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Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Why Tin Pei Ling will be happy this weekend

In Humour on 03/05/2012 at 7:13 pm

Pity Tin Pei Ling. She’s an MP without a cushy day job unlike the NTUC MPs. In fact she doesn’t have a job at all. She is a full-time MP, the only full-time PAP MP. And we know she doesn’t use her MP’s allowance for anything personal: she tells us so. She has to dip into her savings for her transport costs, she tells us. Err whers’s hubbie’s pin allowance?

And we know she has a taste for Kate Spade goods.

So as today’s ST carried an ad for a Kate Spade sale (up to 70% off) on Friday and the weekend, Ms Tin should be happy. She can go shopping for Kate Spade products without a public backlash.. She can explain her purchases away by saying, “Big discount at cheap sale”.  As to money, waz the point of marrying a much older man who is paid well?

Telling coc jokes: Ministerial CoC needed

In Humour, Internet, Political governance on 03/05/2012 at 7:10 pm

Based on the remarks of the PM and the two DPMs the last few days, I think Yaacob would find S’poreans receptive to a Ministerial CoC (Code of Conduct) on the telling of jokes in bad taste.

I ranted earlier on DPM Teo’s joke on more openness and passing the burden of integrating FTs to us S’poreans who never asked for them in the first place.

Well that was the start of the bad-joke telling session.

We then had Tharman telling us that although inflation rose by about 5.2% (“a high figure” said he) in March 2012, this did not mean that the average Singaporean will feel this “high inflation” because more than half of the headline inflation rate of 5.2% came from higher COEs for cars and the effect of higher market rent on houses. The vast majority of Singaporeans who already own their homes and are not buying new cars would not feel the effects of these sharp increases. And the increase in prices of daily necessities and essential services such as food and clothing have actually been much more moderate at 3% or lower.

Well he got well and truly beaten up for this tasteless joke because among other things, high COE prices affect those who need to buy vans and lorries to transport goods. Their costs go up and guess who pays?

And this isn’t the first time he tried to tell bad jokes. Remember the one about someone earning less than a $1000 a month being able to afford to a 30-yr HDB mortgage, or the one that low-income Singaporeans may be able to receive between $3.97 to $5.10 in government benefits for every dollar paid in taxes over a life time. We found out that it all depends on the assumptions made, and anyway in the case of benefits, much of it was paid into the CPF account, while a recipient had to pay his taxes upfront in cash. What abt the time value of the money, minister?

Then the PM joined in. He told the joke about the need for wages to be driven by higher productivity. I mean how could productivity go up with 80,000 immigrants a year being imported to keep wages down? Or even the planned only 25,000?

And what abt this spotted by Donaldson Tan and reported on his FB page, “MBS raised demand for unskilled labour in the hospitality sector, resulting in wage growth for everyone in the hospitality sector while Labour Chief asserted that wage growth must be backed by productivity gain. There is no productivity gain in the PM’s example.”?

The PM also said, “Singaporeans will always be our priority”: “Whether it was adjusting the supply of foreign workers or the pursuit of economic growth, he said the Government seeks to maximise the advantages for its citizens, and to provide them with jobs and a share of the nation’s success.” (ST report)

Huh? Hey who waz it who allowed in 80,000 FTs a year to keep wages down, without expanding the public housing and transport infrastructure?

And before I forget his office said that only “good quality” people are allowed to immigrate? What abt the hooker-looking, violent, cheating, unrepentent shop assistant, and the hawkers that became PRs? Not exactly “good quality” migrants are they? Honest mistakes?

Now this was one bad joke too far.

Yaacob’s Code of Conduct for the internet is not needed because S’pore has the penal code and laws on sedition, contempt of court, criminal and civil defamation and incitement to religious hatred that can be used to repress curb the excesses of netizens like the unemployed chap behind “Fabrications abt the PAP”.

But let’s trade. What about a CoC for ministers to get ministers to stop telling cock jokes, in exchange for a CoC in which bloggers become less anti the governing PAP?

Kee Chui.

 .

Temasek: Rebalancing its Chinese bank portfolio

In Banks, China, Temasek on 03/05/2012 at 6:04 pm

Last month, Temasek bought US$2.3bn worth of shares in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), taking its overall stake in the bank to 1.3%. I commented that it was increasing its bet on the big Chinese banks (it owned big stakes in three of them) when the mood on them was getting bearish.

Well it is now sell US$2.4bn worth of its shares in Bank of China and China Construction Bank.

So overall, it is reducing its stakes in BoC and CCB (locking in some profits: it got into these at very attractive prices as a cornerstone pre-IPO investor) while adding a stake in ICBC to the mix at a slight discount to the market.

Update on 4 May 2012 at 3.10pm: More details http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-02/temasek-selling-2-4-billion-in-boc-china-construction.html

SMRT: Dividend of 5.7 cents but price down another 2 cents

In Infrastructure on 02/05/2012 at 7:22 pm

From the day last week when SMRT annced its eight-year $900m programme to upgrade many infrastructural and systems components on the North-South and East-West lines would exceed what it had spent on repairs and maintenance in the past 10 years, and

– no details on how the cost will be co-shared with the Land Transport Authority (to be negotiated); and

– no details on many parts of the upgrading programme,

till Monday, its share price fell 7.2% from 1.81 to 1.68. It then annced its results (not gd as expected) and today closed at 1.66 down another 1.2%. It went as low as 1.63. All this despite paying a dividend of 5.7cents a share or 3.4% of Monday’s close. (Mkt was closed on 1 May.)

Starting to look interesting as a dividend stock with recovery prospects. Time to analyse results in detail.

Mean of me, but I can’t resist reposting OCBC’s note dated 9 April when stock was at 1.74 and OCBC reiterated its “buy” call.  

————–

OCBC report on SMRT dated 9 April 2012

Strong selling pressure as anticipated by more than half of the street failed to materialise with the counter trading tightly range-bound for slightly more than two months.

During this period, SMRT has also kept to a lower profile with the announcement of work completion from its Internal Investigation Team as the only major development.

Ahead of the upcoming earnings release at the end of the month, we continue to stress that SMRT is likely to see an upswing in fuel costs, following the run-up in prices as well as the additional train runs commissioned in the face of higher ridership and public pressure.

Coupled with higher staff costs related to seasonal merit increments and additional headcount to meet service requirements, we are likely to see the weakest quarterly performance for FY2012.

In terms of fallout from the December 2011 service disruptions, we do not expect any incremental costs at this juncture as the more important inquiry by the Committee of Inquiry (COI) has yet to be completed.

While SMRT’s FY2012 results are likely to stay uninspiring, the counter’s attractiveness as a dividend play remains its key selling point. SMRT’s management has maintained and reiterated its commitment to maintain its dividend payout policy.

Although its prospects going forward will be challenging – COI findings, no fare increments – SMRT’s ‘customer’ base is still growing.

Ridership levels continue to grow especially with support from the current trend in COE prices, while rental and advertising yields are naturally competitive given the high foot traffic locations of their stations.

With this backdrop and earnings support and stabilisation in SMRT’s price, we continue to call for an attractive entry point for SMRT.

Maintain ‘buy’ at an unchanged fair value estimate of $2.04.

Integrating FTs: It’s our problem now cont’d

In Infrastructure, Political economy, Political governance on 02/05/2012 at 5:50 am

Remember a few days ago I ranted abt the comment by DPM Teo* that, “Singapore needs to pay extra attention to facilitating the new immigrants who are ready to sink roots here, so that they integrate into society more quickly … urged Singaporeans to do their part to make newcomers feel welcome, and to help them imbibe the values that have made Singapore strong as a society”? It was the fault of the governing PAP, so it should fix it, not pass it on to us.

Well this morning, while scanning thru BBC Online, the following comment by France’s president leapt at me,  “Our system of integration doesn’t work. Why? Because before we were able to integrate those who were received on our territory, others arrived. Having taken in too many people, we paralysed our system of integration.”

In view of DPM’s Teo  passing-the-parcel, our problematic MRT system, crowded buses, and expensive public housing one could say that his words describe what has happened here.

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*I think he is one of our “betterest” ministers along with Tharman, Khaw and VivianB (so long as you keep him away from the poor and needy and give him engineering tasks). Gan, Chan and Tan seem to be coming along nicely.

Sex with a minor: Some more equal than others?

In Political governance on 01/05/2012 at 7:19 pm

(Or “Is there a class distinction when it comes to sex with a minor?” Or “One sex law for the educated & well-off, another for ‘lesser mortals’?”

Prior to 48Gate, a number of people have been prosecuted and found guilty of having paid a minor to have sex with them. The “defence” of “didn’t know” didn’t work: there was a case reported in the media last week that did not get anyone upset at the failure of this “defence”. And neither did the “defence of “she’s a prostitute”: men were jailed for having sex with underaged Vietnamese prostitutes. No-one was saying it was unfair. All the men charged and found guilty were ‘lesser mortals”: no lawyers, financial professionals, senior civil servants or managers, or scholars. Juz labourers, hawkers technicians and junior white-collar workers.

The chattering classes and netizens ignored the cases.

But once “elites” are involved, the chattering classes and netizens rushed to defend them against the system. What an irony: the “elites” need to be protected against the unfairness and stupidity of the law. Presumably, the lesser mortals had accept the system.

The self-styled “Voice of the People”(err “Voice of the Elites”?) , Tan Kin Lian, has compared having sex unknowingly with a minor to baking a cake without knowing that some of the ingredients are dangerous. Well I never. And there are on his site posts from one or more of the accused: home away from home for the accused? Maybe TKL should borrow TOC’s unofficial motto of “Giving Voice to the Voiceless”**. I mean if anyone is voiceless, it is the now 46 accused and the two who pleaded guilty.

TKL, the posts, and others argue that the consequences for the accused whether they are found guilty or not, is disproportionate to what they are alleged to have done. And hence the Attorney-General should not prosecute them given that the minor in question is a “hardcore” prostitute, or so a lawyer for some of the accused claims (But he would say that wouldn’t he?). On disproportionate consequences, I agree. But why didn’t these bleeding hearts, do-gooders argue this when some men were charged with having sex with FT minors who happened to be prostitutes?

On not prosecuting, somewhere here, I’ve said if in the AG’s view there is sufficient evidence to convict, the AG has to prosecute: to show the system is fair to everyone***. And see this****, which I came across in a comment to a post by Lucky Tan. I agree with the anonymous commenter. 

The nine weeks the ex-principal got, and the judge’s explanation of the sentence and the rationale of the law should dismay the accused (including this utterly self-centred chap, who for his self-centredness and self-pity, both beyond parody, deserves getting the maximum jail sentence of seven years and a big, big fine to boot*) and their champion.

While Senior District Judge See Kee Oon noted that Lee chose to plead guilty at the first available opportunity [so if plead not guilty, then found guilty, be afraid very afraid] and showed clear and unequivocal remorse {go for acting classes, and practice crying in front of the mirror], Lee had allowed himself to be misled regarding the girl’s age. Given the circumstances, Lee’s suspicion ought to have been aroused and he should have asked for proof of her age, the judge said. “Had she refused to show identification, he should have walked away,” the judge added. From Today report.

Also, he had “consciously chosen to procure services under anonymity of the Internet”, said the judge.

In passing sentence, the judge stressed the need to “reinforce a message of deterrence”. The judge highlighted the girl’s age and stressed that the law was put in place to protect the young and vulnerable … lacked maturity and was entitled to legal protection … Any “presumed willingness” on her part had no mitigating value.

According to a ST report the said judge also said that the law regards the underage prostitute as the victim because she is underage and therefore deemed as incapable of having the capacity for mature judgement and discernment of an adult … “What the victim had done may be considered immoral by certain standards. However, this must be weighed against the morality of those whose demand for such services makes this a lucrative trade.”

Spot on I say.

But let’s not condemn the ex-principal. The judge said he committed the offence outside the scope of duties as an educator and did not abuse or exploit his position.

I wish him and his wife well. Because “There but for the grace of God goes I”.

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*”It is my personal lack of control of my own moral standards and my weak resistance to distractions that led me to my mistake,” the ex-principal stated. The self-pitying moaner should reflect on this.

**And TOC’s silence on this mater is deafening. Next time it covers shumething controversial and says it is doing so because the issue is widely reported and because it is in the public interest (like the NS status of Tony Tan’s sons), I’ll raise this silence of TOC on MinorGate.

***The silence of the wimmin and feminist groups is also deafening. They should be commending the AG and police loudly. Perhaps, they only ever want to criticise the police and AG?

****Because there are elites among these 48 of them, including a former primary school principal, a former secondary school teacher, former high ranking financial executives and wealthy individuals, peoples get excited and interested about the fairness of the case.

Does this mean that ordinary peoples should get harsher punishment than the elites and the riches for committing the same offence?

Does this mean that ordinary peoples have no careers, no life when compared to the riches and the elites?

This shows that the society has to grow up to treat everyone, whether you are ordinary, poor, rich or elite, fairly with the same respect and same expectation.

Well said Sir or Mam.

Why the rich live in exclusive areas like Sentosa Cove or Districts 9, 10

In Humour, Property on 01/05/2012 at 5:27 am

They want to make sure that they do not break God’s order Love Thy Neighbour http://front.moveon.org/three-words-in-the-bible-that-some-people-totally-ignore/?rc=daily.share&id=40399-20042274-0D2I6Wx

After all, being wealth shows that God favours them.

 

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