Iskandar Malaysia: Vision versus reality

SINGAPORE (Sept 9): It did not take long for pundits a decade ago to conclude that the key to Iskandar Malaysia’s success would be Singapore’s participation. And indeed, cheap real estate and the promise of development and growth did lure many, both companies and private investors, over the Causeway. Thirteen years and billions of dollars later, the investor profile has changed even as investors here have been poorly rewarded.

Pay up, or they give up

SINGAPORE (May 13): The row over the palm oil industry and the detrimental effects it has on the environment has intensified in recent weeks, fired up by the European Union’s plan to curb the use of palm oil in biofuels. Significantly, biofuels only emerged in the last decade or so as another use for palm oil as the world looked for renewable sources of energy.


Rich irony in a food paradise

SINGAPORE (Apr 1): It is hard to figure out why, in a compact and wealthy city state such as Singapore, where food options are plentiful and comparatively cheap, there are still people who worry about where their next meal will come from.

Living it up

SINGAPORE (Mar 25): This is the season for indices. On March 20, Singapore was ranked 34th in the World Happiness Index — less happy than Taiwan, but far more cheery than Hong Kong and China, as well as its neighbours, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Globally, the Scandinavian and north European cities top the index; and New Zealand, Canada and Austria round out the top 10. The index this year focuses on happiness and the community, taking into account how happiness has evolved over the years, as affected by technology, social norms, conflicts and government policies.

It was a doggone year

SINGAPORE (Feb 4): CLSA, for the 25th year running, has published its widely anticipated Lunar New Year predictions for the markets, which marry the art of fengshui with a keen observation of events and trends. For a brokerage founded by a group of business journalists, its predictions might not be entirely accurate, but it is nonetheless entertaining.

200-year-old advantage no longer applies

SINGAPORE (Jan 28): Jan 29 marks the date, two centuries ago, that British East India Company agent Thomas Stamford Raffles set foot in Singapore. But Raffles would probably not recognise the place at which he was said to have disembarked, surrounded as it is today by skyscrapers of glass and steel.

Poor company culture increasingly recognised as causing poor performance

SINGAPORE (Jan 21): On Jan 16, David Solomon apologised to the Malaysian people for the role that Goldman Sachs’ former managing partner in Asia, Tim Leissner, played in the defrauding of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd fund. Solomon, the investment bank’s CEO, reiterated in an earnings call that Goldman had been given assurances by Leissner and Malaysian officials that turned out to be untrue. In short, it was Leissner’s fraud and Goldman had been taken in as the Malaysian people had.

Brace for big changes in 2019

The tumult we saw in 2018 is not going to let up in 2019. Political, technological and climate changes will create uncertainty.

SINGAPORE (Dec 31): The biggest driver of change in the world now is undoubtedly the shifting relationship between China and the US. According to global consultancy Control Risks, what started as a trade conflict between the two countries has now morphed into a strategic rivalry of sorts that “will ultimately harden into a more permanent stance” next year.

2018 has set 2019 up for a bumpy ride

SINGAPORE (Dec 31): At the rate we are going, the year ahead is promising to be even more challenging than these last 364 days. There is doubt over the strength of the world’s top two economies. Major markets are in turmoil, after a decade-long bull run, and amid concerns that the US economy may not be able to handle the continued pace of interest rate hikes.

Disruption is the impetus for inclusion

SINGAPORE (Dec 17): 2018 has been a year of disruption, though not just in terms of new technologies replacing traditional methods or innovative start-ups displacing outmoded business models.

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