size of the Government’s total reserves, the answer is no.