These two investment companies manage Singapore’s reserves, accumulated from years of surpluses, and are our sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). Both ranked inside the top 10 SWFs in the world, the estimated combined holdings of these two companies top out at over $730 billion.

This equates to approximately $210,000 per shareholder, or basically Singaporean citizen. So should citizens demand this money in cash at the next election and do away with our SWFs? Firstly, we’d be suffering great financial losses if we were forcibly selling assets, but we have to understand the roles SWFs play, and in particular Temasek and GIC.

Why was Temasek established?
Temasek was incorporated under the Singapore Companies Act in 1974 to own and commercially manage investments and assets previously held by the Singapore Government. These were investments made in the first decade of nation building since independence in 1965. The objective of the transfer of these assets to a commercial company was to free the Ministry of Finance to focus on its core role of policymaking and regulations, while Temasek would own and manage these investments on a commercial basis.

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