Monday, October 29, 2007

Govt to ease Traffic Jams!!!!

Yes, there has been many complaints about congested roads, frustrating traffic jams and the govt is very concerned with the whole situation. The govt has heard your feedback and feels strongly it needs to respond to your concern. ...and the solution to the traffic jam is..... Higher ERP charges! While the govt of other countries have to solve their traffic jams by spending money to build highways & widen roads to increase road capacity, the Singapore govt solves traffic jams by asking Singaporeans to pay more for using roads.

.....Those who want to avoid paying $5 should wake up earlier. The charge for going through this gantry between 7.30am and 8am is $3.50 (also up 50 cents)......

Those who want to avoid paying for ERP have to do with less sleep and get to work earlier....and if you want to save even more money, you leave your workplace later and avoid the evening peak hour.

Those who have been complaining, you can stop now, the solution is for you to pay more and the traffic jams will will the complaints. You should be glad that the govt has made you part of the solution. For those of you who take public transport and are not part of the problem, you get to be part of the solution too, you also get to pay more as bus & taxi fares go up. See we are an inclusive society so nobody should feel left out when it comes to price increases.
Oct 29, 2007
Maximum ERP charge goes up to $5 from Nov 5
Third round of increases - by 50 cents - this year comes on the back of higher fuel charges.

By Christopher Tan

CAR prices may be at their lowest in over a decade, but it is getting costly to drive. The Land Transport Authority on Monday announced that the Electronic Road-Pricing (ERP) rates will go up by 50 cents from Nov 5 - the third big-scale increase this year.

The latest adjustment brings the cost of entering the Central Expressway via the Pan-Island Expressway between 8.30am and 9am to a stiff $5. This route made news early this year when its ERP charge went up to $4. It was then raised to $4.50 in the middle of the year, before the latest record price.

Those who want to avoid paying $5 should wake up earlier. The charge for going through this gantry between 7.30am and 8am is $3.50 (also up 50 cents).

Central Expressway users once again bear the brunt of charges. Those passing the gantry north
of Braddell Road between 7.30am and 8am will pay $2.50 from Nov 5; and those passing the gantry south of Braddell Road between 8.30am and 9am will pay $4 from that day. The $4 charge also applies to those joining the CTE from Serangoon and from Balestier.
Next, the Bendemeer Road rate will rise to $1.50, while the Thomson Road rate will go to $2 from Nov 5.

Motorists will have to contend with these higher usage charges on the back of higher fuel bills. Since June, there has been no fewer than six rounds of pump price increase, bringing the cost of two petrol grades past the $2 level.

Motorists who have been bracing themselves for the set of new gantries coming on on Nov 1 will now have temporary respite. The LTA has decided to postpone the starting day to Nov 5, to align with the new ERP rates.

The next ERP rate revision will be in November, when prices are expected to fall in line with lighter traffic because of the year-end school holidays.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Singaporeans try a short cut to riches!

"I'm a legend- better than Warren Buffett"
- James Phang, Sunshine Empire's International President.
Straits Times 26 Oct 2007.

"Oh yeah, but are you better than the
other feller called Charles Ponzi" - Lucky Tan

Singaporeans are lucky people. Once in a while a guru emerges among us to make us all rich. This time it is the Sunshine Empire investment scheme. A friend who attended one of their presentations told me the company claims that for an investment of $12K, you will get $1000 back every month for the next 8 years. Wow that is a blockbuster return of 700% over a period of 8 years. No wonder its International President, James Phang told the Straits Times he is better than Warren Buffett, with returns like that, he makes Warren Buffett look like a real financial whimp!

"We acquire companies like you go to market buying beancurd..." - James Phang.
"Oh Mr Phang, the auditors will soon be counting your beans" - Lucky Tan.
What secret method does Sunshine Empire use to generate such fantastic returns? Wonderful imaginative projects. Take the theme park + underwater hotel project in Sabah , it is such a big secret, the Malaysian authorities have not heard about it.

You might think that a underwater hotel will be an impossibility due to the engineering challenges. But for this company and its investors nothing is impossible!

"We have entered an era whereby imagination is much more important than knowledge and creativity, much more effective than productivity..."-James Phang

"I see. So the road to riches is to sell imaginery profits to ignorant lazy people" - Lucky Tan

So how many Singaporeans have invested in Sunshine Empire? The last count is 20,000. At a minimum of $12K a piece we are talking about at least $240M of Singaporeans' hardearned money sunk into this fantastic venture.

You can find many Singaporeans on the web/blogs promoting this investment. This intelligent woman called Irene Rexlee is one of them. I guess she has figured out how underwater hotels can be built. Here is an extract from her blog which is known as Irene Rexlee's Online Business Secrets:

.. If Sunshine Empire was a scam,
..Would Singapore’s office continually be situated at HDB Hub (Government building)?
..Wouldn’t Singapore’s efficient law and order bodies take action?
..Would Singapore Tourism Board welcome Sunshine Empire International Merchants to
Singapore at the airport?

See Sunshine Empire is not a scam because it is located at HDB Hub (gee I didn't know that HDB hub tenants have to take an integrity test)....our authorities have taken no action (except MAS blacklisting it on its Investor Alert List)...and the Singapore Tourism Board welcome its members (like it did the 4 million tourists that visited Singapore last year). ...another blogger called Low Hang Wei also has a few very unique reasons for making investments in Sunshine Empire.

Given there are about 1 million families in Singapore, 20000 investors is roughly 1 in every 50 families....taking part in this investment scheme. Singapore is efficiently governed by the rule of law. If more than 5 people assembly to give out pamplets on freedom & democracy, the police will arrive in 10 minutes to protect our society from those harmful ideas. This investment scheme has been in operation for months simply cannot be illegal because if it harms our citizens in anyway, I'm sure our vigilant authorities will apply the rule of law to protect Singaporeans.

PM Lee congratulates new Myanmar PM

PM Lee congratulates new PM of Myanmar
By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia
Posted: 26 October 2007 2144 hrs

SINGAPORE : Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has congratulated Lieutenant-General Thein Sein on his appointment as the new Prime Minister of Myanmar. In his letter to the new Premier, Mr Lee said Singapore and Myanmar enjoy friendly and long-standing ties, and with the new Premier's support, Mr Lee is confident both countries will be able to bring bilateral relations to a higher level. Mr Lee also said he looks forward to working with his Myanmar counterpart to further the broader interests of ASEAN. The Singapore Premier and his wife have also invited General Thein Sein and his wife to to attend the ASEAN Summit in Singapore in November. - CNA/ms

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why Peaceful Protests are not allowed in Singapore...

An excellent letter from one of our civil servants from MHA explains why:

Many Singaporeans have never seen a protest in their life. Although Hong Kong which is under communist China allows protests, it is extremely dangerous to allow peaceful protests in Singapore because one cannot be completely assured that it won't turn violent. Nobody knows why but there is a higher propensity for violence among Singapore protesters compared with those in other countries like Hong Kong.

Don't the people of other countries have avenues to express their views such as writing letters to the Straits Times forum and Government Feedback Unit? It is not surprising that without the extraordinary leadership in Singapore, citizens of other countries have to resort to protests to have their voices heard. In Singapore, our extraordinary leaders always know what is best for us so there is no need to protest.

Take the GST issue as an example. When the Hong Kong govt tried to implement this wonderful idea to catch up with Singapore, Hong Kongers took to the streets and prevented their govt from implementing it. In Singapore, the govt is not only able to implement GST, it can choose to increase whenever it needs to, for the good of Singaporeans. When the Hong Kong govt tried to implement anti-sedition laws similar to those that are found in Singapore, it was foiled by 60,000 protesters. These people don't understand that those laws are meant to protect them.
Protests are a waste of time in Singapore. Whatever our esteemed leaders decide, it is for our own good. The excellent truthful letter below which says that there is always a chance that a protest can turn violent so it should be disallowed. I completely agree with that logic - for many years, I have insisted that soccer matches be banned in Singapore because there is no complete assurance that there are no soccer hooligans among the emotive crowd who will turn violent. We should also ban Rock/Heavy Metal concerts.
Singaporeans are so lucky to have laws that protect them from harm. No protests, no gay sex, no walking around naked in your own home.
Govt explains stand on 'peaceful' demos

A FEW letters in the press have argued that peaceful demonstrations should be permitted and even encouraged.

If there can be complete assurance that peaceful outdoor demonstrations cannot turn violent, the case for permitting such activities would be straightforward.
Those with violent goals typically do not declare their intentions upfront.
While most demonstrations and protest marches may not start with violence in mind, instances when they do turn violent are many. Illustrative of this are the violent clashes at WTO meetings in Seattle (1999) and Hong Kong (2005) and, more recently, the G20 meeting in Melbourne (2006).
When Singapore hosts such international events, we must account for the enhanced security threat level they attract. Our top priority must be to ensure the security and safety of the event and participants. We cannot afford to let our guard down or allow activities which undermine our security arrangements to address this threat by diverting and locking down forces for demonstration control and law-and-order functions.
The argument that such violent instances of demonstrations are occasional when compared to the total number of peaceful demonstrations is valid only if we are prepared to bear the costs of such outbreaks, however occasional.
The worst race riots in Singapore history began as peaceful processions. Hence even one such violent riot in Singapore with its attendant loss of lives, injury to persons, and damage to property is one incident too many. Deeper than the physical damage are the scarred relations between communal groups and the erosion of the sense of order and security which Singaporeans value and cherish.
The existing law on outdoor assemblies and processions therefore requires organisers to apply to the police for a permit which the police will evaluate for potential impact on law and order.
Indoor political events organised by Singaporeans for Singaporeans are exempt from having to apply for any permit. This is because the potential for disorder in an indoor setting can be more easily managed should it occur and the extent of damage more reasonably contained from the outset.
We will evolve our policies, as we have, over time but there can be no abdication of the need to always balance maintaining order and security for the larger society while adjusting the parameters to accommodate aspirations for different forms of political expression among some segments of our society.
Toh Yong Chuan Deputy Director International and Corporate Relations Division Ministry of Home Affairs

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Come on gay Singaporeans don't feel too bad lah....

Don't take it too hard. You have a place in our society. The same place as the people who like to walk naked in their own home, assemble in groups of more than 4 without permit, sell chewing gum, speak in public without permit, keep nudie pictures on their hard disk and make party political films. We are a unique society and therefore have to keep laws unique to Singapore in line with our Uniquely Singapore campaign.

Gay men should be thankful that our police have been lenient to them and have not sent thousands of policemen to spy on their private activities for the purpose of prosecution. They have to understand that that the majority find their activities offensive and unacceptable. Although these 'activities' are private and unseen, some people are offended by the idea that it should be decriminalised. They feel better that gays in our society remain as criminals and this is somehow good for our society.

In the late 90s, I was sent to California with a colleague to source for cutting edge technology for my company. At one company in San Jose, I noticed a strange poster while waiting at the lobby. The poster had a very long list of famous names "Keynes, Da Vinci, Michaelangelo....." and nothing else. When the engineer we were meeting arrived, I asked him what the poster was about. He said without batting an eyelid, "This is a list of famous gay men...". I almost said, "If they were in Singapore, they would all be criminals", but it wouldn't be nice to boast to my host about the great laws we have in Singapore, I was sure he knew about the chewing gum ban in Singapore so there was no need to impress him further.

Although places like California continue to thrive and its society vibrant, Singapore's gay men are particularly evil and have to be criminalised for fear that they will harm our society. In the 70s & 80s, it was thought that men with long hair were also evil - they were prevented from entering Singapore by our immigration. Our unique fears are protected by our unique laws....Singaporeans are well protected.
Government does not endorse gay lifestyle: Singapore minister
2 hours ago
SINGAPORE (AFP) ¡ยช Singapore's government does not want to endorse a homosexual lifestyle, a senior cabinet minister said Monday, as parliament debated a rare petition to repeal a law that criminalises gay sex.
A member of parliament filed the petition to repeal the relevant part of the Penal Code on the grounds that it is discriminatory and violates constitutional safeguards on equal rights.
It was the first time in more than two decades that parliament had heard a petition, local radio reported, and coincided with debate on the most extensive amendments to the city-state's Penal Code in 22 years.
The MP, Siew Kum Hong, who is not gay, said the government's proposed changes would allow anal and oral sex between two consenting heterosexual adults.
However refusing to decriminalise the same acts between homosexual and bisexual men is discrimination, said Siew, who filed the petition after an online campaign to repeal the section.
Arguing for the section to be retained, Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs, Ho Peng Kee, said Singapore remains a largely conservative society.
"While homosexuals have a place in society... repealing section 377A will be contentious and may send a wrong signal that the government is encouraging and endorsing the homosexual lifestyle as part of our mainstream way of life," Ho said.
Public feedback on the issue had been "emotional, divided and strongly expressed," he said, but most people wanted to retain the section.
"The majority find homosexual behaviour offensive and unacceptable," Ho added," noting that police nevertheless have been lenient in implementing the law.
However, Siew said private, consensual sexual acts between adult males would "not impact on the safety and security of society."
"Now is the time, not to do the pragmatic or easy thing, but to do the right thing," he said.
Stuart Koe, chief executive of the Asian gay portal,, and one of the people behind the petition, said that for gays in Singapore, Section 377A has been like "a gun pointed to their heads."
Singapore celebrities joined the campaign to repeal the anti-gay sex section by appearing in a rap video posted on the YouTube website.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Stock Market Memories & Recurring Nightmares...

"OCTOBER: This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February" - Mark Twain
I remember Black Monday 19 Oct 1987 every well. Although it was 20 years ago, I can remember it like it happened yesterday. I remember being in a van with my friends and holding a bottle of coke in my hand when I heard the news that the US stock market plunged 22% in a single day. I thought my future had suddenly turned bleak and we were entering the great depression of the 80s. The newly appointed Federal Reserve Chairman a relatively unknown economist who had taken over the financial legend Paul Volcker. The last thing anyone wanted was for a new guy to be handling a crisis of this magnitude. That greenhorn was Alan Greenspan......and the rest was history.

Black Monday created a lifelong interest in financial bubbles and crashes. What caused Black Monday? According to the EMH (Efficient Market Hypothesis) for such an event to occur in my lifetime is less that winning 4D on any given weekend. There has been alot written about Black Monday since - some people blame it on computerized trading, others on the weak economic conditions. My preferred explanation of the event is that it is caused by almost entirely by psychology. In 1987 investors started to feel that the conditions were similar to 1929 and sold stocks based on this resemblance. This theory is outlined here and in George Soros' book the Alchemy of Finance, he mentioned that he sold stock ahead of Black Monday because he was shown a chart of 1929 superimposed onto 1987....the uncanny resemblance caused him to sell.

Was it coincidence that the Dow Jones Industrial fell 367 points last Friday 19 Oct 2007 on the 20th Anniversary of Black Monday? Last Friday was the 3rd worst loss in terms of points for the Dow Jones in history and caused the ST Industrial to fall by a hefty 106pts today and the Hang Seng to plunge by 1000+ pts. So what if the selloff is caused by the ghost of 1987?

Well if the falls in stock markets over the past few days are caused by bad memories of Black Monday, surely it has to recover because bad memories are transient (or are they?). What good is a theory if one doesn't use it to make money?!......

Towards the close of the Hong Kong market today, I bought HSI call options. These are financial derivatives that lets one bet on the Hong Kong market going up. Of course, I didn't bet my house, it is just a small sum....but lets put the theory to the test.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chee Bashes Singapore Govt!!!

The IBA (International Bar Association) delegates from all over the world were thoroughly impressed with Singapore, having been through our world class airport, clean streets, Esplanade and world class hotels etc etc. After listening to the impressive speech by our DPM Jayakumar on how the rule of law in Singapore works for the interests of the community unlike the rule of law in Western countries that tends to emphasise individual rights, they probably understood that there is alot they have to learn from an advanced successful 1st world country like Singapore. It is their last day at the conference, until the point in time when Chee Soon Juan walked up to the mic, the delegates have formed a near flawless image of Singapore......

Just because he has been bankrupted and jailed 6 times, mainly for speaking in public, it is not right for him as a Singaporean to stand up in public to share his own experience with these foreign delegates. If he has any personal grievances, he should do what other Singaporeans do - write to the Straits Times Forum or the Feedback Unit. If his problems are more serious than the complaints about roaches at the void deck, I'm sure they will publish it. Asking our esteemed DPM for answers in a public forum with foreign delegates around with simply unacceptable. As citizens of Singapore Inc, we all know that it is important to smile and say nice things about Singapore when there are foreigners around to enhance our corporate image. Asking our esteemed DPM why he was not allowed to defend himself in court & why he was jailed for public speaking is totally inappropriate, foreigners unfamiliar with our unique system of govt may be taken aback and get a negative impression of our govt.

For bashing our govt, Chee is bashed in The New Paper. Like the reporter Andre Yeo of The New Paper, I'm saddened to see a group of Singaporeans bash our beloved govt in front of foreign guests. We, in Singapore, are free to speak as long as we can get the right permits so it is not necessary to confront our leaders in such a manner. As Singaporeans, we must try to ensure that foreign delegates leave Singapore with nothing but praise for our efficiency, beauty and warm people. They have to understand that there are very few Singaporeans like Dr. Chee who have such a strong desire to speak in public and get jailed for it. Most Singaporeans are silent on most issues after 4 decades of PAP rule, the desire is gone!...Singaporeans channel their energy to shopping, eating and making money.

Chee is so unappreciative of the kindness the PAP govt has shown to him. To date they have not used their ultimate law in their rule of law, the Internal Securities Act to correct his wayward actions. Maybe they don't want to turn him into an Aung San Suu Chee. As far as I know the Myanmar junta also believes in the rule of law - any desired government privilege or action can simply be made by the government into a legal provision.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Public Assembly in Singapore....

Within 30 minutes a large crowd of more than 150 had gathered in Singapore and was starting to get rowdy. You might think this was an illegal assembly but the police did nothing. All of a sudden people started raising their voices and holding up signs. I expected the police to start demanding for their IC to take down their particulars and arrest these people ....but the police did nothing. I walked closer and took a look at the signs...."I LOVE U RAIN"....was what they said. For the uninitiated, Rain is a hot Korean singer...the huge crowd followed him as he got out of the airport into his limo ...had the signs contained dangerous words like FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY, JUSTICE, BURMA or EQUALITY the riot police would have arrived and the illegal crowd would have been arrested for public disturbance.

It is okay to cheer your favorite pop star but if you hold up a sign with the word "DEMOCRACY" on it, you will be investigated for inciting violence. Same behavior..... different response from the police.

A month earlier, on August 25, 2007, 30 to 40 Burmese residents in Singapore had marched two kilometers down Orchard Road, the main shopping street, to a point near the City Hall. They did so to show solidarity with the then-nascent protests in Rangoon over the recent fuel-price hikes. "They just wore ordinary white T-shirts, carried no placards, and no one shouted slogans," reported an observer. "It was entirely peaceful."

The point was to send pictures back to Burma to encourage their compatriots. Barely 20 steps from the starting point, the group was intercepted by a police inspector and four or five officers videotaping the participants. The inspector "advised" the participants not to proceed, or else they might face charges. To underline the seriousness of the warning, ID particulars of 23 of the participants were
recorded. Despite this, the march continued, only to encounter the same
police officers about one kilometer further on, near the presidential palace. Another warning was given. A week later, at the end of August, the 23 participants received letters from the police requiring them attend police interrogation over this "illegal procession". They had to make signed statements, and were issued a warning not to participate in
any such activities again. Said one of those who was called up, whose name has to be withheld for her own safety, "the police told us: 'If you do it again, you will be deported immediately'

It is okay for rowdy crowds to gather to greet and follow their favorite pop stars around but it is absolutely illegal to conduct a small peaceful march for the victims of brutality in Burma. Singaporeans are so lucky to have a police force that is able to distinguish between harmless pop idol worship and promotion of harmful values such as justice, equality, freedom and democracy. Our society is allergic to certain dangerous ideas and the Singapore Police Force is there to protect us and preserve our society.

Expats need to be educated.....

I'm so shocked to see expats protesting against the Burmese junta. Don't they know that protests of 4 or more people are illegal in Singapore? I'm so disappointed that our police did not show up at all allowing these foreign criminals to get away without punishment.
Our esteemed leaders have already said that the Burmese junta has to be preserved and the Burmese people are incapable of governing themselves without the junta. It is for the good of the Burmese people to preserve the junta. It is disrespectful for these foreigners who are guests our beloved country to ignore the wisdom of our leaders and show their support for pro-democracy activists in Burma out to topple the junta. They should respect our laws when they are here and learn to make good use of their time. There are many places of interests such as the zoo, birdpark, Sentosa etc and fantastic sales to go to.
While it is understandable for expats to behave this way due to the less sophisticated form of government they have back home where they need to protest to get things done right, they should also be mindful that such actions are not necessary in Singapore. There are many avenues for expressing your views such as writing letters to the Straits Times forum and calling the feedback unit. If they are still unhappy, they should spend more time reading the Straits Times to get a good appreciation of how things are done in Singapore.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

How the Japs learn English...

Many years ago, I went to Tokyo and every time I got lost and stopped someone on the street to ask for directions in English, I get that petrified look. I didn't understand why until I found out yesterday how English is taught in Japan.....

Friday, October 12, 2007

Why we must keep Section 377A..!

Now this NMP Siew has really done it. I really think we need to select our NMPs the way we select PAP MPs with all the QC (quality control) in place. First he fails to appreciate the wonderful changes to CPF, now he is bringing up one of the most touchy issues in our society - Section 377A the law criminalising gay sex. I'm against the repeal of Section 377A and there are many reasons why we should keep it:

1. 377A is useless. The govt has said that it has no intention of enforcing the law...and unless we send every one of our policemen out to spy into bed rooms instead of looking out for pesky opposition members, this law has no practical use. Since it is useless, it should be kept! Why? Our statues are full of laws that are practically useless - like our censorship laws. In this day and age with broadband internet around why do you need to censor anything? Since there are many laws that are useless once we set the precedence to remove them, it will result in alot of work for our underpaid parliament which enacts the laws. Since most of our MPs are part-timers especially those from the PAP, it is more productive for them to create new laws and for our police to stop enforcing useless ones without removing them.

2. Repealing 377A is unjust. We have that other useless law that states that walking around naked in your own home is illegal. If we remove 377A, it will be unfair to the closet nudists whose activities remain illegal.

3. Our society is conservative.....and also very weird. They want a useless law around that does not prevent an activity that has zero impact on them whatsoever. The PAP says it has to keep 377A around to make them happy.....the PAP cares alot about people being happy that is why they raised the GST, bus fares and introduced compulsory annuities.

4. Repealing 377A is against a certain religion. My strict vegetarian friend wants to have laws to prevent people eating meat - she finds it disgustingly murderous to kill & eat something that was at one time alive and walking around. It is against her religion and it is only fair we have laws to that matches her religious beliefs. I'm a non-believer of any religion and I want laws to protect me from ridicule by people who believe in a superior being.

5. 377A is symbolic, if we remove this, they will start asking for gay marriages to be legalised. We don't have a similar law for lesbians, I guess there must be many lesbians standing outside City Hall demanding they be allowed to get married. Oh how terrifying, how is our police going handle gays, lesbians and Chee Soon Juan at the same time.
In addition to all that, the way homosexuals are portrayed in our media has helped to fan homophobia among the populace. Watch this clip on how homosexuality transformed a loving husband into a depraved uncaring person:

After 40 yrs of Singapore media, we all know gay people are almost as unnatural & evil as those politicians influenced by Western style democracy. ...but nobody can be as evil as Chee not even gay people.

There are so many good reasons to hang on to 377A, I'm sure our enlightened PAP MPs will make sure it stays around for a long time.

BREAKING NEWS........!!!!

Al Gore, U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change win 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, CNN reports.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Regime Change not the answer for Myanmar : MM Lee

"If the army is dissolved, the country has got nothing to govern itself because they have dismantled all administrative instruments,"
-MM Lee interview with Tom Plate, UCLA 27 Sep 2007
Singapore's UN rep Vanu Gopala Menon said, "If the military is not part of the solution, there will be no solution.” Our beloved govt has taken the position that Burma needs to retain its ruling junta. Given the junta has been busy arresting and killing monks these few days, some might find it strange that our leaders keep repeating this point about keeping the junta in power, perserving the junta etc. They have concluded that the Burmese people can't possibly figure out how to run their own country without the junta. I thought only Singapore would sink without its wonderful leaders, it seems Burma will also sink without its junta.
20 years ago when the Berlin Wall fell, communist countries Poland, E. Germany, Hungary, Romania & Czechoslovakia, threw out the communist regimes that controlled everything in their country and replaced it with full blown democracy. Sad to say, nobody told them that regime change was bad...and that the communists who controlled everything had to be "part of the solution, because the country has nothing to govern itself ". It is indeed a tragedy for these countries to end up with an inferior type of govt known in Singapore as "Western style democracy". If our MM Lee was there to advise them, they would have retained the communist dictators as part of the solution and ended up with something far better. ...they wouldn't have so many political parties jostling for power, media that provide so many different confusing points of views or trouble makers who will protest against the govt.
Indeed it takes alot of wisdom for our leaders and UN rep to keep insisting that the junta be retained in Burma, they want this for the good of the Burmese people...even though the Burmese people themselves are not smart enough to want this. See how considerate and compassionate our leaders are to put the interest of the Burmese people above other interests. Singapore is so lucky to have leaders who are so compassionate and wise.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Macau People can't make it!!!

The economy is growing at double digits. Company profits at record highs. Property prices smashing new records. Demand for workers is so high, the workers have to be imported from China. Yet people are unhappy and protesting on the streets.

What are these people complaining about anyway? Cost of living? They have to accept that their city is a globalised one and things are priced based on global demand and supply. There is this nice theory in International Economics called Factor Price Equalisation Theorem. Macau is an open economy. Its payment to factors - wages, rents etc - are set by international price. So why are these people protesting against price increases when they are getting what they deserve in a globalised market place. Obviously they haven't attended economics 101 and cannot see that all this is just a natural consequence of globalisation.

They are complaining that workers from China keep their wages down. This again is an absurd accusation against their govt. As we know in Singapore wages are set by international price based on marginal return. If wages are allowed to inflate, businesses will move to China. Like in Singapore office rentals, govt services, utilities, transport etc can inflate but wage inflation is a no-no.....they too have to import Chinese labor to prevent this wage inflation.

Looks like the Macau people cannot make it in their globalised city. Singapore is following Macau's foot-steps in the building of casinos and keeping the economy open in a globalised world. Singaporeans understand globalisation much better then these protestors in Macau thanks to our media that has explained thoroughly all its wonderful benefits. As long as Singaporeans work harder, longer and take all the prices increases in good spirit, our esteemed govt can embrace globalisation for the good of the ordinary citizens.

MACAU'S casinos are the richest in the world - the 23 casinos in the city made a whopping US$6.87billion ($10.1b) last year, more than Las Vegas casinos did.

More than 1,000 people protested that day. -- -->Pictures: AFP, REUTERS -->

But not everyone in the territory is benefiting and that has sparked discontent among its residents, reported the International Herald Tribune.
'The government tells us the casino boom is bringing wealth to Macau,' said Jose Pereira Coutinho, a deputy in the Legislative Assembly.
'That is not true, because this wealth is only for a few.
'It is not helping people who are suffering.'
For the first time on 1 Oct, China's National Day, hundreds protested in the streets.
Their grievances ranged from harsh new penalties for illegal parking of motorcycles, to government corruption and the use of illegal labour.
There was also a protest in May and another demonstration is expected at the end of the year, during the anniversary of Macau's handover to China.

A protester in Macau on 1 Oct, China's National Day.
Many Macanese complain about workers from China who are keeping wages down.
They are also unhappy about the rising cost of living, especially the rents in working-class areas.
Those who benefit most from gambling are the 45,000 people working in casinos - their average earnings rose almost 15 per cent in the past year.
But for others, opportunities and incomes have worsened.
Many earn less than a quarter of the wages of a casino card dealer.
Said political science lecturer Eilo Yu: 'The society is developing in Macau and starting to mobilise... In the long run, people will keep on challenging the government.'

Singapore Economy : Too Hot to Handle!

For the past 2 weeks I've been getting telephone calls from property agents offering to sell my place. To chase these pesky agents away, I told one of them that I'm not interest in selling unless he got me a buyer at $100K more than the selling price of comparable neighboring unit which was sold 3 months ago. 3 days later the agent called back to say he has an eager buyer. Oops, I was forced to admit that I'm not interested in selling my unit because I'll have to look for another one if I such hot market I would really dread being buyer. A friend suggested I take the money, rent a place until the property market crashes then buy at bargain basement prices. I'm not going to sell my home just for money - I'm staying put.

Companies expanding their businesses have been driving up the commercial rental market. I heard from a friend dealing with office property that the sentiment is "now or never". Businesses fear that if they don't sign the leases now, they will be waiting "forever" to get office space for expansion.

MAS which does not control interest rates will probably allow the Sing$ to appreciate against the falling US$....the last I checked the US$ has fallen to multi-year lows of $1.47. Any cooling will have to come from slowdown in major markets such as the US. In the meantime, PM Lee might do what he did in 1996 ...but this time he might get Minister Tharman to do it - PM Lee (then Finance Minister) killed the ultra-hot property market of 1996 with a set of draconian measures that sent shivers down the spine of the most hardened speculators. For property speculators that faithful day in 1996 was like 911 - a day they will never forget. I remember being in office the next day and there were 20 people at the pantry discussing the set of measures - all looking very stunned. Really wonder when the govt will step in this time....perhaps they can invoke the ghost of 1996 just to calm the animal spirits.

Strangely, there're alot of things inflating the govt can't do much about but when it comes to wage inflation, the solution is to bring in more foreign labor. About half the new jobs are filled by foreigners. The population has expanded to a record 4.68M...the one of the fastest per capita expansion for a nation in the world! The people coming in has caused rentals & property prices to escalate at the same time helps to cool wage inflation. So your wages on average will not rise faster than the things in limited supply like property, fresh fish, concert tickets, medical care etc.
Nice setup isn't it?

Singapore's Economy Shows Signs of Overheating, Economists Say
By Shamim Adam

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore's economy risks overheating as home prices reach the highest in a decade, companies hire workers at an unprecedented pace and the stock market soars to record levels, economists say.
Inflation at a 12-year high and an economy expanding ``a little too rapidly'' mean signs of overheating are ``a few too many for comfort,'' Robert Prior-Wandesforde, an economist at HSBC Holdings Plc in Singapore, said in an Oct. 3 report.
``Consumer prices are by no means the only thing running relatively hot in the economy at present,'' Prior-Wandesforde said. ``A buoyant labor market was accompanied by strong wage growth. The Straits Times index has also risen nearly 50 percent over the last year.''
Singapore's economy grew an annualized 14.4 percent in the second quarter, the fastest pace in two years, fueled by construction and financial services. Employers added a record number of workers in the same period, pushing the jobless rate to a six-year low as service companies increased hiring.
``The overheating problem in India and China has now spilled over to Singapore,'' Deyi Tan, an economist at Morgan Stanley in Singapore, wrote in an Oct. 3 report. ``Not only has persistently strong growth resulted in an office space crunch, labor supply needs have also led to a jump in the foreign population. Residential property is booming and expat schools are oversubscribed.''
Office rents in Singapore's central business district are at record highs as financial institutions, lured to the city- state by corporate tax cuts, expand their businesses.

Home Prices
Singapore's private residential prices rose 8 percent to a 10-year high in the third quarter, the government said on Oct. 1. Home prices have increased every quarter in the past 3 1/2 years, according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
Singapore's consumer price index increased 2.9 percent in August from a year earlier, in part after an increase in the goods and services tax the month before.
The central bank expects inflation in 2007 to be between 1 percent and 2 percent, it said on Aug. 27, up from a previous range of 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent. Consumer prices may rise as much as 2 percent next year.
The island's longest economic expansion since 1991 and the prospect of higher salaries are prompting more Singaporeans to enter the labor force. Average monthly wages climbed 8.5 percent in the second quarter, the fastest since 2000.
Income gains are fueling consumer spending at restaurants and department stores, and may help the economy achieve the government's forecast of as much as 8 percent growth this year.

`Signs of Overheating'
The $134 billion Southeast Asian economy may expand 8.5 percent this year, and grow 7.3 percent in 2008, HSBC predicts.
``If forecasts are right and the country can look forward to another 12 months of above-trend expansion, then there will be less and less spare capacity in the economy and hence more and more signs of overheating,'' Prior-Wandesforde said.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore targets its currency instead of interest rates to guide monetary conditions and control price gains.
The central bank will probably maintain a three-year policy of allowing a ``modest and gradual'' appreciation of its currency when it reviews its policy next week, the HSBC and Morgan Stanley economists said.
The city-state's government may also take steps to cool demand for homes and ease the labor market crunch, Prior- Wandesforde said.
It may avoid waiting too long and ``act sooner rather than later'' to damp property price gains, he said. ``Increasing immigration quotas is another tool that has been used in the past to cool a hot labor market.''
A slowdown in the economies of the U.S. and others globally may also ease Singapore's risk of overheating, the analysts said.
``Singapore remains the most exposed to external conditions within Asia,'' Morgan Stanley's Tan wrote. ``The global soft- landing that lies ahead will help cool the economy.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Shamim Adam in Singapore at

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Yes, MM Lee I would like to give it a try....

"In other words, you will never lose. And if anybody thinks
he can do better
, he's welcome to take his money and
go to a fund manager and try and do better
" -MM Lee on CPF returns.

I'm going to take the newspaper cutting with those words, go to the CPF office and ask for my minimum sum. Yes, if I can my hands on my money, I have a plan to invest it. What I'm going to do with the money is in my new blog:

Why do I think I can do better than 3.5%? I've been investing my CPF money ever since part of it became available in CPFIS. Much of it was invested more than a decade ago, I've never sold anything after investing. 5 years ago, I started using because it offers lower commissions for unit trust. For many years investors have been urging the govt to use its bargaining power to bring down the cost of commissions & management fees of fund managers so that CPF money can be invested at a lower cost. After more than a decade, our world class govt finally said they will look into it. One thing I like about DollarDex is you can use it to plot the performance of your investments vs what you would get if you left it in your CPF-OA. Here's what my portforlio which consists of 12 unit trust looks like:

Past history is no indication of future performance. For all you know, I could have been spite of the high management fees & commissions, I still manage to do better than the CPF-OA "as good as it gets" rate. Forget history ...check out my new blog : More than 3.5%!

Peace for Burma.....

"Somebody who is sick, he wants to come to Singapore,
he needs treatment and you're telling me that
I shouldn't treat him because he is not a good man?
It goes against the Hippocratic oath of doctors."
-PM Lee on medical treatment of Burmese junta leaders in Singapore.
"The military is a key institution in Myanmar that cannot be wished away.
Any peaceful solution to the crisis will have to involve all parties,
including the military. If the military is not
part of the solution, there will be no solution.”
-Singapore’s Permanent Representative at the U.N., Vanu Gopala Menon
"......the turmoil as part of "neo-colonialist attempts" to
impose Western-style democracy on Myanmar.....
Normalcy has now returned in Myanmar"
- Foreign Minister U Nyan Win on
President Bush should have kept Saddam around to help run Iraq, I'm sure the country would be alot more peaceful. Thank goodness peace has returned to Burma and the country has returned to normalcy. I'm so impressed by the wisdom of our UN rep who strongly believes the junta is part of the solution - most definitely who would be around to get rid of troublemaking monks if the junta is not around. I guess that the junta works for the good of the Burmese people, if they were harming the people, why would the Singapore govt allow its leaders to come to Singapore for medical treatment. I'm sure our govt wouldn't allow sworn enemies of USA like Bin Laden to seek medical treatment in Singapore.
Singapore is the 2nd biggest investor in Burma. This will help to provide jobs for the Burmese people so they don't become jobless. The hardship in Burma is caused by pro-democracy activists who have damaged the image of the country and caused sanctions to be imposed. Some blame the leadership for plundering the country causing widespread poverty - this is not true, the junta leaders are the elites in the country and have risen to the top in a system that is based on meritocracy - anyone can join the army and climb to the top. The current leader was only a postal clerk when he started. Now that he has made his way up meritocraticallly it is only right he get the rewards he deserves.
Singapore police will arrest anyone who protests against the Burmese junta because it is against the Singapore law to do so. Just yesterday a group of 5 troublemakers were arrested as they stood outside the Istana to protest against the junta. The junta is part of a solution to peace bring to Burma and end the bloodshed. The junta should increase its spending on security and upgrade the gear of its riot police to bring peace to Burma like it is done in some other countries.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Mathematics of Pension Fund Returns....

'We never invested the CPF money in shares or bonds.
We always invested the CPF money in Singapore Government
bonds where the Singapore Government guarantees a fixed return
and you're always going to get it,' said Mr Lee, who is the GIC chairman.
"In other words, you will never lose. And if anybody thinks
he can do better, he's welcome to take his money and
go to a fund manager and try and do better"

What is the difference if your money returns 5.5%vs 3.5% a year ?

$100 at 3.5% over 40 yrs = $395
$100 at 5.5% over 40 yrs = $851
$100 at 7.5% over 40 yrs = $1800
$100 at 10% over 40 yrs = $4500

Just a 2% improvement of returns means that you retire with twice as much money ....if you're the Chilean govt which returned 11.8% since the inception of its national pension fund or Calpers, your retirees will have 10 times more than than another govt that gives a return of 3.5%. The long term rate of return is single most important factor when we talk about the success of a pension plan. A national pension fund simply cannot depend on how well a govt can persuade its people to put aside more and more money to be locked up at low returns....then convince them to work harder and longer using various state controlled media. A guaranteed low rate of return is a useless guarantee because of inflation, the buying power of money is not guaranteed. It becomes harder to swallow when you find that the money is loaned to a state owned enterprise that returns 9% per yr with that money and is not going to give much of it back to your pension account.
In a country where alternative views receive very little air time and the people's representatives are men and women who have learned to say 'yes' in a hundred different ways and see it as their mission to convince the people that whatever is done and changed is for their own good, you can always tell people what you're doing is the best that can be done...and for that you deserve your millions while the ordinary people fall back on their work ethics to see them through yet another few years of labor.

When the strain of labor makes it hard for the people to smile, you can always have another "Smile Campaign"...give out a few goodies close to elections, get the media to recap on the wonderful achievements since the last one and the people will appreciate that you have done a good job. The people can always be made happy if they are told only what is good for them.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Malaysian EPF cannot make it lah....!

Why isn't the Malaysia govt as smart as the PAP when it comes to managing EPF?
Their GIC equivalent can just issue risk free bonds guaranteed at 3.5% then make the EPF buy these bonds, take this money to invest and keep the returns for themselves for the hard work and risk they are taking.

Without doing this bond issuance, they now have to return all this money to EPF holders - stupid. The EPF guarantees a minimum of 2.5% by law and since its inception has never gone below 4% (the worst year was 2002 when it returned regularly returns 7-8%). Imagine how much money their GIC equivalent could have made if they are able to keep these returns. Thank goodness we Singaporeans are lucky have smart govt and a great CPF scheme to go along.

Malaysia's Employee Provident Fund H1 investment income up 39 pct - report
Published : Thu, 23 Aug 2007 12:51
By : Agencies Print this Story
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KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Financial) - Malaysia's state pension fund, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) reported Thursday that its investment income in the first half grew 38.6 percent to 9.8 billion ringgit from 7.1 billion a year earlier, according to the official Bernama news agency.
EPF's unaudited first-half results showed income from equities rose 141 percent to four billion ringgit, accounting for 40.8 percent of the fund's generated income, the report said.
EPF chief executive officer Azlan Zainol said returns on its equities portfolio were encouraging but EPF 'will remain cautious as investments in the equities sector pose relatively higher risks over most other instruments.'
Azlan said a total of 58.6 billion ringgit in funds were invested in the equities market in the first half.
Accumulated investments amounted to 301.4 billion ringgit as of end-June, he said.
He said income derived from money market instruments rose 79.7 percent to 592.4 million ringgit from 329.7 million last year.
Loans and bonds contributed 2.8 billion ringgit to the funds's total investment income, while income from investments in Malaysia Government Securities and property accounted for 2.4 billion and 23.3 million ringgit respectively, he said.
(1 US dollar = 3.48 ringgit)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Many Keen to Lock More Money in CPF : Minister

I knew it - Singaporeans are damn smart. They found out about the fantastic interest rates that can be obtained by locking their money up with the CPF for decades and they want in!!!
Compare this with those silly W. Malaysians who keep clamouring to take their money out.

Singaporeans have certainly figured out what is good for them after reading last Saturday's Straits Times articles on why CPF rate is as "good as it gets". Many are now eager to have more money locked up with the CPF.
Many keen to lock more money in CPF: Manpower Minister
Dr Ng Eng Hen says CPF Board will give customised advice, help.
By Lynn Lee
Dr Ng said the CPF Board will be following up on the queries, by giving customised advice and help. -- PHOTO: ZAOBAO

MANY Singaporeans are toying with the idea of locking more money in their CPF accounts, to take advantage of higher interest rates.
Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen, who revealed this to The Straits Times, said the CPF Board will be following up on their queries, by giving customised advice and help.
Dr Ng, who announced wide-ranging updates to the CPF system in Parliament last month, sees these queries are a sign of positive feedback.
'They would not ask this, if they could get better interest elsewhere,' he said on Friday, when responding to the debate on the issue.
Changes to the CPF system will hit home in January 2008.
For starters, a higher interest rate of one percentage point will apply to the first $60,000 in all accounts. Only a maximum of $20,000 can come from the ordinary account.
For the Special, Medisave and Retirement accounts, the fixed interest rate of 4 per cent will be replaced with the return on 10-year Singapore Government Securities plus one percentage point. For the next two years, the Government has kept the floor at 4 per cent.
In addition, CPF members have to wait longer before getting their monthly payouts from their Minimum Sum.
They will also have to purchase longevity insurance which will pay them a monthly sum from the age of 85 till the end of their life.
The slew of changes is meant to bolster the retirement savings of Singaporeans and ensure they have enough for their twilight years.
But the last two measures - a delayed draw-down age and compulsory annuities - have caused concern.
Dr Ng acknowledged that most people are not sure if they will live that long, and are worried that the annuity will cost a fair bit.
He said he has asked the committee set up to look into the nitty-gritty of annuities to 'seriously consider' giving more leeway to people, so they can decide when they want to start receiving their payouts.
His feel of the ground is that overall, there is a 'general acceptance' that the changes are required as people are living longer. He added: 'Singaporeans are very sensible people'.
But he said he would have done one thing differently - he would put in 'bold print' the link between the extra one percentage point interest and annuities, and how the earnings would be more than enough to pay for the insurance.
This explanation would have satisfied nine out of 10 Singaporeans, who 'trust the Government to take care of them, and prefer more reassurance than explanation,' he said.
This message was made but it came after the Government's painstakingly laid out the rationale, details and consequences of the changes.
It did so as it was the first time the CPF was being tinkered with in a major way, said Dr Ng.
'We were trying to be pure and we were trying to explain to them that we were changing the interest rate system and how it was being done,' he said, noting that this appealed to the rest of Singaporeans who prefer to be 'involved in the process'.
Noting that the exercise was a 'learning' experience, Dr Ng said the Government would be patient and continue to explain the changes to the different groups of Singaporeans.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

CPF for SIngaporeans !!!!

Last Saturday's Straits Times was filled with articles telling us why 2.5% for CPF is "as good as it gets" and how GIC can borrow money cheaply by issuing treasuries and does not need our CPF money. Indeed, GIC is reluctantly using our money as a favor to us, it does not need our CPF money, so we should all be happy and not begrudge the GIC earning far higher returns with our money. ......

I read those articles in the Straits Times again and again. I finally understood that the GIC is making a painful sacrifice for Singaporeans..... since they have cheaper sources of money, the opportunity cost to them is enormous. It is so ridiculous so many Singaporeans don't appreciate what our govt has done for their CPF minimum sum and are clamoring for more options and transparency. Ordinary Singaporeans must be stupid....however, I found another group of people dumber than Singaporeans....

West Malaysians.

W. Malaysians working in Singapore get to enjoy the CPF scheme as much as Singaporeans. Yet, they fail to appreciate this wonderfully designed scheme constantly demanding their money be returned. This has been the cause of many diplomatic spats between us & Malaysia.
Since it is so expensive to pay the high interest on CPF, our govt should return this money to the Malaysians and raise this money issuing treasuries. Why are they so kind to Malaysians to pay them a return that is "as good as it gets" risk free and guaranteed? Why is our govt showing its kindness to these ungrateful West Malaysians with high returns, they must surely remember that they are to serve Singaporeans' interest first? Why hang on to this expensive CPF money of Malaysians when the GIC can borrow cheaper? The opportunity cost is so staggering not to mention what the cost to us in terms of relationship with Malaysia.
I know our govt is kind even towards W. Malaysians but it should give priority to Singaporeans. Give the W. Malaysians back their CPF money and deprive them of this wonderful 3.5% return, I'm sure many of these Malaysians will be begging to leave their money with CPF. Although the Malaysian EPF consistently earns higher returns compared with CPF, it does so by taking unacceptable risk. These Malaysians are not citizens of Singapore and should not be allowed to benefit from our wonderful CPF system!!!!