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Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page

Two cheers for Azmoon Ahmad for publicising 1 May rally

In Humour on 30/04/2013 at 6:47 am

The chairman of AMP deserves the thanks of Gilbert Goh and friends, and all those who call for “Think S’porean First” for the publicity for the rally. By asking Nizam Ismail to “disassociate himself from the AMP” if he was planning to speak at the rally, according to this TRE report, he (Azmoon) ended up helping publicising the 1 May rally more widely.

When the local media reported him as “emotional and close to tears”, maybe he was feeling low because he knew he wasn’t long for the cushy job of AMP chairman. Surely the Sith Lord is upset that an Imperial Storm Trooper (Non Combat) saboed the Dark Side’s attempts to keep news out of the rally out of the pages of our constructive, nation-building media? And of having to explain why PAP MPs are more equal than others when it comes on serving on non- political organisations. And that the govt still practices the Hard Truth of withholding funding of those who fall out of line. [This last sentence added after first publication at 7pm]

As to Azmoon’s comments about “attacks”, err waz wrong with Nizam telling S’poreans why he resigned? In fact, if the local media carried the official spin of why he resigned before he went public (I’m not too sure which came first because the dates of the various articles have confused me), then he is more than justified to explain his position. Juz countering the spin.

Nizam is walking his talk of being transparent and open.

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Which bits of world are growing faster or slower

In Economy on 29/04/2013 at 5:45 pm

Does SAF really value those who serve NS?: TRE readers respond

In Public Administration on 29/04/2013 at 5:37 am

TRE republished this and Danny related his experiences both with the SAF and SCDF (who seems to be as dysfunctional as SAF) over his eligibility for a medal (Juz realised I never got one for reservist). The issue was resolved in his favour because he had all his records. I’d hate to have served with such an “on” guy.

Still when it came to vouchers he got short-changed by SCDF. He finally wrote to the PMO who must have shoved a few grenades up some asses. Justice was done. But he shouldn’t have had to complain to PM; given that his records were juz (OK 10 months ago) updated by SCDF and SAF.

I was given NS45 $80 voucher and that bcos I did not complete my NS till age 40.Problem is I did. They don’t have my record? Well, 10 months earlier when I wrote to Army (NS) Centre regarding my entitlement to medals but was old by an officer that I was not eligible for it. On probing further, they said that they had handed my records to SCDF when I was transfered there after my Army unit standown. Calling SCDF (NS) Centre, they claimed that I had only 1 ICT during my term in SCDF thus not entitled to any medals n that I should go back to the Army (NS) to claimed from them n that SCDF did not had my Army records. I was pushed around! On further call to Army (NS) n threaten to go public, the officer claimed that they don’t have my NS records. Bloody hell, they lost my NS records but conveniently lied to me that I was not eligible! Then mindef (NS) told me that unless I can shows or provides evidences n records of my reservist trg, I will not be able to claimed/entitled to any medals! Fucking shit! So I am guilty till I can proof I am innocent? Fart them!

Luckily I still had all my records after ROD for 28 years! KNNCCB,after submit in my records only they emailed me saying I am entitled to just 1 medal! This was bcos to Army (NS) n SCDF, I did not come my reservist up to aged 40! Farting shit! They only interested only the nos of years trg in their own formation and did not take into consideration my combined Reservist training in both SCDF n Army! This is nothing compare to what follows: After having proof and they claimed they had updated my record, the trouble came during the NS45 vouchers. I was given $80 voucher n again claimed I did not complete my full term. I called the Officer which handled my “medal entitlement case” n she promised she will look into it. Days & weeks passed,I wrote in saying that if they wouldn’t get back to me I will go to different avenue to appeal. Since SCDF under Home Affair n Army under Mindef and they seem don’t talk to each other , I have no choice but write to someone who is incharged of both these stupid ministries! I wrote to PM Lee HL and received an email saying that the matter will be look into by SCDF! Back to square one! Two weeks later, an SCDF Asst Director (NS) called to said that its an oversight and I will be given an extra $20 n a year Hometeam Club menbership!! I told him to I wanted it in black & white and also told him that I am more interested in those Reservist (nos in thousands)who had the same problem as me but were shortchanged! He claimed that they are looking into it and assured me that these people will be informed n their entitlement adjusted. My friend, same case as me, will swit n see (2 weeks time) if they will really adjust his entitlement. If not, I will call this AD and gave him a piece of my mind n go public. Anyone out there same case, pls leave amsg…thks.

Then there is this post that alleges that National Service Resort & Country Club allows FTs to join, crowding out those who serve from chalets and other goodies.

whyliketat1:

Does SAF value those who serve NS ?

Let get the answer from NSRCC. Read on and you will find the answer NO.

National Service Resort & Country Club (NSRCC) is a golf and country club set up to recognise the contributions of operationally ready NSmen to Total Defence. Its membership is open to NSmen who have performed national service, as well as full-time NSmen.

The first Committee to Recognise the Contributions of Operationally-Ready NSmen mooted the idea of setting up a premium but affordable golf resort for NSmen. The club was officially opened in March 1994 as SAFRA Resort & Country Club. It was later renamed National Service Resort & Country Club (NSRCC) to better reflect the composition of its membership that comprises NSmen from the Army, Navy, Air force, Civil Defence and the Police Force.

http://www.nsrcc.com.sg/about-the-club/national-service-resort-country-club

Now, it even open for Non-Citizen who did not serve national service.

Bungalow and it facilities is open for non-citizen booking. No wander member got difficulty in getting a unit. http://www.nsrcc.com.sg/bungalow/booking-information

I don’t understand why NSRCC need to open our club to Non-citizen.

The club is set up to recognise the contributions of operationally ready NSmen to Total Defence. Its membership is open to NSmen who have performed national service, as well as full-time NSmen and their family. This is spelled out clearly at the website.

Dear MG Ng Chee Meng, President of NSRCC, you owe all Singaporean an explanation.

A gentle reminder, you are only appointed to over see the club. This club does not belong to you. I believe the money used to setup and running of this club is from the tax payer.

You are also an army trained man, same as any NS men, your life long mission is to protect the country and Singaporean.

Please keep a place for Singaporean.

If the PAP wants to win back disaffected voters, it had better realise that because it has been in power since 1959, dumb or lazy bureaucratic actions gets blamed on it. Maybe it’s co -driver should remind it of this too. Otherwise S’poreans may prefer SDP: The Real Deal, Mad Dog and elites notwithstanding

Gd Point on govt

In Political governance on 28/04/2013 at 9:18 am
But everything the government do is to serve its own purpose. We are lucky if one of its purposes happen to coincide with ours. It is not the same as saying the government exists to serve the people.

The chap who put this up on his Facebook wall is one Donaldson Tan, chief editor of New Asia Republic, a wannable TOC, that never took off. He is also a tech entrepreneur.

Wall St wants to party

In Uncategorized on 28/04/2013 at 6:45 am

The American economy grew at just a 2.5% annual pace in the first quarter, it was reported on Friday . While that is up from a 0.4% performance in the fourth quarter of 2012, it came in below expectations for growth at or just above 3%.

But the DJ was up marginally because of the  3.2% rise in consumer spending during the first quarter is the fastest rate since the fourth quarter of 2010.   Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity and  it grew at a pace of 1.8% in the fourth quarter of last year.

Home construction also rose further keeping the market focused on looking at the bright side and not on the industrial production and employment numbers that came out earlier in the month.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/fourth-yr-in-a-row/

Fourth yr in a row?

In Economy on 27/04/2013 at 7:31 am

In each of the past three years the global economic recovery (read that of the US) started with a burst of momentum, only to swoon over the spring and summer. Likewise stock markets.

There are now signs of a repeat,what with

— weak US jobs numbers for March;

— US manufacturing sector grew at its slowest pace in six months during April, a survey has suggested; and

— the American economy grew at just a 2.5% annual pace in the first quarter. While that is up from a 0.4% performance in the fourth quarter of 2012, it came in below expectations for growth at or just above 3%.

Asean round-up

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 27/04/2013 at 7:04 am

Thai banks are warily watching for signs of a credit bubble, even as they make record profits on robust loan growth on the back of a strong economy.

Bangkok Bank, Thailand’s largest lender by assets hasraised its loan-loss reserve coverage to 203.3% of non performing loans (NPLs) in the first quarter, more than double the central bank’s minimum requirement.

The Bank of Thailand has cautioned banks on rising household debt in South-east Asia’s second biggest economy, and expressed concern that cheap home loans could cause a steep rise in prices similar to that seen in Singapore and Hong Kong.Thai banks say there are not worried about a property bubble, but concede there is a possible excess supply of condominiums along Bangkok’s mass transit routes.

Fresh from leveraging up to buy a stake in insurer Ping An (he borrowed US$5.5bn), Dhanin Chearavanont is borrowing US$6 billion to finance a takeover of Siam Makro. Combining the Thai cash-and-carry group with his 7-Eleven convenience store chain makes sense. He co-founded Siam Makro with Dutch group SHV in the late 1980s, but was forced to sell out in 1998 when the Asian crisis left his empire overextended (soon to be repeated?). Sentimentality aside, the combined business should also be in a stronger position to expand into neighbouring Southeast Asian countries such as Laos and Myanmar.

The reunion is expensive. The offer price of 787 baht per share is 75% above where Siam Makro was trading at the beginning of January, and values the business at 53 times last year’s earnings. The advantage is that both Siam Makro and CP All, Mr Dhanin’s partially listed Thai retail company, currently have no debt.

“No business as usual if opposition wins Johor: Anwar”. So too said Lim Kit Siang. This means Iskandar will be affected.

“Leaders of Indonesia & Singapore discuss ways to boost close ties” Err what about the forest fires that come round this time every yr for decades? I’m bullish on Indonesia but taz despite its dysfunctional govt.

Does SAF really value those who do NS?

In Public Administration on 26/04/2013 at 5:34 am

There has been plenty of spin in the local media about how much SAF cares about us (example that “safety is a core value”). Well here are three instances in the last few weeks that contradict the spin.

“Combat medics are not fully equipped to handle asthma attacks among Singapore Armed Forces servicemen, a Coroner’s Inquiry into the death of Private (Pte) Dominique Sarron Lee heard”, I read on Tuesday in Today. The death happened during training.where the training team knew smoke grenades were going to be used. Surely the necessary eqpt could have been indented for the medic on duty?

And then there is this:

Defibrillators for all SAF camps soon

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is planning to put automated external defibrillators in all camps from June this year.

The potentially life-saving devices will be kept in common areas for easy access in emergencies, such as when a serviceman suffers a heart attack.

These include “high human traffic” areas in camps and military bases where physical training is conducted, said the Ministry of Defence.

http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20130401-412691.html

When I read the above, I was shocked to learn that external defibrillators were not standard equipment in SAF camps*. In developed countries, they are standard equipment in factories, and increasingly in offices. And they are standard equipment in the military.  After all as, “The SAF’s Chief of Medical Corps, Colonel (Dr) Kang Wee Lee, said having easy access to the defibrillators will improve a first responder’s ability to administer basic life support, and is in line with international best practices.”

And to round-off my rant about the uncaring, boh chap, tidak apa attitude bof the SAF, here’s something trivial by comparison to the above but telling in its own way of the way SAF treats us, PRspeak notwithstanding.

Last week, I got my package of vouchers from SAF. I only got $80 and not the $100 that was touted in the local media as the standard. Was I surprised? No, because I had read on TRE that Mindef had told someone “From our records, you have not completed any ICT before reaching statutory age.” It went further to state that “Should you have any documentary proof that you had attended ICT, …please send it to us …”.

I don’t know how many of us were affected by the inability of Mindef to keep proper records, but I find it insulting that Mindef did not keep proper records. Every time anyone goes for reservist training, he is paid a sum based on his civilian pay, or on his NS pay (for those who didn’t want to give or couldn’t give civvy pay details). Where are these records? And where are the copies of the  notices, ordering S’poreans to attend in-camp training?

Worse is the tot that Mindef could be trying to save money by not bothering to check its records properly. After all $20 multiplied by say 100,000 is not “peanuts”.

Never mind, come the next GE, I’m sure no matter how much goodies the govt throws at us at our expense, there will be S’poreans who remember the SAF’s institutionalised uncaring attitude, and attribute it to the PAP.

* To be fair to SAF:”Medics already carry the devices to all training activities with risk of drowning or heart trauma. These include physical fitness tests, route marches and river-crossing exercises.”

Dr M has a point about racial division.

In Malaysia on 25/04/2013 at 3:20 pm

Dr M has been getting a lot of stick on his comments that M’sia is becoming more racially divided. Well he has point going by the data contained ISEAS analysis on M’sian election Malaysia’s GE13- A Tale of Two Manifestos. Two-thirds of the Cina polled are against the BN. There are decent majorities of Malays and Indians in favour of BN.

Either the Chinese are racists, or as is more likely, not enough goodies for the Chinese, or they are plain greedy (most likely?).

Update on 26 April: Evidence of racism http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=474361509301974&set=a.198955503509244.49839.186134701457991&type=1&theater ?

Thanks to you know who ))))

HPH Trust: Time to buy?

In Infrastructure on 25/04/2013 at 6:27 am

Is it worth a buy? HPH Trust has fallen 4% since the strike in HK. Its handling capacity is back above 80%, having fallen to below 50% when the strike began. But the gap between oits wage offer (7%) and the strikers’ 20% demand, is big. And even its 7% offer adds 4% to total costs calculates CLSA.

And there is China’s slowdown and competition.

Nah let’s wait to see the terms of the settlement. Remember buy this for yield, not capital appreciation.

Faith Community Baptist Church alleges AG gagging order

In Public Administration on 24/04/2013 at 6:15 pm

AG has been getting a lot of stick from netizens about its warnings to various netizens. While AG clearly has the law on its side, and is using the light touch rather than a rattan cane, I think it is a PR disaster for the govt and the administration of justice. Even some netizens deploring the AG’s actions tell me that most of the offending comments were looney and fact free. I don’t know as I never read them.

With the above in mind, I hope the AG throws the book at the Faith Community Baptist Church, locks up those responsible, and then throw away the key if the following allegation is false.

In a story on 377A, the BBC reported “The Faith Community Baptist Church said it could not comment to the BBC, citing an order by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.”

Order? What order? I checked around and even AGC insiders are surprised that they issued such an order.

The closest one insider could think of  is this media release from AG in January: Sub Judice Reminder on Public Comments for and against the “repeal” of section 377A,Penal Code.

Unless, the church can show that it has received an order from the AG, it should be prosecuted for making AG sound like the secret police of Nazi Germany or the USSR or China: I leave the details of what law to use to the discretion of the AG in his wisdom.

A church purporting to believe in and teach Christian values should not misrepresent the truth or slime “Caesar” (the state) juz because it is convenient and politick to do so. Especially when it knows that its words will be reported round the world, not juz S’pore. And by a respected media organisation that carries int’l credibility: not SPH or MediaCorp.

And this church has form in misrepresenting facts. The same BBC story said: Senior pastor Lawrence Khong of the Faith Community Baptist Church is one vocal advocate against any change in the law.

In his statement when former prime minister Goh Chok Tong was at his church in January, he said that “the repeal of similar laws have led to negative social changes, especially the breakdown of the family as a basic building block and foundation of the society”.

“It takes away the rights of parents over what their children are taught in schools, especially sex education.

“It attacks religious freedom and eventually denies free speech to those who, because of their moral convictions, uphold a different view from that championed by increasingly aggressive homosexual activists,” he added.

Waz the proof of these allegations? Juz look at the USA, UK, Oz and NZ: all have decriminalised homosexuality and what he claims hasn’t happened.

If the AG takes the Faith Community Baptist Church to ask for saying that it cannot comment because of “an order by the Attorney-General’s Chambers”, I’ll be on the AG’s side.

Where are the app developers from RI & other elite schools?

In Political governance on 24/04/2013 at 5:27 am

In the last few days, education seems to be a hot topic if one goes by the reports in our local media: all part of the NatCon. I’m sure the Media Bahru will soon be putting its spin on the issues reported by Media Tua.

Well I’ll raise here an issue that doesn’t seem to fit in with a sub narrative that our elite schools are (or not) producing the kind of S’poreans we need.

In the UK, where private schools are the elite schools, students from the elite schools are producing world-class apps

… interviewed Nick 13 months ago … he came from a successful, wealthy family who had opted to give him a private education.

A day after Nick started counting his millions [Yahoo! bot his app which summaries news articles], an email dropped in my inbox about another teenaged developer.

Schoolboy Tom Humphrey has launched an app designed to help language learning by combining dictionary definitions with digital translation tools. He also happens to go to Eton College. [UK’s most elite school. Costs about S$60,000 a year in fees]

Meanwhile teenager Nina Dewani, who was interviewed by the BBC last month after designing a password-prompting app, attends a private school in St Albans.

It could be a coincidence, but these young people join a long line of tech entrepreneurs who attended private schools and found fame for their creations.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee went to an independent school, as did Bill Gates (although he later dropped out of Harvard to set up a software company), while child prodigy Mark Zuckerberg had a tutor who helped him start writing software.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22032013

Well, where are the world-class app developers from our elite schools? Let alone tech entrepreneurs.

Or is apps development reserved for this school: School of Science and Technology aims to nurture students to be innovative.

A student there “is pitching his business idea of an app which helps busy working parents remember their baby’s feeding schedule.”

Sports School students represent S’pore in ping-pomg, and SST students pitch uses of to-be-developed apps. Err who develops the apps? Poly students? Technical Institutes’ students?

My serious point is that if the students of our elite schools are not doing cutting-edge things that their counterparts in the West are doing, there must be something seriously wrong with the education system? A topic worthy of NatCon: “Where are the app developers from RI & other elite schools?”?

BTW, any comments about “exam factories” will be spammed. Taz a dumb comment to a complex and serious issue. In the UK and US, the elite private schools get more than their fair share of students into elite unis. In fact, critics complain they take away places from students from state schools.

Great Recession and Not-So-Great Recovery: “Cat in the tree” analogy

In Financial competency on 23/04/2013 at 5:19 am

The Nobel Prize winner George Akerlof of the University of California – had a vivid analogy for the state of uncertainty the economics profession now faces.

“It’s as if a cat has climbed this huge tree – the cat of course is this huge crisis. My view is ‘oh my God the cat’s going to fall and I don’t know what to do’.”

Another one of the organisers, David Romer also of the University of California, picked up the analogy: “The cat’s been up the tree for five years. It’s time to get the cat down from the tree and make sure it doesn’t go back up.”

The trouble for the economics profession is, according to the last of the conference hosts and another Nobel Prize winner, Joseph Stiglitz: “There is no good economic theory that explains why the cat is still up the tree”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22223249

Great panda pixs

In Humour on 22/04/2013 at 5:47 pm

Wonder if Gilbert Goh and Ravi would exempt Kai Kai & Jia Jia from deportation if they got into power? I mean someone even begrudged these FT PRC guest nice accommodation saying in a FB post  that they they should only get HDB-type accommodation. WTF! Hello they are pandas, not S’poreans.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/gallery/2013/apr/21/pandas-at-play-chengdu-china-in-pictures.

Related posts:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/fts-i-want-here/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/another-cute-pandas-pix/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/better-visit-the-pandas-quickly/

More Nebula

In Uncategorized on 22/04/2013 at 5:05 am

EagleEagle Nebula (Esa)

Pillars of CreationEagle Nebula (Esa)

Proven e-ideas that the Opposition can use

In Uncategorized on 22/04/2013 at 4:56 am

In S’pore the PAP, and its co-driver, the WP, relies on volunteers or bodies (remember Palmer’s Laura Ong and Stag Yaw’s XXX) walking the ground to bring in the votes. The other opposition parties need an equaliser (juz like the Colt revolver supposedly equalised the balance in fights in the Wild West). They could try the following ideas.

The DAP is doing this in Penang (from a Dow Jones report): Acknowledging that the DAP has been heavily outspent by BN on its home turf, DAP’s Assistant National Publicity Secretary Zairil Khir Johari said on Tuesday that his party is counting on social media to narrow its financial disadvantage and court a critical segment of active voters.

“The DAP is at the forefront of Facebook penetration,” Mr Zairil said. “We’re talking about 12 million Facebook accounts in Malaysia, and pretty much every young adult has one. Not all of them watch television. So we’re targeting Facebook and we’re doing it aggressively.”

The Internet has been a critical fund-raising and canvassing resource for the opposition as a means of circumventing tight government controls over traditional news media.

The DAP says it does not have the resources to fund conventional ad space. But on Facebook, it has rolled out 17 videos, a series of online flyers and other advertisements to reinforce traditional walkabouts and “ceramahs”, a Malay term meaning campaign road-shows.

So far, its Internet presence eclipses that of the ruling party. As of Wednesday, the DAP had 319,251 Facebook “likes” versus the BN’s 52,968. On Twitter, the DAP counts 25,141 followers, while the BN had 14,745.

But the DAP is worried that this may not be enough. The party enjoyed a stealth advantage in 2008 because the BN did not expect to lose and was caught unprepared, Mr Zairil said. This time, it is visibly muscling up.

Well the SDP and NSP might as well try the above tactics given their lack of physical presence on the ground. But the NSP has to built up its on-line presence from near zero. And the co-driver might  want to try these tactics too as a force multiplier. But then it might prefer to be a co-driver, and hoping to share the goodies in a coalition (refer to Pritam’s comments).

Here’s something that one of the wannabe leaders without spear and shield carriers (like Tan Kin Lian, Tan Jee Say, s/o JBJ, Ben Pwee) might want to think about: A citizens’ movement mounting an increasingly serious challenge to the Italian political establishment has chosen its candidates for parliament in an unprecedented online vote.

Supporters of the Five Star Movement* made their selection from among 1,400 activists.

Each prospective candidate posted a campaign video in which they introduced themselves.

They set out what they stood for and what they would do if elected on behalf of the movement in polls that are scheduled for the spring.

It is believed to be the first time that a political organisation anywhere has conducted this kind of selection process entirely on the web.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20643620

At the very least, this would get some publicity.

Here’s something up TKL’s street (remember before he became the People’s Voice, he was called by ST the “petition king”::

Sites which allow citizens to draft e-petitions for their pet causes are mushrooming. Politicians in Germany created one of the earliest, in 2005, and dozens of countries have followed, most of them within the past three years. America’s “We the People” is perhaps the most successful. Since its launch in 2011 citizens have created nearly 180,000 petitions; since November the total number of signatures has tripled to almost 12m.

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21574454-internet-helps-politicians-listen-better-their-electors-if-they-want-processing

Finally here’s an idea the internet savvy SDP might want to play with e.g. testing its public housing and healthcare proposals.

About 1,500 cities, including Chicago and, last year, New York, have also enlisted the public in setting budgeting priorities. In 2012 around a million citizens took part in the annual budgeting process in Rio Grande do Sul, the Brazilian state which also hosted the first such event, in the town of Porto Alegre, in 1989.

In 2011 the state governor collected 1,300 ideas for improving local health care, and then let citizens vote for their 50 favourites; 120,000 people took part. The voting software presented ideas in pairs; users could pick the one they preferred.

Actually, the govt might want to use this idea for NatCon topics to gauge public sentiment.

(The last two examples came from http://www.economist.com/news/international/21574454-internet-helps-politicians-listen-better-their-electors-if-they-want-processing)

But For all the talk about new digital technology, the real secret was finding new ways to do something old-fashioned: to talk to voters. The trick was to use new techniques for helping volunteers to find people like them. Taz how Team Obama did it in the US.

At a meeting of Battleground Texas, a new grassroots organising effort started by the former national field director for the 2012 Obama campaign, Jeremy Bird, and run by the Ohio 2012 campaign boss, Jenn Brown. Addressing a packed union hall in Austin, Ms Brown told the crowd that the project ahead of them might take until 2020, and would involve registering, persuading and turning out millions of voters. But here is how we did it in Ohio, she explained. For all the talk about new digital technology, the real secret was finding new ways to do something old-fashioned: to talk to voters. The trick was to use new techniques for helping volunteers to find people like them.

The old way of organising involved hiring 250 field organisers. On a given day before an election they might knock on 50 doors each, meaning that they knocked on 12,500 doors. The new method refined and rolled out by Team Obama in 2012 involves one paid field organiser organising perhaps five neighbourhood team leaders. Each of those volunteer team leaders might then recruit eight volunteers, recruited from a particular neighbourhood. They might all be parents from a single school catchment area, or people with similar work backgrounds or interests.

Miss Brown then clicked on her next slide. With 250 such organisers, overseeing five neighbhourhood team leaders, marshalling eight volunteers each, you can knock on 500,000 doors. It is, she noted cheerfully, “unbelievably exponential”. Nor is this a theoretical finding. On each of the last four weekends before the 2012 election, Miss Brown’s Ohio campaigners “talked physically” to 100,000 voters. That is the same as President Barack Obama’s Ohio margin of victory.

Numbers alone do not win elections. None of this is to dismiss the importance of policies and candidates. But these are numbers that grab the attention.

(Extract from an otherwise irrelevant Economist blog)

*In Italy, the Five Star Movement holds the balance of power. As the BBC describes it “Led by its guiding star, the comedian-turned politician Beppe Grillo, it was born and bred on the internet.

But it emerged from the web and took its argument into town squares all over Italy.”

Horsehead Nebula

In Uncategorized on 21/04/2013 at 6:42 am

Horsehead NebulaHubble's new view of the Horsehead Nebula

Splitting the CEO and Chairman roles: It’s complicated …

In Corporate governance, Financial competency on 21/04/2013 at 6:20 am

if the firm is having performance problems; it’s not so helpful if everything is running smoothly. Our study showed that CEO-chairman separation tends to reverse a company’s performance: Low-performing firms benefit from a separation event, while high-performing firms suffer.

It also matters how the firm chooses to separate its top jobs. For the company to see this reversal of fortune, it has to go through what we call a “demotion” separation, whereby the CEO remains the same, but a new, independent chairman is appointed to oversee him or her.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-01/splitting-the-ceo-and-chairman-roles-it-s-complicated

Asean round-up

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 20/04/2013 at 1:57 pm

M’sia too will suffer because of drop in PC sales juz like S’pore https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/when-economy-slows-not-nec-its-cause-ft-supply-ltd/ because Penang too is part of the Mircosoft ecosystem. And it too is not part of the Apple or Google ecosystems.

Property: Tharman is wrong that measures are working?

In Property on 19/04/2013 at 6:45 am

Colin Tan has a regular column on Friday in Today. Unlike the other property “experts” that appear in the local media, his take is always slightly different from the govt spin. Take this week’s http://www.todayonline.com/business/property/cooling-measures-or-market-booster

Based on the new private home sales data for March, the seventh round of the Government’s property market cooling measures must definitely qualify as an own goal, as a colleague put it. Instead of cooling the market, the latest curbs unveiled in January actually boosted it as buyers turned up in droves.

Tharman was quoted by today’s ST as saying: “Property prices remain high but they are moving in the right direction”, and that govt had no plans for additional measures.

I’m sure prices will soar now that buyers know no more curbs coming.

 

SMEs & MNCs too believe govt is pro-FT?

In Political governance on 19/04/2013 at 5:40 am

Well nice to see that MoM Tan Chuan-jin has implictly confirmed that

— netizens ain’t the only people who believe that govt is pro-FT: so do SME owners and MNC mgrs; and

— they too like netizens need convincing that govt “tightening” of FT policy is not wayang.

Otherwise why would he say: “I think I need to be quite definitive here, so that the signal is clear because I would say for some time, I would say the industry was thinking that government will make a U-turn so therefore the changes perhaps did not quite happen. I think people were hoping that if the pressure was high enough, we will make adjustments and so on. And we notice that as a result of that, the propensity to do the way we do things was not so significant.”?

If the SMEs and MNC believe that the govt is not pro-FT, there would not be the need to say:”I think I need to be quite definitive here, so that the signal is clear … the propensity to do the way we do things was not so significant”? He has to say this only because he wants them to change their thinking that the govt prefers FTs to locals? From which flows their belief that the govt only needs “pressurising to get it to change its mind: and hence their pressure to change?

They should know that like Lady Thatcher, the PAP govt is “not for turning” when it has believes it knows the Hard Truth. So they believe, like us netizens, that restricting FT policy is not a Hard Truth, just wayang?

So I hope that Kishore*, our local MSM media and other PAP apologists move on from the mantra that the new media criticism and cynicism  of the PAP and the govt is juz “noise”: new media criticism of the govt does reflect perceptions (if not always facts) on the ground: even the views of the business community.

*Here’s a great rebuttal to Kishore’s attack on our cynicism. I was planning to bitch about his comments, but I was saved the trouble by this http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/14/kishore-our-cynicism-flows-from-institutional-failings/

The “wrong” or “mistake” that the STTA is trying to put right

In Uncategorized on 18/04/2013 at 5:20 am

When TRE republished this, there were the usual rants, comments against the PAP, govt and Lee Bee Wah.But this is a view worth thinking about

Scrap DSA:

Time to scrap DSA* to elitist top schools like RI.
Many parents use this loop-hole to get an elitist education, the elitist schools get to boast about their sporting achievement.
Once they hit uni, no more sports for them.
What have we achieve in decades of DSA—empty handed.
Still importing sports-persons from PRC.
Solution–huge expansion of sports school. Only those who wants to pursue sports-related career need apply.

[Note under this scheme, good athletes can use their prowess to get into elite schools despite lower academic grades: not a popular scheme for pushy parents of book-worms and the sports school.]

Still, trying to fix a malfunctioning system, doesn’t justify trying to load the dice in favour of weaker players: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Remember the 77 sway lang:

… I don’t know what connection that boy Edric Lim who was recently being nominated for the Asian Youth Games has with Ah Huay’s people but being beaten recently by a RI boy in the Inter-school competition, it’s obvious he’s not the best paddler.

And our money is wasted on full-time trainees who lose to part-timers, as these TRE readers point-out.

Sports School or Play School ?:

Don’t main main bring your Malaysian Bumiputra policy into Singapore Table Tennis ! Meritocracy means only the best players should be selected for competitions, with no special treatment for Sports School players. What’s so great about Sports School players ? They train day and night like full professionals, yet can’t beat RI whose players play table tennis just for ECA. Who has got more talent ?

Dick her mouth:

… If those players in the Sports School (who spend most of their time training, almost like professional layers) can’t even beat players in mainstream schools, what talent have they got ? Did they pay their way into the Sports school, under our pay and pay system ?

It’s a complex issue.

STTA and Lee Bee Wah (in particular) should try to change the system whereby good athletes can get points in lieu of less than sterling results to get into elite schools, at least for ping-pong. But then I suppose that that’s too tough for a mere MP.

Better to bully, push around pushy parents of good ping-pong players who aspire for academic excellence.

Maybe the solution is to encourage ping-pong players who can get into elite schools an incentive to opt for the Sports School? Provide special education facilities to help them excel in their studies?

People who deserve tax-payers’ help & those who don’t

In Uncategorized on 17/04/2013 at 6:09 am

Uncle Leong wrote this http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/01/how-do-needy-medical-students-cope-with-100k-tuition-fee/: not all the poor medical students get help. Good point to counter govt spin on it helping less well-off S’poreans get a uni education.

But it’s a lousy example to use because once the doctors qualify dollars rain on them.

Remember, the losing PAP candidate at Punggol East? According to the constructive, nation-building media, he was a poor  Punggol boy made good via his medical studies. He makes so much $ that he forgot that a two-car family even among professionals is not that common. He tot it was the norm! Bet you he thinks a Mercedes SL and a Porsche SUV and a District 10 bungalow are standard for a professional couple.

And look at the staff car parks at S’pore General Hospital: full of BMWs, Lexus and Mercedes. Can’t be admin staff or nurses? While there are many issues for doctors to consider whether to remain in govt service, they can earn five figure salaries after a few yrs of service.

Poor medical students will have monetary problems (like all poor people), but once they become doctors, the world is their oyster.

What what about this chap? http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/09/angry-man-sells-house-to-finance-daughters-medical-studies-overseas/: His daughter is going to make serious money, either here or abroad, when she qualifies: so why the sense of entitlement? This despite her lack of four As, but he demands that she shld get into  NUS medical school because it would mean he doesn’t have to sell his flat to finance her studies. I know of kids who have four As who can’t get in. Yet their parents don’t bitch. They get on with financing their kids.

But his sense of entitlement is nothing compared to this guy who bot his son a car for son’s use during NS http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/09/open-letter-to-lawrence-wong-i-cant-sell-my-sons-car/: He has plenty of money, so sit down and shut up.

The ones who need our sympathy and help are those caught in the cycle of despair like http://keizng.com/confessions-of-a-food-court-cleaner/. And the three examples here http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/09/sdp-only-interested-to-make-life-better-for-singaporeans/ cited by SDP (no not ex-millionaire Fandi, or once well-off Terry*).

The cleaner and the three examples cited by the SDP are people who are unable to help themselves: they are like people who need wheel-chairs but don’t have them because they can’t afford them.

They need and deserve tax-payers’ funding to lead dignified but frugal lives because they are unable to help themselves.

Now back to those who don’t deserve tax-payers’ money. Fandi, Terry, the guy who can’t sell his car, the chap who invests in his daughter, and poor medical students are Singaporeans who are in a position to help themselves lead the good life: even a luxurious life.

The two wo guys financing their kids’ overseas studies seem to be bitching that they are entitled to gold and ivory, electrical-powered  wheel-chairs at the expense of other S’poreans. This seems to sum them up:

Chong Pei Lin:

People who are anti-PAP carry personal grievances. If their kids cannot get into a good school, it is the govt’s fault. They will never admit that their kids are not good enough for that school. If the MRT is crowded, it is the govt fault. They will never admit that trains in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai are crowded too during peak hours when everyone is going to work or knocking off from work all at the same time.

*They by all accounts still live well, certainly better than the three cases and the cleaner. And going by what they said, Terry and Fandi bitched to the constructive, nation-building media about the SDP story, ’cause the SDP didn’t give them any goodies for using their name in vain? They forget that the local media does that too, to sell newspapers. Yet they don’t mind. But when the SDP tries to explain its policies (and misguidedly used their names in a good cause), they are upset. and Fandi is consulting his lawyers with a view to suing the SDP.

China in charts: FT

In China on 16/04/2013 at 6:30 am

Rowe Price: Father of “growth” investing

In Financial competency on 16/04/2013 at 5:34 am

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financial-theory/09/thomas-rowe-price.asp?utm_source=coattail-buffett&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=WBW-04/11/2013

“BN will win big”

In Malaysia on 15/04/2013 at 6:26 am

David Goh a geomancer got the election day right saying May 5 is the only date in the 60-day window designated as a “war day. He also predicted that the National Front will win the elections, regain federal seats in the states of Selangor and Kedah and secure more state seats in the opposition stronghold of Penang compared to 2008. Bernama.

I hope that all those who say Anwar will be the next PM realise that the Muslim Brudderhood M’sia (aka PAS) has said that the position is undecided and that it should go to the strongest party after the GE, if PK wins. If that party is the Brudderhood (as is likely), and DAP and Anwar’s gang gang up against PAS, BN may still form the governing party.

“Thanks Jos for giving Bishan East residents another reason not to support the PAP”

In Humour on 15/04/2013 at 5:05 am

So we have been told by the vice chairman of the Bishan East Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC), Roland Ang, who wrote to Stomp to explain that it was the coffeeshop owner who reserved the tables for Jos Teo and retnue, and “not any grassroots leaders”.

So the guys wearing red polo shirts shooing away patrons were PRC FT coffee shop employees? Or were they grassroots leaders moonlighting as coffee shop assistants? Or did the owner authorise them to chase patrons away, now that he is short of FT PRC labour because of govt policy? TRE alleges that he is a PAP member, so the grassroots leaders were helping a kaki lang.

Seriously, if the tables were reserved, how come customers were sitting there? And how come grassroots leaders were clearing the tables of patrons? Where were the coffeeshop assistants? Remember Roland Ang has not denied that grassroots leaders cleared customers from the tables.

Roland Ang should have gotten get the coffee shop owner to explain what happened. The silence of the coffee shop owner is deafening, especially as if alleged he is a PAP member.

Remember Watergate? The attempt to cover-up the truth was what did Nixon in, not the break-in.

Never mind, all the more reason for residents to vote against the PAP come the next GE say the anti-PAP activists. “Thanks Jos, Roland and other PAP activists for making it easier for residents not to support the PAP. Keep on being tua kee. Great way to connect with residents.”

Background info: http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/13/grassroots-leader-seats-reserved-by-coffeeshop-owner-not-us/

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/jos-too-is-talking-cock/

Botanical Gardens: What Heritage status means

In Humour on 14/04/2013 at 5:07 am

A few weeks ago, it was reported that S’pore made an initial application for “World Heritage” status for the Botanical Gardens. And a few days ago, ST carried an editorial on the issue, praising the govt, last week, for making the application.

I couldn’t help but recall an exchange, a few years ago, at a seminar on investing in Penang. A lady presented on how the inner city of George Town acquired the status. A S’porean senior official said the problem with status is that once given, the govt cannot change anything. hence S’pore never applied for anything. He asked why would Penang take that risk with part of its capital?

Lady’s reply was along the lines of, “If you made a decision to preserve something that you think is unique, why would you want the flexibility to then tear it down? The inner city is one of a kind that we in Penang want to preserve.” The S’porean official was stunned by the rebuke.

Coming back to the Botanical Gardens, I hope the govt realises that if the Gardens get the “World Heritage” status, the govt would never ever be able to aircon the place. Now while I love the place, it can be rather hot or humid, or both, often. Nothing like air conditioning the place. I’m sure Donaldson, New Reublic’s chief editor, would agree. The weather has him has praising the aircon on his Facebook wall.

 

Asean round-up

In Malaysia on 13/04/2013 at 6:17 am

Bangkok SkyTrain Fund Raises $2.1 Billion in I.P.O. The offering, by an infrastructure fund controlled by the rail operator BTS Group, priced at the top of its marketed range, and ranks as the biggest ever new listing by a Thai company.

DEALBOOK

Burma has shortlisted 12 international consortia, including one led by Singapore Telecommunications, for the final stage in its telecommunications licence tender, the Wires report.

Other shortlisted applicants are a consortium comprising China Mobile and Vodafone Group, India’s Bharti Airtel, MTN Dubai, Jamaica’s Digicel Group, Japan’s KDDI Corp and Sumitomo Corp, Malaysia’s Axiata Group, Norway’s Telenor, Millicom International Cellular, Qatar Telecom and Vietnam’s Viettel Group.

Seems Temasek’s telco didn’t make it.

The shortlisted applicants can now formally bid for the two licences, each with initial terms of 15 years. Bids must be submitted by June 3, and the winners will be announced by June 27.

SMEs like Iskandar http://www.todayonline.com/business/ocbc-expects-sme-loans-iskandar-triple

What happens in PK wins GE but Johor remains UMNO heartland.

Why Methodism shld be our state religion

In Humour on 12/04/2013 at 5:36 am

It was never hard to see the influence of Methodism, born as a reaction to the complacency and privilege of 18th-century Anglicanism, on Mrs Thatcher. She believed in thrift and hard work, and liked the advice of John Wesley, Methodism’s founder, to earn, save and only then give as much as possible. The acts of generosity listed in the New Testament, from the Good Samaritan’s to that of the woman who anointed Christ’s feet, were possible only because the donors had money, she noted.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2013/04/religion-and-politics

Forget Tharman as next PM: Ng Eng Hen is a Methodist.

PM questioned on studio apt pricing

In Public Administration on 12/04/2013 at 5:12 am

Here’s a topic Uncle Leong, SDP  and other kay pohs activists missed. This juz shows that there are cso many things wrong here. Or juz that they don’t live in HDB flata?

A few weeks ago, I met someone whose wants to move into a HDB studio apartment. On the HDB website there were two flats available under a previous scheme that started in the early noughties. The tenants had “moved on” and the flats returned to the HDB*. The flats were being offered for around $120,000.

He wrote to the PM asking the rationale for the drastic price increase. He wanted to know why since the flat had been returned, why the same flat was being reoffered offered at almost double the original price about 10 yrs ago**. All the HDB had to do was to restore the flat to its original condition before leasing it out. Even assuming the flat had been thrashed by the previous tenant and taking into account the rise in labour and building materials, how come the doubling in price?

He said the PMO had called him asking for his email address, so he assumed that the PM or HDB would be in touch.

Sadly I forgot to give him my email address or telephone number so that he could keep me posted. I also forgot to ask for his contact details or his full name.

——

*The arrangement is that these flats are made available on a 30-yr lease, payable upfront. If the tenant moves on, the flat has to be returned to the HDB, which will pro-rate the amount paid based on the occupancy period, and refund the outstanding amount.

**When the scheme started in the early noughties, he said, the flats were price at around $60,000 each.

When economy slows, not nec it’s ’cause FT supply ltd

In Economy on 11/04/2013 at 9:15 am

It could be because the electronics sector here is suffering from lack of demand

Global sales of PCs fell 14% in the first three months this year, the biggest fall since research firm IDC started tracking the industry in 1994 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22103079

Even our constructive, nation-building media recently admitted that S’pore has a problem in electronics production. It doesn’t do much components smartphones or tablets. Still very PC-based. Windows 8 is designed to work well with touch-sensitive screens, but the displays add to the cost of a PC. Together, the changes and higher prices “have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices,” Mr O’Donnell said.

Update on 12th April 2013: The PC market may get a fillip from Microsoft. A year from now the company will cease all support for its ancient Windows XP operating system and Office 2003 software package, which remain installed on tens of millions of computers worldwide. Microsoft hopes to bully users—especially corporate IT departments rather fond of the robust XP—to switch to its new Windows 8, sales of which have not been as perky as hoped. But the move might prompt even more users to flock to tablets instead. S’pore will be hoping for the former effect. I’m one of those still on XP.

Local banks

In Banks on 11/04/2013 at 6:18 am

Finally DBS has a FT CEO where the “T” stands for “Talent” not “Trash”. He had a bad start when its consumer banking IT systems failed at the beginning of tenure, for which he can’t be blamed. An earlier FT CEO where the “T” stood for “Trash” outsourced its  IT systems, only for the process to be reversed by another FT(rash).

(Gupta, who oversaw a 29% jump in DBS shares last year, was awarded a S$3.5 million cash bonus and company stock valued at S$4.6 million as part of total compensation, according to the annual report. His base salary totalled S$1.2 million.)

In the early noughties, OCBC was the bank that never failed to screw-up. It had an FT (Still has one as CEO). Fortunately his replacement was a Talent (can’t call him Foreign, as he has been in and out of S’pore for decades). DBS became the “go to” bank for mess-ups. Now Gupta has got DBS into a “stable” state: gd for him and Temasek must be grateful.

And UOB’s true blue hereditary banker got a 30% pay rise last yr. Well those of us who hold UOB shares (indirectly in my case via Haw Par) can’t complain. UOB has avoided the “Trash” risk by keeping things local. And avoided problems.

Coming back to OCBC, pls send yr COO to PR class. OCBC’s  COO said its differentiation strategy has been to re-orientate the consumer finance business from being product-centric to one centred on the customer. BT’s headline rightly screamed “OCBC shifts strategy to focus on the customer”, but this sadly sells OCBC short: it never was into product pushing like DBS where FD customers were targeted for HN5 Notes and were then left to swing in the wind, when Hongkies were compensated for similar notes.

As my mum still has her OCBC fixed deposits, I’m grateful. If she had been a DBS customer, she’d have been targeted by Team HN5, and lost her money.

TRE says it all about Ong Ye Kung, NTUC & SMRT

In Humour on 10/04/2013 at 6:54 am
TRE posted these articles in the following order on its front page.
NTUC claims credit for unionising SMRT PRC bus drivers

NTUC claims credit for unionising SMRT PRC bus drivers

In a recent hour-long phone interview with 2 journalists from Yahoo! Singapore, former SMRT bus driver…
185 SMRT PRC bus drivers had petitioned MOM in 2010

185 SMRT PRC bus drivers had petitioned MOM in 2010

 

Ong Ye Kung as a director of SMRT should have known about the plight of the bus drivers. But as union leader of the bus driver, he did nothing. And NTUC is now claiming credit for unionisg PRC drivers? Why now only after a strike? But let’s be fair, maybe NTUC leaders are like the many readers of TRE who “hate” all things PRC. See all the negative stories TRE carries from the Western media about China which pander to these readers.

 

What is the STTA afraid of? Losing face if its proteges lose?

In Uncategorized on 10/04/2013 at 5:39 am

The Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) has changed its selection process* for the 2013 Asian Youth Games (AYG) and 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) following pushy parents’ and the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC)’s objections. The latter had queried the STTA on its nomination process, pointing out, according to ST, that there were other players who were ranked higher than the nominees in the International Table Tennis Federation’s under-18 rankings.

But, as I see it, STTA is still fixing the selection process to get what it wants: preference for its Sports School proteges. Five out of the nine places on the training squad for thesegames are reserved for students from this school. Twenty main stream students have to fight for the remaining four places.

Yet STTA President Lee Bee Wah had the brazen balls to say: “I want to show that the STTA is prepared to be open and transparent about the selection process, and will do so based on merit and have the best represent Singapore.”

“On merit”? Sounds like the M’sian way to me. Give favoured people special privileges. This is not meritocracy.

She went on: “At the same time, we want to emphasise the long-term investment in the Sports School and SWS as the preferred developmental pathway for locals who want to commit themselves and excel in the sport.” So its all about protecting STTA’s patronage interests, is it? Typical M’sian, PRC attitude.

She does on. “While it is true that this doesn’t guarantee success, those who choose the sports school have a better chance of success with an environment that is conducive for training and overseas tournaments.

‘We recognise that there are talented athletes in mainstream schools, and we also will help them pursue their aspirations. But there are practical constraints in that the curriculum of a mainstream school may not accommodate a rigorous training schedule for top-flight competition.”  Today

If STTA thinks that its rigorous training schedule is so impt to success, prove it: let those in the Sports School who can follow it compete with those who can’t. If STTA is right, gd for it. If not, back to the drawing board, albeit with loss of face. Let the results speak for themselves.

Seems STTA is afraid its “favoured’ players will lose, despite all the intensive training.

One can only hope the SNOC refuses to accept this farce of a selection process.

For those who oppose the PAP, the good thing, is that it shows the lie to the PAP claim that it believes in meritocracy., and that S’pore is a meritocracy. Here is a PAP FT MP who gives two fingers to “have the best represent Singapore.”

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/ft-pap-mp-does-not-believe-in-meritocracy/

——

*[T]he STTA said it has revised its selection process for both events. For the YOG, nine places in the squad will be open to six boys and three girls aged 13 to 17, but they must commit to a 30-hour weekly training regimen that includes sparring sessions with the national team twice a week, or a 20-and-a-half-hour programme.

Those who choose the shorter programme must commit for three years but will not be able to train with the national players due to scheduling conflicts.

While five spots will be reserved for SWS students, 20 national youth team paddlers will be invited for trials to fill the remaining four places (two boys, two girls). Today

These nine will then compete in a round-robin contest to determine the best boy and girl to represent Singapore at the AYG.

MSM, less triumphalism when puffing up GIC, Temasek

In Financial competency, GIC, Media, Temasek on 09/04/2013 at 6:16 am

Pls remember what someone who manages more $ than GIC, Temasek says abt performance

Clearly the ability of the investor to adapt to the market’s “four seasons” should be proof enough that there was something more than luck involved? And if those four seasons span a number of bull/ bear cycles or even several decades, then a confirmation or coronation should take place shortly thereafter! First a market maven, then a wizard, and finally a King. Oh, to be a King.

 But let me admit something. There is not a Bond King or a Stock King or an Investor Sovereign alive that can claim title to a throne. All of us, even the old guys like Buffett, Soros, Fuss, yeah – me too, have cut our teeth during perhaps a most advantageous period of time, the most attractive epoch, that an investor could experience. Since the early 1970s when the dollar was released from gold and credit began its incredible, liquefying, total return journey to the present day, an investor that took marginal risk, levered it wisely and was conveniently sheltered from periodic bouts of deleveraging or asset withdrawals could, and in some cases, was rewarded with the crown of “greatness.” Perhaps, however, it was the epoch that made the man as opposed to the man that made the epoch.
PIMCO’s Bill Gross

PMs Lee & Najib didn’t read Tocqueville?

In Malaysia, Political governance on 08/04/2013 at 7:18 am

Well Najib certainly didn’t because he said recently, “We have in the last four years proven that whenever we make pledges, we have fulfilled our pledge”, and “unveiled a manifesto on Saturday pledging bigger cash handouts, millions of new jobs and lower taxes and crime, as he seeks his first mandate in looming national polls.”

If he had, he would not have said these things because of the dangers of rising expectations: people simply expect more.

Alexis De Tocqueville is famous particularly in the US for Democracy in America. But he also published The Old Regime and the Revolution in1856. In it he talked of the dangers of rising expectations.He argued that revolutions often took place not in times of despair but under improving conditions:

experience teaches us that, generally speaking, the most perilous moment for a bad government is one when it seeks to mend its ways….Patiently endured for so long as it seemed beyond redress, a grievance comes to appear intolerable once the possibility of removing it crosses men’s minds.*

As for our PM, I doubt if he read Tocqueville**. Because if he had, he wouldn’t have said on Saturday, the Singapore society is in a different phase now, no longer a teenager but more of a young adult — with a different growth rate, anxieties and issues. “What changes do we need to make? Not just policy changes, but changes in our philosophy, in our approach, in the way we define the compact, the balance between the individual and the society, between what the person does, and what is the State’s responsibility.

“I think we need to consider this carefully and think about how we will move (forward), so that we can meet the challenges of this new phase.”

He is setting us up for expectations that he and the PAP can never ever fulfill. One reason he can never ever fulfill our expectations is the attitude that he and the other PAP leaders know best (witness the Population White Paper). They know that only they can plan ahead (Mah Bow Tan planning the supply of HDB flats, and Raymond Lim planning tpt infrastructure to cope with immigrants by the cattle-truck load) , that they are infallible in policymaking (“Stop at two” and limiting the supply of home-grown doctors), and only they are able to ignore pressure groups and populism.

Another reason is that there are critics like Dr Chee, E-Jay, Gilbert Goh and Ravi who will never ever be satisfied. And nowadays they have the social media and internet to publicise their unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

————–

*When I first came across this many yrs ago, it struck a chord. I did “History” for O and A levels, and it had struck me that the colonial powers could never ever satisfy the aspirations of the local elites in Indonesia and Malaya. Whenever, they conceded anything, the response was always, “More”. The best way of maintaining power it seemed was to “shoot the trouble-makers”, something the British, Dutch and other colonial powers did in the 19th century. In the 20th, they became more squeamish (lost their empires), and left the shooting to the USSR (Hungary 1956) and China (1989 and in Tibet).

**This is sad as I’m sure LKY had read Tocqueville because he was always trying to ensure that S’poreans didn’t have rising expectations of anything. He always wanted us to be aware of the fragility of life. He admitted, a few yrs ago, that the reason why the size of the reserves and the returns on the reserves had to kept a secret from S’poreans was his fear that we would expect more to be spent on ourselves, if we knew how wealthy S’pore was. At the peak of his mental powers, he would never have said this because by saying it he was saying that there was plenty of money that could be spent.

Thinking about it, he and the PAP must love s/o JBJ, Chris Balding, and the many readers of TRE would are forever bitching that the reserves have been squandered: they are doing LEE’s work in trying to keep expectations low. And hate Tan Jee Say for saying that S$60bn of the reserves is “small change”. No wonder, he hasn’t been rewarded for helping ensure that Tony Tan became president.

SDP lost the plot on Fandi Ahmad article

In Uncategorized on 07/04/2013 at 5:29 am

How come other ex-millionaires who face or go thru hard times because they screwed up or were plain unlucky (or both) don’t get the sympathy that this ex-millionaire gets from SDP?

SDP was trying to be too clever by half: Nowhere in the article, which can be read here, did we say – or give the impression – that Mr Fandi and Mr Pathmanathan had endorsed our policies. True up to a point. But this post on TRE gets it about right in its criticism of the SDP: I like SDP, really. but in this case I am very disappointed with their post relating to fandi.

It is lame excuse to say that they are not using fandi to pursue their political objective. Personally I like their alternative plan, but it is WRONG to make use of fandi’s name to propagate their views.

In life things go wrong all the time and people, including celebrities are not immune.

So if SDP’s line of excuse is allowed, than any advertiser of any product can simply quote, if xxxx had bought my product, this misfortune yyy would not happen…blah blah blah. Advertisers will just wait and see for yyy to happen and then jump in.

How can one be so dishonest as to borrow the fame of another person and take advantage of his misfortune in order to propagate a message?

The constructive, nation-building New Paper had got some things right in its criticism on SDP’s article.

Asean round-up

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 06/04/2013 at 7:32 am

Indon IPOs: Private-equity firm PT Saratoga Investama Sedaya, and Indonesia’s biggest taxi operator Blue Bird Group, have picked underwriters to prepare their initial public offerings (IPOs) as they seek to raise money ahead of a 2014 general election.

Burmese telco update: Telecoms will be among the first industries to be liberalised under Burma’s reformist government, which hopes to place mobiles into the hands of between 75% and 80% of its 60 million citizens by 2016, up from an estimated 6% today.

If take-up is high, the entire mobile market in Burma – renamed Myanmar by the ruling military junta – could be worth $10bn (£6bn) a year, with networks generating $7.3bn of those revenues, research by Ericsson found.

Foreign companies are eager to partake in what has been described as a mouthwatering opportunity, and by Thursday’s deadline 22 bids had been submitted.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/apr/04/vodafone-china-mobile-burma-telecoms

SingTel and Temasek are also trying their luck. but LKY’s remarks about “stupid” generals (a few yrs ago) can’t be helpful.

Iskandar: Some issues are beginning to surface as highlighted in a recent Business Times article which said that investors are not getting assurances in black and white on issues like land zoning, mortgage loan quantums and Bumiputra employment quotas, among others.

Foreigners investing in Iskandar might do better if they can understand that most policies in Malaysia are instituted by politicians of the day. When the politician leaves, a new policy replacing the old one is to be expected. When doing business in Johor, one has to factor in such risks.

Remember that Putrajaya, the state administrative capital of Malaysia, is still struggling after more than 20 years in the making. When Iskandar was mooted in 2006, authorities were confident about getting funds from Middle Eastern investors. Obviously, that plan didn’t work out and the focus is now back to Singaporean investors.

http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/01/perils-of-investing-in-iskandar-malaysia/

Thailand is the “Detroit of the East”. And it is Japanese carmakers in particular that use the country as a manufacturing hub. In 2012 production reached 2.45m vehicles of which 1m were exported. This made Thailand the 7th largest car exporter globally.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2013/04/thailands-booming-car-industry

Eat yr hear out Dr M. Remember, he started Project Proton because he wanted to kick-start M’sia into becoming a leading vehicle manufacturer.

Pinoys ahoy: Over 10m Filipinos, equivalent to about a quarter of the country’s labour force, live or work abroad, permanently or temporarily, legally or illegally, in over 200 countries. Their remittances are equivalent to 8.5% of GDP, helping the country to plug its trade deficit and amass over $80 billion of currency reserves. As a result, the Philippines has become a net creditor to the rest of the world … , not just a net supplier of labour.

These impregnable external finances are one reason why Fitch, a ratings agency, awarded the Philippines its first ever investment-grade credit rating on March 28th.

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21575812-archipelago-has-never-been-more-creditworthy-ratings-heaven

What PM should learn from M’sian voters

In Malaysia, Political governance on 05/04/2013 at 6:37 am

It’s not juz a growing economy and the goodies that win elections:

… robust economic growth of 5.6% in 2012, poverty virtually eliminated, inequality reduced and 400 legal cases against corruption initiated. And he was able to announce that a scheme to give cash handouts to poorer households will become an annual event.

All should be set fair, you might think, for Mr Najib’s ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional (BN), to romp home again at the election, as it has done in every ballot since independence in 1957.

… the outcome is in doubt, for the first time in Malaysia’s history. (Last but one issue of Economist).

When people get tired of the governing party or parties, no amount of GDP growth, goodies or appeal to self-interest will change their minds. They can be that daft. I mean if PAS becomes the strongest party in the PK, I’m sure Chinese and Indian women would be forced to wear tudungs. Remember too Anwar made his name in politics as a Muslim activist, not as a secular activist. Yet Indian and Chinese wimmin support PK because they support the DAP and Anwar’s party.

Seriously, there has always been been a large minority of M’sians who don’t like UMNO and its BN allies. What has changed is that a large number of voters who regularly voted for the BN got tired of the growing corruption in M’sia. Despite being given a ringing endorsement by the votes after Dr M stood down, Badawi was seen as overall ineffective especially in combating corruption. Came 2008, there was a swing against BN: it lost its two-thirds majority in parliament which enabled it to amend the constitution at will, and lost the plurality of votes on the peninsula, and lost a few states.

UMNO replaced Badawi with Najib, who has been throwing money at the electorate. But because he hasn’t done much on getting rid of corruption (and getting rid of pro Bumiputera policies, always a sore point among minorities), BN remains unpopular: unpopular enough to lose on the peninsula. And if the peninsula falls, the barons in the East (BN’s stronghold)will switch sides, even though one is an UMNO leader, and the other is a BN baron.

The issue of corruption got voters moving from BN to the Opposition. In S’pore, if the PAP, continues bulldozing its way on, and misrepresenting its “FTs are betterest” and “6.9m or bust”  policies”, it will lose votes even if continues throwing our money on making life more comfortable for us. S’poreans would say, “About time, so no need to be grateful. And it’s our money leh”.

So it’s all about immigration. It’s all about the 15,000 — 25,000 new citizens, and PRs by the container-load that the PAP wants so that S’pore will have 6.9m people in 2030.

(Someone by the name of Victoria posted on TRE: “I am sick and tired of all these alt sites who will twist every story involving foreigners just to incite intolerance, hatred and xenophobia. There is really no need for such gutter politics to paint PAP in a bad light. The hard truth is either we want more foreigners or we don’t want foreigners at all.”

Well, Victoria, I for one am sick and tired of the PAP govt and the constructive, nation-building media asserting that FTs and 6.9m population are to compensate for S’poreans refusal to breed. I have yet to see any chart illustrating why a TFR of 1.2 needs to be compensated for by bringing in FTs so that population reaches 6.9m. Remember that the replacement rate is 2.1.)

The one thing that PM has in his favour is that S’pore doesn’t have a charismatic scoundrel, turncoat and opportunist that M’sia has in Anwar Ibrahim. Mr Anwar once served as deputy prime minister but fell out with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998. He was caught trying to take Dr M’s job.

For the absence of an Anwar, PM should be grateful, though we may not. In S’pore, we have the likes of Tan Kin Lian, Tan Jee Say, s/o JBJ, and Mad Dog Chee clowning around. WP Low has characteristically stood aside, affirming that he is only a co-driver, not an aspirant driver. he is too modest. While he is certainly no Anwar, he is a cut above the two Tans, Mad Dog and s/o JBJ. He is no clown. He is a serious, systematic chap who knows his limits. Sadly, he has limited aims for the WP.

Another reason for PM to be grateful.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/rebuilding-trust-the-pap-way-one-step-forward-two-steps-back/

Why English humour is tua kee

In Humour, Uncategorized on 04/04/2013 at 7:21 am

April Fools Day: 10 stories that look like pranks but aren’t

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21993582

Justice in US?

In Uncategorized on 04/04/2013 at 6:57 am

(This posting went AWOL for a few weeks).

Interesting that a true blue S’porean co has to go to the US to seek damages for something done to it in S’pore.

Justice Belinda Ang Saw Ean dismissed an application by the US investment bank to make permanent an interim injunction that it had secured against Hong Leong Finance … the Singapore company can proceed with its lawsuit to claw back from Morgan Stanley more than US$32 million paid out to compensate Pinnacle Notes investors.

BT understands that the investment bank has appealed the High Court’s decision and applied for the appeal to be heard on an expedited basis. Excerpt from BT

The April Fools joke is on the govt

In Media, Political governance on 03/04/2013 at 7:36 am

Private daily newspapers are being sold in Burma for the first time in almost 50 years, as a state monopoly ends.

Sixteen papers have so far been granted licences, although only four were ready to publish on Monday.

This is another important milestone on Burma’s journey away from authoritarian rule, the BBC’s Jonathan Head reports from the commercial capital, Rangoon (BBC report on 1 April).

Yet our president has the cheek on 1 April to say. “We want to see Myanmar succeed, and are prepared to do whatever is within our means to support this transition towards democracy and steady development.”

“Where Myanmar goes, S’pore doesn’t dare follow” is what he should be saying.

Update at 10.20 — Forgot to mention that people don’t need a licence to protest: peaceful demonstrations are not an issue.

Another gd reason why Todd’s parents are suspicious? And US pushy?

In Public Administration on 03/04/2013 at 6:40 am

Something bothered me about the way the police was handling the Shane Todd case (other than the hard drive that his parents alleged they found). But I couldn’t place my finger on what was it that was bothering me..

Then last Thursday, I read this: An inquest into the death of exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky is due to open later.

Mr Berezovsky, 67, was found dead on Saturday on a bathroom floor at his home in Ascot, Berkshire. BBC Online on Thursday 28th March.

Then I knew what had been bothering me: the length of time it was taking the inquest to be held prior to the FT report in February. The inquest in the UK was happening less than a week after the death, Shane Todd’s inquest date is almost a yr after his death.The coroner’s inquiry into the death of American researcher Shane Todd will start on May 13 … Last June, 31-year-old Dr Todd was found hanged in his Singapore apartment in what appeared to be suicide. CNA on 26th March.

Although, I didn’t do crime or death when I was practicising law many yrs ago, I didn’t remember ever hearing it taking so long for an inquest to be held in the late 1970s. And those were the dark agges: it could take three to four years before the High Court heard a case. Between JBJ and LKY, this was sorted out in the late 80s.

I asked around and was told that is that it is very unusual for an inquest to be held almost a year after the death. A more typical response is several months after the incident: http://singaporenewsalternative.blogspot.sg/2010/01/singapore-coroners-inquiry-into-death.html. The delay is not usual especially as it had been classified as “suspected suicide”. Usually, the investigating officer wants to close the file ASAP when it is classified as “suspected suicide”. The case of a lady who jumped to her death was cited to me: the inquest was held about three months after her death.

Only, cases classified as “suspicious” take a long time to reach the inquest stage, the investigating officer having satisfied himself and his superiors on the cause of death.

So the parents, and the US senator and the govt, have reasonable grounds to put pressure on S’pore to move on the case: it wasn’t just the external drive. Of course, the delay could have due to the parents causing the police grief with their queries. Still, the fact that the FT reported the story in late February, and the US senator and govt intervening soon afterwards, makes one wonder if the inquest was called in response to US pressure. And that leaves one wondering why a “suspected suicide” took so long to reach the inquest stage.

The SPF have plenty of explaining to do. There is the

— reason for classifying case as “suicide” but sitting on an inquest call;

— if there was a need to investigate further, why the classification was not changed to “suspicious”;

— missing the external drive; and

— changing its mind on FBI help.

And all this in a case that involves the hegemon’s concerns (reasonable or otherwise) about “reds under the bed”. The FT reported recently that more than a quarter of US companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in China say they have had trade secrets stolen or compromised through cyber attacks on their China operations, And involving a S’pore govt research institute that gets US research money but was trying to do a deal with a Chinese co that the US has been targeting for yrs: suspecting it of being an arm of the Chinese govt with a mission of stealing secrets from the West (rightly or wrongly)

I don’t envy the investigating officer and those who secured the premises. Nor the administrators at the research institute responsible for the proposal to the Red company and selecting Todd to work on the project.

Related post https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/what-the-pope-can-teach-our-pm-and-police/ When TRE republished this, shumeone posted this rebuttal to the parents’ conspiracy theory:” If SPF secure the hard drive in the first place, this conspiracy will be covered up and not known to the world. By the time USA found out, they will be screwed really hard by China.”

HSBC: London & Greater China Bank

In Banks on 02/04/2013 at 5:16 pm

The map shows HSBC’s biz in terms of loans made as of 2010. S’pore is up there with China, Brazil, Oz and UAE. After the UK, Greater China (HK, China and S’pore) comes second. The bank is running down its US loan portfolio with continuing sales and write-downs.

BTW, the Argies are trying to shake down HSBC, accusing it of money laundering.

Lions XII! Lions XII!: Where only talent counts

In Footie on 01/04/2013 at 6:40 am

Keep up the gd work. Show the FAS that the “S” stands for S’pore, not “Serbia”. And that S’pore has home-grown talent that can whack the M’sians. And that S’poreans welcome FTs where the “T” stands for “Talent” not “Trash” as in case of SGX.

Coming to SGX, waz point of having FTs as MD and COO (and wanting FTs for six more posts as of late last yr) when 60% of daily volume comes from retail investors (ST report today)? FTs were brought in to bring in foreign biz, not to live off the fat of local punters.

ST never told you of these comparisons

In Economy, Media on 01/04/2013 at 5:29 am

 

They appeared at http://veritas-lux.blogspot.sg/2013/03/social-darwinism-taking-its-toll-on.html. Thank SG Daily’s Facebook for drawing my attention to them.

https://atans1.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/low-employee-loyalty-in-singapore.jpghttps://atans1.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/singapore-employees-not-happy.jpg