Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lies, Rumours and FUD in the Internet

What's new anyway. The PAP has its spin, and the idiots in the Internet, which there are legion, have rumours and lies.

Funny that the same people usually cynical about the PAP, do not apply that same cynicism to news critical of the PAP. Rumours and lies about policies and parties are part and parcel of politics, to win voters, to attack opponents. Obama was Muslim was one. PAP was helping DAP win in the recent Malaysian election was another. Fun to hear and spread.

Some people's noses getting longer and longer

The fabrication of a PSI 393 was just out to spread some good old fashion FUD and ripe at the time when Singaporeans were panicky about getting N95 masks, at the detriment of NEA. Pierce reservoir wild boars, dengue mozzies, Indonesian haze, what next? Acid rain! This is not to say we should take everything the government says uncritically, just that we should be equally distrustful of all information and agenda peppered in the Internet as well. Pssst, BTW the rumour is that Indonesia's SBY said sorry to Singapore because his government had a big fat ang pow made up of our taxpayers money, from Vivian. Marty earlier said no Sorry so why the u-turn hor? OK is that the next Facebook meme or are we going to be cynical of that rumour? LOL

Govt debunks PSI rumours
Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin's call: Don't spread false information on the haze.
Wed, Jun 26, 2013
My Paper

A worker wearing a mask holds a stop sign as he directs traffic along the East Coast Park in Singapore as haze engulfs the island state, June 21, 2013.
DON'T spread false information on the haze.

He noted in a Facebook post yesterday that some people have fabricated falsehoods on the haze situation.

These include claims that the National Environment Agency (NEA) changed a three-hourly Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading for 10pm last Wednesday from 393 to the actual value of 321 on its website. A photo of a screenshot with the 393 figure was also shared online.

"It was a lie. The photo was doctored... It is unfortunate that this is happening amid this present situation," he said.

Mr Tan said that if people want to be critical about the situation, "it's fair game".

"But don't fabricate lies. Please. Not in the midst of dealing with issues of public concern and safety," he said.

The Government has been debunking rumours related to the haze on

For instance, it noted there were claims that the PSI readings on NEA's website do not take into account fine particles called PM2.5, but are based solely on PM10 particles. The site said these claims were false.

PM10 refers to particulate matter smaller than 10 microns, while PM2.5 is for particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns. So, PM2.5 is a subset of PM10.

PM10 measures "would also capture what is captured in the PM2.5 readings", so "a rise in PM2.5 levels would reflect a change in the PSI", the site said. PM2.5 is more dangerous than larger particles.

The PSI measures five pollutants: sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and PM10.

The NEA said afternoon showers are expected today and in the next two days.

The 24-hour PSI is likely to be in the moderate range today. But due to elevated PM2.5 levels, the health advisory for the public is in the unhealthy range.

The NEA said rain can "significantly reduce" PM10, but it is less effective when it comes to PM2.5, as those are much smaller. It would therefore take longer for the rain to "wash down" the particles.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Unemployment Low, Don't Worry Foreigners Didn't Steal Jobs

Citizen unemployment rate is unchanged at 2.9%, and about 50,000 citizens were unemployed according to MOMmy. There were also job vacancies, 21,900 (43%) of lobangs in March 2013 were for PMETs and 29,200 (57%) were for non-PMET jobs like cleaners, labourers, service workers. That means there is job and skill or worker mismatch, structural unemployment especially in the blue collar, shift, and physical type of jobs. There are jobs but they are not being filled up. So the intake of foreigners is a cause of unemployment according to those No 6.9 Million herd, or an effect of structural unemployment? Hmmm structural unemployment is a problem that has to be addressed tho. Retraining is the mantra NTUC and the government kept repeating. Is it really working?

Which sectors are hiring? With the number of houses being planned and built, construction (8,400) was among the lead sectors Broadly, services (21,000) were also a big recruiter. What it means is that foreigners are being hired here more tho as locals usually don't go into down and dirty construction and service work. Manufacturing, in contrast, shrank its recruitment.

Redundancy declined and with US economy recovering hopefully if the tapering of QE is a sign in the entrails laid out, that trend is going to hold. As everyone knows, those affected most by redundancy were those 40 and over (more expensive, less productive, slower to learn and adapt) and they formed 2/3 of the entire cohort of those let go in first quarter of 2013). 75.2% of those made redundant were PMETs. So based on statistics and if you want to keep your job if you are over 40, your best chance would be you have a post-secondary (non-tertiary) education instead of a degree. Who says ITE is It's The End LOL. Also helps if you are in the sale, service and clerical line.

Job vacancies up, unemployment low: MOM

SINGAPORE: Job vacancies in Singapore rose in the first quarter of this year while unemployment remained low, revealed a report released by the Ministry of Manpower on Friday.

Singapore’s seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate stayed low at 1.9 per cent in March, compared to the 1.8 per cent registered in December 2012.

The unemployment rate for Singapore residents rose to 2.9 per cent from 2.7 per cent while the citizen unemployment rate remained unchanged at 2.9 per cent.

Long-term unemployment also improved slightly over the year; 13,700 unemployed residents making up 0.6 per cent of the resident labour force in March 2013 had been looking for work for at least 25 weeks, down from 14,000, or 0.7 per cent, a year ago.

Total employment grew by 28,900 in the first quarter of 2013, substantially lower than the seasonal high increase of 44,000 in the last quarter of 2012 but slightly above the 27,200 in the first quarter of 2012.

This brought total employment to 3,386,500 in March 2013, which was a 4.0 per cent increase on-year.

The number of workers made redundant in the first quarter of 2013 stood at 2,120, marking a decrease from the 3,350 workers affected in the preceding quarter and the 2,600 in the first quarter of 2012.

Job openings also rose after declining in the previous quarter, with seasonally adjusted vacancies increasing over the quarter by 17 per cent in March 2013, reversing the decline of 7.0 per cent in December 2012.

The seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons rose from 1.05 in December 2012 to 1.21 in March with the increase in job vacancies.

Ian Grundy, head of marketing and communications at Adecco, commented: "Job seekers clearly have more choices now but they can't get complacent. The best jobs, the good jobs are always going to go quickly and job seekers, even though they have more choices, have still got to negotiate sensibly and seize the right jobs when they come around quickly."

Recruiter Randstad said the rise in job vacancies reflected the strong business confidence in Singapore.

It shows employers are focused on growth and are proving to have the strength in their balance sheets to replace or create new roles as needed, it said.

Randstad added that unemployment remained low as demand for professional talent in Singapore remains buoyant, despite broader economic uncertainty.

With the continued tight labour market, demand for experienced and skilled staff is being felt within the financial services and insurance, information technology, research and development, and the retail and hospitality sectors, it said.

However the HR firm said that "even with the declining layoffs in the past quarter, it remains crucial that jobseekers and current employees do not get complacent and continue to update their skills and qualifications.

"This will not only add value to their workplace, but will also ensure that they remain relevant in today's tight labour market."

The "Labour Market, First Quarter 2013" report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower's website at

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Time Out Between WP and Hawkers, and PAP

The storm in a teacup that made WP look mean and niao. You bet the PAP, with the help of its papers and TV, would look for other little things to chip away at WP's credibility soon, regardless of what achievements underdog WP made or obstacles it faces.

Make no mistake, this AHPETC hawker misunderstanding is a small WP slip, nothing like its FMSS pie in the face. Now that was a serious WP blowback, which was so AIM-like in the poor corporate governance and town council money going from right pocket to left pocket. LOL

BTW what blogger black out today? Why should the PAP tell us what to read and what is objectionable, and bloggers to tell us what they think is objectionable and that they are the blogs to read more as they stood up to PAP? Riiight.

AHPETC, NEA and hawkers agree on cleaning schedule
By Elgin Toh
Thursday, Jun 06, 2013

SINGAPORE - The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) has agreed to bring forward the annual spring cleaning of two Bedok hawker centres from the end of the year to "within a month".

This latest compromise in the three-month-old spat over hawker centre cleaning was announced after a meeting on Thursday afternoon between the National Environment Agency (NEA), AHPETC and hawker representatives.

Hawkers coming out of the meeting told reporters they were happy with the outcome.

Mr Chan Kheng Heng, secretary of the hawkers' association at Block 511 said: "Everything is resolved and we are satisfied."

On Monday, AHPETC had announced a cleaning schedule which said the hawker centres - at Block 511 in Bedok North Street 3 and Block 630 in Bedok Reservoir Road - would be cleaned in October or November.

But the National Environment Agency rejected the proposal on hygiene grounds and called for cleaning for Block 511 to take place in June as originally scheduled.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Khaw Kawbeh on Citizens' Kawbehing

The rush to build flats, flats and more flats, more than 50,000 since 2011, cannot be sustained says our minister Khaw Boon Wan. No shit Sherlock! Facepalm.

Nobody said that HDB should build until glut, just build slightly more than enough to cope. Layperson ball park figure, 5000-10000 flats excess, mix of 3-4 bedrooms in ulu areas scattered across the island. Obviously his predecessor Mah didn't understand that and fucked it up for everyone and his PAP when election time came in 2011. Mah fucked public housing policy more than Khaw did for sure and the former MND minister lost his job.

Besides supply of flats and that has happily pushed up prices for existing flat sellers because of shortage of flats, the other pain to the buyers' wallet is COV. This is cash, not something from CPF and buyers can't take a mortgage loan for it. Loanshark, overdraft, credit card and other unsecured loans can, but not a proper currently low interest rate mortgage loan.

HDB should actually listen, not just hear, people. Sellers can sell their flats at whatever market price they think but buyers should get loans based on the valuation of the flat without any COV, just like buyers of private properties. Both buyers and sellers will be relatively satisfied.

WTF in fact, why should HDB resale flat buyers be penalised for buying flats in this way compared to private property buyers? If the resale flat or a private condo apartment is $1 million, a buyer of a HDB flat is going to pay more cash than if he were to buy a condo, all things equal. That doesn't make a HDB flat sound affordable. No?

Ramped up supply of HDB flats not sustainable in long run: Khaw Boon Wan

SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has been ramping up the number of flats it has launched in the last few years but National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said this number could slow down after 2015 to prevent a glut in the market.

Mr Khaw was speaking to the media on Monday after witnessing the handover of a completed Build-To-Order block in Woodlands from the contractor to HDB.

25,000 BTO flats were launched in 2011 and another 27,000 were launched last year.

While this has helped satisfy the backlog of demand from first and second time home buyers, Mr Khaw stressed this cannot continue.

This year alone, HDB plans to launch at least 25,000 new flats but Mr Khaw said this continued ramped up supply is not sustainable in the long run.

Mr Khaw said he is not worried about a "small glut" forming in the public sector as he wants to help more groups, like singles. He said he hopes to build up an inventory such that flats are ready if there is demand.

While he doesn't foresee a glut happening in the next two years, Mr Khaw cautioned the market need to go back to a steady state.

He said: "Don't expect this 25,000 units per year or the construction ramped up programme to continue forever. It can't be. It is not sustainable, bearing in mind that new family formation is only at 15,000 a year. As we clear the back log, we should be able to move back to the steady state.

"The steady state does not necessarily mean 15,000 units construction per year. Some may prefer to buy resale flats so that they can move in immediately. More importantly, they can select which flats to buy and which areas to buy because their parents might not be in the non-mature estates or their parents might not want to move into non-mature estates so we should always keep those options open."

Mr Khaw also said he is confident that HDB will be able to deliver on the flats it has promised.

This is despite the tightening of foreign manpower into Singapore. Mr Khaw pointed out the use of pre-fabricated components in HDB projects has helped to address this constraint.

Mr Khaw said HDB is on track to deliver the 13,600 units planned for completion this year and he added the effect of the ramped up supply is beginning to be felt this year while the full effect will be felt over the next two years.

About 6,000 HDB residential units have already been completed as of end May.

Mr Khaw said: "The steady state is a sustainable property market. I think property prices will probably always float upwards unless the economy crashes. We hope not to have prolonged recession. So long as economy is growing steadily, wages will go up steadily, and therefore property prices will also go up steadily.

“But there will be times when the asset appreciates much faster than wage increases, like in the last five years, so that is not sustainable. That was a period for happy sellers and very unhappy buyers but we are slowly tilting and hopefully we will reach a happier state, a fairer state between buyer and seller sometime soon."

However, Mr Khaw said what he is concerned about is a glut occurring in the private market.

He noted that a large proportion of private property is taken up by investors who are hoping to rent out their units.

He cautioned that if there is a glut in the market, rental yields could drop very quickly.

This will also cause serious financial trouble for those who have taken up a private loan, especially when global liquidity begins to ease.

Mr Khaw added this is why the Urban Redevelopment Authority's land sales have only been on a six-monthly basis.

"We have to be very nimble, and fairly skilful and also a little bit lucky. So far we have been lucky, but don't count on that for too long," stressed Mr Khaw.

On the ongoing 'Our Singapore Conversation' on housing, Mr Khaw said there have been plenty of suggestions but he addressed some participants' calls to scrap the Cash-Over-Valuation (COV) component for HDB resale flats.

He pointed out the transaction is an agreement between buyer and seller and said if home buyers are keen to pay above valuation, there is little he can to do to prevent it.

"Sometimes, you may love the place so much that (you are) prepared to pay higher – that is how COV crops up. How do I prevent it from happening? If you insist on doing so, (either by) under the counter or giving an 'angpow' (red packet) three days later in a wet market somewhere, how am I going to catch you? So it doesn't work to say let’s ban COV."

Mr Khaw added one thing participants agreed on and are proud of is Singapore's home ownership numbers.

He said in particular, he has been paying attention to the discussion on seniors, as more begin to retire and start to look at how they can get extra pocket money from their homes whether from renting out a room or right sizing their home to a studio apartment.

Mr Khaw stressed that preserving the value of property has practical implications for retirees but capital appreciation has to be reasonable, and not like the last few years.

Mr Khaw added he is working on making BTO flats more affordable.

He hopes to bring down the cost from five years of a couple's annual income to four years but he said home buyers will need to have the right expectations.

"If you engineer the softening of prices, and everybody shifted their expectation where previously they'd buy a three-room and now they'd buy a five-room, then you're chasing tails and the problem will never be solved," said Mr Khaw.

- CNA/fa