Thursday, December 31, 2009
"A key sustainer of Singapore- China relationships will continue to be the large influx of Chinese immigrants that come to Singapore to work and stay, MM Lee added"
- AsiaOne News, "Why Singapore will not be squeezed out by rising China" [Link].
I've never heard of one country trying sustain relations with another by importing the other country's people but there are always uniquely Singaporean ways of getting things done.
From my previous post on the same topic:
"Gee, we were told they were here to create jobs for Singaporeans[Link] and we should be thankful. Then we were told they were here because of the low fertility rate. Long time ago we were told they were needed for skills that didn't exist in Singapore. We were also told they are here for jobs Singaporeans did not want. Now we are told they are here because Singaporeans are now too lazy for Singapore Inc."
Why is there such a big influx? Wah...there are so many good reasons.....but pushing up the GDP , cost of living (housing) and driving down wages of Singaporeans to keep costs down are never officially the reasons for having such a large influx...hmm perhaps these are the unintended consequences of the good intentions of a govt that will do only what is beneficial for ordinary Singaporeans?
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
"I thought it would be useful to examine extracts from the alleged seditious article in class but I immediately hit a brick wall. There were no issues of Fajar in the collection of the National Library. The National University of Singapore Library (which inherited the collection of the University of Malaya) has an incomplete set (5 issues short of the total 62; lacking the first 2 issues, numbers 20 and 24 of Volume 1 and number 5 of Volume 2). However, the publication was still under lock and key. Access to it was restricted" - Lim Cheng Tju, A Personal Journey In Search Of Fajar
Seditious? Kept under lock and key? Restricted? Here's a picture of my desk at home this evening:
I own a collection of Fajar which was published in 1954-1961 i.e 50 years ago ...long before I was born. I wonder if I have the only other remaining copies of Fajar in Singapore.
Reading the Fajar gives an alternative view of the history of Singapore especially the key events such as the merger with Malaysia and the formation of Barisan Socialis. The ideals of the Fajar generation are equality, democracy, freedom and justice within a socialist framework. Operation Coldstore (1963) and the banning of Fajar , an organ of USC (University Socialist Club) mark an end to political openness and intensified the climate of fear. Here we are today in the most economically unequal society in the developed world, ruled by an authoritarian govt that over time took away our freedom of speech and the free press, and led by ministers who earn the highest salaries in the world. The ideals of the Fajar generation are still as relevant to our generation as they were 50 years ago.
"The Big Six – Mr Lim, Mr Fong Swee Suan, Mr Woodhull, Mr Dominic Puthucheary, Mr S.T. Bani and Mr Jamit Singh – had stated that while they supported the PAP in the coming by-election, they would not compromise on issues such as detention without trial and freedoms of press, speech, assembly and organisation.
Dr Poh argues that these statements amounted to a ‘request’, not an ‘ultimatum’. But Mr Lee, he says, saw this as a challenge to the PAP leadership and decided to make the split."
- Dr. Poh Soo Kai, Straits Times Interview "Dr. Poh:Why I parted company with PAP", 27 Dec 2009.
Extract from Fajar Editorial, Vol III, Issue 6, Aug 1961:In 1961, there was still some hope for greater democracy in Singapore as seen by the writings of these university students. They could hardly imagine the events in the coming years that would turn their hopes for democracy into dispair.
Monday, December 28, 2009
- MM Lee, National Geographic, The Singapore Solution, Jan 2010[Link]
Friday, December 25, 2009
I chose this song by Susan Boyle to put on my blog for Christmas for a few reasons. Less than 1 year ago, Susan Boyle was an unknown church volunteer until she picked up the courage to appear on Britain's Got Talent. Frumpy and awkward, the audience instantly wrote her off until she sang and the rest is entertainment & Internet history. It is only 9 months since her first appearance on BGT but her debut album, released in Nov 2009 has reached No. 1 throughout the world and is the best selling album of 2009. Susan Boyle is the best example of how the Internet can transform and change lives to make dreams come true. For years Singaporeans have been dreaming of greater equality, freedom and a better life for their children but positive changes has been hindered by those in power who dominate this country using propaganda. The Internet has brought about change in many countries including nearby Malaysia. I hope in 2010 the dreams of ordinary Singaporeans come true. Have a Merry Christmas!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
please, get out of my elite uncaring face."
China Asset Bubbles Will Burst on Inflation, Xie Says (Update2)
By Shiyin Chen
Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) --
China’s property and stock markets are a “bubble” that will burst when inflation accelerates in 2011, former Morgan Stanley chief Asian economist Andy Xie said.
“China’s asset markets are a ponzi scheme,” Xie, now an independent economist based in Shanghai, said in an interview in Hong Kong. “Property is heading for one huge bust that will take a year and a half to unfold.
”The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 2.1 percent today, led by a plunge in property shares including China Vanke Co., the biggest developer. A measure of real estate stocks fell 9.3 percent this week, the most since August, on concern the government will step up measures to curb property speculation.
Chinese residential prices climbed last month at the fastest pace since July 2008, spurred by China’s 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package and record lending. The Shanghai Composite has gained 71 percent this year, while the 15 real- estate shares on the MSCI China Index have risen by more than 90 percent on average.“It’s a less glamorous version of the Greenspan bubble and the story will end with inflation,” Xie said, referring to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who was once regarded by some observers as the greatest central banker and has seen his legacy criticized since the U.S. subprime-mortgage market collapsed in 2007.
Economists estimate China’s interest rates may increase 54 basis points in the second half of next year, Bloomberg data show. One basis point is 0.01 percent. Borrowing costs may climb 54 basis points to 81 basis points in the second quarter, according to Gabriel Gondard, Shanghai-based deputy chief investment officer at Fortune SGAM Fund Management Co., which oversees about $7.2 billion in assets.A central bank survey this week showed almost half of Chinese view inflation as excessive, contrasting with government figures showing that consumer prices have fallen for most of this year. On Dec. 11, the government announced that consumer prices climbed 0.6 percent in November from a year earlier, snapping a nine-month run of deflation. Prices will stay largely stable and the chances of significant inflation next year are not big, the nation’s top economic planning agency said Dec. 14.“Inflation is a concern,” Mark Konyn, who helps oversee about $12 billion as chief executive officer in Hong Kong at RCM Asia Pacific Ltd., said in an interview yesterday. “It will be an issue in 2010.”‘
In the shorter term, China’s yuan-denominated stocks may “struggle” in the next three to four months before staging a rally that may help the market exceed its 2009 highs as banks resume lending, Xie, who correctly predicted in April 2007 that China’s equities would tumble, told Bloomberg Television.The Shanghai Composite, tracking the larger of China’s two stock exchanges, has fallen 10 percent from this year’s Aug. 4 peak of 3,471.44.Poly Real Estate, China’s second-largest developer, plunged 7.5 percent to 21.88 yuan today, its ninth straight loss. China Vanke dropped 6 percent to 10.59 yuan, the most since Sept. 30.Property stocks slumped this week after the Xinhua News Agency reported the government will target “excessive” growth in property prices in some cities. That follows the cabinet’s statement last week that it will re-impose a sales tax on homes sold within five years, after cutting the period to two years in January. Even after this week’s retreat, the measure of property shares has gained 99 percent, the second-best performer among the gauge’s 10 industry groups.
“Markets are going to struggle in the next three to four months and then afterwards, China’s lending policy may help it along in the second half,” he said. “It’s possible that the A- share market may make a new high in terms relative to the Aug. 4 high this year.”Xie said today that Hong Kong stocks are also about 30 percent “overvalued” and may face a “major correction” in the next four to five months as the market factors in a possible stimulus exit by the Fed. The market may recover in the second half, he predicted.Morgan Stanley, Xie’s former employer, said this week that China’s stock market is headed for a “boom and bust” in 2010 because a rally in the first half may stall as inflation accelerates and the government withdraws some stimulus. The brokerage predicted that the MSCI China Index may rise to 81.7 next year, 29 percent higher than yesterday’s close.To contact the reporter on this story: Shiyin Chen in Singapore at email@example.com
Last Updated: December 18, 2009 03:10 EST
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
In Singapore we hang drug traffickers because, according to the PAP govt, drugs destroy lives. We hang small time runners for trafficking very small amounts of drugs as a deterrent. Misuse of Drugs Act carries a mandatory death sentence for anyone caught trafficking more than 15gm of heroin, 30gm of cocaine or 500gm of cannabis. These death sentences are disproportionate the the crime and the harm caused by these small quantities of drugs. The govt is also completely inconsistent - gambling causes the same or more harm but is tolerated by this govt.
There is no proper education of the public on the harm of gambling. The govt conducts campaigns to encouraging "gambling responsibly". The correct message should be "gambling is bad" or stop gambling because it leads to problem gambling. You don't go and tell people to use drugs responsibly or smoke responsibly. The right message should be don't gamble because gambling can lead problems.
Dec 22, 2009
Gambling addict hangs himself [Link]
By Khushwant Singh
IN THE suicide note to his wife, father and close friends, Mr Teo Kok Hun, 33, confessed his addiction to football gambling.
The 33-year-old driver, also known as Zhang Guohan, admitted that this was the main reason why he was always short of money.
His favourite football team was Liverpool and he was wearing the club's red jersey when he hanged himself in the bathroom of his four-room flat in Tampines on Oct 26.
His 30-year-old wife, a travel agent, found his body at 7.30pm, when she returned home from work.
State Coroner Victor Yeo, on Tuesday, returned a verdict of suicide.
Strangely, Mr Teo's death came a day after Liverpool defeated archenemy Manchester United, after a series of four successful defeats to other teams.
In my blog, I sometimes receive comments about how the poor can get help from the govt. The govt controlled newspapers talk highly about the govt's many helping hands approach as if many sources of help will start flowing readily to those in need to ease their pain. Here is a family that obviously needs help and are poor due to no fault of their own. They have 2 kids with disabilities and the father has difficulty finding a job. What does the govt do to them? Humiliate them when they ask for help and threaten to evict them from their rented flat due to arrears. The part about govt help starts at 6 minutes 23 seconds into the video.
Here is the transcript:
"I've applied with the govt before. It always comes to nothing." - Mother
"Where do you go to apply" - Christopher Lee
"The fourth floor of HDB inToa Payoh. I don't understand much English. I only know it is the welfare department. Sometimes, they reject my applications. We go to them because we need help. Otherwise, why bother going to them or subject ourselves to humiliation? I wished I didn't have to go there. They can be so rude. " - Mother
"In what way?" - Actress..
"They keep telling you to work. Its okay if I can find a job. But I may not find one that allows me to look after my children. We go to them only because we need help. They shouldn't say 'Look for a job. Don't always expect help' - Mother
"How did you reply" - Actress
"I kept quiet. Just weep. What else?" - Mother.
So the govt helps these poor folks by telling them to look for a job. Having 2 disabled kids is not a sufficient to qualify for help? That's PAP govt help for you. So if you're slightly better off but is struggling with, say, an autistic child, you can forget about getting any support from this govt.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Buildings the height of Duxton are commonplace in Hong Kong. It is not a good sign that HDB built the Pinnacle@Duxton because it means our housing prices have gone up enough to overcome the high cost of constructing such residential 'skyscrapers'. Real estate price escalation benefits those with the most assets far more than the average families who have only one property and cannot monetise it. Escalating real estate prices in Hong Kong created a handful billionaire property developers and hundreds of thousands of families that cannot afford a decent home - worsening the inequality. This is where we will end up if we leave housing to the free market as the population density rises - you end up creating more poverty than you do wealth.
After the handover to China, the Hong Kong people became aware of the importance of democracy and rights. In 2003 when the Chinese govt tried to implement anti-sedition laws similar to those in Singapore, close to half a million people took to the streets[Link]. When the govt tried to impose GST, they again took to the streets to prevent it[Link] - their biggest worry is that such regressive taxation will further burden the poor and worsen the income gap. Upholding democracy in a territory controlled by China is risky because there is no telling what the Chinese govt will do and when they will start acting against who stand up for freedom and justice. However, individuals like Jimmy Lai[Link] and Martin Lee are willing to risk everything including their lives[Link] to bring change to Hong Kong.
"I think Hong Kong's freedoms are under threat all the time,"
-Margaret Ng, a pro-democracy legislator
They know if they do not guard their freedom and rights fiercely, the pro-Beijing govt will just slip in legislation that will take them away. Constant vigilance is necessary because government control of the media is growing through patronage, financing and the rewarding of pro-Beijing behaviour. When Jimmy Lai's paper became critical of Beijing, companies quickly withdraw their advertisements[Link] out of fear of offending China. The Hong Kong people will have direct elections in 2017[Link] if Beijing sticks to its promise. The reason they don't want it held sooner is the pro-Beijing lawmakers will lose badly given the widespread dissatisfaction with the govt.
One thing I didn't see in Hong Kong was aged cleaners like those we have in Singapore. I found most of these old folks reading newspapers in tim sum restaurants or at McDonalds. They probably receive enough to live on under a comprehensive social safety net put in place by the govt.
The Hong Kong story provides a lesson for all of us. Today a large segment of the population(18%) lives in poverty[Link]. It is no coincidence that greatest income gap in the developed world appears in Hong Kong - the only place in the developed world where there are no direct elections[Link]. The 2nd highest income gap in the developed world is found in a country where the rights of people to protest and speak in public is limited and the media is controlled by the govt. A combination of unbridled capitalism and lack of democracy resulted an unequal society in which there is widespread discontent.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
More than a decade ago, a bespectacled NUS lecturer warned of rising poverty and the risk of a ballooning income gap. PAP leaders accused him of engaging in the "politics of jealous", he was later bankrupted and jailed. His name is Chee Soon Juan and today our income gap is the highest in the developed world and we are now talking about an emerging ultra-underclass among us.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
In the last elections, some Singaporeans were hopeful of positive changes given a change of PM and what was mistaken for his recognition of a need for change - Remaking of Singapore committe etc. Singaporeans should have taken the elections more seriously as the PAP govt tried to win not by discussing policies or the way ahead for Singapore but by promising an outlandish sum of money for estate upgrading if elected. They refused to discuss policy initiatives such as means testing during the elections. After the elections, the first acts of the newly elected PM were to up the salary of his cabinet and the GST to cut corporate tax and taxes of high income earners. All hopes for positive changes for Singaporeans were dashed as the PM showed that he was there to preserve the status quo. The increase in minister's pay was a step to preserve PAP's power as the millions paid out for ministers were no longer sufficient to attract people from their own establishment of GLCs, civil service and uniformed service. The incomes over the years were raised to ridiculous levels creating a oversized sense of entitlement of the PAP-linked elites.- the result of years of elitism practiced in the name of meritocracy. ....the same system that saw the income of the bottom 20% of Singapore household sinking to below $1200 per month - some get less for their hard labor in one year than what President Nathan get for shaking hands and smiling in one day. Something has gone very wrong and it is not the PAP's interest to fix it.
I urge all Singaporeans to take the coming elections seriously. Think about the issues clearly and rationally. Do not allow your emotions to be manipulated by propaganda. Spend time to understand the issues surrounding Singapore and its future. Look up the best available ideas and seriously think about how you want this country to be run. Take the effort to understand the plight of your fellow Singaporeans - not just of your own family. We cannot afford to remain apathetic, fearful, self-centered and quiet because the consequences will become harder and harder to accept.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
"He pointed his finger especially at the PAP's dominance and the lack of press freedom. The 22-year-old also said the PAP may feel it is helping the people but the people feel disadvantaged by its policies, from foreign talent to national service." - Straits Times Report
Lets put it this way. Apathy wasn't widespread when the British was ruling us otherwise how do you organised people to get them thrown out? The reason for this apathy. in addition to what Alex said about press freedom. is the harsh treatment of people who stood out for the rights of the people such as detention for decades without trial and bankruptcy. Seeing what has happened from the 70s right up to the 80s what do you think parents tell their children..."mind your business, never criticise the govt and steer clear of political issues". The widespread fear of people growing up during that time is very real and this fear is still prevalent today.
Alex Tan is not apathetic. If the PAP and the media it controls makes an example of him by smearing his character, the rest of us will probably stay anonymous, keep quiet and mind our own business.
At least Alex put up a fight against the PAP ideas and their rules. Way to go Alex Tan.
Young PAP bars user from its Facebook page Youth wing blocks 22-year-old for starting flame war.
Sun, Dec 13, 2009The Straits Times
The youth wing of the People's Action Party has blocked a 22-year-old project engineer from its Facebook recruitment page.
It has also deleted his posts after a war of words between the two sides last month.
Mr Alex Tan has been banned from the page until he agrees to 'abide by the rules', according to a message sent to him on Nov 29 by the administrators, who are members of the Young PAP (YP).
Friday, December 11, 2009
"MM says Japan should study how Singapore turned to foreign workers to boost its economy"-My Paper
Japan has a very backward policy towards foreign workers. The number of foreign workers is less than 0.5% of the total population[Link]. The number of foreign workers is about 10% among OECD countries[Link]. The Japanese population at the current fertility rate will decline by 30% by 2050. The Japanese govt is taking measures to encourage Japanese couples to have more children to reverse this trend. Suppose the Japanese take MM Lee's advice to learn from Singapore and import foreign workers by the millions to keep the economy growing. In a couple of decades, the Japanese will be a minority in their own country like Singaporeans will be within a decade. So they give up a unique precious culture, a closely knit society evolved over centuries and become a minority in their own country just for one more decade of economic growth. Economic growth? The Japanese have been there and done that. The population won't decline forever and after a while, the decline will reverse when it's cities become less overcrowded. To aim for "perma-growth" - GDP growth prioritised above everything else by packing more and more people on a limited piece of land is clearly unsustainable.
The Japanese people are already very concerned with the M-shaped income distribution [Link]resulting from a widening income gap (no where near Singapore's). The Japanese are a highly egalitarian society[Link] - they will resist any move that will cause their fellow Japanese to sink further below the poverty line. Importing a large number of cheap foreign workers will repress the income of the poorest Japanese further and this will never be acceptable to the Japanese.
MM Lee also advised the Japanese to abandon its political system which is still based on seniority and learn from China, which requires its political leaders to step down when they turn 65[Link]. Hmmm....how old is MM Lee?...Quite an amazing piece of advice even by his standard.
Japan faces tough choice, says MM
MM says Japan should study how Singapore turned to foreign workers to boost its economy. -
Fri, Dec 11, 2009 my paper
JAPAN, facing economic and social problems partly due to its ageing population, could take a leaf out of Singapore's book, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said yesterday.
It could study how Singapore turned to foreign workers to boost its economy, he said.
He was asked how Japan could break its cultural and economic barriers in integrating foreigners at a dialogue to mark the 40th anniversary of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Singapore.
He said: "Japan faces a difficult choice here. If it continues its policy, it will have an ageing population which does not consume much - old people do not change cars or televisions every year. One of the reasons why the Japanese economy is not bouncing back, despite stimulus packages, is because the consumer market is down."
Japan has to consider letting the younger generation take up political and business leadership earlier, and to embrace women as part of its workforce.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Businesses want foreign workers mainly because they are cheaper. You can hire 1.5-2 foreign workers instead of a Singaporean. It is easier for managers to get more workers to do the same job rather than train and motivate fewer workers to work more efficiently. Business will always clamor for cheaper labor rather than invest in training, automation and innovation. There will always be sources of cheap labor because the cost of living is so much lower in developing countries. This a vicious cycle as import more foreign workers, these businesses depend on cheap labor will profit, grow and want more foreign workers. These business compete for limited resources like office and industrial space with business with higher levels of automation that hire highly skilled (hence highly paid) labor. The more foreign workers we import to generate growth in these industries, the more foreign workers we will need to bring in the future to maintain our GDP. In 2000, there were about 600,000 foreign workers in Singapore, constituting 27% of the total work force. Today it is 36% of the workforce or 1 million. But the demand for foreign workers keeps increasing [See report below]. The PAP govt took the easy way to expand the economy aiming for high GDP growth by expanding the workforce. In the past they allowed only "foreign talents" with selected skill sets to work here. These days it is anyone from the coffeeshop help to the IT support guy. Falling productivity means a large segment of Singaporeans will their income falling - and an unlucky few will form the ultra-underclass in Singapore....and this race to the bottom has not ended yet. Like the PAP 2-child policy, the PAP govt will keep going even as the problems become apparent to everyone else. By the time they stop, the damage is done and permanent - but nothing ever happens to the PAP for such bad policies, given our political system, the blame, pain and burden can always be passed on to ordinary Singaporeans...
SingaporeHome > Breaking News > Singapore > Story Dec 9, 2009
Foreign workers in demand
Almost half in SCCCI poll say business growth hit by quota on such workers
By Cassandra Chew Contractors and manufacturers, companies that rely on foreign workers, want the Government to allow them to hire more of them. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM
COMPANIES that rely on foreign workers want the Government to let them hire more of them, according to a survey. The call is particularly intense from contractors and manufacturers, who feel the quota should be adjusted for specific sectors. Foreign workers form up to 70 per cent of the workforce in these two sectors. Overall, almost half of the businesses surveyed are unhappy with the foreign worker quota policy. They want it raised in order for them to meet orders, which have been increasing in the past few months as Singapore's economy claws its way out of the red.But such a move could hurt Singapore's competitive edge, said economics professor Davin Chor from Singapore Management University. 'Long-run growth depends on the capacity of our economy to consistently improve on our productivity and the way we tap into cutting-edge technologies,' he said.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
A few days ago Minister Yaacob Ibrahim spoke of the emergence of an ultra-underclass among the Malay community after a series of tragedies involving young children from broken homes[Link: The ST online article used the phrase "ultra-underclass" when it first appeared but removed it later]. I believe this underclass is not restricted to Malay community but exists in all ethnic groups. This ultra-underclass is caused by a combination of broken homes and low income resulting in children with poor upbringing. Why is there surprise over having people poor and marginalised when the income gap is so large? 20% of Singapore households have monthly income less than $1200 per month. Try supporting a family with this income in Singapore. While there are many reasons for seeking divorce, money is one of the leading causes of divorce and when you are trying to support your family with $1000 a month, the strain on the marriage is just enormous.
We don't have minimum wages, we have no safety nets, the govt believes in passing as much financial burden as possible to families when they get sick and there is little help for the unemployed. The govt's piecemeal minimalist approach to giving help adds to the stress and strain of the low income families. At the end of the day, when these families breakup and their children end up poorly educated, the cost to our society will be even higher. Many of these families are poor due to no fault of their own. The govt allowed low wage workers to be imported by the hundreds of thousands causing the incomes of the bottom 20% to become stagnant as the cost of living rose. The PAP govt added more challenges to those who are already challenged so Minister Yacoob....don't look so baffled by the emergence of this ultra-underclass, you have to look no further than the policies of the party you belong to.
In the video Prof. Shiller cited a study in Taiwan that showed than only 1% of the day traders that made money. This study was conducted by researchers from UC Berkeley and the report is found here[Link].
"Most day traders, especially heavy day traders, lose money trading. Why do investors engage in such a wealth reducing activity? One possibility is that investors simply find day trading entertaining. Undoubtedly some investors do find day trading entertaining, but can entertainment account for the extent of day trading that we observe? Day traders with a minimum of $NT 90 million in our six month ranking period incur average daily losses of $NT 7,338 during the subsequent month. On an annual basis this is equivalent to slightly more than $NT 2 million, over five times the average annual wage in Taiwan and two and a half times the mean annual salary for employees of financial institutions. "
- Do Individual Day Traders Make Money? Evidence from Taiwan
In the US the SEC has set out to warn investors as well as punish firms that use deceptive techniques to lure investors into this form of trading[Link]. In Singapore we not allow people like Clemen Chiang to peddle and enccourage people to engage in harmful forms of gambling using poorly conceived strategies, brokerages are allowed to offer something known as contra-trading. This form of short term trading in which the trader puts no money down to purchase stock which he has to sell within 5 days is allowed only in 2 countries in the world because it is often associated with gambling. Our authorities do nothing about these things because they believe that part of developing our capital markets is to keep trading volume high even if it means having hundreds of thousands of people engaged in activities akin to gambling. But really if we do not educate people and have better regulation what we will end up with is not a financial hub but a big casino.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
'SIAS calls on the authorities in China to immediately demonstrate its willingness to conduct a thorough investigation into this company's affairs in China and bring any wrongdoing under the weight of the law, if the confidence of Singapore investors in Chinese companies is to be restored' -Mr Gerald of SIAS.
The company's chairman and CEO refused to provide authorisation letters for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to obtain statements directly and independently from the banks. PwC officers were forced off the premises of one bank by a 'branch manager' (as he introduced himself) and had the roller shutters pulled down in their faces. Elsewhere, a specific bank officer was similarly pre-arranged to meet the auditors and they could not verify the statements they were shown. Even so, the special audit by PwC found that some $85 million worth of transactions were made by Sino-Environment without board approval and authorisation.But no raw materials or equipment were delivered despite the purchase agreements nor was there any significant work done at the projects that the group purportedly invested in.
SIAS president David Gerald said that the association will approach the Chinese embassy in Singapore to relay its concerns.
The damning report was released yesterday by the independent directors. PwC, the group's statutory auditor, was engaged in May to review significant cash transactions from January to June. In March, the company was in possible default on repayment of a $149 million convertible bond issue and its shares have not traded since September.PwC based its findings on interviews and review of documents available up to Sept 15.Its report noted that Sino-Environment unit, China Energy Environment, made a payment of about 920 million yen ($14 million) on May 22 allegedly to a Japanese company on behalf of another unit Fujian Thumb Environmental Facilities Co (Thumb Facilities) to buy Denox raw materials.But as at Aug 26, no raw materials had been delivered.
Friday, December 04, 2009
The PAP claims that the purpose of the cooling day is for voters to think rationally before they vote. I find it strange ...because the PAP has this habit of shocking us into voting for them like saying this country will sink without them, that the opposition is full of flyby night shady characters, that Chee SJ is a gangster, that our homes will become dilapidated and worthless, our daughters will become maids if we vote for the opposition....last elections, they said that the Worker's Party manifesto was full timebombs and poison. It is all threat and fear to get us to vote for the PAP so why in the world do they want rationality? Rationality can only work against them! So I don't buy the rationality reason for the cooling day.
... We don't have to wait for the election cooling day to think rationally - we can start right now....
I would like to ask Singaporeans this RATIONAL question right now:
Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?
Another RATIONAL question would be:
What are 5 things that PAP govt has done that benefits Singaporeans in the past 4 yrs?
Yet another few RATIONAL questions:
Does the peformance of our leaders justify their salaries?
Do you feel greater financial security today than you did 4 years ago?
Given the increasingly complex globalised economy which forces tradeoffs in policy making, wouldn't it be rational for Singaporeans many of whom see their interests being traded off in favor of big business to want more diverse views to be represented in parliament?
What is the worse that can happen if the PAP loses 10-20 seats?
Anyway, will people really miss those part time PAP MPs with little to say on critical life-affecting issues?
Everyone in Singapore should think rationally about how they should vote. I will definitely spend the 24 hour cooling period to reflect on what the PAP has done in the past 4 years and I'll post my thoughts rationally and coolly on this blog so that everyone can rationalise what they want to do with their vote and what they want for Singapore, themselves and their children in the long term.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Anger over North Korea's shock currency change
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AFP) - North Korea's shock currency revaluation has sparked anger and frustration in the isolated communist state as citizens see much of their savings wiped out, reports and observers said Wednesday.
They said the North had tightened security against possible agitation following Monday's redenomination, with a curfew reportedly imposed in a border region and shops closed across the country during the change-over.
Media reports and embassies in Pyongyang said people had been given a week to exchange 100 old won for one new won, but the amount they can change was strictly restricted.
While the move has yet to be announced by official media, analysts said itappeared aimed at curbing inflation and clamping down on burgeoning free markets in an attempt to reassert the regime's control. South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said the main motivation "appears to be Kim Jong-Il's intention to throttle the emerging free market" before an eventual handover of power by the Korean leader to his youngest son Jong-Un. The regime has already taken steps to curb free markets. These sprang up after the state food distribution system collapsed during famines in the 1990s, but are now seen as threatening the state's grip.
Professor Nam Ju-Hong of Kyonggi University told the paper Kim had "declared war against market forces" because his efforts to control trade had failed. Analysts said authorities initially limited the total sum that an individual can exchange for new currency to 100,000 won. Because of widespread protests, the limit was raised to 150,000 won in cash and 300,000 won in bank savings, according to DailyNK, an online newspaper with informants in the North.
The official exchange rate is 135 won to the dollar but the black market rate is between 2,000 and 3,000. "Hardest hit were the emerging middle-class who had earned big wealth from the jangmadang (markets)," said Lee Seung-Yong of Good Friends, a Seoul welfare group with contacts in North Korea. "They were angry and frustrated since most of their wealth based on the previous banknotes has been chipped away," he told AFP. But Lee said he expected no organised protests given the state's tight control over society. "The main goal is to crack down on the private markets that had stoked capitalism and to place socialism back in control," Lee said. Good Friends said in its newsletter that authorities were using loudspeakers installed in towns, farms and homes to spread news of the currency change. It said major cities including the capital Pyongyang and Sinuiju on the border with China were quiet, with shops, public bathhouses and restaurants mostly closed and long-distance buses not operating. The sudden revaluation angered market vendors and others. "I worked like a dog for two months for the winter, but the money became useless paper overnight," Good Friends quoted a Sinuiju resident as saying. DailyNK said security forces mounted extra street patrols and imposed a curfew in North Hamkyung province in the northeast. "After 10:00 pm all movement is prohibited. Offenders must be strictly regulated," it quoted the curfew notice as saying. All shops, markets and stores remained closed due to a temporary ban on trading during the week-long exchange of bills, it added. Any activities requiring monetary payments were being suspended until new currency is legally circulated, Good Friends reported. "The purpose of the currency revaluation is to crush private commercial activities, considered to promote anti-socialism," said Good Friends. "Kim Jong-Il must have wanted to bring the money out of the private safes and by doing so must have also hoped to ease public dissatisfaction resulting from growing social stratification," the Korea Herald said in an editorial. "Yet, such a drastic measure amounts to confiscation and could backfire even under the ruthlessly controlled system of the North."
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
I still have a few (genuine, real) Sunkist oranges from Coldstorage and the stickers look like this:Except for the words, the shape and colors are all the same.
The SonKiss oranges are really not too bad but I wonder why they have to copy the sticker. I bought them because they were cheap...that was a good enough selling point for me.
If you walk around Sim Lim, you will see those iPhone and BlackBerry knockoffs. For $145, you can get a phone that takes dual sim card, wifi, touchscreen, java, analog TV, 2 cameras, FM radio, MP3 and MP4 playback. They are really not too bad for the price conscious. But I really wonder if they have to make them look like BlackBerries, iPhones and Nokias because the price is already so attractive. It is really embarassing to be carrying a fake. I rather be using a unknown brand phone that doesn't look like some other popular phone.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Having a slogan linked to the Mars disasters is not so auspicious. However, "cheaper, better, faster" is not something new in Singapore. It has been practiced by the PAP govt for the past 2 decades - cheaper workers, better pay for elites and faster price hikes. The PAP has diversified its interests and it policy decisions clearly show this. Worker's Party MP Low once asked the PAP ministers to peg their pay as a multiple of the lowest earning 20% of the workforce to align their interests with those with the greatest need for improvement. The PAP refused and chose to peg their salaries to the highest earnings in various professions. The result is ballooning income gap - a constant stream of pro-business policies, regressive taxation and shifting cost burdens from govt to ordinary Singaporeans to lower corporate tax. When you have a govt driven by such mis-incentives, you sometimes wished they were not so efficient...so efficient at hiking prices, eliminating subsidies and thinking of the next method of squeezing Singaporeans.
The "cheaper, better, faster" strategy like NASA's creates risks and passes them to ordinary Singaporeans. Because of the income gap, the faster we go with this economy (artificial steroids = massive foreign worker influx) the faster many Singaporeans fall towards the poverty line...hence Mr. Brown's famous article "Singaporeans are fed, up with progress!". We are also fed up with a govt that refuses to the interests of Singaporeans ahead of its other interests and it rewards itself handsomely for doing so.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
When you see no reaction from Singaporeans to govt policy, decisions, mega-losses by Temasek & GIC and countless price hikes, it is not because they think the govt has done nothing wrong or they have accepted those losses as honest mistakes - they have simply don't think and don't care.... period. They just mind their own business. The lack of reaction cannot be interpreted as Singaporeans being contented and generally happy. The lack of reaction is the result of extreme apathy. People don't care, they mind their own business.....their fellow Singaporeans can just drop dead in front of them and they can continue eating their chicken like nothing has happened. It is very sad what has happened to Singaporeans - almost nothing can move them and wake them.
This self-exclusion thing is for problem gamblers/addicts to prevent themselves from losing control and start gambling. What's the rationale behind ppl who dislike gambling to sign up for this? Isn't your conscious mind and self-control adequate in stopping you from entering the casino?
My reply is this:
I tried to point out that gambling is bad not just problem gambling. Everyone should not go to the casino because gambling is bad not just for addicts. Addicts start by being non-addicts who get hooked after their 1st time. That is why those arguing against the casino don't want it on our soil because it will result in more people getting hooked. Sign the exclusion even if you're not an addict. Gambling is bad and we all should not start gambling. And if ever we get tempted, the exclusion will turn us back right at the door. The govt's message telling people to PLAY RIGHT, PLAY LIGHT is the wrong message. The point that only ADDICTS need to sign the exclusion is also wrong..because by the time you become and addicted it is too late. Everyone should sign this exclusion. Everyone should try their best never to get started on casino gambling. This govt has made too many mistakes on this problem.
I also receive comments that it does not matter if the govt campaign is encourages "responsible gambling" or "stop gambling". It makes a world of difference. You don't tell young kids it is okay to try some cigarettes as long as you don't get hooked. This campaign to ask people to gamble "responsibly" is a trojan horse. Out of 20 people who start gambling responsibly, 5-6 will become addicts and the problem will expand. The more they run this "PLAY LIGHT, PLAY RIGHT" campaign the worse this problem will get. It will be more beneficial for our society is people are told that gambling can lead addiction (so don't start). However, this govt has other interests like Singapore Pools and now ensuring the upcoming casinos are a success. The problems caused by gambling is handled by churches and social workers. I don't support the prohibition of gambling because it will push the problem underground and result in criminal elements in syndicates making money. What I support is proper education and sending the right message to the people.
Friday, November 27, 2009
"Dubai has the resources and visionary leadership to be one of the world's leading business hubs." Singapore's elder statesman said: "I'm greatly enthused by what's happening in Dubai. It's spectacular" -Lee Kuan Yew in the UAE, April 29, 2007.
I got my whole family to do it.
I was reading through stories about problem gamblers in Australia serveral months ago. In many cases they were passing by the casino (back from the cinema, restaurant, supermarket) and were drawn by the bright lights. They decide to go in play a few rounds on the slot machines(pokies) and before they know it they were hooked. Companies making slot machines program these machines with lights and sounds to trigger plenty of endorphins (pleasure inducing chemicals) to be released in your brain when you win. In fact they hire Phds to research how to get players hooked on their slot machines. Why do people get addicted to drugs? Drugs like marijuana cause the release endorphins in the brain and cause a craving for more. In Singapore we hang people who bring in marijuana but allow the slot machines in clubs. Why? Problem gambling is just as harmful as drugs - just look at the 12,000 loan shark harassment cases year to date. Many, I believe, are the result of gambling.
Before the govt even decided to build casinos to added to the problem, it was already a problem for many families and the harm caused by gambling is no less than that caused by drugs. Why are we so harsh on one problem and so lax on the other? I can't believe the poster at one Singapore Pools outlet I passed by the other day - it warned people about gambling by asking them to gamble within their means. The poster is found here [Link]
This ridiculous message is reflective of the effort our govt to put in to tackle the gambling problem. If you follow what the what the poster says, it is actually asking you to start gambling (responsibly?) as if it is a good thing like exercise - the correct message should be don't gamble or don't learn to gamble or don't start gambling or stop gambling. Most of these so-called "responsible gambling" campaigns are run by casino operators or online poker website operators. It is similar to the "Children don't smoke" campaign run by cigarette companies - the underlying message is children don't smoke so you're very adult to do so. How do people become problem gamblers? They start by playing light You don't go around telling people taking recreational drugs occasionally for pleasure is okay. It sends the wrong message by telling people there is something called "responsible gambling" ...that gambling can be good. They should tell people gambling is bad and it can lead to harm. I'm not suggesting the govt ban gambling outright but the campaign message has to be that you do it at your own risk of harming yourself and your family.
This govt is so strict it censors what we watch and read. Yet it allows something as harmful as gambling to proliferate and the related problem of loan sharking to grow. The govt's limited effort in this area has been disappointing and that is why many Singaporeans believe the casino will bring more harm than good.