atans1

Posts Tagged ‘Human Resources’

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]:

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/

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.

Reason why S’poreans migrating, not reproducing?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 24/03/2014 at 4:23 am

… Google managers need to keep their staff happy because, Mr Teller says, you don’t need your manager’s permission to leave a particular section if you believe they are behaving in an obnoxious manner.

“Not only will you leave but everyone will leave and that guy is going to find himself voted off the island by his own people,” he adds. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25880738) Emphasis mine.

Hmm bit like general elections. Opps forgot that we got the GRC system. So we can’t vote the PAP out even if another 11%  of the voters change their minds about the PAP in the next GE. Those who predict that in the next GE, the PAP will lose power should remember this in their lucid moments when they lapse into sanity.

Seriously, maybe the number of true blue S’poreans, migrating (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/spore-inc-are-local-talents-emigrating-too-fast/) and the low birth rate* is the way S’poreans are telling the PAP that the PAP sucks? Even if 60% of the voters continue voting for the PAP.

But never mind, maybe PAP is thinking like this?

After the uprising of the 17th of June

The Secretary of the Writers Union

Had leaflets distributed …

Stating that the people

Had thrown away the confidence of the government

And could win it back only

By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier

In that case for the government

To dissolve the people

And elect another?

(The writer, Bertolt Brecht, was a famous playwright,  a Hollywood screen writer in the golden years of Hollywood in the 1930s) and a Marxist activist.) http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/rewriting-lkys-views-on-fts-and-if-so-why/

Coming back to the Google manager:

You must reward people for failing, he says. If not, they won’t take risks and make breakthroughs. If you don’t reward failure, people will hang on to a doomed idea for fear of the consequences. That wastes time and saps an organisation’s spirit.

Finding new transformational ideas is like sending out a team of scouts to explore uncharted terrain for new mountains to climb, he says.

“If you shame them when they come back, if you tell them that they’ve failed you because they didn’t find a mountain, no matter how diligently they looked for or how cleverly they looked for it, those scouts will quit your company.”

But this is no excuse for those in Home Team. They are not creative types: they are employed to prevent things happening (breach of border security) or escalating (senior police commanders). From the I(ndian?) http://theindependent.sg/review-the-home-team/

BTW, I’m glad the Indian stopped the self-defeating habit of not allowing one to read its article unless one “Liked” it. I always moved on. I mean how to “Like” something before one read it? So PAPpish or CCP, not the spirit of the world’s largest democracy.

——————————————————–

*Update at 5.00am: Juz read this

Now the big problem is a rock-bottom low birthrate — with a fertility rate under 1.2 – barely  half that necessary to replace the current population, which threatens to turn this ultra-dynamic city state into a giant old-age home.

The reasons for this plunge, according to demographer Gavin Jones at the National University of Singapore, lie largely in such things as long working hours and ever-rising housing costs, something that has been boosted by foreign purchases of private residences. With large apartments increasingly expensive, Singaporeans, particularly those with children, often think of emigrating to less expensive or at least roomier places such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand. One recent survey estimated that over half of Singaporeans want to migrate; the World Bank estimates upward of 300,000 Singaporeans have moved abroad, accounting for almost one in 10 citizens. …

.One key element relates to focusing on how to nurture families once again, and to recapture that sense of Singaporean-ness that makes the place so special. It is not so much a matter of financial incentives — these have not worked — as in controlling housing costs, expanding space for families,  and most importantly, finding better ways to balance life and work.

Already some initial steps to humanize the metropolis are taking place. These include a remarkable expansion and improvement of green space, and attempts to decentralize work around the newer state housing estates and commercial developments. Steps to increase the size of apartments, repurpose aging shopping and office structure for housing as well as encouraging more home-based work could also prove helpful. These changes will be critical if the world’s most successful city wants to remain so in the decades ahead.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2013/07/18/singapore-needs-a-new-sling/

Productivity, ageing population & immigration

In Economy on 13/03/2014 at 4:37 am

It’s time for the govt to release productivity data on the various sectors rather than juz harp that productivity levels are not gd enough.. We can then see if the govt is telling us the truth that productivity increases lead to pay rises.

Cleaning and F&B are examples, however, of Singapore’s less productive sectors. These and sectors such as construction, security and retail have been hiring more workers and thus continue to pull down Singapore’s overall labour productivity growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say.

 This is why Singapore’s labour productivity was flat last year, a cautionary sign that despite “healthy signs that the economy is shifting to a new trend … we are not full steam ahead yet”, said Mr Lim. Singapore thus needs a “greater and broader sense of urgency” in its productivity efforts, he said.(5 March wed BT)

I read some where recently that Japan is one of the most productive nations as a result of aging and the refusal to let in the dogs FTs. The Japs use robots, lots of them.

But despite Japan’s success in growing per capita better than other Western countries (something we don’t hear from our Jap bashing ministers and their media allies) giving the lie that more FTs are needed, we need to accept that the PAP is not BSing completely when it comes to the consequences of ageing population and immigration.

Watch this “Face the Facts” BBC video

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25968269: Focus on why the US will still be growing faster than Europe Or Japan.

The number of people across the world over 65 years old will triple by 2050, drastically altering some countries’ demographic make-up, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Perceptions of this shift vary widely across the globe, the report says.

While 87% of Japanese believe the ageing population poses a problem to the country, only 26% of Americans agree.

The survey of 21 countries found that most people believe governments should be responsible for the care of their older populations.

These demographic shifts may adversely affect economies, as more elderly people depend on working-age men and women.

It’s a complex issue. And both the PAP, and GG and friends are not telling the truth.

Here’s another angle: http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/02/10/age-shifts-weaken-global-economys-shock-absorbers/

The ratio of middle-aged to young matter because matters because the global economy’s ability to withstand deflationary shocks is lower when the middle-aged cohort starts dominating the young. That’s because the former saves more for retirement. In the United States, the median householder in the 45-to-54-year age group has 6 times more assets excluding home equity than someone younger than 35. But it is young peoples’ spending that spurs new investment, which in turn soaks up the savings of the middle-aged.

When the ratio is rising, as it is today, a bigger group of the middle-aged are trying to deploy their savings. But because the younger group is smaller in relative terms, its consumption is inadequate to encourage investment. As a result, the savings chase a limited number of investment opportunities, pushing up prices. Even a minor shock can lead to severe market fallout.

This phenomenon has many names: some call it a “savings glut,” others prefer “secular stagnation”. But the global population’s age structure has a message for policymakers: don’t underestimate the risks from turmoil in even minor emerging markets. With its shock absorbers frayed, the world economy will struggle to negotiate deflationary speed bumps. As the ratio of the middle-aged to the young is forecast to carry on rising for the next two decades, markets are in for a rocky ride.

The fact that those of us who disagree that we need a lot more FTS must be prepared to acknowledge is that the PAP has conventional wisdom on its side. We cannot deny this. What we have to do is keep reminding the PAP and other voters that LKY, Dr Goh and gang went against conventional development wisdom by allowing the MNCs to invest here. MNCs were seen as the new “colonialists”. Today, every country (bar a few) want them to invest in their countries.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/us-experience-on-growing-gdp-via-productivity/

Cleaning and F&B are examples, however, of Singapore’s less productive sectors. These and sectors such as construction, security and retail have been hiring more workers and thus continue to pull down Singapore’s overall labour productivity growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say.

This is why Singapore’s labour productivity was flat last year, a cautionary sign that despite “healthy signs that the economy is shifting to a new trend … we are not full steam ahead yet”, said Mr Lim. Singapore thus needs a “greater and broader sense of urgency” in its productivity efforts, he said.(5 March wed BT)

Shows us the numbers ex these sectors then

Cleaning and F&B are examples, however, of Singapore’s less productive sectors. These and sectors such as construction, security and retail have been hiring more workers and thus continue to pull down Singapore’s overall labour productivity growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say.

This is why Singapore’s labour productivity was flat last year, a cautionary sign that despite “healthy signs that the economy is shifting to a new trend … we are not full steam ahead yet”, said Mr Lim. Singapore thus needs a “greater and broader sense of urgency” in its productivity efforts, he said.(5 March wed BT)

Shows us the numbers ex these sectors then

No $ needed: Three fixes to show the PAP really cares

In Political governance on 03/03/2014 at 5:00 am

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore has to strike a balance between maintaining its competitiveness and caring about the less well-off as it strives to reduce the income gap. (CNA report a few weeks ago: More extracts at end oif article).

And the Budget statement and the spin that the conastructive, nation-building media has been putting on it esp the Pioneer package is along the same lines.

We all know that an election is coming round the corner and we know the PM (remember the 2011 “Sorry”, followed after the GE with massive tpt breakdowns and the population white paper, the latter issued juz before NatCon?)

So PM and the PAP has to walk the walk, not juz talking the talk.

The benefits for the pioneer generation are a gd, if a belatedly and niggardly start. Still got to start sometime and somewhere. It helps the pioneers and their children.and grandchildren who are caring for them**. Here are some things that PM can do to show the govt cares. They cost nothing going by what ministers said when defending these rules.

–Scrap the Medisave limit. It doesn’t cost anything as a minister has admitted but will give S’poreans peace of mind.

Since the inception of Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) in 2005, no IP policyholder has reached his lifetime claim limit.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this in a written reply to a Parliamentary question from Hougang Single-Member Constituency MP Png Eng Huat about the number of Singaporeans who are no longer insurable under MediShield or Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plans.

This could be due to exhausted benefits and claim limits upon diagnosis of major illnesses.

Mr Gan said that the MediShield lifetime limit was increased in 2005, and more recently in March last year from S$200,000 to S$300,000. (CNA sometime back)

– Fix the flaw in CPF Life Plans

There is a provision in the law governing the CPF Life Plans which states that payouts are contingent on the Plans being solvent. This is because premiums that are paid in to get the annuities are pooled and collectively invested. If the plan you chose doesn’t have enough money to pay out, you die. This is unlike the [Minimum Sum] scheme, where account holders are legally entitled to the monies in their CPF accounts … (http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/best-cpf-life-plan/). Even if the rules to access these monies make a mockery of the ownership, at least (so far) the beneficiaries can inherit the monies. (Remember that when Roy Ngerng again asserts (as he regularly does) that CPF contributions should be classified as a social security tax. He would wouldn’t he? He thinks the PAP is oppressing us, even though as a critic and  self-outed gay, ISD is ignoring him.)

The government has said the provision on solvency is only a precaution unlikely ever  to be used. If so, why have it? Again, this is a peace of mind issue. It was again Gan who made this assurance when he vwas MoM.

Finally,  the PM should apologise for VivianB’s sneer at the elderly poor all those yrs ago

Or make him make a fulsome apology.Even ex-Red Guards are apologising for their actions in the Cultural Revolution.

Even if … made amends for selfish or political reasons, their words and gestures are still important, says [a historian]. “It is still better than those who refuse to repent until they die. The conflict and hatred should be solved. The nation must move forward.”

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2014/02/apologising-cultural-revolution)

Why, I am I not asking him to be sacked? He is actually a gd environment minister. For starters, there are no more 50-yr floods***. Secondly, in my area (Marine Parade, East Coast), there are now regular cutting of shrubs and grass at empty plots of land and along pathways. There is also an attempt to ensure that in spots where ponding regularly occurs after the rain: attempts are made to fill in the spots and re vegetate them. Yaacob and his French cook of a chef never bothered.

And Vivian did get the Indons to do something about the haze by practicising megaphone diplomacy http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/haze-pm-silence-is-not-a-solution/. Yaacob was sensitive to Indonesians’ attitude to S’pore and kept quiet: he always liddat. Took PM to rebuke his dad on Malay integration. Yaacob muttered, “Worse case scenario”.

*He made the comment in an interview with China’s New Century — a magazine by Beijing-based media group Caixin — which was published a few Mondays ago.

Mr Lee said there is a need to keep a balance between the yin, which he described as caring for one another, and the yang, which is the “competitive element that drives the society forward”.

“If you go too much towards competitiveness, you lose that cohesion and sense of being Singaporeans together,” Mr Lee said.

“If we go… the other way and say, well, we don’t compete… I think we will all be losers.”

He acknowledged that the competitive environment in Singapore is getting fiercer and conditions are getting more challenging for middle and lower-income groups in many societies.

Alluding to the concept of yin and yang, he said Singapore needs to do more to “tilt the balance towards the yin side” — the element of care and concern for others.

This means greater help for the low-income groups as well as keeping society more open, so that the people who have talent can move up and will not be daunted by the gaps in incomes between the rich and poor, which is what Singapore has been doing, he added.

In reply to a question, Mr Lee acknowledged that while the income gap in Singapore is wider than most other countries, it was not as wide when compared to other cities.

But rather than bringing those in the higher income bracket down, he said it is important to focus on levelling-up the wider population.

He also said Singaporeans have to stay connected to the rest of the world, particularly the Asian region as it offers many opportunities.

Describing Singaporeans as hardworking and talented, he said: “I think the best way to make use of their talents and their abilities is not just to confine (them) within Singapore, but to connect to what’s happening around us.

“So if a company sets up an operation in Singapore, it’s not just for our market, but for the region.

“And if our people have abilities as managers and leaders, they can be managers and leaders not just in Singapore, but they can go out and there are many operations, many companies all over the region which will find a good Asian executive a very considerable asset.”

Prime Minister Lee believes as society changes, so too will Singapore’s political structure, as he cited how it has evolved over the years.

He said: “I think as we go forward, we will probably have to make further adjustments, surely, because our society will change.

“I believe that there will be a greater degree of competition, there will be a greater desire of Singaporeans to participate in the political process. And we ought to accommodate that, because it’s good that Singaporeans care about the affairs of the country and which way Singapore is going.

“But whatever we change, we still want a system where you encourage good people to come forward — you encourage voters to elect people who will represent their interests well, and you encourage the government to act in a way which will take the long-term interests of the country at heart.

“And that’s not easy to do.”

**A constructive suggestion: “Will eldercare be as common as childcare?” (BBC Online)

***OK it hasn’t been raining.

Gilbert Goh is this true?

In Economy, Public Administration on 27/02/2014 at 6:02 am

Singapore Business Federation chief operating officer Victor Tay said: Measures taken to tighten the inflow of foreign PMETs “are already quite comprehensive and align with the American and European standards” and he doubts the government will go further. (Monday’s BT).

Can GG tell us if Victor Tay is telling the truth? And if he (GG) is satisfied?

If he isn’t satisfied, pls tell us why. If he is, no need to organise demonstrations that no-one attends. Juz tell local PMETs to vote PAP in next GE. They listen.

Err pigs will fly first or GG becomes attractive to S’pore wimmin. LOL.

Property: Khaw must be doing shumething right

In Property, Public Administration on 11/02/2014 at 4:18 am

(And so is Paper General Tan)

Yesterday, I blogged about a HDB owner worried that he would lose money on his HDB flat and wanted assurances from govt that this wouldn’t happen.

When even a property mogul asks the govt to review restrictions, it’s clear that Khaw is getting something right. Last Saturday BT reported the following:

IT is time for the government to tweak some of its property cooling measures such as the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD), given concerns over the global economy and signs that the property market here is slowing down, said Kwek Leng Beng, executive chairman of Hong Leong Group Singapore and property developer City Developments.

He suggested that the government consider lifting the hefty stamp duties imposed on foreigners when they buy property here, and replace it with a tax on sellers who offload their property three or four years after snapping it up.

“Everybody is attracting foreigners today to their countries. We should attract foreigners. But if . . . you penalise them by having to pay additional tax, then they (will) say you don’t welcome me.

“So why don’t you (the government) just say, if you sell within three years, four years, then I tax you. You come in (and buy property) I don’t want to tax. I think this is one way,” said Mr Kwek, who was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Redas) Spring Festival lunch yesterday.

The government can also consider lifting ABSD for locals – who are subject to the additional tax when they purchase more than one home – and permanent residents, he said.

“I don’t think there is a lot of speculation. The prices are high because developers have got no land stock . . . in the land bank. (At the same time) they have to survive, they cannot let business come to a standstill.

“So I think for some of these, we will (need to) have a dialogue with the government . . . I think the government has the bigger picture. We leave it to them. They are trying their best. They want a stabilised market. We will cooperate with them.”

Mr Kwek’s comments come amid signs that the housing market is slowing down. Statistics from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed that for the last three months of 2013, private home prices fell 0.9 per cent – the first quarterly drop in about two years. For the full year, URA’s overall private home price index ended 1.1 per cent higher – a smaller gain compared with the 2.8 per cent recorded in 2012.

And when developers talk like this you know that they are concerned that MoM is monitoring their work practices:

Besides working closely with the government to build a healthy property market, developers will also work closely with the government on the next phase of nation-building and real estate development to achieve a “distinctive, high-quality living environment for all”, said Chia Boon Kuah, president of Redas.

This means that construction activity will remain at high levels and continue unabated for several years, making it “ever more important to re-focus our collective attention on workplace safety and welfare of the some 30,000 migrant workers in our industry”, he said.

“As developers, we should support our contractors in showing duty of care for the health, safety and welfare of these workers. This enhances productivity, which, in the long run, translates into benefits for all.”

Last month, a worksite accident in Sentosa left one foreign worker dead and 10 others injured.

The death of the worker takes the number of fatalities at worksite accidents to nine in just over a month, prompting Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin to write on his blog that the recent spate of accidents was “not tenable”.

Developers and contractors should, therefore, “up the ante on workplace safety training and communication” and “recognise the contributions these workers make to our country”, said Mr Chia, who is also group president and chief executive of developer GuocoLand.

Redas would hold a forum to identify and discuss common causes behind construction workplace accidents, challenges to risk reduction and best practices, he said.

Two cheers each for Khaw, Mom Tan and of course their boss, the PM. Three cheers for each is a cheer too far.

two cheers for

British

used for saying that you think something is good but that it could be better

What PM should say this Sunday?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 07/02/2014 at 5:11 am

“Sorry”. For what specifically you may ask? There are many things the PAP should repent for after all.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will announce the details of the Pioneer Generation Package on Sunday. Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing said the package will take care of the seniors for the rest of their time as Singaporeans.

Mr Chan said: “It is not about giving them something for one year and that’s it. It is more than that. It is a package… to take care of them for the rest of their time as Singaporeans, and the rest of the time they are with us.

“We want to make this commitment because it is a testimony to what we believe as a nation, that as the Chinese say, ‘yin shui si yuan’, (meaning) when we drink from the well, we will remember the source.”

Mr Chan was speaking at a Lunar New Year dinner for residents from Tanjong Pagar GRC.

He added that a key focus of the package will be on healthcare costs, noting that this will help those who are taking care of the pioneer generation.

Mr Chan said: “And we also understand that for many younger parents, the younger generation people who are supporting the pioneer generation, that healthcare has been a main focus for them.

“And because of this, we will focus the first step of the Pioneer Generation Package on giving the pioneer generation and their families a sense of assurance that their healthcare (needs) will be taken care of by the society as a whole.” CNA

Of course the devil is in the details, and it could be juz spin. But I’ll give the PAP and the govt the benefit of the doubt ’cause the general election is round the corner: 2015 is my prediction.

Here’s a constructive, nation-building, and vote-winning suggestion for the PAP: If the PM really wants to show his sincerity, he should, on behalf of the cabinet, apologise to the pioneer generation for his then welfare’s minister’s sneering words aimed at the unfortunate members of the pioneer generation.

Dr Lily Neo:

Sir, I want to check with the Minister again when he said on the strict criteria on the entitlement for PA recipients. May I ask him what is his definition of “subsistence living”? Am I correct to say that, out of $260 per month for PA recipients, $100 goes to rental, power supply and S&C and leaving them with only $5 a day to live on? Am I correct to say that any basic meal in any hawker centre is already $2.50 to $3.00 per meal? Therefore, is it too much to ask for just three meals a day as an entitlement for the PA recipients?

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan:

How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?

To add insult to the pain of this slap, said minister was overspending on his pet project: the Kiddie Games: S$387m (more than 3x the estimated S$122m). To be fair, the original budgets of these kinds of events are always works of fiction. The sponsors always keep demanding more, while the organisers always underestimate: ome reason why it seems one LKY never had S’pore bid for such prestige events.

The minister did not apologise. Nor did the PM or any other minister rebuke the minister in public or disown his remarks: though to be fair to the govt, Lily Neo did get her wish: there was a relatively big increase later. This could be the govt repenting privately?

But if it waz private repentance, doing it quietly doesn’t do the PAP any gd. A public apology for the remarks made by that rich, privileged  ACS kid would be a gd start to the PAP’s GE campaign, showing that it really, really appreciates the pioneer generation. It should because its intl’ reputation as a successful govt, and grip on power owe much to the pioneer generation willingness to “eat bitter”, something that their children (increasingly) and grandchildren (100%) are unwilling to do anymore.  Blame, partially, the mega-rise in ministerial salaries in the 90s. Only partially because better education and the internet have led them to expect more from the govt. On its part the PAP failed to keep the basics affordable: look at the cost of education, public tpt and public housing. On healthcare, decent healthcare has always been expensive.

Open letter to HSBC S’pore on Anton Casey

In Banks on 22/01/2014 at 6:58 am

(Update on 23 January 2014: TOC has confirmed that his present employer is Crossinvest*: Mr Casey’s firm Crossinvest Asia is investigating his comments and is set to take “appropriate action” once the review is completed, British newspaper, The Independent reported.

In a statement, Managing director Christophe Audergon said: “Crossinvest does not condone the comments. We believe they were made in poor taste.”

I’m very certain, he will be moving on from Crossinvest given that: The Company was created out of a Swiss single family office with almost three decades of leading experience and presence in Switzerland. We operate based on the finest Swiss Private banking traditions. 

Well among the finest Swiss Private banking traditions are

– discretion; and.

– operating in the shadows, leaving no fingerprints behind.

Don’t see Casey meeting these standards.

As to my thinking he worked at HSBC, it was an honest mistake.)

Dear Sirs,

I am a long-time shareholder (since 1984) and a client (since 1981), and am someone who has had friends working there: locals and international officers, and am writing this letter more in sorrow than anger.

I hope HSBC does the right thing by S’poreans especially its local customers, and moves on the FT (where T stands for Trash not Talent) by the name of Anton Casey out of the bank. His so-called attempt at humour does not reflect well on the bank because he is holding a senior position in wealth management.

One would be reasonable in wondering of the quality and discretion of HSBC’s management when such a senior executive exercises such an appalling lack of judgement and sensitivity.  Especially since HSBC prides itself on being the “global local bank”.

His behaviour also insults the international officers. I knew and worked with a few of them in the early 1980s on various projects. They were all minor public school boys who would never ever stoop to such insulting behaviour which they would have rightly called ‘hooliganish” and “racist”.

HSBC has always had a tradition of good customer service: it even built larger-than-usual cashier windows in Mexican branches to get more notes through, making it easier for the drug barons to deposit cash.http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/hsbc-returned-to-roots/

So in the spirit of serving the customer and being the “global local bank”, move him out of the bank. His apology should not excuse his most unbecoming behaviour.

Yours faithfully,

CI aka E.K. Tan

Govt detains without trial S’poreans: No outrage meh activists?

In Public Administration on 13/01/2014 at 4:51 am

It might be the season to be jolly and of peace and goodwill, what with the Christmas and NY hols gone and the CNY hols coming, but the human rights activists have really got my goat.A man dressed as Krampus in Austria … pretty scary, huh?

The contrast between their vocal support for FT deportess, and their seeming indifference to S’poreans detained without trial make me sick. The Holly Man outside the Globe Theatre in London

Last Friday, it was reported by CNA that, “MHA has placed the son of Singapore Jemaah Islamiyah leader Mas Selamat Kastari under a two-year detention. Masyhadi Mas Selamat, 25, was detained on 21 November 2013 on an Order of Detention under the ISA.”

The silence on his detention from the usual human rights kay pohs is deafening.

TOC, Maruah, Vincent Wijeysingha, Rachel Zeng, Kirsten Han etc etc were all up in arms demanding justice for the manual migrant workers detained by the police after the riot. They were upset many of those detsined were then given air-tickets to move on out of S’pore, rather than sent for trial. Some had the charges  withdrawn and the court granted them discharges amounting to acquittals and then were deported, while many were never charged, just deported. They demanded “due process” for these FTs, even though as someone posted on Facebook, ” Rightly or wrongly, deportation is more lenient than jail and caning.” A lot more, so is it fair to insist as the kay pohs do that the courts must be involved in “due process”? One could even argue that the govt is being easy on “alleged” rioters.

The deportation law is draconian but there are more draconian laws that true blue S’poreans are subject to: the Internal Security Act and the Criminal Law Temporary Provision Act.

They allow the govt to detain almost indefinitely people who never had the benefit of a trial. The former is nowadays used to detain alleged “Islamic” terrorists,  while the latter is used to detain Dan Tan (the guy alleged to have fixed footie matches) and alleged drug dealers (mules get murdered, judicially, after due process if they don’t have useful evidence).

Yes, yes, I know that TOC and Maruah have spoken out against these laws (albeit once upon a time) and have called for their abolition (again once upon a time), and I’m sure Vincent, Kirsten, Rachel etc etc, if asked, will say they oppose these laws and want them abolished.

Still, their silence*, or indifference(?) whenever the govt and mainstream media report these detentions (and they do) when contrasted with the chorus of disapproval and outrage over what is happening to the alleged rioters, and deportees is disturbing at the very least. Double standards?

I have never heard any activist say about Dan Tan, Masyhadi or any other alleged Islamic terrorist, or drug dealer, “Activists, while often faced with heart-wrenching stories, are not just bleeding hearts. Behind the criticism lies a much bigger issue: that of access to justice and due process … But we are obliged to ensure that they have access to justice.” (Kirsten Han in http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/did-deported-workers-deserve-time-court-015254163.html)

As I wrote last year: The coming deafening silence [referring to Dan Tan's case] of the usual human rights kay pohs will tell us a lot of their prejudices: they are supportive of FT drug mules, and middle class anti-PAP activists. But not working class criminal suspects (no-one is complaining that Vui Kong’s alleged drug lord is held under ISA CLTPA) or those whom the govt alleges are Islamic radicals. Touch a FT or a middle class anti-PAP activist, and the screams will be deafening, even if it’s juz a policeman paying a home visit.

Are S’poreans too not worthy of “justice and due process”, Ms Han? They too like FTs are human

                                                                                               Hath
 59   not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
 60   dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
 61   the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
 62   to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 63   warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
 64   a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
 65   if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
 66   us, do we not die?

(Shylock in The Merchant of Venice)

A wicked, cynical, unworthy and doubtless mistaken tot. Could it because our kay pohs know that ang mohs are not too fussed when alleged drug dealers, footie fixers and Islamic terrorists are detained? Only when migrant workers are? http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2013-12-18/human-rights-activists-accuse-singapore-of-failing-to-recognise-the-rights-of-rioters/1236768

Since the CIA and MI6 are pretty relaxed about working with countries that do not give alleged Islamic terrorists “access to justice and due process”, one can legitimately (if unreasonably) ask if these agencies have managed to influence our kay pohs.

Let me be clear, the kay pohs like Ms Han etc have every right to champion and fight any cause they like: if they want justice for FTs, taz their right. They also have the right not to want justice for S’poreans. They are free to do what they want to do. But I, and other S’poreans, are entitled to make judgements based on their actions, silence and inaction.

My judgement is that “FTs tua kee” attitude is not confined only to the govt: our kay pohs too take pride in it too. Why like that meh? Hath
 59   not a S’porean eyes? hath not a S’porean hands, organs,
 60   dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
 61   the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
 62   to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 63   warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
 64   a FT is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
 65   if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
 66   us, do we not die?

Related post: Kirsten Han wants S’poreans to have a dialogue with the govt on FTs, despite fact that as a HR activist she should know that the govt doesn’t do dialogue .

*WP asked about Dan Tan in parly getting the standard non-answer. BTW, surprised that DPM Teo didn’t ask Auntie, “Bookie ask WP to ask question meh?”. But then, DPM Teo’s late father was a gentleman and must have brought up DPM Teo the “right” way. BTW2, I understand that Maruah had planned to denounce Dan Tan’s detention, but that the media release got lost. An honest mistake, I assume? Like holding a seminar in Little India on “struggle for workers’ rights” weeks after a riot there, albeit on a day unlikely to have many workers in the area?

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.

Alcohol, Little India and the migrant worker

In Economy on 06/01/2014 at 5:24 am

It’ll soon be a month since the disturbance in Little India which has rattled S’poreans (that they over-reacted). Even the PM was rattled, so much so  that he still talked a lot of cock about it at Christmas http://singaporedesk.blogspot.sg/2013/12/taking-easy-way-out.html.

Here are some relevant facts that I’ve discovered that are not reported in our constructive nation-building media or in the usually anti govt alternative media that I hope will help S’poreans towards a right understanding of the riot and surrounding issues:

– Alcohol is available in the dormitories’ supermarkets. I had tot they were banned from selling alcohol. The most popular brands are two imported brands from India (one is Kingfisher, the other I can’t recall), followed by our very own ABC. Needless to say, the beers are not yr  normal strength beers: they have alcohol content sof 10-12% versus the usual 4%.

– To avoid problems, the beer is only sold in cans, not bottles. For those who’ve not been involved in drunken brawls: broken beer bottles are useful in a fight. Just grab the handle of an empty bottle (no point wasting gd beer), and smash it against a wall and you are ready to maim or kill. But if the police catch you with it even if no-one is injured by it, it’s the cane after “due process”.

– Despite these sales, there are no reports in the alternative media about brawls, scenes of drunkenness near the supermarkets. Maybe, the workers are responsible drinkers? Or TOC, TRE reporters don’t do dorm visits (unlike Lianain Films)? As for ST and other MSM publications reporting such fights, they wouldn’t report such frights even if they happened outside their doorsteps would they? They will call Yaacob and ask,”Is there a fight? What are the right facts for us to report?”?

– The Little India shopkeepers (and their landlords) made great money off these workers. I’ve heard that a small shop selling veggies could gross S$90,000 in sales on a gd weekend day. When you hear media reports of the bizmen in the area moaning, bear this in mind. BTW, I understand that the dorm supermarkets’ prices of Indian, Bangladeshi favourites and staples are competitive. It’s juz that the workers love shopping in Little India: it’s their home away from home.

– Prior to the riot, Little India on weekends wasn’t a nice place to hold seminars on “the struggle for workers’ rights” (Maruah tried to hold its do on a Monday) or for romantic dates. A beer marketing executive,who regularly tours outlets, says that fights and drunkenness were a common occurrences in the area. Guess minister Lui didn’t speak up about too many alcohol outlets because of the previous observation about the profits being made. Let me very clear, if Boat Quay or Clarke Quay were as crowded as little India on weekends, they too would be unpleasant places. No ang moh tua kee pls. Besides our manual worker guests don’t beat up taxi-drivers for sport: only drunken ang mohs do it, then flee or plead they are depressed.

– Since the riot, I’ve seen more workers going to and returning from the the Marine Parade sea front on weekends and public hols. I expect the area to remain peaceful and crime free.

They come hear to earn a living, a hard one: not to get drunk, brawl , steal or molest. They are like us

                                                                                               Hath
 59   not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
 60   dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
 61   the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
 62   to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 63   warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
 64   a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
 65   if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
 66   us, do we not die?

(Shylock in The Merchant of Venice)

Xenophobia: Govt sends wrong signal to S’poreans?

In Public Administration on 05/01/2014 at 4:53 am

Readers will know I support deportation* as an administrative measure in lieu of being charged for criminal offences. Still as someone in agreement with the govt’s stand, the Law Minister’s explanation on the use of deportation, as reported here, is most shocking and disturbing:

Mr K Shanmugam, the minister in question, reportedly said that “repatriation happens on a regular basis.”

Of the 53, he said:

“If every case has got to go to court and a judge makes a decision, then repatriation decisions becomes [sic] judicial rather than administrative. Then every foreigner is entitled to stay here at taxpayers’ expense, housed here at taxpayers’ expense, it could stretch on a year or more.” (CNA)

By talking of the cost of judicial process for migrant workers, isn’t the govt telling us they are lesser mortals, where only cost is an issue? Hath
 59   not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
 60   dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
 61   the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
 62   to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 63   warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
 64   a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
 65   if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
 66   us, do we not die?

(Shylock in The Merchant of Venice)

As Terry Xu of TOC put it on Facebook:

The total foreign worker levies collected were S$2.5 billion for the Financial Year 2011 and S$1.9 billion for the Financial Year 2010. Similar to other sources of Government revenue, the foreign worker levies are not ringfenced for any specific purposes. All Government revenue collected would go into the Consolidated Fund used to fund Government expenditures in general.”

And it goes up even more in the year 2012, 2013 given that there are more workers and that the levies have increased since then.

So yup, all these money does not include paying for the fair trial of workers who have contributed to this total collected sum of money, cause that is the government’s money and have to consider the tax payers money instead.

Terry Xu has a valid point even if I disagree (see above link) with him that the use of the workers’ levy is a reasonable use of the money.

The minister would have been on safer ground if he said, “Deportation is a lot less severe that imprisonment and caning. So why involve the courts?” He could have added, “Give FTs airfare home, kay pohs also bitch. What more do the kay pohs want?”.

*Actually, the kay pohs’ call for judicial due process in deportation cases ignores the fact that there is the possibility of judicial review as kick-ass, take no-prisoners, superhero lawyer, Ravi, has shown. He has asked for judicial review of a case where his client has been deported.

Govt, activists score own goals

In Public Administration on 03/01/2014 at 6:09 am

(Or “The govt is its own worst enemy: it can’t communicate the right facts”)

Recently  I blogged on why Scrooge the Grinch government can do more, a lot more to help the manual workers who gift us S$2.5bn++ a year.

But on the use of the deportation law on alleged “rioters”; I’m on the govt’s side with one important caveat.  The cavaet is: What the hell were the police commissioner and DPM Teo talking about?

– [The Police Commissioner] explained that this group is less “culpable” than those who were charged, as the latter were “active participants” in the riot, “violent” and “had attacked uniformed personnel and vehicles, damaged property, and had incited others to do so”. So what did they actually do?

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean noted that those who were to be repatriated had “impeded the riot control and emergency rescue operations” and that “their actions and conduct had threatened public order,  Did they or did not riot?

I looked up what the official statement and only then I understood why there were deportations, not charges for most of those detained: they were alleged rioters that the police considered should be treated more leniently (those charged can be jailed and caned if convicted).

Group Two consists of 53 persons whom Police has identified to have participated in the riot and who failed to disperse despite Police’s orders to do so. They had knowingly joined or continued to participate in the riot, after being ordered to disperse, impeding the riot control and emergency rescue operations. Their actions and conduct had threatened public order, thus making their continued presence in Singapore undesirable. They were all rounded up in a Police operation in the early hours of this morning. They will be repatriated after being issued a stern warning. They will be prohibited from returning to Singapore.

The Police Commissioner and DPM Teo, scholars both, should be ashamed of their explanations which only made it easier for the activists to attack the govt. And s/o of Devan Nair is not doing doing his job as the govt’s PR man.

Coming back to the deportees, fair enough that they are deported  without judicial “due process” as far as I’m concerned for two reasons.

Firstly, as someone posted on Facebook, ” Rightly or wrongly, deportation is more lenient than jail and caning.” A lot more, so is it fair to insist as the kay pohs do that the courts must be involved in “due process”? One could even argue that the govt is being easy on “alleged” rioters.

Next, given that he has shown himself as a most compassionate chap, I’m sure the Pet minister is ensuring that the ministerial discretion of banishing people from S’pore is fairly exercised, and with appropriate regard for non-judical due process. I’ll go on to assert that he has ensured that the police behave fairly, and with appropriate regard for due process (non-judical), when investigating the cases which result in banishment orders.

Though I must admit charging a few people, then not proceeding with the cases and then allowing them to be given “discharges not amounting to acquittals, then deporting them look slip-shod. They shouldn’t have been charged, juz deportrd. And if, as happened,  they were charged, and the police then realised that officers had made “honest mistakes”, the police should have asked for “discharges not amounting to acquittals”, and then deported them. That would have prevented the usual anti-govt activists from shouting “acquitted but still deported”. Technically, the kay pohs are right, though the govt has a point when it says the “acquittals” did not result from trials, but by the police withdrawing charges. I suspect the police tot, “Heck these guys are not coming back here, so might as well allow discharges amounting to acquittals”: little knowing that the kay pohs would seize on this technicality to agitate against the govt.

Given his track record on looking after the interests of dogs even where a possible dog killer is a FT (example), the HR kay pohs should cut him a lot of slack. Now if the minister was the ACS boy who sneered at elderly, poor S’poreans, I’d agree that the kay pohs have a point about the need of ensuring that justice is done. Hey but this is a most compassionate minister (he loves dogs and, even cats) from RI, not an ACS rich kid. What more do they want?

And there is still the possibility of judicial review, shumething that kick ass, take-no-prisoners superhero M Ravi is pursuing in  several cases. So kay pohs should sit down and shut up.

No trust police and Pet Minister is it? AG should think of suing said activists for making defamatory innuendos about the minister and the police.

By now I’m sure you know that I’m no supporter of using a bit of billions the manual workers gift us to pay for “due process” for the deportees. We have to do right by the manual workers, but there are limits, something the kay pohs seem to refuse to acknowledge. I’m sure in their heart of hearts, they want the detainees to be detained in a 5-star hotel with access to the best lawyers, all at the expense of  us tax-payers. Their ang Moh masters mentors would expect no less.

If the anti-govt kay pohs really cared about the migrant workers they should have been advocating and campaigning from yrs ago that some spare change from the S$2.4 bn++ that the govt gets from the manual workers goes to helping them: without them S’pore would have to pay more, a lot more, for labour intensive jobs. Instead, the said activists want the spare change to be used on judicial “due process”. Some thing is not right about their priorities?

As I pointed out in the earlier piece, there could be a medical insurance fund, and a general welfare fund. BTW, a SDP doctor tells me that the SDP healthcare plan (involving an insurance fund and comprehensive coverage) would cover manual FTs (all FTs in fact) too. Before GG and friends, and TRE readers get upset with the SDP, they should remember that the SDP has also called for a policy of putting locals first and tightening the use of FTs by businesses.

Let me end by returning to said kay pohs: substitute the term “activists” for “management” in the following quote from a famous American psychologist* and you will know why I’m uneasy about their motives and actions: “This is what I get  vaguely uneasy about in the reading on management, namely a certain piety, certain semireligious attitudes, an unthinking, unreasoning, a priori kind of ‘liberalism’ which frequently takes over as a determinant, thereby to some extent destroying the possibility of maintaining the sensitivity to the objective requirements of the actual, realistic situation.”

*Update at 8.43 am on # January 2014:

Think I’m unfair on the activists? Yesterday, I wrote: Here’s an interesting piece from a TRE reader on the appropriateness of the original venue of its seminar on “the struggle for workers’rights”. . I agree with the sentiments expressed within it, though to be fair to Maruah the date of said seminar was on 23 December. Somehow I don’t think that there would be many FTs in the area on a Monday. One of these days I’ll blog on why Maruah and the police deserve each other: both have lousy public communication skills, though the police’s skills iare a lot better than Yaacob’s finest, who only know how to slime.

They may be anti-govt, but we shouldn’t be on their side juz ’cause they got the balls to take on the govt publicly. Their actions and motives have to be analysed and scrutinised, juz like the govt’s, even though we should not hold them to the standards we expect of the govt. They don’t have the resources of the govt.

*Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. Wikipedia

Pls spare migrant workers pennies from the $2.5bn++ they “gift” S’pore

In Economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 27/12/2013 at 4:30 am

(This is a follow-up to this on how Santa 2.0, the govt and Scrooge are related.)

TOC’s Terry Xu commented on Facebook a few days ago: The total foreign worker levies collected were S$2.5 billion for the Financial Year 2011 and S$1.9 billion for the Financial Year 2010. Similar to other sources of Government revenue, the foreign worker levies are not ringfenced for any specific purposes. All Government revenue collected would go into the Consolidated Fund used to fund Government expenditures in general.”

And it goes up even more in the year 2012, 2013 given that there are more workers and that the levies have increased since then … (Thanks Terry for this info. I’d been meaning to check up the quantum and use of the levies, but never got round to googling)

This means the govt can do more, a lot more, to ensure that these workers have better living and work environments, and are not exploited (This is how bad things can be: http://www.lianainfilms.com/2013/12/the-singapore-way/), without increasing the tax burden on S’poreans and others living here, or on the workers’ employers, and biz in general.

Surely some of this money can be used to set-up a medical insurance fund and a general welfare fund for these workers? Surplus for our SWFs to use to place bets on juz a bit smaller. True, we pay them wages but those wages are off-set by the Hard Truth that if they were not available, we’d be paying serious money to get workers or robots to do what they are currently doing for “peanuts”.

But I would like to remind the activists that there are worse places that migrant workers are willing to go to.

A November report produced by Amnesty International, the British-based rights group, found the Qatari construction industry to be “rife with abuse”, including forced labour and virtual slavery. Workers complained that their salaries were half what they were promised, or that they had not been paid at all for months. Others said their wages had been docked for taking five-minute breaks during 18-hour shifts in the searing summer heat. Sponsors routinely confiscate their employees’ passports, preventing them from changing jobs or leaving the country. In the most extreme cases, workers have paid with their lives: this summer 44 Nepalese migrants died in two months from heart failure or work-related accidents. The International Trade Union Confederation warns that as many as 4,000 labourers could perish during the next nine years of construction.

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/gametheory/2013/12/football-and-labour-rights-qatar)

I’m not using the fact that are are worse places than S’pore to defend the S’pore Way: juz to try to put things in perspective. We are not “Swiss” enough, but we are not cruel slave masters, far from it. Interestingly, about 10 yrs I met an Iraqi who was working in ST. We got talking and somehow touched on employer/ employee relations: and he reminded me that the people of the Gulf had only stopped owning slaves legally in the early 20th century, and that there was a slave, master mentality there even in 2003.

Workfair and Maruah should campaign for the use of some of the $2.5bn to be used to provide medical insurance and other benefits, not against the deportation without, what they claim, is due process. I’ll blog on the deportation issue next week.

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.

 

 

S’poreans are over-reacting to the riot

In Political governance, Public Administration on 11/12/2013 at 5:26 am

But first, really I expect more of the president and the police commissioner

– President Tony Tan Keng Yam has urged Singaporeans not to let the violence in Little India last night undermine their confidence in the society. Instead, he said, the people should redouble their commitment to keep Singapore safe, peaceful and strong.

– Police commissioner Ng Joo Hee said of the riot,”It is not the Singapore way.”

Lest they forget, the riot was not started by S’poreans. “Police in Singapore have arrested 27 South Asian suspects after hundreds of people took part in a riot sparked by the death of an Indian national …About 400 foreign workers took to the streets, hurling railings at police and torching police cars and an ambulance.” BBC report.

So why should the president ask us to redouble [our] commitment to keep Singapore safe, peaceful and strong? What did we do wrong? Taz the typical reaction of a PAP govt minister: blame S’poreans. But the president? He is above politics.

Of course ,”It is not the Singapore way.” The rioters were FTs.

And what by the way, one can reasonably ask is the S’porean way in a place where the foreign workforce is 25% of the population?. There are  1.3 million FTs as of June, out of a total 5.3 million people: 25% of the population. The 1.3m figure excludes the 0.54m (as of 2011) PRs who are counted as local. Include them as FTs and at least 35% of the population is foreign.

But I won’t go into a tirade about the presidency or the police because I’m willing to assume that the president and the police chief are like most S’poreans (self excluded) shell-shocked by said riot.

Let’s start at the top. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to convene a Committee of Inquiry (COI), which will look into the factors that led to the unrest and how the incident was handled on the ground. “It will also review the current measures to manage areas where foreign workers congregate, whether they are adequate, and how they can be improved.

What for?

After all, he did say it was an “isolated incident caused by an unruly mob”.

The riot was contained pretty fast and efficiently with no loss of life except of that of the accident victim. One could have reasonably wondered why the police allowed their vehicles to be overturned so easily. I tot they should have fired warning shots which might have “sobered” the rioters. But I’m happy with the explanation that the police took a deliberate decision to be “restrained” even if such restraint resulted in my friend’s car being burnt and police-cars being overturned. So I ask again , why a CoI?

Waste of time and tax-payers’ money with money being spent on expensive lawyers, if as I expect, lawyers are allowed to be used.

And at the other end of the spectrum, the human rights kay pohs are filled with angst and self-examination. They are talking (they great at talking the talk, bit like the PAP govt on FT policies) of organising shumething, anything, to achieve reconciliation and gd karma. What for?

The vast majority of the visitors to riot area are not violent, aggressive people. They are there to have a gd time after labouring hard.

And in between, TRE and TOC readers are blaming the govt for everything, Gilbert Goh’s fans are stroking hatred of non-S’poreans, and PAPpists are blaming S’poreans (esp netizens) for being anti-FT and anti-PAP. Mercifully, none of the usual suspects are shouting, like some of them did, at the height of the panic for face masks (remember that?) thaz it’s OK to spread allegations to Facebook friends and that by so doing they are helping the govt. They argue that the govt can counter the rumours that said activists are spreading to their “friends”. If the actions weren’t dangerous, reckless behaviour, the self-justifications would be laughable.

That there has been no riot since 1969 prior vto this riot is neither here nor there. Given that S’pore has always been one of the most densely packed places in the world, there was (and is) the possibility that something like this could happen at any time. That it didn’t happen could be due to luck (juz like two once-in every-50- yr floods occurring in the space of months). Or it could be due to the way LKY ruled the place (remember he retired as MM only two yrs ago and he approved of how  Deng Xiaoping dealt with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests*)? Or it could be due to the changing composition of S’pore’s work force** and population.

My personal view is that we were juz lucky especially in having Sheep S’poreans whose reaction to the fatal accident that started the riot would be to take a look, take a few pics and then move on muttering: “Not my biz”. If Napoleon had S’poreans in Animal Farm, he wouldn’t have needed such brutal dogs.

Wouldn’t it be better to have for the CoI to look into whether the changing demographics of S’pore have caused cultural and societal changes, building-up tensions that can explode given the right mixture of ingredients.

But then PM isn’t that shell-shocked.

I wonder if the PAPpy FT academic calling for a population of 8m by 2030 will be allowed to continue shouting his message. If  there is a riot (a riot that causes so much angst) in a population of 5.3m, 25% of whom are FTs, imagine a scenario where there are 8m people here where 37% are FTs***? If one includes PRs, then the percentage of FTs would jump to 53%. I’m use simple extrapolation to derive these numbers.

Update at 8.50am after first publication

Related article that I urge social media users and the usual suspects who argue that sharing rumours helps the govt rebut them:

Sharing information without context can inflame a situation 

From

Frances Ess

10 December

While the riot in Little India has saddened and shocked many Singaporeans, all of us must be responsible when we share information on social media. I have always reminded my children that “a text without context is a pretext”.

For example, one website used emotional words to describe how the riot was handled. Others were more responsible and reported only the facts, so as not to stir up unnecessary anger against all foreign workers.

Based on what was trending on Twitter, I am glad that most Singaporeans possessed the critical faculty to check for the facts and not believe everything they read.

For example, it was claimed at one point that three civilians and two policemen had been killed. Thankfully, that message died in time.

Most Singaporeans are angry that police cars and an ambulance were overturned and burnt.

It is easy to share such graphic videos online. But let us press the pause button, and ask ourselves what our purpose would be in sharing a video, photo or tweet and whether we are aware of the outcome that would be achieved. What about unintended outcomes? Is there a hidden agenda to the information provided on social media and are we being manipulated?

Do I have all the information on hand to make a rational, informed opinion or am I only parroting some views that excite us but, on deeper reflection, are untrue? Finally, when will the information be processed into accurate knowledge?

Discrete data shared without context can inflame a situation, and perhaps now is a good time to be reminded of the story of the blind men feeling an elephant for the first time.

While our individual, subjective experience can be true, such experience is essentially limited by its failure to account for the whole truth.

 

http://www.todayonline.com/voices/sharing-information-without-context-can-inflame-situation

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/riot-proves-point-about-community-relations/

—-

*He took over, and he said: ‘If I have to shoot 200,000 students to save China from another 100 years of disorder, so be it.

**An ex-policeman wrote a commentary in MediaCorp’s ST Lite that “[S]ome may be tempted to link the large presence of foreign workers at Little India to the population augmentation strategy. Again, this is a far stretch. Foreign workers, on work permits, have been a presence in Singapore for decades. They are essential to the urban renewal effort in Singapore.  Their numbers today are not much larger than the historical mean.”

The ex-cop obviously never studied maths at other than a very basic level. If he had, he would realise that using this “fact” would be an insult to the intelligence of more literate S’poreans. The “mean” especially the “historical mean” (whatever this means) is not an argument that one should use in dismissing that the argument of the growth of the FT population is a worry. Example: Isn’t the fact that 25% of the population is foreign a better indicator of anything to do with population than the “historic mean”?

***Given that S’poreans (even new citizens according to LKY) don’t want to breed babies. S’poreans prefer keeping dogs and cats, so much so that there is now a Minister for Pets.

Riot proves point about community relations?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 09/12/2013 at 5:04 am

(Update 10 December at 6.50am: Great summary of article quoted below by a TRE reader: The Wobbly Guy:

Let us decode the Beeb study:

‘non-segregated’ = assimilated

‘relatively prosperous’ = educated middle-class

So we find that assimilated and educated middle-class people have high social capital regardless of ethnicity. Gee, like that wasn’t obvious from a look at a typical HDB estate and what the immigration realists have been saying all along.)

One of the arguments made against the govt’s liberal FT policy by us citizens of “cowboy towns” is that it is bad for community cohesion.Well the FT riot* yesterday would seem to be proof of this. S’poreans would not resort to such violence. They would shrug their shoulders, take a few pixs and, like sheep, move on.

Seriously,it is accepted wisdom globally that there is a negative correlation between diversity and community cohesion with studies proving that link. Even the govt accepts this as a Hard Truth: otherwise how to explain its quota system in public housing for Indians and Malays, and its constant emphasis on the need to maintain racial and religious harmony, given the British legacy of bringing in FTs. It’s juz that this Hard truth is over-ridden by the Harder Truth that FTs are needed, never mind the side effects.

So here’s an interesting article on, “Is diversity good or bad for community cohesion?”, which would make  Gilbert Goh more frus because the findings of a study in the UK say it is gd.

“In ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’,” Putnam’s study concluded. “Trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer.”

But now comes new academic research looking at London which turns this idea on its head.

Social cohesion in the capital, it concludes, is “significantly higher in more ethnically diverse neighbourhoods”, once deprivation has been taken into account.

This is a startling assertion. The accepted wisdom among academics and policy makers, as the paper reminds readers, is that “ethnically diverse communities are characterized by distrust, low levels of social cohesion and disputes regarding the equitable provision of public goods”.

But diversity may not be the cause of social tension. “In fact, in the highly diverse neighbourhoods that characterise modern London, the opposite appears to be the case,” the research finds.

Diversity emerges as a positive predictor of social cohesion, the paper asserts, a finding that runs counter to the large majority of published studies.

But what this paper suggests is that where you have non-segregated and relatively prosperous communities, diversity is likely to improve community life, not damage it.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24761954)

Taz the key, if everyone has a highish standard of living, diversity is gd. But mix rich and poor and one is asking for trouble. Here in S’pore, the highish gini is not gd news for the govt’s very liberal immigration policy. Yes, I’m sceptical that the govt is walking the talk on tightening its immigration policies until I see a decent, medium-term decline in the numbers. Something I doubt would happen.

*The bare facts as reported by BT: Singapore Police Force has classified Sunday night’s unrest at Little India as a case of rioting with dangerous weapons, and has arrested 27 subjects from South Asia. The SPF says it expects to make further arrests “in the hours and days that follow”.

Yesterday’s riot was sparked by a fatal traffic accident involving a private bus and a pedestrian, who was a 33-year-old male Indian national. The police say the unrest was not pre-meditated, and no Singaporean presence has been established amongst the rioters.

The mob-which swelled to a 400-strong crowd-damaged and burned police and SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force) vehicles, and left 10 police officers injured, out of the 300 who were deployed to the site.

Bare facts added after first publication.

An outdated economic Hard Truth

In Economy on 05/12/2013 at 5:19 am

Uncle Leong wrote recently, “How many more years and how many times must we hear the same old pledge and rhetoric that with productivity, the pay of low-wage workers will go up?”

The PAP has at least since 1965 stressed that productivity and wage rises must go hand in hand (BTW, taz not the case when they came into power in 1959. If you read the book I reviewed here, there was a huge increase in strikes when the PAP came into power, and workers and their employers tot the PAP was pro-labour.In 1959, 26,000 man-hours* were lost as a result of strikes, in 1960 125,000 man -hours were lost. a 481% increase.

How times have changed. Actually as late as 1971, as this book shows, activists tot of NTUC and the PAP govt as pro-labour: a minister, no less, assisted in a strike that brought ST to its knees.)

Sorry for the digression. Back to the Hard Truth that wage rises and productivity go hand in hand. It’s Economics 101:IMAGINE the proceeds of economic output as a pie, crudely divided between the wages earned by workers and the returns accrued to the owners of capital, whether as profits, rents or interest income. Until the early 1980s the relative sizes of those slices were so stable that their constancy became an economic rule of thumb. Much of modern macroeconomics simply assumes the shares remain the same. That stability provides the link between productivity and prosperity. If workers always get the same slice of the economic pie, then an improvement in their average productivity—which boosts growth—should translate into higher average earnings. [Emphasis mine]

(http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21588860-labours-share-national-income-has-fallen-right-remedy-help-workers-not-punish)

Well it may be Economics 101 but it ain’t the reality, the article goes on: More recently, however, economics textbooks have been almost the only places where labour’s share of national income remains constant. Over the past 30 years, the workers’ take from the pie has shrunk across the globe (see article). In America, their wages used to make up almost 70% of GDP; now the figure is 64%, according to the OECD. Some of the biggest declines have been egalitarian societies such as Norway (where labour’s share has fallen from 64% in 1980 to 55% now) and Sweden (down from 74% in 1980 to 65% now). A drop has also occurred in many emerging markets, particularly in Asia. [Emphasis mine]

So the PAP’s Hard Truth that productivity goes with wages is not going to solve the problem of stagnant wages. The Economist gives two suggestions:  Govts should focus on improving the prospects of the low-paid and low-skilled. And they should aim to spread capital’s gains more widely.

The govt here has always talked the talk of improving the prospects of the low-paid and low-skilled. As to whether it has walked the talk, ask yrself are TRE readers right to fret that S’pore is threatened by inequality and rampant, uncaring capitalism and the govt? They are insecure and fearful. They feel poor. They feel so poor that TRE has problems raising money to fund itself: http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/12/04/tre-to-cancel-one-of-its-servers-to-remain-within-budget/.

On the latter, privatise Temasek?

*Bang yr balls, AWARE When are the gals going to bitch that MoM should not use the the word Manpower in its name?

Cost of chicken rice, FTs and the BBC

In Economy on 04/12/2013 at 6:08 am

This blog is critical of our ministers’ attempt in the past to talk down inflation (Tharman and Hng Kiang. Lee Jnr) To be fair, they’ve been quite on that front recently, cause of the numbers that keep coming out.

Here’s a practical example, courtesy of the BBC: for our chicken rice, the prices of its key ingredients – chicken, rice and the vegetable oil to cook the food – have all about doubled since 2005.

Chicken — 84%

Rice — 90%

Vegetable oil — 100%

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25147402)

So don’t think ill of the seller for increasing his prices since 2005. In addition, he got to pay the rent.

In the above link, which talks of global food inflation, the reporter interviewed a PRC FT (in a hawkers’ centre) on the rising cost of food in S’pore and in Mandarin. Clip is towards end of article. GG and TRE readers will not be happy that a PRC FT is interviewed instead of a local. and P Ravi will be upset that Mandarin is used, not English. Seriously even I think that the BBC is wrong to give the impression that S’pore is part of greater China, or FT heaven (5 people interviewed for another series, three are FTs, one true blue S’porean and one first gen. P Ravi will be fuming that the two locals are ethnic Chinese.He should complain to the BBC that 7% of the population are ethnic Indians and that they play a huge role in the governance of the country: two out of four of PM’s most trusted ministers are Indians. AWARE will be not be their usual bitchy selves as both are women. Yes, I’m fed-up with AWARE’s triumphalist, patronising and ang moh attitudes-are-best attitude.)

BTW, in general as countries develop people spend proportionally less on food.

Ageing population Hard Truth is cock and bull?

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 20/11/2013 at 4:25 am

The govt and the constructive, nation-building media keep shouting at us that a rapidly aging population (and the stas do show this aging as a fact, no bull here) will lead to disaster if FTs like two-timing new citizen Raj or Tammy’s killer or the FTs that beat up S’poreans and then fled S’pore*, or a looney, violent bank director are not allowed in by the container load. They point to Japan as what can happen if FTs are not allowed in: economic stagnation. The truth is more complex. As I reported here HSBC, a bank, in 2012 published research that Japan is doing pretty well when compared to other developed countries, including immigrant friendly countries like the US and the UK (though the UK is now repenting its liberal immigration policy)

Whatever the impact of an ageing population on S’pore’s prosperity, here’s a piece of evidence casting doubt on the assumptions (stated or unstated) behind the need to have a population of 6.9m by 2030. It comes from academics from the University of Edinburgh.

The idea that dependent older people represent a great demographic challenge of our age has been turned on its head …The research questions an assumption behind arguments for health, social care and immigration policies … The paper demands society rethink some of its assumptions about elderly dependency – drawing a distinction between the ‘young old’ and the ‘old old’

Here’s more from the BBC’s Home (i.e. domestic affairs) editor (Note that the paper in question is based on British statistics but the argument seems applicable elsewhere as he points out)

“The extent, speed and effect of population ageing have all been exaggerated and we should not assume that it will strain health and social care systems,” Professor John MacInnes and senior research fellow Jeroen Spijker write in the article ‘Population Ageing: The timebomb that isn’t?’

Healthier and fitter

The mistake people have been making, the paper suggests, is to assume that all pensioners are dependent and all working-age adults are workers.

They point out that, while it is true there are now more people over 65 in the UK than children under 15, rising life expectancy means older people are effectively “younger”, healthier and fitter than previous generations.

Instead of simply looking at how old someone is, the research focuses on how long they might be expected to live.

“Many behaviours and attitudes (including those related to health) are more strongly linked to remaining life expectancy than to age,” it says.

In 1841, life expectancy at birth was 40 years for males and 42 years for females.

By 1900 it was 52 and 57 and today it is 79 and 83. So the point at which we enter ‘old age’ has also been changing.

Equally, using age to define the adult working populations makes little sense, the authors suggest, because “there are more dependents of working age (9.5 million) than there are older people who do not work”.

So they calculated an alternative measure, what they call “the real elderly dependency ratio”, based on the sum of men and women with a remaining life expectancy of up to 15 years divided by the number of people in employment, irrespective of age.

Important implications

Using this measure, the paper calculates that old-age dependency in the UK fell by one third over the past four decades – and is likely to stabilise close to its current level.

The measure suggests similar falls in many other countries.

“Our calculations show that – over the past four decades – the population far from ageing, has in fact been getting younger, with increasing numbers of people in work for every older person or child,” the authors say.

“The different story of population ageing told by our real elderly dependency ratio has several important implications for health policy and clinical practice.”

In policy terms, this analysis to one of the central challenges of an ageing population might be something of a game changer. Rather than seeing longevity itself as an expensive problem, focus could shift towards managing morbidity and remaining life expectancy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24921171

The continued refusal of the govt to accept that the issue of ageing population is a complex one and the unwillingness to question its Hard Truth on the issue continued in the face of evidence that the Hard Truth is doing real harm looks all too similar to the intellectual fetters that led central bankers to persist in tighten monetary policy in the early 1930s when faced with a global Depression.

It also shows that they are unlike LKY and Dr Goh Keng Swee who were willing to challenge the conventional wisdom that allowing MNCs in amounted to neo-colonialism. And demographics is not the only issue where the PAP govt is wedded to Hard Truths. Take welfare, where there is evidence that gd welfare systems do not reduce the will to work: they do not make people lazy e.g. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24974745: another University of Edinburgh study.

Maybe, time to send scholars there to learn to walk on the wild side, and think unHard Truths? After all  University of Edinburgh is a great university. It juz doesn’t produce the ruling elite of the UK or the US. Our scholars to to unis where the UK and US ruling elite are educated.

BTW, here’s an article on using robots to as carers for the elderly: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24949081

*PR was given to one after he beat up the S’poreans.

Gaming the system: Unsaid assumptions of PAP, NTUC MP

In Political economy on 18/11/2013 at 5:29 am

This call by a PAP,NTUC MP provoked me and someone else into some chim tots, MWC [Migrant Workers' Centre] cautions workers and employers alike to access the Work Injury System honestly and fairly so that it can provide meaningful compensation to workers who have suffered physical incapacity or impairment from legitimate injuries suffered in the course of their work.

(http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/forum-letters/story/change-mindsets-employers-workers-needed-20131115)

Someone posted on Facebook: From the way the statement by MWC is phrased, I think they should seriously rename themselves the Migrant Worker EMPLOYERS’ Centre, as it is clear they are more concerned about the employers’ interests than they are with the workers they claim to represent.

If the employer alienates the migrant worker for fighting for what he believes he truly deserves, shouldn’t the MWC take the employer to task for such a clearly discriminatory practice that is against MOM’s employment guidelines? Why side with the employer?

I responded to the poster: The unsaid assumptions (reasonable for a NTUC and PAP MP) are that the employers are usually fair-minded people, while migrant workers are out to cheat their fair-minded employers. LOL

I also posted:No matter how gd any system is, it can be gamed. The only way out is to give someone discretion to catch the gamers. Problem is that this leads to other problems*. BTW, gaming the rules is the reason the govt gives as an excuse not to legislate rights to many things that in other societies are accepted as part of the social fabric. Sadly the co-driver tends to agree with the govt. Only the SDP is prepared to challenge this self-serving excuse, not that I’m saying gaming will not happen. We juz have to accept that fact and change the rules, and accept that there will be abuses. Juz try to minimise it.

And as cutting and pasting this post, it struck me that the MAP, NTUC MP does not take into account in the statement, the imbalance of power and resources between the aggrieved migrant worker and an employer. One is on subsistence wages (by our standards at least), the other most probably drives a BMW or Mercedes and owns an apartment or two. This PAP, NTUC doesn’t know the meaning of social justice, and the need to level the odds in favour of the migrant worker.

*I was thinking of corruption. S’poreans are always complaining of the rigidity of the public service. One reason for such rigidity is that giving discretion to public servants, opens the doors to their exercising their discretion in return for monetary and other incentives. Hence the rule book.

True blue S’porean FT applies for citizenship

In Humour on 17/11/2013 at 4:34 am

Yesterday’s ST carried a story about a young S’porean athlete, 14-yr old Olivia Marsden, who is applying to be a citizen. Father’s British, mum’s from Oz, and they’ve been living here since since the early 1990s.

Hope she gets citizenship. Home Team should grant it in repentance for the following sins:

new citizen Raj who boasted his son will get PR despite not doing NS*; and

FT** Alison McElwee who killed Tammy. Tammy was a true blue S’porean: mongrel, ill-treated and traumatised. McElwee has defended killing Tammy and insisted that the rehomer refused to take back Tammy, despite text messages indicating the contrary

BTW,here’s someone who S’pore must attract: Aged 11, most boys can do little other than watch television, play football and fight with their sisters; this child blagged his way past at least three security checks onto an international flight.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2012/07/ticketless-travel

*Interestingly, co-driver has never raised the issue in parly.

**Earlier this week, ST reported that she’s British and working in a healthcare centre. This was the first time, since the killing of Tammy was reported by our constructive, nation-building media that her nationality was given. Wonder why it took ST so long to report her nationality. Wonder if  is related to two accidents where PRC drivers were involved, but where the nationality of the drivers never disclosed? Note it was SOP for ST to give the nationality of a person it is reporting on.

Tharman trying to tell jokes again?

In Economy on 11/11/2013 at 5:16 am

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said there is the need to ensure that the Republic continues to remain a country of low unemployment and good income growth for the average citizen and family, and in particular low income citizens. He was delivering the keynote address at the Ordinary Delegates Conference of the NTUC according to  CNA a few weeks ago.

On talking of good income growth for the average citizen and family, and in particular low income citizens, he obviously hadn’t got round to reading Department of Stats reports, and he certainly not Uncle Leong. Uncle Leong reported

Historical wage growth 1.3%?

Using data from the Department of Statistics, the historical annualised inflation from 1980 to 2012 was about 2.0 per cent.

So, since the historical average of overall wages was 3.3 per cent annually, does it mean that real wage growth over the last 32 years was only about 1.3 per cent per annum?

1% wage growth this year?

Since “The MAS expects consumer prices to rise by 2.5 to 3 per cent this year”, even if the increase in wages is 4 per cent as is being predicted now, the real increase in wages for the year may only be about as little as 1 per cent.

Gd wage growth? What gd wage growth?

On low income citizens being looked after, Uncle Leong pointed out or, rather, reported

… the median basic pay of office cleaners was only $800 according to media reports just a few days ago. On top of these low-wage cleaners, there are about 114,000 full-time workers earning less than $1,000 a month and about 460,000 full-time and part-time workers earning below $1,500 according to the latest available statistics. (Note: The Singapore labour statistics classifies those who work more than 35 hours a week as full-time workers – probably the “longest” part-time workers’ definitionin the world)

And this

… since the per household member growth was much lower at 13 per cent, does it mean that household income grew relatively more because there were more working members per household?

Does it mean that particularly for lower-income households, more members may have to work to make ends meet?

Uncle Leong also reminded us that the govt sophistry of rising wages includes the govt mandated increase in CPF rates

Inclusive of employer CPF contribution?

Moreover, since the statistics are including employer CPF contribution, what is the growth without employer CPF contribution.

It used to be that the statistics in the past were based on without employer CPF contribution.

Different from other countries?

Do any of the other 7 countries cited in the table for comparison include the employer’s pension contribution in calculating real income growth? I believe the answer is no.

After reading all these points raised by Uncle Leong , I doubt anyone would say that Tharman is correct to assert that  S’pore remains a country of … good income growth for the average citizen and family, and in particular low income citizens. It hasn’t been since the mid-1990s, when a foreign capitalist grumbled that in S’pore, “the fruits of [his] labour” (his words) went to his employees, including me, when I had the brazenness to tell him he was being greedy, when I argued with him on the on the methodology of my incentive scheme. Capitalists were screwed by the govt. How times have changed.

And if one wants to be fair to Tharman, one could point out that the purpose of wage increase is to keep pace with inflation, not exceed it by a wide margin. And that anyway, not fair to use average over such a long period as it distorts the underlying data.

But then, even the govt concedes that real wage increases have in the recent past been stagnant or PMETS, and especially for the low paid, so Tharman was tempting the fates (and Uncle Leong)  by making the assertion about good income growth for the average citizen and family, and in particular low income citizens.

Last year I blogged that Tharman was trying to do comedy. Looks like as though he’s trying again. He should learn from RI boy, Hng Kian: stop telling jokes when not cut out to do comedy. But then Tharman’s from ACS. And the Indian community, and liberals see him as the next PM: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/why-tharman-will-be-the-next-pm/.

So he has to try to get as gd as PM with his “mee siam with hum” joke.

Even NY & London getting less friendly to non-resident property owners

In Property on 03/11/2013 at 4:25 am

NY and London vie for the status of the world’s most global city. Yet even NY and the UK are showing signs of getting tired of too many FTs (where the “T” stands for “Talent” not “Trash”)

Plan to Tax the Rich Could Aim at Nonresidents “Ultrawealthy nonresidents who own property in New York City certainly make a ripe target for potential revenue,” James B. Stewart writes in the Common Sense column in The New York Times. “People who spend fewer than half the year in New York City don’t pay any city income tax, even if they generate much of their fortune in the city.”

Meanwhile in the UK,

The government is reported to be considering a tax for overseas investors buying UK properties, in a move to stop house prices rushing out of reach of homebuyers.

Sky News claims that the chancellor, George Osborne, is “actively investigating” charging capital gains tax (CGT) when foreign buyers sell UK homes, in a move that will bring their taxation in line with UK citizens.

Currently, only UK citizens and residents pay the tax, which is charged on profits made from the sale of any property that is not the owner’s main home. Basic rate taxpayers pay 18% of the profits, while higher rate payers hand over 28%.

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/oct/31/george-osborne-capital-gains-tax-overseas-buyers

 

Double confirm: FTs displace S’poreans

In Economy, Political governance on 01/11/2013 at 4:51 am

Following this, more evidence that we were misled that FTs created gd jobs for locals? In fact, they displace locals, it seems.

Or, at the very least, as one Siow tua kee activist and commentator (and no usual- suspect ranter) put it on Facebook, “So… is this an implicit admission that the flow of foreign workers DID depress salaries? Like everyone outside gahmen has been saying? Uh-huh.”

And this time the evidence comes from the central bank. Emphasis is mine.

Weakness in PMET job market for locals seen to be dissipating

Tertiary-educated Singapore residents – who have experienced a soft patch in hiring over the past year – can look forward to better job opportunities, thanks to recent government curbs on foreign labour inflows.

“Recent manpower policies to tighten the inflow of S Pass and Employment Pass holders will boost the hiring of tertiary-educated residents, particularly at the entry level,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in its Macroeconomic Review released yesterday.

The new Fair Consideration Framework, aimed at ensuring that Singaporean professionals are fairly considered for jobs, will also go some way in boosting these job-seekers’ prospects, it said.

Despite continuing demand for manpower in Singapore, local professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMETs) have recently faced a constrained job market. (BT 30 October 2013)

Meanwhile Today reported:

Resident wages up as efforts to stem foreign labour kick in

Wages for resident employees grew at a much faster pace in the first half of this year, as businesses paid more to hire locals in a tight labour market caused in part by efforts to stem the flow of foreign workers.

The contribution of resident workers to employment growth has also improved, with locals making up more than half of the total in the first six months, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said yesterday in its bi-annual macroeconomic review.

“Overall, resident wage growth accelerated to 4.5 per cent on-year in the first half of 2013, up from 2.3 per cent in the whole year of 2012,” the central bank said. “This was largely consistent with the resident unemployment rate, which remained low at around 3 per cent in the first half of 2013.”

In all, 62,600 employees were added to the workforce in the first six months, compared with 58,900 in the same period last year. Resident workers made up 55 per cent of the overall job gains in the first half, up from 45 per cent last year and 31 per cent in 2011.

“The contribution of foreign workers to total employment growth slowed in (the first half), as foreign labour policies became more binding,” the MAS said, adding that the number of work permit holders rose by 18,500 in the first half of the year, compared with 43,500 for the whole of 2012.

Economists TODAY spoke to say the rapid rise in wages is not surprising given the tight labour market, but that the increase is not entirely good news.

MAS data shows that wages for local employees in industries such as community, social and personal services, real estate services and professional services grew the fastest in the first half of the year. However, resident wages for construction, manufacturing and food services grew less than in the second half of last year.

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. http://www.todayonline.com/business/resident-wages-efforts-stem-foreign-labour-kick

Need I say more? The “right” facts on FTs were raised by the netizens of “cowboy towns” many moons ago but were dismissed as “noise”.

And finally, we should remind PM that the operative word is “Talents” not “Trash”: http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/10/30/pm-global-talents-needed-to-make-sg-a-vibrant-economic-hub/#comment-1086501. And I’ll add to TRE example of PRC PR masseurs: remember the shop assistant that beat up SMRT officer who tried to stop her son from trying to get a free train ride, and the PRC hawkers? They are PRs.

S’poreans* don’t have an issue with Foreign Talents like the CEOs of DBS and OCBC. But we have a problem with Foreign Trash. Juz look at SGX, where the CEO and his number two are FTs. Look at the damage these two FTs did recently: SGX lifted trading restrictions on three stocks, then after they cheonged announced that the price movements (prior to the trading restrictions) were going to be investigated. Prices collapsed. It should have made both announcements at the same time.

I doubt this would have happened under the previous CEO (whom I know personally). BTW, not talked to him about the above SGX issue.

Related post, title notwithstanding: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/low-productivity-lky-and-the-drums-agree-on-its-cause/

*GG and friends excepted. BTW, going by GG’s outburst against S’porean women (He thinks they prefer FTS: personal experience? He is either divorced or separated.), his version of paradise S’pore is hellish: only male true-blue S’poreans allowed. No women. Guess we males who are not gays or bisexuals will need robots to satisfy our carnal desires, or maybe he wants us to be wankers?

On this tot, have a gd weekend.

Proof that FTs displace S’poreans?

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 28/10/2013 at 4:52 am

And ST reported the proof.

Can someone from govt, or its running dogs* in the think-tanks or the constructive, nation-building media explain this ST headline (and accompanying story) on 24th October?

ITE graduates in demand as SMEs face manpower crunch

 Job-matching scheme places ITE and poly students in local firms

ST went on

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are stepping up efforts to recruit Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates in a bid to combat the manpower squeeze.

The aim is to place some 300 with local companies every year over the next five years, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck yesterday.

The job-matching, which is part of Spring Singapore’s SME Talent Programme, has sent 32 polytechnic and ITE students to 15 firms since it was launched in June.

Seven trade associations and chambers have also reached out to more than 1,600 students to apply for jobs such as retail associates, clerks and technicians. Employers are eager for more.

(Backgrounder: http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/10/24/demand-for-ite-grads-picks-up-when-foreign-quota-reduced/)

It’s reasonable to conclude from the ST story that this demand for ITE and poly grads is the result of the govt’s very slight retreat from its “We love FTs, first, last and always” policies**. So whatever happened to the Hard Truth that the the more FTs, the more and better jibs for locals? Seems more like BS doesn’t it? But then the line between a Hard Truth and BS can be pretty thin.

(Gd related article: http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2013/10/where-are-the-good-jobs-prime-minister)

for the record, Yeoh Lam Keong, former chief economist at GIC, has called for the immigration policy to be reversed. “What we need to do is to be much more stringent on admitting such unskilled labour. We’ve really got no excuse to be so relaxed about this kind of immigration.” (BTW, he has also called for the government to return to its roots to meet and serve the needs of ordinary citizens over public housing, education, healthcare, welfare and other services.)

If readers want to read, good, evidence-based critiques of govt policies, not the usual rhetorical rubbish that appears from most of the usual suspects most of the time, Uncle Leong excepted, follow “Lam Keong Yeoh” on Facebook.

Related posts:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/rewriting-lkys-views-on-fts-and-if-so-why/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/sccci-sme-survey-proves-lkys-point/

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

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

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/alternative-to-fts-ii/

——
*No disrespect to Tammy and other dogs.
**OK, OK, I exaggerate. But if the govt and its allies can exaggerate, why can’t I?

Great retorts to Kee Chui’s rubbish

In Political governance, Public Administration on 25/10/2013 at 4:37 am

Singapore is not considering having an official poverty line, as it would not fully reflect the severity and complexity of issues faced by the poor, and may also lead to those above the line missing out on assistance.

CHAN CHUN SING*: “If we use a single poverty line to assess the family, we also risk a ‘cliff effect’, where those below the poverty line receive all forms of assistance, while other genuinely needy citizens outside the poverty line are excluded.”

- Straits Times. 23 Oct 2013. (Via TOC Facebook)

P Ravi (the P stands for Philemon, not “Politican” as Yaacob of once in 50-yrs flood fame seemed to think) wrote on Facebook:

With various subsidies in healthcare, housing, pre-school education, etc already being tagged to means-testing, the cliff-effect already exists. Through my volunteer work with low-income families and individuals I know for a fact that some decline pay increases because if their salary increase, they will not be eligible for KIFAS (Kindergarten Financial Assistance Scheme). Some others do not take up jobs which will pay them a bit more than they currently earn, because then they will not be eligible for rental houses (some of these may be better off in rental houses then buying their own flats). Anyway, the ‘cliff effect’ has not historically stopped the Government from not providing assistance. For example, middle income families were recently provided assistance to purchase HDB flats. As I see it, the excuse of the ‘cliff effect’ is just an excuse to avoid properly acknowledging the state of poverty in Singapore. Without appropriately acknowledging poverty in Singapore, it will be very difficult to address it adequately.

And the following from the retired chief economist of GIC would have been another great retort except that it was written a few days earlier in resonse to SunT’s leading article with a headline screaming that for the first time assurance to the poor rose above $100mn in the last FY, a 45% increase

Can’t believe we are so proud that for the first time assurance to the poor rose above $100mn in the last FY.

That’s like 0.03 of a percent of GDP- a paltry amount in view of the fact that around 10 to 12% of households ( some 350 to 400,000 people) are way below the income per capita criterion of $550 per month and WIS payouts are way too stingy!

Even if you take just the unemployed and aged poor (excluding working poor) of around 140 000 people) that’s barely $60 a month each!

And yet MP Seah Kian Peng, chairman of the GPC for Social and Family Development can claim that those who fall between the cracks ” should be rare exceptions and, when they come to our notice we will certainly and very quickly act on them.”

Let’s please just come out of policy denial , treble workfare and at least double the amount we are spending on welfare before we make claims that we are dealing adequately with the poverty problem in Singapore!

It’s a real shame that a country with our level of prosperity and fiscal resources still faces chronic poverty of the kind outlined in Radha Basus article in ST today (p 13 and 13) …

Comcare fund is only largely directed at some 45 to 50, 000 families facing temporary problems like illness and retrenchment or the elderly poor; it largely does not include the working poor of 60 to 80, 000 households who are meant to be covered by an inadequate WIS..

Finally, I’m shocked to find out that The Government’s national database for the social services sector, or Social Service Net (SSNet), will be ready by mid-2015. Tot we had one: shows the priority that such a database had under previous ministers (like that rich kid from ACS). (http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/national-database-for/858204.html)

One wonders how Kee Chui got the data to make such the sweeping statement quoted above if there is no national database?

—-

*To be fair to Kee Chui, social workers are happier with his attitude and actions than with those of VivianB and the other welfare ministers. Sad that Halimah is not part of the team as she is believed to be, like Kee chui interested, in welfare reform, and in helping the poor.

Performance-related pay: Not applicable to CEOs and minsters

In Corporate governance, Political governance, Public Administration on 11/09/2013 at 5:32 am

The financial industry especially investment banking and broking gets a bad name because of the outlandish bonuses for the rainmakers or the swinging big dicks i.e. top traders and salesmen. But it’s abt income generated whether thru fees, commissions or trading profits. Example: 46%  of the department of Merrill Lynch’s Global Wealth & Investment Managment revenue comes from only 21% of its top-producing brokers, about 2,500 people. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/09/us-merrill-brokers-elite-idUSBRE84817N20120509

Of course there is moral hazard: losses are borne out to shareholders and taxpayers. And sure there are issues of cost and risk allocations especially the cost of capital used but there is a link between productivity (measured here by revenue) and pay.

BUT

There is no correlation between FTSE 100 bosses’ pay and the performance of the companies they run, a BBC report reveals.

And

C.E.O. Pay Keeps Climbing Shareholders have sounded alarms over executive pay and achieved victories at companies like Citigroup and Hewlett-Packard. But despite the noise, the median pay of the nation’s 200 top-paid C.E.O.’s was $14.5 million last year, an increase of 5 percent from the year earlier, according to a study conducted for The New York Times by the compensation data firm Equilar.

“One might reasonably conclude that the senior management of a bank cannot possibly know what is going on at the level of the individual traders; banks are just too complex. Fair enough. But one cannot have it both ways. If bank executives cannot be held responsible for all the shenanigans that go on underneath them, nor can they be responsible for all the profits that result. A lot goes on at a bank that is entirely out of the CEO’s control. So when Barclays makes a bumper profit, why should the CEO get an outsized bonus? The profits may be down to luck, or to rising markets, or to trades that the CEO cannot possibly be aware of.”

So the fallacy of paying ministers, CEO-like salaries is based on the wrong premise. CEOs’ pay are not performance-related.

Then, there is another problem with performance-related pay for ministers. This time the issue of collegiality. Everyone is more or less paid the same to promote team-work and shared responsibility. Remember collective cabinet responsibility is a political convention.

Tharman, Teo, Ng, Khaw, Shan, Kee Chui and now VB* (notice that the Indians are punching above their weight** despite only constituting 7% of the population) have to carry the likes of Yaacob, Lui, Tan, Fu, and Hng Kiang. In the cabinet, the salary differentials are very narrow according to PM, so the gd performers don’t get that much more. But thank god for small mercies. We once had to pay for SM Goh, Raymond Lim, DPM Wong, George Yeo, VB (not cut out for “compassion” jobs but gd at “rational” tasks?) and Mah, in addition to the present bunch of non-performing cabinet ministers who were then in cabinet. And wider still what abt the Speaker, and jnr ministers and parly secs?

Finally there is the point raised by this TRE reader? Can ministers who are ex-generals earn that much in the private sector http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/refute-this-question-pap/

*”Haze? What haze?” since he shouted “Rape!” at the Indons. I mean PM said haze was returning: he was wrong; as usual. I mean the haze season is ending. Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/haze-pm-silence-is-not-a-solution/. And he doing something about the flooding at Orchard Rd and now an expressway: listening to the engineers who have advocated spending money on flood prevention projects. Yaacob stuck his head under sand under the water, like what he and his sis did when LKY uttered his Hard Truth about the Malays, muttering something about “worse case scenario”. His sis was there when LKY made the remarks. It was left to PM to sort dad out. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/state-of-the-pap-my-light-hearted-analysis-based-on-gossip-heard/

**Judged by relative results

S’poreans avoiding low-paid jobs are not lazy or daft, juz rational

In Economy, Political governance on 02/09/2013 at 4:47 am

SME employers are forever bitching moaning that they need FTs because S’poreans (esp the young) don’t want to do the jobs on offer, be it factory work or restaurant work. The govt, too, is forever complaining that FTs are needed because there are jobs that S’poreans don’t want to do. The underlying message of govt and employers is “S’poreans are lazy”, echoing and amplifying one LKY’s Hard Truth that S’poreans need to be spurred on, by way of the import of FTs. BTW, strangely, they are silent on benefit of the wage repression that such imports bring them, and people like me.)

Well these employers are not “uniquely S’porean”. Farmers in the UK too complain that they need FTs according to this article

Farmers claim that they will then face a dramatic shortage of labour [when a FT scheme is ended].

Often migration is justified on the grounds that there are jobs young Britons are unwilling to do. They’re lazy and coddled the argument goes, workers from less wealthy countries tend to be keen to get the work. Yet at the same time as around 22,000 Bulgarians and Romanians came to Britain through the SAWS, over 46,000 Britons traveled to Australia last year as part of the Working Holiday Makers program. There, they often get low paid jobs, as farm hands, cleaners or in the catering industry.

The Economist (remember it likes our healthcare, CBD and COEs, and believes in low taxes, GST and liberal immigration policies) goes on to explain this paradox of British youth preferring to take menial, low paying jobs in Oz but not at home, while British farmers have to rely on immigrant labour:

Migrants—whether Romanian or British—usually intend to stay for just a few years before returning back to their country of origin. This means that they’re much more willing to live in cramped conditions, cut their costs and take on low paid temporary work. But Britons who are willing to work as field hands in Australia probably would not consider do so in Britain: they would hold out for a more permanent and better paid job. This is not necessarily evidence of laziness but prudence. It is just that it is much harder to buy a house or raise a family on the wages of a field hand than it is to backpack across Australia.

Likewise, S’poreans want better paying jobs because this is home, and a pretty expensive place to boot. A recent Yahoo article had this quote: I just think there must be something really wrong if the government keeps having to subsidise people like us who are considered middle-income wage earners. There’s a real income inequality problem here and they need to address it.” – Marketing executive Adrian Matthew, 26. Taz a middle income wage earner talking. Imagine what would a S’porean manual worker or waiter say?

True, we don’t have welfare benefits for the unemployed but young S’poreans have their parents. This being S’pore, the son or daughter is likely to be the only child, or one of two, and S’porean parents are likely to understand their children’s situation. And there is a generation that can still afford to indulge their children because they have jobs and have paid off their HDB loans, and are sitting pretty. Taz the welfare net for these young S’poreans.

The piece ends with shumething our PM and his cabinet should be thinking about (I slightly edited the passage to make it fit our situation):

There’s little point in complaining about laziness, those who won’t take these jobs are often making rational decisions. We don’t really want an army of underpaid Brits S’poreans working uncomfortable hours in jobs which pay nothing. It would be better to wonder why they cannot find better ones—and what the government can do to help them to.

The PM should remember that as the Economist agrees with many of the things he is doing such as:

– bring on the FTs;

– GST;

– COEs;

– CDB;

– high petrol prices;

– low taxes;

– no minimum wages; and

– meritocracy,

so he should listen to it when it talks of the need to try  to find better ways of helping the lower-paid workers. After all in S’pore, as I pointed out here, real wage median growth is dependent on govt fiat (raising employers’ CPF contribution.

What better goodie to celebrate 50 yrs of independence?

Even the PAP govt gets a goodie: a continuation of the de-facto one-party state if the govt can find a way to make sure S’poreans have stable, gd paying jobs. And no more subsidising of HDB flats for middle income S’poreans. No more raiding of the reserves as one Mah Bow Tan almost put it. More for Temasek to put on “Red”?

Low productivity: LKY and the DRUMS agree on its cause

In Economy, Political economy on 15/08/2013 at 5:11 am

I kid you not, miracles can happen. LKY agrees with the Blogging 7, Uncle Leong, E-Jay, s/o JBS, NSP, SDP and all the usual players of DRUMS. The latter have always argued that low productivity is the result of the FT policy. Not included Low or WP among the latter as I don’t know itheir stand on this issue.

Stoolies Foils, Comedy Straightmen ST: On the issue of making productivity gains, we lag behind many developed countries. In manufacturing and services, Singapore’s productivity is only 55 per cent to 65 per cent of that in Japan and the United States.

LKY: Because we have large numbers of migrants who do not fit into the workforce so easily and who do not speak English.Some hold work permits and do not stay for long – they leave within a few years, after developing skills.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={1072294113-18605-1765558123}

This appeared in Tuesday’s BT:

Manufacturing firms in Singapore relied on low-skilled foreign workers as substitutes for machinery between 2003 and 2008, sacrificing productivity levels in the process, according to a study.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) study released yesterday, however, found that other factors – unrelated to foreign workers – could have also caused the decline in automation, underscoring the need for greater R&D and product innovation.

The five years in question mark the government’s most recent period of liberal foreign labour policy. Between 2003 and 2008, the dependency ratio ceiling – which specifies the maximum proportion of foreign workers that companies can hire – was raised to 65 per cent; levies for unskilled work permit holders were reduced; and firms were allowed to hire work permit holders from China.

In its study of 1,500 manufacturing firms over that period, MTI found that those which hired relatively more low-skilled foreign workers relied less on machinery for production.

Doesn’t LKY’s words  and the MTI study show that the govt talk of increasing productivity over the yrs (from 1990s onwards) was juz that: talk? And now, the guy that was charged with leading the productivity drive in the late 1990s is now the chairman of Temasek? Isn’t S’pore a meritocracy, unlike M’sia?

Where LKY and the DRUMS would disagree is what would have happened if FTs didn’t come in by the cattle-truck load:

But you ask yourself how many small and medium-sized companies will pack up if we cut off the foreign workers?

But isn’t it a chicken-and-egg situation? Precisely because it is so easy and cheap to hire foreigners, the SMEs continue to rely on them. If the tap were tightened, they would be forced to find new ways of operation. There will be some that will shut down, but maybe some level of churn is necessary so that the economy can go on to be more productive.

You cut them off and you find the SMEs just caving in.

Would that be a bad thing, or could that just be a necessary transition?

If our SMEs collapse, we will lose more than half of our economy.

In a way, that is what the Government is now trying to do. They are trying to slow down the growth in the foreign labour force.

Yes, because the Singapore public feels uncomfortable with so many of them. Not because of the economics. From an economic point of view, we should grow.

So how do you see this ending now that we have started to tighten the tap? Does it mean that we will lose half of our economy?

As you bleed out the present workers on work permits, the economy will shrink. But we are keeping the same level and just slowing down the inputs of new workers. Not stopping them. You stop it, you are in trouble.

The DRUMS would argue that the SMEs wouldn’t collapse or move on. They would adapt. I don’t think any elected govt would dare take the risk of allowing SMEs to collapse. It could lose power. As Dr Goh liked to say, repeating a Western political aphorism, “Oppositions don’t win elections, govt lose them.”

Related posts:

Jokey

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/why-productivity-is-so-low-here/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/no-wonder-spores-productivity-so-low/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/productivity-ntuc-learn-from-china/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/singas-ft-replacement/

Serious

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/us-experience-on-growing-gdp-via-productivity/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/insufficient-public-data-a-reason-for-our-low-productivity-numbers/

 

:

US experience on growing GDP via productivity

In Economy on 23/05/2013 at 5:46 am

One striking fact is that even among the best performing metropolitan areas, overall increases in output per capita have been hard to come by. They have been limited to a handful of very brainy cities, especially West Coast tech centres. In general, growth has been a product of population increase large enough to offset falling output per person.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/05/migration

Growing via productivity is damned difficult! Only places with brainy people can do it successful. Given that we are “daft”, growing the population via immigration is the chosen way to grow economy. So taz why we need 6.9m people? In addition, according to PM’s dad, FTs are more more productive: locals need to be “spurred”.

Given that there are hordes of M’sians wanting to come, hopefully Lina Chiam will ask for regular updates on the FTs allowed in to see if govt will U-turn on its promise to restrict  FTs from trickling in. (WP too busy giving away contracts to supporters and preparing for ministerial goodies.) In 2008, the M’sian FTs poured in after their GE reduced BN’s grip on power. They were afraid of another May 13.

Related post:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/estonia-doing-it-spore-still-talking-about-it/

Update on 26 May 2013: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-14/ponzi-schemes-built-on-people-always-crash-too.html

Why gd GDP growth but “peanuts” pay increase

In Economy on 14/05/2013 at 6:02 am

Since I wrote “PM, this can’t be right? 5.9% GDP but 0.4% wage increase?”, I’ve read something that illustrates that it’s the distribution of GDP growth that matters, not GDP growth by itself. Hopefully someone who reads this blog and has personal access to PM will forward to him this extract from an Economist blog.

To see how the distribution of growth affects incomes, imagine a country of just ten people, with one earning $1,000 a month, another earning $2,000 a month, and so on up to the tenth, who earns $10,000 a month. Between them, these ten people earn $55,000 a month. Now suppose that in a year the economy grows by a modest 1.8%, so that there is an extra $1,000 to go around each month. If the richest person captures all that growth, it will give him a 10% pay boost. But he will hardly feel it, because he is already rich, and the average pay rise across the entire population would be just 1%. But if the poorest resident got all the extra money, his income would double. That would make a huge difference to his life—and the average pay rise in our little country would be a whopping 10%, far higher than the meagre overall growth rate. In general, the more of the $1,000 that goes to those on lower incomes, the bigger the average pay rise it causes, and the more impact it has. (Emphasis is mine)

What has happened here is that between 2000 and 2011, the earners of the median wage (those only getting 0.4% real wage increases) have not been getting most of the average 5.9% GDP growth. It went to those above the median wage: hence the ever rising COE prices and private property prices. The latter, meant that under Minister Mah HDB prices (remember the land cost) went up affecting the median wage earners, and the poor.

It also meant that increasing GDP via FT inflows was not in effective helping the median wage earner. The benefits of GDP growth went to the above median earners.

Finally what it means is that S’pore can have slower growth that benefits the poorer and median wage S’porean: provided the distribution of GDP growth is tilted towards the below median and median earners, away from the above median earners.Pigs would fly first.

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

PM, this can’t be right? 5.9% GDP but 0.4% wage increase?

In Economy on 10/05/2013 at 5:48 am

For incomes to rise, the economy must grow, Mr Lee said in his May Day message, making clear the centrality of economic growth which has been disputed by some who are worried about foreign workers and inequality, according to the local media. This is a repeat of, “Everyone would like their lives to become better and one important way of doing that is to make sure your pay goes up, especially with low-income workers. And for the pay to go up, the economy has to grow,” he had said in April. 

So I’m looking forward to hear what the govt has to say about Uncle Leong’s assertion that he estimated that from 2000 to 20111, the real growth in the median wage excluding employer’s CPF contribution was only 0.4%per annum., (FYI, Singapore’s economy grew at an average of 5.9% annum from 2000 to 2011*), After all, the govt was quick to counter his comments about the rent increases on Ubin.

Somehow, I doubt that the govt would contradict him because in a paper sometime ago, the Dept of Statistics  reported that between 2000 and 2011, real wages increased by 1.6% pa including employer’s CPF contribution. Uncle Leong juz took out the employer’s CPF contribution.After all, this money is not easily accessible, given the restrictions on the use of CPF money.

More interesting than Uncle Leong’s comments is that the NTUC minister (Zorro Lim) said:

“Wages can still go up despite slower economic growth.

‘This, provided that Singapore continues to get its policies right, said labour chief Lim Swee Say” on Saturday 27 April, ST reported.

True, this doesn’t contradict what PM said, but does imply that the link between wages and economic growth isn’t as clear cut as what PM says it is. And that it is also dependent on govt getting “its policies right”. But what if it gets its policies wrong (like HDB flats**, public tpt** and FTs by the truck-load).

We suffer while ministers earn their salaries and are protected from being sacked for incompetency, until the voters show their anger, and the ministers “resign”?

————

*

Year GDP%
2000 9
2001 -1.2
2002 4.2
2003 4.6
2004 9.2
2005 7.4
2006 8.6
2007 8.5
2008 1.8
2009 -1.3
2010 14.8
2011 5.2

(Dept of Stats)

**To be fair policies in these areas have undergone U-turns. But S’poreans are suffering from Mah’s and Raymond Lim’s goof-ups. I make no comment on the FT policy because I’m not sure if the govt is walking the talk until I see more numbers. Also after the 2008 M’sian GE, there was a influx of FTs from M’sia, afraid that the Malays would take out their parangs like in 1969. Given the 110% support that the Chinese gave the DAP in the recent election, and the failure to PK to defeat BN, I’m sure the Chinese are feeling vulnerable again.. Will they try to come again, and will the govt allow them in despite its promise to cut back on FT inflows?

Will S’poreans be protesting about caste discrimination soon?

In Public Administration on 03/05/2013 at 6:40 am

If you go to TRE, there are plenty of postings claiming that our S’porean Tamils are being oppressed and bullied by FT Indians who claim that they are higher caste than our true-blue S’porean Tamils:expecting them to look up to and respect the FTs. I don’t know the truth of these allegations (as there is plenty of “noise’ and wind on TRE*). And it is a fact (not a Hard Truth) that most of the Indian FTs who come to work in the IT industry are ethnic Tamils.

The number of non-Tamil, “whiter”** Indians are “peanuts”.

But before we dismiss these comments as xenophobic comments:

– There was a Nepalese lady who joined SPH in the early noughties. She went to a senior SPH editor (Tamil Indian by origin) and said to him, “I’m a high caste Brahmin. What caste are you?” And this guy was more senior than her! Everyone in the newsroom was stunned because caste had never ever been an issue.

Caste discrimination is to be outlawed in the UK, Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced in what is a U-turn on previous government policy.

Campaigners had said legislation was needed because thousands of people suffered abuse and prejudice because they were considered low caste.

They said existing laws offered no protection and said caste divided society unfairly, with those at the bottom expected to do dirty, poorly paid work while also being expected to – and forced to – look up to and respect higher castes. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22267147

“Caste discrimination has been going on for decades (in Britain). What we have found is that it has actually increased over the last decade or so because of social media and people have gone back to their previous caste identities.”

So it does exist in the UK, a very liberal society. What are the odds of it happening here where there is a wide spread perception among locals and FTs that the govt prefers FTs to locals?

When true blue Singaporeans complained (and produced evidence) that they were being discriminated by employers who wanted FTs, the govt treated these complaints as “noise”. Well post 2011 elections, things are different. Recently MoM Tan has implicitly admitted that there is problem when he said MoM had taken action against such employers. And PM just on May Day said that, companies must have a S’porean core. Would he have said if he didn’t accept that there are employers who discriminate against locals, preferring FTs?

Hopefully our govt will be more pro-active and vigilant in combating caste discrimination should there be evidence of it here. The issue of job discrimination against locals was allowed to fester because the govt behaved like blind and deaf frogs. It only got real after losing votes for itself and Tony Tan in 2011.

For the sake of social harmony (and the self-interest of the PAP), let’s hope the govt is alert to the possibility and evidence of caste discrimination.

*My pieces get republished there.

**My Tamil and Indian Muslim friends tell me that the “whiter” ethnic Indians are usually high caste. The darker one is, is usually taken as a mark of coming from a lower caste.

These Hongkies must wish NTUC represented them

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

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

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

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

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

 

SMEs & MNCs too believe govt is pro-FT?

In Political governance on 19/04/2013 at 5:40 am

Well nice to see that MoM Tan Chuan-jin has implictly confirmed that

– netizens ain’t the only people who believe that govt is pro-FT: so do SME owners and MNC mgrs; and

– they too like netizens need convincing that govt “tightening” of FT policy is not wayang.

Otherwise why would he say: “I think I need to be quite definitive here, so that the signal is clear because I would say for some time, I would say the industry was thinking that government will make a U-turn so therefore the changes perhaps did not quite happen. I think people were hoping that if the pressure was high enough, we will make adjustments and so on. And we notice that as a result of that, the propensity to do the way we do things was not so significant.”?

If the SMEs and MNC believe that the govt is not pro-FT, there would not be the need to say:”I think I need to be quite definitive here, so that the signal is clear … the propensity to do the way we do things was not so significant”? He has to say this only because he wants them to change their thinking that the govt prefers FTs to locals? From which flows their belief that the govt only needs “pressurising to get it to change its mind: and hence their pressure to change?

They should know that like Lady Thatcher, the PAP govt is “not for turning” when it has believes it knows the Hard Truth. So they believe, like us netizens, that restricting FT policy is not a Hard Truth, just wayang?

So I hope that Kishore*, our local MSM media and other PAP apologists move on from the mantra that the new media criticism and cynicism  of the PAP and the govt is juz “noise”: new media criticism of the govt does reflect perceptions (if not always facts) on the ground: even the views of the business community.

*Here’s a great rebuttal to Kishore’s attack on our cynicism. I was planning to bitch about his comments, but I was saved the trouble by this http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/14/kishore-our-cynicism-flows-from-institutional-failings/

ST never told you of these comparisons

In Economy, Media on 01/04/2013 at 5:29 am

 

They appeared at http://veritas-lux.blogspot.sg/2013/03/social-darwinism-taking-its-toll-on.html. Thank SG Daily’s Facebook for drawing my attention to them.

http://atans1.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/low-employee-loyalty-in-singapore.jpg?w=604http://atans1.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/singapore-employees-not-happy.jpg?w=604

Alternative to FTs II

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

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

Err what about robots for the latter task?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alternative to FTs

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

Robots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to make a school good?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

S’pore can learn from BMW

In Economy, Political economy on 28/02/2013 at 6:28 am

And Western countries on how to create the conditions to optimise the working environment for an older work force. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21535772

Wanted: Expertise on organising a legal strike

In Political economy on 03/02/2013 at 7:02 pm

Late last week, four FT PRC SMRT drivers appeared in court again. They had been charged for inciting and participating in an illegal strike.

On Sunday, I read the following on Facebook: “What a tale this is. Clandestine meetings with ministers, secret agreements with shadowy power-brokers. The Last Great strike is an uplifting, thoroughly Singaporean story that belongs on the shelf of every Singaporean home and classroom.- Singapore’s top-selling author NEIL HUMPHREYS commenting on THE LAST GREAT STRIKE.”

As I’ve written before, this book is written by a friend, Clement Mesenas. His dad grandfather was a Pinoy FT who came here in the 1930s early 20th century. The book “looks back on eight eventful days in 1971 when a group of young reporters staged a historic strike that shut down The Straits Times” for the first time ever in its 120-year history.

I joined the two dots: the book should have been subtitled: “How to organise a legal strike”.

I mean, Clement and his other Indian Chief friends (no Indians among the core team, so no racism intended) were so good that Labour Minister Ong Pang Boon told the Indian Chiefs: “All right gentlemen, let’s plan a strike.”

Wow! That’s endorsement! That’s support!

So social activists and other kay poh do-gooders, go buy and read the book. And don’t be put-off that LKY’s “favourite editor”, Cheong Yip Seng,says good things about the book: http://www.ilovebooks.com/ebooks/home/BB13CC1B-D14B-455B-A4F5-E78C2F6FB53F/The_Last_Great_Strike

And so should the rumoured wannabe prime minister, MOM Tan, his MOM bureaucrats, SMRT’s managers, other managers, and NTUC officials, go buy and read the book, because the book explains why strikes happen:

– poorly paid workers (“Most of us in the newsroom were broke well before the end of the month … An egg could be cracked onto roti prata for an additional 20 cents, but that was a luxury as those 20 cents could be saved for the bus ride home.”); and

– “parsimonious, disdainful … management”, Tan Wang Joo, former editor of The Sunday Nation, and a deputy editor of The Straits Times.

Sounds familiar?

Thinking about it, so should the PM. Someone pls send him a copy. LOL

(Earlier version got it wrong about his ancestry)

Govt may be right on limiting access to uni education, discuss.

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 19/12/2012 at 5:46 am

Given that Christmas is the season of goodwill to all men (including the PAPpies) and given that the PAP has had a torrid time, and given that Fabrications about the PAP is not doing its job, I tot I should post some facts and analysis (not Hard Truths) that support a policy that has pushy parents and netizens upset.

Sometime back, when

– PM said the desire  for “personal growth” 9i.e. a university degree has to be balanced with jobs; and

– the education minister said that while the govt would increase the number of places in local universities for locals, there would be a limit (I think he said 40% of some “mark”),

both were given a hard time by netizens and pushy parents.

I was reminded of the above recently, when I surfed across a few articles recently that discussed the skills needed to get jobs in a developed economies.

In a McKinsey survey of Western countries, nearly 70% of employers blamed inadequate training for the shortfall in skilled workers, yet 70% of education-providers believe they suitably prepare graduates for the jobs market. Similarly, employers complain that less than half of the young whom they hire have adequate problem-solving skills, yet nearly two-thirds of the young believe that they do have such skills.

Perhaps the young and their teachers need to take a reality check said the Economist writer who reported this.

Then there is thisAs some Canadian industries struggle to find skilled workers, others face a glut of qualified candidates and not enough jobs to go around. University professor Peter Fragiskatos says emphasising the importance of a university education only makes the problem worse.

He writes: Notions of success in Canada have been, and remain, intimately connected to obtaining a university degree. Why? After all, Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche and Heidegger can be discovered just as easily at a public library and for a much cheaper price.

All of this might sound strange coming from someone who teaches at a university. While the joy I feel when working with my students cannot be put into words, the experience has made me realise that a love for learning is not their leading motivation, if it ever was.

Most have been raised with the idea that a secure future will only be possible with a BA or a BSc, and they enrol in university for this reason. As they get older, today’s students are likely to pass along the same message to their kids.

The reality is that Canadians are living in a new era, one where a technical education – usually obtained at a community college – has the prospect of delivering not only a steady job but better pay than what university graduates typically make.

Engineering, mining and many health-related professions – the three areas identified by Tal’s report as most in need of qualified applicants – do not require a university degree.

Finally from an Economist blog  the work of Cambridge economist Chang Ha-Joon, has noted that Switzerland*—one of the richest countries in the world and the nation with the third-highest ratio of Nobel scientists per person—has a lower rate of college enrollment than every other rich nation, as well as other beacons of prosperity like Argentina, Lithuania, and Greece. In fact, once a country has crossed some very low threshold, there is no relationship between the number of graduates and national wealth. The explanation is simple: a typical college education does not linearly increase labor productivity. This is not necessarily a bad thing—there is more to life than making money, after all.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2012/09/college-enrollment

So maybe, the govt is right to put the emphasis on vocational education, with scholarship schemes like this?

Fat chance that most readers of TRE and TOC, and pushy parents would concur. For the former, the govt, PAP, NTUC and related entities are always wrong. Take Zorro Lim’s statement that NTUC says ‘no’ to equal pay for all nationalities because “Same job-equal pay” rule will put local workers and families at a disadvantage. Facebookers and some bloggers were bitching about this. If he had said “yes”, they would be bitching too.: S’poreans must come first. Wonder how these people feel, now that ST (whom they rightly bitch abt) agrees with them that sMRT should only use the English station names in its public announcements. LOL

—————————–

*S’pore’s spending on education is only around 3% of GDP (about halve of Switzerland which is in line with developed countries), so we got to spend a lot more to have a Swiss-style standard of education. Unless the govt wants us to be third world in education, like on workers’ and refugees’ rights.

 

FTs running SGX wanted this turd

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

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

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

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

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

SMRT did not brief FT drivers on labour law?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(CNA report)

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

S’pore: A great place to be born in

In Economy, Humour, Political economy on 05/12/2012 at 5:39 am

In 1988, S’pore was the 36th best place to be born in: same as East Germany. M’sia was 38th and HK was 7th. In 2013, according to an article (The lottery of life) in an Economist publication, S’pore will be the 6th best place to be born in, M’sia will be 36th and HK 10th.

Switzerland will be 1st, followed by Oz, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Bang yr balls in frustration S’porean self-loathers: KennethJ, Goh Meng Seng, Tan Kin Lian, Tan Jee Say, Ravi, and born- loser readers of TRE and TOC.

Maybe the WP MPs have a point in being so supportive of the PAP govt? Maybe NSP is right that the party is not ready for govt: PAP still going strong?And maybe PM Lee and Chief Clerk Goh ain’t that bad?

I’m surprised that ST didn’t see fit to publicise this. Must be full of subversives.

But this good ranking does raise a question: If so good leh, home come S’poreans are refusing to breed? Shumething must be wrong? Maybe with S’poreans?

Or do the stats leave out things that matter most to S’porean couples that decline to breed or stop at one.

NTUC leaders would never say this

In Humour on 04/12/2012 at 9:47 am

“If at any point the owners start singing my praises, there’s only one thing for you to do, and that’s fire me.”

Union members would fire them from their million-dollar jobs.

The above words were said by Marvin Miller, a former head of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA), who has just died. According to an Economist blog. “Mr Miller’s canny collective bargaining led to …  the majority of each dollar spent on baseball in the United States (in the form of tickets, broadcasting contracts or merchandise revenues) now ends up in the pockets of the athletes who provide fans with entertainment.”

 

Duric: where the “T” in “FT” stands for Talent

In Footie on 16/10/2012 at 7:05 am

One can call it an indictment of Singapore’s lack of striking options, or a testament to his ability to still find the net at his age … Aleksandar Duric, at the ripe old age of 42, will still be leading the Lions’ attack in their international friendly … as the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation because his other options are injured.

“People say he is old, but look at the way he has been performing for Tampines Rovers.

“Week in, week out, he has been giving his best and he has been scoring the goals, too. Physically, he is in good shape and his strength is in holding the ball and drawing the attention of at least two defenders.

“That makes the work easier for his other team-mates who play up front,” says S’pore’s injured skipper and striker, Shahril. (Italics from MediaCorp)

More FTs like him, and less of the Amy Cheongs, Romans, and ang moh caws who beat up S’poreans and abscond, and S’poreans would not have problems with FTs.

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