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Archive for February, 2015|Monthly archive page

Iskandar: Hoping for Chinese buyers? Dream on

In Malaysia on 28/02/2015 at 4:48 am

Funny people M’suan developers. They miss fears of a property glut in Iskandar http://business.asiaone.com/property/news/housing-glut-worries-over-johors-mega-projects saying that the Chinese from China (not S’pore) will buy the properties.

Well there is a very influential group of Malays in UMNO (the top dog in the ruling National Front) that has a problem with local Chinese. They’d freak out over an influx of real Chinese buyers living in Johor. They are likely to view such buyers as a fifth column for the Chinese enclave off Johor>

And for the developers to assume that the potential buyers are clueless about the racial tensions is an assumption too far.

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Double confirm: PAP TCs treat biz better than residents

In Political governance on 27/02/2015 at 5:04 am

Thanks to the mouthpieces of the WP, TOC and TRE (temporarily I hope), we now know that the Pet Minister in parly circulated a paper that showed that the managing agent’s commercial and residential rates are the same in PAP managed town councils. They say that this is wrong as there is a difference. in PAP areas between the two rates.

So far, I’ve not heard the PAP administration saying that someone made an “honest mistake” and given the correct numbers.

So I have to assume, at the very least, that the administration believes the numbers: that residents and businesses pay the same rate.

So shouldn’t we conclude that the PAP administration is so pro-biz that it charges businesses the same as residents rather than more as is logical? After all businesses are set up to make money for the owners, unlike residents. Isn’t the WP more people friendly by charging residents less, a lot less?

What do you  think?

Update on 1 March 5.45 am: Reader explains that PAP explained whuy numbers same. They claim the figures presented are weighted average. If there are 20,000 residential units and only 200 commercial units, the weighted average would be very close to the residential rate. WP should ask them to present the average rate for commercial.

SGX: One going, two more to go

In Uncategorized on 26/02/2015 at 1:42 pm

Well the Foreign Trash that is CEO is leaving soon. Here’s how another FT describes his tenure

It’s been a tough five years for Bocker. The Australian government blocked his attempt to expand by buying rival ASX for $8.3 billion in 2010. A penny-stock scandal in 2013 hit trading volumes, while technical glitches brought trading to a halt twice in a single month last year, drawing fire from city-state’s central bank. During the 53-year old’s tenure, SGX shares have lagged Singapore’s benchmark stock index, rising just 3.3 percent.

The main drag has been the securities business which now accounts for less than one third of SGX’s revenue. The average daily value of shares traded is close to its lowest level in five years. Though SGX has cut clearing fees, volumes have not risen sufficiently to compensate. The division’s revenue was 16.9 percent lower in the six months to the end of December compared to the same period a year earlier.

A new drive to establish direct connections with other exchanges in southeast Asia and beyond is unlikely to provide any material boost. Meanwhile, up-and-coming neighbours are eating away at SGX’s share of initial public offerings. Despite Thailand’s military coup, new listings in Bangkok raised more money than in Singapore last year.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2015/02/25/singapore-exchanges-next-ceo-faces-ho-hum-job/

The other two Foreign Trashes, the president and head tech should be sent packing too ASAP.

Look on the bright side, Cybernuts

In Uncategorized on 26/02/2015 at 4:55 am

The Budget goodies (good summary from Yahoo) had TOC reduced to saying: The cynical among us would see Budget 2015 as an extension of a vote-buying scheme from Budget 2014. The focus of 2014 was on the elderly through the Pioneer Generation Package, and 2015 saw a distinctive shift towards the middle-income wage earners.

Some attention was paid on the Silver Support Scheme and levelling CPF contributions, but a lot more attention went towards tweaking policies for innovation and productivity, education for both the working group and children, transport cost and taxes – issues that concern the working folks.

By the pecking order of election goodies, the People’s Action Party government seems to be working its way through every sector of society, dishing out benefits to make, eventually, everyone happy. Or is it?

That TOC is reduced to this kind of rhetorical rubbish shows that the cybernuts in the anti-PAP movement can only shout into the storm like the mad (Or was he bi-polar?) King Lear in criticising the Budget. Of course, the Budget (any budget) could give more goodies, but as an attempt to bribe us with a our money, it’s pretty decent.

And the Budget isn’t the only source of heartache and grief to the cybernuts

The revelation that TRS has an FT editor (a cross between and Oz and a Nip) has caused a lot of angst and soul-searching among these anti-PAP cybernuts: born losers who were cheering on TRS as the only publication that gave vent to their sense of outrage against FTs, the PAP and all things S’porean: they don’t have the good life that they think they are entitled to and it’s the fault of other S’poreans. Ever tot of hard work and brains?

But they should again look on the bright side: even an FT can be anti-PAP cybernut despite all the TLC and money that the PAPpies lavish on FTs.

Better still, these born losers can look forward to the return of Goh Meng Seng to politics. Doubtless they will be cheering even louder when he rejoins the NSP, a party whose leaders he slimed a yr after he let his party mewmbership lapse. For the record, the party president remains the same then as now. In fact he has been the president since the party was founded in the 1990s.

But better GMS in the NSP than standing as an independent. He could have formed a team to fight Aljunied*. Back in the NSP, he’d have to observe the “chop” policy among the Oppo parties. I don’t think NSP is that bi-polar as to break the pact because GMS wants to fight the WP in Aljunied.

Too hard on GMS? Remember, he has urged S’poreans to vote for the right opposition party, not juz any oppo party  This call implies that the people will be given a choice between the “right” and “not right” oppo party.

—-

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

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

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

HEADACHES AT HSBC

In Banks on 25/02/2015 at 6:03 pm

The British bank HSBC is facing battles on multiple fronts. Already forced to apologize for helping clients hide their income from tax authorities, the bank also had to explain on Monday why its chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, went to lengths for years to hide his bonus, at least from his co-workers, Jenny Anderson writes in DealBook. On top of all that, HSBC, which generates much of its income from Asia, reported abysmal results for 2014, saying that its profit fell 15 percent, to $13.7 billion, compared with $16.2 billion in 2013.

The Guardian newspaper reported late Sunday that Mr. Gulliver held at least 5 million pounds, or $7.7 million, in a Swiss account through a Panamanian company until 2003. Mr. Gulliver said on Monday that the account was legal and that he had paid all the required taxes, but his maneuvers nevertheless compound a problem for the bank’s reputation, which is still dealing with the fallout from efforts by its Swiss private banking arm to help wealthy clients evade taxes, Ms. Anderson writes.

Mark Gilbert of Bloomberg View writes: “The cascade of recent revelations suggests HSBC still hasn’t learned its lesson and is more of a social menace than a social good. Mr. Gulliver’s personal tax arrangements may not be illegal, but they are surely ill-advised and inappropriate.” Unless Douglas Flint, HSBC’s chairman, “pulls off an Oscar-worthy performance at Wednesday’s parliamentary hearing, HSBC will only have itself to blame if the authorities decide the bank is too big to regulate and respond by seeking its dismemberment.”

NYT Dealbook

Update on 26 Feb 2015 at 6.30 am

More than a tax problem : http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31590613

Major shareholders getting cranky: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31618032

Budget: Ask in a very loud voice:

In Economy, Financial competency, Political governance on 25/02/2015 at 4:34 am

“After GE, will the PAP administration raise GST rates and by how much?”

After all, an ally and cheer leader of the PAP administration wrote about the Budget:

Mr Tharman flagged this gap … about the 1 percentage point projected gap between long-term revenues and long-term spending. The latter is tipped to go up to 19 to 19.5 per cent of GDP from now, as Singapore opens its coffers to spend on health care, retirees, and on infrastructure and investment in education. The former hovers around 18 to 18.5 per cent of GDP.

How to make up the shortfall of about 1 per cent of GDP?

This is a structural issue that will have resonance beyond this Budget.*

As it’s unlikely that the Wayang Party will raise the issue about the rise in GST rates after the GE in Parly* because it may still be hoping to curry favour with the MIW by not asking difficult questions, responsible bloggers and cyber-warriors should ask the question.

So should all voters (pro PAP or anti-PAP alike, GST affects everyone) who meet their PAP MPs and their PA grassroot hangers-on when they come to lobby for votes. Especially when the MPs and hangers-on boast of all the goodies voters are getting, parroting a gushing a PAP apologist, if ever there was one,who wrote in ST:.

I tried frantically to keep up with noting down the giveaways as Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam reeled them off as he announced the Budget 2015. …

All in, it can be said to be a sensible yet generous Budget, albeit at the expense of the very high-income. It may disappoint those who wanted a big SG50 Bonus to celebrate the nation’s Jubilee. But it does give out a mass hongbao to all Singaporeans, via top-ups to education funds for children and students, and via the new $500 SkillsFuture Credit for workers. – See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/opinion/columns/story/singapore-budget-2015-7-reasons-why-years-robin-hood-budget-matters-20150#sthash.CK7uOl8a.0xjbXaNf.dpuf

The answer we want to hear is what Tharman said in 2011

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has reiterated that the goods and services tax (GST) will not be raised for at least another five years …“As Finance Minister, I have made that very clear in Parliament that at least for the next five years – it does not mean we will raise it in five years’ time – but at least for five years, there is absolutely no reason to raise the GST, because this was the whole idea – we strengthen our revenue base in time. (CNA)

And finally let’s remember that all this money the PAP administration is throwing at us is our money, not that of the PAP’s administration.

*Yes, Yes I know: Mr Tharman has a way to close that 1 per cent gap: Use projected long-term returns from Temasek Holdings.

The Net Investment Return formula framework was implemented in 2009. He said: “Under the framework, the Government is allowed to spend up to 50 per cent of the expected long term real returns on its net assets managed by MAS and GIC.”

Temasek was left out as it was undergoing a major change in investment strategy. Mr Tharman said it was a good time to add Temsek to the mix.

So this Budget is important for signalling the long-term gap in revenue and spending.

It is also significant for using a new framework that allows Singapore to tap a wider pool of money from expected investment returns on its reserves into the future. 

“The move will bolster our fiscal resources at a time when we have to fund long-term critical infrastructure and develop the human talent and capabilities to secure our future.”– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/opinion/columns/story/singapore-budget-2015-7-reasons-why-years-robin-hood-budget-matters-20150#sthash.CK7uOl8a.0xjbXaNf.dpuf

Doubtless, the cybernuts will say that their heloo, Roy the Hooligan is responsible for this change in govt policy, though I’m sure s/o JBJ would dispute this, saying Tharman stole his idea.

But do remember that the other cybernuts’ hero Ong Teng Cheong wanted all the returns from the resreves locked away for good. It’s in the DNA of the PAP to make life tough for us. So unless we get the PAP to rule out a GST increase after the election, we could get screwed.

This  is what a FT based here says: Ten years ago, the Singapore’s preferred choice would have been to raise its goods and services tax. Levies on consumption are easier to collect and less flighty than the incomes of high-earning expatriates. But that option is now politically infeasible. The People’s Action Party, which has ruled Singapore throughout its 50-year history as an independent nation and must call an election by January 2017, is wary of upsetting voters.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2015/02/24/piketty-meets-pragmatism-in-singapore-tax-hike/

But this cock (Trash?) forgets that the administration can raise GST after the GE, if no-one holds its feet to the fire on the issue in the run up to the GE.

**Mrs Chiam may have other issues that she thinks are more important and this batch of NMPs are not the kind to rock the boat. And I don’t blame them, if the co-driver (each MP getting $15,000 a month) sets a bad example, what can one expect?

SG50 versus BRK50

In Financial competency on 24/02/2015 at 4:32 pm

Berkshire Hathaway celebrates 50 years under Mr Buffett’s control this year

If you had $1000 in BKR in 1965, you’d be worth US$11m ++ http://www.businessinsider.sg/if-you-had-invested-with-warren-buffett-2014-8/#.VOryoXyUc7E

PAP got so good meh?

A little humility pls PAP. Especially as Mr Buffett pays himself “peanuts” by yr standards.

Buffett Wealth Chart Regular

What the parly debate about AHPETC’s accounts really tell us

In Political governance on 24/02/2015 at 5:09 am

That, Low and gang tot they had a deal with the PAP administration to

“Let sleeping dogs lie”;

“I scratch yr back, you scratch my back”; and

“We both see, hear, talk no evil”?

Taz what I can reasonably conclude after Low told us that the handover in Aljunied was not easy and that the WP faced many problems of the PAP’s making in response to the PAP administration telling us of the problems with AHPETC’s accounts..

As a long time observer of the PAP, his complaints ring true. These problems came as no surprise to those of us who worry that if the PAP loses a general election, the handover to the new govt will not be easy.

What annoys me is that the WP kept quiet over these problems for over two years. Why did it keep quiet? A responsible oppo party who says it’s a co-driver who believes in accountability and transparency, would have publicised much earlier the problems it faced. But it kept silent until after the the PAP administration threw mud at it, in an attempt to fix it. It then started to tell the truth about the handover.

Seems reasonable to conclude that if the PAP had not slimed WP in an attempt to fix it, we would never have been told by the WP of the problems it faced or how dastardly the PAP administration can behave when it loses?

At the very least it shows us the WP was prepared to let sleeping dogs sleep, and sweep matters under the carpet if the PAP didn’t try to fix it.

Could this explain why the WP did not

— call for the nationalisation of the public transport system, a WP manifesto call, when the PAP administration used public funds to buy buses for listcos;

— harass aggressively the PAP administration on the inadequacies of CPF system, Medishield*, education, and the affordability and  timeliness** of public housing;

— ask more questions about corruption in the public service in the light of court revelations?

Could it be that the WP tot they had a deal with the PAP? WP would help PAP wayang voters in return for the PAP keeping mum on the way the WP managed conflicts of interest and the accounts of AHPETC?

The WP couldn’t care less about the “little people” who expected them to be a co-driver, holding the PAP to account?

What do you think?

Was the WP behaving like the Wayang Party rather than the face-slapping co-driver we were promised?

Does the WP realise support for the opposition comes from disenchantment with the PAP administration rather than vote of confidence for itself and the other opposition parties, and cynically using this insight to lead the good life in parliament and the AHPETC?

No matter what it does, it’ll retain enough supporters to enable some members to leave the good life?

What do you think?

And finally to all those WP apologists who made excuses for the WP or claimed that the WP was playing the long game, what say you?

Next polling day, I’ll be travelling. Sorry JJ, I think you are a good guy, but the WP sucks. This is from from someone who voted for the WP when it was made of ex-Woodbridge nutters and bicycle thieves, led by an egoistic wind-bag.

*It’s response to the govt’s answers to the WP’s questions on Medishield was most disappointing. The actuarial consensus seems to be that Medishield’s premiums are a lot higher than they should be given the level of benefits.

**I’ve been told that a couple would have to wait five years, from time of application, to move into a BTO flat. And Khaw says the supply and demand for public housing are almost in balance?

 

Short S$ long Rupee, US$/ Strong Asean currencies

In Currencies, Emerging markets, India on 23/02/2015 at 12:50 pm

Morgan Stanley is recommending going long on the US dollar against the Singapore dollar, the Thai baht and the South Korean won and a long position in the rupee against the Singapore

Of course MS’s assumption is that US raises rates. Didn’t happen lasy yr when that was conventional wisdom.

But India looks pretty good: As Rivals Falter, India’s Economy Is Surging Ahead Long considered a laggard, India is seeing a lift in its stock market as multinational companies look to expand operations there or start new ones, The New York Times reports.

And according to Credit Suisse, India is a major bet for global EM managers these days. Funds on average hold over 15% of their portfolios in Indian companies, double the benchmark weighting. Gd for them: in USD terms, India’s up 41%

The Indian rupee, the Philippine peso, Thai baht and Taiwanese dollar have strengthened against the US dollar, making repayment of dollar debt easier in these places.

Btw, still long Ascendas India Trust.

A long standing CPF sore remains untreated

In Financial competency, Financial planning, Political governance on 23/02/2015 at 5:29 am

On Friday, someone (no PAP rat) mumbled something about rising expectations as though it was a bad thing. I said given high ministerial and civil service salaries, very high expectations and standards must be the quid pro quo for the salaries especially as ministers and civil servants seem to have security of office despite non-performance (think Yaacob, Mah Bow Tan, Raymond Lim, Lim Hng Khiang). He conceded the reasonableness and fairness of the link.

Yesterday, I read something in TRE which should have been solved a long time ago by the PAP administration (ministers and senior bureaucrats) but not: S’poreans, after the age of 55, having to make HDB* mortgage payments in cash , even though they have some money somewhere in the CPF accoint which remains locked up..

I been driving taxi for the past 5 years now and recently turned 55. For the past 9 years, I have had zero CPF contributions and have slowly used up all the remaining balance in my CPF Ordinary Account to pay for my monthly HDB loan. I even had to give up all my insurance policies, since I couldn’t afford to pay the premiums any longer.
Earlier in the year, I sought assistance from my PAP MP to use my CPF Special Account, which still had about $90K balance left but which is utterly useless since it falls far below the stupid Minimum Sum of $155K. After my MP’s appeal, CPF Board allowed usage of my Special Account to pay my monthly HDB loan (of course la, appeal from PAP MP what!).
To my huge surprise, I have now received an officious letter from HDB asking me to pay cash for my monthly housing loan because of my turning 55. This means that my Special Account has now been converted into a “Retirement Account” and because it falls way short of the $155K Minimum Sum, I could no longer use my stupid CPF to pay for my HDB loan. This is how idiotic the law works against those Singaporeans like myself who are struggling to make ends meet everyday.

On Facebook someone posted this in sympathy:

Many people will not have that minimum $155k in their CPF when they turn 55 because a lot of it will have been used to pay for housing. Unless they bought their house at the age of 25, many will still be serving their home loans when they reach 55**.

So, if they do not have the minimum $155,000 in their CPF by the time they are 55, does that mean they must use cash and cannot use the monies in their CPF?

What if after using cash, they only left with a few hundred dollars each month?

Who knows? Maybe after 55, they start to get pay cuts and their children are in their early 20s and servicing their own education loans?

I cannot fault the logic of these complaints.

There should be provision within the rules to ensure that someone in this situation can automatically keep on using his “Retirement Account” to fund his HDB mortgage payments. “Lose the flat so that he got retirement fund”: WTF?

Sadly the whole CPF system is in such a mess that the following extract from the FT about the USSR reminds me of the problems of reforming the CPF system: Before the Soviet Union collapsed, Russians compared the problem of breaking free from their Communist past to a frog in a swamp that wants to jump out but finds it has a hippopotamus stuck to its backside.

The PAP will only tinker with this sacred cow and Hard Truth.

But will S’poreans trust an Oppo coalition (assuming the WP joins such a coalition) to solve the problem? Somehow I doubt this too.because support for the opposition comes from disenchantment with the PAP administration – and is not a vote of confidence for the opposition parties.

So the tinkering goes on but let’s hope this sore is treated soon.

*Actually all mortgage payments but if one has private property, one can look after one’s self.

**And do remember that the really rich minister said a HDB flat was affordable because it could paot-off over 30 yrs. The HDB now restricts the period to 25 yrs.

Err pay peanuts, get best CEO

In Corporate governance, Financial competency on 22/02/2015 at 5:06 am

As you can see from below (via a FT article), the best performing public pension fund paid its CEO US$O,45m (18.66% return). The worst paid its CEO 16.3X more at US$7.4m. Yet the fund returned only 10.9%.

The fund that paid peanuts got a good CEO. The fund that paid serious money got a monkey.

So was our very own Mr Peanuts right to say, ” If you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys for your ministers”?

But the problem with high pay relative to performance is cynicism about the people getting it. Our millionaire ministers should ponder the closing words of an FT article about an annual oil “bash” in London last week:
Even as the champagne flowed during the week … “Our clients invited us to this party and they’ve clearly spent a lot of money on it,” said a marine services company executive at one bash. “But why are they not paying us our $80,000?”

I would add: After a while, one stops believing.

Here’s an interesting quote from a rich Oz “After you have about $5m to $10m, your lifestyle doesn’t really change that much,”says Clive Palmer. He’s juz dropped off the top 50 richest Ozzies.

S’pore’s GDP growth: Third lowest in Asean

In Economy on 21/02/2015 at 4:45 am

Pay ministers millions for this type of economic management?

What do you think?

Where China leads, we follow?

In Uncategorized on 20/02/2015 at 5:47 am

[A] senior family planning official in northern Shanxi province believes the one-child policy should be fully relaxed, with all married couples being strongly encouraged have two children.

The comments by Mei Zhiqiang, deputy head of the province’s family planning commission, sparked a heated debate in the papers and social media.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-31450689

We could start by insisting that all married teachers have at least one kid. Two if they want promotion?

Rotate additional public holiday among religions?

In Holidays and Festivals on 19/02/2015 at 6:58 am

P Ravi (the Ravi that doesn’t go round prancing half-naked at Hong Leong Green when he forgets to take his medicine)  wrote I however appreciate the Manpower Ministry’s chronicling of how considering the socio-economic status of Singapore in 1968, the religious leaders were able to forego the public holiday status of some of their celebrations.

While acknowledging the selflessness of these religious leaders, the Government should also not forget the promise it made to Singaporeans at the time of reducing the number of public holidays.

The Government had then said that when Singapore prospered, it will move amendments to increase the number of holidays. It also urged Singaporeans to work hard to show that they deserved more holidays.

http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/02/government-should-keep-promise-to-gazette-at-least-one-other-holiday/

“Juz rotate among all the major races: One yr Thaipusam, another yr third day of CNY, another yr Mohd’s birthday,” posted my Facebook avatar.

And P Ravi’s wrong about “the religious leaders were able to forego the public holiday status of some of their celebrations”. “Leaders” of the Christians, Hindus and Muslims were told in no uncertain terms that each religion had to volunteer to lose one public holiday each for the sake of nation building, while the govt removed holiday status from the third day of CNY and on the day after Christmas.  As the Buddhists had only one public holiday, they were not asked to surrender their holy day.

But there those who think (self-included) that the third day of CNY was removed because of concerns that otherwise Muslims and Hindus would riot: on the grounds of racial, religious discrimination. Just see how every yr, there is a row on Thaipusam.

So let’s rotate the extra holiday between the Chinese and the two religions where one’s religion is closely tied to one’s ethnic identity.

What about Good Friday? Well BG Yeo once said, “Christians don’t riot”.  Anyway, the number of Christian holidays is a relic of empire, not the facts on the ground.

Second last para added hours after first publication. Still blur.

New yr: A feel good vibe is necessary

In Corporate governance, Political governance on 18/02/2015 at 4:43 am

The lunar year is ending badly for the WP.

When someone who is no friend of the PAP administration but who was once part of its security appartus (head of ISD) writes

One of the most glaring lapses is the persistent conflict of interest revealed in the AGO’s report between the Town Council and its managing agents the FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) and the FM Solutions & Integrated Services (FMSI).  How on earth could the husband and wife team of secretary and general manager of the Town Council be the majority owners and proprietor of the managing agents at the same time is the serious conflict of interest problem no amount of explanation that the WP Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang and Chairman Sylvia Lim can give convincingly to pacify the electorate. http://singaporerecalcitrant.blogspot.sg/2015/02/the-astounding-lapses-of-ahpetc.html,

the WP should know that it has problem and it should discount its cheer-teams at TRE and TOC*

My advice to Low is to go to the Quan Im temple in Middle Rd and chiam see tomorrow. I’m sure it’ll tell him to sort out the three lawyers on his team (They constitute 33% of the WP’s parly team). It’ll tell him particularly to ensure that PritamS’s vocal cords are cut and not allowed to heal.

Anyway more, one of these days, about

— how the lawyers let him down;

— were they coerced into silence: what Low wants he gets?

Whatever, either way doesn’t say much about all the four of them.

Anyway, M Ravi should be glad to see the year out, and so should the NSP. The NSP will start the new yr with a team that has Islamic and retro themes. As part of the return to the past theme, expect to see Goh Meng Seng return to the NSP.

Finally it looks like was a gd yr of the PAP. PM’s health problem is behind him

And the PAP must be feeling good for whacking the WP as part of SG50, and a prelude to the new lunar year. And as the whacking being around CNY, it is a good  warm-up to the CNY show.

Wonder if the Lunar show will have a video like this the Chinese are seeing

Of course, if you’re … a Chinese citizen with a dream, the Communist Party would like you to know that “The Communist Party is with you”.

Whether you want to open a diner, or you yearn for a blue sky, a world free of war or a beautiful wife, the message of a promotional video which spread online this week is “Chasing our dreams… and shaping the future together”.

Images of lush countryside interspersed with smiling clowns, farmers and bartenders… I couldn’t help feeling it looked a bit like the kind of TV advert that banks make to reassure you that they are looking after your money, your future and your family.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-31450657

And missing from the feel good narrative was anyone who gets on the wrong side of the Party by raising problems or demanding rights.

Of course, “our” vision would have the WP, SDP, the Chiams, M Ravi, Maruah missing.

Anyway, have a stress-free good time. And make $ next yr.

—-

*Wonder if TRE and TOC going to get ang pow, abalone dinner from ex Aljunied MA or from WP for being so supportive of WP. Their parroting of the WP line sounds like ST’s parroting of the PAP administration. We know ST staff are well rewarded for selling their souls, but I suspect TOC and TRE staff are selling their souls for free.

Roulette offers better odds

In Casinos, Financial competency on 17/02/2015 at 11:48 am

Or “Why PAP administration shld allow S’poreans to gamble their CPf funds in casinos” Funny Roy’s research doesn’t uncover this fact?

Typical of PAP administration to favour foreigners who don’t have to pay toll. LOL.

BETTING on red gives the punter an 18-in-37 chance (in America) or 18-in-38 chance (in Europe) of success in roulette. Parcel out your money carefully and you might have a diverting 20 minutes or so until it’s all gone, with a few wins along the way. If the odds were just one-in-four, then the whole game would be much more discouraging.

But those have been the chances, over the last 20 years, of largecap US mutual funds beating the market. It has happened in just five calendar years.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2015/02/mutual-fund-investing

Did HDB, URA officials mislead MP?

In Public Administration on 17/02/2015 at 4:27 am

Let’s revisit shumething that was the talk of cyberspace only a few weeks ago: a commercial columbarium near a residential estate.

There is a seemingly major contradiction in what the PAP MP told us the authorities told him and what Khaw said in parliament on the issue of Eternal Pure Land winning a bid to build a temple  Dr Lam Pin Min said that the authorities (presumably URA and HDB) had assured him that commercial firms could bid for land earmarked for religious purposes*. That is why he defended the tender at the dialogue session.

This not what Khaw told us:The decision to award a site designated as Place of Worship to a company not affiliated to a religious organisation is a first for the Government, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Thursday (Jan 29). CNA

Khaw was careful to use the term “private company” and “for-profit company”**, not Dr Lam’s “commercial entity”. If Dr Lam had been an Oppo MP or NMP, the anti-PAP cyber warriors (like TOC and TRE) and their cyber-nut allies would be baying (and rightly so) for an explanation of what the HDB and URA officers told Dr Lam. But because Lam’s a PAP MP, it’s OK if public servants mad misrepresentations of fact to him?

And were they lying or making an “honest mistake”.

There doesn’t seem to be a difference between “commercial firm” and  “for-profit company”, so it would seem that the HDB and URA had assured Dr Lam that “for-profit companies” had been awarded tenders in the past.

All I can say is that  MP with his, “I was an honest broker”* (my words) and the residents deserve one another: both he and they are hypocrites.

I mean which honest broker will accuse residents of objecting to anything?

And then there is this.

At the session, Dr Lam was perceived to be defending Eternal Pure Land (EPL) – who were awarded the contentious tender – and the authorities rather than siding with his constituents. Some people pointed out that he was sitting at the same table as representatives from Life Corporation, the parent firm of EPL.

“My purpose there was first to facilitate the dialogue session, to clarify the misinformation of what was posted online, and to allow residents to raise their concerns to me and the relevant agencies,” he said. “Usually for a dialogue session, this is how it’s done.”

Well he could have taken the position of the Speaker in the UK parly, sitting between both sides. LOL

But whatever we may think of him, no public servant should misrepresent facts to anyone. Today an MP, tomorrow a Pioneer Generation Auntie.

*“I… asked HDB and URA whether a commercial entity is allowed to participate in a tender process for a place of worship, and I was informed that it had been done before,” he said.

**Mr Khaw said the Ministry of National Development is “in discussion” with Eternal Pure Land (EPL) to “ensure that the land is restored to the original plan of a Chinese temple”. He was responding to questions posed by MPs Seng Han Thong, Lee Li Lian and Lee Bee Wah.

“We now understand that the winning tenderer for this site, Eternal Pure Land, is actually a private company without any religious affiliation. From what we know, the plan of the company is to run a commercial columbarium on the site,” the minister said. “This is not in line with our plan for the Places of Worship site.”

He said the authorities never thought that a for-profit company would participate in a non-profit making venture, such as building a Chinese temple. Reports said EPL, which is owned by Australian company Life Corporation, had put in a S$5.2 million bid in July 2014.

 

Knowing what you want

In Uncategorized on 16/02/2015 at 1:46 pm

Talking about the accuracy of date-matching software Hannah Fry, author of The Mathematics of Love, expresses the problem neatly. The algorithm, she says, “is doing exactly what it was designed to do: deliver singles who meet your specifications. The problem here is that you don’t really know what you want.” (FT)

If you don’t know what you want, there is nothing that can help you.

GE: Not before end August 2015

In Corporate governance, Political governance, Public Administration on 16/02/2015 at 4:44 am

At the very earliest. My earlier take that it would be in June next yr.

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/betterest-indicator-on-whether-there-will-be-early-ge/

This is my latest guess based on the fact that AHPETC will not get any S&C funds until it can furnish clean accounts by end August 2015. This is what Khaw said:

“Make restitution to the residents for the losses to their town council. Submit a clean set of accounts for FY 2013 to Parliament by Jun 30, 2015. Submit your accounts for FY 2014 on time by Aug 31, 2015. Account to Parliament, account to your residents and those in this House.

“These are not high hurdles. These are the basic requirements for any organisation, for anyone seeking to run for office in any organisation. Every town council has been able to do this, including those run by opposition MPs in the past. This is what supporting the Motion means.”

Actually, they are very high hurdles given that AGO reports

  • Inadequate oversight of related party transactions involving ownership interests of key officers, hence risking the integrity of such payments;
  • Not having a system to monitor arrears of conservancy and service charges accurately and hence there is no assurance that arrears are properly managed;
  • Poor internal controls, hence risking the loss of valuables, unnecessary expenditure as well as wrong payments for goods and services; and
  • No proper system to ensure that documents were safeguarded and proper accounts and records were kept as required by the Town Councils Act.

After the CNY hols, if no-one else has blogged on the matter, I’ll try to explain the problems the WP faces in getting clean audit reports given the AGO’s comments. To tease readers: there needs to be a forensic audit (Guess what PAP rats MPs are calling for?), or a really nasty write-down coupled with a promise to “recover” monies from Low’s friends.

It’s that or allow residents to suffer. Because no govt grant (S&C rebate based on HDB units in the area) until then: “Until the weaknesses are addressed, there can be no assurance that AHPETC’s accounts are accurate and reliable, or that public funds are properly spent, accounted for and managed.”*(AGO)

The issue is will Aljunied voters repent voting WP? Or will they be so annoyed that die-die will support WP. Before answering, do remember that the PAP only needs a 5 percentage points swing to win back the GRC.

Meanwhile Auntie and her Singh will have to haul the garbage bins. Let’s hope they are better cleaners than lawyers. Seriously as a trained lawyer, I’m appalled that they and Chen Show Mao allowed this

  • inadequate oversight of related party transactions involving ownership interests of key officers, hence risking the integrity of such payments

LAPSES IN GOVERNANCE OF RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

The town council did not fully disclose the related party transactions in its financial statements, nor did it adequately manage the conflicts of interests of related parties arising from ownership interests of its key officers, in contracts amounting to about S$25.9 million in total, the AGO said.

For example, the AHPETC Secretary was the owner of FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI) – one of two companies engaged to carry out managing agent services, as well as essential maintenance and lift rescue (EMSU) jobs. The Secretary, General Manager and Deputy General Manager of AHPETC were directors and shareholders of the other company, FM Solutions and Services (FMSS), the AGO said.

“The key officers of AHPETC who had ownership interests in FMSS and at the same time performed a role (for AHPETC) in approving payments to FMSS were in clear conflicts of interests,” the AGO said. For example, the town council’s General Manager both issued payment claims as director of FMSS while approving the payment as AHPETC staff.

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/conflicts-of-interest-what-conflicts/

As I said, if this had happened at the club where I was Hon Treasurer, not only would have the Committee been booted out but I’m sure members would have lodged a police report, and complained to the registrar of societies. Btw, a PAP MP was the chairman.

Can readers help me by telling if among the WP’s many words, they apologised for the failure to manage the many conflicts-of -interest better. I can’t find any “We goofed. Sorry.”

For the record: My other election guess in the past (2013) https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/why-a-2015-ge-is-now-more-probable/

*Another example of the anti-PAP cyber-nuts’ thinking. When AGO was appointed, the by the PAP administration, they said AGO would clear WP. Now they calling AGO part of “fix” WP team.

Khaw: Personal beliefs and governance in a secular state

In Political governance on 15/02/2015 at 4:33 am

Of all the PAP dogs ministers, I like Khaw best. (Btw, I do wish the anti-PAP cyber-nuts stop calling the PAP “dogs”, while implying that dogs have a nasty, brutish lives. All the dogs I know live great lives. But that’s why I guess these born losers are cyber-nuts. They don’t even know the truth about how well dogs live here because most of the time they are in la-la land with M Ravi.)

Sorry, coming back to Khaw, I hate his referring to the depth of his religious feelings when he carries out his ministerial duties. He did this again when denying S&C fees to AHPETC*: “I’m also a very religious man.”**

What have his personal belies have to do with the price of eggs? If my mum’s egg seller keeps on harping that he is a religious man while reassuring her that the eggs are from chickens that are not fed with antibiotics , she’ll worry that she is getting eggs filled with antibiotics because they come from chickens fed only on antibiotics.

Which takes me to the role personal beliefs play in the governance of a secular state.

Mr Cuomo, a Roman Catholic, offered an eloquent defence of abortion. He spoke out against an “unyielding adherence to an absolute prohibition”, and explained that his faith did not mean he had to comply with church teachings in his role as politician. “To assure our freedom we must allow others the same freedom, even if occasionally it produces conduct by them which we would hold to be sinful.” He asked his listeners at Notre Dame University, a Catholic institution, “Are we asking government to make criminal what we believe to be sinful because we ourselves can’t stop committing the sin”? The church was not pleased. For a time there was talk of excommunication.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/01/remembering-mario-cuomo

*Given that the WP doesn’t even bother denying that its accounting system is not fit for purpose, he can’t be faulted for doing shumething that helps the PAP as distinct from the PAP administration in the performance of his ministerial duties.

**Which reminds me of Mathew 23, something that may have crossed the minds of WP’s MPs: at least the ones who know their bible. :

23 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thoublind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute themfrom city to city: 35 that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Healthcare: France 1st, S’pore 2nd

In Uncategorized on 14/02/2015 at 1:52 pm

‘High-quality’ healthcare

So is it possible to say which country has the best healthcare system?

Prof William Haseltine, president of ACCESS Health International and a former professor at Harvard Medical School, thinks the answer is France – which provides universal health coverage through social health insurance contributions from employers and employees.

Patients pay their medical bills and are reimbursed by sickness insurance funds.

“A uniform, high-quality medical service is available throughout the country and medical care is available to all, so no distinctions are made between rich and poor,” says Prof Haseltine.

What about a close second? He thinks Singapore.

“It has a unique approach to finance healthcare through government subsidies, insurance, as well as a mandatory saving system,” he says.

The compulsory saving programme is called Medisave, into which employers and employees contribute a certain percentages of their salaries every month.

“As a result, the government has managed to control national healthcare costs remarkably well by keeping it below 5% of GDP (gross domestic product),” says Prof Haseltine, who is also the author of Affordable Excellence: The Singapore Healthcare Story.

It also means that Singapore is better situated to handle an ageing population, which has resulted in ballooning healthcare costs in other developed economies.

There are still out-of-pocket payments to be made, however, which critics says are too high and make it difficult for low-income families.

Whatever the merits of Singapore’s system, though, what works for a city-state of 5.5 million people may be difficult to replicate elsewhere.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31052665

What say you SDP and yr cybernut groupies?

Smelling the haze

In Indonesia, Uncategorized on 14/02/2015 at 6:07 am

Don’t know about you, but I could smell the haze in the early morning. today. First time in February, though there vwere quite a number of days in January that I smelt it.

Smell disappears after the sun starts shines.

Indonesia it seems is still burning. Or is it the smoke from Parly? Plenty of smoke from both sides these last few days.

Buy higher, sell higher

In Financial competency on 13/02/2015 at 2:15 pm

A Star Wars toy that cost £1.50 when it came out 35 years ago has sold at auction for £18,000.

The figure, of bounty hunter Boba Fett, was put up for action by Craig Stevens, from Croydon, who is a former chairman of the UK Star Wars Fan Club.

He bought the figure, still in its original packaging, for £50 in 1990.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tees-31025514

Double confirm, Ravi is as sick as a parrot

In Uncategorized on 13/02/2015 at 4:46 am

And he provides the evidence: his doctor’s letter.

Those who have watched this film* (starring, produced and directed by M Ravi) will see him kicking up a fuss as he hands over his letter to the Law Soc disputing its banning him from practice until his doctor certifies he is fit to practice. He says his doctor has certified his fitness. .

Sadly (unless the ST is lying, which I doubt very much), the text of the letter indicates that the doctor is concerned about his mental state.. That he uses said letter to “prove” that he is well, shows how mentally unstable he is: he cannot understand its contents.

A medical report which he attached showed that he was reviewed by senior consultant psychiatrist M. Winslow on Feb 2 – the day he held a press conference to announce he would challenge PM Lee in Ang Mo Kio GRC in the next election.

Dr Winslow’s review showed he was in a “hypomanic” phase of his bipolar disorder. During this phase, the sufferer is understood to feel or act abnormally happy, energetic or irritable.

In his medical report, Dr Winslow said: “I would like to have had him in hospital under observation, however he is not agreeable at this time and has promised to take adequate rest and follow up with all medications.”

Dr Winslow gave him medical leave until Feb 6, when he appeared in the High Court to represent a client in an appeal. In the case, Mr Ravi alleged that the judge had breached his duty and he would refer the matter to the Chief Justice.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/courts-crime/story/lawyer-m-ravi-makes-scene-law-society-office-20150211#sthash.yRtozG7t.dpuf

The anti-PAP cyberbuts cheering him on should be asking how did ST come by the letter? If it came from any other source than m Ravi, then they are justified in carrying on raging and flaming.

If it came via him, it double confims his mental state. My sources say he handed a copy of the letter to a ST reporter. Now if he were “fit to practice law” as he claims to be, why would he give ST the “smoking gun” proving he is mentally sick?  It’s because he is ill that’s why.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/analysing-ravis-1m-amk-election-fund/

*Btw, Do watch the film. It’s beyond parody. The gal is so spastic: she tries to open a door but ends up switching off the lights etc. With a groupie like this, M Ravi doesn’t need enemies.

There are two more videos on Youtube: One where he says when he becomes PM everything will be free (OK I  exaggerate: at least healthcare) and we all have to learn Tamil

The other is a rant about Roy, TOC and TRS.

How a SME bank could successfully operate

In Banks, Economy on 12/02/2015 at 2:08 pm

The u/m aricle in early Feb reminded me of something I read last yr about an SME bank in the UK

DBS Bank has launched a programme to provide financing to technology start-ups and expand capital-raising options for technopreneurs.

Tech start-ups can tap the new DBS venture debt programme for working capital, buying fixed assets and even project financing*.

Our SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are always KPKBing money not enough. Govt says got plenty of schemes. Why no use? SMEs reply that terms too stringent, and the people administering the schemes are clueless about their businesses. .

Well the UK, where SMEs too are cocal in complaining about funding, has the British Business Bank. It does things differently

BBB devolves responsibility for choosing its investments to private-sector expertise by allowing the Angel CoFund board, composed of independent bankers and investors, to make the investment decisions. “This is a financial strategy to complement the government’s industrial strategy”, says Mr Morgan. It also uses the expertise of peer-to-peer lenders like Funding Circle, to which it has given £40m. Mr Morgan says the bank can thereby avoid crowding out the private sector. Its investments are always in the equity of a business, but it never takes a majority share.

http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21627667-government-scales-up-help-small-businesses-angels-and-bankers

*To qualify, tech start-ups must be backed by DBS’s partner venture capitalists, who include Vertex Venture, Monk’s Hill Ventures and Golden Gate Ventures. They should have raised at least $1 million of Series A funding, been in operation for at least a year, been incorporated for at least two years and have demonstrated that their business model is commercially viable.

“Start-ups in Singapore primarily rely on venture capital to fund their operations,” DBS said in a statement on Thursday.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/business/banking/story/dbs-launches-venture-debt-programme-tech-start-ups-raise-funds-20150205#sthash.efDblYoB.dpuf

Err two Hard Truths got some truth

In Economy on 12/02/2015 at 5:13 am

A Hard Truth is that mandatory entitlements are bad for S’pore because costs will escalate and there will be a subsidy is good and necessary mentality.. These two facts show that this isn’t BS. There is some basis

— Since 1963- mandatory spending (on welfare and other entitlements) as % of the Federal budget has more than doubled in the US

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/03/daily-chart-5

— There is  an assumption among Western left -leaning liberals and socialists that subsidies to interest groups are a necessary function of government ; that cuts are an unthinkable personal injury rather than a judgement about the rights of taxpayers relative to transfer recipients.

The other Hard Truth is that a shrinking population is not good: FTs (even if they are trash) are needed. Even Japan is thinking of allowing mass immigration.

The reports say the figure being mooted is 200,000 foreigners a year.An advisory body to Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, said opening the immigration drawbridge to that number would help stabilise Japan’s population—at around 100m (from its current 126.7m).

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/03/japans-demography

Interestingly Japan is trying to increase fertility S’pore style Last year a 20-member panel under the ministryproduced a desperate wish list to reduce what it calls “deterrents” to marriage and child rearing. It included a proposal to assign gynaecologists to patients on a lifelong basis and even to provide financial support for unmarried Japanese who undertake “spouse-hunting” projects.

BTW, this obviously doesn’t apply here

One of the first things Japan would need to do, says Kathy Matsui, chief Japan equity strategist at Goldman Sachs in Tokyo, is make it easier for mothers to work. “Evidence shows that work-forces with a higher female participation rate also have higher birth rates,” she says.

In S’pore, women  too are wage slaves: “affordable” public housing makes this a necessity.

All animals and slaves are equal.

 

Why S’poreans avoid manufacturing jobs

In Economy on 11/02/2015 at 2:08 pm

Esp in SMEs: They are not daft.

The latest figures show the manufacturing sector contracted by 2% in the same period, a reversal of the 1.7% expansion seen in the previous quarter.  On a quarterly basis, manufacturing contracted by 5.8%, the MTI said.

And this very late Dec CNA report paints a gloomy picture of the sector. Better not to work, rely on parents and KPKBed against PAP administration in cyberspace?

The Republic’s manufacturing sector has been undergoing a transition as manufacturers seek to revamp their businesses and move up the value chain. With an uneven global economic outlook, analysts have said growth in the sector could continue to remain depressed.

This year, Singapore manufacturers continued to grapple with rising labour costs and structural shifts in the economy.

Some firms are starting to look ahead, in the hope that regional initiatives such as the ASEAN Economic Community could unlock more opportunities.

Mr Douglas Foo, president of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, said: “It continues a work in progress in terms of transformation. With the ASEAN Economic Community 2015, there will be on-stream a lot more harmonisation within the whole ASEAN community, and that actually creates a huge opportunity because right now, there are a lot of different barriers, trade barriers and different types of areas which people have to manage and work with in terms of challenges.”

“But with that push at the top end to move and try to harmonise the whole ASEAN Economic Community, I think the manufacturing (sector) will have a very key potential in playing a much bigger role in how you place yourself within that bigger ecosystem,” Mr Foo added.

Electronics – a mainstay of manufacturing – accounts for almost a quarter of output annually. However, the cluster has remained sluggish in 2014, partly due to a global shift in technological preferences from computers to mobile devices.

Economists said restructuring efforts and a concerted shift toward manufacturing services are especially critical for the cluster if it wants to remain relevant.

Mr Francis Tan, an economist from United Overseas Bank, said: “Increasingly, we are seeing semiconductor firms transforming themselves, no longer making the product in Singapore but doing a lot more higher value-added services in Singapore.”

“By that I mean looking at things like research and development, or design or even looking at the logistics distribution or product testing capabilities, and these are actually the kind of services that will attract even higher value-add. And if you attracting even higher value-add, it means you are seeing an increase in the labour productivity, and I think in the long term, this is a good strategy and a good way to go,” he added.

ECONOMISTS WARN OF POSSIBLE PERIOD OF MUTED GROWTH

Looking ahead, economists said an uneven global recovery going into next year would continue to weigh on the manufacturing sector.

With the majority of manufacturing going to Singapore’s external economy, they warned that if global conditions do not pick up, the sector could be in for a period of muted growth.

Ms Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank, said: “If you still continue to see that uneven growth and demand trajectory you saw in 2014, then you are going to see some of these pockets of volatility in the manufacturing sector.”

“So I am cautiously optimistic but I will not say I am really optimistic about manufacturing per se, because I think the growth story for Singapore going forward is going to be one that is fairly steady, but not quite spectacular. So you will not get any outperformers on a sectoral basis like what manufacturing used to do in the past recoveries,” she added.

Manufacturing remains a key pillar for Singapore, contributing almost 20 per cent of the country’s GDP. In the third quarter of this year, the sector grew 1.9 per cent year-on-year, mainly driven by the biomedical and chemicals sectors.

CNA 26 December 2014

 

Moving on from Hard Truths To Hard Choices

In Economy, Political governance on 11/02/2015 at 4:40 am

“We have to move on because I don’t think we can tie ourselves to the past forever. The past is there for us to learn from, not for us to be shackled by,”Ms Aung San Suu Kyi recently said to the FT.

The Hard Truths are all about individual responsibility, selfless collective effort (example: LKY’s and other of the old guards’ salaries), lean social security and growth over distribution (growing the pie, not slicing it or eating it: waz the point of not eating it, juz growing it, I must ask?),

Whatever, Hard Truths were the basis of a successful social contract: S’poreans’ voting for and acquiescing in an authoritarian one-party (defacto)  state in return for material prosperity. The critics of the social contract like JBJ and Dr Chee argued (when they were rational and not on ego trips) that the cost was too high: an elected government that captures the courts, silences media critics and tinkers with the constitution to perpetuate its rule.

It was a winning formula notwithstanding their rants (or should they be prophetic warnings?) because many S’potreans (think me, despite having voted Oppo all my life because I tot PAP hegemony would not be good for the PAP and S’pore) judged that the PAP way as the right way to “get on and better ourselves”. After all Dr Chee and JBJ were upper middle crusts, not middle, middle class, lower middle class or working class. The latter even sent his kids to a posh English private school that prided it on turning out upper class English gents. To be fair to him and his sons, the boys didn’t go to the really posh schools, Eton, Winchester or Westminster. They went to a school more akin to St Andrews, where JBJ studied. As for Dr chee, he attended ACS: need I say more?

But, snide remarks aside, “The old order changeth, yielding place to new, And God fulfils Himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” (Alfred Tennyson,”Morte D’Arthur”).

The facts have changed. That social contract – optimal for places with young populations, rapid growth, full employment, and rising real wages – “would not be sufficient to ensure equitable and inclusive growth in the face of the changes unleashed by globalization, rapid technological change, and our own policies,”  argued five economists  in a paper released Monday on the IPS website. The authors include academics and former senior civil servants who carry significant heft in policy-making circles, including Manu Bhaskaran, a partner at consultancy Centennial Group and adjunct research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; Donald Low, a former senior bureaucrat at Singapore’s finance ministry; Tan Kim Song, an economics professor at the Singapore Management University; and Yeoh Lam Keong, former chief economist at the Government of Singapore Investment Corp.

Analysts widely believe that the days of double- and high single-digit growth rates year-in, year-out are things of the past; Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently said the city-state would do well to average annual growth of over 3% in the coming decade.

(http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2012/01/16/singapore-inc-needs-a-rethink-economists-say/)

In simple English these five were saying (my translation), “What is happening now is that ordinary people no longer have a sense that improving one’s lot in life is possible. Many S’poreans find themselves stuck, not getting on, doing their best not to go backwards.” They were like the Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass:running frantically to stay in place.

These economists were making public in 2012 an argument that has been around since the late 1990s and early noughties. Something that s/o JBJ should remember when he claims that his ideas are being “borrowed” by the PAP: there is nothing new under the sun.

Happily for those of us who do not a one-party state, the PAP instead of listening continued to repeat, even louder, the Hard Truths of one LKY, especially the one on FTs being the future.

The PAP forget that politics is all about adapting to changing circumstances and navigating change. It was a deep intellectual failure of the PAP to understand and adapt to changed circumstances. It continued with its politics of growing the pie but not allowing people to eat more.

In 2014, we had Hard Choices. Two Singaporeans,  Donald Low (the same as the one mentioned above) and Sudhir Vadaketh, published a book that argued against the way the PAP govt provides housing and social support, and questioned how it has dealt with values such as meritocracy and identity.

At the launch of “Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus”, they said they wanted to encourage us to question the public policy beliefs and practices that had become hard truths.

Low said: “We think that policymakers, and Singaporeans in general, should be less guided by hard truths, the ideologies, policies and practices that have served us well in the past 30 to 40 years, and be more guided by this idea that perhaps there are few hard truths, there are very few eternal truths.

“The far more meaningful debate we should be having is what are the choices we realistically have.”

One such choice is whether Singapore must be a global city, said Vadaketh. He said the antagonism towards foreigners in Singapore is a result of tensions between those who see Singapore as a global city with a global identity and those who want it to have a more local identity. I would disagree with him here, it’s more about the belief that FTs help repress the wages of local PMETs and the PAP’s  administration ignoringpeople’s concerns about the impact on wages and employmentof an FT flood.

Mr Low and Mr Vadaketh wrote most of the 15 essays in the book, which also includes contributions from Dr Linda Lim, professor of strategy at the University of Michigan, and Dr Thum Ping Tjin, research fellow at the Asia Research Institute in NUS.

Mr Low hoped for a return of “the debate that used to characterise the Singapore Government” He referred to a 1972 speech by former deputy prime minister Goh Keng Swee that raised concerns over Singapore’s continued reliance on foreign investments and foreign workers for economic growth. “I think we have regressed,” because debate had been “sucked out of the system” because of the Government’s success.

I disagree with him here. Unlike the likes of Dr Goh, Ngiam Tong Dow, Pillay, Howe Yoon Chong, the younger ministers and senior civil ,servants are more Catholic than the pope. They had to: who chose them to succeed the old guard, ministers and senior civil servants?

But let’s not think that the PAP is doomed like the dodo.

Bear in mind that Donald Low is the associate dean for executive education and research at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Yeoh Lam Keong* is an an adjunct professor there too (in the days of Hard Truths), they’d be in exile to avoid the ISD)  and that Hard Choices saw the light of day (would have been banned)

Finally, pls note the policies advocated in Hard Choices are not too dissimilar in spirit and outline from those that the SDP is proposing (spin on the latest version). They are about

— whether people’s hard work would be rewarded by an improvement in their living standards (or how o make surepeople who worked hard to build a good life for their families got a fair deal); and

— controlling the quantity and quality of people that come into S’pore (which incidentally is a primary duty of government that this PAP administration has seemingly forgotten).

——

*One of above five and former chief economist at the Government of Singapore Investment Corp

His latest piece:http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/02/singapores-social-compact-trilemma-the-dynamics-of-a-critically-uncertain-national-future/

 

Buffett’s Hard Truth on analysts’ recommendations

In Financial competency, Investments on 10/02/2015 at 12:56 pm

Buffett said since he began investing in shares at the age of 11, he had never once bought something on the basis of an analyst recommendation. (FT)

Conflicts of interest? What conflicts?

In Corporate governance, Political governance on 10/02/2015 at 4:57 am

Two months ago, I pointed to evidence that indicated that AHPETC did not have an IT monitoring system https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/does-ahpetc-have-a-21st-century-it-system/

Turns out I was spot-on because the Auditor-General pointed out, inter alia, that AHPTEC did not “a system to monitor arrears of conservancy and service charges accurately and hence there is no assurance that arrears are properly managed”.and “No proper system to ensure … proper accounts and records were kept as required by the Town Councils Act.” Trumpets pls.

And what does WP say?

We understand that there will be a motion filed in Parliament to debate the matter on Thursday 12 February 2015.  That being the case, the Town Council will give its response in Parliament.

SYLVIA LIM
CHAIRMAN
ALJUNIED-HOUGANG-PUNGGOL EAST TOWN COUNCIL

09 February 2015

Seriously, of all of AGO’s observations*, one to focus on is

  • Inadequate oversight of related party transactions involving ownership interests of key officers, hence risking the integrity of such payments

LAPSES IN GOVERNANCE OF RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

The town council did not fully disclose the related party transactions in its financial statements, nor did it adequately manage the conflicts of interests of related parties arising from ownership interests of its key officers, in contracts amounting to about S$25.9 million in total, the AGO said.

For example, the AHPETC Secretary was the owner of FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI) – one of two companies engaged to carry out managing agent services, as well as essential maintenance and lift rescue (EMSU) jobs. The Secretary, General Manager and Deputy General Manager of AHPETC were directors and shareholders of the other company, FM Solutions and Services (FMSS), the AGO said.

“The key officers of AHPETC who had ownership interests in FMSS and at the same time performed a role (for AHPETC) in approving payments to FMSS were in clear conflicts of interests,” the AGO said. For example, the town council’s General Manager both issued payment claims as director of FMSS while approving the payment as AHPETC staff.

If this had happened at the club where I was Hon Treasurer, not only would have the Committee been booted out but I’m sure members would have lodged a police report, and complained to the registrar of societies.

Doubtless, WP will give an explanation that will be acceptable to the anti-PAP die-hards, but I hope the WP realises that the rabble does not matter (They’ll vote for any monkey even Roy, M Ravi or New Citizen H3, so long as the monkey is anti-PAP). WP has to give a satisfactory explanation to the swing voters: the 24 –35% of the voters whose minds can be changed.

All to play for, WP. How can a co-driver have moral authority if it lacks integrity?

And if the WP fails to give a decent explanation? Then 2011 GE will be another false dawn: like 1991 GE.

Btw, I’m sure one Goh Meng Seng will soon have something to say. And Eric Tan (remember him?) will be smiling. And rightly so. Though I do wish he’d stop allowing himself to be tagged with anti-WP stuff coming from an ally of the PAP. It makes him look petty, something he is not.

*The Auditor-General highlighted five “major lapses” in governance and compliance:

  • Failure to transfer monies into the sinking fund bank accounts as required by the Town Councils Financial Rules;
  • Inadequate oversight of related party transactions involving ownership interests of key officers, hence risking the integrity of such payments;
  • Not having a system to monitor arrears of conservancy and service charges accurately and hence there is no assurance that arrears are properly managed;
  • Poor internal controls, hence risking the loss of valuables, unnecessary expenditure as well as wrong payments for goods and services; and
  • No proper system to ensure that documents were safeguarded and proper accounts and records were kept as required by the Town Councils Act.

“Until the weaknesses are addressed, there can be no assurance that AHPETC’s accounts are accurate and reliable, or that public funds are properly spent, accounted for and managed.”

Hard Truth about buying shares for yield

In Financial competency, Financial planning on 09/02/2015 at 3:32 pm

[A] safe dividend needs a business that is sustainable and profitable not just for a few years, but over the decades, or more than the entire life of some quite substantial companies, FT.

And do remember that Reits, Biz Trust, pay out most of profits, cashflow.

Analysing Ravi’s $1m AMK election fund

In Humour on 09/02/2015 at 4:31 am

(Update on 11 Februaey at 4.30 am

The Law Society of Singapore has ordered Human Rights lawyer, M Ravi to stop his legal practice until he goes for a medical examination.

“The Council of the Law Society has received information relating to Mr M Ravi’s impaired fitness to practise and has issued a direction that Mr Ravi stop his legal practice pending a medical examination pursuant to Section 25C(7) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Ed),” said the Law Society in response to media queries on Tuesday regarding the order to stop Mr Ravi from his legal practice. (TOC 10 February 2015))

—————————————–

M Ravi tells us ” he has set aside $1 million, saved over the years, for his campaign” – See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/opposition-veteran-lawyer-take-polls-position#sthash.ox58eIpv.dpuf. He wants to take on the PM in AMK GRC in the next GE, if the s/o JBJ’s motley crew of dead-beats doesn’t contest AMK.

Let’s put this $1m fighting fund into perspective:

— The 170 candidates who took part in the General Election 2011 spent some $5.5 million on the polls: so Ravi is planning to spend 18% of that amount in just one GRC;

— PM’s AMK team team spent $340,905 in that yr (second highest*), so Ravi is planning to spend 3 times more than PM’s team; and

–. surely his relatives will vote for him? “He said he picked the six-MP constituency because 25 per cent of its residents are his relatives, saying he has Chinese and Indian roots. The GRC had about 179,000 voters in the last polls. – See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/opposition-veteran-lawyer-take-polls-position#sthash.ox58eIpv.dpuf  It seems Ravi has a low opinion of his many AMK relatives seeing that he plans to spend so much money. Surely, they’ll vote for “kaki lang”, “countryman” for free?

Maybe this talk of a $1m fund is a repeat of his

— performance at Hong Lim Green when he pranced around in his shorts (great phyique btw) calling WP lawyers, “cow dung”;

— suing the Law Society and his then doctor for millions of dollars (he withdrew his suits without them paying up: when asked he said, “I’m moving on”);

— rowing in a temple;

— allegedly saying  Roy “swindling the money”  http://mothership.sg/2015/02/has-lawyer-m-ravi-had-enough-of-his-client-cpf-blogger-roy-ngerngs-antics/

— shouting in a mosque**?

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

Yes, Yes, I know Ravi and Roy have now have publicly squabbled*** and this may help explain why he said he didn’t want Roy in his GRC team because he is “too impulsive”. At the time, I tot, “Isn’t New Citizen H3 worse?”, “Not OK to be impulsive, but OK to lie regularly like H3?” and “Pot calling the kettle black.”

*Highest was in Sembawang, Yishun. Looks like the PAP was concerned about Northern bit of S’pore in 2011, throwing money. The funny thing is that in both GRCs, the PAP faced really weak opponents. Shouldn’t the money be better deployed in Aljunied?

**He told the court that he hadn’t been taking his pills for his bi-polar condition.and blaming this inaction on his grief over mum’s death.

***Ngerng said he had given Mr Ravi the S$29,000 on Jan 22 and had received a receipt for it. But Mr Ravi had not processed the payment to Drew and Napier by Feb 2, and Ngerng said he was handed back the money to pay Mr Lee’s lawyers directly. He said he was unaware of the letters sent by Drew and Napier to Mr Ravi on Jan 30 and Feb 3. 

But in an email to the media today, Mr Ravi claimed that the blogger had “not been at all timely” in paying Drew and Napier even after the S$29,000 had been refunded to him. Mr Ravi claimed the money was refunded to Ngerng at the latter’s request, “in the presence of many other persons”. (CNA 6th February)

Use gambling instinct to boost CPF savings

In Casinos, Financial competency, Humour on 08/02/2015 at 5:16 am

No need for govt’s double talk of discouraging gambling, helping problem gamblers while having casinos and Toto. Juz embrace gambling LOL and use it to encourage less well-off S’poreans to save more in their CPF. And this allows the PAP administration, if it wants to, to screw the poor by lowering the interest rate.

Seriously, on top of the usual interest rates, offer “prizes” to less well-off S’poreans if they put additional $ into the CPF. The theoretical basis for the suggestion is as follows:

found that the presence of a prize-linked savings account increased the rate of total savings: the current consumption of respondents decreased by 7% when the option became available. In addition, they found that people reduced their use of the stand-alone lottery when they had the option of prize-linked savings. Strikingly, this effect remained even if the scheme offered a much lower average rate of return than the lottery or the fixed-interest rate options. That suggests premium bonds may well have saved the British government a lot of extra interest payments over the lifetime of the scheme.

These authors also found—confirming Macmillan’s suspicions—that these prizes were particularly attractive to those participants on low incomes or with a poor record of saving. Prize-linked savings induced individuals who reported little or no savings to increase their saving rate by an additional four percentage points compared with the average respondent.

….

The authors suggest that adding a random element to the interest rate entices people because it removes the stigma attached to gambling by packaging it with the more positive act of saving. That may explain why the concept has been so wildly successful. In Britain, they are now the most popular financial product after bank accounts; 21% of households are currently invested in them. Premium bonds have even spurred several private imitators, such as one product offered by Bank of Scotland which hands out monthly prizes to those who invest in it. Prize-linked savings accounts, it seems, have turned out to be not quite as squalid as Wilson once thought.

http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21625047

Why Pinoys should go home but don’t: S’pore that great meh?

In S'pore Inc on 07/02/2015 at 4:58 am

Below is an extract from a FT report in late January on the sterling performance of Pinoyland. And the low price of oil means that it’s likely to do better. So gd that “The Philippines’ economic resurgence, driven by domestic demand and economic reforms, has led to renewed interest from Singapore as well as Singapore-based companies,” said Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang. “As the Philippine economy continues to grow, demand for consumer goods and infrastructure development in sectors such as transportation and housing will rise in tandem.”* (CNA 4 th February)

Yet the Pinoy PMETs still prefer to come here. Tells us a lot doesn’t it?

The Philippines has defied regional trends by recording a pick-up in growth in the fourth quarter, as a bounce in government spending gave a fresh boost to one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies.

The Southeast Asian country grew at an annualised pace of 6.9 per cent in the final three months of the year, far ahead of the 6 per cent expected by most analysts. The quarter-on-quarter figure of 2.5 per cent was the highest in almost two decades, according …. Barclays.

A rebound in government spending was a key driver of the higher growth rate. Exports also proved strong, with manufacturing growing 10.7 per cent year on year, while the agricultural sector also performed above expectations.

The Philippines has been among the brightest economic stars in Asia since … 2010. Although the annual growth figure of 6.1 per cent is the lowest since 2011, the economy remains one of the fastest-growing in the world.

The acceleration in growth last quarter contrasts with a slowdown in many regional economies, including India, Indonesia and China.

Investors have given the Philippines a clear endorsement in both the bond and equity markets this year. The Manila index briefly rose above 7,700 points for the first time on Thursday, having clocked up a string of record highs in recent days.

This month the Philippines became the year’s first sovereign issuer in the US dollar bond market, selling $2bn of 30-year debt while paying a record low yield. Unlike Indonesia, all three major international rating agencies now regard the Philippines as investment-grade.

Investor demand has helped make the peso the best-performing currency in Asia in the past three months, during which time it has risen 1.5 per cent against the dollar. No other currency in the region has strengthened against the dollar over that period.

The Asian Development Bank expects the Philippine economy to grow 6.4 per cent this year, the highest in the region after China.

Philippine growth

However, some analysts say lower oil prices and the unexpected uptick shown in the latest data suggest the economy may grow even faster.

Research from Capital Economics highlights the country as the world’s biggest beneficiary of the lower crude price.

“The outlook for the rest of the economy is promising. Consumer spending should remain strong on the back of falling oil prices, which will boost consumers’ purchasing power,” … Capital Economics 

——

*More: Bilateral trade between the Philippines and Singapore hit S$15 billion last year – a 2-per cent increase from 2013. For the Philippines, Singapore is its fourth largest trading partner worldwide and top trading partner in ASEAN.

IE Singapore said there is great potential for Singapore companies to partner both the Philippine government and private sector, especially in developing infrastructure.

Under the Public-Private Partnership Programme introduced by the Philippine government in 2010, several projects have been successfully tendered by Singapore firms such as SMRT and MSI Global.

IE Singapore also said local firms are starting to explore opportunities beyond the capital city Manila into regions such as Cebu and Clark. 

“Singapore at the moment is our second largest investor in investment projects. It’s also the third largest in terms of direct portfolio investments,” said Mr Guillermo Luchangco, the Philippine co-chair of the Philippines-Singapore Business Council. “We do have a very active investment incentive programme. Depending on the type of industry you bring in, it can get a lot of tax incentives and there is ease of bringing in people.”

The Philippines also has one of the highest household consumption expenditure in ASEAN, with a population of 96 million people. This offers considerable opportunities in consumer sectors, across the F&B, fashion and retail categories.

 

Low bond yields not good for equity returns

In Financial competency on 06/02/2015 at 12:19 pm

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/08/daily-chart-8

Low bond yields have in the past been bad, not good, for equity returns.

Fernvale Lea: Owners “hiding” an inconvenient truth

In Uncategorized on 06/02/2015 at 5:11 am

The NIMBYs of Fernvale Lea (all relations of that very entitled scholar Eng or of property developers?), and their allies among the anti-PAP paper warriors don’t mention a very inconvenient fact. And surprisingly neither does the constructive, nation-building media which is the PAP’s only weapon against new media which is dominated by those opposed or not friendly (self included here) to the PAP administration.

When the “noise” started, the u/m sketch was widely circulated on the internet. I wondered what was the building (coloured grey) in between the flats and the “temple” area. 

Turns out there is a multi-storey carpark between the “temple” land and the flats. Here’s how it looks.

And the photo below shows, the proposed  “commercial” temple/ columbarium would not be visible from the ground level of the Lea. And the residents living higher up will only seen the roof. Effectively, the temple/ columbarium is not visible, or anywhere near the flats.

So waz this bull of the temple/ columbarium spoiling the enviroment? It’s all about the fear of not getting gd prices for the flats because the flats are near the “dead”.

Now that we know the tender should never have gone to a commercial entity, we should be assured that it was an “honest mistake” made by stupid bureaucrats. The PAP administration should get the CPIB and ISD to investigate the officials who approved the award and defended the decision. The reason for the CPIB is self-evident: got bribery or not?

The reason for the latter is to see if the officials are “anti-PAP” subversives trying to fix the PAP. Maybe it wasn’t “an honest mistake” but a plot against the PAP administration. Remember that the core of the WP is the activists from the Barisan Socialists, the cunning enemy of the PAP.

And the media too should be investigated by the ISD: strange that the constructive, nation-building journalists didn’t point out this fact when sliming the MIMBYs.

Next week, I’ll blog on the question that Khaw never addressed, but which he should have. Did the bureaucrats fib or is a PAP MP lying?

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/ferndale-lea-will-owners-fold-or-raise/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIC, Temasek tie up with Superman? Roy will have shumething to say

In GIC, Telecoms, Temasek on 05/02/2015 at 2:09 pm

Sovereign Wealth Funds Said to Be in Talks to Back O2 Deal — Some of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, including the China Investment Corporation, Singapore’s Temasek and G.I.C. and one of Qatar’s big government-sponsored vehicles, are said to be in talks to provide financial backing for Hutchison Whampoa’s $15 billion acquisition of Telefonica’s British mobile business, according to a report in the Telegraph that cited unidentified sources.

PM drunk? Or juz trying on new superheloo costume?

In Political governance on 05/02/2015 at 4:25 am

PM’s interview with a German newspaper (see below) reminded me of this

And a very strange speech he made in December.

No, I’m sure you like me were puzzled by SuperWimps’s AhLoong’s ramblings about the coming GE at a PAP party during December. Reminder this is what he told PAP cadres:

— It will be a “deadly serious” fight between the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and the opposition.about who forms the government, and not just how many seats the opposition gets;

— too many checkers results in him and the PAP administration being unable to get things done (For whom, we may ask? For themselves? For S’poreans?). “You will have a lot of checkers, you have no workers… There will be gridlock, like in other countries,” he said. – See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/too-many-checks-will-lead-checkmate-20141208#sthash.m4oKYKQZ.dpuf

I wondered if he should consult M Ravi’s doctor or talk to his sister at the Mental Health Institute.

I mean since when did any except the really anti-PAP nutters believe that the PAP would lose the next GE (even the SDP and NSP* doesn’t believe that the PAP will lose power in next GE), or that the Worthless Party are effective checkers**?

So maybe he was drunk on the fumes of dried BS turds that the PA  grassroot leaders were burning in the convention hall in lieu of incense?

But after I read a comment on BBC Online by Prof  John Shattuck***. I realised that Ahloong may be trying to tell us something.. Prof  John Shattuck said the challenge (in Eastern Europe) is to “understand what is appealing about a more authoritarian approach….”.

He believes it is driven by “fear of change, fear of economic retrenchment… and when you feel insecure you want someone to solve your problems without having to think about them yourself”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30271801

Well when he was talking about “fear of change, fear of economic retrenchment … insecure”, he could be talking about S’poreans.

So maybe PM thinks we are craving for a strong leader (Sheep of S’pore Farm We want someone to solve our problems without having to think about them ourself”) like Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao or PM’s dad? And his speech was an attempt to remake himself into a authoritarian leader like his dad, if not a dictator. Like dad, Hitler, mao and Stalin, no checkers pls.

Sadly because he isn’t his dad, his words make him come across as this guy. An undated handout picture released by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 27 April 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) looking at a computer screen along with soldiers of a long-range artillery unit at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

Stranger than fiction intro

About right for a guy who is alleged to have marched out of step with the band of which he was drum major?

As to the use of checkers, maybe he hould talk to the ordinary people of Zimbabwe, not the president who was holiday here in December or his very rich ministers?

In a wide-ranging interview with German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday (Feb 3), Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about integrating new citizens, religious harmony …

ON THE GOVERNMENT’S ROLE IN INTEGRATION

“We set the tone. In terms of our social policies, we make it an objective to facilitate this integration. For example in our public housing estates, which is where 80-plus per cent of the population live, we make sure there are no pure neighbourhoods. We enforce integration, enforce diverse neighbourhoods, and integration in terms of race, also integration in terms of proportion of non-citizens so that you will not have an enclave. So you force people to have to live together.

“When the British built the colony their policy was to keep the different groups apart. To go from that to a modern Singapore where they are all integrated together, where every neighbourhood is integrated, was active social policy. We could do it because we had public housing programmes. We cleared the old villages and slums. We resettled the whole population, so in that process we had the opportunity to cause everybody to mix together.”

ON RELIGIOUS HARMONY

“All the major religions of the world are in Singapore. So we have to get along together and one of our basic principles is that there has to be tolerance and compromise. If you insist on absolute requirements, then we are not going to be able to live peacefully together. That means in terms of your practices, your customs and your celebrations.

“We are also not purists on freedom of speech, so if you say things which go out of your way to denigrate or attack some other faith, that is an offence.”

ON LIFELONG LEARNING

“In Germany, the employers have a model. They look for people, they work with them in the institutions, they work with them on an apprenticeship programme, and the people who are employed after that, completing their apprenticeship, expect to work for quite a long time with the company. They do not go and wander off straight away because somebody else is paying them another 5 or 10 per cent more.

“We do not have such a culture in Singapore. We are trying to move in that direction and get the employers more engaged in the training of the people, even in the institutions and have internships and immersions as a person graduates. We are making some progress, but it’s a long way to go.”

——————

*And the WP doesn’t even want the Oppo to win a GE. It wants its MPs to remain as highly paid, ineffective co-drivers.

**Actually the WP is mixing up “checking” (co-driving) with accountability. The WP should be holding the govt to account not trying to “check”. Example: The WP is in no position to prevent a public tpt fare rise. But after the minister said that fares will go up by 2.8% (discount leh, should be 3.4%), WP should be publicly asking why when the price of oil has fallen from US$115 in June to around US$60. Instead the WP only speaks out when its direct interests are affected by the administrations actions.

***He is the president of the Central European University, an American human rights lawyer, law professor, diplomat and former assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration.

George Soros, the Hungarian-born investor and philanthropist, funded the creation of the Central European University, with the specific aim of promoting the values of an open society and democracy.

But the challenges have changed. If the university was created on a rising tide of democracy, it now has to examine liberal values under pressure. In parts of Eastern Europe, the voices of authoritarianism and nationalism are getting louder.

 

HSBC, Superman and another Cina superhero

In Banks, Emerging markets, Hong Kong on 04/02/2015 at 2:10 pm

(Or “HSBC and the right Chinese tycoons”)

HSBC is traditionally Li’s go-to bank for financing deals with its dominant local presence and a dedicated team to cover Li’s companies earned US$136 million in fees.Goldman Sachs has emerged as Li’s favored bank, pulling in an estimated $220 million in fees from Li’s two main companies Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings since 2000.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/25/us-likashing-fees-idUSKBN0KY0YR20150125

Do remember that HSBC’s fees are on top of the interest it gets on its loans to these cos.

HSBC sold him Wharf once upon a time (the ang moh MD of wharf was angry as he said he could have arranged a better price) and both never looked back.

Which reminds me of the man who laid the foundation that made HSBC a global bank. Lee Quo-wei, the former chairman of Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Bank Ltd died on 12th August 2013, age 95

After joining Hang Seng Bank in 1946, Mr Lee was among those who transformed Hang Seng into the second-largest Hong Kong-based lender from a money-changing shop founded 13 years earlier. He helped Hang Seng end a bank run in 1965 with a capital injection from Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp, now HSBC. Four years later he was part of the team that created the Hang Seng Index.

Mr Lee was appointed executive chairman of Hang Seng Bank in 1983, according to a statement from current chairman Raymond Ch’ien. He retired in 1998, becoming honorary chairman and later honorary senior adviser.

If Hongkong Bank did not buy Hang Seng (at a good price from Hongkong Bank’s perspective, Mr Lee used to say to HSBC’s ang moh executives), HSBC, would not have become so entrenched into the HK economy. Look at StanChart and taz the best HSBC would have become.

As a shareholder of HSBC, I thank him.

Btw, It may be hard to imagine but once upon a time Bangkok Bank, OCBC were the rising banks while StanChart and HSBC were seen as the relics (albeit still powerful and rich) of colonialism.

Ferndale Lea: Will owners fold or raise?

In Property on 04/02/2015 at 5:03 am

Will the owners sit down and keep quiet accepting a temple with a columbarium attached to it? Or will they continue the alliance with the anti-PAP cyber warriors  and demand “justice”: temple with no columbarium or a refund.

,Since the National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Thursday (Jan 29).

“We now understand that the winning tenderer for this site, Eternal Pure Land, is actually a private company without any religious affiliation. From what we know, the plan of the company is to run a commercial columbarium on the site,” the minister said. “This is not in line with our plan for the Places of Worship site.” (CNA),

while anti-PAP warriors are flooding cyberspace with continued attacks of the PAP administration and its apparent U turn, the owners have been quiet.

They had been spinning that they only objected to a commercial columbarium* because this would spoil the environment. So they wouldn’t mind a real temple that had a columbarium, would they? Because Khaw said:

He added that many temples provide an incidental columbarium service for their members and devotees, and whether the eventual temple in Sengkang will provide such a service is a decision for the temple trustees to make.

Mr Khaw said the Ministry of National Development is “in discussion” with Eternal Pure Land to “ensure that the land is restored to the original plan of a Chinese temple”

Err I suspect they would still object if there was a temple with a columbarium because this is what was circulated earlier something slighly different (analysed here by me and another) which had this very NIMBY bit

We are unhappy and felt aggrieved by HDB’s misrepresentation by way of omission of material fact in their sale brochures. We reiterate that there was absolutely NO MENTION of columbarium in the sale brochures while the stated “Ancillary Service” phrase is so general that anyone who read that would have misconstrued as something else. Such definition can only be found in URA website and not HDB website at all. Any ordinary man would not have known how to get access to the details at all.

2) We are against such sales tactic as we should be treated fairly to be given FULL DISCLOSURE of information by the seller, HDB before we chose to buy the flat. We should have the right to make INFORMED choices and not short-changed with such omission of critical material information by HDB.

And even in the BS missive to PM and Khaw they made it clear towards the end of the letter: no urns containing ashes and bones:

11. We hope that in the event of putting the land up for tender again, HDB could consider the combination of Chinese Temple with Childcare/Student Care. The Childcare/Student Care centre should be required to open to all races. This will serve the community well as many of the residents are young couples with kids.

I think the owners are hoping (and praying?) that somehow there won’t be a  columbarium. Dream on. Know any recently built temple that doesn’t have a  columbarium: the columbarium provides a good, regular stream of income that helps defry the cost of running a temple.

Meanwhile, they’ve decided to keep quiet. Smart move.

 

StanChart: Gay Portuguese in running to be CEO

In Banks, Corporate governance, Temasek on 03/02/2015 at 1:34 pm

The CEOs of Llyods and HSBC UK are reported to be hot favourites according to Bloomberg http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-28/lloyds-hsbc-executives-seen-as-favored-for-stanchart-ceo-role. Both are Portuguese. And the latter is gayhttp://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/18/hsbcs-antonio-simoes-says-being-gay-was-key-to-career-success .

Wespac’s CEO is also in the frame.

Another report says that our very own Gupta (FT turned new citizen) is also a possible candidate.

Given that StanChart is big in M’sia, Hk, India and Indonesia, and wants to be big in China, I somehow don’t think appointing a gay is on the cards

FT’s Lombard thinks that “ex-StanChart guy Alex Thursby” will get the nod.

Alex Thursby, who went on to run ANZ’s Asian businesses and is now the CEO of National Bank of Abu Dhabi. In his current role, he is trying to drive a bank that will become multinational by following trade within the emerging world – what he calls the West-East corridor. But when asked if this looks a lot like a StanChart model, he says: “I think this has similarities with the Standard Chartered of old. The Stanchart model has changed over the years since I was there, and whether it’s changed for better or worse is for others to make a judgment on.”

Thursby’s words are carefully chosen but he’s clearly referring to StanChart’s ventures into financial markets businesses that it used to leave to the pure-play investment banks. And it is notable that the financial markets business is the one that is causing the problems in the bank today; the warning today says that division is the “main challenge” facing the bank and that everything else is in line with expectations. The head of that business, Lenny Feder, is to take a 12 month sabbatical for personal reasons, the bank says, and will not return to that role afterwards.

The financial markets business in StanChart parlance includes some things that others might consider mainstream, like foreign exchange, but it also houses equities and commodities, among other things. Peter Sands, speaking about the reduced performance, said today that the business was being hit by falling volumes in rates, squeezed margins, regulatory changes, and the fact that less business is done in a low-rate environment.

None of which would have had much impact on the Standard Chartered model of old. Which raises a further question: perhaps this most storied and reliable of institutions should get back to doing what it’s good at. It might be boring. But it works.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/chriswright/2014/06/26/is-the-standard-chartered-model-broken/

It jus shuttered its cash equity biz, if you must know.

Describes certain S’poreans to a T

In Uncategorized on 03/02/2015 at 5:27 am

Especially those in cyberspace: think of the vitriolic by the anti-PAP paper warriors posting on TRE.

You hate the Filipinos, but you don’t know what they’ve been through.
You hate the Bangladeshis, but you don’t know what they’ve been through.
You hate the Indonesians, but you don’t know what they’ve been through.
You hate the Myanmarese, but you don’t know what they’ve been through.
You hate the mainland Chinese, but you don’t know what they’ve been through.
You hate the mainland Indians, but you don’t know what they’ve been through.
You hate the Malaysians, but you don’t know what they’ve been through.
You hate the Singaporeans, but you don’t know what they’ve been through, either.

I saw this on Facebook. It was posted by a friend and social activist. This it seems was penned by another social activist who is no friend of the PAP. So it’s ironical that I tot of the vitriol of the anti-PAP mob, when I read it.

PM must be doing shumething right, right? ))))

In Economy, Financial competency, Humour, Political governance on 02/02/2015 at 11:30 am

Top destinations for foreign direct investment in 2014

SOURCE: UNCTAD
China $128bn
Hong Kong $111bn
US $86bn
Singapore $81bn
Brazil $62bn
UK $61bn
Canada $53bn
Australia $49bn
Netherlands $42bn
Luxembourg $36bn

$= USD

Money keeps on rolling in despite what the anti-PAP cyber warriors claim about mismanagement of the economy. And it’s not “hot” money but the most desirable type

And since I’m smiling while looking at my bank and CPF statements, he (and Tharman and others) must really must doing something right. I’m juz not grateful, isit? And 40% of voters are like me?

S’poreans told to clean up FTs’ trash? PM so pro FTs meh?

In Humour, Political governance on 02/02/2015 at 4:32 am

Or juz as clueless as clueless as a certain Catholic High drum-major whose band allegedly ignored him when he and they marched to a different rhythm?

These were my tots when I read PM’s comments* about the garbage at the Laneway Festival because

— I had tot it was for expats, their SPGs, and local ang moh always tua kees: true blue S’poreans from the Hearlands, not welcomed (even if there wasn’t a sign saying “Dogs and Hearlanders banned”; and

— how come no cleaners? I mean even the Pinoys employed cleaners to clean up after their 2013 do at Hong Lim Green a few yrs ago.

Sweiously, two comments on Facebook that I agree with:

Simply put, Why accuse Singaporean in the first place? They already make this country open internationally and why claim only Singaporean are the one that cause the damage? Isn’t this accusation uncalled for especially from the top man of the land? I find it shameful for such well educated man to accused without being there, what is he trying to stir?

And a very totful

On one hand, we can’t discount that the littering problem may the exacerbated by a more varied and transient demographic profile with little attachment to the place. But, this needs more targeted research and serious surveys. Nationality aside, perhaps we may have to look at more undercurrent structures that may have stifled the collective sense of public ownership and initiative in a pathologically manicured state that required a very heavy hand to keep the place clean. Although there are community efforts in cleaning up beaches and swamps, the initiatives that we see in the very ordinary efforts Japanese and Burmese in cleaning their own mess in foreign lands seem absent for Singaporeans in general. why?

And even more seriously seriously, does he want us to employ cleaners, and then not use them?

But to be fair to him, the PAP administration which he heads expects us to pay ministers and senior civil servants and senior executives govt agencies millions of dollars to make decisions like

— awarding land slated for a temple to a listco for commercial purposes; or

— raise public transport fares when oil prices have collapsed.

Maybe PM should have done us a favour and become a top mathematician or scientist http://mustsharenews.com/lee-hsien-loong-mathematician/ or master computer programmer** or anything except to be a PM whose default mode is to blame S’poreans for the Trashies he let into S’pore, or appointed to high office (with us paying them  millions)  and then being blamed for not cleaning up for them.

—-

*Last Saturday, the 2015 Laneway Festival was held at the Meadow at Gardens by the Bay. The left pic shows what the 13,000 festival goers left behind.

It takes continuous effort to keep Singapore clean. We need to progress from being a cleaned city to a truly clean city. All of us can play a part – picking up our own litter, educating our children and grandchildren, and reminding others to do the right thing. Visit thePublic Hygiene Council‘s page to find out how you can help.

**When he was an army officer, he programmed a HP scientific calculator to do trigonometry calculations that had to be done using pen, paper and calculator or slide-rule: . Sadly the HP calculator ,as the US army could have told him wasn’t (isn’t) rugged enough for military use, even in the paper SAF. At least he didn’t try progamning the TI scientific calculator. It’s fragile.

Actor sacrificed career, $ to be MP

In Uncategorized on 01/02/2015 at 4:33 am

Of an Oppo party in South Africa.

South African actor Fana Mokoenam … had to put his Hollywood dreams on hold – and has just missed out on what might have been the biggest role of his career.

“I was supposed to be in Interstellar, with Christopher Nolan. I was going to play the scientist. I forget his name. We were in talks about me taking the role, and then this came up,” said Mr Mokoena with a faraway look in his eyes.

The “this” he is referring to is a new job as an MP for South Africa’s newest, brashest political party – the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-31026575

For him being a MP was more important than money. Compensation has come in the form of a generous MP’s salary, which Mr Mokoena said was less than he made as an actor.

Well we have one such high-minded person here, who every weekend is busy handing out walking sticks and even wheel chairsto the Pioneer Generation and others.