Whisper HR is in the South Pacific

Whisper HR

Archive for the ‘Singapore’ Category

Feb
09

Singapore

Posted by Mei on February 9, 2011 October 21- Nov 13, 2010. We entered Singapore at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club (RSYC). The yacht club organised the CIQP to meet us and a single person cleared us in. The RSYC was lovely on many levels, helpful staff, swimming pool, air conditioned showers, toilets with complimentary towels, restaurants and free Wifi on yacht (Singapore broadband internet is outrageously expensive), The yacht club was close to CBD and MRT, it was quite central. The reciprocal membership deal was a month’s berthing at members rates (about 24 SGP/day for us), water and electricity was extra. The downside was the marina was not quiescent; there was 24/7 wash from the crew ferries and the resulting slop could be annoying, but it didn’t really bother us. The marina avoided possible accidents by placing a single boat in each slot.  The reports from marina One Fifteen were also favourable. A bit more expensive but there was a free shuttle to the MRT. Raffles marina was the most expensive and far far away from the CBD. Singapore is my home town, but I didn’t recognise it. The buildings and roads had all been redeveloped and the only things that remained the same were the road names and suburbs. It has been 18 years since I was last there. I was looking forward to the food. The hawker food of my youth. Hahaha. Tjioe informed me of a sad weird fact. The hawkers of old have passed on and their children have taken advantage of the free education and advancement open to all Singaporeans, and are not in the cooking biz. So who is doing the cooking? The mainland Chinese workers have been taught to cook the Singapore specialities. Peculiar!! Do they even like the food? Singapore of my youth was 15 x 15 miles, with 2.8 million peeps and the third largest port in the world. Today 2010, it is 14 x 26 miles with 5 million peeps and the second largest port. One million of the residents are foreign workers (including ex-pats). 85% of the peeps live in high rises. Coming to Singapore from the sea makes me very aware of the quantity of container docks lining the coast. The south west coast is almost wall to wall container docks. Sentosa island which has extremely expensive real estate overlooks the ugly container docks, and that view could be improved by relocating the docks further west, so they are. Interestingly my cousin Bernard thinks the port trade has peaked in terms of importance to the Singapore economy. He told me Singapore’s strategy to become a major Asian player as opposed to a SE Asian Player meant it would have to take on China and play the game smarter. He said the area China is weak in is governance and protection of IP. So while the multinationals were happy to manufacture in China, they preferred to base their IP infrastructure and finance mechanisms in Singapore. The strategy also involved making Singapore more attractive to live in and involved adding cultural and major events for entertainment. Bernard saw the amalgamation of the ASX and the SSX as a move in the right direction to make both exchanges very significant in Asia. In fact the most significant with the tightest governance in the region. Bottom line the Super funds and asset managers need to be confident of the companies. Mei Chan mentioned that Singapore is has significant funds under asset management, a leader in the region. Alan mentioned that investing in retraining and continuing education was now a priority especially for the unskilled Singaporean. It is interesting that Singapore can make the long term strategic decisions and focus on it. It is a shame that Australia struggles with that. Maybe a longer term in office would help.

Black Belt Shoppers

We took Norm and Pauline to Orchard Road to give them an idea of what black belt shopping was about. It stunned me. I could not believe the number of Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuiton, Armani, Rolex shops there were in almost every building on that street. Bernard suggested each of them only had to sell one item a day to survive. The Chanel shop had a queue waiting outside. Must be Christmas. I was looking for shops that were out of the ordinary and found lalique and an amazing handmade glass shop at the Paragon centre. These shops had had seriously beautiful crafts. We saw some desperados determined to win a car come what may. To own the car they needed to be the last person standing with their hand on the blessed car. We are talking about days. They were only are allowed toilet breaks. Every other moment like eating or sleeping was done by this metal monster. Reminds me of a movie I saw once called “they shoot horses don’t they?” Audrey (cousin) suggested there was nothing much to do in Singapore other than eat and shop. Thus the Singaporean obsession with food and real labels. Audrey likes shopping almost as much as she likes tooth extraction without anaesthesia. Norm and Pauline went to the Jurong Bird Park and loved it. We went with them to the Marina Bay Sands with them and were astonished that we couldn’t get into the casino without a passport. The Singaporeans are discouraged from visiting the casino and a fee of $100 / visit (or $2000/year) is used as a deterrent. It doesn’t really stop the gambling addicts and there are the corresponding social problems. I didn’t like Marina Bay Sands, yet another shopping mall with the same shops, it felt cold and unappealing. The lookout was somewhat interesting but it would have been nice to grab a coffee there. We visited Daphne and her family. Met her sons for the first time, they were almost adults. It was almost as if we had blinked and the years flew past. It was great fun to catch up with Ken, Uncle George and Aunty Glory, but I would have loved to also spend some one on one time with Daph. She’s so damn busy. Daph took us to our old neighbourhood. We had met each other there when we were four years old. It was extraordinary how recognisable this area was. There are pockets in Singapore with green uninterrupted forest views. All hidden of course. Not for the tourists. I also caught up with Tjioe. We met in primary school at St Margaret’s at age six. It was really good to spend time with her. We were lucky she was in the country and could take some time off.