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Archive for August, 2014|Monthly archive page

SIA boleh, MAS tak boleh

In Airlines, Malaysia on 31/08/2014 at 4:50 am

Malaysia Airlines’ 19,500 staff operate a fleet of 108 aircraft, while SIA operates 103 aircraft with 5,000 fewer employees. The result is that over the past nine years the Malaysian carrier has lost a net Rm3.56bn ($1.1bn), while Singapore Airlines has made S$8.86bn ($7.1bn) without a single year of losses.

Says a lot about how S’pore Inc and M’sia Inc do things.

 

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Durian diplomacy is apt name for S’pore, M’sia ties

In Malaysia on 30/08/2014 at 4:29 am
On Thursday, BT reported,
Agrobazaar opens in Kampong Glam – with durian diplomacy
Malaysian PM Najib gives PM Lee the spiky fruit; both sides affirm strong ties
Just as they did at their last retreat in Putrajaya in April, the leaders of Singapore and Malaysia engaged in a dose of durian diplomacy on Wednesday.
This time, it was at the official opening of an agro-food outlet called Agrobazaar Malaysia, located at Sultan Gate in the historic Kampong Glam district. The 464 sq m bazaar, which sells Malaysian produce such as fruit, sauces and coffee, is Malaysia’s first overseas branch of Agrobazaar.
During the opening ceremony, visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak presented his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong with a gift of durians, specifically the popular “musang king” variety, as well as an oil painting of them enjoying the spiky fruit during the April retreat.
Well the durian is a smelly, with a coating of thorns, and relations between the two countries are prickly and can stink: forever rowing.
Earlier in the week BT reported:

The arbitration process to settle a dispute between Singapore and Malaysia over development charges on certain parcels of former Malayan Railway land in Singapore has reached its final stage…. a spokesman from Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) revealed that the decision of the arbitration tribunal was expected “in a few months”.

This paves the way to potentially settle an outstanding issue in the Points of Agreement (POA) on whether Malaysia needs to pay Singapore a development charge on three parcels of land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands.

This charge is a tax that is payable to the Singapore government to change the use of a land parcel. Singapore believes this tax must be paid, while Malaysia has argued otherwise.

The matter was eventually referred to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, after Singapore and Malaysia reached an arbitration agreement in 2012.

Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to accept the arbitration award as final and binding. They also agreed that the decision would not affect the implementation of the POA …

 

 

More evidence PM is clueless about ordinary life in S’pore

In Political governance on 29/08/2014 at 4:39 am

It’s not juz eating cockles with mee siam which incidentally is at least an attempt in fusion food: Malay with Chinese.

Recently, PM was criticised by the usual anti-PAP cyber warriors, for comments he made at a dialogue session moderated by DBS CEO Piyush Gupta;  comments on the “divisive nature of the internet”. Actually I think, their comments show how self-centred are the critics.

This is because they missed something very important that he also said, while focusing on something that even my dogs* know is a PAP Hard Truth: “Internet is bad for the PAP. So rubbish and smear it.”

BT reported on 23 August that at the above gig, PM said “Our population is aging, we have to take care of our old folks, and give them assurance and security. But the purpose of life is not assurance and security. The purpose of life is to use that security in order to achieve something new and different, and do better than the people who came before.” Emphasis mine..

Well the words I highlighted show that he’s clueless (or insensitive?) about the importance of “assurance and security” to S’poreans, whether they vote for the PAP or not.

“Assurance and security” is something PMETs and their families (and the poor) need because their “purpose in life” is to pay-off their “affordable” 25-year HDB mortgages, or private property mortgages, and have enough to live on in retirement without “downgrading”, “lease-backs” (Uncle Leong shows how unfair are the terms) .or moving overseas (which is a great idea except that most S’poreans juz don’t want to move).

Because of “market-based” pricing mechanisms, is the “correct” pricing (Think CoEs and public housing),  pricing out of reach housing and cars for those without access to cheap credit? I suspect it is. 

When you think about it, govt must be thinking of “controlled” market, not “free” markets. .In both the property and CoE markets, the govt decides the availability of the product. Only the price is “free”. This is especially true of land: the government controls the supply of land for development, auctioning parcels at its own discretion to developers. The price that developers pay helps decide the value it then puts on land that is used to build HDB flats on. In the case of CoEs, there is, we are assured, a formula.

If the usual suspects had not been so self-centred, they could have accused the PM that his”$2m” annual salary, and his privileged background makes him clueless or indifferent, or boh chap about what matters most. And they would have a reasonable point.

——

*Dogs have the intelligence of a five-year old child. Better still, they can sniff out s**t. They’ll bark loudly at one of Roy’s and Hui Hui’s gigs. But will fall silent and wag their tails when Uncle Leong talks.

 

 

When will the last S’porean move on?

In Humour, Public Administration on 28/08/2014 at 4:31 am

A simulation by the South Korean parliamentary research service, shows the population there will decline from 50m today to 5m in 2172, 100,000 in 2379 – and total extinction before 2750. (Backgrounder: South Korea’s fertility rate of 1.3 children per woman, according to a 2012 World Bank estimate, which puts the country joint last in the birth stakes alongside nations including Singapore, Spain and Greece.)

I’m surprised that neither the population and talent unit in PMO  nor the Institute of Policy Studies have done such a study in order to alarm the sheep 60% who vote for the PAP.

The population unit and IPS have been known to do some really outlandish stuff. Remember the former’s Population White Paper was criticised by several scholars (Think Donald Low, ex civil servant and now in LKY School; and Yeoh Keong Lam, the retired chief economist of GIC.) for not being sound. Likewise, IPS’ defence of the White Paper was rubbishy.

Maybe, ST should be more constructive and nation-building? Or that wannabe Onion, New Nation?

 

 

Putting Roy’s fund raising efforts into a global perspective

In Uncategorized on 27/08/2014 at 4:57 am

Anti-PAP cybernauts were quick to draw the conclusion that the PAP was doomed and publicise this ‘fact’. when Roy raised his $70,000 (and then a further $30,000) pretty quickly. So were S’poreans whose views I respect. Even I was impressed with the response. Until I read this:

Ohio man Zach Brown turned to crowdfunding to help fund a modest goal. He set up a Kickstarter page to help him make potato salad….just wanted to make a tasty side, but lacked the cash for basic ingredients.

He set a goal of $10 (£5.84). That’s low considering that the majority of successful Kickstarter projects raise between $1,000 and $9,999, but steep for homemade potato salad. But the humble and slightly ridiculous request – Brown promised to say the name of each backer aloud as he made the salad – took off. Five days into his challenge, Brown has raised almost $60,000 (£35,000), with most donors giving $4 or less.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-28216299

US$60,000 is more than S$70,000. Both were raised within about the same time frame.

What the reaction to the fund raising shows is the low expectations that we S’poreans have of our fellow S’poreans’ civic consciousness: $70,000 in a few days is a big deal. Roy has a huge following on the internet and social media. Yet what gd has that done him? He faces a law suit that will bankrupt him and all he has as a result of his popularity is S$100,000++ fighting fund and the acclaim of netizens. “Noise” doesn’t pay the legal bills does it?.

And while on the topic of “Loud Thunder, Little Rain” from anti-PAP voices and netizens, both TRE and TOC have appealed for donations to keep their shoe-string operations going. No wonder the PAP considers the views from cyberspace ‘noise’. The talk of support doesn’t get translated into action i.e financial support for the idols of the anti-PAP cyber warriors, or in attendance at gigs. (Btw, here’s Han Hui Hui reporting that 1000 people attended her gig. Read the comments as it shows the length hoe divorced from reality some cybernuts are: example: PAP will lose next GE.)

Contrast that with the financial support that members of Kong Hee’s church are giving to the defence funds of most of those charged for criminally misappropriating their money to fund auntie Ho’s Hollywood life-style.  Those funded have engaged expensive lawyers.

 

 

 

The truth about consultants/ Can PwC be trusted?

In Corporate governance on 26/08/2014 at 4:18 am

“When bank executives pressure a consultant to whitewash a supposedly ‘objective’ report to regulators – and the consultant goes along with it – that can strike at the very heart of our system of prudential oversight.”
Benjamin M. Lawsky, New York State’s financial regulator, on a settlement deal with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

PwC was asked in June by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, part of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc 2007 to review the bank’s dollar- clearing activity from April 1, 2006, to see whether any should have been blocked or reported under rules by the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Asset Control.

PwC edited the report at the bank’s request “in ways that omitted or downplayed issues of material regulatory concern,” including cutting out English translations for instructions to strip references to “doing business with ‘enemy countries’ of the US,” according to the settlement. The Historical Transaction Review report was finished in June 2008 and filed to US regulators and became the “cornerstone” for the 2013 deal with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, according to the accord with PwC. The two partners responsible for supervising the review have retired from PwC.

Con persons not professionals.

99.9% of voters telling PM, “Don’t Return Our CPF” – HDB?

In CPF, Humour, Malaysia on 25/08/2014 at 5:38 am

Taz what a hyper rational alien like Mr Spock can reasonably conclude from the attendance at Saturday’s “ReturnOurCPF – HDB” rally. Though I suspect he would point out that a fairer %age is 0.04% of the number of Oppo voters in GE 2011. Whatever, “peanuts”.

Roy’s and Hui Hui’s latest gig on Saturday attracted around 300 people (based on photos at their site and me being generous). So only 300 support Roy’s and Hui Hui’s proposition? Btw, TOC, TRE hasn’t yet covered the event, and based on the attendance, I expect them not to: “not newsworthy enough”. (Related article)

Remember her NatDay protest rally? It was not reported in the new media. According to Roy* 300-400 people turned up. Hui Hui had claimed 6,000 people had turned up for her previous, “Free My CPF” rally in July. Even TRE tot that only 3,000 people attended. Even earlier, around 200 people it seems turned up at the first rally she and Roy organised. Again new media didn’t report this gig. Lousy attendance not newsworthy enough? Or don’t want to double confirm that only a handful of S’poreans (0.1- 0.01%. If Oppo voters only:0.4-0,04%) are unhappy enough to exert themselves physically to show their unhappiness?

Or that at least 60% S’poreans are actually happy with the govt?**

Whatever, one can rationally conclude that the majority of S’poreans are not persuaded or impressed or taken in by Hui Hui’s or Roy’s antics, despite their vocal online support**.

What should really worry these wannabe celebrities is that not even these adoring anti-PAP cyber warriors are willing to turn up in person for their events.

Their adoring fans are: Loud Thunder, Little Rain?

If Stephanie Sun had such fans, she’d starve to death, let alone afford a Happy Meal.

To end on a constructive note, I hope someone warns Hui Hui that as a new citizen she can be deprived of her citizenship. Happened to Tan Kah Kee (millionaire and founder of Nanyang University), can happen to her.

Maybe taz why Hui Hui is attempt to portray herself as not being anti-PAP. 

Juz go read it. Everything is blamed on the PAP govt. and she not ant-PAP?***

Was Home Team sleeping when they made her a citizen? But this may show the lie to the theory that the PAP creates new citizens to dilute the local anti-PAP vote. But then it could juz show Home Team is juz incompetent: it can’t select hard-working sheep, only lazy, anti-PAP loafers****, when creating new citizens. Or maybe it cunningly allows someone like Hui Hui to become a citizen to give credibility to the PAP’s denial that it encourages immigration ’cause it wants to dilute the anti-PAP vote.

Actually given her hatred of working here (going by one of herone of her posts), wonder why she opted out of her M’sian citizenship? M’sia is worse? “I’m only anti-cronyism, anti-nepotism, anti-dictatorship, anti-tyranny, anti-irresponsibility…” Hmm, she sounds like Anwar Ibrahim, that two-face (bi-sexual?) M’sian politician.

———-

*He was telling a new media website.

** We’ll know one way or the other in the next GE, as even the PAP, and the constructive, nation-building media and Institute of Policy Studies admit that these two issues, along with immigration and public transport are the issues of most concern to S’poreans.

***I’m not anti-PAP.

I’m only anti-cronyism, anti-nepotism, anti-dictatorship, anti-tyranny, anti-irresponsibility…

Is she egging the PM to sue her? So that she can assert the Derbyshire principle that she chickened out of asserting earlier? And then repented of chickening out?

****Her rants against having to go to work daily (check out her site) remind me of the joke, “I’m lazy – my childhood ambition was to be an injured footballer.”.

PussiesXII, Kittens?/ MSM coverage of LionsXII

In Footie, Malaysia, Media on 24/08/2014 at 7:11 am

Simba and Nala and their pride of lions must be upset that their brand has been tarnished by two of our nation footie sides.

The Cubs covered themselves in disgraceful in Brunei,

When Singapore’s national Under-21s completed their Group B fixtures at the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in Brunei on Monday, their report card was a compilation of sorry statistics.

For the first time in the history of the tournament the team lost all their games and lost them heavily – a five-match string of defeats (0-4 to Vietnam, 1-3 to Cambodia, 1-3 to Brunei, 0-3 to Malaysia, 0-6 to Indonesia).

The side also scored the least goals (two) and conceded the most (19).

To further add insult to injury, coach Richard Bok’s squad of 18 for this regional Under-21 competition included four over-aged players – LionsXII trio Ignatius Ang (22 years old), his clubmates, Emmeric Ong and forward Syafiq Zainal and Warriors FC goalkeeper Neezam Abdul Aziz (all 23).

But they were thrashed by Vietnam and Indonesia, who fielded their Under-19 sides.

– See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/sports/football-cubs-shamed-brunei#sthash.7bZqTIFL.dpuf

Meanwhile, the Lions XII, are not living up to their name or their success under Super Sub. After a disappointing Malaysian Super League campaign, the LionsXII once again tasted bitter defeat on Saturday (Aug 23) evening. They lost 2-1 to Johor Darul Takzim II in the Malaysia Cup at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor Bahru. (CNA).

The LionsXII fell to their second consecutive defeat in their Malaysia Cup campaign, losing 1-2 to second-tier Malaysia Premier League side Johor Darul Takzim II (JDT II) at the Pasir Gudang Stadium. – See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/sport/football/story/football-lionsxiis-malaysia-cup-hopes-dim-fandi-gives-fandi-the-blues-1-2-#sthash.I4Yjt95k.dpuf

PussiesXII and Kittens?

Seriously, I hope the recent failure of the LionsXII after the team’s previous success, puts an end to SPH’s and MediaCorp’s championing and spinning of Fandi as the saviour of local footie. He was a very gd local footballer and a decent man who has had his share of gd and bad fortune. But as for the constructive, nation-building media’s attempt to spin him as “super coach, the saviour of local footie”, well the results speak for themselves. It’s not as though the media didn’t know of his failings in the smake pits of Iskandar.

What really annoys me is that Super Sub never got sufficient credit from our local media for his handling of the LionsXII. Compare their praise of him against that of their praise for Fandi. And the local media is always making excuses for Fandi. He’s not a bad coach (He’s a pretty decent coach) but the failure of our local media to hold him to account is disgusting.

Tourism potential of Indon, Vietnam & Burma

In China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam on 24/08/2014 at 4:58 am

Number of foreign visitors received in 2013

  • Thailand – 26.5 million
  • Malaysia – 25.7 million
  • Hong Kong – 25.6 million
  • South Korea – 12.1 million
  • Japan – 10.3 million
  • Indonesia – 8.8 million
  • Vietnam – 7.5 million
  • Myanmar – 2 million

I’m surprised that Indonesia has only 8.8m visitors given the popularity of Bali.

Still Mynamar is the place to invest in the tourism biz. Opportunities there from recent BBC article.

Roy’s & Hui Hui’s gig today? Keeping TRE & TOC honest

In CPF on 23/08/2014 at 8:11 am
I hope TRE and TOC don’t do an ST, or a MediaCorp today if the crowd for above gig is tiny. So far this year, this “everything complain” duo have held three gigs, the last on NatDay. Yet TOC and TRE only reported the second one where TRE estimated the crowd to be about 3,000.
They did not report the first and the last gig. Hui Hui has said 200 or so turned up for their first party, and Roy told a blogger 300-400 attended the NatDay protest.
Why is the new media silent when the online support is shown to be “Loud Thunder, No Rain” when it comes to physical attendance where some effort is needed?  

Remember PAP’s and DR M’s “Asian Values”?

In Political governance on 23/08/2014 at 4:22 am

Well the Thai jumta now has its very own version.

The army men in charge of the new dictatorship say their aim is to build a “Thai-style democracy”. Their intervention looks more interested in reviving a system of tutelary democracy, in which a bunch of royalist elites control the state, though the new regime denies it. Their alternative explanation, based on a notion of Thai uniqueness, seems to have been pulled out of a hat like a rabbit.

There is an obvious resemblance to the concept of “Asian values”, such as were espoused by Mahathir Mohamad, who ran Malaysia for 22 years. That idea tends to preclude robust democracy, and to justify itself on the back of economic development. It has proven useful to governments like Singapore’s and these days its champions tend to point approvingly to China.

Banyan (19th August 2014)

And of course, the govt here claims that China is juz following S’pore.

How moronic and spastic can a PAPpy get?

In Humour on 22/08/2014 at 4:24 am

Based on someone who claims that he voted for the PAP (letter to TRE appended below), so spastic and moronic that he is happy to reveal his dumbness publicly

I take great personal offence at this bit: the 39.9% vocal minority should be the less successful sour grapes who prefer to spend their time as armchair generals on Internet criticizing our great Government instead of improving themselves and their careers and lives.

I’m certainly someone who has always voted Oppo (even a discharged looney guy in the days when one JBJ recruited such people and bicycle thieves to stand as MPs) because I have always felt that giving the PAP a hegemony is no good for S’pore. The mismanagement of the 2Ps (Peanuts and Pinkie) prove my point: the chickens are coming to roost e.g. on CPF, public transport, immigration. Remember that Pinkie was DPM (and responsible for economic and financial matters) when Peanuts was PM.

I’m also certainly a loud critic (often bitchy) of the PAP govt.

But as to being tarred as”less successful sour grapes” juz because I am among the 39.9% who voted Oppo, what can I say except this PAP voter is a moron. What’s his evidence that I and all 39.9% are “less successful sour grapes”?

There are are a whole bunch of other RI boys like Drs Ang Yong Guan, Paul Thamby (SDP member and full professor at NUS/ NUH) and Wong Wee Nam who I can confidently assume did not vote for the PAP (Not everyone like WP’s philandering Yaw, remember him? He voted for PAP when he stood as WP candidate. And he got promoted to Low’s Hougang seat as a reward?). Are they “less successful sour grapes”? And Siow Kum Hong is from RI too: a successful guy (got landed property, car, and share options in US tech co). He showed up the worthlessness of Auntie and Low as “co-drivers” when he was NMP.

And then there are NJC boys Show Mao and Richard Wan; and scholars Tony Tan, Gerald Giam and Hazel Poa?

They all “less successful sour grapes”? Come on.

If anybody is “less successful” think Jason Chua: he was unemployed when he founded a pro-PAP website. Or Lionel de Souza (never made police inspector despite being given “acting” rank), the PAP branch secretary at Hougang. Now taz a born loser.

I’m sure that there “less successful sour grapes” among those who vote oppo, juz as there are fruscos who become active opponents of the PAP (think Tan Kin Lian; Tan Jee Say; Andrew Loh and s/o JBJ), but juz as Jason Chua and Lionel de Souza show, such people are also found among the ranks of PAP activists.

—-

Vocal minority drowning out voices of majority on TRE

Dear TRE and readers,

I am a member of the 2011 60.1% majority voting for our world class PAP government. Once in a while, I dropped by TRE to size up the other side. While I found TRE to be highly hilarious and entertaining in the past, recently, I found the voices to be troubling, protectionist and bordering on xenophobic.

Right now, there are so many threads on TRE that are so negative on Singapore, a country that is highly rated by many international organizations, this is unfair to our country and could cause our great international reputation as a liberal, open economy, meritocratic society to be tarnished for no good reason!

While CHEAPER BETTER FASTER sounds a bit cruel, we need to bear in mind that without this, our inflation will be higher and a bowl of mee pok could be $7-8! In fact, my north India acquaintances are earning upwards of $6000 per month and using salary level as indicator of ability, it is fair to say that they are more expensive while better and faster than many locals who are less capable!

In any countries, there will always be a minority who is unable to do well due to their inherent ability, education level, IQ and EQ. With their lack of education, lower earning powers and subsequent lower social status, it is no wonder that they feel that Singapore is being unfair to them!

Actually, the MAJORITY of Born and Bred TRUE BLUE Singaporeans are doing well, grateful to our great world class PAP government and demonstrated it by voting 60.1% enmass in 2011! Most of the time, we are successful in our careers and hence do not have the time to waste on Internet forums.

On the other hand, the 39.9% vocal minority should be the less successful sour grapes who prefer to spend their time as armchair generals on Internet criticizing our great Government instead of improving themselves and their careers and lives.

Till now, I refrained from using any rude words. I hope everyone can be civil and play fair.

To my bros the 60.1% who voted for PAP in 2011: feel free to add your comments to show the 39.9% what you really think. Otherwise, the 39.9% vocal minority will just keep on saying unfair things and mislead people into thinking that many people are unhappy with PAP when facts show that 60.1% majority support the Party!

To the 39.9% in 2011: I hope you will refrain from commenting, and instead, let the 60.1% to comment for once. I am quite sure we, the 60.1%, will surprise you with our strong support for government.

PAP’s bible challenges “market-based solution”

In Economy, Political governance on 21/08/2014 at 4:47 am

I’ve blogged before that the PAP doesn’t need that many smart people as it follows most of the Economist’s prescriptions (except on hanging, drug legalisation, free media and a liberal democracy). It has been an Economist mantra that market pricing is “betterest” because it uncovers the “correct” price. It is also a PAP Hard Truth.

But now the Econimist seems to have second tots.

What if the “correct” pricing level were so high that it prohibited all but the rich from driving in the city? Gulliver paid £9 ($15) to park for a couple of hours next to a horribly overcrowded Dorset beach over the weekend. It was a scorching day, there was only one parking option and it was the first weekend of the school holidays. Unsurprisingly by the time I left attendants were turning away a long queue of cars. There was no public transport, and even if there had been it would have been impractical for Gulliver’s family and its array of apparently-essential beach tat. Who knows what the sweet price-spot on such a day would have been? Enough to put a day out on a public beach out of reach for many, I suspect. 

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/07/parking-apps

Think CEEs and public housing. Is the “correct” pricing out of reach of most without access to cheap credit? I suspect so.

“A Changing world means changing policies and a changed party,” Tony Blair told a flock of die-hard supporters in London on July 21st reported the Economist.

Trouble is that the PAP’s other bible is “Hard Truths” by one LKY. But given that Tony Blair is now rumoured to be worth more than US$100m (he denies the allegation), maybe the PAP should respect his views on the need to change. A PAP MP eye doctor surely would.

 

What Big Ass teach our govt and SME employers

In Corporate governance, Economy on 20/08/2014 at 4:25 am

The recent dip in labour productivity has the govt denying that restructuring is a failure. This and PM’s NDR speech reminded me that on 7 May, BT reported:  The government will help small and medium enterprises maximise their local and foreign workers’ contributions, amid the ongoing manpower crunch*.

They also reminded me about an article I had read about a US SME.

Big Ass is a US manufacturer of industrial and commercial fans. It makes its fans in the US (a high wage country), pays workers’ well (almost 30% above the national average wage, and nearly 50% above the Kentucky average) and is profitable and thriving. Surely it can teach the govt and our local manufacturers something about productivity in a high-wage environment?

The firm pays almost 30% above the national average wage, and nearly 50% above the Kentucky average. It also returns 30% of profits to its 500 employees in the form of bonuses or share programs. As a result, it can hire the best people, and keep them: in 2013 its retention rate was 88%, compared with a national average of 62%. It also gets a lot out of its workers: productivity is up by 175% since 2009 on one industry measure. Any profits that aren’t returned to workers are ploughed back into the firm. “If we have any money over at the end of the year, we’ve missed an opportunity to invest,” observes Mr Smith.

No rocket science or magic formula. It’s about paying gd wages and reinvesting in the biz, not being mean on wages, so that the SME owner can buy more properties or new super cars.

And its about growing “our own timber” (Ngiam Tong Dow, remember him?, not importing FTs:

Mr Smith’s biggest challenge today, he believes, is ensuring that Big Ass becomes what he calls “a 200-year company”. Part of that is down to people: he believes in hiring out of college, and moving those new hires through a range of different jobs. “We want young people to understand the whole company, because they’re going to be running it 40 years from now,” he says. Another part is hardwiring long-term thinking into the firm’s processes.

It’s also about spending on R&D

Big Ass invests nearly 9% of its revenues in R&D, more than twice the manufacturing-industry average in America. A lot is spent on hit-or-miss blue-sky research.

And it’s always about the long term future (think LKY in the 60s, 70s and 80s):

Privately held firms are not subject to the short-term whims of shareholders, but they face their own hurdles. Mr Smith’s son, Tristan, works for the company, but will his heirs want to cash out, offshore production or change the culture? To ensure that the firm’s values endure, Mr Smith is exploring ways to separate management and ownership, and embed the way the company does business into its formal structure. He has spent a lot of time looking at long-lived firms in Germany, Japan and elsewhere for inspiration. “For me, this is the most complicated and difficult problem to solve.”

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2014/04/making-it-america

If Big Ass was a local SME, it would have brought in FTs by the container-load so that the owners could buy that Ferrari and luxury pent-house.

—-

*This was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s assurance to firms at the Malay-Muslim Business Conference held on Wednesday.

He said the government cannot ease up on the limits it has imposed on foreign worker inflows to Singapore.

However, Mr Lee added that the number of foreign workers in the country is still growing, though not as fast as before. [Interpretation: FTs will grow by the 747 and A380 cattle class, not by the container-load.]

He noted that small businesses are very worried about manpower and that many of them want more foreign workers. Those unable to find workers have had to turn away business.

Mr Lee’s advice to firms was to offer higher wages and exciting jobs as the best way to attract good people.

He noted that this is only possible if companies raise productivity and climb up the value chain.

Mr Lee said firms can tap the various government schemes available to do that.

He also encouraged companies to venture overseas, with the government’s help.

 

Integrated Shield Plans? Waste of money? Cont’d

In CPF, Financial competency, Financial planning on 19/08/2014 at 4:30 am
When TRE republished my piece on S’pore overinsuring their healthcare that pointed out, 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”.,
two responses stood out, one rubbishy (but which I suspect explains why many gold plate and gem encrust their Medishield plans) and the other sensible.
But both imply that because the money’s there in the Medisave a/c so spend it leh (a major point of my piece was that the ltd uses of Medisave “encouraged” gold plating and gem encrusting medical insurance. Btw, an actuary tells me that insurers don’t really make much money from such plans, but admits that it could be because they are inefficient.):
Ace:

This analysis by Cynical Investor is too simplistic. There are many consideration for buying a medical insurance.

In an emergency, for example if you faint at Tanglin Shopping Centre, the nearest hospital is Gleneagles Hospital which is a private hospital. If you are NOT covered under the highest plan and you go to Gleneagles Hospital, you will need to pay much higher out of pocket. You can of course go to SGH where you can be fully reimburse for the charges but it is further away and you may not have the luxury of time in an emergency.

For non-emergency cases, you can plan which hospital to be admitted but the fact is that the waiting time for admission to B2 or C wards for such cases can be as long as up to 9 months. Can you take the pain for so long and do you want to wait?

Hence most people would opt to buy the most expensive plan when they are young since the full premium can be paid by Medisave. When you are older, you can still downgrade to a lower plan if premium is an issue.

Singaporeans are not as stupid as the report make us up to be. We may be Kiasu but we are definitely not DAFT.

 

spiny dogfish:

One reason why people buy the most expensive plans is because of the very rapid escalation of hospitalization costs. That and the fact that the insurer has an obligation to renew your plan but is NOT obligated to allow you to upgrade.
When i bought my first shield plan the benefits were enough for a private hospital. When i got hospitalized this year the benefits had not changed as i had naively not upgraded my plan for years. The benefits were only marginally enough for B1 ward. The benefits do not change but the costs keep rising.
And i was told that had my conditon been a chronic one like say cancer or heart disease, it was possible that should i wish to upgrade my plan i would either suffer loading or that very condition would be excluded. BUT i could renew my plan, no problem.

After that you bet i’ll take the highest plan i can afford. In 5 years who knows what this plan will be good for. Just take it as front loading. The real issue is rising medical costs. Dealing with the insurance is treating the symptoms not the disease.

Importance of incentives (e.g. ministerial) & financial courses/ Dangerous to buying for yield

In Financial competency, Financial planning on 18/08/2014 at 4:40 am

Actively managed funds generate more fees for brokers which could explain a large part of their popularity. I’ve never once had a broker recommend a passive strategy and they look very disappointed when I mention it. Incentives matter.”—on “Practice makes imperfect”, August 9th 2014

Reminds me that tying ministers’ and senior civil servants, bonuses to GDP growth is problematic. The Chinese  have in principle stopped making GDP growth a KPI. They found that it skewers officials actions towards environmental degradation and urban sprawl because promoting heavy industries and building housing are the “betterest” ways to get GDP growth.

Crediting the classroom
New research shows that courses in finance at school can help reduce the harmful repercussions from taking on too much debt later in life

Danger of buying for yield alone

Even Neil Woodford, a star UK fund manager, has put the shares [HSBC] into his new income fund – it is the only bank in his top 60 holdings.

But the 12 per cent share price fall over the past year has wiped out more than double the value of dividends paid in the same period. That shows how dangerous it can be to hold shares for the dividend alone.

(FT’s Lex)

Will PM, tonite, give peace of mind on CPF Life Standard?

In CPF, Financial competency on 17/08/2014 at 4:26 am

(Or “Numbers don’t lie — the CPF default plan, is awfully bad“)

I doubt it. [Update on 18 August 4.30am: He didn’t touch on it. If S’poreans bitch, bleat, kpkb maybehe’ll fix it in next yr’s NatDay Rally speech. Remember GE coming.]

Further to my non-quantative rant on CPF Life, two number-crunchers have worked out how nasty and expensive the standard CPF Life plan is. I’m surprised that Roy ngerng has not got round to calling this “criminal misappropriation” yet. Probably, he is waiting for Uncle Leong to explain the numbers to him. Roy may be gd with words, but he is worse than me when it comes to quantative finance, let alone basic maths and stats. At least he wasn’t in finance. (Btw, I would like to point out to Woody Goh that a gd parent would not have devised such a unfair default standard plan, or cPF Life in general. Btw2, since when has govt become our parents? Juz because PAP been in power since 1959, doesn’t mean it has become our parents.  Even the CCP doesn’t regard itself as the parents of China. Woody Goh, we are not living in N Korea. You’ve been reading the ST, I assume.)

 Seriously, a financial planner, who is no second hand car or life insurance salesman, in a tie,  told me, “Someone asked me, why is the default option the worse one? I told him, yah that’s precisely why its the default option” when he sent me this link showing how
bad the standard plan is: http://www.ifa.sg/cpf-life-standard-is-the-worst/ (Warning very chim).
The author concludes, I speculate that the ‘poor’ returns of CPF Life Standard is due to the fact that all of the CPF RA is being invested into the common insurance pool while only a small amount of CPF RA under CPF Life Basic goes to the insurance common pool. The seemingly poor return is probably due to the ‘penalty’ of early exit from the pool in order to help subsidise the remaining in the pool who live too long. This is how insurance works through risk pooling. Unfortunately, we do not know whether this risk pooling is efficient as there is no further benefit illustration available.

Nevertheless, the present values gap between CPF Life Standard and CPF Life Basic is too large to ignore. It is difficult to determine what are the ‘fine prints’ for such a large discrepancy between CPF Life Basic and CPF Life Standard as there is no policy contract available unlike a traditional annuity plan available from private insurance company.

(my emphasis)

In TRE, someone working in finance posted this less technical explanation, coming to the same result:

Here is a comparison between the default CPF Life Standard Plan payout for the writer meeting the minimum sum of $155,000 and the example of Mr. Tan in the CPF Life Handbook, who has $100,000, below the minimum sum, property pledge required. The writer’s payout is derived from the CPF Life Estimator. Mr. Tan’s given in the handbook. The assumed investment rate is 3.75%, the low end of the assumed investment rates for CPF LIFE.

  Chris K Mr. Tan
RA at 55 155,000 100,000
Monthly Payout from 65      1,215        822
Bequest at 65 187,263 108,505
Bequest at 75   41,829   11,909
Bequest at 85             0             0

At 55, CPF deduct half the minimum sum, $77,500 the first premium instalment from both the writer and Mr. Tan. The remainder of both RAs earned 4% with an extra 1% on first $60,000. This will be on combined balance, including the first premium which earned rate of 3.75%. At age 65, the remaining RA pays for the second premium instalment. The writer calculates the accumulated capital at age 65 and then amortised against the CPF Life estimated payout. Here are the numbers (CPF does not reveal its calculation so the writer use the default common sense approach)

  Chris K Mr. Tan
RA at 55 155,000 100,000
Monthly Payout from 65     1,215        822
Accumulated Capital at 65 225,453 147,171
Residual Capital at 65 225,453 147,171
Residual Capital at 75 149,529   93,412
Residual Capital at 85   39,689   15,638
Capital depletion age 88 years old 86.75 years old

The first thing that jumps out is the disparity between the estimated bequests and the residual capital after drawing the monthly payouts.  At age 65, without a single payout, the bequest is $187,263 against accumulated capital of $225,453. As an annuity plan, the difference can be explained as those who expired earlier providing the reserves for those who lived longer on the basis of risk pooling.

However, the next thing that jumps out is the capital depletion age which is when the accumulated capital is completely drawn down: 88 years for the writer and 86.75 years for Mr Tan, both well in excess of the 82-83 years life expectancy. The government in effect made triple provisions for those who lived beyond the life expectancy:

1) the excess over the bequests of those who expired earlier

2) stretch the monthly payout well beyond life expectancy and

3) to a smaller extent having those who met the minimum sum compensate those who did not, which then begs the question why should anyone want to meet the minimum sum.

If that is not enough, legislation has been provided to wind up CPF LIFE in case the Plans are insolvent.

The Basic Plan

To avoid a long article, the writer provides a brief summary of the Basic Plan which is predicated on drawing most of the monthly payout from the RA while the annuity only kicks in at age 90. As such, the Basic Plan provides a larger bequest from the RA and over a longer time frame but with lower monthly payout compared to the Standard Plan.

At age 55, the first CPF Life premium instalment equal to 10% of the respective RA is deducted. At age 65, the second instalment equal of 10% of the accumulated RA balance is deducted. The writer draws $1,098 per month from his RA as the payout under the Basic Plan while Mr. Tan draws $737. At the age of 90, the remaining balances in the RAs will be completely depleted. Then, the CPF Life annuities start providing their respective payouts. If both expire before age 90, here is the unused accumulated capital in their respective CPF LIFE annuities and if they live, the capital depletion age.

  Chris K Mr. Tan
Annuity accumulated capital at 90 86,384 61,896
Annuity capital depletion age 96.75 years old 95.5 years old

When the government said a third of Singaporeans who are 65 today will live beyond 90, then two thirds of them will not see a single cent paid from the CPF LIFE annuity. Again the government has built in triple provisions 1) the payout from the RA is stretched well over life expectancy 2) annuities kicking in well beyond life expectancy, guaranteeing massive reserves to pay for those who live beyond 95 3) to a smaller extend, those who meet the minimum sum mitigating those who do not.

Conclusion

The writer does not accuse the government of deliberately profiting from the financial risks of longevity.  However, the triple provision, triple redundancy or in the strictly local parlance “kiasu, kiasi, kiabo” of absolutely ensuring not a single cent is spent on retirement funding, can only mean that there will be excess money left from CPF LIFE which reverts back to the government.

Some may call this conservative financial management but there is a very thin line between such conservative financial management and indolent financial management which arises from coercion and monopoly over retirement savings. Undoubtedly, the usual price of not getting more from their retirement funds is paid by you and me.

(My emphasis)

Chris K

* Chris K holds a senior position in a global financial centre bigger than Singapore. He writes mostly on economic and financial matters to highlight misconceptions of economic policy in Singapore.

Fyi, I was lucky enough to be under the old system and I didn’t opt for any of these plans. If I live too long, I’d die financially if the CPF was all I had. The good concept but as usual messed up by the PAP govt in its meanness: The Standard plan offers an annuity scheme similar to what retirees in Britain opt for. The Basic plan is commonly adopted by US retirees.

Reminder, the Basic plan is closer to the Minimum Sum scheme that is no longer available.

S’poreans: 11th in lying on hols experience

In China, Hong Kong, Humour on 16/08/2014 at 4:34 am

Chinese are number 1. lie to friends and family about the marvellous time they had,The survey didn’t give a reason for why the Chinese exaggerate the most about their holidays, but the status of being able to afford to go abroad, ensuring you keep one step ahead of the Wangses, may be a factor. Another explanation could be that the Chinese tourist is a relatively recent phenomenon who could learn a thing or two about complaining from travel-hardened European and American holiday-makers  Economist

Both reasons are likely to apply to the sheep Singaporeans too.

In Asean, Thais are ahead of us. Interestingly, Hongkies, who many locals think are BS artists don’t exaggerate that much. But then they have a reputation for being gd at complaining.

 

If MOM correct about CPF, why need FTs, growing population? Cont’d

In CPF, Financial competency on 15/08/2014 at 4:23 am

Someone claiming to be a civil servant (and ex-reporter) replied to an article of mine on the above, As he has some good points, I tot I’d share it. My comments follow.

I’ll answer briefly the two questions you posed.

Firstly, why we need a larger population if each individual saves for his own retirement. Strictly speaking, we don’t. What we need is a larger *working* population because only those who have active incomes pay taxes. The taxes collected is used to run the country. It is simply not tenable nor sustainable to run a country with *both* a shrinking pool of tax revenue and a growing proportion of retirees.

For instance, even with steady population numbers, we expect the size of our law enforcement to maintain its strength (if already adequate). Our law enforcement staff is mainly supported by tax payers. Retirees generally enjoy their services but do not pay for the police. With waning tax revenues, it would be reasonable to cut funding and strength of our law enforcement agencies. And it stands to reason that crime rates would go up.

The same reasoning can be applied to health care, defense, or education expenses. Retirees don’t pay for these (other than a token co-payment).

Secondly, why the need for minimum sum and CPF Life. In my opinion, the Government is trying to be tactful in stating their reasons. I’d be more blunt here. Simply stated, the minimum sum is a proxy for your financial acuity throughout your working life. Financially savvy individuals would, by the time they retire, have a nest egg many times the minimum sum. Folks like you would be in that category. The Government does not have to worry for these folks.

Conversely, if you hadn’t even been able to save the minimum sum, what basis does the Government have to believe that you will be able to manage your own money to sustain you till death and not burden the rest of the population? If someone hadn’t been financially successful during their most productive years, would you believe that he is more likely to multiply his retirement account, or if given a chance, misspend or “mis-invest” his money. What then? What if they have no children or their children couldn’t support them or are themselves retired. Are you willing to support these folks for the rest of their life?

You yourself mentioned that life expectancy is much greater than before. That means whatever savings a retiree has would have to last for a longer time. If someone hadn’t sufficiently planned for his own retirement, what makes you think he could plan for his sustenance till death?

The views expressed here are mine and mine alone.

Whatever it is, it ain’t brief. So there goes his/her “briefly”.

Absolutely correct on first point though. My question was aimed at hopefully drawing out this answer.

This answer shows the BS (OK “incompleteness”, “economy with the truth”) that is the govt’s explanation here:

..a pension system. They collect taxes or get citizens to contribute to a social security fund. This pooled monies is then paid out to citizens who reach a certain age. However, many of these systems are facing challenges, because those who are young are now paying for the old. As most countries age, there are fewer and fewer young people paying for more and more aged people …
In Singapore, we have the CPF. Rather than pool all our monies together, every individual saves for his own retirement via his personal individual CPF account.
(Emphasis is mine)
Whether the Western system or ours, there is a need for “shared services’, MOM conveniently ignores.
It’s this kind of “answer” that gets me annoyed. S’poreans deserve better explanations.
On the second point, chap’s very cocksure: I’d be more blunt here. Simply stated, the minimum sum is a proxy for your financial acuity throughout your working life. Ever heard of the fickle finger of fate? “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
Seriously, he has a point. Recently FT reported
Behavioural economist Dan Ariely, meanwhile, says it is “illusory” to expect education to lead to better financial outcomes. He points to a 2014 meta-analysis of 201 prior studies on the subject that found financial education had virtually no effect on subsequent financial behaviour. This is largely because most people forget what they have learnt within 20 months.

Mr Ariely therefore recommends a degree of compulsion. People should have to buy some insurance against longevity risks just as they are required to buy a basic level of car insurance, he says.

The problem is the govt’s solution, CPF Life. We juz don’t know if it’s any gd: black box calculations and no protection against default (yr CPF Life, it dies, you die). Sometime soon I’ll give blog further on these points.

As to Kee Chui’s *Population figures – nobody knows” comments last week: This is what the moderator at the event where he spoke (and a respected economist) posted on Facebook Chan Chun Sing, this is what

As an economist all I can say is that it’s not a very helpful answer.

A final population of below 4 million implies a drastic collapse of the economy not seen even in the Great Depression

10 million implies an impossibly crowded, highly unequal, socially divided society.

That we want to look after our citizens, or provide good jobs for our young is an independent truism.

No comment on an issue that is a key determinant of long term well being for future generations?

Gau Siam!

 

 

 

Qn for Swee Say: How cheap you want us to be?

In China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam on 14/08/2014 at 4:36 am

manufacturing wages

When I saw the above table, I tot of the Deaf Frog’s “Cheaper, Better, Faster”. There is always somewhere cheaper as above from FT article shows. And MNCs will move there: now moving from Jakarta and Vietnam to central Java. (Btw, $ + US$)

“Cheaper, Better, Faster’

The apologist version of what he meant by a website funded by a organisation headed by one Philip Yeo after being approached by one BG Yeo (taz the rumour). With credentials like these how not to believe meh?

In 2007, Lim coined the phrase to exhort Singaporean companies to increase their competitiveness.

Companies have to be cheaper and better than their competitors internationally, because those who used to be cheap (China) are now getting better, and those that used to be good (United States) are now getting cheaper as well. Hence, Singaporean companies have to be cheaper and better than them, and yet turnaround faster.

He obviously didn’t do an MBA: it’s accepted wisdom that one cannot have all three, only two. Attempts to have all three results in failure. This should cheer on TRE posters: Swee Say is urging a policy doomed to failure.

 

It’s more about financing; car dealers contradicts LTA

In Public Administration on 13/08/2014 at 4:36 am

In the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, the Scouring of the Shire was left out. In it Wormtongue (remember him?) turned on Sauron Saruman, killing him, after yrs of being bullied and abused by him.  I was reminded of this episode when I read, The re-classification of Category A Certificates of Entitlement (COEs) may be one reason for the rise in the number of cars with a lower open market value (OMV) registered, but some motor distributors believe the tough loan curbs are having a bigger impact.

They were responding to the letter from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) last week, which credited the introduction of a power cap, in addition to the usual engine-displacement criterion, for the rise in number of cars with lower OMV being registered. .

The LTA had disagreed with a reader who said “the addition of an engine power criterion in Category A has not improved the demarcation between premium and mass-market cars”. BT 6 Aug

[Background: In February, Cat A for cars under 1,600 cc was re-defined to include an engine output limit of 97 kW or 130 hp in a move designed to keep luxury models out of this small-car COE category. S’poreans have been bitching that high-end cars had been blamed for high COE premiums in the past three years.]

The LTA said in its letter: “The additional criterion has resulted in a significant decrease of almost 30 per cent in the median OMV of cars registered in Cat A over the past six months.

“Correspondingly, there are also now more cars with lower OMV of up to $20,000 registered in Cat A.”

But some distributors say the rise in number of cheaper cars sold is more a result of the vehicle-financing restrictions introduced in 2013. Car buyers now need up to a 50 per cent cash downpayment, and to sign up for a maximum repayment period of five years. Before the change, it was possible to borrow 100 per cent of the car price, and pay up the loan over up to 10 years.

The managing director of a volume dealership said: “The loan curbs have not hurt the ability to buy a Cat A model as much as a Cat B model, simply because the latter costs more.”

Someone who can no longer afford a new Cat B model will likely look to a cheaper Cat A car … He moves down the price range to a model that fits his budget … pushing up demand for Cat A cars.”

The sales manager of a luxury dealership conceded that it was true that the re-categorisation had contributed to more lower-OMV cars sold.

“But from what we have seen, the main reason is still the financing restriction,” …  pointed to the Cat A and B COE premiums from the past six months: In the last tender before the recategorisation, that is, the second tender for January this year, a Cat A COE cost S$72,290 and Cat B one, S$79,000.

In the most recent tender two weeks ago, Cat A COEs were S$62,890 apiece, and Cat B, S$65,001 … “Cat A has fallen S$9,400 or 13.0 per cent, but Cat B has dropped by more – S$13,999 or 17.7 per cent. COE supply issues aside, it shows that indirectly, there is now less demand for Cat B, with its more expensive models, than for Cat A.”

The gap between the Cat A and B premiums has narrowed, from S$6,791 in late January to S$2,111 late last month. In the past, when this gap became smaller, most prospective buyers gravitated towards Cat B because they perceived such models to be better value for money; this would then typically push up the big-car premium and widen the gap again …  “So we will have to see in the next few rounds whether that happens. If it does not and the gap stays small, then it implies that demand for Cat B is softening, and that it is probably due to the loan curbs’ impact on affordability.”

When the constructive, nation-building BT is willing to carry a story contradicting LTA’s BS, LTA should realise that its BSing is too much for even brown-nosers.

Related articles

Property * credit

Property & credit II

Property & credit III

Urban planning: a constrasting tale of UK cities & S’pore

In Environment, Infrastructure on 12/08/2014 at 4:21 am

As I’m still in a celebratory mood about past achievements, let’s remember a UK prophet and his prophecy of urban planning

This appeared in the Economists’s obituary on Sir Peter Hall, a leading UK urban planner:

At first, Mr Hall was an enthusiastic supporter of that top-down, rational approach. One of his early books, “London 2000”, published in 1963, argued that London and the south-east should be comprehensively rebuilt, with vast areas of the inner cities bulldozed and replaced by blocks of flats, winding streets by a rectilinear system of motorways and on-ramps, and pedestrians segregated from traffic by walkways in the sky. Detroit, the spiritual home of the motor car, was his guiding light. The planners, in their patrician wisdom, would determine where the people would live, where they would work, and how they would spend their leisure time.

Sounds familiar? He would have loved the PAP govt’s HDB programme which has won global accolades though not from anti-PAP cyber-warriors who missed out on the rise in HDB apartment prices and are banging their balls and cursing the PAP and the 60% who voted for the PAP in frustration.

But this top-down, rational approach didn’t work in the UK, He soon changed his mind. Wherever that approach was tried—in Birmingham, or Glasgow, or around the elevated Westway in north-west London—it caused exactly the sort of ugliness and alienation he had hoped to banish.

So,

In the 1970s he began arguing that one way to deal with urban decay might be a bonfire of regulations; the idea, he said, was to “recreate the Hong Kong of the 1950s and 1960s inside inner Liverpool or inner Glasgow”. That sort of fertile chaos, he came to believe, was exactly what made cities so important, and such exciting places to live. He was an early advocate of the view—these days the received wisdom—that by allowing people to form connections with like-minded colleagues, cities are the engines of a country’s economic, cultural and artistic life.

The HDB programme worked because we had pretty gd planners, a sheepish population (emigrants from Animal Farm?), and one LKY whose gang was not afraid to bang heads to make sure that the sheep people behaved responsibly in the new environment: rememer the punishments for littering and killer litter.

Funnily, the govt is now trying to diktat Sir Peter Hall’s “fertile chaos”* idea. Maybe taz why the SPF allowed the Little India riot to happen? And allow ang moh FTs to get drunk and to beat up locals? And PRC FTs to litter, dirty MRT stations?

Related posts:

LKY & greenery

Green S’pore

———–

*Btw, HK city in the 50s and 60s was not a pleasant place if one didn’t live in Repulse bay or on the Peak.

Cyber warriors: Spyware is cheaply available

In Uncategorized on 11/08/2014 at 4:18 am

In yr cursing the PAP govt this National Day, pls remember that anonymity in’t an option any more:

surveillance spyware has been found in the Gulf.  In October 2012 similar software known as FinFisher, manufactured by Anglo-German company Gamma, was linked to the monitoring of high profile dissidents in Bahrain. Like Hacking Team, Gamma only sells to governments.

Until recently such technology was only used by governments with a long history of expertise in spying, such as Russia, says Bill Marczak of Bahrain Watch, an NGO that monitors human-rights violations in Bahrain. “Now any government that is willing to spend several hundred thousand dollars can acquire these hacking tools and get the training they need,” says Cynthia Wong, who researches internet violations for Human Rights Watch.

That leaves activists more exposed than ever. “Social media activity is increasingly being used as evidence against us,” says a Saudi activist, who wishes to remain anonymous. Most online activists in the Gulf use pseudonyms on their Twitter or Facebook accounts, but Human Rights Watch says a common counter-tactic used by the authorities in the United Arab Emirates, for example, is to unmask users’ identities by recording their internet address and therefore their location.

Currently it is legal for governments to buy the spyware—the sale and export of surveillance tools is virtually unregulated by international law. Spyware providers say they sell their products to governments for “lawful purposes”.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2014/07/internet-monitoring-gulf

Take on PM’s NatDay message: Trying to lull us into complacency

In Political governance on 10/08/2014 at 5:01 am

The gd news that it won’t work.

But let’s begin with the message.

In the 1999 science fiction film “Matrix”, the Matrix is a simulated world created by machines to keep humans complacent. In S’pore today, is the PAP is trying to receate a Matrix here to lull us into complacency: things can only get better under cont’d hegemony the PAP? This tot crossed my mind when I read this CNA report. My comments are interspersed

Singapore’s economy grew 3.5 per cent in the first half of the year, bringing the growth forecast for the rest of the year to between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent. That is narrower than the forecast by the Trade and Industry Ministry in February this year of between 2 and 4 per cent. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this in his National Day Message on Friday (Aug 8) ahead of Singapore’s 49th birthday. [Growth for the full year will be below last year’s 4.1%: at best growth be 15% lower than last yr.]

Mr Lee outlined some priorities for the country, including giving Singaporeans greater peace of mind in their retirement years and helping everyone achieve their potential, regardless of their family background or circumstances. Ahead of his National Day Rally, Mr Lee also hinted at several policy changes to come. 

In enhancing retirement adequacy, Mr Lee said his team is studying how to make it more convenient for retirees to get cash out of their flats, in a prudent and sustainable way. Currently there is the Lease Buy back scheme. It is a monetization option to help low-income elderly households unlock part of their housing equity, and receive a lifelong income stream to supplement their retirement income. Response to the scheme though has been somewhat lukewarm, with just over 300 households signing up for it since it was enhanced in February last year. [Well it’s pretty mean.]

The Prime Minister will also talk about ways the Central Provident Fund system could be improved at the National Day Rally in a week’s time. [It doesn’t need tweaking, it needs to be retot. Mad Dog Chee is right to say that retirement has to be delinked from housing and healthcare: CPF puts these three issues into one pot. 

“Stronger safety nets are not just to give you peace of mind, but also to build confidence to hope and dare,” said Mr Lee. “Our system will help you shoot for the stars. Everyone will have full opportunities to fulfil your potential, regardless of your family background or circumstances.”  [Believe this and you believe that the the PAP is socialist or that the moon is made of green cheese.]

Mr Lee said education is a big part of achieving this. To that end, a committee tasked with reviewing polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education studies is expected to announce its recommendations to help young Singaporeans acquire the relevant skills, to succeed in a constantly changing, economic environment. [Juz let more people who can meet the standards get in the local unis. And don’t suppress the pay of skilled technicians like plumbers and electricians. And don’t import FTs by the A380 cattle class. 

“You are talented, passionate and confident. You deserve to chase your dreams and be the best you can be. The academic route is not the only way up. We will also help you upgrade yourselves while you work. We will help you master specialised skills, and earn advanced qualifications as you progress in your careers,” said Mr Lee. [Why love FTs meh if Singkies so good? Why have to spur S’poreans?]

But Mr Lee said this is also a matter of social values: “As Singaporeans, we must judge a person not just by his educational qualifications but also by his skills, contributions and character. This is how we keep Singapore a land of hope and opportunity for all.” [Give me a break. Scholars get all the best jobs. ]

He added Singapore will succeed, only if its citizens stand together as one united people. There was a rallying call by the Prime Minister for Singaporeans to come together despite their differences and to uphold the spirit of the Pioneers who built this country. … said Singapore has changed, so there also needs to be a reassessment of its position, direction and strategies. Err, what about rethinking the need for PAP hegemony? And the emphasis on the “right” tots.The problem is very existence of Hard Truths: Tony Blair last month said “A Changing world means changing policies and a changed party.”]

… even as Singapore has made strong progress since independence, it has not reached its limit. As the country turns 50 next year, Mr Lee observed that many Singaporeans intend to embrace and mark the special occasion in their own ways. [Migrating?]

He said it is this collective sense of ownership and belonging, that will take this country forward, in a changing world. collective [Sense of ownership and belonging? What sense of ownership and belonging?]

The gd news that that it’s difficult to make us complacent is because the govt is always making too conservative and unreasonable assumptions when it comes to “safety net” issues . Take CPF Life; S’poreans “invested” in CPF life bear the risk of fund going bust.while knowing little of its inner workings. And Medishield is starting to look too expensive with reserves of 200%. this means higher than optimal (for us) premiums.

Oh btw, Ang Yong Guan (remember him?) on Facebook recently said govt’s “share on health is 35% and the Health Minister intends to bring it to 40%. That means our OOP (out of pocket) is 60%. That’s still high for citizens. It should be the other round 60-40% and not 40-60%. 4% of GDP on health and they are damn proud of it. For health, they can go higher than that.”

He is right.

Given the PAP’s love of smoke, mirrors and hot air

In Humour on 09/08/2014 at 4:24 am

Dizzying optical illusions by Akiyoshi Kitaoka – in pictures

Professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka from Ritsumseikan University in Kyoto, Japan, has spent more than a decade creating his collection of moving optical illusions.

Linking to above is appropriate today. Check it out: better than watching today’s parade.

 

NatDay wish: Govt stop aping other places

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 08/08/2014 at 4:37 am

S’pore’s govt is forever trying to copy the successes of other places. Examples

— Israel’ and Silicon Valley’s tech prowess (forgot about Estonia meh?);

— Germany’s SMEs’ structure;

— China’s internet, social media censorship practices (thank god we got Yaacob, a Malay, doing it, not the People’s Voice, TKL who wants S’pore to adopt the Chinese practice of all bloggers and posters registering their identities with the govt before they can comment);

— Scottish biotech prowess (the imported Scots went home);

— Swiss standard of living (apparently we reached it but don’t realise it; costs compared); and

— American social conservatives’ values on family (though not on abortion).

The has been adding to global warming (all that hot air, and methane from BS) and a waste of effort, money.

The govt  should heed the words of a reader of the Economist (required reading of cabinet, civil service but apparently not Jason Chua and the other morons of that pro-PAP FB page, “Fabrications about the PAP”):

“What politicians and policymakers are looking for is a panacea. Imitating Germany will not work. There have been many attempts to imitate Silicon Valley, but no one has succeeded. It is impossible to copy the culture, thinking and collective experience found in a company or a country.”—on “German lessons”, July 12th 2014.

I could add that stopping aping might even help the PAP . I mean we like Israel got NS and high tech weaponry. But why we no got Iseal expertise in civilian high tech meh?. Btw, why NS and the welfare state go hand in hand.

The PAP should walk the talk of what DPM Teo said on 21 July

Singapore has to strengthen its track record of trust, knowledge, connectivity, and livability to attract global companies to set up shop in the country, but must also position itself where it can add most value, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

“To achieve sustainable growth, Singapore cannot simply continue to do more of the same, or to put in more resources in a linear fashion,” said Mr Teo, who was speaking at an annual scholarship award ceremony for the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Monday (July 21). (CNA)

The govt should remember that the world class port and the airport and the financial centre were developed without aping any other place. As was SIA, and Keppel Corp’s rig-building businesses. The starting point was the expertise already here, expertise that juz needed nurturing. And Dr Goh aped no-one when he developed Jurong and let the MBCs in.

 

 

 

Lest We Forget: Pioneers the PAP doesn’t want us to remember

In Uncategorized on 07/08/2014 at 4:40 am
With the 9th of August a few days away, the govt wants us to do the ‘right” things the “right” way to celebrate the day.
I’m sure the PAP will not like S’poreans to remember that there are ISD detainees among the “pioneer” generation. The PAP govt airbrushes them out of history: all the pioneer generation were hard-working supporters of the PAP.
I’m republishing Dr G Raman’s Facebook tribute to his fellow ISD detainee Tan Jing Quee as a way of paying tribute to the “unknown” ISD detainees like Ng Ho (chairman of Ong Eng Guan’s United People’s Party: see below for more on Ong Eng Guan who nearly became PM) who are not well-known dissidents. Only they and their families remember the pain and suffering they endured. They too belong to the pioneer generation,
(Apologies to G Raman for not asking his permission to reproduce this tribute to a dissident I had not known about. I met G. Raman many yrs ago when I was doing my pupillage. we shared a taxi to the Sub Courts because in a quiet, unemotional way, he described spartan conditions he was subject to when in detention.)
Btw, Drs Wong Wee Nam, Paul Tamby (Wonder if S’pore will volunteer his services in the fight against Ebola? He is a professor specialising in infectious diseases and Ebola is deadly) are not aberrants.  RI has produced dissident activists since the 50s.  Tan Jing Quee and Raman were RI boys. But then RI also produced TJS and TKL who deprived RI boy Dr Tan Cheng Bock of the presidency which went to SJI, St Pat boy. The duo also prevented S’poreans from giving the PAP a poke in the eye: Dr Tan could be presiding over third National Day parade. Imagine how LKY would feel.
TAN JING QUEE – 3 YEARS ON by Dr G Raman
From FB — That We May Dream Again
The Mid-fiftiesI first met Jing Quee in 1954, 60 years ago, when we both entered Raffles Institution. Its campus was where Raffles City now stands. Entry into RI was based on the results of the state-wide entrance examination, the predecessor of the present PSLE. The best were admitted to RI. Jing Quee had already displayed brilliance at an early age.We are products of our age. The social and political forces at play determine our values and attitudes. 1955 was the year of the protest by Chinese middle school students against conscription for national service. The French had been defeated by the brave Vietnamese people at the Battle of Diem Phien Phu under General Vo Nguyen Giap.Barely five years earlier, Mao Tse-tung had stood on the parapet at Tiananmen Square calling upon the Chinese people to “stand up”. One-fourth of humanity heeded his call and stood up.Though the Korean War had ended dividing the nation into two, the Cold War was raging. Russia and China were ring-fenced by military treaties stretching from the North Atlantic (NATO) through the Middle East (METO) to East Asia (SEATO). Russia and China were experimenting with a new social order to establish a more equal and egalitarian system. Russia had succeeded to a certain extent and China was adopting the socialist model of economic and social development.Anti-colonial and liberation movements were raging from the Caribbean to Asia through Africa. The UN had launched a de-colonisation programme and the metropolitan powers were against the wall trying frantically to retain a foothold in their former colonies through proxies.The clamour for independence and democracy had created political groups in Singapore. One of the organisations among the English speaking activists was the Malayan Democratic Union a gathering of liberals – lawyers, doctors, journalists and teachers. The Chinese educated had their own organisations Like the Old Boys’ Association which joined other like minded groups struggling for independence with Singapore as an integral part. Singapore was a crown colony ruled autonomously by the British after the Straits Settlements comprising Malacca, Penang and Singapore was dismantled in 1948. “Merdeka” was in the air.1954 was also the year PAP was formed. It had among its members, lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists, workers and businessmen. It published two slim brochures containing its manifesto and policies. The policies were enunciated by authors covering different areas like education, the trade unions, multi-racial unity and multilingualism. It stood for an independent, democratic, socialist Malaya including Singapore. Singapore was treated as an integral part of Malaya by everyone.1954 was also the year that the British government proposed a Constitution for Singapore to grant self-government and for holding of island-wide election. The Randell Constitution as it was called, paved the way for the election of 25 members to the Legislative Assembly.This was the political milieu during Jing Quee’s RI days. I remember him attending the Legislative Assembly meetings and PAP rallies. Most students were politically conscious at that time and they formed Literary and Debating Societies in their schools. They discussed the political issues of the day. Jing Quee became the President of the RI Literary and Debating Society.Not only did Jing Quee have brain power, he also had brawn power. He played football and was the striker for the RI 1st XI. He was known for his speed in the field which matched his oratorical speed.
Days in the VarsityJing Quee joined the University of Malaya in 1960 and read for an Arts degree. Political talks, forums and debates were the order of the day. There was no restriction as we have now on political matters. There was no requirement that a political club should be registered before students can embark on political activities. There was no rush to complete the courses in time to make up for lost time on national service. Jing Quee became the President of the University Socialist Club and the editor of its thought-provoking publication, Fajar (Dawn).The University in 1960 was truly an intellectual hub. The PAP had captured 43 of the 51 seats in parliament at the 1959 election. Many of the undergraduates joined the campaign in support of the PAP as it was then the vanguard of the progressive forces in Singapore. Its Secretary General was the champion of freedom at that time but he was soon to jettison all the ideals that he and his party stood for.Jing Quee’s articles and editorials in Fajar were known for their depth and literary flair. After graduation he did not look for a highly paid job in the private sector or in the civil service. With his mastery of the English language he could have got a teaching job in the Ministry of Education with security of tenure and the perks that go with a government appointment. He shunned these and joined the trade union for a small pay of $500 per month. To him, living up to his ideals were more paramount than amassing material wealth.Entering Politics

The PAP has been a monolith for a long time but not in the early years after its formation. One of the senior members of the PAP, Ong Eng Guan even challenged Lee Kuan Yew for the post of prime minister. The cadres had to vote on who they wanted as the PM. The voting took a surprising turn. The result was a tie. The chairman of the party, Toh Chin Chye cam to Lee’s rescue by giving him th casting vote. Jing Quee watched all these with disdain. He knew the meaning of the words “treachery” and “aggrandizement.”

The inevitable split within the PAP between the progressive forces and the reactionary (anti-people) forces took place in 1961. The breakaway group of intellectuals and political activists formed the Barisan Sosialis with Lim Chin Siong as its secretary general. Though not organisationally linked with the Barisan at that time, Jing Quee stood as its candidate for Kampong Glam. Jing Quee lost by only around 100 votes. The votes for candidates opposing Rajaratnam weresplit with the unprincipled Harban Singh of the United PeoplesParty polling around 1000 votes which should have gone to Jing Quee if Harns had not entered the fray.

Detention in 1963

Jing Quee’s detention was part of Lee Kuan Yew’s p[lot to eliminate all those who dissented against his policies. The label that was fixed on them was that they were subversive and being members of the communist united front out to destroy Singapore! Was there any evidence to support this allegation? This was the same label that was pasted against more than 200 activists during Operation Coldstore of February 1963 when Lim Chin Siong and a host of others were detained. In February 1963 Singapore was still a crown colony whose members were Singapore, Malaya and Britain. Lee tried to distance himself from the Internal Security Council’s decision on the detentions but records show that he was actively involved in it.

The British have opened their archives after the passage of 30 years. None of the minutes, exchange of correspondence and documents show any proof of the existence of a communist united front or that Lim was a communist (see the very informative books, “Comet in our Sky” and “The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore – Commemorating 50 Years. The detentions were to satisfy Lee’s lust for power.

Trip to London

Jing Quee came out of prison in 1966. He headed for London to read law and to escape the stifling atmosphere in Singapore. London in the mid-60s was a hothouse of political activities. One could read any book, attend any forum and meet any social activist from whichever part of the world he came.

Jing Quee was a voracious reader. His regular haunts were the bookshops and libraries. There were no computers or internet. He attended talks, seminars and workshops shoring up his intellectual arsenal.

Return to Singapore and Law Practice

Jing Quee returned to Singapore overland. He travelled through Europe and Asia with his wife to be, Rose. The trip was to satisfy this curiosity and discover new horizons. Jing Quee’s quest for knowledge knew no bounds. One can talk to him on any topic and he will haveto say something on it. He was a polymath.

Jing Quee joined J B Jeyaretnam’s practice for a while before setting up a partnership with Lim Chin Joo. Jing Quee and Chin Joo as the firm was styled, flourished. The firm expanded and made a mark for itself. Jing Quee handled the litigation work and enjoyed practice. He once told me how he succeeded in a case involving complex questions on company law against a lawyer who was a top notch in corporate law. But Jing Quee remained humble despite such successes and the accompanying monetary rewards. He was looking forward to retirement soon after he touched 60 so that he could spend more time with his first love – books and writing.
Jing Quee wrote extensively – essays, short stories, poems and books. These contain a wealth of information and edifying prose and poetry.

The 1977 Detention

In February 1977 Jing Quee was detained together with about 16 others accused once again of being subversive and promoting the cause of the communist unite front. I was the first in this group to be detained and anther label was fixed, that of being “Euro-communists”, a creature hitherto unknown. There was international outcry against these repressive actions but the PAP government paid no heed to them. After a few months, most of us were released after making the usual template “confessions” or “admissions”. Alas, truth was a major casualty in all the detentions including the arrests of 22 social workers, lawyers and professionals in the 1987 Operation Spectrum.

Jing Quee the Man of Letters

He was a man of letters in both senses of the word. He not only read widely. He also wrote extensively and edited books on history and politics. He gave expression to his ideals in poetry some of which were light-hearted but stimulating. His poem on his detention stirs the soul.

Jing Quee the Man

Jing Quee was an icon. He is an exemplar of what an intellectual should be – erudite, humble and a champion of the rights of every person. He evokes all those ideals that we yearn for and want to see realized. I shall forever cherish his contributions towards the cause of freedom.

Roy’s defence has me confused

In Political governance on 06/08/2014 at 4:43 am

TOC has an article on Roy’s defenceMr Ngerng said while his apology to Mr Lee for an article he wrote on 15 May remains, he nonetheless is disputing Mr Lee’s claims that the article had in fact defamed Mr Lee as claimed in Mr Lee’s lawsuit …

In his affidavit filed on Monday, Mr Ngerng disputes the meanings of the allegedly defamatory article ascribed to it by Mr Lee’s lawyers, and argues that the content of the article “does not convey the twisted meaning” which Mr Lee’s lawyers claim it does.

So why apologise, if there is no defamation?

Doesn’t make sense to this ex-lawyer, the way the defence is unfolding.

When Roy was threatened with a defamation suit, activist lawyers were suggesting that a plausible line of defence was that as Kong Hee’s and gang’s case was still in progress, Roy’s comparison did not amount to defamation because Kong Hee and friends were not criminals: they were on trial and the presumption of innocence applied. They had not “criminally misappropriated” anything. I tot that this defence had merit.

So Roy’s apology was puzzling, though not surprising (he S’porean and $ talks):

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.

So did this later on:

“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.

Then came his “defence” 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

My take then on all these.

Now the position is that despite saying the apology still stands: “There is absolutely no basis whatsoever to say that I have accused the Plaintiff of criminal misappropriation of Singaporeans’ CPF monies. I have never accused him of taking a cent of Singaporeans CPF monies and I have no intention to do so as well. It is only persons who are avid for scandal who would say I meant this in the article.”

Err what about the apology, Roy? And yes, I’ve read his affidavit and nowhere does it try to explain why the wording of the apology (which explicitly says that Roy accused the PM of of criminal misappropriation of Singaporeans’ CPF monies still stands when the defence is now :”There is absolutely no basis whatsoever to say that I have accused the Plaintiff of criminal misappropriation of Singaporeans’ CPF monies. I have never accused him of taking a cent of Singaporeans CPF monies and I have no intention to do so as well. It is only persons who are avid for scandal who would say I meant this in the article.”

Curiouser and curiouser.

For the sake of Roy and the administration of justice and its reputation, the Law Society should ask M Ravi’s psychiatrist if he is competent to practice law. If not, the AG should ask the Law Society to ask his psychiatrist if he is competent to practice law.

Let’s not wait until M Ravi screams obscenities in a mosque, or causes a row in a Hindu temple or prances half-naked in Hong Lim Green before his mental state is examined and found to be “impaired”. If it then turns out that M Ravi’s bi-polar disorder is affecting him again or he is not taking his pills, the Law Society could be in serious trouble for allowing him to practice law.

If MOM correct about CPF, why need FTs, growing population?

In CPF, Financial competency on 05/08/2014 at 4:53 am
One message we always get from the govt and the constructive, nation-building media is that an aging population and the refusal of married S’poreans to do NS when having sex means we need FTs to grow the population so that S’pore can finance the needs of an aging population.
But another message is that in our CPF system, we finance our personal retirement needs (see yesterdays ad in ST),
unlike the ang mohs who have a pay-as-you-go system. The Manpower Blog from MOM describes it thus, ... a pension system. They collect taxes or get citizens to contribute to a social security fund. This pooled monies is then paid out to citizens who reach a certain age. However, many of these systems are facing challenges, because those who are young are now paying for the old. As most countries age, there are fewer and fewer young people paying for more and more aged people …
In Singapore, we have the CPF. Rather than pool all our monies together, every individual saves for his own retirement via his personal individual CPF account.
(Emphasis is mine)
So my question is why do we need to worry about an aging population? MOM says that we oldies don’t depend on younger S’poreans to pay for our pensions? It’s our money that is funding ourselves.
So why need population 6.9m by 2030? Or is it now 10m? Juz excuse to import FTs by the A380 cattle-class?
But then MOM also says CPF monies is S’poreans money, even when govt tells us how we can spend it: sounds like
“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.” .
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
And then there is this rubbish
When the British introduced the CPF scheme in 1955, we could withdraw all our savings at 55. Do we remember what our retirement age was then? It was 55. What was the life expectancy in 1955? It was about 60. Hence, what you withdrew at age 55 would have to last you for just a few years.
Today, the retirement age is at 62 and we could be re-employed until 65.And life expectancy is at least 82 and rising fast. For those turning 65 years old today, 1 in 2 will live beyond 85, and 1 in 3 beyond 90. What would happen if we withdrew everything at age 55? Or even 65? Would we ourselves be able to manage our monies for two decades or more? 
Well there are many other solutions other than forcing Minimum Sum and CPF Life down our throats at age 55. Ask the SDP about one possible solution. and the ang mohs too have ideas. Related post on ang moh view supporting PAP’s stance  

Why financial research is “noise” not value add

In Financial competency on 04/08/2014 at 5:30 am

It’s not every day that an analyst concedes that the bulk of financial research in existence is merely “noise”, with not much intrinsic value. But Stefano Natella, Credit Suisse’s head of equity research, is not your typical analyst.
With a penchant for existential questions – “I like that philosophical question (about) why research exists” – Mr Natella is keen to change the way clients view, seek out, and pay for financial analysis.
“I’m very candid (about this) – I don’t think there’s a lot of value in making comments on earnings. Or the value (expires) two minutes after it has been reported,”  …
He uses an example from the telco sector: “If you give me the press release of SingTel’s quarterly earnings, I can write you two pages of a research report saying (its performance was) slightly ahead of market (expectations), and it looked very good in this area, and clients paid (this amount) of fees, and so on. I may know very little about SingTel, but I (could do it reasonably well).

This appeared in BT few months ago

GIC: Rubbing salt into S’poreans’ CPF woes

In CPF, Economy, GIC on 03/08/2014 at 4:42 am

This is how our constructive, nation-building BT reported how GIC is adding insult to injury:

AMID a gloomier outlook for fund managers globally, GIC has racked up annualised real returns of 4.1 per cent over the past 20 years to end-March this year, up from 4 per cent as at end-March last year. This return – above global inflation – was underpinned by a strong recovery in global financial markets, said the Singapore sovereign wealth fund.

Waz the point of this inflation-beating return when the 2.5% CPF rate is below S’pore’s inflation rate? Remember that until recently, we were told the 2.5% rate was justified given that inflation was oneish?

In late July after the June inflation numbers were released which showed core inflation slowed for a second straight month to 2.1 per cent after May’s 2.2%, but a drop to below 2% will be unlikely this year, OCBC economist Selena Ling told MediaCorp..

CIMB economist Song Seng Wun agreed: “The domestic pressure on core inflation hasn’t disappeared. In fact, the pass-through of wage costs to consumer prices has so far been slower than expected, but may become more visible as the economy further recovers.”Core inflation, which excludes accommodation and private road transport costs, is regardeded as a reflection of the wage cost pressure, and the MAS and the MTI retain their 2 to 3%  forecast given the tight labour market. Govt’s way of saying, “You want less FTs, we give you slower growth of FTs and higher inflation.”?The official forecast for all-items inflation is being kept at 1.5 to 2.5%, as the Government expects overall prices to ease in the second half due to lower imputed rentals and car prices, with Certificate of Entitlement quotas expected to rise more than expected*.

Especially as our CPF monies do find their way into the pool of funds managed by GIC. Not that this s any secret exposed by Roy Ngerng. I blogged about this in 2009. And I think TRE reproduced it then.

And one LKY spoke in 2000 or 20001 at a GIC anniversary do about how the CPF monies were converted into a special govt bond and the proceeds flowed into GIC after being mixed with govt surpluses in the Consolidated Fund.
*Update at 5ooam: Extract from BT of 24 July on inflation
The government has cut its 2014 inflation forecast amid lower car prices and housing costs expected for the second half of the year: it now sees headline inflation coming in at the lower half of its 1.5-2.5 per cent forecast range.

But with domestic cost pressures remaining the primary source of inflation, the government reiterated that core inflation (which strips out accommodation and private road transport costs) will stay elevated at 2-3 per cent in 2014.

The impact of rising consumer prices on households varied across different income groups in the first half of this year. Worst hit were the bottom 20 per cent of households: their larger expenditure shares on food and healthcare costs meant they experienced a higher inflation rate (excluding imputed rentals on owner-occupied accommodation) at 2 per cent, compared to the middle 60 per cent income group and the richest fifth of households (both at 1.7 per cent).

CIMB and DBS economists agreed that much of the increase in food and healthcare costs was the result of ongoing restructuring efforts, where a tight labour market has pushed costs (and therefore prices) up.

Said DBS’s Irvin Seah: “Restructuring is inflationary in nature, and it will affect everything. Even if we are unable to bring healthcare costs lower, we should try to moderate the pace of increase.”

According to a report released by the Department of Statistics (DOS) yesterday, Singapore households experienced a 1.7 per cent inflation rate in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2013. This was lower than the 1.9 per cent rise seen in the preceding six months.

Excluding imputed rentals on owner-occupied accommodation, the consumer price index (CPI) went up by 1.7 per cent in H1 2014 – slightly higher than the increase of 1.5 per cent in the second half of 2013.

As for the second half of this year, the government expects headline inflation to ease, due to lower car prices and accommodation costs.

Whining cyber warriors are born losers?

In CPF, Uncategorized on 02/08/2014 at 7:19 am

If you go to link below, and click around, you will find that S’pore’s ranking on happiness (70) is very close to that Laos (69) and Burma (67) despite being way ahead in development rankings. M’sia is also at 70. The Thais and Indons are happiest in Asean (80).

So in Asean, S’poreans are about the norm happiness wise. And on par with HK which is at around our lrvel of development.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/07/daily-chart-18

So juz as there is something wrong with netizens’ perceptions about material prosperity, they got happiness wrong too? TRE posters and other netizens must the exception to reasonably happy S’poreans? Born losers in happiness as in prosperity?

Any wonder then why govt commissioning a new study to find out what the people want, for retirement, and for health needs? Can’t rely on the noise from cyberspace for accurate feedback? Born losers here (self-included). S’pore Notes bitching on new govt study.

 

But then I’ve been called a PAP mole and worse by TRE ranters.

 

 

 

 

 

Setting straight SPH’s tale on WP “discontent”

In CPF, Political governance on 01/08/2014 at 4:39 am

I refer to this “Discontent among WP’s old guard” in the New Paper. Typical of “constructive, nation-building” media. When the PAP changes members of the management team, the media praise it  for” self renewal”, “New blood”. when an Oppo party does the same thing the emphasis is on “discontent”, splits of the losers, malcontents.

I was going to deconstruct the article, given that I’m not too well-informed on the WP’s internal workings (My Morocco Mole has his agenda when telling me stuff. And he had a howler ). But my FB avatar came across a detailed analysis (deconstruction and factual) on FB by a WP member. As we didn’t ask permission, I will not name the person. But if she wants to be named, I will amend this piece to give credit where credit is due.

The New Paper published a report masquerading as a factual analysis of the dynamics at this year’s Organising Members Conference held at the Workers’ Party HQ on 27 July 2014. The article was mischievous and misleading. But more importantly, errors were aplenty. The following are my brief comments.

1. A binary between veterans and younger members who hold degrees was constructed. Supposed “facts” were thrown into this binary framework to create a seamless understanding of what has transpired and to provide analysis of and/ or an account of the situation.

In the article, John Yam and Somasundaram are conveniently labelled as part of the “old guard”. In that case, it appears that both of them were labelled as such due to their physical age in relative to the previous council members who were voted out, such as Ng Swee Bee and Koh Choong Yong who are in their 30s and early 40s respectively, rather than their experience in the Party. If the journalist had done his research, he would have realised that John Yam and Somasundaram joined the Party in 2009 and 2006 respectively. They are in no way “veterans” alluded to by the journalist as being “around for more than 15 years.” In fact, Swee Bee has been in the Party for the last 10 years, longer than John Yam and Somasundaram.

In listing down the reasons for the unhappiness of the “veterans”, he cited that “newer and younger members who hold degrees are preferred over veterans. In that case, the two “older members” who were elected does not in any way fit this caricature. Dr. John Yam holds a PhD and Mr. Somasundaram holds a Masters degree. Swee Bee on the other hand, for the longest time since she joined the Party in 2004 did not have a university degree, but she has been holding the position of Organising Secretary for many years.

The journalist also pointed out that former members, “Mr. Mohamed Fazli Talip and Sajeev Kamalasanan” were veterans of the Party. They were not. Fazli joined the Party in and around 2009/ 2010 and Sajeev joined the Party in 2006. To put it into perspective, Swee Bee and Choong Yong joined the Party in 2004 and 2006 respectively. This binary of “veterans”/ “old guard” vis-a-vis the younger and educated members is clearly misleading and in his attempts to construct a “Other” in the Party, does more harm than good in helping readers of The New Paper understand what had transpired at 216G, Syed Alwi Road on 27 July 2014 and more importantly, the implications/ significance of the new Council in the lead up to the next General Election.

The fundamental point is this. The journalist contradicted himself with the use of the terms “old guard” and “veterans” to mean the same group of people or to construct a faction within the Party from thin air. As he writes on, even he became confused.

2. The journalist displays his lack of understanding of the operations and functions of the Workers’ Party. He did not bother to do his research and check his facts.

The Workers’ Party do not and would not parachute in their candidates. In the article, it was pointed out “candidates are parachuted in, despite not having walked the ground.” Anyone with a basic understanding of the Workers’ Party knows that this is not true at all. The journalist would also be interested to note that the Workers’ Party fielded an ITE graduate at the 2006 elections.

The reasons for Dr. Poh Lee Guan’s sacking, Mr. Eric Tan’s resignation (why Mr. Gerald Giam was made NCMP ahead of Mr. Eric Tan) and the earlier resignations of Mr. Fazli Talip and Mr. Sajeev were made clear to members, cadres and non-cadres at the annual members seminar of the Party. In particular, Mr. Low had explained to the entire membership the reasons as to why candidates were not guaranteed a cadreship. This point was consistently explained to the membership whenever it was brought at internal meetings. For the case of Dr. Poh Lee Guan, Mr. Low had made the reasons clear in his interview with the press after the nomination of Mr. Png Eng Huat during the 2012 Hougang by-elections.

Thus, the journalist was simply mischievous in attempting to illustrate a lineage of discontent and dissatisfaction in the Party. He accepted the comments of these former members at face-value, without trying to better understand the respective motivations/ intentions of these former members. Not too sure whether this is journalism or gossip.

3. “How bad was it?” / “Is there a split?”

In situating his piece in the context of an election drama and an internal party split, the journalist tried his utmost to fit his analysis with the gossip and rumours he picked up with members at the coffeeshop under the party’s headquarters. He had no intention to put up a accurate report.

4. The journalist do not understand the historical context behind Sylvia Lim’s statement.

Sylvia Lim told the cadres that the “WP could not afford to have internal problems or disunity.” Any responsible political party with an understanding of the period in Singapore’s political history (1991 – 1997, Singapore Democratic Party) would make a similar appeal to its members. A quick search would also find Lee Hsien Loong emphasising party unity to his members.


If a political party was nothing but a monolith, with the entire membership parroting the leadership, then I guess something is really wrong. It probably would be inherently broken. As a member of the Party, I am glad to say that this is not the case. The Workers’ Party is growing, its membership is growing and with that will come more competitive internal party elections. Different individuals with different views, ideological inclinations and backgrounds and experiences join the Party at different junctures in their lives. This can only be good for the long term development of a Party. As the case of Mr. Yaw Shin Leong and Dr. Poh Lee Guan had clearly shown, no one is above the institutions and standing orders laid down in the Workers’ Party. WP is a professional organisation and a well-oiled political machinery.

By the way, I attended the conference last Sunday. There were more cadres than the physical space at HQ would allow. It was packed, very packed. No wonder WP needs a new HQ for its continued growth and development. I like to think that this is not very newsworthy for The New Paper.

BTW, I’m sure that TRE ranters who call me a PAP mole, ISD person will say this post confirms what they have been saying, ’cause it sides with the WP. For the record, I think the SDP has the best policies for S’pore, 10-15 yrs into the future. It’s the only party that talks about

De-couple housing and healthcare from CPF.

The major reason why Singaporeans are left with insufficient retirement funds is because the PAP gives Singaporeans no choice but to use what is their retirement money to pay for their HDB flats and hospital expenses.

The SDP plan ensures that HDB flats are sold without the inclusion of land cost (see here) and that the Government stops profiting from healthcare (see here) In this way, our CPF savings are left unmolested for retirement.

Solving the problems around retirement, public housing and healthcare require solving all three issues together.

Yes, yed, I know that in the long term, the SDP’s retirement and healthcare policies will be very expensive for S’poreans but

The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.

Here’s an explanation of what Keynes meant:by Simon Taylor

Keynes wrote this in one of his earlier works, The Tract on Monetary Reform, in 1923. It should be clear that he is not arguing that we should recklessly enjoy the present and let the future go hang. He is exasperated with the view of mainstream economists that the economy is an equilibrium system which will eventually return to a point of balance, so long as the government doesn’t interfere and if we are only willing to wait. He later challenged that view in his most important work The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1935). arguing that the economy can slip into a long term underemployment equilibrium from which only government policy can rescue it.