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Making The Case For DBS Bank

An article was published in the Sept. 9, 2002, BusinessWeek Asian Edition titled "Stirring up Singapore Inc." The intent of the article seemed to be to damage Development Bank of Singapore's credibility and public trust by presenting opinion that is not supported by fact.

For example, the article states: "DBS has been in turmoil since 1997 due to the overpriced acquisitions of consumer banks in Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand. The bank is still recovering from a botched merger in 2000 with POSBank that preserved two competing networks of retail branches and ATMs." The article also referred to a management buyout of Singapore's leading steel mill, NatSteel Ltd., irresponsibly reporting that the steel mill's "... CEO Ang Kong Hua is getting an inexpensive loan from DBS."

The article is at odds with the recognition DBS Bank has received from third parties, including institutional investors, security analysts, and other business publications, for embracing strong corporate governance, timely disclosure, and transparency.

It is untrue to allege that DBS Bank has been in turmoil since 1997 due to the allegedly overpriced acquisitions of consumer banks in Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand. In fact, DBS has not acquired any bank in Korea. It is also untrue to say that DBS Bank is recovering from a "botched" merger in 2000 with POSBank. The two networks are complementary, not competing, and have long shared a common back-office processing and technology platform after a successful integration program. It is also irresponsible for BusinessWeek to allege that DBS Bank had failed to act in the interests of its shareholders by offering to fund a management buyout of NatSteel with an inexpensive loan.

Jackson Tai

Vice-Chairman and CEO

DBS Bank Ltd.


Editor's note: See Corrections & Clarifications. I certainly agree that hiking university tuition fees was a close call for the Prime Minister ("Will Tony Blair dodge these bullets?" International Outlook, Feb. 2). Although he achieved a tiny parliamentary majority in favor of his proposals, it might be of interest to your readers to take a closer look at the process involved and to see how unfair it was to the people of England.

In his first term, Blair introduced the devolution of political power to Scotland and Wales. Decisions on education were to be taken by new institutions in Edinburgh and Cardiff with their own elected members, resulting in a very strange constitutional situation: Scottish MPs at Westminster representing Scottish constituencies are no longer in the position to influence decisions on higher education in Scotland, but they can continue to vote on proposals that massively impact on higher education in England.

This is precisely what happened on Jan. 27. Blair had to rely on his Scottish MPs to achieve a derisory majority of votes to impose higher tuition on students studying at English universities. Without the large number of Scottish MPs voting in favor, this bill was doomed. What does he have to say about this outrageous injustice? You got it, precisely nothing.

This side of Blair is seldom appreciated in the U.S. as he basks in admiration for his resolve on the Iraq issue.

John White

Harrogate, England With product patents finally bolstering India's intellectual-property regime next year, the outsourcing alliances that global pharmaceutical majors are now establishing with low-cost local generics appear to present mutually beneficial opportunities ("Big Pharma's new promised land?" International Business, Jan. 12). Before rushing into another outsourcing bubble, other critical points of consideration include: 1) multinationals' own time to market, vis-à-vis patent protection periods and the intellectual property regime change; 2) generic competitors' strategic intent and research and development capabilities; 3) likelihood of strong demand encouraging generic companies to copy drugs for either the Indian or other foreign markets; 4) consumer brand loyalty, price sensitivity, and clinical quality of copied drugs; 5) efficacy of regulatory implementation in India's outlying regions; and 6) recent trends in actual legal redress outcomes.

Calvin Chu Yee Ming

Singapore Coming from a marketing background, the article "Can Gillette regain its edge?" (News: The United States, Jan. 26) story was a fun read. However, baby boomers can remember our dads and grandfathers facing the morning with a trusty brush accompanied by a shaving mug, or lather in a tube. This experience taught me that the secret to a clean, close, comfortable shave is about the level of moisture on your face.

Funny how a barber can still make you feel like a million with a single-blade, straight-edge razor, and hot lather.

Charles Pavia

Yorba Linda, Calif. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) may be closed on lines of code, but it is open on intentions. Linux, on the other hand, is a Microsoft wannabe in disguise ("The most hated company in tech," Information Processing, Feb. 2). The system is developed for free by programmers whose sources of income and experience come from the same business model they are against. How many of these volunteer programmers work for free at their daytime jobs? Let's face it: Someday, somebody will become ultrawealthy, just like Bill Gates, but at the expense of these naive programmers. Then, these same programmers will be replaced by more entrepreneurial ones who believe in intellectual property.

Too bad I don't have the entrepreneurial skills to take advantage of the opportunity, but I know that someone out there does. I just hope that person will make a nice speech to thank the believers of the free world for making his or her wealth possible.

Frank Ambrosio

Union, N.J.

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