Saturday, 21 March 2009

MM Lee on Singapore’s population

Even after the millions spent on Baby Bonuses and other parenthood incentives, policy - makers are confounded by a problem that goes to the very heart of survival: Singaporeans are still not reproducing themselves.

Looming Bad Loans May Spell Trouble for Banks

As Chinese banks disclose their 2008 annual reports, the economic slowing’s influence on bank loan quality is emerging. The Bank of Communications (BOCOM) reported a 40% net profit growth in 2008, but in the fourth quarter bad loans increased and asset quality declined.

Historians keep Tibet debate raging

Is the Himalayan plateau an integral part of China?

A long history of people trying to control Tibet

It happened in the 19th century, when Tibetan officials, seeing Britain and Russia jockey for influence in Central Asia during the geopolitical contest known as the Great Game, decided to close Tibet to foreigners. The very state of isolation inspired explorers, spies, missionaries, colonial officers and Buddhist devotees into quests to reach Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

Taiwan softens its defence policy in new sign of warming ties

Taiwan would drop the terms “active defence” and “pre-emptive strike” from its defence policy, the island’s military said yesterday in yet another sign of fast-improving cross-strait relations.

Leftists make comeback, blaming crisis on free-market liberalism

After years living in the political wilderness, mainland leftists - an umbrella term that spans free-market critics to veterans nostalgic for bygone Maoist days - are making a quiet comeback.

How the Crash Will Reshape America

The crash of 2008 continues to reverberate loudly nationwide - destroying jobs, bankrupting businesses, and displacing homeowners. But already, it has damaged some places much more severely than others. On the other side of the crisis, America’s economic landscape will look very different than it does today. What fate will the coming years hold for New York, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas? Will the suburbs be ineffably changed? Which cities and regions can come back strong? And which will never come back at all?

Friday, 20 March 2009

Growling at a Crisis Charles Morris Foresaw

Americans are asking a lot of questions about the subprime crisis. But one author saw it coming -- and forecasts long-term effects.

Legal Implications of Coke-Huiyuan

The case has set a precedent for the implementation of China’s anti-monopoly law, but not the one that was hoped for by many legal experts.

High-quality fake yuan notes found in Fuzhou

Fuzhou police announced that fake 100-yuan notes whose serial numbers began with CE86 and CH31 had been seized when a counterfeit ring was smashed.

Shanghai vows transparency

Shanghai’s municipal government has vowed greater transparency and accountability in considering the public’s views, local media have reported.

250,000 cameras watching you in Guangzhou

Some people believe that the government watches everything on the mainland. In Guangzhou, that’s not far wrong.

Chen’s wife spent state funds on self

The former chief accountant of former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian told Taipei District Court yesterday that former first lady Wu Shu-chen had used public money to “buy food and other personal expenses”.

Funds, banks start shopping for real estate assets

Players laying groundwork to snap up regional assets on the cheap

SGX flags hot spots for company boards

In a timely alert, it calls on boards to verify cash and other areas of heightened risks

Warning sounded but no one heeded

One fundamental lesson from the current financial crisis is to stop shutting out dissenting, contrarian voices

Lessons for the West from Asian capitalism

Regulating markets: China was wary of deregulation. Indeed the Chinese leaders may have understood earlier than most that America was building a house of cards with its reckless creation of derivatives

Soldiers’ Accounts of Gaza Killings Raise Furor in Israel

An elementary school in the Gaza strip that was heavily damaged during the Israeli bombardment that ended two months ago.

Bid to sell Beauty China shares fails

Beauty China's chairman Wong Hon Wai had entered into an agreement to sell a 14 per cent stake to a buyer associated with the holding company of a firm listed in Hong Kong. The deal was terminated after the potential buyer's conditions were not met.

Israelis describe wanton killings

Soldiers speak of unjustified shooting of civilians; rights groups seek probe of ‘abuses’

Turmoil keeps luxury train to Tibet in sidings

The mainland’s first luxury train service, Tangula Luxury Trains, has postponed the launch of its service to Tibet and Yunnan province from April to spring next year, citing the global financial crisis as the reason.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

China’s factories get desperate as orders drop

Desperate for new customers, Chinese factories have been bombarding Josef Jelinek with e-mails every day. One wants the British businessman to order a shipment of whirling toy helicopters. Another touts a multi-media gizmo called the V-disk.

After Gaza, Israel Grapples With Crisis of Isolation

Palestinian civilians ran for cover during an Israeli air strike in Gaza in January. Israel’s use of enormous force in the war generated heavy international criticism.

Authorities: Montague jail was ‘Animal House’

For months, perhaps longer, the Montague County Jail was “Animal House” meets Mayberry.

Deter disclosure lapses with fines

The Singapore Exchange’s reprimand of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) for poor disclosure delivers a much-needed warning to all companies that when disseminating potentially price-sensitive information via public announcements, it is vital to be as open and transparent as possible in order to preserve market integrity and minimise investor uncertainty.

Loan deal turns sour?

Police report lodged as lenders cry foul

‘Clearer responses likely’ after NOL rap

SGX’s move signals to firms that vague replies are unacceptable, say lawyers and experts

Party backs demand for officials to show assets

An influential Communist Party newspaper has backed growing public calls for officials to declare their personal assets, saying this approach was “the ultimate method to fight corruption”.

One-track minds

Beijing’s 8 per cent growth targets may make political sense, but the economic argument is flimsy

Judge rejects Chen’s request to summons Ma and former leaders

When former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian’s trial on corruption charges starts on Thursday, his son will not testify in court for him.

Last-Minute Challenges for Health Reform

Local government costs and doctor pay are among the unfinished issues for health care reformers, whose task appears far from done.

Car thieves go for skill upgrades overseas

Car theft syndicates send their members to Japan for ‘working trips.’

IKEA taking over General Motors to become IKEA Motors?

10 of the world’s most mispronounced places

Nothing can make a traveller feel more clueless or out of sorts than mispronouncing the name of a local destination, but it’s easily done.

Who Still Believes Goldman Sachs?

In January 2008, Goldman Sachs issued a review of China’s economy, Thoughts at the Beginning of 2008. It predicted, after November, 2007, that two downside risks, the deterioration of economic conditions in the United States and the strengthening of China’s macro-control, would lead to a significant fall in asset prices in China and that these risks might carry continuing downside pressures.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Messages are mixed on China’s economy

Chinese exports plunged by a record 25.7 percent last month, but investment spending surged as the country’s economic stimulus program took hold, the Beijing authorities said Wednesday, providing conflicting signals about the health of the Chinese economy.

US needs to display leadership, not panic

As the world reels from a financial crisis whose origins lie in bad United States banking practices and monetary policy, it may seem counterintuitive to argue that it is the US that will play the most important role in determining the outcome of the crisis and the impact it will have on the rest of the world, and especially on Asia.

Wen’s worries over US assets look overdone

Speaking at his annual press conference on Friday, Mr. Wen confessed to feeling nervous about China’s holdings of US dollar assets.

Is Chang Gung Good Medicine for Reform?

A Xiamen hospital operated by Taiwan’s Chang Gung was supposed to spark mainland reforms. But the barriers are high.

Shine More Light on Government Budgets

Public scrutiny of China’s government budget process is easier than ever. But there are good reasons for more transparency.

How Hedging Cost China Eastern Billions

A scheme designed to protect one of China’s largest airlines from volatile fuel prices wound up showering the company in red ink.

Credit Booms and Prices Slide

PPI and CPI dropped despite a windfall of new credit issued in January and February. The answer to why lies in the type of loans issued.

Government to tighten rules for housing agents

The National Development Ministry is reviewing the framework that property agents work under given the recent spate of unethical practices that have surfaced.

Ghosts of a faded gilded age haunt a 19th-century Chinese banking hub

The financial crisis has reinforced the sense of nostalgia surrounding Pingyao, one of China's best-preserved medieval towns.

Investors baulk at inflated valuations of China stocks

Share prices of mainland listed firms are nearly twice their HK prices

Shanghai villa fetches record 205m yuan

Shimao Property Holdings has sold a villa in Shanghai for 205 million yuan (HK$232.45 million), making it the country’s most expensive residential property.

Police officers banned from nightclubs

Mainland police have been banned from setting foot in commercial entertainment venues such as nightclubs as part of a wider clampdown on corruption.

Zhejiang farmers given approval to lease out agricultural land

Farmers in Zhejiang can now lease their allocated plots of land to other farmers simply by signing a government-endorsed leasing contract - a move that could generate up to 1.3 trillion yuan (HK$1.47 trillion) in capital in the province’s rich countryside.

I didn’t embezzle a cent, former first lady claims

Former Taiwanese first lady Wu Shu-chen denied she had used government money for personal purposes during a face-off in court with the family’s former chief accountant, Chen Cheng-hui.

China Should Be Cautious Lending to IMF

China should not lend a lot of money to the International Monetary Fund, because the cash would be used to bail out countries that are richer than China and are biased against Beijing, an influential economist said in remarks published on Tuesday.

Y so different?

A recent study of over 2,600 young Singaporeans has revealed some significant cross-generational differences between younger workers and their more senior colleagues, highlighting lingering stereotypes held by both groups.

Pay back or commit suicide

Mr Grassley said in an interview with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT that AIG executives should follow the Japanese method and ‘come before the American people and take that deep bow and say I’m sorry. And then either do one of two things, resign or go commit suicide.’

DBSV Moves 7 S-chips to restricted margin list

Please be informed that the following counter have been moved into the restricted margin list with immediate effect and with no new position in the margin account.

1. Devotion Energy Group Ltd
2. Pharmesis International Ltd
3. R H Energy Ltd
4. China Angel Food Ltd
5. China Farm Equipment Ltd
6. China Fibretech Ltd
7. China Milk Products Group Ltd

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

One billion yuan allocated for Dianchi Lake cleanup

In what has seemingly become a yearly ritual, Kunming's municipal government announced yesterday that it will allocate one billion yuan (US$146 million) to clean up Dianchi Lake.

Going public - considerations in a downturn

For all the glamour associated with launching an IPO, the fact remains that the decision to do so should be based on hard business realities

Pity that nobody noticed red flags at Oriental Century

I refer to the reports, ‘Accounting scandal rocks another S-chip’ and ‘Raffles Edu needs to tighten checks on investments’ (BT, March 13).

Catalist: no major changes needed

It would not be an exaggeration to say that firms currently listed on Catalist are resisting the idea of shifting to a full, sponsor-based regime in about 10 months.

China likely to be stronger after crisis

The global economic downturn, and efforts to reverse it, will probably make China an even stronger economic competitor than it was before the crisis.

Hawker awarded $52k but lawyer kept $40k

A lawyer who kept $40,250 as legal costs out of a $52,398 award was ordered to show the bills for the court to say how much he should get.

Selling sex legally in New Zealand

In terms of attitudes towards prostitution, New Zealand and Europe are almost as diametrically opposed as they are in geography. Kiwis have opted for wholesale liberalisation of the sex trade, while Europeans are increasingly restricting it.

Sacking of three professors raises doubts about academic integrity

The sacking of three academics over dubious research at the prestigious Zhejiang University has escalated concerns within the research community about the credibility of mainland academics.

Leftists make comeback, blaming crisis on free-market liberalism

After years living in the political wilderness, mainland leftists - an umbrella term that spans free-market critics to veterans nostalgic for bygone Maoist days - are making a quiet comeback.

Mao makes a comeback in little red book shop

For an illustration of the rise of communist nostalgia in today’s China, you need only cast your eyes at the growing popularity of a small and seemingly innocuous book shop in Beijing’s university district.

Small firms at risk of being left behind in China’s recovery

No one can blame the Chinese state for taking the lead in rebooting the economy. It would be irresponsible of it not to do so, and Beijing, after all, is acting no differently from governments around the world.

A Soros Solution for the Global Meltdown

“It’s the end of an era, as far as the United States is concerned, because the prosperity was built on a false foundation.” – George Soros

Chow Yun Fatt as Confucius

Chow Yun Fatt will act as Confucius in a new movie. The official, who declined to be named because of company policy, said shooting is due to start in about three weeks.

Reform, Not Liquidity, Is the Way Out - Andy Xie

Trying to pump up another assets bubble with government liquidity will not create lasting growth, and it’s likely not to work.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Home Detention Scheme

9 in 10 don’t turn back to crime

Wall St sees no signs of bottom despite rally

Investors fear poor prospects for rest of year

China boost for car sales sets back green plan

China’s campaign to bring cleaner, low-emission vehicles to its roads may take a back seat as the government seeks first to stimulate growth and counter dwindling sales in the world’s largest car market.

U.S. vessel’s standoff with Chinese sub ‘dangerous,’ analyst says

The recent confrontation between a U.S. surveillance vessel and five Chinese naval ships appears to be another episode in “a wider and dangerous cat-and-mouse game” between the Chinese submarine fleet and American sub-hunters, a military analyst said.

China Stimulus Property Snub a Signal on Prices

When China excluded property from 10 sectors marked for support in a three-year stimulus plan, it signalled it was more concerned with affordable housing than with shoring up its sagging real estate market.

Singapore Braces for Sharp Recession

Singapore’s economy could shrink by 8.5 percent in the first three months of 2009, hit by a downturn in trade, and its currency could lose about 8 percent against the U.S. dollar this year, a central bank survey showed.

An obsession with all things Tibetan - except the politics

Slowly and gradually, things have changed. In the 1980s, it started becoming fashionable for Han Chinese artists and writers to visit the mysterious plateau for inspiration. An interest in the region has spread to young urban Chinese in the past decade.

Deadly detention

Mainland prisoners regularly die in custody and it will continue until police stop running the jails

Transparency is key to ensuring people’s confidence about economic stimulus package

Premier Wen Jiabao likes to talk up the word confidence these days wherever he goes. This is very necessary at a time of uncertainty and confusion over the mainland’s growth prospects.

3 academics lose jobs over faked research

Three academics lost their jobs with a top mainland university over their roles in faking research that purported to show that traditional Chinese medicine could be as effective as western drugs in treating heart disease, state media reported yesterday.

Magic number

Every year, Beijing’s growth target is 8 per cent. The figure is as intriguing as it is convenient

Oriental Century appoints legal adviser, special accountant

The little-known, hardly chased stock Oriental Century has this week become the latest accounting scandal casualty among Singapore-listed Chinese firms or S-chips.

Lifting bank secrecy veil may help Singapore

To date, 82 countries have endorsed the OECD standard for tax cooperation. Singapore is among the five which have not adopted it. The others are Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines and Cyprus, said KPMG’s Mr. Owi.

SGX has to beef up its gatekeeper role

Until there is a solution to this cross-border problem, investors are likely to continue to treat S-chips with caution, given the ‘heads you win, tails I lose’ situation it produces.

China lost US$80b on equities

China may have lost more than US$80 billion (S$123 billion) of its foreign exchange reserves after buying into equities just before world markets collapsed last year, the Financial Times said on Monday.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

What happens to hotel rooms with gory past?

They are cleaned and spiritually cleansed, then sealed...for a time

Robin Hood’s no hero

A British academic says he’s found proof that Britain’s legendary outlaw Robin Hood wasn’t as popular with the poor as folklore suggests.

As China’s Communists gather, luxury sales soar

A week ago, a finely dressed Chinese man walked into Louis Vuitton’s flagship store here trailed by a bodyguard and said he wanted to purchase a gift for a government official.