Friday, 7 September 2012

Watz Buzzing - 7 Sep 2012

Qantas drops Singapore for Dubai hub

Yahoo! News Singapore, 6 Sep 2012
Struggling Australian carrier Qantas on Thursday announced a major global alliance with Emirates that will see its hub for European flights shift to Dubai from Singapore in a bid to stem losses.

Under the deal, Qantas will fly daily A380 services from both Sydney and Melbourne to London via Dubai, meaning that between the two airlines there will be 98 weekly services between Australia and the Emirates hub.

As a consequence, Qantas flights to Singapore and Hong Kong will terminate in those countries and be rescheduled to enable more same-day connections across Asia. Full story

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PM Lee: Singapore wants to see China and other ASEAN countries manage their territorial disputes in a responsible manner

Big News Network, 7 Sep 2012
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong giving a speech at the Central Party School in Beijing on Sept 6, 2012. Singapore may not be a claimant country in the South China Sea issue, but it does have critical interests at stake and wants to see the disputes managed responsibly and peacefully, said PM Lee. Link
China's future president Xi Jinping cancelled meetings with Clinton and PM Lee after issues of terrritorial disputes were raised

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The enlightenment of Tharman

Front page ST material. Tharman says, ‘Inclusive growth needs govt hand…Market forces will only widen S’pore’s wealth gap.’ Many of his colleagues could not see this. And it is refreshing and promising to see Tharman finally came to this realization, that market forces can not be counted on to take care of the people across the board. I hope this light of wisdom will spread to his equally brilliant and well meaning peers so that they can now find the answers to serving the people at the lower end of the economic strata, to tilt in favour of those with less.

Singapore’s social compact cannot be left to market forces because these will only widen disparities in wealth and income.’ Tharman added. Obviously they could not see anything like this in Lim Chong Yah’s shock therapy which is exactly about tilting in favour of those with less.

Maybe Tharman could impress among them that what Lim Chong Yah said made sense. Let the light of his enlightenment embraces those that are a bit duller or a bit dense, and viola, the govt will bless the people with more people centric policies.

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DPM Tharman: Avoid polarisation in politics in Singapore

At a forum held at NTU yesterday (5 Sep), which was attended by 750 students and lecturers, DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Singapore must try to avoid becoming polarised in politics.

During the Q&A session, Mr Tharman was asked, “In view of the changing political atmosphere… how do you get people to stand behind unpopular but prudent policies; preventing Singaporeans from pandering to more populist but unwise policies?”

Mr Tharman replied, “First let me say that it will get more difficult… not just in terms of people backing policies but keeping the social compact and a political compact. One of the key things we’ve tried to avoid is the polarisation in politics that we now see in a whole range of more mature societies.”

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Tharman gets it

Excellent Tharman, finally someone senior in government who gets it. He is a very quotable guy, so let's hear him directly. 

"the lesson we are learning in the world is that inclusive growth does not come naturally". "Growth itself does not lift all boats, and certainly does not lift all boats equally."

 He offered four components:

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A Flawed Argument

Since getting into the Singapore government, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has managed to put his foot in his mouth a few times. In a way it is understandable. The man is basically a technocrat turned politician.

In another example of why some technocrats should not be politicians, the DPM has managed to do so again. Speaking at a forum at Nanyang Technological University in front of 750 university students and lecturers, the DPM argued that the Singapore government need to be involved in the running of the economy as it is needed to ensure the economic benefits goes down to all sectors of the Singapore population.

There’s only one problem with that excellent theory; Reality! 

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Reflections on Press Freedom in Singapore 

PERSPECTIVES ON PRESS FREEDOM, a talk on international and local perspectives on press freedom, was held at the Singapore Management University on 3 September 2012. It featured Dr David Goldberg, Senior Honorary Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Computers and Communications Law, Queen Mary College, University of London; and Dr Cherian George, Associate Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University. The session was chaired by Dr Jack Tsen-Ta Lee from the SMU School of Law.

Listening to the presentations by the three speakers, what stood out for me personally was Singapore’s unique state of media regulation. The traditional mainstream media is regulated under the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act (Cap 206, 2002 Rev Ed) (‘NPPA’) and the Broadcasting Act (Cap 28, 2012 Rev Ed). Under the NPPA, a newspaper publisher has to apply for a licence, which must be renewed annually and can be revoked at any time. Also, no newspaper can be published in Singapore except by a public company, and no individual can control 12% or more of a newspaper company without Government approval. In addition, with the two classes of shares the NPPA provides for, the Government effectively decides who gets a greater say in deciding a newspaper company’s directors and members of its staff. The NPPA also prohibits foreign ownership of a Singapore newspaper company.

The aggregate effect of this is that newspapers are left in the hands of commercial owners. The Government arguably does not directly intervene in the operations of newspaper companies in Singapore. Nonetheless, in light of the licensing requirements, and the fact that profitability is the main goal of a newspaper company, what results is a more-or-less ‘compliant’ press. This was detailed by Dr George in Chapter 2 of his latest book, Freedom from the Press (2012).

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Yale-NUS detractors paper campus with fliers

Anonymous Yale-NUS detractors struck campus this weekend, posting fliers that lambaste Yale-NUS as "undemocratic" and "indefensible."

"Yale-NUS is first and foremost a business venture by the plutocrats who manage [Yale's] endowment," the flier reads, referring to the Yale Corporation, the University's highest governing body.

"Their readiness to unabashedly dismiss concerns for basic rights in the face of potential profit shows the priorities of the university are: decidedly NOT with the students, teachers, and workers they are leaving without a voice." Full story

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Check out these ugly charts about Singapore's manufacturing sector

Manufacturers in limbo to keep production stable.

Manufacturing output, as measured by the monthly PMI, fell another 0.7 pt (-0.6 pt in July) to 49.1 last month, lower than market consensus of 49.5.

A mild expansion in output, +0.5 pt to 50.3, was offset by lower overall orders (-1.5 pts), inventory (-1 pt), imports (-1.4 pts) and employment (-1.4 pts).

Nomura Research points that if there is any silver lining, it is that new export orders rose 0.2 pt (-0.9 pt in Jul) to 50.4 and backlog orders jumped 3 pts to 51.5, the first expansion in over a year. Furthermore, Nomura said that despite stronger production amid weaker orders, finished goods inventories did not rise, dipping another 1.2 pts instead. The latter may drive stronger output in Sep.

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Do you really believe M Ravi's lawyer or did he just chicken out?

What the heck is happening? M Ravi's lawyer wants to discharge himself because there's a conflict of interest? Hey, what's with this guy? As if the "conflict of interest" didn't exist at the time when he agreed to represent Ravi. So what's with this U turn? Chickened out?

M Ravi's lawyer discharges himself due to "potential conflict of interest"

So who's gonna represent M Ravi now?

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Pampering The New Arrivals

The Singapore Action Group of Elders (SAGE) organisation that pioneered the concepts of active aging, which was founded by former parliamentary secretary for social affars Chan Chee Seng, closed its gates permanently two months ago. It's activities, like matching services for the elderly, free health screenings, educational talks on road safety and first aid, took a fatal toll on its finances. A spokesman for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) said the Institutions of a Public Character (IPC) status for SAGE was withdrawn because it faced "recurrent deficits".

If MCYS did not allow donations for SAGE to be tax deductible, how could the organisation ever hope to raise funds to clear it's debts? Duh. Retiree Koh sighed, "I am bitterly disappointed. The Government should have stepped in to help the ailing organisation." The Government who would probably ask, "Where is the money coming from?"

The same question was not asked when $8.6 million was spent to create a fancy climate controlled home for two pandas from China.  Kai Kai , 5, and Jia Jia, 4, not exactly elderly citizens, are flying in from the Ya'an panda base in a specially fitted Singapore Airlines 747. The giant 1,500 square metres complex at Safari River will be scrupulously maintained at 18 to 22 degrees Celsius around the clock. To simulate their original natural habitat, lush live plants, boulders and water features, waterfalls with shallow pools, climbing structures and enrichment features are constructed so the pandas can rest, explore, climb and swim. The foreigners will also create new jobs, but their special keepers will be sourced from China. 

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Feng Tianwei’s bronze reward 5 times more than Paralympian’s

From ‘Why the big disparity in cash rewards?’, 5 Sept 2012, ST Forum
(Shanta Danielle Arul):…It saddens me to hear that while both (Laurentia) Tan and paddler Feng Tianwei won individual bronze medals at competitions of the highest sporting level, Feng was awarded a $250,000 cash prize while Tan got only $50,000.
During the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008, when swimmer Yip Pin Xiu won a gold medal for Singapore in the 50m backstroke, she was first awarded $100,000 – a tenth of the $1 million an Olympic gold medal would have earned. This was later doubled to $200,000.
Why should there be such a disparity in rewards for these athletes?
We yearn for Singaporeans to do us proud on the international stage, and champions like Tan give us that source of pride. Yet, it seems some wins are viewed as more worthy than others.
In 2008, our Olympian paddlers got $750, ooo for their silver showing in the team event, a win which overshadowed the GOLD AND SILVER won by Pin Xiu in the Paralympics, not just in terms of dollars and cents but the amount of media attention, just like how it is today where the Paralympics is treated like the 1 minute extra-credits scene at the end of a blockbuster movie. I personally never watched a minute of Paralympic footage, and I wonder if those who complain about award discrepancy have done so themselves.

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Role of the government

Recently there has been many articles about the government's way of doing things, and what they should or should not be doing. I quote Abraham Lincoln:
The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not so well do, for themselves.
I believe what he said simplify what the government should or should not do. They are elected so that they are able to listen to our problems and attempt to find a solution to it. They are able to do more than us because they are in essence more "powerful" than us. Using the example of a fund manager vs a retail investor. The fund manager is able to aggregate funds from all the investors to invest in products that require a higher capital, something that a retail investor might not be able to do. The government acts the same way.

Previously, there is a lot of discontent because the government seem to not attempt to find a solution to our problems.

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Dear Mr President, Are You Joking? 

"A busy and fulfilling first year as President" wrote Tessa Wong of Sunday Times of September 2, 2012. "Asked about the highlights of his year in office, Dr Tan named 2 in particular. The most exciting one was cheering the Singapore athletes at the London Olympic Games in London, he said. Another was when he was inducted into the Honourary Senate of the Foundation Lindau NobelPriceWinners Meetings in July"

Bilmey, we pay him millions in salary and these are the highlights of his work for the past year?

I guess he must be kiddin' when 'he said he will do his part in helping the government steer Singapore through these "volatile economic waters", stressing that a strong economy was needed to make sure that the country had the means to help the less fortunate'.

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