Saturday, 30 June 2012

White Clouds Clearing For Blue Skies

Update 01 Feb 2013: Dr Koh Poh Koon having fun waving to empty streets and buildings


read more

White Clouds Clearing












For Blue Skies













read more


PM LEE: DR KOH WOULD HAVE WON THE BY-ELECTION

PM Lee

According to the Straits Times (29 Jan) PM Lee Hsien Loong has no doubt that Dr Koh Poh Koon, the PAP candidate for Punggol East SMC, would have won election had he been given enough time to get to know the residents.

“Unfortunately he didn’t have enough time and so he didn’t win in Punggol East,” PM Lee was reported to have said.


This simplistic explanation for Dr Koh’s loss to Ms Lee Li Lian of the Workers’ Party has drawn much derision on the internet.


read more

LionCity Re-election


Kudos to the Lioncity State that successfully staged an exciting, peaceful, though a surprising outcome but fair re-election for its Punggol East constituency. This show-case a high standard of democracy for Asian countries to emulate.

As repported by its local media, the message is clear, from the voters: “Bread & butter solutions and Singaporeans First”. Regardless of party politics.

Both political parties put forth very good candidates this time around. As they all say, the choice is decided by the people.

read more

PAP suffers 10.83% swing in Punggol East by-election

It is true that by-elections put the governing party at a disadvantage. Voters are more likely to express their unhappiness without risk of toppling the government. Nevertheless, the 10.83% swing against the People’s Action Party in Punggol East (polling day: 26 January 2013) is one that must worry the PAP.

If we superimposed this swing on the results of the May 2011 general election, the PAP would lose its majority. It would find itself with only 42 seats in Parliament. Opposition parties would hold 45 seats.


In addition to George Yeo, other current ministers who would then have lost their seats include Ng Eng Hen, Josephine Teo, Lim Swee Say, Vivian Balakrishnan, Lui Tuck Yew and K Shanmugam. Two new ministers appointed in 2011 — Heng Swee Keat and Tan Chuan-jin — would not have made it either.


read more



Punggol East By-Election 2013: The Aftermath and the Analysis
Click to visit the original post
  • Click to visit the original post
By now, most of Singapore would know that WP's Lee Li Lian had won the Punggol East by-election and soundly thumped PAP's Koh Poh Koon.

WP won 54.52% of the votes, whereas PAP could only capture 43.71% of the votes. WP won by a very convincing margin of 10.81%.

This is compared to when WP had won 43.71% of the votes in General Election 2011 and PAP had won 54.54%.

read more

The Punggol By-election – A watershed

The Punggol by-election came and went in two weeks of furious hustling. The Workers’ Party candidate Lee Li Lian triumphed in what is largely a gentlemanly contest between four political parties. The victory of Workers Party has turned a new page in the history books and set a new milestone in the landscape.

The by election, the second in as many years, will be remembered as a watershed in Singapore politics.

Opposition cooperation and unity? - “The WP insists on going its own way … not because of arrogance or lack of respect for other parties, but to prevent history from repeating itself, and from letting people down again,”


read more

Punggol BE Results : What it tells us

For anyone unfamiliar with the situation on the ground at Punggol East, the results of the by-election is indeed surprising. The popular opinion at the start of the contest was it would be a close one but the PAP candidate was likely to win. Instead of this, we see a 11% swing away from the PAP candidate.  A hypothetical 11% swing in the GE 2016 will not only take the PAP votes to below 50%, it is likely to take away its majority in parliament - the PAP will have to seek coalition partner from the opposition to stay in power or be kicked out - I don't think the leaders in PAP slept well yesterday. While a win by WP was always a possibility, the wide margin was a big surprise for many.

I will cite a few of the minor reasons that might have helped to contributed to the margin before I get to the major ones. One commonly cited reason on the mainstream media  is this is a by-election so voters are more willing to vote for the opposition. The by-election effect was cleverly used by Chiam See Tong in the 1990s who tried to turn the opposition weakness to strength by returning the PAP to power on nomination day during general elections. If you look at the election results when this strategy was used, it probably account a few extra % of the votes because most people expected the PAP to be returned to power anyway given  its dominance.

How many people voted for the PAP in 2011 instead of the opposition because they fear it would lose the general elections? If you look at the 1992 by-election held shortly after the 1991 election when PAP lost an unprecedented 4 SMCs, there was a swing of 4% to the opposition[Link] - it was also a 4 corner fight but the main opposition party (SDP) running at that time was led by Chee (before his sacking from NUS and hunger strike) was far stronger that the one running during the GE 1991 (JPS)  yet we saw only a swing of 4%.

read more

Some Explanation Required

Luck had nothing to do with the stunning victory at Punggol East, a margin of 3,182 votes or 10.8 per cent of valid votes is not something to be sniffed at. Lee Li Lian deserves the accolades for her hard work, covering every one of the HDB blocks in the ward with the help of volunteers and party members.

And we are forever indebted to the courage of the Punggol East voters, who were not seduced by the temptations of the short term giveaways, and focused on the future of their children's generation.

As for the big time loser, he should have listened to his wife's counsel, "You want to help people, but people don't want you". 

read more


Punggol East by-election hindsights

The dust has finally settled in Punggol East – Workers’ Party (WP), Lee Li Lian, won with a 54.54% margin, over PAP’s Koh Poh Koon who took home 43.71% of the votes. The other candidates were Desmond Lim and Kenneth Jeyaretnam who scored 0.57% and 1.2% respectively.

The date for the by-election admittedly came as a complete surprise, as it came on the heels of the AIM saga where the development of IT systems was given to PAP companies, which in this case was AIM. The problem will of course rear its ugly head when the PAP incumbent(s) lose his seat in the ward. The company can serve its notice and terminate its software arrangements with the town council. Such arrangements were viewed in the negative sense as high-handedness reeking of cronyism.

If the PAP lost, the question which arises is whether the town councils will be left high and dry. Thus, it wasn’t surprising that the spotlight has now fallen on the management of the Punggol East town council now that it has fallen into the opposition’s hands.

read more

The Wave of Change that Swept Singapore: Punggol East By-Election 2013

The Worker’s Party won the Punggol East by-election by a convincing margin of 10.81% to win 54.52% of the votes. This is a 13.5% improvement from their performance at General Election 2011. By all accounts, this is a very solid win by the Worker’s Party. On top of that, Ms Lee Li Lian is the first woman to win a by-election in Singapore.

To be very clear, this win by the Worker’s Party is a very strong and powerful message that will resonate and reverberate throughout the whole of Singapore. It will send a very powerful signal to all Singaporeans that what we’ve been harbouring in our thoughts all along – that they’ve been treated unjustly – is proven right afterall. And one that a large multitude of Singaporeans feel as well.

This will ignite the passion and vigour among some Singaporeans to search within themselves to identify with what they truly believe in, and to stand up and make their voice known, together with the growing number of Singaporeans who have taken online to speak up, and increasingly, propose strategies and changes for a better Singapore.

read more


Broken Trust, Broken Policies

Like a sore loser, the PAP quickly attributed its Punggol East defeat to some act of God – the “by-election effect.” We lost, not because we are incompetent but because of forces beyond our control. It appears to be a term (in the league of “ponding” and “freak flood”) PAP spin doctors conjured up to save face, and to mollify its dismayed, hardcore supporters.

PAP would be deceiving itself if it genuinely thought it lost because of the “by-election effect”.

Punggol East voters, among which 76% are below 50 years old, had sent the ruling party a very clear message on behalf of the middle/sandwiched class. The pro-opposition supporters had voted tactically by channeling their ballots to the Workers’ Party, and had stood their ground despite the fatter and juicier carrots dangled by PAP this time round.

read more

Whither Singapore?


After the results for the Punggol East by-election was known, former Minister George Yeo made a 2-word post, “Whither Singapore” on his Facebook. Within hours, there were hundreds of comments.Whither is used in poetic language. It means ‘to what place’, or ‘to what end or purpose’. I suppose George Yeo meant where Singapore politics is heading towards, given the unexpected defeat of a previously safe SMC seat by a stunning 10.8% margin to the opposition in a 4-corner fight.

When I plunged into politics 2 years ago, I never expected myself to be actively involved in a General Election and two by-elections, plus being a keen observer of a closely fought Presidential Election; all in less than 24 months. In election-deprived Singapore, we never had such election excitement since independence.

Many firsts had taken place. For the first time, a GRC was lost to the opposition. The GRC is viewed by many as the impregnable fortress of the PAP, designed to make it difficult for the opposition to take down teams that are each led by 1-2 ministers. PAP also received its lowest share of the popular votes since independence. Three months later, for the first time, a presidential candidate favoured by the ruling party was elected by less than majority votes, and with a shocking razor-thin 0.3% margin as well. Then, after losses in Aljunied GRC and in the Hougang by-election, the PAP lost for the first time since independence in a multi-corner fight to a female opposition candidate.

read more


A Victory of the People

The people of Punggol East have given democracy a big boost in Singapore. Their vote was not a vote against the government but a vote for a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We need to remember that the opposition is as much a part of the government as well as the party in power.
The results of the Punggol East by-election is a wake-up call to all political parties. The Reform Party and the SDA provided the opportunity for the people of Punggol East to demonstrate their political maturity.

Unfortunately they were both struck down by the hammer and lightning and lost their pants! Their unfortunate loss should be seen as the sacrifice to showcase the wisdom of the residents of Punggol East. The SDP very wisely listened to the voice of the people and did not fall for the bait of the PAP.

The election results of Punggol East is a beacon of hope for democracy in Singapore. The Workers Party will do well to be aware that the seeds of defeat may be sown in times of victory while the PAP can take comfort that the seeds of victory may be sown in times of defeat. As long as the focus of the political parties is on the welfare of the people, policies will benefit the people. What is badly needed in a world that is becoming more competitive is a sharing and pooling of ideas. No one party has the monopoly on wisdom.

read more

Punggol East contest: a tipping point

What is one to make of the Workers’ Party victory in Punggol East?

Its candidate Lee Li Lian got 54.2 per cent of votes beating People’s Action Party’s Koh Poh Koon who got 43.7 per cent out of 29,415 valid votes cast.

First, that voters like loyalty, preferring candidates who stick by them over a new face. Ms Lee who got 41 per cent in the General Election in 2011 against the PAP’s Michael Palmer’s 54 per cent, improved her margin by about 13 per cent, or nearly 4,000 voters

read more

Workers’ Party sizzling victory at Punggol East by-election – a tight slap in the face for PAP?

WP also gained a total of 13.5% of the swing votes from GE 2011′s 41 per cent to last night showing  of 54.5% – all within a mere 18 months and without really having to walk the ground too much.

More significantly, the overwhelming  victory showed that Singaporeans are warming up to the Workers’ Party as the most trusted credible opposition party and would vote for anyone whom they have placed.

The victory was also significant as it has busted the myth that in a 4-corner by-election battle, PAP would have the upper hand but clearly this time round WP has provened otherwise.

read more


By-election result makes desire for change clear

The result of the by-election is an unambiguous sign that the people of Singapore want to see democratic change. The people of Punggol East have strongly indicated that they need to have their voice heard on matters affecting them. It is important that the PAP pays heed and clears the obstacles to the improvement of our country.

The PAP’s campaign neglected to engage with the real concerns affecting the country. Its approach to the voters was characterised by warm sentiments devoid of real proposals for change.

Singaporeans are increasingly committed to the idea of a Parliament that works to safeguard their interests. It is a word of warning that the status quo is becoming untenable for our day-to-day lives and a plain verdict on national policies.

read more

My post-Punggol East dilemma

When the results of the Punggol East by-election came out, I was surprised – as much by the result, as by my own response.

First, there was the unexpected margin that the Workers’ Party candidate received – something that surprised even her own leaders.

Then came what seemed to be a slightly alarming thought: Would I see the People’s Action Party lose power in my lifetime?

read more

Punggol East – We are not daft

Whoever thinks that the voters, in general and those in Hougang or Punggol East, are daft got to get his head check. The maturity of the voters, mind you they may not have first class honours or top doctors or scholars, but many are very well educated, with tertiary education.

And many are definitely smarter and more qualified that the plane loads of FTs being unloaded to replace them. At least our local FTs are carrying genuine certificates and qualifications from world class universities and from our world best primary and secondary schools with very well qualified and trained teachers.

The pattern of voting in Punggol East was simply brilliant. It was reported that in every polling station, the WP won. There was no exception or enclave where there was stronger or weaker support for the PAP or WP. Translating this, it means the support is from the overall majority of the voters.

read more

Singapore Government loses control of narrative

Last weekend's by-election in Singapore has inflicted the fourth electoral blow in a row to the ruling People's Action Party.

The PAP had already lost six seats to the opposition in the general elections of May 2011, collected only just over one-third of the vote in the presidential election of August 2011 (still enough to win against a divided opposition), and then failed to win back an opposition seat in a by-election in late 2012. The loss of the Single Member Constituency of Punggol East is a particularly cruel blow because it is a new constituency created only two years ago, and according to the former PAP MP for the constituency, this was done precisely because the PAP regarded it as safe territory.

What went so wrong that the PAP could only win 43.7% of the vote last Saturday? The electorate abuts other opposition electorates, but this was not enough to make a dent in 2011, when the PAP won the seat handsomely with 54.5% (coincidentally, exactly the same percentage won by Lee Li Lian of the Workers' Party on Saturday against the PAP and two other opposition candidates).

read more

Why PAP lost again


It looks like PAP has not learned from the lessons of 2011 GE.

LTK is right. The PAP of old is not the PAP of today. George Yeo made a very good comment that when an organisation get going for many years, the rot starts to set in and what they do not "realise" will set its doom. He wanted to be the "reformist" voice inside the Party but unfortunately he got booted out.

In the sixties up to the early eighties, PAP has a very strong dedicated grassroot base whose support begin from ordinary folks in the mass anti-colonial movement. In the early days, PAP filled many ordinary folks with just simple education backgrounds to be candidates. Later the Barisan Socialis made a critical mistake when it withdrew from running in the elections and so gave PAP a free hand. PAP responded by running country with excellent economic policies that uplifted the people's standard of living. With a strong grassroot base, it continued to enjoy continuous support from the populace.

read more


Why the PAP lost so badly in the Punggol East by-election

The results of the Punggol East by-election surprised everyone. People expected a very close fight. No one expected PAP, by its own standards, to be thrashed by such a wide margin. Even the professional forecasters who make a living offering odds thought that the PAP was going to win by 1000 votes.
What then went wrong?

When Michael Palmer resigned his seat, the Prime Minister saw no urgency to call for a by-election. He said that there were some national issues to be settled first. On hindsight, perhaps he should have stuck to this initial intention. Unfortunately he did not.

When the Singapore Democratic Party announced its intention to contest the by-election and made known the seriousness of this intention by going on walkabouts and house-to-house visits in impressive style, the PAP changed its mind.

read more

History in the making in Punggol East

Never in its more than fifty years of history has the PAP experienced such a humiliating defeat as in the recently concluded Punggol East by-election. Although the PAP candidate Dr. Koh Poh Koon had diligently emphasised during the campaign that the by-election was about local issues, the Punggol East voters have nevertheless unmistakably delivered a clear message that this is a referendum on the PAP's performance since GE 2011. PM Lee Hsien Loong and his millionaire ministers cannot continue to be oblivious to the massive anger of the people over the undemocratic policies of the PAP Government.

The PAP brought in an eminent colorectal surgeon to be its candidate thinking that his professional status would be an added advantage in winning the heart of Punggol East voters. As a credit to him,  he did not exhibit any of the PAP arrogance in his approach to the voters and in fact was quite down-to-earth in presenting his election programme to them which was aimed at ameliorating their livelihood and living conditions. But the PAP leaders did not consider it important that Dr. Koh was a newbie parachuted into the constituency which may have been a handicap in his effort to commune with the voters, especially the elderly women.

With the PAP big guns coming in to give much needed support to Dr. Koh in his campaign, it would have been reasonable to suppose it would have improved his chances to win. Especially with PM Lee extolling Dr Koh's eminent qualities and promising that, if elected, he would make him a political office holder. PM Lee might have overdone it as this could have a counter-effect to the more down-to-earth Punggol East voters and cut no ice with them.

read more

WP: How to win together


The WP have no secret manual for success. It is really up to the rest to swallow their pride and do likewise, then we shall all be winners.

This is what they mean by a First World Parliament. Well it doesn't exist anywhere else. Just like the PAP was once upon a time a very unusual political party and government.

The PAP must stop being superficial. What you do isn't as important as showing a genuine change of heart in truly putting the people first. When you do that you will find us surprisingly patient. The PAP might have to sack quite a few of its self seeking members to achieve this heart transplant. There is no way to win if you have lost your moral authority. And if you are stupid enough to fix the WP, I am sure citizens will make sure you have no opportunity to even repent. It is far smarter to compete with the WP in parliament than to fight us everywhere outside.

read more

related:
Town Councils Graded On Corporate Governance
From Desmond Lawrence Sylvia to AHPETC
Social Media Takes On Town Council
Town Council Grants And Surplus Issues
From Adverse-Opinion, Ceiling-Cleaning to Unlicensed-Fair
From AIM AHPETC to PA

Friday, 29 June 2012

"Homes, Inflation, Jobs & Transport"

Repackage low wage jobs into 'jobs of the future' : Labour chief

The labour movement's plan to implement a progressive wage system for low-wage workers is aimed at encouraging tripartite partners and Singaporeans to look at low-wage jobs in a different light.

Labour chief Lim Swee Say told the media yesterday at a grassroots event that he wants to make today's low-wage jobs into tomorrow's jobs of the future.

He is confident this can be achieved in today's environment, compared with five years ago.

The NTUC will set wage targets for low-wage workers under its progressive wage approach.

Workers who are currently getting less than S$1,000 a month would strive to earn at least S$1,000. For those already earning S$1,000, NTUC wants to lift their wages to S$1,200. 

read more 

Say What, Swee Say

ST Photo: Desmond Lui for Straits Times


According to Labour Chief Lim Swee Say, by 2015, 10,000 cleaners will earn at least $1,000 a month.

So why has the pay of cleaners been so miserable for so long. In fact, some are earning less that they did in previous years. My gut feel is there are just too much outsourcing, too much sub-contracting and too many middlemen getting a cut of the pay that is actually due to the cleaners.

We celebrate Labour Day but physical labour and dignity of cleaners and security guards is not worth respecting, unlike the labour of plastic surgeons and ministers. Of course, surgeons and ministers deserve higher pay but cleaners need a decent minmum wage to survive too.

Allowing cheaper foreign workers who are willing to accept lower pay also cause cleaners' pay to stagnate and even decrease. 

read more 

Bills pile up for 88-year old patient

The SDP reported on this website about the plight of 88-year old Mr Dawart Abdul who was suffering from prostate problems and, as a result, was incontinent. The urine odour in his house caused much unhappiness among his neighbours.

Members of the SDP's Community Services Unit visited the octogenarian and brought him to consult our healthcare panel member Dr Leong Yan Hoi.

We paid Mr Dawart a follow-up visit last week and found out that the Care Corner Family Service Centre at Woodlands and Community Development Council had provided Mr Dawart a wheelchair, some taxi vouchers for transport, and a one-time supply of food rations.

But that's just one side of the story. What the Government gives with one hand, it takes back with the other. 

read more 

Comparing apples, oranges and Singapore
 
'This is why Singapore will never breed true creativity/a Steve Jobs/an artist like Banksy/ an affinity for nature. Our nation will never be a centre for excellence in high tech/the arts/making babies,' says the Angry Bunch.

And inevitably one or both sides use a uniquely Singaporean rhetorical tool: Comparing Singapore with another country.

Whether the issue is the culling of wild boars, or the falling birth rate, or whether Sticker Lady is an artist or a vandal, or if the capping of mobile data usage is fair to users, there is a type of statement that is becoming much too familiar.

Whenever I read that, I weep manly tears. 


Inflation slows in May, concerns linger

Price rises of property and oil-related items eased but COEs surged

Consumer prices rose more slowly than expected last month as pressures from accommodation and oil-related items eased, but concerns about longer-term inflation lingered amid tight markets for housing rentals, car ownership quotas and low-skilled labour.

Inflation slowed to 5 per cent last month from a year ago, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said yesterday, slightly below the median economists' forecast of 5.1 per cent. It was also a sharp improvement from April's 5.4 per cent, which was the highest rate this year.

Measured month-on-month in seasonally adjusted terms, the consumer price index (CPI) climbed 0.1 per cent after a 0.3-per-cent rise in April, matching expectations.

Accommodation cost inflation fell to 9 per cent last month from 12.7 per cent in April, largely due to the timing of the disbursements of rebates for services and conservancy charges for HDB households. 

read more 

Singapore's May Inflation slowed to 5%

Singapore's inflation slowed to 5% in May from a year earlier and authorities cited moderating price pressures from wages and other business costs, indicating the central bank might have room to ease monetary policy slightly in October.

The May inflation was slightly below the median estimate of 5.1% of 11 economists polled by Reuters and a sharp improvement over April's 5.4%, the highest rate in 2012.

Central banks in the Philippines, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, India and South Korea held rates this month, while China and Australia chose to cut benchmark interest rates as growth concern increased and inflationary pressures eased.

Singapore's inflation has, however, remained high compared with other Asian countries due to a shortage of homes and measures to cap the number of motor vehicles on the roads, which sent car prices spiralling higher. 

read more 

The cost of the right to own a car in Singapore

In an attempt to control traffic congestion and pollution Singapore residents are expected to buy the right to have a car.

The permit comes on top of their driving license and road taxes.

And the price of the permit goes up, as more people ask for one.

But with costs now reaching record levels, many Singaporeans are giving up on their driving dreams. 

read more 

27-year-old PMET landed in A & E due to work stress and later resigned


Still remember me? Anyway, I have some bad news that I would like to share with you. Remember when I first emailed you, I was with a media company doing marketing

Actually, things had been well after then, and I have people telling me that marketing is the career path that I should be going. Well, when I thought that things will be better when I decided to move to a new company doing a wider scope. Unfortunately, dreams and reality are somehow very different.

In the new company, my boss is career-driven lady (I would not call her a slave-driver though), having calls and messages as late as 10pm, and even have to clear my work until 10pm almost everyday.

Along the way, I thought to myself that since I am still young and I don’t want to be labelled as a “strawberry”, I pushed myself and worked all my way till even midnight at times and to skip my part-time classes.

In the end, my health got affected. I even landed in A & E once due to chest pains. In the end, I tendered my resignation. 

read more 

Homeless in Singapore?

Where do the homeless go?

There seems to be a perception that people in homeless shelters normally don’t
get evicted, I have come across many cases of eviction and notice of
eviction from homeless shelters.

Perpetual queue of homeless?

As I understand it, homeless shelters are almost invariably always
full, with new homeless people all the time. So, unless one is evicted
or threatened with eviction, they wouldn’t know actually whether they
can fend for themselves, as most people will not volunteer to leave a
homeless shelter.

Interim Housing Scheme

Those in the Interim Housing Scheme also get evicted because they
cannot pay their rental.

How many homeless in shelters?

By the way, how many homeless shelters are there in Singapore, how
many people are housed in total, and who runs them? 

read more


The Real Economic Trade-offs for Singapore

In his speech he outlines the main economic challenges that Singapore faces and goes on to describe his govt's approach towards these issues. Most of what he said is familiar to us - need to keep taxes and govt expenditure low, maintain growth to grow the pie and need to import foreign labor so on.

Essentially, he propose to keep going along the same path of the last 15-20 years with adjustments  to address the challenges. His speech was titled "Remaking the Singapore Economy" contains little remaking but excuses on why we cannot make fundamental changes to economic model.

"Globalisation and technology will widen income distributions all over the world. You can see this trend in all developed economies, from capitalist USA to socialist France, over the last 30 years. Talented and enterprising individuals will continue to earn a high premium, while pressure will grow on jobs in the middle, because competition is intensifying globally. So inequality will grow worldwide, and angst and social pressures will go up." - PM Lee 


PM’s Veiled Threat and False Argument

PM said nothing new in his speech to the Economic Society of Singapore on 8 June 2012. Instead he hardened his position on economic strategy with fallacious arguments, contrary to public expectation of a change in government attitude and policy following his well-publicized apology just before the last general election in 2011.

The "alarming implications" of his speech were highlighted by Kenneth Jeyaretnam (www.sonofadud.com). Other writers have also made similar criticisms. In this posting, I will zero in on just one key aspect of his subsequent Q&A session when "Mr Lee said there is no country in the world where the population gets smaller and incomes rise at the same time." (here)

Did I read it correctly, that "there is no country in the world where the population gets smaller and incomes rise at the same time"? Prime Minister, you are wrong. On the same day that PM's speech was published (9 June), there was a feature article in the Straits Times showing Estonia's population declining -0.65% while its GDP rose by 7.9% in 2011.

But it is by no means the only country to achieve it. There are at least 3 other countries whose national income/GDP rose in 2011 while population declined. In addition, 4 countries (Austria, Finland, Taiwan and S Korea) whose populations effectively stagnated as they grew only marginally, registered respectable real GDP growth rates of 2.7 to 5.2%; and these are developed, high-income economies like Singapore. (All statistics are taken from CIA Factbook.)

Population growth rate GDP real growth rate

1. Estonia – 0.65 % 7.9 %
2. Latvia -0.598 % 4.0 %
3. Lithuania -0.278 % 5.8 %
4. Ukraine -0.625 % 5.2 %
5. Austria 0.026 % 3.3 %
6. Finland 0.065 % 2.7 %
7. Taiwan 0.171 % 5.2 %
8. S Korea 0.204 % 3.6 % 

read more 

Oil prices continue to drop despite output cuts. Will EMA cut electricity tariffs?
 
Yahoo! News, 25 Jun 2012
World oil prices dropped on Monday as eurozone debt concerns offset production stoppages in the Gulf of Mexico and Norway.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, slid $1.11 to $78.65 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for August dropped 63 cents to $90.35 in late London deals.


Katong property more valuable than Hawaiian island

So the the Katong home of the late Liem Sioe Liong, one of Indonesia’s richest men, is valued at approximately S$100 million, according to a report in Indonesia’s TEMPO Interactive. The property is 86,000 sq ft.

It was reported yesterday that the billionaire boss of technology giant Oracle is to buy 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Larry Ellison’s successful bid is unknown, but the asking price for the 141 sq mile (365 sq km) was said to be between US$500m and $600m


Reminded me that in the late 1980s, the grounds of the Imperial Palace in downtown Tokyo was said to be worth all the land in California. Australia sold part of the land its embassy was on and paid off half of its foreign debt. 

read more 

Slow News Day at STOMP since STOMPgate

My friend Gwee spotted this shocking piece of citizen journalism at STOMP today. It was a photo of an animal swimming — NAKED — in MacRitchie Reservoir.

This is scandalous! Why are there actual animals wandering in the wild, in our very own reservoirs? Why are they swimming in the very waters that we drink?

If it wasn't for SPH's STOMP, I would not have known about the dark underbelly of our nature reserves.

Is there any government authority looking into this? Is this even a local monitor lizard?

read more 

#STOMPgate – Singapore online community’s moment of sweet schadenfreude

Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) – the organisation which owns and runs newspapers, magazines and websites (among other things) – has had to apologise to public transport provider SMRT after a content producer on their citizen journalism portal STOMP (Straits Times Online Mobile Print) was found to have posted false information about the operation of a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train.


This photograph was posted on STOMP last week alleging that the train was travelling with its doors open.

Ms Samantha Francis, under the anonymous nickname of ‘wasabi’, had initially submitted an article containing a photograph of an MRT train with its doors open, alleging that there had been a fault and that the doors had not closed while the train was moving from one station to another. 

read more 

More fights break out on buses and trains 
 
inSing.com, 25 Jun 2012
The recent slate of heated arguments on public transport continues with two more incidents that occurred on an MRT train and a bus.

In the MRT incident, which occurred at around 8:15pm on 21 June in a westbound train, a 60 year-old man got into a fight with a 20 year-old man after the old man’s backpack bumped into the young man. An exchange of words escalated into a fight, and the old man is said to have suffered multiple facial injuries as a result. Both men were said to be passengers on the train.

In the separate bus incident, two ‘uncles’ were caught on video fighting for a seat on a SBS bus. The 1:45 minute video was uploaded on Youtube and has been watched by more than 83,000 people so far. 

read more 

Two uncles fight on SBS bus 

After an old woman and a young lady quarreled fiercely on the MRT, this time it is two uncles fighting on a SBS bus.

This time round, as it involved men, there is some real action as you can see later on the video below.

I think the recent spate of public commuters being embraced in quarrels and fights may attest to the very high level of stress in our Singapore society which is getting more and more crowded everywhere. Also, the number of good jobs may seem to be getting more competitive  and more men and women, young and old are having more and more hair loss.

I think it is time for Mr Lui Tuck Yew to intervene using his Land Transport Authority (LTA). We should consider having commuters buying public travel insurance lest the MRT platform gap is too big for them or they become victims of some warly commuters! 

read more

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Watz Online - 28 Jun 2012

Ho Yeow Sun: '$23 million bid for stardom'

Ms Sun Ho wearing a body-hugging black outfit in the music video for her single Fancy Free. She had four No. 1 hits on the Billboard dance charts. -- PHOTO: SUN HO MUSIC

What did a purported $23 million do for Ms Ho Yeow Sun's music career?

It apparently gave her four No. 1 hits on the Billboard dance charts, an English-language album produced by famed rapper-producer Wyclef Jean, a slick music video featuring her gyrating to a pulsating beat, and a US$20,000 (S$25,500) a month Hollywood Hills mansion.

On Tuesday, Ms Ho's pastor husband and four others were arrested for allegedly misusing at least $23 million in church funds to finance her career without the knowledge of the church's executive members, who were not told how the funds were being used.

read more

Singapore Airlines clings to luxury as budget carriers thrive

An Airbus A380 jet of Singapore Airlines takes off from the airport in Zurich March 21, 2012. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Tony Fernandes, the flamboyant chief executive of budget airline AirAsia, joked last month that he could buy Singapore Airlines and even displayed an artist's impression of his competitor's plane painted in AirAsia colours.

It was a tongue-in-cheek jab, but one that struck at a painful truth for Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI). The company has stuck to its luxury image even as low-cost carriers picked off passengers in a weak global economy, and profits have suffered.

The airline reported an unexpected loss in the January-March quarter, its first since the tail end of the global financial crisis in 2009 which crushed global air travel. Its shares are down 29 percent in the past 12 months, while AirAsia's (AIRA.KL) are up 10 percent.

While AirAsia pecks away at the low end, Dubai's flagship carrier Emirates is challenging Singapore for the title of top luxury carrier. Emirates does not have publicly traded shares, but its operating margins over the past six years have outpaced Singapore's, 8.6 percent to 6.5 percent.

read more

Singapore Homes Most Affordable as Rents Climb: Mortgages


Shivram Anantharaman paid a monthly rent of S$2,650 ($2,069) until March. Now, he’s paying S$40 less every month after buying a three-bedroom condominium inSingapore’s East Coast region.

“The clincher in Singapore is that monthly installments toward repayment of your loan are lower than what you would pay in rent,” said Anantharaman, a private banker at ICICI Bank Ltd., who took out a S$1.04 million mortgage for his S$1.3 million property late last year. “It’s one of the few countries in the world where that is possible,” because of the lowinterest rates, he said.

Homebuyers like Anantharaman are taking advantage ofmortgage rates at an all-time low in the Southeast Asian island-state, even as prices are almost at a record high and the government introduced measures to cool the property market. Home affordability in Singapore has risen to the highest in a decade because of historically low interest rates and flexible payment options available to buyers, according to Jefferies Group Inc.

read more

Singapore Woos Millionaires With Murakami, Leibovitz


What’s the connection between racing car driver Lewis Hamilton, Michelin-starred chef Joel Robuchon and New York gallery owner Sundaram Tagore? The answer is Singapore.

The city-state’s relentless quest to attract money and millionaires, which includes the world’s first nighttime Formula One race, $10 billion on two casino resorts and a private gold vault, has now drawn some international galleries to an enclave that once housed British soldiers.

Gillman Barracks will commence business in September with the simultaneous openings of 13 art spaces including Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Takashi Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki Gallery andShanghArt of Shanghai.

The project is a joint effort by Economic Development Board, the National Arts Council and the landlord, JTC Corp., a state-linked infrastructure developer. Sundaram Tagore, gallery founder, says the government’s role is a mixed blessing.

read more

How Singapore Policed the Foreign Press

Publication in the National Gazette was just one of many tools including contempt of court and libel suits


A few years ago the word “gazetted” was possibly the most feared word for any publication operating in Asia, especially Southeast Asia. The term described the way the Singaporean government policed the foreign press by selectively curtailing or expanding a publication’s circulation within the island republic.

The term “gazette” merely referred to the fact that the circulation curtailment order from the Information Ministry was published in the National Gazette. But as a verb it had a sinister connotation, sort of like being “garroted” or maybe “guillotined.” It was appropriate since a gazetted newspaper or magazine had its circulation cut by more than half.

I was reminded of those days with the marking recently of the 25th anniversary of “Operation Spectrum”, a severe crackdown that the Singaporean government launched against about two dozen of its citizens it said were part of a “Marxist Conspiracy” to turn the island republic into a communist state.

read more

Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low

In case you need more confirmation that the US economy is out of balance, here are three charts for you.

1) Corporate profit margins just hit an all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than they ever have before. (And some people are still saying that companies are suffering from "too much regulation" and "too many taxes." Maybe little companies are, but big ones certainly aren't).

Corporate profits as Percent of GDP
Business Insider, St. Louis Fed

2) Fewer Americans are working than at any time in the past three decades.One reason corporations are so profitable is that they don't employ as many Americans as they used to.

Employment Population Ratio
Business Insider, St. Louis Fed

3) Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low.This is both cause and effect. One reason companies are so profitable is that they're paying employees less than they ever have as a share of GDP. And that, in turn, is one reason the economy is so weak: Those "wages" are other companies' revenue.

Wages to GDP
Business Insider, St. Louis Fed

In short, our current system and philosophy is creating a country of a few million overlords and 300+ million serfs.

read more

Singapore wants Florida brainpower

Florida State University President Eric Barron told Gov. Rick Scott’s higher education reform panel that budget cuts are making his faculty a “farm team” for out-of-state schools.

It looks like out-of-state schools are not the only organizations looking to

poach
recruit Florida’s STEM talent. The Singapore National Research Foundation is actively recruiting PhDs under 40 years of age and offering $2.4 million* individual fellowships if you take your brain and ideas to Singapore.

According to Bloomberg, 1780 people gave up their US citizenship last year. So, you can take the money, head over to Singapore and maybe have lunch with Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Sayonara. Following is text of the Singapore pitch:

read more

'Power of We' - An Interview with Straits Times



What Chen Show Mao wants, more than anything, is to be a catalyst to get Singaporeans more engaged in their citizenship and to play their part in fixing what is wrong with society, he tells Susan Long.

THE question foremost on most minds is: Is Mr Chen Show Mao for real? Ask him that and his brows knit in perplexity.

Well, it is hard not to do the cost-benefit analysis of him throwing in the almost-certain success of his pedigreed, multimillion-dollar law career for the uncertain prospects of joining Singapore's opposition.

But he challenges that calculus, saying it wrongly assumes the cost was all borne by him. It was not, he maintains.

'I didn't spring forth from my mother's womb, fully formed by my own talent and ambition. It took my parents who made sacrifices and a whole community of teachers, scholarship boards, donors, taxpayers and others to give me an education and since I can't pay them all back, I hope to pay it forward.

'Even if you just look at it in dollars and cents, I couldn't have attended university without help,' says the 51-year-old who attended Harvard, Oxford and Stanford on university scholarships and the Rhodes scholarship.

It becomes clear that he views things through a different lens. Since he was voted into Parliament in May last year - when his Aljunied GRC team, led by Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang, won 54.7 per cent of valid votes - most of his public speeches have been an exercise in reframing.

read more

Woman bites off attacker’s lip

A woman bit off the lower lip of a man she claimed was molesting her in Singapore.

The woman, a China national known only as Loo, was punched on the nose by the man who fled the scene.

She only realized that she had bitten off the man's lip when she felt something inside her mouth and spat it out in the 11 p.m. incident on Saturday. It was a piece of flesh measuring about 2 centimeter in length.

Loo, 39, who works as a cleaner in the republic, said she was walking back to her hostel alone that night when the man grabbed her from behind.

read more

Apple iTunes store to open in Philippines, Singapore

Apple appears ready to open the virtual doors to its iTunes store in the Philippines and Singapore, putting an end to over three months of rumors sparked by a "Parental Control" setting in iTunes 10.6.

Update: Apple released an official announcement saying that iTunes has launched in 12 more countries in Asia, and besides the Philippines and Singapore, customers in Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam can now access paid music, movies and books.

AppleInsider readers noted on Tuesday that they were able to access the Apple iTunes store in both the Philippines and Singapore after it was suggested in a March report that the service was on the verge of being launched in a number of Asian countries.

read more

Singapore preps Electronics Virtual Career Fair

Singapore preps Electronics Virtual Career Fair

Singapore has announced its first-ever online recruitment fair for the country's electronics and semiconductor sector.

At this virtual fair, you will be able to meet and chat with the line managers and recruitment representatives from key electronics companies in Singapore, including Broadcom, Infineon, Intel, Lantiq and Micron.

"Electronics is the bedrock of Singapore’s manufacturing activities, contributing 30% to the nation’s manufacturing output," say the organisers. "We are looking out for top engineering talent to advance technology and innovation in Singapore, to better lives and to power energy efficiency."

read more

Howard Shaw Pleads Guilty in Singapore Underage Prostitute Case

Howard Shaw

Howard Shaw, left, leaves a courthouse where he was formally charged with having paid sex with a prostitute under 18 years old. Source: AFP/Getty Images

Howard Shaw, a member of the family that built an Asian movie production and real estate empire, pleaded guilty today in Singapore to having paid sex with an underage prostitute.

Shaw, 41, was among 48 charged involving a minor selling sex to men in Singapore in a scandal that has expanded to include a former bank executive and a school principal. Shaw was the executive director of the Singapore Environment Council, a non-profit organization.

“Mr. Shaw is not asking for any special treatment” given his family background, said his lawyer Harpreet Singh, who asked the judge to impose a fine instead of a prison term as he had made a “honest and reasonable mistake” in believing the girl was at least 18 at the time of the offence.

The incident happened on October 2010, when Shaw paid S$500 ($391) at a budget hotel at the edge of the city’s downtown. The offence for paid sex with someone under 18 carries a maximum seven-year jail term as well as a fine. While prostitution is legal in Singapore, soliciting for customers isn’t and offenders may be fined as much as S$2,000 or jailed for as long as six months, according to the city-state’s statutes.

read more

Singapore is 8th on the list of cities based on cost-of-living

Tokyo is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, pushing Luanda, Angola, down to second position, according to Mercer’s latest Cost of Living Survey.

Osaka is in third position, up three places from last year, whereas Moscow remains in fourth and Geneva in fifth positions. Singapore and Zurich share sixth place, up two and one places respectively since 2011. Ndjamena, Chad, drops five places, but Hong Kong retains its ninth place.

Karachi (214) is ranked as the world’s least expensive city for expatriates, less than one-third as expensive as Tokyo. Recent world events, including economic and political upheavals, have affected the rankings for many regions through currency fluctuations, inflation, and volatility in accommodation prices.

In the UK, London (25) is the most expensive city for expatriates, down seven places from last year. At 133, Birmingham is up 17 places, having overtaken Aberdeen (144) and Glasgow (161). Belfast (165) is the UK’s least expensive city, up 13 places in the ranking since 2011.

The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. The cost of housing is also included and, as it is often the biggest expense for expatriates, it plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked.

Mercer's cost-of-living survey is the world’s most comprehensive and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

read more

SingTel Boosts CEO Pay, Sees Potential in Mobile Advertising

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (ST)Chief Executive Officer Chua Sock Koong, who was paid S$4.9 million ($3.8 million) last year, said the mobile advertising industry holds “significant potential” for the company.

The phone operator, Southeast Asia’s biggest, paid Chua 9 percent more in the past year as its mobile subscription base jumped 10 percent to 445 million from 403 million with investments in markets including Australia and Indonesia, it said in its annual report. Mobile operators in both developed and emerging markets could use location data provided by customers to target the right ads, she said in the report.

“We are particularly excited about the potential of mobile marketing in emerging markets, where mobile phones offer advertisers the most compelling avenue to reach hundreds of millions of current and future customers,” Chua said, adding that the mobile advertising industry is in a “nascent stage.”


Would Paying Politicians More Attract Better Politicians?

 Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives at G20 Cannes

Whenever you look at a political system and find it wanting, one tempting thought is this: Maybe we have subpar politicians because the job simply isn’t attracting the right people. And, therefore, if we were to significantly raise politicians’ salaries, we would attract a better class of politician.

This is an unpopular argument for various reasons, in part because it would be the politicians themselves who have to lobby for higher salaries, and that isn’t politically feasible (especially in a poor economy). Can you imagine the headlines?

But the idea remains attractive, doesn’t it? The idea is that, by raising the salaries of elected and other government officials, you would a) signal the true importance of the job; b) attract a kind of competent person who might otherwise enter a more remunerative field; c) allow politicians to focus more on the task at hand rather than worry about their income; and d) make politicians less susceptible to the influence of moneyed interests.

Some countries already pay their government officials a lot of money — Singapore, for instance.

read more