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Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

HK, S’pore, Bangkok, KL: What neither MSM nor new media tell us

In Casinos, Economy, Malaysia on 31/01/2014 at 4:20 am

But first Happy Neigh Yr .

S’pore had the second highest number of int’l tourists after HK in 2012. Distant third is Bangkok. KL is 6th. All benefit from Chinese tourists.http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/01/popular-cities

PAP govt must be doing shumething right, TRE , TOC readers? The casinos perhaps, Tan Jee Say?

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What Home Team’s recent cock-ups tell us

In Political governance, Public Administration on 30/01/2014 at 4:51 am

S’pore Notes was analysing the response DPM Teo gave to the apparent* tardiness in responding to the Little India ripple, and the little old lady in a red car entering S’pore illegally,  evading capture, and then entering undetected a secured area**

One of his readers gave the most insightful analysis I have seen of what these incidents portend: This incident has sparked off comments like yours and your commentators. The seriousness of the situation in its proper context is more than such observations, in my opinion. It exposes the mindset of those in charge of the security of the nation. They talk themselves into believing that everything is under control and that they are prepared for any eventual situation. The recent billion dollar decision to upgrade of the warplanes and expected purchase of the latest military toys give them this illusion. The quality of our uniformed personnel is not what they tell you. The result will be disastrous given the leaders’ penchant for annoying our neighbours.

Should we be afraid, very afraid that S’pore’s home security services appear to be paper tigers. leading to our neighbours thinking that our SAF is also a paper tiger? The performance of two ex-SAF chiefs in SMRT and NOL. PM, DPM Teo, BG Yeo and the three newbie ministers (two SAF generals ansd one admiral), would do nothing to dispel the perception.

My Facebook Avatar isn’t so sure that there is a serious, systematic problem: In the case of her entering S’pore illegally, failure to being detained in the police compound and her entry into a secured area, who else is at fault other than line officers involved? If there were systematical flaws, well we’d have heard of a lot more incidents, including possibly a few bombings. Sometimes, the front lines officersto blame.

Maybe the sytemic flaw is the training the officers receive?

I’ve got mixed views.

To quote DPM Teo, “What do you think?”

Related posts:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/scholar-ex-saf-chief-temasek-md-fails-to-turnaround-nol/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/sporeans-are-over-reacting-to-the-riot/

*All the problems at Home Team over recent yrs (corruption, Ang Moh tua kee attitude, PR status for possible criminals etc etc) show that it was badly run when Wong Kan Seng was the Home minister. There should be a claw-back of the millions he earned as a minister.

—-

*I’m undecided on whether the riot squad was activated tardily. I agree with DPM Teo that the riot squad should not suka suka be activated. The time taken to decide (about 15 minutes) sounds reasonable to me. On getting there, well it takes time. You can’t have a convoy of heavy vehicles full of people speeding at 90km to the scene. Use helicopters?

My beef is the behaviour of the police officers on the spot. I hope the inquiry tells us why they didn’t fire warning shots when their vehicles were in danger of being damaged. And if they were wrong not to fire warning shots in such a situation. An old timer NS riot squad guy tells me that in his time the police would defend their cars on the ground that it is a symbol of their authority like their badges and guns.

**Secured area? What security?

Anton Casey frus that he poor expat FT?

In Humour on 29/01/2014 at 4:30 am

Here I gave several reasons that maybe he wasn’t that rich

— travelling econony-class despite being fearful of threats to himself and his family*;

— using small law firm; and

— not offering to donate serious money to show his repentance (in fact no money at all).

Here are a few more reasons to doubt he has money, serious money

— How come he doesn’t have a driver and another car?  If he had, his driver could have driven his Porsche to the service centre; or picked him up after he drove his Porsche to the service centre? To be fair maybe Bernice was using said car and driver.

— How come he doesn’t have another car? Bernice could have picked him up to spare him the indignity of using the MRT before going shop as any Tai Tai would. Maybe she was busy?

— But then why didn’t he take a taxi after leaving his car at the service station?

— My friends in the PR industry tell me that the PR that sent out his first apology is a very small firm. So why did he use a small firm, and not one of the big name PR firms? Incidentally, the same friends have also slimed the first apology saying that he should have offered to do community service in it. It was also so badly drafted that even that our pet-loving minister said “He has attempted to apologise to Singaporeans. But some feel that the manner of his apology showed a lack of sincerity. And I think there is some basis for thinking that.”

But I’ll give the PR firm the benefit of the doubt because having worked in PR for a yr for my sins, I know that clients are often unwilling to listen to the advice they are given.

— Why Perth? Surely, there are more exotic locations than Perth he can go to or where he has property?

Curiouser and curiouser.

So maybe his outburst of sneering at “poor” SMRT-taking S’poreans was because he was frus that he wasn’t able to keep Bernice Wong in the style she was accustomed to and expected to live in, as a ex-beauty queen? Porsche and Sentosa Cove not posh enough for her**?

After all: £1m – £2m ($1.53 million – $3 million) The comfortable poor
£3m – £4m The comfortably off
£5m – £4m The comfortably wealthy
£16m – £39m The lesser rich
£40m – £74m The comfortably rich
£75m – £99m The rich
£100m – £199m The seriously rich
£200m – £399m The truly rich
£400m – £999m The filthy rich
Over £1bn The super rich

(From a TRS comment)

BTW, after the hols, I’ll write why PAPpies and kind-hearted S’poreans (not all ang moh or FTs tua kees) are wrong in saying that we should forgive and forget? Does one ask a hurricane to forgive and forget those who build houses in its path?

*Or maybe he lying about receiving threats and being afraid? We only have his word that he received threats.

**OK, OK, I’m so unfair to her. She stood by her man to the extent of travelling economy-class with him.

EPL vote buying?

In Footie, Political governance, Public Administration on 28/01/2014 at 5:53 am

(Or How PAP is connecting with S’poreans without the anti-PAP paper warriors noticing)

Football fans on Saturday evening indulged in free screenings of the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at community clubs across Singapore.

At Yio Chu Kang Community Club, some 20 fans turned up at the beginning of the match at 8.45pm.

More spectators gradually streamed in as the match progressed.

It seemed residents simply relished the chance to catch the game without having to pay anything.

One of the spectators said: “It’s because of the ridiculously expensive prices that one has to pay to watch English football these days and I also have a bit of time to kill.”

The screening of the match was opportunity to build communal bonds through the platform of shared spectatorship.(CNA three/ Sundays ago)

Err more like trying to tell people that find it expensive to subscribe to SingTel’s EPL package that the PA PAP are making sure that the high cost of watching EPL is mitigated, and come GE2015/2016, vote PAP.

All those TRE and TOC reaaders, and other anti-PAP paper activists be frustrated, very frustrated. Soon, the clubs will be showing games when United, Sity, Gooners and Chelsea play one another, not juz uninteresting games.

But if not for me, our intellectual paper warriors would be clueless on this PAP move (has anyone blogged or commented on this piece of news?. The said kay pohs (and their readership in TRE, TOC) don’t watch footie, and are still fighting GE 2011. Guys, the PAP is moving on for GE 2015.

The new approach is to show voters the PAP cares: even in WP areas http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/pa-reaches-out-wp-wards-17-projects.

Wonder if SingTel will allow the WP town council to screen such matches too, or only restricted to PAP PA venues? Sadly WP MPs won’t even bother asking: too busy looking at their bank statements. They too wear white.

But all is not lost. The usual tua kee blogging suspects should remind S’poreans that watching EPL is expensibe ’cause

— two TLCs (SingTel and StarHub) out into a bidding war for the EPL rights;

— the PAP’s govt competition rules made this possible, may inevitable. Tot competition riles were to keep prices down?

Another reason why SMRT sucks

In Infrastructure on 27/01/2014 at 4:27 am

Last Monday, I made one of my irregular trips on the MRT. I entered Eunos Stn in the late morning and one of the escaltors was closed “for maintenance”. I returned home via another route partly to avoid walking down the stairs on the return journey

Last Friday, I again took the MRT from Eunos Stn. Guess what? The escalator was still closed for “for maintenance”. When I made the return trip (wanted to eat at a great but expensive Malay food stall at Eunos Hawkers’ centre: stall always asking why I don’t eat more regularly and I explain to them I don’t use the MRT that often), several hours later, the escalator was still not working.

Err how to expect train services not to be disrupted (five already this yr according to TRE*) if cannot even repair or service escalator within five days? But to be fair, maybe engineers too busy repairing tracks etc to bother about escalator. Got to prioritise everything, according to jnr tpt minister Jos Teo.

I will have to again use the MRT from Eunos this Wednesday and then the following Monday (yah lot of travelling these few weeks: pushing my luck leh), and I’ll keep readers informed.

Meanwhile, avoid the stock. It’s going to take huge fare rises to make it a gd dividend yielding stock again because it needs to spend more, a lot more to get (and then keep) the trains running on time. With an election likely in 2015, these fare increases are unlikely https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/why-a-2015-ge-is-now-more-probable/

Meanwhile, I wish MRT users a disruption free day, though the odds are rising against this probability.

Thinking about it, SMRT may have closed one of the Eunos escalators to save money as per this story about the London MRT (tube) system.

Green Park is one of the busiest tube stations in London. It has three escalators to the station concourse from the Piccadilly line, which serves not just London commuters but international businessmen and tourists travelling to and from Heathrow. Yet routinely one is closed at peak times.

The reason? According to station staff Green Park has been set energy targets and this is the way that it is meeting them.

So, in order to meet this energy-saving goal, the London Underground is prepared to cause unnecessary delays to passengers, even though time-saving for passengers is always a crucial element in any evaluation of a transport project. It is also prepared to create potential dangers to public safety as bunching occurs while people wait for the only up escalator that is operating. And as that happens another escalator stands idle, with the big investment that has been made in it in effect written off.

What folly. Whether or not this is intended by the top brass at Transport for London is unclear. But this is what happens when stupid objectives are set and managers are either pressured into meeting them come what may or follow them without paying heed to their primary responsibility, which in the case of a tube station is to convey passengers as swiftly and as safely as possible to and from the trains. (http://www.economist.com/blogs/blighty/2014/01/trouble-targets)

Hmm, thinking about it, the setting of stupid objectives, and why the absence of the profit-motive when providing public services (like transport) is not a gd idea, may be the subject of posts after the CNY hols. Must try to stop writing about ang moh tua kee Bernice Wong and her masculine, not sheltered, babyed & childish (so unlike local boyars) hubbie, Anton Casey.

*Or is it four http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/01/26/smrt-5th-smrt-breakdown-not-a-breakdown/ (Updated one hour after first publication)

“Mummy, flying economy is worse than taking the MRT!”

In Humour on 26/01/2014 at 5:02 am

” Shouldn’t we be travelling apart from ordinary S’poreans?”

“Baby, I don’t know what to say. Anton, why liddat leh? Where’s the private jet?”

“Darlin’, pls don’t shout at me. I lost my job.”

“Daddy doesn’t have money, Mummy? I got to take the MRT, not sit in the Porsche?”

“Anton, you poor now?”

“Don’t be liddat, Ms Gold Digger 1959.”

“I should have married Ah Beng not ang moh.”

Forgive me but the above conversation (imaginary of course between Bernice Wong and her son and her hubbie) wickedly came to mind when I read in ST that he he and his family flew to Perth on an economy-class SIA flight.

I don’t know about you but I find travelling economy-class for any more than a two hour flight really uncomfortable.  Thankfully, I don’t care for jetting round the world. Otherwise I’d have to speculate or go back to work to make some serious money to afford airfares. Nowadays, even choping a seat in economy class beside the cabin doors costs extra.

Seriously, if he is as rich as he implied, what with his sneers at S’poreans travelling on the MRT, why isn’t he and his family travelling biz or first class? Especially as there are two very good reason to do so this time: security and the absence of publicity. Airlines guard jealously the privacy of premium class passengers. He can’t be genuine about being afraid of his security, can he? Travelling economy-class, where the MRT-travelling S’poreans also travel.

Another reason to doubt that that he is that wealthy is that he is only offering to do community service, not donating serious money and do community service. To donate  money only would be bad PR: “Trying to buy yr way out? Why liddat?”) (Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/talk-is-cheap-anton-casey-show-us-youre-sorry/)

Finally, if he is that rich, why isn’t he using one of big law firms in the Raffles Place, Marina Bay area? His lawyers are based in heartlander Toa Payoh. The expat lady that had Tammy put down is using a big name legal firm to defend her.

BTW, notice how sympathetic the ST story is to him? Hey ST, he wronged us. Or ST agrees with this guy that S’poreans are wrong, not Anton Casey? Bit like William Wan, the general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement whose patrons according to TRE “is PM Lee Hsien Loong and its adviser is Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth”. He seems to be blaming S’poreans, not Anton Casey, for the row. Maybe someone should remind William Wan that Anton Casey has apologised, and telling us that he wronged S’poreans. Sometimes this PAPpish attitude of “S’poreans always daft, always wrong” goes too far?

What do you think?

To end here some great views from the Guardian’s blog reporting the “bullying of Anton Casey” as William Wan seems to put it:

— You have the freedom to poke at a wasp nest. Later, you end up at a hospital. Did you deserve it? No. But did you ask for it? YES!

— I will rather think whom ever poke at a wasp nest, did ask for it and deserve whatever the end result of their FUN is!!

http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2014/jan/23/daddy-poor-people-anton-casey-facebook-comments-singapore#comment-31119883. Read it to see another lighthearted take on the matter.

S’pore’s & other Asean’s currencies undervalued

In Currencies on 25/01/2014 at 4:34 am

All the Asean’s currencies are undervalued in purchase-parity terms vis-a-vis the US$. http://www.economist.com/content/big-mac-index

But the S$ is the least undervalued .i.e. its the strongest Asean currency. So if S’pore raises interest rates as TRE posters are calling, money will flood in from the other currencies.  And property prices will fly and the economy tank as exports will be uncompetitive. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/tre-readers-are-illiterate-in-economics-and-finance/

Why Thai politics is broken: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/01/economist-explains-13

Indonesia’s most popular politician in the yr of presidential elections: http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/01/indonesias-most-popular-politician

The problems facing the PM of Cambodia (BTW, he admires one Harry Lee): http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/01/future-democracy-cambodia

Bernice Wong: Anton’s masculine, not sheltered, babyed & childish

In Humour on 23/01/2014 at 1:44 pm

Not like locals. (But let’s be fair, she implied this in 2010).

But before going into the details, a few things to clear up.

First an apology from me. Scumbag Anton Casey is not working for HSBC but for Crossinvest. Sorry for my mistake: it was an honest mistake.

I’m very certain, he will be moving on from Crossinvest given that: The Company was created out of a Swiss single family office with almost three decades of leading experience and presence in Switzerland. We operate based on the finest Swiss Private banking traditions. 

Well among the finest Swiss Private banking traditions are

– discretion; and.

– operating in the shadows, leaving no fingerprints behind.

Don’t see Casey meeting these standards. Besides, In a statement, Managing director Christophe Audergon said: “Crossinvest does not condone the comments. We believe they were made in poor taste.” (Update on 25 January 2014 juzt before midnight: he got fired. TRE’s take)

Now that I’ve apologised, on to what he should do to prove to S’poreans that he is genuinely sorry for what he did, before talking about wifey’s comments on why she wanted an ang moh man.

Talk is cheap Anton Casey; Show us you’re sorry. Dob’t talk cock, sing song like the S’poreans you say you respect. ST editor turned Jedi (apparently: ever tot she Trojan horse?) has a list of things he could do to prove he is sorry.,

I got only one suggestion on the premise that money talks, BS walks.

In Christianity, Islam and Judaism, there is a tradition of donating 10% of one’s worldly goods* to charity (OK, to be precise “gd works”) to show that one is a gd Christian, Jew or Muslim*. So in that spirit, he should donate 10% of his worldly assets to charity or to TRE or any combination thereof. So if he is worth $10m dollars (after all being a millionaire is nothing here: think of all those S’poreans with landed property or even HDB flats that have paid off all or most of their mortgages), he should offer $1m to TRE.

Somehow, I think this FT where the T stands for Trash, isn’t really that sorry enough to spend any money doing gd to show he is sorry (though he sp4ends money on PR and lawyers).. I doubt Ms Bernice Wong would be impressed if he was sorry enough to lose 10% of his assets. As it is she has to live with the following comments (now deeply mortifying for her) on why for her ang moh is tua kee

‘I have never been able to click with local guys. Somehow, our personalities don’t match up.

‘I will say that the local guys I’ve met are pretty sheltered. I’d like them to be more masculine, not so ‘baby-ed’ and less childish.’ http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/01/20/briton-belittles-people-taking-public-transport/

I mean who’s sheltered, babyed and childish? And is it masculine to have no balls to stand up for what one says? A real man would say, “I stand by what I said, and I will accept the consequences. Wanna fight?” He wouldn’t make police reports or wimp out by metaphorically getting on his knees and asking for forgiveness.

Finally, wonder what his in-laws think about the video which seems to insult us slit-eyes. This is what someone posted on Facebook: For all those who are not aware, his son is making the ‘chinky Asian’ face where in the West, if they want to mock Asians, they make this face- it’s called the chinky face, where you narrow your eyes to a slit and make buck teeth. That’s what the kid was doing, throughout the entire time in the video.

Here’s a screenshot of the end of the video. Look at the face he (Anton) made- especially, if you run the video, you’d see he deliberately made the ‘buck teeth’ face. It’s obvious he instructed the kid to do that all the 14 secs of the video. So he has also encouraged his son to do it, because if you look at the other pics that are online of his son, his face isn’t like that. Look at both the kid’s eyes and mouth in the whole video, and you’d know what type of face he was making …

Why avoid Genting S’pore

In Casinos on 23/01/2014 at 4:32 am

In 2010, I wrote

The junket rules that the authorities are likely to introduce will mean a slow start for VIP (high roller) volumes at Genting Singapore, at least in the short term. The Genting gp, I understand, has always believed junket operators are the key to its VIP segment.

So the VIP gaming volumes at Sentosa will take time build up. Note that the preference for using junket operators for the VIP segment reflects the more conservative nature of the Genting gp. Bad debts are the responsibility of the operators, not the casino. In return, the operators get a bigger share of the gamblers’ spending. (https://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/genting-spore-did-you-know/)

(Or “Money laundering, casinos and junket operators”)

Genting S’pore has been missing its forecasts for some time and is no longer a favourite.

Looks like it has a problem building up its high roller biz without the help of the junket operators.

Here’s how the junket operators operator in Macau and why S’pore cannot afford to have them (emphasis is mine):

Junkets are nearly impossible to regulate: in private rooms several floors above the hordes of tourists, top clients continue to spend millions of pounds in off-the-record bets.

“Junkets are legitimate agents in Macau’s casino system,” said Philippa Symington of FTI Consulting’s Shanghai office and the author of a recent report on money laundering in Macau.

 “Their activities can stray into criminal territory. This can range from working around occasional loose regulations – for example, enabling players to avoid identification – to relying on organised crime groups to collect gambling debts.”

In some ways, money laundering is to Macau what corruption is to mainland China – ubiquitous, yet impossible to eradicate without undermining the entire economy.

China restricts the amount of money its citizens can carry abroad to about £2,000 per trip and £30,000 over a year. Macau appeals to wealthy mainlanders who, fearing scrutiny and volatility at home, may want to funnel their fortunes into overseas property markets and bank accounts.

Junkets take advance payments on the mainland and offer easy credit across the border, allowing clients to far exceed Beijing’s limits. Streets near major casinos are lined with brightly lit pawn shops selling shrink-wrapped luxury watches for thousands of pounds, which punters from the mainland buy on credit and immediately return for cash.

The 2013 annual report from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, a US government agency, quoted an anonymous academic as saying: “Each year, $202bn in ill-gotten funds are channelled through Macau.”

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/05/macau-gambling-tourism-money-laundering

Open letter to HSBC S’pore on Anton Casey

In Banks on 22/01/2014 at 6:58 am

(Update on 23 January 2014: TOC has confirmed that his present employer is Crossinvest*: Mr Casey’s firm Crossinvest Asia is investigating his comments and is set to take “appropriate action” once the review is completed, British newspaper, The Independent reported.

In a statement, Managing director Christophe Audergon said: “Crossinvest does not condone the comments. We believe they were made in poor taste.”

I’m very certain, he will be moving on from Crossinvest given that: The Company was created out of a Swiss single family office with almost three decades of leading experience and presence in Switzerland. We operate based on the finest Swiss Private banking traditions. 

Well among the finest Swiss Private banking traditions are

— discretion; and.

— operating in the shadows, leaving no fingerprints behind.

Don’t see Casey meeting these standards.

As to my thinking he worked at HSBC, it was an honest mistake.)

Dear Sirs,

I am a long-time shareholder (since 1984) and a client (since 1981), and am someone who has had friends working there: locals and international officers, and am writing this letter more in sorrow than anger.

I hope HSBC does the right thing by S’poreans especially its local customers, and moves on the FT (where T stands for Trash not Talent) by the name of Anton Casey out of the bank. His so-called attempt at humour does not reflect well on the bank because he is holding a senior position in wealth management.

One would be reasonable in wondering of the quality and discretion of HSBC’s management when such a senior executive exercises such an appalling lack of judgement and sensitivity.  Especially since HSBC prides itself on being the “global local bank”.

His behaviour also insults the international officers. I knew and worked with a few of them in the early 1980s on various projects. They were all minor public school boys who would never ever stoop to such insulting behaviour which they would have rightly called ‘hooliganish” and “racist”.

HSBC has always had a tradition of good customer service: it even built larger-than-usual cashier windows in Mexican branches to get more notes through, making it easier for the drug barons to deposit cash.https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/hsbc-returned-to-roots/

So in the spirit of serving the customer and being the “global local bank”, move him out of the bank. His apology should not excuse his most unbecoming behaviour.

Yours faithfully,

CI aka E.K. Tan

RHB Capital says S’pore is gd place to expand

In Banks, Economy, Malaysia on 22/01/2014 at 4:40 am

So gd, that RHB Bank S’pore expects to triple profit by 2016.

RHB Bank will aggressively expand its Singapore business by three-fold within the next two years, by focusing on the small and medium enterprise business, wealth management as well as corporate and investment banking.

To meet the increased business needs, RHB Bank Singapore will be doubling its staff strength from the current 500 to 1000, the bank said Thursday.

The aggressive expansion in Singapore is part of the group’s regional strategy, said to U Chen Hock, director of group international business at RHB Banking Grou… the official opening of RHB’s latest branch in Westgate Mall in East Jurong. . (Last week’s BT)

Maybe RHB’s mgt doesn’t read a certain Forbes contributor (no not refering to one LKY), or TRE readers’ comments on S’pore’s prospects or that  more than 90% of the Marina Bay Suites are unoccupied: only 20 of the 221 units at the 66-storey tower are occupied. . But I do know that the RHB research institute has a well respected economist.

IE S’pore & Jos’ point about perfection

In Economy, Humour on 21/01/2014 at 5:24 am

Readers will know that I recently commented (here and here) on Jos Teo’s tots as articulated to ST: comments that have annoyed netizens no end. Juz read the comments posted by TRE readers grumbling that she gets so many things so wrong. “We cannot have the attitude that everything will be perfect from Day One. If we go in with that attitude, it can only mean that we have to build in a lot of redundancy, in particular came in for a lot of flak.

Well getting things wrong also seems to apply to her hubbie’s organisation (According to ST,”Her husband, Mr Teo Eng Cheong, is chief executive officer of IE Singapore …”)

IE S’pore has goofed big time. according to a BT report dated 18 January 2014:

ERRORS in trade data collection meant that International Enterprise (IE) Singapore wrongly reported two months of exports data, with possible implications for fourth-quarter GDP estimates.

October 2013’s non-oil domestic exports (NODX) was said to have grown 2.8 per cent, when in fact it had shrunk 2.7 per cent. Data for September was also overstated – NODX was initially said to have shrunk 1.2 per cent when the actual contraction was a larger 2 per cent – due to the “multiple counting of some trade permits”.

As trade data for both months have been corrected downwards, total trade and NODX for the full year 2013 will now come in lower than expected, IE said in an annex to its trade report for December, released yesterday.

IE will only announce Singapore’s full-year trade data next month, but UOB economist Francis Tan estimates that full-year NODX would have dropped 5.4 per cent, taking September and October’s erroneous figures, but could now fall a sharper 6 per cent. Both are worse than IE’s forecast of a NODX contraction of 4 to 5 per cent for 2013, last revised down in November.

It was an honest mistake. Maybe it was also example of what Jos Teo said, “We cannot have the attitude that everything will be perfect from Day One. If we go in with that attitude, it can only mean that we have to build in a lot of redundancy.

BT wrote: IE said yesterday that the errors were traced back to changes to a trade declaration system known as Access, which is used by four air express companies to declare their consolidated imports and exports. In August last year, changes were made to this system to allow the companies to make amendments to their trade permit records, such as flight details.

However, all amended permits were counted as new ones when transmitted from the Access system to the Singapore Customs’ Trade Statistics System, and then to IE Singapore. In nominal terms, the counting errors meant a difference between an originally tabulated NODX value of $15.599 billion for October, and a corrected value of $14.757 billion.

In response to BT’s queries, IE explained that the over-reporting was not immediately apparent as the values of the individual records still fell within the expected range. “When unusually large numbers were picked up, IE Singapore worked with Singapore Customs immediately to investigate and rectify the issue,” IE said.

For trade data, Singapore Customs conducts selective checks of trade permits against the commercial documents to verify the accuracy of data submitted by traders. “IE Singapore also conducts checks on a monthly basis to track trends based on the value of goods and large ticket items. Export and import categories with significant data swings will be picked up for further verification and analysis in consultation with Singapore Customs,”  …

One economist is annoyed:

DBS economist Irvin Seah thinks internal processes need to be tightened when it comes to collecting official data. “We have seen quite significant revisions, not just in NODX, but also in the advanced GDP estimates. Whether these are estimates or actual figures, there ought to be as little revision as possible. These numbers are important to everyone who wants a good gauge of where the economy is going, not just economists,” he said.

But another was relaxed,“no great damage was done”, said Barclays economist Joey Chew. “After all, the October red herring of a recovery was quickly refuted the very next month when November exports fell sharply, indicating that Singapore exports are clearly not yet out of the woods. The continued slump in electronics in December further confirmed that,” she said.

Whatever it is, S’pore’s reputation remains intact according to BT (But it would say that wouldn’t it?)

As for whether these errors undermine the reliability of Singapore’s statistics, Credit Suisse economist Michael Wan said that he sees them as inherent to the “messy affair” of collecting data. “I don’t think it raises questions about the integrity of Singapore’s statistical collection fundamentally. It’s always an ongoing affair to reduce the number of errors,” he said.

UOB’s Mr Tan said: “The good thing is that they are at least signalling that they are doing the right thing, by coming out and correcting the errors.”

A couple of errors ought not to affect credibility, said Barclays’ Ms Chew. “Especially if the errors are due to technological problems rather than data collection issues, or people gaming the system – for example Chinese exporters reporting fake trade.”

But IE S’pore should not be complacent: Barclay’s Ms Chew does have other issues to raise about Singapore’s data though. “First, the timeliness. We are one of the last to report CPI (consumer price index) in the region, and I don’t understand why. Also, IE Singapore does not release a lot of the export data they collect.”

Jos and hubby should be hoping that the recent bad publicity is part of the karma of the year of the Goat, not the karma for 2014. If the latter, expect more to hear more nad publicity from Jos and IE S’pore?

A PAP MP on the need to lose dignity to get $50 vouchers

In Political governance on 20/01/2014 at 5:00 am

Last year, the Fare Review Mechanism Committee (FRMC), among other things, proposed that public transport operators be required to contribute to the Public Transport Fund to help needy households when fares are adjusted, as a way of “sharing” their gains with commuters, it said. This could range from 20% t to 50% of the expected increase in fare revenue, depending on profitability, Presumably it would then issue vouchers for distribution to the needy poor.

I was reminded of  the proposal when I read, The thing is, the G talks about public transport vouchers again. Now if I remember correctly, hundreds of vouchers in the past hadn’t even been taken up…Either people really don’t need them – or there wasn’t a good plan to get them to the needy. Perhaps, that should be fixed first. http://berthahenson.wordpress.com/2014/

The proposed fund in turn reminded me that one Charles Chong in the  early noughtie said the needy should be made to lose their dignity to get $50 help vouchers.

This is what I posted in 2011

I hear Charles Chong will speak in parliament tomorrow. Doubtless he will talk about helping the needy*. It’s the in- thing in the PAP to want to help the needy. (This is of progress of sorts. Only recently, Lily Neo was berated and sneered at by VivianB for asking for more help for the poor. When that happened, I tot of Oliver Twist asking for more food and being beaten for his pains.)

But I would like to ask Charles Chong, “Must a needy S’porean still lose his dignity for a $30 voucher?”.

Let me explain the background by winding the watch back some years.

In the early noughties, when S’pore was in a recession or recovering from one, one Charles Chong said, “We shouldn’t…be telling everyone that there’s this help available. It’s quite a process to go through to get the vouchers. A person with dignity won’t do it unless he’s in genuine trouble.” Charles Chong was explaining his (and some other PAP MPs’) reluctance to distribute free electricity vouchers on the ground that giving these to the needy would create a culture of dependence.

After reading this remark, I began to have serious problems with the attitude of the governing party. (Previously I had been indifferent to the PAP, even though before 1991, I was a “LKY is almost always right” and “LKY has his heart in the right place” person.)

This remark of Charles Chong also prompted a writer to MediaCorp’s freesheet to ask,”Can a Singaporean no longer lend a hand … without being accused of encouraging a crutch mentality? Aren’t we allowed to feel compassion for another? …cannot use for any other purpose except to pay your utility bill. There is no need to make people beg for that.”

I don’t recall the government or Charles Chong responding to this letter …

(https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/question-for-charles-chong/)

Will Kee Cui tell us that the PAP govt repudiate such an attitude today? Will Charles Chong say “It was an honest mistake?”.

For the record, Charles Chong is my MP. As readers will know, I’ve always voted WP all my life. But even if JJ stands for the WP, I’m likely to be on hols next GE. Charles Chong and the WP makes me want to puke**. My wish i9s that the SDP stands in Joo Chiat in place of WP, with JJ as its candidate. Yah, I typival S’porean: want cake and eat it too, all of it.

Let’s not be fooled into believing that the PM, cabinet ministers,  and PAP and WP MPs and  get out of bed in the morning to help the working poor. I would exempt Lily Neo and Halimah Yaacob and possibly Kee Chui from the last sentence.

Maybe, anti-PAP paper activists including readers of TOC and TRE should remind Charles Chong and voters that he said,“We shouldn’t…be telling everyone that there’s this help available. It’s quite a process to go through to get the vouchers. A person with dignity won’t do it unless he’s in genuine trouble.”

If this turned me against the PAP’s policies, it might turn others too. Or remind wavering anti-PAP S’poreans why they are right not to trust the PAP.

—-

*He did. speak of helping the needy. Funnily he didn’t say that they should be made to crawl on their knees to get help. But then he only won by 300 votes in GE2011, and the PAP only got 60% of the popular vote.

**In its election manifesto WP called for public tpt nationalisation, something Low reaffirmed after the Punggol East victory. Now, “The WP believes that public transport should be provided as a public good and not for profit” And if we help it be a kingmaker in the next GE. will it play us out and support the PAP, Hard Truths and all? Remember PritamS’s comments on coalition with the PAP juz after the voters of Aljunied gave WP a gd majority. He slapped us in the face, not the PAP, driver. Low only slapped Singh’s wrist.

S’poreans own Iskandar

In Malaysia on 19/01/2014 at 4:47 am

Yesterday’s ST carried pages and pages of ads for a project in IskandarLand.

This reminded of a BT story earlier this yr which reported:Singaporeans make up a hefty 74 per cent of foreigners who have snapped up its properties – a figure that surpasses all the other foreign buyers combined.

Looks like the developers want even more S’poreans. Remember the previous Sultan warned about foreigners taking over Johor when IskandarLand was proposed many yrs ago?

Might as well send SAF over? I’m sure the DAP MP there would have no objection. His heloo is one LKY. When his son became Penang’s chief minister, son made a trip to S’pore to see LKY and son.

Oh and without us, Iskandar would be a ghost town like this in China:

One could well surmise that the year 2013 was when Iskandar Malaysia – the country’s first economic growth corridor – finally came of age in a big way.
The mega-project, which turned seven last November, reported some encouraging numbers as far as its investments were concerned, although some investors are treading with caution after the government announced measures to cool speculation in the region’s red-hot property market.
Iskandar Malaysia, a 2,217 sq km region in southern Johor, is three times the size of neighbouring Singapore.
As at Oct 31 last year, Iskandar Malaysia had attracted RM129.4 billion (S$49.8 billion) in committed investments – 44 per cent of which has been realised so far – putting it on track to meet its lofty targets of RM383 billion by 2025 and GDP of US$93.3 billion.
This goal, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in a recent speech, must be achieved in order to transform Iskandar into an international metropolis.
Ismail Ibrahim, chief executive of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), expects Iskandar Malaysia to secure RM22 billion in investments this year, beating the RM21 billion in 2013.
Singapore is still by far the biggest investor in Iskandar Malaysia, accounting for 16 per cent of its total foreign investment as at June last year.
Singaporeans from all walks of life are sitting up and taking notice of developments up north, their curiosity piqued after several household names in the Singapore corporate scene pumped big money into Iskandar Malaysia – a telling sign of the level of confidence in the project’s staying power and viability.
Last February, Temasek Holdings and CapitaLand signed a deal with Iskandar Waterfront Holdings to build a S$3.2 billion township in Danga Bay, featuring luxury condominiums, shopping malls and bungalows.
Temasek and its Malaysian counterpart, Khazanah Nasional, are also jointly developing two wellness projects in Medini with a total development gross value of RM5.2 billion.
Medini is a mixed-use urban development that will feature a lifestyle and leisure cluster, a logistics village, a creative park and an international financial district, among others.
Many other Singapore firms are also striking while the iron is still hot. Last month, Iskandar Waterfront Holdings sold 15 ha of seafront land in Danga Bay for RM1.6 billion to Hao Yuan Investment, which is planning a RM8 billion development featuring, among others, peninsula Malaysia’s tallest tower.
In October 2013, Singapore billionaire and former remisier king Peter Lim unveiled plans for his RM5.5 billion Vantage Bay project that will include twin towers and is set to become one of the tallest condominiums in Malaysia.
But it is Iskandar’s property market that is getting the most attention, especially from Singapore-based investors.
According to developer UEM Sunrise, Singaporeans make up a hefty 74 per cent of foreigners who have snapped up its properties – a figure that surpasses all the other foreign buyers combined.
Most of these Singaporeans are people who either travel to Johor often for business or those who want a weekend home, according to UEM Sunrise CEO Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim.
UEM Sunrise is the master developer of Nusajaya, which is Iskandar Malaysia’s administrative capital and billed as the region’s crown jewel.
Overall, the greater number of investors flocking to Iskandar Malaysia has helped push home prices up considerably. The cost of bungalows at UEM’s East Ledang development, for instance, has surged 44 per cent on average in the resale market since 2011.

Interestingly the BT story played down the problems that developers and potential buyers are facing regarding the new rules for foreigners.. ST says, DEVELOPERS in Malaysia’s red-hot development region Iskandar are still struggling to understand the country’s new property curbs, some three months after they surprised the market.

They are not the only ones. Phones have been ringing off the hook at the sales offices of some popular property projects.

Potential buyers, particularly foreigners, have been desperate to seek clarity on how the new rules affect them or if they do.

“We were given sketchy guidelines on the new rules with lots of disclaimers, which means many of these rules are still being tweaked,” said an executive from a firm with a major development in booming Iskandar, three times the size of Singapore.

.BT says:

But Malaysia is taking steps to prevent its own real estate inflation from emerging as well as appeasing locals who complain that they can barely afford to own a home.
In his Budget speech last October, Mr Najib – who is also the co-chairman of IRDA – doubled the minimum amount foreigners must spend on property and raised the capital gains tax to 30 per cent on homes they sell within five years.
Just how these latest rulings will impact the property market in Iskandar Malaysia remains to be seen, especially coupled with Johor’s decision to impose a new tax of 4 to 5 per cent on foreigners who buy property – both commercial and residential – in the state to curb speculative fervour.This is a big step up from the current rules which require foreigners to pay a one-off fee of RM10,000 regardless of the property’s value.

BT keeps on plugging Medini:
Medini, meanwhile, could be seeing more investment in the coming years, with the zone exempt from the higher 30 per cent property gains tax.
In fact, Medini – home to a new Legoland theme park and hotel, and Britain’s famous Pinewood Studios – has been exempt from property gains taxes since day one as part of the plan by IRDA to drive more investments there.
Looking ahead, the year 2014 could prove to be an even more monumental one for Iskandar Malaysia, should two major initial public offerings (IPO) be launched as planned.
Medini is looking to raise some RM2.5 billion when it eventually goes public. Iskandar Waterfront Holdings, meanwhile, was on track for a US$300 million IPO in the first quarter of this year, but has since delayed it to the end of 2014 to gauge the impact of the numerous property cooling measures.
From the government’s perspective, it will do all it can to ensure Iskandar Malaysia remains vibrant and attractive to both local and foreign investors, Mr Najib said last month.
“The federal government is committed to ensuring the success of Iskandar Malaysia and we are working with the Johor government, the private and public sectors, and the people of Johor to ensure the economic region’s growth,” he said.
“It is vital to ensure that projects are successfully completed on time and within budget to build investor and public confidence in Iskandar Malaysia and attract more investments. This will generate a momentum that will bring about multiplier effects and sustainable economic activities,” he said.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/what-a-4-room-hdb-flat-buys-in-iskandar-kl/

Intellectual netizen hero critiques doom monger & govt policy

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Property on 18/01/2014 at 4:56 am

(Or “Are S’pore & other major Asean economies are doomed?)

Even though Singapore is no longer an emerging market nation, I consider its bubble economy to be part of the overall emerging markets bubble that I have been warning about due to its strategic role and location in Southeast Asia, which is also known as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). My recent reports on Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia show that the entire region is caught up in a massive bubble, and Singapore is benefiting from this bubble by acting as ASEAN’s financial center.

(http://www.forbes.com/sites/jessecolombo/2014/01/13/why-singapores-economy-is-heading-for-an-iceland-style-meltdown)

This piece and its sequel have been well publicised, and the central babk has critiqued the first piece (It would wouldn’t it?)

Readers may recall that Donald Low is a scholar who has liberal viewers despite being the Associate Dean (Executive Education and Research) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He served fifteen years in the Singapore government and I’ve been told he was one of the fathers of Workfare (a scheme I support though I think it’s too mean). He critiqued the article on Facebook as regards S’pore. I’ve paragraphed hos comments to make it easier on the eye:

Donald Low’s FC

There’s a Forbes article on an impending crash in Singapore circulating widely on FB. I won’t dignify it by posting it but here are my thoughts about it: I read the article a while ago and wasn’t at all convinced with his line of argument. It’s just far too sweeping.

Above all, if you look at the usual triggers of financial crises, they are mostly non-existent in Singapore. We don’t have a large current account deficit – on the contrary, we have a huge current account surplus. We don’t have a large fiscal deficit – we run structural budget surpluses. And we don’t have an highly leveraged/indebted household or corporate sector.

On his point about a housing bubble in Singapore fueled by low interest rates, he is partially correct. But to claim that we are on the verge of financial collapse on account of that is utter nonsense. Our leverage ratios are still healthy and I suspect a large part of the run-up in housing prices in recent years is inadequate supply – a problem which has now been largely corrected. Will we see house prices fall this year? Yes, quite possibly. My guess is 10% but even if house prices were to fall 20%, I don’t think it will impact the health of our banks or even our households. There will be households that have negative equity, but as long as they have the cash flow to service their mortgages, it will not precipitate a financial crash.

But there is one argument from the article that is worth highlighting and which I mostly agree with. And that is booms which are led by real estate development and the financial sector are mostly illusory. They create the impression of economic dynamism without creating any real productive capacity in the economy (think back to Bangkok, KL and Jakarta just before the Asian crisis). They also distort and re-direct resources away from productive activities. Real estate and finance are inherently distributive, not creative, activities – they move money and wealth around, but they don’t produce any productive capacity and technological capabilities for the economy.

So when I argue that the Singapore government should look not just at the quantity of growth, but also the quality of growth, I have in mind not just equity and distributional considerations, but also the composition of growth. Is the growth coming from manufacturing and high value-added services, or is it dominated by real estate and finance? If it’s the latter, we have a structural problem.

Finally, I would also highlight that what this article reveals is the failure of government efforts to attract high net worth individuals to Singapore, to make Singapore a wealth management hub for the rich, and to bring in more billionaires even if they increase inequality. I think the costs to the economy and society of such efforts far outweigh their benefits. What productive capacity do property speculators and HNWIs who park their monies in Singapore help to create? So yes, we get a tiny wealth management industry that employs a few thousand people and manages several billion dollars. We can easily do without these ‘benefits’. Meanwhile, their costs in terms of raising property prices, the competition they create for positional goods, and their ostentatious lifestyles undermine our egalitarian norms and values. They also reduce the trust and mutual regard citizens have for one another, undermining their willingness to contribute to more redistribution. All in, I would say that the efforts to attract rich foreigners to Singapore are incredibly misguided.

Jos double confirms that govt doesn’t plan for S’poreans

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 17/01/2014 at 4:44 am

A TOC reader highlighted this bit of ST’s interview with Talk Cock Queen Jos http://www.singapolitics.sg/supperclub/josephine-teo-%E2%80%98free-mrt-rides-has-allowed-lifestyle-change%E2%80%99

Q: You lead the committee for Changi Airport’s expansion. Is it expanding fast enough? Our aviation correspondent said given the projections, Changi Airport could be operating at more than 90 per cent capacity (in the few years before Terminal 5 opens).

A:We’re still building ahead of demand. When you plan airport handling capacity, you also plan with a service standard in mind.>

The person then commented: “Apparently, there’s no need to build ahead of demand for housing, local tpt & medical needs (remember the hospital crunch) OR is it NEW PAP don’t plan with a service standard in mind> when it comes to population needs?”

For the record, I had blogged in 2012  about the lack of planning when it came to immigration

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/integrating-fts-its-our-problem-now-contd/

and in 2011 on the difference between the difference approaches taken as regards the airport and public tpt https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/why-are-trains-overcrowded-but-not-the-port-or-airport/

PM should give her another tight slap for spilling for double confirming that PAP thinks we are “second class”, not “first class” like foreigners even though 60-70% of S’porean voters support the PAP.

Taz in addition to insulting his dad.

BTW, I hope readers noticed that LTA gave her (its boss, remember she senior jnr transport minister) a hard kick in her behind. In the above link, I said she refused to concede that inadequate signage contributed to the congestion on the MCE (and bad PR for the govt). Yesterday it was reported: “Two weeks after the opening of the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday acknowledged it could have done more in terms of pre-publicity and putting up more signs to get motorists familiar with the new expressway and the surrounding road network.” (Today)

Hey PM, even her subordinates getting annoyed with this NUT NTUC person?

Maybe she could serve S’pore (and the PAP)  better by having a fourth child? She had said if she hadn’t entered politics, she’d have a fourth child. One more baby, one less FT.

Why banks tested for 50% plunge in property prices and other wonderful tales

In Economy, Property on 16/01/2014 at 4:23 am

Singapore banks are so well-buffered that they will be able to withstand even a 50 per cent plunge in property prices here if this were to occur over the next two years, say stress tests done by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). (BT late last yr)

I waz wondering when I read the above, why 50%?

Now I know: typical govt over-reaction:

BOTH public and private housing prices in Singapore have finally come down after a raft of government market curbs.

Prices in the once red-hot suburban private home market dropped in the fourth quarter of last year for the first time since 2009, new data yesterday showed. This dragged down overall private home prices.

Housing Board flat resale prices also tumbled in the October to December period, hard on the heels of a third-quarter decline.

This marked the first time public housing prices have slid for two straight quarters since 2005.

Consultants said weak demand for homes could mean that sellers will finally be at the mercy of home buyers this year, adding that a bumper crop of upcoming homes will swing things more heavily in favour of buyers.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid=417120496-19741-7479931115

Well if property prices ever fell 50%, the PAP govt would be overthrown overnight. And the co-driver kicked out with it. mad Doc and his RI doctors will be in charge Actually it would be the end of the world as we know it.

But maybe the govt isn’t over-reacting: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jessecolombo/2014/01/13/why-singapores-economy-is-heading-for-an-iceland-style-meltdown/. Note that the article conveniently forgets that the banks have been stress-tested to survive even a 50% fall in property prices. Lots of other things wrong with the analysis that I’ll cover one of these days. But for now juz remember that one LKY was a regular contributor to Forbes. Taz the quality of their contributors? Oh, the central bank has come up with a rebuttal: read it in yesterday’s constructive, nation-building media.

Next tale: the cowboys were correct that the govt should restrict HDB sales to PRs:

The proportion of Permanent Residents (PRs) buying Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale flats has gone down in the last few months.

This comes after new rules to stabilise the HDB resale market were announced in August.

PRs now have to wait three years after obtaining their Singapore PR status before they are allowed to buy an HDB resale flat.

According to HDB, in the three months after the new rules were announced, PRs made up 12 per cent of all HDB resale transactions, with 528 units sold to them.

This is down eight percentage points from January to August, when PRs made up 20 per cent of all HDB resale transactions.

There were 2,581 resale flats sold during that period.

HDB also noted that the decrease is not unexpected, as there are now fewer PRs eligible to buy a resale flat.

It also pointed out the drop may not be solely due to the three-year waiting period. (CNA 23 december 2013).

Maybe PM should outsource policy decisions to the masses. Even IT operations are being done by the masses via crowdsourcing http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25714443.

Tpt minister looks after shareholders, the poor and the disabled?

In Infrastructure, Public Administration on 15/01/2014 at 4:27 am

What about other disadvantaged S’poreans?

The Public Transport Council (PTC) will release its decision on raising fare adjustments for public transport tomorrow and a reasonable person would conclude that fares will go up based on what Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew wrote  on a Facebook post on Monday.

“I told (PTC chairman Gerard Ee) that the government was ready with our package for the low-income workers and persons with disabilities and that we would like to announce this together on Thursday. These two concession schemes will be fully funded by the government,” wrote Mr Lui, stressing that the schemes would make transport fares much more affordable for both groups.

Isn’t he telling the PTO, pls feel free to help out the tpt companies (and their shareholders*) because the govt (us tax-payers, including said poor and disabled: remember that they too pay GST) will absorb the increases for said groups.

Mr Lui also said that the discount under the scheme for low-income workers would lower their fares to around the same levels as 10-15 years ago, depending on the journey. Meanwhile, the discount for those with disabilities will be “even more significant”.

Hey what about retirees and those who never got pay rises?

BTW, the WP’s silence on nationalisation is deafening, even though WP Low told us last yr that WP still believes in it. I have my doubts  https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/wp-changes-mind-on-nationalising-smrt-sbs/

Backgrounder: In December, transport operators SBS Transit (SBST) and SMRT applied to the PTC to raise bus and rail fares this year, with SBS – Singapore’s biggest bus operator – citing cost pressures.

—–

*Some shareholders do get a free lunch:despite claims by scholar and ex-general running SMRT that its biz model is broken:

Using back-of-the envelope calculations and figures in annual reports, since it was listed SMRT (over a decade ago) has paid S$562.79m in dividends to Temasek, and ComfortDelgro has paid the S’pore Labour Foundation (a statutory board affiliated to the NTUC) dividends of  S$150.46m*since 2003 (Comfort and Delgro merged in 2003, and SLF had a stake in Comfort). The amount that ended up with the government was S$713.25m, with SMRT contributing 79%. But ComfortDelgro is likely be the main beneficiary of the S$1.1bn bus plan**, given that, at present, SBS Transit (a listed co 75% owned by ComfortDelgro) provides most of the buses. Taz an example of how messed up things are.

The funds’ flows also show that the government is putting back all the dividends it received from these two companies and then adding 35% more. So it’s wrong to say that the SMRT and ComfortDelgro are getting free lunches. At most the government is subsidising their lunches by 35%.

The government should get credit for ploughing its share of the “loot” (as the proponents of nationalisation would put it and MPs Puthu, PAP, and PritamS, WP, might put it), but it doesn’t. Taz how messed up are.

(Incidentally, one could reasonably argue that the other shareholders — and the minority shareholders of SBS Transit, remember ComfortDelgro owns around 75% – are getting a free lunch while the government returns its share of the dividends. But let’s nt get into that today.)

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/oh-what-a-tangled-web-we-weave-mrt-comfortdelgro-and-the-government/

Small wonder that foreigners snapped up ComfortDelgro at gd discount last year though tapering caused some wobbles https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/when-raising-fares-sbs-smrt-govt-dont-have-this-problem/. Now above price bot. in.

.

Jos keeps on talking cock

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 14/01/2014 at 4:52 am

“We cannot have the attitude that everything will be perfect from Day One. If we go in with that attitude, it can only mean that we have to build in a lot of redundancy.” – Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State for Transport.

As someone who once upon a time reported directly to people who reported directly to LKY and Dr Goh, I can safely say that they all expected things to be perfect from Day 1. So now Ms Teo implying  that because of their exacting standards, they were encouraging inefficiencies and wastefulness?

Even before he is dead, LKY gets slimed? Son should give Jos a tight slap to show his filial piety this CNY. Co-driver too busy looking at bank statements and feeling happy.

Seriously, the govt should stop giving excuses for a simple cock-up: it should simply admit that it was an honest mistake by civil servants who didn’t drive because they couldn’t afford the COEs. Insufficient signs were put up as I explained here and this was a major source of the problem.

(Pic from TRE)

Waz interesting is that even now she refuses to concede that there were insufficient signs:

Q: After the jam, more signs and advertisements on the routes came up. Why not earlier?

I once got a speeding ticket (in Singapore) and was adamant there was no signage (for speed limit). I had driven on this road umpteen times. I thought: “Never mind. Tomorrow I’ll pay attention.” True enough, I saw the sign. Sometimes we don’t notice (the signs) because we don’t need them.

You can always have more (signs and advertisements). But you have to be interested.(http://www.singapolitics.sg/supperclub/josephine-teo-%E2%80%98free-mrt-rides-has-allowed-lifestyle-change%E2%80%99)

Here’s a great comment from TOC’s facebook in response to her remarks about redundancy:

Tremendous time/effort would be incurred when trying to rectify a flawed design/system. Doing it right the first time is critical. A good design is the result of thorough research/ consultation/ brainstorming and that will ensure the success of the project. eg. years ago, woody goh said handicap people should stay away from travelling for safety reason, now we have to retrofit busses/MRT stations for wheel chair access. same for HDB flat, now installing lifts on every floor and the whole project takes decades to complete, what if the HDB architechs had done that in the first place? zero effort for wheel chair access! Our MRT trains adopted designed with 6 carriages while HK MTR already up and running and uses 8 carriages. We could have learnt from HK, instead, we choose ONLY 6 carriages. Now we are flooded with immigrants over crowding the transport system but we are handicapped in increasing the MRT stations capacity by using 8 carriages and must go for the stupid solution of changing the signaling system to cut down only 20 sec peak frequency. using tens of millions and takes 5 years or more to do it. Now who is the stupid one? which way is more cost effective?

BTW, notice that NTUC MPs were, are a bunch of cocks (the exception is Halimah). Think Jos, Lims ( Cheap Zorro, Cry Baby), Hard of hearing Han, Irene the Whiner, Choo the criminal and racist, BG Yeo’s MP from Hell (Cynthia) and NMP Terry Lee.

Related posts:

Jos: Talk Cock Queen

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

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/reputations-be-mean-laugh/

Jos: Empress Dowager of Bishan East

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/thanks-jos-for-giving-nishan-east-residents-another-reason-not-to-support-the-pap/

Govt detains without trial S’poreans: No outrage meh activists?

In Public Administration on 13/01/2014 at 4:51 am

It might be the season to be jolly and of peace and goodwill, what with the Christmas and NY hols gone and the CNY hols coming, but the human rights activists have really got my goat.A man dressed as Krampus in Austria … pretty scary, huh?

The contrast between their vocal support for FT deportess, and their seeming indifference to S’poreans detained without trial make me sick. The Holly Man outside the Globe Theatre in London

Last Friday, it was reported by CNA that, “MHA has placed the son of Singapore Jemaah Islamiyah leader Mas Selamat Kastari under a two-year detention. Masyhadi Mas Selamat, 25, was detained on 21 November 2013 on an Order of Detention under the ISA.”

The silence on his detention from the usual human rights kay pohs is deafening.

TOC, Maruah, Vincent Wijeysingha, Rachel Zeng, Kirsten Han etc etc were all up in arms demanding justice for the manual migrant workers detained by the police after the riot. They were upset many of those detsined were then given air-tickets to move on out of S’pore, rather than sent for trial. Some had the charges  withdrawn and the court granted them discharges amounting to acquittals and then were deported, while many were never charged, just deported. They demanded “due process” for these FTs, even though as someone posted on Facebook, ” Rightly or wrongly, deportation is more lenient than jail and caning.” A lot more, so is it fair to insist as the kay pohs do that the courts must be involved in “due process”? One could even argue that the govt is being easy on “alleged” rioters.

The deportation law is draconian but there are more draconian laws that true blue S’poreans are subject to: the Internal Security Act and the Criminal Law Temporary Provision Act.

They allow the govt to detain almost indefinitely people who never had the benefit of a trial. The former is nowadays used to detain alleged “Islamic” terrorists,  while the latter is used to detain Dan Tan (the guy alleged to have fixed footie matches) and alleged drug dealers (mules get murdered, judicially, after due process if they don’t have useful evidence).

Yes, yes, I know that TOC and Maruah have spoken out against these laws (albeit once upon a time) and have called for their abolition (again once upon a time), and I’m sure Vincent, Kirsten, Rachel etc etc, if asked, will say they oppose these laws and want them abolished.

Still, their silence*, or indifference(?) whenever the govt and mainstream media report these detentions (and they do) when contrasted with the chorus of disapproval and outrage over what is happening to the alleged rioters, and deportees is disturbing at the very least. Double standards?

I have never heard any activist say about Dan Tan, Masyhadi or any other alleged Islamic terrorist, or drug dealer, “Activists, while often faced with heart-wrenching stories, are not just bleeding hearts. Behind the criticism lies a much bigger issue: that of access to justice and due process … But we are obliged to ensure that they have access to justice.” (Kirsten Han in http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/did-deported-workers-deserve-time-court-015254163.html)

As I wrote last year: The coming deafening silence [referring to Dan Tan’s case] 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.

Are S’poreans too not worthy of “justice and due process”, Ms Han? They too like FTs are human

                                                                                               Hath
 59   not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
 60   dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
 61   the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
 62   to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 63   warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
 64   a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
 65   if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
 66   us, do we not die?

(Shylock in The Merchant of Venice)

A wicked, cynical, unworthy and doubtless mistaken tot. Could it because our kay pohs know that ang mohs are not too fussed when alleged drug dealers, footie fixers and Islamic terrorists are detained? Only when migrant workers are? http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2013-12-18/human-rights-activists-accuse-singapore-of-failing-to-recognise-the-rights-of-rioters/1236768

Since the CIA and MI6 are pretty relaxed about working with countries that do not give alleged Islamic terrorists “access to justice and due process”, one can legitimately (if unreasonably) ask if these agencies have managed to influence our kay pohs.

Let me be clear, the kay pohs like Ms Han etc have every right to champion and fight any cause they like: if they want justice for FTs, taz their right. They also have the right not to want justice for S’poreans. They are free to do what they want to do. But I, and other S’poreans, are entitled to make judgements based on their actions, silence and inaction.

My judgement is that “FTs tua kee” attitude is not confined only to the govt: our kay pohs too take pride in it too. Why like that meh? Hath
 59   not a S’porean eyes? hath not a S’porean hands, organs,
 60   dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
 61   the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
 62   to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 63   warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
 64   a FT is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
 65   if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
 66   us, do we not die?

Related post: Kirsten Han wants S’poreans to have a dialogue with the govt on FTs, despite fact that as a HR activist she should know that the govt doesn’t do dialogue .

*WP asked about Dan Tan in parly getting the standard non-answer. BTW, surprised that DPM Teo didn’t ask Auntie, “Bookie ask WP to ask question meh?”. But then, DPM Teo’s late father was a gentleman and must have brought up DPM Teo the “right” way. BTW2, I understand that Maruah had planned to denounce Dan Tan’s detention, but that the media release got lost. An honest mistake, I assume? Like holding a seminar in Little India on “struggle for workers’ rights” weeks after a riot there, albeit on a day unlikely to have many workers in the area?

Cost benefit analysis: PAP govt underestimating the value of human life?

In Economy, Financial competency, Political economy, Political governance on 12/01/2014 at 6:27 am

I came across this in the latest copy of the Economist in the letters section:

Petty’s cash ledger

SIR – You credited William Petty with inventing economics in the 17th century, but did not do full justice to his cost-benefit calculations (Free exchange, December 21st). The good doctor estimated the value of a person to be somewhere between £60-90 and in “Political Arithmetick” he suggested these values could be used “to compute the loss we have sustained” from the plague and war. In 1667 he argued that given the value of an individual and the cost of transporting people away from the plague in London and caring for them, every pound spent would yield a return of £84 as the probability of survival increased. (He also suggested that an individual in England was worth £90, and in Ireland £70.)

In a lecture on anatomy in 1676 Petty argued that the state should intervene to assure better medicine, which could save 200,000 subjects a year and thus represented a sensible state expenditure. Today’s economic estimates are more refined and the data are more exact, but the arguments presented by Petty still resonate in public policy.

Rashi Fein
Professor emeritus of the economics of medicine
Harvard Medical School

This set me thinking that since the govt is forever touting the importance of costing out the benefits of any spending proposal (something I agree with), maybe it should tell us how much it values a S’porean in monetary terms? Esp since the PM has just said that that more social spending does not mean better results http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/01/11/like-a-war-zone/

As pigs are likely to fly first maybe the SDP RI brains trust (Paul A, Wee Nam, Ang -Drs three- etc) can  “force” the govt to do so by coming up with their own SDP valuation, and what they calculate is the PAP valuation.

As to the co driver doing something? They wearing white?

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/why-a-2015-ge-is-now-more-probable/

Indonesia: Carry on burning

In Indonesia on 12/01/2014 at 4:37 am

Global map of forest change

The map shows forest change from 2000-12. Green areas are forested; red suffered forest loss; blue showed forest gain; pink experienced both loss and gain. Meanwhile, the govt continues smoking M’sia and S’pore by making promises that it has no intention of fulfilling.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/haze-over-indons-start-two-timing-again/

Raffles Place, Padang area in an alternate universe?

In Uncategorized on 11/01/2014 at 4:41 am

A glimpse of a S’pore if the present lot of SAF generals and admirals in the cabinet (and BG Yeo) had been in charge of S’pore in the early 60s instead of LKY, Dr Goh etc. Going by the performance of LHL, Teo, Lui, Kee Chui and Tan (and BG Yeo) over the last few yrs, Raffles Place and the Padang would be like the biz and administrative hubs of Yangon shown in the video in http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/01/yangons-heritage

A WALK AROUND battered, ramshackle Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and former capital, quickly makes it clear how far the country has fallen behind the rest of Asia over the past half-century. In large part the place is but a ghostly reminder of former glories. Under British colonial rule, before independence in 1948, Rangoon (as it was then) was a thriving, cosmopolitan entrepot, the capital of Burma, one of the region’s wealthiest countries. All that came to an abrupt end in 1962 after a junta of army officers, led by the brutal General Ne Win, seized power and launched the country on the quasi-Marxist “Burmese Way to Socialism”. Private foreign-owned businesses were nationalised, prompting the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, many of Indian origin. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/why-young-sporeans-should-be-sent-to-yangon/

No other Asean round-up news this week. Keep an eye on Thailand, the problems there are a gd ad and PR for the PAP https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/thailand-huge-ad-gd-pr-for-pap-govt/

Govt’s mistakes, S’poreans blamed

In Infrastructure, Political governance, Public Administration on 10/01/2014 at 4:42 am

Twice in three days, S’poreans get blamed by the PAP for govt mistakes.

The traffic snarls on the Marina Coastal Expressway’s (MCE) first day of operations occurred as motorists were unfamiliar with the newly opened highway, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew. (MediaCorp 7th January)

I see this this as Lui shifting the blame to motorists using the MCE for the initial congestion problems on the MCE for what a user (at 11 am on the Monday day, so he had plenty of time to observe his surroundings) told me was a failure by tpt officials: “There is only one sign indicating the first exit into the city. One would have tot that based on the signage used on other expressways, there would be signs saying ‘Exit to X, 100m’ etc at regular intervals.” As the media reports a lot more signage going up since I heard this comment, I assume this problem has been fixed. And that this is the source of the problem.

If additional signage was required, then it wasn’t only the fault of daft S’poreans, was it minister?

Then there is the problem of a shortage of hospital beds. Dr Chia Shi Lu, who is a MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, said the shortage of hospital beds is “due to holiday season”, effectively saying that it’s the fault of S’poreans who rather not be discharged.

The facts? From a medical professor albeit a SDP member:

— This is a perennial problem and unfortunately is a result of funding policies which are very hospital-centric. It has become something that doctors in the public sector have become accustomed to

“In my opinion, the obvious reason for the beds’ crunch, may to the best of my knowledge, has never been highlighted in the media – that the total number of hospital beds in Singapore has seen zero increase over at least the last 12 years or so, despite an increase in the population by more than 1 million.”  http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/01/interview-with-dr-paul-on-the-bed-crunch-issue-in-public-hospitals/

And Uncle Leong has been beating the drum of a shortage of hospital beds for several yrs: “In my opinion, the obvious reason for the beds’ crunch, may to the best of my knowledge, has never been highlighted in the media – that the total number of hospital beds in Singapore has seen zero increase over at least the last 12 years or so, despite an increase in the population by more than 1 million.” (This quote appeared very recently)

Looks like among the PAP’s new yr resolutions, there isn’t one one changing the Hard Truth, “The PAP is never wrong. It’s always the fault of daft S’poreans”. Seriously, it’s so typical of the PAP: blame S’poreans for an thing that could imply that the PAP govt is less than perfect. What next? PM blaming S’poreans* for the recent riot?

And this comes from me, who after the MCE operated smoothly after the addition of a few signs sent an email entitled: “Can’t help thinking of you guys )))” to a few of the usual “PAP are bastards” paper activists who had been yelling their heads over MCE, attaching this from TRE:http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/01/04/bang-balls-to-tre-whiners-mce-traffic-is-smooth-now/

*Actually he can, the driver of the bus that killed the migrant worker was “a S’porea resident”. He could be a PR from M’sia though. Name definitely not PRC name.

 

Why owning Reits in a rising interest rate environment may make sense

In Financial competency, Property, Reits on 09/01/2014 at 4:46 am

When ST talks down Reits, as it has been recently, because interest rates are rising, it’s time think again. Remember its big-balls up when Reits were at their (with hindsight) their peak in May last yr?

Here’s some stuff that appeared in reference with US Reits but is applicable here: While REIT investors did an about-face following the Fed’s tapering announcement, some industry experts say all the attention surrounding interest rates and REITs is unfounded. “Ever since May 22, there’s been this discussion about the role of interest rates in REIT returns – and it’s a very strange discussion,” said Brad Case, VP of Research with the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT) in a recent interview with CoStar News. “Because the truth is, when interest rates go up, it usually means the economy is strengthening. That’s good news for REITs and means that returns will be strong.” In support of this statement, Case pointed out that REITs have performed well in 12 out of 16 periods of interest rate increases since 1995.

But be prepared that they underperform other types of “shares”

While there is controversy regarding the degree to which interest rates affect REITs, Affleck pointed out that investors need to consider more than just how REITs perform when interest rates change. “The relevant measure is not whether REITs have done well during interest rate increases, but how they performed relative to the broader market,” Affleck said. “On that count, the data are definitive – REIT performance relative to the broad market is inversely related to interest rate movements.” Affleck added that REITs outperformed the broad market – gaining 27% compared to a 20% gain for the S&P 500 – when interest rates fell from 3.5% in March 2011 to 1.5% in April 2013.

Juz take the payouts and bank them. But remember that Reits, unlike shares, pay out most of the income they get.When things go wrong (higher borrowing costs, lower rents), payouts suffer. No buffer, unlike comnpanies dividends. In the worse case, can end up having to subscribe to rights issues because Reits don’t have reserves to draw on in hard times.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/primer-on-yields-of-reits-biz-trusts/

Welfare: Govt still missing the point

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 08/01/2014 at 4:25 am

Two Saturdays ago, I blogged:

After the general election (GE) in May, Malaysia was put on notice by the international rating agencies that it had to get its fiscal discipline right. Prime Minister Najib Razak responded by first cutting fuel subsidies and raising petrol prices by 10 per cent in September.

In his October Budget, Mr Najib abolished sugar subsides and pledged to cut total subsidies by 17 per cent in the financial year. The Budget did not achieve that, so most commentators expect more fuel subsidy cuts possibly in the second half of the year. Mr Najib also promised a 6 per cent goods and services tax (GST) by next April.

Indonesia too has a problem with its fuel subsidy: it’s eating up a growing share of the budget, and meanwhile Thailand has a problem with its rice subsidy for farmers. It’s so bad that there are reports that there are farmers not receiving the subsidy. The govt doesn’t have the money.

S’pore govt doesn’t have this problem: the govt doesn’t do subsidies (except in public housing, healthcare and public tpt*: though even PAP Wormtongues** like that Jason chap cannot explain where the subsidies are in healthcare and public housing: they can only repeat parrot-like the govt’s statements about the subsidies, which is there is a subsidy).

The govt claims a more focused, targeted approach in helping the needy.

But sadly in its targeted, focused approach in helping the needy, it believes in the values of Scrooge as I blogged here. I won’t go into the details on its meanness in helping poorer or older S’poreans ’cause Uncle Leong has repeatedly provided the numbers detailing its Scrooginess. But juz to remind, here is one example: Workfare is gd in principle (better than minimum wage) in my view, but too mean.

And even when it increases welfare spending by a few pennies: Acting Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong has cautioned against getting Singapore into debt, even as the government ramps up social assistance.

He said state spending has to be kept sustainable to avoid passing the burden to future generations.http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-must-be-careful/889756.html

And despite their S$ 2.5bn++ annual contribution, manual FT workers don’t get help, when they should.

M’sia, Indonesia and Thailand have got their finances messed up because of the use of subsidies but they understand one thing: that spending on welfare is an investment in human resources. What they got wrong is welfare by way of subsidies.

Our govt has got the right idea on subsidies: they are often wasteful, always juz grow and grow, and, often, the people who don’t need them benefit the most, example middle class people  and the wealthy benefit the most from any fuel subsidy, not the poor.

But it hasn’t got it: that spending on welfare can be an investment in people. This is something that developed countries, our Asean neighbours, China, India understand. But our govt doesn’t seem not to understand: it’s a Hard Truth thatwelfare spending is a waste of resources. The money could be given to Temasek and GIC to punt the markets is another Hard truth.

If the PAP wants to reconnect with the 40% of voters who voted against the PAP in the last GE, and please its base (including the 35% that “Die, die must vote PAP” , it should rethink its Hard Truth that welfare spending is consumption, not investment. However anti-PAP paper activists should be glad that the govt is unlikely to change its thinking.

As ex-scholar Donald Low put it: “What all this points to is that we really need a more robust welfare system that gives Singaporeans much greater assurance of income when they are unemployed, old or sick. The low fertility rate and the desire of even well-to-do Singaporeans to retire somewhere else are signs that the state needs to craft a new social contract with Singaporeans, that it needs to develop more mechanisms to pool risks and give Singaporeans security.

The argument that we cannot afford all these because the population is ageing is mostly a bogeyman. It is partly because we don’t have a proper welfare system that the population is ageing as rapidly as it is. This has also been the experience in much of East Asia – where the relative absence of social security led to falling fertility rates and eventually, rapid ageing.”

But anti-govt activists should be worried that he is Associate Dean (Executive Education and Research) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Maybe, juz maybe, there’ll be changes in the mentality of the PAP.

—-

*Even the S$1.1bn spent on tpt is spare change as it’s spread out over five yrs, I think.

**Wormtongue is a minor character in The Lord of the Rings: his name describes his character.

Keppel still looks gd BUT

In Energy on 07/01/2014 at 4:58 am

Last December, there were three pieces of gd news

— KFELS delivered its 21st new build offshore rig for 2013, setting a world record for the most number of rigs delivered in a year.KFELS held the previous record of delivering 13 rigs in a year back in 2009.

Keppel O&M (KPELS parent)won $150m in contracts (five of them). This year there is expected to be strong growth in capital investments in global exploration and production (E&P) projects which should should keep new orders coming in for Singapore’s offshore and marine sector this year, although rising costs and competition could put pressure margins.

  It will build its first drillship. But it doesn’t have a buyer lined up. Keppel is usually very KS, so this is something to watch. Still going into drillship is a major step showing it has confidence in its technical ability to built such ships. Most likely Keppel couldn’t get a decent price from operators who would want big discounts for being the first customer.

But it has a new CEO, a numbers man, not an engineer.

Keppel Corporation has appointed its CEO-Designate Loh Chin Hua as an executive director to its board with effect from January 1, 2014.

Its CEO Choo Chiau Beng will retire on the same day.

With effect from the same date, Mr Loh will also succeed Mr Choo as chairman on the boards of the group’s key subsidiaries, including Keppel Land, Keppel Offshore & Marine and Keppel Infrastructure.

Mr Loh was appointed as group chief financial officer in January 2012 and then CEO-Designate in July 2013.

He has been with the Keppel group for 11 years and has over 25 years of experience in real estate investing and fund management. (CNA in early December)

Those who know their history of US car maker, GM, will know that GM’s decline began when the top job went to a finance guy, not an engineer. Keppel’s core competency is riig-building, not property or finance, the new CEO’s core skills. And frankly KepLand sucks by comparison with CapitaLand or Keppel’s offshore engineering biz. If it was an ang moh co, investors would have demanded that Keppel divest its property biz And Kep T&T. But to give the new CEO some credit, Kep T&T is finally going ahead with a reits of its data centre assets.

And here’s an interesting article I came across: http://www.fool.sg/2013/12/12/is-keppel-corp-really-cheap/

Finally, the other Temasek’s Fab 5 stocks still look gd for those who want equity exposure, decent income and relative safety. Doubtless there will be those TRe readers who will post I’m a PAP mole if TRE republishes this article. They should remember, Deng’s,”It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice.”: likewise let’s be objective when trying to make money. They should also remember Mao’s “Seek Truth from facts.”, if they hate Deng for being complimentary about S’pore.

Declaration of interest: got Keppel shares. in super long term section of portfolio, alongside HSBC, Haw Par and Hwa Hong.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/where-sporean-traits-produce-world-class-tlcs/

Alcohol, Little India and the migrant worker

In Economy on 06/01/2014 at 5:24 am

It’ll soon be a month since the disturbance in Little India which has rattled S’poreans (that they over-reacted). Even the PM was rattled, so much so  that he still talked a lot of cock about it at Christmas http://singaporedesk.blogspot.sg/2013/12/taking-easy-way-out.html.

Here are some relevant facts that I’ve discovered that are not reported in our constructive nation-building media or in the usually anti govt alternative media that I hope will help S’poreans towards a right understanding of the riot and surrounding issues:

— Alcohol is available in the dormitories’ supermarkets. I had tot they were banned from selling alcohol. The most popular brands are two imported brands from India (one is Kingfisher, the other I can’t recall), followed by our very own ABC. Needless to say, the beers are not yr  normal strength beers: they have alcohol content sof 10-12% versus the usual 4%.

— To avoid problems, the beer is only sold in cans, not bottles. For those who’ve not been involved in drunken brawls: broken beer bottles are useful in a fight. Just grab the handle of an empty bottle (no point wasting gd beer), and smash it against a wall and you are ready to maim or kill. But if the police catch you with it even if no-one is injured by it, it’s the cane after “due process”.

— Despite these sales, there are no reports in the alternative media about brawls, scenes of drunkenness near the supermarkets. Maybe, the workers are responsible drinkers? Or TOC, TRE reporters don’t do dorm visits (unlike Lianain Films)? As for ST and other MSM publications reporting such fights, they wouldn’t report such frights even if they happened outside their doorsteps would they? They will call Yaacob and ask,”Is there a fight? What are the right facts for us to report?”?

— The Little India shopkeepers (and their landlords) made great money off these workers. I’ve heard that a small shop selling veggies could gross S$90,000 in sales on a gd weekend day. When you hear media reports of the bizmen in the area moaning, bear this in mind. BTW, I understand that the dorm supermarkets’ prices of Indian, Bangladeshi favourites and staples are competitive. It’s juz that the workers love shopping in Little India: it’s their home away from home.

— Prior to the riot, Little India on weekends wasn’t a nice place to hold seminars on “the struggle for workers’ rights” (Maruah tried to hold its do on a Monday) or for romantic dates. A beer marketing executive,who regularly tours outlets, says that fights and drunkenness were a common occurrences in the area. Guess minister Lui didn’t speak up about too many alcohol outlets because of the previous observation about the profits being made. Let me very clear, if Boat Quay or Clarke Quay were as crowded as little India on weekends, they too would be unpleasant places. No ang moh tua kee pls. Besides our manual worker guests don’t beat up taxi-drivers for sport: only drunken ang mohs do it, then flee or plead they are depressed.

— Since the riot, I’ve seen more workers going to and returning from the the Marine Parade sea front on weekends and public hols. I expect the area to remain peaceful and crime free.

They come hear to earn a living, a hard one: not to get drunk, brawl , steal or molest. They are like us

                                                                                               Hath
 59   not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
 60   dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
 61   the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
 62   to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 63   warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
 64   a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
 65   if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
 66   us, do we not die?

(Shylock in The Merchant of Venice)

Xenophobia: Govt sends wrong signal to S’poreans?

In Public Administration on 05/01/2014 at 4:53 am

Readers will know I support deportation* as an administrative measure in lieu of being charged for criminal offences. Still as someone in agreement with the govt’s stand, the Law Minister’s explanation on the use of deportation, as reported here, is most shocking and disturbing:

Mr K Shanmugam, the minister in question, reportedly said that “repatriation happens on a regular basis.”

Of the 53, he said:

“If every case has got to go to court and a judge makes a decision, then repatriation decisions becomes [sic] judicial rather than administrative. Then every foreigner is entitled to stay here at taxpayers’ expense, housed here at taxpayers’ expense, it could stretch on a year or more.” (CNA)

By talking of the cost of judicial process for migrant workers, isn’t the govt telling us they are lesser mortals, where only cost is an issue? Hath
 59   not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
 60   dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
 61   the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
 62   to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
 63   warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
 64   a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
 65   if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
 66   us, do we not die?

(Shylock in The Merchant of Venice)

As Terry Xu of TOC put it on Facebook:

The total foreign worker levies collected were S$2.5 billion for the Financial Year 2011 and S$1.9 billion for the Financial Year 2010. Similar to other sources of Government revenue, the foreign worker levies are not ringfenced for any specific purposes. All Government revenue collected would go into the Consolidated Fund used to fund Government expenditures in general.”

And it goes up even more in the year 2012, 2013 given that there are more workers and that the levies have increased since then.

So yup, all these money does not include paying for the fair trial of workers who have contributed to this total collected sum of money, cause that is the government’s money and have to consider the tax payers money instead.

Terry Xu has a valid point even if I disagree (see above link) with him that the use of the workers’ levy is a reasonable use of the money.

The minister would have been on safer ground if he said, “Deportation is a lot less severe that imprisonment and caning. So why involve the courts?” He could have added, “Give FTs airfare home, kay pohs also bitch. What more do the kay pohs want?”.

*Actually, the kay pohs’ call for judicial due process in deportation cases ignores the fact that there is the possibility of judicial review as kick-ass, take no-prisoners, superhero lawyer, Ravi, has shown. He has asked for judicial review of a case where his client has been deported.

When S’pore has 8m people and counting

In Infrastructure on 04/01/2014 at 4:58 am

An unofficial map of how the MRT system will look like when fully developed

http://transitmaps.tumblr.com/post/68121163229/singapore-bernie-ng

 

Govt, activists score own goals

In Public Administration on 03/01/2014 at 6:09 am

(Or “The govt is its own worst enemy: it can’t communicate the right facts”)

Recently  I blogged on why Scrooge the Grinch government can do more, a lot more to help the manual workers who gift us S$2.5bn++ a year.

But on the use of the deportation law on alleged “rioters”; I’m on the govt’s side with one important caveat.  The cavaet is: What the hell were the police commissioner and DPM Teo talking about?

— [The Police Commissioner] explained that this group is less “culpable” than those who were charged, as the latter were “active participants” in the riot, “violent” and “had attacked uniformed personnel and vehicles, damaged property, and had incited others to do so”. So what did they actually do?

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean noted that those who were to be repatriated had “impeded the riot control and emergency rescue operations” and that “their actions and conduct had threatened public order,  Did they or did not riot?

I looked up what the official statement and only then I understood why there were deportations, not charges for most of those detained: they were alleged rioters that the police considered should be treated more leniently (those charged can be jailed and caned if convicted).

Group Two consists of 53 persons whom Police has identified to have participated in the riot and who failed to disperse despite Police’s orders to do so. They had knowingly joined or continued to participate in the riot, after being ordered to disperse, impeding the riot control and emergency rescue operations. Their actions and conduct had threatened public order, thus making their continued presence in Singapore undesirable. They were all rounded up in a Police operation in the early hours of this morning. They will be repatriated after being issued a stern warning. They will be prohibited from returning to Singapore.

The Police Commissioner and DPM Teo, scholars both, should be ashamed of their explanations which only made it easier for the activists to attack the govt. And s/o of Devan Nair is not doing doing his job as the govt’s PR man.

Coming back to the deportees, fair enough that they are deported  without judicial “due process” as far as I’m concerned for two reasons.

Firstly, as someone posted on Facebook, ” Rightly or wrongly, deportation is more lenient than jail and caning.” A lot more, so is it fair to insist as the kay pohs do that the courts must be involved in “due process”? One could even argue that the govt is being easy on “alleged” rioters.

Next, given that he has shown himself as a most compassionate chap, I’m sure the Pet minister is ensuring that the ministerial discretion of banishing people from S’pore is fairly exercised, and with appropriate regard for non-judical due process. I’ll go on to assert that he has ensured that the police behave fairly, and with appropriate regard for due process (non-judical), when investigating the cases which result in banishment orders.

Though I must admit charging a few people, then not proceeding with the cases and then allowing them to be given “discharges not amounting to acquittals, then deporting them look slip-shod. They shouldn’t have been charged, juz deportrd. And if, as happened,  they were charged, and the police then realised that officers had made “honest mistakes”, the police should have asked for “discharges not amounting to acquittals”, and then deported them. That would have prevented the usual anti-govt activists from shouting “acquitted but still deported”. Technically, the kay pohs are right, though the govt has a point when it says the “acquittals” did not result from trials, but by the police withdrawing charges. I suspect the police tot, “Heck these guys are not coming back here, so might as well allow discharges amounting to acquittals”: little knowing that the kay pohs would seize on this technicality to agitate against the govt.

Given his track record on looking after the interests of dogs even where a possible dog killer is a FT (example), the HR kay pohs should cut him a lot of slack. Now if the minister was the ACS boy who sneered at elderly, poor S’poreans, I’d agree that the kay pohs have a point about the need of ensuring that justice is done. Hey but this is a most compassionate minister (he loves dogs and, even cats) from RI, not an ACS rich kid. What more do they want?

And there is still the possibility of judicial review, shumething that kick ass, take-no-prisoners superhero M Ravi is pursuing in  several cases. So kay pohs should sit down and shut up.

No trust police and Pet Minister is it? AG should think of suing said activists for making defamatory innuendos about the minister and the police.

By now I’m sure you know that I’m no supporter of using a bit of billions the manual workers gift us to pay for “due process” for the deportees. We have to do right by the manual workers, but there are limits, something the kay pohs seem to refuse to acknowledge. I’m sure in their heart of hearts, they want the detainees to be detained in a 5-star hotel with access to the best lawyers, all at the expense of  us tax-payers. Their ang Moh masters mentors would expect no less.

If the anti-govt kay pohs really cared about the migrant workers they should have been advocating and campaigning from yrs ago that some spare change from the S$2.4 bn++ that the govt gets from the manual workers goes to helping them: without them S’pore would have to pay more, a lot more, for labour intensive jobs. Instead, the said activists want the spare change to be used on judicial “due process”. Some thing is not right about their priorities?

As I pointed out in the earlier piece, there could be a medical insurance fund, and a general welfare fund. BTW, a SDP doctor tells me that the SDP healthcare plan (involving an insurance fund and comprehensive coverage) would cover manual FTs (all FTs in fact) too. Before GG and friends, and TRE readers get upset with the SDP, they should remember that the SDP has also called for a policy of putting locals first and tightening the use of FTs by businesses.

Let me end by returning to said kay pohs: substitute the term “activists” for “management” in the following quote from a famous American psychologist* and you will know why I’m uneasy about their motives and actions: “This is what I get  vaguely uneasy about in the reading on management, namely a certain piety, certain semireligious attitudes, an unthinking, unreasoning, a priori kind of ‘liberalism’ which frequently takes over as a determinant, thereby to some extent destroying the possibility of maintaining the sensitivity to the objective requirements of the actual, realistic situation.”

*Update at 8.43 am on # January 2014:

Think I’m unfair on the activists? Yesterday, I wrote: Here’s an interesting piece from a TRE reader on the appropriateness of the original venue of its seminar on “the struggle for workers’rights”. . I agree with the sentiments expressed within it, though to be fair to Maruah the date of said seminar was on 23 December. Somehow I don’t think that there would be many FTs in the area on a Monday. One of these days I’ll blog on why Maruah and the police deserve each other: both have lousy public communication skills, though the police’s skills iare a lot better than Yaacob’s finest, who only know how to slime.

They may be anti-govt, but we shouldn’t be on their side juz ’cause they got the balls to take on the govt publicly. Their actions and motives have to be analysed and scrutinised, juz like the govt’s, even though we should not hold them to the standards we expect of the govt. They don’t have the resources of the govt.

*Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. Wikipedia

AWARE doesn’t care about some females/ Maruah’s original venue

In Humour on 02/01/2014 at 4:21 am

We all know that AWARE complained about Purple Light and got Mindef to change the  lyrics to a less offensive,  “right” one. The wimmin were right to take offence and be concerned about the brutish boyish mentality behind some of the words of a popular song; and Mindef did the right thing.  It most probably also decided to avoid upsetting potential voters, even though I’m sure none of the AWARE wimmin would ever vote PAP. Another cynical reason would be that the ang mohs might take offence if Mindef didn’t act. Maruah as an ang moh tua kee group has friends in the US  and there are women.US senior military officers.

But I’m disappointed that AWARE didn’t take on Santa Claus. for making only gal reindeer work at Christmas, pulling his sleigh. It’s a biological fact that male reindeer do not have antlers at Christmas. They shed them by them. Only the gals got them.

So why AWARE no complain to Santa? Scared he strike them off his presents’ list?

My serious point is that Maruah has to be more restraint when it wins. Google up their triumphalist response to the bloggers who were upset by the change. That triumphalist response, not the complaint and Mindef’s action annoyed me, hence this dig at AWARE.

Oh, and based on textual analysis, the Maruah letter alleging police “harassment” over the venue of the seminar on the “struggle for workers’ rights” was initially drafted by the same person who drafted the AWARE letter of triumphalism, or the same person had a hand in drafting both letters.

To end, Here’s an interesting piece from a TRE reader on the appropriateness of the original venue of its seminar on “the struggle for workers’rights. . I agree with the sentiments expressed within it, though to be fair to Maruah the date of said seminar was on 23 December. Somehow I don’t think that there would be many FTs in the area on a Monday. One of these days I’ll blog on why Maruah and the police deserve each other: both have lousy public communication skills, though the police’s skills iare a lot better than Yaacob’s finest, who only know how to slime.

2014: Advice for Oppo, activists and investors

In Financial competency on 01/01/2014 at 6:41 am

My X’mas, New Yr  pressie to readers: 2 quotes that will serve them well as investors in 2014. The second one will also serve the Oppo and kay pohs well.

… fairly conservative investor, strongly believing in the combination of traditional valuation methods and charts – always looking at the balance sheet first and then analyzing the charts over 20, 50, 100, and 200 days.

http://pinkerspost.com/post.php

“The only way that individual investors can be heard in a situation like this* is to collaborate and try to get attention. There are so many other interested parties trying to get their points across that it’s the only way they can have a voice, ” says Mark Taber, a British individual investor, who has led three successful campaigns against banks.

(But I doubt asking SIAS to get involved amounts to collaboration.)

And collaboration applies to the Opposition and kay pohs too, though sadly the WP is very clear that it’s the PAP’s co-driver not part of any coalition against the PAP govt. Though I am willing to give Low, Ah Lian and Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap that they don’t have ministerial ambitions unlike PritamS. As to Auntie and Show Mao, one senses they think they are meant for better things than juz MPs.

As for attention, the kay pohs should think again of their attention-seeking attempts. I often feel that there is too much aping of Western PR techniques. I plan to go into detail later this yr, but here’s the essence: Western HR PR tactics are premised on the assumptions that:

— the public knows and cares about the causes of the PR effort. In S’pore this may not be the case. Take the case of migrant workers arrested for “rioting”: while the kay pohs focus on “due process” and poor working conditions; the posters on TRE focus on being anti-PAP even while supporting deportation for alleged rioters, and low wages for manual workers.

— changing opinion (esp among the chattering classes) can have an effect: govts do listen. In S’pore govt hasn’t ever listened, even when votes are at stake (OK, this is a bit of an exaggeration). NatCon double confirms this view of an unlistening govt.