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Posts Tagged ‘NTUC’

NTUC: What Devan Nair got wrong

In Political governance on 11/04/2014 at 5:49 am

The NTUC has a clown cabinet minister and its own MPs within the PAP.The last time it approved of a strike was decades ago (2 Jan 1986). The PAP govt frowns on strikes, and NTUC has to be constructive, and nation-building, like the local media. The PAP govt knows best leh.

Once upon a time the PAP was strike friendly. In 1960 125,000 man-hours were lost in strikes compared with only 26.000 in 1959. The person who reported this statistic, the outgoing head of the S’pore Chamber of Commerce called for an inquiry into where the trade union movement was leading S’pore.

Woodhull, a union man (Singapore Trades Union Congress) and a PAP cadre and activist (later arrested in Coldstore) said in the 6 months before the PAP took power in 1959, the workers were “repressed”. So the jump in strikes was to be expected when they were liberated. (Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962))

Well the PAP soon grew less-strike friendly as the economy was affected by strikes and an economic slowdown.

LKY and the other PAP leaders (remember he was only first among equals) decided to form a new trade union movement. National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) was created in 1961 when the Singapore Trades Union Congress (STUC), which had backed the People’s Action Party (PAP), split into the NTUC and the Singapore Association of Trade Unions (SATU). In 1963, the government detained SATU’s leaders during Operation Coldstore and deregistered it.

Only NTUC was left standing: competition eliminated. It never had to persuade the workers that its plans were better.

Devan Nair as a founder of the NTUC and as its first Sec-Gen had a different idea of the role of unions from the one of union leaders in the S’pore of the 1950s: one where the govt, unions and businessmen collaborated for the public good, and where general economic prosperity benefited the employers and their workers.

He (and other PAP leaders) publicly said that they had in mind the German model of industrial relations: “The most notable of such experiments have been by the Staedtler, Carl Zeiss, Robert Bosch, Gert Spindler and Rexroth undertakings in West Germany, and the John Lewis and Scott-Bader enterprises in England.” The last two were British worker co-operatives. John Lewis is still a model for the co-operative way of doing things.

They hated the traditional British model despite (perhaps because) many of the leaders having studied there, and despite the English-educated leaders having influenced by British socialist thinkers, the Fabian Society and the British Labour party. Devan Nair (not one of the UK educated leaders) quoting a British writer, Mr. Folkert Wilken, on the subject:

“It is an inveterate evil of the traditional structure of trade unions, that in order to exist they must struggle to recruit members, and to make membership appear in the most attractive light. They are therefore under constant compulsion to prove the necessity of their existence. They have to institute periodic and militant proceedings for increased wages and shorter hours. By doing this, they are appealing to the egotistic interests of the workers. Thus, they never appeal to the social ideals dormant in the workers. They cannot, for they do not consider it their duty to further such ideals, and have no clear picture of the practical realisation of these ideals. They therefore wish to persevere in their war for higher wages and less work. To these aims they owed their birth, a hundred years ago. But then, those aims were justified by the conditions of the time, as they are always justified when there is capitalistic exploitation of labour.”

The virus of the British industrial disease is also latent in Singapore** and could develop a malignant potency in future years, if our social thinkers and planners do not give thought to the development of corrective and remedial measures.

(http://sgrepository.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/wages-alone/)

Funnily for an ex-communist, he never ever mentioned (at least publicly: I’m happy to stand corrected on this point) that the NTUC was modeled on the Soviet Union’s and Communist China’s trade unions’ movements (Just like one LKY kept insisting that the PAP was modeled on the Roman Catholic Church when in fact it was modeled on the Soviet communist party and the Chinese communist party that imitated its structure. The ideas and principles of both organisations followed those of Lenin). The unions were subordinate to the leaders of the communist party who were also the leaders of the govt, the countries being one party states.  They were not equal partners to the govt or the employers (state-owned). This didn’t matter because the communist party represented the interests of the workers, the proletariat.

Devan Nair wanted to improve the working conditions and life of the workers, but he was willingly to use a model that had shown itself capable of exploiting the workers; a system that depended on the whims and fancies of the political leader, there being no institutional checks to their power. No need to have checks and balances because the party and hence its leaders represented the workers.

I’m sure that such a smart man (in EQ and IQ) would have realised the danger especially as he was a well read man (his speeches seem to indicate this, or did he have a good speech writer?). But as he tot the world of LKY****, he created (with others) the NTUC based on the Leninist model.

As I pointed out earlier, by 1973, he may have recognised the problems S’pore was going to face if it continued on the PAP govt’s chosen trajectory, but he was impotent to change the system. He had helped create a union movement that was subordinate to the ruling govt in a defacto one-party state. .The NTUC would improve the life of the the workers only if the govt wanted to take care of the workers. If it didn’t, the NTUC would not be in a position to help the workers. It would only spin the govt’s propaganda, like Squealer in Animal Farm, explaining why the other farm animals had to endure hardship.

When in the mid 1990s, the govt realised that S’pore was losing its competitive edge (a fact, not a Hard Truth or Heart Truth) and it tot that economic growth required real wages to be held down and real estate prices to be inflated*** the workers had to accept the nasty consequences. The NTUC was part of the machinery of govt. As to protesting, well sheep S’poreans don’t protest: they juz bleat*****. Besides, S’poreans are law abiding and protests (Hong Leong excepted) and strikes need official permission, Hong Leong excepted.

NTUC, as a champion of the workers, was flawed from its conception, a bit like the creature that Dr Frankenstein created. For that, Devan Nair, whatever his good intentions, must accept part of the blame.

One wonders whether when Lim Chin Seong and Fong Swee Suan, Woodhull  and other radical left unionists met Devan Nair in the afterlife, they chorused,”Dr Frankenstein, we presume?”?

—–

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

by Leon Comber*

Publisher:  Marshall Cavendish International Asia

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

* MAI Adjunct Research Fellow

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

**Bit ironical this given that PAP activists were in the forefront of the strikes.

***OK, OK, I exaggerate. But go ask Mah Bow Tan.

****It is important to appreciate, however, that Lee Kuan Yew and Co. belong to a freak generation. In fact, as individuals, they were quite unrepresentative of the great majority of their social class, the members of which were brought up and educated in the colonial era, and whose major preoccupation was to fend for themselves and feather their own nests … But because the present generation of leaders exceeded their class characteristics and loyalties, and developed a creative vision of a better society, they were able to establish themselves as the modern leaders of Singapore. In more senses than one, this freak generation are the creators of the vibrant and bustling Republic we know today.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/in-1973-devan-nair-foresaw-todays-income-inequality/

*****They always have. It’s juz that the internet and social media have amplified the once soft bleats. Take away the anonymity of the internet and social media and there will be a reurn to the silence of the lambs.

In 1973 Devan Nair foresaw today’s income inequality

In Political governance on 04/04/2014 at 5:21 am

I never tot of Devan Nair as a dissident until last week, His critical comments of one LKY and the PAP, I put down to the bitterness of being pensioned-off quietly, and then of being publicly humiliated when he complained of being pensioned-off. Devan Nair’s fall from grace and very public humiliation was to me poetic justice for someone who was seen by human rights and labour activists of helping the PAP enslave the workers who trusted him; a view I don’t share but taz another story.

Last week, I read a 1973 speech in which he

– attacked the consequences of a “meritocratic society”: elitism;

– expected a growing disparity in incomes;

– accused the new elite of a lack of general social concern or commitment; and

– said that S’pore would not turn out the way he and the other leaders of the PAP had envisioned.

He said,

My colleagues and I in the NTUC have done our part to persuade the workers to accept the growing income differentials between them and the burgeoning new elite of Singapore — the professionals, technocrats and management executives. We think our workers are sophisticated enough not to grudge the new elite their extra perks and special privileges but what they do resent is the lack of any tangible signs of general social concern or commitment on the part of the new
elite.

(http://sgrepository.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/emerging-elite/ Check out the person behind vthe site a KC gal living in the US. She doesn’t deserve the SPG tag that KC gals get affixed with even by ST editors)

Remember this was said when the PM (LKY was drawing a salary of $4,000 a month, less than $8,000 that David Marshall drew in 1957) and a salary of $100,000 a yr made the headlines of ST (Haw Par’s incoming expat MD’s salary).

As to a different S’pore from what the PAP leaders had envisioned: it sometimes happens that their work is undone by those who inherit their mantle of leadership.It is one of the ironies of development that some of the results of the work of the leaders of development are not what they themselves desired or intended.

They (including one LKY I suspect) would have been disappointed if they knew then (in 1973) that in the noughties,

– the PAP in the 2011 GE would only get 60% of the popular vote despite a growing economy that did not benefit many of  the voters (in 1973, the growing economy benefited most voters);

– two cabinet ministers (one a very senior one) would lose their seats convincingly;

– the PAP govt would lose its reputation for managerial efficiency: think the public tpt problems, the hospital bed shortage, the security breaches, the riot; or

– the PAP’s preferred presidential candidate would win by the shortest of short noses

So why didn’t he do something about it?

In 1973, he was not someone to be trifled with.  He was Sec-Gen of the NTUC, a charismatic speaker and he had credibility with the workers.  True they had effectively lost the right to strike, but in return they had benefited from strong economic growth, the result of MNCs setting up here to take adv of the labour laws protecting employers. In 1983, he got Lim Chee Onn (a scholar) sacked as NTUC Sec-Gen for not being able to connect with the workers. That was how powerful he was. (BTW, Lim Chee Onn turned to be a gd executive at Keppel, for which shareholders like me are grateful.)

Three connected answers suggest themselves hesitatingly, tentatively: He couldn’t because although he was in charge of the NTUC and had the support of the workers, the NTUC was so intertwined with the PAP and the govt that no one man could not break the bonds: even someone like him.

Then too LKY was at the zenith of his intellectual and political power. A person of Devan’s high EQ and IQ would realise that taking on LKY meant defeat.

Finally he still in 1973, tot the world of one LKY, and that the individual must be subordinated to the interest of society, ideas that had serious flaws to say the very least. In the same speech he said,

It is important to appreciate, however, that Lee Kuan Yew and Co. belong to a freak generation. In fact, as individuals, they were quite unrepresentative of the great majority of their social class, the members of which were brought up and educated in the colonial era, and whose major preoccupation was to fend for themselves and feather their own nests … But because the present generation of leaders exceeded their class characteristics and loyalties, and developed a creative vision of a better society, they were able to establish themselves as the modern leaders of Singapore. In more senses than one, this freak generation are the creators of the vibrant and bustling Republic we know today.

So maybe he tried working within the system to try to change it?

The tragedy of Devan Nair is that he

– realised (14 yrs after the PAP gained power, 8 yrs after he independence) that he had helped create a society that was going the “wrong” way; and

– he couldn’t do anything to prevent it.

If there is a memorial to honour him these words should be engraved, Indeed, it sometimes happens that their work is undone by those who inherit their mantle of leadership.It is one of the ironies of development that some of the results of the work of the leaders of development are not what they themselves desired or intended.

Actually, thinking about it, these words should appear on any memorial to any other dead PAP leader (including LKY when he has moved on) or on the PAP’s building.

 

Gaming the system: Unsaid assumptions of PAP, NTUC MP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTUC’s silent walk: How apt

In Humour on 16/06/2013 at 5:01 am

Couldn’t stop laughing when I read: “Some 50 people took part in the labour movement’s Our Singapore Conversation session on Friday evening … it started with a silent walk along parts of Marina Bay.” http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/labour-movement-holds/710474.html

This silent walk is a metaphor of the many times since it’s founding where NTUC’s silence was deafening, like

– the strike by non-unionised PRC FT SMRT (where a union and NTUC leader was a director) bus drivers; or

– NTUC Income’s row with some union members,

to quote two recent examples.

Last December, I attended the launching of “The Last Great Striike” where I heard the sorry tale that in the 1980s, NTUC and union leaders did not know how to conduct a “work ro rule” protest against Qantas at Changi airport. It was meant to help SIA in one of its periodic rows with Qantas. Qantas didn’t even know that there was a “work ro rule” protest. Google the term to understand how effective a weapon it is

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/when-devan-nair-was-jedi/

TRE says it all about Ong Ye Kung, NTUC & SMRT

In Humour on 10/04/2013 at 6:54 am
TRE posted these articles in the following order on its front page.
NTUC claims credit for unionising SMRT PRC bus drivers

NTUC claims credit for unionising SMRT PRC bus drivers

In a recent hour-long phone interview with 2 journalists from Yahoo! Singapore, former SMRT bus driver…
185 SMRT PRC bus drivers had petitioned MOM in 2010

185 SMRT PRC bus drivers had petitioned MOM in 2010

 

Ong Ye Kung as a director of SMRT should have known about the plight of the bus drivers. But as union leader of the bus driver, he did nothing. And NTUC is now claiming credit for unionisg PRC drivers? Why now only after a strike? But let’s be fair, maybe NTUC leaders are like the many readers of TRE who “hate” all things PRC. See all the negative stories TRE carries from the Western media about China which pander to these readers.

 

Meritocracy’s feet of clay: Ong Ye Kung

In Corporate governance, Political economy, Political governance on 10/12/2012 at 5:29 am

(Update on 3 January 2013: He has joined Keppel Gp, a TLC, and not as expected his father-in-law’s property company. I’ll be blogging on this next week. Want to try to find out if his in-laws scared that their workers’ will go on strike or be unhappy if he joined them. I mean his record at SMRT/ NTUC not too good.)

Our nation-building constructive media are ignoring the white elephant in the space where of the circles of TLCs/GLCs, PAP, NTUC and the civil service meet: sometimes also known as S’pore Inc.

Once upon a time, Ong Ye Kung, was S’pore Inc’s poster boy of meritocracy.

Just in April 2011, before the May GE, our nation-building constructive media praised him as an example of meritocracy at work. Son of a Barisan Socialist MP (and no friend of one LKY), he was a scholar* who rose to a senior civil service post**, then became a senior NTUC leader, and then a PAP MP candidate. It was whispered that he was Zorro Lim’s anointed successor as NTUC chief; and was tipped by ST as a future candidate for ministerial office. He did became the NTUC’s Deputy Secretary-General in June 2011.

But by then his slave worker drawn chariot had gotten stuck in the mud . He was a member of George Yeo’s losing Aljunied GRC team. Worse was to follow in 2012: the wheels came off his chariot of gold and ivory and he was thrown-off, and cast into the darkness and mud and became a person that the constructive, nation-building media knew not.

Earlier this year, SMRT’s S’porean drivers made known publicly their unhappiness over pay proposals that had his endorsement as Executive Secretary of NTWU (Nation Transport Workers’ Union). As he was also a non-executive director of SMRT, if he were an investment banker, a US judge would have rebuked and censured him for his multiple, conflicting roles.

Then he resigned, effective last month, from NTUC to “join the private sector”.

In perhaps a farewell, good-riddance gesture, FT PRC workers went on strike (illegally) and we learnt:

– they lived in sub-standard accommodation (SMRT admitted this);

– unlike most SBS FT PRC drivers, most of SMRT’s PRC drivers were not union members; and

– Ministry of Manpower reprimanded SMRT for its HR practices.

All this reflects badly on Ong: NTUC’s Deputy Secretary-General,  Executive-Secretary of NTWU and SMRT non-executive director. And on the system that allowed him to rise to the top. After all his ex-boss said the following reported on Friday, which given Ong’s multiple roles in SMRT, can reasonably be interpreted as criticism of Ong:

In his first comments on the illegal strike, which saw 171 workers protesting over salary increases and living conditions, the Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said the labour dispute “shouldn’t have happened” and “could have been avoided”. [So where was Ong: looking at his monthly CPF statements and being happy?]

NTUC is thus reaching out to SMRT’s management to persuade them “to adopt a more enlightened approach to embrace the union as a partner”, he added. [Hello, NTUC's Deputy Secretary-General was on SMRT's board, so what waz he doing?]

Mr Lim, who was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Labour Movement Workplan Seminar, cited the example of SMRT’s rival SBS Transit where nine in 10 of its China bus drivers are union members. Only one in 10 of SMRT’s China bus drivers are union members, according to union sources. [So, why didn't Ong advise SMRT to help unionise these FTs, and if he did, why didn't NTUC push harder ehen SMRT refused?]

SBS Transit’s management “recognised the constructive role of the union”, while union leaders “played the role of looking after the interests of the drivers”, said Mr Lim.

“And as a result … they work very closely as one team, it’s a win-win outcome. In terms of how workers are being treated and respected, how management are responsive, how they work together, I think it’s a kind of model that we ought to see more and more in Singapore.” (Today)

Apparently, Ong is supposed to join his father-in-law’s property development business: but with this revelations, it should come as no surprise if his in-law’s family has reservations about him: he might mismanage and upset the workers. Property development companies are fragile because of their leverage: they can’t afford executives who can’t execute.

And if anyone is wondering about the origins and meaning of the term “feet of clay”:

Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.

This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,

His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. (Daniel 2:31-33)

And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.

And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.

And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. (Daniel 2:41-43)

…………………….

*From 1993 to 1999, he was in the then Ministry of Communications, where he helped develop the Land Transport White Paper and was part of the team which established Singapore’s Land Transport Authority. Taz right, he was there at the beginning of the great SMRT cock-up.

**He was the Principal Private Secretary to one Lee Hsien Loong, then became the CEO of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency.

NTUC leaders would never say this

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

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

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

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

 

Is PAPpie Ong Ye Kung behaving like a bad Goldie investment banker?

In Corporate governance on 09/08/2012 at 6:16 am

So SMRT bus drivers have given a tight slap to their union chief* and  NTUC’s deputy secretary-general, who is also a board member of SMRT Corporation, Ong Ye Kung. He also happens to be part of the PAP GRC team that lost Aljunied. He had told them that working six days a week is a fairly standard arrangement, and insisted that with the increase in basic pay, their salaries will be higher, compared with what they had earned in a five-day work week plus an additional day with overtime pay**.

They have complained to his NTUC boss, a cabinet minister.

He is lucky he is not in the US, and not an investment banker. A few months ago, a judge’s ruling made Goldman Sachs potentially liable for some pretty serious damages if shareholders of a company wanted to sue it (Some are). Anyway, the ruling was another hole below the hull in Goldmans fast sinking reputation.

Goldman was on every conceivable side of a deal involving the sale of El Paso. As a result, El Paso may have unwittingly sold itself far too cheaply. Goldman was inherently conflicted because it represented El Paso for part of the time in the sale negotiations with Kinder Morgan, the buyer, and advised El Paso on a possible spinoff of its pipeline business. But Goldman’s private equity arm also owns 19.1% of Kinder Morgan and has two appointees on Kinder Morgan’s board. For more details see links below.

Sounds a bit like Ong’s position. He is everywhere in the proposed pay deal: union leader of the drivers, negotiating for drivers, leader of the constructive, nation-building NTUC, SMRT director, and who knows where else.

No wonder, the drivers don’t trust his judgment.

And then there is a big question mark on his character. His dad, now deceased, was a fierce opponent of the PAP. So fierce, that he was detained under ISA. Yet he joined the NTUC, a training ground for Sith Lords. And became a PAPpie after dad died, standing in Aljunied GRC and helped create history by being part of George Yeo’s losing team: first PAP, and combine ministerial and NTUC team (two cabinet ministers and one jnr minister and two NTUC leaders) to lose a GRC.

Links mentioned above

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/the-losers-in-the-el-paso-corp-opinion/?nl=business&emc=dlbkpma1

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/advising-deal-goldman-sachs-had-all-angles-for-a-payday/?nl=business&emc=edit_dlbkam_20120306

————————————

*The executive secretary of the National Transport Workers’ Union.

**To be fair to him, it sounds like a gd deal. But I defer to the judgement of those affected. I’m no elitist even though I’m from RI. I even once won a prize for academic excellence.

Judging SPH’s mall bid — CEO gives a hostage to Fortune

In Investments, Property on 23/11/2009 at 5:00 am

Last Wednesday, BT carried an article in which the CEO of SPH (its parent) explained the thinking behind an SPH-led consortium winning bid to build a mall in Clementi. Its partners with 20% each were NTUC Fair Price and NTUC Income.

BT giving the background said, “Its winning bid of $541.898 million was the highest of six offers that HDB received for the mall. The winning bid is nearly 42 per cent more than the next highest offer of $382 million.” Analysts were amazed at the price paid.

“Winning bidders looking ahead at rentals upon lease renewal” was the screaming headline. BT went on quoting SPH’s CEO, “‘[W]hen we do our calculations, we are not using the rentals when we start operations. We are actually using after rental renewal cycle, whether it is after three years or six years,’ said SPH chief executive officer Alan Chan.”

“Had SPH used the typical strategy of real estate investment trusts (Reits), which assume say a 5-6 per cent return based on rents when the mall starts operating, it would have led to bids in the $300 million range – where four of the six bids came in for the mall at the close of HDB’s tender last Tuesday,” BT continued.

What I liked about the CEO’s comments is that he gave analysts a time frame on which he can be judged. I’m surprised that the PR/ IR spin doctors allowed him to make these hostage to fortune statements. I hope he will continue making such statements, that help anlaysts.

The usual practice when the winning bid is way above the next bid (known as “winner’s curse”)  is for mangement to mumble something about corporate long term values without going into details.

Long-termism is often used as an excuse for avoiding tough but necessary short-term decisions, or for covering up mistakes.  Remember Temasek’s Merrill Lynch investment was “long term”

So it is refreshing to see a CEO give a time frame of 3-6 years on which analysts like me can judge the bid.

If you are wondering why this piece took so long to appear — I wanted to ensure that the article reflected correctly the CEO’s views: there would be no retraction, correction or clarification.

Remember the AWARE bun fight (where “Anal sex is normal” feminists fought “Crucify the weirdos” X’ians. OK I exaggerate wildly the positions)? There were a lot of ponticating nabobs in the MSM and online who rushed into “print” talking of the implications on civil society of the government’s non-intervention, allowing the analists to retake control of  AWARE  from the “family values” X’ians.

Well a few days later, the government stepped in and said that AWARE’s sex manual did not conform to society’s standards on anal sex and homosexualism, giving the X’ians a famous victory and making the pontificating nabobs who rushed to judgement looking decidely stupid.

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