Friday, 22 June 2012

Watz Online - 22 Jun 2012

S'pore Foreign Ministry suspends senior official over 'improper claims'
A high-ranking foreign ministry official has been suspended over allegations that he had filed improper expense claims for visits overseas.
Lim Cheng Hoe, Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was suspended on Tuesday and is being investigated by the police.
MFA has referred his case to the Commercial Affairs Department.
The Straits Times reported that Lim has not been arrested, and that Michael Tan Keng Siong is currently acting chief of protocol at MFA.
An MFA spokesman said in a statement to Yahoo! Singapore that the ministry had received information that he had made “improper claims for reimbursements” and were taking “all allegations of improper conduct seriously.”
Chinese vice president calls on closer China-Singapore military exchanges

BEIJING, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Vice President Xi Jinping met with Singaporean Minister for Defense Ng Eng Hen in Beijing on Thursday, calling on enhanced military links between both countries.

Xi hailed the achievements of China-Singapore ties since the forging of diplomatic ties, citing strengthened political trust, frequent exchange of visits between state leaders and expanded cooperation in various fields.

"The Chinese government attaches great importance to developing cooperative ties with Singapore in diversified areas and among different levels," said the vice president.

Citing the complicated global situation, Xi called on both countries to cement contacts and cooperation, and keep timely exchanges of views on major global and regional issues, to boost closer ties between the two countries and armed forces.

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Singapore and her millionaires – does it matter?

The number of “High Net Worth Individuals” – someone with over US$1 million at his or her disposal to be used for investment purposes – in Singapore has declined by 7.8 per cent in 2011 following a drop in exports, says the 16th Annual World Wealth Report by Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management.

However, a separate Global Wealth 2012 report by the Boston Consulting Group found that the number of millionaire households in Singapore has increased from 165,000 to 188,000 in 2011, putting Singapore in the top spot as the country with the highest proportion of millionaire households (17 in every 100 households).

A tiny, prosperous island nation at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore’s pro-business model, proximity to growing Asian markets and reputation for safety and efficiency has attracted many multi-national companies and expat entrepreneurs.

On top of local success stories like Sim Wong Hoo, Singapore is home to a number of high profile immigrant millionaires such as New Zealand businessman Richard Chandler, US financier Jim Rogers and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Earlier this month it was reported that Australian coal mining tycoon Nathan Tinkler will also be relocating to the city-state, so as to pursue interests in Asia.

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Singapore overtakes Hong Kong as home to Asia's wealthy

Singapore overtook Hong Kong as home to Asia's wealthy last year as declining stock markets hit the former British territory a lot harder than its Southeast Asian rival, according to Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management.

Hong Kong, whose stock market capitalization slumped 16.7 percent last year, saw a sharper drop in the ranks of people with more than $1 million to invest as a larger proportion of that wealth was locked in equity.

Southeast Asia also shows stronger signs of resilience to global turbulence than the rest of Asia as buoyant domestic spending offsets struggling exports.

The number of high-net-worth individuals in Hong Kong fell 17.4 percent to 83,600 last year, compared with a decline of 7.8 percent to 91,200 people in Singapore, RBC Wealth's head of emerging markets Barend Janssens told reporters in Singapore on Wednesday.

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Singapore: playground of the super-rich

The world economy may be on a downward slide, but Singapore – a tropical city-state smaller than the Isle of Wight – is exuberantly reinventing itself. Michael Simkins joins the party
Singapore: playground of the super-rich
"Oh, Marmiteland,” said a friend when I announced I was going to Singapore. “You’ll either love it or hate it. It’s really just a huge shopping mall with an airport attached.” Her remark was fairly typical of many who have not visited the tiny tropical city-state in the past five years or so.

They still tend to dismiss it as just a safe, clean place for shoppers, a retail utopia where litter louts are arrested and chewing gum is banned. It is, they say, the Far East without the rough edges: perfect for a one-night stopover, and just as soon forgotten.

Yet Singapore is booming – and the new-found energy of the place is palpable everywhere, as is its conspicuous wealth. Despite being geographically smaller than the Isle of Wight, Singapore has more millionaires per capita of its five million population than anywhere else on the planet.

The World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Report places Singapore second only to Switzerland, based largely on an entrepôt trade in which raw materials are imported, then refined for re-export. Despite having no oil, for instance, Singapore operates the third-largest oil refinery in the world.

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Temasek Sees Smaller Industry Returns

Temasek Holdings Pte, Singapore’s state-owned investment company, expects smaller returns for the asset management industry on anticipation the outlook will be difficult for years, said Gregory Curl, president and head of the Americas.

Investment returns will be lower compared with historical gains, Curl, 63, said at an industry conference in Hong Kong. The U.S. represents considerable risks, he added. Temasek managed S$193 billion ($152 billion) as of March 2011.

Temasek said June 11 the turmoil in Europe may result in a market slump rivaling the 2008 global financial crisis, creating opportunities for the company to make deals. The MSCI World Index (MXWO) tumbled 9 percent in May, its worst monthly performance in two years, as Europe’s debt crisis intensified, the U.S. recovery showed signs of losing steam and China’s growth slowed.

“We’re interested in sustainable returns over what we believe is going to be a very difficult and volatile environment for a number of years globally,” Curl said. “Going forward, we would expect that returns will be between one-half and two- thirds of what they have been historically,” referring to the returns for asset managers.

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GIC may buy stake in Pipavav Defence

Government of Singapore Investment Corporation(GIC), Singapore's sovereign fund, is said to be in talks to buy 2.5% in Nikhil Gandhi-promoted Pipavav Defence. Pipavav officials confirmed the company is in talks with GIC to sell the stake. At Tuesday's closing price of Rs 83.35, GIC will pay about Rs 143 crore for the 2.5% stake in the company.

Pipavav Defence, formerly Pipavav Shipyard, had in May sought shareholders' nod to raise up to $200 million (about Rs 1,100 crore) to finance its growth plans for the defence sector. GIC's plan to buy the stake comes on the heels of the company receiving an approval from the defence ministry to partner the country's biggest defence shipyard, Mazagon Dock, to jointly build vessels for the Indian navy.

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American investment guru sues dentist

AN AMERICAN billionaire, a permanent resident here, is suing his dentist over a treatment that has left little for either party to smile about.

Investment guru Jim Rogers, 69, wants a reimbursement of the $48,150 he spent on ceramic enhancements to his teeth recommended by Dr Ernest Rex Tan of Smile Inc Dental - and compensation on top of that.

It is unclear how much compensation is being sought, but Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao reported yesterday that the case is to be heard in the High Court, where only claims above $250,000 are dealt with.

Dr Tan, 43, is fighting back, and counter-claiming for defamation.

Zaobao reported court documents as saying that Mr Rogers is accusing Dr Tan and his practice of negligence for recommending partial-coverage ceramic restoration that turned out to be unsuitable for his teeth.

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US trying to turn Iran nuclear case into crisis: Chinese expert
Representatives of the P5+1 group of six world powers and the Iranian negotiating team attend a meeting in the Russian capital, Moscow, June 18, 2012.
Representatives of the P5+1 group of six world powers and the Iranian negotiating team attend a meeting in the Russian capital, Moscow, June 18, 2012.

A Chinese expert of the Middle East affairs says the United States is trying to give global dimensions to the Iranian nuclear energy program and turn the issue into a crisis.

Blaming Washington for a lack of agreement in the Moscow talks, the expert said there is no surprise that no deal was reached in Moscow on the Iranian nuclear issue, because the United States does not want to find a solution to it at all, wrote Ma Xiaolin in an article published by Chinese media on June 20 following the Moscow talks, IRNA reported.

The latest round of multifaceted talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) was held in the Russian capital on June 18 and 19.

Iran’s nuclear energy program topped the agenda of the negotiations, in which Tehran insisted the P5+1 must recognize the Iranian right to enrich uranium and lift unilateral sanctions against the country.

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Bus driver cleared over death of Cambridge University student
Mingwei Tan

The jury in the trial of a bus driver accused of killing a Cambridge University medical student and dragging her body under his vehicle for more than half a mile has been discharged.

Shahriar Firouzian, 52, was charged with causing the death of Mingwei Tan by careless driving.

Blackfriars Crown Court in south London was told today there was no realistic prospect of a conviction and a verdict of not guilty was formally entered by Judge John Hillen.

Miss Tan, 20, was hit by a night bus as she crossed the road in Hampstead, north London, in the early hours of September 30, 2010.

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Singapore, Hong Kong GDP face greatest risk from euro crisis: economist

Being aware of the risk doesn’t necessarily mitigate the impact. Nor guarantee an escape.

Asian economies were hit hard by Lehman Brothers’ sudden collapse, which not many saw coming. And they have bounced back from the global crisis unleashed by that event.

In contrast, the euro-zone crisis has been playing out in slow motion for three years now. But a bad outcome for the region’s crisis could still deliver a hard blow, from which recovery will be slower, Credit Suisse economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde wrote in a report Wednesday.

Wandesforde estimates that Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan – the region’s most open or export-dependent economies – are likely to take the biggest economic hit in either of the two scenarios the research brokerage has considered:

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Europe, China worries dampen Asia business sentiment in second quarter: survey

Asia's top companies are less upbeat on their business outlook than in the first quarter, with mounting concern over the euro zone crisis and a slowdown in China's growth, according to the latest Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment Survey, published on Wednesday.

The Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment Index (RACSI) slid to 69 in June from 74 in March, when it saw a dramatic 14-point jump from the December survey. A reading above 50 indicates an overall positive outlook.

"It's obvious there are a few macro headwinds," said James Koh, analyst at Maybank Kim Eng in Singapore.

"Companies are understandably a little worried. On one hand, you have the Greek fall-out and, on the other hand, we have already seen a mild deceleration of growth in China."

Of the record 177 Asian companies polled, 78 said their business outlook for the next six months was positive, while 87 said it was neutral, and 12 were negative. The poll was conducted by Thomson Reuters in association with INSEAD, a global management and business school in Singapore and France, between June 4-15.

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Man robs NSF of rifle with a screwdriver

Armed with a screwdriver, a man robbed a full-time national serviceman (NSF) of his assault rifle, reported asiaone.

Mohammad Ridzuan Jamari, 30, was reportedly accused of armed robbery of a SAR-21 assault rifle from NSF Kang Tai at the standard obstacle course in Pasir Laba Camp last month.

The accused, a civilian contractor working at the camp in Upper Jurong, was said to be holding a 20cm-long screwdriver when he stole the rifle from Kang.

According to local reports, he was arrested by a few people on site and the rifle was not removed from the camp.

Jamari was charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon. If convicted, he can be jailed up to 10 years and caned six strokes.

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