Higher starting pay for fresh graduates

CNA
14 September 2011

SINGAPORE: Fresh graduates salaries are showing an upward trend this year, according to the Fresh Graduate Pay Survey by global management consultancy the Hay Group.

The findings showed engineering jobs are still in demand and fresh engineering graduates can expect to earn about $2,745 per month.

This is slightly higher than the starting salaries for jobs in the legal (S$2,738) and production (S$2,728) services for fresh graduates.

The survey in July this year drew participation from 100 companies across general industries in Singapore.

It showed that average starting salary for degree holders was S$2,593 per month.

Diploma holders are also expected to fare better this year in the jobs market.

Their average starting pay was $1,799 per month.

Design and creative jobs topped the list of hot jobs for diploma holders who can command slightly higher starting salaries of about $1,900 per month.

The survey said employers place a premium of 44.7 per cent for degree holders over diploma holders in terms of starting salaries.

The premium which employers place on a master’s degree over general degree holders is lesser at 11.1 per cent.

One in four employer surveyed said they pay premiums to male employees who have completed National Service, with the average premium at S$166.

SCMP: Cleaners and guards eating less as prices rise

Cleaners and guards eating less as prices rise
Adrian Wan
Sep 12, 2011

One in two cleaners and security guards – the first low-paid sectors to receive a legal wage floor – say they are eating less because of rising food prices, a survey has found.

One in five said they bought food products about to expire – which usually carry a discount – to save money, the Friends of the Earth study found.

“Food expense has weighed heavily on workers. Even with extra frugality, we may lose out to inflation,” said Law Chi-wai, head of the Cleaning Service Industry Workers Union. “The grass roots are usually manual workers. Economically-induced dieting will affect their work performance eventually.”
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The interview was all going well until he asked me: "How much of a pay cut are you willing to take?"

From an anonymous candidate

One of the amazing job-hunting experiences I had recently was with an investment firm. I went through the interview rounds, answering standard questions about specific sectors and proposing investment strategies on selected companies. Everything went well until my meeting with one of the fund’s partners. We had a chat about how the market was really low and how it had been impacting finance professionals.

He showed me a small stack of CVs he had received for the vacancy and congratulated me on being among the few selected for face-to-face interviews. I felt good for a moment, but in hindsight he was just preparing me for his following questions: What was your last salary? How much of a pay cut are you willing to take?

Given recent market conditions, it was obvious that the competition for any job would be fierce and that salary negotiations would be difficult. I was expecting the first question about my previous salary and I was prepared to defend my worth. However, I was definitely not prepared for the second question. I had no idea it would come to that. What answer could one possibly give?

A 10 per cent cut would appear too low. Twenty per cent could potentially be competitive enough to get me the position, although it was probably not the best offer this hiring manager had on his table. But how much further could I possibly go?

Thirty per cent would mean that I would need a 50 per cent bump to get back to where I was – that would take either a miracle, or one or two well-placed job hops within a short space of time, which would badly hurt my CV.

Cutting by 40 per cent would mean that I would pretty much need to double my salary in order to get back to pre-crisis levels. That would take years. I was at a loss.

Pain but no gain

What is so painful about salary cuts? Is it because it confronts us with our newly depreciated market value in the finance industry? Is it the fear of how we will be perceived by our family and friends? Is it because we are lose the ground we have won through years of blood sweat and tears?

My thoughts raced back through my career history to the time when I was still a struggling junior in the finance industry: the cancelled lunches and dinners, the weekends in the office, the inability to maintain a stable relationship, the physical exhaustion, the insomnia, and the addiction to burning cash for instant self-gratification. Have all those years of sacrifice really been swiped away?

But my pain did not stop with a simple reminiscence about the past. My life has moved on over the past few years – I am now thinking about a mortgage, buying big-ticket items like an engagement ring, and paying for my upcoming wedding. I’m also worried about what my future in-laws will think if my pay drops dramatically.

My thoughts finally halted at the image of Joshua Persky, the famous unemployed MIT graduate who went from mainstream New York banker to human billboard in 2008 because he needed to support his wife and five children. Apparently, he’s had one proper job since then, which lasted five months, and has been selling Iphone apps to make ends-meat.

Coming back to my interview with the buy-side firm: I left the meeting saying that the salary cut was an interesting question and that I will need to think about it.

Destroyed by mistress from hell

Destroyed by mistress from hell
Death threats, blackmail and mental torture – even Fatal Attraction couldn’t match plot that unfolded in HK court
Patsy Moy
SCMP Sep 09, 2011

It’s a case that makes Fatal Attraction look tame.

The Hollywood thriller about a mistress who turned vengeful has haunted plenty of men with cheating hearts since its 1987 release. But it has nothing on the tale that unravelled in District Court about businessman Mr X and his former lover Ki Chun-yim.

The Hong Kong version of the mistress-from-hell story ended yesterday when Ki, 38, was sent to jail for seven years – the maximum penalty within District Court jurisdiction.

Finding her guilty of all nine counts of blackmail and one count of perverting the course of justice, District Judge Kevin Browne used a string of scathing words to describe her, including “evil”, “calculative”, “manipulative”, “ruthless” and “dangerous”.

Testifying behind a screen, Mr X, 50, told of his three-year nightmare at the hands of Ki before her arrest in December last year, which even saw the kidnap of a business partner identified as Mr Y. His former mistress’ constant harassment cost him his family, damaged his health and robbed him of his peace of mind, Mr X told the court.

He revealed: “She said to me something like, `You enjoy a happy family life while I am always alone and lonely. I will make sure your family will be destroyed.’

“She asked me to buy coffins for my family members. She also said, `I will make sure your family members will die ahead of you. That will be the heaviest punishment on you.'”

According to the account told in court, diminutive Ki was a public relations manager working at the Piano Bar in Happy Valley when the couple first met in 2006.

The bar was opened by a well-known local composer Michael Lai Siu-tin but was closed five or six years ago. Lai told the South China Morning Post he had no recollection of an employee surnamed Ki. Mr X said he rented a flat for her in Sham Shui Po and paid her HK$60,000 a month. But when he tried to end the affair in July 2007, she asked for millions of dollars in recompense.

She upped that to a demand for HK$120 million as a “separation fee”.

She told him she had his child, Mr X said. But she never showed him a photo or even disclosed the child’s gender. Defence counsel Lawrence Lok SC told the court yesterday that Ki had only a 16-year-old daughter, who is studying in the UK.

Mr X said Ki made more than 1,000 harassing phone calls and also sent floods of text messages pressing him for money. She sent them to his wife and business partners, too. She once took a triad member to his office to put more pressure on him, he said.

She threatened to kill his wife and daughter. She also threatened to kill Mr Y and another business partner, Mr Z, and their innocent families, the court was told.

“Ki told me she had hired private detectives to watch me,” Mr X testified. “She was able to specify what law firms or investment banks I had visited. She was also able to tell of conversations between me and Mr Y when we were in a massage parlour.”

Mr X said he tried everything to stop her surveillance and harassment. He made complaints to the police, hired private detectives and sought legal advice. But nothing worked. The police and the lawyers told him his evidence was too weak to merit legal action against her.

After the trial was over yesterday, police denied they took Mr X’s complaint lightly.

“After we consolidated the evidence from his [Mr X’s] seven reports to us in two years, we eventually gathered enough evidence to bring Ki to court,” one of the police officers in charge told the South China Morning Post. Ki’s defence counsel argued that her fear of losing Mr X drove her to extremes and that she became emotionally unstable.

But Mr X said: “She had been very calm and cool most of the time. That was even more horrifying.”

Bengawan Solo

Domestic goddess
by Huang Lijie
The Straits Times

Mrs Anastasia Liew, 62, fumbles to hide her hands from the camera.

Wearing a single diamond ring and no nail polish, the founder and managing director of Bengawan Solo cake shop says to the photographer: ‘Can you not photograph my hands? They don’t look good. These hands have been making cakes for more than 30 years.’

Her remark is more self-conscious than vain. But really she should be prouder of her hands – they have helped build her confectionery business from the kitchen of an HDB flat into an empire with a turnover of $43 million last year.
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Lighthouse Family – High

Lighthouse Family are a British musical duo that rose to prominence in the mid-1990s and remained active until the early 2000s. Vocalist Tunde Baiyewu and keyboard player Paul Tucker formed the act in 1993 in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK after meeting while studying at university. Their 1995 debut album Ocean Drive sold more than 1.8 million copies in the UK alone and established them as a popular easy listening duo throughout Europe.

They are well known for their songs: “Lifted”, “Ocean Drive”, “Raincloud” and “High”, which also reached number one on the Australian Singles Chart.