Wednesday, February 28, 2007

SGX trading system seem to have crashed

No, I dont mean, the prices. That already crashed. I meant all stock trading appear suspended, like it is just after 5pm. Guess there was so much selling the systems crashed. So much for tomorrow's market, today.

Update: So trades were being matched, well at least those that made it through, and maybe there will be confirmation of the trade, well, maybe. The shortists who hope to cover after 4pm would be caught with naked shorts, setting the stage for a big up day T+4.

-DJ UPDATE: Singapore Exchange Confirms Disruption To Trading
(Recasts lead, adds statement from Singapore Exchange.)

SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)--Trading on the Singapore stock market, which fell 3.7% Wednesday amid a slide in global equities, was disrupted by the high volume of orders, and the problem hasn't yet been fixed, the exchange said.

Technical staff are working to resolve congestion in the trading system but the exchange can't yet say that trading will be normal on Thursday, a Singapore Exchange Ltd. (S68.SG) spokeswoman said.

Brokers said the exchange's trading system was overwhelmed Wednesday.

There were "major problems getting orders through and trade confirmation," said a broker at a local bank.

Internet-based trading systems were also affected, the broker said.

The volume of orders caused "congestion" in the retrieval and display of order information on the majority of trading terminals, the Singapore Exchange said in a statement.

Buy and sell orders were still able to be matched, it said.

Some 3.2 billion shares changed hands Wednesday, according to Singapore Exchange data, about the same as Tuesday's session.

The Straits Times Index closed down 3.7% at 3,111.94 points following an overnight fall of 3.3% on the Dow Jones Industrial Average on fears of a U.S. recession and a steep fall Tuesday in Chinese shares.

-By Stephen Wright, Dow Jones Newswires; 65 6415 4151;
-Edited by Costas Paris
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 28, 2007 07:14 ET (12:14 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Taking vitamin supplements may increase risk of death, says study

Linus Pauling, a recipient of two Nobel Prizes, once postulated that, if small doses of vitamins is so essential for staying alive, taking big doses will make you stronger, more immune to diseases. His ideas helped germinate a whole generation of pill popping hypochondriacs, even though there is little scientific basis to his ideas, the aura of his two Nobel Prizes convinced many that he is too smart to be wrong.

But increasing studies have shown that overdose of water insoluble vitamins, like Vitamin A, can cause severe health problems. The current study seems to suggest that even at previously considered safe levels, vitamin supplements could increase the likelihood of death. In other words, it is worse than an ineffective placebo; it is downright detrimental to spend money on vitamin supplements. All the vitamins you need, can be obtained from a balanced diet. Any further attempts to "trump" nature by taking supplements may not help, or worse still, kill you.

Which makes me think about our "foreign talent" policies. Like vitamins, if we try to bar all foreigners from Singapore, Singapore will die. But do we need to supplement our "natural intake" with more generous scholarships? Does it even help? I do not think it is unreasonable to say that, if ever Singapore has an overdose of "foreign talent", both Singaporeans and foreigners will suffer.

Chaos at Chingay: Is this the Singaporean way?

So we had a little Chinese New Year parade called the Chingay, with floats and hip-hop dancing Members of Parliament. Huge crowds gathered to watch. Singaporeans are always unusually game for some free entertainment. Unruly behaviour happened, happy mood soiled. Yet another story about Ugly Singaporeans. Or is it? From the article:

"things went awry when the volunteers were not present. Two passers-by succeeded in sneaking in. A man tried to follow suit minutes later, was stopped by volunteers, but refused to retreat. A police officer tried to intervene, but was greeted with a rude hand gesture and a chase followed.

Then all hell broke loose. More people sneaked in and stood around, obstructing the ticket holders' view. By the time the police and volunteers arrived on the scene, it was too late for them to take action against the dozens of "infiltrators". What further infuriated me was when some of them tried to occupy my seat when I stood up to catch a better view of the show. An elderly couple next to me suffered the same fate."

Does it sound like a Singaporean would try to trespass barriers, even though they are more symbolic than practical? Singapore is a place where people reserve seats in hawker centres with packets of tissue paper, and queues can form spontaneously whenever such are needed. I doubt Singaporeans will go so far to make "hand gestures" at policemen. Not that I am terribly proud of it, but Singaporeans behave like sheep in a herd. Our men in uniform are like the shepherd dogs whose barks are sufficient to keep the herd in line. Given that one in four warm bodies in Singapore are foreigners, it will not surprise me that such "out of line" behaviour was committed by foreigners. In fact such anti-social behaviour is very common when I have the misfortune of bumping into tour groups from PRC at tourist sights overseas.

So Singapore wants to have 6.5 million. Given our birthrate, the growth will certainly be fueled entirely by foreigners, the majority of which will be from PRC, because the government clearly wants to maintain the racial ratio. What happens when we have to compete with people who do not respect our rules and our way of doing things? We can either choose to let them walk all over us, or we can beat them by being more rude, more anti-social, more nasty. Indeed, those unruly people could very well be Singaporeans fed up with being the nice guy coming in last.

Is that the Singapore you want your children to grow up in? One of the letter writers also pointed out the dangers the mismanaged crowd posed to small children.

I have serious doubts about the competency of the government to manage Singapore at our crowding level of 4.5 million. When we hit 6.5 million, Singapore will probably be unlivable for families.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Alex Au(Yawning Bread) has lost the plot

Alex Au of Yawning Bread fame, has never made it a secret that he supports the Singapore government's "foreign talent" policies, but of late, he has turned downright into a cheerleader for more "foreign talent".

In his latest piece on Yawning Bread, 6.5 million will make a different Singapore, he is blatantly accusing Singaporeans of being "economically illiterate" for not embracing the "foreign talents" with open arms. You can see how lopsided his argument is, with his example of importing 2 million foreigners into an uninhabited island with no natural resources, and a thriving economy will exist just by having the foreigners there, and somehow, the same will apply to Singapore when we import over 2 million foreigners MORE to meet the 6.5 million target.

How lame is his example?

First of all, Singapore is not an uninhabited island. Can he be sure that the original inhabitants will be better off after the island population nearly doubles? Can he even be sure the proportion that benefits from the population not be meaninglessly small?

But Singapore is not Malaysia. We embrace globalisation and we do not protect our "Children of the Earth". Which begs the the next question: 2 million more foreigners do not congregate in an island with no natural resources automatically. There has to be some incentive to attract them here. There has to be more incentives to keep them here, because I dont think most people can get off just by rubbing shoulders with strangers in an incredibly crowded island. Who foots the bill to attract all these foreigners? Who pays the price to keep the foreigners here? For such massive number of immigrants to stay, it is inevitable that we put the foreigners on a pedestal, and relegate Singaporeans to a second class status.

As an avid traveller, I am keenly aware that some of the most wonderful tourist sights are often omitted by popular tour guidebooks, not out of ignorance, but because the writers feel they have a moral obligation not to destroy the pristine settings with endless hordes of package tourists who has no personal interest in the sights other than snapping photos to prove they were there. If Singapore cannot keep up the incentives to keep our millions of foreigners here, and after all the foreigners leave, what will Singapore be left with? Would the most talented and mobile Singaporeans who were forced out by the crowding want to return?

None of these are important to Alex Au, of course. He thinks all the problems with overcrowding will be solved by the government's excellent planning skills. Yes, the same government that threatened the people "Stop at two" in the 70s with punitive measures, now blame the people for three decades of low birthrate, using it as the convenient excuse for the indiscriminate import of foreigner, is going to plan all the problems away with their unrivalled foresight.

That, and avoiding "over-regulation" and conservative risk averse "habits of mind" is all we need. By that, I suppose he means legalising gay sex, and everybody will live in harmony ever after.

Yes, it is obvious Alex Au supports the import of foreigners because it will make the strengthen his gay rights movement. He sees Singaporean minds calcified with homophobia and is incapable of moving forward without a kick in the butt by foreigners. The tipping point was probably Workers' Party recent declaration of their reluctance to champion gay rights. He probably feels betrayed by the Worker's Party, after he framed and made famous the greatest victory of the Workers' Party in recent memory. Since opposition politics is not going to help his primary cause: gay rights, then I guess he is better off currying the favour of the ruling party. Come to think about it, the ruling party's strategy to fix the internet may not be that anonymous at all.

I used to be a big fan of Yawning Bread, and it had a great impact on me regarding gay rights. But the more I read, the more I see, Alex Au is just another foreigner worshiping, Singaporean loathing Singaporean. Take a look at "What a clean and cultured place we have" to see what he really thinks about Singapore and Singaporeans.