A S$1 million 3 room flat in town within 20 years?

“Some Housing Board home owners sitting on a goldmine. HDB units bought in 2007 can fetch more than double the purchase price”

Some lucky Housing Board home owners, whose flats are entering the resale market this year, are looking at more than double the price they paid for the units.
Property analysts say such high asset appreciation, attributable to good timing and a buoyant resale market, is one that is unlikely to be repeated in a long time.
These flat owners, who had the keys handed to them in 2007, would have fulfilled the minimum occupancy period (MOP) of five years this year. 
QUEENSTOWN ESTIMATED PROFIT: $420,000 The HDB says that flats whose minimum occupancy period could be fulfilled this year include those in mature estates such as Queenstown, and non-mature estates such as Punggol.
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A S$1 million 3 room flat in town within 20 years?

These flat owners, who had the keys handed to them in future, after fulfilling the minimum occupancy period (MOP) of five years, could fetch a selling price of S$1 million for a 3 room flat in town within 20 years, taking into account the inflation of 5.5% per year, and the ballooning of interest rates. And they say that HDB is affordable? I have therefore created the greatest demand for New HDB flats, nobody wants to buy old flat unless for good location.

– Contributed by Oogle 

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How Greece can dominate and export it’s way out of a crisis


Financial distress and political turmoil persists in Greece. And now a Greek exit from the euro is what everyone is buzzing about these days.
However, there are numerous actions Greece can take to help turnaround its desperate financial position.
Earlier this year, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. just published a study titled Greece 10 Years Ahead: Defining Greece’s New Growth Model and Strategy.  As its title would suggest, the report aims to lay out a new growth plan for the financially beleaguered country.
Among other things, McKinsey argues that Greece needs to be more involved in processing foods that currently leave its country as low margin unfinished goods.  Greece has some of the most amazing food commodities in the world.  However, it lacks the capacity to process it and sell it at high profit margins.
“Greece has significant potential to increase its output, boost exports and contain imports, especially in four major high-potential categories, namely oils & fats, fruits & vegetables, dairy, and bakery products,” writes the studies authors.
More from McKinsey’s report:

As an example, Greece is the 3rd largest olive oil producer worldwide and exports 60% of its output to Italy in bulk, yet in doing so allows Italy to capture an extra 50% premium on the price of the final packaged product. The fact that Greece holds only a 28% of the global ‘Greek Feta’ cheese market and 30% of the US ‘Greek Style’ yogurt markets, further reinforces a clear commercial opportunity for Greece.

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi)

Posted: 26 May 2012 2135 hrs
GENEVA: Campaigners on Saturday welcomed a World Health Organization pledge to tackle research and funding gaps concerning some of the developing world’s biggest killer diseases.
Member countries are expected to hold talks later this year on an expert group’s recommendations that a globally binding convention is needed to address neglected tropical diseases (NTD), tuberculosis and others currently overlooked by the research industry.
It follows a meeting of the WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, in Geneva where members adopted a resolution calling on director general Margaret Chan to set up the meeting.
The document, the result of three-day negotiations, meanwhile urges governments and the private sector to boost investment in health research for diseases which disproportionately affect the developing world.
“These were extremely tough negotiations with the US, the EU — led by France — and Japan making every effort to block progress on what health experts agree should be the way forward to meet the medical needs of people in developing countries,” said Michelle Childs from Medecins Sans Frontieres.
“While there’s no doubt we are disappointed that there was not an immediate decision to move towards a research and development convention, countries have agreed to a formal process for considering the report’s recommendations and will bring these discussions back to the WHO in January,” said the policy director for medical charity’s access campaign.
The WHO-appointed group said in a report published last month that public investment in health research was currently dominated by wealthy countries and their own needs.
The panel recommended a “global binding instrument” to help developing countries access the drugs and technologies they require and suggested member states commit 0.01 percent of their GDP to fund the work.
In a draft resolution submitted to the WHO, Kenya urged the immediate set-up of a negotiating body to develop a convention based on the group’s recommendations.
This was countered by a document from the US, Japan and others supporting more informal consultations.
After about 15 hours of talks the agreed resolution requested WHO chief Margaret Chan “hold an open-ended member states meeting in order to analyse the report and the feasibility of the recommendations.”
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) said it hopes that national and regional-level talks also requested in the resolution will pave the way for a global response.

– AFP/al

Election Results : Worker’s Party retain Hougang SMC

A solid by-election win for Singapore’s opposition shows the ruling party has a long way to go before winning back voter support after its worst-ever showing in polls last year, analysts say.

The People’s Action Party (PAP), which has run Singapore since 1959, was delivered a shock when the opposition made unprecedented gains last May, and has since announced a series of reforms.
It had a chance to redeem itself at Saturday’s by-election in the opposition fiefdom of Hougang after the incumbent MP was fired over alleged extra-marital affairs, giving the PAP its best hope of taking the seat for 21 years.
The party pulled out all the stops in its campaign effort, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong personally going on the stump and his deputy Teo Chee Hean also weighing in.
But despite their efforts the PAP’s vote share went up by just three percentage points and Workers’ Party candidate Png Eng Huat comfortably held the seat with a 62 percent share.
With the by-election seen by some as a referendum on the PAP’s recent initiatives, analysts said it must step efforts to woo the city-state’s increasingly disgruntled citizens.
Issues that dominated last year’s election like immigration, the cost of living, a growing income gap, high salaries of cabinet ministers and overcrowding on public transport have not gone away.
Bridget Welsh, a political science professor at the Singapore Management University (SMU), said the result “sends a clear message to the PAP of the need to do much more to reform as a party and reform its policies”.
“The PAP needs to outgrow the politics of the past… and move toward inclusive policies and genuine engagement of voters in Singapore across the spectrum,” she told AFP.
“The days of relying on economic growth for political support are gone. It is now a matter of better responsiveness and fairness.”
The PAP has been credited with engineering Singapore’s rise to become one of Asia’s most advanced economies.
But it maintains a tight grip on power — an unusual electoral system gave it 81 out of 87 seats in parliament last year, on a 60 percent vote share — and has been criticised for denying civil and political rights.
Many Singaporeans are fed up with high living costs and criticise the government for its dogged focus on economic growth and for neglecting a widening gap between rich and poor.
After the 2011 elections the government stepped up the construction of public housing flats, which are home to more than 80 percent of Singaporeans.
It also budgeted hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade public transport, and reduced the intake of foreign workers amid complaints of increasingly fierce competition for jobs and housing.
Cabinet ministers also took a pay cut — although they remain the highest-paid politicians in the world, with the prime minister on a basic salary of Sg$2.2 million (US$1.73 million).
But discontent continues to rumble, and breakdowns on the metro train system have further dented the PAP’s reputation for efficiency.
SMU law professor Eugene Tan said the Hougang outcome “does raise questions on the policy changes in the past year and whether they actually amounted to putting things on the right track”.
And National University of Singapore political science professor Reuben Wong said the poll showed “there is a momentum for a continued liberalisation and continuing demand for more opposition in Singapore”.
Social networking sites are playing a bigger role in shaping public debate in the city-state, where the mainstream media is perceived to be pro-government.
Many Singaporeans now vent their feelings on the Internet and accuse PAP leaders of being out of touch with ordinary citizens.
Prime Minister Lee, who recently set up a Facebook page in an effort to engage with the people, said Saturday he was encouraged by the improvement in the PAP’s vote share in Hougang.
But he conceded the government has its work cut out ahead of the next general election, due in four years’ time.
“We have made progress, but there is much more to be done,” he said.

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Worker’s Party will win the Hougang SMC on the 26th May, it is a 99.99% bet, what will be interesting to note is the percentage of wins, which will fall into these categories;
WP win by 50%-59% Very Low Probability
WP win by 62.09% 13,447 votes
WP win by 70%-79% Probability?
WP win by 80%-89% Probability?
WP win by 90%-99% Very Low Probability

How many total voters are there?
How many are Singaporeans vs PRs?
What is the ethic groups split into?
How many % are low wage workers?
How many % are in the high income bracket?
What is the reason why PAP cannot break into Hougang SMC? 
Perhaps it is a wake up for PAP? 
– Contributed by Oogle.

The End of Milk and Honey, it may take as long as 5 years for the poor states to recover unless EU start reforms

PETRACHIOAIA, Romania | Fri May 25, 2012 7:54am EDT

(Reuters) – Five years after joining the European Union, this town 13 miles outside of Romania’s capital is still waiting for the jump in living standards its politicians said membership would bring.
Four out of five people have no indoor toilet or running water. Homes are heated with wood-burning stoves and most people raise animals in their yards to survive. Just one in five of Petrachioaia’s 3,375 inhabitants has a job.
Now Europe’s newest citizens – the 100 million people in Romania and nine other eastern European countries who have joined the 27-member bloc since 2004 – may have to retire their earlier dreams.
A growing number of economists working in think tanks and investment banks say the economic crisis in Europe has hurt the chances the EU’s poorest members will catch up to, or converge with, living standards in their richer counterparts.
Convergence – the trend for new member countries to move towards Europe’s average GDP per capita – has long been one of the rewards of EU membership.
That was what politicians almost universally promised in the run-up to membership, saying generous development aid from Brussels and foreign investment could help them follow the example of Ireland, whose boom took it from EU laggard to Celtic Tiger.
The former Communist states in eastern Europe appeared to be following the same path. But convergence has now slowed in many places, and economists say it could come to a stop in around 20 years at levels far lower than earlier hoped.
“Catching up is unlikely to proceed as rapidly as we thought before 2008,” said Ville Kaitila, a researcher at ETLA, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, referring to the most widely used measuring stick for living standards.
“Even though there has been overall long-term convergence in the EU, convergence is not a natural law.”
The economic slowdown over the past four years is already taking a toll. Angered by austerity measures and slow progress, some voters have swung away from reform-minded parties in favor of those that promote stronger social safety nets and reject economic reforms.
Constantin Florea, a 63-year-old former mill worker in Petrachioaia who subsists on a military pension of 100 euros a month and by raising animals, sums up the disillusionment.
“I thought they were supposed to raise our wages and pensions and create jobs for young people after we joined,” he said as his heifer munched on grass by the side of a road.
“If I didn’t have this cow, I’d starve.”
BOOM TO BUST
In the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia, people popped champagne and danced in the streets when the EU ushered them into its club eight years ago.
Bulgaria and Romania had to wait another three years for accession, which politicians and economists said would boost their economies.
It had elsewhere. In Ireland economic reforms and a torrent of EU development funds, foreign investment and a lending boom to firms and consumers boosted GDP per capita from 65 percent of the EU average in 1960, 13 years before EU entry, to almost 150 percent in 2008.
At first, it looked like the EU newcomers would go the same way.
In the run-up to membership and immediately after, foreign firms ploughed cash into factories in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, making the latter the world’s top car producer per head and, in less than a decade, pushing its GDP per person to 75 percent of the bloc’s average from just 50.
While the rest of the EU expanded at 2 percent a year from 2000 to 2008, the new eastern states easily grew at double that rate, with Latvia peaking at 11.2 percent in 2006.
Convergence looked a sure thing. Bulgaria’s GDP per person reached 44 percent of the EU average in 2008, from just 28 percent at the start of the decade. Romania’s rose two-thirds to 47 percent.
The crisis ended the boom, and slowed convergence.
Every country in the region save Poland has had a recession in the past four years. Latvia shrank by more than a fifth from 2008 to 2010, and a two-year contraction in Romania wiped more than 8 percent off its annual output.
Many western European members also suffered recessions. The worst-off – debt-choked Greece – is in its fifth year of what looks set to be a 20 percent contraction.
But it started from a much higher pre-crisis base and its living standards are still roughly 80 percent of the EU average, neck-and-neck with the richest new EU state, Slovenia, and well ahead of the poorest. Ireland too has dropped from its peak but is still roughly at Germany’s level.
NOT SO FAST
Since the crisis, eastern Europe’s governments have imposed austerity measures including layoffs and wage cuts for state workers, to tackle inefficiencies.
Foreign banks have shut off credit. Loans are harder to get. Romania has just re-entered recession.
“When we joined the EU people believed their world will change,” said Decebal Floroaica, a 38-year-old priest who has just opened the first soup kitchen in Pitesti, a southern Romanian town of around 180,000. “Our euphoria was at a maximum and they thought everybody would find jobs abroad. Now we’re realizing maybe the EU is not the land of milk and honey.”
Economists now expect growth to remain below potential for several years, squeezing the ability of countries to gain ground on their richer neighbors.
“Citizens of new member states must have expected fast convergence. As a result they have been disappointed,” Peter Halmai and Viktoria Vasary, Hungarian experts on transition economists, said in an email.
“The convergence machine continues to work, but at a lower level than expected earlier… In certain countries convergence has stopped or slowed down to a great extent.”
In forecasts updated from a 2010 paper published in The European Journal of Comparative Economics, Halmai and Vasary see growth in the new member states outpacing that of the EU’s original 15 countries, with a peak in 2030 or 2040.
That is when a demographic crisis is expected to hit eastern Europe, as a steep decline in the birth rate after the end of communism in 1989 brings a large fall in the workforce as generations born before then retire.
“The real convergence will stop from 2030 onwards and even a moderate divergence from the EU-15 might occur,” Halmai and Vasary wrote.
Though they concede that their long range forecasts are uncertain, the economists believe that in most advanced states – Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic – the eventual ceiling of convergence will peak just around the EU norm before falling back to below that level.
Poland would top out at 76 percent of the EU average in 2060, they said, far short of last year’s boast by former finance minister Leszek Balcerowicz that Poland could catch Germany in 20 years, and behind even countries such as troubled euro zone member Portugal.
The poorest two, Bulgaria and Romania, would struggle to break the 60 percent barrier in the next 30 years, and the latter could fall back to below present levels, they said.
Zsolt Darvas, a research fellow at Brussels-based think tank Bruegel, said that compared to Ireland’s performance two decades ago, the eastern states are lagging, with some coming to resemble the path of Portugal, Spain and Greece, which made advances but then hit a wall.
Darvas thinks Bulgaria and Romania still “have a lot of chances to converge” but that realistically “in 40-50 years, if they will be around 50 percent of the EU average, that would not be bad for these countries.”
END OF MILK AND HONEY
It’s not as if EU membership has brought no improvements. In Petrachioaia, the main road was paved for the first time in 2008, a year after Romania joined the EU. The last of the town’s four schools got plumbing two years ago.
In Bucharest, the capital, luxury cars have replaced dilapidated Soviet-era Dacias and western brands from Gucci to Starbucks stand where just a decade ago were grim shops labeled “shoes” and “food”.
But problems persist. Romania’s highways link only three cities, and none reach a land border or a port, a red flag for exporting investors.
Only about a quarter of the population hold down steady jobs – there are roughly the same number of pensioners and the same again of subsistence farmers – so the country’s production potential is below its better-off peers.
And while Ireland benefited from EU funds, Romania, dogged by corruption, bureaucracy and a lack of co-financing, has used just 8 percent of the 19 billion euros available since 2007.
Polls show that fewer than half of Romanians now have faith in the EU, down from over two thirds before entry. Tom Gallagher, a professor of east European politics at Bradford University, said that raises the risk of political dissent or a rise of radical parties if people become frustrated with the wealth gap.
“Romania will be a permanent drag on the EU if we continue to fall behind, and the country faces long-term underdevelopment and decay unless there is a relaunch of the partnership with the EU,” Gallagher said.
Petrachioaia school director Minu Iordanescu, 56, has already adjusted his expectations.
“Living conditions can get better, but that may take 50 years,” he said. “So maybe my grandchildren will taste a more civilized life.”
(Edited by Simon Robinson and Sara Ledwith)

The completion of A Vision for Singapore more than 6 years ago

The coming of age,
Is when Singapore achieves,
A developed country status,
Moving away from traditional industries,
Into high growth industries,
A whole new arena,
Where Lifestyle and branding will create,
Playgrounds for the rich and famous,
Creating jobs for everyone,
A world class cruise centre,
Marinas and developments,
Concept homes that will rival,
The best cities in the world,
Integrated resorts and caravan tours,
Into Malaysia, Thailand and beyond,
There hasn’t been a more exciting time,
To boost our Tourism industries,
The change in our infrastructure projects,
Seeking partners from the world,
Singaporeans will participate and collaborate,
A whole new entertainment concepts,
Where not only Singaporeans will play and learn,
But foreigners too,
Too many things have been left,
To the forces of nature,
The chase of copying others,
And others copying us.
It’s time to take control,
The creation of an entire concept,
To get the tourist to stay and spent,
And later to do business too,
Singapore will be a stepping stone to the region,
Where the duplication of goods and services will be avoided,
No need to worry about competition,
Because there will be none.
The trick is planning and staging,
For sustainable growth in every industry.

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s new International Cruise Terminal on Saturday welcomed its first ship.
Voyager of the Seas, the biggest ship ever to be based in Singapore and Asia, arrived at 6am with over 3,000 international guests.
The ship, which has 16 decks, is 311 metres long and weighs 138,000 tonnes.
It can take some 3,800 guests and has a crew of more than 1,150.
The ship’s operator Royal Caribbean International offers cruises directly from Singapore to Asian cities like Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Shanghai, and Xiamen.
It also announced that the Vogayer’s sister ship, the Mariner of the Seas, will be joining it in Asia in 2013.

– CNA/wk

Better demand for solving erectile dysfunction than contraceptive

Updated 05:49 PM May 25, 2012
LONDON – Scientists are a step close to developing a contraceptive pill for men, after identifying a new gene critical in the production of healthy sperm.
Researchers have found the gene, Katnal 1, controls the final stages of sperm development and could result in temporary infertility if blocked, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The discovery could lead to the development of medicine to interrupt the production of fertile sperm without causing permanent damage, scientists believe.
The study, at the Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, is thought to make the successful production of a contraceptive pill for men more likely in the near future.
Dr Lee Smith, from the university, said if the gene was blocked the testes would continue to produce sperm, only releasing immature, ineffective sperm which had not developed into the final stages.
He told the BBC: “If we can find a way to target this gene in the testes, we could potentially develop a non-hormonal contraceptive.
“The important thing is that the effects of such a drug would be reversible because Katnal1 only affects sperm cells in the later stages of development, so it would not hinder the early stages of sperm production and the overall ability to produce sperm.”
He added it would be “relatively difficult” to do as the protein lives inside cells, but there was “potential” to find another substance that protein worked with as an easier target.
The research, funded by the Medical Research Council, was based on altering the genetic code of mice to discover mutations which led to infertility.
Researchers at the Centre for Reproductive Health at the University
Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, told the BBC there was “certainly a need” for a non-hormonal contraceptive for men and that this had been a “Holy Grail” of research for many years.
“The gene described by the research group in Edinburgh sounds like an exciting new possible target for a new male contraceptive, but it may also shed light on why some men and sub-fertile and why their sperm does not work properly,” he said. AGENCIES

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I guarantee you, most men will not touch contraceptive and there is no demand for male contraceptive, you are better off investing your money on research for erectile dysfunction, where men will spent any amount of money to make sure they are fertile.
– Contributed by Oogle.