WELCOME ADDRESS, PRESIDENT & CEO, SIAS, MR DAVID GERALD, Inaugural Asian Investors’ Corporate Governance Conference, 19 – 20 Nov 2009, Grand Ballroom Riz-Carlton

Date: November 19, 2009


Inaugural Asian Investors’ Corporate Governance Conference
19 – 20 Nov 2009
Grand Ballroom Riz-Carlton
Millennia Singapore

Mr Heng Swee Keat, Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore

Distinguished guests. ladies and gentlemen.

A very good morning to you all, and welcome to the inaugural Asian Investors’ Corporate Governance Conference and a warm welcome to Singapore to all our overseas delegates.

Firstly, I would like to thank Mr Heng Sweet Keat for gracing this conference despite his busy schedule. His presence today underlines the importance of good corporate governance practice to MAS and Singapore.

At SIAS, corporate governance is one of the key pillars in our vision for building an empowered and enlightened investing community. It is with the investors in mind that SIAS continues to promote good corporate governance practices and standards through various activities. Together with the boards, senior managers, professional institutions and regulator, we have established a good working relationship to achieve this objective.

Recent events commencing with the financial melt down have highlighted the need for strong corporate governance in all organizations. The objective of this conference is to raise the awareness of corporate governance practices in Asia and evaluate the impact of the global financial crisis on corporate governance practices. It will address, importantly, the time honoured question whether good corporate governance practices does in fact result in good performance and consequently better shareholder value.

Singapore is known to have achieved much in terms of good corporate governance, but it could not have been achieved if not for the strong example set by the leadership of the government of the day. In particular, the pro-active stance of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Exchange for providing the necessary legal framework and timely reviews to help keep abreast of changes in the corporate governance practices globally, has helped to raise corporate governance standards here.

We cannot sit on our laurels. SIAS will continue to strive to promote even higher standards. SIAS has well established in Singapore the Company Transparency and Singapore Corporate Governance awards. Moving forward, SIAS would leverage on the corporate governance scorecard incorporating OECD standards developed by SMU-Sim Kee Boon Institute for the annual Singapore Corporate Governance Award.

In 2009, research conducted by NUS Business School, Corporate Governance & Financial Reporting Centre for SIAS, highlighted the following.

    • There has been a slight increase, 24% compared to 22% last year, in the number of companies with independent directors comprising more than half of the board of directors.


    • But there is a 14% decrease in the number of companies disclosing that they provide ongoing training (in-house or externally) on issues beyond basic director duties and liabilities (35% compared to 49% last year).


    • The number of companies having either the same person as chairman and CEO or having no relationship between the chairman and CEO (based on disclosure) have decreased about 10% (56% compared to 65% last year). 33% of the companies have an independent chairman (compared to 37% last year) 


    • Only 17% of the companies disclosed that the nominating committee has reviewed the adequacy of time spent by directors with multiple directorships on the affairs of the company (compared to 26% last year). 


    • Fewer audit committee members have accounting experience or related financial management experience (61% compared to 73% last year). 


  • 34% of the companies disclosed that they have conducted a review of their internal controls and risk management systems during the financial year (compared to 37% last year). Only 21% (compared to 26% last year) have a statement by the board or audit committee on the adequacy of the company’s internal controls, including financial, operational and compliance controls, and the risk management policies and systems established by management.

In this regard, SIAS would also like to call upon other institutions like SID and other relevant industry organizations involved in the advocacy of good corporate governance to continue to do their part to achieve this objective.

We are also fortunate that the print and broadcast media are playing an active role in tracking corporate actions and highlighting shortfalls in corporate governance practices.

This Conference is an industry-led initiative. It is organised by SIAS together with Sim Kee Boon Institute, Singapore Management University, as our strategic partner. The conference”s co-organisers are Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS), Singapore Association of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (SAICSA), and Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). This Conference is also endorsed by The Law Society of Singapore, CFA Singapore, Singapore Institute of Directors (SID), Investment Managers Association of Singapore (IMAS) and CPA Australia. SIAS recognizes the important role played by the various professionals representing these organizations in advising the boards, senior management and leaders whose decisions impact on national policies. Hence, the invitation to our partners and endorsers.

SIAS, together with the steering committee for the conference, have carefully put together not only thought provoking but also practical case studies to set this conference apart from the others as a truly Asian experience. We are fortunate to have with us word renowned and regionally well known speakers and panelists who bring with them valuable experience and knowledge to share with you.

I trust that you will find this conference useful in keeping you abreast on the latest developments in corporate governance practices. I am confident that you participants will take away valuable insights on ensuring good corporate governance practices prevail.

This is an excellent opportunity for the community to come together, net-work and make new friends. I thank all our co-organisers, endorsers and also MAS and SGX for their support of this conference. Without you, this would not have been possible.

Last but not least, I would like to also thank Ms Sim Joo Lay, our Conference Director, and all SIAS staff for their relentless efforts to make this conference a success.

David Gerald
President & CEO
Securities Investors Association (Singapore)