atans1

Tot S’poreans are honest, honour honesty? Think again

In Corporate governance, Financial competency on 18/06/2014 at 4:29 am

I was shocked as a user of financial statements to read this in BT last week:

More than one-fourth of senior executives in Singapore feel it is justifiable to misstate financial performance in order to survive an economic downturn. The staggering statistic was one of many in EY’s 13th and latest Global Fraud Survey.

The exercise, which involved 2,719 interviews with senior decision-makers in the largest companies in 59 countries – conducted between November 2013 and February 2014 – looked at the perceived levels of fraud, bribery and corruption across the world in current times.

It found that financial statement fraud risk is still prevalent. Aside from Singapore’s response, EY’s survey found that – across the globe – 6 per cent of respondents said that misstating financial performance is justifiable in order to survive an economic downturn. This is an increase from 5 per cent two years ago.

EY noted that this is driven by responses from emerging markets where, in some jurisdictions, a significantly higher proportion of respondents stated that they could justify such actions. Compared with Singapore (28 per cent), 24 per cent in India and 10 per cent in South Africa felt misstating financial performance was justifiable.

(BT 12 June: Emphasis is mine)

We are miles away from the global benchmark (6%) and worse than India (where few yrs ago there was a major accounting scandal at a giant Indian IT co), a country where corruption is so common.

How to trust any co’s financial statements? Blame education system, PAP govt or S’pore society?

Wrong to blame our society?

Juz think about it. Roy Ngerng who claimed his research into the CPF system showed that the govt had stolen the monies, and who when sued by the PM for defamation, readily and cheerfully admits that the govt didn’t steal the monies but like a true blue S’poreans wants to avoid coughing up money (BS is cheap, money is another thing) is a heloo among the chattering classes.(think Maruah) and the born losers.

This is what his lawyer released yesterday: “The defendant …  had publicly apologised to the Plaintiff and acknowledged that the allegation about which the Plaintiff complained was false (in wording, and in a manner, required by the Plaintiff), who had given undertakings not to publish such an allegation, and who had agreed to remove material to which the Plaintiff had objected. 

My take has been that the the only original thing about his CPF articles is the accusation that the govt steals our CPF monies. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/roy-missed-his-calling-in-life/

As long ago as 2007, the intricacies of CPF were spelled out by an NMP in parly http://siewkumhong.blogspot.sg/2007/09/speech-on-ministerial-statement-on-cpf.html. Check out the references in speech. And Uncle Leong, Roy’s sifu has been active too.

So what has Roy added to the debate? Juz the accusation (now retracted) that govt stole the monies: an accusation he now readily admits is BS.

And he is a heloo to Maruah etc?

And nothing is wrong with the moral and ethical value of at least some highly paid, professional S’poreans?

Something is very wrong with us when a significant number of S’porean professionals are prepared to lie for their employers, paymasters, or when a self-declared liar is a hero to many S’poreans (number unknown).

BTW, I make no comment on whether PM is right morally, ethically, PRwise to sue because the issues are not as clear cut as the PAPpies, anti-PAP activists and ordinary, decent-minded S’poreans who dislike bullying think. It’s a complex problem that even game theory cannot help find an answer. I don’t know whether PM was right or wrong to sue.

Coming back to the issue of the willingness to lying, the PAP govt must take a lot of the blame for this. It has been in power, micro-managing and social engineering S’poreans since 1959, and has put collective responsibility and duty (calls it constructive nation-building) above all else, especially the conscience of the individual. Surely, some could have taken this to mean that it’s OK to lie for employer, paymaster?

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  1. Read the Edelman Trust Barometer in conjunction with this EY’s Global Fraud Survey. One sane conclusion is that when the trust level is high, the justification for BS is negligible especially when the $dignity$ is undeserved but has to be sustained.

    So, are the 60.1% of Singaporeans really daft or just being pragmatic?

  2. CI

    The blame is on the typical Singapore kiasu attitude rather than your snide remark on the government.
    Considering that such people can keep their benefit and creature comforts and “keep their face”.
    I am not surprised.

  3. Huh??!?! Only 28% haar?? Big deal lah. No worries man! I expected 55%.
    Nahbei … maybe actually 55%, but 27% in the survey lying.

  4. The Edelman trust barometer is an interesting read – NGOs are trusted by Singaporeans as much as the government! see http://www.slideshare.net/EdelmanAPAC/final-presentation-trust-barometer-2013-singapore-31-jan

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