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4/30/2010

Do we need losers and rejects in Parliament?

Parliament is where the elected representatives of the people sit to discuss national issues and decide on what should be done for the good of the people. Do we then need losers, people who are rejected by the people, or people who are not elected by the people, to sit there and engage in schoolboy debate? This schoolboy debate was not coined by me. It was reported in the media. What is the point of debating when they cannot decide anything? What is the point of being in Parliament when they don't represent anyone except themselves? If they want to speak out, share their views, won't starting a blog be simpler and be sure of being heard, every word, with commas and fullstops? What kind of Parliament do we want? A Parliament of elected representatives or a make belief group of representatives representing no one?

China is doomed. What about Europe?

Everyday one cannot escape the deluge of doomsayer's reports about the imminent collapse of China. China is plagued by all kinds of enormous problems and troubles that it is only a matter of days before it falls down like a house of cards. Not only western media are at it, even local media are also at it. These are the China experts and their intelligent opinions. What about Europe? What about America? Nay, these are the world's best managed countries, and they are all in the G8 and the G20. What about the PIGS? It means Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, what's happening there? Oops, I think PIGs should be spelt PIIGS, to include Iceland. Heard that these countries are at the verge of collapse, just like the US? And some are talking about a dominoe effect when one by one, countries in the EU will just collapse. Maybe some are already except that they are not discovered, or still kept under seal. Maybe they are waiting for China to collapse first. If China does not collapse, none of the European country can collapse. China must come first.

4/29/2010

A higher god descended on paradise

Why did we invite a higher god to mark our report cards on how well we are doing? Is it because we believe that we have done so well and the higher god will be so impressed that he will go back to the kingdom of gods with a glowing report of the fabulous job that we have done. Now our demigods are in for a little nasty surprise when the higher god is not so impressed. And some recommendations were made by the higher god on how we could do better. One of the most sensitive area touched on by the higher god is race and affirmative actions. Our feathers were ruffled for sure. Maybe our demigods would like to ask this higher god how well he did in his own backyard? Did they add 20% or 30% to the marks of their minorities so that more of them could go to universities? Or are their minorities as able and affluent as our minorities? How about their own inter racial/religious relations? Also, they may want to check the credentials of these higher gods. Do they have straight As or do they got their straight As also by affirmative actions? Higher gods that got to become gods through affirmative actions cannot hold a candle to our demigods who got their supertalent credentials on their own merits.

An interesting affordable table

New HDB flats still affordable mah! And this is the table provided by Mah Bow Tan. 2 rm $100k Median household income $1,380 3 rm $162k Median household income $2,100 4 rm $263k Median household income $4,100 5 rm $338k Median household income $5,300 Below is the price and income level in 1974 of mine. 3 rm $18k Median household income $1,500 4 rm $22k Median household income $1,800 5 rm $27.5k Median household income $2,500 Of course Mah Bow Tan is right. The flats in 1974 and the flats today are all affordable. It is how much one is paying and getting in return. Money getting smaller or quality of housing improving? The flats that the people are getting are worth every cent they paid for it, then and today. Are the life of the people getting better? Swiss standard of living in price? Is this what is meant by being better off? Maybe it is not fair to use 1974 statistics. Let’s be honest, even 1984 or 1994 statistics are not fair. We should use something more recent, like 1995 or 1996, to be relevant. I can project that in the future a $10,000 household income would probably afford only a 2 rm flat. And I will call it affordable still. As for today, a $2,500 household income could only afford a 3 rm flat while a $2,500 income could afford a 5 rm flat in the past. So please do not disagree with Mah Bow Tan that the flats are now unaffordable. He is absolutely right. The flats today are affordable and will be affordable even in the future. Maybe then for the same money one will get a dog’s kennel and pay in 100 years.

4/28/2010

How about a Tombang Scheme?

I would like to take up on what Kan Seng said about making the cake bigger so everyone can have a share of it. How about turning this NCMP scheme into a bigger scheme called the Tombang Scheme? The Tombang Scheme shall work this way. The best losers in a constituency or GRC shall be made NCMPs. In this way we can have 84 elected MPs and 84 NCMPs. Then we will have good quality debates in Parliament. And the ruling party has nothing to fear as when voting on any issue is needed, they could easily win by 84-0. The voters knowing that there will be guaranteed with oppositions in Parliament will just vote for the best party and the best party will likely get all the 84 MPs in. And we have a bigger cake to share with the opposition parties. And the opposition party MPs can make all the noises they want in Parliament. This could be an improved system from what we are having now. And if the NCMPs can prove that they are really good, the voters will vote for them in the future. This is good for the country, surely. It gives the people a chance to observe and assess the NCMPs before voting them in. Good huh?

Parliamentary debate is not schoolboy debate

How so? What is the difference between a parliamentary debate and a schoolboy debate. Let me figure. In the case of a school boy debate, the opposing teams will debate for or against an issue. And they stood by their positions. If they were to vote, both sides will vote accordingly. In a parliamentary debate, you can have opposing sides debating until their faces turned red or green. But when comes to voting, all can vote for one side. Then one starts wondering, why? There were two parties arguing and strongly believing in what they said. Then how come when they have to take sides, all took only one side? This is what parliamentary debate is all about. You just debate for the sake of debating, but they don't mean a thing. One can say no but vote yes. So I say, parliamentary debate is not schoolboy debate.

Let's be honest, its schoolboy debate

There were many clever arguments in Parliament yesterday in particular over the issue of NCMPs. The media lauded it as brilliant debate. I scratch my head and say, huh? Shanmugam told Sylvia Lim, Let's be honest, that the WP was afraid that their arguments in the election campaign could not last the scrutiny of a one day cooling period. I was waiting for Sylvia to say, Let's be honest, if the PAP could not convince the electorate after seven days of campaigning, one day of cooling would not help either. Let's be honest, for those who have made up their minds, one day of cooling period will not make any difference. And if it is really for people to think through carefully after what were said during the campaign, would one day be sufficient? Why not 3 days or 7 days? But I am going down to the level of schoolboy debate. And let's be honest, how many voters would really sit down and review what were said and take out a piece of paper to jot down the points before deciding who to vote for. Let's be honest, I do not see what is the dif with or without the one day cooling off period. No need clever arguments and going to Parliament over something that is so arbitrary. Let' be honest I can't find anything clever in the whole debate.

4/27/2010

A remarkable comment

'...more Opposition voices might not improve the quality of Parliamentary debate.' With the standard of debate so high, not necessary really. I can agree with that. But I can't agree with the suggestion that the time given to NCMPs for debates be limited. What, NCMP cannot debate or not good enough to debate? How can a Parliamentary debate be meaningful if the NCMPs are not given the same time to debate with other MPs? Ok, NCMPs don't represent anyone so should not be given too much time. This sounds more reasonable. Let's give them enough time just to ask questions. That should be good enough. Aren't the purpose of NCMPs be that they be there to give an alternative voice? They can't vote and the only thing for them to do is to speak. Limiting their time to speak defeats the whole purpose of them being there. Wall flowers?

What problem is this?

‘This govt is truly hopeless. Not only has it squandered billions and billions on stupid schemes it has now allowed the property market to rise to unsustainable levels and create a disastrous lack of availability of homes. It has been aware of the DRAMATIC increase in overseas investment in residential property but wanted to shaft all those ignorant sheeple aka 'working families' even further. It's time to contact your local senator and demand they put an end to the rest of their mad plans. No more looking after foreigners before Australians. No more overseas property investors when Australians can not even purchase homes. No more large unskilled migration when Australians can not find work. No more supporting welfare shopping asylum seekers when Australian pensioners can barely afford food. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.’ The above was reported in news.com.au. There is an uncanny similarity in what is happening in the Australian property scene and what is happening here. But the difference stops right there. The Australians are really facing a serious problem and they are very unhappy with the govt. On the contrary, we don’t really have any problem. If there is any problem, it is a happy one. The people are all laughing to the bank and inviting more foreigners to invest in our properties here. It is a win win situation. The foreigners speculate and make money from their property speculations. The Singaporeans are all happy that their properties are gaining in value. There are no losers. This is the big difference and the quality of the govt shows. We are so fortunate to have a good govt that could turn an otherwise bad situation into a happy one. Thumbs up to the govt, especially Mah Bow Tan, for making so many Singaporeans rich and happy, and to the property speculators too, both foreign and local. The Australians need to send a team of their govt officials to study how we did it.

It was fun and good for a laugh

Several PAP MPs spoke strongly against the principle behind NCMP and NMP. They ridiculed it as a backdoor entry to Parliament, elected by nobody, representing nobody and speaking for nobody. Basically they opposed the scheme. So did Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim who opposed it for basically the same reasons. The inconsistency and contradictory stand of the opposition MPs were picked up by Kan Seng who questioned Low Thia Khiang on his inconsistent stand. Why opposing a scheme and still support it? Ya, how silly for people to oppose an issue on grounds of principle and support it still. Low Thia Khiang stood his ground and said he would resign if his party wants him to take up a NCMP position if he lost his election. And all the MPs had a good laugh. It was all fun, and wayang I supposed. Well at least Low Thai Khiang stood to his principle. This is something that is hard to come by. What about the NCMPs and NMPs who were lambasted for being backdoor entrants? The criticisms thrown at them were unkind and rude in many ways, lack of credibility and speaking for nobody except themselves. Did the NCMPs and NMPs stand up to defend their pathetic positions? Or did they allow the attacks to go on and accept that the criticisms were valid, that they don't really have any right or business to be there? Actually they were not the only ones to get in by the backdoor. Many got in in the same way and crowed like a cockerel that they were more equal than the NCMPs and NMPs. In reality they were there, by back door or front door, because of the system. It is the system that puts them there. And who voted for the system, the same cocks and hens who criticised the system. Is this also a joke or another wayang?

4/26/2010

Is my impression correct?

Reading from the interviews with PAP MPs as reported in the ST, I got this impression that the PAP MPs do not think highly of backdoor MPs, ie NCMPs and NMPs. Does this implies that they do not agree with the system of bringing in non elected MPs, representing nobody, into Parliament? If this is so, would they dare to vote against the bill that is planning to increase the number of non elected MPs? Or would they just go along and vote for it despite expressing strong misgivings and being condescending to those backdoor MPs? Calvin Cheng is a great example of this 'disagree but be part of the system' syndrome. He accepted the appointment as a backdoor MP but spoke against it. Could we find people who will stand by their principles, take a stand on issues or things they don't agree and lump them? Or is this how our pragmatic people have been brought up to be, don't agree never mind lah, just accept it, kpkb a bit for show, and just play along? Is being strong about one's principle an important factor in a person's character or value system?

Should HDB dwellers pay property tax?

With the property prices shooting to the sky, many HDB owners are also celebrating their good fortunes for sitting in an ever appreciating property. Quietly in another corner the Inland Revenue is also celebrating as property tax will go up accordingly. And for those who cannot capitalise on their good fortunes, cause they only have that property to live in, they can only smile when reading how much their properties are worth now, but at the same time seeing their property taxes going up in real terms. The question is whether HDB dwellers should be paying property tax at all as their flats are technically on 99 year rental. The 99 year HDB leasehold is very different from a private 99 year leasehold that does not come with so many restrictions and regulations. It straddles somewhere between a genuine leasehold and a rental flat and the property tax paid should be much lower than what it is. For the moment I am not too sure of the formula. Is it based on rental potential or the market value of the flat? Even if it is based on rental value, different location fetches different rentals and most units cannot be fully sublet. The most sore group would be those that are living in their HDB flats but ended having to pay ever higher property taxes while not benefitting from any rental income. So, is higher value really good?

4/25/2010

The Helix, a piece of art

The Helix is a piece of art good for walking on. Its utility value as a bridge is nothing more or less than placing two pieces of planks across the river. But looking at it from the point of view of a functional piece of art, one may agree that it is money well spent. Look at the surroundings, the Marina Sands, the new business and financial centre and all the glitz in this new downtown of the future, anything less will not be befitting of a place there. Definitely not two pieces of planks for sure. We have in the Helix a piece of engineering that deserved the time and money spent on it. And from the angle of arts, now we have a major piece of object to show the world. As a young chap, I had done many pieces of scrap metals trying to make them resemble art forms but to no avails. Little engineering skills and cheap material just would not do. You need high tech and good material to make it look really good. The closest piece of scrap art that my creation could match was the piece facing the NTUC building in Finlayson Green. I really hope that our workers have better taste in art appreciation than to put a piece of scrap metal in front of their multi million dollar headquarter. Well, it is just my layman impression of what a piece of scrap metal is. For the sophisticated art connoisseurs, that piece could still be a great piece of art and worth millions. I try imagining placing that piece side by side with the Helix and see the reaction of the public, layman who could not appreciate the beauty of objet d'art and could not see the difference between a piece of scrap and a piece of art. Their reaction, spontaneous, would be the best judge of what the two pieces symbolise. We have removed the slums and replaced them with pieces of fine arts. Soon we will have an open air museum and the tourists can go on a conducted tour downtown to look at the art pieces on the road sides.

The Chinese and Aussies are doing it

The Chinese may not be seen as a smart and sophisticated people vis a vis the Westerners in many areas, and particularly in finance. Whatever the Chinese are doing, the world will look at it with a sceptical eye. And Singaporeans too would not look up to the Chinese for things to emulate. When the Chinese started to curb their property bubble, we would probably say some silly things about it or simply ignore it. They did not know what they were doing. Peasants! But the Chinese have genuine fear that the skyrocketing property prices could derail their economy and possible social unrest. And they are doing all they can to curb this euphoria where the rich would get richer and the poor poorer. Never mind the Chinese. Now the Australians are also implementing measures to prevent their own version of property bubble. My first impression is, what's the fuzz? Australia is an under populated continent and can build all the houses for its people unlike this little piece of rock. And we are telling our people not to worry, plenty of land and we could take in more foreigners to help us to occupy the limitless land that we have. We are geniuses in this field. What are the Australians saying? 'We want to make sure that Australian working families are not being priced out of their own family homes. That is why we have acted in the way in whcih we have done....We want to make sure that foreign speculators are not going to force up prices for Australians seeking to buy their own home, buy their first home and we think this is the right course of action.' Said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Would we listen to the Australians, after all they are the kind of people we envy and like to follow? Or are we going to say the Australians are stupid. Property speculation can being in huge profits to pay themselves crazy. It is good, clean and easy money. The money can be used for many wonderful things. The Helix is a great example of the things we could do with the money that we made. Instead of putting two pieces of planks across the river, we could choose to spend may be hundreds of millions to put up the Helix. Both serving the same function. But one is just two pieces of cheap wood and another is a big piece of art where the people go 'Wow, wow, awesome!' I think it is a case of priorities. The Chinese and Australians share a common interest, to provide affordable housing for their people and not allowing speculators to make abundant profits to buy the next ten properties and then to buy the next 100 properties to grow their wealth. And we too share this interest, to provide affordable housing to our people as well. The only difference is that we did it so well that speculation and high property prices are welcomed. And our people are happy about it. No complains and no social unrest in the making. Maybe we can lend them our super talents to teach them how to do it and make all the easy money and keeping the people happy as well.

4/24/2010

Ah Long to the rescue

The on going tussle between Fifa and our telcos does not seem to be going well. How could it be when one party has so much money overflowing out of its pocket and the other with salivas dripping all over and can't wait to lay its hands on the loot? Today the ST has reported that many parts of Singapore can receive the same broadcasts from Malaysia and Indonesia. That would mean part of the problem is solved or can be solved. No need to be held at ransom by Fifa anymore. And since we have the money, and money can solve all kinds of problems, let's see if our side is ingenious enough to seek the assistance of Ah Longs. No need to pay Fifa hundreds of millions of dollars. Just pay the Ah Longs $20m and he could easily come out with an amicable solution. Let me guess what $20m could do in the hands of Ah Longs. One, he could place them in the hands of his associates in Malaysia and Indonesia and get them to boost up the power of their broadcasts to enable Singaporeans to have good quality reception during the World Cup. Alternatively they could buy a booster and park it somewhere in the island to boost up the broadcasts of Malaysia and Indonesia during the game. Either way, Singaporeans will be able to watch their football live, at marginal cost to all. Win win solution the Ah Long way. Ah Long can be useful sometimes: )

No backdoor MPs

Parliament is geared up for hot debates in the next sitting when the issue of more NCMPs and NMPs are up for debate. I hope it will not degenerate into another question and answer session? I kind of fully agree with the remarks and sentiments of MPs expressed in the ST today. Why make a fuss of having more NCMPs and NMPs when what is needed is quality and not quantity? And why all these backdoor MPs? They don't represent anyone. MPs must be elected by the people, not entering Parliament by the backdoors through all kinds of schemes. An MP that is not elected by the people, is not elected by the people. Period. We need the people to ink in the ballot paper that this is the MP that they want to represent them. Without that, where is the consent of the people to say the MP represents them? NCMPs and NMPs did not earned their place in Parliament. I fully agree with all the MPs who think so. So what's the big deal to be in Parliament? I hope the MPs will take a strong stand in Parliament to remove all the NCMPs and NMPs if they are real in how they feel about the schemes. Please don't just ask questions and take the answers as the end of the story. Fight for your beliefs. If anyone don't think highly of the NCMPs and NMPs, say so when they have the chance to do so, in Parliament.

4/23/2010

MAS asking for views on fund management operations

The MAS is reviewing the rules for fund management here and will like to 'consult the public within the next two weeks on proposals to enhance our regulatory regime, to ensure that it remains sound and responsive to the changing needs of the various stakeholders in the fund management industry'. I just have a few comments on this. The presence of fund management here must be for the good of the industry and not here just to suck away all the money from the innocent local investors by unfair practices in the form of preferential rules and regulations, use of technology, sheer size, unfair advantages etc etc. The MAS must ensure a level playing field for all players, big and small. The current practices of different commission rates, no commission rates for house trades giving them an outrageous unfair advantage over small traders must be reviewed. If this is not change, the small traders do not stand a chance and will be sent to the cleaners like many that are already hung and dried. The use of computer technology, programme trading that give the funds an advantage over the small traders too is grossly unfair. Script lendings for funds to exploit their trading strategies against the small investors is another thing that needs to be reviewed. It is different to say that small investors can also borrow scripts to short the market. The volume and tenacity when funds short the market can create havoc and fear among the small investors. Conflicts of interest is another dicey area that must be addressed. Funds buying and selling against clients or trading against clients interests, churning reports to buy when they are selling or vice versa. More bites against auditors or managers of IPOs to ensure that they do a professional job. So far they are getting away scot free when newly listed companies turned turtle within a few years or even months on listing despite the glowing reports and writeups during IPO launches. There are many more areas that the experts and regulators should know best to take this opportunity to provide a fair and equitable trading platform for all stakeholders, big or small. For the moment, the small traders are dead ducks waiting to be served at the dinner table.

Fatuous lust for foreign talents

Thou shalt not cast lusting glances at thy neighbour's talents. But if we do not do so then soon we will sink into the Straits of Singapore. In an island where there is a dearth of talents, only with the influx of foreign talents can we ever think of making it to the next generation. And this must keep going and going. While will are lusting at the foreign talents of other countries, now India is making us an offer that we cannot resist. They are willing to sacrifice their talents for us. They are saying, please take more of our talents. With this offer, all our local banks and GLCs will have no problem filling up all the MD positions. What India should propose is to swap their political talents with ours. One of our political talent for 100 of India's political talents. That should be a reasonable equation given the fact that our political talents are world best. And we can even expand our Parliament, providing more quality jobs for politicians. Make politicians and politiking a profession, with good salary, annual increments, route of advancement, promotion, and of course pension for life. When this is put in place, we will have the best politicians the world can find. Then we can do what India is doing, exporting our political talent to boost our GDP.

4/22/2010

Trading talents

I read somewhere that one of the terms for more trades with India is that Singapore must take in more of their talents as a condition. I think this is a brilliant idea. Singapore shall use this model to negotiate with other countries where there is an abundance of talents by offering trade in exchange for their talents. There are many countries with a big supply of talents that they cannot make use of and are most willing to export to this talent dearth island. It will be a win win formula. We get all the talents that we need, and they get to get rid of all the talents they don't need. And the cream is that there will be more trade both ways. Great deals. America, Europe, Japan, even China and Indonesia all have plenty of talents that we need. And don't forget Malaysia too. We can change our tourist logo from Your Singapore to Your Talents. Come visit and see your talents working and prospering here.

An issue of right and popular

Sin Boon Ann shared some of his thoughts and angst for being an MP and having to make decisions that border between right and popular in an article in Today paper. He quoted the issue of building rental flats in his ward and the conflicting demands of his constituents to want to keep things as they are and not wanting the negative aspects of rental flats in their midst. Sin Boon Ann’s right in this case is about doing something that is necessary as against something that is popular. The building of rental flats in an estate is unpopular but right in the context of meeting the needs of people who can only rent. It is like locating a funeral parlour or crematorium in an estate. They have to be located somewhere if there is a need for it. Not your estate, then someone’s estate. I don’t thing the conflict between doing something right and popular is that big a problem. Why doesn’t he discuss about doing something which is right to the govt but not right to the people? Something which the govt think is right but the people don’t think so, or worst, affecting the people’s right? One good example is the people’s money in the CPF. The govt may think that it is right to keep the people’s money under all kinds of excuses, minimum sum, CPF Life, Medisave etc etc. What about the people’s right to their money and how to use and when to use their money? Don’t the people have any right or say to their money? In this case there is the people’s right versus the govt’s right on what is the right thing to do. Would Sin Boon Ann or any MP want to share their concern, views or misgivings or conscience prick on this issue? Just because the govt think that this is right, the right thing to do, it does not mean that the people also think so. And this issue is much more serious than the siting of rental flats.

The gag order

It is reported in the ST that a local club is going to impose a gag order on its members to prevent them from speaking about club matters to the public, otherwise disciplinary action will be taken against the member. Some other clubs interviewed too were surprised that this kind of thing is happening in this enlightened city with enlightened beings. Gagging means nothing said, nothing heard, so no problem. On second thought, I think it is a good idea. If no one is talking, there will be no issues to talk about, and all will be peace under heaven. It is only when people start to talk about an issue that an issue becomes and issue. Look at the internet, if there is no internet, many issues will be long forgotten. Today it is reported that Indonesia is trying to curb the growing influence of the internet, by gagging I supposed. Let's return to the old world of saying nothing, seeing nothing, hearing nothing and doing nothing. Life will definitely be better, and more peaceful. If anyone got murdered, let it be. Don't say anything, and no one will know about the murder. Then everyone will say, see, no murder. The world shall progress to the world of silent movies.

4/21/2010

A fare cut, a fare cut!

Public transport fare to go down by 2.5%, reported Today. Cheaper transport fare from July 3, reported mypaper. So we have a fare cut, a fare cut, or a fare hike! Which is which? I copied below extract from "Blowin' in the wind" blog for ease of comparison. The Straits Times reports public transport fares will dip by 2.5 per cent from July 3, but savings will vary from commuter to commuter. The fact is fares are going up --- appreciably for longer journeys. While the minimum fare for the first 3.2km on an airconditioned bus is going up by just two cents from 69 cents to 71 cents, commuters will have to pay up to 10 cents more for every kilometre after that. And it is going to make a difference. The longest trip now on an air-conditioned bus with an EZ-link card costs S$1.65 cents, according to the SBS Transit website. The same trip with the same card will cost S$1.94 from July 3, according to the Public Transport Council. So we have a fare cut for some and a fare hike for some. So, shall we call it a fare cut or a fare hike? Beats me really.

SGX asking for public views

The SGX is asking the public for views on whether it is ok to let banks become trading members, ie full time brokers to trade in stocks. Is this a fair proposition to ask the public? In the case of locking up the people's CPF savings through minimum sum, CPF Life, locking them up in the Medisave, the public's view was not sought. They just do it without any need for consultation when it should as the people would have a lot to say on their own money and things affecting them directly. The issues were then more easily understood. Here we have a financial issues that have implications and consequences beyond the layman in the street. Only the academics or finance professionals would be able to give any reasonable views and inputs. But these people are unlikely to waste their time as their time and effort are expensive. So who does SGX expect to respond to their invitation for views on such a technical issue? It will be more meaningful for Sheng Siong to ask the public if it is ok for them to take over the wet markets and change them into something else. It would be more meaningful if Teo Ho Pin and other MPs affected by this wet market issue to ask their constituents for views and feedback. The public can only make reasonable feedback on things that they can comprehend at their level. The talents at SGX should be in a better position to decide whether the banks should be allowed to dabble in stocks. Is there a conflict of interests? Should banks be allowed to deviate from their core business into other high risk areas? How would it affect the businesses of other financial institutions? Would there be unfair advantages or unlevel playing field? How would it affect the jobs in the industry? How would it affect the stock market as a whole? And there are many more issues related to this move, ethical, moral and administrative etc etc. The answer is best answered by the professionals paid to do the job.

Goldman Sachs made US$3.46 billion in a quarter

There you have it, the most profitable bank in the world. How could a bank make that kind of money in 3 months? What kind of business is it in? I don't think the most profitable casino can make this kind of money in three months. Must take out my hat to Goldman Sachs. And they too were recipients of public funds during the financial crisis, and nearly collapsed. How could the turnaround be so dramatic? I am very sure they are not doctoring their books. The profit must be real. So where did they make this kind of money? CDOs, hedge funds, stock markets? When they can make this kind of money, someone out there is losing big time. And many broking houses are recommending a buy on Goldman Sachs despite it being sued by the SEC. Who is wiser? It is good to believe that money can be made so easily. All the banks must adopt the Goldman Sachs business model if they want to make this kind of money.

4/20/2010

Selling the Singapore Brand

Walking into UOB's spacious banking hall in Battery Road as a customer is a new experience. No queue, everything a breeze. The atmosphere is like a big lounge for customers to spend a pleasant and easy time chatting with the bank officers. It is so friendly, no hassle. Banking is indeed a breeze. And I believe Wee Ee Cheong need not have to sweat to provide such a great experience for his customers. Any middle manager who cares and bothers, and put on his little thinking cap, could easily transform the procedures and processes into one that is sensitive to customer needs. Oh, I am not a customer of UOB, so I am not partial. If the CEO has to be bothered with such nitty gritties, then what the hell are the middle managers doing? No wonder UOB is number one. Customer friendly and making banking a great experience. UOB should franchise their procedures and market it to the world as the Singaporean Style of management, as a sought after product. With such quality services and processes, why the need to look further for foreign talent? The way UOB runs its banking hall operation is worthy as a case study for other banks. Good job UOB.

Chua Mui Hoong to the rescue

The spin that property prices are well managed and that there is no property bubble is given another positive take today. The high prices are good and probably planned to be that way. Chua Mui Hoong has said all that needs to be said, the govt has don't all the right things for the home owners. I remember a few days back that the CEO of DBS, Piyush Gupta, had said that there was already a bubble. So everyone can call it whatever they like, got bubble, no bubble, half bubble or quarter bubble, suit yourself. The fact is that the new buyers are going to be hanged if they don't have the money to buy a decent unit. But of course there are the affordable ones to suit their limited budget. No money don't complain, and don't expect too much. I could also presume that the state of the property market was all carefully calibrated to what it is today, prices, supply and demand. If this is the case, then I would say it is all under controlled and expected. Well done.

The great invitation by SDP

I read in the net that SDP had invited Teo Ho Pin to sign a joint letter in protest over the 30% hike in rent for wet market in Bukit Panjang. Teo Ho Pin flatly declined and said it was his constituency and he would know what to do to help his constituents. I will say nice try SDP. The invitation is as good as a still birth the moment it is conceived. How could Teo Ho Pin agree even it is a good thing or right thing to do? Anyway, the contituents in Bukit Panjang need not worry as Teo would surely come out with something to help them with the rental hike. Maybe some kind of subisidies are on the card. If not the residents going to market will just have to pay for the additional cost, all because of nothing but Sheng Siong taking over the wet market. And now it is market forces at work, for the good of the people. We need to erect an altar for market forces and pray to it everyday. The god of market forces need to be respected and prayed to for the well being of the people. Bow three times at the altar and three times a day, morning, noon and evening.

Learning from the great enlightening American experience

Goldman Sachs is being sued by the SEC for fraud, looting the innocent investors by manufacturing fraudulent scripts of papers and selling them as products. So it is now going to face the music. Wait a minute, who is Goldman Sachs? Oh it is an organisation, not an individual. So no one will be found guilty of any misdeeds. The organisation, an inanimate thing, will be found guilty and be made to pay for the losses or fine. This reminds me of the Lehman toxic notes fiasco. As usual, the inanimate thing will be found guilty. No one else is guilty. No one has done anything wrong, no decision made by anyone, it just happened. Oh, a few small guys or gals were made guilty, I think, in Hongkong. My goodness, the billions of dollars or trillions of dollars lost because of a systemic fraud created by a bunch of crooks and helped by an army of greedy accomplices across the world, and no one is at fault. This is something that we must learn from the Americans. Save and protect the individuals. Just put the blame on the organisation. And more frauds and lootings can be repeated in different forms and disguises. Kevin Scully, executive Chairman of NRA Capital said Obama's bank reform will put many banks under heavy scrutiny and regulation by the SEC and that the culprits of the fallout must be identified. But Kevin forgot that it was the SEC that needs to be placed under heavy scrutiny for allowing the looting to go on in the first place. They have been sleeping, yes sleeping with the crooks and looters all this while. And they pretend and act as if they have done no wrong and now waking up, standing up, to do the policing. What a bunch of crooks and their crooked deals.

4/19/2010

Bullying the young upstart

We are still waiting for the green light to watch the World Cup. Why is Fifa making it so difficult and expensive for us to watch the World Cup? Should there be an equitable formula like on a per head basis? Or are they saying since we have so much money to throw around, they want a bigger share of our money? Did we bring this to ourselves? To Fifa we are just too small a market that they can afford to lose. They probably says take it or leave it. The coverage of the World Cup will still be available live to Singaporeans through other channels, at different cost of course. Now it has become a poker game and see who blinks and who is the big winner. The people who suffer are the innocent consumers. Actually we shall just go and tell Fifa, 'How much?' and dump the cash on their table to show that we have the money. And when they name another ridiculous price, just take the money from their faces. There is no need to waste so much money under a situation not much different from being robbed at knife point. But we must also learn our lesson. Don't go around throwing our money at everyone.

4/18/2010

Honouring the gangsters

There is this big exhibition going on at the National Library about a William Farquhar who was the first Resident of a pre colonised island which is now Singapore. He took over control of the island as a stand in for Stamford Raffles who claimed to have founded this island for the British Empire. Uh no, for the East India Company. Yesterday a Teresa Lim wrote passionately about rediscovering and remembering this great Resident and even naming a few places in his honour. Now what is a resident and what was East India Company? We have more than a million permanent residents here today. There were several hundred residents here before the arrival of Raffles and the appointment of the first Resident. Funny usage of the word. I think first Resident meant that he was the top dog in the island then. And what was the East India Company? Was it a state company, an extended arm of the crown, or was it a privatised company of the state just to make profits for the state? How could a private company went around and claiming pieces of land as theirs? It seemed that the British separated the state from the running of profit making organisations then. The choice would allow the state to be free from the ugly dealings of the company. The company could schemed, connived, stole, robbed under whatever pretext, even grabbing lands and countries from the natives and their rulers, often at gun point. The state stood at a distance and was not tarnished by the unscrupulous doings, above the dirty deals. The state only came in like the Opium War in China to help the merchants on some fabricated excuses like protecting the interests of its gangsters, drug lords or subjects. The East Asia Company was nothing different from organised crime dressed up as legitimate businesses. They wielded tremendous powers and every warlord was literary a mafia boss. Raffles or Farquhar was no different. They were gangsters of the old days, protected and given legitimacy by the crown of England. Some of the knights of the British Empires were actually pirates, not much different from the Somalian pirates today. Whatever they did, it was for their own interests and the interests of the British crown and the British Empire. What happened after the years of occupation when we were given independence to run the island was a necessary convenience of the day. What and how we came about was not of design by these gangsters. We made it what it is today. Reading the history of yesterday and understanding how things were in the correct perspective would help to increase our knowledge of past events. Maybe there were no victims and no sufferings under the control of the gangsters, maybe it was ignorance, we seem to have a romantic view of our colonial history and their exploits, and remember them fondly. I think they make a good collection as the myths of Singapore.

4/17/2010

What is realistic pay?

Our model of high pay for ministers was given an airing in an American TV channel, the Chicago Tonight, hosted by Phil Ponce and guest Lee Hsien Loong. The merits of our case against the demerits of the American case were discussed and defended. One example quoted was the American judges presiding in their courts and listening to young lawyers who were paid many times more than the honourable and distinguished gentlemen sitting at the top bench. Kind of funny really. How could the judges sit there listening to young boys telling them about the case and knowing that these young boys are being paid so much more than them, and could buy them dinner on every outing? What would be going on in the minds of the judges other than the cases being read? The conventional wisdom here will say that the judges were grossly underpaid and needed to be realistically rewarded for the responsibility they were holding. Or are the young lawyers being grossly overpaid while the judges are being paid reasonably? Which is which will depend on who and how people look at the issue. Look at the numbers again. A CEO being paid $10m pa versus workers being paid $20k pa is equivalent to one man doing 500 men's job. That is how productive or valuable the CEO is to the organisation. He carries the weight of 500 men's wage bill. Does he really do the job of 500 men? Oh, big responsibility. His decision, just saying yes or no, could mean millions and billions being made or lost, and hundreds of thousands of people's lives being affected. This is what they are being paid for. Responsibility. Could the little worker's responsibility be in that scale? A terrorist, with little skill or professional qualification and training, could unleash a vial of deadly chemical or biological material that could do untold damages to untold number of people. The impact of his action surely must be greater than a $10m CEO and should rightly command such a pay. And the little soldier or custom officer manning the checking counter must be shouldering the same kind of responsibility and deserve more than what he is being paid currently. So is the security guard to a high value vault or premise. It reminds me of one very highly paid security guard. The cook in a top notch restaurant where all the big shots eat better be paid more than the big shots as their lives depended on him not poisoning them. His responsibility is enormous. So are bodyguards to Presidents and Prime Ministers. So are all the arseholes. So what is realistic pay? According to what and who?

4/16/2010

Is it so difficult?

Is it so difficult to forecast the number of doctors needed here? Hospitals are not built overnight. I think it takes much longer time to built hospitals than HDb flats. Why is there a sudden shortage of doctors when the numbers can easily be calculated with a pocket calculator? We don't produce enough doctors from our universities, not enough capacities. And many of our brightest have to get their medical education overseas. The sad part is that these students who went overseas were not part of the planning process to meet the demands of our hospitals. They went completely on their own motivation and may not even want to return if they can find jobs elsewhere. In the meantime we went on a recruitment blitz, grabbing anything that comes by while many of our best were scattering away from our shores. Is this another jamban case?

A different role for internet or new media

Obviously a new role has been developing for the internet media vis a vis the old media. The forte of old media is news reporting. They report news. Once reported it is no longer news and not worth reporting a second time. In the case of internet news, it is not merely reporting news per se. It is an expression of the people, begging for action, demanding for action over issues or cases of injustice or a cause etc etc. No doubt the plea may completely be ignored and nothing could come out of it. But ignoring a case or issue raised will reflect badly on the parties where action is needed. There is no escape. Not doing anything when an issue becomes the talk of the town can be embarrassing or even seen as being irresponsible, callous or aloofness or arrogance could also seep through on those responsible. Whatever, there is a price for being seen in a negative light. An example of old media and internet reporting is that of a fire. The old media will report the fire when it first came to notice. Whatever happens after the first news break is often not reported. No follow up unless the fire keeps burning for a few more days. In the case of internet, the fire will be reported. And if the fire fighters did not turn up in time, it will be reported. If the fire fighters did a bad job, it will be reported. If a good job, it may also be reported. And the fire can be reported everyday if there are other consequences resulting from the fire. An exception is the rogue diplomat case where the old media keeps pushing and covering the case. The old media is pursuing and hounding this case for justice that has never been seen before. The repeated reporting of the case should at least shame the Romanian govt for appointing a rogue as its representative to the diplomatic world, and now more disgusting is trying to protect him in all ways possible. It is not willing to face the court of common justice that a serious crime has been committed by a poor specimen of its govt and that it should do all it can to bring the animal to justice, that any honourable govt will do. In this case, it is good that the old media uses all its resources to keep reporting on the case to bring the criminal to justice, and the Romanian govt to its knee if it has to. It will be great if the old media could pursue issues in this way, tenaciously, without letting go. Maybe they should continue to report more on the high property prices and how badly it is affecting the citizens and emptying their pockets. For everyone who makes a handsome profit, some poor citizen is going to pay for it for a life time. Is it a good thing? The internet or new media has a job cut out for it, to pursue issues tenaciously, without letting go.

4/15/2010

Myth 220 - The Myth of under consumption

Rich people will want to stay in C Class hospital wards. So it is necessary to have mean testing as C Class wards are highly subsidised. Rich people will want to buy 3rm or 4rm flats so there must be an income ceiling to bar them from buying HDB flats or else they will deprived the lower income from buying smaller HDB flats. I shall go on to say that rich people will want to drive China or Korean made cars and not Mercedes, BMWs or the more exotic brands. Oh, this is not true as these products are not subsidised. Is it true that rich people will want to under consume? Is under consumption good? Let me address the first question first. For every rich patient who wants to be admitted into C wards, there will be 10 less rich patients who want to be warded in A wards. And for every rich man who wants to buy a 4 rm or 3 rm HDB flat, there will be hundreds or thousands of less rich men who want to buy bigger flats or private properties. So what is the problem? The problem is the supply. If the people want to be admitted into C wards, why don't they build more C wards? If there are more people who want to buy smaller flats even if they earn more than $8,000, why don't they build more smaller flats and let them buy? Unfortunately restaurants are not subsidised. Otherwise they will have to conduct mean testing to make sure that the rich customers order only sharks fin and abalone and nothing else. And the second question, what's wrong with under consumption? Is it not prudent for people to spend lesser and save more? And this is very important to young people who have not much savings to start with, and that they should not be forced to buy properties that will eat up their incomes. It is crazy and irresponsible to demand that young people must buy expensive properties. And then later complain that people did not have enough savings for their retirements. This is real cock. Only fuckheads think that way. Be prudent, spend within your means, but dictated that if one has some money, they must spend it. Then complain that they don't have enough for retirement, then start to grab more money from their CPFs under all kinds of schemes for retirement. Are the fuckheads making sense or talking nonsense? To me it is full of contradictions, full of holes in the reasonings.

4/14/2010

A good suggestion for Khaw Boon Wan

Khaw Boon Wan is terrified by the escalating medical cost in his hospitals and is still not able to control them. And since the escalating cost is unavoidable, the next best thing is to make sure that the people can afford to pay the hospital bills, or have money to pay the bills, through the money locked up in the Medisave of course. At the moment the minimum sum is slightly more than $30k and this could go up and up. In Boon Wan's view, this is simply not enough. He toying with the idea of pushing for legislation to transfer more funds from the people's CPF Ordinary Account to the Medisave Account to help the people so that the people can afford to pay their hospital bills. But with the HDB eyeing 30% of the people's income, the bulk coming from CPF, and other uses, touching the Ordinary Account again is going to hit the wall. The people will be angry if they cannot pay their HDB mortgages especially when HDB prices are so sure of going up and up as well. But have no fear. A blogger here has a brilliant suggestion. Just let every member of the family of the patient be allowed to share the medical bills. If there are 4 members, then it will mean at least $120k to take. Not enough? Did I hear not enough? Did I also hear that this is already done? Wow, if this is so, then $120k is truly not enough. In that case, this brilliant suggestion would not work and more money from the CPF Ordinary Account must go to the Medisave Account. This is the only way, the best way, to help the people pay their hospital and medical bills.

The mad rush has begun

Another 4 residential sites up for tender. This will add another 2000 homes and bring the total supply of new homes to 10,550 since the mad rush began. And the message from the govt is to say that there is enough land. So nerves are calmed and problems solved? The 10,550 figure appears big but how is this related to the demand? Is it just a number that is thrown up to appease the outrage of homebuyers, or is it a well thought out number based on statistics. There must be enough statistics to show what is the demand and how many more homes are needed. It cannot be a suka suka number or guesswork. What is the real demand or estimated demand for housing today and how does this number stand to satisfy the demand? Too much or too little. Or have we reached a state that no body really knows how big is the demand and how many more flats should be built to meet demand? I somehow got this kind of funny feeling. Then the next point is that if the demand today is for 10,550 flats or more, how could the demand be satisfied when they are, mind you, just tendering the site to contractors. In other words all these launches are at the preliminary stages and would take at least 3 more years to fruition. Or is this the best way to solve this housing problem? I think this if officially the best way. So, with all this last minute launches the home buyers shall now be happy, no more complaints. It must be quite a big relief to know that the jamban will be ready in 3 years while the shit is about to burst free. Just hold on, never mind if the face is red from squeezing and the hands and feet are cold. Hang on! The jamban will be ready soon.

4/13/2010

What if there is no Medisave?

We have a first class hospital system that can meet the best in the world. This is something we can be proud of. The point in question is what if there is no Medisave? Why is Medisave such an important element in our health care system that such a question needs to be asked. For without Medisave, many will not have the money to pay. Without the patients paying and supporting the system, can the system continue to operate as it is? Can the system charge the kind of fees if the patients cannot afford the fees? Who shall be thankful for the wonderful healthcare system that we are having? My fear is that if cost is not managed, or if people think that Medisave is the ATM with unlimited supply of cash, or the cash can be increased by passing of legislation, the healthcare system will continue to be world best with world best fees and with the Medisave depleting rapidly.

The relevance and irrelevance of the Thai crisis

Let's start with the irrelevance first. The monarch is increasingly becoming irrelevant as he lies in the hospital bed. And with each breath fading, Ahbisit and his elitist party too are edging towards irrelevance as well. The Army which has pledged loyalty to the king may find it unnecessary to do so as minutes tick by. The signs of support from the Army for the elite will soon be no more as the Army knows that change is inevitable. What is so relevant about the happenings in Thailand? An elite or elitist party cannot survive without the ordinary people supporting it. The real support for a govt in a democracy must be from the people. This is also applicable in a fake democracy. Once the people is politicised, there is no turning back. And the elite, by nature a minority, cannot cling on to power for long. The king, the one that is holding everyone together, the one that can pull the strings, will one day be too feeble to do so, and may not be around to do it. And when that day comes, the pretenders will have a hard time staying in power. The true leaders, those with the support of the people, will be shoved into the seat of power. The elite may resort to all kinds of things to stay in power, including the Army. But the soldiers are not idiots. They will have a mind of their own. And when they perceive that the people is not in favour of the elite, they will change sides. Unless of course the Army is made up of cartoons or unthinking inanimate soldiers. Ahbisit is seeing the real stuff for the first time. His days in power is numbered without the Army that he thought would always be there. A new order is in the making the moment the king is out of the picture.

4/12/2010

Housing, keeping the issue alive

Sue Ann Chia keeps the flame of unhappiness in housing alive by another article in the ST today. She calls on the govt to rethink and find sustainable answers to this problem. But should the govt when it does not see any problem? To the govt, or to Mah Bow Tan, the problem is with the choosy and hard to please flat applicants. Accepted that we have a good public housing system to start with, but are they flawless? One of the flaws that the system has morphed into is the application procedure. Apply when there is a new launch. If the applicant is unsuccessful, reapply and start anew. This procedure seriously affect the young professionals as their salaries could quickly got out of the $8k ceiling imposed by HDB within a few years from graduation. They are then forced to buy from the red hot resale market or private housing. Without much cash savings, they are hard put to foot the deposit. The new system in a way deprived these young professionals from buying their first flat from HDB if they did not quickly grab one that comes along. And this ignores those they were slow in courting a spouse and could not even apply in the first place. So it is their fault, or so they are high income earners and must buy more expensive housing. But many are prudent young people who are contented with just a 4 rm HDB flat. They are not demanding, just want to buy their first home without killing themselves with a big mortgage. So what's wrong with that? Their fault or HDB's fault? The most badly affected is this group of young professionals and rightly they should kick the arse of HDB and its procedures. In the old system, the application stayed with the HDB while waiting for the flat, using the income on registration. Maybe HDB may want to reconsider the first bite of the HDB cherry to all NS men regardless of their income. They have done their national service.

Would the next GE be different?

Last week we have heard some of the familiar responses to the opposition walkabouts. We are ready, we will keep in the touch with the people, we will not be complacent. Last Sunday Eng Heng spoke and welcomed the effort put in by the opposition to engage the voters early. Is there any difference in his comments? My first impression is that he appeared to be earnest in what he said about the opposition. No signs of wanting to fix them up. And no one upmanship comments. Is this the first indication of change, that our political culture is maturing and the abrasive style of the third worl is passe? I hope so, but would need to see what the other ministers and MPs have to say as we close in on the GE. Then of course we still need to see the real stuff during the campaigning and election proper. It would be nice to see the two camps engage in a contest of ideas to win over the people, and less of those nonsensical vitriol of the past. The people deserve a higher level of democracy, a political culture that they can be proud of. If after all these years we are still sticking to the styles of the past, then we are not progressing. The electorate has matured and will not tolerate monkeys and gangsters any more. Respect the electorate by showing them your best and not by knocking down the opponents by unfair and unethical means. The politicians owe it to the people to raise the level of political contest and to make themselves respectable and highly regarded by the people.

4/11/2010

Myth 219, The myth of free market forces

Shall I call it the legend of free market forces now that myth has been elevated to the status of honouring our heroes? Our national heroes and their myths! I think I shall still stay with myth as what most people understand. Is our environment and life govern by the so called free market forces? I think 'astroturfing' has been working overtime all these years to get the people to believe that what happens to our lives is all governed by market forces and we can do nothing about it. From the number of babies born, school fees, housing, cars, population growth, medical fees, ministerial salaries, and yes, even our economy, boom or bust, are dictated by market forces or external forces. Lao Tzu must be smiling in his heavenly abode. I told you so 2,500 years ago. No need to do sweat, everything will just go on by itself. History has actually manifested itself in these ways, it is always boom and bust, according to the mandate of heaven. No amount of super talents will change the course of destiny. In a way, Hongkong is more subject to free market forces than us. In Hongkong, everything goes, with little govt intervention. The Hongkong govt knows that it is not that brilliant to be able to decide the fate of its people from cradle to grave. And they leave it as such. To each his own, the govt just provide the infrastructure and the system, and the people make the best of it. So we have the multimillion dollar villas in the mountains and the 300 sq ft dog kennels for the losers. And the best part is no one is complaining. Those living in the 300 sq ft homes accepted that. And the developers gave it to them, knowing that that is all these people can afford and are fit to live. No moral persuasion, no arguments of good or bad. No one claiming to be on moral high grounds. No rebellion or revolution as it is the order of things in a free wheeling enterprise. Do we have that kind of free market forces to determine our lives? No. If there is, our people will be living in 300 sq ft kennels as well. We plan carefully, every step and every inch. Our free market forces at work is as good as a myth to be served on the platter when needed. But in many ways we are better than Hongkong. Our people still got something like 600 sq ft to 900 sq ft of space to live in and at very affordable price. But there is danger that this may not be if we allowed astroturfing to get a free hand. If we keep talking about the 300 sq ft homes in Hongkong as an acceptable way of life, soon this will quietly sink into some silly heads. Then statisticians and smart people will use this as a justification and say it is ok. And when that song is played, we gonna get it. As things are fairly acceptable, let the myth of free market forces remain as a myth. Let not it becomes a legend.

4/10/2010

How objective are the media

Astroturfing has been pointed out for booting recently as a deviant way of promoting a position through false or manipulated inputs through the internet. This in turn gives a skewed impression of the real issue at stake, the supports behind it and even the truth. Astroturfing has been singled out as a methodology used to influence and pressure the govt to act in a certain way. In other words, astroturfing is simply a manipulative way of conveying a message by a group of people for their own interests. Is this something new? All media, new media or old media, are they so innocent, so objective, so truthful, that they never intentionally push a position by bending backwards, with twisted logic, selective logic and even manipulating statistics to support a position? I am saying this in general, not directing at anyone. How many old and new media are guilty of the things astroturfing are now infamous for? None? Did I hear none? I think everyone knows the truth and how media, old and new, manipulate views, opinions and try to influence the way people see or look at an issue. The old and new media are just as good as astroturfing. Nothing more nothing less. Then there are worst forms of influencing the minds of people by state media and propaganda. Much more deadly and effective than what astroturfing is deemed to have done. The people of America, the free world, and the people of dictatorship and the authoritarian states, are all victims and targets of official media to think in the way the state wants them to think. So, what is new?

4/09/2010

What comes after COE hike?

The surge in COE prices must have brought smiles to many people and to the state's coffer. Maybe some will filter down to help the needies. But what else will be affected by this COE good news? The car owners will be affected immediately and positively with the resale values going up. On the negative side, taxis and buses, I think they need COEs too. So be prepared for higher taxi fares and maybe bus fares. Hopefully the MRT is not affected by COE hikes and would not raise MRT fares. But their staff travel by cars and vans. So the hike still affects their cost. All transport agencies or businesses will be affected if the cost of vehicles goes up. And this will just trickle down the line for sure. This is one thing that must be passed down to the consumers. School buses? The cost of living will move up nicely.

270% interest rate per annum

A blogger asked me for my view on the 270% interest rate that was raised by a forumer in the ST forum. The writer said that this is a possibility provided by the Money Lenders Act. I did not pay too much attention to such numbers as I have been desensitised by the greed in the financial system, where exploitation for quick profit is now seen as a merit and deserving great rewards. But since I was asked, I took the question to the cesspit for a little discussion. The PhD holders in the cesspit thinktank, all bought of course, were very adept in this kind of issue. They have all made their millions doing the same thing, and their only conscience is their own pockets. So what would they say? No issue at all, all corners are covered. In the first place it is legal. Period. Anything that is legal is legal, faultless and blameless. Only those who do not know how to exploit the legal road would kpkb about such things. The beneficiary will just laugh their way to the banks. The next point is that it is completely transparent. The fine prints are made known to the borrower, and the seller representatives were well trained to tell the borrower all the risk involved. No cheating, no undisclosed information, no misrepresentation. This leads to the third point. Willing buyer and willing seller. No one is being forced to take the loan. And yes, this is covered under caveat emptor. And this is a legit business. Business means making profit. The higher the profit the better the business. And this is good for the economy as well. How else could people make so much money to buy so many million dollar properties? The whole thing generates wealth and a vibrant economy. These are what the cesspit thinkers came out with and all very reasonable, logical, legitimate. I am quite surprise that they could think so clearly. So where is the problem? No problem at all. In all business transactions, there must be the suckers and the big winners. Somehow I feel so nice reporting their findings. I think I have been infected by the E1U1 flu bug. Maybe a few more practices I can start to apply to join the Elite and Uncaring class.

4/08/2010

It is all market forces

Now what shall I write this morning with COE hitting heaven and Sheng Siong still in the limelight? Shall I rejoice that my car can now be sold more than the price I bought? Between the two hot issues now, both have a same vein to stretch. COE prices are the result of normal supply and demand. No one is at fault. The system, like the BTO scheme, is well designed and the best. The govt has done it part. So let's live with the high prices. The alternative is to have all our roads turning into car parks. So bite the bullet and pay. For those who cannot afford to pay, please, go and take public transport. If you can't pay, you don't deserve to be driving a private car. This is the reality of life. Got money got everything. No money, diam diam. As for Sheng Siong, HDB has stepped in to warn that if prices go too high, Sheng Siong would not have enough stall holders to sell produce in the wet markets. Have no fear, Sheng Siong can run all the stalls by itself. This is business. Sheng Siong is out there to do a business and will respect market forces. If all the current stall holders quit, the better. I am confident that Sheng Siong, being a successful business empire, will have everything thought out and planned. No one should interfere with market forces. The stall holders can go, the customers can refuse to patronise, doesn't matter. And Sheng Siong being the market owner, is free to set its rentals and the tenure of the rental. It is free market practice. Now who is out there trying to temper with this classic economic theory of growth? If Sheng Siong can raise fee another 50%, and if there are stall holders who are willing to pay for it, so be it. The Ah Sohs and Ah Mahs who think the prices are too high, can take a walk. I mean they can take a bus or MRT to another market to buy. No need to depend on Sheng Siong if they are not happy. Then there is FairPrice always ready to serve them at fair prices. What's there to complain about? Storms in the tea cup! Now, what am I saying? Early in the morning, a bit blur like sotong. I really like the way I talk down to the losers: )

4/07/2010

Pig talk and pig logic

This guy was very hungry and he went to the pig to ask for bacon. The pig snorted. 'Wait for my piglets to be born, and another one year they should be ready for the table. Now go away.' So the hungry man went away, hungry, and waiting for the bacon to be ready. The pig had solved his need for bacon, to be delivered in a year's time. Would the hungry man survived while waiting for the bacon to arrive? Or would he find a subsitute to ease his hunger pang? Oink, oink, oink.

Trading mentality, changing places

We have this great tradition as a trading port. I think this has been in our blood for too long that it is becoming a part of us, our culture and mentality. We will trade everything, anything, for money. We sold our power stations probably seeing their yields or future not going to be too bright. Now we are going to India to buy power stations because the growth potential for power is very promising. We have developed ourselves into an education hub to earn more foreign currency. Education as a business can generate a lot of revenue if the fees are high enough. And we are very successful in getting foreigners to come here for their education. In the meantime, our children will not have enough places here and have to go elsewhere for their education. We have limited places for medical education. And many of our bright students have to go overseas to be trained as doctors. But we also have a shortage of doctors here. So we import cheap doctors from other countries to fill the gap. Isn't it funny? We tell our not so talented to go overseas to work. In their place we import foreign talents to replace them. Singaporeans sell their properties here just to be able to buy properties elsewhere. All these are very good and healthy for the economy. Just keep trading and exchanging goods and services. One day we may even trade our not so marketable parents for new and more efficient parents.

A simple way to solve the housing problem

The ST has a full page coverage on the housing problem that is making a small section of the population crying foul. It even features replies by Mah Bow Tan on the issue. Would it make any difference to the problem? Nay, except to make it worst. There is really no problem at all, and it is so easy to let the problem, if it is real, to go away by adopting a few simple measures. The first thing is to prevent the real estate agents and developers from talking up the market and frightening would be buyers of homes. And the speculators seeing so much money can be made will keep the musical chair game going on. At the moment the agents and developers are just adding fire to an already over heated oven. And some organisations are setting up indices on housing prices to tell where it is heading. Another no no. It can be very alarming as well. The third thing is to make sure that there is a blackout on housing news. Don't talk about it, don't report about it. After a while it will die down naturally, and the problem will be no problem anymore. But there is still a loophole in the internet. The nasty and irritating bloggers will want to continue to keep the topic alive. This hole must also be closed. Then all will be peace under heaven. The problem will go away if it is not in the news anymore. Like that can or not?

4/06/2010

Another avenue for speculation

Yes, another opportunity presented itself for speculators to make money. Other than speculating in properties, the latest is COEs. With the prices going up dramatically, many people are making big money from trading COEs. And don't forget the market for second hand cars. Back to the good old days when a car's value appreciates over time, like properties. Buy now, use it for a couple of years for free, and sell at a profit. Fantastic deals. Now Singaporeans should rush out to buy properties or cars to make instant money. And if COEs go back to $100k, wow, bee tang again. Reinvest the profits in more cars and more properties and leverages, the more leverages the more profits. Making money is so easy here. Time for celebration.

Missing a golden opportunity to make money

Our population has surged more than a million in the last 10 years, and many thanks to the new immigrants, PRs and new citizens. And many more are queuing to come in. If this is the case, why don't we place a small fee for application or successful application to be a PR or new citizen? If the demand is real, if we are that desirable, there must be a value for something that is so good. What is the price to be a PR or new citizen? In real terms, PRs and new citizens tend to benefit a lot in financial terms through the buying of HDB flats and all the subsidies in medical, education and other govt services. Then there are the occasional angpows that the govt is giving out in subsidies for conservancy fees, in New Singapore Shares or special govt handouts. All these are real monies that go to the PRs and new citizens the moment they are accepted. Shouldn't they be priced in to bcome one of us? A $100 application fee, a $5,000 approval fee for PRs or a $10k fee to become citizen should be cheap compare to the immediate gains awaiting them. How come no one is thinking of making some money out of this business? Oh, they have not privatise ICA. I think they should and make it a profit centre.

4/05/2010

Is this a new kind of discrimination?

There have been complaints that employers discriminated against job applicants in their job advertisements by stating preferences for race, language or religion. This has incurred the wrath of the authorities and official statements have been made against such discriminatory practices. There have been promotional material and advertisements by NTUC to recruit employees based on merits alone. Below is an extract of a Shin Min Daily article, According to a Shin Min Daily report yesterday, a jobless Singaporean who went to a Bread Talk outlet for an walk-in interview was told by a Malaysian HR manager to back off: “We don’t want to hire Singaporeans. We look after our own first.” The Singaporean felt slighted and walked away in anger. When contacted by the media, Bread Talk claimed that they hire more “locals” than foreigners and is currently “investigating” the matter. It is not uncommon for HR managers who are foreigners to bring in their “own kind” at the exclusion of native Singaporeans,.... My god, how could this be true, Singaporeans being discriminated in their own country for employment. I hope the investigation proves that this is not the case. Singaporeans are the first choice for employment in Singapore. It cannot be otherwise. Please report to MOM if any company is practising discrimination against Singaporeans. The Ministry and NTUC will surely stand up to protect Singaporeans for jobs.

SDP going for the kill

Chee Soon Juan and his supporters were at Bukit Panjang talking to the wet market stallholders on the recent rental hike. He has a cause to champion and at the moment it seems that the SDP is the first political party that is seizing on this opportunity to win more supporters. Not only will they be getting the votes from the disgruntled stallholders, the aunties who are clamouring to have their rights to wet markets will go along as well. An issue like this will be another feather in the SDP's cap. They went in to answer a call when others are staying clear. Let's see if SDP could reap any rewards from this issue. If the wet market stallholders feel that when help is needed and no one came except SDP, it could make a difference.

Stupid and mindless Singaporeans at it again

Singaporeans, sad to say, are unable to create their own identity. They only imitate, anything, from anywhere, good or bad. The Ang Mohs like to go pubbing, so Singaporeans go pubbing. The Ang Mohs like sarong party girls, so our girls all want to be sarong party girls. I must say going to pubs is any time better than going to bars. But wait till the Ang Mohs find out what's inside the new and revamped bars and the China Mei Meis in them. Ionescu has found out. Just wait, when the Ang Mohs flocked to these new bars, Singaporeans will all be rushing madly to these bars as well. Then we can say good bye to Mohammed Sultan, Club Street and Holland V. Today, the mindless Singaporeans have caught up with a new trend. They are now sitting in any empty spaces available on the streets, under MRT tracks, to have a drink, and party, just like the foreign workers. 40 or 50 years ago, the poor Singaporeans used to do that, for they cannot afford to pay to sit inside kopitiams. Neither were there nice aircon places that sell expensive but nice food and drinks and be served by waiters and waitresses. They made do along five foot ways, back lanes and besides longkangs or under any trees. So our young now think sitting on the streets, along pavements are cool. Hey, those are what the poor foreign workers are doing, for free. The smarter ones have already parked themselves in the casino. Ok, I know, casino is a no go for Singaporeans. Have to pay to enter. Oh, I forgot, the foreigners are to replace the locals from their places of comfort, and the locals will replace the foreigners, this time on road sides and street pavements. Now that is cool.

Horror story of the week!

This must be the horror story that sends shivers down the spine of Singaporeans. Chiam See Tong and Kenneth Jeyaratnam were seen together in a walkabout in the Bishan Toa Payoh GRC over the weekend. And speculation is that an alliance between the two is in the works with Chaim leaving his Potong Pasir ward to team up with Kenneth in a GRC. This, in a way is good news for the opposition parties. A new urgency to close rank and fight together, providing a stronger team instead of scattering their limited resources. What is so frightening about this news? Bishan Toa Payoh GRC is where Hsien Loong is standing. (Ooops, my mistake, AMK GRC is where Hsien Loong is) Chiam and Kenneth may take the battle to the Hsien Loong's backyard. And if sway sway they won, yes, if they won, you can imagine what will happen? Hsien Loong will no longer be the PM, plus his team of Singapore's best talents. Wait a minute, can the constitution be amended to co opt a PM that lost an election? Still a possibility if the PAP retains 2/3 majority in Parliament. That may save the day. But if sway sway again, no 2/3 majority, then we will lose the leadership of Hsien Loong. This is unthinkable. This is the real horror story that Singaporeans may have to face. Frightening enough or not?

4/04/2010

A strange phenomenon in paradise

Singaporeans are increasingly looking to moving out of paradise for one reason or another. On the other hand foreigners are rushing in to fill up the places vacated by them. This musical chair is also evident in many areas, with foreigners taking over the places of Singaporeans. We have jobs, from the low skilled jobs that Singaporeans did not want to the middle level jobs where foreigners are cheaper and to the top end CEOs when foreigners are deemed smarter or more experienced or more qualified. Then what is left for Singaporeans? We built high end homes to sell to rich foreigners and Singaporeans downgrade and look for cheaper homes elsewhere. From the city to new towns and then to neighbouring countries. We built world class hospitals to service foreigners and encouraged price conscious Singaporeans to go JB and other parts of Malaysia for cheaper treatments. We built schools and universities with Singaporeans complaining that they are increasingly being squeezed out by foreigners for places. We built golf courses that rich foreigners could play and Singaporeans ended playing in Malaysia or nearby Indonesian islands. And the latest, we built casinos and foreigners can go in for free while Singaporeans have to pay or go to Genting Highland for free. And Singaporeans were given the message that if they don’t buck up, they will be replaced by foreigners. Housing agents, insurance agents, foreign student agents, in fact all agencies, Singaporeans are fighting tooth and nail with foreigners for a piece of the action. Is there anything that is exclusive for Singaporeans? Yes, National Service.

4/03/2010

Sheng Siong has done a national service

The many outcries against Sheng Siong may be misplaced. Look at the bright side, Sheng Siong could be doing a good national service by helping to phase out the wet markets. Why go to wet markets when you can shop at nice, clean and aircon supermarkets? It is an outdated way of life. We must progress. No need to wipe hands and holding wet money notes. And the stallholders there are, hmmm, how to say it, anyway, cannot compare with the uniformed ones in the big supermarkets. And big supermarkets can buy in bulk and sell cheaper also. They have the muscles, the financial muscles to weed out the inefficiency of small stallholders. And the quality of life will be better. No more wet and smelly markets. And wearing pyjamas to market, an eyesore, will be a thing of the past. Who dares wear pyjamas to supermarkets? Look at the bright side. The stallholders can apply for work in the casinos or food courts. Plenty of jobs around.

The end game is Zero

We may be a multi culture and multi religion country, but the influence of Buddhism is widely felt and even practised as a way of life. Or at least one aspect of Buddhism is gaining prevalence without anyone realising it. Buddhism believes in emptiness. In the end all material things do not matter. We come naked and should go naked or empty handed. This is now a national philosophy. Many years ago we started this great saving scheme called CPF and the workers and employers contributed as much as 50% of an employee's income to the scheme. It was so successful that the Govt even switched its pension scheme to this scheme. The people were happy. They have enough in the CPF to buy their homes and then a handsome sum for retirement. The status quo lasted till probably the late 1970s or early 1980s when the savings in the CPF grew to such a size that it became very tempting to everyone. The CPF members not only smiled when the monthly statement arrived. They were rich with the amount of money in their accounts. And I am talking about the average workers, not ministers. As they said, the rest is history. Today, only a few lucky ones would have some decent money left in their CPF on retirement or to be passed down to their children. Every cent has been computed by all the interested parties to have a slice of it and leaving the owner practically just enough to meet his last rites. Some may say, but they still got a flat. Yes they do. But this is also computed that by the time they retire, they will have to trade it for some money to live on. And if they use reverse mortgages, that will be the perfect scheme in the game of zero. At the end no flat and no money. For those who have some money to live on and not having to trade in their flats, the flats also will one day become zero in value. I don't think this philosophy is Confucianist. It is fundamentally Buddhist in nature. The Game of Zero has been perfected. Come with nothing, leave with nothing. One qualification, it applies to the average Singaporeans only. PRs, foreigners and the rich are not part of this game.

4/02/2010

Bloggers unite

Blog this shit: Open source information scares the pants of governments April 1, 2010 · Leave a Comment “If you bloggers self-organize and attach yourselves like leeches to specific issues, corporations, organizations, challenges, you will be the intelligence minutemen of this century. The power is in your hands. There aren’t enough guns to kill us all, and Haliburton can’t build the jails fast enough to keep us down.” I copied the above from Temasek Hedge. This is a video clip of a speech by Robert D Steele, a former intelligence officer, who said a lot of things that needed to be said. Other than the power of the internet, blogging and the role of bloggers, he talked about how govts treat its people as commodities, how govt benefitted from sponging the people's money, how America is committing war crimes and profitting from war, how central banks needed to be closed, how bankrupt America is today and awaiting to break up, and how you and me and every blogger can contribute to a better world. I strongly recommend everyone to listen intently to this video clip posted in Temasek Hedge.

Too much effort to write about rising cost of living

University fees increased, electricity increased, sigh, fee increases are no longer exciting news. It is happening almost daily so I am feeling tired of writing about them. Even rental of market stalls can shoot up for no good reason except a change of owners. HDB flat selling at $650k not high enough. Now Bishan EM selling at $900k with $170k COV. What else is going to go up? Salary, yes salary must go up or else who can afford to buy those multi milllion dollar properties. As for worker's salary, tkk. Worker's salary got to be kept competitive, not low, or else all the jobs will go away. Prices of cars were the highest in the world and are jumping higher. No country can ever dream of beating us in this.

Prices of resale HDB flats are stabilising

They have solved the problem of high prices. The resale price increase is getting smaller. COV increased from $12k to $24k in the previous quarter. The last quarter the increase was only $1k, at $25k. Good, more people now can afford to buy resale flats. Just prepare to fork out $25k first. And they are going to build another 12k flats this year and maybe more. So problem solved. Or is it? These flats will only be ready in 3 years time. In the meantime where are these people going to stay? And there are still several hundred thousand new citizens and new arrivals coming in daily. How are they going to add to the demand? How many out there are still waiting to buy their first flat and cannot afford to? And with this kind of indecent prices, is it supposed to be good? Have we reach a satisfactory equilibrium? But no need to bother now. Problem already gone. Everyone happy already. Job well done. BTO is the way to go.

4/01/2010

A sickly feeling

We paid $350m to $400m to watch English football. And this amount is about 13% of the takings of EPL. Got it? This little piece of rock with a population of less than 4 millions financing the EPL to the tune of 13%! And Hongkong with a larger population, thus more viewership,0 paid less for the rights. Let's try to do the arithmetics. 10% of 4m is 400,000 people. If 10% of the population watch EPL, it comes to $1000 per head. If 1% watches, it will go up to $10,000 per head. Quite a sum for a past time really. Another way of looking at it, 4m people paid $400m while the rest of the world, 6b people, paid $2.6b or less than 50c each. If we take 50% of the rest of the world, it is still less than $1 each. With that kind of money, we can be a major shareholder of EPL.

Bharti Chief thanks SingTel

Bharti Chief thanks partners after signing Zain Africa deal On 03.31.10, In Mobile, By Editor . www.WirelessFederation.com/news: With the consummation of the US$10.7 billion deal with Zain Africa, Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Mittal extended his gratitude to its partner Sing Tel for providing its much needed support. As a co-promoter, SingTel holds 31 per cent stake in India-listed Bharti Airtel and therefore its support is critical to any major M&A deal by the company. According to Bharti Airtel Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Mittal who signed the deal in Amsterdam, the extremely tight time lines and the enormity of the task posed a real challenge. Bharti was able to achieve this important milestone through much hard work and support from SingTel and the external advisors. SingTel owns 31% of Bharti Airtel, can I assume it pumped in $3.2b or there about? I hope the thank you means we will bring in the profit and not a one way thing. Thanks for the contribution.

The price of over staying

Has the Thai King overstayed and creating a potentially dangerous political crisis in Thailand? Till now, he is still the most respected institution in Thailand, holding all the factional parties together. The military pledged loyalty to him, the politicians too, and the Thais obeyed his every words. What if he comes to pass? The prince and princesses will have to carve out a new mandate and relationship with all the factional parties all over again. And looking at the fragile make up of Thai politics today, it is going to be a very difficult task ahead, and chaos is the most certainty. The politicians and military will break apart as there is no dominant and accepted power to pledge loyalty to. This is how precarious Thailand has become today. What if the King has abdicated his throne a few years back and allow another King or Queen to assume the role of head of state while he retires and spend time playing with his grandchildren or romancing his kingdom while he still can? Given the few years, the new King or Queen would have worked out their own relationships with the people and political and military forces to be able to stand on their own. And when the time comes, the passing of the King would be just another day for mourning a monarch and nothing else. The failure to depart from the scene early enough is as good as planning for disaster to happen. Maybe he feels that he is indispensable and the country cannot hold together without him. Then it can only be worst when he is not around. If the incumbent King cannot hold his own fort and needs him to back him up, he is truly unfit and will definitely be dethroned when he is not around. That is an ugly fact and truth that will happen. Thailand is ready for a new chapter in history.

Punching above our weight

We punch above our weight in the international arena. We speak louder and carry more weight than countries of bigger sizes. Now we are faced with a third rate European country called Romania whose Charge Affair knocked down and killed a pedestrain and hurting a couple of others and ran away. Can we bring justice to the culprit? The culprit has been found guilty. But he had feigned illness and hiding in his home country and questioning our legal justice system, even claiming that he is being framed. And the Ambassador is resorting to telling us how difficult it is to bring him here. And he is covered by diplomatic immunity. In short, there is nothing we can do about it.b Diplomats are above the law! Let's see if we can punch above our weight and bring this rogue to pay for his misdeeds. How about breaking diplomatic relations with Romania? We don't really need them. Send them home packing.