David Gerald sees SIAS as part of a form of ‘tripartism’ that includes regulators and companies that will be positive for the local market. But not everyone agrees with his approach to engaging the boards and management of companies.

SINGAPORE (Dec 3): David Gerald, president and CEO of the Securities Investors Association (Singapore), or SIAS, shakes his head in disapproval as he talks about how some investors have conducted themselves at shareholder meetings. “When you take a contentious approach in the meeting, you straight away put the board on a reserved note — they become quiet and back down,” he tells The Edge Singapore in a recent interview. “You [want to] engage them intelligently and ask them questions about the annual report, be it governance, business strategy or performance.”

Amid a spate of corporate scandals over the past year — from unauthorised loans being taken out in Midas Holdings’ name to Datapulse Technology attempting to buy a hair products business without adequate due diligence — many small-time investors are looking askance at the boards and top management of Singapore’s public listed companies. But attempts at more aggressive engagement by some aggrieved investors have not gone down well. In at least two instances, vocal shareholders were threatened with legal action by the companies in which they held shares.

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