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Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

The culling of Lions

In Footie on 31/07/2013 at 6:44 am

Glad to read in ST that the newish coach (who was a tua kee in the brutal East German sporting system) is culling the older Lions. As regular readers will know, I’ve long wondered why the likes of Bennett (now that’s a FT where the “T” stands for “Talent”) were doing in the team. Granted he’s not a gd example of oldie as defenders can go on and on, unlike strikers. But still …

Given the performance of LionsXII, it made even more sense to cull the older Lions to make way for younger, leaner and hungrier predators players.

BTW, while it’s sad that Fandi keeps getting humiliated (read today’s ST), I hope it puts to rest the assertion among those brainless fans, who hating the PAP more than they love local footie, that he’s the answer to all our footie under-performance. He was boss of this region’s Shitty*, yet couldn’t secure a trophy or even get the team to qualify for the Asian championships.

But maybe it’s divine retribution for Fandi for thinking of suing the SDP when the party, like the local media, tried to exploit his fame https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/sdp-lost-the-plot-on-fandi-ahmad-article/ and   https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/people-who-deserve-tax-payers-help-those-who-dont/.

Maybe the gods decided to punish Fandi because in the SDP’s case, it was for a “right” cause, unlike the papers who only want to increase sales while giving him no peanuts.

*Manchester City ‘s EPL’s nickname. The team like Johor throws money at any problem. At least in City’s case it worked for one season. BTW, ever tot of the MU, City rivarly as an extension of the historical row between the Jews and the Arabs, or between the frugal and the big spenders? BTW both races are shrewd traders.

Take advantage of these CPF facilities

In Financial competency, Financial planning on 30/07/2013 at 10:49 am

There are two facilities that S’poreans can take advantage off. The first is for oldies, the other for everyone

Using yr CPF a/c as yr savings, fixed deposit account

(Note that a version of u/m first appeared in 2011)

If you are in a position to withdraw money at age 55 from your CPF accounts, given the pathetic S$ interest rates offered by the banks, you may want to use your CPF Ordinary Account as a savings account or even as a fixed deposit account that pays higher than S$ bank or finance company fixed deposit rates.

But make sure you know how often a year you can withdraw your money if you want to use your OA as a savings account, or more accurately as a “betterest” way of managing your cash. The laziest way to find out is to call up the CPF help line.

You also have to be aware of the following: http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20110715-289391.html.

THE scheme is stated in the Central Provident Fund (CPF) website.

But Mr Jerry Low, 58, was not aware of it.

So the retired bank trader got a surprise when the CPF Board transferred $10,000 into his Medisave Account (MA) without his permission, after he applied to withdraw $37,000 from his Ordinary Account (OA) in June this year.

Mr Low had chosen to not withdraw all his money from his OA when he turned 55.

He opted for a partial withdrawal, leaving some money in his OA as the CPF interest rate of 2.5 per cent was higher than what the banks were offering.

He could do this as his Medisave Account and Retirement Account (RA) had the required amount.

Since 2008, Mr Low had used his Medisave to pay for some medical expenses, whittling away his Medisave Required Amount (MRA), which was $14,000 as of Jan 1, 2008.

However, the required amount was raised to $27,500 as of Jan 1 this year [2011].

Said Mr Low: “I was shocked to find that $10,000 from my OA had been moved to my MA without my approval.

“I did not even know that the money was moved, let alone the amount moved.”

As to the danger of the government not allowing you to withdraw your money by changing the rules yet again, assess the risk of the government taking this action in the light of it only getting 60% of the popular vote in the May 2011 GE, and it’s determination to win back Aljunied. Besides, the government actions, so far, on CPF issues, are never retrospective.

As to the CPF being or going bankrupt, remember that Tan Jee Say (25% of voters voted for him at the 2011 presidential election and he was once a senior civil servant specialising in economic matters) doesn’t worry about the solvency of the CPF system. To him, the S$60bn he proposed spending on his plans was “small change”. So the CPF amount due to members, as of August 2011, S$204 billion, cannot be an issue, despite what the SDP (his ex-party) and his supporters at TR and Singapore Election Watch say. Reminder: they say that the CPF is bankrupt because of the losses at Temasek and GIC. Hence the introduction of the Minimum Sum and CPF Life Plans schemes.

Did you know that until a few years ago, once you reached 55, the staff there hassled people to withdraw their surplus funds? It happened to a friend in 2004. He told them he as a Nantah graduate and retired central bank employee, trusted the S’pore government.

Now, the staff encourage people to keep funds they don’t need in their OAs.

BTW, when I first posted this, someone wrote in saying

If you leave money in OA after 55, very high chance you will not get out 100% later.

1. Good chance you will use Medisave for medical expenses after 55, necessitating topping up of MA from OA before you can take out.

2. Medisave Required Amount increases EVERY year on 1st Jan, in line with medical inflation during the previous 12 months. This has resulted about 5%-7% annual increase in MRA for the past few years.

So even if you don’t touch your Medisave after 55, you will need to top up the ever-increasing Medisave Required Amount before you’re allowed to withdraw your OA.

Unless your OA amount is large enough such that the yearly interests are sufficient to cover the yearly increase in MRA. But then, this will effectively reduce the 2.5%. Which defeats the purpose for why you left money in OA in the first place.

He has a gd point. My response is that Medisave account will be used and anyway it attracts 4% interest a yr.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/best-cpf-life-plan/

Reading BT/ST financial stories for free

Readers may have noticed that I link to ST and BT financial stories (behind paywalls) via CPF.

Check out this link regularly http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub.asp if you want read, for free, to ST and BT financial stories.

SMRT: Another breakdown!

In Infrastructure on 29/07/2013 at 10:49 am

Fortunately it’s not the trains, or the buses. It’s minor. Shares are marginally off today, so market doesn’t worry about this latest dyfunctionality

Still even think about investing in it because the continuing dysfunctionality  is not reassuring, inspite of having as CEO, a scholar and ex SAF head, who was brought in to get the trains (and buses) to run on time again. Still not running. There have been several train delays, the most publicised of which was in April when a crack on the northbound track between Somerset and Orchard stations slowed trains to a crawl. Then a speeding bus (driven by FT PRC driver training for F1) crashed overturned.There were injuries and a death. And then there was S’pore’s first strike (legal or otherwise) in decades.

All this on the watch of a scholar and general? Err what would have happened on the watch of a non-scholar, sales char bor FT? Actually, we know: overcrowded trains, poor working conditions for FT drivers, contempt for commuters.

Back to the latest failure: SMRT’s Vice President for Corporate Marketing and Communications, Ms Kalai Natarajan, has quit after only 5 months. She was among several senior management staff (mostly ex-SAF officers, but not her) brought in by the new CEO Lt Gen (NS) Desmond Kuek after he took over in Oct last year. She was hired in Feb this year, taking over from Mr Goh Chee Kong, who left last year. Mr Goh is the guy who insinuated, “Better you die, than damage SMRT property.” OK, I exaggerate, but not by much. He was ex-SAFer. (Her quitting shows the gd for the FT, where “T” stands for “Talent”, running Temasek’s public communications. I once blogged that he had turned down the SMRT post.)

During her short tenure, more than five in her communication team of about 10 people resigned.

According to ST, her departure is unusual because she is not required to serve notice. She told ST that she is leaving SMRT today (Monday). She confirmed that she will not be serving notice. Usually the notice period for senior management is three months. Seems she hasn’t another job waiting for her.

A HR expert speculated in ST report that there may be a “cultural misfit” if senior management staff “are not on the same wavelength”. Let’s watch to see if the Hongkie that was brought in to run train operations, quits.

If he does, then commuters should be worried, very worried, that experienced professionals have left, leaving only ex-SAFers, not experienced in running public transport operations or public communications.

Related posts: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/smrt-can-still-wait/ Interesting that it is still trading way above its “Sell” target price.

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/for-they-have-sown-the-wind-and-they-shall-reap-the-whirlwind/

The maths of salaries when mortgage rates rise 50%

In Financial competency, Property on 28/07/2013 at 10:22 am

Up to 9,000 Singapore private property owners could be forced to sell their homes if interest rates rise in the city-state, according to an analyst report published today.

On the back of news that up to 10 percent of Singapore households may have already over-leveraged their private property purchases beyond the new 60 percent limit that was recently imposed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), wealth management firm Religare Enterprises has cautioned its clients to avoid investing in Singapore property developers.
http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2013/7/36279/analyst-9-000-troubled-units-could-be-on-market.

If debt servicing absorbs a third of your income when the rate is x% and the rate rises 50% to 1.5x%, it will absorb a half of your income. You will need a 17% pay rise just to maintain your non-debt spending and a 50% pay rise to return your debt servicing ratio to its previous level.

Think you will get this type of rise?

Taz why MAS is afraid, very afraid*.

(BTW, the MAS concern is a tight slap to the nation-building, constructive ST because on 3 July 2013, ST spun a rose tinted tale on a worrying statistic)

SINGAPORE households are among the most indebted in Asia relative to what they earn, according to a Standard Chartered report this week

Households had borrowings worth 151 per cent of their annual income last year, second in the region only to Malaysia, with debt at 182 per cent of income.

This is mainly because consumers here take on large dollops of property debt, amounting to 111 per cent of household income – the highest level in the region, Stanchart said.

On the bright side, households have a robust buffer of financial assets from high savings, so their debt levels are relatively low compared to these assets, the bank added.

“We are not concerned about household solvency in Singapore,” it said.

Thanks to low interest rates, the repayments that Singapore households make on loans are also among the lowest in the region as a share of income.

However, Stanchart warned that as rates rise, debt servicing may become more difficult for home owners who are over-leveraged, although current debt burdens are still manageable.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={617222427-18073-5858065485} BT, gave a more sober reading of the same report http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={617243129-18067-663266181})

Coming back to reality from STLand, StanChart is not the only one arguing that financial assets buffer S’poreans against over-leverage. While, rising household debt is a concern, it should also be viewed in context with the asset side of the balance sheet. If needed, they [borrowers] could draw down on deposits,” said Michael Wan, economist at Credit Suisse. http://www.cnbc.com/id/100882025

I suspect they are wrong for two reasons.

S’poreans may have financial assets, but some may have very tiny discretionary income to rely on for emergencies such as increasing mortgage payments. ST reported MAS as saying, One couple with a total monthly income of $6,000 were granted a new home loan of $400,000 on top of their existing debt, as they had a savings deposit of $90,000. But their total monthly loan repayments came to more than 90 per cent of their income. http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={568402008-18352-5608736872}

That $90,000 will be smashed peanuts if the equity in their property turns negative or juz drops, and the bank asks them to top-up. And what happens if, in addition, they have to pay higher rates of interest on their debts? As I wrote above, if debt servicing absorbs a third of your income when the rate is x% and the rate rises 50% to 1.5x%, it will absorb a half of your income. You will need a 17% pay rise just to maintain your non-debt spending and a 50% pay rise to return your debt servicing ratio to its previous level.

Then too, financial assets unless they are bank deposits can depreciate too as interest rates rise (example bonds, or structured products predicated on low interest rates). And if the deposits are in foreign currencies, these currencies may lose value against the S$.

The only financial assets that matter then are S$ deposits, which brings us to Moody’s comments on the local banking scene. While Moody’s is concerned. I wouldn’t pay much attention to Moody’s concerns over the banking sector. Credit agencies are now overcompensating for being super bullish over US sub-prime and bank ratings. Netizens, especially TRE posters should think ST, when they “rate” credit agencies’ BS remarks.

S’pore’ banks are among the safest in the world. In fact too safe, for investors, I”ve argued https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/ocbc-look-after-yr-shareholders-not-yr-creditors-or-regulators/. FTR, I have Haw Par shares which owns shares in UOB https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/haw-par-rediscovered-yet-again/

To end, let me repeat, “If debt servicing absorbs a third of your income when the rate is x% and the rate rises 50% to 1.5x%, it will absorb a half of your income. You will need a 17% pay rise just to maintain your non-debt spending and a 50% pay rise to return your debt servicing ratio to its previous level.”

Can get this kind of rise, or not?

Japan keeps Asean’s economies motoring along

In Indonesia, Japan, Private Equity, Vietnam on 27/07/2013 at 5:26 pm

Asean round-up

Gd summary from FT on Japan’s reemergence in region

China’s slowdown and the prospect of less easy US money have sent a chill through southeast Asia. Benchmark indices in Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila have lost almost half of the one-fifth gains they had made this year to mid-May. The real economy is weakening, too. Last week the Bank of Thailand cut its growth forecast below 5 per cent and recent comments from Bank Indonesia suggest it accepts growth will slip below 6 per cent. Hardly a disaster then, but nor is it what these countries or their followers are used to. Enter Japan and, crucially, its direct investment. In terms of trading with the region, Japan’s significance has slipped over the past decade as its economy stagnated, but at a shade over $200bn it commands the same share as China. Its FDI of $60bn into the region over that period, however, is 10-times greater than its giant neighbour, according to HSBC. Japan is either the largest or second-largest investor in each country.

 During the past two months, Japanese banks and insurers have spent almost $6bn buying stakes in their southeast Asian counterparts. More deals are expected as they try to escape a weak and ageing home market.

Background

Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co is expected to acquire a 15% stake in Thai Life Insurance Co. in what would be one of the biggest investments ever in Asia by a Japanese life insurer With the planned investment worth about ¥70 bn (US%700bn), Meiji Yasuda wants to make the major Thai insurer into an equity-method affiliate and dispatch executives, the sources said.

Like other Japanese insurers, Meiji Yasuda is looking to expand overseas earnings, especially in Asia, amid sluggish business at home due to the aging of society.

Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. has made a ¥28 bn investment in Vietnam’s top insurance group, while Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. in June announced a ¥34.3 bn investment in Indonesia. Sumitimo which lost out to Yasuda is now looking to Indonesia where Bank Negara is looking to sell up to 40% of its life business for up to $800m, according to the FT.

Japanese banks have been active too. https://atans1.wordpress.com/?s=Mitsubishi

Cambodia’s growing

Low labour costs and Cambodia’s proximity to key markets such as China and other emerging economies in South East Asia are attractive to foreign investors.

And with wages in countries such as Thailand and China on the rise, Cambodia is likely to become even more attractive.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23429693

Vietnam R private equity

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/07/18/vietnam-is-back-in-the-game-for-buyout-firms/

“Golden peanuts”: Legislators’ salaries relative to their countries’ GDP per prson

In Political governance on 26/07/2013 at 3:29 pm

When I posted this on fake FTs, someone posted a comment on MPs getting S$16,000 each a month. I tot readers might like to see these charts from last week’s Economist (online version). BTW, nice title LOL. Despite being paid “peanuts” by Ms Kate Spade’s standard, see where the Indon and Thai legislators rank vis-a-vis their S’porean counterparts.

As BN MPs are rumoured to play money politics to get nominated as BN’s candidates, they sure must find something worthwhile given the “peanuts” they get vis-a-vis Kate Spade, and their Indon and Thai counterparts.

Low shows the usefulness of “non-action

In Political governance on 25/07/2013 at 1:44 pm

My last piece, until new facts emerge, as I’m sure they will.on this Tweedledum and Tweedledee row that Low ended temporarily by saying “Let the people decide”.

Low clearly stated in Parliament that he would find out who had asked the contractor to give a quotation for the Bedok hawker centre cleaning. But a day later, he told reporters there was no need for further investigations (“Low: No need for further probe into hawker centre cleaning row”). Maybe he finally spoke to Tai? Remember, the day before he surprised by saying he had never spoken to Tai. This surprised some (including self) but on reflection he was not the chair, nor vice of the town council. And he ain’t a micro mgr like PM’s dad. More like PM who allowed Mah Bow Tan and Raymond Lim to continue with their now discredited (now reversed) policies. Or maybe, Auntie and her man threatened to resign as MPs? True WP can rule Aljunied, but looks bad for Low and WP. First Yaw, then Auntie and her man.

Then he went on, after PM’s comments, to say, “Our MPs’ consciences are clear.  Not saying the MPs got integrity in his view. Juz saying their consciences “are clear”. Leaves open the possibility that MPs wrong to asset that Tai didn’t ask for $.

Meanwhile PritamS is so quiet. Lost his voice? Or had his vocal cords cut?

So they traded places, which is the best for WP. If WP is smart, they should lock PritamS in a padded cell, and when the next GE is called, announce that he will not be standing again. He is a liability in a party with men of substance and quiet achievement like Low, Show Mao and JJ.

But non-action has its downside. Take Faisal’s silence: It was interesting how the PAP politicians referred to the silence of Mr Pritam Singh …  denied that the town council had asked for undeserved payment – but failed to mention the other GRC member, Mr Faisal Manap. He had actually written to the town council on the issue, handing over an appeal letter from hawkers about being made to pay extra. Was he in Parliament? Couldn’t he have shed light on the matter? Or was he merely acting as a post box for hawkers when he handed over the appeal? http://www.breakfastnetwork.sg/?p=6192

The above reminded me that it was a convoluted (so painful to read)  remark of Auntie’s that got me analysing the case more closely. She said, “the letter evidently shows MP Faisal’s awareness that it was not the policy of AHPETC not to clean the high areas of the market during annual cleaning, nor to collect any additional charges from the hawkers; otherwise, MP Faisal would not have written to AHPETC to look into Mr Chan Kheng Heng’s claim”.

Before that, I tot most of the noise was the typical PAP bullying, trying to stir the waters in an espresso cup, even if I tot WP had goofed and was silly to muddy the waters and Auntie dumb to accuse a govt agency of being political.

What got me analysing was the convoluted nature of what she said*, and the fact that Faisal didn’t juz pick-up the telephone and call Pritam, “P, waz this nonsense about charging the hawkers for the annual cleaning of the ceilings? Isn’t it our policy to pay for this?”. He didn’t but handed on the petition letter, supporting it.

His continued silence while not damning is strange.

Overall though, non-action has worked to the WP’s advantage here. If only Auntie and her man were followers of Lao Tzu, as Low surely is. Instead, they were people of violence, ala PAP.

So until fresh facts emerge, I’ll say no more on this matter.

*I said here that lawyers use language like this to confuse matters.

Can Oppo MPs ask MoM for FT fake rates here?

In Economy, Public Administration on 25/07/2013 at 5:17 am

And that this isn’t happening here? (Reminder, only recently there was report of  25 FTs convicted for using false education certificates in work pass applications.)

The ABC has revealed that thousands of Indian students, skilled workers and 457 visa holders have been admitted to Australia on dodgy travel and work documents.

Briefings prepared by the Immigration Department and obtained by the ABC’s Fact Check Unit under Freedom of Information show out-of-control, large-scale fraud of the visa system.

The internal audits show fraud rates approaching 50 per cent, and an Immigration Department struggling to properly identify people who are enterin

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-22/immigration-audits-reveal-large-scale-visa-fraud/4833710

Note that in the US, there are complaints that Indian IT companies are misusing the US visa system: However, critics of the proposed expansion argue that it’s not the future Facebooks of the world that are in desperate need of more H-1B visas but rather large outsourcing firms like iGate Technologies and Cognizant that benefit most from the programme.

Many outsourcing firms are of course Indian and already the Indian government has objected to provisions in the bill that would tax companies whose workforce is made up of more than 50% of H-1B visa holders.

Those provisions are meant to appease critics such as Systems in Motion CEO Neeraj Gupta, himself a former H-1B visa holder who once sold a company to a large Indian outsourcing firm.

Mr Gupta says the cap on visas should not be raised unless serious questions about the programme in general are asked.

“Before you open up the numbers let’s look at how they’re being used today: more than 80% of H-1B visas go to outsourcing firms,” says Mr Gupta.

“Let’s stop the use of these visas for outsourcing and you have more visas available for the innovation economy.”

Mr Gupta and others argue that foreign workers, mostly from India, are not necessarily future innovators but just cheaply educated lower-level engineers.

Because of the strictures of the H-1B programme, they are paid less money than equivalent American workers – and they have less bargaining power.

“If a worker complained about their wages or their working conditions, the employer could just threaten to lay them off and if they did that worker would have to leave the country,” says Rochester Institute of Technology Professor Ron Hira, who is himself ethnically Indian and a mentor to many foreign graduate students.

“It’s a form of indentured servitude.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23010391

Related post: New Citizen Raj talks openly of how his son will avoid NS while becoming a PR

BTW, I’m sure some ultra sensitive kay poh will bitch that I’m targeting Indians. If there are any reports of slit eyed chinks gaming the immigration systems of ang moh countries, send me the links and I’ll publish them here.

 

P Ravi’s reposting: What the govt should have done

In Internet, Public Administration on 24/07/2013 at 5:21 am

Regular readers will know that in a piece about the “right politics” that the PAP plays:.

Penultimately, in case anyone is wondering, I don’t think it was “dirty” politics … for Yaacob to rough up P* Ravi. Those who live by the sword like … P Ravi must accept that they can kanna cut or die too. Fair is fair. Cannot expect to use keyboard or mouth to attack others, and not not expect others to respond. And they should remember that bullies in real life often don’t back off but instead respond disproportionately.

These were gd “clean” politics.

Recently, I met someone in corporate communications who didn’t like what the govt is doing to P Ravi. He, as a social activist and a believer in human rights advocacy, disagreed that the govt’s response was proportionate, especially the forum letter that appeared after my above remarks. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, why are you reading my blog?)

He said that after P Ravi had posted his comments on his Facebook wall, and the govt was alerted to it by worried S’poreans, it should have posted a reply to his reposting on his wall, setting out the facts, and asking him to correct or remove his posting. Putting its reply on a govt website was not the best response.He said he didn’t know about that response, until I told him about it. He had been going on about the unfairness of Ravi being singled out in parliament by a minister before I pointed out that the govt had issued a rebuttal on a govt website.

I think this gd-hearted kay poh, who incidentally wants convicted drug dealers treated humanely, has a very valid point on the govt not answering directly to Ravi’s comments (He reposted, so he owns the comments, so pls no “Reposting only” BS) on his Facebook wall.

This is something that should be included in Yaacob’s SOP on handling haze public communications: responding in a timely manner on the same platform as the query or allegation, not via another platform. In fact, this should be in the SOP on the handling of any query or allegation, whether well-intended, plain kay poh or malicious. Anyway, the intention is another issue that can and should be handled separately. It is of secondary importance.

Responding in a timely manner on the same platform as the query or allegation, not via another platform, is a very good way of coping with, “A lie can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.”, something any government or corporation is rightly paranoid about. Incidentally this remark was said in the late 60s, or in the 70s by James Callahan who was British PM in the late 70s: pre-internet age.

Now a lie can be round the world a hundred fold, before the truth has got its Christian Louboutinhigh heels on.

I hope that both the govt and P Ravi have learnt lessons from this balls-up and move on. Fortunately, no-one died and it turned out to be a Tweedledum and Tweedledee row:

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
    As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
    They quite forgot their quarrel.

Tennieldumdee.jpg

Sadly I think the govt is planning to extract its “pound of flesh”. Hopefully, I’m wrong ’cause I know P Ravi personally. He is a decent, well meaning guy who means nobody any harm. I don’t think rumour-mongering was on his mind when he reposted the said comments.

Update on 17 December: I am wrong, as at time of writing, on the govt extracting its “pound of flesh”. May I continue to be wrong. Merry Christmas to all, PAPpies included.

 

Insufficient public data: a reason for our low productivity numbers?

In Economy, Public Administration on 23/07/2013 at 4:50 am

Canada like S’pore has lousy productivity numbers. A recent study* has come up with a plausible explanation that could be applicable here. There is insufficient publicly available data for companies (esp SMEs) to benchmark against. They don’t know how badly they are performing vis-a-vis their peers. The solution?

Industry associations could help fill the gap by more consistently gathering and sharing investment information among their members.

The Canadian federal industry department is also working with the national statistical agency and academics to see if some way can be found to release at least some investment data.

*A report … by Deloitte, a business consultancy, offers a novel explanation that may be relevant to other poor performers in the productivity stakes: More than one third of Canadian companies don’t realise they are not making the necessary investments in research, machinery, equipment and technology to keep up with more competitive firms because they lack access to the kind of information they need to compare themselves with their peers. The report calls this group “over-confident” because they think they are doing better than they actually are.

In an age when many feel deluged by the amount of information available, not having enough of the stuff is an odd problem to have. Bill Currie, Deloitte’s managing director for the Americas, says information on how much companies spend on productivity-enhancing measures is collected through tax returns. However, sharing it at the level of detail required to make it relevant raises privacy concerns in a country like Canada where privately owned companies dominate in some regions or sectors.

The problem doesn’t exist in America and other big economies because the large number of companies in such places—the US has about 6m employers to Canada’s 1m—means no one firm will stand out when investment statistics are given by sector or region. (In national data releases in America, statistics are often redacted in sectors where a single firm’s proprietary information could be discerned thanks to its dominance in the category.) But it may be relevant in smaller economies that lag America in labour productivity such as New Zealand or Switzerland. Industry associations could help fill the gap by more consistently gathering and sharing investment information among their members, says Mr Currie. The Canadian federal industry department is also working with the national statistical agency and academics to see if some way can be found to release at least some investment data. Of course that won’t help with another problem (this one not particular to Canada): firms tend to look inward at past practice rather than outward at the current practice of competitors when setting benchmarks.

Canadian firms are terrible laggards when it comes to spending money on research and development, machinery, equipment or technology. In the past, the low level of the Canadian dollar vis-à-vis its southern peer was blamed for dissuading companies from importing what they required.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/06/productivity-growth

Why NOL has problems

In Public Administration, S'pore Inc, Shipping on 22/07/2013 at 10:30 am

It’s only number 8 (middle chart) in an industry where size matters (APL is NOL) and where there is serious overcapacity. It’s way behind the top 3 (all ang mohs). At one time, Evergreen (Taiwan) and NOL were right up there, challenging Maersk.

Another problem is the drop (and volatility) in freight rates.

Then there is slowing growth rates in shipping. Maersk’s CEO said in FT recently that Maersk will to adapt to annual growth seaborne container trade of 4 to 5% in the years ahead, compared with levels close to 10%.. For 2013, Maersk expects 0nly 2-4% growth. Maersk’s CEO says he is not going for market share but focusing on costs, something NOL has been doing for yonks.

With the fundamentals of the industry against it, having a CEO who is ex-scholar, ex-SAF chief, and ex-Temasek MD doesn’t help esp since NOL is a very efficient company.

Related post https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/maersk-sails-to-profit-while-nol-loses-another-mast/. If you’ve wondering why no 2013 update, it’s the same old story. Maersk keeps doing better.

What NOL has in its favour is that it is not heavily geared.

(From FT)

Why Yaacob should imitate Tom Cruise

In Humour, Internet, Political governance on 21/07/2013 at 6:53 am

And join the Church of Scientology. Or since apostasy* is punishable by death in Islam, he should sub-contract to the Church of Scientology. the govt’s attempts to make sure we get the “right” news from the web, so that we support the “right” party with the “right” politics; never mind if it has the “unright” policies, like preferring FTs to locals.

Here’s why he shold sub-contract to the Church : They’re kind of innovators in finding ways to censor the internet,” Dr Martin Poulter University of Bristol

Last month digital rights activists at the influential Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) placed the Church of Scientology into their hall of shame over what it says were repeated acts against internet freedoms.

It was just the latest twist in the Church’s long-running feud with “negative” Scientology content online, one that has lasted almost two decades.

Back in May 1994, at a time when most major organisations were yet to figure out how exactly to deal with the relatively unknown power of the internet, the Church’s Elaine Siegel had a few ideas, outlined in a leaked email to “all Scientologists on the internet”.

“I would like to ask your assistance in getting each one of you to post positive messages on the internet (at least once a week, more if you like), about Scientology,” she wrote.

“If you imagine 40-50 Scientologists posting on the internet every few days, we’ll just run the SP’s [ex-members] right off the system.

“It will be quite simple, actually.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23273109

But, perhaps not, because despite its attempts to control the flow of info on the net about the Church:

According to some measures, the Church is suffering from declining membership. Many who leave the Church are now more able to speak out – particularly with the help of blogs and social media, a threat that even the most intensive use of copyright laws struggles to touch.

“Founder L Ron Hubbard told them how to do everything in life,” reflects Dr Poulter from Wikipedia.

“But he didn’t leave any instructions on how to handle the internet.” The Hard Truths don’t. likewise, tell the PAPpies how to handle the internet.

Since there’s no manual on how to successfully control the flow of info on the web, maybe the govt should juz be pragmatic, and accept that it doesn’t have the power to restrict the flow of info on the net. Information on the net is like water.

And since I’m on Yaacob and the govt’s attempt to control the flow on the internet, here’s something on Yaacob’s law.

In his recent parliamentary comments,Yaacob Ibrahim, minister for Communications and Information, said he was “puzzled” by the Asia Internet Coalition’s statements*. The new licensing regime “has nothing to do with doing business in Singapore. It is about holding certain websites to a higher level of responsibility,” he said.

For someone who went to RI and Stamford, I can only hope that he is pretending to be “puzzled’. Because if he is really, really puzzled, it reflects badly on the calibre of RI boys who are cabinet ministers (I mean Hng Kiang is not exactly a shining example of the species).

It’s obvious why an industry body representing eBay Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Salesforce and Yahoo Inc is concerned**. Its members make money using information (i.e. news) in one form or other. For Google, Yahoo and Facebook, they make money   via ads. For eBay it is via fees. Any possibility of information being restricted is worrying for these big companies, and for their govt, the US govt***, even if for the moment the penalties for breaking S’pore’s regulations are “peanuts”.

The other reason why these companies (and the US govt) are concerned is that S’pore is a “thought leader”, in mgt consultants’ speak, when it comes to making sure the media reports the “right” news (Witness its ranking in the press freedom index). It’s attempts to make sure the right news is told is worrying for global information companies because other countries might try to follow suit. Then problems may result. Say Indonesia has a similar regulation. Come another haze problem, Yahoo may have to obey S’pore and Indonesia in reporting the “right” information. And the countries may disagree on what is “right”. Whatever it does, Yahoo will upset someone.

——

*Apparently following the Way of Hard Truths doesn’t amount to conversion out of Islam, even though it involves deification of the Hard Truths.

**In an open letter published last month, the Asia Internet Coalition—an industry body representing eBay Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Salesforce and Yahoo Inc.—criticized the new rules as “onerous, regressive and untenable in practice,” arguing that they have “negatively impacted Singapore’s global image as an open and business-friendly country.”

“The current vague and broad terms in the regulation and implementation will hamper innovation and deter industry growth,” such as by placing a “financial risk” upon potential Internet start-ups, said the coalition, which lobbies for free and open Internet access. The new rules “could presage a more restrictive attitude to the Internet [and] set a precedent for more restrictive regimes around the region,” it added. http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2013/07/08/singapore-defends-new-internet-rules/?mod=WSJBlog

Reminder:- A “Singapore news programme” is any programme (i.e, a programme is a production) containing any news, intelligence, report of occurrence, or any matter of public interest, about any social, economic, political, cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific or any other aspect of Singapore in any language, but does not include any programme produced by or on behalf of the Government.

***The US State Department issued a statement expressing its “deep concerns” about what it called a “new restrictive law” in Singapore for licensing news websites. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We urge Singapore to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with its international obligations and commitments.”

“We are concerned… to see Singapore applying press restrictions to the online world.”

Haze over, Indons start two-timing again

In Indonesia, Insurance on 20/07/2013 at 5:15 am

Asean round-up

Indonesia

This two-timing was predicted:

Despite Indonesia committing to ratify the regional pact on transboundary haze pollution by early next year, at the latest, and agreeing to share digitised concession maps with other governments, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan left yesterday’s regional meeting on the haze problem “disappointed (but) not surprised”, in his own words …

Only two of the four outcomes that Singapore had sought were fully met after the four-hour meeting: Getting the participating countries — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand — to involve high-level officials from all relevant ministries and agencies from each country in the MSC process, and getting a commitment from Indonesia to ratify the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Pollution Agreement “expeditiously”.

Singapore was unable to get an agreement from Indonesia to renew their collaboration to reduce forest fires at Jambi and other provinces if possible, with Indonesia issuing a noncommittal response to offers of bilateral collaborations from Malaysia and Singapore.

While it welcomed the offers, Indonesia is “currently identifying the areas of cooperation which will maximise and bring mutual benefits for all parties concerned”, a press released issued after the meeting said.

Singapore had also hoped to get the participating countries to submit their concession maps and agree a date for the public launch of the ASEAN Sub-Regional Haze Monitoring System (HMS) platform to enable identification errant companies engaging in slash-and-burn practices.

Maps from the Indonesian govt are the only way S’pore can establish whether S’pore-based companies are telling the truth about where the fires are burning. If the accounts of the S’porean (mostly controlled by Indonesians) are taken at their face value, the fires are almost always anywhere except on their land. Note that despite the allegations by Indon officials that S’pore companies started fires , only one co, a M’sian co,has been charged.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/why-plan-suffocate-sporeans-failed/

Thailand/ Insurance

Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co is expected to acquire a 15% stake in Thai Life Insurance Co. in what would be one of the biggest investments ever in Asia by a Japanese life insurer With the planned investment worth about ¥70 bn (US%700bn), Meiji Yasuda wants to make the major Thai insurer into an equity-method affiliate and dispatch executives, the sources said.

Like other Japanese insurers, Meiji Yasuda is looking to expand overseas earnings, especially in Asia, amid sluggish business at home due to the aging of society.

Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. has made a ¥28 bn investment in Vietnam’s top insurance group, while Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. in June announced a ¥34.3 bn investment in Indonesia.

Sumitimo which lost out to Yasuda is now looking to Indonesia where Bank Negara is looking to sell up to 40% of its life business for up to $800m, according to the FT.

Japanese banks have been active too. https://atans1.wordpress.com/?s=Mitsubishi

Reason why govt fears keyboard warriors?

In Internet, Political governance on 19/07/2013 at 5:28 am

Here, I blogged on Tan Wah Piow’s call for cyber-activism: juz forward articles you like to friends and contacts.

Doesn’t achieve much leh: the following appeared recently in the letters page of the Economist:

* SIR – I was glad to see you address a common misconception regarding the protests over the past few years (“The digital demo”, June 29th). These protests have been touted as social-media revolutions, but the fact remains that the demonstrators have grabbed attention and brought about change because they went out and physically marched. Today’s youth often assumes that sending a tweet constitutes protest.

Metin Toksoz-Exley
Boston

He is right about the physical efforts needed to get things changed in countries that are authoritarian or dictatorships. Not so easy as what the S’pore dissident says.

As S’poreans don’t do protests and marches, except with the PAP govt’s permission: and most only speak anon, the PAP should not be afraid of keyboard warriors, right? They can’t change anything.

Except that the generals in the PAP govt are paper generals. And our policemen have no experience of dealing with rioters. When was the last time, the riot squad was called out? Or the ISA* used against middle class kay pohs?.

One P* Ravi is both a keyboard warrior (Jedi rank, but got potential to be Jedi Master like Yoda), and a physical warrior (he works-out by pounding the pavements and climbing the stairs for the NSP, and buys masks from his own pocket for the needy), . He operates in both worlds. He is dangerous to paper generals. Maybe taz the real reason why he kanna marked? Not because he reposted an allegation that masks would not be distributed to the public, despite the govt saying this was being done. BTW, the masks were distributed, and the reposting didn’t result in riots or panic. Bit of

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
— —

* On the ISA, read what this young S’porean (doing his NS (to defend among others this two-timing new citizen Raj and his NS avoiding son that will still be a PR FT) has to say about the ISA and his generation:

— irrelevant it seemed http://wisementalking.tumblr.com/post/50971147692/operation-spectrum-and-the-internal-security-act-why:

— until there was “intimidation”  http://wisementalking.tumblr.com/post/50973572926/operation-spectrum-

**Philemon, not “Private”, “Politician”, “Political” or “Partisan”)

Waz wrong with Pink Dot event becoming like Christmas?

In Uncategorized on 18/07/2013 at 5:18 am

I’m taking a break from blogging about the row in a expresso cup between the WP and the PAP, even though it’s one of the best comedy shows I’ve come across. Below is something on the Pink party and the ISA that I wrote earlier but didn’t post because of:

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Now that kill-joy Low is trying stop this variant of the Punch and Judy show, I’ve got one more post on the matter  coming out next week. Will the the last until further facts become public, as they will, in the fullness of time, actually quite soon.

Now to the Pink Dot event, and the ISA. Skip right to footnote 2 for the bit on the ISA, and the PM’s latest goof.

Barrie, the hybrid bear from Singaland where no lions roam, and from Canada where bears roam freely and where gays can marry and otherwise live openly as gay without social , physical or legal retribution, wrote a few weeks ago:

As an observer* of Pink Dot celebration the last few years, I can say that Pink Dot has lost its original focus. Isn’t this event supposed to be an awareness programme to help Singaporeans accept that there are gay people? So what’s all this feel-good celebration that has nothing to do with the cause?

The above is like Christmas becoming so commercialised, many Christian conservatives are brooding on the fact that the real spirit of Christian Christmas is no longer around.

At the rate Pink Dot is going, in a few years’ time we would have about a hundred thousand people supporting the Pink Dot event, having a good time partying, but hardly anyone would give a thought or two that LGBTs are fighting for their rights.

Waz wrong with the event becoming fun and commercialised, and not being about fighting for rights?

I’m not privy to the strategy of the organisers, but I’m sure the party atmosphere is deliberate. It’s aimed at saying,”We too are human. We too love to have fun. We’re like you, straights.” What better way of showing the effectiveness of this strategy, then by attracting partying by people not like them: heterosexuals.

An “awareness programme” need not be made of long, boring sermons by earnest, serious activists (rifles, beards and glass eyes are options, as US preachers show). An American civil rights activist (I can’t remember his name) became a media mogul by entertaining black readers while educating them on what the Civil Rights movement was trying to achieve, and why the movement mattered.

He effectively commercialised civil rights, but so what?

Coming back to Pink Dot: the LGBT community here despite 377A** are now part of the community, accepted by most S’poreans (albeit with great reluctance by certain S’poreans and some sections of communities).Even those who are not willing to accept the community, recite, “Hate the sin, love the sinner”.

Even ST reported it, albeit hide on page 16 (See my take***). TRE and TOC, as usual,  reported the Pink Dot party prominently.

Barrie Bear grumbles, “Note the feel-good, let’s-party, dance-till-we-drop atmosphere. Whatever happened to the theme gay rights activists are campaigning for like the repeal of S377A?”

If I were an organiser, I’d say to him,”We, S’poreans and FTs, straight or queer are partying because to quote you ‘for the majority of Singaporeans, it is a non-issue and a non-affair’. We are part of the community, not a marginalised minority stuck in a ghetto. For that God be praised.”

Cunning buggers these LGBT community leaders. By turning the event into a commercial event, like Christmas, they made LGBT activism, mainstream. Juz like the early Christians who “borrowed” a pagan event (which had orgies) and turned it into a religious, festive event, which only returned to its pagan roots via commercialisation.

*Actually he should also add “as a critic of the LGBT movement”

**I personally wish the members of the community stop bitching about 377A as though it were the ISA. Sure it would be better if 377A were abolished, but the movement keeps on thriving despite its existence. On the ISA, I think this is how it should be looked at http://wisementalking.tumblr.com/post/50971147692/operation-spectrum-and-the-internal-security-act-why: irrelevant.

The state shot off both of its feet http://wisementalking.tumblr.com/post/50973572926/operation-spectrum-the-internal- security-apparatus-and, giving a reason for its abolition. But then our PM is obsessed with the “right” politics and “right” way of thinking, not doing the right things.

***FTR, TRE came out with several articles on the party when it came online.

Effect here of $ leaving Asia

In Economy on 17/07/2013 at 7:09 am

Ang moh money returning home from emerging mkts

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/07/11/dash-from-emerging-to-developed-markets-hits-new-risks/

Asian money leaving their home countries

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/07/15/asian-capital-flight-risk-goes-beyond-hot-money/

Whether some of this money comes here is irrelevant. Our high hsehold debt ratio is likely to give grief to leveraged S’poreans (most of us, self excluded) esp those whose financial asssets depreciate while the debt obligations remain. http://www.cnbc.com/id/100882025 While, rising household debt is a concern, it should also be viewed in context with the asset side of the balance sheet. If needed, they [borrowers] could draw down on deposits,” said Michael Wan, economist at Credit Suisse. 

Minister, you thinking of yr govt?

In India, Political governance on 16/07/2013 at 5:13 am

I laughed when I read the following:

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said one of the biggest risks for Singapore is a populist government that spends increasing amounts of money to succeed.

Already, he noted, there are other challenges facing the nation, such as an ageing population, a shrinking workforce and rising healthcare costs.

Mr Shanmugam said: “There’s always something else on which money can be spent. But every time the government agrees and puts down a programme, you must remember it’s hard-coded, very difficult to take it back.

“Whenever we put down a programme today to spend money, I think the biggest risk for Singapore is a populist government that decides that the way to succeed is to spend more and more money. Every programme that you put down money (for), today, would just mushroom in 10, 15 years.

“So the impact will not be seen in the next five years. Next 10 years will be okay, but after that, how are we going to afford it? How sustainable is it going to be?”

Mr Shanmugam was speaking at the National University of Singapore U@live forum on [12th June 2013]. (CNA)

Recently,

— the govt has junior civil servants more money (Singapore’s 80,000 civil servants will get a mid-year Annual Variable Component of 0.4-month. In addition, Division IV officers will receive a wage increase of $70 per month and Division III officers a pay rise of $40 per month.)

— NTUC is pushing for cleaning companies to give each of their workers $60 a month more.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the government has taken steps to help low-income tenants of rental flats who see their pay rises eaten up by a rental increase.

Two million adult Singaporeans received letters from the government in the first week of July, informing them of the benefits they and their households will receive as part of Budget 2013.

And what about these?

— In 2011 or 2012, the govt funded a rise in the salaries of doctors, and I think, other health professions in public service. There were assurances that the fees we pay to use SingHealth services would not be raised.

— CPF interest rates are maintained despite the yields on 10-yr govt bonds collapsing.

— The injection of $1.1bn into the public transport system, a system which the former transport minister tot was perfect. Remember, he threatened a GST increase because he said commuters were asking for too much comfort.

— The accelerated HDB building programme despite constant govt grumbles that it loses money. A previous HDB minister even implied that by building more HDB flats, S’pore was raiding its reserves. Yes, yes he actually didn’t say this but I didn’t say he said this. I’m putting a reasonable spin on what he said.

So one could reasonably argue that this govt is doing the very thing it decries. It spends increasing amounts of money to succeed or to make sure it’s share of the popular vote doesn’t fall further in the next GE. A few years ago, when LKY was still in the cabinet, and believed to have a veto over cabinet decisions, I had lunch with some economists. One of them wondered if LKY would die if the govt spends one more cent of our money to make life a bit more comfortable for S’poreans. Wonder how LKY feels about all the above spending? Would he think it is “populism” at work?

The continuing good news for “P” (for “political”) netizens, and the opposition is that so long as VivianB is in the cabinet, the PAP will have very serious problems being perceived as a populist, compassionate party, no matter how much of our money the govt throws at us. It also undercuts the gd work that Kee Chui is doing. When social welfare workers praise him, he must be doing something gd. Or at least “populist’.

Norway’s SWF: transparency & performance not exclusive

In Corporate governance, Financial competency, GIC, Temasek on 15/07/2013 at 5:09 am

From FT

Transparent, yet doing well.So large it owns an average 1.25% of every listed company in the world, or 2.5% of every European listed company.

Temasek, GIC and govt can learn from Norway? Pigs will fly first, I suspect.

Update two hrs after publication:

Unlike Temasek, it ain’t big on Chinese banks

Temasek owns big chunks in three out of four China’s major banks

– 2% of Bank of China

– 8% of China Construction Bank

8% of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China,

Temasek has accumulated more than [US]$17 billion of holdings in Beijing-based ICBC, China Construction Bank Corp. (939) and Bank of China Ltd. over the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Global firms including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp. have divested holdings as new capital rules known as Basel III make it more expensive to hold minority stakes in banks. (Bloomberg few days ago)

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/time-to-worry-about-temaseks-strategy-on-chinese-banks/

BTW

Temasek has stakes in three out of the four biggest Chinese banks. It therefore has stakes in the world’s largest, fifth and 9th largest banks. It doesn’t have a stake in Agriculutural Bank, the 10th largest.

PM, Lionsxii are sending a message

In Footie on 14/07/2013 at 6:42 am

S’poreans working together can win regionally without having FTs where the “T” stands for “Talent”. Of course having “talents” from elsewhere helps.

And bringing in FTs where the “T” stands for “Trash” like Lee Bee Wah and Fool Me doesn’t do S’pore, let alone the PAP, any gd.

And for me (and I suspect many other patriots) winning int’l trophies with foreign ping-pong gladiators who then retire in Beijing don’t make me that proud to be a S’porean. The wins remind me that there are other richer nations out there with more money to spend on even more prestigious trophies in sports that have a wider global following.

Will Tai do a Yaw? Cut & run?

In Political governance on 14/07/2013 at 5:22 am

This is speculation but speculation based on what worked before for Low, the man of Tao, who is non-confrontational: like water.

As Cze, me, and, now tua kee blogger, Alex Au have point out, Tai Vie Shun has some questions to answer, but he never did.

And never will if Low’s statement of Saturday evening is the final word: taz it’s for public to decide. This followed PM’s latest comments (even TRE says he has many supporters) on the issue.

Might Tai leave S’pore? In effect doing a Yaw?

Low could come out to say, “We were investigating privately, we are not detectives,. But he left S’pore so we can’t do anything,”

Let’s see. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that Low will “fix” things. As someone steeped in Tao, things will juz happen, to his advantage.

If Tai does a Yaw, I sure the usual suspects will praise Low like they did when Yaw skipped town, saying nothing about his sex life https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/lol-expelling-yaw-took-courage/.

Finally, if no-one blogs on why the PM is taking such a hard line, other than he has evidence that can stand up in court behind him, I’ll have to blog on why Auntie’s attack on a govt agency without evidence that could stand up in the court of public opinion was dumb. Whoever originated the ST article that got PritamS all upset, deserves a million-dollar bonus.

If only Auntie and her man were men steeped in Tao, the PAP would have had to move on. Happily for them, only Low is a man of Tao.

Related post

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/yawgate-only-lau-wang-lin-comes-out-with-credit/

Why young S’poreans should be sent to Yangon

In Logistics, Political governance on 13/07/2013 at 10:57 am

“Still, if the Workers Party can’t get its act together over cleaning hawker centres how can it ever hope to run a $trillion country? :lol:,” Auntielucia. She is right. Actually, it’s worse than this or what PM is alleging. It is really very stupid to accuse a govt agency of being “political” without evidence that can hold up in the court of public opinion. Might blog on this if no other blogger raises the issue.

Anyway, I’m sure she would agree with me that S’pore would become like Burma under incompetent government.

A WALK AROUND battered, ramshackle Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and former capital, quickly makes it clear how far the country has fallen behind the rest of Asia over the past half-century. In large part the place is but a ghostly reminder of former glories. Under British colonial rule, before independence in 1948, Rangoon (as it was then) was a thriving, cosmopolitan entrepot, the capital of Burma, one of the region’s wealthiest countries. All that came to an abrupt end in 1962 after a junta of army officers, led by the brutal General Ne Win, seized power and launched the country on the quasi-Marxist “Burmese Way to Socialism”. Private foreign-owned businesses were nationalised, prompting the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, many of Indian origin. (From the Economist, a few weeks ago)

The govt should pay to send kids there during the hols. Make it the PAP as the usual suspects would shout “politics”, and rightly so.

No Asean-round up this week. But readers might find this interesting http://www.economist.com/node/21581660. It’s about the building of a highway across the Kra Isthmus that shippers can use to by-pass the Malacca Straits.

Related post

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/implications-for-spores-port-as-burma-opens-up/

Time to buy emerging mkts?

In Emerging markets on 12/07/2013 at 5:45 pm

Not yet according to JPMorgan

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/wealth/others/there-cyclical-case-emerging-markets-equities-20130706

“Constructive” & “”clean” politics”: Err what about BG Yeo, & VivianB, Sim Ann & team?

In Political governance on 12/07/2013 at 4:55 am

To continue to attract good people, Singapore needs to have politics that are “constructive” and “clean”, PM said recently. “You can be criticised personally … but what goes on on the Web, all sorts of nasty stuff … it has a real impact on families,” Mr Lee said.

Right, we have to have the “right” politics, juz like S’poreans must be told the “right’ facts.

So it was clean, constructive politics when BG Yeo tried to cast doubts on Chen Show Mao’s interest in serving S’pore. BG Yeo said he (Show Mao) had been away for so long, and it was intriguing that only now (2011) he wanted to serve S’poreans. Funnily, it was George Yeo who left politics and took up posts in HK when he lost in Aljunied. Service? What service?

What about this where VivianB, Sim Ann and others outed a SDP candidate in a particularly vicious manner? http://siewkumhong.blogspot.sg/2011/04/disgust-and-loathing-in-singapore.html

Is it “clean” politics to sneer at the needy, elderly poor? As someone on Facebook posted, “Says he who denied Lily Neo’s request for $1 more a day for those on subsistence living. I guess that was not taking advantage of honest people. Oh and clean politics of course.” BTW, whatever it is, it sure is politics the PAP way: taz the common perception. The PAP govt can continue throwing more of our money at us, but with ministers like this, the Opposition doesn’t need friends.

Is it “clean”, “constructive” politics to talk of  taking time off to “fix” the opposition, instead of governing S’pore for the benefit of all S’poreanns? Remember PM’s speech at during GE2006 campaign?

And is it “clean”, “constructive” politics for George Yeo to attack the PAP to save his own skin?

Penultimately, in case anyone is wondering, I don’t think it was “dirty” politics for VivianB to savage Auntie and her man, or for Yaacob to rough up P* Ravi. Those who live by the sword like Auntie, PritamS and P Ravi must accept that they can kanna cut or die too. Fair is fair. Cannot expect to use keyboard or mouth to attack others, and not not expect others to respond. And they should remember that bullies in real life often don’t back off but instead respond disproportionately**.

These were gd “clean” politics.

Coming back to PM. With him as an enemy, the Opposition doesn’t need friends. Was there a need for him to talk of the “right” politics. No there wasn’t. He could have talked of how he spends his salary, or hope to cope with an aging parent. Instead, he chose to highlight a PAP trait, that it is not even bothering to hide or PR away, let alone change: play very rough and unsportingly..

*BTW the “P” stands for Philemon, not “Political” or “Politician”.

**Actually, I think they responded proportionately, but then in my younger days I threw telephones, and cups and saucers at those that got me angry. Fortunately for me, in those days that was acceptable behaviour.

PC sales see ‘longest decline’ in history

In Economy, Malaysia on 11/07/2013 at 5:43 pm

Not gd for economy of S’pore and M’sia which are part of the PC ecosystem https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/1-5-gdp-growth-this-yr/

Global personal computer (PC) sales have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, making it the “longest duration of decline” in history.

Worldwide PC shipments totalled 76 million units in the second quarter, a 10.9% drop from a year earlier, according to research firm Gartner.

PC sales have been hurt in recent years by the growing popularity of tablets.

Gartner said the introduction of low-cost tablets had further hurt PC sales, especially in emerging economies.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23251285

Added on 18th October 2013: Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/missed-smartphone-boom-planners-thinking-about-2025/

 

The deafening silence of Tai Vie Shun

In Political governance, Public Administration on 11/07/2013 at 4:44 am

Low says he stands by Auntie and her vice chairman, and the WP report clearing them.He has to would say that, wouldn’t he?. after VivianB’s savaging of (at least he stopped picking on the elderly, needy poor, a SDP gay, the and Indonesian govt). In cyberspace the usual suspects are rushing to their defence. Sadly, most of the stuff is of the “WP right, VivianB is a lying bastard” variety. Seems that the usual suspects have nothing substantive to say in defence of Auntie and her man*. They are reduced to replaying the video of the exchange, frame by frame, adding their spin.

To be fair, they can’t be blamed when she says convoluted lawyerly stuff like:

— “This quotation was requested by the market association and does not coincide with their annual obligation to clean the high areas under the town council contract. Does the minister not agree that in this quotation, nowhere is the town council implicated?”

— “Minister, it is still the consistent position of our town council that Mr Tai at no time said that the hawkers had to pay extra to fulfill the town council’s annual obligation** to clean the high areas. At no time was this said, I don’t think these documents show it either.”

— “[T]he letter evidently shows MP Faisal’s awareness that it was not the policy of AHPETC not to clean the high areas of the market during annual cleaning, nor to collect any additional charges from the hawkers; otherwise, MP Faisal would not have written to AHPETC to look into Mr Chan Kheng Heng’s claim.”

How to help leh?

I had blogged in mid June “And this is the dog that didn’t bark, The WP TC’s property manager was aware of everything going on – he was CC-ed in emails and forwarded quotations. How could it have escaped him that everyone was pulling in different directions and essentially working against each other? Insidious or sloppy?

‘Auntie and PritamS have never explained his silence, or allowed him to speak to the public.”

Their failure has caught up with them.

And I’m surprised to learn that Low had yet to speak to Tai. Another Stag Yaw situation? Low doesn’t want to hear an inconvenient, hard truth?

I don’t expect Auntie and her friend to sue VivianB to show they are not lying; too short to respond to him in that childish way.Let him bawl in his play pen. (BTW, can you imagine him and that other rich snooty kid, s/o JBJ, in the same play pen in the same creche?)

I juz want to hear from Tai Vie Shun, the property manager. Did he ask the hawkers to pay for the scaffolding? Any scaffolding?

If he says, he didn’t, is he willing to swear a statutory declaration to that effect**?

And if he admits that he asked the hawkers to pay for scaffolding (any scaffolding),did he think he was doing it in accordance with the town council’s guidelines?

And did he inform Auntie and PritamS about his request. And if he did, when did he inform them?

Why is it so difficult to get Tai to speak publicly on these issues, Low?

Finally, bloggers, pls note that the minister’s version of events is consistent with that of the hawkers (actually it’s based on their version). Are they saying the hawkers are wrong or lying?

The PAP isn’t going to let this issue drop, so bloggers had better get more creative in their response, if Tai doesn’t open his mouth, which I don’t think he will.

[Last two para added after hr hour first posting.]

*No not defamatory as there were several other Indians working hard in Aljunied, all trying hard to be the WP Indian candidate. Singh got it ’cause Auntie mentored him. It has been alleged that he made it clear that if he wasn’t chosen to stand in Aljunied, he wouldn’t stand elsewhere and would cut the time he spent on WP activities.

**Is it WP’s position that if the ceilings are cleaned more than once a yr, the hawkers have to pay? Waz the position in PAP areas?  My PAPpy connections say the PAP town councils pay for all ceiling cleaning, and they are cleaned more than once a year. I pointed out that they charge more, a lot more.

***Then it would be in VivianB’s court to prove that he is lying.

Where S’pore is not first world: not reported in MSM

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 10/07/2013 at 5:18 am

S’pore is richer (per capita) than Japan. Yet as this chart from the Economist shows, its welfare spending is below that of Japan, and is clustered with Thailand and China, with only Indonesia worse-off. Korea is slightly better than S’pore but the president there has promised massive welfare spending. S’pore has not made such a promise.

We should be aiming to be clustered withJapan. And as Temasek’s recent results help show, we got the money. Prosperous Japan is the only country that protects its people both well and widely, according to the index. In Singapore, now richer than Japan, social protection is spread broadly but thinly, the index shows.

For the geeks:The Asian Development Bank’s newly published social-protection index shows both the breadth of coverage (the percentage of potential beneficiaries actually covered) and the depth (the amount of spending per beneficiary, expressed as a percentage of the country’s GDP per person).

PAP’s “right” politics defined

In Economy, Humour, Political governance on 09/07/2013 at 5:48 am

When TRE republished this (where I pointed out PM did not define what he meant by the “right” politics, Orang Miskin posted:

 The PAP’s definition of “right” politics:

 • Always be ready to fix the opposition

• Avoid meaningful debates, stage wayangs to fool voters

• Appoint yes-men into Parliament

• Surround yourself with sycophants, cronies and overpaid army “generals” and “admirals”

• Occasionally whack some young people to teach others a lesson, to silence or intimidate them

• Hide statistics/information from the people

• Surreptitiously flood the country with foreigners without authorisation from voters

• Abdicate state responsibility for taking care of the poor and elderly

• Let males become MPs who have not served NS

BTW, based on his other postings, I think OM is a retired SPH journalist from the old days. Glad to see another imperial storm trooper (keyboard regiment) from the Dark Side becoming Jedi, even if he is anon Jedi.

Another post read

PAP is very bad politics:

July 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm (Quote)

Under LHL PAP is (very) bad politics. Want proof? See below.

(1) low productivity of Singapore economy

(2) low birth rate which started from LKY’s “Stop at 2” policy

(3) depressed local wages

(4) failing to plan for the many foreigners it allowed into Singapore

(5) shortage, “shrinking” and high cost of public housing

(6) shortage of public buses and MRT trains

(7) shortage of hospitals, doctors and nursing homes

(8) shortage of teachers and places in schools for Singaporeans

(9) gave foreigners a big advantage over Singaporeans in job market

(10) shortage of jobs for Singaporeans

(11) foreigners taking jobs away from Singaporeans

(12) frequent breakdowns of MRT trains

(13) overcrowded public transport (buses and MRT trains)

(14) bailout of public transport (failed privatisation)

(15) frequent 50-year “ponding”

(16) high cost of public housing (price doubled over the last 5 years)

(17) high inflation (Singapore now most expensive Asian city)

(18) high cost of education and healthcare

(19) high cost of electricity (failed privatisation)

(20) poor air quality as per WHO Air Quality Guidelines

(21) depleted CPF accounts after buying “affordable” HDB flats

(22) many CPF accounts below CPF Minimum Sum

(23) massive (billions) losses of taxpayers’ money by Temasek / GIC

(24) wasteful purchases by Government agencies like NParks

(25) made Singapore a “tuition nation”

(26) wages lagging behind increase in the cost of housing, education, healthcare and transport

(27) failing to provide Singaporeans with Swiss Standard of Living as promised by PAP

(28) NSF still dying during training

(29) AIM scandal showed PAP corruption

(30) PAP censoring social media and Internet

(31) PAP manipulating PSI reading to report lower readings

Actually, this poster should have said these were “wrong” policies.

And finally, this chap should start a petition to get TRE to stop republishing me:

Cynical investor = PAP:

July 6, 2013 at 11:30 pm (Quote)

Cynical investor is likely a PAP running dog. But a careful one as he/she plays both sides but leaning towards pro-PAP. That way, he will not be dismissed as a member of PAP internet brigade. We should be cynical with him/her.

Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)

He and the likers must be among those who think that voting for Dr Tan was voting for the PAP. They may even think a vote for TKL was voting for the PAP. Only voting for TJS (and Dr Chee) would satisfy them. They are members of the “PAP are always wrong, even if they are right” platoon.

BTW, the first one got a rating of 10 out of 10, and the second 12 out of 12.

Why I’m not selling my Reits yet

In Financial competency, Property, Reits on 08/07/2013 at 5:14 am

I’ve been long Reits since 2008.

Despite the recent turbulence, I’m still not a seller because the global economy (and S’pore’s) faces four potential outcomes: a return to healthy growth (in which case Reit incomes should rise); a low-growth, low-inflation period in the doldrums (in which case the income appeal of Reits should help); a return of rapid inflation (as a real asset, property should offer some protection and Reits offer property and leverage); or a deflationary slump. Only in the last case would property suffer. Three-out-of-four sounds good odd for any racing man. And the last in S’pore is impossible to imagine. Easier to imagine a S’pore where the PAP doesn’t form the govt.

As to whether I’m a buyer https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/s-reits-why-stay-away/. Look at dividend yielding stocks.

BTW, since https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/bad-timing-st-article-on-reits/, I’ve been told the Reits index is down about 14%.

BTW2: Still looking at Comfort Delgro. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/when-raising-fares-sbs-smrt-govt-dont-have-this-problem/ explains why it looks interesting.

PM, right policies, not right politics

In Political governance on 06/07/2013 at 11:14 am

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said for economic growth to sustain, what’s important is getting the politics right … “It starts with politics because if your politics is wrong, then your economics is bound to go wrong. And the reason why so many countries cannot get the economies right is because if the politics don’t work, the benefits don’t get spread to the right people or broadly enough, or there are vested interests which have to be taken care of, or there’s some divide in the society which cannot be bridged, and you spend your time fighting over that, rather than working together productively. (CNA)

Funny that reading the various reports and the text of his speech, I can’t find his definition of “right”politics”, let alone what he means by “politics”.

As this letter to TRE points out, it’s the right policies that matter because “We’re not anti-Govt, just anti-Govt policies”. Of course the writer is exaggerating: there are some S’poreans, particularly in the new media and readers of TRE, who will always oppose any govt policy, “politicising” everything. Some of them are juz kay pohs, some frus that the PAP hasn’t recognised their talents, and some are opportunists.

But at least 35% of S’poreans (those who voted for Dr Tan Cheng Bock, self-included) are not “anti-govt”, juz opposed to some policies (like liberal immigration policies, allowing the children of “new citizens and PRs to avoid NS etc etc)  And I’m sure there are those among the 25% who voted for Tan Jee Say who don’t agree with Mad Dog Chee that the PAP is all bad and must be replaced. They juz didn’t like choosing one of two former PAP members*. (As a supporter of Dr Tan, I have to admit that he was part of Team PAP that got most major policies wrong in the 1990s, though I would argue that as MP he had little power, and anyway his heart has always been in the right place,unlike VivianB and Charles Chong.)

So PM, get the the policies “right” and more S’poreans (maybe 15% more) will vote for the PAP. Maybe even WP’s Low, though certainly not Auntie or her Singh.

—-

*Yes, yes, I kinow that TKL was a PAP member.

Asean round-up

In Uncategorized on 06/07/2013 at 6:42 am

Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) is planning to buy a controlling stake in Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya.Japan’s biggest lender has agreed to buy a 75% stake in the Thai bank for up to US$5.6bn.

If the deal goes through (Thai regulatory approval is needed) it would be the biggest purchase in South East Asia by a Japanese bank. The deal would also see General Electric end its investment in Ayudhya, which goes back to 2007 when it bought a 33% stake in the bank.

Attracted by bright growth prospects (more lending to its corporate clients expanding into the region, and tapping the retail market of the new middle class), Japanese financial firms have been expanding in South East Asia.In May, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group’s bought a US$1.5bn stake in Indonesia’s Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional.

China’s Asean infrastructure fund

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid=617206358-18071-7059834598

 

The Real Petition Kings

In Uncategorized on 05/07/2013 at 7:09 am

Remember when our constructive, nation-building ST carried stories about one Tan Kin Lian, calling him the Petition King? He was fighting the good fight for those he tot were “cheated” by the banks who sold investors Minibonds, and DBS HN5, Pinnacle and Jubilee Notes. He helped them salvage something, a great achievement given that the govt and the babks were shouting, “Buyer Beware”.*

Sadly, he then went into politics, and despite not getting the 100,000 signatures asking him to stand as president, the self-styled “People’s Voice” stood and lost his deposit. And deprived S’poreans of giving the PAP govt a tight slap. Its preferred candidate, thanks to him, won by a very, very short nose.

Well this is the real deal. These guys started a petition and a president was ousted: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23131953

The group, whose name means “rebel” in Arabic, claims it has collected more than 22 million signatures for a petition demanding Mr Morsi step down and allow fresh presidential elections to be held.

BTW, the Chinese have updated the tradition petition system that has been in existence for thousands of yrs.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-23141477

Interestingly in S’pore even netizens use petitions http://www.freemyinternet.com/  It is so old-fashioned: as the BBC article points out the Chinese petition system is a continuation of a practice from “imperial times when the emperors would listen to the complaints of common people”.

How S’poreans got shoved

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/what-abt-high-notes-sm-goh/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/helping-retail-investors-the-hk-way-and-the-spore-way/#more-7316

 

Haze: PM, silence is NOT a solution!

In Indonesia, Political governance on 05/07/2013 at 6:20 am

The PM was wrong about the haze returning (conditions are getting better) and S’pore, Indonesia and M’sia have kissed and made up. Sort of. “ASEAN’s foreign ministers have agreed on a process to task officials from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to examine what is happening on the ground and to report to the leaders in managing it … Mr Shanmugam, together with his counterparts from Malaysia and Indonesia, met to discuss the haze issue and to recommend to the grouping ways to tackle the problem.Mr Shanmugam felt it was a very positive development as it gave ASEAN a framework to move ahead on the matter.” (CNA)

So back to the days of the Asean way: keeping quiet, and working behind closed doors (like how WP MPs, according to Auntie, deal with the PAP govt? To be fair WP MPs are starting to get vocal; sadly its PritamS, the loose canoon )

The situation is more like making up until the offending partner in a relationship cheats again. And going by Indonesia’s track record on fighting haze, it’s reasonable conclude that it will try to “smoke” M’sia and S’pore, once we sit down and keep quiet. Remember VivianB shouted, “Rape!”*, while M’sia took tougher but quieter action: it sent a diplomatic note of protest, but made it public that it had sent a protest note.In olden days, this was often a prelude to war.

And countries also said publicly that they would raise the issue at an Asean meeting, thereby making it publicly an Asean issue. (They did, hence the “agreement”.)

Only after this public display of anger, did Indonesia got to work https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/haze-what-raffles-would-have-done/.

Still not convinced Indons officials are dishonest? There is this ST story (http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/asia-report/indonesia/story/spore-funded-efforts-fight-haze-face-challenges-ground-201) on how aid is wasted or offers of help ignored. (Of course, the usual suspects would discount this story, but it ties in with what their ang moh HR and environmental friends are saying.)

Given this track record of mendacity, it is important not to forget what Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Jero Wacik said juz before his boss apologised**.

At the opening of a meeting of senior energy officials from Asean countries in Nusa Dua, Bali  on 24 June, Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Jero Wacik said that both Singapore and Malaysia had made much profit from Indonesia all this while. He said Malaysia had benefited from bilateral cooperation with Indonesia, including electricity imports from Indonesia. Likewise, Singapore had benefited from Indonesia’s gas supply as well as the large number of Indonesian tourists visiting Singapore.

But he seems to have forgotten S’pore and M’sia didn’t get electricity and gas these things for free. Their companies or govts paid cash, much of which found its way into official’ bank accounts (albeit according to the Indon govt in S’pore). As for tourism, Indonesia benefits from our wealthier tourists visiting Indonesia.

He then went on to say Singapore and Malaysia were trying to discredit Indonesia globally when they should help, he added. said, “Let me remind our friends from Malaysia, Singapore, don’t just because of the haze, tell stories to the world.” He said Singapore and Malaysia should “know themselves” (tahu diri) over the haze, accusing both of trying to discredit Indonesia over the haze issue. “It’s called sharing, you go through good times together, don’t make noise to the world when things go bad. It’s just like husband and wife, don’t take your quarrel outside.”

Err didn’t M’sia and S’pore offer to help fight the fires but were told to bugger off? And haven’t both countries been telling Indonesia for years to do something about the yearly haze, and Indonesia promises to do so, anually, despite refusing to ratify a 2002 Asean treaty*** on the issue? And as related above, our offers of help are ignored or our aid wasted.

And despite him saying,“Both countries should sit together to resolve the problem without making a big deal of it to the world.”, one senior official publicly said  that Malaysia and Singapore linked companies were involved in the burning. But two other senior Indonesian officials publicly contradicted him and said that there was no basis for saying this. Indonesia has acknowledged that its officials have been contradicting each other on this point, and that what is needed is a proper investigation. all the companies have also denied publicly the allegations.

He also said that the Indonesian government is doing its utmost to put out the fires. So how come it comes around around as regularly as the monsoons? And what about ratifying the 2002 Asean treaty on fighting haze?

Finally, Indonesian politicians criticised their president for apologising, showing their belief that Indonesia had a right  to smoke its neighbours, juz as it has the right to invade and rule West Papua and East Timor.

So until Indonesia shows it is serious about solving the annual problem that hurts millions of its people, S’pore and M’sia have to be willing to name and shame Indonesia publicly and in int’l forums like Asean meetings, or worse come to the worse at the UN This, it seems, is the modern equivalent of Raffles sending in the army to burn down palaces to teach recalcitrant sultans  to respect the British https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/haze-what-raffles-would-have-done/.

Let’s hope Pinky has found his balls to stand up for S’pore! Silence is not an option!

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/the-haze-and-regime-change/

* In a strongly-worded statement on Facebook he bitched that “no country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans’ health and wellbeing”, Starting to like him despite his sneering at the poor when a pAP MP asked him to spend more on them. while throwing our money at the Kiddie Games.

**My take on the apology

***Only now is the govt taking steps to get it ratified.

Temask is halal, sort of

In Humour, Temasek on 04/07/2013 at 4:43 am
Jeffrey Fang, associate director of corporate affairs for Temasek, in response to a query from BT in early June*, said: “As a matter of policy, we do not invest directly in casinos or tobacco companies at the Temasek level – this is a deemed interest due to the aggregation of the direct or indirect investment stakes held by the Temasek subsidiaries.”
But a few days later, it was reported in FT that Temasek has a almost 3% stake in Shuanghui International, the Chinese owned entity that is bidding for Smithfields, the world’s biggest pork producer, based in the US.
So two-thirds halal?
—-

* Context Fullerton Fund Management Company (FFMC), a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, has bought a 5.02 per cent stake in Melco Crown Philippines Resorts Corp.

FFMC has acquired 222.2 million Melco shares, according to the company, which is listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Melco is the Philippine unit of Nasdaq-listed Melco Crown Entertainment, which is backed by Lawrence Ho, a relative of Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho.

We did NS to protect this new citizen? WTF!

In Public Administration on 03/07/2013 at 1:53 pm

I was shocked when I read this:

An Indian former FT who prefers international schools is new citizen, Raj, originally from India. During an interview with TOC [Link], Raj revealed that only he in the family has converted to Singapore citizenship. His wife and daughter remain PRs and his son is on a student pass.

Raj said that if his son was a PR, he would need to serve NS. He preferred to “let his son decide if he wanted to put his roots down in Singapore or go back to India when he turns 21″.

The benefit of having his son on a student pass is that his son can always work in Singapore later as a “foreign talent” and eventually become a PR himself. He will not be considered a second-generation PR since he was not sponsored by his parents in the first place. A second-generation PR who gives up his PR is barred from working in Singapore.(http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/07/03/st-report-reveals-indian-fts-prefer-to-send-their-kids-to-international-instead-of-local-schools/)

Why the loop-hole, and why hasn’t it been closed? It must be commonly used for this FT to talk publicly about it, is my guess

Now, I RODed in the 70s,  am a bachelor and I don’t have children, but I’m upset at this loop-hole. Imagine the anguish of a parent whose son died while doing NS if he finds out that its so easy for new citizens and PRs to avoid legally NS?

This loop-hole had better be closed, and fast.

Hopefully some MP will raise this issue in parly especially as most PAP and WP male MPs have done NS. I know Puthu (very proud of the fact it seems based on his own words) and one Malay MP did not do NS. I know that excluding Low, all the Chinese and the sole Indian male MPs have done NS. Not sure about the Malay WP MP.

Related posts: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/when-55-of-voters-were-fts/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/new-citizens-is-the-govt-naive-or-cynical/ (added in October 2013)

Would M’sian PRs be cheering for LionsXII?

In Footie, Political governance on 03/07/2013 at 7:09 am

When it was reported that PM would be attending last night’s match,

— superstitious fans (like me) groaned afraid that he would be siaw for team;

— the usual suspects were bitching that he was trying to tupang the popularity of the team for the PAP.

Well LionXII won in style, and so the former (self included)  were wrong.

As to the usual suspects, I’m sure if he wasn’t present, they would be bitching that he only watches sports where FTs represent S’pore, like ping pong. Either way, they would criticise him because they hate all things PAP, and are not willingly to accept that 60% of voters (a very sizable majority) voted for the PAP. BTW, I voted for the Opposition juz as I have all my life.

Thankfully for S’pore these people don’t have the balls to take action: they are only passive grumblers.

Coming back to PM’s attendance. I’m glad he attended because love of footie (EPL, La Liga, Champs and Europa Leagues, World Cup, National teams’ games and street games) is something that most S’poreans share: the money rows between SingTel and Starhub show this. He may not love (or even like footie) footie but by attending he recognises that many of us do, that footie, not ping pong, is our national game.

And he should reflect and repent on his “PAP loves FTs” policy*. Many yrs ago, his dad complained bitterly that when S’pore met China in basketball in S’pore, S’porean Chinese were cheering for China. Well I want to ask PM, “If PRs** from M’sia were attending, who would they vote cheer for?” Certainly not for LionsXII.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/when-55-of-voters-were-fts/

He cannot have a “FT rules OK” policy, while building a national identity. Something has to give.

*I’m not convinced that the govt is sincere in its promise to cut back its “Operation FTs swamp S’pore”. I’m sceptical.

**Most PRs are M’sian Chinese. They are not happy with being second class citizens in M’sia but refuse to became S’porean citizens. Remember the M’sian that was the first “S’porean” to climb Mount Everest? He did become a citizen, but very reluctantly it has been alleged..

LionsXII: Park three buses

In Footie on 02/07/2013 at 7:01 am

Remember that a great Arsenal mgr once said, “Strikers win games, defenders win trophies”. No not that wanker Wenger.

BTW, Sundram although you are a gd coach, pls don’t talk cock. Based on last yr’s results, LionsXII were contenders for trophies this season. And no-one ever tot team was cock, though S’poreans were concerned FAS would let FTs sabo the team. Didn’t happen. Glad that “S” in FAS stands for “S’pore” not “Serbia”.

LionsXII! The real Lions!

Time to worry about Temasek’s strategy on Chinese banks

In Banks, China, Temasek on 02/07/2013 at 5:07 am

Temasek owns big chunks in three out of four China’s major banks

— 2% of Bank of China

— 8% of China Construction Bank

8% of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China,

Temasek has accumulated more than [US]$17 billion of holdings in Beijing-based ICBC, China Construction Bank Corp. (939) and Bank of China Ltd. over the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Global firms including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp. have divested holdings as new capital rules known as Basel III make it more expensive to hold minority stakes in banks. (Bloomberg few days ago)

S’poreans have to keep a beady eye on developments in the Chinese economy particularly in the financial sector.

Well things don’t look that rosy:

There is of course a second and much more disturbing possible implication of spiking lending rates in China – which is that the slowdown in credit creation will lead to tumbling asset prices, widespread bankruptcies and the crippling of the banking and wider financial system …

According to a recent and influential report by Fitch, outstanding loans by Chinese banks and shadow financial institutions were equivalent to 200% of GDP at the end of 2012, up from around 125% of GDP in 2008.

 As quantum, domestic business and household debt at two times GDP is high – pretty similar, for example, to a debt burden on the UK private sector which has hobbled our [UK] economy.

 But it is the stunning and unsustainably rapid rate of growth in Chinese credit creation, and who has borrowed the money, that are the main sources of concern.

 Unless China is re-writing financial history, much of that money will have been lent without due care to businesses and individuals, and many of them will never be able to repay much of it.

 As and when that is too conspicuous to ignore, banks and financial institutions will go bust – unless bailed out by central bank and government. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23000323*

Well in the case of the UK, two major banks were effectively nationalised, and the existing shareholders were left with “peanuts”. And UBS and Citi received injections of cash from their central banks in exchange for securities, exchanges that diluted their other shareholders, including GIC.

In 2007/2008, our SWFs’ bot into UBS (GIC), Citi (GIC) and Merrill Lynch (Temasek) in a big way that ST characterised then as showing S’pore was a tua kee investor.

We lost serious money in two of the 30-yr investments by 2009.

— Estimate of Temasek’s losses on ML and Barclays:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/swee-say-said-that-gd-temasek-lost-billions/

— Estimate of GIC’s loss on UBS:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/gic-not-reported-in-st-cna-or-today/

(BTW, Temasek’s 2012 purchase of Credit Suisse mandatory bonds:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/third-time-lucky-temasek/)

Hopefully Superwoman Lina Chiam will raise the issue of Temasek’s strategy doubling up on Chinese banks in parly so that the finance minister’s rebuttal of her concern, will be a matter of public record,  come the next GE.

*And not only ang mohs are worried about China and its financial system: http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/06/28/review-tales-from-chinas-wild-lending-frontier/

Fishfarm in the sky!

In Uncategorized on 01/07/2013 at 6:12 am

Here’s another idea for our City in a Garden

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/urban-agriculture-industrial-sized-rooftop-farm-planned-for-berlin-a-800376.html

Other ideas:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/is-this-singapore-news-and-current-affairs/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/my-spore-a-greeneer-more-pleasant-land/

Why the silence on PM’s latest goof?

In Humour on 01/07/2013 at 5:26 am

(Or “Cyber activists are suicidal? Frus over what?”)

About this time last week, our PM warned that the haze would return “for weeks”. Well since then, conditions are pretty normal for this time of the year. And on Saturday, ST reported NEA as saying the reduction from very high levels of pollution could be due to less fires.

So if one wanted to be mean but factually correct, one could rightly say PM was wrong. And if one wanted to be “P” (political), one could say, “So waz new? He always talking cock”.

(BTW, I owe an apology to the WP town council and the NEA: I had suggested that it didn’t make sense to clean the ceilings at the two hawker cenres because PM said the haze respite was temporary. Guess they knew that PM would be wrong, as usual.)

Seriously, jokes’ aside, why isn’t the “PAP govt is always in the wrong” brigade complaining, especially the “P” ones.

Three reasons: one is that like other S’poreans, they too are relieved, and happy that conditions are back to the usual “moderate” haze for this time of the year.

And maybe, they too are proud that the leaders of this little red dot got the Indons to apologise, and do shumething without returning the so-called ill-gotten gains from Indonesia. Actually this money isn’t ours, Indons still own the money. Convict them in Indon courts, and then can talk about the morality of returning the money.

The third reason is that the more chim and vocal members of “PAP govt is always in the wrong” may be be in shock over two foot shooting (or is it “feet in mouth) accidents, involving three prominent bloggers, in less than five days.

The first was Andrew Loh’s unprovoked rant, full of “dirty” words,against the president of S’pore*. He quickly apologised but one was left wondering why did he get so upset over such a bland, meaningless statement? Because it was bland, meaningless, and late?

The other incident involved minister Shan (the dog and cat lover, weird combi this), Ms Kisten Han and Remy Choo. See here for a good summary (and funny take)  of what happened. To summarise

— Ms Han said in her blog that the minister wanted Mr Choo to convey that Mr Shanmugam would not hesitate to sue those republishing the article; but

— Mr Shanmugam later clarified that this description was inaccurate; then

– in a statement carried on Ms Han’s blog later, Mr Choo said that he was responsible for giving that impression to Miss Han, and that it was incorrect and unfair of him to have done so.

Having read both Remy Choo’s FB comments**, if anyone had to apologise it should not be him. It shld be Ms Kisten Han for rushing into print with her “chim” tots on the dangers of sharing, when the law is pretty clear on the matter: share libelous stuff at yr peril http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-22652083.

Surely she must have known that said minister would react aggressively, not that I blame him***. She, at least explained, her motivations on her public FB Wall; motivations which I find very emotional. If I were in close regular contact with her, I’d be afraid, very afraid, lest confidences be spilled.Anyway, if Remy is not upset with her, then taz the end of the matter. He is the “damaged” party.If he has political ambitions to become a MP, he can forget it. His apology would be used against him if he stood, and we all know that our political parties are all Kiasus.

(FTR, I had dealings with Kirsten and Remy a few yrs back. They are “Smarter than the average bear”. BTW, wonder what Yogi would think of Barrie the Bear.  A bear that is S’porean, Canadian, Muslim, and Indon-loving?)

As evidence of this reason, that some bloggers are in shock, juz before the Andrew incident, one or two “P” bloggers were hinting that the masks were issued after the need for them had passed.

Whatever, why the sudden bout of foot shooting or mouths in foots is what I want to know? Both incidents were so unnecessary. There needn’t have to be apologies if these three prominent and leading bloggers had tot before they acted. Are the three bloggers are frus about way things are developing here that they make irrational decisions?

Anyway, let’s not get worked up. “Move on”, as the PAPpies like to say.Not much damage except to the gentlemanly Remy Choo.

But let’s try to learn lessons so as not to repeat these “mistakes”. One lesson is that be aware of one’s emotions: remember Yoda tot the Jedi to be unattached to their emotions, while being aware of them. Wonder if Yoda learnt this from the Buddha?

*When I was first shown the post, I tot Andrew Loh was the victim of a hack, or “an honest” tech mistake where a poster’s comment got merged into his post, or “an honest” editorial cock-up (pressed “publish”, instead of “save”. Believe you mean this can happen. I’ve published when I wanted to save, and save when I wanted to publish.)

**On his public FB wall.

*** I’d be even more aggressive. There are “conventions” on such private conversations and the reporting thereof. The most impt of which is “Everything is not attributable” without the permission of the speaker.