Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category

Najib owes China big time

In Malaysia on 28/11/2015 at 5:07 pm

So the Chinese in M’sia will under the protection of the Chinese ambassador who has spoken out against anti-Chineseracism

It’s rare to see the Malaysian ringgit rise against the US dollar – especially given its performance this year – down some 18%.

Even more curious that it happened while regional currencies like the Indonesian rupiah and Thai baht continued to fall.

Research houses are also upgrading their forecasts for Malaysia’s stock markets and the economy.

So what’s driving all this positivity?

Well, in part it is thanks to the sale of the energy assets at one of Malaysia’s most notorious institutions: IMDB.

1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) is a state investment fund set up in 2009 and was supposed to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub. But it is currently on a fragile financial footing.

Now, 1MDB has sold one of it, and Malaysia’s, most coveted power assets, Edra Global Energy, to China General Nuclear for $2.3bn (£1.5bn).

PAP voters are like M’sian Malays?

In Malaysia on 24/11/2015 at 5:15 am

When TRE republished this, there was an interesting response from a reader comparing the M’sian and S’pore body politick. I like the comparison (“similarity” a better word?) between the majorities in both countries. And do read the last para, it’s a gem.


The Malaysian political/judicial/economic system as it is today is in a mess. Forward looking Malaysian Muslims are aware and deeply concerned so much so that some are joining the DAP, a supposedly Chinese dominated party.

But the majority of the Muslims are either apathetic, unconcerned or too brain-washed by their leaders (political and/or religious) to understand the issues. Unfortunately, here lies the similarity between them and many Singaporeans.

If the DAP succeeds in showing Malaysians that a country can be ruled with competence, accountability and transparency (their proposed CAT system of governance) then it will be a blessings for all Malaysians, present and future.

But there is a lot of caveats. Can the DAP itself avoid the scourge of corruption from appearing among its own leaders and ranks? Can it avoid the stigma of being a “Chinese controlled” party amongst the Malays? Can it convinced the majority Malays that it does not have any hidden agenda but is a truly credible and competent party?

Again here-in lies similarities between the DAP and our opposition parties. Can our opposition parties maintain a high level of integrity and competency once voted in? For those not yet in parliament, do they have hidden vendetta and are truly out to serve the people (or themselves)?

The difference between Singapore and Malaysia is that we are not in as big a mess as they are. But it is scary to see the same level of complacency amongst the majority from both countries. One majority made up by race while the other made up by political affiliation.

Here’s how confusing the situation is there that an ang moh thinks that Najib will call a GE soon.

My Facebook avater responded: He’s got 2 and a half yrs in office unless UMNO kicks him out.. If he goes for GE and loses, likely to be prosecuted. Waz that in the context context of adding two and a yrs more?

I’ll add that even if he (or rather his wife otherwise knowwn as FLOM: First Lady of M’sia) wants to double down and wins a GE, he might not last another five yrs. UMNO could still kick him out. And if he (or rather FLOM ) wants to call GE and the IMNO regional leaders disagree, he’ll be out of a job. This ang moh talks cock.

Somewhat related Post: We forgot these lions

S’pore mercenary prick of region?

In Malaysia on 14/11/2015 at 5:16 am

Remember this outburst

The verbal sparring between Malaysia’s opposition lawmaker Tony Pua and Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan over whether Malaysian Chinese are delusional in trying to change the political system escalated today (Oct 9), after Mr Pua lashed out at Singapore, calling the Republic a “mercenary prick”.

“He did Singapore no favour by cementing the perception of his country as the mercenary prick of Southeast Asia … And they wonder why they have no friends,” the Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker wrote on Facebook today. “I don’t care much if this was the view of some academic or armchair critic. But as the Ambassador-at-large, Mr Bilahari is a spokesman for Singapore.”

Funny for a senior member of a party whose leaders came to S’pore to report to one LKY when the DAP won power in Penang. Did the chief minister and his dad kowtow to Harry Lee?

Well so how come the DAP opposes S’pore type measure that the M’sian govt initiated

Pointing out that Singapore also has cash assistance policies, Prime Minister Najib Razak defended today (Nov 1) the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) cash handout.

Mr Najib said Putrajaya was only looking after the interests of lower income groups and those in rural areas burdened by rising living costs.

“If Singapore can give cash aid, why can’t Malaysia also give out BR1M?” Mr Najib said in a speech at the Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) conference here.

Yes in deed, why not DAP?

S’pore faces tricky Sino-US balancing act

In China, Malaysia on 13/11/2015 at 4:53 am

“Malaysia faces tricky Sino-US balancing act”* was the headline of an ST story on an inside last Friday.

Actually the headline should be changed to “S’pore” and put on the front page to commemorate president Xi’s visit.

After all, we are a forward base for the US navy in all but name what with “Two US Navy (USN) Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) will be forward deployed to Singapore in 2016, a senior USN official has confirmed.”

And we know don’t we that the US navy intends to challenge China’s claims that the South China Sea is China’s?

And we know that both the US and China are big trading and investment partners od S’pore.


*Text: As the United States and Japan tussled with China over the wording of a concluding statement at an Asian security meeting in Kuala Lumpur this week, caught in the middle was host Malaysia.

Plans for a joint statement were eventually dropped by the Malaysian government due to disagreements over the disputed South China Sea. US and Japanese officials wanted to address Beijing’s island- building. Chinese officials resisted.

The episode illustrates the thin line Malaysia and other smaller South-east Asian states must walk in balancing ties with China and the US, especially since a US warship last week challenged the territorial limits around one of China’s man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago.

Malaysia’s biggest trading partner is China, according to Malaysian government statistics and, in contrast to other countries with competing claims to the South China Sea, such as the Philippines and Vietnam, it has typically played down concerns over China’s expanding military reach.

Nevertheless, US defence officials say Malaysia, along with other states in the region, has sought a greater US military presence to counter Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea.

“We see the increased demand… really across the board in the region,” said a senior US defence official. “Malaysia’s a good example.”

Yesterday, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter visited the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea, accompanied by Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, as he wrapped up a three-day stay in Kuala Lumpur. Mr Carter called the ship’s presence “a sign of the critical role that US military power plays in what is a very consequential region for the American future”.

US Marines and their Malaysian counterparts will also hold a joint amphibious training exercise next week in eastern Malaysia.

Malaysia has a long-standing arrangement to service and supply US military ships and aircraft as they pass through the region, making them frequent visitors to its ports. The number of US ship visits has steadily risen, from a handful per year in the early 2000s to more than 30 visits in 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin this week highlighted the quandary for smaller states, saying he hoped nations outside the region would not raise tensions. “We will continue to engage China. We will continue to engage the US,” he said. “The fact that we are able to engage them and actually look at the reality… That is a clear message to the major powers out there.”

US and Western diplomats say they have been keen for several years for Malaysia to pay closer attention to mounting security challenges in the region, particularly from China. Chinese warships have staged regular patrols off James Shoal off the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo.

Diplomats and analysts who have viewed satellite images say Chinese coast guard ships now also maintain a semi-permanent presence at South Luconia Shoals, to the north of James Shoal.

“Malaysia’s role and importance in broader security issues, particularly the South China Sea, is only going to grow more strategic,” one Western diplomat said. “It is a matter of pushing and nudging them into doing the right thing, rather than expecting them to take a lead and confront China.”


Why Johor royals talking of secession?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile Johor businesses continue to suffer.

The continuing row adds further pressure to property prices in Iskandar which is facing a glut of supply

It seems the Chinese developers are already having second tots about the projects they announced so confidently earlier this year and late last year .  Johor royalty is involved in many of these Chinese projects.

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

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


*Despite another hike** in April this year S’pore hasn’t followed.

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




1MDB: FBI examining Goldman Sachs

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

NYT Dealbook:

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


M$ can fall further/ M’sia boleh

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

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

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

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

M’sia: Why Cina & Kelang bitching

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 26/09/2015 at 1:02 pm

And why the Malay ultras think that they are ingrates.

BN wastes reserves defending ringgit

Big Asean stk mkt falls

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 25/09/2015 at 1:15 pm


Remember MayBank Kim Eng says Thailand and S’pore mkts most resilient in region.

M’sia’s not that bad, Worry about Indonesia

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 19/09/2015 at 4:37 am

Here’s another analysis coming to the same conclusion

Idonesia is 4th after some real dogs Venezuela, Turkey and Ukraine. Yikes, it might be a another real dog.

M’sia is way down even below PinoyLand. Thailand is juz better than M’sia while Vietnam is really safe by the standards of the others. Safer than Saudi Arabia.

When Fed raises rates, regional currencies will tank

In Currencies, Indonesia, Malaysia on 17/09/2015 at 2:00 pm


Why M$ fall should worry

In Currencies, Emerging markets, Malaysia on 15/09/2015 at 1:35 pm

FX reserves

The ringgit lost 20% (ine of the worse performing currencies) of its value against the dollar this year despite Bank Negara spending 29% of its FX reserves to slow the fall. If it had spent less, rinngit would have fallen a lot more.


Uncharacteristic of Low/ Low rattled?

In Accounting, Malaysia on 06/09/2015 at 5:26 am

To be fair, Low said

“In Singapore, if we had committed any criminal offence, we would already been thrown in jail!

“If there were any corruption, would they still leave you alone?”

Seriously, I always tot that a lot of the ministers’ attacks on AHPTEC’s accounts and affairs were over the top and were actually damaging the PAP rather than WP: own goals.

But perhaps the PAP were trying to goad the WP into remarks like what Low did above. I personally find Low’s comments offensive because I know that if proper records were not kept*, it’s impossible to find out if crimes were committed. Low’s “But the most important is after the inspection of the accounts, they found no criminal offence,” is absurd. There may be none. But the only way to find out is to reconstruct the accounts using forensic analysis.

Here two comments by the Pet Minister are relevant: “Another observation the High Court made was that if this kind of conduct had taken place in a public company, it probably would attract criminal sanctions,” the Pet Minister said.

And, “The High Court said Ms Lim misled Parliament, was dishonest. She has not responded to that.”

Only a PAP victory in Aljunied will reveal if the WP leaders can be charged in court.

Low used to be known to use silence or non-action as a weapon effectively. Not anymore?

Take his comments on GST

I’m suggesting that we have enough representation in Parliament,” Mr Low said. “So that after the elections, they have to think twice if they want to do anything, including the GST hike.”

“From past experience, it shows that the PAP is always capable of doing something, revising policies which will affect the lives of people after the general election,” Mr Low said on Saturday.

 He forgot this?

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) says there is “no basis” to claims made by some online websites that the Government will raise the Goods and Services Tax (GST) after the upcoming General Election (GE).

In a post on the website on Thursday (Aug 6), the MOF said that online chatter, which claimed that GST would be increased to 10 per cent, were “inconsistent with what the Government has recently stated”.

“In the 2015 Budget Statement in February, DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam stated that the revenue measures the Government had already undertaken will provide sufficiently for the increased spending planned for the rest of this decade,” the MOF noted.

Among the measures is the inclusion of Temasek Holdings in the Government’s Net Investment Returns (NIR) framework from 2016, and the increase in the top marginal rates for personal income tax from Year of Assessment 2017. The statement added: “These measures came after moves in recent years to make Singapore’s property tax rates more progressive, with significantly increased tax rates for high value residential properties, offsetting reduced tax rates for lower value homes.”

Related posts:



*When the AGO auditors went in to do a special audit of the TC , they were horrified to find that the TC’s archival and record system consisted of a room full of piled up boxes overflowing with documents.  No proper record keeping and many missing records, some conveniently so for FMSS as related third party transactions were found to be an issue by the AGO and even later by the TC’s own auditors. What was Sylvia and her MPs doing during all this time?  To be blunt, they had been sleeping on the job, underestimated the challenge of running a GRC TC and trusted the wrong people to do it but who screwed them. The only problem is because the monies are all residents’ monies, the ones who got royally screwed are the residents of AHPETC and many of them till today don’t even know it.

Warning, blogger is pro-PAP.




Don’t laugh at M’sians

In Currencies, Malaysia on 03/09/2015 at 4:18 pm

Markets EM currenciesRinggit has fallen 18% more or less but 11.6% ain;t that great

Ringgit, Rupiah got a lot more room to fall?

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

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

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

Holiday in M’sia, Indonesia

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

Against US dollar.

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

But these currencies depreciate against S$ too.

SG50: Dr M calls M’sia from Hell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M’sia: Tak boleh? Indonesia not far behind?

In Currencies, Indonesia, Malaysia on 04/08/2015 at 12:59 pm

Asia currencies main

S’pore’s casinos: 8th, 9th globally/ Sands S’pore beats Sands Macau

In Casinos, China, Malaysia on 01/08/2015 at 5:09 pm



Biggest Macau casinos don’t have US parents: they have strong local connections. 

Exports slump in Asean: Will affect S’pore

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Property on 01/08/2015 at 4:47 am

For starters, a lot less tourists from Indonesia. And upper end properties will continue to be in dolddrums.

S’pore’s on the wrong side of history

In Economy, Malaysia on 11/07/2015 at 1:19 pm

So is M’sia (think DAP Penang) too. We belong to the MS ecosystem not that of Android or Apple.

Related post



As it’s Ramadan, think Hijaber

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 04/07/2015 at 4:47 am

The buying power of trendy fashion-conscious Muslim women M’sia and Indonesia according to the FT.  It should add in S’pore too.

S’pore not part of Apple’s ecosystem

In China, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam on 29/06/2015 at 12:04 pm

Neither is M’sia or SE Asia. It’s Northern Asia. I blogged yonks ago that we are part of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Apple iPhone component suppliers

HK ahead of us, Switzerland, M’sia behind us

In Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia on 07/06/2015 at 4:06 am

Chart: Top 20 investors, 2014

Plenty of gas around us

In Energy, Indonesia, Malaysia on 06/06/2015 at 5:06 am

Govt’s plan to be a lNG trading hub is a no-brainer.

World's top LNG producers


Iskandar prices off a cliff already? Stabilising?

In Malaysia, Property on 24/05/2015 at 10:05 am

Nah remember the supply

When a PAP minister (think Lawrence Wong) voices concern over oversupply there, cybernuts who infest TRE (like rats and bugs infest Bukit Batok and suicides inhabit Bedok Reservoir) should be buying Iskandar properties since they always say “PAP always wrong. But then they got no money, and have no access to credit. Even ah loongs avoid them.

Eat yr hearts out Pinoys, Dr M

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 23/05/2015 at 5:13 am

Our economy in absolute terms is bigger than PeenoyLand. And we only slighly smaller than M’sia. Only Thailand and Indonland bigger than us in absolute terms.

Iskandar: UMNO, DAP MPs agree

In Malaysia, Property on 02/05/2015 at 4:24 am

It’s in deep trouble. They all have constituencies in the area.

Picking up on a warning by Malaysia’s largest bank of the risks of a housing glut in Iskandar, Johor lawmakers have cautioned against foreign investors’ optimism about the development corridor’s economic boom and population growth, saying that demand for premium homes in Iskandar has lagged far behind supply.

“There is a misconception about the demand market here … there is a clear mismatch between supply and demand,” Mr Shahrir Abdul Samad, Member of Parliament (MP) for Johor Baru, told the Malay Mail Online.

“There is an oversupply of premium properties, (but) the demand … is for medium- and low-cost ones, owing to people’s incomes,” added the former Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister.

Mr Shahrir said it was only natural for developers of premium residential properties in Iskandar to be hardest-hit by the dip in prices and secondary sales, as those projects were never the focus of the region.

“You have to be fair to Iskandar, as housing was never part of its main draft. The crux of its investment was more on services, hospitality and manufacturing, as well as allocations for small- and medium-sized enterprises. The investments we are interested in are not housing, and this is why we have called in Pinewood and Legoland to Iskandar,” said Mr Shahrir, referring to South-east Asia’s largest integrated studio facility and the popular theme park, respectively.

“That is the main investment strategy, but because of all these, foreign developers think there is a demand for their properties, and that is not happening. This is what’s happening, and they have to live with it. If they are willing to take the risk, then we can’t stop them,” the senior lawmaker from United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) said.

Dr Boo Cheng Hau, Johor opposition leader and Skudai assemblyman, noted that these residential projects were launched without sufficient supporting services or industries in place to make them viable in the near term.

The Democratic Action Party (DAP) MP said the region was not yet able to accommodate a surge in tourism or fulfil the needs of foreign investors seeking to take advantage of Malaysia’s second-home schemes.

“There will be a sustainable demand for properties here, but not in the near future. It will take another five to 10 years to see a boom in sectors such as manufacturing, services and so on, (and) a more steady increase in demand for properties,” Dr Boo said in an earlier email interview.

Mr Liew Chin Tong, DAP’s Kluang MP, stressed that the rapid pace of property development in Iskandar had no real legs on which to stand, a situation that is not helped by the nationwide slowdown in the property market.

“Johor is a case of killing the golden goose too fast, too greedily. The property market is not sustained by a genuine working population with income to support their investments, while borrowing rates are surging, waiting for the bubble to burst,” Mr Liew said when contacted.

But here’s one UMNO optimist:

However, UMNO’s Pulai MP, Mr Nur Jazlan Mohamed, believes the upcoming RM53 billion (S$19.7 billion) Pengerang Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development (RAPID) project will provide the needed jobs and spending capacity to revive the region’s flagging property market.

“Property in Iskandar is experiencing a down cycle, but (sales) will pick up once corporate businesses like RAPID kick-start. Once corporations set up businesses in Iskandar, things will pick up. When businesses come in offering higher job opportunities, only then will the supply (of residential property) be taken up. (Iskandar) will not become a white elephant,” he said. MALAY MAIL

(20 April Today)

Thailand, M’sia, S’pore got a problem/ S’poreans stupid?

In Economy, Financial competency, Malaysia, Property on 26/04/2015 at 3:21 am

Singapore – where the ratio of household debt is 75% About 75% of this household debts are mortgage loans – See more at:

The “affordable” 25 year HDB loan is responsible for S’pore’s high household debt. And remember it’s not freehold not a 99-yr lease from the govt.

S’poreans like Brits are stupid? [T]he economists calculate that homeowners discount future benefits over the very long run at a rate of 2.6% per year. This is lower than the rates used by governments to assess infrastructure projects or by pension funds to evaluate their liabilities, and suggests that the general public is more patient than the authorities give it credit for.

More CGT BS? Swiss Standard? What Swiss standard?

In China, India, Malaysia on 25/04/2015 at 5:19 am

Switzerland has been ranked the happiest country in world.

Singapore is ranked 24th But is tops in Asean and region. Thailand is placed at 34, Taiwan (38), Japan (46), South Korea (47), Malaysia (61), Hong Kong (72), Indonesia (74) and PinoyLand (90).  China and India are found lower down the scale at 84 and 117 respectively

More FTs like him pls

In Malaysia on 19/04/2015 at 4:45 am

Born in Penang, Malaysia, before being raised in Singapore …

The founder and design director of Singapore-based SCDA Architects, Mr Chan has over the past 20 years built up a business that today employs more than 100 architects and designers.

Its past projects around the world range from luxury hotel resorts in Bali and the Caribbean, the National Design Centre in Singapore, a shopping centre in Beijing, a government building in New Delhi, to private houses from France to Malaysia.

Not only that, he got six sons.

And less of Foreign Trash like Han Hui Hui and local trash like Roy Ngerng anf Amos Yee and Lionel de Souza.

Iskandar: Dummies Guide on why it’s rubbish

In Malaysia, Property on 18/04/2015 at 4:08 am

Buy Klang Valley :

Klang Valley, in particular, is preferred because of the upcoming KVMRT and LRT lines, and potential KL-Singapore high-speed rail project, which will end at Bandar …

More importantly, the strong population growth potential in Greater KL and Klang Valley – a possible 40 per cent increase to 10 million by 2020 – offers more sustainable demand for properties, it added.

And Penang instead

Err both Oppo areas.

(Above courtesy of MayBank via CNA)

Sultan of Johor will not be happy. MayBank executives (esp analysts) should avoid JB. Neither will UMNO be happy even though most of Iskandar is in a DAP consituency (MP Lim Kit Siang: he and his son came down to see LKY when the DAP won Penang. Got kow tow meh?)

Caution advised on IskandarLand

The property oversupply situation in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor, is “likely to get worse before it gets better”, said Maybank Investment Bank’s research … report, with property values in an increasingly crowded development space possibly declining over the medium term.

In a research note … (Apr 14) urged investors to be cautious about the region, noting that property transactions and prices in Iskandar have been dropping.

The value of property transactions in Johor had fallen by 33 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the Q4 2014, underperforming the country (-7 per cent) and other major cities such as Kuala Lumpur (-12 per cent) and Penang (8 per cent).

Property prices in Johor were also weaker than that of other cities, with the House Price Index (HPI) contracting 1 per cent quarter-on-quarter. In contrast, property prices in the whole of Malaysia dropped 0.2 per cent …

Residential and commercial property transaction values plunged 42 per cent and 43 per cent on-quarter in the fourth quarter 2014, respectively, compared to the 4 per cent dip by industrial properties.

“The latest statistics reaffirm our view that industrial properties are a better investment choice in Iskandar due to the relocation of small medium enterprises (SMEs) from Singapore and its relatively limited supply as compared to residential and commercial properties,” …


… Malaysian developers have scaled back their launches and shifted their product mix to avoid direct competition with Chinese developers, and have lowered sales expectations for their projects at Iskandar.

“Judging from the number of approved high-rise projects, the Iskandar property market could be hit by too much supply of high-rise mixed development projects if there is still no coordinated planning and control – this will induce price volatility,” Maybank analyst Wong Wei Sum …

“The oversupply situation will be exacerbated by the huge incoming supply in 2015/2016, where units under construction have risen 18 per cent year-on-year in 2012 and 2013, respectively.”


… raised concerns about “aggressive landbanking activities” by Chinese developers in the already-crowded Iskandar region.

“Without coordinated planning and control, this could aggravate the oversupply situation and induce price wars, especially in the high-rise mixed development segment.”


For instance, Shanghai-based Greenland Holdings Group recently expanded its foothold in the space with the acquisition of a 128-acre freehold land in the south of Bandar Baru Permas Jaya. This was after its first purchase of 14 acres of land in Danga Bay in 2014. The company is also looking to acquire about 1,200 to 1,400 acres of industrial land near the Tanjung Langsat Industrial Complex, according to Maybank.

“If this materialises, Greenland will emerge as one of the largest land owners in Iskandar with a total landbank of 1,342 acres and it would pose strong competition to the local developers,” the report said.


… it is “cautious” over “massive land reclamation” in Iskandar.

Reclamation works spanning 3,425 acres for the Forest City project has been given the green light from the Development of Environment. The development will spread over a 30-year period, and will consist of four man-made islands reclaimed in four phases.

“The execution and planning of such reclamation projects is complex, especially Forest City, and carry elements of risk and uncertainty. Hence, developers’ financial positions are paramount; else we may see projects being abandoned or price wars initiated to clear inventories or reduce sales risks by the developers,” …

“More importantly, the failure of any of these projects could erode buyers’ confidence and perception on Iskandar.”

… it remains cautious on property exposure in Iskandar, instead preferring developers with exposure in the Klang Valley and Penang.


U$875 million M’sian IPO/ SGX, where are the IPOs?

In Malaysia on 14/04/2015 at 1:03 pm

Malakoff Corporation, the largest independent power producer in Malaysia, will start taking orders on April 17 for its 2.7 billion ringgit, or $752.4 million, initial public offering, Reuters reports, citing people with knowledge of the share sale.

Meanwhile here our FTs in SGX are juz taking their salaries and doing bugger-all. Trying to revive S-Chip IPOs despite retail investors losing millions in last S-Chip bubble. WTF!

Iskandar: Developers must be desperate?

In Malaysia, Property on 11/04/2015 at 4:16 am

Last Saturday, a freesheet published a puff piece on why it’s good to live in Iskandar and commute, and why it’s a good investment. No mention was made of the huge hikes in the tax on driving to and fro.

A day or two later M’sia again hiked it’s vehicle entry fees: by $7.25 I think. We know what the policy here is don’t we? S’pore with match the increase.

Rumour is that M’sian federal govt hiked fees last year, to warn the sultan of Johor not to to seize executive power in the running of Johor.

Will we be seeing Iskandar property ads in the freesheet?

M’sian politicans want to learn from PAP administration?

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

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

So they going to stop being corrupt?

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

Update at 7.20am:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cause of plankton bloom?/ Three cheers for Tessa Wong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


FT PRC does us proud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FT reported:

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

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

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

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

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



Iskandar: Hoping for Chinese buyers? Dream on

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

Funny people M’suan developers. They miss fears of a property glut in Iskandar saying that the Chinese from China (not S’pore) will buy the properties.

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

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

How many Waterfront cities will eventually be built?

In Malaysia on 24/01/2015 at 4:44 am

After all neither the PRC developers nor their M’sian partners have good reputations for reliability. And then there is the issue of escalating tolls. I heard an interesting story that M’sia raised its tolls (which led S’pore to follow) because the federal govt wanted to send a message to the sultan of Johor to behave. Remember the row when there was an attempt to extend his executive powers? There was a plan to allow him personally senior officials of a Johor state agency invvolved in land development.

The latest is on the east side of Causeway

Here’s a good ST graphic of the various projects

All built on sand: an interesting take on the importance of sand

Other problems for M’sia, Thailand/ Bull pt for Indons, Pinoys and Viets

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 18/01/2015 at 4:24 am

Malaysia … have to cope with lower tax revenue from energy, minerals and other commodities. In Thailand, the central bank is hoping for a lift in public spending to revive growth; but the military-backed government is finding it hard to spend the 2015 budget.

Thailand will need monetary stimulus this year. 


Relatively young countries like Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines drag down the average age.


Only in M’sia?

In Malaysia, Uncategorized on 10/01/2015 at 3:37 pm

Homeless people who attended a government-run event in Malaysia were given household appliances as gifts, it’s reported.

Munirah Abdul Hamid, founder of the Pertiwi Soup Kitchen in Kuala Lumpur, …”Some of them came up to me and asked if I would like to buy the appliances as money would have been more valuable to them,” she says, adding that food or clothing would have made better gifts. The federal territories minister, Tengku Adnan, concedes the event wasn’t perfect, describing it as a “trial-and-error experience”, and doesn’t mind if people sell the gifts for money. “They can do as they please,” he says. “Next year, we will improve and give something else to the homeless.”

M’sia, Thailand among 7 best places to retire

In Malaysia, Uncategorized on 10/01/2015 at 4:24 am

(Panama sounds interesting)

And given the strong S$ and the value of property here*, we S’poreans got options to move on and yet remain nearby. Yet people like Goh Meng Seng and Andrew Loh die die want S’poreans to live and die here. They should let S’poreans decide, not insist that real s’poreans sgould stay home.


*Surely the PAP administration has shumething to do with these?

Another clueless Asean PM

In Malaysia on 29/12/2014 at 12:00 pm

Golfing while his country is flooding: PM Najib was criticised as photos emerged of him playing golf with President Obama on Christmas Eve.Obama and Razak playing golf on Christmas eve 2014

Our PM and Najib are sons of PMs who are highly regarded as effective, strong leaders. But, they bit like this guy? The grandson of another effective, strong leader?

An undated handout picture released by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 27 April 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) looking at a computer screen along with soldiers of a long-range artillery unit at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

Stranger than fiction intro

Still want to buy property in M’sia especially Iskandar?

In Malaysia on 21/12/2014 at 4:24 am

Getting cheaper by the day: both prices and M$*.

Soon Fandi will beable to afford to retire in M’sia. But he might find the tolls too expensive: S$13.10 to JB and S$12.40 at Tuas, and another S$7.70 (M$20) from next yr according to M’sian govt.

*Updated at 5.45pm

The Singapore dollar continued to weaken against the US dollar on Friday (Dec 19). While currency strategists are anticipating the downward trend to continue – with the US Federal Reserve expected to hike interest rates – they also see the Singapore dollar maintaining a strong position against some of its regional counterparts.

The US economy is showing strong signs of recovery as indicators like growth and jobs continue to gather momentum – that is helping to drive up the greenback as the US Federal Reserve tightens its monetary policy.

The Singapore dollar has been on a steady downward slide in recent months and currency strategists expect it to end the year fairly stable at around S$1.31.

Mr Khoon Goh, a senior FX strategist with ANZ, said: “For the Singapore dollar, we are expecting it to be fairly stable going into the year-end. Based on current levels, it will probably end at around the S$1.31 level. Heading into the next year, we are expecting a further depreciation of the Singapore dollar. We are forecasting a year-end 2015 target of 1.33. 

“This is a fairly modest depreciation against the US dollar, and that is partly because we expect the Monetary Authority of Singapore to continue to maintain its policy of a modest and gradual appreciation of the SGD NEER basket. Against other regional currencies, however, I think that is where the SGD is set to outperform.”

Against regional currencies, the Singapore dollar has hit historical highs against the Malaysian ringgit and Indonesian rupiah. It has also gained ground on the yen due to monetary easing by the Bank of Japan.

“In that sense, the Singapore dollar has held up quite well against these currencies, but the Singapore dollar has also underperformed against the likes of the Thai baht, Philippine peso and Chinese currency,” said Mr Sim Moh Siong, director and FX strategist at the Bank of Singapore.

“The ‘middle of the pack’ ranking will likely stick as we head into next year. If you look at the Singapore dollar relative to its basket, it has been pretty stable, even amidst the emerging market turbulence led by the big drop in the Russian rouble and oil price decline,” he added.

Amid current volatility linked to oil price declines, the Singapore dollar has been relatively stable compared to currencies of oil exporting economies. With its strong fundamentals, it is being seen as a safe haven among regional and emerging market currencies. Therefore, market watchers said that it remains attractive to investors in times of financial market uncertainty.


“News” and “no-news” that annoyed me

In Humour, Malaysia on 07/12/2014 at 4:45 am

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has received a “clean bill of health” from his doctor after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer, and is now back at work. (CNA)

You mean he working? Doing what? Talking cock is work?

2 Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng told CNA that even though he gives people the impression that he is a very active and sociable person, he is actually an introvert.

“I think I give people the impression that I’m a very active, sociable person… doing a lot of things. But I’m actually quite an introvert. Really! It’s just that I’m active online so there are certain posts people remember and they form certain impressions about me,” said Mr Baey chuckling.

As TRE pointed out,  netizens have nicknamed him “Selfie King” because of his penchant for taking photos of himself at various events and at every opportunity, posting them online. He frequently makes postings of himself on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, sometimes multiple times a day.

3 Bit rich, what coming from a M’sian publication that is in same group as NST which promote special rights for the “right” race:.

“What does this policy say to us? That Filipinos can be maids but not servers? Indians are good for being construction coolies but we don’t want to see them as hotel staff? This is why you see Mandarin-speaking servers struggling to pronounce Palak Paneer across the curry houses of Singapore.”

I was juz talking to a retired Bumi financier and he was musing that Bank Negara has never had a Chinese governor, despite many capable deputy Chinese governors.

4 In an interview, PM Lee said that his children “have not yet” expressed an interest to enter politics.

When asked if he would influence or encourage his children to join politics, Mr Lee said, “They will have to make choices.”

“Every child is different. Of course parents would wish for their children to be successful but they all have different natures. Some may be more interested in arts while others could be keen on computing or science. This is something that will have to be developed based on their preferences.” (PM Lee was interviewed by Yang Lan on Beijing Satellite TV while he was in Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit last month but aired here last Sunday)

So he telling us that he trying to persuade one of his sons to go go into politics? Like the way LKY persuaded him to get into politics? To be fair to him, the rumours are that that his wife has political ambitions for one of her sons. It’s also rumoured that his bro’s wife has political ambitions for one of her sons. Rumours also say that the bros are really relaxed about their sons not wanting to S’pore.

The absence of reports on the following is

Last Saturday was another Return Our CPF gig at Hong Lim Green. The MSM didn’t report it. But neither did TOC, ot TRE or Roy and New Citizen H3. So did anyone turn up?

And still no word from the WP on the arrears issue. Mgt systems must really be lousy.

And I’m surprised Goh Meng Seng is not attacking WP on this issue. But then maybe he focuses only on of inconsequential matters, not serious issues.

Now this had me smiling: Roy says  he is stopping blogging. His verbal diarrhea finally sucumbed to SingHeath’s tablets. (subsidised)?

But then Roy talks cock? Remember his research that PM stole our CPF money? Then he said he was talking rubbish and that the allegation wasn’t true?

Have a gd week.

Btw, if this post sounds familiar it’s ’cause I first posted something similar on Friday. Something went wrong and it disappeared. It ended up between two posts, days ago. So I reposted it with some amendments.

Help out Singkie investors, retire to Malacca or Penang

In Malaysia on 06/12/2014 at 4:36 am

Unlike me, a friend’s friend has done his research on retiring in M’sia. Renting a place is the biggest expense (like me he doesn’t believe in buying in M’sia*) and the cheapest place to rent in a near-to-S’pore urban environment is Malacca or Penang.

This is because S’poreans who invested in apartments there have serious problems renting them out. They forgot that land is plentiful even in Malacca and Penang.

So do yr fellow S’poreans and yrself a favour, go retire in Penang or Malacca. And there is the added advantage of easy access to first-world medical treatment at M’sian prices.

Btw, he calculates that a couple can live in Penang or Malacca very comfortably at S$2,500 a month. To retire to Cameron Highlands (my fav) is more expensive (S$3,500). Rent is expensive there as development is controlled.


Singapore took a tumble on the list of 50 Most Inspiring Cities in the World, down from number two last year to number 21 this year.

The GOOD City Index describe itself as a celebration of the 50 cities around the world that best capture the elusive quality of possibility.

The index looked at eight areas; hub for progress, civic engagement, street life, defining moment, connectivity, green life, diversity, and work/life balance.

Hong Kong took the top spot on the list this year, climbing up from the 24th position last year.

Other regonal cities on the top 50 list include Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo.–sector.html


*latest example of capriciousness of M’sia’s rulers: the Malacca state govt is planning to seize property that the Portuguese, Dutch and British handed out.

HORRORS: S’pore next to bottom in Asean ranking?

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 08/11/2014 at 7:18 am


Real GDP growth forecasts


The Thais can blame the political problems there. Govt here blames the “deft” locals for insisting that govt cuts back on its uber liberal immigration policy? To be fair, we’ve the only developed country in Asean, so lower growth rates are par for the course. Tell that to TRE ranters and other anti-PAP paper warriors: they blame the PAP for everything that isn’t “right” here. .


Asian economies GDP chart

Oil crash: US hegemony at work?

In Commodities, Malaysia on 21/10/2014 at 1:16 pm

Lower oil prices … Are they also a potent US weapon against Russia and Iran?

That’s the conclusion drawn by New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman, who says the US and Saudi Arabia, whether by accident or design, could be pumping Russia and Iran to brink of economic collapse.

Despite turmoil in many of the world’s oil-producing countries – Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria – prices are hitting lows not seen in years, Friedman writes.

Rather than look at the causes, however, Friedman says to look at the result – budget shortfalls in Russia and Iran – and what it means.

Who benefits? He asks. The US wants its Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia to have more bite. Both the Saudis and the US are fighting a proxy war against Iran in Syria.

“This is business, but it also has the feel of war by other means: oil,” he writes.

Btw, weak oil prices makes it more difficult for M’sia to fund its budget.

First Iskandar, now Penang: Harry’s having the last laugh?

In Malaysia on 18/10/2014 at 4:30 am

Next stop Selangor?

LKY’s Operation Trojan Horse” of owning M’sia via the DAP is coming thru? Huat Ah!

Let me explain. Sometime back,  I pointed out that S’poreans own Iskandar. True the Johor state govt and federal govt are messing us up. Even Johor’s royalty is joining in.  But at least the founding father of the DAP is now MP of much of Iskandar.

And his son, Penang’s chief minister now says, Penang is vying to become the next hub for Singapore companies’ regional expansion, with the state government open to more opportunities for bilateral partnerships, its Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said on Tuesday (Oct 14).

“We are putting ourselves on the map – that Penang is open for business, and you can set up your plants here at very attractive rates,” said Mr Lim, who was in Singapore to unveil BPO Prime, a S$500 million mixed-use development project led by Singapore investment giant Temasek Holdings and Penang Development Corp (PDC) – the state’s development agency.

“We can complement the role played by Singapore. We have a technology and electronics cluster, and I believe you should use our core competencies in manufacturing to grow your services sector. The key is convergence,” he said.

“Singapore’s investment into Penang jumped from RM61 million (S$23.8 million) to RM622 million between 2012 and 2013. We feel there is room to grow – and what better way to grow than working together? That’s why we have asked Temasek to come in, not just as an investor but also as a player,” …

BPO Prime and Penang International Technology Park (PITP), the two Penang projects outlined in a memorandum of understanding that Temasek and PDC signed in May, will have a total development value of about S$4.4 billion.

The developments will be funded via a joint venture that is 49 per cent owned by Temasek.

BPO Prime will break ground in the first half of next year and construction will take two to three years. When completed, it will offer 1.6 million sq ft of residential and commercial space. The commercial element will focus on business process outsourcing.

“Penang’s outsourcing sector saw more than a 20 per cent increase in revenue last year. BPO Prime is a priority project that is part of the state government’s plans to transform Penang into an international outsourcing hub,” Mr Lim said.

Penang can be a sound alternative for Singapore companies to expand in Malaysia at a time when all eyes are on the nearby Iskandar region, said Mr Philip Yeo, chairman of Economic Development Innovations Singapore (EDIS), the project’s master development manager.

“I’m looking for skilled workers, in which case Penang has a better advantage … Iskandar is near enough – but I’ll go where the skill is,” Mr Yeo said, citing his own experience as a chairman of aerospace component manufacturer Accuron, which is planning to grow its workforce of 800 to 1,000 in Penang.

“I believe talent will be a strong selling point for Penang, where spaces such as BPO and PITP will be ideal for high-end activities from Singapore and elsewhere,” he said. CNA

Btw, it’a fact that Penang became a DAP state, the xchief minister came down to S’pore to brief LKY. He said so in a seminar I attended.

Maybe, S’pore’s hegemony over Iskandar and Penang is the real reason why LKY’s Merger radio talks were reprinted. A subtle joke that he’s having the last laugh.

Another week another view on the best Asean mkts

In Malaysia on 11/10/2014 at 1:59 pm

Ilan Solot, EM currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman, lists three variables to look for: currencies that have levelled off after devaluation; low inflation; and large exports. Asian economies such as the Philippines, Malaysia and South Korea fit the bill. (FT on Monday)

Last Sunday, I reported reported

Food prices & inflation will go up Minister

In Malaysia, Uncategorized on 10/10/2014 at 6:34 am

Not “could” because of the toll increases.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck told Parliament on Tuesday that consumers could be affected by affected by “pass-through impact” on inflation. “In particular, as some of our food imports and lifestyle and furniture products are transported via the Causeway, the higher land transport cost may be passed on to consumers.” 

However, he suggested that any such impact on consumers is expected to be small, as the majority of Singapore’s food imports and lifestyle and furniture products are still transported by sea or air. (BT on Wednesday).

Er eggs and vegetables come via Causeway.

He said that the government would continue to monitor the impact of the toll hikes.

What for? Not as though S’pore will unilaterally lower tolls* if price rises occur.

The Causeway toll hikes could affect the profit margins of some Singapore-based small and medium enterprises or SMEs, even though they are generally expected to have a limited impact on businesses here,

Again “could” should be “will”.

The impact on economic activity is likely to be small because land transport costs constitute a small proportion of total business costs – only around 3 per cent for companies in the manufacturing sector and one per cent for those in services. Even so, Mr Teo noted that some firms could be more affected than others. “In particular, SMEs in the sectors such as the food and wholesale sectors that frequently transport materials and goods across the Causeway would likely see a larger increase in land transport costs. Logistics firms offering trucking services via the Causeway may also pass on the increase in toll charges to SMEs.”

Not “may” but “will”.

Still want to invest in Iskandar, SMEs? Or buy property there?

Update on 12 October at 1.50pm: Look at the increase and tell if that prices will not go up


*On the issue of matching M’sia’s tolls, the govt is right to match the M’ian tolls and publicly forewarn the M’sians about it. If S’pore doesn’t match, then the M’sians have every incentive to raise prices so as to maximise revenue at the expense of S’pore’s economy.. By matching, S’pore forces the M’sians to take into account the effect of S’pore matching the rises in its calculations. As to the public forewarning, this shows that having scholars in govt has its uses. It is game theory in action, just like the doctrine of mutually assured destruction which kept the Cold War turning into a nuclear war.

S’pore, M’sia not attractive, Indonesia is

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 05/10/2014 at 4:37 am

In a late Sept report, FT reported that the Barings Fund mgr managing an Asean fund is cautious about topping up his exposure to Singapore and Malaysia due to fears about their economic growth prospects.
Mr Lim has large underweight positions in both countries via his $592.4m Asean Frontiers fund, which targets members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Singapore makes up almost 30 per cent of the portfolio, compared with 33.7 per cent within the benchmark MSCI South East Asia index. The manager has just over 19 per cent in Malaysia, against the index’s 26.5 per cent.
In July, data showed the Singaporean economy had contracted on a quarterly basis for the first time in two years, while Malaysia is going through a process of budget deficit reduction and may miss its 2014 target.

“Singapore and Malaysia are more developed than the rest of the Asean countries … This makes them more expensive and in the long term they don’t have as good growth potential.

“In terms of size, Malaysia is much smaller than the countries we favour, such as Indonesia, so it is less likely to expand rapidly.”
Mr Lim said he can still find selective opportunities in Malaysia, but ones which do not necessarily rely on the domestic economy. Tune Insurance, an online travel-insurance provider based in the country, is one of the latest additions to his portfolio.

“Tune allows us to access the tourism market without investing in airlines, which have to deal with a lot of regulation and are [involved] in price wars,” he said.

In general, he finds growth companies in Indonesia and the Philippines more enticing.

Baring ASEAN frontiers … holds a 3 per cent overweight position in Indonesia. He is confident 2015 will be a strong year for the country, given that the macroeconomic environment has improved.

Investors had been wary of Indonesia as they awaited the results of presidential elections in July. However, as Joko Widodo has been elected and interest rates are expected to rise next year, Mr Lim said there is now a positive outlook.

… had mixed feelings about Thailand, which makes up 15.1 per cent of his portfolio. This is in line with the benchmark.
“Thailand has a higher risk than the rest of the countries in the region, as there remains a lot of political uncertainty around the constitution,” …

In July, Thailand adopted an interim constitution ahead of the October 2015 elections. This constitution preserves the military-led government, called the National Council for Peace and Order.

PRCs in Iskandar (con’td) and other M’sian property tales

In Malaysia, Property on 04/10/2014 at 7:36 am

There are media reports that Sichuan Sanjia is trying to sell its project site in Iskandar. This follows news that PRC developers and buyers are wrecking the condo market in Iskandar.

After complaining that the PRC developers and buyers are spoiling the condo mkt in Iskandar, FD Iskandar, president of Malaysia’s national organisation of developers, the Real Estate & Housing Developers Association (Rehda), tried to spin the story in favour of buying M’sian property.

But Iskandar is bigger than Nusajaya or Danga Bay, he said, adding that demand for landed homes still “looks very strong”.

Mr Iskandar noted that many Singaporean buyers prefer to buy from Singapore developers or reputable Malaysian developers.

There has also been much interest from Singaporean investors in industrial as well as commercial properties.

Meanwhile, other hot property spots in Malaysia such as Penang and Greater Kuala Lumpur are likely to be shielded from the supply glut in Iskandar as strong population growth in these areas is still supporting fundamental demand for housing, according to Mr Iskandar.

[Qn: what happens if PRC developers start moving into Penang and KL? Sure spoil mkt?]

Kuala Lumpur’s population is six million and could grow to 10 million by 2020 through demographic growth, urbanisation and intra-state migration.

Mr Iskandar estimated that this would translate to some 170,000 homes to be built each year, based on the assumption of four persons per household.

Investment yields from residential properties in Penang and Kuala Lumpur are likely to hold up in the region of 5 to 8 per cent while commercial properties could reap higher yields, Mr Iskandar projected.

The retail segment has also emerged as a strong component, with Kuala Lumpur being ranked by global news network CNN as the fourth-best city in the world for shopping after New York, London and Tokyo.

With the upcoming high-speed rail between Singapore and Malaysia expected to cut travelling time from 51/2 hours to just 90 minutes, both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore will benefit from greater inter-city travelling and cross-border investments, Mr Iskandar said.

Still, he is not asking potential buyers to completely snub Iskandar that he believes to be a “highly investable location”.

But Mr Iskandar has a piece of advice: “Please look at the quality of the developers. Be savvy investors. If it’s for owner-occupation, there’s no worry whatsoever but if it is for investment, you need to do due diligence before buying.”


Ishandar investors screwed again: by PRCs this time

In China, Malaysia, Property on 01/10/2014 at 4:15 am

Bad news travels in pairs.

Last week, Reuters reported

Amid growing anxiety over a glut of high-rise residences in Malaysia’s Iskandar, a mega waterfront township project there appears to have hit a snag.

The Business Times understands that CapitaLand, South-east Asia’s largest real estate developer, recently sought a six-month extension on the launch of its 900-unit high rise condominium, which is the first phase of a S$3.2 billion ($2.52 billion) Danga Bay project, which spans some 28 hectares on a man-made island.

It seems that it had some problems with Johor state authorities. If  TLC can have such problems, what about yr ordinary, not connected S’porean property buyer?

Then BT on 30 September carried a story reported that thanks to PRC developers and buyers, S’poreans buying to rent in Iskandar are screwed.

A looming housing glut in Iskandar Malaysia may weigh down rental yields in the economic zone, with homes being left empty.

The warning this time came from Malaysia’s national organisation of developers, the Real Estate & Housing Developers Association (Rehda).

FD Iskandar, president of Rehda, noted that some 30,000 homes could be completed by 2016 or early 2017 in Iskandar.

If these are mainly sold to buyers outside Malaysia and Singapore, “then you will see that these units will be empty and once they are put up for rent and there are so many units available, that will put pressures on rental yields”, he said.

Malaysia’s federal government is “actually looking seriously” at this issue … But land administration in Malaysia lies within the authority of the state government.

In the past 12 to 18 months, the deluge of homes launched or in the pipeline by China developers, including Country Gardens and Guangzhou R&F Properties, has stoked concerns over a looming housing glut in the Iskandar region, which encompasses an area of more than 2,000 square kilometres in Johor.

“… developers from China launching a few thousand units at one go,” Mr Iskandar said, adding that Malaysian or Singaporean developers would typically have 400-600 units in one project.

Most of the buyers of these Chinese projects come from mainland China, he observed. “…concerns about these residential units being empty.”



SIA boleh, MAS tak boleh

In Airlines, Malaysia on 31/08/2014 at 4:50 am

Malaysia Airlines’ 19,500 staff operate a fleet of 108 aircraft, while SIA operates 103 aircraft with 5,000 fewer employees. The result is that over the past nine years the Malaysian carrier has lost a net Rm3.56bn ($1.1bn), while Singapore Airlines has made S$8.86bn ($7.1bn) without a single year of losses.

Says a lot about how S’pore Inc and M’sia Inc do things.


Durian diplomacy is apt name for S’pore, M’sia ties

In Malaysia on 30/08/2014 at 4:29 am
On Thursday, BT reported,
Agrobazaar opens in Kampong Glam – with durian diplomacy
Malaysian PM Najib gives PM Lee the spiky fruit; both sides affirm strong ties
Just as they did at their last retreat in Putrajaya in April, the leaders of Singapore and Malaysia engaged in a dose of durian diplomacy on Wednesday.
This time, it was at the official opening of an agro-food outlet called Agrobazaar Malaysia, located at Sultan Gate in the historic Kampong Glam district. The 464 sq m bazaar, which sells Malaysian produce such as fruit, sauces and coffee, is Malaysia’s first overseas branch of Agrobazaar.
During the opening ceremony, visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak presented his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong with a gift of durians, specifically the popular “musang king” variety, as well as an oil painting of them enjoying the spiky fruit during the April retreat.
Well the durian is a smelly, with a coating of thorns, and relations between the two countries are prickly and can stink: forever rowing.
Earlier in the week BT reported:

The arbitration process to settle a dispute between Singapore and Malaysia over development charges on certain parcels of former Malayan Railway land in Singapore has reached its final stage…. a spokesman from Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) revealed that the decision of the arbitration tribunal was expected “in a few months”.

This paves the way to potentially settle an outstanding issue in the Points of Agreement (POA) on whether Malaysia needs to pay Singapore a development charge on three parcels of land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands.

This charge is a tax that is payable to the Singapore government to change the use of a land parcel. Singapore believes this tax must be paid, while Malaysia has argued otherwise.

The matter was eventually referred to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, after Singapore and Malaysia reached an arbitration agreement in 2012.

Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to accept the arbitration award as final and binding. They also agreed that the decision would not affect the implementation of the POA …



99.9% of voters telling PM, “Don’t Return Our CPF” – HDB?

In CPF, Humour, Malaysia on 25/08/2014 at 5:38 am

Taz what a hyper rational alien like Mr Spock can reasonably conclude from the attendance at Saturday’s “ReturnOurCPF – HDB” rally. Though I suspect he would point out that a fairer %age is 0.04% of the number of Oppo voters in GE 2011. Whatever, “peanuts”.

Roy’s and Hui Hui’s latest gig on Saturday attracted around 300 people (based on photos at their site and me being generous). So only 300 support Roy’s and Hui Hui’s proposition? Btw, TOC, TRE hasn’t yet covered the event, and based on the attendance, I expect them not to: “not newsworthy enough”. (Related article)

Remember her NatDay protest rally? It was not reported in the new media. According to Roy* 300-400 people turned up. Hui Hui had claimed 6,000 people had turned up for her previous, “Free My CPF” rally in July. Even TRE tot that only 3,000 people attended. Even earlier, around 200 people it seems turned up at the first rally she and Roy organised. Again new media didn’t report this gig. Lousy attendance not newsworthy enough? Or don’t want to double confirm that only a handful of S’poreans (0.1- 0.01%. If Oppo voters only:0.4-0,04%) are unhappy enough to exert themselves physically to show their unhappiness?

Or that at least 60% S’poreans are actually happy with the govt?**

Whatever, one can rationally conclude that the majority of S’poreans are not persuaded or impressed or taken in by Hui Hui’s or Roy’s antics, despite their vocal online support**.

What should really worry these wannabe celebrities is that not even these adoring anti-PAP cyber warriors are willing to turn up in person for their events.

Their adoring fans are: Loud Thunder, Little Rain?

If Stephanie Sun had such fans, she’d starve to death, let alone afford a Happy Meal.

To end on a constructive note, I hope someone warns Hui Hui that as a new citizen she can be deprived of her citizenship. Happened to Tan Kah Kee (millionaire and founder of Nanyang University), can happen to her.

Maybe taz why Hui Hui is attempt to portray herself as not being anti-PAP. 

Juz go read it. Everything is blamed on the PAP govt. and she not ant-PAP?***

Was Home Team sleeping when they made her a citizen? But this may show the lie to the theory that the PAP creates new citizens to dilute the local anti-PAP vote. But then it could juz show Home Team is juz incompetent: it can’t select hard-working sheep, only lazy, anti-PAP loafers****, when creating new citizens. Or maybe it cunningly allows someone like Hui Hui to become a citizen to give credibility to the PAP’s denial that it encourages immigration ’cause it wants to dilute the anti-PAP vote.

Actually given her hatred of working here (going by one of herone of her posts), wonder why she opted out of her M’sian citizenship? M’sia is worse? “I’m only anti-cronyism, anti-nepotism, anti-dictatorship, anti-tyranny, anti-irresponsibility…” Hmm, she sounds like Anwar Ibrahim, that two-face (bi-sexual?) M’sian politician.


*He was telling a new media website.

** We’ll know one way or the other in the next GE, as even the PAP, and the constructive, nation-building media and Institute of Policy Studies admit that these two issues, along with immigration and public transport are the issues of most concern to S’poreans.

***I’m not anti-PAP.

I’m only anti-cronyism, anti-nepotism, anti-dictatorship, anti-tyranny, anti-irresponsibility…

Is she egging the PM to sue her? So that she can assert the Derbyshire principle that she chickened out of asserting earlier? And then repented of chickening out?

****Her rants against having to go to work daily (check out her site) remind me of the joke, “I’m lazy – my childhood ambition was to be an injured footballer.”.

PussiesXII, Kittens?/ MSM coverage of LionsXII

In Footie, Malaysia, Media on 24/08/2014 at 7:11 am

Simba and Nala and their pride of lions must be upset that their brand has been tarnished by two of our nation footie sides.

The Cubs covered themselves in disgraceful in Brunei,

When Singapore’s national Under-21s completed their Group B fixtures at the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in Brunei on Monday, their report card was a compilation of sorry statistics.

For the first time in the history of the tournament the team lost all their games and lost them heavily – a five-match string of defeats (0-4 to Vietnam, 1-3 to Cambodia, 1-3 to Brunei, 0-3 to Malaysia, 0-6 to Indonesia).

The side also scored the least goals (two) and conceded the most (19).

To further add insult to injury, coach Richard Bok’s squad of 18 for this regional Under-21 competition included four over-aged players – LionsXII trio Ignatius Ang (22 years old), his clubmates, Emmeric Ong and forward Syafiq Zainal and Warriors FC goalkeeper Neezam Abdul Aziz (all 23).

But they were thrashed by Vietnam and Indonesia, who fielded their Under-19 sides.

– See more at:

Meanwhile, the Lions XII, are not living up to their name or their success under Super Sub. After a disappointing Malaysian Super League campaign, the LionsXII once again tasted bitter defeat on Saturday (Aug 23) evening. They lost 2-1 to Johor Darul Takzim II in the Malaysia Cup at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor Bahru. (CNA).

The LionsXII fell to their second consecutive defeat in their Malaysia Cup campaign, losing 1-2 to second-tier Malaysia Premier League side Johor Darul Takzim II (JDT II) at the Pasir Gudang Stadium. – See more at:

PussiesXII and Kittens?

Seriously, I hope the recent failure of the LionsXII after the team’s previous success, puts an end to SPH’s and MediaCorp’s championing and spinning of Fandi as the saviour of local footie. He was a very gd local footballer and a decent man who has had his share of gd and bad fortune. But as for the constructive, nation-building media’s attempt to spin him as “super coach, the saviour of local footie”, well the results speak for themselves. It’s not as though the media didn’t know of his failings in the smake pits of Iskandar.

What really annoys me is that Super Sub never got sufficient credit from our local media for his handling of the LionsXII. Compare their praise of him against that of their praise for Fandi. And the local media is always making excuses for Fandi. He’s not a bad coach (He’s a pretty decent coach) but the failure of our local media to hold him to account is disgusting.

Tourism potential of Indon, Vietnam & Burma

In China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam on 24/08/2014 at 4:58 am

Number of foreign visitors received in 2013

  • Thailand – 26.5 million
  • Malaysia – 25.7 million
  • Hong Kong – 25.6 million
  • South Korea – 12.1 million
  • Japan – 10.3 million
  • Indonesia – 8.8 million
  • Vietnam – 7.5 million
  • Myanmar – 2 million

I’m surprised that Indonesia has only 8.8m visitors given the popularity of Bali.

Still Mynamar is the place to invest in the tourism biz. Opportunities there from recent BBC article.

Johor: New plans to fleece Sinkies

In Malaysia on 22/07/2014 at 4:32 am

Wonder why land is being reclaimed in the Johor Straits? S’poreans it seems love waterfront properties. So waterfront  properties are being created. And this is adding to the supply of land in Iskandar, where there are already problems for S’poreans what with Johor and Federal taxes and restrictions.

The fixation over waterfront properties in the Iskandar region, which has led to frenetic land reclamation, is threatening to undermine the prospects of the growth corridor launched in Johor eight years ago.

Iskandar Malaysia’s value proposition – polished further by its proximity to Singapore – remains intact, but may not do so if development there is left unchecked.

At 2,217 square kilometres, Johor state’s southern development corridor is thrice the size of Singapore; in sports parlance, that is about the size of 400,000 football fields. (BT report last week).

Meanwhile the development caravan keeps on moving: now to Batu Pahat. Property being built to attract S’poreans further North.

Reminds me of what the bandit chief  in the movie Manificent 7 said, “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.” He was talking of the farmers he was stealing from at regular intervals: he was harvesting them at regular intervals..

He could be referring to S’poreans who keep on getting fleeced in Johor.

Me, I’d rent there, if I wanted to live in a bungalow, and rent my property here.

MAS tragedy: SIA attacked by anti-PAP cyber warriors?

In Airlines, Malaysia on 20/07/2014 at 4:27 am

Really I can’t see why SIA was attacked for saying on Facebook and Twitter that its flights were not using Ukraine airspace.

Reuters reported: That triggered a flood of angry responses, with many lambasting SIA for not offering condolences to the victims’ families and for mounting what some perceived as a publicity stunt during a crisis involving its neighboring country’s flagship airline.

Anyway SIA did the pragmatic thing by apologising and rewording its messages. No pointing rowing with loonies, something PM Lee should learn.


SIA plane juz 17km away

In Airlines, Malaysia on 19/07/2014 at 6:46 pm

The Daily Mail reports that, despite the conflict, the flight path was fairly crowded with a Heathrow-bound Virgin Atlantic jet and a Singapore Airlines plane both over Ukraine at the moment flight MH17 crashed.

The paper says the Singapore jet was just 17 miles away from the doomed flight.

One of the as-yet unknown questions, is why flight MH17 came to be flying over a conflict zone in which a number of aircraft had been shot down recently, the Daily Telegraph says.

MAS polot didn’t want to divert

The paper reports that a number of airlines, including British Airways, easyJet and Qantas had already changed flight routes to avoid the area, although Malaysia Airlines said there had been “no obvious reasons” to avoid the area.

Nonetheless, the paper says, flight path analysis suggested that other Malaysia planes had skirted the conflict zone, by flying south of the area.

The Telegraph says an expert from the Royal United Services Institute has learned the pilot of the downed flight decided not to change course after apparently telling air traffic controllers he “felt uncomfortable” over the diversion.

Extract from BBC


Why MAS really suay cont’d

In Airlines, Malaysia on 19/07/2014 at 2:32 pm

According to Flight radar24, which monitors live flight paths, the airlines that most frequently flew over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine in the last week were: Aeroflot 86 (flights), Singapore Airlines 75, Ukraine International Airlines 62, Lufthansa 56, and Malaysian 48. It was not necessarily a risky approach. The chance of a rocket reaching above 32,000 feet was considered remote, says Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, author of Why Planes Crash.(Part of BBC report: see pix of flight routrs taken )

SIA flew 56% more flights thru Eastern Ukraine than MAS, yet it was a MAS jet that waz shot down .

SIA employs better bomohs?


MAS pilot slightly off planned course

In Airlines, Malaysia on 19/07/2014 at 6:33 am

“But although the aircraft was reportedly a few hundred miles north of its planned course to avoid a thunderstorm, its altitude should have marked it as a passenger plane,” reported an Economist blog.

Not seen this in any other report.[Update on 20th July at 10.15 am ]

MAS is suay. Time for Najib to call in the bomohs to “buang suay”.
The two events that hit it and its passengers these yrs were really freak events.
Whatever it is fly SIA. Only TRE born losers will refuse to fly SIA. Die-die fly other airlines, even if die as a result.


Dr Doom buys into Asean

In Malaysia, Vietnam on 10/05/2014 at 3:58 am

The editor and publisher of The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report said that he personally favors emerging market securities that are still “cheap” …

Marc Faber underlined his belief that emerging markets provide a more suitable option for more profitable investments. He added that he has parked cash in countries such as Vietnam, Iraq, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore.

“I made some investments more than a year ago in Iraq, because it’s very cheap. There’s lots of problems but the market is very very inexpensive,” he said. “Russia is dirt cheap, but I don’t think there is a hurry to buy Russian stocks.”

As usual he is a super bear over the US.


PM’s idea of saving our lunch

In Economy, Malaysia, Public Administration on 07/05/2014 at 4:54 am

Is to let FTs come in and eat it? And our dinner, supper and breakfast too.

“We can’t tell our competition to go away. They want to eat our lunch, we know that. They want to eat our dinner, we suspect that. We can’t stop them from wanting, but we can make sure we can hold our own, and we can eat our own lunch.” (PM’s May Day speech)

So long as the govt allows PMET FTs in by cattle-class on A380s and 747s (an improvement from the container load, I must admit), taz the effect even if  as PM cont’d*, “We can provide you the resources and the means to stay one step ahead of the competition, and we will have a Singapore system which we can work together to build, to maximise your potential, maximise your contributions.”

From this week’s Economist, “Bill Martin and Robert Rowthorn, economists at Cambridge University, argue that one reason for Britain’s poor post-crisis productivity is that low wages encouraged firms to rely on human labour for low-skilled work, rather than investing in machines and software. Wage rises should start to reverse that trend, boosting investment and workers’ productivity.” Emphasis mine

This stands the Hard Truth that productivity must come before wage rises on its head.

But maybe this Hard Truth will be ditched before the next GE, even if LKY hasn’t “moved on” by then?”

Yesterday, ST reported, Singapore cannot be a First World economy with Third World costs, said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang yesterday at a lunch dialogue with prominent European diplomats and business leaders based here.

But he also assured them that Singapore will stay competitive and business-friendly even as it restructures the economy to achieve quality growth.

Responding to a question from the floor on rising business costs, Mr Lim said: “We have to acknowledge that, over time, Singapore cannot be a First World economy with Third World costs.”

Actually the only thing here about “third world” costs is that our PMETs and other true blue S’porean workers are paid “peanuts”. Other costs like property rentals, petrol, utility bills are among the highest in the world. and the cost of cars are out of this world. Remember the govt tried to debunk a UBS survey of cities which showed that KL had a better ranking because the cost of living there was more in line with wage levels than S’pore? Though to be fair, public tpt fares are reasonable by NY, or London standards, or even that of Brisbane.And healthcare is reasonably priced if one uses the public healthcare system.

So oldies like me who are not 110% behind the PAP had better watch out: wage repression has been gd for us. We are like suckling pigs voting for CNY, sheep for Ramadan or turkeys for Christmas. If LKY calls me “daft”, he is right as usual.

Coming back to PM, and saving our lunch while continuing the “FTs are best” policy, PM should remember what an American officer asked,during the battle of Huế**,“Did we have to destroy the town in order to save it?”.

He should be asking himself if Hard Truths require that FTs eat locals’ lunch and more so that S’pore’s GDP can continue to grow?


*[Update at 1.33pm} I juz read that PM said yesterday that “the number of foreign workers in the country is still growing, though not as fast as before.” (CNA). It was so fast, that if it had cont’d at the rate between 2006- 2011, we’d be having serious overcrowding problems.

** The Battle of Huế during 1968 (also called the Siege of Huế), was one of the bloodiest and longest battles of the Vietnam War (1959–1975). Battalions of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), two U.S. Army battalions, and three understrength U.S. Marine Corps battalions defeated 10 battalions of the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN or NVA) and the Viet Cong (Việt Cộng or VC, also known as National Liberation Front or NLF).

Citi prefers M’sian equities to S’porean ones

In Malaysia on 06/05/2014 at 4:54 am

The news is that foreign money is returning to the region.

Interestingly on a one-year time frame, Citi prefers M’sia.

The recommendation by Citi Research follows a head-to-head analysis it made of both markets in response to investor comparisons within Asean, with Malaysia edging out Singapore for the following reasons: a lower ringgit, secondary effects from a key economic programme, cost normalisation, and accelerated consumption before the implementation of a goods & services tax in April next year.

While Singapore has performed better year-to-date, Citi’s Asia Report of April 29 maintained that Malaysia has more going for it in the coming months.

Take the recovery cycles in developed markets where Singapore has historically leveraged better. In the current cycle, however, costs and tight labour policies may result in a different outcome for Singapore. At the same time, Malaysia has started to see more manufacturing investment, capturing flows from firms rebalancing as a result of China and Thailand’s woes.

(BT 2 May 2014)

Me? I suspect S’pore will do better. We got an election coming.

JB among most crime ridden city in the world/ LKY was not wrong

In Malaysia on 26/04/2014 at 6:51 am

Juz better than Guatemala City, Caracas in Venezuela and Joeburg in South Africa. All v v violent places.

So LKY was NOT wrong in the 90s, in his analysis of JB! He was WRONG to apologise. Strange our constructive, nation-building not praising his foresight. Err maybe, he no longer considered constructive, nation-builder?

BTW JB is the capital of Iskandar . LOL

Iskandar flip flops agaim. When it started, notwithstanding its attempts to get local biz to relocate, it was telling the Arabs that it wanted to be another s’pore. The arabs wisely dids not buy into the BS. So it started trying its luck with SMEs and TLCs. Now …

Iskandar Malaysia is set to focus more on attracting higher-value manufacturing companies, in a move that may result in some lower-end Singapore businesses having to look for an alternative overseas destination where they can shift some of their operations as they grapple with higher costs and manpower constraints at home.

Mr Ismail Ibrahim, the chief executive of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), told TODAY in an interview that the special economic zone is shifting away from activities dependent on cheap labour.

“For the manufacturing sector, we are moving Iskandar Malaysia towards higher levels of the value chain. We want to see more of what we term as technology-intensive manufacturing activities and less of the low-cost kind of industries,” he said, adding that this has always been part of the IRDA’s planning.

Ten years ago, Mr Lim — the owner of a Singapore food manufacturing company — purchased two industrial land plots across the Causeway, with the hope of shifting some of his operations to Johor Baru’s low-cost environment. He has yet to make that move as, after crunching the numbers, there is not a strong financial case.

“Iskandar is also facing issues of a manpower shortage and rising costs. Last year’s introduction of minimum wages and Goods and Services Tax are just part of it,” Mr Lim, who asked to keep his identity and the name of his company private, told TODAY. “The fact that Iskandar doesn’t have a free port also matters to a food company like us, because imported materials and exported products will be tariffed. Or we can go through Singapore’s ports — and fork out just as much for the cross-strait transport costs.”

The CEO’s comments come as anecdotal evidence suggests that some Singapore manufacturers do not see a compelling reason to move operations to Iskandar.

Singapore remains the biggest foreign investor in Iskandar, having committed a cumulative RM11 billion (S$4.23 billion) to the area as of January, showed data provided by the IRDA. This forms a key part of the RM133.07 billion overall investment that the region has attracted so far, of which RM47.82 billion has been committed to the manufacturing sector.

However, a closer look at the data reveals that although the overall investment amount has been increasing, the proportion of foreign investment in Iskandar has been steadily shrinking, from 55 per cent of the total in 2008 to 35 per cent currently, suggesting a slowdown in overseas interest.

Why SMC should act against PAP MP

In Humour, Malaysia, Political governance on 16/04/2014 at 4:18 am

One day after foot-in-mouth* and eye specialist Dr Lim Wee Kiak retracted his criticisms of M’sia’s handling of the MH 370, Reuters reported  Malaysia’s government has begun investigating civil aviation and military authorities to determine why opportunities to identify and track … MH370 were missed in the chaotic hours after it vanished, two officials said*.


If only he waited another day, he would have come up roses, in his original criticism. And the govt would have edlook stupid in implicitly castigating him.

Seriously, if the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) can censure plastic surgeon Dr Woolly Woffles Wu for getting his employee to take the blame for his speeding offences in 2005 and 2006 when the courts take a lenient view of this offence (unlike the UK where it is considered a perversion of justice, jailable up to eight months, it should censure Dr Lim for stupidity.

SMC is suspending Dr Wu from practice for four months, saying that in arriving at an appropriate sanction, its role was to consider what penalties would be sufficient and of specific deterrence such that no registered medical practitioner would want to take the risk to commit such an offence that would lower the standing of the medical profession.

Well the same should apply for doctors who consistently talk rubbish in public.

SMC also said that Woffles had “tarnished the good name of the profession”, “instead of setting a good example for younger practitioners to emulate”.

Well does SMC want young doctors to emulate Dr Lim? They would if they don’t take him to task for making stupid remarks.

Dr Wu’s seniority and standing in the medical profession was also found to be an aggravating factor, said the SMC.

Well Dr Lim is a senior doctor too. He too makes serious money.

As the PAP is short-listing its candidates for the next GE, it might to consider eye doctors a miss, and retiring those it already has. Think VivianB and Dr Lim, and one can draw reasonable conclusions about the kind of people who become eye doctors and PAP MPs.


*“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals. Hence, a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity,” Dr Lim told LianHe ZaoBao in Chinese.

**The story reported portrays the dysfunctional M’sian system:

A sixth source, a senior official in the civil aviation sector, said the plane’s disappearance had exposed bureaucratic dysfunction in Malaysia, which has rarely been subject to such international demands for transparency. “There was never the need for these silos to speak to one another. It’s not because of ill intent, it’s just the way the system was set up,” the official said.

The accounts given to Reuters reveal growing tensions between civilian officials, the military and Malaysia Airlines over whether more could have been done in those initial hours.

One of the Reuters sources said military officials in particular were concerned they could lose their jobs.

Tensions have also emerged between the government and state-controlled Malaysia Airlines.


Iskandar: First gd news in 2014

In Malaysia on 12/04/2014 at 5:08 am

Last yr M’sia and Johor shot themselves and investors by imposing levies, restriction on property buyers in Iskandar.

This blog has been always sceptical about the rhetoric of govt co-operation on Iskandar. If both govts can work in training in skilled workforce, Iskandar will be a success. But they still on talking about co-operation.. But taz something.

Singapore has offered to help train a skilled workforce to meet the growing need for workers as the Iskandar Malaysia project takes off.

“As Iskandar thrives, we can expect also to need more people to be trained for the jobs to be created – and so I also talked about vocational training and Singapore helping Malaysia to upgrade its vocational training for workers who can work in Iskandar,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters yesterday after his annual “retreat” meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak.

In a joint statement, both leaders acknowledged the importance of a skilled labour force in boosting socio-economic development. They welcomed the ongoing talks between the various agencies of the two countries on collaboration in vocational training.

Speaking of the win-win gains for both Singapore and Malaysia in cooperating in Iskandar at a joint press conference, Mr Lee said: “The great advantage of Iskandar Malaysia is that it’s across the Straits of Johor, and that means that you can tap on what Singapore offers in terms of infrastructure, in terms of services, in terms of industrial base.” 8th April BT

Commodity prices are close to the bottom of the cycle?

In Commodities, Indonesia, Malaysia on 10/04/2014 at 4:23 am

FT reported on April 3 that traders in an annual commodities seminar are getting bullish.

And this appeared earlier this yr

GROWTH has slowed in China, the destination of most of the world’s exports of iron ore, copper and other metals, as well as increasing quantities of oil and corn. Many analysts have declared that the China-driven commodities “supercycle” has run out of steam. But that may be premature. While global population growth is slowing, the number of people added each year is still increasing. Similarly, China’s economy will be 65% bigger in 2014 than it was in 2008. Macquarie, a bank, reckons that the growth of global demand for steel will slip to 3.1% a year between 2012 and 2018, compared with 3.3% in the previous six-year period, but that in absolute terms it will go from 45m tonnes a year to 50m tonnes a year. The same trend will apply to copper, aluminium, nickel, lead, zinc and tin. In terms of its impact on demand, Chinese growth of 7.5% today is the equivalent to 12% growth in 2008. On top of this there is growth from other Asian economies and the recovery of the American economy. The pace of increase in commodity prices may not match that of yesteryear, but the next upward climb looks set to start in 2014. See full article.

Related article:

Materials (Sector Equity)

  • The materials sector has fallen out of favour with investors in 2013, with the MSCI AC World Materials Sector index gaining just 0.3% (in SGD terms) last year.
  • Similar to the situation with the global financials sector in 2008/2009, massive write-downs have been undertaken by the sector; while this has reduced net asset values of resource companies, it also makes valuations (on a PB basis) more conservative.
  • As a beneficiary of a global economic recovery, we believe the conservatively valued materials sector may emerge as a “dark horse” this year.
  • Our recommended fund for global resources equities: First State Glb Resources

SunT sometime back (sometime last yr) had a bullish piece.{27464576-17202-5110879539} Either ahead of the the curve, too early or clueless. LOL. What do you think?

If palm oil, rubber and energy cheong gd for Indonesia, M’sia and Thailand (rubber), and for some SGX counters. Think Olam, Noble and the plantation stocks for starters. And think property developers: think esp CapitaLand. Exposure here and in China.

MH370 fallout hurts us too

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tourism on 06/04/2014 at 4:49 am

The incompetency of the M’sian defence officials (no explanation yet on why aircraft were not scrambled when aircraft veered off course) and there are allegations that the veering off course was not detected forb hours), and the perceived failures may affect us.

Demand for inbound tours featuring Singapore and Malaysia could see some ripple effect, following the backlash that Malaysia has received in China …

SA Tours’ manager for inbound tours, Dan Tan, said that he has seen a 40 per cent decrease in demand for such combined packages. Mr Tan said that the bulk of the drop comes from Chinese tourists, as demand from tourists in other countries have held steady.

At this time of the year, SA Tours usually receives enquiries from Chinese tourists for large tour groups of 80 to 100 people for the mid-year holiday period. However, for now, the company has received enquiries only from small groups of three to five people.

Mr Tan said that while business has already declined because of a weaker global economy, he believes the MH370 incident is another reason behind the drop in numbers for combined inbound tours. “There’s a lot of debate online between Malaysians and the Chinese, and the Chinese are saying they won’t come to Malaysia again,” said Mr Tan.

To assure tourists, Golden Travel Services’ managing director, Cindy Chng, has told them that travelling to Malaysia is still safe, that the incident “should have no linkage with the place itself” …  no cancellations thus far from Chinese tourists coming in July for combined tours … they have expressed some concerns. “They may not have a good impression of Malaysia and don’t want to travel there,” …

She added that she is open to making changes for tourists if they want to forgo the Malaysia leg of the tour. [Package with Bali leh]

While CTC Travel does not have combined tour packages … said that he expects such sentiments to cause a drop in Chinese tourists coming to Singapore. “We’re pretty close neighbours, and people tend to link us together,” …does not think the impact will be huge … CTC … not been affected much as the company does not have many Chinese customers and focuses more on outbound travel.

Timesworld Travel & Educational Tours and Chan Brothers said that the incident has not impacted combined inbound tours, possibly because they run more corporate and educational tours which could be less affected.

But Timesworld … said that they could face a 10 to 20 per cent drop in demand for the peak season. People are still unsure and are waiting for others to take the first step, she said.

Tour operators say that the number of Chinese travellers on combined tours in the upcoming months will depend on how the situation is handled and resolved …

(BT 5 April)

Neighbours show up the S’pore system, for gd and bad

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Political governance, Public Administration on 22/03/2014 at 5:41 am

The governor of Jakarta has been in the news recently because he was nominated by a major Indo political party to be a presidential candidate. He is a very popular choice because he is seen as being against inefficiency, maladministration and corruption.

What our constructive, nation-building and PAP-allied media doesn’t tell us is that he before he entered politics, he sold furniture. He was no scholar, general or admiral like paper generals Kee Chui and MoM Tan (and before them Lui, Pinkie, Teo or Cut and Run George). He was an ordinary citizen who cared enough to enter politics.

This reminds me: a PAPpy-hater complained that Well going by the following BBC extract,

London-based Inmarsat said its engineers realised at an early stage that the aircraft had probably flown for several hours on a northern or southern track, and it was very unlikely that the plane could have headed north over countries with sophisticated air defence systems.
The company further said that it had informed the Malaysian authorities of the information, through an intermediary company, on 12 March, but this was not publicly acknowledged until 15 March.
Furthermore, the authorities continued to search in the South China Sea and Malacca Straits during that time, despite the information suggesting that the plane had flown on much further.

The M’sian officials lacked common sense. At least the then PAP cabinet had the common sense to do make sure we had adequate water supplies. I can’t be sure of the present cabinet. What do you think?

Flooding the city with FTs but not increasing the supply of hospital beds. Worse denying that there is a shortage. Err actually this gd TRE piece shows that there are advantages in having an elite schoolboy and scholar on the team. TeamTre has one such person. The TeamTRE-generated analysis is a lot better than the TOC team’s inhouse generated analysis.  For reportage TOC is miles ahead.

BTW, TOC, the chamion of free speech and a free internet, has disallowed my FaceBook avatar from commenting on their FB wall. Gee and they got the cheek to call for the govt to allow greater freedom of expression? Juz as intolerant as MIW? At least MIW are not hypocrites. They openly endorse the idea that only the “right” tots are allowed to be expressed. LOL.

TRE, in contrast, republishes pieces where I ridicule the readership’s excesses in hating all things PAP. Now that is walking the walk of freedom of expression.

Why PAP should be afraid but not not too afraid

In China, Humour, Internet, Malaysia, Political governance, Vietnam on 10/03/2014 at 4:49 am

Paper warriors can cause serious problems for paper generals. Take heart Richard Wan, SgDaily, Terry Xu etc. And NSP should put more effort and time on online activities, rather than pounding the streets and climbing stairs, even though P Ravi of NSP gets great workouts: but Ravi, skip the teh tariks at the end. And the Chiams start an online presence.

Online activism can be an accurate indicator of where revolutions might take place next, according to University of Manchester research.

Argentina, Georgia, the Philippines and Brazil are claimed to be most at risk of upheaval, according to this measure.

The Revolution 2.0 Index* was developed last year and identified Ukraine as the most likely to see political upheaval.

This index sees revolution being forecast by computer experts rather than political analysts … It provides a different view of how regimes are put at risk by protest movements, looking at online factors rather than street demonstrations.

The index produces a risk factor based on the level of repression and the ability of people to organise protests online.


But Yaacob, MDA, and the ISD can still relax a little: The highest risk comes in countries where there are protests against perceived injustices – but where there is relative freedom online.

Err we knowthat S’poreans don’t like to sweat at Hong Lim: ask Gilbert Goh. (Alternative reason:

So get the people out in their tens of thousands to Hong Lim Green and keep up the online volume, then sure can effect regime change. But fortunately for the PAP, only the LGBTs can get out the crowd. Aand then only once in a pink moon.

Still if PM and the ministers want to make sure they get to keep their mega-salaries then they should start sending study teams to  Ethiopia, Iran, Cuba and China: At the lowest end of this 39-country index are countries such as Iran, Cuba and China because there is a lower level of risk of revolution in repressive countries with tight controls over the internet.

Actually, it juz might be easier to ban Facebook and other forms of social media on the grounds that users waste time on them during office hours (all those cat photos that a certain social activist posts during office hours). Users are subversives, undermining the govt’s productivity drive, the aim of which is to make S’poreans richer slaves.

Talking about the Ukraine, professor Richard Heeks from Manchester University, the creator the index, says: “But social media has been the core tool used to organise protests and maintain them by letting protesters know where they can get nearby food, shelter, medical attention, and so on.

“It has spread word about violence and has garnered support and assistance from overseas.”

BTW, S’pore, Cambodia and Laos are not on the index but the rest of Asean is

The Philippines (4th)

M’sia (14th)

Indonesia (26th)

Vietnam (29th)

Thailand (33rd: err data was up to 2012)

Burma (35th)


*The index combines Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net scores, the International Telecommunication Union’s information and communication technology development index, and the Economist’s Democracy Index (reversed into an “Outrage Index” so that higher scores mean more autocracy). The first measures the degree of Internet freedom in a country, the second shows how widely Internet technology is used, and the third provides the level of oppression.



Iskandar, answer to rising costs, Reits & other cost tales

In Economy, Malaysia, Property, Reits on 09/03/2014 at 4:16 am

“The government has underestimated the impact of high business costs on our future economy,” said Inderjit Singh (Ang Mo Kio), urging the government to set up a cost competitiveness committee to tackle the root causes of soaring costs before SMEs and MNCs relocate with jobs in tow. He also asked the government to reverse its land divestment policy, which he deems a key reason behind high industrial rents.

Companies are facing a “triple whammy” of rising rents and utility bills, growing wage costs, and a shortage of workers, said Mr Singh, himself a businessman. And this “chronic” cost issue does not affect SMEs alone. “The top management of some large MNCs here … have expressed their serious concerns about the unrelenting increases of the cost of doing business coupled with the unavailability of workers,” he said.

Iskandar’s industrial parks are a “huge threat”, he said. If Singapore’s SMEs are forced to move to Johor, MNCs may follow their SME suppliers and subcontractors. “The exodus may be larger than we imagine … We risk hollowing out our economy in the future, and I would like to sound an alarm that we are close to the tipping point.”…

Though he acknowledged that PIC and PIC+ would help with topline revenues growth, Mr Singh said: “We are just trying to do too many things too fast, and this is hurting many companies.”

Both he and nominated MP R Dhinakaran, who is also managing director of Jay Gee Group, pointed to rising industrial and commercial rents as a key culprit of the high costs of doing business in Singapore.

Citing Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee’s comment at BT’s Budget Roundtable that rents rise as much as three-fold when leases are renewed, Mr Dhinakaran said: “In this economic climate, rental increases of this magnitude will be fatal for a large number of SMEs.”

Both Mr Singh and Mr Dhinakaran also linked the high rental costs to the government’s land divestment policy. “JTC was a landlord for 18 per cent of industrial property some 10 years ago, but today manages only 3 per cent of the market. This is a huge shift, and the government lost the ability to influence rental prices resulting in developers and investors making the money,” said Mr Singh.

“We have to reverse this policy, even if it means the government having to buy back some of the Reits. In any case, the biggest Reit players are government-linked entities like Mapletree and CapitaLand,” he added.

Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang) felt that certain cost increases – the restoration of CPF contribution rates for older workers, higher progressive wages for low-income earners and cost hikes due to tighter low-skilled foreign manpower policies – are justified, with “strong rationale”.

But she also said that business rents need “the touch of the State”, and asked the government to consider “cooling measures, especially for business rents”.

BT 5 March

Given that Ascendas (a GLC) is the biggest player in the industrial land arena: why do you think when the govt says this?

The government will intervene if it sees evidence of collusion or the abuse of market dominance by any landlord – including real estate investment trusts (Reits), said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck … in Parliament … calls for help with climbing business costs (and in particular, the affordability of business space) have grown louder both in and outside of Parliament in recent months.

Reits – some of which were formed after JTC and HDB divested space to private owners – have been blamed for shorter lease renewals and sharper spikes in rentals.

“We know that it has come up as an issue, many of you have raised it. We will monitor it,” said Mr Teo.

At the same time, he noted that “Reits are not necessarily the leading players in the rental space market, because they currently only own about 13 per cent and 16 per cent of retail and industrial rental spaces respectively. Like any other landlord, they have to compete in the rental market to attract tenants and cannot charge excessive rents”.

Mr Teo also said that rents for space are likely to moderate in the medium term, as the government has released a “significant amount of land”.

Over the next three years, about 145,000 square metres of new shop space will be completed each year. Over the same period, an average of 500,000 square metres of multiple-user factory space will come on-stream each year.

For the former, that represents more than double the average annual demand for such space in the last three years; for the latter, it is just under double.

(BT 7 March)

Silicon Valley S’pore style?

Entrepreneurship will also receive a boost, since by the end of this year, JTC will open two more blocks to incubate start-ups, as part of a cluster called JTC LaunchPad@one-north.

“It’s our answer to Silicon Valley,” said Mr Teo.

Calling Indons’ bluff and other Asean tall tales

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 08/03/2014 at 5:02 am

On 1 March, S’pore upped the stakes in its ongoing row with Indonesia on responsibility for the haze

Singapore has reiterated its call to the Indonesian government to share evidence relating to any involvement by Singapore-linked companies or Singaporeans in illegal land clearing practices in Indonesia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said this on Saturday in response to media queries on comments by Indonesian Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono.*

Now that S’pore has passed laws allowing it to prosecute , the Indons cannot bitch too hard about S’pore’s failures if it can’t provide evidence, what can S’pore do?. Note that Indon refused to give M’sia and s’pore details of where the fires occurred (which would help identify the culprits) saying “secret lah”. They had earlier bitched that M’sian and S’porean cos had started fires but so far have provided no evidence, despite requests.

Note the Indon parly has just started procedures for ratifying the Asean 2002 treaty on haze pollution.  When will it be ratified 2022? CNA reported on 3 March

Indonesia’s parliament is a step closer to ratifying the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution.

Parties representing nearly 65 per cent of lawmakers have agreed to ratify the treaty.

Only two political parties – the PDI-P and PKS – have opposed it.

They cited concerns over the violation of sovereignty, as the agreement would allow firefighters from ASEAN countries to extinguish fires on Indonesian territory.

The next step will see a draft bill being discussed, before the agreement is formally ratified in parliament.

Related light reading:

–    –  –

The chief minister of Selangor must be laughing all the way to the bank. Anwar Ibrahim was planning to depose him (both belong to the same gang) by first standing in a state by-election so that he could get into the state assembly. Well Anwar has now been convicted of sodomy

The court decision will affect Mr Anwar’s plans to compete in a key by-election in the state of Selangor this month, reports say.

A victory for Mr Anwar would mean he could become Selangor’s chief minister – widely seen as a powerful post.

The court said he could remain free on bail while he appeals against the verdict to the country’s highest court, AP news agency reported.


*Mr Agung had said publicly that since 2013, the Indonesian police have launched 41 investigations against errant companies and individuals that may be involved in illegal land clearing practices in Indonesia.

Mr Agung said some of these cases involved Singapore-linked companies or Singaporeans.

MFA said that the Singapore government takes a serious view of these allegations.

It added that if there is credible evidence that Singapore-linked companies or Singaporeans were involved, the Singapore government intends to take further steps against these errant companies and individuals.

The ministry also urged the Indonesian government to take the necessary legal and enforcement action against errant companies or individuals, regardless of their nationality.

It said the primary responsibility for legal and enforcement action lies with Indonesia, where these companies and individuals were allegedly conducting such illegal activities.

MFA noted that a state of emergency has been declared in Riau province due to the severe haze arising from the ongoing forest and peatland fires there as well as fires elsewhere in Sumatra.

Singapore hopes that the fires will be quickly dealt with to prevent a recurrence of transboundary haze.

Asean looking gd: gd for us

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 15/02/2014 at 4:15 am

[S]outheast Asia has confounded the sceptics. Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines – the “Tips” – weathering the latest storm with relative ease.

The Jakarta equity index has recorded the biggest gain of any major market – emerging or otherwise – this year, rising 5.2 per cent in dollar terms since the start of January. Financials have led the charge with Bank Rakyat jumping by more than a fifth.

The Philippine market has risen 1.5 per cent, while Thailand’s loss of 0.4 per cent looks tame compared with other EMs. For the same period, Russia’s Micex is down 7.2 per cent and Brazil’s Bovespa is 7.9 per cent lower.

A similar pattern has played out in currency markets. The Indonesian rupiah and the Thai baht are the top EM performers against the dollar this year. [EM means Emerging Markets]

Previous rallies in southeast Asia have been driven by aversion to China – the Tips are less reliant on exports to the country than are many other places in the emerging world. As concerns about economic growth and the financial system bubble up again in China, southeast Asia appears to be benefiting.

However, Bill Maldonado, chief investment officer for Asia at HSBC asset management, says more country-specific factors are at work. (Except from FT blog of 10th Feb)

— Thailand is cheap, juz as profitable as Indonesia: politics makes it cheap.
— Indonesia is growing faster than expected having taken steps earlier to fix its deficits in budget and current account and there there is an election is coming,

Both stk markets are cheap on a price to book basis, the Jakarta index is at a four-year low, while Thai stocks are trading at two-year lows.

Given Indonesia’s proximity to S’pore, we’ll benefit too. Too bad M’sia is not in better shape*. If it is, there will be a GE in 2015.

*Update at 7.30 am: M’sia could be getting better– BT reports: Analysts have revised their estimates for Malaysia’s 2014 growth upwards, with the country having reported fourth-quarter growth of 5.2 per cent, confounding the market’s estimate of 4.8 per cent.

Details released by the central bank indicate that domestic demand remains the key driver of the economy, despite concerns that this would be hit by rising living costs; private consumption remained resilient, rising 7.3 per cent from a year earlier.

In reports released on Wednesday, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch forecast this year’s growth at 5 per cent; Barclays Bank pegged its estimate at 5.4 per cent, while the Malaysian government’s own forecast was between 5 and 5.5 per cent.

If turns out to be correct, GE 2015, after National Day 2015.

S$, Baht & Rupiah looking gd

In Currencies, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia on 13/02/2014 at 4:43 am

Given that a senior cabinet minister and NTUC chief, and a jnr minister from NTUC is giving the PAP govt a bad name, maybe it’s time to remind S’poreans that the PAP govt is not all full of NTUC clowns. On Tueday I reported that Khaw and MoM Tan had the developers concerned, and today I’ll remind S’poreans that PM’s economic team (headed by Tharman) are keeping int’l investors onside (too bad about TOC, TRe readers, but then they can take comfort that locals like me too like a strong S$.)

(4 Feb) – Recent alarmist commentary may have stirred up concerns about Singapore’s economy, but in the midst of the emerging market rout, safe-haven seekers’ faith appeared unshaken as they scooped up its currency.

“We have noted its safe-haven status within the Asian region is getting stronger in past years. So when you have a broad risk off, in general the Singapore dollar will outperform,” said Ju Wang, senior foreign-exchange strategist at HSBC.

Earlier this week, global markets largely sold off, but the Singapore dollar strengthened, with the U.S. dollar fetching as little as 1.2666 on Tuesday, compared with around 1.2790 Friday. Against the currency of its neighbor Malaysia, the Singapore dollar has touched its highest level since 1998.

But To be sure, it isn’t clear the Sing’s climb is sustainable or would withstand a more extended market rout.

“When people want to take money off the table, the safe-haven tag may not be helpful,” Song said. “We can’t avoid spillover from contagion in Southeast Asia.”

Now that would have TOC, TRE readers happy, ’cause they can blame it on the govt.

BTW, here’s an interesting article on the flows in and out of Indonesia and the other Fragile Five. Actually the rupiah has done relatively better than most other emerging markets currencies against the US$. So has the the Thai baht despite the political problems.

But the currencies of  Thailand Indonesia, M’sia  and the Philippines have fared worse against Japan’s yen than they have against the US dollar. This means that Japanese financial ,institutions may slow down their investments in the region: investing here could be like catching a falling knife. So, they’ll likely wait.


Thailand, harbinger of problems in M’sia, S’pore

In Malaysia, Public Administration on 08/02/2014 at 4:56 am

(Asean round-up)

But before I go into what I mean here’s something on how Thailand’s woes are benefiting S’pore: Singapore Institute of Purchasing & Materials Management ‘s executive director Janice Ong said (according to BT) that there has been anecdotal evidence that the political turmoil in Thailand is diverting orders to Singapore’s manufacturers. But economists believe that the impact would be slight at best.

UOB economist Francis Tan said that the clusters in which such diversion may occur, such as hard disk drives, make up only a small proportion of Singapore’s manufacturing sector.

Divine compensation for Temasek’s purchase of Shin?

Now back to the subject matter of the title. One aspect of the crisis is the sense of entitlement by the Opposition. It was explained by this analysis

[P]olitical power and economic power no longer coincide in Thailand. The parts of the country that generate most of Thailand’s GDP do not ally with the ruling party, which commands most of the vote. That simple fact no doubt explains some of the bitterness of the country’s crisis. In the chart below, we try to quantify this simple insight.

Thailand’s redshirts back the government and most of them look forward to the election on February 2nd. They support Pheu Thai, the third incarnation of a political party founded by Thaksin Shinawatra, a tycoon and former prime minister whose sister, Yingluck, now heads the government. The protesters, on the other hand, want to derail the election and rid Thailand of the influence of the Shinawatras, whom they accuse of rapacious corruption and ruinous populism. They tend to support the opposition, led by the Democrat Party. 

In the last general election in 2011, Pheu Thai won 48% of the votes cast for the national political parties*. They were the leading party in 46 of Thailand’s 76 provinces, helping the party and its allies take control of Thailand’s National Assembly. But, according to calculations by The Economist, the party’s political strongholds account for only 38% of Thailand’s GDP.

The opposition Democrats, by contrast, polled 35% of the party votes. They were the leading party in 30 of Thailand’s 76 provinces and also its capital city. Added together, these territories account for 62% of the nation’s GDP. Bangkok alone accounts for about 30%**. In Thailand, in short, domestic power and domestic product reside in different parts of the country.

the chart illustrates the enormous gap between the Democrats’ political power and their economic clout. This gap may help explain both their feelings of alarm and their sense of entitlement. It shows the enormous scope for redistribution from Democrat-ruled provinces to those dominated by Pheu Thai. This redistribution, which has been taking place for decades, accelerated in 2001 when Thaksin first became prime minister. Back then the Thai state spent 16% of the national budget on the provinces. Today, under his sister’s government, their share has increased to a quarter.

The figures may also shed light on the opposition’s sense of entitlement. Some in the old Thai establishment no doubt feel that they make a disproportionate contribution to the country’s prosperity and development. To them a constitutional arrangement that gave them about 62% of the political power might feel about right. It would represent a realignment of domestic power with domestic product.

 This situation could be replicated in M’sia. Selangor is biggest contributor in GDP terms to M’sia (as of 2013)  and Penang is 5th based 0n 2010 data. Both are controlled by the Opposition. Attempts by BN to buy votes need money, and taxes can only come from the richer states. You can guess the rest …

Even in S’pore, such entitlement is not absent. I came across this comment: [O]nly 40% of the population are paying income tax to support 60% of the population. Increasing revenue from direct taxes will penalise the very people who have been contributing to the nation’s coffers. With countries in the region cutting their corporate taxes, Singapore has to rely on higher indirect taxes and reduce the proportion of revenue arising from income and corporate taxes. Otherwise, the minority tax payers can very well vote with their feet and offer their investments and skills to someone else.

Fortunately, this is rubbish. because (based on last yr’s Budget estimates only 14% (third largest) of govt revenues come from personal income tax. The largest contributor is corporate tax (17%). GST at 17% is the second largest contributor.



Chinese zodiac’s animals: global distribution per capita

In Humour, Indonesia, Malaysia on 01/02/2014 at 4:33 am

To herald China’s most important holiday, we [Economist] have taken a light-hearted look at the global distribution of the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The Middle Kingdom is home to some of the world’s largest herds, flocks, packs, and broods. It has the second-largest number of horses, 6.7m, after America’s 10m (although neither feature in our charts, which account for population). Instead, Mongolia, where horses are integral to its nomadic tradition, tops the ranking. Similarly, there are four times as many pigs in China as anywhere else, but Denmark’s huge pork industry means it has the highest pig-to-person ratio. Of the ten animals shown, China is among the top nations in total numbers for all but tigers, dragons (Komodo) and rats (guinea pigs in Peru and Bolivia, the only numbers available from the FAO). Snake (the departing year) and monkey are omitted for lack of data. Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Asean countries– Brunei (Rooster), M’sia and Thailand (Tiger), Indonesia (Dragon) and Laos (Tiger and Ox) — appear on several of these charts.

Click link to see all all the charts or in bigger format

HK, S’pore, Bangkok, KL: What neither MSM nor new media tell us

In Casinos, Economy, Malaysia on 31/01/2014 at 4:20 am

But first Happy Neigh Yr .

S’pore had the second highest number of int’l tourists after HK in 2012. Distant third is Bangkok. KL is 6th. All benefit from Chinese tourists.

PAP govt must be doing shumething right, TRE , TOC readers? The casinos perhaps, Tan Jee Say?

RHB Capital says S’pore is gd place to expand

In Banks, Economy, Malaysia on 22/01/2014 at 4:40 am

So gd, that RHB Bank S’pore expects to triple profit by 2016.

RHB Bank will aggressively expand its Singapore business by three-fold within the next two years, by focusing on the small and medium enterprise business, wealth management as well as corporate and investment banking.

To meet the increased business needs, RHB Bank Singapore will be doubling its staff strength from the current 500 to 1000, the bank said Thursday.

The aggressive expansion in Singapore is part of the group’s regional strategy, said to U Chen Hock, director of group international business at RHB Banking Grou… the official opening of RHB’s latest branch in Westgate Mall in East Jurong. . (Last week’s BT)

Maybe RHB’s mgt doesn’t read a certain Forbes contributor (no not refering to one LKY), or TRE readers’ comments on S’pore’s prospects or that  more than 90% of the Marina Bay Suites are unoccupied: only 20 of the 221 units at the 66-storey tower are occupied. . But I do know that the RHB research institute has a well respected economist.

S’poreans own Iskandar

In Malaysia on 19/01/2014 at 4:47 am

Yesterday’s ST carried pages and pages of ads for a project in IskandarLand.

This reminded of a BT story earlier this yr which reported:Singaporeans make up a hefty 74 per cent of foreigners who have snapped up its properties – a figure that surpasses all the other foreign buyers combined.

Looks like the developers want even more S’poreans. Remember the previous Sultan warned about foreigners taking over Johor when IskandarLand was proposed many yrs ago?

Might as well send SAF over? I’m sure the DAP MP there would have no objection. His heloo is one LKY. When his son became Penang’s chief minister, son made a trip to S’pore to see LKY and son.

Oh and without us, Iskandar would be a ghost town like this in China:

One could well surmise that the year 2013 was when Iskandar Malaysia – the country’s first economic growth corridor – finally came of age in a big way.
The mega-project, which turned seven last November, reported some encouraging numbers as far as its investments were concerned, although some investors are treading with caution after the government announced measures to cool speculation in the region’s red-hot property market.
Iskandar Malaysia, a 2,217 sq km region in southern Johor, is three times the size of neighbouring Singapore.
As at Oct 31 last year, Iskandar Malaysia had attracted RM129.4 billion (S$49.8 billion) in committed investments – 44 per cent of which has been realised so far – putting it on track to meet its lofty targets of RM383 billion by 2025 and GDP of US$93.3 billion.
This goal, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in a recent speech, must be achieved in order to transform Iskandar into an international metropolis.
Ismail Ibrahim, chief executive of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), expects Iskandar Malaysia to secure RM22 billion in investments this year, beating the RM21 billion in 2013.
Singapore is still by far the biggest investor in Iskandar Malaysia, accounting for 16 per cent of its total foreign investment as at June last year.
Singaporeans from all walks of life are sitting up and taking notice of developments up north, their curiosity piqued after several household names in the Singapore corporate scene pumped big money into Iskandar Malaysia – a telling sign of the level of confidence in the project’s staying power and viability.
Last February, Temasek Holdings and CapitaLand signed a deal with Iskandar Waterfront Holdings to build a S$3.2 billion township in Danga Bay, featuring luxury condominiums, shopping malls and bungalows.
Temasek and its Malaysian counterpart, Khazanah Nasional, are also jointly developing two wellness projects in Medini with a total development gross value of RM5.2 billion.
Medini is a mixed-use urban development that will feature a lifestyle and leisure cluster, a logistics village, a creative park and an international financial district, among others.
Many other Singapore firms are also striking while the iron is still hot. Last month, Iskandar Waterfront Holdings sold 15 ha of seafront land in Danga Bay for RM1.6 billion to Hao Yuan Investment, which is planning a RM8 billion development featuring, among others, peninsula Malaysia’s tallest tower.
In October 2013, Singapore billionaire and former remisier king Peter Lim unveiled plans for his RM5.5 billion Vantage Bay project that will include twin towers and is set to become one of the tallest condominiums in Malaysia.
But it is Iskandar’s property market that is getting the most attention, especially from Singapore-based investors.
According to developer UEM Sunrise, Singaporeans make up a hefty 74 per cent of foreigners who have snapped up its properties – a figure that surpasses all the other foreign buyers combined.
Most of these Singaporeans are people who either travel to Johor often for business or those who want a weekend home, according to UEM Sunrise CEO Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim.
UEM Sunrise is the master developer of Nusajaya, which is Iskandar Malaysia’s administrative capital and billed as the region’s crown jewel.
Overall, the greater number of investors flocking to Iskandar Malaysia has helped push home prices up considerably. The cost of bungalows at UEM’s East Ledang development, for instance, has surged 44 per cent on average in the resale market since 2011.

Interestingly the BT story played down the problems that developers and potential buyers are facing regarding the new rules for foreigners.. ST says, DEVELOPERS in Malaysia’s red-hot development region Iskandar are still struggling to understand the country’s new property curbs, some three months after they surprised the market.

They are not the only ones. Phones have been ringing off the hook at the sales offices of some popular property projects.

Potential buyers, particularly foreigners, have been desperate to seek clarity on how the new rules affect them or if they do.

“We were given sketchy guidelines on the new rules with lots of disclaimers, which means many of these rules are still being tweaked,” said an executive from a firm with a major development in booming Iskandar, three times the size of Singapore.

.BT says:

But Malaysia is taking steps to prevent its own real estate inflation from emerging as well as appeasing locals who complain that they can barely afford to own a home.
In his Budget speech last October, Mr Najib – who is also the co-chairman of IRDA – doubled the minimum amount foreigners must spend on property and raised the capital gains tax to 30 per cent on homes they sell within five years.
Just how these latest rulings will impact the property market in Iskandar Malaysia remains to be seen, especially coupled with Johor’s decision to impose a new tax of 4 to 5 per cent on foreigners who buy property – both commercial and residential – in the state to curb speculative fervour.This is a big step up from the current rules which require foreigners to pay a one-off fee of RM10,000 regardless of the property’s value.

BT keeps on plugging Medini:
Medini, meanwhile, could be seeing more investment in the coming years, with the zone exempt from the higher 30 per cent property gains tax.
In fact, Medini – home to a new Legoland theme park and hotel, and Britain’s famous Pinewood Studios – has been exempt from property gains taxes since day one as part of the plan by IRDA to drive more investments there.
Looking ahead, the year 2014 could prove to be an even more monumental one for Iskandar Malaysia, should two major initial public offerings (IPO) be launched as planned.
Medini is looking to raise some RM2.5 billion when it eventually goes public. Iskandar Waterfront Holdings, meanwhile, was on track for a US$300 million IPO in the first quarter of this year, but has since delayed it to the end of 2014 to gauge the impact of the numerous property cooling measures.
From the government’s perspective, it will do all it can to ensure Iskandar Malaysia remains vibrant and attractive to both local and foreign investors, Mr Najib said last month.
“The federal government is committed to ensuring the success of Iskandar Malaysia and we are working with the Johor government, the private and public sectors, and the people of Johor to ensure the economic region’s growth,” he said.
“It is vital to ensure that projects are successfully completed on time and within budget to build investor and public confidence in Iskandar Malaysia and attract more investments. This will generate a momentum that will bring about multiplier effects and sustainable economic activities,” he said.

Related post:

Intellectual netizen hero critiques doom monger & govt policy

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Property on 18/01/2014 at 4:56 am

(Or “Are S’pore & other major Asean economies are doomed?)

Even though Singapore is no longer an emerging market nation, I consider its bubble economy to be part of the overall emerging markets bubble that I have been warning about due to its strategic role and location in Southeast Asia, which is also known as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). My recent reports on Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia show that the entire region is caught up in a massive bubble, and Singapore is benefiting from this bubble by acting as ASEAN’s financial center.


This piece and its sequel have been well publicised, and the central babk has critiqued the first piece (It would wouldn’t it?)

Readers may recall that Donald Low is a scholar who has liberal viewers despite being the Associate Dean (Executive Education and Research) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He served fifteen years in the Singapore government and I’ve been told he was one of the fathers of Workfare (a scheme I support though I think it’s too mean). He critiqued the article on Facebook as regards S’pore. I’ve paragraphed hos comments to make it easier on the eye:

Donald Low’s FC

There’s a Forbes article on an impending crash in Singapore circulating widely on FB. I won’t dignify it by posting it but here are my thoughts about it: I read the article a while ago and wasn’t at all convinced with his line of argument. It’s just far too sweeping.

Above all, if you look at the usual triggers of financial crises, they are mostly non-existent in Singapore. We don’t have a large current account deficit – on the contrary, we have a huge current account surplus. We don’t have a large fiscal deficit – we run structural budget surpluses. And we don’t have an highly leveraged/indebted household or corporate sector.

On his point about a housing bubble in Singapore fueled by low interest rates, he is partially correct. But to claim that we are on the verge of financial collapse on account of that is utter nonsense. Our leverage ratios are still healthy and I suspect a large part of the run-up in housing prices in recent years is inadequate supply – a problem which has now been largely corrected. Will we see house prices fall this year? Yes, quite possibly. My guess is 10% but even if house prices were to fall 20%, I don’t think it will impact the health of our banks or even our households. There will be households that have negative equity, but as long as they have the cash flow to service their mortgages, it will not precipitate a financial crash.

But there is one argument from the article that is worth highlighting and which I mostly agree with. And that is booms which are led by real estate development and the financial sector are mostly illusory. They create the impression of economic dynamism without creating any real productive capacity in the economy (think back to Bangkok, KL and Jakarta just before the Asian crisis). They also distort and re-direct resources away from productive activities. Real estate and finance are inherently distributive, not creative, activities – they move money and wealth around, but they don’t produce any productive capacity and technological capabilities for the economy.

So when I argue that the Singapore government should look not just at the quantity of growth, but also the quality of growth, I have in mind not just equity and distributional considerations, but also the composition of growth. Is the growth coming from manufacturing and high value-added services, or is it dominated by real estate and finance? If it’s the latter, we have a structural problem.

Finally, I would also highlight that what this article reveals is the failure of government efforts to attract high net worth individuals to Singapore, to make Singapore a wealth management hub for the rich, and to bring in more billionaires even if they increase inequality. I think the costs to the economy and society of such efforts far outweigh their benefits. What productive capacity do property speculators and HNWIs who park their monies in Singapore help to create? So yes, we get a tiny wealth management industry that employs a few thousand people and manages several billion dollars. We can easily do without these ‘benefits’. Meanwhile, their costs in terms of raising property prices, the competition they create for positional goods, and their ostentatious lifestyles undermine our egalitarian norms and values. They also reduce the trust and mutual regard citizens have for one another, undermining their willingness to contribute to more redistribution. All in, I would say that the efforts to attract rich foreigners to Singapore are incredibly misguided.

Welfare: Govt still missing the point

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 08/01/2014 at 4:25 am

Two Saturdays ago, I blogged:

After the general election (GE) in May, Malaysia was put on notice by the international rating agencies that it had to get its fiscal discipline right. Prime Minister Najib Razak responded by first cutting fuel subsidies and raising petrol prices by 10 per cent in September.

In his October Budget, Mr Najib abolished sugar subsides and pledged to cut total subsidies by 17 per cent in the financial year. The Budget did not achieve that, so most commentators expect more fuel subsidy cuts possibly in the second half of the year. Mr Najib also promised a 6 per cent goods and services tax (GST) by next April.

Indonesia too has a problem with its fuel subsidy: it’s eating up a growing share of the budget, and meanwhile Thailand has a problem with its rice subsidy for farmers. It’s so bad that there are reports that there are farmers not receiving the subsidy. The govt doesn’t have the money.

S’pore govt doesn’t have this problem: the govt doesn’t do subsidies (except in public housing, healthcare and public tpt*: though even PAP Wormtongues** like that Jason chap cannot explain where the subsidies are in healthcare and public housing: they can only repeat parrot-like the govt’s statements about the subsidies, which is there is a subsidy).

The govt claims a more focused, targeted approach in helping the needy.

But sadly in its targeted, focused approach in helping the needy, it believes in the values of Scrooge as I blogged here. I won’t go into the details on its meanness in helping poorer or older S’poreans ’cause Uncle Leong has repeatedly provided the numbers detailing its Scrooginess. But juz to remind, here is one example: Workfare is gd in principle (better than minimum wage) in my view, but too mean.

And even when it increases welfare spending by a few pennies: Acting Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong has cautioned against getting Singapore into debt, even as the government ramps up social assistance.

He said state spending has to be kept sustainable to avoid passing the burden to future generations.

And despite their S$ 2.5bn++ annual contribution, manual FT workers don’t get help, when they should.

M’sia, Indonesia and Thailand have got their finances messed up because of the use of subsidies but they understand one thing: that spending on welfare is an investment in human resources. What they got wrong is welfare by way of subsidies.

Our govt has got the right idea on subsidies: they are often wasteful, always juz grow and grow, and, often, the people who don’t need them benefit the most, example middle class people  and the wealthy benefit the most from any fuel subsidy, not the poor.

But it hasn’t got it: that spending on welfare can be an investment in people. This is something that developed countries, our Asean neighbours, China, India understand. But our govt doesn’t seem not to understand: it’s a Hard Truth thatwelfare spending is a waste of resources. The money could be given to Temasek and GIC to punt the markets is another Hard truth.

If the PAP wants to reconnect with the 40% of voters who voted against the PAP in the last GE, and please its base (including the 35% that “Die, die must vote PAP” , it should rethink its Hard Truth that welfare spending is consumption, not investment. However anti-PAP paper activists should be glad that the govt is unlikely to change its thinking.

As ex-scholar Donald Low put it: “What all this points to is that we really need a more robust welfare system that gives Singaporeans much greater assurance of income when they are unemployed, old or sick. The low fertility rate and the desire of even well-to-do Singaporeans to retire somewhere else are signs that the state needs to craft a new social contract with Singaporeans, that it needs to develop more mechanisms to pool risks and give Singaporeans security.

The argument that we cannot afford all these because the population is ageing is mostly a bogeyman. It is partly because we don’t have a proper welfare system that the population is ageing as rapidly as it is. This has also been the experience in much of East Asia – where the relative absence of social security led to falling fertility rates and eventually, rapid ageing.”

But anti-govt activists should be worried that he is Associate Dean (Executive Education and Research) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Maybe, juz maybe, there’ll be changes in the mentality of the PAP.


*Even the S$1.1bn spent on tpt is spare change as it’s spread out over five yrs, I think.

**Wormtongue is a minor character in The Lord of the Rings: his name describes his character.

Dr M, like one LKY, is losing his memory

In Malaysia, Political economy, Political governance on 31/12/2013 at 4:46 am

(There is some analysis of what one LKY said tagged on at the end but yes it’s analysis about M’sia week (previous) ).

Going by this extract from BT, seems that Dr M has forgotten that there was almost no money left in the Treasury when he stepped down.

FORMER Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that Putrajaya should cut its own costs before burdening the public with higher taxes and tariffs.

It was his first public comment on what has fast become a contentious issue among Malaysians: an increasing cost of living that is set to escalate in 2014.

After the general election (GE) in May, Malaysia was put on notice by the international rating agencies that it had to get its fiscal discipline right. Prime Minister Najib Razak responded by first cutting fuel subsidies and raising petrol prices by 10 per cent in September.

In his October Budget, Mr Najib abolished sugar subsides and pledged to cut total subsidies by 17 per cent in the financial year. The Budget did not achieve that, so most commentators expect more fuel subsidy cuts possibly in the second half of the year. Mr Najib also promised a 6 per cent goods and services tax (GST) by next April.

Yes, yes, I know Badawi accused him of over-spending. But the fact that Badawi and now Najib are having to cut back govt spending shows that Dr M overspent when he was in power. Sadly this never happened here. If only GCT had spent more, LHL, would not be in so much shit. But don’t pity PM: he was DPM then, and in charge of economical and financial matters.

Coming back to Dr M. We can’t be too hard on him given that one LKY said that S’pore was a “barren rock” before the PAP took power. He must have got HK in mind when the British seized HK from the Chinese. I’ll let a HK official tell the story, It was on this day, January 20 in 1841 that a treaty was signed ceding Hong Kong to the United Kingdom.

 To cut a long story short, Captain Charles Elliot of the British Royal Navy had negotiated the terms of the agreement and reported them to Lord Palmerston who was then the Foreign Secretary in London.

Lord Palmerston was outraged that Britain had got such a raw end of the deal. He promptly dismissed Captain Elliot from his post and famously declared that Hong Kong was, and I quote: “A barren rock with nary a house upon it. It will never be a mart for trade.”

S’pore as all TRE readers will be able to tell you was the second most important port in Asia, though they may not tell you (because they may not know)  that it had problems, problems  outlined below*.

LKY would have been on safer ground if he had told S’poreans what might have happened if S’pore had gotten bad govt (like in Burma). But then S’poreans could rightly have asked if there were credible alternatives. The answer to that is not so obvious and detracts from the narrative that the PAP made S’pore. It didn’t: S’poreans of my parents’ generation made  modernS’pore on the colonial foundation. The PAP helped in the making.

*Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962)

by Leon Comber*

Publisher:  Marshall Cavendish International Asia

Singapore Correspondent Book CoverSingapore Correspondent” covers five years of Singapore’s colourful political past – a period of living turbulently and sometimes dangerously. It is a collection of eye-witness dispatches, sent from Singapore to London, spanning a time when Singapore was emerging from British colonial rule and moving forward to self-government and independence. Many of the early struggles of the People’s Action Party (PAP) are described as the focus is on the political struggle taking place in which the PAP played a major part. Many important events which have long been forgotten are brought to life. These dispatches prove that political history need not be dull, and indeed can sometimes be entertaining and lively.

* MAI Adjunct Research Fellow

Reviewed here:


1Malay not 1M’sian

In Malaysia on 29/12/2013 at 5:55 am

The u/m extract reflects the consensus among analysts (not connected to the govt or oppo) on how UMNO will behave.

Umno’s three-pronged strategy towards GE14
This conservative logic formed the bedrock of the “back to basics” strategy that was spelt out by Najib, whose speech was themed “Fortifying the Future”. Going forward, Umno will pursue three strategic thrusts – or what Najib called the “three messages from the assembly”: The first is a turn towards Islamic Shariah; the second is a stronger Malay and bumiputra agenda, for which, he said, Umno need not be apologetic; and the third a “transformed Umno” as a “party of the 21st century”. It is significant that Umno as the “party of the future” will become not just more Malay, but Islamist at the same time.    

Becoming more Islamist for a Malay-nationalist party like Umno is an equally significant shift. Ideologically-driven Islamist parties actually find ethno-nationalism objectionable. Umno clearly is positioning itself as the primary political vehicle for the Malay and Muslim constituency, thus raising the prospects of an all-out contest for power with the opposition Islamist PAS, even as Umno – paradoxically – woos PAS for unity talks. Umno’s drift towards a more Islamist identity was marked by a highly controversial drive to pitch itself as the defender of Sunni Islam in the face of what it paints as the growing threat of Shiism in the country. The federal constitution would be reworded to define the official religion as “Islam Sunnah Wal Jamaah” or Sunni Islam, not simply Islam. That this move is partly politically-motivated is seen in the immediate targeting of the PAS deputy leader as a closet Shia and therefore a threat.

The second thrust of a greater push for the Malay and bumiputra agenda is clearly aimed at solidifying the Peninsular-East Malaysia axis around the Malay core. Najib conceded the crucial role of the “fixed deposit” states of Sabah and Sarawak in BN’s ultimate win in the last GE. As many see it, if not for these two states, there would have been a change of government in Malaysia. With Najib’s renewed emphasis on the Malay and bumiputra agenda, the New Economic Policy that officially ended in 1990 but was unofficially continued, has finally been resurrected in all but name. CEOs of all government-linked companies have been given KPIs to realise this goal on pain of seeing their contracts not renewed.

To complete the three-pronged strategy, Umno will go all out to win the young voters. In the next GE, some six million new voters will be casting for the first time. The majority are likely to be anti-establishment and anti-Umno. They could make a difference whether there will finally be a change of government or not in GE14. No wonder Najib made it clear: UMNO must win over the young voters and master the social media with which the young are savvy.

Umno’s eagerness to recover its eroded political ground has seen it responding in unexpected ways, with implications yet to be fully fathomed. Its readiness to march to its own drumbeat is a warning to friend and foe alike that the rules of the game will be set by Umno alone. 

To its ethnic-based political allies in BN, which are facing their own internal crises, the message is that the BN power-sharing system will be on Umno’s terms. To the opposition, the message is clear: whoever controls the Malay and Muslim ground will control power – and it is not going to be the opposition, which is not homogenous ethnically and ideologically. 

Umno is desperate to win. Going forward, all communities will be forced to ponder what this means for them and the country.

Waz interesting is that PAS or a faction of PAS will decide if this strategy works: DAP and Anwar’s gang can only hope the moderates in PAS continue to hold power, and that UMNO doesn’t succeed in splitting PAS. In PAS, the conservatives outnumber the moderates among the PAS supporters. At the leadership level, there is an uneasy consensus between the moderates and conservativesnot to team up with UMNO. Even the conservative leaders have their doubts given that PAS was once a jnr partner of UMNO’s and got stabbed in the back repeatedly.

Now if UMNO decided that it would support the cutting off of limbs, the conservatives of PAS would have no choice but to team up with UMNO. Of course, there is likely a step too far for even UMNO.  But the logical remains (and tempation) remains for UMNO.

BT: Comparing apples to oranges again?

In Emerging markets, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 28/12/2013 at 7:27 am

(Or “Anti-PAP bloggers share LKY’s Hardest Truth)

Schroders plc and Baring Asset Management Ltd are avoiding Singapore stocks, the cheapest in South-east Asia, as slower economic growth in the region and cuts to Federal Reserve stimulus drive capital outflows.

The fund managers expect property to lead declines in Singapore amid a real-estate slump and the prospect of higher interest rates. The Straits Times Index was the worst-performing developed market in 2013, dropping 9.5 per cent since Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said in May that bond purchases may be reduced on signs of sustainable US recovery.

Surprised constructive nation-building (but mathematically challenged) BT reported things this way.

In US$ terms, among the bigger Asean stock mkts, only the M’sian stk mkt was better than us. Taz not saying much as only M’sia index ended in positive territory (juz) juz before hols

M’sia:          +3.2%

S’pore:          -6.0

Thailand:     -8.5

Indonesia:   -23.0

Got subversives in BT meh?

In the minnow Asean mkts Vietnam  was +24%, while Manila was +3.4% according to the MSCI indices.

Next yr is not going to be a gd yr for Asean countries, so the fact that Schroders and Barings are “avoiding” S’pore is no big deal for anti-PAP bloggers to brag about. Don’t know about you, but I get the sense that some of them hate the PAP so much that they end up cheering and being cheerful when S’pore tanks, for whatever reason. Looks like they agree with one LKY that S’pore and the PAP are one. They may hate him but they accept his premise?

Asean round-up returns next yr, god willing.

LKY must be angry LOL

In Footie, Malaysia on 14/12/2013 at 6:43 am

(Asean round-up)

Remember LKY saying Johor was full of crime?

Well whatever the truth of that, at least FTs have not rioted in M’sia. Taz, the message MediaCorp’s ST Lite has reported on an inside page: The police and Immigration Department have been put on alert at foreign worker enclaves across Malaysia after the riot in Singapore last week, the country’s Home Minister said in a report in The Star newspaper yesterday …

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said officers have been instructed to monitor areas where foreign workers congregate, especially those identified as potential hot spots for outbreaks of violence.

Dr Ahmad Zahid was quoted by The Star as saying: “We are always observing the activities of foreign workers and are ready to overcome any potential threat … We are also looking at workers’ quarters nationwide, so the public need not worry.”

Locations under surveillance include landmarks in the heart of the capital, such as the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, which houses the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.

Between May 30 and June 4, three Myanmar nationals were killed and several others injured in fights in various areas in Kuala Lumpur. The authorities subsequently arrested more than 1,000 Myanmar nationals during raids in Kuala Lumpur and parts of Selangor. [Had to tell us this]

But ST Lite saboed our govt’s attempts to say that there was no evidence working conditions were a cause of the riot (How ministers know leh? If so why call CoI?) by reporting: Growing discontent among foreign workers in Malaysia due to poor working conditions, discrimination and low wages is like a “time bomb”, Bernama yesterday quoted the leader of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) as saying.

MTUC President Khalid Atan said the riot in Singapore should serve as a wake-up call and the organisation called on the Human Resource Ministry to hold a tripartite meeting between the government, employers and employees to map out a strategy to prevent rioting by foreign workers.

He said the MTUC felt the government should take steps to reduce and even curtail the recruitment of foreign workers until it has a plan to address their basic needs and rights.

Anyway, let’s cheer on our LionsXII. Looks like the game against Laos was the exception due to the courage of Laos’ ten men. Credit to Laos, not shame on our LionsXII. If our XII do well in this tournament (gold medals) Fandhi will have a problem. But taz his problem, not ours.



Asean’s prospects in 2014

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 07/12/2013 at 6:25 am

(Asean round-up)

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) says Asean is looking gd: Asean as a whole to grow 5.0 per cent this year, still weighed down by Thailand’s recession. And although the country is tipped to recover in the second half of this year, it may be affected by China’s soft landing, which is projected to extend into next year and dampen its demand for Asean’s goods and services.

As for individual countries (I’ve excluded S’pore as I will analyse it next week with reference to politics):

Not only is economic growth in the Philippines expected to take a hit, the report says intra-regional trade will suffer, hampering growth in other Asean countries.

Strong government spending and higher exports to China in the second half of the year were tipped to boost the Philippine GDP to 6.9 per cent this year, but Typhoon Haiyan is expected to make growth “noticeably weaker” in the final quarter of the year.

Slower government spending and a tighter US monetary policy will cap growth at 5.8 per cent next year, said the report.

Stubbornly high unemployment and extreme poverty, along with the need to lift interest rates to attract capital, will trim the country’s GDP growth to 4.8 per cent in 2015, it added.

The Cebr report’s prediction for Thailand is that its economy will grow 3.4 per cent this year. Thanks to healthier consumption and export growth, it will jump by 4.4 per cent next year; stronger exports to Western markets will nudge the Thai economy up 4.5 per cent in 2015. [Note thar report was written before the recent bout of trouble]

In Malaysia, growth will be at 4.6 per cent courtesy of a lift from China’s economy. But weakened Chinese growth will depress Malaysia’s growth to 4.2 per cent next year.

A revamped general sales tax in 2015 could further hinder growth, but a stronger global economy should ease this somewhat. Cebr forecasts that Malaysia’s GDP growth will be 4.1 per cent in 2015.

Indonesia, Asean’s biggest economy, is likely to grow 5.7 per cent this year, as a slight uptick in the Chinese economy in the second half of the year is expected to soften the effect of China’s cooling economy on Indonesian exports.

But the report said the US’ tighter monetary policy and higher interest rates will lower Indonesia’s growth to 5.6 per cent next year and the year after.


What a 4-room HDB flat buys in Iskandar & KL.

In Malaysia, Property on 01/12/2013 at 4:28 am
Why it’s right to vote for the PAP if one has fully-paid up or even if 50% paid up,  landed, condo or HDB flat:
While Horizon Hills surrounds a golf course and is luxurious by Malaysian standards, homes cost far less than in Singapore. Four-bedroom houses in the 1,200-acre (487-hectare) development, popular with expatriates, are advertised online at $270 per square foot, compared with the $503 per square foot asked for a four-bedroom public-housing flat in Singapore’s central Bishan district.
The average price of a new 1,000-square-foot (93-square-meter) condominium in Singapore is between $800,000 and $960,000, according to London-based broker Savills Plc. A similar-sized place in Kuala Lumpur costs about $374,000, according to CBRE Group Inc.’s Malaysian unit. [[Less than 4-room HDB flat too.]
( property in Iskandar will only get cheaper:
Iskandar developers seen taking a big hitHeftier taxes, scrapping of easy financing will deter buyers, says RHB ResearchDEVELOPERS with substantial exposure to the Iskandar Malaysia region are expected to be the “worst hit” by recent property measures, as heftier taxes would deter short-term foreign purchasers who also account for a significant portion of residential sales in some areas, a research house has said.

At the same time, overseas developers are expected to be more cautious about land transactions as more punitive taxes could lead to higher landholding costs, said RHB Research.

CBRE data indicates that foreign buyers account for 54 per cent of total high-rise residential sales (by developers) in Nusajaya, and 39 per cent in Johor Baru and major suburbs.

But the new 30 per cent RPGT (real property gains tax) on foreigners who gain on disposals within the first five years of acquisition is likely to “wipe out short-term foreign speculators to a certain extent”, RHB observed in a real estate report dated yesterday. (Friday’s BT)

Related posts:

Govt faciliates spying and tax avoidance, but bans Ashley Madison: Uniquely PAP

In Economy, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Political governance, Telecoms on 27/11/2013 at 5:05 am

In the space of a few days, the govt is facing or is likely to face uncomfortable questions from other govts about its activities: activities that the usual suspects, could reasonably argue, show the two-timing nature of the PAP govt that they (they the usual suspects) detest and wish it all the ill-will in the world.

Malaysia said it will summon Singapore’s high commissioner today to respond to allegations of spying which risk damaging improved political and business ties between the Southeast Asian neighbors.

Indonesia and Malaysia have been key targets for Australian and U.S. intelligence cooperation since the 1970s, facilitated in part by Singapore, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday, citing documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. Malaysia’s foreign ministry said it was “extremely concerned” and had already acted against earlier claims of espionage by the U.S. and Australia.

The reports could also spur friction between Singapore and Indonesia, Tan said. “The Indonesians would probably be concerned whether the information is also being shared with Singapore intelligence, besides the Australians*.”


As SingTel was singled out for mention by the Oz newspaper**, and as it has extensive mobile operations in Indonesia and Thailand, and a major stake in a major Indian telco, it could face problems in these countries.

Then there is the issue of how European and US cos are using S’pore to avoid taxes, at a time when there is growing resentment among politicians and voters that these cos are not paying their fair share of taxes. The Indian, Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean govts will also not be too happy too with S’pore’s corporate tax-regime if they read the Economist.

“Taxing times for Singapore as corporate strategy faces scrutiny” was a Reuters headline on 24 November 2013 (BT and Today carried the report too). It gave details of how Apple used S’pore as a tax-saving centre and went on, “Companies justify booking significant amounts of revenue and profits in Singapore by the fact they often run key business functions such as finance and operations, hold intellectual property rights there or base regional executives in the city.”

The chart below (via the Economist) shows a hypothetical scenario where a company moves its headquarters from Singapore (a very low-tax economy) to another country.

S’pore very cheap place (tax wise) esp compared to Japan. Minister Zorro must be happy: juz as happy as looking as his monthly CPF statement.

The Reuters article went on: Singapore has so far largely stayed out of the debate raging in Europe and the United States about the ways multinationals try to lower their tax bills.

But revenue-hungry governments are looking to impose tougher rules on so-called transfer pricing that could make it harder for firms to trade goods, services or assets between their Singapore and overseas entities.

As a result, accountants warn that the city-state will need to review the level of transparency in its tax incentive schemes and get stronger justifications from companies on their transfer pricing arrangements to fend off challenges from other jurisdictions.

“Singapore’s challenge is to ensure that it stands ready to adequately address any kind of unilateral tax action taken by other countries,” said Abhijit Ghosh, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Singapore.

“In this brave new world of fiscal competition for the tax dollar, dispute resolution will be on the increase and Singapore will need to focus more resources on enforcing and defending its principles of value creation in international forums.”

The city-state’s government says it is against artificially contrived arrangements constructed “solely for the purpose of flouting or exploiting loopholes in tax rules”, according to a spokeswoman from the Ministry of Finance.

However Singapore is also arguing that it should not be singled out because it has low tax rates.

“We must guard against new forms of protectionism masquerading as tax harmonisation,” the spokeswoman said. “We should avoid converging on high taxes globally as this would only hurt growth and jobs.”

Looks like the owl that visited PM was a harbinger of bad news for PM.

Seriously, the “usual suspects” could reasonably argue, if they tot about it, that the “chickens are coming to roost”.and that while moralising on adultery, the PAP govt helps the ang mohs spy on our neighbours, while helping ang moh and other Asian cos avoid tax. And PritamS wants the WP to be in coalition with the PAP?

*Remember that Indonesia suspended military co-operation with Australia, after allegations emerged of Australian spies bugging the phones of the president and his inner circle.

**Access to this major international telecommunications channel***, facilitated by Singapore’s government-owned operator SingTel, has been a key element in an expansion of Australian-Singaporean intelligence and defence ties over the past 15 years.Read more:

***SEA-ME-WE-3 cable as well as the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable that runs from Singapore to the south of France.

Still want to buy M’sian properties?

In India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Uncategorized on 23/11/2013 at 6:00 am

(Asean round-up)

KL property owners, an estimated 10-16 per cent of whom are foreigners, are facing sharply higher assessment payments of up to 300 per cent following the latest move by City Hall (DBKL) to boost its coffers.

But otherwise M’sia’s looking pretty gd

— ECONOMISTS have turned more bullish on the Malaysian economy as a result of its unexpectedly strong showing in the third quarter.

They have upgraded their forecasts, and one has even dismissed the second quarter’s sharply reduced current account surplus on the balance of payments as an “abnormal”, one-off glitch.

Malaysia’s growth accelerated to 5 per cent in the third quarter, above the street’s 4.7 per cent, and sharply higher than the 4.4 per cent posted in the second quarter. The expansion was largely driven by domestic demand and a turnaround in exports.

The figures suggest that, despite criticism from rating agencies such as Fitch and an uncertain global economy, the Malaysian economy remains resilient, and continues to maintain steady economic growth.

— THE ringgit is undervalued as it has underperformed its peers since Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Budget almost a month ago, a British bank said.

In a report yesterday, Barclays Bank said the currency’s underperformance stemmed from doubts over the country’s “fiscal credibility”. But it said any such doubt should now be “diminished” after international rating agency Moody’s raised Malaysia’s sovereign outlook to “positive” from “stable” in a report released on Wednesday.

The news should boost Mr Najib’s credibility as a finance minister; he has been flayed by critics who have accused him of going on a profligate spending spree to boost the Barisan Nasional coalition’s popularity. In the run-up to the May 5 general election, government debt had ballooned to more than 54 per cent of GDP, just a whisker away from the legally mandated debt ceiling. Although the BN won, it did so with a weaker mandate.

In July, global rating agency Fitch had affirmed Malaysia’s investment-grade sovereign rating but cut its outlook to “negative” from “stable”. That raised the level and intensity of the criticism against Mr Najib.

(Excerpts from BT)

But M’sia (like Thailand) is doing less than Indonesia to prepare for tapering: Indonesia has raised short-term interest rates and India has attracted deposits from its large diaspora. Both are now accumulating foreign-exchange reserves to help prepare them for the eventual end of quantitative easing. So are South Korea and Taiwan.

Malaysia and Thailand are not taking the same precautions. Neither country has managed to recoup the reserves it lost in August. That’s a worry, considering foreigners own 28 percent of Malaysia’s sovereign bond market. Pending the implementation of a goods and services tax from 2015, the country’s public finances remain shaky. At the peak of the summer turmoil, the cost of insuring against default on Malaysian government bonds was slightly higher than for Philippines debt, which carries a lower credit rating. The gap has widened since.

Finally, debt is soaring. In Thailand, bank loans to individuals have jumped 20 percent in the first nine months of the year, higher than last year’s 18 percent growth. Meanwhile, the Thai economy has lost momentum, the politics has become unstable, and the current account has tipped into a deficit. Instead of easing, Asia’s fear of the Fed is spreading wider.

More nails in Iskandar’s coffin

In Malaysia on 21/11/2013 at 4:38 am

JOHOR is planning to impose a 2 per cent levy on foreign buyers across all segments of the property market and the secondary market in the southern Malaysian state from May.

The rate is lower than the 4 per cent to 5 per cent mooted earlier, but will still amount to more than twice the current RM10,000 (S$3,895) fee foreigners pay to buy properties in the state. Since foreigners are required to purchase units valued at RM1 million and above, the RM10,000 fee was at most a one per cent levy.

The levy comes on top of the Malaysian government’s recent measures to cool the property market. (BT on 13th November)

Crime in Johor, and the authorities’ denial attitude:

And it has been reported that Johor is considering changing its weekend from Saturday and Sunday to Friday and Saturday. Not exactly S’porean and investor friendly is it?

What Iskandar repeated shows is that there is a reason for the huge price gap between properties in Johor and S’pore. The issue for buyers is whether the lower prices there compensate for the risks they are assuming.

Related post:

Indon origins of our Batman Suparman

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 16/11/2013 at 4:59 am

(Asean round-up)

Batman bin Suparman’s family appear to be originally from the Indonesia island of Java – where the name Suparman is very common, explains Ben Zimmer, a language columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who has worked in Indonesia and who has written about Suparman.

“Su” has Sanskrit origins and is a common prefix in Indonesia, featuring in a whole rung of Indonesian presidents’ names – including the current one Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “Bin” means “son of” in Arabic, making it very likely that Batman’s father was also called Suparman.

The Batman part is a bit harder to explain, however says Zimmer, as it’s not a traditional name in the region. The most likely explanation is that his parents chose it as a joke – Batman the superhero is popular there, and Indonesians are often playful in the names they choose, says Zimmer. “I see the name as this interesting juxtaposition of local naming with Western pop culture.”

Illegal logging and mismanagement of Indonesia‘s forestry industry may have prevented more than US$7 billion flowing to state coffers from 2007 to 2011, costing the government more than its health budget, Human Rights Watch said.

In contrast, the Indonesian government’s 2011 revenue from timber royalties and reforestation fees was US$300 million, said Emily Harwell, the lead author of a report released by Human Rights Watch.

“This is a very conservative estimate,” Dr Harwell, a partner at Natural Capital Advisors LLC, said at a briefing in Jakarta on Nov 8 of lost revenue. “The calculation doesn’t include any wood that’s smuggled.”

The report indicates that weak governance is chipping away at revenues in the world’s fourth-most populous nation, as budget and current-account deficits this year hurt the rupiah. BT report.

Malaysia has the highest English language proficiency level in the entire Asian region, according to a latest research by Swiss-based international education company EF Education First (EF).

The nation also climbed two notches higher to 11th place from 13th position last year in the EF English Proficiency Index which saw over 60 countries being surveyed.

The results revealed that Malaysia, which was placed in the ‘High Proficiency’ category, had overtaken Singapore who fell behind to 12th position in the world ranking. Malaysia scored 58.99 points in the survey while neighbouring Singapore received a 58.92 score.

Money for Vietnamese start-ups and buy-outs

— Ministry of Science and Tech in Vietnam pours $110 million into startups

— Franklin Templeton Investments (BEN)’ venture in Vietnam said the time is right for buyout firms to invest in the country as it expects monetary and fiscal reforms to take effect over the next three to five years.

Low valuations, constrained bank lending and an improved corporate landscape mean private-equity investors have an opportunity to buy companies in the Southeast Asian country before the economy picks up again, said Avinash Satwalekar, chief executive officer of Vietcombank Fund Management, Templeton’s venture with Joint-Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam.

“The best time to make investments is when the water is murky,” Satwalekar, 39, said in an interview in Singapore yesterday. “When its gets clear, that’s when everybody can make investments.”

Philippine Finance Minister Cesar Purisma has told the BBC that the devastation caused by the Typhoon Haiyan Mr Purisma says that the worst affected region accounts for 12.5% of the Philippines economy and a steep slowdown there could slow the overall economy by one percentage point next year. IMF has earlier this yr said GDP growth would be 6% next yr.

Mr Purisma also said it would take “many years” to rebuild the infrastructure damaged by the storm.

Iskandar & related BT story suck

In Malaysia, Property on 10/11/2013 at 6:20 am

Trumpets pls for this recent post on Iskandar.

M’sians Double confirm now that S’poreans kanna screwed by the M’sian govt Budget measures and Johor’s proposed

Malaysia’s Iskandar Waterfront delays IPO on gov’t property steps -sources

* Postpones listing to Q4 2014, a year later than initially planned

* Concerned measures to rein in property prices will slow demand

* Not immediately clear if delay will impact Johor metropolis development

This story came out juz after a BT article on 4 November 2013, a few hours before the above appeared:

Jubilee: An interesting Iskandar play

THE property rush across the Causeway in the past couple of years has seen prices in Iskandar Malaysia double or even triple. Despite talk of a bubble, investors unwilling to jump onto the buyers’ bandwagon can still take bets on property developers themselves.

Jubilee Industries Holdings – formerly loss-making plastic injection mould producer JLJ Holdings – appears poised to be the latest intriguing Iskandar play on Singapore Exchange.

A proposed reverse takeover (RTO) announced in mid-October will see Singaporean businessman Dennis Ng inject Tenderside Ventures, a subsidiary of his Malaysian property development company Jewelstone Properties, into Catalyst-quoted Jubilee.

The deal gives a well-connected and established family a foothold in a listed entity in Singapore.

Mr Ng is executive director of United Malayan Land (UMLand), of which his father, Ng Eng Tee, is deputy chairman and also executive director.

S’pore, Asia, West hsehold debt levels compared

In Energy, Indonesia, Malaysia on 09/11/2013 at 7:00 am

Asean round-up

S’pore (at 61% of debt to GDP) is third in Asean, M’sia tops the list (81%), followed by Thailand (68%) , according to a World Bank report. (

A recent World Bank study identified Malaysia and Thailand as having the largest household debts, as a share of GDP, among eastern Asia’s developing economies. In Malaysia, where household debt now exceeds 80% of GDP, the government has been seeking to curb credit growth. Thailand’s government boosted access to credit following the country’s big floods in 2011. The recent slowing of growth in many Asian economies raises concerns about the sustainability of all this personal debt.

Note two weeks ago, I reported Currently, M’sia‘s household debt stood at about 83% of gross domestic product. Household debt in S’pore now accounts for 75% of gross domestic product, having doubled in the last 13 years. According to Standard Chartered, a private bank, household borrowing as a share of national income now stands at 68% of Thailand’s GDP, much higher than in bigger Asian countries, such as China (20%), India (18%) and Indonesia (17%).

(Related post:

In other Asean news

Indonesia‘s economy expanded at its weakest rate in four years in the third quarter as a result of slowing exports and subdued domestic demand.

Its economy grew 5.6% in the July-to-September period from a year earlier, down from 5.8% in the previous quarter.

Indonesia’s exports have been hurt by slowing demand from key markets and a drop in commodity prices.

Meanwhile, domestic demand has been impacted by rising fuel prices and rising interest rates.

Fuel prices in the country surged earlier this year after the government removed its subsidy programme.

Petrol prices went up by 44% while diesel prices rose by 22%, leading to higher transportation costs and electricity bills.

And as usual Indonesia is repenting the nationalistic policies it always implements when the economy is doing well. It is again, as usual, lifting restriction on foreign investments, to attract foreign capital.

Thais are in the streets, protesting a controversial amnesty bill.

And an energy boom in the region.

Retail punters suffer ’cause SGX, MAS dysfunctional?

In Corporate governance, Malaysia on 29/10/2013 at 4:53 am

I waz surprised at the swiftness that SGX allowed Asiasons Capital, Blumont Group and LionGold Corp to resume normal trading, as I had expected a prolonged period under “designated trading”, allowing me time to think about and investigate Asiasons. (My initial tots on Asiasons).

My immediate reaction waz, “Shld have had the balls to buy at 12ish cents*” with cash upfront. My next reaction was “How come SGX come to conclusion everything halal so fast?”. My third tot was, “Wonder if SGX and punters are going to repent?”.

A few days after stocks cheonged following the lifting of trading restrictions, SGX and MAS announced investigations. On 26 October 2013, BT reported JUST as shares of Asiasons Capital, Blumont Group and LionGold Corp shares appeared to be clambering out of their doldrums, news of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) investigation into their trading activities dragged them down again.

“MAS and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) are conducting an extensive review of the activities around these stocks,” MAS said in a statement yesterday. “This episode has also surfaced broader issues regarding the market structure and practices which MAS and SGX intend to review thoroughly.”

All three stocks slid to their lowest level in a week as skittish investors took profit. Asiasons shares fell 18 per cent to 19 cents, Blumont stock dropped 19 per cent to 16 cents and LionGold shed 15 per cent to 25 cents by the close of trading yesterday. The three counters were among the five biggest percentage decliners on the SGX.

Why couldn’t the plans to investigate and the lifting of trading restrictions be announced at the same time? If necessary, the latter could have been delayed a few days, while SGX and MAS deliberated? No wonder MAS MD got only a B rating compared to his M’sian and Pinoy counterparts (A) Shamefully that S’porean is graded lower than Pinoy or M’sian.

And do remember that FTs hold the top two posts at SGX.

Anyway, I’m not complaining. Gives me time to think about and investigate Asiasons. But lifting the trading restrictions (implying everything halal) and, a few days later, saying that there were going to be investigations,  ain’t fair to punters.

SGX has publicly said it wants retail investors in the market. Great way to treat them. But then there were S-Chips. I remember the boast by one Larence Wong of SGX (now departed), in the early noughties, that only chinese companies with accounts certified by int’l auditors were to be listed. They were, but looked what happened? The perils of ang moh tua kee.

Related post:

*Closed at 0.147 yesterday.

S’poreans fleeced in Johor yet again

In Malaysia on 27/10/2013 at 5:24 am

When will S’poreans realise that property is cheap in Johor for a gd reason? The rules are suka suka changed after S’poreans bot into the latest BS. But first some predictions:

— The infrastructure promised for Iskandar will remain that: a promise. Ask the S’porean investors who bot into the BS over the promised east coast developments near Pasir Gudang. They are still waiting, after 20 myrs.  Meanwhile the BS caravan moved on to Iskandar.At first, S’poreans were sceptical, but finally succumbed to the BS, after the Arabs refused to buy into Iskandar’s tales of wealth.,

— Now the caravan will move further north, along the corridor for the high-speed train.

S’poreans get fleeced, and suffer in silence, the caravan moves on. ” If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep,” the bandit chief in the Magnificent Seven.

Malaysia’s Budget 2014 means more expensive homes for foreigners with higher taxes and a doubling of the minimum price of properties to RM1 million (S$391,000).

The most severe measure is a 30% real property gains tax (RPGT) that will be levied on gains on property disposed within three years, Disposals within four and five years are to be taxed at 20 and 15%, respectively. And at 5% in the sixth and subsequent years for non-citizens. These taxes are, it seems, higher than anticipated. Currently, the RPGT rate for property disposals within two years is 15%, while the level for disposals between two to five years is 10%. Note that Medini in the Iskandar special economic zone is now more attractive to investors as it is exempt from taxes.So if got property there, can relax until further notice: this is M’sia. In M’sia foreigners get shafted. In S’pore. locals get screwed.

Add to this the tax that the state of Johor plans to levy*, and S’poreans who bot properties in Iskandar hoping to make $ will not be too happy.  Future buyers will be deterred too.

Would like to draw attention that most of Iskandar is in a DAP-controlled constituency. DAP’s heloo is one LKY.

Now these measures mean UMNO-dominated govts at the Federal and Johor will make sure voters and S’poreans repent. Hehehe.

TRE once wrote: Some issues are beginning to surface as highlighted in a recent Business Times article which said that investors are not getting assurances in black and white on issues like land zoning, mortgage loan quantums and Bumiputra employment quotas, among others.

Foreigners investing in Iskandar might do better if they can understand that most policies in Malaysia are instituted by politicians of the day. When the politician leaves, a new policy replacing the old one is to be expected. When doing business in Johor, one has to factor in such risks.

Remember that Putrajaya, the state administrative capital of Malaysia, is still struggling after more than 20 years in the making. When Iskandar was mooted in 2006, authorities were confident about getting funds from Middle Eastern investors. Obviously, that plan didn’t work out and the focus is now back to Singaporean investors.

Interesting to see the u/m projects reported by BT yesterday go ahead:

[U]nits of three local firms – Tat Hong Holdings, Boustead Singapore and CSC Holdings – have set up a joint venture with AME Group to develop land in Iskandar Malaysia.

Boustead will own 35 per cent of the joint-venture firm, named Tat Hong Industrial Properties Sdn Bhd (THIP), through its unit BP Lands, for a paid-up capital of RM3.5 million (S$1.4 million).

The Johor-based AME Group, which has a division that specialises in real estate development, will also own 35 per cent. It will do so through its unit AME Land Sdn Bhd for the same amount in paid-up capital.

Related posts:

* There are plans to impose a tax of 4 to 5% on foreigners who buy property in the state Today reporter earlier this month,  Johor’s State Housing and Local Government Committee Chairman Abdul Latiff Bandi said yesterday that the new tax would likely be implemented by the year-end or early next year, in a bid to control property prices and foreign ownership, the New Straits Times reported. The levy would apply to both commercial and residential properties. Under the current policy, foreigners fork out a one-off payment of RM10,000 (S$3,910), regardless of the value of the property. The state government will also look into barring Malaysians who purchased property from selling their units to foreigners.


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