Former brigadier-general and SAF commander Cheng Siak Kian to become SBS Transit’s COO

Former brigadier-general and commander of the Republic of Singapore Air Force Cheng Siak Kian will be returning to Singapore to take on the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) of bus and rail operator SBS Transit starting 1 July.

Cheng joined ComfortDelGro in Sep four years ago, and had spent a year in SBS Transit prior to his appointment in Australia “where he learnt about the bus business and worked with the head of the bus tender committee on the Seletar bus package”.

In a statement on Tue (23 Apr), ComfortDelGro, the parent company of SBS Transit, also announced its appointment of Nicholas Yap as Country Head of ComfortDelGro Australia, with effect from 1 July.

SBS Transit’s COO and CEO posts were previously held by Gan Juay Kiat, with Gan being promoted to the latter position in 2010 after serving as the company’s COO since 2007.

However, following the exposé involving his extramarital affairs last year, Gan, a past SAF scholar, tendered his resignation as CEO of SBS Transit, citing “personal indiscretion”.

The Straits Times reported that ComfortDelGro’s group CEO Yang Ban Seng had also been taking on Gan’s role as an interim measure before the transport giant finds a suitable replacement for the post.

Commenting on the new appointments, Yang said: “The reorganisation is necessary to reflect the growing importance of our Australian operations.”

“As we expand, not just in breadth but in depth, it is apparent that we would need a Country Head to oversee the various businesses,” he added, specifically on Yap’s appointment.

The post Former brigadier-general and SAF commander Cheng Siak Kian to become SBS Transit’s COO appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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Ong Ye Kung: “Two strikes and you are out cannot be the standard application”

Minister of Education, Ong Ye Kung has just posted on his Facebook page on Monday evening to announce that he has spoken to the President of National University of Singapore and the Board Chairman to convey his concerns that the penalties NUS applied were manifestly inadequate in the recent sexual misconduct case.

Mr Ong went on to state, “From here on, for offences that affect the safety of students on campus, we have to take a tough stand, and send a strong signal to everyone.”

“Two strikes and you are out cannot be the standard application. NUS has to make its campus safe for all students, especially female students” wrote Mr Ong.

He wrote that NUS will review its discipline and sentencing framework swiftly and decisively and he is confident NUS’ review will result in a more robust process and stricter framework.

NUS in its earlier statement on Saturday, said that it will convene a committee to review the current disciplinary and support frameworks.

Mr Ong also noted that the NUS Board and President are seized with this matter, and are determined to put a stop to such unacceptable behaviour on campus and he has also asked other universities to review their frameworks for similar offences.

Last week, Ms Monica Baey, a NUS undergraduate, took to her Instagram account to call out the school for trying to protect the man who had filmed her in the shower.

According to her posts, Ms Baey had been filmed in the shower by a male student identified as Nicholas Lim. She made a police report immediately following the incident and the perpetrator was identified, along with CCTV and video evidence of him committing the act.

Unfortunately, following an investigation, the man in question was said to be only slapped with a 12-month conditional warning. She added that he will only be punished if he re-offends in the next 12 months.

Ms Baey furiously pointed out that this isn’t the first incident of its kind to happen at NUS, noting that many other women have fallen victim to being filmed in the shower.

When Ms Baey tried to appeal for a heavier sentence with the police, she was told by the investigation officer that that we should have to ‘just accept the outcome’. She added that the officer then said, “If you want real consequences or more action to be taken, go to NUS and push for action”.

Ms Baey said she did approached NUS to push for a stronger punishment from the school but the only thing they did was to forward her a letter of apology from the perpetrator.

Her sharing of her experience was widely reported on social-political platforms on Friday this week and stirred up the public, asking for the university to explain its actions.

A petition calling for the expulsion of Nicholas Lim from NUS has received more than 30,000 signatures as of Mon (22 Apr).

The petition, started by Wayne Wee and whose sister and girlfriend are NUS students, observed that Ms Baey’s case “is just one of many that have been swept under the rug over the past decades by NUS administration unwilling to admit that they are unable to tackle the scourge of men in their halls seeking sexual gratification and using their female schoolmates as a means to that end”.

Separately, a statement signed by 489 former and current NUS students was sent to NUS staff members, in which they had voiced their concerns regarding the university’s approach towards sexual harassment, “particularly in reference to the case where a female NUS undergraduate student, Ms Monica Baey, was filmed while showering without her consent”.

While members of public were elated to see a Minister finally making his appearance, some voiced their concerns about his choice of words, in particular, “from here on”

Minister Ong is the first Minister publicly making a comment about the scandal, while Minister of Home Affairs, Mr K Shanmugam has not made any statements about the decision of the police to simply issue a 12-month conditional warning to the perpetrator.

The post Ong Ye Kung: “Two strikes and you are out cannot be the standard application” appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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Great Eastern suspends employee Nicholas Lim following public outcry over NUS’ handling of sexual offence

Earlier this evening (22 April), local insurance giant Great Eastern has made the decision to suspend their financial advisor with Advisors’ Clique, Nicholas Lim Jun Kai, for being involved in a voyeuristic scandal recently.

“We are aware of the recent incident involving Nicholas Lim, a Great Eastern financial representative. He has been placed on immediate suspension and has since submitted his resignation. Great Eastern strongly disapproves of any inappropriate conduct by our financial representatives and will not hesitate to take the necessary action”, Great Eastern stated in a Facebook post.

Mr Lim was an undergraduate at the National University Singapore (NUS) who was caught red-handed filming a fellow student, Monica Baey, in the shower on 5 November last year.

According to Ms Baey, Mr Lim was given a 12-month conditional stern warning by the police after a two-month investigation. He was also suspended for a semester, asked to write an apology letter, and sent for mandatory counselling.

After Ms Baey revealed his identity and act in a series of InstaStories that went viral, a petition on, created by Wayne Wee, demanded Mr Lim’s expulsion and it has generated over 30,000 signature so far.

Meanwhile, local urban farm OnHand Agrarian announced in a statement yesterday (21 April) that it would cease all liaison with NUS due to their handling of this sexual harassment case.


The post Great Eastern suspends employee Nicholas Lim following public outcry over NUS’ handling of sexual offence appeared first on The Online Citizen.

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Meet This Canadian Tech Unicorn Drawing Comparisons to Shopify (TSX:SHOP)

Cupcake styled as a unicorn

What is a tech unicorn? It is a company that surpasses a $1 billion market valuation. Lightspeed POS (TSX:LSPD) debuted on the TSX earlier this year with the biggest IPO by a Canadian technology firm in nearly a decade. IPOs are rare for venture-funded Canadian companies since they are often acquired before going public. Even rarer, Lightspeed opted for a TSX-only IPO that was able to raise more than $240 million. But what is Lightspeed?

With an impressive list of customers in over 100 countries, Montreal-based Lightspeed offers a point of sale (POS) cloud product and other services for small- and medium-sized businesses. Sound familiar? It’s an easy comparison to Shopify’s 2015 IPO success. Lightspeed’s core verticals target retailers and restaurants. Lightspeed offers extras like accounting software, inventory and employee management, kitchen display systems, e-commerce services, and loyalty programs.

But it’s not all good news for Lightspeed. There is a huge addressable market to service small- and medium-sized businesses, but it is in a crowded space with heavy competition. While Lightspeed does not see itself in the same market segment as Shopify it is going down a similar path that will lead to increased competition in the future.

Shopify is an e-commerce platform first followed by add-ons like POS systems. Lightspeed brings in new customers with its POS product first before upselling them extras like e-commerce. Lightspeed is also competing against some big global players like Square, PayPal, and other financial technology companies that are targeting small- and medium-sized businesses.

What about the financials? Just like other growing tech companies, Lightspeed is not yet profitable, and the path to profitability is not clear. Market analysts are asking many of the same questions they asked after the Shopify IPO. In a Canadian market that is starved for tech IPOs, one should worry that Lightspeed’s initial trading price and current valuation are artificially inflated by a lack of viable Canadian options.

What does the future hold for Lightspeed? Its market segment is fragmented at the moment with lots of small products competing for the same customer base. There is a big opportunity for Lightspeed or other companies to consolidate and gain customers through acquisitions. Instead of becoming an acquisition target, Lightspeed has previously bought a series of companies and it plans to continue buying to power global growth.

Investor takeaway

There is an element of pride when a Canadian technology company is able to successfully raise money like competitors in Silicon Valley, but that should not cloud your investing judgement. Are the growth prospects for this company enough to outweigh the operating losses? Has the race begun to acquire this tech unicorn before it becomes too large? Lightspeed has attracted a lot of attention and investor money with its IPO, but it is still a risky bet.

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Tom Gardner owns shares of Shopify and Square. The Motley Fool owns shares of PayPal Holdings, Shopify, Shopify, and Square. Fool contributor Scott Mulligan owns shares of Shopify. Shopify is a recommendation of Stock Advisor Canada.

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Better Stock for Your TFSA: Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY) or Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (TSX:CM)?

question marks written reminders tickets

Worries of a coming recession are still swirling around. Once the inverted yield curve rears its ugly head, tempers will likely take months to fully settle down, if they do so at all. Bank investors in particular ought to be vigilant. Lower interest rates tend to be associated with a recession, and lower interest rates directly affect a bank’s bottom line.

Still, after the recession of the late 2000s, certain measures were established to ensure banks would be better equipped to handle such economic catastrophes. Which means banks can still be attractive investment options, even if a recession is coming. Let’s look at two of the largest Canadian banks: Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY)(NYSE:RY) and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (TSX:CM)(NYSE:CM). Which is a better buy for your TFSA?

Core operations

Both RBC and CM have core operations that are concentrated primarily in Canada, at least much more so than some of their peers. RBC pulls around 65% of its earnings from its domestic operations, with the rest coming mainly from the U.S. RBC is typically the leader (or in second place) when it comes to important banking categories such as deposits and loans.

Approximately 80% of CM’s earnings are generated in Canada, but the firm has been making an effort to increase its exposure to international markets, such as the one south of the border. CM generally lags behind RBC domestically, though, while also having a weaker international presence.

Recent financial results

Both banks felt the pressure of volatile equity markets and uncertain global economic conditions last year. For RBC, this pressure was felt during its latest recorded quarter (Q1 2019) in its capital markets segment — whose net income decreased by 13% year over year — and its investor and treasury services, whose earnings decreased by 26%. However, RBC’s most important segment (personal and commercial banking) was up 3% due to growth in deposits and higher interest spreads caused by the current high interest rates.

CM seems to have been battered a bit more, recording a decrease of 5% in its net income for the first quarter of 2019. This lower income was caused by a decrease in its Canadian personal banking segments as well as its capital markets segment. It must also be noted that RBC’s net income is more than two times that of CM. Both banks’ efficiency figures are fairly equal, however. Both had a return on equity of around 16%. Overall, RBC seems to have handled last year’s uncertain economic climate better than CM.

Valuation and dividends

CM currently seems to have the more attractive valuation. The company is trading at just under 10 times future earnings and about 1.5 times book value. By comparison, RBC currently trades at 12.5 times earnings and 2.1 times book value. CM also looks to be more generous with its dividends, currently offering a yield of 5.03% (compared to 4.05% for RBC). Both companies have increased their dividends at a similar rate over the past five years, with a slight edge going to CM (40% vs 38%). Further, both banks have conservative payout ratios that hover around the mid-40% mark.

Which should you buy?

RBC is the larger bank, has stronger domestic and national operations, and earns a higher income. However, CM’s valuation is more attractive, and the firm seems slightly more willing to reward shareholders. Although I believe RBC is more likely to offer stability in the long run, you probably can’t go wrong with either bank if you are looking for a strong dividend stock for your TFSA.

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Fool contributor Prosper Bakiny has no position in the companies mentioned. 

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