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Archive for 2014|Yearly archive page

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

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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 (ex-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.”

 

 

True blue oldies will save economy, not FTs

In Economy on 30/09/2014 at 5:07 am

Especially not FTs like Hui Hui.

Government figures released by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD — the same people who came up with the population White Paper that was rubbished by scholars) last Thursday show that the total population grew at its slowest pace in 10 years, expanding just 1.3% to 5.47m  as of June this year and generally painted a picture of doom and gloom.with have negative repercussions on the economy.

But according to the unhelpful, not constructive BT (26 September), * some economists say the situation may not be as dire as generally predicted, since more older citizens are opting to work past retirement age.

Said UOB economist Francis Tan: “The support ratio worsening is just one side of things. Other factors are also at play here: the government is incentivising older workers to stay employed; people are questioning whether their retirement savings are enough so they’re continuing to work; the government’s foreign worker quotas are forcing companies to provide higher wages and that has enticed more elderly people at the margins to join the job market.

“Taken together, these conditions should make us less worried about this scary 5.2 old-age support ratio. I’m not saying the downward trend is not a concern, but I think we can’t look at population numbers purely on their own – we need to look at labour market trends too.”

Indeed, according to figures from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the total labour force participation rate of residents aged 65-69 have increased dramatically from a decade ago. While this stood at 19.5 per cent in 2003, it climbed to 27.5 per cent five years later in 2008, before spiking up to 40.2 per cent in 2013.

After all despite or because of the tight labour market, MOM said in January this year that the labour force participation rate rose to a new high in 2013, driven by women and older residents, BT pointed out.

Noted OCBC economist Selena Ling: “If the retirement age changes to 67, that will skew the ratio for sure as more elderly (persons) rejoin the workforce. Then the reality may not be as bad as what the (population) numbers suggest.”

Whatever it is Mr Tan, Ms Ling, and other economists are concerned about the nation’s lacklustre fertility rate and swiftly ageing population.

Said DBS economist Irvin Seah: “This demographic shift is perhaps the biggest challenge facing Singapore… The situation isn’t easy to reverse, and it will take more than conventional economic policy to resolve. Mindsets will have to change.”

On this they are right

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/a-ghost-city-state-or-why-fts-are-needed/

————————

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

ComCare aiding owners of landed property

In Economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 29/09/2014 at 4:19 am

We are told that this will happen here if we have ang moh welfare type system

It’s not easy being overweight and on benefits, says 25 stone mother-of-two who wants MORE money from the government to help her diet: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2768442/It-s-not-easy-overweight-benefits-says-25-stone-mother-two-wants-MORE-money-government-help-diet.html

So, I was surprised to read in ST last week, that there are five cases of ComCare giving financial aid to elderly residents in Opera Estate. Now the houses in Opera Estate are going for a over $1m each, so really there is no excuse for ComCare to help these people.

Now I understand the emotional attachment of living in the same place for many yrs and preferring not to move, or renting a room out despite oddles of soace (I’m one of those people) but no-one is entitled to welfare when they own a multi-million dollar houses.  Owning such a property is blessing. And yet the heartlanders are subsidising the people living in a landed property? Not right, ever. I mean elderly residents at Tanglin Halt have to move on. [Last sentence added at 5.47am]

That ComCare is helping them with financial aid is a worrying sign for two reasons. One is Opera Estate voted for the WP in the last GE, helping JJ to almost win Joo Chiat SMC. Could it mean the PAP govt is indulging in vote buying.

It’s also a sign that more and more S’poreans are thinking that they are entitled to feed at the trough of public money, even if they are very well-off. But are they wrong to do so, when minsters despite their above average salaries, insist on constantly reminding us that they could be making more outside govt? https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/hen-jost-gracef-money-money-money/

(Btw, I juz came across this quote while reading FT, “money 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. [Added at 6am])

The govt can do a lot more to help the elderly poor, the children of the less well-off to get better education, and in healthcare for those without million-dollar salaries, given that we got the money, but let’s be careful of indulging the lazy and the greedy.

I’ll say no more because I read yesterday that, “A household that earns less than S$1,900 will get basic computing devices such as a tablet, and subsidised fibre broadband internet access for the next four years, from the Digital Inclusion Fund.”

Hmm a gd deal and my hsehold income is below S$1,900. The word is “earns”: dividends, rental income, interest or pension payment doesn’t count.

 

Uniquely PRC, paving the streets with gold & voluntary compulsion

In China on 28/09/2014 at 5:33 am

NUS has set up China Business Centre to among other things deepen the understanding of China’s business environment.

I hope that lacing noodles with opium to attract repeat customers will be on the curriculum. This is after all a variation of what the Brits did in China in the 19th century, selling opium to the Chinese. Out of that trade grew Jardine Matheson, Swire, HSBC and StandChart.

Or this: The walk at the indoor precinct in Yichang, in Hubei province, consists of 606 shiny yellow bricks, worth $32m (£20m) in total, the Chinanews.com website reports. The bricks weigh 1kg (2.2lb) each, and are covered with a glass pane. The lavish attraction was created to celebrate the shopping centre’s 18th anniversary – and to attract customers during the upcoming “Golden Week” national holiday, after which it’ll be dismantled. Shoppers have been eager to use the walkway, as it’s apparently believed in China that walking on gold brings luck, according to the Shanghaiist blog.

Or thisBaoji city in China is on a blood donation drive, and has caused a stir in social media by saying people should give blood if they want to go to college, learn to drive or even marry.

Background info on NUS’ China Business Centre:

The China Business Centre launched on Wednesday (Sep 24). The centre is helmed by the National University of Singapore’s Business School and is the first China business-centric outfit set up by a local university. 

It will serve as a resource and research platform to deepen the understanding of China’s business environment. The centre will also advance research in management challenges in China, as well as develop leaders with a China-focused business education.

Some of the centre’s upcoming projects include training programmes for business leaders and studies on management challenges and issues faced by businesses in China.

The centre will also organise research symposiums and workshops to promote understanding of China’s business landscape. It is expected to bring industry leaders from Singapore and China together for deeper dialogue. (CNA earlier this week)

 

Jidhadist beheading: Spreading to the US

In Uncategorized on 27/09/2014 at 1:44 pm

A man in Oklahoma has beheaded one woman and wounded another after being fired from his job, police have said.

Alton Nolen, 30, attacked the two women at Vaughan Foods distribution plant in Moore, Oklahoma, on Thursday afternoon.

A manager who is also a reserve police officer stopped the attack by shooting and injuring Mr Nolen.

A police spokesman said the FBI was investigating Mr Nolen’s background, after colleagues said he had recently tried to convert them to Islam.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-29381980

‘Cause of FTs, Thailand pips us

In Uncategorized on 27/09/2014 at 6:10 am

When I started work in broking in the late 80s, ex-Japan, HK and S’pore were the leading stock mkts. Today, we are not even the leading exchange in SE Asia. Thailand has a bigger exchange despite its political, economic woes.

I note SGX is led by two FTs, an ang moh and and Indian Indian. any surprise if “S’poreans hate Foreign Trashes to pieces”.

Why TRE can’t raise $/ Only rich S’poreans are optimistic

In Economy on 26/09/2014 at 4:37 am

TRE ranters really have no money to fund TRE

In its report on the  ANZ-Roy Morgan Singapore Consumer Confidence Index*, ANZ said

–[T]he confidence from the poorest in Singapore appears to have stagnated …one possible reason is that most of the wealth of the lower income earners is tied to their houses, and property prices have softened.

[S]ome 44 per cent of respondents – down two percentage points from a month ago – expect Singapore to have “good times” economically over the next 12 months.

“The fact that less than half of respondents expect Singapore to have ‘good times’ economically over the next 12 months, is perhaps the strongest economic indicator of how average Singaporeans are reacting to the myriad challenges of current policies aimed at restructuring and reinvigorating the Singaporean economy.” 

— The supply-side restructuring of the economy may be hurting some of the lowest income households as productivity isreplacing manpower.”  (BT report 25 September)

So I was most probably wrong when I accused TRE  ranters of being talk cock, sing song free-loading cheap-skates, refusing to fund their favourite site and their heloo Roy; they really have no money to help anyone because most of the wealth of the lower income earners is tied to their houses, and property prices have softened. But are too proud to admit it, because if they do, they’ll be asked, “If so smart to criticise people who make money i.e. PAP ministers), how come you so poor?”

No wonder they hate the PAP, and the S’poreans (Kong Hee, Sun Ho) and FTs who lead the gd life. Maybe they should spend less time ranting on TRE, working harder to improve their skills and wages. Or juz have this hobby http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-28810578. Oh forgot, they have no money. Their birds will die of malnutrition.

Seriously, this survey does confirm two things thing that the TRE ranters and other anti-PAP activists (and others, though nor PAPpies and their allies in the constructive, nation-building media) have been saying, many S’poreans don’t expect Singapore to have ‘good times’ economically and most of the wealth of the lower income earners is tied to their houses, and property prices have softened.

—-

More on the Index and ANZ Bank’s commentary:

[The Index] released on Wednesday, rose slightly in September from a month ago to 120.7 points.

The slight bump in confidence over the month – up just 1.7 points – showed more hopeful assessment of the financial situations of those polled.

This contrasts with a sharp 16.9-point dive in the index in August compared to a month ago.

The index reading now sits just below the 2014 year-to-date average of 121.1 points, with the report made public early this month.

Notably, 27 per cent of respondents said that their families are better off financially than a year ago – this is up seven percentage points from a month ago.

More respondents also think financial prospects will improve for their families in a year’s time, with 33 per cent of those polled seeing the glass as half full, up five percentage points from a month ago.

But a closer look at the numbers showed that the gains in the perception of current household income from a year ago are concentrated in the highest income quintiles, ANZ said.

Daniel Wilson, an ANZ economist who co-authored the report, pointed out separately that while income growth here was stronger on a percentage basis for the lower income, compared to the top earners – at about 35 per cent versus about 25 per cent over the past five years – the dollar gains translate to S$556 and S$5,033 respectively.

The disparity is less stark with their views of the economy over the next 12 months, though there remains a small skew towards high-income households.

 

 

 

 

 

“From JB with Love”

In Uncategorized on 25/09/2014 at 5:48 am

Taz what I tot when I was surprised that the hundreds of S’poreans who braved JB to watch the film were not robbed at the screening of “To S’pore With Love”. I had tot that given the crime there (It’s bad, I saw a daylight heist in JB, something I’ve not seen despite having lived in London and Manila. Very disconcerting as it’s out of the blue and over in minutes with the robbers fleeing with the loot).

I had expected the JB robbers to form a syndicate (like banksters forming a loan syndicate or underwriting syndicate), bribe the police, and come in with knives etc and offering “Your money, jewelry or watches or yr life”.

But maybe the robbers did their home work and concluded that only anti-PAP people and students would be attending. Not rich enough pickings?

And that they were not robbed shows how useless Jason Chua and his FPAP team are: they are the equivalent of the TRE ranters who can’t even be bothered to help fund TRE. A gd black ops would have been to arrange for JB gangsters to stage a raid on the audience. But then maybe the JB gangsters are anti-PAP. If so they should remember that the party they support, the DAP, was founded as the PAP’s M’sian Trojan horse and that after Penang fell to the DAP, the chief minister and his dad came down here to brief one LKY in his office in the Istana. The Chief minister said so at a seminar I attended.

Now to a serious matter.

Yale-NUS College has shelved its plan to screen To Singapore, With Love after a request to screen the documentary in a class was rejected by film-maker Tan Pin Pin.

The liberal arts college had managed to get the green light from the Media Development Authority (MDA) because the screening was for educational purposes. Last week, the MDA had given the film a Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR) classification, which means the film is barred from being exhibited or distributed here.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, a Yale-NUS College spokesperson said it had planned to show the 70-minute film in its documentary film course. “(Ms Tan) has indicated that she will not be holding any screenings in Singapore at this time. 

So is Ms Tan outdoing James* and the MDA at their game? Not allowing S’poreans in S’pore to watch her film?

Hopefully not because

Ms Tan revealed that since the MDA’s classification, she had received several requests to screen her documentary in Singapore, but that she had not agreed to any.

“No more screenings (in Singapore) while I figure out my next step. Overseas screenings that started last year will continue,” she said.

I hope she allows private screenings if the authorities don’t impose absurd conditions. Or allow it on YouTube.

If she doesn’t allow private screenings, then it shows the PAP has won. Even a brave, dissident, independent thinker like her accepts the PAP’s premise that S’poreans are always second class, FTs tua kee.

Btw, if she allows it on YouTube, I hope activists can help older, lessy interne4t savvy S’poreans access the film.

——-

*Jacobus is the Latinised form of James, while Yaacob is Muslim variant of Jacob.

Shumething gd (finally) from SGX for retail investors/ SGX thinks Chinese leopards can change spots

In China on 24/09/2014 at 6:47 am

(Or “Why hate Foreign Trashes to pieces”)

StockFacts allows investors to screen for stocks based on 20 different criteria, including market capitalisation and revenue. The product will also incorporate information from S&P Capital IQ like analysts’ consensus estimates and recommendations.

“Before StockFacts was launched, investors who wanted to do research on SGX-listed companies had to use various different sources of varying credibility to access the information,” said SGX head of retail investors Lynn Gaspar to BT on Monday. “This was a gap that we identified through retail investor feedback.”

Why took so long Foreign Trashies? CEO and COO are FTs but people pushing for StockFacts are locals. Taz why

So, SGX is now hoping S-Chips will start coming here. and that Sinkies will forget that they were fleeced in the past? To remind

In the case of FerroChina, which had a market value of more than S$2 billion in 2007, shareholders lost their entire investment when the steelmaker was forced to delist in March 2010. Other stocks that have been suspended include Sino Techfibre, which said a fire destroyed its financial records after reporting accounting flaws, and China Sun Bio-Chem Technology Group Co., which said a truck transporting its accounting records was stolen.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-21/singapore-exchange-sees-end-to-two-year-hiatus-for-china-ipos.html

Here’s more fleecing (in Germany)

The chief executive of Chinese footwear firm Ultrasonic, who was reported missing last week along with most of the firm’s cash, has spoken to Chinese media and denied wrongdoing.

Last week, Ultrasonic said it had dismissed him from his post.

The firm said he and his son, who is chief operating officer, had vanished.

The firm, which is listed in Germany, said that both the men, Qingyong Wu and Minghong Wu, had “apparently left their homes and are not traceable”.

Earlier this year, another Germany-listed Chinese manufacturer, Youbisheng Green Paper, said its chief executive had gone missing without explanation. It later initiated insolvency proceedings.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29306957

“Wages will not rise until employers have to compete for talent”

In Economy on 23/09/2014 at 10:54 am

The above was the headline by a Guardian (a UK newspaper whose views would chime with the SDP, NSP, AWARE, Maruah, Alex Au, TOC and the other usual suspects) journalist on a blog piece on the UK economy: economy growing, property prices flying, FTs flooding in, but real wages stagnant. Sounds familiar?

The statement is very true here here as the following excerpts from BT (16 Sept) quoting the govt (who incidentally still denies that FTs don’t affect the real wages of S’poreans: cognitive dissonance or is it double-speak?)

The tight labour market in Singapore has resulted in more jobs and higher salaries for locals, while the growth in foreign worker employment fell to its slowest quarterly pace since 2009.

So less FTs result in higher wages for local talents, and more jobs: “noise” correct.

Here comes the spin:

But productivity gains saw a reversal in the second quarter of 2014 with negative growth of 1.3 per cent, bringing to an end a run of three straight quarters of positive growth.

Local employment growth remained strong at 41,000 (4.2 per cent year-on-year growth in June), with the services sector accounting for nearly 90 per cent of the jobs created, said the Manpower Ministry (MOM) on Monday.

More spin:

Last year, the real median gross monthly income for full-time citizen workers went up by 4.6 per cent, the ministry said as it released details of Singapore’s labour market situation for the first half of 2014.

The seasonally adjusted citizen unemployment rate was stable at 2.9 per cent in June, while the resident long-term unemployment rate remained among the lowest in the world at 0.6 per cent.

Total employment grew by 27,700 in the second quarter of 2014, moderating from the growth of 33,700 in the same quarter last year, but comparable to the 28,300 in the first quarter of the year. This brought total employment to 3.55 million in June 2014, 3.8 per cent higher than a year ago.

The spin continues:

The latest numbers are indicative of the government’s ongoing push to progressively raise the quality of the foreign workforce [Govt admitting we have Trash like the SGX CEO and the president?] and reduce the reliance on foreign labour.

This, said MOM, is in line with national efforts to achieve quality economic growth driven by sustained productivity improvements … the ministry said that it expects the strong hiring of Singaporean workers to continue for the rest of this year.

This is due to a confluence of foreign workforce constraints [And govt still saying FT influx doesn’t affect locals’ wages?] , higher wages, and employers adopting flexible work arrangements to attract more women and older workers into the labour force.

MOM … wages are expected to continue moving up, but these increases could only be sustained over the long term by improving productivity.

As for foreign …, MOM said that their total employment growth slowed to 11,200 for the first six months of 2014, which was less than half compared to the same period in 2013 … foreign employment growth in the second quarter of 2014 came in at just 3,800 … lowest quarterly expansion since the third quarter of 2009 during the global financial crisis, when only 700 foreign worker jobs were created.

[700 seems about right, though to Goh Meng Seng and Gilbert Goh, even one is one too many.]

OCBC economist Selena Ling said that foreign employment growth was at a low as firms continue to adjust to manpower policy constraints, although the transition process for selected labour-intensive services and construction sectors was “probably more accentuated”.

“The consolidation process for firms will likely continue in the interim as the productivity performance of these few sectors are still falling short of targets,” she said.

The productivity push, meanwhile, hit a roadblock in Q22014 with negative growth of 1.3 per cent. This ended a period of three straight quarters of positive gains.

[Post next GE, this will be excuse to lewt the FTs in]

“Overall productivity growth is expected to remain uneven,” said MOM in its outlook for the rest of the year.

Michael Smith … employment services provider Randstad, said that, in order to maintain productivity, employers should continue to offer workforce-relevant upskilling and career growth opportunities to help fill the gaps for skills that are in demand.

Ho hum, this makes it clear that the FT influx made this upgrading of skills unnecessary.

On the whole, MOM said that the current manpower-lean environment in Singapore will continue to be a feature of the economy in the coming years.

Come on, after next GE, the floodgates will open. Remember the population White Paper of 6m people?

“As the economy restructures, some consolidation and exit of less-productive businesses are expected. MOM and the Workforce Development Agency stand ready to help displaced local workers re-skill and upgrade so that they are positioned to take on the new jobs created.”

So long as FTs are allowed in by the A380 or 747 cattle-class load, this won’t help.

Giants that will slay Jack (Ma)?

In Banks, China, Internet on 23/09/2014 at 4:25 am

Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, is a hero. He slew eBay in China. Now he is going up against new giants by shaking up China’s state-dominated finance industry. His business, the Zhejiang Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group, processes payments, sells insurance and runs one of the world’s largest money market funds, placing it in competition with banks controlled by the Chinese government. It is a precarious position.

http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/03/26/chinas-largest-bank-declares-war-on-alibaba/

What the SA elections teach us

In Political governance on 22/09/2014 at 6:10 am

Earlier this year there was a general election in South Africa which should be a dose of reality for those anti-PAP cyber-warriors who say that in the next GE, the PAP will be out, without them having to do anything except rant at the PAP.

The election will confirm to the WP, SDP NSP and the Chiams, the obstacles they face, while making the PAPpies smile.

The governing African National Congress (ANC) lost a few percentage points nationally compared with 2009, but when you consider the bad headlines – from the police shootings in Marikana, to violent service delivery protests, to President Jacob Zuma’s alleged corruption, to the government’s failure to deliver text books to school children – it is not unreasonable for the party to spin its 62% of the vote as a formidable victory. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-2733971)

The result is proof of the power of incumbency …

Even Heart Truths will not be able to argue that S’pore has SA levels of unemployment (24%), inflation (6% and climbing fast) and crime (murder rate of 3.1 per 100,000 people). Though given Roy’s (https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/roys-defence-has-me-confused/), and Hui Hui’s (3,000 can become 6,000 and 500 become 1000) ability to conjure up “facts”, I wouldn’t be surprised if he can come up with similar figures.

Meanwhile Heart Truths and many other bloggers continue to blind themselves and other anti-PAP paper activists to the reality that the PAP, is adapting to the new environment. As someone who does not want any party controlling two-thirds of the legislature, I can only hope the PAP refuses to change its “We love FTs” policy. If it does change this policy (or pretends to and manages to fool us), and continues spending our money on ourselves, the best I can hope for in the next GE is that light blue clones of the MIW retain their seats. 1996 all over again? Sigh.

So pls Heart Truths and other anti-PAP cyber warriors pls go buy Hard Choices and understand the enemy you are facing. Don’t let the efforts and hopes of 2011 be squandered, like the the hopes and efforts of 1991 were squandered by the antics of JBJ and the SDP. Only Chiam and Low kept the flame of dissent alive until 2006, 10 yrs later.

We might not be so lucky after the next GE.

Meanwhile, TRE readers are not willing to cough up the money to keep the site going for 12 months. They came up with $ to keep it going for 3-4 months. Worse they donated “peanuts”. Of the $17,000 raised, there was a donation of $10,000 from one person. How to defeat PAP?

 

 

 

 

And we foodie, innovative nation?

In Uncategorized on 21/09/2014 at 4:16 am

We love food, eat exotic stuff (think fried grass-hoppers, ants, intestines, poultry feet), have a VC industry (or so I’m told), and a govt that says it is committed to innovation and out-of-box thinking. Yet ang mohs in Iceland came up with “insect energy bars”. S’pore’s entrepreneurial, innovative ecosystem failed to produce this here.

Insects are a staple food in parts of the developing world, but two businessmen from the unlikely location of Iceland are proposing to use them to make energy bars.

Bui Adalsteinsson and Stefan Thoroddsen say on their website they got the idea from a UN report suggesting the western world could benefit from using this abundant source of protein, and formed a company to make bars with ground-up bugs. They got funding from the Startup Reykjavik programme earlier this year, and have just announced the second prototype of their Crowbar on Twitter.

They tell the Nutiminn news site the insect “superfood” breaks down into amino acids that the body needs, and is also rich in calcium and vitamins. Crowbars “provide a realistic, sustainable choice of excellent nutrition in your pocket, whether you’re taking a two-minute break from a challenging hike or need a boost between work meetings,” the pair insist.

BBC

Don’t overlook these high SGX highish yielders

In Indonesia, Japan, Reits on 20/09/2014 at 6:28 am

LMIR Trust to acquire Jakarta mall for 3.6 trillion rupiah

Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust (LMIR Trust) plans to bulk up its portfolio by acquiring a five-storey shopping centre in southern Jakarta, Indonesia, for 3.6 trillion rupiah (S$385.7 million) which it plans to pay with cash and new units.

The acquisition of Lippo Mall Kemang (LMK) from PT Almaron Perkasa – a company incorporated in Indonesia which is 92 per cent indirectly owned by the trust’s sponsor PT Lippo Karawaci – could potentially raise the trust’s portfolio by 27 per cent from S$1.42 billion as at end-June to S$1.8 billion.

LMIR Trust’s manager, LMIRT Management, has proposed to issue up to 301.37 million new units to PT Almaron Perkasa, which under the conditional sale and purchase agreement signed on Sept 14 will receive 3.18 trillion rupiah in cash and 420 billion rupiah in units for LMK.

The firm deemed the deal to buy LMK, which enjoyed a high occupancy rate of 93 per cent as at June this year, a “strategic acquisition of a prominent retail mall” located close to residential apartments, a hotel, a wedding chapel, a school and a country club. LMK also serves as the podium of the proposed JW Marriott Hotel, Pelita Harapan school campus, a planned hospital and three condominium towers. (BT this week)

And

From now till end-March 2017, acquisition strategies will be executed in full swing by Accordia Golf Trust (AGT).

The first Singapore-listed business trust with golf course assets in Japan, and also Asia’s first golf trust, AGT currently manages 89 golf courses in Japan, with a combined value of about 160 billion yen (S$1.89 billion).

Together with its sponsor company, Tokyo-listed Accordia Golf, they own 133 golf courses in Japan, and they are the largest golf operator in Japan, with a 5.5 per cent share of the market.

In a media briefing on Monday, chief executive officer Yoshihiko Machida said the trust is now poised to acquire an additional 50 billion yen worth of golf assets, with a preference for 19 golf courses currently owned by Accordia Golf, of which AGT has the first call options right to purchase. (BT this week)

I own a bit of the former and and still thinking of the latter. The issue with these is the strong S$. (Yen was at an all time low against S$ this week).

Fear of Harry lingers?

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 19/09/2014 at 4:29 am

Like the smell of stale perfume? Or stale beer? Or tobacco? Or sweat?

I tot the above, when I read this on Facebook earlier this week

For those who are itching to see the move: To Singapore, with Love, but cannot make it to JB, you might want to pick up my book: Dissident Voices, on sale at Kino. Several of the personalities in To Singapore, with Love are featured in my book… Lim Chin Siong, Dr Lim Hock Siew (Operation Coldstore), Tan Wah Piow, Vincent Cheng (Marxist Conspiracy).
In my interview with The Independent Singapore, I said I did have some initial worry about writing about people who had incurred

See More

An interview with the author of Dissident Voices, Clement Mesenas How and why did you write the book? I was commissioned by the publishers, who told me that they had a grant for such a book. The idea was that that such a book would…
theindependent.sg

I reviewed the book here. Aimed at students, given that there is nothing not factual in the book, and that the author was a strike leader (he had balls despite being a ST journalist), I find it strange that he said he had some fear when he wrote the book. Either he was exaggerating, trying to puff his book or himself (ST journalists are very insecure), or the fear of one LKY was at the back of his mind. He became an adult at a time when the ISD was pretty busy*, and when LKY was intimidating and bullying, opponents and the voters. Only the Malayan ruling elite (Chinese and Malay) were not impressed by his behaviour: uncouth and unseemly. And S’pore got kicked out of M’sia, putting an end to his ambition of being PM of M’sia..

Seriously, given the way the govt is trying to ensure that only the “right” narrative is available for public consumption, we should only be interested in the “wrong” narratives, i.e. those banned by the “govt”.

Once upon a time, “banned” products were not easily accessible. But today there’s the internet (and YouTube).

Mind you, accessing the not “right” books are a bit more problematic than films. But alternative narrative authors should embrace e-publishing, Cheaper to produce and easier to access, if “banned’. And being “banned” is free, good publicity.

—–

*Another strike leader (another friend) had been “questioned” by the ISD because his dad was an oppo politician.

Why ISD detainees won’t be sending LKY birthday greetings any time soon

In Uncategorized on 18/09/2014 at 4:52 am

From the accounts of Dr Lim Hock Siew, Ms Teo Soh Lung, Francis Seow and others, the ISD used the following techniques

standing against a wall for hours
hooding
subjection to noise
sleep deprivation
very little food and drink.

These are rough, very rough, though to be fair not as rough as “waterboarding” (a US favourite) or electric pods on genitals a Latin American, Russian favourite).

The ISD methods are very British techniques. I’ll let what a Brazilian interrogator sent to the UK learnt:

“The best thing … was psychological torture*. When a person was in a secret place, it was faster to obtain information. He also studied in other places but he said England was the best place to learn.”

Prof Glaucio Soares interviewed more than a dozen of Brazil’s top generals back in the 1990s. Several of them told him they sent officers to Germany, France, Panama and the US to learn about interrogation but they praised the UK as having the best method.

“The Americans teach, but the English are the masters in teaching how to wrench confessions under pressure, by torture, in all ways. England is the model of democracy. They give courses for their friends,” he was told by Gen Ivan de Souza Mendes – an interview recounted in the book Years of Lead which he co-authored with two other Brazilian academics.

Gen Aoyr Fiuza de Castro said the British recommend interrogating a prisoner when he was naked as it left him anguished and depressed, “a state favourable to the interrogator”.

The UK was apparently seen as having effective practices as it had faced a serious insurgency in Malaya up until 1960 and had latterly honed its techniques in Northern Ireland.

The method, using sensory deprivation coupled with high stress, has come to be known as the “Five Techniques”. These were:
standing against a wall for hours
hooding
subjection to noise
sleep deprivation
very little food and drink.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27625540

Maybe the most effective is isolation http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140514-how-extreme-isolation-warps-minds. Problem from perspective of interrogators is that this technique requires time, something they are often short off.

So can one really blame the ISD detainees, and the many S’poreans who refuse to wish LKY “Happy birthday”? Not that he would care. Like Darth Vader and his emperor, and other Sith Lords, LKY thrives on the hatred of those who hate him.

——

*O’Brien  in Orwell’s 1984 said

“By itself,” he said, “pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable —  something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be destroyed. It is the same with the rats. For you, they are unendurable. They are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand, even if you wished to. You will do what is required of you.”

This could have been a British intelligence grandee or Special Brnch officer talking. Remember that Orwell was in the Burmese police force when Burma was British. And the British ruled an unruly empire, think Palestine, Egypt, India and Ireland.

Related highly commended video http://singaporerebel.blogspot.sg/2014/08/the-nature-of-paps-governance-is.html

“How’s Harry doing?”

In Economy, Political governance on 17/09/2014 at 4:26 am

Castro* was asking Xi Jinping, earlier this yr when Xi visited Cuba.

He went on,”S’pore’s an exemplar for our way of doing things, a one-party state that is economically successful. According to leading Cambridge economist, Ha-Joon ChangThe country is usually known for its free trade policy and welcoming attitude towards foreign investments, but it has the most heavily state-owned economy, except for some oil states. State-owned enterprises produce 22% of Singapore’s national output, operating in a whole range of industries – not just the “usual suspects” of airline, telecommunications and electricity, but also semiconductors, engineering and shipping; and its housing and development board supplies 85% of the country’s homes.

‘But I hear that being kinder, more compassionate, tolerant hasn’t worked for the PAP’s popularity. Can only get 60% of the votes. Harry got high 70%s votes by intimidating his opponents, and bullying, haranguing the voters . Still he couldn’t beat my 99.9%, or Mao’s, Deng’s and yr popularity.

‘Any idea why his son is called Pinkie? And can you bring back a box of Havanas for his birthday: S’pore’s juz a bit further South. Yes, I know he doesn’t smoke, but he should start. I smoke a Havana a day and I think I’m fitter than he is.”

Above waz what I tot when I saw the u/m caption, pix and remark.

Party time for the one-party survivors

Cuba's Fidel Castro, right, speaks with China's President Xi Jinping in Havana, Cuba on 22 July 2014Xi Jinping and Fidel Castro met in Havana on 22 July

Caption for this photo anyone? asks the BBC’s Carrie Gracie.

My way of sending one LKY a belated birthday greeting. I’m sure the curses of the TRE ranters and other born-loser anti-PAP activists will invigorate him. Sith lords thrive on being hated.

—————-

*Lest anyone forgets, Castro is LKY’s contemporary. Came into power the same yr as LKY did (1959) and is still the ultimate arbiter in Cuba, ruled by younger brudder. To be fair to LKY, he was a lot less brutal in dealing with dissidents than Castro was.

Not traumatic to see mum semi-naked on screen mei?

In Uncategorized on 16/09/2014 at 4:18 am

Can’t stop laughing at Kong Hee’s attempt to explain why why Sun Ho hadn’t returned to the US to minimise losses to the church:

City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee choked up a few times on the stand on Thursday as he told the court how investigations into financial irregularities at the church had affected his young son.

The pastor and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing church funds to boost the music career of his wife Ho Yeow Sun and falsifying church accounts to cover the misuse. “The whole investigation was shocking and traumatic for my little boy,” he said of his son Dayan, who was 5 1/2 years old when the Commercial Affairs Department started probing the church’s financial affairs in 2010.

Kong said his son started to have panic attacks and was “hyperventilating on most days”. He and his wife had to bring the boy to see a psychiatrist, he said.

Kong spoke [on why] why Ms Ho did not return to the United States to complete her album after the investigations started …”Dayan needed his mum to be around,” Kong said.

The boy attended a Christian school and Kong said that the “young and innocent” children asked his son: “Is your Dad in jail already?”

He said his son had also asked him: “Dad, why were all the teachers and adults in school talking about you?”
– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/courts-crime/story/kong-hee-chokes-court-he-talks-about-traumatic-time-young-son-2014#sthash.mnvDUhXU.dpuf

Wouldn’t son have been traumised by seeing mummy playing the slut in the videos? Wouldn’t everyone in the school be talking of her cavorting half naked in musical videos?

Oh I forgot, the videos were shown only to pagans and heathens.

But then, what about the photos of mum in a revealing red dress in ST? Wouldn’t that have got everyone in the school talking.

Come on pastor boy, You’re an RI boy. Think up a better idea to draw sympathy to yrself.

How about, “The publicity about the criminal charges brought about by the PAP govt would have made it impossible to market Sun Ho.” At the least the TRE posters will be cheering you on: they blame the govt for everything that does wrong in their lives, when they don’t hate those who have done well.

 

Thanks Yacoob, Ms Koh

In Political governance on 15/09/2014 at 5:10 am

If I were the people featured in “To S’pore With Love”* and the film maker, I’d be sending flowers and fruit to Yaacon and Ms Koh Lin-Net the CEO of MDA, as a token of my appreciation, cause nothing could have created more interest in the film than banning it.  (To be ppedantic, it seems  the film has not technically been banned: only “public” screenings are banned; private screenings are OK. While we can have doubts on how the authoriies will intrepet “private” let’s not KPKB like the usual anti-PAP suspects. Wait and see.)

But given the views of those featured, it seems that they are not the kind of people who appreciate any gd deed of the PAP govt; always have to complain.

Seriously, if this is the objection

The Media Development Authority said it took issue with the film’s version of history. “The MDA has assessed that the contents of the film undermine national security because legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimized innocent individuals,” the agency said in a press release on Wednesday.

“The individuals featured in the film gave the impression that they are being unfairly denied their right to return to Singapore,” the agency said. In fact, it added, former Communists can return “if they agree to be interviewed by the authorities on their past activities to resolve their cases” while other “criminal offenses will have to be accounted for in accordance with the law.”**

(http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/film-about-exiles-is-banned-in-singapore/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&smid=nytimesarts&_r=2&)

what’s so difficult about having a statement read out before each public screening setting out the “right” view?

MDA could also arrange for relevant extracts of Men in White*** to be handed out to the audience before the screening.

And get MediaCorp to rescreen the documentaries on the Hock Lee Bus riot and the 1964  race riot. Or maybe insist that public screenings of the “wrong” version of history, be preceded by the screenings of these MediaCorp documentaries. But then Maruah would bitch that this would constitute “cruel and unusual punishment”: and I would have to agree with this complaint.

“Banning” is a really lazy, outdated, stupid way of handling alternate, unofficial narratives especially in the era of YouTube.

But it’s the Hard Truth way of doing things. And a reflection that the only way is the Hard Truth way. Even China, since the 1980s, has moved beyond  the tots of Mao, We still live with the unthinking application of Hard Truths, whether relevant or not.

———

*A documentary about the lives of Singaporean exiles has been banned in Singapore on the grounds that it undermines national security. [Actually the film has not technically been banned: only “public” screenings are banned; private screenings are OK. But I don’t expect Americans to be so subtle.]

To Singapore, With Love” by the Singaporean filmmaker Tan Pin Pin was classified as NAR, the Media Development Authority said Wednesday. NAR stands for “Not allowed for all ratings,” meaning it can neither be shown nor distributed in Singapore.

Ms. Tan had traveled to the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Thailand to film the lives of nine Singaporeans, in their 60s and older. Among them were trade unionists, student leaders and Communists who fled in the 1960s and 1970s, for fear of being imprisoned under Singapore’s Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.

In the film, they speak about their homeland, and how they cope in exile – by frying up a plate of Singapore rice noodles, or flying in to meet loved ones in neighboring Malaysia.

(http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/film-about-exiles-is-banned-in-singapore/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&smid=nytimesarts&_r=2&)

**“A number of these self-professed ‘exiles’ were members of, or had provided support to, the proscribed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). The CPM sought to overthrow the legitimate elected governments of Singapore and Malaysia through armed struggle and subversion, and replace them with a communist regime,” MDA said.

“One of the interviewees in the film claimed that he had no choice but to join the CPM after he left Singapore when in fact, he was an active CPM member even before he left Singapore. Indeed, as another interviewee who left Singapore in similar circumstances admits, a number of Barisan Sosialis activists then were already members of the Malayan National Liberation League, the CPM’s political wing, before they fled Singapore with its help and subsequently joined the communist guerrilla forces.”

“Two of the individuals in the film conveniently omitted mentioning the criminal offences which they remain liable for, like tampering with their Singapore passports or absconding from National Service,” MDA said.

In its statement, MDA also said that the individuals featured in the film were not “forced” to leave Singapore, “nor are they being prevented from returning”.

The Singapore government has made it clear that it would allow former CPM members to return to Singapore if they agree to be interviewed by the authorities on their past activities to resolve their cases. Criminal offences will have to be accounted for in accordance with the law, it said.

“These facts had been published at the time of these events, and are on public records, even though some Singaporeans today may be unfamiliar with these cases,” MDA said

***Written by three ST men, and published by SPH, the book contains extensive interviews of PAP cadres, many of whom moved on out of the PAP to oppose it . I met two of the authors in May and commended them for calling these cadres as “leftists”, rather than the term “communists”, the term used by LKY and his gang.

Here’s another alternative narrative http://singaporerebel.blogspot.sg/2014/08/the-nature-of-paps-governance-is.html by someone who has called these “leftists”, “progressives”. Waz so progressive about adopting Mao’s tots or USSR’s practices? Btw, I don’t dispute his thesis that the PAP govt adopted the colonial apparatus; neither does the govt.

I hope this gets banned, so that more S’poreans will get to know that it exists, and watch it, hopefully.

PM talks cock about “private” sector

In China, Temasek on 14/09/2014 at 6:57 am

The private sector-led, Government backed Guangzhou Knowledge City (GKC)* is a good model for future Singapore-China projects, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (Sep 12).

… Mr Lee said he was happy with the progress, six years after he first discussed the project with provincial leaders … the private sector-led GKC is a different model that Singapore is “trying out” after the Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city, both government-to-government projects. (CNA on Friday)

Funnily the private sector leadership is provided by Temasek-owned company Singbridge who is in a j/v and the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.  Singbridge is 100% owned by Temasek, 100% owned by the Minister for Finance. Not even the fig-leaf of a SGX-listed TLC like Keppel or SIA.

And PM went to Catholic High and NJC? But then Yaacon was from RI (see tom)

—-

*”The hurdle for government-to-government projects like Suzhou and Tianjin will be higher in future, so I think this (GKC) is a good model that we should explore going forward,”

“But there has to be a balance between private sector leadership and government support, and there has to be market demand for what’s being offered by the project” …

Located 35 kilometres from Guangzhou city centre, work is underway to turn the Guangzhou Knowledge City, currently a 123 square-kilometre site into a future magnet for industries like pharmaceuticals and info-comm technology, part of local authorities push for so-called high end industry.

 

Hen, JosT, GraceF: Money, money, money

In Humour on 13/09/2014 at 12:56 pm

I tot of the three ministers when I read:

WSJ Wealth Advisor’s Veronica Dagher explains in an article and accompanying video that “core expenses” for a family of four in Chicago – like an $850,000 mortgage on a $1.2m house, $24,000 a year in property taxes, $25,000 in home maintenance and $30,000 in groceries – really add up.

Then there’s discretionary spending, such as $25,000 a year for two vacations, $15,000 a year for car payments, $10,000 for entertainment and $12,000 in “club dues”. (Who are we kidding? I bet that paltry amount won’t even get you a golf membership with real live caddies. What are we, savages?)

The Daily Kos’s Weinenkel says the entreaty to “cut your spending” is the best part of the video:

“Let’s forget that the median middle-class household income peaked at $56,080 in 1999 and it stands at roughly $50,017 now. Welcome to examples of the shrinking middle class, Wall Street Journal.”

If that wasn’t a strong enough dose of wealth hubris, Dagher provides plenty of examples of six-figure families living beyond their means.

“Sylvia Flores was earning more than $200,000 a year overseeing website content for retailers and tech firms when she got into trouble,” Dagher writes. “She had a personal chef and a housekeeper, and took her husband and two children to Hawaii for frequent vacations.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-29168898

So the Hen, Jos Teo and Grace Fu shouldn’t pretend that they are public-spirited for taking less pay by becoming PAP ministers, but others are not, or may not be. Juz be silent on the issue of ministerial loot salaries: like Tharman and Shan. But then they are local Indians, the other three are local Chinese. Indians have a reputation of being more political savvy.

After tot (7 October 4.30 am)

I came across this quote while reading FT last week, “money 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.

 

Equity mkts: India, Indonesia & Pinoyland looking gd/ Don’t forget S’pore

In ETFs, India, Indonesia on 13/09/2014 at 4:34 am

Examining recent price trends, India has stabilized in dramatic fashion following its dismal performance in 2013.  With superior demographics, a skilled work force, and pro-business leadership, India could prove to be an excellent growth engine over the coming decade.  However, investors should also bemindful of the higher than normal price volatility and look to hold any new investment with a long-term viewpoint.

Circling the globe and focusing in on to the Pacific Rim, Indonesia has had a stellar year following a major decline of over 20% in 2013.  The Market Vectors Indonesia (IDX) is currently up 26.5%, yet appears to still have a lot of room to run to reach its all-time highs.  This ETF is weighted primarily towards large and mid-cap financials, consumer staples, and consumer discretionary stocks.

Indonesia stands to build on excellent GDP growth rates that exceed 5% on a year over year basis. Two thirds of their economy is driven by domestic consumption, which could continue to perform well given their stable democracy and large middle class.  Indonesia also boasts one of the lowest debt to GDP percentages in greater Asian region, which should allow the government to continue its key investments in infrastructure.

Finally, stocks in the Philippines are beginning to show signs of life, with a year to date return of 23.4%.  The iShares MSCI Philipines (EPHE) is dominated by 42 large cap stocks primarily centered around the financial, industrial, and telecom sectors.

Although the Thai protests last year pushed the region into a state of disarray, the Philippines has managed to overcome those fears and has held up relatively well.  The Filipino economy is poised to continue its 2014 run on the back of robust economic growth, increased tourism, and a strong fiscal balance sheet.

In addition, the Filipino peso has been very strong relative to the U.S. dollar and other emerging market currencies.  As a result, GDP growth has exceeded 6.5% over the last two years. These two factors bolster EPHE’s chances of trending higher in the near-term, even despite the country’s moderate levels of wage inequality and foreign investment restrictions.

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/082914/these-little-known-emerging-market-countries-are-star-performers.asp?utm_source=newstouse&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=NTU-9/5/2014

Three-month flows into Singapore exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are on course to reach the most since Markit Ltd began tracking the data in 2009. Investors took money out of the stock and bond funds for five straight quarters through June, the Markit data show. The benchmark Straits Times Index has rebounded 13 per cent from this year’s low on Feb 5 and Singapore’s sovereign debt returned 3 per cent this year.

Singapore shares are the most attractive among Asia ex-Japan and emerging-market equities, beating Hungary, Chile and China, according to a Morgan Stanley study using measures from earnings to corporate governance and technical indicators. The investment bank predicts companies in the South-east Asian city-state will beat consensus earnings forecasts after the economy expanded at a quicker-than-expected pace in the second quarter.

“The Singapore market is somewhat undervalued for a pretty strong growth environment with positive earnings revisions,” said Jonathan Garner, Hong Kong-based head of Asia and emerging-market strategy at Morgan Stanley. “We also like the fact that the market scores very highly in terms of our political risk and corporate governance model.” BT on Tuesday)

Roy Ngerng and the “swing voters”

In Uncategorized on 12/09/2014 at 5:02 am

Without agreeing that I’m a despicable worm (I readily admit I’m smug), this TRE’s poster goes on to explain why Roy is a dangerous distraction: swing voters will be turned off by his antics.

Market operator:
August 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm (Quote)
@trust et al @ rotten papayas
I agree with you guys – CI is a smug, despicable worm. But don’t let your emotions abt Roy get the better of you. We need to differentiate Roy the catalyst or beacon for rousing public sentiments over the CPF issue from Roy the loose cannon. He has done very well in the former, all kudos and deservedly so. But it is the latter that is undoing the former. Pat him on the shoulder for the “revelations” from the govt past few weeks but think carefully what has the govt really revealed. They r just throwing crumbs to assuage public emotions but has said nothing really important. They have been throwing smoke – we can see that but isn’t this what you would do if someone ask you a question lacking in substance. You just brush it off with a brief, nonsensical answer right?

Call me a PAP IB if you wish – that’s your right but I am not. However ask a lousy question, get a lousy answer. Bring foolish assertions like Roy’s 55k median CPF balance as evidence most members are so far from meeting the ms, you get no answer or worst show yourself to be lacking substance. Now think about those swing voters, I won’t be so arrogant to think them ignorant but they r not swayed by this kind of rhetoric. The last thing u want is to close your minds to alternative opinions even if they don’t fit into your existing beliefs.

Much gd it did him calling me a worm. Guy got cursed and reviled too.

Btw, TRE ranters who accuse me of character assassination of Roy point out that a lot more people read him that me. I happily concede that he has a lot more readers but they never stood up to be counted when he asked or $, unlike the members of CHC who happily funds the defence of those the state accuses of  stealing from them. On the issue of character assassination, all I did was to point things that Roy said that they didn’t want to hear or others said about him

Happily for the PAP and sadly for those of us who want an end to a de facto one-party state, ,Jeremiah 5:21 says it all, ‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’

With people like Roy’s ultra supporters as opponents, the PAP’s hegemony is safe.  They only rant anonymously, not even bothering to turn up at his gigs, or even supporting TRE with funds (It has raised $17,000 out of the $50,000 it claims to need for 12 months; and $10,000 came from one donor). Let’s see how many turn up at his wake, memorial service candlelight vigil. on 17th September

“It is not through through fantasy, dreaming, imagining or studying that you learn but through observing, working and struggling” Luis de Camoens. Something that WP Low and his team are doing. And the SDP does fitfully.

 

Sun Ho: Why Hollywood, not Taiwan pop?/ Wrong Indon adviser or wrong god?

In Uncategorized on 11/09/2014 at 4:17 am

Why Hollywood, not Taiwan pop?

Kong Hee said the idea for using Sun Ho’s “talent” for singing to save souls arouse because she converted people in Taiwan through her singing. So why didn’t she launch a career based on the potential audience in Taiwan? Something that Stephanie Sun has done successfully. After all, as Stefanie has shown, the Taiwanese like skinny women.

Why did she have to go Hollywood to convert Asians? Waz the logic?

Nothing in the media reports of the trial indicate why the route to Chinese-speaking souls was via Hollywood. Or did I miss something?

Wrong Indon adviser or wrong god?

Taz what I tot when I read in BT that Indon tycoon and philanthropist Tahir is understood to be the buyer in the recent bulk transaction of 12 units at the completed, freehold Grange Infinite project. The transaction is said to have amounted to S$70-plus million.

The deal comprises 11 four-bedroom apartments ranging from around 2,560 sq ft to 2,700 sq ft each and a “junior penthouse” of 6,039 sq ft on the 20th level of the 36-storey freehold project.

The acquisition by Mr Tahir is said to price the apartments in the region of S$2,050 per square foot on average and the penthouse at around S$1,950 psf.

The 12 units were sold vacant. (BT recently)

This reminded me that while Orchard Rd area’s apartments had maintained their value, Sentosa Cove has gone the way of Auntie Ho’s Hollywood ambitions and lifestyle.

Or maybe his God did want him to get rich? Or his god was annoyed with Sun Ho’s Hollywood antics. Every god has standards on decency and taste.

“Are you satisfied with your government?” Juz do an indie survey leh

In Political governance on 10/09/2014 at 5:00 am

“The Ozymandias Parade”, by Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, depicts the dehumanising effect of propaganda. A military president wears a mask that carries the answer to a poll carried out in whichever location the work is shown. “Are you satisfied with your government?” goes the question. 

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2014/09/tenth-gwangju-biennale

Wonder what would be the answer here?*

Maybe the the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Singapore** should bring this exhibit here and then conduct a poll

And talking of surveys or polls while I agree with

Donald Low, author of ‘Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus’, a book recommending policy reforms in the tightly-controlled south-east Asian state,who  said he had pulled out of the Singapore Writers’ Festival in November to protest the decision, “I see no evidence of a significant segment of Singapore society objecting to these books being in our public libraries, even if the majority of Singaporeans are conservative,” Low said.

He objected to Yaacob’s comments, saying that “attitudes are more complex and nuanced than the reductionist view the minister has taken.

“I’ve always believed that Singapore society is generally tolerant, open and relaxed about people whose sexual orientations are different from ours even if we don’t agree with them,” Low said. [UK Guardian],

I wish the LGBT gang and friends would conduct a proper survey or poll on the attitudes of S’poreans towards LGBTs. They recently talked of a right- wing minority trying to subvert the will of the people towards LBGTs, implying that S’poreans approve of their  life-style. Remember? http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2014/07/12/furor-erupts-as-singapore-library-pulls-childrens-books-over-family-values/

After all, money is no problem for the LGBT community. Plenty of ang moh sponsors willing to throw money at them. Ask the investment banks.

*I suspect that 60-70% woulds say “Yes”. Only 30% would say “No”. The 2011 GE and PE results would still be be accurate guides.

**CCA is a research centre of Nanyang Technological University, developed with support from the Economic Development Board, Singapore. Located in Gillman Barracks alongside a cluster of international galleries, the CCA is led by Founding Director Professor Ute Meta Bauer. The CCA takes a holistic approach towards art and culture, intertwining its three platforms: Exhibitions, Residencies and Research.

The CCA positions itself as a centre for critical discourse and experimental practices for Singapore, the region and beyond. It aims to play an active role within the local art scene, as well as being a part of the development of regional and international art infrastructures. (Website)

What the king of Morocco can teach our PM

In Political governance on 09/09/2014 at 4:36 am

Or “Why PM shld send PAP, civil servants study teams to Morocco”)

S’pore we have been told can learn from other cities, our very well paid ministers told us a few months ago when S’pore was hosting a global conference on cities..

Well maybe a visit to the capital of Morocco can teach them how to have the cake and eat it: allow a lively protest culture without changing the PAP’s hegemonic one-party rule.

Since 2011, Morocco has developed a thriving protest culture. Sit-ins and demonstrations are common, and not only in the big cities. There are up to 50 gatherings a day, according to people who have seen statistics kept by the government, though the number is down from its peak in 2011. Gripes range from unemployment and the environment to workers’ rights.

Moves to open up the political space in the 1990s helped produce today’s lively civil society without fundamentally weakening the largely-unreformed ruling monarchy. “

Thanks to some well-timed concessions, King Mohammed VI has escaped the fate of his fellow Arab autocrats. Yet little seems to have changed since a new constitution, purportedly enhancing the powers of parliament, was approved in 2011. Opposition activists complain that power is still held by the palace and that the mildly-Islamist government, elected in the same year, is merely executing the king’s will.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2014/06/protest-culture-morocco

Things must change so that they remain the same*, is shumething the PAP must learn. Sticking to the tots of LKY Hard Truths is not an option for the PAP or PM.

Btw, the king inherited his title, doesn’t have a double first from a world class uni, and his advisers don’t have the papers of our ministers, generals and civil servants. But he and they have devised a system that produces a lively civil society without fundamentally weakening the largely-unreformed ruling monarchy. That’s a real achievement

Btw2, the Saudis are considering making couples attend mandatory “marriage training” before marrying, in order to get married to stem divorces. BBC More S’porean than S’pore. But if we followed their practice of driving licence before marriage …

—-

*The Leopard: The novel is the story of Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina,[3] a 19th-century Sicilian nobleman caught in the midst of civil war and revolution. As a result of political upheaval, the prince’s position in the island’s class system is eroded by newly moneyed peasants and “shabby minor gentry.” As the novel progresses, the Prince is forced to choose between upholding the continuity of upper class values, and breaking tradition to secure continuity of his (nephew’s) family’s influence (“everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same”). A central theme of the story is the struggle between mortality and decay (death, fading of beauty, fading of memories, change of political system, false relics etc.), and abstraction and eternity** (the prince’s love for the stars and calculations, continuity and resilience to change of the Sicilian people). In a letter to a friend, the author notes: “Be careful: the dog Bendicò, is a very important character and is almost the key to the novel”. This heraldic emblem is the key to destruction, in the sense that ruin comes even to the dog.

Wikipedia

(**Think Hard Truths. Err, description seems to fit S’pore under Pinkie?)

Three well-off oldies demanding more

In Uncategorized on 08/09/2014 at 4:20 am

What more do they want? Free gourmet meals? Free maids?

There were three letters to the local, constructive media last week, that showed how greedy, self-centred well-off pioneers can be. One car owning pioneer wants the govt to give people like him almost free extension certs so he can continue driving. Why doesn’t he ask for free petrol and a driver too?

The other two want private property owners to be able to own both a HDB flat and private property. Next they will asking for no property tax on their private properties.

Their sense of entitlement is astounding. Taking their cue from PM and his ministers?

Extend pioneers’ car certificates of entitlement

 Published on Sep 1,

ON BEHALF of the pioneer generation, I extend our gratitude to the Government for taking care of our medical needs. [What a presumptios prick, claiming to speak on behalf of the pioneer generation. [Who elected him? Animal Farm Pigs’ appointee?]

At the risk of sounding greedy [Not sound “greedy”, you are juz putting yr snout in the trough for more], I would like to address another of my generation’s needs – transport. [Hello, how many of yr generation can still afford cars?]

The public transport system here is reasonably good, but not all seniors can easily access and travel by bus or MRT. Taking taxis is too expensive.

Many pioneers like me own cars with certificates of entitlement due to expire in the next few years, and we worry about what we will do when the 10 years are up. COE prices are now very high, so a new car is out of the question, but paying to extend the COE is also very costly.

Most seniors like me use our cars when we buy groceries. It is not practical for us to carry groceries and walk to the bus stop or MRT station.

I suggest that the Government allow a one-time extension of 10 years for pioneers’ old cars.

I have never understood the logic of paying again to retain our cars. After all, we are not adding to the car population. However, if we must pay a fee, it should be an administrative or re-registration fee of between $1,000 and $2,000, subject to these conditions: It should apply to Singaporeans aged 65 and older; there should be just one vehicle registered in the pioneer’s name; there should be only one car registered under the pioneer’s home address or company address.

Such conditions will prevent people from taking advantage of the concession.

Shankar Rajan

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/archive/monday/premium/forum-letters/story/extend-pioneers-car-certificates-entitlement-20140901#sthash.UWO9WjP2.dpuf

Bet you Shankar Rajan will ask for first class healthcare for free next. And free petrol for his Ferrari.

Then there are these two private property owners.

Let seniors buy HDB flat but keep private property

From Chan Kok Hong
Published: 7:04 AM, September 4, 2014
 I refer to the letter “Allow seniors to sell their private property after buying HDB flat” (Sept 2).

Many pioneers may have been fortunate to have bought a private property and resided in it for decades.

 Upon retirement, they may choose to rent out the property, which is too big to maintain for their use if their children are not residing there.

The Housing and Development Board could tweak the rules to allow seniors to buy a flat for themselves to retire in without having to sell their private property, which they could keep for passive income.

Let only elderly with little savings keep private home

 FROM FONG HANG YIN
PUBLISHED: 4:04 AM, SEPTEMBER 5, 2014
I agree with the writer of the letter “Let seniors buy HDB flat but keep private property” (Sept 4).

This could be allowed with conditions, so competition for public housing, which Singaporeans who do not own a home need, is minimised.

 The HDB could sell studio apartments to seniors with little or no Central Provident Fund savings and allow them to keep their private property for passive income.

Owners of private property with a high annual value or those who own more than one private property may not qualify.

A studio apartment is ideal for seniors to live in, as it is easy to maintain and is usually located in mature towns, with amenities and public transport nearby.

With a 30-year lease, it is also affordable for needy seniors.

Private property owners have always been in the minority. In the days before the HDB, there was very little public housing and most S’poreans rented from private landlords. And these private property owners want more.

The pigs of Animal Farm, and the PAP must be proud of Shankar Rajan, Chan Kok Hong and Fong Hang Yin: always asking for more food to put their snouts into.

Thinking about it, maybe new citizen Han Hui Hui has a point in not wanting to work but becoming a welfare queen after Roy becomes PM. People like Shankar Rajan, Chan Kok Hong and Fong Hang Yin deserve people like Roy, Hui Hui and

The brains of PAP ministers & anti-PAP cyber-warriors compared

In Humour on 07/09/2014 at 10:32 am

Monkeys at the top and bottom of the social pecking order have physically different brains, research has found.

A particular network of brain areas was bigger in dominant animals, while other regions were bigger in subordinates.

The study suggests that primate brains, including ours, can be specialised for life at either end of the hierarchy.

The differences might reflect inherited tendencies toward leading or following, or the brain adapting to an animal’s role in life – or a little of both.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29013592

Thai coup leader alleges black magic

In Uncategorized on 07/09/2014 at 4:17 am

Hmm maybe our anti-PAP cyber warriors should take a leaf from Thai oppo.

Thailand’s military leader and premier, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, has accused critics of using black magic against him, it’s reported … Prayuth addressed his critics: “If you still want to fight on and go underground, bring it on. If you resort to performing rituals, just bring it on.” … Magical symbolism has long played a role in Thai politics. During the last big wave of protests in 2010, anti-government demonstrators splattered buckets of their own blood outside the PM’s residence as priests cast a curse on the authorities. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-29075681

Maybe anti-PAP cyber-warriors need to splatter their own blood, given that their curses posted on TRE etc don’t have any effect. But then they don’t even bother to turn up at their heloos’ rallies.

Thai’s expanding S’porean empire

In Reits on 06/09/2014 at 4:59 am

Charoen’s empire (Remember he is bidding to buy OCBC group’s shares in UE).

Those who own Frasers’ reits have to take account of the increased risk profile of the reits. There is no longer cash rich, conservative F&N as the fall back, indulgent parent (it rescued FCT by injecting a valuable asset in the 2007/ 2008crisis). There is a Thai billionaire who it seems is geared to his eye-balls and more. In the 1997/ 1998 crisis, he nearly went bust.

Precisely why many are concerned about immigration, Khaw

In Economy on 05/09/2014 at 4:33 am

“Against the many racial and religious conflicts elsewhere that we read about almost every day, the state of affairs here in Singapore is truly extraordinary. We must treasure it,” said Minister Khaw at a ceremony to hand out 194 citizenships to new arrivals. A total of about 3,150 new citizens were given their citizenship dog-tags slave collars papers in ceremonies across the island last weekend.

It’s precisely because we want to avoid racial and religious conflicts that we are concerned with the creation of new citizenas, the way we plant “instant” trees. The latter is good, while the former harks back to the bad old* days.

In 1959 (the 50s and early 60s* were according to the PAP and the constructive, nation-building media bad. (Actually they were paid bad according to my parents, only PJ Thum, TOC’s favourite authority on the period, seems to think that juz because S’pore was second biggest port in Asia, things were great then.). In 1959, only 270,00 out of the 600,000 voters were born here. When one LKY revealed the above fact in 1959, LKY also said,”we must go about our task (of building up a nation) with urgency … of integrating our people now and quickly”.

So waz his son doing? I tot it took the third generation to destroy the prosperity, fortune built up by the patriarch. Is Pinky trying to destroy dad’s legacy in the second generation, even if as it seems dad may have repented of his decision to integrate S’poreans?

(Relevant, related post )

So the PAP and other FT lovers like Kirsten Han and William Wan should stop calling those who are concerned about immigration, xenophobes. They should be talking about the unfairness of PRC thugs bullying old-age aunties trying to earn a living: the PRCs it seems came here to do what the old aunties were doing, scavenge for cardboard waste. Tot PM says S’pore imports FTs to do jobs S’poreans can’t, or wont do. So how come PAP govt allows these PR FTs to steal from aunties, the way Indian, Pinoy FTs steal jobs from local PMEs?

But being FT lovers, they won’t. Btw, be thank for small mercies: the FTs still don’t have their very own NMP since William Wan didn’t get to becpme NMP. Taz far, if the hard core anti-PAP voters didn’t get Roy Ngerng, FTs too shouldn’t get their very own MP.

—–

*Racial tensions, racial riots, political riots, massive unemployment.

 

StanChart’s looking dysfunctional/ Problem for ang moh banks

In Banks on 04/09/2014 at 4:41 am

One problem after another. Can’t do anything right. Please American regulators, upset an Arab one.

Standard Chartered Could Face U.A.E. Legal Action Standard Chartered’s unit in the United Arab Emirates may face legal challenges after the British bank agreed to close some accounts as part of a deal with New York State’s banking regulator. Standard Chartered agreed on Tuesday to pay a $300 million fine for running afoul of a 2012 settlement to resolve accusations that the bank processed transactions for Iran and other countries blacklisted by the United States.

Fine inflation

Star British fund manager Neil Woodford sold his fund’s stake in HSBC (HSBA.L) last month, citing concerns about the impact of potential fines from several industry-wide investigations on the banking group.

Banks in Europe and the United States have been fined for a variety of transgressions as regulators increase their scrutiny of financial institutions

“I am worried that the ongoing investigation into the historic manipulation of Libor and foreign exchange markets could expose HSBC to significant financial penalties,” Woodford said in a blog posting on his fund’s website.

“Not only are these potentially serious offences in the eyes of the regulator, but HSBC is very able to pay a substantial fine,”

For Woodford, who began building a stake in the UK’s biggest lender in 2013 after avoiding the sector since 2002, HSBC was “a different beast” to its peers, many of which still had problems over the quality of their loan books, capital adequacy and high leverage ratios.

In spite of the fact he considered HSBC a “conservatively-managed, well-capitalised business with a good spread of international assets”, Woodford said he had become concerned in recent weeks about the threat of “fine inflation”.

From the $1.9 billion paid by HSBC in 2012 over money laundering to the $16.7 billion set to be paid by Bank of America over its role in selling toxic mortgages, fines were increasing, Woodford said, and looked to be based on a company’s ability to pay “rather than the scale of the transgression”.

With the size of any potential fine “unquantifiable”, Woodford said he was concerned about HSBC’s dividend payouts. The stock currently yields 4.8 percent, against a FTSE100 average of 3.8 percent.

“A substantial fine could hamper HSBC’s ability to grow its dividend, in my view. I have therefore sold the fund’s position in HSBC, reinvesting the proceeds into parts of the portfolio in which I have greater conviction,” he said. Reuters

For the record, HSBC is trading at 1.1x book, its European peers are at 0.9, while StanChart is at 1.03. Our banks are at 1.3.

Swedish minister: Why public sector pay shldn’t be benchmarked to private sector

In Political governance, Public Administration on 03/09/2014 at 4:52 am

Peter Norman is Sweden’s financial markets minister. He is reforming Sweden’s state pension schemes, known as the AP funds; cutting five funds into three. Despite a background in financial services, he is against benchmarking public sector pay to that of the private sector: FT reported on Monday

Adding insult to injury for those working at the AP funds, whose jobs are now at risk, Mr Norman also wants to cut the salaries of those who will remain at the three buffer funds drastically.

He believes their salaries should not be benchmarked against private sector companies but against other public authorities, such as the central bank, where pay is far less generous. He does not buy the argument that this will result in a “brain drain”.

“Take SMHI, which delivers the [Swedish] weather forecasts,” he says. “Surely there is a weatherman in the US who is considered the best in the world and who earns an astronomical salary, but that doesn’t mean someone at SMHI should earn the same. We need discipline.”*

Benchmarking salaries in this way would cut the pay for AP staff in half, according to those inside the funds. “It is a tough pill to swallow,” says Mr Norman, who has spoken out against excessive pay in the financial industry frequently.

 —-

*Reminds me of the time when ministers salaries were linked to remiser king, Peter Lim’s take-home pay. Wong Kan Seng, Mah Bow Tan, Yaacob and Raymond Lim that gd meh?

New citizens: Why doesn’t PM, PAP condemn this behaviour, close NS loophole?

In Political governance, Public Administration on 02/09/2014 at 4:54 am

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has urged new citizens to engage in the community where they live and take part in community activities. Speaking at a citizenship ceremony at the Ang Mo Kio and Sengkang West constituencies on Saturday (Aug 30), Mr Lee said he hopes the new citizens will actively integrate into society and discover more about Singapore.

About 150 new Singaporeans from the constituencies received their citizenship certificates and identification cards at the ceremony in the afternoon*. (CNA on Sunday). (Context: A total of about 3,150 new citizens were given their citizenship tin ceremonies across the island last weekend.)

This reminded me of two-timing new citizen Raj and the inaction on a loophole he is using to ensure his son avoids NS.. I posted this last yr

We did NS to protect this new citizen? WTF!

In Public Administration on 03/07/2013 at 1:53 pm

I was shocked when I read this:

An Indian former FT who prefers international schools is new citizen, Raj, originally from India. During an interview with TOC [Link], Raj revealed that only he in the family has converted to Singapore citizenship. His wife and daughter remain PRs and his son is on a student pass.

Raj said that if his son was a PR, he would need to serve NS. He preferred to “let his son decide if he wanted to put his roots down in Singapore or go back to India when he turns 21″.

The benefit of having his son on a student pass is that his son can always work in Singapore later as a “foreign talent” and eventually become a PR himself. He will not be considered a second-generation PR since he was not sponsored by his parents in the first place. A second-generation PR who gives up his PR is barred from working in Singapore.(http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/07/03/st-report-reveals-indian-fts-prefer-to-send-their-kids-to-international-instead-of-local-schools/)

Why the loop-hole, and why hasn’t it been closed? It must be commonly used for this FT to talk publicly about it, is my guess

Now, I RODed in the 70s,  am a bachelor and I don’t have children, but I’m upset at this loop-hole. Imagine the anguish of a parent whose son died while doing NS if he finds out that its so easy for new citizens and PRs to avoid legally NS?

This loop-hole had better be closed, and fast.

Hopefully some MP will raise this issue in parly especially as most PAP and WP male MPs have done NS. I know Puthu (very proud of the fact it seems based on his own words) and one Malay MP did not do NS. I know that excluding Low, all the Chinese and the sole Indian male MPs have done NS. Not sure about the Malay WP MP.

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

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/new-citizens-is-the-govt-naive-or-cynical/(added in October 2013)

(Btw, no MP has raised this issue. The Worthless Party MPs have been mute on this issue, as on several other issues.)

And this

New citizens: Is the govt naive or cynical?

In Humour, Political governance on 09/08/2013 at 4:38 am

New citizen Raj may be attending something like this party (at tax-payers’ expense, but then he too pays tax) http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-31/other-news/40913953_1_singapore-island-indian-community-gala.

But I suspect, he and his family, are celebrating by desecrating our flag (the PRC flag “r” ours) in the most disgusting manner possible, while laughing at the PAP govt that gave him citizenship, and cooking a nasty smelling curry to upset their S.porean HDB neighbours. Lest readers forget, new citizen Raj boasted to TOC that his son was set to avoid NS while still being to then become a FT PR. I wish the defence minister would close this loop-hole. Instead he seems to prefer to play the DRUMS (Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation and Smears) to the beat of RAVI (Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications & Insinuations (or is it Insults?).

Come to think of it, if Raj is such a devious man, he could be avoiding or evading paying his taxes. Taz talent for you.

Seriously, a friend who has spent many, many yrs working overseas, returning home ten yrs ago with a family, is not surprised that new citizens will be loyal to their new country.

He said although he had worked for many yrs in a foreign country, he wouldn’t have had the slightest hesitation to leave that country if there were problems there. Why should the govt here expect FTs to behave any differently, juz because they get S’pore citizenship, he asks? He said even if he had been given foreign citizenship, he would have cut and run if there was trouble. He doesn’t expect our new FT citizens to behave any differently. More fool the govt if it believes that they will defend S’pore, he says.

He made these points loud and clear when attending a session organised by a govt related think-tank. He actually wasn’t invited because it was organised for FTs. But his wife, a FT, received an invitation, and suggested to him that the event was his kind of do, especially as he would know many of the S’poreans from the think-tank. He did, including the boss.

So is the govt naive when it believes and assures us that new citizens will do the right thing by S’pore? Or is it cynical, wanting them only because it hopes they will drive economic growth by providing competition to local PMETs thereby keeping a cap on wage costs? Even some PAP MPs seem to think that FT provide unfair competitionhttp://news.xin.msn.com/en/singapore/local-pmets-continued-to-face-unfair-foreign-competition-say-mps

BTW, my friend tells me that his son will do NS, after he finishes poly. I had told him I was disappointed to hear Yaacob, the Spin and Malay minister, say several yrs ago that he would encourage his son to do NS. His son, like my friend’s son, can opt out of being a citizen, thereby avoiding NS.

Have a gd day. And don’t curse the PAP and LKY  today. They too are S’poreans. And Cursing or being angry at the PAP and LKY, is like cursing or being angry at a Sith Lord. It only makes them stronger. They thrive on hatred.

Don’t feel guilty if you enjoy the spectacle. You paid for it. Don’t feel guilty too if you don’t go to Hong Lim to protest celebrate the people’s way. S’pore’s a broad church and the PAP govt ain’t that intolerant.

Majulah Singapura to you.

——-

*Speaking at the citizenship ceremony, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that changing citizenship is a major decision. “It’s not just weighing up the benefits and the costs rationally and doing a spreadsheet and say ‘Okay, now cost-benefit breaks even’, but committing your heart – what identity do you adopt, what values will you make your own, where will your loyalty lie,” Mr Lee said.

Prime Minister Lee acknowledged there will be some adjustments new Singaporeans will have to make because they all come from different cultures. But he said he is confident that their roots will grow year by year, just as it was with the older generations of Singaporeans.

Mr Lee encouraged the new arrivals to serve the community alongside Singaporeans and to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday next year with fellow citizens. He also urged residents to help the new citizens fit in on a more personal level – by inviting them for community events and for meals at their homes.

At an earlier ceremony in the morning, another 200 new Singaporeans living in the Ang Mo Kio and Sengkang West constituencies received their citizenship certificates. 

Kong & lieutenants: God’s fools or the Joker is God

In Humour, Property on 01/09/2014 at 4:46 am

Here’s the evidence that they’re fools. Or evidence that God’s the model for the Joker , Batman’s foe.

Penny wise, pound foolish? 

One thing has puzzled me about the management team’s actions.

It was obvious from the testimony so far that at least his lietenants knew that the way that Sun Ho’s carrer was being funded* could be an issue with the auditors. Hence they claimed they had disclosed everything to the auditors esp to Comrade Brother Foong Daw Ching the head of the audit firm, who they claimed knew everything and was their consultant. Daw and the auditors denied everything, but they would wouldn’t they? Their testimony reminded me of “I know nothing, nothing” German sergeant in Hogan’s Heroes (a tv comedy series in the 70s)

What puzzled me was the absence of lawyers’ advice.

Now we know that Kong and gang only sought legal advice after police questioning

“Shaken to the core” was how the founder of the City Harvest Church felt when he was told by lawyers in early June 2010 that he and his five deputies had been negligent and “had done wrong” in managing the church’s finances.

Recounting yesterday that he had met up with the other accused and two lawyers a day after he recorded his first statement to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), Kong Hee, 49, said he had always consulted the lawyers and auditors on the church’s plans, be it bond investments or the financing of his singer-wife Sun Ho’s debut English album in the United States.

Taking the stand for the fourth day, he said: “I was shocked because I thought that all this while, we had relied on professionals to advise us; now one of the key professionals was saying we had done wrong.” (BT 15 August)

Were Kong and his lieutenants too mean to pay for legal advice. Every little penny for Auntie Ho and her Hollywoods friends?

Or did they have a suspicion that lawyers would advice against scheme? Too clever by half then?

Trusted that Kong had line to God

Xtron** had projected album sales of S$16 million in 2011, and S$23 million in 2012. A prosectuorpointed out that given there was neither a distribution contract nor an album contract, the figures were either “false, or at very best, purely speculative”.

John Lam, one of the defendants, said it was his belief in Kong Hee’s ability to make the Crossover Project a success which led to him supporting the church’s investment into the Xtron bonds, despite knowing that Xtron was not a profitable company, and that Sun Ho’s music albums were losing money.

We we now know based on the losses Kong is suffering as a result of his Sentosa Cove penthouse, that he doesn’t have a direct line the Fock Lok Siew God of Prosperity.

Dozens of houses – complete with their own private yacht berths and multiple swimming pools – sit empty while few lights are on in the apartment blocks overlooking the marina, a few kilometres away from Sentosa’s giant casino.

Prices in the gated community, where Australian mining tycoons Gina Rinehart and Nathan Tinkler bought properties, fell around 20 per cent in the past year as lending restrictions and taxes on foreign buyers burst a bubble in the South-east Asian financial hub’s luxury real estate market.

Investors could see the value of their assets fall even further with developers and investors still struggling to sell even after the recent price falls.(BT 29 August)

Earlier article on Sentosa and Kong.

So why does the congregation still trust that he has a private line to god? Time to sacrifice him to propitiate the prosperity god? Or is CHC the ship of fools?

Not trusting CHC members

If only Khong and gang had trusted the congregation, and raised funds for Sun Ho’s Hollywood lifestyle. It’s clear from their actions: supporting “Project Crossover” after being told how it had been funded, and funding the defence of most of the defendants). Oh ye people of little faith.

 

To end on a different note,

The court also heard that the money spent on Ms Ho’s US album went “down the drain” when she had to return to Singapore to assist with investigations into the alleged financial irregularities within the church.

It’s obvious that the anti-PAP cyber-warriors hate those who are more well-off than them. Shouldn’t they be cursing the govt for making Kong, Ho and gang lose money, and spoiling her career? Or are the most virulent anti-PAP ranters also envious born-losers?

——

*The prosecution alleges that payments between the church and Xtron was essentially moving money from one pocket to another. Its case is that the bonds were merely a device to funnel money from the church’s building fund into Xtron to be used for the church’s Crossover Project. Fronted by Ms Ho, the project was the church’s way of evangelising through pop music.

“The idea of using Xtron bonds was so it could be presented as an investment, and hide the fact that you were using building fund monies to fund Sun’s career,” said Lead Prosecutor Mavis Chionh, adding that there were telling signs that the bond investments were not genuine. For example, the church did not carry out due diligence on Xtron before subscribing to the bonds.

Money that went to Xtron was largely used to fund the church’s Crossover Project. In cross-examining former church board member John Lam, the prosecution pointed out that there was no basis for Xtron’s huge projected sales of Ms Ho’s then-delayed US album.

Church monies to the tune of S$4.79 million were used to meet expenses related to Sun Ho’s music albums, and this was something the church leaders had tried to hide, said the prosecution in the trial of City Harvest Church leaders on Tuesday (Aug 5)

**One of the companies the church invested in was Xtron, Ms Ho’s artiste management firm.

 

 

 

SIA boleh, MAS tak boleh

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——

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

 

 

When will the last S’porean move on?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Putting Roy’s fund raising efforts into a global perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

The truth about consultants/ Can PwC be trusted?

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

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

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

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

Con persons not professionals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their adoring fans are: Loud Thunder, Little Rain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

———-

*He was telling a new media website.

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

***I’m not anti-PAP.

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

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

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

PussiesXII, Kittens?/ MSM coverage of LionsXII

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

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

The Cubs covered themselves in disgraceful in Brunei,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PussiesXII and Kittens?

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

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

Tourism potential of Indon, Vietnam & Burma

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

Number of foreign visitors received in 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well the Thai jumta now has its very own version.

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

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

Banyan (19th August 2014)

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

How moronic and spastic can a PAPpy get?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—-

Vocal minority drowning out voices of majority on TRE

Dear TRE and readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PAP’s bible challenges “market-based solution”

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

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

But now the Econimist seems to have second tots.

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

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

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

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

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

 

What Big Ass teach our govt and SME employers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s also about spending on R&D

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

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

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

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

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

—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Integrated Shield Plans? Waste of money? Cont’d

In CPF, Financial competency, Financial planning on 19/08/2014 at 4:30 am
When TRE republished my piece on S’pore overinsuring their healthcare that pointed out, But seven in 10 armed with IPs that target Class A wards in public hospitals chose to stay in lower ward classes when hospitalised. Only one in 10 from the same group chose private hospitals.Echoing a similar trend were those with IPs that target private hospitals – six in 10 chose lower ward classes in public hospitals. The committee noted twice in its report that many Singaporeans want medical treatment beyond that provided in Class B2/C wards but have “over-stretched themselves to buy the most expensive product for higher protection”.,
two responses stood out, one rubbishy (but which I suspect explains why many gold plate and gem encrust their Medishield plans) and the other sensible.
But both imply that because the money’s there in the Medisave a/c so spend it leh (a major point of my piece was that the ltd uses of Medisave “encouraged” gold plating and gem encrusting medical insurance. Btw, an actuary tells me that insurers don’t really make much money from such plans, but admits that it could be because they are inefficient.):
Ace:

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

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

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

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

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

 

spiny dogfish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danger of buying for yield alone

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

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

(FT’s Lex)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(my emphasis)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) stretch the monthly payout well beyond life expectancy and

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

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

The Basic Plan

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

(My emphasis)

Chris K

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

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

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

S’poreans: 11th in lying on hols experience

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

I’ll answer briefly the two questions you posed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The views expressed here are mine and mine alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gau Siam!

 

 

 

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

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

manufacturing wages

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

“Cheaper, Better, Faster’

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

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

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

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

 

It’s more about financing; car dealers contradicts LTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related articles

Property * credit

Property & credit II

Property & credit III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So,

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

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

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

Related posts:

LKY & greenery

Green S’pore

———–

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

Cyber warriors: Spyware is cheaply available

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The gd news that it won’t work.

But let’s begin with the message.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is right.

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

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

Dizzying optical illusions by Akiyoshi Kitaoka – in pictures

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

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

 

NatDay wish: Govt stop aping other places

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

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

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

— Germany’s SMEs’ structure;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Detention in 1963

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

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

Trip to London

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

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

Return to Singapore and Law Practice

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

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

The 1977 Detention

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

Jing Quee the Man of Letters

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

Jing Quee the Man

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

Roy’s defence has me confused

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

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

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

So why apologise, if there is no defamation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So did this later on:

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

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

My take then on all these.

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

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

Curiouser and curiouser.

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

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

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

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