Saturday, September 09, 2017

Wisdom of the crowd - prizes

There are two new issues for voting today.

a) Are we having too many bike sharing operators?
b) Is the competition between Grab and Uber good for consumers?

You can win these prizes by voting on the current issues in the website:

You can vote here:

A bad sign for the economy - too many Uber and Grab drivers

Many graduates and PMETs are now working as Uber and Grab drivers.

55% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd says that it reflects an economy in bad shape. Another 32% said that these people should be more productively employed in other jobs.

Clearly, the general public is worried about this trend. It is reflected in their votes.

Singapore should discontine the useless immigration card

Should Singapore discontinue the immigration card that visitors are required to fill up before they enter the country?

85% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd agreed that this should be discontinued.

They pointed out that many countries have already discontinue this card and that all required information abotu the visitors are already available as the immigration officer had scanned the passport of the visitors.

I find it quite troublesome to complete an immigration card or form when I visit some countries. The form is badly designed and asked for information that is quite troublesome for the vistor to complete.

I consider the form to be useless and troublesome.

I find it a pleasure to visit Malaysia and Indonesia, as they discontinued the immigration card a few years ago.

I am surprised that Singpore is so backward that we required a visitor to complete the card to enter Singapore.

My personal view on the "demotion" of Tan Chuan Jin

Someone asked for my views about the apparent demotion of Tan Chuan Jin (TCJ) from minister to speaker of Parliament.

I do not know TCJ personally. From the views that I read in the internet, he seemed to be someone who is willing to speak his mind, which in his case is writing in his Facebook. He seemed to be well liked by the staff in his ministry as they gave him an unusual farewell by participating in a 6 km run with him.

A commentator wrote an article that seemed to criticize him for doing little to address the challenges faced by his ministry of social and family development.

My own observation was that he did not do much to address the challenges faced in his previous post as minister of manpower.

To be fair to TCJ, I would say that the statement of "did not do much" applies to most of the ministers in LHL's cabinet.

The challenges faced by the people are daunting. Most of the ministers did not seem to understand the real problems, let alone finding the solutions to these problems.

We are all aware about the problems faced in public transport, health, employment, security of jobs, over-population, slowing economy and high cost of living.

Most of the ministers in charge of these areas appear to be in hiding.

My friend told me that TCJ is a minister that does not appear to be "smart", compared to some other ministers.  The friend had met these ministers personally.

I find this comment to be irrelevant. Being "smart" is not the solution to our problems. I have no doubt that the prime minister (LHL) is one of the smartest persons in Singapore. However, he seemed to have made a mess of things during the past decade when he was the prime minister.

I consider the quality of humility to be as important, or perhaps more important than being smart.

A leader should be humble in knowing that he (or she) does cannot find the answers to many difficult problems by himself. He needs to listen to the views of other people, to the real experts in the field, to the staff working for him (who have to face the problems everyday) and to the public who feels the impact of these problems which are caused by his policies.

After getting the inputs, the leader should be "smart" enough to know which are relevant and which are not.

To find the solution to the problems, after they have been identified, the leader needs to know if similar problems have been faced by other countries and cities and how they went about addressing these problems. The leaders needs to be humble to learn from the experience of other countries and "smart" enough to know if the solutions could work in Singapore.

There are a few occasions where challenges faced in Singapore are really unique, and the experience of other countries are not likely to be relevant.

The leader then has to find the solution by trial and error, or what is described as "prototyping" in engineering. This approach requires an open approach, to be willing to tell the public about the uncertainty and to share the results of each trial and to hear inputs from the stakeholders.

On the important quality of being "humble", I have to declare that most, if not all, of the ministers in LHL's cabinet failed miserably. The best word to describe their attitude is "arrogance". They do not seek to hear the inputs of other people who are familiar with the issues. In fact, they ignore these inputs. They seem to think that they alone know the solutions.

I suspect that they get this attitude from observing the behavior of LHL himself. To be fair to LHL, perhaps their behavior comes from our education system which encouraged the elitist behavior.

Coming back to TCJ, I think he is unfortunate to be singled out for a weakness that seemed to be shared by most ministers. In fact, TCJ probably has a larger share of the quality of humility that is essential for success.

I hope that he will have the chance in the future to prove that humility and smartness are essential for our future success. I wish all the best to TCJ.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Dedicated zones for shared bikes

Shared bikes should be parked within designated areas.…/new-rules-soon-to-tackle-i…

This is a good move. The users can be fined for parking outside the designated areas.

I am disappointed to read that the shared biked operators work with the "PAP town councils". Why can't they work with ALL town councils?

When will the PAP wake up and know that this kind of news make many people disgusted.

What have the citizens done?

Rachel Ash commented on an article that claimed Tan Chuan Jin did not do much as minister for social and family services.

Mr Tan. In my humble opinion: it is not what has TCJ done or not done; the real question should be - what have citizens of Singapore done?

Directly or indirectly, these are exactly the ministers that the citizens had been screaming out beating their chest to have including our soon to be Indian President Halimah.

Many who had felt sorry for the sorry state we are in, many of them had given on the these same citizens who complains so much but keep wanting more of the same.

What is the point of these senseless complains?

At the next generatl election, we are going to still see close to 60 to 70 odd % winning by the ruling party again.

Many who are financially independent had given up, and just watching the show at the sideline. Not that they are insensitve to the needs of their fellow citizens but they got stabbed by the same people whom they are helping.

With each passing election, even if the opposition wins a GRC or SMC, their lives would be a struggle just to run the day to day upkeep.

There will be hoops and loops to jump with traps that will shorten their political life.

Look at WP, not long more before they get hammered into nothingness. Many of these crying out citizens .... claim this time would be different ..... yah yah we heard before .......

Majullah PAP.

Fast Forward bus service - make it work!

About ten years ago, I wrote an article about public transport. It was printed in the Straits Times.

One suggestion was to run buses with limited stops and to serve the intermediate stops with a feeder service. This will cut down the time for a bus journey.

I did not get any response from the Land Transport Authority. Nobody bothered to engage me.

I recently found that this idea was implemented under the "Fast Forward" service by SBS.

Fast Forward, via a combination of having fewer stops and flexible routing in non-stop sectors to avoid traffic congestion allows the service to deliver travel time savings of up to 20%. Operating only during the morning and evening peak hours to meet our commuter's needs for faster and more comfortable travel from home to work and vice versa. There are eight Fast Forward services in operation today (10e, 14e, 30e, 74e, 89e, 151e, 174e, 196e).

I did not hear any publicity about this service. It is now applied only to a few stops.

I suspect that this concept did not take off. Why?

I did some research and was horrified to learn that the fare for the Fast Foreward service is about 70% higher than the normal fare. This is shown in the fare table at the bus stop.

The reason for the higher fare is that there is less demand for this service. This is ridiculous.

There is less demand because you are charging a higher fare, and you are not publicising the service. Right?

I can say, with great disappointment, that this is the quality of the planning under LHL's government. Why did he put in place people who think in this manner? Why did this people not have a public discussion on this matter?

I still think that this concept will work, if it is publicised and the normal fare is charged.

Let me explain how this will work.

I take bus 163 to work. Suppose they convert it to a limited stop service numbered 163e that stops at the major stops, which are identified with a special pole.

If the bus stop near my home is not a major stop, I will take a feeder service a few stops to the next major stop. I will then catch 163e to my office.

If my office is not a major stop, I will get off the bus at a major stop before that and change to a feeder service.

Changing buses is quite easy. I do it quite often. I get off the bus and wait for the next bus at the same stop. The waiting time should be quite short for a feeder service. I am referring to a new system of feeder service that serves the intermediate stops. It should arrive within two or three minutes.

Under this Fast Forward service, the journey time should reduce by 20%, even allowing changing to feeder services. There is a big saving in time when the FF bus does not have to stop at the intermediate stops.

I hope that the Land Transport Authority take up this suggestion and contact me for a discussion0


Wisdom of the crowd - results

Here are the results of voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd

a) Did Singapore perform well in the South East Asia Games 2017? (59 Votes )

64% said "yes". 19% said "yes, but we could have done better".

More details at:

b) What is your view about the campaign slogan, "Do good, do together" (61 Votes )

48% said "it is awful". 30% said "it sound odd".

More details at:

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues

Here are the new issues for voting.

a) Who does North Korea need to develop nuclear weapons?
b) Who should get the credit for the good relations between Singapore and Indonesia?

Give your vote in

Collective sale of Thomson View

The tall white building at the center of the picture is the tower block of Thomson View condominium. I lived in the townhouse in 1983 to 1996. I am now the chairman of the collective sale committee. If the collective or enbloc sale is successful, you will not see this tower block in 2 years time.

It is difficult to be the chairman of the sale committee. The committee has to deal with supporting and objecting owners, including a few who were unrealistic and demanding and made life difficult for the committee.

Most owners do not want to be in the sale committee, less so to take the duty of the chairman. It is a lot of hard work. As I run my own business, I can afford to spend the time to handle the role, which is mainly coordination with the committee, marketing agent, lawyer, managing agent and the individual owners.

I was also fortunate to have the support of my committee members. The members chipped in and do their share, even though they have to do a full time job.

I will not say that it is a thankless task, because many owners had sent email to thank me for taking the lead in this effort.

Why I bought an apartment in Forest City

Dear Mr. Tan
I read that you bought an apartment in Forest City. I also heard from my friends that more than 100,000 units will be built there and it will be difficult to find a tenant or to sell it in the market later on, due to the massive supply. Why did you choose to invest there? How are you going to pay the loan to buy the property?

I agree that it is not a good choice for an investment, at least for the short term. I plan to hold it for the long term as a holiday place for my children and grand children. It is only 10 minutes from the second link and provides a totally different environment.

It is build as a modern smart city. Among others, it has an innovative transport concept. The plants in the buildings will act like a forest to provide oxygen and remove the carbon dioxide.  The concept is totally different from any other city on the planet now. I am buying for the future.

I am paying for the apartment upfront to enjoy a 15% discount. You can see from the progress videos that the apartments are being built very fast, so the risk of default can be ignored.

It is a freehold apartment. The price is about 25% of the price for similar 99 year property in Singapore.

In my view, this property is suitable for people with spare cash, especially those who have sold their property for a handsome sum in an enbloc sale recently. You can invest some of your gains in Forest City.

You can watch the videos of Forest City on Youtube. If you are keen to visit the place, and even to have a complimentary one night stay at the 5 stay hotel, send an email to I will ask the marketing executive at Forest City to arrange your stay.

She had arranged a stay for me last month, and that led me to buy the apartment.

Wisdom of the Crowd - results

Here are the results of the voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd.

a) What is the impact of National Service on Singapore males? (54 Votes )

44% said that it is harmful for their study and career. 31% said that it is useful but should be shortened.

View the details in

b) Is it wise to hold the second industry briefing on the High Speed Rail in London? (51 Votes )

51% said that it should be held in Kuala Lumpur as the first briefing was held in Singapore. 26% said that it should be held in another Asian city as the likely bidders are from Asia.

View the details in

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

A distorted headline can create a wrong impression

Someone sent me an email. He expressed the view that Salleh Marican and Farid Khan are more suitable for the role of Elected President due to their business experience and asked for my comment.

I replied to his view in my Facebook page. I expressed my view that Halimah Yacob does not appear to have the financial knowledge and experience required for the responsibility of looking after our reserves.

A website put the headline that "Tan Kin Lian, ex-CEO of NTUC Income, said that Halimah Yacob had poor financial knowledge".

This headline was a distortion of my view. I do not know the level of Halimah's financial knowledge. Most likely, she has the financial knowledge of well informed people.

I was referring to a higher standard of financial knowledge that is needed to "look after our reserves". Most people do not have high level of knowledge. That is why the constitution required a candidate from the private sector to be the top person in running a company with $500 million in share capital.

This is an example of how a headline can distort the actual meaning intended by a person and can create a wrong impression.

I wrote to give my feedback to the administrator of the website. They have removed my article. But the damage had already been done, as their distorted headline and photo had been circulated to large numbers of people.

A reflection of weak leadership within LHL's government?

IE Singapore and Spring Singapore will be merged to drive the globalisation effort.

I speculate that they were carrying out similar duties and this merger is to remove the duplication and overlap.

Anyway, it probably reflects a bad state of affairs in Singapore - where different agencies protect their own turf and build their empires.

This problem is quite widespread throughout the government, and is not confined only to these two agencies.

It is a reflection of a weak leadership within LHL's government.

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues

Here are the new issues for voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd.

a) What is the reason for the merger of IE Singapore and Spring?
b) Why did PM choose Tan Chuan Jin to be Speaker of Parliament?

Vote in

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Foreigners are less keen to be permanent residents of Singapore

It seems that foreigners are less keen to become permanent residents of Singapore now. I also read that many people are giving up their permanent residency to return to their own home country or to work in other countries.

The government has to take special steps to promote PR in Singapore.

Permanent residents do not need to do national service. if they are still not interested to be a PR of Singapore, what does this mean for our local males who are compelled by law to serve two years of full time national service and ten years (or maybe longer) of reservist duties?

Is the burden for our local males too heavy? What benefit do they really get to be citizens? A chance to vote? What for - the elected president has become a farce. Even the general election is not really that free or fair.

It is time for our government to realize the harm that they are causing to our local males. It is time for them to reduce the burden and give them a chance to compete in a challenging environment.

Lee HL does not know how his policies impact the ordinary people in a harmful way. It is time for him to wake up. Or for his elites to whisper the truth to him.

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues

Here are the new issues for voting.

a) Should a political party be given a two third majority in Parliament?
b) Should household be allowed to share foreign maids?

Vote in

Wisdom of the Crowd - results

Here are the results of the voting.

a) Is climate change causing severe weather conditions that cause damage around the world? (51 Votes )

47% said that climate change is responsible for the severe weather. 33% observed that the weather is more severe but could not attribute it to climate change.

b) What is the current salary of the President of Singapore (53 Votes )

45% got the correct answer ($1.5 million) but 50% think that it is $3 million or $4.2 million.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Reduce our cost of doing business

Some people commented that the high cost of doing business in Singapore is due to rental, transport (COE) and water rates, and not due to the processing of payments.

I agree that rental, transport and water are adding to the cost of doing business. They have to be dealt with as well.

The inefficient payment system is also adding to the cost. We hve to deal with this matter as well.

The objectors pointed that vendors do not like cashless payments because it is costly to install payment devices, and to connect them to the banks.

This observation is also true. We have been adopted the wrong approach in the past.

There is a low cost and efficient way to adopt cashless payment. AliPay and Wechat has shown how this can be done, and they have done it successfully in China. We need to wake up and follow them.

Cashless payment the e-wallet way

I have been writing about the inefficiency and high cost of our payment system for more than ten years. I took issue with the high use of cheques and cash in our business transactions.

Finally, PM Lee raised this issue in the National Day Rally. He should have acted much earlier. He must have been asleep all this while.

Still, it is better late than never. Because he raised this issue, the government agencies are moving double quick to implement cashless payments.

It is really worrying that things do not move in Singapore unless the PM says so. How shameful!

We have been trying cashless payments for a long time. We have NETS and POS systems. Vendors find these platforms to be costly to implement. They are reluctant to incur this cost.

Some vendors have to install separate devices to connect to different banks and credit cards. The government tries to introduce an universal terminal, but it still requires separately lines to connect to the different banks. It does not solve the problem or reduce the cost significantly.

A better solution is to have a payment gateway. Each vendor has one device to connect to the gateway. The gateway handles the connection to the different banks.

I hope that the people in charge realize that their solution is not helping to reduce cost much.

Because of the high cost of implementing harware devices and connecting them to the banks, most vendors are reluctant to use cashless payments. But it is the outcome of our bad approach.

We can learn from the experience of China. Their payment using Wechat and Alipay is extremely successful. The vendor does not need to install any hardware device. They accept payments through their smart phones. The customer makes payment using their smart phones.

The two systems are easy to use. Even the elderly people know how to use them. These systems are also cost efficient. The vendors find it convenient to receive payments through the e-wallets. There is a small transaction charge, but it is much cheaper than handling cash.

If we adopt the e-wallet system similar to AliPay or Wechat, it will be well accepted in Singapore. That is the way to go.

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues

Here are the new issues for voting.

a) Is it safe to be in South Korea in September? I am taking a holiday there. It was arranged a few months ago.

b) What do you think about PM Lee's target to reduce workplace fatality by 2028?

Vote in

Wisdom of the Crowd - results

Here are the results of the voting.

a) Did Singapore perform well at the South East Asia Games? (48 Votes )

The Crowd is generally happy with the results. 75% give positive comments.

b) Are you disappointed that Today paper has stopped the print edition? (51 Votes )

The views of the Crowd are quite mixed. Some are disappointed that the print edition of Today has stopped. Others said they do not read Today anyway.

Performance of agencies and ministers

The latest performance score of the agencies and ministers and the trends are now ready for your viewing. The newly promoted ministers, i.e. Josephine Teo and Desmond Lee, are getting low scores. This is perhaps due to their low profile. It may take a few weeks for their scores to move up.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Helping the elderly to adapt to cashless payments

When I was at Sydney airport, I queued to buy an Opal card for my train fare.

The visitor in front of me, also a Singaporean, did not have a credit card. The Opal counter does not accept cash for the Opal card. They are entirely cashless.

He turned around to ask me - can he give me A$100 and use my credit card to buy his Opal card? I agreed to help.

So, if elderly people cannot top up, they can pass the cash to another person who can take their cash and top up for EZ Link card for them.

But, the elderly person probably has a bank account. If he (or she) can travel, he can also learn how to use the ATM card. it is actually quite easy. He only needs to make the effort.

The process of topping up with an ATM card is quite easy. So, I have to issue here.

There are other processes in Singapore that need to be simplified. For example, the use of SingPass is quite complicated, after they introduce the 2FA and force the password to be changed to a more complicated one.

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues

Here are the new issues for voting.

a) Should a minimum wage be introduced in Singapore?
b) Should reservist training be stopped?

Vote in

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