Archive for February, 2016|Monthly archive page

Putting Kee Chiu in his place

In Uncategorized on 29/02/2016 at 12:43 pm

When addressing university students, minister-without-portfolio and NTUC chief Chan Chun Sing chided S’poreans for being obsessed with academic grades.

He cited the example of the management team at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), saying they do not have straights As results, and Singaporeans should emulate them by constantly thinking about “who is going to take their lunch”.

He grumbled,

I spoke to group of parents who said the system was too difficult, too rigid, too much tuition… So I asked, ‘Will you stop sending your son to tuition?’ And they said yes, they will stop if their neighbours stop first.

…Don’t become a yardstick society in which we aimlessly, blindly chase goals regardless of what we’re good at.

…This is something I fear for our society – where everyone goes after the same thing, the same yardstick, and we end up in what sociologists call a ‘prisoner’s dilemma’.

But the former SAF scholar and Chief of Army also talked about Singapore’s brand of “meritocracy” by citing himself as an example of “a single-parent family child” attaining success.

But what if he hadn’t scored good grades? As a TRE reader gvbhunjimk put it: Kee Chiu, in the first place you yourself try going to ITE/stop schooling right after secondary school/study in private see if you today still can get to become a minister and paper general with same speed/possible at all. If it can, then you come talk to us.

Another reader skin so thick put it this way: Why does this toy soldier general thinks he can lecture against the obsession with grades when it is his grades that got him the OMS & PS? Did he not himself all out pursue his quest for academic excellence = top grades in his salad days, knowing a scholarship will get him and his family out of the working class enclave of Macpherson HDB estate?

If he doesn’t feel awkward about giving such advice, there is something wrong about him. Maybe, as i see it, he came from the bottom 10%, single parent family, poor, no social status, no power, no authority, a nobody. Once he became a scholar, overnight, and on a fast track, everything changed for him. Now he has money, power, authority, career, political star. In between, there is a chasm, from nothing to everything. Perhaps it explains why sometimes, he seems … nouveau riche.

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Someone who benefited (and still benefis) from the PAP administration’s fixation with academic results, should not tell “strivers” not to strive for similar excellence. Is he trying to close the door after he has become part of the natutal aristocracy?  Whatever, his remarks smack of hyprocisy and invites ridicule. Not the way to bcome a future PM or even a DPM.

Leave the clowning to s/o JBJ, Dr Chee or M Ravi.

Some other good comments by TRE readers

Xmen: The whole education system (e.g. streaming, admissions) is based on grades. What is he talking about?

eltmg: Monetary Authority of Singapore study of the top echelons, does this includes our GLCs, GICs, stat boards, cabinet ministers?

Which parents does not want to groom their children for the opportunity to have the career path you are on?

Mr Chan, pls share with us what you need to do to get a SAF scholarship. This would be a great guide to all parents in Singapore.

nihon: how stupid can he be?

first, he said, ‘the poor need concern not money.’

now, ‘no need 4 As’. so can psc award scholahsleep without considering the grades? hypocrite.

no one has 4 As at mas cos they are the older generation, where 2 As and 2 Bs could score a scholahsleep.

now, 4 As also can’t get any awards, unless with distinctions in s papers and eca/cca scores.

unless you belong …

people has broken the A level code. its just a rote learning exercise. the whole system does not develop thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs. only exam smart clowns and useless bookworms.




S’porean has elegant solution to eco problem

In Uncategorized on 29/02/2016 at 5:39 am

Like to drink coffeee pod coffeee while wanting to save our rain-forest in a city?  You are a hypocrite.

The pods is eco-unfriendly because the plastic and aluminium coffee pod are difficult to recycle. Also 6g of coffeeand 3g of packaging isn’t exactly eco-friendly or a good use of resources.

There are novel alternatives to the  on the market. Eason Chow, a Singapore-based designer, proposed replacing the plastic cup with dissolvable sugar, much like a gumball. “The amount of packaging wastage is shocking,” he said.

Constructive retirement? Plug for the PAP?

In Uncategorized on 28/02/2016 at 2:08 pm

Go to TRE, TOC etc and KPKB about the PAP administration. ))))

The above appeared as a comment to the following Facebook message

Experiencing retirement blues? Here are some ways to keep yourself happy and healthy in your golden years. ‪#‎WhatsYourPlan‬

Life doesn’t come to a standstill at retirement. Being fit and socially active will keep you happy and healthy.
Seriously, what a dumb picture to illostrate “Howto  spend your time constructively after retirement”. Watching tv in a group? Being fit and socially active will keep you happy and healthy: and be fit and socially active by watching tv with other retirrees? Come on.
The sad thing is that based on the activities suggested, a better picture or better still an interesting montage can be shown.
After all, the suggestions include:
— [Y]ou can finally pursue interests that have been on the backburner. If you have been yearning to play an instrument, hone your photography skills or improve your cooking or gardening skills, now is the time to do it. On top of making new friends, picking up new skills invigorates you mentally and emotionally.

Travelling can also be a treat, now that you have all the time in the world to explore new places. It’s a great opportunity to bond with family members or reconnect with old buddies.

— If you were too busy to squeeze in regular workouts in the past, there is no excuse now. Staying active and mobile means you can lessen the risk of injury and illnesses like heart disease. Plus, you can continue to keep up with simple pleasures, such as playing with the grandkids, walking to nearby shops and taking the stairs. Low impact sports like swimming, brisk walking, dancing, tai chi and yoga are great for easing you into an active lifestyle.

— [I]f giving back to the community sparks your interest, be sure to check out our guide to volunteering opportunities in Singapore.

But the govt site also advertised this for the PAP PA: To meet like-minded retirees, you can check out the People’s Association Senior Citizens’ Executive Committee (SCECs), Singapore’s largest seniors’ network. They organise a wide array of activities, such as sports, dance and even a Wellness Programme to encourage you to go for regular health screenings.

Didn’t one Harry Lee say that the PAP and PA were intertwinned?



Ideas for Amos and SDP

In Uncategorized on 28/02/2016 at 7:13 am

Here I suggested that the SDP stops wayanging and start producing videos to educaye students. And that it could use Amos the boy fantastic to produce the videp

Here’s something that the SDP and Amos could imitate

According to the BBC, the  coming Irish elections have the candidates using weird and wonderful online campaign videos. My favourite is

The County Kildare candidate’s three-minute promo is a full-blown Back to the Future parody, with Mr Heydon getting accosted by ‘Doc Brown’ who arrives in a DeLorean.

“Quick Marty, you’ve got to come with me,” he cries. “The future of Kildare South and the country depends on it.”

In this alternative timeline, it isn’t Biff Tannen and his sports almanac threatening the future but the possibility Mr Heydon won’t be re-elected.

Meanwhile, Doc Brown is less concerned with getting plutonium to fuel the DeLorean’s flux capacitor than getting a ring road built so he can get up to 88mph.


Not afraid of 99-yr lease ending

In Property on 27/02/2016 at 9:46 am

Afraid of redeveloment

I refer to this which was recirculated again in mid Feb.

This reminded me of the Bras Basah Complex HDB flat I tot of buying.

In 2014, I heard they were going “cheap” because the tenure left meant that only cash could be used. They were value for money (I can’t remember the asking prices): roomy and juz round the corner from Taffles City etc, and with nearby facilities for oldies like my mum and me (in time to come). I wasn’t too concerned  about the remaining tenure as I calculated that I wasn’t going to be around to see the expiry. I considered the putchase price as “rent” paid in advance.

What stopped me from buying one was simple. What if the govt bought back the flats to redevelop the area? I’d lose serious money. It happened at the nearby Rochor Centre.



Doctor Wealth loves CPF/ Invests in STI ETF

In CPF, ETFs, Financial competency, Financial planning on 26/02/2016 at 2:28 pm

Here’s something that I dug up from my archives of unused stuff. This praise of CPF appeared in 2014 at

“I have been blessed with a fabulous defined retirement plan”

Like all working Singaporeans, I contribute to CPF (Central Provident Fund), our mandatory national social security plan. CPF is made up of 3 separate accounts: Ordinary (OA), Special (SA) and Medisave (MA). Each month when I am working, I make the maximum possible contribution to CPF and eventually when I retire, CPF will pay me back a monthly annuity income. My OA had been used to pay for my housing mortgage, but SA remains untouched, and my MA pays for medical insurances.

Each year, I also contribute the maximum $12750 into my SRS (Supplementary Retirement Scheme) account. This voluntary contribution must be done with cash and provides a tax relief that reduces my tax bill. SRS is a form of forced savings as early withdrawal from the account attracts penalties.

Unlike the CPF that pays a risk free 2.5% to 5%, the SRS pay a very low interest, so I invest my SRS funds for higher yields. I sink my SRS money, using a RSP (regular savings plan), into the STI ETF (Straits Time Index exchange traded fund). What happens is that by the end of each year, I will contribute the maximum $12750 into my SRS account, and in the following year after my contribution, $1000 will be deducted every month automatically and bought into the low cost index fund, the STI ETF. In this way, the process is automated and I avoid timing the market too.

I treat my CPF as a form of bond, as it pays a decent risk free rate. The OA pays 2.5%, while the SA and MA pays 4%. There is an additional 1% paid to the first 60000 dollars. In the long run, with the magic of compounding interest, the amount in my retirement account can be significant. Contributing to my SRS gives me a tax saving and I do not actively manage my investment of the SRS money, as I feed them into the Singapore stock market automatically and regularly with a RSP. Together, my CPF and SRS plans will ensure that I will have 2 strong pillars for my retirement planning.

Re his faith in STI ETF, it’s clear that  Dr Wealth does not subscribe to the Econoist and FT (Too poor isit?). There have been some articles quoting research that indicates that shares may not be the best long term. Example: investment

As of February 2013, the longest period of negative real returns from US equities was 16 years. But it was 19 years for global equities (and 37 for world ex-US), 22 for Britain, 51 for Japan, 55 for Germany and 66 for France. Such periods are much longer than most small investors would have the patience to wait.

Another way of looking at the same issue is whether equities beat bonds over the long term; whether the risk premium is really delivered.

The answer is not really.


Easy way of avoiding rogue presidents

In Political governance on 25/02/2016 at 1:31 pm

No need to change the constitution. Juz no preferred candidates who were NTUC secretary-generals.

The two presidents that disgraced the presidency were ex-PAP leaders who were NTUC leaders. Devan was drunk when he fondled the Chief Minister’s of Sarawak’s wife in Sarawak at an official dinner.

Ong had an unhealthy obsession about the extent of his powers as jaga in chief. I’ve always tot that he was wasting everybody’s time on the issue of immovable assets and the sale of POSB to DBS. One of these days, I’ll blog on his obsession about keeping the reserves locked up from S’poreans. He wanted us to starve while looking at the gold, noses pressed onto the reinforced plate-glass? See no touch isit?

Tony Tan is an ex-PAP leader and was a leading member of the cabinet. He is doing what the president should do. and (touch wood) he’ll end his presidency on a high note, making the PAP and S’poreans proud that we had an ex-PAP leader who dignified the office, not degraded it, something Ong and Devan did.

They may have been part of the nation-building team of the PAP but they ended their public careers on a really low note esp Devan. Perhaps they went mad in their NTUC days, trying to manage their role as the champion of the workers with their role as senior managers in Harry’s city?

As to the other presidents, non-politicians all, they all upheld the dignity of the office, performing their duties quietly without getting drunk, fondling women or picking fights with the government that had no legal basis. For the last,  there are others who can do the job. There was JBJ, and today there are s/o JBJ, M Ravi, Roy Ngerng and New Citizen and FT Han Hui Hui.

Double confirm, Ah Loong is lucky

In Economy on 24/02/2016 at 3:56 pm

Oil prices collapsed at the right time.

Here I pointed out how lucky Ah Loong was in calling a GE in 2015 before the global economy took a turn for the worse. Here’s another example of his luck.

Recently, while searching my online archives for some historical data, I came across a note to self that I wrote in very late 2014 referencing a piece in the constructive, nation-building media that reported the slow growth in wages since 2011. I commented to self on how this slow growth in real wages would affect the elections in 2015 (Remember by then I had predicted a  GE in 2015.). Nominal wage growth barely compensated for the growth in inflation. Inflation was a problem.

I tot that the slow real wage growth since 2011 reported in the article would mean that it would not be possible for the PAP to win big in coming GE.

But were the economists (they are still employed in the banks today) quoted in the report wrong, very wrong because in 2015:

The median Singaporean worker has seen “significant real income growth” in the last five years – a “really quite unusual” performance when most other countries have seen little or even negative income growth, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Since 2010, after the global financial crisis, the median household income in Singapore has grown by 18 per cent in real terms – that is, after adjusting for the increase in the cost of living, he noted at a walkabout at Taman Jurong on Sunday (Sep 3) evening.

“We’ve seen very unusual sustained income growth in real terms, not just for the people at the top, but for the middle class – and in fact, the households in the low-income group have seen slightly faster real income growth than those in the middle,” he said. (CNA)

(I assume he was using the data summarised here.) Note this was said days before the GE.

— The bi-annual survey compiled by Towers Watson’s Data Services Practice also revealed that in real terms, salaries in Singapore will rise 4.4 per cent. The salary increase budget for 2016 is expected to increase 4.5 per cent, according to the survey. (CNA in May 2015).

The collapse in inflation in 2014 and 2015 due to the collapse in oil prices starting in October 2014 changed everything when it came to real wages because even if wage increases were “peanuts”, the collapse in inflation would ensure that wages went up in real terms. And the nominal increase in wages were not “peanuts”: The total wage increase in 2014 stemmed from a basic wage gain of 4.9% in 2014 (a slight decrease from 5.1% in 2013), while bonuses remained unchanged at 2.21 months of basic wages in 2014. (NWC Guidelines 2015/ 2016 published in May 2015)

If anyone is interested, here’s my note to self (Explanation: The Italic bits are the original article which paints a really gloom picture of real wages (remember oil prices had started falling only three months earlier in October 2014). The words in normal font were my comments at the time:

Why not possible for PAP to win early elections big

The PAP is deluded if thinks can win big in an early election. Real wage growth has been slow, really slow.

It’s not the usual suspects raising the issue but the constructive, nation-building media allied to the PAP administration.

For those who have placed the blame for slow wage growth squarely on cheap imported labour, this year’s headline figures in manpower would have been sobering  Despite sharp pullbacks in manpower inflows in the past few years – to the extent that the percentage of vacancies being filled by Singaporeans rather than foreigners this year hit its highest level since 2011 [Can believe Mom’s data meh?].- average pay cheques, after adjusting for inflation, grew by only 0.4 per cent amid tight labour market conditions.

And if Singapore’s struggles with boosting productivity persist, the picture on the wage growth front next year is unlikely to be any rosier, said economists, especially given the poor global economic outlook. The impending cessation of the Wage Credit Scheme (WCS), which subsidises firms for pay raises, will add another chokehold …

The reality

“Companies don’t want their margin to be squeezed. They want to save more, hold on to a profit margin, to prepare for the next year when there’s no more WCS,” said UOB economist Francis Tan. “Once you increase the wages, it will be hard to move them down again. And if the workers are still not as productive as you want them to be, it can be quite dangerous for the existence of the company.”

Labour productivity contracted 0.8 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter, worse than the 0.3 per cent fall in the first half, figures from the Ministry of Manpower showed. The first half of last year registered a 1.3 per cent decline, but this improved to 0.8 per cent growth in the second half.

Why productivity matters [Update in 2016: Still matters, low inflation not withstanding]

The repercussions of flagging productivity, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned, could extend to the whole of the Republic’s economy. With the tightening of the tap on foreign workers pushing up wages more quickly than productivity, not only will firms pass on the higher costs to consumers, but Singapore’s potential growth and competitiveness could also suffer a blow, the IMF said.

FTs needed

DBS economist Irvin Seah noted: “Businesses are unable to pursue more orders because of this labour crunch. This will also prevent them from increasing their top-line, unless the productivity of the existing manpower is able to improve.”

Besides sluggish productivity growth, OCBC’s Ms Selena Ling said companies face pressure from higher rental costs. Singapore is expected to top the rental forecast for Asia-Pacific cities, with a 25 per cent increase in office rents from this year to 2019, based on a report from property consultancy Knight Frank in September.

In adjusting to these costs, business will take into account the differing flexibility of the various types of business costs. Between rental and wage costs, wages provide a “little bit more room for negotiation”, said Ms Ling.

Agreeing, Mr Tan said many companies have been moving towards higher variable components in wages to help buffer against economic cycles.

Workers who benefit from WCS – those earning below S$4,000 – are not considered as vulnerable as low-wage workers. But given the modest growth prospects next year, some economists speculate that the Government could extend the scheme.

“At this moment, it looks like the United States is showing signs of much more broad-based sustained recovery, while the rest of the world is in different stages of recovery and slowdown,” noted CIMB Research economist Song Seng Wun.

Mr Seah, however, noted that the WCS, which represents a form of government transfer, was never meant to last and that the more sustainable approach to boost workers’ pay is to equip them with the right skills.

PAP returns to its roots

“Although I think our fiscal policies are gradually becoming more socialistic in nature, I think the Government has continued to emphasise the need for self-sufficiency and the notion of meritocracy,” he said. “I think such principles should continue to remain the hallmark of our economic policies.”

Employers kanna pay and pay

Indeed, firms have had no choice but to paymore in the stretched labour market, which workers have been quick to capitalise on.

“And it’s not just the blue-collar workers, but the senior and middle management too,” said RecruitPlus Consulting’s managing director, Mr Adrian Tan.

But inflation is rising too, so no real wage growth/ Growth/ What growrh?

Mr Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute, added that firms will face pressure to keep wage growth at least on a par with inflation. Core inflation, which indicates the rise in everyday out-of-pocket costs, has been estimated at 2 to 3 per cent next year, higher than the 2 to 2.5 per cent expected this year.

“Inflation is still putting pressure on staff. Firms have to make sure staff have the peace of mind to work, so you can change work procedures, change mindsets and invest in automation, leading to improvement in productivity,” he said.

in the push for wages to grow because of productivity improvement. In September, the cleaning industry became the first to adopt a skill-wage ladder as a criterion to secure licensing, representing a breakthrough in lifting the pay of a group of workers who have seen their income stagnate. The Progressive Wage Model was also announced for security guards and will be implemented in 2016.

Qns for Keppel, SembCorp Marine

In Energy, Temasek on 24/02/2016 at 2:08 pm

FT’s Nick Butler  had 4 questions for the oil majors’ results season:  where they spintheir annual results, declare dividends and reveal strategy updates. These are useful questions for Keppel and SembBorp Marine except the second question should be about their analysis of their clients projects. And for Temasek too. And useful guide when asking questions about the small cap offshore marine stocks: stocks like Ezra amd Swiber. Btw, it’s rumoured that Temasel officials used Nick Butler’s questions when they last met Keppel and SembCorp Marine executives.

First, did you foresee the fall in prices across the energy sector in the past two years? I don’t think anyone can answer that with a yes, which leads inexorably to the supplementary question: if not, why not? This is the question the Queen asked a group of economists after the financial crash and the 2008 downturn. It seems she is still waiting for a clear answer.

Second, what proportion of your producing assets and projects under development requires an oil price above $50 a barrel (or a comparable gas price) to produce a positive rate of return? This is a more complex question but if answered truthfully will expose the extent to which some companies over invested at high prices and will continue to struggle.

Third, what is your strategy if oil, gas and coal prices stay low — say, below $50 a barrel for the next five years? This is the most important question, especially for investors who rely on a secure dividend flow. To the best of my knowledge no energy company has yet explained its strategy, which makes it all the more important that the question should be asked and answered. Any chief executive who says that a long period of low prices is impossible should be retired immediately.

Finally, what do you believe are the most significant advances in technology in the energy sector in the past year and how could they affect your business? What are you doing to make sure you capture the benefits of those advances rather than falling victim to them? The aim here is to extract a clear statement of long-term strategy. Focusing on technology should test whether companies are taking the time to look outside and watching the advances being made on solar and storage; and whether they understand the dramatic scale of the changes that are happening. At the individual level, the question will test whether chief executives are looking ahead at the medium and long-term or simply trying to coast to a well-padded retirement.

HoHo Ho: StanChart’s in a right mess

In Commodities, Emerging markets, India, Temasek on 24/02/2016 at 6:14 am

Shares in Standard Chartered plunged on Tuesday after the Asia-focused bank revealed a $1.5bn (£1.1bn) loss.

The bank will take a $4bn charge on writing down the value of its loans, driven by falling commodity prices and deterioration of Indian markets.

Shares in the bank tumbled by 4% to a record low of 418.7p.

chart StanChart performance

CEO said: “It rips at our soul every time we look at these numbers and we don’t ever want to have to stand up and tell this story again.”

And that’s not all.

StanChart faces accusations over ‘dirty debt’.  It bought a $100 million “dirty debt” from a M’sian bank and used it to demand compensation from the Tanzanian government despite knowing that the loan had been part of an embezzlement scheme, according to claims in a legal row in Tanzania. The debt was originally owed to the M’sian bank by a M’sian company, Mechmar.

Update qt 7.00am: HoHoHo woild endorse this spin Sir John Peace, Standard Chartered’s outgoing chairman, said: “While our 2015 financial results were poor, they are set against a backdrop of continuing geo-political and economic headwinds and volatility across many of our markets as well as the effects of deliberate management actions.”

Don’t blame us. World’s in bad shape. We juz reflecting it.

Uniquely global: Rainforest in a global city

In Environment on 23/02/2016 at 2:04 pm

The best reason for changing the CRL route

Jonathan Tan Yong How’s letter to ST Forum

The Central Catchment Nature Reserve, on the other hand, is a biologically rich rainforest that sits in the heart of our country, something that cannot be found in other world-class cities like London, New York or Tokyo.

Enjoyed by generations of Singaporeans from the very birth of our country, it is a national treasure that makes Singapore unique among the metropolises of the world.

If we are willing to spend such money on creating new nature-themed attractions*, what more to protect our primeval, natural heritage inherited from our ancestors and which we can pass down to our descendants?

*He was referring to the $1 billion (not including the substantial cost of land reclamation) to build Gardens by the Bay, which, today, is a well-loved park.

His letter in full

Put $2 billion for realignment in context

Yesterday’s report had the Land Transport Authority saying that if the Cross Island MRT Line were to skirt the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, instead of going under it, an extra $2 billion in costs could be incurred (“$2b extra cost if MRT line skirts reserve“).

While $2 billion sounds like a huge sum of money, the figure should be put in proper context.

The 4km stretch of the Circle Line extension to link HarbourFront to Marina Bay, with just three additional MRT stations, is expected to cost $3.7 billion.

By contrast, realigning the Cross Island Line (CRL) to avoid the nature reserve would add an additional 5km of train line at the cost of $2 billion, which could also be used to serve new stations.

Furthermore, when stacked against the total cost of the Cross Island Line, an additional $2 billion is not likely to be a substantially large increase; the similarly ambitious Downtown Line is already estimated to cost $20.7 billion.

In another case, construction of the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) cost $4.3 billion. This was essentially a rerouting of the original East Coast Parkway-Ayer Rajah Expressway, so as to free up land along Tanjong Pagar for future development.

Singapore has always prided itself on planning for the long term, and the MCE is one such example.

Rerouting the CRL now to protect our nature reserve for future generations would merely be a continuation of this laudable policy.

Finally, we also spent $1 billion (not including the substantial cost of land reclamation) to build Gardens by the Bay, which, today, is a well-loved park.

The Central Catchment Nature Reserve, on the other hand, is a biologically rich rainforest that sits in the heart of our country, something that cannot be found in other world-class cities like London, New York or Tokyo.

Enjoyed by generations of Singaporeans from the very birth of our country, it is a national treasure that makes Singapore unique among the metropolises of the world.

If we are willing to spend such money on creating new nature-themed attractions, what more to protect our primeval, natural heritage inherited from our ancestors and which we can pass down to our descendants?

Jonathan Tan Yong How

HSBC: Cut ang moh, Indian layabouts

In Banks, Hong Kong, India on 23/02/2016 at 7:06 am

People and assets.

HSBC’s so-so results prompts th=hs analysis. Results fr 2015 were flat after an expected US$1,9bn  4Q pre-tax profit turned into a loss of US$858m.

As at August 2015, Asia accounted for 69% of HSBC’spre-tax profits. And HK, China is where the money is minted.

Well these show that ang mohs and Indians: people and assets are lazing in the sun.



Yes India is in Asia but look at the number of Indians employed, more than the Honkies. HK is the place that HSBC makes its money, not india but there are more Indians working for HSBC than Hongkong people.

Related post: StanChart’s very own Little India.

Update at 10.45 am:

Update at 4.30pm; From NYT Dealbook: HSBC’S FOURTH-QUARTER LOSSES HSBC, Britain’s largest bank by assets, posted a loss of $1.33 billion for the three months ending Dec. 31,Chad Bray reports in DealBook. It had posted a profit of $511 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. Before taxes, the bank posted a loss of $858 million.

The bank also revealed in its earnings statement that it was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission over its hiring practices in Asia. Several banks are under scrutiny after the commission opened an inquiry into whether JPMorgan Chase hired the children of powerful officials to help win lucrative business contracts.

HSBC did not give any further details on the investigation.

Its results were weighed down by restructuring costs, provisions for legal and regulatory matters, loan impairment charges and provisions for credit risk.

The bank is in the process of reshaping its operations, shedding tens of thousands of jobs, selling underperforming businesses and shrinking its global investment banking business.

“China’s slower economic growth will undoubtedly contribute to abumpier financial environment, but it is still expected to be the largest contributor to global growth,” Douglas Flint, the HSBC chairman, said in a news release.

CPF Life payouts: Why liddat?/ Save and save

In CPF on 22/02/2016 at 2:22 pm

Or did I really got my maths, analysis wrong. It’s happened before. Or did I miss the “right” explanation? It’s happened before.

I came across this


What is interesting is that the increase in the retirement amounts do not lead to a corresponding increase in the monthly payouts.

The Full Retirement Sum is double that of the Basic Retirement Sum. But the monthly payout is between $1,200 (Basic plan) — 1, 300 (Standard plan). If they were in line with the increase in the principal sum, they’d be $1,300 – 1400. There’s a difference of $100 or 7.69  — 7.14% a month.

The Enhancement Retirement Sum is 50% more than the Full Retirement Sum but the monthly payouts is $1750 — 1900 but not $1800 — 1950. A difference of $50 or 2.78 — 2.56% a month.

So where do the missing $50 and $100 notes end up? Annualised and aggregated, the amounts are not “peanuts”. Remember the English saying, “If you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves”? The saying meand that if someone takes care not to waste small amounts of money, they will accumulate capital.

The “pennies” are not going to those on the Full or  Enhancement Retirement Sum schemes.

No I’m not going to allege like Roy, once did, that the PM takes our CPF money. He did later say he was talking cock but still owes PM about $415,000. Never mind, he was a celebrity for two yrs.

I suspect that the pennies are meant to ensure that those who are on the Basic Retirement Sum get $650 — $700.

It’s a bit like progressive taxation, taking from the rich to give to the poor. Bit like

Somehow I don’t see Ah Loong wearing green tights.

For the record if either or both CPL Life Basic or Standard pools run out of money, there is no recourse to the state

Our money but CPF Life solvency is our problem

There is a provision in the law governing the CPF Life Plans which states that payouts are contingent on the Plans being solvent. This is because premiums that are paid in to get the annuities are pooled and collectively invested. If the plan you chose doesn’t have enough money to pay out, you die. This is unlike the [Minimum Sum] scheme, where account holders are legally entitled to the monies in their CPF accounts …


The government has said the provision on solvency is only a precaution unlikely ever  to be used. If so, why have it? This is a peace of mind issue. It was Gan who made this assurance when he was MoM.

No wonder we kanna save and save. To end here’s extract from CNA in early Feb on a Nielson global survey in 4Q 2015


According to the survey, Singaporeans are joint-sixth in putting their spare cash into savings, sixth for allocating spare cash to invest into shares or mutual funds, and second in the world for placing spare cash into retirement funds.

A total of 64 per cent of Singaporeans will put their money into savings, while 30 per cent have invested in shares and mutual funds. Additionally, 25 per cent will top up their retirement funds to ensure a comfortable retirement.

“Our findings continue to reveal that Singaporeans have displayed a strong desire to ensure financial security through savings and investments regardless of a rainy day,” said Ms Koh. “In addition, Singapore has an aging population and it is a wise choice to plan early for the retirement nest egg.”

Bye-bye haze, welcome rain

In Commodities, Environment, Indonesia on 22/02/2016 at 7:25 am

This month has been unseasonably wet even by pre El Nino norms. Well it seems this report that El Nino is coming round earlier this yr is wrong.

The latest thinking is that El Niño passes its peak while La Niña is possible this year.

What is La Nina?

Whatever, VivianB will be not screaming at the Indons this yr. There’ll be lrss hot air coming from the Indons. And Mad Dog Chee can brown-nose the Indons without upsetting S’poreans like me.

Time to walk the talk, SDP

In Uncategorized on 21/02/2016 at 4:09 pm

SDP is KPKBing about MOE rejecting SDP’s proposal to give talks in schools. It has now written to the education ministers to complain about the rejection.

It has also produced this video after this schoolboy showed that there may be a demand for what SDP wanted to do.

Dear Dr Chee,

I’m a 15 year old student from St Joseph’s institution. Since a younger age I somehow had a vast interest in politics and started following, and as you have said many times before, realised that Singapore isn’t actually a very democratic country.

Even though I am not yet legible to vote, I do feel the rising concern on the future on my homeland, as do many of my friends in school. Thus, this would be a great opportunity to educate us further and highlighting issues that are or could possibly be faced.

With this however, there are issues. With the Ministry of Education being run by the PAP government, it’s highly likely that they would be displeased with this and immediately reject your proposal to give talks in schools. Even with this though, I’d really like you to know that many of us really do realise the problems in this society and are definitely supportive of SDP.

(name withheld)
SJI Secondary 3 student

Why not video a pilot talk on the subject and put on YouTube and see if there is demand for talks on the topic?

If there’s demand make a series. SDP can always crowdsource for funds. (And commission Boy Fantastic, Amos Yee, to do the video. After all, he has sat at the feet of Dr Chee where presumably he learnt that the beloved Harry “was a horrible man.)

Given that MoE will “ban” students from watching any SDP produced video, and the constructive-nation-building media will diss it, watching will be the “in” thing among students. Even the PAPPy kids will be forced to watch if they to be in the “right” crowd.

The SDP doesn’t have some really good material for the pilot video.

SDP has highlighted 10 examples of what it says are “the partisan nature of the textbooks:are written by the Curriculum Planning & Development Division of the MOE:

  1. Singapore: The Making Of A Nation-State, 1300-1975
  2. Singapore: From Settlement To Nation Pre-1819 to 1971
  3. Upper Secondary Social Studies 3 (2nd edition)”

Let me be very clear, I’m not saying that the SDP’s examples “prove” the partisan nature of the books because I have problems with some of SDP’s “right” facts and complaints, even though it seems the SDP is right about the use of photographs that reflect well on the PAP. I’m saying that students should be given the opportunity (in their own time) to be made aware that there are alternative narratives. AS MoE doesn’t want to “confuse” young minds by letting the SDP give ralks in schools, the SDP should use new media to show that there are alternative narratives.

Somehow based on what I hear about the SDP walking the ground in Holland Village GRC versus what I know what Leon Man and friends are doing in East Coast GRC are doing,  I doubt the SDP is into the hard work involved in doing a pilot, and then if there is a demand, the harder work of producing a series of videos. But here’s hoping I’m wrong that SDP KPKBing is nothing but wayang to help pass the time until the 2019 GE. Our students deserve to be exposed to alternative narratives what with 2019 coming round the corner with more opportunities for the PAP administration to spin that the PAP is S’pore and S’pore is the PAP.

The 10 examples cited by the SDP:

Example 1: Lim Chin Siong

One of the history books paints Lim Chin Siong and Fong Swee Suan as violent troublemakers:

“The Communists had control of two powerful trade unions, namely Singapore Factory and Shop Workers’ Union (SFSWU) and Singapore Bus Workers’ Union (SBWU). These unions were led by Lim Chin Siong and Fong Swee Suan.

On the same day (24 October 1956), the pro-communist leader, Lim Chin Siong had organised a workers’ meeting a short distance away from the Chinese High School. When the meeting ended, some of the workers joined the students in creating disorder.

The riots came to an end when the police arrested almost all the union leaders, including Lim Chin Siong and Fong Swee Suan. During the riots, 13 people died and more than 100 were injured.”

It has emerged from declassified documents by the British government that it was Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock who “had provoked the riots and this had enabled the detention of Lim Chin Siong.” Documents also “show these were the tactics of provocation that were employed in the 1956 riots that led to Lim Chin Siong’s arrest.”

Shouldn’t our students be given this information and encouraged to do more reading and research before forming their conclusions? We need to stop the practice of glorifying the PAP and demonising its opponents in our schools.

Example 2: Photos and illustrations

The texts carry these illustrations:

In the section ‘What Is The Role Of The People?’, students are told that the people “have the power and responsibility to choose the right leaders for Singapore”. Accompanying the text is a photograph of PAP MP Mr Christopher de Souza.

In depicting how the PAP had split in 1962, the book labelled the faction led by Lim Chin Siong as “radicals” versus that of Lee Kuan Yew’s “moderates”. The “radicals” then went on to form the Barisan Sosialis.

Example 3: Principles of governance

In the chapter on governance, the book asked “What Are The Guiding Principles Of Governance?” It proceeds to cite the four areas that Lee Hsien Loong enumerated in his 2004 National Day Rally speech:

  • Leadership is key
  • Anticipate change and stay relevant
  • Reward for work and work for reward
  • A stake for everyone and opportunities for all

Under ‘Leader is key’ the book states:

“Honest and capable leaders are needed to maintain stability in the government and to make the right decisions for the country. These leaders must have moral courage and integrity to do what is right and not what is popular with the people. What would happen to Singapore if the leaders only make decisions that are popular with the people?

The government has realised that good leadership and good government do not occur by chance. Potential leaders are specially selected and groomed. Besides talent and ability, leaders are also selected based on their good character.”

The paragraphs seem more suited for the Petir, the PAP’s party organ, than a school textbook. Worse, there was no attempt to help students evaluate the statement. Given that the PAP has produced Ministers and MPs like Phey Yew Kok, Tan Kia Gan, Wee Toon Boon, Teh Cheang Wan, Choo Wee Kiang, and Michael Palmer, is the text accurate and valid? Why are students presented only one side of the story?

Example 4: Representative democracy

On the subject of governance, the text says: “Singapore practices representative democracy.” But this is only half the story. For a democracy to function meaningfully and effectively, there must also be a free media and a free and fair electoral process. The people must also enjoy fundamental freedoms of speech, association and assembly. All these are not practised in Singapore. Given such a circumstance, can Singapore still be considered a democracy, much less a representative one?

This subject is not addressed anywhere in the textbooks. The basic rights of citizens that are enshrined in our Constitution are not presented and the students are not invited to have a deeper discussion on what it means to be a citizen of this country other than on the PAP’s terms.

Example 5: The Pledge

And when the National Pledge is mentioned, the book asks students to:

“Examine the phrase ‘one united people, regardless of race, language or religion’. What do you understand by this phrase? Why do you think there is a need to stress this idea in the national pledge? Share your opinion with a partner.”

There seems to be an effort to steer students away from focusing on the part that calls on citizens “to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality”.

Example 6: Healthcare

in the chapter on healthcare, a section compares the pros and cons of Medisave and Medishield. At the end, however, a sidebar called Pause and Ponder asks the question: “Why is it important for the government to have support for new policies such as Medisave and Medishield?”

Why is the question written in such a leading manner? Why are students constantly shepherded into supporting the PAP’s policies? Is there no room for a more open and meaningful discussion on the realities of healthcare affordability in Singapore?

Example 7: Foreign talent/low birthrate

As for the PAP’s Foreign Talent Policy, the Social Studies book says: “While Singapore waits for its pro-family measures to show some positive results, there is a need to enhance its competitiveness by bringing in talent from other countries.”

What the book does not tell students is that the “pro-family measures” have thus far not been effective. Our population size has been shrinking all these years. Can’t the students discuss the effectiveness, or the lack thereof, of the PAP’s family policies?

The book then instructs the student to “Look at Figure 2.37 for reasons why attracting foreign talent to Singapore is important.” The Figure reads,

“Singapore faces stiff competition from other industrialising countries and being small, it is not possible to produce all required professionals locally. Thus, we must encourage foreign talent to come here so as to boost the quality of our manpower. Foreign talent can create more jobs and increase productivity.”

Again, the text misses out crucial information. For example, Lee Kuan Yew says that without foreigners, we cannot attract investments and produce jobs. Should students not be asked how and why we have come to this stage? The book also omits to discuss related topics such as (a) New jobs created going to foreigners, (b) Our city’s infrastructure being unable to cope with the massive influx of foreigners, (c) The difficulty of foreigners integrating with locals, (d) The resultant rise in the cost of living and (e) The PAP’s definition of ‘talent’.

Instead of stimulating and encouraging our students to analyse what they read, the MOE seems more interested to get students to accept the material as received wisdom and to memorise it for exams.

Example 8: Media

On the topic of managing race relations, one of the books relates the case of Maria Hertogh and the riots, writing that, “The events throughout the [Hertogh] court trial had much media coverage in the English, Malay and Tamil newspapers.”

It shows pictures of overturned cars and houses on fire with the headline “Five dead, 100 hurt in riots”. The Pause and Ponder sidebar then asks: “Why is it important to have a newspaper that is not biased in the reporting of events?” – a clear allusion to the PAP’s justification of controlling the media in Singapore.

The text does not teach students of the importance for dialogue and debate without resorting to violence no matter how much we may disagree with the other party’s views. In other words, it does not educate students. Rather, it conditions their minds and the inculcates in them the PAP’s partisan values.

Example 9: Self-help groups

The book extols the virtues of self-help groups like CDAC, SINDA, Mendaki and the Eurasian Association by quoting an excerpt from “a newspaper”:

“The self-help groups’ biggest achievement has been in saving students from the under-achievement trap. Dropout rates have fallen, grades have improved and more students have gone on to continue post-secondary education.”

The textbook does not provide information on how it arrives at the conclusion that self-help groups have achieved what the newspaper quote purports that they have achieved. It simply makes an assertion. Again, students are told what to think and not taught how to think.

Example 10: People’s Association

In discussing the role of grassroots organisations, the textbook cites the work of the People’s Association saying that it “creates common space through a wide range of programmes and activities”.

It makes no mention of the controversy regarding the control of its activities by the PAP – even in wards that the party does not control. Such a topic may not reflect very well on the PAP but isn’t one of the purposes of education – especially in a social studies class – supposed to draw on themes such as equity and fair play for discussion?

Singapore Democrats


Amos the vegan/ Why he wants to avoid NS

In Uncategorized on 21/02/2016 at 5:10 am

TRE republishing this on Amos Yee (he’s been has been silent on Facebook since 12 January and last twatted on 23 January) reminded me that I recently read something about vegans. A vegan is a really nutty version of a vegetarian. Hitler was not a vegan, he was a vegetarian. And yes, Amos says he’s a vegan

I also remembered this pix of his emaciated body posted on 16 January.

This in turn reminded me that Amos  in December boasted that despite being a fugitive, he was able to get vegan food. This is what he would be eating: For vegans, everything derived from animals is off-limits. Similar to – but stricter than – vegetarians, vegans do not eat eggs and cheese, or drink milk, and in some cases even avoid honey.

He would not be wearing or using leather, wool and.

To end, here’s how looney and sensitive to criticism the nuts are:

An action movie-style advertisement campaign to promote Australian lamb has angered vegans who call it “discriminatory”.

The commercial, by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), was released on Saturday and has since gone viral.

It shows a SWAT team “saving stranded Aussies” abroad from missing a barbeque on the country’s national day.

In one scene in the advert, a SWAT team smashes into the home of a man in New York saying “C’mon mate, in a few hours you’ll be eating lamb on the beach”, to which the the bearded man responds: “But I’m a vegan now…”.

The ad later cuts to a shot of a flamethrower-wielding SWAT officer burning a bowl of kale on the vegan’s table.

Btw, they don’t serve vegan food in NS. So that’s why die-die he doesn;t want to do NS.


Consumer confidence lower than global average

In Economy on 20/02/2016 at 3:04 pm

CNA report in early February:

Consumer confidence in the Republic turned pessimistic in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the results from the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending released on Tuesday (Feb 2). Singaporeans also remained among the top savers and investors in the world, the survey found.

..,Nielsen said that the Singapore Consumer Confidence Index for the fourth quarter has dropped to 94, lower than the global average of 97. According to Nielsen, consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.

For the third quarter of 2015, Singapore scored 101. That placed Singapore as the 12th-most confident in the world, compared to 22nd in the fourth quarter. Globally, India’s consumers were the most confident in the fourth quarter, the same ranking it held in the previous quarter.

The Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and immediate spending intentions, among more than 30,000 respondents with Internet access in 61 countries, it said. A total of 500 respondents were from Singapore.

“As tepid global demand continued to influence a weaker manufacturing sector in Q4 2015 and an expected modest economic growth in 2015, Singaporeans have adopted a cautionary approach in their spending,” said Ms Joan Koh, Managing Director, Singapore and Malaysia, Nielsen. “Singaporeans have also demonstrated a keen prudence for financial security and protection as savings and investments continued to be a priority over the last few quarters.”


… 40 per cent of those surveyed in Singapore felt that the country was in recession, compared to 30 per cent in the previous quarter. Of those surveyed, job security (30 per cent) and the economy (30 per cent) were the top concerns, followed by work/life balance at 20 per cent.

… 62 per cent of consumers said they have cut down on shopping for new clothes, and 50 per cent said they have reduced holidays or short breaks.

Even if the economic situation improves, 36 per cent of those surveyed said they will continue spending less on new clothes, while 29 per cent said they will try to save on gas and electricity and 27 per cent said they will cut down on out-of-home entertainment.


Wefie: Ah Loong and friends

In Humour on 19/02/2016 at 2:42 pm

Couldn’t Ah Loong show a photo with some other leaders on his Facebook page . The other three are the Cambodian PM, Vietnamese PM and Laotian deputy: all countries where “democracy” is a really dirty word. If the Thai PM were in the pix, it would really look bad for us and Ah Loong because I’m sure the SDP and the other anti-PAP nuts would label it the “Five Asean dictators”, which is unfair to Ah Loong and us.

How the next recession will happen

In Uncategorized on 19/02/2016 at 7:14 am

How the US and therefire the world will fall into a recession from NYT Dealbook

If There Is a Recession in 2016, This Is How It Will Happen Tumult in emerging markets and the commodities sectors could create both real and psychological hits to an economy that is already growing sluggishly.

True markets are feeling good. But

The OECD has today lowered its growth forecast for the current year from 3.3% to 3%, saying that the downgrade is

broadly based, spread across both advanced and major emerging economies, with the largest impacts expected in the United States, the euro area and economies reliant on commodity exports, like Brazil and Canada.

Financial instability risks are substantial, as demonstrated by recent falls in equity and bond prices worldwide, and increasing vulnerability of some emerging economies to volatile capital flows and the effects of high domestic debt.

Manufacturing is weak in many countries, and big job cuts are being announced on a regular basis (Bombardier is the latest). Fourth-quarter earnings per share for S&P 500 companies are likely to be down 4%, the worst quarter since 2009. More corporate bonds are being downgraded and Moody’s forecasts that the global default rate for junk bonds will hit 4.2% by the end of the year from 2% in 2015; CreditSights is looking for a default rate in America of 5.5% by December.  And geopolitics still look a mess with the war in Syria raising tensions between Russia and Turkey, and China installing weapons on a disputed island in the South China Sea. The mood can always turn again.

Whateveer PM’s either very lucky or smart. He called the election at the right time.

Here’s something I was planning to post in mid October but which I mislaid.

PM held GE juz in time. Economy will take turn for worse

A “deeply concerning” slowdown in trade, particularly with China, will lead to lower global economic growth this year, says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Global GDP is now expected to grow by 2.9%, down from 3% forecast in September, but will hit 3.3% in 2016.

The OECD said trade had dropped to levels perilously close to those “associated with global recession”.

Worldwide trade growth is forecast at 2% this year, down from 3.4% in 2014.

Catherine Mann, the OECD chief economist, said: “This is deeply concerning. Robust trade and global growth go hand in hand.”

Asia Devaluation

Asia Devaluation

The three engines which have pulled developing economies along in the past decade—exports, public and private investment—are sputtering. World trade is growing slower even than global output. Tax receipts have been hit by falling commodity prices and depressed activity, squeezing government spending.

Colombia’s finance minister, Mauricio Cardenas, spoke of “intelligent austerity”—tax rises, spending cuts and slightly bigger deficits—but not all countries have fiscal room to embrace it. Businesses are putting off investment until uncertainties lift. At the same time, foreign investors are pulling capital out of emerging markets for the first time in years. Not all countries are equal. But “the bar for an emerging market to distinguish itself has moved higher,” David Fernandes of Barclays, a bank, told financiers at a parallel powwow of the International Institute of Finance, a bankers’ association.

FT I think

Parable of the contented dog/ No need to be grateful to the PAP

In Political governance on 18/02/2016 at 2:11 pm

Dog outside Lampedusa reception centre

The mottled brown dog paws the heavy wire gates of the reception centre and whines to be let in, rubbing his mangy head on the mesh to try to attract the guard’s attention. The young officer grins as he opens the door;

“You just can’t get enough of these guys can you?” he says fondly as the stray dog makes a beeline for the lunch queue and trots expectantly towards a group of migrants who are spooning pasta from plastic pots.

Inside the reception centre, the brown dog chews contentedly on a sock he’s stolen from an asylum seeker. He rolls onto his back in the dust. Tonight these migrants may all be shipped off, but tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, he knows there’ll be more of them, so his future at least is certain.

[Update at 5.oo pm: Dogs are really smart

— “They hitched themselves to us, which was a pretty good gamble as it turned out, because there are about a billion dogs in the world today and probably not even 10 million wolves.”

— I read somewhere that mature dogs are more intelligent than kids below 5.  So dogs are smaerter than a recently built AI  machine rhar has intelligence of  4 yr old kid.

When I read the above, part of a BBC article, I couldn’t help but think of the S’poreans who voted for the PAP. They like this dog want an easy life and so are happy to remain behind barbed wire and fences and be dependent on the PAP. They know the PAP will take care of them. After all they can (and rightly)  point out

— Pioneer Gen healthcare benefits which make medical treatment and retirement home care  almost free for the elderly. This is a great saving for the elderly and their children.

— Blended CPF rate of about 3.3%. Try get that kind of risk-free return anywhere.

— Govt is trying to ensure that the BTO flat does not lose value. And trying hard to ensure hat private housing and resale HDB flats don’t suffer big falls in value.

— Public tpt system is being improved.

— Employees get a real wage increase by increasing employer contributions.

Except for the last, remember that it’s our money that is paying for the goodies. Whereas the dog really gets goodies for free, we don’t. We paid for them in advance. It’s like using yr prepaid mobile card.

The dog gets fed because of human kindness. The only reason the PAP is being generous to us with our money is because in 2011, unhappy voters whacked it real hard twivce. In PE 2011, its preferred candidate (a decent, good man) won by only a few hundred votes from another decent, good man.

Take the goodies. But let’s not be grateful for them. We are entitled to them because it’s our money and the PAP wants to maintain S’pore as a de-facto one party state.

Finally if the administration was less fixated on budget surpluses and doling out goodies, we’d have lower taxes. GST could still be at 5%. [Update at 6.00pm: GIC’s ex-chief economist estimates that S’pore’s budget surplus calculated the IMF way is 7% of GDP.]

So for the swing voters who voted for the PAP out of gratitude, juz remember it’s yr money. If you like me are one of those who are not hard core anti-PAP nuts but don’t vote for the PAP, juz take stuff on offer and remember it’s our money.

Related post: Why people vote for the PAP? Appealing to greedy but gullible people works?

Equities: Where we are tops in Asia

In Financial competency on 18/02/2016 at 7:34 am

Chart: Comparable valuations for major indices

Best payouts, Middking ROEs. But who cares, payouts matter in this environment, nothing else does )))

Nathan’s maihum moment cont’d

In Uncategorized on 17/02/2016 at 2:07 pm

Don’t sing Majullah Singapura is the suggestion of a reader of this piece of mine when the president takes the salute. juz play Majullah Singapura.

But before reading his reasoning, here’s another great comment by another reader

Remember Pinkie and his meal of MeeSiam MaiHum?

Well, this is Prata’s maihum moment!

Back to why Majullah Singapura should not be sung when the president takes the salute on National Day:

I think all this STUPIDITY coIuld have been avoided if no one has to sing the national anthem when the president make his appearance at all ceremonies and occasions he attends. In fact, it is only appropriate that the anthem be sung at the end of an occasion, such as the NDP, when everyone including the VIPs and VVIPs would rise and sing it. No exception. The band plays the anthem when the president arrives simply because he symbolizes/represents the nation, not because of he (Nathan, Tony Tan or anyone else) the man.

I have NEVER heard the US national anthem, The Stars And Stripes, being sung when the President of the US arrives. Have you? For want of a better way to describe it, a country’s anthem should only be sang either at as part of a group performance, eg. at a concert or on very special occasions, such as at the end of the NDP or when national sportsmen and sportswomen received their medals on the winners’ rostrum in an international meet like the Olympics.

I agree that “God, Save The Queen’ is different. For one, the lyrics clearly referred to the British monarch in person. For those who are unaware, it was ‘God Save The KING’ when QE2 father was on the British throne. It was changed to the now, ‘God Save The Queen’ when QE2 took over from her father, King Geroge the… (you known, the King’s Speech, fella). Whereas, in ‘Majullah Singapura’, there is NO mention of the president, in fact, the lyrics is meant to spur and galvanize, at least in theory, the people and country forward (see English translation below) and compare it with the British anthem below it.

I hope it would shut the mouth up of the PAP acolytes who tried to defend the indefensible egoistic and ignorant blooper made by SN Nathan*. We can see how truly ignorant and arrogant the PAP ba***carrier can become.

Majullah Singapura (English translation):

Come, fellow Singaporeans
Let us progress towards happiness together
May our noble aspiration bring
Singapore success

Come, let us unite
In a new spirit
Together we proclaim
Onward Singapore
Onward Singapore

Come, let us unite
In a new spirit
Together we proclaim
Onward Singapore
Onward Singapore

British National Anthem – God Save the Queen

God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.

Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour,
Long may she reign.
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen.
(From the official website of the British Monarchy –


*Steady brudder. I may mock him but I’m inclined to think he was telling a joke. Bit like Income and Rebecca Lim.



Keeping your head while all around you are losing theirs

In Financial competency on 17/02/2016 at 7:43 am

What does a rational man do when mkts are in free fall?

Here’s a very interesting tot from an FT reader.

The FT here takes seriously rather than trashing the line ‘rational people lose rationality in fast moving markets’. On the contrary rational people are hyper-rational in such situations. If the herd is running and you stand still, it is you the wolves will catch. There is a rationality to herding, and any multi-agent model will predict it. It is only the time-and-again discredited practice of peering obsessively at bell curves which is irrational.
The point of the game is not to lose money, not to have the cleverest portfolio if prices move as your models show they are supposed to do. If prices show that your portfolio is no good, then you are the irrational one!
Complexity theory has shown that market movements do not correlate to simple narratives, I know it is the pink sheets’ journos job to peddle such simple narratives, but it is nothing less than BS 99% of the time.

Coming back to the headline, keeping yr head means losing money if you are leveraged. But wait, keeping yr head means selling.


PAPpies keep trying trick that’s obsolescent

In Political governance, Public Administration on 16/02/2016 at 3:27 pm

The internet, new media and social media makes the trick ever easier to detect. Yet they persist in treating this trick as a Hard Truth, even though when caught out it makes them look like Phey Yew Kok and friends. Why do they persist? That stupid and complacent isit? Why liddat?

The above were my tots when GIC’s ex-chief economist (now with the Institute of Policy Studies) highlighted this bit in SunT’s report on an environment assessment report which said the effect of soil testing works on animals and plants in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve could be kept to “moderate” levels if measures to reduce impact are strictly implemented when building MRT tracks in the area.

What does “moderate” mean? The roughly 1,000-page report, seen by The Sunday Times, said a moderate impact “falls somewhere in the range from a threshold below which the impact is minor, up to a level that might be just short of breaching a legal limit”.

Assistant Professor Chian Siau Chen of the civil and environmental engineering department at the National University of Singapore said there are usually five categories under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) framework: Major, moderate, minor, negligible and beneficial.

My FB avatar posted

Thanks for highlighting the scale. So Moderate comes after Major ((((( Reminds me of what Financial Times wrote: “The practice of “reservation” — giving answers that are technically accurate but tactically misleading — was honed by medieval Jesuits ….

‘There is a problem with Jesuitical equivocation, as select committee hearings may show. It makes exponents look shifty if they are rumbled.” In the age of the internet the PAP govt should be learning new tricks, not try to use old tricks that no longer answers that are technically accurate but tactically misleading

(Emphasis mine)

This reminded me about another recent incident where the literal truth misled and S’pore Technologies was made to look shifty.

Remember the story that we we had PRC parachute riggers?

The u/m appeared on a senior lawyer’s wall

“The SAF continues to fully employ its Riggers, particularly for key operations and training. In order to optimise our resources, we have outsourced the parachute-packing function to Singapore Technologies (ST)”.

Question : If the parachute-packing is outsourced to ST, what do the riggers do?

Answer : Dunno. Answer is (probably intentionally) obscure. One possibility is that the riggers check the parachutes – but the SAF’s answer is far from being a model of clarity.

Question : Has the outsourcing of packing to ST reduced the SAF’s need for riggers?

Answer : Almost certainly.

Question : Are there PRC nationals employed by ST to pack parachutes.

Answer : SAF doesn’t say. Who knows.

Question : Do ST packers have to jump with a chute they’ve packed themselves?

Answer : SAF didn’t say.


A very direct allegation (that parachute packing is now being done by PRC nationals) was made, and the answer was vague, and did not contain a denial…… Hmmmm.

Why didn’t the SAF simply state that no foreign nationals are employed to pack parachutes? I hope it’s ineptness in public relations rather than clumsy 1MDB style non-denials.

The rather sad thing is that the newspapers pick up on the SAF response and repeat it verbatim as news, without asking any follow up questions trying to understand what it really means in simple terms.

This is the ‘uncritical’ media culture we have … In today’s day and age, where Singapore is trying to promote risk taking and value creation, the newsmedia culture is somewhat outmoded ,,,

My FB avatar chirped:

Someone in another group informed of a deleted comment. It could explain why SAF aswered the way it did./// “I checked into this. Here’s what I was told:
“There are a couple of PRC Riggers who are under IWF (Integrated Work Force) and work for ST. These Riggers are US certified and will be certified again by the SAF if they have met the requirements and standards. Their pack jobs are certified by SAF Riggers who approve that the parachutes are ready and good for jump. They are only basic trained and perform their job according to their level.””///

The internet, new media and social media make giving answers that are technically accurate but tactically misleading easier to catch and this makes exponents look shifty if they are rumbled. In the age of the internet, the PAP administration should be learning new tricks (like telling the tral truth, not just the literal truth), not try to use old tricks that no longer work like giving answers that are technically accurate but are misleading.



Asset values can fall, debt remains eternal

In Financial competency on 16/02/2016 at 7:04 am

Further to this on the debts of S’poreans, where I mocked the idea that juz because assets exceed debt, “No worries”, I juz read in FT, “At the end of its last financial year, it was so highly leveraged that its assets had only to fall in value by 3.6 per cent for the bank to be wiped out.”: “it” refers to Lehman.

Asset values can rise or fall, but debts must be repaid*: thaz a truth not a LKY Hard Truth.


*If one defaults, one can be made bankrupt. Whatever it is, one is crushed.

PAPpies defend D T Nathan

In Humour on 15/02/2016 at 12:17 pm

US has its Donald Trump, a billionaire with a big ego,

Well we have S R Nathan, a man who in his 12 yrs as president earned S$16m++ for being Jaga in Chief and Chief Baby Ksser. His ego is bigger than that of Trump despite the Donald being richer than he is (and hence by the warped thinking of the PAP more worthy of respect).

In a recent interview [Link] which was published on 31 Jan by ST, former President S R (Sure not Donald Trump?) Nathan repeatedly refused to be drawn into commenting about the various aspects of the Elected Presidency, which the Government wants to review.

But he did say, “So I often get asked why I keep quiet when everybody is singing Majulah Singapura on National Day,” he quipped. “I reply, ‘Yes, they are singing to me. I’m standing there! This is symbolic of the country. I don’t expect to sing to myself!’”

S’poreans have in my view rightly mocked his pretentions and huge ego. Or if they tot he was telling a joke, his bad joke.

Whatever. The office of president is not the British monarch. The British are technically the monarch’s subjects. While the nuts of TRELand may think we are the subjects of Harry’s family and the PAP, no S’porean thinks that we are the subjects of the president: except perhaps Nathan?

When a lawyer who I’m told is a card carrying member of the PAP (anyway I know he believes in hanging, not helping the elderly poor, or sick: his taxes should go to ministerial salaries) wrote the u/m, you know even the PAPpies cannot really justify Nathan Trupm the Donald.

Many mock President Nathan for saying that people are singing the national anthem to him at the National Day Parade fail to grasp the sequence of events:

a. Parade commander calls parade to attention
b. President arrives and is led to dais
c. Parade commander calls parade to salute president by presenting arms
d. National anthem is played as part of the salute
e. Parade commander calls parade back to attention from present arms position

Since the national anthem is played as part of the salute to the President, it is not incorrect* to say that the national anthem is being sung to him IN THE CONTEXT OF NATIONAL DAY PARADE.

My friend the troll: Nathan failed to distinguish beteen S R Nathan the man and S R Nathan the president. The singing and respect paid is to the president (who juz happens to Nathan) not Nathan. A M’sian financier who advised successive M’sian ministers of finance in the 80s and 90s despite them belonging to rival factions, told me: “I’ ll advise a donkey so long as he holds the post of Finance Minister.”

The PAP lawyer said my friend was trying hard to find fault, which was a fair comment even if it sounded rich coming from someone trying really very hard to justify an ass of a comment.

But another PAPpy Ashok Sharma  wanted to pick a fight perhaps its just you and your kind that failed to understand when the then President, SR Nathan made the comment he meant him as the President and not him as S R Nathan the man? The analogy, by the way, is most inappropriate at least, to me.

To which my friend replied

Nathan used the word “me”. That is not the correct word or term to use if he were referring to Nathan the president. He also dumb as Trump in addition to being as arrogant as the Donald isit? Sounds like it. LOL

If Nathan had not said: //‘Yes, they are singing to me// and.//I don’t expect to sing to myself// I’d not have passed comment. But he did. He could have juz said, “I’m the symbol of the country, so it’s right that I keep silent”. But he didn’t did he? Let’s not try to twist his words to attack “just you and yr kind”.
Ashok Sharma** went on to lose his cool calling the troll names. PAPpies all like that isit?
Ashok Sharma tried again at midnight: for the sake of completeness and to avoid any doubt that may have arisen, I reiterate…. There’s really no shortage of idiots who’d complain about everything..
To which my friend replied the next morning. Yup very true of a brown-nosing, emotiomal fool who complains about others who complain about Donald Nathan our very own Donald Trump even he’s worth a lot less. This fool even resorts to name calling when he runs out arguments. Can’t agree with you more..on someone like him There is no point in engaging with these fools who only want to brown nose. They should learn from people like [ ] who can keep their cool when arguing.
It made the troll’s day when the founder of the conservative group he belongs to “Liked” his comment. The PAPpy ASs sat down and shut up.
And here’s another reason why we should sing and play Majullah Jaga Besar when the president takes the salute on National Day. This will show that we understand and appreciate the role of El Presdiente as custodian of the reserves etc. He is more than the ceremonial head of state who must take off his pants in public if the cabinet “advises” him to do so.

*Why doesn’t he say “it is correct”? He doesn’t because it ain’t correct? Juz not incorrect.

**AS. Add another “s” and it becomes ASs. Delaration of interest. I’m getting a lunch at u/m place for naming and shaming the ASs.

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Highly commended and senior citizens ask for yr discount if you go there. Even though I have white hair, no-one asked if I was an oldie, and as I forgot to ask for discount, I paid the full price. Still worth it.

Play Majullah Jaga Besar on National Day

In Humour on 14/02/2016 at 3:09 pm

I refer to this:

Middle Ground is ang moh tua kee isit?

Why can’t we just sing Majulah Kunchi (same tune and lyrics as Majulah Singapura with “Kunchi”, the Malay word for “key” for “Singapura” when the command Hormat (i.e. Salute) Presidente is given at the National Day parade?

Better still, we can use “Jaga Besar” (“Chief Watchman”) instead of “Kunchi”.

Mari kita rakyat Jaga Besar
sama-sama menuju bahagia;
Cita-cita kita yang mulia,
berjaya Jaga Besar.

Marilah kita bersatu
dengan semangat yang baru;
Semua kita berseru,
Majulah Jaga Besar,
Majulah Jaga Besar!

Marilah kita bersatu
dengan semangat yang baru;
Semua kita berseru,
Majulah Jaga Besar ,
Majulah Jaga Besar!

We can sing Majullah Singapura on other occasions.

Australian protocol is to play and sing God Saves the Queen when the Queen is present in person, followed by the national anthem. The national anthem is Advance Australia Fair and is played at other times. I think NZ has the same practice.

Tomorrow, I’ll post on why Nathan is wrong to equate himself with the Queen of the United Kingdom.

Only the insecure & clueless angst about “Identity”

In Humour on 14/02/2016 at 11:55 am

Bharati: Let us go back to the question of identity. It has been brought up even at the highest levels, by the Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong. How would you define yours?

Toh: Oh, my goodness. I never go there, because it would mean I have an identity crisis, and I do not ….

Bharati: But, that is your identity. What about the national Singaporean identity?

Toh: All this harping on identity is to underline and underscore that we do not have one. It is to bury it if you keep on digging at it.

And more tots from Sylvia Toh of Goondu fame including Singlish and where teachers fail

Highly commended

Perspective on S’poreans’ Debt, Leverage

In Economy, Financial competency on 13/02/2016 at 2:45 pm

PAPpies will say no worries, as assets cover debts. But that sounds like what the highly leveraged tycoons said before 1997, 2008 and the credit crunches in the 60s, and 70s and 80s.

And in a deflationary world, the notion of “safe as houses” doesn’t work as an investment thesis. You will pay and pay while the property value depreciates.

Update on 16 Feb at 7’ooam: Debt is eternal.

HoHoHo: Will Temasek slip on oil patch?

In Energy, Temasek on 13/02/2016 at 5:31 am

investors and lenders have laid the groundwork for the rebound – buying assets in fire sales and making new loans. But even opportunists are still uneasy. Many investors fear they could be too early if they jump in now – they had already been burned by forecasts that predicted oil would recover last year.

Remember tthis investment?

NYT Dealbook reports

LOW OIL PRICES AND A RECKONING ON DEBT Energy executives and their bankers are preparing for a prolonged downturn that could change the energy industry in a way not seen since the turmoil of the late 1990s gave rise to mega-mergers like Exxon Mobil, Clifford Krauss and Michael Corkery report in DealBook.

Crude prices have plunged more than 70 percent over the last 20 months, but until recently, companies were able to ride out the slump using hedges to sell their oil for more than the market price.

These hedges have expired in recent months, leaving oil companies low on cash and unable to pay their debts. They are also realizing that a recovery in oil prices is at least a year away – too long for many companies to hold out.

If prices hold at such low levels – oil traded near $28 a barrel on Tuesday –as many as 150 oil and gas companies could file for bankruptcy, according to IHS, an energy research firm.

That is a relatively small slice of the industry, but hundreds of other companies that piled on debt to grow into significant players in the shale oil boom are now likely to be acquired or sell their assets. As much as a third of the oil industry could be consolidated as a result of the downturn.

As losses have mounted, investors and lenders have laid the groundwork for the rebound – buying assets in fire sales and making new loans. But even opportunists are still uneasy. Many investors fear they could be too early if they jump in now – they had already been burned by forecasts that predicted oil would recover last year.

Temase should remember that it already has exposures to the oil patch via Keppel and SembCorp Marine: the bad and ugly, the good 

And think about buying SembCorp. If oil prices recover, it’ll benefit from its stake in Marine. If it doesn’t, there’s the other biz.

Why markets are panicking

In Financial competency on 12/02/2016 at 12:24 pm

They now assume that central banks don’t have a clue on how to save the world

What we are seeing, I think, are safe-haven flows. What is causing them, I believe, are central bank actions that undermine market confidence in the belief that central banks will do “whatever it takes”, in Mario Draghi’s phrase, to prevent economic collapse. The loss of faith is clearest in Europe, where Mr Draghi felt pressure to speak publicly on several occasions after the December meeting, in order to clarify that it did not represent a step in a less interventionist or more hawkish direction, and was not an indication of internal dissent over the course of policy. Crucially, those statements did not reverse the damage done by the December meeting. …

The Fed seems to have done something similar to its own standing, through the simple act of moving to tighten while both inflation and inflation expectations remained well below target. Just as Mr Draghi’s saying “whatever it takes” again cannot generate the same boost to confidence as it did the first time around, a simple reversal of the Fed’s December rate increase would not restore the market’s faith in the Fed to where it was a year ago. The Fed would need to do more, just as other central banks that raised rates away from zero prematurely found themselves subsequently cutting rates to levels below where they had stood before. Likewise, the Bank of Japan’s sudden pivot to negative rates raises the possibility that the central bank doesn’t actually know what it is doing.

Faith in central banks is of critical importance now because conventional policy is exhausted. To provide additional monetary stimulus, central banks can only turn to negative rates, to quantitative easing, or to jawboning of markets. It seems to me that, as a result of central-bank missteps, markets are losing confidence that central banks know what they’re doing, and are losing confidence that central banks are prepared to do what it takes to convince sceptical investors otherwise. Unless and until there are adequate demonstrations, it is possible this market panic will continue.

What is especially worrying is that not too much needs to go wrong in the real economy for things to begin breaking …

Why banks sell-off is worrying

In Banks, Financial competency on 12/02/2016 at 6:00 am

This NYT Dealbook piece  appeared on Tuesday morning NY time. Relevant given what keeps happening since then. Gd description of the worries

INVESTOR NERVOUSNESS OVER BANKING GIANTS Worries about the world’s biggest banks have already played out in the stock markets as their shares have plunged, but there are also ominous signs in markets used to bet on the creditworthiness of large financial firms, Peter Eavis reports in DealBook.

The KBW Nasdaq Bank Index, a benchmark for the banking sector, was down more than 3 percent on Monday and had lost nearly 20 percent of its value this year.

Investors are rushing into benchmark government bonds, too. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note has declined, while the price of gold is rising. TheVix volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, has risen.

When investors sell bank shares or bet against the banks in credit markets, it can be a signal of more serious turbulence. It suggests that banks – usually the gears of an economy, transmitting credit to firms and households – are becoming more vulnerable to market volatility and underlying economic weaknesses.

The declines in bank shares may not indicate that banks are particularly fragile, but that investors are skeptical about their abilities to earn solid profits in the future, partly because of ultralow interest rates around the world.

Still, it doesn’t look too optimistic with Citigroup’s stock trading at nearly half the bank’s book value and European banks grappling with their own problems, which have contributed to the recent deep declines in their stock.

Fears about the health of the world’s banks continued to drag stocks down in Asia and Europe on Tuesday, Reuters reports. The Nikkei plunged more than 5 percent and investors stampeded for haven assets like the yen and gold.

Fears about the global economy also pushed the yield on Japanese 10-year bonds, the benchmark of government borrowing, down to zero for the first time, as Jonathan Soble reports in The New York Times. They quickly fell into negative territory, meaning some investors were buying bonds despite knowing that if they held them until maturity, they would come away with less money than they paid.

Will WP MPs walk the talk of Lion Man Leon?

In Uncategorized on 11/02/2016 at 12:07 pm

(Or “Will Loh’s “duckweeds” rescue WP?”)

In 2015, I didn’t bother to even glance at the WP’s manifesto because of the way WP MPs had treated its 2011 manifesto: like toilet paper or should this be duckweed? I mean despite the problems that the PAP had justifying its public transport policies (even making some U-turns) , WP didn’t raise the issue of nationalising the system despite it being in the 2011 manifesto and despite it being an intellectually valid proposition. I mean even the retired chief economist of GIC (now at IPS) says “Private or government owned companies are more suitable because they can look after key stakeholders and public interests more better.”*

So I couldn’t help but snigger when Leon (the Lion) Perera

recently told MediaCorp’s Bharati Jagdish

We had a manifesto with many positive and proactive ideas for Singapore, to make Singapore better, and some people reacted to that by saying, “This is quite technical, this quite complex, there are so many different ideas in here, we need more time to digest and process that.”  

… more than 130 specific policy recommendations. So, I think that’s something that, in hindsight, I would say that maybe we should have done better in terms of communicating the richness and the value of these ideas.

To convince people that these are good and positive ideas, these are not just ideas that are opposing for the sake of opposing, but we have a proactive, positive agenda for the country. And that’s something that I want to spend more time on in terms of convincing people of the value of those ideas.

Well going by the evidence of the parly debate about NCMPs and the subsequent vote, it’s clear that the elected WP MPs are useless in parly What do you expect of a bunch of highly paid social workers whose poster gal is the PAP’s very own Kate Spade Tin, who talks rubbish in parly but does good social work?

So it’s up to Leon the Lion, Dennis Lim and Daniel Goh, all NCMPS (who the WP secretary-general sneeringly calls “duckweeds”. Because unlike him and the other WP MPs, they don’t do full-time social work?) to show S’poreans that the WP can hold the PAP to account and communicate the WP’s manifesto ideas to the voters.

On these “duckweeds”

Image result for duckweed

(Loh’s sneering word, not mine nor the PAP’s, rest the hopes of all those of us who want a less hegemonic PAP. The elected WP MPs are juz content to take the money, keep quiet in parly, and do social welfare work. They are the real duckweeds?

Related posts:

Leon the Lion

NCMP: Why WP wins either way. I repent of this piece because by Low calling NCMPs “duckweeds” and by the WP messing up the vote on making Daniel Goh a NCMP, WP snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. PAP got away with a score draw. Next week, I’ll blog how the WP could have had its cake and eat it; taking principled stands on NCMPs and pushing for Daniel Goh to get the vacant NCMP post. And why WP didn’t.


*”I would like to say my poor** use of evidence does not contradict the argument that publicly listed companies are poor vehicles for public transport corporations. This is because their main priority is making profits for shareholders.

Private or government owned companies are more suitable because they can look after key stakeholders and public interests more better.”: Recent Facebook post.

**He quoted StatesTimes assertion that SMRT made a profit of S$1 bn. The Indian Indi behaved like TRE, ASS, FATPAP when pointing this out, making snide, uncalled remarks. With a friend like the Indian, does anyone who disagrees with the PAP need enemies?

HoHoHo: Temasek’s dubious achievement

In Temasek on 11/02/2016 at 4:30 am

Standard Chartered is valued at less than less than it was before the financial crisis of 2007/ 2008. Another one of this select club is Deutsche. HOHOHO

Hamish McRae (a former editor of the Economist) offers some encouragement in the Independent. Studying past crises has taught only one certainty, he concludes: “Share prices will eventually bounce back, provided you wait long enough for them to do so.”


Why London and Dubai are better air hubs

In Airlines on 10/02/2016 at 1:37 pm

It’s geography, not because as TRE nuts claim, S’pore is run by the PAP:

Despite the excellence of equatorial Singapore’s airline and airport, the city-state has limited potential as a hub because the territory that cannot easily be reached nonstop is the American continent.

Singapore Airlines abandoned direct flights to the US after failing to attract enough premium business to make an 18-hour or so flight profitable, though it announced plans last year to revive the service. From New York, aircraft struggle to reach southern Africa and, more significantly, Southeast Asia.

But, from western Europe, Australia and New Zealand are the only major destinations out of reach. From the Gulf you can get to almost everywhere. That is why Dubai and London are among the world’s busiest international airports.

FT’s John Kay. Emphasis mine.

The silence of Amos Yee

In Media on 10/02/2016 at 7:27 am

Readers may want to know that his verbal diarrhea has stopped.

His last post on Facebook was on 12 Jan, when he reposted an old video telling Sec4 students to drop out of the education system. The O-level results had just been made public.

His last tweet was on Jan 23.

The rest is silence.

Being a foul-mouth brat who wants to be a celebrity is impossible when the MSM, new media and social media refuse to give him the oxygen of publicity.

Being a fugitive from justice that the police cannot be bothered to arrest is a really demotalising thing for a wannabe celebrity. He’ll later this yr be an NS defaulter. That’s the time, he’ll be arrested, and thrown into jail. Hard then for the human rights activists to claim that he’s being persecuted.

But maybe he’ll commit suicide first to get some publicity? Or as is more likely pretend to.

He can see the attention Benjamin Lim is getting. I hope he realises that S’poreans know that unlike Benjamin Lim, he Amos Yee, is the authour of his fate. Poor Bejamin died because of “honest” mistakes by MoE and police officers.

Update on 11 Feb at 7 am: A regular commenter made some great comments (Emphasis mine):

Amos has his mum to provide for him, and Roy realised quite early his game is up, immediately started to find work after GE. Wonder about HHH. Whos gonna support her?

Reality bites huh. These fellows were very happily lapping it all up, milking it for what its worth.

But the worst situation is not that people actively silencing you, or people speaking against you. Or IBs with fake accounts commenting on your page.

The worst for people like them – is when no one cares.

Benjamin’s death and PM’s CNY message

In Uncategorized on 09/02/2016 at 12:16 pm

I tot of Benjamin Lim and his family when I read the following on CNA

‘Family an important building block of society’: PM Lee in CNY message

In his Chinese New Year message on Sunday (Feb 7), Mr Lee said that the Government will continue to support Singaporeans “in the many responsibilities and joys of parenthood”, adding that he hoped to see more babies born in the new year.

Come on PM: pull the other leg, it’s got bells on it. Sadly, it’s not funny.

Whatever comes out of the investigations into Benjamin Lim’s suicide one thing is already very clear.

The SOPs of the police and MoE and the actions of their officers show that MoE and the police, they do not believe that parents’ have rights and that teenagers can be very fragile people*.

On the latter first.

A school is a kampung so why did the police commander send in five policemen in plainclothes (with some allegedly wearing tee-shirts with the word “POLICE”, which if true defeats the purpose of wearing mufti) in two unmarked cars? Two cars with five persons coming into the school compound during recess is sure to attract attention. And more when all or most of them head for principal’s office. Furthermore remember that students are observant and will notice the guns being carried under mufti.

If I were a student, I’d find a legitimate excuse to get into the general office which I assume is adjacent and connected to the principal’s office.

And then students will notice a schoolmate being escorted in by the student counsellor. They will notice that he’s being rushed as he is carrying his lunch into the office (a no-no in normal circumstances). Why liddatt?

I’d have lied to get into the general office. I know someone was in big trouble.

And while, we don’t know how Benjamin Lim was escorted out, we can guess based on pictures from ST etc on how suspects are escorted by the police. There’ll be one person in front, one on each side of the suspect and one behind.

Students would say, “Double confirm! Ben’s in big, big trouble!”

My point is that students are very observant, can put “two and two together”, gossip a lot and love teasing (I can imagine the teasing he’d face). This is something that the police and the school officials couldn’t be bothered to think about when they did what they did.

So the police should have been a lot more discrete. Three officers in one car and only one to into the general, principal office. And turn up when lessons are in progress, so that there’s no crowd to see what’s happening.

And so could have the school: the counsellor should let him eat his food before escorting him to the office.

As to the rights of parents, why couldn’t the police wait for the parents to come to the school to accompany the student to the police station.  It really wasn’t a “time is of the essence kind of investigation”. It was not as though he was suspected of planting a bomb that was going to go off at any moment, killing or hurting people.

I found the initial police response via a retired cop chilling. He said the law allowed to the policemen do what he did and thaz the end of the story. And he’s supposed to be a police “ambassador” to the public?

As for MoE’s disregard for the rights of parents (Schools must comply with the law, duty of care to parents is secondary: my interpretation of MoE’s remarks to the media), I can do no better than quote what Dr Wong Souk Yee Chairperson of the SDP wrote:”School officials must be aware that their duty is, first and foremost, to protect students’ welfare as well as their families’ interests. Doing this would not impede law enforcement officers from carrying out their duty. It would, on the other hand, help to prevent tragedies like Benjamin’s suicide from taking place.”

If PM’s

“Family an important building block of society” 

And that the Government will continue to support Singaporeans “in the many responsibilities and joys of parenthood”

are to mean anything, heads must role, and procedures relooked.

For example I’m told that it’s SOP that five policemen should be sent to arrest any one person. Commanders have discretion but they know that if anything goes wrong, they’ll be asked, “Why no five officers? Don’t know SOP isit?” Want to be her isit?” So they always send five.

“Even if the police were concerned that Benjamin would not be co-operative and could overpower the officers and escape, how far could he have run? And even if he did make a getaway, did the police not have his family, school and classmates that they could contact?” Dr Wong wrote.

Come on PM, pull the other leg: it’s got bells on it.

Sadly, it’s not funny.


*Not all of them are brats like Amos Yee and not all parents are as irresponsible like his Mother Mary.

Retiring to UK is cheaper than retiring here

In Uncategorized on 09/02/2016 at 5:13 am

S’pore (8th) is juz ahead of Kuwait and UK. Surprising Oz is 6th and NZ 7th.

S’pore’s a distant third but pips Bangkok

In Economy, Tourism on 08/02/2016 at 2:34 pm

KL’s a distant 10th


Reunion dinner tot

In Uncategorized on 07/02/2016 at 2:00 pm

Let’s pause and remember the pain and grief of Benjamin Lim’s family.

For me personally, the most troubling fact is that five police officers were sent to arrest the boy.

A school is a kampung so why did the police commander send in five policemen in plainscloth with some possibly wearing tee-shirts with the word “POLICE”, which if true defeats the purpose of weaing mufti)  in two unmarked cars. Two cars with five persons coming into the school compound is sure to attract attention. And more when all or ,ost of them head for principal’s office.

If I were a student, I’d find a legtimate excuse to get into the general office which I assume is adjacent and connected to the principal’s office.

And then one sees one’s schoolmate being escorted into the principal’s office by the student counsellor.

I’d have lied to get into the general office.

My point is that the police and the school were doing everything but shout “Someone’s in serious trouble.”


The Hard Truth of risk/ Thinking out of the box

In Uncategorized on 07/02/2016 at 9:20 am

“I knew I wanted to take risks but that’s hard if you’re paying a lot of rent …” said a founder of a theatre in London.

That’s the reality when the PAP administration decries the lack of an entrepreneurs and the unwillingness of young S’poreans to take risks.

So how does the guy in the UK fund his theatre the basic tactic is not to rely too much on any one source of finance.

“The most vital income is the restaurant and bar and the music programme we offer there. Actually it’s the drinks which make the money far more than the food. People come and have a meal and then see a show and then they stay to drink afterwards. Box-office is less than 10% of what keeps us going.

Japs prefer S’pore to France, Sweden. Korea

In Japan on 06/02/2016 at 3:26 pm

Japan chart

VIIPs are Asean

In India, Indonesia, Uncategorized, Vietnam on 06/02/2016 at 6:58 am

This lumps together Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines for their similar economic and demographic prospects. It serves as a catchall for a number of relative bright spots in Southeast Asia as investors into the region look beyond China’s long shadow.

More cracks in Noble Hse’s foundations

In China, Commodities, Corporate governance on 05/02/2016 at 3:23 pm

Look’s like the Yr of the Monkey (starting on Monday) is not going to be good for Noble. I had posted that Monkey, the trickster, could be gd news for the trader.

Two things just went wrong and the effects will be felt in the new year especially as it is trying to refinance almost US$2.2bn of debt bank with bankers concerned about more asset write-offs in the light of a US$300m write-off.

And these two events make it harder has to find a strategic investor to help srengthsn its balance sheet.

First, Nyrstar, the world’s largest producer of zinc, is ending its agreement to supply Noble Group one year early. This deals another a blow to the embattled commodities trader.

And S&P has downgraded fellow trader’s Glencore’s debt to one notch above junk. Noble followed Glencore into morphing from a trader to becoming a mining trader.

1MDB, govt insists that US$4bn not unaccounted for

In Malaysia on 05/02/2016 at 4:28 am

This can only happen in M’sia. M’sia Boleh

Switzerland has been investigating Malaysia’s scandal-hit 1MDB fund since last year. Last week, its Attorney-General Michael Lauber said US$4bn may be missing from Malaysian state firms

1MDB denies its money has been stolen and says its internal investigations have found no evidence of crimes.

Now, A Malaysian minister said this [US$4bn missing] was not possible due to extensive audits, and called the [Swiss] statements “premature”.

In a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday, Malaysia’s communications minister Salleh Said Keruak said 1MDB had undergone extensive audits, some by international firms, and that billions of dollars “simply could not have been misappropriated under such conditions”.

The fund had also issued explanations and financial breakdowns about alleged losses, he said, and other state-linked firms had made public filings that showed they did not sustain losses caused by misappropriation of funds.

He said Mr Lauber’s comments were “very unusual and against normal protocol”, and criticised him for speaking to the media, rather than to Malaysian authorities who he said had been waiting to hear from Switzerland.

“These premature statements appear to have been made without a full and comprehensive appreciation of all the facts,” said Mr Salleh.

BBC report

Why the SDP way is the future

In Political governance on 04/02/2016 at 11:42 am

We now know how a bunch of social workers whose poster gal ids PAP MP Kate Spade Tin have made fools of themselves in parly over the issue on NCMPs. It’s chief called them duckweed, then wanted one of the posts. I’ll blog on this after CNY as I want to hear the gossip on why WP did what they did. As I saw the situation, the WP could have had its cake and eat it: opposing the existence of the NCMP posts while pushing for Danirl Goh to get the post that Ah Lian didn’t want.

But it really double confirms that the SDP approach is the better way.

Photoshopped movie poster on the Singapore 2015 election by PixelGod

Too bad that this didn’t happen. He and his team got trashed but that doesn’t detract from fact, as I’ve said before the only oppo party with a coherent and comprehensive set of policies is the SDP*. Now I have many issues with the funding of these policies, and Chee’s trust of the neighbours, but the SDP is not coming into power any time soon. So the existence of these policies allows easier debate of the Hard Truths, if the sheep S’poreans want to do so. And the indications are that the lambs are more willing than their elders to do so.

SDP realised a few yrs ago that no opposition party can get into Parliament simply on the basis of a protest vote, i.e., a vote against the PAP**. An opposition party also needs a pro-party vote, i.e., people consciously voting for the party. The sum total of the entire protest vote plus a significant pro-party vote will then get an opposition party across the finish line. (Derek da Cunha, a political observer, during the 2015 GE campaign)

The problem is that while it has the plan right, it’s not a party that is trusted by those willing to vote for Dr Tan Cheng Bock (my short hand for the swing voter) in preference to the PAP’s preferred candidate. WP is the only Oppo party  that these people trust. So let’s hope the WP starts formulating policies rather than say “We are PAP Lite”:

*SDP’s list of policies

These papers have been widely reported online and are available on this website. We list them below:

Ethical Salaries For A Public Service Centred Government (2011)
Caring For All Singaporeans: The SDP National Healthcare Plan (2012)
Housing A Nation: Holistic Policies For Affordable Homes (2013)
Building A People: Sound Policies For A Secure Future (2013)
A Singapore For All Singaporeans: Addressing The Concerns Of The Malay Community(2014)
Educating For Creativity And Equality: An Agenda For Transformation (2014)
A New Economic Vision: Towrads Innovation, Equal Opportunity and Compassion (2015)
A Promise To The Residents: The SDP Town Council Management Plan (2015)

In addition, we published Shadow Budgets for 2012 and 2013.

Singapore Democrats


**Worked for WP but George Yeo and his wimmin from hell were too atas for voters. Didn’t work in 2015. WP Low’s insight




Windows 10 to rescue S’pore?

In Economy on 04/02/2016 at 5:42 am

Manufacturing activity in the Republic contracted for the seventh straight month in January amid a decline in new orders, a drop in factory output and lower employment.

The latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reading released on Tuesday (Feb 2) came in at 49.0, down from the December 2015 reading of 49.5. A reading above 50 means that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction, according to the Singapore Institute of Purchasing & Materials Management (SIPMM),

Manufacturing activity in the electronics sector also contracted for the seventh straight month in January, with the PMI coming in at 48.5, down from 48.9 in December. The drop was due to a continued decline in new orders, factory output as well as employment in the sector, said SIPMM.

Inventory for the electronics sector expanded, due to faster deliveries from electronics suppliers. However, new export orders continued to contract for the 12th consecutive month, and this affected the supporting industry and dragged down the overall manufacturing economy, said SIPMM.


IDC, a research firm said PC sales should improve later this year as companies that had delayed replacing computers ahead of the release of Windows 10 last summer start buying again. This should help us as we are part of the PC galactic empire, not the Apple or Android universes. Explanation

Last yr was another yr to forget according to IDC

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 71.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015 (4Q15), a year-on-year decline of -10.6%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC ) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker . Although total shipments were in line with already conservative expectations, the news nonetheless ended 2015 as the first year below 300 million units since 2008. The holiday quarter achieved a modest uptick compared to the third quarter, but the year-on-year decline in 2015 shipments was nevertheless the largest in history, surpassing the decline of -9.8% in 2013.

The PC market continued to face persistent challenges from longer-PC lifecycles and competition from mobile phones and tablets, despite the slowing growth in those markets.


Our cock town planners

In India, Infrastructure, S'pore Inc on 03/02/2016 at 2:13 pm

They cut and paste ang moh ideas. Works in Animal Farm but not in India

“The draft masterplan for Amaravati was prepared by planners from the Singapore government as part of an agreement between the state of Andhra Pradesh and Singapore,” explained Srikant Nagulapalli, commissioner of theAndhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA). “But when the first draft arrived, we realised that it would not work.”

According to Nagulapalli: “Global town planning principles do not take Vaasthuinto consideration. But the people of Andhra Pradesh have a deep-rooted belief and will not buy any property that is not north- or east-facing. We had to send [the draft plan] back to the master planners and ask them to rework it taking these principles into account. The whole capital city project would have had no buyers if the initial draft had been implemented,” he said.


“The master planners with the Singapore government were puzzled,” Nagulapalli said. “They wanted to know what Vaasthu was and who wrote it. We were stumped. After some rather frantic research, we found that the Indian scholar Varahamihira had written it in the 6th century. We have learnt a lot during the process of building this capital.”


Amaravati was envisioned as a world-class smart city, the first to be part-funded by the Indian government. The new city will be built at an expected cost of 1 trillion rupees (£10.7bn) on 217.23 square kilometres of land on the banks of the Krishna river, and is expected to generate jobs to sustain a population of 9-12 million people in the surrounding capital region.

The Andhra Pradesh government signed a pro-bono agreement with Singapore in December 2014 to plan the new capital. In all, the government of Singapore, along with private agency Surbana Jurong, committed to preparing three masterplans – the last of which, the “seed capital masterplan” for the core of the city (which will house the Central Business District and the state’s new government offices) was only submitted last week.

Double confirm” Noble Houses’s acoounting is ignoble

In China, Commodities, Corporate governance on 03/02/2016 at 6:20 am

The planned sale of Noble Agri to China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation for US$750 million was backed by 90% of shareholders who voted at a special meeting in Singapore, last week.

But this means a U$500m writedown on the US$1.3bn valuation ascribed to the Noble Agri stake in Noble’s accounts: seemingly vindicating claims that its accounting is very aggresive. :

Well we’ll soon know what banks think about Noble’s accounting as it’s in talks about refinancing its credit lines. Banks have been pretty accomodative so far but this write-off is worrying them about other potential write-offs in asset values.

It’s online deractor says its claims of malpractice by Noble have been vindicated. Iceberg Research has claimed the company inflated asset values and booked profits on deals long before receiving any cash from the transactions. Mgt rubbished the claims, even getting an int’l accounting firm, PwC (I think) to say its latter practice was halal (kosher).

Wah Piow’s other option to clear his name

In Uncategorized on 02/02/2016 at 11:28 am

If AG refuses to review the case with a view of asking the courts to set it aside, Tan Wah Piow has an alternative. He can engage a good lawyer (Peter Low, who happens to be a former DPP. would be a good choice. He also happens to be respected by the judiciary and AGC. He’s no talk cock, sing song lawyer like Ravi, but a lawyer’s lawyer.) to petition the courts to set the verdict aside.

I know someone who pleaded guilty to a highly technical charge, only to find that his fellow co-defendants were found not guilty (Albeit they had to spend really serious money along the way. One spent, it seems over $1m). He asked the AG to ask the court to set aside his conviction. AG refused and so he engaged lawyers. He won.

So Tan has an alternative way to proceed. And if he has no money, he can try  crowdsourcing.. Dr Chee, Roy raised money this way. It’ll force the ant-PAP folks to put their money where there mouth is. Though, he shouldn’t expect much from the born-loser vermin of TRELand. They only know how to Talk the Talk, not Walk the Talk. The site needs $, but they are sitting on their hands. Right Oxygen, Dosh and BK? The leaders of that rat pack are related to Jason Chua of FATPAP.

More evidence that Tan Wah Piow was fixed? Further to this where I told a story not reported by ST on the way the glass splinters fell in the case, a regular reader who is knowledgable about the period commented on the “lock” that made the SG look like a cock.

The ST reporter who covered the case was the late Ben Davidson. He did an outstanding job giving great details. One glaring piece of evidence clearly in the defendants’ favour was ignored by the judge. The Solicitor-General (later High Court judge) Wahab Ghows produced the lock of the room in question as evidence to show that it would only lock from the inside. When the judge ordered it be demonstrated, the reverse was true, much to the consternation of the audience and the Court. If this is not sufficient evidence of the veracity of the defence case, I do not know what will be.



HoHoHo: Won this one

In Temasek on 02/02/2016 at 5:07 am

Olam short failed and maybe guy lost all his money, so starting hedge fund?

Short-Seller Carson Block Launches Hedge Fund Carson Block, founder of the research firm Muddy Waters who exposed accounting problems and wrongdoing at a series of Chinese companies, has started a hedge fund investment firm, a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed.

NYT Dealbook

Bue bye Brics, Hello Tick

In China, India on 01/02/2016 at 4:36 pm

Tech-heavy Taiwan, India, China and Korea are the new darlings of the fund mgrs managing emerging mkts funds. Brazil, Russia and South Africa are history. They produce now unwanted commodities.

The Devil has the best returns

In Financial competency on 01/02/2016 at 1:35 pm

From FTEthical funding


“Companies misaligned with sharia law, such as beer brewers and cigarette producers, may be unethical, but these are companies that often offer stable, dividend-paying returns,” says an analyst from Morningstarcovering sharia products.

Related post: UK MPs subject to sharia law