SINGAPORE: Good corporate governance is especially important in an adverse economic environment, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at the Singapore Corporate Awards on Tuesday (Jul 23) evening.
Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said this will ensure that companies have strong fundamentals and are able to adapt to technological change, and can go global despite economic uncertainty.
Strong board leadership is important to navigate market challenges and find new opportunities, said Mr Heng, urging companies not to be pessimistic.
The Singapore Corporate Awards included the Best Risk Management award for the first time on Tuesday.
Gold recipients for the award include DBS, China Aviation Oil and metals company Miyoshi.
Mr Heng highlighted that a good board would be able to navigate risk.
“Apart from operational and reputational risks, good boards prepare for strategic risks that could disrupt their businesses,” he said.
“The more pervasive use of digital technology, while driving efficiency, has also created greater complexity. Data protection and cybersecurity have become more critical.
“Risk management helps firms better identify and anticipate risks, mitigate them ahead of time, and get back on track should an unanticipated event occur,” he added.
Mr Heng also highlighted the need for board diversity to navigate growing complexity and lauded recipients of the Best Managed Boards award for being diverse and far-sighted.
Gold award recipients include CapitaLand, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, Banyan Tree Holdings and Frencken Group.
“They are diverse not only in terms of gender, but also feature an appropriate balance of expertise, skills and age,” said Mr Heng.
“This is important – we must not judge diversity only in form, with set parameters like gender, age or background. Rather, what matters is diversity in substance – whether the board has enough members with the range of expertise, experience and judgement.”
STAYING ON COURSE WITH INNOVATION
Rather than shy away from technological change during challenging times, Mr Heng urged companies to carry on with automation, engaging the digital economy and venturing abroad to ASEAN, where growth opportunities remain bright.
He suggested that companies can collaborate on this.
“As the business environment becomes more complex and challenging, businesses that collaborate are likely to do better,” said Mr Heng.
“Large players can collaborate with SMEs to adopt the latest technologies and build new capabilities. By partnering larger companies, SMEs can also better manage common challenges when venturing into new markets.”
Mr Heng also said that the Government will partner businesses in developing regulation to facilitate innovation, especially in the digital sphere.
He listed initiatives by the Government to open regulatory sandboxes for financial technology and autonomous vehicles, as well as ongoing consultation on the Electronic Transactions Act.
He also said the 4G leadership will strive to harness its strengths and bring the country forward in partnership with Singaporeans and Singapore businesses.