OPPOSITION MP Low Thia Khiang wants the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to be more “proactive” in dealing with investors who may have been mis-sold structured products.
The call by the Hougang MP came after a detailed overview by Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang about the MAS stance on the sale of the products that have caused so much anxiety and anger in the community.
“The minister’s answers sound like the MAS shouting across the river, while watching a fire burning,” said Mr Low, who suggested the Government could form a committee “to deal with the matter directly”.
He also asked if the investors’ plight was the result of a “less prudent regulation by the MAS” and “the Government’s decision to liberalise the financial market”.
He then asked the minister, who is also MAS deputy chairman, whether the “MAS agrees that the products sold by the financial institutions were low-risk and safe”.
Mr Lim replied: “What the MAS and what the Government want to avoid is to politicise this whole issue.
“Our main concern is to get the process done and to make sure that any investor who has been mis-sold or who has invested inappropriately in these products has due recourse and due compensation. That has been our focus.”
Mr Lim also said that if the issue is taken to court, “nothing will move” amid the legal wrangling.
“Your affected investors will have to wait weeks, if not months, maybe even years before they can have recourse. I don’t think that’s the best approach.”
Mr Lim also addressed Mr Low’s question on whether structured products were low-risk or safe.
The minister said the product’s prospectus would have outlined the risks: “These are explained on the first page or second page (of the prospectus), that these are structured products and it’s in bold print, that you can lose everything.
“So MAS has never said that these are risk-free products or low-risk products or safe products.”
Getting the right focus
Mr Low Thia Khiang:
“The minister’s answers sound like the MAS shouting across the river, while watching a fire burning. Can the MAS take a more proactive approach by convening a committee of inquiry to deal with the matter directly?”