Haiyah. Mr Wang Zhen likes to be respectful to Singapore's most senior and respected blogger, Mr Brown, but today cannot tahan lah. Mr Brown is really missing the point. Let's see what Mr Brown has to say on the NKF issue:
- Allow me to play Devil's Advocate. If you think about it, a CEO who manages $200 million and is making $500 to $600k a year, is really underpaid. VCs who handle that kind of money are usually paid much much more, usually more than a million a year. Heck, I know of Creative Directors, who are not responsible for this kind of money, being paid more than $25,000 a month.
Of course, if you don't consider the NKF a business, then this point is moot. But I do think that it is rather naive to expect $200 million to be managed by someone being paid $60k a year. I'd be worried if that were so.
Now if every year, TT Durai told the world, "Hey, I am going to give myself 12 months' bonuses this year, okay? After all, this year I worked very hard and collected X million dollars in donations for kidney patients!" -
then that would be a different story. People who feel that TT Durai deserved it would continue to donate to the NKF. People who feel that TT Durai did not deserve it would stop donating to the NKF. But no one would feel that TT Durai or the NKF was being dishonest.
Mr Brown's comparisons of NKF with companies are not valid. Companies, especially listed companies, are subject to strict rules about disclosure. They are required to have annual reports, get external auditors to report on their accounts, hold annual shareholders' meetings where any shareholder can question them, and so on. Most listed companies will also indicate how much their top people are paid (that is how we know Wee Cho Yaw was paid $4 million last year by his bank UOB and Jackson Tai was paid 3 point something million by DBS).
Let me tell you that if you are a director of a listed company and you play any funny games, you can definitely end up in jail. Too bad NKF is not a listed company, although it tries to act like one sometimes.
- Please hor, just looking at it from another angle. Don't stop calling my 1-900 number, ok? And I am surprised so much firepower attention was focused on the CEO, but not that much on the board that granted him his expenditure, pay and perks. Maybe that was planned for Day 3, but now we'll never know.
It is NKF which is unhappy about SPH writing about Durai's toilet bowl and gold tap in 2004. So to defend SPH, Davinder Singh must of course focus on Durai's gold tap and toilet bowl, mah. Remember who is suing who. Davinder Singh is out to defend SPH by showing that its 2004 article is "fair comment". Davinder Singh is NOT in court to show that the NKF board acted wrongly in giving Durai all those fat paychecks and perks.
And what else did Mr Brown write?
- The transcript of their lawyer aggressively cross-examining NKF CEO TT Durai was a good read too, but I had trouble finding the transcripts or even reports of the NKF lawyer's cross-examination of SPH and of Durai in the ST. Maybe they ran out of space in the ST, and could not cover that. Or on Day 1, it was all SPH's lawyer talking. I'm not sure.
However, since NKF withdrew its case as early as Day Two, SPH witnesses never needed to go on the stand. So obviously NKF's lawyer Michael Khoo never got to cross-examine anyone from SPH.
And how come the newspapers reported nothing about NKF's lawyer asking Durai anything? Because in a civil trial like this, Durai would have told his story long ago. Even before the trial starts, Durai would have already stated his full complaint in a long written document called an affidavit. This affidavit would then have been given to the judge and to the defendant SPH, so that they know what Durai is unhappy about.
When the trial starts, the NKF's lawyer will hardly have anything much to say. It would have gone like this:-
Khoo: Please state your name and occupation.
TT Durai: My name is TT Durai. I am the CEO of the National Kidney Foundation.
Khoo: Please refer to the Affidavit. Please confirm that this is your Affidavit and the signature on page 18 is yours.
TT Durai: Yes.
Khoo: Your Honour, please may the Affidavit be marked.
Judge: Affidavit of TT Durai marked P1.
Khoo: No further questions, your Honour.
Davinder Singh: May I commence cross-examination, your Honour?
[Next 2 days are fun & games for Davinder Singh.]
So what is there to report about what Michael Khoo said? Nothing much. Very boring lah. Michael Khoo will have hardly anything to say until SPH witnesses testify (the trial never came to that).
Michael Khoo would have a chance to question Durai again (it's called "reexamination") after Davinder finishes the cross-examination. But Durai withdrew his case even before Davinder finished. So at the end of the day, Michael Khoo hardly got to say a thing in court.