See Part 1 here.
REPLY RECEIVED FROM BOARD OF DIRECTORS, NTUC INCOME INSURANCE COOPERATIVE LIMITED ON 28 MAY 2008
Thank you for your e-mail dated 27 May 2008 addressed to our Chairman. Your feedback has been noted.
We appreciate the interest shown by our members to attend our 38th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 30 May 2008. Bearing this in mind, we have in fact changed the AGM venue from the Auditorium at NTUC Income Centre to the Auditorium at Level 7, NTUC Centre, One Marina Boulevard, Singapore 018989. The new venue has a capacity of 550 which is more than twice that of the Auditorium at NTUC Income Centre. The venue was changed to accommodate the increased attendance this year.
NTUC Income has more than 500,000 ordinary members. You have suggested that Income should enable all its members to attend the AGM. Looking at the numbers, you must agree that it would be quite impossible to accommodate everyone at any one location. By changing the venue to a larger auditorium we have accommodated the interest shown by our members to attend this year's AGM up to reasonable limits.
As we have reached the capacity of the new venue, we are unable to accommodate more attendees. We have explained this to members who have contacted us and most have accepted our explanation.
We wish to thank you once again for your feedback. Please be assured that NTUC Income is mindful of the rights of its members and will ensure that members' interests are respected and accommodated up to reasonable limits.
We note that you have registered to attend the AGM and look forward to your presence at the meeting.
Chief Financial Officer
RESPONSE TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS, NTUC INCOME INSURANCE COOPERATIVE LIMITED ON 30 MAY 2008
Thank you for assuring "that NTUC Income is mindful of the rights of its members and will ensure that members' interests are respected and accommodated up to reasonable limits".
Unfortunately, I cannot agree with your position. With all due respect to your good office, it appears driven more by pragmatic ideals rather than the position reflected in the Cooperative Societies Act.
Section 50 of the Cooperative Societies Act provides that "the supreme authority of a society shall be vested in the general meeting of its members, at which every member has a right to attend and to vote" (emphasis added).
Lack of capacity or "reasonable limits" does not seem to be a strong enough reason to limit this supreme authority and a member's right to attend.
There are many societies and companies in the world over which have as many members as NTUC Income, if not more.
One good example in Singapore is Singtel, which has over 300,000 shareholders and whose Corporate Governance Committee is headed by a top legal thinker, the Honourable Professor Tommy Koh. Despite its large shareholder base, Singtel, to the best of my knowledge, does not have a similar practice of turning away its ordinary shareholders from its AGM.
It is not unheard of organisations with membership numbers as large as NTUC Income to hold such events in even venues like stadiums. This is because a member's right to attend the AGM is sacrosanct. Such members cannot be turned away from attending the meeting simply due to lack of capacity.
Clearly, those members, who have expressed an interest to attend your AGM, should not have been turned away in the first place. I note, however, that most of have accepted your explanation and may have, unfortunately, waived their right to attend the AGM.
My concern is for those who continue not to accept your explanation. Surely, they continue to hold the right to attend the AGM and cannot be turned away.
However, if you can assure me that your position is based on the advice of your General Counsel to the Board of Directors and that the Registrar of Cooperative Societies is in agreement with the advice of your General Counsel, I am happy to defer to the view of your General Counsel.
Wishing you a fruitful AGM.
Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this?