atans1

Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

SMRT: Dump

In Infrastructure on 31/01/2013 at 5:15 am

Brokers had forecast cost increases in staff, repair and maintenance costs, but not the 29.1% in maintenance & repair; and the 18.2% in staffing costs (all those new recruits from SAF?*) reported this quarter.

Brokers are putting a target price of around 1.34, a big drop.

But maybe there is the usually Biz School approved front-loading of costs, expenses whenever there is a new CEO. For yield buyers like me, the next Q’s numbers are awaited.

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*http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/smrt-noticed/

 

 

 

SMEs: Problems getting finance, but govt U-turn on FTs?

In Banks, Economy on 31/01/2013 at 4:53 am

http://sbr.com.sg/financial-services/news/over-half-singapore-smes-application-financing-got-rejected-in-2012

And wonder if the SME financing target mentioned in this BT report from sometime in the middle of 2012, was met. As not heard any more, I suspect not.

UP to $175 million of the $250 million the government has earmarked for investment in small- and medium-sized enterprises under the first phase of its public-private co-investment funding programme for local SMEs will be seeded with private equity funds by year-end.

The programme includes a fund-of-funds called the SME Catalyst Fund, which the $175 million investment falls under, and a direct co-investment fund called the SME Co-Investment Fund.

This means that some $350 million will be placed with the PE funds by the end of this year for investment in SMEs, as the private sector has to match dollar-for-dollar what the government is putting with the PE funds.

The $350 million is part of the first phase of the co-investment fund that is expected to come up to $500 million – $250 million from the government, and the other half from private sector capital.

As to whether the White paper on population reflects a U-turn on the policy of starving SMEs of cheap FTs, only time will tell. Watch and wait. Remember the WP was bitching in parly about the shortage of labour among SMEs. Chinese-owned SMEs fund the WP.

Not in constructive, nation-building ST, Today or Singapolitics

In Humour, Malaysia, Media on 30/01/2013 at 5:09 am

This appeared in BT yesterday. Surprised it did not appear in ST or Today or in Singapolitics. Yaacob, Lawrence, PM: rather than CoCs for netizens, juz make sure SPH and MediaCorp editors earn their thirty pieces of silver ++, by printing independent “validation” of PAP Hard Truths.

M’sia’s minimum wage law may result in food inflation

Another consequence is higher outflow of money

… Food inflation and the outflow of money are the likely consequences of the implementation of the minimum wage law, which came into force four weeks ago.

From Jan 1, employers must pay a minimum wage of RM900 (S$366) a month in Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 a month in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

In an interview with Malaysia’s Business Times recently, Malaysia Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan estimated that foreign workers, on average, send back some RM700 each month, which is half of their take-home pay, including overtime claims.

“With a conservative estimate of two million foreign workers here, that works out to be RM1.4 billion flowing out of Malaysia to their home countries every month …

PM, what about asking the right questions? Or at least different ones

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance, Private Equity, Temasek on 29/01/2013 at 7:52 am

“Do you want faster growth or do you want fewer foreign workers? Do you want more hard work or more leisure? Do you want more competitive schools and good results and good futures, or more relaxed schools and fall behind? How can we find that balance in between?” the Prime Minister asked. Whatever the hurdles, he emphasised that the PAP had always been open with Singaporeans, even when these trade-offs may be unpopular – SPH.

I got two gripes with the above remarks by PM.

Firstly, as usual he is framing* the issues in such a way so as to try to get us to answer the way he wants us to answer them. Dad used to do this successfully when we didn’t have the best education system in the world, when issues were less complicated, and when there wasn’t the internet. But times have changed, but PM hasn’t shaken off daddy’s influence.

– “Do you want faster growth or do you want fewer foreign workers?” Well how about asking, “How can we have faster growth without FTs? Can we substitute robots, or pay higher wages?” And more fundamentally what about, “Do we need faster growth? What about better quality growth?”

– “Do you want more hard work or more leisure?” What about asking,”Can we work smarter to have more leisure?” Or more fundamentally, “Are we working smart? Or are we working harder because we are not working smart?”

– “Do you want more competitive schools and good results and good futures, or more relaxed schools and fall behind?” Shouldn’t we be asking, “Are there other ways of educating S’poreans that ensure national prosperity and self-development?”

Now the answers to these alternative questions may well be those that the PM thinks are the solutions to the problems that we face. Fair enough, then. But let’s ask alternative questions, think thru the answers, and also think blue sky. The great and the good don’t always have the answers. Even Bill Gates got Google wrong, badly wrong http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/prophesies-made-in-davos-dont-always-come-true/

And lest the PM forget, the PAP has not always been open with us.

The FTs came pouring in on the quiet. The government was not open on this issue, public housing and transport, and inflation.

Mah Bow Tan was telling us that his HDB building programme was sufficient when S’poreans were saying it was insufficient. Well fact that Khaw has accelerated and expanded the building programme shows that Mah was wrong, if not in denial.

And remember Raymond Lim said GST had to rise when we bitched about overcrowded trainds and buses: he implied that we juz wanted more comfort and so should pay for it. He was wrong or in denial about the problem. Well the massive spending plans, shows that we were right to get upset.

And inflation. I’ve gone on and on about Tharman and Hng Kiang saying that higher inflation doesn’t affect S’poreans who don’t buy cars. That is obfuscation, not openness.

But never mind, the PAP can remain complacent because Low has publicly implied that a vote for the WP is a vote for continued PAP rule.

Not that I’ll complain too much. The low-tax environment and the emphasis on making sure property prices “cheong all the way” have allowed me to stop working in my 40s. And have the time to think; and grumble, constructively, I hope.

And oh, keep on spending our money on ourselves. And double it, or triple it. Better return on investment for the PAP, then letting Temasek lose it like in here http://www.breakingviews.com/tpg-runs-rings-around-li-ning-shareholders/21064940.article. And anyway, , potential returns for investors are not going to be that great anyway http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2013/01/investing. So it’s a better investment for us and the PAP: make life more comfortable for us using our money.

*Read this on the science of framing questions, to get the “right” answers http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-20512743

Where “T” in “FT” means “Talent”, not “Trash”

In Footie on 29/01/2013 at 5:29 am

This chap is going to be based here. http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20130122-712467.html?mod=WSJ_FinancialServicesAndInsurance_middleHeadlines

We welcome people like him, like we welcome footie players Bennett and Duric.

But not people like SGX CEO and his deputy. Not anywhere in IPO top 10 for 2012. Yet the CEO and president (both FTs where the “T” can only stand for “Trash” want to bring in six more FTs. I assume the “T” means “Trash” not “Talent”. But our MSM continues praising http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/view/1249517/1/.html

From Economist http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/01/focus
IPO 2012

Population cliff: Even China has a problem

In Economy on 28/01/2013 at 5:20 am

Updated to include links to analysis of  the White Paper on FT growth released on 29 January 2013)

There is a a demographic cliff ahead: even for China

http://simonhedlin.com/2013/01/21/demographic-cliff-ahead/

Chinese statisticians are screaming about it: In the past the NBS has counted anyone between 15 and 64 years old as of working age. That age range is consistent with international convention and China’s own statistical yearbook. But in announcing the decline last week, the NBS adopted a narrower definition: 15- to 59-year-olds. By doing so, it drew early attention to a demographic downturn that will soon apply to 15- to 64-year-olds and to the population as a whole. Ma Jiantang, head of the NBS, said he did not want the population data to be “drowned in a sea of figures” released at the same time.

http://www.economist.com/news/china/21570750-first-two-articles-about-impact-chinas-one-child-policy-we-look-shrinking

Sadly, the PAP is no longer believed because its habit of prophesying doom and gloom went too far. Biy like boy who called “Wolf”, too often.

Update on 29 January 2012 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-21/singapore-turns-against-itself-as-pressure-for-babies-irks-women.html

http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/01/29/population-white-paper-projecting-6-9m-u-turn-on-influx-of-foreigners/

Related link:http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/when-55-of-voters-were-fts/

Even more goodies on the way?

In Humour, Political governance on 27/01/2013 at 5:42 am

Heard this one? KennethJ juz filed another police report*. This time alleging that there was massive vote rigging by the PAP to prevent him from winning. He says that it is unbelievable that the voters would prefer WP to s/o JBJ.

Err juz tot PM and the PAP needed shumething to smile about.

Looks like the govt will have to throw more of our money at us. Power to the people of Punggol East if this happens. they know game theory better than I do. I tot that they would vote PAP to get the goodies that comes to having a DPM round the corner. Looks like they are doubling their bets for even more goodies for themselves and us.

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*What will the threats, then website breakdown, the police have a lot to do.

Analysing Low’s speech of “Unity? What unity?”

In Political governance on 27/01/2013 at 5:10 am

– Netizens note: Nemesis did not punish his hubris

I was wrong. The WP won, overturning the 14 percentage point advantage of the PAP. My friend who predicted that with the amenities already in place, or on the way, the voters would vote WP. They had nothing to lose. Here’s TRE immediate take on it: Lingering unhappiness over issues like immigration and transport continue to plague the Government and the major policy announcements over the past few weeks clearly did not sway public opinion.

The WP also seems to have picked up momentum since their historic win in Aljunied GRC two years ago and it is clear that a desire for a strong opposition voice is a tide that might prove difficult for the PAP to reverse.

Ms Lee Li Lian also achieved a first in the history of Singapore – for the first time, an opposition managed to win a multi-cornered fight in an election. That speaks a lot on how Singaporeans feel about PAP these days.

So the 22 January 2013 speech by Low setting out the WP’s position on Opposition unity: it was for the fairies as far as WP was concerned did not upset Nemesis even though he got a lot of stick from netizens. It didn’t upset the 3,000 voters who swung the area WP’s way.

Below is an analysis sent in by “Choked by red pills” written in the immediate aftermath of that speech.

But first let me say that I understand Low’s annoyance with the calls of unity or co-operation. Based on what KennethJ and Mad Dog Chee said, it seems that their idea of teaming up against the PAP is: “You do the work, I get the glory and acclaim”. It juz isn’t on especially in the case of one-man band KennethJ s/o JBJ. What had he to offer to WP in PE? Look at his rally attendances. As to his economic expertise, if the WP wanted to tap economic expertise there are many high IQ, High EQ economists that the WP can take advice from.

At least in the case of SDP, one could argue that Mad Dog Chee offered extending the loan to the WP of the rabid anti-PAP vote, so that WP has a base on which to do its traditional outreach to the moderates. But even I who incline towards this view of the SDP having the mad dog vote, can’t be sure if this is true, or of the size of said vote, unless the SDP fights the WP. I’ll explore why the SDP WP blinked one of these days.

Then there is the resentment within the WP (very understandable) of the Johnnies come later: who are trying to tumpang on the brand building (that the opposition to the PAP can be responsible, mature and moderate; not just a “motley crew” of bicycle thieves, loonies led by a brave, charismatic, egoistic demagogue) by WP (under Low) since 2001. NSP, RP and even SDP were riding on WP’s hard work. The Mad Dog party only turned to electoral politics in 2010. Before that it was bite-and-bait-the-government  game.

Then there is for Low and the other WP leaders the issue of pleasing their activists who are not MPs. The activists want a crack at $15,000 allowances, The jockeying to get places in Aljunied was not funny.

So while I have problems with WP’s performance since GE 2011, I’m on Low’s side when he sneers, “Unity? What unity? Co-operation? What Co-operation?” when the other pygmies parties want the giant to tie himself up, so that they can take advantage of said giant’s hard work.

Having said all this, I commend this for yr reading. Written by one “Choked on red pills”, it analyses Low’s unity speech of 22 January. It was written on 23 January, well before yesterday’s victory.

For all intents and purposes, this Saturday’s by-election may not be significant for the country’s political future …

However, last night’s rally is extremely significant. It’s not because LTK chose to regale us with his POV about the opposition’s political history since 1991

(note: history is often written by the victor). It’s his explicit rhetoric that his party of alternative political moderates will now go their own way. It wasn’t implied. It wasn’t a suggestion. It wasn’t a hint. He said “opposition unity is impossible”.

Before 2011, it may be reasonable to believe that politics in our neighbouring country was far advanced in terms of maturity than ours. The ruling party there was dealt a heavy blow and resulted in the resignation of their Prime Minister who presided over the elections. It was possible because the opposition there had a central figure, who could persuade other parties to form one united banner against the ruling party, i.e., a coalition. The rest, as we know, is history and there is talk about how the coming elections up there could possibly result in more gains for the opposition.

With LTK’s strongly worded statements during last night’s rally, all chances of an opposition coalition have evaporated. This means that the strategy that the opposition held since 1980s – to avoid three-cornered fights – has been abandoned*. While it signals his confidence in his own party which he has painfully shaped (to his credit), there will be serious implications for Singapore’s political future from this.

Firstly, WP will strongly brand itself as a moderate alternative to the PAP. With the tacit rejection of any form of co-operation with other opposition parties politically, it will go their own way but possibly not stray too far away from the path that the PAP treads in terms of policy. At the same time, with LTK’s rhetoric, he has burnt a fair bit of bridges with the other parties. Effectively, it will be far harder for WP to convince other parties to form any agreement with them if it needs a slim majority to form the Government in the (far) future.

At this point, it may be useful to be reminded of how, when PE SMC was open to a by-election, many believed that the old strategy of a two-cornered fight would still serve the best interests in sending another opposition candidate to Parly. Which means, other parties should stay away from contesting so that WP will have abetter chance of winning the BE. [Yet, ethically it may be tricky to suggest that WP should have the right to contest in the two-cornered fight as they weren’t the first to contest there.] But with LTK’s speech last night, it is an admission that the WP will not hesitate to contest in other wards even if other parties had “staked their claims” and worked the ground there.

Asean round-up

In Corporate governance, Indonesia on 26/01/2013 at 5:52 pm

Problems Chinese and British investors face.

Chinese investments in Burma

U/m extracted from BBC report:

– China has nearly $14bn of interests in Burma – one third of all foreign investment in the country

– About US$13bn of that has been invested since 2008

– Most investments are in hydro-electric power, oil and gas, mining, jade and teak

– Critics say a US$2.5bn project for twin oil and gas pipelines from the Bay of Bengal to western China will provide China with cheap energy while Rangoon continues to suffer power cuts

– In 2011 Burma halted a hydropower project, the Myitsone dam on the Irrawaddy river, which would have created a reservoir bigger than Singapore.

– There is a major row between villagers and a mining project that the Chinese have an investment in. The copper mine, is a joint venture between China’s Wanbao company – a subsidiary of the arms manufacturer, Norinco – and the business arm of the Burmese military,People have badly hurt protesting against the US$1bn expansion of thr copper mine.

Corporate governance row continues in Indonesia

Coal miner Bumi has said it is unable to substantiate claims of potential financial and other irregularities at its Indonesian operations.

Bumi is facing a battle for control after agreeing to a shareholder vote that will decide the future of the majority of its board members.The vote will take place in February, at a date to be named.

Nathaniel Rothschild, co-founder of Bumi, had demanded the vote in an attempt to return to the firm’s board. Mr Rothschild wants to oust 12 of the 14 board members and bring in new ones in an effort to turn the firm around.

He had quit the board last year amid a row with Indonesia’s Bakrie family.

Bumi owns a stake in key Bakrie assets and there have been tensions between the two over potential irregularities at one of the Bakrie firms.

The dispute revolves around Bakries’ Indonesian firm PT Bumi Resources, in which Bumi owns a 29% stake.

Mr Rothschild had called for a radical clean-up at the firm in 2011, leading to relations between the two being soured. Last year, Bumi began an inquiry into what it said were “potential financial and other irregularities” at the firm.

Then, the Bakrie family offered to buy back its assets from Bumi for an estimated $1.4bn (£870m) and split from the firm.

However, Mr Rothschild said the proposal was “not in the interests of minority shareholders” and resigned from the board.

The deteriorating relations between the two key shareholders have stoked fears about the future of the firm and hurt its share price. Its shares have plunged more than 65% in the past 12 months.

Bumi has also been hurt by a drop in coal prices, which has hurt its earnings and forced it to review its expansion plans.

When 55% of voters were FTs

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance on 25/01/2013 at 5:03 am

(Update on 29 January 2012 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-21/singapore-turns-against-itself-as-pressure-for-babies-irks-women.html

http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/01/29/population-white-paper-projecting-6-9m-u-turn-on-influx-of-foreigners/)

TRE readers are forever screaming that the PAP govt wants to swamp S’pore with citizens born overseas. They might like to know that  in 1959, according to the u/m book, only 270,00 out of the 600,000 voters were born here. If TRE readers are correct, the PAP is only restoring things to as they were when the PAP came into power. Is that so wrong? LOL.

Interestingly the author reported that when one LKY revealed the above fact in 1959, LKY also said,”we must go about our task (of building up a nation) with urgency … of integrating our people now and quickly”. Maybe he repented building up a nation?

Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962)

(http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/mai/new-book-singapore-correspondent/)
by Leon Comber*

Publisher:  Marshall Cavendish International Asia

Singapore Correspondent Book CoverSingapore Correspondent” covers five years of Singapore’s colourful political past – a period of living turbulently and sometimes dangerously. It is a collection of eye-witness dispatches, sent from Singapore to London, spanning a time when Singapore was emerging from British colonial rule and moving forward to self-government and independence. Many of the early struggles of the People’s Action Party (PAP) are described as the focus is on the political struggle taking place in which the PAP played a major part. Many important events which have long been forgotten are brought to life. These dispatches prove that political history need not be dull, and indeed can sometimes be entertaining and lively.

* MAI Adjunct Research Fellow
 

.

Punggol East: More Tak Boleh Tahan comments

In Humour, Political governance on 24/01/2013 at 6:06 pm

(Or “Who are WP, PAP Koh, s/o JBJ, & TJS trying to bluff?”)

Starting with WP, the “can’t stand” comments (Note unless otherwise attributed, quotes are from CNA)

– “Lee Li Lian said having another WP member in Parliament will strengthen the voice of the opposition party.”/ “Lee Li Lian said the Punggol East by-election will serve as a barometer of her party’s performance since the last General Election.

Ah Lian, Voice, what Voice? Performance, what Performance? Eight no sound, no action: one more make the difference meh? WP juz wants another 15k a month allowance.

– “Ms Lee said the by-election will show whether residents will have the confidence to give the party their votes.”

She means confident that WP is PAP Lite, without being able to give away goodies?

– “The Workers’ Party has urged Punggol East residents to use their votes to make the government work harder.”

I prefer what a PAPpy minister said, “Voting for PAP will make WP work harder.”

– Sylvia Lim said that some things (alternative suggestions on certain policies) are whispered to the govt behind “closed doors’’

This was what PAP MPs used to say, Auntie. Oh, I forgot: you are PAP Lite.

– “Chairman Sylvia Lim had said that this by-election is in some way an indicator of how the people feel about the government’s performance.”

So if voters like the way the govt is spending our money on ourselves, vote PAP is it, Auntie?

(I can go on and on, what with what PritamS and Low said on rally nights, but I don’t want to appear anti-WP. Still hoping to have a date with JG.)

But the PAP is just as bad:

– “Dr Koh also said he is fighting his own race in the by-election.”

Err, so so PM, DPM, Education Minister etc did not come, or attack the WP? Impersonators did these things?

– “[H]e feels that tackling local issues first will bring about more immediate reprieve for the residents.”

So Palmer was not doing his job as MP, preferring mangoes with Laura? So why didn’t PAP tell him to pull up his socks (and pants) and help residents? Why wait until now?

– “serving the people”

In Telok Blangah to be precise, not Punggol East or even Punggol. And the ST dares call him “son of Punggol”: err more like prodigal son, who preferred to “move on” to Toa Payoh, then Telok Blangah: anywhere except Punggol area.

– “I want to be a participant in this process of change from within.”

PAP MPs always saying this from time immemorial (“Go with the flow” Georgie said this once): were it not for GE and PE results, there would be no change on the policy of not spending our money on ourselves. The money would be allocated allocated for casino games. Post these elections, the govt has been spending our money on making life more comfortable for ourselves. Voters forced this change of mind-set on the PAP. It didn’t come from within. If change could have come from within, PM would not have had to apologise. Nor would George have turned like a cornered rat on the PAP in a vain attempt to remain a minister.

– Kate Spade Tin and side-kick Denise He were told not to sabo when they volunteered to run Koh’s social media activities.

As to the Sui Kees who think they are Tua Kees:

– “The Reform Party will be having their rally carried out as per planned … This is after being assured by the police that it would be safe to attend the rally and that security has been stepped up. Just a while ago, the fanpage announced that the party will not proceed with the rally unless Singapore Police Force ensures the safety of their supporters.” TOC

Wayang King, Drama Queen, this son of Lion King, JBJ, and Lion Queen, Margaret. They must be weeping in heaven, at how their son turned out. Never mind, the other boy is better, a lot better, even if he married into a PAPpy family. Err maybe, taz why he has high EQ, in addition to high IQ, and is one of us.

– s/o JBJ got flu after being in rain

How to be MP in S’pore? Always raining here. He will always be AWOL or MIA if elected MP.

– “TJS says he tried but failed to persuade RP) and SDA to withdraw” TRE

Wonder if KJ or DL said to him, “Juz following your example, Big Brudder.”. Someone posted this on TRE, “TSJ you yourself is a spoiler do you think as a spoiler you are more professional to talk to spoiler.Come on you are a jilted failure candidate.”

No, not criticising Desperate Loser because he deserves two cheers. He is a warning to Low and Sylvia and other arrogant non-fat people that fat, short, balding men should not be taken for granted nor pushed around: they can cause trouble, serious trouble if provoked. Remember Eric Tan? One day he too may have his revenge on Low, Sylvia and GG, Eric’s apprentice.

As for Mad Dog (or is it it Coyote?) Chee, he deserves a posting of his very own. Akan datang.

Anyway, voters of Punngol East, as the PAP used to say when the WP fielded bicycle thieves, Maurice Neo, loonies,  and JBJ, “Vote wisely”.

And if any voter wants to vote “unwisely” to send messages to the PAP and the WP, vote for DL: he is one of us, a true blue S’porean. He juz got mad as hell, fed-up of being pushed around. KennethJ is not one of us. He is low EQ, high IQ FT that juz happened to be born here, who thinks that S’poreans owe him a living because he is s/o JBJ. Give him the finger.

*I mean one LKY even said that the size of the reserves had to be kept a secret from S’poreans, lest we want it to be spent on ourselves.

HSBC on Asean in 2013

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 24/01/2013 at 1:26 pm

“India, Indonesia and Vietnam stand to benefit most as they have large labour forces and strong domestic markets,” says HSBC on MNCs moving on from China because of rising wages and an appreciating yuan.

It also highlighted in a report last month political jockeying ahead of a presidential election in Indonesia in 2014; uncertainty over the outcome of a general election expected in Malaysia soon (the Opposition alliance is tot to have a chance of winning despite the strange combi of Islamists, connected to the Muslim Brudders in Egypt, who want to chop off heads and limbs, and a moderate Malay party, and a secular Chinese, Indian party)) ; and simmering political tensions in Thailand.
This puts netizens preoccupation with Punggol East in perspective: doesn’t matter in ASEAN context. And, dare I say it, in the local context too. Either PAP wins, or PAP Lite wins.

OMG! Low: a great strategist & sage

In Political governance on 24/01/2013 at 5:48 am

Given that netizens have turned against the WP and Low, I tot I should bring a little balance into the row, by letting JG say a few words.

I’m glad she didn’t compare Low and WP to Sun Tzu because then I’ll be reminded of what Edward Luttwak, a modern-day American strategist, recently wrote of the use of Sun Tzu teachings by the Chinese, “While Han generals in charge of large armies were busy quoting Sun Tzu to each other, relatively small numbers of mounted warriors schooled in the rudely effective strategy and tactics of the steppe outmanoeuvred and defeated their forces.” Lest we forget, the Hsiung Nu, Tibetans, Jurchens, Khitans, Mongols, Manchus,and other nomads defeated Chinese generals steeped in Sun Tzu’s aphorisms.

She writes:

Re : Low’s weird comments

I take the opposite tack of you – instead of Low being a liability in this BE, I think he has acted splendidly. Put it another way : on a scale of 1 to 10, I rank Low 8, LHL 6 and CSJ 4 in terms of strategic manouevers and tactical execution.

First of all, we need to recognise that in the heat of a campaign, if you put every person’s words under a microscope, you’ll find meat that anyone can go after. Dr Koh had made many verbal blunders (“As professionals, we need 2 cars”, “my wife said you want to help but people don’t want your help”), KJ (“on MC today”), LTK and interestingly so far, none from Ah Lian. These are TACTICAL mis-steps – every candidate makes them. The Great Obama said something about “bitter people .. clinging on to their guns”, Michelle Obama (“for the first time, I’m proud of my country”).

These tactical blunders happen, but most are minor and recoverable. Particularly if you look at the context they are uttered. In LTK’s case, I think he meant “all the PM has to say” to mean, “is this the best complain you PM can find about WP so far?”. In any case, I think very very few Punggol residents microscopically analyse a candidate’s every word and go off-tangent with one single badly worded utterance.

The more important battle is strategic, not tactical per se. Here, you got to give LTK credit, where I think he is due. Even PAP MPs I speak to (off the record), applaud LTK as being politically very shrewd.

At the start of the BE, look at how LTK handle the SDP jumping in saga. He did it, basically like how Obama handled Romney or McCain – let them self-destruct. LTK stuck to the politically correct script – everyone has the right to stand for elections – who can argue with “the sun rises from the east” type comments, right? Meanwhile, CSJ was detonating landmines publicly, day by day (cannot contact WP, publicly disclose confidential letters, we only good at making speeches in Parliament but not confident in handling Town Council) and then withdrawal. Similarly, it lets the ego of Desmond and KJ grow and over-shadow whatever credence SDA or RP used to have. Suddenly no more rallies, “paid volunteers” saga (for Desmond). AWOL, daily complaints of threats and police reports (for KJ) — let their wayang hog the limelight, let them self-destruct, no need to say a word.

Behind the scene, LTK selected Ah Lian to take on smooth, professional Dr Koh. Arguably, a better choice, than say GG. Because Ah Lian is so down to earth, so real (right down to her missing 2 front teeth) that the contrast with Dr Koh became greater, especially when Dr Koh came across as stretching the truth ($10 left, only enough for chopsticks, switch from BMW to Toyota car when visit Punggol etc etc). This contrast seems to be hitting a cord. It was reported on-line that reporters tailing both candidates on house visits, observed that residents are warmer towards Ah Lian, posing for photos, sharing their stories, introduce their family, giving a drink. Word got to the PAP too.

LTK also straddled the “local issue” vs “national issue” beautifully. I’d say,to the extent of running circles around the PAP. What do I mean? For Aljunied, LTK bet 100% on national – PAP thot local issue usually matters more but was swept by the tide. So PAP tried to immunize itself right from the start with PUnggol BE – a wave of good news. But LTK attacked first on the local front – Riverdale, how come so many RCs but so little coffeeshops, transport, – ie. what has your PAP MP been doing all these years? So local concerns got paraded to the front, and Dr Koh tried playing the same game – I’m my own man. LTK used these local issues to get Ah Lian to connect to each resident on the ground-game front.

Then in the closing stages of the campaign, LTK swings back to national issues in the public campaign. The more good news got trumpeted, the more it appears that if Aljunied had not fallen, PAP would not have reversed course. If Punggol BE had not happen, some of these good news would not get announced. So it plays into the need for opposition, theme. And LTK only drums up AIM in the last few days of the campaign. Why? I do not think many PUnggol residents know what is AIM, or even really care. But the hard core opposition supporters do care. So this is “red meat” for the base. In other words, focus first on the middle block, handle the risk that the base will defect to Desmond/KJ by giving them some red meat right at the end (and after giving time for Desmond/KL to implode). The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Hopefully, this then consolidates both the middle and base votes.

The other advantage of trumpeting national issues at the late stage of the game, is that it baits the “big guns” of PAP to respond. And they usually respond clumsily and turn off voters by the way they over-react.

Whether or not this is enough to win Punggol, I do not know. But I have heard that PAP is sweating. It was said that PAP carefully carved out Punggol SMC in 2011 and that in the prior elections (2006?), that Punggol SMC had 30+% vote swing to PAP. Unexpectedly, this got cut to 10% swing in GE2011. PAP had counted on multi-corner fights, particularly from newly released CSJ and SDP to spoil the party. That didn’t happen. LHL called the elections thinking there’s a good chance they’ll win. As the campaign progressed, and they too feel the “smell of Hougang”, they’re now not so sure.

But as I said, as long as WP increases meaningfully from 41%, and PAP decreases meaningfully from 55% – WP does not need to win, for PAP to lose. A 5% swing away from the PAP (ie. 49% or 50% only) will be a dreaded signal that the electorate is still unhappy with PAP and this will keep them on their toes. A WP win is a jackpot.

And oh, the other thing I like about this BE — it has also put WP under the fire too, to defend its record and hopefully, correct course where necessary. You didn’t hear WP being so defensive in Hougang BE. In other words, this time they got the message – there are some out there who’re unhappy at their low-key approach. Hopefully, this makes them a better party moving forward too. So Desmond is right and wrong – someone needs to keep a check on both PAP and WP. Unfortunately, its not Desmond — its we, the people. Through the messiness of the internet, online chatter, rallies etc. Both PAP and WP are hearing us. That’s good isn’t it ?

* If I were her employer, I’d sure be angry that she skivving.

Why the economists got it wrong in 2007-2008

In Financial competency on 23/01/2013 at 5:27 am

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/01/brief-history-macro

MAINSTREAM macroeconomics has a pretty poor reputation these days, both among the public at large and among economists in other fields. This is hardly surprising. There is little consensus on even the most basic questions in macro …

Now, several groups of economists are trying to rebuild macro, often melding previously discarded ideas with sophisticated new mathematical and computational techniques … I want to look more at the history of the field.

WP supporter’s analysis of the Punggol East by-election

In Humour, Political governance on 22/01/2013 at 6:05 pm

JG responded to http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/punggol-east-voters-are-not-daft/ with some good, rational points. For the sake of JG and other decent, sincere and rational WP supporters like her (there are people on Facebook who doubt that such supporters exist: WP supporters are like PAP supporters), I hope Low stops trying to join the PAP Comedy Club. Either that or he should replace his speech writer who must be a PAPpy mole. After JG’s comments, I repeat Low’s “jokes’ and add my comments on said “jokes”.

WP Forever

I’m not sure that the “practical difference of having a DPM” is being felt in Punggol BE or is even on the radar of residents. Sometimes, I also feel that we (the so-called “vocal minority”, of which I’m admittedly one) tend to over-analyze things.

My own take is that residents are probably still disgruntled with PAP, whether more disgruntled or less compared to the mood of GE2011, I’m not sure. That’s on the national factor front.

Also, GE2011 had the factor of “Aunty-killer” and incumbency advantage for Palmer. And on WP side, all the oxygen was being sucked out to Aljunied contest, all other candidates fielded were perceived to be “B” or “C” team. Now its a solo contest. And SDA was perceived “neutrally” then (now, its no longer neutrally perceived, I’ll be surprised to see it get half of what it even did last time). And it seems to have a drumbeat of “bad local factors” – like Riverdale, etc.

Put it all together, I think there will be a reduction in PAP support. GE2011 was 10 point PAP advantage vs opposition. I expect this to drop. I hope the swing is >5%. If its 10% swing, then its a jackpot. But no need to have jackpot to celebrate.

For me, as long as WP increases it support (regardless Ah Lian win or not) and PAP meaningfully decreases — its a big win. Its a win for WP becos it will show that WP’s “style”, while being lampooned by some online, still resonates with the heartland. Most importantly, it sends the signal to PAP – the change you’re making is still not good enough.

An outright win by WP will be a major disaster for PAP. The grassroots will be totally demoralized. This is the “jackpot” scenario.

On the other hand, if the results mirror GE2011 (ie. ~10% advantage PAP), then PAP will have a major win. Not that WP has a lost, unless their support drop <41%. But PAP will be able to say that all these nonsense about AIM-gate etc are just a “vocal minority”. They will feel vindicated. And continue to do what they like, starting with revealing (surprise, surprise) the plans for population growth over the next decade. [These are the reasons to hope and pray for a PAP Lite win. Keeps the Real PAP "kan cheong". Sadly, s/o JBJ and Desperate Loser don't see things this way: selfish.]

Low’s weird comments

His “Why vote PAP”,“The Government should be given time to rectify the shortcomings and neglects pointed out to it. Doing so [not whacking the PAP] would ‘serve the public interest better than continuing to agitate and raise political tension to gain maximum political mileage for WP’, as it takes time for policy changes to take effect on the ground.”

Right so vote PAP to give them more time.

And this comes across as telling PM that he (Low) has met his KPI (presumably decided behind “closed doors”), “I am pleased that all the Prime Minister has to say about the WP is to lament that we have not done enough in Parliament.”.

Waz the reward? Thirty pieces of silver or a doggie biscuit? LOL

Maybe, Low should return to being,”The deaf mute from Hougang”? He is coming across as , “The WP’s parody of s/o JBJ, the talk cock, sing song wayang king and drama queen from Saint Andrews”.

More FTs on way, a lot MORE!: DBS

In Economy, Infrastructure, Political economy on 22/01/2013 at 6:29 am

OK, OK, I exaggerate: only 8% more of population if S’poreans don’t start breeding like rabbits.

DBS Vickers expects an upcoming white paper on Singapore’s population to raise its population target to 7 million from 6.5 million, which will benefit construction, land transport, property and healthcare companies. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/18/markets-singapore-stocksnews-population-idUSL4N0AN3GR20130118

SMRT is not on the “buy” list. It too has concerns about SMRT, like me and many others.

SMRT: Noticed?

In Infrastructure on 21/01/2013 at 5:45 am

I had planned to blog on the new appointments http://www.sammyboy.com/showthread.php?138562-8-New-hires-to-get-SMRT-on-track-4-from-military but forgot until today. Old age.

Noticed that SMRT has created seven new posts? Looks like Kuekie wants to spend, spend, spend on expanding management.He must think SMRT like SAF, money not an issue.

Taz two reasons to avoid the stock. The only reason to buy is to capture the gains from increased fares. But I’m not sure if fares would be allowed to rise this year, let alone this side of next GE: unless there is a marked improvement in service.

And speaking about service, on Boxing Day, for the first time ever, I couldn’t board a train because it was full: I didn’t have the right to board a crowded train, it was too crowded. It was at noon at Bishan. Note, I avoid using MRT and buses during rush hrs. And on Boxing Day and 31st Dec, there were problems when I used the NE Line.

Punggol East voters are not daft

In Humour, Political governance on 20/01/2013 at 5:58 pm

(Update again: PAP got the killer reason to vote for it “Voting for PAP will make WP work harder: Heng Swee Keat” LOL)

I predict that the PAP will win with  a 6-10 percentage points  margin over the combined votes of the Ah Lian, Determined Loser and Wayang King (or is it Drama Queen, or both?)*. The last two will lose their deposits.

Why a comfortable PAP win?

The very cynical answer is that the voters have experience of being part of a town council in a DPM’s patch. Long-term residents in the GRC and Punggol East know that things get done when an MP is also the DPM. They would have seen the contrast: civil servants, PA officials may tai-chi away a MP or minister’s request, but a DPM’s request is different.

It happens in Tharman’s GRC too. A friend who has been living in Tarman Jurong for many years, and who has been a grass-roots activist since Tharman became an MP, tells me the practical difference having a DPM makes. When Tharman was an MP and then minister, things happened but only at a glacial pace. Always got some reason for not doing what he wanted. The usual excuse is “Not in present plan. Next plan, maybe.”

Tharman and residents had wanted a covered walkway to a MRT station since he became MP. Always told why it had to wait. But when he became DPM, and made a request for the up-teem time, the walkway was not only built but better than the one he had been requesting.

Now, I know, residents in the Punggol, Pasir Ris area have similar tales to tell. So would the voters of Punggol East take the risk of becoming part of a WP town council, given that they have a PAP MP who happens to be a DPM round the corner?

They also have the following non-cynical reasons excuses to vote PAP:

– PAP has apologised and started delivering on its promises (witness ministers’ salaries reduction, S$1.1bn on buses, MRT plans, more flats)*;

– WP has done bugger-all for them (KennethJ double confirms this, as though he has done anything for them too too) and country;

– Low implicitly tells them to vote PAP, “The Government should be given time to rectify the shortcomings and neglects pointed out to it. Doing so [not whacking the PAP] would ‘serve the public interest better than continuing to agitate and raise political tension to gain maximum political mileage for WP’, as it takes time for policy changes to take effect on the ground”**;  and

– WP can’t win what with the two clowns contesting. Even if they weren’t, the previous margin of victory of the PAP would show that it wouldn’t be easy. No George Yeo and his gals from hell here.

So, the voters will be Chinese (even the non-Chinese 20%) i.e. pragmatic. They will vote for the PAP teochew boy born in the area made and good, for goodies, to show WP and other opposition parties not to take voters for granted, and to show netizens that they (the netizens) are nothing but elitist kay poh do-gooders who live in districts 9,10, 11 and 15, not in the heartlands of S’pore.

The people of Punggol East are juz decent, hard working, aspirational S’poreans, not elitist activists. And the PAP knows this.

*I’m glad to hear that it seems the SPF asked if he had contacted the London police. He apparently said, “No”. He was asked “You not taking the threats that seriously? Surely you want the police there to keep an eye on them?” I’m told, he kept quiet. [Line struck out after reading Monday’s ST report that his wife had made police report in London. But I’m surprised to read that grandson of that Lion was so upset: he 16 years old, not kiddie.)

**No, PAP has not paid me to say this. It is a fact that the govt is finally spending our money to make life more comfortable for us.

***Isn’t this telling voters that they should continue giving PAP the chance to deliver on its promises? Low needs a better speech writer.

Reading SPH, MediaCorp investment “advice”?

In Financial competency, Media on 20/01/2013 at 6:38 am

Watch this then. American-centric but fully of useful insights on the problems of the advice we get http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2013/01/finance-guru-bubble

Sadly, the view here is that teaching financial competency to kids is not a solution to financial illiteracy.

Asean round-up

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Private Equity on 19/01/2013 at 1:21 pm

Almost about the telco market in Burma, but there’s more after this Burmese stuff.

Taiwanese smartphone company HTC has become the latest to enter the largely untapped Burmese market, as the country opens up to foreign firms. HTC launched its smartphones in Burma on Monday. The phones will come with a Burmese language on-screen keyboard, which the company says is the most advanced available. Burma has one of the lowest mobile phone ownership levels in the world: in 2011, only 3% of the population had a mobile phone.

HTC is not the first smartphone maker to try to tap into the Burmese market. Samsung and Huawei lead the market with their low-cost devices. However, HTC is hoping to attract consumers with what it calls one of the most advanced Burmese language keyboards in the country.

Burma is also planning licence four more telco operators: invitations have been made to tender for two. The existing is govt-owned.

The expected bidders are: Russia’s VimpelCom, among the world’s top 10 mobile network operators in terms of subscribers; Telenor of Norway, a major shareholder in VimpelCom; Vietnam’s VNPT-Fujitsu, a joint-venture between Vietnam and Japan’s Fujitsu; Malaysia’s Axiata; and Digicel, the largest mobile operator in the Caribbean.

Local listco and mobile phone distributor mDr Ltd has incorporated a subsidiary in Burma. Itholds a 51% stake in MDR Myanmar while its local partners, Be-Well (Myanmar), Be-Well Corp and Avitar Enterprises, will hold 20, 20 and 9% respectively.

The new company, with a paid-up and issued capital of US$50,000, will provide after-sales services of telecommunication devices to consumers. It will also be involved in the mobile devices and accessories distribution and retail businesses via its provision of exclusive consultancy and retail franchisee procurement services to Myanmar-based Golden Myanmar Sea Co Ltd (GMS).

Thailand: a cheong too far? http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/01/16/thailands-unsustainable-boom-is-piling-up-risks/

Indon private equity firm on a roll: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-15/saratoga-seeks-consumer-deals-with-480-million-war-chest.html

Flooding caused by days of heavy rain has hit parts of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, forcing businesses to close and blocking roads. Areas including the central business district (CBD) were inundated and traffic was grid-locked as residents struggled to move around the city.

Meanwhile there is a water shortage just south of KL.

“I’m invested in S’pore” & S’pore in 50s/ 60s

In Political governance on 18/01/2013 at 5:20 am

Shumeone (Bad grammar indicates that it is a member of YPAP Internet Brigade? Juz joking LOL) wrote,”why (sic) is this blog becoming like the local sites to air political grievances ?”

Because like PAPy Puthu, “I’m invested in S’pore”. So long as I remain a quitter in residence, and have investments here (property, shares, S$ cash), I must protect these investments. Increasingly the issues affecting my investment centre around the goofs of the PAP govt. These goofs have resulted in over 5% inflation, overcrowding, failing (by S’pore’s very high standards) infrastructure (telco and train cock-ups, congested roads, and the very high cost of public housing), productivity, stratification of society, among others.

For the record, I’m starting to like FT MP Puthu. I didn’t like him because of his sneer at NS (equating saving lives with doing NS. Dr PaulA, put him down by pointing out that there are docs who do NS (including reservist and save lives), and because he said his view on ISA was secret (PAP locked up dad, then deported him).

But I hear he is a gd constituency MP, and he did raise the issue of public transport nationalisation in parly. Something that the Wayang (or is it Worthless or Wankers?) Party hasn’t done despite it being an election promise. Promises made to be broken is it, WP? First-world political parties don’t do things like this.

And talking of the past, Dr PaulA and other younger S’poreans should read the u/m book. While they rightly discount much of the LKY, SPH stuff, as propaganda, they can’t and shouldn’t discount this written by a ex-Special Branch ang moh, after he was sacked by the British. He was married to one Han Suyin and was sacked from Special Branch because of her: In 1956, she published the novel And the Rain My Drink, wherein she described the interrogation techniques used by the Special Branch against Communist suspects.  Comber has written that he was sacked (asked to resign) as Assistant Commissioner of Police (Special Branch) because of said book.

The book describes how bad things once were. A PAPpy would say they make my above bitchings petty. He could also point out that after reading the book, I sent an email to friend in his 60s who moved on from S’pore after Sec 4,”Reading this book reminds me why you did the right thing: go to London. It was a tough time, and the rhetoric from LKY wasn’t reassuring.”. My friend went on to become v.v. rich as a financier.

Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962)
(http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/mai/new-book-singapore-correspondent/)
by Leon Comber*

Publisher:  Marshall Cavendish International Asia

Singapore Correspondent Book CoverSingapore Correspondent” covers five years of Singapore’s colourful political past – a period of living turbulently and sometimes dangerously. It is a collection of eye-witness dispatches, sent from Singapore to London, spanning a time when Singapore was emerging from British colonial rule and moving forward to self-government and independence. Many of the early struggles of the People’s Action Party (PAP) are described as the focus is on the political struggle taking place in which the PAP played a major part. Many important events which have long been forgotten are brought to life. These dispatches prove that political history need not be dull, and indeed can sometimes be entertaining and lively.

* MAI Adjunct Research Fellow
 
 

 
 

Try this to curb car growth?

In Economy, Uncategorized on 17/01/2013 at 6:04 am

Every time, COE prices rise, there is sure to be a rant from Ravi the NSP member that will appear on my FB wall that “Shumething must be done”.

But what should be done? Our mega-millionaire ministers and civil servants only mutter about tinkering with the COE system. They can afford the COEs, after all.

As to the impact on inflation and economy generally, DPM and finance minister, and trade minister say,”No sweat, if not planning to buy vehicle”. Err vehicles also used to transport goods and dispatch service workers: when I got a PC issue, I don’t expect IT techie to walk or take the bus.

San Francisco is trying out car-sharing using Beemers.

With a large and growing number of people here choosing not to own a car, German manufacturer BMW has decided to branch out into car-sharing services with a fleet of 70 cars spread around the city – initially in 14 locations, with a further 100 being added gradually …

– If drivers share rather than own cars, the overall number of vehicles in the city is reduced. Each car in a car sharing scheme results in 10 cars leaving the street, according to consultants Frost & Sullivan.
— Shared cars that are actively used most of the day do not clog up parking places while on the move.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20638779

Here is urban planning experimentation at its best.

No free market mantras or rants. Be constructive.

 

 

Vietnam: Noticed?

In Vietnam on 16/01/2013 at 10:24 am

Vietnam’s benchmark index was up 20%  in the past six weeks, four times better than the MSCI Asia ex-Japan.

Reputations: Be mean & laugh

In Humour, Political governance, Property on 16/01/2013 at 5:30 am

Here’s an intermission from the antics of Mad Dog (or is it Coyote?) Chee and the S’pore Indian Party as the SDP should be renamed: I mean with both potential candidates being Indians of great credentials (I know Dr PaulA and have a lot of respect for him) and from privileged backgrounds*,  in a predominantly Cina area, what was the SDP SIP thinking? The PAP fields a poor Teochew boy made good, and rumour has it that Low was looking around for another Teochew lang. Unfortunately after Staggy Yaw, none in WP are suitable. Chee and gang must be idealistic mad dogs if they believe that race doesn’t matter in S’pore. It does unless the hegemon decides otherwise.

As to the withdrawal, I’ll blog on it after thinking about what Morocco Mole and Secret Squirrel told me. Anyway I had analysed that the SDP wanted some goodies and that WP should agree: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/when-mad-dog-meets-tua-kees/

Here’s my “Tak boleh Tahan” riposte to various things I’ve read, in the last few days, on the internet. You you find them as entertaining as the Mad Dog’s antics. Or is he a coyote?

Law prof’s “academic integrity”

When prof Tey Tsun Hang  was charged for corruption in that he persuaded his student to pleasure him in return forgiving her better grades, he proclaimed loudly his “academic integrity”. I tot he was going to defend himself by saying that “I didn’t screw her”: all first-world academic codes of conduct frown on professors screwing their students. Well, we now know that his definition of “academic integrity” excludes sex with students. Bit like Bill Clinton’s definition of sex: it excluded a certain action between gal’s mouth and his organ.

And as to his alleged persecution because he criticised the judiciary (http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/01/11/sex-charge-an-academic-persecution-of-law-professor/), so it’s OK for a professor to have sex with his student, so long as he criticises S’pore judges. ERr what about minors?

BTW, if Alex Au had posted this link, I’m sure his friend, the AG, would have written to him that the piece was in contempt of the judiciary. But as it appeared in TRE, the voice of the masses, one can only speculate that the AG doesn’t want to soil his hands http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/why-i-miss-tr/. Or AG doesn’t believe that TRE carries any cred with reasonable, thinking S’poreans, it “is a bearer of rumours, rubbish and nonsense”. Or that it will soon close down because “TRE readers are losers, houseflies and maggot’s young”, who are not willing to keep the site going by donating money. http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/01/15/tr-emeritus-a-bearer-of-rumours-rubbish-and-nonsense/

Jos talks cock again

From CNA:

Singapore can possibly take a leaf out from other jurisdictions to look at how they curb rising property prices. Member of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Christopher De Souza, said this includes learning from Hong Kong and Australia … he prefers the Australian model. He said: “What the Australian model does is prevent foreigners from buying anything except new developments in Australia, and then hold on to that and eventually if they want to sell, to sell only to an Australian citizen.

“This allows the local population to set a correct pricing mechanism, which I feel is a good alternative for Singapore.”

Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo said Singapore already has such restrictions on the entire HDB market and executive condominiums.

Currently, foreigners are not allowed to buy HDB flats and they are also barred from buying units in executive condominium developments that are less than 10 years old.

Hello Jos: What about the restriction that can only be sold to citizens? Not here is it. If she doesn’t ak PAP MP, thinbk she will listen to what Opposition MPs are saying?

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/jos-too-is-talking-cock/

Will Mrs change mind?

‘After saying for days that he was seriously considering contesting the single seat ward of Punggol East, Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam has now said he is “90 per cent likely to go ahead”.’ (ST a few days ago): yesterday he said he was running.

There are allegations that his wife wears the pants in that household, and that she was finally persuaded that he should run.

Will she change her mind, now that SDP has withdrawn? Her heloo will be whipped by Ah Lian.

Ong Yee Kung is soiled

This ST reporter speculated that Ong was not PAP’s candidate in PE because he was part of the losing team in Aljunied http://www.singapolitics.sg/views/why-was-it-not-ong-ye-kung. Err ever tot that his roles in SMRT and NTUC, coupled with local drivers’ unhappiness and the strike by FT drivers made him toxic. Meritocracy? What meritocracy? http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/meritocracys-feet-of-clay-ong-ye-kung/

SDP doing shumething right?

And finally coming back to Chee. SIP SDP must be doing shumething righr to warrant this bitch from ST journalist. Maybe the Dark Side was worried that the Jedi SDP will expose the weakness of the PAP clones? That the WP needs the SDP to provide the base for the clones to reach out to the moderate sheep.

http://www.singapolitics.sg/views/sdps-win-win-win-strategy-lose-lose

Sadly, we won’t know if this thesis is correct.

BTW reading these two pieces by two ST ladies, it is reasonable to speculate if ST’s newsroom is now the in-place for S’pore’s airheads, now that SIA has raised the education qualifications for its waitresses in the sky. Not that the ST ladies would have qualified on the looks front. Even Auntie Sylvia looks better. But then she’s now got $15,000 a month pin money to spend on clothes and accessories, like Kate Spade Tin. Happy shopping gals.

—-

*Heard a story that SDP was finding it difficult to choose because both of them want to defer to the other. Smart boys, if story is true. Losing to Ah Lian is bad for the reputation of any smart man.

How to get poor

In Financial competency, Financial planning on 15/01/2013 at 5:30 am

Ways to destroy yr net wealth: Don’t overspend for one thing.

Stagflation here to say: UBS

In Economy on 14/01/2013 at 5:26 am

Well OK, “mini stagflation”, though I’m sure in other countries, the word “mini” would be omitted. But there is the ISA here, while cynical me knows that all investment banks are hungry for biz from Temasek and GIC.

Singapore is experiencing “mini stagflation”, as its inflation is likely to remain high for structural reasons even as growth stays weak this year, said Kelvin Tay, UBS regional chief investment officer, Southern Asia Pacific, at a seminar on Friday.

The restructuring of the economy, shifting from indiscriminate growth to the quality of growth, means lower growth and high inflation. It’s a structural problem, “Singapore is suffering more from structural inflation.” He was speaking at a business outlook forum organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and SPH.

Even though the headline inflation rate may subside, as it did in November on high-base effects (this is a highly technical reason, that doesn’t have real world effects on us consumers), higher labour costs due to tighter foreign labour policies and efforts to boost low-wage workers’ salaries will continue to push prices up. Profit margins will also be squeezed further as businesses (esp SMEs) are forced to invest to raise their productivity.

And he thinks cost increases are likely to be be passed on: not shumething that is likely to please consumers, who are suffering from higher COEs, and property prices, and real wages that are stagnating. PAP govt will not be too happy too with stagflation, as grumbles grow during NatCon.

When Mad Dog meets Tua Kees

In Humour, Political governance on 13/01/2013 at 8:49 am

Or “Chee, Sylvia & Low should resume taking their medicine”

While I don’t agree with everything this TRE piece said about Dr Chee, I must say I agree with, “We wait for Dr Chee’s next move. All this is more entertaining than reality TV, if it were not so tragic.”

I’m wondering if he has stopped taking his “anti-wacko” pills (What say you Drs Ang and Paul?). His behaviour increasingly resembles that of Ravi when he stopped taking his medicine. And I’m someone who thinks SDP should contest Punggol East if Sylvia, Low and the other WP leaders continue their tua kee ways.

For the future development democracy in S’pore, there is a need to prove or disprove the thesis that the SDP is carrying the WP. A three-way or more fight will prove or disprove this thesis in a PAP bastion. The PAP  won by 11 percentage points over the combined WP and SDA share of the voters. Taz a solid majority that is impossible to overturn even in a straight fight. So why not turn it into a test of strength between the Wackos and the PAP clones?

Who can mobilise the hard core anti-PAP votes?

“Happy” responded an anti SDP rant to this republishing on TRE saying, among many other things, “The SDP should garner around 20% of the votes. They too know this. However this is what they would like the WP to know should they not want to compromise. There is actually more for the SDP to gain than the WP should the results turn out as such. 8) The WP will be made to realize the reality that their 40% margins were due to one party fights in most areas. The SDA is not a credible party in the eyes of the people.”

Based on the 2011 presidential election, Happy would seem to have underestimated the hard core anti-PAP vote which ranges from 25-30% (25% that voted for Tan Jee say and 5% for Tan Kin Lian). The “Always PAP” is 35% (they voted for Tony Tan), while the remaining 35% that voted for Dr Tan Cheng Bock are the discerners, “pick and choose”, moderates, “swingers” or people who don’t do religion. It is many in this 35% that the WP are able to persuade to vote for WP.

But these votes are insufficient without the block vote of the hard core ant-PAP voters. The “chop” system ensured that the WP gets this block vote in the areas it contests, even if these voters do not like the WP. They vote WP because they hate the PAP more.

As the PAP is unlikely to lose Punggol East in a straight fight with any opposition party (what with a margin of 11 percentage points over the combined SDA and WP vote), the contest is a good way of showing the WP that it needs the SDP more than the SDP needs the WP. The WP Aljunied MPs want to keep their $15,000 allowances and the life-styles it allows them to lead.  They can do this in the next GE only if they play ball with SDP, according to Happy’s thesis.

And he could be right. In the 2011 presidential election, I’ve been reliably informed, that Tony Tan won 40ish % of votes in the Aljunied area, and TJS came in a close second. Dr Tan was nowhere near. This shows the power of the anti-PAP vote in Aljunied GRC. It also shows the depth of feeling against the PAP: even Dr Tan is haram. What more near-clones like the WP?

Tua Kee WP

So Low, Sylvia and other WP leaders: don’t be tua kee. Be the humble WP pre the Aljunied win. What I find strange about the WP’s arrogance  is that juz after the 2011 GE, when talking to a WP leader (not Low or Sylvia), he was fretting over the loss of the anti-PAP vote, if the SDP decided to play rough. He said the WP needed these votes, while it tried to attract the moderates. Have the WP leaders forgotten to take their “humility” pills, since then?

The WP shouldn’t take the risk that the SDP is right about the votes it can mobilise. If the SDP is wrong, the consequences for the SDP is less devastating than the consequences for the WP if the SDP is right. Whither PritamS’s dreams of being a cabinet minister in a coalition with the PAP?

Cut a deal

The WP should talk to the SDP, offering not to compete in Tanjong Pagar GRC, in return for SDP not contesting Punggol East. Remember

– “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

– “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”. Remember the humblessness displayed by Low, not the arrogance of JBJ and son.

And Dr Chee should start retaking his “I’m a rational man” pills, and double the dosage. Or least pretend to. He may be a coyote, doing crazy things for rational game theory reasons, but public perceptions matter. And to the public, brought up on US cartoons, not the fundamentals of game theory, the coyote is mad. This doesn’t matter to the hard core PAP haters, but it matters to the moderates. I’m one of the moderates but I’m from RI, and I know the basics of game theory. Besides, I got an affection for wackos with balls.

Otherwise SDP and WP, “A plague a’ both your houses!”. No wonder the PAP rules OK.

Related post:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/punggol-east-be-gracious-generous-wp/

——

*RI boys got 65% of the votes in the 2011 PE. It also shows that RI can produce a clown, brawler and gentleman operative, all with brains and balls. Eat yr heart out Saints, and other RI haters and self-haters. RI rules OK. And remember Mad Dog Chee, and Tua Kee Auntie and Low never went to RI. LOL, is all one can do with the antics of these politcans.

Asean round-up

In China, Indonesia, Vietnam on 12/01/2013 at 5:08 pm

Gd news for SE Asia. China has reported better-than-expected trade data, adding to optimism that growth in the world’s second-largest economy may be rebounding.Exports, a key driver of expansion, rose 14.1% in December from a year earlier. Most analysts had forecast a figure closer to 4%.Imports also rose, climbing 6% and indicating stronger domestic demand.

The US has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Indonesia’s restrictions on imports of horticultural and animal products. BBC report. Other agricultural exporters like Australia and Thailand have been unhappy about Indonesia’s restrictions too.

Thailand is considering measures to help companies cope with the country’s rise in the minimum wage (35% up from level of last year), but has rejected business warnings of job losses, factory closures and a shift by some manufacturers to neighbouring countries

Thailand’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.75% on Wednesday, as expected, saying the global economy continued to recover while growth this year could be higher than thought and inflation was stable.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that a credit boom in Cambodia poses a threat to economic growth. Banks have been cutting interest rates to win customers and private sector credit has increased by almost a third in the past 12 months, the fund said.

A $US200m deal with Masan Group by KKR is the largest by a private equity firm so far in Vietnam. It comes in addition to an earlier $159 million investment by KKR. Masan is Vietnam’s leading fish, soya and chilli sauce producer. As well as sauces Masan makes instant foods such as noodles, cereals and coffees. The firm estimates that 90% of local households use its products.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20954875

Japan was in talks with the Philippines on Thursday to enhance maritime co-operation amid their separate territorial rows with China.

“We talked about the challenges that we appear to be facing in view of the assertions being made by China,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters after meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, in Manila.

Part of the co-operation may include 10 new patrol vessels from Japan to boost the Philippine coast guard, as well as communication equipment, Mr Del Rosario said.

ASEAN country of 2012 & 2013

In Uncategorized on 12/01/2013 at 6:06 am

Burma continued along its reform path in 2012, holding elections that returned Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament. The Lady was allowed to travel abroad for the first time in 24 years; Barack Obama became the first American president to visit Burma. But the good news was marred, however, by deadly ethnic rioting between local Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

If the reforms continue, great for the country and investors and bizmen.

Privately owned newspapers are to be allowed in Burma from April 2013 for the first time in almost 50 years, the government announced late last week

Noble Gp: “Cheong all the way” Maybank

In China, Commodities on 11/01/2013 at 5:39 am

But if China doesn’t perform, you’re in trouble.

S’pore Biz Review

It was annced yesterday that China’s commodities imports accelerated in 2012 in volume terms in spite of slowing growth in the overall economy, with crude oil, iron ore and copper reporting record high imports for 2012.

Punggol East: Be gracious, generous WP

In Humour, Political governance on 11/01/2013 at 5:07 am

“For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind,” comes to mind when thinking of WP being challenged by SDP, SDA and KennethJ, for the right to be the sole Opposition candidate to contest Punggol East, against the PAP.

If you go to TRE, there are plenty of calls for Opposition unity; and rightly so. But most of the comments say that the other parties should not challenge the WP’s wish to contest the ward. The argument is that WP has the moral right to contest the PAP by virtue of its 41% share of the vote in the area in GE2011.

Problem is that one could reasonably argue that in 2011, the WP was morally wrong to challenge the SDA’s desire to contest the seat. The SMC was carved out of Pasir Ris- Punggol GRC, an area where the SDA had traditionally contested. So even though technically the WP did not technically urinate on another’s patch, it should have left the seat to the SDA to contest. At the time, there wasn’t too much bitching online on the WP’s stance because, Desmond Lim, the SDA candidate was not a popular man online. He had opposed the much loved Chiam (when Said Lim was in the SPP) for what it was popularly believed personal relations, and so didn’t have much public sympathy, online and offline.

Hence WP’s silence on why it should be rightful Opposition challenger. It is hoisted by its own petard

If the WP has the moral right to contest the seat because of its share of the vote, this means that

– the WP was right to ignore the informal rules of the “chop” game*; and

– accept that might is right. Bullying PAP-style is acceptable.

I hope that the parties can come to a compromise: it’s not as though the seat is marginal.

The PAP won 55% of the votes cast, 11% more than that of SDA and WP combined.

Given that SDA and KennethJ** can’t win, even if either was the sole opposition candidate; the WP has “dirty hands” and five MPs and  one NCMP MIA or AWOL,  (only Auntie and JJ are on the ball in Parly), the SDP should be given the right to challenge the PAP.

Personally if the WP is so generous and gracious, come what may, I’ll vote for JJ and WP in the next GE, even if the WP continues doing-bugger all in Parly. I had planned to be out of S’pore if the PAP fielded Charles Chong in Joo Chiat again.

For the record, I suspect that SDP is putting up its hand for a very tactical reason. It wants to contest Tanjong Pagar GRC at the next GE. It is a neighboor of Holland- Bukit Timah GRC. If the WP were to agree, it would not join the clowns in taking on WP and the PAP. Funny the other members of Clown brigade are AWOL from action: RI boys, Tan Kin Lian and Tan Jee Say, and Goh Meng Seng. Hopefully they realise the folly and futility of being in this brigade, despite the cheap publicity members get.

Back to Dr Chee: only an ACS kid would use such deep thinking in pursuing his aim. Or maybe RI boys, Dr Ang Yong Guan and Dr Paul A, taught him game theory.

————

*Don’t like the “chop” system but it’s here to stay for the time being. It allows the opposition parties to take advantage of the core anti–PAP of between 25-30% of the electorate. They juz have to attract another 21-26% of the vote. Even then history shows how difficult this is.

**He is starting to back-track. Typical Saints Wayang Action man behaviour. Remember Reuben Wang, the Saints who “shoted” an obscenity at  DPM Teo, refused to apologise, then with his testicles around his neck and tail between his legs, he apologised? Yet a Saints rubgy captain and assorted rugby players allege on Facebook he is lying when KennethJ says he attended Saint Andrews school. Interestingly, the Saints rugby players defame KJ behind his back, yet don’t take action to correct his alleged lie. Wonder why? They hate the PAP and the government so much that they will not say anything bad publicly about the Opposition?

S-Reits: “Cheong all the way” says OCBC Sec

In Property, Reits on 10/01/2013 at 7:41 am

Especially industrial Reits ’cause of the 7% yields.

“Looking into 2013, we believe S-REITs would likely retain their shine, underpinned by three key drivers. First, the sector offers the highest yield spreads among its peers in other major markets. Second, S-REITs are likely to be in favour amid the uncertain macroeconomic outlook, given their defensive low beta nature. Lastly, the outlook and financial position of S-REITs are generally positive, which should translate to firm performances going forward.”

S’pore Biz Review

I wouldn’t be a seller, but I sure am not going to add to my exposure to Lippo-M, AIMSAMP or Fraser Commercial, or to buy any other reit. But watching like a hawk to find a reason to sell.

Even PM disagrees with Doc

In Political governance on 09/01/2013 at 6:43 am

No basis to suggest AIM transaction was improper, says Teo Ho

I was planning to blog on the significance of Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s comments on the PAP “volvo” over AIM.

But given that “PM Lee directs MND to fully review AIM transaction”, need I say anything more for the time being? Except that Mayor Doctor Teo Ho Pin has been shown to be a talk cock, sing song artiste, like KennethJ. Isn’t a PAP MP supposed to be better than an Opposition man?

And by directing “MND to take a broad-based approach, including re-examining the fundamental nature of town councils, with a view to ensuring high overall standards of their corporate governance”, PM is also recognising that there is serious public disquiet about Baey Yam Keng’s comments that,“They[town councils]’re not public institutions; they’re not a public service company … “I feel that we may be reading too much into the political association. Because in the first place it’s a political organisation.”

I was planning to blog on this issue given the significance of these words

– They came from an MP who was until recently the head of the regional branch of an int’l leading PR firm: a man who knows the importance of words.

– There are constitutional and governance issues if these words reflect the govt’s thinking on town councils.

But let’s watch and wait for the report.

Note: “And …” was added after first posting.

Don’t waste time reading 2013 forecasts

In Financial competency on 08/01/2013 at 6:01 am

They got most things wrong in the major markets. As you know, events in these markets affect smaller markets.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-04/almost-all-of-wall-street-got-2012-market-calls-wrong.html

These kind of start-ups will never be allowed to take-off here

In Uncategorized on 07/01/2013 at 6:41 am

The central bank will not allow these “financing” and trading biz.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/in-london-nimble-start-ups-offer-alternatives-to-stodgy-banks/?nl=business&emc=edit_dlbkpm_20121026

While I can understand why, their absence means that the banks will continue dominating SME financing, and we get pathetic returns on bank deposits.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2013/01/lending-club

Contrarian view of Fed Policy

In Uncategorized on 07/01/2013 at 5:47 am

Despite the date of these articles (October 2912), they remaibn relevant

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/david-einhorn-continues-his-take-down-of-fed-policy/

Meanwhile Wall St leaders remain gloomy  http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/wall-street-leaders-peer-into-economic-gloom/

Doc, pull the other leg, its got bells on it

In Political governance on 06/01/2013 at 6:13 pm

No basis to suggest AIM transaction was improper, says Teo Ho Pin

There is no basis to suggest that the transaction to provide computer services to the PAP Town Councils by the company, Action Information Management Pte Ltd (AIM), was improper or disadvantageous to the town councils.

Coordinating Chairman of the PAP-run town councils, Dr Teo Ho Pin made this point in his latest rebuttal to comments made by Ms Sylvia Lim, the Chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1245602/1/.html

Really?

If there was “No basis to suggest AIM transaction was improper”, why did the explanation take so long to come out?

First Doc Teo tried to rubbish WP’s comments. When that failed he then tried to throw smoke. Finally, we were given details, sort of. To get info that should have been made available when WP bitched about AIM cancelling the contract, after a long tortuous process, akin pulling a rotten tooth without pain killers, makes one wonder why the delay in giving an explanation that addresses the various issues?

And how come Uncle Leong  (http://leongszehian.com/?p=2449) is able to pick so many “holes” in the statement?

While, I don’t agree with some of his criticisms and comments, his analysis especially his pointed questions and observations make it clear that the latest statement from Doc Teo has not dispelled reasonable concerns about the deal. In particular, while the PAP Town Councils saved $8,120 from selling the TCMS software to AIM, they had to pay AIM an additional $33,150 as “management fees” for the period of November 2011 to April 2013.

So this deal cost the PAP Town Councils $25,030 (33,150- 8120). Doubtless Dr Teo could quibble with this sum as it doesn’t take into account the time-value of money.

Dr. Teo’s and AIM chairman Chandra Das’ earlier statements had suggested that AIM did not financially benefit from this contract. So is this amount being rebated to the PAP town councils?

And the statement does not still answer the following issues:

– As Aljunied GRC seems to be one of the GRCs that paid for the development costs of the software that was transferred to AIM, how come AIM can cancel contract if a GRC moves on to the Jedi (OK, OK, I exaggerate) from the Dark Side of the Men in White? Sure it’s in contract, but is this ethically or morally correct? Didn’t LKY say we are a Confucian society? Ethically behaviour is expected.

– Is the WP being fixed by being deprived of AIM’s services? And what are the implications if there is a change of govt? Will the civil service, armed forces, police and government agencies cancel contracts with the new govt? From what happened with AIM’s contract, sounds reasonable to assume this.

– Can a contract between PAP town councils and a company 100%-owned by former PAP MPs be considered arm’s length? Should it be allowed at all to avoid even the slightest appearance of any potential conflict of interest? (BTW, http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/already-criticized-freeport-deals-raises-questions-of-conflicts/ gives an interesting take on the conflicts of interest in a recent US deal, and how difficult it is for those who are unhappy with it to sue.)

(http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/aim-taz-what-netizens-wp-should-do/)

Is the Doc trying to join the PAP Comedy Club? Founder members are VivianB (tasteless joke about the poor etc), Yacoob (once in 50-years flood happening twice in two months) Tharman and Hng Kiang (COE prices doesn’t matter if not buying car), and the patron is one Christopher Palmer. I’ve blogged on their jokes and routines.

BTW, wonder if lawyers’ advising Alex Au, for free, can count time advising him on the law relating to defamation, against their pro bono quotas?

Seriously I hope Alex Au seeks and gets advice (for free) on how to avoid defaming* PAPpies. They are kinda sensitive people. Worse for Alex (and other bloggers), they got the funds to pay lawyers. And while the PAPpies have been pretty decent, so far, in not asking for costs, they may change their minds on this issue.

At the moment, defaming PAPpies on the internet is cost free. But the PAP has to pay its lawyers.

And the PAPpies, like any other S’porean, deserve respect. Query, and comment their statements and actions. But give them the respect that all of us are entitled to. Calling anyone “corrupt” without reasonable evidence is wrong**.

A teacher in a fee-paying school in England put it this way when explaining why the school introduced a course on how to avoid libel: “We’ve been trying to make them accountable – if you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, if you wouldn’t say it in front of me or your parents, then you don’t say it. I think that’s the key bit that we try to get across to them.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/dec/26/twitter-facebook-school-libel-lessons

Perhaps the Law Soc should start a course for bloggers? Or maybe this is something SDP (the Real Opposition) can do, given that Dr Vincent Wijeysingha has just apologised to Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin for defamatory comments about him in an article on the illegal strike by SMRT bus drivers from China.

———

*While the law on defamation can be very technical, Alex Au’s defamatory statements were in legal terms very elementary, and could have been easily avoided.

**There is a pragmatic reason too. The Opposition in the 1980s and 1990s, made allegations of corruption against the PAP government. Well people like JBJ were sued successfully, and the credibility of the Opposition was damaged badly among the potential “swing” voters. This tactic had been tried and failed. And should not be repeated it unless there is credible evidence of corruption.

Strategy quotes for the PAP

In Political governance on 06/01/2013 at 6:41 am

“Speed, Price, Quality: Pick Two” ACTUALLY, this is shumething all S’poreans must realise.
Anon business adage

“There are two ways to extend a business. Take inventory of what you’re good at and extend out from your skills. Or determine what your customers need and work backward, even if it requires learning new skills.”
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon (1964–)

“One gets paid only for strengths; one does not get paid for weaknesses. The question, therefore, is first: What are our specific strengths? And then: Are they the right strengths? Are they the strengths that fit the opportunities of tomorrow, or are they the strengths that fitted those of yesterday? Are we deploying our strengths where the opportunities no longer are, or perhaps never were? And finally, what additional strengths do we have to acquire?”
Peter Drucker, management writer (1909–2005), Managing in Turbulent Times (1980)

“There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.”
Henry Ford, industrialist (1863–1947)

“People don’t want quarter-inch drills. They want quarter inch holes.”

Theodore Levitt, academic (1925–2006), Thinking in Management (1983)

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/10/z-business-quotations-1

Importance of painful memories

In Uncategorized on 05/01/2013 at 2:45 pm

“…Gazing from the darkness of the panelled wall like life, the sedate face in the portrait, with the beard and ruff, looked down at them from under its verdant wreath of holly, as they looked up at it; and, clear and plain below, as if a voice had uttered them, were the words: Lord keep my Memory green”

 Dickens’s message in The Haunted Man is that painful memories help us respond and grow as people.

(Matthew Davis who read and blogged on Dickens in 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-1639151)

Embrace yr painful memories of 2012 and previous years: don’t repress them.

Vietnam: Game changer in coffee

In Commodities, Vietnam on 05/01/2013 at 11:39 am

Starbucks, the world’s biggest coffee-shop company, will  ope nits first store in Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City next month.

But this is the more interesting bit: We know coffee is a national pride for many Vietnamese and as such, we look forward to contributing and growing Vietnam’s already vibrant coffee industry. As we continue to source more Vietnamese high-quality, arabica coffee we want to leverage our scale to bring the best of Vietnam’s coffee traditions to the rest of the world … Starbucks already purchases a notable amount of some of the highest-quality arabica coffee from Vietnam and is committed to sourcing more arabica coffee from the Vietnam region over the long-term. Starbucks will continue to promote responsible business practices and production standards within its existing and prospective supply chains and will work closely with local coffee farming communities to elevate the quality of arabica coffee and introduce customers globally to the rich Vietnamese coffee heritage. 

The will work closely with local coffee farming communities is a standard Starbucks promise. But given that according to the FT, “Vietnam is the world’s second largest producer of coffee beans after Brazil, any contribution Starbucks might make to improve quality and standards there could have a disproportionate impact.” Most of Vietnam’s production is robusta, a lower grade (and cheaper), arabica which is the coffee of choice round the world.

Again, no Asean round-up this week.

Hope this happens here

In Uncategorized on 04/01/2013 at 9:20 am
With smartphone and other technologies making it easier to spontaneously chose between many different forms of urban transport, people no longer automatically associate mobility with owning a car … In London, 40% of households do not own a car, according to a 2012 report by Transport for London …

The decline in car ownership is particularly evident in the capital’s fall in multi-car households, which dropped from 21% in 2001 to 17% in 2007.

Instead of the traditional focus on cars and driving, people are mixing and matching their transport choices – using what they need when they need it – and the radical advances in technology are making such “smart mobility” possible.

Mobile apps can make travelling by different modes of transport seamless. It is now easy to combine air, rail and car travel in new ways to reach a destination.

Londoners can access Boris bikes, the Tube, rail networks, taxis, car sharing schemes, car rental and even hire practical vans for visits to B&Q – all via their smartphones. 

Bringing online stuff to offline people

In Internet, Media on 04/01/2013 at 5:22 am

Ravi the do-gooder, NSP member and ex-TOC Indian Chief wrote on FB juz before the hols: If  ST* feels that online voices are not representative of the majority, then they should just ‘unfriend’ some of these ‘voices’, and spend the time tracking what’s happening online, in the field, listening to the voice of the majority. I have had reporters from the mainstream media asking me for leads for stories. Leads which are not difficult to find (some of which you can find when you just google for it). The fact is, the voices online have made the jobs of the mainstream media journalists easier, to crowdsource ideas, and to get leads. So appreciate the ‘barking dogs’ will you?

Ravi should relax. The Commanches and other injuns, and cowboys own the internet. The PAPpies are under siege in internet equivalent of Fort Apache and the YPAP trolls only venture out under the cover of darkness and anonymity. If they venture out in the light, they will be wiped out juz as Custer’s men were wiped out by the Sioux and Cheyenne at the battle of Little Big Horn.

The challenge for social or political activists is bringing the material available online to the people who don’t go online often or at all. The ST article is aimed at these people, not netizens. The message to these offliners is, “Netizens are bad, lawless people: barbarians bent on destroying S’pore. Only the constructive, nation-building media, especially ST, and the PAP stand between a prosperous S’pore and them.”

Pushing online material into physical S’pore is something a political party can do effectively. Example: During the 2008 M’sian general election campaign, the Opposition were photocopying copes of M’siakini etc stuff and distributing it to the voters even in rural areas. I have been told they even SMSed articles. Though the mind boggles as how such stuff is SMSed.

I hope the NSP will put Ravi in a position where he can try out such ideas. But given the power balance in NSP, I doubt it very much. But that’s for another post

Thanks to Uncle Leong, we netizens know that the PAP’s latest statement on AIM is “[f]ull of holes”. Problem is: Do the offliners who rely on the local media know of Uncle Leong’s analysis? (BTW, he RI boy. So don’t see us RI boys no ak. Not all of us are Tan Kin Lian or Tan Jee Say.)

Bringing goodies such as Uncle Leong’s piece to the masses is the challenge, not fighting the PAP and the local media on the internet. We own the internet.

——–

*A piece by an ST editor attacking netizens. It appeared the  Saturday before Christmas. Gd riposte here.

Links

http://www.voiddecker.com/2012/12/vox-populi-and-the-vocal-online-community/

http://leongszehian.com/?p=2449

Investment advice for 2013

In Financial competency on 03/01/2013 at 5:05 am

The old adages about investment – run profits, cut losses, keep costs down, reinvest dividends, stay invested – survive for a reason. They have been proven right, year in, year out.

Stay invested, or increase exposure, in equities esp in stocks that consistently payout good dividends.

Think about investing in Jappo equities, and soft commodities’ plays (Olam?). Olam’s debt looks tempting.

Update: Interesting point. Richard Bookstaber once attributed the evolutionary success of the cockroach to coarse decision rules: it ignores most of the information around it and responds only to simple signals. Investors do something similar when confronted with hopeless complexity. They boil it down to a binary question: disaster/no disaster. Then they ignore all the idiosyncratic inputs and ask: what does experience suggest the probability of disaster is?

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/01/markets-and-cliff

SPH, MediaCorp newsrooms should be like this?

In Humour, Media on 02/01/2013 at 1:37 pm

We saw the most surreal newsroom … There were no journalists there. “Why not?” we asked. “We don’t need them yet. The news hasn’t arrived.”

We learnt the news is literally delivered once a day by the state news agency. The job of the journalists was to read it out, word for word, unaltered.

BBC story

And the govt is wondering why productivity is so low? It’s not the SMEs with their poorly paid FTs. It’s the constructive, nation-building local media with highly paid copyists of govt media release.

 

AIM: Taz what netizens & WP should do

In Political governance on 01/01/2013 at 6:06 pm

– Don’t any how fire & volvo

The PAP,made flesh in Dr Teo Ho Pin, and the constructive, nation-building media are “throwing smoke”, trying to confuse S’poreans on the issues around AIM.

The sad thing is all the noise about AIM being a $2 co, or not having the expertise etc that is coming from many of us  “cowboys”, is distracting S’poreans from the four issues that matter:

– As Aljunied GRC seems to be one of the GRCs that paid for the development costs of the software that was transferred to AIM, how come AIM can cancel contract if a GRC moves on to the Jedi (OK, OK, I exaggerate) from the Dark Side of the Men in White? Sure it’s in contract, but is this ethically or morally correct? Didn’t LKY say we are a Confucian society? Ethically behaviour is expected.

– Is the WP being fixed by being deprived of AIM’s services? And what are the implications if there is a change of govt? Will the civil service, armed forces, police and government agencies cancel contracts with the new govt? From what happened with AIM’s contract, sounds reasonable to assume this.

– What is the service level agreement (SLA) in the leasing? This includes questions such as what levels of help desk and technical support, how many staff will be providing support, or is AIM outsourcing the support to another company?

[Update: Straits Times reported today that service was 'outsourced' from AIM back to NCS, and the TCs must know this intention when awarding the contract. So the questions are why would they allow that having terminated NCS's services themselves, and what value does AIM add as the middleman. They have to come clean or face accusations of some sort of 'round-tripping'.]

– Can a contract between PAP town councils and a company 100%-owned by former PAP MPs be considered arm’s length? Should it be allowed at all to avoid even the slightest appearance of any potential conflict of interest?

The points in Italics are from Void Decker who has a great piece on this matter: he is on target.

The WP never made allegations about whether AIM was a $2 co or its competency. It tried to focus (in its unfocused, dysfunctional way*), I think, on the first  two issues that shld concern us.

Sadly netizens are not focusing on the substantive issues. Partly it’s because of the hols and because CNY is coming in February.

But the WP is at fault too: its public communications team is a clone of that of Team PAP. Maybe Team Wayang Wankers should ask help from the real Opposition: Team SDP; Ravi the do-gooder (even if he from NSP); TOC (even if it’s undergoing editor change again*); or TRE. Or even TJS.

These are people who know how to communicate effectively with the public. BTW, only KennethJ*** is worse at communicating with the public than Team PAP and the Wayang Wankers.

“Target 50m ahead. At own time and pace, open fire. Make every shot count. Beng Pek mah?

——————-

*Show Mao is not pulling his weight, not being allowed to, or maybe he not that savvy? Will explore this later in yr, in “The AWOL, MIA of Show Mao”. Maybe Low and Sylvia were playing bait and switch, like investment bankers, and time-sharing salesmen?

As to the other two lawyers in Team Wankers Wayang, Sylvia got only so-so NUS law degree while PritamS got his from a crappy place, SMU Law School.

**New chief editor soon. It will by then have run through two Indian chiefs (they are actually Tamils, not Native Americans, or Aryans) in less than 11 months. Then there is the disappearance from TOC’s establishment, in 2011, of two ex-WP cadres and activists, Goh Meng Seng**** (Head of the Chinese Section) and Eric Tan (Managing Editor and then investigative editor). AWOL, MIA, or posts abolished: who knows?

But one of the co-founders is still active in editorially. So there is continuity.

****But then he speak in ang moh accent, don’t know the Pledge and was from Saint Andrews: the school where boys have two rugby props on each of their of shoulders. But despite having cips on his shoulders, a Saints rugby captain says on Facebook that KennethJ is not a Saints. More on this later in the year.

****Also ex-NSP member. Anything else he was member of?

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