Monday, June 17, 2019

WOTC - Vietnam invasion of Cambodia

How should LHL deal with the uproar over this remark about the Vietnam invasion of Cambodia?

None of the respondents agree with this approach of just keeping quiet.

What do they suggest? See the result here.

WOTC - 5G network

Who should build the 5G network in Singapore. The views are quite divided. See the result here.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Realities about democratic systems

This is a translation of an article in Chinese. I am not able to locate the source of the article.

Democracy must face 5 cruel realities:

Vote - do you agree with this observation about the flaws in democratic system? It does not say that democracy is worse than other systems.

BBC Interview - America does not represent the world

Watch this 2.5 minute clip of the interview given by the founder of Huawei to BBC.

More importantly, read the 6,200 comments. They come from many countries - and most express support for Huawei. They are not fake comments.

Protest against the HK extradition bill

I do not wish to join the bandwagon and criticize the Hong Kong government for presenting the extradition bill to their legislature.

I also do not join the bandwagon in supporting the large numbers of people who have come out in protests against the bill.

I watched several videos explaining the issues on both side. I put the links below.

Here are my conclusions:

a) The HK govt has a valid reason to update the extradition law.
b) The protestors are worried that the law can be used to send HK residents for unfair trial in China.
c) There is still a deep distrust of the justice system in China.
d) I believe that the fear and distrust is exaggerated and not justified. It is probably fanned by people who have vested interests or bad intent towards China.
e) I commend the decision of the HK Chief Executive to suspend the bill. The govt now has the opportunity to make changes that will address the fear and distrust of the protesters.

I wish the HK govt and the protesters all the best in finding a better solution.

Here are the links:
Honorary Professor of Law at HK University

Nathan Rich

Dr. Margaret Ng

Political systems

In a communist country, the communist party is the highest authority. The country may have a legislature but it is ultimately under the control of the communist party.

In a monarchy, the sovereign (king or queen) it the highest authority.

In a democracy, the legislature is the highest authority (but sometimes they are not able to control the President who is elected separately).

Within the communist party, the leaders are elected democratically by the party members.

In a democratic country, the legislature is elected by majority vote of the people. However, in many countries, the democratic process is flawed and is controlled by big money or corrupt practice.

There are also hybrid systems. For example, the system in China is socialism (i.e. communism) with market characteristics. They have socialist principles at national level and allow the free market at the enterprise level. However, their political control is under the communist party.

Each system has its strengths, weaknesses and flaws.

Many people have the impression that the communist system is bad, but their view is colored by the western media over the past decades. They do not realize that the media is also controlled by big money and has not been truthful.

We should not just blindly believe that democracy is good and communism (or socialism) is bad.

The best test is - which system actually produces the leaders that work in in the interest of the country and the people and make the most economic and social progress.

Wisdom of the Crowd

WOTC - Managing escrow account

In the past, there were several instances where lawyers asconded with the money entrusted to them by their clients and paid into escrow accounts.

Is there a better way to manage this risk? Should a specialised third party be appointed to offer this escrow account service?

See the result of this survey here.

WOTC - Bicentennial of Singapore

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - which is a better way to celebrate the bicentennial of Singapore?

Should we create a $200 commemorate note or $20 note or a coin?

You can find the answer here:

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Protest against the extradition bill in Hong Kong

I read that the bill is to allow extradition of fugitives to Mainland China and elsewhere in the world.

The extradition law follow international norms.

This seemed to be a reasonable law. Why is there a strong protest.

Here are my views.

Wisdom of the Crowd

WOTC - Good nature person

What are the important qualities of a good natured person? The findings in this survey may surprise you.

WOTC - Bad nature person

What makes a bad nature person? See the results here. I observe that many Singaporeans fall into this category.

Be objective and keep an open mind

I like discussions in my Facebook page to be objective and non-personal.

There were some views that the Jewel is Changi is costly and wasteful and that it will soon be dead.

I visited the Jewel twice and was impressed with the waterfall. Business seemed to be quite good at the shops and eateries. The place is busy.

I do not write off the Jewel as a failure at this stage. However, I did see media reports that some of the shops are struggling.

I think that this observation is correct, but I am not ready to form any conclusion. I prefer to keep an open mind. I do not form rigid opinion based on unreliable facts.

I do not want to criticise the establishment for the sake of doing so.

Be respectful in giving comments

Some people criticise me for deleting comments that are not supportive of my views.

Their comments are not correct. I delete comments that:

a) are rude and disrespectful
b) pass judgment on my views, just because they have a different view
c) make personal attacks.
d) are irrelevant to the topic

Some of these people have the purpose of just criticising my view without any reason. I suspect that they are paid to do so. They work in a gang, or can I say in a brigade.

Some are just trolls, who enjoy making senseless personal attacks and criticism. They think that they are smart. They think that this kind of behavior is the norm in the internet.

Some people do post comments that are different from my view. They do it respectfully.

They share their facts and perspective without passing any judgment of me or my view. They help in contributing to a useful discussion of the topic.

Let me quote an example.

I posted a few observations that some directional signs in our MRT stations are confusing and difficult to follow.

I am not saying that the signs are totally bad. But I did imply that they are generally bad.

A few people shared their comments about being lost when looking for the exits in our MRT stations. These are supportive comments.

I do not mind if some people said that they did not have any difficulty in finding the directional signs or that our signs are generally helpful.

But I get some comments that are disrespectful and personal. These people said that my difficulty is due to old age or that it was my fault for missing the signs. Some even said that it was my post was intended to bring down the establishment.

These comments are deleted. In extreme cases, where their intent to insult is obvious, the writers are banned.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Wisdom of the crowd

Vote on these issues and win a prize

WOTC - Minimum wage

81% of the respondents to this survey said that the government should set a minimum wage to ensure that workers can earn above the poverty level.

Only 12% said that it should be left to the National Wages Council and 2% said that the minimum wage will cause problems for small businesses.

See the details in

WOTC - 5G licenses

Should the govt give 5G licenses free to the operators?

33% of the respondents agreed, while 10% advocate the current system of bidding for the licences.

The remaining 55% advocated two other approaches.

See the results here.

Security of jobs

In the future, jobs will become more uncertain due to globalization, trade disputes, economic recession, uncompetitiveness and other factors.

What can a country do to ensure that its citizens have jobs?

Here are my ideas:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Unclear situation on CPF contribution

This is a shocking state of affairs. It reflects a low quality of the people in charge, up to the manpower minister.

Read the finding of this court of appeal.

The instructor worked for the club for many years. He did
not complain about non contribution of CPF. On termination of service, he complained to CPF Board about the non-contribution and the CPF Board asked the employer to contribute $417,000 in arrears of CPF.

Here are some issues:
a) Why is the arrears in CPF contribution so high - $417,000?
b) How can the CPF board take the position that CPF is payable when both the club and gym instructor have accepted that he was not an employee?
c) Who pays for the legal expenses for the case and the appeal?
d) Why is our law on CPF so unclear that the CPF Board does not even know how to apply it?

This is an example of an unsatisfactory state of affairs that has not been rectified for several decades.

How can our businesses be competitiveness if they are subject to this kind of uncertainty and uncontrollable costs?

Large scale demonstrations could lead to violence

In some countries, large scale demonstrations have led to violence and rioting.

To prevent this, Singapore makes it illegal for any public assembly to be held without a police permit.

This has stifled the constitution right of people to express their objection against bad laws or implementation of the law.

How can this problem be dealt with? I have a suggestion.

Wisdom of the Crowd

WOTC - Circle Line

Is it wise for the government to spend $4.85 billion on the final stage to complete the Circle Line.

10% of the respondents in this survey think so. 90% disagree.

See their reasons:

WOTC - President Trump

Is President Trump acting responsibly in the interest of America?

25% think so, but 75% disagree. See the breakdown at

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Control over the internet

I am in favor of some control over the internet. This is to prevent the abuse of the internet by malicious people who wish to incite hatred and violence, or to harm other people.

I like to see control carried out in the following manner:

Unity in diversity

Some political parties insist that their delegates follow the policies that are decided by the parties down to the detailed level. This creates a bland atmosphere with everyone talking in the same way.

I prefer the concept of "unity in diversity". What do I mean?

Wisdom of the Crowd

Vote on these issues and win a prize.

Set these links in your browser

Some fans like my Facebook page, but they do are not notified of all the posts that appear in my page.

Facebook has an algorithm to select the fans to be notified.

If you wish to know all my posts, you should set my Facebook link in your browser.

I also provide the links to some of the popular websites that I managed.


Wisdom of the crowd


Monday, June 10, 2019

Ban on rare earth from China can be serious

This is my lay man's prediction, based on common sense and gut feel.

China now produces 95% of the world's production of rare earth.

The experts say that America can source for rare earth from other countries.

But it will take at least 6 to 12 months (just my guess), for the alternative sources to become commercial available. In the meantime, any ban from China will create havoc to America's high tech industries.

I believe that this can be more serious than what the experts say (i.e that America can get rare earths from other countries).

I expect that America and China will strike an agreement on their trade dispute at the G20 talk between Trump and Xi. So, you can expect the stock market to rebound.

After than, America will try to get rare earth from other sources and come back to another dispute during Trump's second term - assuming that he gets re-elected.

Big change towards electric cars

My friend, who has been in the business of selling spare parts for cars for several decades told me that the car industry will change drastically. In a few years time, all cars will be electric. The internal combustion engine will be replaced.

The electric car needs few parts. The big pyramid of suppliers that provide parts for the current cars will be totally replaced.

This led to my interest and study of electric cars. My finding agree with his view. All new cars will be electric by the end of the next decade.

Some countries have passed laws to ban the production of non-electric cars by certain dates.

We need to be aware of this big change.

Socialism with market characteristics

Many people have a strong opinion that communism is bad and that it has failed as a system of government. If any matter goes badly wrong, they use the phrase communism to describe it.

I share this conversation with a friend.

WOTC - Smart Nation project

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is your assessment of the Smart Nation project?

Here are the responses: (35 Votes)
63 % - A lot of money has been spent with little results.
26 % - It is a lot of hype but little progress.
11 % - It is making a big impact in creating innovation and productivity.
0 % - It is making a small impact. 

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

WOTC - More children

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

How to encourage families to have more children?

Here are the responses: (38 Votes)
42 % - Provide free maternity care for mothers and free medical care for the child up to age 16.
37 % - Give the mother a monthly allowance of $500 for each child (up to 3 children) up to age 16.
21 % - Provide low cost child care in each neighborhood.
0 % - Improve the tax credits and tax incentives

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Wisdom of the Crowd

Vote on these issues and win a prize.

Build relations and rapport within ASEAN

Singapore took the chair of ASEAN in 2018. PM Lee wanted to make a significant impact. He set it as a priority for that year. (At least this was the impression that I had).

He could not achieve much during the year as chair of ASEAN. It was disappointing. He did try his best.

I do not blame him for failing failing in this mission. It was difficult to get a grouping like ASEAN to work together.

It is easy for ASEAN to come out with high sounding statements than mean different things to different people. But nothing gets done with this approach.

At the least, I expected him to build personal rapport with the leaders of the other countries in ASEAN.

If he did make a statement that sounded offensive to the people of Vietnam and Cambodia, surely their leaders would have come out to calm the sentiments?

They could point out that LHL did not intend to show disrespect to the victims of the genocide. His statement should not be read in a negative way.

They did not. Instead, they made statements that are damaging to the future relations within ASEAN.

It is rather sad that the situation could get to be so bad.

Transparency over fees for remittances

Should banks be required to be more transparent in their fees for foreign currency remittances?

Someone said:
Regulators in many places have started cracking down on hidden exchange rate mark-ups. In February, the European Parliament voted for mandatory transparency in cross-border fees. Foreign exchange providers in Europe will have to tell consumers exactly how much they are charged in the local currency. Britain is considering similar legislation. In Australia, the Competition Commission began investigating hidden foreign exchange fees last year.

Read more about the issue here

Give your opinion respectfully

Most people give their views in the wrong way. It should their bad upbringing. It should be avoided.

Here are some different ways to pass an opinion.

Dealing with bomb hoax

Most people said that the authority should act on every bomb hoax, They want to play safe.

I am in a small minority who hold a different view. I said - use your common sense. Ignore the hoax when it is obviously a hoax. We should not be wasting public resources dealing with every hoax.

This letter deals with the high cost of dealing with a hoax, and it seems to be occurring more frequently.

I said - if there is a real bomb and an intent to blow up the plane, will the culprit inform the authority?

Were there any cases where the report turned out to be true, and a bomb was deactivated before it blew up?

I am not saying that we should ignore all cases. I am only saying that a senior person should exercise judgment about the report.

If there is a slim chance that it might be true, by all means do a search. But if it certainly smells of a hoax, do not waste resources and inconvenience passengers (imagine the missed connecting flights and screaming children), chasing after a hoax.

Anyway, I am sure to be in the small minority, but I want to say my piece.

Anyone is free to disagree with me, but they have to be respectful. They are not allowed to pass any personal judgment.

WOTC - Helping elderly people

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

How can the govt help poor elderly citizens?

Here are the responses: (36 Votes)
39 % - Give them a monthly pension of $500 a month for those above age 75.
39 % - Give them subsidized rental housing, food vouchers and free medical attention.
22 % - Give them a suitable job, which is not physically demanding, that pays $800 a month. 
0 % - No need to help those who spent their CPF savings rashly.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

WOTC - Worry for the future

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is your main worry for the future?

Here are the responses: (43 Votes)
33 % - The PAP will remain in power and continue its current policies.
26 % - The government continues to suppress the people and restrict freedom
23 % - Singapore will get more over populated.
19 % - The world economy will turn into a recession.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Sharing personal information

I shared my NRIC, email and telephone in Facebook two weeks ago.

I want to share my experience.

Use of KPI to measure performance

I do not like the use of KPI to measure performance in a commercial organization or the public sector.


It could lead to dispute, unhappiness and deliberate cheating.

Be sensitive about stating a "historical fact"

 When Vietnam "invaded" Cambodia in 1978, the Asean countries got together and opposed the "invasion".

So LHL stated a historical fact that the Asean countries, including Thailand (under PM Prem Thinsulanonda) opposed the "invasion".

There was no doubt that the invasion was made with good intent, i.e. to stop the genocide in Cambodia, but it was nevertheless an "invasion".

With the benefit of hindsight, or with some prior wisdom, LHL should have avoided the mention of the "invasion" as it implied that Vietnam had the intent to occupy Cambodia's territory.

I hope that LHL give a call to the prime ministers of Vietnam and Cambodia to explain that he did not intend to besmirch their good name. Anyway, it occured three decades ago.

He could also make a follow up statement in his Facebook page. If his Facebook admin wants to use my text, go ahead. No need to get my permission. Hahaha.

Avoid any criticism without checking the facts

Once in a while, someone will criticise the survey in the Wisdom of the Crowd - saying that the sample size is small and is biased.

He might even make a personal remark that "as a statistician, Mr. Tan should know about this flaw".

This person thinks that he (or she) is "smart".

If he is circumspect, he would have known about the following:

a) In the website, I already stated that this is a self selected sample and the results should be treated like any straw poll.

b) There was no pretension that it represents a statistically reliable survey.

c) To carry out a statistically reliable survey, the cost will probably be more than $20,000 - but the "smart person" thinks that it can be done for free.

d) If he has been following the survey for a while - instead of giving his "smart opinion" without proper consideration, he would have known about these features.

Before giving an opinion that is critical of another person's view, it is important to do some research and reflection first.

WOTC - Expand MRT network

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should we continue to expand our MRT network?

Here are the responses: (41 Votes)
61 % - We should be prudent in our spending and consider the cost and benefit carefully.
20 % - The expansion will provide better connectivity to all parts of Singapore.
15 % - We have an adequate network already and should avoid further expansion as it is extremely costly.
5 % - We need to expand the network to cater to a rapid increase in population.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

WOTC - Which party do you support

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Which political party do you support (top choice)?

Here are the responses: (42 Votes)
29 % - Workers Party
29 % - Singapore Democratic Party
26 % - Progress Singapore Party (Tan Cheng Bock)
10 % - People Voice Party (Lim Tean)
7 % - People's Action Party

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

Friday, June 07, 2019

Poor design of ATM machine screen

DBS Bank had a poor design of the screen at the ATM machine. It caused the customer to lose $1,000 in cash deposit.

WOTC - Change to the democratic process

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Which change in the democratic process do you like most?

Here are the responses: (43 Votes)
30 % - Election to be spread, so that one fifth of constituencies go for voting each year with GRCs being replaced by single member constituencies
30 % - Ministers to be appointed from outside Parliament, so that MPs can focus on their role as law makers. 
26 % - MPs are required to vote on bills using their independent judgment and not follow the party direction.
14 % - Elect the president directly (and not through Parliament)

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

WOTC - Should NRIC be kept private

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should NRIC be kept private?

Here are the responses: (45 Votes)
38 % - It is important to keep the NRIC private.
27 % - Even if the NRIC is known, another party cannot access the record without the password.
24 % - The NRIC is an important way to identify a person and should be used transparently.
11 % - There is no harm when the NRIC is known to the public.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

Escrow accounts

There is a high risk in appointing lawyers to manage escrow accounts. It is better to set up a few appointed organizations to manage the large sums of money.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

How Germany implements rent control

An easy way to run a country is to leave all matters to the market.

But the market can get out of hand, just like property prices and rental.

Some people said that it is difficult to regulate rentals.

The Germans have found a solution. It is not perfect, but it is better than letting the market run amok.

Here are the key elements of the approach taken by Germany.

a) For new rentals, they do not control the rentals.
b) For renewals they protect the existing tenant by regulating the rentals not to exceed 10% above the average rentals for the area.
c) The increase in rental should not exceed 20% over a three year period.
d) Special adjustment can be made for improvement in property, but in practice it is difficult for landlord to justify a large increase.

This approach is fair. It is market based, but does not allow the landlord to increase the rental for existing tenants to an arbitrarily high level.

It seemed to work quite well in practice.

WOTC - Concern over online privacy

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is the concern over online privacy justified?

Here are the responses: (40 Votes)
68 % - It is important to protect data privacy for online transactions.
23 % - The concern are exaggerated by parties that have a commercial interest to provide the solutions.
8 % - The concern is exaggerated, as the breached data are not usually not serious.
3 % - Online passwords are usually well protected.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

WOTC - Enrolment in local universities

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should enrolment in local universities be increased for local students?

Here are the responses: (45 Votes)
56 % - We need to give more places for local students to get a degree.
27 % - We should give promote people based on experience and performance, rather than on a degree.
16 % - We should give better wages for non graduate jobs to encourage more people to take up these jobs and prevent the over supply of graduates.
2 % - We should discourage people from spending three or four years on getting knowledge that they do not need for their future careers.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

Latest feedback

Here are the latest feedback, including a selection printed in the mainstream newspapers.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Wisdom of the crowd

Weakness of the US system of governance

The erratic behavior of President Trump reflect the weakness of the American system of governance.

The UK parliamentary system provides better control over such erratic decisions.

WOTC - Deposit for Jolovan Wham's appeal

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Why did Lee HY decide to provide the deposit for Jolovan Wham's appeal?

Here are the responses: (44 Votes)
41 % - He wants to do what he considers to be morally right.
34 % - He is unhappy with the actions taken by the govt against his wife and son.
25 % - He was to give Jolovan Wham a fair hearing.
0 % - He wants to take part in the next general election.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

WOTC - Indonesia 2019 general election

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Was the 2019 general election in Indonesia carried out fairly?

Here are the responses: (38 Votes)
45 % - The demonstrators were probably paid to participate in the protests.
29 % - It was carried out fairly and properly.
16 % - Observers from international bodies have reported that the process was fair.
11 % - It was carried out in a questionable manner and caused many people to demonstrate against it.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

Big and small

For several decades, I observed that many people do not have a sense of "big or small". They tend to overspend, because they do not know what is an acceptable cost.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

A dishonorable son.

This is a true story.

Mdm X had some misunderstanding with her daughter in law. The son sided his wife and severed relationship with his mother. This occurred more than 40 years ago. They did not reconcile their differences.

Mdm X, who was almost 90 years old, was seriously ill, She knew that her death was imminent. She asked her daughter to telephone her son and asked him to visit her before she died. She sat in the living room for the whole day waiting for her son. He did not show up.

Mdm X passed away the following day. The son refused to attend her wake and funeral.

The behavior of the dishonorable son was unforgivable. No matter how bad was the quarrel, which had occurred more than four decades earlier, he should have visited his mother before she died and gave her the peace of mind that she has sought.

How $4.85 billion can be spent differently

The Land Transport Authority spend $4.85 billion to build the last three stations of the Circle Line. This is 5 times of the average cost per km for the earlier phases of the line.

The finance minister should use his financial control to reject the building of this last stage, due to high cost.

If this last stage is not build, the people living near the last three stations still use other modes of public transport, e.g. buses or the existing lines - although the connection may not be so convenient.

Anyway, they had already coped with the MRT system without this three stations for the past 10 to 20 years.

If we do not spend the $4.85 billion, the government could have given a bonus of $1,400 for every citizen - senior, adult, children, i.e. $4.85 billion divided by 3.47 million citizens).

A family of 4 could get $5,600 as bonus. It will go a long way to relieve the financial stress (money not enough) for many families.

We should be more prudent on infrastructure spending. If we can reduce the unnecessary spending, we can give a bonus to the citizens or reduce (or even abolish GST).

Wisdom of the crowd

Vote on these issues and win a prize.

WOTC - Fight against fake news law (2)

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is the best way to continue the fight against the fake news law?

Here are the responses: (42 Votes)
40 % - Work with international bodies to condemn it.
31 % - Get 100,000 people to sign a petition against it.
19 % - Continue the fight in social media. 
10 % - Organize a large rally in Hong Lim Park.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

WOTC - Fight against fake news law

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is it important for objectors to continue the fight against the fake news law?

Here are the responses: (48 Votes)
77 % - Yes, our freedom of expression is at stake.
10 % - There are other issues that we can fight for.
8 % - The law is actually quite useful.
4 % - No, there is no point fighting this issue.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

Monday, June 03, 2019

WOTC - Strategies for non PAP parties

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What should be the strategy for the non PAP parties?

Here are the responses: (47 Votes)
49 % - Form a coalition and have a common manifesto to offer voters the choice of electing a non PAP government
40 % - Have a common goal to deny the PAP a two thirds majority in the next general election.
11 % - Allow each non PAP party to contest its constituencies on its own manifesto but avoid three corner fights.
0 % - Continue their current practice and let the voters make the final decision.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Damage to LHL's reputation

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Which of the following event caused most damage to LHL's reputation?

Here are the responses: (57 Votes)
46 % - Dispute with his siblings over LKY's will.
23 % - Sue citizens over small matters.
19 % - Appoint inexperienced people as ministers with high salaries.
9 % - Appoint his wife as CEO of sovereign wealth fund.
4 % - Bad outcome over foreign policy initiatives.

See the pie chart at:

CLick here to vote on the current issues:

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