Posts Tagged ‘PR’

Why access to the truth has not set S’poreans free

In Internet on 20/09/2016 at 5:12 am

Knowledge is supposed to be power in one-party states and the internet gives people access to knowledge. But the internet has not done much to change S’poreans’ views of the PAP and its manifold, snarky machinations.

It was thought that the PAP administration’s control of the mainstream media was an important element in preventing S’poreans from understanding the reality of PAP rule here. The constructive, nation-building media helped shape the perception of reality by, among other things, filtering out inconvenient facts and framing the issues in a way that put the best spin on PAP policies.

Why PAP keeps a tight grip on the MSM

only suggestive, the study is cause for concern. The media can set the agenda, but also distort it. There is some countervailing evidence, that relative rankings of corruption do have some validity: diplomats from countries where corruption is seen as more pervasive are less likely to pay parking fines, for example. But if perceptions are heavily influenced by the media buzz, then levels of corruption might be exaggerated. In other words, measures of corruption could themselves be corrupted.

Also read this article about how media owners in Eastern Europe’s use the media they own to manipulate public opinion and to help friendly politicians and u can understand why the PAP controls the MSM the way it does here.…/21707125-politics-central-and-ea…


So those opposed to the PAP’s hegemony (self included) had thought that the internet (in particular social media and new or alternative media) would make it easier for S’poreans to be aware of or learn of or ferret out inconvenient facts, learn the truth, and draw the “right” conclusions.

It’s now easier to be aware of or learn of or ferret out inconvenient facts, and learn the truth, but sadly many S’poreans still  are incapable of or resist drawing  the “right” conclusions.

Partly this is the fault of alternative media outlets like The Idiots — S’pore (Or TISG as it prefers to be known which at times seems to be trying to imitate fake news websites ), the antics of the anti-PAP cynernut rats, and pro -PAP outlets like Mothership and FATPAP. Their disinformation and loudhailing services for the PAP causes problems when trying to establish the facts or the truth. (In fact TISG is proud that it is a “useful loudhailer” for the govt and its agencies.)

But a lot has to do with human nature (emphasis mine):

[H]umans do not naturally seek truth. In fact, as plenty of research shows, they tend to avoid it. People instinctively accept information to which they are exposed and must work actively to resist believing falsehoods; they tend to think that familiar information is true; and they cherry-pick data to support their existing views. At the root of all these biases seems to be what Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel-prizewinning psychologist and author of a bestselling book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, calls “cognitive ease”: humans have a tendency to steer clear of facts that would force their brains to work harder.

In some cases confronting people with correcting facts even strengthens their beliefs, a phenomenon Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler, now of Dartmouth College and the University of Exeter, respectively, call the “backfire effect”. In a study in 2010 they randomly presented participants either with newspaper articles which supported widespread misconceptions about certain issues, such as the “fact” that America had found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or articles including a correction. Subjects in both groups were then asked how strongly they agreed with the misperception that Saddam Hussein had such weapons immediately before the war, but was able to hide or destroy them before American forces arrived.

As might be expected, liberals who had seen the correction were more likely to disagree than liberals who had not seen the correction. But conservatives who had seen the correction were even more convinced that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Further studies are needed, Mr Nyhan and Mr Reifler say, to see whether conservatives are indeed more prone to the backfire effect.|image3

The good news is that so long as there are sites like TOC (Its 10th anniversary fell in August this year), TMG and SgDaily (I got posting rights on its FB page); bloggers and commenters like Alex Au, Chris K, Wandering Vagabond, P Ravi, Uncle Leong, Donald Low and Yeoh Lum Keong; and cyber Jedis like Terry Xu and Andrew of TRE, inconvenient facts and inconvenient truths cannot be kept out of the public domain.

So I’m optimistic. Slowly but surely more S’poreans will draw the “right” conclusions after learning the “right” facts. And with a bit of luck by 2033 or 2055, at the latest, Harry will only be a bad dream.

But as S’poreans are exposed to more info, we (including the PAP) face a problem in this brave new world

Given such biases, it is somewhat surprising that people can ever agree on facts, particularly in politics. But many societies have developed institutions which allow some level of consensus over what is true: schools, science, the legal system, the media. This truth-producing infrastructure, though, is never close to perfect: it can establish as truth things for which there is little or no evidence; it is constantly prey to abuse by those to whom it grants privileges; and, crucially, it is slow to build but may be quick to break.|image3

Remember that given the dominance of the PAP, we don’t have the institutions which allow some level of consensus, absent the hegemony of the PAP. It’s going to be an anarchic jungle when S’poreans break the mind fetters.

But not to worry, the ang mohs who S’poreans (including the PAP) use to validate their actions will still be pontificating and BSing, and sometimes getting the facts and truth right. And S’poreans will listen to them, as they always have. Ang mohs will take the place of local institutions in the building of consensus of what are the facts and the truth.

Still better than consensus based on the PAP’s hegemony. At least liberal, socialistic and conservative ang mohs hold different views.

Why the PAP fears Dr Tan Cheng Bock

In Political governance on 11/09/2016 at 1:12 pm

The guy is shrewd, classy with a great sense of PR: see below.

Ada standard as a natural aristocrat and as a president.

With him as an elected president, the PAP administration will have to take account of his views, no matter what the legal position is on the powers of the president. He’ll signal his unhappiness or displeasure even when he has to follow the advice of the cabinet.

Well those who voted for Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian, I hope you are repenting for doing the PAP’s dirty work for them. Each of you didn’t even get yr thirty pieces of silver.

And Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian were the rewards of preventing him from becoming president worth it?

This appeared on Facebook

Message to my friends and supporters

Many Singaporeans including Netizens, have expressed their concern that the Constitutional Commission’s report has excluded me from the 2017 Presidential Election.

I have been kept busy assuring them that the Constitutional Commission Report will be tabled in Parliament in the form of a White Paper on 15th Sept.

Parliament will debate it, make amendments, support it, or even reject it.

We should not jump into conclusion that the whole exercise was to prevent me from running.
After all, the people in charge are men of virtue and integrity and would not resort to doing this.

Let us wait for the coming debate before jumping into conclusion. 


Big banks strike back

In Banks on 10/08/2016 at 1:57 pm

Just when u think they have been defeated

Big Banks Make a Pitch for Hearts and Minds

Citigroup’s ad campaign for the Olympics showcases the benefits of large global banks, and other big banks are trying to soften their image.

NYT Dealbook

Uber: Lost Chiina war, spinning its way to victory

In China on 03/08/2016 at 3:42 pm

The battle for ride-sharing in China is over. Didi Chuxing plans to buy Uber China. After spending tens of millions of dollars every month fighting for market share, the two companies will combine into a new one worth about $35 billion.

“I’ve learned that being successful is about listening to your head as well as following your heart,” Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive blogged, adding “Uber and Didi Chuxing are investing billions of dollars in China and both have yet to turn a profit there.”

Bloomberg, said that Uber had lost more than $2 billion in China.

Investors in Uber China will receive a 20% stake in the new company and Didi will make a US$1 billion investment in Uber Global.

After the deal Uber passengers were going on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, to complain that the cost of regular routes previously taken had risen steeply. One said it had doubled as Uber discontinued its subsidies. FT had earlier this week reported that Didi had in the last month quietly raised fares.

The Uber victory spin is as follows:

[O]ne of Uber’s biggest investors and strategic advisers, Bradley Tusk, the chief executive of Tusk Ventures ,,,


Mr Tusk insists though that Uber got the best out of a bad situation. The American ride-hailing app was losing a billion dollars a year in China, and this new deal sees Uber owning a 20% stake in the merged company.

“Uber invested $2bn in China, and ended up with a $7bn stake in Didi,” says Mr Tusk. “That’s not a bad deal if you look at it like that.”


But is the valuation of Didi real? @0% of zero is zero.

But Americans are the master of BS.

Silence of SMRT, LTA & MoT explained

In Internet on 11/07/2016 at 7:40 am

In my own opinion, they should have disclosed it. Everyone has their reasons, but in the end there’s always consequences. Daniel Yap of TMG in a FB post when introducing this piece he wrote

Piece is worth a read, explaining why it would have been better for the authorities to have disclosed the cracks and the remedial action: they would then have controlled the news agenda.

But this analysis and other criticisms of the silence miss the point.

PAPpies brains work differentlyL when the public doesn’t know a fact, that fact never exists.

In 2011, I analysed a senior PAPpy’s and his team’s  unhappiness with a TOC report.

I wrote, they must believe in an 18th century philosophical theory that is now treated as a forerunner of the concept of “subjective idealism”. One Bishop Berkeley argued that there are no material objects, only minds and ideas in those minds. He summarised his theory with the motto “esse est percipi” (“To be is to be perceived”). In modern PR-speak, this translates into,“Perception is reality”, one of the major tenets of the PR and public communication industry.

This theory of “Perception is reality” is best summarised in the following example he gave. If a tree in a forest falls, but no-one sees or hears it fall, has it fallen? Berkeley argues that it has not fallen. It is still standing.

An example in the S’pore context would be that S’poreans were not aware of how close the voting would be on polling day in 1988 in Eunos GRC and in Cheng San GRC in 1991. The mainstream media did not report the sentiment on the ground in these two GRCs, so S’poreans were not aware that many S’poreans were unhappy with the PAP. The unhappiness did not exist because it was not reported.

Coming back to Traingate. SMRT, the LTA and MoT kept quiet because they like Bishop Berkeley believe that “Perception is reality”. So long as the public did not know that there were cracks in the 26 China-made trains, and that the trains had been returned for repairs, there were no train cracks. There were no cracked trains because If a tree in a forest falls, but no-one sees or hears it fall, has it fallen? Berkeley argues that it has not fallen. It is still standing.

What they still don’t realise that in this age of social media and the internet where many people walk around with smartphone cameras, If a tree in a forest falls, someone will see it or hear it fall. And tell others about the falling tree, after taking a selfie beside the fallen tree.

This being the case, disclosure of problems or cock-ups, not cover-ups or silence should be the best (and default) policy for the authorities and corporations They should assume that news of the cock-up or problem will become public knowledge and that by disclosing, the news agenda can, hopefully, be controlled..

But in one-party states, silence or cover-up are the default options, not disclosure. And this is the weakness of one-party states where people carry smartphone cameras. The one-party state will, in time, be undermined.

Ban smartphone cameras PAP? After all internet access for public servants will soon be restricted in this wired, connected nation.



PAPpies keep trying trick that’s obsolescent

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

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

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

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

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

My FB avatar posted

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

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

(Emphasis mine)

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

Remember the story that we we had PRC parachute riggers?

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

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

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

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

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

Answer : Almost certainly.

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

Answer : SAF doesn’t say. Who knows.

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

Answer : SAF didn’t say.


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

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

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

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

My FB avatar chirped:

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

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



Headmaster that blur meh?

In Media, Public Administration on 11/01/2016 at 12:00 pm

Maybe it’s a surprise that we don’t have more PTSD victims like Amos Yee given the logic of this ex-headmaster.

The ex-principal (going for further studies, not kanna fired) of Shuqun Secondary recently responded* to

In September of last year, this video of a bullying incident in Shuqun Secondary School surfaced and soon went viral.

In summarry, he blamed new media (and the constructive, nation-building media: the PAPpy friendly ST etc reported the Middle Ground’s story) for blowing up the bullying incident and not telling the truth. The reporting was “deliberate and irresponsible”: this included supposedly “balanced” online and mainstream media who felt right to reproduce the articles choosing to feature sensationalised headlines that gave a wrong impression of the facts.

The problem (i.e. flaw) with his analysis is simple. Until he gave his side of the story, three months after the event, there was only silence from him and the MoE. So how could there be “balance” or “truth” (whatever this is)? Now he and the MOE may have reasonable and legtimate reasons for silence if the decision to keep quiet wasn’t simply an honest mistake**.

Whatever, how can he now blame media (new and constructive, nation-building) of irresponsible behaviour when he was unwilling or unable to say anything at the time the video went viral?  If anyone was “deliberate and irresponsible” (I assume he really meant “deliberately irresponsible”) , it was the silence of theprincipal and perhaps MOE**.

Having been freed from the constraints of his job**, he could (and should) have simply told his side of the story without name-calling or labelling: just give the facts as he saw them. But no, he had to indulge in name-calling and labelling like Amos Yee. And he’s an educated man who held a position of trust and responsibility, not a spoiled kid, whose mother thinks he’s “fantastic”.

As he’s going for further studies, one can only hope that the course includes handling the media in an age of 24/7 news coverage. new media and social media. Pigs will fly first.

Seriously MoE must remind officers not to talk cock because talking cock reflects badly on the eduction service. It must also update its manual on the handling media queries. viral videos etc in an age of 24/7 news coverage. new media and social media. Silence is no longer the default option.

Finally, I can’t stop laughing at this comment by Bertna Henson the editor of TMG NOW he talks….three months later. After a deafening silence, a deadening rant. As always, shoot the messenger, after declining to talk to them. And messengers must always deliver “good news” to be considered “responsible””.

Really people who once lived in glass houses should refrain from throwing stones. She was once a general (paper stormtropper) on the Death Star that is ST. ST was during her time (and still is) very good at shooting nessengers of news that the PAP administration rather not hear.


*Text of FB message


Dear friends,

I was the principal of ‪#‎shuqunsecondary‬ from 2012 to 2015.

From 1 Jan 2016, I will be leaving the education service. I am hoping to pursue further studies. Yes, I am doing well. smile emoticon And no, before you ask, I made this decision some time before the “bullying incident” in my school. MOE and the public service is more reasonable and far kinder than most give them credit for.

To assure those of you who are still curious about the follow up to the incident, I thought I would share a picture of the 3 boys involved. The circle time in the picture was taken on the FIRST DAY after all of them returned to school. The “bully” apologised in person and in writing to both victims and to the class. Both victims forgave him and they were friends again within 2 hours. Consequences were meted out to the boy according to our school rules in private and ALL THE PARENTS INVOLVED were satisfied with the actions of the school. The boy will have to face more serious punishment under the law.

More hearteningly, in November, the 3 boys, together with their classmates, initiated and planned their own service learning project during the school’s open house. They baked brownies and made drinks for visitors to showcase the work of our student-run Hideout Cafe. They told me they wanted to make restoration for the bad reputation they had brought to the school. I am very proud of them.

Many ppl who know the truth of the events in my school have asked me why I did not respond more actively to the various reports on the Internet when the incident happened. My answer – I did not want to feed the ongoing media frenzy and help viral irresponsible articles that were being put out by my comments. Sadly, this included supposedly “balanced” online and mainstream media who felt right to reproduce the articles choosing to feature sensationalised headlines that gave a wrong impression of the facts.

Make no mistake – these were deliberate and irresponsible decisions made by the media. For example, an online news website that purports to be a place for “moderate speech and agreeable disagreement” posted an article headlined “the school was aware of the bullying 5 months before the incident”. A close reading of the report itself would have revealed that a single complaint was made to the school and the teacher involved had done the correct thing by warning the aggressor. She was not aware that the bullying resumed a few days later.

The same website chose not to emphasise comments by the mum herself that she appreciated the work that the school had done with her child and the improvements that she had seen in the child over the last 3 years. They ellided over the fact that A FULL WEEKEND separated the incident from the time it was posted on the Internet, during which neither victim mentioned anything to the school nor their parents. The media chose not to mention that both VICTIMS had written to me that they felt sorry for their friend and hoped to see everyone move on. They did not clarify that the online video was NOT posted by any of my school’s students (because we teach them that the correct thing to do if they care for their friends is to raise it to the teachers) but a school leaver from another school who posted it on a gaming site at 9am on a school day. There was no mention that one of the victim’s mum had gone down to the police station ON HER OWN 2 weeks later to withdraw the police report because she felt satisfied with the school’s handling of the incident and that it was a mistake to have gone to the police in the first place.

At the same time, some of the online reports seem to suggest that after one or two meetings with one of the victims in question, the journalist somehow understood and COULD SPEAK FOR the boy’s psychological state, better than the school. By reducing the children to spokespeople for “the broader problem of bullying in schools”, the reports cared nothing for them as people. They mention nothing about how one of the boys dreams of being a top chef, another speaks to his mum in sign language, the last has improved significantly in his reading despite suffering from dyslexia, and all three find EBS difficult. And all this which I know as a Principal is nothing compared to what my teachers know of them, working daily for 9+ hours each day with the boys over the last 3 years and sharing with them the heartache and struggles of their growth.

It is not difficult to see how these biased reports might have fed some of the extreme online vitriol. These included many threats by netizens such as “if i see the boy, I will bash his skull in”, “let me give him a taste of his own medicine.” Instead of trusting the school and the police to investigate and take the right actions, many suggested taking things into their own hands. There were false accusations of gang connections and that the boy was a compulsive bully. Unhappily, there were also derisory comments about the school by people who did not know the first thing about Shuqun Secondary. This was unfair to the 1200 other students, their parents, the committed staff, and the alumni and stakeholders of the school.

As a teachable moment following the incident, my teachers conducted a bully-free lesson with all the students. This is material which we repeat every year as part of our bully-free week where we teach our students about the different forms of bullying including physical, verbal and psycho-social. In her reflection, one of my students mentioned the way that adults were behaving online, that was causing my students being afraid to go out in public in their uniforms after school and to participate in social media. She ended her reflection by asking ” how is this not bullying?” I had no answer for her.

(The same media website compared this case with another case of bullying in a prestigious all-girls’ school that was recently resolved in court and suggested that there was a difference between physical and verbal/psychosocial bullying. We teach our students that these are all forms of bullying that cause suffering in others, and that it does not matter what was the intent behind the action but the act itself).

(An Auckland school principal gave a similar response to cyber-bullies after a similar incident happened in his school…)

In ending, my wishes for the new year are –

1) To the media friends especially (some of whom are my relatives, ex-classmates and former students), I would like to urge you to take greater care in your reporting. For each irresponsible journalist and dubious media website, I have met many more considered and enlightened ones, some of whom reported on the many achievements and good stories from my students and staff in the past. While I understand the pressure to attract more views and comments in this age of social media through increasingly sensational reporting, you too have a DUTY OF CARE to your subjects, especially children. You have the power to report the full truth and shape opinion, not just pander to the lowest denominator in the hopes of representing yourself as the mouthpiece of the public. Be mindful of the innocent parties that you might be unintentionally hurting, and the feelings of hatred you might be stoking online. In some cases, it can spill over to real cases of vigilantism, as several cases of adults taking the law into their own hands against children or teenagers have shown in 2015. Sometimes the best thing we can do for the people we care about is to stay quiet and do the deep work to support and help them learn and grow.

2) To the wider and largely well meaning public, be mindful of what u “like” or comment on the Internet. Be aware that what u see or read online often does not constitute the whole truth, and choosing even to click on links (without needing to share) can help to viral these falsehoods. Trust the institutions that we have put in place to do the right things; that is the mark of a civil society.

And if we speak about allowing our children to learn from their mistakes in education, to give the academically weaker students a chance to catch up and succeed, the same grace and patience should be extended to our students when teaching them good character. We can do better as adults to be kinder to one another in real life and on the Internet. Remember, OUR CHILDREN ARE WATCHING AND LEARNING.

3) To my fellow colleagues in Shuqun and elsewhere in the teaching fraternity, those in social services and the police who work daily with these kids – strive on! I have had the privilege of meeting many of you in my years of service. Some have given up higher paying jobs. Others, like me, have studied and taught in “top” schools but chose to work in schools like Shuqun because you want to go to the places of greatest need and believe in the potential of every child of Singapore, not just some. And we live the mission every day, and don’t just talk or write about it.

To encourage you, let me share something that another parent sent me, during those difficult days of September. He was the father of the boy that was hit by one of the victims, in another video that surfaced subsequently. This time the student who had taken the video did the right thing, and brought it to my attention before it went viral so that we could address the matter with those involved. When I met the father, he had complete trust in the school’s handling of the matter. More importantly, because of the close relationship he had with his son, he was confident that his boy would have raised the matter to him if it had affected him. 2 days later, when the video became viral, it was HE who sent me a message of encouragement through my school counsellor – “Tell Mr Chia to take care. I am very impressed by his dedication to the students.”

Thank you Mr Hong , and the many other parents and partners, for renewing our faith and for supporting our teachers as they do the hard work of believing in and helping your children.

Happy New Year.

Chia Hai Siang

P.S. Pls SHARE if you think this will encourage a teacher or a parent.

**MoE officers like all civil servants are not authorised to talk to the media unless expressly authorised.

Related post on why the PAP administration’s PR is so bad

SGH tragedy: Gan emerges from behind Ms Lee’s skirt

In Public Administration on 02/11/2015 at 4:17 am

I was wondering if Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had gone AWOL leaving his press secretary Ms Lee Bee Khim to say really bitchy things about ST and the WP when defending MoH’s actions in the Hepatitis C outbreak at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH)

Well it seems he has finally found the courage to emerge from behind Ms Lee Bee Khim’s skirt. (Or to be fair, maybe, he had a sour throat and couldn’t speak, writing down the bitchy words for Ms Lee to parrot in public) and said some sensible things that Ms Lee should have said in the first place, instead of the very bitchy things she said on his behalf*.


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

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


Mr Gan said that since the review committee’s task is to look into the processes of SGH and MOH, and identify gaps, as well as the cause of the cluster, “I think we should wait for the committee to finish its task, to finish its review, study its reports and recommend its findings very carefully, because the findings will be made public.

‘So all of us can look at the findings, and then we can decide what are the next steps. I think it is best for us to wait for the outcome of the review and the police investigations, and then we can look at the findings, and then we can decide what will be the next steps.”

Fair enough**. But this should have been said a long time ago.


**Reasonable people can agree or disagree on whether a COI should be held, skipping an internal investigation. I for one tot that waiting for the internal report was a reasonable, responsible position to take but could understand if others tot that a COT was necessary. But Ms Lee’s very aggressive, defensive, “take no prisoners” stance on behalf on her minister and MOH me wondering if there is really something that needs to be hidden from, us, the rabble.

The use of language has consequences, affecting perceptions. Ms Lee as a PR practitioner should be aware of this.

MoH: PM needs a minister who can communicate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why not?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


25 October 2015

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

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

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

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

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

25 OCTOBER 2015

WP’s Punngol East problem/ PAP’s excuse king

In Accounting, Corporate governance on 21/09/2015 at 5:08 am

Forensic audit of AHPETC accounts

As someone who wants S’pore to move from a de facto one-party state to something more pluralistic, I was glad that Aljunied remained WP territory. But I was sad that the WP had escaped a forensic audit of the AHPETC accounts. This would have happened if PAP had won.

But I forgot the Punggol East victory.

Independent auditors may be called in to verify the accounts of Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC) only if facts and figures are in dispute, said its newly-elected Member of Parliament (MP) Charles Chong.

How not to dispute? For one, Auntie and Low want a fight over Charlie Chong’s alleged statement of a $1m surplus. A lot of he said, she said, TOC said: so I’ll let it be.

More importantly, while the latest set of accounts are pretty decent, as Auntie has said

AHPETC has continued to improve its financial processes and management.

AHPETC has cleared most of the disclaimers from the previous annual audits. The remaining observations relate mainly to opening balance issues for which there are still information gaps and legacy issues. There are still areas to work on. AHPETC will continue to improve its financial management.,

there will be a need for the SMC to ensure that it is getting its fair share of the APPETC’s assets (and liabilities). Given that all the accounts of the AHPETC are qualified, it is reasonable and legitimate to ask for a forensic audit of the AHPETC accounts in order to calculate the SMC’s fair share of the assets and liabilities.

Three cheers for the swing voters in PE.

Illustration of Singapore 2015 general elections by A Good Citizen

Of course, Auntie and Low could agree to be so generous to the residents of PE (thereby short-changing Aljunied and Hougang) that Charlie would keep quiet.

Zorro Lim: excuse king?

When I read this some time back, I couldn’t help laughing at Zorro’s excuse and wondering why Auntie etc hadn’t used such a similar excuse: “We screwed up, but had good intentions.”

Arrogant meh?

Grassroots leaders involved in financial irregularities were only trying to help, said the deputy chairman of the People’s Association (PA), Lim Swee Say, in Parliament on Monday.

“We can fault (grassroots volunteers) for their non-compliance of financial procedures, but please do not doubt them in their passion and commitment in always doing their best for the community,” Mr Lim said*.


The problem is that while Zorro can get away with “I can say with confidence there is no irregularity at the system level”, the WP can’t, given the Auditor-General’s report and its own auditor’s qualifications.


*More: He said the root cause of these lapses were the “good intentions” of the grassroots leaders.

He went on to tell grandfather stories, by raising various examples of how grassroots leaders were “actually doing their best to serve the interests of the residents and meet the urgent needs of the community.”

… related how grassroots leaders had gone “all around Singapore” to look for face masks when the haze hit the island in 2013.

This was after a community hospital had appealed to the GROs for air purifiers for patients who were being housed in the hospital’s non-airconditioned wards.

When they found a “small store which had limited stock”, the grassroots leaders decided to purchase the masks without first calling for three tenders, which is what is required by the rules.

“… is this a case of non-compliance of financial procedures and rules? The answer is yes,” Mr Lim said. “Is this a case of grassroots leaders and volunteers compromising the interests of the community? The answer is certainly no.”

Backgrounder: PA, where the AGO had conducted test-checks on about 115 grassroots organisations (GROs) under the PA umbrella.Out of the GROs test-checked by the AGO, 30 per cent were found to have financial or accounting irregularities.

Formula E the new F1?/ Why can’t MSM report F1 event like this?

In Uncategorized on 22/09/2013 at 5:05 am

S’pore did the first Kiddie Games and overspent for no apparent gain.

Why not try Formula E?

There will be 10 teams and 20 drivers racing on roads – not racetracks – in 10 cities, with a preliminary line-up that includes Los Angeles, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, London, Buenos Aires and Beijing …

Jean Todt, president of the FIA, called Formula E “a vision of the future”. And this comes from a man who built his reputation in rally car racing and then as head of F1’s most famous competitor, Ferrari.

He told the BBC: “F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing, but there is plenty of space for other championships, from endurance racing to touring car, to karting – and definitely Formula E.”

He rejected claims that Formula E is simply a promotional exercise to improve motorsport’s image.

OK, we got to divert traffic etc, one more time a yr. But this is new and innovative.

BTW, I enjoyed reading about how Marina Bay is turned into a race track. Makes me proud to be a S’porean: We are the Prussians of the East.

Why can’t our constructive, nation building media report like this?

Or tell us why the race is so technically challenging for the drivers:

The Marina Bay Street Circuit is the second slowest 23-turn circuit on the calendar after Monaco, with an average speed of 172kph. Approximately 46% of the lap is taken at full throttle, compared with over 75% at Monza.

The twisting layout is hard on the brakes, while the gearboxes also take a beating, with around 80 gear changes per lap.

Drivers will complete 61 laps in the race – in 30C heat and 70% humidity – which takes a little under two hours to complete.

A change to the circuit this year is at turn 10 – dubbed the Singapore Sling. The original layout, a three-turn chicane, was seen as dangerous by drivers with Kimi Raikkonen crashing there in 2008 and Lewis Hamilton describing it as ‘the worst corner in Formula 1’.

This year, it has been turned into a single-apex left-hand bend and, without the chicane, lap times are expected to be lower.

This article told me more interesting facts about the skills needed to finish the course than all the drums coming from our MSM.

Two cheers for Azmoon Ahmad for publicising 1 May rally

In Humour on 30/04/2013 at 6:47 am

The chairman of AMP deserves the thanks of Gilbert Goh and friends, and all those who call for “Think S’porean First” for the publicity for the rally. By asking Nizam Ismail to “disassociate himself from the AMP” if he was planning to speak at the rally, according to this TRE report, he (Azmoon) ended up helping publicising the 1 May rally more widely.

When the local media reported him as “emotional and close to tears”, maybe he was feeling low because he knew he wasn’t long for the cushy job of AMP chairman. Surely the Sith Lord is upset that an Imperial Storm Trooper (Non Combat) saboed the Dark Side’s attempts to keep news out of the rally out of the pages of our constructive, nation-building media? And of having to explain why PAP MPs are more equal than others when it comes on serving on non- political organisations. And that the govt still practices the Hard Truth of withholding funding of those who fall out of line. [This last sentence added after first publication at 7pm]

As to Azmoon’s comments about “attacks”, err waz wrong with Nizam telling S’poreans why he resigned? In fact, if the local media carried the official spin of why he resigned before he went public (I’m not too sure which came first because the dates of the various articles have confused me), then he is more than justified to explain his position. Juz countering the spin.

Nizam is walking his talk of being transparent and open.

“Thanks Jos for giving Bishan East residents another reason not to support the PAP”

In Humour on 15/04/2013 at 5:05 am

So we have been told by the vice chairman of the Bishan East Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC), Roland Ang, who wrote to Stomp to explain that it was the coffeeshop owner who reserved the tables for Jos Teo and retnue, and “not any grassroots leaders”.

So the guys wearing red polo shirts shooing away patrons were PRC FT coffee shop employees? Or were they grassroots leaders moonlighting as coffee shop assistants? Or did the owner authorise them to chase patrons away, now that he is short of FT PRC labour because of govt policy? TRE alleges that he is a PAP member, so the grassroots leaders were helping a kaki lang.

Seriously, if the tables were reserved, how come customers were sitting there? And how come grassroots leaders were clearing the tables of patrons? Where were the coffeeshop assistants? Remember Roland Ang has not denied that grassroots leaders cleared customers from the tables.

Roland Ang should have gotten get the coffee shop owner to explain what happened. The silence of the coffee shop owner is deafening, especially as if alleged he is a PAP member.

Remember Watergate? The attempt to cover-up the truth was what did Nixon in, not the break-in.

Never mind, all the more reason for residents to vote against the PAP come the next GE say the anti-PAP activists. “Thanks Jos, Roland and other PAP activists for making it easier for residents not to support the PAP. Keep on being tua kee. Great way to connect with residents.”

Background info:

Related post:

White Paper fiasco: Who goofed?

In Economy, Media, Political economy, Political governance on 03/02/2013 at 6:39 am

So we now know that the 6.9m figure in the White Paper is a “worse-case scenario”

— “Reiterating that the 6.9 million figure should be viewed as “the worst-case scenario”****, Mr Khaw wrote: “We hope we do not reach that figure; we may never reach that figure.”

–” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said … he fully agrees with Mr Khaw’s explanation that a 6.9 million population is not a target, but just a worst-case, aggressive scenario the Government must prepare for.”

(Excerpts from MediaCorp)

So why didn’t the media tell us this when the media reported the White Paper? The media reported the figure of 6.9m as though it was set in reinforced concrete that had platinum bars rather than steel bars. Surely when the staff of the s/o the disgraced president, and Yaacob*gave the local media their instructions local journalists and editors the customary briefing, they made it clear that the 6.9m figure is a “worse-case scenario”? And that the figure was used to ensure that there would be adequate infrastructure should this happen, which the government didn’t want to happen. And that if it didn’t happen, S’poreans would have even better facilities for which they should thank the PAP on bended knees.

But these messages were never reported. They came to the attention of “the inhabitants of cowboy towns” who were happily shooting holes into the White Paper, and other S’poreans only when the PM Facebooked and Khaw blogged these messages.

Then the local media parroted reported what the PM and Khaw had said.

Either the local media are staffed by stupid people, or are full of subversives, who take their 30 pieces of silver ** while saboing the PAP government. Or maybe the going rate is a lot more than 30 pieces of silver? And they are not getting it? Hence the government’s messages didn’t get broadcasted.

Or were the minions of s/o Devan Nair, and Yaacob, incompetent, stupid spinners? Journalists and editors are claiming that they were never ordered briefed that the 6.9m figure was a “worse-case scenario”. They claim to be as surprised as us netizens that the PM and Khaw are now making this claim.

Whatever it is, if WP Low is to get his wish of continued PAP hegemony, PM should get a grip on the PAP spin machine. He and his ministers can’t do all the spinning themselves. Maybe Auntie Sylvia or Show Mao, in emulation of a Tang dynasty official, can whisper this to the PAP, “behind closed doors”. Remember WP, yr mission is to preserve PAP hegemony.

**He used the phrase “worse-case scenario” when one LKY gave his Hard Truth on Malay Muslims not integrating.

LKY gets kicked in the balls

In Financial competency, Footie, Humour on 08/11/2012 at 10:28 am

“I’ve seen their property values going up, five times, 10 times, 15 times, 20 times,” our MSM reported him as saying recently.

This is what the SDP said in response, “Yes, and what for? To feel rich? Under the SDP Plan, Singaporeans don’t just have to feel rich. They can have their NOM flats and not be indebted for the rest of their lives. They can have financial security and lead fulfilling lives.”

No comment about about SDP’s plans (this is what ST reported “experts” say): thinking about it. But it sure got great PR people team. Maybe PAP or govt should offer them jobs? MP Baey should recruit them for his firm? Can’t be good for H&R’s local and Asean practice that SDP is running rings round PAP and govt? The Dark Side can offer serious money, unlike the SDP. Unless of course, the rumours of CIA funding are not true. An SDP groupie assures me that CIA funding rumours are juz rumours. SDP as poor as Anglican church mice. Catholic church mice got serious money, what with Tony Tan (the president, not Hazel Poa’s hubbie) and George Yeo as members. Goes without saying that Methodist mice got $. Think Ng Eng Hen and wife (SingHeath CEO), and TJS’s in-laws.

Reuben Wang: stupid or cynical?

In Humour on 09/06/2012 at 11:30 am

So Reuben Wong has apologised and closed his blog. But he has not stated clearly what he apologised about. Was it for

— his use of vulgarities which showed disrespect the the office of DPM and Mr Teo personally; or

— his views on what DPM said; or

— both?

(According to this taken from CNA, it seems for both:

17-year-old Reuben Wang, lashed out at Mr Teo in a blog post on the new Pre-U seminar format.

In his post, the St Andrews Junior College student accused Mr Teo of avoiding difficult questions during the Q&A.

He removed his post subsequently, and also wrote to Mr Teo on Wednesday to apologise for being “too rash and too harsh in using the expletives”.)

Reuben said he now understands Mr Teo’s perspective “much more deeply now after consulting friends, teachers and netizens”.

This information is important because there is a lot of speculation on why be apologised, especially whether he was coerced into apologising. He should therefore state publicly why he apologised,  unless he is either stupid, or cynical.

It could be that he is juz plain stupid in not giving the ground(s) for his apology. His earlier behaviour could be indicative of stupidity. Instead of ranting at DPM Teo, he could have reported what happened, and its variance from the spin reported by the SPH group. Instead, his rant not only showed that he was ill-mannered and ill-bred, and a stupid boy. Here is an analysis of what he wrote which I cannot better.

Anyway his JC is juz as bad, so his stupidity possibly, is not all a matter of genes. What did the school counsel him to apologise for? For disrespect, or disagreeing, or both? Because there is a lot of speculation on why be apologised, especially whether he was coerced into apologising, the school should explain what it had advised him to apologise for. 

Heck what can you expect? He and the school are Saints. Not an elite school, like RI, SJI or ACS, it’s the equivalent of a neighbourhood school. It and its students juz got pretensions. Look at KennethJ, who publicly boasts that the government, on the quiet, steals his ideas.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Reuben Wong called himself a cynic. Maybe the rant and the apology is nothing but a wayang to give himself some publicity so that he can escape the limitations that are imposed on someone from a mediocre school. He got a lot of publicity and met the DPM who gave him an inscribed book. Can a boy from Raffles, ACS, NJC, Hwa Chong or VJC do as well?

If so, he deserves three cheers. He will make a good politican for the PAP or WP: for the latter especially if his ambiguity for his apology was dileberate. Not SDP though.

SMRT: What has “public’s duty” to do with the price of eggs?

In Uncategorized on 10/06/2010 at 7:33 am

Never bot SMRT shares, even though this would be a gd hedge against rising public fare hikes, whether reasonable or not. As a value investor, I use public tpt, supplemented by taxi. But then I am not a slave, tied to office hours. I can use the system at-non peak hrs.

I always tot I was irrational for not buying the shares.But I realise I’m not. It seems  I “knew” that mgt was incompetent.

No, not over the security breach and vandalism. The alleged offenders are white, educated FTs. Juz the kind of creative, innovative people that the government wants, And I don’t mind having. And the vandalism was artistic.

These people spot systems failure that they can exploit. So let’s not be too hard on them or the people or systems that get shown up.

If they were Pakistanis from Taliban-land, I would be worried: after the carnage.

No: mgt was incompetently firstly  refusing to apologise. It never did It only “regretted”. Only some fool of an ST sub-editor could say that it was an “apology”.

To make things worse for itself (exposing further its stupdity), mgt tried to lay part of the blame on the public.

It shows how bad SMRT mgt is in coping with the unexpected.

What has public apathy to do with the breach of the security at the depot? And not reporting the “vandalism”. I mean if the train passes the muster of the staff before it goes out, and the public is not inconvenienced, why should the public complain abt some “artistic” designs.

But you did lose money, didn’t you, Osim?

In Uncategorized on 07/04/2010 at 5:49 am

But you did lose money didn’t you? And share prices collapsed? A case of positive thinking carried too far. Or are the PR BEers trying too hard. A balls-up is a balls-up. Clean up the mess (which Osim did) and move on (which it doesn’t seem to want to do).

Although its acquisition of American retailer Brookstone in 2005 did not generate the results it expected, the company came out of the whole episode ‘enriched’, says OSIM founder and CEO Ron Sim.

‘I’m actually enriched and empowered with this experience,’ Mr Sim tells BT. ‘I actually won a lot of things. I would say today, nobody else has such an experience like us – a first-hand experience of a leveraged buyout, a first-hand experience of turning a financial engineering buyout into an effective company. So if you look deep, actually we are all enriched.’ (Excerpt from BT article.)

Gee what next, Mr Sim? Santa Claus or the tooth fairy will turn that loss into a financial profit? Maybe in Bizzaro Universe. Not in this.

Dubai – Harbinger of China’s problems?

In China, Economy on 08/12/2009 at 9:57 am

I think the concerns in the media about Dubai World’s “default” is the PR hype of careless creditors, trying to create hysteria to pressure the ARabs.

So I very nearly missed this very thoughtful insight in FT.

“There is a country on the other side of Asia, whose currency is also pegged to the dollar. Although its economy is expanding rapidly, short-term interest rates are below 2 per cent and the money supply has grown by 30 per cent over the past year.

‘This country is experiencing a real estate boom. Reports tell of a newly constructed ghost city with dwellings for a million people. Speculators are reportedly snapping up luxury developments, which remain unoccupied long after completion. Despite a 20 per cent vacancy rate in the capital city, new skyscrapers are being planned.

‘This country’s economy is also state-directed. Its rulers are looking for 8 per cent annual GDP growth as they seek to diversify their economy away from exports. State-owned enterprises are borrowing and investing to meet this target. Construction and infrastructure are taking an ever greater share of GDP, even though many projects are likely to prove unremunerative. A mentality of “build and they will come” prevails.

‘In short, economic conditions in China have much in common with those that prevailed until recently in Dubai. The population of China is roughly a thousand times greater than the tiny emirate’s. For this reason alone, the lessons from Dubai should be heeded.

The writer, Edward Chancellor, is a member of GMO’s asset allocation team.

Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo is a Boston-based asset management firm well known among institutional investors.

Jeremy Grantham, the founder, built much of his investing reputation by correctly identifying speculative market “bubbles”. He avoided investing in Japanese equities and real estate in the late eighties, as well as technology stocks din the late nineties.

He began warning about the overvaluation of equity and credit markets in 2006, well before the start of the present crisis, “In five years, I expect that at least one major bank (broadly defined) will have failed and that up to half the hedge funds and a substantial percentage of the private equity firms in existence today will have simply ceased to exist.”

Well Bear Sterns,  Lehman collapsed. And Merrill Lynch, Citi,  RBS, HBOS needed help to avoid failing.

“Mr. Chancellor is the author of several books including Crunch Time for Credit (2005) and Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation (1999), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Prior to joining GMO, he worked as deputy U.S. editor for in New York and for Lazard Brothers.”