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Archive for the ‘Infrastructure’ Category

Asean travellers, KS, security conscious? Use Changi Int’l

In Airlines, Humour, Infrastructure on 15/03/2014 at 6:59 am

Home Team’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority has been in the sights of DPM Teo and netizens (a rare distinction: err where’s the co-driver?) for a series of recent balls-up. So the tragic disappearance of a MAS plane gave its PR team an opportunity to blow its trumpet, (justifiably, no BS or hype)

Visitor passports presented to immigration officers at Singapore checkpoints are screened against Interpol’s database of lost or stolen travel documents, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Tuesday.

And if a passport is one of more than 40 million on Interpol’s list, the officer is automatically alerted and the traveller pulled aside for further checks.

This procedure has been in place since May 2008, an ICA spokesman told The Straits Times.

He did not elaborate on how the system works, but security experts said that this verification typically takes just a few seconds.

But despite the fact that checks are quick, Singapore remains one of only a few countries that use Interpol’s database to ensure border security, experts noted. (Wed ST)

EDB, and the tourism board should be following this up with a regional advertising campaign:

“Taking a flight of more than an hr? Transit via S’pore: all passports are checked against Interpol’s database of lost or stolen passports. Does yr airport do this? Or are they like KL?”

BTW, a gd riposte to the M’sian Home Affairs minister’s comments

“I am still perturbed. Can’t these immigration officials think? Italian and Austrian (passport holders) but with Asian faces,” he was quoted as saying late on Sunday.,

would be for immigration officers will say that they use to seeing Chinese and Indian faces on MALAYsian passports. So no issues about seeing Asian faces on European passports.

Seriously comment shows he has prejudices, hangups or is still living in the mid 20th century.

SMRT: only now meh?

In Infrastructure on 04/03/2014 at 4:55 am

I’ve only recovered from this piece of news on SMRT: on 16th Feb it was reported that “Singapore’s two train operators will adopt a “predict and prevent” approach to their maintenance regimes from now on.

‘Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said … this new approach will see operators actively monitoring the condition of the rail system to prevent breakdowns and delays.”* Seems they were using a find and fix” approach. Easiest way to “find” problems is sit back, drink kopi and wait for news of train delays, breakdowns?

Maybe taz why a CEO who is a scholar and ex-SAF chief is needed, not a Ferrari-driving FT retailer? Horses for courses?

Anyway now that SMRT is adopting state-of-the-art, cutting edge management techniques, time to buy stock? Stock set a new 52-week low during yesterday’s trading session when it touched 1.02. 36.7% down from a 52 weeks ago. That it yields 1.95% is a reflection that the price has collapsed.

DBS wrote this in 2012: SMRT has a dividend payout policy of at least 60% of net profit. In fact, in the past few years, it has paid over 70%, hence providing a reasonable yield.

ComfortDelGro, on the other hand, has paid only 50%of earnings as dividends. – See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/transport-logistics/markets-investing/smrt%E2%80%99s-dividends-risky-in-2012-dbs#sthash.k1ywpunr.dpuf

(Comfort yields 3.63%)

Surely after GE (next yr after August,  is my prediction), fares will be increased? Time to buy and wait now that mgt is better?

60% dividend policy. SMRT has a dividend payout policy of at least 60% of net profit. In fact, in the past few years, it has paid over 70%, hence providing a reasonable yield.
ComfortDelGro, on the other hand, has paid only 50%of earnings as dividends. – See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/transport-logistics/markets-investing/smrt%E2%80%99s-dividends-risky-in-2012-dbs#sthash.k1ywpunr.dpuf
60% dividend policy. SMRT has a dividend payout policy of at least 60% of net profit. In fact, in the past few years, it has paid over 70%, hence providing a reasonable yield.
ComfortDelGro, on the other hand, has paid only 50%of earnings as dividends. – See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/transport-logistics/markets-investing/smrt%E2%80%99s-dividends-risky-in-2012-dbs#sthash.k1ywpunr.dpuf

But then think again as NOL is run by another general and scholar and NOL recently lost serious money. Here’s analysis from last yr after an earlier set of results http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/scholar-cant-repair-nol-maersk-steams-ahead/

——-

*Mr Lui was responding to questions from Members of Parliament on the reliability of train services, in the wake of several disruptions last month, including a delay on the North-South Line that affected some 19,000 peak-hour commuters.

So far, operators SMRT and SBS Transit have been using the “find and fix” approach to correct existing issues with their rail systems.

Mr Lui said he had called up SMRT’s senior management to convey his concerns after the recent spate of incidents.

He said: “They take it seriously, and as the CEO told me himself… the team was actually very disappointed themselves with the series of incidents, as well as with how the staff on the ground had handled it.”

SMRT will be reviewing its contingency plans on a station-by-station basis to better support its ground staff, rather than rely on a generic plan that covers stretches of the network.

Mr Lui said: “SMRT’s management has already committed to review its contingency plans on a station-by-station basis, and refine its command and control structure in times of disruption to better support ground staff.”

Both SMRT and SBS Transit have also switched to a “predict and prevent” strategy for their maintenance regimes.

For instance, some trains on the North-South and East-West lines are already equipped to collect real-time data and detect problems as they run.

Several MPs had asked why train disruptions continue despite efforts in recent years to improve the train services.

Mr Lui said: “Service disruptions do happen from time to time, especially as our rail network further expands and ages, and as we run more and more train trips.

“But in the case of the January incidents, SMRT could have done much better in service recovery, especially to provide timely information to affected commuters.”

Both train operators, however, have put in hard work to improve train reliability since 2011, Mr Lui added.

Government estimates showed that SMRT has increased its yearly repair and maintenance expenses by over 65 per cent from S$38.3 million in 2011 to S$64.6 million last year.

Both train operators have also hired more engineers and expanded their maintenance teams.

The Land Transport Authority is also upgrading the rail infrastructure.

The North-South, East-West lines’ third rail system will undergo a full, system-wide change-out this year, Mr Lui said, and the North-East Line’s overhead power system will also be improved with new corrosion-resistant materials to minimise cracking in its components.

In a separate statement, SMRT said it takes responsibility for the recent incidents, and will leave no stone unturned to improve the reliability of its train services. (CNA report)

SMRT: Update

In Infrastructure on 06/02/2014 at 4:38 am

.There could be a rights issue coming to shore up its finances. But to call it, it must be pretty sure of profits for dividends somewhere down the line. Massive train price increase after 2015 GE?  Don’t see PAP losing power or even losing a two-thirds majority. Or even PritamS becoming a cabinet minister in a PAP, WP coalition govt.

But remember the CEO is an ex-SAF chief, juz like in that dog with fleas, NOL :http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/scholar-cant-repair-nol-maersk-steams-ahead/

Good article on SMRT by someone whom I don’t usually think highly of: http://www.baldingsworld.com/2014/01/29/why-is-smrt-raising-fares/

This video has been making the rounds on Facebook: During a 45 train delay, SMRT begs passengers on board repeatedly for a pair of scissors

Taz why PTC raised fares. After paying Kwek and his SAF buddies, got no $ for proper tool box? LOL

Gd reports

– SBS (ComfortDelgro)  benefits more than SMRT from price hike

http://sbr.com.sg/transport-logistics/news/chart-day-these-charts-show-how-transport-firms-will-be-impacted-fare-hike

– Sports Hub to make $ for SMRT

http://sbr.com.sg/transport-logistics/news/singapore-sports-hub-could-turn-around-souring-smrt-profits

 

“Why Government Should Not Be Run Like A Business”

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 05/02/2014 at 4:29 am

The above article from Forbes has been making the rounds on Facebook following the public tpt fare increase. Meanwhile, the WP is now saying, “The WP believes that public transport should be provided as a public good and not for profit”*

The Forbes piece explicitly says, while the WP’s motherhood statement implies, that if only public services are run sans the profit motive, everything will be fine. Profit is the evil. In its place, would be a serious of targets that would in PR jargon “enhance the users’ experience”.

It follows that the guiding principle of target setting should be an analysis of function—ie, what something does, not what it is.

Sounds good but as usual the devil is in the details: here the devils (legions of them) are in the the targets set.

The flaws in setting targets in public services have long been apparent. The single-minded pursuit of them in the NHS has contributed to some of the scandals in treating patients. Hospitals became so fixated on meeting national targets that they lost sight of their overriding responsibility to look after the people they were treating and to make them better.

Now the London Underground offers another example of the perverse effects of targets, especially when they are pursued in a simple-minded way. Green Park is one of the busiest tube stations in London. It has three escalators to the station concourse from the Piccadilly line, which serves not just London commuters but international businessmen and tourists travelling to and from Heathrow. Yet routinely one is closed at peak times.

The reason? According to station staff Green Park has been set energy targets and this is the way that it is meeting them.

What folly. Whether or not this is intended by the top brass at Transport for London is unclear. But this is what happens when stupid objectives are set and managers are either pressured into meeting them come what may or follow them without paying heed to their primary responsibility, which in the case of a tube station is to convey passengers as swiftly and as safely as possible to and from the trains. (http://www.economist.com/blogs/blighty/2014/01/trouble-targets)**

Another problem with the attitude articulated in the article and the WP’s motherhood statement is that they are quiet about the danger of “capture” of public services by the people working in the public sector.

As a student in London in the late 70s, I saw this capture at first hand. The London public tpt system and the state-owned British Airways were run for the convenience among other nationalised industries)ce and benefit of the employees (managers, executives and workers) not the commuting public.

The real issue when discussing the improvement of public services is finding ways to quantity the “public good”, something which Bloomberg tried hard to do when he was mayor of NY City. Bloomberg who recently finished two terms as NY city’s major, leaving office with a reputation as one of the best mayors the city has ever had, has said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

He used data to do boring things well—an undervalued virtue. His analytics team pools data from different agencies to inform decisions. For instance, it tracked complaints from 311 calls, a municipal hotline, and linked them with information about such things as tax irregularities to pinpoint illegal building conversions, which are fire hazards, quickly and fairly accurately. Mr Bloomberg listened to ideas if his staff had supporting evidence. (Economist)

(http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/culture-ministry-morphs-into-quant-ministry/)

Even the mystic and poet Blake who portrayed in his poetry Issac Newton, the scientist who discovered the maths behind the universe, to an evil god wrote, “Generalisation and abstraction are The plea of the hypocrite, scoundrel, and knave.”

The profit motive, while not perfect, and often misused (to benefit mgt, and shareholders) at least forces measurable quantification. It’s all about quantification as Bloomberg said. Note that his successor during the election campaign talked of ditching quantification. He was supported by the public services unions.

Of course quantification can go wrong like in our Arts ministry and the Vietnam War, http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/culture-ministry-morphs-into-quant-ministry/

*This is not the nationalisation it once called for. In its election manifesto, WP called for public tpt nationalisation, something Low reaffirmed after the Punggol East victory. Now, it says “public transport should be provided as a public good and not for profit”. In its manifesto for GE 2011 it said,

  1. Instead of public transport being provided by profit-oriented companies, all public transport including the MRT & public buses servicing major routes should be brought under a National Transport Corporation, a public body, to ensure a smooth integration of the overall national transport network and to avoid unnecessary duplication of services and overheads incurred by multiple operators.
  2. The Public Transport Council should be dissolved. Government accountability for public transport matters should be via a unit under the Land Transport Authority. This unit should receive feedback, audit services, review productivity and examine the need for fare adjustments.

**BTW, maybe someone in SMRT reads me? Further to this where I promised to report if the escalator at Eunos stn is working, last Wednesday when I was there, it was functioning.

Another reason why SMRT sucks

In Infrastructure on 27/01/2014 at 4:27 am

Last Monday, I made one of my irregular trips on the MRT. I entered Eunos Stn in the late morning and one of the escaltors was closed “for maintenance”. I returned home via another route partly to avoid walking down the stairs on the return journey

Last Friday, I again took the MRT from Eunos Stn. Guess what? The escalator was still closed for “for maintenance”. When I made the return trip (wanted to eat at a great but expensive Malay food stall at Eunos Hawkers’ centre: stall always asking why I don’t eat more regularly and I explain to them I don’t use the MRT that often), several hours later, the escalator was still not working.

Err how to expect train services not to be disrupted (five already this yr according to TRE*) if cannot even repair or service escalator within five days? But to be fair, maybe engineers too busy repairing tracks etc to bother about escalator. Got to prioritise everything, according to jnr tpt minister Jos Teo.

I will have to again use the MRT from Eunos this Wednesday and then the following Monday (yah lot of travelling these few weeks: pushing my luck leh), and I’ll keep readers informed.

Meanwhile, avoid the stock. It’s going to take huge fare rises to make it a gd dividend yielding stock again because it needs to spend more, a lot more to get (and then keep) the trains running on time. With an election likely in 2015, these fare increases are unlikely http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/why-a-2015-ge-is-now-more-probable/

Meanwhile, I wish MRT users a disruption free day, though the odds are rising against this probability.

Thinking about it, SMRT may have closed one of the Eunos escalators to save money as per this story about the London MRT (tube) system.

Green Park is one of the busiest tube stations in London. It has three escalators to the station concourse from the Piccadilly line, which serves not just London commuters but international businessmen and tourists travelling to and from Heathrow. Yet routinely one is closed at peak times.

The reason? According to station staff Green Park has been set energy targets and this is the way that it is meeting them.

So, in order to meet this energy-saving goal, the London Underground is prepared to cause unnecessary delays to passengers, even though time-saving for passengers is always a crucial element in any evaluation of a transport project. It is also prepared to create potential dangers to public safety as bunching occurs while people wait for the only up escalator that is operating. And as that happens another escalator stands idle, with the big investment that has been made in it in effect written off.

What folly. Whether or not this is intended by the top brass at Transport for London is unclear. But this is what happens when stupid objectives are set and managers are either pressured into meeting them come what may or follow them without paying heed to their primary responsibility, which in the case of a tube station is to convey passengers as swiftly and as safely as possible to and from the trains. (http://www.economist.com/blogs/blighty/2014/01/trouble-targets)

Hmm, thinking about it, the setting of stupid objectives, and why the absence of the profit-motive when providing public services (like transport) is not a gd idea, may be the subject of posts after the CNY hols. Must try to stop writing about ang moh tua kee Bernice Wong and her masculine, not sheltered, babyed & childish (so unlike local boyars) hubbie, Anton Casey.

*Or is it four http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/01/26/smrt-5th-smrt-breakdown-not-a-breakdown/ (Updated one hour after first publication)

Jos double confirms that govt doesn’t plan for S’poreans

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 17/01/2014 at 4:44 am

A TOC reader highlighted this bit of ST’s interview with Talk Cock Queen Jos http://www.singapolitics.sg/supperclub/josephine-teo-%E2%80%98free-mrt-rides-has-allowed-lifestyle-change%E2%80%99

Q: You lead the committee for Changi Airport’s expansion. Is it expanding fast enough? Our aviation correspondent said given the projections, Changi Airport could be operating at more than 90 per cent capacity (in the few years before Terminal 5 opens).

A:We’re still building ahead of demand. When you plan airport handling capacity, you also plan with a service standard in mind.>

The person then commented: “Apparently, there’s no need to build ahead of demand for housing, local tpt & medical needs (remember the hospital crunch) OR is it NEW PAP don’t plan with a service standard in mind> when it comes to population needs?”

For the record, I had blogged in 2012  about the lack of planning when it came to immigration

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/integrating-fts-its-our-problem-now-contd/

and in 2011 on the difference between the difference approaches taken as regards the airport and public tpt http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/why-are-trains-overcrowded-but-not-the-port-or-airport/

PM should give her another tight slap for spilling for double confirming that PAP thinks we are “second class”, not “first class” like foreigners even though 60-70% of S’porean voters support the PAP.

Taz in addition to insulting his dad.

BTW, I hope readers noticed that LTA gave her (its boss, remember she senior jnr transport minister) a hard kick in her behind. In the above link, I said she refused to concede that inadequate signage contributed to the congestion on the MCE (and bad PR for the govt). Yesterday it was reported: “Two weeks after the opening of the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday acknowledged it could have done more in terms of pre-publicity and putting up more signs to get motorists familiar with the new expressway and the surrounding road network.” (Today)

Hey PM, even her subordinates getting annoyed with this NUT NTUC person?

Maybe she could serve S’pore (and the PAP)  better by having a fourth child? She had said if she hadn’t entered politics, she’d have a fourth child. One more baby, one less FT.

Tpt minister looks after shareholders, the poor and the disabled?

In Infrastructure, Public Administration on 15/01/2014 at 4:27 am

What about other disadvantaged S’poreans?

The Public Transport Council (PTC) will release its decision on raising fare adjustments for public transport tomorrow and a reasonable person would conclude that fares will go up based on what Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew wrote  on a Facebook post on Monday.

“I told (PTC chairman Gerard Ee) that the government was ready with our package for the low-income workers and persons with disabilities and that we would like to announce this together on Thursday. These two concession schemes will be fully funded by the government,” wrote Mr Lui, stressing that the schemes would make transport fares much more affordable for both groups.

Isn’t he telling the PTO, pls feel free to help out the tpt companies (and their shareholders*) because the govt (us tax-payers, including said poor and disabled: remember that they too pay GST) will absorb the increases for said groups.

Mr Lui also said that the discount under the scheme for low-income workers would lower their fares to around the same levels as 10-15 years ago, depending on the journey. Meanwhile, the discount for those with disabilities will be “even more significant”.

Hey what about retirees and those who never got pay rises?

BTW, the WP’s silence on nationalisation is deafening, even though WP Low told us last yr that WP still believes in it. I have my doubts  http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/wp-changes-mind-on-nationalising-smrt-sbs/

Backgrounder: In December, transport operators SBS Transit (SBST) and SMRT applied to the PTC to raise bus and rail fares this year, with SBS – Singapore’s biggest bus operator – citing cost pressures.

—–

*Some shareholders do get a free lunch:despite claims by scholar and ex-general running SMRT that its biz model is broken:

Using back-of-the envelope calculations and figures in annual reports, since it was listed SMRT (over a decade ago) has paid S$562.79m in dividends to Temasek, and ComfortDelgro has paid the S’pore Labour Foundation (a statutory board affiliated to the NTUC) dividends of  S$150.46m*since 2003 (Comfort and Delgro merged in 2003, and SLF had a stake in Comfort). The amount that ended up with the government was S$713.25m, with SMRT contributing 79%. But ComfortDelgro is likely be the main beneficiary of the S$1.1bn bus plan**, given that, at present, SBS Transit (a listed co 75% owned by ComfortDelgro) provides most of the buses. Taz an example of how messed up things are.

The funds’ flows also show that the government is putting back all the dividends it received from these two companies and then adding 35% more. So it’s wrong to say that the SMRT and ComfortDelgro are getting free lunches. At most the government is subsidising their lunches by 35%.

The government should get credit for ploughing its share of the “loot” (as the proponents of nationalisation would put it and MPs Puthu, PAP, and PritamS, WP, might put it), but it doesn’t. Taz how messed up are.

(Incidentally, one could reasonably argue that the other shareholders — and the minority shareholders of SBS Transit, remember ComfortDelgro owns around 75% – are getting a free lunch while the government returns its share of the dividends. But let’s nt get into that today.)

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/oh-what-a-tangled-web-we-weave-mrt-comfortdelgro-and-the-government/

Small wonder that foreigners snapped up ComfortDelgro at gd discount last year though tapering caused some wobbles http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/when-raising-fares-sbs-smrt-govt-dont-have-this-problem/. Now above price bot. in.

.

Jos keeps on talking cock

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 14/01/2014 at 4:52 am

“We cannot have the attitude that everything will be perfect from Day One. If we go in with that attitude, it can only mean that we have to build in a lot of redundancy.” - Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State for Transport.

As someone who once upon a time reported directly to people who reported directly to LKY and Dr Goh, I can safely say that they all expected things to be perfect from Day 1. So now Ms Teo implying  that because of their exacting standards, they were encouraging inefficiencies and wastefulness?

Even before he is dead, LKY gets slimed? Son should give Jos a tight slap to show his filial piety this CNY. Co-driver too busy looking at bank statements and feeling happy.

Seriously, the govt should stop giving excuses for a simple cock-up: it should simply admit that it was an honest mistake by civil servants who didn’t drive because they couldn’t afford the COEs. Insufficient signs were put up as I explained here and this was a major source of the problem.

(Pic from TRE)

Waz interesting is that even now she refuses to concede that there were insufficient signs:

Q: After the jam, more signs and advertisements on the routes came up. Why not earlier?

I once got a speeding ticket (in Singapore) and was adamant there was no signage (for speed limit). I had driven on this road umpteen times. I thought: “Never mind. Tomorrow I’ll pay attention.” True enough, I saw the sign. Sometimes we don’t notice (the signs) because we don’t need them.

You can always have more (signs and advertisements). But you have to be interested.(http://www.singapolitics.sg/supperclub/josephine-teo-%E2%80%98free-mrt-rides-has-allowed-lifestyle-change%E2%80%99)

Here’s a great comment from TOC’s facebook in response to her remarks about redundancy:

Tremendous time/effort would be incurred when trying to rectify a flawed design/system. Doing it right the first time is critical. A good design is the result of thorough research/ consultation/ brainstorming and that will ensure the success of the project. eg. years ago, woody goh said handicap people should stay away from travelling for safety reason, now we have to retrofit busses/MRT stations for wheel chair access. same for HDB flat, now installing lifts on every floor and the whole project takes decades to complete, what if the HDB architechs had done that in the first place? zero effort for wheel chair access! Our MRT trains adopted designed with 6 carriages while HK MTR already up and running and uses 8 carriages. We could have learnt from HK, instead, we choose ONLY 6 carriages. Now we are flooded with immigrants over crowding the transport system but we are handicapped in increasing the MRT stations capacity by using 8 carriages and must go for the stupid solution of changing the signaling system to cut down only 20 sec peak frequency. using tens of millions and takes 5 years or more to do it. Now who is the stupid one? which way is more cost effective?

BTW, notice that NTUC MPs were, are a bunch of cocks (the exception is Halimah). Think Jos, Lims ( Cheap Zorro, Cry Baby), Hard of hearing Han, Irene the Whiner, Choo the criminal and racist, BG Yeo’s MP from Hell (Cynthia) and NMP Terry Lee.

Related posts:

Jos: Talk Cock Queen

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

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/reputations-be-mean-laugh/

Jos: Empress Dowager of Bishan East

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/thanks-jos-for-giving-nishan-east-residents-another-reason-not-to-support-the-pap/

Govt’s mistakes, S’poreans blamed

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 10/01/2014 at 4:42 am

Twice in three days, S’poreans get blamed by the PAP for govt mistakes.

The traffic snarls on the Marina Coastal Expressway’s (MCE) first day of operations occurred as motorists were unfamiliar with the newly opened highway, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew. (MediaCorp 7th January)

I see this this as Lui shifting the blame to motorists using the MCE for the initial congestion problems on the MCE for what a user (at 11 am on the Monday day, so he had plenty of time to observe his surroundings) told me was a failure by tpt officials: “There is only one sign indicating the first exit into the city. One would have tot that based on the signage used on other expressways, there would be signs saying ‘Exit to X, 100m’ etc at regular intervals.” As the media reports a lot more signage going up since I heard this comment, I assume this problem has been fixed. And that this is the source of the problem.

If additional signage was required, then it wasn’t only the fault of daft S’poreans, was it minister?

Then there is the problem of a shortage of hospital beds. Dr Chia Shi Lu, who is a MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, said the shortage of hospital beds is “due to holiday season”, effectively saying that it’s the fault of S’poreans who rather not be discharged.

The facts? From a medical professor albeit a SDP member:

– This is a perennial problem and unfortunately is a result of funding policies which are very hospital-centric. It has become something that doctors in the public sector have become accustomed to

“In my opinion, the obvious reason for the beds’ crunch, may to the best of my knowledge, has never been highlighted in the media – that the total number of hospital beds in Singapore has seen zero increase over at least the last 12 years or so, despite an increase in the population by more than 1 million.”  http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/01/interview-with-dr-paul-on-the-bed-crunch-issue-in-public-hospitals/

And Uncle Leong has been beating the drum of a shortage of hospital beds for several yrs: “In my opinion, the obvious reason for the beds’ crunch, may to the best of my knowledge, has never been highlighted in the media – that the total number of hospital beds in Singapore has seen zero increase over at least the last 12 years or so, despite an increase in the population by more than 1 million.” (This quote appeared very recently)

Looks like among the PAP’s new yr resolutions, there isn’t one one changing the Hard Truth, “The PAP is never wrong. It’s always the fault of daft S’poreans”. Seriously, it’s so typical of the PAP: blame S’poreans for an thing that could imply that the PAP govt is less than perfect. What next? PM blaming S’poreans* for the recent riot?

And this comes from me, who after the MCE operated smoothly after the addition of a few signs sent an email entitled: “Can’t help thinking of you guys )))” to a few of the usual “PAP are bastards” paper activists who had been yelling their heads over MCE, attaching this from TRE:http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/01/04/bang-balls-to-tre-whiners-mce-traffic-is-smooth-now/

*Actually he can, the driver of the bus that killed the migrant worker was “a S’porea resident”. He could be a PR from M’sia though. Name definitely not PRC name.

 

When S’pore has 8m people and counting

In Infrastructure on 04/01/2014 at 4:58 am

An unofficial map of how the MRT system will look like when fully developed

http://transitmaps.tumblr.com/post/68121163229/singapore-bernie-ng

 

Infocomm Dysfunctional Authority

In Infrastructure, Internet, Public Administration on 22/11/2013 at 5:01 am

Yaacob the Info minister wrote on Facebook a few days ago that many agencies have worked hard in the past weeks to strengthen the security of Singapore’s computer systems and websites*, and those responsible for the recent hacking incidents have been arrested or are being investigated**.

Taz gd, but what about making sure that IDA works hard and competently to give the public info on cyber security accurately, and in a timely manner? Rather than inaccurately, and only after cyber leaks and DRUMS.

Going by its recent ingloriously track record, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) should be renamed   Inforomm Dysfunctional Authority  because it’s so dysfunctional  in communicating info on cyber security and ICT matters.

It can’t even explain to our constructive, nation-building local journalists that the PMO’s website was not hacked. Granted that our well-paid hacks are not the most intelligent people in S’pore, but surely Yaacob’s finest could have told them in simple English, “PMO’s website was not hacked into”?

Singapore ICT regulator Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) was cited by local media reports to blame a vulnerability in Google’s search bar, embedded in the two websites, as the cause of the breach. In a media briefing to which only local media were invited …

… a Google spokesperson told ZDNet in an e-mail Wednesday: “It has come to our attention that the PMO’s website recently experienced an attack in the search functionality of the site run by Google’s Custom Search Engine site-search widget.

“After investigation, it appears that the code in the Google custom search engine is safe and the vulnerability lies with the coding on the webpage.”

While IDA declined to comment further on this issue as it is currently under police investigation, ZDNet understands the regulator was misquoted in local news reports. Rather than Google’s search bar, it had instead pointed to a vulnerability in the search function which the hackers were able to exploit and redirect visitors to the external webpages.

(http://www.zdnet.com/sg/google-denies-its-search-bar-caused-singapore-websites-breach-7000023129/)

At the very least, IDA gave the impression that our cybersecurity machinery was the equivalent of the flood prevention team  when Yaacob was “flooder-in-chief”.

Now onto an earlier, and more major, failure to communicate. Remember the Saturday a few weeks ago when govt websites suddenly closed for “routine maintenance’? Although they were soon up, netizens suspicions were aroused and they started playing DRUMS in the absence of authoritative info.

And they were correct to think that there problems, only not hacking but cock-ups.

Only on Monday evening (after a memo surfaced on the internet), IDA admitted the problems in accessing several Singapore government websites over the weekend were due to technical problems that arose during maintenance on Saturday afternoon. While the glitches have been rectified, people accessing these websites may continue to face intermittent access as maintenance was still ongoing.

In this day and age, IDA should communicate openly with the public. After all, this is not North Korea, even if our media ratings are close to that of the North Koreans than that to the US or UK.

I leave it to this blogger who wrote before IDA admitted that there were cock-ups, not juz “routine maintenance” to explain what I mean:

“It’s strange that the IDA did not deem it fit to update people more regularly when so many sites were out of service. Not only were they unable to transact, say, on SingPass, they were also wondering if indeed a cyber attack had been carried out against government agencies, as part of a bigger wave of attacks.

Ironically, the IDA can look at the way SingTel updated its customers in the hours after a fire at a telephone exchange just weeks ago. Though the damage was way bigger, angering a lot more customers, at least they knew what was going on.

And fall short, it definitely did this time. While there is speculation on why and how the sites could have been down, one thing is clear – this maintenance caused the sites to go down longer than expected.

That itself reflects badly on the nation’s cyber security efforts. “Self pwn” is the phrase that comes to mind when you bring down your own networks inadvertently.”

(http://www.techgoondu.com/2013/11/03/commentary-should-maintenance-bring-down-government-websites-for-hours/#.Ungbl1Nfp-d)

Recently, CNA reported, Singapore’s Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong, has said that countries in Asia need to adapt to emerging trends in social media, in order to get the new generation more engaged in literature and the arts.

Maybe he sould have a talk with  Yaacob and s/o Devan Nair who seem clueless about the effect of social media and the internet on public communications and PR in general. Strange this cluelessness, given their roles in govt as public communicators and PR. or they juz there for wayang.

One final tot. I’m surprised that neither GG nor TRE nor TOC tot it fit to ask if the people responsible for website security in general or the maintenance cock-ups, in particular,  were FTs or true-blue S’poreans.

This blogger has argued we need a S’porean core in cyber security.

One “career path” often joked about, but taken somewhat seriously, is to get into an IT management role in a bank then outsource the dirty work to vendors, sit back and enjoy a Dilbert moment every day.

Now, when that dirty work is cyber security, there is a problem. It’s an area where you can’t be an expert without getting your hands dirty. Yes, there are security solutions out there to tap on, but it is important to know your own servers well. How can you secure your home if you don’t know where the holes are in your fences?

Similarly, when it comes to defending national infrastructure, it pays to have a ready pool of experts, with actual hands-on experience.

This work cannot be easily outsourced, since it may involve getting access to sensitive information, say, military secrets. A Singaporean core, to borrow the government’s term, may be needed in such as an operation.

http://www.techgoondu.com/2013/11/12/commentary-singapore-hacking-cases-show-importance-of-deep-infocomm-expertise/comment-page-1/#.Uofv9idfp-c

But will our FT-loving govt listen? Worse it seems the govt’s model of “Talent is two-timing new citizen Raj or Tammy’s killer or the FTs that beat up S’poreans and then fled S’pore (one was even given PR after the beating), or a violent, cheating PRC shop assistant, or PRC hawkers or a looney, violent bank director.

*“A quote from a decade and a half ago: ‘Secure web servers are the equivalent of heavy armoured cars. The problem is, the roads are subject to random detours, anyone with a screwdriver can control the traffic lights and there are no police.’”
—Richard Guy Briggs on “Besieged”, Nov 9th 2013

**Taz before the latest reported hack of schools’ sites and a local museum’s mailing list was made public in NZ. Don’t know if you notice, but the local media is downplaying the security implications of the hacks by making them sound trivial.The schools’ hack is “defacement” and the mailing list was described as being on the website. The Hard Truth is that in these cases, servers were broken into.

This is in contrast to the “hack”of PMO’s site which was over-sensationalised. (There was no hack there as reported above. In the PMO’s case, at no time was there any server intrusion. The server was secure.) One wonders if IDA has finally educated the hacks on the basics of cyber security or did it order them to downplay the hacks as the hacks would imply that contrary to Yaacob’s comments about working hard to fix security issues, the cyber security teams are not working hard, or worse, working hard incompetently.


M’sia, S’pore tops Asean in household debt

In Indonesia, Infrastructure, Malaysia on 26/10/2013 at 7:31 am

Currently, M’sia‘s household debt stood at about 83% of gross domestic product. Household debt in S’pore now accounts for 75% of gross domestic product, having doubled in the last 13 years. According to Standard Chartered, a private bank, household borrowing as a share of national income now stands at 68% of Thailand’s GDP, much higher than in bigger Asian countries, such as China (20%), India (18%) and Indonesia (17%).

In other Asean round-up news:

Burma‘s Yangon had passed Singapore’s office rental rates of US$74 a square metre by the first quarter of this year according to estate agents Colliers. To give some context to this piece of info, something from yesterday’s BT: AT S$11 per square foot (psf) per month, or US$103 psf per year, the extended central business district comprising Raffles Place and Marina Bay is the eighth most expensive office area in the world, according to a Jones Lang LaSalle study.

Taking into account quoted rents from only premium office space in top sub-markets, Singapore was inched out by other Asian locations such as Hong Kong’s Central which commanded rents of HK$105 psf per month (US$162 psf per year) and Beijing’s Finance Street where corporates paid rents of 750 yuan per square metre per month (US$137 psf per year).

S’pore is sharing with Indonesia with its best practices in public-private partnership (PPP) in water and waste-water infrastructure projects.

Led by Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE), an integrated arm of International Enterprise Singapore, and Temasek Foundation, the partnership programme will be delivered over a two-year period by a team of Singapore experts from both private and public sectors to 200 Indonesian government officials from various provinces and cities as well as ministries including the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Public Works (Bappenas).

Singapore will provide knowledge in planning and procurement of water and waste-water infrastructure projects; and help cultivate a core group of officers from PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur (Persero), a government partner promoting infrastructure development in Indonesia, who will develop public-private partnership training materials.

Waz the “right” kind of gotong royong?

In Economy, Infrastructure, Internet, Political governance, Public Administration on 18/10/2013 at 5:00 am

Update on 22 23 October 2013: Minister explains use of Criminal Law Temporary Provision Act (http://au.sports.yahoo.com/football/news/article/-/19491410/football-match-fixing-witnesses-fear-reprisals/) on footie fixers.

I recently came across “gotong royong” the American way, or community spirit the capitalist way: in American- speak, the “sharing economy”.

Technology is revolutionising the way Americans catch a cab with a ride now just a click away through mobile phone apps like like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, Instantcab and Flywheel.

Many of these services are part of the so-called “sharing economy” in which car owners offer to drive strangers in exchange for a “donation”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24393348

But is this the “right” gotong royong that the PAPpies say they want here?

Bet you the Hard Truths that premise the PAP’s governing methods will prevent S’pore from ever going down this route, even though this seems one of several viable solutions (several are needed)  to our public tpt and private car problems  Remember, NTUC is via the Labour Foundation, the controlling shareholder of ComfortDelgro, the owner of the biggest taxi fleet here, and Temasek’s SMRT has a big taxi fleet too. The former runs most of the buses, while the latter runs most of the trains too. And it might impact the revenue from CoEs.

Seriously, the problem here is that “gotong royong” is contrary to the PAP’s Hard Truth that it is fount of everything. Gotong royong is not compatible with a top-down approach, where there is always a “right” way of doing things.

In “gotong royong”, as in the “sharing economy”, things happen because the rabble plebs mob community, society, consumer is the driving force, not a benign meritocratic elite. The people realise that there is a problem, issue, and are free (within some, not many, constraints) to work out a solution*. They don’t bitch while waiting for the governing elite to solve the problem, feeling entitled that because said elite is well-paid, they must solve the problem, resolve the issue.

I consider the following to be gotong royong in action, but doubt the PAP ministers urging us to “gotong royong” would agree:

– TOC’s and TRE’s continued existence;

– the various fund raisings for various legal cases where the govt is the defendant;

– the public funding of the deposits of Alex Tan and friends, and the independent team at Tanjong Pagar GRC;

– Nicole Seah raising money for her team’s election expenses;

– the free food and drinks at Gilbert Goh’s Hong Lim Green functions;

– Function 8;

– CHC members who willingly pay the legal fees of church members being prosecuted for false accounting etc;

– pastor Khong’s gang funding a legal suit;

– those who lend sound eqpt and technical help at various Hong Lim Green parties

– the kay pohs trying to help FTs avoid being hung for drug trafficking**;

– those gathering to help the family of Dinesh Raman get justice and closure**;

– Maruah**;

– the volunteers who help FT manual workers;

– the LGBT community; and

the dedicated band of enthusiasts who have been trying to draw attention to the cemetery’s [Bukit Brown's] value. They have succeeded in having it included on the biennial watchlist of the World Monument Fund (WMF), of heritage sites around the world that are in danger.

All these examples and more show that the gotong royong spirit is alive and well. They juz don’t fit the PAP’s narrative, especially the bit that the PA’s and PAP’s grass-root activists are the only selfless, dedicated volunteers. And that in cyberspace, their activists are no match for the the injuns, outlaws and other inhabitants of cowboy towns.

*In the US, there is no hegemonic elite to enforce the top down approach, and stifle innovation or stifle dissent or force recantations from members of the elite turned heretical.

**How come no help Dan Tan? Because he drive 7 series, got properties and China babe? And he not violent, middle class or FT?

SMRT: Rights issue coming?

In Infrastructure on 08/10/2013 at 5:54 am

Reading the u/m, I can’t shake the feeling that a rights issue is coming: the capex and running costs seem to call for it. Given that the share price has fallen from the 1.40ish level (at the end of July), to the present level of 1.29, it  might be interesting to buy if one expects a rights issue is in the offing. A rights issue will signal that Temasek expects dividend levels to be maintained at current levels, or slightly reduced, not slashed drastically. It took the results of 1Q 2013- 2014 to bring the shares to below the 1.34 level, a level brokers had been targeting since January.

Let you know if I buy after I buy. BTW, still not bot ComfortDelgro http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/when-raising-fares-sbs-smrt-govt-dont-have-this-problem/. Share price recovered 10% while I was thinking about it (blame QE reprieve). Shares are now near the price that institutions took a placement off the S’pore Labour Foundation.

CREDIT ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has lowered its outlook on SMRT Corp from “stable” to “negative” over concerns about its financial position, particularly its cash flow.

S&P said [on 27th September 2013] that the transport operator’s operating expenses are higher than expected. It also pointed to high capital spending over the 12 months to June, while noting the uncertainty over government financial support such as funding for the firm.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={435478142-19258-9361788629}

“… the lack of timely government support could delay a recovery in SMRT’s key financial metrics.”

SMRT’s “moderate” financial risk profile is weakening, S&P added.

It said it expects the group’s bottom line will be hit by increased operating expenses such as wages and repair and maintenance costs, without the offsetting factor of higher fares.

S&P added that SMRT’s capital expenditure will likely remain high at about $600 million.

It noted that the group’s capital spending will likely ease in 2015 as it implements a new rail financing framework. This, in turn, will ease its debt situation.

“Nevertheless, we base this on a positive and timely outcome for the ongoing discussions between the company and the Government.”

S&P said SMRT’s business risk profile remains “excellent”, backed by its dominance in Singapore’s rail sector.

Its passenger numbers have grown steadily over the past two years despite breakdowns in December 2011.

The agency predicts that passenger numbers will continue to rise as the economic environment improves and it retains its dominant position here.

S&P continues to believe that the likelihood of “extraordinary government support” for SMRT Corp is “extremely high”.

It said: “This is based on the company’s critical role as a provider of essential public transport service in Singapore, and its very strong link with its majority owner, the Government, through Temasek Holdings, which owns 54.2 per cent of SMRT.”

“Cheaper” to build F1 track

In Humour, Infrastructure on 08/09/2013 at 6:21 am

Netizens in July were making comments about a SMRT river training for F1 following a tragic accident when a bus alleged to be speeding overturned. The driver (apparently an FT PRC) claims the brakes didn’t work. http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/07/24/smrt-bus-crash-at-dairy-farm-road-actual-video-of-crash/. Nothing further has emerged.

For us lesser mortals, when F1 comes to town, those of us who have to work, have the inconvenience of blocked roads and altered bus routes. And the shops at Suntec have to deal with falling biz. All this so that S’pore doesn’t have to build a proper F1 track. Guess we now know why only Monaco, Montreal and S’pore have street races: peanuts compared to the number on permanent circuits. The public are inconvenienced, and the public cannot be upset even in countries where the people can’t vote for the govt ruling them. BTW, in Montreal, the street race ain’t in the heart of the city, and in Monaco, people commute by helicopters and boats too (at least the rich do).

It’s not as though there is a huge savings gap. In fact it’s more expensive to stage a street race, even without taking account of the economic losses.

However, the annual running costs of a street race are greater than those of one on a permanent circuit: temporary grandstands need to be built and the roads need to be upgraded to F1′s high safety standards. The biggest single expense for the operators is staffing (c£10m), followed by rental of grandstands (c£8m) and construction of safety barriers and fencing (c£5m). 

In total, the annual operating cost of an F1 street race is in the region of £36m. Then comes the hosting fee, which is paid to the F1 rights holder. The average hosting fee came to £17m in 2011 but the sting in the tail of the contracts is that the price accelerates by as much as 10 per cent every year. Most new F1 race contracts are for ten years, so by the end of the agreement the annual fee comes to around £40m thanks to the escalator clause in the contract. That means that over the ten-year duration the bill for hosting fees totals an estimated £272m (see below) with the cost of running the races coming to £360m. That makes a total over ten years of more than £600m.

With annual running costs that are far lower than those for a street race, the total cost of building a Grand Prix circuit and hosting an F1 race over a ten-year period comes in at around £560m. But promoters need to dig deep to fund that initial track construction… http://www.babusinesslife.com/Ideas/Features/The-cost-of-hosting-a-Formula-1-Grand-Prix.html … how much the key elements of a brand new Grand Prix circuit are likely to cost… [£164m]

So the difference is spending S$80m more over 10 yrs to “save” on the cost of building a permanent track. Of course, I ‘m assuming the cost of the circuit land is zero or nominal. But this being S’pore where giving away the land for public housing would be “raiding the reserves” (Mah Bow Tan), this is a non-starter. Anyway the usual suspects would shout “corruption” even if the govt was willing to lease land at a nominal price.

So, the end result is that the “little people” who have to commute by way of public transport, get screwed, So waz new?

(Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/f1-sharing-the-1bn-in-value-add-with-the-losers/)

But let’s look on the bright side like Brian Cohen in the Life of Brian. Suffering a lingering, painful death by cruxification, Brian’s spirits were lifted by others crucified along with him, who sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

Hopefully SMRT and SBS are tapping F1 to make our tpt system more reliable and efficient. In the UK, train and bus companies have started working with the Williams Formula One team to help improve their service.

The companies are buying advice and equipment to make their vehicles more reliable, something every passenger in the land will be grateful for.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23132335

At the moment, SMRT’s only links with F1 is that the previous CEO drove a Ferrari, and is alleged to have had a Mercedes super car. Maybe when Desond Kwek and his ex-SAF mgrs want to buy super cars with their mega-bonuses, Williams could call them to see if something win-win can be arranged for them, Williams and SMRT? Free sex is no longer an option after recent corruption court cases.

SMRT might be interested in this: talking train window ads

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23167112

I mean its CEO is claiming that its business model is not sustainable i.e. he can’t raise fares to cover the costs of salaries and maintenance. Cut dividends leh? As at end February 2012, SMRT has paid SMRT paid S$562.79m in dividends to Temasek since its listing.

(Another way of raising $http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/how-smrt-can-spend-more-on-maintenance-while-contd-paying-gd-dividends/)

Finally, great video that shows guy driving round Manhattan at speeds that breaks the law. http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/sep/06/manhattan-island-24-minutes-video. Driver records 24-minute fastest lap around Manhattan

Govt doesn’t highlight subsidy problems in M’sia, Thailand & Indonesia; wonder why?

In Indonesia, Infrastructure, Internet, Malaysia, Vietnam on 07/09/2013 at 5:58 am

The govt likes to warn about the dangers of subsidies, forever quoting the deficits in the West. Well what about telling us about problems nearer home? And how come it’s ok to “subsidise” HDB flats at home? ‘Cause it not really a subsidy is what the usual suspects would argue.

Malaysia has cut fuel subsidies for the first time in more than two years as it tries to reduce its budget deficit.

The subsidy on petrol has been cut by 20 sen (6 cents; 4 pence) a litre and on diesel by 20 to 80 sen a litre.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said the cuts would result in savings of about 3.3bn ringgit ($1bn; £650m) a year.

The government spent 24bn ringgit on fuel subsidies last year, which contributed to a widening budget deficit.

Malaysia’s budget deficit was 4.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23926411

Some analysts said that the cut in fuel subsidies was an attempt by the government to increase investor confidence and persuade them to leave their money in the country.

Malaysia’s ratio of public debt to gross domestic product (GDP) “is approaching worrying leve according to a Bank of  America Merrill Lynch (BOAML) report. It said that the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio had risen to 54.6%  at the end of the second quarter, from 53.8% in the first quarter.

The figure is just short of the country’s mandated debt ceiling of 55% of GDP. In the 1960s, the limit was made law by then-finance minister Tan Siew Sin to ensure fiscal prudence.

BOAML said that it could worsen. “Rising longer-term bond yields (and hence higher debt-servicing costs) may accelerate the climb.”

Meanwhile, total debt including guarantees is piling up.

“Government guaranteed debt came in at RM147.3 billion (S$56.4 billion) in the second quarter, slightly lower than RM147.8 billion in the first quarter. Adding this to public debt brings the quasi-public debt to about 70.2 per cent of GDP at the end of the second quarter, up from 69.4 per cent during the first quarter.” [BOA report added after first publication)]

Other Asean round-up news

Thailand‘s Thaksinonmics runs into trouble

Thaksinomics has always been about two things. First, it was about establishing a secure hold over the voters, and in that it has unquestionably been successful.

But it is also supposed to be about driving the domestic economy.

The original schemes for micro-credit, affordable healthcare and local product promotion have lifted the living standards of millions of poorer Thais, as has this government’s decision to raise the minimum wage.

But the benefits of the car and rice purchase schemes are more doubtful, especially given their cost.

Thailand still remains heavily dependent on exports and on foreign direct investment for its growth.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23903476V

What Viki’s US$ 200m exit says about S’pore’s, M’sia’s and Indonesia’s startup environment

And one of the reasons for the flight of money from Indonesia, is it’s failure to tackle the rising cost of its fuel subsidy. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23015511

http://sgentrepreneurs.com/2013/09/02/what-vikis-usd-200m-exit-says-about-singapores-startup-ecosystem/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=

CNA Group’s Vietnam-based subsidiary, CNA-HTE Vietnam Co, has landed a $10.6 million contract to renovate, upgrade and expand the domestic terminals in Ho Chi Minh’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

Under this project, CNA will provide mechanical, engineering and plumbing services such as the air-conditioning, ventilation and electrical systems at the airport’s new two-storey domestic terminal. CNA will also upgrade the airport’s existing domestic terminal, which will be equipped with a new bus terminal building and a VIP lounge. Its roof will be upgraded.

The project is slated for completion in October next year and will contribute to the group’s financial performance for the fiscal year ending Dec 31, 2013. It boosted CNA’s order book to $74.2 million, from $63.6 million as at June 30.

This is CNA’s second airport-related project in South-east Asia this year; it won a contract for Laos’ Luang Prabang Airport in April for common-use terminal equipment, typically used to facilitate passenger check-ins. BT

SMRT: Another breakdown!

In Infrastructure on 29/07/2013 at 10:49 am

Fortunately it’s not the trains, or the buses. It’s minor. Shares are marginally off today, so market doesn’t worry about this latest dyfunctionality

Still even think about investing in it because the continuing dysfunctionality  is not reassuring, inspite of having as CEO, a scholar and ex SAF head, who was brought in to get the trains (and buses) to run on time again. Still not running. There have been several train delays, the most publicised of which was in April when a crack on the northbound track between Somerset and Orchard stations slowed trains to a crawl. Then a speeding bus (driven by FT PRC driver training for F1) crashed overturned.There were injuries and a death. And then there was S’pore’s first strike (legal or otherwise) in decades.

All this on the watch of a scholar and general? Err what would have happened on the watch of a non-scholar, sales char bor FT? Actually, we know: overcrowded trains, poor working conditions for FT drivers, contempt for commuters.

Back to the latest failure: SMRT’s Vice President for Corporate Marketing and Communications, Ms Kalai Natarajan, has quit after only 5 months. She was among several senior management staff (mostly ex-SAF officers, but not her) brought in by the new CEO Lt Gen (NS) Desmond Kuek after he took over in Oct last year. She was hired in Feb this year, taking over from Mr Goh Chee Kong, who left last year. Mr Goh is the guy who insinuated, “Better you die, than damage SMRT property.” OK, I exaggerate, but not by much. He was ex-SAFer. (Her quitting shows the gd for the FT, where “T” stands for “Talent”, running Temasek’s public communications. I once blogged that he had turned down the SMRT post.)

During her short tenure, more than five in her communication team of about 10 people resigned.

According to ST, her departure is unusual because she is not required to serve notice. She told ST that she is leaving SMRT today (Monday). She confirmed that she will not be serving notice. Usually the notice period for senior management is three months. Seems she hasn’t another job waiting for her.

A HR expert speculated in ST report that there may be a “cultural misfit” if senior management staff “are not on the same wavelength”. Let’s watch to see if the Hongkie that was brought in to run train operations, quits.

If he does, then commuters should be worried, very worried, that experienced professionals have left, leaving only ex-SAFers, not experienced in running public transport operations or public communications.

Related posts: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/smrt-can-still-wait/ Interesting that it is still trading way above its “Sell” target price.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/for-they-have-sown-the-wind-and-they-shall-reap-the-whirlwind/

When raising fares, SBS, SMRT & Govt don’t have this problem

In Infrastructure on 17/06/2013 at 5:33 am

SBS and SMRT are grumbling loudly that their present biz model (after delivering golden rivers of dividends for Temasek and the S’pore Labour Foundation) doesn’t work. SLF even sold 8% of SBS’s parent at a huge discount to the market price. Great move as this was done before market meltdown. (BTW, at current price, tempted to buy into ComfortDelgro. It closed last Friday at 1.755, up 3% from Thursday. The co’s fundamentals havenot changed since institutions bought SLF’s stake at 1.94. It is likely that when they bot from SLF, they would have been given assurances of the fundamentals at that price.)

And govt has been pouring our money ($1.1bn and counting) at the public the transport system. And the Wankers’ Party remains quiet* about its Manifesto call to nationalise the public transport system.

If the PAP govt weren’t concerned that it would lose votes if fares were raised without a marked improvement in service standards, fares would have gone up by now to keep the dividends flowing. Screwing the public (by making the public pay-and-pay) is the PAP way pre the 2011 GE and PE.

Anyway, SMRT, ComfortDelgro and the govt should be grateful that this doesn’t happen here when faresw are raised: Protests against bus and underground fare rises in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo have turned violent.

Police fired rubber-coated bullets and tear gas, and detained more than 200 people. Police say they seized petrol bombs, knives and drugs.

Violence has also been reported at protests in Rio de Janeiro.

Prices for a single ticket in Sao Paulo were raised on 2 June from 3 reals ($1.40, £0.90) to 3.20 reals ($1.50, £0.96).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-22899748

For that, they have to thank people like this TRE reader

My Middle name is AhLong:

We need to organise a movement similar to BERSEH of Malaysia now to demand clean election. We need to ensure a proper way to secure and account for the ballot boxes en-route to the counting station …We must demand at the counting station, after all ballot boxes are accounted for and examined, all the ballot tickets should mixed into a single bunch and count from there. In this way, the sly election department will not be able to get the data for gerrymandering in the next election.

Finally, to have a level of playing field, election department should NOT be under PMO!

If he is serious, he should be trying to organise shumething, instead of juz bitching anon. His use of the word “We” is simply a way of saying “You”.He juz wants to let out hot air, like VivianB, Auntie and her favourite Singh, the M’sian gals from S’pore Writers, and the Nairs, Gopalan and Rajan. He doesn’t want to do the hard slog, like Low, Ah Huat, Ah Lian, the NSP’s Dynamic Duo, the Ravis (M and P) and Team SDP. If you’re wondering why Siow is not on the list, he’s away in the US until year-end. And no, he is not attending the CIA’s regime change course.

*To be fair, Low mentions it in passing, now and then.

LTA, SMRT: Learn from NY & Dubai pls

In Infrastructure on 04/06/2013 at 5:48 pm

“Sponsorship is already used on metro systems across the word in places like Madrid, Dubai and New York,” says a Tory party report, and it suggests “Sponsorship deals to rename London Underground lines and stations should be considered as a way to fund a freeze in fares, Tory politicians have said.”

A report by the Conservative Party on the London Assembly said if £136m was raised in sponsorship it could freeze fares for a year.And it claimed £204m would cap rises at inflation for the next three years.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-22745677

“Transport for London (TfL) said the cost of of changing maps and signs made a deal of that kind unfeasible”, and bet you that LTA and SMRT would give the same excuse.

But here’s shumething that SMRT cannot say, “Every penny of this and our other revenue goes towards keeping fares as low as possible”,. because as a listco, controlled by Temasek, it got to pay dividends.

Estonia doing it, S’pore still talking about it

In Economy, Infrastructure, Political economy on 19/05/2013 at 7:39 am

The inventors of Skype came from Estonia. More importantly, the economy there is using IT to leverage its productivity. Not like S’pore where FTs are thrown at any problem.

Estonian schools are teaching children as young as seven how to programme computers.

Estonia’s e-revolution began in the 1990s, not long after independence. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, then the country’s ambassador to the United States, now Estonia’s president, takes some of the credit … He read a book whose “Luddite, neo-Marxist” thesis, he says, was that computerisation would be the death of work.

The book cited a Kentucky steel mill where several thousands of workers had been made redundant, because after automatisation, the new owners could produce the same amount of steel with only 100 employees.

“This may be bad if you are an American,” he says. “But from an Estonian point of view, where you have this existential angst about your small size – we were at that time only 1.4 million people – I said this is exactly what we need.

“We need to really computerise, in every possible way, to massively increase our functional size.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22317297

Keep using the platform Sports Council

In Infrastructure on 13/05/2013 at 3:02 pm

The Marina Bay floating platform was meant to be a temporary structure until the Sports Hub was completed. But it was reported in ST today that it will be staying put for at least a while longer. The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) – which owns and manages the platform – told ST that it is “considering retaining the facility for recreation, sports and community use”, even after the hub is completed.”

Keep using it until it becomes to expensive to maintain SSC. It’s something different.

Hope it gets used “permanently”. Thanking SSC in anticipation.

AsiaOne pix

HPH Trust: Cost of strike settlement

In Infrastructure on 08/05/2013 at 7:29 am

Port workers in HK agreed to a pay increase of 9.8%, after initially demanding a hike of more than 20%. This works out to an increase of 5.6% to the costs of HPH Trust.

Earlier post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/hph-trust-time-to-buy/

Can now focus on analysing the revenue prospects. Watch this space.

SMRT/ LTA: Another PR problem round the corner?

In Infrastructure on 07/05/2013 at 5:06 am

Questions have been raised over the health impact of high levels of tiny airborne metal particles discovered in a European underground train system.

Millions of people travel on underground urban transit systems in cities across the world.

Researchers at Southampton University say metal in the air thrown up by trains running on metal tracks could pose a health risk.

Airborne particles small enough to be inhaled are known to damage health.

They increase the risk of developing asthma, lung cancer or cardiovascular disease.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22404446

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/smrt-can-still-wait/

 

SMRT: Can still wait

In Infrastructure on 05/05/2013 at 5:15 am

SMRT’s FY2013 profit missed expectations as cost inflation outpaced revenue growth. Margin pain will persist until SMRT moves to a more sustainable business model. Until then, not only are profits at risk, so are dividends.

Dividend payout was cut to 45 per cent versus its previous 60 per cent policy. FY2013 core net profit met only 92 per cent of our and consensus estimates. We cut our FY2014-15 EPS estimates by 21 to 27 per cent and introduce FY2016. Our target price (discounted cash flow, weighted average cost of capital 6.5 per cent) falls to $1.26. CIMB April 30.

The last target price I saw, six months ago I think, put it at 1.33. Not sure whose.

Buying for yield requires co to have a sustainable business model, something that SMRT admits it doesn’t have. Keep on watching.

 

These Hongkies must wish NTUC represented them

In Humour, Infrastructure on 01/05/2013 at 6:57 am

The striking port workers say their real wages have fallen in the past 17 years, while their working conditions have worsened. They say many work 24-hr shifts without toilet or lunch breaks, FT reports.

S’pore needs FTs like these! PSA should bring them in, and offer them 18-hr shifts without toilet or lunch breaks. Our port workers do 8-12 hr shifts with toilet and lunch breaks in-between. Throw in the right to buy “subsidised” HDB flats, and they will be be forever grateful to the PAP, unlike our present port workers who loved JBJ.

Bet you this piece doesn’t get republished in TRE. It shows S’pore in a gd light!

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/hph-trust-time-to-buy/

 

HPH Trust: Time to buy?

In Infrastructure on 25/04/2013 at 6:27 am

Is it worth a buy? HPH Trust has fallen 4% since the strike in HK. Its handling capacity is back above 80%, having fallen to below 50% when the strike began. But the gap between oits wage offer (7%) and the strikers’ 20% demand, is big. And even its 7% offer adds 4% to total costs calculates CLSA.

And there is China’s slowdown and competition.

Nah let’s wait to see the terms of the settlement. Remember buy this for yield, not capital appreciation.

PAP listening to SDP?

In Infrastructure on 11/03/2013 at 6:22 am

Err didn’t the govt rubbish the SDP’s idea of lowering the cost of HDB flats by making it a condition of getting cheaper flats that they be resold to HDB?

And didn’t Khaw just say that this idea will be studied? But didn’t credit the SDP for suggesting it?

As an oldie using SingHealth, here’s hoping the SDP’s healthcare ideas be adopted* and that Paul A** gets co-opted to become Health minister.

——

*Never mind if it bankrupts S’pore as healthcare costs in the US and UK are bankrupting these nations, I’ll be dead.

**He was a possible SDP candidate for Punggol-East. Gd that he didn’t stand because he couldn’t claim to be born poor: even s/o JBJ claimed that although born in a pram made of gold, silver and ivory, he became poor when his dad took on the PAP. He dared make this claim even though he went to very expensive ang moh schools. JBJ became so poor that he could send his son to expensive schools? Come on, man who doesn’t know the Pledge, pull the other leg, it’s got bells on it.

 

Safe? Are you sure LTA?

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 10/03/2013 at 6:32 pm

Sinkholes happen when a layer of rock underneath the ground is dissolved by acidic water.

Usually this layer is a soluble carbonate rock, such as limestone or its purer form, chalk …Typically rainfall seeps through the soil, absorbing carbon dioxide and reacting with decaying vegetation. As a result, the water that reaches the soluble rock is acidic.

The acidic water causes the erosion of the soluble rock layers beneath the surface – eventually creating cavernous spaces.

The soil or sand over the limestone collapses into a sinkhole when it is no longer supported because of the cavity below. This final collapse of the surface might take anything from a few minutes to several hours. Read http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21600410 for more details on how they occur.

After reading the article, I’m left wondering how LTA can be so confident that the other lanes are safe*? Ain’t the other lanes sited on the same piece of land? It’s that to imagine that the hollow in the ground coincide with the lane: surely the hollow, if any, is spread over several lanes? As the article points out, holes can appear suddenly and unexpectedly, when there is a “tipping point’.

And if other sinkholes appear on other lanes: another “honest mistake”?

But let’s be fair, if the LTA had closed sections of the road while it conducts tests, and then found no other problems, the “Govt are bastards” brigade on Facebook, TRE, TOC, TRS and the internet would have a field day. And S’poreans who were inconvenienced by the road closure would bltch like bleating lambs too.

In first-world democracies, the emphasis would be safety over convenience, partly because govt’s and officials are afraid of lawsuits when people die. Here the culture seems to be public convenience over public safety (and cross fingers and hope no one dies). We had one example of this attitude when the public inquiry into MRT breakdowns, revealed that LTA was upset when SMRT wanted to extend disruption of service to conduct more checks. And the bitch brigade bitched when a minister dared to suggest that there might be a need to stop services to conduct checks or repairs. Nothing further was heard from him.

A balance has to be struck between public safety and public convenience, and this requires a consensus. Now wouldn’t this issue make a great topic for NatCon? And isn’t this issue connected to the issue of how many people we want here, given our population density. We are among the world’s most densely populated places.

———————-

*The patched-up sinkhole on Clementi Road has reappeared.

The gaping hole is about two-metre wide and a metre deep.

It was fixed on 4 March but it collapsed again on Friday.

A Land Transport Authority spokesperson said the affected lane was closed off immediately for repair works.

They are investigating the cause of the hole and are also conducting scans below the affected portion for any possible cavities.

The other lanes on Clementi Road remain safe. CNA

“WP will vote for the White Paper,” Moley

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 04/02/2013 at 5:31 am

(Update after Auntie’s speech: Moley and I are most happy that we got it wrong. But let’s wait and see. I was happy about being wrong about Punggol East, until Low told us that a vote for the WP is a vote to maintain pAP hegemony)

Given the overwhelming majority of PAP Members of Parliament, there is no question where the debate will be heading – towards a total endorsement of the policy recommendations and continued population influx, despite the message sent to the PAP by the Punggol East electorate and many Singaporeans.

Dear readers, would you vote for your MP in GE 2016 if he or she approves of the immigration targets drawn up in the Population White Paper? (http://singaporearmchaircritic.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/broken-trust-broken-policies/)

Neat idea but what if WP votes for White Paper?

We got to vote for Mad Dog Chee’s elitist Singapore Indian Party SDP*, or No Substance**, or the Clowns Brigade: s/o JBJ, the Saints boy, SDA, or the Chiams, because Morocco Mole tells me that  the WP will vote for the White Paper too. Now Moley has been right about WP refusing to raise issue of public transport nationalisation in parly. (Sorry JG, GG never raised the issue as you claimed. He just asked the govt to justify its rojak policy and then when as you rightly pointed the minister gave an incoherent response, GG didn’t respond with a nationalisation call.)

Sure will have wayang by Drama King PritamS and Drama Auntie (Remember their rants against govt changes to the mandatory death penalty? They voted for the changes on the quiet, juz like PAP MPs. And remember WP voted for the Budgets, despite bitching about the said Budgets).

WP will vote for the White Paper. And unlike all the examples cited above of the WP quietly supporting the PAP, while attacking it publicly, WP is taking a principled stand on the issue. LTK and Auntie have been asking the govt to go easy on the policy of cutting FTs, speaking out against the govt’s policy (now discarded?***) of starving the SMEs of FTs. Chinese-owned SMEs  fund the WP on the quiet, so WP has to keep them happy.

And the PAP (the real deal) has just given WP the best excuse to support the White Paper:

– “Reiterating that the 6.9 million figure should be viewed as “the worst-case scenario”****, Mr Khaw wrote: “We hope we do not reach that figure; we may never reach that figure.”

–”Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said … he fully agrees with Mr Khaw’s explanation that a 6.9 million population is not a target, but just a worst-case, aggressive scenario the Government must prepare for.”

“Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office S Iswaran assures Singaporeans that the 6.9 million population figure in the White Paper is not a target the government is setting itself to achieve.”

(Excerpts from MediaCorp)

“6.9m? What 6.9m? Only projection, worse-case scenario, to spur debate leh,” WP Low will say, says Morocco Mole, Secret Squirrel’s side-kick. [This sentence was added an hour after initial publication.]

Which brings me to a suggestion on helping us monitor and assess a MP’s performance (from http://berthahenson.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/a-political-performance/)

Each MP should put up a yearly account to their constituents of what they did or said in Parliament. How many sessions did they turn up for? How many Bills did they vote on – and what did they say about them in Parliament? How many questions did they ask from ministers – both oral and written. What sort of answers did they get – and did the questions work in getting things done? … this keeps constituents politically attuned and keeps the MPs accountable. Simply saying vote for me again (I am looking ahead to the next GE) because I am kind, good, committed etc and my party has done what and what… isn’t good enough. Thing is, what have YOU done lately for me as my voice in Parliament?

But I doubt WP would adopt such a first-world practice of transparency and accountability. It would make transparent the WP’s two-headed snake strategy of being all things to all voters.

If ordinary netizens want the WP to vote against the White Paper, please start sending a strong message to the WP: use TRE, even TOC, or email direct to WP.

*I mean both SDP candidates were highly qualified Indians from very, very privileged backgrounds. They couldn’t claim, like s/o JBJ, that they were rich kids made poor by the PAP. But maybe they could argue that their families have been wealthier if the PAP had not come into power? Seriously, maybe the SDP is an elitist party that believes “multiracialism” is more than “an aspiration”: the voters are colour-blind? Says a lot for SDP’s idealism vis-a-vis that of the PAP and WP.

**NSP is getting its act together policy-wise: a good piece on population, responding to the White Paper   http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/02/02/nsp-proposes-alternative-population-plan-for-singapore/. And in working the ground. The problems lie in internal bickering and giving the WP the excuse to “knife” the NSP. An example of the latter: a prominent blogger who juz happens to be a NSP member was very vocal in his attacks on the WP’s leaders and followers during the recent by-election campaign. He accused them of PAP-like arrogance. (Even I won’t go that far in criticising the WP.). While I’m sure, the NSP had no hand in his attacks, which sounded as though they were written by s/o JBJ, it could cause trouble. NSP had no quarrel with WP over the by-election, yet its member felt free to attack WP. Low is very correct in telling his activists to toe the party line on the internet and social media. It could lead to misunderstandings. The WP now has the perfect excuse to move into Tampines, Marine Parade, Kallang and Mountbatten: a NSP member savaged WP on the internet and the NSP kept quiet would be the WP excuse.

***I’m confused. Cutting FT supply but by growing it?

****Shades of Yaacob, Remember he said this when one LKY shouted a Hard Truth about Malay Muslims.

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.

——

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

 

 

 

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.

SMRT: Buying target price

In Infrastructure on 20/12/2012 at 7:03 am

OSK DMG has a target price of $1.60 (6% above current price) and a Neutral call. I’ll monitor price to see if it falls to below or near that level. And then evaluate it to see if worth buying for dividend yield. The CEO’s talk of getting rid of FT drivers’ supervisors, could if carried out herald a change of culture.

BTW broker has a  Nneutral” call on the sector, with preference for ComfortDelGro (S$1.72 BUY TP S$1.85) for its cheaper valuations and overseas growth potential.

SMRT did not brief FT drivers on labour law?

In Infrastructure on 07/12/2012 at 5:17 am

I’m glad that the four FT PRC drivers that are facing charges for instigating an illegal strike are going to get help from some civic-minded lawyers.

Following the guilty plea by one driver who it seems had no lawyer to advise him, I was dismayed.

I had heard via Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole that the PRC FT drivers had never ever been briefed on the labour law here: particularly that there was a procedure to be followed before striking. And that SMRT has no documentary evidence that it ever briefed its FT drivers.

So when I read that one driver had pleaded guilty, I tot it was unlikely that these issues,  assuming they were true, or even probable would be raised in public by the drivers.

Now that the remaining four charged drivers have legal advice, if these allegations are probable, they would be raised, in mitigation.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law. But ignorance of the law particularly when it is in a foreign language should be taken into consideration when passing sentence: especially if the employer did not brief its FT employees about the legal process involved in taking industrial action.

As to whether SMRT could have been so dysfunctional as not to brief its FT drivers on labour law, fact is that its HR department is pretty dysfunctional.  “MOM [Ministry of Manpower"] said it has reiterated to SMRT that labour and contractual grievances raised by the workers should be a priority and addressed quickly.” And after all, SMRT only introduced the following after the strike:

– “[T]old its drivers at the sessions that it has set up a 24-hour hotline for drivers to call if they have concerns or grievances”; and

– “They have also appointed liaison officers who can speak Mandarin to deal directly with the drivers, said SMRT.”

(CNA report)

Avoid the stock especially as SMRT’s focus on profit is one of the many factors why SMRT has been facing problems, according to its CEO Desmond Kuek. If the CEO talks like this, you can be pretty sure good dividend payouts are not one of his KPIs.

SMRT: Better not take the bus

In Infrastructure on 30/11/2012 at 5:16 am

(If you are short of time, juz read the last two paragraphs on why taking SMRT buses may be dangerous, otherwise read on.)

TRE reprinted this and Neutral responded as follows:

To be fair, “ex-SAF chief and scholar” was only in charge recently and so not really his problem. More like it’s “Miss colour hair” legacy.

 However, it is interesting to see how he handle this situation and if he applies a military approach, these “strikers” can jolly well go home to PRC for christmas.

I disagree.

Ever since the illegal strike began, SMRT has goofed in its handling of it:

– Came out to say initially 102 didn’t turn up: later said 171. If it got it wrong by 10%, fair enough, but it got it wrong by 67%. If it didn’t know how many drivers didn’t turn for work, it means it didn’t know how many drivers extra it would need. If a transport company can’t keep track of attendance, there is something wrong with its management info systems.

– But maybe it wasn’t the fault of the mgt info system but of the internal communications system?

– Then there was SMRT saying that striking workers were sacked; and then saying more had returned to work the next day. If they were sacked, how can return to work?

– As the law is very clear on what constitutes a strike (minister’s comments), management did not take decisive action in calling it an “illegal strike” until after the minister said so, it seems. This did the constructive, nation-building no favours, forcing it into some contortions to explain the initial non-use of the word “strike”. The media will not thank the management for the public ridicule it got.

And

– SMRT has admitted that “swifter actions could have been taken to improve dormitory conditions”. It should have admitted it could have communicated better with the PRC workers. It said on Wednesday, “the additional pay adjustment of S$25 a month for drivers from China was finalised last week and that it is in the process of communicating this to the drivers.” (CNA). Couldn’t they have told the drivers, before they saw their pay slips?

– The dormitory conditions should not have been so bad. SMRT is a TLC and GLC, not any SME.

– SMRT should have encouraged the FT PRCs to join NTUC. SBS did this. If they were part of Zorro’s gang, maybe things may not have reached this point. As Siow Kum Hong wrote on his FB page, “[A]ctually, i think people go on strike only if they feel disenfranchised and after they think they’ve exhausted other options.”

– As the strike took place when the CEO was away on overseas leave, it showed a lack of foreknowledge of worker unhappiness. Or worse: SMRT knew but CEO couldn’t be bothered to change his vacation plans.

These failings reflect badly on the ex-general, ex-SAF chief and scholar. And shouldn’t he be on the first plane back? After all, first illegal strike in Singapore since 1980 and in a TLC. The CEO was an ex-SAF chief and then senior servant: is this boh chap attitude a reflection of the ethos of public service?Thank God, there was no military or national security crisis during his stint as SAF chief.

Avoid the stock. It’s a dog that has fleas on the dog’s fleas.

And what happens if one of the FT drivers is so frustrated that he turns suicidal when driving a bus full of commuters. Or if he runs amok? Has the ex-colonel and scholar in charge of bus operations tot about the possibility that putting unhappy drivers on the road is endangering S’poreans and FTs. Imagine the damage that pictures of passengers being burnt alive will do to S’pore’s reputation as employers’ paradise?

Better give SMRT bus services a miss if you can. And if you have to take a SMRT bus, better make your will first, and check your insurance cover. Better safe than sorry?

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind”

In Economy, Infrastructure, Political economy, Political governance on 27/11/2012 at 6:01 am

Well, well. So 102 FT drivers recruited from China (5% of all SMRT’s drivers) refused to work yesterday, disrupting SMRT bus services. They were not happy about their pay. Happily for commuters using the affected bus services, they agreed to return to work while talks continue.

Whither the FT policy, and LKY’s pride in FTs? Striking was a no-no for workers (except, as I recounted yesterday, when the govt had another agenda). S’porean sheep workers did not strike partly because they were afraid of retribution. Now FTs have led the way and have so far got away with it. They might even get more money. If they do, will locals realise that they too can get away with striking? If immigrants whom LKY respect can strike, why can’t they?

And if S’poreans start striking, will the MNCs move on?

Something for the cabinet, PM and his dad to ponder.

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.”

As for SMRT, time to forget about the stock. Management is still dysfunctional, despite having a ex-SAF chief and scholar in charge. Err might even turn into another NOL, where as I have recounted another ex-SAF chief and scholar has run it aground (Search “NOL”  on this site).

SMRT is in the biz of transporting people

In Infrastructure on 16/11/2012 at 6:31 am

TRE republished this and improved on it by adding part of  the newspaper report that annoyed me.

Here are some great comments posted on TRE about the “unprecedented offer”

TheFortyPercent:

The SMRT’s attitude is typical of the legacy left behind by LKY. If SMRT makes a generous compensation, people will throw themselves on to the MRT rails. If we have too generous welfare benefits, people will laze around and not work. If we have good health benefits, people will fall sick, get cancer and not take care of their health. If we don’t pay our civil servants and ministers the highest salaries, they become corrupt. If we don’t have the ISA, people will become militant. If we don’t have a meritocratic law of the jungle system, every Singaporean will become lazy and indolent. If we don’t bring the thousands and thousands of foreigners, Singapore will collapse and your mothers, wives and sisters will become maids. And the list goes on….. It just shows how much confidence LKY and the PAP has in its citizens! No other country in the world in all history has its leaders, as Singapore has, condemned, spoken derisively and rubbished its own citizens. This is the wonderful legacy that LKY has bequeathed to all Singaporeans! His money of course goes to his family and the ten generations of descendants after him.

One Eye Dragon In Your Pants:

Wow, so that’s what SMRT thinks of us. Money grubbing opportunists who would do anything (even getting our limbs amputated!) to get some compensation. Yeah, in their eyes, we are all lesser mortals who deserve nothing. Have they looked at themselves in the mirror lately? If only public transportation isn’t monopolized by SMRT & SBS, I would outright boycott their services.

Truth:

It is shameful that SMRT has such bad social grace to say such words of the public , implying the young Thai girl has a motive to lose her legs to get some money. Are we in some foreign lands where people sell their body organs to get some money ? Then why the need to say such unkind words of your commuters, to the effect that they would intrude on the SMRT tracks and implying try some antics to get some donation.

Lousy public relation, presenting a inhumane image of SMRT. These words are really mean and uncalled for.

Thought those infamous word ” opportunity to make money ” sent to the taxis after the breakdown of the trains last December was bad enough, and now these words. The SMRT never learn, or with a new PR people, has still not got its acts together again.

By the way, why is the PaaPa government making the common folks pay for upgrading and repairs bill $1.1 billion for the SMRT ? The Board of directors( past since 2002 )each receiving $200,000 annually and the chairman $500,000 should contribute their fees to the repair bills if they have some conscience. They failed in their duties as directors, and yet keep this money for private enjoyment . Shame on them, especially on Mr Chew Choon Seng, now chairman of SGX, who was the chairman of the board in 2002 that appointed a wrong unsuitable person to be CEO. They got away scot free, enjoying their director fees privately, but now the taxpayers have to bear with the cost of the repair , through no fault of theirs.

Today had reported that the ang moh FT I tot had joined SMRT had still not joined, and is unlikely to do so: Smart “Talent”. When you have a PR person, unapologetically, saying that $15,000 was an “unprecedented” offer to a girl who lost her legs; and that non-payment policy is to deter people from deliberately losing their limbs or lives  to get money from SMRT, it shows the kind of culture ( “choose not to board crowded trains” and “trains can be packed more” and “opportunity to make money” and “never ever damage SMRT property even if you are suffocating in a train that has stopped, and there is no electricity and you are left in the dark”) he would have to defend about if he signed on. Maybe the previous PR boss, an ex-army colonel, should reapply for his job?

He fits the culture to a “T”, blaming the bad English of the staff for them not communicating with the public. He was the person who also said that SMRT should never ever be damaged. Wonder why did he “move on” if he fitted the culture to a “T”. Goh Chee Kong approved comments like this.

Finally, we get to the title of this post:  SMRT is repositioning itself as an engineering company. I’ve commented on why this may be a bad idea: engineering companies tend to gold plate operations.

SMRT should think of itself as a “Mass Rapid Transit” biz: moving crowds of people quickly, in reasonable comfort and efficiently at low cost. Be like AirAsia, EasyJet or Ryanair, the best low cost airlines: decent customer service at lowish prices. And handicapped and elderly people: take a taxi if you are not happy with the service. Don’t bitch too much. Ryanair tells them in no uncertain terms, not to use it. It tells them there are alternatives.

 

SMRT: $15,000 not enough

In Infrastructure on 07/11/2012 at 7:26 am

Talk of bad PR.

When I read that the Thai gal sued SMRT, I didn’t think much of her case. I tot that she should have accepted reasonable compensation and moved on.

But when I read that SMRT says that its $15,000 offer was “unprecedented”, I tot what a dumb, mean company.

I don’t know waz a fair amount would be taking into account her injuries and that it isn’t SMRT’s fault. But $15,000 is not it. Its legal costs would easily exceed $100,000.

I had been looking to buy shares in SMRT, but I’ll give it a miss for the time being. Want to see if mgt changes are working.

Anyway, hopefully the FT brought in to replace an ex-SAF officer will do something to change SMRT’s bad record in public communications. The SAF officer said once “Better you die, than damage SMRT property”.  Ya I exaggerate, but that was the message he gave when a commuter smashed a glass panel to let air into a train stuck in a tunnel.

Circle Line: the unasked questions

In Infrastructure, Media, Political governance on 28/10/2012 at 6:06 pm

I’m writing this on Sunday evening.

On Saturday morning, I read that replacing the Circle Line ‘s power cables would take 18 months, beginning from January next year.

SMRT said the areas between Dhoby Ghaut and Dakota Stations are more problematic, compared with other parts of the network, as the cables sit in an area that is prone to water seepage from the ground.

SMRT’s executive vice president for trains, Khoo Hean Siang, said there are plans to replace all the cables.

He added: “We want to change out to a higher grade cable that can submerge, (be) more water resistant to make sure … the system will last for 20 to 30 years.” CNA report.

But neither, MediaCorp nor SPH reporters asked:

–  “The North-South Line only started giving serious problems last year. It was opened in 1987. Why is the Circle Line giving problems so soon?”

– “Given the newness of the line, first opened in 2009, and with the latest stations connected just last year, how come the electric cables need replacing so fast?”

– “Why were these cables used?”

– ” As the total cost was nearly S$10bn, not peanuts, by any measure, why were these cables chosen?

– “What other problems could possibly happen, given the cables gave problems much earlier than anticpated?”

– What is the cost of replacing the cables?

– Who is bearing the cost of replacing the cables? SMRT? Or the govt? If SMRT, will dividends be affected? Or will fares have to rise?

And neither did they ask these questions on Sunday. and my Secret Squirrels and Morocco Moles in both these constructive, nation-building media organisations, tell me that tonite’s programmes and tomorrow’s editions will not ask these questions.

These are the questions that the media should be asking. I’m sure PAP MPs  and Lina Chiam will be asking some of these question in parliament.  And I’m sure netizens are already asking these questions. But I’m sure the WP MPs will be silent. Too busy looking at their bank statements to see if the 30 pieces of silver ++ have been paid into their accounts? Taz what my disillusioned Morocco Mole in WP is wondering.

At the very least, S’poreans must be told why the decision to purchase a cable, now known to be sub standard, was made or allowed to be made? Was it an “honest mistake” by someone or an entire organisation, or an organisational failure, or was there corruption?

My very simplistic answer is that in the 1980s when the first lines were being built, one LKY was PM. No-one wanted to explain to him why the trains would not be running on time. The Circle Line was largely built when the PM was one Goh Chok Tong, and his DPM was one Lee Hsien Loong, today’s PM, his chosen successors. Whatever history may say about LKY, the train lines built when he was PM lasted over 20 years, before giving serious problems. Under his chosen successors, the Circle Line didn’t even last fault-free for five years.

Sometimes change is not for the better, even ifthuggish methods of management have been replaced by more civilised, possibly less effective, methods.  

And while there is no longer fear in the air the media breathes, the mental “knucklebusters” still remain in the minds of the media.

Cost effective ways of keeping us healthy?

In Infrastructure, Political economy on 17/10/2012 at 5:36 am

Yesterday, I read that the government is planning to do more to help the depressed and I remembered that I chanced across this (see below) response to an Economist blog piece on escalating medical costs in the developed world. It suggests (among other suggestions) adding various soluble drugs to the water Americans drink as a way of keeping healthcare costs down: one of the drugs is Prozac which is a drug that helps control mild clinical depression. Other drugs suggested are statins and aspirin.

Now that VivianB (a MD) is water minister, he may want to help out the Health minister. These measures seem to be in line with S’pore’s policy of spending as little as possible on health (around 4% of GDP) without upsetting economic efficiency or upsetting the masses compared say to Switzerland (around 8%).  And we already drink recycled water. LOL.

Seriously I hope the SDP looks into these suggestions. SDP has a very gd team of doctors helping out. (BTW what do these MDs have to say about:

this plug for govt health policy;

the latent flaw in any public health insurance scheme; or

innovative ways of helping the elderly in ways that don’t cost too much money?)

(Note writer below is talking of the US, where fluoride is already added to the water they drink. Always wondered why this doesn’t happen here.)

America comes up short in international comparisons of health statistics principally because life expectancy lags despite the highest spending for healthcare. For less than one dollar per capita , I propose Ten Inexpensive Health Interventions WILL Improve Health Outcomes. These will lengthen life expectancy, improve health, increase happiness and decrease dysfunctional behaviors.

We already fluoridate the water to prevent dental caries. And chlorinate to reduce bacteria. We can use the water supply as a medication distribution network by introducing very tiny or trace amounts of medicines that have been known to reduce major diseases.

1.) Simple cheap ASPIRIN dramatically cuts rates of Strokes, Heart Disease and now recently proven in a longitudinal study, reduces Cancer death rates by 20%! Put ASA in the water supply–if would be cheaper than fluoride.

2.) Put STATIN drugs in the water supply. Heart disease and stokes are declining for the first time in history. And it is despite the epidemics in Diabetes and Obesity. It is due to widespread use of effective anticholesterol drugs known as ‘statins.’ ie. Lipitor. High cholesterol is endemic and contributes to strokes and heart attacks. Just about everyone benefits from lower cholesterol.

3.) Water Born Oral VACCINES. Up to 30% of parents do NOT believe in the value of vaccinations and many act on this belief. Utilize water borne vaccinations in the water supply, such as the oral polio Sabin Vaccine. Put Folate in H20 to prevent neural tube defects in fetuses.

4.) PROZAC to decrease Dysfunctional Behaviors and improve Mental Health. Far more common than crime is non-criminal personal dysfunctions. Up to 40% of Americans will experience a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetime including Depression, Alcohol abuse, illicit Drug abuse, Anxiety disorder, PTSD, Obsession-Compulsion, Eating disorders. Half of these will remain undiagnosed. And love ones suffer by enduring the mental ill relative like an affliction. Virtually all these maladies would benefit from Prozac type drugs which increase brain serotonin neurotransmitter. It is a vital tool in psychiatry: ‘Vitamin P’. Put Prozac in the water supply and we will be less sad, less depressed and less dysfunctional. It will shrink dysfunctional behaviors, criminal behaviors, afflictions and addictions. It would save BILLIONS in the Criminal Justice System. Lead to more productive fulfilled citizens who are happier. Less alcohol and drug addictions. Less DUI, trauma and killing sprees.

5.) Perhaps an effective future drug to treat or prevent Diabetes or Obesity–put it in the water. We have a new Epidemic of Obesity never before seen in the history of civilization. All interventions have been stymied to reverse the epidemic. We have to be creative about how to address this problem. The water supply is a simple and effective vector that treats the entire population. Observe the effectiveness of fluoridation on cavities for pennies per capita per year.

6.) Ban Tobacco Products, the leading Preventable cause cancer deaths, heart attacks and strokes. It would cost nothing in health care but would literally overnight vault the US life expectancy over the #1. Japan.

7.) Restrict television broadcasts to 2 hours a night of quality programming from 8 pm to 10 pm. We get 24 hours of 1000 channels–98% is garbage programming. It would force Americans to find other more healthy forms of recreation like walking, exercising, reading and even talking with each other. We undersleep and spend 4-6 hours of waking hours watching TV.

8.) Make Supermarkets reflect a Vegetarian Diet. 80% of floor space for Produce. 10% for dairy. 10% for the meat department. Vegetarians live longer and are more active. We have to make it easier and more desirable to enjoy vegetables Likewise encourage walking, exercise, and activity.

9.) Tax Alcohol extremely regressively to the point that consumers have to hurt to make a purchase. They will value that little sip of brandy or Chardonnay even more. Make bottles much smaller at around 100 ml. Like a Coca Cola at the turn of the century: medical tonic amounts. Yes people can drink, but moderation(less than two drinks) is best.

10.) Milk-Based Nutrition/ Beverages. To increase calcium in young persons, make all flavored beverages and hydration drinks MILK BASED. A milk based Coca Cola. We will see taller, more active, healthier citizens. Perhaps the best way to combat osteoporosis in the elderly is fortifying bones in teen age girls. And using high impact sports like simple rope jumping. This will make a difference in the wide spread osteoporosis of the elderly. Your skeleton will thank you decades later.

This is a radically different way of thinking about Public Health, Medicine and Wellness.

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures.

Make Public Health medication an automatic feature by incorporating it into normal plumbing.

Let people OPT-OUT by buying their own water and we will have 95% participation.

We now have an OPT-IN system for medicine that is not working.

Healthcare delivery is a complex problem requiring smart solutions, but sometimes solutions can be as simple as fluoridating water. We need a Fluoridation System for the 21st Century.

SGX/ Bursa M’sia: Back to the future UPDATE

In Infrastructure on 06/09/2012 at 11:12 am

Err spoke too soon of returning to the old days. Today’s BT reports:

KEY questions about the long-delayed Asean trading link continue to confound investors even as the tie-up between the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and Bursa Malaysia (BM) is slated to finally begin in less than a fortnight.

Details about custody, costs and other operational matters are still unclear ahead of the Sept 18 launch, observers said. And while traders and investors on both sides of the border think the link could fly in the long term, no one, it seems, sees an immediate need for the change …  But the implication of the tie-up on basic operational details remains a mystery to many investors and professionals.

Sigh: SGX goofs again? Is SGX paying for Foreign Talents or Foreign Trash? The CEO is ang moh FT, while its president is Indian FT.

SGX/ Bursa M’sia: Back to the future

In Infrastructure on 06/09/2012 at 4:59 am

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) and Bursa Malaysia will once again be reconnected from September 18, allowing easy trading access to investors from both sides of the Causeway.

Thailand will join the system later.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/view/1223777/1/.html

I joined a stockbroking firm in S’pore in 1987. Then M’sian and S’porean shares were jointly listed. Then the two exchanges split and there was CLOB. Then in 1998, CLOB was closed.

While SGX’s FT CEO wanks, KL bags yet another mega IPO

In Infrastructure, Malaysia on 22/08/2012 at 5:30 am

1Malaysia Development Bhd., the state investment company known as 1MDB, plans to raise as much as $2 billion in an initial public offering of its power assets, Reuters reports. The IPO may take place in the first quarter of next year.

M’sia Boleh, what with Felda Global Ventures Holdings and IHH Healthcare completing two of the world’s three biggest IPOs this year. Companies have raised a combined US$5.1 billion in Kuala Lumpur this year, compared with US$2.9 billion in Hong Kong and US$2 billion in Singapore, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

SGX’s ang moh FT has yet to get on his own bat a mega IPO. Can only talk.

Related rant on ang moh tua kee: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/another-msian-mega-ipo-2/

Another M’sian mega IPO

In Infrastructure, Malaysia on 15/08/2012 at 9:58 am

MMC Corp has hired CIMB, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan and Maybank as the joint global coordinators of a US$ 1 bn IPO of its 51% of power unit, Malakoff Corp, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile SGX’s FT ang moh CEO has failed to attract mega IPOs here. M’sian stock exchange, no FTs there, has had a string of mega IPOs: Felda, IHH (also listed here but no thanks to FT ang moh), Astro (coming) and now this. One of leading bourses for IPOs this yr.

M’sia Boleh! And no FTs to teach locals how to do things.

How SMRT can spend more on maintenance while cont’d paying gd dividends

In Infrastructure on 13/08/2012 at 6:55 pm

Find sponsors for MRT stations Dubai style.

The station at Changi Int’l Airport can be renamed after Changi Airport, or SIA or any airline wanting publicity. Raffles City can be renamed after Robinsons or Westin. Raffles Place can be named after a bank sponsor while Temasek can sponsor Dhoby Gaut.

While new CEO as an ex-SAF chief and senior civil servant (also a scholar) should ensure that the trains run on time (in the early 20th century in the US, retired generals were in demand to run railwa s because the army like the railways were complex organisations), he might not be gd for profits. As I explained here, SMRT is now seeing itself as an engineering co, not a transport co, but problem is that engineers tend to gold-plate their operations.

Peril of being at the cutting edge of high tech, high frequency trading

In Financial competency, Infrastructure on 08/08/2012 at 6:08 am

Trading algorithms are potential weapons of mass destruction: here they blew up their creator.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/08/02/trying-to-be-nimble-knight-capital-stumbles/?nl=business&emc=edit_dlbkam_20120803

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/08/knight-capital-0

And here is SGX trying to encourage more of this type of trading here, which incidentally affects adversely (even if nothing goes wrong) other players esp retail investors. And meanwhile SGX is using SIAS to get heartlanders to play in the casino. I was present when Dr Goh Keng Swee called the stock market a casino.

Another gd reason for moving ministers around

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 27/07/2012 at 6:40 am

In this and this, I talked about one reason why moving ministers around was good: the new ministers can “move on” from their predecessors who because they were the ministers who made the decisions or who were otherwise responsible were in denial, or too defensive about their actions, couldn’t take remedial action: flood prevention measures, and public housing and transport problems. 

The news in the past week, about a major flood prevention project (see below), reminded me  of another reason: a minister who was a dud in another portfolio could turn out to have the skills needed in a new portfolio. VivienB is the person I have in mind. As welfare and sports minister, he was a flop: making fun of the elderly needy, and while refusing to spend more on them overspending wildly on the Kiddie Olympics.

But as water minister he dares to be decisive: approving an expensive but much needed project. PUB’s plans to build a diversion canal and detention tank at the Stamford Canal Catchment to better deal with intense storms. The cost has not been revealed but given that it involves construction work in the Orchard Road area, it will cost serious money.

Well VivianB is not afraid to give it his approval. If Yaacob had been in charge, senior PUB engineers tell me that he would still be thinking about it: asking if they could find cheaper ways of mitigating once in half a century floods that juz happened twice in two months in 2010. After all as an academic, he would say that the events of 2010 could be juz statistical flukes. If so, why spend money unnecessarily based on outliers?

And thinking about it, Yaacob is a good “information” minister. He took his time over introducing a Code of Conduct for bloggers. And now seems to have shelved idea for yhe time being.

We would not have liked it if he had been decisive and autocratic about it. And imagine the egg on the face of the government if he had acted decisively and forced the CoC down the collectively throat of netizens: a CoC that was modelled on the practices of the mainstream media; only for revelations to hit the fan that STOMP used paid “content providers” to pose as citizen journalists, one of them faked a news item, and for the STOMP content team to admit that they are FTs from China?

So PM, let’s move on to yr dad’s policy of moving ministers around and out. No more jobs for life that Goh Chok Tong and you seem to favour.

Reason WP quietly ditched its public tpt nationalisation call?

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 09/07/2012 at 7:01 am

(“Trying to serve residents better, WP ditches manifesto call nationalise public tpt?”)

My WP “Morocco Mole”* (the sidekick of  “Secret Squirrel” in the carton series: bit like Yaw to Low) tells me that at July’s parly seating, GG will again keep quiet on the above issue in the debate after the ministerial statement on the major disruption in the MRT system. Tells me no other WP MP will raise the issue of public tpt nationalisation, as this is GG’s responsibility.

He asked, “Why so cock, when the Commission of Inquiry’s findings  that SMRT was skimping on maintenance can be used to support WP’s election manifesto call to nationalise public transport? Also shows WP can think better than PAP.”

I referred him to this ST report, where it was reported that MPs are lobbying LTA  for better bus services in their wards: all because the $1.1 bn subsidy.

I told him since WP has appointed Ah Huat (remember him?) to co-ordinate its efforts for more buses to serve Hougang and Aljunied, it would be most awkward for him (and WP) to beg LTA, and SMRT and SBS to improve services in WP areas if the WP is publicly proposing to destroy their staffs’ rice bowls. It would have no leg to stand on.

His response, “Tan kuku. Even if Sylvia, Glenda and Angela (remember her?) perform [expletive deleted] on the LTA, SBS and SMRT male managers, and Show Mao [expletive deleted] the female managers, think that they will improve services in WP areas? Why WP so cock?” 

He has a point. SIGH (Victor Hugo: “A traitor always pays for his betrayal in the end.”)

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/hougang-only-up-to-a-point-lucky/

—-

*Moley is a WP cadre but not on the Central Executive Council,. He is ex-Barisan. He early last week told me that the WP had tabled only one question abt public transport (abt the release of the COI report). He is right. Which makes WP’s silence on this issue more deafening. Look at the topics raised: what the public wants raised for the most.

ASEAN trading platform: Yet another delay

In Infrastructure on 05/07/2012 at 5:46 am

The launch of a proposed cross-border electronic trading link for South-east Asian stock exchanges has been delayed as the participating bourses are still testing the technology and driving investor awareness, according to a joint statement issued on Tuesday.

“The ASEAN Exchanges is currently in the midst of firming up the launch date of the ASEAN Trading Link that is ideal and amenable to the members of the ASEAN Exchanges and its stakeholders,” the statement from the exchanges in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam said.

The stock exchanges had signed a preliminary pact in February 2009 to develop cross-border trading links to cut costs and attract investment. The launch of the trading link – a common platform to enable cross-border order routing and trading across seven exchanges in the six countries – had initially been planned for last month, after it had been delayed from last year, if my memory is correct. 

In May, Bursa Malaysia Chief Executive Tajuddin Attan said the ASEAN link will begin with the stock exchanges in Malaysia and Singapore in July, with the Thai bourse joining in August.

Indonesia: Talking cock is not helpful, helpful

In Indonesia, Infrastructure on 13/06/2012 at 7:32 am

Work on a new deepwater port for container ships on an island between Batam and Bintan is set to begin next year, creating a potential rival to Singapore’s port. The port, on Tanjung Sauh, aims to be a major transshipment center for Indonesia, and is part of the country’s overhaul of its transport infrastructure to cope with growing domestic demand.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/05/21/deepwater-port-near-batam-set-rival-singapore.html

Well in 2005, Indonesia annced a major expansion of the port on Batam. It even awarded a contract to a French company. Err nothing ever happened. Wonder if this time, it will be anything different. And remember that Batam has one unused int’l airport. It was built to rival S’pore’s airport in the late 1970s.

Readers will know I’m bullish on Indonesia. But that is despite, not because, of its officials or the government planning agencies.

But here’s one talking cock project that works: using social media to help farmers get info they need http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18193993

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