Friday, July 27, 2012

NTUC - Brilliant Or Silly Ideas?

Why make our woman workforce less competitive?

"NTUC believes that with 6 months paid leave for working mums, more storks will fly". Is this a smart move or just an academic exercise?

With the current 4 months paid maternity leave, a Singaporean woman who gives birth to two kids in a year effectively works for less than four months in the year as compared to a foreign female worker. She is not only price competitive but less disruptive. 

Given a choice the employer will employ foreign female worker, who cannot get pregnant during her tenure of work here. Why proposed a half-baked solution? 

Perhaps, NTUC should craft and support ideas that allow the men to earn enough so that the women have a choice not to work but have babies instead until such time when she is ready to re-join the workforce.   

Why did NTUC, a national representative of workers, recruit foreigners to work in Singapore? Whose interest is NTUC representing? Wouldn't NTUC do some in-depth research and soul-searching why they cannot find Singaporeans to fill the posts? Is their supposedly fair pay too low to attract locals? 

Spare a thought for Singaporeans and Singaporean workers. It is probably the pay is barely enough to provide for equitable and reasonable standard of living given our high & rising costs of living. 

NTUC has done well fighting for workers welfare and rights and should continue to do so instead of scouring overseas for cheaper workers. It pays to stop behaving like a private enterprise and protect workers rights and well being.

Profit maximization must never be your goal.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stock Market; Where Are We Heading?

Where is the market heading ...

Various indices as at current:

DJIA            12,617                        S&P              1,338         Hang Seng    18,844
Nikkei             8,388                       Shanghai                 2,147        STi                 2,987
KL Bursa        1,647

If the stockmarket is the barometer of the country's health, then the signals of recession may be over soon (not so soon though & no miracles) but not until after a major sell-down.

Unlike the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) 1997/98, where Asia bore the full brunt of the onslaught; distressed assets were sold and restructured, inefficient economic entities collapsed like a deck of cards, bankruptcies rose, currencies were dis-aligned and/or fixed, IMF-aids came with decimating demands and expectations, less decisive leaders lost their authorities and were replaced, limited but definitive social chaos exploded but 'from the ashes rise the phoenix'.

The European Financial Crisis (EFC) 2007/08, like always, did not suffer the same brutalities of AFC. Instead of allowing failed entities to collapse or fire-sold, they were provided with soft life-lines and bailouts. 'Too big to fail' become the slogan! The West did not apply what they applied to the East!

Why was bitter medicine good for the East but not applicable to the West? The world of economics and econometric models have universal application and are not race nor regional bias. The West are selfishly protecting their lifestyle, extravagance and assets against the foreign acquisition 'on the cheap' aka protectionism. They are mired in self-denial

If it's 'Too big to fail', then why do you need IMF bailouts (Asian nations are a big contributor to the Fund) without the bitter medicine that were applied to Asia? Self-serving and protectionist.

US growth is low, Europe is engulf in endemic debts, China has slowed down substantially, Japan is at a standstill (deflationary turned minor inflation), commodities prices have eased and unemployment and underemployment is rampant; globalisation and greed @capitalism have peaked and will take a hit before cures can surface.

We (the World) cannot live on borrowings and handouts and the rich cannot live in a sea of poor.

Will the World experience and survive a 3rd World War? Unlikely but an economic war is inevitable. Protectionism, interventionists policies, proxy wars and regional conflicts, social unrest, uprisings and revolutions will be the norm before order return after massive elimination and sufferings.

Coupled with above, natural disasters and diseases will add further damage to an already depressed globe. Why? You can't prevent natural disasters while Nations selfishly deny existence of diseases, when happens, henceforth allowing it to spread across border. It could be an act of selfishness or deliberate.

2012 is still hopeful; nobody blinks, nobody sinks. 2013 is going to be a tough year with sights of rebounds and recovery. Complacency, greed, selfishness and military gamesmanship will prolong global sufferings; until we accept the interdependency of life & living, sufferings continue.

The World will see its worst by 2016 (economic wars can be as trying as any military adventures).

The World will not end, just that sufferings will increase.

Stockmarkets will take a few hits before recovering,  Its not when! We are in the midst of some major correction; hold tight and make sure you survive this whipsaw! Similarly, the property market will be affected; negative equity will be a norm for some years to come. 

It is not how long or how bad, it is the going through process; can you take the punches?  

Be forewarned. . . there will still be spots of hopes and profits. Everyone wants to make profits but few are prepared.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Casinos & Singaporeans

After denying a license for casino operation for so many years, why did Singapore changed her mind and issued two licenses instead? 

Was it tourism, economic restructuring, job creation, efficient utilization of prime land, a combination of factors or simply, we were at wits end?

Whatever the reasons, any impact study would have highlighted the evils and damages of gambling, gambling addiction and its attendant social ill-effects, including broken families, gangsterism and prostitution. While you can control and manage criminal activities, families break down, and breaking up, due to gambling losses and addiction is fairly unavoidable. 

Except for voluntary debarment, banning Singaporeans from the casinos is not a good solution, not even collecting S$100 entry fee. Like suicides, there will always be a minority who will gamble away their lives. Why should we have beautiful resorts built only for foreigners to use and enjoy? Have more faith in, and trust, Singaporeans to be disciplined enough to enjoy the facilities without gaming side-effects?

How do you grade a person as 'financially at risk'? Whose conclusion was it that the poorer, lower income earners should be banned as compared to high to higher income brackets? The evils of gambling is blind.

The Casino Control Act and/or the National Council on Problem Gambling CCA/NCPG need only to decide if Singaporeans can or cannot visit the casinos once and for all. Revenues aside, this is not about controlling and limiting smoking, and independently thinking Singaporeans are able to decipher what's good or bad for them. The State should stop nannying into every angles of our lives. 

This is not the time to argue about the evils of gambling but to decide if Singaporeans should or should not be allowed to go into the casinos. Why discriminate against some and leave bitter after taste? All other incidental defences and preventive measures against the ill-effects of gambling, like counselling, are useful but symptomatic treatments.

Trust your people, trust your citizens and trust Singaporeans to be able to manage their own lives. Surely, this trust was evident and was one of the comfort before we decided to issue gambling licenses; it cannot be an after thought.

Article published in STforum, 10July 2012

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Singapore - A Nation Divided

 ... the division is getting clearer and more stark as those 'who thinks Father knows best' approach is the best ... 

I am born a Singaporean and shall die a Singaporean.

When I was young, I experienced the tension during the racial riots but 'that was a way of life' then!
I grew up in a village whose peace was broken when drugs were introduced to the teens & 'growing-ups' and gangsters fought for their turfs.
These didn't make me 'one of them' but I have certainly learnt to be smarter and more streetwise.
I am proud and enjoyed the many times I participated in our National Day's parades; thinking and feeling every bit a Singaporean. The belonging that seems hollow nowadays.

My growing up years were filled with challenges; poor but happy, struggling to make ends meet but daily meals were available, however, simple, hawking and finding jobs were easier, costs were manageable, queuing for communal water supply cuts utility costs yet built comradeship and a sense of belonging.

As Singapore moved from labour intensive to capital intensive and value-add industries to service-centric banking, hospitality and health domains, Singapore lost her Soul in the rush! It is not rash to say 'it is for each, themself'! **SAD**

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”  Mark Twain

I can accept changes as part of social and economic evolution but I cannot accept elitism, class division, favouritism and blind loyalty.

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?” Mahatma Gandhi

During tumultuous times, a hard driving independently-thinking leader unites a nation (Suharto @Indonesia, Lee Kuan Yew @Singapore, Marcos @Philippines, Tunku @Malaysia) 国家:为国才为家 The people rally behind their leaders as 'we are one' forging ahead into a promising albeit uncertain future.

Most succeeded but some failed when 为家才为国;没有国那会有家哪?)successes get into their heads; when meritocracy gives way to favouritism, selfish agendas and clanmanship, the Nation decayed and collapsed. It not when, it's how soon?

What is in store for Singapore?

Surely, my 5mil fellowmen can give me enough lessons, opinions and lectures to last my lifetime. There will always be two sides of any arguments and I am not here to change anyone, but I can agree to disagree. We cannot change the past but we can make the future better if forward looking solutions start with "Us" and not "I" (lording over You). Some contentious issues that were not glaring before 1990.

Population - including transit population, we have more than 6 mil; let us make economic sense, gains and multiplier to create jobs and income. What is the point of bringing more people here to feed on a meagre meal?

Talents - it augurs well to correct this misnomer; not everyone who comes to Singapore is a talent. There will always be some jobs that Singaporeans do not like or want, or simply not having the skillsets nor attitude to do; foreigners are welcome to fill this gap. If you keep insisting that your neighbours' kids are more talented than yours, soon they will be calling them 'dad', not you!

Education - education arms the people with skills necessary to climb the social ladder. More should be spent on, and more spaces should be made available to, locals at affordable fees. Let's be real; how many foreign scholars stay to help build Singapore? Like defence, it's nothing like one of our own. Can you safely rely on foreigners for defence? Does it pay to bring in second rated foreigners as scholars only to have them leave? Worse still, some speak ills of Singapore & Singaporeans! 

Jobs - it is fairly hard for a fresh graduate to get an interview let alone a job of their choice. For the 40s - 50s PMETs, it is almost impossible to get a job of similar status and pay, if you loss your job! Anyone care to dispute? When wages are suppressed and the population live below their decent breakeven point, there can only be disquietness and stress. 

Housing - the State must continue to do what she has been doing well all these years, that is, providing affordable housing vis-a-vis the income levels of our aspiring growing-ups and leave the private sector alone. With a roof over the head and a fairly stable job, comes a peace of mind. Storks and creativity shall fly when the mind is less stress. If you cannot even provide enough affordable housing, why worry about shoebox homes developed by the private sector? 

Health - there has to be some assurances that health costs, health care & specialists treatment are affordable to anyone, rich or poor. Shortages of beds and doctor-patients ratio imbalances must be addressed immediately. What comfort can the State give if these problems are recurring; the buck stops here. If everything can be solved by money (assuming everyone has money), the State is redundant. The State does not exist in a vacuum. 

Infrastructure - the supposed talents and powers-to-be miss this by a mile. The lack of maintenance and expansion amidst glaringly sinful profits at our public transportation sectors reek of indifference and profit 'at all cost' like any monopolist, without regards to commuters' welfare and safety.  

Costs of Living - rising inflation, increased costs of essentials and utilities and GST hit the poor most. Why do we need to reinvent the wheel to collect first, then give rebates; Job creation or just creating work to safeguard their jobs? 

If you are in the privilege class, you can enjoy an $8 open heart surgery. If you can afford it, you can buy a $2,000 bike or a $1,200 chair. But, for most of us, we are just living (human) digits in the system, longing for fairness, equity and a sense of proportion.

What is your value proportion?

The cries of the laymen is not a cry in the wilderness. A good leader leads his men to victory and comfort. An excellent leader eats and shares his men's aspirations, feelings and longings.

You can fool all the people sometimes, most of the times but NOT everytime.

A Nation divided will drown into the trash of times. When was the last time you feel belonged and united?

For Singaporeans, by Singaporean

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The World Shall End

Many have tried, none were successful in predicting the end of the World ...

Why worry about end of the World or the 2nd coming when U don't even know if it will rain tomorrow?  The weaknesses of human alas!
The basic of life and living is air, water and food
You came naked and shall return likewise; from dusts to dusts

The glory, the material comfort, the fame, the accolades, the powers
It come and go
Stock markets rise, then collapses. Riches were found and lost
Empire comes and goes

Live well and live fruitfully; live to the fullest
Tomorrow shall come but you might not be around
You may have your money stacked above your height but if you are sick and immobilized, counting your days; is it of any use?人在天堂,钱在银行
We are here but once; when I past this place, I may never return again

The scams, the con jobs and the lies will never hurt you if you are not tempted nor greedy
All promises are, but a, promise until delivered
The glares of fame, showmanship, illusions are porous and hold no water
Everyone claims to be doubly clean, even sanitised! It's a world of 'do whatever you want but don't get caught'

Why worry if the World will or will not end? You will be long gone before anything of such happens
With today's madness and selfishness, the World will self-destruct with our tonnes of nuclear and nuke-powered plants,
The supposedly oppressed, though minority in numbers, will find equalizer-games like 9/11 & Aum Shrinkyo; what will it be liked if they obtain nuke, dirty-bombs and potent viruses
With persistent pollution, we can't have a healthy Earth

Change; we shall
Adapt; we will

Keep your smiles, think positively, live healthily and have a purposeful living

If the World ends, we may meet again in another world ... in another form
I am sticking around

To all GOD loving, GOD bless
No one has ever seen GOD - He could be an imaginary Being bathing us with clouds of peace, sanity & harmony

I always feel He is around ... do U?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Success Vs Failure

The distance between success and failure is ...

How many times did I fail; the many times when I change courses and decided to alight
How many times did I succeed; innumerable as we often did not count successes but harped on failures
What about the near misses or near successes? Nil as these are likely to be unimportant that they became 'nearly done' but were never completed

If failure is miserable, success must be estimably fortunate

Why are poorer families blessed with more children, warmth and belonging
Does it necessarily mean richer families usually have lesser children and are bogged down with material pursuits and chasing their goals? Higher expectations equals higher disappointment
The denominator for happiness are satisfaction, contentment and recognised sufficiency

Having enough doesn't mean no ambition; it's simply recognising the shortcomings and maximizing your strengths
Being satisfied is not laziness of the mind but that the mind deems the rewards are equitable and sufficient

The rich strives to be richer and are frustrated when they fell short of their goals
The poor strives to be rich but are satisfied and recognised their personal shortcomings yet maximizing & stretching their efforts to crystalize their goals

Everyone of us set out to achieve our goals, our mission

Most will end up happy but some will wallow in self-pity and self-destruct

Winning or Losing is a mind game 

So long as you try, the door to success is always open
If the doors are closed, I will use the windows

Nobody can stop you from succeeding but yourself