Friday, 6 July 2012

Watz Buzzing - 6 Jul 2012

Idle President Tony Tan doing nothing about S'pore's US$4b loan to IMF

Isn't the President of Singapore supposed to guard our reserves? What the hell is he sitting on his butt watching the wayang show and not doing anything at all?

Here is Kenneth Jeya's letter to Chief of IMF, highlighting our US$4b (SG$5b) loan that was not approved by Parliament or the President.

An Open Letter to Christine Lagarde Managing Director of the IMF

I am the Secretary-General of the Reform Party in Singapore. I am also an economist with a double First Class Honors BA and an MA in Economics from Cambridge University. I have almost 30 years uninterrupted experience in the global finance industry in both Asia and the UK with an unblemished record of registration with the FSA. I am therefore writing to you as an economist, as an advocate for democracy and also as an ordinary Singaporean citizen.

I note your press release dated June 19 2012 at the conclusion of the G20 summit in Mexico. One of the countries you announce as having immediately pledged additional resources towards your goal of building a US$456 billion global firewall is Singapore with a commitment of US$4 billion. In your communiqué you give some of the credit for the successful outcome of the talks to our Finance Minister, Tharman Shanmuguretnam, in his role as Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee.


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Court application filed to quash S'pore's loan pledge to IMF

Court application filed to quash S'pore's loan pledge to IMF

Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, secretary-general of the Reform Party, has filed an application in the courts to annul the Singapore Government’s pledge of a US$4 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund. (IMF) The IMF announced the pledges from various countries, including Singapore’s, on 20 April.

Mr Jeyaretnam is seeking the Court's leave to make an application for a Prohibiting Order "prohibiting the Government and/or the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) from giving any loan and/or guarantee to the International Monetary Fund  unless such loan was made in accordance with the provisions of Article 144 of the Constitution."

He is also seeking the Court to grant leave to apply for a Quashing Order “quashing the Government and/or the MAS’ decision to make a US$4 billion loan commitment and/or guarantee to the IMF for contravening the provisions of Article 144 of the Constitution.”


You Ask Me I Ask Who?




Recently as you all know,  I have been playing Singapore’s favourite question game, “You Ask Me I Ask Who”.

The Finance Minister, the MAS , the President are all avid players.

Even the Stats Department turned out not to have the stats and went somewhere else. When they told me

“Dear Mr Jeyaretnam,
We would like to clarify that we were unable to provide you with data …as these are not available in our database. We have since checked from other data sources for the data series for 1980 to 1997.”

That changed the game to   “I asked you, you asked who?”  Seriously! The stats dept checked other data sources for our stats.
“You asked who? The CIA?”
But I suppose the President won this game when his office was snookered into responding to my second letter.
His secretary’s secretary literally replied, “You Ask Me I Ask Who”.
On Friday I wrote to the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde. Three working days later I received a phone call from her office assuring me that they had my letter and that it would be passed to Ms Lagarde. A written acknowledgement came shortly thereafter (see below). Nothing very exciting but this global institution has shown one lone Singaporean more respect than his own government has.  And a great deal more efficiency.

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OPINION: Unacceptable nearly 40% of population is made up of foreigners- Andrew Loh
Yahoo! News Singapore, 4 Jul 2012
Singaporeans, as filmmaker Martyn See said at the forum, have always welcomed foreigners. Singaporeans, as indeed people anywhere, were not born xenophobic. In our island, especially, which has always been opened to foreign influences, Singaporeans are by and large accepting of foreigners and things foreign. Just look around you — in entertainment, at work, etc. We have and enjoy pleasures from many different and diverse nations and cultures.

That is not to say, however, that there is no unhappiness about the number of foreigners in our midst, or that there is no fear of how this has influenced the way we live, work and play. It has affected our way of life, there are no doubts about it. Just look at the public transport system, the prices of public housing flats, the weekend at the parks, or even your neighbourhood.

It is unacceptable that almost 40 per cent of our population is made up of foreigners. No other country on earth, besides Dubai, has such a large proportion of foreigners. Is it then any surprise that this has led to fear of or expression of xenophobia? 

Instead of looking at the irrational outbursts of unhappiness in some quarters, we should instead look at the irrational policies which have given rise to them. How else will we root out such sentiments if not to look at the root cause? Full Story 

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Virgin Sex Education Teachers required (if single)

Abstinence-only-state

According to this news report, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will revise its sexuality education programme:
"There will be a core of at least 10 specially-selected teachers in each school to teach sexuality education and they must be comfortable teaching the subject and have rapport with students. More importantly, they must practise mainstream values that are aligned with MOE.
These include the family as a basic unit of society and abstinence as the best option to encourage youths to defer sex until marriage."
So the teachers who teach this course must practise abstinence before marriage too? Would the basic requirement be virginity? Eunuchs or married teachers only?

And how would the hiring manager know if the teacher meets the requirements? How would you check on the teacher's lifestyle? Look at their Facebook to see if they have many dates and if they attend wild parties? Hymen inspections? 

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$10 dollars carrot cake in proper perspective


Carrot cake or “Chye Tau Kuey”, subject of Minister Chan Chun Sing’s analogy

By now, most of the readers have heard of Minister Chan Chun Sing’s famous “$10 XO sauce chye tau kuey”(carrot cake) analogy. Chan compared the $10 dollar XO sauce carrot cake at Peach Garden to one that is charged $1.50 by a hawker centre.

Chan claims that one would be happy to part with $10 for a Peach Garden carrot cake because of service satisfaction and so on, whereas one would not want to eat the $1.50 carrot cake at a hawker centre if the quality is not good.

One may suspect Chan came up with that analogy to talk up his fellow ministerial colleagues that they are not in it for the money, but “to provide a better life” for the next generation. He qualified his statements stating that “Money should not be the one (factor) to attract them in.

On the other hand, money should also not be the bugbear to deter them.” With the carrot cake analogy, the implication is that our current cabinet of ministers seems to be providing a satisfactory level of service to the electorate, if one didn’t read Chan wrongly.

For a graduate in the discipline of economics from none other than Cambridge University to come up with this analogy, it is worthwhile pondering on its economic rationale and consider if it is even an appropriate analogy at all.

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Not My Own Money



Not too long ago, there was an outcry over the $1,200 Herman Miller chairs bought by Nanyang Technnological University (NTU). Then it surfaced that Khaw Boon Wan had ordered 150 sets of the Herman Miller Celle®  model for office use in National University Hospital when he was in charge.

Khaw said cheaper alternatives will not last as long - same reason offered by disgraced monk Ming Yi when asked in court why he bought Mont Blanc pens.

Now Khaw is defending the National Parks Board's (NParks) purchase of S$2,200 Brompton foldable bicycles as "a simple and effective way to raise staff productivity". The indefensible part has to do with his "clarification" that NParks "had no particular brand in mind" and "was open to considering all brands" (The NTU tender was written around Herman Miller specifications).

Quite obviously the NParks folks have never stepped into a Giant or Carrefour departmental store to check out the alternatives, which kind of explains the telling remark by Khaw: "NParks might have gotten a better deal if there was greater participation in this quotation".

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Tiger Airways charge passenger on wheelchair $500 "boarding fee"

A man in a wheelchair booking a Tiger Airways flight was told to pay a ‘boarding fee’ of $500, which was more expensive than the ticket itself according to a report by Lianhe Wanbao.

The man, known only as Colin, is paralysed from waist down. For a trip he had to make to Hanoi, Vietnam, last month, he chose to fly with Tiger Airways as it had the cheapest fare and the best flight schedule.

After Colin made payment for his ticket online, he called the airline hotline to enquire about wheelchair assistance. This was when he was told as he is unable to board the plane without special assistance; he has to pay a ‘boarding fee’ of $250 at both Singapore and Hanoi.

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How Big Should Singapore, Inc. Be?

In the last post, we demonstrated clearly that the while GIC and Temasek manage an impressive amount of financial assets, given the amount of borrowing and government surpluses the amounts under management are a lot less impressive.

Singaporean data indicates that operational surpluses and public borrowing from 1974 to 2011 totaled between $645-701 billion SGD.  Consequently, trumpeting that you now manage $705 billion SGD doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment.  So how much should GIC and Temasek manage given their stated rates of return of 7% USD and 17% SGD respectively?
  1. Temasek states on the website that they began operation with $374 million SGD in 1974.  Given their claimed 17% annualized rate of return since inception, this would come close but not actually produce their stated assets under management.
  2. From 1971 to 1973, the Singapore government ran operational surpluses of $337 million SGD.  From 1970 to 1973, the Singapore government ran operational surpluses of $418 million SGD.
  3. The only problem with these facts is that if Temasek began with $374 million SGD as it claims 1974 and earned 17% annually every year until 2011 when it managed $193 billion SGD, it would have had to either put in additional capital or earn 18.4%.
  4. $374 million SGD compounded at 17% annually from 1974 to 2011 would yield only $146 billion SGD rather than the $193 billion SGD.

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PinkDot 2012 – Where are those who preach Love?

I found it very touching to see the Humanist Society (who believe being good without god) supporting the Freedom to Love. At the same time, it’s so disappointing that there was not a single church (whose founder said “by this all men will know you are my disciples, that you love one another”).

Image

People who do not subscribe to a religion, or who do not believe in the divine/deities, often get stereotyped as immoral, materialistic people who have no reason to do good. Humanists (http://humanist.org.sg/) are people who do not subscribe to a religion, or who do not believe in the divine/deities, yet believe in being/doing good, simply for the sake of being good.

I believe in the Christian God. I love the parable the founder, Jesus Christ, told, when he summarized the essence of Christianity:

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Not Urban Legend! Swear! Singaporeans in Peril in Msia!

Don't look away or act blur. It's for real! M'sians have a penchant to screw Singaporeans. It's all to do with that "I can kick him around as he is just adik" thinking. Believe it, it happens, even if you are not a Singapore high commission (it's not "embassy" for those dumbasses who call it "embassy").

BTW, if you haven't realise it yet, that stunt about 3 MFA diplomats attending a Bersih protest, nothing bersih or clean about the political shit heaped around - elections time and BN wanted to pull out the nationalist and race card to distract Msian voters with tried and tested Singapore-bashing, with threats to cut water supply thrown in again. Yeah right.

Eh, how average Singaporeans can be screwed? It's all in the drive up north. Carjacks are the big slam, at least the victims this time were not hurt, raped, killed, kidnapped or sold off not necessarily in that order. Frankly, don't matter if you are Singaporean Ah Beng, Mat or Ah Neh, once they see Singapore car plate it means free-for-all for them to victimise you and me.

Do you hear of M'sian cars being singled out for crime along PIE or any other Singapore roads?  I don't. If you want to go M'sia, sure go ahead, fly up direct to KL or Penang, and drive up in convoy with baseball bats placed next to the umbrella at the back of the car. For every 10 incident-free trips up you hear one suay case of someone getting screwed. Just be prepared and hope that you are not that unlucky one.

Kidnapped S'porean family now safely back home

Updated 08:04 PM Jul 01, 2012SINGAPORE - A Singaporean family is now safely back home after a harrowing experience early this morning in Johor Bahru.

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COI findings reveal gross neglect by SMRT

The Committee of Inquiry (COI) assigned to investigate the two serious train disruptions on the North-South MRT line last December has revealed its sober findings, which point to gross negligence on the part of SMRT.

In its report which was made public on Wednesday, the COI cited severe deficiencies in SMRT’s maintenance regime.

Furthermore, the COI was of the opinion that the major train disruptions could have been prevented had SMRT done its job right.

The first disruption on 15 Dec 2011 was triggered by a defective fastener that was part of the third rail assembly, which caused the claw supporting the third rail to dislodge and the rail to sag beyond its tolerance limit. This in turn caused the collector shoes on the trains to became damaged, resulting in loss of power.

Over time, more claws became dislodged, and sections of rail collapsed onto the tracks. It was also found that various insulators were defective, and the bolts on collector shoes had been over-tightened

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Bertha Henson: A smarting SMRT



SMRT got whacked by the COI over the train disruptions. The way the COI went at it during the hearings, it was clear the panel thought very little of the checks SMRT made and its emergency preparedness.

What’s surprising is the SMRT response to the report which have been variously reported as “harsh”, “mincing no words” etc. It defended its maintenance system, and talked about how it matched up to other standards.

Of course, it said, it could have done more. Hmm…so is it accepting the report or not? Or is that taken as a given?
What is also surprising is that the LTA was taken to task in a gentle manner.

Today newspaper had this point as well: National University of Singapore (NUS) transport expert Lee Der Horng felt that the COI could have gone further in examining the LTA’s role.

Noting that the “whole report has one purpose – to assure us that the system is safe and reliable”, Associate Professor Lee said: “The incident was preventable but was not prevented. It is disappointing that SMRT did nothing, things that were supposed to be checked were not checked.”

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RIP – CID Officer Leong Shee Chun



Every time, I read an article that someone has taken his or her life, my heart cries a little. Yesterday another Singaporean, this time a CID officer shot himself in the head. I ask myself has things really turned that bad that there is absolutely no turning back at all?

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and of course my parents do not know any PAP or rich people. I had my fair share of ups and downs, and probably more downs than ups. Maybe because I have always seemed to see a silver lining in the clouds, I have never thought that suicide is the ONLY way out.

Seven Singaporeans have walked into Bedok Reservoir since the opening of casinos. It’s really a double whammy for us because not only are we losing our hard-earned money to the casinos, they do not even support the employment of locals! Every table you go, it’s either a Chinese or a Pinoy! Personally if you ask me, we have to draw the line

Somewhere. If the company is in a declining or twilight industry, then by all means employ some foreigners. Because if these companies don’t keep costs low, then they may go bankrupt and those locals working there will lose their jobs!
However, companies like banks or casinos must NEVER be allowed to employ a single foreigner at all!!

These companies are not losing money, they are just competing on how to make MORE money!! More importantly, it is not millions of dollars that they make, it’s BILLIONS of dollars!! Unless they are taxed more at the corporate level (which is not happening now) we should not help these companies to keep costs low!!

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One third of male PRs renounce their PR status to avoid NS



In a media interview ahead of SAF Day (1 Jul), Minister Ng Eng Hen reiterated again that new citizens and second-generation PRs must serve National Service (NS).

Second-generation PRs who choose not to serve NS will have to renounce their PR status so as to avoid infringing the law.

Dr Ng said, “Better don’t take up the PR if your children are not going to do NS. It’s as simple as that. In our system if you don’t fulfil your NS liabilities, even if you choose to give up your PR, there are harsh penalties.”

“The basic message to permanent residents is this: If you want to take up permanent residency for your children, please do so recognizing that they have to do NS as a duty and there will be a course if you don’t. So, it’s better not to take up PR if your children are not going to do NS.”

Over the last five years, about a third of male foreigners who became PRs under the sponsorship of their parents renounced their PR status prior to serving NS.

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Stay at home dad – are we ready?



I saw Jeffrey again this week and never failed to recognise the lethargy displayed on his face.
I always thought that he is older than me slightly and was shocked to realise that our birthday is only a few days apart when we exchanged information on our age…

Having only worked for around ten months in a 5-year period it is not difficult to visualise how prolonged unemployment has played tricks on both the mind and body.

The person who is working tend to be quicker in his walking pace and seems assured of himself.

I wanted to see him earlier but he has changed the appointment - anyway its always good to be able to see your clients again – hopefully in happier circumstances.

My kind of work is tricky as you don’t want to see your customers twice – it means that the person is still not working. Nevertheless, I always try to keep tabs on those who are difficult to be rehired i.e who are above 50 years old and with little transferable skills.

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Khaw Boon Wan defends designer chairs for MOM, branded bikes for NParks. Ferrari for LTA next?

Minister for National Development, Khaw Boon Wan, has stated via his blog that he supports the National Parks (NParks) Board's decision to purchase Brompton foldable bikes for its staff.

Some Singaporeans have questioned why the purchase for the 26 bicycles for NParks officers to use on patrols. - each costing $2,200 – was approved.

Mr Khaw wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that he had asked NParks for the rationale for the purchase. He said NParks cited staff productivity as the main reason for the purchase: "Providing staff with bikes was thought to be a simple and effective way to raise staff productivity as it enables the officer to cover more ground and do more inspections within the same time." Full story

Asia One, 28 Mar 2011
A CHAIR is not as simple as it looks. Take the Herman Miller chairs, renowned for their ergonomic design.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan ordered these chairs as well as office systems when he was chief executive officer at the National University Hospital (NUH) some 25 years ago.

Replying to The New Paper's questions on the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) decision to buy 472 Herman Miller Celle chairs for its staff, Mr Khaw said that one has to look at the lifetime cost of the chairs to see if they are worth it or not. Full story

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Government policies are the root cause, xenophobia is merely the symptom

At a recent forum on xenophobia attended by Zaqy Mohamad, Member of Parliament (MP) for Choa Chu Kang GRC, panelists expressed concern that Singapore might be turning into a xenophobic society.

“To me, I don’t think xenophobia itself is a problem in Singapore; the problem is that we might be heading in that direction,” said one of the panelists, Andrew Loh, editor of publichouse.sg.

Another panelist, Ravi Philemon, former editor of The Online Citizen, said: “My fear is that unless we start talking about these issues and unless we have a real dialogue, there’s a real danger that we may go in that direction.”

Attempts by the forum to define “xenophobia” included descriptions such as an “irrational dislike” or “unreasonable hatred of foreigners”.

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