First there was the curious case of the 300 pieces of Peranakan artefacts and silverware whose value went from $15 million to under $2 million within a matter of three expert valuations. And all because of a complaint, it seems!
The donation to the Peranakan Museum was made in 2008 and announced last year amid much fanfare. The donors, Mr and Mrs Tan Eng Sian, eventually asked for the collection to be returned.
Mr Tan, who is in his 80s, is a descendant of pioneer and philanthropist Tan Kim Seng.
The expert who gave the $15 million valuation is Mr Peter Wee, a well-known Peranakan artefacts dealer and a fourth-generation Baba who is a descendant of prominent businessman Tan Keong Saik.
He is standing by his valuation and also revealed that he received a $15K fee for his job, not the $100K that he was widely rumoured to have received.
National Heritage Board chairman Tommy Koh wrote to the Straits Times to explain why further valuations were called for after the gift had been accepted by the Asian Civilisations Museum.
“… the Asian Civilisations Museum board felt it had a duty to review the original valuation, after receiving a complaint …..”
While we know that the gift was returned, that there were two sharply lower valuations after Mr Wee made his and that there was a complaint, the Singapore public remains in the dark as to
- who made the complaint
- who the two Peranakan experts whose valuations carry more weight than Mr Wee’s and last but not least
- how much were the subsequent experts paid for their valuations?
Care to enlighten us, Prof Koh?
Now, the Tan Eng Sian donation isn’t the only multi-million dollar deal that has come a cropper as a result of a complaint.
Last week the Singapore stock market, which already had its hands full from the Grecian debt and deficit fall-out, had to deal with the fall-out from an 11th hour (OK, 12 hours, if you must be precise) pull-out by IPO aspirant, China’s New Century Shipbuilding.
Rumours there were aplenty with various unnamed sources close to the matter giving the same story: the withdrawal was due to the Chinese shipbuilder’s failure to disclose that its subsidiary is the defendant in a US$60 million lawsuit filed by Singapore-based Sino Noble. Also, New Century is alleged to have included two shipbuilding contracts worth a total of US$180 million, which had already been terminated some time ago
And how did our bourse SGX get wind of that lawsuit allegation and contracts inflation? A complaint apparently is New Century’s undoing.
Some powerful complainant it must have been surely for those astute professionals working on the offering — and whose faces must now be covered in egg, if the complaint is true — to take notice? How can a lawsuit involving a Singapore company, which would easily turn up in a search on public records, be overlooked?
Like NHB and ACM over the Peranakan donation, I’ve a feeling we are never going to know who complained. SGX, MAS, UBS, Morgan Stanley and DBS will probably seal what they know about this fiasco in a … a… kamcheng?