Singapore Election 2011

Latest news and updates about Singapore's 14th GE

Spawning of GLCs and statutory boards under the PAP to control Singapore’s economy

Posted by singaporege2011 on May 1, 2011

The Singapore Miracle, pages 20 – 21

Statutory boards were wholly-owned government bodies created to produce the community goods and provide the economic and social infrastructure that the private sector could not supply.

By the end of the 1960s, Singapore had statutory boards for industrialization, telecommunications, utilities, port development, public housing and industrial training.

In the 1970s and the 80s, they moved into monetary and financial activities, productivity, research and development, tourism, urban renewal, broadcasting, trade, construction, mass rapid transit and aviation.

By 1998 there were over 80 statutory boards. These included the CPF, HDB, EDB, PUB and MAS.

The boards also began to spawn Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) to fulfil specific functions. The GLCs themselves are companies in which the boards had a controlling interest, usually one quarter or more equity.

Often the GLCs would become sizable entities in themselves and breed their own groups of GLCs. The Ministry of Finance oversees them through holding companies.

GLCs first appeared in the manufacturing sector. They started with food, textiles, and garments and progressed to petrochemicals, biotechnology and aerospace. In the service sector, GLCs began with trading activities and later entered the financial, property and development, transportation and warehousing fields.

Over the decades GLCs have rapidly proliferated along with their holding companies. GLC figures hit 720 by 1994 but declined to 592 by 1996.

Political reasons are likely also to have prompted the government to rely on MNCs and GLCs to develop Singapore. MNCs must depend on government approval to operate in the country. They, along with the GLCs, are much easier to control than independent local enterprises.

Better to have the economy run by compliant MNCs and GLCs than by private indigenous concerns that could provide strong backing for anti-government parties.

Lee and his team have never forgotten the support that the Singaporean magnate Tan Lark Sye and the Chinese business community gave to the PAP’s left-wing opponents, the Barisan Sosialis, in the early 1960s.

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