Saturday, August 08, 2020

Recommended Chinese Drama for Circuit Breaker

Having spent the past 6 months working from home, "home" has become a place where I spent 90% of my daily time in. Finding entertainment to keep me occupied (Other than work and the little one) has become increasingly challenging and important before I suffered from "Home Sickness". Chinese dramas have become a good source of outlet to keep our mind focus before our mind started running wild from boredom. Well, here are my list of Chinese Dramas that are worth your time to spend on, having tried and tested them for the past 6 months:

绝代双骄 (2020)

倚天屠龙记 (2019)

三生三世十里桃花

庆余年

射雕英雄传 (2017)

新萧十一郎 (2016)

东宫

芸汐传

传闻中的陈芊芊

知否?知否?应是绿肥红瘦

天盛长歌

Anymore good chinese dramas to recommend? I am running out of titles to watch. =p

Saturday, July 11, 2020

GE 2020: Aftermath

Singaporean has voted their choice of government for the next 5 years. Let us now put aside our differences to stay united in combating the next 2 enemies: COVID-19 and economic recession. Fight on! 💓💓



Wednesday, July 08, 2020

GE 2020: The Battleground Nee Soon GRC (PAP Vs PSP)

Having shared the respective parties manifesto for the country, the next part of the segment will turn our focus to the GRC they are contesting in. What are the plans they have for the GRC for the next 5 years? 

PAP

There are more exciting plans for Nee Soon:
  • A polyclinic near Khatib MRT
  • Yishun Link Community Club
  • Upgrading of Yishun Sports Hall and Swimming Complex: 2 covered tennis courts, a new cafeteria, an air-conditioned table tennis area, bigger dance studio and bigger gym
  • Sports parks in Chong Pang and Nee Soon Central
  • Chye Kay Village Heritage Garden in Nee Soon East
  • Upgraded Nee Soon South Community Club
  • New park at Khatib Vale and rejuvenated Nee Soon South N8 park
  • More routes to town with the Thomson-East Coast Line and North-South Corridor
  • Home Improvement Programme for more homes
  • New park at Khatib Bongsu
  • More cycling paths
  • Community farm in the Heartlands

They have actually come out with a manifesto for Nee Soon GRC! If I am to nick pick, amidst the worst recession Singapore has ever faced, some of the upgrading works for the CC should be reviewed, such as upgrading of Nee Soon South CC as the building still look new. While I fully agree that upgrading works for Yishun Sports Hall and Swimming Complex should proceed as the buildings are really old. Do we need so many new parks? I will agree for the new park at Khatib Bongsu to preserve our mangrove reserve, but for Khatib Vale and rejuvenation of Nee Soon South N8 park....I wonder if the money can be better deployed somewhere else?

Total Score: 10.0/12.0 (83% approval)

PSP

No plans that I can find online. The only information I can find are these:



Erm.. so no plan la?

Total Score: 0 (0% approval)

Friday, July 03, 2020

GE 2020: Defending the Seat (PAP)

Well, having just given my opinion on PSP's manifesto, how does the defending party (PAP) manifesto measure up for the current election? Lets take a look.

Frankly speaking, they have lots of picture and nice looking pages, but I cannot tell what they are trying to advocate for the next 5 years. So reader unfriendly. PSP manifesto, on the other hand, is clear and easy to understand in pointed forms. Well, after spending sometime reading the pages, I gather they are based on the below 6 pillars:

Staying Safe and Healthy Together

Public health and safety:
  • Strongly support and equip healthcare professionals and frontline agencies to provide excellent healthcare for all. We are providing free in-patient treatment for Covid-19 at public hospitals
  • Ramp up Covid-19 testing and tracing capabilities
  • Invest in R&D for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines, and ensure these are available to all Singaporeans who need them
Reduce risk of transmission and safeguard public health:
  • Ensure everyone can obtain protective items such as face masks
  • Establish new norms of safe interaction for daily living
  • Improve public hygiene through a major national effort, including through the SG Clean campaign
  • Complete health clearance of migrant workers and enable them to return safely to work
  • Build additional migrant worker housing with new operating models and improved standards
To me, these are processes already in progress. Its just to emphasize that government will keep on doing what they have already done. Not so much fresh new ideas or initiatives for the future. Nothing much to comment about, but 50% discount for no new ideas or improvements generated.

In summary, my total score given is 1.0/2.0
Public health and safety - 0.5
Reduce risk of transmission and safeguard public health - 0.5

Creating Jobs and Acquiring Skills Together

Protect workers from the immediate impact of Covid-19:
  • Wage subsidies under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) to help you keep your jobs
  • Income relief to self-employed persons and freelancers under the Self-Employed Person Scheme (SIRS)
  • Financial assistance to retrenched workers or those suffering significant income loss under the Temporary Relief Scheme (TRS) and the Covid-19 Support Grant (CSG)
Protect and create jobs to keep Singaporeans employed. Equip Singaporean to take advantage of new opportunities and growing sectors:
  • Create 100,000 new job opportunities, comprising jobs, traineeships, mid-career pathways and courses under the SG United Jobs and Skills Programme
  • All workers: Set up satellite career centres in all HDB towns
  • All workers: Scale up programmes for career conversion and for skills upgrading and mastery with the Next Bound of SkillsFuture
  • All workers: Strengthen safeguards for jobseekers under the Fair Consideration Framework
  • All workers: Provide financial incentives for employers to hire or redeploy their local workers
  • Workers aged 40 - 60: Extra SkillsFuture credits and heavily subsidised reskilling programmes
  • Workers aged 40 - 60: Mid-career pathway programmes to help you start new careers
  • Workers aged 40 - 60: Special incentives for employers to hire you
  • Senior Workers: Senior Employment Credit
  • Senior Workers: Grants for re-employment
  • Senior Workers: Support for firms and industries to redesign jobs
  • Young Job Seekers: Strengthen career support for new graduates
  • Young Job Seekers: Create structured traineeships with firms
  • Young Job Seekers: Offer free continuing education and training to pick up additional skills and knowledge while the job market recovers
  • Young Job Seekers: Prepare for regional opportunities through the Global Ready Talent programme and overseas internships when it is safe to travel again
  • Lower Wage Worker: Enhanced Workfare support
  • Lower Wage Worker: Extending the Progressive Wage Model to even more industries
  • Workers with Disabilities: Work with employers to hire persons with disabilities, including through the Enabling Employment Credit
Again, these are processes already in progress. No fresh new ideas or initiatives for the future. Nothing much to comment about, but 50% discount for saying things that are already in progress. Too bad.

In summary, my total score given is 1.0/2.0
Protect workers from the immediate impact of Covid-19 - 0.5
Protect and create jobs to keep Singaporeans employed - 0.5

Transforming and Growing Our Economy Together

Stabilise businesses against the immediate effects of Covid-19:
  • Helping with cash flow, costs and credit
  • Passing laws for rental relief
  • Providing extra help to the hardest hit sectors like aviation, hotels, tourism and retail
Preparing for a post Covid-19 economy:
  • Accelerate digital transformation of all industry sectors
  • Help firms to innovate and adapt with Transformation and Growth Packages
  • Give SMEs extra support through the SMEs Go Digital, SkillsFuture Enterprise Credits and other grants
  • Promote new growth sectors – such as innovation and technology, biomedical, ICT, professional and digital services, cybersecurity, food manufacturing, medical care and education
  • Establish green lane arrangements for safe travel with other countries
  • Pursue international co-operation, expand our trade networks and seek out new markets
  • Participate actively in the global digital economy
  • Diversify our sources of food and essential supplies and build resilient supply chains
Gosh, how many times must they remind us of processes already in progress. No fresh new ideas or initiatives for the future. Nothing much to comment about, but 50% discount for saying things that are already in progress.

In summary, my total score given is 1.0/2.0
Stabilise businesses against the immediate effects of Covid-19 - 0.5
Preparing for a post Covid-19 economy - 0.5

Providing Care and Support Together

Families:
  • Care & Support Package – for daily costs
  • Enhanced housing grants – for purchase of HDB flats
  • Transport vouchers – for public transport
  • Education subsidies – enhanced bursaries, scholarships, transport, meal and school fee subsidies. 100% subsidy for ITE fees and reduced fees for SIT and SUSS full time general degrees
  • Healthcare subsidies – public healthcare subsidies up to 80% and CHAS
Special Education Needs (SEN):
  • Raise awareness of SEN and promote greater inclusivity
  • Make special education more affordable
  • Open new Special Education Schools to cater to different special needs
  • Increase work and care options for SEN students beyond age 18
Pre-Schoolers:
  • Enhance subsidies to make preschool as affordable as primary school
  • Increase the government share of supported pre-school places to 80%, and double the number of MOE kindergartens to 60
  • Raise pre-school quality through the National Institute for Early Childhood Education
Students:
  • Provide greater support and guidance to students from vulnerable backgrounds, who are most affected by the crisis
  • Accelerate the National Digital Literacy Programme, including bridging the digital divide by equipping every secondary student with a computing device
  • Make Home-Based Learning (HBL) an integral part of education
  • Accelerate education reforms so students can acquire knowledge and skills for a fast-changing future
  • Reform higher education to introduce more inter-disciplinary learning, complemented with lifelong learning in specialized areas
  • Refresh our Character and Citizenship Education curriculum to prepare our young to be upright and compassionate individuals, imbued with mental resilience and sound values
  • Deepen the professional expertise of our teachers with SkillsFuture for Educators
Seniors:
  • Provide networks of support, including through the Community Network for Seniors
  • Help seniors keep healthy and active, including free entry to public gyms and pools
  • Provide greater financial security in retirement with the Matched Retirement Savings Scheme, enhanced Silver Support, and the Silver Housing Bonus and Lease Buyback schemes
Healthcare:
  • Expand the polyclinic network from 20 today to 32 by 2030, including new polyclinics in Bishan and Bidadari
  • Redevelop the Singapore General Hospital and rejuvenate the National University Hospital
  • Complete the Novena Community Hospital by 2022 and build a new integrated acute and community hospital in the East by 2030
GST:
  • Implement a $6 billion Assurance Package which will pay for the GST increase for 5 years for most households and 10 years for lower income households
  • Enhance the GST permanent voucher scheme
  • Continue to have government absorb GST on publicly subsidised healthcare and education
  • Provide social assistance for those who need more help
Finally, PAP manifesto started to cover something about the future that they are planning to implement, mainly found in the healthcare and GST section. Nothing much to comment about with regards to Healthcare as we are indeed going to face a problem with aging population soon and much needed resource are needed to build the necessary infrastructure. Raising GST by 2% (to 9%) as a source for the funds needed might be part of the process and am glad they have propose freezing the GST at current level until end 2021 due to economic recession.

In summary, my total score given is 4.50/7.0
Families - 0.50
Special Education Needs (SEN) - 0.50
Pre-Schoolers - 0.50
Students - 0.50
Seniors - 0.50
Healthcare - 1.0
GST - 1.0

Building a Strong and Resilient Society Together

Social Resilience:
  • Build a strong, caring united community where no one is left behind and all can progress together
  • Build resilience, enhance social mobility and tackle inequality
  • Help those who fall down to get up stronger
  • Improve our social safety nets to provide sustainable support
  • Partner citizens and organisations to help those in need
  • Build communities of care in every town through the SG Cares network and connect needs to volunteers and resources
  • Make mental wellness a key focus
  • Foster digital inclusion and enable vulnerable groups to reach support and resources online
  • Build a multi-cultural, multi-religious society where unity in diversity is our strength
  • Support the aspirations of our people in arts, culture and sports
Financial Resilience:
  • Use the money to catalyse growth and returns for Singaporeans and Singapore
  • Continue to exercise financial prudence, and replenish our reserves when we are able to do so
  • Safeguard the future for our children and generations to come, as the Pioneer and Merdeka generations did for us
Guess they are back to repeating the same old stuffs that are already in progress. I see no new ideas or initiatives for the future or the next five years. How do they want to enhance social mobility and tackle inequality? No details given. 50% discounts given for repeating the same stuffs.

In summary, my total score given is 1.0/2.0
Social Resilience - 0.50
Financial Resilience - 0.50

Living Sustainably Together

Make sustainability a way of life:
  • Produce more clean energy by deploying more solar panels on building rooftops and reservoirs, and converting food waste to energy at Tuas Nexus
  • Reduce greenhouse emissions
  • Plant one million trees and new mangrove areas to preserve our carbon sinks
  • Add 200 hectares of nature parks and 140 hectares of city parks and gardens over the next 5 years
  • Enhance our green corridors and park connectors so that every household is within a 10 minute walk from a park
  • Introduce new concepts of sustainable living with the HDB Green Towns programme
  • Rejuvenate our heartlands with home improvement and neighbourhood upgrading initiatives, as well as the Remaking Heartlands programme
  • Strengthen coastal and inland flood protection against climate change and rising seas
  • Significantly increase local food production with our 30 x 30 Express strategy and develop long term local production capabilities for essential supplies
Finally, we come to something new again. While focusing on alternative energy and reducing greenhouse emission is good, there seems to be an over zealous initiative in adding parks. Overall, good proposal in starting to look at climate change effect mitigation that will impact Singapore and increasing our local food production.

In summary, my total score given is 0.75/1.0
Make sustainability a way of life - 0.75

Total Score: 9.25/16.0 (58% approval)

Well, much of PAP manifesto is focus on the theme of "togetherness" and reiterating of what the government has done so far. It is quite lacking on fresh new idea of what the government will be implementing going forward. There are some big projects written in the PAP manifesto such as Smart Nation, 5G Network, Tuas Megaport, Changi T5 etc, and I believe some of these, especially Changi T5 maybe worthwhile to have a re-look given this COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession going on currently. On both party's manifesto, they have similar approval rating given by me (PAP 58% Vs PSP 50%). I guess the deciding point will be what is the party's plan for the constituency for the next 5 years. A bit disappointing with PAP not coming up with what are the current policy they will like to tweak going forward to make them better. Next time, don't come out with such nice looking manifesto that goes on and on. I really got lost trying to find out your key points for the election. Be like the PSP, keep them short, clear and simple.  

Thursday, July 02, 2020

GE 2020: Welcome next challenger PSP

Singapore has finally announced the dissolving of parliament and all Singaporean will head to the polls on 10-Jul for GE 2020. For my constituency, the opposition candidate is PSP, the party headed by the ex-PAP member: Tan Cheng Bock. So lets have a look at PSP manifesto and see if it is a better alternative to PAP one?

PSP manifesto mainly focus on 3 pillars, 4 points each as below:

Economic Development

Jobs for Singaporeans:
  • Job priority for Singaporeans
  • Introduce quota for Employment Pass
  • Lower quota for S Pass and Work Permit
  • Review free trade agreements like CECA
Assistance to local SMEs:
  • Priority in public sector procurement
  • Invest in local SMEs and encourage cooperation amongst them
  • Direct support to SMEs to restructure their business and in their effort to go overseas
  • Reduce business costs
Reduce dependence on foreign labour:
  • Problems of congestion, social strains and depressed wages
  • Curb easy supply to push employers to invest in equipment or processes for higher productivity
  • Move toward higher value-add and higher-wage model
Living Wage:
  • Increase amount of Workfare and the cash portion to 80% (like wages)
  • After the economy stabilises, to introduce living wage to all sectors
For a detailed explanation on the points, you can refer to the article on Mothership.

For me personally, on the topic of Job for Singaporean, I can only agree with half of the proposal. Lowering quota for S Pass and Work Permit is not the way to save jobs for Singaporean. While I do agree with the idea that companies employing foreign talent should be insisted on knowledge transfer to locals, but forcing companies to employ Singaporean (at a higher wage due to lowered quota and paying the same wage could not entice local to take the job) will only increase business cost, raise inflation (cost will be transferred to customer) and reduced real wage growth (due to increase inflation). The reason why companies employ S Pass and Work Permit foreigners was simply because they cannot find Singaporean who are willing to do the same job for the same salary given to the foreigners. On the topic of Living Wage, according to Wikipedia, it is defined as the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs. It is something similar to a minimum wage, with the only difference in that the latter can fail to meet the requirements for a basic quality of life. For me, I do not support living wage as it artificially inflates a business cost. If you set the living wage on a low side, it is of no use. If you set the living wage on the high side, business is just going to transfer the cost back to the customer. In a way, it affect competitiveness and dive the cost of everything up. You can have a good read on this topic here

In summary, my total score given is 1.5/4.0
Jobs for Singaporean - 0.5
Assistance to local SME - 1.0
Reduce dependence on foreign labor - 0.0
Living Wage - 0.0

Social Development

Social safety net:
  • Improved financial assistance for those unemployed due to Covid
  • Increase ComCare payout
CPF:
  • Withdrawal of up to $50,000 at age 55
  • Sale of En-bloc rights
  • Medishield Life premium to be paid by Government
Housing:
  • En-bloc redevelopment for all old flats
  • Peg new flat prices to income levels
  • Bring down housing costs for young Singaporeans to free them for entrepreneurial pursuit
Taxes and Fees:
  • Freeze tax and fee increases for the next five years
  • Exempt basic necessities from GST
For a detailed explanation on the points, you can refer to the article on Mothership.

On the social front, for me personally, I agree that withdrawal rate at age 55 should have a relook. $5000 may not be sufficient for today's context, but not to the rate of $50,000. This is luxurious, considering the sole purpose of CPF is like our retirement fund, to last us for the next 20-30 years. When you take out $50,000, how much is left? Sale of En-bloc rights is like the current HDB lease buy back scheme, nothing new in this. For the proposal on Medishield Life, I do not support that Government should bear this cost totally. Where is the extra budget going to come from? Additional taxes? In any case, citizen should pay their own insurance. In any case, this is using their medisave account, which can more than cover the cost if he/she is working. If the citizen is unemployed, why should the government foot the bill to feed the citizen? On the topic of housing, it is extremely ridiculous. "En-bloc redevelopemnt for all old flats". Ehh, you know there are how many old flats in Singapore? Where is the budget going to come from? Cut from defence budget arh? Pegging new flat prices to income level is also nonsense. Singapore income level can only keep on rising, so the flat price will also keep on rising la? What's the point? Freeze tax and fee increase for the next 5 years also makes no sense to me. Singapore is preparing for the problem of aging population by building up more hospitals and polyclinics. We need the extra tax (and money) to build up these facilities. If you freeze it, where is the budget going to come from? As an individual, it looks good to us, but as a country, this is not a good policy. Is this proposal trying to gain populist vote or are they good for the country? Sometimes, a good proposal for the country may be a bitter pill for the citizen, but we need to pull through for a better tomorrow.

In summary, my total score given is 1.5/4.0
Social Safety Net - 1.0
CPF - 0.5
Housing - 0.0
Taxes and Fees - 0.0

Political Development

Stronger alternative voices in Parliament:
  • Reduce the over-dominance of a single Party with over 90% representation in Parliament
  • Stronger alternative voices in Parliament offering different viewpoints and suggestions
Independence of key institutions and key appointments:
  • Expand Presidential oversight over more key public appointments
  • No conflict of interest in key public appointments
Public Service:
  • Personal sacrifice: Ministerial salaries should be cut and pegged to median income.
  • Public spending should be frugal and huge projects subject to greater scrutiny
  • Public service including public transport and utilities should not be profit making.
Freedom of speech and expression:
  • Allow for speaking up without fear or favour
  • Encourage diversity of views
  • Relax the regulation of media & the arts
  • Review POFMA
For a detailed explanation on the points, you can refer to the article on Mothership.

This section by far to me is the best proposal. Only conflict I have will be on the point that public transport and utilities should not be profit making. Business, by and large are profit making to continue challenging them to do better. If they are not profit making, what is the motivation of the employees to do better? If government is going to plug in the shortfall, how much is the government going to fill every year? Where is the budget going to come from? I feel that public service should aim to break even, but still profit making on the whole. On the topic of pegging ministerial salaries to median income is an interesting suggestion worth exploring. On the topic of speech and expression, Singapore is a unique country where speech and expression are called "Controlled freedom". So far, it has worked well for Singapore. You can speak up without fear or favour, provided what you said is true and not defamatory. Do we want to be like the USA where you can blatantly lie without consequences? It is simply dangerous for politics.

In summary, my total score given is 3.0/4.0
Stronger alternative voices in Parliament - 1.0
Independence of key institutions and key appointments - 1.0
Public Service - 0.5
Freedom of speech and expression - 0.5

Total Score: 6.0/12.0 (50% approval)

Strangely, there is nothing on healthcare, which I feel should be a major topic for any contesting party for the next 5 years. Aging population is a real time bomb. As of Jun 2019, median age of Singapore population is 41.1, with 29% of 4.03M residents age 55 and above. If you are not going to start preparing for it now, by the time crisis hits, it will be too late.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

2Q 2020 Investment Strategy Update

What an exiting quarter to sum up the experience for 2Q. While 1Q has been shadowed with doom and gloom, 2Q shine like a bright star with local government stimulus policy to save their own economy and investor optimism that a quick recovery will resume as most countries starts to open up. While DJI has been facing the bear in 1Q, the bear was hastily defeated by the bull in 2Q and in some counters, it has recovered and exceeded its last high point. For the record, USA white house economic advisor is still saying they expected a "V" shape recovery, not sure it is to boost Trump's re-election chance or they genuinely believe so.


DJI ended at 25812, an increase of 3895 points (+17.77%) compared to 1Q 2020. For Singapore, STI ended at 2589, an increase of 108 points (+4.35%) compared to last quarter. For me, I have been buying in shares of good companies as they are battered down during 1Q. Though most of them has turn into profits as market recover in 2Q, as they have yet to trigger my "take profit" point. All the profits, for now are still on paper only. With the surge in COVID-19 cases as USA reopens their market, investor has turn bearish again the last 2 weeks. To sell or to hold? You decide. Below is just a summary of what I have done in 2Q:

A nice plot showing decreasing trend as USA lockdown and massively surge in trend as they hastily re-opens up. Well, that is what Trump wants right? No mask, no lockdown 😶

Transaction 1: Bought 1 batch (last batch) Marriott shares in April.

Marriott started their trajectory for recovery as USA began discussion opening up the economy in April. While travelers are not expected to swiftly return to pre-COVID level immediately, an estimated one year timeline will sufficiently be able to ride out the pandemic impact. Guess the counter will truly start recovering once management re-institute back the quarterly dividend and annual share buyback program.

Transaction 2: Bought 1 batch IREIT Global shares in April.

Share price are beaten down to unbelievable level with a potential 10% dividend yield. Time to load more.

Transaction 3: Bought 2 batches HPH Trust shares in April.

Share price are beaten down to unbelievable level with a potential 10.8% dividend yield. While the counter has a history of declining dividend partly due to the debt reduction program which started in 2017 where part of the distribution are used to pay back bank debt, this program will be coming to an end in Dec 2021. If management do not extend this program (Or rather, extend with a reduced scope), the price should start to recover.

Transaction 4: Bought 1 batch China Everbright shares in April.

Share price has touched an all time low back in April, giving a potential 6.3% dividend yield. Declared dividend, on another hand, has been increasing yearly. Part of China state company, it has won water projects from various provinces as China focus on industrial wastewater treatment to meet international standard and environment protection. Wastewater treatment plants built are typically given a 30 years operation concession, giving the company a recurring income, not forgetting the water tariffs charged can be subject to increase pending government approval.

Transaction 5: Bought 1 batch Amara shares in April.

Share price touched an all time low, giving a potential 5.8% dividend yield. Amara has transited from a pure hospitality and construction company, to building up a real estate third arm as a commercial landlord to provide it a stable recurring income. For the real estate, it has 100AM in Singapore, and the commercial mall (新百安商场) that was integrated with the Amara hotel in Shanghai which started collecting rental in end 2019. Guess the dividend will be at least 2 cents per year going forward.

Transaction 6: Bought 1 batch DBS shares in June.

Current share price has drop to a level giving it a 6.3% yield using the last cutback in dividend for calculation. Not a bad investment, as the potential for price recovery back to $28 level remains possible as economy recovers. 

That is all for now. See you all in Q3 2020 update and thank you for reading thus far.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Circuit Breaker Day 51

Fortitude Budget, the 4th (and final?) budget released by DPM Heng in response to the COVID-19 pandemic yesterday was largely targeted at supporting companies navigating through these difficult times as Singapore brace for a steep recession brought about by the closing of economy for 3 months. For commoner like us, there will be an additional $100 rebate of the utility bills in July or August for all households with at least one Singapore Citizen.


Well, nothing much to celebrate about. 5 more days to the exit of Circuit Breaker. Appointed as the leader for the Safe Management Officers. Need to be back to office on 01-Jun to prepare for the employees returning back to office.