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Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page

Another minister tries telling jokes

In Political governance on 31/03/2014 at 4:57 am

Whether a policy will be popular at the ballot box is not a factor that the Government takes into account before implementing it, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said yesterday.

Instead, the Government’s focus has always been about getting policies right, he said, using the recently-announced Pioneer Generation Package as an example.

 The Government would not have fully funded the S$8 billion package from its current account surplus this year if it were “thinking purely in terms of electoral calculations”, said Mr Shanmugam. (Saturday’s Today)
Come on pull the other leg, it’s got bells. So Shan is trying to be Tharman, telling jokes?

Notwithstanding the criticisms in TOC, TRE, and the other usual suspects, there is quiet satisfaction among the oldies (and the children) that I know, that the package while not that generous shows that the govt is willing to listen. And why is the govt listening? There is an election coming in which it wants to obtain more than the 60% of the popular vote. So it does what elected govts do, buy votes. In our case, it’s will our money, not borrowed money as is common in the West. Whatever the method, it’s still vote buying.

My other serious point is that by saying govt “will do what’s right, not what’s popular”, he implies that the unpopular measure is always  the right policy. Come on pull the other leg, it’s got bells. He cannot be serious. The transport policy of Raymond Lim (if commuters want basic comfort, they will have to pay GST),  and the public housing policy of Minister Mah (prices fly in a recession) were unpopular, and wrong. By sacking them (OK not denying they were sacked, and they didn’t get cushy GLC jobs did they?), and reversing their policies, the govt admitted they were wrong.

Minister should stick to his day job of being the pet minister, administering to the concerns of pet owners. And making them happy enough with his performance to vote for the PAP: Most pet owners are “Calm Persistence”: their votes matter. The contradiction that the PAP has to solve if he continues doing the great job that he is doing is that he shows up the performance of Yaacob and Isawran, the ministers responsible for two minority races. Their underwhelming performance surely will alienate those minorities who don’t have pets?

Footie: When team losing, don’t sack mgr

In Footie on 30/03/2014 at 10:13 am

MU owners and fans are still behind Moysie despite a season that is worse than the worst nightmares. Nice of fans to cheer him at Old Trafford last night. And they may be right to remain sanguine.

Graph comparing performance

Ter Weel analysed managerial turnover across 18 seasons (1986-2004) of the Dutch premier division, the Eredivisie. As well as looking at what happened to teams who sacked their manager when the going got tough, he looked at those who had faced a similar slump in form but who stood by their boss to ride out the crisis.

He found that both groups faced a similar pattern of declines and improvements in form … he argues that this finding is not specific to the Netherlands. Major football leagues in Europe, including England, Germany, Italy and Spain also bore out the same conclusion – teams suffering an uncharacteristic slump in form will bounce back and return to their normal long-term position in the league, regardless of whether they replace their manager or not.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23724517

As PM now watches the LionsXII (at least when they are winning), he may use this “fact” as a Hard Truth on why we shouldn’t give the PAP the sack.

Why visit Phnom Penh?

In Uncategorized on 30/03/2014 at 4:30 am

There is the sex scene.  As an oldie, I’m sad to see so many distinguished seniors (ex-DPP, doctors etc) mess up their lives ’cause of their sexual urges, when they should be basking in contentment and respect, having lived the gd life.  So my advice is …

And hotel accommodation is reasonable.

The cheapest place to stay of the 116 listed in the report is Phnom Penh at just £33 per night. Of course average room rates will be affected by all manor of things—not least the proportion of posh hotels to basic ones (the survey looks at all hotels from one- to five-star) and exchange rate fluctuation. But prices in the Cambodian capital fell by 16% even as tourist numbers rose handsomely, up from 3.6m to 4.2m.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/03/airlines-and-hotels

Investing in Indonesia is like eating puffer fish/ TRE readership

In Humour, Indonesia, Temasek on 29/03/2014 at 7:01 am

What do I mean by the former?

S$ is a strong currency, the rupiah a weak one; but this yr the rupiah has outpeformed

The rupiah has risen 7 per cent against the US dollar this year, making it the world’s strongest performing currency, while the Jakarta stock market is also rallying, now up 10 per cent. Yields on 10-year government bonds have also come down to 8 per cent, having jumped as high as 9.2 per cent last summer – another sign of fresh enthusiasm for Indonesia’s growth story. FT on 13th March).

Gd that we have a neighbour liddat as China’s growth slows. And Indonesia’s a MINT.

And whatever TRE posters* and Chris Balding say, Temasek has made gd money in Indonesia (think telco and banking, though it has yet to exit the latter) despite a hostile political environment. Money talks.

Too bad about its aggressive, civilian-killing armed forces that would loot and plunder S’pore if given half a chance. Whether we need to spend 25% of the Budget on defence is open to reasoned debate (something which the PAP govt rubbishes) but there is no doubt that we should continuing be a poisonous shrimp to deter Indonesian generals and admirals who want to loot and plunder. The Indonesian govt does not control the military, as the constant outbreaks of internal lawlessness (including the murder of civilians) by the armed forces shows.

Example: Two Indonesian ministers have expressed regret over the inappropriate conduct by two Indonesian marines who had posed as the MacDonald House bombers at the Jakarta International Defence Dialogue exhibition on Wednesday.

In response to media queries, a statement from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean’s office said Mr Teo confirmed that Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Air Chief Marshal (Ret) Djoko Suyanto telephoned him on Friday afternoon regarding the incident.

Coordinating Minister Djoko expressed regret over the inappropriate conduct by the soldiers, and assured Mr Teo that there was no such policy to do so.

Those views were also repeated by Indonesian Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, who spoke with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on the phone on Friday.

Dr Purnomo added that the Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Navy, Admiral Marsetio, had launched investigations to determine who was responsible for the inappropriate act. (CNA)

Or maybe juz two-timing? What do you think?

Taz another problem. The Javanese ruling elite loves to intrigue . Raffles knew what to do when they were two-timing, he sent in the army.

As to the quality of ministers: Indonesia’s communications minister, who has campaigned against pornography, has caused an uproar on social media after he followed a Twitter porn account …

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-26680779

Bottom line: Indonesia is a difficult place to invest in (as I can personally tell you), but get it right (I didn’t) and it’s life eating puffer fish. Can die, if not careful.

Related article: http://kementah.blogspot.sg/2014/03/not-business-as-usual-for-indonesia.html

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*Yes, TRE readers have written to me telling me that the majority of TRE readers are not losers like “oxygen” and those who call me names, but are “Calm Persistence” and “Hard-pressed Anxiety” types). They dislike being associated with losers: they are hard-working S’poreans who think that the PAP has betrayed them. As to why they don’t fund TRE, they say that that as typical S’poreans, they are free-loaders by nature and that I’m wrong to associate “Calm Persistnce” and “Hard Pressed Anxiety” with community spirit and generosity of spirit. . If they were not free-loaders and apathetic, then TRE would not be the voice of S’poreans. Err, kinda confusing. I got to think thru this paradox.

Which voter are you?

In Political governance on 28/03/2014 at 4:53 am

Came across something interesting (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-26689333) that can be used to analyse (ok pontificate on or BS on) voting patterns in S’pore.

1. Comfortable Nostalgia: “They tend to be older, more traditional voters who dislike the social and cultural changes they see as altering [country] for the worse.”

2. Optimistic Contentment: “Confident, comfortable & usually on higher incomes they are prudent & tolerant but think [country] is a soft touch.”

3. Calm Persistence: “Often coping rather than comfortable, they hope rather than expect things to get better.”

4. Hard-pressed Anxiety: “Pessimistic & insecure, these people want more help from government and resent competition for that help particularly from new-comers.”

5. Long-term Despair: “Many are serial strugglers; angry & alienated they feel little or no stake in the country or that anyone stands up for them.”

6. Cosmopolitan Critics: “Generally younger, more secular and urban-based, worried about growing inequality & the general direction the country is going in.”

“Comfortable Nostalgia” and “Optimistic Contentment” (me?) would be daft not to vote PAP, while “Hard-pressed Anxiety”, “Long-term Despair” and  “Cosmopolitan Critics” would surely vote for the opposition to the PAP? Though after the 2011 GE, Eric Tan (remember him?) told me that it was a surprise voters that well-off S’poreans, who could see that their children (grown -up or growing up) were not or would not enjoy the good life that they had or have, voted for the opposition.

The fight would be for the “Calm Persistence” voters, and the “Hard Pressed Anxiety”?

But if the SDP and WP decide to fight each other and the PAP, there will be problems  because based on the results of PE 2011, the SDP has most of the votes of the “Long-term Despair” and  “Cosmopolitan Critics”; while the WP has support among “Calm Persistence” even if the RI doctors in the SDP fall into this group), and “Hard-pressed Anxiety” (the SDP and WP share votes with some “daft” ones voting PAP ). By avoiding three-way fights, these two parties and the Chiams, NSP and the clowns other parties make sure that the anti-PAP voters are used to maximum effect.

Hence the uproar when Mad Dog Chee (escaped his RI doctors?) wanted to fight the WP in Punggol-East. Fortunately, the roar of protest shocked him into sanity, and treatment.

BTW, I think based on the postings on TREthe majority of TRE posters would seem fall into  the “Hard-pressed Anxiety”and “Long-term Despair” (i.e. into the losers) even though TeamTRE belongs in the “Calm Persistence” and “Hard-pressed Anxiety”  categories: the only people who would spend time and money on doing what they believe is right, even if the losers are freeloading on their efforts.

TOC’s editors, team and natural readers would fall into fall into the”Calm Persistence” “Hard-pressed Anxiety”and .”Cosmopolitan Critics” groups.

Those who read this blog (not via TRE) are in 1-5 1-3. Why TRE republishes me I know not. Maybe it’s to tell the losers that life is more complex than the PAP’s demand (“For us or against us”) that the losers seem to have adopted?  Or maybe because it knows that there is a silent majority of readers in the “Calm Persistence” and “Hard-pressed Anxiety”. Could be as TRE has raised the funds to keep on going for another year. So maybe the TRE community is more than losers freeloading on the efforts TeamTRE?

Finally, as to why I’m not a PAP supporter, it’s largely ’cause* I don’t like the PAP’s attitude of insisting on the imposing the “right” values on S’poreans (even if I may agree with many these values like hating free-loaders and losers who expect something for nothing). I believe that:

… pensioners would be free to spend their savings on a Lamborghini following a rule change in the Budget.

From 2015, people reaching retirement age will be able to use pension pots however they want, rather than having to buy a guaranteed annual income.

Pensions minister Steve Webb said it was people’s “choice” whether to buy Italian Lamborghini sports cars.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-26649162

It’s our choice to do dumb things provided we are prepared to live with the consequences without moaning and groaning.

*Also I believe that a one-party state is bad for S’pore. For that think the problems in public transport and housing  that the PAP caused. BTW, one could argue that its recent changes in its public housing and tpt policies and its seeming change in FT PMET policy is geared at winning the “Calm Persistent” voters over and moving “Hard Pressed Anxiety” voters into the “Calm Persistent” group; and the “Calm Persistent” voters into the “Optimistic Contentment’ category. It’s also trying to show S’poreans that the gd life can still be found here.

PAP govt missing the point on how to grow the economy?

In Economy, Political economy on 27/03/2014 at 4:54 am

Growing the economy doesn’t mean more FTs, nor more start-ups, nor more financing of SMEs (owners use money to buy property, flashy cars and donate to WP LOL), but an innovation ecosytem.

This comment by someone analysing the stagnation in the West applies here too

What we need if we are to avoid the much-feared “secular stagnation” is not many small startups—or an obsession with financing “SMEs”–but an innovation ecosystem in which these new firms are made relevant through a dynamic interaction of public and private investments. This requires a public sector able and willing to spend large sums on education, research and those emerging areas that the private sector keeps out of (because of high capital intensity and high technological/market risk); large firms which reinvest their profits not in share-buybacks but in human capital and R&D; a financial system that lends to the real economy and not mainly to itself; tax policy that rewards long run investments over short run capital gains; immigration policy that attracts the best and the brightest from around the world; and rigorous competition policy that challenges lazy incumbents rather than letting them get away with high prices and parasitic  subsidies.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2014/02/invitation-mariana-mazzucato

Given the importance the PAP places on growth (a growing economy translates into voters: a Hard Truth that went wrong when the PAP forgot that growth must benefit voters), one can only hope it focus on creating an innovative ecosystem, rather than talk about it, as it has done for yrs on end.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/productivity-ageing-population-immigration/

Finnish education system aimed at creating unemployment?

In Casinos, Economy, Financial competency, Uncategorized on 26/03/2014 at 4:38 am

S’poreans who laud the Finnish education system may want to think again. Look at the unemployment figures in this chart. Look st the Finnish the S’porean figures. Finnish education better than ours leh? Our system not that bad leh? worse for rapid PAP haters, govt is promising change. LOL

Here’s another inconvenient fact for those who want us to be more Finnish. A S’porean studying there tells me that slot machines are everywhere: in convenience stores, shopping centres etc.

On gambling on per capita basis and because of our casinos, we juz behind the Ozzies. Restrictions for locals? What restrictions? Only restricted if cannot pay and pay. OK, OK, terms and conditions even then apply. Finland is a distant third.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/02/daily-chart-

Coming back to education, the fact that PISA ranks China (OK Shanghai as tops) in education, doesn’t deter wealthy Chinese parents from wanting a posh, private British education (think s/o JBJ). No they want potatoe speaking, half Chinese, half ang moh sons: they want a better education for their kids.

My serious point, is that education is a very complicated topics. And we shouldn’t trivalise a debate on education with throwing data willy nilly to support an ideological position, even if one LKY (the PAPpy haters tremble and cross their hearts at the mere mention of his name) does it. Remember his remarks about the kids in neighbourhood schools that gave the govt grief?

In fact, data has to be analysed, not used as sticking plaster to support or denounce any given position on any issue. There are no “right” facts, juz facts.

 

DBS CEO proves worth of FT where “T” stands for Talent

In Banks on 25/03/2014 at 4:50 am

DBS Bank yesterday said that it will buy the Asian private banking business of Societe Generale for US$220 million, accelerating its ambition of becoming a leading wealth manager in Asia.

The deal will also widen the gap with DBS’s closest rival, the Bank of Singapore, a unit of OCBC Bank.

The price represents about 1.75 per cent of assets under management (AUM), based on the AUM of Societe Generale Private Banking Asia (SGPB Asia) of US$12.6 billion as at last Dec 31. This is a steal: OCBC in 2oio paid US$1.46bn which represents 5.8% of the unit’s assets under management, after adjusting for surplus capital of US$550m*.

Last Tuesday’s BT went on: DBS’s AUM will go up by about 23 per cent to S$85 billion from the current S$69 billion with the purchase, seven months after it was reported the French lender wanted to divest the business to redeploy capital into its core markets.

Swiss bank UBS is the largest private bank in Asia-Pacific, followed by Citi Private Bank and Credit Suisse, in that order according to trade journal Private Banker International in a 2012 survey.

That survey ranked DBS and Bank of Singapore ninth and 10th, respectively.

DBS is onto a winner with this FT and his FT COO. Well DBS deserves it, given the FTs it has had where “T” stands for Trash. SGX needs that kind of luck where both its CEO and COO are FTs where “T” certainly doesn’t stand for Talent. They did Temasek no favours by saying everything was kosher about the share price movements of Olam (More on this next week).

Coming back to OCBC. Its CEO is a Hongkie FT with great credentials. But he hasn’t shown whether the “T” is for Talent or Trash. So far the mkt inclines to the latter. OCBC’s share price crashed (and have yet to recover) when OCBC annced purchase of Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank few months ago. Deal is still pending. Hopefully, it dies a natural death.

My fav bank is still UOB where the chairman and CEO are true blue S’poreans. But UOB has limited visions which suits my taste here. DBS is for those who want to own a bank can be the leading regional bank in place of CIMB. It always had the vision but the FTs leading it let it down. Gupta has the talent (and luck) to make it the leading regional bank despite DBS not having significant presences in Indonesia and M’sia. It’s expansion plans in Indonesia were thwarted. S’pore has to play ball with Indonesia (allowing Indonesian banks more privileges here) for DBS to be able to buy Temasek’s Bank Danamon stake.

Finally, yesterday’s BT had a story about the difficulties our three banks were facing. UOB’s finance director said “Funding pressures will serve as a growth constraint for mid-sized banks like us outside of Singapore, particularly amid a backdrop of tightened liquidity conditions in the region. UOB has always emphasised funding stability. We must also be selective in the customer segment we engage in and avoid large concentration risks.” Taz straight talk.

So is [C]ompetition in US-dollar funding is likely to intensify, given the anticipated growth in trade financing, and the liquidity requirements of Basel III, says OCBC’s Mr Tan. Trade financing is still mostly greenback-denominated.

DBS’s Ms Chng says: “The so-called ‘balkani-sation’ of the financial landscape is an emerging risk, potentially resulting in captive capital and liquidity pools within each jurisdiction and impacting the pursuit of synergies across regional operations.”

But  sadly they couldn’t resist sprouting PR rubbish

“From a capital perspective,” says Darren Tan, chief financial officer of OCBC Bank, which is negotiating to buy Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank, “we prefer to acquire majority stakes where possible. However, in instances where a majority stake is not immediately available, we will still give the opportunity due consideration if there is strategic value in the acquisition.”

United Overseas Bank’s approach to overseas growth is to expand the platform for customers to tap trade flows within the region, says its CFO, Lee Wai Fai.

DBS puts priority on pursuing organic growth, and adopts “a disciplined approach” to M&A, says Chng Sok Hui, its CFO … She adds that DBS is adopting a digital strategy to expand its footprint in growth markets.

What do they mean?

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*My 2010 analysis: But maybe OCBC shld have waited. The purchase of ING’s Asian private banking business could come to haunt OCBC. A few days before this deal was annced, ING sold its European biz, at a fraction of the multiple that it got for Asia. Only time will tell if the growth in Asian wealth and OCBC’s ability to grow the private banking biz will justify the hefty premium that OCBC paid.

It paid US$1.46bn which represents 5.8% of the unit’s assets under management, after adjusting for surplus capital of US$550m. This compares with the 2.3% measure paid by Julius Baer for ING’s Swiss assets which is in line with another European purchase by an American private equity group of a smallish private banking outfit — RHJI’s purchase of Kleinworth Benson from Commerzbank.

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/ocbc-reward-for-avoiding-balls-up/

Trumpets pls. BTW, I don’t blame the previous FT CEO of OCBC, Richard O’Connor. He was retiring. In such circumstances, usually the CEO would not take the lead in such a move: he’d go with the flow. Rightly, as he wouldn’t be the person running the show.. This is what happened here, I’m reliably informed. BTW too, he did a great job. Ngiam Tong Dow (remember him) called him an honorary S’porean, I think.

Reason why S’poreans migrating, not reproducing?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 24/03/2014 at 4:23 am

… Google managers need to keep their staff happy because, Mr Teller says, you don’t need your manager’s permission to leave a particular section if you believe they are behaving in an obnoxious manner.

“Not only will you leave but everyone will leave and that guy is going to find himself voted off the island by his own people,” he adds. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25880738) Emphasis mine.

Hmm bit like general elections. Opps forgot that we got the GRC system. So we can’t vote the PAP out even if another 11%  of the voters change their minds about the PAP in the next GE. Those who predict that in the next GE, the PAP will lose power should remember this in their lucid moments when they lapse into sanity.

Seriously, maybe the number of true blue S’poreans, migrating (https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/spore-inc-are-local-talents-emigrating-too-fast/) and the low birth rate* is the way S’poreans are telling the PAP that the PAP sucks? Even if 60% of the voters continue voting for the PAP.

But never mind, maybe PAP is thinking like this?

After the uprising of the 17th of June

The Secretary of the Writers Union

Had leaflets distributed …

Stating that the people

Had thrown away the confidence of the government

And could win it back only

By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier

In that case for the government

To dissolve the people

And elect another?

(The writer, Bertolt Brecht, was a famous playwright,  a Hollywood screen writer in the golden years of Hollywood in the 1930s) and a Marxist activist.) https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/rewriting-lkys-views-on-fts-and-if-so-why/

Coming back to the Google manager:

You must reward people for failing, he says. If not, they won’t take risks and make breakthroughs. If you don’t reward failure, people will hang on to a doomed idea for fear of the consequences. That wastes time and saps an organisation’s spirit.

Finding new transformational ideas is like sending out a team of scouts to explore uncharted terrain for new mountains to climb, he says.

“If you shame them when they come back, if you tell them that they’ve failed you because they didn’t find a mountain, no matter how diligently they looked for or how cleverly they looked for it, those scouts will quit your company.”

But this is no excuse for those in Home Team. They are not creative types: they are employed to prevent things happening (breach of border security) or escalating (senior police commanders). From the I(ndian?) http://theindependent.sg/review-the-home-team/

BTW, I’m glad the Indian stopped the self-defeating habit of not allowing one to read its article unless one “Liked” it. I always moved on. I mean how to “Like” something before one read it? So PAPpish or CCP, not the spirit of the world’s largest democracy.

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*Update at 5.00am: Juz read this

Now the big problem is a rock-bottom low birthrate — with a fertility rate under 1.2 – barely  half that necessary to replace the current population, which threatens to turn this ultra-dynamic city state into a giant old-age home.

The reasons for this plunge, according to demographer Gavin Jones at the National University of Singapore, lie largely in such things as long working hours and ever-rising housing costs, something that has been boosted by foreign purchases of private residences. With large apartments increasingly expensive, Singaporeans, particularly those with children, often think of emigrating to less expensive or at least roomier places such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand. One recent survey estimated that over half of Singaporeans want to migrate; the World Bank estimates upward of 300,000 Singaporeans have moved abroad, accounting for almost one in 10 citizens. …

.One key element relates to focusing on how to nurture families once again, and to recapture that sense of Singaporean-ness that makes the place so special. It is not so much a matter of financial incentives — these have not worked — as in controlling housing costs, expanding space for families,  and most importantly, finding better ways to balance life and work.

Already some initial steps to humanize the metropolis are taking place. These include a remarkable expansion and improvement of green space, and attempts to decentralize work around the newer state housing estates and commercial developments. Steps to increase the size of apartments, repurpose aging shopping and office structure for housing as well as encouraging more home-based work could also prove helpful. These changes will be critical if the world’s most successful city wants to remain so in the decades ahead.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2013/07/18/singapore-needs-a-new-sling/

How SPH, MediaCorp can get more productive and profitable

In Humour, Internet, Media on 23/03/2014 at 7:21 am

Employ robot writers to replace the Chua sisters, Han, Warren and Yaacob’s sis (Even though she needs the job as Cherian, her hubbie, is leaving NTU soon), among many others.

Not as though the technology isn’t there.

The Los Angeles Times was the first newspaper to publish a story about an earthquake … – thanks to a robot writer.

Journalist and programmer Ken Schwencke created an algorithm that automatically generates a short article when an earthquake occurs.

Mr Schwencke told Slate magazine that it took around three minutes for the story to appear online.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26614051

Here’s more

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-26689983

But let’s be fair, robots could be used productively by the anti-PAP paper activists at TOC* and many other blogs (TRE excepted, ’cause TRE makes it very, very clear that its mission is to provide the alternative voices not reported in our constructive, nation-building media.). Robots could replace regular TRE posters like “oxygen”. Kishore of the LKY School should install one to produce his chim pro-China, anti-Western; or pro PAP pieces.

A serious piece on productivity: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/productivity-ageing-population-immigration/

Update at 10am: Thinking about it, I too can use a robot to bitch about that ACS sneerer, VivianB, Auntie Sylvia, her baiyee and the two  GGs. Also for my praise of WP Low, the scholar and elite schoolboy at TRE and the SDP RI doctors treating Mad Dog Chee. My very serious point is that when we don’t think thru the issues, but instinctively give way to our prejudices when talking, writing;  we might as well turn over the writing, talking to robots.

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*Ya I got bias against TOC https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/neighbours-show-up-the-spore-system-for-gd-and-bad/

Neighbours show up the S’pore system, for gd and bad

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Political governance, Public Administration on 22/03/2014 at 5:41 am

The governor of Jakarta has been in the news recently because he was nominated by a major Indo political party to be a presidential candidate. He is a very popular choice because he is seen as being against inefficiency, maladministration and corruption.

What our constructive, nation-building and PAP-allied media doesn’t tell us is that he before he entered politics, he sold furniture. He was no scholar, general or admiral like paper generals Kee Chui and MoM Tan (and before them Lui, Pinkie, Teo or Cut and Run George). He was an ordinary citizen who cared enough to enter politics.

This reminds me: a PAPpy-hater complained that http://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/adequate-water-supply-is-common-sense-not-foresight. Well going by the following BBC extract,

London-based Inmarsat said its engineers realised at an early stage that the aircraft had probably flown for several hours on a northern or southern track, and it was very unlikely that the plane could have headed north over countries with sophisticated air defence systems.
The company further said that it had informed the Malaysian authorities of the information, through an intermediary company, on 12 March, but this was not publicly acknowledged until 15 March.
Furthermore, the authorities continued to search in the South China Sea and Malacca Straits during that time, despite the information suggesting that the plane had flown on much further.

The M’sian officials lacked common sense. At least the then PAP cabinet had the common sense to do make sure we had adequate water supplies. I can’t be sure of the present cabinet. What do you think?

Flooding the city with FTs but not increasing the supply of hospital beds. Worse denying that there is a shortage. http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/21/dr-amy-khor-need-to-put-hospital-bed-crunch-in-context/. Err actually this gd TRE piece shows that there are advantages in having an elite schoolboy and scholar on the team. TeamTre has one such person. The TeamTRE-generated analysis is a lot better than the TOC team’s inhouse generated analysis.  For reportage TOC is miles ahead.

BTW, TOC, the chamion of free speech and a free internet, has disallowed my FaceBook avatar from commenting on their FB wall. Gee and they got the cheek to call for the govt to allow greater freedom of expression? Juz as intolerant as MIW? At least MIW are not hypocrites. They openly endorse the idea that only the “right” tots are allowed to be expressed. LOL.

TRE, in contrast, republishes pieces where I ridicule the readership’s excesses in hating all things PAP. Now that is walking the walk of freedom of expression.

WP should resurrect its 1984 manifesto and 1991 speeches?

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 21/03/2014 at 4:55 am

(Or “Back to the future for WP in next GE?

In the course of helping the author of Dissident Voices in the research for the sequel, I borrowed the WP 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book from the National Library, Marine Parade branch. I couldn’t find it on the shelves so I asked the librarian if it was “protected” by an invisibility field or was only available to the “right” people. No, it wasn’t hidden away under lock and key. It was openly displayed on the shelf near the PAP’s 50th anniversary book. But it is such an inconspicuous volume that I missed it.

The book told me things that the ST never reported about the 1984 and 1991  general elections. Remember that these events happened before the internet age. If the media didn’t report something, it didn’t exist for practical reasons (Somewhere I blogged on how the 1988 results for Eunos GRC came as a surprise: WP nearly won).

I learnt that the 1984 election manifesto was entitled”Wake Up to Your Freedom , It’s Time”. calling for the people to vote for “the Hammer for a caring society”. The WP called for

— Free and adequate medical care for the needy

— Commission to review education policy

–Free schooling and equal opportunities in education for children from poor families

— Workers’ rights

— Reduced CPF contributions and the right to take your CPF savings at 55

— Adequate care for the aged

— Greater share forSsingaporeans in the economic wealth

— Help for the disabled

— Abolition of tax subsidies and privileges for the rich

— Reasonable compensation for acquired properties

— Abolition of tax on water, light and telephone services

— Review of all fees paid to government and statutory boards

— Guaranteed personal for every citizen

— Freedom from exercise of arbitrary power and protection of citizen’s rights

All this in response to the younger PAP’s ministers call to vote for the PAP for a Swiss std of living.

Compare this to the 2011 manifesto (Key Highlights) which has since been watered down. No more public tpt nationalisation.

I find the 1984 manifesto more stirring and, more importantly, rationally relevant today. True the ideas in the manifesto sounded like pie-in-the-sky in 1984 (when I voted for the WP because I believed that a one-party state was bad for S’pore even though I was happy with most of what LKY, Dr Goh and the other Water Margin “bandits” were doing for us: ya I that ungrateful), but the ideas are no longer rubbish.

According to the PAP we now have a Swiss standard of living (huh? OK, like us the Swiss are unhappy about immigration, so unhappy that in a recent referendum they told the govt to restrict immigration)), and it’s a fact that we got oddles of money in the reserves (though you wouldn’t think so reading Chris Balding and his mindless “hate S’pore” groupies) thanks partly to Dr Goh’s ideas: doesn’t this mean we can now afford the things WP was calling for in 1984?

As regards the danger of overspending, we got the capital, and part of the income from it locked away from the govt in power, whether it be PAP or not. So the govt can only spend what it raises in taxes and the like, what with borrowing requiring the president’s approval.

So the ground is fertile for trying shumething new without worrying that the new policies cannot be reversed.

Another interesting fact I learnt is that according to the book in the 1991 GE, speeches centred mainly on bread-and-better issues:

The PAP would give beautiful promises before elections but there would always be strings attached — service charges would see a hike soon after.

— Under PAP’s reign, it would be difficult to maintain a family and provide decent education for the next generation.

— Their policies have promoted social inequality and a widening of the rich-poor divide.

— Job security for the workers was pathetically limited.

Sounds familiar?  Back to the future?

So, all in all, JBJ and his merry men of bicyle thieves*, ex-Woodbridge patients* , opportunists and economic illiterates were prescient. More prescient than me at least (trained lawyer and wannabe corporate financier). They were prescient earlier than Dr Chee who was still in shorts in 1984. Remember he had been banging away since the 1990s about growing inequality etc as the SDP rightly never fails to remind us. Well JBJ and his merry men had been doing so earlier.

With this track record, why doesn’t WP remind us that it called the future right in 1984 and 1991?

One reason could be that Low is a modest man, not prone in triumphalism; he was Organising Secretary in 1988. Another reason could be that the WP thinks that in the real world the public has a bad impression of the WP in those years even though JBJ is fondly remembered in cyberspace. History began only in 2001, after Low took power from JBJ.

It’s a fact (not a Hard Truth or a Heart Truth) that after the 1997 GE, the WP went AWOL (or is it MIA?).

It went so AWOL or MIA that it could only field two candidates in 2001. It had wanted to field a GRC team too but one James Gomez** it is alleged screwed up, even though publicly Low took responsibility for the balls-up. In 1988, in the first GE under the uber gerrymandering GRC system, it fielded 32 candidates of uneven quality and contested 6 GRCs and 14 SMCs. In 1991 it fielded 13 candidates in 2 GCs and 5 SMCs. in 1996 it fielded 14 candidates in 3 GRCs and one SMC (Houygang). The candidates in 1991 and 1997 were the kind of people voters were comfortable with.

True the leadership had a major distraction that started when JBJ as the editor of the Hammer, even though he didn’t understand written Tamil, published a letter written in Tamil. Let these extracts tell the story.

Legal Action: An Tamil Article Published on THE HAMMER
In November 1995, the Party and the whole of its Central Executive Council found itself the object of two defamation suits filed by five PAP Tamil MPs and eleven members of the Organising Committee of the Tamil Language Week arising from an article published in the Party organ, “The Hammer”. The Plaintiffs’ complaint in both suits was that the article implied that their efforts to promote the Tamil Language had been less than sincere.Members of the Central Executive Council under suit by PAP Tamil MPs and the Organising Committee of the Tamil Language Week were:-
Chairman Dr Tan Bin Seng
Vice-Chairman A. Rahim Rahman
Secretary-General J. B. Jeyaretnam
Assistant Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang
Treasurer Sim Say Chuan
Organising Secretary Ng Ah Chwee
Committee Member Lim Ee Peng
Committee Member James Teo Kian Chye
Committee Member James Tan Joo Leng
Committee Member K. Mariappane
Committee Member Chan Keng Sieng
Eventually, in September 1997, the Party and its Central Executive Council members agreed to pay the five PAP Tamil MPs by 6 instalments, damages for defamation of $200,000/- (inclusive of legal costs). The suit by the eleven members of the Organizing Committee was in the course of hearing at time of writing.
 …

Judgment: A Tamil Article Published in THE HAMMER
By the said Judgment given at the High Court on the 30th November 1998 that Jeyaretnam, A Balakrishnan and the workers’ party were collectively and severally ordered to pay ten of the plaintiffs in the said suit a total sum of $265, 000/- for damages and costs to be taxed.The Worker’s Party’s appeal against the said judgment was dismissed on 21 April 1999. By then the total sum had snowballed to close to half a million dollars, inclusive of legal costs.

(Above extracts from http://archive.is/lSomP#selection-1561.0-1583.184)

(Update at 6.52 on day of publication: More on nuances of the defamation case: http://article14.blogspot.sg/2012/03/who-got-facts-wrong-kenneth-jeyaretnam.html and http://www.google.com.sg/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lrwc.org%2Fws%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2012%2F03%2FDefamationinSingapore.pdf&ei=N3ErU56GM877rAfhr4D4BA&usg=AFQjCNEGC0kB5Gwv5vdRztQr1ooO1060KA&bvm=bv.63316862,d.bmk)

Whatever the reason for not invoking the past in the past since 2001, the WP should seriously rethink the strategy of trying to be near-clones of the MIW. It was the right strategy in the noughties, and it culminated in the victories in 2011 (it campaigned as the voters’ co-driver to the PAP), 2012 and 2013. Huat ah.

But is it the right strategy for the next GE? For the reasons given above, I think not. It’s like the by-election strategy that was adopted by accident in 1991 (JBJ didn’t want it but he couldn’t get enough WP candidates); gd idea for its time but by the end of the decade had outlived its usefulness.

What do you think?

Especially if the ideas expressed here (http://thehearttruths.com/2014/03/19/truth-exposed-how-the-pap-will-crash-the-singapore-economy/take root in the real world), not juz  cyberspace i.e.”cowboy towns” (actually paper-warriors’ alternative reality).

As someone who wants for starters, an opposition that deprives the PAP of a two-thirds parliamentary majority, I don’t want the next GE to be a rerun of the 1997 one.

*OK, OK . Only one of each.  But there were many “strange” MP candidates, pre 1988. But thinking about it only those who perceived reality differently from other S’poreans would have dared take on the PAP in the 70s and 80s.  Remember LKY was no wimp like Goh or Pinkie; he was the leader of Water Margin “bandits”.

**Yup the same Gabra Gomez of 2006. His instructors in BMT would sure have been real nervous during range, and grenade throwing. In 2011, SDP made sure he kept away from the form filling.

Olam: Nomura recomends hanging on, OCBC says accept

In Commodities on 20/03/2014 at 4:47 am

Nice to see that Nomura agrees with me on Olam, one of the world’s biggest trader of coffee, rice and cashew nuts.

Nomura advised Olam shareholders to reject Temasek unit Breedens’ takeover offer of S$2.23 a share, saying it believed the commodities firm was worth around S$2.50 a share.

“From a long-term perspective, we still see significant value in Olam, as various gestating assets start contributing over the next few years,”

Nomura estimates that Olam’s earnings could grow by more than 20% per annum in the next three years.

It added that Temasek’s emergence as Olam’s majority shareholder was positive for shareholders, as this would help reduce concerns over the firm’s access to funds, which is key in global supply chain businesses.

Temasek’s offer price which works out to about 13.3 times estimated earnings for 2014 — was not expensive as it was in line with recent transactions in the agriculture business.

Citi Research in a note last Friday that it does not expect a high success rate for the offer, given that Olam is currently midway through working its asset portfolio towards full contribution.

OCBC recommended that investors accept the offer or sell into the market if the price there is higher

“While things are moving in the correct direction, the medium-term outlook for commodities, especially hard commodities, continues to remain quite challenging in our view … do not expect to see a competing offer for Olam.”

 

When global rankings don’t flatter, PAP’s evolving response

In Economy, Humour, Political economy on 19/03/2014 at 5:03 am

“Troubles come in threes” is an old English saying.

he PAP may have reason to agree. The PAP has had three unflattering rankings. First off was the one early this yr from the people behind the Corruption Index.

Remember Ng Eng Hen getting upset with Transparency International (TI) for giving Singapore a “poor” rating last year for the way it spends money buying weapons. He said that TI’s assumptions for its assessment were flawed. He questioned its move to group Singapore in the same category as Iraq and Afghanistan. TRE rightly pointed out that given if the government finds TI not to be credible as Dr Ng has alleged in Parliament, perhaps the government should stop using TI’s rankings and surveys altogether.

For a start perhaps, CPIB could stop using TI’s rankings on its website. Presently, it prominently displays TI’s CPI on its home page.

Next, CPIB could remove all references to TI on its website [Link]:

[Err don’t think this is done]

Also, PM Lee should remember not to quote TI in his speeches anymore [Link]:

(http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/02/19/dr-ng-condemns-tis-defence-spending-rating-for-sg/)

Smart people TeamTRE. TRE readers should note that the public face of TRE is a scholar and elite schoolboy. And they hate elites even though one of elites is on TeamTRE. Kinda irrational?

This was followed by EIU naming S’pore as the most expensive city in the world. Tharman rubbished this: My take on Tharman’s take.

BT, part of the constructive, nation-building SPH came out with a piece rubbishing the basis of the index Index and saying that it was not applicable to locals. Extract from BT is at end of article. Kinda long and boring.

Finally there was S’pore’s appearance at 5th spot in the Crony-Capitalism Index http://www.economist.com/news/international/21599041-countries-where-politically-connected-businessmen-are-most-likely-prosper-planet.

So far, there has been conspicuous silence from the govt and its media running dogs (apologies to the dogs) allies, even though the new media is flogging the story with glee, together with the takeover of Olam: anything to do in the PAP?

Could it be that the PAP has realised that silence is golden when it comes to responding to unflattering rankings. Perhaps it  has realised the self-defeating nature of rubbishing the unflattering ranking. It gives more publicity to the ranking, shows how hurt it feels and its rubbishing leaves PAP supporters wondering if the assumptions or basis of flattering rankings too are rubbish especially if the rankings come from the same organisation like in case of TI’s rankings.

As someone who hates triumphalism of any sort (the fates get tempted), I hope that the PAP’s silence extends to flattering ratings too. Pigs likely to fly first.

SINGAPORE may have climbed five spots to claim the “unenviable title” of the world’s most expensive city, according to a bi-annual ranking compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), but economists downplay the significance of the results.

While acknowledging the undeniable existence of rising price pressures here, economists The Business Times spoke to cautioned against extrapolating that the cost of living for locals has skyrocketed.

This is because two key factors – currency fluctuations and the survey’s expatriate focus – would “automatically limit” such deductions.

In order to achieve comparative indices, EIU’s Worldwide Cost of Living survey converts each country’s prices into US dollars. Therefore, a weaker yen pushed Tokyo – last year’s most expensive city – down to sixth place, and this paved the way for Singapore to claim the dubious honour this time around.

Therefore, Singapore’s ascent to costliest city was due in part to currency fluctuations – EIU noted that over the last decade, Singapore has seen 40 per cent currency appreciation.

Said UOB economist Francis Tan: “There’s so much (buzz) about Singapore taking the top spot, but a lot of this has been fuelled by the fluctuations in different currencies. I wouldn’t read too much into it, because next year we could be number 6 again.”

Mizuho Bank economist Vishnu Varathan added: “If one were to look at cost of living from the point of view of a domestic person, then currency movements arguably don’t matter as much.”

CIMB economist Song Seng Wun was also keen to highlight the survey’s expatriate focus and its purpose as a tool for determining foreigners’ salaries.

In its description of the survey, EIU said: “The survey itself is a purpose-built Internet tool designed to help human resources and finance managers calculate cost-of-living allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers.”

Still, emphasising that the basket of goods is “fairly broad to address a lot of essentials”, Jon Copestake, editor of the report, told BT: “The survey is also comparative between locations so it could be argued that if a city is most expensive for expats, then why not for everyone?”

But Mizuho’s Mr Varathan pointed out that “the survey has got inherent biases”: “As they’re looking to compare (like-for-like) items, they probably missed out on some local stuff, and that’s going to work against us. For example, if we take the price of a cappuccino, it will likely set you back about $5. But that’s not the same as getting Ah Poh’s coffee at Golden Shoe.”

Limitations aside, all three economists agreed that the survey results are worth reflecting upon, especially since currency fluctuations only tell part of the story.

Noting that Singapore’s rising price prominence has been “steady rather than spectacular”, EIU said that the city-state was the 18th most expensive city 10 years ago.

It said that Singapore has some structurally expensive items that “skew the overall cost of living upwards”, including cars. This has meant that transport costs in Singapore are almost three times higher than in New York.

Added EIU: “In addition, as a city-state with very few natural resources to speak of, Singapore is reliant on other countries for energy and water supplies, making it the third most expensive destination for utility costs.”

Although the survey’s findings could suggest that Singapore may be losing its cost competitiveness, UOB’s Mr Tan thinks otherwise: “There’s a reason why Singapore is expensive, and there’s a price to pay for everything. If (multinational corporations) want to be in a country where you push a button and things work, where there is near-zero political risk, where the business environment is vibrant – they’ve got to pay a premium for that.”   5March BT

Olam: Hang on, buy for the ride?

In Africa, Commodities, Temasek on 18/03/2014 at 4:50 am

(Or “Temasek and Ho Ching haters getting more frus“)

Methinks that all those posters on TRE’s piece on Olam are banging their private parts real hard and crying in frustration http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/15/temasek-leads-consortium-to-buy-out-debt-ridden-olam/ . They missed making $ and are also upset that Temasek made gd (but peanutty ) money supporting Olam. Even those who pretend rationality while hating all things PAP ( s/o JBJ and Chris Balding?) can only sputter that if Olam is so gd, why buy now not earlier? May I suggest that they read FT’s Lex (behind paywall): squeezing the shorts leh; and Breakingviews (see below).

My tots on the stock: don’t tender the shares. Let’s go for the ride. At worse, kanna bot out if delisted. If buying lose only “peanuts” if kanna bot out. Remember my previous tots which TRE republished late last yr?

Last chance to buy Olam?

More bull points to add to this:

– When Olam released its quarterly results in early November, it showed it  had generated positive free cash flow – the first time in four years for a seasonally weak quarter.

Its executive director of finance and business development A Shekhar told analysts and reporters: “We’re very pleased that we’re striking the right notes on both objectives of profit growth as well as free cash-flow generation.”

– Ang mohs are still sceptical about the parts of the stock’s biz model.

– But they bulls on Africa and Olam got an edge there. Africa is now seen a destination mkt, not juz an exporter of commodities i.e. origination mkt:

The commodities houses are attracted to the African destination business for three reasons. First, demand is rising fast, in many cases at double-digit annual rates. Second, many African governments subsidise basic commodities such as petrol and wheat, in effect guaranteeing a return to the traders. Third, most African countries lack the infrastructure needed to import raw materials, from silos for storing wheat and rice to terminals for unloading petrol. The commodities houses say that, as they build this infrastructure, they will be able to secure a market and benefit from years of rising demand. (FT report on Africa dated 10 November 2013)

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/temasek-tales-tlc-overpaid-olam-cheong-wont-read-this-in-tre-toc/

This is what the deal’s all about (other than squeezing the shorts’ balls, hard real hard):

The most immediate beneficiary of the buyout is Olam’s creditworthiness. Despite Temasek’s minority shareholding, the company has faced persistent queries about its debt load. That’s particularly damaging for a trading house like Olam, which relies on the confidence of its counterparties. In future, creditors will view Olam as an extension of its sovereign parent.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/03/14/temasek-buyout-throws-sovereign-weight-behind-olam/

My next piece of advice to those TRE readers who keep on cursing Temasek and its CEO but who end-up banging banging their balls in frustration: Go analyse SMRT.

Trmasek and Ho Ching haters should come up with new lines of attack. The world has moved on from the crisis of 2007-2009. The recovery of global markets means that post Temasek’s losses on ABC Learning, Barclays and Merrill Lynch/BOA, performance has been in line with the recovery in world equity markets. Two of its dogs are dogs no more:  Shin is 50% up from its purchase price (though how to exit is an issue), and go check the price of Chesapeake. And the glee over Olam has turned to tears as Olam powers ahead, giving Muddy Waters a bloody nose. Big playpen bully has met a bigger bully. True blue S’poreans and xenophobes should be cheering Ho Ching on, not cursing her. But then hatred of the PAP is often irrational.

Pope’s approach versus that of PAP

In Political governance on 17/03/2014 at 4:39 am

When I read this recently

In a long interview with a fellow Jesuit, now issued worldwide in book form, Pope Francis tellingly uses the metaphor of his Church as a field hospital.

“The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds,” he says.

“I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars. You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.”,

I could not help but think of Kee Chui’s (and by extension that of the PAP govt’s) attitude towards helping the needy as related here by Uncle Leong who in the extract also gives a gd response to the PAP’s Hard Truth of not helping whenever possible:

Those who genuinely want to help?

Mr Chan also asked his fellow MPs “not to judge” when stories of any of these families in trouble are highlighted in the media.

“Very often, there are very complicated stories behind each and every case. Very often the social workers and the community have been quietly working behind the scenes helping these families in need without fanfare,” said Mr Chan.

He added, “Those who genuinely want to help…we’ll be most happy to work with them. But for those with other reasons, it’s always difficult.”

However I am rather puzzled as to what he means or is trying to say with this remark. 

An example of a cardboard collector who wasn’t really needy?

The minister brought out the example of a woman who was featured in a news report.

“In 2009, there was a public uproar after a video posted online by news service Agence France Presse featured an elderly woman in Singapore who made a living by scavenging for scrap cardboard and selling it,” Mr Chan said.

It was mentioned that checks by the government officials later revealed that she owned property, had savings and a family who wanted to help her – but she did not want to rely on them.

So when it was said that “she owned property”, does it mean she is staying in her own HDB flat or a private property?

What about the term “had savings”? Is it a few thousand dollars or more than $4,000?

What exactly does “had a family who wanted to help her – but she did not want to rely on them” mean?

From our experience in volunteering to do financial counselling for the last decade or so, we often come across cases whereby if a family member is asked by the authorities about their aged parent working for very low earnings, the answer may be, “We want to help, but my parent does not want our help.”

But think about it. If you were the family member being asked by the authorities why your elderly parent is on the streets picking up cardboard, would you want to give an answer to say that you do not have the means or intention of taking care of your parent?

At the end of the day, the fact is that there are so many elderly Singaporeans eking out a living by earning less than $10 a day collecting scrap cardboard or used drink cans.

To all these needy elderly Singaporeans it may be quite meaningless to hear a reply in Parliament citing one example of a scrap cardboard collector who arguably don’t really need to make “a living by scavenging for scrap cardboard and selling it.”

And Kee Chui is one of the more compassionate PAPpies because of his background: poor boy made gd. What about that sneering ACS boy from a privileged family?

How to really make all schools gd schools

In Internet on 16/03/2014 at 4:16 am

The education minister has been in ST’s headlines talking about making all schools gd schools. Tot he once said all schools are gd schools? So taz only an “aspiration’?. Bit like “one united nation , regardless of race, language or religion’?

Here’s a constructive suggestion: try online education?

“In the future, I suspect the best students who don’t have elite high schools to choose from will opt for online education. I find the prospect of a single great teacher lecturing on a subject to tens of thousands of students more realistic than improving the skills of tens of thousands of teachers”— On “The disruption to come”, Feb 11th 2014

Can then reduce elite schools in S’pore to RI, St Nick and SCGS. Yes RGS is not an elite school.

Asean travellers, KS, security conscious? Use Changi Int’l

In Airlines, Humour, Infrastructure on 15/03/2014 at 6:59 am

Home Team’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority has been in the sights of DPM Teo and netizens (a rare distinction: err where’s the co-driver?) for a series of recent balls-up. So the tragic disappearance of a MAS plane gave its PR team an opportunity to blow its trumpet, (justifiably, no BS or hype)

Visitor passports presented to immigration officers at Singapore checkpoints are screened against Interpol’s database of lost or stolen travel documents, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Tuesday.

And if a passport is one of more than 40 million on Interpol’s list, the officer is automatically alerted and the traveller pulled aside for further checks.

This procedure has been in place since May 2008, an ICA spokesman told The Straits Times.

He did not elaborate on how the system works, but security experts said that this verification typically takes just a few seconds.

But despite the fact that checks are quick, Singapore remains one of only a few countries that use Interpol’s database to ensure border security, experts noted. (Wed ST)

EDB, and the tourism board should be following this up with a regional advertising campaign:

“Taking a flight of more than an hr? Transit via S’pore: all passports are checked against Interpol’s database of lost or stolen passports. Does yr airport do this? Or are they like KL?”

BTW, a gd riposte to the M’sian Home Affairs minister’s comments

“I am still perturbed. Can’t these immigration officials think? Italian and Austrian (passport holders) but with Asian faces,” he was quoted as saying late on Sunday.,

would be for immigration officers will say that they use to seeing Chinese and Indian faces on MALAYsian passports. So no issues about seeing Asian faces on European passports.

Seriously comment shows he has prejudices, hangups or is still living in the mid 20th century.

Expats & us kanna pay & pay these bills

In Economy, Footie, Humour on 14/03/2014 at 4:44 am

(Update on 19th March at 9.55am: We most ex in Asia for World Cup http://sg.sports.yahoo.com/news/singapore-costliest-place-watch-world-cup-000511872.html. Thank you SingTel and MDA and Yaacob. PM, tot cabinet ministers chosen and remain on merit? What about the minister responsible for Malay affairs and info, formerly of environment ? Meritocracy? What meritocracy?)

One’s a necessity, the other’s a human rights issue for most, even PAPpies, which that brave but blur barking dog, Maruah, fails to highlight, even though it affects FTs, Maruah’s favoured group. Think I’m mean? Think the alleged “rioters”, drug mules, but not true blue S’porean Dan Tan or the alleged Jihadists.

Seriously, the PAP and its allies in the media must be shell-shocked going by their reactions to the EIU’s survey that ranked S’pore as the most expensive place to be an expat. Tharman’s explanation implies (unless he is trying again to be a comedian) that cars are only for expats: true blue S’poreans and ministers can only use public tpt? And I can’t stop laughing at the misreps in this http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/11/cnas-editor-the-high-cost-of-singapore-living/

There is one item that affects both locals and expats that Tharman, and Nicolas Fang and other members of the constructive, nation-building media running dogs don’t tell us Utility bills are also listed as big-ticket items by the EIU, but there is not much anyone can do to save there. Unless, of course, one were to turn off the air-conditioning.

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/03/world-s-most-expensive-city)

So why don’t they tell us aircon only for FTs? Or when will they tell us this? Giving ang moh lover Bernice Wong another opportunity to diss local buyah males; not that they don’t deserve it. BTW, she might now prefer this woman basher. http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/11/ft-accused-of-punching-sg-singer-resigns-from-company/

The human rights issue?  The cost of watching footie: We now know the cost of watching the coming World Cup but remember that EPL  and Champions’ and Europa leagues watching ain’t cheap: M’sia and HK are a lot cheaper. For that we have to thank SingTel’s aggressive bidding, its corporate ambitions (err its run by true blue S’poreans not FTs) and Yaacob’s finest at MDA.

But let’s be fair, the strong S$ that makes it cheap for us to shop in JB and other Asean cities has played its part in making S$ S’pore that expensive: Singapore, which has seen its nominal exchange rate appreciate by 40 percent over the past decade, will obviously have higher U.S. dollar prices. But that only matters to the shrinking group of expatriates who are paid in greenbacks. Most consumers care about costs in the currency in which they earn their living.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/03/05/singapore-is-not-the-worlds-most-expensive-city/

Here’s another good point: [These surveys] fail the simple test of people revealing their preferences by their decisions. Imagine a company that used the EIU study to ask its employees in Mumbai to tone down their wage expectations in 2014. They will make a beeline to recruiters’ offices – to search for jobs in Singapore.

Majulah Singapura. Despite what TOC and TRE readers claim, S’pore’s an attractive place: I’m still here for starters. So is Jack for all his grumbling. The PAP must have done shumething good? Right Jack? Think about that when S’pore Inc jacks up GST, utility bills, tpt fares, utility bills etc despite the budget surpluses or profits..

Let’s leave the last word to Banyan:

Much has changed in this part of the world since the original writers of the Lonely Planet series chose Singapore as the place to hole up and write their second volume: South-East Asia on a Shoestring. In sum, to survive on $10 a day (well, a bit more) in Singapore these days: don’t touch the cars, drink beer instead of wine, bake your own bread and eat your meals out at the hawker centres. And then it’s all a bit more reasonable. Which is more than can be said of foregoing the air-con.

————-

*World Cup costs from yesterday’s BT

All 64 of the matches will be free for people who either sign up for – or extend existing – mio TV Gold Pack contracts or standalone Barclays Premier League (BPL) contracts for 24 months.

The Gold Pack is a combination of entertainment and BPL content on the mio TV platform. The standalone BPL content package is available to both mio TV and StarHub subscribers.

Viewers who want a World Cup-only deal will pay a one-time price of $105, excluding GST. This is the most expensive World Cup fee to date – 19 per cent higher than the pre-GST price of $88 and 59 per cent higher than the early-bird price of $66 for the 2010 World Cup.

2014 World Cup pricing for business owners will be announced “shortly”, the operator said.

And http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/Insight-Down-South.aspx/?c={3054A244-0EAD-4847-A743-A2610B82E86B}

 

Productivity, ageing population & immigration

In Economy on 13/03/2014 at 4:37 am

It’s time for the govt to release productivity data on the various sectors rather than juz harp that productivity levels are not gd enough.. We can then see if the govt is telling us the truth that productivity increases lead to pay rises.

Cleaning and F&B are examples, however, of Singapore’s less productive sectors. These and sectors such as construction, security and retail have been hiring more workers and thus continue to pull down Singapore’s overall labour productivity growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say.

 This is why Singapore’s labour productivity was flat last year, a cautionary sign that despite “healthy signs that the economy is shifting to a new trend … we are not full steam ahead yet”, said Mr Lim. Singapore thus needs a “greater and broader sense of urgency” in its productivity efforts, he said.(5 March wed BT)

I read some where recently that Japan is one of the most productive nations as a result of aging and the refusal to let in the dogs FTs. The Japs use robots, lots of them.

But despite Japan’s success in growing per capita better than other Western countries (something we don’t hear from our Jap bashing ministers and their media allies) giving the lie that more FTs are needed, we need to accept that the PAP is not BSing completely when it comes to the consequences of ageing population and immigration.

Watch this “Face the Facts” BBC video

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25968269: Focus on why the US will still be growing faster than Europe Or Japan.

The number of people across the world over 65 years old will triple by 2050, drastically altering some countries’ demographic make-up, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Perceptions of this shift vary widely across the globe, the report says.

While 87% of Japanese believe the ageing population poses a problem to the country, only 26% of Americans agree.

The survey of 21 countries found that most people believe governments should be responsible for the care of their older populations.

These demographic shifts may adversely affect economies, as more elderly people depend on working-age men and women.

It’s a complex issue. And both the PAP, and GG and friends are not telling the truth.

Here’s another angle: http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/02/10/age-shifts-weaken-global-economys-shock-absorbers/

The ratio of middle-aged to young matter because matters because the global economy’s ability to withstand deflationary shocks is lower when the middle-aged cohort starts dominating the young. That’s because the former saves more for retirement. In the United States, the median householder in the 45-to-54-year age group has 6 times more assets excluding home equity than someone younger than 35. But it is young peoples’ spending that spurs new investment, which in turn soaks up the savings of the middle-aged.

When the ratio is rising, as it is today, a bigger group of the middle-aged are trying to deploy their savings. But because the younger group is smaller in relative terms, its consumption is inadequate to encourage investment. As a result, the savings chase a limited number of investment opportunities, pushing up prices. Even a minor shock can lead to severe market fallout.

This phenomenon has many names: some call it a “savings glut,” others prefer “secular stagnation”. But the global population’s age structure has a message for policymakers: don’t underestimate the risks from turmoil in even minor emerging markets. With its shock absorbers frayed, the world economy will struggle to negotiate deflationary speed bumps. As the ratio of the middle-aged to the young is forecast to carry on rising for the next two decades, markets are in for a rocky ride.

The fact that those of us who disagree that we need a lot more FTS must be prepared to acknowledge is that the PAP has conventional wisdom on its side. We cannot deny this. What we have to do is keep reminding the PAP and other voters that LKY, Dr Goh and gang went against conventional development wisdom by allowing the MNCs to invest here. MNCs were seen as the new “colonialists”. Today, every country (bar a few) want them to invest in their countries.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/us-experience-on-growing-gdp-via-productivity/

Cleaning and F&B are examples, however, of Singapore’s less productive sectors. These and sectors such as construction, security and retail have been hiring more workers and thus continue to pull down Singapore’s overall labour productivity growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say.

This is why Singapore’s labour productivity was flat last year, a cautionary sign that despite “healthy signs that the economy is shifting to a new trend … we are not full steam ahead yet”, said Mr Lim. Singapore thus needs a “greater and broader sense of urgency” in its productivity efforts, he said.(5 March wed BT)

Shows us the numbers ex these sectors then

Cleaning and F&B are examples, however, of Singapore’s less productive sectors. These and sectors such as construction, security and retail have been hiring more workers and thus continue to pull down Singapore’s overall labour productivity growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say.

This is why Singapore’s labour productivity was flat last year, a cautionary sign that despite “healthy signs that the economy is shifting to a new trend … we are not full steam ahead yet”, said Mr Lim. Singapore thus needs a “greater and broader sense of urgency” in its productivity efforts, he said.(5 March wed BT)

Shows us the numbers ex these sectors then

Constructive suggestions for anti-PAP paper warriors

In Internet on 12/03/2014 at 4:22 am

If there were an updated list of the Magnificent Seven bloggers, there is a gd chance that Roy Ngerng (Heart Truths) would be one of them. He is very active (online and in real world e.g. calling for a protest to protest conservancy increases in PAP-occupied areas), passionate in wanting regime change (via the ballot box), and his pieces have lots of charts and colour to make them easier reads.

While skimming thru the comments on a recent tract of his that TRE republished, I came across a post which asks Roy to focus on the fence-sitters, not the converted. It points out that only the true believers will read his pieces, thus wasting his hard efforts of writing the Heart Truths. He asks Roy to modify his writings to capture the “fence sitters”.As someone who wants (for starters) the PAP to have a less than two-thirds majority, I hope Roy listens. And I hope too that other polemic tract-writers move on from preaching to the converted (25- 30%) to trying to propagate their visions of S’pore to the 35% of voters (those who voted for Tan Cheng Bock)that are willing change their views and to listen to reasoned arguments, not haranguing. After all,  the PAP does that already. Better to do the opposite of what is boring and annoying people? Unless the bloggers think that the PAP way is the “right” way.

: 2cents:

Roy,

I confess that this is the first time that I actually read yr article. I doubt if more than 20 TRE readers will read the entire 8000-word that you have spent so much time & effort on.

It’s a shame as there is much to be garnered. So, I’d like to say thank you personally.

If you will permit me 2 observations.

I assume that your intent, judging from ALL yr activities reported, is to inform and persuade voters to your line of thought. Well, most of the readers @TRE do not need much persuasion, if any at all. It’s the ‘some’ amongst us, the fence-sitters and govt supporters who you should be writing mostly for.

1) Will they take >20 mins (400 word/min) to go thro’? When there are so many other topics fighting for their attention?

2) Putting myself into a PAP supporter’s shoes, I would already be mentally tuned out when I start to read. A fence-sitter may be less so.

That being the case, the use of ‘hypocrisy’ is a loaded and emotive term that will straightaway call up defensive mechanism when reading.

As I understand,
hy·poc·ri·sy = The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.

Or

the condition of a person pretending to be something he is not, especially in the area of morals or religion; a false presentation of belief or feeling.

I think that trying to convert a political view thro’ emotion via the written word is a very difficult task. To accuse one’s preferred party of ‘hypocrisy’ is a moral judgment. I doubt anyone likes that except detractors of the accused.

Approaching from a rationale or more objective angle would, I think, be more helpful to one’s intent of persuading another to weigh the evidence about to be presented – and, hopefully, change his view.

Perhaps, it’s just PAP’s blind side, if deliberate, that is dictating their warped approaches to policy matters. It’s hard for any supporter or fence-sitter to see any ‘pretence’ on PAP’s part. PAP actually and sincerely believe that their course of action is the right one for SGP.

That’s why many of those, we all know personally, who disagree with the policies would con’t to vote for PAP – because they see only sincerity, even if perhaps, misplaced, but no hypocrisy.

Likewise, why would they throw their hat in with an oppo that insist, incorrectly and maliciously (to them), on hypocrispy when they honestly see none? As if issues of national import are so cut & dry.

If my assumptions are wrong, pls disregard my rumblings. Rgds, 2cents.

Another post on another piece asks him to keep his arguments short and sweet. Gd point: he takes three continuous  posts in TRE to response to a critic. I kid you not, scroll to the comments: http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/10/roy-ngerng-is-taking-you-for-a-ride/. Again this is something many anti-PAP bloggers have to learn: keep their pieces short and sweet. If they want to write longish pieces, then learn from Alex Au. His pieces are long but they don’t feel long because he knows how to entertain the reading while being polemical.

And here’s a blogger  http://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/much-to-thank-for-beyond-the-last-50-years/ who is very concise, insightful, factual, and no bull or false rhetoric that Roy can usefully imitate.

Armchair Anarchist:

Dear Roy
If you are reading this. Please do not think me impertinent to offer you a small suggestion from an old geezer. Self imposed yourself to write articles to no more than 2 pages on MSWord using 11 font. Long articles such as the those you typically wrote don’t win arguments, short and sharp ones do. By limiting yourself, you will find efficiency of words and facts and collectively this will carry a bigger punch. In these days of short attention span, short and sharp riposte, not many care to read long articles. In the corporate world, your boss will tell you that if you cannot write a memo within 2 paragraphs, then don’t write it because no one will bother to read.

For some fairness and balance, here are two comments that are not constructive or flattering to Roy:

: Fully Agree:

I was surprised when Uncle Leong started co-authoring articles with this person with a weird surname.

He did not present any scintillating revelations but seemed to just grouse, show bar charts (and push the agenda for niche groups).

Now he has his facts wrong. How does he help Uncle Leong I wonder?

Cynical Investor: Taz the trouble with Roy, he doesn’t do his home work. And undermines his basic thesis (which I and many others share which is: “Why pay more when there are surplus funds?”)

This will keep those TRE readers who accuse me of being a PAPpy mole, the opportunity to spawning their disinfo. They members of PAP’s IB? They can now go earn their peanuts per post.

Focus on dividend growth, not yield

In Financial competency, Reits on 11/03/2014 at 4:25 am

Here’s some gd advice from the FT when buying dividend stocks:

However, experts warn investors should not be lured by high dividend payouts from individual companies, as this can entail risk. Instead, they note that dividend growth can result in much higher returns.

“Chasing a high dividend is a risky strategy; the yield might look attractive, but the risk is the dividend gets cut and the share price falls further,” said Adrian Lowcock, senior investment manager at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“The share price may have already fallen to reflect expectations the dividend will be cut – meaning the yield would then have risen,” he added. “We saw this in 2008/09 when the banks all had high yields but were not going to be paying dividends for many years.”

Investors should instead look for growing income, as these companies are likely to be financially more robust, growing their capital base.

So maybe time to think about SMRT https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/smrt-only-now-meh/?

And here’s a gd BT article on evaluating Reits: http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={651562920-19895-7719950079} High yields do not mean a Reit is an attractive buy, however. Yields are related to risk and growth potential, as investor Bobby Jayaraman pointed out in his 2012 book on Reit investing, Building Wealth Through Reits. The safer the Reit and the higher its growth potential, the lower its yields will be. This is because high demand from investors for these assets pushes up their price, thus lowering yields.

If you want to know more about the Reit structure http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={651939829-19894-8559931515}

Why PAP should be afraid but not not too afraid

In China, Humour, Internet, Malaysia, Political governance, Vietnam on 10/03/2014 at 4:49 am

Paper warriors can cause serious problems for paper generals. Take heart Richard Wan, SgDaily, Terry Xu etc. And NSP should put more effort and time on online activities, rather than pounding the streets and climbing stairs, even though P Ravi of NSP gets great workouts: but Ravi, skip the teh tariks at the end. And the Chiams start an online presence.

Online activism can be an accurate indicator of where revolutions might take place next, according to University of Manchester research.

Argentina, Georgia, the Philippines and Brazil are claimed to be most at risk of upheaval, according to this measure.

The Revolution 2.0 Index* was developed last year and identified Ukraine as the most likely to see political upheaval.

This index sees revolution being forecast by computer experts rather than political analysts … It provides a different view of how regimes are put at risk by protest movements, looking at online factors rather than street demonstrations.

The index produces a risk factor based on the level of repression and the ability of people to organise protests online.

(http://www.bbc.com/news/education-26448710)

But Yaacob, MDA, and the ISD can still relax a little: The highest risk comes in countries where there are protests against perceived injustices – but where there is relative freedom online.

Err we knowthat S’poreans don’t like to sweat at Hong Lim: ask Gilbert Goh. (Alternative reason: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/gg-crashes-new-indian-chief-needed/)

So get the people out in their tens of thousands to Hong Lim Green and keep up the online volume, then sure can effect regime change. But fortunately for the PAP, only the LGBTs can get out the crowd. Aand then only once in a pink moon.

Still if PM and the ministers want to make sure they get to keep their mega-salaries then they should start sending study teams to  Ethiopia, Iran, Cuba and China: At the lowest end of this 39-country index are countries such as Iran, Cuba and China because there is a lower level of risk of revolution in repressive countries with tight controls over the internet.

Actually, it juz might be easier to ban Facebook and other forms of social media on the grounds that users waste time on them during office hours (all those cat photos that a certain social activist posts during office hours). Users are subversives, undermining the govt’s productivity drive, the aim of which is to make S’poreans richer slaves.

Talking about the Ukraine, professor Richard Heeks from Manchester University, the creator the index, says: “But social media has been the core tool used to organise protests and maintain them by letting protesters know where they can get nearby food, shelter, medical attention, and so on.

“It has spread word about violence and has garnered support and assistance from overseas.”

BTW, S’pore, Cambodia and Laos are not on the index but the rest of Asean is

The Philippines (4th)

M’sia (14th)

Indonesia (26th)

Vietnam (29th)

Thailand (33rd: err data was up to 2012)

Burma (35th)

———————————————————-

*The index combines Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net scores, the International Telecommunication Union’s information and communication technology development index, and the Economist’s Democracy Index (reversed into an “Outrage Index” so that higher scores mean more autocracy). The first measures the degree of Internet freedom in a country, the second shows how widely Internet technology is used, and the third provides the level of oppression.

 

 

Iskandar, answer to rising costs, Reits & other cost tales

In Economy, Malaysia, Property, Reits on 09/03/2014 at 4:16 am

“The government has underestimated the impact of high business costs on our future economy,” said Inderjit Singh (Ang Mo Kio), urging the government to set up a cost competitiveness committee to tackle the root causes of soaring costs before SMEs and MNCs relocate with jobs in tow. He also asked the government to reverse its land divestment policy, which he deems a key reason behind high industrial rents.

Companies are facing a “triple whammy” of rising rents and utility bills, growing wage costs, and a shortage of workers, said Mr Singh, himself a businessman. And this “chronic” cost issue does not affect SMEs alone. “The top management of some large MNCs here … have expressed their serious concerns about the unrelenting increases of the cost of doing business coupled with the unavailability of workers,” he said.

Iskandar’s industrial parks are a “huge threat”, he said. If Singapore’s SMEs are forced to move to Johor, MNCs may follow their SME suppliers and subcontractors. “The exodus may be larger than we imagine … We risk hollowing out our economy in the future, and I would like to sound an alarm that we are close to the tipping point.”…

Though he acknowledged that PIC and PIC+ would help with topline revenues growth, Mr Singh said: “We are just trying to do too many things too fast, and this is hurting many companies.”

Both he and nominated MP R Dhinakaran, who is also managing director of Jay Gee Group, pointed to rising industrial and commercial rents as a key culprit of the high costs of doing business in Singapore.

Citing Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee’s comment at BT’s Budget Roundtable that rents rise as much as three-fold when leases are renewed, Mr Dhinakaran said: “In this economic climate, rental increases of this magnitude will be fatal for a large number of SMEs.”

Both Mr Singh and Mr Dhinakaran also linked the high rental costs to the government’s land divestment policy. “JTC was a landlord for 18 per cent of industrial property some 10 years ago, but today manages only 3 per cent of the market. This is a huge shift, and the government lost the ability to influence rental prices resulting in developers and investors making the money,” said Mr Singh.

“We have to reverse this policy, even if it means the government having to buy back some of the Reits. In any case, the biggest Reit players are government-linked entities like Mapletree and CapitaLand,” he added.

Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang) felt that certain cost increases – the restoration of CPF contribution rates for older workers, higher progressive wages for low-income earners and cost hikes due to tighter low-skilled foreign manpower policies – are justified, with “strong rationale”.

But she also said that business rents need “the touch of the State”, and asked the government to consider “cooling measures, especially for business rents”.

BT 5 March

Given that Ascendas (a GLC) is the biggest player in the industrial land arena: why do you think when the govt says this?

The government will intervene if it sees evidence of collusion or the abuse of market dominance by any landlord – including real estate investment trusts (Reits), said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck … in Parliament … calls for help with climbing business costs (and in particular, the affordability of business space) have grown louder both in and outside of Parliament in recent months.

Reits – some of which were formed after JTC and HDB divested space to private owners – have been blamed for shorter lease renewals and sharper spikes in rentals.

“We know that it has come up as an issue, many of you have raised it. We will monitor it,” said Mr Teo.

At the same time, he noted that “Reits are not necessarily the leading players in the rental space market, because they currently only own about 13 per cent and 16 per cent of retail and industrial rental spaces respectively. Like any other landlord, they have to compete in the rental market to attract tenants and cannot charge excessive rents”.

Mr Teo also said that rents for space are likely to moderate in the medium term, as the government has released a “significant amount of land”.

Over the next three years, about 145,000 square metres of new shop space will be completed each year. Over the same period, an average of 500,000 square metres of multiple-user factory space will come on-stream each year.

For the former, that represents more than double the average annual demand for such space in the last three years; for the latter, it is just under double.

(BT 7 March)

Silicon Valley S’pore style?

Entrepreneurship will also receive a boost, since by the end of this year, JTC will open two more blocks to incubate start-ups, as part of a cluster called JTC LaunchPad@one-north.

“It’s our answer to Silicon Valley,” said Mr Teo.

Calling Indons’ bluff and other Asean tall tales

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 08/03/2014 at 5:02 am

On 1 March, S’pore upped the stakes in its ongoing row with Indonesia on responsibility for the haze

Singapore has reiterated its call to the Indonesian government to share evidence relating to any involvement by Singapore-linked companies or Singaporeans in illegal land clearing practices in Indonesia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said this on Saturday in response to media queries on comments by Indonesian Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono.*

Now that S’pore has passed laws allowing it to prosecute , the Indons cannot bitch too hard about S’pore’s failures if it can’t provide evidence, what can S’pore do?. Note that Indon refused to give M’sia and s’pore details of where the fires occurred (which would help identify the culprits) saying “secret lah”. They had earlier bitched that M’sian and S’porean cos had started fires but so far have provided no evidence, despite requests.

Note the Indon parly has just started procedures for ratifying the Asean 2002 treaty on haze pollution.  When will it be ratified 2022? CNA reported on 3 March

Indonesia’s parliament is a step closer to ratifying the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution.

Parties representing nearly 65 per cent of lawmakers have agreed to ratify the treaty.

Only two political parties – the PDI-P and PKS – have opposed it.

They cited concerns over the violation of sovereignty, as the agreement would allow firefighters from ASEAN countries to extinguish fires on Indonesian territory.

The next step will see a draft bill being discussed, before the agreement is formally ratified in parliament.

Related light reading:

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

–    –  –

The chief minister of Selangor must be laughing all the way to the bank. Anwar Ibrahim was planning to depose him (both belong to the same gang) by first standing in a state by-election so that he could get into the state assembly. Well Anwar has now been convicted of sodomy http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26479642.

The court decision will affect Mr Anwar’s plans to compete in a key by-election in the state of Selangor this month, reports say.

A victory for Mr Anwar would mean he could become Selangor’s chief minister – widely seen as a powerful post.

The court said he could remain free on bail while he appeals against the verdict to the country’s highest court, AP news agency reported.

————————————————————————————————————————————–

*Mr Agung had said publicly that since 2013, the Indonesian police have launched 41 investigations against errant companies and individuals that may be involved in illegal land clearing practices in Indonesia.

Mr Agung said some of these cases involved Singapore-linked companies or Singaporeans.

MFA said that the Singapore government takes a serious view of these allegations.

It added that if there is credible evidence that Singapore-linked companies or Singaporeans were involved, the Singapore government intends to take further steps against these errant companies and individuals.

The ministry also urged the Indonesian government to take the necessary legal and enforcement action against errant companies or individuals, regardless of their nationality.

It said the primary responsibility for legal and enforcement action lies with Indonesia, where these companies and individuals were allegedly conducting such illegal activities.

MFA noted that a state of emergency has been declared in Riau province due to the severe haze arising from the ongoing forest and peatland fires there as well as fires elsewhere in Sumatra.

Singapore hopes that the fires will be quickly dealt with to prevent a recurrence of transboundary haze.

JBJ: cub & young adult yrs

In Uncategorized on 07/03/2014 at 6:39 am

I’m helping the author of “Dissident Voices” (reviewed here) on his follow-up book (DV II) which will include JBJ and Lee Siew Choh by doing the basic research. Here are my notes and observations on JBJ’s life up to the historical Anson victory. I’m publishing it (and subsequent notes and observations on JBJ etc) because my piece on Lee Siew Choh helped garnered some delicious tit-bits from readers that if verified can be used in the planned book e.g. that he was brilliant academically, winning prizes, and that a son was jailed for refusing to do NS. Hopefully, this berry-picking can be repeated for JBJ etc with yr help.

JBJ: cub & young adult yrs

Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam or J. B. Jeyaretnam  or more commonly and affectionately  “J.B.J.” was born on 5 January 1926,  into an Anglican family of Christian-Tamil descent in then Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) when his parents were on “home leave” from Malaya.

As his father was working in Muar [Who was his father’s employer? What was his occupation?], Malaya, he first went to school at a French convent in Muar.  He then attended Muar’s Government English School When his father was transferred to Johor Bahru,  he studied at the English College there.

Here’s something from a blogger* (who also said he was the only male in his convent class: wah got harem so young leh) that I had not come across anywhere elsewhere on what he did during the Japanese Occupation.

He enrolled in Japanese classes/schools in JB and Syonan (Singapore’s Japanese name) to further his studies as he put it – ‘at the time we didn’t know if this was truly the end of the British Empire’.

Having gained some proficiency in Japanese, he was quite naive when his Japanese tutor told him to follow him and start a Japanese class in Muar. He wanted to go, but his father put a stop to it and instead found him a job at the Census Dept. Later he moved on as an interpreter in the Transport Dept, when the Census Dept closed down. He was forthright in admitting why – at the time the Japanese started recruiting young men to work in ‘the Death Railway’ at the Siam-Burma border. Having a job meant that he wasn’t likely to drafted in service at the notorious site. The job paid little but it gave him a chance to buy stuff like tapioca which became his family’s staple food during the 44 month Japanese Occupation.

He would go on to admit that the occupation moulded him into what he would become later. He was a shy and timid boy, but war forced him to take initiatives and be a man. It made him more out-spoken and independent.

After the Japanese Occupation, he came to Singapore to study at St Andrew’s school. (TRE and TOC readers’ would be cursing him and the govt for this today?)

The same blogger reports that his father wanted him to study medicine; but he won, via a correspondence course (reported the Guardian in its obituary), a place to study law at University College London. According to the Guardian, “There, a lecture by Nye Bevan inspired his early socialist beliefs.”

But it sure didn’t show because after he was called to the English Bar by Gray’s Inn, on his return home, in 1952, he joined the Singapore Legal Service.  Not for him the life of a socialist activist in private legal practice, the path followed by one Lee Kuan Yew (LKY). But to be fair to JBJ, he came from a less wealthy background than LKY.

JBJ served as a magistrate, crown counsel, deputy public prosecutor and district judge (becoming the equivalent of today’s Chief District Judge), and as the registrar of the Supreme Court+. He resigned from the service in 1963and entered private practice [Which firm did he join?],  setting up his own law firm in 1968.  The JBJ version was that he was disillusioned with the direction the Legal Service was heading under the govt of LKY. The LKY version was that he resigned because he was bitter at not being appointed a High Court judge. (The usual promotion for the Subordinate Court’s highest judge then and now). Most probably the truth lay in between. LKY and his govt had little time for those who they believed believed in the colonial values. After all, his sons were expensively educated here and in the UK: not for them a local education, where even in schools like RI and ACS, 40 students in a class were the norm. Today our elite schools follow the posh British fee-paying schools with about 25 to a class.

He had married in February 1957, Margaret Cynthia Walker, a British law student he had known in London, and their relationship had endured his return to S’pore. JBJ’s best man at his wedding was Tan Boon Teik, who would become Singapore’s longest serving Attorney General (AG), and JBJ’s nemesis in later years.

The 1960s and early 70s must have been the time that his eldest son Kenneth J, alluded to when he said that the family had a driver, lived in a bungalow and had a dog called “Rusty”. It was a gd time to be an upper middle class professional. But JBJ must have been restless.

In 1971, Jeyaretnam led a group of lawyers [Any idea who they were? Was Gopalan Nair one of them?] who took over the zombie that was the Workers’ Party and became the party’s Secretary-General.  The WP had been founded in 1957 as his personal vehicle by S’pore’s first Chief Minister, David Marshall, after he resigned office. It now became JBI’s personal war chariot until he was deposed as the WP’s leader in 2001, 30 years later.

In the 1972 and 1976 general elections he was thrashed by the PAP candidates he stood against. But he kept on battling away even though he was thrashed again in by-elections in 1977 and 1979. He exemplified what Samuel Beckett the playwright wrote, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

In 1978 (or was it 1977?), Lee Kuan Yew successfully sued him for defamation. The courts found that JBJ had accused him of nepotism and corruption, and of being unfit to be prime minister**. Mr Lee was awarded damages and costs. An appeal to the Privy Council in London was defeated. While I find most of the other defamation suits problematic because they were petty whatever the law says, in this case, I think that LKY had every moral right to sue and win damages.

JBJ and his groupies, ang moh journalists, anti-PAP paper warriors, and ang moh tua kee S’poreans make such of the fact that  “such comments in many democracies would not lead to libel actions but be regarded as part of the cut-and-thrust of parliamentary politics.”. True but up to a point only. They forget that the leaders of political parties don’t make remarks alleging corruption about govt leaders unless they have evidence. When was the last time you heard Republican presidential candidates or the Republican leader of the House or a Republican senator call or imply the president of the US corrupt? Or the leader of the opposition in the UK call the PM corrupt? JBJ went too far this time as he did in the 1990s where he published a defamatory letter the contents of which he didn’t understand (it was in Tamil) and getting not only himself, but other WP leaders into trouble. More on this when I cover that period.

In 1980, he lost again in a general election, though the margin was now a very respectable by 47.0% to 53.0%. His wife died that year of cancer, leaving him a single parent with two sons, and debts. It was not a good year for him. But “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better,” seemed written for him.

In 1981, he became the first opposition politician since Singapore’s independence in 1965 to win a seat in Parliament.  He defeated the candidate of the governing People’s Action Party (PAP) at a by-election in the Anson constituency. It was a famous victory; made sweeter because the by-election had been held because the govt nominated Anson MP and NTUC Chief, CV Devan Nair for the post of president, on the death of President Sheares.

In subsequent posts, I’ll share my notes and takes on his later life and what I see as his enduring legacy. Certainly not the WP or the Reform Party or his style of defamatory rhetoric, but still a legacy, though there are parts that would pain him.

—-

*http://anyhowhantam.blogspot.sg/2013/10/remembering-singapores-lion-of.html

**At a rally in 1977 he said “… I’m not very good at the management of my own personal fortunes, but Mr Lee Kuan Yew, has managed his personal fortunes very well. He is the Prime Minister of Singapore and his wife is the senior partner of Lee & Lee and his brother is Director of several companies including Tat Lee Bank in Market Street, a bank that was given a permit with alacrity, banking permit license when other banks were having difficulty in getting the license”. He paid dearly for these words with damages and costs being awarded to LKY. And as his son Kenneth J said, the family lost the driver, bungalow and dog.

+Update on 14th March 2014 at 6.30pm: He was also tutor in legal philosophy and criminology at the University of Malaya in S’pore. (The WP 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book 1957-2007)

 

 

Got money to retire on after paying 30-yr HDB loan for 99-yr lease?

In Financial competency, Financial planning, Political governance on 06/03/2014 at 4:28 am

Further to this, I tot readers would be interested in the findings of a study commissioned by MoM and conducted by NUS academics. What do you think of the assumptions? Are they reasonable? Yes, I know they assume 30yrs (while 25 yrs is max period), but that make’s it more conservative when thinking of retirement funds.

About half of Singaporeans currently meet the minimum sum to qualify them for the above payout. But most young Singaporean wage earners today will be able to meet the minimum sum by the time they retire, provided they buy property within their means, the government has said.

An independent study on retirement was also commissioned by the Ministry of Manpower and conducted by National University of Singapore professors Chia Ngee Choon and Albert Tsui. It found that young workers today can replace their income upon retirement at rates similar to developed countries.

One major assumption is that a couple of the same income percentile marry, with the male at age 30 and female at age 28. They buy an HDB build-to-order (BTO) flat with a 30-year mortgage, with the 30th, 50th and 70th percentile members buying a three-room, four-room, and five-room BTO flat respectively. The couple do not upgrade to a larger home.

In the study, a male at the 50th percentile earns $2,500 a month at age 25 (or $3,300 at 70th percentile) and is assumed to reach his peak earnings close to age 55, at $3,860 (or $6,800 at 70th percentile). The 50th-percentile male can replace 70 per cent of his age-55 income after he retires at age 65, the study said (63 per cent for the 70th-percentile male). The numbers for females are slightly lower.

Upon retirement, the median male is thus assumed to get a monthly income of around $2,700, and the 70th percentile male, $4,300. This presumes the entire amount of their retirement savings in the CPF is converted into a life-long annuity, instead of up to the Minimum Sum, as is the current practice. Otherwise, income replacement rates fall drastically.

Thus, the study’s authors said that CPF members with savings above the minimum sum cannot withdraw the lump sum and spend extravagantly. If they want to be able to replace a higher proportion of their income, “they must invest their CPF savings above the minimum sum wisely so as to generate a stream of retirement income to supplement CPF Life payouts”.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid=157655219-19765-9502481817

Here’s the perspective of a flat buyer http://sgyounginvestment.blogspot.sg/2014/02/how-much-money-does-couple-need-to-earn.html

Who let the dogs in? And let them become PRs?

In Public Administration on 05/03/2014 at 4:24 am

The recent public row over the dogs at Pasir Ris Camp (well described in this TRE article  http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/02/28/all-mindef-said-it-would-only-issue-a-stern-warning/ has been well analysed (example http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/02/mindef-bungles-management-of-stray-dogs-saga/).

But what were the dogs were doing in the camp in the first place? When I read the initial reports, I wondered< “If dogs can barrow in under the fence, so can terrorists. Grave breach of security. Worse than SMRT breaches. Why S’poreans not complaining?”. It then transpired that even though Mindef called them “strays”, these dogs were the camp’s PRs (albeit true blue S’poreans, not FTs like PAP MP Lee Bee Wah): Mindef’s silence on the allegation that the dogs were PRs confirms the truth of the allegation, methinks.

So, once upon a time, someone in authority, allowed the dogs in, and camp commandants allowed them to remain as PRs even if this was against military regulations, as I understand them. (Mindef owns them and should be fined for not buying licences?)

Their PR status then explains why the camp commandant (I assume this is the LTC that kanna counseled even though he didn’t abuse the dogs) didn’t call in the AVA to remove the dogs when they started biting people. (BTW, as a dog-owner for 50 yrs, I can assure readers that dogs can sometimes bite people without being aggressive: fear is the trigger)

He didn’t dare ’cause the dogs were there against regulations. He’d have a lot of explaining to do to his superiors and his rice bowl would be in jeopardy. Hence his actions against the dogs and the servicemen who were unhappy with his actions and those of the WO. He was solving the problem the way SMRT was run: fault of true-blue S’poreans.

All to no avail as Mindef is facing the most serious allegation of all, something that goes right to the heart of any society’s compact with its military. As netizens have asked:Where is MINDEF’s values of decency, integrity and honour?

Evidently they’ve gone AWOL or MIA, given Mindef’s continued silence on the allegation that an investigator had promised that the whistle-blower would at most be reprimanded.

Silence can only mean, “What can we say without digging a bigger hole for ourselves?”

Hopefully a PAP MP or Lina Chiam will raise the issue. The co-driver is busy explaining to the Auditor-General how all the problems with the town council accounts (bar one) is the fault of BG Yeo’s team.

Finally, this is my Facebook avatar’s advice to Mindef:

Hey Mindef you are taking on the dog lovers’ community. They have their own minister. He has shown that he is a lot more effective than ministers responsible for Eurasians, Malays and Indians. Be afraid , very afraid. Cannot bully. They not NSmen. They are the DOG Lovers. They got ang moh FT scalp as trophy of their power. Be afraid, very afraid Mindef. Sacrifice the LTC and WO to appease the dog lovers and their minister. Not worth the trouble.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/alison-mcelwee-3-bites-tammys-death/

SMRT: only now meh?

In Infrastructure on 04/03/2014 at 4:55 am

I’ve only recovered from this piece of news on SMRT: on 16th Feb it was reported that “Singapore’s two train operators will adopt a “predict and prevent” approach to their maintenance regimes from now on.

‘Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said … this new approach will see operators actively monitoring the condition of the rail system to prevent breakdowns and delays.”* Seems they were using a find and fix” approach. Easiest way to “find” problems is sit back, drink kopi and wait for news of train delays, breakdowns?

Maybe taz why a CEO who is a scholar and ex-SAF chief is needed, not a Ferrari-driving FT retailer? Horses for courses?

Anyway now that SMRT is adopting state-of-the-art, cutting edge management techniques, time to buy stock? Stock set a new 52-week low during yesterday’s trading session when it touched 1.02. 36.7% down from a 52 weeks ago. That it yields 1.95% is a reflection that the price has collapsed.

DBS wrote this in 2012: SMRT has a dividend payout policy of at least 60% of net profit. In fact, in the past few years, it has paid over 70%, hence providing a reasonable yield.

ComfortDelGro, on the other hand, has paid only 50%of earnings as dividends. – See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/transport-logistics/markets-investing/smrt%E2%80%99s-dividends-risky-in-2012-dbs#sthash.k1ywpunr.dpuf

(Comfort yields 3.63%)

Surely after GE (next yr after August,  is my prediction), fares will be increased? Time to buy and wait now that mgt is better?

60% dividend policy. SMRT has a dividend payout policy of at least 60% of net profit. In fact, in the past few years, it has paid over 70%, hence providing a reasonable yield.
ComfortDelGro, on the other hand, has paid only 50%of earnings as dividends. – See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/transport-logistics/markets-investing/smrt%E2%80%99s-dividends-risky-in-2012-dbs#sthash.k1ywpunr.dpuf
60% dividend policy. SMRT has a dividend payout policy of at least 60% of net profit. In fact, in the past few years, it has paid over 70%, hence providing a reasonable yield.
ComfortDelGro, on the other hand, has paid only 50%of earnings as dividends. – See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/transport-logistics/markets-investing/smrt%E2%80%99s-dividends-risky-in-2012-dbs#sthash.k1ywpunr.dpuf

But then think again as NOL is run by another general and scholar and NOL recently lost serious money. Here’s analysis from last yr after an earlier set of results https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/scholar-cant-repair-nol-maersk-steams-ahead/

——-

*Mr Lui was responding to questions from Members of Parliament on the reliability of train services, in the wake of several disruptions last month, including a delay on the North-South Line that affected some 19,000 peak-hour commuters.

So far, operators SMRT and SBS Transit have been using the “find and fix” approach to correct existing issues with their rail systems.

Mr Lui said he had called up SMRT’s senior management to convey his concerns after the recent spate of incidents.

He said: “They take it seriously, and as the CEO told me himself… the team was actually very disappointed themselves with the series of incidents, as well as with how the staff on the ground had handled it.”

SMRT will be reviewing its contingency plans on a station-by-station basis to better support its ground staff, rather than rely on a generic plan that covers stretches of the network.

Mr Lui said: “SMRT’s management has already committed to review its contingency plans on a station-by-station basis, and refine its command and control structure in times of disruption to better support ground staff.”

Both SMRT and SBS Transit have also switched to a “predict and prevent” strategy for their maintenance regimes.

For instance, some trains on the North-South and East-West lines are already equipped to collect real-time data and detect problems as they run.

Several MPs had asked why train disruptions continue despite efforts in recent years to improve the train services.

Mr Lui said: “Service disruptions do happen from time to time, especially as our rail network further expands and ages, and as we run more and more train trips.

“But in the case of the January incidents, SMRT could have done much better in service recovery, especially to provide timely information to affected commuters.”

Both train operators, however, have put in hard work to improve train reliability since 2011, Mr Lui added.

Government estimates showed that SMRT has increased its yearly repair and maintenance expenses by over 65 per cent from S$38.3 million in 2011 to S$64.6 million last year.

Both train operators have also hired more engineers and expanded their maintenance teams.

The Land Transport Authority is also upgrading the rail infrastructure.

The North-South, East-West lines’ third rail system will undergo a full, system-wide change-out this year, Mr Lui said, and the North-East Line’s overhead power system will also be improved with new corrosion-resistant materials to minimise cracking in its components.

In a separate statement, SMRT said it takes responsibility for the recent incidents, and will leave no stone unturned to improve the reliability of its train services. (CNA report)

No $ needed: Three fixes to show the PAP really cares

In Political governance on 03/03/2014 at 5:00 am

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore has to strike a balance between maintaining its competitiveness and caring about the less well-off as it strives to reduce the income gap. (CNA report a few weeks ago: More extracts at end oif article).

And the Budget statement and the spin that the conastructive, nation-building media has been putting on it esp the Pioneer package is along the same lines.

We all know that an election is coming round the corner and we know the PM (remember the 2011 “Sorry”, followed after the GE with massive tpt breakdowns and the population white paper, the latter issued juz before NatCon?)

So PM and the PAP has to walk the walk, not juz talking the talk.

The benefits for the pioneer generation are a gd, if a belatedly and niggardly start. Still got to start sometime and somewhere. It helps the pioneers and their children.and grandchildren who are caring for them**. Here are some things that PM can do to show the govt cares. They cost nothing going by what ministers said when defending these rules.

–Scrap the MediShield limit. It doesn’t cost anything as a minister has admitted but will give S’poreans peace of mind.

Since the inception of Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) in 2005, no IP policyholder has reached his lifetime claim limit.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this in a written reply to a Parliamentary question from Hougang Single-Member Constituency MP Png Eng Huat about the number of Singaporeans who are no longer insurable under MediShield or Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plans.

This could be due to exhausted benefits and claim limits upon diagnosis of major illnesses.

Mr Gan said that the MediShield lifetime limit was increased in 2005, and more recently in March last year from S$200,000 to S$300,000. (CNA sometime back)

— Fix the flaw in CPF Life Plans

There is a provision in the law governing the CPF Life Plans which states that payouts are contingent on the Plans being solvent. This is because premiums that are paid in to get the annuities are pooled and collectively invested. If the plan you chose doesn’t have enough money to pay out, you die. This is unlike the [Minimum Sum] scheme, where account holders are legally entitled to the monies in their CPF accounts … (https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/best-cpf-life-plan/). Even if the rules to access these monies make a mockery of the ownership, at least (so far) the beneficiaries can inherit the monies. (Remember that when Roy Ngerng again asserts (as he regularly does) that CPF contributions should be classified as a social security tax. He would wouldn’t he? He thinks the PAP is oppressing us, even though as a critic and  self-outed gay, ISD is ignoring him.)

The government has said the provision on solvency is only a precaution unlikely ever  to be used. If so, why have it? Again, this is a peace of mind issue. It was again Gan who made this assurance when he was MoM.

Finally,  the PM should apologise for VivianB’s sneer at the elderly poor all those yrs ago

Or make him make a fulsome apology.Even ex-Red Guards are apologising for their actions in the Cultural Revolution.

Even if … made amends for selfish or political reasons, their words and gestures are still important, says [a historian]. “It is still better than those who refuse to repent until they die. The conflict and hatred should be solved. The nation must move forward.”

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2014/02/apologising-cultural-revolution)

Why, I am I not asking him to be sacked? He is actually a gd environment minister. For starters, there are no more 50-yr floods***. Secondly, in my area (Marine Parade, East Coast), there are now regular cutting of shrubs and grass at empty plots of land and along pathways. There is also an attempt to ensure that in spots where ponding regularly occurs after the rain: attempts are made to fill in the spots and re vegetate them. Yaacob and his French cook of a chef never bothered.

And Vivian did get the Indons to do something about the haze by practicising megaphone diplomacy https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/haze-pm-silence-is-not-a-solution/. Yaacob was sensitive to Indonesians’ attitude to S’pore and kept quiet: he always liddat. Took PM to rebuke his dad on Malay integration. Yaacob muttered, “Worse case scenario”.

*He made the comment in an interview with China’s New Century — a magazine by Beijing-based media group Caixin — which was published a few Mondays ago.

Mr Lee said there is a need to keep a balance between the yin, which he described as caring for one another, and the yang, which is the “competitive element that drives the society forward”.

“If you go too much towards competitiveness, you lose that cohesion and sense of being Singaporeans together,” Mr Lee said.

“If we go… the other way and say, well, we don’t compete… I think we will all be losers.”

He acknowledged that the competitive environment in Singapore is getting fiercer and conditions are getting more challenging for middle and lower-income groups in many societies.

Alluding to the concept of yin and yang, he said Singapore needs to do more to “tilt the balance towards the yin side” — the element of care and concern for others.

This means greater help for the low-income groups as well as keeping society more open, so that the people who have talent can move up and will not be daunted by the gaps in incomes between the rich and poor, which is what Singapore has been doing, he added.

In reply to a question, Mr Lee acknowledged that while the income gap in Singapore is wider than most other countries, it was not as wide when compared to other cities.

But rather than bringing those in the higher income bracket down, he said it is important to focus on levelling-up the wider population.

He also said Singaporeans have to stay connected to the rest of the world, particularly the Asian region as it offers many opportunities.

Describing Singaporeans as hardworking and talented, he said: “I think the best way to make use of their talents and their abilities is not just to confine (them) within Singapore, but to connect to what’s happening around us.

“So if a company sets up an operation in Singapore, it’s not just for our market, but for the region.

“And if our people have abilities as managers and leaders, they can be managers and leaders not just in Singapore, but they can go out and there are many operations, many companies all over the region which will find a good Asian executive a very considerable asset.”

Prime Minister Lee believes as society changes, so too will Singapore’s political structure, as he cited how it has evolved over the years.

He said: “I think as we go forward, we will probably have to make further adjustments, surely, because our society will change.

“I believe that there will be a greater degree of competition, there will be a greater desire of Singaporeans to participate in the political process. And we ought to accommodate that, because it’s good that Singaporeans care about the affairs of the country and which way Singapore is going.

“But whatever we change, we still want a system where you encourage good people to come forward — you encourage voters to elect people who will represent their interests well, and you encourage the government to act in a way which will take the long-term interests of the country at heart.

“And that’s not easy to do.”

**A constructive suggestion: “Will eldercare be as common as childcare?” (BBC Online)

***OK it hasn’t been raining.

Beer, real wages & next GE

In Economy, Humour on 02/03/2014 at 4:25 am

The news that beer costs $1.30 more at Kopitiam after the increase in excise duty reminds me of something I heard at CNY.

A senior marketing officer at APB told me that while Tiger still dominates the beer market here, sales of Anchor (APB’s value brand) have been up 60% (I think) since the noughties. He said S’poreans were economising. With the rise in duties, APB might be advertising,”Make mine an Anchor” or “It’s Anchor time”?

We’ll know when S’poreans really feel that they have more in their pocket when they switch back to Tiger from Anchor. That’ll be a gd time for PAP to call a GE. They can remind S’poreans that “Only the PAP fills yr belly with Tiger”.

BTW, Kopitam’s explanation that it conducted a survey before settling on a price that was within the survey range had me thinking that it must have got the constructive, nation-building Institute of Public Studies (independent think-tank that is part of the LKY School of Public Administration) or the ST to conduct the survey. My marketing friend tells me that generally coffee shops increased the price by about 50 cents (to cover the duty increase). Typical of ST or IPS to get the facts wrong. They must learn to get the facts right, not the right facts.

S’pore: Asean bridgehead for Jap cos, GM & Oz retailer

In Economy on 01/03/2014 at 4:44 am

Banzai! She’s OK mate.

Japanese companies are returning to Singapore at the levels before the global financial crisis, as look to tap growth opportunities in Southeast Asia reported MediaCorp recently, shortly after this

According to the Japanese Embassy in Singapore, it says,  businesses are gradually returning as the region recovers from the crisis and as the strengthening yen adds to their potential investment ambitions.

Primarily, though, it is the growing economies of South-east Asia which are a major draw that many companies, said Mr ShinichiOnishi, Counsellor at the Japanese Embassy.

“Many Japanese companies like to have their headquarters in Singapore, so they can cover the South-east Asian region. There are many big markets around Singapore, such as Indonesia, and the country is a convenient base said Mr Onishi.

Figures provided by the embassy show that 760 Japanese companies had operations here last year, up from 729 in 2007 and 719 in 2008, when the global financial crisis was starting to cause chaos and many foreign companies were forced to pull back fromthe region.

At the same time, the number of Japanese citizens based here is on the increase: Last year, more than 31,000 Japanese citizens were living in Singapore, up from 25,969 in 2007, according to embassy figures.

Design and architecture firm Nikken Sekkei was one such company. It returned to S’pore earlier this year, after leaving in the early 2000s because of an economic slowdown. It has gradually been expanding in the region following the financial crisis, said its Senior Executive Officer Akihiko Hamada. He said it decided to pick Singapore as it is easy to serve neighbouring countries from here and it was already familiar with S’pore.

“We wanted to set up a regional officeto serve the ASEAN region, because of its prospective marvellous economic growth and its large populationof 600 million people. In the next 10 years, there is also an anticipatedinvestment growth in real estate. Aftersome extensive research, we decidedto establish ourselves in Singapore.”

He added that talent is also readily here. Apparently, we got positive and earnest workforce. And presumably the FT policy helps.

This influx has made its impact felt on the Singapore economy. Figures provided by the Economic Development Board (EDB) show that Japan accounted for S$0.6 billion (7.2 per cent) in Total Business Expenditure and S$0.7 billion (5.5 per cent) in Fixed Asset Investments last year.

BTW1, GM has relocated its Asia Pac (ex China) HQ here late last yr ’cause of its thrust into Asean (think Indonesia, it has manufacturing facilities in Thailand) and India. It was AP HQ until it moved to Shanghai in the early noughties.

BTW2, Oz retail giant Cotton On Group yesterday announced the opening of its Asia headquarters in Singapore, which will boost investment and create 200 jobs here.

The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) said that as part of the investment, the group has committed to hiring that number of people by June 2018 to drive its Asia operations.

Since its inception 23 years ago, the Cotton On Group has grown to more than 1,300 stores across nine brands in 16 countries. In 2007, the group established its first store in Asia here.

Today, it has more than 160 stores throughout Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, and plans to open several hundred more in the region in the next five years, at a projected investment in excess of $100 million.

PAP must be doing something right?