Singapore Could Be Headed for a Massive Banking Crisis

Legendary Swiss investor Felix Zulauf, who runs Zulauf Asset Management, has warned that Singapore’s largest banks are at risk of massive capital outflows if the Chinese economy experiences a hard landing, which he expects will happen this year.

We are in a down cycle that will end with crisis and calamity. China in today’s cycle is what US housing was during the financial crisis in 2008,” said Zulauf, who was speaking at the annual Barron’s roundtable.

According to Zulauf, Singapore has attracted a lot of foreign capital over the years because of its image as a strong-currency state, and will be extremely exposed to the situation in China.

Said Zulauf, “Singapore’s banking-sector loans have grown dramatically in the past five or six years. Singapore is now losing capital, which means the banking industry is losing deposits.” He added that this would probably cause carry trades to go awry, resulting in steep losses for those who had borrowed heavily to buy higher-yielding assets.

Zulauf expects that a banking crisis will first develop in Singapore, before spreading eventually to Hong Kong.

According to Australia’s Financial Review, other analysts  have also said that Singapore’s three largest banks – DBS, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank – could suffer a sharp spark in problem loans if the Chinese economy brakes sharply.

After all, all three are big lenders in the Asian region, with significant corporate loan books. The three banks could face a big jump in their problem loans if there is a spate of defaults by debt-laden Chinese companies, or from other companies in the region whose earnings are already tumbling as a result of flagging Chinese growth.

For the full transcript of Zulauf’s interview, please click here.

Suicides of Top Students and The Worship of Academic Perfectionism

We previously reported the case of a straight-A student in Singapore who killed herself over two B-grades, despite scoring scored distinctions for her other subjects.

Here’s another story (albeit in the United States) that appeared recently in The New York Times.

Now, if you are contemplating suicide due to academic failure, may we please ask you to watch this video?

We feel that too many students (and their parents) are selling themselves short in the quest for academic perfectionism.

Education — which was meant to be a blessing — is turning out to be a heavy yoke, because it has been substituted into a form of idol worship.

As Christians, we are taught that it is God who supplies all of our needs (Philippians 4:19) and who gives us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). However, society instills into us a false belief that the only guarantee to a bright future is academic perfectionism (and thus, the need to worship at its altar).

The two stories (in the hyperlinks provided above) illustrate that when parents and their children buy into this false belief, it can lead to tragic consequences.

You see, academic perfectionism leaves no room for error, no room for a anything but an A-grade, or for others being better than you.

The spirit of academic perfectionism flogs you into thinking that in order to survive in the world, you need to be ‘Number 1’ in every subject, everytime.

And when you are not the ‘Number 1’, the spirit of academic perfectionism ridicules you and tells you that your life is not worth living.

On the other hand, the Spirit of Christ tells us that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28), meaning that even if you fail to achieve academically what you had set out to achieve, God still has a wonderful plan and destiny for you.

God’s plan and destiny for each of us stands firm even when other people are better than us. Indeed, the Spirit of Christ teaches us to be humble, to think of others as better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

Now, think about it again — isn’t it liberating to be able to acknowledge others as being better than ourselves, yet at the same time, rest in full assurance that God has a wonderful plan and destiny for each of us?

And when we do that, we find ourselves less stressed up, less desirous of making comparisons with others, and more able to become what God had intended us to be.

That’s why the Spirit of Christ tells us: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest“. (Matthew 11:28).

BITTER HYMN OF THE TIGER MOTHER: Straight A Student Commits Suicide Over B-Grades, Mother Takes Her Own Life Months Later

Judging from the sales of the bestseller “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother“, many parents seem to have taken to the perfectionistic parenting philosophy of the author, Amy Chua, but not realising that there could be a flip (and detrimental) side to it.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Chua disclosed that in raising up her two daughters Sophia and Louisa, she forbade them to “get any grade less than an A” or to “not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama“.

Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, “You’re lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you.”” wrote Chua in The Wall Street Journal.

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it.”

Now, Chua may have succeeded in raising her two daughters this way, but one should be cautious about emulating her, as highlighted by a recent case in Singapore.

Recently, a straight-As student who attended a top school in Singapore committed suicide over scoring two Bs in her GCE “O” levels, reported Singaporean daily, The New Paper.

The GCE “O” levels is the final exam for teenage secondary school students in Singapore and except for two Bs – in English and Mathematics – the student had scored distinctions for her other subjects.

The only child left a note for her parents: “Mum, I am sorry for being a disappointment. I should have done better.”

Dad, I am sorry you will not have the chance to walk me down the (church) aisle to give me away.

The teenager jumped to her death just three hours after learning of her results.

To add to the tragedy, three months after the 16-year-old had plunged to her death, the teen’s mother also killed herself.

According to Madam Ng Siang Mui, the grandmother of the teenager, the teen’s mother had been grief-stricken and guilt-ridden over her granddaughter’s death.

The teen’s parents used to fight over their daughter’s education. The mum wanted to push her to excel and her dad felt that the child should be left alone.

Said Madam Ng, “My Xiao Mei (her granddaughter) was always affected whenever her parents fought over her studies.”

My son-in-law felt very sorry for his daughter. He used to approach me to help him talk to my daughter, to ask her not to push Xiao Mei too hard. He felt that they should let Xiao Mei be, as she was a good girl.

Whenever I tried to broach the issue with my daughter, she’d get angry and tell me not to interfere with the way she wanted to bring her child up.

She often compared Xiao Mei’s results with those of her friends’ children and would ask, ‘How come so and so can do this and you cannot?‘”

Xiao Mei’s mother wanted her to get into medical school.

Madam Ng said that a month after Xiao Mei’s death, her father moved out.

That broke my daughter’s heart. I think it was then that she, too, gave up living.”

Madam Ng recalled the conversation she had with her daughter a day before she killed herself.

She told me, ‘Ma, I shouldn’t have pressurised Xiao Mei in her studies. You didn’t do that to us when we were young and we all turned out fine’.

According to The New Paper, Xiao Mei’s father is now mentally unstable and seeking psychiatric help.

Madam Ng was originally reluctant to speak to the media, but changed her mind later because she hoped that sharing their story could help save lives.

It should be highlighted that Xiao Mei is Chinese, and her profile fits that which Amy Chua had written in the The Wall Street Journal about children raised in Chinese homes.

That said, although Chua esteems the draconian Chinese approach in pushing their children to achieve academically, it’s clear from Xiao Mei’s case that there is a detrimental aspect of it, which Chua did not mention in her book.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother author Amy Chua with Hilary Clinton

Above:  Amy Chua (author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) with Hillary Clinton (Source:  Facebook)

Reaching Out With God’s Love to Prostitutes and Pimps in Geylang’s Red-light District

Since last year, workers from Operation Mobilisation (OM) have been reaching out with God’s love to prostitutes and pimps in Geylang’s red-light district.

Carrying baskets filled with goodies, the workers set out by foot to these streets that are shunted by many Singaporeans, to strike up conversations with the ladies of the night and to pray for them.

Dara (name has been changed), a young girl who looked like she had come from Southeast Asia, shifted about in the shadows of a dim street in Geylang. Strapped in a tight revealing red dress, she looked vulnerable.

Maureen, a staff worker from OM, was on one of her night walks with her co-workers in Geylang when her path crossed Dara. Maureen approached the girl and asked her if she would like to be prayed for. Dara agreed. Maureen prayed for her to be the woman God had shaped her to be.

Hot tears streamed down Dara’s cheeks. How the girl felt, one could not quite tell, but Maureen said: “I felt a heart connection with her.

Some pimps and streetwalkers are fast becoming friends with the OM workers, receptive to engaging in conversation and receiving prayers. Said Edwin, a worker, “During one walk, we spoke with a brothel owner. He was sick and asked us to pray for him.”

OM invites volunteers to join them in reaching out to this under-served community in Geylang. If you are interesting in finding out more about this ministry, please do not hesitate to contact us through our Contact Us page, so that we can link you up with them. God bless you!

Eleventh-hour Conversion of The Late Real-Estate Tycoon, Ng Teng Fong

The late real-estate tycoon, Ng Teng Fong, passed away in February 2010, but it has recently been revealed that the late Mr Ng had become a Christian on his deathbed.

This was revealed by Mr Ng’s younger son, Philip, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Far East Organization, and who shared this information in an article written to the Anglican Diocese of Singapore:

My life has changed because of the Lord. I do morning devotions, I pray because there is much I do not understand. I pray for discernment, for guidance. God makes sense of all situations. He made sense of what I went through with my father just before he passed away.

My father was not a pagan worshipper but he did not have time for God; he was too busy running his business. He did not object when he knew that I had come to Christ. In fact, he always talked to me about meeting his Maker one day.

But God had a lot of time for my father in the last days of his life during his hospitalization after a fall at home. A pastor came to the hospital practically every day with my aunt, and spoke to him in his native dialect Heng Hwa, reading to him Psalm 23. The doctors had told the family that my father, who was in a coma, was brain dead. They said that he was not going to come out of the coma. But they were wrong. On the eighth day in the hospital, a Catholic priest came and spoke to him about Jesus. The priest asked, “Do you believe that Jesus is your Saviour?” And he turned his head twice. He was not brain dead! Later the doctors acknowledged that he could have turned his head only if he was not brain dead, and they changed the diagnosis. On the ninth and tenth days, his vital signs improved and he was able to breathe spontaneously.

God gave my father an eleventh-hour opportunity to affirm Jesus Christ. Ten days compressed, the hospital became a church, and the church was with my father. My brother Robert was baptised in the hospital on the tenth day because he realised that something had happened; it was the grace of God.

For 60 years my mother was a devotee of the goddess of mercy. But when my father was hospitalized, she stopped. She welcomed the prayers from the clergy and from the Christian community that was in the hospital. How do you make sense of this? Only God can. My mother is now baptised and worships at a Methodist church.

I have aspirations, like everybody else, to serve the Lord and to share His Gospel. I count myself so blessed to have this journey of transformation. I know this transformation must always start with oneself. The self must die with the Lord, and be resurrected anew. It now behoves me to be a light for my family and my organization.

Praise the Lord! To read the full article, please click this hyperlink.

If God is Good, Why Do Some Christians Suffer from Terminal Cancer — The True Testimony of the Late Singaporean Aesthetics Doctor, Dr Richard Teo Keng Seng

God is good. But some might scoff, “If God is good, why do some Christians suffer from terminal cancer?”

There are no easy answers to this question, and if you are a believer who does suffer from terminal cancer, you might take some comfort from the true story of the late Dr Richard Teo Keng Seng.

Dr Teo had everything that most Singaporeans could aspire to by the time he was in his 30s — wealth measured in millions of dollars, a thriving aesthetics practice, and sports cars, including a Ferrari 430.

“I’m a typical product of today’s society,” said Dr Teo in a speech in November 2011.

“From young, I’ve always been under the influence and impression that to be happy is to be successful. And to be successful, is to be wealthy. So I led my life according to this motto.”

Despite being born into a poor family, Dr Teo excelled in his studies and was accepted in medical school.

In medical school, he chose the quick way to big bucks — by switching from opthalmology to aesthetics.

The move paid handsomely for him, and in the first year, his cosmetic surgery clinic ‘was raking in millions’.

Dr Teo’s newly-made wealth opened the door to high-society life. He loved dinning at Michelin-rated restaurants and rubbing shoulders with celebrities.

Dr Teo also loved life in the fast lane and, at the pinnacle of his life, owned sports cars like the Honda S2000, Subaru WRX, Nissan GTR and a Ferrari 430

On how he would spend his weekends, Dr Teo said, “Typically, I’d have car club gatherings. I’d take out my track car and go up to Sepang in Malaysia for car racing. It was my life.”

Dr Teo had no time for God although he had been baptised many years earlier. When his friends experienced a personal revival, they advised Dr Teo to return to church with them, but their advice fell on stony ground.

“In my arrogance, I told them, “You know what? You go tell your pastor to change his sermon to 2pm and I will consider coming to church,” said Dr Teo.

In his arrogance, Dr Teo also uttered the following statement to his friends, “If God really wanted me to come back to church, He will give me a sign.”

It was a statement which he later said he would live to rue, because by the end of 3 weeks, he would — without first being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer — find himself back in church.

Said Dr Teo, “My whole world just turned upside down. I couldn’t accept it. I have a hundred relatives on both sides — my mom’s and my dad’s — and not a single one has cancer. To my mind, I have good genes, I’m not supposed to be having this! Some of my relatives are heavy chain smokers. Why am I having lung cancer? I was in denial.”

Dr Teo also fell into deep depression. He searched for answers. There weren’t any… until he heard an “inner voice”.

Said Dr Teo, “There I was lying on the operating table, staring blankly at the ceiling in a cold, quiet operating theatre. Suddenly, I heard an inner voice; it was not coming from the outside; it was inside. This small inner voice was one that I had never felt before. And it said very specifically: “This has to happen to you, at your prime, because it’s the only way you can understand.””

“I said, “Woah, where did that come from?” You know, when you speak to yourself, you’d say [something like] ‘what time should I leave this place?’ [or] ‘where shall I have dinner after this?’. You’d speak from a first person point of view…whereas the voice that came spoke as a third party. It said, “This has to happen to YOU, at YOUR prime, because this is the only way YOU can understand.” At that time, my emotions just overflowed and I broke down and cried alone there.”

Dr Teo did later understand why the ‘small inner voice’ had told him that this was the ‘only way’ he could be made to understand. Explained Dr Teo, “I was just so full of myself that there was no other way I could have turned back to God.”

God continued speaking to him.

Said Dr Teo, “I was in bed one afternoon, struggling and asking God, “Why? Why do I have to go through this suffering? Why do I have to endure this hardship, this struggle? Why me?”

“As I fell asleep, in my dreamy state, a vision came and said ‘Hebrews 12:7-8’.”

“Now, mind you, at this time, I had not read the bible [and] had no clue what’s Hebrews. I don’t even know how many chapters there are. Totally clueless.”

“But it (the vision) said ‘Hebrews 12:7-8’, very specifically.”

“I didn’t think too much of it [and] continued sleeping. After I woke up, and I said [to myself], “What’s there to lose? I’d check it out.” Danny (Dr Teo’s close friend, who had previously advised him to return to church) had bought me a bible; it’s still quite new… So I flipped to the Old Testament. Hebrews to me sounds like something ancient, so it should be in the Old Testament right? So I flipped through the Old Testament. No Hebrews there. I was so disappointed.”

“Then I said, “Maybe [it’s in the] New Testament; let’s have a look!”. WOW — New Testament; there’s Hebrew’s!! [And turning to] Hebrews 12:7-8, it said, “Endure hardship as discipline as God is treating you as His children.””

“I said, “WAH!! Where did that come from?” I was getting goose pimples all over my body. I said, “This can’t be, right?” I mean, what’s the chance of somebody who has never read the bible to have a vision of a chapter [and] a specific verse that answers my question directly?”

“So at that point, I was sold [and] said [to God], “YOU WIN! YOU WIN!!””

“From that day onwards, I started believing in my God. And the last time I heard that inner voice was [at] the end of April. And that inner voice — same thing, in the afternoon, as I was sleeping. In a dreamy state, I just heard Him say, “Help others in hardship.””

“It was more like a command, rather than a statement. And that’s when I embarked on this journey [of] helping others in hardship.”

Dr Teo obeyed the command up to the day of his death.  He reached out to numerous individuals, including single mothers, insurance agents, medical students, cancer patients and church members.

Mrs Teo, Dr Teo’s wife, told The New Paper, “He wanted to inspire those facing hardships, that life has more to offer than to be filled with hatred and emptiness”.

Dr Teo was adamant in getting his message across even as he lay sick and dying. According to Mrs Teo, a day before her husband died, his laptop was filled with new sets of photos to be shown to his audience. He had also been working on a new speech.

Dr Teo’s inspiring testimony of God’s dealing with him can be watched in the Youtube link below.

Dr Richard Teo

Dr Richard Teo’s story was featured in the 28 October 2012 edition of The New Paper.

Is There Christian Television in Singapore?

Is there Christian television in Singapore?

No, there isn’t. This is in line with the government’s (Media Development Authority’s) policy that “television as a mass medium should be kept secular” and that “programmes of a proselytic nature should not be broadcast“.

Nevertheless, Christians in Singapore are not blocked from watching Christian television through the Internet.

For Christians fluent in Mandarin, one recommended Christian TV station is the Taiwanese Good TV, whose programme are broadcast ‘live’ on the Internet, just as they would appear on Taiwanese television.