Thursday, June 28, 2007

Excuse me, Are you a MILLIONAIRE?

In 2005, Singapore had the fastest growing number of millionaires in the world. In 2006, we still had the fastest growing number of millionaires in the world (see report below). But this year will make 2005 & 2006 look like kindergarden. We are seeing thousands of en bloc-ed apartment deals with owners walking away with millions in spare cash. We see HDB flats sold for $700K....I put mine up for $800K hopefully someone will bite....forgive me, I couldn't resist. We have. in addition to these, hundreds of newly minted stock market millionaires.

Despite the numbers, we are talking about the top 2% of our population who are millionaires. While wealth accumulation at the top is accelerating, cost increases, fee hikes and rising cost of essentials ..and stagnant wages mean that the bottom 30-40% are worse off and a large proportion above that are probably no better off after offsetting seeing their pay hike eaten away by rising cost of living. Guess that would simply mean our GINI index will set a new high this year. ...and with the rising cost, the city, bus interchange and be will also become "more popular" with the rising number of 'sleepers'.

Singapore Inc has been very productive in 2007 creating plenty of wealth and poverty at the same time!

"Nothing motivates better than money...or rather the lack of it..." - Lucky Tan

I leave you with a popular song about the Singaporeans dreaming about joining the millionaire club....

S'pore home to world's fastest-growing population of millionaires
By Tung Shing Yi, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 28 June 2007 1949 hrsPhotos 1 of 1

SINGAPORE : Singapore is home to the world's fastest-growing population of millionaires, according to the annual world wealth report compiled by Merrill Lynch and the Capgemini Group.
The number of high net worth individuals in Singapore grew by 21.2% last year to reach almost 67,000 millionaires.
Singapore's millionaire boom is part of a global trend that saw the number of high net worth individuals rise 8.3% to reach 9.5 million last year.
Among the super-rich are a group called the ultra-rich, with assets over US$30 million.
The growth of these ultra high net worth individuals grew 11.3%, outpacing that of high net worth individuals and suggesting a growing concentration of wealth.
"The main reasons for the growth in the number of high net worth individuals was GDP growth, which was about 8.2% in Singapore last year, and the strong market capitalisation growth reflected in the stock market. Also, Singapore's strong savings rate has helped in the creation of wealth," said Kong Eng Huat, MD of Merrill Lynch, International Bank.
India and Indonesia follow closely behind Singapore in the list of countries with the fastest-growing number of millionaires.
The survey also pointed out a growing preference among wealthy investors to put money into the real estate market.
While the high-end luxury sector in Singapore has been seeing strong demand, Merrill Lynch sees the bull run spilling over to the mass market segment over the next three years.
Mark Matthews, senior director and chief Asia Strategist at Merrill Lynch said: "More and more people are coming to work in Singapore, and as a result of that, people will move out of Districts, 9, 10, 11, into areas like Bukit Timah or East Coast, and prices are increasing in these neighbourhoods as well.
"There's not enough in the private residential sector to meet demand. I believe there are only less than 40,000 vacant condominiums left in Singapore now, and we're expecting over 100,000 people to move here this year."
Global assets held by wealthy investors rose 11.4 percent to $37.2 trillion in 2006, but the growth rate is forecast to slow to 6.8% annually over the next four years.
Going forward, Merrill Lynch expects more central banks to tighten monetary policy, bringing a possible end to the period of high liquidity that has stimulated recent growth.
Growth rates in Asia are expected to ease back as global demand slows. - CNA /ls

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Michael Moore's new documentary SICKO.

Ha Michael Moore the rate he is gaining weight, he will soon be experiencing the health care system first hand!

So what is SICKO about? SICKO is a documentary about the healthcare system in the US. If anyone here thinks the Singapore system is expensive, I suggest you try the US system. I was sent on a job assignment there once and I paid US$200+ per month on insurance. My American friend guaranteed that I'll be sorry if I got sick without insurance I thought better not "try my luck". The US system consists of numerous highly profitable private enterprises while the British have the NHS....the documentary compares the 2.

SiCKO - What Hospital Bills? - Watch the best video clips here

"....after 40 plus years ... the system cannot deliver" - MM Lee on NHS

As Singapore aspires to a medical hub for the rich in the region, ... reduction in subsidy, rising medical insurance cost, means testing which of the 2 system do you think we are heading towards? Clearly the American system that produces so much profits for private corporations is the one Singapore should move towards given our govt propensity for profits. Our esteemed MM Lee clearly expressed his view on the inferiority of the British system so our policy makers know the direction to head.

As we get to top 1st world status and become a profitable medical hub for the rich in the region, I'm sure we will have a wonderful medical system one that will contribute to the high profits of companies within Singapore Inc. Singaporeans are all so lucky to be able to contribute to such a system in the not too far future.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

'Sleepers' in Singapore....

"There are no homeless, destitute or starving people [in Singapore]…Poverty has been eradicated."
-Kishore Mahbubani, Singapore's permanent representative to the UN

"You go down New York, Broadway. You will see the beggars, people of the streets...Where are the beggars in Singapore? Show me."
-Lee Kuan Yew
"There are no homeless people in Singapore because they are called SLEEPERS. Singapore is ingenious we have gotten rid of homelessness without spending a single cent" - Lucky Tan

Everytime I work late and pass by the bus interchange near my place, I notice the growing number of homeless at the bus interchange. Each pillar at the bus interchange now as a permanent resident (PR). You ever wonder why the homeless sleep next to that the tired people coming back from work don't step on them when they sleep. Since every pillar is now occupied, I wondered where a new homeless person would go. The Sunday Times has the answer....

"Sleeping in the city is becoming popular...." - Sunday Times 24 June 2007.

"Sleeping in void decks, Changi beach, bus interchange is also very POPULAR especially among the poor..." - Lucky Tan

Some of you might have criticised the govt for building the extravagant Esplanade spending hundreds of millions tax payers money on a building that hosts operas, musicals and symphonies that only the richer citizens can afford. But you are wrong, while the rich get to watch "Les Misérables", the poor get to sleep in the underpass between Esplanade and the Citilink Mall at night. The Esplanade is indeed a very useful building both rich and poor people get to use it. It seems not all the 'sleepers' are jobless. Why do people with jobs need to sleep in those places? The answer is very simple and logical. The real wages of some workers are now so low that after the numerous bouts of utilities increase, transport fare increase, and rental increases, there is hardly any choice but to sleep on streets. I would do it too if I make $900 a month because I can save $100 on transport because I sleep close to where I work, another $200 on rental and $50-$100 of utilities other words I can save half my income, by sleeping in public places.

As Singapore heads for top 1st world status, the cost of living can only rise relative to the wages of low income workers. We can see greater utilisation of our public buildings, MRT stations, bus interchanges and 24hr MacDonald's outlets as they double up as sleeping areas for these sleepers. It is great that our beloved govt had such great foresight to invest so much money on these beautiful buildings such as the Esplanade we now know how much vision it took.....I really couldn't imagine that the Esplanade could be actually be that useful to everyone.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Another day another charity scandal....

After 2 years they finally prosecuted Durai for the NKF scandal, finally justice done....we can all sleep better yesterday night thinking that the custodians for the money we donate to charity are hard working people.

Well ....all of us got to sleep better for just ONE NIGHT because the headlines today is ......

...and that is just one more to add to the list ...Youth Challenge, Society for the Blind etc. After the NKF scandal broke, public pressure resulted in the formation of an Inter-ministry Committee on Regulation of Charities & IPCs in early 2006. You can read about the new rules and guidelines here. Basically, when it comes to charity even after all the scandals, the govt believes in self-regulation for charities. Given the 'light-touch' and trust that our govt gives to charities we can conclude that our charities are mostly run by honest people with good intentions.

Contrast this to the effort in place to regulate, monitor, stifle and repress the political alternatives. We can conclude that the ranks of our opposition are filled by self radicalised Singaporeans with evil and misguided intentions that needs to be corrected. If allowed to flourish, it will polute our market place of political ideas will slow our progress toward top 1st world status. They will hinder our determined march towards economic greatness for our globalised city by being overly concerned about poverty, income gap, human rights, workers' rights,basic freedoms and democracy. When it comes to political alternatives, we must definitely guard ourselves.

Singaporeans, please continue to donate to charity, they are run by honest people who can self regulate.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Batteries by Human Batteries....

I wanted to get a pack of "AA" batteries for my clock so I went to the ABC thrift shop.

Guess how much these 48 "AA" batteries cost me? S$1 ...yes just S$1. That is about 2 cents per battery. A few weeks ago I bought a pair of goggles for $1.50. What do the batteries and goggles have in common?.....MADE IN CHINA.

A factory worker in China works for about 90 cents(about US$0.60) an hour....If you work as a slave, you get to work for 19 hours a day on one meal a day.

What has all this got to do with Singapore? Well our esteemed MM Lee visited China recently and it was reported in the Chinese papers that he was full of praise for China's system of govt and warned them not to adopt "western style" democracy like what Taiwan and Korea did because it will not be conducive to economic growth. I can imagine that if the Chinese workers are empowered by democratic freedoms and independent unions like those in S. Korea to ask for higher pay than the S$0.90 per hour, it will slow down economic growth. I guess MM Lee understands this very well keep wages low and minimising workers protection is key to rapid economic growth. Chinese workers typically are retrenched when they reach 40 because their productivity drops and they are replaced by younger workers.
I'm glad that our MM Lee is able to advise the Chinese govt on the evils of democracy and how it can slow their economic growth.

Friday, June 15, 2007

NSmen insurance, Singaporeans 1st & other issues.....

I spent the last 3 days in the country north of Singapore. I didn't really have time to look for the kind satay man but found some time to read the newspapers there. Again I didn't have access to the Internet and found there are a few issues actively discussed in the Singapore blogsphere when I got back. Among them : should NSmen be given insurance (FOC)? Should Singaporeans come 1st? Should places be reserved for Singaporeans in NUS? The answer to all 3 questions is clearly NO!!!!

All Singaporeans men get this privilege to serve and protect our country by going through 2 years of NS and plenty of reservist duties after that. Unfortunately, accidents do occur during NS and people die or become disabled. It has been suggested that SAF purchase insurance to cover all NSmen. I think it is wrong to do this. It is a moral hazard. If NSmen are given free insurance, they may develop a sense of entitlement and grow up expecting the govt to give them free health insurance, unemployment insurance and other benefits. NSmen have to be taught that it is for their own good that they start paying for things otherwise they might not form the correct habits for their future survival - nothing comes free in Singapore, take care of yourself because our extraordinary govt won't able to do so. We can also tell that the Malaysian govt is a mediocre one because they actually insure all the men and women serving their 3 month NS...what a joke instead of saving the money for better props during National Day, they actually spend the money on insurance for their NSmen - from the New Straits Times 14 June 2007:

See what happens when you get the kind of mediocre govt that buy insurance coverage for a 3 month NS stint which is actually just a long camping trip - they have to provide subsidised health care ...for example, dialysis for the kidney patients at less than one quarter the price in Singapore. The govt there has lost all its moral authority to raise prices by being so soft on its citizens.

Since we are on the topic of Malaysia, I would like to go on to discuss "Bumiputrification". One Singaporean blogger goes so far as to call giving Singaporeans any advantages in our system the equivalent of "Bumiputrification". This blogger goes on to highlight the evils of a Singaporeans first policy and the hazards of protecting Singaporeans. I would term the idea of putting Singaporeans first, Singaporeanisation. Having returned from Malaysia, I can see what "pro-bumi" policies as done to the Bumis in Malaysia. To see what will happen to Singaporeans in the near future, one just have to close your eyes and imagine what would have happened to the Bumis without "pro-bumi" policies. Yes, I can see on their faces how much the Bumis have suffered from all the "pro-bumi" policies and we can expect Singaporeans to suffer too if Singapore govt implement pro-Singaporean policies to appease Singaporeans.

To understand globalisation further and better appreciate our foreign talent policies, let me start with a number - the number is 5.3 million. .....that is the number of graduates China produce every year. We can actually improve our workforce instantly by opening the floodgates to them - we can even replace the entire workforce if we want to. Why should Singapore Inc tolerate a less educated, ageing Singaporean workforce when it can import younger and better educated to get to top first world status faster? Why should our elite leaders be held back by the mediocrity of Singaporeans? Singapore is Singapore Inc a business entity whose key goal is to maximise GDP. Why should the ambition of our esteemed leaders be held back by its less able ordinary citizens? If you view Singapore simply as a business rather than a nation that consist of loyal citizens, all this makes sense. Singapore citizenship is merely an employment by Singapore Inc....and success is defined by how much profits Singapore Inc makes rather than how Singapore Inc treat its employee/citizens.

I really can't think of another other nation that embrace globalisation as much as Singapore. 800,000 foreign workers and growing...offers of citizenship, scholarship etc places in our tertiary institutions. I'm sure this is the fastest way to top 1st world status. We should all learn to measure success as the performance of Singapore Inc and not what happens to people who are born as Singaporeans.

When globalisation began 2 decades ago, Singapore workers benefits' were removed - pension schemes, medical benefits, retrenchment benefits gone and laws were revised to make it easier to retrench workers. We globalised and removed protection for workers at the same time. Also happening at the same time was our esteemed PAP govt eliminating political competition, hiking its own pay and awarding itself more benefits like pensions for ministers and MPs. The conventional wisdom at that time was that the freer the market, the better our lives will be. I think Singaporeans now know what has happened and would be the best people to say if their lives have actually improved.

While democratic countries take steps to ensure the full benefits of globalization gets to its citizens, Singapore leaders don't have to waste any time on this. Our esteemed leaders will get us to top 1st world status as fast as possible, there is nothing to stop them as they apply the same formula - foreign workers ....and more foreign workers. They don't need to bother with rising poverty, increasing income gap and structural unemployment among the older workers. Globalization will definitely be good for Singapore Inc and its top executives...their painful sacrifices will not go unrewarded. As for ordinary Singaporeans, they should learn to appreciated the challenges coming their way and be prepared to work harder and longer to be prepared to contribute more(...and more) to Singapore Inc.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

How the govt helps the poor!....

I challenge all of you who say the PAP govt does not help the poor. Do you know the poor can get $50,000 from the govt provided they follow a few simple rules? ....You have to be poor, uneducated and have 2 or less children - if you undergo ligation (sterilisation), the govt will start helping you with housing and education grants. If you are poor and have 3 or more kids, you get nothing under this scheme. The scheme is called HOPE and offers hope to poor people who understand that they shouldn't reproduce themselves although Singapore needs a bigger population we don't want more of this type of poor Singaporeans.

Read about the HOPE Scheme here.
and here

Although the fertility rate in Singapore has fallen from 6 to 1.2 after 40 years of PAP rule, the PAP is extremely worried that the poor will reproduce themselves . Most of the incentives for having more children are aimed at the rich - tax breaks and cash bonuses. The poor who pay no income tax and cannot afford to set aside money for the $ for $ bonus schemes will enjoy none of the incentives.

In our meritocratic inclusive society we are told that everyone has a good chance of succeeding and that social mobility is high so why sterilise the poor? It is actually for their own good that they have fewer else are they going to afford the endless fee hikes, price increases and transport fare increases. This is what makes our govt extraordinary compared with other mediocre govts who help the poor by giving grants to each child in the poor family.

The Singapore govt is just great - it eliminates poverty by downsizing poor families. I hope the govt succeeds at eliminating poverty by downsizing families and diluting poverty away by importing rich foreigners. We can all be rich in Singapore.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

An Elderly gets RETRAINED....

Remember all the PR on about the various schemes to help the elderly get retrained so they can work until they drop dead or become so frail that the qualify for public assistance which is enough for 2 meals a day. ...I've always wondered why so many old folks end up as cleaners even after all that retraining. For myself, I've already trained myself trained to clean tables because it is unlikely the nearby coffee shop will hire me as a helper instead of those pretty Shanghainese girls.

Read about what really happens when you try to get on one of those govt retraining programmes....

June 9, 2007

An oldie goes in search of training
MUCH has been said about retraining and putting oldies like myself back into the workforce to boost the economy. But where and how do I start?

I called the Community Development Council to ask where and how I could get retrained. The officer who answered my call asked me to call NTUC because they 'don't have retraining'. I did as told and a woman told me that they are training folks for ElderCare, i.e., as caregivers to the elderly.

Why don't I try the Centre for Seniors, she suggested. Again, I did as told.
This time, I was told: 'Oh, we train the elders who are already in the workforce. Try the Workforce Development Agency.'

Margaret Mary Chan Mui Thye (Ms)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Time to change our pledge!

" build a democratic society based on justice and equality...."- Singapore Pledge
,You know they make us recite this several thousand times from primary school to junior college. The problem is some young people actually believe it and take it seriously. See what happened to them:

Thanks to our alert police, this group of Singaporeans are now investigated for trying to incite violence. One may think that Singapore is a civilised and democratic society where differences in opinion can be settled through open discussion, however, there are dangerous elements in our society that have been uncovered by our police. I'm surprise some of these people are actually quite young and probably have been exposed to bad influence.

I applaud our police for acting professionally and objectively as an institution that truly protects Singaporeans and not as an extension of a mindless security apparatus of a police state. These people were really out to harm our society and incite violence otherwise why would the police be investigating their actions.

"Maybe we should change it to build a vibrant economy based on corporate profits and income inequality....." - Lucky Tan

We should continue to be vigilant and overcome dark forces that try to spread disaffection among our happy citizens and thereby inciting them to carry out violent acts like standing up for their basic rights. They should be sitting at home watching TV every day when they are not out working or shopping. Singaporeans are so lucky to have a vigilant police force that protect them from the evil intent of young men and women who take the pledge too seriously.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I'm BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!

I stepped off the plane just 2 hours ago. About a week ago, I was sent on an urgent assignment overseas. I was told in the morning that day and had to leave in afternoon. I didn't even have time to pack my luggage and say good bye when I left. I had a miserable time - worked until 11pm every night. The hotel charged 10 euros per day for Interent access. Unbelievable!! Having no Internet access is like going without food - starvation. Not reading Straits Times is like going without oxygen - suffocation. Staying in a country not run by the PAP is simply hell! It is great to be back. My mom saved all the 'oxygen' for me in a box.
I went to the coffeeshop for my favorite 'zhi char' just now to order 'hor fun' just now. Hor fun is now $3.50 vs $3 before my overseas how fast prices can rise in Singapore. They tend to go up in big discrete steps of 25 or 30% at one go just like some people's pay hikes. I heard that NETS has implemented a levy increase of 300%....because our banks claim they cannot support the system anymore....oh yes they too have been making a painful sacrifice for many years. For every $1 you spend using NETS, about 10 cents will go to the banks and the govt. So what can you do about all these price increases? ...Protest?...You better not lest you be construed as inciting violence like these people from the Freedom Walk . They best thing you can do about it is to work hard to pay for these increases and remain silent. That would be best and if you can't take it, breathe in more 'oxygen'.