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Archive for March, 2015|Monthly archive page

SG50/ BKR50: Buffett, LKY & Ah Loong

In Financial competency, Political governance on 31/03/2015 at 5:03 am

(Or “Ah Loong imitated Buffett, not dad”)

When business leaders make mistakes, they have nothing to lose from a proper apology

Thus runs the subtitle of a an aricle in an article sometime back FT which goes on: One business leader who has no problem detailing his mistakes is Warren Buffett. He regularly does it in his annual letter to shareholders. This year’s marked the golden anniversary of his and Charlie Munger’s control of Berkshire Hathaway so he dredged up 50 years of mistakes.

They included investing in dying textile companies and seeing acquisition “synergies” evaporate.

More recent mistakes included holding on to Tesco shares even though he knew it was likely that the UK retailer’s initial problems were just the first in a series. “You see a cockroach in your kitchen; as the days go by, you meet his relatives,” he wrote.

The reasons Mr Buffett gave for his mistakes were not poor advice, or lapses by his managers, but his own “thumb-sucking”, “childish behaviour” and “I simply was wrong”.

The advantage of pointing out your own errors is not only that it deprives others of the opportunity but that it makes it plain that business is hard, that we make mistakes and that only by examining them can we reduce, but not eliminate, our chances of making them again.(FT extract)

Well it didn’t work in politics for our PM did it?

Ah Loong in 2011 departed from dad’s Hard Truths of “Never explain, never apologise”, “PAP is never wrong”, “The message is always right. Blame the messenger, not the message”, “THE LKY way or the highway”, and “It’s the song, not the singer”..

In an attempt to avoid losing a GRC and setting a new record low for the popular vote, he said, “If we didn’t get it right, I’m sorry. But we will try better the next time.” 

It was an apology that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saw fit to repeat twice on Tuesday during the People’s Action Party (PAP) first lunchtime rally at Boat Quay next to UOB Plaza.

PM Lee acknowledged some of the government’s initiatives have resulted in “side effects”, such as problem gambling among Singaporeans due to the opening of the Integrated Resorts.

He also cited the congestion in public transport because of the increased intake in foreigners.*

Fat good it did him or the PAP say the hardliners in the PAP and other “Lee Kuan Yew is always right” groupies: the PAP only got 60% of the votes (PAP’s worst result ever) and lost a GRC that had two ministers and one junior minister.

Worse in the presidential vote that followed, the PAP’s preferred candidate (Dr Tony Tan) won by a handful of votes from Dr Tan Cheng Bock. They shared 70% of the vote, showing that with the right formula, the PAP could do well.

The problem is that the PAP don’t have the right formula.

So apologising doesn’t always work, FT writer. The problem for Ah Loong is finding the right formula. More on the right formula soon.

——

*“These are real problems, we will tackle them.  But I hope you will understand when these problems vex you or disturb you or upset your lives, please bear with us, we are trying our best on your behalf,” said PM Lee to a crowd of about a thousand.

The secretary-general of the PAP continued, “And if we didn’t quite get it right, I’m sorry but we will try better the next time.”

Pushing on with a message he had for voters on Monday, PM Lee also admitted the government had made two other high-profile errors.

“We made a mistake when we let Mas Selamat run away. We made a mistake when Orchard Road got flooded,” he said.

“No government is perfect… we will make mistakes. But when it happens we should acknowledge it, we should apologise, take responsibility, put things right. If we are to discipline somebody, we will do that, [Err, the train services are getting worse under the “new” CEO and tpt minister, but no-one is being fired] and we must learn from the lessons and never make the same mistake again,” said PM Lee.

Yet, he explained the difficulties in making decisions with incomplete information.

For instance, if the government knew there would be a sudden surge in demand for HDB flats in mid-2009 and that foreigners would have created such congestion on the roads, it would have ramped up plans for more flats and MRT lines.

“We’re sorry we didn’t get it exactly right, but I hope you will understand and bear with us because we are trying our best to fix the problems,” he said.

The government will build 22,000 flats this year and open one new MRT line every year for the next seven years however, the government “has been right more often than wrong,”

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/pm-lee-didn-t-m-sorry-152850327.html

 

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LKY: Lest we forget the Dark Side

In Media, Political governance on 30/03/2015 at 5:04 am

I have very little time or patience for Teo Soh Lung’s views but I agree with her comment “let us remember that there is another side to the man”.I reproduce her piece below because it shows S’poreans who want to remind other S’poreans of the Seth Lord or Sauron in Lee Kuan Yew how to do it: stick to the facts, not descending to abuse and vulgarity.

It’s important that anti-PAP cyber-warriors, and those (self-included) who believe in objectivity and balance (and who have no patience with BS) butt into the NatCon that the PAP administration and its allies (especially the constructive, nation-building media) is imposing on S’poreans. We must not let the “right” narrative remain unchallenged.

But we have to do it factually, and entertainingly, not boring fellow S’poreans to sleep. And we have the eyeballs*.

Ms Teo Soh Lung’s Facebook post (apologies for not getting her approval)

I watched the television for several hours today. The tv was off for nearly a week and I thought I really should not miss this historic occasion.

As I watched the two sons of Lee Kuan Yew gave their eulogies in praise of their father, I cannot help thinking of the following people who were arrested and imprisoned for decades without trial by their father:

1. Dr Lim Hock Siew was arrested and imprisoned for 20 years. His son was only 5 months old. He left his wife to look after their son for two decades. His medical career was completely ruined.

2. Pak Said Zahari had a young family and his wife was pregnant with their youngest child when he was arrested and imprisoned for 17 years. His youngest daughter was born while he was still in prison and he did not hold her till 17 years later. His promising career as editor of Utusan Melayu and writer ended. His wife became a hawker in order to keep the family alive.

3. Lee Tee Tong, Legislative Assemblyman was imprisoned for 18 years leaving his parents to fend for themselves.

4. Dr Poh Soo Kai was imprisoned for for 17 years. His marriage was ruined and he was deprived of having a happy family. His career as a brilliant gynaecologist also ended.

5. Ho Toon Chin @ Ho Piao was imprisoned for 18 years. His parents were deprived of his support and his career as a trade unionist ended.

6. Chia Thye Poh, a legislative assemblyman and Physics lecturer was imprisoned for 32 years. As the eldest son and one who consistently did well in school and university, his parents had hoped that he would support them financially. Instead, they had to visit him in prison.

7. Loh Miaw Gong, a legislative assembly woman and trade unionist was imprisoned for 7 years. Her family was deprived of her support.

8. Chng Min Oh @ Chuang Men Hu, Trade unionist was imprisoned for 13 years leaving his wife to look after 2 young children and a third who was born while he was in prison. His wife had to work as a hawker and construction worker, holding other odd jobs to keep the family afloat. She was struck with cancer shortly after his release and committed suicide three years later, unable to accept her illness.

Thousands were thrown into jail and tortured just because Lee Kuan Yew was afraid of their presence in parliament. Their families left to fend for themselves. Many more lived or died in political exile, separated from their loved ones for 30 years and more.

While Singaporeans sing praises of Lee Kuan Yew, let us remember that there is another side to the man.

—-

*Mr Cheong Yip Seng (LKY’s favourite newsman, ex-ST chief editor) recently told us of an incident which showed that LKY was aware of the impact of new media. One November evening in 1999, Mr Lee telephoned Mr Cheong. He was troubled by a new information phenomenon, which was threatening to overwhelm the traditional media industry: eyeballs were migrating from print newspapers to cyberspace. Mr Cheong said that LKY was anxious about how the information revolution would impact the Singapore traditional media.

“He was anxious to find a response that would enable the mainstream media to keep its eyeballs. He wanted us at Singapore Press Holdings to think about the way forward.”

Well SPH, and the rest of constructive, nation-building media didn’t do what they were ordered to, did they? That despite throwing serious money and other resources at the problem.

A hint of China’s real view of LKY?

In China on 29/03/2015 at 5:09 am

One of the self-serving narratives of LKY and the PAP administration is that LKY had good, long-standing personal relations with Chinese leaders. They were “old friends”.

Well then, how come it seems that China’s leaders are not giving that much face to LKY (and S’pore) by only standing Vice-President Li Yuanchao?

True, he holds the second highest state post. But in the Chinese hierarchy of power, the CCP is more important than the state or government. It is even above the law. The standing committee of the politburo of the CCP is at the apex, with the secretary-general (and state president) Xi Jinping, right at the top.

Li Keqiang (also the PM) is the next highest ranking official on the standing committee. There are five other members.

The VP that is coming is not even in the standing committee of the politburo (as other VPs have been in the past) though he is somewhere in the 25 politburo (25 members).

If China wanted to give LKY (and S’pore face), it would surely would have sent the PM or any other less senior standing committee member. If Xi had come himself, it would be very serious face for LKY and S’pore, but even the ST in an article had conceded that his presence was unlikely.

As it is we only got the VP.

To be fair, I should point out that in a speech in China, the president praised LKY. A friend heard a broadcast of the speech yesterday.

What do you think. Was LKY that close to the Chinese leaders?

M’sian politicans want to learn from PAP administration?

In Malaysia on 28/03/2015 at 4:56 am

“Selangor is a key state in Malaysia,” said Mr Azmin, Chief Minister of Selangor. “We will try to emulate some of the policies implemented in Singapore. I will visit Singapore soon to learn how the Housing Development Board develops low-cost houses for the lower-income group. This is one agenda I will give priority to.” CNA

So they going to stop being corrupt?

The passing of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew has prompted some young Malaysian politicians to take a hard look at the kind of leaders they want to be. CNA

Update at 7.20am:

Err maybe they can learn how to make the taxpayers pay them multi-million salaries while they bitch about low pay. Doubtless Grace Fu and Jos Teo can teach them?

Btw, interesting that Robert Kuok disagrees with the idea that ministers should be paid millions, and that pigs (he and LKY are pigs) are greedy by nature

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/remembering-lee-kuan-yew-the-greatest-chinese-outside-ma

NEW BREED OF ETF

In ETFs, Financial competency on 27/03/2015 at 10:31 am

BLACKROCK’S NEW BREED OF E.T.F. Exchange-traded fund have been a hit with passive investors for years. Now, BlackRock is introducing a new type of bond E.T.F. that aims to “blend the best of active investing (security selection) with index investing (cost and consistency),” Landon Thomas Jr. writes in DealBook. Of the financial inventions in the history of Wall Street, few have been as successful as E.T.F.s, which hardly existed 15 years ago and now, at $2 trillion, make up close to 15 percent of the mutual fund industry.

BlackRock’s iShares division has become a crucial profit driver for the fund company, accounting for close to a quarter of its $4.6 trillion assets under management. “The rush into E.T.F.s has come at a time when the performance records of mutual fund portfolio managers, especially on the equity side, have been poor,” Mr. Thomas writes. According to Morningstar, 74 percent of equity mutual funds trailed their benchmark index last year. For that reason, the bulk of E.T.F. flows have been into large fundsthat track stock indexes. Bond E.T.F.s have also grown in size in recent years, though the numbers have been smaller.

BlackRock’s new fund, called United States Fixed Income Balanced Risk, will invest in an equal split of corporate bonds, which will benefit if rates spike upward, and Treasury securities, which will protect the fund if rates fall. “Because these funds target a specific area of demand in the market but follow an index, they are seen by their champions as joining the best aspects of active and passive fund management,” Mr. Thomas writes. “Yet because the cult of the bond manager still holds sway, there have been few if any quasi-active bond funds that have thrived.”

NYT Dealbook

The folly of building monuments to LKY

In Uncategorized on 27/03/2015 at 4:32 am

Puking over the continuing tributes from our constructive, nation-building media and assorted brown-nosers* to Lee Kuan Yew, and the the calls to build a statue or renaming the airport after him, I’m reminded of

Illustrated poem: 'Ozymandias' by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Why don’t juz they build a shrine to him? Here’s shumething to inspire them

DSC_0011

What really annoys me is that they are praising someone who had contempt for the praises and flattery from the masses: if he could rise from the dead, he’d admonish the rabble. And taz actually one reason I admire him.

To me, the cont’d prosperity of S’pore is monument enough

Si monumentum requiris circumspice
Reader, if you seek his monument, look about you.
On Wren’s tomb in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Yes, Yes I know that there were others involved in the building of St Paul’s as others were involved in building S’pore’s prosperity.

And, “He found S’pore a city of bricks and left it a city of skyscrapers” a variation of

I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.

Augustus

Two really terrible sa kas

We are all Lee Kuan Yew’s children. We would not be here if not for vision passion and determination of Mr Lee, had built a developed nation: SMS Masagos Zulkifi

Some say that he was ruthless. But children of his political foes had rights and opportunities like any other children because this is Singapore. – NMP Chia Yong Yong. I think her brain is as useless as her legs.

LKY: A most fitting tribute

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 25/03/2015 at 4:35 pm

The Minister for Home Affairs, DPM Teo, prohibited public speaking at the Speakers’ Corner with effect from 5.30 a.m. 23 March 2014. (Details below).

The registration page of NParks’ website [Link] explained that this is because Hong Lim Park is one of the “designated community sites” to be used for remembering LKY.

I would like to think that the real reason is that someone in the PAP administration tot that this would be

— a fitting tribute; and

— what this would be what he would have wished for.

He had little confidence in the ability of Singaporeans to listen to different points of view, evaluate them and form correct opinions, which is to say, his opinions.

“Many people are uncritically imitative,” Lee said in an address in 1971 to the International Press Institute in Helsinki. “A report of an airplane hijacking leads to a rash of hijackings in other unexpected places. A report of a foreign diplomat kidnapped for ransom by dissident groups is quickly followed by similar kidnapping in other countries.” He pointed to examples in Singapore, where in his view press reports sparked riots, which led to deaths.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/melanie-kirkpatrick-lee-kuan-yew-vs-the-news-1427064934

To put it another way, he had no time for the the masses:

“If you can select a population and they’re educated and they’re properly brought up, then you don’t have to use too much of the stick because they would already have been trained. It’s like with dogs. You train it in a proper way from small. It will know that it’s got to leave, go outside to pee and to defecate. No, we are not that kind of society. We had to train adult dogs who even today deliberately urinate in the lifts.”

LKY on Singapore society, The Man & His Ideas, 1997

If Ah Loong wants to show his filiality, he should make the revocation order permanent. No more opportunities for Roy Ng, New Citizen H3, S/oJBJ, Tan Kin Lian and Goh Meng Seng to mislead the masses. Anfd rename the spot, “Harry’s Corner”.

StanChart: Not as solid as local banks

In Uncategorized on 25/03/2015 at 1:41 pm

Singapore requires its banks (OCBC, UOB, BDS) to hold significantly more capital than the global minimums. For Singaporean banks, the average core tier one ratio — the main measure of bank safety — currently stands at 14%.

StanChart has a core tier one capital ratio of 10.7% and has set a goal of 11 to 12% this year.
The higher its capital ratio, the harder it is to make money. Taz why pre-crisis Temasek and GIC were big into banks that had juz adequate capital: think Citi, Merrill Lynch, UBS and StanChart.

LKY: The ultimate indignity

In Uncategorized on 25/03/2015 at 5:21 am

Somehow, I don’t think Lee Kuan Yew, intellectual bully, thug and street-fighter would have been pleased by the decision to name an orchid after him: though in one sense it made sense: his wife had one named after her, and he always did try to keep up with his wife.

Flowers are for wimps, and he was no wimp.

When I read on TRE

Our Founding PM Lee Kuan Yew loved nature and visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens whenever he could. My colleagues in NParks enjoyed taking him around in the buggy. 

For some time, we have been looking out for a suitable orchid hybrid to name after Mr Lee. NParks officers who have staffed him on his many visits to the SBG have a good sense of what he enjoyed and liked amongst the flora and fauna.

We have found a suitable candidate in a vigorous and robust hybrid – Arachnis hookeriana x Vanda Golden Moon.Orchid hybrids

I tot it was a hoax piece. Turned out that Khaw really penned the above: https://mndsingapore.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/a-special-orchid-hybrid-for-our-chief-gardener/

Forget about the fact that he didn’t like things being named after him, but naming a flower after him is the ultimate insult.

Flowers, even hybrid orchids are delicate, passive and wilt. LKY was never delicate, never passive and never wilted.

He walked the walk, and walked the talk: which is why I respect him.

Maybe if he should be remembered in nature, a really tenacious virus would be more appropriate neh?

StanChart: Broker Upgrade to “Overwight”

In Banks, Temasek on 24/03/2015 at 1:45 pm

Yesterday, StanChart was the top performer in the FTSE 100, adding 7% thanks to JP Morgan upgrading its rating on the bank’s shares to “overweight” from “neutral”.in a note to clients.

Are you better off now than you were in 2011?

In Political governance on 24/03/2015 at 4:32 am

I tot of the above when I was reading this piece about

Hundreds of aging leftists gather in a restaurant tucked away in an obscure corner of an old shopping complex. They talk, shout, argue, and rant about the government. One of them goes onstage and demands political change in the next elections; he is greeted with raucous applause and loud cheers.

The attendees are mostly in their seventies or eighties. Several lean on spouses, children, or canes as they hobble to and from their seats …

Given that they are of the Pioneer Generation, the answer to “Are you better off now than you were in 2011?”* should be a resounding “Yes” because of the healthcare and medical provisions for Poneers. Yes, even those locked up in Coldstore etc are entitled to them. The PAP administration is saying, “Let bygones be bygones”? (Which brings me to the tot that if the leftists had won, would they be so magnanimous to Lee Kuan Yew and gang? For a start, LKY and gang and many others may not have been allowed to grow old and bitter. Think Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Red China, and I think you will get the drift of what I’m thinking: opponents and intellectuals not sympathetic to the leftists cause were, imprisoned, exiled or killed.

Much good it would do the PM and his PAP administration that these leftists benefit from their policies. These aging leftists would never say anything good about LKY and his legacy. (Related article: http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-singapore-change-20150319-story.html#page=1).

———————————————————————–

Real life examples of what Pioneer Benefits mean:

— A mother and her autistic son are Pioneers. The son has been in a nursing home for over ten years, ever since his mother became too frail to look after him. The monthly bill was about S$4,000 a month and was borne by his siblings. Now this bill is “only” a few hundred dollars a month. The mother’s medical bills (she’s in her 90s and suffers from various chronic conditions) are now minuscule.

The extended family is happy.

— Another Pioneer used to pay $30 when she visited a polyclinic every three months for her medicine etc. She now pays $7.

— Another lady lives in a home because of Alzheimers. The cash from the sale of her flat was paying the bills. Now there is no worry of the cash running out before she dies. Her monthly bills have been slashed. Her working daughter (with children and an unemployed PMET husband) is breathing a sigh of relief.

Will they vote PAP? I didn’t ask.

Btw1, I’m sure Dr Goh Keng Swee would approve of these measures. As His daughter-in-law and biographer said

During his time as a tax collector in the War Tax Department, Ms Tan said, “He was a bad tax collector. His boss didn’t like him,” to much laughter. Later, after joining the Social Welfare Department, Dr Goh helped to set up ‘People’s Restaurants’, which were canteens where people could buy cheap meals during the working day.

“He was always involved in social work,” she added.

http://www.pweefoundation.com/pwee-foundation-holds-talk-on-dr-goh-keng-swee/

Btw2, As would Lim Kim San, Toh Chin Chye and the other members of the Old Guard, including one LKY.

Btw3, Wonder if one VivianB voted against these measures when they were presented to the cabinet?

—————————————————————–

A group that will certainly say they were better off in 2011: PM and his ministers. Somehow I don’t think they would vote Oppo.

—————-

*In a televised debate with Jimmy Carter during the 1980 Presidential election, Ronald Reagan asked viewers a simple question: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

Voters realised they were not and Reagan romped to the White House.

That Reagan line has since become a cliché of political campaigning, second to “the economy, stupid” – the mantra drummed into Bill Clinton’s campaign team in 1992. BBC Online

 

SG50: The Ninth Immortal

In Uncategorized on 23/03/2015 at 5:03 am

DSC_0046At least that’s what the local constructive, nation-building media and brown-nosers* will portray him as. Look at yesterday’s SunTimes for the kind of rubbish that was printed when he was still alive.

SPH had sent a letter to advertisers to say that it will not accept LKY tribute ads at the request of the Lee family.

Would it be too much to expect the local media and brown-nosers to respect the spirit and sentiment behind the request?

—–

*10.30am: Here’s a stomach churning one. LKY was no great global leader:

Today, the world has lost one of the great leaders of its time.
He has inspired us all with his epic legacy – one we’ve taken more than a page from.
His fearless determination and relentless pursuit of perfection will continue to inspire us,
so that we may never cease to make waves in the world, just as he has.
‪#‎RememberLKY‬

– Min-Liang Tan, CEO Razer Inc.

Make a wasteland, call it rat-free

In Environment on 23/03/2015 at 4:07 am

Image result for Bukit Batok rats + hillImage result for Bukit Batok rats + hill

Image result for Bukit Batok rats + hill

“They plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name Empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace,” Tacitus quoting a Caledonian chieftain fighting a Roman invasion of his poor country.

“Did we have to destroy the town in order to save it?” a US Marine Captain on the battle for Huế. His answer was “Yes”.

HDB has promised re-turfing. Let’s see if they live up to the promise.

When dogs roamed the hill, see how green it was. But the rats were lurking underneath. Proves LKY’s point that we must always remain paranoid (OK! OK! “Vigilant”) against unseen threats hiding in our society.

Image result for Bukit Batok rats + hillImage result for Bukit Batok rats + hillImage result for Bukit Batok rats + hill

Best teacher US$1m prize: No S’porean in finals

In Uncategorized on 22/03/2015 at 4:54 am

M’sian and Cambodian among the 10 finalists that cied vied for the US$1m  prize.

Guess that’s the reason why our media didn’t report it. But why didn’t the anti-PAP cybernuts report this huge failing of our world class education system? Err maybe they rely on our MSM for their news of world affairs?

The award has been created by the Varkey Foundation, the charitable arm of the GEMS education group, as a high-profile way of demonstrating the importance of teaching.

The attention-grabbing top prize is meant to show that teaching should be recognised as much as other high-paying careers, such as finance or sport …

Among those supporting the project have been Bill Gates, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai.

http://www.bbc.com/news/education-31861022

The 10 finalists were:

Nancie Atwell, US

Guy Etienne, Haiti

Jacqueline Jumbe-Kahura, Kenya

Neang Phalla, Cambodia

Stephen Ritz, US

Azizullah Royesh, Afghanistan

Kiran Bir Sethi, India

Madenjit Singh, Malaysia

Richard Spencer, UK

Naomi Volain, US

Don’t see S’pore on this list of most productive ports

In Economy, Infrastructure on 21/03/2015 at 4:27 am

 

Singapore had 73 total berth moves per hour in 2013 .http://www.joc.com/sites/default/files/u48502/Charts/Singapore-Transshipments.jpg 

Noble CEO gets it, ministers don’t?/ Noble a Buy?

In Accounting, Political governance on 20/03/2015 at 12:12 pm

“We unfortunately live in world where knowing that you run your business professionally is not enough,” the CEO of Noble wrote in a letter to stakeholders in February. “You must be able to prove it.”

But will he walk the talk? Two big funds* think so and have been buying. Maybe they have been assured on the following?

[A] chunk of the profits Noble reports comes from non-cash gains created by “marking to market” long-term contracts (eg, to supply coal) and derivatives it holds. Iceberg is not accusing Noble of fraud, but it is questioning how realistic these valuations are and asking how much of the company’s reported profits are the result of this practice. Noble reported that at the end of 2014 the net fair value of these positions was $4.6 billion, equivalent to 91% of its book value.

It is hard to tell from what Noble discloses in its accounts whether its valuations are indeed fair; and since it is also unclear how much of its profits come from such changes in valuation, it is difficult to assess how robust its profits are. Noble did not respond to requests from The Economist for comment. The firm’s cashflow has been weak. Over the past three years it has booked net profits of almost $1 billion but negative cashflow of almost $2 billion, after working-capital, capital-investment and interest costs.

On March 5th it issued an 11-page rebuttal, suggesting that a disgruntled ex-employee was behind Iceberg. It also gave more detail about the “fair value” positions. They reflect over 12,000 individual contracts, almost half of which mature within two years. Over the past three years the firm has realised $800m of cash from such positions. Yet the rebuttal omitted a vital piece of information: how much profit has been booked from these positions. Without this nugget it is hard to form a sensible judgment about Noble’s books or health.

Emphasis mine

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21646233-big-asian-commodity-trader-attacked-anonymous-online-critic-nobbled

*A unit of insurer Prudential, and Invesco increased their stakes in the company. [Added at 1.40pm]

Aqua Lions?/ No worries about coup/ SMRT no got this

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 20/03/2015 at 4:47 am

So the SAF was upset that the swimmers called their team “Red Lions”, the description that SAF’s parachuting team uses? And the swimmers decided to drop the name.

What the heck? Given that it’s a swimming team, “Red Merlions” is more appropriate? Or “Blue Lions” or “Water Lions or “Aqua Lions”?

What do you think? A lot better than “Sea Lions” that GCT suggested? [Last sentence added at 7.15am].

Actually, this storm in tea cup could have been engineered by the SAF’s special ops team to divert attention from the fact that three ex-SAF commanders are showing themselves to very incompetent: the tpt minister and the CEOs of SMRT and NOL.

Shouldn’t Khaw be calling fot Lui* to commit hari-kiri? Or resign? But then our leaders always talked cock about Japanese style responsibility: only for the “little people” not them. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/learn-from-japanese-set-example-leh-elites/

But let’s look on the bright side of the incompetncy of the transport minister and the CEO’s of NOL and SMRT

Given that they  are scholars and two are ex-generals and one an ex-admiral, and given the problems that the tpt ministry and NOL and SMRT are facing, SAF generals and admirals are sure to cock-up any coup attempt**.

Seriously, the u/m report amazwd me

Transport operator SMRT said on Friday that it will accelerate the setting up of a new maintenance operations centre, which will provide swifter responses to rail incidents.

Experts stationed at the centre will be able to communicate directly with maintenance teams on the ground, and provide in-depth diagnostic advice to speed up service recovery.

The centre is expected to be ready in the coming year, SMRT said in a press briefing which was called in light of the recent spate of train disruptions.

Only one other metro has such a maintenance operations centre, SMRT added, while declining to say which one.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/transport/story/smrt-beef-its-team-engineers-and-technicians-20150306#sthash.soP3EC4t.dpuf

Given that Kuek was an ex-SAF general, I’m surprised he didn’t make establishing such a centre a priority given the situation he was left by the previous Ferrari driving CEO. This FT told commuters to bugger-off if they weren’t prepared to be crammed like sardines, pointing out that they had a choice not to take the train, and anyway trains were more packed elsewhere.

If as an army general, he doesn’t know the importance of a state-of-the-art command-and-control operations centre, what does he know?

Kuek would never have made it into the German general staff: From the mid 19th century to the end of WW II, the train section, an elite section,  of the elite general staff had to ensure that the trains would run on time when war came. When the Kaiser on the eve of World War I asked his chief of general staff if he could stop the mobilisation, he was told that the train schedules wouldn’t permit it. Now if Kuek had been in charge of the train section, the trains would have delayed and WWI prevented.

*I suspect post GE, he’d join Raymond Lim.

**Fortunately, Indon and M’sian generals and admirals are just as incompetent as our SAF ones: think the MH 370 incident (military radar not switched on, or if it was no-one was watching); or the inability of the Indon navy to curb piracy and sand smuggling.

Reits: Keep on holding

In Economy, Financial competency, Property, Reits, Temasek on 19/03/2015 at 7:24 am

Likewise stocks with sustainable, decent dividend yields like Temasek’s Fab 5

“The Fed rate projections have been significantly lowered over a three-year horizon. This points to a later lift-off,” FT quotes a BNP Paribas economist.

In simpler English:

“The Fed is in no rush,” said Ward McCarthy, chief US economist at Jefferies.

“At the current juncture, the timing of the liftoff is still indeterminate and will depend upon the inflation data. The policy statement eliminated the use of ‘patient’ in forward guidance, but the FOMC also described the new forward guidance as being “consistent” with the prior forward guidance.”

He added: “The word ‘patient’ was removed, but the meaning of patient remained.” (BBC)

Or as Reuters puts it:  The Federal Reserve on Wednesday moved a step closer to hiking rates for the first time since 2006, but downgraded its economic growth and inflation projections, signaling it is in no rush to push borrowing costs to more normal levels.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/18/us-usa-fed-idUSKBN0ME0D520150318

SG50: What to wish LKY

In Uncategorized on 19/03/2015 at 4:31 am

I think Berha Henson has got it about right: She says, “Given his age, I am not sure I can even wish him a speedy recovery. But if there’s such a thing as a good death, I wish it for him. To go peacefully. I mean this sincerely.”

But since when has LKY cared for the views or listened to anyone other than his Mrs? He’ll do things his way: he always has.

He’ll move on when he wants to move on.

To end on a lighter note: since his wife’s death, he had been able to eat nonya food. Apparently his wife made sure he ate only healthy stuff but since her death if he wanted nonya food his sister was more than happy to indulge him.

StandChart’s 3 new advisers to Financial Crime Panel

In Banks, Temasek, Uncategorized on 18/03/2015 at 11:13 am

The British bank added the former leaders of Interpol (a S’porean) and the Swift bank messaging network and a former counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush.

SG50/ HDB: PAP man didn’t take salary? Kidding me leh?

In Infrastructure, Political governance on 18/03/2015 at 5:20 am

Continuing the theme of the HDB and public housing, let’s remember Lim Kim San.

I had tot of him when I read this a few weeks ago: My grandfather sold his plot of land to the government in the 1960s and moved into a HDB or Housing Development Board home, thousands of which were sprouting up all over the island. It was an affordable way for Singaporeans to buy property and raise their standard of living.

“We had a huge task when we first started in 1960. At that time our population size was 1.6 million, out of that, 1.3 million lived in squatters – not to count thousands of others living in slum areas and old buildings,” says Liu Thai Ker, who was known as Singapore’s “master planner” in the 70s and 80s. The new HDB towns that Liu oversaw came with their own schools, shops and clinics. The high-rise buildings introduced many Singaporeans to the miracles of flushing toilets and clean water at the turn of a tap.

By 1985, in just one generation, Liu says, the HDB was so successful in its rehousing policy that Singapore could claim to have “no homeless, no squatters, no poverty ghettos and no ethnic enclaves”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31626174

Sad that Lim had not been mentioned. Maybe the BBC writer, an FT of S’pore origin, didn’t know about him because I get the impression that he has been moved into the margins of the right narrative of our history despite being highly  praised by one LKY.as one of the Government’s past “political entrepreneurs”, who had seized opportunities using powers of analysis, imagination, a sense of reality, drive and character, “He has a lively, practical mind …” http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/data/pdfdoc/088-1996-11-28_lky.pdf

Let’s start at the beginning. He volunteered  in 1960 to be the HDB’s first chairman and was not paid for three years (but (Jos, Grace and Hen should take note) it seems. But then he was rich, very rich and as an Oz tycoon said A$5m is enough money to live on, though I’m sure Jos and Grace will disagree: money always not enough say the aunties.

He was in charge of the massive construction of high-rise, low-cost (Note: not affordable) housing that made the PAP popular with the masses.

LKY said he could organise and plan. But his planning was “rough and ready”: using simple estimates, not derived from detailed stats (there were none then) and detailed analysis (not that number of number and data crunchers around, and there were no computers).

Critics said he could not build 1,000 units a year because the HDB did not have the capability and the materials to reach the target. By the time a committee published its report on whether HDB could reach the target, the HDB had already completed 1,000 units of housing.

I’ll let his Wikipedia entry tell the rest of the  story.

In the first Five Year Housing Program, HDB achieved its goal of completing 5000 units of housing by 1965. The largest project at that time was Queenstown, a satellite town of more than 17,500 apartments capable of housing close to 22,000 people. The new neighborhood was built as a self-contained entity, with all amenities and shops built along with the houses, so people will not need to travel to other areas for basic necessities, thereby lowering traffic congestion. This philosophy (which was ultimately extended with the concept of regional centre), is generally accredited by many to have significantly contributed to the lower rate of congestion and burden on the central business district than before. [If so good why CBD charges introduced? And then island-wide tolls? Raise monney isit?]

In May 1961, the Bukit Ho Swee Fire broke out and some 16,000 people became homeless. Under Lim’s guidance, the relocation and reconstruction of the lost housing was completed in just over four years, and 1200 housing flats were made available to those who lost their homes in the fire.

The success of the housing project was considered by some to stem mainly from the standardized architectural designs that were used. Another important factor was Lim’s decision to use private contractors rather than employing construction workers directly. This allowed the HDB to supervise the contractors to ensure standards, rather than dealing with minute problems. Also, overall cost was kept low by using a large pool of contractors and different sources of building materials.

There are some who said that by solving Singapore’s housing problem, Lim saved the PAP in the process. However, Lim himself was more modest, saying the success of the housing programme was also due to government funding, as housing was, and still is, a top priority.

Part of Lim’s success at the HDB was that he had the trust of the Prime Minister at the time, Lee Kuan Yew. He also worked closely with the Minister of Finance at the time, Goh Keng Swee. These connections allowed Lim keep the housing program well-funded. Another political factor that allowed the success of the Housing Project was that Lim managed to cut through bureaucratic red tape and rigid regulations that would have otherwise hindered the housing program.

As to why he’s almost invisible? Maybe because he didn’t take a salary for three yrs? I mean with Grace, and Grace, you can figure out why he can’t be that popluar among younger PAP ministers. .

One cheer for the PAP’s housing policy?

In Infrastructure on 17/03/2015 at 4:56 am

During the Parliament debate on Tuesday (10 Mar), National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan talked about the affordability of HDB BTO flats and how Singapore housing system is better than other countries’, “Recently, UK newspaper The Independent (Jan 23) had an article and with this headline: ‘Londoners queue overnight in sub-zero temperatures to buy one bedroom flat for 400,000 pounds’. 400,000 British pounds is equivalent to about S$840,000. On the same day, in Hong Kong, South China Morning Post (Jan 23) reported 130,000 applications for 2,160 subsidised flats in Hong Kong. The article’s headline reads: ‘Only 1 in 60 chance to win in Hongkongers’ rush for subsidised flats’. The flats, which are roughly the size of our 2-room flats, are priced between HK$1.9million and HK$3.3 million. This is more than 4 times our Build-to-Order (BTO) prices.”

“I think they put into better perspective our much more benign situation in Singapore,” he added.

He got a earful from TRE regular contributor Chris K who has lived in London. http://www.tremeritus.com/2015/03/13/khaw-talked-nonsense-comparing-hdb-prices-to-londons

I leave it to a letter righter to the FT to put the situation in the UK into perspective for us S’poreans: “For the young rent is over 40% of wages. Why do we have to keep paying the rentiers who generate no wealth? We don’t need a new productivity revolution we need to crush the rentiers. There is your paradigm shift.”

But many S’poreans for all of Khaw’s KPKBing about our HDB policies shares one problem with the Brits: Lord Best has spent a lifetime working in social housing and sums up how things stand: “Everybody under 40 has got some kind of housing problem. They’re paying too much for their mortgage, they’re paying too much for their rent, they’re in trouble one way or the other.”

Interesting even that lover of all things HK, Goh Meng Seng, hasn’t attacked Khaw’s comments on HK’s public housing programme. Neither has any other anti_PAP cybernut. In fact no-one has it seems.

So we are one up on HK? One cheer then.

 

 

Reits: The Ugly and the Good

In Property, Reits on 16/03/2015 at 1:12 pm

If you believe stock brokers:

Industrial

High supply and limited demand are key risks.

The good times may finally be drawing to a close for industrial REITs, after enjoying three consecutive years of double-digit revenue growth.

A report by CIMB stated that industrial REITs have limited room for further positive rental reversions. In the past three years, rental indices for the different types of industrial properties have rebounded to pre-GFC levels on the back of a lack of supply, and strength of the manufacturing production index (MPI) gaining strength.

These two factors will be absent this year, what with the MPI forecasted to only grow from around 1-2% while supply will be high, averaging 7.1m sq ft p.a. for single-user factory space, 5.7m sq ft for multi-user factory space, 5.7m sq ft for warehouses, and 1.7m sq ft for business park space in 2015-2016.

“As such, we believe the room for further positive rental growth could be suppressed. In addition, with passing rents for industrial REITs’ properties mostly marked to market, the lack of decent growth in the headline rents in this sector could limit the room for higher rental rates when leases are due for renewal in the coming quarters,” stated CIMB.

– See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/commercial-property/in-focus/good-times-are-over-industrial-reits#sthash.aCLjlS5M.dpuf

Office

According to BNP Paribas, it may be time to take profit on office REITs as positives have been priced in by the market and new CBD offices are on their way in 2016.

“Office rents should continue to rise in 2015, with an increase of 10% y-y in 2015. That said, we believe this has been largely priced in by the market, as reflected in the share-price outperformance of office REITs in 2014. Looking ahead, new CBD offices that are due to come on the market in 2016 could lead to a flurry of leasing activity, starting as early as 2H15. This should cap rental growth in 2016,” stated BNP Paribas.

– See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/commercial-property/news/it-time-take-profit-outperforming-office-reits#sthash.nvdScjBc.dpuf

Retail

According to CIMB, the worst is finally over for these retail REITs. For one, space supply is expected to moderate this year peaking in 2014. Around 2.6m square feet of space flooded the market last year, more than twice the 3 -year historical average net take-up of 1.1m sq ft.

“We expect supply to moderate, averaging about 700k sq ft annually in 2015-2018. Additionally, we believe Singapore is not “over-malled” vs. other Asian cities and historically,” stated CIMB.

– See more at: http://sbr.com.sg/commercial-property/news/retail-reits-in-rebound-after-extremely-bleak-2014#sthash.8BhDMwSt.dpuf

Recognise this ang moh description of our HDB system?

In Uncategorized on 16/03/2015 at 4:57 am

In a recent article in the FT entitled “How to ensure the lowest paid aren’t forced out of cities”, this is how our HDB system was described:

The most obvious reaction to a market failure is to remove the market. … the state can step in. In Singapore, for example, 80 per cent of the population live in homes built by a government body, the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

It was set up in 1960 in a bid to clear up the city-state’s pervasive slums, and later turned into an all-purpose housebuilder and landlord. The vast majority of Singaporean households own their homes leasehold, with the HDB as the freeholder. The HDB also finances home buyers at preferential rates.

The HDB will only sell to Singaporean citizens, not foreigners. Maximum income ceilings also apply.

This popularises housing, preventing it from turning into an investment asset class which investors can pour cash into. Home ownership in Singapore is widespread, savings rates are high and the housing system has been credited as one of the factors in the country’s transformation from a third-world economy to a global powerhouse.

On the downside, such control gives the government a lot of power. For example, until 1991 the HDB would not sell to single people aged under 35, as part of the government’s attempts to promote marriage.

The market restrictions can also prevent people from building up an asset to fall back on in hard financial times, or in retirement. In many other countries, homes have replaced pensions as many people’s source of financial security.

If so good, how come so many people complaining online anonymously about the system?

I mean one anti-PAP complainer even complained that he had to sell his 5-room flat and downgraded to invest in his daughter’s future: sending her abroad to study medicine because she didn’t get the straight As to get into medical school here.

Shouldn’t he get on his knees before this photo and thank the PAP for his gd fortune: that selling his HDB leasehold could fund his investment in his daughter?

My serious point is that unlike our public transport MRT system*, our HDB system works pretty well. It can be improved and made really affordable. But by other major cities’ standards, there is affordable housing for the less well-off.

——-

*Our public bus system works well during off-peak hours. I know; I use it regularly. Btw, I’ll soon be eligible for senior citizens’ concession.

SG50: They kept my money safe

In Uncategorized on 15/03/2015 at 12:58 pm

My “rediscovered” OCBC savings box full of old 50-cent coins (M’sian and S’porean). It is a representation of the OCBC HQ sometime in the 1960s. It was torn down to make way for the present building. Note I changed the photo to remove the word “OCBC” on 23 March 2015.

DSC_0067

DSC_0067

Perspective pls, PAP ministers

In Uncategorized on 14/03/2015 at 12:51 pm

Re: DPM’s Teo hint about ministers’ salaries not having gone up in three years.

“There are dozens of second-tier Chinese cities with populations similar to that of London,”Richard Hodgson CEO of UK’s PizzaExpress recently acquired by Honby Capital from China talking about the co’s plans in China.

London had a population of 8.3m (2013).

Neither the mayor of London and these Chinese cities, nor their senior officials are paid as much as our ministers.

When is enough, enough?

 

Johor Chief Minister gets it, our PM still doesn’t

In Malaysia on 14/03/2015 at 4:30 am

Following complaints from Singaporeans about the inconsistent housing policies in Iskandar, Johor’s Chief Minister said that he makes policies “that look after the interest of Johor people”. He has the interests of his people above the interests of foreign investors he claims. But given that large sections of the Chinese population in Johor vote for the DAP, they don’t believe him.

Likewise, many S’poreans (self-included) doubts that PM and his PAP administration put the interests of S’poreans above that of FTs even though PM said in 20111 the intake of foreign workers contributed to the Republic’s 14.5% economic growth last year, and subsequently led to the budget surplus and Grow & Share package.

 

Why hedgies attract investors/ Why 60% still vote PAP

In Financial competency on 13/03/2015 at 1:03 pm

Same reasoning applies: Appealing to greedy but gullible people works?

HEDGE FUNDS KEEP ATTRACTING CASH Hedge funds have underperformed a simple blend of index funds 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds for three-, five- and 10-year periods, but the lure of higher returns with lower risk ‒ or even zero risk ‒ continues to beckon, James B. Stewart writes in the Common Sense column. Large investors added $1 billion during January and more than $88 billion in 2014, according to data compiled by the investment consultancy eVestment. Total hedge fund assets are now more than $3 trillion.

Painful memories of the financial crisis and the persistent low interest rate environment may be driving investor interest, said Peter Laurelli, vice president for research at eVestment. Many funds promise to address both issues by blunting the impact of another market crash while generating higher returns than United States Treasury bonds. “Institutions are not only pouring more money into hedge funds, but they also appear to be engaging in a classic pattern of many individual investors, which is to chase returns and shun losers,” Mr. Stewart writes.

He adds: “Of course, how today’s ever-growing universe of hedge funds will perform in the next crisis remains to be seen. Unlike United States stocks and bonds, they are lightly regulated. They aren’t that transparent. Many aren’t that liquid.”

NYT Dealbook

Redrawing electoral boundaries in the East

In Political governance on 13/03/2015 at 6:21 am

(Map added on 14 March 4am)

I won’t be too surprised if bits of Moulmein-Kallang GRC, and Joo Chiat SMC are merged into Marine Parade GRC. Reminder: PAP retained Joo Chiat by about three hundred votes, so merging it into Marine Parade would mean that there is one less SMC it could lose. Moulmein is a pretty safe PAP area.

Also expect Potong Pasir SMC to be merged into Bishan-Tao Payoh GRC. I think the PAP’s victory in Potong Pasir in the last GE means that the PAP administration’s promise not to merge Potong Pasir into a GRC no longer stands. Again this will mean a SMC is not lost. Bishan, like Marine Parade and Moulmein is safe PAP territory.

Wonder if safe PAP areas from other GRCs will be transferred into Aljunied GRC to dilute the WP vote? Bit risky as it affects safe PAP areas.

Things can really go wrong for the PAP.

When Opera Estate was transfered to Joo Chiat SMC and some bits of Joo Chiat transferred to Marine Parade, it was seen as ensuring that the East Coast GRC would be made safer (Opera Estate was inhun territiry) and moving troublemakers from Joo Chiat. Well Joo Chiat was almost lost.

And George Yeo’s Aljunied problems started when before 2006 GE, the ward Hwee Hwa was looking after was transferred from Marine Parade to Aljunied. It was tot to be a safe PAP area: turned out to be nest of anti-PAP Indian vipers.

M Ravi: No news is good news

In Uncategorized on 12/03/2015 at 4:53 am

Not heard  anything in new media or media about M Ravi, so the stories I hear coming from his friends must be true.

He is taking his medicine, visiting his doctor regularly, resting and not getting stressed over his clients and the courts (he can’t as he’s barred from practicising well until his doctor says he is OK). Sadly this kind of news doesn’t make it to new media or the traditional media.

One thing I’ve learnt about bi-polarism (Ravi’s mental condition) from a Facebook thread on M Ravi’s condition is that there are good, reasonable reasons for patients to avoid taking the medicine prescribed. They are terribly unpleasant primarily because they are a cocktail of drugs to treat the contradictory nature of bi-polarism: depression and hyper-actism. So the medicine used treats opposites. The effects of the medicine on the body cause severe discomfort.

Maybe he needs to stop practicising constitutional litigation. It’s very stressful what with clients like Roy and the structure of the Constitution.

The other thing I learnt about this mental condition is the importance of routine: a luxury litigators don’t have.

iWatch: Golden margins

In Uncategorized on 11/03/2015 at 5:15 pm

JP Morgan estimates the cost of materials for the US$17,000  model is about US$800.

The entry level models (starting at US$350 have a gross margin of 45%, it estimates.

SG50/BKR50: Buffett taking lessons from PAP?

In Financial competency on 10/03/2015 at 1:26 pm

Fudging data without lying. LOL.

ANOTHER LOOK AT BUFFETT’S SUCCESS Warren E. Buffett has made Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders “an astounding amount of money,” Jeff Sommer writes in the Strategies column. And he provided a window into just how much in his annual letter to shareholders, which included a table on its second page that enumerates the market return of Berkshire shares, year by year. Until now, Mr. Buffett has measured success using the change in book value of his shares.

“However you analyze it, Berkshire’s long-term performance has been awesome. Using market value, he says, its shares gained 21.6 percent annually compared with 19.4 percent for book value and 9.9 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, with dividends. Using market returns, the shares gained a cumulative 1,826,163 percent since he took control,” Mr. Sommer writes. But gone in his letter this year was a comparison between the book value return and the S.&P. return, which would show that he trailed the S.&.P. again, using book value. Counting 2014, Mr. Buffett has underperformed the S.&P. 500, using book value, in five of the last six years.

“By shifting to the market value metric ‒ for the first time in 50 years ‒ his returns look better. Would he have added a table on his golden anniversary showing market value if it had been a bad year for Berkshire in the stock market, whose judgment he has often disdained? I don’t know. Mr. Buffett declined to comment,” Mr. Sommer adds. But to outperform the market consistently, as Mr. Buffett has done over most of his career, “is exceedingly rare. That’s worth celebrating, even if it’s also worth asking why the recent years haven’t been extraordinary.”

NYT’s Dealbook

As I wrote here, the PAP like Buffett did very well in the early days by people who believed in them; not so well in recent yrs: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/sg50-versus-brk50/

Update on 21 March 2015. Letter to Economist defending change in comparison

Valuing Berkshire Hathaway

You criticised Warren Buffett for moving the goalposts by now giving more weight to Berkshire Hathaway’s share price than its book value (“Corresponderous”, March 7th). But the goalposts should have been moved long ago. The previous practice of using book value per share versus the total return of the S&P 500 was an apples-to-oranges comparison of an accounting measure with a market-valuation measure.

Naturally, Berkshire Hathaway’s book value per share would underperform when the S&P’s price-to-book ratio was soaring, as it did by 21% in 2013. Likewise it would outperform in years like 2008, when valuations were plunging. Comparing the change in Berkshire’s market value to the S&P’s total return is the best way of measuring how the market judges Berkshire’s strategy.

A.B. CAMPBELL
Minneapolis

SG50: Millionaire pioneers/ Emigration: Our “dirty” secret

In Property, Uncategorized on 10/03/2015 at 6:23 am

Millionaire pioneers

In response to the last sentence in this,  a S’porean who grew rich in the PAP yrs (renting out condos  now he says) but who is no fan wrote: At least those who believed in Buffet 50 yrs ago can retire today as multi-millionaires.

Sinkies who believed in PAPies 50 years ago are still working until they drop dead, picking up cardboard & rubbish to sell to recycling companies at 10 cents per kg.

This reminded that, yesterday, my mum told me about her friend. All her three children migrated many years ago and she’s happily living here in a “home” because she is getting on 90+. She is very comfortable because she had a house to sell.

This fact made me respond to the commenter: “My mum’s a millionaire. ))) Dad bot house in 1962/63. And those who bot HDB even in the 80s, are millionaires. ))))

SG50 is silent on this

On to a more serious matter. My mum’s story about her friend’s children (one grandson born in the UK is now working in Bangkok, but none is here)  reminded me of this extract from a BBC article.

At the same time, people are leaving – the high cost of living and the search for a better work-life balance has led many to move away. In a 2012 survey, 56% of the 2000-odd Singaporeans surveyed said they would migrate if given a choice.

Fauja Singh's family in 1970 Fauja Singh’s family in 1970 – only three grandchildren remain in Singapore

This too is reflected in my own family. My two brothers and their children now live in the US and my mother joined them there after my father passed away. The majority of my grandfather’s huge family, captured in a photograph in 1970, no longer live in Singapore. Only three of his 15 grandchildren still do. I chose to return after many years away in the US, Canada and Japan. What made me come back? The same reasons my grandfather came – opportunity.

https://wordpress.com/post/10461569/new

All because of Mandarin

I have a cousin who migrated to the US many years ago, partly because the kids couldn’t get a good education here because they failed Mandarin. And this still seems to be a reason to migrate: kids’ education because they can’t pass Mandarin.

I have a friend who migrated because her son failed his Mandarin. His Oz grades got him a letter from the Oz PM (students who are among the top 1% in Oz “A-levels” each yr get this letter), and he returned here to do NS and study in SMU. His younger brother too got the letter and is now an NS officer.

No quitters these boys: but then mum juz got allocated a BTO flat in the NE even though she’s not resident here.

Banging their balls

Let’s finally sneer at those emigrants who are banging their balls: the Eurasians who fled S’pore after the PAP came into power in 1959. Likewise those Eurasians, Chinese and Indians who fled S’pore after 1965 and after the US defeat in Vietnam, because they tot S’pore would go to the dogs.

Anti-PAppies like Goh Meng Seng,  Roy and New Citizen H3 may think S’pore has gone to the dogs; but it went thru a “golden age” that benefited many.

Cause of plankton bloom?/ Three cheers for Tessa Wong

In Environment, Malaysia, Media on 10/03/2015 at 5:43 am

Several fish farmers told the BBC that rapid development in the western part of the strait in Johor, the Malaysian state closest to Singapore, was one of the factors affecting the water quality.

“The plankton bloomed this fast because the nutrient content in the sea is so high. And where are all these nutrients coming from? Land reclamation in Malaysia,” said Frank Tan.

[Err these guys must be shell shocked by the losses, deaths and stench; water from Western Johor I.e. Iskandar can’t flow East because of the Causeway]

But tiny Singapore has also reclaimed parts of its northern coast, and dammed up estuaries in the northeast to create reservoirs. It has pumped millions of dollars into the fish farming industry to boost its domestic food security.

Latest government figures show there are now 117 fish farms in waters surrounding the island, spread out over 102ha – twice the amount of space compared to a decade ago.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-31724554

Typical of the PAP administration under Ah Loong: one part messes up the sea in the NE by damming estuaries and reclaiming land, another promotes fishing farming in area. Looks like more work for Grace Fu’s cordinating unit? She will be bitching* for more pay?

Btw the BBC reporter, Tessa Wong, was formerly from ST. Shows that ex-ST journalists can be fearless, objective after they leave ST. Until I read the BBC piece, I didn’t understand how bad the situation had become because our constructive, nation-building media focused on the dead fish and the losses to the farmers, not on the wider ecological and environment situation.

Oh and M’sia can tell us to bugger-off if we complain about M’sian land reclamation etc affecting S’pore. It can, rightly say, “If you can damage yr environment by yr reclaimation and other projects, why can’t we?. Not as though you guys are doing right by the environment.

*In January 2012, she expressed concerns over the planned 36-37% income cuts for ministers, saying that if ministerial pay was further reduced in the future, it would “make it harder for anyone considering political office”

 

SGX’s FTs still think Singkies still stupid?

In China, Corporate governance on 09/03/2015 at 1:09 pm

Around the time of the Spring Festival celebrations began, the Foreign Trashes managing SGX (president and head rechie are FTs, CEO is leaving) boasted that SGX was planning to attract Chinese cos here. Remember that in Asean, the Thai exchange raises more money than this global financial centre.

Well looks like the FTs still running SGX are hoping that S ‘poreans have forgotten that they lost money in S-chips.

Here’s a reminder that the Cina have not cleaned up their act. During the Spring Feitval hols, London-based directors of Naibu Global revealed they had suspended shares in the Aim-quoted Chinese sportswear maker because executives in China had refused to update them on the co’s finances. Err maybe now that the Spring Festival is over, they’ll contact the London directors. Somehow I doubt it.

Curbing COE anger/ Shumething from the PAP’s bible

In Political governance on 09/03/2015 at 4:19 am

Since “populism” is no longer a dirty word for the PAP administration (juz look at Tharman’s budget measures that had tai-tai Kate Spate Tin and other PAP MPs upset) here are two more measures that will make ordinary S’poreans happy:

Curbing COE envy while raising $

Not only do anti-PAP cybernuts get worked up with envy of people that can afford CoEs, even usually rational people like P Ravi can go over the top in their grumbling about the unfairness of the COE system: that it favours the rich especially the really filthy rich.

Ferraris are common on the streets of Singapore

Ferraris are common on the streets of Singapore – but the gap between rich and poor is growing. BBC Online

Here’s how to make S’poreans less envious of those with flash cars: Finland’s speeding fines are linked to income, with penalties calculated on daily earnings, meaning high earners get hit with bigger penalties for breaking the law. So, when businessman Reima Kuisla was caught doing 103km/h (64mph) in an area where the speed limit is 80km/h (50mph), authorities turned to his 2013 tax return, the Iltalehti newspaper reports. He earned 6.5m euros (£4.72m) that year, so was told to hand over 54,000 euros.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-31709454

The premises for the law are pretty solid

— sports cars are expensive toys;

— rich people are more likely to buy sports cars than ordinary people;

— people who drive sports cars are likely to drive over the speed limit;

— the standard fines are “peanuts” for the rich.

We could go further and calculate monetary punishment for motoring offenses, not involving death or injury, on daily earnings, hitting high earners (like ministers, or ex-MPs working as advisers to TLCs) with bigger penalties for breaking the law.

This system of fines is even more necessary to curh COE envy as S’pore is expected to see the world’s largest influx of super-rich individuals over the next 10 years, with 1,752 people joining the ranks of the so-called ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) by 2024, according to a report by property consultancy Knight Frank

 The projected addition to Singapore’s wealth brigade is higher than that of cities such as Hong Kong, New York and London, and will see the number of people with net assets of US$30 million (S$41 million) or more here soar by 54.3 per cent to 4,979 in 2024, said the Wealth Report.
Combine this measure with the u/m and tai- tai tin and friends will quit the PAP. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Free public tpt

And it’s from the PAP’s sacred text: the Economist

Making buses and subways free … would increase passenger numbers, opening up space on the streets for essential traffic and saving time by reducing road congestion.

In New York, the idea of free buses and subways dates back to at least 1965, when Ted Kheel, a lawyer, first floated the idea—and pushed for a doubling of bridge and tunnel fares to make up for lost revenue. Kheel died in 2010, but the modern version of his plan, which would include a congestion charge for cars and trucks entering the Manhattan business district, lives on. The big push by New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, for congestion-pricing was blocked by the state legislature in April 2008; in 2009 he proposed making cross-town buses free, but that idea has yet to be implemented. It’s worth a second look.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2013/06/fares

————

*Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC Mr Arthur Fong has raised concerns over whether the programmes announced during the recent Budget can be sustained.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 3) during the Budget debate, Mr Fong said the Government must keep a tight hold on the reins as Singapore moves in the direction where more social spending is beginning to feature in its budgets. He said a miscalculation of such spending will be hard to address for future governments.

Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC Chia Shi-Lu has said he supports the Silver Support Scheme but is concerned over its long-term sustainability.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 3) during the debate on the Budget statement, Dr Chia asked if having such a permanent scheme will mean increasing the burden for Singapore – given the ageing population and a shrinking tax base.

MP for Marine Parade GRC Tin Pei Ling said in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 3) that with Temasek Holdings expected to contribute another S$4 billion to S$5 billion to Government coffers after being included in the Net Investment Returns (NIR) framework, she is concerned that Singaporeans would take the nation’s financial reserves for granted.

Ms Tin also says that there is a need to ensure that Singaporeans do not set unrealistic expectations of what can be drawn from the NIR and end up depleting the reserves.

“We may need to set controls to stop ourselves from making further rule changes, like in 2009 and this year, which enable us to draw more NIR each time we need more revenue to fund new needs.

“We need to explain to Singaporeans that the NIR comes from our reserves which are extraordinary and precious, and should not be taken for granted, and also that the Singapore spirit that has enabled us to build up such levels of reserves is also extraordinary and precious, and we must sustain this spirit.

“I hope that the Finance Minister can give an assurance that we can do all these, even as we increase the NIR to fund our new priorities.”

Ms Tin also questioned if using the financial reserves will result in Singaporeans losing their resilience.

“Studies have shown that countries which have abundant natural resources often do not do well over the long term, because their people do not have to work hard and apply their wits, and gradually lose their vitality and initiative,” said Ms Tin.

“Singapore may not have oil reserves, but we must take care that our financial reserves can also have the same corrupting effect on our drive and resilience.”

S’pore’s “liveability” has improved since 2009

In Uncategorized on 08/03/2015 at 4:05 am

Don’t let the anti-PAP cyber warriors BS you into thinking that living conditions are getting worse.

Click here and look at the chart:  The index crunches 30 factors related to things like safety, healthcare, educational resources, infrastructure and environment in 140 cities. Over the past five years urban life has deteriorated somewhat: liveability has declined in 51 places and improved in 31 places.

We are among the 31 places that have improved. But we are still not in top 10. We are the fourth most liveable city in Asia after Osaka, Tokyo and Hong Kong in the latest such ranking by The Economist magazine.

We came in 52nd out of 140 cities in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) latest Liveability Ranking. Hong Kong was ranked 31st.

 

Pet minister and e-justice

In Public Administration on 07/03/2015 at 10:23 am

No not elephant justice but electronic-justice.

As he is also the law minister, he should take off from his very important role as pet minister to modernise the civil justice system by ordering the development of an “online court”

The first tier would be “dispute avoidance”, helping people diagnose their issues and identify the best way of resolving them.

Tier two would be labelled “dispute containment” using facilitators to help the parties reach agreement on resolving the issue.

Finally, tier three would be “dispute resolution”, employing the use of online judges to consider cases online, largely on the basis of papers received electronically, but with an option of telephone hearings.

Taz what England is planning:

The body overseeing the modernisation of the civil justice system is calling for an “online court” to be developed in England and Wales to reduce costs.

The Civil Justice Council’s report recommends an Online Dispute Resolution system, which would see judges deciding some non-criminal cases online, without the expenses generated by a court.

The report suggests a pilot followed by a full roll-out in 2017.

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service says it welcomes the report.

The proposed scheme would include online tools to diagnose and resolve disputes, online facilitators to help parties reach agreement, and if that fails, online judges whose rulings would be as binding as court rulings.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31483099

And I know juz a software developer that can build such a system.

FT PRC does us proud

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 07/03/2015 at 5:07 am

This S’pore-based co was founded by Forrest Li, an American educated PTC. A foreign talent indeed.

Since starting in 2009, Garena has rapidly expanded into multiple product lines. It started off creating software that linked people up for multiplayer games, then ventured into game distribution.

In 2010, it launched a mobile social network called Garena+, and more recently unveiled a couple of chat apps (BeeTalk is one) and a payment network called AirPlay. It has even launched its own venture capital firm to invest in startups. Garena has invested in Redmart, an online supermarket in Singapore.

The company claims to have 17 million monthly active users on the PC and 11 million on mobile. Most of its users come from Southeast Asia, but it has expanded into Taiwan and Hong Kong as well. It made S$31 million (US$22 million) in revenue in 2012, growing three times from the year before, according to Garena’s financial documents. In 2014, its annual revenue reached US$200 million.

The company is said to have become the top games publisher in Southeast Asia after itreceived an investment from Chinese internet giant Tencent, which also gave Garena an exclusive license to distribute League of Legends in the region.

According to the Financial Times, the OTPP investment values the company at over US$2.5 billion. Garena wouldn’t confirm the valuation figure.

https://www.techinasia.com/garena-raises-money-ontario-teachers-pension-plan/

It has reecently raised a new round of funding, led by The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) with participation from existing investors.

FT reported:

In China, e-commerce sales make up more than 10 per cent of total retail sales, according to RHB, a Malaysia bank. That compares with only 1 per cent in the 10 countries of Asean, of which Indonesia is the largest, followed by Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.

RHB says there are “no clear dominant regional [Asean] players at the moment” but that the market is “about to take off” given rapid growth in internet penetration and the adoption of mobile technology by young people among the 620m Asean population.

UBS, the Swiss bank, says that most internet traffic in Asean comes from mobile devices as the traditional PC has been circumvented by the arrival of 3G services.

Garena is among a new group of regional online gaming and e-commerce companies that have moved rapidly into Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar with mobile-based applications for gaming and messaging. They include OffGamers, Asiasoft and Nasdaq-listed MOL, a Malaysian group.

Internet-based retailers have also made inroads, including Lazada.com, which has said it aims to be the Amazon of Southeast Asia.

 

 

Not uniquely S’porean: Being screwed by the oil majors

In Energy on 06/03/2015 at 12:56 pm

Happens in the UK too.

[T]he question, as petrol prices begin to rise, is whether they have risen faster in response to the rising oil price than they fell when the oil price was falling.

It seems pretty clear that they did, because last summer it took about a 20% fall in the oil price before there was any significant decline in the petrol price.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-31712673

SG50/ BKR50: Buffett on kia suism

In Uncategorized on 06/03/2015 at 5:13 am

Interesting that Warren Buffett has accidentally and unintentionally diagnosed what is holding S’poreans back.

“In the great majority of cases the lack of performance exceeding or even matching an unmanaged index in no way reflects lack of either intellectual capacity or integrity,” he wrote in 1965. “I think it is much more the product of: (1) group decisions — my perhaps jaundiced view is that it is close to impossible for outstanding investment management to come from a group of any size with all parties really participating in decisions; (2) a desire to conform to the policies and the portfolios of other large well-regarded organisations; (3) an institutional framework whereby average is ‘safe’ and the personal rewards for independent action are in no way commensurate with the general risk attached to such action; (4) an adherence to certain diversification practices which are irrational; and finally and importantly, (5) inertia.” (Latest annual report)

When the anti-PAP cybernuts rant against the PAP administration (including GIC and Temasek), they should remember one thing: the PAP administration and the cybernuts (and S’poreans in general) are all kia su.

This is what is holding us back.

If anything the cyberbuts are even more KS than most S’poreans. Most post anonymously. They would claim fear of the PAP administration. More likely they are pi seh to show how stupid and nutty they really are. They are not as brave as Roy, New Citizen H3 and Chia Yong Yong.

They may be extremely stupid but they are brave to parade their stupidity in public.

But let’s celebrate those who are brave and intelligent. People like Alex Au, Richard Wan, TRE’s techie Andrew, Affin Sha, Terry Xu, P Ravi, Siow Kum Hong, Baema and Martyn See. Though I do wish that Alex would stop wanting to take on the judiciary, and Martyn stop filing police reports.

 

How bad can MRT get? Juz look at NOL

In Logistics, Shipping on 05/03/2015 at 1:41 pm

During the Spring Festival, we had more evidence of how a scholar, army general and ex-Temasek MD is failing to refloat NOL which he steered onto the rocks. He had to sell the crown jewels to try to refloat NOL No need to remind readers that SMRT is run by a scholar and a retired SAF general. NOL today, the MRT ststem tomorrow.

Contrast NOL’s financial performance withwhat’s happening at Maersk Line.

NOL

NOL has suffered three straight years of pre-tax losses in challenging industry conditions.

The buyer, Tokyo-listed Kintetsu World Express (KWE), has said it will keep APL Logistics’ headquarters in Singapore.

“In an increasingly competitive liner shipping sector, NOL believes that it is imperative to strive to have the most cost-competitive position, and the strongest financial position in order to have a better chance to thrive,” NOL said yesterday.

“Accordingly, NOL has decided to dispose of its logistics business and focus on improving its core liner shipping business.”

Mr Ng Yat Chung, NOL’s group president and chief executive, said: “The transaction will also strengthen our balance sheet and unlock value for our shareholders.”

NOL, which posted its fourth-quarter results last Friday, said operational cost efficiencies helped narrow its net losses to US$85.1 million from losses of US$137 million a year earlier.

– See more at: http://business.asiaone.com/news/nol-sells-logistics-business-16-billion#sthash.6NXQ5TVu.dpuf

Even our constructive, nation-building media was forced to show how desperate the CEO had become: he sold the crown jewels, cannabalising NOL

The move sees NOL selling the only profitable part of its business. APL Logistics posted a 5 per cent jump in fourth-quarter revenue to US$458 million and core Ebitda of US$20 million, while APL, NOL’s container shipping business, posted losses.

NOL said the purchase price represents a 15 times multiple to the APL Logistics group’s reported core Ebitda, a measure of profit, for the full year of 2014.

Since August last year, NOL has been mulling over a sale of APL Logistics and undertook a competitive bidding process.

– See more at: http://business.asiaone.com/news/nol-sells-logistics-business-16-billion#sthash.6NXQ5TVu.dpuf

Maersk Line 

Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container shipping line, continued its strong performance by boosting net profit to $2.3bn last year from $1.5bn in 2013.

Seen as a bellwether for global trade as it transports 15 per cent of all seaborne freight, Maersk Line said it expected container demand to grow 3-5 per cent this year, well below the pre-crisis levels of more than 10 per cent but in line with 4 per cent growth last year.

“We basically don’t expect a lot of change. The low oil price should give some changes in patterns,” said Mr Andersen, pointing to growth in Asia-US and Asia-Europe trade but declines in north-south routes to Africa and Latin America.

Maersk Line expects to post a higher underlying profit this year than in 2014. The conglomerate as a whole said it expected an underlying profit this year of slightly below $4bn, compared with $4.1bn in 2014.

 

Chia Yong Yong: a stupid NMP

In Uncategorized on 05/03/2015 at 5:32 am

She talks cock, real cock because she is clueless about the way the CPF and welfare system works. The article reporting her comments is at the end of this rant.

Reading the comments, it’s clear that she thinks that the employers’ contributions are not part of our salaries. Hello? What planet is she on?

Even employers think that their payments are part of the employee’ salaries. I’ve been at job interviews where “my salary” includes “XYZ’s contribution”. And when I had to decide how much to offer someone to do a job, I took account of the CPF contribution that I, as employer, had to pay: which is why FTs are so popular.

As to .”because I’m not the only person contributing to the fund, I cannot be the only person to call the shots”, doesn’t she realise that what we have in our CPF (less the peanuts of govt handout) is dependent on what we put in, not a cent less or more.

And since when have we a comprehensive welfare system for the elderly poor? She implies that we have:  At the very least, I have a moral obligation to spend it wisely. Why do I say that? Because if I’m not judicious in my spending at the end of the day, who’s going to maintain me in my twilight years – the state? Who? Ultimately it means someone else is bearing it right, another taxpayer.

This is S’pore. If die, not govt’s problem.

What planet is she on? Or was she smoking ganja before her speech?

Update at 6.45 am: Shumething I wrote some time back

Money in your CPF account is your money

This is what MoM Tan, a paper general, blogged, inter alia, recently.

Best riposte I’ve come across.

http://singaporedaily.net/2014/05/26/daily-sg-26-may-2014/

Come on Baey, surely you can help him come up with better lines?https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/pap-needs-a-public-communications-swat-team/. Or maybe you can’t? You no longer the CEO of an int’l PR firm’s S’pore office.

The use of  “xenophobia”and “your money” reminds me of, “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/xenophobia-your-money-and-humpty-dumpty/

—————————

Nominated MP Chia Yong Yong spoke out against greater flexibility in withdrawing CPF savings in Parliament on Tuesday … Ms Chia noted that it should be viewed in the context of personal responsibilities. For instance, on CPF savings – she felt that people shouldn’t be spending like they would be spending their own salary. This is because CPF savings are enhanced by co-payment by employers and through top-ups from public funds.

Ms Chia said: “In relation to the use of CPF money, we have heard proponents who say that the CPF monies is theirs. “It’s our money, it’s in our account, it’s our retirement money. I want it out, I will spend it anyway we want.” Fine. Is it our money? Our CPF savings are enhanced and forced CPF savings which are accumulated through our own deferred consumption, through co-payment by our employers and through top-ups from public funds. Is it really my private money? Do I have the right to spend it the way I would spend my own salary? I’m not entirely sure.

“I know at the end of the day, that because I’m not the only person contributing to the fund, I cannot be the only person to call the shots as to how I am going to spend it. At the very least, I have a moral obligation to spend it wisely. Why do I say that? Because if I’m not judicious in my spending at the end of the day, who’s going to maintain me in my twilight years – the state? Who? Ultimately it means someone else is bearing it right, another taxpayer. So if I’m not judicious and I’m arguing this is my money, I’m not going to be responsible in my use and if I argue this is your money, you use it anyway you want – I’m not responsible as a citizen.”

Ms Chia cautioned against a Budget that leans too heavily to the left.

“We have a Budget that has been praised and approved as leaning to the left. But I would also argue that if we lean too much to the left, we will not have much left. So what I will also want to end up with and conclude is that when we talk about collective responsibility, we need to understand that collective responsibility must also be exercised responsibly on a collective basis, as well as on a personal basis.”

Ms Chia also touched on the SkillsFuture initiative and said that unlike infrastructural investments, it would be difficult to measure the scheme’s positive outcomes. Hence, she stressed that the onus is on those who will conduct the training sessions – to exercise integrity and professionalism.

Ms Chia, who is also the President of the Society for Aid to the Paralysed, called on the government to place a greater and more integrated emphasis on training those with disabilities. This will help to empower and equip them to be financially independent.

BKR50: Buffett doesn’t do PAP SG50 BS

In Financial competency on 04/03/2015 at 12:21 pm

But then he doesn’t face a general election. He lets this metric talk the walk: Over the last 50 years,the stock is up 1,826,163 percent.

But to be fair to the PAP, he like the PAP did better in the early yrs than in the recent past: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/sg50-versus-brk50/

But then he doesn’t pay himself so much and he is no hypocrite unlike Jos Teo https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/jos-teos-double-standards-walk-the-talk-chiams/ and Gan Kim Yong (See below for Gan’s hypocrisy and double standards.

BUFFETT HINTS AT SUCCESSOR Warren E. Buffett released his annual letter to shareholders on Saturday, reflecting on his 50 years in control of Berkshire Hathaway, one of the world’s biggest companies. In his 24,000-word letter to commemorate his golden anniversary at the company, Mr. Buffett looked back on less prescient moves. He also railed against investment bankers, accusing them of being nearsighted and self-serving.

But what made perhaps the most waves in the business world over the weekend was Mr. Buffett’s hint that the board of Berkshire Hathaway hadidentified his successor as chief executive. “Both the board and I believe we now have the right person to succeed me as C.E.O. ‒ a successor ready to assume the job the day after I die or step down,” Mr. Buffett wrote. “In certain important respects, this person will do a better job than I am doing.”

Mr. Buffett did not reveal that person’s identity, but in a separate letter, Charlie Munger, the vice chairman, suggested that either Ajit Jain, an insurance executive at the company, or Greg Abel, the head of Berkshire’s energy business, was most likely to receive the job. Mr. Buffett’s son Howard will become nonexecutive chairman when his father no longer serves in that role.

The letter also detailed Berkshire Hathaway’s success. Last year, the company’s market value increased by $18.3 billion. Over the last 50 years,the stock is up 1,826,163 percent. Although Berkshire did not strike any megadeals last year, it continued to grow by making 31 smaller so-called bolt-on acquisitions that will cost a total of $7.8 billion. Mr. Buffett also reiterated Berkshire’s interest in making a deal worth $5 billion to $20 billion, but he said that many of the deals pitched were of inferior quality.

——-

Well Gan, what about ministerial pay monetising public service?

[I]ntroducing a direct caregiver allowance may monetise family support and filial piety, said the Minister for Heath Mr Gan Kim Yong in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 3).

In a written response … about whether the Ministry will consider the provision of allowance to caregivers taking care of an elderly, a family member with special needs or disabilities, Mr Gan said family support and filial piety are “priceless” and should not be monetised.

———————-

 

Jos Teo’s double standards/ Walk the talk, Chiams

In Political governance on 04/03/2015 at 4:40 am

One for people like herself* and another for the “little” people?

More than 100 Singaporeans gave their feedback on Budget 2015 at a forum on Thursday (Feb 26), organised by feedback unit REACH … Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo was also present …

While she noted the importance of giving NSmen recognition, Mrs Teo said service for the country cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

Right so why you, Hen and Grace have bitched about the sacrifices you made to serve S’poreans: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/hen-jost-gracef-money-money-money/

I’ll leave the final word on her words to a tua kee blogger who posted on Facebook:

Our National Servicemen who are compulsorily enlisted have it far worse. While the Budget for Defence spending keeps going up year-after-year, most NSmen are paid far less than cleaners.

While our Ministers command top-dollars for their service to the country, they suppress a more appropriate allowance for our citizen-soldiers for the very same reason – that service for the country cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

And I hope the Chiams make him the communications director of their SPP. Not only will it be good for the Chiams**, it will show that they are walking the walk in their talk of renewing the party. Mr Chiam has been talking of new blood since the 1990s, but all that happens is that blood is sucked out from younger talents who join him: ask Wilfred and Desmond. Pwee was too smart to allow his blood to be sucked for free: he forced the renewal pretty soon after he joined up and left when it was clear that the Chiams were not changing: smart guy. But then he is a scholar.

As the person in question has good new media credentials and was denounced by a minister in parly, the Chiams have no excuse in not giving him a chance to show what he do for the SPP and themselves. They can’t say that he is not proven talent, or is not “Political” or not brave. They can’t even say that he has yet to prove his loyalty:. he has been a friend of the Chiams for several yrs, even defending them against my sniping about them refusing to walk the talk. He’s also my friend.

——

*To be fair to her, this blogger says she is a gd MP http://anyhowhantam.blogspot.sg/2015/03/josephine-teo-will-be-extremely-hard-to.html

She may be one, but a gd junior minister?

**They have plenty of goodwill online despite not having a presence online. Imagine their influence if they had a new media decent presence

StanChart: New CEO (“inspired choice”*) lacks Asian experience

In Banks, Emerging markets, Telecoms on 03/03/2015 at 1:14 pm

But this lack of Asian experience shows that the directors think that the main priorities for the bank are to shore up capital (rights issue coming) and mending ties with US regulators. He has great credentials for these tasks. Temasek seems to agree. it welcomed Mr. Winters, who “brings with him considerable experience, as well as an excellent reputation for building good teams.”

(*Btw, “inspired choice” is FT’s description)

Still the lack of Asian experience could become a major issue because there is expected to be an exodus of experienced managers. He may find replacements but changes will be disruptive if not problematic.

STANDARD CHARTERED OVERHAULS LEADERSHIP The British bank Standard Chartered responded on Thursday to shareholders’ calls for change, announcing a sweeping management overhaul including the departure of its chief executive, its chairman, the head of Asian markets and several directors, Jenny Anderson and Chad Bray write in DealBook. In a move that surprised many, it named William T. Winters, the 53-year-old former head of JPMorgan Chase’s investment bank ‒ who was once seen as a candidate to succeed Jamie Dimon ‒ to take the helm.

Mr. Winters, who will join the bank on May 1 and become chief executive in June, will succeed Peter Sands, one of the longest-serving chief executives in British finance. He will receive a base salary of 1.15 million pounds, or about $1.8 million, as well as a pension and other benefits. As the bank’s leader, Mr. Winters will not have it easy. The bank has been hurt in recent years by regulatory fines and investigations and by its focus on emerging markets. It has slashed thousands of jobs, closed its stock trading and underwriting unit and is looking to cut $400 million in costs. Impairments for bad loans, including in the mining sector, have soared.

But Mr. Winters, an American, appears up to the task. In a call with reporters, John W. Peace, the chairman, said that Mr. Winters had “great respect among regulators, clients and the market” and a solid understanding of the global regulatory environment. Temasek Holdings, which owns almost 18 percent of Standard Chartered, declined to comment on whether it had pressed for management changes. But it said that it welcomed Mr. Winters, who “brings with him considerable experience, as well as an excellent reputation for building good teams.”

NYT’s Dealbook

Related article: http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2015/02/26/stanchart-board-clearout-is-only-the-first-step/

 

AHPETC story: Two chatter-boxes are silent

In Uncategorized on 03/03/2015 at 4:35 am

In all the noise surrounding AHPTEC, two noisy S’poreans are silent..

Dr Chee was quick to defend Roy when he led a bunch of hooligans in disrupting YMCA’s function at Hong Lim Green,  but is strangely silent on coming out in support of the WP over the AHPETC incident: remember that when he didn’t take his anti-Mad Dog pills a few yrs ago, he proposed that if the SDP won the Punggol East by-election, he would allow the then AHTC to run Punngol East.

Maybe that’s why he’s so silent: pai seh that he trusted the WP.

Goh Meng Seng was also pretty quick to defend the actions of Roy, New Citizen H3 and the other hooligans who disturbed the YMCA’s activities. He is also very anti-WP: always looking to say nasty things about the WP and its leaders. Example: when news broke that Auntie and Quah Kim Song had become a couple, he KPKBed about it while others were, rightly, congratulating the couple, wishing them well. Then there was the time when he criticised the People’s Princess Nicole Seah, in the guise of giving her advice.

So his silence especially when when there is an opportunity to slime the WP, is really strange. Has he had his vocal cords cut?

As to the possible reason for  his silence, watch this space. It’s connected to why four NSP young Turks walked out of the NSP and were seen campaigning for the Chiams.

 

Budget 2015: The real reason sin and petrol taxes raised

In Economy on 02/03/2015 at 11:51 am

Govt wants higher inflation.

— Singapore’s consumer price index fell 0.4 percent year-on-year in January, its biggest decline since December 2009. Core inflation in January was 1 percent, the weakest since March 2010. (Reuters)
Singapore’s headline inflation rate fell into negative territory in both November and December, leading to Q4 2014 inflation of -0.1 per cent.

For all of 2014, consumer price inflation fell to 1 per cent from 2.4 per cent in 2013, as housing and car prices eased.

– Core inflation – which excludes accommodation and private transport costs – rose to 1.9 per cent in 2014, from 1.7 per cent in 2013. But this too, has eased in recent months.

– In 2015, the authorities expect headline inflation and core inflation to ease further due to low global oil prices. Also, businesses’ ability to pass on higher wage costs to consumers may be constrained by slow growth, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said.

– See more at: http://business.asiaone.com/news/snapshot-the-singapore-economy#sthash.ey1FvGyA.dpuf
[B]road and persistent deflation is not a healthy thing for a modern economy. It will make big debts harder for households and governments to repay. Think of the mortgages and the monies owing to CPF account holders if there is deflation.

A more effective way is to increase GST rates.  And GST rises are coming soon say a tax expert, constructive, nation-building MediaCorp and junior minister for finance Jos Teo. We must ask loudly and at every appropriate opportunity :“After GE, will the PAP administration raise GST rates and by how much?”

The answer, we should want to hear is what Tharman said in 2011 about future GST rises:“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)

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/budget-ask-in-a-very-loud-voice/

 

After the goodies, GST hikes a’coming soon

In Economy, Political governance on 02/03/2015 at 5:05 am

So says tax expert: PricewaterhouseCoopers tax partner Koh Soo How … said any hike would probably take place in 2016 or 2017*. (CNA last week)

And constructive, nation-building MediaCorp:While the Government has raised income tax rates for top earners in Singapore for a more progressive tax system, taxes paid by a broader swathe of Singaporeans, such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST), will probably go up in the coming years to pay for social spending, said tax experts and economists.

The GST could go up after next year to 9 or 10 per cent, in line with the Asia-Pacific average. Other taxes the Government could raise include consumption taxes, stamp duties and property taxes, they said. (CNA)

Err, wonder if Mr Koh and the MediaCorp executives are secretly rooting for the SDP which said around the same time:The people must also beware that while the Government makes these concessions before the elections, it can always make the money back after the next GE through a myriad of taxes, fees and levies.

http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/02/sdp-budget-shows-why-singaporeans-should-support-the-opposition/

Is Jos Teo also a subversive and secret SDP member?

Jos Teo double confirms GST rise?

At a forum on 26 Feb organised by government feedback unit Reach to discuss Budget 2015, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said that Singapore is in the unusual position of being able to tap more sources of revenue to fund its increased spending needs.

“Many other countries around the world actually need additional revenue sources to help pay for programmes that benefit citizens, but not that many have the courage to raise taxes,” she added.

“But we think that it is the responsible thing to do.”

Seriously, it’s very, very important, as I said last week, to ask loudly and at every appropriate opportunity :“After GE, will the PAP administration raise GST rates and by how much?”

The answer, we should want to hear is what Tharman said in 2011 about future GST rises:“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)

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/budget-ask-in-a-very-loud-voice/

If we don’t get this answer, then we can expect GST rises after the GE, as sure as Zorro smiles at his monthly CPF statement everytime he receives it.

If we get this answer , then this lady is right:Ernst & Young Solutions head of tax Chung-Sim Siew Moon does not expect a hike in the GST before 2020. “The minister has indicated that the revenue measures that have been put in place will be sufficient for the increased planning needs until the end of the decade,” she noted.

But in the long term, we have to be be realistic if we want more welfare for the born-loser cybernuts who expect something while biting the hand that feeds them: Nanyang Technological University economist and Assistant Professor Walter Theseira said taxpayers can expect to pay more in the medium and long term, with higher-income earners contributing a larger share. The proceeds can fund social initiatives to help the unemployed, and support medical expenses and retirement provisions for middle- and lower-income groups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another reason for GE in 2016, not 2015?

In Political governance on 01/03/2015 at 4:41 am

The rising cost of EPL footie starting in 2016-2017 season and the PAP’s wooing of the EPL fans?

Let me explain.

British broadcasters will be paying an average of £10.2m per EPL match from the 2016-17 season.

The 70% increase announced by the Premier League in the value of its UK television rights means that prices for int’l rights will rise again. Interestingly the last time (3 yrs) ago, when the UK rights were tendered, the rise was 70%.

Sky is paying an average of £10.8m for each of the 126 Premier League games it will broadcast each season from 2016-17 until 2018-19, and BT will pay around £7.6m for each of its 42 matches, BBC

So doubtless Singtel will over-bid again and blame the int’l market prices.

So more will flock to the PA centres (including the cybernuts who curse the PAP online: after all how can born-losers with a sense of entitlement afford to watch at home or the pub or the coffee shop when prices go up further?) where EPL matches are screened when the 2016-2017:begins. I’m assuming  SingTel will do the right thing and extend, enlarge the present arrangement of screening EPL games.

So a publicity campaign telling the masses about the free EPL footie in the PA centres in early 2016 for the next season should help the PAP connect with the EPL fans: the PAP cares for EPL fans.