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Archive for July, 2014|Monthly archive page

A fertility gift for next yr’s baby packs

In Humour, Japan on 31/07/2014 at 4:30 am

Something for the parents: packets of secretly punctured condoms.

a local official in Aichi prefecture set out a daring proposal. Tomonaga Osada suggested that the authorities could distribute secretly punctured condoms to young married couples, who would then get to work boosting the birth rate. His unorthodox ploy won few supporters, yet it reflects a gathering concern about Japan’s demographic plight. Last year just over 1m babies were born, far fewer than the number needed to maintain the population, which is expected to drop from 127m to around 87m by 2060. – See more at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/07/economist-explains-16#sthash.N9pg7bk9.dpuf
Now the serious stuff. The article also points out that in Japan: “the rising cost of child-rearing often imposes a de facto one-child policy.”
This is the problem here too, something that the govt here refuses to acknowledge. I have yet to meet a parent who  doesn’t say  the govt’s allowances for them doing NS in the bedroom is peanuts.
Banyan also points out also points out that job insecurity in Japan is making it hard for young married couples to decide to start families. Again this would apply here especially since young PMEs are more expensive than their FT counterparts.
Banyan suggests, “If companies gave greater protections to new, young hires in return for lessening the privileges of other employees, young couples would have a more stable basis on which to marry and raise families.” Well this would help here too.

BTW, Jap economists say immigration is the only way to tackle Japan’s old age problem.

Update at 6.20am: How parenting has changed in half a century in the US. Do watch this info-grahpic

CPF: PAP govt recycles hot air, smoke again/ All part of the wayang to diastract us?

In CPF, Political governance on 30/07/2014 at 4:35 am

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said earlier this week that the government would explore the option of private pension plans for the CPF for those who are able to take higher risk. But he also warned that private pensions “will not be a walk in the park”, as higher risk did not always translate into higher returns. (BT 24 July)

Here we go again. Time for civil servants and fund manager marketers to reopen their files from the early noughties.

As BT reported, Industry anticipation of the prospect of private pension plans for the CPF was intense in 2004. Such plans were mooted as a means to enhance returns and lower costs for CPF members.

Private pension plans were envisioned as balanced or mixed-asset portfolios which would be farmed out to the private sector to be managed on an institutional basis. The ideal scenario was that there would be no sales charge, and annual fees would be reduced to a fraction of the prevailing fees … In 2004, estimates of the fund size needed for an expense ratio of 50-75 basis points ranged from S$200-300 million to as much as S$1 billion*.

In 2007, the government said the CPF’s “risk-free” structure would be retained because the majority of members did not have large balances and because private pension funds would be “too risky for older members”.

That was the decision then.

Now in 2014, Tharman is raising the issue again? Now the rich can have private pensions, he says? Hello, why didn’t that happen in 2007? It was dismissed out of hand apparently on the ground that the rules had to be the same for everyone in the scheme.

Is the govt trying to distract us from the real issues of the day that can cause it problems as it spends our money on ourselves in trying to buy our votes: Minimum Sum calculations, how CPF Life funds are invested and is it that safe, and Medisave, Medishield flaws that show up the govt’s incompetency or meanness. One of these days, I’ll blog on what actuaries say about Medishield’s proposed buffer reserves: they agree with WP’s GG rather Gan and Puthu. Remember the higher the reserves, the larger the premiums paid.

Roy Ngerng’s “revelations”** and PM’s law suit distract S’poreans from these impt issues. Sadly, new media ais ana abets unwittingly the govt’s wayang. And now there is more smoke from Tharman.

Whatever leh, govt’s attitude on private pensions, and “tweaking” the CPF system reminds me of Charles Dicken’s description of the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit.

It describes the govt procrastinating over everything. It also can be seen as a reproach to the government that whatever it does the results are just empty words. And our govt dares call cyberspace “noise” given its track record on private pension plans?

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving — HOW NOT TO DO IT.

Through this delicate perception, through the tact with which it invariably seized it, and through the genius with which it always acted on it, the Circumlocution Office had risen to overtop all the public departments; and the public condition had risen to be — what it was.

It is true that How not to do it was the great study and object of all public departments and professional politicians all round the Circumlocution Office. It is true that every new premier and every new government, coming in because they had upheld a certain thing as necessary to be done, were no sooner come in than they applied their utmost faculties to discovering How not to do it. It is true that from the moment when a general election was over, every returned man who had been raving on hustings because it hadn’t been done, and who had been asking the friends of the honourable gentleman in the opposite interest on pain of impeachment to tell him why it hadn’t been done, and who had been asserting that it must be done, and who had been pledging himself that it should be done, began to devise, How it was not to be done. It is true that the debates of both Houses of Parliament the whole session through, uniformly tended to the protracted deliberation, How not to do it. It is true that the royal speech at the opening of such session virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have a considerable stroke of work to do, and you will please to retire to your respective chambers, and discuss, How not to do it. It is true that the royal speech, at the close of such session, virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have through several laborious months been considering with great loyalty and patriotism, How not to do it, and you have found out; and with the blessing of Providence upon the harvest (natural, not political), I now dismiss you. All this is true, but the Circumlocution Office went beyond it.

Because the Circumlocution Office went on mechanically, every day, keeping this wonderful, all-sufficient wheel of statesmanship, How not to do it, in motion. Because the Circumlocution Office was down upon any ill-advised public servant who was going to do it, or who appeared to be by any surprising accident in remote danger of doing it, with a minute, and a memorandum, and a letter of instructions that extinguished him. It was this spirit of national efficiency in the Circumlocution Office that had gradually led to its having something to do with everything. Mechanicians, natural philosophers, soldiers, sailors, petitioners, memorialists, people with grievances, people who wanted to prevent grievances, people who wanted to redress grievances, jobbing people, jobbed people, people who couldn’t get rewarded for merit, and people who couldn’t get punished for demerit, were all indiscriminately tucked up under the foolscap paper of the Circumlocution Office.

Numbers of people were lost in the Circumlocution Office. Unfortunates with wrongs, or with projects for the general welfare (and they had better have had wrongs at first, than have taken that bitter English recipe for certainly getting them), who in slow lapse of time and agony had passed safely through other public departments; who, according to rule, had been bullied in this, over-reached by that, and evaded by the other; got referred at last to the Circumlocution Office, and never reappeared in the light of day. Boards sat upon them, secretaries minuted upon them, commissioners gabbled about them, clerks registered, entered, checked, and ticked them off, and they melted away. In short, all the business of the country went through the Circumlocution Office, except the business that never came out of it; and its name was Legion.

Sometimes, angry spirits attacked the Circumlocution Office. Sometimes, parliamentary questions were asked about it, and even parliamentary motions made or threatened about it by demagogues so low and ignorant as to hold that the real recipe of government was, How to do it. Then would the noble lord, or right honourable gentleman, in whose department it was to defend the Circumlocution Office, put an orange in his pocket, and make a regular field-day of the occasion. Then would he come down to that house with a slap upon the table, and meet the honourable gentleman foot to foot. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman that the Circumlocution Office not only was blameless in this matter, but was commendable in this matter, was extollable to the skies in this matter. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman that, although the Circumlocution Office was invariably right and wholly right, it never was so right as in this matter. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman that it would have been more to his honour, more to his credit, more to his good taste, more to his good sense, more to half the dictionary of commonplaces, if he had left the Circumlocution Office alone, and never approached this matter. Then would he keep one eye upon a coach or crammer from the Circumlocution Office sitting below the bar, and smash the honourable gentleman with the Circumlocution Office account of this matter. And although one of two things always happened; namely, either that the Circumlocution Office had nothing to say and said it, or that it had something to say of which the noble lord, or right honourable gentleman, blundered one half and forgot the other; the Circumlocution Office was always voted immaculate by an accommodating majority.

Such a nursery of statesmen had the Department become in virtue of a long career of this nature, that several solemn lords had attained the reputation of being quite unearthly prodigies of business, solely from having practised, How not to do it, as the head of the Circumlocution Office. As to the minor priests and acolytes of that temple, the result of all this was that they stood divided into two classes, and, down to the junior messenger, either believed in the Circumlocution Office as a heaven-born institution that had an absolute right to do whatever it liked; or took refuge in total infidelity, and considered it a flagrant nuisance.

——-

*Background facts about CPF

Data compiled by Morningstar shows that there are funds which handily beat the CPF rates. Aberdeen’s Pacific Equity Fund, for example, generated annualised returns of 4.6 per cent over three years; 13.8 per cent over five years; and 13.5 per cent over 10 years. The maximum loss and volatility over the periods were in double digits, however.

As at March 2014, there was S$259.5 billion in total members’ balances in the CPF. The Ordinary Account (OA) accounted for S$100.7 billion and another S$62.8 billion sat in the Special Account (SA).

In terms of participation in the CPF Investment Scheme, S$20.7 billion of OA funds were invested, and S$5.7 billion of SA funds.

**Uncle Leong (Roy’s sifu) has been telling S’poreans for years what Roy has discovered. The only thing that Roy did different was to accuse the govt of “stealing” our CPF, something that he has repented of:

I recognise that the Article means and is understood to mean that Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and Chairman of GIC, is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the Central Provident Fund.

3.I admit and acknowledge that this allegation is false and completely without foundation.

4.I unreservedly apologise to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for the distress and embarrassment caused to him by this allegation.

 

 

 

Desperately seeking “core plus” or “value add” Reits

In Financial competency, Property, Reits on 29/07/2014 at 5:37 am

When it comes to Reits, I’m almost like Pussy Lim saying the PAP is doomed (since 1990s), though she recently nuanced her remarks and Roy on the govt “stealing” (my take on what he is claiming, not his word) CPF. Same old messages.

Here’s a variation on my Reits tale. I’m looking at a Reits’ strategy to guard against the effects of likely interest rate rises*. I’m looking at a“core plus” or “value add” strategy: Reits that buy underperforming assets, for example a building with empty space, and focuses on improving returns, for instance by increasing occupancy.

Or Reits outside traditional core commercial real estate include student housing, medical offices, storage and even social housing. I’ll be looking at the Jap Golf Reit.

If I find Reits that are executing this “core plus” or “value add” strategy competently, I’ll switch to them even if their yields are lower. Let you know my conclusions after I do the switches.

BTW, Bank of S’pore, OCBC’s private bank, is recommending Reits and other income plays.

Sounds like what I’ve been doing, suggesting the last few yrs. Maybe I can be Bank of Singapore’s strategist?

Singapore equities will remain range-bound for the short term, but dividend plays will continue to attract interest, said BoS’s CIO on July 3.

“… certain interesting themes in the Singapore market, and one of which … there are many opportunities in the dividend yielding sector, ‘REITs’, some of those Temasek-linked companies** do give you a very nice yield in the context of a very low yielding environment in the world,” said Chief Investment Officer Hou Wey Fook.

BOS says the impact of a slowing Chinese economy on Singapore’s growth will likely be offset by the pick-up in the developed economies. This combined with the steady performance of emerging economies will deliver the best global economic outlook in 2014, since three years ago. (BT report)

BoS, like me, says it prefers equities to fixed income due to falling bond yields and soaring stock market indices. It also expects the improving growth momentum to spur companies into increasing their capital expenditure and M&A activities.

——-

*Keep an eie on the junk bond market. It’s going through a serious correction that could turn into a collapse given that many say the junk bond is a bubble.

**https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/temaseks-fab-5-spore-blue-chips/

Remember our Sticker Lady? Her English equivalent

In Humour on 28/07/2014 at 4:22 am

Catherine Bolsover

 

Postbox on Sonning Bridge on Friday, October 25th, 2013

When I saw the above photos (link below) I remembered this ST line from some yrs back, “Samantha Lo Xin Hui, dubbed the Sticker Lady for her graffiti at several public areas last year, was yesterday sentenced to serve 240 hours of community service.” There about the same time, a SunT article that reported that HDB residents were complaining of stickers put up by estate agents etc, and I remember “8551 3997” had been plastering “For Sale” signs in the Siglap area trying to flog $3m properties.

SunT quoted a smart ass lawyer who said these estate agents can get away with it because “Law does not deal with trivae”, so nothing would be done. But then isn’t her behaviour trivae, I tot, then and still do.

But to be fair to the SPF, the English authorities don’t like Sam’s English counterpart:

… insists that his anonymity is necessary because “councils don’t really have that kind of sense of humour” and “take life very seriously”.

“I really don’t want to stand up [and try] to explain to a po-faced and humourless court why I have done things which are essentially humorous and whimsical.

(And I, as Anglophile, tot England was tolerant of harmless eccentrics)

“It would feel too much like school where teachers are always pretending to be angry or disappointed by naughty behaviours which they in reality think are quite funny.”

He says his art is inspired by his belief that people are encouraged to take life seriously “despite the fact that it’s absurd and tragic”.

“We are encouraged to act responsibly, we are encouraged to go off to work every day to, by and large, do something pointless in order to sustain a meagre existence, so that we can go to work again, and are released from this cycle when all joy and spirit has been squeezed from us,” he says.

“We are encouraged to get to our grave safely and responsibly, and if possible with an insurance policy to help with ‘those funeral expenses’. 

“We are encouraged to buy tat we don’t want with money we don’t have.

“What I do is not that.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-27884890

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/so-will-spf-prosecute-property-agents-and-money-lenders-for-mischief/

 

Traffic islands on river

8.1 sq miles country doesn’t need FTs to win gold medals

In Uncategorized on 27/07/2014 at 4:25 am

Population: 10,000. Has won 28 medals (10 gold) in Commonwealth Games since first competing in 1990. No FTs. All locals.

It’s a remote island in the South Pacific which measures only 8.1 square miles in area (less than an eighth the size of Glasgow, which is about to host the 20th edition of the Games) and has been covered in bird droppings for thousands of years.

A largely barren dot in the ocean, its 10,000 or so inhabitants are among the fattest on the planet. Diabetes is a major public health problem there.

Yet Nauru, the world’s smallest republic, has been by far and away the most successful sporting nation in the Commonwealth since they started competing at the Auckland Games in 1990.

They have won 28 medals since then, including 10 golds. All have come in weightlifting.

In a population-adjusted league table produced by BBC Sport, Nauru – which lies more than 2,000 miles (3,200km) north-east of Brisbane and financially relies heavily upon the mining of the phosphates formed by those seabirds – has been 45 times more successful than second-placed Samoa – 1,700 miles (2,700km) away to the south-east.

http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/commonwealth-games/28015180

 

Why we should follow Cambodian politics closely

In Political governance on 26/07/2014 at 6:22 am

Especially those TRE posters (loonies?) who shout that the Oppo will win the next GE*. They ever tot that if the PAP is as bad as what they claim is the case, the PAP won’t steal the election Cambodian style?

Last yr, in a closely fought election, the governing party (the PM says LKY is a hero of his) won a majority of seats in the parliament. The Oppo alleged fraud and refused to take their seats and called for fresh elections. The govt passed laws to its satisfaction in the absence of an oppo in parly.

Now a deal has been struck. The electoral commission is at the heart of the deal. The CPP-dominated National Election Committee—widely derided as a puppet of the government—is to be overhauled, which requires that the constitution be changed. The two major parties will now have four members on the committee, with a ninth independent member to be agreed on by both sides.

—–

The timing of the deal, so near the anniversary of the contested election, might not be a coincidence. Both sides were feeling the public pressure to reach an agreement. For the opposition, the question was how long they could keep operating as a political force with only rallies and public protests to bind them together, while laws were passed without them in the assembly. The government was faced with the prospect of having to keep defending that one-party parliament to the international community.

The violence the government employed to disperse protesters drew a steady stream of criticism throughout the year. Security forces beat and arrested demonstrators, and at least seven were shot dead.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/07/cambodian-politics

Just as S’poreans should be watching developments in Thailand,

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/freak-election-training-manual-for-safs-paper-generals-and-us-40-sporeans-too/

— https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/more-on-when-there-is-a-freak-election-result/

we should follow developments in Cambodia. There are lessons to be learner especially about the importance of the election organisers (here under PMO).

Interesting the Thais have introduced a law banning gatherings of five people or more. They learnt that from us?

*None of the Oppo parties believe this is possible. Ask SDP, NSP, People in light blue, SDA, JBJ Remebrance Party, Chiams, TJS Team and Pwee Gang.

ICT: To export, we import

In Economy, Uncategorized on 26/07/2014 at 5:02 am

What the charts show us that we import ICT stuff (5th in the world), add value then export them (4th).

Trade of ICT goods

Did you know Cat Lim qualified her “people no longer trust their government” comment?

In Humour, Political governance on 24/07/2014 at 5:26 pm

I’m sure you remember that Cat Lim in June repeated her broken record that the PAP is doomed (first said in the 1990s and repeated every few yrs), adding a variation that the PAP is no longer trusted by S’poreans. After a civil servant, in the course of his duties, pointedly pointed out out “Gee how come the govt keeps winning elections by huge majorities?”, she said on 16 June  “I would like to point out that the mistrust is very real, even if it only involves a minority.”

(From her blog … the South China Morning Post published my Open Letter to the PM, and subsequently, a response from the Consul-General of Singapore in Hong Kong, Mr Jacky Foo. The Straits Timesreported on Mr Foo’s letter on 14 June, and published my reply ​to this report on the Forum page on 16 June. My reply is reproduced below.)

Gee from the PAP are doomed because the people mistrust it, she now says “only … a minority” mistrust it. Artistic licence? Or BS?

And our objective, anti-PAP bloggers glossed over her qualification. heck they are getting as bad as SPH and MediaCorp journalists and editors. At least they have the excuse of needing to toe the line to pay-off their affordable public housing mortgages. And so cannot afford to have integrity.

Actually, Ms Lim should have waited before changing her mind. Tan Jee Say had this to say a few weeks ago on FB (after Cat’s reply): [ST] chose to cite only one major indicator of  the  2014 Edelman Trust Barometer , namely the survey result  that showed 75% of Singaporeans trust government  institutions; this, it claimed, proved that the vast majority trust the government.

 But a second key indicator gave a different  dimension, namely that only 26% of Singaporeans trust their government leaders to tell the truth  regardless  of how complex or unpopular it is. Does this 26% trust in leaders to tell the truth mean that 74% of Singaporeans cannot trust PAP government leaders to tell the truth or expect them to tell untruths or even lies? Now this is telling. If the statistics are true, it speaks volumes about the low level of trust  Singaporeans have in PAP leaders. It is definitely a crisis for the PAP however hard the PAP might want to deny, ignore or gloss over it …

One, and I’m one, can disagree with TJS’s contention, that only 26% trust the PAP (pls read the survey again TJS) but his is a valid reasonable, point of view. He also RI boy.

Finally on the issue of where the majority lies, here’s something for those of us who think that the fact that the PAP got 60% of the votes in GE 2011 and two ex-PAP men (and proud of the fact they were PAP men0  got between them 70% of the votes in PE 20111, showed that the PAP had the support of the majority of voters, to think about. We could be wrong in our reasoning:

something John Oliver recently satirised on his HBO comedy show, “Last Week Tonight”. A Brit, Mr Oliver was keen to highlight a uniquely American irony: while 65% of the country notices the income gap has widened, and 60% believe the system “unfairly favours the wealthy”, 60% nevertheless insist that “most people who work hard enough can make it”—a faith that echoes the buoyant message of the junior senator from Florida. 

Mr Oliver plays a little fast and loose with the math here: there’s no telling how much the two 60% blocs in the polls overlap. (It’s possible, for example, that up to two-thirds of the optimists about hard-working Americans do not believe the system favours the wealthy—remember your Venn diagrams.) And there is nothing necessarily illogical about thinking that while the economy favours those with lots of money, it also gives the lower orders a chance to improve their lot. 

(From an Economist blog)

 

Julius Caesar was wrong about these anti-PAP activists

In CPF, Humour, Political governance, Public Administration on 24/07/2014 at 4:19 am


When I saw the above photo in TOC, I couldn’t help think that  Juius Caesar was wrong when he said,
Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o’ nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
(Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar scene ii)
Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Dr James Gomez, Dr Paul Tambyah and Mr Goh Meng Seng don’t have a lean and hungry look.
And they certainly think too much. As to dangerous what do you think?
Only the presenter and a blogger (the two tiny ones in the centre) fit the description of “dangerous”.
GMS used to pretty trim, now his belly is as big as Garbra Gomez’s and KenJ’s. They not doing the rounds like NSP’s P Ravi? He lost a lot of weight by climbing stairs distributing NSP materials to HDB residents, getting a great workout in return. And all the WP MPs and NCMPs are trim. They do the rounds of their areas.
Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Dr James Gomez, Dr Paul Tambyah and Mr Goh Meng Seng  were taking part in “TOC Policy Exchange on CPF – rethinking the system”. Do watch it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmViCNPF_vc
And donate to TOC:
TOC’s Policy Exchange discussion on the CPF. We thank the various members on the panel who have contributed to the discussion. MOM and CPFB were invited to join us, but have declined.

Regrettably, we had to scale down to size of the event due to lack of funding. If you would like TOC to continue holding such discussions, please do help us with funding. To note, our forums are open to sponsorship.

Finally, do remember that Dr Paul Tambyah is an active SDP member and a professor at NUS. Gone are the days when people liked him accepted invitations to join the PAP without thinking. Or when dabbling in Oppo politics was a no-no for NUS academics. They could be investigated and sacked.

S’pore is changing despite the PAP’s hegemony.

“There are many ways of being smart”

In Public Administration on 23/07/2014 at 4:22 am

If any principal or teacher dares tell their pupils, “There are many ways of being smart”, then I’m confident of S’pore’s future, even if the PAP maintains its hegemony.

A letter sent to pupils at a Lancashire primary school along with their key stage two test results has gone viral on social media sites.

The letter to pupils at Barrowford Primary School in Nelson told them the tests do not always assess what makes them “special and unique”.

The letter reads:

Please find enclosed your end of KS2 test results. We are very proud of you as you demonstrated huge amounts of commitment and tried your very best during this tricky week.

However, we are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you… the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do.

They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture.

They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day. They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school.

They do not know that you have travelled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends.

They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best… the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.

So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember .

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lancashire-28319907

Somehow I doubt if any principal would send this letter, or any teacher  even think about thinking about “there are many ways of being smart”, even though the education minister talks the talk of holistic education. The principals and teachers would fear being sacked or “marked”.

Easier for pigs to fly or Maruah and other middle class kay pohs to call for the release of Dan Tan from detention without trial.

Even in the UK, the principal had to deny that the letter was telling pupils that test scores did not matter.

“We never give pupils the message that academic attainment isn’t important – what we do is celebrate that we send really independent, confident, articulate learners on to the next stage of their school career.”

BTW, the school is a good school. The exam results of its pupils are good.

Johor: New plans to fleece Sinkies

In Malaysia on 22/07/2014 at 4:32 am

Wonder why land is being reclaimed in the Johor Straits? S’poreans it seems love waterfront properties. So waterfront  properties are being created. And this is adding to the supply of land in Iskandar, where there are already problems for S’poreans what with Johor and Federal taxes and restrictions.

The fixation over waterfront properties in the Iskandar region, which has led to frenetic land reclamation, is threatening to undermine the prospects of the growth corridor launched in Johor eight years ago.

Iskandar Malaysia’s value proposition – polished further by its proximity to Singapore – remains intact, but may not do so if development there is left unchecked.

At 2,217 square kilometres, Johor state’s southern development corridor is thrice the size of Singapore; in sports parlance, that is about the size of 400,000 football fields. (BT report last week).

Meanwhile the development caravan keeps on moving: now to Batu Pahat. Property being built to attract S’poreans further North.

Reminds me of what the bandit chief  in the movie Manificent 7 said, “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.” He was talking of the farmers he was stealing from at regular intervals: he was harvesting them at regular intervals..

He could be referring to S’poreans who keep on getting fleeced in Johor.

Me, I’d rent there, if I wanted to live in a bungalow, and rent my property here.

Want a Pekatan here? It’s disunited

In Political governance on 21/07/2014 at 4:58 am

(Since I had posts on Sat and Sunday giving little known details on the MAS tragedy (herehere, here and here, largely extracts from BBC reports), I tot I’d continue the M’sian theme, today and tom.)

There has been a lot of noise that S’porean Oppo parties should unite (actually the term should be “confederate”) like M’sia’s DAP, PAS and TeamAnwar under the Pakatan banner*.

Those calling for this kind of alliance should have their heads examined by the doctor treating M Ravi for bi-polarism. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/understanding-m-ravis-bi-polar-disorder/ (related article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25747068)

Confederating the SDP and WP is like the DAP and PAS fighting under one umbrella, a recipe for disunity in unity.

Rowing over chopping of limbs and stoning

The PAS several months ago wanted to introduce a law in Kelantan (their state) introducing Hudud, or Islamic penal practices. Hudud prescribes punishments such as amputation of limbs for theft and stoning for adultery..

The DAP, a secular and liberal (even though it was founded as the PAP’s M’sian Trojan Horse), was more than upset

Lim Kit Siang (the DAP’s LKY) has repeatedly said that that Pakatan could split over the issue**.

The PAS has postponed the tabling of a private member’s Bill in Parliament, which would have paved the way for the implementation of hudud, the Islamic penal code, in the north-eastern state of Kelantan.The postponement was to give sufficient time to a technical committee — proposed by the govt and involving both the federal and state governments — to examine how best to enforce hudud in PAS-governed Kelantan.

Many in the DAP are sore because they claim that the May by-election in Teluk Intan was lost because of non-Muslim worries over the hudud.

WP, SDP are poles apart

In S’pore while the SDP, NSP, the Chiams and WP are multi-racial (Yes, yes I know some Indians dispute that the WP is multi-racial, they want it to be run by Indians like it once was when it had candidates who looney and bicyle thieves) and secular parties, there are big differences. The WP portrays itself as a more compassionate, moderate version of the PAP, while the SDP positions itself as what in the West would be called a Social Democrat party with leftist tendencies. The Chiams and NSP are in between. The other parties are a joke esp the JBJ Remembrance Party, and the two parties led by scholars who didn’t make it into the PAP. The two scholars and s/o JBJ only became politicians when it was safe to do so.

Furthermore, the WP has made it clear that it is not in a position to be the govt, and has no interest in being part of an alternative coalition. The NSP has indicated that it is not ready to be the govt, while leaving the possibility of being in a coalition unsaid. The Chiams are happy to be part of a alt coalition govt. The SDP thinks it can form the govt but knows that it would never win enough votes to get a majority. And anyway, we know Dr Chee can go whacko, if his RI doctors are not vigilant.

How the WP and SDP can confederate under one party is beyond me.

Chop system works

We actually have quite a gd system here of opposing the PAP. Problem is that only 25-30% support the Oppo parties. And 70% of voters are comfortable with two ex-PAP stalwarts to give them their votes in PE 2011. And the ex-PAP member who dissed the PAP lost his deposit.

As I see it, leg lifting to mark territory or, to use more polite language, the system whereby the party that contests in a previous election (once upon a time, as recent as 2006, there were uncontested GRCs) is not challenged is working pretty well and serving S’poreans’ interests given the 60-70% support that the PAP has.

The system is not perfect and the WP interprets it on the basis of “might is right”. But hey it’sw the only oppo party that kept on going thru the 90s and noughties.

1963 revisited?

The danger in the next GE is that Team TJS (Singaporeans First), JBJ Remembrance Party, and Pwee Gang ( Democratic Progressive Party, DPP). will stand as third party candidates in areas where the Chiams, NSP, WP or SDP have a decent chance of winning. This is something I’m sure the PAP is expecting to happen, and will do its best to make sure happens.

S’pore has been here before. Here’s an extract of a letter to a British magazine written after the 1963 elections

We [Barisan Socialists] won thirteen seats at the elections, averaging 15.000 votes to each seat. The PAP won thirty- seven seats, averaging 7,000 votes to each seat. The United People’s Party, whose function was to split the left-wing votes, campaigned on a programme that was somewhat similar to ours but more extremely put. Only their leader, Mr. Ong Eng Guan, was elected. We received 201,000 votes (35 per cent) and the PAP 272,000 votes (47 per cent). The difference is only 70,000 votes out of a total electorate of nearly 500,000. The UPP took away 49,000 votes (8 per cent), causing us the loss of seven con- stituencies (apart from Mr. Ong’s), and saved four PAP Ministers from defeat.

http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/29th-november-1963/23/the-situation-in-singapore

So for those who want an end to the PAP’s hegemony in parly (self included), let us make it clear to the three stooges, TJS, Pwee and s/o JBJ, and the SDA: “Don’t fight in any constituency where the SDP, WP, Chiams, NSP fielded candidates in the last GE”. Pwee and YJS go play in KenJ’s or SDA’s playpens. They don’t respect the “chop” rules and have lost deposits as a result.

And tell Tan Kim Lian and Goh Meng Seng not to contest. If not for their clowning antics, we could have had Dr Tan Cheng Bock as president.

—-

*Example: http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/07/01/a-disunited-opposition-cannot-form-an-effective-govt/

We all feel buoyant and almost confident that the next GE will see a change in Government. Either PAP will be decimated, become the opposition party or lose its two third majority in parliament.

But lets not jump the gun just yet. There is a lot of ground work that needs to be done. Especially with the present group of opposition parties.

The present situation does not look too good. We have too many Opposition Parties such as WP, SDP, RP, NSP, PKMS, SP and etc. When PAP flatters in the next GE, we the citizens of Singapore want to be assured that our lives will go on as usual with some minor hiccups initially, but will normalise and in the coming months and years improve with the new Government. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL SINGAPOREANS MUST BE SURE OF.

We do not want an Egypt or Iraq. We will be put off if we cannot see this clearly insight before we start to vote for better future without PAP’s overbearing control of our lives. When the opposition takes over the government and when there are too many Political Parties forming the government, this government will be weak. A coalition of such parties will be easily attacked and made weak, especially by the PAP who may be the opposition in Parliament. It will be easy for them to play the various parties against each other.

This will surely cause the coalition government to be very weak. A weak government cannot be an effective government to bring Singapore and its citizens forward to a better future.

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT ALL PRESENT OPPOSTION PARTIES WORK AS HARD AS POSSIBLE TO FORM A UNITED DEMOCRATIC FRONT. A COALITION OF PARTIES TO FORM A SINGLE FRONT GOING INTO THE NEXT GE AND IN FORMING A GOVERNMENT.

This is much like the Barisan Nasional (National Front) and the Pakatan Rakyaat (People’s Coalition) of Malaysia. Both of them went into the GE as single parties.

We need a SINGLE PARTY to oppose PAP in the next GE. We need a two (main) party systems to ensure continued stability going forward after each election. Strong examples of these are the mature democracies of USA, UK, Australia, and most European countries.

WP, SDP, RP, SP, PKMS and the rest MUST THINK DEEP AND HARD FOR THE SAKE OF SINGAPORE AND ALL SINGAPOREANS to work hard on this. PLEASE WE HAVE PLACED OUR TRUST, HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS ON YOU LTK, CSJ, KJ, and the gang we truly trust are fighting for the welfare of all Singaporeans and Singapore as one UNITED NATION.

Singaporean For Democracy

Submitted by TRE reader.

**At a party dinner a few weeks ago in Malacca, Democratic Lim Kit Siang warned that PR could break up if the parties’ disagreement over the hudud issue persists. Mr Lim said if the three parties did not remain united, PR would go the way of the Barisan Alternative, a short-lived alliance between PAS, PKR, DAP and Parti Rakyat Malaysia formed in 1999. The coalition was disbanded after the 2004 general election.

“In the past year since the 13th general election, supporters of Pakatan Rakyat have been increasingly concerned whether Pakatan Rakyat … could only survive for one general election,” said Mr Lim.

MAS tragedy: SIA attacked by anti-PAP cyber warriors?

In Airlines, Malaysia on 20/07/2014 at 4:27 am

Really I can’t see why SIA was attacked for saying on Facebook and Twitter that its flights were not using Ukraine airspace.

Reuters reported: That triggered a flood of angry responses, with many lambasting SIA for not offering condolences to the victims’ families and for mounting what some perceived as a publicity stunt during a crisis involving its neighboring country’s flagship airline.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/19/us-ukraine-crisis-singapore-air-idUSKBN0FO0UF20140719

Anyway SIA did the pragmatic thing by apologising and rewording its messages. No pointing rowing with loonies, something PM Lee should learn. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/how-pm-roy-can-resolve-matters-satisfactorily-roysw-defence-work-in-progress/

 

SIA plane juz 17km away

In Airlines, Malaysia on 19/07/2014 at 6:46 pm

The Daily Mail reports that, despite the conflict, the flight path was fairly crowded with a Heathrow-bound Virgin Atlantic jet and a Singapore Airlines plane both over Ukraine at the moment flight MH17 crashed.

The paper says the Singapore jet was just 17 miles away from the doomed flight.

One of the as-yet unknown questions, is why flight MH17 came to be flying over a conflict zone in which a number of aircraft had been shot down recently, the Daily Telegraph says.

MAS polot didn’t want to divert

The paper reports that a number of airlines, including British Airways, easyJet and Qantas had already changed flight routes to avoid the area, although Malaysia Airlines said there had been “no obvious reasons” to avoid the area.

Nonetheless, the paper says, flight path analysis suggested that other Malaysia planes had skirted the conflict zone, by flying south of the area.

The Telegraph says an expert from the Royal United Services Institute has learned the pilot of the downed flight decided not to change course after apparently telling air traffic controllers he “felt uncomfortable” over the diversion.

Extract from BBC

 

Why MAS really suay cont’d

In Airlines, Malaysia on 19/07/2014 at 2:32 pm

According to Flight radar24, which monitors live flight paths, the airlines that most frequently flew over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine in the last week were: Aeroflot 86 (flights), Singapore Airlines 75, Ukraine International Airlines 62, Lufthansa 56, and Malaysian 48. It was not necessarily a risky approach. The chance of a rocket reaching above 32,000 feet was considered remote, says Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, author of Why Planes Crash.(Part of BBC report: see pix of flight routrs taken http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-28364306 )

SIA flew 56% more flights thru Eastern Ukraine than MAS, yet it was a MAS jet that waz shot down .

SIA employs better bomohs?

 

MAS pilot slightly off planned course

In Airlines, Malaysia on 19/07/2014 at 6:33 am

“But although the aircraft was reportedly a few hundred miles north of its planned course to avoid a thunderstorm, its altitude should have marked it as a passenger plane,” reported an Economist blog.

Not seen this in any other report.[Update on 20th July at 10.15 am http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/19/mh17-changing-course-storms-pilot?guni=Keyword:news-grid%20main-1%20Main%20trailblock:Editable%20trailblock%20-%20news:Position1:sublinks ]

MAS is suay. Time for Najib to call in the bomohs to “buang suay”.
The two events that hit it and its passengers these yrs were really freak events.
Whatever it is fly SIA. Only TRE born losers will refuse to fly SIA. Die-die fly other airlines, even if die as a result.

 

Why Alibaba bot into SingPost and why S’pore will be big e-commerce hub

In Internet on 19/07/2014 at 4:16 am

Asean’s has huge e-commerce potential. Seems contrary to the usual data cited, Asean has internet penetration of 32%, not the accepted wisdom of 10%. Smartphones have multiplied as has their use to access the internet.

http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2014/07/08/asean-nears-its-ecommerce-moment-report/ (Free but need to register)

 

 

 

Earlier this yr, China’s Alibaba Group has signed an agreement to invest S$312.5 million (US$248.88 million) for a 10.35 percent stake* in Singapore’s postal service, SingPost. 

The funds injection will see Alibaba-subsidiary, Alibaba Investment, acquire 30 million existing ordinary shares and 190.096 new ordinary shares, said SingPost in a statement. The two companies signed an agreement that would also allow them to assess the possibility of setting up a new joint venture related to global e-commerce logistics.

—-

*Alibaba bot roughly 190 million new Singapore Post shares and 30 million existing treasury shares for S$1.42 apiece, an 8.4% discount to SingPost’s closing share price of S$1.55. Stock cheonged to the 1.75 level where it remains.

What connects “Free My CPF”, PM’s suit & NLB, LGBT row?

In Humour, Public Administration on 18/07/2014 at 4:36 am

The ideas behind this TRE post had crossed my mind: that the NLB row was manufactured by the govmin to detract the sheep S’poreans from more impt issues. In other words, it was a cunning PAP plot that the anti-PAP cyber warriors fell for:

One uncle pointed out that there is a hideous hidden agenda which was ordered down from the top to divert the focus of citizenry from CPF issue which Roy seemed to garner a lot of sympathy from both Singaporeans and foreigners in that it is a rather despicable joke that a PM in a democratic country sued a citizen over defamation just because he used the available information to arrive at his conclusion and that even the 71 year old vandalised and jailed by the court got sympathy over his frustration of the Govt is not returning his hard earned CPF.

He continued to say that many horse f**t devils in many ministries were thinking hard what to create. NLB came up with the idea of destroying children books that are tainted with favouring a gay issue based on the gay problem which recently showed a majority of Singaporeans are rather uncomfortable with. NLB was right. It took the heat from CPF. NLB could continued to grip the attention of the citizenry on the gay and other even if it is distantly related to the social taboo.

http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/07/16/nlb-saga-agenda-to-divert-focus-away-from-cpf-issue/

If true, Yaacob and NLB’s CEO are not blundering fools: they are gd black ops’ operatives..

Seriously, a look at SgDaily since the NLB story broke will show that the NLB action has dominated this cowboy town. Not only are the usual suspects (LGBT activists, anti-PAP cyber warriors, though Goh Meng Seng and Gilbert Goh, are quiet), but “moderate” apolitical bloggers are not happy with NLB.

On Facebook too, there is a lot of unhappiness with NLB’s decisions.

Heck even a PAP MP expressed reservations on FB, as ST reports:

Member of Parliament Hri Kumar Nair became the first member of the ruling party to speak out against the National Library Board’s (NLB) decision to pulp three children’s books for their homosexual content.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, Mr Nair (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) said he did not think that “destroying books is akin to censorship, and that all censorship is bad”, but said that “the real question is whether homosexuality falls in that category which should be excluded”.

“I do not believe homosexuality falls in the category of issues which should be excluded,” he wrote. “In fact, neither does the NLB. It says it carries such books in the Adult section….Excluding such books, or worse, destroying them, sends an altogether different and confusing message about the role of the NLB.”

He proposed a solution of placing the books in a separate section, “which children can only access with an adult present – much like a ‘PG’ movie”.

Makes gd sense.

Member of Parliament Hri Kumar Nair became the first member of the ruling party to speak out against the National Library Board’s (NLB) decision to pulp three children’s books for their homosexual content.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, Mr Nair (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) said he did not think that “destroying books is akin to censorship, and that all censorship is bad”, but said that “the real question is whether homosexuality falls in that category which should be excluded”.

“I do not believe homosexuality falls in the category of issues which should be excluded,” he wrote. “In fact, neither does the NLB. It says it carries such books in the Adult section….Excluding such books, or worse, destroying them, sends an altogether different and confusing message about the role of the NLB.”

He proposed a solution of placing the books in a separate section, “which children can only access with an adult present – much like a ‘PG’ movie”.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/hri-kumar-childrens-books-homosexual-content-should-be-r#sthash.ROPlS5cL.qF590F01.dpuf

Coming back to the conspiracy theory, even if there isn’t a PAP plot, the PAP is surely be happy that the LGBT and ang moh tua kee* activists are helping the PAP alat the CPF and bullying issues. I’m sure the cheques for thirty pieces of silver and invitations to an Istana function are in the post.

But I’ll end with two Voices that puts to shame not only the anti-LGBT gang and the book banners but the LGBT gang and friends. The views of the former are to be expected, but I had expected more from people who call themselves “liberal” and “tolerant”. Based on their comments on blogs and FB, too much of their tots are of the “If you are not with us, you are against us” George Bush, Taliban, Isis variety.

Tolerating a lifestyle doesn’t mean agreeing with it

From
Yong Kai Chang
Published: 4:04 AM, July 17, 2014
I disagree with the writer’s views in the letter “Many parents happy with NLB decision” (July 15). We each have the right to educate our children in our preferred manner in the privacy of our respective spaces.

I believe in not sheltering my children but raising them as well-informed young adults familiar with the practical social realities of our complex world. Others believe their children are impressionable and must be protected from practices they deem deviant.

It is fine to disagree because I have no more right to decide how other children should be educated than other parents have to decide for mine.

If, however, we allow our children to step out of our respective spaces and interact with others in this shared space called society, we must accept that they will have to face and deal with views that differ from ours.

Accordingly, in this public space, no single group has the right to dictate what material should be made unavailable for our children’s collective education in our national library, which is funded with our money.

If any of us are uncomfortable with this, we can mutually agree on separate guidelines for, say, supervised or restricted access to items deemed sensitive. We do not get to ban or destroy one another’s books in this common space.

To tolerate is to disagree but to allow. For example, one may disagree with my definition of family but one allows the book And Tango Makes Three to be in our library.

I may disagree with the Bible, but I would allow a Noah’s Ark children’s book in our library. I would be just as upset if the latter were removed.

One need not support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement to allow an LGBT-themed book in our library; one need only tolerate it.

[Emphasis mine]

I am puzzled as to whether the writer, by supporting a ban on an LGBT-themed book in our library, understands truly what tolerance means.

An earlier Voice (before the NLB story broke) Png Eng Keat on 23 June pointed out

Don’t conflate disapproval with discrimination

I refer to the letter “Morality should be shaped by all in Singapore” (June 21).

Firstly, as a Protestant, I am heartened to know that the Humanist Society (Singapore) (HSS) shares some of the same emphases as my religion: Reason and compassion. Without reason and compassion, there can be no common dialogue in a civilised society.

However, I take issue with how the writers conflate the two distinct ideas of disapproval and discrimination. Deeming another’s act unacceptable need not involve any discrimination, nor would it necessarily lead to any discrimination.

People can disapprove of acts such as sex between adults of the same sex, and sex with someone other than their marriage partner (“Religious identity stronger in Muslims, Protestants”, June 18), but that does not preclude them from “loving thy neighbour”.

Like the writers, I believe that no one group in society should have the sole right to shape morality since we live in a pluralistic secular society.

Everyone should be allowed to converse at the table with love and reason. The danger is when any one group tries to hijack the discussion, assert its superiority and push the rest out of the ship.

This has happened in the West with militant secularism squeezing religion out of the public sphere. May this never happen here in Singapore.

Admittedly, disapproval often crosses over to discrimination, but it needn’t and the distinction should be borne in mind. The failure of the LGBTs and friends to recognise this distinction is the thing that annoys me most about them.

—-

*Strangely, FT lovers wannabe NMP for FTs, Kirsten Han and Maruah are silent. They like GMS and GG all got sore throats? Bit unfair on GG and GMS. They most probably realise that the NLB actions are meant to distract S’poreans from matters that matter.

Want slower GDP growth? Ok if property prices fall more than 20%?

In Economy, Property on 17/07/2014 at 4:56 am

When TRE republished this, Chris K* commented:
In short there is as much risks in an economy growing too fast as in growing too slow. The authorities had to be counter-cyclical i.e. push in the opposite direction to lessen the risks. In Singapore, the govt is cheering on the economy on, adding fuel to the fire. Stratospheric property prices, elevated cost of living, growing disparity in incomes are the result. They are irresponsible and unfit to run the economy*.

Because of its housing policies (keep on raising the prices of affordable public housing ’cause not to do so would be raiding reserves), a property crash (not juz the expected 20% fall)will result in a gloomy 50th yr anniversary next yr and the possibility*** of a freak election result. All the govt’s attempts to spend more of our money on ourselves in the hope of shoring up the vote for the PAP will go to nought.

As it is, the 20% fall is among other things based on GDP growth this yr of around 3.5%. If this turns out to be too optimistic (remember analyss have been busily revising downwards their above 4% growth), maybe property prices could fall 40%? A crash.

Those who want a slowing economy, esp those TRE posters who want a property crash should think of the hard working S’porean home owners (many of who whom are their friends and relatives), mortgaged to their eyeballs for basic shelter, not speculators (whose ranks are alleged to include millionaire ministers who have plenty of spare cash) that will be affected by a crash. Why should anyone be happy or gloat that others will suffer if property prices crash, unless the gloaters are lifer’s born losers.

(Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/why-banks-tested-for-50-plunge-in-property-prices-and-other-wonderful-tales/)

And engineering slowdowns can be tricky. Ask the Swedes. They tried and now face deflation http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21606895-interest-rates-are-back-crisis-lows-sub-zero-conditions.

Let me be clear, I speak as a retiree who stands to benefit if the economy crashes: prices come down and I can eat gourmet meals every day. So I’m not talking my book in understanding the dilemma that the govt faces, even if it is responsible for the mess we are in.

But don’t worry. All the PAP govt needs to do is to allow borrowers to borrow more: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/property-prices-valuations-are-irrelevant-its-all-about-credit/

All those TRE born losers will be left leaving frus and banging balls again.

*He knows his financial stuff esp risk mgt. He had better. He works as a risk mgr  in a nearby financial centre that is bigger than ours.

**His preceding comments: The comparison to the UK right at this moment bears watching. 1 year ago John Carney took over at the head of the Bank of England. He said at the time that interest rates will stay very low for a long time to come. Then the economy began to pick up steam and is now at around 2.9%, strong by European standards and close to the top of its long term growth potential. Last month John Carney has signalled to the markets that the central bank will be moving up its time frame to raise interest rates and head off risks. What are those risks? Strong growth raising the inflation rate. House prices shooting up causing instability. At the same time, the new financial stability committee is called to look into measures to mitigate these risks.

***Only possibility ’cause of GRC system. Anyway WP will support PAP if PAP doesn’t get majority. Low has said as much. PritamS wants it.

What no lecture, teaching moment from PM?

In Humour on 16/07/2014 at 4:55 am

Congrats Germany on winning the World Cup! Argentina fought hard, but Götze’s beautiful goal was the difference. – LHL

Err thaz all from PM? And I’m glad. I’m not complaining.

I’m one of those who cringe at the memory of leaders past who used to try to use contemporaneous events to show that the PAP does things better or to disparage or lecture S’poreans. One GCT was the expert.

I couldn’t stand his attempt to use a tragedy in Japan (the tsunami in 2011)  to lecture us. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/learn-from-japanese-set-example-leh-elites/

So I was pleasantly surprised at PM’s Facebook message: short and sweet and accurate: that goal was sublime, as was the run and cross that preceded it.

PM could have pointed out that the German win showed that when the 6th best paid mgr (think PM and his cabinet) meets the 22nd best paid mgr, the 6th wins. Argie is only paid 23% (albeit a six figure sum) of that of the German mgr’s millions.

But then maybe a certain PAP MP eye doctor will raise the issue? After all he is clear in his mind that money is the measure of a person.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/why-smc-should-act-against-pap-mp/

BTW, I juz saw on FB, Goh Meng Seng’s comments on the video of his performance at “Resign PM” event.

Don’t like that leh: don’t see PM no ak

The 28th Sun Valley Conference was held in Idaho from 8 to 10 July 2010. Attendees included Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation, Tim Cook of Apple, Jeffrey Bewkes of Time Warner and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo. Technology company executives are also expected to make a strong showing. On the invite list are Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Intel’s Brian Krzanich, eBay’s John Donahoe and Martin Lau, the president of Tencent, a behemoth of the Chinese Internet industry. Jack Ma, the co-founder of the Chinese Internet giant Alibaba Group, is on the invitee list …

A few yrs back Lee Hsien Loong was a guest at this event.

Ang moh tua kees respect him, even if GMS doesn’t. But then GMS has strange tastes. He was adviser to to TKL who lost his deposit in PE2011. Rumour is that the dynamic duo is planning to form “The People’s Voice” to contest the next GE. OK, OK I made the rumour up.

 

 

Sentosa Cove: His god deserts Kong Hee?

In Property on 15/07/2014 at 4:21 am

“We believe in you for better jobs, raises and bonuses, finding money, money finding us, incomes, royalties, real estates, dividends, inheritances…We pray to Jesus and there shall be a turnaround,” sums up the essence of the prosperity gospel*.

I was reminded of the above when it was reported yesterday that the trial of Kong Hee and friends was resuming.

Well his god seems to have left him to swing in the wind when it comes to property investing. Reminder: he owns a Senosa penthouse. A benefactor of Kong Hee’s church, an Indonesian tycoon, Wahju said in court a few months ago, that  he and Kong have been paying $17,000 a month each for a penthouse at Ocean Drive since 2008.  The tycoon had tot it would make a gd investment.
The penthose remains underwater, not literallo, of course. I was reminded of the penthouse by a BT report of a few weeks ago, that I juz read on Sunday.

ABOUT two in five Sentosa condominium units have resold at a loss in the past year, symptomatic of the plight of luxury homes here, as financing restrictions put off buyers, industry watchers say.

Since May last year, 31 units have changed hands at six Sentosa projects: Marina Collection, Seascape, The Azure, The Berth, The Coast and The Oceanfront, according to data compiled by STProperty.sg from URA Realis.

The profitability findings is in line with data gathered by HSR Research which shows resale prices at the plush Sentosa district falling 25 per cent to about $1,800 psf in the first five months of this year, compared to around $2,400 psf over the Jan-May 2013 period**.

Maybe his god thinks giving him Sun Ho and her filthy rich parents (they are paying his legal fees) is enough prosperity for one man? But he was too greedy and incurred the wrath of god? Hubris?

Or maybe he is a S’porean Job. The Lord’s praise of Job prompted Satan to challenge Job’s integrity, suggesting that Job served God simply because God protected him. God removed Job’s protection, allowing Satan to take his wealth, his children, and his physical health (but not his life) in order to test Job’s character. (Wikipedia)

And all will be well. God rewards Job’s obedience during his travails and restores his health and doubles his original riches.

Let’s see.

——————

*Another continent, another country (poorer). But the same rationale and motivation for donating generously

The service is for thanksgiving, which coincides with the first Sunday after payday. In what sounds like an economic report, the congregation is told to not worry about the first, second and third quarter of the year and that in the fourth quarter, there is still a chance to be blessed financially and materially. Congregants give testimonials describing long ambitions to land a job within government, to acquire a bigger house or a car and detailing how after fasting, praying, giving to the church, they are at last reaping the rewards. A leather-lined bin lands at Baobab’s feet. Give what you can, and you will be blessed …

… In Nigeria, where decades of governments have stolen hundreds of billions of dollars of oil money but most people live on less than $2 a day, many turn to religion, believing that only God can protect them and pull them out of poverty.

Note “poverty” is relative.

**Of the 31 transactions in the past year, profitability analysis could not be done for seven because caveats, which include information on purchase prices, were not lodged for the units. Profitability is calculated by subtracting purchase prices from selling prices. Of the remaining 24 transactions, 10 resold at a loss.

Among the loss-making transactions, four were units at The Berth, the debut project at the Cove which was launched in 2004 and completed in 2006. Three units made losses at The Oceanfront, two at the Coast, and one at the Azure.

Two in particular made seven-digit losses. A 2,982 sq ft unit at The Oceanfront sold for $5.65 million ($1,895 psf) in November last year, after it was purchased in April 2008 for $7.2 million ($2,415 psf) – a $1.55 million loss.

Another 2,820 sq ft unit at The Coast sold for $4.8 million ($1,702 psf) in January this year, two years after it was purchased at $6 million ($2,128 psf). This was a $1.2 million loss.

SLP International executive director … suggests that this could be due to owners struggling to find tenants for their units amid the weak leasing market. Some may also not be able to secure high enough rental rates to service their loans. (Most Sentosa homes are bought not for own occupation, but as investment.) “So they may find it a better option to just liquidate,” he said, adding that the location is also not the most convenient for expats to commute to the mainland for work.

Another industry watcher added that buyers who bought units at $2,100 psf and above appear to have “overpaid”. Those who profited from their resale deals mostly bought in at lower psf prices; a handful even got their units at $800, $900-plus psf back in 2006.

Meanwhile, several Sentosa Cove units are also up for sale at auction houses here. A 2,777-sq-ft unit at Turquoise condo, put up for sale by a lender at a Colliers’ auction this week, yielded no bids, despite having reduced its opening price to $4 million from its previous $5 million.

Two Sentosa homes are up for auction by DTZ, both by lenders, one at Turquoise and another at Marina Collection. Another four are for sale by private treaty (akin to private negotiations) by JLL – two at Turquoise and two at Marina Collection.

Typically, banks repossess homes and put them up for auction as part of a repayment structure when delinquent mortgagors (borrowers) are unable to find buyers and dispose of their properties themselves.

JLL’s head of auction … aid: “The owners of the two Turquoise units bought them at $7 million each, which is quite difficult to match in the current market.

“Auctioning is a good method to garner all interested parties in a room to competitively bid. Potentially, the owner can also expect to get the optimum price because it’s a competitive method of sale.”

Meanwhile, some Sentosa condos such as Cape Royale and The Residences at W have made strategic decisions to lease out their unlaunched units instead, given current soft condo prices on the Cove.

Roaring sales in the waterfront enclave back in 2006-2008 were hit by the financial crisis and had hardly recovered when the private housing market succumbed to successive rounds of cooling measures from 2009 … “For property prices anywhere, what goes up will also come down.”

Medishield: Totful tots on loss ratio to determine premiums

In Financial competency on 14/07/2014 at 5:26 am

With regards to the use of  incurred loss ratio to determine the level of premiums, I don’t like it for a few reasons:

  • A lot of premiums is collected upfront and Medishield ends up having a lot of money to invest, which might not be its core expertise.
  • It is not easy to determine future liabilities and brings another uncertainty to the calculation of the loss ratio.
  • With Medishield Life going to be a compulsory scheme, there is even less of a need to collect too much surplus as it is possible to adjust the premiums accordingly whenever overall claims go on a sustained uptrend. As a nationwide scheme, the pool is also huge and total claims will be less volatile and predictable.
  • Private health insurance that has a smaller pool will have claims that are more volatile and cannot easily raise their premiums without the risk of their customers leaving and making their pool even smaller.

http://www.martinlee.sg/medishield-reserves-loss-ratio/

From an honest financial planner. Feel safe to buy second-hand car from him. Smart guy too. Given that he has a masters in engr from NUS, I once asked him why was he wasting his time selling insurance. Never got a gd reply.

Check out his other articles explaining Medishield. Under insurance, healthcare.

Double confirm, PAP supporting Germany/ PAP MPs are B’Stard?

In Humour on 13/07/2014 at 4:54 am

On Monday, I said that the PAP would be cheering on any other term except the Argies because their mgr is only the 22nd best paid mgr out of the 32 teams. And we know what a PAP eye doctor MP thinks of people who are not as well paid as he is: he doesn’t respect them.

Well go read yr Sat ST front page and see what it says: PAP is predicting and rooting a German win.

So let’s cheer on the Argies. Their mgr is only paid 23% of that of the German mgr’s salary (6th in the rankings).

And if the Argies win an unlikely victory, remind the PAP at every possible opportunity that being well-paid doesn’t mean gd performance. The Russians, English and Italians crashed out in the first round despite paying the highest salaries. BTW Brazil’s mgr is the 4th best paid but he got form as a World Cup winner.

As the footie. Expect a boring game. The Germans’ thrashing of Brazil notwithstanding, the rest of Germany’s matches have been tight, quiet affairs, and Argentina survived the knockout stage by winning 1-0, 1-0, and 0-0 on penalties.

Now onto PAP MPs.

Rik Mayall died suddenly a few months back of a heart attack. He was the most original and funniest of the alternative comedians who emerged in the early 1980s and still dominate British television. They were maverick, furious and stridently political, though sometimes wonderfully imprecise in their aim. (Economist).

He played a character called B’Stard, in the uproarious political satire The New Statesman and the following lines should amuse S’poreans, esp the PM, because one can imagine a PAP MP (Lily Neo, Halimah, Denise Phua, Puthu* excepted) talking like B’Stard. Think the eye doctors and Kate Spade (remember her YPAP speech that the poor must only be helped minimally)

Alan B’Stard: We hear an awful lot of leftie whingeing about NHS [UK’s publicly funded heathcare system] waiting lists. Well the answer’s simple. Shut down the health service. Result? No more waiting lists. You see, in the good old days, you were poor, you got ill and you died. And yet these days people seem to think they’ve got some sort of God-given right to be cured. And what is the result of this sloppy socialist thinking? More poor people. In contrast, my policies would eradicate poor people, thereby eliminating poverty. And they say that we … have no heart.

Alan B’Stard: I suppose life’s just too easy for me. I mean, I’m incredibly rich, I’ve got the largest majority on the House of Commons and, if I was any better looking, I think people would suspect I was an android.

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-27772259

*The male PAP MPs who are medical doctors are shown up by this FT male Doc. Maybe taz why the PAP inducted him? It wanted a male Dr who could show compassion. Too bad he didn’t do NS and sneered at NSmen. But if AWARE can sneer at NSmen with impunity (their FT partners will defend them), let’s forgive Puthu. That he didn’rt do NS isn’t his fault, PAP kicked (sort of) dad out.

 

US broker bearish on Indon, bullish on S’pore

In Indonesia on 12/07/2014 at 5:20 am

In its latest ASEAN equity strategy report (written before the presidential polling date ), Morgan Stanley said that it prefers Singapore over Indonesia, global cyclicals over domestic consumption stocks, and defensives over domestic cyclicals. But on its buy list is a stock that is based in Indonesia.

Actually there is another reason to be bearish about Indonesia, short term. We may not know the result until August and a close vote may hobble the “doer” if he wins, as expected.

Back to Morgan Stanley’s report. It argues that based on profitability trends that Singapore and global cyclicals stocks’ profitability has likely bottomed out, while Indonesia and domestic consumption stocks’ profitability has likely peaked. “We believe the trend in quarterly profitability, particularly in Indonesia and Singapore, is likely to be the key incremental catalyst over the next 1-2 months. Signs of cracks in margins have emerged in Indonesia and early signs of improvement in Singapore’s profitability were observed in Q1. Consensus expects profitability to deteriorate in Indonesia and stabilize in Singapore in Q2.”

Although they said that macro developments will continue to play an important role in driving equity markets, the authors believe that incrementally, investors are likely to turn their attention to the outlook for profitability.

Consensus is expecting improvement in Singapore’s profitability in 2015 and 2016, but Morgan Stanley is more optimistic. It expects (for the stocks they cover) expect a Singapore margin (ex REITs) of 7.5% 2014, compared to consensus’ 6.9%.

Similarly for the Morgan Stanley coverage universe, the analysts estimate 7.6% for 2015, compared to the consensus estimate of 7%.

SingTel, Singapore Airlines and Indofood Agri Resources are among the stocks on its buy list.

For SingTel, it ss expecting margin improvement mainly from Optus in Australia.

For SIA, it expects operating margins to improve on yield and load factor improvements. Near-term yield drivers should come from:

i) healthy domestic market and North Asia demand, particularly from China, Europe and Australia;

ii) strategic moves to focus on mid-haul North Asian routes to avoid competition with low cost carriers on short haul, and

iii) effective capacity management to shift capacity from weak demand routes like America/Africa to Europe, Australia and North Asia.

Longer-term yield improvement from FY15 onwards should stem from i) introduction of premium economy class in 2H15, and ii) retrofitting a new cabin design on 19 new aircraft in 2015 and 2016.

As for Indofood Agri, “operational difficulties in South Sumatra are behind us” and yields in the last two quarters since 4Q13 have shown solid improvement”, which supports the call for a recovery.

“In addition, 2Q14 earnings may surprise on the upside as the Street has not fully factored in the gain from inventory destocking, we believe.”

How PM & Roy can resolve matters satisfactorily/ Roy’s defence: Work-in-progress

In Humour on 11/07/2014 at 5:24 am

(Update at 6pm: My legal Morocco Mole got it almost right: http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/07/lee-applies-for-summary-judgement-against-ngerng/. By going for summary judgment, PM is saying Roy’s defence in BS. MM told me that PM’s lawyer was going to strike out defence. Going for summary judgment is more aggressive.)

Here’s a constructive suggestion to PM that will make him appear magnanimous and yet deter future libelers  and slanderes.

Below is my suggestion on what PM should ask Roy to do in return for accepting Roy’s published apology

I recognise that the Article means and is understood to mean that Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and Chairman of GIC, is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the Central Provident Fund.

3.I admit and acknowledge that this allegation is false and completely without foundation.

4.I unreservedly apologise to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for the distress and embarrassment caused to him by this allegation.

and waiving damages.

PM should make Roy listen to Tharman’s CPF speech in parly on Tueday 10,000 times, continuously (with breaks for toilet and meals) in an unairconditioned room . At the end of the session, he must be able recite the speech word for word without any mistakes. If he can’t, he has to listen to the speech until he can recite it word for word.

And then he must write out the speech in longhand 100,000 times. That should be sufficient deterrent to others who want to defame PM. They might have to undergo similar treatment.

But then Maruah would object that this would amount to torture or cruel, unusual punishment. but then Maruah is the kind of organisation to object if the govt placed a middle-class activist in a cell with aircon, tv and internet access: guy must have personal toilet with a bidet.

But let’s be serious: what does a macho, man-biting talented footballer have to do with a gentle, unemployed gay S’porean star blogger with itchy fingers.

Both are celebrities. Both are braggadocios, despite their undoubted abilities (one with his footie wizardry, the other with word spinning). Both are full of self-confidence. And they enjoy changing their stories to fit their ends.

Suraez

“The truth is that my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me,” said Suarez in a statement.

Suarez has previously said he lost his balance and did not bite Chiellini.

The media reports that he changed his story after being told that Barcelona would not to buy a unrepentant Suarez.

Roy

After PM sued him for defamation, he was pretty quick to say on 23 May

I recognise that the Article means and is understood to mean that Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and Chairman of GIC, is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the Central Provident Fund.

3.I admit and acknowledge that this allegation is false and completely without foundation.

4.I unreservedly apologise to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for the distress and embarrassment caused to him by this allegation.

Now (OK 17th June) he wrote:

“You know, when I wrote the article, it was never my intention to say that the prime minister had misappropriated the money. And I have never said this.” What about the apology Roy?

And his defence is now that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has “no cause of action” against his client based on Article 14 of the Constitution which gives Singaporeans the right to freedom of speech and expression*.

Err so why did he apologise in the first place? He now says he had no intention to libel and didn’t and anyway PM can’t sue him.

(Furthermore, his lawyer Ravi also denied allegations of malice on Ngerng’s part and also denied that the prime minister is entitled to aggravated damages.)

And given that the apology was not accepted, an apology that he could have continued using in his defence, and he has changed his defence, why hasn’t he come out to say the following is “inoperative” or “tak pakah”?

As it is

I recognise that the Article means and is understood to mean that Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and Chairman of GIC, is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the Central Provident Fund.

3.I admit and acknowledge that this allegation is false and completely without foundation.

4.I unreservedly apologise to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for the distress and embarrassment caused to him by this allegation.

still stands and it is why PM’s press secretary is legally correct to say

I refer to the article “A butterfly on a wheel” (June 13th). You referred to an “alleged ‘serious libel’” by Roy Ngerng. This is not an allegation. Mr Ngerng has publicly admitted accusing Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, of criminal misappropriation of pension funds, falsely and completely without foundation …

, despite a “Marxist Conspirator” saying AG should take action against her. Although a lawyer, she is talking rot.

Saying that the apology is no longer applicable, given that PM has refused to accept it  will  make sense of Ravi’s comments that the case is sub judice. As it stands, M** Ravi’s comment does not make sense because, it seems that so long as Roy doesn’t withdraw his posting of 23 May, the legal position is that he has admitted that he has defamed PM and that the only issue before the courts is that of damages.

My Morocco Mole in legal circles says that the PM’s lawyer will be making an application to strike out Roy’s defence that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has “no cause of action” based on Article 14 of the Constitution which gives Singaporeans the right to freedom of speech and expression.

One gr0und is that Roy has apologised.

On the issue of whether the suit prevents S’poreans from discussing the CPF issue, a claim Maruah makes, Roy’s sifu, Uncle Leong, has written extensively on the issue, making most of the points that Roy claims he has discovered and exposed. Actually Uncle Leong has been telling us about these “discovered” dfacts fir yrs.

Yet Uncle Leong has not been sued or lauded like Roy because he has avoided making allegations of theft. His articles are factual.

Why is Uncle Leong is sifu? Roy came into prominence in 2012 (I think) when he co-authored with Uncle Leong a series of articles on the CPF system. Before that series, Roy was a no-body.

Related posts:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/who-is-right-pm-heart-truths-consumer-survey/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/constructive-suggestions-for-anti-pap-paper-warriors/

*”Derbyshire principle” that his myopic (or inability to count?) gf and sidekick chickened out of trying?

 When TRE relaunched, PM’s brother sued and Ravi wanted to defend TRE on the basis of Article 14. Richard Wan (elite school boy and scholar) found another lawyer to kai seow. TRE lived to fight another day.

**No jokes pls like that the “P” in “P Ravi” stands for “Politican”. It stands for Philemon.

Property: Tharman trying to crack jokes again

In Economy, Property on 10/07/2014 at 4:34 am

I’ll not comment on Tharman’s CPF speech as Uncle Leong and many others have covered it. Instead, I’ll focus on a sppech he made last week congratulating himself on “cooling” the property market.

On 5th July BT reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman ShanmugaratnamHe told a conference that Singapore had responded early enough to raging property prices with a set of cooling measures.

Err is he living in the same S’pore as I am or is he in S’pore (Roy Ngerng’s version).

Here’s what the FT reported on 30th June

Over the past four years, the Asian city state has implemented more than a dozen measures to cool its housing market and stem a growing tide of protest from locals that rich foreigners are making home ownership unaffordable.

If this sounds like an echo of popular sentiment in London, that is because these are very similar economies. A big financial services industry, paying generous wages, sustains demand for high-end housing. That, in turn, pulls up prices further down the price scale, a dynamic accentuated by the availability of mortgage finance at record low rates. Both cities are also regional hubs for wealthy foreigners, with solid legal systems and relatively open borders attracting property investment from Chinese, Russian and Middle Eastern millionaires.

Back in 2010, when Singapore began to tighten mortgage conditions, the initial moves were similarly token [Talking of recent UK measures]. Stamp duty was imposed on property sellers, and the cap on the size of a buyer’s loan relative to the value of the property being bought was trimmed from 90 per cent to 80 per cent. Every few months since then, there have been further, ever more desperate measures. Stamp duty was raised, to punish quick purchases and resales; the LTV cap was cut to 50 per cent; higher taxes were imposed on foreign buyers; and a tradition of 50-year loans was cut to 30 years. None had much of an effect.So much so that this normally politically conservative island nation has been rebelling. The popularity of the ruling PAP party – in power since the formation of Singapore as an independent state 49 years ago – has plummeted. Disaffection with rising property prices is widely cited. [Emphasis mine]

It was only recently that Singapore’s cooling measures finally had a clear impact on runaway house prices, following introduction of a new “total debt servicing ratio” – a metric that limits a borrower’s aggregate debt repayment commitments to 60 per cent of income. Property purchase volumes have duly fallen by 50 per cent. Prices are down by 6 per cent and are forecast to fall by as much as 20 per cent.

Or is he trying to entertain his audience? As he’s an intelligent, no BS person, I have to conclude that he’s out to entertain.

Isn’t his comments on govt acting quickly on property prices, bit like his jokes on inflation, wages?

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/will-hougang-make-the-pap-moan-the-inflation-blues-not-joke-abt-it/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/tharman-trying-to-tell-jokes-again/

BTW, according to the BT report, he raised the possibility of a further correction in property prices, “I think further correction would not be unexpected.” but added that a crash in the property market was unlikely. The PAP would hope not given that next yr is an impt yr to remind the sheep of the PAP’s good deeds in the 60s, 70s and early 80s (before PM became a cabinet minister and too bad about the late 1990s and noughties, when he was DPM, dauphin and economic czar).

And On the subject of keeping track of the market, he called for more emphasis on monitoring banks. “I don’t want to quarrel with the Basel recommendations. They are basically in the right direction; they are good for the long term. If anything our banks are over-monitored (which is why the intellectual financial stuff gets done in HK, while the commoditised trading gets done here) , not that this over-monitoring has done the “little people” any gd: ask the mini-bonders.

 

Indon election: The shouter or the doer? And why it matters to us

In Indonesia on 09/07/2014 at 4:26 am

Here’s the best analysis I’ve come across on today’s election on the difference between the two candidates. The election matters to us because one of the candidates has stressed the importance of military might, saying international respect is based on prowess. Given that the Indonesian governing elite has outstanding grievances against S’pore (largely out of frustration, anger that we don’t kow tow to them), if he gets into power, relations will be tenser than normal. No gd for economic ties.

“You cannot understand these two figures [meaning the two candidates, Joko Widodo, known universally as Jokowi, and Prabowo Subianto] without placing them in the context of ten years of SBY,” the acronym by which Indonesia’s current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is known …

But Mr Yudhoyono’s rule has been exceptionally disappointing for many Indonesians. Mr Winters identifies Mr Yudhoyono’s two major flaws as “his inability to follow through and get things done, and his incapacity to show leadership and make tough decisions.” To compensate for the first failing—which Mr Winters described to me more succinctly as “great PowerPoints, no action”—Indonesians have Jokowi, whose reputation first as mayor of Solo and then as governor of Jakarta rests on nuts-and-bolts administrative competence. As has been amply demonstrated during his campaign, he appears to be incapable of making an electrifying speech. Instead, he likes systems and solutions: as he explained, “I go to the ground, I go to the villages, I go to the riverbank, I go to the market to meet the people. I ask them what they want and what they need and we give solutions.” He wants to move as much of Indonesia’s governance online as possible as a way of avoiding, and thus trimming the power of, Indonesia’s incompetent and sticky-fingered bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, “systems and solutions” is not exactly a to-the-barricade rallying cry. And that is where Mr Subianto comes in: he compensates for Mr Yudhoyono’s second flaw, his indecisiveness, by presenting “a message of firm resolve and calls for national dignity”. He is a former soldier, and his rallies often have a military mien. Where Jokowi is calm and low-key, Mr Subianto has shouted himself hoarse during the campaign. His speeches are full of references to “foreign stooges” and “all of you who have a vision of Indonesian broken apart, a poor Indonesia”.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/07/indonesias-election

It’s a close race.

S’poreans should hope the doer wins as a rich, growing stable Indonesia is better for us. Foreign investors certainly prefer him: Deutsche Bank reports that if Mr Prabowo wins, 56% of investors surveyed would sell their Indonesian assets and just 13% would buy, while a Jokowi win would cause 74% to buy and just 6% to sell.

True, if the shouter wins the dirty money will keep on flowing. But there will be more rows and tantrums with S’pore. Mr Subianto (Shouter) has stressed the importance of military might, saying international respect is based on prowess. In addition to the uncertain economic climate that these rows will generate, the rows will give the PAP the excuse maintain and even spend more on defence.

And the full potential of Indonesia’s potential middle class will remain untapped. If the Indonesian middle class expands and grows richer, S’pore will benefit as they come here as tourists and gamblers.

Daft Sinkies? Dishonest insc agents? Or Medisave sucks?

In CPF, Financial competency, Financial planning on 08/07/2014 at 4:29 am

I was shocked to read in BT on Saturday that the MediShield Life Review Committee highlighted something that should never have been allowed to happen by a truly nanny govt or a govt that cares for its people:

 [O]ne issue has stuck out like a sore thumb: the overbuying of Integrated Shield Plans (IPs).

In the clearest indication that something is amiss, the committee’s report released last Friday stated that about three in five Singaporeans covered under MediShield purchased IPs.

But seven in 10 armed with IPs that target Class A wards in public hospitals chose to stay in lower ward classes when hospitalised. Only one in 10 from the same group chose private hospitals.

Echoing a similar trend were those with IPs that target private hospitals – six in 10 chose lower ward classes in public hospitals. The committee noted twice in its report that many Singaporeans want medical treatment beyond that provided in Class B2/C wards but have “over-stretched themselves to buy the most expensive product for higher protection”. (Emphasis mine)

So S’poreans fork out premiums to stay in the best (OK most expensive) wards, but then don’t use them ’cause no money? Presumably the insurers are laughing when they see their bank statements.They pay out less than what they are prepared to pay for.

Shumething is clearly wrong.

BT as part of the constructive, nation-building media tries to avoid blaming S’poreans. insurers and their agents, or Medisave.

Having said that, it qualified that this typically happens during the working years, when premiums can be paid entirely or mostly through Medisave, the national medical savings scheme used to foot hospital bills, among other things.

A quick comparison of the IPs offered by the five insurers – AIA, Prudential, Aviva, NTUC Income and Great Eastern – showed that premiums for the first 40 years of an individual’s life were priced suitably low to gain market share.

For example, existing private IPs for Class B1 in public hospitals range between $78 and $207 annually, according to the comparison provided by the Ministry of Health’s website. The amount payable doubles to about $297 to $410 when the consumer is between the age of 41 and 50. It rises to between $425 and $921 for those aged 51 to 65, and for those who are 66 to 90, the yearly costs go up to between $888 and $4,245.

It calls for more education rather than pointing out that Medisave nudges S’poreans towards over-insuring despite describing the process of nudging (for the daft: the last three preceding paras).

While information is relatively accessible and most people understand that they have to pay more as they get older, only a small number of people truly realise the exponential spike in IP premiums from age 60 onwards, not to mention the accumulated lifetime costs.

All these point towards a poor comprehension of the workings of IPs – a point that the committee also made sure to reiterate throughout its report. This is why there is a pressing need for the government to educate the wider public of its entire healthcare financing system, as well as the things to look out for in choosing an IP if required, so that the individual can make an informed decision.

But it ignores the T Rex in the ward, Medisave: this typically happens during the working years, when premiums can be paid entirely or mostly through Medisave, the national medical savings scheme used to foot hospital bills,

The answer to the title of this rant?

All three with Medisave the catalyst. It worsens the stupidity (or financial incompetency) of many S’poreans and the dishonesty of agents, by nudging via skewed incentives money in Medisave cannot be touched except for illnesses and medical insc premiums, so might as well buy the more expensive coverage)). It’s our money in MediSave, but we can only spend it in the right ways, one of which leads to bigger profits for insurers..

Update: Follow-up https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/integrated-shield-plans-waste-of-money-contd/

 

Why millionaire-ministers are rooting for any team except Argies

In Footie, Humour, Political governance on 07/07/2014 at 4:42 am

While all S’poreans, disgusted with million dollar salaries for ministers should be cheering for the Argies.

It’s all about the money the managers earn relative to their performance. Argie’s mgr is only 22nd in the World Cup managers” salaries ranking while the other three teams are 4th Brazil), 6th (Germany) and 8th (my favourite).

The Argie mgr is paid only 20.45% of the salary of the Brazilian manager. A certain PAP MP eye doctor would surely sneer at him if he consulted said eye doctor.

Here, I explained why the World Cup is proving the PAP wrong: there is no relation between high pay and gd performance.

In round 1, the teams managed by the three highest paid managers were eliminated. The teams were Russia, England and Italy.

The managers are paid £6.7m, £3.5m and £2.6m, respectively. (Data from UK paper, hence the £)

Other mgrs on the top 10 most well paid list that were eliminated were Spain (mgr is the 7th most highly paid at £2m) and and Japan (9th at £1.6m). For the record, Portugal’s mgr is 12th at £1.3m.

I went on to analyse the other  games where less well-paid managers won. Thiink Costa Rica.

But the PAP can still say the World Cup validates the salary thesis esp if Brazil wins. So come on Argies.

Of the remaining four managers, Brazil ‘s mgr is the fourth most highly paid manager at £2.4m, Germany’s mgr is paid £2.1m (6th), Holland’s mgr (8th in the world) at £2m, and a long way away is the Argies’ mgr (22) at £0.49m.

But the stats say Germany will win. Beating Brazil in semi and Argies in final.

Not juz because Brazil is missing Neymar with a fractured bone in his spine sustained against Colombia.

Breakingviews’ updated Soccernomics calculator … which crunches economic and demographic numbers to predict the outcome of World Cup matches, has performed reasonably well during the first half of the tournament. It predicted the correct winner in 27 of the 48 matches in the group stage. Excluding drawn matches, the calculator was right 69 percent of the time. [Got Italy and Spain wrong though]

On-field form plays no direct part in Breakingviews’ predictions. The model combines the transfer value of players, the country’s population, the proportion of people who play soccer, and public engagement with the sport to come up with an overall rating. Teams with the higher rank should win.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/06/27/numbers-show-germany-will-beat-brazil-to-world-cup/

Another reason why Argies will not win: geriatric squads don’t win the World Cup. a four-place drop in performance (see chart). In other words, if a reigning champion simply brought back its roster from four years before, its mean age would increase by four years, and it would be expected to finish a dismal 17th. http://www.economist.com/blogs/gametheory/2014/07/player-age-football

World Cup: Best paid mgrs keep losing to poorer ones

In Footie, Humour, Political governance on 06/07/2014 at 7:04 am

Former are under performers like certain very well-paid PAP ministers?

This World cup is proving a nightmare to the PAP’s Hard Truth that ministers will only perform well if very well paid by int’l standards.

I’ll let the facts speak:

In round 1, the teams managed by the three highest paid managers were eliminated. The teams were Russia, England and Italy.

The managers are paid £6.7m, £3.5m and £2.6m, respectively. (Data from UK paper, hence the £)

Other mgrs on the top 10 most well paid list that were eliminated were Spain (mgr is the 7th most highly paid at £2m) and and Japan (9th at £1.6m). For the record, Portugal’s mgr is 12th at £1.3m.

Then, Switzerland lost to Argies. It’s manager is paid £2.2m (5th in the world). Argies’ mgr is a lowly 22 at £0.49m,

Brazil’s manager is the 4th most highly paid at £2.4m and as we all know he juz missed two bullets. Chile’s mgr (at £1.1m) is ranked 14th, and Columbia’s is ranked 15th at £1m.

scan0001 (from ST last week)

Germany’s mgr is the kind of guy PAP would like as a poster boy. He is paid £2.1m (6th) and doing well.

Another PAP-poster boy would be Holland’s mgr (8th in the world at £2m),

They would demonise Argis’ mgr (a lowly 22 at £0.49m: how would PAP MP eye doctor respect him?) , Costa Rica’s mgr ( ranked 26th with £0.26m),and Belgium (20th at £0,52m).

More evidence (as if more was needed) to show that the PAP is talking rubbish about the link between ministerial salaries and the quality of ministers. It doesn’t work in World Cup footie. The PAP would be praying hard that Argies don’t win.

BTW, I’m hoping for an all ang moh final with Holland winning. And it’s not ’cause the German coach is paid more.

 

More on when there is a freak election result

In Political governance on 05/07/2014 at 4:38 am

(Or “What else can the Thais teach us about military rule”)

Further to https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/freak-election-training-manual-for-safs-paper-generals-and-us-40-sporeans-too/ based on what is happening in Thailand, when there is a freak election result (2016 as TRE posters are predicting) and the SAF’s paper generals stage a coup to restore the PAP protect parliamentary democracy, S’poreans will be detained for reading Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, and handing out food packets to passer-byes.

In Thailand, a man was detained for reading Orwell’s 1984 outside a shopping mall, while others have been detained for preparing to hand out sandwiches.For some reason, giving out sandwiches is considered a protest against the coup, not other food though.

In S’pore, the public reading of Animal Farm and 1984, will be illegal as well as sharing food. I’m also sure that bloggers who refer to Animal Farm will be prosecuted, and their blogs closed down: for defaming pigs.

But looking on the bright side, the SAF generals may do what the Thai generals are doing: spend money that Thailand may not have

IT DID not take long for Thailand’s ruling junta to discover the first lesson of building popular goodwill: when in doubt, spend. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the ruling junta led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has occupied itself in its first month in office airing out government coffers with a high-powered leafblower. It paid nearly 92.4 billion baht ($2.8 billion) to rice farmers under a subsidy scheme implemented by the deposed government of Yingluck Shinawatra. It is pondering ambitious transport schemes estimated to cost more than $72 billion.

It has also promised to clear a $21-billion backlog of projects awaiting approval from the Board of Investment (BOI)—of which Mr Prayuth has appointed himself chair. At the BOI’s first post-coup meeting, on June 18th, it approved 18 projects worth $4 billion.

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21606327-economy-cannot-shrug-thailands-political-problems-when-teflon-wears

The bad news is that investors don’t like coup as the above link tells us.

So the news may be that our paper generals may juz except a freak election result: so long as they can play with their toys.

Related: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/thailand-huge-ad-gd-pr-for-pap-govt/

Pinoys still “ng kum guan” about 8 June fiasco?

In Humour on 04/07/2014 at 4:50 am

And are the Pinoys trying to stir the pot in revenge?

Or is the Pinoy embassy juz hard at work showing that it is doing its job of protecting Pinoys against hate-crime, bullying and exploitation. After complaining about a hate (no such thing, IMO: it was juvenile, offensive, dumb: anything and everything except “hateful”), it is now looking into a report that domestic workers, including Filipinos, were being put on display at malls in Singapore. Al Jazeera reported that the workers are allegedly made to sit beneath signs and posters that testify to their qualities, or advertise promo rates and discounts. [Update at 6am: No inappropriate displays of maids, say employment agencies, local media reported yesterday.]

Seems to me that ever since the 8 June fiasco when the Pinoy community were collective given a tight slap that the S’pore Police Force was not their grandfather’s police force and that “P” in SPF, PM and PMO did not stand for “Pinoy” but for “Police” and “Prime”, the embassy has become “garang”, and assertive: trying to find fault with S’poreans. Trying to repent for the embassy’s failings over that fiasco?

The undermentioned letter to Voices reflects what the Pinoys and their S’pore friends expected from what they tot was the S’pore Pinoy Force, Pinoy Minister and Pinoy Minister’s Office:

What message was police sending over Filipino event?
Daniel Sim Shao Qi
Published: May 29, 4:03 AM
The police have advised the Pilipino Independence Day Council that there are public order and safety concerns with the venue proposed for its celebration plans. Consequently, the organisers decided to cancel their event.

I am disappointed in the Singapore Police Force. Instead of fulfilling its duty to protect law and order, it gave in to threats by bigots towards other members of the community, the same bigots our Prime Minister condemned for their intolerance.

Instead of advising the organisers to hold the event elsewhere, they should have promised additional security if needed. What message are we sending to the Philippine government — that we are unwilling to protect its citizens?

What is the message to foreigners who live and work in Singapore? When a police force tells the people it is supposed to protect that powers in the community are too big for it to control, it is plainly shirking responsibility.

http://www.todayonline.com/voices/what-message-was-police-sending-over-filipino-event

I think the police have better things to do than organise and help out at the Pinoys’ party. My understanding is that the Pinoys didn’t have a clue about the requirements to host a function in a crowded thoroughfare on a Saturday afternoon in S’pore’s premier shopping area. They tot all they had to do was to set up a stage, sound system and bring in the gals and the booze, and leave the rest to the S’pore Pinoy Force. When they were disabused by the police, they were not happy at the work and costs involved: marshals, medical support, cordoning off the area (see below) etc.

Not happy, pls go home (even though I like being served by Pinoy service staff: they are tops and gd at parting me from my money happily) especially as PinoyLand is the new Asian economic power house, supposedly. But then unlike home, there’s no goons with guns here: safer here for all the claims of feeling victimised, exploited* and afraid. Only got Gilbert Goh’s, Goh Meng Seng’s and friends’ hot air to irritate them: don’t see this hot air killing them.

To end, on a constructive note, here’s a gd Voice explaining a situation that would have worked on 8 June: All the Pinoys needed to do was to arrange to close the plaza for their function. It would have been expensive though. They had only themselves to blame for allowing Goh Meng Seng, Gilbert Goh and friends to whip up sentiment against the event. And among themselves, they could reasonably have expected the embassy to give them this advice in a timely manner, not a S’porean, after the event..

Venue for Philippine celebration would not have been ‘public space’

Timothy Tang

Published: May 29, 4:03 AM
In regard to the Philippine independence celebration meant to be held at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza, which has now been shelved, I feel that the complaints about the event were mainly due to a misunderstanding of what constitutes public space.

Many Singaporeans who complained online thought it would be held in a public area, which they saw as conflicting with and disrespectful to the interests of Singaporeans.

But if Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza were not to be open to members of the public during the event, the event space would not be defined as a public place. Legally, “public place” means “a part of a place that the occupier of the place allows members of the public to enter, but only while the place is ordinarily open to members of the public”.

The location at Orchard Road might have been chosen simply because of convenience and familiarity to Filipinos who frequent Lucky Plaza.

Understanding the legal definition of public and non-public places can explain why Singapore Day last year, at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, was not actually held at a public space.

Although the park is normally a public place, the event venue was closed off to members of the Australian public. An event can be held outdoors and not be defined as a public event, as long as the event space is closed off from public access.http://www.todayonline.com/voices/venue-philippine-celebration-would-not-have-been-public-space

Related posts:

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

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/will-meng-seng-gilbert-see-red-at-this-suggestion/

————————————————

*And we don’t do this here to anyone: Pinoys do this to Pinoys in PinoyLand

THE usual story of child sex-tourism goes something like this. A predator from a rich country arranges a meeting with a fixer and travels to a poor country. The fixer could be a pimp, or even a family relation of the child. If so, the predator might shower the child’s family with gifts and money in exchange for being alone with his victim. Eventually, the offender flies home and returns to his normal life as if nothing had happened.

However, the rapid spread of fast and cheap internet connections in the poor world, and particularly in South-East Asia, is adding a new twist to this nasty old story. It’s called “virtual trafficking”, where predators now meet children in video-chat rooms.

The problem is particularly bad in the Philippines. There, whereas 2% of its 77m people had access to the Internet in 2000, today over one-third of its 104m people do. Combined with deep poverty, this gives fixers and families both the means and the incentive to put children on the web. Fortunately, however, unlike in most countries the Philippines justice system allows for entrapment. “This facilitates prosecution in cases where the victims are unable to testify in court for whatever reasons,” says Darlene Pajarito, an assistant city prosecutor with the department of justice.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/06/child-sex-tourism-south-east-asia

Time to sell? New, inexperienced punters rushing in?

In Financial competency, Property on 03/07/2014 at 6:28 am

(Or “The bull SGX is spinning?”)

Serious mkt correction on the cards based on SGX’s boast that more than 68,000 new Central Depository accounts were opened last year as the largest number of new retail investors in the past five years “ventured into the stock market in the face of an uncertain property sector”? (For those seriously challenged for time, skip right to the end for my take.)

The number of accounts is a big jump from the year before, when about 51,000 new accounts were created. At a press briefing last week on Singapore Exchange’s ongoing retail initiatives, SGX’s senior vice-president for retail investors, Lynn Gaspar, said that about half of all CDP accounts or a record-high 844,000 actually held some shares.

BT reported earlier this week:

“Subscription to SGX’s My Gateway’s e-newsletter over the past 12 months has risen 21 per cent to 187,000 and the increase in unique visitors to our website has been 45 per cent over the same period,” she said.

However, she added that, notwithstanding the increase in interest, the proportion of Singaporeans who invested in the stock market is still low when compared with other markets.

“Only about 8-10 per cent of the population is in stocks, compared with 20-25 per cent in Hong Kong and 15-20 per cent in Australia,” said Ms Gaspar. “If you assume the potential retail investor population to be about three million people, only about one third has some direct involvement in stocks while 62 per cent has never been in the market. Of these people, about 400,000 are interested in getting into the market. Based on a survey we conducted in 2012, we found that the barriers to entry for these people are they don’t know how to start, don’t know where to start and don’t have the time or money.”


To help interested but inexperiened retail players gain some insights into the stock market, SGX has partnered local firm TradeHero, which offers a mobile market trading application that can be downloaded onto phones.

The exchange is also offering up to $198,000 in prize money in its StockWhiz contest which is open to Singapore residents aged 18 years and above, the aim of which is to allow the public to learn to trade with virtual money.

“TradeHero allows investors to trade using real-time prices,” said Ms Gaspar. “We feel this is a great chance for the public to gain risk-free experience on how to trade.”

Bull on stocks vis-a-vis property?

Today reported her as saying:“In an emergency, the ability for you to liquidate property takes a longer time. So, the stock market is a good alternative for people to be able to come in and invest in a higher-yielding asset, not without risk … But you can see the value of the asset you are investing in, you can make those decisions and there’s also liquidity,”

Whatever, given that SGX’s CEO and COO are FTs, and so are many of its senior executives, it’s ironic that SGX is boasting that it’s attracting local punters back. It’s the same Mgt that drove them away.

Now the solution to regenerate a dying, irrelevant regional mkt is to grow the retail mkt? Takes FTs to do this?

“T” stands for “Trash”? Juz look at the IPO mkt and the secondary listing of Gazprom, a dog with fleas if ever there was one.

Coming back to whether market is set for serious correction? Well volumes remain depressed*, so the accout-opening and education, doesn’t translate into activity. The little people are inactive. So the rush to open accounts is not a sign of trouble yet. Watch the volume (not $ value but shares traded).

The only reason to be wary is that with residential property prices expected to fall another 20% next yr, the prices of developers may not yet reflect this expectation. As UBS pointed out recently, the stock mkt is influenced by property prices and it affects more weakness in that sector.

——

*Update at 9.30am: Figures juz reported show that in June daily average value of securities traded on the SGX fell by 40% on the same month last year, to just S$978m.

 

Buying votes? Or social justice redistribution?

In Political governance on 02/07/2014 at 4:47 am

A recent announcement reminded me that National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Monday (June 2) warned against turning elections into an auction between political parties promising voters as much “goodies” as they can, with as low taxes as possible*.

PAP not into vote buying: perish the tot, he was saying.

So how come this announcement?

In the first week of July, about 1.6 million Singaporeans will receive letters informing them of their 2014 GST Voucher (GSTV), as well as other Budget 2014 benefits** such as the 2014 GSTV Special Payments, the 5-Year Medisave top-up, as well as the Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) rebates, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in a press release on Monday (June 30).

Most Singaporeans will automatically receive their GSTV payouts and 5-Year Medisave top-ups, the MOF said. Those who have not signed up for past Government payouts and/or are not CPF members will receive letters informing them of the actions they need to take by Dec 31 to receive their benefits. (CNA)

And this is only the latest in a string of spending our money on ourselves to make life more comfortable:

The Government … (June 5) accepted the MediShield Life Review Committee’s recommendation that it should bear most of the costs of the scheme, details of which were released the same day.

“The Government accepts the committee’s recommendation and will bear most of the cost of bringing in those with pre-existing conditions. In this way, the Government will help all Singaporeans, including those with pre-existing conditions and those who are currently excluded, achieve MediShield Life cover, while ensuring that premiums are kept affordable for policyholders,” the Ministry of Health …

Said Committee chairman Bobby Chin: “We have listened to what Singaporeans valued most in MediShield Life. Our recommendations will provide better protection against large hospital bills for all Singaporeans, for life.”

He added that the committee will finalise its recommendations in a month, with the scheme slated to be implemented by the end of 2015.

The government will commit nearly $4 billion in financial support over five years to the revamped national health insurance scheme that will offer lifelong coverage and better protection.

— The recent Pioneer Generation package.catering to those born in 1949 or earlier, and who became a Citizen before 1987, will cost the Government S$9 billion.The Government will establish an S$8 billion Pioneer Generation Fund to meet the cost of the package over time.

— Then there is an ongoing public tpt revamp which now includes baskers and themed cabins. It started off several yrs ago with a $1.1bn (spread over 5 yrs I think) subsidy for buses, and will result in routes being contracted out to operators.

— Temasek yestewrday pledged an additional endowment of $60 million over the next five years to Temasek Cares, a non-profit philanthropic organisation founded in June 2009 to help needy and disadvantaged Singaporeans.

But let’s be fair, a site that the PAP says is not related to it (Of course, site founder was unemployed, not a very PAP thing) , reposted this from a site that seems pro-PAP (or at least anti-oppo):

On the one hand cry election is coming, that’s pork barrel politics, on the other hand, shouted gahmen not doing enough to help the poor, why 4-roomer get less.

GST Voucher is a redistribution system from the rich, and from foreigners who pay GST, towards the poor and middle income group in Singapore.

Fair point.

What do you think? Vote buying or social justice redistribution at work? Just remember, it’s yr money.

Whatever lah; spending other people’s money can do a lot for a politician. Think Thaksin. He introduced a simple idea to Thai politics that had been ignored by his rivals: find out what people want, and give it to them. Ever since he has been unbeaten at the polls. The national discussion of economic policy, including that led by the current junta, has concentrated on the idea of reducing the cost of household expenditures.

Taz the reality. So much for the theory that there is a need for competing political visions of different kinds that encompass not only what is best for the nation but also the economic and social needs of the population. Juz ask WP. It’s “vision” is “PAP is OK with us as co-driver”. No wonder PAP are annoyed.

When elections become a contest of competing political visions, pigs will fly. Money always talks.

——

*“In all honesty, we must acknowledge most of our people would always want more, but would never want to pay more in taxes, and it’s incumbent upon our part to be honest with our voters, because if every election is a mere auction between political parties to give as much goodies as they can with as little taxes they need to pay, I think democracy of that manner must lead to insolvency and eventually, political cynicism.”

Mr Khaw added there is no shortage of money to finance the development of infrastructure – the problem is a lack of sustainable good ideas which will benefit all sectors in a country. He said, as long as projects are bankable, there will be no shortage of funding. However, it is inevitable that governments may need to help finance some projects in order to help the poorer segments of the population.

**The benefits are as follows:

GSTV – CASH AND GSTV – CASH: SENIORS’ BONUS
About 1.3 million Singaporeans will receive the GSTV – Cash on Aug 1. Of this group, about 660,000 Singaporeans aged 55 and above will also receive the GSTV – Cash: Seniors’ Bonus, which will see them receiving double the GSTV – Cash amount in 2014. The GSTV – Cash and GSTV – Cash: Seniors’ Bonus will cost the Government S$505 million, the MOF said.

GSTV – MEDISAVE
About 380,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and above will also receive the GSTV – Medisave top-up on Aug 1, at a cost to the Government of S$115 million.

GSTV – U-SAVE AND GSTV – U-SAVE SPECIAL PAYMENT
The regular GST Voucher – U-Save will be given out quarterly, the MOF said. In addition, a Special Payment will be given out in July 2014 and January 2015. These vouchers will offset utilities directly and cost the Government S$290 million in total. In July, 800,000 households will receive S$90 to S$195 each in rebates, depending on the type of flat they stay in.

ADDITIONAL MEDISAVE TOP-UPS UNDER 5-YEAR MEDISAVE TOP-UP SCHEME
As announced in Budget 2014, Singaporeans born on or before Dec 31, 1959 – in other words, those aged 55 and above in 2014 – and who do not enjoy Pioneer Generation benefits will receive Medisave top-ups of S$100 or S$200 annually over the next five years, the ministry said. About 530,000 Singaporeans will benefit at a cost to the Government of S$100 million. Those who stay in homes of Annual Value above S$13,000 or who own more than one property will receive S$100 a year. “The vast majority – those living in HDB flats who do not own more than one property – will get the higher top-up of S$200 a year,” the MOF announced.

 

 

 

 

 

FTs in HR & recruiment jobs, no gd for locals & other job issues

In Economy on 01/07/2014 at 4:36 am

Restrict HR, recruitement jobs to true-blue S’poreans

Because people tend to look favourably on candidates similar to themselves, a significant reduction in discrimination in the labour market may require the hiring of new recruiters in order to increase diversity among those who screen applicants. However, this study suggests that there is trouble ahead if prospective recruiters are to be evaluated by the current ones.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/06/labour-market-discrimination

So if the govt is serious about restricting the growth of FTs here, it should not allow businesses to employ FTs in HR and recruitment posts. Plenty of stories about Pinoys flooding mgrs with only Pinoy applicants. M’sian Chinese and Indian Indians too are allegedly big offenders. As are ang mohs. PRCs got good record here as only $ talk, blood doesn’t.

No wonder S’pore NSman is a rare and endangered species in the corporate suite. AWARE wimmin will be very happy, esp for their FT partners.

MoM’s data proves that liberal FT policies hurt S’poreans

On 14 June, BT reported that

In April, MOM had put the preliminary figure of March’s jobless rate at 2.1 per cent.

But in its Labour Market First Quarter 2014 report released yesterday, MOM noted that its final figure for March was still higher than that of December.

It attributed this to more Singaporeans – particularly the less educated – joining the labour market seeking employment because more jobs with higher wages had opened up, thanks to the tightening of the tap on foreign workers.

And earlier in June, BT reported that MoM data showed that wages went up as a result of less FTs being allowed in

Salaries in the private sector grew 5.3 per cent on the back of a tight labour market and improved economic conditions last year, up from 4.2 per cent in 2012.

Taking into account lower inflation, real total wages rose by 2.9 per cent in 2013, after declining by 0.4 per cent in 2012, according to the latest report on wage practices released by the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department.

As of December 2013, 77 per cent of private establishments with employees earning a monthly basic salary of up to $1,000 gave or intended to give wage increases to these employees in 2013, up from 60 per cent in 2012.

This included the 57 per cent that gave at least $60 built-in wage increase as recommended by the National Wages Council in 2013, up from the 28 per cent that gave at least $50 recommended in the preceding year.

Rank-and-file employees received a basic wage increase of 5.4 per cent, the highest in 16 years and up from 4.3 per cent in 2012. This was the first time since 2002 that the basic wage increase for the rank-and-file exceeded that of the non rank-and-file at 4.7 per cent.

DBS economist Irvin Seah said that the salary growth was in line with his expectations. “In terms of real wage growth, it is quite a significant improvement as inflation was actually higher in 2012. This reflects an improvement in productivity and a tighter labour market,” he said.

Toby Fowlston, managing director of Robert Walters Singapore, said: “There has been an increased focus on hiring local talent, resulting in greater competition for this limited talent pool, especially in certain sectors with high demand. This drives wages up, but not for every industry.”

(Emphasis mine)

And flexi-wages remain a WIP

The MOM report also revealed that there has been a general uptrend in the implementation of flexible wage measures. In December 2013, 86 per cent of private sector employees worked in establishments which had at least one of the flexible wage components recommended by the tripartite partners – employers, workers and government.

Having a narrow maximum-minimum salary ratio was the most common wage recommendation adopted at 63 per cent. This was followed by linking variable bonus to Key Performance Indicators (51 per cent) and having the Monthly Variable Component (34 per cent) in the wage structure.

Bonuses did not go up as much as basic wages in 2013 as the annual variable component in the private sector averaged 2.21 months of basic wage in 2013, up by 0.9 per cent from the 2.19 months in 2012. Consequently, the annual variable component formed a slightly higher share of total wages at 15.6 per cent in 2013, than the 15.4 per cent in 2012.

Cham Hui Fong, assistant secretary-general, National Trades Union Congress, said that the labour movement will continue to push for the Progressive Wage Model to be pervasive in all sectors.

“This will not only raise productivity and upgrade skills, our workers can also look forward to better wages and better career progression. We also call on employers to tap on the various funding schemes and programmes, so as to achieve higher productivity growth,” she added.

Economists like Selena Ling, head, treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank, added that the wage growth is expected to continue.

“The economic and business cycle is picking up globally, albeit at a choppy pace, and it is not unexpected that more firms are turning the corner. Real wage growth should be sustained this year, especially since inflation is subsiding. It will be very encouraging if the wage share increases over time as well,” she said.

No Country for above 40s

49% of unemployed S’poreans are above 40

http://sbr.com.sg/hr-education/news/mid-life-crisis-bulk-singapore%E2%80%99s-unemployed-are-older-40

 

MoM’s Labor Market survey showed that there were 29,000 unemployed residents older than 40. This is equivalent to 49% of the 59,300 unemployed residents for March 2014.

There are also more older residents who suffer from long-term unemployment. MoM’s data showed that out of 12,900 residents who had been looking for work for more than 25 weeks, almost 8,700 were older than 40.

– See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/hr-education/news/mid-life-crisis-bulk-singapore%E2%80%99s-unemployed-are-older-40#sthash.XQSoHV2X.dpu