Letter from Singapore
EuromoneyNestor HousePlayhouse YardLondon EC4V 5EXUnited Kingdom
In "Outwards and upwards", you reported Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew as telling the foreign correspondents association that "if anyone present happened to hold shares in United Overseas Bank (UOB), [he said], they might like to consider selling them," and commented that "for Lee to say it meant there had to be a big rift between the government and the bank."
For the Senior Minister to ask investors to consider selling the shares of a particular bank in his country would be an extremely serious matter. But Mr. Lee never did this. What he did say, in reply to a question on whether local banks were moving fast enough with global changes, was:
"We've brought about some changes in DBS, forced the pace for OCBC. OUB is moving. UOB is, I think, Mr Wee Cho Yaw [Chairman and CEO of UOB] is also facing up to the fact that he won't be there forever. He has to get somebody who's equal to the job, or the bank will go down.
"So, yes, we have moved, but not moved enough.