Burger King vs Sinar Mas/Golden Agri over green issues

In today’s Sunday Times, I read that Burger King cancelled its contract to buy palm oil from Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART). This is said to be a move to protest over Sinar Mas not adopting sustainable farming practices and destroying rainforests in generating the palm oil.

This is a timely reminder of the importance of “Green Reporting”/sustaintability reporting and SGX’s recent issuance of guidelines (ie. non manadatory) on disclosure of social and environmental aspects of business.

Boards and management of companies are slowly and surely being made accountable to all stakeholders. Many years ago, they were said to be only responsible to shareholders for financial results. Now given emphasis on sustainable reporting, management are now being queried on how they achieve those results and the impact they have on the communities within which they operate in.

While I personally hope for such information to be made available on a statutory basis, I am however happy that SGX has taken the first move to “encourage” such reporting.

Bursa Malaysia is ahead of SGX when it legislated (ie. by law) that such reports be made compulsory back in 2007!!! According to ACCA survey as reported by Darryl Wee, CEO of ACCA Singapore, 49 companies in Malaysia generated sustainability reports in eight years. In comparison, Singapore lagged behind with only 21 companies.

P/S – SMART operates all palm oil plantations for Golden Agri Resources, a company listed in Singapore Exchange.

If you don’t tell,…

Singapore under seige for F1

The managing director of Chuan Soon Huat Industries Group and four other directors were charged in Court for failing to tell the world that there has been a change in effective control of a public listed company.

Mr Lee Tian Teck, the executive chairman, was not in control of the company for two and half years. But nobody bothered to report the matter to the Authority for that long a time.

The gang of five has thus committed an offence under Section 157(1) and if found guilty, each could face a maximum fine of $5,000 or get the jail hospitality for up to a year.

Obviously, we cannot have a situation where there has been a coup in the government of a country. Amazingly, the gang can keep that a secret for so long in this small island of Singapore.

teaching you about "ethics"

One of the biggest problems facing the accountancy profession across the globe is dealing with issues that bordered on ethical grounds.
A student asked me recently on what should he do when the auditor has asked him to disregard some audit errors done.
Taking a step back from such incidents, the biggests issues seem to be:-
  • how do we teach our students and
  • what to teach our students about “ethics”?
How do our students learn about managing ethical issues?

In July 2007’s Accounting & Business (A&B), “ethics should be taught (and learnt) as a part of lifelong professional learning”.

What to teach then?
Peter Williams in A&B presented 5 fundamental principles in:-
  • integrity —- [“yuen cherk”]
  • objectivity — [“unbiased and focused”]
  • professional competence and due care — [“got leow” and not “boh chap”]
  • confidentiality — [“your mouth must learn to talk less or stop talking”]
  • professional behaviour — [“dun anyhow”]

Friends – It is not easy to be a professional and an accountant at the same time.