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6/30/2009

Discrimination - Malaysian and Singapore models

We have discrimination on both sides of the causeway. In fact we have discrimination everywhere across the glode. Let's just look at some of the pertinent features of the two policies that discriminate its citizens. Discrimination Singapore style, not spoken too loudly but strongly felt by the Malay community, cannot be denied or brushed away. Among the other communities, they can hardly complained about discrimination as they were very well treated with hardly any discrimination at all. If they are discrimination, it is positive discrimination. In the case of the Malay community, discrimination is in the area of appointments in sensitive and strategic military appointments. If one look at this closely, one will notice that the discrimination was more of a contingency arising from the difficult relationship between Singapore and Malaysia in the early days. The tendency for the Malaysian side to target Malay Singaporeans was an issue that cannot be treated lightly or ignored. That was the gist of the discrimination policy. It was not intended as a racial discrimination policy to begin with. For that, the govt has tried in other areas to compensate for it by adopting affirmative policies to give the minorities more assistance and attention. Our policies towards the minorities is to favour them when all things are being equal. In contrast, the Malaysian discrimination policies were to favour the majority, with affirmative policies for the majority and discriminate the minorities in practically all fields. The discrimination is widespread and pervasive and without any need of disguise or apologies. Our govt, when questioned about the military appointments, has always been awkward and difficult. Hopefully, with time and better relations with Malaysia, and the different pace and development, we will become two distinct people with very different aspirations and inclinations that will put all forms of discrimination as a bad dream of the past. It is unthinkable if we were to practise the Malaysian kind of discrimination here. The best part of it is that the minorities in Malaysia are resigned to the discrimination policies and the govt is proud and think it is right to adopt those discriminating policies. PS. Are we able to discuss this issue in a mature manner without punching at each other?

6/29/2009

A transient society

Seah Chiang Nee wrote about the transient nature of our society in www.littlespeck.com. Everything is transient and changing, from the traditional kopitiam to the population. Soon the original Singaporeans will be a minority in the island, at the rate new citizens and PRs are coming in. The original Singaporeans built this island from the leftovers of what was a British colony. The vestiges of our colonial past are well preserved and would probably be there for a longer while. Some of the old buildings in the clusters of Chinatown, Bugis and Little India may still be there to remind us of our inglorious past. When most of the original Singaporeans are gone, would the new Singaporeans, the more materialistic and in a hurry to make it good, feel any emotion or attachment to the things of old? Would they just wipe them off and build another phase of modern and high tech infrastructure? Would they harbour any misgivings or distaste for the less able Singaporeans and their history and think of economic and material progress, and erase all our past for a futuristic Singapore? Things are changing fast and our progress and economic development are built on the premises of pulling down the old and rebuild into new. For there is hardly anything or land left to generate more revenue. So build, destroy and rebuilt will be the key to keep the economy going. Don't be surprised one day a new batch of Singaporeans, hungry for growth, will tear down Chinatown, Bugis and Little India for the good of the country.

Revamping the financial system

Chok Tong talked about the changes in the financial industry and the fear of unscrupulous or toxic products. Investors are returning to basics, looking for smaller but steadier gains like bonds, govt bonds, not any cheap bonds. With all the cheats and thiefs exposed, and the American govt watching them like a hawk, hopefully they will not be allowed to design another batch of fraudulent products to cheat the masses. All the sins and crimes orginated from the US though they were brushed aside as something of lesser evil. Evil they were. So, how would all these white collar cheats and crimes affect us? Today we read in the ST that SGX needs to compete for IPOs. We either compete for good IPOs or be content with sub standard companies that ended up as another bunch of frauds. The confidence among our investors have also been hurt badly by all these fly by night companies. Many have been suspended due to frauds that were dressed up as pristine companies with great growth potentials. And the parties involved in the dressing ups, making all the fees, are still at large, laughing all the way to the banks. This is only one aspect of the financial systems that need to be placed under the microscope. The other are the practices adopted by big funds that capitalised on their muscle and technology to exploit the system to their advantage, often leading to the destruction of values of stocks. Dubious trading strategies and methodologies that are contrary to the well being of stocks and the stock market must not be allowed to be practised in our stockmarket. The gains of a little clearing fee and the fictitious churning to give the impression that the market is alive and healthy is not worth it for the huge losses incurred by innocent and small investors. There is a need to revamp the way the stock market is operating.

6/28/2009

Proud owners of a $3m dollar piece of space

How many of you are proud owners of a $3m or $1m piece of space in the sky, with 4 walls that you called home? I bet there are many out there, some willingly forking our several millions to have a little space fancifully dressed up and called high end apartments. High end or low end, it is a big chunk of money that people are paying for. Imagine how many more things they can do with that kind of money to better their lives and the lives of other people? But relatively speaking, the money they spent is only a fraction of their worth. They still have a lot to spare to live a great life. At the lower level, at the HDB level, many are paying a relatively higher portion of their income for that space called flat or home. Why do we have to pay so much just for a place to sleep? The joke now is that the people who really enjoy the expensive flats or landed properties are the maids. They are the ones staying home while the owners slogged day and night to pay for the flat or houses. For many who just have one property to live in, a 4 rm or 5 rm flat is still a flat whether you pay $200k or $1m for it. High prices are good for those who want to trade their homes. And if the cost of a flat can be reduced, the savings can be used for a better quality of life, to purchase many other things. What is happening is that the money is now locked in this little flat called home. It is a deplorable allocation of resources. Asset rich and cash poor, and little money left for other things. Is this a good model?

Strong wings and deep roots

Chok Tong is worried that we are losing some of our top students who went overseas for their studies. This is a drain on our small talent pool and it is important to bring them home to roost. In a way they are a consequence of our success, giving them strong wings to fly high and far, but not deep enough roots to stay put back home. Chok Tong is asking the schools to inculcate emotional values or bonds in the hope of keeping them with us. How much is emotional bonds anyway? The brighter and smarter the students, the clearer they see and understand the ethos of our society. It is all about how much, and not about emotions, sentiments or silly values like giving back to your country or serving the people. Everything is calculated in monetary terms here. There is no room for ties or intangibles. No free lunch, there is a price for everything, except compulsory National Service. Now who have been passing such values to the young? But what is the problem? What we lost we can easily be replaced with talents from China, India and neighbouring countries. And they are not only better talents, they are also more appreciative of what of the goodness of our country. They may be new here, with no emotional ties, no family ties, and short roots. But we know that they will develop all these that Singaporeans born and brought up here, with family ties, cannot. Singaporeans are ungrateful and unappreciative of what the govt have done for them. The migrants will be grateful and appreciative and will not go away for greener pastures. Is there any contradictions or any hypocrisies? Haven't we been very successful in buying foreign talents here? Now, why are Singaporeans running away? In numerical terms, for every Singaporeans that went away, we can bring in 100 or more. In hard cold numbers, in our calculative ways, we are net gainers. Where got problem? Soon we will have a strong migrant population in the majority, and bringing our country to a higher level of material success. PS. More pics of the Singapore River Festival in the blog link.

6/27/2009

Notable quote by Gerard Ee

'Many social entrepreneurs do not understand that social enterprises are for profit. Some even feel guilty about it.' Gerard Ee Do Singaporeans understand the above statement? Or do they need further explanations on the purpose of social enterprises? They are set up for profit, yes to make profit. What charity, what helping the needy, what nonsense? There is no need to feel guilty about making profit. That is the reason for all enterprises, govt, social or charitable organisations. The rest of the reasons of how noble, how kind and compassionate, the need to help those who need help, are all a big bullshit. Ok, profit is not necessary bad. Profit is good, just like greed is good. But make profit for what or for who? Be greedy and more greedy, for what and for who? Now with so many professionals in it, they even coined the term venture philanthropy. They went in with the skills of well trained corporate executives and wielding knives as sharp as those of sushi chefs. Remember those organisations that collect a lot of money and were praised sky high that they were good? Even monks and priests are at it. If only they were not discovered and their dirty laundries washed in the open, they will continue to do what they knew best, and enjoy the perks of top class business executives. Today we have several pages of write ups in the ST glamorising the passionate and committed, and in tailored suit executives doing charitable work, helping the needy. I hope they were doing it not for profit. But what's wrong with that? They should not feel guilty about it if they were doing it for profit. I don't know how many of you will agree with my nonsense above?

The ridiculous nature of progress

Yes we are rich, very rich. Many people have gone pass the comfort zone and have time and money to be philanthropists. Actually I prefer this word to be spelt philantrophist. The piss sound in the first word doesn't do justice to the do gooders. Where am I heading? Oh yes, we now have excess money and energy to help more needy people. All our needy people are well taken of by the govt and the legions of charitable organisations in our midst. I do not know the statistics, but we could have more do gooders or charitable organisations per capita than any country in the world. What shall we do with so many good things? Spread them around, overseas, to help the world. And if that is not good enough, we can import poverty to live with us. This will give us more opportunities to explore our creativity and the compassionate goodness in us to help these needies. We must thank the importers of foreign workers for helping the do gooders in their cause. Let's import more foreign workers so that we can feed them and look after them. It is always a good thing to help others. Never mind if they came here in debt and without a job. We can all do our part to feed them. It is good for the soul. The MOM must be more generous in the issuing of WP and not go around chasing after them as illegals.

6/26/2009

First brown General

The US took more than 200 years to welcome a black President. We took 44 years to produce a brown General. Not too bad actually. BG Ishak Ismail is the first Malay to be promoted to the general rank, at the age of 46. The world is changing for the better. Let's hope that he will beat a path for more able Malay soldiers to rise to higher ranks, and not because we need to promote them to fill up some quota or a public relations exercise. So far the reports on Ishak is quite commendable. As we move on, our Malay brothers and sisters should move on together as a people and share the progress of the nation. The able ones should take the lead and show the way.

Fake degrees in the Education Hub

We want to be the premier education hub of Asia. We want to attract hundreds of thousands of foreign students here to pursue their studies. We had a spate of frauds coming from the private school providers. Now we have more revelations of fake degrees being offered over the years, undetected. Undetected!!! My god! Could all these be avoided? Is it so difficult to weed them out before they even enrol the students? It cannot be that difficult than sending man to the moon. Alas, the squeaky clean and administratively efficient state is now no better than a third world country. How could we be an international education hub when such simple frauds like accreditation from reputable institutions can get pass so easily? It is definitely a case of negligent, no one or organisation being assigned to administer it. Another equivalent of selling toxic products. Come on Singapore, you can do much better than this, to allow such blatant frauds to exist right under your nose, Terribly disappointing. Exactly like the motor insurance fraud. Nobody's child, nobody's problem. Not my problem. Soon we will be known as an island of super first world infrastructure but operated by third world conmen and tricksters. This is a reputation we cannot afford to live with. Rip Van Winkle is still enjoying his nice nap.

6/25/2009

2 more pics for viewing pleasure

Stop crying to papa and mama

There was this little tiff between Lionel De Souza and TOC of which the former complained to MDA about the contents in the latter's forum, claiming that the postings were harmful, bordering on perdition and sedition. MDA has made an official reply to the complaint stating that not everything or everyone should go crying father and mother to the authority. If anyone is not happy with the content, speak to the forum owner or moderator first. And MDA will only take action if the content is serious and damaging. Otherwise, grow up. The internet is there and will be there and MDA will continue to handle it with a light touch. Bravo, MDA!

Property sales and prices going up

These must be good news. And the better news is that more of the buyers are HDB upgraders, 46% of them. The actual number is 673 for the 2Q of 2009. It is good to note that HDB upgraders are able to move on to the private property market, thanks to the higher resale values of their HDB flats. The other side of the coin is that with resale prices going up, prices of HDB flats, new and old, will also move up accordingly. While the upgraders have the benefit of owning flats that are appreciating in price, the new buyers, those who have yet to buy a flat will have something to worry about. And with their income not keeping pace with the rising prices, the new flats that they are going to buy are going to cost them more. But they should not worry as there will be more new flats being built in the new towns. And if they cannot afford 4 rm flats, go for cheaper 3 rm or 2 rm flats. They must tailor their expectation according to their income level. This is only a reasonable advice. Would we reach a stage when our young graduates could only look forward to buying a new flat in a new town, and probably a 3 rm one as their income will not be enough for the bigger flats? We used to have graduates being seen as someone who have made it and on a career path that will lead to a better lifestyle. With the rising HDB prices keeping up with market prices, future graduates should attune themselves by lowering their expectation of bigger HDB flats or private properties in their first buy. Things are different now, and they got to get use to the higher cost of everything.

6/24/2009

Singapore River Festival

Just a few pics of the Singapore River Festival that I shot.

Tan Kah Kee Station

How can we called an MRT station Tan Kah Kee Station? Who is Tan Kah Kee to deserve such an honour? Never heard of him or his contribution. A better name for that station should be Queen Elizabeth Station. This will remind everyone of the royal neighbourhood of Duchesses and Kings and royalties. It will also remind Singaporeans of the great contributions of our colonial rulers. These are the legacies of the neighbourhood according to Leslie Raj. Actually I don't care a damn about the royalties. To the many ignoramus, the piece of land which Hwa Chong sits was donated by the philantrophist Tan Kah Kee. That piece of land is as large and as far as the eyes can see. For those who only know the value of money, please count how many condominiums can be built on that piece of land, real prime estate. Tan Kah Kee's contribution was more than that, if one bothers to read the history of Chinese High School and Hwa Chong. Their existence came about by the spirit of the community to break the stranglehood of secondary education for our children when the British govt refused to educate them but only at primary school level to be clerks and office boys. The community stood up, led be Tan Kah Kee, to build the first secondary school for the Chinese community in this island. And Tan Kah Kee donated his treasured piece of land on which the school stood today. That is the legacy of Tan Kah Kee and Hwa Chong. And his contribution is not just in and around Hwa Chong. Tan Kah Kee is most deserving to be honoured by having the station named after him.

HDB lease buybacks is on

The first batch of HDB owners have opted for the HDB lease buyback scheme yesterday. The scheme will ensure that they will have a roof over their heads and an annuity payout for the rest of their life. By this scheme, these people would have some form of income in their old age, a replica of what CPF annuity scheme and minimum sum scheme were trying to do. So, does it mean that now these people do not need to buy annuity scheme or have their CPF locked up in the minimum sum scheme? To continue to retain their money in the CPF will not be accepted as good faith. People will now see the retention of CPF minimum sum in a different and negative light. The money must be returned to these folks as they have made provisions for their retirement and old age. To claim that the amount from the lease buyback scheme is insufficient and the need to continue to hold back to the minimum sum is anything but atrocious. No amount is enough if the reasoning shall go this way.

6/23/2009

A proactive and caring govt - A big thank you

In the 60s and 70s, most of the population were living in wooden huts, squatters and cubicles in the city. Then came the govt to the rescue. They built cheap and affordable HDB flats at less than $10k in Queenstown for the people. When the people get richer in the 70s/80s, the govt started to build better and bigger flats, 5rm, executive and HUDC flats for the people. Then came 90s, people getting more prosperous. And the govt was pleased. They started to build condominiums for the people. All still quite affordable. Now comes 2000s, what happens, flats are now too expensive. People cannot afford to buy bigger flats. So comes the proactive and caring govt. It starts to build smaller flats, 2/3 rms and even 1 rm rental flats. The people are so lucky. They can always downgrade. Always a roof of their choice to befit their pocket. Very affordable.

Medisave - the magic cure

It is reported in the ST today that chronic disease patients managed their health better when allowed to tap on Medisave. In a study by the MOH, 'Diabetics, for one, experienced improved diabetic, lipid and blood pressure control over the two years... 46% had optimal control by the end of last year. And nearly 4 in 5 diabetics with initial poor control, had made improvements by the second year....As for hypertensive patients, up to 85% of those with poor blood pressure control made improvements by the end of last year.' These fantastic findings were due to they 'being allowed to tap on their Medisave for outpatient treatment.' Wow, Medisave must be a wonder drug. The MOH must allow more patients to dip into Medisave to improve their health. I was involved in a free health screening in one of the constituencies in the North. We were surprised that despite being free, and so many volunteer doctors, very few people came forward. So some of our volunteers went to one of the aged homes nearby to encourage the inmates to come forward. They were scolded by the oldies. Their reason, screening was free. But what about the followup and medicine that were prescribed after the free screening? They could not afford to pay for them. So they rather stayed put and gave the free screening a pass. The moral of the story is have money have good health. No money, poor health.

6/22/2009

The greatest con game

This game is invented by the fund managers. They gamble with OPM, other people's money, and call it investing. When they placed a winning bet they pat themselves on their back and proclaimed how clever they were. When they lost, they still charged the investors a management fee. They cannot lose. Just like the doctors and lawyers, whether one is cured or otherwise, wins or loses a case, they are paid handsomely. But fund managers outdo the other professions by the way they measure their performance. They have a shifting or relative target, mark to market. If the market makes $1m and they make $1.2m, they are better than the market. If the market loses $1b and they lose $900m, they outperformed the market. In both instances the investors must thank them for being smarter than the market, and even reward them. The other trick which they invented is selective data. Choose a time frame or a specific area that makes money, just talk about it and ignore the rest that register losses. Or do some window dressing on a particular day of the month for book closing. Push up the prices before market closes to look profitable or lose lesser. I want to be a fund manager.

Is building 2 and 3 rm flats a sign of progress?

How many of you agree that building more 2 and 3 rm flats is a sign of progress? To me it is the clearest indicator that we are going down, getting poorer as a people. For those who are living in private properties, good luck to them. They are the people who are living well and progressing. What on earth is happening that we keep crowing about how rich we are and how much reserves we have and we are now launching a new batch of smaller and smaller flats? The uplifting of the lives of the people must be across the board, not just for the elite and the well endowed. As I have mentioned earlier, we went through a phase when everyone is thinking of buying the next bigger flat. There were hopes and aspirations. HDB even had to put into the back burner its building of smaller flats. The aspirations of the people is for a better and comfortable life, better and bigger housing. Today, the sentiment is reversed. A number of people are thinking of downgrading and many are actually downgrading. Even Wally Buffett is thinking of downgrading. And at the same time, people are buying their 10th or 11th property for their grandchildren or grandchildren's children. The divide is getting wider and wider. Many factors contributed to the people being unable to afford better housing. We all know why. Land is the most precious part of our limited resources. And if we keep on building to sell to foreigners and leaving the 2 and 3 rm flats for out citizens, will this lead to our own people being displaced or feel displaced in their own country? Are we for the betterment of our people or foreigners? What is the point of selling land and properties to foreigners, more profits for what? PS. Wally, the hell in Jalan Kukoh is not just the structural design. It is social, the people who are being displaced, who are desperate and with a mentality that can be dangerous to you and your family. Not all are like that, but all you need is a few and your life will be turned into hell. And in this modern slum of our first world city, the proportion of desperados are more than in other areas.

6/21/2009

All bridges lead to JB. Why?

More opposing voices are being heard against the 3rd bridge. I can understand the people of JB for not wanting any bridge that does not go their way. I can understand all those with vested interests in JB, businesses, properties etc to want everything to go to JB. A 3rd bridge will only divert people and business activities away. But have they thought of the consequences of everything going into JB? Do they want a KL or our CBD in JB, when the place is jammed packed with vehicles and people and pollution? Could they not see any merits in diverting away traffic, people and vehicles that are not bound for JB, through other avenues, and bridges? Yes, the 3rd will not benefit JB directly but more for the east coast towns like Mersing, Kota Tinggi, Desaru, Pulau Tioman and all the islands, and also Kuantan and perhaps Trengganu and Kelatan. But JB will benefit from a cleaner and less congested city, less through traffic, less enforced travellers that must go through JB short of alternatives. The Federal Govt is right in looking at the big picture. Who will have the final say? I think not Najib. Another stillbirth.

Make yourself useful and work for life

Yesterday a Raymond Lo wrote to the ST to encourage Singaporeans to make themselves useful and they can be guaranteed of life time employment. His role model was LKY, who he quoted, at 86, 'MM Lee did, to a gruelling round of visits to Malaysia, meeting important personalities, gauging opinions and cementing ties. He has my respect and admiration because he does it for Singapore's well being.' In the same page a Kelvin Tan wrote to complain about the plight of his 81 year old father who was literally a football, being kicked all over the place and no one interested in his well being. The old man could not qualify for the Eldershield and need to be certified as 'disabled' to get help from the Interim Disability Assistance Programme for the Elderly(Idape). And it needs a simple process to confirm that he could not eat, dress, bathe or go to the toilet, move around and transfer from bed to chair. Kelvin Tan was able, and made many calls only to be pushed around too, with no solution to his father's plight. He was very disappointed. What is the moral of the two stories? 1. One must be useful. 2. One must be your own boss and have a job that is only yours, to work at your own time, to decide what you want to do and not to do. 3. No one there to breathe down your neck, to check on you and ask you to hurry. Why so slow? 4. The job must pay so well that you die die still want to work. How many of the taxi drivers would want to work to their 80s if they have a choice? How many cleaners, clerical staff, executives, mechanics, technicians or even professionals would want to work till their 80s if there is someone younger and fiercer yelling at them at every little mistakes they make? I would like to emulate LKY if I have that kind of job, or even be his personal blogger for the rest of my life for a pittance of a minister's pay. To be real, find something to do and enjoy doing it, like blogging or photography, and make yourself happy. No one to boss around with you and you decide what, when, where and how to do it. Happy blogging people. Forget about emulating LKY. Forget about emulating Nathan or Chok Tong. Find your own peace. But don't end up as a football to be kicked around, useless and unwanted.

6/20/2009

Revelation of the MPs

In the follow up to the changes to the political system that is akan datang, ST has a full page report of the views of the ruling MPs on these changes. And the revelation is quite enlightening. Teo Ser Luck said this, 'We will be thinking in terms of national interest, and less about putting things across because of political points.' He was referring to the Govt Parliamentary Committees which were trying to serve as a check on govt policies in the absence of a significant opposition presence in Parliament. Both Ser Luck and Amy Khor probably share the same view that it would be a step back if PAP MPs were to censor their views just to toe the party line. For all these years, how much of the MPs views were party lines or to score political points and how much were based on national interests? The two positions may or may not be in conflict, but at times they could. The other interesting quote from Amy is that, 'When a PAP MP criticises govt policies, he or she is not doing it just for criticism's sake or playing to the gallery.' Well said, Amy. How many had been guilty of criticising for criticism's sake or playing to the gallery? Anyway, what is the point of having opposition views when they have no right to vote against the bills? Opposing views for the sake of opposing views or playing to the gallery of the public eyes? Can this be all there is to it? This is best answered by Charles Chong who said, 'Currently, MPs can say whatever they want,...The Party Whip - applies only during voting.' This simply means that the MPs can make all their opposing views, but when come to voting they must vote for the party line. Doesn't this smack of hypocrisy? When one is so against a policy but must vote for the policy? What is not very enlightening in the report is the comment by Dr Gillian Koh. She said, 'Gone are the days when opposition can say there are so few opportunities. No longer would that excuse be there.' She was referring to the increase of single ward seats from 9 to 12. Hmmm, what kind of logic is that? Didn't she know that once all the seats were single wards? So it is a great concession after taking away all the single seats and now say you can have 3 more from 9? Better say a big thank you to the govt for being so generous and magnanimous.

Putting a lease and tag on thieves and cheats

Obama is going to do it. Make no mistake about it, the thieves and cheats of the corporate and financial world must be leased and tagged and kept under observation. They have committed horrendous crimes against the innocent public and minority shareholders for too long, robbing, stealing and cheating under the guise of financial engineering, clever accounting and selling toxic products that were no better than snake oils. And practically none, only a handful, has been put behind bars. And who is to be blamed? The govt and regulators of course. They were either sleeping or in cahoot with these thieves, sharing their kickbacks. The Obama Administration is going to take the lead, to show the way, that a crime is a crime no matter how well conceived, how legally documented and how sophisticatedly worded and looking so real. The financial system has been at the brink of being ruined by these thieves and cheats. And one bunch is still happily singing and whistling as they go about cheating through a game that they cannot lose by sheer advantage of financial power and a set of rules of the game that are in their favour. I am referring to the hedge funds and how they are courted by stock market operators to participate in the market, to give a false sense of an active and healthy market, but at the perils of the small investors and shareholders. Obama shall not stop at just the corporate thieves and cheats, but also the hedge fund operations. Taking advantage of arbitraging is acceptable. Taking advantage of a trading system by its system weaknesses is unacceptable. And the fault does not lie just in the hedge funds but also the system administrators for creating a faulty or flawed system, an uneven playing field. Obama shall show the world how the bad systems, sold to the world as the best and workable systems, are really a scam, and let the little administrators around the world wake up to their follies of blindly following Wall Streets and the dictations of the big fund managers on how the system should be, of course to enable them to participate and exploit to their benefits. Just hope Obama is not bundled out as the forces stacked against him is huge and powerful.

6/19/2009

From hot heads to wise old men

We have progressed over the last 50 years, and in two months time we will be celebrating 50 years of self government. During the early years of nation building, many of the ministry and dept heads were young and hot headed task masters. They howled and they growled to get things done. They were intolerant of mistakes and heads would roll at the smallest of errors. They demanded the best and no ifs and buts. In a way these were brash and rash men in a hurry to get things done. The room for errors were small. There were heads being given the boots for sending their peons to buy lunch or lottery tickets. Today, as we celebrate our manhood as a nation, we can see the change to a more mature people, civil and graceful. Mistakes were accepted as part and parcel of a job. No risk no mistakes. Big risk big mistakes. No sweat, another day's job. In a way we have grown to be kinder and more forgiving, a sign of maturity and age. We have arrived as a rich and graceful people with plenty of botok on the face, full of forgiveness and compassion for the people. No more hot heads in charge, but plenty of Yodas.

I Sultan

Najib could not have gotten a worst start in his attempt to stamp a mark as PM with a new approach on how Malaysia should be managed and its relations with Singapore. He started with lots of promise for cooperation and development, and to do away with the time consuming and unproductive politicking of Mahathir's days. Unfortunately in his haste to get things moving, he forgot that there are Sultans in Malaysia. And Mahathir's way of by passing the Sultans is over. Building bridges, straight or crooked, is not a simple affair and the Sultan must be consulted. Now, before anything can happen, the Sultan has made it clear, I Sultan, cannot be ignored. I am still around and kicking. How is Najib going to negotiate this mountain is going demand the best political skills from him. And his key party members are starting to voice their opposition to the idea as well. On hindsight, LKY should make it his last stop at the JB Istana for dinner before coming home.

6/18/2009

Scoring hospitals

Lee Soh Hong, an accountant, started a website to monitor performances of public hospitals by feedbacks from the public. If this is taken positively without fear or feeling under scrutiny, it could go a long way. No one likes to be publicly scrutinised or have a complaint box ready to receive complaints about them. But this will be the trend as customers wise up to their rights and demands better service for the money they are paying. I was at the NUH for a couple of occasions recently and have made some observations. We have very good medical and support staff manning the institutions, especially the doctors and nurses. We have the best and most modern equipment available. But they are not perfect, especially the software. I feel that they need to have someone full time to look at the software aspects, on how to take good care of customers and their needs, not just medical alone. The quality of the medical care is a given. It is the small nitty gritties that are still found wanting. I did mentioned in the previous post about the PA system. Maybe it was because of some restructuring and relocation due to the H1N1 crisis. Even then a little thought will have make things easier and friendlier to the customers. When I raised this to the staff who was trying his best to help, he told me to write in. This amazed me. Why my on the spot feedback was not enough for him to raise it internally? Why is it that feedback must be written officially for it to be acted on? The other part that I want to repeat is the appointment time and when the patients will eventually be seen by the doctors. After 30 or 40 years, we are still seeing patients having appointments at 9am and seen at 10 or 12 noon. The wait is unnecessarily long. Perhaps there are good medical reasons to do so. To a patient, going to the hospital early and having to wait and wait is bad. In my recent encounter I find that if the staff were to put more urgency or priorities in clearing the patients and let them off over some routine paper works, it would surely help. Spending 5 or 6 hours waiting for a treatment which often ended with 10 or 20 min with the doctors is very difficult to justify. Attempts should be made to cut down this waiting time as many people's time are wasted unnecessarily. My comments are from someone looking from the outside. There must be good reasons to drag the procedure for hours. If not, then the long waiting time is unacceptable.

6/17/2009

The new sandwich

While we are seeing the fading away of the old sandwich class, it is surprising to see the emergence of a new sandwich class. Is this new sandwich necessary? The old sandwich came from a period of adject poverty, when educational level was low and many were caught in the low income trap, from parents to children. The short job cycle and the formula of retiring at 55, which was necessary in many hard labour jobs, resulted in many with little savings. The children would have to continue to provide for the old folks and their own children. Today, has the picture changed? Many with families are likely to own a flat, have some CPF savings and with children that are having bigger income. Relatively the people today are much well off except for the dysfunctional families, the remnants of the illiterate and ignorant generations and the squanderers. The problem is or should not be pervasive. Why the need to legislate laws today to create another sandwich class by compulsion? What went wrong? One possibility is the breakdown of the family and family values. The children do not see it their responsibility to look after their aged parents. Of course this is only a generalisation and may not affect too many. Then there is this ‘heart willing, pocket not willing’ situation when the cost of living has made caring and looking after a small family that much more costly financially. And to pay for and look after children and parents simultaneously is not an easy option for many. Law or no law, if the pocket is empty, there is not much that can be done. Isn’t it an irony that in today’s context, with so many levels of protection and provision, the oldies should be happily retired without having to be a burden to children and society. What causes this failure to see our olds retiring to the sunset amply provided? Or retiring to the sunset is a fleeting dream? How many will turn into sour sandwiches, unable to look after their own families and legally bounded to look after their parents? I think if this is becoming such a problem, we have failed as a society to give the people a better life. Too much money and resources are wasted in maintaining a costly lifestyle and with little left to look after parents. Can we then blame the new sandwiches for failing to be filial or were they the victims of circumstances that were promoted as the good life?

Euphoria lost even before LKY is back

I read some of the comments in the ST about the responses and reactions of Malaysian politicians on the LKY visit. Khairy, Anwar and former minister Idris Haron and Johore MP Shahrir Samad were quoted and all were very negative. Even Najib's proposal of a third bridge was attacked as a useless idea. And Khairy stood firm in not selling sand to Singapore. Oh, according to Shahrir, the third bridge is unnecessary as the two bridges were not fully utilised. How come he did not say the crooked bridge was unnecessary for the same reasons? Anyway, Najib is going to have a hard time if his cabinet or MPs were to stand against him. Luckily the third bridge is not Singapore's idea. And the killing of the idea of selling sand to Singapore is as good as calling everything off. The LKY trip started very promising. Now it may become another wasted effort. No fairy tale ending. Just a fairy tale.

Sorry guys/gals

My apologies for not posting anything today. Was at NUH with the missus. Unfortunately the Singtel Wireless reception was poor and can't get my article out. Will post it this evening. Title is New Sandwich.

6/16/2009

No he won't shut up

On the tail end of the LKY tour of Malaysia, Mahathir had to let go his pent up feelings. He left it to the last day, a courtesy, or knowing that LKY did not have time for him? He harped on the perpetual issues of Malays losing out, of selling water cheaply to Singapore and how important Singapore has become. He will never die in peace if he cannot get these issues out of his system. It must be very painful to him. Were his fears real or imagination? Every country will strategise their policies with themselves as the centre of the universe. Is that anything new? As for selling untreated water to Singapore at 3 sen, he did not comment that Singapore sold treated water to Johore at a special price in return. Changing one will have to change the other. And the Iskander project, other than the fears of bumiputras being marginalised in their own country, think deeply, is it possible in today's context? This was possible in the pre independence days of colonialism. Today the bumiputras are in control of the country. There are their own masters. And from the economic point of view, if Malaysia cannot remove the blinkers and think that foreign investors will go there, throw their money in and leave everything to the Malaysians, without leaving any traces of their presence, they can give up their dreams of attractive foreign funds. When foreign investors came, they will bring everything, money and their culture and presence. And they want to make profits out of their investments. And Malaysia would naturally want to benefit from their presence. But Malaysia cannot blame the foreign investors for raising the cost of living, fighting for all the space and services, buying up their properties etc etc. These are part and parcel of the bargain. There will be more Singaporean cars and Singaporeans all over Malaysia if they want to promote tourism. And there will be more jams and ugly Singaporeans. If that is something they did not want to see, then it is better to close the door. Malaysia will now have to reassess its position without the fears and threats of a Mahathir mindset. To move forward and embrace the world, or to remain as a kampong?

6/15/2009

A 6 hour experience at NUH

This is one of our world class hospitals. This was the first time I had the opportunity to observe it at close quarters, for a solid 6 hours. I was at the A&E dept to admit someone. I must say the facilities were first class. And the front line staff were also first class, very helpful and pleasant to deal with. We are in Yellow state of H1N1 and they were all geared up for it, with new areas being provided for visitors as a result of this flu threat. There were ample seats at the waiting area, free distilled water, and fans to cool the temperature. The latter didn't work much in the current hot spell. Warm air blowing. Two areas which I found wanting is the PA system. The sound was not clear, maybe it was outside and the acoustic wasn't good. What is not too good is the instructions given. Everytime they called out for the visitors to be at the counter or somewhere else, they presumed that the visitors know where that place was. In many cases the visitors, probably first time there, did not have a clue where they should be going to. I was there for 6 hours and tried very hard to figure out the instructions. I felt victim to it too when my turn was called. I went from one point to the next in a blurry way. Go to that counter, over there. Without the H1N1 precautionary measures this may not have happened as everything, every counter, is inside the department. For the moment, the visitors have to stay outside the building and make do with the temporary measures. Oh, in case of patients who have been there for several hours, more feedback to their family members will be welcomed, at least to let them know how many more hours they would have to wait and in the mean time they could go for a snack or do something else. I waited patiently for 6 hours. Only the first hour was I given a short brief.

I work, so I am

Several years ago someone asked me when I was going to retire. It was a normal course of event. People stopped working at 55 and retired. I am still working, more of a necessity than anything else. Over the weekend I heard of this friend who is going to ask for extension of employment. He is in the mid 60s. He is not the Ah Pek that needs a job to pay for the next meal. He is a CEO of a MNC. Why would he want to continue working at that age? His children are on their own. He had not only bought them a car each, but also a landed property each. And his own net worth is easily $20-$30m. Doesn't he want to spend the rest of his life playing golf, sail or travel around the world, doing things that he did not have the chance to do before, playing with his grandchildren, or become a small emperor in Bintan, Batam or JB? He cannot retire, and he must not retire. He does not want to be known as a retiree. It sounded as if he is a worthless man, a retiree! Many of these successful and multi milllionaires may have fallen into this same situation. The fear of retirement and the loss of their big titles. They want to be known as CEO, Director or Chairman of this and that. Money is also good, for some, for doing nothing. And there are all the perks and the names and name cards to throw around. All these people will work until they die. They live to work and work to live. That is their meaning of life. The only reason to justify their existence as a human being, to work and work and work. Perhaps we should glamorise the title multi millionaire or billionaire and people who are so rich should print it on their name cards as a status symbol. And they can add in the phrase, 'I don't need to work.' I like to gripe about people not knowing how to die gracefully. Now there are all these successful people who can afford to retire gracefully to enjoy a life with newfound freedom that money can buy. But retire they not.

6/14/2009

The white mice experiment

There was this experiment done in the past on population control. The guinea pigs were the white mice. What the researchers did was to introduce white mice into a cage. The white mice were happy and quickly multiply as there were abundance of space and food. The mice were healthy and vibrant. As the population keeps increasing, the vibrancy increased and it seemed that the mice were also getting happier, working harder and running faster. Then a point was reached when the population grew too large and you could notice the unhappiness and the difficulties to find space and food. And the mice started to look hungrier and angrier and less well fed. They need to fight with each other for every inch of space and every piece of food in the cage. And tension rose. But vibrancy was getting higher and more exciting. This went on undisturbed. Soon rioting and fighting among the mice were a normal and frequent activity. The final part of the experiment saw the mice eating each other for food when food ran out. Today, our 6 million or 8 million population target has not been in the news for a while. So quiet. Will we still be heading in that direction? Will the population end up eating one another? It would not be white mice eating white mice. It could be white mice eating black or grey mice or vice versa. Is that our destiny?

6/13/2009

The changing colours of Malaysia

I wonder if any of you notice this subtle change in Malaysia over the last couple of years. There is change in the making in the mindset of UMNO. I am not referring to their racial politics. I am not referring to the fading era of Mahathir. There is a physical change, the choice of ceremonial colours. It used to be green. The new colour is red. UMNO is turning red, even in their party uniforms and colour. Would this mean anything? China was red but turning more blue. The Americans were blue but turning a little red. The Islamic states were green and so was Malaysia. But Malaysia is turning red. Indonesia, the most populated Islamic country, has always been red. Malaysia has seen the passing away of the second generation of political leaders when Mahathir left. Badawi was the transition stage. Now we have Najib, Muhyiddin, Hamidi, Hishamuddin and several other new generation leaders in the driver's seat. Hamidi and Hishamuddin came from UMNO youth and cut their teeth as ultras, riding on the cause of championing Malay supremacy to power. No one can fault them for taking those stands when young and full of fire in their bellies. Have they matured while rising to their present positions and able to see the bigger picture, the longer term of socio economic development and progress for nation and all? Today's report concluded that they are fully behind Najib to work with Singapore for the good of both countries. Such developmental approach, a break from the berserk politicking mindset of the past, is a big step forward. If they are to pursue this earnestly, instead of wasting time politicking to score empty victories, the relationship between the two states will have a long way to go and both will benefit along the way. Between the two countries, there are more to learn and gain through cooperation and working together to better the livelihood of the people of the two states. For this to be true, to materialise, serious and conscientious effort must be made to change the whole psychic of the people both in the corridors of power and the kampong folks. Will Malaysia be able to transform itself into a vibrant economic power, or will it still stick to its kampong mentality, living in a fast pace modern world but led by leaders with attitudes and mindsets of medieval kampong chiefs? Is the changing of colours a sign of real change, deep seated change, or just cosmetics?

A better public transport system

Our public transport system has improved since it was privatised. If it still remained as a stats board, it will continue to crawl at snail pace. That is if one believes the mantra that privatisation will naturally lead to efficiency and profitability. I don't believe a little wee bit in this stupid assumption. Neither do I believe that a stats board will be inefficient simply because it is not privatised. How efficient is an organisation depends on the top management and the will to make it efficient. Even low pay can be efficient but not for long as the underpaid workers will leave for greener pasture. Political will or management will, is the key to efficiency. The other point is the unimaginative mindset that an efficiently run public transport system must be packed with commuters and Tokyo is the standard to live by. The train and buses should be made a preferred mode of transportation by being fast, efficient, clean and comfortable. Not being squeezed and forced to smell everyone's body odour. A little lesser profit or less profit minded may be the reason for an overhaul of the public transport system. And with the pandemic of H1N1, our trains and buses are death traps. One person can literally infected the whole train or bus. The more compact and crowded, the more will be infected. Hygiene and health consideration must take priorities under the current flu crisis. This could be the cause of why New York and Melbourne are now so deadly, the centres for the spread of H1N1 viruses.

6/12/2009

Straits Times wins 2 Asian publishing awards

2 premier awards, one for Excellence in Reporting Breaking News and one for Excellence in Business Reporting. And the winners were Carolyn Hong, Reme Ahmad and Leslie Lopez! How come the names are so unfamiliar? Oh, they are our correspondents and bureau chief in KL. And the news they covered was the Malaysian General Election. I thought our local correspondents covering our General Election were equally deserving for the voluminous pages they put out during the election. And the news were fresh from the oven. In the citation for the KL correspondents, the judges praised them for 'smart, balanced election reporting'. Ok, we missed the chance this time. Maybe next year we will win some awards for the coverage on the Aware Saga. This was the hottest news of the year with great interests from the people and working up the senses and sensibilities. It was some news that was really newsworthy.

Foreigners are grabbing properties again!

I was wondering whether to put this in the thread, 'Signs of Progress' or 'Signs of Decline'? Property prices are sure to surge. Property developers will be laughing all the way to the banks. The govt will also be laughing as it will be able to launch more new sites for sales. Property owners, especially the private properties, will be in glee. This will trickle down to the HDB owners. Yes everyone will be happy if they are already property or HDB flat owners. Can charge higher rentals too. What about those young people who have yet to buy a HDB flat? No worry. If cannot afford 3rm, buy 2 rm flats. Buy according to how deep is your pocket. See, everyone will have a roof over their head. And it will be still Swiss standard, though smaller. And the advantage is that smaller area to clean. Progress!

6/11/2009

The pros and cons of LKY in Malaysia

Despite the years of battling him and attacking him, there is a big change in the mood of the younger Malaysian leaders towards him. They have disagreed, opposed each other, and fought, but on the personal level they still respect this towering leader of 50 years in power. They could see his wealth of knowledge and want to know how he sees and reads the political trends, and how to bring a country forward in economic, social and political developments. From the reports coming out from Malaysia, the visit LKY is well appreciated and seen positively as a great statesman wanting to share and understand what is going on in Malaysia, and the importance of Malaysia Singapore relations. This love hate relations aside, the presence of LKY in Malaysia is probably a bigger event than if an American president were to be there. On the cons side, his immense presence still overshadows the rest of the younger Singapore leaders. As long as he is around, all the attention will go to him. Everyone will want to listen to him, talk to him, be seen with this mammoth leader of the 20th Century stretching into the 21st Century. In many ways this is bad for the younger leaders to grow and be their own men, carving out a presence for themselves. They will have a hard time breaking out of the canopy of this huge tree, to be seen. As long as the thick canopy is there, you can't really see what is beneath, or even notice anything there. The fortunate thing in Malaysia is the parting of ways with Mahathir to let the younger leaders more breathing space to choose their own destiny. The continued presence of LKY in the Singapore leadership is a blessing, as well as a curse in a way, to the younger leadership here.

6/10/2009

LKY in Malaysian Tour. What a pity?

LKY is in Malaysia, touring the states and meeting the Malaysian leaders from the govt and the opposition. He is there to feel the ground, cultivate new relationships with the new leaders. Yes, it is a pity that he is doing it. It should be Hsien Loong doing it. Hsien Loong needs it more than him. He is history in the making. What will happen now is that he will tell the Malaysian leaders about Hsien Loong. And Hsien Loong will hear from him about the Malaysian leadership. All second hand news instead of Hsien Loong feeling the pulse himself and developing a new relationship with the people he has to deal with during his term in office. There is nothing better than being there himself, and assess the situation and mood himself. Who is in charge?

6/09/2009

What charity or charity from who?

While some quarters of the population are heaving a sigh of relief with the handouts from the govt, one may want to ask what charity and where were the money coming from? From taxation, profits from ministries, stats boards, GLCs? From CPF? Imagine a pool of 2 million workers contributing an average of $500 pm to the CPF, from both employer and employee, this will come to $1b a month or $12b a year!(on a 12 mth basis). And this money is to be kept almost forever, or at least some, till the contributor is dead. Put it another way, it is the people lending money to CPF/govt. After knocking out the interests of 2.5/4%, if there is a profit of 2%, that is $240m annually. Ok, after the recent debacle, there could be negative profits or even losses. But if there is no unduly high risk investment, a 2 or 3% profit over the interest payable to the contributors should not be an issue. The point I am making is that the people is contributing to their own charity just by the CPF contribution alone, not even touching on the revenue of the state which is also the people's money.

6/08/2009

An apathetic populace is good

50th Year: An apathetic people Affluent, educated, yes - but we've also become a dispassionate people with little interest in politics and the government; it augurs ill for nation-building. By Seah Chiang Nee. June 6, 2009 The above article is posted in www.littlespeck.com. I would like to modify that statement a little by looking at it positively. A dispassionate people with little interest in politics and the govt augurs well for a paternalistic govt that would want to dominate over the people, controlled them and make all the decisions for them. It also augurs well for the preservation of a single dominant party and hinders the political maturity of a people. It will always be the govt and the people on two sides, the governed and the being governed. Is this good? I never believe that nurtured or cultured greenhouse plants can withstand the elements when the roof collapses. They need a sheltered environment and artificial fertilisers to grow well.

Lower income groups are having it so good

It is reported that their income increased from $1,200 pm in 2006 to $1,310 pm in 2008, a whooping increase of $110 in 2 years. Wow, wow, their lives must have been made better by the $110 pm raise. And it is computed that 3 roomers enjoyed a real wage increase per annum of 3.5% after factoring in inflation. And with all the govt support, handouts, give aways, etc, etc, what more can one ask for. The only people probably will be complaining are those earning $100k pm or more. For the economic crisis cuts across all income groups and the higher income earners were not spared. I can hear them cursing that their income increased only by $100k instead of $200k. For the lower income group this is something to celebrate and pop the champagne comes National Day.

6/07/2009

Live well and die well

Many of you must have heard of the story that life should begin at 90 and ended when we become a baby, the reverse order of things. Maybe I should modify this a little to 70-0, starting at 70 and finishing at 0. At 70, quite a few would still be able to live a good life with body parts still functioning, with a lot of cash to spend and by the time they have enjoyed their life, it is time to retire as a baby, to be cuddle and pampered. That would be a good ending instead of all the old hags living but not living, becoming a burden to themselves, their family and the state. Under the present system and condition, don't ever wish to live past 70 if you don't have money. For you will need an overhaul of your whole body system and get the major parts changed. And you bet, most of you cannot afford it. If you can't you will ended up like stray dogs and cats, abandoned or neglected, and left to watch the world passes by in the void decks. But not to worry, especially the younger people. The govt will help you to plan for a life when you can live till 90 or even 100, and with a lot of money left to spend. The catch is that you will not have much to spend when you are young and healthy. You need to spread your income to 100 years. Which is a better choice, enjoy when you are young and can, and die well, or abstain from enjoying or living well, to live longer and drag on to 100? I think we need a whole rethink on the meaning of life, the meaning of savings, and the meaning of extending life unnecessarily. The latter could be a long and miserable journey to many, with money but just cannot do anything, except lying in bed. Is that a good life, a good way to live the last part of one's life? Do we really need to save so much for a time when we only need a bed to lie down and nothing else?

6/06/2009

Notable quotes; Vladimir Putin on greed and hostage

'You have made thousands of people hostage to your ambitions, your lack of professionalism - or maybe simply your trivial greed.' Vladimir Putin Putin used these words to humiliate a top oligarch for causing a crisis in a town all because of greed. Take a moment to ponder over this statement and ask how relevant it is to our context. How many people have been made hostages by greed in paradise? How many policies could fall into the same category? I think we all know what they are. No point mentioning as people will not be happy to be told the truth. This year we will be celebrating 50 years of self rule, not independence. Is there a difference? Definitely, but I have dealt with this earlier. Let's look at the 50 years of success and 50 years to go full circle and probably going backwards. When PAP came to power in 1959, there were great promises of independence and a better life. And PAP delivered. And still delivering, except that some roads were leading to paradise and some to little chicken coops. Singaporeans have gone through living in little cubicles, attap and zinc roof wooden houses. We progressed to modern housing. There was a time when everyone was looking forward to better housing, 3 rm to 4 rm, to 5 rm, executive flats, condos and private housing. The govt even promised a future of a Swiss standard of living. There were high expectations and an air of confidence. The govt delivered. Many have attained Swiss standard of living and better. It is distressing to see that instead of continuing on that same path, the promises of tomorrow is no longer the Swiss standard of living but smaller housing, 2 rm and 3rm flats, at exorbitant prices. Are we promising a new standard, the Hongkong standard of living when a 50 sq m flat is considered a luxury apartment? The hard fact now is that people cannot afford the expensive public flats. So instead of bringing down the prices, they bring down the size of the flats, plus extended repayment terms. Why exorbitant prices? Why would people have to pay a life time, held at ransom for a life time, for a 2 rm or 3 rm flat, or any public flat, 4 rm or 5m? In today's paper, the Americans are buying landed properties costing only US$100k or less. Some in not so good condition could be had for US$10k and could be repaid in 2-3 years. Ok, different country, different conditions. They have big land, more choices and big problems. But these do not escape the fact that average Singaporeans still got to pay a life time for a small little space which they don't even own. I am not referring to the 20% who are living in paradise like lifestyle. We are a country, a nation. The people were with the govt for the last 50 years and prospered. What would be the future when the people, I mean the hardlanders, the majority of the people, feel that they have been left out of the prosperity boom? The basics, like decent housing, which I believe is a 4rm flat, not getting smaller, should be the standard for the average Singaporeans, to be affordable and not having to pay a life time for it. Now we are regressing, going down and smaller, while the other end is going up and bigger. If the govt is all calculative in the dollar sense, in housing policies, why shouldn't the people be calculative in sacrificing for the country, eg National Service. Can the value of NS be quantified in monetary terms, or should it be quantified in monetary terms? The people must see that their sacrifice is worth it, that there is a better tomorrow to look forward to. Are we heading that way? Would the next slogan of the govt be like, we will build more affordable 2 rm and 3 rm flats for the people? Or will it still be the dream of a Swiss standard of living?

6/05/2009

How to recover Temasek's billion dollar losses

Bad timing is the main cauee for the big losses that Temasek sufferred. Too eager to buy and too eager to cut losses summed up the events that are now the talk of the town. Buy high and sell low! These are decisions made by the best financial managers that money can buy. On hindsight, many will be asking, 'Is that the best that Temasek could do?' Anyway, it is money under the bridge. Gone. But not to worry. Another big cause to the big losses was the hollowing of our own stock market when huge money were park in the US and Europe instead. This lack of interests in our own blue chips, which Temasek has quite a huge portfolio, allowed these stocks to be dumped to less than half their values at the worst time. Now with the realisation that we should cover our backside while venturing into unknown territories, money is now being ploughed back into our stock market. And we are seeing some rapid surges in the value of our battered blue chips. Another way to raise more money and improve the bottom line is to offer more rights issues. Soon all the money lost will be made back from our own market and from our own investors. Our investors will help to boost up the bottom line and make up for the losses. This is the comparative advantage of being the big boy in the local market, the knowledge and control over how things are and will be. Wall Street is like a jungle infested with thugs and robbers. There is safety on home ground. How come we didn't think of that in the first place? Will the flirtation with the American dream end? Will we still throw money after all the great American financial gurus to bring home the bacon?

6/04/2009

Recruit more Arab talents

The best foreign talents in finance are not found in Wall Streets or any European cities. These people make money by cooking the books. The real talents are in the Middle East. The Arab sovereign funds are making billions while we are losing billions. What more to say. Quick quick, send our recruitment team there and stop wasting money recruiting from the US or UK.

Long term investment turning short term

In the stockbroking industry, many short term traders who punted in the market often ended with their short term positions becoming long term. This happens when their positions turn bad and they have to pick up the shares or face immediate losses. Temasek is adopting a different strategy. From long term to short term in their investments. Bad long term investments will be cut. Yesterday it announced another cut, selling its long term stake in Barclay Bank barely a year or two after putting a few billions into it. Here the loss is between 500-600 million pounds or more than a billion $S. This is the second cut loss by Temasek after pulling selling out its Merrill Lynch stake in Bank of America. Wonder how much was the total loss in Merrill Lynch? Now which one will be next to be cut? At the rate it is going, all its long term investments will become short term. What is left? UBS, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley? Will they be cut as well? I don't think any MP will be raising questions on these investments. Probably they will be busy lecturing Low Thia Khiang how to rebuild his Workers Party to fight the next GE.

Parliament is having a break

Geese, without the entertainment from Parliament, news is getting a bit dull. I hope Low Thia Khiang would review carefully the lessons and lectures he received in Parliament and come back prepared to take on the matrons. One thing I hope he will do is to issue a challenge to the good hearted MPs who have been teaching him how to be a politician and invite them to contest in Hougang, one to one, to prove who is being simplistic. The result will be a great testimony on what is real.

6/03/2009

Motor insurance premium increased by 400%!

Just read a reply from Pui Phusangmook, SVP & GM NTUC Income, to the claim by Tan Boon Tong that his repair bill was high, $19,800. The photos shown in the ST today, of the damage car in the workshop and those shown yesterday were grossly different. But that was not my concern. I am startled by the comment that Tan Boon Tong's insurance premium had gone up by 400% because of the insurance claim. Actually no, I was not startled by this. I was shocked that his insurance premium would have gone up by 30% on renewal even if he has not make any claims. Wow! 30% increases in premium for nothing! Is this robbery or what? Motorists just have to pay. What choice have they got? Go shopping and compare prices from one insurer to the next? Can they get their insurance from Malaysia?

Great Singapore Sales going to HDB flats

Fernvale Crest, sounded like some place in Bukit Timah, very high end. No it is at the junction of Jalan Kayu and Sengkang West Way. Oops, Jalan Kayu, Sengkang! Anyway, it is BTO, so the design and quality must be good and the price, oh at a great discount, very affordable. They are cheaper by 35-45% from others in the vicinity. Now, isn't it a steal? 2 rm from $74k-$98k, 3 rm from $116k-$157k and 4 rm from $203k-$250k. Cheap, cheap and cheap. Less than 10 years ago, 4 rm flats probably cost about $120k. It depends on what you are comparing. Go to the big shopping centres offering the Great Singapore Sales. Many have jacked up their prices only to bring it down as a great discount. That is ingenuity in pricing. Don't worry about the pricing. Fernvale Crest is going to be our new standard for a Swiss Standard of living.

6/02/2009

CASE is working on the abuses in motoring insurance

Motorists should be heartened by CASE's involvement in the motoring insurance scam. It is reported that CASE will be setting up a review committee this month to look into the problem. High time. One suggestion is for motorists to make statutory declarations of an accident. This of course will bring about more costs and time involvement. The question is, why is a police report not enough and a statutory declaration is deemed necessary? Can anyone make a false police report? I believe it is criminal and the person can be charged in court for doing so. What I think is necessary is not to add more layers of administrative work and protective measures. The current procedure may be adequate. What it needs is enforcement and a team of people assigned to deal with it and make an example of a few cases of frauds, charged the culprits and send them to jail. That will send a strong signal to the crooks in the scam. How ridiculous it is to pay $5000 pa or $400 a month just on insurance to have the right to drive a car? Many people may not even drive 10 days a month and it means they will have to pay $40 daily for it. ERP is expensive, what about insurance cost? This is a big rip off! We are going into the realm of madness.

My words are getting prophetic

In no time I will be calling myself a prophet. Yesterday I was mumbling about the great news that patients would be paying less for hospital bills from their pocket but expect higher contributions to their Medisave. Even before the ink was dry, or before the sound of the keyboard faded away, news was out. CPF Minimum sum raised to $117,000 and Medisave Account raised to $32,000. And ceiling for Medisave is also raised to $37,000. If medical cost is not hauled back, looks like no immortals or demigods can do it, the people must be prepared to keep pumping more money into their Medisave. Now the rich citizens of Singapore have $149,000 in the lockup. The other prophetic statement I made earlier was my guess that the Malaysian Special Branch could actually be awared of Mas Selamat's whereabout in Malaysia long ago. Now it is in the paper, that they knew from the day he arrived in Malaysian soil. I am a prophet!

6/01/2009

Sin Boon Ann apologised

Actually I was very disappointed. I am sure Sin Boon Ann did not make his comments out of nothing. Ok, quoting an unnamed source from the internet was a mistake. But was there biased reporting? Ok, don't use the word biased, but was the coverage fair? With Han Fook Kwang's admission that they could have done better, would Sin Boon Ann won his case should it be taken to court? In this case, with the privilege of speaking in Parliament, he would not have to go that path. What would happen if Sin Boon Ann insists that what he said was a fair comment? Was his apology just for quoting an unnamed source or was it an apology for saying that ST was biased in reporting which he then believed it was wrong and could not be substantiated?

Great savings on surgery bills!!!

'From today, you could pay $1,950 less for a knee replacement surgery and a six day hospital stay in a Class A ward - thanks to the increase in Medisave withdrawal limits for surgeries, which will reduce out of pocket expenses for patients.' This is the first paragraph of Neo Chai Chin's article on surgery bills in the Today paper. My 92 year old mother will jump with jubilation. She will even exclaimed, 'wow, free, so cheap!' To her, CPF money, Medisave money is not her money. It is money from somewhere that she did not know. So spending all the CPF money, all the Medisave money is alright. In a way it is true, afterall, one cannot touch the money unless one is so 'sway' to be struck by a serious illness. Then only one has the privilege to empty it from the Medisave Account. Otherwise, it is not your money to use. So, is this what reducing medical cost is all about? Or is it now cast in stone that medical cost cannot come down, will not come down, and the only way is to find other ways for the patients to pay, and the best way is to pay through the Medisave account. Don't take from the right pocket, take from the back pocket. So what's next, CPF not enough, Medisave not enough. We need to raise the contribution in the Medisave Account. The Medisave Account of the people are being depleted so fast, like the CPF, that they have not enough money for retirement and to pay medical bills. Raise the Medisave Account to $200K! That should do for a while.