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More Nebula

In Uncategorized on 22/04/2013 at 5:05 am

EagleEagle Nebula (Esa)

Pillars of CreationEagle Nebula (Esa)

Proven e-ideas that the Opposition can use

In Uncategorized on 22/04/2013 at 4:56 am

In S’pore the PAP, and its co-driver, the WP, relies on volunteers or bodies (remember Palmer’s Laura Ong and Stag Yaw’s XXX) walking the ground to bring in the votes. The other opposition parties need an equaliser (juz like the Colt revolver supposedly equalised the balance in fights in the Wild West). They could try the following ideas.

The DAP is doing this in Penang (from a Dow Jones report): Acknowledging that the DAP has been heavily outspent by BN on its home turf, DAP’s Assistant National Publicity Secretary Zairil Khir Johari said on Tuesday that his party is counting on social media to narrow its financial disadvantage and court a critical segment of active voters.

“The DAP is at the forefront of Facebook penetration,” Mr Zairil said. “We’re talking about 12 million Facebook accounts in Malaysia, and pretty much every young adult has one. Not all of them watch television. So we’re targeting Facebook and we’re doing it aggressively.”

The Internet has been a critical fund-raising and canvassing resource for the opposition as a means of circumventing tight government controls over traditional news media.

The DAP says it does not have the resources to fund conventional ad space. But on Facebook, it has rolled out 17 videos, a series of online flyers and other advertisements to reinforce traditional walkabouts and “ceramahs”, a Malay term meaning campaign road-shows.

So far, its Internet presence eclipses that of the ruling party. As of Wednesday, the DAP had 319,251 Facebook “likes” versus the BN’s 52,968. On Twitter, the DAP counts 25,141 followers, while the BN had 14,745.

But the DAP is worried that this may not be enough. The party enjoyed a stealth advantage in 2008 because the BN did not expect to lose and was caught unprepared, Mr Zairil said. This time, it is visibly muscling up.

Well the SDP and NSP might as well try the above tactics given their lack of physical presence on the ground. But the NSP has to built up its on-line presence from near zero. And the co-driver might  want to try these tactics too as a force multiplier. But then it might prefer to be a co-driver, and hoping to share the goodies in a coalition (refer to Pritam’s comments).

Here’s something that one of the wannabe leaders without spear and shield carriers (like Tan Kin Lian, Tan Jee Say, s/o JBJ, Ben Pwee) might want to think about: A citizens’ movement mounting an increasingly serious challenge to the Italian political establishment has chosen its candidates for parliament in an unprecedented online vote.

Supporters of the Five Star Movement* made their selection from among 1,400 activists.

Each prospective candidate posted a campaign video in which they introduced themselves.

They set out what they stood for and what they would do if elected on behalf of the movement in polls that are scheduled for the spring.

It is believed to be the first time that a political organisation anywhere has conducted this kind of selection process entirely on the web.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20643620

At the very least, this would get some publicity.

Here’s something up TKL’s street (remember before he became the People’s Voice, he was called by ST the “petition king”::

Sites which allow citizens to draft e-petitions for their pet causes are mushrooming. Politicians in Germany created one of the earliest, in 2005, and dozens of countries have followed, most of them within the past three years. America’s “We the People” is perhaps the most successful. Since its launch in 2011 citizens have created nearly 180,000 petitions; since November the total number of signatures has tripled to almost 12m.

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21574454-internet-helps-politicians-listen-better-their-electors-if-they-want-processing

Finally here’s an idea the internet savvy SDP might want to play with e.g. testing its public housing and healthcare proposals.

About 1,500 cities, including Chicago and, last year, New York, have also enlisted the public in setting budgeting priorities. In 2012 around a million citizens took part in the annual budgeting process in Rio Grande do Sul, the Brazilian state which also hosted the first such event, in the town of Porto Alegre, in 1989.

In 2011 the state governor collected 1,300 ideas for improving local health care, and then let citizens vote for their 50 favourites; 120,000 people took part. The voting software presented ideas in pairs; users could pick the one they preferred.

Actually, the govt might want to use this idea for NatCon topics to gauge public sentiment.

(The last two examples came from http://www.economist.com/news/international/21574454-internet-helps-politicians-listen-better-their-electors-if-they-want-processing)

But For all the talk about new digital technology, the real secret was finding new ways to do something old-fashioned: to talk to voters. The trick was to use new techniques for helping volunteers to find people like them. Taz how Team Obama did it in the US.

At a meeting of Battleground Texas, a new grassroots organising effort started by the former national field director for the 2012 Obama campaign, Jeremy Bird, and run by the Ohio 2012 campaign boss, Jenn Brown. Addressing a packed union hall in Austin, Ms Brown told the crowd that the project ahead of them might take until 2020, and would involve registering, persuading and turning out millions of voters. But here is how we did it in Ohio, she explained. For all the talk about new digital technology, the real secret was finding new ways to do something old-fashioned: to talk to voters. The trick was to use new techniques for helping volunteers to find people like them.

The old way of organising involved hiring 250 field organisers. On a given day before an election they might knock on 50 doors each, meaning that they knocked on 12,500 doors. The new method refined and rolled out by Team Obama in 2012 involves one paid field organiser organising perhaps five neighbourhood team leaders. Each of those volunteer team leaders might then recruit eight volunteers, recruited from a particular neighbourhood. They might all be parents from a single school catchment area, or people with similar work backgrounds or interests.

Miss Brown then clicked on her next slide. With 250 such organisers, overseeing five neighbhourhood team leaders, marshalling eight volunteers each, you can knock on 500,000 doors. It is, she noted cheerfully, “unbelievably exponential”. Nor is this a theoretical finding. On each of the last four weekends before the 2012 election, Miss Brown’s Ohio campaigners “talked physically” to 100,000 voters. That is the same as President Barack Obama’s Ohio margin of victory.

Numbers alone do not win elections. None of this is to dismiss the importance of policies and candidates. But these are numbers that grab the attention.

(Extract from an otherwise irrelevant Economist blog)

*In Italy, the Five Star Movement holds the balance of power. As the BBC describes it “Led by its guiding star, the comedian-turned politician Beppe Grillo, it was born and bred on the internet.

But it emerged from the web and took its argument into town squares all over Italy.”

Horsehead Nebula

In Uncategorized on 21/04/2013 at 6:42 am

Horsehead NebulaHubble's new view of the Horsehead Nebula

The “wrong” or “mistake” that the STTA is trying to put right

In Uncategorized on 18/04/2013 at 5:20 am

When TRE republished this, there were the usual rants, comments against the PAP, govt and Lee Bee Wah.But this is a view worth thinking about

Scrap DSA:

Time to scrap DSA* to elitist top schools like RI.
Many parents use this loop-hole to get an elitist education, the elitist schools get to boast about their sporting achievement.
Once they hit uni, no more sports for them.
What have we achieve in decades of DSA—empty handed.
Still importing sports-persons from PRC.
Solution–huge expansion of sports school. Only those who wants to pursue sports-related career need apply.

[Note under this scheme, good athletes can use their prowess to get into elite schools despite lower academic grades: not a popular scheme for pushy parents of book-worms and the sports school.]

Still, trying to fix a malfunctioning system, doesn’t justify trying to load the dice in favour of weaker players: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Remember the 77 sway lang:

… I don’t know what connection that boy Edric Lim who was recently being nominated for the Asian Youth Games has with Ah Huay’s people but being beaten recently by a RI boy in the Inter-school competition, it’s obvious he’s not the best paddler.

And our money is wasted on full-time trainees who lose to part-timers, as these TRE readers point-out.

Sports School or Play School ?:

Don’t main main bring your Malaysian Bumiputra policy into Singapore Table Tennis ! Meritocracy means only the best players should be selected for competitions, with no special treatment for Sports School players. What’s so great about Sports School players ? They train day and night like full professionals, yet can’t beat RI whose players play table tennis just for ECA. Who has got more talent ?

Dick her mouth:

… If those players in the Sports School (who spend most of their time training, almost like professional layers) can’t even beat players in mainstream schools, what talent have they got ? Did they pay their way into the Sports school, under our pay and pay system ?

It’s a complex issue.

STTA and Lee Bee Wah (in particular) should try to change the system whereby good athletes can get points in lieu of less than sterling results to get into elite schools, at least for ping-pong. But then I suppose that that’s too tough for a mere MP.

Better to bully, push around pushy parents of good ping-pong players who aspire for academic excellence.

Maybe the solution is to encourage ping-pong players who can get into elite schools an incentive to opt for the Sports School? Provide special education facilities to help them excel in their studies?

People who deserve tax-payers’ help & those who don’t

In Uncategorized on 17/04/2013 at 6:09 am

Uncle Leong wrote this http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/01/how-do-needy-medical-students-cope-with-100k-tuition-fee/: not all the poor medical students get help. Good point to counter govt spin on it helping less well-off S’poreans get a uni education.

But it’s a lousy example to use because once the doctors qualify dollars rain on them.

Remember, the losing PAP candidate at Punggol East? According to the constructive, nation-building media, he was a poor  Punggol boy made good via his medical studies. He makes so much $ that he forgot that a two-car family even among professionals is not that common. He tot it was the norm! Bet you he thinks a Mercedes SL and a Porsche SUV and a District 10 bungalow are standard for a professional couple.

And look at the staff car parks at S’pore General Hospital: full of BMWs, Lexus and Mercedes. Can’t be admin staff or nurses? While there are many issues for doctors to consider whether to remain in govt service, they can earn five figure salaries after a few yrs of service.

Poor medical students will have monetary problems (like all poor people), but once they become doctors, the world is their oyster.

What what about this chap? http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/09/angry-man-sells-house-to-finance-daughters-medical-studies-overseas/: His daughter is going to make serious money, either here or abroad, when she qualifies: so why the sense of entitlement? This despite her lack of four As, but he demands that she shld get into  NUS medical school because it would mean he doesn’t have to sell his flat to finance her studies. I know of kids who have four As who can’t get in. Yet their parents don’t bitch. They get on with financing their kids.

But his sense of entitlement is nothing compared to this guy who bot his son a car for son’s use during NS http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/09/open-letter-to-lawrence-wong-i-cant-sell-my-sons-car/: He has plenty of money, so sit down and shut up.

The ones who need our sympathy and help are those caught in the cycle of despair like http://keizng.com/confessions-of-a-food-court-cleaner/. And the three examples here http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/09/sdp-only-interested-to-make-life-better-for-singaporeans/ cited by SDP (no not ex-millionaire Fandi, or once well-off Terry*).

The cleaner and the three examples cited by the SDP are people who are unable to help themselves: they are like people who need wheel-chairs but don’t have them because they can’t afford them.

They need and deserve tax-payers’ funding to lead dignified but frugal lives because they are unable to help themselves.

Now back to those who don’t deserve tax-payers’ money. Fandi, Terry, the guy who can’t sell his car, the chap who invests in his daughter, and poor medical students are Singaporeans who are in a position to help themselves lead the good life: even a luxurious life.

The two wo guys financing their kids’ overseas studies seem to be bitching that they are entitled to gold and ivory, electrical-powered  wheel-chairs at the expense of other S’poreans. This seems to sum them up:

Chong Pei Lin:

People who are anti-PAP carry personal grievances. If their kids cannot get into a good school, it is the govt’s fault. They will never admit that their kids are not good enough for that school. If the MRT is crowded, it is the govt fault. They will never admit that trains in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai are crowded too during peak hours when everyone is going to work or knocking off from work all at the same time.

*They by all accounts still live well, certainly better than the three cases and the cleaner. And going by what they said, Terry and Fandi bitched to the constructive, nation-building media about the SDP story, ’cause the SDP didn’t give them any goodies for using their name in vain? They forget that the local media does that too, to sell newspapers. Yet they don’t mind. But when the SDP tries to explain its policies (and misguidedly used their names in a good cause), they are upset. and Fandi is consulting his lawyers with a view to suing the SDP.

What is the STTA afraid of? Losing face if its proteges lose?

In Uncategorized on 10/04/2013 at 5:39 am

The Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) has changed its selection process* for the 2013 Asian Youth Games (AYG) and 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) following pushy parents’ and the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC)’s objections. The latter had queried the STTA on its nomination process, pointing out, according to ST, that there were other players who were ranked higher than the nominees in the International Table Tennis Federation’s under-18 rankings.

But, as I see it, STTA is still fixing the selection process to get what it wants: preference for its Sports School proteges. Five out of the nine places on the training squad for thesegames are reserved for students from this school. Twenty main stream students have to fight for the remaining four places.

Yet STTA President Lee Bee Wah had the brazen balls to say: “I want to show that the STTA is prepared to be open and transparent about the selection process, and will do so based on merit and have the best represent Singapore.”

“On merit”? Sounds like the M’sian way to me. Give favoured people special privileges. This is not meritocracy.

She went on: “At the same time, we want to emphasise the long-term investment in the Sports School and SWS as the preferred developmental pathway for locals who want to commit themselves and excel in the sport.” So its all about protecting STTA’s patronage interests, is it? Typical M’sian, PRC attitude.

She does on. “While it is true that this doesn’t guarantee success, those who choose the sports school have a better chance of success with an environment that is conducive for training and overseas tournaments.

‘We recognise that there are talented athletes in mainstream schools, and we also will help them pursue their aspirations. But there are practical constraints in that the curriculum of a mainstream school may not accommodate a rigorous training schedule for top-flight competition.”  Today

If STTA thinks that its rigorous training schedule is so impt to success, prove it: let those in the Sports School who can follow it compete with those who can’t. If STTA is right, gd for it. If not, back to the drawing board, albeit with loss of face. Let the results speak for themselves.

Seems STTA is afraid its “favoured’ players will lose, despite all the intensive training.

One can only hope the SNOC refuses to accept this farce of a selection process.

For those who oppose the PAP, the good thing, is that it shows the lie to the PAP claim that it believes in meritocracy., and that S’pore is a meritocracy. Here is a PAP FT MP who gives two fingers to “have the best represent Singapore.”

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/ft-pap-mp-does-not-believe-in-meritocracy/

——

*[T]he STTA said it has revised its selection process for both events. For the YOG, nine places in the squad will be open to six boys and three girls aged 13 to 17, but they must commit to a 30-hour weekly training regimen that includes sparring sessions with the national team twice a week, or a 20-and-a-half-hour programme.

Those who choose the shorter programme must commit for three years but will not be able to train with the national players due to scheduling conflicts.

While five spots will be reserved for SWS students, 20 national youth team paddlers will be invited for trials to fill the remaining four places (two boys, two girls). Today

These nine will then compete in a round-robin contest to determine the best boy and girl to represent Singapore at the AYG.

SDP lost the plot on Fandi Ahmad article

In Uncategorized on 07/04/2013 at 5:29 am

How come other ex-millionaires who face or go thru hard times because they screwed up or were plain unlucky (or both) don’t get the sympathy that this ex-millionaire gets from SDP?

SDP was trying to be too clever by half: Nowhere in the article, which can be read here, did we say – or give the impression – that Mr Fandi and Mr Pathmanathan had endorsed our policies. True up to a point. But this post on TRE gets it about right in its criticism of the SDP: I like SDP, really. but in this case I am very disappointed with their post relating to fandi.

It is lame excuse to say that they are not using fandi to pursue their political objective. Personally I like their alternative plan, but it is WRONG to make use of fandi’s name to propagate their views.

In life things go wrong all the time and people, including celebrities are not immune.

So if SDP’s line of excuse is allowed, than any advertiser of any product can simply quote, if xxxx had bought my product, this misfortune yyy would not happen…blah blah blah. Advertisers will just wait and see for yyy to happen and then jump in.

How can one be so dishonest as to borrow the fame of another person and take advantage of his misfortune in order to propagate a message?

The constructive, nation-building New Paper had got some things right in its criticism on SDP’s article.

Why English humour is tua kee

In Humour, Uncategorized on 04/04/2013 at 7:21 am

April Fools Day: 10 stories that look like pranks but aren’t

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21993582

Justice in US?

In Uncategorized on 04/04/2013 at 6:57 am

(This posting went AWOL for a few weeks).

Interesting that a true blue S’porean co has to go to the US to seek damages for something done to it in S’pore.

Justice Belinda Ang Saw Ean dismissed an application by the US investment bank to make permanent an interim injunction that it had secured against Hong Leong Finance … the Singapore company can proceed with its lawsuit to claw back from Morgan Stanley more than US$32 million paid out to compensate Pinnacle Notes investors.

BT understands that the investment bank has appealed the High Court’s decision and applied for the appeal to be heard on an expedited basis. Excerpt from BT

The Lone Ranger was black

In Uncategorized on 24/03/2013 at 1:42 pm

The Lone Ranger, for example, is believed to have been inspired by Bass Reeves, a black lawman who used disguises, had a Native American sidekick and went through his whole career without being shot.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21768669

But somehow John Ford got it right even though John Wayne was white.

The 1956 John Ford film The Searchers, based on Alan Le May’s novel, was partly inspired by the exploits of Brit Johnson, a black cowboy whose wife and children were captured by the Comanches in 1865. In the film, John Wayne plays as a Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his niece who has been abducted by Indians.

FT PAP MP does not believe in meritocracy

In Uncategorized on 24/03/2013 at 6:35 am

(Amended to reflect my mistake. She is no longer in PM’s GRC, she is in Yishun)

So the S’pore National Olympic Council has taken the ping-pong association (president of the STTA is one Lee Bee Wah, a PAP FT MP) for selecting players for the forthcoming Asian Youth Games later this yr who were not chosen on merit possibly not the best players. There are “better”players (based on international rankings) than its favoured players, both from the S’pore Sports School. SNOC wants a trial. (SunT, second last page)

Lee Bee Wah and the ping-pong association have form in this refusal to accept that only the best should represent S’pore: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/pm-pls-tell-stta-that-spore-is-a-meritocracy/. It later changed its policy articulated in the link.

Now she and the STTA are at it again, trying to fix things for not-so-good players.

As she is an MP in the PM’s GRC, her continued refusal to accept that “meritocracy” is part of the S’porean way of life and doing things, is a snub (akin to slapping the PM’s face) to the PM. It also reflects badly on the PM who keeps stressing that S’pore is a meritocracy and that opportunities are open to all on the basis of merit.

She thinks she is “tua kee”, is it? Juz because PM is a nice guy? His dad would have crushed her balls for her presumptions.

Asean is impt

In Uncategorized on 19/03/2013 at 6:25 am

According to its latest figures, more than 50% of its [Asean's] total trade in 2011 took place within the Asean member nations or with China, Japan and South Korea.

The US and EU accounted for less than 25% share.

And analysts project Asean to be an even bigger driver of regional growth in the coming years.

IHS Global Insight has forecast the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the ASEAN bloc to rise from $2.3 trillion in 2012 to $10 trillion by 2030.

“Asean will become another locomotive of Asian growth,” says IHS Global Insight’s Mr Biswas.

At the same time, some analysts point to another trend which they say is playing a key role in driving consumer demand in other, relatively smaller Asian nations.

“As wages rise in China, many companies are setting up factories in other countries such Vietnam and Cambodia,” explains Mr Rein of the China Market Research Group.

Mr Rein explains that as firms set up facilities in those countries, more people are finding new and in some cases better-paying jobs.

“That is creating a whole new middle class in those countries, with more disposable incomes,” he says …

There are fault lines emerging in the political situation in various countries,” says Mr Biswas of IHS Global Insight.

“A lot of Asia’s future momentum will depend on stronger regional political co-operation.”

At the same time, analysts say that while the region’s economies have become less dependent on the US and EU, they have become increasingly reliant on China.

They warn that a sharp slowdown in the Chinese economy was likely to have a big impact on the region’s overall growth.

There had been fears of a big decline in China’s growth last year. While those fears have abated for now, analysts say it is a threat that nations need to be wary of.

“It is a fairly minimal risk, but it is a risk you have to account for,” says Mr Rein of China Market Research Group.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21737875

TOC rebooted?

In Uncategorized on 18/03/2013 at 7:08 am

TOC is starting to look like S’pore Auntie (S’pore Gal gone middle-age). But the coverage (including analysis) of the SMRT strike, the  Punggol East by-election and the Population White Paper debate rejuvenated TOC. But the effects didn’t last long.  The problem is that these events don’t happen all the time.

Most of the time, TOC’s main stories are reprints of the articles of people like Uncle Leong (he is getting to dominate: yesterday I counted that of the nine main stories on the front page, six are by him. But maybe he is stepping in as interim editor, something he has done before), Gentrified Citizen and others: usually good, uplifting stuff. But these writers are established bloggers with their own well-visited blogs and are also republished on TRE(which is the aggregator for the rabble, mob masses). True TOC is more discriminating (the Cynical Investor has never ever been republished on TOC), but TRE has the eyeballs, and the commenters. Some of the comments on my stuff that TRE republishes are gems.

Meanwhile, TOC’s original stuff are usually stale retreads. There are now more than enough pajama-clad warriors churning out that kind of stuff: that waz not case when TOC started. Also the process of creating and maintaining a blog has become so much easier. And there is Sg Daily to help publicise interesting articles that might otherwise not get the attention they deserve.

Maybe TOC, should given its successes in covering and analysing “big events”, think of repositioning itself as a periodical “magazine” than a daily, focusing on quality stuff such as “Dubious footnotes in the Population White Paper”, and reportage and analysis of big events, rather than publicising mindlessly variations of the “PAP are bastards” theme. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” and “Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us” come to mind.

To keep the eyeballs coming daily, develop a blog that the Core Team and friends of TOC like Andrew, Kum Hong, Ravi, Yadav, Eric, Kumaran, Uncle Leong, Ghui, Josh etc can contribute “tweets” on their takes of the news of the day. And invite selected PAP politicians, Opposition activists (WP’s JJ , and TJS, and TKL come to mind), social activists (Lynn Lee, Gilbert Goh say) and prominent figures like Dr Tan Cheng Bock. to contribute. I’m sure s/o JBJ would swallow his pride and ask to join in, even though he has rowed with TOC* (as he has with almost everyone he has worked with in politics). BTW, I’ve told TRE that I’m waiting for s/o JBJ to row with TRE.

Experiment TOC, experiment. Rejuvenate yrself.

Keep the brand not only alive, but relevant, entertaining and edgy. Remember that zombies too are alive: they are living dead.

*He once so dominated TOC’s front page that I asked Siow Kum Hong if he had taken over control of TOC, or if he was paying ad fees. In either case, TOC should make an announcement.

Alternative to FTs II

In Uncategorized on 17/03/2013 at 7:58 am

One reason why we are supposed to need 15-25,000 New Citizens  a year is because their sons have to do NS. Apparently, S’pore is running out of S’porean-born males that can be forced to provide cheap labour for things like National Day Parade, F1, the Kiddie Games etc. Or to defend S’pore on the cheap

Err what about robots for the latter task?

[T]he scientific literature has raised the possibility of armed robots, programmed to behave like locusts or other insects that will swarm together in clouds as enemy targets appear on the battlefield. Each member of the robotic swarm could carry a small warhead or use its kinetic energy to attack a target.

Peter W Singer, an expert in the future of warfare at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, says that the arrival on the battlefield of the robot warrior raises profound questions.

“Every so often in history, you get a technology that comes along that’s a game changer,” he says. “They’re things like gunpowder, they’re things like the machine gun, the atomic bomb, the computer… and robotics is one of those.”

“When we say it can be a game changer”, he says, “it means that it affects everything from the tactics that people use on the ground, to the doctrine, how we organise our forces, to bigger questions of politics, law, ethics, when and where we go to war.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21576376

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/alternative-to-fts/

HSBC lords it over its peers in Asia

In Banks, Uncategorized on 14/03/2013 at 3:01 pm

StanChart also does well in Asia (wholesale banking profits in Asia rose 10% over 2010-12). but it is a minnow compared to these banks.

And investment banks are looking increasingly for deals in Asean region. In the IPO league table in 2012with KL at 5th place and HK at 4th. SGX with two FTs leading it was nowhere.

Alternative to FTs

In Uncategorized on 12/03/2013 at 5:39 am

Robots.

S’pore wants to be high-tech centre. But where are the S’pore equivalents of

– The computer scientist and psychologist Noel Sharkey has, however, found 14 companies in Japan and South Korea that are in the process of developing childcare robots.

South Korea has already tried out robot prison guards, and three years ago launched a plan to deploy more than 8,000 English-language teachers in kindergartens.

– At just 130cm high, Honda’s Asimo jogs around on bended knee like a mechanical version of Dobby, the house elf from Harry Potter. He can run, climb up and down stairs and pour a bottle of liquid in a cup.

Since 1986, Honda have been working on humanoids with the ultimate aim of providing an aid to those with mobility impairments.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21623892.

And the govt’s plans to move into space dovetails with robotics are man is becoming redundant in space. Robots are leading the way there. Man is just a passenger. In the early days of the space race between the US and USSR, America’s finest (its test pilots) were reluctant to become astronauts because they tot the job entailed being “a monkey with a stick”. They weren’t that wrong.

Contrast HSBC with StanChart

In Banks, Uncategorized on 10/03/2013 at 6:16 am

Both were narco banks. They were founded in the 19th century to finance the trade in opium between British India and Manchu China. They moved on with HSBC becoming one of the biggest banks in the world while StanChart remained like HSBC, once was, a an emerging markets bank. But HSBC returned to its roots: HSBC was fined for providing help to the Mexican drug cartels (bank counters were made bigger to facilitate the handing over of bank notes). StanChart was fined for a technical offence.

HSBC’s Profit Fell 17% in 2012 on Money Laundering Fine. HSBC has since hired the former chief of the US Treasury department’s sanction unit to assist with compliance.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/bang-balls-temasek-haters-standard-chartereds-profit-rises-despite-u-s-fine/

 

 

Err why must S’poreans prove anything, Managing Editor of SPH?

In Media, Political governance, Uncategorized on 06/03/2013 at 6:44 am

On 24th February, SunT’s headline on its regular column by SPH’s Managing Editor* screamed: “Who’s out of touch – our leaders or people?”. In slightly smaller lettering,” S’poreans have to also prove that they are not a mollycoddled lot who have forgotten the realities of making a living in this competitive world and how this country made it against the odds.”

It irritated me for three reasons. The obvious one is that S’poreans already know “the realities of making a living in this competitive world”: in the last few years, they have had to put up with minimal increases in real income, escalating property prices** and inflation caused in part by the government’s very liberal immigration policies, amidst  turbulent economic conditions. The immigration policies that only now are being revised: not to reverse the situation, mind you, just  to slow the growth of FTs from the cattle-truck load to a lorry-load. I didn’t say this, Grace Fu said this when she blasted WP’s plans to limit FTs.

The second reason is that he seems to have forgotten that the govt had already admitted that ordinary S’poreans neede income rises: the issue was how to achieve it. On 25 February, Tharman announced the Budget and he said later, “And if you can’t raise incomes for the average person, for the median household and for those at the lower end of the wage ladder, your society frays.”

The third reason, it irritated me is is the unspoken assumption (which he may not even realise he made) that S’poreans are not sovereign: we have to answer to a higher authority. And this authority grades us to see whether our views are acceptable or not. If not acceptable, go get locked up under ISA, is it Mr Managing Editor?

This assumption is best explained by Alex Au in this and Dr Jothie Rajah (the first wife of our Law Minister, according to Kum Hong)

It is here that Rajah brings up a novel point. Very often, the PAP in its defence alludes to how Singapore’s legal and political system is descended from Britain. This is used as yet another bullet point in support of ‘rule of law’ legitimacy. But she points out that in many ways, our laws are not descended from Britain. They are instead descended from colonial rule, and colonial rule is inherently illiberal. Colonial governments did not rule over citizens; they ruled over subjects. Colonial governors did not submit themselves to election nor permit much political contestation; they enacted laws such as the Internal Security Act and the Sedition Act meant to control rebellion, and they saw themselves as the enlightened and civilised few sent here to protect the natives who could not be trusted to see their own best interests, grasp the facts or even understand the complex issues of the day.

The examples she studied and presented in her book all have a similar character. She thus argues that

The nation-state has adopted the colonial legal regime in a manner that renders the nation-state a neo-colonising entity, subordinating and infantilising citizen-subjects.

Coming back to Mr Managing Editor: with an ally like this, the PAP and PM must be wondering, “Who needs enemies?”

————–

*His picture reminds me of one of Philip K Dick’s Unusuals in “Our Friends from Frolix 8″. The Ususuals ruled the solar system.

**Mah Bow Tan even ensured that property prices flew in a recession.http://atans1.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/property-prices-mm-lee-is-too-modest/

How to make a school good?

In Uncategorized on 04/03/2013 at 4:45 pm

With the A-level results out, the above is a relevant question.

The boffins at the Urban Education Institute (UEI) in Chicago have written an exemplary book on school improvement. They looked at 100 elementary schools that showed progress in attendance and test scores over a seven-year period, and 100 others that did not. They argue—with quantitative data—that five essential pillars are needed to build a great school. These are: effective school leadership, collaborative teachers (with committed staff and professional development), parent-community ties, a student-centered (and safe) learning climate with high expectations, and ambitious and demanding instruction. (From an Economist blog).

On this critera, any neighbourhood school can aspire and be a good school. Of course, I’m defining “good” to include more than juz prodicing students capable of four As or the equivalent at O-levels.

BTW, an interesting UK school: The academy will allow students aged from 14 to 19 to specialise in engineering and science alongside core subjects in English, mathematics, languages and business.

It will offer young people the chance to work with leading engineering firms and businesses, including Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce, National Grid, Eon and Goodrich, using a staff/student ratio of one to 10 for practical sessions.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-19491790

 

Thailand downgraded by US broker

In Uncategorized on 02/03/2013 at 7:20 am

Morgan Stanley downgraded Thailand equities to ‘underweight’ from ‘equal weight’, reflecting its expensive valuation and overbought technical indicators. It’s been up 12% in US$ terms this yr, 9% in the local currency.

The downgrade put Thailand into the broker’s list of underweight-rated countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. The broker had ‘equal weight’ for Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Thailand is expensive in terms of all the valuation measures we use in the model: P/B, Z-Score of P/E, and dividend yield,” Morgan Stanley said in its Asia/Global Emerging Markets report dated Feb 27.

“Thailand has outperformed the MSCI EM by more than 8 per cent YTD 2013, which makes its technical factors like price reversal and RSI unattractive,” it said.

Not enough interesting ASEAN news this week for the usual Asean round-up.

Budget debate: No more Wayang pls WP

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 27/02/2013 at 6:06 am

(Esp since govt stops Wayang on COEs and properties)

I was surprised to learn from DPM Teo last yr, that the WP MPs voted in favour of the 2012 Budget. Given the passion that they spoke against things they didn’t like about the 2012 Budget, I had tot that they would abstain. Voting against the Budget would be expecting too much of a party that sees itself as a “co-driver” with the possibility of sharing the driving one day (Dream on Baiyee).

Still I tot that abstaining would be a principled stand (Not opposing for the sake of opposing), that reflects the realities: there are gd bits, and any way PAP will win the vote. But support the Budget was two-faced by any standard, especially given that there were strong speeches against bits of the Budget. (And talking of two-faced, Baiyee and Auntie voted for the govt’s bill changing the law on mandatory capital punishment, after waxing impassionately against it).

So come the time, I expect the WP to be principled: either abstain or vote against the govt’s Budget. I’m of course assuming that there are things in the Budget that the WP strongly disagrees with. If the WP has only minor quibbles, and supports the Budget, in general, I expect it to say so openly, loudly, and to vote for the Budget. Don’t attack it, and then support it. In short, no more Wayang please.

The WP MPs should show us that they got balls they can walk the talk, not talk cock sing song. For the latter, we got PAP MPs like Inderjit Singh. The voters of Punggol East and Aljunied did not vote for WP MPs, only to discover that they voted for PAP clones who dress in light blue.

Penultimately, PritamS had a great suggestion for the govt that he should suggest to WP Low. Practice what you preach: set an example.

“Member of Parliament (MP) Pritam Singh has asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to better highlight Singapore’s stand on controversial issues.
He said this was not only to solicit public feedback, but also to remove the chance for misunderstandings among the public to occur on such matters.” CNA on 4 February 2013.

The WP should better highlight WP’s stand (and voting record in Parliament where applicable) on controversial or complicated issues to remove the chance for misunderstandings among the public to occur on such matters.

Finally, nice to see that the govt has stopped its wayanging on inflation caused by COEs and property rentals (Remember Tharman’s and Hng Kiang’s,”Inflation? What inflation? Don’t rent, no new car, no inflation leh.”) Why did it  take the govt so long to introduce these measures http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1256373/1/.html. I also like the new car financing measures. Shumething should be done similarly on residential property financing, other than first homes. SLimit the loans to 10 years, given that interest rates are low.

Update: WP groupie JG (see comments) has a gd point on voting records. This is something that the WP should explain to S’poreans as per Baiyee’s suggestion.

 

DBS: Why it needs to buy Temasek’s stake in Danamon

In Banks, Indonesia, Uncategorized on 14/02/2013 at 9:30 am

Indonesian lenders the most profitable among the 20 biggest economies in the world, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average return on equity, a measure of how well shareholder money is reinvested, is 23 percent for the country’s five banks with a market value more than $5 billion … Returns in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, are driven by net interest margins, the difference between what banks charge for loans — an average of 12 percent, according to the central bank — and what they pay for deposits. The average margin for the country’s big banks is 7 percentage points, the highest of the 20 economies … Indonesia’s high net interest margins have prompted banks such as DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, where the figure averages 2 percent, to look at acquisitions. DBS, Southeast Asia’s biggest lender, made a $6.8 billion bid in April for 99 percent of Bank Danamon and is awaiting regulatory clearance.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-04/world-s-most-profitable-banks-in-indonesia-double-u-s-returns.html

UOB and OCBC have an easier time because of their relatively large M’sian contributions to earnings. Malaysia is generous to its banks.

DBS’s core markets of S’pore and HK are very competitive and mature markets.

PM, pls tell STTA that S’pore is a meritocracy

In Uncategorized on 01/02/2013 at 5:35 am

According a report ST on Wednesday, parents of national youth players were unhappy with the STTA’s ruling that the players for the next Kiddie Games in 2014 must be from the Singapore Sports School’s School Within a School (SWS) programme, be ranked in the world’s top 300 in the under-18 category, or win medals at a regional championship.

The result: Most of the youth team did not qualify for selection for the YOG team.

Lee Bee Wah, a PAP MP, and president of the ping-pong association was reported by MediaCorp on Thursday as saying,“In the past, all top players were attracted by Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls’ School … Since we started SWS, we managed to attract some top players to the Sports School. If this trend continues, we will have top local players coming from the Sports School. I think we can produce world-class players.”

Well, if that is the case, why have a policy that makes the Sports School’s ping pong students tua kee, giving them an advantage over boys and gals who can compete academically at the highest levels and play ping-pong as well, if not better than Sports School’s players.

As someone born and partly educated in M’sa, she may not realise that S’pore to quote our PM is a meritocratic society, where privileges and rewards are given according to merit, not on the school one attends. It would seem that Sports School students are shielded from competition from students who can both study, and play ping-pong well. Merotocracy? What meritocracy?

PM, please remind this FT PAP MP and the other STTA officials that S’pore is not M’sia or China: meritocracy rules here, not arbitrary bars that artificially help mediocrities.  .

And PM, STTA should not sneer at members of the youth team who are not from the Sports School. This sneer deserves a public rebuke scan0001. No youth team member is :any Tom, Dick or Harry”, STTA.

Or maybe the PM should get the CPIB to investigate STTA: is this an attempt to ensure that China imports predominate? Remember that an ex PAP MP who was the president of the STTA was convicted financial crimes.

Try this to curb car growth?

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

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

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

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

San Francisco is trying out car-sharing using Beemers.

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

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

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

Here is urban planning experimentation at its best.

No free market mantras or rants. Be constructive.

 

 

ASEAN country of 2012 & 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contrarian view of Fed Policy

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

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

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

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

Importance of painful memories

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

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

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

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

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

Hope this happens here

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

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

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

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

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

For 007 fans: Holiday treat

In Uncategorized on 30/12/2012 at 5:32 am

How the various Bonds stack up against one another on booze, violence, gals

Great piece: warning only those who know something the main UK political figures will appreciate the jokes.

Antidote to the PAP’s tales of doom and gloom

In Uncategorized on 26/12/2012 at 5:51 am

Watch the BBC video on the Encyclopedia Paranoiaca by New York humourists Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf. It is a semi-serious cross-referenced compendium of hundreds of household items, activities and illnesses that – the authors say – could seriously ruin your day.

Asean round-up

In Uncategorized on 22/12/2012 at 6:44 am

“President Thein Sein of Burma is The Straits Times’ inaugural Asian of the Year. Mr Thein Sein, 67, was chosen by top editors of this newspaper for his role in making his country oosening political and economic controls in Myanmar. This has led to democracy icon and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi taking a seat in Parliament, the lifting of Western sanctions and a surge of investor interest in the once-reclusive nation.”

Constructive, nation-building ST at its best. LKY’s remarks about Burmese generals (they are stupid) and PM’s public row with the Burmese govt few yrs back means that TLCs, GLCs and ordinary S’porean cos are finding it difficult to get the goodies in Burma, unlike the Thai, US, Brit, EU companies. So ST trying to improve relations. BTW, the Lady’s team has no time for S’pore too. S’pore upset both sides. George Yeo’s fault.

The Teletubbies, 24-hour news and Doctor Who are being introduced to Burma as the BBC launches three pay-TV channels there next January.

KKR has achieved its goal of raising $6bn for its new Asia fund making it the largest such regional fund.

Productivity in action in retailing

In Uncategorized on 19/12/2012 at 6:25 am

In Seattle. No need for grumpy local aunties or clueless kiddos. And no need for smooth-talking Pinoys who help remove $ from yr wallet or purse for things you don’t need.

But you gotta buy a smartphone first.

The Wisdom of Psychopaths

In Uncategorized on 16/12/2012 at 9:14 am

Embracing the psychopath within. Sometimes psychopaths are needed.

Corporate governance Indon style cont’d

In Corporate governance, Energy, Indonesia, Uncategorized on 14/12/2012 at 6:00 am

The  Bakrie Group said this week some documents used to justify an investigation at Bumi Resources PLC were stolen or accessed by hacking.

“Some of these documents appear then to have been ‘doctored’ to give a purposely misleading impression of a number of business transactions at Bumi Resources,” a Bakrie Group spokesman, said on Dec. 10. The Bakries plan to submit a report to U.K. police and regulatory authorities, while Indonesian police are probing the hacking complaints, Fong said.

Nathaniel Rothschild described the allegations as a “desperate attempt to divert the inquiry” by the Bakries and Chairman Samin Tan. He said e may seek to remove the board of the coal venture he founded with Indonesia’s Bakrie family in the coming weeks because it has failed shareholders.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-12/bumi-seeks-to-end-ties-with-bakries-as-von-schirnding-named-ceo.html

How to be a hi-tech entrepeneurial hub

In Uncategorized on 13/12/2012 at 6:34 am

Berlin is fashionable, edgy, artistic: cool. And Berlin is the home of choice for many new hi-tech entrepreneurs from around the world. With global giants like Google now opening offices in the city, the German capital’s “Silicon Allee” is now rivalling London’s Silicon Roundabout as Europe’s tech hub.

Forget A*STAR etc. Juz be a place that cool people want to live in. And cool people don’t want to live in a place where marital fidelity is a must. Adultery is cool, not a hanging offence.

FTs running SGX wanted this turd

In Corporate governance, Financial competency, Uncategorized on 11/12/2012 at 6:40 am

Earlier this year F1 annced that it would list here. It then pulled back its listing citing market conditions. This could have been true as markets were volatile when it pulled its IPO. But F1 is now shown to be in one big legal mess.

On its face, the investment by CVC Capital Partners in Formula One seems like a winner. But thanks to recent lawsuits, “this enormously rewarding investment may now be in jeopardy,”Steven M. Davidoff writes in the Deal Professor column. A firm that was a competing bidder for Formula One, Bluewaters Communications Holdings, recently sued CVC, the bank BayernLB and Bernie Ecclestone, the Englishman who built the racing business. The claims are over a payment that has already been a source of legal headaches. Bluewaters says the payment was to “steer the sale of Formula One to CVC,” Mr. Davidoff writes, and the firm is “claiming at least $650 million in damages, the lost profit it would have earned had it bought Formula One.”

Well investors and S’pore have been spared this dog with fleas. No thanks to the CEO and COO of SGX, FTs all. And they are advertising in FT, six other posts hoping to get more FTs to keep them company.

And this despite S’pore slipping further down the IPO league tables, with KL at 5th place and HK at 4th. There are no FTs in KLSE.

When Devan Nair was Jedi

In Uncategorized on 26/11/2012 at 6:08 am

(And ST journalists were Jedi cadets)

Yes, t’was a long, long time ago: 1971 to be exact.

A forthcoming book (Yup this was the book I was talking about here) portrays the ex-president who resigned in disgrace as someone unhappy, underpaid and bullied workers (OK  ST journalists) could turn to for help against a management dominated by FTs (not Pinoys or Indians but ang mohs), and that he helped them get justice. The book, “The Last Great Strike” tells the story of the life and times of a ST reporter in the days leading up to a strike in 1971: a strike which had the backing of a government that had just passed new draconian laws curbing the right to strike; before recounting the strike and its aftermath.

The author is Clement Mesenas. One of the other strike leaders singled him out, praising him as the leader. I know both of them*: the tag “running dog” or “castrated” cannot be tagged on their shirt collar.

I hope younger activists buy the book. There is much they can learn from Clement’s experiences as an “angry young man”, organisationally and emotionally  Don’t worry, I’ll remind readers of the book by reviewing it one of these days, when I’m sure it is commercially available.

There are plans for a website to be set-up for the strikers and their friends to contribute their “war stories” and reminiscences; about the direction ST took after the strike; and their tots on new media especially its impact on ST. Auntie Lucia, your contributions will be welcomed. Contributions defending ST’s “constructive” role in nation building, as distinct from the ang mohs’ idea of supporting the government of the day while being editorially independent will be most welcomed. As are articles on whether there is a difference between the two approaches? To me, the result is the same, so any discussion is akin a discussion on how many angels can dance on a pinhead. But it obviously mattered to one LKY and his govt, and I think to Clement and some of the strike leaders when they reflect back.

Hopefully, I can provide details of this website when I publish my review of the said book.

As for Devan Nair, maybe he didn’t deserve what Nemesis (in the form of LKY) meted out to him. A sentence in his obituary in the NYT reads: “As a trade union leader, Nair was considered to have shaped Singaporean workers into a restrained, but economically effective force that helped the country develop one of the strongest financial positions in Asia.” What S’poreans, past and present, think about him will depend on whether they think the workers got their just rewards, or were enslaved in fetters made from their mortgage payments for their “subsidised” public housing. But even if the workers were enslaved, their fate is still better than what happened to Boxer and the other non-pig animals,  of Animal Farm.  At least the workers can read in ST how rich they are, and feel happy.

—-

*Though I’ve not spoken to one of them for years.

A plague on both PAPpies & some Facebookers

In Uncategorized on 18/11/2012 at 9:57 am

Recently, there have been quite a number of remarks made by the Dark Side and the residents of cowboy town, Facebook, that had me reciting Shakespeare”A plague o’ both your houses!”

The PAP ministers first.

Many Singaporeans have not grasped the implications of low economic growth in light of an uncertain economy, or even the effects of an aging population, Minister K Shanmugam said.

How about taking the time and effort trying to enlighten us minister? I mean all we get are variations of “We need FTS”. I have yet to see any serious attempt at quantifying the effects of low growth or an aging population. In the UK and the USA, there have been independent, academic studies quantifying the benefits of immigration. Here IPS doesn’t even pretend to quantify the numbers.

Minister … Grace Fu said the package of baby bonuses and subsidies are to help parents mitigate costs – not a “prize” for having children.

At least she said “cost”. The constructive, nation building ST used the word “burden”, when reporting her comments.

As S’poreans are not breeding, obviously the intangible rewards of parenting do not exceed the monetary costs, even taking into account the subsidies for breeding. So maybe the monetary incentives are not enough?

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said public housing has to keep up with the rising aspirations of Singaporeans and that the facilities and design of older estates should also not fall behind newer ones. So if public housing has to keep up with rising aspirations, why shouldn’t the government listen to the calls for more transparency, and accountability. And for more freedoms. These too are rising aspirations. BTW, MediaCorp, it is wrong correct to call him ex MM. He should be called ex PM.

“Parents have to know that the PSLE is just one examination for the kids. Important, yes, but it’s not the only exam, not the be-all and end-all,” said PM. Well with all the six-year programmes, how can pushy kiasu parents be certain that their late blooming geniuses can get into an elite school, at 16?

“We offer many pathways to success. We make every school a good school. and even if you didn’t get into a secondary school you wanted, there are many other good schools you can go to,” PM again. So long as the government defines “meritocracy”, some schools are “better” than just “good schools” in achieving “success”

But the PAP are not the only ones who annoy me. Take this: Central Narcotics Bureau’s recent report says that there has been a slight dip in the number of drug abusers arrested, but there has been an increase in drug seizures (link: http://sg.sg/Noi3bw).

 The worsening situation of increasing drug seizures is proof that mandatory death penalty may not be as effective a tool of deterrence as enforcement against this drug menace.

Hello, the mandatory death penalty has been around in both period. So the the rate of drug seizures have nothing to do with its existence. Criminals could be getting careless, police intelligence could be getting better. Many possible reasons. Let’s not use PAP type-or style arguments. Luke Skywalker was cautioned by Yoda not to try to use Dark Side techniques to fight the Dark Side.

In response to a headline in ST that 48% of druggies in detention are Malays

As a Chinese of mixed origin, I urge the government to take action against ST for inciting racial and religious disharmony.

– Amazing. Baffling too. Perhaps the alternative headline was “52% of drug offenders were Chinese, Indians and Others!”.

Well with 15% of the population being Malays, reasonable to headline fact that 42% of druggies held are Malays. Of course one can analyse the situation differently: say by family income or education levels. But statistically the fact that 15% of the population contributes 42% of something is statistically significant. Nothing wrong in drawing attention to the fact.

And while the ladies were bitching at ST, why didn’t they bitch at the PAP Malay MP who made the comments. If they think ST was wrong to report this statistic, surely the MP was wrong to make the comment? Malay PAP MP tua kee is it gals? Or hate ST is much? Remember what Yoda said: “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.”

 

.

Tips for online CVs

In Uncategorized on 10/11/2012 at 9:11 am

  • Clear layout: The more complicated it is, the harder it is for the technology to process
  • Key words: Find out the key words used for your role in the industry, and place those words near the top of your CV
  • Skills, skills, skills: When you list each piece of experience on your CV, mention the skills you obtained
  • The right heading: Don’t just put your name, also put the description of the role you wish to perform

Source: James Brian, Monster (via BBC)

The genius of Bill Gates

In Uncategorized on 10/11/2012 at 5:18 am

He made us overpay for his stuff.

“It’s kind of odd to sell something, then spend ten years sending free fixes to the consumer, who must have overpaid at the start to finance all the ongoing labour to keep it running. What if you bought a car, then received free repairs over its lifetime? How much would the car cost at the front end?”
Bkj3CBBzz3 on the end of Windows XP, November 5th 2012

Why history is not on the side of the PAP and WP

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 09/11/2012 at 9:18 am

But on the side of the SDP and NSP (maybe, if it keeps on its present busy beaver path).

There is every reason to believe that these developments [states approving initiatives on gay-marriage and marijuana] reflect national trends in public opinion. And these national trends are driven in turn by the same general processes of social change behind the gradual liberalisation of values in Europe and around the globe. Ronald Inglehart, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, was first to document this process in detail. Mr Inglehart’s well-confirmed thesis is that, roughly, as societies become increasingly secure in material terms, each new generation is predictably less “materialistic”—less focused on merely economic concerns—and more concerned with equality, autonomy, and the injustice of arbitrary authority. If we take the long view, we can see the success of this cycle’s gay-marriage and marijuana initiatives due to the inexorability of death, which in time disposes of antiquated mores, and to the relentless liberalisation of cultural attitudes in well-functioning market democracies. Thus are the young ever the vanguard of progressive social change. And the young stayed away from Mr Romney in droves

Extract from an Economist blog. No link as the rest is very, very US centric

Even pros don’t read to fine print

In Financial competency, Uncategorized on 06/11/2012 at 5:14 am

So the call for more transparency and disclosure is BS!

Sophisticated investors are supposed to read the documents. We all know that retail investors don’t often take the time to read disclosure, but the securities laws are based on the idea that information is filtered into the markets through disclosure to sophisticated investors who then set the real price of the security … If sophisticated investors can’t be bothered to read the documents and act on them, then we have a real gap in the entire disclosure regime and asset pricing generally.

Unfortunately, this is what the evidence from the C.D.O. market before the financial crisis shows. And because of this, the idea that requiring still more, better or clearer disclosure is likely to be unfruitful in many cases … Until we better understand how sophisticated investors process and read disclosure, regulators should be wary of trying to solve the problem by simply requiring more disclosure.


Asean round-up

In Uncategorized on 04/11/2012 at 9:35 am

Burma’s president signs into law a bill designed to attract foreign investment on 2 November.

The World Bank has approved an US$80m grant and pledged lending for Burma for the first time in 25 years. The money will go to rural communities to build roads, bridges, schools and health clinics.

The Yingluck Shinawatra administration’s new cabinet appointees were sworn in before the King on 31 October. FT earlier in the week reported that the changes strengthened the PM’s position vis-a-vis Thaksin, her brother.

Alternative economic cultures, a topic for SDP or NSP’s conversations with the public?

In Uncategorized on 02/11/2012 at 1:22 pm

Prof  Manuel Castells suggests we may be about to see the emergence of a new kind of capitalism, with businesses growing out of the counter-cultures of the last 20 years: alternative economic cultures.

 

 

Not Yoko’s fault Beatles broke-up: McCartney

In Uncategorized on 29/10/2012 at 9:34 am

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/oct/27/paul-mccartney-yoko-ono-beatles-david-frost

Sorry Yoko for thinking you the reason.

What brillant ideas to make $ and do gd

In Uncategorized on 05/10/2012 at 9:50 am

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19652712

And this

Iris Lapinski, boss of Apps for Good, another social enterprise, which gives technical training to youth of difficult backgrounds in more than 100 schools in Britain, agrees that entrepreneurship is a way out from financial and personal struggles. It is a much more dynamic approach to creating social change than mere charity, she says …  Apps for Good takes early-stage ideas from students as young as 15 years and asks technology experts from companies, ranging from Dell to Research in Motion, to judge them.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/10/unusual-entrepreneurs

The mind of a con man and his victim

In Financial competency, Uncategorized on 04/10/2012 at 6:26 am

Given the news about police raids on a gold trading firm, this sounds topical: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/08/20/examining-the-ponzi-scheme-through-the-mind-of-the-con-artist/?nl=business&emc=edit_dlbkam_20120821

Food, glorious food

In Uncategorized on 01/10/2012 at 12:37 pm

A few weeks ago, I met the publisher and CEO of Epigram books. A 60-something entrepreneur, rather than take things easy (he has a succesful design company), a few years ago, he decided to go into publishing books here.  He is a brave man. I know the economics of book publishing having been involved in the setting up of a textbook publisher in KL. It was sold in 2011, with the founder losing a few million $ in the process.

I bot some books that looked interesting, and here’s one I tot would interest readers of this blog: Mum’s Not Cooking which promotes itself as “What do you do when you’re homesick for some Singapore food, but you can’t really cook, mum’s nowhere nearby, or there’s no hawker centre … Recognising that you may not easily obtain ‘authentic’ ingredients if you’re based overseas where you are … suggests food substitutions to help you approximate that taste for home”.

Would have been very useful all those many years ago when I studied (London) and then worked (Oz) overseas.

Its shumething for self or friends moving on overseas for some time or permanently.

So if you are planning to move on overseas (not juz to Johor or other parts of Malaya, or Batam or Bintang), or know someone who is going to study, or work  abroad, get him or her a copy of this book which should be available at a bookshop. If not google for Epigram Books and contact the staff. I’m sure they will tell you where to get a copy.

As a present, it doesn’t cost much and will be appreciated.

An idea for the Bukit Browners

In Uncategorized on 29/09/2012 at 7:25 am

While surfing the internet, I came across these articles on how a city in England is using its graveyard as a wild life reserve.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/0/19272231

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11546089

There will be parts of Bukit Brown that remain untouched. What abt telling us what you want done to these areas.

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