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Posts Tagged ‘ASEAN’

Grandfathers’ place, is it? PIDCS, Finest Filipino Talents at work?

In Uncategorized on 25/04/2014 at 4:30 am

These tots (and more) crossed my mind when I read that the SPF (Sarong Party  Singapore Police Force) had issued a statement on its Facebook page [Link] today (22 Apr) saying that as at 10am, no permit application has been received for the 116th Philippine Independence Celebration on 8 Jun 2014 at Ngee Ann City.

“Neither have the event organisers shared any plans related to the event with the authorities,”

I called a Filipino community adviser (a true blue S’porean who married a Filipino, so he kanna do NS by his wife) and asked him how come the Filipino organisers dare publicise the venue of the 8th June event even before they had applied for a police permit? Think they own S’pore and the police is it? .Juz because Lucky Plaza is Filipino Plaza? (FYI, Lucky Plaza is across the street from the proposed venue, and so is a natural, rational  choice for any Filipino do.)

He said the organisers are Filipinos, not S’poreans. S’poreans know how to organise, and do things the right way; Filipinos only know how to party. Taz why S’pore so rich and the Philippines so poor. I said if this is Foreign Talent organisers  at work, waz the Trash like at work? He tot my comment unfair and harsh because every yr there is a new organising committee.

Not like S’pore where there is old blood mentoring the new blood: like LKY mentoring GCT and LHL and GCT mentoring LHL, even though LHL had apprenticed under both for a long time,as did GCT under LKY.

And the organisers are volunteers, who have full time jobs, not civil servants whose job is to organise events.

(BTW, this is how bad the Philippines govt can be in handling a hostage crisis http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27114551)

I then asked him, if the Filipinos had raised the money to pay for the stage and venue? Last time, we met he said that these would cost $55,000.

He said, think any GLC or TLC dare sponsor? Our telcos (esp SingTel) are usually big sponsors of Pinoy events because of the traffic the Filipinos generate: they love to talk, not work.

Again, if this is Foreign Talent organisers  at work, waz the Trash like at work? S’poreans would have raised the money before publicising the event. And after getting a permit.

Now my real beef with the organisers: Are the organisers right to be fearful they are of the threats against them? And to KBKW about these threats?

I say “No” because the

–  draconian laws on murder and the use of firearms (Maruah take note) and the way the SPF and judiciary work means there are almost no murders or serious violent crimes here (unlike in the Philippines); and

– nutters (my view of them) threatening the organisers don’t go round shooting, killing, beating or even publicly abusing Filipinos in public (they are typical S’porean sheep, in that sense, albeit mad sheep, bleating BS anonymously. So let’s not get carried away with the threat they pose to public safety, and FTs in particular. I’m thinking of BG MoM and Kisten Han. We should, like PM, condemn them, but not profile them as a genuine threat to people and law and order.

At a lunch last Thursday with the above Filipino community adviser, he had to concede my point that S’poreans don’t go round with guns shooting people unlike what the Filipinos (“goons with guns”) do in the Philippines. I told him to tell the organisers not to BS the threats to get public sympathy because fair-minded S’poreans (not FT lovers and FT tua kees like BG Tan and Kisten Han), will not believe them. Am I right on this?

And if the organisers are genuinely are afraid? Are they rational, given how safe S’pore is. I was once at a McDonald’s with an activist who is always criticising the govt. He left his bag (with top end lap top inside) at a table out of sight from the counter where we were lining up. I said bag might be stolen. He said, “S’pore, not US”.

Again, if the organisers are Foreign Talents  at work, waz the Trash like?

As to why the adviser didn’t advise the Filipinos on the right way of doing things here? He typical S’porean. If he is asked for advice, he will respond. Otherwise, like a typical S’porean he minds his own biz.. He not like Filipinos who are always free with their advice.

 

Unacceptable, appalling, daft behaviour

In Uncategorized on 21/04/2014 at 5:13 am

Sigh, sad is the day when this critic of the PAP’s policy of bringing in FTs (where the “T” stands for “Trash”, think of SGX’s CEO, and president) by the container load* has to agree with the PM on an FT related-issue (see his comments at **). And this after agreeing with ST http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/sts-right/. Drove me to drink.

My Facebook avatar posted these (among other comments he made to Goh Meng Seng’s comments that the Filipinos’ event is an attack on S’pore’s sovereignty and speculating of the troubles that could occur if the Indians and PRCs wanted to celebrate their national days in public spaces

I for one have no issues with any overseas group wanting to celebrate their national day here so long as they do so in compliance with the law. Fact that they are obeying the law of S’pore shows that sovereignty is not an issue. Sovereignty is only an issue when our laws are not respected, and flouted. Of course if they are found breaking the law, they should be deported ASAP and Maruah should sit down and shut up.

– Juz because there are more Indians and PRCs doesn’t make that a problem in itself. There seems to be an assumption that their numbers make them organising a do a problem. Well shouldn’t we assume that they want to organise something peaceful and festive? Or are we assuming that whatever they do they will only riot? And that our police are daft?

He also responded to P Ravi’s http://www.raviphilemon.net/2014/04/hypernationalism-does-no-one-no-good.html as follows:

I don’t think “hypernationalism” or even “nationalism” is the issue. There is a group of very vocal S’poreans who will use any excuse to “whack” the PAP. Sadly ’cause of the way the PAP govt does things, the size of this group is not known. But we do now that based on PE 2011, there are 35% of S’poreans who can be swayed from the “right” way. I’m sure PM and the PAP are having a gd laugh. The people who are denouncing the Filipinos because they hate the PAP are helping the PAP. SIGH.

I like PM am appalled. He at the trolls. Me at the trolls for being so daft as to hand a PR victory to the PAP. Anger at the FT policy is understandable, but verbally abusing FTs and helping the PAP is unacceptable.

But let’s not be too hard on the trolls.They could be confused by what they are hearing from the govt and social media. I’ll be blogging soon on some of Goh Meng Seng’s comments on the matter that have me confused. He seems to be opposed to the event while at the same time encouraging the organisers to go ahead. But I need to clear my head first. Drank too much malt.

——-

Examples:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/population-white-paper-paps-suicide-note/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/population-white-paper-2030-will-resemble-1959/

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

**PM’s Facebook message

PM Lee posted a Facebook message on 19 April saying that he was appalled to read about netizens “harassing” the organisers of the Philippines’ Independence Day celebrations.

“They are a disgrace to Singapore,” he said; adding that fortunately, it appeared to be the work of a “few trolls”.

He said, “We must treat people in Singapore the way we ourselves expect to be treated overseas. Many Singaporeans live overseas, and are warmly welcomed in their adopted homes.”

He then talked about the recent Singapore Day celebration in London, “How would we have felt if British netizens had spammed our website, and abused Singaporeans living in Britain?”’We must show that we are generous of spirit and welcome visitors into our midst, even as we manage the foreign population here. Otherwise we will lower our standing in the eyes of the world, and have every reason to be ashamed of ourselves,” he said.

PM Lee’s Facebook post [Link]:

Think up another “clarification”, general

In Indonesia on 19/04/2014 at 5:15 am

(Or “The lies Indon officials tell”)

“Wasn’t me, was an impostor,” the head of the Indonesian Armed Forces should have said. Or, “I no speak English”. LOL

Some 48 hours after his interview with Channel NewsAsia aired on Tuesday, the head of the TNI deaplogised an apology he made during the interview.

General Moeldoko said on Thursday that he had not apologised to the Singapore government for the naming of a warship after two Indonesian marines who bombed MacDonald House in Singapore in 1965.

Instead, he clarified that he was expressing his regret that the naming decision was final and would not be changed.

On Tuesday night, Channel NewsAsia aired an exclusive interview with General Moeldoko, during which he touched on the relations between Singapore and Indonesia, among other issues.

He was asked by Channel NewsAsia senior Southeast Asia correspondent Sujadi Siswo about the decision to name a warship Usman Harun after the two Indonesian marines, and the ties between the two countries.

“Once again I apologise. We have no ill intent whatsoever to stir emotions. Not at all. Second, relations between the two countries are on the mend. There’ve been communications among leaders. Singapore’s Chief of Defence and I have spoken,” General Moeldoko had said. (CNA)

What could be clearer? He did apologise.

So he’s a talk cock general? I prefer our paper generals.

Seriously, I was surprised at his unambiguous apology and wondered why the TNI had eaten crow. Now we know, “He didn’t mean what he we heard.” So TNI still believes in killing civilians is a legitimate military tactic.http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/govt-sporeans-that-blur-on-indons-ship-naming/? Tell the Americans.

Still want us to trust Indonesia Mad Dog Chee?

Related posts: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/haze-what-raffles-would-have-done/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/investing-in-indonesia-is-like-eating-puffer-fish-tre-readership/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/indonesia-even-friends-get-screwed/

ST’s right (((((

In Uncategorized on 18/04/2014 at 8:39 am

ST wrote an editorial denouncing the ranting against FTs especially the attack on the Filipinos’ planned do. [Update on 20th April 2014 at 6 am:Curb the anti-foreigner ranting ST editorial]

I agree with ST. Last yr I wrote “Pinoys been doing it legally for yrs, so why the rants now?” and I reproduce it below. BTW, the Filipinos cleaned up the park after their event, unlike our environmentalists who talk the talk of honouring the environment but who are no better than litter-bugs http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/litter-bugs-honour-earth-hour/

It’s not often that LKY and Dr Chee agree on anything but they do on one issue

One LKY in 1957 said in the legislative assembly :

For cheap labour, they [the British] allowed unrestricted immigration without any plan, without any policy and without any intention of creating or preserving the self. I do not condemn the immigration as such, but I condemn the government which has no regard for the people of the country who have been assimilated and did not bother to educate or to provide education for those coming in. Today, with the renaissance of the motherland of each of the immigration groups, chauvinist tendencies are incited. Yet at this critical juncture we have to call upon these immigrants to give this country their undivided loyalty.

(S’pore Notes: http://singaporedesk.blogspot.sg/2014/02/the-wit-wisdom-of-lee-kuan-yew.html)

In 2013, at Hong Lim Green (the people’s parly?), Dr Chee said, “A word of caution, I ask all of us here in Singapore to be the people that we truly are, the tolerant people that we are and if we attack, we attack the policy, we point out the flaws in the policy, not against the people who are here for work.”, can be simplified to “We disagree with the govt’s pro-FT policy, not the foreigners working here. We are unhappy with the “FTs first, citizens last” attitude of the govt because …”  http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/easy-to-avoid-xenophobe-label/

(http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/back-to-the-future-lky-dr-chee-the-sdp-agree-on/)

—–

Pinoys been doing it legally for yrs, so why the rants now?

In Uncategorized on 26/05/2013 at 1:18 pm

There has been plenty of noise and rubbish posted online about the Filipinos’ plan to celebrate the 115th Philippine Independence Day at Hong Lim Park. There are those calling it illegal, cursing the Pinoys, and accusing the police of not doing anything to prevent it. Some of the rants veer toward xenophobia or sedition. All because TRE asked legitimate questions about whether the event was legal.

Why the rants only now when this event has been held for at least two years , if not longer, at Hong Lim*? Just google for that fact. So our police allow an illegal event? This is S’pore, not the Philippines, Thailand, M’sia or Indonesia where can suka suka party or riot anywhere, anytime. This is S’pore where Harry’s Law** is enforced.

I asked a police contact whether a permit was needed to stage it, and was told that a permit was needed. Another contact told me that every yr since it began, the Filipino embassy had applied, and been given permission, for the event to be held.

It is not like the Merlion riots demonstrations where garang, qua-lan, and lazy and cowardly (don’t want to go to JB) M’sian FTs working here, unhappy that Anwar lost the M’sian elections, broke the admittedly, very draconian and KS law on the staging of public events without a police permit.

The Filipinos played it by the book, so let them enjoy themselves***, just like other govts allow S’poreans to enjoy themselves on our National Day in their countries’ public spaces.

We may not like the PAP govt’s perceived pro-FT policy, that Pinoy HR managers in MNCs prefer to employ Pinoys, and that Pinoy (and Indian and M’sian and PRC) FT PMETs are taking away jobs or keeping salaries low here: but let’s not be like our constructive, nation-building media (example from Alex Au) or the Todds, who have lost all credibility because they talk rubbish.

Netizens should have a lot more sense than our local media or the Todds. Otherwise, netizens deserve our local media, and the PAP govt.

——

*When I pointed out to TRE that this event had been an on-going event and gave them the above link, so that TRE could give its readers the facts, the editor asked me to write about it. I don’t blame TRE for not googling before writing its piece because it is a two-person outfit. One man focuses on IT and the other on content. Both have full time jobs, and families. Worse, they have to spend their own money keeping TRE alive: tee-shirts and donations don’t cover the IT costs. And if TRE closes down because of a lack of funds, it’s netizens fault! Open yr wallets. Don’t juz post that you will donate or have donated, then do nothing.

**Everything is prohibited, unless allowed.

***Our NSmen need their Filipino (and SRi Lankan, Burmese and Indon) maids to carry their gear when our NSmen go on route marches.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/pinoys-been-doing-it-legally-for-yrs-so-why-the-rants-now/

Impt of Indonesia to Jardine’s and other local listcos

In Indonesia on 15/04/2014 at 6:03 am

Inonesia was the largest revenue generator for many Singapore-listed companies in their most recent financial year, according to Singapore Exchange (SGX).

One in 10 stocks listed on SGX reported revenues specifically from Indonesia. Of those 80 companies, slightly more than a quarter reported Indonesia as the country that accounted for their largest revenue share.

This excludes stocks which segment revenue to South-east Asia, Asia and the Middle East, or Asia-Pacific regions, such as Jardine Matheson Holdings and Wilmar International.

Jardine Cycle & Carriage (JC&C), a member of the Jardine Matheson group and part of the Straits Times Index, has an interest in Indonesia-listed conglomerate Astra. Together with its subsidiaries and associates, JC&C employs people across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. It has a total market capitalisation of $17.3 billion and a year-to-date total return gain of 35 per cent.

(BT 10 April)

JC&C is the Jardine group’s crown jewel, which reminds me, “Jardine [Matheson] shares have multiplied 10 times in 12 years, never mind the dividends,” according to a recent FT piece. I missed this. In early noughties, I tot of selling HSBC and buying Matheson or Strategic. Never did. Well HSBC (bought in 84) outperformed Jardines in 80s and 90s but went AWOL or MIA in noughties.

I had tot that based on history, Jardines would goof when I decided against the switch. In its attempts to diversify out of HK before the reds came in and ruined HK, it bot rubbish in Hawaii and elsewhere. HSBC backed people like Superman and other local tycoons while diversifying out of HK and into the US and UK. A sensible strategy more in line with Perfidious Albion. In the noughties, it was HSBC that crashed buying a US subprime lender. The losses there would have ruined a Citi or any other more efficient manager of capital. Happily HSBC had lots of fat to lose. And a massive rights issue almost doubled my holding. HSBC is getting its act together.

Still, Jardines would have been better .

Iskandar: First gd news in 2014

In Malaysia on 12/04/2014 at 5:08 am

Last yr M’sia and Johor shot themselves and investors by imposing levies, restriction on property buyers in Iskandar.

This blog has been always sceptical about the rhetoric of govt co-operation on Iskandar. If both govts can work in training in skilled workforce, Iskandar will be a success. But they still on talking about co-operation.. But taz something.

Singapore has offered to help train a skilled workforce to meet the growing need for workers as the Iskandar Malaysia project takes off.

“As Iskandar thrives, we can expect also to need more people to be trained for the jobs to be created – and so I also talked about vocational training and Singapore helping Malaysia to upgrade its vocational training for workers who can work in Iskandar,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters yesterday after his annual “retreat” meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak.

In a joint statement, both leaders acknowledged the importance of a skilled labour force in boosting socio-economic development. They welcomed the ongoing talks between the various agencies of the two countries on collaboration in vocational training.

Speaking of the win-win gains for both Singapore and Malaysia in cooperating in Iskandar at a joint press conference, Mr Lee said: “The great advantage of Iskandar Malaysia is that it’s across the Straits of Johor, and that means that you can tap on what Singapore offers in terms of infrastructure, in terms of services, in terms of industrial base.” 8th April BT

MH370 fallout hurts us too

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tourism on 06/04/2014 at 4:49 am

The incompetency of the M’sian defence officials (no explanation yet on why aircraft were not scrambled when aircraft veered off course) and there are allegations that the veering off course was not detected forb hours), and the perceived failures may affect us.

Demand for inbound tours featuring Singapore and Malaysia could see some ripple effect, following the backlash that Malaysia has received in China …

SA Tours’ manager for inbound tours, Dan Tan, said that he has seen a 40 per cent decrease in demand for such combined packages. Mr Tan said that the bulk of the drop comes from Chinese tourists, as demand from tourists in other countries have held steady.

At this time of the year, SA Tours usually receives enquiries from Chinese tourists for large tour groups of 80 to 100 people for the mid-year holiday period. However, for now, the company has received enquiries only from small groups of three to five people.

Mr Tan said that while business has already declined because of a weaker global economy, he believes the MH370 incident is another reason behind the drop in numbers for combined inbound tours. “There’s a lot of debate online between Malaysians and the Chinese, and the Chinese are saying they won’t come to Malaysia again,” said Mr Tan.

To assure tourists, Golden Travel Services’ managing director, Cindy Chng, has told them that travelling to Malaysia is still safe, that the incident “should have no linkage with the place itself” …  no cancellations thus far from Chinese tourists coming in July for combined tours … they have expressed some concerns. “They may not have a good impression of Malaysia and don’t want to travel there,” …

She added that she is open to making changes for tourists if they want to forgo the Malaysia leg of the tour. [Package with Bali leh]

While CTC Travel does not have combined tour packages … said that he expects such sentiments to cause a drop in Chinese tourists coming to Singapore. “We’re pretty close neighbours, and people tend to link us together,” …does not think the impact will be huge … CTC … not been affected much as the company does not have many Chinese customers and focuses more on outbound travel.

Timesworld Travel & Educational Tours and Chan Brothers said that the incident has not impacted combined inbound tours, possibly because they run more corporate and educational tours which could be less affected.

But Timesworld … said that they could face a 10 to 20 per cent drop in demand for the peak season. People are still unsure and are waiting for others to take the first step, she said.

Tour operators say that the number of Chinese travellers on combined tours in the upcoming months will depend on how the situation is handled and resolved …

(BT 5 April)

A Balinese festival that we shld adopt

In Holidays and Festivals, Indonesia on 05/04/2014 at 4:43 am

Renumber that dumb idea to hold a Thai festival where water features prominently without the water?

Here’s an idea that should resonate among everyone living here (locals, FTs): a day of silence:

Tourist areas and economic centres usually bustling with activity on the Indonesian island of Bali were deserted on Monday, as its Hindu population observed a day of silence, it appears.

Foreign tourists were required to stay in their hotel compounds, and the island’s airport as well as sea ports were closed, the Jakarta Post newspaper says.

Nyepi marks the start of a new year according to the Balinese lunar calendar. Nobody works or travels, as it is traditionally a day of introspection and fasting. A special group of guards are usually the only people out on the streets – making sure everybody else stays at home.

(http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-26833923)

But we have to make sure make sure that the organisers do not organise the festival omitting the silence.

As this is a Balinese Hindu festival, and Hinduism albeit the Tamil version) is a major religion here, no-one can object to this festival on being a foreign import. It’s a foreign applicable variation of a major local (originally imported, as are all our major religions).

To avoid increasing the number of public hols (remember productivity) and causing offence if an existing public hol has to be removed from the list of public holidays, this “day of silence” could be celebrated on a Saturday or Sunday. Of course retailers, cinema owners  etc will be unhappy. So will employers who at present pay people to work on the weekend.

 

Why visit Phnom Penh?

In Uncategorized on 30/03/2014 at 4:30 am

There is the sex scene.  As an oldie, I’m sad to see so many distinguished seniors (ex-DPP, doctors etc) mess up their lives ’cause of their sexual urges, when they should be basking in contentment and respect, having lived the gd life.  So my advice is …

And hotel accommodation is reasonable.

The cheapest place to stay of the 116 listed in the report is Phnom Penh at just £33 per night. Of course average room rates will be affected by all manor of things—not least the proportion of posh hotels to basic ones (the survey looks at all hotels from one- to five-star) and exchange rate fluctuation. But prices in the Cambodian capital fell by 16% even as tourist numbers rose handsomely, up from 3.6m to 4.2m.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/03/airlines-and-hotels

Investing in Indonesia is like eating puffer fish/ TRE readership

In Humour, Indonesia, Temasek on 29/03/2014 at 7:01 am

What do I mean by the former?

S$ is a strong currency, the rupiah a weak one; but this yr the rupiah has outpeformed

The rupiah has risen 7 per cent against the US dollar this year, making it the world’s strongest performing currency, while the Jakarta stock market is also rallying, now up 10 per cent. Yields on 10-year government bonds have also come down to 8 per cent, having jumped as high as 9.2 per cent last summer – another sign of fresh enthusiasm for Indonesia’s growth story. FT on 13th March).

Gd that we have a neighbour liddat as China’s growth slows. And Indonesia’s a MINT.

And whatever TRE posters* and Chris Balding say, Temasek has made gd money in Indonesia (think telco and banking, though it has yet to exit the latter) despite a hostile political environment. Money talks.

Too bad about its aggressive, civilian-killing armed forces that would loot and plunder S’pore if given half a chance. Whether we need to spend 25% of the Budget on defence is open to reasoned debate (something which the PAP govt rubbishes) but there is no doubt that we should continuing be a poisonous shrimp to deter Indonesian generals and admirals who want to loot and plunder. The Indonesian govt does not control the military, as the constant outbreaks of internal lawlessness (including the murder of civilians) by the armed forces shows.

Example: Two Indonesian ministers have expressed regret over the inappropriate conduct by two Indonesian marines who had posed as the MacDonald House bombers at the Jakarta International Defence Dialogue exhibition on Wednesday.

In response to media queries, a statement from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean’s office said Mr Teo confirmed that Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Air Chief Marshal (Ret) Djoko Suyanto telephoned him on Friday afternoon regarding the incident.

Coordinating Minister Djoko expressed regret over the inappropriate conduct by the soldiers, and assured Mr Teo that there was no such policy to do so.

Those views were also repeated by Indonesian Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, who spoke with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on the phone on Friday.

Dr Purnomo added that the Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Navy, Admiral Marsetio, had launched investigations to determine who was responsible for the inappropriate act. (CNA)

Or maybe juz two-timing? What do you think?

Taz another problem. The Javanese ruling elite loves to intrigue . Raffles knew what to do when they were two-timing, he sent in the army.

As to the quality of ministers: Indonesia’s communications minister, who has campaigned against pornography, has caused an uproar on social media after he followed a Twitter porn account …

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-26680779

Bottom line: Indonesia is a difficult place to invest in (as I can personally tell you), but get it right (I didn’t) and it’s life eating puffer fish. Can die, if not careful.

Related article: http://kementah.blogspot.sg/2014/03/not-business-as-usual-for-indonesia.html

———-

*Yes, TRE readers have written to me telling me that the majority of TRE readers are not losers like “oxygen” and those who call me names, but are “Calm Persistence” and “Hard-pressed Anxiety” types). They dislike being associated with losers: they are hard-working S’poreans who think that the PAP has betrayed them. As to why they don’t fund TRE, they say that that as typical S’poreans, they are free-loaders by nature and that I’m wrong to associate “Calm Persistnce” and “Hard Pressed Anxiety” with community spirit and generosity of spirit. . If they were not free-loaders and apathetic, then TRE would not be the voice of S’poreans. Err, kinda confusing. I got to think thru this paradox.

DBS CEO proves worth of FT where “T” stands for Talent

In Banks on 25/03/2014 at 4:50 am

DBS Bank yesterday said that it will buy the Asian private banking business of Societe Generale for US$220 million, accelerating its ambition of becoming a leading wealth manager in Asia.

The deal will also widen the gap with DBS’s closest rival, the Bank of Singapore, a unit of OCBC Bank.

The price represents about 1.75 per cent of assets under management (AUM), based on the AUM of Societe Generale Private Banking Asia (SGPB Asia) of US$12.6 billion as at last Dec 31. This is a steal: OCBC in 2oio paid US$1.46bn which represents 5.8% of the unit’s assets under management, after adjusting for surplus capital of US$550m*.

Last Tuesday’s BT went on: DBS’s AUM will go up by about 23 per cent to S$85 billion from the current S$69 billion with the purchase, seven months after it was reported the French lender wanted to divest the business to redeploy capital into its core markets.

Swiss bank UBS is the largest private bank in Asia-Pacific, followed by Citi Private Bank and Credit Suisse, in that order according to trade journal Private Banker International in a 2012 survey.

That survey ranked DBS and Bank of Singapore ninth and 10th, respectively.

DBS is onto a winner with this FT and his FT COO. Well DBS deserves it, given the FTs it has had where “T” stands for Trash. SGX needs that kind of luck where both its CEO and COO are FTs where “T” certainly doesn’t stand for Talent. They did Temasek no favours by saying everything was kosher about the share price movements of Olam (More on this next week).

Coming back to OCBC. Its CEO is a Hongkie FT with great credentials. But he hasn’t shown whether the “T” is for Talent or Trash. So far the mkt inclines to the latter. OCBC’s share price crashed (and have yet to recover) when OCBC annced purchase of Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank few months ago. Deal is still pending. Hopefully, it dies a natural death.

My fav bank is still UOB where the chairman and CEO are true blue S’poreans. But UOB has limited visions which suits my taste here. DBS is for those who want to own a bank can be the leading regional bank in place of CIMB. It always had the vision but the FTs leading it let it down. Gupta has the talent (and luck) to make it the leading regional bank despite DBS not having significant presences in Indonesia and M’sia. It’s expansion plans in Indonesia were thwarted. S’pore has to play ball with Indonesia (allowing Indonesian banks more privileges here) for DBS to be able to buy Temasek’s Bank Danamon stake.

Finally, yesterday’s BT had a story about the difficulties our three banks were facing. UOB’s finance director said “Funding pressures will serve as a growth constraint for mid-sized banks like us outside of Singapore, particularly amid a backdrop of tightened liquidity conditions in the region. UOB has always emphasised funding stability. We must also be selective in the customer segment we engage in and avoid large concentration risks.” Taz straight talk.

So is [C]ompetition in US-dollar funding is likely to intensify, given the anticipated growth in trade financing, and the liquidity requirements of Basel III, says OCBC’s Mr Tan. Trade financing is still mostly greenback-denominated.

DBS’s Ms Chng says: “The so-called ‘balkani-sation’ of the financial landscape is an emerging risk, potentially resulting in captive capital and liquidity pools within each jurisdiction and impacting the pursuit of synergies across regional operations.”

But  sadly they couldn’t resist sprouting PR rubbish

“From a capital perspective,” says Darren Tan, chief financial officer of OCBC Bank, which is negotiating to buy Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank, “we prefer to acquire majority stakes where possible. However, in instances where a majority stake is not immediately available, we will still give the opportunity due consideration if there is strategic value in the acquisition.”

United Overseas Bank’s approach to overseas growth is to expand the platform for customers to tap trade flows within the region, says its CFO, Lee Wai Fai.

DBS puts priority on pursuing organic growth, and adopts “a disciplined approach” to M&A, says Chng Sok Hui, its CFO … She adds that DBS is adopting a digital strategy to expand its footprint in growth markets.

What do they mean?

——————————-

*My 2010 analysis: But maybe OCBC shld have waited. The purchase of ING’s Asian private banking business could come to haunt OCBC. A few days before this deal was annced, ING sold its European biz, at a fraction of the multiple that it got for Asia. Only time will tell if the growth in Asian wealth and OCBC’s ability to grow the private banking biz will justify the hefty premium that OCBC paid.

It paid US$1.46bn which represents 5.8% of the unit’s assets under management, after adjusting for surplus capital of US$550m. This compares with the 2.3% measure paid by Julius Baer for ING’s Swiss assets which is in line with another European purchase by an American private equity group of a smallish private banking outfit — RHJI’s purchase of Kleinworth Benson from Commerzbank.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/ocbc-reward-for-avoiding-balls-up/

Trumpets pls. BTW, I don’t blame the previous FT CEO of OCBC, Richard O’Connor. He was retiring. In such circumstances, usually the CEO would not take the lead in such a move: he’d go with the flow. Rightly, as he wouldn’t be the person running the show.. This is what happened here, I’m reliably informed. BTW too, he did a great job. Ngiam Tong Dow (remember him) called him an honorary S’porean, I think.

Neighbours show up the S’pore system, for gd and bad

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Political governance, Public Administration on 22/03/2014 at 5:41 am

The governor of Jakarta has been in the news recently because he was nominated by a major Indo political party to be a presidential candidate. He is a very popular choice because he is seen as being against inefficiency, maladministration and corruption.

What our constructive, nation-building and PAP-allied media doesn’t tell us is that he before he entered politics, he sold furniture. He was no scholar, general or admiral like paper generals Kee Chui and MoM Tan (and before them Lui, Pinkie, Teo or Cut and Run George). He was an ordinary citizen who cared enough to enter politics.

This reminds me: a PAPpy-hater complained that http://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/adequate-water-supply-is-common-sense-not-foresight. Well going by the following BBC extract,

London-based Inmarsat said its engineers realised at an early stage that the aircraft had probably flown for several hours on a northern or southern track, and it was very unlikely that the plane could have headed north over countries with sophisticated air defence systems.
The company further said that it had informed the Malaysian authorities of the information, through an intermediary company, on 12 March, but this was not publicly acknowledged until 15 March.
Furthermore, the authorities continued to search in the South China Sea and Malacca Straits during that time, despite the information suggesting that the plane had flown on much further.

The M’sian officials lacked common sense. At least the then PAP cabinet had the common sense to do make sure we had adequate water supplies. I can’t be sure of the present cabinet. What do you think?

Flooding the city with FTs but not increasing the supply of hospital beds. Worse denying that there is a shortage. http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/21/dr-amy-khor-need-to-put-hospital-bed-crunch-in-context/. Err actually this gd TRE piece shows that there are advantages in having an elite schoolboy and scholar on the team. TeamTre has one such person. The TeamTRE-generated analysis is a lot better than the TOC team’s inhouse generated analysis.  For reportage TOC is miles ahead.

BTW, TOC, the chamion of free speech and a free internet, has disallowed my FaceBook avatar from commenting on their FB wall. Gee and they got the cheek to call for the govt to allow greater freedom of expression? Juz as intolerant as MIW? At least MIW are not hypocrites. They openly endorse the idea that only the “right” tots are allowed to be expressed. LOL.

TRE, in contrast, republishes pieces where I ridicule the readership’s excesses in hating all things PAP. Now that is walking the walk of freedom of expression.

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.

Expats & us kanna pay & pay these bills

In Economy, Footie, Humour on 14/03/2014 at 4:44 am

(Update on 19th March at 9.55am: We most ex in Asia for World Cup http://sg.sports.yahoo.com/news/singapore-costliest-place-watch-world-cup-000511872.html. Thank you SingTel and MDA and Yaacob. PM, tot cabinet ministers chosen and remain on merit? What about the minister responsible for Malay affairs and info, formerly of environment ? Meritocracy? What meritocracy?)

One’s a necessity, the other’s a human rights issue for most, even PAPpies, which that brave but blur barking dog, Maruah, fails to highlight, even though it affects FTs, Maruah’s favoured group. Think I’m mean? Think the alleged “rioters”, drug mules, but not true blue S’porean Dan Tan or the alleged Jihadists.

Seriously, the PAP and its allies in the media must be shell-shocked going by their reactions to the EIU’s survey that ranked S’pore as the most expensive place to be an expat. Tharman’s explanation implies (unless he is trying again to be a comedian) that cars are only for expats: true blue S’poreans and ministers can only use public tpt? And I can’t stop laughing at the misreps in this http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/11/cnas-editor-the-high-cost-of-singapore-living/

There is one item that affects both locals and expats that Tharman, and Nicolas Fang and other members of the constructive, nation-building media running dogs don’t tell us Utility bills are also listed as big-ticket items by the EIU, but there is not much anyone can do to save there. Unless, of course, one were to turn off the air-conditioning.

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/03/world-s-most-expensive-city)

So why don’t they tell us aircon only for FTs? Or when will they tell us this? Giving ang moh lover Bernice Wong another opportunity to diss local buyah males; not that they don’t deserve it. BTW, she might now prefer this woman basher. http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/11/ft-accused-of-punching-sg-singer-resigns-from-company/

The human rights issue?  The cost of watching footie: We now know the cost of watching the coming World Cup but remember that EPL  and Champions’ and Europa leagues watching ain’t cheap: M’sia and HK are a lot cheaper. For that we have to thank SingTel’s aggressive bidding, its corporate ambitions (err its run by true blue S’poreans not FTs) and Yaacob’s finest at MDA.

But let’s be fair, the strong S$ that makes it cheap for us to shop in JB and other Asean cities has played its part in making S$ S’pore that expensive: Singapore, which has seen its nominal exchange rate appreciate by 40 percent over the past decade, will obviously have higher U.S. dollar prices. But that only matters to the shrinking group of expatriates who are paid in greenbacks. Most consumers care about costs in the currency in which they earn their living.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/03/05/singapore-is-not-the-worlds-most-expensive-city/

Here’s another good point: [These surveys] fail the simple test of people revealing their preferences by their decisions. Imagine a company that used the EIU study to ask its employees in Mumbai to tone down their wage expectations in 2014. They will make a beeline to recruiters’ offices – to search for jobs in Singapore.

Majulah Singapura. Despite what TOC and TRE readers claim, S’pore’s an attractive place: I’m still here for starters. So is Jack for all his grumbling. The PAP must have done shumething good? Right Jack? Think about that when S’pore Inc jacks up GST, utility bills, tpt fares, utility bills etc despite the budget surpluses or profits..

Let’s leave the last word to Banyan:

Much has changed in this part of the world since the original writers of the Lonely Planet series chose Singapore as the place to hole up and write their second volume: South-East Asia on a Shoestring. In sum, to survive on $10 a day (well, a bit more) in Singapore these days: don’t touch the cars, drink beer instead of wine, bake your own bread and eat your meals out at the hawker centres. And then it’s all a bit more reasonable. Which is more than can be said of foregoing the air-con.

————-

*World Cup costs from yesterday’s BT

All 64 of the matches will be free for people who either sign up for – or extend existing – mio TV Gold Pack contracts or standalone Barclays Premier League (BPL) contracts for 24 months.

The Gold Pack is a combination of entertainment and BPL content on the mio TV platform. The standalone BPL content package is available to both mio TV and StarHub subscribers.

Viewers who want a World Cup-only deal will pay a one-time price of $105, excluding GST. This is the most expensive World Cup fee to date – 19 per cent higher than the pre-GST price of $88 and 59 per cent higher than the early-bird price of $66 for the 2010 World Cup.

2014 World Cup pricing for business owners will be announced “shortly”, the operator said.

And http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/Insight-Down-South.aspx/?c={3054A244-0EAD-4847-A743-A2610B82E86B}

 

Why PAP should be afraid but not not too afraid

In China, Humour, Internet, Malaysia, Political governance, Vietnam on 10/03/2014 at 4:49 am

Paper warriors can cause serious problems for paper generals. Take heart Richard Wan, SgDaily, Terry Xu etc. And NSP should put more effort and time on online activities, rather than pounding the streets and climbing stairs, even though P Ravi of NSP gets great workouts: but Ravi, skip the teh tariks at the end. And the Chiams start an online presence.

Online activism can be an accurate indicator of where revolutions might take place next, according to University of Manchester research.

Argentina, Georgia, the Philippines and Brazil are claimed to be most at risk of upheaval, according to this measure.

The Revolution 2.0 Index* was developed last year and identified Ukraine as the most likely to see political upheaval.

This index sees revolution being forecast by computer experts rather than political analysts … It provides a different view of how regimes are put at risk by protest movements, looking at online factors rather than street demonstrations.

The index produces a risk factor based on the level of repression and the ability of people to organise protests online.

(http://www.bbc.com/news/education-26448710)

But Yaacob, MDA, and the ISD can still relax a little: The highest risk comes in countries where there are protests against perceived injustices – but where there is relative freedom online.

Err we knowthat S’poreans don’t like to sweat at Hong Lim: ask Gilbert Goh. (Alternative reason: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/gg-crashes-new-indian-chief-needed/)

So get the people out in their tens of thousands to Hong Lim Green and keep up the online volume, then sure can effect regime change. But fortunately for the PAP, only the LGBTs can get out the crowd. Aand then only once in a pink moon.

Still if PM and the ministers want to make sure they get to keep their mega-salaries then they should start sending study teams to  Ethiopia, Iran, Cuba and China: At the lowest end of this 39-country index are countries such as Iran, Cuba and China because there is a lower level of risk of revolution in repressive countries with tight controls over the internet.

Actually, it juz might be easier to ban Facebook and other forms of social media on the grounds that users waste time on them during office hours (all those cat photos that a certain social activist posts during office hours). Users are subversives, undermining the govt’s productivity drive, the aim of which is to make S’poreans richer slaves.

Talking about the Ukraine, professor Richard Heeks from Manchester University, the creator the index, says: “But social media has been the core tool used to organise protests and maintain them by letting protesters know where they can get nearby food, shelter, medical attention, and so on.

“It has spread word about violence and has garnered support and assistance from overseas.”

BTW, S’pore, Cambodia and Laos are not on the index but the rest of Asean is

The Philippines (4th)

M’sia (14th)

Indonesia (26th)

Vietnam (29th)

Thailand (33rd: err data was up to 2012)

Burma (35th)

———————————————————-

*The index combines Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net scores, the International Telecommunication Union’s information and communication technology development index, and the Economist’s Democracy Index (reversed into an “Outrage Index” so that higher scores mean more autocracy). The first measures the degree of Internet freedom in a country, the second shows how widely Internet technology is used, and the third provides the level of oppression.

 

 

Iskandar, answer to rising costs, Reits & other cost tales

In Economy, Malaysia, Property, Reits on 09/03/2014 at 4:16 am

“The government has underestimated the impact of high business costs on our future economy,” said Inderjit Singh (Ang Mo Kio), urging the government to set up a cost competitiveness committee to tackle the root causes of soaring costs before SMEs and MNCs relocate with jobs in tow. He also asked the government to reverse its land divestment policy, which he deems a key reason behind high industrial rents.

Companies are facing a “triple whammy” of rising rents and utility bills, growing wage costs, and a shortage of workers, said Mr Singh, himself a businessman. And this “chronic” cost issue does not affect SMEs alone. “The top management of some large MNCs here … have expressed their serious concerns about the unrelenting increases of the cost of doing business coupled with the unavailability of workers,” he said.

Iskandar’s industrial parks are a “huge threat”, he said. If Singapore’s SMEs are forced to move to Johor, MNCs may follow their SME suppliers and subcontractors. “The exodus may be larger than we imagine … We risk hollowing out our economy in the future, and I would like to sound an alarm that we are close to the tipping point.”…

Though he acknowledged that PIC and PIC+ would help with topline revenues growth, Mr Singh said: “We are just trying to do too many things too fast, and this is hurting many companies.”

Both he and nominated MP R Dhinakaran, who is also managing director of Jay Gee Group, pointed to rising industrial and commercial rents as a key culprit of the high costs of doing business in Singapore.

Citing Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee’s comment at BT’s Budget Roundtable that rents rise as much as three-fold when leases are renewed, Mr Dhinakaran said: “In this economic climate, rental increases of this magnitude will be fatal for a large number of SMEs.”

Both Mr Singh and Mr Dhinakaran also linked the high rental costs to the government’s land divestment policy. “JTC was a landlord for 18 per cent of industrial property some 10 years ago, but today manages only 3 per cent of the market. This is a huge shift, and the government lost the ability to influence rental prices resulting in developers and investors making the money,” said Mr Singh.

“We have to reverse this policy, even if it means the government having to buy back some of the Reits. In any case, the biggest Reit players are government-linked entities like Mapletree and CapitaLand,” he added.

Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang) felt that certain cost increases – the restoration of CPF contribution rates for older workers, higher progressive wages for low-income earners and cost hikes due to tighter low-skilled foreign manpower policies – are justified, with “strong rationale”.

But she also said that business rents need “the touch of the State”, and asked the government to consider “cooling measures, especially for business rents”.

BT 5 March

Given that Ascendas (a GLC) is the biggest player in the industrial land arena: why do you think when the govt says this?

The government will intervene if it sees evidence of collusion or the abuse of market dominance by any landlord – including real estate investment trusts (Reits), said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck … in Parliament … calls for help with climbing business costs (and in particular, the affordability of business space) have grown louder both in and outside of Parliament in recent months.

Reits – some of which were formed after JTC and HDB divested space to private owners – have been blamed for shorter lease renewals and sharper spikes in rentals.

“We know that it has come up as an issue, many of you have raised it. We will monitor it,” said Mr Teo.

At the same time, he noted that “Reits are not necessarily the leading players in the rental space market, because they currently only own about 13 per cent and 16 per cent of retail and industrial rental spaces respectively. Like any other landlord, they have to compete in the rental market to attract tenants and cannot charge excessive rents”.

Mr Teo also said that rents for space are likely to moderate in the medium term, as the government has released a “significant amount of land”.

Over the next three years, about 145,000 square metres of new shop space will be completed each year. Over the same period, an average of 500,000 square metres of multiple-user factory space will come on-stream each year.

For the former, that represents more than double the average annual demand for such space in the last three years; for the latter, it is just under double.

(BT 7 March)

Silicon Valley S’pore style?

Entrepreneurship will also receive a boost, since by the end of this year, JTC will open two more blocks to incubate start-ups, as part of a cluster called JTC LaunchPad@one-north.

“It’s our answer to Silicon Valley,” said Mr Teo.

Calling Indons’ bluff and other Asean tall tales

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 08/03/2014 at 5:02 am

On 1 March, S’pore upped the stakes in its ongoing row with Indonesia on responsibility for the haze

Singapore has reiterated its call to the Indonesian government to share evidence relating to any involvement by Singapore-linked companies or Singaporeans in illegal land clearing practices in Indonesia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said this on Saturday in response to media queries on comments by Indonesian Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono.*

Now that S’pore has passed laws allowing it to prosecute , the Indons cannot bitch too hard about S’pore’s failures if it can’t provide evidence, what can S’pore do?. Note that Indon refused to give M’sia and s’pore details of where the fires occurred (which would help identify the culprits) saying “secret lah”. They had earlier bitched that M’sian and S’porean cos had started fires but so far have provided no evidence, despite requests.

Note the Indon parly has just started procedures for ratifying the Asean 2002 treaty on haze pollution.  When will it be ratified 2022? CNA reported on 3 March

Indonesia’s parliament is a step closer to ratifying the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution.

Parties representing nearly 65 per cent of lawmakers have agreed to ratify the treaty.

Only two political parties – the PDI-P and PKS – have opposed it.

They cited concerns over the violation of sovereignty, as the agreement would allow firefighters from ASEAN countries to extinguish fires on Indonesian territory.

The next step will see a draft bill being discussed, before the agreement is formally ratified in parliament.

Related light reading:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/why-plan-suffocate-sporeans-failed/

-    -  -

The chief minister of Selangor must be laughing all the way to the bank. Anwar Ibrahim was planning to depose him (both belong to the same gang) by first standing in a state by-election so that he could get into the state assembly. Well Anwar has now been convicted of sodomy http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26479642.

The court decision will affect Mr Anwar’s plans to compete in a key by-election in the state of Selangor this month, reports say.

A victory for Mr Anwar would mean he could become Selangor’s chief minister – widely seen as a powerful post.

The court said he could remain free on bail while he appeals against the verdict to the country’s highest court, AP news agency reported.

————————————————————————————————————————————–

*Mr Agung had said publicly that since 2013, the Indonesian police have launched 41 investigations against errant companies and individuals that may be involved in illegal land clearing practices in Indonesia.

Mr Agung said some of these cases involved Singapore-linked companies or Singaporeans.

MFA said that the Singapore government takes a serious view of these allegations.

It added that if there is credible evidence that Singapore-linked companies or Singaporeans were involved, the Singapore government intends to take further steps against these errant companies and individuals.

The ministry also urged the Indonesian government to take the necessary legal and enforcement action against errant companies or individuals, regardless of their nationality.

It said the primary responsibility for legal and enforcement action lies with Indonesia, where these companies and individuals were allegedly conducting such illegal activities.

MFA noted that a state of emergency has been declared in Riau province due to the severe haze arising from the ongoing forest and peatland fires there as well as fires elsewhere in Sumatra.

Singapore hopes that the fires will be quickly dealt with to prevent a recurrence of transboundary haze.

S’pore: Asean bridgehead for Jap cos, GM & Oz retailer

In Economy on 01/03/2014 at 4:44 am

Banzai! She’s OK mate.

Japanese companies are returning to Singapore at the levels before the global financial crisis, as look to tap growth opportunities in Southeast Asia reported MediaCorp recently, shortly after this

According to the Japanese Embassy in Singapore, it says,  businesses are gradually returning as the region recovers from the crisis and as the strengthening yen adds to their potential investment ambitions.

Primarily, though, it is the growing economies of South-east Asia which are a major draw that many companies, said Mr ShinichiOnishi, Counsellor at the Japanese Embassy.

“Many Japanese companies like to have their headquarters in Singapore, so they can cover the South-east Asian region. There are many big markets around Singapore, such as Indonesia, and the country is a convenient base said Mr Onishi.

Figures provided by the embassy show that 760 Japanese companies had operations here last year, up from 729 in 2007 and 719 in 2008, when the global financial crisis was starting to cause chaos and many foreign companies were forced to pull back fromthe region.

At the same time, the number of Japanese citizens based here is on the increase: Last year, more than 31,000 Japanese citizens were living in Singapore, up from 25,969 in 2007, according to embassy figures.

Design and architecture firm Nikken Sekkei was one such company. It returned to S’pore earlier this year, after leaving in the early 2000s because of an economic slowdown. It has gradually been expanding in the region following the financial crisis, said its Senior Executive Officer Akihiko Hamada. He said it decided to pick Singapore as it is easy to serve neighbouring countries from here and it was already familiar with S’pore.

“We wanted to set up a regional officeto serve the ASEAN region, because of its prospective marvellous economic growth and its large populationof 600 million people. In the next 10 years, there is also an anticipatedinvestment growth in real estate. Aftersome extensive research, we decidedto establish ourselves in Singapore.”

He added that talent is also readily here. Apparently, we got positive and earnest workforce. And presumably the FT policy helps.

This influx has made its impact felt on the Singapore economy. Figures provided by the Economic Development Board (EDB) show that Japan accounted for S$0.6 billion (7.2 per cent) in Total Business Expenditure and S$0.7 billion (5.5 per cent) in Fixed Asset Investments last year.

BTW1, GM has relocated its Asia Pac (ex China) HQ here late last yr ’cause of its thrust into Asean (think Indonesia, it has manufacturing facilities in Thailand) and India. It was AP HQ until it moved to Shanghai in the early noughties.

BTW2, Oz retail giant Cotton On Group yesterday announced the opening of its Asia headquarters in Singapore, which will boost investment and create 200 jobs here.

The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) said that as part of the investment, the group has committed to hiring that number of people by June 2018 to drive its Asia operations.

Since its inception 23 years ago, the Cotton On Group has grown to more than 1,300 stores across nine brands in 16 countries. In 2007, the group established its first store in Asia here.

Today, it has more than 160 stores throughout Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, and plans to open several hundred more in the region in the next five years, at a projected investment in excess of $100 million.

PAP must be doing something right?

Temasek’s Asean tales

In Temasek, Vietnam on 22/02/2014 at 4:23 am

This week’s Asean’s round-up is all about Temasek or its TLCs.

Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings Pvt Ltd TEM.UL is seeking to sell its $3.1 billion stake in Thai telecom company Shin Corp INTUCH.BK, according to people familiar with the matter, and has approached its SingTel (STEL.SI) unit as a possible buyer. But the troubles in Thailand have put an end to the talks.

TRE and TOC readers will be banging their balls when they learn: The Temasek stake in Shin Corp, founded by former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is worth $3.1 billion by current market value.

Shin Corp’s shares now trade more than 50 percent above the price paid in 2006 by a Temasek-led consortium, that included Chinese-Thai businessman Surin Upatkoon, when it bought 96 percent of the Thai firm for a total of $3.8 billion.

As for SingTel:

“At a fair price such a deal would make sense for SingTel,” Chris Lane, senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong who covers Asia-Pacific telecommunications. SingTel is 52 percent-owned by Temasek.

Shin Corp owns 40.5 percent of Thailand’s biggest mobile telecoms company, Advanced Info Service Pcl ADVANC.BK. SingTel already has a 23 percent stake in AIS: Adding the Shin Corp stake would cement its position in a bigger market and offset sluggish growth in mature economies where it’s also present, like Australia.

“SingTel executives are involved in the day-to-day operations of the company AIS,” said Bernstein analyst Lane. “Buying the stake from Temasek avoids the possibility of another ‘telco’ securing a significant interest in AIS.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/18/us-temasek-shincorp-singtel-idUSBREA1G1H520140218

FPT Corp, Vietnam’s largest publicly traded telecommunications and software company, has asked Temasek to help it identify a Singapore technology company for acquisition to boost sales overseas, the Bloomberg news agency reported.

FPT will spend as much as US$20 million (S$25 million) on a Singapore acquisition, Chief Executive Officer Bui Quang Ngoc said in an interview on Wednesday. The company, which had sales of 28.6 trillion dong (S$1.7 billion) in 2013, seeks to more than triple revenue from overseas to US$400 million by the end of 2016, co-founder Mr Ngoc, who took charge in July, said in Hanoi. “Singapore is a very attractive market,” Mr Ngoc said. “If we can be successful in Singapore, it means we have enough experience to do it in other countries.”

FPT is looking to acquire a Singapore company that specialises in software services such as inventory management, order processing and employee payroll, said Mr Duong Dung Trieu, chief executive officer of FPT Information System, a unit that contributes 25 per cent of the parent’s pretax profit.

The company plans to make the acquisition in Singapore “as soon as possible,” Mr Ngoc said. Temasek holds less than 5 per cent stake in FPT, according to the Vietnamese company.

Finally airport services and catering firm SATS (a listed TLC) agreed to buy a 41.65 per cent stake in Indonesian aviation and food service provider Cardig Aero Services for 1.1 trillion rupiah (S$118 million) to grow its business in South-east Asia’s largest economy.

Indonesia is a priority market said SATS. The country’s topography and a fast-growing economy and middle-class population will continue to drive greater demand for high-quality food and travel, it said. “CAS is an attractive investment opportunity in our core business which will generate sustainable value for our customers, employees and shareholders as Indonesia continues to grow,” said Mr Alexander Hungate, President and Chief Executive Officer of SATS.

And he’s right about Indonesia: http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21596989-how-worlds-fourth-most-populous-country-weathering-emerging-market

S&P: Tough year for S’pore and regional banks

In Banks, Economy, Property on 20/02/2014 at 4:14 am

Lower economic growth prospects and tighter credit conditions could create a tougher operating environment for the banking sector here and in the region, said a report by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) late last week.

S&P expects S’pore’s GDP) growth to fall to 3.4 % this year, from 3.7% last year.

The report also notes that corporate and household indebtedness has been on the rise here. The situation could worsen this year, in anticipation of interest rates rising; higher borrowing costs amid rising. See DBS’s CEO’s tots below* and related post http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/why-banks-tested-for-50-plunge-in-property-prices-and-other-wonderful-tales/

Related articles: The three local banks posted their reports last week too and for quick snap-shots (not the usual ST or BT fluff)

http://sbr.com.sg/financial-services/news/5-highlights-you-should-know-about-uobs-2013-results

http://sbr.com.sg/financial-services/news/find-out-what-badly-hurt-ocbcs-fy13-results

http://sbr.com.sg/financial-services/news/dbs-braces-itself-looming-30-35-drop-in-mortgage-loan-applications

Charts on banks’ loans etc

http://sbr.com.sg/financial-services/news/10-charts-prove-singapore-banks-mixed-finish-2013

Cheap way of owning UOB shares

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/haw-par-rediscovered-yet-again/

Update at 6.ooam:

South-east Asia’s three biggest lenders, DBS, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank, have seen their share prices rise this week after posting solid results last Friday. Common trends in the fourth quarter were better margins, trade finance-driven loan growth, seasonally softer treasury earnings and no asset quality weakness, CIMB noted.

UOB has been the star performer this week, gaining 3.5 per cent, while OCBC has risen 2.3 per cent and DBS 0.4 per cent.

UOB, despite being the smallest of the trio, has been particularly impressive with its fee income and regional strategies, CMC Markets Analyst Desmond Chua told TODAY.

“In terms of fee income, it has performed relatively well while the market has been lacklustre, in part due to a higher interest outlook. Its diversification to grow in regional emerging markets has also helped it maintain loan growth despite weaker mortgage demand in Singapore,” he said.

“On the other hand, OCBC’s share price might have been affected by the prospect of its overpriced acquisition of Wing Hang Bank in Hong Kong while DBS hasn’t been able to impress with its fee-based revenue in recent times despite aggressively attacking this space,” he added.

UOB’s net interest margin, which is the highest among local banks at 1.72 per cent full-year, is another advantage for the lender, Voyage Research’s Deputy Research Head Ng Kian Teck added. “UOB has historically been good on this front, and it means the bank can churn the most value out of every dollar loaned — that’s what’s attracting the investors,” he said.

All three banks ended last year on a positive note, with their fourth-quarter net profit rising between 6 and 11 per cent on the back of strong growth in net interest income.

The banks have also continued to solidify their regional presence, drawing more revenue from overseas than before.

….

“Their return on equity is healthier vis-a-vis the other industries, which are facing greater margin pressure due to higher wages. But the banks have been able to control this issue better.”

CMC Markets’ Mr Chua is also bullish, saying: “I’m looking at the banking space being an outperformer this year even though interest rates are bound to rise. Their tactical diversification across this region allows them to tap into Indonesia’s emerging affluent segment, for example.

Update at 5.15pm:Can Singapore safely deflate its property market? http://www.cnbc.com/id/101409247

————————

*DBS Bank chief executive Piyush Gupta expects home prices to fall by 10-15 per cent this year – more than the 10 per cent forecast by property consultants – but says that this decline would not make a material impact on the bank’s loan book. Speaking at DBS’s Q4 results briefing, he said it is likely that the prices of high-end homes will slide 15 per cent, and that for lower-end ones, by 10 per cent.

As for the higher interest rates expected with the shrinking of monetary stimulus policy by the US, he said he was not expecting it to have any effect on DBS. “The Singapore portfolio is really driven on income considerations . . . As I’ve said before, the pressure will likely start coming when unemployment rises – more than when property prices change.” Singapore’s unemployment rate is now at a low 1.8 per cent.

Mr Gupta said: “All our stress tests in the past have shown that we can easily withstand a 20 per cent reduction in Singapore property prices without material impact on our portfolio. We stress-test (for a) 20 (per cent fall in property prices), but don’t expect it to happen; our stress tests are always calibrated to go off the charts. My own sense is that there will be a correction of 10-15 per cent.”

He noted that the market was already stabilising and that the froth was running off, but that if this continued, the government would roll back some of the macro prudential measures. Sales of new mortgages have plunged 30-35 per cent at DBS, and by 40-50 per cent at OCBC Bank as a result of the stricter loan rules.

Mr Gupta likened the Singapore property market to that of New York and London, where prices held up even during the financial crisis between 2008 and 2012. While prices in the rest of the US fell by about a third, prices in New York slipped by only 10 per cent. It was a similar situation in London, another city where the demand is not dependent on the state of the domestic economy.

Mr Gupta said he expects regional money buying properties here to also put a floor under prices. With the slower sales, DBS’s $49.1 billion mortgage book is likely to grow by $2 billion to $2.5 billion this year, down from $3.5 billion last year and $5 billion the year before that, said Mr Gupta.

OCBC Bank chief operating officer Ching Wei Hong said of the new mortgage sales having declined across the board: “That’s expected, given all the cooling measures that have been imposed. We’ve built up a healthy inventory level. The inventory drives the growth of (the loan) book, going into 2014 and 2015. Beyond 2015 H2 and 2016, if conditions remain the same, we’ll see a bit of tapering in that period.”

(BT article last Saturday)

Govt, S’poreans that blur on Indons’ ship-naming?

In Indonesia on 17/02/2014 at 4:38 am

The govt missed the opportunity to kick the Indonesian govt in the balls. It could have made the Indon govt look stupid and crass internationally. S’poreans (govt* and all the commentators bar one Voice, see below) are behaving like frogs in a well in their reaction to the Indonesian brazenness over the naming a naval vessel after two “heroes” who killed S’porean civilians in the 1960s.

Seriously, the issue is bigger than our sensitivities about the Indonesian govt’s view that we are a Little Red Speck that it can trod on or push around like East Timor or West Papua.

It’s about whether Indonesia views attacks against civilians as a legitimate military tactic, contrary to the rules of war, Even the hegemon accepts that killing civilians is wrong even if its drones keep killing civilians (“Accident leh. Not on purpose”). So the US and the int’l community should want to know if Indonesia views killing civilians as a legitimate military tactic. The behaviour of Indonesia’s armed forces in Acheh, Sulawesi, West Papua and East Timor provides evidence that the military (at least) condones the killing of innocent civilians.

Taking a step further does Indonesia implicitly or covertly condone terrorism as a legitimate response to grievances (legtimate or otherwise)? S’pore should be asking the US and the int’l community to ask Indonesia. After all, Indonesia considers the two men who killed innocent civilians “heroes”. Isn’t this glorifying and condoning terrorism which is the killing of innocent civilians to publicise or further a cause? Even North Korea who has engaged in terrorist attacks against airliners and in third countries (such as Burma in 1983) doesn’t go round naming warships after the “killers”.

I’m bullish about Indonesia’s economic prospects but I’m not blind to the flaws in Indonesian governance. I’ve written: The Indonesian army has form in bullying its people and invading neighbours: Aceh, Sulawesi, East Timor, West Papua, Malaysia. Remember the Indonesian army planted bombs here in the 1960s?

Other instances of bad Indonesian behaviour

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/indonesia-bullying-instincts-arising/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/haze-pm-silence-is-not-a-solution/

The above musings was “triggered” by this letter to Voices:

From

Haj Mohamed

Published: 13 February, 4:04 AM

I refer to the report “Jakarta ‘meant no ill will’ in naming of frigate” (Feb 12). The issue is not merely about bilateral relations per se.

Indonesia’s decision to name a ship after the MacDonald House bombers sends a confusing signal about its stand on terrorism.

The bombing was done in a civilian area, killing civilians, and the world is clear that such bombings, including suicide bombings, are acts of terrorism. So, what is Indonesia’s stand on the Bali bombers?

There is a saying that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, which I believe holds only when one considers the other as an enemy.

Now that Indonesia has clarified that there is no enmity between our two countries, it must clarify its stand on terrorism and its criteria for defining heroes, so as not to reinforce a few of its citizens’ wrong perception that Jemaah Islamiyah members are heroes.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/haze-what-raffles-would-have-done/

Update at 5.00am

Riau Islands Governor Muhammad Sani has told the Batam chapter of the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) to reconsider its plan to build a statue in honour of former Marines Usman and Harun to prevent further friction with Singapore.

Singapore had reacted strongly to Indonesia’s recent move to name a warship after the two Marines who carried out the bombing of MacDonald House in Singapore in 1965.

“With the current situation, please reconsider (the plan) and do not add more problems,” Mr Sani was quoted as saying by the Antara news agency on Sunday.

Mr Sani said that Batam Kadin should bear in mind that Batam is a stone’s throw away from Singapore.

“What is the benefit for us?” Sani asked.

The building of the statue is subject to approval from the Batam Free Trade Zone Management Agency.

A spokesman for the agency has cited several factors it needs to consider before granting a permit — aesthetics, maintaining good relations and Batam’s location — noting that many Singaporean businessmen invest in Batam.

A Batam resident who goes by only one name, Parulian, warned: “What if Singaporeans pull their investment?” (CNA report)

Money talks.

*Actually the govt’s behaviour was measured but two ministers who were paper generals spoiled the gravitas that Shan and MFA pitched the issue at with their comments. Kee Chui and MoM Tan should have sat down and shut up. but one assumes they wanted to how lien their patriotism, if not their stupidity and crudeness. They came across as the Indonesian generals do: paper tigers. Maybe they practising to be like Indonesian ministers: talk cock, sing song clowns? LKY would be appalled.

Asean looking gd: gd for us

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 15/02/2014 at 4:15 am

[S]outheast Asia has confounded the sceptics. Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines – the “Tips” – weathering the latest storm with relative ease.

The Jakarta equity index has recorded the biggest gain of any major market – emerging or otherwise – this year, rising 5.2 per cent in dollar terms since the start of January. Financials have led the charge with Bank Rakyat jumping by more than a fifth.

The Philippine market has risen 1.5 per cent, while Thailand’s loss of 0.4 per cent looks tame compared with other EMs. For the same period, Russia’s Micex is down 7.2 per cent and Brazil’s Bovespa is 7.9 per cent lower.

A similar pattern has played out in currency markets. The Indonesian rupiah and the Thai baht are the top EM performers against the dollar this year. [EM means Emerging Markets]

Previous rallies in southeast Asia have been driven by aversion to China – the Tips are less reliant on exports to the country than are many other places in the emerging world. As concerns about economic growth and the financial system bubble up again in China, southeast Asia appears to be benefiting.

However, Bill Maldonado, chief investment officer for Asia at HSBC asset management, says more country-specific factors are at work. (Except from FT blog of 10th Feb)

– Thailand is cheap, juz as profitable as Indonesia: politics makes it cheap.
– Indonesia is growing faster than expected having taken steps earlier to fix its deficits in budget and current account and there there is an election is coming,

Both stk markets are cheap on a price to book basis, the Jakarta index is at a four-year low, while Thai stocks are trading at two-year lows.

Given Indonesia’s proximity to S’pore, we’ll benefit too. Too bad M’sia is not in better shape*. If it is, there will be a GE in 2015.

*Update at 7.30 am: M’sia could be getting better– BT reports: Analysts have revised their estimates for Malaysia’s 2014 growth upwards, with the country having reported fourth-quarter growth of 5.2 per cent, confounding the market’s estimate of 4.8 per cent.

Details released by the central bank indicate that domestic demand remains the key driver of the economy, despite concerns that this would be hit by rising living costs; private consumption remained resilient, rising 7.3 per cent from a year earlier.

In reports released on Wednesday, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch forecast this year’s growth at 5 per cent; Barclays Bank pegged its estimate at 5.4 per cent, while the Malaysian government’s own forecast was between 5 and 5.5 per cent.

If turns out to be correct, GE 2015, after National Day 2015.

S$, Baht & Rupiah looking gd

In Currencies, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia on 13/02/2014 at 4:43 am

Given that a senior cabinet minister and NTUC chief, and a jnr minister from NTUC is giving the PAP govt a bad name, maybe it’s time to remind S’poreans that the PAP govt is not all full of NTUC clowns. On Tueday I reported that Khaw and MoM Tan had the developers concerned, and today I’ll remind S’poreans that PM’s economic team (headed by Tharman) are keeping int’l investors onside (too bad about TOC, TRe readers, but then they can take comfort that locals like me too like a strong S$.)

(4 Feb) – Recent alarmist commentary may have stirred up concerns about Singapore’s economy, but in the midst of the emerging market rout, safe-haven seekers’ faith appeared unshaken as they scooped up its currency.

“We have noted its safe-haven status within the Asian region is getting stronger in past years. So when you have a broad risk off, in general the Singapore dollar will outperform,” said Ju Wang, senior foreign-exchange strategist at HSBC.

Earlier this week, global markets largely sold off, but the Singapore dollar strengthened, with the U.S. dollar fetching as little as 1.2666 on Tuesday, compared with around 1.2790 Friday. Against the currency of its neighbor Malaysia, the Singapore dollar has touched its highest level since 1998.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101390521

But To be sure, it isn’t clear the Sing’s climb is sustainable or would withstand a more extended market rout.

“When people want to take money off the table, the safe-haven tag may not be helpful,” Song said. “We can’t avoid spillover from contagion in Southeast Asia.”

Now that would have TOC, TRE readers happy, ’cause they can blame it on the govt.

BTW, here’s an interesting article on the flows in and out of Indonesia and the other Fragile Five. http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2014/02/emerging-markets. Actually the rupiah has done relatively better than most other emerging markets currencies against the US$. So has the the Thai baht despite the political problems.

But the currencies of  Thailand Indonesia, M’sia  and the Philippines have fared worse against Japan’s yen than they have against the US dollar. This means that Japanese financial ,institutions may slow down their investments in the region: investing here could be like catching a falling knife. So, they’ll likely wait.

 

Thailand, harbinger of problems in M’sia, S’pore

In Malaysia, Public Administration on 08/02/2014 at 4:56 am

(Asean round-up)

But before I go into what I mean here’s something on how Thailand’s woes are benefiting S’pore: Singapore Institute of Purchasing & Materials Management ‘s executive director Janice Ong said (according to BT) that there has been anecdotal evidence that the political turmoil in Thailand is diverting orders to Singapore’s manufacturers. But economists believe that the impact would be slight at best.

UOB economist Francis Tan said that the clusters in which such diversion may occur, such as hard disk drives, make up only a small proportion of Singapore’s manufacturing sector.

Divine compensation for Temasek’s purchase of Shin?

Now back to the subject matter of the title. One aspect of the crisis is the sense of entitlement by the Opposition. It was explained by this analysis

[P]olitical power and economic power no longer coincide in Thailand. The parts of the country that generate most of Thailand’s GDP do not ally with the ruling party, which commands most of the vote. That simple fact no doubt explains some of the bitterness of the country’s crisis. In the chart below, we try to quantify this simple insight.

Thailand’s redshirts back the government and most of them look forward to the election on February 2nd. They support Pheu Thai, the third incarnation of a political party founded by Thaksin Shinawatra, a tycoon and former prime minister whose sister, Yingluck, now heads the government. The protesters, on the other hand, want to derail the election and rid Thailand of the influence of the Shinawatras, whom they accuse of rapacious corruption and ruinous populism. They tend to support the opposition, led by the Democrat Party. 

In the last general election in 2011, Pheu Thai won 48% of the votes cast for the national political parties*. They were the leading party in 46 of Thailand’s 76 provinces, helping the party and its allies take control of Thailand’s National Assembly. But, according to calculations by The Economist, the party’s political strongholds account for only 38% of Thailand’s GDP.

The opposition Democrats, by contrast, polled 35% of the party votes. They were the leading party in 30 of Thailand’s 76 provinces and also its capital city. Added together, these territories account for 62% of the nation’s GDP. Bangkok alone accounts for about 30%**. In Thailand, in short, domestic power and domestic product reside in different parts of the country.

the chart illustrates the enormous gap between the Democrats’ political power and their economic clout. This gap may help explain both their feelings of alarm and their sense of entitlement. It shows the enormous scope for redistribution from Democrat-ruled provinces to those dominated by Pheu Thai. This redistribution, which has been taking place for decades, accelerated in 2001 when Thaksin first became prime minister. Back then the Thai state spent 16% of the national budget on the provinces. Today, under his sister’s government, their share has increased to a quarter.

The figures may also shed light on the opposition’s sense of entitlement. Some in the old Thai establishment no doubt feel that they make a disproportionate contribution to the country’s prosperity and development. To them a constitutional arrangement that gave them about 62% of the political power might feel about right. It would represent a realignment of domestic power with domestic product.

 This situation could be replicated in M’sia. Selangor is biggest contributor in GDP terms to M’sia (as of 2013)  and Penang is 5th based 0n 2010 data. Both are controlled by the Opposition. Attempts by BN to buy votes need money, and taxes can only come from the richer states. You can guess the rest …

Even in S’pore, such entitlement is not absent. I came across this comment: [O]nly 40% of the population are paying income tax to support 60% of the population. Increasing revenue from direct taxes will penalise the very people who have been contributing to the nation’s coffers. With countries in the region cutting their corporate taxes, Singapore has to rely on higher indirect taxes and reduce the proportion of revenue arising from income and corporate taxes. Otherwise, the minority tax payers can very well vote with their feet and offer their investments and skills to someone else.

Fortunately, this is rubbish. because (based on last yr’s Budget estimates only 14% (third largest) of govt revenues come from personal income tax. The largest contributor is corporate tax (17%). GST at 17% is the second largest contributor.

 

 

A MINT next door

In Indonesia on 02/02/2014 at 6:32 am

(Asean round-up: Indonesia special)

Last yr Indonesia’s stk mkt in US$ terms was -23%. A fitting tribute to it being a member of the “fragile five”: South africa, Turkey Brazil, India and Indoesia. who are dependent on foreign inflows of capital and hence QE tapering is problematic. This week three of them SA, Turkey and India have craised rates in response to weakish currencies; Turkey has doubled rates by some benchmarks.

But Indonesia (and Turkey) are part of MINT: if Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey get their act together, some of them could match Chinese-style double-digit rates between 2003 and 2008.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25548060

The coiner of the term MINT was the guy who coined BRIC: Brazil, Russia, China and India, and readers should know how ell the economies did until recently.

And recently it was reported that Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, the major supplier of Apple Inc’s iPhones and iPads, may build high-tech factories in the United States and low-cost plants in Indonesia as the appeal of ‘made in China’ fades into a burden.

So maybe he will right again. But to be fair, he is least bullish on Indonesia: Indonesia, I am less sure about. The country’s challenges are as big as I thought and I didn’t hear too many things that made me go “Wow” in terms of trying to deal with them. The country needs more of a sense of commercial purpose beyond commodities, and has to improve its infrastructure.

His less bullish stance is supported by a recent govt measure.

The country introduced a controversial ore export ban on Jan 12, although last-minute amendments aimed to ease the impact of the export ban on concentrate miners like Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold and Newmont Mining Corp. They now face a progressive export tax on concentrates.

“There has been no concentrate export since Jan 12,” Bachrul Chairi, director general of foreign trade at the trade ministry told Reuters … “As of now, no miners or companies have requested export approval for concentrate or processed ore from the trade ministry.”

Freeport Indonesia and Newmont are in talks with the government over the new rules and are yet to resume exports since the new tax was introduced, while the Mineral Entrepreneurs Association has filed a legal challenge against the ore export ban.

The ban on mineral ore exports from Indonesia, the world’s biggest nickel producer, is poised to benefit miners in the neighbouring Philippines, who are predicting an increase in sales. Shares of Nickel Asia Corp advanced to the highest intraday level in two months.

The ban is positive as demand and prices for Philippine supplies will increase, according to Emmanuel Samson, chief financial officer at Nickel Asia. The Taguig City-based company accounts for about a third of Philippine output, Mr Samson said.

While the Indonesian ban is intended to encourage local processing and boost the value of commodity shipments from Southeast’s Asia’s largest economy, the curbs may hand an advantage to rival producers such as Nickel Asia.

Buyers in China, the top user, stockpiled ore before the ban and it may take as long as six months to work off that extra inventory, according to Mr Samson. Producers in China also need to adjust to the lower grade of ore that comes from the Philippines, he said.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/our-neighbour-the-new-brazil/

 

Chinese zodiac’s animals: global distribution per capita

In Humour, Indonesia, Malaysia on 01/02/2014 at 4:33 am

To herald China’s most important holiday, we [Economist] have taken a light-hearted look at the global distribution of the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The Middle Kingdom is home to some of the world’s largest herds, flocks, packs, and broods. It has the second-largest number of horses, 6.7m, after America’s 10m (although neither feature in our charts, which account for population). Instead, Mongolia, where horses are integral to its nomadic tradition, tops the ranking. Similarly, there are four times as many pigs in China as anywhere else, but Denmark’s huge pork industry means it has the highest pig-to-person ratio. Of the ten animals shown, China is among the top nations in total numbers for all but tigers, dragons (Komodo) and rats (guinea pigs in Peru and Bolivia, the only numbers available from the FAO). Snake (the departing year) and monkey are omitted for lack of data. Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Asean countries– Brunei (Rooster), M’sia and Thailand (Tiger), Indonesia (Dragon) and Laos (Tiger and Ox) — appear on several of these charts.

Click link to see all all the charts or in bigger format http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/01/daily-chart-19

S’pore’s & other Asean’s currencies undervalued

In Currencies on 25/01/2014 at 4:34 am

All the Asean’s currencies are undervalued in purchase-parity terms vis-a-vis the US$. http://www.economist.com/content/big-mac-index

But the S$ is the least undervalued .i.e. its the strongest Asean currency. So if S’pore raises interest rates as TRE posters are calling, money will flood in from the other currencies.  And property prices will fly and the economy tank as exports will be uncompetitive. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/tre-readers-are-illiterate-in-economics-and-finance/

Why Thai politics is broken: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/01/economist-explains-13

Indonesia’s most popular politician in the yr of presidential elections: http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/01/indonesias-most-popular-politician

The problems facing the PM of Cambodia (BTW, he admires one Harry Lee): http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/01/future-democracy-cambodia

RHB Capital says S’pore is gd place to expand

In Banks, Economy, Malaysia on 22/01/2014 at 4:40 am

So gd, that RHB Bank S’pore expects to triple profit by 2016.

RHB Bank will aggressively expand its Singapore business by three-fold within the next two years, by focusing on the small and medium enterprise business, wealth management as well as corporate and investment banking.

To meet the increased business needs, RHB Bank Singapore will be doubling its staff strength from the current 500 to 1000, the bank said Thursday.

The aggressive expansion in Singapore is part of the group’s regional strategy, said to U Chen Hock, director of group international business at RHB Banking Grou… the official opening of RHB’s latest branch in Westgate Mall in East Jurong. . (Last week’s BT)

Maybe RHB’s mgt doesn’t read a certain Forbes contributor (no not refering to one LKY), or TRE readers’ comments on S’pore’s prospects or that  more than 90% of the Marina Bay Suites are unoccupied: only 20 of the 221 units at the 66-storey tower are occupied. . But I do know that the RHB research institute has a well respected economist.

S’poreans own Iskandar

In Malaysia on 19/01/2014 at 4:47 am

Yesterday’s ST carried pages and pages of ads for a project in IskandarLand.

This reminded of a BT story earlier this yr which reported:Singaporeans make up a hefty 74 per cent of foreigners who have snapped up its properties – a figure that surpasses all the other foreign buyers combined.

Looks like the developers want even more S’poreans. Remember the previous Sultan warned about foreigners taking over Johor when IskandarLand was proposed many yrs ago?

Might as well send SAF over? I’m sure the DAP MP there would have no objection. His heloo is one LKY. When his son became Penang’s chief minister, son made a trip to S’pore to see LKY and son.

Oh and without us, Iskandar would be a ghost town like this in China:

One could well surmise that the year 2013 was when Iskandar Malaysia – the country’s first economic growth corridor – finally came of age in a big way.
The mega-project, which turned seven last November, reported some encouraging numbers as far as its investments were concerned, although some investors are treading with caution after the government announced measures to cool speculation in the region’s red-hot property market.
Iskandar Malaysia, a 2,217 sq km region in southern Johor, is three times the size of neighbouring Singapore.
As at Oct 31 last year, Iskandar Malaysia had attracted RM129.4 billion (S$49.8 billion) in committed investments – 44 per cent of which has been realised so far – putting it on track to meet its lofty targets of RM383 billion by 2025 and GDP of US$93.3 billion.
This goal, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in a recent speech, must be achieved in order to transform Iskandar into an international metropolis.
Ismail Ibrahim, chief executive of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), expects Iskandar Malaysia to secure RM22 billion in investments this year, beating the RM21 billion in 2013.
Singapore is still by far the biggest investor in Iskandar Malaysia, accounting for 16 per cent of its total foreign investment as at June last year.
Singaporeans from all walks of life are sitting up and taking notice of developments up north, their curiosity piqued after several household names in the Singapore corporate scene pumped big money into Iskandar Malaysia – a telling sign of the level of confidence in the project’s staying power and viability.
Last February, Temasek Holdings and CapitaLand signed a deal with Iskandar Waterfront Holdings to build a S$3.2 billion township in Danga Bay, featuring luxury condominiums, shopping malls and bungalows.
Temasek and its Malaysian counterpart, Khazanah Nasional, are also jointly developing two wellness projects in Medini with a total development gross value of RM5.2 billion.
Medini is a mixed-use urban development that will feature a lifestyle and leisure cluster, a logistics village, a creative park and an international financial district, among others.
Many other Singapore firms are also striking while the iron is still hot. Last month, Iskandar Waterfront Holdings sold 15 ha of seafront land in Danga Bay for RM1.6 billion to Hao Yuan Investment, which is planning a RM8 billion development featuring, among others, peninsula Malaysia’s tallest tower.
In October 2013, Singapore billionaire and former remisier king Peter Lim unveiled plans for his RM5.5 billion Vantage Bay project that will include twin towers and is set to become one of the tallest condominiums in Malaysia.
But it is Iskandar’s property market that is getting the most attention, especially from Singapore-based investors.
According to developer UEM Sunrise, Singaporeans make up a hefty 74 per cent of foreigners who have snapped up its properties – a figure that surpasses all the other foreign buyers combined.
Most of these Singaporeans are people who either travel to Johor often for business or those who want a weekend home, according to UEM Sunrise CEO Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim.
UEM Sunrise is the master developer of Nusajaya, which is Iskandar Malaysia’s administrative capital and billed as the region’s crown jewel.
Overall, the greater number of investors flocking to Iskandar Malaysia has helped push home prices up considerably. The cost of bungalows at UEM’s East Ledang development, for instance, has surged 44 per cent on average in the resale market since 2011.

Interestingly the BT story played down the problems that developers and potential buyers are facing regarding the new rules for foreigners.. ST says, DEVELOPERS in Malaysia’s red-hot development region Iskandar are still struggling to understand the country’s new property curbs, some three months after they surprised the market.

They are not the only ones. Phones have been ringing off the hook at the sales offices of some popular property projects.

Potential buyers, particularly foreigners, have been desperate to seek clarity on how the new rules affect them or if they do.

“We were given sketchy guidelines on the new rules with lots of disclaimers, which means many of these rules are still being tweaked,” said an executive from a firm with a major development in booming Iskandar, three times the size of Singapore.

.BT says:

But Malaysia is taking steps to prevent its own real estate inflation from emerging as well as appeasing locals who complain that they can barely afford to own a home.
In his Budget speech last October, Mr Najib – who is also the co-chairman of IRDA – doubled the minimum amount foreigners must spend on property and raised the capital gains tax to 30 per cent on homes they sell within five years.
Just how these latest rulings will impact the property market in Iskandar Malaysia remains to be seen, especially coupled with Johor’s decision to impose a new tax of 4 to 5 per cent on foreigners who buy property – both commercial and residential – in the state to curb speculative fervour.This is a big step up from the current rules which require foreigners to pay a one-off fee of RM10,000 regardless of the property’s value.

BT keeps on plugging Medini:
Medini, meanwhile, could be seeing more investment in the coming years, with the zone exempt from the higher 30 per cent property gains tax.
In fact, Medini – home to a new Legoland theme park and hotel, and Britain’s famous Pinewood Studios – has been exempt from property gains taxes since day one as part of the plan by IRDA to drive more investments there.
Looking ahead, the year 2014 could prove to be an even more monumental one for Iskandar Malaysia, should two major initial public offerings (IPO) be launched as planned.
Medini is looking to raise some RM2.5 billion when it eventually goes public. Iskandar Waterfront Holdings, meanwhile, was on track for a US$300 million IPO in the first quarter of this year, but has since delayed it to the end of 2014 to gauge the impact of the numerous property cooling measures.
From the government’s perspective, it will do all it can to ensure Iskandar Malaysia remains vibrant and attractive to both local and foreign investors, Mr Najib said last month.
“The federal government is committed to ensuring the success of Iskandar Malaysia and we are working with the Johor government, the private and public sectors, and the people of Johor to ensure the economic region’s growth,” he said.
“It is vital to ensure that projects are successfully completed on time and within budget to build investor and public confidence in Iskandar Malaysia and attract more investments. This will generate a momentum that will bring about multiplier effects and sustainable economic activities,” he said.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/what-a-4-room-hdb-flat-buys-in-iskandar-kl/

Intellectual netizen hero critiques doom monger & govt policy

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Property on 18/01/2014 at 4:56 am

(Or “Are S’pore & other major Asean economies are doomed?)

Even though Singapore is no longer an emerging market nation, I consider its bubble economy to be part of the overall emerging markets bubble that I have been warning about due to its strategic role and location in Southeast Asia, which is also known as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). My recent reports on Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia show that the entire region is caught up in a massive bubble, and Singapore is benefiting from this bubble by acting as ASEAN’s financial center.

(http://www.forbes.com/sites/jessecolombo/2014/01/13/why-singapores-economy-is-heading-for-an-iceland-style-meltdown)

This piece and its sequel have been well publicised, and the central babk has critiqued the first piece (It would wouldn’t it?)

Readers may recall that Donald Low is a scholar who has liberal viewers despite being the Associate Dean (Executive Education and Research) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He served fifteen years in the Singapore government and I’ve been told he was one of the fathers of Workfare (a scheme I support though I think it’s too mean). He critiqued the article on Facebook as regards S’pore. I’ve paragraphed hos comments to make it easier on the eye:

Donald Low’s FC

There’s a Forbes article on an impending crash in Singapore circulating widely on FB. I won’t dignify it by posting it but here are my thoughts about it: I read the article a while ago and wasn’t at all convinced with his line of argument. It’s just far too sweeping.

Above all, if you look at the usual triggers of financial crises, they are mostly non-existent in Singapore. We don’t have a large current account deficit – on the contrary, we have a huge current account surplus. We don’t have a large fiscal deficit – we run structural budget surpluses. And we don’t have an highly leveraged/indebted household or corporate sector.

On his point about a housing bubble in Singapore fueled by low interest rates, he is partially correct. But to claim that we are on the verge of financial collapse on account of that is utter nonsense. Our leverage ratios are still healthy and I suspect a large part of the run-up in housing prices in recent years is inadequate supply – a problem which has now been largely corrected. Will we see house prices fall this year? Yes, quite possibly. My guess is 10% but even if house prices were to fall 20%, I don’t think it will impact the health of our banks or even our households. There will be households that have negative equity, but as long as they have the cash flow to service their mortgages, it will not precipitate a financial crash.

But there is one argument from the article that is worth highlighting and which I mostly agree with. And that is booms which are led by real estate development and the financial sector are mostly illusory. They create the impression of economic dynamism without creating any real productive capacity in the economy (think back to Bangkok, KL and Jakarta just before the Asian crisis). They also distort and re-direct resources away from productive activities. Real estate and finance are inherently distributive, not creative, activities – they move money and wealth around, but they don’t produce any productive capacity and technological capabilities for the economy.

So when I argue that the Singapore government should look not just at the quantity of growth, but also the quality of growth, I have in mind not just equity and distributional considerations, but also the composition of growth. Is the growth coming from manufacturing and high value-added services, or is it dominated by real estate and finance? If it’s the latter, we have a structural problem.

Finally, I would also highlight that what this article reveals is the failure of government efforts to attract high net worth individuals to Singapore, to make Singapore a wealth management hub for the rich, and to bring in more billionaires even if they increase inequality. I think the costs to the economy and society of such efforts far outweigh their benefits. What productive capacity do property speculators and HNWIs who park their monies in Singapore help to create? So yes, we get a tiny wealth management industry that employs a few thousand people and manages several billion dollars. We can easily do without these ‘benefits’. Meanwhile, their costs in terms of raising property prices, the competition they create for positional goods, and their ostentatious lifestyles undermine our egalitarian norms and values. They also reduce the trust and mutual regard citizens have for one another, undermining their willingness to contribute to more redistribution. All in, I would say that the efforts to attract rich foreigners to Singapore are incredibly misguided.

Indonesia: Carry on burning

In Indonesia on 12/01/2014 at 4:37 am

Global map of forest change

The map shows forest change from 2000-12. Green areas are forested; red suffered forest loss; blue showed forest gain; pink experienced both loss and gain. Meanwhile, the govt continues smoking M’sia and S’pore by making promises that it has no intention of fulfilling.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/haze-over-indons-start-two-timing-again/

Raffles Place, Padang area in an alternate universe?

In Uncategorized on 11/01/2014 at 4:41 am

A glimpse of a S’pore if the present lot of SAF generals and admirals in the cabinet (and BG Yeo) had been in charge of S’pore in the early 60s instead of LKY, Dr Goh etc. Going by the performance of LHL, Teo, Lui, kee Chui and Tan (and BG Yeo) over the last few yrs, Raffles Place and the Padang would be like the biz and administrative hubs of Yangon shown in the video in http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/01/yangons-heritage

A WALK AROUND battered, ramshackle Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and former capital, quickly makes it clear how far the country has fallen behind the rest of Asia over the past half-century. In large part the place is but a ghostly reminder of former glories. Under British colonial rule, before independence in 1948, Rangoon (as it was then) was a thriving, cosmopolitan entrepot, the capital of Burma, one of the region’s wealthiest countries. All that came to an abrupt end in 1962 after a junta of army officers, led by the brutal General Ne Win, seized power and launched the country on the quasi-Marxist “Burmese Way to Socialism”. Private foreign-owned businesses were nationalised, prompting the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, many of Indian origin. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/why-young-sporeans-should-be-sent-to-yangon/

No other Asean round-up news this week. Keep an eye on Thailand, the problems there are a gd ad and PR for the PAP http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/thailand-huge-ad-gd-pr-for-pap-govt/

Welfare: Govt still missing the point

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 08/01/2014 at 4:25 am

Two Saturdays ago, I blogged:

After the general election (GE) in May, Malaysia was put on notice by the international rating agencies that it had to get its fiscal discipline right. Prime Minister Najib Razak responded by first cutting fuel subsidies and raising petrol prices by 10 per cent in September.

In his October Budget, Mr Najib abolished sugar subsides and pledged to cut total subsidies by 17 per cent in the financial year. The Budget did not achieve that, so most commentators expect more fuel subsidy cuts possibly in the second half of the year. Mr Najib also promised a 6 per cent goods and services tax (GST) by next April.

Indonesia too has a problem with its fuel subsidy: it’s eating up a growing share of the budget, and meanwhile Thailand has a problem with its rice subsidy for farmers. It’s so bad that there are reports that there are farmers not receiving the subsidy. The govt doesn’t have the money.

S’pore govt doesn’t have this problem: the govt doesn’t do subsidies (except in public housing, healthcare and public tpt*: though even PAP Wormtongues** like that Jason chap cannot explain where the subsidies are in healthcare and public housing: they can only repeat parrot-like the govt’s statements about the subsidies, which is there is a subsidy).

The govt claims a more focused, targeted approach in helping the needy.

But sadly in its targeted, focused approach in helping the needy, it believes in the values of Scrooge as I blogged here. I won’t go into the details on its meanness in helping poorer or older S’poreans ’cause Uncle Leong has repeatedly provided the numbers detailing its Scrooginess. But juz to remind, here is one example: Workfare is gd in principle (better than minimum wage) in my view, but too mean.

And even when it increases welfare spending by a few pennies: Acting Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong has cautioned against getting Singapore into debt, even as the government ramps up social assistance.

He said state spending has to be kept sustainable to avoid passing the burden to future generations.http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-must-be-careful/889756.html

And despite their S$ 2.5bn++ annual contribution, manual FT workers don’t get help, when they should.

M’sia, Indonesia and Thailand have got their finances messed up because of the use of subsidies but they understand one thing: that spending on welfare is an investment in human resources. What they got wrong is welfare by way of subsidies.

Our govt has got the right idea on subsidies: they are often wasteful, always juz grow and grow, and, often, the people who don’t need them benefit the most, example middle class people  and the wealthy benefit the most from any fuel subsidy, not the poor.

But it hasn’t got it: that spending on welfare can be an investment in people. This is something that developed countries, our Asean neighbours, China, India understand. But our govt doesn’t seem not to understand: it’s a Hard Truth thatwelfare spending is a waste of resources. The money could be given to Temasek and GIC to punt the markets is another Hard truth.

If the PAP wants to reconnect with the 40% of voters who voted against the PAP in the last GE, and please its base (including the 35% that “Die, die must vote PAP” , it should rethink its Hard Truth that welfare spending is consumption, not investment. However anti-PAP paper activists should be glad that the govt is unlikely to change its thinking.

As ex-scholar Donald Low put it: “What all this points to is that we really need a more robust welfare system that gives Singaporeans much greater assurance of income when they are unemployed, old or sick. The low fertility rate and the desire of even well-to-do Singaporeans to retire somewhere else are signs that the state needs to craft a new social contract with Singaporeans, that it needs to develop more mechanisms to pool risks and give Singaporeans security.

The argument that we cannot afford all these because the population is ageing is mostly a bogeyman. It is partly because we don’t have a proper welfare system that the population is ageing as rapidly as it is. This has also been the experience in much of East Asia – where the relative absence of social security led to falling fertility rates and eventually, rapid ageing.”

But anti-govt activists should be worried that he is Associate Dean (Executive Education and Research) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Maybe, juz maybe, there’ll be changes in the mentality of the PAP.

—-

*Even the S$1.1bn spent on tpt is spare change as it’s spread out over five yrs, I think.

**Wormtongue is a minor character in The Lord of the Rings: his name describes his character.

Dr M, like one LKY, is losing his memory

In Malaysia, Political economy, Political governance on 31/12/2013 at 4:46 am

(There is some analysis of what one LKY said tagged on at the end but yes it’s analysis about M’sia week (previous) ).

Going by this extract from BT, seems that Dr M has forgotten that there was almost no money left in the Treasury when he stepped down.

FORMER Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that Putrajaya should cut its own costs before burdening the public with higher taxes and tariffs.

It was his first public comment on what has fast become a contentious issue among Malaysians: an increasing cost of living that is set to escalate in 2014.

After the general election (GE) in May, Malaysia was put on notice by the international rating agencies that it had to get its fiscal discipline right. Prime Minister Najib Razak responded by first cutting fuel subsidies and raising petrol prices by 10 per cent in September.

In his October Budget, Mr Najib abolished sugar subsides and pledged to cut total subsidies by 17 per cent in the financial year. The Budget did not achieve that, so most commentators expect more fuel subsidy cuts possibly in the second half of the year. Mr Najib also promised a 6 per cent goods and services tax (GST) by next April.

Yes, yes, I know Badawi accused him of over-spending. But the fact that Badawi and now Najib are having to cut back govt spending shows that Dr M overspent when he was in power. Sadly this never happened here. If only GCT had spent more, LHL, would not be in so much shit. But don’t pity PM: he was DPM then, and in charge of economical and financial matters.

Coming back to Dr M. We can’t be too hard on him given that one LKY said that S’pore was a “barren rock” before the PAP took power. He must have got HK in mind when the British seized HK from the Chinese. I’ll let a HK official tell the story, It was on this day, January 20 in 1841 that a treaty was signed ceding Hong Kong to the United Kingdom.

 To cut a long story short, Captain Charles Elliot of the British Royal Navy had negotiated the terms of the agreement and reported them to Lord Palmerston who was then the Foreign Secretary in London.

Lord Palmerston was outraged that Britain had got such a raw end of the deal. He promptly dismissed Captain Elliot from his post and famously declared that Hong Kong was, and I quote: “A barren rock with nary a house upon it. It will never be a mart for trade.”

S’pore as all TRE readers will be able to tell you was the second most important port in Asia, though they may not tell you (because they may not know)  that it had problems, problems  outlined below*.

LKY would have been on safer ground if he had told S’poreans what might have happened if S’pore had gotten bad govt (like in Burma). But then S’poreans could rightly have asked if there were credible alternatives. The answer to that is not so obvious and detracts from the narrative that the PAP made S’pore. It didn’t: S’poreans of my parents’ generation made  modernS’pore on the colonial foundation. The PAP helped in the making.

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

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

Publisher:  Marshall Cavendish International Asia

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

* MAI Adjunct Research Fellow

Reviewed here: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/im-invested-in-spore-spore-in-50s-60s/

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

1Malay not 1M’sian

In Malaysia on 29/12/2013 at 5:55 am

The u/m extract reflects the consensus among analysts (not connected to the govt or oppo) on how UMNO will behave.

Umno’s three-pronged strategy towards GE14
 
This conservative logic formed the bedrock of the “back to basics” strategy that was spelt out by Najib, whose speech was themed “Fortifying the Future”. Going forward, Umno will pursue three strategic thrusts – or what Najib called the “three messages from the assembly”: The first is a turn towards Islamic Shariah; the second is a stronger Malay and bumiputra agenda, for which, he said, Umno need not be apologetic; and the third a “transformed Umno” as a “party of the 21st century”. It is significant that Umno as the “party of the future” will become not just more Malay, but Islamist at the same time.    

Becoming more Islamist for a Malay-nationalist party like Umno is an equally significant shift. Ideologically-driven Islamist parties actually find ethno-nationalism objectionable. Umno clearly is positioning itself as the primary political vehicle for the Malay and Muslim constituency, thus raising the prospects of an all-out contest for power with the opposition Islamist PAS, even as Umno – paradoxically – woos PAS for unity talks. Umno’s drift towards a more Islamist identity was marked by a highly controversial drive to pitch itself as the defender of Sunni Islam in the face of what it paints as the growing threat of Shiism in the country. The federal constitution would be reworded to define the official religion as “Islam Sunnah Wal Jamaah” or Sunni Islam, not simply Islam. That this move is partly politically-motivated is seen in the immediate targeting of the PAS deputy leader as a closet Shia and therefore a threat.

The second thrust of a greater push for the Malay and bumiputra agenda is clearly aimed at solidifying the Peninsular-East Malaysia axis around the Malay core. Najib conceded the crucial role of the “fixed deposit” states of Sabah and Sarawak in BN’s ultimate win in the last GE. As many see it, if not for these two states, there would have been a change of government in Malaysia. With Najib’s renewed emphasis on the Malay and bumiputra agenda, the New Economic Policy that officially ended in 1990 but was unofficially continued, has finally been resurrected in all but name. CEOs of all government-linked companies have been given KPIs to realise this goal on pain of seeing their contracts not renewed.

To complete the three-pronged strategy, Umno will go all out to win the young voters. In the next GE, some six million new voters will be casting for the first time. The majority are likely to be anti-establishment and anti-Umno. They could make a difference whether there will finally be a change of government or not in GE14. No wonder Najib made it clear: UMNO must win over the young voters and master the social media with which the young are savvy.
 
Implications

Umno’s eagerness to recover its eroded political ground has seen it responding in unexpected ways, with implications yet to be fully fathomed. Its readiness to march to its own drumbeat is a warning to friend and foe alike that the rules of the game will be set by Umno alone. 

To its ethnic-based political allies in BN, which are facing their own internal crises, the message is that the BN power-sharing system will be on Umno’s terms. To the opposition, the message is clear: whoever controls the Malay and Muslim ground will control power – and it is not going to be the opposition, which is not homogenous ethnically and ideologically. 

Umno is desperate to win. Going forward, all communities will be forced to ponder what this means for them and the country.

http://www.rsis.edu.sg/publications/Perspective/RSIS2362013.pdf?utm_source=getresponse&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=rsis_publications&utm_content=RSIS+Commentary+236%2F2013+Malaysia%E2%80%99s+Political+Outlook+2014%3A+Key+Challenges+Facing+Najib+by+Yang+Razali+Kassim+

Waz interesting is that PAS or a faction of PAS will decide if this strategy works: DAP and Anwar’s gang can only hope the moderates in PAS continue to hold power, and that UMNO doesn’t succeed in splitting PAS. In PAS, the conservatives outnumber the moderates among the PAS supporters. At the leadership level, there is an uneasy consensus between the moderates and conservativesnot to team up with UMNO. Even the conservative leaders have their doubts given that PAS was once a jnr partner of UMNO’s and got stabbed in the back repeatedly.

Now if UMNO decided that it would support the cutting off of limbs, the conservatives of PAS would have no choice but to team up with UMNO. Of course, there is likely a step too far for even UMNO.  But the logical remains (and tempation) remains for UMNO.

BT: Comparing apples to oranges again?

In Emerging markets, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 28/12/2013 at 7:27 am

(Or “Anti-PAP bloggers share LKY’s Hardest Truth)

Schroders plc and Baring Asset Management Ltd are avoiding Singapore stocks, the cheapest in South-east Asia, as slower economic growth in the region and cuts to Federal Reserve stimulus drive capital outflows.

The fund managers expect property to lead declines in Singapore amid a real-estate slump and the prospect of higher interest rates. The Straits Times Index was the worst-performing developed market in 2013, dropping 9.5 per cent since Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said in May that bond purchases may be reduced on signs of sustainable US recovery.

Surprised constructive nation-building (but mathematically challenged) BT reported things this way.

In US$ terms, among the bigger Asean stock mkts, only the M’sian stk mkt was better than us. Taz not saying much as only M’sia index ended in positive territory (juz) juz before hols

M’sia:          +3.2%

S’pore:          -6.0

Thailand:     -8.5

Indonesia:   -23.0

Got subversives in BT meh?

In the minnow Asean mkts Vietnam  was +24%, while Manila was +3.4% according to the MSCI indices.

Next yr is not going to be a gd yr for Asean countries, so the fact that Schroders and Barings are “avoiding” S’pore is no big deal for anti-PAP bloggers to brag about. Don’t know about you, but I get the sense that some of them hate the PAP so much that they end up cheering and being cheerful when S’pore tanks, for whatever reason. Looks like they agree with one LKY that S’pore and the PAP are one. They may hate him but they accept his premise?

Asean round-up returns next yr, god willing.

Thailand: Huge ad, gd PR for PAP govt?

In Political economy on 21/12/2013 at 9:12 am

The PAP govt is forever warning that if it loses power, or even loses one more parly seat, chaos will ensure.

Happily 40% of voters no longer believe this self-serving nonsense (hence LKY had to warn Aljunied voters that they would repent; and sneerer of the elderly poor, ACS boy is highlighting every molehill of the WP Aljunied town council), though I must point out that .70% of voters voted for two prominent ex PAPpies in the presidential election. The ex-PAP man who denounced PAP lost his deposit. Dr Chee’s man only got 25%: credible but only ’cause there were two credible ex-PAPpies challenging one another.

So all the more surprising that our constructive, nation-building media hasn’t been highlighting the dire economic situation in Thailand which can be reasonably blamed on Thailand’s more democratic system. Now that BN has closed down, time to bring back Bertha Henson to ST and make her editor? Yaacob’s sis (and Cherian George’s Mrs) isn’t doing the “right” things by the PAPpies, Spock – another bald, pointy ears: SPH’s Managing Editor elder brother?– could conclude.

So far as investors and businessmen crave certainty and predictability, the only thing certain in Thailand these days is unpredictability. The prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, Mr Thaksin’s sister, now seems to have only the shakiest grasp on power. It’s a fair bet the election she has called for February 2014 will never even happen. She has assembled forums to discuss vague concepts of “reform”, to appease Mr Suthep. At the same time Mr Suthep pushes for a completely new government to be run by an unelected “people’s council”. That is also known as a coup.

For Thai businessmen, this is coming at the worst possible time: the beginning of the tourist season. Tourism is vital to the national economy. Last year the country pulled in about 22m visitors. Overall, the tourism-and-travel sector contributed about $28 billion to Thailand’s economy, which would make it worth 7.3% of GDP for 2012, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Including tourism-and-travel’s indirect impact on the economy would make the sector’s value rise to $64.3 billion, or 16.7% of GDP. The sector employs about 2m people directly, and far more indirectly.

There are already signs that the ongoing street protests and occasional political violence and thuggery are putting plenty of people off coming to the country—hardly surprising, as dozens of foreign governments have issued warnings against travelling to Thailand. The political situation is estimated to have reduced the number of inbound tourists in the month to mid-December by 300,000 people, or 8% of the number expected, says Yutthachai Soonthronrattanavate, president of the Association of Domestic Travel.

That is worrying, as is the thought that the current turmoil could drag on to the election in February, or even longer if that proves inconclusive—in other words, throughout the high season. Mindful of the value of the tourism industry, Mr Suthep’s mobs have promised not to occupy and close down Bangkok’s international airport, as their predecessors, the “yellow shirts”, did in 2008. That is now well understood to have hurt the tourist industry, and the wider economy.

That will not be enough to offset the difference however, as even more tourists are now attuned to Thailand’s problems and willing go elsewhere on their merry ways. Bangkok also makes a bundle as a destination for conferences and conventions, but now organisers are actively considering going to other South-East Asian venues rather than endure the road closures and traffic chaos that accompany endless rounds of street demos (to say nothing of the threat of violence).

The government’s own grandiose spending plans have been thrown up in the air too.A key part of the government’s economic strategy had been to boost domestic demand by Keynesian-style spending, the political failure to have a functioning government has effectively undermined that whole strategy. Plans to borrow as much as $68 billion for new railways and roads are to be put on the back-burner as parliamentary and constitutional approval for these bills is delayed indefinitely. Many businesses, such as construction companies, stood to benefit from those expenditures, and now their plans have been derailed as badly as any holidaymaker’s. Thailand’s growth rate for 2013 is likely to weigh in at 3% or so, relatively modest for the region. The government’s hope to achieve a rate of 7% for 2014 now looks wildly optimistic.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/12/business-thailand

Merry Christmas, all, PAPpies and TRe readers, included.

No other Asean news for this week’s Asean-round-up. Lazy leh.

LKY must be angry LOL

In Footie, Malaysia on 14/12/2013 at 6:43 am

(Asean round-up)

Remember LKY saying Johor was full of crime?

Well whatever the truth of that, at least FTs have not rioted in M’sia. Taz, the message MediaCorp’s ST Lite has reported on an inside page: The police and Immigration Department have been put on alert at foreign worker enclaves across Malaysia after the riot in Singapore last week, the country’s Home Minister said in a report in The Star newspaper yesterday …

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said officers have been instructed to monitor areas where foreign workers congregate, especially those identified as potential hot spots for outbreaks of violence.

Dr Ahmad Zahid was quoted by The Star as saying: “We are always observing the activities of foreign workers and are ready to overcome any potential threat … We are also looking at workers’ quarters nationwide, so the public need not worry.”

Locations under surveillance include landmarks in the heart of the capital, such as the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, which houses the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.

Between May 30 and June 4, three Myanmar nationals were killed and several others injured in fights in various areas in Kuala Lumpur. The authorities subsequently arrested more than 1,000 Myanmar nationals during raids in Kuala Lumpur and parts of Selangor. [Had to tell us this]

But ST Lite saboed our govt’s attempts to say that there was no evidence working conditions were a cause of the riot (How ministers know leh? If so why call CoI?) by reporting: Growing discontent among foreign workers in Malaysia due to poor working conditions, discrimination and low wages is like a “time bomb”, Bernama yesterday quoted the leader of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) as saying.

MTUC President Khalid Atan said the riot in Singapore should serve as a wake-up call and the organisation called on the Human Resource Ministry to hold a tripartite meeting between the government, employers and employees to map out a strategy to prevent rioting by foreign workers.

He said the MTUC felt the government should take steps to reduce and even curtail the recruitment of foreign workers until it has a plan to address their basic needs and rights.

Anyway, let’s cheer on our LionsXII. Looks like the game against Laos was the exception due to the courage of Laos’ ten men. Credit to Laos, not shame on our LionsXII. If our XII do well in this tournament (gold medals) Fandhi will have a problem. But taz his problem, not ours.

 

 

Tan Kuku for tsunami of Jap $ in 2014

In Japan on 10/12/2013 at 5:42 am

When the BOJ under governor Haruhiko Kuroda launched its monetary base-doubling quantitative and and qualitative easing (QQE) policy in April, there were strong expectations that a “tsunami” of Japanese funds would rush into Southeast Asia in search of higher yields.

So far, that has not happened even though Japanese institutional and individual investors are said to be eager to increase their exposure to Southeast Asian markets. A principal reason for their hesitancy, officials say, is Japanese investors’ fear of being exposed to exchange rate risk.

As a result, there is “intense discussion going on now between Japanese and Asean officials on ways to improve and enlarge the (currency) hedging markets” in Asean, according to Iwan Aziz, head of the Office of Regional Economic Integration at the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB).– BT report last week

Well can tan kuku for an agreement. Asean officials more noted for talking cock than doing something, anything.

And anyway, this region will not be flavour of the month early next yr. The West is. Don’t count on a wall of Jap money.

Asean’s prospects in 2014

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 07/12/2013 at 6:25 am

(Asean round-up)

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) says Asean is looking gd: Asean as a whole to grow 5.0 per cent this year, still weighed down by Thailand’s recession. And although the country is tipped to recover in the second half of this year, it may be affected by China’s soft landing, which is projected to extend into next year and dampen its demand for Asean’s goods and services.

As for individual countries (I’ve excluded S’pore as I will analyse it next week with reference to politics):

Not only is economic growth in the Philippines expected to take a hit, the report says intra-regional trade will suffer, hampering growth in other Asean countries.

Strong government spending and higher exports to China in the second half of the year were tipped to boost the Philippine GDP to 6.9 per cent this year, but Typhoon Haiyan is expected to make growth “noticeably weaker” in the final quarter of the year.

Slower government spending and a tighter US monetary policy will cap growth at 5.8 per cent next year, said the report.

Stubbornly high unemployment and extreme poverty, along with the need to lift interest rates to attract capital, will trim the country’s GDP growth to 4.8 per cent in 2015, it added.

The Cebr report’s prediction for Thailand is that its economy will grow 3.4 per cent this year. Thanks to healthier consumption and export growth, it will jump by 4.4 per cent next year; stronger exports to Western markets will nudge the Thai economy up 4.5 per cent in 2015. [Note thar report was written before the recent bout of trouble]

In Malaysia, growth will be at 4.6 per cent courtesy of a lift from China’s economy. But weakened Chinese growth will depress Malaysia’s growth to 4.2 per cent next year.

A revamped general sales tax in 2015 could further hinder growth, but a stronger global economy should ease this somewhat. Cebr forecasts that Malaysia’s GDP growth will be 4.1 per cent in 2015.

Indonesia, Asean’s biggest economy, is likely to grow 5.7 per cent this year, as a slight uptick in the Chinese economy in the second half of the year is expected to soften the effect of China’s cooling economy on Indonesian exports.

But the report said the US’ tighter monetary policy and higher interest rates will lower Indonesia’s growth to 5.6 per cent next year and the year after.

(http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/top-stories/spore-economy-stay-pink-next-2-years-20131205)

What a 4-room HDB flat buys in Iskandar & KL.

In Malaysia, Property on 01/12/2013 at 4:28 am
Why it’s right to vote for the PAP if one has fully-paid up or even if 50% paid up,  landed, condo or HDB flat:
While Horizon Hills surrounds a golf course and is luxurious by Malaysian standards, homes cost far less than in Singapore. Four-bedroom houses in the 1,200-acre (487-hectare) development, popular with expatriates, are advertised online at $270 per square foot, compared with the $503 per square foot asked for a four-bedroom public-housing flat in Singapore’s central Bishan district.
The average price of a new 1,000-square-foot (93-square-meter) condominium in Singapore is between $800,000 and $960,000, according to London-based broker Savills Plc. A similar-sized place in Kuala Lumpur costs about $374,000, according to CBRE Group Inc.’s Malaysian unit. [[Less than 4-room HDB flat too.]
(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-19/singapore-property-boom-fuels-malaysia-spillover-bubble.html)And property in Iskandar will only get cheaper:
Iskandar developers seen taking a big hitHeftier taxes, scrapping of easy financing will deter buyers, says RHB ResearchDEVELOPERS with substantial exposure to the Iskandar Malaysia region are expected to be the “worst hit” by recent property measures, as heftier taxes would deter short-term foreign purchasers who also account for a significant portion of residential sales in some areas, a research house has said.

At the same time, overseas developers are expected to be more cautious about land transactions as more punitive taxes could lead to higher landholding costs, said RHB Research.

CBRE data indicates that foreign buyers account for 54 per cent of total high-rise residential sales (by developers) in Nusajaya, and 39 per cent in Johor Baru and major suburbs.

But the new 30 per cent RPGT (real property gains tax) on foreigners who gain on disposals within the first five years of acquisition is likely to “wipe out short-term foreign speculators to a certain extent”, RHB observed in a real estate report dated yesterday. (Friday’s BT)

Related posts: http://atans1.wordpress.com/tag/iskandarland/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/paps-view-of-us-40ers/

2014: Last chance for govt to increase prices?

In Economy, Indonesia, Political governance on 30/11/2013 at 5:51 am

(Asean round-up)

Ministers no longer joke about COE prices not affecting core inflation, (related post) ’cause increase in food prices is affecting core inflation.

In addition to Thai meat, maybe Burmese rice (see below) will help curb food inflation prior to next GE. Remember that public tpt fares are going up soon despite lack of much improvement. This is ’cause SMRT needs $ (scholar, ex-SAF chief says biz model broken, but nothing that higher fares can’t fix) and 2014 is last possible time that fares can rise. GE must be held in 2016, and increasing fares in 2015 may be too risky for PAP. As an election may be held in 2015, January to June 2014 is the last window of opportunity for us to kanna pay and pay.

Burma plans to more than double rice shipments as the country that used to be the largest exporter embraces trade and opens its economy, challenging Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia for sales amid a global glut.

Shipments may increase to 2.5 million tonnes in 2014-2015 from an estimated 1.8 million tonnes in the year that started on April 1, according to Toe Aung Myint, director-general of the Department of Trade Promotion at the Ministry of Commerce. Exports are targeted to increase to 4.8 million tonnes in 2019-2020, he said when Hong Kong.

Indonesian coal and property firms could find obtaining loans increasingly difficult next year as banks tighten their lending due to higher interest rates, slowing economic growth and a weakening rupiah, industry officials said. The rupiah has fallen nearly 20 per cent so far this year, hitting 12,000 per US dollar yesterday for the first time in almost five years.

The central bank this month issued guidance to banks to slow loan growth to 15-17 per cent next year, from 18-20 per cent this year, in an effort to protect the financial system from potential turbulence amid heightened global uncertainties. In response, Bank Mandiri, Bank Central Asia (BCA), Bank Tabungan Negara, and other top financial institutions are becoming more particular about companies they lend to.

“We haven’t turned cautious for any sector, but we see challenges in infrastructure, construction, coal, cement, and real estate because of several policies. We are expecting a slowdown,” said Eugene Gailbraith, a BCA director, at an investment conference. He said that the country’s biggest bank by market value plans to “take a breather” and will lend less than its expected 45 trillion rupiah (S$4.79 billion) target this year.

Loan growth at Bank Mandiri is seen slowing to 17-18 per cent in 2014 from 19-20 per cent this year, while Bank Jabar Banten eases to 22 per cent from 33 per cent, company officials said. “We will be more cautious on sectors that are sensitive to interest rates,” said Pahala Mansury, Bank Mandiri chief financial officer. Indonesia’s increased hesitation to lend to coal companies comes as no surprise with banks around the world curbing their exposure to the industry due to a sharp fall in demand and prices. For the property sector, Bank Indonesia has made the industry less attractive to banks by implementing several policy measures to curb the purchases of second homes. Financial institutions are expected to favour consumer driven industries, such as retail and food companies, as domestic consumption continues to remain strong. – Reuters. (BT report)

Indonesia’s most aggressive rate tightening in eight years has barely dented a current account deficit, prompting calls for more increases and other measures before the Federal Reserve cuts stimulus.

Bank Indonesia has raised borrowing costs by 1.75 percentage points to 7.5% since early June, the quickest since 2005.

Following data which recently showed the country recorded its second-highest current account shortfall on record in the three months through September, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Standard Chartered now see a further 50 basis points of increases in the first half of next year.

Foreign funds pulled US$3.8bn from Indonesian stocks and local currency bonds in June after the Fed said it could cut stimulus, and a lack of progress on improving the current account before the US does eventually taper leaves the country vulnerable to another sudden outflow.

In addition to ongoing political unrest in Thailand:

Thai factory output shrank more than expected in October, adding to a string of weak data that prompted the central bank to unexpectedly cut interest rates to support the economy as mounting political tension dents confidence.

The Industry Ministry now expects output to fall 2.8 per cent this year, rather than growth of 0.5-1.0 per cent projected earlier, but predicts a rise of 2 per cent next year.

October was the seventh straight month in which output has declined, falling 4.02 per cent from a year earlier. The median forecast of a Reuters poll was for a decline of 3.3 per cent.

In September, output dropped 2.9 per cent. (BT report)

– Thailand’s central bank unexpectedly lowered the cost of credit Wednesday as escalating protests to topple the government add to pressure on the economy.

The central bank lowered its policy interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 2.25 %, hoping to stimulate lending and investment, saying  in a statement that the “ongoing political situation” could compound existing weaknesses in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy. Business confidence is fragile and government plans for $69.5 billion of spending on high speed rail and other transport infrastructure have been delayed by legal challenges.

Thailand’s third quarter economic growth was weaker than expected and a recovery in exports has not gained traction, the bank said. Earlier this month, Thailand’s economic planning agency cut its growth forecast for this year to 3% from 3.8-4.3% predicted in August.

Govt faciliates spying and tax avoidance, but bans Ashley Madison: Uniquely PAP

In Economy, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Political governance, Telecoms on 27/11/2013 at 5:05 am

In the space of a few days, the govt is facing or is likely to face uncomfortable questions from other govts about its activities: activities that the usual suspects, could reasonably argue, show the two-timing nature of the PAP govt that they (they the usual suspects) detest and wish it all the ill-will in the world.

Malaysia said it will summon Singapore’s high commissioner today to respond to allegations of spying which risk damaging improved political and business ties between the Southeast Asian neighbors.

Indonesia and Malaysia have been key targets for Australian and U.S. intelligence cooperation since the 1970s, facilitated in part by Singapore, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday, citing documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. Malaysia’s foreign ministry said it was “extremely concerned” and had already acted against earlier claims of espionage by the U.S. and Australia.

The reports could also spur friction between Singapore and Indonesia, Tan said. “The Indonesians would probably be concerned whether the information is also being shared with Singapore intelligence, besides the Australians*.”

(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-26/malaysia-summons-singapore-commissioner-as-spying-claims-widen.html)

As SingTel was singled out for mention by the Oz newspaper**, and as it has extensive mobile operations in Indonesia and Thailand, and a major stake in a major Indian telco, it could face problems in these countries.

Then there is the issue of how European and US cos are using S’pore to avoid taxes, at a time when there is growing resentment among politicians and voters that these cos are not paying their fair share of taxes. The Indian, Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean govts will also not be too happy too with S’pore’s corporate tax-regime if they read the Economist.

“Taxing times for Singapore as corporate strategy faces scrutiny” was a Reuters headline on 24 November 2013 (BT and Today carried the report too). It gave details of how Apple used S’pore as a tax-saving centre and went on, “Companies justify booking significant amounts of revenue and profits in Singapore by the fact they often run key business functions such as finance and operations, hold intellectual property rights there or base regional executives in the city.”

The chart below (via the Economist) shows a hypothetical scenario where a company moves its headquarters from Singapore (a very low-tax economy) to another country. http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2013/11/corporate-tax-rates

S’pore very cheap place (tax wise) esp compared to Japan. Minister Zorro must be happy: juz as happy as looking as his monthly CPF statement.

The Reuters article went on: Singapore has so far largely stayed out of the debate raging in Europe and the United States about the ways multinationals try to lower their tax bills.

But revenue-hungry governments are looking to impose tougher rules on so-called transfer pricing that could make it harder for firms to trade goods, services or assets between their Singapore and overseas entities.

As a result, accountants warn that the city-state will need to review the level of transparency in its tax incentive schemes and get stronger justifications from companies on their transfer pricing arrangements to fend off challenges from other jurisdictions.

“Singapore’s challenge is to ensure that it stands ready to adequately address any kind of unilateral tax action taken by other countries,” said Abhijit Ghosh, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Singapore.

“In this brave new world of fiscal competition for the tax dollar, dispute resolution will be on the increase and Singapore will need to focus more resources on enforcing and defending its principles of value creation in international forums.”

The city-state’s government says it is against artificially contrived arrangements constructed “solely for the purpose of flouting or exploiting loopholes in tax rules”, according to a spokeswoman from the Ministry of Finance.

However Singapore is also arguing that it should not be singled out because it has low tax rates.

“We must guard against new forms of protectionism masquerading as tax harmonisation,” the spokeswoman said. “We should avoid converging on high taxes globally as this would only hurt growth and jobs.”

Looks like the owl that visited PM was a harbinger of bad news for PM.

Seriously, the “usual suspects” could reasonably argue, if they tot about it, that the “chickens are coming to roost”.and that while moralising on adultery, the PAP govt helps the ang mohs spy on our neighbours, while helping ang moh and other Asian cos avoid tax. And PritamS wants the WP to be in coalition with the PAP?

*Remember that Indonesia suspended military co-operation with Australia, after allegations emerged of Australian spies bugging the phones of the president and his inner circle.

**Access to this major international telecommunications channel***, facilitated by Singapore’s government-owned operator SingTel, has been a key element in an expansion of Australian-Singaporean intelligence and defence ties over the past 15 years.Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/new-snowden-leaks-reveal-us-australias-asian-allies-20131124-2y3mh.html#ixzz2lkSC0P8c

***SEA-ME-WE-3 cable as well as the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable that runs from Singapore to the south of France.

Still want to buy M’sian properties?

In India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Uncategorized on 23/11/2013 at 6:00 am

(Asean round-up)

KL property owners, an estimated 10-16 per cent of whom are foreigners, are facing sharply higher assessment payments of up to 300 per cent following the latest move by City Hall (DBKL) to boost its coffers. http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/top-stories/kl-homeowners-facing-sharp-assessment-hikes-20131119

But otherwise M’sia’s looking pretty gd

– ECONOMISTS have turned more bullish on the Malaysian economy as a result of its unexpectedly strong showing in the third quarter.

They have upgraded their forecasts, and one has even dismissed the second quarter’s sharply reduced current account surplus on the balance of payments as an “abnormal”, one-off glitch.

Malaysia’s growth accelerated to 5 per cent in the third quarter, above the street’s 4.7 per cent, and sharply higher than the 4.4 per cent posted in the second quarter. The expansion was largely driven by domestic demand and a turnaround in exports.

The figures suggest that, despite criticism from rating agencies such as Fitch and an uncertain global economy, the Malaysian economy remains resilient, and continues to maintain steady economic growth.

– THE ringgit is undervalued as it has underperformed its peers since Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Budget almost a month ago, a British bank said.

In a report yesterday, Barclays Bank said the currency’s underperformance stemmed from doubts over the country’s “fiscal credibility”. But it said any such doubt should now be “diminished” after international rating agency Moody’s raised Malaysia’s sovereign outlook to “positive” from “stable” in a report released on Wednesday.

The news should boost Mr Najib’s credibility as a finance minister; he has been flayed by critics who have accused him of going on a profligate spending spree to boost the Barisan Nasional coalition’s popularity. In the run-up to the May 5 general election, government debt had ballooned to more than 54 per cent of GDP, just a whisker away from the legally mandated debt ceiling. Although the BN won, it did so with a weaker mandate.

In July, global rating agency Fitch had affirmed Malaysia’s investment-grade sovereign rating but cut its outlook to “negative” from “stable”. That raised the level and intensity of the criticism against Mr Najib.

(Excerpts from BT)

But M’sia (like Thailand) is doing less than Indonesia to prepare for tapering: Indonesia has raised short-term interest rates and India has attracted deposits from its large diaspora. Both are now accumulating foreign-exchange reserves to help prepare them for the eventual end of quantitative easing. So are South Korea and Taiwan.

Malaysia and Thailand are not taking the same precautions. Neither country has managed to recoup the reserves it lost in August. That’s a worry, considering foreigners own 28 percent of Malaysia’s sovereign bond market. Pending the implementation of a goods and services tax from 2015, the country’s public finances remain shaky. At the peak of the summer turmoil, the cost of insuring against default on Malaysian government bonds was slightly higher than for Philippines debt, which carries a lower credit rating. The gap has widened since.

Finally, debt is soaring. In Thailand, bank loans to individuals have jumped 20 percent in the first nine months of the year, higher than last year’s 18 percent growth. Meanwhile, the Thai economy has lost momentum, the politics has become unstable, and the current account has tipped into a deficit. Instead of easing, Asia’s fear of the Fed is spreading wider.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/11/21/asias-fear-of-fed-is-now-infecting-more-economies/

More nails in Iskandar’s coffin

In Malaysia on 21/11/2013 at 4:38 am

JOHOR is planning to impose a 2 per cent levy on foreign buyers across all segments of the property market and the secondary market in the southern Malaysian state from May.

The rate is lower than the 4 per cent to 5 per cent mooted earlier, but will still amount to more than twice the current RM10,000 (S$3,895) fee foreigners pay to buy properties in the state. Since foreigners are required to purchase units valued at RM1 million and above, the RM10,000 fee was at most a one per cent levy.

The levy comes on top of the Malaysian government’s recent measures to cool the property market. (BT on 13th November)

Crime in Johor, and the authorities’ denial attitude: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24924283

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/246559

And it has been reported that Johor is considering changing its weekend from Saturday and Sunday to Friday and Saturday. Not exactly S’porean and investor friendly is it?

What Iskandar repeated shows is that there is a reason for the huge price gap between properties in Johor and S’pore. The issue for buyers is whether the lower prices there compensate for the risks they are assuming.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/sporeans-fleeced-in-johor-yet-again/

Indon origins of our Batman Suparman

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 16/11/2013 at 4:59 am

(Asean round-up)

Batman bin Suparman’s family appear to be originally from the Indonesia island of Java – where the name Suparman is very common, explains Ben Zimmer, a language columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who has worked in Indonesia and who has written about Suparman.

“Su” has Sanskrit origins and is a common prefix in Indonesia, featuring in a whole rung of Indonesian presidents’ names – including the current one Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “Bin” means “son of” in Arabic, making it very likely that Batman’s father was also called Suparman.

The Batman part is a bit harder to explain, however says Zimmer, as it’s not a traditional name in the region. The most likely explanation is that his parents chose it as a joke – Batman the superhero is popular there, and Indonesians are often playful in the names they choose, says Zimmer. “I see the name as this interesting juxtaposition of local naming with Western pop culture.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24911186

Illegal logging and mismanagement of Indonesia‘s forestry industry may have prevented more than US$7 billion flowing to state coffers from 2007 to 2011, costing the government more than its health budget, Human Rights Watch said.

In contrast, the Indonesian government’s 2011 revenue from timber royalties and reforestation fees was US$300 million, said Emily Harwell, the lead author of a report released by Human Rights Watch.

“This is a very conservative estimate,” Dr Harwell, a partner at Natural Capital Advisors LLC, said at a briefing in Jakarta on Nov 8 of lost revenue. “The calculation doesn’t include any wood that’s smuggled.”

The report indicates that weak governance is chipping away at revenues in the world’s fourth-most populous nation, as budget and current-account deficits this year hurt the rupiah. BT report.

Malaysia has the highest English language proficiency level in the entire Asian region, according to a latest research by Swiss-based international education company EF Education First (EF).

The nation also climbed two notches higher to 11th place from 13th position last year in the EF English Proficiency Index which saw over 60 countries being surveyed.

The results revealed that Malaysia, which was placed in the ‘High Proficiency’ category, had overtaken Singapore who fell behind to 12th position in the world ranking. Malaysia scored 58.99 points in the survey while neighbouring Singapore received a 58.92 score.

Money for Vietnamese start-ups and buy-outs

– Ministry of Science and Tech in Vietnam pours $110 million into startups

http://www.techinasia.com/ministry-science-tech-vietnam-pours-110-million-startupsministry-science-tech-vietnam-pours-110-million-startupsministry-science-tech-vietnam-pours-110-million-startupsministry-science-tech-vietnam-po/

– Franklin Templeton Investments (BEN)’ venture in Vietnam said the time is right for buyout firms to invest in the country as it expects monetary and fiscal reforms to take effect over the next three to five years.

Low valuations, constrained bank lending and an improved corporate landscape mean private-equity investors have an opportunity to buy companies in the Southeast Asian country before the economy picks up again, said Avinash Satwalekar, chief executive officer of Vietcombank Fund Management, Templeton’s venture with Joint-Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam.

“The best time to make investments is when the water is murky,” Satwalekar, 39, said in an interview in Singapore yesterday. “When its gets clear, that’s when everybody can make investments.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-06/buyout-opportunities-seen-in-vietnam-imbalances-southeast-asia.html

Philippine Finance Minister Cesar Purisma has told the BBC that the devastation caused by the Typhoon Haiyan Mr Purisma says that the worst affected region accounts for 12.5% of the Philippines economy and a steep slowdown there could slow the overall economy by one percentage point next year. IMF has earlier this yr said GDP growth would be 6% next yr.

Mr Purisma also said it would take “many years” to rebuild the infrastructure damaged by the storm.

Iskandar & related BT story suck

In Malaysia, Property on 10/11/2013 at 6:20 am

Trumpets pls for this recent post on Iskandar.

M’sians Double confirm now that S’poreans kanna screwed by the M’sian govt Budget measures and Johor’s proposed

Malaysia’s Iskandar Waterfront delays IPO on gov’t property steps -sources

* Postpones listing to Q4 2014, a year later than initially planned

* Concerned measures to rein in property prices will slow demand

* Not immediately clear if delay will impact Johor metropolis development

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/11/04/malaysia-iskandar-ipo-idUKL3N0IP1FE20131104

This story came out juz after a BT article on 4 November 2013, a few hours before the above appeared:

Jubilee: An interesting Iskandar play

THE property rush across the Causeway in the past couple of years has seen prices in Iskandar Malaysia double or even triple. Despite talk of a bubble, investors unwilling to jump onto the buyers’ bandwagon can still take bets on property developers themselves.

Jubilee Industries Holdings – formerly loss-making plastic injection mould producer JLJ Holdings – appears poised to be the latest intriguing Iskandar play on Singapore Exchange.

A proposed reverse takeover (RTO) announced in mid-October will see Singaporean businessman Dennis Ng inject Tenderside Ventures, a subsidiary of his Malaysian property development company Jewelstone Properties, into Catalyst-quoted Jubilee.

The deal gives a well-connected and established family a foothold in a listed entity in Singapore.

Mr Ng is executive director of United Malayan Land (UMLand), of which his father, Ng Eng Tee, is deputy chairman and also executive director.

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/companies/others/jubilee-interesting-iskandar-play-20131104

S’pore, Asia, West hsehold debt levels compared

In Energy, Indonesia, Malaysia on 09/11/2013 at 7:00 am

Asean round-up

S’pore (at 61% of debt to GDP) is third in Asean, M’sia tops the list (81%), followed by Thailand (68%) , according to a World Bank report. (http://www.economist.com/news/economic-and-financial-indicators/21588882-household-debt-asia)

A recent World Bank study identified Malaysia and Thailand as having the largest household debts, as a share of GDP, among eastern Asia’s developing economies. In Malaysia, where household debt now exceeds 80% of GDP, the government has been seeking to curb credit growth. Thailand’s government boosted access to credit following the country’s big floods in 2011. The recent slowing of growth in many Asian economies raises concerns about the sustainability of all this personal debt.

Note two weeks ago, I reported 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%).

(Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/the-maths-of-salaries-when-mortgage-rates-rise-50/)

In other Asean news

Indonesia‘s economy expanded at its weakest rate in four years in the third quarter as a result of slowing exports and subdued domestic demand.

Its economy grew 5.6% in the July-to-September period from a year earlier, down from 5.8% in the previous quarter.

Indonesia’s exports have been hurt by slowing demand from key markets and a drop in commodity prices.

Meanwhile, domestic demand has been impacted by rising fuel prices and rising interest rates.

Fuel prices in the country surged earlier this year after the government removed its subsidy programme.

Petrol prices went up by 44% while diesel prices rose by 22%, leading to higher transportation costs and electricity bills.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24831172

And as usual Indonesia is repenting the nationalistic policies it always implements when the economy is doing well. It is again, as usual, lifting restriction on foreign investments, to attract foreign capital.

Thais are in the streets, protesting a controversial amnesty bill. http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/11/unrest-thailand

And an energy boom in the region. http://www.thefinancialist.com/an-oil-and-gas-boom-for-southeast-asia/

Govt’s reaction to rising food prices?

In Indonesia on 02/11/2013 at 5:27 am

On 24 October, it was reported that

Singapore has lifted a ban on the import of Thai frozen chicken and is also considering allowing the sale of frozen pork from Thailand.
After banning Thai poultry from its market for nine years, Singapore has finally allowed frozen chicken from Thailand back in, reports The Nation of Thailand.

http://www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/30426/singapore-lifts-ban-on-thai-chicken-imports October 24th via http://singaporenewsalternative.blogspot

Timing of ban lighting, not coincidental, methinks

On 29th October, it was reported: Inflation in Singapore will pick up over the next few quarters before tapering towards the end of 2014.

This is according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Macroeconomic Review.

The central bank said domestic food inflation is expected to rise from around 2 per cent in 2013 to close to 3 per cent in 2014, although this is still lower than the 3.4 per cent average over the last five years.

In particular, cooked food vendors are likely to pass on the increases in labour and rental costs to consumers, as these account for a significant share of their operating expenses compared to non-cooked food establishments.

The MAS said cooked food is estimated to make up 14 per cent of average household expenditure.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/inflation-in-s-pore-to/865788.html

Today reported: The MAS expects the core inflation rate, which strips out the cost of accommodation and private road transport, to increase from between 1.5 and 2 per cent this year to between 2 and 3 per cent next year.

Better than these non-actions:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/err-lee-what-did-you-say-abt-food-inflation/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/inflation-why-the-misleading-picture-minister-media/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/will-hougang-make-the-pap-moan-the-inflation-blues-not-joke-abt-it/

In other Asean round-up news:

Burma is getting its first online music store, which aims to stamp out the problem of illegal downloads, according to the Eleven Myanmar news site. “The traditional distribution system has been plagued by piracy,” the man behind the website, Ko Ko Lwin, is quoted as saying. His Myanmar Music Store apparently trialled operations for a week ahead of an official launch, with home-grown star Lay Phyu’s record, Diary, selling 4,000 copies.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-24743082

SingTel may still get into Burma. While it failed to get one of the two licences granted this yr, the govt has asked leading telecos (including SingTel) to offer help to the govt-owned operator as it upgrades.

Workers across Indonesia begun a two-day strike on 31 October demanding higher salaries, the latest industrial action to hit the South East Asian economy.

The workers say their cost of living has gone up amid rising inflation and a hike in fuel prices.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24753469

Thailand‘s lower house of parliament has passed a political amnesty bill that critics say could allow the return of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

The amnesty applies to offences committed during the political turmoil after Mr Thaksin was ousted in a coup.

The lower house passed the controversial bill in the early hours of Friday. It now goes to the Senate.

The opposition Democrat Party has warned that the passage of the bill will trigger street protests.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24768110

Retail punters suffer ’cause SGX, MAS dysfunctional?

In Corporate governance, Malaysia on 29/10/2013 at 4:53 am

I waz surprised at the swiftness that SGX allowed Asiasons Capital, Blumont Group and LionGold Corp to resume normal trading, as I had expected a prolonged period under “designated trading”, allowing me time to think about and investigate Asiasons. (My initial tots on Asiasons).

My immediate reaction waz, “Shld have had the balls to buy at 12ish cents*” with cash upfront. My next reaction was “How come SGX come to conclusion everything halal so fast?”. My third tot was, “Wonder if SGX and punters are going to repent?”.

A few days after stocks cheonged following the lifting of trading restrictions, SGX and MAS announced investigations. On 26 October 2013, BT reported JUST as shares of Asiasons Capital, Blumont Group and LionGold Corp shares appeared to be clambering out of their doldrums, news of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) investigation into their trading activities dragged them down again.

“MAS and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) are conducting an extensive review of the activities around these stocks,” MAS said in a statement yesterday. “This episode has also surfaced broader issues regarding the market structure and practices which MAS and SGX intend to review thoroughly.”

All three stocks slid to their lowest level in a week as skittish investors took profit. Asiasons shares fell 18 per cent to 19 cents, Blumont stock dropped 19 per cent to 16 cents and LionGold shed 15 per cent to 25 cents by the close of trading yesterday. The three counters were among the five biggest percentage decliners on the SGX.

Why couldn’t the plans to investigate and the lifting of trading restrictions be announced at the same time? If necessary, the latter could have been delayed a few days, while SGX and MAS deliberated? No wonder MAS MD got only a B rating compared to his M’sian and Pinoy counterparts (A) http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/10/27/head-of-mas-ravi-menon-only-gets-a-b-grade/. Shamefully that S’porean is graded lower than Pinoy or M’sian.

And do remember that FTs hold the top two posts at SGX.

Anyway, I’m not complaining. Gives me time to think about and investigate Asiasons. But lifting the trading restrictions (implying everything halal) and, a few days later, saying that there were going to be investigations,  ain’t fair to punters.

SGX has publicly said it wants retail investors in the market. Great way to treat them. But then there were S-Chips. I remember the boast by one Larence Wong of SGX (now departed), in the early noughties, that only chinese companies with accounts certified by int’l auditors were to be listed. They were, but looked what happened? The perils of ang moh tua kee.

Related post: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/singapores-penny-stock-mystery-increases-210030112.html

*Closed at 0.147 yesterday.

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