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Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page

Sun Tzu & the PAP’s non-use of new media, & the PM

In Internet, Media on 30/09/2013 at 6:36 am

(If you want to read about SunT left out about the Finnish education system scroll to the end)

This extract from a CNA report last Friday reminded me of an email exchange I had with a new media big cat (not ‘fat” cat) sometime back: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has addressed some key themes arising from the “Ask the PM” live forum on Channel NewsAsia which took place on Tuesday.

In a posting on his Facebook page on Thursday, he thanked viewers for their questions and comments, but said there were too many questions for him to answer individually.

He addressed key themes including education and housing.

I had suggested how the PAP should have reacted to P Ravi: Instead of using his skin to beat the RAVII DRUMS, it should have used Facebook, the medium he was accused of playing the DRUMS on.

A new media big cat (not “fat cat”) pointed out (his comments slighly edited)

MIW cannot stoop to the same level as the others by responding on fb. It’s typical for anyone to bring the battle to their own familiar turf or battleground. u dun fight in “enemy” territory which limits yr own exposure and not forgetting that the “enemy” territory r flanked by “enemy’s” supporters and so u won’t be able to have the last say.

He quoted Sun Tzu’s “The art of War”, a book that the Chinese generals still swear by and quote. I will not be surprised if the PAP too refers to Sun Tzu when in doubt (PM was from Catholic High and the book is a classic alongside the Analects and the Tao). I too used to be a fan of Sun Tzu (How to win without fighting sounds pretty attractive) until an ang moh by the name of Edward Luttwak (he would have been a strategist during the period of the Three Kingdoms or the Warring States) wrote recently a book on Chinese strategy, and pointed out waz wrong with Sun Tzu’s precepts.

Coming in for criticism by name is Sun Tzu, whose writings of 2,500 years ago, including “The Art of War“, are the main source of what Mr Luttwak calls “the flawed principles of ancient unwisdom”. He grants that the cunning statecraft, stratagems for deception and diplomatic finesse advocated by Sun Tzu may have worked when used by one warring Chinese state against another. But he argues that these doctrines have served China poorly in fending off other adversaries.

With a quick pass through the history of China’s engagement with Jurchens, Khitans, Mongols, Manchus and other Asiatic nomads, he notes that China has been ruled by Hans, its ethnic majority, for only about a third of the past millennium. “While Han generals in charge of large armies were busy quoting Sun Tzu to each other, relatively small numbers of mounted warriors schooled in the rudely effective strategy and tactics of the steppe outmanoeuvred and defeated their forces,” he writes.

The bit about being thrashed regularly by the nomads is a fact, not a Hard Truth.

So if the PAP continues to ignore new media because it is unfamiliar terrain that Sun Tzu says one shld not fight on, it will continue making unnecessary, avoidable PR fiascoes. But maybe it’s beginning to plan abandoning this Sun Tzu precept by recceing the new media terrain. The people behind the Breakfast Network (highly commended by me) and Independent (it sucks), are retired Imperial Stormtroop generals from the Keyboard corps. They could be juz like the German generals who turned on Hitler when Germany was losing, or be like Benedict Arnold (an American rebel hero who offered to surrender a fortress to the British). Or they could be what Sun Tzu recommends using. Only time will tell.

Onto serious matters. The PAP’s brand and message need to be recast for the age of social media (and. new media) in general) and the PM needs to show boldness and political artistry in grabbing his (and that of the PAP’s) share of attention. He can’t rely on the traditional media to help him grab attention. For starters, traditional media is no longer trusted here, especially  by the young. Then, too, the traditional media’s market share has diminished. And then there are all the competing celebrities on social media like all those cats’ pixs. And then there is vigilantism of websites like Stomp which have large audiences.

The PM has plenty of competition, be it in the mainstream media or new media.

And besides his style sucks in PR terms. As a double first in Maths from Cambridge, he is familiar with the scientific method: specificity, objectivity, and accountability. These are elements lacking in politics, anywhere in the world, let alone in S’pore, a de-facto one party state. They are lacking because politicians don’t need these skills to win elections. But Angela Merkel has shown that one can have the “scientific method” and be personally popular. And are we not the Prussians of the East? (The Prussians were the Germans’ Germans. Now most of what is now Prussia is in Poland.)

And as I will show on Wednesday, he has problems with the substance of hie messages too.

All in all, the PM and the PAP have a long way to go in the use of new media even with the help of BN and the Independent. Us, injuns and outlaws rule the comboy towns and the territory outside the MSM, govt forts.

Finally on a totally different topic, here’s sumething SunT didn’t tell us about the Finnish education system: Angry Birds creator Rovio has brought Angry Birds Playground, a schools initiative devised with the University of Helsinki in Finland, into the kindergarten classroom of children, aimed at six-year-olds.

With the initiative already in use in Finland, Rovio has now entered into an agreement with schools in China.

“With small children, the Finnish approach to education is very much play-orientated,” says Sanna Lukander, vice president of book publishing at Rovio Entertainment.

“These characters and their world seemed to inspire children. You can’t not think about how you might motivate children to do more than play.”

Games have a larger effect on learning than traditional materials”

Prof Constance Steinkuehler Games scholar

BTW, didn’t read the SunT stuff. Friend who read it told me that it didn’t talk about games. I had earlier sent him the above link given his interest in the Finnish way.

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Freight Links loaned $45m to CHC months after issuing bonds

In Corporate governance, Humour on 29/09/2013 at 10:28 am

A sharp-eyed TRE reader wrote to TRE as follows

Straits Times article dated 27 Sep reported on a $45 million new loan taken out by City Harvest Church (CHC).  The loan was not taken from any financial institution but a logistics company listed on the Singapore Exchange called Freight Links Express Holdings (FLEH).

FLEH’s core business is in freight forwarding.  To offer a loan of this size suggests its core business may have changed.  Have shareholders been notified?  At 8 per cent per annum, the interest charged by FLEH is also quite high.  But I guess CHC is desperate and will grab anything that comes along because no financial institution will offer a religious organisation a $45 million loan to purchase properties based on expected future ‘earnings’ from worshippers.
What is interesting is that FLEH had managed to raise $100 million in a Fixed Rate Note issue bearing an interest rate of 4. 6 per cent  just 4 months ago. http://www.freightlinks.net/MediaRelease/Press54.pdf  These IOUs are normally used for general corporate purposes and financing investments related to its core business, certainly not for loans. 
Business wise, it certainly does make sense to be earning 8 per cent while paying only 4.6 per cent without taking any risk.
However, this will set a precedent for every other listed companies on the exchange to stray from their core business.  Should this be allowed by the Singapore Exchange?
 
Phillip Ang
Surprising that our journalists from our “constructive”, nation-building media did not raise this corporate governance issue. Waiting for govt media briefing or telephone call to tell them what to say?
While I’m sure the transaction is perfectly legal, there is the governance issue of whether a logistics provider should become a lender to a church, albeit for a sum which is “peanuts” in the context of its financials. And there is the issue of the bond issue: normally used for general corporate purposes and financing investments related to its core business, certainly not for loans.
Restores my faith in the quality of people who read and post on TRE. Glad to see that not all readers and posters are “PAP are bastards” ranters. Maybe, they moved on to TOC or TRS?

Where use of ISA-type law will be met by silence from the usual human rights kay pohs

In Footie on 28/09/2013 at 1:59 pm

Update on 22 23 October 2013: Minister explains use of Criminal Law Temporary Provision Act (http://au.sports.yahoo.com/football/news/article/-/19491410/football-match-fixing-witnesses-fear-reprisals/).

(Correction: My friends tell me that the ISA will not be used: It will be the Criminal Law Temporary Provision Act. This too allows dention without trial. Used for drug cases too. Sorry, never was gd at criminal law)

The coming deafening silence of the usual human rights kay pohs will tell us a lot of their prejudices: they are supportive of FT drug mules, and middle class anti-PAP activists. But not working class criminal suspects (no-one is complaining that Vui Kong’s alleged drug lord is held under ISA CLTPA) or those whom the govt alleges are Islamic radicals. Touch a FT or a middle class anti-PAP activist, and the screams will be deafening, even if it’s juz a policeman paying a home visit.

Dan Tan’s home, even his car (a BMW 735) were well known to the authorities, but until they had evidence that a crime had been committed on Singaporean soil the police were powerless to act.

In the wake of the Italian reports, the Singaporeans made requests to police forces in Italy, Hungary, Germany and Finland to share what evidence they had. But cross border co-operation between prosecutors proved painfully slow.

It took months and in some cases more than a year for documents to be shared while approaches to speak to key witnesses have still, in some cases, gone unanswered.

All that time Singapore’s detractors sharpened their knives. The apparent inaction was criticised, with some even suggesting a high-level conspiracy to protect the alleged master match-fixer living in their midst.

Those with knowledge of the investigation say the truth is more mundane. It has simply proved very difficult to find those brave enough to testify against Dan Tan and his powerful syndicate.

The defecting members of the syndicate are too scared to testify in person so the police are hoping to use draconian security laws from the 1950s to keep the suspects in custody.

In the next few weeks all the evidence that has been gathered against the syndicate will be presented behind closed doors to the Ministry of Home Affairs and then an advisory council, before a final decision is made by the president.

If all agree that the suspects should remain under “preventive detention”, then Dan Tan and his associates could be held for years without ever having the evidence tested in a court of law.

Under huge pressure to act, the Singaporeans say they’ve now “cut the head off the snake”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24238681

Another case of ang moh tua kee. Can our Home Team be blamed when our human rights activists adopt the prejudices of their ang how mentors?

Phew, Asean can relax a little, but not too much

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 28/09/2013 at 6:59 am

The Fed’s decision to delay unwinding its $85-billion-a-month money-printing programme eases the pressure on the two Asian countries with the biggest dollar addiction – India and Indonesia – to cure their habit by squeezing domestic demand. Investors reacted accordingly: the Indonesian Rupiah jumped 1.9 percent against the dollar on the morning of Sept. 19, while Jakarta stocks rose 5 percent.

… Asian countries cannot afford to relax. From just before the onset of the global financial crisis, private sector debt has swelled by 73 percentage points of GDP in Hong Kong and 45 percentage points in Singapore. While these small, open economies can arguably live with large swings in capital flows, the credit surge in Malaysia and Thailand is more worrying. The longer the global liquidity glut lasts, the more painful the hangover will be.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/09/19/fed-brings-asia-short-term-relief-long-term-risks/

Burma: Lady’s still sceptical

how sceptical she was about the reform process in Myanmar …

Yet, she pointed out, Myanmar is still not a democracy, and neither at peace, nor under the “rule of law”. She and her party are campaigning to change a constitution which, besides debarring her from the presidency she hopes to assume in 2015, guarantees the army a blocking minority in parliament. She said many members of the government are betting that economic success will enable them to hold back democracy. “How quickly and reliably can mindsets change?” she asked, recalling that Myanmar has had half a century of military dictatorship and just three of tentative reform.

And although ceasefires have been signed in most of the score of ethnic conflicts that have simmered since independence in 1948, a comprehensive peace deal remains a distant dream. She identified this—“national reconciliation”—as the biggest task facing Myanmar.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/09/aung-san-suu-kyi-singapore

UOB Vietnam has launched a unit to advise Vietnamese businesses expanding into Asia.

“Vietnam has prospered from steady economic growth over the last decade and we have seen many of our customers develop from small businesses to companies that are ready to spread their wings to the rest of Asia,” said Thng Tien Tat, executive director of UOB Vietnam.

From the first half of last year to the same period this year, UOB’s business flows between Vietnam and Asia increased 20 per cent. Trade between Vietnam and Asia grew 46.7 per cent to US$150.4 billion from 2010 to 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The new FDI Advisory Unit will give UOB customers expanding in and out of Vietnam access to the bank’s full suite of corporate and personal banking products. BT

Floodwater encircled an industrial estate to the north-east of Bangkok yesterday, adding to fears that Thailand could see a repeat of the devastation caused by floods in 2011, but the estate’s director said the water will not enter the complex.

The 2011 floods killed more than 800 people around the country and caused major disruption to industry, cutting economic growth that year to just 0.1 per cent.

Since Thailand is a big supplier of electronic parts, hard disk drives and car parts, international supply lines were disrupted, too.

The government has insisted there will be no repetition, partly because rain has been less heavy this time but also because dams are nowhere near as full as they were then. BT

A Thai transgender student who protested against having to wear a male uniform could end up in court, it’s reported. BBC report

No worries abt one-yr wait to see renal specialist

In Financial competency, Humour on 27/09/2013 at 5:00 am

I refer to http://mysingaporenews.blogspot.sg/2013/09/medical-appointments-in-world-class.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+MySingaporeNews+%28My+Singapore+News%29 and to http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/09/23/one-year-wait-to-see-specialist-at-sgh/

They are all very angry people because Ms Tay’s hubby has to wait for a year before he can see a kidney specialist.

I know someone who recently was told that he had to go to see a kidney specialist. He was then told by the girl responsible for making an appt that the waiting period was one yr if not longer. He juz shrugged his shoulders.

He was pretty relaxed abt waiting because

— He knew that there is a priority procedure for “siong’ cases. He had benefited from the priority list several yrs ago when a routine check had the doctor concerned about his eyes. He got an appt to see a specialist within weeks. I have had a similar experience.

— He also knew that the polyclinic doctors were monitoring the situation, via tests every time he renewed his medication. The doctor had told him that the dosage of one pill could be increased if necessary.

— The doctor had given him a copy of the results of his test. He was thinking of consulting a private-sector GP that he trusted to ask him what the results meant: is he in clear and imminent danger of dying, as Ms Tay seems to fear for her hubby? He could have also asked one of our mutual doctor friends, but felt piah seh.

— According to my friend, a doctor once told told him that polyclinic doctors knowing the length of the queue do put marginal cases on the waiting list juz to be kia-su: anticipative medicine that should be commended.

— If nec, he would consult a private sector specialist and then return to polyclinic with the results. The worse case would be if he got warded immediately as a private patient because things were that bad.

Be very clear, neither of us are defending the staus quo: one yr’s wait is not right, if one cannot afford to go “private’*. Especially, as there is the Toto element in the system. It is sometimes (very rarely to be fair) possible that if the polyclinic calls to make an appointment, it will be told that someone has juz cancelled and that there is a slot available say in two months. The polyclinic may grab the spot for the patient, and tell the patient that “die, die” got to go.  Conscientious staff do this even though there are consequences for the staff if the patient is daft not to take the lucky opportunity. I have heard that it does happen: daft patients who refuse to take the slot because got “other appointment” like going to beautician, or got golf game.

The system should be changed so that all such cancellations are offered to the next person in the queue. Only fair. Of course, this assumes that the IT system can cope with such changes. It may not be possible with legacy systems.

But, we are saying that she (and presumably hubby) are being too KS, and emotional. They also do not seem to trust the doctors, or the system. We don’t assume that the doctors or the system are out to fix us.

As to the comments of Redbean that a first world system shouldn’t have anyone waiting for one yr, juz google up the topic of waiting lists in the UK’s NHS system, one of the world’s finest. The issue is simple. In healthcare ,the demand is endless, resources are finite. There are two ways to handle the problem, rationing by

— wealth, the American way.

— queuing, the NHS way.

I wish Redbean, and all those TRE readers commenting on Ms Tay’s letter read what Jeremy Lim has to say http://theindependent.sg/what-singapore-did-right-and-wrong-in-health-care/, before they comment adversely on the healthcare system here. He also wrote shumething similar in ST https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/bfb5535d-4859-47f1-beb9-99270276e45f/4133391be0a8092e6d1ac8cdc39ef20b.

Read both articles. Jeremy Lim has his heart in the right place (unlike a certain sneering minister who was a doctor), but knows the practical problems of providing “affordable” healthcare.

Let’s be informed on the topic before opening our mouths. Don’t talk cock on this v. v. impt issue. Don’t use it to express cliched anti-govt or PAP cliches. Even the WP doesn’t.

*We are assuming Ms Tay’s hubbie has financial concerns but can afford to visit a private GP to ask what the test results mean. We are also assuming that they can know a gd GP, by reputation, at least. I hope they are not like a very rich neighbour who uses the public healthcare system but who is always complaining that she never sees the same specialist or GP again: always new one she complains.

It is acceptable if one is cheap-skate, or searching for “value’ person. My friend was an arbitrageur when he worked in the stockbroking industry. He believes that there are always free lunches but one mustn’t be choosy or picky. But he warns to be careful to avoid getting food poisoning. One bad case of food poisoning can wipe out the savings made, unless one goes to a polyclinic for treatment.

Why the rupiah can’t recover

In Indonesia on 26/09/2013 at 5:32 am

Other Asian countries’ currencies are recovering.

The rupiah touched levels around 11,580 against the U.S. dollar Tuesday, its weakest level since April 2009, shedding around 20 percent of its value this year. The declines continued even after the country’s central bank raised rates by 150 basis points since June, including surprise rate hikes in August and September that brought rates to 7.25 percent.

One reason: “Without the depth of liquidity, it’s difficult to know the true price at the moment. I’m really looking for when we do have that liquidity coming back,” he said. “Once that happens, the currency will be better placed to stabilize, though there are still some structural issues that need to be tackled to see an improvement in the medium term outlook.”

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101057430?__source=ft&par=ft

Might want to monitor First Reit or Lippo Malls if bullish on Indonesia. Might have buying opportunities. Same with Ascendas India.

TRE to blame?

In Humour on 25/09/2013 at 5:21 am

The appointment of SMRT’s security chief as its new PR chief* reminded me that In a letter dated 3 September 2013, a TRE reader sent in a complaint about some PRC FTs at a MRT station

They were eating foods such as Biscuits, Cakes, Lychees, Bananas and Apples, taken out from several boxes and plastic bags. The lychees peeled skins were littered on the concrete bench/seat. They were also shouting loudly in a distinct China’s Chinese accent. I also observed that they were loitering; not boarding any trains travelling towards Joo Koon or Woodlands MRT. They were literally having a picnic.

I did not stop them to minimise the possibility of myself getting hurt, as I have read several reports of China nationals attacking Singaporean Police officers. e.g. (source: TR Emeritus)

He complained to the SMRT staff but didn’t know the outcome as he had to catch his train and TRE wrote: Editor’s note: A letter has been sent to SMRT for comments on why the foreigners were not fined on the spot.

Maybe the SMRT person too read TRE’s reports of aggressive PRC behaviour and decided he too didn’t want to get beaten up, juz like the letter writer? There was an incident also reported by TRE about a PRC PR shop assistant who beat up a SMRT officer because the officer had stopped her son for trying to avoid paying.

So maybe TRE should be more careful in highlighting PRCs aggressive behaviour towards S’poreans to avoid unnecessarily frightening S’poreans.

Wonder if SMRT ever replied to TRE?

*Let’s hope this ex-cop improves on this

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/smrt-another-breakdown/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/smrt-is-in-the-biz-of-transporting-people/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/smrt-svp-is-great-believer-in-shareholder-value/

Why rising inequality shows that things are working

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance on 24/09/2013 at 4:52 am

No, not the PAP or one of its running dogs talking; but the Economist (Err OK it is part PAPpy friendly ecosystem https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/sporeans-avoiding-low-paid-jobs-are-not-lazy-or-daft-juz-rational/, on economic and financial matters, though not when it comes to things like human rights, hanging, democracy, drugs, gays and media freedom.)

The regeneration of Manchester regeneration hasn’t benefited the whole population of the city equally. This is certainly true. The authors of the Manchester Independent Economic Review, published in 2009, found that in the first decade of the new millennium, while in absolute terms, every part of the city improved, inequality in the city had actually sharply increased. The richest bits of the city got richer at a much faster pace than the poorest bits.

I’m not sure that is a bad thing however. Even if we accept that growing inequality across the country is a bad thing, in this case, it strikes me as evidence of success. After all, as this Work Foundation report found, the most equal parts of Britain are towns such as Burnley and Sunderland. Those places are not more equal because the money is spread out more fairly. They’re more equal simply because everyone is poor. Manchester’s growing inequality, like London’s, is proof that it has managed to create well-paying jobs for at least a minority of its population.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/blighty/2013/09/manchester

Surprised our constructive, nation-building media, and the Breakfast Network and Independent are not telling us that rising inequality shows things are working. Maybe the media are waiting for media guidance.

But unlike Manchester, S’pore doesn’t have Manchester’s culture life that students find attractive: Cultural life feeds off economic success. After all, Burnley and Sunderland are not known for their great independent record shops and nightclubs. And it doesn’t have too EPL teams. BTW, for MU fans, the explanation for the defeat is simple: Allah and the Pope had the better of Yahweh on Sunday.

On the clubbing scene attracting students, I knew a German gal who chose to study in Manchester because of the nightclubs. She hated the weather though when she got there. BTW, while she was a party animal, she did very well in the IB exams, a perfect score.

Related posts:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/the-pap-govt-has-lost-output-legitimacy-discuss/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/ingratitude-uniquely-sporean-blame-the-internet-not-really/

The PAP govt has lost “output legitimacy”: Discuss

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 23/09/2013 at 5:18 am

The ST has for several weeks been writing about the loss of trust between the people and the govt, and laying the blame on the people (“daft”) who are distracted by the new media’s DRUMS beating the RAVII theme ( OK I exaggerate but juz a little). (BTW, here in a different context, I’ve looked at the role the new media plays: amplification, not distortion of the dissenting, inconvenient voices to the PAP’s narrative which the local media propagandises, while suppressing the former.)

Actually, the loss of trust is due to the PAP govt’s loss of “output legitimacy” since the 1990s.

“Output legitimacy” is the idea that elected leaders make decisions that are unpopular in the short term but will be approved by voters once their success has been demonstrated.  A govt aiming for “output legitimacy” (most govts don’t, but the PAP is an exception) is a bold, self-confident govt because the govt and the politicians need to be proved right by events.  Sadly for S’poreans and the PAP, the record doesn’t look that great for one LHL. He had been DPM, and in charge of economic and financial issues, and the civil service, since the 1990s, until he became PM in 2004.

Yet events have showed that S’poreans are discontented, not happy with the achievements of his govt. The PAP only polled 60% (lowest ever) in the 2011 GE, and three cabinet ministers lost their seats, with the WP winning for the first time ever a GRC. In the subsequent PE, the PAP’s “preferred” candidate and a challenger (ex PAP man too) polled 35% each. The preferred candidate won by a very short nose.

This yr, the PM promised to meet our concerns (housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education) is like that: “Crashed the cars, trains and buses we were on – and then wants us to thank him for pulling us out of the wreckage using our own money, by voting for the PAP”.

— https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/analysing-pms-coming-rally-speech/

— https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/govt-needed-natcon-survey-to-find-these-things-out/

After all S’poreans’ concerns that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education are the result of govt policies

His dad introduced the concept “output legitimacy” to S’pore (although not the term: too highfalutin perhaps?), partly because it suited LKY’s personality (intellectual thuggery, the belief that “leaders lead” and shouldn’t be governed by opinion polls, and micromanaging**), and partly because while S’pore was a leading Asian city in the 50s and 60s (as LKY and PAP haters like to remind us ad nauseum), that wasn’t saying much for most S’poreans: err bit like now, one could reasonably argue. Examples:

— When the PAP came into power in 1959, unemployment was over 10%; and

— in 1960, 126,000 man-hours were lost in strikes as compared to 26,000 in 1959.

Source: book reviewed here

There were then things that had to be done that would upset many people most of the time for a while. But if the policies worked, then the results would be visible. Well, at the very least, the voters were prepared to give LKY and the PAP, over 70% of the popular vote and all the parly seats for over a decade.

The world’s now a bit more complex since then, and S’poreans’ expectations have rightly risen, so whether it is ever possible that the PAP govt can ever recover “output legitimacy” is open to question even if it has the ‘right” people leading it. But at least it’s willing to spend more of our money on making life a more comfortable for ourselves. Maybe that should be its articulated goal, to frame our expectations of its “output legitimacy”.

Maybe the constructive, nation-building media, and new media outlets that believe in constructive criticism, like the Breakfast Network and the Independent*** can help the PAP govt? Better than flogging the dead horses of trust, daft people and that the internet beats DRUMS to the RAVII theme.

*Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications, Insinuations & Insults

**Remind me of the bible verses: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” or “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

***Independent sucks because it got its branding wrong. Name is so traditional media. In fact there is an established UK newspaper by that name.

Names with a whiff of the establishment seem old hat. Chris West, founder of Verbal Identity, specialists in linguistic branding, says that “they appear to be hankering after a debased culture of corporate magnificence”. Consumers think of them as pompous, self-serving, impersonal. The advantage of calling your business Wonga and GiffGaff lies in the rejection of superfluous formality. We perceive them as younger, more in-touch, less “corporate”. As Mr West concludes, “they sound like words we might hear at the pub”.

Then there is the quality of its writing. But that shows up the pedigree of two of its founders.

As for BN, it’s a work-in-progress, and it’s a gd training place for budding journalists: got ex-TOCer who has learnt to write proper, readable English. So I wish it well, even if I’ve heard allegations about its funding. And it has a great name. Spent a lot of cash getting its name right?

Formula E the new F1?/ Why can’t MSM report F1 event like this?

In Uncategorized on 22/09/2013 at 5:05 am

S’pore did the first Kiddie Games and overspent for no apparent gain.

Why not try Formula E?

There will be 10 teams and 20 drivers racing on roads – not racetracks – in 10 cities, with a preliminary line-up that includes Los Angeles, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, London, Buenos Aires and Beijing …

Jean Todt, president of the FIA, called Formula E “a vision of the future”. And this comes from a man who built his reputation in rally car racing and then as head of F1’s most famous competitor, Ferrari.

He told the BBC: “F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing, but there is plenty of space for other championships, from endurance racing to touring car, to karting – and definitely Formula E.”

He rejected claims that Formula E is simply a promotional exercise to improve motorsport’s image.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24053853

OK, we got to divert traffic etc, one more time a yr. But this is new and innovative.

BTW, I enjoyed reading http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/24127798 about how Marina Bay is turned into a race track. Makes me proud to be a S’porean: We are the Prussians of the East.

Why can’t our constructive, nation building media report like this?

Or tell us why the race is so technically challenging for the drivers:

The Marina Bay Street Circuit is the second slowest 23-turn circuit on the calendar after Monaco, with an average speed of 172kph. Approximately 46% of the lap is taken at full throttle, compared with over 75% at Monza.

The twisting layout is hard on the brakes, while the gearboxes also take a beating, with around 80 gear changes per lap.

Drivers will complete 61 laps in the race – in 30C heat and 70% humidity – which takes a little under two hours to complete.

A change to the circuit this year is at turn 10 – dubbed the Singapore Sling. The original layout, a three-turn chicane, was seen as dangerous by drivers with Kimi Raikkonen crashing there in 2008 and Lewis Hamilton describing it as ‘the worst corner in Formula 1’.

This year, it has been turned into a single-apex left-hand bend and, without the chicane, lap times are expected to be lower.

This article told me more interesting facts about the skills needed to finish the course than all the drums coming from our MSM.

M’sians, Pinoys & Indons love F1 S’pore

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 21/09/2013 at 5:02 am

F1 in Singapore … as in the past five races, the proportion of foreign fans hovers around the 40 per cent mark. It was highest at the inaugural race in 2008, with visitors buying 41.7 per cent of the 100,000 tickets, but dipped to 39.2 per cent in 2010 on 81,350 tickets.

 Last year, it was 40.9 per cent of the total 84,317 tickets sold … according to race promoter Singapore GP, the top 10 countries are (in no particular order): Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Germany, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the United States and Taiwan. (BT report on Wednesday)

Other Asean round-up news

Gambling revenues round Asia compared

Way of presentation is v.v gd.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/09/daily-chart-5

Thank us ethnic slitt-eyes, who gamble on anything

In January 2011 the Chinese city of Tianjin opened an “art exchange” in which artworks’ ownership is divided into tradable shares. Demand was enormous: Chinese households have limited investment options for their savings. Within a year more than 50,000 investors had bought shares in less than two dozen artworks. At least 34 similar art exchanges cropped up elsewhere in China, says Zhao Li, a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, a state school in Beijing.

But frenzied trading on the new exchanges soon turned the market frothy. Tianjin’s exchange halted trading on two paintings after their values multiplied seventeenfold in less than three months; other exchanges have also limited trading. To protect investors, the central government has drawn up regulations that have stifled activity. “We have to be careful not to cause trouble,” says Chen Zongsheng, a city official behind the Tiajin exchange.

Meanwhile an ang moh exchange folds.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2013/06/investing-art

Shld the govt get the credit for fixing the problems that Hard Truths caused? Discuss

In Political governance on 20/09/2013 at 5:31 am

Recently George Osborne (UK’s finance minister) was trumpeting the UK’s economy ecovery, saying it was because of govt measures.

David Blanchflower – a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee – and a long-time critic of the chancellor told the Mirror that Mr Osborne is “the guy who crashed your car – and then wants you to thank him for having the wreck towed home”.

One could similarly reasonably argue that PM’s promise to meet our concerns (housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education) is like that: “Crashed the cars, trains and buses we were on – and then wants us to thank him for pulling us out of the wreckage using our own money, by voting for the PAP”.

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/analysing-pms-coming-rally-speech/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/govt-needed-natcon-survey-to-find-these-things-out/

After all S’poreans concerns that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education are the result of govt policies

As one person on TRE put it: 

The damages are all too embedded and beyond corrections.
How to bring down prices of COEs and Housing drastically.
How to eject the huge influx of FT arrivals over the years.

Unimaginable consequences are set in motion to erupt like
a volcano in the day of reckoning.
What if….in the event of a meltdown, severe drought, heavy
flooding and etc..etc – total Chaos

If the policies and road maps are not substaintable, we simply
self-destruct should catastrophes strike. Don’t think so ??

Of course, I’m being unfair. After all ang mohs tell us the gd side of the S’pore way, PAP style

— overall: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/jeremy-warner/10293503/Singapore-safe-haven-model-society.html.

— healthcare: http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/09/05/prof-tyler-cowen-on-spores-healthcare-system/

And even I have said that many of the shortcomings that we face are problems that arise from the success of the past that many have contributed too, including the PAP. No not linking as I doubt many would click it: it’s against the netizens’ conventional narrative that the “PAP got everything wrong”.

The govt has to bear its share of the problems, not juz bask in ang moh’s praise of LKY (which in this case, I largely concur with) http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/09/singapore-s-elder-statesman. Where I disagree is that LKY is pragmatic: he once was, but since the 1990s, he has been fixated with his Hatd Truths, which he believes are eternal truths. They are not, and the younger LKY would have recognised that instead of being fixated with them.

Have a gd weekend.

NS and the welfare state: two sides of the same coin in the first world,

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 19/09/2013 at 4:55 am

including Switzerland and Israel

S’poreans are rightly asking why they should do NS to defend two-timers like new citizen Raj who openly boasted on how his son will avoid NS, while still getting his PR status. (Related post on two-timer Raj)

In return, the govt has been moaning that S’poreans no longer believe in the value of NS. It tries to make NS more “valuable” for us via gimmicks rather than hard cash (“Money talks, BS walks”) and addressing the the issue of defending someone like new citizen Raj and his family.

Apart from addressing the issue of defending people like new citizen Raj and his son, methinks the ministers and ESM should reach for a 6th September article in FT (behind a pay-wall). It is an opinion written by Mark Mazower, professor of history at Columbia University and author of ‘Governing the World”. It is entitled, “The west needs a replacement for the warrior spirit”.

Cutting to the chase, I quote the following:

The late Charles Tilly demonstrated in a series of brilliant sociological studies the extent to which warfare and welfare have historically been tightly connected. Rulers who wanted citizens to fight learnt the hard way that they had to give them something more concrete and appealing to fight for than the privilege of dying in their name. That is why the advent of mass conscript armies, unified around allegiance to the nation, coincided with the dramatic 20th-century transformation in the nature of the state and the swift post-1945 expansion of social rights in the shape of public housing, healthcare and schooling.

During the two world wars, military service resulted in the percentage of the population in uniform in the UK and the US approaching an extraordinary 10 per cent. This kind of warfare accustomed entire societies to new egalitarian norms and demonstrated the indispensability of the state itself as mediator in industrial relations, and as economic strategist and planner. The lessons were learnt and applied after the war as well, underpinning much of the west’s managed capitalism in the years of the post-1945 economic boom.

Get it PAP govt? NS and the welfare state go together. Israel and Switzerland, countries still with NS, have gd welfare systems, BTW.

Maybe, since the PAP doesn’t want a welfare state, scrape NS? Has the additional benefit to the PAP of getting rid of the issue of us defending new citizen Raj and his family. We might be willing to be more amenable to more two-timing new citizens, like Raj.

Get it PAP govt?

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/where-ns-leads-to-successful-high-tech-start-ups/


Oppressed to Oppressor: Pastor Khong describes Christianity’s evolution, not the gays’ agenda

In Humour on 18/09/2013 at 5:17 am

I was chuckling over an old favourite, “Terry Jones’ Barbarians: An Alternative Roman History”came across on FB a few weeks ago.  After some searching, I found the piece.

TOC reported on FB: Pastor Lawrence Khong, on why he disagrees with repealing s377A:

“They first ask for tolerance. Tolerance means: Don’t bully me, don’t make me a criminal. The minute you take that away, they will ask for acceptance, in the form of gay marriage. And then, before long, they will go for celebration of the lifestyle. I’m talking about the gay pride days all around the world. Then the next thing you know, they will persecute those who disagree with them, by labeling those disagreements as hate speech. We have seen that path. Singapore does not need to go that way. I do not believe this is good for any society. And I will stand firm because I love my nation very much.”

Edward Gibbon and many other reputable historians (Christians among them), and Terry Jones (film director, comic and writer with a deep knowledge of medieval European history) would agree that this as a pretty accurate description of how a form of Christianity became the dominant, intolerant religion of a declining Roman empire.

Christianity was one of the many religions in the early days of the Roman empire. However, aggressive, loud-mouth, intolerant leaders gave the religion a bad name because of the perceived intolerance of Christians towards other religions and a hedonistic life-style (that included acceptance of gays group sex, chariot racing and other equestrian sports, single mums, and heavy drinking). Roman emperors (good and bad) fed them to the lions, crucified them, or, more usually, threw them into prison for breaking the law. Christians had a reputation of rioting and smashing the idols of other religions. Juz read the Roman historians of the time: gd conservative, sober men, not into anal sex or homosexuality or other aspects of a hedonistic life-style. Some of these historians were the presiding magistrates who threw Christians into jail for intolerant and aggressive behaviour.

The moderate Christians (not wanting to die for the actions of these zealots) asked for tolerance. Tolerance means: Don’t bully me, don’t make me a criminal.

It worked as Christians were increasingly seen as respectable, if looney, folks. It appealed to the wives of the Roman elite because Christianity discouraged anal sex (in fact all sex except to produce new souls), marital infidelity, heavy partying and throwing money on pursuits like equestrian sports. It believed in the frugal life, a throw-back to the empire-builders. Keeping the zealots under control also helped because the complaints from devotees of other religions ceased: their temples were no longer being attacked by the zealots.

Then, Christianity was credited for Constantine becoming emperor: God apparently told him that if his soldiers carried Christian signs on their shields and standards, they would defeat his enemies. He made Christianity the official religion of the empire, but practiced the usual Roman tolerance towards all religions that didn’t try to subvert the empire.

Then the intolerant, aggressive Christian leaders appeared again out of the woodwork, and Then the next thing you know, they … persecute those who disagree with them, by labeling those disagreements as hate speech. The laws against blasphemy were the Roman equivalent of the laws against hate speech.

This happened when a form of Christianity, Catholicism, became the official religion of the by then declining Roman empire. Other Christian groups like the Arians, and all other religions were persecuted by the Catholic Church.

So Khong is right when he said We have seen that path.

Christianity did it first. So if the gays do it to the likes of Khong, it’s divine retribution neh?

For the record, while Khong has the courage to rant about 377A* (where he is on the same side as the govt), he is as silent as a church mouse on abortion and Islam. In the US, people like him oppose gay tolerance, abortion, and Islam publicly and loudly. He only opposes the one issue that will not him get into trouble with the govt. Wonder why? Maybe he supports abortion and believes in being nice to Muslims, unlike his brethren in the US?

Or is he juz cowardly and hypocritical, only opposing something he knows the govt opposes?

Interestingly, after a lot of wayang, his church wimped out in a row with the govt. http://sg.news.yahoo.com/church-pays–7-000-compensation-for-dismissed-pregnant-staff-who-had-affair-162329331.html

The church is also no stronger to exaggeration or sliming https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/faith-community-baptist-church-alleges-ag-gagging-order/

Related: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/pastor-lawrence-khong-sues-polo-club-after-suspension?page=0%2C0

—–

*For the record, I support the govt’s stance on 377A, as a decent attempt to do the right thing by two opposing views.

Where NS leads to successful high tech start-ups

In Uncategorized on 17/09/2013 at 4:48 am

In S’pore, NS is often seen (esp by those doing it) as a waste of time and a source of cheap labour for public events like National Day, F1 and the Kiddie Games.

In Israel, which is surrounded by hostiles threatening to destroy the nation, NS is seen as impt not only for the defence of nation and the Jewish tradition, but also as a training ground for budding high tech entrepreneurs:

Inside the HQ of the Mamram, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) technical support unit in nearby Ramat Gan, computer training course commander … says new recruits on a six-month intensive programming course study from dawn till night and are taught programming skills, teamwork, project management and – most importantly how to be creative. It’s like a school for start-ups.

“When you do a degree in computer science you study the technical things,” she says. “You study how to write a code, mathematics. We don’t focus on that. We focus on how to work in a team. How to understand what your client needs and make software that fits his demands. How to write good code that you will be able to de-bug and maintain.”

Tal Marian, founder of the TechLoft, a commercial shared workspace just off Rothschild, says the results of the military training are obvious. “Some of the military units work like a civilian organisation,” says Marian. “They encourage entrepreneurship, the feeling that if you come up with a good idea that answers a real need of that unit’s mission, you will get the funding and manpower and the time you need.”

After years of helping to solve the nation’s major security threats, the challenges of gaming and mobile apps pale by comparison, he adds.

And

“Entrepreneurs in Israel are unique,” he says. “Their approach to problems is different to others because the army is a huge incubator for innovation and entrepreneurship. The army gave us a few million dollars at the age of 18 and asked us to build technology and systems that address problems that only people 10 or 20 years older are dealing with in other parts of the world. That kind of pressure and challenge really brings a lot of things out of you.”

Tal skipped university to work at a start-up before launching his own, but another important driver of the tech scene is the fact that Israeli university students pay only about $3,100 (£2,000) a year in tuition fees. They emerge from military service and three years of studying with zero debt, eager to take a year off to pursue their dreams.

That youthful exuberance, combined with the rigorous military training in technology and project management, has found a natural home among cafes running down the centre of Rothschild.

When one Tony Tan was DPM a few yrs back, he visited Israel to learn the secrets of building a high tech entrepreneurial culture. Obviously he wasn’t brought to Rothschild Boulevard, or the IDF unit. Obviously, they must have been state secrets then. We know he visited Israeli research institutes and signed shume MOUs.

Related

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16787509

The IDF has already changed enormously in recent years. Its largest unit, 8200, is focused on cyber-warfare. http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21583317-israels-armed-forces-are-shifting-emphasis-mechanised-warfare-toward-air-and

Why it matters that ST & Today got the facts wrong on Ng’s IOC bid

In Media on 16/09/2013 at 5:16 am

Readers cannot have missed that ST and Today were trumpeting for weeks, that S’pore’s Ng Ser Miang had a good chance to be in the International Olympic Committee (IOC). president. He was not only a contender but one of the two favourites. As the volume got shriller and the headlines more bombastic and bigger fonts were used, I turned to the int’l media like the BBC and the Guardian. They said that the German, Bach, was the favourite. If he didn’t get the job, it would be an upset.

I didn’t get upset at our papers’ “kampung” boy stance: to be expected from “provincial” papers. Ever read the Cardiff or Belfast Times? Or even the NY or London papers on city matters? Besides ang mohs are always dismissive of Asians.

What has got me writing this diatribe is that it is now beyond reasonable doubt that the papers must have been wrong to label Ng a favourite. Ng tied in the first round with the Taiwanese guy our papers called a long shot. Ng squeaked thru on a re-vote. Then “Mr Ng received six votes and came in a distant third, behind German former Olympian Thomas Bach, who won the elections with 49 votes, and Puerto Rican banker Richard Carrion who received 29 votes …”.

Come on, if he was a “hot” favourite, how come so bad a result? He should have come in a decent second, or a close third. Our papers didn’t think much of the banker’s chances, rating him below Ng. He got thru the first round easily, unlike Ng, and came in a credible, if distant, second.

Both papers moved on to whisper about conspiracy theories. Today muttered including a belief making the rounds that Tokyo’s successful bid to stage the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games was a factor.

With next year’s Youth Olympics in Nanjing, the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, there is a perception that the IOC was reluctant to give too much power to Asia. This doesn’t wash because Ng didn’t get many Asian votes, did he? One reporter also said that Asians don’t support Asians.

Gee so how come we weren’t told these facts earlier? ST and Today only found these up after Ng lost? Whatever it is, they must have got the facts wrong to come up with the assertion that Ng was a favourite.

Clearly, the voting showed that Ng was no favourite: in fact going by the numbers, he along with the Taiwanese guy were long shots. And that he never had a base of Asian supporters, let alone supporters. As WSJ wrote: Ng appeared to struggle to find company. On Sunday night, as Bach was finishing dinner with International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta of Italy and their spouses, Ng was sharing a drink with reporters. The next day Bach had lunch with IOC member Ung Chang.

The two papers got it wrong: Ng was not a favourite, as claimed; and should admit to their getting their facts wrong, rather than throw smoke in order to cover-up the mistake of getting the wrong facts, leading to the wrong conclusion.

I once suggested that P Ravi and PM use this method (used successfully by a secret police force) to evaluate the quality of the data they get from their sources. Maybe ST and Today should use the method for their sports news coverage.
Let me be very clear, I’m not saying anything derogatory about Ng. But I’m saying that our papers, based on the evidence of the votes cast, did not get their facts “right” about Ng being a favourite alongside Bach. Were they beating the DRUMS rather than reporting the “right” facts?
This leads me to a most serious issue.
Recently, a retired Imperial Stormtrooper general (Keyboard corps) criticised the role of the local mainstream media in the loss of trust between the people and the govt. Wow! Bit like a few German generals and soldiers trying to assassinate Hitler, when the Germans were losing the war that they started? OK maybe she had a Paul-like conversion after she got retired?

Well, if we can’t even rely on the media to get the facts “right” on a simple sports story involving a S’porean, how can we trust the media when it reports on news that touches on the govt: remember the local media prides itself on being “constructive” and “nation-building”, and I have yet to hear of a senior editor being less than 150% pro-govt. Example, the media only waited for the govt’s response to Dinesh family’s legal suit before reporting the case. TOC and Bertha Henson (aforesaid keyboard general) had, to their credit, already reported the details of the family’s suit days earlier.

Yaacob and the MDA should ponder the implications of this failure of  the govt’s poodle “constructive”, “nation-building” media to get the facts right on a simple sports story, rather than beat on the skin of P Ravi, the DRUMS to the tune of RAVII to discredit the new media. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/ingratitude-uniquely-sporean-blame-the-internet-not-really/

PM wrong on haze, hope he correct on “no repeat of 1997 crisis’

In Economy, Indonesia on 15/09/2013 at 5:47 am

(Or “1997/ 1998 revisited”)

Earlier this week, PM said: “On balance, I would take a sanguine view. I think the Asian economies are in a stronger position than they were in 1997 when the crisis came. I think we’ve got more safeguards instituted now, over the last decades since the Asian crisis to deal with the likely consequences of big capital flows. CNA

Well, Indonesia’s central bank has raised interest rates for the second time in two weeks as it looks to stem the sharp decline in its currency, the rupiah.

It raised its key rate to 7.25%, the highest level in more than four years.

Indonesia’s currency has dipped nearly 18% against the US dollar since May this year as investors pull out of emerging markets, stoking concerns about the economic impact.

The central bank also cut its growth forecast for the current year.

On Thursday, it said that it now expects the economy to grow between 5.5% to 5.9% compared with its earlier projection of a growth between 5.8% to 6.2%.

That will be the lowest pace of growth since the global financial crisis in 2009.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24075745

But he got the haze issue wrong: he said would return “for weeks”. Hasn’t has it? And haze season is almost over. I’m glad he was wrong on this.

Here’s hoping he’s right on the Asian economies because if not

vivid memories of the 1997 crisis in Indonesia … watching in disbelief as a once stable currency slid, gently at first, from 2,400 rupiah to the US dollar in July, to 4,000 by early December, and then, dramatically to more than 16,000 in January.

The economy seized up, and within months Indonesia was in chaos.

… something else too.

The foreign fund managers, who had been cheerleaders for the investment boom before the crisis, privately admitting that the corporate data they were given by Indonesian companies was suspect.

But they continued buying into the country’s broader economic growth story, despite nagging fears about corruption and the persistent current account deficit.

“Start Quote

Today the Thai economy is very different. Because we learned things like risk management, corporate governance, the ability to be flexible”

Jada Wattanasiritham SCB

I remember the World Bank and other respected international experts telling us, after Thailand’s economic collapse in July 1997, that Indonesia was different, its fundamentals were sound. It would not be infected by the disease, they said.

For anyone who experienced those bewildering months, and especially those who were victims of the crisis, they left a lingering mistrust of official reassurances, and an anxiety that they could be caught out again.

She seems to have forgotten:

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

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

— And in January another Thai tycoon, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, won the battle for control of Fraser and Neave with a debt-heavy $11.2 billion offer based largely on breaking up the Singaporean conglomerate.

1997/1998 again? Both had problems then, esp the former.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/why-regional-mkts-are-tanking-why-its-a-risky-moment/

Where S’pore and other Asean countries most vulnerable to Fed tapering

In China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Vietnam on 14/09/2013 at 5:36 am

This chart from Reuters shows the vulnerability of major Asian economies to Fed policy of tapering

http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/RNGS/2013/AUG/ASIARANKINGS/ASIARANKINGS.html

S’pore is vulnerable

Slowing GDP: Most vulnerable

Growing Public Debt : Second most vulnerable

Uncompetitive Currency: Second most vulnerable

Growing Credit Intensity: Fourth most vulnerable. Another view: Banks with large property loan portfolios will face higher risks when interest rates start to rise — this as highly-leveraged households begin to have difficulty paying their mortgages.

Economists said this could lead to credit tightening by banks, and a hard landing for the property sector.

If that happens, DBS Bank said Singapore and Hong Kong will be hardest hit within Asia.

In other Asean round-up news

surpluses of Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia have narrowed even more since the second half of 2007. However, this is partly because Thailand and Malaysia have boosted domestic investment, which lifts imports.

Malaysian and Indonesian companies are grappling with a margin squeeze: The two commodity-producing economies have witnessed the biggest rise in their real cost of capital. The Philippines has the opposite problem: Falling inflation-adjusted returns for savers.

Rightly or wrongly, though, the sovereign debt issued by developed countries is perceived as safe. Malaysia is not in the same league, and it is pruning petrol and diesel subsidies to control its growing public debt problem.

Unlike in 1997, most Asian countries have relatively straightforward choices. Malaysia can introduce a goods and services tax to control the 14 percentage point increase in its sovereign-debt-to-GDP ratio since 2007. Indonesia can raise interest rates to tame 9 percent inflation. The main problem is India, with its cocktail of slumping growth, high inflation, a creaking banking system, reckless fiscal policies and political uncertainty. Other Asian nations can’t take rising U.S. interest rates lightly, but they are far from a crisis.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/09/05/not-all-asian-countries-need-to-fear-the-fed/

Indonesia’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate 25 basis points Thursday afternoon in a move that defied market expectations and continued a swift phase of tightening efforts as the nation’s economic growth showed signs of stumbling.

The interest rate increased to 7.25 percent, the fourth hike in as many months, as Bank Indonesia moved to stabilize the increasingly volatile rupiah while controlling inflation and the widening trade deficit.

The danger of capital controls in Asean (Note this is new link and chart, not the one originally posted)

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21586569-error-apology-and-revision-spreadsheet-different

Asean trade with China (FT charts)

Why preacher boy’s congregation will follow him to hell & back

In Corporate governance, Internet on 13/09/2013 at 6:01 am

(Or “Don’t be jealous that Kong Hee’s got it all leh”)

Woody Allen* once said that believing in God would be easier if He would show Himself by making a large deposit in a Swiss bank account in the director’s name.

No wonder Kong Hee (RI boy, like that thieving monk, and that ex-bishop (Methodist) of S’pore) is able to convince many people that prosperity gospel works: he is living proof of the $ that it brings. He is married Sun Ho**, who he said has rich, filthy rich, parents***. And he has Wahju Hanafi, as God’s personal ATM on earth:

— An Indonesian businessman and member of the City Harvest Church (CHC) … cast the business of saving souls in terms of a return on investment.

Justifying his $1 million-a-year donation to CHC for its Crossover Project – the church’s way of evangelising through pop music – Wahju Hanafi said: “If I spend $1 million and we win 138,000 souls, that means every soul is worth less than $1,000. To me, that is a good buy.

“I’m a businessman, and for every investment that I (make), I have to see a return. To me, in this case, the return is the souls that we are winning. If (we) are not winning souls, then I will probably pull back my money.” (BT report)

THERE was talk of love gifts like a Sentosa condo, expensive weddings and sponsorships so pop singer Ho Yeow Sun could receive bonuses.

God’s been putting serious money into his bank account. “If him, why not us?”, believers tell themselves. They got a point.
Now to the serious stuff.

First, the way the evidence is heading seems to indicate, to me, remember I’m a trained lawyer, that it was one big balls-up by the CHC people. They were trying to avoid paying tax or trying to help donors avoid tax. Whether they crossed the line, and were guilty of the offences charged remains to be seen. Anyway they didn’t have the benefit of this advice: Avoiding tax is not a fiduciary duty for UK company directors, opines a top UK law firm recently. http://taxjustice.blogspot.sg/2013/09/a-legal-opinion-on-directors-duties-on.html

The general principles of the opinion apply here too. CHC is registered as a company.

Next, much has been said by the magnificient seven bloggers and other lesser mortals about the intolerance of the PAP govt of views that do not fit the “right” narrative.Sadly, netizens too can be be a pretty intolerant bunch, reminding me of the biblical passage: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone …”.

Here http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.sg/2013/08/kong-hees-spokesman-on-english-language.html the blogger makes fun of a CHC member’s and PR flack’s “bad” grammar because of her undoubted bad manners.

But grammar and bad manners aside, she has a very serious, valid point, on the use of the word “sorry”.As someone who is a lapsed Methodist (into meditation nowadays), and who disagrees with the prosperity gospel believers that worshiping God results in a bigger bank balance, I never viewed the clip in qn in the way netizens spreading it, or commenting on it, were trying to frame it.

I read it as him telling fellow believers that their God was “comforting” him for trials inflicted by their loving God. Waz wrong with that? It’s basic Christian doctrine. But it doesn’t fit the dominant internet narrative that religious people are stupid, irrational and intolerant.

Methinks also there is a lot of jealousy out there on the internet. It is not only hostile territory for the PAPpies (rightly so), but also for successful people. There seems to be a “tall poppy syndrome” on the internet. Google the term if you are a “green-eyed “char tou”, envious of others.

The vileness of the attacks on pastor boy and CHC are gd examples (Auntie’s different as she can’t sing or act). I’ll blog on other examples. Juz because the PAPpies do DRUMS to the beat of RAVII****, doesn’t mean we have to follow them. Be mean by all means (this blog believes in being mean, provided there are reasonable grounds to be mean) but don’t do the RAVII DRUMS.

Use this method (used successfully by a secret police force) to evaluate the reasonableness of data before being mean.

Other CHC related posts

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/chc-missing-a-trick/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/chc-charity-denial-persecution/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/chc-a-prophecy/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/render-to-caesar-the-things-that-are-caesars/

*A stockbroker is “Someone who invests your money until it’s all gone.”

**Who in certain poses and when viewed from certain angles can be pretty gorgeous. But not in China Wine or when she leaves her hair black.

***But not rich enough to indulge her in her singing ambitions. Or they know she can’t sing or act?

****Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications, Insinuations & Insults

Our world class Chinese banks need US$50-500bn more in capital

In Banks, China, Temasek on 12/09/2013 at 4:56 am

This blog has been pointing out why ang mohs don’t like Chinese banks, while Temasek loves them.

This short video shows the strengths of Chinese banks in size and income from interest (Big 4 in global top 10). The latter must surely be a consideration in why Temasek invests in three of them.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/09/daily-chart-1

Now back to the worrying analysis:

— With bad loans and competition rising, China’s largest banks face tougher times ahead. ChinaScope Financial, a research firm partly owned by Moody’s, a ratings agency, has analysed how declining net interest margins will affect China’s banks. It estimates that the sector will need an injection of $50 billion-100 billion over the next two years just to keep its capital ratios at today’s level. The managements of the Big Four realise this, and have won approval from their boards to raise over $40 billion in fresh capital over the next two years. But Andrew Sheng of the Fung Global Institute, a think-tank, reckons the sector will need to raise even more later: up to $300 billion over the next five years.

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21584331-four-worlds-biggest-lenders-must-face-some-nasty-truths-giant-reality-check

— China’s bad debts could blow a $500 billion hole in bank balance sheets. That’s roughly how much extra equity the eleven biggest lenders might need if 10 percent of their loans went sour, according to a Breakingviews calculator.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/09/04/chinas-bad-debt-could-leave-500-bln-equity-hole/

Performance-related pay: Not applicable to CEOs and minsters

In Corporate governance, Political governance, Public Administration on 11/09/2013 at 5:32 am

The financial industry especially investment banking and broking gets a bad name because of the outlandish bonuses for the rainmakers or the swinging big dicks i.e. top traders and salesmen. But it’s abt income generated whether thru fees, commissions or trading profits. Example: 46%  of the department of Merrill Lynch’s Global Wealth & Investment Managment revenue comes from only 21% of its top-producing brokers, about 2,500 people. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/09/us-merrill-brokers-elite-idUSBRE84817N20120509

Of course there is moral hazard: losses are borne out to shareholders and taxpayers. And sure there are issues of cost and risk allocations especially the cost of capital used but there is a link between productivity (measured here by revenue) and pay.

BUT

There is no correlation between FTSE 100 bosses’ pay and the performance of the companies they run, a BBC report reveals.

And

C.E.O. Pay Keeps Climbing Shareholders have sounded alarms over executive pay and achieved victories at companies like Citigroup and Hewlett-Packard. But despite the noise, the median pay of the nation’s 200 top-paid C.E.O.’s was $14.5 million last year, an increase of 5 percent from the year earlier, according to a study conducted for The New York Times by the compensation data firm Equilar.

“One might reasonably conclude that the senior management of a bank cannot possibly know what is going on at the level of the individual traders; banks are just too complex. Fair enough. But one cannot have it both ways. If bank executives cannot be held responsible for all the shenanigans that go on underneath them, nor can they be responsible for all the profits that result. A lot goes on at a bank that is entirely out of the CEO’s control. So when Barclays makes a bumper profit, why should the CEO get an outsized bonus? The profits may be down to luck, or to rising markets, or to trades that the CEO cannot possibly be aware of.”

So the fallacy of paying ministers, CEO-like salaries is based on the wrong premise. CEOs’ pay are not performance-related.

Then, there is another problem with performance-related pay for ministers. This time the issue of collegiality. Everyone is more or less paid the same to promote team-work and shared responsibility. Remember collective cabinet responsibility is a political convention.

Tharman, Teo, Ng, Khaw, Shan, Kee Chui and now VB* (notice that the Indians are punching above their weight** despite only constituting 7% of the population) have to carry the likes of Yaacob, Lui, Tan, Fu, and Hng Kiang. In the cabinet, the salary differentials are very narrow according to PM, so the gd performers don’t get that much more. But thank god for small mercies. We once had to pay for SM Goh, Raymond Lim, DPM Wong, George Yeo, VB (not cut out for “compassion” jobs but gd at “rational” tasks?) and Mah, in addition to the present bunch of non-performing cabinet ministers who were then in cabinet. And wider still what abt the Speaker, and jnr ministers and parly secs?

Finally there is the point raised by this TRE reader? Can ministers who are ex-generals earn that much in the private sector https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/refute-this-question-pap/

*”Haze? What haze?” since he shouted “Rape!” at the Indons. I mean PM said haze was returning: he was wrong; as usual. I mean the haze season is ending. Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/haze-pm-silence-is-not-a-solution/. And he doing something about the flooding at Orchard Rd and now an expressway: listening to the engineers who have advocated spending money on flood prevention projects. Yaacob stuck his head under sand under the water, like what he and his sis did when LKY uttered his Hard Truth about the Malays, muttering something about “worse case scenario”. His sis was there when LKY made the remarks. It was left to PM to sort dad out. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/state-of-the-pap-my-light-hearted-analysis-based-on-gossip-heard/

**Judged by relative results

Monkeys eating golden peanuts remain monkeys

In Banks on 10/09/2013 at 5:07 am

They don’t morph into geniuses, contrary to what the PAP implies.

Yesterday, I opined that Yaacob and Mah disprove the PAP Hard Truth reasoning that ministers must get paid very well. Well here’s evidence that high pay doesn’t result in gd returns for investors because bank executives get paid plenty of money but investors don’t benefit.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2013/07/investing-0

[I]f there might be a justification for high bank salaries, it is that they have delivered high rewards for investors, and that is clearly not the case. This seems to be a classic case of an inside job – of executives benefiting at the expense of shareholders.

What is … striking is the contrast with the performance of bank shares (see chart), with that of the salaries of bank executives. The inflection point in bank salaries goes back to the early 1980s and we could only get data for the chart back to 1994. But I suspect the longer-term trend would be the same as the 1980s was marked by the third world debt crisis that damaged so many bank balance sheets. As a humourist once wrote of British films

Isn’t it funny/

How they never make any money/

When everyone in the racket/

Cleans up a packet

—-

Related posts:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/refute-this-question-pap/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/best-nmps-jos-yeo-and-terry-lee/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/golden-peanuts-legislators-salaries-relative-to-their-countries-gdp-per-prson/

To lose one Hard Truth may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose three in two months looks like carelessness

In Political governance on 09/09/2013 at 4:50 am

(“Mah & Yaacob disprove PAP’s Hard Truth on ministerial salaries”)

The implicit disowning of the Malay minister’s claims when he was Water minister that once-in-50-yrs floods were causing problems, not his ministry’s disfunctionality, has been implicitly disowned by the govt when the present Water minister said an expressway flood is unacceptable. Yaacob, talked of several floods that occurred several months apart as very exceptional events that could not be reasonably foreseen. VivianB’s comments imply that very heavy rain should be foreseen and planned for.

This reminded of another recent occasion when another Hard Truth was disowned.

On  26 August 2013, new rules were imposed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The one that caught the headlines and public attention was that households with permanent residency, or PR, status can only buy previously owned state-built homes if they have held PR status for at least three years. Permanent residents, who made up 10% of Singapore’s population of 5.3 million people in 2012, could previously buy a HDB flat from the resale market immediately after getting PR status.

But what S’poreans seemed to ignore was the rule change that would also offer public-housing loans with a reduced maximum tenure of 25 years, down from 30 years. Public-housing mortgage payments would be capped at 30% of borrowers’ gross monthly income, down from 35%. Prudent leh, we are told.

In 2011, one Mah Bow Tan argued that HDB flats were afforable because : It only took 30 years, 2 incomes and 30% of the 2 incomes to pay for the HDB flat.

As one blogger said qat the time: How many of you agree that this affordable formula is fair? This formula means that for the first 30 years of one’s working life, there could be very little saving for retirement. Most could only start to save after repaying their 30 year loan. So don’t ask why you don’t have enough savings for retirement. The other point which this formula dictates is that both husband and wife must be working to be able to afford the HDB flat. One income, forget it. And there are families that have to live on one income, by choice or by circumstances beyond their control, or by tragedies.

He went on: The people must denounce this formula as unaffordable. 30% of one income for 30 years is already too much. It was 20% of one income for 20 years for a 5 rm flat for a fresh graduate. But the goal posts have been shifted during the last decade that people have come to accept 2 incomes and 30 years as the norm. It is not, and it should not be the case.

Well the PAP govt has now dropped the 30-yr part of the formula. And by implication, condemned the man who said it. The PAP should also be asking itself, “Was it worth it to change to a GRC system, so that this clown chap could be made a minister? Maybe better if we never had him as a minister? Why did we let him remain a minister for so many yrs?”.

What next PAP? Ditch his point that selling HDB flats at cheapish prices was tantamount to raiding the reserves?

And while I’m at it, how come our ex-ministers can’t earn this kind of serious money? Players on the int’l stage in business deal-making

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/10/us-glencore-blair-idUSBRE88915920120910

Instead they

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/sph-another-home-for-ex-ministers/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/retired-ministers-no-megabucks-from-private-sector/

“Cheaper” to build F1 track

In Humour, Infrastructure on 08/09/2013 at 6:21 am

Netizens in July were making comments about a SMRT river training for F1 following a tragic accident when a bus alleged to be speeding overturned. The driver (apparently an FT PRC) claims the brakes didn’t work. http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/07/24/smrt-bus-crash-at-dairy-farm-road-actual-video-of-crash/. Nothing further has emerged.

For us lesser mortals, when F1 comes to town, those of us who have to work, have the inconvenience of blocked roads and altered bus routes. And the shops at Suntec have to deal with falling biz. All this so that S’pore doesn’t have to build a proper F1 track. Guess we now know why only Monaco, Montreal and S’pore have street races: peanuts compared to the number on permanent circuits. The public are inconvenienced, and the public cannot be upset even in countries where the people can’t vote for the govt ruling them. BTW, in Montreal, the street race ain’t in the heart of the city, and in Monaco, people commute by helicopters and boats too (at least the rich do).

It’s not as though there is a huge savings gap. In fact it’s more expensive to stage a street race, even without taking account of the economic losses.

However, the annual running costs of a street race are greater than those of one on a permanent circuit: temporary grandstands need to be built and the roads need to be upgraded to F1’s high safety standards. The biggest single expense for the operators is staffing (c£10m), followed by rental of grandstands (c£8m) and construction of safety barriers and fencing (c£5m). 

In total, the annual operating cost of an F1 street race is in the region of £36m. Then comes the hosting fee, which is paid to the F1 rights holder. The average hosting fee came to £17m in 2011 but the sting in the tail of the contracts is that the price accelerates by as much as 10 per cent every year. Most new F1 race contracts are for ten years, so by the end of the agreement the annual fee comes to around £40m thanks to the escalator clause in the contract. That means that over the ten-year duration the bill for hosting fees totals an estimated £272m (see below) with the cost of running the races coming to £360m. That makes a total over ten years of more than £600m.

With annual running costs that are far lower than those for a street race, the total cost of building a Grand Prix circuit and hosting an F1 race over a ten-year period comes in at around £560m. But promoters need to dig deep to fund that initial track construction… http://www.babusinesslife.com/Ideas/Features/The-cost-of-hosting-a-Formula-1-Grand-Prix.html … how much the key elements of a brand new Grand Prix circuit are likely to cost… [£164m]

So the difference is spending S$80m more over 10 yrs to “save” on the cost of building a permanent track. Of course, I ‘m assuming the cost of the circuit land is zero or nominal. But this being S’pore where giving away the land for public housing would be “raiding the reserves” (Mah Bow Tan), this is a non-starter. Anyway the usual suspects would shout “corruption” even if the govt was willing to lease land at a nominal price.

So, the end result is that the “little people” who have to commute by way of public transport, get screwed, So waz new?

(Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/f1-sharing-the-1bn-in-value-add-with-the-losers/)

But let’s look on the bright side like Brian Cohen in the Life of Brian. Suffering a lingering, painful death by cruxification, Brian’s spirits were lifted by others crucified along with him, who sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

Hopefully SMRT and SBS are tapping F1 to make our tpt system more reliable and efficient. In the UK, train and bus companies have started working with the Williams Formula One team to help improve their service.

The companies are buying advice and equipment to make their vehicles more reliable, something every passenger in the land will be grateful for.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23132335

At the moment, SMRT’s only links with F1 is that the previous CEO drove a Ferrari, and is alleged to have had a Mercedes super car. Maybe when Desond Kwek and his ex-SAF mgrs want to buy super cars with their mega-bonuses, Williams could call them to see if something win-win can be arranged for them, Williams and SMRT? Free sex is no longer an option after recent corruption court cases.

SMRT might be interested in this: talking train window ads

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23167112

I mean its CEO is claiming that its business model is not sustainable i.e. he can’t raise fares to cover the costs of salaries and maintenance. Cut dividends leh? As at end February 2012, SMRT has paid SMRT paid S$562.79m in dividends to Temasek since its listing.

(Another way of raising $https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/how-smrt-can-spend-more-on-maintenance-while-contd-paying-gd-dividends/)

Finally, great video that shows guy driving round Manhattan at speeds that breaks the law. http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/sep/06/manhattan-island-24-minutes-video. Driver records 24-minute fastest lap around Manhattan

Govt doesn’t highlight subsidy problems in M’sia, Thailand & Indonesia; wonder why?

In Indonesia, Infrastructure, Internet, Malaysia, Vietnam on 07/09/2013 at 5:58 am

The govt likes to warn about the dangers of subsidies, forever quoting the deficits in the West. Well what about telling us about problems nearer home? And how come it’s ok to “subsidise” HDB flats at home? ‘Cause it not really a subsidy is what the usual suspects would argue.

Malaysia has cut fuel subsidies for the first time in more than two years as it tries to reduce its budget deficit.

The subsidy on petrol has been cut by 20 sen (6 cents; 4 pence) a litre and on diesel by 20 to 80 sen a litre.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said the cuts would result in savings of about 3.3bn ringgit ($1bn; £650m) a year.

The government spent 24bn ringgit on fuel subsidies last year, which contributed to a widening budget deficit.

Malaysia’s budget deficit was 4.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23926411

Some analysts said that the cut in fuel subsidies was an attempt by the government to increase investor confidence and persuade them to leave their money in the country.

Malaysia’s ratio of public debt to gross domestic product (GDP) “is approaching worrying leve according to a Bank of  America Merrill Lynch (BOAML) report. It said that the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio had risen to 54.6%  at the end of the second quarter, from 53.8% in the first quarter.

The figure is just short of the country’s mandated debt ceiling of 55% of GDP. In the 1960s, the limit was made law by then-finance minister Tan Siew Sin to ensure fiscal prudence.

BOAML said that it could worsen. “Rising longer-term bond yields (and hence higher debt-servicing costs) may accelerate the climb.”

Meanwhile, total debt including guarantees is piling up.

“Government guaranteed debt came in at RM147.3 billion (S$56.4 billion) in the second quarter, slightly lower than RM147.8 billion in the first quarter. Adding this to public debt brings the quasi-public debt to about 70.2 per cent of GDP at the end of the second quarter, up from 69.4 per cent during the first quarter.” [BOA report added after first publication)]

Other Asean round-up news

Thailand‘s Thaksinonmics runs into trouble

Thaksinomics has always been about two things. First, it was about establishing a secure hold over the voters, and in that it has unquestionably been successful.

But it is also supposed to be about driving the domestic economy.

The original schemes for micro-credit, affordable healthcare and local product promotion have lifted the living standards of millions of poorer Thais, as has this government’s decision to raise the minimum wage.

But the benefits of the car and rice purchase schemes are more doubtful, especially given their cost.

Thailand still remains heavily dependent on exports and on foreign direct investment for its growth.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23903476V

What Viki’s US$ 200m exit says about S’pore’s, M’sia’s and Indonesia’s startup environment

And one of the reasons for the flight of money from Indonesia, is it’s failure to tackle the rising cost of its fuel subsidy. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23015511

http://sgentrepreneurs.com/2013/09/02/what-vikis-usd-200m-exit-says-about-singapores-startup-ecosystem/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=

CNA Group’s Vietnam-based subsidiary, CNA-HTE Vietnam Co, has landed a $10.6 million contract to renovate, upgrade and expand the domestic terminals in Ho Chi Minh’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

Under this project, CNA will provide mechanical, engineering and plumbing services such as the air-conditioning, ventilation and electrical systems at the airport’s new two-storey domestic terminal. CNA will also upgrade the airport’s existing domestic terminal, which will be equipped with a new bus terminal building and a VIP lounge. Its roof will be upgraded.

The project is slated for completion in October next year and will contribute to the group’s financial performance for the fiscal year ending Dec 31, 2013. It boosted CNA’s order book to $74.2 million, from $63.6 million as at June 30.

This is CNA’s second airport-related project in South-east Asia this year; it won a contract for Laos’ Luang Prabang Airport in April for common-use terminal equipment, typically used to facilitate passenger check-ins. BT

Ingratitude, uniquely S’porean? Blame the internet? Not really

In India, Internet, Political governance on 06/09/2013 at 5:15 am

The irony is the opposition made gains where there is almost full employment, the country peaceful and prosperous.

(http://www.pressrun.net/weblog/2013/08/singapore-prime-ministers-and-election-results.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rana+%28pressrun.net%29 I commend this blogger who usually has interesting, unpredectible perspectives. Not one of the usual suspects, whose rants can be surmised even without reading their articles: juz scan the titles.)

The govt in Norway is expected to lose an election on 9th September, even though eonomic growth was at 2.6% year-on-year in the second quarter and unemployment at just 3.4%, while the current-account surplus is huge: nearly 14% of GDP.

One could argue that because things are so gd, people are willing to take risks, experiment.

When times are bad, if the ones suffering badly are a smallish minority, and the majority, while unhappy, are fearful of what can happen, the majority of voters will opt for “Better the devil we know” We saw that in 2001 when an election was called after 9/11. If Islamic terrorists could successfully attack Metropolis, which place was safe? And if there was a resulting global recession, who better than the PAP to handle it for S’pore? Certainly better than JBJ’s lot, even though the WP had juz kicked JBJ out as leader.

But the classic example was UK during the early yrs of Thatcher’s tenure. Despite massive unemployment she won a second term (helped by winning a war). The unemployed voted against her, but those with jobs trusted her govt more than they did the opposition Labour party, which was seen as incompetent economically (strikes, IMF loan when it was governing).

Connected with the issue of experimentation when times are gd, is that people get tired of the same govt. The present Norwegian govt has been in power since 2005. As the PAP has been in power since 1959 (UMNO and allies in M’sia since 1957), it’s a testament to their tenacity and public goodwill that the PAP and UMNO are still in power. Even the LDP in Japan has lost power for two spells before regaining it.

The author of the above quote puts the unpopularity of the S’pore govt to the internet:

The internet seems to have been a game-changer. In the first post-Twitter general election, in 2011, the People’s Action Party (PAP) won only 60.1 per cent of the vote, its lowest share since independence, while the opposition secured six seats, more than ever before. (Twitter was launched only in 2006.)

He has a point because the internet

… proved a real pest,
Critics online all the time,
How do you make ‘em toe the line?

But let’s not forget. In the last GE 60% voted for the PAP. Taz a gd majority by any standard except that of the PAP itself and S’poreans. Remember, we used to give it 70-over % of the popular vote, and all the seats in parliament in the 70s.

True the PAP’s “preferred” candidate won the PE by a very short nose. But the man that nearly became president was someone that for many S’poreans (self included) exemplified what many S’poreans liked about the PAP Old Guard: principled, meritocratic, technocratic, smart (academically and street-wise), no wayang, no pretensions and compassionate: not sneering, complacent, privileged, incompetent and self-serving snob. Even the PAP’s preferred candidate belonged to the Old Guard, even if he had a privileged background: in fact many of the Old Guard had privileged backgrounds, they juz didn’t behave like a certain sneerer. Tony Tan juz didn’t get my vote because he was the “preferred” candidate. But if it had been between him, TJS and TKL (ex-PAP too), I’d voted for Tony Tan.

The next candidate, TJS, had only 25% of the vote. This is in line with the hard core opposition vote that emerges in any constituency an opposition candidate appears, even a looney one.

What the internet has allowed, is to give amplification to the voices of the hard core opposition supporters. They were never silent but the exclusion of their voices from the constructive, nation-building local media meant that they could only communicate in a less than effective way most of the time to other die-hards and ordinary S’poreans.

Ordinary S’poreans now realise that these voices are not demon voices because like the hard core opposition voters, they too have grievances, doubts etc. They now know, they are not alone.

The power of the internet and the govt’s concern that it is losing the commanding heights of public communications are best illustrated by P Ravi’s reposting on Facebook about the availability of the masks: that the public were not going to get it despite repeated govt assurances to the contrary, and the govt’s heavy-handed reaction. This reposting was enough to get him accused of spreading misinformation.

P Ravi’s defence when the govt accused him spreading misinformation about the distribution of masks, was that he sharing with his Facebook friends (1000 over if you must know), giving the govt feedback, and seeking clarification from the govt: rather contradictory assertions. Why the govt didn’t ridicule these contradictions is beyond me. Instead, Yaacob, a civil servant and the constructive, nation-building media beat the drums to the tune of RAVII*, making him a hero and martyr to the hostiles on the internet and, in particular on social media. My posts on this

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/p-ravis-reposting-what-the-govt-should-have-done/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/reason-why-govt-fears-keyboard-warriors/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/is-the-pap-leopard-baring-his-fangs-and-unsheathing-his-claws/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/telling-gd-info-from-bad-the-secret-police-way/

So nope, the desire to experiment when things are gd, isn’t unique to S’pore. Nor is the internet the cause of the unpopularity. Even when the PAP had 70ish % of the popular vote, the balance voted for the opposition.

And 35% of the population like the values of the PAP Old Guard, they juz don’t like the way the PAP has developed in the 1990s and noughties. All this means that those who want change cannot afford to be complacent esp as there is going to be a party that’s going to be gd for the Party i.e. the PAP.

*Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications, Insinuations & Insults. Minister Shan talks of criticising ministers n the “right” way (E-Jay’s take). Well, what Yaacob and a civil servant did to Ravi, and what VivianB did to various people including the elderly poor doesn’t set gd examples for the public, do they?

Iskandar: Why SMEs should think twice before relocating there

In Malaysia on 05/09/2013 at 4:29 am

They will have problems getting cheap FTs there. Cheap FTs are what they want: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/sccci-sme-survey-proves-lkys-point/

This is what BT reported on 26 August 2013:

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of Singapore looking to move into Iskandar Malaysia may have to wait up to three years before they can access a steady pipeline of manpower there.

However, even as the region looks towards Singapore’s vocational institutions to meet their skilled labour needs, the authorities there may import foreign manpower in the short term to help SMEs from Singapore.

In an exclusive interview with The Business Times, Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim, the president and CEO of Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB), said that Singapore companies should still give Iskandar a chance despite the manpower challenges there.

“My message to the Singapore SMEs is that I will definitely still tell them to come because labour is something that we can easily procure from the market if the need is immediate – whether local or foreign,” he said. However, if the SMEs are looking towards the medium term for suitably skilled labour, then they should wait for up to three years for the institutions within Iskandar to help create this pool.

Note that the CEO is in no position to promise SMEs that he can get them cheap labour they demand. M’sian businesses have to resort to illegal FTs because the govt is pretty strict in allowing FTs in.Recent crackdown http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23931833

It is not like the govt here.

And then there is a minimum wage in M’sia which M’sian SMEs are complaining about.

Finally, M’sian petrol prices have gone up. Still want to move?

Telling gd info from bad, the secret police way

In Financial competency on 04/09/2013 at 5:18 am

(Or “How Ravi & PM can improve their decision-making or sharing skills” Actually, everyone, who has to evaluate info i.e all of us, can benefit from the methodology.)

P Ravi had a “hard” time*, a few months back, from two ministers and the spokesman from the Info ministry ever since he reposted some stuff on masks (See this) which even I tot he shouldn’t have done.

PM had serious problems in the 2011GE and the by-election this year: the PAP grassroot leaders gave him and the PAP the wrong info on grassroot sentiment. After the 2011 GE, he had to defend said leaders after PAP MPs criticised them. To ensure that the feedback, the selected NatCon participants reflected S’poreans’ concerns, he had a survey to double-confirm what he was hearing from the selected NatCon participants.

Maybe, if Ravi and the PM had used the following evaluation method that the Malayan Special Branch successfully used when fighting the communists, they could have better evaluated their sources’ information.

Source reliability Information accuracy
A – Completely reliable 1 – Confirmed
B – Usually reliable 2 – Probably true
C – Fairly reliable 3 – Possibly true
D – Not usually reliable 4 – Doubtfully true
E – Unreliable 5 – Improbable
F – Reliability cannot be judged 6 – Accuracy cannot be judged

(Was based on “Admiralty System”. From  Malaya’s Secret Police 1945-60: The Role of the Special Branch in the Malayan Emergency)

It splits the analysis into two: the reliability of the source (based on source’s historical reliability) and the accuracy of the info (based on known facts).

In the case of Ravi, even though he would have given his source an “A” rating, the fact that before his reposting the following was reported:

The Health Ministry has urged Singaporeans to be patient, as it works with suppliers to speed up deliveries to shops.
Adrian Lo, director of Singapore Test Services, said: “The frustration is definitely there as a citizen. But I know the challenges of distribution so we just have to be patient and then hope the government intervenes and do something to spread out the availability of the masks.”
Dr Ng Eng Hen, chair of the Haze Inter-Ministerial Committee, added the government will supply retail outlets with more masks and that NTUC FairPrice will get the stocks next week.
The FairPrice chain of stores said close to two million masks will be re-stocked from Monday across all its 115 outlets.
Dr Ng said: “NTUC FairPrice will cap the price of these masks, but also limit the number that each person can buy. Because when people buy more, they create more demand and artificial shortages, so they will cap the price and limit the numbers that each person can buy.”
More than 1.5 million N95 masks are also on their way to being delivered to retail pharmacies.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/n95-masks-run-out-at/719948.html

should have alerted him that info he was going to repost was at best a “4” in terms of accuracy. The rating would have been A4. I mean a minister, no less, said that masks were going to be distributed. A minister would not be playing the DRUMS on such an issue of national concern, which was easily verifiable, or shown to be false, as the case may be.. Trustworthy source, but accuracy problematic. BTW, Ravi now concedes that the said masks were distributed.

As for the PM, instead of relying on grassroots leaders’ assurances of a victory in Punggol East, he should have tot back to their assurances of easy victories in 2011, and given the grassroots leaders a C or D rating, and 3 for accuracy. This score would have told him that it would be prudent to campaign harder because it was C3 or D3 at best: neither here or there. It might even be a C4 orD4.

*Now this is a hard time: BETWEEN August 20th and 23rd Beijing police arrested several microbloggers** on a charge normally reserved for rabble-rousers on the streets: that of “creating a disturbance”. They were nabbed, police claim, for spreading false rumours. Earlier in the month two influential microblogging activists were also arrested in east-central China. Each had accused officials of wrongdoing. An online crackdown is under way on those who do not follow the Communist Party’s line … On August 23rd Beijing police detained one Big V, Charles Xue, and later accused him of holding group sex parties with prostitutes.

http://www.economist.com/news/china/21584385-authorities-move-against-some-chinas-most-vocal-microbloggers-big-vs-and-bottom-lines

**Seems some of those arrested were PR people microblogging a product placement.

No such thing in China as “juz sharing” and “seeking govt clarification”. If it smells like rumour-mongering, bring on the handcuffs, is shumething the Chinese can teach Yaacob.

Remember ST’s “promotion” of Reits in May & June?

In Financial competency, Reits on 03/09/2013 at 5:09 am

ST wrote last Saturday about S-Reits as follows, In short, this means that you would have got a better deal if you had bought in 2010 and 2011, compared to now.

However, buying now would still be better than if you had bought in May this year: At that time, the average yield of the sector was as low as 4.3 per cent, Bloomberg data shows.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid=493433871-18886-1315537690

Regular readers will know that in late May (here), two weeks in a row in June (here and here), I grumbled about ST’s “promotion” of Reits, saying it wasn’t the time to load-up on Reits.

As to whether to load up on Reits, I’m thinking about it. Let you know after I buy some, Or if I decide not to.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/why-im-not-selling-my-reits-yet/

If you are blur about why the yields of different types of reits are different, read this https://atans1.wordpress.com/?s=Reits+%2B+primer. BT is not ST.

DBS Vickers likes Cache Logistics Trust, Suntec Reit and CapitaRetail China Trust, saying that “most of the negatives are already priced in” for these counters.

It also likes hotel owner CDL Hospitality Trusts, though technically, the vehicle is a stapled security rather than a pure Reit (ST report)

S’poreans avoiding low-paid jobs are not lazy or daft, juz rational

In Economy, Political governance on 02/09/2013 at 4:47 am

SME employers are forever bitching moaning that they need FTs because S’poreans (esp the young) don’t want to do the jobs on offer, be it factory work or restaurant work. The govt, too, is forever complaining that FTs are needed because there are jobs that S’poreans don’t want to do. The underlying message of govt and employers is “S’poreans are lazy”, echoing and amplifying one LKY’s Hard Truth that S’poreans need to be spurred on, by way of the import of FTs. BTW, strangely, they are silent on benefit of the wage repression that such imports bring them, and people like me.)

Well these employers are not “uniquely S’porean”. Farmers in the UK too complain that they need FTs according to this article

Farmers claim that they will then face a dramatic shortage of labour [when a FT scheme is ended].

Often migration is justified on the grounds that there are jobs young Britons are unwilling to do. They’re lazy and coddled the argument goes, workers from less wealthy countries tend to be keen to get the work. Yet at the same time as around 22,000 Bulgarians and Romanians came to Britain through the SAWS, over 46,000 Britons traveled to Australia last year as part of the Working Holiday Makers program. There, they often get low paid jobs, as farm hands, cleaners or in the catering industry.

The Economist (remember it likes our healthcare, CBD and COEs, and believes in low taxes, GST and liberal immigration policies) goes on to explain this paradox of British youth preferring to take menial, low paying jobs in Oz but not at home, while British farmers have to rely on immigrant labour:

Migrants—whether Romanian or British—usually intend to stay for just a few years before returning back to their country of origin. This means that they’re much more willing to live in cramped conditions, cut their costs and take on low paid temporary work. But Britons who are willing to work as field hands in Australia probably would not consider do so in Britain: they would hold out for a more permanent and better paid job. This is not necessarily evidence of laziness but prudence. It is just that it is much harder to buy a house or raise a family on the wages of a field hand than it is to backpack across Australia.

Likewise, S’poreans want better paying jobs because this is home, and a pretty expensive place to boot. A recent Yahoo article had this quote: I just think there must be something really wrong if the government keeps having to subsidise people like us who are considered middle-income wage earners. There’s a real income inequality problem here and they need to address it.” – Marketing executive Adrian Matthew, 26. Taz a middle income wage earner talking. Imagine what would a S’porean manual worker or waiter say?

True, we don’t have welfare benefits for the unemployed but young S’poreans have their parents. This being S’pore, the son or daughter is likely to be the only child, or one of two, and S’porean parents are likely to understand their children’s situation. And there is a generation that can still afford to indulge their children because they have jobs and have paid off their HDB loans, and are sitting pretty. Taz the welfare net for these young S’poreans.

The piece ends with shumething our PM and his cabinet should be thinking about (I slightly edited the passage to make it fit our situation):

There’s little point in complaining about laziness, those who won’t take these jobs are often making rational decisions. We don’t really want an army of underpaid Brits S’poreans working uncomfortable hours in jobs which pay nothing. It would be better to wonder why they cannot find better ones—and what the government can do to help them to.

The PM should remember that as the Economist agrees with many of the things he is doing such as:

— bring on the FTs;

— GST;

— COEs;

— CDB;

— high petrol prices;

— low taxes;

— no minimum wages; and

— meritocracy,

so he should listen to it when it talks of the need to try  to find better ways of helping the lower-paid workers. After all in S’pore, as I pointed out here, real wage median growth is dependent on govt fiat (raising employers’ CPF contribution.

What better goodie to celebrate 50 yrs of independence?

Even the PAP govt gets a goodie: a continuation of the de-facto one-party state if the govt can find a way to make sure S’poreans have stable, gd paying jobs. And no more subsidising of HDB flats for middle income S’poreans. No more raiding of the reserves as one Mah Bow Tan almost put it. More for Temasek to put on “Red”?

LionsXII — Still think the 12th man is us fans?

In Footie on 01/09/2013 at 6:39 pm

Glad team was “lucky”. The results of recent M’sia Cup games got me looking up Wikipedia to check if the Super League title the team won recently is a rubbishy title. It isn’t. And wondering if Indon team was that bad.

Hope the “lucky” win changes the team’s fortunes. The 12th man in LionsXII is us the fans, no-one else. Certainly, not the bookies.

Nice to see that Sundram is wanted by Negri Sembilian. Wish him well, whatever he decides. And die-hard Fandi fans, pls don’t demand that he be made coach. His tenure at Johor, where money was not an issue in getting players, shows he ain’t the great coach that his fans die, die insist he is.

Parks: HK 67%, S’pore 8% of Land Use/ City in 2050

In Uncategorized on 01/09/2013 at 5:18 am

Remember this?

The Singapore government said it is committed to retain about a tenth of land for nature reserves and parks.

Acting Manpower Minister and Senior Minister of State for National Development, Tan Chuan-Jin, said this is significant for a highly urbanised city-state.http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1259158/1/.html

Well HK, which most of us would consider overcrowded, 66.6% of Land Use in the territory is classified as nature reserves and parks versus 8% for S’pore (ST data: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/hk-finds-room-for-7-2-million-people/). So 10% is “peanuts”, when a place with 7.2m people has more green space, a lot more.

If you’ve wondering how come HK has so much parks’ land, the answer is “Land Use”. HK is pretty hilly country and the sides of hills are included in the definition of “Land Use”. Even so in terms of territory, about 30% of HK’s territory is set aside for parks and conversation areas, still a lot more than S’pore’s 8% of “Land Use” or 9.8% of “non-development” land.  But the spin goes on

By 2030, 85 per cent or over eight in 10 residents will be living within a 10-minute walk to a park.

This figure will be up from the current 80 per cent, as mapped out by the Land Use Plan released on Thursday. The promise is that even as Singapore gears up for a population of up to 6.9 million, its urban landscape will still remain largely green.

http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20130201-399404.html

BTW, 2 S’pore buildings shortlisted for World Architecture Festival 2013 Awards Both Included inside this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-23151365

Now to the future

Have you ever wondered where you or your children may be living in 2050? Experts predict that by then three-quarters of the world’s population will live in cities. For part of its Tomorrow’s Cities season the BBC takes a look through the crystal ball to imagine what city life might be like in 40 years’ time.

ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23524249

Would you like to live in a circular city? Or a city where there are no parks but lots of greenery? Check out this highly commended audio slide show.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23799590