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Archive for October, 2014|Monthly archive page

StanChart gives Ho more problems

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, Hong Kong, Temasek on 31/10/2014 at 10:12 am

Is StanChart a rogue bank?

Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) fell for a fourth consecutive day in London after U.S. prosecutors reopened investigations to determine whether the bank, which entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in 2012, withheld evidence of Iran sanctions violations.

The U.S. Justice Department, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, are all reopening their original inquiries into the London-based lender to determine whether it intentionally withheld information from regulators before the 2012 settlements, according to two people briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the probes are confidential.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-30/standard-chartered-bank-of-tokyo-said-getting-new-review.html

Temasek wants clear succession plan at StanChart

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/lousy-set-of-results-from-stanchart/

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“Poor dominating politics”: Real-time, real-life example

In Uncategorized on 31/10/2014 at 5:02 am

So Mr Leung Chun-ying has apologised for remarks he made in an interview with foreign media in which he shared his concerns (and those of HK’s elite) about ‘poor dominating politics

As usual the ang moh tua kees in HK and in S’pore, and anti-PAP paper warriors decried his comments. TRE posters were particularly vocal in drawing comparisons with S’pore..

Here’s a half decent comment (compared to other TRE posts) from a S’porean working in Tokyo (Can’t get job here? Or expat package in Tokyo really that gd?)

Chris K:

CY Leung has made that statement I believe unintentionally but we should be grateful for his slip of tongue becos it is rather uncomfortably close to the true thinking of the elites. Hong Kong has always been run by the plutocrats like Li Ka Shing who, with the connivance of their connections to China, had been squeezing the heck out of the ordinary Hongkies. This is very much like how the PAP and the cronies cornered the SG economy with us, the ordinary citizens paying thru our nose and yet have to cope with high property prices and inadequate pension and healthcare.

The kind of politics which CY Leung referred would have meant a more equitable share of the pie, not with the wealthy and the corporate elites taking the lion share. Mind you, HK’s wage as a portion of GDP is 51%. higher than SG’s abysmal 42%. CY Leung’s backers both in HK and in China do not want this in the same way the PAP is controlling the political arrangements in SG to prevent equitable policies from being demanded by those earning median wages and below. Again I am saying the elites, in HK and SG whether the wealthy, in the government or in the boardrooms are all against real democracy becos real democracy meant they eat less from the sumptous gravy train.

Rating: +27 (from 41 votes)

Three looney ones

:     Tham Weng Kay

        October 26, 2014 at 8:21 pm  (Quote)

  • Essentially in Singapore alone, a ruling party in power for over 3 decades has resulted in Abuse Of Power and eventually turned out as that can be seen today when Absolute Power Corrupts…!!!

    Commonsense speak for itself when Singapore is left to seen as a tiny red dot on the world map compared to any Nation in this world…!!! In governing just a small little red dot, do we really need so many ministers whereby each and every one of them are drawing multi-million dollars salary…??? Thanks..

    Rating: +30 (from 30 votes)

     Bapak:
  • In Singapore, there is only One P, PAP. Wealth also taken by them, People? They killed babies and replaying the people with foreigners. This country is under dictatorship. No difference from North Korea.

    Maybe North Korea is slightly better, they never let foreigners replace them. Their money has bought many big countries to close their eyes.

    Rating: +19 (from 25 votes)

     lost faith in whites:
  • PAP= Politics + Abuse + Power

    PAP has using politics to abuse their power far too long.

    For almost 5 years they been using media (newspaper, tv, radio) to barin wash the hearts and brains of people, using the stat board (HDB, NEA, N parks, HDB, etc) to their advantage to milk the people, spf, court, agc to sue its people.

    It is time to bring down the most corrupted party, they are far bringing too much harm than good to the people, they are self serving, political, greedy and too cushy to really serve the very people who elect them, time to bring a stop to these self serving and greedy people, lets wipe them and their crony out once and for all in the next election!!!

    Rating: +25 (from 25 votes)

     

Actually Mr Leong had a reasonable point that has been made before by the likes of Dicey (19th and early 20th century century British expert on the British constitution) and our very own LKY.

In 1994, LKY said I’m not intellectually convinced that one-man, one-vote is the best. We practice it because that’s what the British bequeathed us and we haven’t really found a need to challenge that. But I’m convinced, personally, that we would have a better system if we gave every man over the age of 40 who has a family two votes because he’s likely to be more careful, voting also for his children. He is more likely to vote in a serious way than a capricious young man under 30. But we haven’t found it necessary yet. If it became necessary we should do it. At the same time, once a person gets beyond 65, then it is a problem. Between the ages of 40 and 60 is ideal, and at 60 they should go back to one vote, but that will be difficult to arrange. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/49691/fareed-zakaria/a-conversation-with-lee-kuan-yew

“One-man-one-vote is a most difficult form of government.. Results can be erratic.”
– Lee Kuan Yew, Dec 19 1984

(True, only thanks to RI boys Tan Kin Lian (assisted by Goh Meng Seng) and Tan Jee Say, did RI boy Dr Tan Cheng Bock, by three hundred odd votes, lose to the “right” man from the “wrong” school in PE 2011)

The US constitution was in part framed to avoid the poor dominating politics (see below). The framers were all men of property.

Brazil has juz given us an example of Mr Leung’s words in action. The Economist, and the FT (the newspapers of choice of the thinking rich), most Brazilian economists, and many Brazilian middle class voters, and the Brazilian fat cats supported the losing candidate because he had the “right” economic policy prescriptions. Much gd it did him.

Dilma Rousseff was re-elected Brazil’s president on October 26th with 51.6% of the vote (see map). Her three-percentage point advantage over Aécio Neves, leader of the centre-right opposition, was the slimmest in Brazilian electoral history. As a result, Ms Rousseff will lead a riven country.

The Economist has recalculated the result, weighting it by the 27 states’ GDP rather than their population of eligible voters. If reais of output went to the polls instead of citizens (which they thankfully do not in a democracy), Mr Neves would beat Ms Rousseff by 53% to 47% (see pie charts). But in the actual result, she scampered to victory across swathes of the poor north and north-east—supported by less fortunate Brazilians’ gratitude for the popular social programmes implemented under her Workers’ Party, which has been in power since 2003.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/10/daily-chart-18

All this shows the wisdom of the US way of electing presidents: not by popular vote but by way of an electoral college. And of having a senate where each state has two US senators, irrespective of the number of voters in each state to counter balance the House of Representatives, where more populous states have more representatives.

It’s one man one vote, but the majority cannot tyrannise the losers. It’s the American way.

I’ll end by quoting LKY, “I think in Singapore, we stand a chance of making the one-man-one-vote system work. With amendments as we have done, you know, like GRCs.. We need to make it work. And I believe with pragmatic adjustments, given these favourable conditions, we can have more open debate.”
– Lee Kuan Yew, 1990 National Day Rally

Roy and New Citizen H3 do something classy: only SunT reports it

In Internet on 30/10/2014 at 2:15 pm

Last Sunday, SunT carried a story in its inside pages on what Roy and H# did on Saturday when they could not protest at hong Lim. They and two friends held a picnic at Hong Lim and received well-wishers.

I tot this was a classy, quai lan way of reacting to the authorities’ cancellation of their planned protest. So I was really surprised that their usual cheer-leaders, and anti-PAP activists did not report or highlight the story.

Seems they only want to sensationalise the hooliganish behaviour of these two, not the subtleties they are capable of.

Btw, wonder if  Roy and H3 have these genes?

A genetic analysis of almost 900 offenders in Finland has revealed two genes associated with violent crime.

Those with the genes were 13 times more likely to have a history of repeated violent behaviour.

The authors of the study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, said at least 5-10% of all violent crime in Finland could be attributed to individuals with these genotypes.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29760212

With a lawyer like this, does M Ravi need enemies?

In Uncategorized on 30/10/2014 at 4:42 am

A disciplinary tribunal recommended that human rights lawyer M Ravi be penalised for releasing court documents to the media before serving them on the Attorney-General because the release interfered with the cases.

The tribunal also recommended that Mr Ravi be fined $7,000 for the professional misconduct, in a report released on 23 Oct.

He pleaded guilty to the charges, not contesting them. Originally, when the AG complained, he came out fighting, KPKBing that he would contest the charges. But like in his defamation suit against the Law Society, and complaint against a doctor for professional misconduct, he quietly changed his mind.

His lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam urged the tribunal to consider Mr Ravi’s bipolar condition, which is now under control but which sometimes leads him to act “uncharacteristically”.

I don’t think his lawyer should have raised his bi-polar condition as a mitigating factor for his conduct because isn’t his bi-polar disorder the best excuse to disallow him from practicing law*? Practising law can be taxing mentally and emotionally, and thaz before the long hours (the main reason I moved on to financial services).

And bi-polar sufferers need a routine: any change, even going on holiday can cause problems.

Holidays are supposed to be a time for relaxation, but not for Charlotte Walker, a mother and blogger with bipolar disorder. She values the opportunity to spend time with her children, but fears that a change from her routine may mess up the mental stability she works hard to achieve.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-22395852

Ravi’s kick-ass, high stakes, take-no-prisoners style of litigation certainly does not help him keep regular routines.

To add insult to injury, his lawyer added that Mr Ravi is a pro bono lawyer who contributes actively to society and that the cases he deals with involve general public interest which occasionally leads to emotions running high. Doesn’t this drive home the point that his legal practices makes his disorder more likely to get out of control?

I’ll not be surprised if the great and the good start thinking of banning him from practising law on the ground that his bi-polar disorder means legal practice not the right profession for him. It makes him more prone to his disorder getting out of control .

Remember, you heard it first here.

Related post

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/understanding-m-ravis-bi-polar-disorder/

*He has to get a doctor to certify that he is taking his medicine, and that his bipolar disorder is under control.

After one s/o JBJ penned an article, several yrs back, hinting that the authorities were fixing Ravi the way the Russians fixed dissidents (by getting them certified mad), it became clear that Ravi had not been taking his medicine. This was around the time he was prancing half-naked in Hong Lim sliming WP MP lawyers, a journalist filed a police report against him alleging intimidation, TOC (a leading Ravi cheerleader) reported him as saying he had a string of int’l law offices, and the police were called to a temple where he was “worshiping” and spoke to him. His defamation suit against the Law Society, and complaint against a doctor for professional misconduct arouse out of the aforesaid events

Lousy set of results from StanChart

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, Emerging markets, Hong Kong, Temasek on 29/10/2014 at 2:23 pm

Standard Chartered has announced a 16% fall in operating profit because of a restructuring of its South Korean business and an increase in bad loans.

The Asia-focused lender said pre-tax profits fell to $1.5bn (£930m) in the July-to-September quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

Standard Chartered also warned full-year earnings would fall because of weak trading activity.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29797961

FT reports that some of the major shareholders have been pressing for the CEO to be sacked if things don’t improve soon. It also reports that Temasek  is “pressing for a clear plan of succession”.

Standard Chartered data

 

 

The right way to boost birth rates? And attracting votes?

In Economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 29/10/2014 at 5:39 am

The South Korean annual budget to boost birth rates has reached an equivalent of US$13.85bn this year, says Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s largest and oldest daily.

Though is almost sevenfold increase since 2006, the number of births has actually dropped by almost 12,000 to 436,500 last year. The birth rate, or the number of births per 1,000 people per year, also fell to 8.6. This is the lowest level since records began in 1970, and also among the world’s lowest indicators, according to World Bank data. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-29598172

According to Chosun Ilbo, the main reason why the government appears to be failing in its efforts to boost the birth rate is because most of the money is allocated to childcare subsidies, rather than making Koreans want to have more children.

Well by going waz happening here, the problem here is the same: the incentives are allocated to childcare subsidies, rather than making S’porean couples want to have a child, lrt alone, more children. They prefer to have pets.

So what are the ways that the govt can persuade S’poreans to want to have children? What about a bigger “subsidy” and fast-tracking for that “second” bite at a “subsidised”HDB flat. The more kids a couple have, the bigger the “subsidy” and the faster they can get a second flat? (And the govt can give incentives to private property developes to offer bigger discounts to couples with more kids.)

And what about a discount on that CoE for a prime mover? The more kids a couple have the bigger the discount? Ten kids are a CoE is effectively free?

Finally, what about abolishing the maid levy if parents have a third kid? And a “free” maid if they have 10 kids?

Finally, cut working hours so that couples have more time for sex. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/improving-productivity-try-this-pm-tharman-possible-reasons-for-peanuts-real-wages-growth/

Sadly, a Hard Truth for the PAP is that populism is out. Only bullying, haranguing the voters allowed. Which is why the Pioneer Generation package, spending on public tpt and other “goodies” is a puzzle. PM is a populist in disguise? https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/minister-you-thinking-of-yr-govt/

Or are we going to get screwed with a huge GST increase after the next GE. Remember 2006? A great piece by scholar on how the extra 2 percentage points increase in GST never went into social welfare as promised. http://thereformparty.net/blog/2010/12/24/further-tax-burden-to-enhance-our-social-safety-nets/. The piece was written in 2010 and my admittedly back-of-the-envelope calculations shows that the position is the same today. Perhaps someone should ask Uncle Leong or Roy to update the data.

Whatever it is, remember to ask the PAP when campaigning begins for next GE, “Will you raise GST after the elections, if you win?”

Related post

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/a-populist-measure-can-be-a-sound-measure-ex-imf-chief-economist/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Improving Productivity: Try this PM, Tharman?/ Possible Reasons for “peanuts” real wages growth

In Economy on 28/10/2014 at 4:49 am

Productivity

Shorter working hrs, greater productivity. Evidence cited below.

S’pore should try this if PM and Tharman and the govt is really seious when they say that “no stone will be left unturned” in the search to improve productivity. . But then it’s against the Hard Truth that hard work makes people happy. Actually I suspect the Hard Truth was propogated to ensure that S’poreans didn’t have the energy to engage in political activities. Sadly it also ensured that they didn’t have the energy to have unprotected heterosexual sex.

There is a growing body of evidence that shorter work weeks actually lead to more productive employees.

Right now, the US seems to value long work weeks for the sake of long work weeks. We put in more time at the office than other Western nations, but with less to show for it than one would hope.

According to Melissa Dahl, writing in New York Magazine, “The US is one of the most productive nations on the planet, second only to Luxembourg, but Americans work almost 20% more hours than individuals in Luxembourg. We’re working longer days, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re achieving more.”

An earlier report found that there was little correlation between hours worked, productivity, and wages. Writing in MarketWatch, Quentin Fortrell calculates that Germany works almost 45% fewer annual hours than Greece, but is 70% more productive, while annual German salaries are higher.

Reducing work hours has also reduced unemployment, he says, noting that “countries with the largest reduction in work hours had the largest increase in employment rates since the Great Recession”.

The shorter work week is an idea that both corporate fat cats and tree-hugging environmentalists can love. Billionaires Carlos Slim and Larry Page have spoken publicly in support of shorter weeks, while CNBC cites a recent survey showing “that more than 69% of millionaires surveyed (those with investible assets of $1 million or more) said they believed the four-day work week is a ‘valid idea’.”

BBC

Btw1, here’s something to ponder about on productivity.

Productivity in financial services and other services  miscalulated?

On a very technical issue could financial services and other services be miscalculated? Remember measuring productivity in services is not easy. That could be happening in the UK. See below.

Btw2, the UK’ could also give some clues as to why the growth here in real wages sucks.

Real wages not improving

UK has come out of a recession when  real wages fell … as productivity tanked. but unemployment wasn’t as bad as feared.

The economy’s recovering, But those in work are now badly in need of some respite.

Possible explanations abound for the curious trend. Britain has more liberal labour markets than most European countries, which may have meant companies found wages easier to cut, keeping employment high. Some sectors, such as financial services, may have mismeasured productivity before the crisis. And low investment probably contributed too.

One mooted explanation for low wages is particularly controversial. UKIP, Britain’s insurgent anti-EU party, claims that immigration from Europe is holding down pay. Evidence on this is mixed: conflicting studies have separately found both a small increase and a small reduction in average wages as a result of migration. But there is better evidence that its effects are unequal; the lowest-paid workers, who face the fiercest competition from migrants, find their wages held down by the arrival of foreign workers. Higher earners are more likely to benefit. Division, it seems, is rife.

http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21627665-workers-continue-feel-pinch-what-recovery

[Update on 30 May at 3.00 pm:

Experts experts like Stephen Cecchetti, an economist at the Brandeis International Business School, have found that a very large financial sector tends to precede weaker growth in productivity. “When pay on Wall Street is so high relative to the rest of the economy, you’re creating incentives for people to go into that industry that may not be the best for society over all,” Mr. Cecchetti said.

Or as  recent paper says high-growth financial industries hurt the broader economy by dragging down overall growth and curbing productivity

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A PAP MP and the Internet Brigade

In Uncategorized on 27/10/2014 at 4:33 am

Fabrications about the PAP is considered by netizens as the fat, ugly face of the PAP’s IB.

Both it and the PAP deny that they are linked.

Here’s some evidence that indicates they are linked with the PAP hierarchy being the alpha male.

Sometime back, a tua kee blogger, posted on Facebook an interesting tale. He had felt that he had been defamed by FATPAP and  he approached a PAP MP and asked if this MP had any influence over this group.

The MP replied me that the group is not part of his Party and that the creator of that page is not a PAP member as well, but said that he will try and reach him on the matter. The MP replied me little later saying that he had sent an email to FAPAP setting out the “right facts. Shortly thereafter FPAP took down the posting.

Well sounds like the MP had pull at FATPAP.

What do you think?

It also shows how dumb (though well meaning and decent) the PAP MP is. A really smart MP would have simply said, “Can.t help. because FPAP is not part of the PAP and that the creator of that page is not a PAP member. And anyway, PAP not that dumb and clueless as FPAP.” But by doing a gd deed he showed that FPAP was part of the PAP.

What do you think?

Being serious again, if FATPAP is the PAP’s cyber-insurgency commando strike force to fight the comboys and Comacheros of the internet, all anti-PAP paper warriors should celebrate. It will take less than 15 yrs to break the dominance of the PAP because FATPAP are akin the the paper ranters on TRE. And juz as useless. Reminder: despite all the protestations of gratitude to TRE, the ranters have not talked the talked on funding. TRE still hasn’t raised the funds it needs for 12 months. Most of the $ raised so far came from one person who donated US$10,000.

 

Great article on life insurance

In Financial competency, Uncategorized on 26/10/2014 at 4:56 am

This appeared sometime back. I highly commend reading it both for oldies and newbies.

She went over what main types of policies were available – term, whole life, endowment and investment-linked policies – and how they worked.

She also laid out the various areas of possible coverage and explained, step by step, how my current policies fit within that overall structure.

It was the first time anyone had taken the trouble to make sure I knew how things worked.

I found out from the walk-through that while I was probably adequately covered for hospitalisation and the later stages of critical illnesses, I didn’t have any coverage for their earlier stages.

I also didn’t have any accident coverage or income protection, for instance.

If I had taken the time to find a good agent earlier, I would likely have been able to avoid the current mad rush to figure out what insurance policies I should lock in before I turn 26 in a few days.

Why the hurry? Well, insurance premiums often depend on your age at your next birthday, as I have learnt.

Besides still being eligible for youth discounts in Europe, 25-year-olds turning 26 get to pay less for insurance premiums than those a year older.

The difference between being 25 and 26 worked out to about $150 extra a year for the plan I was buying – which is not a lot, but is still money.

Younger people generally pay lower premiums due to their relative good health and lack of pre-existing medical conditions.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid=582229581-20557-9571802615

Take public tpt, & win gold bars

In Uncategorized on 25/10/2014 at 5:33 pm

Dubai’s transport authority is giving away 4kg (8.8lb) of gold as part of celebrations for Public Transport Day on 1 November, to try and lure people out of their cars and into mass transit, the Gulf News website reports. The prizes will be handed out through “raffle draws and other surprises” over the course of a week, it says. The event is aimed at encouraging people to “shun reliance on private vehicles and switch to using public transport,” …

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-29746778

 

What S’pore, Vietnam, Cambodia have in common?

In Casinos, Private Equity, Vietnam on 25/10/2014 at 5:10 am

No, not authoritarian govts always “fixing the Oppo.

After all, M Ravi, the go-to, kick-ass, take-no-prisoners constitutional lawyer for a drug mule who think the world owes him a living, hooligans who think human rights is the right to disrupt YYMCA activities and tell lies, and a gay that homely gays don’t want to be associated with,  said recently that S’pore is a “democratic society”. No I’m not joking, M Ravi said recently, “We are instructed to place on notice our client’s profound sense of regret that in a democratic society like Singapore, her Constitutional rights and freedoms have been curtailed so drastically on a premise that in her submission is flawed, and all her rights are reserved.”

Coming back to the title, seriously what S’pore, Vietnam and Cambodia have in common is that citizens are by and large banned from gambling in casinos in their own country.

And why isn’t Cambodia studying the laws on allowing locals into Cambodian casinos. After all the Oppo-fixing PM admires our very own LKY.

Ros Phirun, the government’s spokesman on gambling and casinos, says no new decision have been made that would allow Cambodian citizens to wager in Cambodian casinos. He does offer however that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has been studying legislation in America, the Philippines, Vietnam and China, as it prepares to draft new laws to improve casino governance. With better laws, there might be less harm done in letting Cambodians gamble away their savings. “In general, our management of the gambling industry has not been thorough because we have not had the right laws in place …

S’pore’s rules don’t work in a poor country.

One suggestion is to follow the Singapore model. Casinos there charge residents who wish to enter a casino a cover fee of about $80 per day. Alternatively they may buy annual passes for  about $1,600 each … But the same pay-to-play fee structure would be ludicrous in Cambodia, a country where the minimum wage is stuck at about $100 a month and mean disposable income is not greater than $120 per month.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/10/casinos-cambodia

Interestingly, the blog says of S’pore’s law: Dubious thinking has it that only those Singaporeans who can afford to gamble in the first place will be willing to pay the entrance fee.

FYI, btw,

Vietnam Spearheads Frontier Market Investing With a young population and a growing middle class, Vietnam is a popular market for private equity investors, The Wall Street Journal writes.

Ho Kwon Ping’s real insight: Welcome Back to the Future

In Uncategorized on 24/10/2014 at 5:15 am

Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Ho Kwon Ping (es-ISD detainee) spoke at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS)-Nathan lecture series on Monday (20 Oct). His speech was more than about the PAP’s continuing hegemony and its probable decline. Not that you’d notice if you only read the reports and commentary in constructive, nation-building media and the new media.

The focus was on what he said were

— the challenges of PAP remaining in power, maintaining its one-party dominance and denying the opposition its self-described role as a “co-driver” of the nation, but to do so in a manner which ensures that the party “truly renews itself and retains its original vitality, vibrancy and vigour”.

“If history is anything to go by, this last task will be daunting.”

— And that it’s a matter of time PAP would lose an election. (”Is Ho Kwon Ping saying all that much? 15 years from now means 2029/30. That’s at least three general elections away!” was posted on facebook by a friend.)

Ah yah, even my dogs can tell you these things.

Seriously, and sadly, the most impt insight of the speech was played down. Why I do not know.

Back to the future: 1950s and early 1960s revisited 

In his conversations with young Singaporeans, he said, almost everyone was critical of one issue or another, and to varying degrees, he says.

“But what impressed me was the overwhelming sense of what sociologists call self-agency – the simple notion that I can change things; that I am in control of my life and my future.”

“This kind of political DIY, or Do-It-Yourself, attitude has in the past decade encouraged a participatory democracy which resembles Singapore’s early years, but which then surrendered to decades of developmental authoritarianism.”

He gave the example of the public response to Gay Penguins incident, “The fact that some bureaucrat banned some children’s books as pro-gay and anti-family is not unexpected, and not dissimilar in logic to the banning of chewing gum decades earlier. But 20 years ago, such bureaucratic actions – not necessarily about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues but over anything, such as fines for this or that offence, or banning shoulder-length hair for men – would have been met only with grudging acquiescence.”

“But as a sign of the times, including the power of social media, the response this time was some 400 young parents decamping to the National Library* to read the banned and to-be-pulped books to their children. It was not a strident political demonstration and more like a children’s outing. But the point was clear.”

This is his original insight: we are returning to the social activism of the 1950s. Diverse views were slugging it amid great inequality: out: with strikes, rallies, riots, boycotts being par for the course.

So don’t be too surprised if Roy and New Citizen FT H3 when doing their encore after disrupting the YMCA’s event, throw acid at innocent people’s faces; this happened in the 50s. Doubtless, they will say that their victims provoked them. And M Ravi will claim that Roy and H3 have the constitutional right to throw acid at innocent people. (Btw, the good life that activists lead: drinking champagne.)

Seriously, why does Ho Kwon Ping see a return to the 1950s and early 1960s? He cites the following reasons:

New media erodes Govt’s ability to shape or frame public thinking

He pointed out that the ability of governments to control information will continue to erode, despite sometimes frantic and illogical attempts to stem it: “Because knowledge is power, and the ability to control access to information is the key to power, governments instinctively want to be the gatekeepers. But, increasingly, social media and its incredible variety of means for people to connect even across a heavily censored Internet system is undermining the Government’s ability to shape how people think.

‘Anything censored is still widely available in alternative media, and therein lies the rub: At what point will control and censorship of the mainstream news, cultural and entertainment media become counter-productive by not really achieving the purpose of blocking access to information, but, instead, end up alienating the social activists who, despite their small size, are influencers beyond their numbers?”

The centre cannot hold

Mr Ho said it will be increasingly difficult to hold the political centre together in the midst of polarising extremes – liberals versus conservatives; local versus foreign; pro-life versus pro-abortion; gay versus straight, and so forth.“While fault lines along race and religion have been contained and have still not cracked, the so-called culture wars are intensifying.”

“Non-constructive politics”

Another trend is the diminution in the stature of political leadership which will encourage the rise of so-called “non-constructive” politics.

“Future leaders simply cannot command the sufficient respect and moral authority to decree what is acceptable and unacceptable criticisms. To have the authority to simply deride wide swathes of criticisms as simply non-constructive is wishful thinking.”

Bling is the fashion

“In recent years, the ostentatious pursuit of wealth rivalling Hong Kong standards has become fashionable. Extolling our casinos, Formula 1 Grand Prix and highest per capita number of billionaires and Lamborghinis in the world, as evidence that Singapore has now become a world-class city, could perhaps be dismissed as the crassness of the rich, except that this ethos of the elite is occurring just when income inequality has become the worst since independence,” Mr Ho said.

“The gulf between rich and poor Singaporeans, not only in terms of wealth but also in terms of values, is probably more than ever before, and is continuing to widen. Even the gap between old money and its sense of responsible philanthropy, and the nouveau riche’s penchant for affectation and bling, is widening.”

Becoming normal human beings, not comrades on a mission

Lastly, the absence of a galvanizing national mission and a sense of dogged exceptionalism as the little red dot that refuses to be smudged out, will lead increasingly to a sense of anomie – which has been defined as “personal unrest, alienation and anxiety that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals”, he said.

“It is the disease of affluence which affects individual people as well as societies. We have arrived, only to find ourselves lost again.”

The moral of all this: new media can be as bad as our constructive, nation-building media. New media people too have their agendas, prejudices. They too can be stupid.

Take nothing on trust.

Related posts on life in the early 60s

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

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

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/ntuc-what-devan-nair-got-wrong/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/were-the-coldstore-detainees-communists-progressives-or-leftists/ The book reviewed here has gd stuff on the 50s and 60s even if it was published by a stat board. Juz goes to show …

——

*There seems to be a conspiracy of silence among the govt, constructive nation-building media, social activists, and tua kee bloggers and other cyber warriors on this gathering. As far as I’ve been able to make out, no permission was sought or given to conduct the read-in, making it an illegal assembly. So why no arrests? Why no gloating by activists that the police didn’t dare arrest anyone, let alone investigate?

 

 

Parking problems in HK, S’pore might benefit

In Hong Kong, Indonesia on 23/10/2014 at 4:33 am

No not a shortage of parking lots in Admiralty or Mong Kok caused by the heloos of Roy and FT  H3.

There is a shortage of moorings for superyachts. There is nowhere left to park them in HK, the Economist reported sometime back.

Still got space here, though the waters around S’pore are pirate-infested. Blame the Indon navy for that. Sadly our navy not like the Royal Navy in the 19th century. Keppel and other naval captains went around attacking pirate ships and their dens.

PAP’s “servant leadership” like SingTel’s service?

In Political governance, Telecoms, Uncategorized on 22/10/2014 at 6:13 am

Oxymorons, both. Yet why do S’poreans buy into both?

The day before I read Ho Kwon Ping’s speech*, the following conversation occurred on Facebook between friends

One friend asked another friend on her views on buying a Samsung Galaxy note 4 here. The first friend has daughter working here.

My other friend replied

If she doesn’t already have a plan that she is locked into .. she shld jus sign up for one or recontract if it’s due for renewal. The subsidy for the fone is pretty gud. I only paid S$48 for my note4. I use Singtel even tho I have endless issues with them but I feel it is still better than the other 2 telos we have here. 

When it comes to voting for the PAP, 25- 35% of S’poreans, I suspect think like her. Plenty of problems with PAP (like Singtel’s service, the PAP’s servant-leadership sucks). But then there are compensations (like bullying bullying hooligans like Roy and H3: no human rights BS for them; low taxes**; can leave doors unlocked even when no-one in the house; uncongested roads, safe streets etc etc).

And what are the alternatives to the PAP? The Worthless Party that doesn’t to become the governing party, even in coalition with other oppo parties (only loyal courtier leh); SDP whose leader can still go wacko (remember Dr Chee’s remarks about Punggol East); and even NSP (a sensible party after Goh Meng Seng*** moved on and started sliming it) can do strange things. NSP is KPKBing about nothing impt (a lawyer, I’m told, refuses to declare how rich rich she is). Makes one want to weep.

Coming back to SingTel: I couldn’t help but think “Singtel screws footie fans but gives peanuts to disabled?” when I in July I read , Singtel announced yesterday a donation of S$1.1 million to SG Enable, an agency which provides services for disabled people, with the money going towards the setting up and running of the Enabling Innovation Centre (EIC).BT 23 July.

Remember the cost of EPL and World Cup footie.

——-

*”Is Ho Kwon Ping saying all that much? 15 years from now means 2029/30. That’s at least three general elections away!” was posted on facebook by a friend.

**Don’t buy into the BS that CPF is a tax. It has elements of a tax (think retention, limited use and pay now, get back in future when value is deminished), but until the day one the govt stops monies in CPF account being inherited in cash, tax it ain’t. Sorry to disagree with Uncle Leong. I respect or agree with many of his views, but not on CPF being a tax.

***Goh Meng Seng can contradict himself in same paragraph.

It is truly enlightening to see that BOTH people from the “Third World” and “First World” places like Malaysia and Hong Kong are shunning Singapore for “retirement”. But as Singaporeans, do we have a choice at all? We are born in Singapore and we have little choice but live, retire and die in Singapore. However, under PAP rule, we are going to suffer, after decades of contributing to Singapore’s development, we will die poor, having to be forced to sell off our HDB flat for our retirement.

But then he says:

I guess the ultimate aim of PAP has been leaked before, they wanted us to retire in JB (Johor Bahru)!

So waz this about … as Singaporeans, do we have a choice at all? We are born in Singapore and we have little choice but live, retire and die in Singapore.

Come on Goh Meng Seng, think before write. Or at least read back what you just wrote, a second ago.

And we do have a choice to retain our citizenship and live abroad in our old age. M’sia and the Philippines have “silver-hair” programmes fot foreigners. I also know of S’poreans who have sold off their HDB flats and moved onto NZ, Oz and Canada.

As you are personally aware (having sold yr HDB flat to fund the NSP’s campaign in 2011), the high prices of HDB flats gives options to many S’poreans. Whether they take advantage of it, is up to them. If they die, die want to remain here, they have to accept whatever govt, the majority of their fellow S’poreans prefer. At the moment, 60 — 70% prefer the PAP. And with anti-PAP activists like you and the person you advised, Tan Kin Lian, who can blame them?

 

 

 

 

 

Oil crash: US hegemony at work?

In Commodities, Malaysia on 21/10/2014 at 1:16 pm

Lower oil prices … Are they also a potent US weapon against Russia and Iran?

That’s the conclusion drawn by New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman, who says the US and Saudi Arabia, whether by accident or design, could be pumping Russia and Iran to brink of economic collapse.

Despite turmoil in many of the world’s oil-producing countries – Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria – prices are hitting lows not seen in years, Friedman writes.

Rather than look at the causes, however, Friedman says to look at the result – budget shortfalls in Russia and Iran – and what it means.

Who benefits? He asks. The US wants its Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia to have more bite. Both the Saudis and the US are fighting a proxy war against Iran in Syria.

“This is business, but it also has the feel of war by other means: oil,” he writes.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-29651742

Btw, weak oil prices makes it more difficult for M’sia to fund its budget.

Elections before 9/8/15?

In Economy, India, Indonesia, Political economy on 21/10/2014 at 6:13 am

Conventional wisdom is that the next GE will be held after the 50th anniversary celebrations of S’pore’s independence which will be a celebration of all things PAP. So the Oppo parties are not gearing up for an early GE (end of this yr or before Aug 9 next yr.)

And this piece of news doesn’t disturb the narrative:With the January 2017 deadline for the next General Election looming closer, the Elections Department (ELD) has been calling up public servants for training to be election officials, as part of the electoral process … , the ELD said in an emailed statement: “ELD prepares and organises the Public Service to conduct elections in Singapore. Amongst other work, ELD selects and trains public officers on an ongoing basis to perform election duties during an election.” (CNA 17 October)

There have been early training sessions before with no elections following. The conducting of training sessions is a lousy leading indicator.

But think about the economic prospects of S’pore  and the training could be a sign of early elections.

No govt wants to hold a general election in a recession or when a a recession is likely. Already the growth rates for this yr and next yr have had to be trimmed because the global economy isn’t doing too well.

And things could get worse: The global economy is in a woeful state [Skip the next few paras if pressed for time or an illiterate in finance and economics]. The euro zone, fully 17% of global GDP, is predicted to expand just 0.8% in 2014 according to the IMF. China and Japan, together 25% of global GDP, are slowing. Emerging markets are floundering: a report on the synchronised slowdown from the Fund puts much of it down to weak trading partners (a sort of trade contagion). As the world slows, America seems a prudent place to park cash. Chinese and Japanese holdings of US Treasury bonds—now $2.5 trillion—have doubled in five years, according to the TIC data.

… the euro area. Inflation is just 0.3% and the area is already awash with unemployed workers … end up with both fiscal and monetary policy being relatively tight.

What would happen next? American exporters would get hit twice—first by weak demand from abroad, then as their goods get pricier for foreigners to buy as the dollar continues to rise. But since America is a relatively closed economy, the impact abroad could be bigger. The big risk is that a runaway dollar topples emerging-market economies just as it did in the 1980s and 1990s. A pessimist would argue that many of the conditions now are exactly as they were then. Many emerging markets borrow by issuing bonds in dollars, rather than their own currency. Appetite for these higher-yielding dollar bonds has been strong in recent years: in January 2014 Indonesia issued its largest dollar bond since 1998; according to its Finance Ministry data, India has dollar debts of around $273 billion (15% of GDP). As the dollar rises, the local-currency cost of these debts goes up.

Floating exchange rates make things a little different when compared to the Asian crisis, but would not help that much. Take a country like Brazil, which has inflation of 6.75% (see the WSJ on this) and yet an economy in recession. If its currency continues to depreciate against the dollar then inflation builds up further. The central bank ends up in a bind: raise rates to cut inflation and stem the depreciation, or keep rates low to get the economy back on track. Both paths would be risky, and could cause a wider stress if the contagion of previous emerging-market crises is any guide.

With any luck none of this will happen. But it all could happen. And if you are in the business of forecasting and stress testing, you should prepare for the worst.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/10/pessimistic-forecast

So what about the fact that oil prices are close to US$80 from US$105 a few weeks ago

[M]ajor Asian economies, though, will look at falling oil prices less as a stimulant and more as a signal that global growth is faltering. For export-dependent Asia, lacklustre worldwide demand could end up being highly disinflationary.

That’s a big worry for the likes of China, Hong Kong and Singapore. These economies have all seen private credit rise rapidly since the 2008 crisis and need tolerably healthy inflation to help bring down the real value of debt. But China’s 1.6 percent inflation rate is now the lowest since February 2010, while the annual rate of increase in Singapore’s consumer prices has slipped below 1 percent. South Korea, which has historically had a problem of high household debt, can’t afford to allow its meagre 1.1 percent inflation rate to slide further.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/10/17/cheap-oil-is-no-tonic-for-sluggish-asian-economies/*

So I wouldn’t be surprised if 50th anniversary celebration events come fast and furious early next yr: to remind S’poreans of the role of the PAP in S’pore’s development from the second largest port in Asia to a global city state, with property prices to match those of global cities like NY and London.

But I’d be surprised if the PAP reminded us one LKY said in 1959,”we must go about our task (of building up a nation) with urgency … of integrating our people now and quickly”, because he said this when revealing that only 270,00 out of the 600,000 voters were born here. 

—–

*Btw two countries where I have investments will benefit: The big exceptions are India and Indonesia. Both governments supply gasoline and diesel to their consumers at fixed, affordable rates. For them, the 25 percent slide in the price of a barrel of Brent crude over the past four months translates into significant budgetary savings, which could be channelled into much-needed infrastructure investment.

 

 

A delusion? PAP confident it regained lost ground

In Financial competency, Political governance on 20/10/2014 at 5:41 am

Surely not when S’poreans in their 20s and 30s and their parents have difficulties in the PAP’s version of paradise? If these two groups have problems how can the PAP expect to hold the line at 60% of the popular vote? Let alone improve it to 65-66%*.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Singapore Exchange and SIM University sometime back, one Mr Kevin Scully (who has been around in financial services so long that I wonder if he is related to Dracula) puts it: “You cannot rely on your children for financial support because they probably have more debt and cashflow problems than you. My daughter is getting married, and she needs $700,000 to pay for her flat.”*

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid=489390965-20577-4829937219

As the SunT writer put it very succinctly, “My generation has enjoyed the Singapore miracle, so to speak, when big-ticket items such as HDB flats cost a fraction of what they are worth now. If we have difficulties financing our retirement, the next generation will have an even rougher ride.”

And their parents while benefiting from asset appreciation (or inflation, if one is a die, die anti PAP cyber warrior) have a problem, illustrated also by Kevin Sculley:

the costs of food and health care have vastly outpaced the six- and 12-month fixed deposit rates over the past 10 years.

“We need to get returns of at least 3 to 5 per cent on our investments just to stand still. Clearly, this will not come from bank deposits.”

As the SunT writer puts it

He flagged another problem for those of my generation – people in their 40s and 50s – namely, the likelihood that many of us may run out of money during retirement because of inflation.

It was a sobering thought for those of us at the seminar organised by the Singapore Exchange and SIM University.

So how can this be true? [T]he People’s Action Party (PAP) was confident it had regained lost ground since the 2011 general election. Its confidence stemmed, it was said, from a huge survey that it had been conducting over the past few months …  https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/fts-then-1970s-now/

But then S’poreans could be like the victim in a long-term relationship with an abusive partner. A bit less abuse, a bit of tender loving care and the victim is ready to accept more abuse in future.

*I’m assuming that the PAP believes that it needs a clear, biggish majority to ensure that it retains the “moral” right to continue paying PAP ministers their relatively huge salaries while not doing too much to deserve the money (think RI boys Hng Kiang and Yaacob). If it doesn’t, it could resort to very serious gerrymandering so that the 35% core vote (die, die must have PAP) keeps the PAP in power, with the help of egoists Tan Kin Lian (and Goh Meng Seng, his PE 2011 adviser), s/o JBJ and Tan Jee Say, who are more than happy to split the Oppo vote.

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

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

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/want-a-pekatan-here-its-disunited/

 

 

 

 

 

Higher minimum wage, lower unemployment

In Economy, Uncategorized on 19/10/2014 at 4:39 am

Our constructive, nation-building media would never republish or tell this tale of where minimum wages didn’t do what the PAP govt claim it would do: raise unemployment. .

A higher minimum wage in practice – Christopher Flavelle of Bloomberg View argues a $10.10 [£6.27] minimum hourly wage would neither change America for the better nor destroy a million jobs, based on the case study that is Canada.

In 2014 every province in Canada had set its minimum wage at $10 Canadian an hour or higher. British Columbia, which had the biggest increase of any province, saw its unemployment rate fall by almost a full point over the same period, to 6.7 %.

On the other hand, the share of people with low incomes fell just 0.4% in four years, even as the minimum wage increased 16% in real terms during the same period.

“The link with poverty and the minimum wage is almost zero,” Stephen Gordon, an economics professor at the University of Laval in Quebec City, tells Flavelle. “Lots of people who earn the minimum wage are not in poverty, and a lot in poverty don’t earn the minimum wage – the problem is they’re not working, or the number of hours they get.

BBC Online extract

First Iskandar, now Penang: Harry’s having the last laugh?

In Malaysia on 18/10/2014 at 4:30 am

Next stop Selangor?

LKY’s Operation Trojan Horse” of owning M’sia via the DAP is coming thru? Huat Ah!

Let me explain. Sometime back,  I pointed out that S’poreans own Iskandar. True the Johor state govt and federal govt are messing us up. Even Johor’s royalty is joining in.  But at least the founding father of the DAP is now MP of much of Iskandar.

And his son, Penang’s chief minister now says, Penang is vying to become the next hub for Singapore companies’ regional expansion, with the state government open to more opportunities for bilateral partnerships, its Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said on Tuesday (Oct 14).

“We are putting ourselves on the map – that Penang is open for business, and you can set up your plants here at very attractive rates,” said Mr Lim, who was in Singapore to unveil BPO Prime, a S$500 million mixed-use development project led by Singapore investment giant Temasek Holdings and Penang Development Corp (PDC) – the state’s development agency.

“We can complement the role played by Singapore. We have a technology and electronics cluster, and I believe you should use our core competencies in manufacturing to grow your services sector. The key is convergence,” he said.

“Singapore’s investment into Penang jumped from RM61 million (S$23.8 million) to RM622 million between 2012 and 2013. We feel there is room to grow – and what better way to grow than working together? That’s why we have asked Temasek to come in, not just as an investor but also as a player,” …

BPO Prime and Penang International Technology Park (PITP), the two Penang projects outlined in a memorandum of understanding that Temasek and PDC signed in May, will have a total development value of about S$4.4 billion.

The developments will be funded via a joint venture that is 49 per cent owned by Temasek.

BPO Prime will break ground in the first half of next year and construction will take two to three years. When completed, it will offer 1.6 million sq ft of residential and commercial space. The commercial element will focus on business process outsourcing.

“Penang’s outsourcing sector saw more than a 20 per cent increase in revenue last year. BPO Prime is a priority project that is part of the state government’s plans to transform Penang into an international outsourcing hub,” Mr Lim said.

Penang can be a sound alternative for Singapore companies to expand in Malaysia at a time when all eyes are on the nearby Iskandar region, said Mr Philip Yeo, chairman of Economic Development Innovations Singapore (EDIS), the project’s master development manager.

“I’m looking for skilled workers, in which case Penang has a better advantage … Iskandar is near enough – but I’ll go where the skill is,” Mr Yeo said, citing his own experience as a chairman of aerospace component manufacturer Accuron, which is planning to grow its workforce of 800 to 1,000 in Penang.

“I believe talent will be a strong selling point for Penang, where spaces such as BPO and PITP will be ideal for high-end activities from Singapore and elsewhere,” he said. CNA

Btw, it’a fact that Penang became a DAP state, the xchief minister came down to S’pore to brief LKY. He said so in a seminar I attended.

Maybe, S’pore’s hegemony over Iskandar and Penang is the real reason why LKY’s Merger radio talks were reprinted. A subtle joke that he’s having the last laugh.

FTs then (1970s) & now

In Economy on 17/10/2014 at 6:18 am

In a response to the PM’s latest remarks on FTs (“no more tightening” and “don’t blame FTs for everything”) at a public lecture organized by the National University of Singapore Society on 3 October, a TRE poster wrote

In the 70s and 80s, Singapore already had FTs (Japanese, Germans etc) into our country. They were few and they were the real talents; working alongside our Singapore workers and also taught us their skills and knowledge.

He has a point. I had a friend who was a PR in the 80s. Despite winning a gold medal from NUS, she didn’t find it that easy to get a job because she needed an employment pass. It wasn’t easy for anyone without working experience, even a gold medalist,  to secure one in the late 70s. It was “S’poreans first and last when it came to fresh graduates”. And it wasn’t that easy to become a citizen either. Heck, it wasn’t even easy to get PR status unless one was a M’sian Chinese professional or an extremely rich Indonesian Chinese. Nowadays, PR is juz toilet paper: even a slutty looking, violent, cheating shop assistant can secure one.

Today, we have all the fake talents from PRC, India and Philippines and even from Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam and also Europe and US – all with dubious degrees, knowledge and skills. Worst still, these are the people who are taking away the PMET jobs and also our fresh grads jobs. Lee Hsien Loong – let me repeat this into your ear again ! We didn’t say no FT – please can you define what FT is and bring in only the real FT ok ? Not your open leg policy in allowing any Ah Nieh or Ying and Yang to come into SG please.

I agree with the sentiments expressed, esp the bit about faked qualifications.

(Related post : https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/hong-lim-park-the-private-property-of-the-granndfathers-of-roy-hui-hui/)

He ends

SG does not belong to everyone and certainly SG does not belong to you or … ! We will kick your butt out in the next GE !

Lots of S’poreans still want to kick PM’s butt. Issue is how many more (or as is more likely) less from GE and PE 2011 (Sadly, S’porans are easily satisfied, or shld it be conned?). A few weeks ago Alex Au blogged, heard from a friend who heard from another friend (whom I also know – this one’s in academia) that the People’s Action Party (PAP) was confident it had regained lost ground since the 2011 general election. Its confidence stemmed, it was said, from a huge survey that it had been conducting over the past few months and which, by the next general election, will have reached every household in Singapore …

Actually I had heard about the result of this “survey” but had not heard of anyone who had been approached, So I kept quiet. Alex gives more details.  http://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/survey-asked-about-my-confidence-in-the-lee-hsien-loong-government/

The govt has been throwing more of our money at S’poreans what with Pioneer Generation “goodies”, public tpt etc spending. Juz try to remember that our money the PAP govt is spending on S’poreans is “peanuts”. We’ll have another budget surplus this yr, not the estimated tiny “deficit”. I can say more about the peanuts we are getting, but I’ll leave it for another time.

Reit that has refunded all its debts/ Property is all about financing

In Property, Reits on 16/10/2014 at 4:17 am

… listed developers and real-estate investment trusts (REITs) face their heaviest burden of near-term maturities on record just as home prices drop.

The 80 property companies on Singapore’s stock exchange reported a combined S$23.5 billion of borrowings that have to be repaid within a year in their latest filings, Bloomberg-compiled data show. The looming debt wall comes as the vacancy rate for condominiums soared to the highest since 2006, pushing prices to the lowest in almost two years, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed.

 Savills predicts refinancing for home builders and REITs will be more challenging as Singapore’s economy slows, with expansion cooling to 2.4 per cent in the second quarter, from 4.8 per cent in the previous three months. Population growth on the island is at a 10-year low and Standard & Poor’s expects home prices have further to fall.

“We’re at that point in the cycle when every quarter you’re seeing selling prices come down a little bit and secondary market transactions aren’t very active,” said Ms Kah Ling Chan, a property analyst at S&P in Singapore. “I suspect we haven’t seen the bottom yet.” Bloomberg

But Frasers Commercial Trust (FCOT) has obtained enough loan facilities to refinance all of its outstanding borrowings, most of which would have been due in the next financial year.

The commercial real estate investment trust (Reit) announced on Monday that it had obtained a S$365 million five-year syndicated term loan facility and a S$180 million three-year syndicated term loan facility.

It had also taken an A$135 million (S$154 million) four-year syndicated term loan facility.

The new facilities are unsecured and are expected to be used by end-September to refinance all of the trust’s outstanding loan facilities. (BT 16 September).

I had been thinking of selling FCOT because its tai kor (Thai tycoon that controls F&N is up to his eyeballs in debt) and because of the debts coming due at FCOT. I’ll hang on a bit more as mgt is innovative as this 2012 deal shows..

But in general,

REITs are in better shape than listed developers because they started refinancing with longer tenor debt ahead of rising interest rates, said S&P.

“For the REITs, I don’t see a major problem yet,” Ms Chan said. “The bigger players are still getting good rates and valuations haven’t fallen dramatically,” she said.

Other bits of Bloomberg’s report.

Developers

Developers of residential homes are suffering not so much from lower selling prices than “collapsed” sales volumes, said Mr Alan Cheong, a senior director of real-estate research at Savills in Singapore.

Secondary home sales plunged to the lowest since 2003 in the first quarter, URA data showed, and as business slows, builders with less pre-sales money to finish projects have to rely on loans, boosting short-term borrowings, he said by phone on Oct 2.

Despite the weaker demand, the number of new residential dwellings being built remains high. Units under construction reached a record in the second quarter of last year and about 65,270 apartments were in the pipeline as of June 30, URA data show.

Regulatory measures have been introduced to damp the market. Between 2009 and mid-2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore implemented eight rounds of property cooling measures to address concerns the low interest rate environment would lead to a property price bubble, Moody’s Investors Service said in an Oct 6 report.

Appetite to buy is already curbed and rents could fall further, said S&P’s Ms Chan. “We haven’t seen the full impact yet.”

The 42 listed developers on Singapore’s exchange reported S$13.4 billion of short-term borrowings in their latest filings, 42.5 per cent more than a year earlier, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

City Developments posted debt of S$1.66 billion in the second quarter, 48.6 per cent more than at the end of 2013. Second-quarter net income fell 33 per cent, it said in August, and the company is looking to expand overseas to offset declining demand in Singapore. A spokeswoman for City Developments said the company has a strong financial position, noting its cash of S$3.4 billion and 33 per cent net gearing ratio.

The three-month swap offer rate, a measure of borrowing costs in Singapore, touched 0.2561 per cent on Sept 16, the highest since June last year.

Hiap Hoe, which recently started selling apartments in its prestigious Skyline 360 building, reported short-term borrowings of S$287.6 million for the quarter to June 30, 94 per cent more than the S$147.9 million for the three months to December. A spokesman for Hiap Hoe declined to comment.

Developers on the island are changing their business models and reducing exposure to the local market, said Singapore-based Mr Tim Gibson, who helps run Henderson Global Investors’ global property equities fund.

“By buying Singapore developers now you’re really buying exposure outside of Singapore and into markets like China,” he said in an interview on Oct 8. It “doesn’t give you a huge amount of confidence that a turnaround in the residential market is coming any time soon”, he added.

Starhill Reit/ Retail Reits

Starhill Global REIT, which has S$124 million of notes that mature in July, reported S$129.1 million of short-term borrowings as of June 30, more than double the amount it had in December last year.

Retail occupancy rates at the trust’s flagship Wisma Atria mall along Singapore’s Orchard Road slipped to 98.5 per cent in June from 99.5 per cent at the end of 2012, company data showed. Office occupancy rates are 100 per cent.

Mr Jonathan Kuah, a Singapore-based spokesman for Starhill, said the company has already refinanced its debt due within the coming 12 months. “The leverage situation hasn’t worsened,” he said by email on Oct 7.

Retail sales, which affect revenue at some REITs, decreased for four of the past five months, the worst performance in two years, data from Singapore’s Department of Statistics showed. Excluding motor vehicles, sales dropped 0.4 per cent in July versus the previous corresponding period.

“Singaporeans don’t shop here any more,” Savills’ Mr Cheong said. “Travelling has become so cheap and they buy more stuff on the Internet. The Chinese have also been avoiding Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand since the MH370 tragedy,” he added, referring to the Malaysia Airlines flight missing since March.

Arrivals of tourists from North Asia, which typically comprise more than a quarter of visitors, slumped almost 13 per cent the first seven months of 2014 from a year earlier, Singapore Tourism Board data showed.

“In 2008, when the refinancing situation was quite bad, the REITs still managed to pull through,” said Mr Danny Tan, a Singapore-based fund manager at Eastspring Investments, which managed US$115 billion (S$146 billion) of assets as of June 30. “There’s a high probability these REITs will be able to refinance especially because the loan market is also open to them.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-09/singapore-condo-builders-brace-as-19-billion-due-asean-credit.html

Further reading

(7 Oct 2014)    Falling property prices in Singapore – one the world’s most expensive housing markets – have provided some much needed relief for the nation’s banking sector, analysts told CNBC.

“The gradual decline in property prices is credit positive for Singapore banks because it relieves pressure on bank asset quality,” Moody’s analysts said in a note published Monday.

“Further price increases would have increased the risk of a real estate price bubble bursting,” they added.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102064529

SMRT is dysfunctional, still/ Why unaffordable CoEs should make S’poreans happy

In Financial competency, Infrastructure on 15/10/2014 at 4:52 am

What was SMRT thinking?

SMRT said on Monday it had decided against making a takeover bid for Addison Lee, London’s biggest minicab operator after

Britain’s Sky News reported over the weekend that SMRT was planning a £800m (S$1.6bn) for Addison*.

It shouldn’t have even tot of bidding because SMRT’s market capitalisation of S$2.3bn was only 30% more than reported bid price.. It’s finances are not in great shape either. At the end of its last financial yr, cash flow was negative and gearing stood at 65%, while it also suffered its first loss in its fare business.

It also has operational problems here.

So what were the ex-scholar and his fellow ex-SAF officers thinking?

Plenty of things to do in S’pore (including more reliable service) and it doesn’t need any distraction abroad,”

And going abroad in a political nightmare for the govt and SMRT: if it loses money, S’poreans will be screaming (rightly) that the public is subsidising their failure overseas.

The investment bank that brought a proposal to SMRT to bid should have been sent packing immediately, not entertained enough so that a staff member would leak that SMRT was planning to bid.

Happinness is taking public tpt

It’s ’cause commuting by public transport makes people happy.

No this isn’t ST propoganda for the the PAP govt, LTA, SMRT or ComfortDelgro/ SBS.

But a study in the UK where cars don’t cost a fortune, and where the public are unhappy with expensive and crowded public transport.

The University of East Anglia study surveyed 18,000 passengers and found that even when other factors that may affect wellbeing were taken out of the equation commuters who travelled to work on public transport were happier (that is, scored lower on feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness and sleeplessness) than those who drove. Key to it all is what public health experts call “active travel”. Drivers are choosing a “non-passive travel mode” requiring constant concentration. This can be boring, isolating and stressful. Active travellers, on the other hand, have time to relax. The simple walk to and from the station appears to have intrinsic value. As the UEA economist who led the study put it: “It appears to cheer people up.”

While we’re putting things simply, apparently the people who chose to take public transport were around half a stone lighter, too – the bodyweight benefits were found to be on a par with cycling. I don’t wish to do down the car, and perhaps I’m unusual in some ways – my commute is often the only hour in my day that is truly my own, which must go some way to making it special. If I had all day to read and listen to podcasts and radio programmes, perhaps I’d feel differently. But who has all day to do those things? Moreover, who wouldn’t feel better if they added half an hour or so of moderate exercise to their daily routine?

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/28/why-commuting-public-transport-makes-you-happy-lauren-laverne

The LTA and our constructive, nation-building media missed a PR trick when they disn’t highlight the UK study (The Guardian is the kind of paper that only Maruah-type people and economic illiterates like Roy read) when trumpeting, The number of bus services that were crowded during peak periods has fallen substantially over the past two years, following the addition of 450 buses under the Government’s Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP).

‘Giving an update on the programme, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the number of bus services carrying passengers at more than 85 per cent capacity during peak hours had fallen from 96 before the implementation of the BSEP to 38 in July.

The S$1.1 billion BSEP was launched in 2012 to boost connectivity and bus-service levels. Under the programme, a total of 1,000 government-funded buses will be added to the public transport network by 2017. [CNA]

The media went ape reporting the joy of commuters at the extra buses.

Locals can still afford CoEs

So we learnt last week that FTs didn’t cause CoE prices to (only 13% went to foreigners, Wonder waz the PR %? As usual not given.

———————

*Addison Lee is being put up for sale by its private equity owner, Carlyle Group, which paid £300 million for a majority stake in April 2013. Carlyle has decided to start an auction process after receiving unsolicited offers for the business.

Private equity firms BC Partners, CVC Capital and Charterhouse were reportedly among those making bids.

 

 

PRC GLCs’ CEOs put our ministers to shame

In China, Humour, S'pore Inc on 14/10/2014 at 5:22 am

CEO pay

As the above shows, they are paid a pittance

Yet FT reports that as their pay is being cut by up to 60%, “The biggest difference between China and western countries is that we pursue the goal of getting rich together,” Fu Chengyu, head of the country’s largest refiner, told reporters. “If you want to earn big sums, you should not be an SOE executive.” (“SOE” is State Owned Enterprice i.e a GLC or TLC).

Need I say more?

[M]oney is by far the least [important factor]” when choosing where to work. At this level it can’t be painful, right? The job we’re doing is a vocation. All of us like to be paid whatever is deemed competitive in the market, but it’s not the main driver.”” said the CEO of Switzerland’s third largest bank who has had to cut his pay by 12% because shareholders were unhappy.

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/hen-jost-gracef-money-money-money/

What Hui Hui & WP have in common

In Uncategorized on 13/10/2014 at 4:29 am

PritamS (plays footie with PAP MPs and wants a coalition with the PAP), Yaw (remember him? I hope Mrs Yaw hasn’t repented of her decision to stand by her man.) and Hui Hui are from Jurong Junior college.

I’m sure ISD is monitoring the teachers there. Two WP MPs and one young crow from the same JC is worrying for the future prosperity of S’pore.

Teachers in JJC should be afraid, very afraid. Actually whoever is responsible for civic responsibility should be proud of having two WP MPs as old boys, though concerned about Hui Hui’s inability to tell the truth, and Yaw’s philandering. And so should the person who tot General Paper to Hui Hui. Go read her blog. She can’t think logically and rationally.

Update at 4.49am: Came across this disliked TRE post which sums up my views on KPKB Princess

Sangrawi:

what is wrong with HHH?

She has a persecution complex. When she wears the T-shirt that says “WANT TO SUE ME” , she is really challenging the authorities to take strong actions against her and she will go out to create trouble, even if means disrupting an event for the less fortunate to achieve her aims.

This girl has shown time and again that she will exaggerate and lie to get public sympathy and support. as much as I support a credible moderate opposition, I think HHH is nothing but a mindless trouble-maker and doing much to destroy the credibility of opposition.

I urge the government to rise up to her challenge and SUE her.

Hear, hear.

Btw, another reason why I dislike her is because as quai lan person she is always trying to avoid the consequences of her actions.

Want to be quai lan, have to accept the consequences of one’s actions. “Live by the sword, be prepared to die by the sword,” has been one of my mottoes.

 

Police offered canteen meal break to H3, she declined

In Public Administration, Uncategorized on 12/10/2014 at 10:04 am

Then KPKB that she was denied food. The drama princess wanted restaurant food at People’s Park is it?

Let me explain.

I awaited with interest the police’s response to the following allegations made by New Citizen H3

— she wasn’t allowed to eat despite being interviewd for over seven hours (“her request for food was denied. She was also not allowed to leave PCC for dinner,” her cheer leader TRE wrote.); and

— the police took away her notes of the interview.

These seemed contrary to the “right” procedure.

In this morning’s SunT, the police said that she had declined a break for dinner. So it seems she was allowed to eat in the police canteen but she declined. She wanted something better*? People’s Park gourmet food?. What can I say? Hui Hui has a terrible record when it comes to telling the truth.

[Update at 2.20pm: TOC reports

The police also said it was Ms Han who had “declined an offer to take a break for dinner.”

However, Ms Han said she was told – at about 5pm – that the interview would only last a further 30 minutes. This was why she decided not to have the dinner break.

As it turned out, the interview took another 4 hours or so and only ended at 9.30pm.

http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/10/police-deny-visiting-han-hui-hui-at-midnight/

Juz wondering: when interview went beyond 6.00pm, did she ask for a meal break? And if “No”, why not? And if she asked for a break, but wasn’t given one, why doesn’t she now KPKB about it?]

 

On the taking away of her notes, I’ll wait for further details to emerge before commenting. But this I will say: Many yrs ago when I was interviewed by the CAD on whether my actions could amount to a crime, I recollect being offered pen and paper so that I could take notes. When I declined, the officer said,”Sure or not?”. I said I would be signing a police statement and if I disagrred I wouldn’t sign.

Btw, can confirm that there is no truth in the allegation that SGH’s A&E was flooded with policemen and women with fang and claw wounds. Still trying to confirm that H3’s police interviewer is being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms.

[Update at 2.25pm: Can also confirm not true that any police person was given anti-rabies vaccination.]

Reminds me of Pussy Lim and other M’sian Chinese https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/not-damaged-cd-like-cat-lim-still-holding-reits-and-dividend-stocks/

Why S’pore cannot be as creative as Silicon Valley

In Economy on 12/10/2014 at 4:36 am

S’pore isn’t California.

In 1989,Jonathan Ives, now Apple’s designer and Sir Jonathan,  left England and made his first trip to Silicon Valley.

“I was just blown away by the optimism and enthusiasm [in California] that provided such a fantastic environment to try and develop new ideas,” …. “It’s very difficult to develop new ideas in the context of cynicism and sarcasm. It makes for good comedy but it’s a horrible way of trying to develop products.” (FT report)

In S’pore we can’t even make good comedy because we don’t do sarcasm, but the place is terribly cynical, so how to develop new ideas?

 

Another week another view on the best Asean mkts

In Malaysia on 11/10/2014 at 1:59 pm

Ilan Solot, EM currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman, lists three variables to look for: currencies that have levelled off after devaluation; low inflation; and large exports. Asian economies such as the Philippines, Malaysia and South Korea fit the bill. (FT on Monday)

Last Sunday, I reported reported https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/spore-msia-not-attractive-indonesia-is/

Exposed “troll” found dead

In Internet, Uncategorized on 11/10/2014 at 4:57 am

Trolls are sensitive to exposure. In European mythologoy, trolls lived in the dark and froze to stone when exposed to light. “The Hobbit” (the book at least) has one such example.

So hunt out and expose the PAP IB. Less PAPpies come next GE. Oppo needs all the votes it can muster.

More on the dead “troll” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leicestershire-29501646.

And The Sun quotes research that suggests as many as one million Britons could be considered internet trolls.

Jamie Bartlett, who has researched the phenomenon, writes a feature in which he says trolls rarely fit the “crackpot outsider” stereotype.

“Often they are angry with the world and feel they’ve been hard done by in some way. And social media gives them a place to air it, a bit like shouting at the television.

“Often they are lonely or have low self-esteem. But others think trolling is an art form, a way of defending free speech.

“When a victim hits back, it makes the troll feel like a somebody – instead of a nobody.”

Food prices & inflation will go up Minister

In Malaysia, Uncategorized on 10/10/2014 at 6:34 am

Not “could” because of the toll increases.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck told Parliament on Tuesday that consumers could be affected by affected by “pass-through impact” on inflation. “In particular, as some of our food imports and lifestyle and furniture products are transported via the Causeway, the higher land transport cost may be passed on to consumers.” 

However, he suggested that any such impact on consumers is expected to be small, as the majority of Singapore’s food imports and lifestyle and furniture products are still transported by sea or air. (BT on Wednesday).

Er eggs and vegetables come via Causeway.

He said that the government would continue to monitor the impact of the toll hikes.

What for? Not as though S’pore will unilaterally lower tolls* if price rises occur.

The Causeway toll hikes could affect the profit margins of some Singapore-based small and medium enterprises or SMEs, even though they are generally expected to have a limited impact on businesses here,

Again “could” should be “will”.

The impact on economic activity is likely to be small because land transport costs constitute a small proportion of total business costs – only around 3 per cent for companies in the manufacturing sector and one per cent for those in services. Even so, Mr Teo noted that some firms could be more affected than others. “In particular, SMEs in the sectors such as the food and wholesale sectors that frequently transport materials and goods across the Causeway would likely see a larger increase in land transport costs. Logistics firms offering trucking services via the Causeway may also pass on the increase in toll charges to SMEs.”

Not “may” but “will”.

Still want to invest in Iskandar, SMEs? Or buy property there?

Update on 12 October at 1.50pm: Look at the increase and tell if that prices will not go up

image

*On the issue of matching M’sia’s tolls, the govt is right to match the M’ian tolls and publicly forewarn the M’sians about it. If S’pore doesn’t match, then the M’sians have every incentive to raise prices so as to maximise revenue at the expense of S’pore’s economy.. By matching, S’pore forces the M’sians to take into account the effect of S’pore matching the rises in its calculations. As to the public forewarning, this shows that having scholars in govt has its uses. It is game theory in action, just like the doctrine of mutually assured destruction which kept the Cold War turning into a nuclear war.

No need to change Hong Lim Park rules

In Political governance on 09/10/2014 at 5:04 am

(Update on 10 September at 6pm: Police investigating protest participants for “unlawful assembly, ””Police did not approve your permit regarding the march,” the police officer told Han Hui Hui on 27 September. As I said earlier, see below, sure can something to charge Roy, H3 etc.)

 

The govt is opportunistically using the hooliganish behaviour (as evidenced by Yahoo, and ToC’s videos) of Roy, H3 and gang (even Dr Chee, once Mad Dog Chee until he underwent treatment, and TOC say they were wrong to disrupt the YMCA’s event) to suggest that changes to the rules are in order and are being planned. It would say this wouldn’t it? Anything to make it more difficult for S’poreans to voice their dissent and unhappiness with govt policies.

There is really no need to make changes.Roy, New Citizen H3 and friends are exceptions to the rule that S’poreans are respectful of others in public. In fact, we are too respectful of others in public. But as overnight litter on the beaches show, when no one is watching things are different.

Juz throw Roy and New Citizen H3 into jail for a few weeks (sure can find a suitable charge). Maybe even put them into isolation. As this article shows people even confess to crimes they never committed when isloated .http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2014/newsspec_7617/index.html. Happened in a country not known for rough interrogation methods, and which respects human dignity and rights.

(Related post: How ISD gets its confessions)

Other wannabe Roys and H3 will take heed.

But doesn’t this sound like tearing off the wings of two noisy, aggressive young crows to frighten the sheep, chickens and monkeys? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s better than making new rules to make protesting more difficult.

And deport Han Hui Hui: she is “trash” not “talent”, and anyway she hates the S’porean traits of hard work, telling the truth, and civility (Go read her blog). How she became a New Citizen is beyond me. But then how did Yang Yin and ang moh awaiting trial  become  PRs, andtwo-timing Raj become a New Citizen? And how SGX’s CEO and president get the posts?

 

 

The truth about university rankings

In Uncategorized on 08/10/2014 at 4:51 am

Some time back there was a spate of articles in our constructive, nation-building media telling us how well our unis (SMU excluded) are doing in global rankings. This is a yearly occurence as the league tables are published around this time, the traditional start of the university yr.

I’ve always wondered how the various league tables are compiled. Recently I found out.

How does a university get to the top of the rankings? And why does such a small group of institutions seem to have an iron grip on the top places?

The biggest single factor in the QS rankings is academic reputation. This is calculated by surveying more than 60,000 academics around the world about their opinion on the merits of institutions other than their own.

Ben Sowter, managing director of the QS, says this means that universities with an established name and a strong brand are likely to do better.

The next biggest factor – “citations per faculty” – looks at the strength of research in universities, calculated in terms of the number of times research work is cited by other researchers.

The ratio of academic staff to students represents another big chunk of how the rankings are decided.

Big brands

These three elements, reputation, research citations and staff ratios, account for four-fifths of the rankings. And there are also marks for being more international, in terms of academic staff and students.

As a template for success, it means that the winners are likely to be large, prestigious, research-intensive universities, with strong science departments and lots of international collaborations.

Is that a fair way to rank universities? It makes no reference to the quality of teaching or the abilities of students?

“We don’t take an exhaustive view of what universities are doing,” says Mr Sowter.

“It’s always going to be a blunt instrument,” which he says is both the strength and weakness of such lists.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29086590

Hong Lim Park the private property of the granndfathers of Roy & Hui Hui

In Uncategorized on 07/10/2014 at 4:31 am

And Hui Hui’s grandfathers are not even S’poreans, what with she being a New Citizen*

Taz what I tot when I read

When Hui Hui … had wanted to set up the tentage on Thursday, she found that YMCA had set up their tentages all over the main field at Hong Lim Park. Where we would usually set up a tentage, we could not. And so, we had to forgo the tentage.

It was only when we got to the park on the day of the protest itself that someone who identified himself as a director of NParks … insisted that we use only a portion of the park in a more secluded area. It was not a choice given to us, there was no discussion or compromise. …

Also, why did YMCA not come and negotiate the use of the space? Why was it NParks which had to dictate to us to move.

(Roy’s account)

And New Citizen H3’s rant,

“Why must YMCA hold their event at Hong Lim Park when they have other alternatives?”

Their sense of entitlement is astounding, even more than ministers’ view that they are entitled to megabucks.

In the first place, YMCA had booked the place earlier contrary to 3H’s assertions that she was first to chop (But then she always lidatt: lying or making misrepresentations of facts**).

In the second place, YMCA’s people were at Hong Lim a lot earlier to set up their tents. If 3H had set up her tent and stage first, I wouldn’t be attacking Roy’s and her sense of entitlement: First in, best dressed.

Next, given her reputation for aggressive behaviour (Watching TOC’s video, I felt sorry for the Parks office and policemen, even though she was within her rights to ask for their credentials. Ever heard of being polite? Or H3 blaming her behaviour on her parents and teachers? She never at fault for anything.), I don’t blame YMCA for not wanting to talk to her.

My next point is that Roy and 3H did march to the stage area to KPKB. As one of the many organisers at several mini-bond events, I know it’s a gd five minutes walk to the PA stage from the mound. If Roy and 3H had remained at the mound, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

As to their denials of not heckling, based on the TOC video which they say shows they didn’t heckle, they were shouting slogans in the interval between performances and didn’t stop when the Special needs kids came out. Took them some some time to realise the implications of their disrupting the kids’ gig.

Until they moved on, they were heckling the kids. If they had stopped shouting when the kids emerged, I would agree that there was no heckling. But they didn’t stop did they? Taz heckling the kids. Was there ill-intent towards the kids. I doubt it. But going by what Roy said, they would have cont’d disrupting any other performance. .

Finally, if Pinoys can use Hong Lim, why can’t YMCA? Looks like these two activists are FT lovers who hate a local NGO?

————————-

*Someone at Home Team made an honest mistake allowing her to be a citizen. Same guy as allowed two-timing Raj in and approved PR staus for ang moh awaiting trial?

**She claimed that the kids were “pushed” out to fix her gang. Well I saw the clip which she claims proves her right. IMHO doesn’t. The kids came out taz all. No “push”. Hui Hui also accused the police of wanting to arrest her. The TOC video shows no such thing. Let’s face it. She likes to say things that are not true. Other examples:

— crowd of size at her rallies 3,000 can become 6,000 and 500 become 1000;

— change of timing of YMCA event meant to sabo her event. There is evidence that the YMCA event was not changed at the last minute as she alleges.

Would you buy a used car or life insurance policy from her. I wouldn’t. Yet this New Citizen and her BF claims to speak for me. What arrogance. If they hadn’t I’d cut them a lot of slack. But they claim to speak for me.

F1- Only two other countries pay higher fees

In Economy, Tourism on 05/10/2014 at 6:07 pm

Singapore pays US$65m (S$83.3m) a year to bring F1 here. Only Malaysia and Abu Dhabi pay more.(BBC report).

Monaco is the only place that doesn’t pay.

So our “iconic” race is not cheap. Remember this when you read how much money F1 brings here.

The cost for organizing each race is approximately S$150 million dollars, with the government paying about 60% of the costs. And the fee is 55.6% of the cost). The government claims that each race generates about S$150 million in tourism receipts. So sounds like breakeven to me only, without taking into account the inconvenience to commuters and the lost sales at Suntec.

Worse, ticket sales are falling. More than 84,450 tickets were sold for the 2014 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, slightly lower than last year but the third highest attendance since the inaugural race in 2008.Back in 2008, 100,000 tickets were snapped up as Singapore successfully pulled off the world’s first F1 night race on a street circuit.

S’pore, M’sia not attractive, Indonesia is

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 05/10/2014 at 4:37 am

In a late Sept report, FT reported that the Barings Fund mgr managing an Asean fund is cautious about topping up his exposure to Singapore and Malaysia due to fears about their economic growth prospects.
Mr Lim has large underweight positions in both countries via his $592.4m Asean Frontiers fund, which targets members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Singapore makes up almost 30 per cent of the portfolio, compared with 33.7 per cent within the benchmark MSCI South East Asia index. The manager has just over 19 per cent in Malaysia, against the index’s 26.5 per cent.
In July, data showed the Singaporean economy had contracted on a quarterly basis for the first time in two years, while Malaysia is going through a process of budget deficit reduction and may miss its 2014 target.

“Singapore and Malaysia are more developed than the rest of the Asean countries … This makes them more expensive and in the long term they don’t have as good growth potential.

“In terms of size, Malaysia is much smaller than the countries we favour, such as Indonesia, so it is less likely to expand rapidly.”
Mr Lim said he can still find selective opportunities in Malaysia, but ones which do not necessarily rely on the domestic economy. Tune Insurance, an online travel-insurance provider based in the country, is one of the latest additions to his portfolio.

“Tune allows us to access the tourism market without investing in airlines, which have to deal with a lot of regulation and are [involved] in price wars,” he said.

In general, he finds growth companies in Indonesia and the Philippines more enticing.

Baring ASEAN frontiers … holds a 3 per cent overweight position in Indonesia. He is confident 2015 will be a strong year for the country, given that the macroeconomic environment has improved.

Investors had been wary of Indonesia as they awaited the results of presidential elections in July. However, as Joko Widodo has been elected and interest rates are expected to rise next year, Mr Lim said there is now a positive outlook.

… had mixed feelings about Thailand, which makes up 15.1 per cent of his portfolio. This is in line with the benchmark.
“Thailand has a higher risk than the rest of the countries in the region, as there remains a lot of political uncertainty around the constitution,” …

In July, Thailand adopted an interim constitution ahead of the October 2015 elections. This constitution preserves the military-led government, called the National Council for Peace and Order.

PRCs in Iskandar (con’td) and other M’sian property tales

In Malaysia, Property on 04/10/2014 at 7:36 am

There are media reports that Sichuan Sanjia is trying to sell its project site in Iskandar. This follows news that PRC developers and buyers are wrecking the condo market in Iskandar.  http://business.asiaone.com/news/concern-over-china-firms-launches-iskandar

After complaining that the PRC developers and buyers are spoiling the condo mkt in Iskandar, FD Iskandar, president of Malaysia’s national organisation of developers, the Real Estate & Housing Developers Association (Rehda), tried to spin the story in favour of buying M’sian property.

But Iskandar is bigger than Nusajaya or Danga Bay, he said, adding that demand for landed homes still “looks very strong”.

Mr Iskandar noted that many Singaporean buyers prefer to buy from Singapore developers or reputable Malaysian developers.

There has also been much interest from Singaporean investors in industrial as well as commercial properties.

Meanwhile, other hot property spots in Malaysia such as Penang and Greater Kuala Lumpur are likely to be shielded from the supply glut in Iskandar as strong population growth in these areas is still supporting fundamental demand for housing, according to Mr Iskandar.

[Qn: what happens if PRC developers start moving into Penang and KL? Sure spoil mkt?]

Kuala Lumpur’s population is six million and could grow to 10 million by 2020 through demographic growth, urbanisation and intra-state migration.

Mr Iskandar estimated that this would translate to some 170,000 homes to be built each year, based on the assumption of four persons per household.

Investment yields from residential properties in Penang and Kuala Lumpur are likely to hold up in the region of 5 to 8 per cent while commercial properties could reap higher yields, Mr Iskandar projected.

The retail segment has also emerged as a strong component, with Kuala Lumpur being ranked by global news network CNN as the fourth-best city in the world for shopping after New York, London and Tokyo.

With the upcoming high-speed rail between Singapore and Malaysia expected to cut travelling time from 51/2 hours to just 90 minutes, both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore will benefit from greater inter-city travelling and cross-border investments, Mr Iskandar said.

Still, he is not asking potential buyers to completely snub Iskandar that he believes to be a “highly investable location”.

But Mr Iskandar has a piece of advice: “Please look at the quality of the developers. Be savvy investors. If it’s for owner-occupation, there’s no worry whatsoever but if it is for investment, you need to do due diligence before buying.”

 

Roy’s & New Citizen H3 should go to HK

In China, Hong Kong, Political governance on 03/10/2014 at 4:35 am

And observe, research and analyse how the students and other protesters are doing things in such a way that caused a Mainland Chinese official visiting Hong Kong to say, “It’s so amazing they can organise such an orderly, peaceful and self-disciplined protest.” (FT).

As at the time of writing, these protestors have behaved in such a way no-one can reasonably fault their behaviour even though what they are doing is technically, illegal: they don’t have permission to protest.

A walk among the tens of thousands clustered around the Admiralty district in Hong Kong feels more like attending a music festival than a protest. The demographic of those calling for representative elections in 2017 is mostly twentysomething or younger – some are in school uniforms. Volunteers hand out snacks, drinks, and goggles to defend against pepper spray, though there has been no sign of any since the first day’s ruckus. Volunteers shepherd new arrivals away from overcrowded areas; others hand out home-made flyers on how to remain calm if provoked.

Anyone can be violent, but keeping protest this calm requires strategy. According to many non-violence theorists, the only way to confront a muscular government like China’s is to train, plan, stay calm and kill the enemy with kindness.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2014/10/01/hong-kong-harmony-hits-beijings-worst-fears/

But somehow going by TOC’s video* showing at the very least showing Roy, H3 and friends shouting their slogans in front of special needs kids, I suspect that the lessons the HK protesters can teach S’poreans will be lost on them and their very vocal defender of their actions Goh Meng Seng (who is in HK). Too bad because

What’s most impressive is that the orderliness is basically self-generated. While some training had taken place beforehand, much of the co-ordination among the protesters has been ad hoc, with more experienced protesters conducting on-the-spot education, according to one organizer. Supplies are requested via social networks and Google Docs. Meanwhile, the crowds have the element of surprise on their side. Protests were still spreading to previously untouched areas today, including the high-end shopping district Tsim Sha Tsui, a magnet for mainland tourists.

Thankfully we have Cherian George there. He can perhaps observe, research and analyse, and then teach teach S’poreans how to ensure that social movements can be emotionally charged but peaceful, disruptive but harmonious.

If that happens, the govt and the administrators will rue the decisions that forced him to move on to HK. Cometh the our, cometh the man.

———-

*Recommended viewing by H3 and Roy to support their view that they didn’t “heckle” the special needs kids. My view is that they are trying to be pedants. The usage of the word “heckle” has evolved to encompass their actions.

This is a neutral report of the scene: When Yahoo Singapore visited Hong Lim Park just before 5pm on Saturday, Ngerng and Han were leading about 100 protesters in circles around a large tented area where people attending the YMCA event were seated, waving large and small Singapore flags and chanting “Return our CPF!” and “PAP, vote them out!” through microphones connected to speakers placed on the outskirts of the YMCA event area.

At at least one point, Ngerng and Han led the group of protesters near the front of the permanent stage at Hong Lim Park, where performances by various youth groups, including one by special needs children, were taking place.

The performance of the special needs group appeared to be disrupted by the sound of the protesters’ chants, and the song the children were dancing to was stopped and restarted after the protesting group moved to a mound at the back of the lawn.

-https://sg.news.yahoo.com/police-investigate-cpf-protest-march-at-hong-lim-park-004904810.html

Real reason govt de-emphasising degrees?

In Economy, Humour, Political economy on 02/10/2014 at 5:04 am

Could be govt wants S’poreans to get married and then breed earlier? Finish poly or vocational training, get a job, earn money and then get handcuffed and breeding is the master plan?

How did I come to think such tots? I had read an article in BT on S’pore’s latest population report, and a piece in the Economist on how the cost of a college education is forcing young Americans into later and later marriages.

BT on 26 September reported that according to the latest Population report released on Sep 25 by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD — the same people who came up with the population White Paper that was rubbished by scholars). the statistics show a growing number of singles in this country, and when they do marry, it’s at a much later age.

This is the bit from the Economist: the cost of college can delay the day when young people feel they can afford an engagement ring, let alone a family. A third cited their finances as the reason they were not yet hitched, compared with just 20% of those over 35. As one Eminem fan at a recent music festival in Atlanta romantically put it “I’m just trying to sort things one at a time. I’ve got a girlfriend but I’ve also got college debt.”

http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2014/09/marriage-market

With voters annoyed with the govt’s, “We love FTs, even two-timing Raj and Hui Hui”, there seems to be a mnarked slowdown in the FT intake, so The Republic’s population growth has slid to its lowest in a decade, fertility rates have fallen further, and ageing continues at a rapid pace … negative repercussions on the economy …

Latest government figures released by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) on Thursday show that the total population grew at its slowest pace in 10 years, expanding just 1.3 per cent to 5.47 million as of June this year.

The easing in total population growth was driven by slower expansion in the non-resident population, which now stands at 1.6 million – an increase of 2.9 per cent compared to 4 per cent a year ago. This was, in turn, a result of the government’s tight restrictions on foreign labour inflows, which saw foreign employment growth slow to 3 per cent versus 5.9 per cent the previous year.

The spin for FTs like Hui Hui. (Ever heard of QC? Though thinking about it, Hui Hui’s a natural life insurance agent, second-hand car salesperson,more of this soon,, sans her looks and voice.)

By granting 20,000 new citizens and 30,000 new permanent residents (PRs) annually in the past few years, the government has kept immigration numbers stable. This is even as the citizen population continues to age, and as Singaporeans have fewer than enough babies to replace themselves. With increasing life expectancy and low fertility rates, there are more citizens in the older age groups today. The proportion of citizens aged 65 years and above rose to 12.4 per cent in 2014 from 11.7 per cent a year ago, while the median age of Singaporeans increased to 40.4 years from 40 years previously. This means the old-age support ratio – which is the number of citizens in the working age band of 20 to 64 needed to support one older citizen – is shrinking rapidly.

It fell from 11.4 in 1980 to 8.4 in 2000, before sinking further to 5.2 in 2014. At the same time, the resident total fertility rate (TFR) fell to 1.19 in 2013 from 1.29 in 2012, which was a “dragon year” on the Chinese zodiac. While NPTD said that the dip from 2012 to 2013 was gentler compared to previous post-dragon years, the overall TFR of 1.19 is far below the replacement level of 2.1.

Taken on their own, the latest population statistics paint a rather grey picture of Singapore’s future. A shrivelling old-age support ratio would mean greater pressure on the working population [Tot govt claims that the great thing about CPF is that it’s not dependent on younger workers unlike ang moh pension systems] and more stress on fiscal policy – worrying trends which population experts have long flagged. (BT 26 September)

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/archive/friday/premium/top-stories/population-grows-547m-slowest-pace-10-years-20140926

*And we don’t know if post next GE, the floodgates will open again.

 

Dispersing crowds the Hongkie way/ Govt thinks Hongkies are stupid?

In Hong Kong, Humour on 01/10/2014 at 3:58 pm

… Hong Kong’s health authorities have warned of “pollution risks” and advise the general public to reduce time outdoors.

The South China Morning Post observes that air pollution threat “had been low due to less traffic since the demonstrations began”.

However, the Post notes that the Environmental Protection Department has changed its health risk forecast to “high” and “very high” in the city on Tuesday, due to “different sources of pollution”.

Protesters interviewed by the paper, however, insist that the poor weather will “not undermine the protesters’ determination to seek democracy”.

“I don’t think rain and bad air quality will dampen or deter protesters’ will and confidence,” one said. “We have raincoats ready to hand out. We also have big umbrellas for protesters to share.” (BBC Online)

Btw, wonder if Roy and New Citizen 3H are going to HK, joining Goh Meng Seng, in researching the protests. After all Roy and 3H went to do research in Norway. What Norway has in common with S’pore except big SWFs is beyond me.

Uniquely HK way of protesting (Updated at 4.05pm)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-29423147

 

Ishandar investors screwed again: by PRCs this time

In China, Malaysia, Property on 01/10/2014 at 4:15 am

Bad news travels in pairs.

Last week, Reuters reported

Amid growing anxiety over a glut of high-rise residences in Malaysia’s Iskandar, a mega waterfront township project there appears to have hit a snag.

The Business Times understands that CapitaLand, South-east Asia’s largest real estate developer, recently sought a six-month extension on the launch of its 900-unit high rise condominium, which is the first phase of a S$3.2 billion ($2.52 billion) Danga Bay project, which spans some 28 hectares on a man-made island.

It seems that it had some problems with Johor state authorities. If  TLC can have such problems, what about yr ordinary, not connected S’porean property buyer?

Then BT on 30 September carried a story reported that thanks to PRC developers and buyers, S’poreans buying to rent in Iskandar are screwed.

A looming housing glut in Iskandar Malaysia may weigh down rental yields in the economic zone, with homes being left empty.

The warning this time came from Malaysia’s national organisation of developers, the Real Estate & Housing Developers Association (Rehda).

FD Iskandar, president of Rehda, noted that some 30,000 homes could be completed by 2016 or early 2017 in Iskandar.

If these are mainly sold to buyers outside Malaysia and Singapore, “then you will see that these units will be empty and once they are put up for rent and there are so many units available, that will put pressures on rental yields”, he said.

Malaysia’s federal government is “actually looking seriously” at this issue … But land administration in Malaysia lies within the authority of the state government.

In the past 12 to 18 months, the deluge of homes launched or in the pipeline by China developers, including Country Gardens and Guangzhou R&F Properties, has stoked concerns over a looming housing glut in the Iskandar region, which encompasses an area of more than 2,000 square kilometres in Johor.

“… developers from China launching a few thousand units at one go,” Mr Iskandar said, adding that Malaysian or Singaporean developers would typically have 400-600 units in one project.

Most of the buyers of these Chinese projects come from mainland China, he observed. “…concerns about these residential units being empty.”