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Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

RWS: Appeal to their superstitious nature

In Casinos on 31/05/2011 at 8:16 am

Many moons ago, I flippantly posted this when RWS was facing a spot of bad luck when it opened. Well it soon ran into a spell of gd luck that even the deaths of two dolphins and the relocation of the rest of the dolphins to a secret location in the Philippines did not break.

But then RWS ran into problems with the government and had to pay fines. Then gaming revenues declined. The government has yet to release its guidelines on the licensing of junket operators. This means that Genting will not be able to tap the full potential of the high roller market, as its business model for this market depends on junket operators. Then a few days after the official opening of the theme park, the aircons went out.

Maybe the dead dolphins have cursed RWS. Rather than appeal to the scruples of RWS’ Malaysian Chinese controlling owners and managers, dolphin huggers, swimmers and lovers should appeal to the superstitious side of these Malaysian Chinese. I’m sure there are credible shamans, Feng Shui persons and witch doctors prepared to say, “Free the dolphins and gd Karma will follow”.

Meanwhile give the shares a miss.

Indonesia: Retail Reit paradise?

In Indonesia, Reits on 30/05/2011 at 5:48 am

There are some interesting Indonesian consumption patterns according to a recent report by Indonesia’s Kresna Securities.

It cited a survey by research firm MARS Indonesia saying that discounts and promotions are able to change 67% and 52% of window shoppers into buyers respectively even though they may not have been interested in buying at first.

‘Indonesian consumers are dominated by shop lovers and lifestyle shoppers, who accounted for 54.5% of total consumption in 20.

In my view, a locally-listed Reit that will benefit from these trends is Lippo-Mapletree Indonesia Retail Trust. It is a Singapore-based real estate investment trust with a diversified portfolio of income producing retail and retail-related properties in Indonesia.

Check it out yrself as I can’t say more. I bot some shares earlier this year.

Freeing Flipper: Try govmin

In Casinos on 29/05/2011 at 7:44 am

I agree that dolphins should not be held captive and made to perform for another species.

But the appeals to RWS are misplaced. I’m sure RWS would like nothing better than to be rid of the Flipper controversy. Not gd for business. It’s in the entertainment business and bad publicity is terrible for business.

The problem is that it won the bid to build the casino and ancillary attractions because it was the only bidder that was prepared to catch Flipper and make him dance. The other bidders, perhaps having more moral scruples, did not include dolphins. Or maybe only M’sian Chinese have no scruples when it comes to dolphins?

RWS won because of the promise to catch Flipper and make him perform. The government is holding RWS to its promise on Flipper. It cannot do otherwise. If it released RWS from its obligation to have Flipper perform, it risks being sued by the losing bidders, and tarnishing S’pore’s reputation as a place where the rule of law prevails.

The only way out is for the government to impose a very large fine (a few hundred million dollars?) as punishment for RWS not meeting its obligations on Flipper. The fine has to be huge to avoid the losing bidders suing the government. RWS has to feel the financial pain of including Flipper (against his will) in its bid.

In that case there would be more reason to sell RWS shares.

Too greedy again?

In Property on 28/05/2011 at 11:23 am

Laguna Park, a residential redevelopment site in District 15, is up for en bloc sale at an expected price of S$1.33bn.

This is the second time the 33-year-old development has been put up for sale, with a previous attempt in October 2009 that failed. No-one was interested at bidding at the S$1.2bn minimum price. A local developer offered between S$950m and 1bn, but nothing happened.

Well the present tender is likely to fail given that the

– price is extremely rich given that the developer will have to pay to top the lease to 99 yrs,

– coming torrent of private flats coming onstream, and

– annc that the HDB is returning to the policy of building in anticipation of demand, with the twist of putting up flats quicker, and building more of them this year.

Why so greedy leh? Should have tried S$1.2bn again. My guess-estimate is S$1.1bn would be the highest any developer will bid.

PAP needs a public communications SWAT team

In Political governance on 28/05/2011 at 10:43 am

After Dr Lim Wee Kiak fell into a hole after he implied that the PAP only listens to S’poreans if they are as well paid as PAP ministers or MPs, he dug himself deeper into said hole, by claiming his remarks were taken out of context, then a joke. He was undermining the PM’s message that the PAP was listening.

In the end, he has had to apologise and eat his words.

So he strayed from the PM’s message of a listening PAP and tried to hide his mistake. Tt wasn’t that the PM’s message to the voters was all Wayang or Dr Lim was a subversive intent on saboing the PM and the PAP. It was an “honest mistake”, showing yet again that the PAP system has failed to find an MP that is, at the very least, competent verbally.

Now that the PM has issued his instructions to MPs, stressing that this is a “new era”, there is no excuse for MPs to go off-message.

The PAP must start disciplining members who stray-off message*. If the PM’s dad is not off-limits to a public rebuke, why should Dr Lim Wee Kiak? One stupid remark can ruin the PM’s strategy, given that the PAP has great difficulty putting its side of any story across in the new media, a place where it has a tiny presence and few friends or allies.

The PAP should also have a SWAT team to craft responses to “off-messages”, when they happen. It is clear that this MP was left to his own devices in crafting his response, making things worse, before getting better.

He should have been advised to acknowledge his mistake, apologise for it and then act on the apology: not to obfuscate, misrepresnt and hope the problem would go away. The new media here would not allow him to get away with evading the issue.

Imagine the goodwill that would have resulted to the PAP if he had been publicly rebuked, and then he acknowledged and apologised for his mistake, and acted on the apology.

Final tot, as a PAP MP is the MD of the S’pore office of a leading int’l PR firm, I’m surprised at the bad public communication skills of the PAP. PAP not prepared to pay firm’s high fees or MD refuses to give special discount? 

*I’m assuming that the PAP has communicated to members the messages it wants them to communicate to the electorate. If not, it should.

Immigration: This balls-up happened here?

In Economy on 27/05/2011 at 10:05 am

Randall Hansen of the University of Toronto explained that the shift in UK immigration policy from a stricy regime to a very liberal regime by the then Labour government was a matter of economic policy, with Labour believing that highly skilled immigrants would expand human capital, and that low-skilled immigrants would prevent labour shortages … The problem, Mr Hansen continued, was that the government had drastically overestimated the benefits, and underestimated the rush of migration that would follow. Labour had forecasted a fiscal benefit of £6 billion a year—overly optimistic, nearly commensurate with the estimated fiscal benefit of immigration to the United States, which is a much bigger economy. And Labour had predicted that perhaps 20,000 … nationals would arrive; the number was closer to 700,000, as had been predicted by the right-wing sceptics at Migration Watch. When the benefits failed to materialise, the politics turned sour, particularly as the adverse economic impacts of immigration were concentrated among people least prepared to absorb them—as is often the case.

(The above is an extract from a longish post on an Economist blog.)

This being S’pore we will never know if the government got its estimates of benefits and numbers coming in wrong, and getting the voters very angry,with George Yeo, Ms Lim, LKY, GCT, Cry Baby Lim, and the three stooges (Wong, Mah and Lim) having to pay the price.

Head south young S’poreans

In India, Indonesia on 27/05/2011 at 9:25 am

Indonesia is the best place for entrepreneurs to start a business, a BBC survey suggested. The US, Canada, India and Australia are seen as among the next best countries at supporting new businesses.

So head south to Indonesia or Oz, young entrepreneurs.

With MPs like these, PAP does not need enemies

In Political governance, Wit on 26/05/2011 at 9:43 am

“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals, hence a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity.”

- Dr Lim Wee Kiat, PAP MP for Nee Soon GRC, 24 May 2011 in Lianhe Wanbao.

As he is one of the handpicked elect elite of the PAP, these remarks have to be taken as official PAP policy. “We only talk to people who earn more than us because they are the only people worthy of our respect.”

So where does the “listening” of the PM come into this framework of “Money talks”? Are PM’s cabinet changes and ministerial salary review nothing but Wayang.

Can the PAP pls clarify wheher Dr Lim’s views are only his personal views.

If it turns out that this gd Dr is only giving his personal views, then he joins “Peanuts” Goh, Kate Spade Tin, “NS=Saving babies”Puthu and “M’sia gd for food only” Foo as people who the PAP should fear more than the PAP clones in blue and Dr Chee’s redshirts.

5 easy ways to ruin yr financial life

In Financial competency on 26/05/2011 at 9:11 am

According to this, we can unthinkingly wreck our finances by

– having insufficient or too late insurance cover

– getting a criminal record

– having kids without thinking of the cost

– getting into excessive spending and debt

– being a bad employee.

Anyone of these could destroy you. All five, and you are dead.

SBS: Trying to sabo govmin’s initiatives on innovation?

In Uncategorized on 24/05/2011 at 10:05 am

Taz the impression I got when I read in ST that SBS is no longer making its bus data freely available to smartphone apps developers on the ground that commuters may get the wrong info. Surprise, surprise: SBS has its own app for iPhones (not too popular it seems) and is developing one for Android phones.  

I know from personal experience that developers of applications for mobile phones see the shortcomings of the bus system as an opportunity to develops apps that S’poreans will use.

So SBS is trying to kill the competition? And in the process saboing the govmin’s attempts to make S’pore a leading innovator in  the smartphone apps.

A few tight slaps for SBS mgt. SBS remember that yr profits are dependent on govmin largesse. Saboing govmin is like biting the hand that feeds you.

Spending S$4.9bn justification for S$470bn +++ reserves?

In Political economy, Political governance on 24/05/2011 at 9:37 am

President S R Nathan said recently that the recent recession, in which the government for the first time sought his office’s approval to draw on reserves, has validated the need for Singapore to have strong national reserves.

He must be talking of the S$4.9bn that was used to fund the government budget in 2009 and which has since been returned.

Juz taking into account the monies managed by GIC, and Temasek’s funds,  our reserves then were at least S$470.3bn. This means that only 1% were used to fund the recession budget.

Do we need such massive reserves when we draw-down so little, given that the reserves are not the result of nature’s bounty but of the people’s savings.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/how-we-fund-our-swfs/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/property-sales-also-fund-our-swfs/

Gd for S’poreans, bad for stock market?

In Economy, Property on 23/05/2011 at 6:54 am

Seems CIMB thinks that the “old” policies on HDB flats, FTs and tpt (that cost the PAP votes because the policies made voters suffer) are better for listcos than any changes.

In our post-elections note, we highlighted that a raised HDB income eligibility cap and slower immigration and slower population growth will be detrimental for property stocks. We reiterate our negative view on property. The upcoming hike in the HDB eligibility ceiling will move the sandwich class from over-priced mass-market private properties back to HDB flats. We think that that will be bad for developers with large mass-market exposure (Allgreen Properties, City Developments).

A marked slowdown in foreign immigration will reduce rental demand, more telling when new completed supply comes onstream in 2013. Capped foreign immigration would have negative implications for some industries that depend on foreign workers, namely, construction and shipyards. Lastly, the need to keep public-transport fares low suggests that ComfortDelGro Corp and SMRT Corp may not be able to get the fare hikes that they have applied for this year. Overall, a changed government trying to portray receptivity to the people is unfortunately, bad for corporate profitability.

We downgraded the Singapore market from ‘overweight’ to ‘neutral’ on May 18 on three points: 1) a worsening outlook for corporate profitability; 2) signs of some stalling in US GDP growth and a revival of old EU debt concerns; and 3) new policies after the Singapore General Election which could be further drags on corporate profitability. We retain this view and our bottom-up target of 3,560 for the Straits Times Index.

Our top picks are still DBS Group, Fraser and Neave, Noble Group, Singapore Airlines, Overseas Union Enterprise, Sembcorp Industries and Wilmar International. Our ‘ideas’ are still CWT Limited, Ezion Holdings, Frasers Commercial Trust, Midas Holdings, STX OSV Holdings, OKP Holdings, UMS Holdings and Foreland Fabrictech Holdings.

Singapore Market – NEUTRAL

SingTel dividend helps pays the bills

In Political economy, Political governance on 22/05/2011 at 10:20 am

SingTel is paying a dividend of S$0.258 a share.

For those S’poreans like me who have kept the SingTel shares we were allocated all those many yrs ago, the money is coming in handy. I still have the 1667 shares I was allocated and this means I will get S$430.09. Peanuts compared to the 8 months bonuses’ coming the way of ministers, but for a retiree (with no pension, only CPF) any little bit helps.

Sigh: once a upon a time S$500 was “peanuts”; not any longer.

After this, radical moves are easy

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 22/05/2011 at 9:27 am

On 3 May 2011, PM publicly told off his father twice. These actions must have been very painful for someone brought up in the Confucian way, a key tenet of which is deference to the elderly.

At the public rally at UOB Plaza, PM said

You know MM’s style. He tells it like it is. When he tells you something, you know exactly what he’s thinking and what he’s talking about, straight from the shoulder. No ifs, no buts, solid hard talk.

I think you have got used to our style, we understand the hard truths, we understand what we need to do but we don’t try to do it MM’s style. We do it our way.

We spend some time to talk, to explain, to persuade, to understand the difficulties and hesitations, to overcome some of these working problems so that we can go in the right strategic direction.

And it’s a difference in generation, between MM’s team and my team, between your parents and you.

We discuss this often in Cabinet and MM says: “Why don’t you do things in a certain way? Proceed, it is important for Singapore.” We say: “Yes, we understand but please let us do it our way because we are different from you” …

MM understands that but MM is MM and, whether it is ordinary time, whether it’s election time, you can be sure it’s the same MM but this is the PAP Government. Me and my team, we are taking it forward, same strategic direction but doing it our own way.

And later the same day, when campaigning in Aljunied, “Well, I’m running the election, MM is expressing his views. My view is this is an important fight, that’s why I put a strong team here, that’s why I came to support Ong Ye Kung.” MM had commented that if  the PAP were to lose Aljunied GRC, it would not be a major setback.

Wondering what are the radical moves?

– Saying “Sorry”

– Major cabinet changes

– Ministerial pay review.

Apologies – I posted this without realising I had posted it. So completed it only at 1.41pm on 22 May 2011.

Innovative Japanese

In Japan on 21/05/2011 at 5:40 am

Japan’s carmakers have agreed to close their factories on Thursdays and Fridays.  They will work over the weekend and use energy at off-peak times, helping to avoid power shortages.

Japan has lost some of its capacity to generate electricity as a result of the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.

Property: ignoring the Hard Truth of 2009

In Economy, Property, Uncategorized on 21/05/2011 at 5:16 am

“And I guess to the extent that in the last couple of years, housing prices went up very sharply, coinciding with the very dramatic turnaround in the economy, I guess that resulted in quite a lot of unhappiness on the ground. And I accept responsibility for that,” Mah Bow Tan said,

He missed out something in the above analysis. In 2009, S’pore had a recession, but property prices rose  . Specifically in a recession year, prices of HDB resale flats rose by 8.2%.

This showed that there was a massive inbalance between supply and demand, so much so that despite a recession there was a demand for housing.

Give PM a 100 days

In Political economy on 20/05/2011 at 5:35 am

PM after the election said he had listened to the voters. I for one was sceptical, thinking it was 1984 all over again, when newbie LHL said the PAP had to listen. The PAP fixed the system instead.

But he has turned from Clark Kent look-a-like into a tiger that has got ministerial duds to want to get out. The dysfunctional duo, MM and SM, have left (after publicly stating they wanted out). The three stooges (Wong, Nah and Lim) are no longer ministers, after telling him privately before the GE that they wanted to quit. If you believe this …

Since six ministers have “retired” (the sixth is Cry Baby Lim), let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s give him 100 days to prove to us he is walking the walk of listening to us and amending policies to meet our concerns.

Wondering abt the origin of the term “100 days”?

It originally refered to Napoleon’s return from exile on Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815 (a period of 111 days). During this period, he became emperor again, fought and lost the battle of Waterloo, and abdicated again.

BTW empty vessels seem to be making the most noise. The SDP and RP seem to be releasing media releases left, right and centre. Both parties did not do well. The RP even had to borrow candidates from SPP to field teams.

S’pore drops two places in Competitiveness ranking

In Economy on 19/05/2011 at 7:07 am

According to the latest World Competiveness Ranking complied by IMD (a Swiss business school), S’pore has dropped from first to third. HK and the US are joint first.

S’poreans were not wrong to be upset with govmin policies. They made us suffer for no benefit, even in competitiveness rankings.

No wonder PM has turned from a Clark Kent look-alike into a minister-eating tiger, with five kills to his credit including daddy.

Not easy to prove fraud

In Uncategorized on 19/05/2011 at 6:43 am

A news report abt the purported financial difficulties of a director of Profitable Plots (she had applied for her passport back so that she could live in JB, something the CAD is opposed to), reminds me that it has been two years since the CAD started investing the company. Yet investigations are only at “an advanced stage”.

Funnily the prople who complained publicly of fraud some three years ago made it sound as though it was “an open and shut” case. Well it isn’t going by the length of the investigations.

Sour grape investors? Lose money, shout “Kanna cheated” and hope police investigate. And if police cannot find evidence, shouldn’t these investors pay a price for wasting the police’s time?

When you invest do yr homework. Don’t be seduced by smooth talking sales people.

S’pore on auto pilot?

In Political governance on 18/05/2011 at 6:20 am

The PAP keeps telling us S’pore cannot afford to be on auto-pilot. But since 8 May S’pore has been on auto-pilot.

The PM has yet to announce his new cabinet, let alone tell us whether he has accepted Dad’s and GCT’s offer to step down from the cabinet.

Waz going on?

Anyway, this delay shows us that S’pore is such a well-oiled machine that it can afford to go on auto-pilot when the PM decides to dither.

Yet another reason to avoid S-Chips

In China on 16/05/2011 at 10:07 am

This story tells how Yahoo may have been taken for a ride in China: Yahoo is upset with its Chinese partner Alibaba over the latter’s transfer of a major internet asset to its chief executive.

If a major MNC, with its legions of lawyers, accountants and executives, can end up in this type of situation, wouldn’t it be better for retail investors to avoid S-Chips as a matter of principle?

Transition finally over

In Political governance on 16/05/2011 at 6:12 am

All my old colleagues have left. I am alone of the old team. I am staying on for a while to help the transition. According to “Confucius Confounded: Analects of Lee Kuan Yew” by Francis Seow, Forward by Dr M, this was said by LKY at Davos in February 1990.

Well he stayed on until 14 May 2011, more than 21 years after uttering the above, During this transition, Goh Chok Tong was prime minister for 14 yeras, and his son became prime minister in 2004. During these 21 years, the PAP lost its moral authority to boss S’poreans around and its reputation for efficient, competent government.  (Under LKY, S’poreans had good, cheap and efficient government. so they put up with his bullying, hectoring ways. Under his successors, S’poreans felt they were not getting sufficient value for the money being paid to ministers, and resented being hectored and bullied by the likes of VivianB, Wong Kan Seng and Mah Bow Tan.)

So much so that two cabinet ministers were red-carded, and six more were yellow-carded in the recent elections

So it is a gd time to step down.

The old order changeth, yielding place to new,

And God fulfils himself in many ways,

Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

It is a “major event” as the prime minister said becaue

Authority forgets a dying king,

Laid widowed of the power in his eye

That bowed the will.

Related postings

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/spore-inc-21-years-and-still-in-transition/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/spore-inc-first-and-fourth-world-corporate-governance/

Stop worrying, start buying

In China, Investments on 15/05/2011 at 9:45 am

Jim O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said investors should shed their pessimism and stop hoarding cash amid prospects for a global stock rally that could start in China.

Bloomberg story. Note Goldman is setting up a yuan-denominated fund to invest in China.

Eric Tan is a gentleman

In Political governance on 15/05/2011 at 7:00 am

There has been a lot of Internet chatter on Eric Tan’s very public resignation from the WP following the party’s decision not to appoint him as one of the WP’s NCMPs.

There is one strand of criticism that makes him out to be a self-centred egoist, putting self before party.

I know Eric. He is a meek, mild and gentle man with steely determination. He is not into doing things for “glory” or publicity. He became a member of WP when it was not a fashionable thing to do.

When the rest of the WP 2006 East Coast election team went AWOL, he continued working the ground quietly. Words like “betrayed” do not come naturally to him.

 He is also not given to doing impulsive or petulant things. He is a rational man as befits an engineer and senior bank executive. He is not someone who uses the word “betrayed” lightly, or who resigns publicly in a huff because he didn’t get his way. Neither does he do anger unless provoked very badly. 

So even though I have not tried to find out more from him about his resignation, I know enough abt him to know that things must have been said or done to make him

– say he felt “betrayed”,

– say that the decision not to give him the NCMP post was “dropped like a bomb on my lap“, and

– resign publicly on “principle”.

What these are, I do not know and I’d rather not speculate. But others have speculated on the Internet that he was “played out”. The remarks of “betrayed” and “dropped like a bomb on my lap“, could reasonably be taken as evidence supporting this view.

Let’s salute him for the part he has played in WP’s breakthrough and leave it at that. And be sorry that a good man has left politics.

SGX’s CEO: Likes long odds, big pay-offs

In Uncategorized on 14/05/2011 at 5:36 pm

In putting a spin on why the SGX bid for ASX failed, the CEO of SGX said that he knew the chances of success were slight, but decided that the rewards if the bid succeeded were worth it.

Err sounds like a buyer of Toto, punter who bets on horses that have long odds or a player of roulette, not a CEO.

Profiting from a bad call

In Uncategorized on 13/05/2011 at 9:18 am

Meg Whitman, eBay’s former chief executive, blundered by buying Skype six years ago for US$2.5bn. Her idea that Skype, the Internet calling service, would encourage eBay’s users to talk to one another rather than chat by e-mail didn’t work out. EBay cut its losses by selling a 65% stake in Skype to investors.

Microsoft has now offered US$8.5 bn to acquire Skype. Long ridiculed for buying Skype, eBay will, in the end, likely profit from the deal by some US$800m, a 32% gain.

That’s life.

PAP: Election machinery needs oiling

In Uncategorized on 13/05/2011 at 6:10 am

To misquote Oscar Wilde, to make one FaceBook mistake might be regarded as misfortune, but to make two smacks of carelessness.

Miss Kate Spade Tin forgot to privatise her FB page. Then according to her, her administrator accidentally posted material on her FaceBook page in breach of the law on the “cooling-off” day.

So Tin is careless. Another part of her that needs correcting.

But she isn’t the only careless one. The PAP election team can be forgiven for thinking that Tin should have the brains to privatise her FaceBook page. But when she didn’t, shouldn’t an adult have supervised her FaceBook page, not another brainless, clueless Tin clone?

Aother example: as of Wednesday afternoon, PAP signage had not been taken down along that stretch of Marine Parade Rd that is part of Joo Chiat SMC.

Local bank investors are strange

In Banks on 12/05/2011 at 11:23 am

Yesterday the three local banks did well with investors demanding their shares.

In a Bloomberg survey on the world’s strongest banks, S’pore banks occupied three of the top 10 positions. OCBC was number one, DBS was 5th and UOB was 6th.

If I were a shareholder in one of these three banks, I’d be upset that the banks were such inefficient users of capital because the stronger the bank is, the less its earnings potential.

Standard Chartered was ranked 15th. It needs to have plenty of capital around because it does business in some really difficult markets like places like the Ivory Coast where its operations were closed for several months.

It also does some risky business like lending for M&A transactions in India.

Our three local banks operate in safe markets. OCBC and UOB are heavily dependent on S’pore and M’sia while DBS is dependent on S’pore and HK. Yes they also do business in riskier places like Indonesia (all three), mainland China (again all three) and India (DBS). But these places contribute “peanuts” to earnings and assets.

They are also conservative in the businesses that they do.

So they don’t need to be such inefficient users of capital. They can easy operate safely with capital ratios similar to that of Standard Chartered. Thois would increase earnings.

HSBC: Plans don’t impress

In Banks on 12/05/2011 at 10:13 am

HSBC’s CEO said that it would now focus its wealth management business on 18 key economies, and limit retail banking to markets where it can achieve profitable scale.

The bank is also streamlining IT operations and the operational structure. It hopes to save up to $3.5bn (£2bn; 2.4bn euros)

The bank said it would be directing investment into fast-growing national economies including Mexico and Turkey, and to certain wider regions, such as Asia and the Middle East. Asia means China (including Taiwan and HK), India, Indonesia,  Malaysia and S’pore.

The UK remains a core market.

Market was not impressed with HSBC shares down 0.8%. Analysts and investors were disappointed that the bank did not come out with more details e.g. the number of jobs that would be lost to show that the bank is serious.

Sumething is wrong with PAP activsts in Joo Chiat SMC

In Uncategorized on 11/05/2011 at 3:31 pm

Looks like the PAP activists in Joo Chiat SMC don’t like Charles Chong, the new MP.

It’s Wednesday afternoon, yet I still see PAP signage along a major road (Marine Parade Rd). Funnily there is no such signage along that part of the Marine Parade Rd that is in Marine Parade GRC.

In the past it was the Opposition that had problems. removing their signage. The PAP’s signage came doen fast. By Monday morning,, the PAP signable would be down. Not this time.

BTW, there were problems when the PAP put up their signage. On the evening of nomination day, the PAP had put up signage. The usual well-oiled machine I tot.

But the following morning, these signs had been taken down and relocated on different lamp-posts. Sumeone had goofed. And now this failure to remove signage.

Others who got it so wrong

In Uncategorized on 10/05/2011 at 9:32 am

Relax PAP, you are not the only ones who screw-up big time.

Big time corporate screw-ups.

Quotes to console MM

In Uncategorized, Wit on 09/05/2011 at 5:45 am

The old order changeth, yielding place to new,

And God fulfils himself in many ways,

Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

The PAP that he founded and led to victory after, is not today’s PAP. Would Kate Spade Tin and Puthu have been MPs in his time? Would he have allowed George Yeo to “attack” the party in a desperate (and ultimately) futile attempt to win a GRC? Would Mah Bow Tan, Raymind Lim and Cry Baby Lim have kept their jobs in his cabinets. In the last case Cry Baby had over 10 years as NTUC chief and cabinet minister to solve productivity and pay issues. He failed. As to the other two, they failed to ensure sufficient public housing and tpt to take into account the influx of FTs.

And if the allegations that he was asked to “shut up” after his “repent” comments are true, he might want to remember:

Authority forgets a dying king,

Laid widowed of the power in his eye

That bowed the will.

Both are quotes from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.

2016 GE: Aljunieds in the making

In Uncategorized on 08/05/2011 at 11:09 am

In 2006, Aljunied was won by the PAP by 56%.

Based on that, the following GRCs are vulnerable and the ministers these GRCs should helming should be afraid, very afraid.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong held on to Marine Parade with 56.65 per cent of the vote, labour chief Lim Swee Say and Transport Minister Raymond Lim retained East Coast with  54.83 per cent, while Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng and Education Minister Ng Eng Hen kept Bishan-Toa Payoh with a 57% win.

Be afraid, very afraid PAP

In Political governance on 08/05/2011 at 7:23 am

Based on the results of Joo Chiat SMC (where I live) and the neighbouring East Coast GRC, the PAP should be very frightened.

The new JC SMC has no Joo Chiat in it. It is almost a landed property, condo area. You would have tot it was a natural PAP area, what with private property prices very firm, recession or no recession.  Without me doing anything, my property has appreciated over 50% in the past decade, increasing my options, should I run out cash. And there has been an estate upgrading in many areas.

Thanks be to PAP you would have tot. Bring on the burnt offering.

No, the WP hardly campaigned but still got 49% of the vote.

Further East, in the more diversified East Coast GRC, the WP improved its score to 45% (a 10 percentage point increase from 2006). Unlike Joo Chiat, this area is dominated by public housing, and there is a significant proportion of less well-off S’poreans living here.

So the PAP should be afraid, very afraid, The rich are refusing to support the PAP, a party that has among many poorer S’poreans the reputation of “Robbing the poor to give to the rich”.  Meanwhile the HDB dwellers (once core PAP supporters) are increasingly voting for the WP.

Will the PAP listen?

In Political governance on 08/05/2011 at 6:23 am

In 1984 GE, the PAP suffered a large fall in the popular vote (to 65% from 77% in 1980), nebwie Lee Hsien Loong told the PAP in a report that it had to listen to the people. The feedback unit (now REACH) was setup. You and I know how effective this unit has been. Recent example: From 2006 till last week, the PAP ignored  S’poreans on the related issues of immigration, public tpt congestion and a shortage of HDB flats.

The PAP focused on fixing the system to their advantage, The PAP introduced GRCs and when that failed to improve performance, the PAP supersized the GRCs and linked voting to the upgrading of HDB estates. That improved their performance so much so that in 2001 the PAP won 75% of the popular vote.

Then things started to go wrong and today the PM is talking of listening to the people.

Let’s hope the PAP is prepared to listen and act on public grievances, but let;s remain vigilant to there signs that the system is being fixed to the PAP’s advantage. Shout out loud if you think that system is being fixed.

Remember that DPM and minister Mah have claimed strong mandates despite the fact that they polled only 57% in their GRCs. Nationally the PAP polled 60%.

Commodities: Clash of the titans

In Commodities on 07/05/2011 at 10:30 am

Billionaire traders offer clashing opinions over future of falling commodities market .

Soros is bearish, Paulson is bullish. Guardian story.

PAP: With candidates like these, who needs enemies?

In Uncategorized on 07/05/2011 at 7:10 am

The Opposition used to be the one with the clowns, incompetents and reputations less than white. This time round it was the PAP.

There was Steve Tan who withdrew suddenly causing some PR problems for the PAP. Let’s see if this PAP, NTUC poster boy retains his job in NTUC. Reliable sources say he will join the ranks of unemployed S’porean PMETs soon.

Then there are the continuing goof ups of Kate Spade Tin. Even SM has admitted that she has an image pproblem that needs correcting. The latest balls-up is an “honest mistake” in breaking election laws.  Can’t the PAP find anyone better to represent the 20-something S’poream, other than this gal who wears a very well tailored PAP outfits.  The other PAP women use off the peg stuff, but not Kate Spade Tin.

Then we have M’sian imports Foo and Puthu. From her answers to simple questions and her thick make-up, she seems to be a toy doll. As to Puthu, he equates saving lives with doing NS. S’porean doctors save lives and do NS.

What these four show is that the PAP has a strange definition of talent. Incompetence and silly behaviour is OK.

Then there is BG Yeo who now implies that the PAP has problems and asks for a strong mandate from his voters to “transform” the PAP. Why now George? Trying to take advantage of the PAP’s unpopularity for personal advantage? Would he have implied nasty things abt MM and the PAP, if he tot he would easily win?

Finally we have SM who in praising BG Yeo ends up implying that the DPM, tpt minister and housing minister are incompetent and not A team material. He later praised them.

Is the PAP dysfunctional?

Falling commodity prices gd?

In Commodities, Economy on 07/05/2011 at 6:39 am

Err world economy could be weakening.

Housing prices should come off unless M’sian Chinese decide to migrate here.

Is BG Yeo an honourable man?

In Political governance on 06/05/2011 at 6:00 pm

So BG Yeo has come out to slime MM and call for change in the PAP, and he asks for a strong mandate from the voters in Aljunied so that he can tranform the PAP.

Kinda funny that he slimes MM and implies that there is sumething wrong with the PAP (otherwise there isn’t any need to transform the PAP), when he is fighting for his political career against an enemy of the PAP? An enemy whose attacks on the PAP and on MM seem to resonate with the voters of Aljunied.

Supposing if he had expected an easy, comfortable win, would he have implied that MM should not have used such strong language about the perils of voting WP in Aljunied; implied that there are many things wrong with the PAP; and would he have called openly for change in the PAP?

Or would he have kept quiet, and remain loyalto the PAP? Sumething he has done for many years?

The voters of Aljunied should ponder why he has come out to speak against MM and the PAP. Is it out of conviction, or because he wants to remain a minister by harvesting their anger against MM and the PAP.

The PAP should wonder about whether he is worth having as a senior cadre and minister? Where is his loyalty to the PAP which has been gd to him for many yrs? Juz a bit of trouble and he cuts and runs?

In war deserters are executed.

Glencore lists, commodities’ mkts collapse

In Commodities on 06/05/2011 at 4:35 pm

As trading and mining house Glencore is listing, making some mgrs billionaires, commodity prices have fallen for a second day in early trading in Europe, led by another drop in crude oil.

This comes after markets were hit by one of the biggest sell-offs in two years on Thursday. Brent crude fell 4.3% to below $106 a barrel, adding to a 8.6% drop on Thursday, and bringing its cumulative fall over the past week to over 16%.

Industrial metals such as copper also saw further falls, as did some foodstuffs.

If this goes on, the view blogged here earlier that the Glencore IPO is a sign that commodities mkts have peaked for the time being, was a gd call.

BG Yeo wants to lead Opposition within the PAP?

In Uncategorized on 06/05/2011 at 8:57 am

This is the fourth third big surprise of this campaign.

First we had MM and SM making the headlines. Then we had PM apologising for balls-up in security, water mgt, and public tpt and housing. Funnily other than Wong Kum Seng, the others never owned up even after PM’s apology. They arrogant or sumething?

Now we have BG Yeo saying, ‘We’ll transform PAP with your strong mandate’ , implying that if he is re-elected, he will lead those who want to change the PAP. So he will be the voice of Opposition within the PAP.

But I couldn’t stop laughing when I read that he asked for PM’s approval before making the speech. He is not his own man.

Better to support the people who don’t need to ask approval?

If after elections, the person in charge of PAP says, “No change”, will BG Yeo and his team resign since the mandate from the voters in the GRC was for him to ‘transform the PAP’?

Voters in Bishan, Tampines and East Coast

In Uncategorized on 05/05/2011 at 9:29 am

Based on what SM has said* abt who are the core PAP leaders, and who are responsible for the security,  and public housing and transport  problems that upset S’poreans, one could reasonably conclude that he is saying that the ministers helming the above GRCs are not that important to the PAP.

So if they lose their seats, it would be no great loss to the PAP. Kill two birds with one stone? Vote in the Opposition to get more voices in Parly, and help the PAP renewal campaign.

*”You can take a minister and criticise him for not delivering on perhaps housing and transport. “Like Wong Kan Seng you can say he let Mas Selamat escape. George Yeo … is a core member.”

What happens if the PAP loses a few GRCs?

In Uncategorized on 05/05/2011 at 6:42 am

Guest posting by someone concerned about misconceptions if Oppositions wins a GRC or three.

Tip #1

Can opposition MPs prevent bills being blocked from Parliament? What happens

 if there is a sudden surge from the present 2 opposition MPs?

-> Assuming PAP wins the majority of the seats in this election, the PM will appoint elected MPs from PAP to form the cabinet. The cabinet can still present Bills for Parliament to deliberate. However the PAP MPs are subject to the Whip, so they cannot vote against the party’s position. As long as PAP MPs forms a simple majority in Parliament, even if the opposition MPs collude, they cannot prevent the Bills from being passed. NCMPs have no voting rights.

Tip #2:

What is the requirement to amend constitution?

-> Constituion is the supreme law in Singapore. It requires a 2/3 majority to pass any amendment to the Consitution. Assuming if opposition wins Hougang SMC, Potong Pasir GRC, Aljunied GRC and Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, it means 12 elected opposition MPs. Assuming PAP does not life the Whip, this is still way short of 1/3 required to block consitutional amendments. NCMPs have no voting rights.

Tip #3:

Going by the same scenario, why we do need 12 opposition MPs as compared to the current 2?

-> Only elected MPs have voting rights. Although they may not have sufficient voting powers to block amendments or passing of new laws, more elected opposition MPs can question the proposed Bill and Constitutional amendments as well as other goverment policies. This will hopefully lead to more transparency.

Tip #4:

Assuming WP wins Aljunied GRC, does it mean Low Thia Kiang or Sylvia Lim will take over as Foreign Affairs Minister.

-> As long as PAP forms the majority, the PM will appoint elected MPs from PAP to fill the cabinet. So if George Yeo loses the Aljunied GRC election, he will not be able to sit in the new caninet. The PM will have to appoint another elected PAP MP (either current or new appointment holders) to take over the position.

Tip #5:

What is the role of the Speaker of Parliament?

-> The Speaker has overall charge of the administration of Parliament and its secretariat. His or her official role is to preside over parliamentary sittings, moderating debates and making decisions based on the Standing Orders of Parliament for the proper conduct of parliamentary business. The Speaker does not participate in debates, but can abstain or vote for or against a motion if he or she is entitled to do so by virtue of being an MP.

Marina Sands: House loses

In Casinos on 05/05/2011 at 6:41 am

Sands earnings off because of S’pore losses.

Err PM, whatever happened to monitoring?

In Uncategorized on 04/05/2011 at 10:51 am

The PM blamed the housing shortages and transport congestion on forecasts going wrong.

When I was working, all the places I worked in had comprehensive mgt systems monitoring variables. One aim of having such systems was to check that budget assumptions were grounded in facts.

For example if the assumption was for stock mkt volumes to be X on an annualised basis, but the numbers for Jan to March were pointing out that on an annualised basis the volume would only be X-12, the firm would know that revenues would be going down. Mgt would have to make a decision whether to stick to the volume assumption (volumes were going to pick up) or cut costs. That decision was a mgt call.

Now if would seem based on what PM was saying that in housing, transport and immigration there was no monitoring and feedback mechanism so that adjustments could be made to assumptions.  Or if there were, the variances from the predictions were missed or ignored.

Ministers and senior civil servants did not know that the assumptions of the forecasts were wrong. Facts had changed but  they were not aware of the changes.

The system was on auto=pilot. For this ministers and senior civil servants have to accept responsibility.

Based on what the cabinet and senior civil servants are paid, I think we deserve better. In a listco with gd governance standards, heads would have rolled to appease shareholders.

Sorry not enough.

PAP: Hawker analogy

In Uncategorized on 04/05/2011 at 9:36 am

I came across this post by Short Singapore on Yahoo’s news site.

I absolutely agree with the first two and last two paras. I disagree that it was the PM that initiated the upmarket policy, it was Goh Chok Tong. Laugh

Ok, in the old days when LKY was prime minister, Singapore was like a old style hawker center. LKY was a good and cheap PM. Value for money. So when he was rude and shouts at SIngapore, and on occasions causes food poisoning to his hated customers (opposition), we take it because like hawkers that serve good food, we will queue up and take all manner of abuse from the hawker to get great food at dirt cheap prices…

So LKY and his team slowly upgraded the hawker into food court. Food more expensive but now got aircon. Hawkers still rude but we all still can handle the bad service for decent affordable and cleaner food.

Then his son took over and decided change the food court into huge high class resturant. No more food court choices. The food became very expensive and the utensils and cutlery were designer stuff. THe food was no longer what the usual customers liked but they had no choice. Before you can even order, the peanuts and towels were charged. Then you order the food say roast fillet mignon but the food that came was over cooked char siew. You asked to return the charsiew but was told by the waiter in a beautiful uniform who insisted that the char siew was fillet mignon. But when angmos and foreigners come in, they get the real fillet mignon even when they order only salad. Their bill is always salad pricing.

So you had to eat badly cook charsiew and was slapped a very expensive bill. You decided to complain and ask to see the manager. The manager is not around.

Then one day, you found that a small hawker stall opened up next to the resturant. The food seems reasonable but you are not sure…The big resturant tells you not to go eat there because you will get food poisoning…SHould you risk it? Then the big resturant tell you that they will let you have fillet mignon at discounted price again…Do you trust this big resturant after your experience?

If PAP wants us to endure their bad service and bad attitude, they must be like hawkers, cheap and good. If they want to operate like French resturant and charge us $$$$, then their service has to be perfect. No charsiew disguised as fillet mignon. Thank you.

This applies not only to politics and food but to business in general. If you want charge high prices, it better be a great product (iPAd, iPHONES) or service (SIA First Class).

Bit too late PAP

In Uncategorized on 04/05/2011 at 6:51 am

Yesterday, PM finally admitted the PAP had goofed: listing Mas Selamat’s escape, Orchard Road floodings, housing shortages, transport congestion. He was continuing a trend started a couple of days earlier when various ministers admitted that the PAP had goofed.

Kinda late isn’t it.? When those balls-up happened, the government did not accept responsibility. It was “market forces” (property prices); that public had too high expectations (“public transport”); nature (floods); and nothing wrong with systems (escape and failure to catch “terrorist”).

These excuses made me very angry. No-one was accepting responsibility.

And now juz because there is an election, you are saying sorry?

You have given me the best reason to vote for anyone else other than a PAP candidate.  The PAP’overweening pride and arrogrance must be checked before the PAP makes a terrible blunder that puts at risk S’pore’s material prosperity.

Property prices

In Property on 03/05/2011 at 9:25 am

In 2009, prices moved up despite a recession. One reason we now know is that the M;sians were migrating here after the 2008 election results.

In that election the ruling BN lost its two-thirds majority and the MCA (the main Chinese party in the BN) lost badly in the seats it contested. There was concern abt the political situation (in particular about racial riots breaking out). So the Chinese left for S’pore.

Well the M’sian PM has just told the Chinese that they had better support the MCA. Otherwise that party would not be able to represent Chinese interests within the BN.

Expect more Chinese to migrate here. And expect property prices to remain strong.

Waz so great abt having NTUC leaders in cabinet?

In Uncategorized on 03/05/2011 at 6:02 am

NTUC leader and cabinet minister, Lim Swee Say says that unlike the PAP, the Opposition if it comes into power will not have the NTUC represented in cabinet.

Until recently, in addition to Swee Say, his predecessor as NTUC head was in the cabinet.

Yet their presence in the cabinet has not prevented the real wages of bottom 25% of workers from declining in the last 11 years or so.

Nor has it slowed the growth of the cost of HDB flats. Once, one could repay the loan in 10 yrs or less, then 20 yrs. Now it’s getting closer to 30 yrs.

Information overload: How it hurts investors

In Uncategorized on 02/05/2011 at 9:08 am

[T]here are three main causes of information overload. One is pure quantity. The second is having too many options (although too few is also bad), and the third factor is option similarity. If everything seems the same, differentiating one alternative from another is confusing and difficult.

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financial-theory/11/negative-impact-of-information-overload.asp?partner=basics4

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