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Re: When corporate greed destroys Malaysia's future

A FEW MISTAKES TURNED UP in this piece but the arguments I make is not deflected. The survey was done not by the Business Times but the Malaysian Business, a monthly publication of Berita Publishing. Malaysian Business, in pointing this out, says I should not have added the total remuneration of Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and Tan Sri Vincent Tan for by doing so I would be counting the total twice or thrice. The Business Times, in its report, does not make it clear. Not every one has access to either the Malaysian Business or the annual reports of the companies on which this survey is based. So one depends on papers like the New Straits Times and its business insert, the Business Times. I therefore asked several in the corporate field, including one CEO of a listed company, to read the article and tell me what they thought of what the two Tan Sris earned: not one said it was not as I had described.

Even if the remuneration were a third of half what they, and the others. received, my arguments remain the same: these CEOs are paid way too high for what they do. How could one man, in honesty, be CEOs of two listed companies? Once we had a tycoon who sat on 500 and more companies, and managing director to a score of them, several of which were listed. There should be a bar to a CEO of a listed company from holding that position in another. But that is not accepted. Further what is not mentioned in the survey are the perks they get. Once high flying companies had jets for their CEO's exclusive use. Today, they must suffer the 'indignity' of travelling as paid passengers on commercial airlines. They have a string of million-ringgit cars paid out of companies which have bitten the dust.

But the government is unwilling to take the drastic change it must to corporate governnance, to use the buzz word every one talks of but few know what it means, especially the corporate high-fliers at whom it is directed, for a variety of reasons including inertia. When the Prime Minister flies off to a foreign destination, he is attended to by a bevy of these corporate leaders, once flying in their own jets but now rushing to greet him at his destination. Today, he is yesterday's man, and many have deserted him for the next prime minister. Meanwhile, the companies they run grind tto a halt. No attempt is made to turn them around.

Methinks they are grossly overpaid. No one is worth a million ringgit a year, let alone eight times that. But that is how greed works. The more you have the more important you are, or so they imagine. And if with that excessive remuneration, they can bring their countries tol a halt, then in Bolehland's exacting standards, that is sign enough for a celebration.

M.G.G. Pillai
[email protected]

Terbitan : 7 Ogos 2003

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