Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Why has US economy stalled?

In Economy on 31/07/2011 at 8:08 am

The recession was deeper than was thought.

Consumers not spending like they used to. All that debt.

Time for China, S’pore  etc to buy more US debt so that the Americans can use the money to buy gds from us. Gds that are designed by US cos who reap the rewards, like Apple. The manufacturers get “peanuts”.


“Deeply disappointed”: Tony Tan

In Political governance, Wit on 31/07/2011 at 7:15 am

 Well I am too Doc.

Waz this using the services of that clueless, pea-brained dynamic duo of Kate Spade Tin and Fat Fingers Denise (PAP poster gal Tin’s spastic FaceBook administrator,) to help you with yr Facebook page?

What medication were you on when you approved their appointments?

Seriously, jokes aside, I am very deeply disappointed with the carelessness that you and your team communicate with us ordinary S’poreans. The reply to Jessica was not the first piece of carelessness (or is it elitist meritocratic snobbery at work?). This was. FaceBook does not automatically put comments in the spam folder.

(BTW I don’t think you or your team engineered this. Only the SPH news team could be so dumb.)

Sorry for the distractions. Coming back to the reply to Jessica. Why did you and your team assume that S’poreans know that yr son is a President’s Scholar, or that in the US a college degree is needed before one can go to medical school or that it takes so long to qualify as a MD in the US.

In the reply to “Jessica”, if these facts had been made public, I for one would have not thought further of the matter. But it is a hard truth that these facts were not made public until sometime on Friday. In their absence, people who don’t want you as president seized their chance to to make adverse comments. But you and your team gave them the opportunity.

As to why you gave those “subversives” the opportunity, maybe you and your team agree with one LKY that we are “daft”, hence easily satisfied with any explanation. Anyway, we should have known that your son is a scholar and how MDs are trained in the USA. And maybe we should have known. But many of us are distracted by stagnating wages, rising property prices, high inflation, and increasing electricity and transport bills.

You and your team should remember that you are standing for an elected office, not us “lesser mortals”. You need our votes to avoid the ignominy of joining George Yeo and friends. Adjust the way you communicate to “reach” us. Do not expect us to adjust our thinking to understand you, if you want our votes.

Oh and what apologising for not giving the facts in the first place? Facts that would prevented us from being distracted? And from wasting our time.

One final thought. Nicole Seah works in a smallish PR firm. As she is one S’porean who knows how to communicate with us ordinary S’poreans, maybe you should have a chat with her with a view of using her as a communications adviser?

I know GIC’s Head of Communications has taken leave and  is assisting you in her personal capacity. But I think Rin Tin Tin and Denise the Spastic would have done a better job, in communicating with us S’poreans. BTW is that lady from GIC a S’porean? She has an “ang moh ” name.

When China plays fail in US

In China, Corporate governance on 30/07/2011 at 7:02 am

The shareholders of dud China plays are increasingly filing class-action lawsuits against the companies, auditors and even the investment banks. The auditors and banks have deep pockets.

Too bad for investors in S-Chips that class-action law suits are difficult to undertake here. So the banks are auditors are safe from law suits.

Tourist arrivals & revenues

In Economy on 29/07/2011 at 7:10 am

Good value-add from tourists. S’pore is on the Economist’s list of countries that make the most from each tourist, calculated as the total of tourist receipts divided by the total number of arrivals

Honest mistakes? Or cannot be helped?

In Political governance on 29/07/2011 at 7:08 am

As regular readers will know, I’m pretty cynical abt the pronouncements made by ministers. But whatever little faith I had has been shaken badly in recent weeks

I’ve never believed the stories abt PRC prostitutes, sales assistants, hawkers and manual workers becoming PRs easily.  I tot the only people who got PRs easily were M’sian Chinese graduates from our unis or from overseas unis. Even M’sian Indian graduates have difficulty becoming PRs. So I tot PRC prostitutes and shop assistants getting to be PRs was a S’porean urban myth.

So it was to my great surprise to find out that a 30-something Chinese citizen working as a shop assistant is a PR. She had come to prominence when she assaulted an SMRT officer for daring to ask her to pay her child’s fare. As she is reported to be married to a taxi driver, I am wondering if her hubby is a PRC PR too. I understand only locals can drive taxis but I’ve been in cabs where the youngish drivers could only speak Mandarin.

Then there was the case of two PRC hawkers who were PRs. Their PR status was only made public when they were attacked by a local.

So PM are these three documented cases honest mistakes by immigration offcers? Or were they (and others) made PRs because “cannot be helped”.  They had the thing yr dad seems to value most, they were genetically pure-breed Chinese from China. His views on the tropics sapping the strength of people from cooler climes are well known.

As  I don’t expect an answer from PM, I hope one of the Opposition MPs can ask in Parly how come shop assistants and hawkers can become PRs? But I fear (Mrs Chiam excepted) they may be more interested in buttering up the PAP in the hope of becoming part of the ruling coalition after the next general election.

Selling via EBAY

In Uncategorized on 28/07/2011 at 10:04 am

Don’t allow buyer to collect stuff in person.

US defaults, nothing changes

In Uncategorized on 28/07/2011 at 6:36 am

Nervous investors can’t all buygold, silver, platinum, S$ or Swiss francs. For all the worries about global sovereign debt, this is still a sellers’ market. That is why the yield on US 10-year debt is still barely 3%.

When you are world’s biggest debtor and consumer of last resort, the world owes you a living.

TKL’s election manifesto in action

In Uncategorized on 27/07/2011 at 6:43 am

When TKL talks abt being the  “VOICE of the PEOPLE to carry their views, concerns and aspirations to the Government”, we now know what he means. He will issue a statement on a topical issue, like this  statement on public transport fares.

He publicly called on the transport minister Lui Tuck Yew and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to “take urgent steps to revamp the public transport system in Singapore by increasing the capacity and encouraging more effective competition among the public transport operators” and to give “urgent consideration” to his earlier proposals, including greater regulation.

As to the bit: “Apply my knowledge and expertise to SAFEGUARD their CPF savings and the RESERVES of Singapore”, he will do what he did here, issue a statement querying the S$10.9bn loss at MAS, and then issue this

He certainly is showing that he  is: “INDEPENDENT of the PAP government”. But on “work[ing] with it to find solutions that are best for the people”, I have my doubts.

His very public posturing on “hot” topics comes across as indicating that he believes that the presidency is a “separate political centre” that operates as a check on the cabinet. It’s the in-house Opposition, as opposed to the parliamentary Opposition. TKL has specifically denied that he views the presidency as “a separate political centre”: “I accept that the President’s office is NOT a separate political centre and does not have any executive power.”

But methinks the very public statements (couched in very populist language) on public tpt, the loss at MAS, and the issue of the reserves and the CPF, speak louder than his protestations abt his understanding of  the powers of the presidency. His statements imply that the presidency is a bully pulpit for him to articulate the “people’s” views, “The elected president can play a useful role in being an additional channel for the people to bring legitimate issues to the attention of the Government”.

US presidents routinely use the presidency as a bully pulpit. Note the US president has executive powers and is a  “separate political centre”, and the use of the presidency as a bully pulpit is a natural development of his powers and role as a “separate political centre”.

TKL’s attempts to straddle the PAP’s views of the role of the presidency and the even more activist role championed by Goh Meng Seng, his adviser, and the anonymous voices on the internet seems flakey by comparison to Tan Jee Say’s more robust views, ”the office of President is what the President makes it out to be. He can be as quiet and inactive as he chooses to be. Or he can be active. I want to be an active President, engaging the nation on issues of conscience and promoting worthy causes”.

In short, TKL’s manifesto is rojak. If voters want rojak, that’s fine with me (BTW I like rojak as a dish). But they should know it is rojak and not “mee siam with hum” or steak.

GIC: Loss of S$5.2bn on combined UBS and Citi investments

In GIC on 26/07/2011 at 6:44 pm

(Note that on 27 July 2011 at 8.20am, I revised the article)

Using BT’s numbers that appeared in BT today, I calculated that GIC has a book loss of S$8.4bn on UBS, a profit of S$1.9bn on Citi and a paper profit of S$1.3bn. So this adventure in distress investing has not paid off yet. The net book loss is S$5.2bn.

GIC owns 245.48 million UBS shares, or a stake of 6.41 per cent in the bank, UBS’s latest annual report shows. That stake would be worth some 3.41 billion francs, at UBS’s share price of 13.88 francs at 9.30pm Singapore time yesterday. Even after including the 1.98 billion in coupon payments that GIC received in the first two years of its investment in UBS, its paper loss is about 5.6 billion francs*, or 51 per cent of the original 11 billion francs.

By contrast, its current stake in Citi is showing a large paper gain.

After selling half its original stake in Citi for a profit of US$1.6 billion** in September 2009, GIC still owns 3.86 per cent of the bank’s ordinary equity – or about 112.095 million shares.

The average cost of those shares was US$29.50 each – after adjusting for a reverse split of Citi shares in May that merged every 10 of its shares into one share – based on information provided by GIC in September 2009.

At yesterday’s opening price of US$39.69 for Citi shares in New York, the shares would be worth about US$4.45 billion, compared to the US$3.31 billion cost of acquiring them, giving GIC a paper profit of US$1.14 billion***, or some 34 per cent.

(*S$8.4bn, **S$1.9bn, ***S$1.3bn)

SPH: Worried investor grumbles

In Media on 26/07/2011 at 1:56 pm

A friend who is a long-term shareholder in SPH tells me that the lack of professionalism by SPH editors and reporters in covering the presidential elections is worrying him:

— a reporter who saw Tony Tan and Tan Cheng Bock at a football match (Tony Tan said he wasn’t there);

— yet the reporter didn’t see Tan Kin Lian who was there;

— a reporter who criticises Tan Lin Lian wrongly  for censoring comments addressed to “TKL for president FaceBook page” yet doesn’t do the same when TT’s team censors comments addressed to his FaceBook page;

— the coverage of TT’s speeches look like something from the Pyongyang Times;

— the TT helping boy photo and report made the incident sound contrived for the media; and

— the absence of stories on other examples of TT’s “independence” from the PAP. Surely he says SPH can find other examples.

He wonders if SPH reporters and editors want to make TT look bad.

My friend is worried that the government will be so disgusted by SPH’s unprofessional attempts in promoting TT that it find ways to curb SPH’s dominance in the print media here. And his investment suffers.

PAPpy’s view of the world

In Uncategorized on 25/07/2011 at 2:54 pm

Someone by the name of Lee SH posted a series of links on a TRE thread showing how well S’pore is doing vis-a-vis the rest of the world. He attributes all this to the PAP.

As the PAP has ceded the Internet to the “lunatic fringe” (the words of Kee Chui Chan), it’s sad that Lee SH’s sterling efforts on behalf of the PAP will be ignored by the PAP.

Lee SH:

tax heaven: Whether bankrupt or not, PAP is without doubt the most unproductive government amongst 1st world countries.We pay maid levy, and what do we get in return for our taxes?We pay COE, ARP, ECP…What do we get in return?We pay electrical tarifs, water tarifs.Where did the tax money go?PAP knows how to tax, but not to return us with benefits from collecting them. The very definition of crooks.

I respectfully disagree. Singapore’s government is one of the best in the world. Let us take health care for example. Singapore spends about 4% of GDP on health care. UK spends 8% and the USA spends 17%. See this link:

Yet Singapore’s health care system is better than theirs.

Who says so?

World Health Organisation ranks Singapore’s health care as 6th best in the world. The UK ranks 18 and the USA ranks 37. See this link:’s_ranking_of_health_care_systems

So we spend less money on health care and end up healthier. A health expert from Canada, Cynthia Ramsay ranks our health care as no. 1 !!!
See this link:

Diet also plays a part. But so does the health care system. So partly as a result of our excellent health care, Singaporeans live long lives. See this link for life expectancy:

According to the CIA Factbook, Singaporeans can expect to live to 82 years compared to 80 for the British and 78 for Americans.

Singapore also shines in other areas – education and its chief forte economics. Newsweek in its Aug 16 issue 2010, ranks our education system 4th best in the world and our economic dynamism at no 1.

Every number I give you has a link to prove what I say is true:

You must also remember that all this was achieved with low government spending and hence low taxes. Yes, you heard that right. Singapore’s taxes are low – amongst the lowest in the world.

We all complain about COE, ERP, GST etc but add all our taxes up and you find the total taxes Singaporeans pay is very low compared to most other First World countries.

For example, our top income tax rate is only 20% as compared to 50% in the UK and 35% in the USA. We have no capital gains tax unlike them. Our GST is only 7% as compared to 20% in the UK.

So after adding all the taxes up where do we stand? Singaporeans on the whole pay very little taxes compared to other First World countries. Once again, I will give you a link to prove what I say is true:

Total taxes as percentage of GDP for Singapore amounted to a mere 14.2% as compared to 39% for the UK, 26.9% for the USA, 42.6% for Italy and so on. We are one of the lowest for a First World Country.

On top of that, most First World countries are going BROKE and have high unemployment (9.3% in the US and Europe)! We are not. We have HUGE reserves while they have HUGE debts. Our government taxes us less but give us better health care, education, economic management than most First World countries. So much for FIRST WORLD PARLIAMENTS.

That is why I think we have one of the best governments in the world.

Depends on which hat you wearing PM

In Corporate governance, Political governance on 25/07/2011 at 7:20 am

“Our interest is not to help the transport companies make big profits. There is no reason for us to do that,” so said the PM on Saturday.

Correct if the cabinet is wearing its politicial hat. SMRT and Comfort Delgro making big profits by gorging commuters lose the PAP votes. Ask Raymond Lim.

But if the cabinet is wearing its shareholder hat, then it is in the interest of the  government to allow these companies to squueze the last cent from the commuting public.

SMRT is a TLC, Temasek owning 54%. “Temasek is an active value-oriented investor … to create and maximise shareholder value,” says its charter.

The S’pore Labour Foundation, a statutory board linked to the NTUC, holds 12% of Comfort Delgro. SLF is Delgro’s single largest shareholder. We all know how stat boards and NTUC affiliates try to maximise their profits.

Whether the PM and his cabinet want the companies to make big profits or not, depends on which hat they are wearing.

Times are bad too for Hongkies

In Economy on 24/07/2011 at 7:33 am

Hong Kong and Singapore have become the top two business locations in the world – ahead of cities like London and New York – a new study by CB Richard Ellis showed. It found that 68.2% of the world’s largest companies had a presence in Hong Kong.

Singapore was a close second with a tally of 67.5%, and Tokyo was third with 63.9%. In fourth position was London, with a score of 63.2%. Shanghai was fifth with 61.4%.

Middle class S’porean faced with stagnating wages but rising transport and property prices, are not impressed by this elevated status.

So what abt the people of the HK? The middle class are in worse shape than us except when it comes to democracy.  

The territory’s middle classes, known locally as the sandwich class because they are squeezed between the rich and the poor, are frustrated by unaffordable property prices and a lack of democracy in government.

Hong Kong enjoys many civil liberties unavailable across the border in China, such as the right to protest. But residents cannot vote directly for their leader or for many legislative seats.

According to a University of Hong Kong opinion survey released last week, dissatisfaction with the government over livelihood conditions has reached the highest level since 1992 …

“What you have is a whole wodge of people who have jobs but are still struggling, ” says Christine Loh, the head of the Civil Exchange think tank and a former legislator.

The sources of discontent are wide-ranging but centre on economic issues such as soaring housing prices, inflation and the wealth gap.

Inflation figures due to be released on Thursday are expected to show the city’s inflation rate stood at 5.2% in June, its highest in almost three years, driven by rising rents and soaring food prices.

Hong Kong imports 90% of its food and much comes from China where pork prices are at a record high.

Home prices rose last 24% last year and are up 12% so far this year as newly affluent mainland Chinese snap up apartments here.

According to a report by Demographia International, Hong Kong property, at 11.4 times gross median annual household income, is the most unaffordable in the world.

Nearly half the population lives in government or subsidised housing and buying their own home is out of reach for many residents.

As regards the very poor (our VB makes his HK counterpart look like Scrooge):

Tam Kin Wai, a retired hospital porter …  lives in a “cubicle home” that is barely 2m (6ft) wide with his wife and 13-year old son in Sham Shui Po. They must share a toilet and kitchen with eight other families. “Living costs are always going up,” he says.

Hey maybe the 60% of voters who voted for the PAP have a pt. Us 40% are the daft ones.

Temasek: 4 senior departures in 9 mths

In Temasek on 24/07/2011 at 7:03 am

When there is an average of one senior departure every 2.25 months in a listed company anywhere in the world,  the board of directors and CEO are under a lot of pressure to explain the departures. Shareholders, investors and the media want to know if there is something amatter with the company, how serious is it, and what are then plans to fix the problem.

But when the company is Temasek (the SWF that invests our money), the board and CEO face no such pressure, it seems.

The CEO of Fullerton Fund Management, fully owned by Temasek, resigned in late October last year. His acting successor left in February this year. “Hsieh Fu Hua, a member of Fullerton’s board of directors and executive director and president at Temasek Holdings, will work closely with Fullerton’s chief investment officer and chief operating officer to guide the firm until a new CEO is appointed,” it was announced.

He is still there it seems. FYI, there are rumours that this unit which manages the money of foreigners suffered badly during the 2007/2008 financial crisis, and the recovery has not helped it much.

This week, two other units had leadership changes.

Charles Ong and Nasser Ahmad quit as co-CEOs of Seatown, the “hedge fund” of Temasek. But Ong is not leaving the Temasek group. Ahmad is reported as leaving to return to the private sector.

Then Francis Rozario resigned as CEO of Temasek’s Fullerton Financial Holdings, the unit that invests in Asian banks.

Again like in the case of Fullerton Fund Mgt, their replacements are from the parent company.

Given the frequency of the changes, surely S’poreans should be told if these changes are a statistical fluke (like several 100-yr or 50-yr floods in the space of 12 mths), or if there is something amiss at the manager of our money?

Fat chance. Pigs will fly or Tan See Jay will get his COE or TKL will get elected as president before any explanation is given.

Yr daughter’s school got this enrichment programme?

In Uncategorized on 23/07/2011 at 7:59 am

For 30 hours of training costing 20,000 yuan ($3,080), women keen to snag a billionaire, millionaire or even just an affluent man learn techniques to make them more attractive, from how to put on make-up in the most flattering way to how to spot a liar by looking at his facial expressions.

Pushy S’poreans of Indian and Chinese origin with attractive daughters should push MoE to introduce this enrivhment programme. Forget Strstraight As to get into Medicine, Law, Oxbridge or an Ivy League university.

This is best way of securing their future.

Even pros don’t read the fine print

In Financial competency on 22/07/2011 at 9:18 am

Barclays recently defeated a claim in London’s High Court by an Italian bank that claimed its practices amounted to fraud. It had the appropriate small print disclaimers in its product contracts.

Moral of wtory– Read the fine print. If you don’t bother, the law will not bother to protect you.

Moral 2: If you read the fine print, but don’t understand it, don’t invest. If you invest, the law also won’t protect you.

Moral 3: The law is always on the side of those with more money.

Coming election & my school days

In Political governance on 22/07/2011 at 6:57 am

While bathing my dogs yesterday, I remembered something from my RI librarian days that has parallels with the coming presidential election.

The day-to-day running of the library was left to elected student leaders. No big deal as all the leaders elected were from the same mould as the typical librarian: quiet, hardworking and never challenging the system. But one yr, when I was one of the leaders, there was a problem.

The problem was that we had the equivalent of Dr Chee Soon Juan (Oh alright, I exaggerate: a Tan Kin Lian) among the junior librarians. There was this hyper-active boy who was extremely bright but “lazy”, and forever challenging authority, i.e. us. He was extremely popular with the other junior librarians for that reason. How he ever got through the selection process to be a librarian still puzzles me to this day.

Anyway a mgt meeting was called to talk abt how we would  work with him if he got elected? The consensus was we couldn’t work with him.  In hindsight, this showed how arrogant and dumb we were. We outnumbered him and could outvote him.

So then could we fix him either before or after the election? Should we campaign against him, warning the junior librarians that they would suffer retribution if they elected him.

Doesn’t this all sound very, very familiar? There is concern that we,”daft” S’poreans will vote in an “unsuitable” president?” Unsuitable” being defined as one who could (note not “will not”) refuse to play by the rules of  those with executive power?

Coming back to my story, after a lot of discussion, it was decided that the best (and only honourable) thing we could do was to let things be, and hope the junior librarians would reject him.

Which in typical S’porean fashion is what they did. They didn’t want a trouble maker as a leader and so betrayed him despite him fighting for their rights, and them egging him on on the quiet.

So come election day, if it is either a three- or four- Tan race, TT would win. The voters will vote against their conscience, not on the merits of the candidates.

Broker likes Wilmar

In Commodities, Uncategorized on 21/07/2011 at 6:22 am

JPMorgan upgrades Wilmar from Neutral to Overweight. It raises target price to S$6.50 from S$5.40.

“We think Wilmar will be able to raise prices in the near term, improving both oilseeds and consumer products margin in 2H11/2012,” citing recent media reports of China removing price controls on cooking oil.

Meanwhile , OCBC retains its Hold call on Wilmar.

Temasek loses 74% of Pakistani investment

In Temasek on 20/07/2011 at 5:22 pm

“According to estimates by Pakistan’s Invisor Securities, Temasek has invested about US$540 million (S$657 million) in NIB and is sitting on a paper loss of about US$400 million.”

This quote appeared as the last sentence of a Reuters article carried by our nation building, constructive Today. The article was abt Francis Rozario resigning as CEO of Temasek’s Fullerton unit, the unit that invests in Asian banks.

Coming back to the loss, this means NIB is worth only US$140m, and that Temasek has an unrealised loss of 74%.

Update at 6.15pm on 20th July 2011: ST has the same story. And the above quote too appeared as the last sentence. Some people were careless in editing the story for us “daft” S’poreans. Interestingly, BT doesn’t report the resignation.

CIMB on property sector

In Property on 20/07/2011 at 9:59 am

We remain ‘neutral’ on the sector, remaining negative on residential and positive on the commercial/hospitality segments.

Our top picks are Keppel Land (‘overweight’, TP: $4.73); Fraser and Neave (‘overweight’, TP: $7.34); and CapitaLand (‘overweight’, TP: $3.62).

Hard to argue with the bearish stance on residential and bullish on retail and commercial.

Elections: One scenario missing Doc

In Political governance on 20/07/2011 at 6:53 am

I read Dr Ang Yong Guan’s three scenarios for the presidential elections and was impressed with his reasoning and chart. I wished he could have analysed one another scenario with two variations:

Three persons given COE

(a) Tony Tan, Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Kin Lian

(b) Tony Tan, Tan Cheng Bock and Tan See Jay.

The puzzle for me is how well TCB would fare when he is the “moderate”. Would those who would otherwise vote for TCB because he is the moderate in a four-horse  race, vote for TT or TKL/ TJS to avoid allowing the person they dislike most getting in? My view is that he could lose his deposit: many of swing voters (estimated at 45% by IPS) would vote tactically.

BTW, Dr Ang if are you reading this, I would have preferred leaving a post on yr blog, But I’m a bit spastic in using the alternatives offered to me,

Reshuffling the chairs aboard Temasek’s “hedge fund”

In Temasek on 19/07/2011 at 7:08 am

Charles Ong and Nasser Ahmad are quitting as co-CEOs of Seatown, the “hedge fund” of Temasek reports Bloomberg.

Mr. Ong, who is also senior managing director of special projects at Temasek, will remain at Temasek. Mr. Ahmad will be returning to fund management.

For the record, Charles Ong was the point man on the Shin Deal that lost billions.

Related postings

Some background info on Tan Jee Say

In Political governance on 19/07/2011 at 6:54 am

According to a CNA report, Tan Jee Say said, as regards the eligibilty criteria, “he was chief executive officer with the title of regional managing director of John Govett (Asia) and its successor company AIB Govett (Asia) from February 1, 1997 to March 6, 2001.”

John Govett in the 1990s was a specialist fund mgr headquarterd in London. It focused on smaller cap Asian shares and had a gd reputation among investors.

Unfortunately in the second half of 1997, things started going badly wrong for Govett. There was an economic crisis in Thailand and the contagion spread to Indonesia and other Asian countries like S Korea. The crisis affected Govett more than it did other fund mgrs because the stocks it invested in, smaller cap companies, fared worse than blue chips in the crisis.  Many “emerging blue chips” failed to survive or were permanently crippled. Often because they lacked the “fat” of their blue chip contemporaries when they had to refinance their loans.

“AIB said the Asian crisis of 1997 to 1998 crippled Govett’s business, which is largely focussed in Asia, and despite ‘substantial restructuring’ the business lacked the scale and was not expected to return to profitability in the near future.”: from an article in November 2003 when AIB sold Govett to Gartmore for a mere 14m pounds sterling.

How to trust “Kee Chiu” Chan?

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 18/07/2011 at 7:28 am

“At the end of the day, what MG Chan, his critics and all of us are aiming for is empowerment. It is that distrust which is holding us back from giving such initiatives our support. I would thus urge that we keep an open mind,” says Andrew Loh.

This is the constructive, nation building ST report on what Chan said.

Sounds to me very similar to what three generations of PAP leaders have been telling us. The 4G poster boy also wants us to confine our criticisms to “constructive” criticisms. This means that we have to accept the premises and assumptions on which PAP policies are founded, confining ourselves to suggestions and ideas on how to make the policies better.

In management speak we are asked to “add bells and whistles”, not empowerment. If it is enpowerment, it is enpowerment within limitations set by the PAP.

As Andrew has admitted, various social activists have said they are doing what he said S’poreans should be doing,”I want to do something. Help me, but I will do it myself.” The problem they face is that the government doesn’t want them to do those things they want to do, and so they face obstacles.

Coming back to Andrew Loh’s quote at the beginning of this post, my problem is “How can I trust someone that is only willing to enpower me if I do the things that his superiors want me to do?”

My second problem abt trusting this minister is that in his history lesson of the Lanfang Republic, he left out two impt facts:

— the republic was founded by Chinese miners who revolted against the Malay sultans who brought them in. The miners were like the Aljunied voters who voted out George Yeo and the other MPs.

— the republic surrenderd to the regional super power. It made no sense for the Chinese to fight the Dutch especially as the Dutch gave considerable internal autonomy to states that surrendered peacefully.

If he is the best and brightest of the 4G, I’m glad that I’m in my late 50s with the ability to live where I want to live. And thanks partly to the first generation of PAP leaders, to live like a king in another country.

More from DBS on S-Reits

In Property, Reits on 17/07/2011 at 9:18 am

Retail Reits are expected to see positive rental reversions going forward, supported by the current positive consumer sentiment.

Frasers Centrepoint Trust (‘buy’, TP: $1.73) is expected to deliver a good set of numbers in the coming quarters, as reconstruction works at Causeway Point have passed the most crucial stage, with committed occupancy at over 99 per cent. In addition, the impending purchase of Bedok mall will act as a re-rating catalyst for the stock.

Mapletree Commercial Trust (‘buy’, TP: $1.05) should also see strong reversions in rental growth of about 10 per cent in the coming quarters, coming off from a first renewal cycle at its VivoCity retail mall.

S-Reits have collectively acquired about $1.9 billion of assets year-to-date, which should start contributing to earnings in the coming quarters.

After two months of relatively flattish distribution per unit, we believe Mapletree Logistics Trust (‘buy’, TP: $1.07) is poised to deliver a strong uptick in earnings momentum, boosted by recently completed acquisitions

FYI, yields for the above trusts are very decent and all three trusts have strong Tai Kors. F&N for Frasers and Temasek for the other two.

Frasers Centrepoint — 6.8%

Mapletree Commercial — 5.7%

Mapletree Log — 6.7%


Inconvenient facts abt Kee Chui Chan’s history lesson

In Political governance on 16/07/2011 at 10:06 am

Did you know that the state founded in 1777 by Chinese miners called the Lanfang Republic came about after they defeated the local Malay sultans who brought them in mine for tin and gold? Given that S’poreans who voted for the WP in Aljunied were told to repent by one LKY, I’m sure that the sultans must havethe same way as he did: ungrateful wretches.

Given the suspicions that M’sia and Indonesia have abt S’pore, isn’t this a tad too silly for the ex-head of the S’pore army and now minister to remind them that Malay land had been seized by Chinese  immigrants? If he ever becomes a minister in the MFA, I will know that we have a daft PM.  

Did you know that the Lanfang Republic surrendered in 1884 to the regional super power in that part of the world? It didn’t make sense to fight the Dutch empire, just as it didn’t make sense for the Malay sultans in Malaya to fight the British.

Especially as the Dutch, like the British in Malaya, allowed states that surrendered peacefully, a large degree of autonomy. In all, it made a lot of sense to surrender to the Dutch without a fight.

DBS on smaller cap S-Reits

In Logistics, Property, Reits on 15/07/2011 at 7:04 am

We see relative value among certain smaller-cap S-Reits. Cache Logistics Trust (‘buy’, TP: $1.11), which currently offers a yield of over 8.0 per cent, is attractive, backed by transparent earnings structure and armed with a low leverage of 26 per cent, having the headroom to acquire further.

Frasers Commercial Trust (‘buy’, TP: $1.05), at a P/B of 0.6 times, is unjustified in our view, given that the yield-enhancing steps taken by management and plans to re-finance its expiring loans should result in future interest savings.

I’m glad someone sess value in FCT where I have a holding. Yields 6.77%.

Odd the timing of fare rise request

In Political governance on 15/07/2011 at 6:38 am

With the government worried that many S’poreans are itching to use the presidential elections to send another signal to the PAP that they remain unhappy with PAP policies (remember DPM’s Teo yellow card abt the difference between electing an MP and a president), the timing of the request for a fare rise by the two tpt cos is strange for two reasons.

Both companies have strong links to the government. SMRT is a TLC, Temasek owning 54%. The S’pore Labour Foundation, a statutory board linked to the NTUC, holds 12% of Comfort Delgro. SLF is Delgro’s single largest shareholder. They shouldn’t be in the business of making people angry with the government when there is an election coming.

Then there is the fact that they had been told that the issue of a price rise would only be addressed at the end of the year, after all the elections. The PTC, in February, and  transport minister Lui Tuck Yew, in June, said that any consideration of fare increases should be done in relation with the opening of the Circle Line’s final two stages in October. This would have meant that this “hot” issue would not have been a major talking point during both elections.

Following the request for a price hike, the “talk cock, sing song” brigade aka the “lunatic fringe”, and responsible bloggers are all over the issue. As the new media space is Injun, Taliban, outlaw and bandit territory all rolled into one,  S’poreans are reminded that we (I too  take the bus and train) that we, commuters, are always being screwed for the benefit of mgt and shareholders. Come the presidential election, at least 40% will not vote for Tony Tan.

So why did the two companies request the rise at this time, when they had been told that October was the earliest date when increases would be considered?

Four explanations. All this action is Wayang. PAP MPs would protest, and the PTC would reject the request before the election. The govmin will tell us it is listening to us, the commuters, and thus make us more amendable to voting for Tony Tan. The new media pundits (rational and looney) would look stupid.

Or the PAP wants to show that it can still shove a  finger into the eye of the ordinary S’porean and still win his vote? Given the GE results, this is a most unlikely explanation unless the PAP leaders are daft.

Or another mess-up by the tpt cos? Incompetent mgt accidentally saboing the government?  SMRT has form in this area; from unguarded depots to scolding commuters for its mistakes to a perceived uncaring attitude towards a badly injured Thai girl.

Or maybe mgt of these companies are anti Tony Tan and the government? They want to fix Tony Tan and the government?  Maybe that dynamic duo of Goh Meng Seng and Tan Kin Lian have friends in high places, and are smarter than we think.

NOL: Underperformer says CLSA

In Logistics, Shipping on 14/07/2011 at 7:11 am

CLSA initiates coverage with a S$1.70 target price, calling the stock “Underperform”.

CLSA says, trading at 1X P/B, “NOL is neither expensive with an average 2012 to 14 ROE of 10.3 per cent nor compelling with past earnings slumps offering investors trough-0.4X P/B as a cyclical entry point.” Earnings forecasts remain materially below consensus in 2011 to 2012, “so until expectations are reset, NOL will underperform.” On NOL’s recent vessel purchase, it says “the fleet renewal provides NOL with an opportunity to remain relevant on European trade, as well as significantly reduce its unit costs”.

For the record, there have been mgt changes over the last few months with experienced mgrs leaving and an ex-general from Temasek joining.

In June NOL had its third executive resignation in less than two months, when Eng Aik Meng, president of APL – NOL’s liner arm – resigned. He will leave APL on Sept 1 and take a new position “outside the transportation industry”. Mr Eng will be replaced by Kenneth Glenn, who is currently based in Shanghai as president of APL’s North Asia region. Mr Glenn has been in the industry for 32 years and joined APL in 2000.

This change comes days after the stepping down of Bob Sappio – head of the shipping line’s Pan- American Trades It is also the second leadership change following news of the replacement of Mr Widdows, with Temasek executive Mr Ng, in April.

NOL executive director Ng Yat Chung will become chief executive officer of NOL when Mr Widdows retires at the end of the year. He is a ex-general, not admiral, from the SAF.

Temasek: Confused

In Temasek on 13/07/2011 at 6:31 am

One of the criticisms that has been made of Temasek is that it does not publicly show the breakdown in performance between its legacy assets (acquired before 31 March 2002) and its post-March 2002 assts when it became a very active investor.  Because Ho Ching became CEO in 2002, this would also show how well Temasek did with her in charge.  Waz her performance like? Do the Merrill Lynchs, Barclays, Shins and ABCs outweigh the StanCharts and Chinese banks; or vice versa?

Well we now have an idea. In its latest annual report, Temasek said, “Investments made since 2002, when we stepped up our exposure in Asia, delivered annualised returns of almost 21% to Temasek”, while investments made before March 2002 delivered annualised returns of 11% over the last nine years.

It also showed that of the S$193bn in portfolio assets as at 31 March 2011, S$100m were post March 2002, while only US$93m were legacy assets.

And in a presentation slide, it said that S$100 in these new assets in 2002 would be worth S$550 today while S$100 in legacy assets would be worth S$270.

(All these also appeared in newspaper ads.)

The numbers look gd.

Problem is that I have conceptual issues linking  this information with the information given on other pages of the report (which indicate, as ST reported, that its recent performance is OK but nothing great), and the presentation. I also have questions on the definitions of certain terms used and the methodolgy used. As I doubt Temasek would entertain questions from me, I will remain confused.

Another problem I have is that our constructive, nation building MSM did not declare Ho Ching an investment genius. On the face of it, 21% annualised returns over nine years  is to be praised, not kept quiet about. At a time when her hubby is having to deal with the anger of many voters over govmin policies and the incompetent arrogance within the PAP, surely playing up the role of Ho Ching is sumething our media should be doing. At least he has an investment genius as his Mrs.

Reminds me of the Sherlock Holmes mystery that he solved by asking the question, “Why didn’t the dog bark?” Why I don’t know.

A problem S’pore & China share

In China, Economy on 12/07/2011 at 7:08 am

In an image entitled Live At The High Place, the photographer and performance artist Li Wei stands at the base of an inverted human pyramid in front of the Sanlitun Village shopping centre in Beijing. On his shoulders are balanced four people; on theirs, six more. The human sculpture portrays the impact of China’s one-child policy – as a generation of only children, now adults, contemplate looking after increasing numbers of older relatives. BBC report

In S’pore it was a two-child policy and “babies are for graduate mums only” (OK I exaggerate on the latter, but you know what I mean) but the effect is still the same.

To solve this goof-up, the government then introduced the FT policy, except that FTs turned out in many cases to be Foreign Trash (they are veerry cheap) rather than the Foreign Talents. Now we are waiting to see how this FT balls-up will be solved. What with Tharman supervising the manpower ministry, I am reasonably optimistic something will be done that will satisfy the people. Especially since at least 40% of the  voters are angry with the FT policy in its present form.

Six yrs is a long time on the Internet

In Internet on 11/07/2011 at 3:05 pm

In selling MySpace for US$35m, six years after buying it for US$580m, Rupert Murdoch admitted that he got it wrong. FaceBook rules the social media for now.  Six yrs ago, he was hailed as a genius.

Another PAP MP says PM talking rubbish

In Political governance on 11/07/2011 at 6:29 am

Newbie PAP MP Vikram Nair was quoted as saying,”Don’t focus too much on the 40 percent that didn’t vote for you. We have to remember and keep in mind the interests of the 60 percent that did.”

Gee, and his boss, the PM told us that he (the PM) listens to us 40-percenters. Not only did he say that,  but at least three ministers are walking the PM’s talk.

Khaw tells us he can’t sleep well because he is trying to solve the housing problems, a legacy of his predecessor. The tpt minister is trying to improve the bus system and the health minister is trying to come up with new policies that voters will like. Even retired LKY is trying to help out: by keeping quiet.

If this newbie MP is correct, then PM, these ministers and LKY should give the finger to us 40-prercenters because we didn’t vote for the  PAP. But fortunately for the PAP, they, unlike this newbie, are not stupid. They know that there is the presidential election a’coming. And us 40-percenters can make a difference.

Anyway along with Ms Kate Spade, Ms Foo, “Saving babies =NS” Doctor, and “I don’t respect those earning less than me” Doctor, he shows that the PAP’s system of selecting MPs is not working as well as the PAP claims it is. They represent between a quarter to a third of the newbie PAP MPS, and I am to believe that the PAP gets the best people to become MPs?

Might as well believe that TKL was never associated with PAP policies or that the other two Tans have overnignt become independent of the PAP.

Dad’s coming to help out

In Uncategorized on 10/07/2011 at 9:08 am

Eighty-year old Rupert Murdoch is expected to arrive in London this weekend to take charge of dealing with the phone-hacking crisis that has engulfed his News International group’s UK operations. His son James is the CEO in the UK.

Nice to know that daddy is always around to clean up the mess that his son is involved in. But then daddy chose his son as UK CEO.

TKL: Ain’t NTUC & PAP like “lips to teeth”?

In Political governance on 10/07/2011 at 8:41 am

“I can be independent. I have never been a minister or a member of parliament. I am not associated with the past policies of the PAP,” says TKL.

The obvious point of rebuttal is that since the 1970s until 2008, he was a member of the PAP, and possibly for most of that period was a cadre, not an ordinary member. So how can he not be associated with the PAP?

But there is a more serious (and related) rebuttal to his comments.

He has played up (rightly) his experience as CEO of NTUC Income for 30 years. But isn’t NTUC Income part of the NTUC? And isn’t the NTUC aligned with the PAP? So aligned that the sec-gen of NTUC, Deaf Frog Lim, is a cabinet minister? As was his predecessor, Cry Baby Lim, until recently. And what abt the PAP MPs that are employed by the NTUC?

“On this 50th anniversary of NTUC, it is timely to recapitulate this symbiotic relationship between NTUC and PAP. Together, we are partners in nation-building,” said the president of NTUC earlier this year. NTUC PAP

NTUC employees cannot have anything to do with opposition parties, so much so that a well-known blogger (then working in Income) claimed to have passed up the chance to meet his hero JBJ.

NTUC and PAP are like “lips to teeth”, and TKL had high positions in both organisations.

So how can TKL claim that he is “not associated with the past policies of the PAP”? He was a PAP member, possibly a cadre. He was a very senior executive in the NTUC which is in a ” symbiotic relationship” with the PAP.

He is doubly “associated” or damned.

Nothing dishonourable abt TKL positioning himself as the candidate that 20% of the electorate will blindly vote for.  He, after all, resigned from the PAP in 2008, unlike the other Tans who did so only recently.

But he shouldn’t try to rewrite history by saying, “I am not associated with the past policies of the PAP.”

It makes it harder for the swing voters (45% of the electorate) to trust his statements on other issues. Christian swing voters might also recall that Peter denied he knew Jesus three times.

Election donations: Be careful, very careful

In Political governance on 08/07/2011 at 6:37 am

On FaceBook, Tan Kin Lian recently wrote: Some people want to donate to my campaign, but they prefer to be anonymous. The election rules require all donations to be from Singapore citizens and to be recorded. I suggest that they can ask a friend (who is a Singaporean) to make the donation – if they do not wish to be named. (I understand that for some good reasons, they may wish to be anonymous).

I don’t know what he means but I know what three persons told me what they tot it meant. Two tot it meant that it was OK for them to get someone else to make a donation, and for them to reimburse that person. A third person told me that based on what TKL said, it was OK for her to give someone money on condition that that person make a donation in that person’s name.

I had to disabuse them of their beliefs.  A “donor” cannot get a reimbursement or an advance payment from the person asking him to make the donation. If there is a reimbursement or an advance payment, then both parties would get into serious trouble if the authorities find out.

The whole purpose of the legislation regulating political donations is to ensure transparency: no foreign money and a $10,000 limit a S’porean for each calender year. So if Ms B asks Mr A to donate money and reimburses  Mr A, the legislation gets circumvented because the donor is Ms B but the records show that it is Mr A. Mr A is covering up for Ms B. Likewise if Ms B gives Mr A money and tells him to donate in his name.

Don’t play play. Want to donate, do it openly. And don’t allow yr name to be used by another person.

Is S’pore’s economy overheating?

In Economy on 07/07/2011 at 7:02 am

According to the chart in this article, not yet. But the amber lights are flashing for S’pore and Thailand.

HK, India, Indonesia and Vietnam are overheated.

The amber lights are not yet flashing for the  Philippines, China and S Korea, while Malaysia and Taiwan are in the green light zone.

It was an honest mistake, really

In Wit on 06/07/2011 at 7:17 am

I never tot anything could top the recent misadventures of Rin Tin Rin (or Kate Spade Tin) or MG Chan or Nathan (asking us to pay him to tell us what he did when he was in office). With soldiers like these, the PM does not need enemies.

But the unauthorised Lady Gaga rip-off by the National Day Parade (NDP) organisers is simply awesome.

For starters, it was bad. Judge for yrself. I wonder abt the rest of the show, if the intro is so bad.

Next, the organisers didn’t get authorisation to modify the lyrics. According to them, they didn’t realise they had to. What an indictment of S’poreans’ attitude towards intellectual property that the organisers of the national event of the year and their juniors didn’t know the law on intellectual property.

So unless they get approval, the song can’t be used, which is no bad thing.

Anyway, with clowns like these organising the national day parade, what hope is there that the housing, flooding and other problems that matter to S’poreans can be solved?

Feel the need for sumething different?

In Uncategorized on 05/07/2011 at 10:24 am

Check out Nicci’s quirky sketches.

Make sure you click “Gallery”.

FTR: I know her dad but I found this site without his help.

Susan Lim and the UAE

In Uncategorized on 04/07/2011 at 9:35 am

According to this report,  there was a “complaint from the United Arab Emirates accusing a group of Singapore doctors, including [Susan] Lim”. The United Arab Emirates’ Health Ministry settled this billing dispute with Singapore in 2008 after the fees to about 100 UAE patients were halved to S$17.2m.

The presidential election & the Opposition

In Political governance on 04/07/2011 at 7:31 am

The opposition parties have been pretty quiet about the coming presidential elections.

Hopefully, they are keeping quiet until they know whether there will be be a contest or not. They must still be recovering from their strenous efforts during the GE, and rightly don’t want to waste energy.

Assuming that at least one of the two poorer Tans will be allowed to stand against the silver-spooned Tan, and TKL doesn’t have a change of mind, this is the message the four leading opposition parties (Danny’s friends, Nicole’s mates, the SPP and the WP) should articulate, if they want to fix the PAP.

“Fellow S’poreans, all the presidential candidates are eminently suited to perform the discretionary duties of the president as defined by the ruling PAP. These duties, the ruling PAP have defined as “custodial”. not “executive”. and according to the PAP do not make the presidency a rival centre of power to the government of the day.

‘Seeing, the very limited role of the office, voters should use this opportunity to send a strong message to the PAP that they are STILL unhappy with the policies of the PAP .

‘Vote for the candidate that you think least represents the views of the PAP. Vote wisely.”

Waz new in investing?

In Financial competency, Financial planning on 02/07/2011 at 8:46 am

End of the world funds otherwise known as tail risk or black swan funds.

Although the names tail risk funds and black swan funds are often used interchangeably, they are distinct. Tail risk events are situations that, while conceivable, are highly unlikely based on mathematical modeling. By contrast, a black swan — a concept popularized by Nassim N. Taleb’s 2007 book “The Black Swan” — is an event that models fail to predict.

This piece explains the latest fad to hit the US and which will very soon come the wayof private banking clients here.

So how do such Armageddon funds work? Take a situation like the collapse of China’s economy, an event considered highly unlikely. While most American investors do not own Chinese stocks, real estate or currency, the fear is that a shock to China would spread to the rest of the world. As the stock markets fell, a tail risk or black swan fund would profit because it owned the options to sell shares in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index at far higher levels. The more the index dropped, the more valuable those options would become.


Behind yr payments to Citi?

In Uncategorized on 01/07/2011 at 10:01 am

Thank the government that this is not Indonesia.

Indon police allege Citi debt collectors beat to death a Platinum card holder who owed abt S$10,000.

The greed of president Nathan?

In Political governance on 01/07/2011 at 8:40 am

My anger boileth over. When he was in Bahrain sometime ago, Mr Nathan said that he will  reflect on his 12 years in office and the feedback he has received,in a book that he is writing. One of the items in the book will be his thoughts on how the presidency should be redefined. The book will be coming out in September. 

The more I think abt it, the angrier I get. Not only was he hawking a book, but he was telling us (the taxpayers) to pay him for a book that will tell us what he did when president.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have never grumbled abt the president’s salary relative to his duties of security guard. It was his gd fortune and that’s that.

But asking me to pay him to tell me what he was doing at my expense (I pay tax) shows that he is a greedy, gasping man.

I hope he proves me wrong by making the book available on-line for free. For those who want a hardcopy, donate the proceeds (less printing and marketing costs) to charity. He did that on a previous book.