Lian Beng declines disclosing family members’ pay, citing poaching fears

SINGAPORE – Lian Beng Group has declined regulators’ request for the company to disclose the remuneration of employees singled out as family members of a director, the chief executive or a substantial shareholder, citing potential impact on the group’s ability to attract and retain key and middle management talent.

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) had asked the construction group and property developer to detail the responsibilities of five employees and state their remuneration in bands of $100,000 with the upper limit disclosed.

SGX, which is hardening its stance on remuneration disclosure, said that if the company refused, it should give a robust explanation for why the disclosure would not be in its interest.

In response to the query, Lian Beng said it would not disclose the remuneration of Ms Ong Sui Hui (senior contracts manager), Ms Ong Lee Yap (purchasing director), Mr Ong Phang Hoo (project director) and Mr Ong Phang Hui (plant and machinery director).

These employees have been with the company since the 1990s, save for Ms Ong Lee Yap, who started in 1988.

Lian Beng said the disclosure might result in challenges in a highly competitive business environment with a limited talent pool.

“It may encourage inappropriate peer comparison and provide an opportunity for competitors to use the information to their advantage,” Lian Beng said in a bourse filing on Sept 20. “The information is, therefore, treated as sensitive and confidential to ensure stability and business continuity.”

The last employee, Mr Ong Eng Keong, is an executive director and chief executive of SLB Development, a Lian Beng subsidiary listed on the Catalist. Lian Beng said Mr Ong Eng Keong’s remuneration package is not subject to the group’s approval but is instead approved by the remuneration committee and board of SLB. His remuneration was disclosed in SLB’s FY2022 annual report.

In a bid to raise corporate governance standards, the Singapore Exchange Regulation on Sept 13 said it plans to make companies disclose exactly how much they pay their CEOs and directors.

Only 35 per cent of companies disclosed director remuneration in dollar value and just 18 per cent did so for their CEOs. The majority of companies disclosed remuneration in salary bands.

Shares in Lian Beng were trading flat at 54 cents as at 9.20am on Wednesday. THE BUSINESS TIMES