Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

“PAP-stream media” NOT MSM

In Humour, Media on 31/05/2013 at 7:28 am

“Why do we even call it “mainstream” media? It seems to be more a PAP-stream media,” Tong Beng on Facebook. He has a great point!

Lao Tzu on Yaacob’s regulations

In Political governance on 31/05/2013 at 5:19 am

As Yaacob was the water minister that presided over two fifty-year floods in two months, and now as info minister has juz issued regulations governing new media (which has been likened to water), I tot I’d cheer upset netizens up with this quote from the Tao Te Ching:“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

Relax boys and gals. Don’t need to bawl and scream because yr favourite toy is taken away and broken, or that you kanna played-out by the govt, a govt many of you curse, despise and mistrust.

Be complacent: new media like water will find a way through. Juz be prepared to change, or adapt if your blog has 50,000 unique visitors a month. And if you don’t (like me) have that number, nothing has changed.

Stop raving, ranting and bawling. You only make PAPpies feel shiok.

Have a gd weekend instead.

And before I forget: the Media Development Authority’s comment that the new rules would bring news sites onto “a more consistent regulatory framework with traditional news platforms which are already individually licensed”,  reminded me of the late 19th and early 20th century traffic rules that required a man with a red flag to walk ahead of any “horseless carriage”. Presumably, this was to ensure that the speed of these carriages were “more consistent” with the speeds of horse-drawn carriages.

We know what happened. So, no need to get emotional or irrational. Juz be complacent, “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”


Why are there hawker centres in Singapore?

In Public Administration on 30/05/2013 at 6:11 pm

Singapore’s hawker centres started partly for hygiene reasons, and to keep our water pollution in control. Singapore’s street hawkers were polluting the water courses quite badly. We had a major problem with water pollution … The drains were all polluted, hawkers used basins to wash their soiled crockery, and you could see rats, cockroaches, and other animals running around.

This is part of an on-going and occasional series showcasing the gd the PAP govt has done since 1959, partly inspired by these non-political pages: On a little street in S’pore and If you grew up in S’pore

This occasional series is to remind S’poreans that the PAP govt has done gd. Its actions are not always bad. Neither are they always benevolent: something our constructive, nation-building media is always spinning.

The issue is: Does the gd outweigh the bad or the bad outweigh the gd. Bit like the debate in China on Mao.

Others in series

What happens in ST newsroom

In Humour, Media on 30/05/2013 at 6:29 am
It’s not nice to have to wonder about phone calls in the night or an email to demand that a post be deleted. And it’s not nice to have to second guess what the G (or which god in which department) thinks about this post or that and that particular god-person’s threshold of “sensitivity’’.

Sharp-eyed Siow Kum Hong spotted this from Bertha Henson’s piece Read it as it contains lots of rational criticisms of the new MDA regulations, unlike most of the noise and rubbish coming from netizens’ behinds.

In case, you didn’t know, she was a high ranking, keyboard-wielding Imperial storm trooper dedicated to keeping S’poreans in the dark, before she retired after having repented. She was Dark enough to have been considered to be one of the front runners to be  ST’s editor.

But let’s not hold it against her. There are not enough Jedi for us to be choosy.

What our local media doesn’t boast about

In Economy on 30/05/2013 at 5:59 am

S’poreans punch above their weight when in comes to lotteries (and taz excluding the casinos) — 11th in the world because “The island-state’s 5m people spend about $1,000 each in the Singapore Pools”.

The casinos juz add to the mix.


Is this “Singapore news and current affairs”?

In Humour on 29/05/2013 at 5:50 am

(For the time challenged, scroll to end)

Now is “Singapore news and current affairs”, but this?

Roof-top gardens: don’t need structural changes

One major problem for having roof-top gardens or farms here is the need to ensure that existing buildings are structurally to sound to carry the weight of soil.

Hydroponics and aeroponics – a type of hydroponics, but rather than growing in nutrient-rich water, grows in the air and the plants get sprayed with nutrients – can be used to grow plants on roofs, which would otherwise be dead space, and which could not hold the weight of soil needed for a conventional garden. bring on the farms and gardens on HDB roofs with this, Khaw! Tower Garden kit

Phew, this site has less than 50,000 (a lot less) unique visitors a month. So no need to bitch about the new MDA regulation. But there goes a vibrant, reasonably reasonable new media scene based here. Do everything anonymously from overseas.

Bad timing! ST article on Reits/ Will mkts continue rising?

In Financial competency, Humour, Property, Reits on 28/05/2013 at 5:29 am

On 22 May ST screamed “Reits look like good bets to yield-hungry investors”

The opening para read “SINGAPORE real estate investment trusts (Reits) are among the hottest assets in town to own”.

On 23 May, Japan’s stock market fell by about 7%. “It was no different in Singapore, where the benchmark Straits Times Index sank 61.2 points or 1.8 per cent to 3,393.17, its worst one-day plunge in percentage terms since its 2.2 per cent reverse on May 7 last year” (“Markets tumble amid US, China fears”: ST headline. Didn’t have the balls to tell us, reits here were off about 5%*. They have since recovered slightly.

Fee-fi-fo-fum; I smell the blood of reporters and analysts. Be they alive or be they dead, I’ll grind their bones to make my bread.

For what’s it’s worth, I repeat my take first expressed here But I’m not selling, yet, juz collecting the distributions, and watching to sell.

Update after first publishing: Juz read in FT that while the Topix index is down 10%, reits there down 1%. Seems investors want to own real assets, given that Japan wants to raise inflation.

Update, Update: However, there are three good reasons why stock markets, a few blips aside, will continue to grow for some time: central banks are scared; there is lots of money waiting to be invested; and returns on all other assets are low … Strapped to these three rockets, the market can still soar. Of course, Spain could yet go bust or China grind to a halt. There could be a natural disaster, an act of terrorism or war. History tells us a bust is waiting down the track, but while the world economy recovers and governments and central banks maintain their pledge to keep printing money, we should expect prices to rise.
Phillip Inman from Guardian


Stk mkts were hitting new highs, so what?

In Financial competency on 27/05/2013 at 6:14 am

Markets are off their recent highs.

There are gd reasons to be concerned abt the ability of equity markets to continue going up. But their hitting new highs should not be one of them. This explains why.

Gd summaries of waz driving mkts and the risks and

Pinoys been doing it legally for yrs, so why the rants now?

In Uncategorized on 26/05/2013 at 1:18 pm

There has been plenty of noise and rubbish posted online about the Filipinos’ plan to celebrate the 115th Philippine Independence Day at Hong Lim Park. There are those calling it illegal, cursing the Pinoys, and accusing the police of not doing anything to prevent it. Some of the rants veer toward xenophobia or sedition. All because TRE asked legitimate questions about whether the event was legal.

Why the rants only now when this event has been held for at least two years , if not longer, at Hong Lim*? Just google for that fact. So our police allow an illegal event? This is S’pore, not the Philippines, Thailand, M’sia or Indonesia where can suka suka party or riot anywhere, anytime. This is S’pore where Harry’s Law** is enforced.

I asked a police contact whether a permit was needed to stage it, and was told that a permit was needed. Another contact told me that every yr since it began, the Filipino embassy had applied, and been given permission, for the event to be held.

It is not like the Merlion riots demonstrations where garang, qua-lan, and lazy and cowardly (don’t want to go to JB) M’sian FTs working here, unhappy that Anwar lost the M’sian elections, broke the admittedly, very draconian and KS law on the staging of public events without a police permit.

The Filipinos played it by the book, so let them enjoy themselves***, just like other govts allow S’poreans to enjoy themselves on our National Day in their countries’ public spaces.

We may not like the PAP govt’s perceived pro-FT policy, that Pinoy HR managers in MNCs prefer to employ Pinoys, and that Pinoy (and Indian and M’sian and PRC) FT PMETs are taking away jobs or keeping salaries low here: but let’s not be like our constructive, nation-building media (example from Alex Au) or the Todds, who have lost all credibility because they talk rubbish.

Netizens should have a lot more sense than our local media or the Todds. Otherwise, netizens deserve our local media, and the PAP govt.


*When I pointed out to TRE that this event had been an on-going event and gave them the above link, so that TRE could give its readers the facts, the editor asked me to write about it. I don’t blame TRE for not googling before writing its piece because it is a two-person outfit. One man focuses on IT and the other on content. Both have full time jobs, and families. Worse, they have to spend their own money keeping TRE alive: tee-shirts and donations don’t cover the IT costs. And if TRE closes down because of a lack of funds, it’s netizens fault! Open yr wallets. Don’t juz post that you will donate or have donated, then do nothing.

**Everything is prohibited, unless allowed.

***Our NSmen need their Filipino (and SRi Lankan, Burmese and Indon) maids to carry their gear when our NSmen go on route marches.

This China man is doing what our A*STAR talked of doing

In Uncategorized on 26/05/2013 at 5:31 am

Remember the late 1990s and noughties when A*STAR was boasting of our coming prowess in genetics?

Not heard much recently.

Here’s one reason: BGI has grown from nothing a little more than a decade ago to become the world’s biggest genetic sequencing company. China now finds itself at the forefront of the important effort to find genetic components to things like autism and obesity, both projects that BGI is working on, for international clients.

But Wang Jian, one of the founders of BGI, is unhappy that BGI has to train staff, given the low quality graduates that the Chinese education system produces.

Yet, as I understand from uni academics, we are flooded with Chinese researchers.

No wonder A*STAR never made gd its boasts.Wrong FTs leh?

M’sia: Most of the time this works

In Malaysia on 25/05/2013 at 5:34 pm

No, not fixing elections, arresting opposition leaders for sedition, or that corruption pays (DAP has been calling for clean govt since 1981 (can wait five more yrs? Or longer? No wonder DAP says it accepts election results).

It’s the state funds buying when foreigners sell, and sell when the foreigners want in.

Malaysia’s biggest pension fund sold about 331 million ringgit ($137 million) of shares in the country’s benchmark index as Prime Minister Najib Razak’s election victory sparked the largest rally since 2008.

Employees Provident Fund, which oversees US$176 billion for more than 13 million Malaysians, reduced stakes in 20 of the 30 stocks in the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index as the gauge jumped 3.4 percent on May 6, regulatory filings compiled by Bloomberg show. The fund’s net sales of UEM Land Holdings Bhd were the biggest on record for a single day, while the reduction in Public Bank Bhd was the largest in three months.

Only sometimes does it go wrong. In 1993, America discovered M’sia. US funds kept buying, and local funds sold. But the buying didn’t stop and local funds had to come into the market to buy stock at higher prices at year-end to remain within govt rules. Ended in tears in early 1994 for everyone when the Fed raised rates and foreigners wanted out, and the locals had to buy juz to average down.

Asean round-up

In Banks, Indonesia, Temasek on 25/05/2013 at 6:20 am

Growing faster than Greater China

South East Asia is expected to drive growth in the luxury market in Asia this year. Analysts at Bain and Co predict that luxury goods sales will grow by 20% in 2013: Greater China only 6%

How Myanmar will connect up Asia

Great graphics: explains how the opening up of Burma will allow ships to by-pass the Malacca Straits.

DBS’ woes

DBS Group Holdings is hoping it will have to settle for the minority stake (40%) it has been offered in Indonesia’s Bank Danamon. It hopes that talks between the central banks of Indonesia and Singapore will clear the way for a majority takeover. Pending these, it may ask for an extension from seller Temasek Holdings.

Note that because UOB and OCBC have a bigger regional presence (thks to legacy branches in M’sia), they trade at a 25% to DBS in terms of book value.

Todds: When grief overwhelmed

In Public Administration on 24/05/2013 at 5:45 am

So the Todds’ have moved on out from the inquiry and are leaving S’pore, saying they no longer have confidence in the system.

Bet you once out of S’pore, they will bitch loudly about the hearing and withdraw Mrs Todd’s apology for calling the court system “corrupt”. I’m sure they will allege that Mr Todd was intimidated into apologising on her behalf.

Prior to their moving on, they suffered a few blows to their credibility.

Their expert, Edward Adelstein, 75, a deputy medical examiner in Missouri, contradicted Singapore police findings that Shane Todd killed himself, but admitted his conclusions were based on pictures of the body and circumstantial information.

“The cause of death of Dr. Todd was strangulation by a ligature around his neck,” Adelstein said in a written statement admitted as evidence Tuesday at the inquiry, adding that “I would rule his death a murder — a homicide.”

He said Todd was “a very dangerous person” to the two Asian companies (Institute of Microelectronics where he worked ana Huawei, the Chinese tech company that Washington politicians love to hate), and asserted without offering any evidence that “they had him killed” and well-trained “assassins” may have been involved*. Adelstein said Todd could have been disabled with a taser — an electronic device designed to stun — and killed with an arm lock before being hanged**. This explanation could take care of the inconvenient fact  the well-built 31-year-old’s body did not show evidence of a struggle.

Sounds like something from a Fu Manchu & the Yellow Peril movie, updated of course, to take account of the rise of Chinese economic power, with its plans to replace the US as hegemon.

Note that in an October 2012 report, Adelstein had said that Todd was killed by “garroting” but at the hearing the doctor said he was speculating at the time.

Before the above, there was the issue of the hard drive.

Now that they will no longer testify, it will not be possible for them to be asked if they allege that they found the hard drive, something that they told the Financial Times according to its story. The FBI’s evidence is that the hard drive is the same as the one the S’pore police handed over to the Todds, now we know in the presence of US embassy officials.

I wasn’t too surprised that the Todds moved on quickly out of the inquiry after these comments reported on Saturday: Tai Wei Shyong, the senior state counsel for Dr Todd’s inquiry, welcomed Mr Bonner to give evidence in this inquiry.

“If he (Bonner) wishes to give evidence, we would be happy to accommodate that and we would have to apply to the court to see if the court would be prepared to hear his evidence. The state would be happy to make the application because we want the full story about this case to be told.” CNA

Mr Bonner was one of writers of the Financial Times article and if the Todds were ever to deny that they said they found the drive, he could contradict them. I had heard runours that they were going to say when they were called to give evidence that they had not told the FT that they found the drive. Anyway, this convenient avoiding of giving evidence, may not work. District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said that the statements taken from them would be used as evidence, so maybe we can still learn if they said anything in their statements about how they got the drive.

Whatever it is, it is very rare for this writer to agree 100% with a PAPpy minister (even if like me he loves dogs), but Shan is correct here in his comments on the Todds’ behaviour.

RIP Shane Todd and may the Todds reconcile themselves to the circumstances of his death even if they think he was murdered.


*Where to find such an Assassin?

1. Must be Stronger and Bigger than Shane to bring him down and hang him single handle-ly after bringing him down !

2. Must have great computer skill to hack into his computer.

3. Must have so much time to alter his browser history 19 times to show that he visited suicide sites?

4. Must be able to to complete all the above task in as short duration as possible so that nobody notice !

Is there such an Assassin ?

Is the Assassin so free and dumb to stay in the crime site to hack the ocmputer after killing him?

Wouldm’t it be easier to take the computer and hard disk away?

(TRE reader)

**Two certified forensic pathologists from the US who provided expert opinions have confirmed that Dr Shane Todd’s death was consistent with asphyxia due to hanging.

The two pathologists, Dr David Fowler and Dr Valerie Rao, took the stand in day eight of the coroner’s inquiry into the death of the American researcher.

They also dispelled theories by the Todd family’s expert witness Edward Adelstein that Dr Todd could have died because of a taser or a carotid armlock, which is a neck chokehold.

Dr Fowler said Dr Todd’s body had shown no signs of taser marks or vertical scratch marks up and down his neck – which would have indicated a struggle to remove the chokehold.

They also corroborated the evidence of two Singapore forensic pathologists that the discolouration on Dr Todd’s hands was due to a pooling of the blood in the limbs that occurs after death.

Both were also of the opinion that based on all information they had access to, they believed Dr Todd’s death to be a suicide. CNA

Doubtless, there will be TRE readers who will point out that they were paid by the S’pore govt. Doubtless these readers voted for Tan Kin Lian in 2011, and s/o JBJ at the Punggol East By-election.

US experience on growing GDP via productivity

In Economy on 23/05/2013 at 5:46 am

One striking fact is that even among the best performing metropolitan areas, overall increases in output per capita have been hard to come by. They have been limited to a handful of very brainy cities, especially West Coast tech centres. In general, growth has been a product of population increase large enough to offset falling output per person.

Growing via productivity is damned difficult! Only places with brainy people can do it successful. Given that we are “daft”, growing the population via immigration is the chosen way to grow economy. So taz why we need 6.9m people? In addition, according to PM’s dad, FTs are more more productive: locals need to be “spurred”.

Given that there are hordes of M’sians wanting to come, hopefully Lina Chiam will ask for regular updates on the FTs allowed in to see if govt will U-turn on its promise to restrict  FTs from trickling in. (WP too busy giving away contracts to supporters and preparing for ministerial goodies.) In 2008, the M’sian FTs poured in after their GE reduced BN’s grip on power. They were afraid of another May 13.

Related post:

Update on 26 May 2013:

Great point on City Harvest Church

In Humour on 22/05/2013 at 7:21 am

This appeared on TRE


As poor as the churh’s mouse.

now,we have ‘AS RICH AS CITY HARVEST’?

Singa’s FT replacement?

In Humour on 22/05/2013 at 6:16 am

Lion King character in Afghanistan Shir Sultan, or the Lion King, from Kabul is believed have applied to replace Singa. Kabul-based, Shir Sultan. is employed to visit schools in the Afghan capital to spread the message of keeping Kabul clean and green says the BBC.

So if he comes here, the govt can have one mascot for two campaigns: courtesy. and a clean and green environment. And it will reassure employers that S’pore still prefers FTs to locals.  That taz productivity!

Watch out Productivity Bee. Shir Sultan can multi-task as the Lion of Productivity.

See how fit and tall Shir Sultan looks. Not fat and short, like Singa and the (un)Productive Bee.

But let’s not cry for Singa or the Bee. Remember ex-public servants like Goerge Yeo, Mah Bow Tan, Wong Kan Seng are enjoying their pensions. So will Singa and the Bee. And do remember that while Singa did a good job until the FTs came flooding in, Bee has never ever done anything for productivity but was kept on like Raymond Lim, Mah Bow Tan, GCT and Yaacob.

Related post:

Town Council Debate: Cocks posturing & preening

In Political governance on 22/05/2013 at 5:30 am

Yes,yes Aunties’s not a cock but she sure behaved like Khaw and  Dr Teo. All these three, and the other supporting speakers didn’t try to bother to explain what the facts were. They juz tried to slime the other side, hoping that some mud would stick. No one drew blood.

I won’t bother to go into detail critcising what the PAPpies said as Sg Daily has done a gd job over the last few days providing links to a critique of the PAP’s position and its attacks on the WP. All I will say is that it confirms my view, many yrs ago, that the idea of town councils would come to haunt the PAP. It wasn’t even a gd idea at the time. Ah well, another black mark to Goh Chok Tong and one Lee Hsien Loong and their team.

I’ll juz make some points about what I found astounding about the WP’s position and netizens’ views.

I find it really strange that the WP thinks its OK for it to give a contract to its supporters but that it is wrong for the PAP to give a contract to a PAP linked company. The distinction escapes me. To me, “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice”. (Deng Xiaopin).

The other point is Auntie telling Dr Teo to report the WP to the CPIB if he had evidence of wrong-doing. Err Auntie, why so more PAP than the PAP? Imagine if when Auntie first made her allegations, those many noons ago, the PAP had said the same to her. I mean she, WP and netizens would be bitching at the PAP for trying to hide something. And rightly so. So why like that Auntie?

Which brings me to the point that netizens are so anti-PAP that they unthinkingly cheer the WP’s position on

— it’s OK to give contracts to supporters, but not party-affiliated organisations; and

— trying to win the argument by telling other side to report the matter to the CPIB.

While the PAP has the 120% support of the constructive, nation-building media, netizens are 99.9% anti-PAP. Here’s a tot for the PAP: if the local media were less servile to the PAP, would the internet be a less hostile place to the PAP. Could the hostile environment on the internet be a reaction to the power of the PAP over the local media.

To end, it would be nice if both sides respected the other side so that we the public can learn the truth of the allegations. Here’s an interesting excerpt on the benefits of respecting one’s opponent, though the author readily admits it’s damned difficult,:

Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticising the views of an opponent? If there are obvious contradictions in the opponent’s case, then you should point them out, forcefully. If there are somewhat hidden contradictions, you should carefully expose them to view – and then dump on them. But the search for hidden contradictions often crosses the line into nitpicking, sea-lawyering and outright parody. The thrill of the chase and the conviction that your opponent has to be harbouring a confusion somewhere encourages uncharitable interpretation, which gives you an easy target to attack.

But such easy targets are typically irrelevant to the real issues at stake and simply waste everybody’s time and patience, even if they give amusement to your supporters. The best antidote I know for this tendency to caricature one’s opponent is a list of rules promulgated many years ago by social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport.

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

1. Attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says: “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”

2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.

4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

One immediate effect of following these rules is that your targets will be a receptive audience for your criticism: you have already shown that you understand their positions as well as they do, and have demonstrated good judgment (you agree with them on some important matters and have even been persuaded by something they said). Following Rapoport’s rules is always, for me, something of a struggle…

S-Reits: Why stay away

In Property, Reits on 21/05/2013 at 5:33 am

Here are gd reasons not to come into S-Reits or to buy more.:

Hongkie FTs more classy

In Humour on 20/05/2013 at 10:12 am

Honk Kong-based throughbreds thrashed our FTs at a Kranji race meet. The results were so overwhelming that even our constructive, nation-building local media had to report the unvarnished truth: “Hong Kong horses sweep the top prizes at Kranji”

Hong Kong got the Talent Throughbreds, we got the Trash Throughbreds?

Same old story. SIGH.


How many more chances do the law-breaking M’sian FTs want?

In Humour, Malaysia, Public Administration on 19/05/2013 at 5:17 pm

So Lim Kit Siang of the PAP DAP is calling “Give M’sians arrested in S’pore a second chance”? Anwar’s gang wants to cause problems here, like what they are doing in M’sia? (“Pro-Pakatan Rakyat groups have vowed to overthrow the Barisan Nasional government this year through a massive street rally”)*

Since our police had already used a light touch on M’sian FTs who broke the laws on public demonstrations here, “Apa lagi Kit Siang mahu?”

Despite the police warning that it would take action against illegal demonstrations by FTs, some M’sian FTs ignored the police warning and 21 were arrested on Saturday 11th May. (Bet you these FTs  tot that  since DAP was conceived as PAP Clone, they can do what they like here because it is a PAP govt here. And anyway, because Kit Siang is a devotee of one LKY, sure can chum siong. Taz how politics and cronyism works in KL. And the irony is that the protestors want to change the system.)

Well the police had already shown a light touch with the first demonstration at the same spot (Merlion Park) on Wednesday, 8th May. There were on that day about 100 protestors according to the local media, but only nine (9%) were arrested and then warned by the police.

To show that S’pore is not a place for FTs to “import their domestic issues from their countries into Singapore and conduct activities which can disturb public order, as there can be groups with opposing views”, the police should have rounded up all the protestors on that day and deported all of them.

Back to the 11th May protest: the constructive, nation-building media did not give the numbers who protested on Saturday. Were the 21 arrested, only 9% of those who protested illegally: same proportion like Wednesday? Again they were only warned.

To be fair to the police,  those who took part in both demonstrations will have their passes to remain here revoked. The police should have arrested all the protestors on Saturday, and deported all of them.

Apa lagi mahu? Show some gratitude that the police used the light touch, Kit Siang.

Here’s some interesting (and valid bar one) comments from TRE readers on”the light touch”:

— you can take the foreigner out of their country but you cannot take their country out of the foreigner. why is the pap gahmen granting equal if not more privileges to new citizens and prs compared to true blue singaporeans in terms of subsidized housing, scholarships and cushy jobs?

hey Must be charge for the illegal assembly. We are having different ethic all over the region in this tiny country, if the recalcitrant Malaysian are to let go with a slap on the wrist, next the Pinoys will start protesting here with the issue back home,then the Bangladeshi,then…depot them & charge hard!

They should do their protest in JB. Not in Singapore’s soil. They come to earn a living so that is all to it. Why bring grieviences here? And some even begin to talk of Malaysia’s politics at work places.

Malaysian PR and work permit holders most of them are trouble makers. They are neither this nor that….sort of person. Cursing malaysia when they are here…back in their country curse Singaporean for being stupid etc…

I’ve worked with them for decades and the earlier batches were ok when they came… work hard marry our women and raises up family. And personally I have met their children and they performed NS and adapt to our system well. Mixed with other races and all that. But the same cannot be said by the recent batches of them. Ungrateful lot…shooo shooo shoo back to malaysia….true blue local born Singaporean don’t give a shit to Malaysia’s politics! whether Anwar be the PM of Malaysia or PM of Sungai Buloh or rot wherever pls when you come to work place don’t bring your shit politics here in Singapore

And here’s another reason to be tough: possible M’sian Chinese and Indian interference in S’pore’s politics.

And police investigate Singapore Writers and those mentined here

 “Is this a political website or one about writing & Singapore Writers? Why is it always posting about Malaysian politics?

 Singapore Writers: Good question. Thanks! This is a space for writers. And not only are lots of our better senior writers and veteran paid-up members like Catherine Lim, Ranjan Nair etc etc with Malaysian backgrounds but our rising stars like Serene Wee, Nat Sim etc are also from Malaysia (though they studied in SG).

 So important to keep abreast with political developments …”

 SG Writers is full of commentators, like this from Rajan Nair [TRE reader alleges that he is based in KL, being a S’porean-born PR who went home to avoid NS.]

“Some time around the late 1980’s the PAP lost its bearing and started to accumulate reserves for the sake of accumulating. Which was why they introduced an elected President with executive powers to “protect” the reserves in case a future non-PAP Govt squanders it away …

Note the president of Singapore Writers is an ex-RI rugby captain**in the 60s who stood as a WP candidate alongside  JBJ, Francis Seow in the 1998 GE. A quick check of Facebook shows that Rajan Nair , Serene Wee and Nat Sim are always criticising S’pore (not juz the PAP but TJS, TKL, WP, SDP etc) via Facebook. Gals, if S’pore so bad, pls go home: Rajan Nair moved on from here, join him. And M’sia too is bad, migrate.

*Anwar’s PKR is very friendly with our very own SDP. PKR, PAS and PDAP are members of PK, the opposition to the BN govt.

**Know him. Played rugby with him in the mid 70s during NS. Smart guy (He waz guy credited for thinking up the by-election strategy for the 1991 GE).but prone to conspiracy theories, and now thinks St Andrews is better school than RI. Still a political animal, despite his protestations. Last yr, he tried unsuccessfully to turn a celebratory function of ex-ST journalists, into a bash-the-PAP session. He failed. And rightly so: they were there to celebrate a strike comrade’s book, not play politics.

Related posts on the strike book:

Estonia doing it, S’pore still talking about it

In Economy, Infrastructure, Political economy on 19/05/2013 at 7:39 am

The inventors of Skype came from Estonia. More importantly, the economy there is using IT to leverage its productivity. Not like S’pore where FTs are thrown at any problem.

Estonian schools are teaching children as young as seven how to programme computers.

Estonia’s e-revolution began in the 1990s, not long after independence. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, then the country’s ambassador to the United States, now Estonia’s president, takes some of the credit … He read a book whose “Luddite, neo-Marxist” thesis, he says, was that computerisation would be the death of work.

The book cited a Kentucky steel mill where several thousands of workers had been made redundant, because after automatisation, the new owners could produce the same amount of steel with only 100 employees.

“This may be bad if you are an American,” he says. “But from an Estonian point of view, where you have this existential angst about your small size – we were at that time only 1.4 million people – I said this is exactly what we need.

“We need to really computerise, in every possible way, to massively increase our functional size.”

Asean round-up

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 18/05/2013 at 6:06 am

Global loan growth for HSBC: gd indication of relative economic growth rates. Asean and China is the place to be.

M’sias economic output for the first quarter grew a lower-than-expected 4.1%, dragged down by weak exports.Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had projected a median growth of 5.5%. More headaches for Najib. Well he can tell himself that the problems will not be his to resolve. Badawi must be chuckling to himself. This appeared before the elections

Indonesia’s IPO market is enjoying its busiest fiscal second quarter ever. Indonesian electronics retailer PT Electronic City became the 10th company to commit to selling shares to the public. Electronic City is reportedly planning to sell the equivalent of 25% of the company raising US$150 million in part to help open new stores.

Singa’s resignation: the Hard Truths?

In Humour on 17/05/2013 at 5:29 am

I read this very good take on Singa’s resignation from TRE It links the growing incivility here to the govt’s decision to flood S’pore with FTs and to have 6.9 people here by 2030.

But maybe the piece missed the point about Singa’s resignation. Maybe, the growing incivility meant that his job was at risk?

As two TRE readers pointed out:

Jeremy Chen:

Actually, they are replacing him with some new mascot. I think it’s a Bengali Tiger. But in view of his long service, they told him better to resign than to be retrenched. Looks nicer.

lampard chee:

the new mascot for our kindness movement is giant panda !!!

nowaday , sing is like little china , everywhere you go you will see ah tiong and ah tiong only … when you switch on TV , go to work , in the train , in the bus , super market , hawker center etc etc  …

They have a point. If Singa is not meeting his KPI of getting S’poreans to be more civil , so perhaps time to employ a FT who costs less? After all, Singa, as a senior public servant, must be earning millions. And maybe if he is replaced by an FT that is paid more, at least it’s an FT, not a S’porean in a senior post.

But let’s be fair, maybe he resigned because like true blue S’poreans like Gilbert Goh and Team TRE, he was fed-up with the effects of the govt’s policy of FTs by the container-load: rising public property prices, sagnating real wages and crowded public transport: all leading to greater incivility. Worse, he had to educate S’poreans to accept these conditions: in the name of courtesy and graciousness.

Here’s looking forward to Singa joining Gilbert Goh and friends at the next protest. Talking of GG, could he pls deny that Danny the SDP teh tarek loving bear was denied a speaking slot at both rallies because GG refused to believe that bears were native to S’pore, even if Danny did NS.

Related post:

Time to get real on retail Reits, and S-Reits generally?

In Financial competency, Property, Reits on 16/05/2013 at 3:35 pm

Ong Kian Lin, an analyst with Maybank Kim Eng, wrote in a note dated March 22 that the recent S-Reit rally was not due to strong fundamentals but fuelled by inflated asset values from quantitative easing by the US Federal Reserve and ample liquidity.

He noted how retail and office property prices have gone up but rentals have been slow to catch up.

A Colliers International report reflected this divergence. As at the end of the first quarter of 2013, retail property rents in its areas of study have fallen from the previous quarter while capital values went up.

While maintaining a positive outlook for the retail and retail Reit sector, Savills’ Mr Cheong noted signs of trouble in that retail sales figures are trailing growth in areas such as tourist arrivals, population and inflation.

Retail sales fell 2.7 per cent in February. Tourist arrivals last year was 9.1 per cent higher than the year before. The consumer price index rose 3.5 per cent in February from a year ago. Total population growth was 2.5 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

The demand seen in the market right now is due to sentiment still being buoyant, Mr Cheong feels.

“At the moment it’s still rising, but it’s a binary issue. You cannot go and push to the tipping point, you push to the tipping point, everybody will bolt for the door like a fire in a cinema or retail mall. If everyone bolts for the door, everything will be vacated.”

NUS’ Prof Sing said retailers have increasing choices of malls. And the risk is that with greater choice, consumers may drift away from traditionally popular malls, leading to a downward spiral.

“When this happens, tenants will also start to move out. This cycle will continue, because you (as a manager) cannot pull in the crowd, I (as a retailer) cannot afford to pay such a high rent, I have to move out from the mall. So you put in another tenant that is not as good, so fewer people will come.”

Prof Sing and Knight Frank’s Mr Png said they are watching the Jurong East area, with several commercial and retail developments due for completion.

Retailers also have to cope with tighter foreign manpower policies.

“Much as the government would like to talk about productivity you find that retailers, the services business, is still very labour intensive,” Mr Png said.

Err the issue of inability to raise income could also apply across the board to office and industrial reits too, given the economic slow down. Price rises can only depend on yields going down. FTR, I own various Reits.

Todds, even yr beloved, trusted FBI contradicts you

In Public Administration on 16/05/2013 at 5:53 am

I juz read that the Todds threw a tantrum making more accusations against the police. Even this believer of the tendency of our police to do incompetent things (Example) thinks the Todds’ are going to far, now that a FBI report contradicted them

The external hard drive accessed by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) three days after American engineer Shane Todd was found dead in his Singapore apartment in June last year was identical to the one the Todd family handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to examine in March this year, according to a report by the FBI.

 At the ongoing coroner’s inquiry into Mr Todd’s death, the court heard yesterday that the FBI had come to this conclusion after the SPF had officially asked the FBI on March 19 this year to confirm whether the two external hard drives were, in fact, one and the same.

 The FBI’s report appears to conflict with allegations made by the Todd family in a Financial Times report earlier this year, where his parents Richard and Mary said that they found the hard-disk drive at Mr Todd’s apartment themselves and kept it.

 According to the SPF, Sergeant Khaldun Sarif took the Seagate hard drive back to the Central Police Division after he was called to the scene of Mr Todd’s death on June 24, 2012. After viewing the hard drive on the night of June 27, 2012, he gave it to Mr Todd’s parents on June 28, 2012. (BT 15 May 2013).

Interestingly, they still do not deny the implication of the FBI report that they lied:

Their claim that they had found the hard disk drive has been central to their claims that their son did not take his own life. As I wrote here, I was about to stop reading the FT story and bitch to the FT that a reputable paper like the FT had better things to do than print the rantings of grieving parents. I didn’t because I next read that they claimed that had found the drive which implied that the police had missed it. The claim put things in a different light: our police could have cocked up, like over the Suntec beatings (Incidentally, we still don’t know the result of the police disciplinary action against the investigator. Can a PAP MP or Mrs Chiam ask? WP MPs presumably too busy handing out contracts to supporters)

As they had then wanted the FBI to supervise the investigations of our police (which annoyed me), the FBI finding that the drive given to them by the parents, is the same as the one the police gave the Todds, tells us they misrepresented the facts.

Sergeant Khaldun Sarif was generous to the Todds, yet they behaved like vicious snakes towards him. He could have played it by the book and retained the drive. He handed it to the parents and look at what they did. They claimed to have found it to give credence to their claims that their son was murdered, putting him in a bad light: that as investigator he had missed the drive.

The Todds are bad or mad: that’s the conclusion any reasonable person would draw from the FBI report. Grief over the death of their son is one thing, trying to fix  Sergeant Khaldun Sarif or blame others is another. But would bad people lie about the origins of the drive, and handed it over to the FBI? So grief may have driven them mad, and they tot that they found the drive?


Life insc buyers deprived of huge savings!

In Financial competency, Financial planning on 15/05/2013 at 5:02 am

The following report from Monday’s ST deserves the widest possible publicity because it shows how buyers of life insurance here have been deprived of the opportunity to buy less expensive life insurance: they could have saved as much as $20,000 when buying a $1m life plan.

FUNDSUPERMART’S move to sell insurance products on its online platform at a 50 per cent rebate off the lifetime commission sparked some unhappiness among industry players who saw it as a price war tactic.

Four days after launching it on April 30, Fundsupermart took down the offer, and has stopped selling insurance products since.

On its insurance webpage, which has been removed, Fund- supermart said it was introducing the distribution of protection products as a value-added service to its customers.

“More importantly, clients who are on the search for transparency on the commissions they pay for purchasing insurance can find this here,” it added.

There were also two examples stating that the 50 per cent commission rebate translates into savings of $2,000 for a $1 million term plan. For the same sum assured, the savings for a whole life plan could be more than $20,000.

The calculations were aggregated across three insurance providers, based on the profile of a 40-year-old, non-smoking male.

The Straits Times understands that Fundsupermart initially intended to continue with this model but later revised it to a one-month promotion, before pulling the plug completely.

A check with Tokio Marine, NTUC Income and Manulife, whose products Fundsupermart was distributing, found that individual financial advisory firms are free to employ different business models.

According to the report, financial advisers (what insurance sales persons call themselves,nowadays, for various reasons) bitched to Fundsupermart: The Association of Financial Advisers (Singapore) said in an e-mail statement that when the advertisement was published on Fundsupermart’s website, the association expressed its members’ concern to Fundsupermart, “noting that the tone and language used in its postings could be detrimental to the reputation and professionalism of other financial advisers”. [Err wondering what reputation and professionalism? What can be lower than the reputation and professionalism of life insc sales persons? Used car dealers? Juz kidding leh.

The industry body, representing nearly half of the financial advisory firms here, added: “We are glad that it has taken our views into consideration and has decided to withdraw the advertisement.

Hopefully some human rights or other kay poh activists will kick up a fuss, though I’m not holding my breath: They focus on things like ISA, capital punishment, FT workers rights and other things fashionable with ang moh social activists, not with the concerns of median S’porean wager earners.

So here’s hoping Tan Kin Lian of Fisca will organise a protest or write to the press to highlight the loss of this scheme; or for Uncle Leong to get Mrs Chiam to ask in parliament that the the competition authorities investigate whether there was undue pressure to remove the offer. Note that the agents’ trade union emphasised that “All financial advisers are free to offer their competitive deals to their customers. We believe that in such an environment, consumers will ultimately benefit in terms of both quality of advice and pricing.” Ya right, so how come no one offers to give such big rebates, and why the bitch to Fundsupermart when it cut its commission rates?

Doesn’t smell right, does it?

Meanwhile, three cheers to ST for highlighting this issue.

Failed at Olam, now trying luck at StanChart

In Banks, China, Temasek on 14/05/2013 at 6:55 pm


Carson Block Is Shorting Debt of Standard Chartered



Carson Block, the short-seller who runs Muddy Waters LLC, said he’s betting against the debt of Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) (STAN) because of “deteriorating” loan quality, triggering a 13.5 percent jump in the cost of insuring against losses on the debt of the British lender.

Somehow I don’t expect StanChart to go berserk like Olam, “Carson Block is outside of the bank and does not have access to the bank’s loan files,” said Jim Antos, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. “He has very little ammunition in his gun to shoot at Standard Chartered at this point. He’s got one example of a large loan that appears to be something that possibly would not have been prudent to book.”

Why gd GDP growth but “peanuts” pay increase

In Economy on 14/05/2013 at 6:02 am

Since I wrote “PM, this can’t be right? 5.9% GDP but 0.4% wage increase?”, I’ve read something that illustrates that it’s the distribution of GDP growth that matters, not GDP growth by itself. Hopefully someone who reads this blog and has personal access to PM will forward to him this extract from an Economist blog.

To see how the distribution of growth affects incomes, imagine a country of just ten people, with one earning $1,000 a month, another earning $2,000 a month, and so on up to the tenth, who earns $10,000 a month. Between them, these ten people earn $55,000 a month. Now suppose that in a year the economy grows by a modest 1.8%, so that there is an extra $1,000 to go around each month. If the richest person captures all that growth, it will give him a 10% pay boost. But he will hardly feel it, because he is already rich, and the average pay rise across the entire population would be just 1%. But if the poorest resident got all the extra money, his income would double. That would make a huge difference to his life—and the average pay rise in our little country would be a whopping 10%, far higher than the meagre overall growth rate. In general, the more of the $1,000 that goes to those on lower incomes, the bigger the average pay rise it causes, and the more impact it has. (Emphasis is mine)

What has happened here is that between 2000 and 2011, the earners of the median wage (those only getting 0.4% real wage increases) have not been getting most of the average 5.9% GDP growth. It went to those above the median wage: hence the ever rising COE prices and private property prices. The latter, meant that under Minister Mah HDB prices (remember the land cost) went up affecting the median wage earners, and the poor.

It also meant that increasing GDP via FT inflows was not in effective helping the median wage earner. The benefits of GDP growth went to the above median earners.

Finally what it means is that S’pore can have slower growth that benefits the poorer and median wage S’porean: provided the distribution of GDP growth is tilted towards the below median and median earners, away from the above median earners.Pigs would fly first.

Related post:

Keep using the platform Sports Council

In Infrastructure on 13/05/2013 at 3:02 pm

The Marina Bay floating platform was meant to be a temporary structure until the Sports Hub was completed. But it was reported in ST today that it will be staying put for at least a while longer. The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) – which owns and manages the platform – told ST that it is “considering retaining the facility for recreation, sports and community use”, even after the hub is completed.”

Keep using it until it becomes to expensive to maintain SSC. It’s something different.

Hope it gets used “permanently”. Thanking SSC in anticipation.

AsiaOne pix

M’sia: stagnating, festering economy ahead

In Malaysia on 12/05/2013 at 5:38 am

M’sia’s not a gd place to invest in is the conclusion to be drawn from the election results. Najib is likely to be replaced by someone who is less willing to make the nec economic reforms[See Update]. And why should he politically? The status quo benefits UMNO barons, and even a stagnating festering economy can be milked for many yrs to come. Anyway, the vast majority Chinese voters were not satisfied with Najib’s actions and promises, so why take risks.

UMNO (and I agree with this analysis) sees what the Chinese did as taking sides in a Malay civil war between Anwar* and UMNO for the goodies that come with power. Nothing wrong with the Chinese trying to take advantage of this situation to get rid of racial discrimination, but they got to live with the consequences now that Anwar lost.

The consequences will be a stagnating economy, UMNO hostility and having to dance to Anwar’s tune. Note that immediately after the election, Lim Kit Siang said he accepted the results, while Anwar was bitching. Well DAP soon fell in line with Anwar, despite it having more seats in parly than Anwar.

Update: and two of u/m charts gives some reasons why reforms are needed: PMETs are leaving, workers are not skilled, high govt debt and underperforming. (Note charts from FT were pre 5 May)

*PAS had to take Anwar’s side because both the religious leaders of PAS and the younger activists (young, Malay PMETS) have a problem with UMNO’s corrupt culture. PAS supports Anwar through gritted teeth. He is not trusted. PAS has more respect for the DAP because it like the PAS hates corruption. The sooner PAS becomes a moderate Muslim party along the lines of the ruling Turkish party, the better for M’sia. The young Muslim professionals in PAS are trying hard to change the party, and thankfully the ruling PAS old guard are old.

Is MU a short?

In Footie on 11/05/2013 at 4:29 pm

By conventional financial yardsticks, the club is grossly overvalued at $3bn (£1.9bn) while also carrying £368m of debt. Now that the most reliable asset is giving up front-line duties, the stock deserves to be a double “sell.”

The valuation issue is basic: revenues were only £320m last year and half that sum was paid straight out as salaries. At the operating level, profits were only £44.9m. That entire sum was then consumed by finance costs of £49.5m, leading to a pre-tax loss of £4.7m. Naturally, there was no dividend …

Ferguson kept the club in the Champions League every season and collected trophies. In doing so, he made the Glazers’ optimistic financial assumptions work.

For the record, I admire Moysie’s track record at the Toffees and respect MU for choosing him, not not some European super star manager management consultant who only know how to spend money to win trophies. MU bought homegrown talent, not FT.

Indonesia: Export woes slow economy

In Indonesia on 11/05/2013 at 7:11 am

Indonesia’s economy grew at 6% in the first three months of the year, its slowest pace in more than two years, as exports slowed.The expansion was slower than the 6.1% reported in the previous quarter, compared to the same period the year before.Last week, the statistics bureau said exports had fallen the most in seven months in March.Analysts said the declining expectation of the global recovery led to a further weakening of global commodity prices.

Its government has set a 2013 growth target of 6.8%.

A few weeks ago, the CEO of Astra (the dominant vehicle distributor) said he expected slower sales, in a FT interview.

BTW, no Asean round-up this week.

PM, this can’t be right? 5.9% GDP but 0.4% wage increase?

In Economy on 10/05/2013 at 5:48 am

(Update on 30 May 2014: Related post

For incomes to rise, the economy must grow, Mr Lee said in his May Day message, making clear the centrality of economic growth which has been disputed by some who are worried about foreign workers and inequality, according to the local media. This is a repeat of, “Everyone would like their lives to become better and one important way of doing that is to make sure your pay goes up, especially with low-income workers. And for the pay to go up, the economy has to grow,” he had said in April. 

So I’m looking forward to hear what the govt has to say about Uncle Leong’s assertion that he estimated that from 2000 to 20111, the real growth in the median wage excluding employer’s CPF contribution was only 0.4%per annum., (FYI, Singapore’s economy grew at an average of 5.9% annum from 2000 to 2011*), After all, the govt was quick to counter his comments about the rent increases on Ubin.

Somehow, I doubt that the govt would contradict him because in a paper sometime ago, the Dept of Statistics  reported that between 2000 and 2011, real wages increased by 1.6% pa including employer’s CPF contribution. Uncle Leong juz took out the employer’s CPF contribution.After all, this money is not easily accessible, given the restrictions on the use of CPF money.

More interesting than Uncle Leong’s comments is that the NTUC minister (Zorro Lim) said:

“Wages can still go up despite slower economic growth.

‘This, provided that Singapore continues to get its policies right, said labour chief Lim Swee Say” on Saturday 27 April, ST reported.

True, this doesn’t contradict what PM said, but does imply that the link between wages and economic growth isn’t as clear cut as what PM says it is. And that it is also dependent on govt getting “its policies right”. But what if it gets its policies wrong (like HDB flats**, public tpt** and FTs by the truck-load).

We suffer while ministers earn their salaries and are protected from being sacked for incompetency, until the voters show their anger, and the ministers “resign”?



Year GDP%
2000 9
2001 -1.2
2002 4.2
2003 4.6
2004 9.2
2005 7.4
2006 8.6
2007 8.5
2008 1.8
2009 -1.3
2010 14.8
2011 5.2

(Dept of Stats)

**To be fair policies in these areas have undergone U-turns. But S’poreans are suffering from Mah’s and Raymond Lim’s goof-ups. I make no comment on the FT policy because I’m not sure if the govt is walking the talk until I see more numbers. Also after the 2008 M’sian GE, there was a influx of FTs from M’sia, afraid that the Malays would take out their parangs like in 1969. Given the 110% support that the Chinese gave the DAP in the recent election, and the failure to PK to defeat BN, I’m sure the Chinese are feeling vulnerable again.. Will they try to come again, and will the govt allow them in despite its promise to cut back on FT inflows?

Would this ever happen in a local school?

In Uncategorized on 09/05/2013 at 11:13 am

Would a teacher allow it? Would any student think of it?

A teenager whose self-made Iron Man suit became an online hit has said the experience has inspired him to undertake a career in costume … “Last year my tech teacher said, ‘you come up with an idea’ and I didn’t really want to make a table, so I thought, ‘why not?

Archie Whitehead, 17, from Welwyn Garden City, spent 300 hours making the suit for his school project.

 He said he had received offers from US fans to buy his suit, but said his main aim was to go to university and improve his craft.

 “I would really love to do this as a career,” said the Iron Man fanatic.

 “I know the majority of the studios are based in America, so whether or not I could go there, we’ll see.” …

Alongside the offers to buy the suit, movie fans have also emailed him to see if he would make them bespoke Iron Man costumes – a decision, he said, he would make after his exams.

Er Lee did not pick-up dog’s faeces: shows contempt for law and neighbours

In Political governance on 09/05/2013 at 7:31 am

ST reported Er Lee as saying “My dog has a habit of going out, maybe because she was a stray dog. We don’t have the habit of confining her as we want her to be as comfortable as possible”. TRE report

As someone who has owned dogs for over 50 years, I was appalled to read this. Not only is this in breach of an AVA rule (“All dogs must be properly confined within the owner’s premises”), but it also shows contempt for her neighbours. When the dog runs out, can she guarantee her dog doesn’t pass faeces?

Not picking up a dog’s faeces when walking a dog is an offence, and rightly so. Faeces left in the open are a health and pollution hazard.

I’m sure Er Lee would argue that “Not my fault. Dog ran out.” But why did she leave the gate open, and not confine the dog? We sometimes leave the gate open but when we do, we always ensure the dog is always in the house and the steel door is closed. BTW, all my dogs were strays. I keep them confined but walk them regularly.

Whatever it is, we should give ST two cheers for reporting the story. It highlights that PAP MPs too can be irresponsible, law-breaking citizens. Irresponsibility and criminality, are not confined to social activists or opposition party members or activists. PAP MPs too do these things, notwithstanding PM’s (and his dad’s) boast that the strictest criteria are used. Ot maybe rules less strict for FTs?


HPH Trust: Cost of strike settlement

In Infrastructure on 08/05/2013 at 7:29 am

Port workers in HK agreed to a pay increase of 9.8%, after initially demanding a hike of more than 20%. This works out to an increase of 5.6% to the costs of HPH Trust.

Earlier post:

Can now focus on analysing the revenue prospects. Watch this space.

Revisited: Shld consumer financial products be regulated like drugs?

In Financial competency on 08/05/2013 at 5:53 am

Recently, shumeone by the name of Steve Wu (Wu Chee Wah of Foxtrot in SAFTI in 1974?) has been ranting about the 1990s DBS/POSB* deal on TRE. This reminded me that in 2008, 2009 (remember minibonds and DBS HN5?) he was one of those calling for Tan Kin Lian and other experts to certify that financial products are safe for consumers. TKL and GMS too called for this, so he was in good, even if not intellectually sound, company. (Sorry  GMS, couldn’t resist that jibe. Buy you a MacCafe coffee when you next in town.)

Pharmaceutical firms must convince the health authorities that their product is safe and valuable before it can be marketed. Likewise consumer financial products must face a process similar to that for new medicines is what they argued.

This in turn reminded me that last yr I read a piece arguing why this analogy is wrong. Drugs can be tested empirically via tests in the laboratory and field studies in the physical world. Financial products CANNOT be tested beforehand because the only laboratory is the market, and how does one conduct field studies in such a situation?

It’s tempting to see the harm financial products can cause and liken it to medication which, if not thoroughly tested, can also serious illness or death … New drugs can be tested in trials and in a lab. There is no equivalent for financial products. The only laboratory is the market. To effectively balance efficiency and safety, a good regulatory system should observe financial products closely in the wild and only then determine which pose a threat.

Actually, the piece gives other reasons, that I think are rather weak.

There are no short cuts to buying any financial product. Actually there are two short cuts: don’t trust what an insurance agent, or bank staffer says is one . And go ask Tan Kin Lian or Uncle Leong. Pay their fees if necessary.


*I hope he realises that

— Temask got paid in DBS shares;

— foreign brokers were complaining that non-Temasek were being diluted because the price at which the shares were issued gave Temasek a double dip (cheap shares for over priced asset);

— he innocently misreps the deal by focusing on NTA valuations. POSB’s profitability and deposit base were shrinking because the govt had removed POSB’s unique selling point: interest on. POSB a/c exempt from income tax (all interest from banks got exempted from incometax). Our three local banks are trading around 1.3x trailing book value while the leading M’sian and Indon banks would consider, anything less than 2x book value sissy stuff: they are growing more rapidly in terms of assets, profits etc; and

— DBS didn’t think much of its acquisition. For many yrs after the acquisition, it was running down or at best ignoring the brand. Only when true blue S’porean banker, Peter Seah, became DBS chairman did it start taking advantage of S’poreans’ love of the POSB brand.

DPM Teo gives FT MP three tight slaps.

In Public Administration on 07/05/2013 at 6:22 am

The S’pore National Olympic Council (headed by DPM Teo) gave the ping-pong association and its president, FT MP Lee Bee Wah, three tight slaps by rejecting three of their selections for the coming Asian Youth Games. Only an RI boy made it because he met its criteria. Two of the rejects were Sports School students.

Lee Bee Wah’s association tried repeatedly to fix the selection process in favour of Sports School students despite SNOC’s repeated objections. It failed and ST reports that its CEO is bitching about SNOC’s decision. What did he expect? That its M’sian-born MP was more tua kee than SNOC’s administrators? The result is that the association and Ms Lee have lost a lot of face.

Well done DPM Teo and SNOC. Thanks for showing that meritocracy is not a dirty word here, unlike in M’sia.

Update: Juz read in ST that FT MP’s recently adopted dog has gone missing. Tak boleh tahan her? So decide better to risk being culled by roaming the streets?

SMRT/ LTA: Another PR problem round the corner?

In Infrastructure on 07/05/2013 at 5:06 am

Questions have been raised over the health impact of high levels of tiny airborne metal particles discovered in a European underground train system.

Millions of people travel on underground urban transit systems in cities across the world.

Researchers at Southampton University say metal in the air thrown up by trains running on metal tracks could pose a health risk.

Airborne particles small enough to be inhaled are known to damage health.

They increase the risk of developing asthma, lung cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Related post:


Cramers tips for younger US investors

In Financial competency on 06/05/2013 at 7:17 am

They include pharma; social media, the cloud, mobile, and the web; and gold

NParks hates greenery? Doesn’t talk to other govt agencies?

In Public Administration on 06/05/2013 at 5:16 am

I was sad to read this in Sat’s BT

THE Moove Media cows started grazing on Singapore’s landscapes again yesterday and will continue to do so until May 26. Moove Media, the advertising arm of ComfortDelGro Corp, has teamed up with the National Parks Board (NParks) to launch a “Happy Cows, Happy Hearts” campaign to celebrate Singapore as a City in a Garden, as well as to promote graciousness and kindness.

All 600 cows – which are made using recycled plywood and printed using eco-solvent ink – carry a red heart on their backs. They will be displayed alongside over 1,000 30-inch-wide red hearts made up of fibreglass in about 50 locations including Raffles Place, Orchard Road, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Fort Canning, Braddell and Sengkang.

Surely there are better, more imaginative ways to celebrate 50 yrs of  the “greening”* of S’pore than by putting up 600 artificial cows in parks? True, it didn’t cost NParks any money. And true, it would not be practical to have 600 cows or even 600 goats or sheep grazing our parks. But surely the irony of celebrating S’pore as a Garden City with artificial cows must have occurred to the mgt of NParks?

It could have got corporate sponsors to pay it to plant a few “instant” trees around Speakers’ Corner to give shade to those using the corner. And that would have had the additional adv of scoring points with those who want to lessen the place’s capacity.

Or seriously, what about a commemorative roof top garden, along the lines of those roof top gardens built by the HDB (see below). And paid by corporate sponsors? This could showcase the imaginative way S’pore is developing the Garden City theme to cope with 6m people.

Oh I forgot, NParks doesn’t talk to other govt departments. NParks didn’t talk to the police recently. It asked Gilbert Goh to apply for a police permission for his May Day protest because of “foreign participation”, even though he clarified that there were no foreigners organising, or speaking at the protest.

“When contacted by Yahoo! Singapore, a member of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said that foreigners can attend and watch the protests at Hong Lim Park without a need for permit. There will only be a need for permit should there be foreigners organising or speaking at the protest.” (Yahoo! report)

Skyrise greening seeing ‘wonderful results’: Khaw

Currently, Singapore has more than 50 hectares of rooftop greenery islandwide in public and private buildings such as housing estates, schools and shopping centres.

Mr Khaw said this puts Singapore among the leading cities doing it.

Besides creating a green oasis for residents looking down from higher floors, the rooftop greenery provides space for community interaction and helps to cool down the surroundings.

Residents could enjoy the use of community gardens, foot reflexology paths and study corners at these MSCP rooftop features, Mr Khaw said.

He cited Jurong East and Dover Crescent as examples of how rooftop greenery is helping residents relive the kampung spirit, where neighbours get together to plant flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Mr Khaw said that the HDB has plans to implement nine hectares of rooftop greenery in existing MSCPs within the next few years.

(From CNA report several months ago)

He also talked of experimenting with vertical plant growth i.e. on the sides of HDB buildings. That would be something.

Related post:


*It was in 1963 that one LKY started the first annual planting tree planting campaign. Enhancing property values, must have been one of the aims.

M’sia: Surprised BN didn’t raise this

In Humour, Malaysia on 05/05/2013 at 7:46 am

Coming the way of MAS and AirAsia, if PAS and its secular buddies come into power?

NO RED lipstick, no red nail polish. These are the new rules for flight attendants on Turkey’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines (THY). The ban has provoked a furore among secular Turks, who fret that under the ruling, Islam-rooted Justice and Development (AK) party, Ataturk’s cherished Republic is hurtling towards religious rule.

… stirred similar controversy in February when it proposed new “chaste” uniforms for attendants. These included ankle-length caftans for women and silver-brocade coats for men. Secular Turks howled in indignation and, in the event, the designs were scrapped. Claims of creeping Islam did not, though, alter the carrier’s decision to ban alcohol on most domestic flights and on flights to eight destinations in Africa and the Middle East. And last year management eased bans on the Islamic-style headscarf for ground service personnel (though not for cabin crew.)

M’sia: Why God is not taking sides

In Malaysia on 05/05/2013 at 5:56 am

But first, what doesn’t get reported on internet or in S’pore media: the M’sian govt reported that a Pew Research Center poll showing that 82% of Malaysians were “satisfied with the way things are going in the country”, up from 76% in 2007. Pew is a respected US polling outfit.

Can’t stop laughing at this prayer going round internet asking M’sians to pray, “Dear God if you are there/ Is it too much to ask/For a leadership /With honesty, integrity and conviction /To create a brighter future”

Problem is that neither leader has honesty, integrity and conviction. One’s a product of the BN system. The other has betrayed his Muslim comrades in 1982 when he joined UMNO, the then UMNO Deputy president in the early 199os to take that post , and then Dr M in the late 1990s when he tried to be PM. After he was sacked, overnight he called for “Roformasi”.

If Nik, one of the Lims or Mrs Anwar were PK’s de facto leader, then there would be a leader with  honesty, integrity and conviction. But taz not the case.




SMRT: Can still wait

In Infrastructure on 05/05/2013 at 5:15 am

SMRT’s FY2013 profit missed expectations as cost inflation outpaced revenue growth. Margin pain will persist until SMRT moves to a more sustainable business model. Until then, not only are profits at risk, so are dividends.

Dividend payout was cut to 45 per cent versus its previous 60 per cent policy. FY2013 core net profit met only 92 per cent of our and consensus estimates. We cut our FY2014-15 EPS estimates by 21 to 27 per cent and introduce FY2016. Our target price (discounted cash flow, weighted average cost of capital 6.5 per cent) falls to $1.26. CIMB April 30.

The last target price I saw, six months ago I think, put it at 1.33. Not sure whose.

Buying for yield requires co to have a sustainable business model, something that SMRT admits it doesn’t have. Keep on watching.


M’sia in three charts, PAS on hudud and UMNO self-sabo

In Malaysia on 04/05/2013 at 6:59 am

From FT.

Letting in the professed limb choppers

In 2009 the DAP left the Kedah state government over a series of measures that were seen to curtail non-Muslim rights in the state. This included Azizan’s failure to stop the demolition of a pig slaughterhouse as well as the state government’s decision to raise housing quota for bumiputras from 30% to 50%. Several measures such as the attempt to ban women from performing on stage during Chinese New Year and turn Kulim town into a “no-alcohol” district, did not go down well with many non-Muslims.*

Dr. Harun Din, the deputy spiritual leader of PAS has stated unequivocally that the hudud laws will be implemented if the PR were to take over government.

Many ulama in PAS are envisioning the formation of the hudud belt in northern Malaysia if PAS can wrest Perlis and Terengganu while maintaining control over Kedah and Kelantan. This vision is diametrically opposed to the DAP’s vision of a secular state with a more moderate Islam being the dominant strand.*


The above problems PK has in Kedah should see the return of BN there.

However the likely choice of Mukhriz Mahathir as the next chief minister of Kedah has resulted in disgruntlement amongst some UMNO leaders in the state. UMNO in Kedah seems to be divided into the pro-Mahathir and anti-Mahathir factions.*

(*Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman is a Research Fellow with the Malaysia Program and Contemporary Islam Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.)

Update: On Asean round-up this week.

1.5% GDP growth this yr?

In Economy on 03/05/2013 at 7:18 am

Yesterday it was announced that the manufacturing sector continued to expand last month, though at a softer pace, in line with expectations of a gradual and modest recovery as global economic uncertainties continue to linger.

Factory activity in April, as measured by the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), was at 50.3, a marginal dip of 0.3 point from the previous month but still above the 50-point line that divides expansion and contraction.

The slight decline resulted from slower growth in new orders and new export orders, said the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM), which compiles the monthly figures. (Today)

BT reported last week that DBS cuts growth rate from 3.2% to 2.5% but Credit Suisse reiterates forecast of 1.5%,{27464576-17231-7047640680}

As I’ve blogged before, a major issue for S’pore (and M’sia and Penang in particular) is the decline in PC sales. Last month, IDC,  a research firm, said that in the first quarter of 2013 worldwide PC sales fell by 13.9% to 76.3m units, their steepest decline since 1994, when records began. People have been slow to buy PCs with Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating system, but they are still buying tablets or smartphones. S’pore and M’sia are major organisms in the PC ecosystem. They are for all intents and purposes non-existent in the Android (Google) and Apple ecosystems.

And the bright spot in PC sales is not much help for HP and Dell which sources stuff from M’sia and S’pore. In China, not only are PC sales still rising; they are evenly split between desktops and portable notebooks, which globally make up 64% of the market. China overtook America in sales of personal computers (PCs) last year, to become the world’s biggest PC market. According to IHS, a research firm, shipments to China amounted to 69m units, against 66m to America.

The biggest player in the PC space in China is Lenovo, a home-grown company that bot IBM’s PC biz.

Will S’poreans be protesting about caste discrimination soon?

In Public Administration on 03/05/2013 at 6:40 am

If you go to TRE, there are plenty of postings claiming that our S’porean Tamils are being oppressed and bullied by FT Indians who claim that they are higher caste than our true-blue S’porean Tamils:expecting them to look up to and respect the FTs. I don’t know the truth of these allegations (as there is plenty of “noise’ and wind on TRE*). And it is a fact (not a Hard Truth) that most of the Indian FTs who come to work in the IT industry are ethnic Tamils.

The number of non-Tamil, “whiter”** Indians are “peanuts”.

But before we dismiss these comments as xenophobic comments:

— There was a Nepalese lady who joined SPH in the early noughties. She went to a senior SPH editor (Tamil Indian by origin) and said to him, “I’m a high caste Brahmin. What caste are you?” And this guy was more senior than her! Everyone in the newsroom was stunned because caste had never ever been an issue.

Caste discrimination is to be outlawed in the UK, Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced in what is a U-turn on previous government policy.

Campaigners had said legislation was needed because thousands of people suffered abuse and prejudice because they were considered low caste.

They said existing laws offered no protection and said caste divided society unfairly, with those at the bottom expected to do dirty, poorly paid work while also being expected to – and forced to – look up to and respect higher castes.

“Caste discrimination has been going on for decades (in Britain). What we have found is that it has actually increased over the last decade or so because of social media and people have gone back to their previous caste identities.”

So it does exist in the UK, a very liberal society. What are the odds of it happening here where there is a wide spread perception among locals and FTs that the govt prefers FTs to locals?

When true blue Singaporeans complained (and produced evidence) that they were being discriminated by employers who wanted FTs, the govt treated these complaints as “noise”. Well post 2011 elections, things are different. Recently MoM Tan has implicitly admitted that there is problem when he said MoM had taken action against such employers. And PM just on May Day said that, companies must have a S’porean core. Would he have said if he didn’t accept that there are employers who discriminate against locals, preferring FTs?

Hopefully our govt will be more pro-active and vigilant in combating caste discrimination should there be evidence of it here. The issue of job discrimination against locals was allowed to fester because the govt behaved like blind and deaf frogs. It only got real after losing votes for itself and Tony Tan in 2011.

For the sake of social harmony (and the self-interest of the PAP), let’s hope the govt is alert to the possibility and evidence of caste discrimination.

*My pieces get republished there.

**My Tamil and Indian Muslim friends tell me that the “whiter” ethnic Indians are usually high caste. The darker one is, is usually taken as a mark of coming from a lower caste.

Johor: Will PK’s racial tactic work? & the case for race-based preference

In Malaysia on 02/05/2013 at 7:09 am

In the 2008 GE, Johor remained a BN stronghold. It won 25 of the 26 federal seats, and 50 of the 56 state seats. This time round, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang is talking of winning 19 federal seats. Why? He smoking ganja? His and PK’s unstated reason is the “Chinese” factor. As I’ve blogged before, about 70% of the Chinese polled in M’sia will support PK (even if it means supporting a PAS candidate who wants to chop off limbs and segregate the ladies from the men at supermarket checkouts): they are that angry with UMNO and BN. And Johor has a sizable Chinese population in many seats.

But an ISEAS* Fellow predicts that BN will remain a BN stronghold on the federal and state level (PK doesn’t seem to expect to win the state). The Chinese vote will go the PK way, but the Malays will still, just, vote UMNO and its allies. Malaysian Elections – The Battle for Johor.

And surprisingly for a publication that is forever grumbling against race-based preference policies (see its take on M’sia) in a blog posting that otherwise reaffirms its grumbles, a staffer wrote in the context of the US:

For all its shortcomings, affirmative action is one of few tools that has helped to disrupt this feedback loop [Of inequality begetting more inequality] over the past few decades. Elite schools practicing affirmative action produce more black and Hispanic graduates who find success in their fields and engage in greater civic activity with individuals of all races. But in states prohibiting racial preferences, minority enrollments at selective colleges have shrunk while white students have seen only a trivially small gain in their prospects for admission. The percentage of students of colour in graduate programmes has dropped 12% overall in four states that have banned affirmative action, with declines as high as 26% in engineering. Race-neutral attempts to admit more minorities—measures like the top 10% plan at the University of Texas, which was supplemented by the race-conscious provision now under judicial scrutiny—also have difficulty matching the outcomes of affirmative action. If the Supreme Court draws a line in the sand against the consideration of race in university admissions next month, it will likely burnish, not erase, the colour lines that still divide the American landscape.


*While ISEAS is a stat board funded by the S’pore govt, its researchers who analyse M’sia are in the main pro-Anwar M’sians. Hence this analysis is interesting, even if writer is ang moh.

DBS still loves Reits

In Property, Reits on 02/05/2013 at 5:24 am

It prefers those with stronger earnings growth potential and/or have potential to deliver earnings surprises. Preferred S-Reits are Perennial China Retail Trust (PCRT), MGCCT and Cambridge Industrial Trust based on their upside potential.

PCRT is seen as attractive due to its valuations and earnings visibility as operations are ramping up at its malls. New development assets are also completed and seen generating cashflow. Target price is around $0.84.

MGCCT offers investors “an attractive opportunity to own iconic, best-of-breed commercial assets”. The trust has resilient cashflow with strong organic growth drivers. The target price at $1.18.

As for Cambridge, its completed acquisitions and asset enhancement initiatives (AEIs) are expected to contribute positively. Its target price is seen around $0.93. I personally am not comfortable with Cambridge because it lacks a tai kor.

It advises investors who benefited from price gains in Mapletree Industrial Trust, AReit, Suntec Reit and Parkway Life Reit shares, to consider selling these.

These Hongkies must wish NTUC represented them

In Humour, Infrastructure on 01/05/2013 at 6:57 am

The striking port workers say their real wages have fallen in the past 17 years, while their working conditions have worsened. They say many work 24-hr shifts without toilet or lunch breaks, FT reports.

S’pore needs FTs like these! PSA should bring them in, and offer them 18-hr shifts without toilet or lunch breaks. Our port workers do 8-12 hr shifts with toilet and lunch breaks in-between. Throw in the right to buy “subsidised” HDB flats, and they will be be forever grateful to the PAP, unlike our present port workers who loved JBJ.

Bet you this piece doesn’t get republished in TRE. It shows S’pore in a gd light!

Related post:


M’sia: Self sabo is the problem for BN & PK

In Malaysia on 01/05/2013 at 6:02 am

About a third of the seats on the peninsula will have more than two contestants. “Independents” (largely those not nominated to stand by BN or PK ) are contesting

A few weeks ago, Najib said that BN could win a 2/3s majority if there wasn’t “internal sabotage”. He was talking of passed-over candidates at the state and federal level taking revenge by trying to ensure that the BN candidates selected in their place lost to the opposition. This has always been a problem for BN because of the goodies available to office-holders: hence the jealousy and willingness to support the opposition.

PK had problems  in deciding how to allocate seats among PAS, PKR and DAP, and self-sabo may be a major problem, outside Kelantan and Trengganu, both PAS strongholds. Interestingly in the analysis of “independent” analysts I’ve heard speak on the chances of PK winning the election, this issue had never been raised. But they were confident that within the BN ranks, there would be self-sabo.

And interestingly while the DAP and PAS seem to be disciplined internally, there are signs that Anwar’s PK is having problems BN style.