Friday, September 15, 2017

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues

Here are the new issues for you to vote in The Wisdom of the Crowd.

a) Should President Halimah continue to stay in her Yishun HDB flat?

b) Will the ordinary Singaporeans eventually accept and support Halimah Yacob as the Elected President?

Give your vote in

What is the reason for the merger of IE Singapore and Spring Singapore?

53% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that people are confused with two agencies doing similar activities.

What are the other reasons?

Find out more at

Why did PM Lee choose Tan Chuan Jin to be Speaker of Parliament?

52% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that PM Lee wants to demote Tan Chuan Jin.

The other 48% gave other reasons.

Find out the details in

Who does North Korea wants to develop nuclear weapons?

68% of the people voting in The Wisdom of The Crowd said that North Korea needs nuclear weapons as a deterrent from being attacked by America. Although they may not reach America directly, they can attack America's allies in Asia.

Find out the breakdown of the votes in

Good relations between Singapore and Indonesia

Who should get credit for the good relations between Singapore and Indonesia?

43% of the Crowd said Lee Kuan Yew and Suharto. 30% said the ordinary people of both countries?

How many percent said Lee Hsien Loong and Joko Widodo?

Find out at

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Should a party be given a two third majority in Parliament?

Should a political party be given a two third majority in Parliament? (42 Votes )

PM Najib of Malaysia has asked voters to give his coalition a two third majority in Parliament. The same question can be applied to Singapore.

53% said "no" because it is dangerous to give so much power to a political party.

17% said "no". If they wish to make a major change, they should convince the elected MPs from several parties.

You can view the chart and other choices in

Should a household be allowed to share foreign maid

Should household be allowed to share foreign maids?

42% said "no" because it can be abused. 27% said "yes" but they have to apply for special permission from MOM.

Click here to view the full results.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Current fee structure favor cash payments

Consumers prefer cash .... of course. They can withdraw cash from ATM without any charge.

Vendors also prefer cash, because they do not have to incur any fee for banking in the cash. They do not realize that there is a high cost of their employee's time taken to collect cash from customers and give change and count the cash at the end of the day and when banking in the cash. The bank does not charge a fee.

The helper may be an unpaid family member, so the cost of the time spent is not counted.

This is why cash continues to be popular, even though it takes time that can be quite costly, when it is properly costed.

Vendors do not like credit card payments. They have to install a device and a connection to the bank or credit card operator. In many cases, they need several devices and connections.

The bank also charge a heavy fee, say 3%, for credit card payment.

If cash continues to be free and card payments are charged and cost has to be incurred for installing devices and connections, simple common sense says that cash will continue to be the preferred mode.

This can only change if the fee structure is changed to make it cheaper and more convenient to use cashless payments.

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues

Here are the new issues for voting.

a) How do you see the recent hurricanes in America?
b) How will North Korea respond to the latest economic sanctions?

Give your vote in

Travel to South Korea

I am visiting South Korea for a holiday for the next 10 days. I asked if it is safe to be there at this time, when there is tension between North Korea and America.

This is what the Crowd thinks.

36% said that there is no travel advisory against visiting South Korea, so it is all right to travel there.

34% said that it should be quite safe to be in South Korea. Nothing will happen in spite of the rhetoric.

Only 13% said that it is better to cancel the trip and pay the penalty.

Find out the other responses in this chart.

Target to reduce workplace fatality rate

A week ago, PM Lee set a target to reduce workplace fatality rate to a certain figure by 2020.

What do the Crowd think about this target?

33% said that the target is too far away. He should set an achievable target for 3 to 5 years time. We are not waiting another 13 years to see if the target is achieved.

30% said that PM Lee is not in touch with the real problems.

Find out about the other responses in this chart.

Monday, September 11, 2017

9/11 all over again

On Sept 11, 2001, two planes under the control of terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in New York.

It was an shocking and unpredented attack on western civilisation and the champion of the democratic and free world. (That was what most people perceive America at that time).

Sixteen years later, on the same day and month of Sept 11, in a small red dot at the other side of the world, there was another disaster for the democratic system.

In that dot, a committee had decided that only one person in a country of several millions of well qualified and highly educated people, is eligible to be a candidate for the office of elected president.

A somewhat unpopular person will become the "elected" president through a walkover.

This is a mockery. For decades, the totalitarian countries were at least able to put up several candidates, approved by the establishment, to be elected by the people. Why can't this little red dot?

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues

Here are the new issues for voting.

a) How do you feel that the Elected President is elected without a contest
b) What is your reaction to the compensation paid to 300 agents to move to a new company?

Give our vote in

Difficult to submit an online form

I wish to contact a large organization X this morning. I went to their website and saw their Contact Us page.

There was a form to enter the Salutation, First Name, Last Name, Type of service, Sub-Type of Service, Company Name and a Comment.

After submitting the form, I got a message that there were invalid data in the Comment field.

I could not find another invalid data. I cleared off the spaces, in case there were hidden characters. I got the "invalid character" message again.

I remove the message and submitted the form. I got a new message that there was an "invalid file type". I did not submit any file.

I tried again, using another type, and subtype. I got the same message.

I must have tried about 10 times before I gave up. There was no other way to contact X online. During the attempt, I must have cleared their captcha many times.

I have a number to call them, but I did not try it, as it is likely to give me to a tiresome call center.

I search X facebook page and sent a message to them.
Nobody contacted me for 4 hours.

X is an organization that deal with many merchants and customers. I find it strange that their Contact Us page is not working and that nobody brough it up.

Surely their staff should have noticed that they were not getting any forms submitted through that page for a long time?

Should a minimum wage be introduced in Singapore?

40% said the minimum wage should apply only to local workers and not foreigners. 35% said we should have a minimum wage of $8 an hour. The remaining 25% prefer the current workfare system to continue.

More details can be viewed at

Should reservist training be stopped?

34% of the respondents said that it should be continued to ensure that our reservists remain fit and combat ready. A equal number said that it should be continued for only 5 years.

View the details of all the options here.

A large number of the people voting are probably not reservists and are not personally affected by the disruption to their family and working life by the reservist training.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ex-employer gives bad reference

Dear Mr Tan

I am writing to you to seek your advice on workplace bullying, as well as on bad and false references provided by an ex-employer.

I was employed with under an organization for one year. I resigned as I was being pressurised by my superiors to quit as they claimed that it was due to my “bad performance”.

Recently, I have lost a potential job offer from a stat board possibly due to a bad reference from the organization (I have already passed all their interviews and went for the medical checkup).

When I checked with the stat board, they claimed that they cannot reveal who and what was said to them, "in order to be fair to the ex-employers".

I have submitted my case to MOM but progress is very slow, hardly moving.

How can I stop my ex-employer from damaging my future career prospects?

Here are some possible avenues.

a) See your MP. Let him know the problem faced by his citizens.
b) See NTUC - but only if you were a union member.
c) Pursue MOM - it is their duty.
d) Tell your story to The Online Citizen. If you are keen, I can introduce you to the editor.
e) I can post your story in my Facebook (but remove your name). I can then pass it to The Online Citizen.
f) Forget about working in the public sector or in the big company. They check reference and you can never convince the HR manager (of your next employer) on your side of the story. They won't take the risk of employing you.
g) Work for a SME or be a Grab or Uber driver.

Trust your judgement and common sense

I posted a question, "is it safe to be in South Korea over the next two weeks"? I get response from nearly 1 dozen people.

I describe their remarks as "the wisdom of the crowd". There are ordinary people giving their opinion on an issue based on the information that they have. They do not claim to be experts. They are happy to give their honest opinion.

So far, the crowd said, "don't worry, war will not break out over the next two weeks".

I do not expect anyone to give me any guarantee, so they do not have to worry about legal liability.

We need to go back to the times when people can trust their judgment and common sense.


What is real news and fake news?

I want to talk about real new and fake news.

Long ago, most people trusted the mainstream media. They took care to verify the facts and to present an objective view. The government also acted as the gatekeeper and ensured that the media presented the news accurately and fairly.

They also trusted the government agencies. For example, a government agency is responsible to approve medications to be sold over the counter to the public. The agency tested the medications and made sure that the approved medications are safe and effective.

During the past two decades, the agencies did not carry out their work with integrity. We now learned that the FDA in America were indirectly financed by the drug companies in some ways or another. People started to doubt if some of the decisions of the FDA were impartial or were influenced by financial considerations.

The same doubts were raised about the integrity of the politicians in America. Did they vote on legislations according to what is in the best interest of their voters, or in the interest of the people who gave financial donations to their expensive election campaigns. It was clear that most of them voted according to the wishes of their donors.

The same doubts can be raised about the corporate news media in America. Did they present and slant the news in favour of their corporate owners and advertisers?

These problems in America were and are very serious. It had led to a low level of trust in the government and its institutions.

Coming back to Singapore, we faced similar challenges.

Many people questioned the integrity and impartiality of our mainstream media.

Did they bring out the news fairly and impartially or did they slanted the news to be in favor of the government? Many people now doubt the impartiality of the news from the mainstream media, due to the polticial influence and self censorship.

Many people also questioned the decisions taken by the government in passing laws.

Were the laws passed for the best interest of the people or to preserve and protect the party in power? Are the real issues faced by the people being identified and addressed? Did they government ignored these issues in their quest to remain in power?

The government now wants to pass legislation to curb fake news. Who decides what is real and what is fake? Who decides what are facts and what are opinions? Is this legislation a further attempt to curb the free flow of information, so that only the "real news", as decided by the government, gets disseminated to the public?

I do not know how to address this question. It is now quite difficult to determine what is real and what is not. It is easy to be influenced by experts who might be giving slanted views, due to financial or political influence.

My approach is to treat all news with a source of scepticism. I rely on my common sense to tell me if the news is reliable or not. Do you agree with this approach?

Tan Kin Lian

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues

Here are the new issues for voting today.

a) Do you expect any serious problems to crop up in the Korean peninsular within the next few weeks?
b) Should bike sharing be encouraged?

Submit your vote and win a prize in

Was Justinian Tan treated promptly in the JB hospital?

Justinian Tan was badly injured in a motor accident in Johor Bahru. His friend said that the ambulance arrived late and the hospital demanded a deposit before treating him. He died due to the injuries.

The Malaysian Ministry of Health disputed the report of the friend.

Which side do you believe in?

Here are the views of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd. The results are somewhat surprising.

Did President Tony Tan carried out his duties well?

Dr Tony Tan completed a term of 6 years as Elected President of Singapore?

Did he carried out his duties satisfactorily?

12% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that he carried out his duties with dignity and diligence.

The remaining 88% were dissatisfied. What were their reasons?

You can find out here.

You can get a new prize by submitting your votes

Submit your vote on the performance of the agencies and ministers and win a prize IMMEDIATELY.

A new prize is now provided - Tangram 240. This book contains 240 tangram shapes, with the solutions. Mind boggling and loads of fun. Train your mind to be analytical and develop the skill to solve a problem.

Performance score of agencies and ministers

This chart shows the performance of the agencies and ministers. The score is computed from one week to the next.

On average, the score for each agency or minister is computed from the votes of 205 voters. The results are quite reliable.

Although there is some bias in the profile of the voters, which tends to be more anti-establishment, the bias does NOT affect the relative score of the agencies or ministers or the trend over time.

Videos on financial planning and insurance

I have created these short videos on financial planning and insurance. They are relevant to consumers in Singapore and are well received.

Each video takes about 5 to 10 minutes and brings out the essential points that a lay person can understand.

You can watch the videos at

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