Eighties were the best

Posted: August 26, 2009 by fievel in Labels:

Felt like having a good dose of the eighties' music today...so here's a few

Johnny Logan - Hold me now
Heart - These Dreams
Don McLean - Crying

Coldplay - Viva la Vida

Posted: by fievel in Labels: , , ,

This song goes out to NMP Visva Sadasivan, for his courageous maiden speech in the parliament last week. Somebody finally spoke up for us; he spoke up for democracy, he spoke up against having a state controlled media, he spoke up for equality, he spoke up against income inequality, he spoke up against our pragmatic yardstick for achievement, he spoke up against using our poorly distributed GDP as a guide to our wellbeing. BUT most importantly, he spoke up for our HAPPiNESS
People, he spoke up for us people.
Some people interpret this song by Coldplay to refer to revolutions of the world...the French Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the Russian Revolution etc...about the kings and emperors and queens and rulers who fell from high places...
Ladies and gentlemen...VIVA LA VIDA

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing,
"Now the old king is dead, long live the king!"
One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt, pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
Once you'd go there was never,
never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn't believe what I'd become
Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh, who would ever wanna be king

I hear Jerusalem bells were ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs were singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
I know St. Peter won't call my name
Never honest were
But that was when I ruled the world

Ministry of Finance's shocking U-turn on "public feedback"

Posted: August 22, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,

With my last blog post on how our government has failed to rein in inflation, especially in property prices and a UBS research report that Singapore has become the second most expensive city in Asia (overtaking Hongkong in costs but not salary), barely out for a day, I woke up this morning to Straits Times' double whammy (and counter intuitive) reports of "No Sales Gain Tax Change" and "Homes more affordable".

In the first report, splashed across the front page of ST, the government announces that they are backing out of a recently proposed properties gains tax law due to "salient public feedback"...
....WHOA...wait a minute! Since when has public opinion really figured in the decision process of this ruling party? I mean, if that is truely the case, then we will not have their $2million annual salary still firmly in place.

It is no wonder that the congratulatory notes for this pro-speculative move came from Steven Choo, the Chief Executive of Real Estate Development Association of Singapore (REDAS), and Tan Tiong Cheng, Chairman of Knight Frank, a real estate company, but why are the papers publishing such one-sided views on the papers. In the capital markets, this is akin to a portfolio manager singing his own book. If a vacuum cleaner salesman tells you that his vacuum cleaners are the best you will have doubted his words, but why the lack of discern here with property players?

Another question came to my mind - being in the capital markets give me perspectives stemming mostly from the trading industry - there is a watchdog in capital markets to prevent stock brokers front running the customers, and to ensure fair practices in the markets, and they are in turn watched over by an independent board - who is there to watch over our property markets? Who is there to watch over decision makers? Who is there to watch over the Ministry of Finance? What if a particular decision maker becomes corrupt and makes decision tainted by personal gains and benefits?

$2 million dollars is a lot of money for an individual's salary, but for a greedy individual, it will not be enough to prevent corruption. A chinese saying goes, "Man is so greedy, if he were a snake, he would try to devour an elephant."

I will follow up with a detailed post next on why average property prices at 19 times the average citizen's annual salary is a horrible state of affairs and it is shocking to read in our national papers that it is deemed to be ok, just because we can benchmark it to worse times (40x salary) back in the 1997 bubble. Shocking...just shocking...

Rising HDB resale flat prices is a giant social time bomb

Posted: August 21, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,

I refer to the 20th August Straits Times report, "Cash upfront for HDB resale flats doubles in a month".

About 80% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats and the purchase of a HDB flat is the first step to setting up a family for many young couples.
The policy of HDB is designed such that it aims to provide public housing for Singaporeans and PRs, drawing a clear dividing line between the private home market, where international investors and speculators are also allowed to purchase properties in Singapore, and the local citizens looking to purchase purely for consumption purposes. In the process of enforcing such a policy, HDB is able to control supply of new flats via the "built-to-order" system and hence indirectly affecting the market prices of resale flats, where young Singapore couples need not wait for 3 years to set up a home.

While I am aware of the need for HDB to regulate supply such that it does not create too much volatility in HDB prices, and that there is an inevitable lag between registering demand for new flats and the actual delivery of it, I am of the opinion that the recent run up in HDB prices during the most severe recession since Singapore's gaining independence has signalled that the system requires a thorough review. Whether the run up in HDB resale prices is due to optimism in the private housing market as suggested by industry observers, or is due to the marked increase in Singapore's population size in the last 2 years as purported by many netizens, two failings comes to mind - which is that public housing has become too correlated to the private market, and that HDB has not regulated its supply in line with the immigration and demographic trends in Singapore - because this run up in prices is definitely not related to our current economic conditions, where unemployment rate has gone up and real wages have declined during the preceding boom.

As housing cost form the largest financial obligation for most Singaporeans, I fear that this will create a batch of young Singaporean couples who are too highly leveraged and tied to their mortgages. Come the next downturn, which is bound to hit Singapore's export driven economy, we will have a demographic group who is unable to deal with the loss of their jobs seeing as they will be laden with other obligations such as their kids and aging parents. Singapore is limited by her size and her lack of natural resources, hence our economy has to be flexible to adapt to changing times. As such we can expect structural unemployment to continue to plague Singaporeans when industries move away and become replaced by new industries.

Stories of graduates or even PhD holders becoming taxi drivers might be the exception today, but if our public housing prices are not kept in check more rigorously right now, we will pay a huge social cost, in the form of mass dissent and social unrest, for this mistake in years to come when it becomes the norm.

Aug 20, 2009 - The Straits Times
Jessica Cheam
THE amount of cash needed upfront to buy an HDB flat resale roughly doubled last month as the exuberant sentiment in the private homes market spilled over into public housing.

Three property agencies told The Straits Times that the median cash-over-valuation, or COV, has shot up across all flat types and has gone above $10,000 for some units.

In two of the more startling examples, a five-room flat at Depot Road sold for $70,000 above its $490,000 valuation, while an executive flat in Pasir Ris sold for $35,000 above its COV of $550,000, according to figures from PropNex and the HSR Property Group.

COV is cash that buyers pay to a seller over and above a flat's market valuation. It cannot be covered by a mortgage or CPF money, and so serves as an indicator of flat affordability.
What is surprising is the speed at which it doubled in a month, said Mr Colin Tan, Chesterton Suntec International's research and consultancy director.

Figures from the Housing Board (HDB) for the April to June quarter showed that median COV was zero for five-room and executive flats.
But data from PropNex, ERA Asia Pacific and C&H Realty for last month showed that this now ranged from $5,000 to $13,000.

The three agencies have a share of about 70 per cent of the HDB resale market between them.
There was a similar surge for three- and four-room flat types: HDB data put median COV at $5,000 in the second quarter, but the agencies said it rose to the region of $10,000 to $15,000 last month.

Based on ERA's sales, the median COV for three-room units rose from $6,000 in the second quarter to $14,000 last month. The median COV is a mid-point: Half the units were sold for a COV above that value, and half below.

Industry observers say that the COV rise was inevitable given that the optimism in the private market was bound to spread to HDB flats.
HDB flat prices have staged a surprising comeback amid the recession, reversing a first-quarter dip of 0.8 per cent to rise 1.4 per cent in the second quarter and reach a historical high.

Analysts now predict further price increases for resale flats for the third quarter on the back of climbing COVs - as long as buying momentum is sustained.
PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said high demand for resale flats is supporting surging COVs, as supply remains tight.

A cascading effect in the market is driving buyers to more affordable sectors.
Chesterton's Mr Tan said some buyers who are being priced out of the rebounding private market are turning to HDB resale flats.
Private home prices have started to climb, buoyed by high buying activity that saw a stunning 2,767 units sold last month.

This, in turn, has resulted in first-time HDB buyers, hit by soaring COVs, being forced out of the resale market and into new HDB flats, said ERA associate director Eugene Lim.
This is already evident: The HDB was flooded by 5,392 applications for 769 flats at the recent launch of Punggol Residences. Applications closed last week. That is a subscription rate of seven times in a market where a typical rate is three or four times. New HDB projects, which take three years to build, have not seen such numbers since the 2007 property boom.

However, C&H Realty managing director Albert Lu observed that most of the sales are still done at reasonable COV levels of around $10,000.

'There are some unrealistic sellers asking for high COVs as in the last boom, but buyers can choose not to bite,' he said.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer Nicholas Mak noted that mass market private properties have a strong link to HDB resale flats, and COVs will stop rising only when mass market buying interest dies out.

Banking executive Goh Hui Min, 25, is one HDB buyer who is glad she bought her five-room flat in Telok Blangah for $590,000 about a month ago before the latest COV rises.
'I paid $35,000 below the flat's valuation, which, given the current market, is quite a fabulous deal,' she said.

Salah Year's National Day Rally

Posted: August 19, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,

It has been more than a week since my last post. I've been busy with my wedding so its tough to be writing about Singapore's issues which invariably leaves me an angrier man each time. Today, I blog as a married man, a husband of another individual - in a blissful and slightly calmer way.

I wasn't able to catch PM Lee's National Day Rally 2009 live but thanks to the internet, I knew I was going to be able to find it on youtube or something, in any case I did not expect anything he say to be too critical that I couldn't come back to several days later. (Sometimes I think the biggest threat to our rulers' "national security" is youtube and the likes...but I digress)

Having seen the rally on youtube just, I was left wondering if this was indeed 2009's rally... Or is this the template meant for 2002 post 9-11, and somehow got mixed up with this year's. Instead of engaging Singaporeans on any of the following issues - our widening wage and social gap, our ballooning inflation, our dislike for an overcrowded country, our depressed wages for blue collar jobs, our structural unemployment, our distaste for the way Temasek handled our "family jewels", our 5 years' old dissent for the government's million dollar pay hike - he decided to talk about religious/racial harmony and what we have achieved in the past 50yrs? What bollocks!?

I knew there was no way Mr Lee was going to open the can of worms on the critical issues the majority of Singaporeans have been grappling with. If the Duxton Plains HDB's high market value translates to the success and hence happiness of Singaporeans, if the Singapore river was really clogged up last year but got cleaned up by this current cabinet of ministers in the past 12 months, if our nation of Singaporeans suddenly became devoid of material pangs, and suddenly became filled with nothing on their mind but religious and racial differences, THEN MAYBE, maybe this was a useful rally. If anything, it is nationalistic and sexual differences that have recently proved to be more critical, not racial or religious.

They lay claim that the job credit scheme is a success. That it is fine for us to lose some jobs during the companies' expected restructuring because they will emerge with new ones. I think what it shows is we have a government disconnected with reality, one who is still trying to solve 2009's problems with 1989's solutions. For example, back then, a Singaporean worker could jolly well move from a biscuit factory to a textile factory. Today, our world has evolved - the work environment is fiercer and more competitive and specialized than ever, such that you cannot get a journalist to transform into a banker simply with a catchy sounding upgrading retraining program. You also cannot ask Singaporean PMETs who used to earn $6000 a month to "not be too choosy" and become a security guard (which by my estimate earns maximum of $1500 a month) and consider it solved, because this fool we are talking about probably has a high HDB mortgage due to prices which our Minister of National Development has failed to keep in check over the years.

Perhaps that is why we are hearing a rally speech that feels, sounds and IS so disconnected from 2009's reality. See, I got carried away again ; note to self - definitely need to read up on anger management.

Reading other blogs writing about these issues every day and then seeing this rally, feels as if we live in ancient China where the Emperor lives in the confines of the Forbidden City and does not hear the people anymore.

National Day Message 2009

Posted: August 9, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,

70% of speech devoted to $$$ issues. It doesn't get any more corporate than this.
Btw, anyone shares my sentiments his gesticulation and delivery of speech is very unnatural? Even the smile seemed so coerced. Wonder why no one on the recording crew told him how obviously awkward he was looking.

As I write this, Vernetta Lopez announces the arrival of Lee Hsien Loong at the NDP. The guy (think its Gurmit Singh) holding onto the mic shouts the command "Everyone hold the Singapore flag up high!" =)

Lets take a poll

Posted: August 7, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,

REACH SINGAPORE did a poll based on 1500 Singaporeans and represented their views below...I would like to point out 2 issues.
1) The sample size should have been higher and cut across a more deliberate homogenous sample population for it to carry real significance.
2) The most thorny issue every joe is talking about, Minister Pay, was not in the poll, why? As such I have put up a little poll here on the column to the right. Feel free to express your opinion.

You can read the Channelnewsasia report below.

SINGAPORE: A survey has shown that more than one in three Singaporeans are dissatisfied with job opportunities for older workers.

The poll by the government's feedback channel REACH also found that Singaporeans are satisfied with the way Singapore is being governed and have confidence in Singapore's future and its economy.

Ninety-three per cent of those surveyed believe that Singapore is governed well, and 80 per cent of respondents feel confident about the future prospects of the economy.

In the poll which surveyed some 1,500 Singaporeans, a quarter of them expressed unhappiness with Singapore's employment policies relating to foreign workers and foreign talent.

Other concerns Singaporeans have include housing affordability as well as health costs.

When it comes to the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP), 39 per cent of respondents are not convinced the system actually helps traffic flow.

REACH chairman, Amy Khor, also gave her take on the findings from the poll, saying: "Last year, we have seen a fair share of feedback on cost of living, employment and the foreign workers and talent issues, and that's not surprising, given the economic crisis.

"Hence, it was also not surprising that the Budget measures which are aimed at addressing the current downturn and prepare Singapore for the future were welcomed. Even more encouraging, Singaporeans also expressed confidence in Singapore's future and the economy despite the current downturn.

"There was, however, more dissatisfaction in several areas, such as cost of living, healthcare affordability, and the employment prospects for older workers. This is generally in line with the tone of the feedback we've received via our website and other feedback platforms."

Liverpool New Signing - Alberto Aquilani

Posted: by fievel in Labels:

We have a new signing in Liverpool and this 25 yr old Italian attacking midfielder is looking like a really good deal considering he cost $10M less than Xabi Alonso, he can pass, he has good ideas, he is quite pacy, and boy can he shoot!!! Man U beware!

Capitaland - Still going through retracement swing

Posted: by fievel in Labels:

Exchange: SGX
Counter: Capitaland
Current Bid/Ask: 3.69/3.70

As discussed in the last entry, Capitaland is still undergoing the retracement swing...looking at the chart above, you can see the strong resemblance in the technicals in the current period and the 15April - 29April period (marked by vertical lines).

The Declining Price on Declining Volume tells the biggest tale here. Until we see a pick up in volume, which means more and more people are willing to pick up the counter at the lower market price, we should not be seeing this counter make any significant daily gains. The RSI and the MACD are, as we know, slightly lagging indicators. They serve to guide us as confirmations and it is perfectly fine to enter 1 day into the upswing, as we aim to ride on the "body" of the upswing, not time the entry by looking for the bottom.

Today's volume as of now (not shown in daily chart above), 35 minutes into market opening, suggests a high volume (at least double) trading day. So the upswing should not be too far away.

Proportionate Representation

Posted: August 6, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,

After watching this video above, where PM Lee answers former NMP Siew on his questions pertaining to a fairer voting system, i.e. we go for a proportionate representation system (Im not sure if Im right but I think he means to abolish the GRC system), what are your thoughts? Below are mine...

So what if it leads to "divided politics" ? I mean, is that not the point of having an opposition? To challenge the ruling party on issues and policies that the citizens do not want or approve of? Divided politics is NOT a problem for you and me.
Why is it that having opposition parties will lead to "race-based" and "religious-based" parties "trying to win votes" via such underhanded means? Are we, as a population, not united enough, not mature enough, not discerning enough, to see the evils of a "race-based" and "religious-based" party? Is the PAP the only party that knows how to lead based on "equality" ?
"What can he do, if he is elected in that party?"
I vote another PAP member into the homogenous sea of PAP ministers, I do not expect any changes. Best case scenario, she (e.g. Halimah Yacob) makes a bit of noise here and there. No real changes. That is what he can do.

My 3 Singaporean cents.

Online Petition

Posted: August 5, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , ,

Recently I read that a bunch of Singaporean students managed to start an online petition to get what they wanted - Cheaper transfort fares for tertiary students. 5200 tertiary students supported the online petition.

Yet another bunch managed to implore their school into a week long recess in view of the H1N1 outbreak.

And so the idea struck me. Hey! The one big protest I hear from Singaporeans over and over again, everywhere, online, offline, is that our ministers are paying themselves too much salary! Why then do we not have an online petition for that? Sensing there might already be an existing website for such online petitions, I did my googling as usual...and found that there is indeed an existing website, in fact, there is an existing petition (and it's still ongoing) against Ministers' pay hike when it was first "proposed" to the citizens in April 2007.

Guess how many people have since signed this petition? 3233 up till now.. I do not for a moment doubt that an overwhelming majority of Singaporeans will like to see the Ministers take a pay cut, not a pay hike. It is the lack of publicity and perhaps some amount of fear that is curbing this petition from running its full potential.

At the petition website, you can read what comments other petitioners have left. Below is a small extraction for your sampling.

Jerica Tan
How much MONEY is one needed for leading a comfortable life? 30K a Month? 50K? or 100K or 1000000000K???? I can not think of any justification at all!! Most people here in Singapore are earning say between 1.5K - 3K a month, so most people can not imagine why our "LEADERS" need soooooo much MONEY???

Tony Lim
Already out of the world salary, they want out of the universe salary? If MONEY is the only motivation factor for our "LEADERS", than I am very sad & worried for Singapapore!!

We shouldn't be paying them more the keep honest, they should be honest right from the start. If they need to be paid more just to stay honest, I think it's time we find someone else whos honestly can't be bought.

Use the correct benchmark! Peg pay to ministers of other countries. Or is the govt implying that the ministers of all other countries are corrupt/incompetent because they don't earn as much as our learned ministers!

I think the benchmark is flawed as the component salaries are based on the top earners in their professions and not necessarily reflective of the overall industry. Furthermore, the risks undertaken by ministers are underwritten by the Singapore taxpayer while the risks taken by a doctor or lawyer or banker are not. I also believe the massive salaries diminishes the spirit of public service that should be fostered in the Cabinet.

If you find that you, your friends and/or your family members, do feel the same way about this matter, I hope you will join the petition and forward the petition link to your friends. Alternatively you can also forward this blog post to them using the forwarding function.

Say no to $2M minister salaries. Support the online petition! Go to PETITIONONLINE now!

Here is a Reuters news article dated April 5, 2007, regarding the pay hike.

Singapore ministers set for million-dollar pay hike
Thu Apr 5, 2007 2:51pm EDT
By Koh Gui Qing

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The salary of the prime minister of Singapore is more than three times that of U.S. President George Bush and about four times that of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But that is not enough.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong may soon be getting a hefty pay rise as part of a controversial ministerial salary hike that has infuriated many Singaporeans.

Lee, who is estimated to earn about S$2 million (669,265 pounds) per year, said last month that the salaries of Singapore ministers, top public officials and judges have fallen way below benchmark private sector salaries and may need to be doubled.

"It is critical for us to keep these salaries competitive, so as to be able to bring in a continuing flow of able and successful people," Lee said in a speech in March.

Lee said that Singapore ministers, who currently earn about S$1.2 million a year, should be earning S$2.2 million. Details of the new ministerial salaries will be announced in parliament on April 9.

Since 1994, the salaries of Singapore ministers have been set at two-thirds the median pay of the 48 best-paid bankers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and executives in multi-nationals and manufacturing firms.

But the latest salary hike, which comes at a time when income disparity in Singapore is wider than ever, has sparked an outpour of unusually blunt criticism from Singaporeans.

Hundreds have signed an online petition and the readers' letter columns of the state-controlled newspapers -- one of the few outlets for dissenting views in the city-state -- have published a series of letters protesting the planned hike.


Some Singaporeans argue that the six lucrative professions on which ministers' salaries are based do not reflect the country's economy or the government's performance.

"No matter what happens to the economy, the government always wins because it takes only the best results," Jacob Tan said in a letter to the Straits Times.

And given that a 2 percentage point rise in sales tax from July will further hit the poor, some said the government plan is tactless.

"I am rather disappointed with the government's insensitivity," reader Vanessa Teo said.

But the sharpest criticism was online. The "awesome raise on top of their already obscene pay is completely unjustifiable," read an online petition that has gathered 304 signatures.

Given the rare public outcry, analysts said the government may now hesitate to raise salaries by the full S$1 million.

"I would be surprised if they implemented the full formula that would give them over S$2 million," said Garry Rodan, director of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University.

The government defends the high salaries as necessary to attract the brightest people and to prevent corruption.

"If we don't do that ... corruption will set in and we will become like many other countries," Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean was quoted as saying in the Straits Times last week.

Singapore government officials' salaries are set by different wage formulas, depending on their seniority. The figures are not readily available to the public, but the prime minister earned S$1.94 million in 2000, according to the Straits Times.

Ministers' wages were last raised in 2000, but were cut in 2001 and 2003 during the economic downturn, although the cuts have since been reversed, the Public Service Division said.


Some argue that Singapore ministers are not overpaid, but that ministers elsewhere are underpaid.

Singapore is an oasis of wealth, peace and law and order in a region rife with poverty, violence and corruption.

The island state is Asia's second-richest country after Japan, with a gross domestic product per capita of about $31,000 (15,695 pounds).

The World Economic Forum ranks Singapore as the fifth-most competitive of 125 economies in 2006, while Transparency International said the city-state was the fifth-most corruption-free nation out of 163. Isn't that worth a price?

"According to a Chinese proverb, an able general is worth more than 10,000 foot soldiers. So too is the worth of our leaders if they have the wisdom to help us weather global competition," reader Yik Keng Yeong said.

But critics say that the prosperity and security enjoyed by Singaporeans are not that different from other Asian first-world economies such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan, where government ministers do not command such high salaries.

Finland, for instance, beat Singapore in the WEF and Transparency International polls -- as second-most competitive and most corruption-free country -- but its Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen earns about a sixth of Lee's estimated salary.

What irks Singapore's opposition parties is that the million-dollar salaries are only accessible to members of Lee's ruling People's Action Party. Opposition politicians have been crippled by defamation lawsuits brought by government ministers and no opposition party has ever held a ministerial post.

The opposition also argues that a million-dollar pay hike is unwarranted for leaders of a country that has no legal minimum wage and where 20 percent of the population earns an average monthly salary of S$1,500.

But Lee Kuan Yew -- modern Singapore's first prime minister, who is still the leading voice in his son's cabinet -- will have none of it.

"The cure to all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government," Lee senior told the Straits Times on Thursday, adding that it is "absurd" for Singaporeans to quarrel about ministerial pay and warning that Singapore would suffer it the government could not pay competitive salaries.

"Your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries," he said.

(Additional reporting by Sakari Suoninen in Helsinki, Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo, Joanne Allen in Washington)

© Thomson Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world.

Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.


Posted: by fievel in Labels:

Exchange: SGX
Counter: Capitaland
Current Bid Ask: 3.78 / 3.79

The recent stock market recovery has most counters moving in an upward channel as shown in the daily chart above for Capitaland, one of the more liquid and volatile member of the Straits Times Index...I have been eyeing this counter for a while and this entry will mark the first of a (hopefully useful) technical analysis series...

One important note: for most of us retail players, we do not have the facility to go into naked short selling, forcing us to cover our shorts within the day, which is no good for strategies of any kind (unless you are into CFDs - but I do not have direct experience with it at the moment to validate some of the criticisms I have heard about them). Hence, we will be only looking to maximize our probability of a profitable buy-in opportunity and look out for exits or selling signals.

Since March the upward trend has been established. Preceding the 2 upward swings as indicated by the blue upwards arrows, we have had rising volume on declining prices, RSI heading north, MACD undercutting the signal.

Today, we are at the exact opposite of that, the MACD is looking to cross the signal from above, the RSI is heading south from the 70% mark, which are exact replicas of the last 2 down swings. The steady volume suggests that this retracement has legs.
As such, I will wait for the signs to turn before looking to buy into the next swing.

Seagate to lay off 2000 to shift out of Singapore

Posted: August 4, 2009 by fievel in Labels:

This is probably just the tip of the iceberg as Singapore faces an exodus of low value industries from Singapore. Too much state intervention has rendered our local job market to suffer from sudden and major structural changes time and again.

Seagate to shut plant
By Chan Hian Hou

HARD disk maker Seagate will close down its Ang Mo Kio hard disk plant by the end of next year.

In a statement to the media on Tuesday, Seagate Technology announced that it will 'relocate its hard disk manufacturing operations from the Ang Mo Kio facility in Singapore to other existing Seagate sites'.

Retrenched workers will be offered an unspecified severance benefits; some will also be offered work in its Woodlands or Science Park sites.

'This consolidation is necessary in order for Seagate to further increase efficiency and reduce costs by leveraging investments across fewer manufacturing sites,' it said.

The Straits Times was unable to reach a Seagate spokesman, but according to Seagate's website, the one million square foot Ang Mo Kio plant employs more than 4,000 staff.

Seagate, the world's biggest hard disk maker, is not exiting Singapore totally though.

Singapore, it said, 'will remain a key strategic partner for Seagate, with a focus on high value activities, and Seagate will continue to make strategic investments here'.

It has a disk media plant in Woodlands, and a R&D centre off Science Park.

Zinedine Zidane

Posted: by fievel in Labels:

As the English Premier League gets ready to kick off to another season with lots of crazy multi-million transfers, I was just thinking back about the really good players that many of these pretenders cannot match.

The most gracious and elegant footballer ever, has got to be Zinedine Zidane.

Colonel Sanders's restaurant getting sued

Posted: by fievel in Labels:

Fast food chains are quickly dropping down my chart of where-to-eat. Seeing it in a movie was one thing, seeing it proven in a court case is another!

Below is a case brought against KFC in NSW, Australia recently, as featured by Sydney Morning Herald.

KFC twister salmonella poisoned girl, court told
Bellinda Kontominas

August 3, 2009

A girl who suffered brain damage from salmonella poisoning, allegedly after eating a chicken twister at KFC, was the victim of "disturbing" and "unsettling" practices at the fast-food giant, a court has heard.
Monika Samaan, 11, was seven years old when she developed salmonella encephalopathy and salmonella septicaemia brain damage.
Her family claims the condition was a result of her eating the meal at Villawood KFC on October 24, 2005.
She is now confined to a wheelchair and her family is suing KFC for damages.
Barrister for the Samaan family, Anthony Bartley, SC, told the NSW Supreme Court today that Monika's injuries were caused by salmonella from KFC, an allegation strongly refuted by the company.
"Your honour will hear that, if the store was particularly busy, then if chicken dropped on the floor near the burger station it would on some occasions simply be put back into the burger station from where it had fallen," Mr Bartley said.

"The evidence, your honour, comes from employees of KFC at the relevant time both in the shop at Villawood and other stores."
Mr Bartley said other members of the family had become ill after eating KFC that day and, in the same month of the alleged incident, another 10 people who ate at Villawood KFC reported having food poisoning.
"There is no doubt in this case that what poisoned Monika and left her in the physical condition that she now is [in] is salmonella," Mr Bartley said.
"And there is little or no doubt that chicken was reported by all scientists, at the time of these unhappy events occurring, as being the source of that salmonella," he said.
The court heard that, in the months before the alleged incident, the KFC store in Villawood had rated poorly in internal audits on food preparation and handling.
"It makes you wonder how often you would have to score badly before someone would decide you couldn't operate. If it keeps failing on those potential areas you'd wonder why nothing was done about it," Mr Bartley told the court.
Since the incident, the Villawood store had become a franchise, but was still required to adhere to KFC standards.
As recently as last week, an internal audit had discovered cross-contamination of foods was present in the store, which had scored an overall performance mark of 41 per cent, the barrister said
The hearing, before Justice Stephen Rothman, continues.

Citizen Cope - Sideways

Posted: by fievel in Labels:

Paramore - Decode (acoustic)

Posted: August 3, 2009 by fievel in Labels:

Senior Minister Goh's TOP 10 LIST

Posted: by fievel in Labels: ,

Straits Times featured a top ten list on its front page today, it's SM Goh's top 10 challenges ahead for Singapore. These are my first thoughts on reading the list...honestly, just plain first thoughts.

Ten challenges ahead for S'pore...
1. How to maintain high economic growth and improve living standard?
What is SM Goh's or PAP's definition of "improving living standard"? Get the definition out in the papers for us to understand what we are really working towards. Clearly defined goals get us there better. Enough with the vagueness. So far it seems they got it wrong for most of us...there hasn't been a real change for most of us in the past decade; more trains? Yes...but much much more people...More jobs and more wage? But much much more inflation...
On the contrary, their living standard definitely improved by leaps and bounds. Maybe we should consider paying $2M annual salary to the real experts of "improving living standards". Someone from Norway preferably...

2. How to convince Singaporeans their lives will get better?
Why focus on the convincing? Just make it better already. Enough with the convincing.

3. How to satisfy transport demands of the next generation?
By realizing our growth story cannot depend on continued growth in population, we need real upward growth in productivity, we need to shift away from low wage competition. Then, we'll be fine with the transport as it is even though its horribly crowded, at least we've stopped it from getting worse. Stop adopting irresponsible, short term fixes. Maybe we won't be here to bear the burden when that day comes, but our next generation will. The kids won't want to live in an overcrowded island even if you have MRT trains criss-crossing everywhere. It just sucks!

4. How to stamp out new diseases and keep health-care costs down?
Stamp out new diseases? That's not for us to control. Keeping health-care costs down...again, definition please. Is it the cost to the public coffers or is it the costs to the individual citizen? I hope your answer was - both. This one has me scratching my head.

5. How to design job training programmes and wage supplement schemes for low-income older workers.
Norwegian brother is needed once again. So far we've been pretty sucky at this as well.

6. How to get younger Singaporeans to marry and have children?
How about changing the way people have to either wait 3 - 4 years for a public housing or pay crazy dollars on the market for an older one? No nest=no eggs, Sir.

7. How to support the growing elderly population?
Definitely not by plainly importing younger workers who are not going to stay if u ask them to share this burden one day. Maybe we could invest some of our public coffers into US Treasury bonds rather than letting some woman gamble it away we'll do better with supporting the aged.

8. How to deal with scarce land resources?
Not by bringing in much more people, period.

9. How to bond Singaporeans overseas to their homeland?
They are already bonded, they love coming back every once in a while for a Charkuayteow and marvel at Singapore's progress then go back to their new country. But if you are talking about the kind of bond that bears $$$ value I'm not sure how either. Maybe can give them discount for buying a long term property here to rent out. That way, the first place they'll think of running to when they have got any problems one day would be to come back here. But in all fairness "quitters" shouldn't get more discount than the "stayers", SM Goh.

10. How to ensure Singaporeans of different faiths continue to mix with one another and respect one another's faith?
I think PAP is doing well with the racial harmony project. Religious harmony, shouldn't require too different an approach, no?

Hanging National Flags

Posted: by fievel in Labels: ,

Why do we have so many National flags hanging outside of HDB flats' corridors (especially those facing the roads), multi-storey carparks, neighbourhood centers? Just go look and notice this phenomenon later, note how there is a severe lack of flat owners hanging flags outside their OWN UNIT's windows where the conveniently HDB pre-installed designated flag hooks are... let's leave the condos out because they SERIOUSLY DO NOT hang flags.

Do we have no love for this country anymore? I remember feeling much more patriotic when I was younger...

As for the sight of fresh, crisp flags flown by the RCs and the grassroots volunteers, I hear "propaganda" going off in my head, like ghosts whispering to me...we all know its true, but when you look around you, I must say it works. Everyone slips into this national day celebratory mood...somewhat.

Another blogger, the temasekreview, wrote this...

An amusing paradox: hanging national flags in HDB estates
August 2, 2009
by admin
Filed under Opinion
Leave a comment
From our Correspondent

Every year as 9 August approaches, the grassroots machinery of the ruling party will move into high gear to decorate their respective neighborhoods with the national flags.Extra workers will be employed to hang the flags along the roads, on the decks of multi-storey car parks, at the markets, shops, schools and at every visible corner of the estate. Of late, banners depicting photos of PAP MPs “celebrating” National Day with the residents hung on roadside lamps are ubiquitous throughout the island. (has anybody wondered how much taxpayers’ money has been spent on these ostentatious displays of “patriotism” to ‘celebrate’ national day?)

Grassroots volunteers will come knocking on every household urging them to hang the national flag at their balconies. The community clubs, schools, government buildings will be completely awashed with the national colors of white and red.
The mainstream media will trumpet the achievements of leaders of the ruling party ad nauseum, remind Singaporeans of the “long” way we have since independence and to get the nation into a celebratory mood with daily coverage of the national day parade previews.

Ironically, the few people who seem to be ‘excited’ about National Day are those from the ruling party and its auxillaries. For ordinary Singaporeans in the streets, it is simply another public holiday and for some, a family trip up north to Malaysia.
Malaysia celebrates its national day three weeks after Singapore’s on 31st August and the difference cannot be more obvious. You will see many families displaying the Malaysian flag proudly outside their homes, on the roof of their cars, along the roads and at the stalls. The outpouring of national pride and joy is spontaneous and not orchestrated.

If the degree of patriotism can be judged solely by the number of flags displayed by citizens, then a majority of us will be “unpatriotic”. Just take a look around your neighborhood and you will not fail to realize that you can count the number of flags hung per HDB block with two hands. There are hardly any flags seen hanging outside the units of condominiums.

Some argued that Singaporeans are shy people who seldom reveal their love for the nation openly. Others attribute it to a gradual erosion of civic consciousness and sense of belonging to the country. Singapore’s demographics has changed radically in the last decade with the unremitting influx of foreigners which now made up one third of the population, a quarter of which are PRs. How many of them will take up Singapore citizenship? Are they truly loyal to Singapore or are they merely making use of it as a springboard for greener pastures elsewhere?

The continued political hegemony of the ruling party and exclusion of ordinary citizens from participation in nation-building has led to widespread public apathy and indifference with deepening rifts between the ruling elite and the people. Are we really celebrating 44 years of nationhood or 50 years of PAP rule? (The PAP started ruling Singapore effectively in 1959 when they won 43 out of 51 seats in the Legco elections.)

With each passing year, the number of flags being displayed by Singaporeans outside their homes are getting less and less. Patriotism cannot be instilled overnight by the government, grassroots organizations or mainstream media. It is spontaneous feeling of pride and joy emanating from a deep sense of connection with the land of one’s
birth. We started out as a nation of immigrants and now we are being flooded
by new migrants. The British colonial government is replaced by another nanny
state run by a small exclusive group of elites disconnected with the suffering
of the masses. Singapore is still far away from attaining real nationhood.

Comic Relief

Posted: by fievel in Labels:

Just came across this non-sequiter in a blog. =)


Posted: August 2, 2009 by fievel in Labels: , , ,

Blind Melon - Change

...we all need to some day...

I dont feel the suns comin out today
Its staying in, its gonna find another way.
As I sit here in this misery, I dontThink Ill ever see the sun from here.
And oh as I fade away,
Theyll all look at me and say,
and theyll say,
Hey look at him! Ill never live that way.
But thats okay
Theyre just afraid to change.
When you feel your life aint worth living
Youve got to stand up and
Take a look around you then a look way up to the sky.
And when your deepest thoughts are broken,
Keep on dreaming boy,
cause when you stop dreamin its time to die.
And as we all play parts of tomorrow,
Some ways will work and other ways well play.
But I know we all cant stay here forever,
So I want to write my words on the face of today.
And then theyll paint it
And oh as I fade away,
Theyll all look at me and theyll say,
Hey look at him and where he is these days.
When life is hard, you have to change.

A little CSI into Singapore's wildwildwest world of real estate

Posted: by fievel in Labels:

The kind of democracy we all deserve

Posted: by fievel in Labels: , ,

Indifference by Ben Harper and Eddie Vedder. This song goes out to Singaporeans who believe in democracy..