Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Reasons why Cina banks deserve their deratings

In Banks, Temasek on 31/10/2012 at 10:18 am

For the record, Temasek has big stakes in three of the four biggest banks. Cheong all the way?

MFA is not as productive as its US, UK counterparts?

In Financial competency, Humour, Political governance on 31/10/2012 at 6:04 am

I came across the above table in a Special Report on India in the Economist. Tharoor was using this data to show that India was shortchanging itself diplomatically because it had about the same number of diplomats as S’pore. From my perspective, it is not productive that S’pore, a little red speck, has one diplomat for 6,000 S’poreans. Even the hegemon makes do with only one diplomat for every 16,000. people. It isn’t only SMEs that contribute to the productivity gap.  And the British, supposedly overstaffed, have one fat toff per 10,000 people.

No wonder the photo in ST of one George Yeo shows a rather thin man. No more living off the fat like his diplomats?

Wonder what our Asean neighbours’ per capita numbers are? I’m sure that they have numbers  closer to that of China or India than to the US.

Yes, yes, I left out the fact that the population of S’pore is “peanuts” compared to the US etc, and that there is likely to be an absolute minimum number of diplomats needed for efficiency, but if ministers and the local media regularly boast about S’pore’s per capita numbers, I’m juz using the same stick: to beat the BSers.

Finally, I wonder if our NS men are given the same line I waz given yrs ago. When I waz doing NS in the mid 70s, I waz told that we, had to fight, to buy time for our diplomats, to get the UN, USA etc to intervene. In the early 80s, I attended a course with some senior diplomats. I told them what I was tot. They rolled their eyes and said if the SAF had to go to war, MFA had already failed. No point asking US, UN for help.

Given one LKY liked to annoy the neighbours regularly, maybe MFA was doing a good job?


Private equity increases focus on SE Asia

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Private Equity, Vietnam on 30/10/2012 at 5:58 am

Buyout Firms Increase Focus on Southeast Asia Moves by the Carlyle Group and K.K.R. show their “increasing interest in one of the world’s most promising, but complicated, emerging markets: Indonesia.”

Indonesia attracted a record US$5.9 bn in foreign direct investment in the third quarter. It is a hot despite a bleak global outlook and worries about corruption and corporate governance

Note KKR has juz opened an office in S’pore.

FT says the economies of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are being driven by relatively strong corporate balance sheets, commodity exports and robust consumption amid the emergence of a rapidly urbanising middle class with purchasing power, hence the PE interest.

If Vietnam gets its act together, it could join these countries. Thailand has the corporates and the middle class but not commodities. It manufactures. So it too will be on PE radar.

And taz why the PEs have set up shop here. Convenient hub.

Not Yoko’s fault Beatles broke-up: McCartney

In Uncategorized on 29/10/2012 at 9:34 am

Sorry Yoko for thinking you the reason.

Scandis, Dutch, Germans & Poles speak better English than us!

In Humour, Media on 29/10/2012 at 6:41 am

In the light of the ongoing PSLE debate, I tot I should draw readers attention to this chart.

It is no surprise that our constructive, nation-building, 30-pieces-of silver media did not reproduce this chart. But I’m surprised that our alternate media too did not, despite a very anti-PAP blog being given this (by me).

Circle Line: the unasked questions

In Infrastructure, Media, Political governance on 28/10/2012 at 6:06 pm

I’m writing this on Sunday evening.

On Saturday morning, I read that replacing the Circle Line ‘s power cables would take 18 months, beginning from January next year.

SMRT said the areas between Dhoby Ghaut and Dakota Stations are more problematic, compared with other parts of the network, as the cables sit in an area that is prone to water seepage from the ground.

SMRT’s executive vice president for trains, Khoo Hean Siang, said there are plans to replace all the cables.

He added: “We want to change out to a higher grade cable that can submerge, (be) more water resistant to make sure … the system will last for 20 to 30 years.” CNA report.

But neither, MediaCorp nor SPH reporters asked:

—  “The North-South Line only started giving serious problems last year. It was opened in 1987. Why is the Circle Line giving problems so soon?”

— “Given the newness of the line, first opened in 2009, and with the latest stations connected just last year, how come the electric cables need replacing so fast?”

— “Why were these cables used?”

— ” As the total cost was nearly S$10bn, not peanuts, by any measure, why were these cables chosen?

— “What other problems could possibly happen, given the cables gave problems much earlier than anticpated?”

— What is the cost of replacing the cables?

— Who is bearing the cost of replacing the cables? SMRT? Or the govt? If SMRT, will dividends be affected? Or will fares have to rise?

And neither did they ask these questions on Sunday. and my Secret Squirrels and Morocco Moles in both these constructive, nation-building media organisations, tell me that tonite’s programmes and tomorrow’s editions will not ask these questions.

These are the questions that the media should be asking. I’m sure PAP MPs  and Lina Chiam will be asking some of these question in parliament.  And I’m sure netizens are already asking these questions. But I’m sure the WP MPs will be silent. Too busy looking at their bank statements to see if the 30 pieces of silver ++ have been paid into their accounts? Taz what my disillusioned Morocco Mole in WP is wondering.

At the very least, S’poreans must be told why the decision to purchase a cable, now known to be sub standard, was made or allowed to be made? Was it an “honest mistake” by someone or an entire organisation, or an organisational failure, or was there corruption?

My very simplistic answer is that in the 1980s when the first lines were being built, one LKY was PM. No-one wanted to explain to him why the trains would not be running on time. The Circle Line was largely built when the PM was one Goh Chok Tong, and his DPM was one Lee Hsien Loong, today’s PM, his chosen successors. Whatever history may say about LKY, the train lines built when he was PM lasted over 20 years, before giving serious problems. Under his chosen successors, the Circle Line didn’t even last fault-free for five years.

Sometimes change is not for the better, even ifthuggish methods of management have been replaced by more civilised, possibly less effective, methods.  

And while there is no longer fear in the air the media breathes, the mental “knucklebusters” still remain in the minds of the media.

Asean round-up

In Malaysia, Vietnam on 28/10/2012 at 6:32 am

Vietnam’s prime minister admits ‘faults’ on economy

And its China-plus-one Asean country for MNC manufacturers: In contrast to 2005, the previous time anti-Japanese riots flared, China is not the only fast-growing, well-populated, low-cost market around. Back then, Japanese firms hedged their China risk with a “China-plus-one” strategy, implying that they would find an extra Asian supply hub, such as Thailand. Now, that has grown into a wider “China-plus” strategy, because their options these days have widened to include Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and India. (From the Economist’s last but one issue).

Will Laos join the other Asean countries now that it’s in WTO? Unlikely, but its been growing fast (and under the radar) Stag Yaw should pop across from Hanoi to check out the gals biz prospects?

M’sia’s Westport is planning a US$500bn IPO for the first quarter of 2013 reports Reuters.  Thirteen companies have raised US$6.4bn so far this year on KLSE making it the 4th biggest IPO mkt after US, China and Japan. And CEO and COO are locals, not FTs like those of SGX.

Apple’s in-house fund mgr

In Financial competency on 27/10/2012 at 9:51 am

Managing US$120bn from near Las Vegas


Why the powerful (and investors) regularly screw up

In Financial competency on 27/10/2012 at 5:01 am

“a disorder of intelligence”

Applies to investment decisions too.

Jos too is talking cock

In Economy, Political governance on 26/10/2012 at 5:42 am

Shouldn’t Jos Teo bitch about the Integrated Programmes that make PSLE such an impt exam today, rather than against employers that offer PSLE leave for their employees, and parents that take time off to coach their kids. In my time, PSLE was important to get into RI, Victoria and Serangoon English: once in if no major balls-up could do PreU in these schools (Integrated Programme is juz modern variant), but if one went to mission primary schools, going to mision secondary schools (and PreU) wasn’t that dependent on PSLE results, unless one was stupid. Things got even better when the govt started NJC.  More places for PreU studies.

But then the cycle turned and now PLSE is the exam to pass.

“We are quite mistaken to behave as if PSLE is THE defining moment in a child’s development.”: Err not all parents can afford to send their kids overseas to make sure they get a good education, if the kids get culled here.

And following the logic of her outburst, wouldn’t the logic of her argument mean that the government is wrong to continue curbing the number of COEs? As even ministers and MAS concede that the rising costs of COEs adds to inflationary pressures, even if ministers are wrong to say that rising COEs don’t affect the cost of living of us plebs (those unable to afford owning cars, and have to use public tpt).

Which brings me to the inflation situation.

Remember me bitching in early August that MTI jnr minister Lee Yi Shyan, and the local media covering him, were misrepresenting the pix on food inflation? I had pointed out that there were reports of rising food prices.

Well now MAS validates what I was saying. MAS warned on Tuesday about upward pressures in imported food prices over the next few months and into early 2013 due to weather-related supply disruptions.

Jos has gd company. And this ST guy should be in line to be a jnr minister.

Note: Last sentence and link to Jos piece added at 9.09am on day of publication.


Why Najib keeps delaying elections and why Borneo makes BN nervous.

In Malaysia on 25/10/2012 at 6:50 am

Attended a seminar last week  on M’sian politics:

 — It was analysed that Najib’s lack of confidence in achieving a two-thirds majority was the reason he kept postponing the elections. If he doesn’t get a two-thirds majority, Muhaddin would replace him as UMNO leader, even if BN won again, as widely expected. UMNO kingmakers expect any UMNO leader to deliver a two-thirds majority for BN.

(Note that CIMB’s CEO is Najib’s brudder, so if he goes, CIMB will have a new boss even if the current CEO is the best man for post. I’ve blog on this before, somewhere: type CIMB in Search). To the victors, the spoils.

— Although the Opposition is likely to win a maximum of 6 seats in Sarawak (out of 31) and 8 in Sabah (out of 25), Borneo is a problem for BN because  if PR won a substantial number of seats in Malaya, and would command a majority if combined with BN’s Borneo seats, BN parties in Borneo (even UMNO Sabah) would have the excuse to switch if the terms were right. Victory for BN in Borneo was meaningless if it suffered serious reverses in Malaya.

LKY’s favourite editor

In Media on 24/10/2012 at 5:50 am

Don’t rush out and buy the book by LKY’s favourite ST editor, despite the rave reviews from SPH journalists, past and present.

I hear that in November a very reputable int’l publisher is coming out with a book by ex-ST journalist on his experiences at about the same time. Guy never made it to top. And NO, not by Cherrian George. ))))). Nor by Mano Sabnani, Balji, Conrad Raj, Ravi Vellu, Lee Hans, Ho Chin Beng, Maurice Neo, Edmund Wee or Bertha Henson.

Wait for this book to come out and if it is ignored by Team SPH, then go and buy it. It will be commercially available in all bookshops.

Maybe the Grand Historian of China, Sima Qian, who accepted castration as the price of not being executed for upsetting the emperor  (he had promised his father that he would finish his father’s book) could give us an insight into the thinking of the LKY’s favourite editor and his ilk.

Sima Qian could not bring himself to describe the horror of castration. He talks instead of going down to the “silkworm chamber”. A castrated man could easily die from blood loss or infection so after mutilation the victims were kept like silkworms in a warm, draught-free room.

I look at myself now, mutilated in body and living in vile disgrace. Every time I think of this shame I find myself drenched in sweat.”

But he also wrote that if, as a result of his sacrifice, his work ended up being handed down to men who would appreciate it, reaching villages and great cities, then he would have no regrets even after suffering 1,000 mutilations

Maybe they think the same way. Maybe it’s not juz the 30 pieces of silver multiplied manifold.

Citi: Last dog in the race

In Banks, Corporate governance, GIC on 23/10/2012 at 5:15 am

And we own a big chunk of it still. ((((((

FT’s banking editor suggested that it could be split five ways: “into an equity and fixed-income trading entity; an advisory platform; a US retail bank network; a global trade finance shop; and an emerging markets retail bank.” [This para added at 6.07am on day of publication.]

Having a free media doesn’t mean better quality

In Media on 22/10/2012 at 7:19 am

Netizens seem to think that a media not controlled by the govt will offer better and more sophisticated analysis. These comments from young journalists covering the crisis in Europe  indicate that even in a “free” media, the media often does do not explain the social effects of what is happening and, “Often journalists themselves do not know and do not make an effort to understand what is really going on.”

LKY has always defended the PAP’s stance on the media by pointing out that the Rupert Murdoch’s of this world use their media interests for their personal agendas.

Super wimps, elitism, double standards & other mean tots

In Political governance on 22/10/2012 at 6:06 am

I never had much respect for George Yeo, believing he wasn’t one of those people who one could trust in a crisis. This proves my point : suddenly turned critic of PAP when he sensed he was going to lose, “In war deserters are executed.” And a recent ST article double confirms me right: blames the political climate for his loss, not himself. Aljunied was targeted because there were rumours since the late 90s that George Yeo wasn’t taking his MP duties too seriously. Only a WP goof-up (Gabra Gomez)  prevented WP from challenging him there in 2001.

Worse, for the PAP, the ST piece confirmed what sceptics had always said abt the “younger” ministers: only committed when the going is gd.

ArchieB should juz release his letter. DPM Teo’s comments, last week, did ArchieB no favours. Anyone ever tot ArchieB shld not have sent the letter? He shld make the letter public so that S’poreans can decide if the govt was right or wrong to counsel him on the letter. Anyway, those who got him to sign the original must be happy: makes the government look bad.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong says Singapore has to stay exceptional by remaining cohesive as a nation, with first-rate leaders to navigate the choppy seas of the changing world order.” So why didn’t he sack DPM Wong, Minister Mah, VivianB, Raymond Lim, George Yeo, Lim Hng Kiang and Balaji when they underperformed? So easy to talk now. PM Lee got rid of the first three, and GY lost his seat.

James Buchan, an author, has noted, that “economists, like royal children, are not punished for their errors”. Well by ESM Goh’s record, ministers too are like “royal children”.

And yes, Lawrence Wong, there is nothing wrong with meritocracy: the problem is that those who mess up often don’t pay for the consequences of their failures. In a meritocracy, failures get shown up, to encourage the others.

And it’s over a week since it was announced that two “terrorists” who juz happened to be Malay Muslims were detained without trial under the ISA. But Function 8, and other bleeding heart chattering human rights chatters and bloggers are deafening in their silence. If the govt wants to detain anyone under ISA, use the terrorism label. No-one will say anything. And to be on the safe side, add the “Islamist” label. That will do the trick. And to be super KS, add “drug dealer”.

But I’m being unfair. There is one very good reasons for the silence. No bleeding heart kay poh wants to be associated with a suspected drug dealer or Islamic terrorist, forgetting that the same arguments that apply to their educated, middle class, English-speaking friends who get ISAed, apply to “drug dealers” and “Islamic terrorists”.

And no, the Kay pohs are not Amy Cheongs.

There are two other good reasons for the silence on the “Islamic terrorists”. If the Malay Muslim community keeps quiet, it doesn’t make sense for the kay pohs (can’t think of any Malay Muslims among them) to get involved. I mean the community may very well agree with the detentions. After all, elements of the community were very vocal last year over perceived insults to Islam, filing police reports, and flaming.

The activists in the Muslim community also tend to keep to themselves. I have heard of occasions when Muslim activists quietly admit that they did not come out in solidarity with other activists because while grateful for the help that they (the Muslim activists) get on issues like homelessness, joblessness, HDB and utility arrears and single mothers, they don’t extend help or even recognition to the non-Muslim activists because the latter support haram causes like gay rights and sex education. Wonder if these activists are willing to share a meal with these infidels?

So why should the kay pohs still their necks out?

Funny thing is that in M’sia, Muslim activists (think PAS) have no compunctions working with the people in the DAP and non-sectarian NGOs. And even UMNO doesn’t dare attack the Islamic credentials of PAS. So it isn’t a racial or religious matter.

Finally, MP and committee member WP PritamS said: “Don’t mistake timidity for inaction. With more experience, we hope to get better.” Err wondering what he means by “get better”? “Get better” in keeping quiet?

For the record, WP has

— stopped talking about nationalising public transport despite it being a Manifesto promise and the govt throwing money at the system while enabling SBS and SMRT to have private shareholders;

— made it clear that it wants to be the PAP’s trusted adviser (Show Mao didn’t tell us that a trusted, loyal adviser can have his balls cut-off if the hegemon is upset* ; and

— told us it is willing to help out PAP in a coalition govt. Err why WP changed its mind on ministerial salaries, another departure from its Manifesto?

Heard that in WP HQ toilets, copies of Manifesto used as toilet paper. And members use it as cat litter. Can’t be true, can it?


*Guess this is the reason why the WP MPs are so quiet. Easier to juz take the money.

Asean round-up

In Vietnam on 21/10/2012 at 5:00 am

Thailand’s central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates in an effort to boost domestic demand and sustain growth: key rate to 2.75% from 3%. Analysts mutter about govt pressure on the central bank which is supposed to make independent decisions. Some analysts criticised the move, saying that lower borrowing costs might spur a rise in consumer prices, forcing the bank to reverse its decision as early as the first half of next year.

Japan (one of Asean’s biggest trading partners and source of much FDI is looking to stimulate its economy.

Burma’s president re-appointed party chief but FT and others report tensions in the party. They say this guy is the one to watch: the speaker of parliament who now has been chosen as day-to-day leader of the party: another ex-general. Parly has been causing govt some problems regarding foreign investment laws.

Vietnam’s leaders are unhappy with their PM. Makes investment scene more unstable. And Stag Yaw (remember him?) is trying to do biz there.

Dow Jones Divergence

In Financial competency on 20/10/2012 at 5:08 am

A bullish call But maybe it’s a bearish signal? When the DJI goes up and DJ Tpt does the other way or flat, it used to be a signal that DJI is toppish.

Dr Goh’s Diamond Hard Truth reaffirmed

In Economy, Political economy on 19/10/2012 at 6:49 am

As a retiree, I was getting worried that PM, Tharman and gang had abandoned a Hard Truth that Dr Goh Keng Swee had laid down (and which has served us well, unlike some of Hary’s Hard Truths): Singapore’s exchange rate policy cannot be used as a tool to manage the country’s export competitiveness.  It was a Diamond Hard Truth, engraved in granite, that the Singapore dollar is a key macro-economic policy tool to keep inflation under control.

Increasingly based on the comments of forecasters and the central bank’s actions, I had gotten the impression that the exchange rate policy was being used as a tool to manage the country’s export competitiveness.

This worry got worse earlier this year with inflation above 5%, ministerial jokes about inflation (that even BT contradicted), and the tightening of the FT policy that had employers screaming.  

Until last Friday that is, when the central bank, in a decision that surprised the market, decided not to ease its monetary policy in spite of slowing exports due to a weaker global economy. (The S$ has appreciated since January by 6% against US$.)

And the  Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang said on Monday, “The [central bank] recognises the need to strike the right balance between ensuring exporters are not unduly hurt by a stronger currency in the short-term, and capping underlying price and cost pressures in the economy. However, the exchange rate cannot be used as a tool to manage Singapore’s export competitiveness.”

 Over the longer term, he added, competitiveness could only be achieved through higher productivity and innovation such as creating new products that the market demands. (Ya been hearing this rubbish since the 1980s but the new products and productivity never appear, bit like Godot)

(He could, and should, have added that S’pores exports require imports. Dr Goh used to emphasise that a cheap S$ means export costs go up because the prices of imports used to make the exports goes up. Minister Lim did not make this point. He should have reminded S’poreans of this Hard Truth.)

Mr Lim was responding to a question posed by an economic literate NMP, Tan Su Shan, who is MD of wealth management at DBS Bank. She asked if the central bank would “consider recalibrating its strong Singapore dollar policy and allow the Singapore dollar nominal effective exchange rate to appreciate at a slower pace”.

“The strengthening of the Singapore dollar is a key macro-economic policy tool to keep inflation in check over the medium term,” he added.

Finally, readers might want to send this BBC clip  about local inflation fears to the junior minister who talked rubbish on inflation in August It’s not juz me, it’s the BBC

A plug for something S’pore from Chilean official

In Economy, Political economy on 18/10/2012 at 7:18 am

Hernan Cheyre, the boss of CORFO, a government body that oversees Start-Up Chile and other initiatives to support entrepreneurs, argues that while Brazil will inevitably be seen as the China of Latin America given its size, Chile can become the region’s Singapore, which has prospered by welcoming foreign talent and providing businesses with a stable, well-regulated base for their operations throughout Asia.

Singapore, however, has a long track record. Start-Up Chile is only two years old, and it is closely identified with the current centre-right government, which may be turfed out at the polls next year.

(Excerpt from article in Economist’s latest issue)

I’m sure those S’poreans who hate S’pore’s success (thinking of the many TRE readers) will be banging their balls.

Indonesia: Governance is an issue

In Corporate governance, Indonesia on 18/10/2012 at 6:39 am

I’m bullish on Indonesia, but governance issues give me regular heart tremors.

Nathaniel Rothschild, co-founder of coal mining giant Bumi, has quit the firm’s board amid a row with Indonesia’s influential Bakrie family.

MFA refutes Indonesia news report on extradition.

Cost effective ways of keeping us healthy?

In Infrastructure, Political economy on 17/10/2012 at 5:36 am

Yesterday, I read that the government is planning to do more to help the depressed and I remembered that I chanced across this (see below) response to an Economist blog piece on escalating medical costs in the developed world. It suggests (among other suggestions) adding various soluble drugs to the water Americans drink as a way of keeping healthcare costs down: one of the drugs is Prozac which is a drug that helps control mild clinical depression. Other drugs suggested are statins and aspirin.

Now that VivianB (a MD) is water minister, he may want to help out the Health minister. These measures seem to be in line with S’pore’s policy of spending as little as possible on health (around 4% of GDP) without upsetting economic efficiency or upsetting the masses compared say to Switzerland (around 8%).  And we already drink recycled water. LOL.

Seriously I hope the SDP looks into these suggestions. SDP has a very gd team of doctors helping out. (BTW what do these MDs have to say about:

this plug for govt health policy;

the latent flaw in any public health insurance scheme; or

innovative ways of helping the elderly in ways that don’t cost too much money?)

(Note writer below is talking of the US, where fluoride is already added to the water they drink. Always wondered why this doesn’t happen here.)

America comes up short in international comparisons of health statistics principally because life expectancy lags despite the highest spending for healthcare. For less than one dollar per capita , I propose Ten Inexpensive Health Interventions WILL Improve Health Outcomes. These will lengthen life expectancy, improve health, increase happiness and decrease dysfunctional behaviors.

We already fluoridate the water to prevent dental caries. And chlorinate to reduce bacteria. We can use the water supply as a medication distribution network by introducing very tiny or trace amounts of medicines that have been known to reduce major diseases.

1.) Simple cheap ASPIRIN dramatically cuts rates of Strokes, Heart Disease and now recently proven in a longitudinal study, reduces Cancer death rates by 20%! Put ASA in the water supply–if would be cheaper than fluoride.

2.) Put STATIN drugs in the water supply. Heart disease and stokes are declining for the first time in history. And it is despite the epidemics in Diabetes and Obesity. It is due to widespread use of effective anticholesterol drugs known as ‘statins.’ ie. Lipitor. High cholesterol is endemic and contributes to strokes and heart attacks. Just about everyone benefits from lower cholesterol.

3.) Water Born Oral VACCINES. Up to 30% of parents do NOT believe in the value of vaccinations and many act on this belief. Utilize water borne vaccinations in the water supply, such as the oral polio Sabin Vaccine. Put Folate in H20 to prevent neural tube defects in fetuses.

4.) PROZAC to decrease Dysfunctional Behaviors and improve Mental Health. Far more common than crime is non-criminal personal dysfunctions. Up to 40% of Americans will experience a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetime including Depression, Alcohol abuse, illicit Drug abuse, Anxiety disorder, PTSD, Obsession-Compulsion, Eating disorders. Half of these will remain undiagnosed. And love ones suffer by enduring the mental ill relative like an affliction. Virtually all these maladies would benefit from Prozac type drugs which increase brain serotonin neurotransmitter. It is a vital tool in psychiatry: ‘Vitamin P’. Put Prozac in the water supply and we will be less sad, less depressed and less dysfunctional. It will shrink dysfunctional behaviors, criminal behaviors, afflictions and addictions. It would save BILLIONS in the Criminal Justice System. Lead to more productive fulfilled citizens who are happier. Less alcohol and drug addictions. Less DUI, trauma and killing sprees.

5.) Perhaps an effective future drug to treat or prevent Diabetes or Obesity–put it in the water. We have a new Epidemic of Obesity never before seen in the history of civilization. All interventions have been stymied to reverse the epidemic. We have to be creative about how to address this problem. The water supply is a simple and effective vector that treats the entire population. Observe the effectiveness of fluoridation on cavities for pennies per capita per year.

6.) Ban Tobacco Products, the leading Preventable cause cancer deaths, heart attacks and strokes. It would cost nothing in health care but would literally overnight vault the US life expectancy over the #1. Japan.

7.) Restrict television broadcasts to 2 hours a night of quality programming from 8 pm to 10 pm. We get 24 hours of 1000 channels–98% is garbage programming. It would force Americans to find other more healthy forms of recreation like walking, exercising, reading and even talking with each other. We undersleep and spend 4-6 hours of waking hours watching TV.

8.) Make Supermarkets reflect a Vegetarian Diet. 80% of floor space for Produce. 10% for dairy. 10% for the meat department. Vegetarians live longer and are more active. We have to make it easier and more desirable to enjoy vegetables Likewise encourage walking, exercise, and activity.

9.) Tax Alcohol extremely regressively to the point that consumers have to hurt to make a purchase. They will value that little sip of brandy or Chardonnay even more. Make bottles much smaller at around 100 ml. Like a Coca Cola at the turn of the century: medical tonic amounts. Yes people can drink, but moderation(less than two drinks) is best.

10.) Milk-Based Nutrition/ Beverages. To increase calcium in young persons, make all flavored beverages and hydration drinks MILK BASED. A milk based Coca Cola. We will see taller, more active, healthier citizens. Perhaps the best way to combat osteoporosis in the elderly is fortifying bones in teen age girls. And using high impact sports like simple rope jumping. This will make a difference in the wide spread osteoporosis of the elderly. Your skeleton will thank you decades later.

This is a radically different way of thinking about Public Health, Medicine and Wellness.

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures.

Make Public Health medication an automatic feature by incorporating it into normal plumbing.

Let people OPT-OUT by buying their own water and we will have 95% participation.

We now have an OPT-IN system for medicine that is not working.

Healthcare delivery is a complex problem requiring smart solutions, but sometimes solutions can be as simple as fluoridating water. We need a Fluoridation System for the 21st Century.

Duric: where the “T” in “FT” stands for Talent

In Footie on 16/10/2012 at 7:05 am

One can call it an indictment of Singapore’s lack of striking options, or a testament to his ability to still find the net at his age … Aleksandar Duric, at the ripe old age of 42, will still be leading the Lions’ attack in their international friendly … as the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation because his other options are injured.

“People say he is old, but look at the way he has been performing for Tampines Rovers.

“Week in, week out, he has been giving his best and he has been scoring the goals, too. Physically, he is in good shape and his strength is in holding the ball and drawing the attention of at least two defenders.

“That makes the work easier for his other team-mates who play up front,” says S’pore’s injured skipper and striker, Shahril. (Italics from MediaCorp)

More FTs like him, and less of the Amy Cheongs, Romans, and ang moh caws who beat up S’poreans and abscond, and S’poreans would not have problems with FTs.

Oldies use yr CPF acct as savings, fixed deposit account

In Financial competency, Financial planning on 16/10/2012 at 5:28 am

See the low interest rates available in mkt. You get 2.5% minimum with CPF*.

*Terms and conditions apply.))))

PAP-like quotes on Salaries

In Financial planning, Humour, Political economy on 15/10/2012 at 6:51 am

PAPpies will agree that these three quotes apply to the masses but that the second one doesn’t apply to ministers, the senior civil servants or senior GLC executives.

“Senior management’s job is to pay people. If they fuck a hundred guys out of a hundred grand each, that’s ten million more for them. They have four categories: happy, satisfied, dissatisfied, disgusted. If they hit happy, they’ve screwed up: they never want you happy. On the other hand, they don’t want you so disgusted you quit. The sweet spot is somewhere between dissatisfied and disgusted.”  Greg Lippman, banker, quoted in The Big Short by Michael Lewis (2010)

“Currencies fluctuate; commodity prices fluctuate. Why should we expect earnings to rise in a straight line upward?”  William Shenkir, academic

“The real minimum wage is zero.”  Thomas Sowell, economist (1930–), Controversial Essays (2002)

Tot those of you slaves who have to go to work need shume cheering up.

“Our society” at fault for FT Amy ? & other panties-twisting Cheong tales

In Humour, Political governance on 15/10/2012 at 5:27 am

First, shumething to cheer Amy up: “Look on the bright side. You may have lost yr job and am reviled in S’pore. But in return, yr photos have been reproduced online and in the print media. As you are one good-looking babe despite being no spring chicken (heck, 37 is mother hen age), some rich PRC bloke may want you as his wife or mistress. Think of the infamy and loss of job as the cost of an “Who wants Amy as a sex companion?” campaign. I’m assuming the photos are recent, of course.”

At worse, some IT company trying to get Horny Team contracts, could do worse than offer her a job. Sue looks like an auntie when compared to Amy. Ya I got the hots for Amy but my bank balance is only in low five digits.  

Let’s get serious. we know that she is an Oz citizen, born in M’sia (Waz wondering how come she still gd looking at 37. S’pore gal would like Auntie Sylvia at that age).

Would Tharman and Shan have made the following reported comments if they had known she was FT with the “T” standing for Trash. After all it waz the “FTs are betterest” policy that allowed her in”:

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam wrote: “The person’s comments were offensive not only to Malay-Muslims, but also to all the rest of us who value Singapore’s multiracial spirit and who want to take it further.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam called Ms Cheong’s comments “shameful”. He said the incident confirmed what he had long suspected and had said before, that there are “deep fault lines in our society” based on race and religion.

I would ask Tharman, “Who let her in so that she could mess up S’pore?”

As for Shan’s comment blaming “our society” for the “deep fault lines”: Did he know she was an FT, not a S’porean when he made the comment? If he knew, his comment was mischievous.  After all, the “fault line” is the  “FT” policy which allowed her in. And didn’t his boss say the comments were “isolated”? Shouldn’t he have ascertained the facts before blaming “our society”? Everything is fault of us S’poreans, is it Shan? LKY yr heloo?

And Lim Swee Say while correct when he said “It isn’t about Amy Cheong” was wrong when he said it “isn’t about NTUC”. NTUC is proud that it is part of the machinery of the governing PAP and the government. So continuing employing an FT who spews anti-Malay* invective is an issue. And she had to go because only last December an NTUC MP  (“Flame on” Seng Han Tong Han) was accused by TOC of making racist comments (which technically he didn’t). His PAP and NTUC comrades rushed to his defence but the mud stuck. Thinking abt it, TOC was responsible for Amy losing her job. And if Seng had sued TOC for defamation (he would have won), Amy would have kept her job.

Now for something constructive. PM spoke of “respect”, and this was spot on.

Wonder how many noisy events there were in the vicinity of Amy’s flat in the last few weeks? TNP or TOC should investigate and do a story.

There should be respect for the rights of others. So the HDB should ensure that it does not allow void decks to be used too frequently for communal events. Of course the devil is in the details. But taz why there are kay pohs like PAP activist Lionel De Souza who filed a police report against Amy, to help monitor the situation. BTW,  he learning to be “sensitive” like some NSP stalwarts who filed police reports at the slightest hurt to their religious feelings.

And while some Malays have been preening themselves on the community’s behaviour over the incident (read ST), one wonders if she had made anti-Muslim remarks, would the NSP stalwarts and some other Muslims reacted with vitrol? What say you Donaldson? He put something up last year that had some Muslims upset, even though he claimed at the time he wasn’t anti-Muslim, and doing it out of love.

And KennethJ stop clowning around. Don’t ape the above Indian ministers in talking rubbish. Trying get some cheap publicity for yrself? Yr thesis is absurd. How can there be institutional racism when two out the four of PM’s most ministers are Indians like you? And look at the number of cabinet ministers and MPS that are Indian: punching way above their weight, I could say. I mean us Chinese should be bitching that the PM and PAP have an “Indian first” policy, but we are not. This is S’pore, KennethJ not yr adopted home, the UK.

Finally had to share this great comment in TRE by one Neutral:

Read the rest of this entry »

Around Asean: recent financial news

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 14/10/2012 at 6:51 am

Shares in the London-listed Indonesian coal miner Bumi rise sharply for a second day after a proposal from Indonesia’s powerful Bakrie family to split from the firm. The dynastic Indonesian Bakrie family has proposed a split from Bumi that they helped to create with the British financier Nathaniel Rothschild. Wonder what the guy who bot at 11 thinks?

A.I.A. to pay US$1.7bn for ING’s Malaysia business. A.I.A. said the acquisition will catapult it to the No. 1 position in Malaysia’s lucrative life insurance market. For the Dutch insurer ING, it is the first major deal in its plan to divest its Asian assets.

The founders of Malaysia’s AirAsia, Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun, are set to launch three IPOs in 2013 worth more than US$500 million (S$614 million).

Tune Group, a financial services-to-discount hotel conglomerate owned by Fernandes and Kamarudin, is expected to launch US$65 million IPO of its insurance arm, Tune Insurance, not later than the first quarter of 2013, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the deal.

Meanwhile, AirAsia’s long-haul arm, AirAsia X, recently hired CIMB, Malayan Banking Bhd and Credit Suisse Group for a US$250 million IPO expected early next year.

The group is looking to list its Indonesia operations, Indonesia AirAsia, by the first quarter of next year in a deal that could raise up to US$200 million.

The listing plans also come at a time when Fernandes is stepping down as the chief executive officer of the Malaysian-listed airline to focus on regional growth through Indonesia. The group’s plan to buy up to 100 Airbus jets, potentially worth about US$9 billion, is designed to fuel the growth of what is becoming a cluster of related airlines under Fernandes, who placed a record order for Airbus jets last year.

With an operating fleet of more than 116 aircraft, AirAsia has ordered a total of 375 Airbus jets as part of dramatic expansion plans that include the acquisition of Indonesia’s Batavia Air.

DBS Group, South-east Asia’s largest lender, is selling more than half of its 20.3% stake in The Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) to conglomerate Ayala Corp for 25.6 billion pesos (S$757.3 million). “With the divestment of a 10.4 per cent interest in BPI, DBS will hold an aggregate 9.9 per cent investment in the bank. DBS will continue to have representation on the BPI board.”.

DBS, which has been a strategic investor in BPI since 1999, would realise a gain of about S$450m against the carrying value of the investment.

Ayala is the biggest shareholder in BPI, the Philippines’ largest bank by market capitalisation.

DBS is selling the stake at a time when the Philippines stock market is among the best performing markets in South-east Asia. The Philippines main index has gained some 23% this year, with BPI 42%.

Nice little profit in a rising market. Can’t blame DBS for not trusting the bullishness that the Philippines has got its act together finally.  It’s cyclical, juz like another peace treaty signed with Muslim rebels in the South.

Japan intends to start lending Burma money aiming to help transform Burma into a production and investment hub to rival Vietnam.  “Japan’s big trading companies are at the forefront of the investment effort. Mitsubishi, Marubeni and Sumitomo have signed an agreement with the Myanmar government to develop the initial phase of Thilawa, a 2,400-hectare site close to the southern port of Yangon, which will feature housing, commercial space and an industrial park,” reports FT

Stock ideas for M’sia and Indonesia

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Property on 13/10/2012 at 9:24 am

Playing the property game

What the Opposition needs: an Ivanishvili

In Political governance on 12/10/2012 at 5:57 am

(But first, let’s give three cheers for our LionsXII, FTs and all. They came back fighting and only lost the Italian way: via penalty shoot-out. Sundram shld replace FT failure as Lions mgr. The “S” in FAS doesn’t stand for “Serbia”, it stands for “Sundram”. )

Right back to Ivanishvili

Who he, you may well ask?

Last week in Georgia (the country, not the US state), in an unexpected turn of events, Mr Ivanishvili’s coalition defeated President Mikheil Saakashvili and his United National Movement (UNM) in parliamentary elections. Polls had shown that the UNM would win the election.

The new parliament will convene and a new government will then be formed with Mr Ivanishvili as PM.

According to the 2012 list compiled by Forbes, an American weekly magazine, Mr Ivanishvili is the world’s 153rd richest man and worth  US$6.4 bn just under half of Georgia’s GDP, which in 2011 was about US$15bn. Forbes reports he  made his fortune in Russia during the breakup of the USSR.

He was virtually unknown in Georgia even though he was a major patron of the arts and the church. A year ago,s aying he was  fed up with the way he saw his country was going, he decided he could run it better.  He formed the Georgian Dream party and then got together a coalition of six parties. “The parties have nothing in common except being recipients of his largess and a hatred of the president. Many of the party leaders, who range from Western-leaning liberals to nationalist xenophobes, also hate each other; at least some of them don’t like Mr Ivanishvili much either”, an Economist blog writes.  

Some more abt him.

Too bad our very own TJS, KennethJ, Eric Tan, TKL, Chen Show Mao and JJ were not as successful, financially, as him. KennethJ  claims he was a “successful hedge fund mgr” and among billionaires there are quite a few hedgies. Sadly for KennethJ (and us?) he is not among them. And from the way he ran RP’s 2011 GE and the way conducts himself (taking public tpt, not using senior counsel in his case against govt), one gets the impression that he doesn’t have serious money. 

Likewise TJS doesn’t seem to have serious money. While qualified to stand for the presidential elections by virtue of being CEO of an int’l fund mgr’s regional operations, as I blogged, the biz he ran wasn’t a success. LOL. He then went on to StanChart where rumour has it he had problems with his Indian FT bosses. Rumour was that he couldn’t land the real estate financing deals that his job entailed.

TKL was the CEO of NTUC Income and was earning “peanuts” compared to the CEOs of commercial insurance companies. Anyway, as a politican, he has no cred, having lost his deposit in 2011 presidential election, after running a joke of a campaign. He wanted a $2m annual salary but was trying to fund his campaign via donations. His cheapness showed. TJS showed he was willing to spend his own money. And he garnered the most votes for every dollar he spent.

Chen Show Mao quit legal practice to become a WP politician and seems to have disappeared without a trace except to the residents of his ward in Aljunied GRC. JJ was a successful entrepreneur, who sold his online education company for a few million dollars, and is now a WP NCPM, and investor. Eric Tan was a senior bank executive, and WP treasurer who quit WP when an NCMP post went to GG, not him. He is a “private equity manager”. But none of them, I gather,  has the serious money to fund the Opposition. But to be fair to Eric, a few months ago I heard a story (that I cannot verify) that he donated $50,000  to WP when he joined the party in 2001. I am repeating this story because the guy telling it claims to know him and Low well. Guy is also in the “news” flow on things like this.

So the Opposition is still looking for its very own rich “Godfather”.

Yes I’ve left out someone who is a millionaire several times over and a “retired” politician. Having being a govt minister since the 1990s until last year,  and having a wife who owns a law firm, George Yeo should have the money (even if no billionaire) to get fund the Opposition. Once upon a time, hearing that he had presidential ambitions, I suggested to TOC’s then core team that they should offer TOC’s site to him for a million dollars and five-figure monthly salaries for all of them. I don’t think they followed up my suggestion. LOL. They are idealists.

And he may have a motive: revenge. The allegations persist that the PAP fixed him at Aljunied, giving the WP a GRC.

FCT, Suntec: Cheong all the way say brokers

In Property, Reits on 11/10/2012 at 6:00 pm

OCBC Investment Research raised its fair value on Frasers Commercial Trust (FCT) to S$1.31 from S$1.23 while maintaining its “Buy” call. The interest savings arising from the early refinancing of a S$500 million loan facility and stronger rental income after the acquisition of direct tenant leases at China Square Central are also positives, OCBC Investment said. And after selling KeyPoint for S$360 million (US$292.7 million), FCT is likely to sit on net proceeds of S$357.8 million and book in a gain of S$72.8 million. Frasers is likely to use the bulk of the sale proceeds to redeem half of its series A convertible perpetual preferred units and reduce its existing debt, OCBC said.

DBS Vickers says, “We continue to like FCT due to its stable income profile and the positive impact coming in from its management execution, as evident in Causeway Point’s enhancement strategy. Thirdly, given that it’s trading above book, we see opportunities of inorganic growth.” What the last means is that FCT can issue new units to acquire properties. 

Then there is Suntec REIT, with DBS Vickers citing its attractive yield and the positive earnings impact in the medium term from its asset enhancement initiatives.

Maybank Kim Eng, which earlier this week upgraded its rating on the REIT to “Buy” from “Hold”, while increasing its target price to S$1.66 from S$1.42, agrees citing as positives the progress of refurbishment work at Suntec Mall and Convention Centre and the near complete occupancy of its office portfolio against the negative of  a looming supply glut.

FYI1, AIMS AMP Capital Industrial Reit portfolio value has risen by 5.6 per cent, said the Reit on Tuesday. Based on the new valuation made on September 30, 2012, the Reit’s portfolio is now valued at S$965.7 million. Its previous valuation was on March 31, 2012.

FYI2,Bloomberg reported last month that the local REIT market has led the global league table so far this year, returning an average 37 per cent. That is twice the gains in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan, according to Bloomberg data, and better than Australia, which advanced 24 per cent.

A natural topic for national conversation

In Political economy, Property on 11/10/2012 at 5:49 am

An article in SunT ST last week on farming on the rooftops of HK reminded me that I had written in My S’pore: A greener & more pleasant land about using the roofs of our HDB blocks and other high-rise buildings to create a greener S’pore using examples from Switzerland. I also added, “This being S’pore, we could use HDB roof-tops to be self-sufficient in basic veggies, and range-free eggs.”

Well not only are the Hongkies now farming on the top of high rises, but I have since learnt that the Americans were already doing it for some yrs now: The idea to grow more food within city limits has spread in recent years along with increased awareness about the quality of our food and where it comes from. Advocates say urban farms can also provide important green-space and, when built on roofs, help reduce energy use and storm-water runoff. In dense cities like New York, with high real estate prices, rooftops represent enticing, unused space. Several cities, including New York and Seattle have revised zoning and building codes to help encourage the practice.

Maybe Khaw can get his planners to see if leasing out the roofs of HDB blocks to wannabe farmers can help lower the cost of the HDB flats to S’poreans?

And this is a natural topic for our National Conversation (Ya silly pun, I accept). It is a non-political topic of conversation for the S’pore of 2030.

Only SDP and NSP activists, Ravi the lawyer, KennethJ, Goh Meng Seng and TJS will strain out gnats to find a political angle to this issue. LOL.

Related link: Parks along abandoned railway tracks in the sky (NY) and on the ground (England)

Three ways to invest indirectly in Apple

In Financial competency on 10/10/2012 at 6:34 am

Came across this link (Remember the German panzers smashed their way thru Western Europe and almost conquered Russia by using the “Indirect Approach”)

But why you may not want to buy Apple Remember the Germans still lost because they got the basics (the strength of Russia and the US, and the defiance of the British wrong.

NatCon: More cynical than Wayang?

In Economy, Political governance on 10/10/2012 at 5:52 am

Many (self included) think that NatCon is Wayang. But could it be even more cynical? Is NatCon’s aim  to distract us from the govt’s mismanagement of the economy. This unworthy tot struck me when I read DBS’ analysis of the S’pore economy last week.

DBS says that high inflation in recent years is mainly made in Singapore and this has affected overall competitiveness. High COE premiums and rentals, as well as the continued increase in labour cost are the key drivers. Ironically, the bulk of these were policy-induced, it said. [Translation: Inflation is fault of the govt leh]

It goes on, “The tightening in foreign labour inflow in particular, is creating significant strain on enterprises and eroding Singapore’s cost competitiveness. The near- term impact is higher labour costs, compression of profit margins and the tendency for companies to pass on this higher cost to consumers, resulting in higher inflation. Thus, in a bid to restructure the economy, growth and competitiveness have been affected, and just when the global cycle is weak.” [Translation: The govt’s policy of reducing FT inflow is making it more difficult to growth the economy]

So given that stagflation (economy not growing or is shrinking, but inflation is remains high: “Singapore’s consumer price index rose 3.9 percent in August from the year before, more than double the 1.7 percent rate in the U.S., the world’s biggest economy. Inflation in the island state averaged 5 percent for the past year<” reports Bloomberg) is the fault of the govt, what would distract the masses and netizens more than get them engaged in something irrelevant and entertaining? Even if the netizens don’t take part, they are so busy bitching abt it that they forget (or don’t realise the economy ‘s failings) to criticise and highlight the mismanagement of the economy by the government. So NatCon is the PAP’s answer, juz like in Roman times, the emperors had “Bread and circuses” to keep the rabble in Rome happy and distracted when the barbarians were crossing the frontiers?

Waz sad is that PM thinks he has to resort to gimmicks like this. He made a gd start getting rid of underperformers and supernumeries in the cabinet. He then started spending our money on making life more comfortable for us. He should execute the latter well, not get distracted by PR gimmicks.  If executed well, spending more of our money on ourselves will win back the voters.


CIMB, OCBC interested in stake in Thai bank

In Banks on 09/10/2012 at 5:32 am

OCBC and CIMB have signed non-disclosure agreements as they consider bidding for General Electric’s stake in Bank of Ayudhya, Bloomberg News reports. MayBank is interested as usual, but doing nothing, as usual. I’m surprised that OCBC is interested.  

Bank of Ayudhya is Thailand’s top or second-ranked provider of credit cards, car loans and personal finance, having bot businesses from HSBC, GE and AIG, among others.


In Footie on 08/10/2012 at 8:53 am

Relax guys. Juz go out and make sure that Armed Forces don’t score. And try to nick a goal. We can’t expect more than that.

BTW, I smell a rat in the plan to dismember the LionsXII squad. FAS and its Serbian coaches afraid that LionsXII (an almost all local affair) will show how FAS and the Serbian mafia have wrecked our local teams? The govt and S’poreans should remind them that the “S” in FAS stands for “S’pore”, not “Serbia”.

Why the ‘T’ in the FT is not Talent but Trash: ICA not checking with police?

In Humour, Political governance on 08/10/2012 at 5:33 am

Did you know that ST reported that an Indonesian jailed with having sex with an underage prostitute, had just become a PR? I learnt this yesterday via TOC. This a few weeks after reading in TRE that ang moh gaw, Robert Dahlberg, who “moved on” while on bail, received his PR even after he had been charged for beating up two true blue S’poreans at Suntec City in 2010.

So it’s OK to be a PR despite having being charged with a sexual offence or beating up people? Shouldn’t the PR approvals have awaited the court’s decisions.

One wonders if the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), part of Home Team, which processes and approves PR applications, has done a thorough, robust check on applicants before approving them.  If ICA doesn’t even bother to check with other S’pore government agencies, how can we trust that it makes checks overseas. Are the qualifications from say Shangrilla uni or Utopia Biz School genuine? Do the schools even exist?

No wonder we  got the following PRC FT cases.  A PRC man invested S$1.5m so that he and his family could get PR. He apparently lied in his PR application that he was a senior executive in a private biz, when in fact he was a mid-ranking Chinese bureaucrat who stole the money. And then there were the case a few years ago of two PRs who ended up as food hawkers here (This only known because they were the victims on an attack). Or the PRC PR who worked here as a shop assistant. This only became known because she was found guilty of assaulting a SMRT officer who tried to stop her from “cheating” SMRT over her child’s fare. She refused to repent, saying she was in the right.

I hope a PAP MP asks the government to explain why ICA does not check with other govt agencies on whether applicants had criminal charges against them? And whether there are any other checks with other govt depts. This failure to check goes to the heart of the government’s credibility on its claim that it has a Foreign Talent policy, not a Foreign Trash policy, as many readers of TRE suspect.

Or could it be that inter-agency communications are lacking, be it the IT systems or the work flow processes?

Whatever the reason, PAP MPs should be concerned that the govt’s cred is at stake. It could cost them votes at next GE.

I don’t think the WP will ask the question. I suspect that, based on its parly performance so far, it is a sleeping co-driver, who prefers to let sleeping dogs continue sleeping. Doubtless Pritam is dreaming of being a millionaire minister, and Show Mao of being a well-paid adviser to a GLC or the PM.

Finally, juz wondering: Maybe the ICA officers are subversives trying to sabo the govt? They are Dr Chee groupies? After all he has lots of groupies in NUH. LOL.


PS: Piece on a possible connection between NatCon  and the problems (highlighted by DBS) that the government created for the economy should now appear on Wednesday.

Indonesia: An interesting statistic

In Corporate governance, Indonesia on 07/10/2012 at 10:01 am

Less than US$1bn of the US$26bn in net equity inflows into Asia outside of Japan have gone to Indonesia this year, HSBC estimates. Seems that there isn’t enough quality investments there. Well we know corporate governance is an issue even among friends

Trading on superstitution

In Financial competency, Humour on 06/10/2012 at 6:07 am

Only a Chinese boy would combine stock market trading with mum’s superstitutions.

What brillant ideas to make $ and do gd

In Uncategorized on 05/10/2012 at 9:50 am

And this

Iris Lapinski, boss of Apps for Good, another social enterprise, which gives technical training to youth of difficult backgrounds in more than 100 schools in Britain, agrees that entrepreneurship is a way out from financial and personal struggles. It is a much more dynamic approach to creating social change than mere charity, she says …  Apps for Good takes early-stage ideas from students as young as 15 years and asks technology experts from companies, ranging from Dell to Research in Motion, to judge them.

A plug for Team PAP

In Political economy, Political governance on 05/10/2012 at 7:22 am

Many have castigated (self included) the ruling PAP for being mean to S’poreans despite its our money that it refused to spend. Things are changing as I’ve been blogging recently (example), even if others don’t appreciate or notice it.

But here’s shumething to reflect on from  a blog of PAP’s favourite “running dog” int’l publication (it advocates things like CoEs and road-pricing and GST and low corporate taxes):  Here lies a problem that has dogged nations all through this crisis (and still dogs nations outside the euro zone like Britain and America). The collapse of tax revenues in 2008 and 2009 caused deficits to soar, and made public finances look unsustainable. But when you start from a very large fiscal deficit, it is hard to get back to balance. Do it too quickly and you squeeze the economy too hard; do it too slowly and the markets may not finance you. I am not aware that Keynes dealt with this problem (although I’m happy to stand corrected, if anyone has chapter and verse). Of course, the best answer is growth (a consummation devoutly to be wished) but we are very good at talking about it, and a lot less good at producing it.

The PAP avoids fiscal deficits. So taz one problem we don’t have. But look out for my Monday piece on the problems that the government created for the economy. Not me but from DBS Bank.

“Honest conversation” on FTs: Let’s have it, not juz pretend that we’ve having it, Iswaran

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 05/10/2012 at 6:16 am

S’poreans must have honest conversation about immigration: S Iswaran late last week. But will we be allowed to, minister?

No, I’m not talking abt what Uncle Leong pointed out about the growth in FTs despite all the talk of by the government of it being curtailed. The analysis and comments of Uncle Leong and many others based on the government’s very own data has resulted in this attempt via originally new media (then amplified by the constructive, nation-building media) at damage control.

And let’s ignore what rogue scholar, TJS, has somewhere analysed*: that it’s not true declining population lead to economic ruin. He is after all, as Lawrence Wong, would put it “anti-PAP”. And he could even, at a stretch, be classified as one of Sim Ann’s  demons who  “spew hate and prejudice against individuals or groups”. Remember, he bitched against bungalow owning ministers, when, I’m told, he too has a bungalow.

No: My complaint is why don’t we get told how well Japan is doing?

A country has three choices when its TFR (total fertility rate) drops Get the TFR back up; encourage immigration; and do nothing i.e. let the population age.

Most countries try to increase TFR, some succeed. Japan tried it, failed and as it doesn’t do immigration, it prefers to use robots, it is managing the decline in population.

Japan has shown, a country with a declining population can still do better than other developed countries as figures from HSBC (published earlier this year) show which contradict the doom and gloom that one LKY says abt Japan.

Growth per capita in the 2001-2010 decade

Japan 1.6%

UK 1.2%

Germany 0.8%

US 0.7%

France 0.6%

And looking at the overall GDP numbers, Japan’s record is as good as that of the Germans, who now have created the Fourth Reich in Europe.

US 1.6%

UK 1.5%

France 1.2%

Germany 0.8%

Japan 0.8%

So the Japanese have well, considering their aging and declining population. Perhaps our PM should be listening to them, and trying to take some tips, especially on the use of robots (say to replace Lawrence Wong and Sim Ann who seem to be stuck with some PAP robotic messages that are a throwback to when LKY ruled the roost). And get dad to stop talking rot on Japan.

As to the need of the elderly population needing younger S’poreans to pay taxes to keep the place going, that both PM and Tharman mumble about, ain’t the governing PAP forgetting that it instituted the CPF system precisely to avoid a “Pay as You Go” social security system. (OK, OK, I’m unfair on the PAP on this but two can play the BS game.)

It’s you die, if you got no CPF (Don’t look to VivianB for help. He will only sneer at you for being poor) So by the PAP’s own account, the elderly (like me) don’t need a growing and younger workforce to support.

So Minister, although you are a Hindoo, somehow I think this verse from the bible is applicable to you (and your fellow ministers) when it comes to having an “honest conversation” about FTs:

(Note “mote” means “a particle of wood or chaff” i.e. it’s very, very tiny)

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.


*Sorry no link as I’m not too impressed by his analysis. He left out that his favourite Nordic countries tax its people too much for my taste.

GIC: News not reported by SPH, MediaCorp/ LionsXII

In Footie, GIC, Media, Private Equity on 04/10/2012 at 6:36 pm

GIC recently sold out of its investment in British Airports Authority

According to FT, the sellers recovered their investment and a little more: not a good deal. But these are difficult times.

Still trying to buy some assets, despite being turned down before at same price

On totally different issue, relax Young Lions. Playing winning football, not attractive football. Fans will forgive you if you play ugly and get into finals. And remember, other side has more to lose than you.

The mind of a con man and his victim

In Financial competency, Uncategorized on 04/10/2012 at 6:26 am

Given the news about police raids on a gold trading firm, this sounds topical:

Blame GCT and Lee Jnr, not LKY

In Political governance on 03/10/2012 at 5:26 am

(Or “Why blood is always thicker than water”)

Following this post wondering why shumeone very senior from ST was dredging up quotes from a long time ago to show that one LKY preferred S’poreans to FTs; JG, a reader, responded in defence of LKY. Before readers brand her a “running dog” like the ST chap, pls remember that she wrote this: on why the PAP will fail: ’cause “always behind the curve”. And also remember that the FTs are “betterest”policy took off when his son became PM.  

(BTW, JG, you may not have heard the rumour that LKY was alleged to have said that he tot that DPM Teo would have made a better PM than his son. He was rumoured to have muttered this after it was alleged that his son told him to desist from campaigning for (or is it against?) the PAP in last year’s GE.)

I have a different take. When he was PM, he was on the “right side” of the immigration debate. As shown in the 1971 speech, he was shrewd enough to realise that certain FTs will fit in (eg : M’sians), certain won’t. And preserving social ethos is as important as iimmigration numbers. And the need to weed our reliance on FTs.

Under GCT and LHL the immigration policy went on “auto-pilot” and by definition, went astray. They took in FTs by the bus loads to gin up the GDP.

Throughout this period, LKY streneously defended the Govt. Asked S’porans to “grow their spurs”, either fast growth or be prepared to send your kids to work as maids overseas etc. Why the change?

I think its because when it comes to his own son, his instinctive paternal reaction is to defend. I dare say that the old LKY would have disapproved of the way LHL handled many issues. The old LKY dares so say things, and take position, like saying that certain cultures won’t fit in (eg : Filipinos), so hold them off in terms of immigration. The old LKY wouldn’t fumbled the way the “national conversation” was handled. And wouldn’t ditter for so long about fire or not fire Wong Kan Seng, Mah Bow Tan.

After GE2011, LKY volunteered to step down from cabinet. After he volunteered, GCT no choice but to follow. I think he recognised immigration is now a big bugbear. And he recognised we’ve taken in quantities and qualities that make integration difficult. So he spoke what you pointed out in your article.

But a father’s love for his son, can sometimes still blind him to objectivity. That’s why I think its easier for him, if his son were not in charge. He can be a bit more Mahathir like. With his son, he can’t and won’t.

StanChart: Troubles never come singly

In Banks, Indonesia, Temasek on 02/10/2012 at 6:44 am

The British bank where Temasek has a controlling stake of 19%, which agreed in August to pay the New York state’s top banking regulator US$340 million to settle money-laundering allegations (and in the process making a PAP apologist look even more stupid: he attacked the NY regulator as a “rogue prosecutor”), may be at risk of losing money on a US$1 billion loan to an Indonesian tycoon to buy shares in an Indon mining company*controlled by the family of an indon presidential candidate. He bought the shares at abt 11 sterling last yr. Now under 150 pence.

In the 70s and 80s, StanChart was the go-to bank for goofs but in the 1990s and noughties (aside from employing one TJS) it gained a reputation as a bank that didn’t do silly things: not anymore.

So far in the scheme of things, the losses are “peanuts”. Let’s hope there is no mega encore.


*Related post:

Food, glorious food

In Uncategorized on 01/10/2012 at 12:37 pm

A few weeks ago, I met the publisher and CEO of Epigram books. A 60-something entrepreneur, rather than take things easy (he has a succesful design company), a few years ago, he decided to go into publishing books here.  He is a brave man. I know the economics of book publishing having been involved in the setting up of a textbook publisher in KL. It was sold in 2011, with the founder losing a few million $ in the process.

I bot some books that looked interesting, and here’s one I tot would interest readers of this blog: Mum’s Not Cooking which promotes itself as “What do you do when you’re homesick for some Singapore food, but you can’t really cook, mum’s nowhere nearby, or there’s no hawker centre … Recognising that you may not easily obtain ‘authentic’ ingredients if you’re based overseas where you are … suggests food substitutions to help you approximate that taste for home”.

Would have been very useful all those many years ago when I studied (London) and then worked (Oz) overseas.

Its shumething for self or friends moving on overseas for some time or permanently.

So if you are planning to move on overseas (not juz to Johor or other parts of Malaya, or Batam or Bintang), or know someone who is going to study, or work  abroad, get him or her a copy of this book which should be available at a bookshop. If not google for Epigram Books and contact the staff. I’m sure they will tell you where to get a copy.

As a present, it doesn’t cost much and will be appreciated.

F1: Sharing the $1bn in value add with the losers?

In Economy, Media, Tourism on 01/10/2012 at 5:46 am

Singaporeans must accept F1 race as necessary event: MTI (The Trade and Industry Ministry says the community must accept the Singapore Formula One race as a necessary event in Singapore. This is because the race has reaped benefits such as enhancing Singapore’s image and bringing in more tourism receipts.)


Teo Ser Luck: Singaporeans must accept F1 as a necessary event

So how abt sharing the benefits with the losers?  Especially since F1 will bring S$1b “additional value-add” for economy, says Iswaran. (S’pore expects expenses to drop about 15% to 20%, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The cost of the race is about $150 million, with the government co-funding 6o% of the amount, reminded S. Iswaran, “Singapore’s second trade minister, who’s responsible for developing the tourism industry”. What he didn’t say is that hotels have to pay a special levy of 30% on room rates during F1 period, if they are “track-side” hotels and 20% for the others. )

Compensate the retailers at Suntec City  and those who work in the city? Tax rebates for them? If no such sharing of the benefits, then it’s some private profits, and big state windfall (via taxes and other levies), and public inconvenience and some private losses. Readers might also like to know that it costs at least US$120m to build a dedicated F1 circuit (excluding, it seems, land costs), so by inconveniencing commuters and some retailers, the government is passing on the one-off cost of building a F1 track to some S’poreans annually. Whoever said there isn’t a free lunch? More reason to offer compensation.  

BTW, before the race, our constructive, nation-building media gave the impression that a deal-breaker was S’pore’s demand that it be charged a nominal fee for the race (Monaco pays nothing because until S’pore’s F1, it was the only F1 race on public roads.) Well it seems, S’pore was told to f***off and it got buggered: “Ecclestone refused to confirm the cost of the new contract, although he did hint that negotiators for the Singapore race had failed to extract a Monaco-style race fee exemption. It is thought that they argued for one, pointing out how successful the race has been for sponsors.

Mr Iswaran only said there has been “a discount in franchise fees for the new contract”: whatever happened to the deal-breaker? The silence from our media on the issue is deafening.

Seems that Bernie said that the Thais willing to stage a F1 night race in Bangkok if he pulled out of S’pore.

Related post: BTW not seen any details of estimated 2012 revenues despite all the talk of benefits.