Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

Yikes! Prosperity Gospel works!

In Corporate governance on 06/08/2012 at 5:49 am

(Or “Gd PR for Kong’s message that donors’ wealth multiply will manifold” or “Other people’s money: taz the Prosperity Gospel’s message”)

When I read that Kong Hee ‘s fellow defendants had all engaged Senior Counsels to defend them*, I tot, “Where get money leh?” A SC is not cheap. In a recently concluded case, the SC’s fees (including that of his team of junior lawyers), I know, amounted to over S$1m. And it was rumoured that Susan Lim, the surgeon, sold her Sentosa Cove bungalow for over S$30m, partly to fund her ongoing case that the medical authorities took out against her.

So I expected the question of whether the City Harvest Church  was funding the defence to be raised by netizens or the MSM, and if the CHC was funding their defence, how come the Commissioner of Charities allowed it?

Or, I tot, maybe CHC had the foresight (thanks to the God its members worhip?) to have bought a “water-tight” insurance policy that covered its managers legal liabilities? Bit like indemnity policies that doctors, lawyers, accountants, company directors etc take out, except a lot more generous.

Then CHC announced that it was not funding the defence. And there was no mention of an insurance policy.

I then tot, “Wah maybe Auntie Sun’s hubbie’s and CHC’s message that donations to the church would cause donors personal wealth to multiply manifold, is true?”

After all, his co-defendants were at best middle management level professionals earning at best decent salaries, so how can afford SCs? They were not like Kong and Auntie Sun who were entrepreneurs: they spotted a gap in the market that other Christian churches were not exploiting, and went for it. The result: a Sentosa Cove penthouse for Kong Hee, and a rented Hollywood mansion a singing career for Auntie (even then she got other people’s money to fund her fantasies). .

Well turns out that Kong Hee’s friends (and him) are “blessed” by their God. According to a  ST report on Saturday, members are rushing to fund the defence of them and Kong. As it’s not via the church, it’s legal. Maybe when the dust clears over the criminal charges, the members should fund Auntie’s Hollywood lifestyle and her singing career Crossover Project direct? But then all the details of all her expenses might become public.   

In “high finance”, a central premise is that the ability to mobilise funds or in the jargon “using other people’s money” is the best indicator of one’s success as a deal maker, and vof one’s influence. By that criteria, Kong and friends are very, very succesful. They can mobilise other people’s money for their own ends. QED: “Prosperity” gospel works.

S’porean Chinese who worship money: forget about going to the Middle Road Quan Yin temple or its branch at Tembling Rd or any other temple famous for rewarding devotees. Juz attend CHC, and make a mega donation.

Leave the rest to the God of the Prosperity Gospel.


*While Kong did not engage a SC, his lawyer charges about the same rates as a typical SC, if not more.

Africa’s next megacity wants to be like S’pore

In Africa, Humour, Political governance on 05/08/2012 at 6:15 am

Eat yr hearts out, and bang yr balls in frustration, KennethJ, EJay, Goh Meng Seng and other S’porean critics who hate all things PAP even when they work and are to the benefit of S’poreans: an African wants to model his hometown on S’pore (the S’pore before Raymond Lim and Mah Bow Tan messed up throughly its infrastructure; and the S’pore before the PAP let in the FTs in by the cattle truck load to overrun the likes of SGX, DBS, SMRT, and Geylang.)

Nimrod Mushi is a lecturer at Ardhi university, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and is one of the experts commissioned by the government to produce a “master plan” to overhaul the city’s infrastructure. Singapore is his role model, and he favours big projects to clear slums and build bridges, roads and out-of-town settlements.

“When we went to Singapore, we could see their satellite towns, their ring-roads, their skyscrapers and their decentralised services, and it’s working very nicely there,” he says.

Where’s the cheers for Temasek?

In Temasek on 04/08/2012 at 3:20 pm

It got 19% of StanChart in its portfolio.

Bucking the industry trend of weak earnings, the British bank Standard Chartered reported on Wednesday that its net income rose 11.3 percent in the first half of the year on strength in Asia and other emerging markets.

While many of its peers, like Deutsche Bank and Barclays, are scaling back their operations after the global financial crisis, Standard Chartered said it planned to increase its presence in Asia, Africa and the Middle East …

… said that it would open more branches in countries with fast-growing economies, like China and India, and that it was looking to exploit the decrease in its competitors’ trading activity.

Wonder if Bank of S’pore provides this kind of service?

In Banks on 04/08/2012 at 7:15 am

Or if DBS’s and UOB’s private banks are even trying?

Coutts recalls a story when a client dropped his wallet over the side of his yacht. One satellite-phone call later and the bank couriered out cards and cash to the next port he was going to. Then there was the diabetic client who got straight off an aircraft and into back-to-back meetings. When he finally checked into his hotel, there was nothing on the menu he could eat, so he called his bank – obviously – which duly sent a taxi there, complete with restaurant recommendations.

Private banks even send their clients’ children on boot camps for offspring of the ultra-rich. AH Loder Advisers has an annual dog sled expedition across the Arctic. While billed as leadership training, these trips are as much about ensuring the children stay with the bank when they inherit.

F&N/ APB: Slightly better terms

In Corporate governance on 03/08/2012 at 6:02 am

Secret Squirrel tells me that the F&N Board would recommend a marginally improved offer by Heineken for F&N’s share of APB. Given that Heineken already has more than 51% of APB, no one would bid against it. So if F&N rejected the offer, and the Dutch walked away, ang moh fund mgrs would be howling in pain and anger, rightly so.

Now let’s see if ThaiBev can block the bid via its stake in 24.1% in F&N. Or will it try to make a deal with the Dutch in exchange for supporting the deal. Kirin, with 15%, will be talking to F&N, to see if can gain shumething for supporting the deal.

Kirin and Coca-Cola interested in F&N’s soft drinks biz which has bigger market share in S’pore and M’sia than Coca-Cola’s: 26% versus 13%. Grewing faster too 10% average growth versus 5% in last five yrs.

F&N on its way to be a property co. Think it will have problems.

FT she-gladiator shames us; SPH papers & STTA shamefully silent

In Uncategorized on 02/08/2012 at 2:00 pm

But first things first: Congrats Feng Tian Wei for winning an Olympic bronze medal. You’ve joined a elite club. Gd for you.

Now to the rant of the day.

Our FT gladiators are supposed to bring glory to S’pore. Err thaz the theory.

PRC FT ping-pong player Wang Yuegu bitched about the umpire and his selection after her quarter-final defeat in the women’s singles competition on Tuesday. Unless Wang Yuegu can substantiate her allegations about the Germans trying to “fix” her , she has tarnished S’pore’s reputation, more so since “there were hardly any umpiring decisions made against her”: in point of fact there was only one. Details below*

She shamed us several times over. She was undignified in defeat, not for the first time**. What will people think we are? Nothing more than Chinese peasants, without manners?

There’s something more important. We native S’poreans have over many decades built a reputation as people whose words have to be taken seriously because we do not say things that are unreasonable, or which we cannot substantiate or prove.

One LKY set the standard. Pre the collapse of the USSR, his geo-political analyses were taken serious by the likes of Dr Kissinger. He also sued people who defamed him, daring them to provide the basis of their defamation. They never could.

So while Wang is a team silver medalist in the 2008 Olympics and in the last world ping-pong championship, her behaviour shames us. The medals she won are not worth the stain on our national reputation.

Even her personal groveling and that of the entire ping-pong association (headed by another uncouth and undignified FT, a PAP female MP) will not remove the stain.

To their credit, our constructive, nation-building media did not suppress news of this disgraceful behaviour by an FT.  But I note that the behaviour of the said FT was not condemned by the publications belonging to SPH***, or the association. If it had been the sport of us native S’poreans, footie, I’m sure ST and FAS officials would have howled their disapproval. And ministers would have joined in.

I hope the silence is only due to the hope of another team silver ping-pong silver model, and not because FTs have to be treated like “gods”.


*Moments after her 4-1 defeat to Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa at London’s ExCel Arena, Wang stunned the Singapore media when she hit out at the appointment of German Claudia Moller as the umpire for their match.

“As soon as I saw I had a German umpire, I knew I was going to lose points,” said the 31-year-old, who is ranked world No 11, and who could be competing in her last Olympics.

“My husband is German, and I have a private problem with them. Someone from their team is abusing their relationship with officials and has arranged for me to have a German umpire.

“They’re abusing their power and I can’t respect that.

“Today, I feel fine personally about the match, but I feel bad for the sport and bad for the Olympic Games that this is allowed to happen.”

This despite Today reporting  “there were hardly any umpiring decisions made against her during her clash with Ishikawa yesterday, it is unclear what the real reasons are behind her surprise and unusual outburst … Wang could not be contacted later to further explain her verbal lashing.

When approached after the incident, table tennis team manager Loy Soo Han declined comment. Likewise, Singapore Table Tennis Association Chief Executive Officer Wong Hui Leng did not want to speak on the matter”.- TODAY

**However, at the World Championship in Dortmund, Germany, in March this year, Wang was shown the red card for protesting a series of dubious service calls by German umpire Klaus Seipold and Kosovo’s Jeton Beqiri during Singapore’s 3-0 win over Taiwan in a Group B match.

She initially refused to leave, and women’s team coach Zhou Shusen and assistant coach Jing Junhong were also involved in the incident.

Afterwards, the Singapore team were also given a formal warning by the tournament organisers on their conduct.

***Three cheers for Today which had words for her and STTA, pointing out that her outburst was an attack on the German table tennis federation, and yet STTA remained silent. Another reason that S’pore is shamed by the FT and her FT-loving PAP leader.


Thailand & Philippines hip: Indonesia is history

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 02/08/2012 at 5:53 am

But Indonesia has a few things going for it:

— two major exports are recession-proof

    — lower cost producer of thermal coal and closer to China (tpt costs lower) than Oz means there will still be demand for its coal; and

    — palm oil cooking oil is the cheapest cooking oil;

— cheap labour attracting the likes of Foxcomm;

— last yr’s floods in Thailand are prompting MNC manufacturers to a “Thailand + one” strategy; and

— consumption now accounts for two-thirds of gross domestic product in Indonesia.

Malaysia is one of the most vulnerable Asian economies should a “perfect storm” of a disorderly debt default in Europe, a slowdown in China and the United States and rising tensions in the Middle East materialise, Roubini Global Economics said in a recent report.

The research firm, which predicted the 2008 global financial crisis, said Malaysia had the highest exposure to a pullout of capital as its euro zone and US bank claims amount to more than 25% of GDP.

The report said Malaysia was among the lowest ranked in terms of monetary and fiscal capacity to respond to a crisis, coming in ahead of only Thailand, Japan and Indonesia.

“Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam appear to be the most exposed to a perfect storm through their trade and financial linkages, while South Korea, Australia, Vietnam and the Philippines … have the most policy space to offset such an external shock.”

Scoring PM 14 months on

In Political governance on 01/08/2012 at 5:45 am

This piece is in response to PM’s cabinet changes 14 months ago and to this on reasons for moving ministers around and out, someone commented, “How about getting a more decisive PM now? A new PM will be much more receptive to new ideas and fixing failed policies.”

Who knows? Will Teo Chee Hean, Tharman or Ng Eng Hen be any better? Could be, but only one of them has held a major economic portfolio for a decent period of time, and in recent months fumbled badly. Teo  is a “security” man and Ng is shaping up that way: surgeon turned security guard.

And in favour of giving our PM a bit more rope before condemning him, he has only been able to choose his own cabinet since May 2011: something Goh Chok Tong, never had, despite him being PM for over a decade. Even PM in his first term had to live with “legacy” ministers: his dad, and duds like GCT, Wong, and Mah.

Post 2011 GE, the PM has done the following to appease our righteous and reasonable anger:

— cut ministers’ salaries;

— accepted the “resignations” of underperforming ministers  (Wong, Mah and Lim);

— thrown money at the public transport and public housing infrastructures; and

— taken measures to control property prices.

He and his government has “talked the talk” of limiting FTs. But while there have been measures to curb the inflow of FTs, many S’poreans (self included) think it is all “wayang”. Even a government think-tank is sceptical about how long the measures will last. As I wrote: ‘the May issue of the ISEAS Monitor, ”[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.’

His government has failed to control inflation: ministers can only make sick jokes about S’poreans who don’t rent homes, or buy cars not being affected.

And in the 1990s, he approved the diversification of the economy into making pills, saying it would help counterbalance the effects of the volatile electronics cycle. Hasn’t worked has it? The economy is even more volatile because pill-making while independent of the electronics cycle, is even more volatile. 

Despite these failures, he could still do good. ISEAS in the said issue points out that the public criticism of govt policy by professors Lim Chong Yah and Phua Kai Hong, respectively, on wages for the and the cost of  medical care for the elderly could

— change the character of public debate from a pro-government versus anti govt dynamic to “a more ‘substantive national conversation”;

– indicate “the rise of a non-partisan intelligentsia” that does not agree with the premises and assumptions of the government.

But then, he could be trying to do the S’pore version of “Let a 100 flowers blossom and hundred schools of thought contend”. The council on internet literacy could be the prequel to a “Night of the long knives”.



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