Temasek Review 2020

The DNA of Temasek

A 14th century trading sea town to a trusted steward in the 21st century.

Harking back to the 14th century crossroads of Asia, Temasek is an old name for Singapore, a former trading sea town, perhaps a minor kingdom linked to the Chola Dynasty of South India in the 11th century.

Pragmatic Idealism

Temasek started in 1974 with a S$354 million eclectic portfolio of 35 companies, including some cash. Neither a sovereign wealth fund, nor an operating conglomerate, Temasek paid taxes and dividends, like any company; and contributed to the community.

Helmed by pragmatic leaders and staffed by idealistic youngsters, it was a microcosm of a newly independent Singapore. Temasek began life questioning its role and purpose.

This constant questioning, even to this day, keeps Temasek rooted to doing well, doing right, and doing good, as an investor, institution and steward.


Temasek is an active investor, constantly reshaping our portfolio, always peering into the future, and asking where the world is going.

We work actively with our portfolio companies to think ahead about the future.
We share risks we see, such as an unknown infection outbreak in Wuhan, China, in early January 2020, and engage them on long term issues like climate.


We do things today with tomorrow clearly in our minds, always looking at the future implications of what we choose to do today.

We can succeed only if our community succeeds. We care deeply about the values of our people, helping them grow as individuals and as a Temasek team.


To do good, a good heart should be supported by practical and sustainable solutions.

We look to connect people and places, and spur dialogue for better understanding between people. We look to support research and technology, to help build a sustainable planet for future generations. We look to uplift lives and communities, so that no one is left behind.

Our non-profit philanthropic arms like Temasek Trust and Temasek Foundation give expression to the commitment to do well, do right and do good in the larger community.

No One is Safe till Everyone is Safe

Our COVID-19 response is an example of our approach as a steward.

Beyond redirecting some of the community funds accumulated since 2003, we tapped on our networks and staff, and tutored ourselves every day along the way.

This pandemic is an exponential challenge. The infections multiply every day that we miss identifying an infectious case. So, we decided to run ahead of the curve, even before we knew it would be a pandemic.

We took risks that would make a difference if greater risks emerge; otherwise, they are an insurance premium well spent if the pandemic subsides. For example, risk orders for new diagnostic test kits made by innovative small companies gave them the means to scale their production quickly. We worked through the entire chain, to reduce bottlenecks and improve throughput affordably.

It was also clear that we should not allow COVID-19 to be the biggest plastic pollution event. Thus, we supported campaigns for reusable DIY masks and #BYOBclean for hand sanitiser collection, to reduce plastic waste.

We kept an open mind for better or more cost effective solutions, moving from deep nasal swabbing to getting saliva samples validated for COVID-19 mass testing; from drawing blood for antibody tests in labs, to 15-minute finger prick serology tests.

We do our share, often with the support of others, and always in partnership with anyone who has willingness and a bold idea or solution.

With COVID-19, no one is safe till everyone is safe. We supported donations in and outside of Singapore. Even as Temasek focuses on our longer term T2030 goals, our staff volunteer selflessly to support a multitude of COVID-19 projects.