Every president has cronies, tell me one who didn't: Stephen CuUnjieng confident there are ways to keep their greed in check
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Every president has cronies, tell me one who didn’t: Stephen CuUnjieng confident there are ways to keep their greed in check

Straight-talking investment banker Stephen CuUnjieng thinks Filipinos shouldn’t be worried that presumptive president Bongbong Marcos would review the crony capitalists who pillaged the country during Martial Law.

“Every president has cronies and gangs. They helped fund your campaign right? Basically, there’s a group of businessmen who are in no matter what, because they make sure they are in with no matter who. Because they are in regulated businesses, so it’s their job to be in good standing with whoever is president: past, future, present, whatever,” said CuJunjieng in an interview with ANC News’ anchor Michelle Ong.

CuUnjieng believes that the key issue is how far these cronies are allowed to go and he is confident that there are curbs in place to moderate their greed.

“When did the Marcos cronies really become enveloping cronies? After Martial Law. We’re not there. There is a limit to what one’s cronies can do because ramshackle and feeble as our institutions are, it’s not non-existent,” said CuUnjieng.

“There may be checks rather than balances, but they are checks like media, etc…. other people na ibabangga niya if you go this way. There may not be balances but there are checks,” he added.

CuJunjieng also noted not all cronies are equal and their need for Malacanang support depended on the industry they are in.

“Every president has cronies tell me one who didn’t? It’s how far the cronies are allowed to go. There are people who I would not call cronies but people who always need to have good relations with the government. And they are not just cronies,” said CuUnjieng.

“It’s one thing to have regulated businesses, like utilities, it’s another thing to have lightly-regulated industries like retail, banks…But there’s no complete laissez faire but there are degrees. For those who are heavily regulated, their job is to just make it on good terms with regulators that’s true globally. The question is are they so powerful that they can regulate regulator?” he added.

CuUnjieng is currently an adviser of Singapore-based venture capital firm Openspace. He is also a director of First Philippine Holdings Corp., Phoenix Petroleum and The Wharton School.

He used to sit on the board of Aboitiz Equity Ventures and board adviser of SM Investments, vice chairman of Macquarie Group, managing director of Merrill Lynch Asia, and director of Salomon Brothers Hong Kong.


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