John Harding’s book, Escape from Paradise – Paperback and Kindle Versions


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It took me two and a half evenings to complete your un-put-downable book...it is a unique contribution to the appreciation of a life in Singapore. Thank you for having written it. C. V. Devan Nair, former President of Singapore.

Bought the book from Select this weekend and can't put it down! It's a great read! And so nostalgic for me—the good old days! Glen Goei, writer and director of the Miramax film That's the Way I Like It and who played the title role opposite Anthony Hopkins in the London production of M. Butterfly. Mr. Goei's latest film is The Blue Mansion - Click for the trailer!

It is a remarkable story and so full of intrigue that it reads at times like fiction.Jonathan Burnham, Editor in Chief & President, Talk Miramax Books.

“It's quite a story The legendary Alice Mayhew, Vice-President & Editorial Director, Simon & Schuster.

This book out-Dallas, Dallas. No one has written so well of the other side of paradise,Francis T. Seow, former Solicitor General of Singapore

Escape from Paradise – the Promotional Trailer

Temasek finds a replacement for Goodyear!

Temasek - an alluring employer

Temasek - an alluring employer

Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, has found a replacement for Charles “Chip” Waterhouse Goodyear IV – it’s in the revision of its charter!

What Goodyear, or whoever that guy was, could not do, Temasek’s revision of its seven-year old charter will do.

Temasek will get its money out of Singapore as soon as possible, and invest in countries like the United States – folks who really need the money.

According to Temasek, its revised charter is one that “more accurately reflects its investment objectives and relationship with the Singapore Government.”

Sure it does, and let’s see how.

Temasek will morph into an investment company managed on “commercial principles,” something like U.S. bailout recipient, Goldman Sachs.

When Temasek was founded in 2002, its portfolio “was largely concentrated in Singapore,” said Temasek chairman S. Dhanabalan.

Dhanabalan

Dhanabalan

According to Dhanabalan, this was thanks to Temasek’s  “yellow pages rule,” which suggested that Temasek divest itself of any investment that could be found in Singapore’s Yellow Pages.

 

Temasek investment tool - Singapore Yellow Pages

Temasek investment tool - Singapore Yellow Pages

Temasek’s “yellow pages rule” is something like throwing darts at a map to decide where to invest. With the help of the “yellow pages rule,” Temasek has succeeding in moving about two-thirds of its portfolio to countries outside of  Singapore.

Mr. Dhanabalan has now stated Temasek’s new investment rule in one short and nonsensical sentence, “We invest and divest as and when we see value.'”

You divest when you see value?

Sounds kewl, man.

Another change being made is that the frequent ad hoc meetings between Temasek and Singapore Government will be replaced with “more structured once-a-year briefings.”

In other words, Singapore will not have many chances to see what Temasek is doing.

Of course, at family dinners, Ho Ching, Temasek’s CEO, can tell her father-in-law, Singapore’s leader, Lee Kuan Yew all about where the money is hidden going.

There is also a back-up plan.

Goodyear clone Simon Israel

Goodyear clone Simon Israel

Waiting in the wings to take over Temasek is another foreigner, Simon Israel, quietly appointed as Temasek’s Executive Director.

Simon Israel has an impressive background. He has 10 years of experience with the Danone Group (leading yogurt producer) as Chairman Asia Pacific and a 22-year career with Sara Lee Corporation (pre-baked cakes) across the Asia Pacific region.

With his experience with yogurt and cakes, Simon Israel is ready and qualified to lead Temasek.

He looks like a Goodyear type of guy – Temasek goes for that.

Now Singapore’s leader, Lee Kuan Yew, can say like Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake!”

 

Dannon Yogurt!

Dannon Yogurt!

cakes_1

Sara Lee Cake!

18 comments to Temasek finds a replacement for Goodyear!

  • Low

    Admin, I think the write up posted above is okay for general reading but I would take issue with the sarcasm embellished on Simon Israel. If the intention was to provide a light hearted side to the issue that’s acceptable but somehow I I get the feeling it has been overdone.

  • Appreciate your comment, Low. My sarcasm regarding Simon Israel was written in a light hearted manner to subject Temasek to the ridicule it deserves. There may be a cultural element in my style. My wife, a Singaporean, often warns me not to joke with Singaporeans, as they don’t get it, or just don’t appreciate it. I am the last person to criticize Singaporeans for this, as I accept her and your criticism as valid. Let’s just say my writing is a product of my environment.

  • Low

    Mr Harding, thank you for the quick reply. Your point has been taken. (I hope Mr Simon Israel, if he is tuning into this forum, will find the dry humour there rather amusing like I did).

    Maybe your wife has been too long outfield she has lost touch with the changing shifts in sentiments of Singaporeans over the last 20 years. As a matter of fact, I would say Singaporeans are, in fact, very accustomed to jokes and puns, especially when they are at the receiving end of the humour!

    In fact our politicians themselves are also open to such amusement and are aware of dry political humour made at their expense. I would love to throw in a few quips for the enjoyment of readers here but unfortunately this is not the platform for such indulgence.

    It’s back to your subject on Temasek and its quest to find a successor. Its difficult to fathom the need for leadership change at this set up. In the first place, when Mdm Ho Ching was subordinated into its leadership years ago no real explanation was provided for this injection except for the usual run of mill reason based on meritocracy. So we do not really know whether its the case of the job requiring the personnel or the personnel requiring the job. Then came the sudden news that ‘Chip’ Goodyear would be replacing her even before she had duly warmed the seat. It came at a time of great financial upheavals in world markets and a clock ready to strike financial damage for countries with open economies, Singapore being one of them. And before ‘Chip’ even had the pleasure of warming his incumbent seat to 1 degree C, we are told that he would not be taking up the leadership after all due to differences in strategic direction. Of all the reasons to give I find this one the most obnoxious.

    Next came the news that there will be ‘constitutional’ changes in Temasek’s charter ! The leadership of Singapore acts as if Singaporeans have their brains in the pocket. The term ” we invest and divest as and when we see value” is meant to sound technical but it has no other meaning other than “we will take profit whenever we see them”. By inference it could also mean the other way round, i.e. we will cash out when we see no value. This it did by selling off its investments in Bank of America within a year, which contradicted its earlier rationale for entering into the bank based on its assessment of seeing visibility in value in the medium to long term (meaning it was meant to be held for at least 5 – 10 years), in the process taking a hit of at least US $3bn in losses. What was the reason for the sell out? Temasek had an original strategic interest of 13.7 % in Merriill Lynch, but after the takeover by Bank of America
    this was pared down to about 3 % of the merged entity. In the words of Mr.Ignatius Low (Asiaone Business) “Temasek went from owning a major stake in a global investment bank to a minor stake in a gigantic US lender”. It was a non-intended shift of strategic direction. Maybe this was the type of shifts in “strategic direction” which caused Temasek and ‘Chip’ to seperate in tangent trajectory.

    In retrospect, it would have been a better investment if Temasek had got into JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs instead of Merrill Lynch. Warren Buffett got his card right when he hit heavily on Goldman Sachs and not Merrill Lynch. Our brains in Temasek obviously still has a lot to learn from the seasoned big boys it seems.

  • Low: What Temasek is doing makes no sense, and what they are telling Singapore makes even less sense (if that is possible). Of course, if you want to be conspiratorial, it might make sense. Send all the money overseas, so when Lee Kuan Yeo flees Singapore in his getaway plane at Seletar his Government in Exile will be well financed.

    No, I am not be conspiratorial here, just pointing out the maximum downside risk – which, according to Game Theory, is the outcome to be avoided at all costs. (But why are Singaporeans kept in the dark as to their national reserves?)

    Yes, the reason given for firing Goodyear, differences in strategic direction is ridiculous. Did his “strategic direction” change suddenly, after Temasek took him on? I think not.

    Which brings me to the conspiratorial. I have searched for Goodyear in all the usual places – sites where you can track down anybody. Still, there is no Goodyear, no address, nothing. Hmmm.

  • Low

    Mr Harding

    What Temasek is doing may not make perfect sense. However, if we look further back the horizon and correlate some of the events (or series of events) happening around this region on both the political as well as the economic front then maybe the greater picture can be seen in clearer perspective (?) Taking your disclosure on the not-so-savoury resume of ‘Chip” Goodyear and the suggestion that of his colourful association with the CIA as a backdrop, let me bring back some memories of the recent past to light. This time round we should be more circumspect and would probably need to use Sherlock Holmes’
    magnifying glass and his power of deduction.

    The following events need to be relooked at in a different perspective :

    a). Nixon’s visit to Singapore in the early 70’s which was followed in the ensuing period(s) by the change in US stand on China to one of engagement rather than detente or containment.

    b.) Deng Xiao Peng’s visit to Singapore in the mid-80’s, which was followed by China’s change of ideological stand – the Chinese Communist Party thereafter dropping expansionism among its ideals and concomitantly withdrew its idealogical support for the Communist Party of Malaya. This move was instrumental in removing the communist threat from the Malay peninsula region once and for all.

    c.) The government of Singapore’s quiet withdrawal of unofficial political support of Republic of China (Taiwan) although its economic trade lines remain intact.

    d.) The government of Singapore’s move in promoting direct and indirect investments in China, often sending trade and investment delegations comprising of state as well as private enterprise leaders to key Chinese cities and trade zones. This included Singapore’s direct participation in developing trade zones and industrial projects in China at the municipal level. Again, this was done concomitantly with the Speak Mandarin Campaign (directed at the Chinese population in Singapore in the beginning stage but has since about to run the full course of its intended direction – getting all Singaporeans to be literate in the language).

    e.) The US’ unwavering support in supplying Singapore with modern state of the art and technologically advanced weapons and systems to its military, including staging posts and and training stations on US soil. The recent agreement to supply the republic with 24 F-15 SG Strike Eagles with advanced weaponry and avionics among one of the examples, not forgeting the importance of co-opting Singapore as one of the few co-partners in its new Joint Strike Fighter programme (F-35) besides Japan and South Korea outside of the NATO alliance countries.

    If we juxtapose these events into a conundrum a clearer picture will emerge. Firstly, Singapore is viewed by the US and China as an important outpost in the conduct of their politics, something like a bridge – a liaison provider. Secondly, in return for the service, trade offs were made which were bi-laterally beneficial to the countries involved. Thirdly, Singapore has become a key strategic asset of the 2 superpowers, the benefits to the republic are immense since it would mean that the island state now falls within unofficial umbrella of China and the US.

    So, if we now relook at ‘Chip’ Goodyear’s appointment as CEO of Temasek and your suggestion of his possible CIA involvement, the idea doesn’t seem so far fetched now given the background series of events in the recent past (and probably some on-going ones I suppose). The Singapore government’s involvement in CIA operations is not that exclusive knowledge as the efforts to cloak them seems to suggest. In the late 80’s – early 90’s a new merchant bank, Nugan Hand, was established in Singapore. Although it was granted a licence by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) little was known about the people behind it (or at least the people in the banking circles were unfamiliar with their names or background). As it later turned out, it was an institution involved in laundering of drug money in the region. But there was more than meets the eye, most insiders believe it was a CIA front which was used to finance black operations (in the region?). The cover had been blown.

    Perhaps, in the case of ‘Chip’ Goodyear’s departure from Temasek within a few months is also the case of his CIAcover being blown ? In which case, Mr Harding, you should claim credit !

  • Excellent and informative analysis, Low. Let me add that, in the late 70s and early 80s, CIA agent Dan Arnold was active in Singapore. My wife met him twice, and it is mentioned in our book, Escape from Paradise.

    Where Dan Arnold was an obvious and known CIA agent, “Chip” Goodyear is a less obvious potential CIA operative.

    Certainly, Goodyear bears all the earmarks of a CIA agent. I have tried my best to find out more about him, but without success. The fact that no one has come forth to “explain” Goodyear is a telling silence.

    If Goodyear is a CIA agent, it fits well with your analysis of Singapore’s favored position as being an important ally to both China and the US.

    With no evidence to the contrary, and with your suggestion that I step forward, I do hereby humbly claim credit for outing Goodyear as a CIA agent!

  • Low

    Mr Harding,

    Like you, I also had the opportunity of meeting up with an old friend of mine who was involved in a CIA orchestrated operation in the early 70’s, round about the same time you were having tea with Mr Dan Arnold. (Ghosh.. why do events of the intrigue always happen in the 70’s ?)

    After the Arab-Israeli War had ended in late 1973, this guy was part of a task force which commandeered an RSN naval patrol boat on a voyage to a Middle Eastern port. Its mission was to collect a secret military cargo consisting of several crates of unknown content and have them brought back to base for onward transmission to a third party. The secret cargo was, in fact, the component parts of a dis-assembled Soviet MiG-23 jet fighter, which at that time was a very advanced airrcaft for its era, and one which the US as yet did not have much relevant technical data pertaining to its electronics, avionics, and aero-dynamics. It was one of a number of planes captured by the Israelis from the Eqyptians during the war when they overran the Egyptian Third Army and captured the whole Sinai Peninsula.

    The task force was “decommissioned” once it reached our shores and its members duly disengaged thereafter. But it has been common knowledge to them that the subject cargo was subsequently transfered onto a CIA carrier. Perhaps your Mr Arnold, who was in the vicinity at that time, could have been an active backroom participant in this episode. Maybe he was doing it with the sleight of (one) hand while still sipping tea with you using the other. You didn’t happen to notice any crates lying around in your session with him did you ?

    Hope this piece of espionage may be of interest to you.

    Regards.

    • admin

      Interesting, Mr. Low – thanks.

      After 1979, Richard Armitage (Colin Powell’s best friend) resigned from the US Embassy’s posting and set up the “Far East Trading Company” as a front for his continuation in the drug trade and to bribe CIA agents in Laos and around the world. Soon After, Daniel Arnold was made to handle the drug business as well as the transportation of arms sales. Jerry Daniels then took over the drug trade from Richard Armitage.

      My wife first met Dan Arnold on 11 Feb 1983.

      After Chung Hin Chew’s incarceration in Brunei, Dan Arnold offered to rescue him by helicopter.

      Immediately after Chung Hin Chew’s release from incarceration in Brunei, he met with Arnold on the 29th and 30th of Oct 1985.

      Chung then flew to London and recruited as his lawyer Lord Alexander Irvine of Lairg, then a QC, and later to become Lord Chancellor of Great Britain and a member of the British Cabinet.

      The fact that the Chungs had Dan Arnold, and Lord Irvine on their team shows how influential they were. Like many fugitives, they now live quietly in Singapore.

      These items are covered in my book, Escape from Paradise.

      I was in the live translation of a meeting between Italians who were attempting to sell a nuclear submarine to a group from Singapore.

      Yes, Singapore is an interesting little island.
      Regards,
      John

  • Low

    Mr Harding

    Thanks for the extra feeds (I have not read ‘Escape From Paradise’).

    All these intrigue you mention, round about the time of Nugan Hand’s operative days, immediately conjured up my vivid memories regarding another very interesting and ‘mysterious’ group – the Carrian Group.

    Carrian Group was headed by a, hitherto, unknown Singaporean by the name of George Tan. The group made its appearance on the corporate scene in the South-East & East Asian region rather suddenly, and became a big time market player in no time. While the people behind this group remained obscure, Carrian & its subsidiaries were courted by bankers in the region with a fervour never seen before.

    There were rumours that ministers from the various countries were the beneficial owners with shareholdings held by proxies. That could invariably explain why its subsidiaries could obtain the necessary licence(s) needed for conducting those businesses requiring governmental permits in those countries with the greatest of ease. In some instances, they did not even meet the necessary requirments, as in the case of Carrian Travel which got their permit from the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board even though it did not satisfy some, if not, all the criteria.

    Subsequently, the intricacy that was woven into the web of the group’s business dealings soon took on the element of fraud (not surprisingly since the bankers were writing loans to the group on the back of references from other bankers !) and they were brought to bear before the courts.

    And then there was also the element of intrique which was provided by two unfortunate incidents. An auditor from Malaysia’s Bank Bumiputra Group (one of Carrian’s main bankers) who was on an audit trail in Hong Kong regarding some financial irregularities, was murdered, and his body found in a fruit plantation. A few months later, the body of the English legal consultant of the group was found at the bottom of his swimming pool, just before he was about to give his testimony to the court. And during the period of George Tan’s incarceration, a representative from the Immigration of Singapore flew to Hong Kong to have his expired Singapore passport duly renewed while he was in court custody. It seems George Tan’s Singapore political connections were strong enough to warrant the government’s special attention. Very interesting and unprecedented act of hospitality by the state.

    It makes me wonder. Who indeed was this George Tan ?

  • Low

    Mr Harding, on the note regarding the Italians trying to sell a nuclear submarine to a Singaporean group (government representatives I suppose) may I ask whether you have any knowledge the country of origin of the subject nuclear sub. To my knowledge , I am not aware that Italy ever operate any nuclear powered submarine before, so I presume it must have been a de-commissioned unit from either Russia, France, or Britain (unlikely to be US because Singapore deals direct with them).

    And, also regarding my earlier rant about the misinformation policy of our government, contrary to official eports that Singapore only started operating submarines (conventional diesel ones) from the late 90’s onwards, I aready knew that some of our midshipmen, especially the first batch that was sent to Portsmouth Naval School (UK) in 1970, had specific training on board submarines – including internship on British submarines in Meditarranean waters. If submarine training was already a specific area of expertise to be accquired by our naval forces, it is very likely ro assume that the hardware would also have been accquired subsequent to proficiency being attained. And these subs would have been stationed outfield (off balance sheet items) to form our ‘stealth’ force, unknown and unseen by our potential enemiesm and even by our neighbours.

    And why not? Such a policy had aready been in force. While the official version of our order-of-battle lists the the liightweight AMX-13 (15 tons) as our front line tanks they have maintained total silence on the fact that we had 60 Centurion Main Battle Tanks (55 tons) stationed in Taiwan. These heavyweights were and still are part of our ‘stealth’ force, including some F-15E Strike Eagles accquired in early 90’s after the 1991 Gulf War which were later stationed in Western Australia. The F-15’s, of course, have lost their stealth status following the much publicised and official purchase of another series of blocks totalling 24 new F-15SG versions in recent years.

    We have so many secrets….

  • admin

    Mr. Low – No, I have no idea of the country of origin of the nuclear submarine. My guess is a European country was the seller, and Singapore, the buyer. Just a hunch…
    The Carrian Group and George Tan are new to me. Sounds interesting,
    All the best,
    John

  • John Tan

    Hey whatever happened to HZ ? He’s off the radar for a week aready.

  • Don’t worry, John, he is still sending me emails…

  • Jim

    Mr Harding, something very interesting happened on the way to …Singapore.

    Just a couple of days ago, I posted some critical questions on TemasekReview (a site having quite a critical stand on LKY government). and guess what ? today that website is inaccessible ! Maybe they (the powers that be) put a block on my pc’s accessibility to the site or it could be a blanket wash out on them.

    The issue I raised ? Its about Temasek’s purchase of Shincorp from Thaksin a few years back. My query was : I wanted to know which member in Parliament raised the issue in the house regarding the $1.4bn tax liability which was in Shincorp’s books prior to Temasek’s purchase. Immediately subsequent to Temasek’s $1.88bn changing hands and Thaksin’s 49.6 % shareholding transfered to Ho Ching, the Thai tax authorities wasted no time to pressing and collecting the unpaid and overdue tax ‘lien’, threatening revocation of Shincorp’s licence. This was either gloss negligence on the part of Temasek’s big boys (or should I say, Ho Ching’s supercharged brain) or there was a hidden agenda involved.

    My intonation suggested that this episode was related to the Thaksin government’s cancellation of their proposed Kra of Isthmus Canal (something akin to the Panama Canal) whereby ships travelling from Indian Ocean to South China Seas, i.e. west to east, and vice versa, would bypass the port of Singapore. The project was withdrawn AFTER TEMASEK PURCHASED THAKSIN’S CONTROLLING STAKE IN SHINCORP, WHICH HAD AN IMPENDING OUTFLOW OF $1.4BN DUE TO BE PAID AS OVERDUE TAXES.

    TemasekReview’s site being taken off the air (or my accessibility to the site being cut off to prevent further disclosures of this nature) certainly conveyed the picture that I hit bulls-eye !

    Maybe it’s an area of subject you might want to put your investigative journalistic skills to further work.

  • Jim

    Just a note to admin.

    I think that blockage link to TemasekReview was ‘temporary’. Its back to business as usual. Interesting 2 hours of “lost time” I would say. I wondered what transpired in cyberspace during that window period.

  • During the “outage” they might have something to “clean up.”
    I am looking into your information on Shincorp. That’s an interesting connection. If I can verify enough information, I will post it.
    Thanks,
    John

  • Bloodrose

    Hiya John, came across this site via a link from another. I love it!!! The way you write… it gets the points across and its very funny too heheh. Keep on writing man =)

    And btw i am singaporean too