Saturday, December 01, 2012

Drivers' Strike Crushed, Authoritarian Order Restored

Just hot off the press:
5th bus driver to be charged, 29 repatriated
Updated 04:54 PM Dec 01, 2012
by Amir Hussain 
SINGAPORE - A fifth SMRT bus driver will be charged in Court on Monday for his involvement in this week's illegal strike, while 29 others will have their work permits revoked and be repatriated.
The rest involved will be issued warnings by the Police, but no further action will be taken against them and they will be allowed to remain and work in Singapore, as long as they abide by the law.
The Government announced this as it revealed this afternoon that the Police had completed their investigations into the illegal strike by SMRT bus drivers on Monday and Tuesday.
Four drivers were charged in court on Thursday for conspiracy to instigate others to take part in the illegal strike. A fifth person was served with a summons today under section 9(1) of the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, which relates to commencing, continuing, or acting in furtherance of an illegal strike.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Singaporean Men are Pathetic

I can't believe that this article has appeared in the news:
"A young Singapore man has appealed publicly to Minister in Prime Minister Office Grace Fu during a townhall meeting recently to stop foreign men from ‘stealing’ Singaporean women from local men. 
During the Q&A session, he complained that Singapore men are losing out in the race to the altar because local women are increasingly favoring foreign men 
His complaint drew a round of laughter from the audience, but he silenced them with a glaring look: 
“I think we shouldn’t laugh. It is an important problem and we need to solve it,” he thundered. 
He added that foreign men tend to enjoy higher pay and better perks which give them an unfair advantage in the competition for Singaporean women’s heart."
Singaporean men are so pathetic. They cry to the PAP Gahmen about everything. Complain about foreigners taking away jobs, and now complain to the Gahmen about foreigners taking away girls.

And then in an act of what can only be described as pussy neurotic masochism, they keep on voting for this Gahmen who keep on screwing them over by bringing foreigners to the country.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Negative Calculus of Foreign Talent

Shocking Fact: Only 1.7% of foreigners working in Singapore pay taxes.

The rest of the 98.3% are here freeloading off our economic infrastructure to earn a living without contributing a cent to the public purse.

These freeloaders are leeching off our transportation, healthcare, housing, education and national defence. Not only are they not paying a cent in taxes, they are the cause of massive negative externalities the economy and society.

The overloading of the transportation system is causing it to break down with alarming regularity, disrupting economic activity and being a drag on productivity.

The overloading of the housing system is causing living space to be more expensive, smaller and to be built in poorer locations than before.

Hospital queues and waiting times are longer, medical wards are packed, doctors are more stressed out, and healthcare costs are skyrocketing.

Foreign scholars are the worst in the negative calculus. They cost $175,000 a pop to subsidise their education. On top of that they deny locals a place in university. The taxes they pay after graduation hardly come close to paying for their education, and many of them leave for greener pastures at the first whiff of a better opportunity.

And don't even get me started about the cost of national defence. The personal cost ot each Singaporean male to defend this country can't even come close to the so-called benefits generated by foreign talent.

So tell me, how is this madness of an immigration policy justified, given that it scores a big fat F when you put the sums together?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In Defence of 'Xenophobia'

Much has been made about Singapore's growing aversion to the foreigners. Many PAP politicians have been quoted 'warning' Singaporeans against xenophobia, and various bloggers are writing about how Singaporeans are getting unreasonable in their attitudes towards foreigners.

But hold on a minute, are Singaporeans really xenophobic? Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange." Let's examine the behaviour of foreigners in Singapore and ask ourselves if there is reason to be fearful of foreigners.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Singapore in 2050 - A Chinese Protectorate

This coming August, Singapore will celebrate 47 years as a nation state. Many of us take for granted Singapore's autonomy as a sovereign nation. But in this post, I explain why I think that in 47 years time, there is a very significant probability that Singapore will no longer be an autonomous territory.

The last 15 years of economic and social mismanagement by the PAP Government have set the foundations for our eventual decline, and given the PAP's continued stranglehold over parliament and public policy, I fear that the necessary actions to arrest the dangerous prospects facing our society will not be implemented quickly or effectively enough.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Make Community Service Compulsory For All Foreign Scholars

I refer to the article "NUS scholar fined S$3,000, gets 3 months community service" and applaud the disciplinary action taken by university provost Tan Eng Chye against the improper and insensitive behaviour of Sun Xu. In particular, I applaud the community service 'punishment' and would like to make a suggestion that all foreign scholars be required to complete compulsory community service as a prerequisite to graduation.

Compulsory community service ensures that these foreign students invest time and effort into the Singaporean community which spends millions of dollars to fund their education. It also ensures that they learn more about Singaporean culture and helps to integrate them into Singapore society.

Most importantly, it sends a clear moral message to students that academic achievement is meaningless if it is not accompanied by cultural sensitivity and a sense of social responsibility. It is time for us to require a substantial social return on our investment in foreign talent, rather than just contribution to GDP.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Good Job, Singapore Democratic Party

I have only just found the time to peruse the SDP's healthcare plan and while I do not necessarily agree with everything the SDP has to say, I must commend the SDP for gathering a team of experienced healthcare professionals, policy academics and other concerned Singaporeans to put together a credible proposal for the future of healthcare in Singapore.

It is indeed heartening to know that there are capable, qualified and experienced Singaporeans who are genuinely concerned about the future of this country and the direction in which it is headed. I am sure that in order to put together the proposal many hours of time and effort on the part of each of the SDP's healthcare panelists was required to put together this groundbreaking project.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Undergrad Girl Turned Stripper - A Case of Misguided Parenting

A sensational piece of news has been circulating on the internet about a 22 undergrad Singaporean girl who became an online stipper to satiate her appetite for attention.
S'porean girl becomes online stripper, 19 Mar 2012

...She had begun uploading ordinary photos of herself onto the Internet and to her surprise, garnered many praises for her good looks.

Netizens would leave messages for her, like, "You're so pretty, you must have a great figure too. Why not show it off?"

With the encouragement, she began to get bolder and started sharing sexy and revealing photos of herself.

Addicted to the praises and the attention, she took it a step further and began to strip and upload pornographic videos of herself on the internet.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PAP Finally Comes to its Senses

After 15 years of madness, the PAP has finally come to its senses.

Ever since the 1997 National Day Rally speech when Goh Chok Tong announced the PAP shift in economic policy to open Singapore's doors to foreign talent, the PAP has gone on an ideological and public relations offensive to market and defend the foreign talent policy. At all levels, the policy was dogmatically defended - from the PAP parliamentary backbenchers, right up to the Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew himself.

The policy has literally wreaked havoc on this country.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Irrational Exuberance in the Singapore Property Market

Once upon a time in singapore, $800,000 would buy you a nice 1,200 sq ft condo in a decent location with full condo facilities. If you lived in one of these apartments, you would have been considered a relatively rich person and would have obtained one of the key achievements in the Singapore dream.

Fast forward to the present, however, and things are completely different. Today, the same $800,000 gets you only half the amount of space you would have gotten 10 years ago.
3-bedroom condo unit smaller than a squash court

Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012, Asia0ne

A new condominium in Bukit Batok is one of the smallest 3-bedroom unit to be built in singapore.

Measuring just 635 sq ft, the unit at Natura at Hillview Terrace is smaller than a squash court and slightly bigger than five HDB carpark spaces, reported The Straits Times.

A typical three-bedroom apartment is between 1,000 and 1,500 sq ft, said real estate consultants, and it is unheard of for a mass market project here to have three-bedroom units of such a compact size.

... Another company's projects, Treescape in Telok Kurau, also features micro three-bedders which start from 603 sq ft.

According to The straits Times, all 32 units have been sold since the project was launch, of which 25 units were sold last month at a median price of $1,401 per sq ft.

... Mr Tan Kok Keong from orangeTee's head of research and consultancy used Hong Kong as an example on whether such units will be well-received by the public.

He told The straits Times: "If you use Hong Kong as an example, yes it's liveable, but whether it's the kind of quality of life that people can get used to is something we actually won't know until the project is completed."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wage Hikes Across Asia...

Singapore's low-income wage earners have seen their wages stagnate since the late 1990s. Their counterparts in the region, however, are getting better news. Wall Street journal reports Tuesday [link] that minimum wages are getting a boost throughout many countries in Asia.
China's Wage Hikes Ripple Across Asia

Wall street Journal | By JAMES HOOKWAY in Kuala Lumpur, PATRICK BARTA in Bangkok and DANA MATTIOLI in New York

More Asian governments are pressing businesses to hike wages as a way to prevent outbreaks of labor unrest, raising the specter of higher manufacturing costs for global companies—and the products they sell world-wide.

In the latest move, Malaysia's cabinet has approved the country's first-ever minimum wage to be imposed soon, according to people familiar with the matter. The decision follows similar moves elsewhere in the region, as officials from Thailand to Indonesia follow efforts by China over the past two years to boost pay after years of widening gaps between rich and poor.


Beijing raised its minimum monthly wage by 8.6% to 1,260 yuan ($199) starting in January, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. The following month, the southern boomtown of Shenzhen raised its compulsory monthly wage by nearly 14% to 1,500 yuan. The northeastern port city of Tianjin will raise its minimum wage nearly 13% to 1,310 yuan starting in April, Xinhua said.

China's moves, in part, have helped spur other such changes in the region. Indonesian workers in some areas have secured minimum-wage increases of more than 20% in recent months.Thailand plans to introduce a higher minimum wage beginning in April that will push salaries up about 40% in many parts of the country. Labor advocates in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also are calling for higher wages.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Staggering Gap between Singapore's Rich and Poor

Official statistics by the World Bank indicate that Singapore has the highest Gini coefficient in the developed world. The Gini coefficient is an abstract mathematical economic indicator that measures the extent of income inequality in a country. Yet one doesn't have to be an economics guru to understand the extent of inequality in Singapore. Simply by browsing the newspapers, Singaporeans have been exposed to a much more visceral and concrete demonstration of Singapore's staggering gap between the rich and the poor.

On Monday, the following article was published in my paper:
You can have this bungalow for $68m

This five-bedroom good-class bungalow in Ridout Road comes with its own pool and tennis court.

Reico Wong | Mon, Mar 12, 2012 | my paper

The record $39-million sale of a Sentosa Cove seafront bungalow to a buyer from India, which made headlines earlier this month, may have raised many eyebrows.

But it is far from being the most expensive prestige landed home on the Singapore property market - in terms of absolute price - at the moment.

Sources told my paper that one of the priciest residential landed properties up for grabs is a five- bedroom good-class bungalow (GCB) in Ridout Road, off Holland Road.

Its owner is asking for $68 million, or about $1,670 psf, for the property, which occupies about 40,000 sq ft of land. The large plot of land, on which two GCBs can be built, is sited on a slope and comes with its own swimming pool and tennis court.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Lui Tuck Yew and the Private Sector Delusion (and why you need to buy more personal accident insurance, now!)

Even after experiencing the worst public transport disruption in Singapore's history, minister for transport Mr Lui Tuck Yew is adamant that the government's public transport model is sound and that train and bus operations should stay in the hands of the private sector. The retired rear admiral yesterday reiterated the age-old PAP dogma that the profit incentive delivers the best outcomes for the public.
Public transport should stay a private matter: Tuck Yew

Business Times, March 8, 2012. By JOYCE HOOI

(SINGAPORE) Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew yesterday defended the country's model of privately run public transport operators in Parliament. 'Our current model leaves the operations of trains and buses to commercial entities as we believe the long term public interest is best served this way.

'The profit incentive drives the operators towards higher efficiency and productivity, which keeps costs as low as possible . . . Otherwise, if the system is inefficiently run, the public will ultimately pay for the higher operating costs, either through higher fares, or greater government subsidies.'
Instead of launching into an abstract ideological rant about the pros and cons of private sector involvement in public transport, let me just recount the Singaporean experience with the PAP's so-called world-class transport framework.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Tuition Obsession: A Singaporean Dysfunction

Singapore is in some ways, a deeply dysfunctional society. You know so when you read mind-blowing headlines like this:

Parent pays nearly $6,000 a month in tuition fees

Maureen Koh | The New Paper | Tue Mar 6 2012

Her son is a straight A student in a top boys' school here yet this mother spends $5,800 a month on his tuition.

Her son, who is in Secondary 3, attends classes for English and mathematics at a premier tuition centre in Thomson once a week - two hours per session.

He also takes a 2 1/2-hour weekly Chinese class in a popular language school.

And he gets one-on-one tuition - each for about two hours - for physics, chemistry and biology with a private tutor.

All these classes are on top of the regular supplementary lessons that his school gives.

...To top it off, she pays people to do her son's homework when he can't cope with the combination of school and tuition assignments.

She pays $200 per hour if they have to swing by before midnight and $250 an hour when its later.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Unfortunate Story of Yeo Chong Lin

Today in the news we read the story of Mr Yeo Chong Lin.
Tycoon gives $1 inheritance to each of his children
Sin Chew Daily/ANN
Saturday, Feb 25, 2012
Shipping tycoon Yeo Chong Lin is giving only S$1 (RM2.40) inheritence to each of his four children.

The 77-year-old Singaporean did not leave a single cent to his girlfriend of six years.

Instead, Yeo left his entire 5$45 million fortune to his seven siblings.

He told Lianhe wanbao that he had severed ties with his children.

Yeo, the main shareholders of Yeo Holdings, lost a divorce suit in which he was ordered to pay S$24 million to his ex-wife Nancy Tay last year.


"For the past 60 years, I work so hard everyday, sacrificing myself so that my family get to live a comfortable life.

"I sent my children to study abroad. Not only that they need not work to earn the tuition fees, they could drive new cars around.

"They never appreciate what I've done for them. I don't owe them anything!"

Seriously SMRT, what on earth is going on?

I wanted to blog about this issue when I saw the news article last weekend about a 2nd rail clip being found in 4 days. But today, I open the news and then I see that a 3rd (!) rail clip has been found in a week!
3rd MRT rail clip found dislodged near Ang mo Kio
Feb 17, 2012
By Lin zhaowei
Another dislodged rail clip has been found below an MRT viaduct - the third in a week.

This 10cm, palm-sized metal piece was found a few hundred metres from Ang Mo Kio station along Ang mo Kio Avenue 8, near a jogging track in the space below the viaduct.

But train operator SMRT said its checks did not turn up any clip missing from the track near where it was found.

These rail clips are supposed to secure the MRT rail to the wooden plank under it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Why it Pays to be a Foreign Talent PR in Singapore, Today!!

Singapore is a great place for foreigners to live, work and play! Just take the example of Mr Peter Breitkreutz, an Australian citizen who came to work in Singapore and who fell in love with the country!

Mr Peter Breitkreutz is an Australian citizen who attained his Singapore Permanent Residency (PR) in 2008. Mr Breitkreutz is currently a Senior Vice President of Citibank in Singapore, and is very proud about the fact that he is a Singapore PR. He owns a resale HDB flat in Sengkang West and is married to a Shanghainese wife, and they have two sons.

Mr Breitkreutz is the self-proclaimed "Singapore's favourite expat" and who writes the "most read and subscribed to expat blog in Singapore." He has won several blogging awards, and has even been recruited by the Singapore Government (MICA) to help promote Singapore to foreigners as a great place to live, work, study and play! The Singapore Government absolutely LOVES talented foreigners like Mr Breitkreutz, so much so that it has a special name for them - "foreign talent"!

Friday, February 24, 2012

In Singapore, the Rich Get Richer... while the rest of us Struggle with Inflation

A couple of headline news in the Business Times caught my attention today. The first is regarding record high price for a luxury bungalow plot in Nassim Road:
Peter Kwee sells Nassim Rd plot for about $47.8m
$2,000 psf on land area is a new high for a GCB on Nassim Road

(SINGAPORE) Motoring tycoon Peter Kwee is said to have sold a vacant plot along Nassim Road for about $47.8 million or $2,000 per square foot (psi) based on its freehold land area of about 23,920 sq ft.

While the psf land price for the transaction is slightly shy of the $2,081 psf islandwide record for a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Area set last year, it is nonetheless said to be a fresh high for Nassim Road.

Newsman Realty confirmed it brokered the latest deal. The buyer is a Singaporean  businessman, said the firm's managing director KH Tan.
The second article is regarding the introduction of the Pagani Huayra into Singapore.

Nonsensical Forum Letter on Cheap Foreign Labour

A letter by a certain Ng Ya Ken was published on the TODAYonline Voices section. It contains several nonsensical and idiotic statements that I would wish to debunk. Note: I have no affiliation with SPP and have no vested interest in defending the SPP.
Cheap foreign labour: Who's responsible?
Letter from Ng Ya Ken 04:46 AM Feb 22, 2012
THE Singapore People's Party's chairman, Mrs Lina Chiam, thinks that the effect of foreign labour "is akin to the use of performance-enhancement drugs in sports", as reported in "Opposition parties weigh in on Budget measures" (Feb 19).

Her analogy may not be appropriate, as the use of foreign labour is mainly out of necessity and demand stems mainly from the private sector.

Tin Pei Ling Next in Line to Sue TR Emeritus?

Channelnewsasia reports that TRE and Lee Hsien Yang have reached an "amicable settlement". Lee is reportedly satisfied with the deletion of the allegedly defamatory comment and the expression on the part of TRE.

Mr Lee's lawyer said: "My client is satisfied that his requests have been met, that the false and defamatory postings have been removed and that TRE' has acknowledged and expressed regret over this posting. The vindication of his name and reputation is important."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Budget 2012: Thoughts on the $1.1 billion Bus Fund

Here is my take on the $1.1 billion that Tharman announced the Government will be setting aside to help alleviate the public transport problem. While there are not many details currently released on how the partnership between the Govt and the PTOs is going to be structured, IMHO the Govt should follow these principles in structuring the public-private partnership.

A History of Defamation Suits and Other Similar Actions in Singapore


Lee Kuan Yew sues Far Eastern Economic Review for defamation. Damages unknown.


J.B. Jeyaretnam sued for slander for allegedly implying that Lee Kuan Yew had abetted Teh Cheang Wan's suicide and helped to cover up Teh's corruption. Jeyaretnam was found guilty and was ordered him to pay damages of S$260,000 plus costs to Lee.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tharman's 2012 Budget Speech & the Spectre of Government Failure

One of the key features, if not the key feature of the 2012 Budget Speech, is the reduction in foreign worker dependency ratio ceilings (DRCs) and Man-Year Entitlement (MYE) quotas. Stung by the results of the 2011 general elections, the PAP has u-turned on its pro-foreign worker stance and the Minister for Finance has stated unequivocally to businesses that they must reduce their dependence on foreign labour.

Read deeper between the lines, however, and you will see a tacit admission of Government failure. Here are two critical paragraphs in Tharman's budget speech regarding the clamping down of foreign labour inflow:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Open Challenge to PM Lee Hsien Loong

In the light of the recent events surrounding PM Lee's lawsuit threat against TR Emeritus, I would like to issue a challenge to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Board of Directors of Temasek Holdings, to put to rest, once and for all, the doubts and rumours surrounding Ho Ching's appointment as CEO of Temasek Holdings.

Instead of wasting time and money on unleashing lawsuit threats against hapless bloggers, the Prime Minister and the Government of Singapore should practice the highest standards of transparency and accountability with regards to the corporate governance of Temasek Holdings, for the benefit of its ultimate beneficiary owners, the citizens of Singapore.

I demand that the Prime Minister provide complete, incontrovertible, exhaustive documentary evidence demonstrating beyond a shadow of doubt that the selection process that ended in the appointment of Ho Ching as CEO of Temasek was made "on merit and through proper process".

Monday, February 20, 2012

PM Lee's Lawsuit Threat is a Serious Strategic Mistake

Following in the footsteps of Minister for Law K Shanmugam, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's lawyers have served a letter to TR Emeritus over a commentary the latter published which, amongst other things, "alleged that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong secured or was instrumental in securing the appointment of his wife, Mdm Ho Ching, as the chief executive officer of Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited for nepotistic motives". TRE has been threatened with legal proceedings and damages and costs will be pursued if TRE does not delete the article and publish an apology.

This is an unfortunate turn of events in Singapore's political history and political media. It is a politically regressive move by the PAP ministers which undoes the efforts of the PAP to "shape a more inclusive society." For the following reasons, these lawsuit threats must be regarded as serious strategic errors by the PAP.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

K Shanmugam should "Come clean with the people"

In a now infamous letter to Alex Au of Yawning Bread, K Shanmugam's lawyers declared,
1. We act for Mr K Shanmugam.

2. We refer to the following comments that you have made on your website,, under the Responses section of the blog posting entitled “The Media and Yaw Shin Leong” published on 8 February 2012:
“I take the points raised in the above two comments. Indeed, I think the role of the mainstream press in this issue needs to be contrasted with the relative silence when it came to allegations swirling around K Shanmugam and Foo Mee Har at various points in the recent past. That there were rumours is widely known, though as in the Yaw Shin Leong case, no one can point to any proof. But that’s not my point here. My point is that the mainstream media’s interest in the Yaw affair does not look like neutral journalism. “
(Response No 24 dated 9 February 2012 at 23:34hrs) (the “Blog Comments’)

3. The allegations against our client that you have referred to in the Blog Comments have been put up primarily by a person who calls himself “scroobal’ on the internet. The allegations are false and scurrilous.
 With reference to the above letter, K Shanmugam should clarify the following:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Myth of PAP’s Miracle – Paul Krugman Revisited; Productivity Problem Redux

Singapore has struggled with the issue of productivity growth for a very long time.

As far back as 1972, Singapore set up the National Productivity Board (NPB) to improve individuals' and companies' productivity in all sectors of the economy. The NPB adopted a so-called "total productivity" approach, which emphasized productivity measurement, product quality, worker training, and assistance to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In the 1980s, growth via productivity was a key agenda on policy makers’ minds. In 1981, Singapore set up the Productivity Standards Board (1981). In 1982, NPB launched a nationwide productivity campaign (remember Teamy the Productivity Bee?) to encourage the move from labor-intensive activities to more highly-skilled and technology-driven work. In 1986, then cabinet minister BG Lee Hsien Loong pointed out that Singapore was industrially “still predominantly a manufacturing production base. Products are designed overseas, and then only produced in Singapore factories on our production lines.” The budgets of the 1980s had as part of their objectives, the goal to get out of the cheap-labour trap and to move into high-skill industries. 1980s budgets often created incentives and disincentives for this transformation.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Tan Jee Say Endorsed by Low Thia Khiang: Dream Candidate for Hougang By-Election?

Now that there is going to be a by-election, pundits are speculating whether there will be a third party contesting Hougang, in addition to the definite participation of PAP and WP. Straits Times reports that at least two non-WP candidates, 2011 Presidential candidate Tan Jee Say and Frankie Low are interested in contesting the ward.

While I think Frankie Low is a long shot who is likely to lose his election deposit if he chooses to contest in Hougang, Tan Jee Say could potentially be a dream candidate if he joins the WP and is endorsed by Low Thia Khiang to stand in Hougang. At the moment, the alternatives in the WP are not very strong, with the front runners being the previous contestants from East Coast GRC.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Foreign Talent" Issue is a Symptom of the Power Struggle between the Political, Corporate Elite and the Working Class

There has been a lot of argumentation about whether the "foreign talent" policy is the right policy for Singapore and the PAP Government as the primary proponent of Singapore's hyper liberal immigration policies, has given all sorts of reasons why Singapore needs a massive influx of foreigners. These reasons consist of arguments regarding Singapore's need for foreign labor to supplement economic growth, and to "top-up" the shrinking population." Meanwhile the opposition and other critics of the foreign talent policy usually fall into the trap of engaging the PAP on their terms and use counter arguments as to why the policy doesn't really work. Such arguments usually run along the lines of foreigners overloading the infrastructure, depressing wages, lowering the standard of living, lowering productivity etc.

Housing Prices and the Credit Impulse: A Singaporean Analysis

According to latest reports on the Singapore property market, the number of private homes sold soared to a 14-month high in January 2012, indicating that housing demand remained buoyant, contrary to expectations of a slowdown in housing market activity due to the implementation of ABSD (additional buyer stamp duty) in December 2011. Indeed, ABSD appears to have had a muted effect on reining in demand for mass market properties, and recent launches such as the Watertown and the Hillier selling extremely well, and approx 90% of sales going to Singaporeans.

As to be expected, none of the articles published and none of the experts quoted have made any detailed analysis of the state of credit expansion as a facilitator or driver of housing demand and housing prices. Economist Steve Keen and other analysts have argued (see references below) that the real explanation for rising house prices is rising credit. To be more precise, what drives the change in house prices is the acceleration of mortgage debt. The acceleration of debt has been dubbed "the credit impulse" by Michael Biggs et al, and more recently termed the "credit accelerator" by Keen.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Yaw Shin Leong's Folly Matched By Workers' Party's Principled Stand

Yaw Shin Leong was today expelled from the Workers party. His expulsion is an unfortunate event.

Yaw was a rising star. According to the WP statement, the 35 year old Shin Leong had been a core member of the Party leadership for more than 10 years, and had made significant and unique contributions towards WP's growth. In the recent elections, Yaw rode the WP wave to win 64.8% of the votes in Hougang, the highest of all the opposition. There is no doubt that Yaw would continue to grow to become an anchor member of the WP in the years to come as MP of the workers party stronghold in Hougang, and given the obvious talent that he had in politics. Alas, that was not to be.

Latest Online Prostitution Scandal Isn't the First, and Certainly Won't Be the Last

According to media reports, several Singapore public servants are being probed for their alleged involvement in an online prostitution ring. One of them is the former principal of a prominent primary school, but he is believed to be just one among 80 men being questioned for their involvement the prostitution ring. Several other public servants from other government agencies are also believed to be involved in the investigations, amongst which at least one is believed to be a scholarship recipient and another a former police officer. Bankers, lawyers and other professionals from the private sector were also amongst those called in for questioning.

Apparently, women from countries like Thailand, China and South Korea were being offered on the website in question at a price range of SGD80 to about SGD300. Eastern European and Russian women were also available. Most of these women come into Singapore on short-term visas and the syndicates involved in the ring gets regular "batches" of girls.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Singapore Sex Scandals: Simi Dai Ji? (What's the Big Deal)

Much has been made of the public sex scandals of late, and there are many different views from different quarters. Some commentators are asking, what's the big deal? Adultery and infidelity happens all the time so why are we engaging in these character assassinations and making such a big hoo-hah over these events. Others are saying we are all human and so we shouldn't judge these individuals who have engaged in infidelity because then we will be guilty of hypocrisy.

Well, let me suggest to you guys what the big deal is.

Yes, adultery and infidelity does indeed happen all the time and can happen to anybody in any job at any time and any place, and yes, nobody is truly justified in judging another person's morality because we are all human and fallible and capable of succumbing to temptation.

But that's precisely the point.

"Feng Shui Finance" and the Singapore Property Market

You know that a property bubble is brewing when Feng Shui gurus are getting into the property market. A recent article on propertyguru quotes the comments of a Feng Shui master on the state of the nascent 'shoe box' market in Singapore. According to Feng Shui expert-cum-architect Shang Zong Wei,
"we are now living in Period 8 where high-rise developments with small units and expensive pricing will become the norm. Period 8 refers to the 20 years spanning 2004 to 2023. This is represented by the trigram Gen (艮), a characteristic of Qi (气) normally relating to mountains, children, feet, ankles and so on. Hence, in Period 8, erection of high-rise housings may be anticipated - modern structures manifesting as 'mountains with livable caves', complete with 'mountain-high' prices. The trend of dwelling units becoming smaller and smaller may seem a natural response to market demand, but it can also be just a natural tendency towards 'children scale'. What is really uncanny is the nickname given to such units - 'shoe box', because Gen (艮) also relates to feet and ankles."
Well, I seriously have no idea about Feng Shui, but according to the Skeptic's dictionary, "Feng shui has ... become another New Age "energy" scam with arrays of metaphysical products from paper cutouts of half moons and planets to octagonal mirrors to wooden flutes offered for sale to help you improve your health, maximize your potential, and guarantee fulfillment of some fortune cookie philosophy. " Also, "in countries where belief in feng shui is still very strong, feng shui has become a hodgepodge of superstitions and unverified notions which are passed off in the university curriculum as scientific principles of architecture or city planning." 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sex Scandals in Singapore: What's Going On?

Sex scandals have recently been hogging the news headlines in Singapore. High profile individuals in positions of senior responsibility in the public service, as well as an opposition MP, have been alleged to have committed adultery. All three of the accused senior public servants (the chiefs of SCDF and CNB and a primary school principal) have been forced to resign from their positions, while opposition MP Yaw Shin Leong has resigned from his leadership position in the Workers Party. The serial expose of infidelity has left me wondering: what is going on with Singapore's leaders? Why are so many sex scandals happening in this island nation?

The Systematic Implosion of Lee Kuan Yew's "Intellectual Class"

Hot on the heels of the resignation of the SCDF and CNB chiefs, an online prostitution ring has been reported to be busted, in the process exposing the involvement of a police officer and the principal of a top primary school in Singapore. Singaporean parents have been reported to be "totally disgusted" by the news, and at least one member of the public has been quoted as saying that "these public servants should be sacked on the spot."

Members of the PAP, trying to respond to the fiasco with a semblance of relevance, have been quoted with such platitudes as "civil servants should be expected to uphold the reputation and integrity of the civil service" (Hri Kumar) and "I think [it's] difficult for ... teachers ... to look up to [a person with] moral flaws in his character." (Lim Biow Chuan)

Of course, none of the PAP MPs have the decency (nor the insight) to analyse the fundamental flaws in the scholarship and leadership selection process, and incentive system.