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Archive for October, 2015|Monthly archive page

Haze: Why Indons getting serious

In Environment, Indonesia on 31/10/2015 at 11:06 am

A few days ago I wrote Haze: Huge Indon U-turn within a week

The Indon govt was changing its mind on calling a state of National Emergency despite saying it wasn’t on the cards a few days earlier.

The reason?

“Lately, clouds of haze have been drifting into the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, which normally escapes the smelly fumes. Cynics will wonder whether that helped persuade Mr Widodo to come home early,” Economist.

Widodo had cut short a US trip to deal with haze.

Haze is hitting the elite where it hurts, their home town and the place where upset people can make a difference.

 

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Chinese pearls in Indonesia

In China, Indonesia, Infrastructure on 31/10/2015 at 5:06 am

China Communications Constructionis currently in the process of finalising a $2.5bn deal with the Indonesia Port Corporation to upgrade 30 ports in East Indonesia 70% financed by the China Dev Bank

 

Samsung makes peace with ang moh investors

In Corporate governance on 30/10/2015 at 11:50 am

Samsung plans to buy back 11.3 trillion won ($9.9 billion) worth of stock and pay out up to half of its free cash flow in dividends to placate foreign investors who own 55% of it. That will shrink its cash pile and may help the ruling Lee family reorganise their empire. Samsung will cancel the shares it purchases – equivalent to 5 percent of its total market value based on the closing price on Oct. 28. The company has kept previous buybacks as treasury shares, which it can reissue in the future.

A few months ago, NYT Dealbook reported

SAMSUNG C&T SHAREHOLDERS REJECT ELLIOTT’S ACTIVISM A rare test for shareholder activism in Asia failed on Friday with the Lee family of Samsung securing its future leadership in a face-off with a big New York hedge fund. Shareholders in a Samsung Group subsidiary voted for a merger with another Samsung company, clearing the way for a father-to-son transfer of power in Samsung’s largest family-owned conglomerate, Choe Sang-Hun and Neil Gough report in DealBook. The approval delivers a crushing defeat to Elliott Associates, the activist hedge fund, which opposed the merger.

Elliott owns 7.12 percent of Samsung C&T and had campaigned against its all-stock merger with Cheil Industries, another Samsung company. It had argued that Cheil’s $8 billion takeover of Samsung C&T cheated the minority shareholders by grossly undervaluing Samsung C&T shares. It said it was an unlawful attempt to help Lee Jae-yong, the song of Samsung’s chairman, Lee Kun-hee, inherit the conglomerate. Samsung has pushed back, depicting Elliot as a foreign “vulture” capitalist trying to disrupt an orderly generational change at the crown jewel of the South Korean economy in order to make a quick profit and exit.

The merger carries implications that reach well beyond the Lee family. Samsung, with its 70 subsidiaries ranging from shipbuilding to home appliances, generates a quarter of South Korea’s gross domestic product and its influence in the nation is pervasive. Other family-controlled conglomerates, known as chaebol, will have been watching the result carefully as they are also preparing their chairmen’s children for succession.

Although the South Korean public is increasingly skeptical of such dynastic transfers of power, people remain wary of foreign investors and activisim like Elliott’s is rarely seen in Asia. Publicly traded companies often remain under the control of close-knit family groups of state-backed shareholders, while legal protections for minority investors can be patchy, so many activist hedge funds choose to stay away.

However, all was not lost for Elliot. Cheil and Samsung C&T have promised to bolster corporate governance by increasing dividends and creating a shareholder rights committee after the merger.

“Free Our CPF” hooligans made M Ravi ill?

In Uncategorized on 30/10/2015 at 4:32 am

On Oct 22, M Ravi, who was suspended from legal practice in February this year because of the state of his mental health, said in a statement to the press that his application for a practising certificate has been given in-principle approval. I was happy for him but found it strange that he also said he would hold a rally* on Saturday (Oct 24) because he was planning to contest the upcoming elections for the Law Society of Singapore’s (LawSoc) president.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said on 24 October that Ravi’s application was still under review as “not all issues in relation to his fitness to practise have been addressed”.

“Contrary to (Mr Ravi’s) statements, the Attorney-General has not written to the Registrar to issue Mr Ravi a practising certificate that is subject to conditions,” said a spokesperson. “It is the understanding of the AGC that neither has the Law Society of Singapore given final approval.”

As Ravi never responded, I checked around. It soon emerged that he is still a sick man.

To recap: Ravi was previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder and LawSoc was informed that his psychiatrist, Dr Munidasa Winslow, had diagnosed him as being hypomanic. Hypomania is part of bipolar disorder and characterised by a distinct period of elevated or irritable mood.

The court had ordered that Mr Ravi would need a medical report from Dr Winslow or another psychiatrist approved by LawSoc to certify that he is fit to practise, should he wish to apply to lift the suspension. Before LawSoc moved to have Mr Ravi suspended, the lawyer’s conduct in public on several occasions had caused concerns even among his friends.

This incident reminded of something I was told earlier this year.

After I wrote this, a friend, a social activist who knows Roy and Ravi emailed me to tell me that it wasn’t Roy’s conduct that caused Ravi to get a relapse. He said M Ravi was very upset by Roy’s behaviour but this did not mak him sick.

The behaviour of Roy, H3 and the other  young hooligans at Hong Lim Green triggered the relapse. They refused to listen to his advise on how to conduct themselves after the rally. Roy and H3 blogged about what had happened contrary to his advice to keep low profiles. They also wanted him to work for free. There is also the allegation that I heard from another source that he had specifally advised Roy and H3 that disrupting the YMCA event was a red line they should not cross.

This story** http://themiddleground.sg/2015/10/17/cpf-protestors-trial-crossing-swords-or-crossing-line/ about the antics of New Citizen Han Hui Hui and other  “Free Our CPF” hooligans*** makes the stories credible.

Finally, his claim of getting his practicing cert back should make this bunch of Canadian lawyers**** sit down and shut up. A Canadian NGO has asked LawSoc “to discontinue disciplinary action against internationally known human rights lawyer M. Ravi and to take all steps necessary to ensure the reissuance of his practising certificate”.

TOC summarises their arguments http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/08/the-case-of-m-ravi-lrwc-issues-call-for-law-society-to-remain-impartial-from-government/

The arrogance of the Ang Mohs is astounding. As the LawSoc pointed out the Canadians want due process to be ignored. They think we still under ang moh rule isit?

An aftertot: meditation is not enough. In his autobiography, Ravi says he doesn’t take the medicine prescribed (Medicine is problematic). He relies on meditation.

——

*The rally never took place it seems. I heard his friends had to restrain him.

**Do read it for some laughs. I had been told of some of the antics but found it impossible to believe at the clownish behaviour until I read this piece. Example:

Two mothers of the performers were the first witnesses to take the stand asserting that their children had been traumatised by the protesters. Han had asked them a series of questions including their understanding of the Constitution and their views on freedom of speech. She also asked why the mothers brought their children there knowing that a highly-charged CPF event was taking place at the same time, and the extent of physical, emotional or mental trauma the children faced.

Questions for other witnesses, who included members of the public and representatives of NParks and the police, also turned on whether both concert and protest organisers had been informed of each other’s event taking place on the same day, why NParks did not alert the five other speakers who made applications to speak at Hong Lim Park before the event, and the lack of proper demarcation for the two concurrent events at the Speakers’ Corner lawn.

And the defendants shouted and cried as the cross-examined the witnesses.

***Roy betrayed them by pleading guilty.

****A bunch of M’sian lawyers also made a similar call. They too should sit down and shut up.

Chinese slowdown? What slowdown?

In China, Temasek on 29/10/2015 at 1:46 pm

Still buying iPhones as if there’s no tomrrow. If only HoHoHo had bot apple instead of Chinese banks. (((((

Apple is becoming a tech company with Chinese characteristics. About 24 percent of the $51.5 billion of sales booked in its latest quarter – and two-thirds of revenue growth over the last year – came from China. Apple’s new iPhone installment plan could bump this up even further. Chief Executive Tim Cook’s bet on the Middle Kingdom is yielding impressive dividends, but carries existential political risks for the $675 billion company.

The iPhone now accounts for 63 percent of Apple sales, and a greater chunk of profit. Investors and observers will have to wait for next quarter to see exactly how well its newest wares are doing. They were only on the market for a slice of the quarter. But Apple’s figures do show its reliance on overseas sales, and in particular China. The company sold $12.5 billion worth of goods in the country, which is nearly double the amount it booked last year. Most of that demand was for its phones.

The number of iPhones it sells in China could grow over the next few years, thanks to a program Apple recently rolled out. Mobile operators in the United States and in some other markets have moved to selling phones through monthly installment plans. Apple has joined them. Customers pay over two years, but can upgrade after one year if they sign a new two-year contract and give their old phone back to Apple. Many of these devices will end up in China.

The country has long been a big market for refurbished phones. Around 40 million iPhones were already on China Mobile’s network before the operator agreed to sell them to users in 2013. Apple can now sell refurbished phones. They are perfect for China, which is a big market for cheaper smartphones.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2015/10/28/apple-a-tech-company-with-chinese-characteristics/

Related article

it’s fanciful to think that the performance of a handful of companies could serve as a reliable guide to the habits of 1.4 billion people. “Bellwether” originally described a sheep which leads the rest of the flock. That’s an image investors should probably avoid.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2015/10/28/searching-for-china-consumer-bellwethers-is-futile/

Haze: Huge Indon U-turn within a week

In Environment, Indonesia on 29/10/2015 at 5:23 am

The British have a saying, “A week is a long time in politics.”

Yesterday CNA reported, Indonesia is considering declaring a national emergency over fires that have been smouldering across the archipelago for weeks, sending haze drifting across much of Southeast Asia, the vice president said on Tuesday.

The government would intensify efforts to contain the fires that have caused pollution levels across the region to spike to unhealthy levels, and forced school closures and flight cancellations, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said.

“The problem is too big,” Kalla said in an interview at his office in Jakarta.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-considers/2221238.html

But on 21 October, Companies will benefit if haze problem declared national disaster: Indonesian minister

The annual haze problem in Indonesia is about injustice, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for politics, law and security Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said.

“When a company controls 2.8 million hectares of land, where is the justice? Then there are those that own 600,000 hectares of land but own not a single fire extinguisher,” he said in an interview in the Oct 25 issue of Tempo, an Indonesian weekly news magazine.

He explained authorities’ reluctance to declare the haze problem a national disaster, even though air pollution levels in some Indonesian cities have reached hazardous levels at more than 2,600 API.

“Should the government be dousing fires all the time? If we call it a national disaster, they will benefit from it,” he said, referring to land concession owners. “They have 500 million pounds sterling in London banks, but they demand that we douse the flames.”

(CNA)

The plantation owners could use  any declaration of a national emergency to declare force majeure on palm oil deals, even financing deals entered into with banks.

MoH: PM needs a minister who can communicate

In Public Administration on 28/10/2015 at 4:36 am

PM says the PAP must change. Obviously MoH thinks otherwise. Is the MoH (minister included) saboing the efforts of the PAP administration to project a PAP administration that does the right thing in the right way, always explaining its actions.

Seriously like in transport where the PM said the minister in charge must be able to communicate to the public, MOH needs a minister who can communicate to ,we, the rabble.

When the “noise” whacked the MoH on the Heptais C tragedy, my sympathies were with the MoH. It was trying to fix a problem while dealing with the noise from the usual suspects like parachutist extraordinaire Goh Meng Seng (three GEs, three GRC and three different parties: and getting less votes eeach time). “Stuff happens. So why the chattering? 30% ng kum guan isit? So KPKB?”

Even when MoH responded in an ultra defensive, aggressive way to an ST article, I wasn’t too fussed. ST was a juz being a pariah trying to bite the hand that fed it. I was thinking, “Yup beating up ST is good. Dogs should not bite the hand that feeds them.”

But MoH’s response to WP’s call* for a Committee of Inquiry (COI) was so petulant, aggressive, defensive and so misrepresentative of what the WP said** that I’m wondering if there is an email or two somewhere in the system that could be perceived as a “smoking gun” that MoH wants to hide?

Seriously MOH needs to stop playing word games and being so ultra-defensive yet so aggressive.

As a member of the conservative FB group I belong to put it

I think that the final question that needs to be asked is:

“Why not?”

1) Does a COI incur much greater cost than an independent committee? Is there a disadvantage? Why not just do the COI, if there is nothing to hide?

2) If a cluster of deaths do not meet the threshold for implementing a COI, then this raises the question: What would be a serious enough incident? Accidental black hole? Heat death of universe?

3) Why is MOH protesting so defensively? Not once, but twice (once against Rachel Chang, and once against WP)?

It would have been so simple, reasonable and appropriate to say that a COI is not necessary at the moment. because a COI can still be convened after the initial investigations by the police and review committee. The call is premature and the juz WP wayang, trying to show that its not the Worthless Party.

Instead, the MoH’s reply to the WP to produce evidence came across as dismissive, defensive, aggressive and arrogant. This should not be the way if the MoH is not trying to hide anything.

The WP says rightly that it’s “inappropriate” to call for the WP to present evidence before the COI) into a Hepatitis C cluster at the Singapore General Hospital can be convened.

Finally, I note the health minister wasn’t good in MoM too. Maybe he’s scare to get moved on out like Lui, Paymond Lim? Juz wondering.

——-

*The Workers’ Party welcomes the broadening of the remit of the independent review committee to include review of MOH’s procedures and actions.Drawing the right lessons from the outbreak of the Hepatitis C virus infections at the renal ward of the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is critical for Singapore. It is tragic that four individuals may have lost their lives as a result of these infections in one of our leading healthcare institutions, and one more person may have died for reasons possibly related to the infections.

The outbreak and the government’s response to it have exposed potential gaps in our public health protection protocols. Aside from the risk to human life, the matter has considerable implications for Singapore’s status as an international business and tourism hub.

The work of the review committee is critical not just to rectify any lapses to prevent future recurrences, but to maintain and bolster public confidence in our healthcare system and review processes. To this end, not only must the review be rigorous, transparent, independent and fair in terms of its outcomes. It must also be seen to be so.

With these ends in mind, we call on the government to pursue the following actions in respect of the committee’s work.

  1. The government should explicitly task the committee to investigate the reasons for the extended delays between:
  1. The discovery of the cluster in April/May and the notification of MOH in late August.
  2. 3 September when MOH’s Director of Medical Services knew of the existence of the cluster of 22 infections, and 18 September when the Minister for Health was informed of the cluster.
  1. The terms of reference of the committee do not explicitly state that the committee is required to arrive at conclusions and recommendations about the timeliness of public alerts and preventive or containment measures. Given that the public was only informed about the cluster in October when the probable existence of this cluster was discovered in April/May, we repeat our call for the committee to review:
  1. If existing protocols about timeliness of public alerts and containment measures were adhered to in this instance; if so, how can these protocols be improved upon as they have been shown to be lacking; if protocols were not adhered to, why not; and what measures are recommended to strengthen adherence towards zero fault tolerance on such matters of life and death.
  2. If protocols do not exist, to recommend protocols that should be adhered to in future in respect of the maximum time frame for ascertainment of an infection cluster, for MOH notification, public notification and commencement of containment measures.

The Workers’ Party regrets the degree of delay between the discovery of a probable cluster of infections in April/May and the initiation of public notification and screening in October. We note that the Press Secretary to the Minister for Health stated, in a letter to The Straits Times Forum published on 20 October 2015:

“Medical professionals and public officers in MOH and SGH sought to perform their duties professionally and objectively. They acted in the interest of patient safety and to minimise risks to patients. Political calculations played no role in their consideration of the proper course of action. To suggest otherwise impugns the professional integrity of these public servants, who are unable to reply to defend themselves.”

We hold that a responsible and transparent government should explain in detail how the delays in public notification and screening from April/May to October represent actions that were taken in the best interests of patient safety and risk minimisation to patients.

Calls on the government to explain the delays in detail should not be met by calls to provide evidence of any inappropriate motivation.

Now that the review committee’s remit has been broadened to cover MOH’s workflow, we also call on the government to take action in regards to the committee’s composition and procedures in the following two regards:

  1. In the case of the Committee of Inquiry into the 15 and 17 Dec 2011 MRT breakdowns and the 8 Dec 2013 Little India Riots, the deliberations of the committee were made public so as to strengthen public confidence in the security and public transport systems respectively. In this case, we recommend that the deliberations of the committee likewise be made public. The Hepatitis C outbreak is at least as grave an incident as the MRT breakdowns and Little India riot, with serious implications for the public confidence of Singaporeans and foreign stake-holders in our vital national institutions. So as to facilitate this and in line with the norms established by the COIs relating to the MRT breakdowns and the Little India riots, we recommend that the current review committee be reconstituted as a Committee of Inquiry (COI) under the Inquiries Act.
  1. We note that the review committee is composed of currently serving clinicians in public healthcare institutions. Now that the committee’s remit has been broadened to include a review of MOH’s workflow, these individuals are effectively being asked to critique the actions of senior civil servants who oversee and administer government policy that affects their work as clinicians on a day-to-day basis. This would place members of the review committee in an awkward position. We suggest the inclusion of retired clinicians and healthcare administrators in the committee and the appointment of a retired healthcare administrator or clinician as co-chair. We further suggest that one of the committee’s members be a person qualified to be a Judge of the High Court, as required by the Inquiries Act should the committee be reconstituted as a COI. This would strengthen the ability of the committee to conduct a truly rigorous and, where necessary, critical review.

In this grave matter, the review committee bears a huge responsibility. We offer these suggestions so as to strengthen the review committee’s ability to do its job well and to be seen to be doing so.

LEON PERERA
NON-CONSTITUENCY MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT-ELECT
THE WORKERS’ PARTY

25 October 2015

++In response to media queries on the Workers’ Party’s statement today, the following can be attributed to the Press Secretary to the Minister for Health:

The Workers’ Party (WP) has called for a Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the cluster of Hepatitis C cases at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

An Independent Review Committee has been appointed to review the cause of the incident and surrounding circumstances. To facilitate its work, the Review Committee has engaged additional resource persons, including international advisers, to ensure that it has access to all the necessary expertise to do its review thoroughly.

The Committee’s findings and recommendations will be made public. A Police report has also been filed and the Police are conducting investigations.

The WP statement is careful not to make any suggestion that SGH or MOH officers acted with improper motives. Yet it has asked for a COI ahead of the Committee’s report and the conclusion of Police investigations. If the WP believes that there are questions that the Committee cannot answer, or that any officer acted with improper motives, it should state so directly. The Government will convene a COI provided the WP is prepared to lead evidence before the COI, to substantiate whatever allegations it might have.

25 OCTOBER 2015

Maersk issues profit warning, NOL capsises

In Economy, Shipping, Temasek on 27/10/2015 at 4:12 am

Maersk, the Danish shipping and oil firm, said it will probably make $600m (£389m) less profit than previously thought, as global demand dropped. 

The firm’s progress is seen as a good indicator of global trade, as shipping carries about nine tenths of the world’s trade, and Maersk Line is the world’s biggest container carrier.

Maersk will probably book $3.4bn in profit for 2015, it said.

Shipping companies were charging about $233 to move 20-foot containers from Asia to Northern Europe, a loss-making rate according to analysis by Reuters.

Maersk blamed the drop in earnings on slender container shipping margins. It makes about half its profit from running the Maersk Line.

“Maersk Line has been hit harder than expected by low capacity utilisation due to the low volume growth in the global container transportation market,” Sydbank analyst Jacob Pedersen said.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-34612966

As Maersk Line consistently outperforms NOL (led by scholar, ex-SAF general and ex-Temask MD) does this mean NOL will capsise and sink without a trace when it reports results at the end of October?

Laughing mortgagees/ Betting against the Fed

In Economy, Property on 26/10/2015 at 5:43 am

(Updated at 19.30am: A few “honest mistakes”)

We’ve heard a lot in the constructive, nation-building media* and from cybernuts about coming big rises in mortgage rates. The cybernuts in TRE are happy because the rising rates show (in their demented, deranged minds) the folly of mortgagees mortsagors voting for the PAP. As though voting for their heroes, Dr Chee, s/o JBJ, Roy, Han Hui Hui, M Ravi and Goh Meng Seng would make a difference.

Well the brainless “PAP is always right” hacks and hackettes  and the “PAP is always wrong” nuts are likely to be wrong and mortgagees mortgagors will have a festive Deepavali , a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a Prosperous Lunar New Year: if market expectations are to be believed.

Market expectations have played down the chance of US tighter monetary policy before next year. Futures markets predict a 32.3% chance of a rise by December, with March currently given an even chance of a Fed move.

What this means is that there come December the market thinks the Fed will stay its hand. And maybe stay its hand in March. Btw,“We see another round of QE ,,,” said Merrill Lynch this week, implying that the Fed will soon loosen policy.

But economists in London and NY still forecast rise in Fed rate before year’s end. Despite a tempering in the US labour market, 65% of the 46 economists from leading banks polled by the FT said the central bank would increase the federal funds rate at its December meeting.

If they are wrong and the markets are right, mortgagees mortgagors can keep on partying thru to end of March if not longer. The only dark cloud is that residential property prices are flat if not edging down

The Fed’s decision not to raise rates in September and October has allowed MAS to ease things a little here

On Oct 14, our central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), announced that it would continue to ease monetary policy** to accommodate for the slower growth that Singapore is experiencing, largely due to weaker global growth expectations. It could do this because the Fed stayed its hand on raising interest rates.

A slower appreciation of the S$ raises the rate of inflation: not good for retirees like me. We want deep deflation.

But a slower appreciation of the S$, is good for exchange rate sensitive industries such as manufacturing, tourism, and professional services that have regional clients.

To make things simple, monetary policy is like steroids for the economy. If our economy is underperforming, MAS can stimulate it by injecting some steroids. That is what happened, by easing our monetary policy.

http://dollarsandsense.sg/how-will-singaporeans-be-affected-from-mas-relaxation-in-monetary-policy/

Coming back to the possibility of a rate rise by the end of the year: a large majority of policymakers, 13 out of the 17, or 76% 0n the Fed’s rate-setting Open Market Committee, expect a rate rise this year.

A bet against a rate rise is a bet that they will change their minds.

The big divergence in opinion between the Fed and the markets over when rates will rise means that if the Fed moves in December there will be serious volatility and mortgagees mortgagors will be having a miserable Christmas, a sorrowful New Year and an abalone-and angpow-free Lunar New Year. They’ll be crying all the way to the bank what with higher interest rates, tanking residential prices and the probability of losing their jobs.

But will the mortgagees have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a Prosperous Lunar New Year? Paying out huge bonuses? I doubt it. They’ll be worried about loan defaults.

—-

This appeared in CNA shumetime back

Mortgage rates have risen since the start of the year, and analysts have said home owners should brace themselves for further increases.

At the beginning of 2015, home buyers in Singapore could get loans that start at 1.6 per cent in the first year. That rate has been creeping up, and the figure is now around 2 per cent, for rates pegged to three-month Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (SIBOR), said CEO of financial advisory firm SingCapital, Alfred Chia.

Mortgage brokers also said rates are likely to go up further, as recent increases in the three-month SIBOR – a key benchmark used by banks when setting  mortgages – have not been fully reflected in the interest rates homeowners are currently paying.

Said Mr Chia: “With an impending rise of the US Federal Reserve rates, SIBOR is definitely set to rise.  Banks have used SIBOR or Swap Offer Rate (SOR) as a reference when they do the mortgage interest rates. Meaning to say, they peg it to a public rate, and if the rates go up or down, it will affect the mortgage interest rates the borrowers will serve.”

DBS said it expects SIBOR to rise from the current 1.13 per cent to 1.22 per cent by the end of this year, and 1.75 per cent in about a year’s time.

Should mortgages increase by the same amount, a family with an outstanding S$500,000 mortgage spread over 20 years will have to pay an additional S$137.71 a month to service the loan.

Assuming variable interest rate rises from the current 2 per cent now to 2.6 per cent next year, the monthly instalment will rise from S$2,529.42 to S$2,667.13, using DBS’s online mortgage calculator.

Analysts have said most home owners can shoulder the burden as banks must ensure borrowers can still service their home loans if interest rates rise to 3.5 per cent, according to Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) requirements.

**Singapore manages its monetary policy by using the exchange rate  (not interest rates like the Fed, BoJ, BoE, ECB etc. Dt Goh Keng Swee said using interest rate to control monetary policy is not effective as the exchange rate in an open, tiny economy like S’pore’s.). The exchange rate is pegged to a “sectre” basket of currencies from countries that are important trading partners. The US$ is a big, big component.

PM has New Citizen Raj in mind?

In Uncategorized on 25/10/2015 at 1:28 pm

“Add your own distinct experiences, skills, abilities – contribute to the Singapore story and together, make a better future here for all of us,” said PM Lee Hsien Loong to the new citizens on Saturday (Oct 24).

(CNA)

He is celebrating New Citizen Raj’s attempt to ensure his son avoids NS?

PM should ask New Citizen Raj to defend us

In Uncategorized on 06/07/2015 at 4:08 am

“Who will defend us?*” asked PM. I went WTF!

Why doesn’t PM ask New Citizen Raj why he planned to ensure his son avoids NS?

This is what I wrote about New Citizen Raj sometime back:

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

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

The benefit of having his son on a student pass is that his son can always work in Singapore later as a “foreign talent” and eventually become a PR himself. He will not be considered a second-generation PR since he was not sponsored by his parents in the first place. A second-generation PR who gives up his PR is barred from working in Singapore.

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

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

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

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/new-citizens-why-doesnt-pm-pap-condemn-this-behaviour-close-ns-loophole/

My understanding is that this loophole still exists and is still being exploited. Why?

My neighbour’s son has juz finished BMT. He is a second generation NS man. And P Ravi’s son is going into NS soon

Why should they do NS to defend New Citizen Raj and his family? Because he like them are ethnic Indians? When their dads and I did NS, we were defending S’poreans, not Foreign Trashes like New Citizen Raj who use our flag to clean their behinds.

And this is unacceptable (lifted from TOC)

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/pm-should-ask-new-citizen-raj-to-defend-us/

 

Haze: Only Indon officials do this

In Environment, Indonesia on 25/10/2015 at 4:23 am

Int’l conference of ministers in haze-ridden Padang.

Only Indon officials can be so cock. I assume that when this conference was scheduled, they tot the haze season would be over.

Correspondents … likely to be discussed at the talks is smoke from illegal forest burning in Indonesia that has blighted the air across much of South East Asia for several weeks.

Julie Bishop takes morning run before attending Indian Ocean Rim Association meetings in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, 23 October 2015

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will hand on the chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to Indonesia at a meeting in West Sumatra.

IORA consists of 20 coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean and has been chaired by Australia since 2013.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-34612083

 

Amos: millionaire in the making

In Uncategorized on 24/10/2015 at 12:58 pm

Maybe S’poreans shouldn’t be that hard on Amos Yee’s antics. Maybe he’s pursuing the S’pore deam of the 4 Cs in his own unique way like the UK boy who earns US$4.5m by simply making videos of himself.

Data analysed by video intelligence company Tubular Labs shows that 17,000 creators have more than 100,000 subscribers – and 1,275 of these creators are registered in the UK.

Incredibly, 1,477 YouTube creators have more than a million subscribers, and 147 of these creators are registered in the UK.

Tubular Labs has created a list of the top 10 most influential UK creators for the BBC.

At the very top is Olajide “JJ” Olatunji, who dropped out of college, but has made $4.5m (£2.9m) in the past year, according to a Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid YouTube stars.

The 22-year-old, from Watford, has more than 10 million subscribers on his KSI YouTube channel and a “social reach” of 17.4 million when other social media platforms are taken into account.

He is best known for filming himself playing computer games while commentating on them, but he also makes comedy videos and more typical vlogs.

His vlogs include one where he decided to dye his hair blond and another in which he filmed himself for a week to give his viewers a chance to see what he does when he’s not posting YouTube videos.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-34504053

Amos can be funny but the problem is that he sticks to a riff too long. He did a video attacking the PAP but after the first three minutes, he started going round in circles. If he can’t milk any more from a riff, he should move to another topic, and then another.

Markets don’t listen to economists

In Financial competency on 24/10/2015 at 4:49 am

 

Economists still forecast rise in Fed rate before year’s end. Despite a tempering in the US labour market, 65% of the 46 economists from leading banks polled by the FT said the central bank would increase the federal funds rate at its December meeting.

Contrast this to market expectations, where observers have played down the chance of tighter monetary policy before next year. Putting their money where their mouths are, futures markets predict a 32.3% chance of a rise by December, with March currently given an even chance of a Fed move.

 

Haze: Indon govt protecting plantation cos

In Environment, Indonesia on 23/10/2015 at 4:48 am

Our govt has officially requested Jakarta to provide S’pore with the names of those companies that are causing the fires. This would allow S’pore to take legal action against those responsible for the haze that has covered us, M;sia and now southern Thailand.

But Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Luhut Pandjaitan has given us us the finger on the issue (and in so doing tells us that the plantation cos are being protected), despite Indonesian officials regularly blaming S’pore-based (and M’sian based) cos for the fires.

Speaking to the media here after delivering a public lecture on Monday (Oct 19), he said Jakarta might consider releasing the names of the companies after they have gone though the legal process in Indonesia*.

Jakarta has said it is not yet ready to officially disclose names of plantation companies responsible for the forest fires in the country that caused the haze in the region.

Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Luhut Pandjaitan said releasing the names would create uncertainty within the country.

He added that the Indonesian government also do not want to create an uncertain situation within the country because of this. “Moving forward, they know that they are going to get punished by the government. I think this is very important.

“But next year, we have already given them a clear message: We are going to revoke their licence, no question about that. That I can assure you. They understand that fully.” 

(CNA)

So it seems that the companies are to be given yet another chance to avoid being named and shamed, and prosecuted here. Did money cdhange hands ?

Related post: Another Indon goof https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/haze-indons-forgot-about-el-nino/

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*Legal process, what legal process? He said: “Well, we are not protecting (plantation companies). Like I mentioned earlier, we have not officially submitted the names to the court. So how can we disclose them to the public? It’s unfair. We’ll wait for the court’s final decision.” 

How can courts decide if the names are not officially submitted? So Kafkaesque    of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings; especially :  having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality <Kafkaesque bureaucratic delays>

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kafkaesque

Did money change hands?

 

How Yaacob can kill the internet buzz

In Internet on 22/10/2015 at 5:21 am

If Yaacob and his officials in the ministry of propaganda and media supervision  want to get mega bonuses from Ah Loong, they should visit Tanzania, go on a safari in the Serengeti National Park , come home, and then introduce a  cybercrime law based on Tanzania’s.

Tanzania is no North Korea. Our ang moh tua kees should love it.Tanzania is ranked 75 in the latest Freedom of the Press Index while S’pore is a lowly 153. But Tanzania is the latest African country to introduce a cybercrime law, after Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Zambia.

According to a BBC report someone said on his Facebook page:

The Tanzania cybercrime law seems to be working well enough, to slow down chat buddies and online bloggers. It’s amazing, since morning to afternoon I’ve received less than 300 chat messages, compared to other days before the law came into effect, when in less than an hour, I’d have received more than 1000 messages.”

As a BBC African commentator put it

Tanzania’s social media chat groups have gone a little quiet since the government introduced a new law to tackle cyber crime.

I’m not aware that there are people who navigate their way around social media, armed with AK47 assault rifles.

So it can only mean Big Brother is watching and listening.

Now if you share images of people who forgot to wear clothes, or if you share lies on social media, or commit other acts deemed to be criminal, you could spend 10 years in jail.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-34517711

And the PAP administration can cut and paste the need for the new law: The government says the new law will help address new forms of crimes not covered in other laws, such as spreading lies, sedition and pornographic material online*.

But our malay (his other portfolio) minister, is not as ambitious, hardworking or intelligent as the pet minister, or the ex-finance minister, newly promoted to co-ordinating minister of commerce. So sometimes it is good that an RI boy is not that ambitious, hardworking and intelligent**.

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+Commentator points out But critics argue the law will infringe on the freedom of the press and expression. Some complain that the new law, which came into effect less than two months before the 25 October general election, is aimed at silencing voices critical of the government and ruling party.

**Ftr, his eldest brudder is a presidential scholar who is is alleged got tired of the public service. He was last seen in HK.

 

Would this be an offence here?

In Uncategorized on 21/10/2015 at 6:14 am

If say Amos Yee had painted the names “Lee Kuan Yew” and “Jesus Christ” on two pigs and intended to release them in Hong Lim Green?

Let me explain. There is a graffiti artist called Danilo Maldonado, commonly known as “El Sexto”, whose work is unrelentingly critical of the Cuban government.

On this occasion, the authorities decided he had gone too far: he had mocked the leaders of the revolution.

On 25 December 2014, he painted the names Fidel and Raul on two pigs and intended to release them in a plaza in Havana.

His idea was that people would try to catch the pigs and the winner could keep them.

Whether you see it as a cheap publicity stunt or a valid artistic expression, the event was never likely to be allowed to happen in Cuba.

Maldonado was stopped by state security officers before he got to the square and was put in jail, reportedly without trial.

The government say “El Sexto” is a mercenary in the pay of anti-Castro groups in Washington and Miami.

But Amnesty International recently deemed him a prisoner of conscience.

“To jail an artist for painting a name on a pig is ludicrous,” said Carolina Jimenez, the organisation’s Americas Deputy Director for research.

(BBC Online)

(For the record Amnesty Int’l wrote about Amos as follows:

“Amos Yee is not a criminal. He should never have been charged, let alone convicted. He has been punished solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression,” said Rupert Abbott, South East Asia and Pacific Research Director at Amnesty International.

“If there is any justice Amos Yee would be walking free from court without a conviction against his name. The Singapore authorities must respect the right to freedom of expression.”

For the record, I say, “Ang moh, don’t talk cock.” I think this judge got it right about Mummy’s Boy Fantastic.)

Sorry for the digression, back to Amos and the naming of the pogs. Well going by the offences Amos was found guilty of earlier this yr, Amos could be guilty of

— “intention of wounding the religious feelings of Christians” if he painted ‘Jesus Christ” on a pig; and

— “threatening, abusive or insulting communication” which is anan offence under under the Protection from Harassment Act for painting “LKY” on the other pig,

with the intention of releasing the pigs on Hong Lim Green so that Han Hui Hui, Roy, Goh Meng Seng, s/o JBJ, M Ravi, Gilbert Goh, Dr Chee and their like could try to catch the pigs.

Brown-noser and PAP member Lionel De Sousa (“Hang 100 innocent people lest one guilty person gets away” seems to be the motto of this self-styled super robo cop who never got confirmed as an inspector, retiring as a sergeant in the SPF.) is sure to lodge a police report, something he did in the case of Amos Yee. .

Reminder of what Amos did for those with short memories. In late March 2015, shortly after the death of one LKY, Amos uploaded a video on YouTube criticising LKY. In the video  he compared Lee to Jesus, and said nassty things about both of them. Yee also uploaded to his blog an image depicting Lee and Margaret Thatcher engaged in anal sex. Yee was arrested and charged with “intention of wounding the religious feelings of Christians”, obscenity, and “threatening, abusive or insulting communication.” The first two charges were for offences the Penal Code. The third charge, later stood down, was under the Protection from Harassment Act.

“Sity wonton, United nil.”

In China, Footie on 20/10/2015 at 7:59 am

The Sun on Sunday focuses on her husband, or at least his football preferences. The paper claims President Xi has had a “dream Manchester United trip thwarted” by council chiefs who’ve arranged a tour of local rivals Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. “Council leader Sir Richard Leese is an avid City fan and lobbied Downing Street for the switch,” it reports, before adding that the visit will take in a redevelopment site around the stadium.

As the paper puts it, the score was “City wonton, United nil.”

(Think Stomp and New Paper when thinking of Sun on Sunday)

The FT reports that the real reason is that members of royal family of Abu Dhabi own City, so Xi favours them. btw, MU is owned by American Jews who are 100% behind Israel.

Why Johor royals talking of secession?

In Malaysia, Property on 20/10/2015 at 6:47 am

Young Johor royals are getting noisier as the Federal govt ignores them and the noise could keep affecting us further.

The Crown Prince of Johor warned in an interview published on Oct 16 on a footie website (I kid you not) that the state has every right to secede from Malaysia if it finds a breach to the terms agreed upon its membership to the Federation of Malaysia

Four months ago, his younger brother Idris Sultan Ibrahim had also posted a warning on Instagram that the southern state may secede from Malaysia if the conditions upon which Johor had joined the Malaysian Federation are violated.

In the post, which was later deleted, he issued a reminder that the Johor government had joined the Malay Federation in 1946 on several conditions. These included: making Islam the religion of the state, the state’s absolute right over water and land issues, and the state royal house to have its own armed forces.

Remember the hike in the toll rate by M’sia last yr that took the S’pore govt by surprise (Ah Loong and Najib had a love-fest juz before the announcement)? S’pore matched this hike after waiting a few months. From Oct 1 last year a round trip rose from a few dollars to S$13 (the collapse of the M$ has reduced this recently by a little). Result? Less S’poreans do their shopping in Johor. The hikes cut the cost advantage significantly if one travelled by car. There are allegations that the prices of vegetables rose too because lorries have to pay the levy. Bus prices went up by as much as 50%, it seems.

The story I heard then from very reliable M’sian sources was that the Federal govt hiked the rate (knowing S’pore would follow) to cause problems for the sultan of Johor. It seems it wanted to send him a message not to try to grab power. There was a big row when a bill was introduced in the Johor legislature giving the sultan, in his own right, the power to appoint the head of a Johor state land agency. By convention such appointments are by the sultan acting on the advice of the chief minister.

The bill was then amended so that the head was appointed by the sultan acting on the advice of the chief minister.

The rise in the toll made life a lot harder for businesses that depended on S’poreans crossing over to spend their money on cheaper goods and services. This is not good for Johor and the royal family. And there is the added bonus of making Chinese voters repent: the MP of a large part of Iskandar is the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang, the hero of the M’sian Chinese.

But as the latest actions of the younger royals seem to indicate, royalty in Johor are  still upset with the Federal govt and who can blame them*? They are trying to take advantage of the 1MDB issue and the PM’s fight for political survival

Meanwhile Johor businesses continue to suffer.

The continuing row adds further pressure to property prices in Iskandar which is facing a glut of supply https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/iskandar-prices-off-a-cliff-already-stabilising/.

It seems the Chinese developers are already having second tots about the projects they announced so confidently earlier this year and late last year https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/how-many-waterfront-cities-will-eventually-be-built/ .  Johor royalty is involved in many of these Chinese projects.

Expect more noise from the young royals which will in turn affect property values in Iskandar. Who wants to buy property in a state threatening secession?

LKY got it about right when he asked why invest in Johor where the rules can suka suka be changed overnight?

——————-

*Despite another hike** in April this year https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/iskandar-developers-must-be-desperate/. S’pore hasn’t followed.

**Yet to be implemented I forgot to add. (Update at 1.30pm)

 

 

 

Haze: Indons forgot about El Nino?

In Indonesia on 19/10/2015 at 5:31 am

Update on 22 October: There is little possibility of rain before the end of November, said Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs.

When TRE republished https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/haze-indon-officials-that-cock-meh-double-confirm/ TKSS reminded of how the yearly wayang ends: the rains come and everybody is happy.

CI, it is quite obvious the games played.

We are in mid October which is the transition between mother nature’s season of south west and north east monsoon. In another month or so the North east monsoon takes over and rain will douse fires

Indonesians are probably thinking why not for PR, they don’t do it the rains will.
They already have a few months when fires were most productive in cleaning lands*.

Sadly TKSS and the Indon officials forget that we are likely not to see the usual weather pattern. The weather should be a lot cooler and rainier  by now but it isn’t. I’ve got two fans on and am bare-bodied as I write this at 5.00am.

The dry spell is likely to continue for a lot longer than usual. Remember that last November — January were pretty dry. This November — January could be worse.

The only good thing we can look forward to is that El Nino is followed by La Nina. and a couple of once-in-a-century floods in the space of a few months. Here’s hoping :a Ninacomes earlier than expected.

Related article https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/haze-la-nina-riding-to-the-rescue/

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*He goes on: Map co-ordinates will lead to identification of culprits which will destroy those bureaucracies – income in Province and Capital. Just wondering how much monies are used to grease the system by plantation owners to have their annual bonfires?

It is up to Political Leaders of those affected countries to get Indonesia to the table and start the process of enforcement. Laws can be enacted with regimes of fines and even confiscation of land by Indonesia.

BUT IS THERE A RESOLVE TO DO IT?

Chinese data is fuzzy

In China on 18/10/2015 at 2:38 pm

(Update on 19 Oct at 10,30am: China’s economy grew faster than expected in the third quarter at 6.9%, the slowest since 2009)

Tomorrow China will release its latest GDP data. China is predicting growth of “around” 7% for this year

FT reported that said last month a aspokesman for the Chinese Bureau of Statistics said that he believed growth as low as 6.5% could be considered as “around” 7%

Sex and the cybernuts

In Humour, Internet on 18/10/2015 at 4:25 am

Apparently TRE cybernuts and Jason Chua and his pro PAP cybernuts have better sex lives than normal S’poreans.

The UK’s Daily Star (think Stomp! and New Paper), reports a study by a sex therapist who says he has found that less intelligent people have a better love life as they are less likely to worry about “performance” or “how satisfied their lover is”.
“The findings that dumb people have better sex will be welcome news to hordes of everyday Brits, as well as numerous celebrities,” the paper adds.

BBC Online

Swiss standard S’pore should introduce

In Environment on 17/10/2015 at 4:36 am

Cutting the level of noise pollution. What with plans for 6.9 people by 2030. surely in addition to building more flats and improving public tpt services (both works in progress), it’s time to lower noice pollution levels?

Making a din in Geneva will be more costly in future, after the authorities announced a steep increase in fines for noise disturbances.

Until recently, the canton fined people up to 150 francs ($156; £100) after noise complaints, but under the new system that will be the minimum amount, the 20 minutes news website reports. Someone shouting in the street can expect the lowest fine, but if car horns wake up an entire neighbourhood the penalty could reach 1,000 francs, the canton’s Attorney General Olivier Jornot says.

Car owners whose exhaust silencers aren’t working properly can now expect a fine of 500 francs, rather than the 50 to 100 francs of old. And there will be limits on how long celebrations can go on after a sporting event, decided on a case-by-case basis, the website reports.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-34516586

1MDB: FBI examining Goldman Sachs

In Corporate governance, Malaysia on 16/10/2015 at 4:28 pm

NYT Dealbook:

Role of Goldman Sachs in 1MDB Transactions Under Scrutiny Investigators at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department have begun examining Goldman Sachs’s role in a series of transactions at 1Malaysia Development Berhad, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

 

Amos Yee: The anti-PAP caravan moves on

In Uncategorized on 16/10/2015 at 5:15 am

Double confirm, Amos is history, a celebrity no more. The anti-PAP paper (or cyber) warriors and activists ignored the end of the saga (or is it farce?) “Amos the Freedom Fighter: S’pore’s Nelson Mandela”. There was hardly a word on new media about the dismissal of his appeal.

Amos (Mummy’s Boy Fantastic) had an appeal against his conviction and jail sentence dismissed by the High Court on Oct 8. was found guilty of two charges in May, after a two-day trial. He was convicted of one count of making offensive or wounding remarks against Christianity and one count of circulating obscene imagery.

Justice Tay Yong Kwang said: “Yee used offending words against the central figure of the Christian religion.”

“Yee’s attitude of complete disregard for others … is not commonly seen. He did not respect anyone.” He had “openly defied” court orders and made sure his “bravado” was made known. Judge got this about right.

The defence argued that Yee was exercising his constitutional right to freedom of speech and provoke “critical discussion”. Said Mr Dodwell: “Yes, Amos has been rude but were his actions a crime?”

Justice Tay said (rightly in my view): “This is not freedom of speech, this is a licence to hate, to humiliate others and to totally disregard their feelings or beliefs by using words to inflict unseen wounds”. It seems like Yee is throwing stones at his neighbour’s flat to force the neighbour to notice him, (and) come out to quarrel.”

“Yee used coarse, hard-hitting words to arouse emotions … vulgar insults to deliberately provoke readers and draw them out,” he said, adding that the 16-year-old should “wean himself off his preference for crude, rude language (and engage in) real debate”, which can “flourish in an environment of goodwill, reasoning and civil language”. Hear, hear.

The activists (paper and real) that were egging him on are silent e.g. the members of Community Action Network (CAN: Shelley Thio, Lynn Lee, Joshua Chiang, Jolovan Wham, Jennifer Teo, Woon Tien Wei, Rachel Zeng, Roy Ngerng and Martyn See.), Maruah, Aware, and Dr Chee.

(Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/fool-them-once-shame-on-amos-fool-them-twice-shame-on-them/)

He has served his purpose as an instrument to attack the administration of justice here. Their caravan has moved on, in search of the next instrument to attack the PAP administration, the administration of justice etc.

But to be fair, I’m sure these anti-PAP activists will say they don’t want to go to jail for criticising the judge’s reasoning.

But no need to feel sorry for Amos. He didn’t bother to turn up for the hearing despite asking his lawyers to appeal, and despite them working for free.

Mother Mary sure knows how to bring up a kid.

 

Insider trading: The long reach of MAS

In Uncategorized on 15/10/2015 at 4:35 pm

This case surprised me because all that happened was that a bank account here was usedto buy the shares. Otherwise everything was done overseas.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement on Wednesday it fined Rajiv, a former Indonesia investment banking head of UBS, S$434,912 (US$313,857) in the 2012 insider trading case. It sweems the guy juz lost his job at Caryle as head of its Indon division.

The MAS said Rajiv bought 1 million PT Bank Danamon shares in March 2012 through his wife’s bank account in Singapore after he possessed price-sensitive and non-public information on a proposed acquisition of Danamon by Singapore’s DBS Bank.

DBS announced the proposed acquisition in April 2012 and MAS said Rajiv made a profit of S$173,965 from his insider trades when he was with UBS. Due to regulatory issues, DBS subsequently pulled the plug on the Danamon deal.

The MAS said Rajiv admitted breaking the securities law and paid MAS the civil penalty without court action.

What the SDP, activists and analysts don’t get

In Political governance on 15/10/2015 at 3:45 am

Below is an extract from a piece by the FT’s Gideon Rachman on the difference between the US and China written on the eve of Xi’s visit to the Hegemon’s capital.

4. Individual v community: American leaders stress the rights of the individual. Chinese leaders stress the interests of the community. The difference between American individualism and Chinese communitarianism filters into their attitudes to the state. In the US, the ideas that the individual needs to be protected against an over-mighty state is built into the constitution and into political rhetoric. In China, it is more normal to argue that a strong state is the best guarantee against “chaos” that has led, in the past, to civil war and bloodshed. Many Americans assume that this Chinese rhetoric simply reflects the self-interest of the Communist party. But it also has deep historical roots. Americans might trace their emphasis on individual rights to the War of Independence in the 18th century. By contrast, in stressing the need for a strong state, Chinese leaders unselfconsciously refer to the “Warring States” period, which began in 476BC.

5. Rights v hierarchy: Different attitudes to the state lead to contrasting views of what holds a society together. Americans stress individual rights and the law. But while there is now much more talk in China of the need for strengthened “rule of law”, the Communist party is also promoting the Confucian tradition, which stresses a sense of hierarchy and obligation, as crucial to the smooth functioning of society. Once again, this has implications for international relations — since it affects China’s view of the proper relationship between big countries, such as China, and their smaller neighbours.

Given that S’pore is 7o% ethnic Chinese is a de-facto one-party state, and has a conservative society*, is it not surprising that

— communitarianism and 

—  the Confucian tradition, which stresses a sense of hierarchy and obligation [the PAP listens to our grouses, does something about them, so we should reciprocate by voting for the PAP and not as the WP suggests vote against the PAP. PM said said this argument against “numan nature”: I’d say against the Confucian tradition. ], as crucial to the smooth functioning of society

means that 35%** of the voters think the PAP deserve their votes in 2015? In 2015, the percentage was 25%.

Whatever Sr Chee, his SDP, s/o JBJ, Western-educated activists and analysts should stop looking at S’pore from a Western perspective. They should “Seek truth from facts”.

WP’s success has been built on Low’s insight as a man of Tao that the vast majority of S’poreans are comfortable with the PAP. Sadly a strategy built on that insight has its limitations both for the WP’s and S’pore’s prospects.

———————————

*Btw, I’d argue that Taiwan because of its history of colonisation by the Japanese and repression by the KMT is a more radical place than S’pore. Likewise South Korea because of Japanese colonisation and the Korean war.

**I’m assuming based on PE 2011, 35% of vthe voters will  die die vote PAP and 30% will vote for any donkey, so long as it’s not a PAP donkey, even if it turns out to be Tan Kin Lian advised by Goh Meng Seng.

Noble House looking for new sucker?

In China, Commodities on 14/10/2015 at 1:19 pm

FT reported gossip during LME Week* in London that Noble could be close to a deal with a strategic investor.

It’s controlling shareholder is a Chinese SOE

——

*The biggest annual gathering of the metals and mining industry

HoHoHo: Is EMC a steal?

In Private Equity, Temasek on 14/10/2015 at 5:58 am

Or are EMC shareholders crying all the way to the bank?

Michael Dell, his company, private equity firm Silver Lake, our very ownTemasek and others are paying U$33.15 a share, they say, for the data storage-based tech conglomerate. Most of the money they will be using (US$63 67bn) is borrowed. They are only putting up US$4bn.

That breakup tally is higher than the Dell offer, more so after discounting the headline value for the fall in VMware’s stock price since the headline price was calculated and because a tracking stock, which reflects an indirect interest and raises legal risks, is likely to trade at a discount. But even an offer worth, say, $30 a share would probably compare favorably given the risks involved in splitting up EMC, which would take months with success far from assured.

It’s also hard to see other companies paying up for EMC. Some have already passed. Meanwhile, Dell’s target has also proved unable to engineer succession at the top, with longtime boss Joe Tucci still in situ after postponing his retirement several times.

All this presumably explains why Elliott has gone public in support of the sale to Dell. Even if the ersatz VMware paper isn’t worth as much as Dell says, the cash component alone is about equal to EMC’s undisturbed stock price. Throw in the tracking stock, and much of EMC’s conglomerate discount goes away. In a business that’s on the verge of turning down, investors should take the money and run.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2015/10/12/emc-investors-get-67-bln-ticket-out-of-trouble/

Another Foreign Trash?/ GE2015: How 5 becomes 10

In Uncategorized on 13/10/2015 at 4:52 pm

A Fellow from the Institute of Policy Studies, one Johannis Aziz wrote on IPS Commons (“Where Minds Meet”), Singaporeans voted in a general election that saw the incumbent PAP government enjoy a 9.8% vote swing in its favour.

Hello what “9.8% vote swing”? While this kind of garbage is common on TRE, TOC or social media, a Fellow of the Institute of Policy Studies should know better. He should not be as financially illiterate a TRE cybernut like Oxygen. And if he’s no moron, he should not use words sloppily, again like cybernuts.

I’ve rebuked cybernuts on TRE, TOC and Facebook for the wrong use of “%”. The swing is 9.8 points or 9.8 percentage-points, not “9.8%”.

I pointed out to them that if they can’t get this simple terminology right, why should anyone trust their analysis? I say the same to Johannes Aziz, a Fellow of IPS. Another FT where the T stands for “Trash”? Like the ex-CEO of SGX and the present president and head of IT at SGX? SGX: the rats’ nest of Foreign Trashes.Maybe, he’ll get a job at SGX soon.

On to something more serious. There is of angst by the anti-PAP crowd about the 10 point swing to the PAP by those who voted the Oppo in 2011. Actually. only voters amounting to 5 percentage-points voted for the PAP instead of the Oppo parties. But this becomes a 10 percentage-point swing because the Oppo lost 5 points and the PAP gained 5 points.

Not that bad leh as a 10% loss.

HoHOHO, a player in “Largest Technology Deal Ever”

In Private Equity, Temasek on 13/10/2015 at 5:07 am

Dell to Buy EMC in Largest Technology Deal Ever The acquisition of the storage provider for $67 billion is intended to help Dell adapt to a changing tech landscape.

(NYT Dealbook)

Michael Dell, Silverlake and Temasek, which backed his PC buyout two years ago, will put up about US$4bn in equity to support the deal.

Update at 6.45am:

Deal rationales

At $67 billion, it is the biggest corporate marriage in the information-technology (IT) industry ever. It is also emblematic of a divide running through the IT sector. Dell and EMC are members of an old guard, which is scrambling to regroup in the face of the biggest shift in the industry since smaller, networked machines dethroned mainframe computers in the early 1990s. That shift is the move to cloud-computing services hosted in data centres with big connections to the internet. Of the firms leading the charge, none is stronger than Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud-computing arm of the online giant.

Consolidation would give the merged firm more bargaining power, not least when dealing with big cloud providers themselves, and would also gel with another trend in the IT industry: converged infrastructure. Traditionally, servers, storage devices and networking equipment have been sold separately. Now they are being increasingly offered in integrated bundles by one vendor, sparing customers the tedious task of making them work together—a trend that has been pioneered by EMC in a joint venture with Cisco, a big maker of networking gear. The next step, which some big cloud operators that make their own hardware are already taking, is to merge the different components by using basic computers and have software turn it into servers, storage devices or routers as needed. This development would play to Dell’s strengths: it excels at making commodity hardware.

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21673523-clouded-marriage-merger-dell-and-emc-more-proof-it-industry-shifting

Trading ETFs can be dangerous

In ETFs, Financial competency on 12/10/2015 at 1:24 pm

Fronm NYT Dealbook

RISKY STRATEGY SINKS SMALL HEDGE FUND At the height of the 2008 financial crisis, investors would have had a gain of more than 600 percent, according to projections in investor documents for the new hedge fund, Spruce Alpha. But the fund, which started in April 2014, has failed to turn recent market turmoil to its advantage and has lost investors 48 percent of their money, Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein report in DealBook.

The under-$100 million fund, which was managed by the $1.5 billion Spruce Investment Advisors, has moved its positions into cash, a person with knowledge of the fund said. The fund has told investors that they can redeem what remains of their money.

This sudden reversal of fortune at Spruce has highlighted the way hedge funds rely heavily on exchange-traded funds and derivatives to profit from short-term turmoil in the stock markets, and the way some use back-tested data to market to their investors.

Back-tested results in hedge fund marketing materials have long drawn scorn from some in the hedge fund world. They are typically recreated with the benefit of hindsight, making it easier for a fund to post hypothetical good results.

It is not clear exactly what caused the big losses in August. Spruce Alpha used a sophisticated strategy that involved derivatives to amplify returns from trading in E.T.F.s. The strategy seeks to make money off stock market volatility.

Trading in E.T.F.s has become controversial with big-name investors blaming them for the violent swings in the market and Laurence D. Fink, the chief executive of BlackRock, which sells more traditional E.T.F.s, warning that E.T.F. strategies that rely on derivatives could blow up.

The tests at Spruce Alpha had apparently not simulated a situation like Aug. 24, when some E.T.F.s seized up in the first few minutes of trading.

Todd Rosenbluth, director of E.T.F. research for Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ, said leveraged E.T.F.s were an inherently risky strategy that is more akin to “gambling than investing.”

Roy: Cannot be relied on

In Uncategorized on 12/10/2015 at 6:14 am

Roy Ngerng pleaded guilty to charges of public nuisance and organising a demonstration without approval, on Oct 7. He was fined $1,900.

Both offences were committed at Hong Lim Park on Sep 27, 2014, where the YMCA was holding a charity carnival, YMCA Proms @ The Park 2014*.

By pleading guilty Roy has “fixed” New Citizen Han Hui Hui (hear they no longer on talking terms and Roy crosses his heart whenever her name is mentioned) and the other young hooligans who want to stand trial.

By pleading guilty, he’s making it more difficult for the others to defend themselves given that the leader has said he is guilty as charged. District Judge Liew Thaim Leng said Roy was the “leader of the group”.

His co-accused are expected to go on trial on Oct 12. H3 is facing charges of public nuisance and organising a demonstration without approval, while   Low Wai Choo (Goh Meng Seng’s choice of fellow S’porean to stand with him at Choa Chu Kang GRC in last GE: what does Meng Seng have against autistic children?), Goh Aik Huat, and Koh Yew Beng each face a charge of public nuisance.Another co-accused, Chua Siew Leng, had pleaded guilty in March this year. She was fined $300 for causing a public nuisance.

Roy the drama queen is now a sabo king (queen?). But he has form. He tot of standing bail for Amos Yee, mummy’s pet and boy fantastic, but didn’t. Result: Amos got locked up over a week-end. And he didn’t stand by H3 when s/o JBJ didn’t want her as a RP candidate for Ang Moh Kio. She is really angry with him for not standing by her: after all she did for him.

Roy according to his lawyer “is “deeply remorseful” at jeering at autistic kids**. Why he always like this? He was sorry he defamed PM And then went to defame PM a few more times. Will he ? “He will not reoffend”, Mr Thuraisingam added, in seeking a fine.

Let’s wait and see.

Will he break the law again?

Whatever it is, the voters in AMK have showed him and the cybernuts that they are not impressed by his antics done in the name of S’poreans. Time for him to sit down and shut up.

———————————————

*Ngerng, together with fellow blogger Han Hui Hui, 24, and four others, held their #ReturnOurCPF protest rally at the same time and place as the YMCA event.

When then-Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck – the guest-of-honour for the YMCA event – arrived at the Park, the attendees of Ngerg’s protest became “more emotive”.

The group demonstrated by shouting loudly, chanting slogans, waving flags, holding placards, blowing whistles loudly and beating drums, the court heard.

(CNA)

**Ngerng’s lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam said his client had contributed to society by volunteering his time to teach special needs and autistic children***. He is also a “well-known advocate for matters of public interest”, Mr Thuraisingam said.

“His offence is ignorance”, said the lawyer, as Ngerng did not know that separate approval was required for a demonstration, after he had already obtained approval to hold an event at the Park.

Ngerng holds a “genuine belief” that he was speaking on matters of public interest, and is “deeply remorseful he did not do this in accordance with the law”, the lawyer said.

“He will not reoffend”, Mr Thuraisingam added, in seeking a fine.

***Pls leh, the parents rightly refused to let him anywhere near the kids. So how can his volunteering be contributing to society?

 

 

 

 

 

HoHoHo: Relying on mgt incompetence at StanChart

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, India, Temasek on 11/10/2015 at 6:22 am

Standard Chartered has to hope that a quarter of its top brass really aren’t very good at their jobs. That is the portion of the UK-listed emerging markets bank’s 4,000 most senior staff who will find themselves surplus to requirements, Reuters reported on Oct. 9. Although StanChart could gain from a big cull, it’s a risky move.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2015/10/09/stanchart-takes-bet-on-management-incompetence/

So should HoHoHo and us S’poreans.

Will ang mohs or Indians get terminated? Not many Chinese to sack despite 50% of revenues related to China business. (Related post: StanChart is Little India)

More for HoHoHo to ponder when she returns to work

StanChart’s shares have underperformed the European peer group by 30 percentage points this year. The bank’s 7.7 percent return on equity in 2014 was unacceptable, especially as it was earned on a relatively low 10.7 percent Basel III capital ratio.

— Some bearish analysts reckon Winters should completely cover the bank’s $8.7 billion of non-performing loans to better match Asian peers like DBS. That would cost $4 billion, more than StanChart’s expected $3.1 billion of forecast 2015 pre-tax profit.

M$ can fall further/ M’sia boleh

In Currencies, Malaysia on 10/10/2015 at 6:30 am

Using REER [real effective exchange rate] calculations which takes into account inflation means M$ could fall by another 32% to 5.59 to the US$.

Actually, this is a lot better than other Asean countries (ex S’pore).

So M’sians shouldn’t blame Rosmah or as she prefers to be know First Lady of M’sia (FLOM) for weak M$.

HoHoHo: StanChart’s capital shortfall

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Temasek on 09/10/2015 at 1:08 pm

FT reported earlier today:

Goldman Sachs analysts predicted on Thursday that StanChart would face an estimated capital shortfall of $4bn in the Bank of England’s stress tests, which measure how the lender would fare in an emerging markets crisis.
But Goldman estimated that StanChart could cover this shortfall by selling its stakes in several Asian lenders and exiting low-returning clients and businesses, such as its smaller retail branch networks.

Related post: Why Little India now includes Marina Bay

But let’s be fair: When emerging mkts and commodities (StanChart has high levels of lending to the crumbling commodities sector) were fashionable 9lucrative) it was the right bank to be invested in. FYI according to Nomura 50% of its revenue is related to China.

Given  the exposure to China by HoHo Ho and GIC, ttme for Ah Loong to call Xi and offer him advice on how to fix the Chinese economy? Can lend him Tharman who is lauded in int’l circles.

Haze: Indon officials that cock meh? Double confirm

In Environment, Indonesia on 09/10/2015 at 5:32 am

Further to this https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/haze-indon-officials-that-cock-meh/, I’ll let my fellow Facebookers speak for me on the u-turn in Indon policy

“Jakarta accepts foreign help to fight raging forest fires” ST today. Finally. Why didn’t they accept such offers weeks back when it was offered and when the situation was already hazardous? Was it pride or what? And here, neighbours numbering millions have been suffering due to the Indonesian government’s previous stance! Hopefully there will be some relief in the near future.”

“At last! They also accepted Russian help. If Russia did not offer assistance I doubt that their foolish pride would have allowed them to accept Singapore’s offer. But now that a huge country and P5 member is helping them it has become acceptable to accept an insignificant offer from a tiny neighbour. Another factor may be the impending ASEAN Summit which also entails meetings with Dialogue Partners. Their lack of capacity has been all too evident and they would have wanted to avoid criticism from world leaders.
‘In today’s ST page A6 there is a story about how the Indonesian government pressured major palm oil firms to roll back no deforestation pledges they made at the UN. I think this is actually a more important story than Jakarta’s belated acceptance of foreign assistance because it reveals something of the thinking and priorities of this Indonesian government.”

To the second comment, I’d add that there is a newspaper that a senior Indon official claimed that it turned down S’pore’s help initially because it didn’t want S’pore to claim credit for solving the problems.

Using that line of reasoning, one can assume that Indon officials will refuse to divulge the name of S’pore-based cos that it thinks is causing the haze. Doesn’t want S’pore to claim the credit for prosecuting them.

Which brings me to Terry Xu’s constructive suggestion to the S’pore govt.

“Zenata Putera, co-founder of local NGO, P.M Haze, said that while Indonesian authorities have said that there is a lack of information regarding the plots of land which companies own, NGOs have noted that such information is in fact available. He also said that it would be easier to work with the NGOs to resolve the haze-related issues than to go through the bureaucratic process.
What the Singapore government could probably do is to engage with the NGOs in Indonesia and to work out a plan to monitor errant companies. It could also help provide jobs for villagers who would be willing to work as firefighters and watchmen of the plantations to prevent fires or to testify against companies who run foul of the law.
The Singapore government has a duty to address the annual issue and to stop pushing the blame to “uneducated” villagers and companies that are almost never prosecuted in any way. The residents of Singapore deserves a better answer than being urged to bear with it and told that things are beyond our control.”

http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/09/is-spore-helpless-about-the-haze-not-really/

What Terry Xu is saying is this, “By-pass the Indonesian govt, work with the Indon NGOs to identify the criminals”

Good suggestion but following it will get the Indon govt further upset with us. Indonesia is so protective of its sovereignty that it refuses to provide the map co-ordinates of the areas where it alleges S’pore cos are breaking its law, when our govt wants the info to prosecute the alleged burners.

In dealing with the haze problem, there no win-win possiblities, only a choice of lesser evils.

Noble House: Funny this

In China, Commodities, Corporate governance, Emerging markets on 08/10/2015 at 1:38 pm

Noble House is HQed in HK, and listed in S’pore. But its new head of internal audit is based in Stamford, Connecticut in the US: huh? Given all the problems it is facing especially concerns about its accounting practices, I find it strange that the chief internal auditor is not based in its HQ, but a long way away.

The guy has good credentials as an internal audit manager but given that he’s based a lo9ng way from HQ, how is he going to manage his team? If he is employed more for his analytical skills rather than as as a hands-on mgr, why not appoint him as an adviser to the audit committee and the CEO.

Background

Noble has appointed a new head of internal audit. In an email Noble Group CEO Yusuf Alireza said Mr Frank Russo will take charge with effect from Monday (Oct 5).

Mr Russo will be based in Stamford, Connecticut in the US and he will report directly to Mr Alireza and the audit committee.

Mr Russo was previously at GE Capital, where he served as managing director and head of audit for the Energy, Aviation and Insurance businesses. Prior to GE, he spent over eight years at Deloitte and Touche as a senior advisor for Governance, Regulatory and Risk Strategy.

Three cheers for MoE for this googly

In Financial competency on 08/10/2015 at 3:28 am

Googly, for the uninitiated is a really wicked, evil  bowling movement where a cricket ball bowled as if to go  one way that actually breaks in the opposite way. It’s even more wicked, evil than the curveball in baseball or softball.

Below is the kind of question that should be included (and was) in a nation where tuition for one’s kids accepted fact of life as a means of keeping themahead of the rabble: the problem is that almost every kid tutored.

“Thinking cannot be taught” is a comment on this.

And it’s so hilarious that someone grumbled that the coins could be of different weights. Or that it’s an IQ question, not a maths question. “They can’t handle the possibility that their children are not smart enough, even though they themselves only have half the intellect.”

FYI, MOE justifies it by saying pupils are taught to estimate as part of their primary school education.

HSBC: Dividends/ StanChart is “Little India”

In Banks, India on 07/10/2015 at 10:01 am

From NYT Dealbook:

Skeptics of HSBC Dividend Are in for a Surprise The bank’s prospective dividend yield of about 6.5 percent is high, but investors worried about its payout shouldn’t fret much, Paul J. Davies writes in the Heard on the Street column.

FT reported that India is so impt to StanChart that it’s planning to set up a subsidiary so that it can expand its branch network there. A wag commented: “In Singapore there is an area known as “Little India” (I had lunch in the area yesterday). Go into the offices of StanChart’s regional office here and any S’porean would think that “Little India” has expanded into the Marina Bay area.”

S’poreans delusional?/ Oppo don’t win elections, govt loses elections

In Economy, Political governance on 07/10/2015 at 5:48 am

According to a recent poll of 200 students by Singapore employment website STJobs, 70% of all graduates surveyed expect a starting salary of up to 4,000 SGD (£1,800) a month at the very least.

In reality though, a starting salary for a young graduate is closer to a little more than half that amount. (BBC report)

The 70% figutre reminds me that 70% voted for Ah Loong. So maybe when Dr Chee called for the 30% anti-PAP vote not to be ignored*. he has a point. Maybe as a psychologist, he has come to the conclusion that 70% of the voters are delusional, juz like 70% of the grads (who must have voted for the PAP)?

What do you think?

Are the 70% of voters delusional?

After all GDP growth has been on the downtrend since 2011

GDP growth: 15.2% (2010), 6.2% (2011), 3.4% (2012), 4.4% (2013), 2.9% (2014)

Look at the large fall after 2011. As for 2011, DBS Bank and international ratings agency Moody’s are among those to have cut their outlook for Singapore’s GDP to below 2%. The official range forecast by the government is 2% to 2.5%.

Recession coming?

But let’s be serious. Maybe despite the slow-down in GDP, life has gotten better for the voters who voted for the PAP, especially the ones that gave ah Loong the 10 point swing?

The drubbing the PAP took in 2011 was taken to heart: faced with rising discontent over housing, immigration and transport, it resolved to rectify its ways. In just four years, 100,000 flats were built, rules on foreign workers tightened and billions of dollars spent on expanding transport services.

http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1858123/after-easy-election-victory-real-work-begins-singapore

It could have added the goodies (especially in healthcare) for the Pioneer Generation. An activist who during the GE went round talking to the old folks (many there in the HDB estate) in Mountbatten SMC, told me that they appreciated the benefits. The Chiams’ Party lost badly.

Which all shows that where the PAP goofed between the 2006 GE and the 2011 GE and PE was not to spend our money on ourselves:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/pms-speech-not-juz-a-change-of-format/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/scoring-pm-14-months-on/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/time-for-opposition-to-rethink-assumptions-lest-it-repents-after-next-ge/

“Oppositions don’t win elections, govt loses elections,” I once heard Dr Goh Keng Swee say. He was echoing the tots of politicians, analysts and strategists down the ages

——

*“At home, anger at the current political situation is palpable [Huh? OK on TRE] and some have resorted to action [TRE cybernuts are shoutong obscenities and cursing their fellow S’poreans? Nothing unusual there.] . If the PAP is content to label this group of citizens as the ‘noisy minority’, … For these people, the prospect of being unable to bring about political change through the ballot box only makes the PAP’s claim of legitimate power sound dangerously vacuous.”

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/will-the-real-sdp-dr-chee-pls-stand-up/

Ang moh cowboy bets against PRC

In China, Currencies on 06/10/2015 at 4:01 pm

A hedgie from Texas is betting big time against the yuan Dealbook reported:

BETTING ON FURTHER DEVALUATION OF RENMINBI Mark L. Hart III, a hedge fund investor based in Texas, has made high-risk, high-return wagers that the United States housing market would collapse and that Greece would go bankrupt. His most audacious gamble to date might be his bet on a 50 percent currency implosion in China, Landon Thomas Jr. reports in DealBook.

He predicts that the extreme drop will come when foreign investors pull their money out of China, propelling a broader rout in emerging market currencies and bringing on a sustained global slump.

And he is not the only one. An increasing number of investors think thetrillions of dollars that went into risky investment opportunitiesin countries like China, Brazil and Turkey are quickly leaving. They think the pace will pick up when the Federal Reserve eventually raises interest rates, leading to plunges in currencies, corporate defaults and a global slowdown.

John H. Burbank III, a longtime emerging-market investor at Passport Capital, a $4 billion hedge fund in San Francisco, has earned stellar returns this year betting on weak commodities, and imploding emerging markets and currencies.

At the root of these investment strategies is the belief that China’s 3 percent currency devaluation was not a one-time event.

These investors think China is experiencing a run on the bank, similar to what happened to Asian countries in 1997 when their semi-pegged currencies collapsed. They also think the country’s $3.5 trillion of foreign exchange reserves will not be enough to prevent a large-scale rout.

In the first quarter of this year, $109 billion left Chinese banks for overseas institutions, according to the Bank for International Settlements, a clearinghouse for global central banks.

China has been at the forefront of the so-called carry trade, in which corporations and countries tap dollar-based lenders and invest the proceeds in higher-yielding assets denominated in local currencies, like real estate, commodities and large-scale investments. As long as interest rates in the United States remain low and emerging-market currencies remain strong, these trades have been highly profitable.

Mr. Hart calculates that the size of the Chinese carry trade is around $2 trillion and as he sees it, the dollars that have flowed into China must flow out again.

China’s foreign currency reserve ratio – in effect its net cash available to defend against speculators – is just a bit over 20 percent, putting it in the neighborhood of countries known to be vulnerable to capital outflows, like Brazil, Turkey and South Africa.

“If there is a run on the currency, everyone will want to turn their yuan into dollars,” said Jurgen Odenius, the chief economist of Prudential Fixed Income. Yuan is a shorthand reference to China’s currency, the renminbi. “And on that basis, China’s foreign exchange reserves do not rank among the stronger countries.”

Still, it is not certain that Mr. Hart’s bet will pay off. The Federal Reserve’s reluctance to increase interest rates could weaken the dollar and take the pressure off China and other emerging-market currencies.

The next PM has been unveiled

In Economy, Political governance on 06/10/2015 at 5:04 am

Bang yr balls, PAPpy Indians and ang moh tua kees.The next PM is NOT going to be Tharman despite all the flattery that the ang mohs are giving him.

The next PM is going to be the newly-appointed Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Look at the evidence

— The committee on “The Future Economy” will be chaired by newly-appointed Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. The commitee will review policy measures that have been in place since 2010, and aims to help create more good jobs for workers and help firms in adapting to a lean workforce, among other future challenges.

Ah Loong, many trs ago,  chaired the economic restructuring committee when he was being groomed as the next PM.  He was then the trade and industry minister.

— Do remember that Ah Heng headed NatCon: Our Singapore Conversation was a national conversation  announced by PM in 2012. Mr Heng Swee Keat, the then Singapore Minister for Education was appointed to lead the committee that led (guided?) the conversations with S’poreans to create “a home with hope and heart”.

Which other minister has been given so much public exposure?

Finally, a cheerleader and paid-up member of the PAPpy (PAP and pro-PAP) Indians, and a leader of the Indian media mafia controlling the constructive, nation-building media wrote recently, in sorrow and defiance:

Shanmugaratnam is going to be the Cabinet’s trump card. As Co-ordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, he will play an extremely key role in how the country charts its future trajectory. With ministries like Finance, Trade and Industry, Manpower, Education, Social and Family Development coming under the former Finance Minister’s overall purview, the PM is signalling to Singaporeans that Shanmugaratnam is the man to watch. Never mind that he won’t become the next PM but if he pulls it off, history will reflect on this as the Shanmugaratnam moment when the seeds were planted for him to become the real architect of tomorrow’s Singapore. Like Goh Keng Swee became when he plotted the economic transformation of a newly-independent Singapore.

http://six-six.com/article/new-cabinet-a-reality-check

I like what Tharman did as Finance Minister, and his liberal views. But this guy and the ang mohs praising Tharman and their S’pore lackeys should be fair to our Ah Loong.

He gave Tharman the backing that only a PM without his reactionary minders (Father, Goh, Can’t Sing and Kumar), could give. As I’ve said before, the post 2011 GE cabinet was really Ah Loong’s first where he didn’t have anyone trying to be a back sit driver.

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

Glencore: Why up the creek without a plan C

In China, Commodities on 05/10/2015 at 10:13 am

NYT Dealbook

GLENCORE HAS YET TO CONVINCE INVESTORS The panicked sell-off may have stopped, but Glencore, the Swiss mining and trading company, still needs to convince investors and analysts that it is out of the danger zone, Stanley Reed reports in The New York Times.

The problems that have sent the stock reeling this summer remain, from its heavy debt load to the slowing Chinese demand for commodities. And, as Bloomberg News reports, investors are nervous that the 29 percent plunge in its share price could happen again.

Analysts doubt that Glencore is unable to pay its debt, but it will remain under pressure until it can address investors concerns about it.

The company has moved to cut its debt*, but this may not be enough. Commodity prices may have farther to fall and Glencore is dependent on forces that it cannot control.

Many have also struggled to explain exactly why the company’s stock should have plunged so suddenly on Monday. The fear that the drop caused reminded people of the moment that Lehman collapsed, a trader told Bloomberg News.

The company is trying to get back to business as usual, but damage has been done. Sellers of default insurance on Glencore bonds are demanding more compensation for the risk than a month ago.

A failure to deliver about three million pounds of cotton owed to Noble Agri, a rival commodities trader, has also intensified the spotlight on Glencore, The Financial Times reports.

That happened in May before the recent turmoil, but Glencore may have to pay a financial penalty and the failure to deliver comes at a delicate moment. Glencore is trying to sell a minority stake in its agricultural business, which includes cotton trading, to help pay its debt.

——————-

*It sold stock and cancelled its dividend and closed mines.

Making Every Primary School A Good School

In Uncategorized on 05/10/2015 at 5:10 am

Even the most hardcore PAP voting parent can’t believe “Every School A Good School” unless he or she is as stupid as an anti-PAP cybernut like TRE’s Oxygen or Dosh or their hero Roy. What with elite schools and six- yr programmes, “Every School A Good School” sounds like another comment by would-be comedian Tharman. “Every School A Good School”: so why got elite schools and six-yr programmes?

—————————————————————————————————————Every School A Good School

Our goal in education is to provide every child with the opportunity to develop holistically and maximise his or her potential. In creating opportunities for all, MOE will ensure that every school is a good school.

(MOE website)

———————————————————————————————————————

Here’s a simple, elegant but radical solution that will every neighbourhood primary school a great school.

Let the top pupils at every primary school be guaranteed admission to RI or Hwa Chong; let the next-ranked pupils at each school take a spot at the next-most competitive secondary school, and so on. Those from the “poorer” schools (schools where the bulk of parents earn the median wage or less) may have lower test scores, but, given their circumstances, they will have actually achieved more than those whose parents pay and pay for tuition etc.

This will encourage the kids in neigbourhood primary schools to do their best (which is a good thing in itself: and very hard to encourage) and striking a blow for meritocracy.  The kids do not have to accept their lot in life. Aspiration or “You don’t have to set limits on your talent and your ambition” isn’t juz meaningless drivel*.

Teachers at these schools will be motivated to do their best.

There is a play running in London about the angst that parents are facing in choosing where to educate their kids.

Alia [a scholar-type kid and FT] offers a simple solution: let the top pupils at every school, whether Eton [A really posh school where the UK’s elite send their kids to. The present PM’s old school] or a failing comprehensive [think neighbourhood school in a HDB estate where the residents earn less than the median wage], be guaranteed admission to Oxford or Cambridge; let the next-ranked pupils at each school take a spot at the next-most competitive universities, and so on. Those from the poorer schools may have lower test scores, but, given their circumstances, they will have actually achieved more than those whose parents stuffed a bassoon into their hands to help their chances at a posh school or university.

Alia’s solution has an appeal, not only for the pupils or the university, but for those poor anguished parents. To encourage the kids to do their best is hard enough without trying to game the system at the same time. Such a radical change could not only rebalance parents’ incentives, but the schools’ (and top universities’) populations themselves, striking a blow for meritocracy. But like any radical reform, it faces so many entrenched interests that it is unlikely to get a shot.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2015/09/review-future-conditional

Yes of course, every secondary school can be a good school too by using the above method for entry to yr 5 and 6 in elite schools, and JCs, but that will will mean giving less room to six-yr programmes, so one step at a time.

For starters, let’s make Every Primary School A Good School. After all we have a new Acting Minister of Education (Schools). He’d surely want to win his spurs to be in the running to be a future PM? But then his priority might be to avoid becoming another Lui or the CEO of NOL?

———————

*The Ministry of Education (MOE) will work towards making the education system more diverse, by taking into account “not just top down national needs but also bottom-up aspirations”, said Acting Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, the other acting minister. [Added at 6.45am]

Noble House: More empty rooms

In Accounting, China, Commodities on 04/10/2015 at 2:15 pm

Oct 2 Noble Group’s global head of M&A has resigned from the company, marking a string of recent senior level departures at the commodities trader as it battles weak prices of resources, people familiar with the matter said on Friday …

On Thursday, Reuters quoted sources as saying that two senior U.S.-based energy executives had left Noble in the past week.

Noble hit the spotlight in February when blogger Iceberg Research questioned its accounting practices. Noble defended its financials, and board-appointed consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers found no wrongdoing in a report published in August.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/02/noble-group-executives-departure-idUSL3N12217L20151002

Not a good day to be averaging down on Monday.

Haze: La Nina riding to the rescue?

In Environment, Indonesia on 04/10/2015 at 4:25 am

So the Indon officials say they don’t need our help despite the VP sayinfg S’pore should help and despite firefighters saying they lack eqpt. Allah is sending in La Nina earlier than expected.

Coming in 2016, El Nino’s other half: heavy rains among other things.

Map: effects of La Nina on commodities

Haze: Indon officials that cock meh?

In Indonesia on 03/10/2015 at 4:32 am

Indonesia has enough resources to fight the forest fires that are causing the haze in the region, and does not need the assistance offered by Singapore at this time, Indonesian officials told a Singapore delegation on Thursday (Oct 1). CNA

Strange as

— Tot Indon VP told S’pore to help, not juz bitch: OK he said Indon was open to help, but that implies that it needs help. So officials now saying he talk cock king?

— These fire fighters say they don’t have the resources to put out the fires in their area http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34341012

Wish HoHoHo had paid heed, not gone on sabbatical

In China, Temasek on 02/10/2015 at 12:37 pm

What with HoHOHO coming back from leave at the end of October, Temasek’s continuing to double down on China and all the carnage that worries about China are causing in global financial and commodity markets, I tot this NYT Dealbook piece from sometime back is timely.

A PRESCIENT WARNING ON CHINA Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard University, accurately predicted the eurozone debt crisis and has long warned of a potential financial crisis in China. It’s starting to look like he’s right again, Andrew Ross Sorkin writes in the DealBook column.

Mr. Rogoff has made a career of studying financial crises and co-wrote “This Time Is Different,” a seminal book that examined eight centuries of financial crises. He and his co-author, Carmen M. Reinhart, contended that every financial crisis stems from the same problem: too much debt.

“China is the classic ‘This time is different’ story,” Mr. Rogoff said, rattling off all the different rationalizations for why the country convinced itself – and many others – that it could load up on debt but was somehow immune to the laws of economic gravity.

Mr. Rogoff is not the first to identify China as a risk. Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former Treasury secretary and a Sinophile, and the hedge fund manager James Chanos have also been sounding the alarm on China.

The country’s debt load rose from $7 trillion in 2007 to $28 trillion by mid-2014, according to a report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, China. “At 282 percent of G.D.P., China’s debt as a share of G.D.P., while manageable, is larger than that of the United States or Germany,” the firm said in a report. “Several factors are worrisome: Half of loans are linked directly or indirectly to China’s real estate market, unregulated shadow banking accounts for nearly half of new lending, and the debt of many local governments is likely unsustainable.”

The question now is how interconnected China is with the rest of the world economy. And in spite of the tumultuous state of the market, Mr. Rogoff says he believes that the recent weeks have raised the prospects of a meaningful crisis. But with China’s trillions of dollars in reserves, he thinks the country may have sufficient tools to prevent a calamity that spreads across the globe – at least for now.

“If you had to bet,” Mr. Rogoff said, “you’d still bet they’d pull it out.”

As a S’porean, I hope his last remark turns out to be correct.

Tuition nation: System not at fault?

In Uncategorized on 02/10/2015 at 5:18 am

There is a lot of angst about the amount of time and money that is spent on tuition, despite the PAP administration’s claim that “Every school is a good school”.

As usual the anti-PAP activists and cybernuts blame the PAP administration, and on this issue there are parents among the 70% that voted for the PAP who agree.

But it could be the racial and cultural mix here that is to blame.

A UK study seems to indicate that Indian and Chinese parents are really pushy

By the age of 11, some 22% of children were receiving help from private tutors – but again there were differences along ethnic lines:

  • white – 20%
  • Pakistani or Bangladeshi – 29%
  • Indian – 42%
  • black – 47%
  • Chinese or other minority ethnic – 48%

Most 11-year-olds spent one to two hours a week on homework.

Some spent five hours or more, but again this varied on ethnic lines:

  • white – 7%
  • Pakistani or Bangladeshi – 8%
  • black – 20%
  • Indian – 24%
  • Chinese or other minority ethnic – 25%

http://www.bbc.com/news/education-34259034

Given that 70% of the population here are Chinese, and 7% Indians (including Indian Muslims), the reason for the high levels of tuition seems simple: “It’s culture and race”. Don’t blame the education system that the PAP administration devised? Try telling this to Mad Dog Chee or TOC?

Another piece of supporting evidence that Chinese and Indian parents are to be blamed, not the PAP administration. Sometime back I read about a Malay lady who conducted classes for Malay parents so that they could help their kids with homework. One mum said that the course tot her how difficult was “modern” maths and she was less demanding on her kid for failing to do well. Err would any Chinese or Indian mum agree with what this singleton thinks is a very enlightened attitude to take?

Btw, Wonder if this applies here?

Extra tuition also broke down according to background:

  • children whose mother had a post-graduate degree – 30%
  • children whose mother had no qualifications – 19%

 

 

VW: What when wrong

In Corporate governance on 01/10/2015 at 2:05 pm

From NYT’s Dealbook

VOLKSWAGEN’S AMBITION-FUELED SCANDAL Four years ago, Martin Winterkorn announced Volkswagen’s intentions to triple sales in the United States in just a decade. Its plan to do that involved a bet on diesel-powered cars, promising high mileage and low emissions without sacrificing performance. That unbridled ambition has become central to what is becoming one of the great corporate scandals of the age, Danny Hakim, Aaron M. Kessler and Jack Ewing report in The New York Times.

The current crisis has its roots in decisions made almost a decade ago. In 2007, Volkswagen ditched the pollution-control technology developed by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch in favor of internal technology. At the time, Mr. Winterkorn’s determination to surpass Toyota put enormous strain on managers to deliver growth in America. The carmaker needed to build the larger cars favored by the American market, while complying with stricter standards on mileage.

Even as Volkswagen cheated behind the scenes, it publicly espoused its virtues. Advertisements focused on how entertaining, quiet, efficient and clean diesel cars were. It spent $77 billion this year promoting its diesel cars – almost 45 percent of its total for television ad spending, Jad Mouawad and Sydney Ember report in The New York Times.

When confronted with evidence that its system was not performing as promised, Volkswagen aggressively pushed back. It said regulators were not testing properly.

The same year Mr. Winterkorn announced the ambitious plans for the United States, officials from California’s environmental regulator heard about a problem from their European Union counterparts. They were finding discrepancies between the emissions of diesels in the lab and on the road, across the industry. In 2013, the International Council on Clean Transportation, a nonprofit group, proposed testing on-road diesel emissions from cars in the United States. Californian regulators teamed up with them.

The transportation council had not expected to catch anyone cheating. It had hoped to promote a success story for diesel, then put pressure on carmakers in Europe to improve their own emissions.

They tested two Volkswagens and a BMW, and the Volkswagens did not perform well. Yet when they were put on a “car treadmill,” they performed flawlessly.

The California regulators alerted the Environmental Protection Agency and opened an investigation. Volkswagen struck back aggressively, and they went back and forth for months. In April, Volkswagen offered to conduct a voluntary recall in certain models. That did not fix the problem so theregulators changed tack, examining the software, and discovering a parallel set of instructions for emissions controls.

Government officials increased pressure on the company, threatening to withhold approval for its 206 Volkswagen and Audi diesel models. This forced Volkswagen to admit it had installed software to cheat on emissions tests. The revelations were serious, but even some executives at Volkswagen Group of America were kept in the dark about the E.P.A. violation until just before it was announced.

Brain structures of PM, ministers & TRE cybernuts

In Political governance on 01/10/2015 at 5:26 am

Trying to understand why some people are incapable of learning from their mistakes, neuroscientists in Albuquerque, New Mexico, scanned the brains of 96 convicts. In repeat offenders, they discovered, an obscure quarter of the brain known as the anterior cingulate cortex was barely active, the Economomist (the PAP’s go-to manual) reports.

It would be interesting to carry out the experiment on the brains of anti PAP paper warriors like Oxygen* and his the cybernuts from TRELand. Going by the comments on TRE, they are still in denial, believing that the economy will collapse before the next GE, and that the voters will turn against the PAP.

Oxygen’s latest rant is a good example

The margin is, therefore, much smaller and vulnerable to reversal than the media hype portrays. Neither the intensity of pain nor the gaping wound festering since the 2011 GE is healing. Beneath the anger and fear driven swing, the burning issues of immigration, healthcare, CPF, costs of living escalation etc, etc is still in the boiling cauldron – nothing dissipated after the election. [He means that the 30% are still upset. Why should that matter, they are the born losers.)

The result gave PAP a fractured angry landscape [He ignores the 70%] to work on another 5 years. You still got another 5 years to show real performance or else! Those election lollies you gave us and cosmetic policy adaptations like PGP and CPF tweaking since 2011 won’t necessary save your skin the next round.

… Remember, PAP is in the driver’s seat.  It is its sole pallbearer now – for better or worst.

Until the next 5 years, I see PAP as very much in the mould of a lone walking political corpse waiting to be buried if it does not perform for this much-celebrated “ringing endorsement” of mandate, granted grudgingly and accidentally of a pushback from a mob of aggrieved voters in a freak election outcome.

Contrast this ranting with the actions of PAP after GE 2011

The drubbing the PAP took in 2011 was taken to heart: faced with rising discontent over housing, immigration and transport, it resolved to rectify its ways. In just four years, 100,000 flats were built, rules on foreign workers tightened and billions of dollars spent on expanding transport services**.

http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1858123/after-easy-election-victory-real-work-begins-singapore

The above was written in the South China Morning Post, no fan of the PAP (It’s one those ang moh tua kee papers in HK. It was a cheer leader of the British wgen they ruled HK, and is now irrelevant. I quoted it to show that critics (if they are rational) have conceded that it changed.

Clearly, the brain structure of Oxygen and his fellow nutters resemble that of the repeat offenders. They never learn. But taz why they are born losers, part of the 30% angry at everything except their own stupidity.

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*When S’pore was sharing the grief of the parents whose children died in Sabah, he was dancing and screaming that they (the parents) got what they deserved. Why? They signed the indemnity forms.

**Interesting it went on to put the margin of victory down to regional uncertainties  and the “trust” factor. Of course it uses the term “fears for the future”.

But even then, amid the clamour by young voters on social media for change and the determination of opposition parties to make an all-out bid for power by for the first time contesting most parliamentary seats, there was no assurance of regaining lost ground. Timing the snap poll amid the sentiment evoked by the passing of the elder Lee, Singapore’s founding father, and in the 50th year of nationhood, was not in itself a winning strategy for the PAP. What tipped the result was the silent majority’s fears for the future. The outlook for the economy amid China’s slowdown is less than rosy. Nor is there certainty for the region, with political turmoil in Malaysia, the source of most of the island’s water, and rising Indonesian nationalism.