The appointment of Davinder Singh to the board of SGX has become a controversial issue with professionals commenting on the righteousness of the act itself. Davinder has since been redesignated as a ‘non independent director’ from an independent director. Still some are still arguing that there is a conflict of interest and it is just not the right thing to do. Narayana Narayana wrote an article following Prof Mak Yuen Teen on the same subject. In this latest article dated April 1 to the Business Times, Narayana quoted 'Quis custodiet ipsos custodes' or in modern parlance, Who will guard the guards themselves? I think he deliberately chose April 1 which is very meaningful.
The flogging of this matter boils down to a deep seated suspicion that people who are connected by some relationship should not be involved in fiduciary duties that might lead to a conflict of interest. And the assumption is that human beans are fallible and can be tempted as they are not godly. So it is best that such relationship should not be allowed to exist, to free the individuals from committing acts that could lead to unpleasantness. Even if they were to act righteously and honourably, sometimes little mistakes happened and finger pointing is easy, one plus one equals two. Thus it is prudent and advisable that no one be allowed into such a sticky situation to be compromised through no fault of theirs.
Why put oneself in such a precarious situation when anything wrong can be used as evidence to say ‘I told you so.’ It is like the Chinese saying, ‘Jumping into the Yellow River would not be able to wash away the accusation.’ The wise will not put themselves in such situation and waiting to be persecuted in a matter of time. Only the reckless will think it is okay, beyond reproach.
Such thinking or logics are only wise to the lay people. When one is above the law, when one is in a station that is unquestionable, such considerations are often unnecessary. Eminent lawyer like Davinder Singh has everything in the world, and his reputation is worth his weight in gold. He is absolutely trustworthy and would not compromise himself or act in such a way that would lend his name into ill repute. He is a rare breed of individuals that have attained such infallible credentials.
There have been many similar situations like this and nothing untoward has happened. This only proves that if you have the right people, the honest and highly reputable people, you can trust them not to do anything silly. They will uphold their names and reputation and will not cross the line to get themselves into shitty situation.
The call for caution in the Davinder Singh’s appointment is thus unnecessary. No amount of regulations or law can prevent a crook to be crooked. But for honest and upright men and women, you don’t need any law or regulations to keep them straight. 'Quis custodiet ipsos custodes’ is only relevant and applicable to the common folks that are weak in spirit and will easily crumble by the temptation of man.
Have faith, fear not, trust me.
Just an after thought. We have this brilliant policy of paying people enough to prevent them from corruption. We can actually extend this policy to prevent people from committing crime by paying them for what they want to stop committing crimes. Just set up a crime prevention fund and allow these potential criminals to draw or demand the amount they need to stay away from crime. We could become the first crime free country in the world, without policing.