Friday, April 18, 2014

ASEAN agreement on the movement of natural persons

The ASEAN agreement on the movement of natural persons will take effect next year.
http://cil.nus.edu.sg/rp/pdf/2012%20ASEAN%20Agreement%20on%20the%20Movement%20of%20Natural%20Persons-pdf.pdf

Many years back, such an agreement would be welcomed by Singaporeans, as it gave us the opportunity to tap into opportunities in the neighboring countries.

But this agreement will now pose dangers to Singaporean workers.

Read Leong Sze Hian's view
http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/04/18/is-fcf-even-applicable-for-asean-intra-corporate-transferees/

There was a similar agreement signed with India that brought tens of thousand professionals from India to work in Singapore. It has caused many of our PMETs to be unemployed.

At one time, the Singapore professionals were well trained, hard working and competitive. But this is not the case any more. Why is this the case?

Explore options to improve bus service now


PUBLISHED IN STRAITS TIME, 18 APRIL 2014
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IT WILL be a few years before the centralised bus management system is implemented ("$68m contract for bus management system awarded"; April 10).
In the meantime, the Land Transport Authority should analyse existing data and use it to improve bus services.
It could explore options such as:
  • Reviewing the time buses leave terminals and ensuring that schedules are observed. If buses leave the terminals at the scheduled times, bunching should be reduced.
  • Using a mobile app to send revised schedules to bus drivers, if traffic conditions along a certain route are causing buses to bunch up.
  • Deploying buses optimally according to demand. Demand can be measured by totting up the number of commuters boarding and alighting at each stop over a few weeks.
  • Providing alerts on the operator's website if some buses are overcrowded due to uncontrollable factors. This will allow commuters to make other transport arrangements and ease demand for that service.
  • The public would like to see improvement in bus services now, as far as possible, rather than a few years down the road.

Tan Kin Lian

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Do not vent our anger at the foreign workers

Let us not vent our anger at the foreign workers who have to live a hard life in Singapore.
http://c-onyx.com/page/1831

Adopt a sensible approach towards internet security

I recognize the risk of hacking and steps needs to be taken to minimize the risk. 

These steps should be decided with a balance between the risk and the inconvenience to the users. 

I find the steps taken in Singapore to be rather extreme, making the user experience to be quite terrible. 

We are not the only people that have to face the risk. Sites such as Google, Yahoo and Facebook also face the risk.

Do they implement Capcha? They found ways to handle the risk without causing inconvenience to their international users.
There are international websites for forex and future trading.

They do not need to implement the complicated security measures that are found in Singapore.

It is quite clear that the security people and the regulators in Singapore do not carry out a proper analysis of the risk and balance it with the added cost of implementing the measures.
They only know how to implement extreme measures using their approach of "do not take any risk".

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Digital display to show the KM of bus stop

I have met with officials of the Land Transport Authority to explain the benefit of displaying the KM of each bus stop in the bus. 

I have just sent this article to them to explain my proposed system. 
http://c-onyx.com/page/1830

Do you think that my proposal is useful for commuters?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Instill punctuality in bus service

It is now the right time to install the habit of punctuality among our bus services. This can be achieved with the intelligent use of a mobile app. It does not cost millions of dollars. 
http://c-onyx.com/page/1828

Companies need a simple reminder system

I asked DBS Bank for some new currency notes at different denominations. They told me that $10 is available, but new new notes for $50 and $100. I asked them to call me when the new notes are available.

I did not hear from them for two weeks. They forgot about it.

I sent a reminder to them. They told me that there are no new notes for $50 and $100. I have to take the recycled notes.

DBS Bank does not have a good reminder system. If they have such a system, they do not need the customer to remind them. I think all big companies should have a simple reminder system to make sure that all customer requests are "settled".

How to improve the birth rate

One thing leads to another. 
The birth rate had been declining.
The government introduced many baby packages over the years, but they did not work.
They failed as they did not address the root of the problem.
With the low birth rate, the government had to increase immigration on a large scale, and they did it surreptitiously, without telling the people. 
This led to over-crowding and other problems faced by the citizens.
We need to go back to the root problem and ask - how do we increase the birth rate in Singapore?
Here are my suggestions:
http://c-onyx.com/page/1824

Our universities should employ local professors

Hi Mr Tan
Please share this letter published in the Straits Times
'Broader' perspective on hiring profs? 
(link: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/forum-letters/story/broader-perspective-hiring-profs-20140412 )

Tommy

Dr. Wong is a former Singaporean professor. He currently works as a freelance consultant, editor and author. His website is athttp://wisdomlife.page4.me/ , and his ebooks are available athttp://c-opal.com/books/4 .

Suggestions to improve bus services now

The Land Transport Authority can improve the bus service significantly just by paying attention to the data that is currently avaialble, and by acting on the data to take the appropriate actions.

There is no need to invest a lot of money and to wait for a few years for a new "intelligent system" to be implemented. Improvements can be made using the current infrastucture and data that is already available.

http://c-onyx.com/page/1825

Learning Spanish

I am learning Spanish from a iPhone App called Duolingo. It is a difficult language as it has different words for male, female and plural genders, and it applies to the verbs and nouns.

I received a message from a friend and it has these Spanish words:

Nuestro Saludo de Semana Santa para vosotros

Nuestro - Our
Saludo - greetings
de Semana Santa - for Easter
para - for 
vosotros - you (plural)

My Spanish is now not bad.


Spanish is the second commonly spoken language in the world, after Mandarin, based on native speakers. English is third.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers


Buses should be punctual

Buses should keep to the time schedule and be punctual. The bus driver should not be allowed to speed and reach the destination ahead of time, as the commuters will pass the pass at the stops at the scheduled time. 

If there is congestion and there is a delay in arrival, it is unavoidable. However, there is no reason for the bus to be ahead of time, and cause some commuters to miss the bus at thescheduled time.

With mobile apps, it is possible for the bus operator to get the drivers to keep to the schedule. They should also publicize the schedule for commuters to know when the bus is arriving.

We can accept a few minutes of delay, due to traffic congestion, but otherwise, the schedule should be kept. If the bus is behind time, it can speed up to be on schedule.

It is time for us to have the discipline of punctuality, as far as possible, subject to traffic conditions.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

$100,000 alternative to improve the bus service

The Land Transport Authority can solve the immediate problems of improving the management o f the bus services by spending $100,000, instead of the $68 million that they are spending on acquiring a new "intelligent bus management system".
http://c-onyx.com/page/1821

Managing a high salary job

For those that are earning a high salary, relative to their peers, I wish to give this advice:

1. Do not assume that your high paying job is steady. Some of these jobs are contract based, and will continue to pay well, if your employer is able to secure profitable contracts. If not, they will have to retrench you.

2. When you earn a high salary, keep your expenses at a level based on the average salary earned by your peers, and keep the additional salary as savings for the future.

3. If you have to find a new job, it is easy to get a job that pays the average salary, or slightly more, but not at the top salary that you earned before. If you have a modest salary expectation, you will be able to find a new job fairly easily.

4. Accumulate skills from your current job that you can use in the future. Do not just complete the job assigned to you, but learn the skills and experiences that can be re-used in the future. This is what experience is all about, i.e. useful skills. Your new employer will be able to identify someone who has learned, from someone who has not (i.e. a rolling stone gather no moss).

Tan Kin Lian

Wasteful to spend $68 million on intelligent bus management system

I was very angry when I read the news that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awareded a tender of $68 million for an intelligent bus management system. Link. The benefit to consumers is described in this sentence, " With more accurate bus arrival information, commuters can better plan their journeys and travel options."
Read my reasons here:
http://c-onyx.com/page/1817

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Promote the use of OneInbox

7 April 2014

Over the past few years, I have found it difficult to login to government websites  to get their replies to issues that I have raised  concerning income tax, work pass, payment of CPF contributions and other matters.

I also overlooked many letters that are sent to me by ordinary mail from government agencies, due to the junk mail that swamp my mail box

One year ago, I signed for the OneInbox service operated by a government agency and requested that all mails to me be sent to OneInbox. For the past year, the only mail that came through OneInbox was for property tax.

I found the OneInbox to be easy to use and well designed and congratulate the agency that developed it. It is a pity that OneInbox is not actively used.  

To improve efficiency and reduce cost for the government agencies and the general public, I suggest that the OneInbox service be actively promoted, and that all government agencies should be encouraged to communicate with the public through this channel.


Tan Kin Lian

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Read the benefit illustration before you buy a life insurance policy



Dear Mr. Tan,
I bought an annual cashback endowment savings plan from a trusted friend, a financial consultant with XYZ company. Because I trusted him, I didn't bother looking at the complicated policy booklet that came after, and the 14-day cancellation period passed.

I was under the impression that

1. I could touch my money anytime I wanted.
2. I would get 100% of whatever I put in plus whatever interest (better than banks)
3. The plan was adjusted for inflation

I now find that I could not get my money back except by suffering a severe penalty in the surrender value.

I believe that most people are poorly advised, do not understand financial jargon and do not take another look at those complicated policy booklets.

REPLY
Your experience is typical of tens of thousand of consumers who bought a life insurance policy under the "wrong impression".

I have been encouraging people to join FISCA www.fisca.sg and to attend the educational talks, but most people do not bother to do so. They end up with the regrets that you have expressed.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Can decision makers think clearly?

I often wonder whether decision makers are able to think more clearly and get out of their narrow mindset.

Following the disappearance of MH 370, there is considerate debate about the need to send live data from the plane, so that it is possible to know what had happened to the plane, if the black box could not located.

The objection is that it is extremely costly to send ALL THE LIVE DATA that is being recorded.

Hold on. Why do we need to send ALL THE LIVE DATA? We only need to send the data to identify the location of the plane. The other data can continue to be kept in the black box.

We don't even need to know the altitude, speed, direction and other data. We only need to know the GPS location. PERIOD.

If the plane disappears, we can get the location immediately and send the "search and rescue" party to save the survivors and to retrieve the black box WITH ALL THE GIGABITS OF DATA. These data don't need to be sent LIVE.

If the decision makers are able to understand this concept, there is no need to agonize for one month to find out where MH 370 disappeared to.

Wow!

How to speak up

Here are some suggestions on how to encourage Singaporeans to speak up.

1. Have a view on important issues. Discuss them with your friends, so that you have a clear idea of what you think is right or wrong and why.

2. Be ready to express your view on the issue, if it crops up. You only need to say what you think is right and why. 

3. There is no need for you to "evaluate" another person's view,or to state that that view is "wrong". It is not for you to judge.

4. Respect other people's views, even if they are different from your view.

5. Be focusing on your view, you avoid confrontation or argument with other people.

6. After you get used to this mode of interaction, it is easy to express your view.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A dysfunctional society

Read this article:
http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/04/05/is-public-assault-civil-or-criminal/

There are insufficient policemen in Singapore, relative to the expanded population. The police are not even acting against physical assault. What is happening in Singapore?

Let me give you the answer. We have too many people working as property agents, insurance agents and remisiers, not adding much value to the economy but to sell questionable financial products and overpriced properties.

If people can earn more in these occupations, few will want to be policemen. Our education system and salary structure encourage this trend.

Singapore has become dysfunctional. This is caused by the poor leadership of the Government over the past two decades.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Business simulation game

Try the business simulation game www.tklcloud.com/bestb

Tip on how to submit your plan. Look at the Products tab and see the premium and commission charged by the top player. Look at the forecast for next year and adjust your premium and commission based on it. Do this for four products. Wait for the year to close. You will find that you are near the top for the players. 

Practice a few times, and you will get the right pricing strategy.

Maintaining our defensive capability with less burden on male citizens

Here is a new approach towards maintaining the defense capability of Singapore by requiring male citizens to serve full time national service for 12 months and to be in active reserves for 5 years only. 

The capability can be maintained by using the savings in the training cost to recruit an additional 20,000 professional soldiers and still have sufficient reservists to be operationally ready and to be called up in times of need. 

http://c-onyx.com/page/1746

Managing the risk of internet banking transfers

Many people do not know the difference between what is big and what is small, what is important and what is not important.

They apply the same approach to all these issues. Someone said that the approach should not be "one size fit all". 

Many people do not know the difference between what is big and what is small, what is important and what is not important.

They apply the same approach to all these issues. Someone said that the approach should not be "one size fit all". 

When it comes to internet banking transfers, there is an excessive fear of hackers coming into our bank account. Banks introduced excessive layers of security to counter the risk of hacking.

It is serious, but not so serious, if a hacker is able to access my account and see the balance. Many employees of the bank have access to my balance anyway, as they need this access to provide customer service.

When the bank sends the monthly bank statement to me, the post man can also take away my statement and view it. We face this risk all the time, but accept it as it cannot be eradicated.

The real risk is when the hacker makes a fraudulent transfer from my account. This is where a higher layer of verification is required.

This is not the only risk faced by the customer. A bigger risk is in making a mistake by entering the wrong account code or amount, which s much higher than a hacker making a fraudulent transfer.

If a mistake or fraudulent transfer is made for a small amount, it is not that serious. We stand the risk of cash being taken from our wallet by a thief or pickpocket or losing the notes carelessly anyway. 
There is no need for a bank to make internet banking transfer so cumbersome, especially for small amounts. The practical approach is to allow the customer to set a tolerance limit and requires a higher level of security for transfers beyond that limit.
There is the risk that the data could be changed by the hacker who taps into the connection between the customer and the bank. Who would want to spend so much time and transfer to commit a crime for a small amount? The risk of being caught is higher for a cyber thief than for a real thief anyway.

If the amount is large, the bank can send the transfer for re-confirmation by the payer who can do it with a 2FA token. This should be more than adequate. It is possible to imagine how a hacker or criminal would circumvent it, but who would want to spend so much time to spend so much time to hack into one account for a small amount of transfer?

Tan Kin Lian

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Leadership change

Fitz Gerald asked.
Who in the opposition party is capable of leading Singapore if oppositions were to win in ge 2016? There are some people who aren't confident in the oppositions because they have never experienced being in power and governing this country.

REPLY
We have seen several countries and state changed their governments and they seem to handle the problems well. Examples are Lim Guan Siong of Penang and Joko Widodo of Jakarta. 

We need people who have leadership skills and are still humble. They know how to approach the real experts who can give the right answers.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Develop a competitive edge in underwriting


The success of an insurance company in a competitive market depends, to a large extent, on its underwriting expertise. It needs capable underwriters who are able to assess the risk and to charge a premium rate that is competitive and sufficient to cover its claims, expenses and make a profit.

Most insurance companies depend on underwriters who build up their knowledge and expertise over many years. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the good underwriters will stay with the insurance company. they are likely to be attracted to work for a competitor who offers a higher salary or better prospects.

An insurance company can build a sustainable competitive edge by supplementing the personal knowledge of its underwriters by a detailed insight of its actual claim experience in the market that it operates.  

The detailed insight can be developed through these three steps:

1) Use of the actuarial software to analyze the claim experience, with special algorithm to allocate the actual results to the various variables used for rating

2) Consultancy on preparing the data on exposures and claims, analyzing the data using the actuarial technique, interpreting and explaining the results, and helping management to decide on the use of the results in the underwriting and pricing process.

3) Training its internal staff to carry out the above processes on their own as a regular exercise.
The underwriting expertise, which combines the years of experience of the underwriting staff and backed by the use of your properly analyzed claim statistics, can contribute to a profitable outcome in a challenging and competitive market. 

More details can be obtained from ceo@tankinlian.com.


Build a long lasting career

I want to share some tips on how to build a long lasting career. This is for young people who are graduating and starting on their first job. 

1. Choose a job that fits your skill set. You are embarking on a career for the long run. By using your skills, you will be able to perform the job better than other people. Your chance of succeeding is better. 

2. Choose a job that few people wants. It could be a small company or one that has more challenging working conditions. Your employer will need you more than you need the job. You have fewer competitors.

3. Don't worry about the things that you do not know, or that are "messy". It takes time to learn, and the skills will last you for a long term. Most skill sets require a long time to learn anyway.

4. Stick to the same line. Do not jump from one job to another. By staying in the same line, you will be a "master of the trade".

5. Your reward will come, but it takes time. Be patient. If you are really good, the opportunity will come to you soon. But, if you are "rubbish", this will tell quite soon. Many people do not learn the real skills, and they do not succeed because they are "rubbish".

I hope that these tips are useful to you. Most people are impatient and want to earn good income early. They do not build the skills sets that will last them a long time.

Practice the skill of running a business

Do you know how to fix the right price and marketing for your product, in a competitive market, to earn a good profit? This game teaches you the technique. You can practice and develop the skill. 
You can try the game free at www.tklcloud.com/bestb.
Read the user guide for some tips.
Or, register to attend this workshop:
http://c-onyx.com/page/1785

A sales job can be high value

We need sales people who can advise customers on the right products to suit their requirements. It can be on clothes, food, counter drugs, books, whatever. 

This knowledge comes from the job and is acquired when one works in the same line over the years. They do not ćome from a university degree. 

Most people do not think long of working in the same line. They only take a sales job as a temporary measure, waiting for the next short term opportunity. They don't pay interest to learn the skills and knowledgrpe needed for their jobs. 

This leads to lower standards, inefficiency and high cost. It is wasteful. The blind pursuit of a university degree, that cannot be put to good use, is really wasteful, as it took away the opportunity for many people to develop the skills that are more appropriate for their future.

Challenge of reducing rentals

A key strategy to reduce the cost of living and cost of doing business is to reduce rental. 

The government is the largest owner of land in Singapore. They face a dilemma in reducing rental as it reduces their revenue from rentals that they collect and also from the sale of land. If they reduce the price of land, they will suffer a drop of revenue. If they continue the current high property prices, it will bring a heavy burden to the economy and to the strain on the people.

Even if the government decides to reduce property prices, they can only control the prices of property that they own. They cannot control the prices of private properties and the rentals. The private owners will have to decide on their own.


If property prices fall due to government action, it will eventually bring down the prices in the private sector and will give financial stress to the banking system that provided the loan to the private developers. It will also harm the economy.

There is no clear solution to this conundrum. Japan suffered for two decades. America is also suffering the effect of the bursting of the bubble. China and Singapore will have to follow.

The solution to this challenge will need people with courage and vision. I don't think we have these people in Singapore. So, we will have to follow the fate of Japan.

Abolish GST to reduce the cost of living

The government collects $10 billion in GST each year and has a surplus of $30 billion in the budget, according to IMF accounting conventions.

They can remove the GST totally and still have a fairly healthy budget surplus of $20 billion.

Removal of GST totally will reduce the cost of living by at least 7% and could be more, if the saving in accounting and administration for GST and GST vouchers is considered. This will bring immediate relief to an economy that is heavily strained with high business cost, and a people that is suffering from high cost of living.

If public expenditure increases in the future, income tax can be increased. The current collection from income tax is $20 billion. If the full $10 billion has to be increased, the income tax will increased from the current level by 50%.

Most working people pays an income tax of less than 10% on their marginal income, so the increase could be 5% (on the marginal income) and it is still lower than the saving of 7% on GST (on the total income).

The high income earners, and the million dollar ministers may suffer a hit, but their top rate of tax is 20%, so their max increase is only 10%. What is wrong with paying 30% tax when they earn $1 million or more?

Let me give this call to the hard working and hard pressed citizens of Singapore. Do not believe the rubbish that GST is good for the people. It is only good for the million dollar earners.

Tan Kin Lian

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Need for independent review of our military strategy and budget

Most people would agree that Singapore needs to have a strong military capability to ensure our independence.

While this goal is important, it does not mean that we have to spend excessively and wastefully. Our leaders still have the responsibility to make sure that the money is spent wisely.

Let us see if it is possible to achieve this goal in a more cost effective manner.

Let us take a look at the military expenditure of Malaysia. They spend $4.2 billion (usd) a year to maintain a professional army of 110,000 men and a reserve of 296,000.

http://c-onyx.com/page/1724

Assuming that the cost in Singapore is twice of Malaysia, a budget of $4.2 billion will be sufficient to maintain a professional army and reserves of half the size of Malaysia.

Considering that Singapore has to defend a land space of 700 sq km, and Malaysia has to look after an area that is 450 times the size of Singapore, it should be more than adequate for Singapore to have a force that is half the size of Malaysia.

It is likely that Singapore needs to have a strong air force and advanced technology. Perhaps, this can be achieved with an additional $4.2 billion in our budget.

The strategy of relying on diplomacy and friendly relations with our neighbors will continue to be of top priority. A strong military capability is a secondary goal, but is necessary.

On this reasoning, it should be possible for Singapore to rely on a professional army and advanced weapons with a defense budget of $8.4 billion, i.e. 65% of our current budget, and to discontinue with conscription entirely.

Transparency International has question the lack of transparency in our defense spending. There are grounds for their doubts.

There is a need for an independent committee of inquiry to look into this matter. To preserve the secrecy of military matters, this committee can hold its discussions in private, but it should have an independent review of our military strategy and budget.

Tan Kin Lian

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Use satellites instead of search planes

It seemed to be quite costly to send planes to search debris of MH 370 in the southern edge of the Indian Ocean. 

It takes four hours for a plane to fly from Australia to the search area. The plane can search for two hours and have to fly back. Total of 10 hours of flying time for 2 hours of search.
About 40 planes from various countries are being used for this search. 

Here is an alternative approach. Use a commercial satellite to take images of the search area and an imaging software to identify the debris. Each image has its geo-location that is tagged. If some debris are located, the satellite imaging could focus on the location and even keep track of its movements.

The planes can be sent to the search area after that.

It does not matter that a few million images have to be searched with this method. It must be less costly and more cost effective than sending search planes.

I wonder why this approach was not being followed?

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