“Leadership a work in constant progress ” said Mr Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE – The man touted by some to be the next Prime Minister believes that the Republic’s fourth generation leadership is not yet in place, even though it is only eight years away from the deadline that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has set himself to pass on the baton.

In a wide-ranging interview with TODAY, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, 42, yesterday noted that the leadership is still “thin”, despite the induction of himself and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat into the Cabinet after the General Election last year.

Said Mr Chan: “It is a constant search. We have a very thin layer now and it is work in constant progress.”

Reiterating that leadership renewal is a continuing process, the former Chief of Army nevertheless said he was not quite comfortable with the “fourth generation leadership” tag.

Said Mr Chan: “The only slight thing I don’t like about the ‘fourth generation’ term is that it’s as if there is a distinct break.

“But if you look at the way we have organised ourselves over all these years, it’s not a distinct break.”

He added: “Every election we bring in some, we retire some – so there’s always a fresh inflow of new blood, new ideas.”

Describing the batches of national leaders as “first, second, third or fourth generation” also implies a Cabinet built around a particular individual, he felt.

“Of course, the leader plays a part, but more important than the leader is the team. And if you look at the team, there’s a certain continuity,” he said.

Mr Chan added that “it’s not obvious that the next Prime Minister must come from this team, and not another team”. He said: “My position has always been that I’m not worried about the individual. I’m more concerned about the team having the requisite skill sets, so that when called upon, you have the skills.”

The fact that the next Prime Minister will be chosen by his peers in the Cabinet has not stopped speculation that Mr Chan – given his credentials – is the Prime Minister-in-waiting.

On whether he feels added pressure, Mr Chan stressed that he would rather focus on doing good things for the people.

He pointed out: “There can be only one PM but that doesn’t mean that if you are not the PM, you cannot make a contribution to the team.”

On a personal note, he concedes that, not only were his friends surprised that he went into politics, he did not envisage it himself.

Describing himself as “not a political creature”, he said: “I didn’t plan to go into the army. I didn’t expect myself to do well in the army. I didn’t come (into politics) because I want to be the PM, or the Deputy PM. You come in because this bunch of people you (will) work with are honourable people. You want to do some good, make a contribution.”

Govt engagement a work in progress

Amid the changing political landscape, the Government has been increasing its engagement with the citizenry.

While there are detractors who still feel that, in some cases, the Government has already made up its mind before consulting citizens, Mr Chan reiterated that the key lies in finding a “sweet spot”, where there is agreement that it is at an appropriate stage for consultation.

He readily acknowledges that the Government is still feeling its way and noted that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

For instance, public consultation for social safeguards for casinos will be quite different from that for issues involving the redevelopment of Bukit Brown, he said.

And for every person who feels the Government should consult the citizens at a more preliminary stage, there will be others who expect the policy-makers to frame a particular issue before seeking people’s opinions.

Mr Chan also noted that, ironically, any dissatisfaction over the Government’s consultation efforts stems from its desire to constantly pre-empt issues before they snowball into problems.

Citing the building of the eldercare centres as an example, Mr Chan said: “(We) could have avoided these issues politically by not doing anything in the short term.”

He added: “Then, one day, everyone will grow old and, suddenly, there will be a huge clamour for certain services to be provided. When the clamour starts, you will have no political problems, you will have enough political support.”

But, by then, it would be too late, he pointed out.

by Tan Weizhen, Todayonline, Jun 30, 2012
Link :  “Leadership a work in constant progress ” said Mr Chan Chun Sing

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Factory janitor among Taiwan’s big givers


Chao Wen-cheng (fourth from left), who has given US$134,000 to charity since 1979 despite his meagre salary of $500 a month, receiving an award from Taichung mayor Jason Hu (third from left). (PHOTO: TAICHUNG CITY GOVERNMENT)

Chao Wen-cheng (fourth from left), who has given US$134,000 to charity since 1979 despite his meagre salary of $500 a month, receiving an award from Taichung mayor Jason Hu (third from left). (PHOTO: TAICHUNG CITY GOVERNMENT)

A vegetable seller donated NT$10 million (US$334,000) to children’s charities. A factory janitor gave away NT$4 million (US$134,000) over 30 years despite having to raise five children. A veteran soldier, 82, gave his life savings of NT$6 million (US$200,000) to other veterans.

Such stories of extraordinary generosity from the underclass of Taiwanese society have emerged in recent years, drawing international attention and making waves on the island.

The latest is that of Chao Wen-cheng, 68. The factory cleaner from Taichung, central Taiwan, earns a mere NT$15,000 (US$500) a month, and collects scrap for recycling to supplement his income. Yet, he has donated NT$4.05 million (US$135,000) to orphanages and other charities since 1979.

For his acts of kindness, Chao was named by US magazine Forbes last week as one of its 48 “heroes of philanthropy” from Asia this year, alongside such big-name philanthropists as Evergreen Group founder Chang Yung-fa, Chimei Group founder Shi Wen-long and restaurateur Steve Day, all of whom have donated billions of dollars to charitable causes or foundations.

“I’ve been through hardship and never completed my studies,” Chao told Taiwanese reporters, who flocked to interview him at his spartan home after the Forbes citation.

“As long as I see children fed well, have clothes on their backs, are healthy and studying well, I’m happy.”

Chao’s generosity is matched by that of Hung Chung-hai, an 82-year-old military veteran who donated his life savings of NT$6 million to the Cabinet-level Veterans Affairs Commission in 2010.

Hung, who never married and now lives in a nursing home in the eastern county of Hualien, said that he wanted to help veterans’ families living in poverty.

A nurse at the home told reporters that Hung lives frugally. “He would use a towel until it disintegrates,” she said.

Then there is Chen Shu-chu, a vegetable seller in the south-eastern county of Taitung.

Like Chao, she grew up in poverty and had to drop out of school. And like Chao, she has donated millions – NT$10 million as of 2010 – to charity while earning a modest income and living a threadbare existence herself.

Hung and Chen have been honoured by Forbes and Time magazine as notable charity- givers too.

Beyond such headline-making acts, there are frequent reports of ordinary Taiwanese going out of their way to help others.

Earlier this week, for example, five-year-old Soong Hsin-ni was one of those honoured at a press conference by the Taoyuan county government for donating NT$200,000 – from years of saving up money from her Chinese New Year hongbao – to schoolchildren whose parents are too poor to give them pocket money.

The Taiwanese have displayed similar generosity to the less well-off beyond their shores: In the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster last year, Taiwanese donated US$260 million (US$8.68 million) to the victims, more than anyone else in the world.

Commenting on the Taiwanese reputation for charity, President Ma Ying-jeou said that humanitarianism has become a part of Taiwan’s international image.

“We have more than 40,000 non-profit organisations, up to a million volunteers providing services at home and overseas… and our people donate over NT$35 billion to charity each year,” he said in his speech at the centennial celebration of the founding of the Republic of China, Taiwan’s official name, on October 10 last year.

Sociologist Peng Huai-chen sees the widespread altruism as the product of historical immigration and reliance on oneself instead of the government.

“Taiwan is an immigrant society. So, unlike in traditional agrarian societies where family and social networks are relatively stable, people here have learnt to be nice to those beyond their immediate circles,” said Associate Professor Peng of Tunghai University in Taichung.

“Moreover, whereas in Singapore where the people tend to expect the government to take care of the less fortunate, in Taiwan the government is less highly regarded, so many Taiwanese feel that they can rely only on themselves.”

For people like Chao and Chen, who give disproportionately more, charity has become the meaning of life, said Peng.

As Chao, who has won himself the moniker ‘Glory of Taiwan’, said: “I will never retire from my job, or from helping people in need.”

Lee Seok Hwai
The Straits Times, Publication Date : 29-06-2012
Link : ANN,  Factory janitor among Taiwan’s big givers

Tunisia’s economy : Losing direction

IN CASE anyone thought Islamists only dealt in ideology, Tunisia’s government, headed by the moderate Islamists of Nahda, was keen to show its attentiveness during a recent visit by Joseph Stiglitz, formerly the World Bank’s chief economist and an adviser to the Clinton administration. Sharing a platform with the prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, the finance minister, Houcine Dimassi, and the central bank governor, Mustapha Nabli at an event on June 23rd, Mr Stiglitz hinted that Tunisian policymakers should resist the temptation to create too many public-sector jobs, and should target subsidies.

Mr Nabli (pictured), who has also worked at the World Bank, took up his role at Tunisia’s central bank immediately after the revolution that overthrew President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. He took the opportunity of Mr Stiglitz’s visit to

  • assert that it had been his “flexible” monetary policy, in those rocky months after the revolution,
  • which had saved Tunisia’s banking sector and its tiny financial markets from meltdown.
  • More than $400m of bank deposits had been withdrawn in those early months, he said.
  • The central bank had also come to the rescue, he added, when local authorities faced a cash crunch after the ousting of regional governors, mayors and councillors by the populace.

This sounded like a swan-song, and so it proved. Mr Nabli’s long-rumoured dismissal was announced on June 27th, and will take effect within a fortnight after its approval by the constituent assembly.

  • Journalists critical of the government—of whom there is no shortage in Tunis—have construed his dismissal as politically motivated and the latest example of the Islamist-led government’s ignorance of the ways of the world.
  • It will be difficult, it was argued, to find a replacement with Mr Nabli’s international credibility and one who will so trenchantly defend the central bank’s independent decision-making.

Mr Stigliz’s endorsement of his fellow World Bank alumnus had been polite rather than enthusiastic. And as someone who had served as a minister under Mr Ben Ali in the 1990s, Mr Nabli was never going to be viewed with much enthusiasm by the Nahda-led government that was elected last October. There have also reportedly been differences between a central bank committee and other policymakers over the best way to manage assets confiscated from Mr Ben Ali and others implicated in the corruption of those years.

Meanwhile, Mr Dimassi, the finance minister, has been warning for months that jobs created as part of a government effort to deal with youth unemployment will have to be real ones—and not just the tens of thousands of positions that are part of the dramatically expanded “chantiers” (“work-yard”) schemes presently biting into the current account. These offer unskilled, temporary work in forestry, road construction, cleaning of government offices etc, and received extra funding under the interim government of Beji Caid Sebsi last year. Not all the funding, it seems, has been reaching its intended targets.

As pockets of instability persist in regions where unemployment is highest,

  • Tunisia’s conservative, family-owned industrial groups are holding back from investing there.
  • Some of them also await clarification from the authorities as to whether they face prosecution for dealings with the former regime.
  • But until Tunisian companies themselves start investing in these marginalised parts of the country, foreign investors will likewise hold back.

Source : The Econmist, Jun 28th 2012,
Link :  Tunisia’s economy  : Losing direction

Growth has brought foreigners, and foreigners have brought growth

“London attracts foreigners partly because it lies off the coast of a continent where bad things have happened horribly often”

IN A STUDIO in the basement of an empty office block overlooking the Olympic Stadium, a group has assembled. The regular monthly gathering, entitled “Mere Coincidence?”, is organised by Fintan Friel, an Irish artist who likes to bring people together; and its title gestures nicely towards the billions of fruitful encounters between people from different parts of the globe that happen in London.

A Spanish artist is showing his paintings; a Bulgarian who sells handbags at Selfridges, a department store, admires them. An Iranian artist offers crudités. A South Korean slips past to get to work in the studio next door. He is said to be a robotics genius but keeps himself to himself. A Texan woman with blue hair sings a Mozart aria. She is studying cultural entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths College. Out of 52 people on her course, she says, there are four Britons, one of whom is called Abdullah.

London was invented by foreigners. The Romans established a colony in 43AD on an easily bridged bend in the Thames. Boudicca, leader of the Iceni tribe and an early opponent of immigration, burnt it to the ground 17 years later. But it grew back; and thereafter it became a magnet for foreigners, partly because it was a convenient trading post and partly because it lay safely off the coast of a continent where bad things happened horribly often.

The locals occasionally followed the Iceni in rising up against the latest arrivals: there were riots against Jews in the 13th century, the Flemish in the 14th, the Italians in the 15th and so on until the Notting Hill riots against West Indians in 1958, the most recent ostentatiously xenophobic disturbance. Yet those episodes may say more about Londoners’ tendency to riot than about their attitude to foreigners. Certainly, Voltaire thought it a pretty tolerant place in the 18th century:

Take a view of the Royal Exchange in London, a place more venerable than many courts of justice, where the representatives of all nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian transact together, as though they all professed the same religion, and give the name of infidel to none but bankrupts.

But though London is used to immigration, the scale and nature since the mid-1990s has changed. Previous waves of immigrants—the Huguenots in the 17th century, the Jews at the end of the 19th, the West Indians in the 1950s and 1960s and the South Asians in the 1970s and 1980s—tended to come from one particular region. Now they come from everywhere.

That diversity is hardly unique. More than a third of Londoners (up from 18% in 1987) were born abroad, but so were more than a third of New Yorkers, and they, too, come from a great variety of places. Yet whereas New York’s founding myth is of an immigrant city, London regards itself as the home of an island kingdom’s monarchy (conveniently forgetting that most of its dynasties were immigrants). And London’s high levels of immigration are both more recent than New York’s and different in that its new arrivals are rich as well as poor.

The scale of recent immigration separates modern London not just from its past but also from the rest of the country: two-fifths of Britain’s migrants live in London, and in the rest of Britain only 8% of the population are foreign-born. “I’m the most diverse person in the village,” notes a Scottish company director who has recently moved to rural Sussex.

There are many reasons for the flood. Disruption—wars in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan—and repression drove some people from their homes. Liberation—the collapse of the Soviet Union and the expansion of the EU—brought others. Growing wealth, especially in emerging markets, brought still more.

History and geography drew them to London. The empire spread the English language around the world, created the financial centre and attracted millions from Britain’s former colonies. A tradition of political liberalism ensured a welcome to people seeking sanctuary from nasty regimes. The time zone—conveniently positioned between America and Asia—encouraged the growth of the financial-services sector.

The international nature of the City’s business in part explains the foreigners’ wealth. According to a senior banker who has worked in both New York and London, “80% of the dealmakers in Wall Street, and 90% of the deals they are doing, are American. In the City [of London] 65% of the dealmakers are foreign and 90% of the deals have an international element.”

A trusted legal system, stable politics and an honest bureaucracy are especially valued by those who have made money in countries that have none of these. “It is a huge source of comfort to our clients that our contracts are drawn up under English law,” says Ileana Gratsos, a Greek-born, London-based provider of luxury Greek villas to people all over the world. “Every time you sell to a client, you’re selling a bit of England.”

Lower levels of regulation than in continental Europe have attracted entrepreneurs. There are reckoned to be 300,000-400,000 French people in London, making it the sixth-biggest French city. The tax policies of France’s new president, François Hollande, are expected to bring still more. More than 4% of the residents of Kensington and Chelsea are now French, and the borough has a French lycée.

London is more welcoming than New York to rich foreigners. The attractions of the “non-dom” regime, under which the taxman ignores the offshore earnings of those who are domiciled elsewhere, have been reduced by the imposition of a levy of £30,000 a year on those who have been resident for seven years, rising to £50,000 after 12 years’ residence; still, it retains its appeal for the very rich. Britain’s regulators are less nosy than America’s, and foreigners are generally free to buy its best properties, whereas in many Manhattan apartment blocks existing residents can veto new ones. London does not care where people’s money comes from, so long as there is plenty of it.

Previous waves of immigrants—West Indians and South Asians—tended to be poor, whereas recent arrivals are concentrated at the top as well as the bottom: there are more investment bankers and cleaners among the foreign-born than the local population. They are also younger and better educated. “The Impact of Recent Immigration on London”, a study by the London School of Economics (LSE) published in 2008, showed that among migrants who had arrived in the previous three years, 61% had graduate-level qualifications, against 30% of native Londoners, and only 7% had no qualifications at all, against 24% of natives. Even the children of the earlier, poorer, immigrants are generally doing well (see chart 2): Bangladeshis have just overtaken whites, and black Africans are nearly on a par with them.

A richer mix

All this has changed London utterly. It has created a new elite: foreigners, or recently naturalised Britons, dominate the best neighbourhoods and the best schools (see article). It has altered the sound of the streets: English is not the first language of 22% of Londoners and 42% of London children. It h s given rise to “multicultural London English”, as the linguists call it—a mix of Cockney, Jamaican and other languages spoken by the young of all ethnic groups. It has transformed London’s food: a city once famous for its inedible cuisine now has better restaurants than Paris or Rome. It has led to the growth of Islamist extremism and the occasional assassination of Russians.

It has also redrawn London’s map. London has always been a city of villages, but now those villages are ethnic. The Koreans are in New Malden; the Portuguese in Stockwell; the Arabs in Bayswater; the Turks, Kurds and Turkish Cypriots in Haringey, Hackney and Islington; the Bangladeshis and Pakistanis in Tower Hamlets and Newham; the Indians in Southall and Wembley; the Jamaicans in Brixton; the Nigerians in Peckham; and so on.

David Goodhart, the director of Demos, a think-tank, argues that this has made London a fissile place. He points to studies that show lower levels of social cohesion in places with high levels of immigration. But last year’s riots were a picture of multiracial harmony, with black and white looting side by side. And immigration seems to have little impact on London’s wider politics. Other things being equal, immigrants are more likely to vote Labour than the population as a whole, yet the rise in London’s migrant population did not stop the Tories’ Boris Johnson from taking the mayoralty from Labour’s Ken Livingstone in 2008 and holding on to it earlier this year. At the same time the far-right British National Party, which might be expected to benefit from rising immigration, lost its only seat in London’s assembly.

Economically, London’s openness to the rest of the world seems to have had four broad effects. It has pushed up house prices (of which more later), and it has made the city less equal, more productive and more resilient.

The rise in inequality is due partly to the concentration of immigrants at both ends of the economic scale, but the LSE study suggests that the arrival of lots of poor people has also depressed wages. Rates of economic inactivity in London are also on the high side compared with the rest of Britain. That may be because some of the immigrants come from societies where female employment levels are low. Unemployment is also fairly high. That may be because the combination of low wages, expensive housing and state benefits create a poverty trap that discourages people from working.

The LSE study concluded that immigration had probably increased productivity because skilled migrants had relieved bottlenecks in the labour market. Various surveys of employers come to the predictable conclusion that migrants are better employees: they are more highly skilled, work harder and are prepared to do jobs that locals disdain. They may also be more innovative. In America they are disproportionately responsible for tech start-ups; similarly, they are over-represented in Silicon Roundabout, the tech hub east of the City, according to Harry Marr of GoCardless, a payments company, which “is about half white British blokes, the rest are mostly European, with one Japanese guy”. Max Nathan, a researcher at the LSE who has surveyed 7,400 companies in London, has found that firms set up or managed by migrants are more innovative. “There is a small but significant ‘diversity bonus’ for London,” he says.

Foreigners may well have helped to mitigate the impact of the recession on London.

  • First, migrants make an economy flexible. When demand for labour falls, some of them leave: the Polish plumber, who became a fixture of the London building trade after his country’s accession to the EU, disappeared after the 2007-08 financial crisis.
  • Second, foreigners’ money has fuelled demand for services, held up property prices and kept afloat development projects that would otherwise have folded.

Just completed, the Shard, a sliver of glass on the bank of the Thames south of the City, is the EU’s tallest building, but it nearly came a cropper. The developer, Irvine Sellar, a Londoner who made his first fortune in Carnaby Street in the 1960s, was going to finance the development with bank loans, which evaporated after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Qatari investors stepped into the breach and now own 80% of the development. “I don’t think it would have been built without them,” says Mr Sellar. Similarly, Dubai’s port authority, DP World, is building Britain’s largest container port, London Gateway, on the estuary of the Thames. It is due to open next year, but had it been financed by debt, it would probably not have survived the crash.

Foreigners have not just transformed the city’s society and economy. They are also changing its shape.

Source : The Economist, Jun 30th 2012
Link :  Growth has brought foreigners, and foreigners have brought growth

On Kong Hee, the inner circle of 5 from CHC’ Saga : why ‘Sinners’ are not treated equally

Death of A Halo: Of Kong Hee, CHC, and Christianity

Excerpts :

And I wanted to shake everybody out of their knee-jerk reactions: the Christians who poured scorn upon the church, the non-Christians making a casual joke out of somebody else’s misery, the CHC members in painful denial.

Because it has been this way for too long, really, I think. And it’s time to acknowledge the truth.

Listen, please, CHC members:

  • This is not a matter of the world trying to persecute you.
  • There is no devil trying to turn hearts against the church,
  • there is no anti-CHC agenda,
  • there is no media witchhunt out to crucify Kong Hee for crimes he didn’t commit.

His crimes were serious: financial fraud, the misuse of donated monies, the appropriation of organizational funds into a personal bank account. This is a simple matter of a man who might have started out with pure intentions but then got greedy and then got scared and tried to hide the matter from the light of day, because he knew that the matter could not stand the light of day.

It’s okay to admit that Kong Hee made a mistake. It’s painful but important. It doesn’t discount that fact that he might have helped many other people, that CHC has helped the poorest of the poor, the handicapped and the mentally retarded and the depressed, yes.

It does not take away from all the good that he did. But the good does not outweigh the mistake either.

The mistake exists, and it cannot be ignored or swept under a carpet.

by Samuel Caleb Wee 
Link :  Death of A Halo: Of Kong Hee, CHC, and Christianity.
***********************************************************************

On the Kong Hee scandal

Excerpts :

Just some thoughts on Kong Hee and friends.

First of all, I find it ironic that it is the people outside of City Harvest Church, most of whom have never donated a single cent to the Church, who are expressing the most angst and fury. 

  • It is good to want to see justice done, but what is this impassioned hatred for?
  •  Because CHC is big?
  • Because their converts are persistent?
  • Because you “just don’t like them”?
  • Because China Wine sounds bad to you?

Second,

  • I don’t understand why many CHC members are in denial and insisting that Kong Hee and friends are decidedly innocent and that God will acquit them, when the verdict is not out.
  • Of course, not all CHC members are making such statements and representations, but a significant portion is doing so,
  • enough to give the public perception that they are – as the public gleefully expects – lending blind support to their leaders despite the incriminating facts suggesting otherwise.
by joeljoshuagoh
Link : On the Kong Hee scandal
***********************************************************************

 ‘Sinners’ are not treated equally

Kong Hee’s blind faith in his wife’s singing has parted the Marina Barrage, there are several lessons and unhealthy patterns in Singaporean (or maybe any) society.

This blog  ( On the Kong Hee scandal ) like many others include arguments we can agree with and also disagree, but my main point is that ‘sinners’ are not treated equally.

The GOOD:
– Kong Hee & pals – in spite of Geisha Ho, there are people who will see the goodness & forgive.

– Yaw SL & WP – in spite of the women & sex, there are people who will vote WP & forgive.

The EVIL:
– Mah BT & Wong KS – no flat no terrorist
– Those who invited foreigners
– Those who didn’t cater for monsoons
– Baey YK & the dog whisperer – he is hounded by wild dogs
– 48 with under 18 – disgrace of the elite & the rich
– Woffles Wu – plastic surgery won’t repair his life
– SCDF Chief – putting out the wrong fire
– DPM Teo & 17 yr old – well, “What do you think?”

Why do some like Kong Hee have supporters who will vouch for his integrity & continue to eat with him while the

PAP & those without die-hard supporters are not allowed similar kindness for its perceived cock-ups?

by a netizen
***********************************************************************

I just want to see the law being carried out, all the forgiveness can come later.

Its just a case of 旁观者清. When those within are openly supporting him and “are in denial and insisting that Kong Hee and friends are decidedly innocent”, it is just going to make reinforce the outsider’s idea that they were indeed blinded.

Did you see Howard Shaw’s family, or his employees out in full force to protest his innocence, or to tell the rest of the outsiders to shut up, or to block the media from doing their jobs?

I just want to see the law being carried out, all the forgiveness can come later. And lest I forget, the alleged misappropriation of church funds by Kong Hee and his inner circle does NOT negate all the good that they have done so far. Similarly, all the good they have done so far is not a fair reason to explain away their alleged misdeeds. Its only a mitigation factor. And mitigation is done AFTER a person has been convicted, before sentencing. Not prior.

by a netizen

*Related Article*

Let’s Consider: Minimum Wage for Singaporeans?


Minimum wage has been a point of contention for many. The crux of this idea is to protect low-wage workers and guard exploitation by unscrupulous employers. It sounds like a simple, easy solution to compel all employers to comply with paying a minimum price salary.

In considering it’s feasibility, here’s a snapshot to guide us to what’s happening on the ground:

–    I have encountered at least one individual who claims to be paid $300 a month for a full time cleaner job

–    There exists elderly and transient workers who are paid only several hundred dollars for full time work. Actual numbers are difficult to tally; no one will declare these figures. However, these are usually small companies because any well sized one is under public and union scrutiny.

I’ve also spoken around with people who are both pro and anti minimum wage. Here are some of their thoughts:

–    Many would lose their jobs as employers would start consolidating their manpower, making people work more

–    Manpower becomes a commodity, companies might use the salary floor as a benchmark and are discouraged from paying more for better skills

–    Inflation may rise as companies start transferring costs to the paying public

Malaysia has recently introduced a minimum wage of RM$900 – this will be interesting to study in a later to observe impact.

Closer to our economy is Hong Kong: which has had introduced minimum wage (of HK$28 per hour, about S$5) for about a year now. If you’re interested in a full-article of how Hong Kong has turned out, have a read at this link (http://www.timeout.com.hk/big-smog/features/50262/the-28-minimum-wage-one-year-on.html).

For those of you with much less time, I have condensed the article into point form for your easy reading:

–    Hong Kong established minimum wage in 2011.

–    There has been no increase in unemployment rates (though widely predicted)

–    There has, however, been higher inflation. Since this is out of the ordinary, it is believed to be related to minimum wage

–    Real impact affects the lowest paid industries: competition for workers has increased, because more are attracted to easier work and higher pay – such as security guards. Quote security guard Yu, “Even young people are looking to be a security guard… it is highly competitive in the industry these days”.

–    Because of minimum wage induced inflation, the benefit of increased salaries neutralizes because goods now cost more

–    Manpower has now become a problem. Since wages are now the same, people tend to flock to larger companies where there are more benefits over the wages.

–    Workers now find their workload much heavier because companies now cut the number of workers.

My Thoughts
Rather than a minimum wage, I’d prefer the National Wages Council to keep a more watchful eye on exploitation of workers; transient or otherwise.

Currently, another problem at hand is unrealistic salary expectation – if you are employer, chances are you have experienced this (frequently): Many people price their salaries on their age rather than their experiences, skills or abilities.

I sincerely wish that NWC actively promote, take action and consider perhaps setting up whistle-blower channels to alert industry, public and unions about employers who are exploiting manpower.

Minimum Wage, I am inclined to believe, is not necessary. If you weigh the pros and cons, this blanket policy is an easy way out. It is more of a populist tool to win votes rather than a genuine interest in helping others. There are far better ways to protect the interests of a few, rather than a blanket policy that will affect all.

Article 23 of the Declaration of Human Rights states that:

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

And this, is what I would support: a flourishing economy, a wide range of jobs, more choices, more opportunities to fulfill ambitions and to keep unemployment rate low. I want to see a society that cultivates more successful, intelligent, thinking Singaporeans who command good salaries.

We are people, we are proud of what we do, we have value.

We are not commodities on sale.

by Five Star and a Moon (blog)
Link :  Let’s Consider: Minimum Wage for Singaporeans? 

Singapore to get some foreign banks to incorporate locally

(Reuters) – Singapore said on Thursday that foreign banks with a relatively large share of deposits in the city-state will be required to locally incorporate their retail operations, forcing them to commit capital here.

The new rules will apply to foreign banks that are important to the domestic market and which operate under Singapore’s so-called Qualifying Full Bank (QFBs) licence, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a speech to bankers attending an industry dinner.

QFBs enjoy greater privileges such as being able to open several branches in the city-state and accept retail deposits. In contrast, most other foreign banks are restricted to just one outlet in Singapore.

The latest announcement by Singapore is part of a global trend following the 2008 financial crisis for countries to ensure local depositors are better protected.

This will make it more expensive for banks as they will lose the benefit of managing their capital bases centrally.

Tharman, who is also the finance minister, said the central bank would consider granting foreign banks that incorporate locally and are sufficiently localised to open an additional 25 places of business, of which up to 10 may be branches.

Of the QFBs operating in Singapore, Citigroup is the only one that is incorporated locally, while Standard Chartered has announced plans to do so.

Other banks who operate under the QFB programme that allows them more branches in Singapore are Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, BNP Paribas, HSBC , ICICI Bank Ltd, Malaysia’s Malayan Banking Berhad and State Bank of India.

The government wants the local banks to maintain no less than 50 percent of local deposits, he said, reiterating a long-standing position.

By forcing these foreign banks to commit capital in Singapore, these banks may decide to compete more aggressively and provide more competition to local lenders DBS Group , United Overseas Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.

“It is still too early for us to comment but we always welcome healthy competition,” said OCBC CEO Samuel Tsien.

(Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Kevin Lim)
Link :  Singapore to get some foreign banks to incorporate locally