Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

Macau: NO FTs as croupiers, dealers

In Casinos, Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 30/06/2012 at 7:01 am

And local poly provides training to work in casinos.

Citizenship has its privileges in Macau (and there is no NS).

Yet casinos are still expanding in Macau despite not having cheap FTs as croupiers and dealers.

Must have lessons for S’pore?

 [I]t’s a world where young people like Tommy hold all the cards. With the law favouring local workers, jobs are handed to the polytechnic’s graduates on a plate. Many receive offers of employment from casinos long before they finish their courses.


FCOT: Great insight!

In Property, Reits on 29/06/2012 at 6:31 am

“FCOT sold a S$10 mil yielding KeyPoint for S$360 mil and bought a S$10 mil yielding Caroline for S$113 mil!”

Effectively it’s get the same yield but reducing the capital used by 31%, releasing the balance of 69% for hopefully more proftable use. Great financial engineering. F&N’s chairman should tell his sis-in-law at Temasek to pay F&N and FCOT to teach Temasek financial engineering.

And great insight by Investment Moats: worthy of a Buffett.

Bad PR by FCOT. It should enhance shareholder value be publicising its financial egineering skills.

Though must point out that the returns in Caroline’s case are in A$. Nevertheless …

But given that FCOT was gifted the Alexandra Technopark by F&N when F&N was trying to salvage its investment in FCOT during the financial crisis, there’s a danger that FCOT may have to return the favour. I was surprised that F&N shareholders did not kick up a fuss as the valuation then looked rather low, even taking into account the crisis. But then the property is “peanuts’ in relation to F&N’s assets. So there’s a gd chance that F&N would not ask FCOT for a favour.

As to the best use of the Keypoint money, redeem the convertibles in full: increasing leverage. Rely on F&N’s balance sheet: maybe pay it a fee for “renting”. Worst case: rights issue again. But then I’m a bit of a gambler (like the cowboys and cowgals at Temasek), even if I invest in Reits for the yield. Some habits die hard.

CHC: Charity, Denial & Persecution

In Accounting, Humour on 29/06/2012 at 6:08 am

(Or “Answering some issues raised by the CHC case”, or “Can’t blame CHC members from being defensive” or “Netizens rushing to crucify before hearing the evidence”)

One question that has been asked on the internet, “What happens if all the members of City Harvest Church sign a resolution giving retrospective approval to what the pastor and the others charged are alleged to have done? Can they escape the consequences of the charges and the Charity Commissioner’s findings?”

The answer is: Even if all the church members agree to give their retrospective approval, nothing changes. By becoming a charity, CHC becomes subject to the Commissioner of Charities, and all that entails. It is no longer a private organisation, and the laws and regulations relating to charities applies. After all by becoming a charity, CHC deprives tax benefits: in return it has to play by the law and the Coc’s regulations. These include not misusing the chariy’s funds. Cannot suka suka choose what to obey. Not their grandfather’s money: it’s the money of Harry’s Law. Harry’s Law is more like obeying God: cannot pick and choose what to obey. It’s either God’s way or the highway to Hell. Same for Harry’s Law.

Another question raisen on the internet is, “Has the CoC defamed a CHC executive committee member?

The man is in denial. CoC is justified in giving details of its findings. Only if he can prove that at least one of the CoC’s findings is wrong, can he win a defamation suit.

Are the church members supporting Kong and the others in denial, and too defensive in defending Kong, wife and friends?

Those netizens who are anti-CHC, Kong, the others charged, Auntie Sun and the “prosperity” gospel can reasonably argue that the members should accept the CoC’s findings.

But as the appeal process has not even begun, church members can reasonably point out that their support does not mean they are in denial.

They are waiting to see the evidence. After all, netizens are always telling S’poreans that, “The PAP government is always wrong, never ever right”. So why should it be any different in this case? Because netizens don’t like pastor Kong, Auntie Sun, the CHC, and the “prosperity” gospel, so everyone got to trust the PAP govt that it does no wrong

And anyway, only charges have been filed against the pastor and friends. They have yet to be found guilty, and the law says that a person is innocent until proven guilty. And the bar is very high: beyond reasonable doubt, not on the balance of probabilities. The latter is the standard the CoC uses in his investigations.

So those who want to scourge, give gall wine, crown with thorns, crucify and spear CHC, Kong, the others charged, Raunchy Auntie and the “prosperity” gospel, hold your instruments of torture and death. Bit too early to drag them to slow and lingering deaths by dragging them behind Satan’s chariots.

Let Harry’s Law pass judgement first.

Seriously, it’s sad to see so many netizens waste and squander the after-effects of the unmasking of STOMP’s (and SPH’s) fabrications. Juz because they don’t like Kong, wifey, friends and the “prosperity” gospel doesn’t mean they should behave like the journalists and editors of the constructive, nation-building media at their howling, baying, snarling best. 

Only the PAPpies will be happy: netizens are vigilante comboys and cowgals that S’poreans have to be protected against.

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.

Korean and Jap exchanges are eating SGX’s lunch in ASEAN

In Uncategorized on 28/06/2012 at 6:08 am

Korea Exchange, which runs the world’s 13th-largest stock market, is helping ASEAN countries set up exchanges in return for stakes in the bourses. It helped Laos (last year) and Cambodia (recently) open their stock market trading platforms.

The Cambodian government has a 55%ish stake in the Cambodia Securities Exchange, while the Korea Exchange which provided information-technology systems, owns the rest. It holds 49% in Lao Securities Exchange, while the Laotian government owns 51%.

It is hoping to do the same for Myanmar even though the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Daiwa Securities had negotiated a “memorandum of understanding” to establish a stock exchange and develop the country’s capital markets.

Korea Exchange said that it would do its best to win the Myanmar government’s confidence until Myanmar makes a final decision and enters into a binding agreement for the establishment of its exchange.

True, these are “peanut” deals, but they are the kind of deals one would expect SGX to do given that these nations are ASEAN members. And anyway, while SGX may think it is a global player, it hasn’t done anything globally. It made a dumb bid for ASX (dumb because no-one except SGX and ASX mgts tot the Oz authorities would allow the bid*); and had to close its dark pool joint venture Chi-East in May as business volumes were weak and unlikely to improve.


*The bid would have benefitted ASX’s shareholders, in the main brokers using ASX’s trading platform. Brokers are damned gd at getting non-brokers particularly foreigners to buy into them or their investments. British brokers made their fortunes in the 1980s (including one David Cameron’s father) by selling out to, in the main, US banks.

Happened in India recently.   Private equity firms (think Americans again), which had invested in Indian stock brokers between 2005 and 2008, are in the main, struggling to exit these investments as current valuations of broking firms are less than half of what they were during the stake purchases due to a drop in profits on account of declining trading volumes and shift in the business model to a capital-driven one.

SGX learns from FAS?

In Footie on 27/06/2012 at 9:13 am

(Or “Uniquely S’porean? Rewarding Failure Again”)

A few weeks ago, the ang moh FT CEO of SGX got his contract renewed for another three years. This despite:

— Making a spectacular takeover bid for ASX which no-one tot would succeed. It didn’t because, as widely expected, the Oz authorities blocked the deal. 

— Failing to get mega-listings. MU is not listing here despite reports that SGX made huge concessions on corporate governance to attract MU. Apparently the central bank was not amused with the concessions. Now even KL is ahead of us in the Asian listings league. S’pore Tak Boleh?

— SGX’s dark pool joint venture Chi-East closed in May as business volumes were weak and unlikely to improve.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong exchange agreed to buy L.M.E. for £1.38 billion (US$2.16 billion). It outbid several American rivals, including NYSE Euronext, for control of the 135-year-old London firm. SGX found the valuations too rich to play. To be fair, so do investors in the HKEx. Its share price dropped. But its plans to introduce Yuan-based contracts and Chinese players into the LME could work. Then the LME price would be cheap*.  

So one would have tot it would be about time for the ang moh FT to move on. Nope, he stayed on. Juz like in the case of the Lions where the ang moh FT coach remained despite years of underperformance while the players were moved on.

FYI, the number two at SGX is an ethnic Indian FT. The S’porean who was his equal moved on earlier this year. Not that the S’pore Gan was that gd: he allowed all the S-Chips to list.

Related posts:

*Update: FYI, HKSx paid 180 times last yr’s earnings, or 46 times forward earnings.

If SamL’s a vandal, are these not vandals too?

In Political governance on 27/06/2012 at 6:01 am

The police took the antics of the Sticker Lady very seriously, explaining a few weeks ago how the police had to divert substantial resources to identify the culprit behind the case saying, “vandalising public property is a very irresponsible act”. And that it cost money, time and effort to clean up after her.

Err so how come nothing has been done in my private housing estate since then to clean up acts of vandalism that would put the lady to shame, and to arrest the culprits?

It’s not as though it would be difficult to identify the vandals. They left their telephone numbers behind.

Let me explain. Within a 50m of my home, property agents and money lenders have been sticking up ads prominently displaying their telephone numbers. These are pasted on the public property, on electricity boxes, They read

Legal Loans : 90158055/ 84692899

Legal Loans : 93910045/ 98955254

Legal Moneylender: 90158055/ 93910045

Urgent buyer [of property] …/ Serious doctor …: 82855947

They make the place look like a slum (OK, OK I exaggerate a lot, but the public property has been turned into free ad billboards for money lenders and property agents at no benefit to the taxpayer). And have no artistic merit at all. They are juz black print on white paper.

I can understand the importance of zero tolerance policing and the arrest of the Sticker Lady in the context of zero tolerance policing. I cannot understand why property agents and money lenders are exempt from zero tolerance policing rules. Nor why these stickers are not removed. In M’sia, property agents and money lenders pay the police bribes to ensure they are allowed to put up illegal ads. Same here too? After all, if ex senior Home Team leaders are accused of offering contracts in return for sex, what should junior officers do?

Or is it OK to put up “commercial” stickers that deface public property but not arty-crafty scribblings? Or are property agents and lenders different? Like Woolly Wally Woffles’s employee who escaped prosecution, they work for the rich?

Penultimately, a wicked tot. If the money lenders and property agents are arrested, will “The PAP govmin are bastards” netizens (Andrew Loh, SG Hard Truths and Fabrications about the PAP are not in this group of “The PAP are always wrong”) rush to their defence saying, “The ads are so artistic. They are great examples of minimalist chic: black on white”.

Finally an apology to Sam the Sticky Lady. When I read the ST report where her dad described her as being traumatised by her arrest, I tot, “What a spoilt brat who thinks that she entitled to break the law with impunity. Thinks S’pore is her grandfather’s property when she is not a Lee or Tan”. But in view of the revelations of the culture of deceit and fakery at STOMP, ST could be misrepresenting the facts about how she felt on being arrested.

If China slows down, ASEAN beneficiaries

In China, Commodities, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 26/06/2012 at 6:22 am

(Or “What stocks, ETFs to buy”)

A  China slowdown need not be bad for everyone. Mr Frederic Neumann, Regional Economist at HSBC, distinguishes between hard and soft commodities. A Chinese rebalancing could actually be good for soft commodities*, such as wheat and soybeans*, if household spending were to rise.

Brazil’s loss, in other words, could be Argentina’s gain. Other commodities, such as palm oil**, used in processed foods, may also do better.

That could benefit countries such as Malaysia, which has ramped up palm oil*** production in recent years, and Indonesia**** – although the latter also produces hard commodities including coal.

On the other side of the ledger, some big oil importers***** could benefit from the weaker prices that a Chinese slowdown might produce.

*Think Olam, Wilmar, Golden Agri, Bumitama Agri, Kencana Agri and First Resources

**Think Wilmar and the other SGX plantation stocks.

***Think Felda, Sime Darby, United Plantations, IOI, Genting Plt, KL Kepong, TSH, Oriental.

****Think Astra Agro and London Sumatra Indonesia. Any other Indon listed plantations cos to think about? Do remember that the SGX-listed planters are mainly Indonesian planters and many of them are relatively new, giving them an advantage over the older Malaysian plantation players. Malaysian planters have also bought land in Indonesia partly because land in Malaysia is getting too expensive even in East Malaysia.

*****Think ETFs on Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Waz petition lady’s game?

In Political governance on 25/06/2012 at 4:31 am

(Or “Were lawyers in the past so dumb and cowardly?”

The court case on whether the PM has unfettered discretion to call a by-election will soon be heard. Despite it being overtaken by events, the petitioner, Mdm Vellama, is continuing her suit after the AG refused her request for the AG not to ask for costs if she withdrew her petition.

She has juz doubled yet again. She will give up her court case if PM makes declaration on by-elections in Parliament . The AG has told her to bugger off (of course politely). She had juz raised the stakes, wanting PM to testify.

Waz her game? Is she a principled, brave citizen? A publicity hound? Qui lan lady? Clueless? Or juz badly advised?A worrying tot is that her love of doubling her legal “bets” could mean that she is a compulsive gambler by nature.  

To recap, she had asked the court whether the PM has unfettered discretion to call a by-election in Hougang. She was afraid that she might not have an MP to seek help from. 

Her lawyer helpfully pointed out that thrice, no by-elections were called:

— In 1983, when the Havelock seat became vacant, then PM Lee Kuan Yew said: “There is no reason why the people of Havelock should have a by-election.”

— In November 1986, the JBJ was disqualified from holding the Anson seat. In his answer to opposition member Chiam See Tong’s query in Parliament, Minister S Dhanabalan said : “He  has been convicted of a criminal offence and fined and sent to jail. They [Anson constituents] have to learn to live with the consequences of their choice.”

— In December 1986, the Geylang West seat became vacant after its MP, Teh Cheang Wan, committed suicide. Then Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong explained that there would be no by-election in the ward because the government was “contemplating introducing a Bill to form Town Councils.”

I wonder why no-one had petitioned the court to get the government to call a by-election until this year? Surely there were lawyers* at that time who are as smart and brave as Ravi** ? As Chiam was an MP on two of the above instances, perhaps someone should ask him why he never bothered to bring a case? Does he agree that the PM has an unfettered discretion on whether to call a by-election or not to fill a vacancy?

Whatever it is, the lady is likeky to end up with a huge bill to pay: AG’s costs.

As AG has rightly pointed out, a by-election has been called and held, so there no need for judge to decide anything. The petitioner is wasting court’s time and should be “punished” (my word, not AG’s) by having costs awarded against her. Technically, AG is right.

As a trained lawyer who did some court work as a very junior lawyer, I think the original petition was brought too early. The petition should have been brought on 16th May, three months*** and a day after the was seat vacated, the day incidentally that PM announced the date of the by-election.

But the lady was too impatient it seems to have an MP to look after her needs. Or was she badly advised? Her lawyer was the same guy who advised TRE to fight a request from LKY’s younger son to remove some defamatory material. He wanted to go to court and argue that the request was unconstitutional. TRE settled instead without paying anything, and on fair terms. If it had gone to court, the legal bills would have huge, win, lose or draw.

Let’s hope that when costs are awarded against her, the people who promised to fund the petitioner’s costs will folk out the money. Otherwise the lady petitioner may have to clean the AG’s offices for free for the rest of her life to avoid being made a bankrupt. Her day job is a cleaner, remember.

Doubtless she will be thanking Ravi the lawyer while she cleans and sweeps the Chambers. And doubtless, the other Ravi, P the social worker, will be trying to help her.


*There was JBJ who although, not very smart, was brave. And there was Francis Seow, a former Solictor-General, a good litigator with the brain of an intellectual, and the heart of a lion. He is still alive though not in practice. He is a Harvard Fellow, wanted by the S’pore government on some tax charge. He was detained under the ISA for a short while in the late 1980s.

**The lawyer who argued that a drug mule who refused to testify against an alleged drug lord should have his conviction set aside because the state should have compelled said drug mule to testify against said drug lord: fortunately the judges saw thru the Alice-in-Wonderland logic of lawyer Ravi, even if he and other “Free the mule” groupies didn’t.

***Three months is some kind of marker among activists because of a previous constitutional provision that a by-election had to be held three months after the seat was cacated. This requirement was later removed. I’m simplifying the issue.

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

“30-yr” GIC investment Citi almost junk

In Banks, GIC on 23/06/2012 at 9:25 am

15 major banks* (including another GIC investment UBS)  were hit with credit downgrades on Thursday that could do more damage to their profitability, credit worthiness and further unsettle equity markets.

The credit agency, Moody’s Investors Service, which warned banks in February that a downgrade was possible, cut the credit scores of banks to new lows to reflect new risks that the industry has encountered since the financial crisis.

Citigroup was among the hardest hit. After the downgrades, the bank stands barely above the minimum for an investment grade rating, a sign of the difficult business conditions it faces.

Banks have struggled to improve their profits against the backdrop of the European sovereign debt crisis, a weak American economy and new regulations. The downgrades may amplify their problems. With lower ratings, creditors could charge the banks more on their loans. Big clients may also move their business to less-risky companies, further affecting earnings.

Wonder if LKY, who made the 30-yr comment, has repented making the comment?


Citi bitches: Citi said in a statement that Moody’s approach “fails to recognize Citi’s transformation over the past several years,” adding that “Citi strongly disagrees with Moody’s analysis of the banking industry and firmly believes its downgrade of Citi is arbitrary and completely unwarranted.”

But more woes: Citigroup seen as vulnerable to emerging markets’ currency movements Charles Peabody, an analyst for Portales Partners, estimated on “Bloomberg Surveillance” that $3 billion to $5 billion of Citigroup’s book value was vulnerable to changes in the value of the Mexican peso and the Brazilian real

Good news: It claims it is boosting revenue at its corporate and investment banking unit in with rising fees from debt underwriting and cash management as initial public offerings shrink


*Bank of America, Citigroup Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, UBS, HSBC, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, Royal Bank of Canada, and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Trying to con GIC?

In Energy, GIC on 22/06/2012 at 2:53 pm

On 5 June 2012, Australia said it would delay environmental approval for a A$10 billion (US$9.72 billion) coal project proposed by India’s GVK Power & Infrastructure, a potential setback in the company’s bid to take advantage of India’s need for coal.

Well it was reported on 19 June that GVK Power and Infrastructure is seeking to raise US$500 million to US$600 million by selling a stake in its Singapore arm and is in talks with Government of Singapore Investment Corp for a potential deal, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The Indian developer of airports, power projects, roads and mines will sell a minority stake in GVK Coal Developers (Singapore) Pte Ltd, the sources said, adding that a deal may be a precursor to a Singapore listing of the unit that holds coal assets in said Australia.

Tricky buggers these Indians.

Double confirm: Netizens are middle-class elitist tribalists with short attention spans

In Political governance on 22/06/2012 at 6:14 am

Sometime ago I ranted abt how when manual workers and clerks had sex with an underaged FT prostitute, claiming they didn’t know, and were jailed, no-one kicked up a fuss on the internet. But when middle class professionals were charged with a similar offence, netizens rushed to their defence, saying that it was unfair to them because they didn’t know: the gal lied to those that asked. Anyway, she was a prostitute, and the law should not protect people like her. The self-appointed People’s Voice, one TKL, even compared sex with a minor to baking a cake. OK, OK, I exaggerate but juz a little.

I was told, “Oh, no public awareness when these people were charged. Now different leh”. Well last Saturday ST reported that a 60-year old “odd job worker” had been jailed for having sex with an underage FT Vietnamese prostitute.

So far, I have not seen any netizen saying “unfair”. Could it be because he didn’t ask her about her age? Or could it be that netizens don’t read ST especially on a Saturday? Or could it be that because it’s a 60-year old “odd job worker”  (dirty old man), they don’t care? He is not a young, middle-age middle class professional.

Shouldn’t the People’s Voice be standing up or raising questions on the plight of this old man and the others who are not middle class? 

My wider point is that netizens must be more self-aware of their assumptions, prejudices etc when they yack. If they are not aware, it makes it easier for the PAP government to dismiss them as “noise”.  Example: “Turning to the case of the 25-year-old, dubbed the sticker-lady, who was arrested for vandalism, Mr Shanmugam said there are no hard and fast rules on what’s considered art on public buildings. He said the government must look at the consensus of the majority and how the majority would like society to be structured.” He is giving the finger to netizens calling for leniency for her.

They should choose the battles they want to fight. Fighting to change the law on commercial sex with an underage prostitute might be a battle worth fighting (not to me though), but it is not worth fighting for selective justice. Especially when the accused are “one’s kind”.

And once having chosen something to fight abt, be persistent. No more has been heard abt the sex with a minor; nor abt the “sticky lady”. It seems netizens got short attention spans, and are always “moving on” for someone else to yak about. If the PAPpies cotton onto this, they will sit tight with mouths shut until the netizens get tired of posturing and echoing. Maximum period of attention span seems to be two weeks.

Finally if they want to change society, they “must look at the consensus of the majority and how the majority would like society to be structured” as an indication of how hard to push. Stanley Kubrick made films that packed the cinemas and got rave reviews from art-house critics because he knew the art of making movies at the edge of public tastes: they accepted his ideas because they were juz beyond their comfort zone. He didn’t push them deep into their zone of discomfort, juz slightly beyond their comfort zone.

Katong property more valuable than Hawaiian island

In Property, Uncategorized on 21/06/2012 at 7:17 pm

So the the Katong home of the late Liem Sioe Liong, one of Indonesia’s richest men, is valued at approximately S$100 million, according to a report in Indonesia’s TEMPO Interactive. The property is 86,000 sq ft.

It was reported yesterday that the billionaire boss of technology giant Oracle is to buy 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Larry Ellison’s successful bid is unknown, but the asking price for the 141 sq mile (365 sq km) was said to be between US$500m and $600m

Reminded me that in the late 1980s, the grounds of the Imperial Palace in downtown Tokyo was said to be worth all the land in California. Australia sold part of the land its embassy was on and paid off half of its foreign debt.

Antidote to Mark Mobius’ optimism on Europe etc

In Emerging markets, Vietnam on 21/06/2012 at 9:24 am

For the last two years, Mr. Grant, a managing director based in Florida at a regional investment bank, has been predicting the bankruptcy of Greece and a cascade of chaos across the global economy, attracting quite a following on Wall Street in the process.

“Greece will be forced to return to the drachma and devalue, and the default will cause bank runs and money flowing into Germany and the United States as the only viable safe haven bets,” he declared the day before Sunday’s Greek elections, irrespective of which party would win. “Greece will default because there is no other choice regardless of anyone’s politics.”

This recession will hurt emerging markets (Mark Mobius is bullish on them especially Vietnam, a great favourite). And our nation-building constructive media are full of doom and gloom for S’pore if the Eurozone breaks up. Err whatever happened to the scolding that a PAP apologist, Kishore Mahbubani, gave the Lady for visiting Europe implying that she should have visited Asian countries first (he forget she visited Thailand). Well Asia may be rising but Europe is still very, very important. Anyway, he should realise that there is such a thing as gratitude, despite this, “Gratitude is a disease of dogs that is not transmittable to humans”. It was said by a French investment banker after he was ousted from chairmanship of Italian insurer with which he was associated for over 40 years.

Without European support of her cause, she would most likely be dead now. Asian countries didn’t care about her or her cause.

Wonder if this will ever happen here?

In Uncategorized on 20/06/2012 at 6:30 am

(Or “Benefit of doubt for Woolly Wally even when the reported facts point to his guilt?) 

Following the twists and turns of the tale of Woolly Wally Woffles especially the apparent factual inconsistency(details below) and how the AG’s “clarifications” have been challenged, made me wonder if S’pore’s administration of justice could ever become first-world: by admitting that goof-ups can happen.

I read that Britain’s Serious Fraud Office said that the way it had handled some seized material in an investigation into the role of a property developer in the collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing “was flawed and thus unlawful”

It has now dropped the investigation and is likely to have to pay serious damages.

Has the identity of driver been established?

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. But reports from the constructive, nation-building media on what happened in court give the impression (see words in red) that Woolly Wally was the driver. On the face of these reports, Woolly Wally Woffles was the driver (Otherwise why get someone to take the rap for him?) unless the local media got it wrong (Always a possibility despite Yaacob wanting us netizens to use it as an example.).

Note the government has not complained to the media about the accuracy of these reports. So we can accept them as an accurate reflection of what was said in court.

So is this a case where a rich and prominent person gets treated with kid gloves in an investigation even when the reported facts point to his guilt? 

— CNA carried this report:

13 th June 2012

SINGAPORE: Prominent plastic surgeon Woffles Wu Tze Liang has been ordered to pay the maximum fine of S$1,000 for getting an elderly employee to take the rap for him for a speeding offence.

The 52-year-old had abetted Mr Kuan Kit Wah, then 76, to provide false information to the police in November 2006.

The car, belonging to Wu, was travelling at 91-kilometer (km) per hour on Adam Road when the speed limit is 70km per hour.

The court heard that Wu also made Mr Kuan take the rap for him for another speeding offence in September 2005.

This charge was taken into consideration during the sentencing on June 12.

Wu could also have been jailed up to six months and fined.

— ST’s report:

[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.

See who’s bullish on Europe

In Emerging markets, Vietnam on 19/06/2012 at 7:26 pm

Emerging market guru and value investor Mark Mobius thinks Europe will emerge from its debt crisis intact and stronger than ever.

He believes emerging markets offer the best opportunities for investors. “The average growth this year will be five percent, compared to less than one percent in developed countries. They represent 34 percent of the world’s market capitalization and most people have very little, if anything, in emerging markets”.

His favorite developing economies are Vietnam and Nigeria

My S’pore: A greener & more pleasant land

In Environment on 19/06/2012 at 6:01 am

Swiss Gardens in the Sky

A few weeks ago, a Swiss architect suggested in a newspaper article that S’pore creates gardens in the sky using our high-rise buildings. I tot, “What a lovely idea” and had visions of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon with flowering creepers on the sides of high-rises, and fountains, formal gardens and ponds on the roofs. Yup, very decadent fascist visions of greenery.

Well the reality in Switzerland is more prosaic and just as wonderful : Living roofs recapture what is now essentially negative space within the city and turn it into a chain of rooftop islands that connect with the countryside at large.

This being S’pore, we could use HDB roof-tops to be self-sufficient in basic veggies, and range-free eggs.

And lest we forget, LKY was all for green and pleasant spaces before they became fashionable among the local chattering classes

If he were running S’pore, I’m sure he would crack the whip, and spur the serfs  to convert existing roof-tops into oases or, if you prefer, islands, of greenery especially as it would make S’pore cooler. He loves cooler temperatures. I’m with him on greenery and cooler temperatures.

Why keep the ex-railway corridor green

It can together with the Swiss-style gardens in the sky be our”unofficial countryside”.

Richard Mabey has memorably called the “unofficial countryside” – Britain’s roadside verges and railway cuttings, canal towpaths and brownfield sites. This also includes the million or so acres of private gardens … and bigger than all the nature reserves in Britain put together.

These places – many of them in the heart of our towns and cities – provide a vital oasis for Britain’s wild creatures, a haven as important as anywhere in the British Isles for supporting a diverse range of plants and animals. Perhaps because of the wide range of wildlife found in our urban areas, and the frequency with which we encounter these city creatures, urban Britons are just as connected to nature as – arguably sometimes more so than – their rural neighbours. The countryside and those who live there no longer have a monopoly on nature.

While we won’t have tigers, tapir and deer; and don’t want wild boars; we could have civet cats, mouse deer and “padi” mice in the corridor.

Why AG has a good reason to appeal Wally Woffles’ sentence

In Political governance on 18/06/2012 at 5:08 am

Netizens are up in arms over Wally Woffles’ $1000 fine. There are several reasons for this, and I will explore a darker reason later this week, I hope.

I was annoyed by his comment as reported in ST (remember this is the newspaper that is perceived by many as having an agenda when reporting the news) that he believes “many people similarly did not know that this is an offence”. I take this to mean that he still doesn’t realise the seriousness of what he did (in spirit helping to pervert the course of justice) and is not repentant. In fact, he comes across in the ST report, as saying,”This is not an offence that even merits me paying a ‘peanuts’ of a fine.” Why he was such a Wally to behave in such a perceived manner could be due to sheer arrogance or stupdidity or both. And anyway only a Wally would talk to the media: sit down and shut up is my advice when approached by a ST or SPH report.

In view of his unrepentant attitude to in spirit perverting the course of justice, this is a good reason for the Attorney-General to change his mind and appeal the sentence. The AG’s Chambers had earlier said that it was not going to appeal the sentence because a fine is “within the norm of usual sentences” under that charge.

This appeal is not throwing meat to the snarling beasts of the internet jungle, or handing over someone to the vigilantes from cowboy towns: but a proper and proportionate response to a unrepetent criminal (if ST is to be trusted) who in spirit perverted the course of justice.

But it would seem that the AG would do no such thing. SIGH, it would have dispelled the notion that the rich are different. Gd responses to the official spins coming from Law Minister and AG.



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.

Cultural differences among bureaucracies

In Humour on 17/06/2012 at 5:32 am

S’poreans working for the government or state agencies who have had dealings with their Asean counterparts have similar stories to tell. And then there is China and Suchou in particular. So do S’pore investors and bizmen.

Some Germans also point to the model of the Prussian bureaucrat, whose sense of pride in ensuring decisions taken at the highest levels of government are implemented speedily and to the letter, still runs deep in German ministries. It took a while for Berlin and Brussels to realize that a similar ethos did not exist in Greece. Far from it.

But one M’sian (with experience in dealing with civil servants in three countries) says that, in their different ways, the civil servants in Indonesia and S’pore are merciless. In Indonesia, for private gain (this he can understand). In S’pore for the benefit of S’pore Inc (thinks this is “deft”). In M’sia, he says, the civil servants are usually clueless except when it comes to personal gain.

“China has risen”: Mao will be proud

In China on 16/06/2012 at 6:57 am

More people are saying that China is world’s leading economic power

Interesting biz in Cambodia & Vietnam

In Internet, Vietnam on 16/06/2012 at 6:13 am

American gal sets up internet biz in Cambodia: she sell hair (to be more accurate “hair extensions”) globally

Software dev is big biz in Vietnam

Ten years ago, you could count the number of IT companies using your fingers,” he says.

Now there are more than 750 software companies employing some 35,000 people. Among them, 150 are outsourcing firms.

Industry sources suggest that Vietnam is currently among the top five outsourcing destinations in Asia.

Vietnamese companies are manufacturing software and games for foreign companies, and are starting to export mobile phone apps overseas.

A young population and cheap labour costs are two major advantages that many start-ups have been tapping. The government in Vietnam has also been very encouraging, seeing information technology as beneficial for the country’s economy.

Charles Speyer, co-founder of Glass Egg Digital Media, a console game art outsourcing company, says the environment has been “very friendly for software companies”.

“We received our licence after less than a week,” he says.

“At Glass Egg we have always had to train our 3D artists, but there are good coders coming straight out of school in Vietnam.”

However Mr Speyer warns that although there is a lot of potential, the innovation industry in Vietnam will take some time to develop because of the inadequate education system.

“The education system is not geared towards creating innovators and that does not seem to be changing any time soon under the current government guidelines.”

When will S’pore become part of the Silicon Valley ecosystem?

In Banks, Political economy on 15/06/2012 at 6:42 am

When SVB Financial Group’s banking unit Silicon Valley Bank opens a branch or office or j/v here, we will know that S’pore has made it into the Silicon Valley ecosystem. It has juz opened its first int’l branch: in London. It will target Britain’s technology, life science, private equity and venture capital sectors

Silicon Valley Bank counts Cisco Systems, Mozilla and Pinterest, among its US clients.

Silicon Valley Bank also has offices in Israel, India and is expected to open a joint venture bank in China with Shanghai Pundong Development Bank.

When it comes to town, bang balls KennethJ, TJS, TRE, TOC, E-Jay, SDP etc.  But don’t worry guys, it’ll be a long time, if ever, before the PAP government’s rhetoric becomes a reality*. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll link to stories which show how competitive Vietnam is becoming in software development to places like India, and that even Cambodia, with an American’s help, can use the internet get into a global biz competing with China and India.

*I mean juz see the BS around the comment made on LSD use, and on sex between adults juz because they are not married. So intolerant.

Signs govt moving on from “Let the buyer beware”?

In Political governance on 15/06/2012 at 5:54 am

While searching for something, I came across a piece dated late last week by a card carrying foot-soldier of the nation-building, constructive media. He was ranting against a rant by the CapitaLand CEO against “almost inhuman” developments (his words: but he builds “almost inhuman” rabbit hutches at Bedok Residences. Typical PAPpy? Talk the talk, but not walk the walk.). “Let the market decide” said the foot-soldier who should be retired, not still ranting. Not I’m not linking to his rant. And he has form: he ranted against the additional stamp duty imposed on some buyers.

Now this reminded me of Khaw’s warning a few weeks ago, which I wanted to commend at the time, but the bad news management of Yaacob and the spin ministry, SPH and MediaCorp meant I had more interesting things to say.

“Mr Khaw reiterated the Government is watching the situation closely and he will not hesitate to intervene if there is clear evidence that investor demand for such units is unsustainable.”

This in turn reminded me of the report about the central bank’s concerns over retail holdings of perpetual bonds that were expressed to the banks: “[T]he discussions show that the regulator is worried individual investors may be taking on too much risk without a full understanding of the product.

Hurray. On two issues at least, the government is moving away from its policy of “Buyer beware”. It is taking a more nuanced stance. Hopefully, it also reflects a move from “Let the market decide”. My primary objection to the “market” approach is that the government or a state agency is a major and active player in many markets from property to cars.

Maybe we are returning to an attitude that is more sceptical of business: something seen in the government policies between 1965- 1980s. Whether this is good for S’pore will have to be seen. Remember the world, and S’pore society has “moved on”. S’pore became more “market friendly” to ensure that it could compete with HK as a financial centre in the early 1990s. This was the handiwork of one LHL when he was central bank governor, finance minister, and DPM.

Related post

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.”

No wonder world’s in a mess

In Economy, Energy on 14/06/2012 at 9:32 am

Brent crude reached its highest-ever average price at $111 a barrel in 2011: from BP’s  Statistical Review of World Energy 2012 published on June 12.. Oil prices were consistently high last year affecting economic growth and investment plans

This guy is shorting China & emerging markets

In China, Emerging markets on 14/06/2012 at 7:11 am

And a bull on US retailers.

And he has outperformed his peers!

Indonesia: Talking cock is not helpful, helpful

In Indonesia, Infrastructure on 13/06/2012 at 7:32 am

Work on a new deepwater port for container ships on an island between Batam and Bintan is set to begin next year, creating a potential rival to Singapore’s port. The port, on Tanjung Sauh, aims to be a major transshipment center for Indonesia, and is part of the country’s overhaul of its transport infrastructure to cope with growing domestic demand.

Well in 2005, Indonesia annced a major expansion of the port on Batam. It even awarded a contract to a French company. Err nothing ever happened. Wonder if this time, it will be anything different. And remember that Batam has one unused int’l airport. It was built to rival S’pore’s airport in the late 1970s.

Readers will know I’m bullish on Indonesia. But that is despite, not because, of its officials or the government planning agencies.

But here’s one talking cock project that works: using social media to help farmers get info they need

Government right on need to raise retirement age

In Political economy, Political governance on 13/06/2012 at 5:35 am

The issue of changing the rules on the access to our CPF funds is one that upsets many S’poreans, even those who support the PAP. The imposition of Minimum Sum and CPF Life are lazy solutions to a problem that needs to be addressed: longevity.

But while we should, disagree and row with him on the access to our money, we should not be in denial that we (me excluded) have to retire only in the 60s. The issue is longevity, not the amounts we have in our CPF accounts and how the cost of housing erodes the amounts left over for retirement, or access to our money.

According to a new report from the OECD, increases in the official retirement age are planned or underway in 28 out of its 34 member countries. As can be seen from the chart in the link, pensionable ages have failed to keep pace with longevity

Lions taking a lesson from PA, PAP?

In Footie, Humour, Uncategorized on 12/06/2012 at 6:39 am

I nearly had a heart attack a few minutes ago when I was skimming thru ST. The Lions plan to field a geriatric ang moh striker in the coming game against M’sia. I mean even Alex Ferguson doesn’t field 41-year old strikers. Mid-fielders and defenders are different. The best age well like Gigsy, Maldini and Barasi. So having Bennett back could be a gd move.

So I guess Roman and FAS must be looking at the example of the PA and PAP in Aljunied where two geratrics were apponted to replace the much younger Mrs Lim and Madam Cynthia Phua as grassroot advisers

FAS, what about replacing Roman? If he had been one of ancient Romans, he would have committed suicide long ago to atone for his failures. In S’pore, he gets his contract renewd while the players get sacked. This is not international best practice in footie.   

Even the PAP got rid of BG Yeo from its mgt when he failed to hold Aljunied. And “retired” Wong, Ramond Lim and Mah Bow Tan for not being “popular” enough.

Why our banks will be issuing more perps

In Banks on 12/06/2012 at 5:03 am

(Or “Another reason why perps are so popular among coporates”)

As the sovereign debt crisis drags on, international lending by global banks in the fourth quarter last year fell by the largest amount since the Lehman Brothers crisis in 2008.

Gd news for our three local banks. They can expand their US$ lending activities (US$ is preferred currency of borrowers).

Expect them to raise more perps. They will be exploring the possibility of selling US$ perps to our local retailer investors to avoid having to swap the proceeds into US$. But retail investors don’t like foreign currency issues: juz look at Hutch Ports.

Temasek investment divesting assets as shareholders revolt

In Corporate governance, Energy, Temasek on 11/06/2012 at 7:18 pm

Background on this investment: “bad”

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.

Reuben Wang: stupid or cynical?

In Humour on 09/06/2012 at 11:30 am

So Reuben Wong has apologised and closed his blog. But he has not stated clearly what he apologised about. Was it for

— his use of vulgarities which showed disrespect the the office of DPM and Mr Teo personally; or

— his views on what DPM said; or

— both?

(According to this taken from CNA, it seems for both:

17-year-old Reuben Wang, lashed out at Mr Teo in a blog post on the new Pre-U seminar format.

In his post, the St Andrews Junior College student accused Mr Teo of avoiding difficult questions during the Q&A.

He removed his post subsequently, and also wrote to Mr Teo on Wednesday to apologise for being “too rash and too harsh in using the expletives”.)

Reuben said he now understands Mr Teo’s perspective “much more deeply now after consulting friends, teachers and netizens”.

This information is important because there is a lot of speculation on why be apologised, especially whether he was coerced into apologising. He should therefore state publicly why he apologised,  unless he is either stupid, or cynical.

It could be that he is juz plain stupid in not giving the ground(s) for his apology. His earlier behaviour could be indicative of stupidity. Instead of ranting at DPM Teo, he could have reported what happened, and its variance from the spin reported by the SPH group. Instead, his rant not only showed that he was ill-mannered and ill-bred, and a stupid boy. Here is an analysis of what he wrote which I cannot better.

Anyway his JC is juz as bad, so his stupidity possibly, is not all a matter of genes. What did the school counsel him to apologise for? For disrespect, or disagreeing, or both? Because there is a lot of speculation on why be apologised, especially whether he was coerced into apologising, the school should explain what it had advised him to apologise for. 

Heck what can you expect? He and the school are Saints. Not an elite school, like RI, SJI or ACS, it’s the equivalent of a neighbourhood school. It and its students juz got pretensions. Look at KennethJ, who publicly boasts that the government, on the quiet, steals his ideas.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Reuben Wong called himself a cynic. Maybe the rant and the apology is nothing but a wayang to give himself some publicity so that he can escape the limitations that are imposed on someone from a mediocre school. He got a lot of publicity and met the DPM who gave him an inscribed book. Can a boy from Raffles, ACS, NJC, Hwa Chong or VJC do as well?

If so, he deserves three cheers. He will make a good politican for the PAP or WP: for the latter especially if his ambiguity for his apology was dileberate. Not SDP though.

Filipino super bull

In Banks on 09/06/2012 at 6:01 am

BDO Unibank Inc., the Philippines largest lender on Tuesday priced the country’s largest share sale (US$1bn 1-for-3 rights offering at a 24.9% discount to its 15-day VWAP to give a total deal size of Ps43.5bn,US$1bn),  to give the bank funds to compete for infrastructure lending. Details.

Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairwoman of SM Investments Corp., said “Infrastructure is not our area of expertise, but we intend to join the government’s initiatives by providing funding for those who will take up those projects.” She is the daughteer of the controlling shareholder.

.The bank aims to reduce its dependence on consumer loans by tapping credit demand from the nation’s biggest companies, including Ayala Corp. (AC) and San Miguel Corp. (SMC), as they bid for $16 billion in infrastructure projects unveiled in 2010 by President Benigno Aquino. The fund infusion will also bolster Manila-based BDO’s risk buffers and spur overseas expansion, Sy-Coson said.

The Philippines’ PSE Composite Index is up 15% since the start of the year.

BDO Unibank is not the only bank bullish on the Philippines. In early May, CIMB  agreed to buy just under 6o% of the Philippines’ Bank of Commerce (BOC) for 12.2 billion pesos (M$881 million) in cash, a move analysts said gives it early mover advantage in a market with high-growth banking potential.

Maybe if DBS can’t get its deal on Bank Danamon through or on acceptable terms, it should look North.

DBS has a 21.4% stake in BPI via its 40% stake in Ayala DBS where Ayala has the majority 60% stake. UOB seems to have a 2% stake in BDO Unibank. OCBC doesn’t seem to have a presence in the Philippines. All three local banks have subsidiaries in Indonesia.

Temasek is Filipino-lite. It doesn’t own anything direct in the Philippines: no banks, no telcos.

Its largest exposure is via Singtel which has a major investments in the Philippines (via Globe 47% which it controls together with Ayala 32%. Global is the second largest telco in the Philippines.

Keppel has some exposure via a shipyard but its not big.

If Temasek wants to go big in the Philippines, then DBS could be used.

Related post:

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?


Indon stocks could Jump 15% in 2012: Citi

In Indonesia on 07/06/2012 at 3:31 pm

The Indonesian stock market has been the worst performer in Southeast Asia this year, owing to recent declines, but Citigroup says it’s time to take advantage of the low valuations, forecasting over 15 percent upside for the country’s equities over the rest of 2012.

Why our local banks shld stop wasting resources on China proper

In Banks, China, Investment banking, Temasek on 07/06/2012 at 5:14 am

(Or “Why Temasek’s big bet on Chinese banks makes sense“)

DBS is the 6th largest foreign bank in China proper. It has a strategy of expansion into China. So have UOB and OCBC.

Well, its a tough biz to be in. Non-Chinese banks have only 2% market share. Even HSBC, StanChart and Citi have problems

DBS, OCBC and UOB shld juz not bother abt China.

Cambridge Reit

In Property, Reits on 06/06/2012 at 1:59 pm

Almost no coverage from analysts, so this might interest

The yield is great, the gearing levels are ok but the lack of a big, conservative brother scares me. In times like this, need a big, stodgy brother like F&N, Keppel, or AMP; or effectively zero gearing (Lippo trusts). I consider CapitaLand too racy for me despite it’s a TLC.

Saizen Reit

In Japan, Property, Reits on 06/06/2012 at 1:28 pm

 This article (“Residential properties have been the most popular among investors based on its stable return,” said Ishinabe. “Since last year, investors have expanded their interest into other types of properties such as office buildings and commercial facilities.”) on two bulls in Jap commercial property despite supply a’coming reminded me of u’m post on Saizen Reit that tot me the basics of this residental property Jap Reit.


Update on S’pore as hedgie home

In Economy on 06/06/2012 at 6:21 am

Smaller Asian hedgies are closing (US$120m is “peanuts”).

Not gd news for S’pore’s financial centre aspirations. It once (pre 2007 crisis) had lax rules to get these guys in, hoping they would grow.

But hope springs  eternal. 

Coming our way? Many of  funds in Switzerland had juz relocated from London. But now the Swiss government is considering rules that would turn a relatively “light-touch” regulatory environment into “one of the most exacting jurisdictions in the world to run a hedge fund,” the Financial Times reported about two months ago.

Funny that our constructive nation-building media don’t report this news. Been too busy sliming WP, to report on a possible positive development.

S’pore bashing at its worst

In Economy, Political economy on 05/06/2012 at 7:27 am

Reading this, one ends up asking, “If things are so screwed up here, why isn’t S’pore as poor as Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia or Burma?”

There are problems: rising inequality, persistent low productivity (despite all the govmin talk and campaigns), lack of local entrepeneurs complacent BSing ministers, and bad public transport. But taz not the same as saying that S’pore is an economic disaster like Bangladesh.

IPO: Healthcare & Indian themes

In Emerging markets, India, Malaysia on 05/06/2012 at 6:51 am

(Or “The Achars are coming”)

First, there is IHH expected to list in July. Intetegrated Healthcare Holdings is the healthcare arm of Malaysia’s state investor. Its assets include Turkish hospital group, Singapore’s Parkway Holdings, India’s Apollo Hospitals Enterprise and Malaysia’s Pantai Hospitals and International Medical University. It presses all the right buttons: Turkey, India, M’sia and S’pore.

The listing of IHH in Singapore and Malaysia is expected to be the fourth-biggest initial public offering in S’pore’s history and Malaysia’s second-largest this year after the planned listing of Malaysian plantation group Felda Global Venture Holdings.

International Financial Corp, part of the World Bank Group, is planning to take part in the planned US$1.5 billion listing of IHH. Another cornerstone investor is the Pru’s Asian funds arm. UK’s Pru or the US Pru. I’m sure GIC or Temasek will be another cornerstone investor.

For those interested in Indian healthcare and yield there will be  Religare Health Trust. India’s Fortis Healthcare, which is seeking to expand its clinical operations and cut debt, plans to raise about 20bn rupees (S$459m) by listing its hospital business in Singapore. Its listing is expected to be later than that of IHH.

“We are looking at this listing to de-leverage the balance sheet,” its CEO said anning the IPO last week. Fortis, which has about 15 hospitals and clinics that are part of this business, has a consolidated net debt of 50bn rupees, the CEO said. The company is looking to add about 2,500 hospital beds in three to four years, he added. Fortis, India’s No 2 hospitals chain after Apollo Hospitals Enterprise, said consolidated net profit jumped 41.34%  to 415.4bn in its fiscal fourth quarter ended March.

Religare Health Trust has a mandate to invest in medical and healthcare assets and services in Asia, Australasia and emerging markets.

The IPO would be the second by an Indian company in Singapore after Indiabulls Properties Investment Trust raised US$165m (S$210.8m) in 2009. This has been a dog of a stock.

Reliance Communications is also planning to raise US$1 billion through a Singapore listing of its undersea cable business.


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


Test needed to ask questions at co. meetings

In China, Corporate governance, Financial competency, Humour, Property on 04/06/2012 at 5:01 am

(Or “Shume really stupid shareholders” or “Why SGX shld pay Mano Sabnani to conduct courses on asking sensible qns at AGMs and EGMs”)  

Sometime back, the media reported that some daft shareholders (same people as those who complained at DBS AGM that DBS paid 50% premium over Bank Danamon’s share price to get controlling stake? I mean these people never ever heard of a premium needed to secure a controlling block?) abt CapitaLand’s China exposure and share price since 2008 or 2007 at its AGM.

Don’t they read the int’l media?

Example from BBC Online:”China has, thus far, avoided the much-feared hard landing,” said IHS Global’s Ren Xianfeng.

“Expect no major property meltdown or construction bust. Expect no deflationary spiral or banking crunch.”

Analysts said that given the steadiness of the property market, policymakers were likely to continue to ease their policies to boost growth.

Ting Liu of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch forecast that China’s economy was likely to grow at an annual rate on 8.5% in the second quarter, up from 8.1% in the first three months of the year.

And on the share price: don’t they realise that equity markets have had a choppy ride since 2008. And that China-related stocks have been the target of bear raids and that CapitaLand is an obvious target to short given that the stock is liquid and shares can be easily borrowed

In case anyone doesn’t understand the reference to Mano, he asks vv intelligent questions at AGMs and EGMs. Only one I can bitch abt is at K-Reit EGM when he queried the price paid for Ocean Towers from its parent. Shumething like Ocean Towers seldom gets sold at mkt price, except perhaps in distressed sale. Kanna pay premium.

Investor protection:HK going one up on S’pore

In Financial competency on 03/06/2012 at 6:31 am

Hong Kong, where the securities regulator in May proposed introducing civil liability for banks working on initial share sale prospectuses (we got this here but kinda useless deterrent: look at the S- Chips that were listed), is thinking of allowing class-action lawsuits to help investors seek damages.

The city’s Law Reform Commission in late May recommended legislation to allow a group with a common complaint to sue through a representative. Initially, the class actions should only be for cases such as product liability and consumer fraud, which can be financed by an existing public fund.

Hong Kong currently allows multiparty proceedings under rules that the city’s then-chief justice Andrew Li criticised as restrictive and inadequate in 2004. Losing parties must pay all or part of their opponent’s legal fees under Hong Kong law, a deterrent for individual investors seeking damages. S’pore has shumething similar though our CJ never ever criticised the law on multiparty suits.

The inability to bring class action suits and the issue of costs hindered the mini-bonders, and other similar structured product investors from pursuing their claims here. Some DBS HN5 holders failed in very their technical law-suit. Some Pinnacle note investors are suing Morgan Stanley in the US.

Can Eugene Tan be trusted to hold the PAP accountable?

In Political governance on 03/06/2012 at 6:02 am

During the Hougang by-election campaign, Denise Phua, the PAP MP S’poreans love and respect (OK at least Siow Kum Hong respects her) said there wasn’t a need to elect more WP MPs because there were NMPs like Eugene Tan and Siow to hold the government accountable etc.

Below I post the views of a TRE reader who read my tots abt Eugene Tan. I don’t know if his comments are the equivalent of an ST report, I don’t listen to the radio. But if they are accurate, then S’poreans who respect Denise Phua shld rethink their admiration of her. But shld she be respected in the first place? She joined a party whose views she openly disagreed with. Bit like a Jedi knight joining the Emperor because the knight openly said he wanted to fight to free the people from the Emperor: bit unbelievable. Also says a lot abt the party’s need for foot soldiers that she was accepted.



May 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm RDB(Quote)

GUTTER SHAME TO YOU Eugene Tan FOR STOOP like a “high-class” woman of low values for for the takes and nothing more!

This asst. prof. of Sg management university has totally changed after becoming a NMP and thus a LKYism PPpyism stooge as well. On the evening of HG voting day he and PN Balji the ex-TODAY editor in chief, ET was doing his complete wayang in typical PROFESSorry speak, bad mouthing all of WP, LTK & PEH to 938 Live Compere Bharati Jagdish before the results were in. Even when CNA gave unconfirmed ED results of PEH getting 14,000 & DC only 9,000, it didn’t make him abate in his glaring HYPOCRITCAL attacks so clear of a LKYism stooge. He delivered his best to sound within that HYPOCRITE system of massive high renumeration. Incomes made to get obedient materialistic professional VOID OF Ethical, Morals in fair somments with justice in mind. ET sound more of an SG alien-at-large prepared to sell his soul to the devil.

After the offical results were out showing clear cut win for PEH, he continued his POOing onslaught never letting up even when PN Balji now a media consultant said nicely that WP’s win meant more than just a HG win. He added that it has great implications for PAP in govt. Eugene went into I saw as oberdrive to salvage for LKYism as a most evil deft stooge to do it’s bidding. “sHE STOOPS to conquer” impresses no decent minded people but the villians who make meat of the ordinary folks! Eugene Tan IS NOW GUTTER like TCH!

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Philippines: Reasons for optimism and scepticism

In Emerging markets on 02/06/2012 at 10:41 am

(Or “Why CIMB is buying a bank in the Philippines”)

Brokers have upgraded their full-year economic growth forecast for the Philippines after the government announced a surprising 6.4% growth in the first quarter (better than other countries in the region)

Example– Nomura now expects the economy to expand by 5.1% this year from an earlier 4.6%.

“[First quarter] GDP soared to 6.4%… beating expectations. This was led by high public sector spending and still-robust private consumption …  We upgrade our 2012 GDP growth forecast to 5.1% from 4.6% as we believe these drivers will not only persist, but will also be augmented by faster increases in private investment owing to on-going reforms.”

Nomura noted that the country is also expected to improve its position in an annual competitiveness ranking, “The Philippines has fallen two spots to 43rd due to a weak ranking in the economic performance criterion, which we think is related to last year’s under spending by the government.”

As the Economist wrote a few weeks ago: Future prospects are indeed enticing: besides the unexploited mineral resources, business-process outsourcing is booming, already employing some 600,000 people. Remittances from all those Filipinos overseas have remained strong through economic crises. As costs rise in China, the Philippines is among places manufacturers eye as an alternative. Tourism has huge potential, recognised by the government’s nicely pitched campaign: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

The government has also started making some important reforms. In an effort to raise its revenues—at present a paltry 12% of GDP—it wants to jack up “sin” taxes on alcohol and tobacco. The bill enacting this made important progress in May when it passed a House of Representatives committee—a triumph over powerful tobacco and alcohol lobbies. It still has to pass the full House and the Senate, however.

But it remains sceptical: In fact, the Aquino administration has little concrete to show for its two years in power. The centrepiece of its programme, public-private partnerships to tackle the inadequate infrastructure which is such a hindrance to all the nation’s economic hopes, is only now stuttering to life after just one of the ten projects scheduled for approval last year saw contracts awarded. The pursuit of Mrs Arroyo and the chief justice is a distraction as well as a mission. Securing Mr Corona’s conviction might entail so many promises to senators that the point of the exercise—enhancing the government’s clean image—is lost.

Well CIMB for one is bullish. In early May, CIMB  agreed to buy just under 6o% of the Philippines’ Bank of Commerce (BOC) for 12.2 billion pesos (M$881 million) in cash, a move analysts said gives it early mover advantage in a market with high-growth banking potential.

It got in into Indonesia on the cheap in 2002 before the ang mohs rediscovered Indonesia yet again. It bot into the government’s recapitalisation of a major local bank (Bank Niaga)  that was nationalised after the 1997/1998 financial crisis. 

The PBOC could be an encore.

Indonesia does DBS shareholders a favour

In Banks, Indonesia, Temasek on 01/06/2012 at 2:38 pm

By planning to allow financial institutions a maximum of 40% in an Indon bank (applicable only to new investors), the Indon central bank has blocked Temasek’s plan to sell its 67% stake in Bank Danamon to DBS Bank where it has a controlling stake.

On a day when banks (and other blue chips) are weak in local trading (UOB -1.5% and OCBC -0.5%) fact that DBS is only -o.6% shows that investors are not upset over the failure of the deal.

One reason is that institutional investors don’t like big “strategic” deals by their investments because they usually overpay and are prone to destroy shareholder value. Here while the price is decent, the issue of lots of new shares to Temasek is dilutive to earnings.

Ah well back to the drawing board DBS mgt to find a new driver for growth. Same too for Temasek’s financial enginners. The deal would have reduced Temasek’s direct exposure to Indonesia while increasing its exposure to DBS.

How times have changed since the late 70s (Moral suasion)

In Corporate governance, Political governance, Property on 01/06/2012 at 6:39 am
Someone wrote in to Voices as follows
Property developers countering govt policy
The extra stamp duty of 10 per cent was introduced in December to curb excessive foreign investment in private residential property. This cooling measure has failed. New private home sales last month were the strongest in nearly three years.One possible reason is the increasingly common practice by property developers to absorb the extra stamp duty as part of their marketing strategy, visibly offered as a carrot to potential buyers in their advertisements of property launches.If a government policy could be circumvented this easily, then it has lost its effectiveness. The Government should make it illegal for property developers to absorb any stamp duty.
In the late 1970s, never mind making it illegal for property developers to absorb any stamp duty: someone would call up the developers offering this deal and tell them that what they were doing was “not in the national interest”, and please scrap the offers. Developers would listen to the polite request to behave responsibly in obeying the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law because no developer wanted the tax authorities going thru their books if they decided to follow the letter of the law.
How times have changed since when I started work. For the better or the worse in this instance, I am uncertain.

What the fall of Roman empire can teach the PAP

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 01/06/2012 at 6:13 am

(Or “Why group feeling is so impt” or “How times have changed since the late 70s (Worth of being a S’porean)”) 

Reading the u/m, I was reminded that Ngiam Tong Dow (Sparta, Athens and the Chinese imperial exam system) and the PAP (George Yeo and his mis-readings of history, one being why Venice did better than Genoa*) have used history to preach to S’poreans

First was the widening gulf between the social classes, rich and poor. When rich and poor start to live completely different lives this leads (then as now) to the poor opting out of the state. All studies today show that society is happier when the gap between rich and poor is reduced …

Widen it and you affect the group ethos of society, and also the ability to get things done through tax.

In the Roman West real wealth lay more in land and property than in finance (though there were banks) – but in the 300s the big land-owning aristocrats who often had fantastic wealth, contributed much less money than they had in the past to defence and government.

That in turn led as it has today to a “credibility gap” between ordinary people and the bureaucrats and rich people at the top.

Other strands in the collapse of the Roman West are more difficult to quantify, but they centre on “group feeling”, the glue that keeps society working together towards common goals. Lose that and you get a kind of nervous breakdown in the social order, which leads to what archaeologists call “systems collapse”.

The growing inequality in S’pore society we know and bitch about, but the loss of “group feeling” is shumething “we see through a glass, darkly”.  We sense it but we have problems articulating this loss of group feeling. Symptoms of it are often ascribed as the problem. Examples: The

— unhappinness that male FTs (like PAP MP Puthu) have a free ride here because they don’t have to do NS;

—  resentment against the PAP government because it appears to elevate FTs to a higher status than locals; 

— resentment against one LKY who called S’poreans “daft”, who needed to be “spurred”,

are symptoms of this loss of group feeling, not the problems themselves.

The government is largely to blame for this loss of group feeling thru its strategy of keeping the economy growing by using FTs to keep wage costs down because otherwise the strong S$ would make S’pore an uncompetitive economy.  Its asset enhancement policy and forcing S’poreans to leverage to their foreheads to buy property, has it made it impossible for S’pore to have low economic growth without triggering serious problems for the PAP and S’poreans. Imagine all HDB owners having -ve equity on their flats?

The sad, funny thing is that the PAP government fostered the sense of collective identity through schemes like NS to strenthen its grip on power after S’pore was ejected from M’sia. Older S’poreans like me can remember the days when the government told us that we S’poreans were special, compared to the Indons and M’sians. Look at the M’sian and Indon Chinese trying to get in. Today, according to the then PM, S’poreans are “daft”, and need “spurring” (or is it to be “spurred”?).

Oh and as the extract showed, “group feeling” is linked to wealth inequality. The bigger the gap, the less “group feeling”.


*Actually, I’m surprised that he didn’t put in down to the Venetians having a more authoritarian form of republic with power centralised in the doge). A rebuttal.