Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

Another M’sian mega-IPO

In Malaysia on 31/07/2012 at 5:30 am

 (Or “No FTs, but still the mega IPOs come)

Astro All Asia Networks has applied for approval to go public. The IPO will be worth M$4.7bn (US$1.5bn or S$1.9bn) a deal that would add to Malaysia’s dominant position in IPOs this year globally. Part of Ananda Krishnan’s empire, it was once a listco before he took it private a few yrs ago,

And its bourse’s CEO is local, not an FT nor is his number 2, unlike on SGX.

Related rant


Ascendas Hospitality Trust surprises

In Property, Reits on 30/07/2012 at 6:31 am

Ascendas Hospitality Trust (A-HTrust) closed at its issue price last Friday. Considering that the public offer was about 6.9 times subscribed and yields projected at 7.9% (FY13) and 8.0% (FY14), while CDL’s is 6% (admittedly that is trailing) and strong demand for the placement, I expected the securities to close higher.

Maybe it’s the structure? The A-HTrust is a ‘stapled security’ comprising the Ascendas Hospitality Business Trust (80%) and the Ascendas Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust (20%).

Mr Tan Juay Hiang, chief executive, Ascendas Hospitality Trust, said earlier last week: “The REIT structure does allow unit holders and investors to enjoy a more tax efficient structure. And the business trust will allow the platform to look at the potential development projects, unlike the REIT there is a limitation. So on a staple securities basis, it does provide quite a fair bit of benefits for unit holders and investors.”

Maybe it’s  because the trust said it’s looking at acquisitions to grow the value of its assets going forward. Rights issueS, more debt?

Maybe because as analysts said there are downside risks to hospitality trusts as the tourism market is highly sensitive to global downturns. Projections could go wrong.

Maybe it shouldn’t have allotted an additional 73.4 million securities to the placement tranche of its initial public offering in Singapore as part of its overallotment process?

Update on 31 July: Another reason could be that the assets are outside S’pore and investors place a premium on S’pore based assets. The reverse of the govt’s “FTs are betterest” policy.

Anyway, means the coming Far East Reit got to redo its sums again about being cheapskate

Keep an eye on A-HTrust. Could be worth adding to portfolio for yield and capital appreciation. I like the combi of biz trust and Reit, though not sure if it will work in practice. Got to research the issue.

Cynical take on infrastructure spending

In Uncategorized on 30/07/2012 at 5:14 am

(Or “Planning to open the floodgates again after the next GE?”)

“The government plans to ramp up infrastructure in Singapore over the next decade to meet the needs of population growth here in recent years, even though the inflow of immigrants has fallen since 2009,” spun the constructive, nation-building BT (a sister publication of STOMP where paid “content providers” posed as citizen journalists and faked at least one item of news).

It went on, “Population growth in recent years has outpaced infrastructure capacity, a paper released by the government yesterday noted. Published by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD), the paper notes the need to build infrastructure in a timely manner. A major effort over the next 5-10 years will seek to meet the demand for housing, transport and public services.” More details below*.

One wonders if all this spending has two purposes:

One we all know: improve the governing PAP’s image with the voters so that in the next general election (it has to be held by 2016, but can be earlier), the PAP can improve on its 60% share of the vote, and perhaps even win back Aljunied GRC?

And if the winning majority is back up to the high 60s, open the doors again to FTs by the cattle truck-loads?

If you think I’m being too sceptical or cynical about the government’s intentions, this is what the May issue of the ISEAS Monitor says abt an earlier report** in April this year by said government unit, “[it] serves as an early warning of a possible relaxation of recently tightened immigration policies.” ISEAS is the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies , a think-tank that is a statutory board that needs government financing.

Note that it also said that the White Paper on population promised by the end of the year, will be based on said report made public in April.

And in ST (also sister of STOMP) on the same day that  BT’s report, it was reported that the government is asking our views on population: FTs and birth rates included)

Still think I’m too sceptical?

Watch and wait. And think thrice about voting for the PAP even if the PAP makes sure the public transport system improves by a factor of 10, new public housing becomes affordable, and the needy get lots more help.


*The rail network will be doubled in Singapore, from 138km in 2008 to 280km in the next 10 years. One new segment of the MRT network will open every year to from now to 2017. This will ensure that more than 400,000 housing units on the island will be within 400 metres of a rapid transit system station, more than double that today.

More than 800 new buses will be rolled out over the next five years, which will raise the current bus capacity by 20 per cent. Some $4.7 billion has been allocated in fiscal year 2012 to enhance the public transport infrastructure in Singapore. In all, the government has committed to spend about $60 billion to double the Singapore MRT network from what it was in 2008, and to increase the capacity of existing rail lines, the expenditure overview stated.

**It warned of the low fertitilty rate and the need for 20-25,000 new FT citizens a year to keep the population from declining in 2030.


Kirin R F&N

In Uncategorized on 29/07/2012 at 10:03 am

Kirin Holdings, the Japanese brewing giant and 15% shareholder in F&N, is considering a bid for the soft drinks and dairy businesses of F&N, but it wasn’t clear how much Kirin would pay reports BLOOMBERG NEWS

HSBC: Doing God’s Work?

In Banks, Humour on 29/07/2012 at 6:51 am

On 25 July, Mexican regulators have imposed a fine of  US$27.5m on HSBC for its failure to comply with money-laundering regulations. The fine is the highest ever imposed by Mexican regulators. It constitutes 51.5% of the 2011 annual profit of HSBC’s Mexican subsidiary.

The week before, a United States Senate committee found that HSBC had provided a conduit for “drug kingpins and rogue nations”. HSBC’s head of compliance, David Bagley, resigned at the Senate committee hearing over allegations that the bank ignored warnings that Mexican drug money was being allowed to pass through the bank.

The US department of justice is conducting a criminal investigation into HSBC’s operations.

HSBS is expected to be fined heavily by the US.

So as a shareholder, I was upset that it didn’t use the defence that it was doing God’s work by laundering narco money. As the latest issue of the Economist writes: A gleaming chapel in Hidalgo state recently put up a bronze plaque thanking Heriberto Lazcano, head of the Zetas, for a donation. When the pope raised an eyebrow about such “narco alms”, a Mexican bishop, Ramón Godínez, replied that when Mary Magdalene washed Jesus’s feet with expensive perfume, he didn’t ask her how she paid for it. “There is no reason to burn money just because its origin is evil. You have to transform it. All money can be transformed, just as corrupted people can be transformed,” he said. With God as its money launderer, Mexico’s dirtiest industry should stay on a high.

Sporting losers celebrated

In Humour, India on 28/07/2012 at 2:32 pm

Good fun and graphics

Artist is from India, not noted for its Olmpic prowess even in hockey. Kinda appropriate. ))))

Farmer cycled from China for London 2012

In Uncategorized on 28/07/2012 at 9:32 am

Took him two years.

Burma: Work on Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat and Sunday

In Uncategorized on 27/07/2012 at 6:20 pm

Never sign a contract on Friday; Saturdays and Sundays are fortuitous for doing deals; starting just about anything on a Monday and you’ll be starting with a bad omen.

GIC: Buying while others selling

In GIC, India on 27/07/2012 at 6:44 am

Don’t worry, amounts only “peanuts”.

GIC increased its holding in Reliance Industries from 1.06% to 1.22% in the three-month period ended June 30, 2012 while other foreigners were selling.

Another gd reason for moving ministers around

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 27/07/2012 at 6:40 am

In this and this, I talked about one reason why moving ministers around was good: the new ministers can “move on” from their predecessors who because they were the ministers who made the decisions or who were otherwise responsible were in denial, or too defensive about their actions, couldn’t take remedial action: flood prevention measures, and public housing and transport problems. 

The news in the past week, about a major flood prevention project (see below), reminded me  of another reason: a minister who was a dud in another portfolio could turn out to have the skills needed in a new portfolio. VivienB is the person I have in mind. As welfare and sports minister, he was a flop: making fun of the elderly needy, and while refusing to spend more on them overspending wildly on the Kiddie Olympics.

But as water minister he dares to be decisive: approving an expensive but much needed project. PUB’s plans to build a diversion canal and detention tank at the Stamford Canal Catchment to better deal with intense storms. The cost has not been revealed but given that it involves construction work in the Orchard Road area, it will cost serious money.

Well VivianB is not afraid to give it his approval. If Yaacob had been in charge, senior PUB engineers tell me that he would still be thinking about it: asking if they could find cheaper ways of mitigating once in half a century floods that juz happened twice in two months in 2010. After all as an academic, he would say that the events of 2010 could be juz statistical flukes. If so, why spend money unnecessarily based on outliers?

And thinking about it, Yaacob is a good “information” minister. He took his time over introducing a Code of Conduct for bloggers. And now seems to have shelved idea for yhe time being.

We would not have liked it if he had been decisive and autocratic about it. And imagine the egg on the face of the government if he had acted decisively and forced the CoC down the collectively throat of netizens: a CoC that was modelled on the practices of the mainstream media; only for revelations to hit the fan that STOMP used paid “content providers” to pose as citizen journalists, one of them faked a news item, and for the STOMP content team to admit that they are FTs from China?

So PM, let’s move on to yr dad’s policy of moving ministers around and out. No more jobs for life that Goh Chok Tong and you seem to favour.

F&N/APB: Fun & games

In Corporate governance on 26/07/2012 at 6:02 pm

The price of APB closed at the takeover price, down 3.9%. Bit strange as I tot that the reason it traded to $52 yesterday was because it was in the interest of some people to keep it at above the takeover price of $50, making it more difficult for F&N to accept the bid by tomorrow. Watch and wait.

Another analysis on the break-up value of F&N

Two S’pore buy-outs in trouble?

In Property on 26/07/2012 at 12:44 pm

Buy-out companies are tapping non-traditional funding avenues to overcome difficult IPO and bank loans markets? TPG Capital, which has around US$52bn in assets under management globally, is considering an expensive high-yield bond for precision engineering firm United Test & Assembly Centre. TPG had in June 2011 looked at an S$500m IPO.

KKR, which has around US$62bn in assets under management globally, became the first private equity fund to use a high-yield bond to refinance a buyout loan in Asia when it took out a US$300m  five-year bond for Singapore technology company MMI International, in February this yr. KKR had in March 2011 looked at an IPO exit for MMI worth S$1bn (then US$785.7m).

In April, it spun that it was planning an IPO for MMI worth  raise between US$400m to US$500m. The IPO was expected to take place in the third quarter. More.

Given market conditions, not likely.

M&A valuations are worthless?

In Humour on 26/07/2012 at 10:03 am

No it’s an art form! Like Ravi’s performance at Hong Leong Green last Sunday. Err I think. I’d better explain.

Reuters, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter, reports: “Japan’s Kirin Holdings Ltd has hired Deutsche Bank to examine all options as it prepares to defend its interest in Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave.” Kirin has 15% of F&N, the second largest shareholder. (The largest shareholder was OCBC Bank who agreed to sell to cos connected to ThaiBev.)

And with Goldman Sachs being appointed to advise F&N, it’s feeding time for investment banks.

One of the skills they are supposed to bring to the table is how to value a deal. So this is funny: Citi and Morgan Stanley are in negotiations for Morgan Stanley to boost its controlling stake in their wealth management joint venture by 14% to 65%. But their valuations for the business are US$13.5 billion apart.

Sounds irrational, but there are gd sound technical reasons. I kid you not.

Sime Darby: No longer a corporate icon

In Malaysia on 26/07/2012 at 6:11 am

(Or “Sime Darby and the decline in corporate morality in M’sia”)

When I joined the financial services here in 1986 in fund mgt, Sime Darby had the reputation as a well run company, that didn’t play the games other M’sian corporates did. And senior mgt had a reputation of doing the right thing by the company: no funny biz.

Well in the last one week

— A corporate lawyer and independent non-executive director of Sime Darby, Datuk E.Sreesanthan pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court here today to seven counts of insider trading under the Securities Industry Act and Capital Markets and Services Act, six years ago.

The charges involved insider trading amounting to 625,000 shares in Sime Darby Bhd, Maxis Communications Bhd, UEM World Bhd and VADS Bhd.

Sreesanthan, 52, allegedly used the information at his disposal on the acquisition, privatisation and corporate restructuring exercises of the said companies between 2006 and 2008, to acquire the shares.

He was charged on three counts of acquiring 75,000 shares of Sime Darb, ahead of the special purpose vehicle Synergy Drive’s acquisition of nine companies within its group, including Sime Engineering Services, Golden Hope Plantations and Kumpulan Guthrie.

— And former Sime Darby president and group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubair Murshid pleaded not guilty at a Sessions Court to

  —- Two counts of committing criminal breach of trust over land in Sarawak, incurring losses of over RM100mil.

The charges were in relation to the acquisition of native customary rights (NCR) land in Sarikei, Kapit and Julau under the Sarawak Upstream Expansion Plan.

  —- A second charge of failing to take or instruct legal action between Nov 17, 2008 and Dec 4, 2009 to rectify the awarding of NCR land in Kapit and Julau to trading company Nature Ambience Sdn Bhd, resulting in Sime Darby incurring losses of RM16.8mil by having to acquire it.

  —-  Two alternative charges under Section 418 of the Penal Code.

HSBC: Being the drug barons banker of choice has its privileges

In Banks, Humour on 25/07/2012 at 10:04 am

If HSBC can surmount its current troubles, it has extraordinary opportunities. The year-long investigation was cited by the Senate as a test case. There is abundant evidence of other global banks having similar problems. Creating a compliance system that can satisfy regulation will not be cheap or simple. Companies in poor countries may find that their costs for routine transactions soar. But the rare banks that have the scale and the resources to operate in this environment will have a business niche to themselves.

As a shareholder with a barbed sense of humour, I can laugh all the way to the bank.

Earlier post:

Ravi cannot be serious?

In Uncategorized on 25/07/2012 at 5:27 am

I don’t know whether Ravi is “well” as he claims or ill again as Dr Fones says in the leaked letter, but until Ravi is proven to be ill again, I’ll comment on his actions on the premise that he is “well”. In this regard, Ravi’s actions on Sunday at Hong Lim Green was juz him mocking those who want to portray him as having a relapse of his mental illness. Incidentally, I tot Yahoo’s reporter covering the story had serious problems understanding satire and performance art.

But I have serious problems understanding what Ravi is up to here: Mr Ravi’s colleague, Mr Louis Joseph, has served a letter of demand on the Law Society and Mr Wong, to which they have seven days to respond. The letter, dated yesterday, asked for compensation and a public apology from the Law Society and Mr Wong for alleged defamation.

Among other things, it claimed that Mr Wong’s conduct last Monday was “intended primarily to injure” Mr Ravi’s “reputation, goodwill and standing in the community”. [Extract from MediaCorp’s report]

How could Ravi allow it to be said that Mr Wong’s conduct last Monday was “intended primarily to injure” Mr Ravi’s “reputation, goodwill and standing in the community”?

After all,

— It was KennethJ (son of JBJ) who twittered a copy of the letter from Dr Fones saying Ravi was mentally ill.*

— And it was Ravi who gave permission to said KennethJ (a client) to publicise the letter because he wanted S’poreans to know that he tot an attempt was being made to “silence” him on the quiet (shumething that KennethJ seems to believe in too)*.

That he publicised the letter in a manner that damaged Ravi’s reputation, well taz between him and Ravi. If said letter had not been broadcasted in the way it was, “without head or tail”*, Ravi’s “reputation, goodwill and standing in the community” would not have been damaged because the matter would be between him, the Law Society, Dr Fones and the judge**. Yes, there mighr be cause for a defamation claim, but there would be no publicity, publicity that damaged Ravi.

He and KennethJ are the authors of the injury to Ravi’s “reputation, goodwill and standing in the community”, I’m sad and sorry to say.

Note, I’m not saying that the Law Soc’s employee acted correctly, I’m saying that any injury resulted from Ravi and KennethJ’s actions, not that of the Law Soc’s employee. Maybe, if the Law Soc and its employee decide to contest the allegations, they should make KennethJ a party in the proceedings?

Oh and, I remain to be convinced that the Law Soc is trying to “fix” Ravi. KennethJ, this is S’pore, nor Russia or the USSR. Here your dad was only sued regularly, there he would be locked up in a lunatic asylum. BTW, do you now know the words of the Pledge?




**Reminds me of the case where Ravi 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.

F&N & APB: Updates

In Corporate governance on 24/07/2012 at 7:03 pm

The Wall Street Journal reports: “Kirin Holdings Co. is in early discussions with bankers for a potential bid for Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd., a move that could intensify the battle for control of the Singapore maker of Tiger beer, people familiar with the matter said Monday.”

Goldmans appted to adise F&N and Nomura’s analysis

Far East Reit: Cheapskate

In Property, Reits on 24/07/2012 at 7:50 am

Far East Reit which owns hotels and serviced residences in Singapore, is being marketed at a yield of 6-6.5% Compares unfavourably about 7.9% offered for Ascendas Hospitality Trust (at issue price: expect it to fall to 6ish level when trading starts i.e. price moves up) and 6% for CDL Hospitality Trust

Bet you the yield will have to be improved (giving room for some capital gains) for the institutions.

Another co decides not to list on SGX

In Corporate governance on 23/07/2012 at 6:48 am
Reliance Communications  postponed the Singapore listing of its undersea cable division. In a statement the group said it would “await supportive market conditions and easing of prevailing global uncertainties to proceed with the offering/listing at an appropriate time in the future”.
OK, so my headline is misleading. But MU too delayed its posting for a similar reason and now has gone to the US. F1 too delayed its listing and the constructive, nation-building MediaCorp reported that it might not be listing here after all.
And as I bitched earlier, the FT ang moh CEO’s contract has been renewed, and that his number two is also an FT. 
WTF!!!!!  Ang Moh and other FTs tua kee? 
Especially since the ang moh is talking big about attracting big IPOs (especially Asian ones). Missed maybe three in a row.  

RaviGate: What we need to know

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

(Or “LawSocGate: Some light pls)

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

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

I hope he follows through with his plan.*

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posting: My view on Ravi’s legal skills

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

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

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

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

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

Third time lucky, Temasek?

In Banks, Temasek on 22/07/2012 at 5:10 am

But if investment is another Merrill Lynch or Barclays or like GIC’s UBS nightmare, amount lost will be “peanuts”. Still.

Credit Suisse initiated a series of measures on July 18 to boost its capital position, including a 3.8 billion Swiss franc issue of mandatory convertible securities to new and existing investors.

The securities will pay an annual coupon of 4% until they convert into 234 million ordinary shares in March 2013. Half the issue will be taken up by strategic investors including Qatar Holding, Saudi Arabia’s Olayan Group, BlackRock Investment, Capital Research Global Investors, Norway’s Norges Bank and Temasek. Some of the strategic investors have also underwritten the other half of the issue, which will be offered to existing Credit Suisse shareholders.

Related posts

Estimate of Temasek’s losses on ML and Barclays

Estimate of GIC’s loss on UBS:

Bid tests F&N’s corporate governance

In Corporate governance on 21/07/2012 at 5:32 am

With competitive offers for a beer business that F&N does not, in the end, control, the company’s independent directors should be working to extract the best deal for all shareholders – not just its new Japanese and Thai constituents.

Int’l media’s analysis

First Reit: NAV revision bonus?

In Indonesia, Reits on 20/07/2012 at 6:25 am

Indonesia’s PT Lippo Karawaci may sell as much as 49 percent of its unit Siloam Hospitals in a deal that would value the firm at more than $1 billion, drawing a slew of private equity firms to the sale as they bet on growth in healthcare spending in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, sources said. Reuters

There is plenty of US private equity market sloshing around the region as article explains. And the IHH IPO and the coming one by Fortis (Religare Heath Trust) will ensure that the animal spirits of these investors remain bullish.

The Indon co is First Reit’s financial sponsor: “On 11 December 2006, Lippo Karawaci became the first company in South East Asia to list a Healthcare REIT on the Singapore Stock Exchange with Indonesian assets. Assets in the First REIT includes the Siloam Hospitals Lippo Village, Siloam Hospitals Kebon Jeruk, Siloam Hospitals Surabaya, Siloam Hospital Cikarang, Mochtar Riady Comperhensive Center and The Aryaduta Hotel and Country Club Karawaci, and four Singapore based properties.”

Kinda painful for me as I didn’t buy this Reit. Really dumb as I kept waiting price to correct. I aim to buy a Reit that is trading at a big discount to published NAV. The discount was smallish and now has disappeared. Big premium in fact.

Waz that again Law Soc?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old fashion 60/40 beats hedgies! Lot cheaper too

In Financial competency on 19/07/2012 at 6:22 am

Before they discovered hedge funds, pension funds and endowments typically held portfolios with 60 percent in equities and 40 percent in bonds. Many would be better off if they had stuck with the old formula.

Hedge funds have trailed both the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and a Vanguard index fund with the same 60/40 mix over the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The balanced fund beat the main Bloomberg hedge-fund index in six of the last seven calendar years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Still as Bloomberg News reports: “GLG Partners, a unit of the world’s largest publicly traded hedge fund manager, formed a long-short equities team in Asia co-headed by a former fund manager at Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, seeking opportunities in the region’s stock market.”




HSBC: Returned to roots

In Banks, Humour on 18/07/2012 at 1:32 pm

As a shareholder of HSBC and shumeone with a barbed sense of humour, don’t know whether to cry, or laugh and commend HSBC.

The present CEO is trying to get HSBC back to its Asian (i.e Chinese) roots, out of adventures in the US and Latin America. Funny thing is that in these places it was returning to its roots. 

HSBC was used by “drug kingpins”, says the US Senate, something the bank agreed with. It will be fined heavily. But in the 19th century it was banker to Jardine Matheson and the other British and Indian drug lords who were selling opium into China.

Great ad slogan, “Trust us.  The Mexican and Columbian drug cartens trusted us”. Or “Banker of choice to the drag barons of East & West throughout the ages”.

Dr Chee has a v.v. gd point

In Political governance on 18/07/2012 at 5:47 am

(Includes clarification on missing update)

[T]he government cannot discriminate against political activities by banning them in public areas, while allowing commercial ones to take place.

“My colleagues and I were prosecuted for distributing flyers without a permit but the police said during the trial that a similar group distributing flyers for, say, a tuition centre does not require a permit,” Chee explained.

“This is not provided for under the law.”

Sticky Lady, if she gets charged for any offence, should argue along similar lines. If money lenders and property agents are not prosecuted for plastering state property with their telephone numbers, why should she be penalised? Govt cannot use law to punish non-commercial activities only.

Let’s see how the government and judges tackle the point. Prosecutorial discretion is my bet.

I must say Dr Chee has matured from an angry young punk into a mature leader: from comic super hero to an authentic leader. Wonder if KennethJ, Tan Kin Lian and Goh Meng Seng will evolve similarly? Saint JBJ never did (but then his bravery is the stuff of legends), while Low was never a comic action man superhero, Clark Kent than Clark Kent. Chiam (SIGH) has become the White Knight of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There,when once he was Luke Skywalker.


On 19th July 2012, I noticed that someone had cited me on something that is missing from above. What happened is that I had tot of updating the piece to include my views on KennethJ the sabo king. I then tot that it would make piece unfocused (from a piece on Dr Chee and Sticky Lady and selective justice to one of these and KJ the king clown), so I deleted it. I didn’t realise that I had posted the Update. If I had known, I would have let the Update stand.

Sorry folks for misleading. It was an honest mistake, I swear.

F&N: ThaiBev the bidder?

In Banks on 18/07/2012 at 5:36 am

As you will know, OCBC and its Great Eastern Holdings insurance unit said they had been approached with an offer to buy their combined 18.2% stake in F&N as well as their 7.9% cent holding in Asia Pacific Breweries.

FT reports that the bidder is “a unit of ThaiBev”.  It is Thailand’s largest and one of the largest beverage alcohol companies in South East Asia. Listed on SGX. Interestingly it has distilleries or breweries  in Scotland, Poland, Ireland and France, in addition to Thailand and China. Makes Chang Beer.

Think you got a cheap mortgage?

In Humour on 17/07/2012 at 2:09 pm

Zuckerberg’s Mortgage Has a 1 Percent Rate Bloomberg News reports: “The Facebook founder refinanced a [US]$5.95 million mortgage on his Palo Alto, California, home with a 30-year adjustable-rate loan starting at 1.05 percent, according to public records for the property.”

Serious money

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

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

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

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

Too bad abt the investment banks though

Temasek’s cautious in India while PM’s bullish

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

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

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

Can’t blame Temasek, given things like this in India

CHC: Missing a trick

In Uncategorized on 16/07/2012 at 9:11 am

(Or “Morale that bad meh at CHC?”)

I was surprised to read that a must-go annual major Christian mega-show, scheduled for early August, has been cancelled because of the troubles enveloping CHC. The hubbie of Auntie Sun was the executive director of the show, CHC members provided the manpower to run the annual show, and CHC, this year, the venue.

It seems one Canon Wong announced on the festival’s Facebook and website on 13 July that in view of Kong Hee and CHC “currently undergoing a challenging period”, the festival’s committee had decided not to go ahead with this year’s festival.

While, CHC and its members cannot be faulted or blamed for not wanting to put in the effort for the show this year, it would have been good PR for the church, its members and its “prosperity” gospel: When the going gets tough, the tough get going” would be a great message to tell people about the CHC members.

Or in biblical terms:

— “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

— “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Good boxers never ever give the impression that they are hurt by the opponent’s punches. Remember the “Thrilla in Manila” or when Ali forced himself up when he was knocked down by Fraser in their first fight?

And anyway, by carrying on as usual, they would be showing the finger to their detractors.

They must be pretty demoralised by what has happened: if the five are convicted, they, CHC and its members have failed to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” . They have failed theit God.

As it is, the Commissioner of Charities has made findings of fact that CHC management have failed to appeal. This could account for the very aggressive show of support (members keeping up their spirits by showing defiance?) for Kong, the other four charged, and Auntie, that some (not me, though), including a top criminal lawyer, think amounts to contempt of court.

But I’m surprised that the other churches didn’t step in to offer the manpower for hospitality, ushering and security that is usually provided by CHC staff and members. CHC could still provide the managers, technicans and venue.

As to those netizens bitching at Kong, Sun and the CHC because of the lifestyles of Kong (Sentosa Cove penthouse) and Auntie Sun (Hollywood mansion and lifestyles for herself, and various relations and friends: “The  [African prosperity gospel] pastors’ wealth raises eyebrows. Some have their own planes for jetting between the churches and the offices of their sprawling business conglomerates. In March David Oyedopo, reckoned to be Nigeria’s richest pastor by Forbes, a business magazine that puts his wealth at $150m, added an airline to his empire.” (From a recent issue of the Economist)

Genting S’pore: Short, Sell or Avoid

In Casinos on 15/07/2012 at 7:05 am

The share price of Genting S’pore did not fall after it was reported that ” Today has learnt that a Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) probe against Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) is underway over alleged reimbursements of casino entry levies. The investigation, which started almost a year ago, is understood to allegedly involve hundreds of incidences of these illegal reimbursements”

It should have because:

— In May last year, RWS was fined S$200,000 for illegal reimbursements of casino entry levies.

— And remember CAR ordered it to desist from providing free transport for heartlanders to Sentosa?

These show that RWS is not a gd corporate citizen and if found guilty again it could be fined heavily*, and  further penalised heavily.

But this is not the only worry. The main worry is that RWS’ (and that of other Genting group’s casinos) business model are based on

— a strong focus on the grind (retail) market; and

— the use of junket operators to fund high-rollers, passing on the credit risk to the operators, in return for lower margins (it pays commissions to these operators to bring in the high-rollers and take the credit risk).

But S’pore doesn’t like this model. It discourages locals from gambling at the casinos and its licensing rules for operators are very, very tough. So tough, that no-one is applying to be one. It is afraid that shady operators will launder money, something that is happening in Macau. S’pore’s reputation as a financial centre will be destroyed if the casinos here get a reputation of being conduits in money laundering.

So Genting S’pore has a problem growing its revenues.

And then there is the use of Genting S’pore to fund Genting group’s ambitions: the latest being the possibility of making a bid for an Oz casino that an Oz gambling mogul already covets. Could be expensive for Genting S’pore shareholders. Hence the falling share price after Genting S’pore annced that it had increased its stake in the Oz casino.


*Update on 16 July 2012:

Singapore plans to toughen its casino laws and allow the regulator to impose a fine of up to 10% of annual revenues generated by operators Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore, local media and Reuters reported earlier in July.

The maximum penalty that CRA can now impose is S$1 million (US$785,000). But after amendments to the law are passed, the fines could potentially exceed US$200 million, Reuters reported.

The changes could be in place by the end of the year.

Thailand: All’s well somewhat

In Uncategorized on 14/07/2012 at 5:18 am

Thailand’s Constitutional Court has rejected allegations that government plans to amend the constitution are an attempt to overthrow the monarchy. But it has made the task of changing the constitution more difficult.

The court said that parliament could only only rewrite the constitution on a piecemeal basis. A referendum was needed to decide whether the government could go ahead with the proposed changes wholesale.

The red shirts (pro govt) and the yellow shirts (anti govt) can continue rowing.

Yesterday’s alarmist post

Silicon Roundabout, Island

In Internet on 14/07/2012 at 4:52 am

S’pore wants to be some kind of Silicon …. But

—Google provides office space and assistance to new technology companies in London’s “Silicon Roundabout”.

— NY’s hopeful answer to Silicon Valley. Actually it is trying to centralise activities that are happening in the city hopping to get more bang for the buck.

Despite all the hype from A*STAR, EDB etc, we are a IP hub only because govmin willing to punish those who break IP, not because of creative people. We arrest them for vandalism etc.

Oh and we got accident-prone, dysfunctional Yahoo!. A lot of its Asian operations are located here.

Our Silicion ambitions going the way of M’sia’s Cyberjaya?

Thai market to collapse?

In Uncategorized on 13/07/2012 at 1:40 pm


Thailand’s SET index was up 18% from end of last yr to 11 July. BUT …

Thailand’s constitutional court is set to make a ruling on Friday which could spark a new round of political unrest.

It will vote on whether politicians can start work on drafting a new constitution, or whether that process could undermine the monarchy.

If the judgement goes against the ruling Pheu Thai party, it could be dissolved and senior members banned from parliament.

Markets: Like last yr meh?

In Financial competency on 13/07/2012 at 7:57 am

So, is this July and August going to be as bad as last year’s for the stock markets? Remember the plunges: Reasons to think things why could get steadily worse.

— jobs are being created at a snail-like pace in the US,

— in  China the decision to cut interest rates suggests the economy there could be in a worse state than had been feared,

— last Friday, German bonds and US Treasuries rose sharply and the euro tumbled to the lowest level against the dollar since the beginning of June,

— France has to cut reduce its budget deficit when it has promsed to spend, spend, and

— the Greeks, Italians and Spainards are trying to weasel out of their promises to reform.

The oil price fell 3.2% in New York last Friday – and this was at the end of a week when Iran had been testing missiles and threatening tanker supplies in the Persian Gulf, which should normally have jerked prices upwards.


CHC: A prophecy

In Corporate governance, Humour on 13/07/2012 at 7:51 am

First some recapping:

— CHC mgt says:

“The people currently in the news are our pastors and trusted staff and leaders who have always put God and CHC first,” he said. “As a church we stand with them and I believe fully in their integrity.”

“The S$24 million, which went into investment bonds, was returned to the church in full, with interest… The church did not lose any funds in the relevant transactions, and no personal profit was gained by the individuals concerned.”

— And Geriatric Geisha’s hubbie says : “Kong Hee insisted on his integrity” and “Please know that there are always two sides to a story. I look forward to the day I caun tell you my side of the story in court.”

Going by the above comments by management and Kong,  and the failure of CHC  to appeal against the findings of the Commissioner of Charities, I prophesy that when the court finds him and the other four guilty as charged (Yup I think the court will find them guilty as charged), CHC management, Kong and the other four will simply say,”It was an honest mistake. We know what we did was in accordance with the wishes of the God of prosperity, and we thought it was legal under S’pore’s law. It seems we were badly advised on the latter.”

Based on the words of mgt and Kong, and the failure to appeal against CoC’s findings, the basis of the charges against the Famous Five, it would seem that the factual findings of the CoC is not in dispute.

While there are good legal, and financial (lawyers are expensive and Auntie Sun needs money for her Hollywood lifestyle) reasons not to appeal the CoC’s findings of fact, but to use the coming trials to contest them, the very public assertions of the accused “integrity”, no monies lost, and the deafening silence on the findings of fact by CoC leads me to conclude that

— at the trials, the “pureness” of the motives (saving souls via Auntie Sun’s Hollywood lifestyle and work) will be stressed in the hope that this will lead to their acquittals, and

— if it doesn’t, then they will spin “It was an honest mistake. In our desire to save souls, we unwittingly broke the laws of Caesar for which the five of us will go to jail. Pass the plate round, we need to pay the lawyers and the rent of Auntie Sun’s Hollywood mansion.”

Err someone should ask CHC mgt abt their God’s mansions and how come Auntie Sun and Kong (remember his prnthouse in Sentosa Cove): “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

Indon firms most bullish in Asia

In Uncategorized on 12/07/2012 at 5:39 am

StanChart explains why it’s all abt domestic demand.

A fishy tale from Vietnam

In Humour, Vietnam on 11/07/2012 at 6:12 pm

A fish has been discovered in Vietnam that has its genitals on its head.
More details (New Scientist)

STOMPED! Yacoob’s CoC

In Media, Political governance on 11/07/2012 at 8:09 am

(Or “The difference between blogging and the traditional newspaper story”) 

Remember when Yaacob was  promoting his CoC (Code of Conduct) for the internet, he praised our mainstream constructive media and said they should be exemplars netizens should follow .

We now know what he wants us netizens to do: fake news reports using paid content producers like STOMP. His sis is a very, very senior editor at ST, a sister publication of STOMP.

Well I doubt that in 2012, we will hear anymore about his CoC. But next year is another year, and the CoC is not a once in 50-years event.

I was reminded of the above CoC and STOMP’s paid content producers posing as “citizen journalists” when I read this: [T]he traditional newspaper story derives its force and directionality from the man-bites-dog newsiness of the flat content. It’s very difficult to include expert commentary that depletes or diffuses the newsiness, because it sucks the signifying force out of the piece. In contrast, blogging and tweeting are far more flexible and use many other discursive techniques to supply directionality and signifying force, most importantly personalistic tone. You can write a blog post about something utterly un-newsworthy, say the fact that Barack Obama is president of the United States, and make it signify through sheer emotive presence or stylistic technique. But you can’t write a newspaper story about that.

One great reason why netizens shouldn’t be forced to be like a newspaper, even one like the FT or NYT or the Economist, let alone a publication like ST when even the footie news is distorted for the government’s constructive, nation-building agenda of “FTs are betterest” policy. 

Read the whole blog posting because it gives great insights on how a newspaper, any newspaper from the NYT to ST and its peers in China and North Korea, operate


Why Lord Rothschild is focusing on US

In Energy, Temasek on 10/07/2012 at 6:50 am

Recently Lord Rothschild, a 70-something deal-maker and shrewd investor, teamed up with the Rockefeller* family office. He said the US was the place to invest in because of its growing oil production. The two charts in this link explains what he means.

Well Temasek is buying into North America, though its flagship investment is one dog with fleas

Interestingly Lord Rothschild, unlike Temasek, has no plans to invest in Europe. BTW, he has a palace on the Greek island of Corfu. Time to buy the island?


*The first rich Rockeffer made his fortune in oil refining and distribution.

Asia depends on Europe: Mud in the eye for PAP apologist

In Uncategorized on 09/07/2012 at 9:44 am

(Or “The results of two smartphone manufacturers show where the margins are”} 

A few weeks ago, a PAP apologist ranted in ST about the Lady visiting Europe, implying that she should have visited Asia because Asia was rising, Europe declining. I pointed out that if not for Europe, she would be dead. There is something as gratitude, a word that seems unknown to him and other PAPpies.

Well it seems she is pretty savvy too in economics. Asia is still so dependent on European (and America) growth. Even the nation-building, constructive ST tells us.

Here’s a great example not reported by the local media. Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC reported a 58% fall in net profit to 7.4bn Taiwanese dollars (US$248m) in the three months ending in June. Second quarter revenue of 91bn Taiwanese dollars was worse-than-expected.

This is why: HTC sells most of its phones in Asia’s developing economies at the lower, less profitable end of the market.

Contrast this with the news on the same day that Korean rival Samsung Electronics posted record second-quarter earnings largely due to the success of its Galaxy smartphone. The main markets for this are the US and to a certain extent, Europe. Asia is only a small market for this top-end smartphone.

Reason WP quietly ditched its public tpt nationalisation call?

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 09/07/2012 at 7:01 am

(“Trying to serve residents better, WP ditches manifesto call nationalise public tpt?”)

My WP “Morocco Mole”* (the sidekick of  “Secret Squirrel” in the carton series: bit like Yaw to Low) tells me that at July’s parly seating, GG will again keep quiet on the above issue in the debate after the ministerial statement on the major disruption in the MRT system. Tells me no other WP MP will raise the issue of public tpt nationalisation, as this is GG’s responsibility.

He asked, “Why so cock, when the Commission of Inquiry’s findings  that SMRT was skimping on maintenance can be used to support WP’s election manifesto call to nationalise public transport? Also shows WP can think better than PAP.”

I referred him to this ST report, where it was reported that MPs are lobbying LTA  for better bus services in their wards: all because the $1.1 bn subsidy.

I told him since WP has appointed Ah Huat (remember him?) to co-ordinate its efforts for more buses to serve Hougang and Aljunied, it would be most awkward for him (and WP) to beg LTA, and SMRT and SBS to improve services in WP areas if the WP is publicly proposing to destroy their staffs’ rice bowls. It would have no leg to stand on.

His response, “Tan kuku. Even if Sylvia, Glenda and Angela (remember her?) perform [expletive deleted] on the LTA, SBS and SMRT male managers, and Show Mao [expletive deleted] the female managers, think that they will improve services in WP areas? Why WP so cock?” 

He has a point. SIGH (Victor Hugo: “A traitor always pays for his betrayal in the end.”)

Related post:


*Moley is a WP cadre but not on the Central Executive Council,. He is ex-Barisan. He early last week told me that the WP had tabled only one question abt public transport (abt the release of the COI report). He is right. Which makes WP’s silence on this issue more deafening. Look at the topics raised: what the public wants raised for the most.

New media calling MSM black

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

(Or “Let’s give one cheer to Dr Ng”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the MSM doesn’t tell you abt Shenzhen

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

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

And no FTs in mgt!

FYI, NYSE is at US$12.5 trillion.

Not in our MSM: Sands & Wynn in Macau

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

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

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

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

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s

In Uncategorized on 06/07/2012 at 6:02 am

(Or “CHC members: Why should tax-payers subsidise Sun Ho’s Hollywood life-style?” or “We are subsidising CHC in Crossover Project”)

In this, I pointed out, among a few other things, some in favour of CHC members, some against, that CHC members were wrong in thinking that CHC’s money could be spent as they wished: that it was not their grandfather’s money. This post expands the point I was trying to make because based on their media comments, some CHC members are showing a great deal of entitlement over spending taxpayers’ money over Sun Ho’s Hollywood life-style and Crossover Project. 

Maybe, they don’t realise they are using the money of other S’poreans, who may not share their idea of Christianity, or who may believe in other gods, or even no god. 

Methinks the members of the City Harvest Church in expressing their love and support of Kong, the other four accused and Geisha Sun are forgetting what Jesus is reported to have said in Luke 20:25,  Matthew 22:21 and Mark 12:17 about the relationship that should exist between the church and the state. Luke’s version reads, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s”.

In this saying, Jesus was establishing  the limits, regulating  the rights, and distinguishing “the jurisdiction of the two empires of heaven and earth” according to a famous American biblical commentator of the 19th century

I’ll try to explain the relevance of this quote to the CHC situation.

CHC management and members are saying that how the money spent by the five is a CHC internal affair and nothing to do with others, implying that the Commissioner of Charities should leave them alone: it’s their money and if they want to spend it on their Auntie Sun and her hollywood buddies so be it.

But the problem with this view is that the status of a charity is granted not by God but by Caesar (the state).

CHC could have opted not to become a charity, but it chose to register as a charity (presumably because it was greedy for — OK taking advantage of — the tax benefits and reputational branding of being a charity). It 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.

In return for the tax benefits and seal of gd corporate governance that CHC gets by being designated as a charity, it has to play by S’pore’s (Caesar’s) laws, and in particular, the laws and regulations that CoC’s enforces. These include not “misusing” (as defined by Caesar’s laws, not the laws of God as understood by CHC) the charity’s funds . It cannot pick and choose which laws and regulations it has to obey.

Not their grandfather’s money.

Because of the exemptions from tax that a charity and donors get, the tax-paying public is subsidising Geriatric Gyrating Geisha’s Hollywood life-style and music performances. This explains how the state subsidises a charity, any charity.

As Christians, CHC church members accept that it’s either God’s way or the highway to Hell. Likewise they must accept that by becoming a charity, CHC and its managers have to obey the laws of Caesar. And that if the managers fail to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”, they will be punished by Caesar’s courts. At least there are courts. Their God is prosectuor, judge and executor (OK, also the defender).

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up,” as Hosea 8:7 says.

No wonder other Christians are worried. CHC members should listen to this lady and “sit down and shut up” before they upset other S’poreans with their sense of entitlement that other S’poreans must subsidise Auntie Ho’s Hollywood life-style and Crossover Project.

CHC management and members, and Kong and his Geisha seem unable to appreciate that hard times for the many mean greater scrutiny of the few who flaunt living in Sentosa Cove penthouses or Hollywood mansions, especially when the former are subsidising the latter’s lavish life-style.

They shouldn’t forget that one reason why the PAP government is unpopular is because of its perceived indifference to the widening income gap. And remember, the PAP ministers don’t show-off their life-styles unlike Auntie Ho.

In a coming post (hopefully next week), I will prophesie  that Kong and the management of CHC are preparing the way to take a course of action more usually associated with a certain political party.

Whatever happened to Yau?

In Uncategorized on 05/07/2012 at 11:11 am

This report about how the NDP is set to look like Singapore’s cityscape reminded me of the mystery over the sudden resignation of Chief Guards Officer, Colonel Nelson Yau Thian Hock, in March this year. It left the Organising Committee of the National Day Parade (NDP) 2012 without a chairman.

As he was a high-flyer who was expected to be promoted to Brigader General (assuming a successful NDP) later this year, speculation was rife on his abrupt resignation for “personal reasons”. The mainstream media reported that he was not under any internal investigation for MINDEF, nor he was not asked to resign. Nor were there comments on what a irresponsible thing to do, resigning suddenly, months before the event.

It was rumoured that he was going to contest the Hougang by-election for the PAP (“Yau to replace Yaw” get it?). Slightly more creditable was the rumour that one of the MPs in PM’s GRC would step down, and PM would call a by-elections in his GRC and in Hougang. The PAP would say that if it won both, the two would merge into one GRC.

Then there were the rumours that he was another client of the under-aged prostitute that had snared other seniorish government employees, and private-sector professionals.  But his name has not appeared among those charged, though there are rumours that there a few more people are to be charged (including a prominent activist). But I’ve been reliably told that there are no plans to charge anyone else in this case.

Then there was a rumour that he was dying. Nothing further on this rumour.

Whatever it is, he has not surfaced in the private sector or GLC sectors, my head -hunter friends tell me. Nor as a private contractor (mercenary), a market where British and American ex-officers often find lucrative second careers. But then they are warriors who are combat-honed and experienced, not combat-trained toy soldiers.

CIMB: Isn’t there an election coming?

In Malaysia on 05/07/2012 at 9:41 am

CIMB, Southeast Asia’s top-ranked investment bank over the past three years, is riding the crest of a wave following its acquisition of some of Royal Bank of Scotland operations in Asia.  

It played a major role in  Felda Global Ventures’ IPO which raised US$3.3 billion last month. CIMB, Maybank and Morgan Stanley were the joint bookrunners for the Felda I.P.O. while the same three plus Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase were the underwriters for the retail offering.

It is the IPO manager for the Asian hospital operator IHH Healthcare which plans to go public in Malaysia and Singapore, aiming to raise as much as US $2 billion.

As the M’sian government is the ultimate controlling shareholder of Felda and IHH, this shows that CIMB’s future is tied to the political status quo in M’sia being maintained. BTW, the CEO’s elder brudder is M’sia’s PM.

The CEO of CIMB was interviewed by FT earlier this week and made no secret of his ambitions for the bank. But he doesn’t plan to make any more mega acquisitions. But he talked big. No link as interview is behind pay wall.

CIMB can now compete with rivals including Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase for Asia-Pacific deals, chief executive Nazir Razak said in an earlier interview with Bloomberg. CIMB agreed in April to buy most of Edinburgh-based RBS’s investment banking and cash equities businesses in the region for US$142 million.

The acquisition, which initially seemed to be an “audacious” idea, will complete the bank’s operations and help CIMB boost market capitalisation to more than RM100 billion (S$40 billion) by 2015, he said.That’s about 75% more than its current value. It also targets becoming one of the top three South-east Asian banks by assets and return on equity.

But the problem for him and CIMB is that if big brudder loses the coming general election (expected anytime soon), or wins only a narrow majority, the knives will be out for both of them. Fact that his wife has at times spoken out against the government (She spoke out against the government’s spin on a recent major demonstration which she had observed) will not help him.

As he is a very capable CEO, his loss will cripple CIMB’s ambitions.


ASEAN trading platform: Yet another delay

In Infrastructure on 05/07/2012 at 5:46 am

The launch of a proposed cross-border electronic trading link for South-east Asian stock exchanges has been delayed as the participating bourses are still testing the technology and driving investor awareness, according to a joint statement issued on Tuesday.

“The ASEAN Exchanges is currently in the midst of firming up the launch date of the ASEAN Trading Link that is ideal and amenable to the members of the ASEAN Exchanges and its stakeholders,” the statement from the exchanges in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam said.

The stock exchanges had signed a preliminary pact in February 2009 to develop cross-border trading links to cut costs and attract investment. The launch of the trading link – a common platform to enable cross-border order routing and trading across seven exchanges in the six countries – had initially been planned for last month, after it had been delayed from last year, if my memory is correct. 

In May, Bursa Malaysia Chief Executive Tajuddin Attan said the ASEAN link will begin with the stock exchanges in Malaysia and Singapore in July, with the Thai bourse joining in August.

It’s Official: MU tells SGX to f***off

In Corporate governance, Footie on 04/07/2012 at 7:16 am

MU has applied to list on NYSE.

So much for SGX’s prostitution of its principles. Three cheers for the central bank.

Related posts:,

The best investments since 2007

In Financial competency on 04/07/2012 at 6:28 am

With perfect hindsight, an ideal portfolio in 2007 would have been stuffed with gold, white sugar, Swiss francs and German bunds. Anyone holding that mixture of assets when the crisis began would have seemed either eccentric or confused.

If Minimum Sum increase was “moderated”, why not electricity prices?

In Political governance on 04/07/2012 at 5:08 am
Last Saturday, it was reported that electricity tariffs will decrease by an average 2.5%  for the next three months, beginning July 1: the price of fuel has gone down. Sounds good to me who doesn’t have a wage increase that compensates for the rise in inflation.
But the government’s response to a question on the cost-of-inflation increase in the CPF’s Minimum Sum has me wondering if its formulae for various “automatic’ price adjustments of services etc are not that “automatic”.
But shume background first. Uncle Leong (TOC used to carry his articles*, but now they only appear on his website) often asked pointed questions about the way electricity tariffs were calculated. The non-answer response of the authorities was to say “it’s the formulae”, and imply that it was a mechanical process: there were no attempts to tweak or adjust the formulae without first letting us know.
But we now know that the increase in the Minimum CPF Sum was “adjusted”: the formula used was tweaked (see letter below to ST’s Forum from the Manpower ministry). And worse: if a member of the public had not grumbled publicly about the inflation rate used to calculate it, the tweaking would not be publicbecause I don’t recall reading about the “moderated’ change when the new Minimum Sum was announced.
Now this “moderation’ raises the following issues:
— What other formulae have been manipulated without our knowledge?
— Will we never be told unless we ask? And if so why the secrecy?
— Waz the point of using formulae when they can be adjusted in secret? To con us?
— If the Minimum Sum amount was “moderated”, why wasn’t the electricity tariffs “moderated’ given that world gas prices have collapsed, while S’pore continues to pay above market prices because of long-term contractual obligations, among other reasons?

Increase doesn’t fully reflect total inflation

MR YOUNG Pak Nang inquired about the use of the headline consumer price index inflation rate to adjust the Central Provident Fund Minimum Sum (‘CPF Minimum Sum should reflect ‘true’ inflation’; last Friday).

As he noted, increases in imputed housing rentals on owner-occupied homes and certificate of entitlement prices for private cars contributed to higher-than-normal headline consumer price index inflation last year.

For the majority of retirees, these are not items that would lead to increased cash expenditures.

The Minimum Sum is aimed at providing for CPF members’ basic retirement needs.

The original target, adopted in 2003, was for the Minimum Sum to increase in real terms to $120,000 (in 2003 dollars) by 2013.

Further, besides this real increase, the Minimum Sum has to keep pace with long-term inflation trends.

The Minimum Sum has therefore been increased each year to meet the required real increase and to take into account inflation.

However, this year’s Minimum Sum increase was moderated, and hence did not fully reflect the consumer price index inflation that occurred over the last year.

This year’s increase in Minimum Sum, by $8,000, was one-third less than it would have been if we had followed the usual formula for Minimum Sum adjustments. With the moderated increase, we have stretched out the 2013 target to 2015.

Some of the factors that have led to higher consumer price index inflation in the last year are cyclical, and likely to even out over the long term.

For example, imputed housing rentals on owner-occupied homes have significant short-term impact on the consumer price index, but tend to even out over time.

Over the 15-year period from 1996 to last year, which like most such periods saw the property market fluctuating in both directions, headline consumer price index inflation averaged 1.6 per cent.

This is comparable to the average inflation of 1.5 per cent over the same period if imputed rentals on owner-occupied homes were excluded.

We thank Mr Young for his useful query.

Farah Abdul Rahim (Ms)

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Manpower

*Update after posting: Juz found out via S’pore Surf that TOC carried an article from Uncle Leong dated 2 July. Funny not among the Main Stories.

Europe: Temasek has competition

In China, Temasek on 03/07/2012 at 7:42 am

(Updated on 5 July 2012 : forgot to mention ex-UBSer appt)

Sometime back, the new CIO said that Temasek is looking for investment opportunities in Europe.  He said turmoil in Europe may result in a market slump rivaling the 2008 global financial crisis creating opportunities for Temasek to make deals. Earlier this year, Temasek hired former UBS Chief Financial Officer John Cryan to oversee its strategy for Europe, whereit has limited exposure. The hiring of Cryan had raised speculation that Temasek is eyeing distressed assets in the euro zone, shumething that the CIO has confirmed.

It had better hurry.

The total value of mergers and acquisitions in Europe by foreign companies has reached US$101 billion, well ahead of the combined US$73 billion spent in the United States by international acquirers, according to the data provider Dealogic

The Chinese even have a fund to co-invest with Chinese cos wanting to buy European coms for their technology or brands. Not juz but investment returns or financial egineering, unlike Temasek. Maybe our leaders should “sit down and shut up” when it comes to advising China to follow them? And observe what the Chinese are doing?

Hopefully, Temasek will remember that it bot Barclays and Merrill Lynch, and GIC bot UBS and Citi a bit too early in the 2008 cycle, to be precise in 2007. Temasek sold its dogs in 2009, juz went markets were recovering, losing billions. Given the losses, Temasek will hopefully be more cautious, even if it means losing some great bargains. Catching a falling knife will not amuse S’poreans, the “owners of Temasek” (Ho Ching once called us).

As to why it needs to do deals: investment returns are likely to have without some good deal

Related post:

Three cheers for our Under-16 Cubs

In Footie on 02/07/2012 at 2:26 pm

Our under-16s lost 4-1 to Ajax Amsterdam’s under-15s at the Jalan Besar Stadium in the finals of a tournament. The Dutch side gained revenge for their group stage loss.

Given that the Ajax youth teams like that of Barcelona, Arsenal, MU and Everton are well-known for developing young talents for the first 11, and in the case of Everton for sale to richer clubs (one Rooney was sold, restoring the club to reasonable health), beating one of their youth teams is an achievement, even if the Cubs lost the return match.

We don’t need no FTs as players or even as coaches.

New MICA appt double confirms existence of another STOMP

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Related post on IPS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The school that produces religious leaders

In Humour on 01/07/2012 at 6:32 am

As an RI boy I’m mortified that pastor Kong, the present Methodist bishop of S’pore, and Shi Ming Yi, the monk and former head of Ren Ci hospital are from RI.

I mean RI is a government school, not a mission school like ACS or SJI. Its values should be secular not religious, it shouldn’t be training religious leaders. Or is it because schools like ACS and SJI have become less religious? I mean the head of Trinity Thrological College is from RI too. Where are the ACS brats that should be running the Methodist church here and training its leaders? Screwing under-age prostitutes?

No, I’m not mortified that Shi Ming Yi and Kong have lots of money and flaunted, nor that Shi Ming Yi was convicted of various crimes relating to the misuse of a charity’s funds, nor that Kong is accused of the same.

Nothing wrong with having money and being intelligent (albeit on the Dark Side), but I’m mortified that they were so indiscreet about their wealth.