INT.OFFICE - PANTRY - LATE AFTERNOON
Ah Tan was sipping his coffee at the corner table, glancing at his watch every now and then nonchalantly. Ali and Shan walked into the pantry. While Ali dispensed a cup of tea from the coffee machine, Shan sat down at the table and made his own 3-in-1 coffee.
AH TAN: Wow, Shan, your 3-in-1 coffee sure looks new to me.
SHAN: Oh... this is the latest 3-in-1 coffee with collagen added. Friend, collagen is important to us, you know? We're using our overworked brains like 25 hours a day and if you're not careful, you'll find all the white hair and wrinkles popping up! Just look at Boss! Or even look at George! See how they've aged over the years?
AH TAN: Oh... so collagen will keep you staying young?
SHAN: Yap! It's the same thing my wife is having, so we can't be wrong! Hahaha...
Ali walked over to sit down as Shan chuckled at his own joke.
ALI: Hey brudder, did you read the news today? President Ma and his senior officials apologized for not doing more and not fast enough in the typhoon emergency! They even bow to the people sia!
AH TAN: Serious? Bow to the people?
ALI (nodding): Yap, and from the photo, it looks like they bowed damn low man!
AH TAN: Wow, I think they kana influenced by the Japanese liao!
SHAN (shaking his head and frowning): Unacceptable!
AH TAN: Yah, I guess they were really too slow in deploying their troops to save the people.
ALI: Machiam Hurricane Katrina that time lah!
SHAN: Nonono, I think you've mistaken me. I'm not saying that it's unacceptable for them to react slow. I'm saying it's unacceptable for them to bow to the people.
Both Ah Tan and Ali paused from drinking and stared at Shan.
SHAN (jerking his head sideways and aloft right palm simultaneously): How can the government even apologize to its people? And to even bow? That is so wrong!
AH TAN (raising left eyebrow): Erm... and so what should they have done?
SHAN: Very simple! All they've to do is to simply say "We admit it's a mistake. Now let's move on"! That's how we would have handled it right?
AH TAN (nodding): That's true... like how we had handled the Mas Selamat case.
ALI: But even after they've apologized, I'm sure this incident will affect the peoples' impression of the government's ability to handle crisis.
SHAN: Nonono... it's not fair for the people to think this way.
ALI: Not fair?
Shan took a quick sip from his 3-in-1 coffee with collagen.
SHAN: It's like a dent on a car.
ALI (baffled): Apa?
SHAN: This flood incident. It's as if you met with a minor accident and now there's a little dent on the car body. We can't deny it is a dent in the President Ma and his government's reputation. And I agree it's a very visible dent in the fender. But there is no damage to body parts, no damage to axle, no damage to engine. You can still drive the car around and years later, you might not even notice the dent anymore!
AH TAN: So President Ma shouldn't be bothered with how he had screwed up this flood emergency rescue, just like how Temasek shouldn't be bothered with its CEO saga?
SHAN (patting Ah Tan on his shoulder): Exactly!
Ali put down his tea and nudged Shan.
ALI: Hey brudder, talk about Temasek, why exactly did that Chip left? Money no good?
Shan stared at Ali and held his breath, apparently blindsided by the unexpected question.
SHAN: Ali, you know we shouldn't be talking about this right?
ALI (giving Shan an apologetic look): Just curious lah, brudder! But didn't the people ask you? Or the press?
SHAN: Well, people do want to know, there is curiosity; it is a matter of public interest. But that is not sufficient reason to disclose information. I totally understand the interest, but it serves no strategic purpose.
Ah Tan rubbed his chin and tried to digest Shan's answer.
AH TAN: So you're saying, the people are only kaypo on why Chip left, and tell them also no use because it's not as if they can help or make the difference?
SHAN: Erm... kind of...
AH TAN: And even if you tell them, they might not understand as well, so don't waste you time?
SHAN (patting Ah Tan on his shoulder): Exactly!
All three men chuckled and drank their tea and coffee.
AH TAN: Hey Shan, so your side is not going to interfere with Temasek's CEO recruitment right?
SHAN (shaking his head): No Tan, not at all. Once we interfere in what goes on in Temasek, then we are, over time, changing the character of that relationship between us and Temasek, where it's a relationship that clearly designates Temasek as independent of us in its operations including its internal governance procedures. Internal governance should be managed by Temasek's board.
ALI (interrupting): So that when anything ever cocks up again, Temasek's board will bow and apologize but never us, right?
Tharman Shanmugaratnam,Temasek,Charles Chip Goodyear,President Ma Ying-jeou