Monday, March 31, 2014

China's Anguish

Relatives of Chinese passengers on MH370 has been accusing the M'sians of duplicity and incompetence in the handling of the missing plane. Some of the accusations are probably justified (the incompetence at least), but certainly some accusations were excessive. Over the top. Even unfair. 

Now a voice of rationality, and an explanation.

Is Singapore too business friendly for local firms?

Mar 30, 2014

With no entry barriers, S'pore companies face full brunt of global competition

By Han Fook Kwang, Editor At Large

Singapore is one of the easiest places in the world to do business.

That's an achievement the country is proud of, and it is a key part of its successful economic strategy.

The more attractive it is for companies to set up shop here, the more economic activity will be generated, with more jobs and income for all.

There couldn't be a more straightforward and uncontroversial approach to growing the economy.

The funny thing is that of late, I have been hearing more Singapore companies complain that Singapore has been so successful doing this, the policy is working against them.

And you thought local enterprises should be the first to champion the business-friendly environment.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

China likely to assert historical claims in maritime disputes, says Lee Kuan Yew


March 29

SINGAPORE — A rising China will not allow its sea boundaries to be decided by external parties and will assert its position by claiming historical rights to disputed waters in the South China Sea, says former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

“It is naive to believe that a strong China will accept the conventional definition of what parts of the sea around it are under its jurisdiction,”
wrote Mr Lee in an article in the April issue of Forbes magazine.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

MH370: Final Update

[A final compilation of news stories. M'sia has concluded that the plane is lost at sea, specifically the southern Indian Ocean. However their incredible history of contradicting themselves will mean some family members will still hang onto hope.

But perhaps for others, there will be closure. They can start to grieve properly. And then, they can get on with their lives.

And one final theory.

This will be the final update until the plane has been found, or there are concrete evidence of where the plane has gone down.

Where is MH370? This is the visual data from Bloomberg.]

MH370: ‘No survivors’


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

N.S.A. Breached Chinese Servers Seen as Security Threat


MARCH 22, 2014

WASHINGTON — American officials have long considered Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, a security threat, blocking it from business deals in the United States for fear that the company would create “back doors” in its equipment that could allow the Chinese military or Beijing-backed hackers to steal corporate and government secrets.

But even as the United States made a public case about the dangers of buying from Huawei, classified documents show that the National Security Agency was creating its own back doors — directly into Huawei’s networks.

Search for missing jet exposes limit of China’s power

March 24.

BEIJING — China has not held back in forcing the pace of the search for the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. It has deployed 21 satellites and a flotilla of naval ships. It has despatched investigators to Malaysia, run background checks on the Chinese passengers and scoured radar images of its vast western regions. Every day it has cajoled, chided and criticised Malaysian officials.

And still it has come up empty-handed. Two weeks after the plane vanished on an overnight flight to Beijing, no trace of the Boeing 777 jet or the 239 people on board, two-thirds of whom are Chinese, has been found.

Don’t Turn This Malaysian Airlines Pilot Into Flight 370’s Richard Jewell

Mar 17, 2014

The Daily Beast

There was a rush to make him a monster. Judging by the life he left online, the pilot of MH 370 was anything but.

3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin


MARCH 23, 2014


WASHINGTON — Bill Clinton found him to be cold and worrisome, but predicted he would be a tough and able leader. George W. Bush wanted to make him a friend and partner in the war on terror, but grew disillusioned over time.

Barack Obama tried working around him by building up his protégé in the Kremlin, an approach that worked for a time but steadily deteriorated to the point that relations between Russia and the United States are now at their worst point since the end of the Cold War.

Monday, March 24, 2014

MH370: A mystery, with some revelations

Mar 23, 2014
Restoring sense of security calls for right lessons to be drawn

It is now more than two weeks since Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished from the face of the earth, and while hope remains that it might be found, we seem no closer to solving the mystery of what happened, or why.

The mounting anguish of the families waiting for news on their lost loved ones is painful to watch, as is the floundering of the authorities in the face of the searing questions that have inevitably come.

Many have mocked the response, from confusing statements and changing positions to the comic antics of shamans, to the flood of leaks and clarifications, with each day seeming to bring a new lead, theory or explanation.

Those of us looking on might well wonder what would have happened if the ill-fated flight had taken off from Changi Airport instead.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Don't swallow 'fats are fine' line

Mar 23, 2014

Potential flaws in study that concludes saturated fats do not raise heart risks

By Andy Ho Senior Writer

For years, we have all been told to avoid "bad" saturated fats, especially trans fats, because they increase heart disease risks. Solid at room temperature, these are found in butter, cheese, ice cream, fatty cuts of meat and processed foods.

We have also been told to substitute them with "good" polyunsaturated fats to lower heart risks. These fats are liquid at room temperature like olive oil and they are also found in nuts, seeds and some fish.

But last week brought news of a study published in a top journal, the Annals of Internal Medicine, which found there is no relationship between fats and heart risks.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

MH370 flight path as tracked? And likely timeline.

The following info were comments and links provide at PPRuNe forum, extracted for reference.

Make of the maps and markings as you like. I cannot explain the markings/legends.

The projected flight path (bold red line in first map) is estimated as the plane was tracked by military radar - Malaysia's and corroborated by Thailand (that such an object/plane was detected by radar). However Thailand claims the aircraft never intruded into Thai airspace, but a straight line from Igari Waypoint to Vampi would have cut into Thai airspace. If Thai statement is true, then the path would not be a straight line.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

MH370 - separating facts from speculation

Infographic from CNA - summarises the known facts about plane and the last electronic communication.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A working hypothesis? Or just more speculation? MH370

Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Evidence Points To Takeover

The Associated Press


There are three pieces of evidence that aviation safety experts say make it clear the missing Malaysia Airlines jet was taken over by someone who was knowledgeable about how the plane worked.


One clue is that the plane's transponder — a signal system that identifies the plane to radar — was shut off about an hour into the flight.

Grad expectations

Mar 16, 2014

The expectation gap between graduates and employers has been aired over many decades and yet it persists. Graduates seek higher pay, status and career advancement. They expect degrees to deliver all these on a silver platter as in the past. But that was when degree holders were in short supply. Their ranks have swelled considerably over the years and now employers find many with tertiary qualifications are ill-suited for a fast-changing marketplace.

Monday, March 17, 2014

'Massive compassion deficit' in S'pore?

Mar 16, 2014

British writer recounts unpleasant experience on MRT, sparking talk on graciousness here

By Maryam Mokhtar

FREELANCE writer and self-described food lover Charlotte Ashton jumped at the chance to relocate from London to Singapore last year, she says in the biography section of her website.

The Oxford University graduate and former BBC reporter and her husband were happy here until one day, in her 10th week of pregnancy, she felt nauseous while taking the train to work and ended up crouching for 15 minutes because no one offered her a seat.

"For the first time, Singapore had made me feel unhappy. I had been vulnerable - completely reliant on the kindness of strangers. Singaporeans, I felt, had let me down," she wrote.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Costliest city? But can it be home to citizens?

Mar 16, 2014

That is the enormous challenge Singapore faces as it joins the ranks of top global cities

By Han Fook Kwang, Editor At Large

Singapore is the most expensive city in the world.

True or false?

This debate was one of the most-watched spectator sports last week, and is still making the rounds.

The different reactions to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey were more interesting than the result itself because of what they say about this evergreen cost-of-living issue.

In one camp are those who rubbished the survey, accusing it of using flawed methodology and making invalid comparisons across cities.

China's Frustration (MH370)

Two articles on China's impotent fury and inability to influence or affect the outcome of the MH370 search.

CNA: Malaysia under fresh fire over handling of plane crisis

16 Mar 2014

BEIJING: China spearheaded fresh criticism on Sunday of Malaysia's handling of a missing airliner drama, saying it "squandered" precious time and resources by releasing dramatic information on the plane's fate a full week after it vanished.

Prime Minister Najib Razak revealed a day earlier that an investigation indicates Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was deliberately diverted and flew for several hours after leaving its intended flight path, though he stopped short of saying it was hijacked.

The startling revelation after a week of confusion and competing theories, prompted questions over how long Malaysian authorities had been privy to the new data, and whether they had missed an opportunity to intercept the diverted plane.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

MH370 update 15 Mar

Mar 15, 2014

Update on missing Malaysia Airlines MH370: PM Najib Razak's statement in full

KUALA LUMPUR - On Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met international media for the first time to give an update on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Here is the full text of his statement:

Budget 2014: Top 20 measures


A raft of policy changes was announced over the past three weeks, from the Budget statement on Feb 21 to yesterday’s sitting. They concern Singaporeans from all walks of life, and companies. Here is our pick of 20 new measures. (Singapolitics)
Mar 14, 2014

A fair and equitable society
1. $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package
  • Medisave top-up of $200 to $800 a year.
  • MediShield Life premium subsidy from 40 per cent to 60 per cent.
  • Extra 50 per cent off subsidised outpatient bill.
  • Disability assistance of $1,200 a year.

Friday, March 14, 2014

How not to handle a Crisis

In a crisis, accurate information and facts will often be lacking, and the absence of accurate information will mean that rumours and gossip will attempt to fill the vacuum. Information management and misinformation management is key. There is no simple answer as to what is the correct way of handling information and misinformation, except to say, coordinate your efforts, check your facts, and clear all communications through a central authority.

Here is an example of how NOT to do it.

HDB resale without COV

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan changed the rules for resale HDB flats on Monday 10 Mar, by requiring buyers and sellers to agree on a sale price before getting an official valuation of the flat. Currently, the seller would obtain a valuation and this is also the price the buyer can get a loan for, or use his CPF to pay for. The seller could offer the flat for a lower than valuation, if there is some reason (say, the need to sell the flat quickly), or ask for a higher price, which would not be covered by the loan or CPF, and so the buyer would need to pay the Cash over Valuation (or COV). 

Thus all negotiation has been about whether it is over or under Valuation, and if over, how much is the COV. 

In a bull market, a sellers' market, COV has been escalating. 

However, new measures and perhaps the general market cycle has brought COV down and currently, it is no longer the Sellers' market that it used to be. 

Why getting enough sleep matters

In East Asia, hard work is worn as a badge of honour and students have bragged about their all-night cram sessions, but developing brains need sleep. 

MARCH 14, 2014

Last year, an opinion-editorial that I wrote on the perils of short sleep received an unexpected flood of attention. Some wrote tongue-in-cheek commentaries on local sleep patterns. A few concerned parents made appeals on forum pages to have morning-session secondary schools start later. Others thanked me for helping them counsel their children. Is this acknowledgement that the effects of sleep on health are being taken more seriously? Perhaps not.

Independent surveys have shown that, on average, East Asian young adults sleep one to two hours less a night than their European and Australian counterparts.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

MH370 - Speculation, "Spectra-location", and outright mis-reporting, untruths, falsehoods

Nature abhors a vacuum. The news media abhors a factual vacuum. In the absence of facts, speculation will do. Lies rule. Falsehoods have free rein.

Truth is the second casualty.

MH370 brings bomohs, preachers and psychics out
Yahoo Newsroom
Mon, Mar 10, 2014

The mystery surrounding MH370 is resulting in 'otherworldly' advice and offers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 makes it clear: we need to rethink black boxes

The Guardian

Your iPhone is more powerful than the evidence-collecting computers in the cockpit. Simple changes could mean faster answers for plane crashes

Why is a normally safe aircraft – the Boeing 777-200 – missing over the South China Sea, with all 239 passengers and crew on board Malaysia Airlines flight 370 presumed dead?

I'l tell you why: it was a fireball ignited by faulty lithium-ion batteries carried on board by cellphone-wielding passengers.

No, it wasn't. It was a bomb planted by terrorists – possibly the passengers who were reportedly carrying stolen passports.

Rubbish: it was structural failure triggered by internal damage sustained in an airport fender-bender involving the same aircraft two years ago.

These, of course, are not answers. It would be generous to call them theories. They are really a tiny sample in an online orgy of wild guesses that erupted on social media over the weekend, in the hours after the aircraft was reported missing off the coast of Malaysia.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Why Malaysia Airlines jet might have disappeared - MH370 (updated 15 Mar).

March 9 2014

NEW YORK — The most dangerous parts of a flight are takeoff and landing. Rarely do incidents happen when a plane is cruising seven miles above the earth.

So the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 well into its flight yesterday (March 8) morning over the South China Sea has led aviation experts to assume that whatever happened was quick and left the pilots no time to place a distress call.

It could take investigators months, if not years, to determine what happened to the Boeing 777 flying from Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

[15 Mar update at the end of this.]

The Truth vs the fossil fuel lobby

By Jeffrey Sachs

03 February 2014

Have a look at what happened around the world this past month. Australia’s heat wave filled headlines when temperatures reaching 45° Celsius disrupted the Australian Open tennis tournament. 

California’s extreme drought forced the governor to declare a state of emergency. Major floods in Indonesia killed dozens and displaced tens of thousands. 

Beijing’s coal-induced smog forced people to stay in their homes, closed highways, and diverted flights. Such events are daily warnings to the world: Wake up before it is too late.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Diet News Bundle I: Sugar, Protein and the Diet Debacle

Dietary news. It changes every now and then.

But after reading many dietary advice and opinions, about the only thing I can believe is: Sugar has very little nutritional value, and may have very bad effects on our health.

You do not have to believe me of course. I am not an expert. And I haven't kept track of all the news and information that I have sieved through to arrive at this partial conclusion (Note: I wrote, "may have very bad effects".) You should read about sugar for yourself and make up your own minds.

The last article actually provides some sort of scientific explanation that makes a lot of sense (to me). BUT... you should decide for yourself.

Friday, March 7, 2014

COE category tweak achieved its goal: LTA

By Sumita d/o Sreedharan

March 6 2014


Singapore — The Certificate of Entitlement (COE) recategorisation for cars has achieved its goal of retaining models for the mass market, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday, as it published statistics to show that the policy tweak that kicked in last month had led to “a significant decrease” in the median Open Market Value (OMV) for Category A cars.

Motor traders, however, were less than convinced as they pointed to recent COE premiums, which have continued to remain high.

Before the move, COE premiums for Category A were more than S$72,000.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 items in Singapore and how their prices compare to other countries

Mar 04, 2014

Singapore has just beaten 131 cities to become the world's most expensive city to live in, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's report. We look at five big ticket items the report mentions which have contributed to Singapore's climb to pole position and compare it to similar items in other cities around the world.

1. Property rental
Singapore: A three-bedroom apartment, of between 1,200 - 1,500 sq ft, averages $8,000 a month.
New York: A three-bedroom apartment, of between 950 - 1,800 sq ft, ranges from US$1,750 (S$2,221) - US$2,500 in the outlying neighbourhoods to US$6,000 to US$15,000 in Manhattan.

2. Cars
Singapore: A Mercedes Benz E-class will cost upwards of $277,000 plus an Open category COE will set you back another $79,000 going by the last COE exercise.
Germany: A Mercedes Benz E-class will cost from 40,668 ($71,062) euros.

3. Clothing (luxury retail)
Singapore: A men's suit from Giorgio Armani starts from $3,000 and can go up to $4,000.
Italy: A men's suit from Giorgio Armani starts from 1,500 ($2,619) euros.

4. Food & wine
Singapore: The signature dish of steak tartare at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon costs $52. A bottle of Moet & Chandon in Singapore costs at least $83.
Paris: A degustation menu at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon costs 38 euros ($66). A bottle of Moet & Chandon in France can cost as little as 32.90 euros ($57).

5. Utilities
Singapore: Utilities bill for a four-person household in a HDB flat likely to average between $150 - $200.
Tokyo: Utilities bill for a four-person household in an apartment averages between 12,000 yen ($150) in summer to 30,000 yen ($375) in winter.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Is Singapore Western Intelligence’s 6th Eye?


Asia Sentinal: Singapore: Nest of Spies?

What are the regional foreign policy consequences?

Singapore is an anomaly in Southeast Asia. It has staunch connections with the US and Israel and a network of varied corporate interests all around the world. It is a small, primarily non-Muslim city-state surrounded by much larger, occasionally antipathetic Muslim countries. Sovereignty disputes on the South China Sea are continuing, and unpredictable events like Sulu militants invading Lahad Datu in Sabah continue to occur. Singapore's security is of prime domestic importance.

Risk and reward in emerging markets


March 3.

One definition of an emerging-market economy is that its political risks are higher and its policy credibility lower than in advanced economies. After the financial crisis, when emerging-market economies continued to grow robustly, that definition seemed obsolete.

Now, with the recent turbulence in emerging economies driven in part by weaker economic-policy credibility and growing political uncertainty, it seems as relevant as ever.

The German model of historic contrition

Mar 03, 2014

Asia can learn from Germany's experience and its neighbours' reciprocation

By Jonathan Eyal Europe Correspondent

DIPLOMATS are paid to dream up clever ways of promoting their country's interests. But occasionally, diplomatic ingenuity can go too far, as a team of Chinese diplomats tasked with planning President Xi Jinping's forthcoming visit to Germany recently discovered.

Beijing offered to set aside a big chunk of President Xi's visit to commemorative events praising the way Germany dealt with its historic responsibility for World War II. Chinese officials assumed that this would please their German hosts, for the manner by which Germany routinely expresses remorse for the murderous deeds of its past is rightly and universally admired.

Yet to Beijing's surprise, the Germans flatly turned down most of these proposals, realising that China's real aim was not to engage in a search for historic truths but, rather, to make negative comparisons between the German model of contrition and the alleged absence of historic remorse in Japan.

The downside of inciting envy

 Mar 03, 2014

By Arthur C. Brooks

IRISH singer Bono once described a difference between America and his native land. "In the United States," he explained, "you look at the guy that lives in the mansion on the hill, and you think, you know, one day, if I work really hard, I could live in that mansion. In Ireland, people look up at the guy in the mansion on the hill and go, one day, I'm going to get that b*****d." Alexis de Tocqueville phrased it a little differently, but his classic 19th-century text contains the same observation. Visiting from France, he marvelled at Americans' ability to keep envy at bay, and to see others' successes as portents of good times for all.

For decades, survey data has supported the Bono-Tocqueville hypothesis. The 2006 World Values Survey, for example, found that Americans are only a third as likely as British or French people to feel strongly that "hard work doesn't generally bring success; it's more a matter of luck and connections". This faith that success flows from effort has built America's reputation as a remarkably unenvious society.