In defense of the main media

Everyone is kicking the main media around like a ball. It has been alleged of biased coverage in the by election to favour the ruling party candidate. It has been accused of putting the opposition party candidate in a bad light with funny pictures. But the main media has improved, like the results of the by election. It has improved from what it was before. According to Baey, I think, he also noticed that the main media is getting fairer with more coverage for the opposition candidate. Can’t imagine this kind of coverage in the past, I can’t remember what it was like.

At the rate the main media is improving, soon it will be accused of biased coverage against the ruling party. The incremental improvement counts, just like the 2% gain. One election 2%, ten elections will be 20%. There is great hope that the main media will be better everyday and will do journalism and the journalists proud, one day. Just give it time. Don’t write them off. Hold back the criticisms, afterall they all ‘tan chiak one’ and need to do a good job.

I can’t imagine how the media coverage would be after 2016. One thing for sure, it will be very much fairer. This is the 21th century and no one can think of shitting on anyone’s head in public and in print and say no he didn’t. Everyone will just have to be honest, like it or not, unless one chooses to be an ostrich.

Have faith, our main media is run by professional journalists who always do their due diligence, check up on the facts of things they choose to report on. They will always give honest and truthful reports and in depth analysis. And every photograph is carefully selected to tell the story better. How else could they win so many international awards, like best design, best pictures, best photography, best newsworthy news of this and that, or things like that. I really can’t remember what awards it won but know it won many. An award winning newspaper must be of good reasonable standard. The awards are the proof.

The main media is right and telling the honest truth. This is just my personal opinion, and feel free to disagree. I am very generous and would not sue you if you disagree with me. Everyone has a right to enjoy his freedom to express his own opinion here, in mysingaporenews.

Please don’t help the people, hear the people’s cry.

The govt is so caring and concern about the welfare of the people, about whether they have any money left for retirement, and to pay the exhorbitant medical bills. Where on earth could citizens find such caring govt? And why are the people screaming that they don’t need this kind of help? And why is the govt insisting on a help that the people do not want and then blames the people for depending too much on the govt for help?

It must be the people to be blamed for the govt to insist on helping them with their money. The people have no money? Who is the clown that said the people have no money? No, the problem is that the people have too much money in their CPF that tempted the govt to want to help them with their money. And the govt refuses to listen to the simple and pathetic plea of hopeless Sinkies who don’t even know the money is theirs anymore, and that it is their right to decide how to use it. It is not a govt pension or subsidy or gratuity or grant or handout. It is their money.

Who gives the govt the right to decide what it wants to do with the people’s money? Is it that once the people voted a govt to rule over them, the govt has all the right to do what it wants with the people’s savings? If the govt is sincere and really want to help the people, please use the reserves, or the profits it made from the reserves to help the people, top up the people’s CPF savings or Medisave or buy insurance plans for the people.

Withholding the people’s savings is not helping the people. The people do not need this kind of help and do not want it. It is NOT helping the people. It is causing hardship, pain and suffering on the people who need the money for their expenses.

Please, have some conscience and no need to help the people in the use of their money. The people are not daft and can help themselves. Hear the people’s cry. But then again, deaf frogs are deaf. What to do?

CPF Minimum Sum raised

CPF members who turn 55 between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2013 have to set aside a Minimum Sum (MS) of S$139,000, higher than the S131,000 for 2011.

Changes will also be made for contributions to the Medisave Minimum Sum (MMS) to help Singaporeans plan for their long-term healthcare needs. (Did Singaporeans ask anyone to be kaypohed to help them plan for their long term needs by taking away their money? Who is asking for help or who really needs help? The helper or the one he is helping?)

From 1 July (2012), the MMS will be raised to S$38,500, from S$36,000 - an increase of 7 per cent.

Another change is in the Medisave Contribution Ceiling (MCC). It's the maximum balance a member may have in his Medisave Account.

This is set at S$5,000 above MMS and would be increased correspondingly to S$43,500, from S$41,000.

I wrote just before the by election that all the increases would have to be delayed but did not know that they cannot tahan already. Now immediately after the by election, all starts to rush out. Just heard that clearing of rubbish will be raised and now this. How many more are lined up to be announced?

Why so desperate to raise CPF minimum when the reserves is one of the largest in the world? Which Ponzi scheme having problems with the payout? This is surely not looking good with our reserves. When there is so much money in the reserves, why is there a need to resort to such dicey and unpopular move? They should plan, yes, plan with the money in the reserves, not the people’s hard earned money, to help the people especially in Medisave. Put some of the big earnings they are making into the people’s CPF instead of paying millions in salary and bonuses.

What more bad news is going to hit the daft Sinkies? They would not listen and would continue to do what they claimed to be good for the Sinkies, especially when taking money from the Sinkies. They don’t even think there is a need to ask the Sinkies. And they are so generous by taking less and the people should feel grateful and celebrate because of this.

$139,000 plus $38,500 work out to be $177,500 frozen with the later probably untouchable by many. And the amount will keep going up annually for the good of the people of course. I am wondering who is more desperate to get their hands onto this money.


Saying the obvious, politely

Telling the PAP that it is going to be history is a bit harsh and difficult to accept. Perhaps there is a polite way to tell the PAP that things are not the same anymore. What has happened in Hougang was an exact replica of the heydays of the PAP. The people rallied behind the party with their hearts, not watching their pockets. It was genuine support for a political party, and PAP had its fair share or giant share of it before. The PAP was the party that the people chose to support and to cheer for.

Would the PAP want to know why the support is fleeing to the opposition camp? It is definitely not because the opposition were better, with more talented leaders. The opposition at this point is time is still a small motley crowd that would be hard pressed to form the govt to run the country. The fault lies squarely on the PAP. It is a confluence of many things, poor or bad policies, self serving policies, poor talents being pushed to the podium as the best talents, a neglect for the people and the people’s interests, alienating the people and taking the people for granted. And more.

Would the PAP be able to see through the problems it is facing them? They have very talented and smart people with them. It is not difficult to know the hard truth if they wanted to. But they could choose to deceive themselves and persist to think that everything is fine. And the old guards will say no problem, we will win back everything. They would even say that Hougang was a piece of cake if they were to do what were necessary. It was the fault of a young turk that refused to listen to the experience old guards. They could do this and that. Put a few men here and there to do what they used to do and easily win back Hougang. Such dated perception of the reality, that things could still be done the old way, will still dominate party thinking. The old school of thoughts and old methodology still rule the inner thinking of the party. And it could turn aggressive and abrasive. You could see the signs during the hustling. The image of gangsterism was there and no one could miss it.

It is not the end of the PAP. It has 4 good years to do the right stuff. It is now the will to serve the people, not rhetoric. Put the money where the mouth is. Slaughter all the fake sacred cows. Look after the people and their interests. The exact and specifics that need to be done are common knowledge. The work is all cut out and waiting. Is there a political will to do the right thing, to, for once, be less self serving and be people centric?

Can Hsien Loong turn it around? Can he stop the slide and revive a party that is turning into a dodo, a deaf frog that is too much of itself? More of the same is not going to work anymore. The old ways, the old guards, must be turned into monuments in the museum and a fresh start is needed, with leaders that are there not for the money. Money is the cause that is seeing the decline of the PAP. Would the PAP wait to turn into ashes befall it rises as a phoenix, or would it pick itself up quickly and fly again.

Guilty, guilty, guilty!

No, no, no, we are fair, we reported the by election fairly. We gave both parties equal coverage. The pictures used were appropriate to the stories. We are not biased! We are a respectable and professionally managed newspaper and we are reporting the facts after doing all the due diligence. This is the roughly the reply from the main media against the complaints by Low Thia Khiang for unfavourable coverage of his party during the election campaign.

Who is telling the truth? Who is dishonest? Whose integrity is in doubt? You be the judge. But, sssssshhhhh, keep it to yourself please. Don’t say anything. Don’t tell anyone. ‘Ren zai zhuo, tian zai kan.’ Translated, Man do, heaven watch.

Wall Streets betting slips

Many funds have been set up to advise high net worth clients on how to manage and invest their money. Actually the term invest is a misnomer. They should call themselves betting agencies, betting the clients money in the biggest unregulated casino, the New York Stock Exchange. Many funny instruments called options and derivatives and a mix match of these instruments were offered to high net worth sophisticated clients as sophisticated and complex investment products. In common layman parlance, these are just variations of betting slips or gambling offered to rich and daft clients who were either too lazy to know what they were, or too confused to know what these products were.

All the products can easily be explained in the language of the gamblers in the casinos, turf clubs or football betting counters. Strip them of their financial and unfamiliar jargons, they are nothing new that the gamblers in these gambling outlets did not know.

Options is simply placing bets and covering the opposite position. Putting $100 on white may lose everything. So to minimize the risk, depending on the appetite, the gambler could put $80 or $90 on red. And if the risk appetite is lower, put $100 on each to cover both sides. To be 100% safe, put a few chips on 0 and all bets will be covered.

Then there will be bets on big numbers or small numbers. The variation will be to place some on big and some on small and a few chips on single numbers, the so called high risk high return part. To package the bets to look more sophisticated, put some bets in big and small, some in white and red, and some in quarters or doubles to confuse the clients and gave them high sounding names like structured notes.

To raise the level of complexity, put the bets across tables or in different kinds of games. Put some bets in the roulette tables, some in black jacks and some in the poker tables. The latter two can charge higher management fee as a gambler would be needed to ‘manage’ the gambling. And call these bets structured funds to mesmerize the daft sophisticated investors.

Options in many instances are nothing more different than betting in a football game. Win if the score is 3 goals or more in call options. In bear options, win if the team loses by more than 2 goals or a combination of such bets. Create terms like spread, shoulders, butterfly to impress the investors. Butterfly is nothing but betting for a win if the scores are more than 3 for, or more than 3 against. Another variation is that any scores of more than 2 goals for or against will be knocked out.

The whole scheme of thing is betting and betting and betting. It has nothing to do with investment which fundamentally is putting money on a company because it has growth potential and to grow with the company through profits/dividend payouts or higher share prices. This kind of investment strategy is too slow.

Sophisticated daft investors would be better off betting in the turf club or in football matches as the games are simple enough to understand without the fictitious financial jargons that meant nothing. It is better to know what one is dabbling with than to be confused by the funds and their derivative products that are out to confuse by mixing a whole basket of bets. Why take the risk in betting that only the fund managers know what it is all about? If investors have high appetite for risk, go bet horses and football matches that are more transparent.

Of course horses and football matches are exposed to match fixing. So could these highly sophisticated betting slips. They are easier to manipulate by the big funds with their big war chests and sophisticated computers.

Wall Street and its parallel models across the world are just highly deregulated casinos and nothing else. Until it reverts to the original model of stocks and shares for investment, it is going to break the world’s financial system. It is no longer an investment market but a market for gambling. Wall Street should stop conning the world that it is a sophisticated stock market and a financial centre. It is NOT!

The worst part is that the snake oils are tainted to cheat the investors wholesale. The odds are worst than the highly regulated casinos in Las Vegas. With high speed computers plugged into the system to check all the buys and sells of small investors and to formulate a sure win position for the funds, how can the rest of the investors win? It is cheating of the first order. It is a crime that is allowed to commit in the heart of the world’s biggest financial centre. Do they know they are committing a crime? Yes. But with all the congressmen and regulators in cahoot, all paying themselves crazily, who is there to stop the embezzlement and daylight robbery?


Globalisation used to be the in thing

We plugged ourselves into the global system in every field. It was a good thing and we have had phenomenal growth by holding on to the coat tails of the American economy and system. And many countries too jumped in and everyone got hooked up into the same system. When the system is sound and doing well, everyone shares the prosperity. When the system is sick, everyone will be infected.

The unfortunate part today is that the global system is so sick, operated by crooks in all colours. And no matter how well run a country is, it needs a badly run country like the US or one in Europe to drag everyone else along. And this gets worst when many of the so called well run and well off countries are troubles themselves. Every crisis is an opportunity to patch up holes, and to create bigger holes.

And the rot does not stop here. The Americans and Europeans have plundered the system, corrupted the system and cheated the system for so long that it is no longer able to continue with just printing money for the crooks. They just cannot print fast enough.

And the safety of being too big to fall becomes the biggest problem as all the too big to fall is falling. Every too big to fall has an empty or rotten core. This looks like the world is set to have a free fall and there is no where to run.

All those stuck with big mortgages and multi million dollar properties are like those too big to fall. But when they fall, it can be quite disastrous. The big foreign banks are retrenching, downsizing. And the people let off are big earners with big mortgages. It is coming. It is contagious.

Low Thia Khiang won Hougang

After the Hougang by election, Low Thia Khiang lashed out at the media for biased reporting in favour of the PAP. This has elicited an editorial reply in today’s ST. The paper denied any unfair practices at all and in all purposes, have reported fairly, given both parties equal coverage and treatment. Low Thia Khiang’s remarks were thus unfounded.

What is interesting is the comment that Low Thia Khiang more or less single handedly won Hougang for the WP. He is so charismatic and the people were drawn to him, loyal to him, and Hougang was his. KNN, Teo Chee Hean not charismatic meh? Auntie killer Desmond Choo not charismatic meh? And Hsien Loong and Boon Wan all not charismatic meh? All the PAP’s charisma not good enough against that of Low and lost the by election. Wah Lau eh.

We have a Singapore idol in the making in Low Thia Khiang, the most charismatic leader that outshone all his opponents combined. He won the election because of his charisma. Aljunied will be with him for as long he wants it. And another few GRCs will go to him in the next GE when he appears on stage. Finally Singapore has thrown up a real charismatic leader, and rightly he should be good enough as the next PM.

Now that the election is over, let’s go back to deal with more formidable issues like population, immigration, housing and transport, upgrading and widening income gap. Actually, to me these are non issues. They are all self created and inflicted issues, petty issues that need not be issues at all. Who insists on bringing more immigrants? Who refused to build more public housing? Who increases the load on the transport system or what are the causes of transport woes? They are caused not by external factors. What about widening income gap? Caused by external factors, cannot be helped, must be like that because this is progress?

Maybe we should give the charismatic leader and his team a chance in the next GE to solve these formidable problems. Low Thia Khiang should start to recruit a good team to prepare for such an eventuality now that his charisma has been acknowledged and a force to be reckoned with.


The obsolescence of a once mighty political party

Is it because it is living the proverbial wisdom of not outliving the third generation? Or is it a party that outlives itself? The PAP is looking more like an obsolete party working itself out of favour from a populace that once held it in high esteem and in awe. Within a brief period of a few years, the awe and confidence just simply disappeared.

I hope I am wrong, but as a political observer, this is exactly what I am seeing. The PAP has lost the support of the people except for some diehards. It still has a lot of yesterday’s glory to crow about. But the future, the way it is leading the country forward, is treacherous and slippery. It is looking very unsustainable in many areas.

The ridiculous high remuneration at the top for deserving and undeserving incumbents cannot be kept going for too long without a healthy money printing machine. And this machine comes in the form of more migrants, higher fees and prices for public housing and public services and taxes. And an ever rising cost of living but a depression of wages at the lower end. It is simply a very vicious cycle that will ground to a halt in an ever greater speed. Tell the people that this is the way it is?

The situation is such that the PAP/govt has dug itself deeper and deeper into a bottomless pit and unable to extricate itself. The high salaries cannot come down without a rebellion from the recipients as they have lived it up, incurred heavy mortgages, and used to a lifestyle difficult to maintain. The high property prices cannot come down without destroying the wealth and savings of the owners. The high cost of living cannot be brought down without hurting the economic growth numbers. The high import of foreign workers cannot be reduced without affecting the industries and economy and to support the high salaries at the top.

It still looks good to some who are enjoying and benefitting from it and blind to the tight rope they are balancing on. No mis-step as the fall is steep. But they are oblivious to what is happening below, the masses that have to deal with the rapid changes of a very expensive city and lifestyle without the accompanying increases in income. Whatever increases will be eaten up immediately by inflation.

How long can the good time last before the bust? Those who are at the fringes are seeing and living the danger facing them. Those that are comfortable are not. However, the cracks are appearing everywhere. Land for cemeteries must go. Land for nursing homes, hospices and caskets are needed but where to build them when the competition and demand for space are growing with an unrestrained population growth to keep economic numbers looking good? Living with the dead, the sick and the old as neighbours will be a norm no matter how unpleasant. There is just no where else to go. The price of growth and growing the economy/population at all cost, to sustain a high living low thinking, no tomorrow or tomorrow will never come lifestyle will have to be paid sooner or later.

And where are the super talented leaders to lead the people? Why is there a feeling of a void, that not many are worthy or being regarded as worthy to lead and command the respect of the people? Many are looking so clumsy and inept and questionable. A side effect of scrapping the bottom of the barrel?

As the party keeps trotting down the path of no return, it is distancing itself more and more from the common people, unable to understand them and forcing them to accept that that’s the way it is, and that’s the way it should go, and be. The income gap is widening. The visions of the rulers and the ruled are widening at heady speed, heading in different directions. When both rulers and ruled do not share the same dream, one must become obsolete or go.

The rousing reception of the WP in Hougang in the by election was once the exclusive right of the PAP. The people were celebrating their victory with an outpouring of unrestrained joy. It was hallelujah! The contrast, the PAP contingent was greeted by cold stares and a few polite waves, a very unfamiliar situation that they were not used to, and would have to get used to as a new future dawns. It is a new phenomenon and a new reality. It is coming to an end so fast.

Just my observation.

Hougang: You are not listening

On paper, Desmond Choo should have walked away with Hougang quite comfortably. There were so many things going for him. The PM, DPM and the whole PAP machinery were speaking and rooting for him. The whole war chest of the govt was in his pocket, so to speak, to spruce up the Singapore slum in Hougang, a neglected constituency left to its own fancy and limited resources. Who can resist the kind of goodies that Desmond is rolling out, or going to roll out for them?

The main media’s courage alone would have won the election for him too. This was not in the case of Png Eng Huat, who was accused of dishonesty and lack of integrity, two factors that would have thrown him out if he were to seek employment or wanted to go into business with anyone. He was written off like a leper.

And what could Png Eng Huat offer except for more of the same? And Desmond Choo warned the Hougangkia that that was what they would get for the next 4 years if they did not elect him.

And the controversies of WP having internal quarrels, party members resigning, Poh Lee Guan collecting his donation slip and could have gone on to challenge Png in a three corner fight. Then the leak of CEC minutes being aired everywhere. This is not just to discredit Png, but also to tell the voters that WP could be infiltrated by moles, a hopeless party that could not guard even against traitors within their ranks. The worst was being accused of being a racist party. That could have been very costly.

All said, with the cards stacked against Png Eng Huat, what was left was the loyalty to Low Thia Kiang and the WP, and the hearts of the Hougangkia. Would they buy the goodies offered and change course? Would they forget the 20 years of neglect, penalties for voting the WP, and threats of more of the same?

There is also a bigger agenda at stake, where is Singapore heading? Are the voters happy with the govt, the direction it is taking, the policies and the interests of the people? And, are they confident that this govt will be there to serve them and bring about a better life for everyone? The big picture was also in play.

The Hougangkia voted against immediate short term gains. They rejected all the offers and promises. They voted for change, and for having to bear with the consequences that they have lived with for 21 years. There is some chivalry left, a sense of justice and fair play, a sense of righteousness, a hope that things can be better with a change in govt in an uncertain future.

The other opposition parties also played their parts by not throwing in a spanner in a three corner fight. It makes the choice of the Hougangkia much straight forward. The victory is the victory of the Hougangkia and those who wanted a regime change. They wanted change, but change in their own terms, not something to be bargained for. They wanted to chart their own course and the course of the country, a new course, not this one.

Desmond Choo gained 3%. In absolute terms, the gain was 124 votes more than his last election. For all the efforts and distractions, this is too insignificant to call a meaningful gain. The PAP has failed in a big way with this kind of result. It is painting on the wall.

2016 is going to see a dramatic change in political fortunes. It will be an election to count the number of GRCs falling, and the ministers that go with them. I have not been so sure about this trend of thought until this by election.

This by election is part of a bigger scheme of things to come. It is a test bed on the emotions of the people with Hougang as a small sample. Some may dismiss Hougang as too small, isolated and does not represent the whole of the island. It may be, but it still represents a big shift in the political mindset and aspiration of the common people. Look at the crowd at the informal WP kopitiam HQ and those in the PAP HQ. The difference is stark. It is the people versus the droids. It is the tide of a spontaneous people uprising against a regime gone bad and its machine. And Hougang is a confirmation that things will not be the same again. It is not going to be a status quo in the next 4 years running up to the GE in 2016.

The only minister that may be quietly smiling could be Tharman. Hsien Loong and Chee Hean are looking very likely to lose their GRCs. As things are today, not many ministers will be around after the next GE. Tharman could be the next PM in a drastically shrunk govt with a small majority in Parliament. Hougang is going to set the ball rolling.


More of the same for Hougang for another 4 years

Desmond Choo has improved his score from 35% to 38% in the by election. His strategy is working, albeit a bit slower than expected. But it is testimony that the same strategy will work and he will gain more votes in the next election.

And what would be in store for Hougang in the next 4 years prior to the GE? There will be two MPs, an official and an unofficial MP serving them. The latter would definitely work harder to want to win more voters to his side.

There will also be more of the same, more porridges will be served, hearing aids and maybe something better. And as for upgradings and queues for more govt goodies, subsidies and handouts, it will be business as usual.

Hougang cannot expect many changes given the constraints of the WP’s party and its budget. But they will get by and move on. Any change coming to Hougang will be in the next GE, when they vote in Desmond Choo, or when there is a regime change with the WP forming the govt.

For the time being, the PAP will live by its slogan ‘Always here for you’. It is so unfair that Hougang is having the service of two MPs. The only irony is that it is still the step son and will be kind of a ‘run down’.  People may ask, how can that be, with two MPs and one always there for them. Hougang should be the best of all the constituencies.

Oops, forgot to mention that Png Eng Huat of the WP has been elected as the new MP of Hougang with 62% majority. And the Hougangkia have chosen to be daft again.

The hard truth

This world is unfair. So accept it. There will be those who are able and become extremely rich. And there will be those who are unable and become extremely poor. The income gap is unavoidable. High property price is unavoidable. High COE price is also unavoidable.

Actually I am not against an unfair world with an unfair system, as long as I am enjoying the unfairness and benefitting from it. Anyone who is benefitting from an unfair system has no reason to complain. They should actually shut up and pretend that nothing happens. Or better, just convince the losers that life is good and everything is affordable. Like $1000 pm income can afford a 4 rm flat or this is the best place for poor people.

This is a natural truth, a hard truth. Another hard truth is that those who are not receiving their fair share of the unfair system should kpkb. This is also natural. 

The existence of both groups is like the thesis, anti thesis and synthesis of dialectical materialism. The wider the income gap, the quicker it reaches the climax, the greater will be the anti thesis forces to forge a new synthesis. This is also a natural hard truth. But those beneficiaries of such inequality would not or could not see this, refuse to see it or try to prolong this state of affair for as long as they could, and be on the right side of the inequality.

Now you know why winners have no issue with inequality but losers have. The tug and pull is an ongoing process. It is normal that the winners will have all the resources to keep the status quo for their benefits. No need to apologise for it. It is just a hard truth and is unfair. So what? So what can the losers do about it? Only winners talk about hard truth as a reality in their comfort zone and that losers must accept it as the status quo and be grateful that it is not worst.


Hougang’s political demography

In the last election, WP won 65% of popular votes in Hougang leaving PAP’s Desmond Choo with only 35%. This may look innocuous enough but on careful scrutinizing, it is actually a very tight situation for the PAP.

The general distribution of voters between the PAP and opposition is normally a 30% hard core supporters for each side and leaving the balance 40% as the fence sitters or swing votes. Applying this general pattern, PAP was only able to win 5% of the 40% swing votes. In this scenario the optimists in PAP camp would think there is room for improvement, to move the 5% a few notches up.

On the other hand, the WP can at most win the 5% from PAP and stripping PAP to the skin of its teeth. This will be the worst case scenario this weekend for the PAP. Anything less is unthinkable and will send a signal that it is all over for the PAP.

Another probable distribution in the case of Hougang, which is an unusual constituency, is that WP has a hardcore support of 45% against a PAP’s 35%, leaving a balance of 20% swing votes. If this is the case, in the last election PAP was only able to hold on to its hard core supporters and WP had a clean sweep of the swing voters. All the lose votes went to WP. This means that PAP was not making any headway with the fence sitters at all.

And the outcome of this by election could see PAP at 35% again or winning some of the swing votes from the WP. It would need to win 15% of the 20% fence sitters to have a chance of winning Hougang. Hougang is likely to be retained as WP needs only 6% from the swing voters to retain the seat. For WP to take anything less than 5% from the swing voters is likely to be remote.

My assessment is that WP should retain the seat of Hougang but will find it very difficult to better the result of the GE as that would mean eating into the hard core supporters of the PAP camp. Desmond is likely to keep his 35% with a +/- 3% either way.

Horror! China’s economy slowing down

The World Bank has issued a warning to stupid Asian countries that China’s economy is slowing down. What it is saying is that these economies would be dragged down because China’s economy is going down. China is going to be in deep trouble and will hurt other Asian economies as well.

Now, would the shitty economies that are going bankrupt one by one in Europe be hurting the Asian countries? Definitely not. Even when the US barely achieved a 1-2% growth would not hurt the Asian economies.

Okay, China’s is going to have a hard landing as they prayed. They have been praying and hoping that China’s economy will collapse and their wish is coming true. How hard is this hard landing, and how bad is the slow down? The official report of the World Bank cuts China’s growth from 8.4% to 8.2%! Oh my God, what a pathetic figure of growth numbers. Only 8.2% growth! This is disastrous. What a badly managed economy, such miserable growth.

Now which country in the world is going to chalk more than a 5% growth? Any country out there? You mean there is no other country out there that can achieve a 5% growth rate and China’s 8.2% growth is so bad that the World Bank needs to issue a warning?

What kind of joke is this? Any country that can attain a 4 or 5% growth number will likely be trumpeting to the world on how well it has performed. 8.2% is not good enough, is bad? Yawn.

A battle for the hearts

I was watching the news last night, trying to catch a glimpse of Png Eng Huat on TV. The coverage of Desmond Choo and the PAP was quite extensive, running into minutes. Desmond got the most air time, speaking at the podium. So I waited to see how much time was given to Png Eng Huat. All I saw was Sylvia Lim, Chen Show Mao and Pritam Singh. Png Eng Huat was not featured at all. Oh I got a glimpse of him in his walkabout, maybe 2 sec.

After a couple of days of coverage mainly on PAP candidate, finally we are seeing some balance in coverage for the two candidates and parties today. Is this a result of the criticism in cyberspace that it was a one sided reporting and a no choice situation to show some fairness in reporting? The perception and comments in cyberspace were that the reporting was obviously a one sided affair.

And what about the campaign tactics itself? The ruling party could have gone on to tell the voters of what they could do for them, on how good they are in meeting the aspirations of the Hougang people. But the key issue was to run down Png Eng Huat, calling him dishonest, questioning his integrity with a sneaky copy of the minutes of WP CEC meeting which was confidential and should not be in the hands of outsiders. The WP cannot use the OSA to arrest anyone, and that sneaky act was used repeatedly everyday to run down the WP candidate.

How this sneaky copy of minutes got into the hands of the PAP is definitely not the fault of the PAP. It must be from someone untraceable, anonymous. Maybe some unhappy WP CEC member. Definitely not a PAP supporter. The people waving this piece of minutes are definitely honourable people and would not stoop to this kind of nefarious activity to get hold of the minutes of a confidential meeting. Waving them in public is also nothing to be ashamed of.

We are at the end of the campaigning. Who will win the hearts of the people, not only the people of Hougang? Every Singaporean interested is watching the whole show and taking notes of how the game was played, who is honourable, who is dishonest, who is playing fair, who is cheating all the way. And they will make their own judgement for this by election and subsequent elections to come.

The verdict will be out in a couple of days. Who have won the hearts of daft Sinkies? Who have taken the Sinkies for granted?


Desmond Choo distancing himself from NCMP issue

Desmond Choo is trying to fight a gentleman’s election in Hougang. He knew that belaboring on the NCMP issue and questioning Png Eng Huat’s integrity over it is like hitting below the belt and will make him look bad. He chooses to be a gentleman and to distance himself from talking about it. He does not want to slip into the longkang.

And I think Png Eng Huat is also doing his best not to attack Desmond Choo personally or drag out other unkind things to say. Hougang voters deserve to see these two candidates fight a fair fight, on issues and on how they want to represent them in parliament, and on bigger things. Parliament needs decent people who will be there to talk about issues of the state and of the people, not to go for character assassination. Though some really believe that they are immortals, the truth is out there for all to see. Mortals will be mere mortals.

Hope Desmond Choo and Png Eng Huat will stay on course and not be misled into petty squabbles. The people of Hougang will have the final say and vote the one they think is best for Hougang and for all the people of the country.

More Sinkie jokes

The banking industry is hailing a grand plan to groom Singaporeans for key positions. My God, they suddenly realized that barely any Singaporeans are good enough to fill key positions in the banks. No wonder they have to bring in foreigners to fill the many top positions in the banks. Sad isn’t it. And it looks like one whole generation of Singaporean bankers have been wasted and now a plan to groom young Singaporeans for the future. Hopefully in 30 years we will have some Singaporeans that are found good enough to fill the top positions in the banking industry.

And the reason is simple. There are just not enough Sinkies with the right experience and skill sets in the banking and finance industries to fill up the top jobs. Now they have to go to third world countries to look for them. What is the matter? A regional financial centre, with aspiration to be a world financial centre, or nearly there, could not train of produce bankers with the right experience and skills. And only small cities in some corners of the world can produce such talents. Is this meant to be a joke? April 1st has gone by for nearly two months! I would think all the third world aspirants who want to learn the latest skills in finance would want to come here to learn the ropes?

If a world class financial centre is not the place to train and throw up experienced bankers, where else can do better? Timbuktu or Fiji Island, or Mauritius? Maybe Bermuda Triangle. And what to think of our world class universities when second and third grade universities from Australia to the US are supposedly producing better and cleverer graduates to fill the top posts here? Gaming the score sheets to be ranked among the best is looking more like a futile exercise, like the straight A graduates that are found wanting to third class graduates from lower ranked universities.

And the banks were proud to tell that 75% or 80% of their employees were Singaporeans AND PRs. What the fuck is this PR thing lumped together with Singaporeans? How many are Singaporeans and how many are PRs? Please tell. Another cannot face daylight fact of Sinkie Land.

This must be a classic joke of paradise.

Making fallacious political statements

Everyday I am bombarded with points that Png Eng Huat is a NCMP reject, honesty or integrity in question, and WP is not respecting Hougang voters by insisting on offering them a reject. I am finding this line of thought a bit amusing and could be turned around and played up as well.

Notwithstanding that Png Eng Huat’s nomination to be NCMP is a totally different issue. Nothwithstanding that even if he was a reject by his CEC, lets look at how would this apply to the PAP candidate.

Desmond Choo was a reject by the Hougang voters in the last election, not rejected by his CEC. His predecessor was a reject over and over again by the Hougangkia. This is direct rejection by the voters, not something that is remote from the context of the election, to ask for the voters acceptance.

Next, why is WP not respecting Hougang voters and forcing them to accept a reject to a NCMP post? Or put it the other way, why is the PAP not respecting the Hougang voters and forcing them to accept candidates that have been found not good enough and have been rejected, in Eric Low’s case, over several GEs?

The other point is about integrity and commitment to serve the Hougangkia. Over the last 20 years, were the PAP there for the Hougang residents when its campaign line is ‘Always there for you?’ Yes, they were there, but many things that the Hougang residents needed and wanted were out of their reach while the PAP was there.

Would the same be the same again if the WP wins? Would Hougang be at the end of the queue for goodies and handouts? Would PAP respect the wishes of the Hougangkia and offer them a better candidate in the next GE and not another reject?

Political arguments are full of holes and can be twisted and turned to suit whatever purposes at the moment. Just bite on a little error or misquote a word, and don’t let go. Shaft the knife in and give it a twist to make sure it sticks. But most political arguments cannot hold water and are made only to score a few points for the moment, if they could agitate the emotions of the listeners. When one steps back, cool down, think about it, most political arguments are just plain hogwash, like mine : )

The brave Hougang spirit

The brave Hougang spirit cannot be dampened by a little rain. There is a sense of pride, a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of hope in the faces of those in the Workers Party rally. This kind of spirit has not been seen for a very long time. They were the losers, the underdogs. They did not go there for freebies. They were not coaxed to be there. They were there, willingly, happily, to support their party and the candidate.

This is something the PAP would have to reckon with. They used to command this kind of crowd and support. They must now recognize that the people of Hougang are very different. Not only Hougang, there were many from other parts of the island joining the WP supporters, to stand under the rain, to brave the down pour, to be with their leaders on stage, who were equally drenched. But you could see them smiling and knowing that the people are truly behind them. There is a unity of heart and soul that money cannot buy.

The spectators could sense it, could feel it. Political leaders surely know that they have won the hearts of the people. I think they have won the election even before the campaign is over.


Stop immigrants - Australia

In the ST today, 50% of Australians in a poll wanted to stop immigrants into Australia. They fear that more immigrants will cause stress to the country’s infrastructure as well as unemployment problems.

How could Australians be worried about over population? If they do not want the new immigrants, Singapore is waiting with open arms. Send them over, we can continue to grow our population to create more growth. Yes, more population means more growth. Can’t the Australians understand this simple economic principle? Australians stupid or what?

In another 20 years Singapore will have a bigger population than Australia and our economy would probably more than triple than what it is today and leave the Australians far far behind. And every Singaporean will be a millionaire.

The Hougang brawl slipping into the longkang

It started with a few swipes at each other. Now the swipes are turning a bit dirtier. Forget about a gentleman’s fight. It is looking to be another great crass act when all the knives will be out soon.

The Hougang leak is just the beginning. It is conceivable to see video clips to go viral in the follow up. Then there will be the iphone taps, the insinuations in cyberspace, and who knows, compromising photos may even appear.

Would the family lives of both candidates be aired as well, the who’s who being connected and the ugly episodes being staged one by one? The primordial instinct to want to win, come what may, is the dominant characteristic of how man will behave in a fight.

The people of Hougang and the rest of the citizens will be treated to an exciting free for all show down. Both candidates could crawl out of the ring covered in dirt and shit by the time the election is over. Great script and great directing and great supporting casts.

The Ferrari and Hougang by election

What has the Ferrari accident got to do with the Hougang by election? Someone emailed a story of a Hougang voter’s encounter with an old man. I am not sure if this is true or just a story. The gist of it is that the Ferrari was going too fast, just like the way the economy is being pushed to fly. And if the driver refused to put on the brakes, come what may, even when he saw the red light, the poor bugger that is going to be killed will be the innocent taxi drivers and passengers. The taxi driver was just going on his life, struggling to earn a living, even at 4am. How would he to know that there was a crazy driver that refused to stop even when the red light was on?

Now, who can stop such crazy drivers, or what can stop them? You need a good co driver beside him to tell him to stop when needed to. And to be effective, the brakes must be working as well to allow the co driver to pull the brakes. If not, if there is no brake or no co driver, the crazy driver will just go about driving crazily. And many taxi drivers/passengers could end up as collateral damages, not knowing what hit them.

The email story said Hougang is like the brakes. You need the brakes in an emergency. You also need the co driver or more co drivers. And remember, taxis got no airbags, no social security when a big bang happens. There is nothing to protect or act as cushion. And make sure the co driver is not a little girl that is infatuated by the Ferrari and the driver and enjoying the wild ride.

The story ended by asking the people if they want more brakes and co drivers or want to be another taxi driver that ended up as statistics. And the moral of the story is….Don’t drive too fast, slow down a bit, watch out for red lights. And stop when the red light is on!

Quite commonsensical really, unless one is high on drugs or drunk.


Why bother with money laundering?


Civil Society, Business Groups Call on Congress to Support Incorporation Transparency, Ban Anonymous U.S. Shell Companies

From the FACT coalition, Global Witness, and Global Financial Integrity.

Civil Society, Business Groups Call on Congress to Support Incorporation Transparency, Ban Anonymous U.S. Shell Companies

Legislation Enjoys Support of Law Enforcement, Obama Administration; Would Clean-Up American Financial System

May 16, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, 41 business and civil society groups sent a letter to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate urging them to co-sponsor the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act (S. 1483/ H.R. 3416). This bipartisan bill, which is endorsed by the Obama Administration, would require companies to disclose their ultimate owners at the time of incorporation, making it much harder for corrupt politicians, tax dodgers, terrorists and other criminals to form and hide behind anonymous U.S. shell companies.

The signatories1, who include, among others, American Sustainable Business Council, Calvert Investments, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Citizens for Tax Justice, Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition, CtW Investment Group, Domini Social Investments LLC, Friends of the Earth – US, Global Financial Integrity, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, Jubilee USA Network, Main Street Alliance, Oxfam America, Project On Government Oversight, Revenue Watch Institute, Sunlight Foundation and U.S. Public Interest Research Group, are concerned that it is legal to form companies in the United States with hidden ownership.

The letter states:

Increased corporate transparency would curb corruption and tax evasion, promote an equitable market economy, reduce the opacity of corporate campaign contributions, help ensure a fair and level playing field for small- and medium-sized businesses, foster global development and enhance national security…

Investigations continue to reveal that American and foreign terrorists, narco-traffickers, arms dealers, corrupt foreign officials, tax evaders, individuals targeted for financial sanctions and other criminals easily and regularly set up U.S. shell companies, without providing any information about who owns or controls such companies...This enables criminals to disguise their identities behind the anonymity provided to U.S. corporations and launder dirty money through the U.S. financial system.

The full letter can be read here.

Corporate secrecy fundamentally undermines U.S. laws to combat money laundering and tax evasion, as well as U.S. efforts to tackle global corruption. A recent World Bank report found that the U.S. was a favorite destination of corrupt politicians trying to set up shell companies to access the financial system. Once corrupt and other illicit funds have been moved through an anonymous corporate vehicle into the financial system, it is much harder to track them down. Shining a light on the ultimate owners of companies, would make it easier for law enforcement to do its job. To date, eight law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police and Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, have endorsed the legislation.

The above passage is part of an article posted in the site Tax Justice Network, an international NGO that is concerned with tax evasion, money laundering and the damages these caused to the ordinary citizens. It seems that the US is a favourite playground for money laundering while the US Govt is making a show of it by making fools of other nations, pressuring them to enforce strict regulations against money laundering. This is exactly the same modus operandi it adopts in calling their enemy nations as aggressors or warmongers when the US itself is the most aggressive warmongers today, creating tensions, starting wars and fighting wars. It screams danger when smaller countries try to acquire arms or nuclear weapons for their national defence while it is the biggest exporter of arms to the world and holds the largest collection of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

The treachery and hypocrisy of the Americans are beyond reproach. Only dumb countries will believe the biggest international gangster and do its bidding, to waste valuable manpower and resources to police money laundering in their little countries when all the major money laundering activities are being conducted in the US.

The Hougang brawl so far

I won’t use the term debate, discourse or election campaign, or anything that will give some semblance of maturity or respectability in the things said at the rallies so far. It is unbelieveable that so many childish and impish taunts and threats were aired as if they were clever points to make, by serious adults.

The kopitiams were full of laughters as they imitate or parrot the things uttered at the rallies. My gosh, are we seeing little children trying to score points against one another in a primary school debate? The secondary school debates were definitely several notches above in terms of lucidity, cogency and thoughtfulness in the points raised by the debaters. And here we are supposed to have a national debate by seasoned politicians. And what were they bitching about? The points were so parochial and pedestrian. Do they know that the school debaters out performed them in every point made. Put the school debaters and the politicians side by side, it is simply a mismatch, and in the favour of the school kids.

I can’t be proud of what I have heard so far. It is like trying to make a snide remark whenever the other party said something that is marginally ambiguous or with some loop holes to exploit. This is quality, we are progressing, raising political debate to a higher level. It is crass politics at its best.


F-35 Lightning II, another American con job

The F-22 Raptor, reputed to be the most modern and advanced multi purpose attack aircraft, is facing a mutiny. American pilots are refusing to fly this aircraft for fear of their own safety. Many dangerous situations have cropped up in flight with oxygen supplies being terminated, and in once case leading to the death of the pilot. Pilots have complained of blackout while flying, my goodness.

Now the American arms industry is pushing for the ultra expensive F-35 as the must have. Actually all these claims were bullshit. The specs of this latest white elephant, and those that came before, is nothing really special, but to match an imaginary superior Russian aircraft that the Americans need to be better of. What a load of rubbish. But the industry will keep on building a bigger and bigger demon and to con the Americans to pay for a bigger and bigger fictitious respond. This strategy is applicable to the other arms as well.

It is good for the American image, for the aircraft manufacturers and a lot of money to go into someone’s pocket. But who is paying? The tax payers are paying billions and trillions for a few pieces of toys claimed to be the best but never be so as newer ones will come on line and asking for more to be paid.

This is another big American con job. And not only the Americans are made to pay, the Allies are also made to pay as if without these aircraft they will lose their country or lose a war. Where is the war? Oh yes, coming, the Americans are going to start a few more in the neighbourhood and states will go to war and will need more advanced aircraft. More advanced than what, a Piper Cherokee or a Cessna?

To cut the story short, there is plenty of money to be had with such hype and by raising tension or starting wars. Russia and China could exploit this American weakness by playing up their own superiority, build imaginery superior aircraft, ships or land weapons and let the Americans chase after the shadows. The Americans love that kind of challenge. Oops, the defence industry loves them and will blow them out of proportion to make the American taxpayers pay for them. And they will spend themselves to bankruptcy much quicker.

Policy change in the main media?

In the last GE the main media was seen as providing a more decent coverage of opposition parties’ election campaign than they were used to. This went down well with the readers for a fairer game. When I flipped open the papers this morning, there was no denial that there was a deliberate shift in the coverage. It was so stark that there is no need to guess or to think where the sentiment lies.

Take the ST for instance, front page says, WP ‘chose not to send Png to Parliament.’ In page A6, a full page of coverage with headings like, ‘Voters free to pick best man’ and subheading, WP already has 5 MPs, Democracy is being free to choose: Denise Phua. Next, WP ‘changing tunes and taking Hougang voters for granted.’ The last two articles were titled, Desmond Choo on why he stayed on despite GE defeat and Parties keep up outreach.

Where is the coverage on WP?

And in Today, the headings, WP flip-flopped on national issues: DPM Teo. The next article on the same full page on the by election, with pictures of DPM Teo and Desmond Choo is, Will WP still serve Hougang if it loses, asks Desmond Choo. I was trying to find something on the WP, but again nothing reported.

And in mypaper, on page 2, Hougang voters value honesty, integrity most in candidates, says reporter Samantha Boh. The article is about how Desmond Choo can deliver and also about how clean he is. Another full page on page 4, Choo: Hougang belongs to residents, and another, Being scandal-free ranked low in poll. There were some mentioned of WP activities at the end of the former article though and one photo each of Desmond and Png.

The message is clear as to who should deserve more coverage in the main media. The battle line is drawn.

PS. Still searching for reports on the mammoth turnout at WP rally. If only it could be turned into votes. Maybe the majority were PAP supporters being there to give the WP a false sense of confidence.

Hougang does not matter, really?

Would the result of who wins Hougang really matter at all? A WP win will add the tally for opposition MPs from 5 to 6. A PAP win will add the PAP’s majority from 81 to 82. So what is the difference?

PM Lee: Whoever wins Hougang by-election will not change the basic picture in Parliament

And he is telling the truth. Hougang is non issue, inconsequential. The WP will remain an insignificant minority party that would need a loud speaker to have its voice heard or it would be drowned out by a cacophony of laughters. As for the PAP, all the bills will be passed, constitutions can be changed at will as it still holds more than two third majority.

So, is the Hougang by election a waste of time? Yes, it is. At least for the term of this Parliament, nothing will really change. At best there will be one extra vote against unpopular bills. At betterer than best, there will be one PAP MP in the name of Desmond Choo that would speak for the Hougang people, but would he still vote for whatever the PAP tabled even if he is against it, spoke against it, or if the Hougangkia did not like it. How can any MP be effective when he cannot vote against a motion by his own party? Such MPs will be as ineffective as the bloggers, only can kpkb for a bit of wayang.

Hougang is immaterial for the short term. Hougang is only meaningful in the longer term. Hougang is like a glimsp of the future, a statement from the people of what they really want or who they want to represent them as the govt of the people. A vote for the PAP is an affirmation that the PAP is the right party to stay and run the country. A vote for the WP is a statement that change is needed, whether a regime change or a change for more opposition MPs to check the govt and have a govt that is more representative of the whole spectrum of the population, not just for the winners and the elite.

But there will be many minor issues that will distract the voters, some very personal and private, some very mundane, some over a bowl of porridge or a hearing aid, or some because they have stood their ground for fairness and democracy. Would the larger good of the people and country take the main stage? Would the WP be able to raise the thinking of the Hougangkia to a higher level, to see further over the horizon? Or would the Hougangkia be convinced that it is a non issue, vote whoever you like, or vote for a little goodie or handouts? It doesn’t really matter, really.

And the big turnout were there just for a party, just for fun? Daft Sinkies do not think politics or politics is not something that bothers them. This Hougang could mean more good years, depending on who you are. Hougang could also mean a stamp of disapproval of the PAP. If the later comes true, Hougang will be a very significant milestone in our political development and political history. The PAP will be history in 2016 if the WP could add on to their previous gains.

What will Hougang foretell in a week’s time? Whatever, it is best not to dismiss Hougang as inconsequential.


Rar Art - A Life Time

This is a piece of very complex rar art. It combines a blending of colours, criss crossing of lines and strokes and layering. All these features come together in a harmonious way without anything looking out of place. The colours are beautiful, the strokes are mature and well executed while the layering gives it depth and complexities.
There is a couple in the centre of the painting and it looks like their whole lives were unfolding in front of them. As one views the painting slowly, more and more images will appear to tell a series of stories of the lives of the couple. Take your time to enjoy this beautiful creation of Mother Nature


A different perspective to population growth

We need population growth to generate economic growth to enjoy a better quality of life. This is the biggest bullshit to come out from any sensible person. Population growth is not the only factor that leads to growth and a better quality of life. The sure things about population growth are inflation, congestion, higher demand for goods and services and many undesirable social and economic consequences that cannot justify the little benefits of growth.

Take a continent like Australia as an example. If with 50m, they can enjoy the whole continent, be productive enough to grow all the food and wine to make merry, why do they need to rush the population to 100m? If without population growth, maintaining at 50m for perpetuity, and they can produce a bit more for each person to better their life, what is the point of producing 100 times more to feed 100m people but did not live better except for a few super rich?

Coming back to home, if with 2m people, the people can have all the space to live in bigger properties, and own cars with more roads to drive around, and they could produce more goods and services to raise the quality of life, why do they want to push the population to 5m or 10m to have lesser space to live, cannot own cars but only to work ever harder to feed a population of 5m or 10m? 

What for? Because the economists say there is no growth? If the population can be maintained at 2m, and everyone has a bigger property and two cars to go with, no traffic jams, and higher skills of people, goods and services produced are getting better with higher productivity, who the shit needs another 3m or 5m people to take away all the land and roads and landed everyone in shoebox flats and car ownership becomes limited only to a few? 

I think the thinking is too simplified. What kind of growth, what kind of progress, what kind of quality of life? If every leader in the world subscribe to the population growth formula for a better life, the whole will be destroy at double quick time. Nature has ensured that population is controlled and not allowed to growth indiscriminately by throwing in many measures to keep it that way. If a better quality of life is simply to have more people, there is no need to have super talents or smart people to run govts.

The situation in Europe is slight different. They could continue to have a good life by being creative, innovative, improving knowledge skill and productivity with a smaller but able population. But they conned themselves into allowing less productive immigrants to fill the ranks and bloated the population base.  They have reached a turning point where the Caucasian or Aryan stocks are being depleted by lesser stocks. This will bring about their demise as a self inflicted cancer. Japan will shrink its population but will continue to enjoy a better quality of life without being adulterated with lesser productive stocks to bloat its population. A smaller and leaner population is good for them.

 If we are not careful, we could end up in the same way as Europe. Irresponsible and mindless increase of population is like drug consumption.


JP Morgan Chase is the best

Obama has about US$1m deposit in JP Morgan Chase. And he is so confident of the bank to praise it as one of the best managed bank in the US. If JP Morgan Chase is one of the best and losing US$2b due to a flawed risk management formula that they have relied on, how many lesser well managed American banks are waiting to implode? Or is this a case of American is best, even when they can fouled up to such an extent?

How many high net worth private investors are licking their wounds for their blind faith in American financial wizardry? How many Sinkies are still staunch believers while privately cursing at the money they have lost from listening to American bank advisers?

Come to think of it, like Obama said, what is US$2b? There are many very well run funds losing tens of billions or hundreds of billions and still crowing how well their funds are being managed. Losing US$2b is chicken feat, a great achievement really, seriously, honestly. Just don’t check my books. The American banking and financial system is the best. They have exported this great formula of success to the world. The last port of call is China, before curtain’s up.

Blessed are the believers.

Hougang - A very strange feeling

I got this gut feeling but not sure if everyone feels the same. There is Desmond Choo out there in the trenches at the front line fighting. And he is telling his superiors to leave him alone, to let him fight his own battle. Is he really that confident that he could win this fight without the big guns? Or is he worried that the big guns will do him more harm than good, like killed by friendly fire? In football parlance it is called scoring own goals.

Could the big guns instead of hitting the enemies, landed on their own troops. The first minister that spoke in the by election is Boon Wan. And he is drawing more fire from the critics. Who is next to speak and to draw more fire to himself and Desmond Choo?

This is the gut feel that is bothering me. Ministers used to lend their weight to a candidate to make the fight easier. What if the minister himself is unworthy or not seen as credible and anything he said could only make things worst? Can this be the case in Hougang? Is there any minister that could speak out and win more grounds for Desmond Choo instead of doing him in?

The whole ball game has changed. How could Desmond Choo depend on the big guns when the big guns are a suspect and could be better off to stay away from him?


Coming to terms of being a loser

This FT smashed his $1.5m limited edition Ferrari to prove how good he was in road racing, so it was reported. Though he killed three innocent people in the process, he hit the newsstand as a young and handsome, successful and rich foreign talent. And they even ogled at the wealth he left behind, a luxury BMW, multi million dollar condos. Who cares where the money comes from? It was reported that he was a very clever investor and made his own fortune. Though there were suggestions of mafia links and money laundering, these were not important in a city state that worshipped success in terms of money in the bank account. More of such successful talents would be welcomed to shore up the property prices and the COEs.

At the other end of the spectrum, there was this retiree lamenting and complaining about a hefty $83 bill he was served with at the Alexandra Hospital’s A&E department. He was also unhappy that the parking fee came to a whopping $6. How could the hospital charge $6 for parking.

The widening gap of the rich and famous living it up and the losers trying to make every dollar counts, no longer making cents count as cents were practically worthless, is raising its ugly head. Throw a few coins on the road no one will bother to pick them up. Throw it into a beggar’s hat and he would frown.

For the loser retirees, they have yet to come to terms with living in a first world city state among the rich and famous when a tip to a doorman could be $50 and to a nice waitress could be more than enough to pay for the hefty hospital bill with plenty of change left. If the retirees are living on their pensions, sorry lah, unless the pension is millions of dollars which some privileged yodas are getting.

A $100k COE is simply peanuts. A few million bucks for a private property is small change. Where did the money come from? The money seems to be floating everywhere, as abundant as hell money. The moral of the story, as told by the elite, live within your means and stop kpkb.

Wealth creator versus wealth manager

Ngiam Tong Dow has spoken of the need to have more wealth creators instead of wealth managers. One is creating wealth and the other is just managing the wealth. He made a false assumption that wealth managers are there to manage the wealth, ie to ensure that the wealth will be there or at least not depreciating. This assumption has proven to be drastically and painfully wrong if we look at the bigger picture especially those coming out from the US.

Many wealth managers are basically gamblers. They are just placing chips everywhere and hoping that there will be more winners than losers. If only their books were to be opened, many owners do not know the truth until the hole is too big to fill.

In reality, many wealth managers are actually wealth destroyers. Yes wealth destroyers. The first thing they do is to demand to be paid a ransom. And whether they deliver or not is not guaranteed. Most will try their best to do a good job. And when the chips are down, when the losses piled up, they take bigger bets and bigger bets, hoping that lady luck will smile on them for once. If not, just too bad. It is other people’s money on the table. They do not guarantee any winnings. The only thing that is guaranteed is the ransom that they will be paid.

Wealth creators, wealth managers and…wealth destroyers. The first is real. The latter two are interchangeable.

The temptation of Hougangkia

For more than 20 years, Hougang was like a step child, abandoned by the establishment and left to fend for themselves. They soldiered on under the leadership of Low Thia Kiang. They literally bit the bullet and accepted their fate, that for some reasons, they would be at the end of the queue for any goodies or handouts. They stood their ground. They were resolute and committed to what they believed in. Today, the pride of Hougangkia and their resoluteness are being tested.

A handsome man came along with a pushcart of abalone porridge or the best free porridge one could find. And he is yelling, this is only the appetizer. Yield to his master and he will rebuild Hougang and improve the lives of all Hougangkia. He is so confident that he could do a lot of good to the band of drifters. No one has yet to ask him where is the money coming from. Everyone, including the young man, takes it for granted that the money will be there to turn Hougang into a Disneyland.

Will the knees of Hougangkia turn soft to the temptation? Will the step child turn into the favoured child of the favourite concubine? That is what Hougang will become if the young man is elected as their representative in Parliament. Hougang will be the new favourite child and bestowed with all the sweets and candies in the candy shop. And Hougang will be represented in Parliament and their voice will be heard.


The last nail going in

We used to have a healthy and vibrant stock market and a finance industry supporting several thousands of professionals and supporting staff. The market used to be plodding along happily in its own steam with steady growth and an envious reputation of a successfully run system. This was despite the fact that it was a very small market with relatively small number of stocks and small number of investors.

There were some unique features in the system that allowed the stock market to function the way it was, punching above its weight like they used to say. The market thrived on volumes and demands over supplies. Where were the volumes and demands coming from in a small city state? There were two unique features that made this possible, remisiers and contra trade. The former took on the role of ‘ah long’, taking high risk, to extend credit facilities to their clients which no banks would want to do or allowed to do, too risky and without collateral. But it worked most of the time, based on trust and knowledge of the client’s ability to pay for losses. This allowed the clients to trade many times more than they were able to without being limited by upfront collaterals or cash deposits. It worked. The market was alive.

Contra trading also facilitates liquidity in the market. Clients could take positions and settle the differences when they squared off their positions. It used to be more than 14 days, and that gave the clients more room to manouvre. The longer the exposure, the greater would be the risk, but also more chances of market changing positions. In a way contra trading played the same part as remisiers in allowing clients to take bigger and more positions than they were able to if trading is restricted to money upfront. For a small pool of investors in a small city state, contra trading allowed the trading volume to appear tens or hundreds time larger.

Between the credit lending role of remisiers and contra trading, the market was able to trade with much more volumes than it could otherwise do. Doing away with remisiers and contra trading would be like knocking in the last nail to send the stock market into the incinerator.

No, apparently the smart alecs don’t think so. They believed that there is no need for remisiers and trading could be done online by computers. The shallowness of such stupidity has proven itself, and online trading is still standing on the high pedestal as a white elephant, too high cost to operate and for too little return. And there were all the other factors that made online trading ineffective and unworkable as a business model. It is history. It is also a reminder of where the market will head if people with little knowledge of how the market works make the decision. And there will be people who know but kept quiet, follow orders as long as they are paid, and do the master’s will.

The next attempt is to do away with contra trading. It is too risky, reduce the duration of exposure. Traders still have 5 trading days to square their positions. And there is no collateral, too risky. There were bad cases of bad debts. This too must be taken care of. Margin trading could be a solution. Better to do away with the remisiers altogether.

In all businesses, there were risks involved and bad debts could be incurred. So far, all the bad debts were manageable and were part and parcel of the business. The bad debts were not in the proportions of hundreds of millions, billions or tens of billions like the losses of well managed funds and banks. If bad debt is such a serious concern, all the big funds and banks should be closed down or not be allowed to take those risks. How come their colossal losses were acceptable as part and parcel of risk takings and taken in their strides as clever investment strategies but losses of small investors were unbearable? How come the few millions of losses by a few individuals in an industry of a few hundred thousand players were seen as so fearsome to live with?

There were rumours that contra trading would be replaced by CFD or contract for difference. What’s the difference between CFD and contra trading? CFD is claimed to be much better than contra trading. It allows the traders to hold their position longer, several weeks even if they wanted to. Shit, contra trading used to be like that but the length of holding to long positions were curtailed, deemed as too risky. In CFD, holding long and longer position is a plus point. CFD also can short positions. Now, why were short positions not allowed in contra trading? Isn’t this as good as saying having free sex is bad but going to prostitute is okay, both offering the same thing but the latter got to pay more?

What’s the difference between CFD and contra trading? Isn’t it contra trading in another name, another form? Oh it is not called contra trading. It is called Contract For Difference. Brilliant eh? The industry is being prepared to switch from free sex to having sex with prostitutes as a better option.

When this happens, the contra players would vanish. The remisiers too would vanish. And they expect the market to continue to thrive, bustling with billions of trades done by the computers. And the funds would still be churning the market without any suckers to pay for their expenses and profits. The funds would be happily chucking along in a stock market with practically no investors and no money to make, just to make the stock market look good for the city state.

Just wait for the smart alecs to knock this last nail in and everyone in the industry can go away. The fictitious trading volumes will still be there, an envy of all the outdated stock markets who can never dream of such volumes. But their phones in the brokerages will be ringing. The brokerages here will be as quiet as a cemetery, if any is still left standing.

Hougang is like part of a bigger scheme of things

Hougang is like part of a bigger scheme of things

Under normal circumstances this could still be the honeymoon period for the elected ruling party to ferment whatever it wants to do. The next GE is another four years away. This is the period for more increases in everything and whatever unpleasant policies, now is the time to throw them to the people. There will be some pain and unhappiness, but the people will get used to it, get over it over time. Then comes the last chapter, the pre election phase when the wounds are healed and little goodies would do the trick to prepare the electorate for more good years.

The Hougang by election must have come at an inopportune time. With this in the air, with the people getting political again and being agitated by all kinds of issues, and introducing or implementing tough policies would give the opposition a good platform to shout them down. Not doing so would have to delay it further down the road and may be too close to the next GE.

Whichever way, the temper of the people would not be given a chance to take a break. The temperature will rise again as in all elections. And expectedly, the opposition would rub the salt in wherever there is an open wound, or would open up old wounds. And it is defending time. The full backs and the goal keepers would not be able to rest or sleep soundly. Where are the goal keepers?

The other important development coming out from Hougang is the closing ranks of all the opposition parties. This is one of the rare instances that the oppositions are coming together to fight a common enemy. It would be interesting to see who would be speaking in the WP rallies. It would also be an opportunity for the opposition parties to rally together, to seek common grounds and build a closer rapport and understanding before the next GE. Hougang could pave the way for a better understanding among the opposition parties, and more give and take later on, and who knows, a united front that they have yet to forge after so many years.

Hougang could also be a testing time for people forced to reveal themselves to do damage to the WP’s cause. Many believe that there are plenty of moles in hiding in the opposition parties. It is a time to see the real stuff, the real enemies within, the desperadoes. But they are unlikely to cause a dent on the WP’s armour.

The PAP will, for the first time, be facing the opposition parties as a single bloc, speaking in unison. No more divide and rule, pulling strings here and there for the opposition parties to dance and bicker at each other. Maybe it is too premature to talk about this. It would be an interesting battle with more actors playing more important roles on both sides. All the big guns from both camps would be firing at the same time. A Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture in the air.


Sajeev Kamalasanan’s resignation from WP

A candidate in the last GE resigned from the Worker’s Party and made an allegation that it is ‘discriminating against Indians’ according to his press statement. How bad the timing is in view of the by election? At this point in time, every factor and matter counts to both parties and candidates in the election. To have a resignation of a key member is bad enough. To be accused of being racist may cause a lot of votes for the WP, true or otherwise. Some voters would be easily swayed by such a statement.

WP must count it as bad luck to have this incident splashing across the news everywhere. I am sure Sajeev’s resignation was not intended to do any harm to the WP. It just happened and no need to read too much into it. Still the WP would have some damage control to do.

Funny, it seems that such unpleasant things often happened to the opposition parties during a run up to an election. I hope Sajeev and the WP do not allow this matter to distract the main issues in the by election and the voters could put this aside for the moment. Alas, knowing how light the ears of the masses are, one goal has gone in.

Money, power politics and Wall Street

There is a four part documentary on the aftermath of the subprime crisis cum world financial crisis created by Wall Street in 2008. The documentary is quite lengthy and very detail in the key players involved in the crisis and the intricate handling and exposure of the toxic waste created by the brightest American financial minds, which happened to be kids really. The derivatives structured by these kids were meant to lower the risk of exposure by the banks to high risk subprime loans. But it multiplied and morphed into many other things and became a bigger risk that almost toppled the whole financial system of the world.

This documentary (http://video.pbs.org/video/2229573868/) is a must view for all regulators and govt officials meddling with their financial systems as well as finance professionals. The lessons to be learnt are many and they were obvious and avoidable but were pooh poohed away by the muscles of financial institutions and the corruption of the members of the Congress. They allowed the toxic waste to go into the system and grow without control, infecting not only Wall Street but also Main Street of America.

Have they learnt anything? With the recent loss of US$2b by JP Morgan Chase, does it tell anything? With the glorification of big earnings by the banks and hedge funds and paying themselves crazy again, do they say anything. As far as Wall Street is concerned, everything is back to normal, before crisis time, and all system is on a roll, just like the good old time. The same flawed and obscene financial system did not change a bit. Banks are still taking high risk is in derivative and proprietary tradings to make quick and easy money to pay themselves millions and billions all over again. Conservative bank practices are obsolete.

The first obvious fault of the subprime crisis was the culture of greed which led the greedy bankers to go after quick money and dumping morality and prudence in the back seat. The banks and hedge funds operators were just gambling, playing with other people’s money for quick and huge returns. And if anything wrong, like JP Morgan Chase, wait for the Fed to bail them out with the taxpayers money. They made the Fed to close both eyes, arguing that they need more freedom to execute their business. There is no need for disclosure. Deregulation and darkness fell on Wall Street. Transparency of deals by the banks and hedge funds were ignored for the bankers to hide whatever they were doing. They cooked the books, devised toxic products, engaged in proprietary tradings against their clients, all under the cover of deregulation or no regulations. They could commit mass murder in a way without anyone knowing, without transparency and accountability. All losses were reported as profits only to justify paying themselves crazily.

Without transparency, without regulations, without accountability, no one was wiser as to what was going on. The bankers kept chalking up glorious P&L, claiming billions of profits when the truth was that they were under billions of debt in taking up toxic waste and trading losses. As long as they could hide them under ingenious accounting, it was as good as sweeping everything under the carpet. And they partied and partied with ill gotten gains and kicking the problematic ball further down the road.

The simple age old wisdom that anything that cannot be told must be told as what cannot be told is simply dangerous was forgotten. That was why it could not see light and must be kept hidden. And Wall Street and the banks got away with it by bribing Congress to let them play bandits and robbers.

They even designed unfair and obscene trading systems using computers to trade against innocent small investors and no one will stand up to say it is wrong, it is unfair practice, it is cheating. And they even got their flawed and corrupted gaming system sold to the rest of the world as the system of the future, with high speed trading, derivatives and deregulation, high liquidity, high volume, high buzz and a quicker bust. They have gained access to many countries, and the stock markets are still ticking only superficially, kept alive by drips, when they are actually in the intensive ward, or nearly there.

Now the Americans are banging on the doors in Beijing to want to introduce such atrocious system to create havoc to the Chinese stock market and financial system. Would the Chinese be smart enough to say no and slam the door at the American face? They would need to seek wise counsel from the Hongkong Exchange to have a better feel of the evil in the system and the damage it is causing to the Hongkong market. There is a Chinese saying, ‘lai ze bu san, san ze bu lai.’ Pardon my translation, it basically says that those who dare to come are not easy to deal with or with ill intent. Ask a simple question, why are the Americans so forceful and persistent in wanting to break into the Chinese financial system? To do charity and bring money to the Chinese or to go in and scope everything there is in there? They have done severe damage to the Hongkong and Singapore financial market except that no one dares to admit it. The dead body is getting stiffer by the days and soon it would not be able to move completely.

Mortis rigor is only a short while away. The Chinese govt and other Asian regulators should view this documentary carefully and know what they are being led into and the dangers ahead. Would China be the last sucker to fall into the trap and become another victim of toxic waste?

Would there be any changes after this latest JP Morgan Chase failure? Some were calling for tighter regulations, invoking the Volcker’s Rule to prevent banks from proprietary trading and taking high risk. The real fault lies in the system, it is systemic, where the administrators and regulators colluded, gave their silent consent to daylight robbery. They could not see anything wrong with the system but were very clever in finding faults with the little guys. Until some of the administrators and regulators are put behind bars for being accomplices to the unfair trading practices in the financial markets, nothing will work. Never has the financial market been so deregulated, when unfair trading practices like high speed computer tradings, proprietary trading by banks against their clients, that cheating the small investors is fair game. And because New York sets the rule, the rest of the unthinking world markets just followed blindly. Were they dull or were they just having a good time with the gravy train?

Hopefully New York will set the precedence and prosecute the whole management team of NYSE for mismanagement and for allowing fraudulent trading practices into the system. Until then, the financial system and stock markets are only waiting to implode.

Buying American snake oil

Friday, May 11, 2012

Risky Systems, Dire Consequences...

Yesterday night a somber CEO had to announce publicly that his bank had lost U$2B dollars in set of complex synthetic derivatives trade,

This CEO is no ordinary CEO but the king of Wall Street, Jamie Dimon, one of the most astute bankers around. The bank went through the financial crisis unscathed but suffered heavy losses last week when a unit of the bank took on complex derivative positions that resulted in unexpected losses:

“This portfolio has proven to be riskier, more volatile and less effective as an economic hedge than the firm previously believed,” - Jamie Dimon, CEO JP Morgan.[Link[

If Jamie Dimon and his bank can't figure the risk they were taking, how will the rest of us ever fully appreciate the risks we are exposed to? ….

The above is written by Lucky Tan in his Diary of a Singaporean Mind blog. It tells a lot about the kind of snake oil being introduced into the financial markets around the world and how the world blindly bought what the Americans sold. Singapore is one of them. China must resist all it can from being duped by the Americans. It is just not worth whatever returns there is. It can ruin financial institutions and the whole stock market. Only duds who think they know best or are gullible enough to believe the American’s sales pitch will go in with eyes wide shut.