I do not know what our counter terrorism experts have planned to deal with the "inevitable" terrorist attack in Singapore, but I like to share my common sense approach to deal with it.
1. We already know of some racialised people who have gone for training in the Middle East. The security agencies have already detained them under the Internal Security Act. Well done. Prevention is better than cure. They can be released after the security threat has been removed, e.g. if they agree to come under family supervision and agree for their movements to be monitored.
2. When the inevitable happens, allow the civil defence force to do what is necessary to save lives, treat the injured and prevent further harm. Set up an escalation system to give the first responders the full support that they need.
3. Allow the police to round up the suspects and detained them under the Internal Security Act. These are the people who are under surveillance before, but they do not fall under the earlier category of being "radicalised".
Like the first group, they can be released after the security threat has been removed, e.g. if they agree to come under family supervision and agree for their movements to be monitored.
4. Set up a hotline and an online form for the public to make reports of suspects. We only need to gather their name, contact number and a report of the suspected people. There will be hundred of thousand reports of this nature within a few days. Most of these reports will prove to be unfounded. But it is important to gather these reports quickly and promptly, and encourage people to make these reports.
Set up an articifican intelligence (AI) tool to analyse these reports and pick out those that need further investigation. This could be cases where several reports are made of the same persons or the suspects are already on some monitoring lists.
The investigators can file their reports into the database for the AI tool to analyse further. This is a different approach from the investigation process that is now carried out by the Police (based on my personal experience). We need to improve the process.
Recently, I gave an advice to a poly student that works as an intern in my office. I said - You must understand the problem and identify the real problem, before you can find the solution.
I like to give this same advice to a head of SMRT, the head of the Land Transport Authority and the transport minister. Every one of them probably earns more than a million dollar a year or probably more than 100 times of a poly graduate.
We must understand what is the problem that is described as "signal fault". Does it mean that the platform doors do not open when the train is in the station? Or is the problem more serious and complicated than this?
We travel in lifts in tens of thousand buildings in Singapore. Every lift has a signal system. If there is a signal fault, the door does not open when the lift is on a designated floor. Is this the same problem that is causing the massive disruption of the MRT system?
No amount of engineering can prevent signalling faults of the trains in Singapore.
We have signals in our houses and buildings. They control our lifts and gates. This is not rocket science. It is quite an ordinary control. When the train is in the station, the platform door opens.
There must be some faulty parts in the train or in the platform doors. They can be identified and replaced.
I don't know why they describe it as "signalling faults" when (as I suspect) they refer to the platform doors not opening when the train is in the station.
Of course, I could be wrong. The problem may be more serious than what I had guessed from the unclear information that has been disclosed..
If we continue to hide the real facts and give fancy description, such as "signalling fault", we will never understand the root cause and cannot find the solution.
I have said before. They must be tens of thousand of train systems around the world. How often do we hear of massive disruptions due to "signalling faults"?
I must blame the prime minister for appointing incapable people to run our public offices.
At the bus stop, my app shows the next two arriving buses for 163 at 15 min and 21 min. I have been experiencing this type of information on several occasions. I now expect that a "ghost bus" to appear before the next reported bus.
The ghost bus appeared 8 mins later. The next two buses now report arrivals at 7 and 13 mins.
This kind of incidents remind me that we have a useless transport minister. I shall not mention his name to avoid being personal, but I guess you know who I am referring to.
By extension, we also have a useless prime minister.
The duty of a prime minister extends beyond attending state dinners hosted by the US President and telling jokes about pork soup and cigarette smoking. Or giving prompt replies to statements from siblings.
It means paying attention to the mundane matters that affect the daily lives of the people.
I do not expect the transport minister or the prime minister to be personally concerned about "ghost buses". But if someone has been raising the issue on countless occasions in past years, they should ask the CEO of the Land Transport Authority - is it true that we have "ghost buses" that are not tracked on the bus arrival app, and how many are there?
If the CEO does not know the answer, he can ask his subordinate and the message will go down a few levels. Quite likely, the answer is - "We have to check with the bus companies". And the answer will take such a long time to arrive that everyone would have forgotten about it.
If any smart person down the line will say, "Let us ask Mr. Tan. He seemed to know what the problem is".
And if they ask me, I would give them the answer within 1 hour. But that would require me to have access to the database.
There are 17,000 buses in Singapore. They have a GPS tracker installed to give the GPS locations to the server. This is how the bus arrival time is being tracked.
I would write a script to check, for each bus, if there is any tracking record being sent on the previous day. All the ghost buses would send 0 tracking record.
I would get the answer within 1 minute. It will show not only the number of "ghost buses" but the licence plate number of these buses, the bus service number and the company that is operating that bus (SBS, SMRT or whatever).
Yes. It will take 1 minute.
And to think that nobody bothers to check this for many years!
Do you agree that we have a useless transport minister and a useless prime minister?
I was invited to be a panel member in an investment seminar organized by a subsidiary of a large media company in Singapore. I asked the staff to telephone me. I received a call at the arranged time.
TKL - Can you tell me about the format of the panel discussion. How many panel members? How many people in the audience?
Staff - The panel will comprise of 4 people, including you, and a moderator. It will take 45 minutes. We expect about 200 people in the audience.
TKL - What do I get for spending the time? Can I distribute a flyer to the audience?
Staff - We do not pay any speaker or panel member. We will put your name in our website. Sorry, we cannot distribute your flyer. We have a paid service to distribute flyers.
TKL - You ask me to spend time and pay me nothing. You want to charge me for distributing a flyer?
Staff - Sorry, Mr. Tan. We don't pay any of the speakers. So, we can't pay you.
TKL - Do you get the venue (Suntec City) for free? I know that you probably have to pay a lot of money for the venue. Why can't you spend some money to pay your speakers?
(The staff must think that I want the money for myself! I don't need it, but other speakers or panel members are not so well off as me. Usually I donate the fee to the Financial Services Consumer Association)
TKL - I have been invited by a Swiss organization to speak to the participants of their management programme. Do you know how much they pay me for 45 minutes, including questions and answers?
Staff - Maybe $10,000?
TKL - No. Not so much. It is a small group. They pay me $2,000. And they have been re-inviting me for several years.
TKL - I know that you would probably have to pay $50,000 or more to invite a foreign speaker to give a keynote address. Why can't you set aside a budget to give a modest fee to local speakers? Why do you want to exploit the local speakers to this extent?
Staff - Sorry, Mr. Tan. This is the local practice. We have been doing it like this for many years.
TKL - I will be posting this conversation in social media.
Staff - Mr. Tan, please don't. I will get into trouble. If you don't want to speak, OK. But please don't post into social media.
TKL - Don't worry. I won't mention your name. But I want the public to know this is how our conference organisers treat local speakers.
Conclusion: I don't have to say it. But you would know that I decline the invitation.
Personally, there is an urgent need for a Ministerial Committee to investigate into the failings of SMRT and LTA. Commuters are not buying the claim that signal testings are still ongoing, and that such testings alone are causing the delays/breakdowns. The problems are multiple, and the situation is degenerating to frustrating chaos and catastrophe.
How is Singapore's national productivity to improve when our labour force, relying on public train transport, are placed in predicaments of being very late for work, or in very stressful condition, which would invariably affect their work performance.What about students who have examinations to take??
It makes nonsensical the call by the Government. for the public to take the trains and keep the cars off the road, when the train transport system is failing daily, BIG TIME!!!
We are past the "wake-up call" to do something. It is time for a full and complete investigation, from all angles, by a Ministerial Committee, with feedbacks invited also from the public. There must be no stone left unturned ,in this quest to set things right.
It is quite obvious that the faults lie in the system design and material used as opposed to the earlier accusations of lack of maintenance and poor management. Now the SMRT and LTA are run mainly by elite military personnel but the breakdowns seem to be endless. It is very disappointed that commuters have to bear the inconveniences.
I am familiar with the GPS tracker installed in vehicle. This is how it works.
You can set the tracker to get the GPS location at every interval (say 1 minute) and send the data to the server. The server will know the location of each vehicle at that time interval.
This is the data used to tell the commuters about the expected arrival time of the bus.
Some of the trackers in the buses are spoiled and do not send their location to the server. The server does not know that the bus exist. I describe it as a "ghost bus".
If the mobile app says that the next bus 163 will arrive in 20 mins, we may get the "ghost bus" arriving in 10 min. As the server does not know this bus, it is reporting the next bus that is arriving 10 mins later.
I have noticed the incidents of these "ghost buses" for a few years.
If the bus company or Land Transport Authority bother to look at all the buses that report their location, they will find out the buses that do not report their locations, because of a failed tracker. They can replace the tracker immediately. The tracker cost only $100.
It is a shame that the people in charge are not paying attention to this matter. It is a shameful state of affairs.
The children of Lee HL and Lee HY have said publicly in Facebook that they have no interest to enter politics. Do the Crowd believe them? The majority thinks that we will see a third generation of the Lee family in our government. See their votes in http://www.wisdomofthecrowd.sg/chart.aspx?ID=137
Tip for young people who are about to start work or have recently started work.
Learn about financial planning and insurance from the videos here. They are relevant for people in Singapore. Save yourself many thousand of dollars by avoiding the bad mistakes. www.tankinlian.com/video.aspx
Minister Desmond Lee asked the construction industry to use technology and improve efficiency.
This kind of message has been repeated many times in the past. Why are our construction companies still so backward?
I suspect that the tender system is the root cause. If we go on competitive tender for projects, the main contractors and sub contractors are unsure about the flow of their jobs. So, they will find it difficult to invest in technology.
To give them the confidence, they should be assured about the future flow of jobs at sustainable prices. This can be done when we change our competitive tender system.
This is how it can be done (just my thinking aloud). The government can use professional quantity surveyors who can make a good estimate of the cost of the project. This price can be indicated in the tender.
If a contractor is able to accept the project at this price, they can be assessed base on the quality of their technology and standard of work for past projects.
Here is an example. The professional QS estimated the job to be $100 million. If it is based on competitive tender, the lowest bid might be $95 million. If the project is awarded to this lowest tender, the contractor may fail (i.e. declare bankruptcy) or find ways to press down the wages and subcontractors.
However, if the project is awarded for $100 million, based on my new criteria, the main contractors and their subcontractors will be willing to invest in technology and develop a skilled workforce for the long term.