atans1

Posts Tagged ‘News Management’

Setting straight SPH’s tale on WP “discontent”

In CPF, Political governance on 01/08/2014 at 4:39 am

I refer to this “Discontent among WP’s old guard” in the New Paper. Typical of “constructive, nation-building” media. When the PAP changes members of the management team, the media praise it  for” self renewal”, “New blood”. when an Oppo party does the same thing the emphasis is on “discontent”, splits of the losers, malcontents.

I was going to deconstruct the article, given that I’m not too well-informed on the WP’s internal workings (My Morocco Mole has his agenda when telling me stuff. And he had a howler ). But my FB avatar came across a detailed analysis (deconstruction and factual) on FB by a WP member. As we didn’t ask permission, I will not name the person. But if she wants to be named, I will amend this piece to give credit where credit is due.

The New Paper published a report masquerading as a factual analysis of the dynamics at this year’s Organising Members Conference held at the Workers’ Party HQ on 27 July 2014. The article was mischievous and misleading. But more importantly, errors were aplenty. The following are my brief comments.

1. A binary between veterans and younger members who hold degrees was constructed. Supposed “facts” were thrown into this binary framework to create a seamless understanding of what has transpired and to provide analysis of and/ or an account of the situation.

In the article, John Yam and Somasundaram are conveniently labelled as part of the “old guard”. In that case, it appears that both of them were labelled as such due to their physical age in relative to the previous council members who were voted out, such as Ng Swee Bee and Koh Choong Yong who are in their 30s and early 40s respectively, rather than their experience in the Party. If the journalist had done his research, he would have realised that John Yam and Somasundaram joined the Party in 2009 and 2006 respectively. They are in no way “veterans” alluded to by the journalist as being “around for more than 15 years.” In fact, Swee Bee has been in the Party for the last 10 years, longer than John Yam and Somasundaram.

In listing down the reasons for the unhappiness of the “veterans”, he cited that “newer and younger members who hold degrees are preferred over veterans. In that case, the two “older members” who were elected does not in any way fit this caricature. Dr. John Yam holds a PhD and Mr. Somasundaram holds a Masters degree. Swee Bee on the other hand, for the longest time since she joined the Party in 2004 did not have a university degree, but she has been holding the position of Organising Secretary for many years.

The journalist also pointed out that former members, “Mr. Mohamed Fazli Talip and Sajeev Kamalasanan” were veterans of the Party. They were not. Fazli joined the Party in and around 2009/ 2010 and Sajeev joined the Party in 2006. To put it into perspective, Swee Bee and Choong Yong joined the Party in 2004 and 2006 respectively. This binary of “veterans”/ “old guard” vis-a-vis the younger and educated members is clearly misleading and in his attempts to construct a “Other” in the Party, does more harm than good in helping readers of The New Paper understand what had transpired at 216G, Syed Alwi Road on 27 July 2014 and more importantly, the implications/ significance of the new Council in the lead up to the next General Election.

The fundamental point is this. The journalist contradicted himself with the use of the terms “old guard” and “veterans” to mean the same group of people or to construct a faction within the Party from thin air. As he writes on, even he became confused.

2. The journalist displays his lack of understanding of the operations and functions of the Workers’ Party. He did not bother to do his research and check his facts.

The Workers’ Party do not and would not parachute in their candidates. In the article, it was pointed out “candidates are parachuted in, despite not having walked the ground.” Anyone with a basic understanding of the Workers’ Party knows that this is not true at all. The journalist would also be interested to note that the Workers’ Party fielded an ITE graduate at the 2006 elections.

The reasons for Dr. Poh Lee Guan’s sacking, Mr. Eric Tan’s resignation (why Mr. Gerald Giam was made NCMP ahead of Mr. Eric Tan) and the earlier resignations of Mr. Fazli Talip and Mr. Sajeev were made clear to members, cadres and non-cadres at the annual members seminar of the Party. In particular, Mr. Low had explained to the entire membership the reasons as to why candidates were not guaranteed a cadreship. This point was consistently explained to the membership whenever it was brought at internal meetings. For the case of Dr. Poh Lee Guan, Mr. Low had made the reasons clear in his interview with the press after the nomination of Mr. Png Eng Huat during the 2012 Hougang by-elections.

Thus, the journalist was simply mischievous in attempting to illustrate a lineage of discontent and dissatisfaction in the Party. He accepted the comments of these former members at face-value, without trying to better understand the respective motivations/ intentions of these former members. Not too sure whether this is journalism or gossip.

3. “How bad was it?” / “Is there a split?”

In situating his piece in the context of an election drama and an internal party split, the journalist tried his utmost to fit his analysis with the gossip and rumours he picked up with members at the coffeeshop under the party’s headquarters. He had no intention to put up a accurate report.

4. The journalist do not understand the historical context behind Sylvia Lim’s statement.

Sylvia Lim told the cadres that the “WP could not afford to have internal problems or disunity.” Any responsible political party with an understanding of the period in Singapore’s political history (1991 – 1997, Singapore Democratic Party) would make a similar appeal to its members. A quick search would also find Lee Hsien Loong emphasising party unity to his members.


If a political party was nothing but a monolith, with the entire membership parroting the leadership, then I guess something is really wrong. It probably would be inherently broken. As a member of the Party, I am glad to say that this is not the case. The Workers’ Party is growing, its membership is growing and with that will come more competitive internal party elections. Different individuals with different views, ideological inclinations and backgrounds and experiences join the Party at different junctures in their lives. This can only be good for the long term development of a Party. As the case of Mr. Yaw Shin Leong and Dr. Poh Lee Guan had clearly shown, no one is above the institutions and standing orders laid down in the Workers’ Party. WP is a professional organisation and a well-oiled political machinery.

By the way, I attended the conference last Sunday. There were more cadres than the physical space at HQ would allow. It was packed, very packed. No wonder WP needs a new HQ for its continued growth and development. I like to think that this is not very newsworthy for The New Paper.

BTW, I’m sure that TRE ranters who call me a PAP mole, ISD person will say this post confirms what they have been saying, ’cause it sides with the WP. For the record, I think the SDP has the best policies for S’pore, 10-15 yrs into the future. It’s the only party that talks about

De-couple housing and healthcare from CPF.

The major reason why Singaporeans are left with insufficient retirement funds is because the PAP gives Singaporeans no choice but to use what is their retirement money to pay for their HDB flats and hospital expenses.

The SDP plan ensures that HDB flats are sold without the inclusion of land cost (see here) and that the Government stops profiting from healthcare (see here) In this way, our CPF savings are left unmolested for retirement.

Solving the problems around retirement, public housing and healthcare require solving all three issues together.

Yes, yed, I know that in the long term, the SDP’s retirement and healthcare policies will be very expensive for S’poreans but

The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.

Here’s an explanation of what Keynes meant:by Simon Taylor

Keynes wrote this in one of his earlier works, The Tract on Monetary Reform, in 1923. It should be clear that he is not arguing that we should recklessly enjoy the present and let the future go hang. He is exasperated with the view of mainstream economists that the economy is an equilibrium system which will eventually return to a point of balance, so long as the government doesn’t interfere and if we are only willing to wait. He later challenged that view in his most important work The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1935). arguing that the economy can slip into a long term underemployment equilibrium from which only government policy can rescue it.

 

 

 

Great responses to PM’s, minister’s BS

In Footie, Political governance on 17/04/2014 at 5:11 am
I’m sure you read about the lunch PM had with the FT. PM was going thru dad’s Hard Truths as interpreted by a faithful, dutiful son.
Did you notice this?

I fight off an urge to reach across and grab a couple of his raspberries. Under most circumstances, this would be a faux pas but it would be a particularly gross move with a Singaporean …
A regular TRE poster pointed out, Gideon Rachman wrote that he “fight off an urge to reach over and grab a couple of his (LHL’s) raspberries”. Don’t know for sure if he intended it but “raspberry” is British slang for making a fa-rting sound by blowing thru pursed lips. In effect he may be underhandedly saying LHL is talking bull. The joke is on LHL on this one.
Gideon Rachman (Ex-Econonist) is one of FT’s finest, in a team full of brilliant, irrelevant people. The PM’s team must have been mad to let him anywhere near our PM who can barely manage to handle our local running dogs reporters and editors.
I had wanted to bitch blog about minister Wong’s comments about SingTel doing NS so that we could watch World cup footie. Fortunately some subversive at Today published this
Consumers pay the price for aggressive SingNet bidding
From Gary Chua Sheng Yang
Published: April 16, 4:12 AM
It was said in Parliament that the high prices for the 2014 World Cup broadcast here was due to Singapore being a price-taker from FIFA. (“S’pore can’t set lower World Cup prices: Minister”; April 15)

What was not considered, though, was SingNet’s behaviour in acquiring the rights for such content. In trying to acquire subscribers, SingNet has, in the past, bid aggressively for the English Premier League rights, winning at a high cost.

Competition in the cable television market, in its current form, has thus disadvantaged consumers in the past few years in terms of the prices for offerings such as the EPL and the World Cup. The argument that FIFA and the Premier League are price-setters seems flawed. Would they not have accepted lower offers if those had been the only offers on the table?

(http://www.todayonline.com/voices/consumers-pay-price-aggressive-singnet-bidding)

Uodate minutes after publishing: Juz read, The inescapable conclusion: democracy would work much better without elections http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/04/economist-explains-8

BT: Comparing apples to oranges again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

M’sia:          +3.2%

S’pore:          -6.0

Thailand:     -8.5

Indonesia:   -23.0

Got subversives in BT meh?

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

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

Asean round-up returns next yr, god willing.

BT inflation headline talks sucks, really sucks

In Economy, Financial competency, Holidays and Festivals, Media on 24/12/2013 at 6:28 am

I recently blogged that the PAP should approach mrbrown to help PAP MPs in particular Baey and Tharman. Looks like BT needs his help in getting the facts “right”.Let me explain.

I waz planning to take a break from nasty, vicious blogging as it’s the time of peace and gooddwill towards men.

Happily for my inner Grinch , I read this

Core inflation inches higher, forecasts up
Economists point to higher inflation for next year with pressure from wages, business costs, COEs
… Inflation rose to 2.6 per cent year-on-year in November, from 2 per cent the previous month, with private-sector economists forecasting higher inflation for next year. In a statement yesterday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said core inflation – which strips out accommodation and private road transport costs – also picked up pace to 2.1 per cent in November, compared with 1.8 per cent in October.Based on the above, core inflation was up 16.7%. Taz’s “inching” in a month?

Trying to spin gold out of bull dust? Or is shumeone seriously drunk or mathematically challenged? BTW, inflation was up 30% in a month.

Santa, I want for Christmas “Headlines from a Mathematically Literate World”

Our World: Unemployment Rate Jumps from 7.6% to 7.8%
Mathematically Literate World: Unemployment Rate Probably a Little Under 8%; Maybe Rising, or Not, Can’t Really Tell

Our WorldFirm’s Meteoric Rise Explained by Daring Strategy, Bold Leadership
Mathematically Literate WorldFirm’s Meteoric Rise Explained by Good Luck, Selection Bias

Our WorldGas Prices Hit Record High (Unadjusted for Inflation)
Mathematically Literate WorldGas Prices Hit Record High (In a Vacuous, Meaningless Sense)

Read more

http://mathwithbaddrawings.com/2013/12/02/headlines-from-a-mathematically-literate-world/

And if interested on why core inflation was up 16.7% (can’t help think of “ponding”)

A higher headline inflation figure in November – marking the first time since March that inflation has risen beyond the 2 per cent level – was generally expected as it had been flagged by MAS and MTI previously.

The biggest driver was higher accommodation costs, which rose 3.3 per cent year on year from 1.9 per cent in October, when service and conservancy charges rebates to HDB households had kept housing-related costs down.

 

Thailand: Huge ad, gd PR for PAP govt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LKY must be angry LOL

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

(Asean round-up)

Remember LKY saying Johor was full of crime?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Relax leh Brudder S’pore Notes, things going yr way

In Political governance, Public Administration on 06/12/2013 at 6:25 am

Things not as bad as you paint it in “Is Cyber City Burning?”

You raised the MSM smear of Nicile Seah, and Alex Au’s and Breakfast Network’s legal problems as the PAP govt’s desperate, vicious attempt to stifle dissent..

Honestly, the SPH slimes that went wrong on Nicole Seah is an added bonus for her attempt to refresh her celebrity status by going public about her personal life to her thousands of Facebook friends. Well she did her publicity, and the slimes gave her even more publicity. So these slimes made her day. An added bonus for us netizens is that it showed that Alex Tan has changed for the better: his response to Nicole’s post was matured and totful, showing a different Alex Tan: and ’cause of an FT gal? http://therealsingapore.com/content/alex-tan-words-encouragement-nicole-seah

As to Alex Au’s situation, I think he welcomes the AG’s suit. It makes his day too. AG has been consistent in his views and actions.

On waz happening to the retired Imperial Storm  Trooper general (paper, cyber branch), it shows how moronic the govt is. Their reaction to the govt’s action show that netizens and the govt deserve one another: both assume a static, non dynamic world. As I’ve argued before, the internet, social media is like water. Really those ethnic Chinese S’porean cyber warriors have no excuse. They should know their Lao Tzu even if (like me) only in translation.

And lest we forget, or didn’t notice TOC had another narrow escape* for which we and TOC should be grateful for: http://www.sammyboy.com/showthread.php?169215-TOC-apologise-to-Wanbao and http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2013/11/unwilling-to-burden-family-95-year-old-samsui-woman-commits-suicide/

Team Yaacob could have played the DRUMS to the tune of RAVII (Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications, Insinuations & Insults)  but didn’t. The issue is as Holmes would have asked,”Why didn’t the dog bark?”. Well maybe the SPH cock-ups made it difficult to beat-up TOC without having to beat up SPH too. Though there is a distinction: one might have injured a gal’s reputation, the other was an attack against the state. Big difference leh.

So most likely Team Yaacob was asleep. Remember that Yaacob failed to prevent floods unlike that hard-hearted sneere of the elderly poor who has done I must admit a pretty decent job as flood minister, though he has failed as dengue preventer.. But I cut him some slack as the contractors have been busy cutting the grass and shubbery, and filling potential ponding areas in my area. .

Next, Brudder Notes, you and other bloggers are untouched. Still fighting the gd fight, unhindered. 

And you (and others) have won: More and more fret that S’pore is threatened by inequality, and rampant, uncaring capitalism and the govt? They are insecure and fearful. They feel poor.

So as the super long hols are coming (Chritmas, New year and CNY at end Jan) let’s make merry before the price rises hit us in our pocket. As I’ve argued before, first half 2014 is the last window of opportunity to whack us before the next GE that must be held sometime in 2016. Whack us hard in early 2014, and then in 2015 and 2016 Budget give us the goodies. And if the ground is sweet in 2015, hold a GE and promise goodies for 2016.

Relax, Brudder Notes. Getting angry like the Hulk or P Ravi doesn’t do one any good. Look at P Ravi now. He seems less angry nowadays and he looks like a Bollywood star. So long as you (and others) can protest, things are never that bad. As a foot soldier of the UK’s Labour Party who died recently at 104 once said, “We may not win by protesting. But if we don’t protest we will lose.”

With 88% of people here owning smartphones, you protests (and that of others) will be heard, more and more.

*Earlier lucky break: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/toc-more-than-meets-the-eye/. Background: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/smrt-racist-pr-team/

:

Lao Tzu on Yaacob’s regulations

In Political governance on 31/05/2013 at 5:19 am

As Yaacob was the water minister that presided over two fifty-year floods in two months, and now as info minister has juz issued regulations governing new media (which has been likened to water), I tot I’d cheer upset netizens up with this quote from the Tao Te Ching:“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

Relax boys and gals. Don’t need to bawl and scream because yr favourite toy is taken away and broken, or that you kanna played-out by the govt, a govt many of you curse, despise and mistrust.

Be complacent: new media like water will find a way through. Juz be prepared to change, or adapt if your blog has 50,000 unique visitors a month. And if you don’t (like me) have that number, nothing has changed.

Stop raving, ranting and bawling. You only make PAPpies feel shiok.

Have a gd weekend instead.

And before I forget: the Media Development Authority’s comment that the new rules would bring news sites onto “a more consistent regulatory framework with traditional news platforms which are already individually licensed”,  reminded me of the late 19th and early 20th century traffic rules that required a man with a red flag to walk ahead of any “horseless carriage”. Presumably, this was to ensure that the speed of these carriages were “more consistent” with the speeds of horse-drawn carriages.

We know what happened. So, no need to get emotional or irrational. Juz be complacent, “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

“Honest conversation” on FTs: Let’s have it, not juz pretend that we’ve having it, Iswaran

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 05/10/2012 at 6:16 am

S’poreans must have honest conversation about immigration: S Iswaran late last week. But will we be allowed to, minister?

No, I’m not talking abt what Uncle Leong pointed out about the growth in FTs despite all the talk of by the government of it being curtailed. The analysis and comments of Uncle Leong and many others based on the government’s very own data has resulted in this attempt via originally new media (then amplified by the constructive, nation-building media) at damage control.

And let’s ignore what rogue scholar, TJS, has somewhere analysed*: that it’s not true declining population lead to economic ruin. He is after all, as Lawrence Wong, would put it “anti-PAP”. And he could even, at a stretch, be classified as one of Sim Ann’s  demons who  “spew hate and prejudice against individuals or groups”. Remember, he bitched against bungalow owning ministers, when, I’m told, he too has a bungalow.

No: My complaint is why don’t we get told how well Japan is doing?

A country has three choices when its TFR (total fertility rate) drops Get the TFR back up; encourage immigration; and do nothing i.e. let the population age.

Most countries try to increase TFR, some succeed. Japan tried it, failed and as it doesn’t do immigration, it prefers to use robots, it is managing the decline in population.

Japan has shown, a country with a declining population can still do better than other developed countries as figures from HSBC (published earlier this year) show which contradict the doom and gloom that one LKY says abt Japan.

Growth per capita in the 2001-2010 decade

Japan 1.6%

UK 1.2%

Germany 0.8%

US 0.7%

France 0.6%

And looking at the overall GDP numbers, Japan’s record is as good as that of the Germans, who now have created the Fourth Reich in Europe.

US 1.6%

UK 1.5%

France 1.2%

Germany 0.8%

Japan 0.8%

So the Japanese have well, considering their aging and declining population. Perhaps our PM should be listening to them, and trying to take some tips, especially on the use of robots (say to replace Lawrence Wong and Sim Ann who seem to be stuck with some PAP robotic messages that are a throwback to when LKY ruled the roost). And get dad to stop talking rot on Japan.

As to the need of the elderly population needing younger S’poreans to pay taxes to keep the place going, that both PM and Tharman mumble about, ain’t the governing PAP forgetting that it instituted the CPF system precisely to avoid a “Pay as You Go” social security system. (OK, OK, I’m unfair on the PAP on this but two can play the BS game.)

It’s you die, if you got no CPF (Don’t look to VivianB for help. He will only sneer at you for being poor) So by the PAP’s own account, the elderly (like me) don’t need a growing and younger workforce to support.

So Minister, although you are a Hindoo, somehow I think this verse from the bible is applicable to you (and your fellow ministers) when it comes to having an “honest conversation” about FTs:

(Note “mote” means “a particle of wood or chaff” i.e. it’s very, very tiny)

Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

—–

*Sorry no link as I’m not too impressed by his analysis. He left out that his favourite Nordic countries tax its people too much for my taste.

GIC: News not reported by SPH, MediaCorp/ LionsXII

In Footie, GIC, Media, Private Equity on 04/10/2012 at 6:36 pm

GIC recently sold out of its investment in British Airports Authority http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-17/qatar-buys-stake-in-heathrow-owner-baa-for-900-million-pounds.html

According to FT, the sellers recovered their investment and a little more: not a good deal. But these are difficult times.

Still trying to buy some assets, despite being turned down before at same pricehttp://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/20/msrresort-auction-idINL2E8JK6UJ20120820

On totally different issue, relax Young Lions. Playing winning football, not attractive football. Fans will forgive you if you play ugly and get into finals. And remember, other side has more to lose than you.

F1: Sharing the $1bn in value add with the losers?

In Economy, Media, Tourism on 01/10/2012 at 5:46 am

Singaporeans must accept F1 race as necessary event: MTI (The Trade and Industry Ministry says the community must accept the Singapore Formula One race as a necessary event in Singapore. This is because the race has reaped benefits such as enhancing Singapore’s image and bringing in more tourism receipts.)

And

Teo Ser Luck: Singaporeans must accept F1 as a necessary event

So how abt sharing the benefits with the losers?  Especially since F1 will bring S$1b “additional value-add” for economy, says Iswaran. (S’pore expects expenses to drop about 15% to 20%, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The cost of the race is about $150 million, with the government co-funding 6o% of the amount, reminded S. Iswaran, “Singapore’s second trade minister, who’s responsible for developing the tourism industry”. What he didn’t say is that hotels have to pay a special levy of 30% on room rates during F1 period, if they are “track-side” hotels and 20% for the others. )

Compensate the retailers at Suntec City  and those who work in the city? Tax rebates for them? If no such sharing of the benefits, then it’s some private profits, and big state windfall (via taxes and other levies), and public inconvenience and some private losses. Readers might also like to know that it costs at least US$120m to build a dedicated F1 circuit (excluding, it seems, land costs), so by inconveniencing commuters and some retailers, the government is passing on the one-off cost of building a F1 track to some S’poreans annually. Whoever said there isn’t a free lunch? More reason to offer compensation.  

BTW, before the race, our constructive, nation-building media gave the impression that a deal-breaker was S’pore’s demand that it be charged a nominal fee for the race (Monaco pays nothing because until S’pore’s F1, it was the only F1 race on public roads.) Well it seems, S’pore was told to f***off and it got buggered: “Ecclestone refused to confirm the cost of the new contract, although he did hint that negotiators for the Singapore race had failed to extract a Monaco-style race fee exemption. It is thought that they argued for one, pointing out how successful the race has been for sponsors. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/9560875/Singapore-Grand-Prix-secures-its-place-on-F1-circuit-after-organisers-agree-a-new-five-year-contract.html

Mr Iswaran only said there has been “a discount in franchise fees for the new contract”: whatever happened to the deal-breaker? The silence from our media on the issue is deafening.

Seems that Bernie said that the Thais willing to stage a F1 night race in Bangkok if he pulled out of S’pore.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/is-f1-worth-it-updated-with-2011-estimate-of-additional-tourism-revenue/ BTW not seen any details of estimated 2012 revenues despite all the talk of benefits.

Reacting to other bloggers’ tots

In Humour, Media, Political governance on 21/09/2012 at 5:38 am

There are several pieces the last few days that I wanted to respond to. So here are the quotes and  links to the pieces and my reactions to them.

These u/m bloggers have got it absolutely right. S’poreans should empower themselves by PM’s NatCon for our own ends, subverting it. Let’s use NatCon constructively to build civil society in our nation.

My point is that we should stop relying on the government, for them to handhold us all the way; we, as citizens, have the abilities and intelligence to bring something new to the table. Guanyinmao’s Musings

This is not to say that a national conversation is useless. Instead of criticising it, those of us who care should seize the agenda, put the issues we are concerned about on the table by blogging about it, emailing it to the government ministries and make them public on our blogs, speak to MPs (both opposition and ruling party), organise forums, create a movement. Andrew Loh, Publichouse.sg

In the bad old days, these two bloggers would be detained under the ISA for being too clever by half. But heck, PM’s different. So give him credit for not using the ISA, and for being willing to be generous with our money: spending it to make life more comfortable for ourselves. Teachers, and doctors and other healthcare professions should be happy with their pay rises. GE sooner than later?

Propaganda machine dysfunctional? Or is it juz MediaCorp and its CNA? SPH hasn’t goofed yet? One can only hope.

So far, out of the 50 people supposedly from all walks of life who were invited to share their thoughts (except dirty ones) with Our Supreme Leader, it has been discovered that more than a handful have applied for membership with the ruling party. New Nation

National Conversation has rapidly degenerated into ‘Spot the secret PAP member’ contest. Donaldson Tan

Six or seven out of 50 seems a lot, and then there the PA people and family relations. What abt trade unionists? On Wednesday, a picture began circulating on Facebook giving the background of 36 participants. Netizens accused them of being “running dogs” of the PAP.

The above shows how new media makes it difficult for traditional media to be constructive and nation-building.

And while the governing PAP takes seriously the task of using the media to “guide public opinion”, with a friend (or is it a “running dog”?) , in the constructive, nation-building MediaCorp, the PM doesn’t need “cowboy town” bloggers to cast doubts on NatCon. First there was the uninviting blogger Ravi and friends (“because PM had met the bloggers”), then this. What next MediaCorp?

Actually, given that a PAP MP is the MD of the S’pore operation of an int’l PR firm, it’s a bad reflection on that firm’s capabilities that these things can happen. He shouls know better.

But the fact that bloggers focus on the numbers and not on what the PAPpies and friends said, gives the impression that these PAPpies and allies didn’t contribute to the conversation. So why bother abt naming and shaming them, except that it’s a great blood sport, discrediting them and the governing PAP? Now if they had skewed the conversation, then bitch abt their skewing of the conversation, not juz their numbers. Sorry, I no watch television, so no imput there.

It’s private and public LOL!

My avatar commented on Facebook when he read this SDP rant abt Dr Chee being prevented from selling his books at a spot where he was arrested for protesting.: “It’s public space for purpose of  “protesting”. It’s private space in terms of selling stuff. I kid you not: law like that LOL. Dr Chee shld go to spot in Raffles City where JBJ used to sell his books. And see what happens. ))))”. AG confirms this view this correct.

Trying to manufacture a controversy to sell more books in a very worthy cause? Plenty of lawyers associated with SDP, so could have advised it on the law. But then they are “trouble makers” like Teo and Ravi. LOL.

[T]he summary removal of my piece has damaged my reputation suggesting as it does that I would write material that was defamatory and untrue. It goes to the heart of my credibility. KennethJ

He shld stop taking  himself so seriously and stop sliming others, this son of the much-loved JBJ. He is doing himself (and memory of dad) no favours by being so childishly petulant regularly. Take his  response on Alex Tan, vis-a-vis Mrs Chiam’s classy, high EQ response. She didn’t have a First Class in econs from Cambridge (she’s only a British-trained nurse), but she sure knows how to handle a tricky situation, unlike him.

Funny thing is that despite being so full of himself, he made a fool of self when he publicly got the words of the Pledge wrong at a public rally last yr. And in an ang moh accent too. Govt scholars (including Tony and Hazel) went to posh British unis. They don’t speak in ang moh accent. But he wants to show that he is different? The excuse that he worked many yrs in London, cuts no ice with me. Know someone who went to a really posh (and intellectually demanding) English public school, and then went to work in the City when it was a racist place before finally returning home. Speaks English like LKY.

And talking of LKY, I come back to the tot of throwing people into jail.

It would be the sadness of all the world if Mr Lee were to shy away from doing the one thing which would leave a lasting legacy for all of us, before he eventually passes on. And this one thing is to offer an apology to those whose lives were torn apart by his actions. Andrew Loh, Publichouse.sg

If you read the piece, the examples of “wrongs” that need to be apologised for are things that LKY tot he was right to do. And which many S’poreans at the time gave him the benefit of the doubt for doing (me for instance), if they didn’t outright support him. It is only with hindsight that these decisions seem to many, especially younger S’poreans, to be wrong.

Take the 1987 Marxists’ arrests: liberation theology worried even the Roman Catholic church. The insurgencies in Latin and Central America, partly inspired by liberation theology worried the US government who feared that the USSR was using the insurgencies to attack the USA in a vulnerable area. And if you have heard as I have, a Filipino priest, expound on the need for the church to fight social injustice, one can be reasonably afraid of the do-gooders: that they will be taken advantage of by the USSR and friends.

We now know who won the Cold war. But in 1987, the USSR was the evil empire. And LKY was planning to pass on power.

S’pore’s paralympian & our “fact free” media & social media

In Media on 11/09/2012 at 6:40 pm

“You all know how free the Filipino media is; they can even be very free with the facts,” was a statement made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Having worked and lived in Manila, I can understand the sentiments behind the statement. The Filipino media does “invent” facts to fit the points they are trying to make. The media are free (and journalists have been murdered because someone powerful is upset) there, but hardly fair.

But having found out that Laurentia Tan, the paralympian, is based in England because of the facilities there, I can only shake my head in sadness and annoyance that our constructive, nation-building media, Yahoo! and all but one of the bloggers who raved on her performance and what it means to be a S’porean, failed to mention that fact.

She retains her S’porean nationality but otherwise she like the Chinese ping-pong gal Olympians moved on to better herself.

I’m not criticising her or her parents. They did what had to be done for her to get a better quality of life. But I’m criticising our “fact free” media and social media. The former for not telling us that she had lived in England for many yrs, and the latter (with one honourable exception) for talking rubbish, assuming that she was based in S’pore.

As Cherian Georger has written (no link*), bloggers here are dependent on the constructive, nation-building media for the facts. They rave and rant based on what the constructive, nation-building media.

———————–

*I disagree that our MSM journalists and editors are professional. As I’ve often pointed out, they have problems reporting financial and economic news that could be politically sensitive. They obviously don’t believe Goh Chok Tong. When he was PM, he talked at a MediaCorp dinner of a servile media doing the government no favours . Shortly afterwords, an inconvenient editor was removed.

Not reported: banking jobs being relocated out of S’pore systematically

In Economy, Media on 04/09/2012 at 7:10 am

Credit Suisse is relocating dozens of back-office jobs from Singapore to India and Poland as part of efforts to cut costs, the FT reported on Monday. It also reported that Morgan Stanley last month completed shifting about 80 back-office jobs to India and Hungary, from Singapore.

And that other banks were planning to move back office jobs to “cheaper” countries.

Our constructive, nation-building media were very quick to report a survey that UK investment bankers wanted to come here, but while Today and BT (online) reported bits of above, ST never did. And BT (the paper) does not seem to have reported it.

AND they all don’t publish the bit about Morgan Stanley and the other banks. Remember you read it here.

Err Lee what did you say abt food inflation?

In Economy, Media, Political governance on 03/09/2012 at 5:13 am

Last month when asked about the current drought in the United States Midwest which is affecting corn and soybean crops, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development and chairman of Retail Prices Working Group said it is not likely to have an impact here in the near term.

This is because Singapore imports a negligible amount corn, and only seven per cent of its soy beans from the US.

But a sustained price hike for the grains, which are used for animal feed, he said, may raise commodity prices in the long term. (More)

Funny then that on 30 August BBC Online reported

Global food prices have leapt by 10% in the month of July, raising fears of soaring prices …

The bank said that a US heatwave and drought in parts of Eastern Europe were partly to blame for the rising costs.

The price of key grains such as corn, wheat and soybean saw the most dramatic increases, described by the World Bank president as “historic”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19431890

So the issue is not even that only in the long term food prices here will rise, but how soon. That it will rise in “the near term”, despite his denial, is a probability. Even before the spoke juz before National Day, prices had alread risen. I mean as a MTI minister, surely he would have access to that information, unless his officials hid data from him to make him look stupid?

Discounting that possibility or the possibility that MTI does not have access to near-live data (highly unlikely),  either this jnr minister doesn’t know economics (maybe taz why he did not get promoted to minister?*) or he was juz mindlessly spinning knowing that the constructive, nation-building media would not challenge him, and that people would believe him.

Methinks one test of whether the government is sincere about having a national conversation is for ministers to stop assuming that the people are simple-minded to believe whatever ministers say. Those days are over. S’poreans have the internet and social media to keep tabs on waz happening in the rest of the world and in S’pore. The days when the constructive, nation-building local media filtered everything are over.

——

*Unlikely given Tharman’s and Hng Kiang’s grasp of basic economic theory 

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

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/tharman-has-a-point/

Don’t denigrate LionsXII draw, ST

In Footie, Media on 29/08/2012 at 7:20 am

I am annoyed with ST’s comments on the team’s performance against Johor FA. Team did what they had to do.

As a famous Arsenal manager once said,”Strikers win games, defenders win trophies”. Look at today’s Arsenal. Stylish play but where’s the trophies?

Kindergartens & the ruling PAP

In Media, Political economy, Political governance on 27/08/2012 at 5:31 am

So the PM in yesterday’s speech promised that the government will play a more active role in pre-school education to help S’poreans “level up”*. Actually it already has a very active role**.

Ever since the Lien Foundation came out with its report earlier this yr which in its media released stated, “Singapore’s preschool education placed 29th amongst 45 countries on the Starting Well Index” and reported that  South Korea (10th) and Hong Kong (19th) were ahead of us,there has been the usual hot air from the government, the constructive, nation-building media, and S’poreans, largely off-line via the media***.

One issue that all three groups skated around are the two elephants in the ice-rink: the PAP Community Foundation (PCF)  which is the dominant provider of kindergartens in S’pore, and its smaller cousin NTUC; and the ring-master (the governing PAP). Remember that the NTUC and PCF are “teeth” to the lips of the governing PAP.

It’s not surprising that the government and its minion, the media, avoided talking abt the role of the PCF and NTUC (until last night) and the government in the failure of kindergarten education here (PM skated over why the system needed fixing). So let me lay it out thickly.

The report says that where S’pore falls short is on quality issues: “Most of Singapore’s weaknesses showed up in the area of‘quality’, which includes factors like ‘student-­‐teacher ratio’,‘average preschool teacher wages’, ‘preschool teacher training’and ‘linkages between preschool and primary school’. All top ten countries on the Index have ratios ranging from one teacher to five to 11 children, compared to Singapore’s 1:20 ratio.”

It’s a question of funding.

While the NTUC and PCF cannot be blamed for the lack of funding because they are, unlike private kindergartens serving the moneyed, trying to serve the masses, not the children of elite, middle class bloggers: they can be blamed for not lobbying the government for more money to rectify ‘student‐teacher ratio’,‘average preschool teacher wages’, and ‘preschool teacher training’.

So until the government increases its funding (which the PM now has), the children of S’pore’s masses will continue suffering from low quality kindergarten education.

———

*He said: “First of all, we’ll establish a new statutory board to oversee pre-school education. Secondly, we’ll provide and upgrade pre-school teacher training to raise standards. Thirdly, we’ll bring in new anchor operators, in addition to PCF and NTUC.

“And fourthly, we’ll upgrade the anchor operators — the existing ones as well as the new ones — so that they can improve the careers they can offer the teachers.

“They can offer structured development opportunities for the staff, they can introduce creative learning methods for the students but to raise the base — the quality of the mass market.” CNA

**I read with amazement last week the spate of articles in, and letters to our constructive, nation-building media on whether kindergarten education should be “nationalised”.

***Not surprised netizens have been quiet. They don’t breed. Or if they do, they send their kids to gd, expensive kindergartens. They are middle class elitists.

Not reported here: another “little speck” wins 7 Olympic gold medals

In Media on 23/08/2012 at 5:16 am
5.3m people: 7 gold, 2 silver & 3 bronze medals. Puts “our” one bronze medal for 5.2m people in perspective doesn’t it? 
 
The place is Yorkshire, England, which is celebrating after its athletes won a total of 12 Olympic medals, which would see Yorkshire placed 12th  or 13th (Khazakstan had 13 medals but it had only one silver medal) in the medal table if it was an independent country*. Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/breaking-news/offbeat/yorkshire-athletes-score-12-medals-16196784.html#ixzz23OqwtPAU
 
(BTW, Yorkshire County Cricket Club, a cricketing power in English county cricket  “put themselves at a disadvantage from 1968 until 1992 by insisting that all its players must have been born within the historic county boundaries of Yorkshire while all the other county teams strengthened themselves by signing overseas Test players. In 1992, the birth qualification rule was first modified to include those educated within the county, a dispensation that allowed Michael Vaughan to play; and was then abandoned altogether. Yorkshire’s first overseas player that season was 19-year old Sachin Tendulkar.” Wikipedia entryn on Yorkshire County Cricket Club)
 
We got one bronze, courtesy of three PRC she gladiators. What price glory? 
 
And this shows countries that underperform or overperform at the Olympics. Although S’pore is not mentioned, HK is. It undeperperforms winning only one bronze, when it should have won seven medals. Our PRC gladiator team with two bronzes would put us above it, but still an underperformer.
 
———————-
 
**Australia and Japan were 10th and 11th with seven gold medals too.

Hong Leong Finance sues Morgan Stanley for deception, selling investments designed to fail

In Financial competency, Media on 17/08/2012 at 8:52 am

(I’m reporting this as our constructive, nation-building media only reported this story very briefly when it became public last week. Wonder why?)

“Morgan Stanley secretly, deceptively and wrongfully invested the investors’ principal in very risky underlying assets,” according to the complaint.

The investments were described to Heong Leong as synthetic collateralized debt obligations based on the performance of major corporations and sovereign nations with high credit ratings, according to the complaint.

Morgan Stanley instead tied the notes to much riskier investments in real estate-related companies and troubled Icelandic banks, including Glitnir Bank HF and Kaupthing Bank HF.

Morgan Stanley issued the notes through a special-purpose entity it controlled called Pinnacle. Italso positioned to profit when the notes failed because it had entered into swap transactions with the noteholders through another affiliated entity, Morgan Stanley Capital Services Inc.

“When Morgan Stanley’s ’rigged’ underlying assets failed, money from customers was transferred to MS Capital,” Hong Leong said in the complaint.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-06/morgan-stanley-sued-by-singapore-firm-over-pinnacle-notes.html

Scholar, ex-SAF chief & Temasek MD fails to turnaround NOL

In Media, Shipping on 14/08/2012 at 7:00 am

Last week, NOL posted a larger than anticipated bigger net loss (by 76%) for the second quarter compared to a year earlier, dragged down by one-off expenses linked to impairment losses and restructuring charges, it said.

Net loss for the three months ended June 29, 2012, stood at US$118 million, which widened from a net loss of US$57 million for the same period a year ago. This result – which marks the sixth straight quarter of losses – missed market expectations of a net loss of US$67.6 million, a Bloomberg poll of six analysts showed: by 76%. Loss per share for the second quarter stood at 4.57 US cents, against a loss per share of 2.21 US cents.

Excluding these charges, NOL would have registered a turnaround for its core earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) over the year on higher freight rates and cost savings, NOL claims. It said that market conditions remain uncertain.

Funnily our constructive, nation-building media didn’t remind us of its CEO’s credentials for becoming CEO: great experience except in shipping, a specialist industry. He ain’t even a navy man.

When, Maesk’s container division reports its latest results, I’ll compare its performance (boss is a true blue shipping man) to scholar’s performance at NOL. Last time, he did badly http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/with-ex-general-scholar-at-helm-nol-still-underperforms-maersk/.

Wonder how the soldier boy going to be SMRT’s CEO will perform? As a ex-SAF chief, the trains should run on time, and safely: unlike when a retailer ran it. Also train depots would be secured against vandals and terrorists.  But can he improve its financial numbers, something the NOL CEO (another ex-general) failed to do at NOL.

Update on 16 August at 1.06pm: How the constructive, nation-building BT on 14 August reports CEO’s achievement of making US$7m on its core earnings. Sounds a story from a celebrity magazine or from the North Korean media on its new leader.

Inflation: Why the misleading picture, minister & media?

In Economy, Media, Political governance on 13/08/2012 at 5:12 am

(Or “Think short-term, not long-term says minister Lee or “MTI minister does not know econs?” or “Govt’s spin machine is stuck in the stone age”)

The Retail Price Watch Group (RPWG) last week emphasised that the slower pace of food inflation impacted positively on household expenditure as food expenses take up a considerable portion of each household’s monthly budget. This slower pace of food inflation is good for S’poreans is the message that the constructive, nation-building media is spreading, not challenging. Example of how inflation is reported . At the end of this piece are two links on the numbers on inflation, and what they mean.

Earlier this year, when inflation was hitting new highs, in addition to the sick jokes by Tharman and Hng Kiang on “no worries” if “you don’t rent private housing, or want or need to buy a car”*, S’poreans were told to look forward, not back. Inflation would “moderate”. It hasn’t has it? The rate of growth has slowed a tinny winny bit, taz it.

Now the message seems to be look back, not forward. If you wonder why, read this, “Another food crisis looms”: grain and meat prices are rising fast (not rice though but note “Rising wheat prices and a failure of America’s soya harvest might scare nervy Asian countries into a rice-export ban just as during the food crisis of 2007-08.”).

And there is this: Global food prices sharply rebounded in July due to wild swings in weather conditions, a UN food and agricultural body has said.

The rise has fanned fresh fears of a repeat of the 2007-2008 food crisis which hurt the world’s poorest. BBC report

But when asked about the current drought in the United States Midwest which is affecting corn and soybean crops, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development and chairman of RPWG said it is not likely to have an impact here in the near term.

This is because Singapore imports a negligible amount corn, and only seven per cent of its soy beans from the US.

But a sustained price hike for the grains, which are used for animal feed, he said, may raise commodity prices in the long term.

So said minister is downplaying the effect of drought in the US on food prices. And our media is not questioning him. And they all are wrong to downplay the rise in retail prices.

There are floods in Brazil, the other large exporter of soya. So it isn’t juz the US. 

There is no getting around the fact that two of the staples of the world food industry are about to become scarce commodities.

That means they will also become more expensive. Soya beans and corn make oil, animal feed, and ethanol (to be added to petrol), and are used in snacks, fast food, even soft drinks. America’s drought is going hit us all.

FT gave a concrete example: Based on the numbers of a big US producer of chickens, Sandersons, a US$2 increase in corn, like the one that just took place, adds about US7 cents to the cost per pound of chicken meat. And as the margins are tiny, so prices of chicken have to rise unless there is a serious recession.]

Then there is the issue of time frame. The USDA expects further rises in prices, and it is predicting that global corn trade will be sharply lower this month “in response to tighter US supplies and higher prices” reports the BBC. So minister, if “this month” is “long term”, what is “short-term”? Ten minutes? 

But this downplaying of inflation and the misuse of the term “long term” is not all.

But a sustained price hike for the grains, which are used for animal feed, he said, may raise commodity prices in the long term.

So after always being tot to think long-term, and with the government always praising itself that it takes the long-term, strategic view, and taz why we should always vote for the PAP, we are now told to think short-term? 

Whatever happened to thinking and planning long-term? Retired juz like one LKY?

And why is the media not pointing out and commenting the change in govmin thinking? Are they waiting for approval?

Could minister and media been trying hard to avoid spoiling the national mood ahead of 9th August?

Or waz it all, “An honest mistake?” Or is this Lee trying to ape Tharman and Hng Kiang as a standup comic?

Or, as is most likely, could the government PR and corporate communications machine still be in the pre-internet age when real-time information was expensive and limited to traders in financial institutions? Then media releases, and ministerial statements and Q&As could be crafted days or weeks ahead of time, with each officer in the pyramid making changes until the final draft reached the minister. Now when communicating to any audience, ministers and their minions must be aware that real-time info is available at a touch of the screen.

(Links on inflation

Inflation has accelerated, fueled by rising housing and private transportation costs … The monetary authority last month estimated consumer-price gains will average 4 percent to 4.5 percent this year, compared with the 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent range it forecast previously.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-10/singapore-economy-contracts-as-pressure-gains-for-policy-easing.html

DBS says S’pore facing stagflation with one of highest inflation rates in region.

http://sbr.com.sg/economy/news/singapore-struggle-one-highest-inflation-rates-in-southeast-asia)

—————-

*OK, OK I exaggerate but only a little.

Kee Chui misreps our views on FT gladiators

In Media, Political governance on 09/08/2012 at 5:15 am

(Or “We don’t like cheating or cheaters”)

But first things first. It’s National Day and let’s celebrate it even if the PAPpies insist on trying to confuse us that the PAP is S’pore and S’pore is the PAP. Reclaim the Crescent and Stars. We can be proud to be S’poreans without subscribing to the Gospel of Harry.

Now back to Kee Chui and his misrepresentations

“Let’s not just look at where people come from. It’s not just where people come from that we should be concerned with, it’s also what they’ve done for the country,” said Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Chan Chun Sing, commenting on public criticisms at the “buying” of Olympic medals by the use of foreign-born sportsmen.

S’poreans who criticise the use of FT gladiators to win medals are doing so largely because they do not believe that national sporting glory should be bought by using “instant citizens”, the way the Parks Division plants “instant” trees.  

We would view things differently if our talent scouts brought in kids from overseas, and these kids are nurtured into champions here, and then later overseas. Our wimmin ping-pong team became S’poreans when they were already mother hens, not chicks. And it is rumoured that even their toilet cleaner had to be imported from China (OK, OK, I made that one up).

The critics of this FT gladiator policy are not uniquely S’porean.

A lady who writes regularly on British affairs and who is an advocate of a more liberal immigration policy, a controversial issue there too, writes: To come in late in the day with imported talent and claim they are British success stories isn’t about being open to migrants. It’s just cheating. Nobody watching will be fooled. If they get medals, we’ll feel a little embarrassed. Whether it’s swimming or anything else, let’s have a sporting culture strong enough for us to know, when we win, that it’s a real, homegrown achievement, not a fiddle. Otherwise, frankly, I’d rather we lost.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jan/28/Olympics2012.olympics2012

Taz my view, and I know the view of many of my fellow citizens. We have nothing against these FT gladiators who fight for S’pore, and I’m sure many of those who don’t think much of the FT gladiators policy, honour these women as Olympians. My only exception is that lady who attacked the German table tennis federation after she lost her match. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/ft-she-gladiator-shames-us-msm-stta-shamefully-silent/

Want us to agree with the government on the use of FT gladiators? Switch  from the emphasis on national pride and glory to the monetary benefits of sponsoring these gladiators. Show us the cost benefit analysis http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/show-the-cost-benefit-analysis-of-sponsoring-ft-olympians/.

If the numbers stack up, I’m sure I and my others would have no problem with S’pore sponsoring them: bit like Nike sponsoring athletes.

Finally on an unrelated topic, did you know that a M’sian Chinese air condition repairman can be a PR? ST revealed this yesterday. Add him to slutty looking, violent cheating shop assistants, and hawkers who became PRs from PRC.

RaviGate: What we need to know

In Uncategorized on 23/07/2012 at 6:19 am

(Or “LawSocGate: Some light pls)

Lawyer Ravi (as brave, if not braver than lion-hearted JBJ) is planning to take legal action against the Law Soc and Wong Siew Hong, its employee.

And that he is making a complaint to the medical authorities (albeit the wrong one based on his publicist’s report: he should be reporting Dr Fones to the Singapore Medical Council – not Association. The SMA is the doctors’ trade union — with teeth unlike NTUC unions — while SMC is the regulatory body) abt his doctor’s conduct.

I hope he follows through with his plan.*

This is because I think it is important for S’poreans to know:

– Was it true as reported in ST (sister publication of STOMP) that he was involved in an incident at a temple (the police came but did not arrest anyone) the day after he saw Dr Fones and the day before the doctor’s letter was written and leaked?And if so, did this incident this influence the actions of Dr Fones and Wong Siew Hong? And how did they get to know about the incident since it wasn’t reported at the time?

– The circumstances in which Ravi give KennethJ (the son of said JBJ, and a failed politician and attention-seeker) authority to release the letter?*

– Why did said KJ release the letter without giving any it any context? Intentionally saboing his lawyer and ally, or sheer incompetence, or tidak apa, or was that what Ravi wanted initially?*

– Why did Law Society withdraw its initial comment “that LSS had initiated the intervention in the court proceedings.” I am told that there was a row among Law Soc council members on the initial comment and a request to approve Wong’s actions. Depending on who is telling me, a big minority, or narrow majority, or just some Law Soc council members who were willing to publicly resign and talk about why they resigned forced the Law Soc to withdraw its first statement because they refused to rectify the action of Law Soc staffer.

– Did Wong act on his own initiative, or was he asked to do so by someone higher up in the Law Soc?

Related posting: My view on Ravi’s legal skills http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/waz-petition-ladys-game/

*He already has backtracked a little. After announcing plans to issue a writ against the Law Soc and its employee, he has sent a letter of demand to the Law Soc.

**Ravi wanted his side of the story told because he was afraid that he would be silenced quietly. Unfortunately, KJ, his client and ally, for some strange reason, released the letter, without giving the context of said letter. This made it terrible for Ravi. So Andrew Loh and Richard Wan intervened, with a video of Ravi explaining what had happened etc.

Richard Wan: What actually happened is this. Ravi got the letter after the morning session of the High Court hearing on the by-election case (16th). The details I think is pretty much described in the various media. KJ was there at the hearing. Ravi passed the letter to KJ to put it up online so as to inform the public what has happened. However, KJ did not write up to describe more details what had happened – he simply just put up the letter (ie, no head no tail). Of course, his twitter posting went viral. A TRE reader then alerted me …

… Yes, as explained, putting up the letter alone by itself without any other description or write-up was confusing. Which is why it was taken down since Andrew and myself were going to come up with the full article to explain things from Ravi’s side.

Richard Wan, TRE’s public face, somewhere in the thread here.

Waz that again Law Soc?

In Corporate governance on 20/07/2012 at 4:58 am

Or “Law Soc in denial?” or “More patients for you Dr Fonz?”

The Law Society seems to want to be like the PM and his DPMs: trying to be comedians. And no, I don’t mean to talk about its officer,Wong Siew Hong, turning up in court without his jacket (bit like appearing at a wedding in one’s underwear), but this: “LSS asks that commentators check their facts, preferably with LSS, before making their comments.” Ain’t the Law Soc forgetting something?

Forgot that it retracted earlier statements? Statement that many netizens used when commenting on the Law Soc’s actions. The boys and gals at TRE did a good article on this retraction.

But even funnier is: “LSS believes that it is important that the public has confidence in LSS as an independent professional body which has always balanced the interests of the public and individual lawyers.” Come on, pull the other leg, its got bells on it. Ever since the changes initiated by the government in the 1980s, many members of the public and even many lawyers regard the Law Soc as part of the Dark Side: to publicly deny this perception amounts to a form of insanity: denial of a perception.

No, I’m not going to make fun of, “Any suggestion of a conspiracy involving the LSS is untrue and irresponsible” because I’m waiting to see if Ravi denies a report in ST that he was involved in an incident at a temple on Sunday the 15th of July. I mean it’s ST, part of the constructive, nation-building media, and more importantly, the sister publication of STOMP where a “content producer” fabricated a story, and where “content producers” posed as citizen journalists and members of the public.

If it could happen at STOMP, it could happen at ST where during the Hougang by-election, pixs were used very judiciously. One got the impression that Ah Huat was Low’s proxy, while Desmond Choo was “his own man”. And again in that by-election, there was no mention that Desmond’s “model” (his uncle, an ex-PAP MP) is a convicted cheat, facing fresh charges. If it had been Ah Huat’s uncle, I’m sure we would’ve been reminded of the relationship with a criminal.

If Ravi doesn’t deny the story, then I’ll blog on why Wong Siew Hong and Dr Fones should be commended for being good civic-minded S’poreans, even if they did not do things the proper way, and why the Law Soc Council does not deserve any respect. But taz another day.

Serious money

In Banks on 17/07/2012 at 9:52 am

Will never hear of this in our MSM, only why the Swiss bankers are rushing to Asia (and S’pore).

Geneva, which became a refuge in the 1960s for Egyptian cotton merchants fleeing President Gamal Abdel Nasser, developed as a Middle East banking center after King Fahd constructed a palace in the lakeside suburb of Collonge-Bellerive, where he held councils on summer evenings

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-10/geneva-bankers-tap-old-ties-to-find-new-riches-amid-arab-spring.html

Middle East has an estimated US$4.5 trillion of private wealth.

Too bad abt the investment banks though  http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/05/24/in-the-persian-gulf-struggling-to-adapt-as-deals-dry-up/?src=dlbksb

Temasek’s cautious in India while PM’s bullish

In India, Temasek on 16/07/2012 at 9:46 am

So “Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore is prepared to share its experience in building industrial parks with India … Mr Lee believes there is potential for building such parks in India, following Singapore’s experience with such parks in countries like Indonesia and Vietnam … Singapore has been talking to several states in India about such projects … acknowledged that it would take some time, as land has to be acquired and approval has to be obtained. Support from the state government is also needed … if these hurdles can be cleared, Singapore will be able to build the parks faster and contribute to India in a strategic direction [such parks can help to boost the manufacturing sector in India which he says India needs. India also needs a substantial amount of manufacturing investments he claims] … the Indian economy is at a stage where it needs a considerable amount of investments, especially in infrastructure. Singapore companies have capabilities to handle some of these projects.”

But despite his bullishness (see here for the CNA report), Rohit Sipahimalani, co-chief investment officer of Temasek, told The Economic Times: “There’s a lot of uncertainty, but times like these also create opportunities. We will take advantage of the uncertainty, but will remain cautious.”

Can’t blame Temasek, given things like this in India  http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/18/india-buyout-idUSL4E8G318Y20120518

New media calling MSM black

In Humour, Political governance, Uncategorized on 08/07/2012 at 6:33 am

(Or “Let’s give one cheer to Dr Ng”)

Us netizens are forever bitching (rightly too) that the constructive, nation-building media report news selectively, and that comment and analysis are pretty slanted. Everything has to be viewed via the lenses of boot-licking,  constructivism and nation-building.

Earlier this week, there was a lot of comment (no analysis)

 in the cowboy towns of the internet about the fact that abt one-third of the eligible PRs for NS, don’t do it. “Over the last five years, about a third of male foreigners who became PRs under the sponsorship of their parents renounced their PR status prior to serving NS.”

Funny that there was no mention (except by TRE) or comment on what the Minister of Defence advised PR FT parents in the interview he gave in which those numbers were given.

Dr Ng said, “Better don’t take up the PR if your children are not going to do NS. It’s as simple as that. In our system if you don’t fulfil your NS liabilities, even if you choose to give up your PR, there are harsh penalties.”

“I have received many letters from families that are separated and they cannot come back to Singapore,” he added.

I think that he is telling FTs who want it all, that they can’t have it all. They got to choose. Shouldn’t he get at least one cheer for this?

As Kong and Sun might hector their detractors: “Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

Yup, I like quoting from the King James version of the Gospels. And I like quoting from the Gospels, but not the letters of Paul, except the one abt “Faith, Hope and Charity”. Charity means “Love” but not of the sexual kind.

What the MSM doesn’t tell you abt Shenzhen

In China on 07/07/2012 at 6:10 am

The number of listed companies has almost trebled from about 500 before the SME board started eight years ago, and the market value of listed companies soared to US$1.2 trillion at end-May … double the size of Singapore’s exchange.

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/01/china-shenzhen-ipos-idINL3E8HF38F20120701

And no FTs in mgt!

FYI, NYSE is at US$12.5 trillion.

Not in our MSM: Sands & Wynn in Macau

In Casinos on 06/07/2012 at 6:14 am

A former executive at the Las Vegas Sands … Steve Jacobs, has filed a wrongful termination suit in which he accuse the company of “controlling and directing” prostitution at its Macau casinos. This story appears in FT but as it is behind a pay wall read here http://presstv.com/usdetail/248751.html.

So are the glamerous looking babes at Marina Sands not clients of Sands IR, but looking for clients?

And that Wynn Resorts donated US$135 million to a university in Macau. Sands and Genting not so generous here. Why?

New MICA appt double confirms existence of another STOMP

In Political governance on 02/07/2012 at 5:51 am

So, Mr Janadas Devan, 58, will join the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) as Chief of Government Communications starting from July 1, 2012.

He will be in charge of coordinating the Government’s public communication efforts and leading the ministry in enhancing its public communication network across the public sector.

On whether it is appropriate that Devan should be  Chief of Government Communications while remaining Director of the Institute of Policy Studies, an issue raised by a prominent netizen, methinks the govt should be given two cheers for being very honest abt the role of IPS.

Makes it very, very  clear that the IPS is reflecting in its analytical work the views of the PAP government: “No ambiguity here about non-partisanship, alternative perspectives” said a prominent activist on Facebook.

S’poreans have no need to be “second-guessing intentions behind IPS’s efforts to engage minds and exchange ideas”. Double confirm that IPS is another nation-building, constructive newsletter organisation, juz like ST where Devan was a senior editor before his latest appointment.  Juz like STOMP has content providers, IPS has researchers.

(Related post on IPS: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/waz-this-institute-of-policy-studies/)

So we should thank the govt for being honest abt IPS.

And while at it, give yet another two cheers for yet more govt honesty: by taking someone so senior from ST’s editorial team, the government is showing that ST’s editorial stance will remain the same, despite the absence of Devan. He is juz a cog in the machine, nothing more: juz like dad was a wheel in the PAP, NTUC and then the presidency, replacable when worn-out.

As to what he should do first, maybe he should offer to teach ambassadors to be savvy when talking to the media, so as not to have be corrected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs . Let me explain.

When in mid-June, a M’sian website (which has a deserved reputation for false reporting, on par with netizens’ perceptions of STOMP here) alleged that S’porean diplomats took part in an illegal demonstration in April, the reported public comments of the S’pore ambassador (the previous director of IPS), surprised the diplomatic corps, analysts, observers, the govt and his staff.

According to a M’sian newspaper report, Three Singapore High Commission officials who attended the Bersih 3.0 rally did not go there to support the protesters, High Commissioner Ong Keng Yong said.

He explained that the three his deputy Ariel Tan and first secretaries (political) Regina Low and Philomena Aw went in their personal capacities and were not on any official assignment.

This was a most surprising response as there is nothing wrong in diplomats observing protests as part of their duties.

On 22 June, CNA reported on its website that Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (MFA) had said on 22 June that allegations about its officers interfering in Malaysia’s politics were “baseless”.

The MFA said its officers were at the Bersih 3.0 rally as impartial observers.

It added that as part of their normal professional diplomatic duties, officers were expected to be updated on the host country’s developments and to understand sentiments on the ground.

(Other publications and channels of our constructive, nation-building media had similar reports.

Now taz the response that the ambassador should have given publicly in the first place.Taz what he should have said to the Malaysian newspaper.

No damage was done because  “Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said Singapore and Malaysia had agreed that the respective ministries handle the matter pertaining to the illegal rally held on April 28″ but it does not look good for S’pore’s image: an ambassador’s reported comments to a newspaper being contradicted by a public statement of the MFA.

Worse, what was he trying to hide or disown? If it was an “honest mistake” on his part, what does it say about his public communication skills.

Yahoo! trying to outdo STOMP?

In Humour, Uncategorized on 28/06/2012 at 6:55 am

When I read, “gyrating around household appliances wearing only revealing kimono-styled lingerie”,  in Yahoo!’s article on the singing wife of Kong the Pastor,  I had to click the video embedded in article.

What a waste of time: the geriatric auntie (OK nice jaw line, and vv skinny and pale) was NOT wearing revealing lingerie.

I live in a respectable neighbourhood and some local gals go running dressed in sports bras and shorts in this heat. One even walked her Huskie dressed in sports bra and shorts. (A seriously surrealistic scene what with said dog panting away in his fur coat, while madam is appropriately dressed for the weather.)

Back to the gals: can’t call their outfits “revealing”. Mrs Pastor by any standard (except that of Jihadists, Taliban or mad Indon Mullahs) is decently dressed, nothing revealing about her underwear.

Yahoo!’s editors should fact-check the work of their content providers.

ST misreps yet again

In Footie, Media on 24/06/2012 at 6:18 am

(Or “Four unexplained mystries in WofflesGate”) 

So Germany beat Greece, and are into the Euro semis, which reminded me that even footie facts are misrepresented by the nation-building, constructive ST to promote government’s FT is “betterest” policy (See below. To be fair, ST published the rebuttal. Balls-up or subversion? Or someone with a conscience?). Is nothing sacred? What next? Footie scores get misreported? More likely is that goals scored and saves made attributed to players that fit ST’s agenda of nation-building, constructivism.

I am exaggerating? Look at an ST report of WofflesGate: [in relation to the incident in September 2005,] . . . Wu got Mr Kuan, then 76, to tell police that he was the driver of a car speeding at 95kmh on Lornie Road. Mr Kuan is said to have lied again about a speeding offence committed at 9.45am on Nov 10, 2006. The car was then travelling at 91kmh on Adam Road.

The speed limit in both instances was 70kmh and involved Wu’s car. Court papers did not state who the actual driver was.

The court heard that a notice was sent to Wu to reveal the identity of the driver. Concerned that he would accumulate demerit points were he to accept liability for the speeding offences, he roped in Mr Kuan, then a maintenance technician in his clinic. Now 83 years old, Mr Kuan was also described as a close family friend of the doctor. He has not been charged.

The report makes it clear implicitly that Woolly Wally was the driver by stating that hr was concerned about getting demeit points.  Yet we now know that both the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Law minister said that investigations were ongoing, as to who the driver actually was; and that the case has not been concluded.

Funnily, ST has not retracted its story. Nor have the authorities asked for a retraction. These are four  mysteries that need to be explained to convince S’poreans that the rich are not different.

———

Read the u/m in ST Forum about two weeks ago.

Go for local football talent

CONTRARY to what the report (‘Talent mining in the sports world'; May 25) implies, Germany does not have an official programme recruiting foreign-born footballers.

Circumstances that led to Polish-born strikers Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski representing Germany differ completely from the mechanics of Singapore’s Foreign Sports Talent scheme.

Klose moved to Germany at age seven, while Podolski did so at two. Both are therefore home-grown German players.

The only non-native player recruited by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) who can be considered home-grown is Daniel Bennett, who came here as a toddler.

Many Singaporeans rightfully question the ‘Singaporean-ness’ of foreign sports talent, something that even Bennett himself is concerned about.

He was quoted two years ago in the Singapore Armed Forces Football Club official website as saying: ‘I am more Singaporean than many of the other foreign players who took (up) citizenship more recently, as I grew up here and it’s my home.’

Apparently concerned by the excessive use of imported players contravening the spirit of the game, football’s world governing body Fifa tried to introduce regulations in 2008 to restrict such usage.

Unfortunately, the FAS remains stubbornly persistent with its push to recruit more foreigners. It claims foreign sports talent plug the gaps in its youth development programme (‘Change of heart by NSAs'; May 28).

Our national football administrators should find answers to why, after almost two decades of S-League football where would-be Lions play with and against foreign players weekly, and years of employing foreign technical directors, the FAS is still struggling to develop quality international-level talent.

It is impossible to prove, but perhaps native and home-grown players strive harder for their country.

Michael Ang

SIA: What our MSM will never tell you

In Airlines, Humour, Media on 17/06/2012 at 7:11 am

The Air Transport Rating Agency (ATRA) has published its second annual list of the world’s ten safest airlines. The Geneva-based operation based its list on an assessment of 15 factors, using 2010 data.

 SIA has not made it into the top 10 again. This year, its greatest rival, Qantas, made it into the top 10.

ATRA’s ten safest airlines (in alphabetical order only): Air Canada, Air France-KLM, AMR Corporation, Delta Airlines, International Airlines Group, Lufthansa, Qantas, Southwest Airlines, United-Continental, US Airways.

But as the Economist’s travel blog points out:

Only one of the ten airlines in ATRA’s list (Qantas) makes it into the top ten of the most recent Skytrax world airline awards, which are derived from over 18m passenger responses and have a much more Middle Eastern/Asian tone. This either suggests that passengers do not consider safety when naming their favourite carriers, or they disagree with ATRA’s particular emphasis.

Anyway, I’m publicising this rating so that the likes of KennethJ, Chris balding, Dr Chee and his sis, Richard Wan and other TRE staffers and avid readers, TOC editorial staffers and Core Team, xmen and others of their kind, have a good excuse not to patronise SIA. They can fly Qantas instead. Actually, Dr Chee already has a good excuse already: he can’t leave S’pore without permission, and I don’t think permission has ever been given.

You won’t read this in our MSM: MU frustrated with SGX

In Footie on 14/06/2012 at 2:36 pm

“IFR said the club and its owners had become frustrated with long delays in approval from Singapore.” http://www.breakingviews.com/man-utds-ipo-transfer-keeps-owners-in-control/21023624.article

What the education ministry gets right

In Humour, Political governance on 11/06/2012 at 5:28 am

“Parents need to adapt to new forward-thinking teaching methods: Education Minister” was the headline in a newspaper interview last week that featured Changkat Primary School where parents have been attending workshops: to help their children in their homework. Teachers share their primary 3 to 6 teaching methods. 

About time I say approvingly: the exhortation to parents to change their thinking that what they learnt were the “betterest” and to teach them how to teach their “little monsters”.

As a singleton (by choice), I note with wry amusement parents who get upset with new teaching methods, especially maths. Some even go to the extent of rubbishing new maths because they say might as well teach the kids algebra to start with since new maths morphs into algebra in sec school. To be fair, one such parent was a WP member.

I know a parent who seeing this daughter solving set-theory problems at what he (and his dad) considered too slow a rate (remember maths is one subject where perfect score is possible if one answers all the questions) asked the teacher if he should teach her to memorise the multiplication tables. He said the teacher rolled her eyes in disbelief, and he wondered why. FYI, this parent almost read maths at London University (UK maths courses are very “chim” compared to most US universities). His dad suggested he try something easier because he liked gambling in China Town. He took economics.

I digress. I learnt my multiplication table before I attended primary school and I studied advanced maths at O levels. But only in my 20s did I realise what multiplication meant. It was all about using the right formula and the correct multiplication number when I was in school.

And seeing new maths in action (I was exploring “exporting” it to a neighbouring country), I must say its a gd way of introducing maths concepts, and teaching the methodology solving mathematical and logical puzzles. I think S’poreans should be proud that its “Uniquely S’porean”.

And its a product of the PAP government netizens love to hate. Guys and gals, do remember that 60% of voters voted for the PAP. So unless you think that they are “daft” (like one LKY) accept that fact.

Oh and this is the start of “Be nice to the PAP, government week” on this blog. Given that the SPH and MediaCorp groups, and Fabrications abt the PAP and SG Hard Truths are doing such a bad job of spinning for the PAP and government, I tot I’d run a few posts this week on what I think the PAP government is doing right. If this week gets extended into another week, then into months, then readers will know I’m getting paid to join the Empire. 

Hey Baey and Yaacob, I need the extra cash. What with inflation at above 5% and Tharman and Hng Kiang talking rubbish about it not affecting someone who doesn’t buy a new car or who doesn’t have to buy a house.

Finally, I’ve got an idea of what to post on Wednesday, but I can’t think of anything further to praise the PAP government for Friday’s post. Suggestions welcomed.

Demonising cabbies again?

In Uncategorized on 08/06/2012 at 5:35 am

(Or “How to get more taxis on the road, increasing rentals, and still screw the consumer”)

Last Saturday, MediaCorp’s freesheet carried an article that screamed

Taxis could become harder to flag down

More may obtain a taxi licence to rent cabs for personal use instead of plying the roads

It went on: more people could possibly be getting taxi licences for the wrong reasons – as suggested by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew in a press interview … Noting how, with the exception of those owned by ComfortDelGro, taxis are hired out mostly to cabbies who drive a single shift per day, Mr Lui said the authorities “need to be even more vigilant about this … because now driving a taxi can, with high COE prices, become a substitute for owning a car”.

Right, it’s the fault of cabbies gaming the system that we can’t get a cab. Not the fault of ComfortDelgro, the govt, or SMRT.

In mid April, there was a ST report that taxi drivers’ take-home income have gone up by as much as 30% since the increase in taxi fares at the end of last year. “ComfortDelGro, the biggest operator here with about 15,600 taxis, said average net income per cab per day has risen by 12 per cent to $210.93 … up from $188.69 in November, excludes costs drivers have to bear, such as rental and diesel.”

In the run-up to the fare increase late last year, our nation-building, constructive media were full of stories of the plight of cabbies. And when fares were increased, there were stories of drops in income as people stopped taking cabs. Poor cabbies. The media also reported extensively that the fleet owners were NOT increasing their taxi rentals. The benefits of the  increase were all going to the cabbies.

So I was surprised (in February or early March) to read in the same said media that S’pore had plenty of  taxis (about 27,000 of them) but that taxis were under-utilised because some work on one shift with one operator per taxi who “once they earn enough would call it a day”.

In April, we were told that they are doing well: to to 30% increase in take-home pay. So will there be shortages again as more of those taxis with one operator are AWOL because the operators call it a day after they earn enough? Now we are again reminded that many cabs are only operated by one person a day, and worse: that increasingly cabbies are gaming the system by using the taxi as a car, not as a cab. Juz earn enough to pay rental, then use taxi as car, for what we are not told. Transport gds? Visit clients? Or rent to senior members of Home Team or other scholars to have sex in in return for favours?

A shortage that will be solved when the fleet owners increase their charges so that the cabbies have to work longer hours again?

In other words, are we “being conditioned” for operating costs (not fares) for cabbies to go up to increase the supply of available taxis.

Then we will read stories in the media that taxi drivers are suffering, and that fares have to rise. And we shouldn’t complain if we are compassionate.

The cycle of spin goes on. Bit like the cycle of life.

Instead of inceasing rentals to increase supply, why not insist that each taxi must have mutiple operators working in shifts? Incentives, disincentives could be introduced to force cabbies into sharing? Afraid of too many cabs on the road, forcing down rentals because cabbies are leaving the industry?

.

China’s Community Convention = Yaacob’s CoC

In Political governance on 04/06/2012 at 6:34 am

The “community convention” of China’s biggest microblogging service, Weibo, made public last week, says its members may not use the service to:

  • Spread rumours
  • Publish untrue information (Interjection: Might be a problem if this is adopted here as SPH publications have an online presence. Exemption for newspapers that need an annual government permit on the ground that they are already regulated? Juz being constructive, not mean.)
  • Attack others with personal insults (PAP and this site might have a problem here if this is adopted here) or libellous comments
  • Oppose the basic principles of China’s constitution
  • Reveal national secrets
  • Threaten China’s honour
  • Promote cults or superstitions
  • Call for illegal protests or mass gatherings

It adds that members must not use “oblique expressions or other methods” to circumvent the rules.

Substitute the word “S’pore’s” for “China’s”, and Yaacob, Kee Chui Chan, and the staff of MDA and Institute of Policy Studies don’t need to consult no more the “inhabitants of cowboy towns”.  Can go back to earning millions of dollars without working with the troublesome, noisy “little people”.

Community Convention  covers everything that DPM Teo, Yaacob, Kee Chui, and IPS (and now even Dr M) find objectionable abt the behaviour they find ojectionable.

More on Weibo’s CoC http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18208446

—–

So desperate to slime WP that say this?

In Political governance on 29/05/2012 at 6:50 am

In another of his meaningless analysis pieces, NMP Eugene Tan, wrote in Today abt the PAP and WP “will need to raise their game”. As usual I was skimming thru it on the off-chance that it would contain shumething I didn’t know, something interesting, or a valuable insight. Yup, pigs would usually fly first.

Well today there was this, “The WP would also have to demonstrate that it does not seek special treatment and condone in what I call banal acts of lawlessness.”

Waz this I tot? Turned out to be,  “[T]he WP did not end its by-election rallies on time and overran by 10-15 minutes … extremely challenging for the police to intervene to ensure that the rules governing the issue of the rally permits are observed.”

So very petty. Being more PAP than the PAP. If the police and PAP didn’t kick up a fuss, why should anyone else?

And then this, “Further, in launching a stinging attack on the mainstream media for being a “political tool” of the PAP’s election campaign, the WP did not adequately substantiate its case.

‘Not only was this an attempt to capitalise on the by-election victory to make political points, the WP was also effectively asking the media for nothing but favourable coverage of its party and its candidates.”

Pls leh, WP doesn’t need to substantiate because it is so self-evident that SPH’s and MediaCorp’s coverage was so slanted. My observations on ST’s photojournalism. Another annoyed blogger who juz happens to be a grass-root activist in a PAP ward. I take his presence there as showing the PAP can change, or at least one MP is open-minded.

And this is the NMP who took on two PAP MP lawyers on the issue of prime ministerial discretion to call a by-election. As I wrote then, he was so out of character then.

Trying to move on to ST? After all, today’s ST editorial is pretty decent abt the WP. I could have said most of those things myself. ST’s standards dropping?

Hougang: ST photo coverage

In Political governance on 22/05/2012 at 5:35 am

Don’t know whether you noticed, but ST has, in my opinion, a very subtle agenda in its photo coverage. Practically every photo of Desmond Choo shows him with “lesser mortals” (i.e. the “little people” he, and his bosses, claim he (and they and the PAP) wants to help. But when it comes to Png, the photos are a mixed bag. Quite a number show him with party leaders. There was one that showed him in the background, clearly visible, but in the foreground was Low. And to make it worse for Png, there was beside it, a big photo, of Desmond Choo with a “lesser mortal”: Png is Low’s proxy but Desmond cares for the people seems to be the message.

And on Sunday, there was a photo of Desmond, friend of the “little people”, juxtaposed with one of a “triumphalist” Png waving to WP supporters with party leaders in the background.

All in all ST is getting more subtle. Remember in 2006, it was caught “fixing” a photo on the size of the crowd at a WP rally. It was Alex Au who pointed out that the shot gave a misleading impression of the size of the crowd.

As for Today, its photos of Desmond also tend to show him as “Desmond the compassionate, caring”. But there isn’t the attempt to paint Png as a Low’s “proxy”.

Two examples of how ST covers FTs

In Media on 16/05/2012 at 6:03 am

(Or “Why misbehaving FTs should be glad that they are still alive” or “Yaacob’s “Three steps” to Heaven”: Analysing Step 3″)

Is this what Yaacob wants the constructive, nation-building local media to teach bloggers: FTs are never ever in the wrong?

Sorry, some background first.

There are three steps that Yaacob wants taken to tame “cowboy towns”:

Step 1: “The Internet community creates a code of conduct for responsible online behaviour”

Step 2: “Citizens set up websites that offer constructive viewpoint” i.e. he said that the best way to go is to encourage other sites to emerge, “that can continue to offer constructive ideas and useful suggestions”.

Step 3: “Major media cos could help set the right tone online”

(I’ve covered Steps 1 and 2 here and here’s my analysis of step 3. Yes I promised it yonks ago, but my examples would have been historical. These examples are contemporary.) 

In the space of about a week, ST carried two sets of stories where FTs were portrayed as being in the right despite evidence to the contrary. (Note I’ll be linking to non-ST reports because ST is behind a pay wall.) 

First, even though M’sian TV showed (a M’sian friend told me)  a video of FTs from S’pore misbehaving, before being beaten up for their pains, not shown, ST never carried that version. It had earlier reported the following : report from M’sian Star copied bt TRE http://www.tremeritus.com/2012/05/12/sg-expats-claim-assault-by-bodyguards-of-royalty-off-johor-island/

Then there is the report on an accident where the PRC driver of a Ferrari, a taxi driver and a taxi passenger died. The ST story seemed to me to defend the Ferrari driver and flaunted his weath. I’m not the only one.

So this is what Yaacob wants from a Coc?

Apart from ST’s reporting which shows that the constructive, nation-building local media’s objectivity when covering FTs, the Johor incident shows that some ang moh FTs are so used to misbehaving here and getting away with it (remember the Suntec incident?) that they do the same when they visit M’sia. They think they can get way with annoying Johor royalty because they think ang moh tua kee. They shld be glad that they are still alive to tell us their tall stories.

Tharman has a point

In Humour, Political governance on 08/05/2012 at 7:11 pm

 Sometime ago, when defending the constructive, nation-building local media against comments that it was pro-government, he said that he tot he didn’t get much favours (my words not his) from the media. Well I laughed at this. I tot it was one of his stand-up routines.

He has a point or at least he did not misrepresented the facts in this instance. Tharman, last week, told us high COE prices doesn’t have an impact on us “lesser mortals” because the vast majority of  us don’t buy new cars. Netizens well and truly roughed him up. And this is what our constructive, nation-building BT reported on Monday:

Rising COE premiums put brakes on business
Some firms put expansion plans on hold as lorries and vans become more expensive

Soaring certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums are bearing down on businesses and forcing them to put the brakes on growth.

Since the start of the year, the workhorses of the road – lorries, vans and motorcycles – have become more expensive at a staggering rate, derailing the expansion plans of vehicle-reliant firms.

Category C premiums – which are for goods vehicles and buses – are now pushing $58,000, up 49 per cent from the start of this year. A year ago, the premium was just below $24,000.

Supply chain firm Sin-Freight International had planned to scrap two of its existing lorries to buy two new lorries with more tonnage, but the stratospheric COE premiums have put paid to its plans.

If this isn’t BT telling Tharman off, I don’t know what is?

Next time, Tharman tells us that he will soon have a head of hair, we’d better believe him, rather than put it down to his ambition to be a stand-up comic.

Integrating FTs: It’s our problem now/ News management

In Political governance on 29/04/2012 at 10:01 am

As readers may have noticed (a friend already has) that I’m getting less critical of the governing PAP. I told him (a Quitter done gd overseas) that after Raymond Lim “resigned” shumething is being done abt public tpt, there is more help from the poor by “Kee Chui” Chan (unlike the grudging, belittling efforts of VivianB, his predecessor), something (other than denial) is being done in public housing and flood control, got rid of a policy that incentivised civil servants to “make money” from us, and at least the govmin is “talking the talk” in immigration. I’m not too fussed abt the attempts to control us bloggers. Now if shumeone like Shanmugam was put in charge, I’d be a bit more concerned. But Yaacob (the minister who presided over two once in 50-yrs floods in two months) is the guy in charge of taming the internet deluge.  Yes inflation is a problem but I’m sure Tharman will solve it.

Besides I’ve been brought up to recognise when a person corrects his mistakes, even if he refuses to acknowledge them. Well the governing PAP is correcting some of its mistakes, even if it refuses to acknowledge that it can goof.

But I’m very annoyed that  Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said according to a CNA report that“Singapore needs to remain open and to welcome diversity … Mr Teo said Singapore needs to pay extra attention to facilitating the new immigrants who are ready to sink roots here, so that they integrate into society more quickly … urged Singaporeans to do their part to make newcomers feel welcome, and to help them imbibe the values that have made Singapore strong as a society.”

Hey minister and governing PAP, it’s yr problem. Fix it. S’poreans did not ask the government to liberalise immigration. It was govmin policy to liberalise immigration so as to force feed GDP growth with cheap labour and to compensate for the refusal of S’poreans to breed like rabbits. GDP growth has been gd, but the benefits did not accrue to retirees like me (OK I exaggerate, I’ve benefited from increasing listco and reits payouts, and gd, low-cost service from FTs) or ordinary S’poreans who faced stagnant wages but escalating property costs, ever-increasing public transport fares on ever more crowded, and dangerous buses and trains).

On a totally unrelated topic, the CNA report that contained the above has been re-edited re-written and expanded to almost focus on “Social media is a double-edged sword: DPM Teo” as the headline now reads. The previous headline had the word “open” in it. The only mention of immigration now is, “Another driving force – immigration. Mr Teo said Singapore needs to pay “extra attention” to new immigrants who are ready to sink their roots here. He urged Singaporeans to play their part in making new citizens feel more welcome.”

Wonder why the constructive, nation-building did this?

Yaacob’s “Three steps” to Heaven”: Analysing Steps 1 & 2

In Internet, Media, Political governance on 26/04/2012 at 7:25 pm

(Or “Doc’s cure Part I: a purgative)

PAP’s Heaven that is. Hell to us netizens. OK, let’s not exaggerate, more like Purgatory.

Sorry, Back to the headline. There are three steps that Yaacob wants taken to tame “cowboy towns”:

Step 1: “The Internet community creates a code of conduct for responsible online behaviour”

Step 2: “Citizens set up websites that offer constructive viewpoint” i.e. he said that the best way to go is to encourage other sites to emerge, “that can continue to offer constructive ideas and useful suggestions”.

Step 3: “Major media cos could help set the right tone online”

Step 1 has been well covered by netizens since he articulated it many moons ago. All I will add to the noise is this analysis

– If the government tries to regulate us bloggers, it’ll do more harm than good, for the government itself, the PAP and for S’pore. The government and PAP are no good in designing social systems: even the CCP in China acknowledges it cannot be the only social architect, it is only one of the players, albeit the one that can throw other players into jail.  The PAP government has a further problem given government’s desire for a knowledge-based economy, but with knowledge and the economy increasingly dependent on access and the use of the internet, it can no longer control the information S’poreans get. The internet and, in particular, social media have created a level of transparency never ever seen before in S’pore. Even taking into account the lack of publicly available government data, people can still research complicated issues with a few clicks of a mouse. The PAP government can no longer control the agenda or the framework within which discussions take place.

Even manufacturing is becoming social: read the Economist, the magazine where the government got its ideas for COEs, and CBD charges, among other “screw the poor” ideas.

– In the context of the other two steps, it is totally irrelevant. It has nothing to do with getting citizens to set up websites “that offer constructive viewpoints” or” with the local media helping readers to “separate the wheat from the chaff”.

– And even after asserting that the internet should grow as a platform for “serious discussion”, Dr Yaacob said a site cannot be stopped “just because we disagree with it”. There’s “nothing wrong” with “more sites available that offer alternative views, but as long as they are constructive … based on proper analysis”.

On Step 2, “Citizens set up websites that offer constructive viewpoint”, my first tot was, “Err whatever happened to FTs, that ministers so treasure? They don’t do “constructive” websites? Or are they banned from doing “constructive websites” but allowed to do “unconstructive” websites (citizens are discouraged from doing these sites)? Or are FTs banned totally from setting up websites on S’pore? Or all websites?”. If the last “wah lan” what kind of FTs do we want? Only goodie-two shoes (as defined by the PAP) like “No NS for me” from Msian-born Puthu or “Food is gd is M’sia” from Msian-born Ms Foo”. Incidentally, both became PAP MPs.

And he is talking rubbish, “If there are no good online sites or platforms that offer good views, people will naturally gravitate toward those that are popular and available.” Well people will always gravitate to sites that support their point of view. Ask the watchers of Fox TV in the US. And to “yellow culture” websites that promote decadent lifestyles.

But my biggest grouse with him on Step 2, is that what are “good” and “constructive” websites with “proper analysis” to  enable “serious discussion” and “useful ideas”, are defined by the PAP government. It’s the usual “setting the agenda”, framing the issue game that the government is always playing.

And it’s clear that by saying the local media can help readers to “separate the wheat from the chaff … our major companies, which have an established presence, can set the right tone online as well, with good practices of information sharing and moderation on the various online platforms”, his definitions of “good”, “constructive”, “proper analysis”, “useful ideas” and  “serious discussion” are the same definitions used by the PAP government to describe its ideal mainstream media, and the local media when it describes itself. He only left out “nation-building”*.

As this post is getting too long, I leave for next week examples of what I speculate are the practices he wants our “citizen”, “constructive” websites to learn from the local media: publishing misleading photos or rewriting letters-to-the-editor  to misrepresent the views of the writers?

For now, I’ll leave you with some light relief, “[T]o disagree with the Government is not a crime, but let’s put it on a rational objective footing. The Government has never shied away from that and that is something we look forward to, so that the Internet community can add to the discourse.” Wonder if the late JBK, Dr Chee or TOC would agree?

——-

* Actually he didn’t The Jakarta Post reported that he “noted that Singapore’s media model is one based on forging consensus and facilitating nation-building, in which social cohesion is preserved while empowering people to make informed decisions as a society.”

S’pore’s average wage relative to other countries

In Economy, Hong Kong, Humour on 15/04/2012 at 9:23 am

S’pore’s average wage is juz behind Germany’s and juz ahead of Australia. HK is a long way below us. So Gordon Lee and David See (TOC contributors) stop talking BS when comparing S’pore to HK. Lots of things wrong with S’pore but there is a difference between facts and rubbish. (Funny that TOC use their stuff when TOC has contributors of the quality of Ghui and Uncle Leong.)

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17543356

Funny also the our mainstream constructive, nation-building doesn’t report how well S’pore ranks globally. Cock-up or subversion by friends of Gordon and David in the newsrooms of our constructive, nation-building media? ISD should investigate.

Internet: Chinese media sounds like Yacoob & friends

In Internet, Political governance on 10/04/2012 at 7:35 pm

Below are relevant extracts from a BBC Online article on how the Chinese state-controlled media analyse the “problems” the internet  pose to society’s stability.

The country’s push against internet rumours continued on Tuesday. Beijing Times says a guild of online media operators has appealed for “law-abiding operations” among internet firms.

A commentary in Shanghai Morning Post insists that the introduction of “real name” rules for online forums and micro-blogging sites is the “cure” to the problem*, citing similar examples from Western countries.

A second editorial in the Southern Metropolis Daily says it is a shared responsibility of the public and the government to boycott the spread of rumours, while a commentary in the People’s Daily claims in its headline that “tolerating rumours is not a quality of democracy”.

The Global Times’ bilingual editorial also take the chance to lash out at the power of the internet.

“The perception projected by internet opinions is quite far from the real situation. For example, online opinion holds that grassroots livelihoods are a mess in China,” says the editorial.

“In addition, it states that reform has come to a standstill and public anger has boiled over to the extent that China could descend into chaos any time.”

*Reminder: Tan Kin Lian, the People’s Voice, who lost his deposit in last year’s presedential candidate advocates similar rules here on posting on the internet.

Related rant:

http://www.tremeritus.com/2012/04/07/yaacob-well-supervise-and-guide-the-process-of-developing-a-code-of-conduct-on-the-internet/

Rising electricity prices: Tell us the truth

In Economy, Energy, Political governance on 10/04/2012 at 7:01 pm

Article 14 has got it absolutely right last week  http://article14.blogspot.com/2012/04/electricity-prices-go-up-because-of.html. He is right to point out that SP Services explanation of why electricity prices have to rise (that the price of natural gas is going up) is absolutely rubbish. World prices of natural gas have collapsed as Article 14 pointed out.

The explanation is simple, but I suspect it is an explanation that SP Services and the government want to “hide” from ordinary S’poreans who don’t follow energy prices and trends, or the evolution of the energy industry over the decades. The sad but funny reason is that there is no selfish or self-serving reason to “hide” anything.

Here’s an opportunity for the PM (“working together”) or Tharman (“I think it’s important for us to retain a relationship of trust between whoever is the elected government and the people”) to show that they are “walking the walk’ of “engaging” us.

As it’s the economics and evolution of the natural gas market that make us pay more for natural gas while prices keep going down, this should not affect perceptions of the government by reasonable (the majority) of S’poreans.

Over a week ago, the NYT reported,  the price of one million Btu of natural gas fell below US$2.20 for the first time since 2002, while oil prices slipped a little but remained above US$100 a barrel. The last time natural gas was this inexpensive, oil cost about US$20 a barrel.

Unlike the oil market*, the natural gas market, is not a global, nor an efficient one (outside of the US). (I’ll explain this in detail later using S’pore and Qatar as examples).There is only a limited global trade in gas (the S’pore government is trying to encourage such trade with the building of a gas terminal), which can be transported in tankers, but mostly gas must move in pipelines over land in Europe and North America, the biggest users of energy. Example: natural gas prices have been rising in Britain this year even as they have been falling in the US.

Supply has soared in the US because of increased production from hydraulic fracturing (a newish technology), but demand in the US cannot change rapidly. Power plants that can burn gas or oil were shifted to gas long ago. And a relatively mild winter in the US has reduced demand. There is now a glut there.

S’pore, as readers, will know gets its supply of gas from gas fields in Indonesia and Malaysia. The energy MNCs who developed these kind of fields did not develop these fields until they were assured that there were assured long-term buyers of the gas (This is still true today). There are a lot of upfront costs and the lead period from the time the fields are being developed to the first shipment of gas to the customer are measured in decades. Example: gas was discovered in Qatar in large quantities in the 1980s. It became a major exporter only in the early to mid-noughties. It took that long to build the facilities to ship the gas to places like Japan and South Korea, taking into account the time to negotiate the contracts.

Then there is the issue of pricing. Until very recently, natural gas contracts were priced off the price of oil because they were often found together, and both were scarce.

When the gas contracts for S’pore were negotiated all those many years, the price of the gas that S’pore pays was priced off the price of oil. Hence one reason of the paradox of us paying higher prices for gas when the price of gas is at a 10-year low. Another reason is that S’pore is locked into long-term contracts, and another is that until the gas terminal is operational  in the second quarter of 2013, we can’t get gas from another source. BTW, the plans for a gas terminal show that the government can get things right.

Now S’poreans are not the only people who got “screwed” by the breakdown between the price of gas and oil. KKR and TPG, giant and successful US private equity investors invested billions of their investors’ funds in TXU. One of the things they were betting on was that gas prices would be priced-off oil prices for the foreeable future. Err now even Buffett has lost money buying TXU bonds.

So why don’t we get told the truth of why we are paying higher prices when the price of natural gas has collapsed, when the answer has nothing to do with government or its agencies incompetency?

One reason could be that the PR people in these organisations are still stuck in the pre-internet model of news management. They believe and advise that “news” can be manipulated to fool the people all of the time.

More seriously, the government and its agencies may want us to think that their value (and high salaries of the senior staff) lie in making the right long-term decisions all of the time.

They should realise that S’poreans are no longer dependent on the government, its agencies and the constructive, nation-building local media for facts and analysis.

And that S’poreans have realised that long-term decisions don’t always result in benefits for S’poreans. We know that already because of the FTs, and public housing and transport problems, the result of long-term planning and decisions.

In the case of gas, it was (and still is outside the US) a rational decision to buy on long-term contracts gas that is priced off oil. It’s not a balls-up on the lines of the FT, and public housing and transport policies which has the government throwing money at the public housing and transport systems, and telling us that it’s changing its “FTs are betterest” policy.

Finally, market expectations are that this time next year, oil prices are expected to be almost where they are now, while natural gas prices are forecast to have risen more than 50%. What a great time then to shout about the competency of the government, when telling us that electricity prices are relatively stable? 

My point is that facts are changing, what may look bad for the government one day, may look good another day, depending on the facts. It shouldn’t “hide” the truth (especially when the truth doesn’t discredit the government) if it wants S’poreans to regain trust in the government.

————–

*Oil moves around the world in tankers that can be diverted from one destination to another in response to shifts in demand. A sharp change in demand or supply in any place is likely to show up in prices everywhere. Oil prices can also be affected by geopolitical concerns. Example: oil prices have risen on worries that Israel might attack Iran, leading to a drastic reduction in Iranian oil exports.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 209 other followers