Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

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.


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