atans1

Archive for April, 2014|Monthly archive page

More equal than other S’poreans?

In Political governance, Public Administration, Uncategorized on 30/04/2014 at 6:03 am

I’m thinking of Ronald McDonald (a FT turned true blue S’porean who if he had a son with dual citizenship would surely insist that his son dows NS, unlike Yaacob who tells us only that he hopes his son will do NS) and again my beef (rendang flavoured) is with the way the S’poreans who don’t dream the “right” dreams” or think the “right” tots are being ghettoised and discriminated against by the PAP govt.

Let me explain.

I avoided going anyway near a McDonald’s store on Monday because it was the start of the latest “Hello Kitty” promotion. I had memories of what happened in 2000:

Fist fights broke out while frustrated patrons threatened store managers, damaged restaurant property and compelled the fast-food outlets to hire private security firms to police crowds. At one outlet, at least seven people were injured after a glass door they were leaning on shattered.

Singapore, which keeps tight curbs on public speech and famously bans most sales of chewing gum to keep its streets clean, was caught by surprise. While public demand was heated for similar promotions in Hong Kong and Taiwan, few expected law-abiding Singaporeans to turn so catty—or for the issue to claw its way to the top ranks of power.

“We should not get too carried away,” said then-Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who later became prime minister. “Even if you want the Kitty, there is no need to fight fiercely to try and get one,” he told local media at a public event.

In Parliament, a lawmaker asked the environment minister if he planned to stop McDonald’s from selling Hello Kitty dolls. “It’s not under my purview,” the minister replied.

And only last yr

… things got heated again when McDonald’s rolled out a so-called “Fairy Tales” Hello Kitty set, featuring six versions designed after popular folklore. The last one—a black kitten sporting a skeletal motif—sparked mayhem as security personnel were called in to deal with heated squabbles caused by widespread line-jumping. McDonald’s wrote a letter to a local newspaper apologizing for the chaos and promised to do better next time.

(http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303834304579523793654859518?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303834304579523793654859518.html)

Finally, an online sale, I tot, was a warning of the public order problems that would ensure on Monday.

To improve buyers’ experience and curb black-market sales, the company also is offering online sales for a collector’s set featuring all six toys, Ms. Low said.

But the online sales drive was overwhelmed by the weight of orders, forcing the fast-food chain to temporarily suspend sales after less than two hours.

Hundreds of disgruntled Kitty-lovers hurled abuse on McDonald’s Facebook page, accusing the fast-food chain of sloppy customer service.

So you’d have tot that the police would conclude, “Three strikes and you’re out, Ronald.”; the police having the power to prevent such a commercial event from being held if they had concerns about “public disorder and mischief”, that “may disrupt community life”.

But, Pledging to prevent a repeat of ugly scenes that plagued past promotions, McDonald’s says it has engaged private-security firms to provide crowd control and prepared line-management plans for its staff. It is also boosting its toy supplies by roughly 50% .compared with last year.

In the event, the police were right in their judgment in allowing the promotion to go ahead, nothing untoward happened on Monday and Tuesday.

But my point is that given the track record of problems in 2000 and 2013, and the very recent online bad-tempered, why did our police not insist that McDonald cancel the event?

Yet some S’poreans are routinely not allowed to hold events in public spaces (other than in Hong Lim) because of concerns of public order. Even the light-blue clones of the MIW were not allowed to hold an event in a park in 2007 because of concerns of public order.

When WP chairman and NCMP Sylvia Lim raised a question over the issue in Parliament, she (and we) was told that such activities “have the potential for public disorder and mischief, and may disrupt community life.”*

Yet the police, it seems, had no such concerns with the MacDonald’s promotion, despite MacDonald’s track record of being the cause of public “disorder and mischief”, that disrupted “community life” in 20000 and 2013.

My point is that shouldn’t these S’poreans (who are not PA or NTUC activists) be given the opportunity as the Filipinos and McDonald of proving the police wrong. After all many of these S’poreans who dream different dreams or think different tots have served NS, defending the country.

Shouldn’t they be given the opportunity to show that they can behave in the right way in public like the Filipinos? https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/fts-more-equal-than-the-wrong-sporeans-why-liddat-pm/

And why is Ronald McDonald given the benefit of the doubt despite his track record of causing problems (albeit unintentionally and indirectly) in 2000 and 2013?

And yet the “wrong” S’poreans are presumed to be dangerous to public order? Doesn’t their honourable discharge from full-time NS mean that they deserve to be treated like Filipinos and Ronald, and be given the presumption of good behaviour?

One could reasonably argue (I’m not) that such an attitude to NS men sucks, and is most insulting from a govt that says it values those who do NS. Just recently, the media reported that Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said a package of “meaningful” benefits is being considered for operationally ready NSmen. “We want to centre the recognition benefits by giving them a greater stake in Singapore, whether it is housing, health or education,”…

The various contradictions and inconsistencies  that have mutated from the Hard Truths on which the PAP has governed S’pore since 1959 are coming to haunt the PAP; contractions and inconsistencies which have especially multiplied since the “FTs are betterest” policies were introduced to repress the wages of local PMETs. Appropriately, the ghosts are appearing juz as the PAP govt is planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our enforced independence, as a prelude to its next GE campaign.

——–

*”Police requirement is that such party activities be held indoors or within stadiums, so that any law and order problems will be contained. This policy applies to all political parties,” Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee.

 

Property prices: Valuations are irrelevant/ It’s all about credit

In Financial competency, Property on 29/04/2014 at 5:00 am

The availability of credit, or is the case, now, the non-availability of credit.

And it’s not Heart Truths screaming this out loud; Roy Ngerng sadly prefers to teach anti-PAP S’poreans to suck eggs in ever more complicated ways.. It’s the constructive, nation-building local media that are screaming it out loud that it’s credit that matters.

Private home price decline accelerates as curbs bite (Today 26 April)

... in the first three months of the year, with finalised data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) confirming that the price decline had picked up pace amid persistently weak sentiment.

Private home prices slipped 1.3 per cent in the first quarter of the year from the previous three months, unchanged from the preliminary estimate released earlier this month and accelerating from the 0.9 per cent fall in the fourth quarter of last year, the URA said yesterday,

 Analysts said the multiple sets of property market cooling measures introduced by the Government, especially the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework imposed last June, have been effective in curbing demand and runaway prices.

They expect the measures to remain for now, suppressing demand and probably leading to further weakness in home prices in the following quarters.

“Market exuberance for private homes was very much tempered by the existing property cooling measures and the TDSR … The various government measures have effectively curtailed demand from most groups of home buyers,” said PropNex Realty’s chief executive Mohamed Ismail.*

Shophouse deals continue to languish (14 April)

Shophouse transaction volumes continued to languish for the third consecutive quarter, as demand took a hit following the introduction of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework in late-June last year. However, prices have continued to hold – due to a limited supply of shophouses and most owners taking a longer-term horizon and having holding power.

CBRE’s analysis of caveats data shows that 26 shophouses changed hands for a total $118.4 million in the first quarter of this year, down from $149.3 million in Q4 last year and $197.2 milion in the preceding Q3. In Q1 and Q2 last year the figures were $463.7 million and $458 million respectively, reflecting the buoyant market pre-TDSR. CBRE’s analysis covered only shophouses on sites zoned for commercial use.

Shophouse transactions weakened to $346.5 million in the second half of last year from $921.7 million in the first half – resulting in a full-year figure of $1.27 billon, down from $1.38 billion in 2012.

Besides TDSR, which has tightened lending for property purchases across the board, another key reason for the sharp slowdown in shophouse transaction volumes is that prices have risen in the past few years to levels beyond the affordability of most potential buyers, said Knight Frank executive director Mary Sai.

It’s all about the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) introduced last June.

Why did it take so long to introduce this measure? Heart Truths should be asking this question

So now you know why

Some are giving big discounts, while others are going on marketing blitzes — property developers are pulling out all the stops to boost sales which have been hit by cooling measures.

Statistics from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Friday showed a 1.3 per cent decline in prices in the first quarter of this year. It is the largest drop since the second quarter of 2009, when prices fell by 4.7 per cent.

The Interlace condominium was launched in 2009 and some residents have since moved in.

However, the project by CapitaLand still has 183 unsold units as of March 2014.

Over at Whampoa East Road, the Eight Riversuites condominium has 205 unsold units. However, the 862-unit project was one of the top sellers last month, when it sold 44 units.

It was the project’s highest sales volume in a single month since June 2013, when the government tightened property loan rules. Under the Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework, home buyers can only loan up to 60 per cent of his or her income.

The units were sold at a median price of about S$1,100 psf — almost 20 per cent lower compared to when the project was first launched some two years back, when it was sold at S$1,340 psf.

Property watchers … said developers may be under pressure to cut prices in order to boost sales.

Nicholas Mak, executive director at SLP International Property Consultants, said: “If a certain residential project has been launched for quite some time and still has substantial unsold units, and this project is quite near to its completion date, the developers may be under some pressure to increase sales.

“Because if let’s say the development is completed and there is still quite a number of unsold units, they (the developers) could also be facing competition from other developments that could be newly-launched in the vicinity.”

Jones Lang LaSalle’s national director of research and consultancy Ong Teck Hui said: “Since the TDSR was introduced in June 2013, the number of unsold units in launched private residential projects has increased significantly by 19 per cent from 5,243 units in Q2 2013 to 6,247 units in Q1 2014.

“This is reflective of the slower take-up of units at new sales launches, resulting in the build-up of unsold units.”

Besides cutting prices, developers are also trying other tactics.

Sales for the Sky Habitat project at Bishan Street 15 picked up in April, after a marketing blitz. In a statement issued on Friday on its first quarter earnings, developer CapitaLand said 106 units were sold in April — after more than six months of single-digit sales volume, according to URA’s figures.

“Another strategy that some developers may embark on is to increase the sales commission for agents,” Mr Mak added.

“For example, a one percentage point reduction may not be that attractive to buyers. However, if developers were to raise the commission by one percentage point of the price, that absolute amount will give a lot more incentive to the property agents to work harder in attracting buyers.”

The competition is expected to intensify with close to 15,000 units, including executive condominiums, to be completed for the rest of the year. This brings the total number of units to be completed in 2014 to almost 20,000 — higher than the some 14,400 units in 2013. (CNA 28th April)

——-

* More: Both the primary and secondary markets suffered sharp slowdowns in buying activity. Developers launched 1,964 new private homes from January to March and sold 1,744 units, fewer than the 2,631 launched and 2,568 sold in the previous three months. In the resale segment, transactions dropped from 1,206 units to 899 homes, the URA said.

Prices fell across all segments of the private housing market in the first quarter, with condominiums in the Rest of Central Region (RCR), or city fringes, leading the decline at 3.3 per cent. Those in the Core Central Region (CCR), or city centre, dipped 1.1 per cent, while the Outside Central Region (OCR), or suburbs, registered a slight 0.1 per cent fall.

Ms Christine Li, head of research and consultancy at property agency OrangeTee said the bigger declines in the CCR and RCR could be due to developers focusing on trying to sell houses from previous launches.

“Most of the homes sold in the first quarter are from existing property launches, where prices could be more attractive as developers have dangled more incentives and discounts to move sales in a slow market,” she said.

Ms Li added that prices in the RCR could see some support in the second quarter as more “attractively located” projects are expected to be launched during this period.

“Three of the highly anticipated projects — Commonwealth Towers, The Crest and Highline Residences — are expected to be launched in the current quarter. These projects are also expected to fetch a higher median price than what’s been achieved in the first quarter.”

And while prices of mass market homes are likely to stay relatively stable, the odds seemed to be stacked against the high-end CCR segment, analysts said.

Ms Chia Siew Chuin, director for research and advisory at real estate consultancy Colliers International, said: “Domestic demand has been weakened by the loan curbs while interest from foreigners, who traditionally form a large demand base for high-end properties, has diminished in view of more favourable investment options in the recovering foreign markets.

“On the supply side, developers of high-end properties may feel the heat to meet the Qualifying Certificate deadline.”

The analysts estimated that overall prices could fall between 4 and 8 per cent by the end of this year, as the property measures are likely to remain.

“As long as borrowing costs stay low, the Government is unlikely to reverse the earlier anti-speculation measures … Under such an environment, we expect price weakness to persist,” said Mr Ismail.

 

FTs more equal than the “wrong” S’poreans? Why liddat PM?

In Political governance on 28/04/2014 at 4:47 am

Quite a number of S’preans (think TOC, TRE posters, and Goh Meng Seng) were incensed at the Filipinos’ attempt to “capture” or “trespass” (GMS’ choice of word) a public space for one day.

They also mentioned, in passing, at the the double standards in, as they tot, [A]llowing all FTs to hold events in public spaces while preventing some S’poreans  (Think the PAP’s light blue clones and various civil groups) from doing the same on the grounds of “law and order” issues, even if the FTs in question are from a country where people believe in the power of the people to overthrow elected govts while the S’poreans are juz sheep who dream different from the “right” dreams.

Turns out no permit has been sought, so far, this yr. My take.

Took the wind out of their sails.

But the validity and reasonableness of this argument remains (I wish these unhappy S’poreans had it made it the core argument not talk about sovereignty etc and then mention it in passing, and had kept on talking about the point. They didn’t, so I’m elaborating on it).

If Filipinos think they can be allowed to hold an event in such a public space (even if it is across the road from Filipino Lucky Plaza) why can’t the “wrong” S’poreans hold events in public spaces (other than Hong Lim Green) too?

FTs more equal than the “wrong” S’poreans is it, PM, PAP? While Filipinos can party in public year after year, those S’poreans not thinking the “right” tots (despite many of them having done NS) are being ghettoised in Hong Lim? Juz because they don’t think the “right” tots, like PA or NTUC running dogs activists? Apologies to the dogs. My dogs complain that I’m defaming them by comparing them to PA and NTUC activists.

True, no incidents arose.in the past when the Filipinos were granted permission to hold events in public spaces.

But given the track record of “people power” in the Philippines in overthrowing elected presidents, why were the Filipinos given permission in the first place, while the “wrong” S’poreans are denied the opportunity to show that they too can be as peacefully and law abiding as Filipinos? Many of these S’poreans did NS, people like GMS, Gilbert Goh, KennethJ, M Ravi, Garbra Gomez. They were trusted with live rounds and M16s. So shouldn’t they be given the benefit of the presumption that they, like the Filipinos, can be trusted not to cause public order problems? OK, OK, I concede that based on some commentates that was put up on his FB wall (now taken down), there is every right to be concerned that GG is advocating violence. [Update at 5.46am GG makes police report allegung posting was fake http://singaporenewsalternative.blogspot.sg/2014/04/singapore-activist-gilbert-goh-made.html%5D

A TRE poster makes another point on this “FTs more equal” attitude

Just1more:

Problem with Singapore is that we are harsh on our own people and soft to the point of bending over for foreigners. If an organisation has planned for such event and advertised in social media, the Police would have called up the organisers and “advise” them to apply for permit first. Police may threaten to charge the organisers. See what happened in this case. All quiet. So, what is the super efficient government’s position? Don’t just take the million salary and keep quiet when we want answers.

This allegation is one that I’ve heard over the yrs: that the police are pro-active in monitoring some S’poreans’ tots to hold public events. Doesn’t take an application to get asked to discuss their plans with the police. I’ve heard allegations that even talking among “friends” about organising an event in a public space could lead to call to have a cup of coffee.

Now I applaud such pro-active behaviour: if applied to everyone. But I’m left wondering why the police doesn’t seem (at least going by their statement) to have been more pro-active with the Filipinos despite the Filipinos making it clear of their intention to party on 8 June in a public space despite not yet applying for a permit (I’m sure they have every intention of applying for the licence and will cancel the event if they don’t get approval)? Shouldn’t the polic3e be calling the Filipino ornaisers? FTs more equal than the “wrong” S’poreans?

Wonder if FTs realise that there are S’poreans (numbers unknown, and who include rational, conservative people like me, thru the woolly, good-hearted, soft middle like TOC and P Ravi, thru to GMS,  to Gilbert Goh, nutter,  and friends) who think that the govt treats them better than it does S’poreans because FTs help repress the wages of locals esp PMETs, thereby making S’pore a more attractive place for MNCs and landlords?

But maybe they do realise this but think that with people like Kirsten Han, and BG MoM on their side, labeling S’poreans, “xenophobes” and “bigots” for daring to question the govt’s FT policies,  they can safely give S’poreans the bird. Sadly, they are unlikely to be wrong.

Somewhat related post

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/how-many-of-them-were-males-did-ns/

 

How many of them were males & did NS?

In Uncategorized on 27/04/2014 at 4:29 am

From 1987 to 2012, some 3,400 minors a year on average were granted Singapore citizenship while also holding foreign citizenship, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean said. He was responding to a question in Parliament by Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam. (CNA a few months ago, January 2014 to be precise)

Could Mrs Chiam or any NMP ask how many of them were males and did NS, like Chen Show Mao?

JB among most crime ridden city in the world/ LKY was not wrong

In Malaysia on 26/04/2014 at 6:51 am

Juz better than Guatemala City, Caracas in Venezuela and Joeburg in South Africa. All v v violent places.

http://malaysiafinance.blogspot.sg/2014/04/most-crime-ridden-cities-in-world.html

So LKY was NOT wrong in the 90s, in his analysis of JB! He was WRONG to apologise. Strange our constructive, nation-building not praising his foresight. Err maybe, he no longer considered constructive, nation-builder?

BTW JB is the capital of Iskandar . LOL

Iskandar flip flops agaim. When it started, notwithstanding its attempts to get local biz to relocate, it was telling the Arabs that it wanted to be another s’pore. The arabs wisely dids not buy into the BS. So it started trying its luck with SMEs and TLCs. Now …

Iskandar Malaysia is set to focus more on attracting higher-value manufacturing companies, in a move that may result in some lower-end Singapore businesses having to look for an alternative overseas destination where they can shift some of their operations as they grapple with higher costs and manpower constraints at home.

Mr Ismail Ibrahim, the chief executive of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), told TODAY in an interview that the special economic zone is shifting away from activities dependent on cheap labour.

“For the manufacturing sector, we are moving Iskandar Malaysia towards higher levels of the value chain. We want to see more of what we term as technology-intensive manufacturing activities and less of the low-cost kind of industries,” he said, adding that this has always been part of the IRDA’s planning.

http://www.todayonline.com/business/iskandar-move-away-being-low-cost-centre#inside

Ten years ago, Mr Lim — the owner of a Singapore food manufacturing company — purchased two industrial land plots across the Causeway, with the hope of shifting some of his operations to Johor Baru’s low-cost environment. He has yet to make that move as, after crunching the numbers, there is not a strong financial case.

“Iskandar is also facing issues of a manpower shortage and rising costs. Last year’s introduction of minimum wages and Goods and Services Tax are just part of it,” Mr Lim, who asked to keep his identity and the name of his company private, told TODAY. “The fact that Iskandar doesn’t have a free port also matters to a food company like us, because imported materials and exported products will be tariffed. Or we can go through Singapore’s ports — and fork out just as much for the cross-strait transport costs.”

The CEO’s comments come as anecdotal evidence suggests that some Singapore manufacturers do not see a compelling reason to move operations to Iskandar.

Singapore remains the biggest foreign investor in Iskandar, having committed a cumulative RM11 billion (S$4.23 billion) to the area as of January, showed data provided by the IRDA. This forms a key part of the RM133.07 billion overall investment that the region has attracted so far, of which RM47.82 billion has been committed to the manufacturing sector.

However, a closer look at the data reveals that although the overall investment amount has been increasing, the proportion of foreign investment in Iskandar has been steadily shrinking, from 55 per cent of the total in 2008 to 35 per cent currently, suggesting a slowdown in overseas interest.

http://www.todayonline.com/business/singapore-companies-have-mixed-views-iskandar

Grandfathers’ place, is it? PIDCS, Finest Filipino Talents at work?

In Uncategorized on 25/04/2014 at 4:30 am

These tots (and more) crossed my mind when I read that the SPF (Sarong Party  Singapore Police Force) had issued a statement on its Facebook page [Link] today (22 Apr) saying that as at 10am, no permit application has been received for the 116th Philippine Independence Celebration on 8 Jun 2014 at Ngee Ann City.

“Neither have the event organisers shared any plans related to the event with the authorities,”

I called a Filipino community adviser (a true blue S’porean who married a Filipino, so he kanna do NS by his wife) and asked him how come the Filipino organisers dare publicise the venue of the 8th June event even before they had applied for a police permit? Think they own S’pore and the police is it? .Juz because Lucky Plaza is Filipino Plaza? (FYI, Lucky Plaza is across the street from the proposed venue, and so is a natural, rational  choice for any Filipino do.)

He said the organisers are Filipinos, not S’poreans. S’poreans know how to organise, and do things the right way; Filipinos only know how to party. Taz why S’pore so rich and the Philippines so poor. I said if this is Foreign Talent organisers  at work, waz the Trash like at work? He tot my comment unfair and harsh because every yr there is a new organising committee.

Not like S’pore where there is old blood mentoring the new blood: like LKY mentoring GCT and LHL and GCT mentoring LHL, even though LHL had apprenticed under both for a long time,as did GCT under LKY.

And the organisers are volunteers, who have full time jobs, not civil servants whose job is to organise events.

(BTW, this is how bad the Philippines govt can be in handling a hostage crisis http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27114551)

I then asked him, if the Filipinos had raised the money to pay for the stage and venue? Last time, we met he said that these would cost $55,000.

He said, think any GLC or TLC dare sponsor? Our telcos (esp SingTel) are usually big sponsors of Pinoy events because of the traffic the Filipinos generate: they love to talk, not work.

Again, if this is Foreign Talent organisers  at work, waz the Trash like at work? S’poreans would have raised the money before publicising the event. And after getting a permit.

Now my real beef with the organisers: Are the organisers right to be fearful they are of the threats against them? And to KBKW about these threats?

I say “No” because the

—  draconian laws on murder and the use of firearms (Maruah take note) and the way the SPF and judiciary work means there are almost no murders or serious violent crimes here (unlike in the Philippines); and

— nutters (my view of them) threatening the organisers don’t go round shooting, killing, beating or even publicly abusing Filipinos in public (they are typical S’porean sheep, in that sense, albeit mad sheep, bleating BS anonymously. So let’s not get carried away with the threat they pose to public safety, and FTs in particular. I’m thinking of BG MoM and Kisten Han. We should, like PM, condemn them, but not profile them as a genuine threat to people and law and order.

At a lunch last Thursday with the above Filipino community adviser, he had to concede my point that S’poreans don’t go round with guns shooting people unlike what the Filipinos (“goons with guns”) do in the Philippines. I told him to tell the organisers not to BS the threats to get public sympathy because fair-minded S’poreans (not FT lovers and FT tua kees like BG Tan and Kisten Han), will not believe them. Am I right on this?

And if the organisers are genuinely are afraid? Are they rational, given how safe S’pore is. I was once at a McDonald’s with an activist who is always criticising the govt. He left his bag (with top end lap top inside) at a table out of sight from the counter where we were lining up. I said bag might be stolen. He said, “S’pore, not US”.

Again, if the organisers are Foreign Talents  at work, waz the Trash like?

As to why the adviser didn’t advise the Filipinos on the right way of doing things here? He typical S’porean. If he is asked for advice, he will respond. Otherwise, like a typical S’porean he minds his own biz.. He not like Filipinos who are always free with their advice.

 

Less privileged S’poreans feel like these Easter Islanders

In Uncategorized on 24/04/2014 at 4:55 am

As Easter Island’s tourist industry has taken off, Chileans have moved from the mainland to live here, opening hotels, bars and restaurants.

They now outnumber the Rapa Nui – the original Easter Islanders of Polynesian descent.

That has created tensions. Mr Pakarati describes the islanders as “victims of indiscriminate immigration” from Chile which, culturally, has little in common with the island.

“There isn’t enough space for everyone, enough drinking water, enough fuel,” he says. “This is about sustainability and quality of life.”

Like other Rapa Nui, Mr Pakarati says the number of immigrant residents should be restricted and the locals should have more say in how the island is run.

“Our conflict is not with the Chileans, it’s with the inefficient Chilean state,” he says. “The Rapa Nui are one big tribe, and our territory should belong to us.”

(http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-26951566)

The above, I think, encapsulates the feelings of many PMETs who work with FT PMETS, co-operating and at the same time competing against them. In S’pore, it’s not about enough drinking water, enough fuel; but it’s about wage repression*, cost and asset inflation, crowded public tpt : “This is about sustainability and quality of life.” And that FTs are treated better by the govt and the privileged

This, General MoM and Kirsten Han, you may like to know is why there are S’poreans who are not happy that FTs are allowed in by the container-load. Nothing to do with bigotry or xenophobia. It’s all to do that they, unlike you two, find life hard for themselves and their families in an environment where the presence of FTs keeps real wages from rising, while adding to cost and asset inflation, and crowded public tpt.

Pls don’t call these S’poreans names. Be like PM, he rightly condemned a certain group of S’poreans that deserved being labelled and tarred and thrown into jail. But unlike you, he, an even more privileged S’porean than you, (and ST) didn’t tar everyone who doesn’t the FT policies of his govt https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/unacceptable-apalling-daft-behaviour/, bigots and xenophobes.

Don’t prize FTs until like that. They like S’poreans are human beings, not tua kees to be worshiped.

I’m sure you will deny such labeling of locals, but go reflect on yr choice of words. And be more precise in future.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Remember that

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Four-score Men and Four-score more,

Could not make Humpty Dumpty where he was before.

Privilege has its limitations.

*

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/pm-this-cant-be-right-5-9-gdp-but-0-4-wage-increase/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/beer-real-wages-next-ge/

 

 

Is MU right to sack Moysie?/ Long ball is betterest

In Financial competency, Financial planning, Footie on 23/04/2014 at 4:43 am

Yes say I: The choice facing the owners (Jewish and Zionists and mortgaged to their eyeballs) BTW) was stark

Would they really back Moyes for the long term by handing him a transfer kitty worth as much as £100m to invest in rebuilding the squad?

Or would they decide giving all that money to him was too big a risk?

Would anyone sensible trust Moysie with that kind of $ based on this season’s performance which was the mother of nightmares? BTW, I waz happy he was the Chosen One. What was or went wrong: everything http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/27109742

No, say the stats and SAF’s cardinal rule of footie mgt.

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.

While Ter Weel’s research focused on Dutch football, 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.

And his theory seems to work if you look at what happened to other clubs in the English Premier League last season. The same week in March which spurred Sunderland to change the personnel in charge, Aston Villa were sitting at 17th in the table, struggling against relegation.

In the same way that water seeks its own level, numbers and series of numbers will move towards the average, move towards the ordinary.”

David Sally, co-author of The Numbers Game

(http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-23724517)

In finance, this is called reversion to the mean.

This what AlexF said on the opening night of Ferguson’s book tour, on an October evening at the Lowry theatre, and what he told his audience about the management profession. “It’s a terrible industry. When clubs sack a manager there is no evidence it works. But there is evidence, and it’s hard evidence, that sticking with your manager does work. This is an important issue and it is something I believe in, very strongly. Sacking a manager does not help.”

Well obviously MU isn’t listening. Some serious money (borrowed I may add) is at stake.

Related article: Long ball is betterest:

His data suggested that most goals were scored from fewer than three direct passes, and he therefore recommended the widely-despised “long-ball” game.

In other words, the ugliest type of football imaginable. Hoof the ball forward, hope you get a lucky break, and poke it into the net.

“Unfortunately it kind of brought statistics and football into disrepute,” says Chris Anderson, author of The Numbers Game, an analytical and historical look at the use of data in football.

Now, behind the biggest football teams in the world, lies a sophisticated system of data gathering, metrics and number-crunching. Success on the pitch – and on the balance sheet – is increasingly becoming about algorithms.

The richest 20 clubs in the world bring in combined revenues of 5.4bn euros ($7.4bn, £4.5bn), according to consultancy firm Deloitte. And increasingly, data is being seen as crucial to maximising that potential income by getting the most from football’s prized investments – the players.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26771259

TRE carries gd, original socio-economic analysis

In Uncategorized on 22/04/2014 at 5:27 am

TRE juz doesn’t do republishing anti-PAP bloggers like Tan Kin Lian and carrying int’l media coverage of S’pore.

I recently congratulated Richard Wan (he paid for canteen lunch) that TRE is attracting some writers who don’t blog, and who produce some pretty decent socio-economic stuff. Here are two recent examples

http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/04/20/cat-out-of-the-foreigner-created-job-bag/

http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/04/21/did-pinoy-universities-suddenly-excel-in-last-15-years/

http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/04/19/where-hdb-has-gone-wrong/

Meanwhile TOC seems stuck in a rut. I’ll blog on it one of these days and yes I got a beef against TOC. It bitches about PM censoring on his Facebook. Readers might like to know that TOC prevents me my Facebook avatar from commenting on its Facebook page. To be fair, I can still comment (I think) on its articles.

Actually the PM isn’t censoring. He is juz “hiding” the article from public view*. Unlike TOC who prevents me from commenting. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that TOC cannot should not prevent me from commenting. It’s its right. But kinda rich to criticise PM for juz “hiding” a comment* when it more pro-active in handling comments not to its liking. Sounds like the PAP govt in allowing all FTs to hold events in public spaces while preventing some S’poreans  (Think the PAP’s light blue clones and various civil groups) from doing the same on the grounds of “law and order” issues, even if the FTs in question are from a country where people believe in the power of the people to overthrow elected govts while the S’poreans are juz sheep who dream different from the “right” dreams.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/in-praise-of-tr-emeritus/

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_a_tree_falls_in_a_forest

 

Unacceptable, appalling, daft behaviour

In Uncategorized on 21/04/2014 at 5:13 am

Sigh, sad is the day when this critic of the PAP’s policy of bringing in FTs (where the “T” stands for “Trash”, think of SGX’s CEO, and president) by the container load* has to agree with the PM on an FT related-issue (see his comments at **). And this after agreeing with ST https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/sts-right/. Drove me to drink.

My Facebook avatar posted these (among other comments he made to Goh Meng Seng’s comments that the Filipinos’ event is an attack on S’pore’s sovereignty and speculating of the troubles that could occur if the Indians and PRCs wanted to celebrate their national days in public spaces

I for one have no issues with any overseas group wanting to celebrate their national day here so long as they do so in compliance with the law. Fact that they are obeying the law of S’pore shows that sovereignty is not an issue. Sovereignty is only an issue when our laws are not respected, and flouted. Of course if they are found breaking the law, they should be deported ASAP and Maruah should sit down and shut up.

— Juz because there are more Indians and PRCs doesn’t make that a problem in itself. There seems to be an assumption that their numbers make them organising a do a problem. Well shouldn’t we assume that they want to organise something peaceful and festive? Or are we assuming that whatever they do they will only riot? And that our police are daft?

He also responded to P Ravi’s http://www.raviphilemon.net/2014/04/hypernationalism-does-no-one-no-good.html as follows:

I don’t think “hypernationalism” or even “nationalism” is the issue. There is a group of very vocal S’poreans who will use any excuse to “whack” the PAP. Sadly ’cause of the way the PAP govt does things, the size of this group is not known. But we do now that based on PE 2011, there are 35% of S’poreans who can be swayed from the “right” way. I’m sure PM and the PAP are having a gd laugh. The people who are denouncing the Filipinos because they hate the PAP are helping the PAP. SIGH.

I like PM am appalled. He at the trolls. Me at the trolls for being so daft as to hand a PR victory to the PAP. Anger at the FT policy is understandable, but verbally abusing FTs and helping the PAP is unacceptable.

But let’s not be too hard on the trolls.They could be confused by what they are hearing from the govt and social media. I’ll be blogging soon on some of Goh Meng Seng’s comments on the matter that have me confused. He seems to be opposed to the event while at the same time encouraging the organisers to go ahead. But I need to clear my head first. Drank too much malt.

——-

Examples:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/population-white-paper-paps-suicide-note/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/population-white-paper-2030-will-resemble-1959/

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

**PM’s Facebook message

PM Lee posted a Facebook message on 19 April saying that he was appalled to read about netizens “harassing” the organisers of the Philippines’ Independence Day celebrations.

“They are a disgrace to Singapore,” he said; adding that fortunately, it appeared to be the work of a “few trolls”.

He said, “We must treat people in Singapore the way we ourselves expect to be treated overseas. Many Singaporeans live overseas, and are warmly welcomed in their adopted homes.”

He then talked about the recent Singapore Day celebration in London, “How would we have felt if British netizens had spammed our website, and abused Singaporeans living in Britain?”’We must show that we are generous of spirit and welcome visitors into our midst, even as we manage the foreign population here. Otherwise we will lower our standing in the eyes of the world, and have every reason to be ashamed of ourselves,” he said.

PM Lee’s Facebook post [Link]:

Why do gd? Gd for yr health leh ))

In Uncategorized on 20/04/2014 at 5:30 am

Juz look at the gd health of LKY and Dr M. Seriously there was a very elderly who died last yr I think. She was helping others into her 90s. I wish I could remember her name. And honour her in this post.

The Greek founders of philosophy constantly debated how best to live the good life. Some contended that personal pleasure is the key. Others pointed out that serving society and finding purpose is vital. Socrates was in the latter camp, fiercely arguing that an unvirtuous person could not be happy, and that a virtuous person could not fail to be happy. These days, psychologists tend to regard that point as moot, since self-serving “hedonic” pleasures generate the same sorts of good feelings as those generated by serving some greater “eudaimonic” purpose. However, a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her colleagues suggests Socrates had a point. Though both hedonic and eudaimonic behaviour bring pleasure, the eudaimonic sort also brings health.
http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2013/08/psychosomatic-medicine

Think up another “clarification”, general

In Indonesia on 19/04/2014 at 5:15 am

(Or “The lies Indon officials tell”)

“Wasn’t me, was an impostor,” the head of the Indonesian Armed Forces should have said. Or, “I no speak English”. LOL

Some 48 hours after his interview with Channel NewsAsia aired on Tuesday, the head of the TNI deaplogised an apology he made during the interview.

General Moeldoko said on Thursday that he had not apologised to the Singapore government for the naming of a warship after two Indonesian marines who bombed MacDonald House in Singapore in 1965.

Instead, he clarified that he was expressing his regret that the naming decision was final and would not be changed.

On Tuesday night, Channel NewsAsia aired an exclusive interview with General Moeldoko, during which he touched on the relations between Singapore and Indonesia, among other issues.

He was asked by Channel NewsAsia senior Southeast Asia correspondent Sujadi Siswo about the decision to name a warship Usman Harun after the two Indonesian marines, and the ties between the two countries.

“Once again I apologise. We have no ill intent whatsoever to stir emotions. Not at all. Second, relations between the two countries are on the mend. There’ve been communications among leaders. Singapore’s Chief of Defence and I have spoken,” General Moeldoko had said. (CNA)

What could be clearer? He did apologise.

So he’s a talk cock general? I prefer our paper generals.

Seriously, I was surprised at his unambiguous apology and wondered why the TNI had eaten crow. Now we know, “He didn’t mean what he we heard.” So TNI still believes in killing civilians is a legitimate military tactic.https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/govt-sporeans-that-blur-on-indons-ship-naming/? Tell the Americans.

Still want us to trust Indonesia Mad Dog Chee?

Related posts: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/haze-what-raffles-would-have-done/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/investing-in-indonesia-is-like-eating-puffer-fish-tre-readership/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/indonesia-even-friends-get-screwed/

ST’s right (((((

In Uncategorized on 18/04/2014 at 8:39 am

ST wrote an editorial denouncing the ranting against FTs especially the attack on the Filipinos’ planned do. [Update on 20th April 2014 at 6 am:Curb the anti-foreigner ranting ST editorial]

I agree with ST. Last yr I wrote “Pinoys been doing it legally for yrs, so why the rants now?” and I reproduce it below. BTW, the Filipinos cleaned up the park after their event, unlike our environmentalists who talk the talk of honouring the environment but who are no better than litter-bugs https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/litter-bugs-honour-earth-hour/

It’s not often that LKY and Dr Chee agree on anything but they do on one issue

One LKY in 1957 said in the legislative assembly :

For cheap labour, they [the British] allowed unrestricted immigration without any plan, without any policy and without any intention of creating or preserving the self. I do not condemn the immigration as such, but I condemn the government which has no regard for the people of the country who have been assimilated and did not bother to educate or to provide education for those coming in. Today, with the renaissance of the motherland of each of the immigration groups, chauvinist tendencies are incited. Yet at this critical juncture we have to call upon these immigrants to give this country their undivided loyalty.

(S’pore Notes: http://singaporedesk.blogspot.sg/2014/02/the-wit-wisdom-of-lee-kuan-yew.html)

In 2013, at Hong Lim Green (the people’s parly?), Dr Chee said, “A word of caution, I ask all of us here in Singapore to be the people that we truly are, the tolerant people that we are and if we attack, we attack the policy, we point out the flaws in the policy, not against the people who are here for work.”, can be simplified to “We disagree with the govt’s pro-FT policy, not the foreigners working here. We are unhappy with the “FTs first, citizens last” attitude of the govt because …”  https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/easy-to-avoid-xenophobe-label/

(https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/back-to-the-future-lky-dr-chee-the-sdp-agree-on/)

—–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——

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

**Everything is prohibited, unless allowed.

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

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/pinoys-been-doing-it-legally-for-yrs-so-why-the-rants-now/

Great responses to PM’s, minister’s BS

In Footie, Political governance on 17/04/2014 at 5:11 am
I’m sure you read about the lunch PM had with the FT. PM was going thru dad’s Hard Truths as interpreted by a faithful, dutiful son.
Did you notice this?

I fight off an urge to reach across and grab a couple of his raspberries. Under most circumstances, this would be a faux pas but it would be a particularly gross move with a Singaporean …
A regular TRE poster pointed out, Gideon Rachman wrote that he “fight off an urge to reach over and grab a couple of his (LHL’s) raspberries”. Don’t know for sure if he intended it but “raspberry” is British slang for making a fa-rting sound by blowing thru pursed lips. In effect he may be underhandedly saying LHL is talking bull. The joke is on LHL on this one.
Gideon Rachman (Ex-Econonist) is one of FT’s finest, in a team full of brilliant, irrelevant people. The PM’s team must have been mad to let him anywhere near our PM who can barely manage to handle our local running dogs reporters and editors.
I had wanted to bitch blog about minister Wong’s comments about SingTel doing NS so that we could watch World cup footie. Fortunately some subversive at Today published this
Consumers pay the price for aggressive SingNet bidding
From Gary Chua Sheng Yang
Published: April 16, 4:12 AM
It was said in Parliament that the high prices for the 2014 World Cup broadcast here was due to Singapore being a price-taker from FIFA. (“S’pore can’t set lower World Cup prices: Minister”; April 15)

What was not considered, though, was SingNet’s behaviour in acquiring the rights for such content. In trying to acquire subscribers, SingNet has, in the past, bid aggressively for the English Premier League rights, winning at a high cost.

Competition in the cable television market, in its current form, has thus disadvantaged consumers in the past few years in terms of the prices for offerings such as the EPL and the World Cup. The argument that FIFA and the Premier League are price-setters seems flawed. Would they not have accepted lower offers if those had been the only offers on the table?

(http://www.todayonline.com/voices/consumers-pay-price-aggressive-singnet-bidding)

Uodate minutes after publishing: Juz read, The inescapable conclusion: democracy would work much better without elections http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/04/economist-explains-8

Why SMC should act against PAP MP

In Humour, Malaysia, Political governance on 16/04/2014 at 4:18 am

One day after foot-in-mouth* and eye specialist Dr Lim Wee Kiak retracted his criticisms of M’sia’s handling of the MH 370, Reuters reported  Malaysia’s government has begun investigating civil aviation and military authorities to determine why opportunities to identify and track … MH370 were missed in the chaotic hours after it vanished, two officials said*.

(http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/04/11/malaysia-airplane-investigation-idINDEEA3A06M20140411)

If only he waited another day, he would have come up roses, in his original criticism. And the govt would have edlook stupid in implicitly castigating him.

Seriously, if the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) can censure plastic surgeon Dr Woolly Woffles Wu for getting his employee to take the blame for his speeding offences in 2005 and 2006 when the courts take a lenient view of this offence (unlike the UK where it is considered a perversion of justice, jailable up to eight months http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tees-23282995), it should censure Dr Lim for stupidity.

SMC is suspending Dr Wu from practice for four months, saying that in arriving at an appropriate sanction, its role was to consider what penalties would be sufficient and of specific deterrence such that no registered medical practitioner would want to take the risk to commit such an offence that would lower the standing of the medical profession.

Well the same should apply for doctors who consistently talk rubbish in public.

SMC also said that Woffles had “tarnished the good name of the profession”, “instead of setting a good example for younger practitioners to emulate”.

Well does SMC want young doctors to emulate Dr Lim? They would if they don’t take him to task for making stupid remarks.

Dr Wu’s seniority and standing in the medical profession was also found to be an aggravating factor, said the SMC.

Well Dr Lim is a senior doctor too. He too makes serious money.

As the PAP is short-listing its candidates for the next GE, it might to consider eye doctors a miss, and retiring those it already has. Think VivianB and Dr Lim, and one can draw reasonable conclusions about the kind of people who become eye doctors and PAP MPs.

—-

*“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals. Hence, a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity,” Dr Lim told LianHe ZaoBao in Chinese.

**The story reported portrays the dysfunctional M’sian system:

A sixth source, a senior official in the civil aviation sector, said the plane’s disappearance had exposed bureaucratic dysfunction in Malaysia, which has rarely been subject to such international demands for transparency. “There was never the need for these silos to speak to one another. It’s not because of ill intent, it’s just the way the system was set up,” the official said.

The accounts given to Reuters reveal growing tensions between civilian officials, the military and Malaysia Airlines over whether more could have been done in those initial hours.

One of the Reuters sources said military officials in particular were concerned they could lose their jobs.

Tensions have also emerged between the government and state-controlled Malaysia Airlines.

 

Impt of Indonesia to Jardine’s and other local listcos

In Indonesia on 15/04/2014 at 6:03 am

Inonesia was the largest revenue generator for many Singapore-listed companies in their most recent financial year, according to Singapore Exchange (SGX).

One in 10 stocks listed on SGX reported revenues specifically from Indonesia. Of those 80 companies, slightly more than a quarter reported Indonesia as the country that accounted for their largest revenue share.

This excludes stocks which segment revenue to South-east Asia, Asia and the Middle East, or Asia-Pacific regions, such as Jardine Matheson Holdings and Wilmar International.

Jardine Cycle & Carriage (JC&C), a member of the Jardine Matheson group and part of the Straits Times Index, has an interest in Indonesia-listed conglomerate Astra. Together with its subsidiaries and associates, JC&C employs people across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. It has a total market capitalisation of $17.3 billion and a year-to-date total return gain of 35 per cent.

(BT 10 April)

JC&C is the Jardine group’s crown jewel, which reminds me, “Jardine [Matheson] shares have multiplied 10 times in 12 years, never mind the dividends,” according to a recent FT piece. I missed this. In early noughties, I tot of selling HSBC and buying Matheson or Strategic. Never did. Well HSBC (bought in 84) outperformed Jardines in 80s and 90s but went AWOL or MIA in noughties.

I had tot that based on history, Jardines would goof when I decided against the switch. In its attempts to diversify out of HK before the reds came in and ruined HK, it bot rubbish in Hawaii and elsewhere. HSBC backed people like Superman and other local tycoons while diversifying out of HK and into the US and UK. A sensible strategy more in line with Perfidious Albion. In the noughties, it was HSBC that crashed buying a US subprime lender. The losses there would have ruined a Citi or any other more efficient manager of capital. Happily HSBC had lots of fat to lose. And a massive rights issue almost doubled my holding. HSBC is getting its act together.

Still, Jardines would have been better .

V.V. good at solving “paper” problems, so what? More peanuts?

In Uncategorized on 14/04/2014 at 4:20 am

We are Number 1 at problem-solving skills*, according to the results of international tests. Singapore and South Korea were top in tests taken by 15-year-olds. These problem-solving tests were taken at the same time as the Pisa tests, which compare how well pupils perform in maths, reading and science.

So what? A 5-year boy, from a country ranked 18th, is on Microsoft’s list of recognised security researchers.

A five-year-old boy who worked out a security vulnerability on Microsoft’s Xbox Live service has been officially thanked by the company.

Kristoffer Von Hassel, from San Diego, figured out how to log in to his dad’s account without the right password.

Microsoft has fixed the flaw, and added Kristoffer .

In an interview with local news station KGTV, Kristoffer said: “I was like yea!”

Don’t  see anyone that young, let alone any teenager, from S’pore, South Korea, China, Finland etc on that list.

Seriously, rankings like this have their uses (PR mainly; but most importantly as orange or red lights that there are serious problems in the education system) but the”real world rarely requires IQ-smart people to sit in silos, decipher data and reports, and solve pre-designed problems based on pure hard logic,” says Perry Tan (who GIC’s ex-chief economist says  has deep working HR experience with big global employers).

He also says:

The PISA test involves students solving pre-defined problems individually online.

How well does that translate to real world problem solving scenarios where you have to make sense of incomplete information and data; define the problem; collaborate and debate with others who have differing perspectives, cultures and styles; work with and around systems, processes and organisational dynamics; use intuition as much as logic to formulate a solution; market your solution to stakeholders to get buy-in; and finally drive relentlessly towards an outcome you want?

His edited comments appeared in the constructive, nation-building Today. TOC (the unconstructive, nation-destroyer run by those who are upset that the PAP didn’t select them as elite paper warriors. LOL, juz joking) gives the unedited letter: http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/04/dont-blindly-trumpet-achievements-in-standardised-tests/

Are peanuts the prize for problem-solving monkeys? Or bananas?

Well this article would imply that the answer is “Yes”, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2010/12/02/what-is-a-college-degree-worth-in-china/high-test-scores-low-ability

Students, parents, teachers, school leaders and even local government officials all work together to get good scores. From a very young age, children are relieved of any other burden or deprived of opportunity to do anything else so they can focus on getting good scores.

The result is that Chinese college graduates often have high scores but low ability. Those who are good at taking tests go to college, which also emphasizes book knowledge. But when they graduate, they find out that employers actually want much more than test scores. That is why another study by McKinsey found that fewer than 10 percent of Chinese college graduates would be suitable for work in foreign companies.

——-

*This longish excerpt from TRE  explains what the “problems” are. As I see it, there are lots of books that teach one how to solve these “problems”. Also gives background info on the various tests.

Singapore students have topped the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) problem-solving test.

PISA, organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), examines and compares how well education systems around the world are helping their students acquire the knowledge and skills essential for full participation in modern societies. It was first administered in 2000 and is conducted every 3 years with the most recent assessment in 2012. This is the second time that Singapore participated.

85,000 students worldwide took part in a computer-based problem-solving test. Singapore students beat other 15-year-olds from countries such as Japan, China and Finland.

Some of the types of questions that students had to answer are like:

  • Using a fictitious subway map, how do you get from “Diamond” to “Einstein” in the quickest way possible?
  • Plan how guests at a birthday party should be seated, based on a set of requirements

Nearly 3 in 10 Singaporean students were top performers – which means Singapore has the highest proportion of top performers in the PISA problem-solving test.

The 1,394 students from Singapore come from 172 schools, and they were randomly selected by PISA for the assessment.

Andreas Schleicher, OECD’s Acting Director for Education & Skills, said, “This data demonstrates that Singaporean students are not just spoon-fed. They are actually quite creative thinkers. They are actually able to engage with unfamiliar problems.”

Mr Schleicher added, “The idea of PISA is to reflect the type of skills that matters for the success of people in life and at work.”

“And we’re seeing, actually, big losses in employment, in tasks requiring routine cognitive skills. We’re seeing increases in tasks that require non-routine analytical skills, the capacity of students to extrapolate from what they know.”

Mr Schleicher also said that the world economy no longer pays for what a person knows. “Google knows everything. The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know, and that makes a very big difference,” he said.

“Innovation today is no longer about you having a great idea and being able to do it. Innovation is to do with how you can connect with the ideas of others, people who share other ways of thinking, other belief systems.”

Mr Schleicher praised Singapore, “I think the reason why Singapore is doing well is because Singapore has very close eyes and ears of what’s happening in the world and the economy, and I think maintaining that is very critical.”

 

 

 

Looking for value for $ when studying in US?

In Financial competency, Financial planning on 13/04/2014 at 5:48 am

Check out this link http://www.economist.com/node/21600212

It tells you which colleges offer US students the best, worse returns for the fees they pay. While not directly applicable for S’poreans, some sign-post is better than none. Check out Harvey Mudd, a liberal arts college of science, engineering, and mathematics. Seems to offer bang for the buck.

Whether or not it is worth paying depends on who you are, what you study and where. PayScale, a research firm, has done a big survey of graduates and used it to estimate the financial return on degrees from different American colleges and universities. Our interactive chart below shows the total cost of a degree after financial aid (the beginning of the coloured bar) and the return over 20 years (the end of the bar). The return is defined as the amount that a graduate earns, minus what someone who did not attend college would earn, and minus the cost of attending college. Thus, a wider bar is good. The chart can be sorted by cost, return (annualised and over 20 years) or alphabetically.

PAP govt and S’poreans no ak degrees in arts and humanities, US data shows why:

Unsurprisingly, engineering is a good bet wherever you study it. An engineering graduate from the University of California, Berkeley can expect to be nearly $1.1m better off after 20 years than someone who never went to college. Even the least lucrative engineering courses generated a 20-year return of almost $500,000.

Arts and humanities courses are much more varied. All doubtless nourish the soul, but not all fatten the wallet. An arts degree from a rigorous school such as Columbia or the University of California, San Diego pays off handsomely. But an arts graduate from Murray State University in Kentucky can expect to make $147,000 less over 20 years than a high school graduate, after paying for his education. Of the 153 arts degrees in the study, 46 generated a return on investment worse than plonking the money in 20-year treasury bills. Of those, 18 offered returns worse than zero.

– See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21600131-too-many-degrees-are-waste-money-return-higher-education-would-be-much-better#sthash.cJdJZ7Xp.dpuf

Unsurprisingly, engineering is a good bet wherever you study it. An engineering graduate from the University of California, Berkeley can expect to be nearly $1.1m better off after 20 years than someone who never went to college. Even the least lucrative engineering courses generated a 20-year return of almost $500,000.

Arts and humanities courses are much more varied. All doubtless nourish the soul, but not all fatten the wallet. An arts degree from a rigorous school such as Columbia or the University of California, San Diego pays off handsomely. But an arts graduate from Murray State University in Kentucky can expect to make $147,000 less over 20 years than a high school graduate, after paying for his education. Of the 153 arts degrees in the study, 46 generated a return on investment worse than plonking the money in 20-year treasury bills. Of those, 18 offered returns worse than zero.

– See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21600131-too-many-degrees-are-waste-money-return-higher-education-would-be-much-better#sthash.cJdJZ7Xp.dpuf

Unsurprisingly, engineering is a good bet wherever you study it. An engineering graduate from the University of California, Berkeley can expect to be nearly $1.1m better off after 20 years than someone who never went to college. Even the least lucrative engineering courses generated a 20-year return of almost $500,000.

Arts and humanities courses are much more varied. All doubtless nourish the soul, but not all fatten the wallet. An arts degree from a rigorous school such as Columbia or the University of California, San Diego pays off handsomely. But an arts graduate from Murray State University in Kentucky can expect to make $147,000 less over 20 years than a high school graduate, after paying for his education. Of the 153 arts degrees in the study, 46 generated a return on investment worse than plonking the money in 20-year treasury bills. Of those, 18 offered returns worse than zero.

– See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21600131-too-many-degrees-are-waste-money-return-higher-education-would-be-much-better#sthash.cJdJZ7Xp.dpuf

Unsurprisingly, engineering is a good bet wherever you study it. An engineering graduate from the University of California, Berkeley can expect to be nearly $1.1m better off after 20 years than someone who never went to college. Even the least lucrative engineering courses generated a 20-year return of almost $500,000.

Arts and humanities courses are much more varied. All doubtless nourish the soul, but not all fatten the wallet. An arts degree from a rigorous school such as Columbia or the University of California, San Diego pays off handsomely. But an arts graduate from Murray State University in Kentucky can expect to make $147,000 less over 20 years than a high school graduate, after paying for his education. Of the 153 arts degrees in the study, 46 generated a return on investment worse than plonking the money in 20-year treasury bills. Of those, 18 offered returns worse than zero.
– See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21600131-too-many-degrees-are-waste-money-return-higher-education-would-be-much-better#sthash.cJdJZ7Xp.dpuf

So taz why so many FTs teaching here in arts and social science?

 

Unsurprisingly, engineering is a good bet wherever you study it. An engineering graduate from the University of California, Berkeley can expect to be nearly $1.1m better off after 20 years than someone who never went to college. Even the least lucrative engineering courses generated a 20-year return of almost $500,000.

Arts and humanities courses are much more varied. All doubtless nourish the soul, but not all fatten the wallet. An arts degree from a rigorous school such as Columbia or the University of California, San Diego pays off handsomely. But an arts graduate from Murray State University in Kentucky can expect to make $147,000 less over 20 years than a high school graduate, after paying for his education. Of the 153 arts degrees in the study, 46 generated a return on investment worse than plonking the money in 20-year treasury bills. Of those, 18 offered returns worse than zero.

– See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21600131-too-many-degrees-are-waste-money-return-higher-education-would-be-much-better#sthash.cJdJZ7Xp.dpuf

Unsurprisingly, engineering is a good bet wherever you study it. An engineering graduate from the University of California, Berkeley can expect to be nearly $1.1m better off after 20 years than someone who never went to college. Even the least lucrative engineering courses generated a 20-year return of almost $500,000.

Arts and humanities courses are much more varied. All doubtless nourish the soul, but not all fatten the wallet. An arts degree from a rigorous school such as Columbia or the University of California, San Diego pays off handsomely. But an arts graduate from Murray State University in Kentucky can expect to make $147,000 less over 20 years than a high school graduate, after paying for his education. Of the 153 arts degrees in the study, 46 generated a return on investment worse than plonking the money in 20-year treasury bills. Of those, 18 offered returns worse than zero.

– See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21600131-too-many-degrees-are-waste-money-return-higher-education-would-be-much-better#sthash.cJdJZ7Xp.dpuf

Iskandar: First gd news in 2014

In Malaysia on 12/04/2014 at 5:08 am

Last yr M’sia and Johor shot themselves and investors by imposing levies, restriction on property buyers in Iskandar.

This blog has been always sceptical about the rhetoric of govt co-operation on Iskandar. If both govts can work in training in skilled workforce, Iskandar will be a success. But they still on talking about co-operation.. But taz something.

Singapore has offered to help train a skilled workforce to meet the growing need for workers as the Iskandar Malaysia project takes off.

“As Iskandar thrives, we can expect also to need more people to be trained for the jobs to be created – and so I also talked about vocational training and Singapore helping Malaysia to upgrade its vocational training for workers who can work in Iskandar,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters yesterday after his annual “retreat” meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak.

In a joint statement, both leaders acknowledged the importance of a skilled labour force in boosting socio-economic development. They welcomed the ongoing talks between the various agencies of the two countries on collaboration in vocational training.

Speaking of the win-win gains for both Singapore and Malaysia in cooperating in Iskandar at a joint press conference, Mr Lee said: “The great advantage of Iskandar Malaysia is that it’s across the Straits of Johor, and that means that you can tap on what Singapore offers in terms of infrastructure, in terms of services, in terms of industrial base.” 8th April BT

NTUC: What Devan Nair got wrong

In Political governance on 11/04/2014 at 5:49 am

The NTUC has a clown cabinet minister and its own MPs within the PAP.The last time it approved of a strike was decades ago (2 Jan 1986). The PAP govt frowns on strikes, and NTUC has to be constructive, and nation-building, like the local media. The PAP govt knows best leh.

Once upon a time the PAP was strike friendly. In 1960 125,000 man-hours were lost in strikes compared with only 26.000 in 1959. The person who reported this statistic, the outgoing head of the S’pore Chamber of Commerce called for an inquiry into where the trade union movement was leading S’pore.

Woodhull, a union man (Singapore Trades Union Congress) and a PAP cadre and activist (later arrested in Coldstore) said in the 6 months before the PAP took power in 1959, the workers were “repressed”. So the jump in strikes was to be expected when they were liberated. (Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962))

Well the PAP soon grew less-strike friendly as the economy was affected by strikes and an economic slowdown.

LKY and the other PAP leaders (remember he was only first among equals) decided to form a new trade union movement. National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) was created in 1961 when the Singapore Trades Union Congress (STUC), which had backed the People’s Action Party (PAP), split into the NTUC and the Singapore Association of Trade Unions (SATU). In 1963, the government detained SATU’s leaders during Operation Coldstore and deregistered it.

Only NTUC was left standing: competition eliminated. It never had to persuade the workers that its plans were better.

Devan Nair as a founder of the NTUC and as its first Sec-Gen had a different idea of the role of unions from the one of union leaders in the S’pore of the 1950s: one where the govt, unions and businessmen collaborated for the public good, and where general economic prosperity benefited the employers and their workers.

He (and other PAP leaders) publicly said that they had in mind the German model of industrial relations: “The most notable of such experiments have been by the Staedtler, Carl Zeiss, Robert Bosch, Gert Spindler and Rexroth undertakings in West Germany, and the John Lewis and Scott-Bader enterprises in England.” The last two were British worker co-operatives. John Lewis is still a model for the co-operative way of doing things.

They hated the traditional British model despite (perhaps because) many of the leaders having studied there, and despite the English-educated leaders having influenced by British socialist thinkers, the Fabian Society and the British Labour party. Devan Nair (not one of the UK educated leaders) quoting a British writer, Mr. Folkert Wilken, on the subject:

“It is an inveterate evil of the traditional structure of trade unions, that in order to exist they must struggle to recruit members, and to make membership appear in the most attractive light. They are therefore under constant compulsion to prove the necessity of their existence. They have to institute periodic and militant proceedings for increased wages and shorter hours. By doing this, they are appealing to the egotistic interests of the workers. Thus, they never appeal to the social ideals dormant in the workers. They cannot, for they do not consider it their duty to further such ideals, and have no clear picture of the practical realisation of these ideals. They therefore wish to persevere in their war for higher wages and less work. To these aims they owed their birth, a hundred years ago. But then, those aims were justified by the conditions of the time, as they are always justified when there is capitalistic exploitation of labour.”

The virus of the British industrial disease is also latent in Singapore** and could develop a malignant potency in future years, if our social thinkers and planners do not give thought to the development of corrective and remedial measures.

(http://sgrepository.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/wages-alone/)

Funnily for an ex-communist, he never ever mentioned (at least publicly: I’m happy to stand corrected on this point) that the NTUC was modeled on the Soviet Union’s and Communist China’s trade unions’ movements (Just like one LKY kept insisting that the PAP was modeled on the Roman Catholic Church when in fact it was modeled on the Soviet communist party and the Chinese communist party that imitated its structure. The ideas and principles of both organisations followed those of Lenin). The unions were subordinate to the leaders of the communist party who were also the leaders of the govt, the countries being one party states.  They were not equal partners to the govt or the employers (state-owned). This didn’t matter because the communist party represented the interests of the workers, the proletariat.

Devan Nair wanted to improve the working conditions and life of the workers, but he was willingly to use a model that had shown itself capable of exploiting the workers; a system that depended on the whims and fancies of the political leader, there being no institutional checks to their power. No need to have checks and balances because the party and hence its leaders represented the workers.

I’m sure that such a smart man (in EQ and IQ) would have realised the danger especially as he was a well read man (his speeches seem to indicate this, or did he have a good speech writer?). But as he tot the world of LKY****, he created (with others) the NTUC based on the Leninist model.

As I pointed out earlier, by 1973, he may have recognised the problems S’pore was going to face if it continued on the PAP govt’s chosen trajectory, but he was impotent to change the system. He had helped create a union movement that was subordinate to the ruling govt in a defacto one-party state. The NTUC would improve the life of the the workers only if the govt wanted to take care of the workers. If it didn’t, the NTUC would not be in a position to help the workers. It would only spin the govt’s propaganda, like Squealer in Animal Farm, explaining why the other farm animals had to endure hardship.

When in the mid 1990s, the govt realised that S’pore was losing its competitive edge (a fact, not a Hard Truth or Heart Truth) and it tot that economic growth required real wages to be held down and real estate prices to be inflated**** the workers had to accept the nasty consequences. The NTUC was part of the machinery of govt. As to protesting, well sheep S’poreans don’t protest: they juz bleat*****. Besides, S’poreans are law abiding and protests (Hong Leong excepted) and strikes need official permission.

NTUC, as a champion of the workers, was flawed from its conception, a bit like the creature that Dr Frankenstein created. For that, Devan Nair, whatever his good intentions, must accept part of the blame.

One wonders whether when Lim Chin Seong and Fong Swee Suan, Woodhull  and other radical left unionists met Devan Nair in the afterlife, they chorused,”Dr Frankenstein, we presume?”?

—–

*(http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/mai/new-book-singapore-correspondent/)

by Leon Comber*

Publisher:  Marshall Cavendish International Asia

Singapore Correspondent Book CoverSingapore Correspondent” covers five years of Singapore’s colourful political past – a period of living turbulently and sometimes dangerously. It is a collection of eye-witness dispatches, sent from Singapore to London, spanning a time when Singapore was emerging from British colonial rule and moving forward to self-government and independence. Many of the early struggles of the People’s Action Party (PAP) are described as the focus is on the political struggle taking place in which the PAP played a major part. Many important events which have long been forgotten are brought to life. These dispatches prove that political history need not be dull, and indeed can sometimes be entertaining and lively.

* MAI Adjunct Research Fellow

Reviewed here: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/im-invested-in-spore-spore-in-50s-60s/

**Bit ironical this given that PAP activists were in the forefront of the strikes.

***It is important to appreciate, however, that Lee Kuan Yew and Co. belong to a freak generation. In fact, as individuals, they were quite unrepresentative of the great majority of their social class, the members of which were brought up and educated in the colonial era, and whose major preoccupation was to fend for themselves and feather their own nests … But because the present generation of leaders exceeded their class characteristics and loyalties, and developed a creative vision of a better society, they were able to establish themselves as the modern leaders of Singapore. In more senses than one, this freak generation are the creators of the vibrant and bustling Republic we know today.

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/in-1973-devan-nair-foresaw-todays-income-inequality/

****OK, OK, I exaggerate. But go ask Mah Bow Tan.

*****They always have. It’s juz that the internet and social media have amplified the once soft bleats. Take away the anonymity of the internet and social media and there will be a return to the silence of the lambs.

Commodity prices are close to the bottom of the cycle?

In Commodities, Indonesia, Malaysia on 10/04/2014 at 4:23 am

FT reported on April 3 that traders in an annual commodities seminar are getting bullish.

And this appeared earlier this yr

GROWTH has slowed in China, the destination of most of the world’s exports of iron ore, copper and other metals, as well as increasing quantities of oil and corn. Many analysts have declared that the China-driven commodities “supercycle” has run out of steam. But that may be premature. While global population growth is slowing, the number of people added each year is still increasing. Similarly, China’s economy will be 65% bigger in 2014 than it was in 2008. Macquarie, a bank, reckons that the growth of global demand for steel will slip to 3.1% a year between 2012 and 2018, compared with 3.3% in the previous six-year period, but that in absolute terms it will go from 45m tonnes a year to 50m tonnes a year. The same trend will apply to copper, aluminium, nickel, lead, zinc and tin. In terms of its impact on demand, Chinese growth of 7.5% today is the equivalent to 12% growth in 2008. On top of this there is growth from other Asian economies and the recovery of the American economy. The pace of increase in commodity prices may not match that of yesteryear, but the next upward climb looks set to start in 2014. See full article.

Related article:

Materials (Sector Equity)

  • The materials sector has fallen out of favour with investors in 2013, with the MSCI AC World Materials Sector index gaining just 0.3% (in SGD terms) last year.
  • Similar to the situation with the global financials sector in 2008/2009, massive write-downs have been undertaken by the sector; while this has reduced net asset values of resource companies, it also makes valuations (on a PB basis) more conservative.
  • As a beneficiary of a global economic recovery, we believe the conservatively valued materials sector may emerge as a “dark horse” this year.
  • Our recommended fund for global resources equities: First State Glb Resources

https://secure.fundsupermart.com/main/article/Idea-Week-Capture-Investment-Opportunities-2014-9073

SunT sometime back (sometime last yr) had a bullish piece. http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={27464576-17202-5110879539} Either ahead of the the curve, too early or clueless. LOL. What do you think?

If palm oil, rubber and energy cheong gd for Indonesia, M’sia and Thailand (rubber), and for some SGX counters. Think Olam, Noble and the plantation stocks for starters. And think property developers: think esp CapitaLand. Exposure here and in China.

Nathan’s presidential pension: the facts

In Political governance on 09/04/2014 at 5:00 am

Kee chui all those who believe that Nathan gets paid monthly his presidential pension? And that is based on the millions he got paid every yr for being S’pore’s top security guard?

When Nathan stepped down as president, I tot to myself, “On top of the millions he got paid as chief jaga, he now gets a pension.  In a place where supposedly there is no free lunch especially for the elderly poor**, this guy gets more free meals for lunch and dinner than he can ever eat. He deserves the chronic diseases he is suffering from.”

Well I was wrong.He didn’t get a presidential pension. And BTW Tony Tan isn’t entitled to one.

In a comment on my piece on Devan Nair, the Jedi knight, a reader wrote in response to a comment by another reader that ex-presidents are entitled to pensions:

You are wrong in your view that ex-presidents are entitled to pensions. They never were so entitled. Prior to the passing of the Parliamentary Pensions Act on 9 November, 2012, the Constitution provided for Parliament to provide for his pension whenever they feel the need for giving a pension. There is therefore no entitlement as such. Even such provision has been abolished with the passing of the Act, which by the way, also abolished MPs’ pensions. As for your assertion that even widows of ex-presidents are entitled to pensions you are certainly incorrect. Remember the case of Puan Noor Aisha, the widow of President Yusoff. Parliament was specifically asked to provide for her lifetime maintenance because there was no such entitlement. It was, and still is, terminable upon her re-marriage.

And

You can refresh your memory by reading the Hansard. For Devan Nair, the sitting on 31.8.1985; for Puan Noor Aishah, the sitting on 30.12.1970. Note that the Civil List And Pension Act was amended to specifically allow for a pension to widows of Presidents as President Yusof died in November 1970. For the removal of pensions for President and their widows, read Teo Chee Hean’s speech in Parliament on 10.9.2012. To answer your question about Sheares and Nathan, Teo has stated that ” No former President has ever been granted a pension by the State.”

I missed Teo’s comments. Well our constructive, nation-building media missed a trick in not publicising the fact that presidents are not entitled to pensions.

BTW, this post is dedicated to the person I quoted above. I have to be more careful: I lazily wrote that Devan Nair was “quietly pensioned-off” and the above resulted.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/president-nathan-an-ordinary-sporean/

—-

*Fact that he accepted a pay cut as his term was ending showed that he didn’t think he deserved the millions he was paid. Yes, yes, I know the stories that he donated millions on the quiet to charity. But is that a fact? Or only a Hard Truth? Or its half brother, a Heart Truth? To tell the truth, I believe he donated millions but belief is not evidence.

**Ask VivianB.

 

Noble: Time to cheong?

In China, Commodities on 08/04/2014 at 4:25 am

Well depends on whether COFCO will run the joint venture as a commercial entity.

The structure allows Noble to reduce its exposure to an underperforming business while sharing in any recovery. The prospect of a deal had already fuelled a 25 percent rally in Noble’s shares in the past month, lifting its market value to around $6.5 billion. The proceeds could be reinvested in Noble’s better-performing energy and resources businesses. And because Noble will no longer have to include the venture’s $2.5 billion of net debt on its balance sheet, its headline borrowings will roughly halve, according to Eikon.

For Noble investors, the lingering worry is whether or not COFCO, which is already China’s main wheat importer, will run the joint venture as a commercial entity. The involvement of China-focused private-equity group HOPU in the Noble deal offers some comfort. So does China Investment Corporation’s 14 percent stake in Noble, which it has owned since 2009. If China does decide to squeeze Noble, it shouldn’t do so too hard.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/04/02/noble-china-joint-venture-still-faces-market-test/

At a recent conference, Yusuf Alireza, the chief executive of Noble, talked business models: “None of us should be arrogant to assume one model is right and one model is wrong . . . from a Noble perspective, our core competence is in the middle part of the supply chain . . . We are not miners, we are not farmers, we are not a bank.”

NS: Taiwan’s way

In Political governance on 07/04/2014 at 4:45 am

Netizens have recently (again) been voicing their opinions on NS and on the amount S’pore spends on the military. Most views are against the status quo. Sadly, a lot of comments are juz noise, if not rubbish: of the “PAP is always wrong” variety. The PAP may often be wrong, it isn’t always wrong.

Hopefully, an extract from the transcript of an interview that the Economist did with the president of Taiwan will help inform the debate on NS and S’pore’s military spending. Some comparisons are in the Appendix but before cyberwarriors  mindlessly attack the PAP because Taiwan spends less than ours in $ value, and as %age of budget and GDP, they should note that the US has voiced its concern that Taiwan is freeloading on the US, spending too little on its own defense despite Taiwan facing (unlike S’pore) an existentialist threat (China reserves the right to invade Taiwan if it seeks independence),

Taiwan has cut NS down to four mouths. Not all males of enlistment age will now be required to serve, but rather only a small proportion. Others will be able to follow their own career interests … a more reasonable use of human capital.

It realises that NS  is a cost to society, and wants to reduce this cost. When all the males of a certain age are serving in the military, this naturally places a cost on society. Many businesses will lack the manpower they need, which will limit our overall development. There is, therefore, a great social cost.

Does the govt here realise that having cheap labour for public event (any idea in F1, a commercial enterprises, has access to NS men as cheap labour?), and security involves a social cost?

The extract

In the context of the third line of defence, how problematic is the shift to an all-volunteer army proving? I understand that there are some problems with recruitment.

President Ma: Let me first clarify that we are not moving to an all-volunteer system. Ours will be largely a voluntary force, but not an all-volunteer force. We still have conscription. All males of enlistment age are obliged to spend four months in military training, following which they become part of the reserve. During wartime, they can also be called up to active service.

The Constitution states that the people have the duty to perform military service. Were we to do away with the four-month requirement, we would be in danger of violating the Constitution.

All nations that go by a volunteer system, especially those that had practiced conscription, experience a temporary dip in personnel numbers. With such a systemic change, it is natural that supporting measures will be insufficient. We have just made our change, and are tackling difficulties as they arise.

We have three main goals. First is to enhance the military’s combat readiness. Second is a more reasonable use of human capital. Last is reducing social costs.

As to enhancing combat readiness, let me explain by way of an example. Take a private. Under the old system, he would serve for a year. He completed his service just as he was getting a feel for things. Under the new system, volunteers serve for four years per enlistment. This means that mature soldiers will serve for a longer period. This will naturally increase combat readiness.

We also want to attract young people into the military, which requires improvements in three areas. The first is pay. A private under the old system would have been paid about NT$6,000 per month as basic salary [S$250]. Under the volunteer system, that same soldier will receive NT$33,000 [S$1375], a better than fivefold increase. Second, is honour. We must, on many fronts, increase soldiers’ social status, that they get the respect they deserve. Third, is career path. During the four-year enlistment period, soldiers will be given all manner of vocational training. Our hope is that they end their time in the military with at least one professional certificate, that when they re-enter society, they will not have trouble finding a job.

Of course, we hope to retain such people, and we have seen a retention rate of nearly 60% following these recent developments. This is no small achievement since the changeover to the new system. And we have been resolving difficulties we have encountered one by one by implementing our strategy.

Second is the reasonable use of human capital. Not all males of enlistment age will now be required to serve, but rather only a small proportion. Others will be able to follow their own career interests. This is, of course, a more reasonable use of human capital.

Third is reducing the cost to society. When all the males of a certain age are serving in the military, this naturally places a cost on society. Many businesses will lack the manpower they need, which will limit our overall development. There is, therefore, a great social cost. Through the changes we have overseen, we will reduce this cost.

Two months ago, the Executive Yuan raised the salary for voluntary military personnel, which has had an amazing result. Some 60 years ago, our military personnel numbered over 600,000. Today, they stand at roughly 200,000, a number that may fall a little further. This size of military is sufficient to defend Taiwan given modern self-defence methods.

BTW, here’s an antidote to the PAP’s claim that S’pore outperforms Taiwan:

If you look at the four economies that we used to club together as the original Asian Tigers—Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong—they are all having to reinvent themselves. Do you think that those four economies can still learn from each other? Does Taiwan have any other economic models in mind that it wants to emulate?

President Ma: I believe that the Four Asian Tigers can still learn from each other, even though their specific situations may be slightly different. For example, our situation is similar to that of the Republic of Korea, and rather different from those of Singapore and Hong Kong, because the latter are basically cities. Nonetheless, in terms of their strategies for economic development, they can still serve as a valuable reference.

Looking at the economic performance of these four countries and regions over the past six years, our economic growth rate has been 2.91%, second to Singapore. This is based on nominal GDP. If we look at GDP in terms of purchasing power parity, we have had the highest growth rate.

We also have had the lowest CPI among the Four Asian Tigers. Our unemployment rate has been relatively high, but our misery index—calculated by adding the inflation rate to the unemployment rate—was the second-lowest amongst the four.

Our problem is that we have made insufficient progress in terms of liberalisation, and the pace of our industrial restructuring has been too slow. With regard to regional economic integration, we have to make up considerable ground to be able to compete with Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Republic of Korea.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/03/interview-taiwans-president

Related article on NS in Taiwan: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25085323

—-

Appendix

S’pore, Taiwan military expenditure

In 2013, the estimated military spending was US$10.5bn for Taiwan, and US$12bn for S’pore.

In Taiwan’s case this represented 16.2% of the budget and 2.1% of GDP.

In S’pore’s case the US$12bn represented 20% of the budget and 6% of GDP.

Even if Taiwan is spending too little, surely S’pore is spending too much? I don’t know. What do you think?

Related article on S’pore’s military might: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101393982

MH370 fallout hurts us too

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tourism on 06/04/2014 at 4:49 am

The incompetency of the M’sian defence officials (no explanation yet on why aircraft were not scrambled when aircraft veered off course) and there are allegations that the veering off course was not detected forb hours), and the perceived failures may affect us.

Demand for inbound tours featuring Singapore and Malaysia could see some ripple effect, following the backlash that Malaysia has received in China …

SA Tours’ manager for inbound tours, Dan Tan, said that he has seen a 40 per cent decrease in demand for such combined packages. Mr Tan said that the bulk of the drop comes from Chinese tourists, as demand from tourists in other countries have held steady.

At this time of the year, SA Tours usually receives enquiries from Chinese tourists for large tour groups of 80 to 100 people for the mid-year holiday period. However, for now, the company has received enquiries only from small groups of three to five people.

Mr Tan said that while business has already declined because of a weaker global economy, he believes the MH370 incident is another reason behind the drop in numbers for combined inbound tours. “There’s a lot of debate online between Malaysians and the Chinese, and the Chinese are saying they won’t come to Malaysia again,” said Mr Tan.

To assure tourists, Golden Travel Services’ managing director, Cindy Chng, has told them that travelling to Malaysia is still safe, that the incident “should have no linkage with the place itself” …  no cancellations thus far from Chinese tourists coming in July for combined tours … they have expressed some concerns. “They may not have a good impression of Malaysia and don’t want to travel there,” …

She added that she is open to making changes for tourists if they want to forgo the Malaysia leg of the tour. [Package with Bali leh]

While CTC Travel does not have combined tour packages … said that he expects such sentiments to cause a drop in Chinese tourists coming to Singapore. “We’re pretty close neighbours, and people tend to link us together,” …does not think the impact will be huge … CTC … not been affected much as the company does not have many Chinese customers and focuses more on outbound travel.

Timesworld Travel & Educational Tours and Chan Brothers said that the incident has not impacted combined inbound tours, possibly because they run more corporate and educational tours which could be less affected.

But Timesworld … said that they could face a 10 to 20 per cent drop in demand for the peak season. People are still unsure and are waiting for others to take the first step, she said.

Tour operators say that the number of Chinese travellers on combined tours in the upcoming months will depend on how the situation is handled and resolved …

(BT 5 April)

A Balinese festival that we shld adopt

In Holidays and Festivals, Indonesia on 05/04/2014 at 4:43 am

Renumber that dumb idea to hold a Thai festival where water features prominently without the water?

Here’s an idea that should resonate among everyone living here (locals, FTs): a day of silence:

Tourist areas and economic centres usually bustling with activity on the Indonesian island of Bali were deserted on Monday, as its Hindu population observed a day of silence, it appears.

Foreign tourists were required to stay in their hotel compounds, and the island’s airport as well as sea ports were closed, the Jakarta Post newspaper says.

Nyepi marks the start of a new year according to the Balinese lunar calendar. Nobody works or travels, as it is traditionally a day of introspection and fasting. A special group of guards are usually the only people out on the streets – making sure everybody else stays at home.

(http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-26833923)

But we have to make sure make sure that the organisers do not organise the festival omitting the silence.

As this is a Balinese Hindu festival, and Hinduism albeit the Tamil version) is a major religion here, no-one can object to this festival on being a foreign import. It’s a foreign applicable variation of a major local (originally imported, as are all our major religions).

To avoid increasing the number of public hols (remember productivity) and causing offence if an existing public hol has to be removed from the list of public holidays, this “day of silence” could be celebrated on a Saturday or Sunday. Of course retailers, cinema owners  etc will be unhappy. So will employers who at present pay people to work on the weekend.

 

In 1973 Devan Nair foresaw today’s income inequality

In Political governance on 04/04/2014 at 5:21 am

I never tot of Devan Nair as a dissident until last week, His critical comments of one LKY and the PAP, I put down to the bitterness of being pensioned-off quietly, and then of being publicly humiliated when he complained of being pensioned-off. Devan Nair’s fall from grace and very public humiliation was to me poetic justice for someone who was seen by human rights and labour activists of helping the PAP enslave the workers who trusted him; a view I don’t share but taz another story.

Last week, I read a 1973 speech in which he

— attacked the consequences of a “meritocratic society”: elitism;

— expected a growing disparity in incomes;

— accused the new elite of a lack of general social concern or commitment; and

— said that S’pore would not turn out the way he and the other leaders of the PAP had envisioned.

He said,

My colleagues and I in the NTUC have done our part to persuade the workers to accept the growing income differentials between them and the burgeoning new elite of Singapore — the professionals, technocrats and management executives. We think our workers are sophisticated enough not to grudge the new elite their extra perks and special privileges but what they do resent is the lack of any tangible signs of general social concern or commitment on the part of the new
elite.

(http://sgrepository.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/emerging-elite/ Check out the person behind vthe site a KC gal living in the US. She doesn’t deserve the SPG tag that KC gals get affixed with even by ST editors)

Remember this was said when the PM (LKY was drawing a salary of $4,000 a month, less than $8,000 that David Marshall drew in 1957) and a salary of $100,000 a yr made the headlines of ST (Haw Par’s incoming expat MD’s salary).

As to a different S’pore from what the PAP leaders had envisioned: it sometimes happens that their work is undone by those who inherit their mantle of leadership.It is one of the ironies of development that some of the results of the work of the leaders of development are not what they themselves desired or intended.

They (including one LKY I suspect) would have been disappointed if they knew then (in 1973) that in the noughties,

— the PAP in the 2011 GE would only get 60% of the popular vote despite a growing economy that did not benefit many of  the voters (in 1973, the growing economy benefited most voters);

— two cabinet ministers (one a very senior one) would lose their seats convincingly;

— the PAP govt would lose its reputation for managerial efficiency: think the public tpt problems, the hospital bed shortage, the security breaches, the riot; or

— the PAP’s preferred presidential candidate would win by the shortest of short noses

So why didn’t he do something about it?

In 1973, he was not someone to be trifled with.  He was Sec-Gen of the NTUC, a charismatic speaker and he had credibility with the workers.  True they had effectively lost the right to strike, but in return they had benefited from strong economic growth, the result of MNCs setting up here to take adv of the labour laws protecting employers. In 1983, he got Lim Chee Onn (a scholar) sacked as NTUC Sec-Gen for not being able to connect with the workers. That was how powerful he was. (BTW, Lim Chee Onn turned to be a gd executive at Keppel, for which shareholders like me are grateful.)

Three connected answers suggest themselves hesitatingly, tentatively: He couldn’t because although he was in charge of the NTUC and had the support of the workers, the NTUC was so intertwined with the PAP and the govt that no one man could not break the bonds: even someone like him.

Then too LKY was at the zenith of his intellectual and political power. A person of Devan’s high EQ and IQ would realise that taking on LKY meant defeat.

Finally he still in 1973, tot the world of one LKY, and that the individual must be subordinated to the interest of society, ideas that had serious flaws to say the very least. In the same speech he said,

It is important to appreciate, however, that Lee Kuan Yew and Co. belong to a freak generation. In fact, as individuals, they were quite unrepresentative of the great majority of their social class, the members of which were brought up and educated in the colonial era, and whose major preoccupation was to fend for themselves and feather their own nests … But because the present generation of leaders exceeded their class characteristics and loyalties, and developed a creative vision of a better society, they were able to establish themselves as the modern leaders of Singapore. In more senses than one, this freak generation are the creators of the vibrant and bustling Republic we know today.

So maybe he tried working within the system to try to change it?

The tragedy of Devan Nair is that he

— realised (14 yrs after the PAP gained power, 8 yrs after he independence) that he had helped create a society that was going the “wrong” way; and

— he couldn’t do anything to prevent it.

If there is a memorial to honour him these words should be engraved, Indeed, it sometimes happens that their work is undone by those who inherit their mantle of leadership.It is one of the ironies of development that some of the results of the work of the leaders of development are not what they themselves desired or intended.

Actually, thinking about it, these words should appear on any memorial to any other dead PAP leader (including LKY when he has moved on) or on the PAP’s building.

 

Temasek’s Lim talks rubbish/ Olam helps African farmers

In Africa, Commodities, GIC, Political governance, Temasek on 03/04/2014 at 4:55 am

Temasek’s chairman Lim Boon Heng (the chap who cried when voting for casinos) was quoted by BT on 31 March as saying, “Coming from a little island nation with no natural resources except for some granite rocks, we are not a sovereign wealth fund in the normal sense of the term,” he said at a reception to mark the opening of Temasek’s new European office in London last Friday.

“Instead, we invest capital accumulated from generations of hard work and commitment by everyone in Temasek and the Temasek portfolio companies,” said Mr Lim in a speech at the Millennium Mayfair Hotel.

Well, I could reasonably say that he is talking rot*. It could be reasonably argued that part or most of money saved (via budget surpluses) could have been be more productively spent on making life better for S’poreans. It could have been spent on

— more hospital beds (http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/13/gan-says-hospital-beds-increased-by-30-really/),

— better public transport (Using back-of-the envelope calculations and figures in annual reports, since it was listed SMRT (over a decade ago) has paid S$562.79m in dividends to Temasek, and ComfortDelgro has paid the S’pore Labour Foundation (a statutory board affiliated to the NTUC) dividends of  S$150.46m since 2003 (Comfort and Delgro merged in 2003, and SLF had a stake in Comfort). The amount that ended up with the government was S$713.25m, with SMRT contributing 79%. But ComfortDelgro is likely be the main beneficiary of the S$1.1bn bus plan) (Italics added at 6.55am),

— low cost public housing (remember Mah saying that lowering the cost of land cheaper was raiding the reserves https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/what-are-in-our-reserves-a-revisit/. Link also describes how budget surpluses and the reserves are linked),

— welfare for the elderly and needy. and

— education.

The list for the productive use of govt revenue rather than to play roulette or baccarat (OK, OK invest) can go on and on.

 

Leading local economists (not juz a wannabe opposition politican) have made this point about better uses of govt money than squirreling it away for a rainy day that never comes**. They juz don’t get reported by our constructive, nation-building media.

But maybe the govt is changing its attitude and Temasek is leading the way?

Olam is into sustainable, ecofriendly agriculture.

Sor and farmers from 36 communities in the Juabeso/Bia district are part of a project to produce climate-smart cocoa, claimed to the the world’s first. The $1m, three-year pilot collaboration between Rainforest Alliance (RA), an environmental organization, and Olam International, agricultural company, offers financial incentive to the farmers.

In the wild, cocoa trees grow under taller trees, which protect them from the scorching sun. But in Ghana as in neighbouring Ivory Coast, which together account for more than half the global supply, cocoa is grown as a monoculture.

“I had a lot of trees on my farm, but I cut and burned them. I thought they brought diseases, were a nuisance and took the place of cocoa,” says the mother of four, who owns a 4-acre farm in Eteso.  “I didn’t know about the importance of shade trees until I joined the group.”

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2013/12/ghana)

Three cheers for Olam and Temasek for helping African farmers. Next stop S’pore SMEs?

Maybe Temasek is experimenting in Africa. Next an investment in a S’pore based co that helps S’poreans? Charity begins at home.

BTW, nice to see that GIC opened an office in Brazil. About time as Latin America is becoming unfashionable among the ang mohs.

GIC opened an office yesterday in Brazil, as it looks for more investment opportunities in Latin America.

The new office – its 10th globally – will focus on areas such as real estate, healthcare, financial and business services, and natural resources and infrastructure.

“Our presence in Brazil will enable our partners to engage early and interact closely with the GIC team, which is very beneficial for complex and sizeable investments,” said group chief investment officer Lim Chow Kiat.

“We believe our partners will gain from having access to GIC’s global network of business contacts and market insights. Although emerging markets remain volatile, we are confident of the long-term Latin America growth story.” (Yesterday’s BT).

These countries need capital, now that the ang mohs no longer like the area. China is investing there, BTW.

————————————————————————————————————

*One of these days I’ll blog why ever since Devan Nai, Lim Chee Onn and Ong Teng Cheonf, we’ve had clowns as NTUC leaders. Lim may have been a failure as NTUC leader (Devan Nair fixed him), he he turned out to be a gd for Keppel, for which I’m grateful.)

**I hope thyose who think the world of Ong Teng Cheong realise that he wanted to look away even the returns from reserves away from the masses. Lee Hsien Loong and co got their way on using some of the returns on govt spending.

Litter-bugs honour Earth Hour

In Uncategorized on 02/04/2014 at 5:23 am

No, I’m not trying to imitate New Nation. BTW, I don’t find NN funny. It tries too hard and is too obvious

Anyway, back to the hypocrisy of those who say that we should care more for the environment. I read the following Facebook comment (with accompanying photos) “Earth Hour in Singapore: first the glitter, then the litter; after the flash, leave the trash.”

Cherian George posted the above comment accompanied by  photographs of litter that would not look out of place on Sunday morning at the barbeque areas along East Coast Park.

An uppity, irony-challenged organiser grumbled “Cherian, you make it sound as if the Earth Hour movement and WWF left the trash back. Ever managed a crowd of 9000?”

Wonderful reply, “Oh dear, … I think everyone else understood perfectly that my post was a comment on the crowd’s anti-social behaviour, and not a criticism of the organisers. Putting your spokesman role aside, don’t you find it tragically ironic that people can come for an event whose sole purpose is to show we care for the environment – and then leave it to others to clean up their mess?”

Three points I’d like to add

First is the police should make it a condition before granting permission for future “environment-themed events that the organisers clean up after the event. I’m sure the kay pohs like Maruah will say that this is a cunning way to impose additional costs on social activists. Hey, if environmental lovers can’t clean up after their event, they should be forced to do so. Cleanliness via coercion is the S’pore way.

Next, if the supporters of environmental causes are juz as bad as ordinary S’poreans, surely the govt has a point when it insists that S’poreans cannot be trusted to do the right thing without coercion: that civic consciousness needs the spur and whip of anti-social draconian laws.

Finally, if the Filipino organisers of the annual Filipino independence day celebrations at Hong Lim Park can arrange for the cleaning of the place, after the event, why couldn’t the orgaisers of Earth Day?

My serious point is that activists must not be hypocrites, less they damage their cause. Especially when the cause is to remind us of the damage that we are doing to the environment

Annualised return of 8.4% using CPF*

In ETFs, Financial competency, Financial planning on 01/04/2014 at 4:34 am

(*Terms and conditions apply)

Only problem is that most of it is via capital appreciation i.e. must sell to get the income.

Straits Times Index EFTs getting an annualised 8.4% over the past 10 years.

While our CPF ordinary account is getting a miserly 2.5% that is getting beat by inflation.

Although we can invest amounts above $20,000 in the CPF ordinary account into approved stocks and unit trust, this rule puts a damper on everyone’s CPF accounts, especially those who are starting to work, or those whose pay is low and those who are not investment inclined.

More important is the fact that just the average dividends given by the STI ETF alone will have beat the 2.5% given by the CPF.

The reply by our government that the interest rate is low because our currency is strong is pure hogwash. If you are using the CPF funds to invest all over the world and boasting that you are getting investment returns that is on par or beat that of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, that explanation is laughable.

So why not just put all the CPF funds into STI ETFs, get dividends higher than 2.5%, have a more than even chance of getting capital returns with dividend as high as the 8.4% achieve over the last 10 years?

This is one example of the nanny state trying to be too clever.

http://www.financialfreedomsg.com/2014/03/why-dont-we-get-84-on-our-cpf.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FinancialFreedomSg+%28Financial+Freedom+SG%29&utm_content=FaceBook