Sunday, October 29, 2006

Temasek's blunder, part 2

Another blunder by Singapore government investment arm Temasek Holdings, whose choice of a Thai adviser received what is seen as a sharpest rebuke from the Thai crown prince.

It seems that Temasek can do no right in Thailand.

Temasek has been blamed of effectively triggering the coup that led to the downfall of PM Thaksin Shinawatra following the badly structured Shin Corp deal earlier this year. Please see earlier posting.

Will Temasek still set up an office in Thailand? Will it appoint a new adviser? Or will it simply write off everything in the country?

Oct 29, 2006
Thailand's Crown Prince rebukes official
By THAILAND CORRESPONDENT BANGKOK, Nirmal Ghosh

MR TONGNOI Tongyai, an official in Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn's office, was yesterday given a harsh public dressing-down by the prince, apparently over Temasek Holdings' approach to him to be its adviser.

On Oct 19, it was reported that Temasek would be appointing Mr Tongnoi, who is in his 70s and holds the royal title Mom Rajawongse, as an adviser for Shin Corp. But less than a week later, Temasek said he would not be joining after all.

Yesterday morning, the Crown Prince's office released a statement saying that Mr Tongnoi had abused power for his own benefit.

The statement said: 'Some press reports stated that Temasek Holdings had approached Mr Tongnoi Tongyai to be an adviser for their office that would be set up in Thailand.

'They mentioned that Mr Tongnoi Tongyai was personal secretary and adviser to HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and was assigned to take care of the royal properties since 2000.

'HRH Crown Prince's personal office would like to announce that the reports have caused misunderstanding and confusion as the claims were false and were used as a means to establish influence for his own business benefit. The claims have caused damage not only to the country but also instability for international investment in Thailand.'

It added: 'HRH Crown Prince had enough mercy to employ him. He was assigned to work according to his profession - which means translating and drafting English documents and occasionally writing letters.

'However, he has been tricky and cunning. He took advantage and made false claims for his own benefit by setting up positions which led him to be approached to be an adviser to Temasek Holdings.

'HRH Crown Prince's personal office considered Mr Tongnoi Tongyai not right, improper and abusive of power for his own benefit. His acts have caused misunderstanding among the public and caused damage to the HRH Crown Prince's personal office. The office thus has decided to explain and announce these facts to the public.'

The Nation newspaper, on its website, carried a report on the latest development and the statement from the Crown Prince's office.

The public slap in the face is seen as one of the harshest rebukes possible in Thailand, and without doubt has destroyed Mr Tongnoi's reputation, analysts said.

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