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Archive for August, 2015|Monthly archive page

Sotong investors/ Some are moving on

In China, Emerging markets on 31/08/2015 at 1:43 pm

INVESTORS SEEK SIGNAL IN THE NOISE Asian markets continued to soar on Friday, on the back of a global rebound on Thursday. The fear was palpable just days ago, but by the end of Thursday, the gloom had dissipated, DealBook’s Peter Eavis reports. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index had climbed 6 percent from the low of Tuesday’s closeby the end of Thursday.

The positive trend continued during Asian trading on Friday. Stocks in Shanghai closed up 4.82 percent after another late-day surge, while the Nikkei 225 finished the day up about 3 percent.

Bystanders were left struggling to comprehend the gyrations. Even Wall Street pundits are seeing mixed messages.

At Tuesday’s low, a bear market – when stocks decline 20 percent or more – did not seem out of the question. But after Thursday’s performance, it seemed plausible that the six-year bull market that started in 2009 might resume.

There was, in fact, a string of positive economic data released this week. Spain’s economy is now growing at a rate of over 3 percent, while revised gross domestic product numbers showed that the United States economy grew at a 3.7 percent rate.

There are still plenty of problems that could drag down global growth. China’s leaders have intervened to shore up the stock market, promote bank lending and loosen monetary policy, but these moves could well stifle the role of market forces.

The pressure on emerging markets is unlikely to go away. Companies that have borrowed in dollars may find it harder to pay back debt as their currencies lose value against the dollar. The resulting slow growth in developing countries might squeeze demand for goods and services from the United States and Europe, dampening growth there too.

If this happened, central banks like the Federal Reserve could step in to stimulate economies. But their intervention can create uncertainty over the long term as investors wonder whether stock and bond prices are rising because of central bank stimulus and worry about what will happen once that support is pulled away. Analysts see problems in the underlying economy that they say central bank stimulus, or quantitative easing, cannot fix.

When nobody knows when the stimulus will end, markets move unpredictably, as investors find different ways to interpret pronouncements from central bankers.

The one reassurance is that in recent history, short-lived stock market corrections that have not turned into bear markets typically have not stopped businesses from investing and people from spending.

 

James B. Stewart: Top Money Managers Take Their Losses, and Move On Fund investors are looking for opportunities in global stock markets, where share prices have been battered in recent days.

Raffles too was queried about his finances

In Accounting on 31/08/2015 at 4:51 am

When I read the latest attacks on the WP’s management of AHPETC, I couldn’t help remembering the attacks on Raffles by other East India Company officials that in one instance led to his impeachment. He was cleared of all impropriety in all the cases.

But when he retired, he was not only not granted a pension (he had asked for £500 a year), but was sent a bill for £20,000 (worth £2m today) for allegedly over-claiming expenses during his administrations (principally relating to the British occupation of Java).

He died two months after receiving the bill and was not able to defend himself.

His estate amounted to around £10,000, which was paid to the Company to cover his outstanding debt. His widow was left destitute.

Historians take the view that the bill was a mean-spirited attempt by his employer to “fix” him. He was a difficult (somes a rogue) employee and neither Java nor S’pore made money for the Company despite his promises to the contrary. Java was a huge drain on the East India Company but the occupation of Java had the backing of the then Governor-General in India, Lord Minto.

Raffles was more interested in extending British influence in the region, while the East India Company was interested in profits to pay dividends to its shareholders. It had soldiers, sailors and territory, but these were means to the end of making money for shareholders.

 

Profiteering? Dodgy accounts? Forensic audit needed

In Accounting, Uncategorized on 30/08/2015 at 5:38 am

So there’s another round of “he said, she said” about AHPETC’s managing agent. T’ll not comment but remind readers yet again of the underlying very technical and very dry issue. As it’s the weekend, you might want to skip the bolded bit and read to the end. There’s a bit of “She said, he said” asfer this pix.

 

https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/11888065_973540056029404_4782647463966756683_n.jpg?oh=646ce592278df46ec48bb2eb1a135c54&oe=566D1760&__gda__=1449500905_c26ff7b9ef1a86509f1436afec4096a6

Recently, representatives from nine opposition parties and the ruling PAP were represented at a three-hour forum organised by the National University of Singapore Society.

“I think in the case of AHPETC, I think what we’ve been hearing are fairly lengthy – I don’t want to say excuses, that doesn’t sound very nice – explanations which I also don’t fully understand. If you were to ask about money then I would say in the case of the AGO audit, all the monies we’ve been talking about has been accounted for, and no money is lost. But in the case of AHPETC, I’m not too sure,”

“I wish that more answers had been forthcoming from AHPETC. Then I think we would have wasted much less time on the issue and I think the population would be much the wiser.”

Have to agree with her.

To be fair, I’ll report what WP’s Mr Gerald Giam said. He pointed out that AHPETC Chairman Sylvia Lim, as well as the elected MPs who are town councillors, “all spoke, all explained various aspects of the report” during a two-day debate in Parliament. He said that this was in addition to “numerous other press statements”, “open letters to residents” and door-to-door explanations.

“I think we have done a lot of explaining already. Just because the PAP does not want to accept our explanations does not mean we haven’t explained,” said Mr Giam. “We have explained every point that has been brought up which demands an explanation and we have spared no effort in that. And with the coming election, I’m sure this issue will be raised up by the PAP and we will respond if we need to.”

Note WP has avoided stating categorically that no public funds have been lost, and no damage suffered. It can’t because AGO has said the accounts are not fit for purpse.

Yet WP has yet to commission a forensic audit, reconstruction of accounts that will tell all. This despite saying that it accepts that the AGO is professional and independent. So it saying AGO is wrong that its accounts are not fit for purpose?

Sadly as DPM Teo has said, only a PAP victory in Aljunied will uncover the truth. Or to be more accurate, a reality that is closer to the absolute truth. Remember the PAP is always out to “fix” the Oppo.

Let the voters In Aljunied and the areas where the WP is challenging the PAP decide. I’ve already decided (somewhere here, near the bottom) what I’m going to do. And voters might want to be reminded that AHPETC does things directly (like Bishan/ TP GRC. It no longer has a managing agent.

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Tharman joking again? Or trying to BS us?

In Economy on 30/08/2015 at 4:39 am

But before I go to Tharman, let me quote Dr Chee on the problems facing some, many S’poreans (certainly not me)

the 2014 report by Credit Lyonnaise Securities Asia which showed that almost half of households in Singapore live from paycheck to paycheck with little or no savings. This is middle class that we’re talking about. They are just one major bill away from financial ruin. This can come in the form of an accident, health problem, or some other foreseeable catastrophe.

What is less surprising is the report’s finding that the majority of our elderly indicated that they are not saving. How can they when they have hardly anything to live on after they’ve paid up their HDB loan? What’s more, the little that they have is withheld under the Minimum Sum Scheme.

But what’s particularly disturbing is the finding that a high proportion of Singaporeans in their 30s and 40s are also unable to save.

How did all this come about? The cost of living in Singapore, of course, plays a major role. In 2001, we were the 97th most expensive city in the world. In a short span of just over 10 years, we hopped, stepped and jumped to becoming the most expensive city in the world, according to the Economic Intelligence Unit.

Full text of speech at *. I commend it for your reading.

Singapore’s social and economic policies, which work hand-in-hand, are long-term strategies that have been in place long before the 2011 General Election. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam made this point on Friday (Aug 14) in a speech at the SG50 Special Distinguished Lecture, organised by the Economic Society of Singapore.

He spoke of support for the very young, starting with broad-based quality in the public school system in Singapore. When a person enters the workforce, there is Workfare where the Government tops up the wages of low-income workers. In housing, the Government went about it in a “very determined way” to ensure homes remained affordable for low- and middle-income couples, Mr Tharman said.

For seniors, the Central Provident Fund remains a critical pillar of support and the Government has introduced features like the Pioneer Generation Package and the permanent Silver Support Scheme, for the low-income elderly.

“This has been a shift that started a full 10 years ago and step-by-step, we moved up our support by intervening with people who are young, intervening in the working years and increasingly now in the senior years. It’s not just an innovation in the last five years,” Mr Tharman said.

“And I recognise of course, there’s some political cunning, saying this all came about because of GE 2011. I’m sorry it didn’t. The world did not start in 2011. We made very clear our intentions and our motivations in 2007. We made clear it was going to be a multi-year strategy and step-by-step, starting from the kids when they are young, through working life, into the senior years.

“We have been moving towards a more inclusive society step by step and we intend to continue on this journey. Learning from experience, improving where we can. But this is not a result of 2011.”** I also commend you read the rest of CNA article below because it’s a good summary of the PAP’s views on “Life, the Universe and Everything”.

Now you know why I put Dr Chee’s remarks first. How can the recent goodies be part of a 10-yr plan given the dates of the reports quoted by Dr Chee: in or around 2914.

If the PAP administration had been working since 2005 or 2006, why weren’t the results not shown in the data?

Remember Tharman’s previous attempts at telling jokes

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/property-tharman-trying-to-crack-jokes-again/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/tharman-trying-to-tell-jokes-again/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/telling-coc-jokes-ministerial-coc-needed/

Related posts

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/why-tharman-will-be-the-next-pm/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/tharman-also-from-bizarro-spore/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/another-minister-tries-telling-jokes/

But maybe, Tharman the real aristocrat (no not juz s “natural” one: he like VivianB are from ACS), thinks we are daft peasants and workers?

 

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*Full text of Dr Chee Soon Juan’s speech at the SDP’s 35th Anniversary Dinner on 15 August 2015:

Mr Jeffrey George, Chairman, SDP, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

In 1995, during the Ordinary Party Conference at which I was first elected Secretary-General of the SDP, I gave an address about the need to invest our time and effort building up a strong foundation for the party.

I related the fable of the Three Little Pigs and how it was important to erect our house with bricks rather than with sticks and straw. Only with a sound foundation could we build a premier party that we all wanted to see the SDP become.

By foundation, I meant that we had to ground the party on principles – principles that allowed the people the freedom to think and express those thoughts, principles that ensured that we enhanced opportunity for all to succeed, not just the privileged, and principles that grounded us on the idea that power is measured by our ability to care for the weakest among us.

By foundation, I also meant taking the time and having the discipline to put up considered policy papers by conducting research and consulting the people.

In the years that ensued, I was repeatedly criticised – even by those in opposition circles – for being out of touch with the masses and being too academic in my approach. My critics also argued that Singaporeans were interested only in bread-and-butter issues; democracy and political freedom were Western concepts unsuited to the Asian mind.

I never bought the propaganda because unless someone can show me that Singaporeans are somehow different from the rest of the human race or possessed DNA that made us inherently desirous of being constantly told what to do, I cannot but conclude that these views are propagated by the powerful few who want to keep the status quo.

Rising prices, stagnant wages

I have maintained that without our political rights, we cannot protect our economic interests and well-being. Recent trends have proven me correct.

Take, for example, the 2014 report by Credit Lyonnaise Securities Asia which showed that almost half of households in Singapore live from paycheck to paycheck with little or no savings. This is middle class that we’re talking about. They are just one major bill away from financial ruin. This can come in the form of an accident, health problem, or some other foreseeable catastrophe.

What is less surprising is the report’s finding that the majority of our elderly indicated that they are not saving. How can they when they have hardly anything to live on after they’ve paid up their HDB loan? What’s more, the little that they have is withheld under the Minimum Sum Scheme.

But what’s particularly disturbing is the finding that a high proportion of Singaporeans in their 30s and 40s are also unable to save.

How did all this come about? The cost of living in Singapore, of course, plays a major role. In 2001, we were the 97th most expensive city in the world. In a short span of just over 10 years, we hopped, stepped and jumped to becoming the most expensive city in the world, according to the Economic Intelligence Unit.

This is not just happenstance. It came about through deliberate planning by the PAP. For instance, the Government rewrote the Banking Act and Immigration policy to court High Net-Worth Individuals to Singapore. As a result, we have the highest proportion of millionaires and billionaires in the world. The massive inflow of foreign capital places enormous upward pressure on prices in the country.

At the same time, we imported en masse cheap foreign labour to do the lower-skilled jobs. This puts downward pressure on wages of the locals. It also has the unintended effect of lowering labour productivity levels. The government has often repeated that wages cannot outstrip productivity. The result is that real wages continue to languish.

This double whammy of rising costs and stagnating wages is what is making lives financially so tough for Singaporeans.

And what about our youth? The future looks anything but hopeful. They now have to compete with foreign students – who are getting generous financial assistance from the state – for places in our universities. And when they graduate, they have a tough time finding jobs. If they do end up with a job, many are underemployed engaging in low-paying or low-skilled positions.

And with the high HDB prices, housing has become largely unaffordable for young couples.

All this means that for our younger generation, opportunity is diminishing while stress and anxiety are increasing.

This has caused many Singaporeans to leave the country. Unfortunately, they are ones whose talent and skills we need most. Lee Kuan Yew, himself, admitted that this development is a serious problem.

So what does the Government do? Instead of examining its policies that gave rise to these problems in the first place, it opens up our immigration doors to let foreigners in by the millions ostensibly to augment innovation and job creation.

But the more people we let in, the greater the competition for opportunity, the more stressful life in Singapore becomes, the more Singaporeans choose to leave and on goes the downward spiral.

The situation has deteriorated to the point that the PAP acknowledges the problem. Both Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Long have said that without foreigners, we cannot attract investments and create jobs.

Unchecked power

How did we come to such a tragic state? After more that 50 years of uninterrupted PAP rule, we cannot produce a citizenry, or at least retain one, which can keep our country going without having to rely on foreigners?

But even as the SDP saw the situation deteriorate, our hands were tied. There was little we could do because our rulers decreed that the media had to be controlled, political parties could operate only under the most restrictive of conditions, and fundamental freedoms were tightly proscribed.

As a consequence, the ruling party’s power was unchecked. The result is a slew of problems, of which I have just mentioned a few, that our society has to grapple with.

Authoritarian control has another effect that is less obvious, perhaps, but no less damaging to our nation. It has to do with our effort to build a knowledge-based society. The fact that we are so reliant on foreigners and foreign corporations to drive our economy is more than a subtle hint that we’ve not been very successful in this endeavour. This is because a political system which demands conformity does not, and cannot, admit of knowledge creation.

Which leads me back to the point that I made at the beginning of my address, it is the same point that I have been making for the last 20 years: Without political freedom, that is, freedom of speech, assembly and association, we cannot regenerate our economy.

What’s the solution?

The question is not whether the present system will continue to serve Singapore well because clearly it can’t. Even PAP stalwarts like George Yeo have openly called for its reform.

Rather, the question must be how are we going to go about making the necessary changes. There are several areas that we must deal with if we are going to get out of the rut in which we currently find ourselves. But I will confine my answer to the one that is most obvious and immediate: elect SDP candidates into office in the coming elections.

I will point out two incontrovertible facts to underscore why it is crucial to have the SDP in the next Parliament. The first is that we are the only party that has consistently iterated that our political rights and our economic progress are two sides of the same coin, they are inextricably bound. Without advancement in our political rights, problems regarding our economic and social well-being cannot be addressed.

Second, we are also the only party to have drawn up a bold new vision for this nation and crafted alternative policies to take the country closer to that vision. There is nothing worse than asking voters to vote for change when they don’t know what that change is or might look like. We have articulated for society a future that can be better and more secure than the one we have presently. We are advocating a system where the people have the means and the responsibility to shape their own future.

In other words, we want to give voters a reason to vote for the SDP, not just against the PAP.

We want to build a system where debate, reasoned argument, and free choice is highly valued; thick on logic and persuasion, thin on rhetoric and coercion. We want the government to listen – really listen – and be responsive to the wishes and needs of the people. This can only happen with a competent, constructive and compassionate opposition in Parliament – an opposition like the SDP.

SDP’s values

But while it is important to ensure that our future is one predicated on prosperity, we don’t want to advocate ideas that focus exclusively on material wealth – not if it means having to lose our soul and the very essence of being human. And being human is to care for our fellow human beings, to show compassion to those less fortunate than us.

When did we become so callous to suffering? When did we become numb to the fact that our elderly have to clear our tables and wash our toilets or collect cardboard just to live out their remaining years on this earth? I don’t believe that we are such a nasty people. I believe that we have been led astray. We have become so indifferent to the plight of the weak and the powerless because we’ve been told for decades that no one owes us a living, that it’s every man for himself.

We must find our way back, we must find our soul again because a people without a soul is a people who will not find life, life in its most profound sense.

We must impart wisdom that invites an individual to enter the door of his conscience – the conscience that speaks loudly and clearly of our values – that people come before profits, rights before riches and wisdom before wealth.

This is who we are, this is what we stand for and it is what we must strive to uphold. These values keep us united as Singapore Democrats, it is what is going to help us succeed as a party and, most importantly, it is what is going to bring this Republic of Singapore a better future.

It has taken us time to get to where we are today but it has been necessary. We have toiled hard, tilled the soil, planted the seed and with the sweat of our brow and the tears of our spirit, painstakingly cultivated the tree of democratic progress. May it bear fruit this election.

Thank you.

**Rest of CNA report:

He added that what is unique about Singapore is that there is “broad-based upliftment”, with jobs, rising incomes and homes for every Singaporean.

“Without social strategies, without strategies that made it possible for people to develop their potential, through education, without the housing policies that gave everyone a sense of ownership, provided a sense of equity in our society, it would have been impossible for our economy to have succeeded,” said Mr Tharman.

POLICIES HAVE TRANSFORMED OVER THE YEARS

He noted that Singapore’s policies have shifted over the years. The first three decades were focused on the basics – economic survival, job creation, and providing education and housing. And the poor received few subsidies, he said.

“It worked because our economic strategies worked. Jobs were created, incomes did rise and homes went up in value steadily and the economy improved. Social well-being went up without the whole array of social policies, by just focusing on the fundamentals,” Mr Tharman said.

Social policy came to the fore in the 1990s. The Government rolled out policies such as the Edusave scheme for young Singaporeans and Medifund for those who could not afford hospital bills. They also introduced housing grants for the resale market to help more Singaporeans own homes.

“But it is only in the last 10 years, starting from around 2006, 2007, that we made more decisive shifts, a more decisive rebalancing in order to ensure we remain an inclusive society. We needed to mitigate inequality. We had seen in a decade earlier in the mid-1990s when inequality had risen, similar to the trend in most advanced countries. We needed to do more to mitigate inequality,” he said.

SINGAPORE’S LEVEL OF INEQUALITY NOT HIGH BY INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS

But Mr Tharman noted that Singapore’s level of inequality, before taxes and Government transfers, is not particularly high by international standards.

He said: “The question then is, what happens after taxes and transfers? Because all governments do want to mitigate inequality, have some redistribution, in order to reduce them. And we do too. There are some countries that in fact achieve a very large reduction in their Gini coefficient, which is about distribution through taxes and transfers.

“The classic cases in Scandinavian economies and to some extent in the United Kingdom and other European economies – those have seen a significant reduction. But the first point we must recognise is that the reduction in inequality that they have seen, the reduction in their Gini coefficient goes hand-in-hand with a very heavy burden of taxation on their population. It is not just about taxing the rich – it is the middle, the broad middle class in the society that pays a very high tax rate. Consumption tax and income tax.”

A MORE INNOVATIVE SOCIETY

Mr Tharman also spoke of the need for a more innovative society, for every company and person to “unleash their innovative spirit” to move from adding value, to creating value through research and development and new products.

That is how Singapore will survive, said the Deputy Prime Minister. He said the country is already beginning to see some results. For example, there are aggressive schemes to support start-ups and help small and medium-sized enterprises upgrade and internationalise.

He said the Government will also take the lead to invest in all Singaporeans – throughout their life.

He noted: “This is why SkillsFuture is a major investment to our future. A major social and economic investment in our future. We are not anywhere near maximising our potential. In fact, no country is anywhere near maximising their potential and we intend to be in the lead by continuously investing in every Singaporean.

“Not many of us, let’s invest in every Singaporean. So we keep improving through life, keep learning something about ourselves, we did not know about. A strength, ability, an interest. And we are going to provide the resources, the facility all around the island to make this possible.”

ON FOREIGN WORKERS AND RESKILLING SINGAPORE WORKERS

Following his speech at the Economic Society of Singapore, Mr Tharman fielded several questions from the audience, including one on foreign workers in Singapore. He said they play an important role in keeping Singapore globally competitive.

Said Mr Tharman: “There are many jobs where you just won’t be able to find enough Singaporeans to do it. And second, because there are many foreign employees who come with expertise and long track records in particular fields that really add to the global teams in Singapore being competitive globally.

“So that is the real strategy,” he said. “In Singaporeans’ own interest, you must have globally competitive teams in Singapore. But if it’s all foreigners, you do not have Singaporeans in the team. Then that is not a sensible economic strategy. So our strategy is to have a balance. Make sure Singaporeans are at the core system – core not just in a regular jobs, core not just in back-end office work, but core in innovative teams and in order for them to be in globally competitive teams.”

Mr Tharman also explained why it is important to reskill Singapore workers. “It is a good thing that we are able to add labour-saving technologies in a labour-short economy,” he said. “We are a labour-short economy so we need every form of labour-saving technology. And the right solution is to make sure that anyone whose job becomes redundant because technology takes over is reskilled, and is able to have another good job.

“And we tend to be as active, as energetic as we can in this through SkillsFuture and through our subsidies as well to help people tide over and learn a new skill.”

He said the society has to help everyone keep up with the pace of change. “Make sure they are not treated as an unemployed statistic becoming an employed statistic, but they are citizens who must feel that they are all part of the team, and if you lose your job, we take care of you and ensure you can be part of another team. That culture of respect for blue collar workers is really something we need to develop.”

– CNA/ms

JJ our very own Houyi

In Political governance on 29/08/2015 at 1:08 pm

(For those not Chinese https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houyi)

The real Houyi would be targeting Auntie and her Singh for saboing the chances of JJ’s team winning Marine Parade. They failed to monitor the Managing Agent. Btw, JJ has an MBA. But obviously, this MBA didn’t include accountancy.

Bit sad about the WP’s short-comings. Would have been nice to see that arrogant GCT being made to chiai sai by being defeated.

No bonus this yr/ How deals get done

In Investment banking on 29/08/2015 at 4:16 am

A Hard Year for Investment Banks in Southeast Asia. Slowing economies have led to the scrapping of several initial public offerings, a drought in mergers and acquisitions, and a plunge in local currencies that has discouraged investors from buying stock and bonds issued locally.

How deals get done

NYT Dealbook also

Deals are underpinned by a trust that the prices discussed are fair and that the move is the best way to finance further growth. But sharp gyrations in the broad stock markets could unnerve the people responsible for making these decisions.

“Whenever you see this kind of turmoil in the market, it can shake people’s confidence,” said Kenneth M. Jacobs, the chief executive of Lazard. “You could see a pause until the dust settles and conditions become clearer.”

Advisers say many of the factors that have underpinned the huge boom in mergers have stayed in place. The cost of borrowing money remains cheap, letting buyers take on debt to take over their targets.

Lower share prices would not necessarily create an issue. If stocks fall to a new level, management teams would work with this new normal. It would also benefit private equity firms, who have routinely been outbid by corporate buyers able to pay more for targets. The problem is the volatility in markets. If markets are plunging one day and rebounding the next, it would make it difficult to price a takeover.

Hedgies caught with their pants down

In China, Financial competency on 28/08/2015 at 1:03 pm

From NYT Dealbook

ROUGH AND TUMBLE FOR HEDGE FUNDS The fallout from the global sell-off has few limits. Many on Wall Street have been caught off guard and money managers at some of the biggest hedge funds in the United States have had their vacation plans interrupted, Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein report in DealBook.

One adviser had to hop around on conference calls from his cabin in the woods. Another said investors had requested play-by-play commentary and performance figures. With the reason for the plunge so unclear, many have not been willing to stick their necks out and speak publicly.

It is clear, however, that August numbers are not looking good for them. Hedge funds went into the sell-off bullish, with $1.5 trillion in long positions – bets that stocks will rise in price – compared with $684 billion in short positions, bets that stocks will decline in price, according to an analysis of the industry by Goldman Sachs.

The 10 stocks that Goldman said were the most widely held by hedge funds – stocks like Apple, Citigroup, Facebook and Amazon – were down from 5 to 10 percent over the last three trading days.

Leon G. Cooperman, founder of the $9 billion hedge fund Omega Advisors and a longtime market bull, is emerging as a big loser in the chaos. As of Friday, his fund was said to have lost 11 percent this month, according to people briefed on the matter. The firm was hit hard by big declines in the share prices of Allergan, AerCap, Citigroup and the American International Group.

One hedge fund manager who invests mainly in United States stocks, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he would not be surprised if the average fund lost from 3 to 7 percent in August. He said the last week had been brutal and the losses had come far faster than most would have anticipated.

Even the world’s biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, led by Ray Dalio, was not spared. The $162 billion firm told investors on Friday that its Pure Alpha fund was down 4.7 percent for the month. Going into August, the Pure Alpha portfolio had been up 11.8 percent for the year.

After six years of a bull market run, few hedge fund managers have been brave enough to short stocks with much conviction. To take a short position, a trader sells borrowed stock in a company that he or she thinks is overvalued in anticipation of buying it back at a cheap price. Those that have taken short positions have not been hit as hard by the sell-off.

Hedge funds that scoop up distressed assets at bottomed-out prices also began to eye opportunities. “What I have told investors is the economy is fine but now is a great time to be buying some things when they get hit,” said Marc Lasry, a co-founder of the $13.9 billion hedge fund Avenue Capital Group. “Other people may be having issues,” Mr. Lasry said. “For us, that is an opportunity as opposed to a problem.”

Only 2 GRCs in play/ Only one will change hands

In Political governance on 28/08/2015 at 4:46 am

The only vulnerable GRCs (based on the 2006 GE election Aljunied margin of 12 points difference) are East Coast and Aljunied. In each, the winner won by only 10 points.

As Marine Parade is only two points more than Aljunied’s 12 points in 2006, I’ll include it as possibly being in play.

I’ll let Avinology describe the ground before I analyse the two issues that will decide who will win in these areas.

East Coast GRC

Without a doubt, this will be the hottest contest to watch for GE2015. The strongest opposition party, with 7 MPs and 1 Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) in parliament, is set for a rematch in East Coast GRC where they narrowly lost to the People’s Action Party (PAP). It was the narrowest win for a GRC for the ruling party, with just 54.8% of valid votes. For the WP, Gerald Giam from the losing team in East Coast GRC managed to snatch a seat in parliament as a NCMP for being one of the best-performing losers.

Giam is likely to be leading the WP team for this second showdown. His potential WP team mates include National University of Singapore associate professor and sociologist Daniel Goh, 42; law firm partner Dennis Tan, 44; research and consultancy firm chief executive Leon Perera, 44; and librarian Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, 36.

On the PAP’s end, the anchor minister in East Coast GRC, Minister for Manpower, Lim Swee Say, 61, wants to stay put. It is likely his team will stay very much the same. His running mates are likely to be Lee Yi Shyan, 53, Senior Minister of State in the ministries of Trade and Industry and National Development; Dr Maliki Osman, 50, Mayor of the South East District of Singapore, and a Senior Parliamentary Secretary at the ministries of Defence and National Development; and  Jessica Tan, 49, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore.

http://alvinology.com/2015/08/16/ge2015-the-top-battles-to-watch/

Aljunied GRC

This is the only GRC currently helmed by an opposition party. The WP’s top guns are all in this GRC, including WP’s secretary-general, Low Thia Khiang, 58; WP’s chairman, Slyvia Lim, 50; lawyer Chen Show Mao, 54; lawyer Pritam Singh, 39 and Muhamad Faisal Manap, 40.

The PAP seems unlikely and unwilling to send any bigwigs to contest in Aljunied GRC. It seems more apparent that they will be fielding a ‘suicide squad’ of political unknowns, comprising Victor Lye, PAP’s branch chairman at Bedok Reservoir-Punggol; Chua Eng Leong, 42, PAP’s branch chairman for Eunos; Chan Hui Yeh; K Muralidharan Pillai, 44, head of commercial litigation at Rajah and Tann; and Shamsul Kamar, 43, former head of department for student management at Spectra Secondary School.

WP’s Achilles heel are the controversies over town council funds and the way the WP is running the town council. By fielding a team of grassroot leaders, the PAP may be capitalising on this issue to bring down the WP. Do not dismiss the ‘suicide squad’ just yet as they may be the underdogs necessary to win over the hearts of Aljunied voters.

(Alvinology)

Marine Parade GRC

Versus a weak opposition party, the National Solidarity Party (NSP), who had just one strong candidate in their team, fresh face, Nicole Seah, then 23, the much stronger PAP team was only able to win with a small margin of 56.65% of valid votes in 2011.

For the coming election, the PAP team will see competition from a stronger opposition party, the WP.

With Goh Chok Tong stepping down from the cabinet, the anchor minister for Marine Parade GRC is now Minister for Social and Family Development, Tan Chuan-Jin, 46.

Would Tan be able to win back vote shares? Or would WP claw away more votes?

(Alvinology)

A very important difference between Aljunied 2011 and East Coast and Marine Parade 2015, is that the WP has not been walking the ground in the two PAP areas. And that the PAP teams are not as complacent as George Yeo and his wimmin from hell were.

Auntie Sylvia started work walking the ground almost immediately after the 2006 GE. She had a core of dedicated WP members with her (Goh Meng Seng who contested in Aljunied with her, doesn’t do walking the ground, only parachuting in and walking out in a huff, and blowing smoke, was not one of the team. Not it seems that Auntie wanted him. It’s alleged that he was a male chauvinist pig. Other half beat him at home and he took it out on Auntie publicly?)

The WP made their presence felt.

One cannot say the same of the WP in East Coast and Marine Parade since GE 2011.

Senior Minister of State and PAP MP for East Coast GRC Lee Yi Shyan appears confident that his team will triumph come the General Election.

He quipped that with so much work done in East Coast by the PAP team, any opposition party that comes around once in five years might need to be ushered around the constituency.

Someone was joking to me that because we have undergone so many changes in Bedok Town Centre, some who come here once every five years might get lost, so we might need to provide free tour guide services to show them around. CNA

Actually the tour guides will come in useful for the WP for another reason. Only Gerald Giam is left of the v2011 team that contested East Coast. The new team will be newbies who have only recently starting walking the ground.

Zorro Lim talked recently of personalised outreach in East Coast.

“Since 2011, throughout East Coast, we’ve organised many small groups of engagement with our residents, block by block, group by group. We always go for mass outreach through deep engagement,” he said.

“We do it block by block, so block by block, so one week, one resident from this block, next week resident from the other block – very deep engagement. I am able to talk to the residents, I am able to look at each and every one of their faces, I can address each and every one of their concerns, and they can see me personally.”

(CNA)

Something similar has been done in the HDB blocks in Marine Parade GRC.

As for Marine Parade, JJ has walked Joo Chiat but the rest of Marine Parade had not seen the WP, until now. let alone the NSP. Both parties were AWOL.

(No her, in Marine Parade)

Meanwhile Victor Lye and team have covered the ground thoroughly in Aljunied. If George Yeo and his women from hell had bothered to do half the walking Lye and friends have been doing, Aljunied would have been safe.

Other than who has been more diligent in walking the ground, the other issue that will prevent East Coast and Marine Parade from becoming WP is one I’m sick about writing.

During a recent debate between the PAP and the Oppo parties Mr Giam of the WP said the WP has addressed the points raised by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) on the town council. “But we didn’t see a need to constantly respond to every single time the Government kept repeating the same issues again and again,” he said. “Just because the PAP does not want to accept our explanations does not mean that we haven’t explained.”

(CNA)

Sorry, as readers know, I don’t buy this.

I now live in Marine Parade GRC (Joo Chiat kanna rezoned). I’ve voted for the WP since I was able to vote (bicycle thieves, an ex-Woodbridge patient) because I believe that a one-party state is bad for S’pore; but do I want to live in a GRC managed by the WP, a party that couldn’t keep proper records, and is in denial over this fact? And which throws smoke on the issue. It can’t bluff me because I was a Hon Treasurer of a club https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/ahpetc-sadly-pap-ib-gets-it-right/.needs JJ assure Marine Parade voters.

And I’m not alone: the neighbours (they are accountants, lawyers etc), and the really real Marine Parade residents I talk to, are wondering if the bad record keeping will continue. We know WP can keep the area clean and tidy, but can it keep proper financial records? https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/pap-wp-dont-do-accouting/

If JJ wants our vote, pls tell us how we can be certain that proper accounting records will be kept? And give us his personal assurance that no major irregularity will surface when there is a forensic audit of AHPETC’s accounts from 2012 to 2015. Btw, JJ has a Masters in Finance but I assume it didn’t cover basic accounting principles.

If no assurances are forthcoming, the PAP may not get our votes (certainly not mine), But the WP certainly won’t.

I’m sure there are enough voters in East Coast who will will agree with us, and by denying the WP our votes, keep these areas free of irregular town council accounting.

And I wouldn’t be surprised that there are enough voters in Aljunied who think like us and don’t support the WP this time round.

As I said: Two GRCs in play, only one will change hands.

HoHoHo: StanChart has another problem

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Temasek on 27/08/2015 at 1:42 pm

StanChart is expected to call for a rights issue by yr end. But mkt turmoil will make this difficult and expensive.

FT reports

“StanChart has been one of the hardest hit by the market turmoil. Shares in the bank, which is listed in London but specialises in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, have fallen a quarter this month and are down two-thirds in the past two years.

‘One investment banker said worries about slowing Asian growth and falling commodity prices risked creating “a perfect storm” for StanChart that would make it “much tougher to sell new shares” to investors.”

Note that FT reports that according to Nomura, half of StanChart’s Asian revenue in the first half of 2015 and less than 10% of HSBC’s came from China proper.

And that “from trading at more than double its tangible book value, its market value is now a third less than its assets, a discount even to big victims of the financial crisis, such as Royal Bank of Scotland.”

HoHoHo

AIM’s sotong trap

In Accounting, Political governance on 27/08/2015 at 4:36 am

 This piece is my reaction to

— what TOC reported MP Ravi as saying on the running of a town council if he wind Hong Kah’; and

— a letter to TRE from a reader.

Mr Philemon said that residents can be assured that he would be able to run a town council if he were to be elected as he is supported by the party machinery of SPP, which had run Potong Pasir for twenty over years.

“We have twenty over years of experience with Mr Chiam leading the town council in Potong Pasir. And when he left, he left with a surplus. And there were lifts upgraded, I think about 29 lifts that were upgraded, without residents co-paying for it. So that is the kind of assurance the residents can have, when they elect someone from SPP.

Not so easy Ravi. I hope that the appropriate people in SPP read an article in TRE on how AIM fixed the WP in Aljunied. To double confirm, I append the piece in full below and I sent this post to Ravi.

Last December, I asked if AHPETC had a 21st century IT systema world-class town council town council management software package? https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/does-ahpetc-have-a-21st-century-it-system/

It turned out that according to the Auditor-General, AHPETC didn’t even an accounting system that was fit for purpose.https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/auntie-good-accounting-is-a-national-issue-toc-bans-avatar-again/

Here’s a piece from TRE that has a plausible explanation for part of the WP’s accouting woes: that the WP was fixed. The writer makes certain assumptions like AIM uses Oracle or that the WP used Excel to store files, but ignore these very technical issues.

At heart waz he saying is that the WP or (rather I suspect) its Managing Agent walked into a trap laid by the PAP: “When the export [of data from the AIM system] is done, you will need to import the data to the new system. And you can only do it after the new system is developed. Most likely the new system will be a subset of the old system.

Therefore with the removal of the system from AHPETC, all this information is gone. They will need to manually extract the information from the exported files. Definitely no easy task.”

This explains why the AHPETC had problems submitting data to MDA, And why Auntie and Pritam took so long to verify the arrears issue.

Now this begs the question: Why did the WP not foresee the problem? Or did it think, minor IT issue? (No, I don’t ask why did AIM fix the voters’ choice, it’s in the DNA of the the PAP: fixing the Oppo and all voters.)

And is it now too pi seh to admit it got screwed?

But it still doesn’t explain why its Managing Agent didn’t keep proper records of the transactions that the Managing Agent undertook when it started operations or why the WP didn’t monitor its Managing Agent. Remember it had three hot shot lawyers, and JJ (Masters in finance). OK it didn’t have a trained accountant at a senior level.

—-

What you should know about the AHPETC-AIM saga

 With the elections coming, I decided to pen this article about the whole AHPETC saga. So far the articles that have been written have always been about the accounting lapses and what not. But none of them were written from an IT perspective. (Maybe no more SG IT professionals since all of them are replaced by FT, including me)

This is what we know so far.

The town council system that was used previously by the old Aljunied is a S$24 million software solution and it was sold to AIM for S$140,000.

I wasn’t involved in the project nor am I a member of WP. But anybody who has done Application Development projects with the government will know this is a huge project and it will probably involve hundreds of developers and testers, a couple of Project Managers and more Business Analysts. The size of the project tells me that they are using Oracle database (its license can easily reach $1million at least). The type of servers it is running on should be very high end, always turn on and has to be constantly kept cool (Air con is always on. Redundant air cons must be on standby in case the main one failed). This should be at least a 16 months project. I will not be surprised if it is 24 months.

However this is not the main issue. The main issue is the information from the database. And there are lots of it.

For example, these are the scenarios that I can think of.

Who has paid S&CC fees for last month? Who hasn’t? If you haven’t paid, is this your first time? Any reminders send? If so when? If this isn’t the first time, then how many times haven’t paid? If this isn’t the first time, then what are the months that have missed payments?

What type of flat? Based on flat type, penalty fees can be calculated.

Whether you are a PR or a citizen? Because the rates may be calculated differently.

If you have moved to a new flat within the GRC and you have missed the payments, what is the new address? How to ensure that the bill will be send to the new address and not the old?

These are just the tip of the iceberg. For a S$24 million project, there will be hundreds of scenarios more.

So if AHPETC was given 1 month to migrate the data, it will be an impossible task. Because to migrate, you need a new system for the migration to work. You need to migrate from the old to new system.

If there is no new system, then you have to export the data out. Given the time constraint, most likely to Excel files. And it will not be to 1 file. There will be hundreds/thousand of Excel file because of the way relational databases are designed. With Excel, it is very difficult to sort, filter and analyse the huge amount of data.

However that is only half the story.

When the export is done, you will need to import the data to the new system. And you can only do it after the new system is developed. Most likely the new system will be a subset of the old system.

Therefore with the removal of the system from AHPETC, all this information is gone. They will need to manually extract the information from the exported files. Definitely no easy task.

In short, I hope everyone will know the significance of what AIM has done.

Yours Sincerely,

Underemployed

What to do in falling markets?/ Negative-eight

In China, Financial competency on 26/08/2015 at 1:30 pm

How Emotion Hurts Stock Returns People feel losses more sharply than gains. So watch ESPN or do anything to avoid looking at your sinking portfolio.

Two consecutive days of 8% losses (Mon and Tues), the Chinese stockmarket’s biggest two-day plunge in nearly two decades

China Markets new

Time to worry? No worries, vote PAP like in 2001 LOL

In Economy, Political governance on 26/08/2015 at 3:45 am

There’s been a lot of speculation on why PM is giving us a holiday on Friday 11 September because polling is usually on a Saturday. These range from 12th being last day of Hungry Ghost Month to a subtle reminder of 9/11.

Whatever, the turmoil in world financial markets (At the end of this post is a long piece from NYT’s dealbook describing the financial markets on Monday night NY time and the dangers to the global economy if prices continue to slide, US$ rise) will make the PAP the more attractive party to swing voters already enjoying the fruits of the PAP’s administration largesse with our money, even, if they, like me, continue to mistrust the PAP administration on FT inflows.

So expect the constructive, nation-building media to play up the dangers of the turmoil to the S’porean economy. I’m not saying that there are no dangers, there are. We are an open economy and many S’poreans are mortgaged to above their eyeballs to buy “affordable” public housing. Lose job how? Higher interest rates how? We may know that the PAP administration is responsible for many S’poreans to be mortgaged to above their eyeballs because they bot “affordable” public housing. But can a coalition of the alternative parties do better than the PAP administration in an economic crisis?

If the turmoil continues, the ground will be sweet for the PM with swing voters preferring the PAP. Remember in 2001, the year where the global economy got into trouble and 9/11, the PAP won 73% of the populaw vote and the Oppo retained their two seats (In 1997, they lost two of the four seats they won in 1991.)

——-

This appeared in NYT’s Dealbook on Monday

GLOBAL MARKETS CONTINUE TO PLUNGE Stocks continued last week’s slide, led by a rout in Asia, David Jolly and Neil Gough report in DealBook. Shanghai’s stock market closed down 8.5 percent, erasing its gains so far this year.

The market plunged despite an announcement by China’s government on Sunday that the country’s pension funds would be allowed for the first time to invest in stocks. Pension funds can now invest as much as 30 percent of their holdings in the stock market. The main state-run pension fund manages about $550 billion of ordinary citizens’ retirement savings.

The concerns over China’s economic slowdown and the souring view of once-favored emerging economies have rattled financial markets in recent days and show no sign of letting up.

Stocks fell sharply at the open of trading in Europe, with the Euro Stoxx 50, a barometer of eurozone blue chips, dropping 2.2 percent in early trading. The FTSE 100 in London fell 2.05 percent and the DAX in Germany fell 2.29 percent. Trading in Standard & Poor’s 500 futures indicated thatWall Street was headed for a downturn at its opening bell.

The tumble on Monday follows the steep sell-off on Wall Street on Friday, when the Dow Jones industrial average fell 3.1 percent, threatening to end the six-year rally in United States stocks.

The gloom hung over the entire Asian region on Monday. The Nikkei 225 stock average closed 4.6 percent lower, while Australia’s main index fell 4.1 percent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed down 5.2 percent.

Most Asian currencies fell against the dollar, including the Malaysian ringgit, which slipped 1.4 percent in early afternoon trading. The yen, considered a regional haven currency, rose against the dollar for the fourth day in a row. Prices for commodities such as oil and copper continued their retreat.

The sharp decline in global markets has sped up as the large mutual funds that helped fuel rapid growth in developing countries have begun retreating from those investments, Landon Thomas Jr. reports in DealBook. In the last week alone, investors pulled $2.5 billion from emerging-market bond funds, the largest withdrawal since January 2014.

The selling spree has raised concerns among regulators and economists about a broader contagion that could make it difficult for individual investors to withdraw money from their mutual funds.

Although these funds do not use borrowed money, as did the banks that failed during the mortgage crisis, they have invested large sums in high-yielding bonds and bank loans that are not easy to sell – especially in a bear market.

If investors ask to be repaid all at once – as happened in 2008 – a bank run could unfold because funds would have difficulty meeting the demands of people wanting their cash back.

Because large global banks suffered significant losses during the financial crisis and were forced to rein in their lending, more nimble bond investors stepped in.

In January, economists at the Bank for International Settlements, or B.I.S., a clearing house for global central banks, highlighted in a study how fast dollar-based lending to companies and countries outside the United States had increased since the financial crisis – doubling to over $9 trillion. This growth was coming not from global banks but from American mutual funds buying the bonds of emerging-market issuers.

Large fund companies like BlackRock, Franklin Templeton and Pimco have been inundated with money from investors eager to invest in the high-yielding bonds of emerging-market corporations and countries.

For example, Pimco’s Total Return bond fund, a mainstay for investors with fairly conservative investment goals, has 21 percent of its $101 billion in assets invested in emerging-market bonds and derivatives.

Among the many beneficiaries of this largess were commodity-driven borrowers like the state-owned oil companies Petrobras in Brazil and Pemex in Mexico, the Russian state-owned natural gas exporter Gazprom, and real estate developers in China.

One of the more extreme cases of this bond market frenzy was in Mongolia. In 2012, with expectations high that the relatively tiny economy would reap the benefits of China’s ceaseless appetite for raw materials, the government sold $1.5 billion worth of bonds, with demand from investors reaching $10 billion. That meant, in effect, that the country was in a position to borrow twice its $4 billion gross domestic product.

Three years later, the International Monetary Fund is warning that Mongolia may not be able to make good on these loans – 14 percent of which are owned by Franklin Templeton, according to Bloomberg data – and the yields have shot up to about 9 percent from 4 percent.

Brazil, China, Malaysia, Russia, Turkey and others have sold more than $2 trillion in bonds, mostly to American mutual fund companies, since 2009. As this money flowed in, financing skyscrapers in Istanbul and oil exploration in Brazil, economies and currencies strengthened.

Now as that money heads for safety, local currencies are plunging.

B.I.S. economists warned this month that because bond funds have become so large and own so many of the same securities (many of which tend to be hard to sell), a bond-selling panic can spread quickly.

What worries many regulators and economists is how much mutual fund money is now tied up in hard-to-sell bonds – an amount that far exceeds the exposure investors had to these markets in earlier emerging-market crises.

HSBC shareholders juz got lucky/ China blues

In Banks, China on 25/08/2015 at 1:42 pm

Bozo Gulliver earlier this yr decided to pivot towards the Pearl Delta estuary, cutting fat from other places to build muscle here. The collapse in July in the Chinese stock markets had him back-pedalling about becoming big in China.

Now with China in retreat, he’d be a real Bozo to put money into China.

We shareholders had a narrow escape. Thanks to luck rather than good management.

But we will still suffer

FT reports that according to Nomura, less than 10 per cent of HSBC’s came from China proper.

… could be in for a rough ride if the swing in China’s currency is the start of a prolonged devaluation

The most obvious effect of a weaker currency is valuation losses on banks’ loans and trading assets in China, which many have used as a bridgehead in the world’s second-largest economy. A lower currency could also spell trouble for customers in China who have borrowed US dollars or euros but are earning renminbi — the “classic FX mismatch,” in the words of Keith Pogson, senior partner of EY’s Asia-Pacific financial services team.

Western banks also face risks from domestic Chinese counterparts which have borrowed dollars to lend to their own clients. “Asian banks are extremely used to borrowing cheap dollars through interbank markets and then relending it,” said one London-based banker. “In the next couple of years there could be bigger problems if China’s going to carry on devaluing.”

And let’s hope the cash from Brazil will not be squandered by Bozo.

 

Commentary at http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/08/daily-chart-9

2025: LKY’s memorial unveiled

In Environment, Infrastructure on 25/08/2015 at 3:37 am

In a recent blog post,”Where will the energy business be in 2025?” the FT’s energy guru, Nick Butler gave scenarios of the world in 2025. One scenario mentioned us and our dear Harry.

Climate change remains a serious and unresolved issue because of the continued use of coal but the focus of attention has shifted to the impact of climate volatility and extreme weather conditions. Insurance premiums for low-lying areas that could be hit by flooding have tripled. In 2025, Singapore announces that it will proceed with the construction of the 40km Lee Kuan Yew sea wall surrounding the island, which can be raised and lowered according to the level of risk.

The Great Wall of S’pore begins construction on the 10th anniversary of him becoming the 9th Immortal. DSC_0029

Yup cybernuts in TRE and TOC Land, in 2025, the PAP is still ruling S’pore. Grave dancer Oxygen and friends, go bang yr balls and cry. Harry rules OK. DSC_0011

China: No reason to panic/ Think Taiwan

In China on 24/08/2015 at 1:38 pm

Another day, another big fall in China.

The services sector supplanted manufacturing a couple of years ago as the biggest part of China’s economy, and that trend has only accelerated this year. The alarm on Friday stemmed from an unexpected fall in the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for manufacturing sponsored by Caixin, a respected Chinese financial magazine. That gauge has been lilting southward for a while. By contrast, Caixin’s PMI for the services sector jumped to an 11-month high in July.

http://www.economist.com/news/china/21661959-despite-financial-nervousness-rebalancing-continues-why-chinese-economic-worries-look-overdone

Taiwan is a place that could be more resilient to the EM gloom says a Fidelty fund mgr. Think high tech exports to the US. Think Apple also.

Zorro: Sotong or trying to sotong us over FT, local numbers

In Political economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 24/08/2015 at 4:25 am

Shielding Workers

But first, dare PM, Zorro, Kee Chui or anyone in the PAP or the NTUC dare say they are safeguarding S’poreans’ jobs or wages? (Sorry, the image can’t appear in the post: OK in draft. Go to http://www.theguardian.com/books/gallery/2015/aug/08/the-bodleian-treasures-online-in-pictures and scroll down) (I’ll leave PM’s outrageous attempt at misrepresenting our views on FTs for another day)

Let’s look at the facts of job protection for locals here. I”ll let Manpower Minister (and previously NTUC head) Lim Swee Say speak first.

In an interview last week,  said that the government will hold fast to its goal of having a two-thirds Singaporean core in the economy, and this will be the structure of the country’s workforce in the “medium to long term”. BS

NCMP Yee says Lim talking cock over optimistic view of maintaining 1/3 FTs in “medium to long term” For starters, FT workforce already more than 1/3

On his blog [Link] on 21 Aug, JJ pointed out that former Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin had admitted that the one-third FT target is possible only for this decade, during a Parliamentary debate 2 years ago.

“That I agree with.”

“Whilst doing our own computations for alternative models, we had then studied all the publicly available numbers about population in Singapore. There will be net addition to the local workforce from 2013 till 2020, the end of this decade. This is because there will be more Singaporeans turning of age to be included into the workforce than there are Singaporeans retiring.”

He noted that beyond 2020, in order to get the kind of economic growth the PAP government had wanted in the White Paper, there has to be more addition of foreign labour without any addition of local manpower.

“How much to add will depend on productivity growth, which the government had set a target of 2-3%. Sadly, this productivity growth has been near zero or negative in recent years.”

He therefore questioned Lim’s talk of maintaining the 2:1 ratio of Singaporean to foreign workers in Singapore’s workforce in the “medium to long term”.

“So, Mr Lim’s comments that the two-thirds Singaporean core will be something for the  ‘medium to long term’ is rather puzzling. What is ‘medium to long term’?”

“His predecessor (Tan Chuan-Jin) had already agreed with me that ‘by 2020 our own domestic labour force growth will basically end up at about zero. So whatever growth we have thereafter will largely be foreign labour growth’ and that ‘it (foreign workforce) is really about one-third for this decade until about 2020.”

Worse, the proportion of local work force seems to be decreasing while that of foreign work force is increasing.

“At the point that I had asked the question in March 2013, based on available manpower data of 2012, locals made up 63.0% of the workforce. By 2014, this figure has dropped to 61.9%. It was 62.1% in 2013 (Source: http://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Labour-Force-Summary-Table.aspx).”

Mid 2012 Mid 2013 Mid 2014
Total Workforce (‘000) 3,361.8 3,443.7 3,530.8
Local Workforce (‘000) 2,119.6 2,138.8 2,185.2
% Local 63.0% 62.1% 61.9%

In other words, as of last year, the proportion of foreign workers in our work force was already 38.1%, more than 1/3.

“Is Mr Lim’s definition of long-term up to 2020 only? If it is beyond 2020, how is he going to achieve that because even with a growing local workforce in this current decade, the ratio has been declining well past the two-thirds ratio already while productivity has failed to improve?”

Hear, hear for JJ, This is the kind of questioning I expect when I voted for WP at the last GE.

Back to the interview. Zorro said that the tightening of Singapore’s foreign manpower was not a reaction to past mistakes, but was rather a reflection that realities had changed. The inflow of foreign manpower was a hot topic during the 2011 General Election, and Mr Lim identified the “determination to manage” the growth of the foreign workforce here as the key shift in manpower policy since.

“It’s not so much because the policy of the past was a mistake but rather, we are now having a new stage of growth and therefore we have to pursue a new direction,” he said.

Oh how very convenient that “a new stage of growth” comes at a politically convenient time?

If anyone believes this, they’ll believe anything.

He went on to say, “Every country has to find the right balance … But on the whole, I would say that we have managed the process a lot more effectively compared to some other cities and countries. Through the manpower quota system, we have ensured foreign manpower spread across all sectors and companies.”

Manpower quota system? As TRE pointed out: for foreign PMETs, that is, foreign EP holders, there is no quota imposed in Singapore.

In the US, for example, the congress controlled their H-1B visa (equivalent to Singapore’s EP) for foreigners tightly. The current US law limits to 65,000 the number of foreign nationals who may be issued a H-1B visa each fiscal year. US laws also exempt up to 20,000 foreign nationals holding a master’s or higher degree from US universities from the cap on H-1B visas. In addition, excluded from the ceiling are all H-1B foreign workers who work at universities, non-profit research facilities associated with universities, and government research facilities. Universities can employ an unlimited number of foreign workers as cap-exempt. This also means that contractors working at but not directly employed by the institutions may be exempt from the cap as well. In FY2010, 117,828 H-1B visas were issued by US government. In FY2012, it was 135,991 [Link].

In Singapore, for example, the figures given by the government for the number of EP holders at the end of 2010 and 2011 were 142,000 and 176,000. That means, there is an increase of 34,000 foreign EP holders in Singapore in 2011 [Link]. If we were to add in S-Pass holders, the increase in number of foreign PMETs in 2011 came to 49,000. That’s already almost half of what the whole of US issued in FY2010.

Also, spouses of H-1B visa holder in US are not allowed to work at all. But in Singapore, spouses of EP holders can work through obtaining a Dependant’s Pass [Link].

Coming back to the protection of jobs and wages, it would seem that the PAP and NTUC can safely say that they are protecting FTs jobs and wages here, given the absence of quotas for employment pass holders. What do you think?

SDP’s Dr Paul Tambyah said something recently that deserves to be very widely known. At a recent forum organised by the National University of Singapore Society where representatives from nine opposition parties and the ruling PAP were present, Dr Paul Tambyah said that young local doctors complaining about the hours and working conditions in hospitals, were told that the hospitals could always employ FTs at lower salaries. If our brightest citizens (even straight As can’t get into the local medical schools)  are threatened with FT replacements, what about the Vocational Institutes’ grads?

Yet at the forum Sim Ann representing the PAP said, “We always put SGs front and centre.”

I ask again, “If our brightest and most expensively educated get threatened with being replaced by cheaper FTs, are the Normal streamers safe?”

Dare PM say this tonite? It was once possible

In Political governance on 23/08/2015 at 1:23 pm

There’s been a fair bit in the MSM and new media about well-off S’porean parents being able to buy the best education that money can buy.

“I want to transform this country – to shake it up profoundly, so that the life chances of a child born today aren’t determined by how much their parents earn but by their potential, by their work ethic and by their ambition.”*

(*New Labour leader in Scotland who BBC reports as fairly centrist. Bear in mind the Scots are considered left of centre in the UK. So she’d be regarded in England as at least as left of centre. In S’pore the space occupied by the SDP.)

Once upon a time, we had something like “life chances of a child born today aren’t determined by how much their parents earn but by their potential, by their work ethic and by their ambition”. This is what Ravi, a Chiams’ Party candidate in the next GE said

I come from a disadvantaged family and went to work after completing my GCE ‘O’ Level, at the age of 16, despite qualifying for higher education. I worked as a store-hand making just $300 so that I can help my mother. With an absent father in my life, my mother was my hero, and being the eldest child, my sense of duty compelled and pushed me into the adult world.

Even then, I knew that education was the great leveller. I pushed myself and completed the GCE ‘A’ Level and other diploma courses while working. Today I hold a Bachelor of Arts (Management) from Heriot-Watt University.

The Singapore back then, the political leaders and policies back then, provided various opportunities for me and allowed me to dream.  With hard work and perseverance, I rose from being a store-hand to be the Director of a welfare agency.

Our children and their children must not lose this ability to dream. Our leaders today are telling them that they don’t need a degree, that you can be a hawker, or a crane operator – that good qualifications no longer guarantee a good job. While saying all these, they are granting S-Passes, employment passes and permanent residency to foreigners with degrees.

With this being the situation now, what is the kind of a future that awaits our children? Will there be enough opportunities for them in their own country? Or will they be subordinate to better-qualified foreigners?

http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/08/why-i-have-come-forward/

And do remember that in 2011 one Harry said:

Students from families with at least one or both parents being university graduates are likely to have a better learning environment.

The correlation was evident in statistics released when Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew visited Dunman High School on Monday.

Mr Lee also assured non-Chinese students that promoting the learning of the Chinese Language well was not meant to harm them.

The minister mentor has been visiting schools recently to gauge for himself the quality of Singapore’s education and whether Singapore is fair to everyone.

His first conclusion was that neighbourhood schools are as well-equipped with physical resources as “brand name” schools.

Secondly, he found that teachers are competent – even though the better ones may gravitate towards “brand name” schools.

Mr Lee said: “Of course, the better teachers gravitate to the ‘brand name’ schools because the status is higher and the principals scout out the better teachers, but in the neighbourhood schools they are equally competent.”

However, he commented on one area of difference – referring in particular to the educational background of parents.

He said: “”If both or at least one parent is university educated, the chances of the home background would be more favourably supportive, with books and all the paraphernalia that makes for a learning child.

“That is the situation we face – to get the lesser educated parents to understand that at an early stage, they must try to get their children accustomed to go to the library, reading, trying to get used to acquiring knowledge by themselves, and not being spoon-fed by the teachers.”

Mr Lee also released a table which showed the proportion of students who have graduate parents in some of Singapore’s leading and neighbourhood schools.

For “brand names” schools like ACS Independent, it is nearly 72 per cent; Dunman High 42 per cent and Raffles Institution 55 per cent.

At schools like Crescent Girls, the figure is about 50 per cent; and Victoria School 45 per cent.

On the other hand, for neighbourhood schools, the percentage of one or both parents being graduates ranged from 7 to 13 per cent.

During his visit to Dunman High, Mr Lee spent much of his time interacting with the students, finding out their family background, the language they spoke at home as well as among friends in and outside schools.

“What programmes do you watch on television or radio?” Mr Lee asked a student, who replied: “I watch mainly Channel 8 programmes with my family.”

Mr Lee has spent time over the years, emphasising that students need to do well in English – even as Singapore embraced a bilingual policy.

He said: “At the same time, we want to keep as much, as high a level of our mother tongue as possible. And in the case of the Chinese, it is an advantage because if you are proficient in Chinese, later on doing business in China is easier.

“But to juggle the two languages is no easy matter. But I emphasise English because I want the non-Chinese parents to understand that their children are not losing (out) when we say improve higher standards in Chinese. We are still an English-speaking, English-working society.”

More school visits have been planned for the minister mentor.

– CNA/al

GE 2015, repeat of GE 2001?

In Political governance on 23/08/2015 at 4:45 am

Below is a piece that appeared in TRE’s letters section. I commend it for yr reading. V.V. good good analysis. Most of which I agree. Actually a better comparison would be with the GE in 1997, when the SDP dropped from 2 seats to zero. Oppo had two seats from 4. And the PAP had a 5 points increase in its share of the popular vote.

Is that you JG that commented on my pieces? If so can you give yr views on Hri Kumar’s latest views on the WP’s stonewalling on the AHPETC accounting issues see below). Basically I agree with Hri Kumar’s comments. For the sake of completness I also include Andrew Loh’s comments on Facebook

Dear TRE and TRE readers,

I have read your comments to my earlier article and not surprisingly, many of you are in denial of this possibility. Many of you think I am PAP IB or just out of touch. I am not. I have contributed comments before to TRE (TRE admin can easily check against the email address that I use) and can see that indeed all my previous comments are not pro-PAP.

In Greek mytology, Cassandra warned the people about what was happening but was ignored to the people’s detriment. I can see what is happening and it is my duty to put this red flag right in front of you so you too do not get shell shocked if it happens.

Simply put : GE 2015 will be to PM LHL what GE 2001 is to GCT. And of all people, WP’s LTK knows it and this is why he is strategising accordingly.

Election rides on waves. GE 2011 was a wave election and even the PAP candidates sensed it. The people were angry – Josephine Teo said “sometimes we don’t know why people are so angry”, WP’s LTK risked everything on the table by leaving Hougang SMC and joining the Aljunied GRC. But don’t assume that just because the last election was a wave that favored the opposition, it will be the same this year.

Sometimes the wave can turn and favor the PAP too, although TRE readers find that hard to believe. GE 2001 was a wave election that favored the PAP because the people were scared when the economy fell off the cliff after the 9/11 attacks. Result : Unexpected +10% swing to the PAP and even WP’s LTK Hougang share of votes went down by 1.7%.

GE 2001 was a crushing blow to opposition supporters. They did not see it coming. They could not believe it. They saw the crowds in the opposition rallies and thought they were going to win, this time. It was totally unexpected and a big blow. I’m writing this article so that you do not feel that same way in this GE 2015.

GE 2015 will similarly be a wave election favoring the PAP. The LKY sentiment is still strong, especially among the seniors. Couple that with the Pioneer Package and recently concluded SG50 celebrations which put many people in a good mood. I’ve elaborated on all these in my last post, so will not do this here.

But I will share this lesson from history : Indira Gandhi was assasinated on Oct 1984 and a snap election was held on Dec 1984. Riding on the wave of sympathy votes, Congress party gained 30 seats and a landslide victory. You ignore lessons from history to your peril. Many of you think LKY is no big deal but to _70% of the voting population, he’s a big big big deal.

In any case, the strongest indication that I may be right comes from no other than WP’s LTK himself. Other than CST, he is the only surviving opposition MP who has lived through wave elections that turn against him. So of all people, he’s easily the shrewdest and most battle hardened politician around.

What is PAP’s strategy when they released the electoral boundaries? Simple –

1) Just contain WP’s influence solely to Aljunied GRC and Hougaing SMC. In other words, give up on these.

2) Fortify East Coast GRC by cutting off Feng Shan SMC. I estimate that pro-forma basis, GE 2011 would have seen East Coast GRC at 60% PAP votes, not just 55%, with this change. Dissolve Joo Chiat SMC.

3) Flood all the GRCs that WP is likely to contest in with veteran, strong MPs. Look at Jalan Besar GRC — it now includes the Chinatown ward of ever popular Lily Neo carved out of Tanjong Pagar. Plus heavyweight unionist Heng Chee How. Look at Yishun GRC — it has now included the strongest ward of former AMK GRC, ie. Kebun Baru.

4) Adopt a new strategy of putting in retiring, veteran MPs into winnable areas. Thus move Charles Chong out of Joo Chiat and get him to win back Punggol East SMC. Punggol East SMC was lost in the 2013 BE not because Li Lian was a particularly strong candidate but because “Son of Punggol” made so many rookie mistakes that he was a bad candidate.

Look at how LTK responded.

LTK sensed that this election will be different from GE 2011 and much tougher because this time, the wave will turn towards the PAP.

Look at WP’s message in this GE 2015 –

“I know you are happy with the changes that the PAP has started to make. But you got all these changes, because you voted us opposition into Parliament. If you are so happy now that you don’t vote for us, you will regret it because PAP will take you for granted again”.

I repeat : ” I know you are happy “. In other words, he knows the electorate mood in GE 2015 is not the same as GE 2011.

He knows that the electoral boundary changes PAP has made will make it more difficult to gain ground. His own people are giving him this feedback too — here is what Gerald Giam posted on 6th Aug in his Facebook :

“Visited Simei again yesterday evening. Many residents told us they were glad we were coming back to contest. Had a good chat with one resident who said she was voting for the incumbent because she liked the local MP. I acknowledged that the local MP has done a good job (Jessica’s work at the local and town level is certainly something we look to emulate) but that a general election is about more than just voting for a local MP.”

He also knows that PAP had attacked AHPETC hard enough that while many people still do not fully buy PAP’s story about “integrity problems”, it is enough to cast doubts in middle-ground voters mind, especially those outside of Aljunied GRC. At the same time, he knows that by 31-Aug, the audit results for FY 2014 must be released and more likely than not, it is again a poor audit results.

This is why he has decided to keep the Aljunied GRC MPs intact. In other words, he is playing defensive, not offensive, in this GE 2015. Uncharacteristic of him, he announces this very early so that the PAP will “lose hope” and not field any changes in their weak team in Aljunied. He hopes that he will get _55% of votes this time, so that he can claim a mandate from the Aljunied residents that notwithstanding all the AHPETC audit issues, they back him strongly. This is similar to how, after the Saw affair, there was a BE in Hougang and all talks about “integrity problem” dissolved when they did better in that BE than in GE 2011 itself.

His best hope for a seat pickup is in Feng Shan SMC and he’ll probably field Gerald Giam there. When PAP cut Feng Shan off from East Coast, PAP is already prepared to potentially lose this SMC in order to save East Coast GRC. (Like I said, on a pro-forma basis, this new “East Coast” GRC would have been 60% PAP votes in GE 2011. A 10% swing against the PAP is extremely unlikely.) But to still give this their best fight, they’ll likely use their “use retiring veteran MP” strategy and probably deploy Yeo Guat Kwang there.

What’s the conclusion from all these tea leaves ?

People’s sentiments for or against a ruling party can change. Sometimes the wave goes against the PAP (like GE 2011) but sometimes it goes for the PAP (like GE 1997 and GE 2001).

If you read the wind condition wrongly, you will get crushed. Look at what happened to SDP in pro-PAP wave election GE 1997 : it lost all 4 seats.

LTK is a very shrewd politician who has lived through these waves – both for and against him. He knows that GE 2015 is not going to be a continuation of GE 2011. He knows that in politics, sometimes you live to fight another day. So he is playing defensive this election. He is smart — he can see all the writing on the wall (as I’ve detailed in my earlier “PAP will do very well in this election” post).

The only possible gains for WP is Feng Shan SMC, offseted by the very real possibility of losing Punggol East SMC.

Meanwhile, because all the other GRCs that WP is contesting in such as Yishun GRC, Jalan Besar GRC and East Coast GRC had been significantly fortified by the PAP, PAP’s share of votes will increase, not decrease.

The only other wild card is Marine Parade GRC. PAP did not expect that NSP will give up this so easily and thus did not expect a WP fight here. But they did win by 55% in GE 2011. Couple this with the expected pro-PAP wave and notwithstanding GCT being a liability, they still expect to win this GRC. Even if they win by 55%, it will be good enough. They are thinking long term too — if WP did no better than NSP in contesting Marine Parade, in future GEs, NSP will not give in so easily to WP and 3-corner fights will be more likely to happen.

If what I’ve said is true :

1) Then PAP will likely win _60% of votes this election. As I said, even if GE 2011 share of votes everywhere remain, but only Tanjong Pagar is now included with 70% PAP support due to LKY sentiment, the total pro-forma PAP votes would have been ~62%.

2) WP’s strategy is absolutely the right one. Play defensive, get a stronger mandate from Aljunied GRC to overcome the AHPETC issue, live to fight another day. By GE 2020, the middle class squeeze will get worse especially with Medishield Life coming in place forcing everyone to buy insurance that increases in price every year. And more and more foreigners crowd this place. And then WP will ride that wave to increase its seats.

3) The other parties all need to wise up. Forget about putting their big guns into GRCs. Put their best candidate into one or two SMCs. And instead of working the ground in different GRCs each weekend, just keep walking the same ground in the SMC again and again, just like Ah Lian did to win the Punggol East BE. Concentrate your time and resources there. At least, get a foothold into Parliament and make a name for yourself, then you will get a chance to get more seats and potentially a GRC in the future. Otherwise, you will forever be relegated as a non-entity, someone who makes noise on the Internet only.

JG

Submitted by TRE reader.

————————————————
Hri Kumar’s Facebook post

At the NUSS forum on Tuesday, Gerald Giam told the audience that with regard to the troubles at Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), the Workers’ Party (WP) has“explained every point that has been brought up which demands an explanation and we have spared no effort in that.”

Good grief! Is he serious?

Here are just 7 basic questions the WP has not answered:

 

  • Why hasn’t the WP carried out any independent investigation into the many areas of concern raised by the Auditor General’s Office (AGO)?
  • Why did WP hide information from its own auditors?
  • Why hasn’t the WP asked its friends in FMSS and FMSI, to whom they gave multi-million dollar contracts, to open their books for scrutiny?
  • Why hasn’t any independent auditor hired by the WP been prepared to issue clean, unqualified audit reports on the AHPETC accounts since WP took over AHPETC in2011? 
  • Why is WP refusing MND’s offer to pay the government grants to AHPETC on condition that an independent accountant safeguards the use of those funds, when WP’s own lawyers accept that the MND can impose conditions and the High Court found that MND’s conditions were reasonable?
  • If WP claims to be transparent, why, as the High Court found, did its Chairman Ms Sylvia Lim suppress facts and make a false statement to Parliament, and why did WP MP Pritam Singh say that he will not answer to Parliament?
  • Why has WP done nothing to determine whether any public funds are lost or misappropriated?

The WP says that it accepts that the AGO is professional and independent. It says that it accepts the High Court judgment. But 6 months on, we are no closer to knowing the truth. Significantly, the WP has avoided stating categorically that no public funds have been lost, and no damage suffered. How could it, given its own conduct?

The only thing the WP has done is submit qualified audited accounts for FY2013, 10 months late. It trumpets this as an achievement. But the crucial fact remains that AHPETC’s own auditors were unable to verify their accounts for the third year running. So, we still do not have answers.

Despite all of this, Mr Giam claims only the PAP is not satisfied with their answers. He does not give Singaporeans enough credit. Ultimately, the AGO’s conclusion still stands: “until the weaknesses are addressed, there can be no assurance that AHPETC’s accounts are accurate and reliable, or that public funds are properly spent, accounted for and managed”.

The WP’s posturing ignores a more fundamental point. MPs manage millions of dollars of public monies and owe a duty to the people to ensure that Town Councils comply with the law. MPs are all accountable and must act with honesty and integrity. If for any reason a Town Council goes wrong, MPs have the responsibility to be transparent and take effective action to put things right, regardless of how embarrassing it may be to the MPs personally or to their party.

That is what the National Library Board did. The AGO found flaws in the way NLB procured electronic resources and made those findings public. NLB has tightened its processes. NLB’s parent ministry, the Ministry of Communications and Information acted swiftly and decisively by referring the matter to the police. No cover-ups; no sweeping under the carpet. That is what honesty and integrity are all about.

The WP MPs know what they need to do to put things at AHPETC right. As I said in my speech in Parliament in February this year, WP must commission a thorough forensic investigation, get its friends in FMSS and FMSI to open their books, clean up the accounts and sue to recover any losses suffered.

The WP has lawyers, and it know it can be done. But the WP does not want to do it. Why not? That is one more question it has not answered.

——————————————————————————–

Andrew Loh’s response to Hri Kumar

Here are my answers to Hri Kumar’s misguided tirade:

• Why hasn’t the WP carried out any independent investigation into the many areas of concern raised by the Auditor-General’s Office?

– Huh? AGO found certain things were not complied with and AHPETC made the necessary corrections. Just like the ministries and stat boards did when the AGO similarly found lapses in their accounting.

• Why did WP hide information from its own auditors?

– What information did WP “hide”?

• Why hasn’t the WP asked its friends in FMSS (FM Solution and Services) and FMSI (FM Solutions & Integrated Services), to whom they gave multi-million dollar contracts, to open their books for scrutiny?

– The contracts were awarded in open tenders. Why didn’t the PAP also asked AIM to do the same?

• Why hasn’t any independent auditor hired by the WP been prepared to issue clean, unqualified audit reports on the AHPETC accounts since WP took over AHPETC in 2011?

– Because the AHPETC were trying to square accounts after the handover. And AHPETC had even requested the MND to help in squaring these accounts. And the AGO, even after one whole year of investigations, were also unable to square some of the accounts which were handed over.

• Why is WP refusing MND’s offer to pay the Government grants to AHPETC on condition that an independent accountant safeguards the use of those funds, when WP’s own lawyers accept that the MND can impose conditions and the High Court found that MND’s conditions were reasonable?

– AHPETC already explained – this is because the MND wanted to appoint PriceWaterHouse as the external accountant. WP said PwC would present a conflict of interest because it had been involved with helping the AGO in its audit. NOTE: WP is not against appointing an external accountant per se.

• If WP claims to be transparent, why, as the High Court found, did its chairman Ms Sylvia Lim suppress facts and make a false statement to Parliament, and why did WP MP Pritam Singh say that he will not answer to Parliament?

– What “facts” did Sylvia Lim “suppress”, and what “false statement” is Hri Kumar referring to?

• Why has WP done nothing to determine whether any public funds are lost or misappropriated?

– The Ago had done a whole one-year audit and found no funds missing.
Andrew Loh

Ringgit, Rupiah got a lot more room to fall?

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 22/08/2015 at 6:20 am

Assuming if M’sia and Indonesia decide like Russia to keep government revenues the same in local currency terms, this would suggest that the Indonesian rupiah and Malaysian ringgit are both somewhat overvalued, even after falling to 17-year lows.

They would need to let their currencies weaken (in percentage terms) against the dollar by as much as the oil price has fallen. The Saudis (and other Arabs) do things differently. Because  they have foreign reserves that will last for years they peg their currency to the dollar.

Only in Indonesia

In Indonesia on 22/08/2015 at 4:12 am

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has apologised after the old fascist-era Spanish national anthem was played for gold medallist Carolina Marin at the world championships in Indonesia.

Marin successfully defended her world title in Jakarta on Sunday against India’s Saina Nehwal.

But the version of Spain’s Royal March played at the medal ceremony was the one dating back to Gen Francisco Franco’s far-right dictatorship.

Report from BBC earlier in the week

How US hedgies playing China

In China on 21/08/2015 at 1:38 pm

From NYT Dealbook

CHINA KEEPS INVESTORS GUESSING China continues to enchant Wall Street, despite its tumultuous and uncertain nature, Alexandra Stevenson writes in DealBook. “You could be dead right in the thesis and you won’t make money,” said Troy Gayeski, a senior portfolio manager at SkyBridge Capital, an investment firm that has $9.4 billion invested in hedge funds.

Some of Wall Street’s best-known investors were singing China’s praises at the beginning of the year. As the market soared, many hedge funds rode the bull run, raking in profits and posting double-digit returns.

The markets took a sharp turn in late June, with stocks 30 percent off their highs at one point. By the end of July, the capital devoted to Asia-focused hedge funds had dropped by $10 billion as investors ran for the exits, according to the research firm HFR.

Investors got blindsided by some of the government’s measures to stop the slide, including a ban on “malicious short-selling.” Stuck in limbo, hedge fund managers said they were unsure how they fared in the chaos.

The devaluation of the currency last week raised even more concerns about the economy. Yet China remains attractive for some. And investors ultimately know they cannot ignore China, given its size and influence.

The billionaire hedge fund manager Julian H. Robertson announced last week that he was putting money into Yulan Capital Management, a firm that focuses on companies in the greater China region. CDIB Capital International Corporation, the private equity arm of China Development Financial, recently raised $405 million for a fund focused on private equity in China and other Asian markets.

Wall Street investors are also finding new ways to play the turmoil. Penso Advisors, a hedge fund adviser, scoped out currencies that were affected by the renminbi devaluation in an attempt to profit from the shock waves.

But Chinese markets remain enigmatic, even to those who have seen opportunities in it. “People want to play China, but it’s much harder to play China because you don’t know the rules and they change all the time,” said Ari Bergmann, founder of Penso Advisors, referring to capital controls there.

Ray Dalio, the founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund, the $160 billion Bridgewater Associates, recently tempered his enthusiasm for China. “Even those who haven’t lost money in stocks will be affected psychologically by events, and those effects will have a depressive effect on economic activity,” Bridgewater said in its July note to investors.

Chinese stocks continued their volatility on Wednesday, falling 3 percent in morning trading in Shanghai before finishing the day more than 1 percent higher. The session “made little sense other than to highlight that investors have almost no faith in a monthlong government effort to stabilize them,”according to Reuters.

PAP trying really hard to fix WP?/ Why NS undermines PAP

In Uncategorized on 21/08/2015 at 4:53 am

On a conservative Facebook group I belong to, some friends of Jason Chua were out trying to make the WP  look “unpatriotic” for not attending the coming National Day Rally. The thread died a natural death when regular members didn’t bother to join in the conversation.

If the regulars had joined in the grumbling, I’d have posted something along the lines of “Don’t forget that historically, opposition MPs were not invited to the NDR,” Siew Kum Hong had posted elsewhere on Facebook.

What I find surprising is the timing of this year’s rally. I think it’s a bit later than it usually is. I had tot it would be held last weekend, not this weekend. Many yrs ago, I told an overseas “wannabe” observer that the National Day speech was rubbish, he should focus on the rally speech if he wanted to see what concerned the PM. I remembered telling him that the rally was held about a week after the NDP, on the weekend.

So could it be that the WP in scheduling their function assumed that the rally would fall on the weekend of the 15th?

“Ms Lim also addressed recent reports that the Workers Party would not be attending the National Day Rally on 23 August. She said, “We planned our dinner – which is a special SG50 National Day dinner – last year, in fact. The date was already chosen, and we think that it’s meaningful for us, especially as an opposition party, to rally our supporters to remind everyone that what we want is betterment for Singapore as a whole.

And that the PAP administration then fixed the rally date to fix the WP? Given the perceived track record in trying to fix the WP. sounds plausible meh?

Here are some other views on the NDR:

— Anyway ndr is use taxpayers money to score points for themselves. Propaganda anyway

— Spot on ))). Maybe PAP trying to fix WP by fixing date after WP fixed their date for bash. Usually BAt Day Rally held week after NDP.

Anyway Auntie is right, “I think sometimes people get confused – they can’t distinguish between national interest and ruling party interest. And we want to underscore the point that even if you’re an opposition supporter, you can be as loyal to Singapore as any PAP supporter.”

For starters, all the Oppo boys (even Garbra Gomez) did NS. Many like JJ, Eric Tan, Tony Tan (Haze; Poa’s hubbie) TJS, Dr Paul and Dr Ang (OK the last two are  MDs) were officers. If they were good enough to be SAF officers*, how dare people like Jason Chua and other members of the PAP IB call the Oppo unpatriotic?

—-

*But SAF has a lot of explaining how Goh Meng Seng became an officer.

White gold turns sour

In Uncategorized on 20/08/2015 at 12:35 pm

Humbug higher fares= better service/ New tpt minister will be the ONE

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 20/08/2015 at 4:36 am

In the constructive, nation-building media and the new media, there seems to be some astro-turfing that higher ticket prices are needed for better, more reliable public tpt.

BS: Go ask the Brits. U/m appeared in the BBC recently

There’s more happy-ish news in the Telegraph, which reports that ministers are to announce the smallest increase in fares for six years. However, the Guardian quotes campaigners pointing out that fares have risen at triple the rate of wages over the past five years.

The FT takes the same grim line, pointing out that season tickets and other regulated fares have risen by 25% in real terms since 2010 while average pay rose 8.7%.

The Daily Express grumbles: “In return travellers continue to battle with trains that are frequently delayed and hugely overcrowded. All the while rail bosses pick up huge pay packets and some petulant unions misuse their ability to cause chaos.”

Next tpt minister will be Ah Loon’s successor

The conventional wisdom in the MSM and new media is that the transport portfolio is the “poisoned cup” portfolio. Two ministers in a row have been disgraced and publicly shamed. No-one wants to do the job.

But what if in the last few yrs, the really hard work of cleaning the Augean stables* that is the public transport system has been almost done? And that very soon the trains will stop breaking down? Get more punctual? And less crowded?And the bus system gets better during peak hours (as a bus user and trains in off peak hours, I’ve not got any complaints about the buses)?

If so, time (and a few more beautifying cosmetic changes) will enable the PAP administration to declare victory (trains not breaking down, and running on time, and buses less packed at peak times) and to declare that XYZ the transport minister is the guy that should succeed Ah Loong.

But this presupposes that Ah Loong and the PAP don’t argue that “60 is the new 40” and that Ah Loong like Johnnie Walker  keeps on walking.

——–

*Augean stables – definition of Augean stables by The Free …

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Augean+stables

the stables of Augeas, a legendary king of Elis, which had been left filthy for many years: they were cleaned by Hercules, who diverted a river through them. ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend: Noun.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/augean%20stable

a condition or place marked by great accumulation of filth or corruption. ADVERTISEMENT. Examples of AUGEAN STABLE. <as a gubernatorial candidate he …

Not HoHoHo’s kind of banks

In Banks on 19/08/2015 at 1:42 pm

BRAZIL BANKS BOOM IN GOOD TIMES AND BAD Although Brazil’s economy has been bumped by the ups and downs of global commodity prices and the manufacturing sector has stagnated, the nation’sbanking industry has been making impressive gains, Dan Horch writes in DealBook. The combined annual profits of Brazil’s four biggest banks have grown more than 850 percent to just more than $20 billion, from $2.1 billion, in the 12 years of Workers’ Party rule.

Brazil’s largest and third-largest banks, Banco do Brasil and Caixa Econômica Federal, do not even have profit as their sole mandate. The government controls both and obliges them to engage in less profitable operations as a public service.

The two giant private sector banks, Itaú and Bradesco, consistently earnreturns on equity – a measure of how much a company can earn out of each dollar invested – of about 20 percent. Big banks in the United States usually manage only about half as much.

The banks face little competition. A banking crisis in the 1990s threatened scores of financial institutions with insolvency and the authorities have encouraged a string of mergers and acquisitions. The four biggest banks have more than 70 percent of the banking system’s total assets. Bradesco’s deal to acquire HSBC’s operations in Brazil for $5.2 billion will bringalmost 75 percent of total assets under the control of the top four banks – near the maximum that the central bank established in 2012.

They have been helped by government policies and economic trends. Interest rates are high: In the free credit market, which excludes government subsidized loans for housing and infrastructure, Brazilian consumers pay on average 58.6 percent interest, and businesses pay 27.5 percent to borrow money.

A history of high inflation, sharp currency fluctuations and large government budget deficits makes it expensive for the government to borrow money. The central bank’s basic rate, which it pays on the local equivalent of Treasury bills, is 14.25 percent.

The average spread – the difference between what banks pay to gain access to capital and what they charge to lend it out – is 30.7 percent in the free credit market.

Not all of that is profit. Taxes and regulatory cost are high and about to get higher – the government just announced a plan to further increase taxes on bank profits. Default is also a serious risk. Nearly 56 million Brazilians, more than a quarter of the country’s population, have missed enough debt payments to be on the blacklist of Serasa Experian, a credit reporting bureau. The spreads are easily wide enough to compensate for that.

When times are bad, the banks can also get support from the government. The Treasury sells bonds that protect investors against inflation, as certain United States Treasury bonds do. It also offers bonds that increase their payouts when interest rates rise or the currency devalues.

When banks sense a deterioration in the economy, they can scale back on loans and move toward these government-backed investments. As a result, the recent inflation of nearly 9 percent, the plunging currency and the rise in interest rates have all helped bolster bottom lines at banks. As Luiz Fernando de Paula, an economics professor at Rio de Janeiro State University, says, “The government pays the price instead.”

NYT Dealbook

Why Pay And Pay Party has a point about scroungers

In Uncategorized on 19/08/2015 at 5:18 am

The PAP likes to point out that there’s no such thing as a free lunch conveniently forgetting the salaries that people like Mah Bow Tan, Raymond Lim  drew when they were underperforming ministers, and the millions that one Nathan was paid. And the salaries that underperforming ministers like Lui, Hng Kiang and Yaacob are drawing. And the allowances MPs get.

Sadly, the plight of TRE shows that when honest, decent, hardworking S’poreans serve the public, they can be taken for a ride by scroungers.

When TR Emeritus (TRE) was revived in 2011, we estimated that it would cost us approximately US$50,000 to maintain the TRE website and keep it running till year 2016. The approximate amount is inclusive of all incidentals, ad hoc programming, software and hardware upgrading.

Based on the estimate, we launched a few donation drives since then hoping to achieve the target amount, but unfortunately we were unsuccessful. To date, we have only managed to secure about 52% of the targeted amount.

Since TRE is fully maintained by volunteers, we have had to depend on advertisements and goodwill donations to keep it running and many a time, we have had to fork out from our own pockets to keep the website running.

Without revealing too much information and compromising security, our servers handle close to 2 million requests (24 hours average) on a quiet day and with the general election (GE) around the corner, it is more crucial now than ever that TRE has enough funds for unforeseen circumstances like additional server deployment, additional bandwidth and especially pro-active DDoS mitigation services considering that many socio-political websites like the former Temasek Review Emeritus and The Online Citizen, were attacked close to and during GE 2011.

Hopefully with your support, the website will run more smoothly and efficiently to carry the voice of Singaporeans for Singapore.

Please consider making a token donation if you believe in our cause.

Thank you for your continued support.

Team@TR Emeritus

Since this was posted on 13 August, 2015, only about US$4,000 has been raised. And TRE has a viewership of millions.

Maybe the TRE freeloaders actually worker ants masquerading as S’porean PMETs.

Many worker ants are lazy freeloaders.

Find out more (Quartz)

Which reminds me: Warren Buffett has teamed up with some Brazilians who are good at cutting costs. One of them says, “In any company, there’s 20 per cent that lead, 70 per cent that follow and 10 per cent that do nothing,” Mr Brito recalls. “So the 10 per cent, of course, you need to get rid of . . . They’re always unhappy anyway and complaining.”

I’m thinking worker ants and TRE scroungers.

And I’m thinking the ungrateful Oppo parties. Happy about the publicity that TRE gives them and the attacks on the PAP administration, but sitting on their hands.

 

 

 

HoHoHo StanChart goes on a wild sled ride

In Banks, China, Currencies, Temasek on 18/08/2015 at 1:31 pm

FT reports that according to Nomura, half of StanChart’s Asian revenue in the first half of 2015 and less than 10 per cent of HSBC’s came from China proper.

Both “could be in for a rough ride if the swing in China’s currency is the start of a prolonged devaluation

The most obvious effect of a weaker currency is valuation losses on banks’ loans and trading assets in China, which many have used as a bridgehead in the world’s second-largest economy. A lower currency could also spell trouble for customers in China who have borrowed US dollars or euros but are earning renminbi — the “classic FX mismatch,” in the words of Keith Pogson, senior partner of EY’s Asia-Pacific financial services team.”

Western banks also face risks from domestic Chinese counterparts which have borrowed dollars to lend to their own clients. “Asian banks are extremely used to borrowing cheap dollars through interbank markets and then relending it,” said one London-based banker. “In the next couple of years there could be bigger problems if China’s going to carry on devaluing.”

Auntie, good accounting is a national issue/ TOC bans avatar again

In Accounting, Financial competency, Political governance on 18/08/2015 at 4:43 am

People are interested in national issues, not just town council matters, Sylvia Lim says (TOC). Well the need for a town council to have an accounting system that is fit for purpose is also a national issue. OK I exaggerate. It’s an issue at least in areas where the WP is contesting, is a fairer statement.

Auntie Lim*, Gilbert Goh**, TOC (As SPH and MediaCorp are to the PAP, so TOC** is to the WP) and TRE are trying to equate the lapses at PA and other government entities and departments identified by the Auditor-General with that of the the lapses at AHPETC identified by the Auditor-General.

The big difference is that the while the Auditor-General  says nasty things about the way the govt bodies like the PA does things, he doesn’t say that they don’t have an accounting system that is not fit for purpose. He is able to pick out lapses in the PA and other govt bodies because they have proper accounting systems. The accounting systems allow the lapses to be noticed.

But he says that the AHPETC accounting system sucks so badly that no proper records are kept.

The Auditor-General pointed out, inter alia, that AHPTEC did not “a system to monitor arrears of conservancy and service charges accurately and hence there is no assurance that arrears are properly managed”.and “No proper system to ensure … proper accounts and records were kept as required by the Town Councils Act.” (Related post https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/conflicts-of-interest-what-conflicts/

Because proper records are not kept, no-one knows if there are irregularities.  There may be none but there may be some or many: who knows? And what if there are major irregularities?

The way things are going, only a PAP win in Aljunied will ensure that the truth comes out on whether anything is wrong. WP is dragging its feet on setting the system right. It is moving to the Bishan/ Toa Payoh model of directly managing the cleaning etc, which will allow it to say it has “moved on” without resolving the issue of irregular accounts.

Someone posted this analysis on Facebook

Having read the full report, the responses by APHTEC and AGO and PWC’s responses I would say the following.

1. That management and supervision for the first two years were sorely lacking , to the extent that corporate governance is needed , FMSS and FMSI was allowed both management powers, payment powers without supervision.

2. Whether current WP members accept it or not. There is a difference between Management Companies appointing their own people to the TC as GM’s when the management companies are owned by the GOV or GLCs and hence there is no direct pecuniary interests and when in the case of FMSS everything is owned and attributed to Miss How and her Husband and there is a direct pecuniary interests.

3. I could accept the need to appoint FMSS. I cannot accept the need to appoint FMIS whereby the shareholders were both the deputy GMS for lift EMS services. To the extent that there are only a few TC management companies and they refused to help , can the same be said of lift management companies ?

4. To an extent the problem can be laid at the head of the Sec Gen and Low. The people under his leadership trusted low and low I believe trusted miss how.

5. The trust was built over her management of the TC in Hougang for many years and it just seems that when faced with the problem of integrating seven town councils which in itself will be the largest town council in SINGAPORE, she lacked both the management and accounting expertise necessary to integrate all the bits and pieces.

6. FMSS at the end of the day seems to have bitten of more than they could handle, likewise FMSS was not adequately supervised by all the MPs and the leadership within the party for whatever reason.

He could have added, but didn’t, that the WP TC Chair and Vice are lawyers, albeit one was from SMU law school. And there is another MP that is a lawyer, a former partner is a top US law firm. Btw, one, M Ravi called these lawyers three,”cow dung” in another context.

One wonders why they didn’t draw up better conflict of interest mgt rules for the TC’s consideration. And if they did, why were these not implemented? Because Low trusted the Ms How?

Let’s be very clear, the PAP administration didn’t bully or fix the WP on this issue of bad record keeping. This was self-inflicted.The managing agent bears a lot of responsibility for the state of affairs. It didn’t keep proper records of who it was paying, and for what purpose. The AHPETC failed in its duty to monitor what the managing agent was doing.

The inability of the AHPETC to keep proper records is now personal.

I now live in Marine Parade GRC (Joo Chiat kanna rezoned). I’ve voted for the WP since I was able to vote (bicyle thieves, an ex-Woodbridge patient) because I believe that a one-party state is bad for S’pore; but do I want to live in a GRC managed by the WP, a party that couldn’t keep proper records, and is in denial over this fact? And which throws smoke on the issue. It can’t bluff me because I was a Hon Treasurer of a club https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/ahpetc-sadly-pap-ib-gets-it-right/.

And I’m not alone: the neighbours (they are accountants, lawyers etc), and the really real Marine Parade residents I talk to, are wondering if the bad record keeping will continue. We know WP can keep the area clean and tidy, but can it keep proper financial records? https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/pap-wp-dont-do-accouting/

 

—–

*Ms Sylvia Lim says the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), has been singled out for “exemplary treatment” by the government.
She also called on the govt to “act with similar vigour, by withholding grants and commencing legal proceedings”, against gov’t depts and stat boards which have been found with financial irregularities in the Auditor-General’s Report.
Ms Lim made the call in her court affidavit on the hearing on the MND’s application on Monday.

(TOC)

**A statement seeking support from the public has been posted online as a petition calling for the government to investigate fully the recent slew of financial and accounting irregularities unearthed in the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) Report.

“We… hope our government will investigate thoroughly the AGO audit lapses and come up with a official statement to address the concerns of the people,” the statement, posted on change.org, said.

“The lapses are both glaring and shocking as Singaporeans have all along place their trust in a government that has enjoyed above-board corruption-free governance for a very long time,” the statement by Gilbert Goh said.

(TOC again)

***TOC has again banned my Facebook avatar from commenting on TOC’s Facebook posts. It’s TOC’s right. But so like the PAP. But then WP is nothing more than PAP Lite and TOC is its poodle. And let’s see if a TOC founder stands as a WP candidate this GE.

A NEW GLOBAL CURRENCY WAR?/ “Good” news for some

In China, Currencies, Property on 17/08/2015 at 1:10 pm

But the good news for those of us who own Reits and good paying yield stocks is that the Fed may not raises rates in September. Good for those mortgaged to their eyeballs too. But TRE ranters will be upset that the coming collapse S’pore property prices will be again delayed once more. They want their fellow S’poreans to die for supporting the PAP. Ah well hope springs eternal.

China held firm on the value of its money for years, as other countries tried to secure an economic advantage by letting the value of their currencies slide on international markets. Some analysts see its jump into the fray as a new phase in a long-raging global currency war, Peter Eavis writes in DealBook. The plunge paused on Friday, but the renminbi was still down 4.4 percent against the dollar this week, a huge drop for China and the steepest drop since the country’s modern exchange system was set up, Neil Gough reports in The New York Times. The move could leave the United States exposed and undermine efforts to pull the world economy out of the doldrums.

The yen, the euro and several other major currencies have fallen in recent years against the dollar as the Federal Reserve has cut back its stimulus, but the countries that don’t join the devaluations can end up suffering if they export less and import more. A steep drop in the value of the renminbi could also intensify some of the forces that have caused the American economy to underperform.

Analysts also fear the currency tensions could worsen entrenched problems in the global economy, like its reliance on the dollar as a so-called reserve currency. This dependence means that the Fed’s actions can change economic conditions in other countries, and not always for the better.

The Fed now faces a problem. It is considering raising interest ratesfor the first time in more than nine years. A rate increase could drive the dollar up even more aainst other currencies, creating an obstacle to the American economy. It could also make life even harder for countries in the developing world, which could experience capital outflows. Companies in emerging markets that borrowed in dollars would have to spend more of their local currency to pay back their debts.

China, too, would struggle if there was an uncontrolled plunge in the renminbi. Chinese entities have borrowed more than $1.6 trillion in foreign currencies. “A sharp devaluation is not in China’s interest,” said Li-Gang Liu, a China economist at ANZ Research. “That could make corporates very panicky.”

Prolonged turbulence and economic pain may then force world leaders to think hard about whether the international system can be changed, Mr. Eavis writes. The easy money pumped out by the Fed over the last decade helped stoke booms in other countries that became unsustainable. As the Fed has pulled back, the adjustment has been jarring for huge economies, like Brazil and China.

“The system is coming back to bite us in the rear,” said David Beckworth, an associate economics professor at Western Kentucky University. “Maybe this experience teaches us that we are more interconnected than we ever were.”

NYT Dealbook

S/o JBJ accuses TRE of being “very PAP”

In Uncategorized on 17/08/2015 at 4:26 am

At the end of this piece is something TRE put up to advertise a SingFirst talk on the reserves (held0last Saturday). I commend it for yr reading mainly because it introduces Chris Kuan, someone whose work on helping us understand the reserves and CPF Life I’ve praised.

S/o JBJ (one of the speakers) responded to TRE

Kenneth Jeyaretnam:
August 14, 2015 at 10:27 am (Quote)
“Kenneth Jeyaretnam, understandably, is busy preparing for the upcoming general election.”

This is Kenneth Jeyaretnam here and no-one from TRE has made any attempt to contact me. Could the author of this provide any evidence of any attempt to contact me to contribute to the article?

Wouldn’t it have been more balanced to put in a section for one of the very many, many blog articles I have written for http://www.sonofadud.com and given TRE permission to re-publish?

All I can say is how very PAP of you to make sure I am sidelined.

TRE responded

TRE Editor: Dear KJ,

We emailed you on 5 August under the subject “Forum to talk on reserves”. We did not receive a reply from you and thought that you must be quite busy with the GE.

As the forum will be held tomorrow (15 Aug), we had to publish the article latest today (14 Aug).

If you can email us a short write-up on what motivates you to speak about the reserves, we will be most happy to update the article.

Thank you.

To date he hasn’t responded to TRE.

I posted:

Get a life Kenneth J.

TRE is doing more for the Oppo cause than you ever can. Remember who tried to fix the Oppo (and lost his deposit). One s/o JBJ.

I’m not the the only person who am disgusted with his sense of entitlement.

KJ is no JBJ:

@ Kenneth Jeyaretnam

Your huff and puff response to the TRE team is yet another reason why you are unelectable. You do not have your father’s common touch and ironically just like LH*, you seems to have your own sense of entitlement.

You need to remind yourself that TRE has done wonders to counter the MSM and it is being run by volunteers who obviously do not have your wealth. If you cannot even have a proper sense of proportion, then how can you even connect with the voters?

You expect to walk into Parliament becos of your economic expertise and your pedigree? Come on, man, you need to win and you are not going to win if this is how you treat people on your own side.

AMK Voter:

Sigh……. reading KJ’s attacking TRE confirm that Singfirst is the much better party to contest in our GRC. How can we vote for such a person, party leader some more – attacking TRE who has done so much to expose the government and give us alternative opinions. Maybe even his own mistake not checking his email. Alamak ! How lah ! Don’t want to vote PAP, can’t vote for this type of opposition.

Did you know At the last general election Mr Jeyaretnam would go around with a party member/volunteer and they would go up to people, with the member/volunteer introducing Mr Jeyaretnam to residents with this line: “Hello, this is Kenneth Jeyaretnam, J.B. Jeyaretnam’s son.”

The writer could have added that he would avoid looking into the eyes of residents as they acknowledged him. Too atas isit, s/o JBJ?

Update at 9.30am: S/o JBJ didn’t give a talk. He send Boy Robin (Or is it Kato?) Roy Ngerng. Btw, TeamTRE should reflect on the fact that the cybernuts didn’t defend it against s/o JBJ’s accusation.

————————

SG’s reserves increasingly a hot political issue

SingFirst has invited 3 speakers to speak on Singapore’s national reserves at its 3rd Public Forum tomorrow (15 Aug).

The 3 prominent Singaporeans will speak on their concerns regarding our national reserves. They are:

  • Chris Kuan, retired international banker: How much reserves does Singapore have? What is the relationship between reserves, budget surpluses and CPF savings? What returns have they earned? How much of these returns comes from investing our CPF savings?
  • Leong Sze Hian, financial analyst and statistician: What is the difference between the returns on CPF savings that GIC has earned from investing them and the returns that CPF members are given by the government? What is the practice of pension funds outside Singapore e.g. Malaysia’s EPF? Have Singaporeans been shortchanged?
  • Kenneth Jeyaretnam, economist and Secretary-General of the Reform Party: Are Singaporeans over-taxed and under-provided for? Don’t we deserve more?

All 3 regularly blog and talk about financial matters online. They have contributed many articles to TRE in the past, and continue to do so.

TRE was able to catch up with Chris Kuan and Leong Sze Hian to find out why they are so passionate about our reserves. Kenneth Jeyaretnam, understandably, is busy preparing for the upcoming general election.

TRE interviewed Chris recently:

TRE: Chris, what brings you to write extensively about the reserves?

Chris: Funny that you should ask this. I met your Chief Editor, Richard Wan, over lunch more than a year and a half ago. He asked if I could look into what he called a very hot issue.

TRE: You seem eminently qualified to do this, can you tell us about your experience and training?

Chris: Well, I regret to disappoint you but I never attended university nor had a diploma or professional qualifications. I did work 34 years in the financial markets – the majority in London and Tokyo where I gathered very extensive experience perhaps not available in SG and had good bosses. In the last 10 years I headed capital markets and treasury for the Asia-Pacific region.

TRE: You seem very persistent in analysing Singapore’s reserves, what motivates you?

Chris: A lot of things really. At first I took it as a challenge and to help the man in the street to understand a bit more about the reserves. As my research took me further into the subject, not least being urged by helpful TRE readers who asked me to look into this or comment about that, I began to realise the enormous socio-economic costs to the ordinary citizens in the government’s relentless accumulation of reserves. I strongly believe that the citizens have a right to know because those reserves impose huge burdens on them.

TRE: Do you need to be an expert to analyse the reserves?

Chris: Not really. I am not really one myself. Some background in reading balance sheets and analysing simple portfolio metrics will be very helpful. Also need to keep a level head and not overreach or jump to a pre-conceived answer. I learned to avoid that the hard way when I was young and foolish, haha.

TRE: It cannot be easy?

Chris: No, no, not easy at all. Digging out the information and trying to make sense of it is the tough bit. I went up a few blind alleys, mostly because the government, i.e. the MOF (Ministry of Finance), the ministers and the SWFs (sovereign wealth funds i.e. GIC and Temasek Holdings) were very inconsistent about what they say about the reserves. Prime example is at first GIC did not manage CPF and then GIC did.

TRE: Why is that so?

Chris: I always believe that when there is non-transparency and non-accountability, government tends to become indolent or lazy about the way they disclose information.

TRE: What do you hope to gain out of this?

Chris: Finance and economics I always believe are the most important factors in politics. We say let’s do more for the poor, let’s un-squeeze the “squeezed middle” – these are socially just, commendable goals but ultimately the finance and the economics need to align to deliver these goals. And I like to say that finance and economics have a wide range of nuances, interpretations and outcomes: some good, some bad and nearly always the good cannot be had without the bad or what I often call trade-offs.

TRE: So there must be alternative views?

Chris: Yes we must. It is too important not to. A bunch of scholars trained in the PAP’s right-wing thinking and another bunch brought up in centrist or left-of-centre social market will come up with different solutions to the same socioeconomic problems. Unfortunately, in Singapore, the public is informed only of one narrative without any alternatives. Social media is very important.

TRE: How are you connected to SingFirst?

Chris: Well, Tan Jee Say and I exchanged a few emails on the subject. He invited me to the forum. I was reluctant to attend at first because the timing was inconvenient. But then Richard Wan convinced me of the need to do National Service again, haha.

TRE: Are you standing for election?

Chris: Heavens no. Don’t think I am MP material. No, personal commitments keep me [away] from Singapore. I do my part by helping the ordinary people understand the politics of finance and economics.

When TRE asked Leong Sze Hian why he is so passionate about our reserves, he emailed the following to us:

I have written more than a hundred articles relating to the reserves in the last 15 years or so. The fundamental question is why do we need to keep accumulating more reserves?

In this connection, the budget surplus for FY2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 was $2.32, 3.86, 3.92 and -0.13 billion, respectively. In other words, the cumulative budget surplus from FY2011 to 2014 was $9.97 billion.

The budget estimate for FY2015 is a deficit of $6.67 billion, but this is after a $6 billion top-ups to endowment and trust funds, which under IMF fiscal reporting guidelines may not be allowed as an expenditure item.

But the estimated cash budget surplus under IMF fiscal reporting guidelines is more than $24 billion for FY2014, and also more than $20 billion every year in the last five years or so.

So, as you can see, the government reports one thing to the citizens in Parliament but reports another to IMF (under IMF fiscal reporting guidelines).

We need more transparency from the government with regard to our reserves. That is the motivation why I keep pressing on the issue of our reserves, which belongs to Singaporeans and not the government.

At the end of the day, one has to ask – how have the huge reserves benefited the man in the street?

Anyone who wants to know more about Singapore’s reserves can listen to the 3 experts speak at Hotel Royal (36 Newton Road), 2pm tomorrow (15 Aug) – see: 3 speakers at SingFirst forum: SG’s national reserves.

No doubt, Singapore’s reserves are increasingly a hot-button issue as Singaporeans become more politically aware.

PAP, WP don’t do accounting

In Accounting on 16/08/2015 at 12:09 pm

As Chairman and deputy chairman of the PA, ah Loong and Zorro should do what Khaw implicitly asked the WP leaders to do and what Lui may or not have done (I’ll blog one of these days on why the Ah Loong administrations sucks in comparison with that of his dad’s: never a clear message). I don’t know if Lui is willingly (or unwillingly) taking the rap for the failures of the MRT system, or he juz going MIA or AWOL to look at his monthly CPF statement and feel happy).

In the Budget earlier this year, the PA’s expenditure was increased 51.3% to over $1 billion.

Minister Lim Swee Say, Minister (Prime Minister’s Office) and Deputy Chairman of PA, said that the budget allocated to the PA “reflects a higher level of commitment by the Government towards promoting social cohesion and racial harmony.”*

Yet the management of the PA didn’t ensure that the systems were in place to ensure that the records on how this money (and earlier funds) were kept in accordance with the PA’s own internal rules.

The Auditor-General (AGO) is not happy. The People’s Association was flagged for various lapses in the Auditor-General’s Report, released on Wednesday (Jul 15), including lapses in management of tenancy contracts in Community Club/Centre Management Committees (CCMCs) and procurement lapses.**

The AGO had conducted audits on only 115 GROs out of the 1,800 over GROs, which as TOC points out “is only 6.39 percent of the total GROs which PA is in charge of”.

As TOC points out, with the recent findings by AGO on the GROs, one would have to be concerned or extremely concerned that public money may be misused or misappropriated due to the lack of understanding of proper accounting practices set by PA’s financial rules.

To recap:

There are 1,800 grassroots organisations under the People’s Association’s umbrella.
That’s a mere 6.4% of all the GROs.The Auditor General audited only 115 of them.

And already, the AGO found almost 40% of them with financial irregularities.

So while PA has said that it would conduct internal investigations and audits of its GROs, a more prudent method to ensure public monies would be lawfully used, is to get AGO along with a 3rd party auditor to audit the whole group of GROs under the PA.

In the meantime, the Minister of Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong, who oversees the PA, should be accountable and freeze the funds that are meant to be given to PA until the auditors can be sure that proper accounting process can be put in place for the GROs – and that public funds are duly protected from misuse.

Terry Xu

Now given that Khaw had recommended that the AHPETC commit hari kiri, and given that the PM is the chairman of the PA and Zorro Lim is the minister-in-charge of PA, why is Khaw silent on them performing hari kiri? At the very least, he should recommend that they do deep bows and apologies at the National Day rally next week.

But then the PAP believes that “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/why-khaw-vikram-must-commit-hari-kiri/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/learn-from-japanese-set-example-leh-elites/

But to be fair to the PM, Zorro and the PA and the PAP, rather than challenging the AGO and throwing smoke as the WP would (think AHPETC: there is lousy record keeping, so lousy that no-one knows if money has been stolen or not, and Pritam and his Auntie mentor have to do a manual check to report the correct arreas situation), a review by a newly formed Grassroots Finance Review Committee, to prevent a recurrence of procurement lapses flagged in a report by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) will take three months, the People’s Association said.

“The common lapses found in most of the grassroots organisations test-checked indicate that they may not be familiar with PA’s financial rules,” the AGO said in its report on Wednesday (Jul 15).

A statement released by the PA on Thursday said the committee will be chaired by a member of the PA’s board of management, Timothy de Souza. “Mr de Souza is a trustee of the Eurasian Association of Singapore and an experienced grassroots leader”, the PA said. He is also the auditor of a Neighbourhood Committee.

The other members of the committee are chief financial officer and member of the Auditing and Assurance Standards Committee of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants John Teo Woon Keng and Mr Chiang Heng Liang, director of wealth management at an international bank and chairman of Kolam Ayer Citizens’ Consultative Committee.

The committee will be supported by PA senior officers, and they will be able to tap on expertise from the Ministry of Finance for advice.

The committee will review and recommend refinements to financial and procurement rules and procedures, especially with regard to AGO observations, the PA said. It will also propose measures to enhance compliance of financial rules and recommend measures to strengthen monitoring by staff. And, it will enhance training for staff and grassroots leaders.***

I’m still wondering what the WP are going to fix its accounting systems? Can some cybernut enlighten me? I got rezoned into Marine Parade and me and the neighbours (they are accountants, lawyers etc), and the really real Marine Parade residents I talk to, are wondering if the bad record keeping will continue. We know WP can keep the area clean and tidy, but can it keep proper financial records?

And we want to know if the WP can assure us that the excellent bus links to the other parts of S’pore will continue. Rightly or wrongly, we attribute these links to one Goh Chok Tok who was once the MP of the real Marine Parade.

Finally, the WP kept saying that a vote for the WP is a vote to keep the PAP honest. Who is keeping the WP honest? I mean someone has to take the rap for an accounting system that isn’t fit for purpose?

Will PritamS or his mentor step up for a deep bow? Or both?

But Ah Loong should set a good example, and take a deep bow next weekend. pigs will fly first.

———————————-

*He said  that out of the $339.6 million or 51.3% increase in the estimated Financial Year (FY) 2015 expenditure of the PA, $239.3 million (70.5%) is meant for the development of facilities for residents’ use.

These include the building of the Tampines Town Hub, construction of nine new CCs and two Water-Venture outlets; as well as to upgrade 28 existing CCs under PA’s 15-year upgrading cycle.

The increase of $100.3 million or 29.5% in operating expenditure will go into implementing the Pioneer Generation Ambassador programme where staff and volunteers reach out to seniors where they live, as well as supporting the work of the grassroots organisations (GROs) and Community Development Councils (CDCs) in assisting the needy and in building and bonding our multi-racial and multi-cultural communities.

(CNA)

**LAPSES IN MANAGEMENT OF TENANCY CONTRACTS

Of the 91 CCMCs test-checked by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO), 35 did not obtain approvals from the relevant approving authorities for awarding 53 tenancy contracts, totalling S$17.78 million. Approvals were either obtained from committees which were not authorised to do so, or whose approval limits were below that of the contract values, the AGO said.

In addition, 10 of the 35 CCMCs did not obtain the relevant approvals for the direct award of 13 tenancy contracts without competition, worth a total of S$3.67 million.

“The number of lapses detected points to a weakness in the People’s Association’s monitoring of CCMCs’ compliance with its financial rules with regard to tenancy contracts,” said the AGO. PA has informed the AGO that is has since obtained covering approvals for the tenancy contracts.

LAPSES IN PROCUREMENT

Test-checks of nine grassroots organisations (GROs) – comprising four CCMCs, three Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs) and two Residents’ Committees (RCs) – revealed non-compliance with PA’s financial rules, including the award of nine contracts totalling S$152,600 prior to obtaining approvals; the award of 15 contracts worth S$565,300 from the wrong approving authorities; not seeking approval for 10 direct purchases from suppliers worth a total of S$53,700; and not inviting quotations in writing for 13 purchases totalling S$187,900.

“The common lapses found in most of the grassroots organisations test-checked indicate that they may not be familiar with PA’s financial rules,” the AGO said. “They also reflect a lack of oversight by PA.”

The PA has since informed the AGO that it will review its procurement rules for GROs, to strike the right balance between competitive procurement and “expeditious decision-making” on the ground.

LAPSES IN ENGAGING TRAINING OPERATORS

According to the report, the AGO found common lapses in engagement of training operators and the collection of course fees across most of the seven grassroots organisations checked.

For example, four GROs engaged operators directly without calling competitive bids under eight contracts, totalling S$311,800. “Hence, there was no assurance that the GROs were able to obtain the most advantageous bids for the courses,” the AGO said.

One RC awarded a contract for tuition services with an estimated revenue of S$1.11 million to the incumbent operator through a quotation exercise, when a tender was required. There was no evidence other operators were invited to quote, the AGO said.

Four RCs test-checked could not produce evidence that they had carried out audit checks on course fees – totalling S$1.26 million – collected by operators on the RCs’ behalf, according to the report. The PA said that the RCs had conducted random checks on the collection of the fees, but these went undocumented. The course fees have been fully collected from the operator, PA added.

One RC did not take any action when an operator repeatedly delayed handing over course fees collected on behalf of the PA, totalling S$414,700, every month from April 2013 to July 2014. This exposed the RC to the risk of the operator defaulting on the payment of course fees, the AGO said.

LAPSES IN MANAGEMENT OF RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

The AGO’s checks found that the chairman of a CCC was involved in approving the award of two contracts worth a total of S$32,000 and corresponding payments to a company of which he was a member of the senior management. For one of the awards, another CCC member involved in the approval process was both a director and shareholder of the company, the AGO said.

The CCC chairman also approved payment for a purchase worth S$1,500 from another company where he was both a director and shareholder.

In these cases, the two CCC members involved did not declare their interests in the transactions, the AGO said. “As a result, there was no assurance that the transactions were conducted at arms’ length.”

PA acknowledged that the chairman should not have approved the payments, but checked and found that there was no irregularity in the payments as the amounts tallied with the quotations and the work tendered.

Test-checks revealed seven instances where the CCC chairman was involved in approving his own claims, totalling S$114,767 – a “clear conflict of roles”, the AGO said. In three of these payments, no supporting documents were available.

The PA’s response was that the chairman had inadvertently approved his own claims, and said that the vice-chairman and treasurer will endorse future payment vouchers instead.
MP for Sembawang GRC Khaw Boon Wan said the grassroots leader in question was from Admiralty CCC and that he has stepped down to facilitate a full investigation.

“I am glad that the Investigation Panel found no evidence of dishonesty. Nonetheless, it was a related party transaction that was not declared,” Mr Khaw said in a statement. “The CCC will study the investigation report, and review its procedures to ensure that such lapses do not recur.”

Fellow MP for Sembawang GRC, Vikram Nair said he was saddened to learn of the findings by the AGO and that the grassroots leader concerned has “served with distinction for many years”. The man is giving full cooperation in the investigation, Mr Nair said.

ISSUES WITH FUND UTILISATION REPORTS

The PA obtained excess funding from the Citizens’ Consultative Committee ComCare Fund (CCF) from the MSF, amounting to S$84,394 over two years, due to errors and omissions in the updating of disbursements at seven CCCs checked.

The errors include duplicate entries of CCF disbursements, incorrect amounts recorded and inclusion of financial assistance that was not to be funded by the CCF. Disbursements were entered into the system by an officer without any independent checks, the AGO found.

These errors led to inaccurate CCF usage reports submitted by PA to MSF, ranging from an overstatement of S$225,703 in some cases to an understatement of S$120,210 for FY2012/13 and 2013/14.

In response, the PA said it was conducting a one-off reconciliation exercise for all CCCs to update and correct the CCF utilisation reports, meant to be completed by June this year.

CNA

***The committee will strengthen the supervision of its 1,800 grassroots organisations (GROs). “The committee will also recommend suitable measures that would enable our 37,000 grassroots leaders and volunteers to continue to serve the community’s best interests while maintaining good governance and sound financial practices.”

Additionally, a hotline has been set up to help GROs with queries on correct procurement procedures. The number is now active and has been communicated to GROs internally.

(CNA, I think)

Problem S’pore, PAP face

In Economy, EDB, Political economy, Political governance on 16/08/2015 at 4:56 am

Creativity and innovation drive global business today. Capital is just one resource, important, but no longer the major differentiator.”

– Peter Georgescu, the chairman emeritus of Young & Rubicam.

For all their academic brilliance Ah Loong and team have not advanced beyond tinkering with the framework that Dr Goh Keng Swee, Hon Swee Sen and Albert Winsemius devised. Evolution is fine to a point. But surely the world has undergone revolutionary change. When they were constructing their model of serving MNCs as a path to grow the economy, serving MNCs was “neo-colonialism”. Today even Red China serves as as the MNCs’ factory.

And many of our PMEs have not gone beyond thinking like clerks, hence they are easily replicable by cheaper FTs?

 

 

 

Wah Lan, PAP MP is more stupid than I tot/ Haw Par

In Financial competency, Political governance on 15/08/2015 at 11:39 am

In https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/pm-aiming-left-to-hit-the-centre-axed-pap-mps-who-dont-get-it/ I pointed out that MP Liang Eng Wah didn’t have a clue about financial sustainability. Turns out

Liang Eng Wah in his day job is an MD at DBS it appears and he is also chairing the Parliamentary committee on finance and trade. If this is the kind of talent we have in banking and politics……. jeez! 

Chris K

I didn’t realise that DBS would employ as a MD someone who doesn’t know finance.

Thank God I don’t own DBS shares. Btw, I have Haw Paw shares which has a stake in UOB. Depending on the relative share prices, I get a big discount on the operating biz of Haw Par. The Wees also control Haw Par.

Holiday in M’sia, Indonesia

In Currencies, Indonesia, Malaysia on 15/08/2015 at 4:54 am

Against US dollar.

Malaysia’s ringgit and Indonesia’s rupiah both slid to 17-year lows, after falls of 2 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively, while the currencies of India, Colombia, Taiwan, Chile, Vietnam, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil and Singapore all ended the week 1-2 per cent softer. FT

But these currencies depreciate against S$ too.

Great Currency Movement

In China, Currencies on 14/08/2015 at 12:43 pm

From Guardian

Kipper Williams cartoon 13 August 2015

The Great Wall the Oppo has to climb

In Political governance on 14/08/2015 at 4:32 am

There is plenty of “analysis” (or is it “wishful thinking”) in cyberspace on which areas the oppo will win. One of these days, I’ll analyse why other than Potong Pasir SMC (if that nutter once o fthe  NSP doesn’t stand), there are only two GRCs that can reasonably be expected to change hands, one of which is Aljunied.

But today I want readers to think about the barrier that the Oppo faces everytime there is a GE.

Forget about the gerrymandering, fixing the Oppo, defamation suits, personal attacks and the election goodies:when GE time comes around there is a mental barrier the Oppo parties have to climb over or breach: voters take a pragmatic view based on what they would be best for the economy, their jobs, and their families. 

When elections come it seems that the electorate reaches an unhappy conclusion that life is difficult, and that they will reluctantly back the party that they think offer the best hope in difficult circumstances.

The Tories [in the UK] didn’t win a majority because people were going to the polls saying ‘I love these bunch of guys’.

Voters took a pragmatic view based on what they would be best for the economy, their jobs, and their families. The psychology seemed to be what will be the least worst, not what will take us to Nirvana.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33723766

One of these days, I’ll blog on why I told a SDP tua kee he should do after the GE: visit Scotland and meet the SDP strategists.

Reminder: In Scotland, the SNP had only 50% of the votes but won 56 out of 59 seats (Labour lost 40 seats). 50% of the voters ended up with only 3 seats.

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/uk-election-results-makes-pap-look-democratic/

And with people like s/o JBJ, Goh Meng Seng* (the reincarnation of Harbans Singh, the clown king of Oppo politics in the 70s and 89s), Roy and Sebastian Teo (president of the No Substance Party standing, and the silence of the WP MPs, and the inability of ANPETC to keep proper records, you can understand why at least 60% of the voters think that the PAP is the least “bad” choice even if the PA (where PM is the chairman) has serious problems about enforcing its internal financial rules, and the PAP has some heartless and brainless MPs.

Btw, the Great Wall of China was not breached or scaled by the Manchus in the 17th century. A Ming dynasty general ordered the gates to be open. And while the Qing dynasty was Manchu, the army and cicil service was staffed largely by Han Chinese.

*I think this TRE reader describes him perfectly:

kanasai gms:
August 11, 2015 at 8:44 pm (Quote)
this GMS fella, i will not vote for him. what he wrote or spoke about to the man are all the obvious issues that had appeared in this forum, and other online media many times before.

i will not want a character like him to be my mp. people will not forget the way he kept sniping at Sylvia Lim (and her party), even at her private affairs. what a bast**d this guy is. He even condemn my football hero Quah Kim Song. Remember because of his big mouth people will also remember those negative and bad remarks that he said about NSP hor!

this is classic kaykian kanasai howtai fella! With a fucker like him who need enemies as the saying goes…lolol!

he is now trying to appear to be praising and appreciative of his mentor LTK. sorry man! he had said many bad thing that he should not about LTK. one “good” quote from LTK during his walkabout will not redeem him

baring that english is not his 1st language, look at the way he handle and present himself in front of reporters in the ST video. i dont see a leader and a mp in him. it is no wonder that he had to resigned from NSP.

look at this youtube vid of the man himself. kanasai lah!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q_7jwkS8_Q

He left out Meng Seng sliming Nicole Seah in the guise of giving her advice. Taz the quality of the man.

Glencore: Great GIC idea in ’09, ’11 but in ’15?

In Commodities, GIC on 13/08/2015 at 1:35 pm

How do you make a £2bn fortune from commodities? Answer: start with a £6bn fortune.

Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive of Glencore, won’t be laughing. Those numbers are the value of his shareholding in the mining and commodity-trading company at flotation in 2011 and now. Yes, Glencore’s share price really has fallen by two-thirds, from 530p to 180p, since it came to market with a fanfare. Among London’s big miners, only Anglo-American has done worse.

This week alone the fall has been 10% as the China-inspired rout has run through commodity markets and mining stocks. Glencore is being whacked harder than the likes of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto for a simple reason – relative to earnings, it has a lot more debt.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2015/aug/12/glencore-world-of-big-mining-agog-at-huge-fall

At the IPO in April 2011, GIC took  US$400m worth of shares, the second largest stake. The fund had already invested in Glencore through a convertible bond issued in 2009. At IPO time GIC was way ahead given that since the IPO had a market cap of US$62bn, it made a killing on its 2009 investment. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/gic-has-a-winner-with-glencore/

Update on @0August :

Glencore data

WP, NSP scared of Kate Spade?

In Political governance on 13/08/2015 at 4:32 am

Update on 22 August at 6.30am: Obviously NSP He-man Steve Chia is not afraid of losing to Tin, having persuaded the NSP to change its mind on contesting here. Can we expect to walk-about dressed in a bikini brief only, showing off his abs and challenging Tin to show off her post natal abs.

(Update on 13 August at 2.50pm:

Tin Pei Ling is raring to rejoin her team in gearing up for the contest in MacPherson in the upcoming General Election. Speaking exclusively to 938LIVE, she said she will nevertheless complete her one-month confinement period, after giving birth to a baby boy, Ng Kee Hau, on Aug 5.

Ms Tin said even now it is business as usual, as she is maintaining close contact with her team in the constituency.

She hopes that the residents at MacPherson will understand her month-long absence. “(I) hope that residents will judge based on past experience, past work done, as well as looking ahead, I hope that they will continue to let me have this opportunity to serve them, continue the work that I’ve been delivering for them,” she said.

Ms Tin also said she is ready to face a contest in MacPherson. “My mission right from the beginning is to serve my residents, that has always been the case. So most part of my energy, my mental and physical energy, will be focusing on making sure that the day to day issues of my residents have been taken care of. MacPherson is well run, so whoever comes to contest in MacPherson, we will just roll with the punches and prepare accordingly,” she said. 

CNA)

If the cybernuts are to be believed, even Goh Meng Seng (the movement’s founder and once their hero but now considered by even cybernuts to be a zero) can trash Tin Pei Ling if he stands in MacPherson.

Obviously going by their recent decisions regarding the SMC by the WP and NSP, the WP and NSP never consulted the cybernuts.

Sylvia Lim explains why the WP did not attend the opposition meeting on Thursday.

She says that her party had offered to let the National Solidarity Party contest Macpherson if the latter withdrew its intention to contest Marine Parade.

TOC

Funny that they were prepared to give away Macpherson while wanting to fight in Marine Parade. There is a 14 points gap to overturn in Marine Parade, two more than Aljunied in 2011.

If Tin is so easy to beat, shouldn’t the WP prefer to contest a winnable SMC? WP knows can’t win in thisSMC?

And now NSP double confirms the view that Tin is unbeatable, by not wanting to contest in this SMC. It could have challenged Kate Spade with u/m in Macpherson, but didn’t. I hear a lot of apeks in area upset she isn’t standing.

Seriously, before the WP came out with the above statement that it was willing to “give” Macpherson to the NSP, my Facebook avatar posted (when someone was making fun of Kate Spade): TPL will win. She’s a very good foot soldier PAP MP i.e. social welfare worker. Area is traditional PAP stronghold. And given the large number of older, less well off S’poreans here, the Pioneer Gen goodies will have an impact. If the PAP had two social welfare worker MPs in Aljunied in 2011, the result would be different. Instead it had two women from hell. One was union bureaucrat, other was rich in her own right.

Someone seconded my avatar saying: My old neighbours said who live there now view her in a new light. She’s bern working doubly hard and going the extra mile.

Double confirm: even the No Substance Party ignores the cybernuts. And do remember Goh Meng Seng left the WP because it wasn’t happy her was going nuts in cyberspace: rowing in cyberspace.

Everyone’s weaker against US$ after yesterday’s RMB devaluation

In China on 12/08/2015 at 1:28 pm

AMK: RP’s dream team?

In Uncategorized on 12/08/2015 at 4:30 am
 Updated on 13 August at 6.00pm: On 12 August Ravi issued a statement that said he wasn’t standing
Nathan:

@ Webex, my dream GRC team for Reform Party contesting in AMK GRC.

1 Gen-Sec Kenneth Jeyaretnam
2 M.Ravi*
3 Roy Ngerng
4 Leong Sze Hian
5 Han Hui Hui**
6 Gilbert Goh

This is just a makeshift RP GRC team subject to last minute changes by the Reform Party. Their primary objective is to provide choices for the residents of AMK in the upcoming GE. In this all round team, you have An economists and financial business management professional, a lawyer, a statistician and social activists all with proven track records. It’s for the AMK’s residents to decide whether it’s going to be the RP or PAP in a month or two from now.

Footnote: the issue of losing election deposits can happen to PAP candidates, just as well as the opposition. Don’t forget this.

Rating: +18 (from 18 votes)
The above appeared on TRE.
Watch and wait. With Roy, Ravi, Hui Hui and Ravi’s $1m AMK election fund (see below), Kervyn Lim will have to try harder. Game on.
————————–
My notes:
*M Ravi has been seen in the area with Roy and s/o JBJ. Looks like he and Roy have kissed and made up. If he stands TeamRP will have access to his $1m AMK fund. m-ravi-reform-party
In February this year M Ravi, publicly said ” he has set aside $1 million, saved over the years, for his campaign” – See more at:http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/opposition-veteran-lawyer-take-polls-position#sthash.ox58eIpv.dpuf. He planned to take on the PM in AMK GRC in the next GE, if the s/o JBJ’s party didn’t contest AMK.

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

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

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

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

**This is what TOC reported about New Citizen Hui Hui.#ReturnOurCPF protester Han Hui Hui turned up a little later in the evening. Although not a member of RP or a resident of Ang Mo Kio GRC, Han said that she had been volunteering with various opposition parties since 2011, and since October last year had specifically focused her energies on Ang Mo Kio as a constituency anchored by the prime minister.When asked if she would be joining Ngerng’s campaign team should he be fielded as a candidate, Han remained vague, saying, “At the end of the day I just want to help Singaporeans.”

PwC’s less than Noble disclaimer

In Accounting, China, Commodities, Energy on 11/08/2015 at 1:29 pm

FT’s Alphaville drew attention to PwC’s disclaimer: PwC said Noble records profits on long-term sales and marketing deals in a manner consistent with industry practice

So if it turns out that “There may be a fundamental difference between a company following the rules and a company presenting a true picture of its financial position,” (Andrew Fastow, the infamous treasurer of the even more infamous Enron, to a FT conference), PwC is not liable. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/07/03/noble-house-airasia-ceos-spin-meisters-take-note/

No wonder PwC is a “professional services firm” where the oldest profession is prostitution.

Forgotten the issues, here’s Michael Dee’s letter to employees: http://www.sharesinv.com/articles/2015/05/29/open-leter-noble/?utm_source=email?

He was at the very least right right that their jobs were at stake.”Noble said it was targeting a 16 per cent reduction it its global workforce to just over 1,500 people by the end of the year.” reports the FT.

S/o JBI is another drama queen?/ SingFirst is first class

In Political governance, Uncategorized on 11/08/2015 at 6:22 am

Looks like RP will have two drama queens. Roy is a well known drama queen and is expected to stand in AMK for the RP. “We also hope that RP would consider fielding Roy Ngerng to contest in Ang Mo Kio. He is energetic and is passionate about the CPF issue. No doubt, the CPF issue is a major concern for all Singaporeans today,” said SingFirst’s TSJ.

But s/o JBJ is proving himself to be just as good a drama queen as Roy.

S/o JBJ walked out in a huff last Thursday night when SingFirst said it wanted to contest AMK. In the last GE, RP put its “tissue paper” marker there. Three reasons why SingFirst has every moral right to contest AMK and needn’t have pulled out*.

S/o JBJ declared before GE 2011 that he didn’t believe in the “chop” system (Tot that he like WP, can remove the tissue paper used as a marker?). He put his words into action when he contested the by-election Punggol East and lost his deposit. There were more spoiled votes than votes for him (third best candidate).

He did not want to contest in AMK in 2011. He was dragged screaming into the fight by foul mouth Alex Tan (Remember him? His language makes Amos look like a choir boy.) who had left SPP (Mrs Chiam had said he was “like a son”) to join RP, having been assured that RP would contest AMK.

S/o JBJ then told him that RP had no money for AMK fight. But Alex Tan found backers to fund the deposits . S/o JBJ had to agree to an AMK fight.

Finally, RP doesn’t have anyone from the Alex Tan team as a member anymore.

All in all, AMK doesn’t belongs to RP.

Btw, I quite like SingFirst having once been concerned that they might split Oppo votes.

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/the-state-of-the-oppo-parties/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/spending-more-on-poor-middle-class-not-juz-cause-ge-coming/

Even if I have doubts about its leader TSJ, I have a lot of respect for Dr Ang Yong Guan.

Relate post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/some-background-info-on-tan-jee-say/

—-

*On 10 August SingFirst announced that it will not be contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC for the upcoming GE It said that it would withdraw its interest to contest in Ang Mo Kio GRC and focus its resources on Tanjong Pagar and Jurong GRCs, leaving the 6 member GRC to RP.

PM aiming left, to hit the centre/ Axed? PAP MPs who don’t get it

In Uncategorized on 10/08/2015 at 6:22 am

Just right of the bull’s eye (as seen by the viewer) is what the PM is moving the PAP to after years (since 1991 at least) of drifting from the left of Warren Buffett to the right of Donald Trump. If he manages it, the PAP will about where the PAP and daddy were (in terms of their economic, and political thinking) on 9 August 1965.

Going back to the beginning? A journey around a political circus ring?

Sadly as the Budget debate earlier this year showed some MPs are too thick to understand the PM, even after Squealer had tot the sheep PAP MPs the new line, “Compassion is good. We got  the money to do compassion.”

PM has some really stupid MPs who still don’t get it. Liang Eng Hwa is the worse of the lot*. Others are Kate Spade (who else?), Hri Kumat and Arthur Fong.

They don’t understand fiscal sustainability***: they should go read TRE’s Chris K on the topic. Warning: very, very chim. Example:

… contrary to the PAP’s narrative that,

  • With the exception of oil rich Norway, none of Singapore’s peers have surpluses of the same magnitude. They run roughly balanced budgets and yet judged to be fiscally sustainable.
  • Since none of the peers have rules that prohibit debt for spending, spending their debts have not stood in the way of fiscal sustainability
  • Much higher social spending does not impede fiscal sustainability.

Singapore’s extremely high debt is invested and not spent, then there is no issue of fiscal sustainability.

And then there’s the brown-noser of an NMP. I had tot she was stupid but then I concluded she made the speech because she wants to be the first NMP to become the PAP’s first disabled MP. She’s special needs really. Roy, New Citizen Hui Hui and the other young hooligans should feel free to jeer at her. 

Let’s see if she gets to be a PAP candidate: I doubt it. As for Liang, Hri Kumar and Fong, I’m sure, they’ll be axed for not getting it. As for Kate Spade, despite her stupidity, she’s invaluable to the PAP: not not juz because she’s going to campaign in her confinement. I’ll explain why soon.

Coming back to “left” or “right”, maybe as an FT columnist put it “[I]n a world of rapid technological change, we need to rethink our old assumptions about “left” and “right”;  cyberspace is ripping up many ideas about the government and class system.””

——

*This letter to ST parades his ignorance of how the S’pore budget works. He also plays the man, not the ball: in footie, he’d be red carded. With PAP MPs like him, how dare the PAP call for a “clean” GE campaign?

Fiscal sustainability remains a challenge

MR DONALD Low dismisses the dangers of spending beyond our means (“Budget 2015: In deficit, yet very prudent at heart”; last Saturday).

He is right that the Government is fiscally conservative. But he is wrong to be dismissive about the concerns raised by me and other MPs that social spending must be sustainable.

Government spending is going up steadily. The new social programmes – for example, Silver Support, higher subsidies for health care and MediShield Life, and the Pioneer Generation Package – are necessary and right.

But we must proceed carefully. As our economy matures and growth moderates, revenue growth will slow. Spending programmes, once committed to, cannot be cut back without the utmost pain and political resistance, as seen in every advanced society. There will be constant pressure to spend more; indeed, Mr Low’s article is a prime example.

Moreover, often, more government spending alone has not solved social problems. Many countries went overboard on welfare with the best of intentions but with unintended results, including massive unsustainable deficit. Now they are forced to cut back and restore financial sustainability, with the harshest impact on the young.

Mr Low ignores this and argues that if something cannot be financed sustainably by the Government, with its ability to pool risks, it cannot be done by households either, which is an unacceptable outcome.

This is a false dichotomy between two extreme choices. Every society must support those with less, find the right balance between personal responsibility and state welfare, and muster and safeguard the resources to meet essential needs.

No government can spend to meet all possible wants, or ignore how its spending will impact individual and family responsibility. Singapore is no different.

Mr Low had earlier posted an intemperately worded version of his commentary on his Facebook page which asserted that “there is something inherently flawed with the concept of sustainability”.

Significantly, he omitted this radical claim from last Saturday’s commentary in The Straits Times. But he has not retracted his earlier version, which was circulated widely online. Instead, he described it (on Facebook) as a “rant”, and thanked a Straits Times journalist for turning his “rant against the sustainability prudes into an op-ed”.

How are we to read a commentary which represents, not the writer’s sincerely held position, but a pose to gull us into believing that he holds reasonable views?

Liang Eng Hwa

MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC

Chairman, Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance, Trade and Industry

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/forum-letters/story/fiscal-sustainability-remains-challenge-20150311#sthash.3jbT6PQa.XLTXdscU.dpuf

**FISCAL DISCIPLINE AND SUSTAINABILITY

Opening the debate was chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade and Industry Liang Eng Hwa. He emphasised the need for the Government to uphold fiscal discipline and sustainability.

Mr Liang, who is also an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, said: “Even as we spend more on our social programmes, the concern among many that I have spoken to is whether we will become a welfare state in no time and whether our people will become less self-reliant.

“Will we lose our economic dynamism and soon descend into the sorry state that some European countries presently find themselves in? How we debate this year’s Budget, in the midst of this strategic shift, can have a bearing on where we would be heading. Where is that fair balance to strike and how quickly should we expand our social programmes?”

In that respect, Mr Liang proposed that there be fiscal sustainability reviews, particularly for spending programmes stretching longer than 10 years. But goodies from the Government do not come at zero expense, noted MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Hri Kumar Nair.

Mr Hri Kumar pointed out that there are limited sources of revenue to fund spending, even as the Government moves to include Temasek Holdings as a contributor to its Net Investment Returns (NIR) framework.

“That will boost our spending power even more. But every additional dollar spent today simply means more than a dollar less for the future. More importantly, we are running out of levers to pull. After Temasek, there is no next,” said Mr Hri Kumar.

MP for Marine Parade GRC Tin Pei Ling also raised concerns about how the move will affect perceptions about the nation’s financial reserves. She said: “I am concerned about whether Singaporeans will take the NIR for granted, and fail to understand that it is something special and rare. I am concerned that Singaporeans will become over-reliant on this source of revenue, and lose the drive to save and invest, and leave something for future generations.”

TIGHT REIN ON FUNDING

At the same time, others argued that the Government must keep a tight rein on funding as social spending increases. A miscalculation could mean consequences down the road.

Said Mr Arthur Fong, MP for West Coast GRC: “We are adding on to the shoulders for future governments and Singaporeans to carry. As sure as the 2 per cent tax increase to 22 per cent for high-income earners above S$320,000, we might one day reduce that income threshold and or increase the tax rate at the same time.

“We will face that some day, hopefully not too soon, but I am sure that as the path towards more social spending and ‘topping up’ has begun, we need to be mindful of finding other means towards topping up our state coffers as well.”

The issue of Government spending also led to a discussion on its consequences – potentially creating an unhealthy mindset that the Government will take care of everything. One MP pointed out that this puts an unrealistic and unsustainable pressure on the Government to solve problems – even when that is not the best solution, or may even end up costing more.  

This gets technical but important to understand the PAP’s approach to fiscal sustainability which, in financial terms, underpin its “you die your business” attitude.

In the PAP alternate universe, something akin to religious heresy has been committed against fiscal sustainability due to the estimated 2015 budget deficit of $6.67b caused by “leaning to the left”. The budget is presented to show a big increase in social expenditures but reality is different. As Donald Low of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, rightly pointed out;

Each year, billions are salted away for the future, via top-ups to endowment and trust funds. These are actually capital transfers that do not reflect actual spending for that year. This year, $6 billion went to such top-ups. Discounting this would virtually eliminate the deficit.”

Last year’s $8b Pioneer Generation was also accounted in the budget as spent upfront but in reality $500m pa is spent over 20 years. Again quoting Donald Low;

The Government’s presentation of its fiscal position has tended to downplay just how much fiscal resources the State has at its disposal.”

What is Fiscal Sustainability?

There is no fixed definition of fiscal sustainability because, beyond its economic definition, it is also a fiercely contested political concept. For a neutral, technocratic definition, the writer quotes former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

Fiscal sustainability is as a situation in which the ratio of federal debt to national income is stable or moving down over the longer term. This goal can be attained by bringing spending, excluding interest payments, roughly in line with revenues……………..Achieving fiscal sustainability, therefore, requires a long-run plan, one that reduces deficits over an extended period and that, to the fullest extent possible, is credible, practical, and enforceable.”

Simply the interplay of revenues, debt and expenditures should allow national finances be solvent over the long run but there is a very crucial point. By “excluding interest payment”, Mr. Bernanke evidence that debt need not be eliminated entirely to achieve fiscal sustainability. Neither did he say budget surpluses are absolutely essential to achieve it. This completely destroy the PAP narrative: neither the deficit spending prohibited by the PAP drafted constitution nor the government’s massive year-on-year surpluses are absolute necessities to achieve fiscal sustainability.

Surpluses not required

If a nation’s fiscal position is judged as sustainable by the two main credit rating agencies, Moody’s and S&P that nation’s sovereign rating is AAA. Here is how Singapore compares to 8 other double AAA rated countries (ignoring those rated split AAA / AA like Finland and the UK) on key measures as percentage to GDP of surplus or deficits, total government debt and social expenditures that are central to the PAP’s fiscal sustainability myth.

Country Surplus / Deficit Debt Social Expenditure
Australia -0.1% 26.3% 19%
Canada +0.3% 56.6% 17%
Denmark +0.4% 48.3% 30.1%
Germany -1.7% 42.1% 25.8%
Luxembourg +1.0% 9.2% 23.5%
Norway +10.1% 33.5% 22.0%
Sweden +0.2% 55.5% 28.1%
Switzerland 0 30.4% 19.4%
Singapore +9.2% 92.6% 2.0%

We can conclude contrary to the PAP’s narrative that,

  • With the exception of oil rich Norway, none of Singapore’s peers have surpluses of the same magnitude. They run roughly balanced budgets and yet judged to be fiscally sustainable.
  • Since none of the peers have rules that prohibit debt for spending, spending their debts have not stood in the way of fiscal sustainability
  • Much higher social spending does not impede fiscal sustainability.

Singapore’s extremely high debt is invested and not spent, then there is no issue of fiscal sustainability.

Infinite Horizon

In the fiscal realm, the state has an infinite horizon to manage its finances because the state exist in perpetuity. Humans on the other hand has a horizon limited to a lifetime. The state therefore has the ability to pool risks and manage social obligations over generations. Further, the state do so at the lowest cost because it can raise revenues and can borrow over that infinite horizon (hence, government bonds in most countries are technically risk-free). The state therefore has insurmountable advantages over citizens and companies to meet social obligations at the lowest cost.

Fiscal Sustainability for who?

A boring technical issue? Perhaps but it lies at the heart of socio-economic problems for the majority of Singaporeans. The PAP’s peculiar concept of fiscal sustainability is financial conservatism of the most extreme. So extreme, it has outsized socio economic consequences. Quoting Donald Low again

If the social needs are real – say, a shortfall in retirement spending or health-care subsidies – then how are those needs to be met? If the Government, with all its risk-pooling and demand aggregation ability, cannot finance that need sustainably, it is almost certainly impossible that households would be able to do so. The only serious alternative, therefore, is that those needs aren’t financed at all – and that many Singaporeans’ lives remain in misery as a result.”

In other words, due to the government’s extreme fiscal conservatism, those social needs are not financed at all, financed minimally by the government or financed by citizens at staggering costs. This is despite the insurmountable advantages conferred on the state. The flow chart below simplifies.

SG50: No right narrative, only many narratives

In Internet, Uncategorized on 09/08/2015 at 1:19 pm

Image result for TOC + SMRT protest

What he said also applies to the narratives that collectively make up the history of S’pore. Victors write the “right” narrative, expecting, hoping it will be accepted, forced down or spun as history.

But the internet (and the new media) makes this more difficult.

History is important, as a BBC commentator says, because there are so many perspectives: history is shaped by continued research. And, of course, it’s also shaped by political will. Last year’s anniversary of World War One’s outbreak and continuing responses to the conflict give us a chance, not only to remember that handful of cataclysmic, world-changing years, but also to witness an ideological tussle between those who feel war is best remembered as the shedding of blood and those who feel it’s best represented as an outbreak of flowers. If history were like arithmetic – two plus two always being four – we’d have a chance to keep it simple and definitive, but it’s so large, it has so many perspectives. It offers so many opportunities to play with our sense of self and our emotions. Manipulated history can offer us clumsy impostures like Piltdown man, or the vile fantasies involved in Holocaust denial. History as a vital, exacting discipline, can show us how whole populations of normal people can be persuaded to behave horrifically, if they’re overwhelmed by histories of past glory, of injustice and suffering at others’ hands. Attack is so much easier to sell, if it’s packaged as pre-emptive defence. Part of growing up involves realising that nation’s futures, good and bad, can leap from their perceptions of the past.

Grumbling about propagandists is easy, but if I look at my own past – especially when I let that be all about me – I’m consistently guilty of propaganda campaigns. If I’m feeling cheerful, the last time I met my gentleman of choice he was pleased to see me, possibly even impressed. Which makes me more cheerful, which makes other memories of him more rosy. If I’m glum, our last encounter dreadful and all is lost. He isn’t just there, being himself but in the past tense – he’s a tall expression of my convoluted ego.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33023404

Or as one Harry said, in a less long wided manner,The final verdict will not be in the obituaries. The final verdict will be when the PhD students dig out the archives, read my old papers, assess what my enemies have said, sift the evidence and seek the truth. 

  • Interview with the New York Times, September 2010

Despite all this, Harry wanted to “shape” history’s judgement of him and S’pore*. And so does the PAP. “The Straits Times story is one important strand of the Singapore story.” said PM of the PAP’s unofficial house paper recently https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/pm-visiting-from-bizarro-spore/.

But today of all days, we must remember the alternative narratives that do not fall into the “right” category.

In Harry’s version of history, detained Barisan Sosialis  leaders Dr Poh Soo Kai and Fong Swee Suan were communists who had to be detained without trial.

But former Barisan leader Dr Poh Soo Kai, among those arrested, insists this was not true.

“There may have been some communists in our party, but we were not following their orders. We did not want terrorism, we were committed to constitutional reform,” the 83-year-old says.

Another Barisan leader, Fong Swee Suan, was also imprisoned in 1963 and then lived in exile until the 1990s. He maintains he was never a communist, and also denies the charge that he instigated deadly riots among striking bus workers.

“I want people to be aware that my father has made a positive contribution to Singapore,” says his son Otto Fong, speaking on his elderly father’s behalf.

“He helped workers organise their unions. He only wanted to speak up for their needs, and make the relationship between employees and employers better.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33621862

Then there are the narratives of people like Mrs Seow Peck Leng – Mountbatten’s first MP. A woman ahead of her time, she championed gender equality and was among those who made the Women’s Charter a realityhttp://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/08/mrs-seow-peck-leng-spirit-of-mountbatten/

And never forget Counterfactual history, also sometimes referred to as virtual history, is a form of historiography that attempts to answer “what if” questions known as counterfactuals.

Example

Modern Singapore: prosperous and peaceful, and led by charismatic working-class hero Lim Chin Siong. His political rival, Lee Kuan Yew, is living in exile and ignominy.

This scenario – ludicrous to Singaporeans celebrating 50 years of independence led by Lee – was dreamt up by local artist Sonny Liew in a new book which imagines an alternative history.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33621862

This graphic novel reminds us that the “right” narrative is written by the victors, and is often accepted, taught or spun as history.

Related articles:

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jan/05/the-price-of-life-in-singapore-city-of-rules-its-a-faustian-deal

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/aug/07/land-starved-singapore-exhumes-its-cemeteries-to-build-roads-and-malls

—————————————–

*I’m reminded of “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it”.

Winston Churchill

Related article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3626376/History-as-written-by-the-victor.html

The above explains why LKY had been spinning his version far and wide.

SG50: Dr M calls M’sia from Hell

In Malaysia on 09/08/2015 at 4:36 am

A good joke to share on our National Day: The moon wass in the Seventh House And Jupiter aligned with Mars when we got kicked out of M’sia by the Tungku.

Mahathir, Regional indicator for United KingdomQueen Elizabeth, and Regional indicator for RussiaVladimir Putin all died and went to hell.

While there, they spied on a red phone and asked what was the phone for. The Devil tells them it is for calling planet Earth.

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Putin asks to call Russia and talks for 5 minutes. When he is finished the Devil informs him that the cost is a Million dollars, so Putin writes him a cheque.

Regional indicator for United KingdomRegional indicator for United KingdomRegional indicator for United KingdomRegional indicator for United KingdomRegional indicator for United KingdomRegional indicator for United KingdomRegional indicator for United KingdomRegional indicator for United KingdomRegional indicator for United Kingdom
Next Queen Elizabeth calls England and talks for 30 minutes. When she is finished the Devil informs her that the cost is 6 Million dollars, so she writes him a cheque.

🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾🇲🇾
Finally Mahathir gets his turn and talks for 4 hours. When he is finished the Devil informs him that the cost is $5.00.

When Putin hears this he goes ballistic and asks the Devil why Mahathir got to call Malaysia so cheaply.

FireFireFireFireFireFireFireFireFire
The Devil smiles and replies: “Since Najib took over, the country has gone to hell, so it’s a local call.”

The facts don’t contradict  the Devil’s “Since Najib took over, the country has gone to hell”.

This week, ringgit fell to a fresh 17-year low against the dollar, the country’s foreign currency reserves plummeted below the $100bn level to their lowest level in five years. The slide comes in lockstep with the double-dip in crude prices, with oil revenue accounting for 30 per cent of the government’s revenue. (FT yesterday)

SG50: Better analogy PM

In Uncategorized on 08/08/2015 at 1:11 pm

Remember PM’s analogy of “natural aristocrats” and “others”?

A large team of ants does the heavy lifting but they lack direction, while a small number of “scouts” intervene and steer for short periods.

http://www.bbc.com/news/33692054

Or as the BBC headline to the article, put it “Leaders and lifters’ help ants move massive meals”.

But maybe taz wrong, our leaders don’t help us?

Think about it this National Day.

The ugly reality about uni education

In Uncategorized on 08/08/2015 at 3:56 am
Somone by the name of David Libling made this comment last week on an FT article about education (Empasis mine)

The tradition from the great public schools and Oxbridge is to teach the Classics. That evolved into the American College which encourages a wide exploration concentrated on the Humanities. The theory behind both movements is that the content of education is unimportant and the primary purpose is the development of twin capacities, that of the skill of learning and critical thinking. However, education including tertionary education, is now a mass phenomenon. In the process, the rigorous intellectual training to which the Humanities once aspired, is largely absent from most Colleges. As importantly, very few College attendees can afford further training after finishing College. To be worth the time and the consequent debt, Colleges, especially the non-elite ones need to teach practical courses with sufficient sequential requirements to provide skills even if that impedes the pleasure of smorgasbord education.
Looks like rote learning is not confined to S’pore unis.
Last Saturday, a friend (NUS graduate in Biz) told me that he only learnt to think when in middle age he did his masters in a science based topic . His first degree was simply rote learning.

Another new NSP face?

In Uncategorized on 07/08/2015 at 1:22 pm

I wondered who was the the pretty, executive type sitting in front from Jeannette Chong? And wondered if NSP was about to unleash another pretty face.

Opp meeting at NSP HQ

Here’s a better shot of her, taken on another day.

Turns out she’s Hazel Poa who looked like this the last time I looked.

Well, reverting to form, the young Hazel was a stunner

I think I’d have asked the young Hazel for a date in preference to asking Kervyn.

I hear that Hazel is recovering from an illness. Looks like she’s recovering her looks too. All the best to her and her hubbie Tony Tan.

Budget 2015: Did you know?

In Economy, Political governance on 07/08/2015 at 4:25 am

The International Monetary Fund notes, our budget surplus, as large as 8% of GDP in 2012, will shrink to less than 2% this year. Note that this “surplus” is the real surplus, as defined by internationally accepted norms, not the definition of the PAP administration.

To be far to the administration, I’m willing to accept the argument that the sale of public land should not be reflected as “current income”. It’s a sale of “capital”. But I also believe it shouldn’t be locked up in the reserves either.

 

Gold price chart (annotated) from 1998 till July 2015

In Financial competency, Gold, Uncategorized on 06/08/2015 at 1:13 pm

Where Roy will stand/ No more $1m fight PAP fund

In Uncategorized on 06/08/2015 at 5:03 am

I was planning to post that Roy was going to join RP. But ST pipped me to it.

It’s no big surprise as s/o JBJ has been courting Roy for some time. They met in London (where s/o JBJ has a house) earlier this year.

But I can report that he’ll be leading a team in AMK GRC. He’ll take on PM and his campaign theme will be “Return our CPF”. Taz Roy the cybernuts’ hero.

Ah well, the $1m fighting fund of M Ravi will not materialise.

In February this year M Ravi, publicly said ” he has set aside $1 million, saved over the years, for his campaign” – See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/opposition-veteran-lawyer-take-polls-position#sthash.ox58eIpv.dpuf. He planned to take on the PM in AMK GRC in the next GE, if the s/o JBJ’s party didn’t contest AMK.

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

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

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

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

Anyway given that s/o JBJ  wants to contest AMK, it’s understandable that M Ravi is stepping back. Pity about the money though. No point asking M Ravi to fund Roy given that he has problems with Roy which he voiced in a video earlier this year (Do google, pls). They also rowed publicly

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

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

Interestingly, M Ravi dismissed Roy as being too impetuous for his AMK slate.

Related post:

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

NSP has Kervyn Lim to attract attention, now RP has Roy. But you won’t hear the cybernuts sliming RP or Roy. They have been in full cry against NSP and Kervyn. Double standards again.

Too bad for s/o JBJ that Roy and Amos yee have fallen out. Imagine a Amos Yee video in support of Roy and s/o JBJ. But I’m sure New Citizen Han Hui Hui will be voicing her support for Roy and s/o JBJ. Remember she danced on the graves of dead children: http://anyhowhantam.blogspot.sg/2015/06/the-looney-fringe-han-hui-hui-mocks-mt.html.

—-

*Highest was in Sembawang, Yishun. Looks like the PAP was concerned about Northern bit of S’pore in 2011, throwing money there. The funny thing is that in both GRCs, the PAP faced really weak opponents. Shouldn’t the money be better deployed in Aljunied? Oh I forgot, the PAP wanted to fix BG Yeo, while helping PAP Lite.

Noble House plays noble move

In China, Commodities on 05/08/2015 at 1:07 pm

It seemed like shooting fish in a barrel for hedgies. Short Noble during the period when it or senior executives could buy shares. Worked for a bit until the Noble House shafted them well and trul: shorts have to be covered as the price shoots up two days in a row.

Noble came out on Monday to say it
— had received proposals for “potential financings, and strategic and/or investment options”;
— has ample cash and liquidity to meet its obligations and operate its busines It can fund the US$735 million bond redemption due Aug 4, and will still have readily available cash of well over US$1 billion. It also said it has US$15 billion in bank lines.); and
— would bring forward the publication of its second-quarter results and the report by PwC on its accounting practices to Aug 10.

This super long holiday weekend will allow the hedgies to drown their sorrows.

Three cheers for Kervyn Lim

In Uncategorized on 05/08/2015 at 4:41 am

Cybernauts are saying she should stick to modelling. Maybe she is? Using the No Substance Party as a platform to show off her assets. Remember Nicole Seah claimed that she got an offer to be the “face” of a retail watch chain. She refused. Silly gal.https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRaApZ4I92_k3WAi8qlSD7cfPBVOna17kcYxQQRCazIefwDSj-2

Seriously why should entering politics only be career enhancing moves for PAPpies? Why can’t an Oppo candidate score for herself and an Oppo party? Win, win leh.  https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSmF6smYpCcpsxBgPos_mBdVUhP1PQhmZ0ZG2I0M4Z99vT-q8-j

If she stands in Marine Parade, I’ll vote for her party. If the Worthless Party is the Oppo team in the area, I’ll go on holiday.

Btw there is a really vicious piece (Go google “Jeraldine Phneah” + “Kervyn Lim”)  by a self-styled “popular blogger”, Jeraldine Phneah: who isn’t even eye candy even if she’s an air-head with a degree from NTU.

Somehow I can’t help feel that Phneah is upset that a really pretty gal is showing off her assets while fighting the good fight. So she decided to be catty and bitchy about another person. She has form in this. Phneah, an activist in the “Free My Internet” movement (Remember it? It opposed Yacoob’s Code of Conduct for cybernauts), used NTU’s Coc (modelled on Yaacob’s CoC) to fix a fellow blogger and undergraduate who called her names.

M’sia: Tak boleh? Indonesia not far behind?

In Currencies, Indonesia, Malaysia on 04/08/2015 at 12:59 pm

Asia currencies main

Dissidents (to the Chiams) People’s Party/ People’s Parachutist Party

In Political governance on 04/08/2015 at 5:02 am

The Democratic Progressive Party and the People’s Power Party are misleading voters about themselves.

The Democratic Progressive Party should rename itself the “Dissidents (to the Chiams) People’s Party” or the “Take Revenge Party” or the “Ng Kum Guan Party”, while Meng Seng should rename his party “People’s Parachutist Party”.

Let me explain

Dissidents (to the Chiams) People’s Party, “Take Revenge Party” or the “Ng Kum Guan Party”

In addition to Fengshan SMC, DPP Secretary-General Benjamin Pwee told reporters at a press conference yesterday (25 Jul) that they want:

Potong Pasir SMC
Hong Kah North SMC
Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
Tanjong Pagar GRC

Except for Tanjong Pagar GRC, the other 3 wards were contested by the Chiams’ party, the Singapore People’s Party (SPP), in the last GE*.

When the possibility of 3-cornered fights with SPP was pointed out to DPP, Pwee (he was the chairman of the PAP Youth Wing in the Thomson area, according to Wikipedia) didn’t disagree saying“We will put a candidate in Potong Pasir because we believe we can put somebody who is a lot stronger than Mrs Chiam.”

More on FengShan below but the plan to contest Potong Pasir is definely an attepmt to fix the Chiams.

Three very senior members of the DPP were members of the SPP and fought along side Chiam in Bishan (5 MP GRC). They are:

  • Chairman – Mohamad Hamim bin Aliyas
  • Secretary-General – Pwee Yek Kwan Benjamin
  • Assistant Secretary-General – Leung Wei Lit Wilfred

They had left the SPP in a huff in 2012 when Chiam refused to relinquish power in the SPP, retaining power in the Chiam family**

As far as competing in Bishan, the DPP has as much right as the Chiams’ Party to compete in the area. Pwee and Leung are in the DPP team for the area: the others are expected to be named soon.

But not in Potong Pasir. Mrs Chiam has been walking the ground in Potong Pasir since before Chiam’s victory in thev8os and she deserves to be the only Oppo candidate. Having said that isn’t it strange that the Chiams (and many S’poreans, especially cybernuts) regard Potong Pasir as the Chiams, personal fiefdom, even though the voters narrowly favoured a PAP man over Mrs Chiam. The cybernuts are comfortable with the Chiams way of keeping  things in the Chiam family, while cursing the Lee dynasty, as they see it. Double standards?

Background on DPP

DPP was a zombie party until 2013. The last time it contested a GE was in 2001, 14 years ago.

According to Wikipedia, the party was founded in 1973 by some unhappy WP members  led by Seow Khee Leng. It was then called the United Front (UF).

UF contested in the 1976, 1979 and 1980 GEs garnering 12.3%, 25.3% and 19% of the valid votes respectively. After being renamed Singapore United Front (SUF) in 1982, it contested in the 1984 GE, garnering 34.2%.

In January 1988, its members joined the WP to contest the 1988 GE. But it was still registered as a political party.

In 1992, after the 1991 GE, Seow Khee Leng again led some members out of the WP and revived SUF, and renamed it once again to DPP. He really has a thing against the WP.

The DPP contested in the 1997 and 2001 GEs,winning 12.3% and 14.3% of the valid votes respectively. DPP contested 2 constituencies each in 1997 and 2001: DPP candidates lost their election deposits. One of the DPP candidates who contested both times was Tan Lead Shake, who wore slippers into the nomination centre to hand in his nomination form. Whatever happened to him. Maybe he joined Meng Seng’s party?

After more than a decade of inactivity, the DPP has been revived by a few former SPP members. In December 2012, Seow Khee Leng invited them to join the DPP. Benjamin Pwee was immediately appointed the party’s Acting Secretary-General in January 2013. Two months later, he was elected Secretary-General. In 2011, he joined SPP to contest in the 2011 GE. In January 2012, he left SPP. He became Secretary-General of DPP in 2013.

Fengshan

It was also pointed out to DPP that it might clash with WP there. DPP announced that it would be fielding its party founder, 75-year-old Seow Khee Leng, in Fengshan.

Mr Pwee explained to the media that going to Fengshan was to “fulfill Mr Seow’s desire to run there”. Mr Seow chipped in, “I have been walking there for more than 4 to 5 years and I live around there too.”

And going by the history of the DPP narraated above, he’s got a grudge against the WP.

People’s Parachutist Party

Ain’t only the PAP that parachutes candidates in at the last minute. Even Goh Meng Seng does it, jetting in (in his private jet?) from his base in HK, and parachuting into the wilds of Choa Chu Kang***. His only connection with the area was that he was sec-gen of the No Substance Party which contested in that area in 2011.

Let’s see if he can do better than the two scholars (husband and wife) that helmed the NSP team. Or will he, like presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian, to whom he was an adviser, lose his deposit?

—————–

*Potong Pasir SMC – SPP got 49.6% of valid votes
Hong Kah North SMC – SPP got 29.4% of valid votes
Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC – SPP got 43.1% of valid votes

**The six former Singapore People’s Party (SPP) Central Executive Committee members who resigned from the party last week have acknowledged the response given by its former secretary-general Chiam See Tong on Wednesday night.

Following Chiam’s clarification that the SPP had received legal advice to confirm the constitutional legitimacy of its Central Executive Committee (CEC) election at the party’s Ordinary Party Conference (OPC) last Sunday, the group said on Thursday morning that his clarification and accountability “bodes well for the SPP’s credibility”.

The six, which consist of the party’s former first and second assistant secretary-generals Wilfred Leung and Benjamin Pwee, organising secretary Ting Sze Jiang, Malay/Muslim affairs head Mohamad Hamim bin Aliyas, his wife and businessmen affairs head David Tan, made clear in their statement that their differences held with the party over leadership styles had never been with Mr Chiam.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/spp-dismisses-tan-jee-say-rumours–maintains-continuity.html

Related post: The planned handover that went wrong: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/spp-changing-of-the-guard/

***Heard he landed in a manure heap in some hobby farm.

 

WTF? Innovation S’pore style

In Uncategorized on 03/08/2015 at 2:10 pm

Singapore-based Rotimatic uses modern technology to solve a traditional problem: making rotis – or Indian flatbreads – using a machine.

“People want to eat more healthily,” Pranoti says, “and we have seen huge demand for our machines since we put up a video online about how it works.”

Rotimatic is just one example of Asian technology start-ups that has recently been able to attract funding.

AND

Hong Konger Jeffrey Liu and his partner Robert Pachter moved from the US, where they were living, and set up GuavaPass in Singapore.

They started the company by initially funding it themselves and were able to close their angel round within the second month of operations.

Their start-up currently offers customers access to premium fitness studios across three Asian cities – Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok – and they’re planning on rolling out to additional cities across Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33747058

 

Where property prices will cheong after GE

In Humour, Property on 03/08/2015 at 5:06 am

As you know, I think Roy Ngerng talks rubbish: but he’s got an interesting insight into three GRCs, Jurong, Tampines and West Coast GRCs – the PAP has consolidated these areas and largely left them intact, which means they will likely field who they consider to be their strong candidates in these areas. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam currently helms the Jurong GRC.

… the PAP already has development plans in mind and have redrawn the boundaries to allow it (it hopes) to hold on to certain constituencies so that it can fully develop these areas according to its wants. In that sense, the PAP has parcelled out Singapore into areas it considers important to keep for its growth-at-all-cost model, and those which it considers less important.

And if you understand what it means when the PAP wants to develop these areas, it means that the PAP wants to build more shopping malls, increase rents, increase prices, increase revenue for themselves and allow themselves to get rich. So, you want to let them?

Well looking at these three areas, not as a cybernut hero but as a rational investor, residents in these areas would be daft to vote Oppo. They should vote for the PAP in overwhelming numbers to make sure the candidates of s/o JBJ (West coast), and No Substance Party (Jurong and Tampines lose their deposits.

The MIW should be so grateful and make living in these places even better.

Whatever it is, the PAP will not lose these three areas: even Goh Meng Seng, cybernut personified, realises this. Hence he is not contesting in Tampines despite the fact that in 2011 Meng Seng’s brother gave his life in the fight for Tampines. The brother had a heart attack while campaigning for Meng Seng.

So go check out properties in these three GRCs.

 

 

Would Ah Loong ever say this?

In Political governance on 02/08/2015 at 1:59 pm

About the pay of his millionaire ministers and of  previous president Nathan*?

Lord Green (Ex HSBC CEO and Chairman, and lay methodist preacher) admitted that the issue of high pay packages for bank employees had disturbed him: “It certainly kept me awake.

“For me this issue of remuneration was the most difficult one we wrestled with. How could anyone be comfortable with a situation where you’ve got very senior people being paid very large amounts of money or indeed quite young people being paid large amounts of money – an enormous multiple of, let’s say the head of large inner city school?

“There’s no possible way on moral grounds of justifying this. Did that leave me uncomfortable. You bet it did.”

(Extract from the BBC)

Btw, someone from TRE has a new moniker for the PAP: Pure Aristocratic Party.

One think I must say about our elitist departed Harry, he’d never use the term “aristocracy” even if caveated by “natural” to describe his idea of an ideal society.

—–

*His presidential salary cannot ever be justified: the pay cut Tony Tan took shows the obscenity of the salary that Nathan took. To be fair to him, it seems he donated most of his salary to “charity”, whatevewr this means. But that is not the point. He shouldn’t have been getting $2m a year juz because he’s the head of state with some powers.

At least in the private sector, salaries are in theory tied to the “profits” (value) made by person or team. What value did Nathan bring?

DPM Teo, our civil service got sell expertise to Disney?

In Uncategorized on 02/08/2015 at 4:16 am

A Whitehall joint venture with the private sector has turned a £12m profit in its first year of trading, boosting ministers’ hopes of converting civil service brainpower into lucrative businesses.

Axelos, co-owned with Capita, exports training schemes designed in Whitehall to private sector clients worldwide, the most notable being Nasa and Disney.

 

S’pore’s casinos: 8th, 9th globally/ Sands S’pore beats Sands Macau

In Casinos, China, Malaysia on 01/08/2015 at 5:09 pm

 

 

Biggest Macau casinos don’t have US parents: they have strong local connections. 

Exports slump in Asean: Will affect S’pore

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Property on 01/08/2015 at 4:47 am

http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/c38feea2-3207-11e5-8873-775ba7c2ea3d.img

For starters, a lot less tourists from Indonesia. And upper end properties will continue to be in dolddrums.