Saturday, November 11, 2017

Predicament of Six Capital clients

Hello Mr Tan

Are you acquainted with this organization called Six Capital. They are presently in a fix and have failed to honor their obligations to the aggrieved clients of their B'Data and Tagg programs.

Not only are they in breach of their end of the agreement but they have yet to put forth any concrete plans to address the repayment issue. In fact they have ceased considering all requests for the hard-earned money of regular folks to be returned , when they are at fault.

Needless to say I am one of the unfortunate victim. The only formal correspondence I managed to obtain is a letter supposedly addressed to all affected clients. In fact I did not even receive this correspondence. Only managed to obtain it from other sources after much painstaking probing and inquires.

Just am interested if you have heard of this firm from possibly others who have fallen victim or other sources.

Below are two links to articles written about their present predicament. They appear to be biased in favor of the view of Patrick Teng (owner of Six Capital) without any due consideration nor mention accorded to the aggrieved parties' side of the story.…/six-capital-responds-to-complaints-o……/a-peek-inside-sixcap-a-firm-o…

I have not heard about Six Capital. I hope you did not put in too much money because the chance of getting it back is very bad.

Too many people pursue a university degree

I made a statement that we have too many people spending too much time getting a paper degree.

My friend disagreed with me. He said that he qualified as an engineer and the training was important for him. Without the degree, he would not know how to do his work as an engineer.

Many people react like my friend did. They do not listen to my statement. They do not understand my view. They are too quick to express their disagreement.

I said that "too many people" are pursuing a paper degree. We do not need too many engineers. We need people to be skilled at various levels. Some can be engineers. But we also need many people who are good technicians and draftsmen to support the enginers.

I agree that we need engineers with the broad based knowledge that comes with a university degree. But do we need so many enginners?

When my friend qualified as an engineer 40 years ago, he had the support of skilled technicians, skilled artisans and skilled draftsmen. These people were good at their work. He was able to do his work effectively as an engineer and a manager.

We have a different situation today. We have too many people with a paper degree. But we do not have enough people with working experience or technical skills to support them.

When we face problems like the frequent train breakdowns, we do not have people with the experience and technical skills to fix these problems.

The past government policy caused this problem. By giving high salaries to graduates and low salaries to non-graduates, they encouraged too many people to pursue a paper qualification at the expense of working experience and technical skills.

The government has realized the mistake and is trying to correct the situation. But they probably have no clue how to solve this problem. It is a huge challenge. It may take several decades to undo the harm and damage that had already occured.

Tan Kin Lian

SMRT needs a qluality audit plan and rigorous implementation

My friend worked 40 years in Keppel shipyard and has recently retired. I asked him, "Does Keppel have the engineering expertise to help SMRT to fix their problem?"

He replied -

It is not an engineering problem. It is a quality audit issue. I am shocked that they can allow the poor quality control to continue for so long. It is a cultural issue and a management issue.

In the shipyard, we have to build and repair many ships and oil drilling platforms. Each ship or platform contains many systems that have to work together.

We have a detailed quality audit plan. We have to make sure that the quality is maintained on every aspect of the work. We carry out sample audits and if it disclose a serious issue, we take the next step to inspect all the affected parts in detail.

If we do not maintain the quality, how can the ships or platforms take the harsh weather conditions and still work well? If you consider the thousands of ships and platforms that are out there in the ocean, how many of them break down?

They don't break down because we have a quality audit plan and we carry out the audit seriously.

It is likely that the team from Taipei will focus on the quality audit. I am sure that they know what needs to be done.

My comment -

His observation sounds quite credible. SMRT needs to pay attention to their quality audit and have to carry it out professionally and competently.
Our challenge is that the people in SMRT have been allowed to slacken for a long time. Maybe they spent their time playing politics rather than carry out the work that they are expected to do.
I can't blame them. They are learning from the bad example set at the very top of the political leadership.

If the PM and the ministers spend their time making life difficult for the opposition MPs, they are not addressing the real issues that face the people. 

If this is the leadership style, SMRT will probably be the same.

Be prepared for higher premiums under Integrated Plans

People insured under private plans (i.e. Integrated Shield plans) should be prepared for large increase in premium in the coming years.

The increase will be very steep for elderly people, above 60 years.

They will have to pay these large increases in premium, even if they do not make any claim.

Here are two main causes for the expected inceases:

a) Private hospital charges are very expensive. The large claims paid by the insurance companies will have to be borne by all the policyholders through higher premiums.

b) Private hospitals are charging high fees even for simple tests and treatments. These fees are paid by the insurance companies under the Integrated Shield plans. They will be reflected in the future premiums.

Be prepared to see the large increase in premium. If yo cannot afford the high premiums, you can revert to Medishield Life.

By that time, I hope that you still have enough savings in your Medisave account. Do not let it be wiped out through the high premiums that you have paid for the Integrated plans.

Peace of mind can turn to nightmares

Most people have the false impression that they can feel safe with peace of mind. They have already bought the most expensive and comprehensive Integrated Shield plan from a large insurance company.

What can do wrong?

For some of them, their nightmare may come when they have to go for treatment in a private hospital. Yes. they are covered by their Integrated Shield plan, but they are still hurdles to cross.

Read these examples of what these hurdles are. When you have to be hospitalised, pray that you are not caught in these hurdles.


Non Disclosure

I hope that these problems will not hit you. But you can never be sure. Do not just assume that things will be all right. It can go very badly wrong. Your peace of mind can become a nightmare.

Popular videos on financial planning and insurance

This webpage contains many short videos on financial planning and insurance.
Each video runs fro 5 to 10 minutes and explains an important concept.
The wepage and videos are very popular, especially for young people searching for some simple guides on how to handle their savings and investments.
This webpage is available for free access for free access for the time being.
I may restrict it to paid members of FISCA at a later date.

Click here to view the videos now, while it is still available for free acess.

Some HDB resale flats are sold for over $1 million

According to a news report, some HDB flats have been sold for over $1 million in the resale market.

I pose this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Are you worried about the increase in prices of HDB resale flats?

Give your vote in

How to deal with crowded food courts?

Many food courts are crowded and customers have to find ways to "chope" a table.

I pose this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - How can we deal with crowded food courts?

Give your vote in

Better way is for prices of utilities to be regulated

Straits Times Forum Page, 11 Nov 2017

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore recently announced that from the second half of next year, all remaining 1.3 million accounts, mainly households, will be able to enjoy choice and flexibility in their electricity purchases.

They will be allowed to choose their electricity supplier (New online platform to help decide on electricity purchases; Oct 28).

My recent experience made me wonder if the EMA is making the right move.

Two marketeers visited me to get me to sign up with their company for my electricity supply. They offered a discount of 20 per cent on the price charged by Singapore Power.

I agreed, mainly to help the two of them even though I felt that this kind of price cutting, without any improvement in efficiency, is not sustainable in the long run.

The paperwork to make the switch was quite tedious and the two marketeers spent an hour in my office to complete it.

With the switch, I now have to pay two bills every month - one to Singapore Power, for the water; and the other to the power supplier.

The EMA may think that this improves efficiency and reduces cost for businesses and households. It may have the opposite effect of increasing cost, instead.

How so? We would eventually have to bear the cost of the many marketeers, like the two who visited me. We would also have to incur the paperwork and expenses of changing the supplier.

The consumers will have to manage two bills each month, instead of one.

A better way is to regulate the prices of utilities. They can be made market-sensitive, but the profit and expense margins can be regulated.

Alternatively, we can divide Singapore into zones and tender out the operations in each zone to an operator, similar to the bus-contracting model.

Tan Kin Lian

Was the amnesty given by SMRT a good approach?

A few weeks ago, SMRT found that its maintenance staff has been falsifying records to show that they did their maintenance work when it was not done.

SMRT had to do a full audit of all the maintenance work. There was a risk that the bad practice was widespread.

SMRT announced an amnesty for their staff to come forward and confess their lapses, to avoid punishment.

I posed this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Was it a good approach for SMRT to allow its staff to confess any past wrong doings?

38% of the people who voted in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that it is a bad approach as it would encourage people to break rules thinking that they would have a chance to confess.

The remaining 62% were more understanding of this approach for three reasons.

You can view the reasons and the breakdown of the votes in

Should Apple use an online queuing system for the launch of its iPhone X?

When Apple announced the sale of its iPhoneX in Singapore, there was a long queue of several hundred people who waited hours to buy the new phone.

I asked this question - Should Apple arrange an online queuing system for its customers to buy the new iPhone X?

49% of the people who voted said that a physical queue has greater impact.
44% said that an online queuing system is more sensible.

I hope that as time goes by, more organizations will opt for the online queuing system.

You can see the breakdown of the votes in

Friday, November 10, 2017

Large hospital bill rejected due to exclusion

I have often advised elderly people to stay with Medishield Life and avoid upgrading to a private shield plan. Recently, I was approached to assist the family on this case.

Mdm X was an elderly lady. She was not literate in English. She received a letter from an insurance company to upgrade her shield plan to a higher plan covering private hospital.

She was asked to go for a medical examination for the upgrading. She did. The insurance company found some medical problems and offered her an upgraded plan with many exclusions. She was not aware about the significance of the exclusion. She signed her acceptance.

Find out what happed to Mdm X when she went to a private hospital for treatment. The claim was rejected because it came under the exclusion. She did not understand what the exclusion meant.

Email to CEO of SP Group

Dear CEO of SP Group

I received this letter from SP Group.
I have no idea what you mean by "application for contestability status".
I did apply for a transfer of my electricity supply from SP Group to Keppel Electric.
Do you have to send such a confusing letter to the consumer?
Can you send out a simpler letter?

I also object to your statement about the AMI meter.
Surely you know from your record if my premises have an AMI meter?
Do you expect the consumer to know your technical gibberish?

Just check if I have an AMI meter and inform me what is the status of my application.

I expect a reply. Thank you.

A confusing letter from SPGroup

Two marketeers visited my office to inform me that I could switch my power supply from SP group to Keppel Electric. I agreed and completed the tedious paperwork for the transfer.

I have now received a strange letter from SPGroup referring to "Application for Contestability Status".

The letter said, "Electricty used by contestable consumers is measured every half an hour using an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meter, which stores consumption data. The half hourly consumption data stored in the AMI meter is remotely read daily for settlement purpose:

We would like to share that AMI meters will need to be installed first. After which, we will arrange for the testing of remote downloading of the electrictiy consumption data before you can become contestable. No AMI meter installation is required if there is already an existing AMI meter at the premises".

What nonsense!

I have no clue what "contestability" is about.

SPGroup does not know whether an AMI meter is stored in my premises. Surely, they can check and inform me the actual status. Instead, I sent me a confusing letter.

This is the standard of service that comes with LHL's government. It is ridiculous.

You can change your dreams

Young people have their dreams - to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a banker.

Many parents made a big financial sacrifice to help their children to achieve their dreams. Some sold their houses to get the money to send their children overseas to achieve their dreams.

Some children may not fully realize the sacrifice that their parents made for them.

Are the sacrifices really necessary? Can the young people's dreams be modified by reality?

When I was in secondary school, I wanted to be an engineer. The brighter students in my class chose medicine and aimed to be a doctor. I thought differently. I wanted to be an engineer.

My father was unemployed. My mother struggled to run a business to earn some income for the family.

I threw away my dream. I left school after secondary education to work as a clerk in an insurance company. The starting pay was $180 a month. It was a decent pay at that time.

My principal called me to his office. He asked me to stay in school. He said that I could apply for a bursary to meet my school fees.

I told him that the bursary was not enough to support my family financially.

Anyway, it was easy for me to change my dream. Instead of being an engineer, I continued self study to become an actuary. I qualified after ten years. For me, it was better than being an engineer.

Dreams can be changed.

When I told a friend about it, he said that my message should be targeted at parents, rather than their children. I agree with him.

I hope that this message is read by both parents and their children.

Tan Kin Lian

What is the best way to promote cashless payments?

PM Lee has suggested that the country should move to cashless payments, like in China.

What is the best way to achieve this goal?

Give your vote in

Promote a common platform to link merchants and consumers

Following the call by PM Lee to promote cashless payments, there is now a strong interest in this goal.

I posed this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Many companies are now launching their cashless payments. Is it a good idea?

65% of the people who voted said that we need a common platform to link merchants and consumers.

Another 15% said that the proliferation of platforms is difficult for merchants and consumers.

This makes a total of 80%.

You can view a breakdown of the votes in

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Costly for Grab and Comfort

This is a serious challenge for Comfort Taxis. They are losing drivers by the thousands. Many taxis are unrented.

A former Comfort taxi driver told me that he accepted the Grab offer and pays only $25 a day for the rental of a car to be used under the Grab platform. The rental is actually $85 a day but Grab subsidises $60 for a period of six months.

Previously, he had to pay $125 daily rental to Comfort Taxis.

He said that Grab made this offer because they are short of drivers who now have to get a vocational licence from LTA. It takes a few months for a new driver to get the licence. So Grab made an attractive offer to entice Comfort taxi drivers to move to their platform.

It must be very expensive for Grab to subsidise $60 a day for 6 months. The total cost is $10,000 per taxi driver. If 1,000 taxi drivers move over, the cost to Grab would be $10 million. Can they earn it back?

Parliamentary sessions

Should Parliamentary sessions be streamed live?
Give your vote in

Desmond Kuek

SMRT has faced many problems recently. Should the CEO be held accountable for the failures and lapses?

I have created this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Should Desmond Kuek continue as CEO of SMRT?

Give your vote in

NEHR has to deal with large volumes of data

Here are some issues involved in implementing patient records in a national database.…/national-patient-database-not…

Making it compulsory by law is not a good idea. It will add further to the cost of medical care.

The government should consider a different approach. They should only received certain types of useful information to be provided. They should not ask every doctor to record every visit.

The hospitals can update the national database because each patient is treated in a hospital once in 10 years, on average. It is a different matter for a private clinic because each patient sees the doctor on average 5 times a year.

We have to deal with 50 times of the volume. Is the NEHR database able to handle such a volume? Will the retrieval time be long?

National Electronic Health Record

The government wants to make it compulsory by law for private clinics to submit data of patient visits to the National Electronic Health Records database.

I created this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should private clinics be required by law to submit patient records to a national database?

Give your vote in

Set up clearing house to process e-payments


In his National Day Rally speech in August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a call to popularise cashless payments in Singapore.

Many organisations have since announced the launch of their cashless payment platforms. The new players include Nets Pay, Grab Pay and AliPay. Each new player has been enrolling merchants into its platform.

These new platforms add to the existing ones, including those offered by the banks and the telephone companies.

The proliferation of platforms will not lead to greater adoption of cashless payments in Singapore. We cannot expect the merchants to sign up with several platforms to receive their cashless payments.

I suggest that the Monetary Authority of Singapore take the lead to introduce a clearing house for e-wallet payments. This is similar to the clearing house for payment by cheques.

With a clearing house in operation, merchants can open an e-wallet with only one platform and receive e-payments from the e-wallets of other platforms that conform to the technical standards specified by the clearing house.

This clearing house or portal can also provide the linkage to the banks for transfers using PayNow.

It will allow consumers to transfer money into their e-wallets, and merchants to transfer their collections into their bank accounts at a lower charge than what they now have to incur.

I believe that the clearing house will be an important step in the adoption of cashless payments on a wide scale.

Tan Kin Lian

Childish quarrel

The US and South Korea said that they need joint military exercise to tell North Korea that they are ready to counter any threat from the North.

North Korea said that they have to develop nuclear weapons to counter the threat from the US and South Korea.

This childish quarrel can never stop. Right?


Bitcoin is now at US7,500. When it was at $6000, many experts said that it was too high. The investors don't believe the experts and pushed it up by another 25% in a few days.

When it crashed, like the Tulips bubble, it would be worth $300, maybe less. Right?

Helping retail and food outlets

Many retail and food outlets find it difficult to survive due to high rentals.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - How can the government help the retail and F&B sector to cope with high rentals?

41% of the people who voted said - Do nothing. Let the businesses fail. The landlords will be forced to reduce their rental.

Another 12% said - Do nothing. Let the business upgrade and look for new businesses to survive.

This makes a total of 53%.

The remaining 47% like the government to step in and provide a rental subsidy or remove the property tax.

It is a difficult question for the government and for the public opinion. It will be tough and painful for the businesses and economy.

See the breakdown of the votes here:

Starting time for schools

Many schools start at an early hour. The children have to leave home early for school. They do not have enough sleep.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Should our schools start at a later hour?

81% of the people who voted prefer the school to start at a later hour for two reasons. The remaining 19% prefer the current starting time.

You can view the breakdown of the votes in
I hope that the government and the ministry of education respond to this feedback. Do you agree?

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Design of MRT system

I don't understand why the transport minister has to blame the design of the MRT lines for the frequent breakdown.

We did not have any problem for 25 years until the recent few years.

We are supposed to do our best with whatever we get, including the old design. We cannot fail to do a proper job and then blame the design.

It is a bad excuse.

A bad worksman blames his tools.

Wasteful activities

I share this example of wasteful and unnecessary work that is carried out routinely each day in Singapore.

It adds to the cost of doing business and the price that consumers have to pay.

This is just one example of many similar situations. It seems that wasteful activities is quite common in Singapore.

I have also been horrified by the forms that need to be completed when I wish to put a fixed deposit with a bank, other than the bank that I have a current relationship.

The new bank requires me to go through a complicated "Know Your Client" process.

Perhaps they should carry out the tedious paperwork only for transactions above a certain amount, say $100,000?

Maybe, this is a way for the banks to lock in their existing customers and discourage them from placing deposits with another bank?

Performance bonus for public sector

Is it good for the public sector to pay a performance bonus to their employees based on meeting the KPIs?

There are negative and positive aspects to this approach.

Give your vote in

Audit of SMRT operating asset

In his statement, the transport minister said:

Payment to SMRT is contingent on the requirement that the condition of the operating assets should befit their age. This process takes several years to complete. You can appreciate the extent of the assets that we are taking over. This is not a simple operation and we are not even halfway there.

Do we really need a detailed audit to determine the payment to SMRT?

SMRT is now wholly owned by Temasek Holdings and TH is wholly owned by the government. I suggest that a simple depreciation formula can be applied to the assets.

The formula can be negotiated at a high level. After all, it is from the right pocket to the left pocket, right?

We should not be spending time on unnecessary activities, right?

Perhaps, this has some impact on the performance bonus of senior people. It is this culture of "performance bonus" that is quite bad. We should review this practice.

Performance bonus

Here is a report of the discussion in Parliament about the flooded MRT Tunnel.

I have a few concerns after reading this report.

The minister said that the bonuses of senior supervisors will be tied to the performance of their teams.

Why is the minister making this statement? Surely it is the job of the CEO of SMRT to handle this matter?

I do not like the concept of giving bonus based on performance. Surely, the job of the maintenance teams and supervisors is to carry out their work as required. Do they need to have a bonus to carry out their duty?

We are taking the concept of performance bonus too far. It will breed the wrong kind of culture. No wonder we have a culture issue in SMRT.

I fear that the culture issue is prevalent in many organizations in Singapore. People forget about their duty. They look towards performance bonus.

Tan Kin Lian

Independent inquiry into flooded tunnel

The minister of transport said in Parliament that there is no need for an independent inquiry as the cause of the flooded tunnel is quite clear.

Do you agree with the minister?

Give your vote in

Limited stop bus services

At present, the bus services stop every 400 meter (on average) and takes a long travelling time.

I posed this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Do you like the bus services to stop every 2 km and for the intermediate stops to be served by a feeder bus?

67% of those who voted support this concept for two reasons.

See a breakdown of the votes in

Marine Bay Floating Platform

The government plans to develop the Marine Bay floating platform for future National Day parades.They will probably not use the Sports Hub.

I posed this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Do you like the Marina Bay floating platform to be used for future National Day Parades?

12% of those who voted said that it is a suitable place. the remaining 88% find it to be a bad idea for various reasons.

See a breakdown of the votes in

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Outlets cannot support high rental

The price for private residential property is now $1,700 psf. It is extremely high. A 800 sf apartment will cost $1.36 million.

A young family can afford it only after getting financial help from their parents to pay the down payment and take a 30 year loan, at the current low interest rate, to pay off the balance.

When the interest rate increases or they lose their job, they will face great financial difficulty.

But the buyers are willing to pay this high price because they think that property is a good investment and the prices will continue to rise, due to shortage of land.

This kind of thinking can also be applied at any price, regardless of high ridiculously high, right?

Developers consider that retail space should be two times of the shop space. They try to sell retail space at $3,000 psf or higher.

They try to rent the space at $10 psf (for a 4% yield). The rental for a 300 sf space would be $3,000. There are additional costs that need to be covered, i.e. wages, utilities, etc.

Many retailers or food outlets cannot survive at these high rentals. So, the outlet space becomes vacant. There is a high vacancy rate.

Residential property can continue to be high, due to the expectation that the prices will keep increasing. But the retail and outlet space tells a different story - the rentals and prices cannot be supported by the business.

Tan Kin Lian

Enbloc fever

The minister of national development said that the enbloc fever may not lead to higher property prices. He was giving a reply to a question in Parliament.

Do you agree with the minister? Give your vote in

No lapses by MOT and LTA

Do you agree with the minister that there is no lapse on the part of the staff of the Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority regarding the failure of SMRT to carry out its maintenance properly?

Give your vote in

Food security

There is some concern about the possibility of food shortage in the world due to climate change and other disasters.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Will Singapore face the challenge of food security in the future?

45% of the people who voted said that we must build our own sources of supply that are under our control. (However, this may be very expensive or impossible).

10% said that we must enter into strategic partnership with neighboring countries and pay a higher price for a guaranteed source of supply.

19% said that the supplying countries will look after their own interest in the event of a shortage.

26% said that our solution is to diversify our sources of supply from many countries. (This is our current strategy).

You can see the breakdown of the votes in

Independent news website

A professionally managed news website called "The Middle Ground" had to cease operations after a year due to lack of funding.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - How can readers help the independent news websites to be viable?

55% of the people who voted said that the news website has to get its revenue from its advertisements.

The remaining 45% said that the readers should pay a monthly subscription (27%) or a charge per article read (18%).

None said that the there is no need for an alternative news website.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Cut down unnecessary work

I feel very sad whenever I encounter incidents of wasteful practices in Singapore.

The people in charge may not realize that their SOP creates a lot of wasteful work that can be avoided. It adds to the cost of doing business significantly.

I share this recent example.

Two marketeers from Keppel Electric came to my office to convince me to switch my electric supply from Singapore Power to Keppel Electric. They offered a discount of 20% on the rate charged by Singapore Power.

I am not attracted by the discount, but I wanted to help the two marketeers to achieve their target. I agreed to make the switch.

The paperwork horrified me. I have to give them a copy of my SP bill, my ACRA return, my NRIC and to sign the application form and the GIRO form.

I almost decided to cancel the transfer. But I did not want to disappoint the two marketeers who had put in so much work.

I continued with the painful paperwork.

This is what my common sense tells me.

This is an existing customer with a SP bill showing the electricity supply to the premises. The customer must be a legitimate business, as SP has been supplying utilities to the premises.

There is no need to ask for the ACRA form and the NRIC of the applicant.

A signed application, with the company stamp, and a copy of the SP bill should be sufficient for the new supplier to take over.

Why does Keppel Electric have a cumbersome process? It is dictated by their SOP. The SOP probably did not distinguish between a new application and a transfer for an existing user.

In practice, most of their activities involve a transfer from an existing user. Surely, they can save a lot of work and business cost by adopting a common sense approach?

Tan Kin Lian

Monday, November 06, 2017

Voting systems

Do you know why most countries continue to use a manual voting system, instead of moving to an e-voting system?

You may get the impression that an e-voting system is susceptible to hackers and the votes to be compromised. This is not the real reason.

If you consider carefully, there is more chance for a manual voting system to be manipulated and for fraudulent actions to be taken.

The ballot boxes can be stuffed with fraudulent votes and the ballot boxes can be switched on transit to the counting center.

In many countries, the voting process is directly or indirectly controlled and supervised by the government in power. They like to keep to a manual voting system as it gives them more opportunity to take advantage of its weaknesses.

Naturally, they do not want to move to a more secure and efficient system, and lose this advantage.

Can an e-voting system be made secure from hackers and manipulation. Yes, certainly it can be done. You can view a prototype e-voting system that is explained here.

Cope with recession

In a recession, the business activity is subdued and the sales revenue decrease. The business has to cut its expenses to remain profitable.

The usual way to cut expenses is to lay off workers. It can be traumatic for the workers that are laid off. They have financial commitments.

There is a better way for a company to deal with this situation, ie. to cut its expenses without laying off workers.

This method is explained here:

If you like this approach, you should elect a government that believe in this approach. It could be white, blue or red, right?

Assure a good job for every citizen

I consider it the duty of the government to ensure that all the citizens have a job and can earn enough to raise a family and cope with the cost of living. This assumes that the citizen is willing to work hard and be productive.

How can a government provide this guarantee to its citizens? It requires sensible planning. It can be achieved.

But we need a competent government.

Unpopular ministers

Who are the three most unpopular ministers with scores less than 25%.

You can view the results in

Vote and win a prize

Here are the current issues available for you to vote.
when you cast 10 or more votes, you will win an attractive prize.

Severe weather

Many countries have experienced severe floods and typhoons in recent months. Is the increased flooding in many countries due to climate change?

Give your vote in

Texas church shooting

How do you react to the Texas church shooting where 20 people are killed?
Give your vote in

Independent news websites

The independent news website "The Middle Ground" is closing down due to lack of funding.

I asked for reaction in the Wisdom of the Crowd.

42% said that it is a pity for the website to close down. We need more new websites to give alternative views and are professionally managed.

10% said that more readers should come forward and pay a subscription to allow the website to continue.

See a breakdown of the votes and other reactions in

Narrow perspective of issues

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Do Singaporeans have a narrow perspective on issues affecting their future?

98% of the people who voted agree with this statement. This is a high percentage and is quite worrisome.

We need to have more people take a broader view of the issues that affect our future.

See the detailed breakdown of the votes in

Funding for Masters Program

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Should the government reduce funding for Masters program and use the money for short term courses?

The result of the voting surprised me. 85% of those who voted wanted a high level of funding for the Masters program to continue. Ony 15% agree with the reduction in funding.

You can view the breakdown of the votes in

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Avoid products advertised inFacebook

I saw this advertisement on Facebook. It sells the Easy Fold gadget for US $29.90.

I search for Easy Fold Clothing and found a similar product on sale for $6.90 SGD.

It is 20% of the price that is sold in the Facebook Ad.

I never buy any product from Facebook Ad now. I avoid it. They usually charge 3 to 5 times of the actual price. 

Never invest with borrowed money

Someone posted an investment in a unit trust where the bank is willing to lend money at a low interest rate to increase the investment.

I gave my view and advice: NEVER INVEST WITH BORROWED MONEY

Let me share this real story. A retired teacher went to a bank and was recommend to invest $200,000 in a dual currency investment. It gave a return of about 5% per annum but in the event that the invested currency drops, the investor has to convert into that currency. He was told that he could hold on to that currency and wait for it to recover.

The bank offered him a loan of $800,000 at a low interest rate. He could earn 5% and pay interest at 1.5%, keeping the difference at a profit.

During a crisis, the invested currency dropped 10% within a few days. He lost $100,000 on his total investment of $1 million (i.e. the original $200,000 plus the borrowed money of $800,000).

The bank asked him to top up $100,000. As he was not able to, they liquidated the investment, leaving him with a loss of $100,000 from his original $200,000.

If he did not take the loan of $800,000, his loss would only be $20,000 (i.e. 10% of $200,000) and he could afford to wait for the invested currency to recover. He did not have to liquidated the investment.

I have always advised investors - NEVER INVEST WITH BORROWED MONEY. You can invest your own money and hold it for the long term. It will recover. But when you invest with borrowed money, you cannot take the loss and have to liquidate at a bad time.

Coping with cost of living

A Malaysian told me about his experience in raising a family in Income.

He and his wife, both Malaysians, came to Singapore about 20 years ago. They do not qualify for HDB flats and had to rent a place to stay.

They had study loans to pay off. They did not earn a big salary in Singapore. They had to have financial discipline. Each of them draw out $90 a month from their bank account (where they deposit their salary). This was to cover their transport, meals and other expenses.

They were finally able to buy a HDB resale flat for $300,000. They became citizens later.

While life is tough for Singaporeans, it is also difficult for Malaysians who have to compete for jobs and cope with the high cost of living in Singapore.

The only advantage that a Malaysian has is that he does not have to serve National Service. This is a big burden for Singaporean males.

There are many challenges for Singaporeans and immigrants in Singapore. The government does not seem to understand these challenges and seem to have much difficulty in addressing them.

Successful economic strategy

Which country has the most successful economic system and strategy? America, China, Japan, Germany, UK, Australia or Singapore?

Give your vote in

Address the main issue

This is my original letter dated 10 Oct 2016 about rejected claims due to alleged non-disclosure of past medical history.

This is the reply from the Life Insurance Association. It took them 20 days to give this reply and it missed the main point of my letter. Is this dishonest?

This is my reply to LIA asking them to remind them about the key point of my letter.

I find it deplorable that the relevant party (in the case the Life Insurance Association) does not address the main issue and distracts readers with another issue. Most readers may not realize it. 

I find this dishonest approach being adopted by many government agencies as well. They do not answer the important question that was raised.

We need to hold our businesses and government agencies to a higher standard of accountability.

Amos Yee

Will you support Amos Yee in his pursuit of video making?

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Poor prospects for retail

My friend told me that a new shopping mall with 60 shops opened in Bukit Timah Road two months ago. Right now, only 1 or 2 shops have started business.

This is similar to what is happening in Flora Vista near my home. They have 31 shops and appeared to be ready some time ago.

None of the shops have started business yet. I do not see any of the units being renovated to get ready for business.

They have a big banner asking interested tenants to call their hotline. I called that number but nobody picked up the phone. I tried a few times over 1 hour, but still no luck.

The residential units are all sold out. Many people think that property will always go up in price, due to shortage of land and other reasons. They put in all of their savings, and future savings, on this belief.

But it is a different matter with commercial properties. They have to pay the rent and other expenses every month. They know that they cannot make it. So, the shops and F&B outlets remain empty.

It is time for landlords and developers to realize the problem and bring down the rentals of these shops to a level that can sustain a business. So far, most of them are unwilling to do so. They prefer to maintain the high rentals and leave the units empty They are able to hold on, as interest rate on their loans are still quite low.

But, things may change.

A degree may not be worth the sacrifice

Graduates in Malaysia are also finding it difficult to get a job that pays an adequate salary to meet the high cost of living, especially in the big cities.

Singapore face the same challenges.  But it is happening all over the world.

Young people should consider the option of starting work at a young age to get technical and practical skills, instead of spending three years and a lot of tuition fees to get a degree that does not get them a good paying job.

The value of a degree has depreciated in recent years, due to a massive over supply of graduates.

Subscription for online news

Many newspaper around the world are moving to the online version.They see the subscriptions to their print version dropping over the past years.

They set their subscription to their online versions at quite a high level. Somethimes, it is similar to the print version.

For example, the subscriiption for the Straits Times is $29.90 for both the online and the print version.

I suspect that other newspapers adopt similar pricing models.

The Straits Times has a promotion now. It charges only $0.99 for the first 3 months. After that, it will revert to $29.90.

I think that this is the wrong approach.

They should charge their online subscription at half of the print edition. Alternatively, they should charge $0.10 per article.

Readers will be more willing to join their subscription or per article pricing model.

What are your views? Those who don't like the Straits Times for political reasons do not need to reply.

Check medical history at time of application

Published in Straits Times Forum Page, 5 Nov 2017

The Life Insurance Association Singapore, in its letter, failed to address the main point of my letter (Insurance claims: Customers must come clean about medical conditions; Oct 30).

In my letter (Unfair to reject claims due to past medical conditions; Oct 10), I asked the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to require insurance companies to check an applicant's medical history when they process the application for upgrading or reinstating a plan. If they are not satisfied with the medical status of the applicant, they should reject the application at that point.

Read the letter in full at

Who will take over from Low Thia Khiang?

Who is the best person to take over the leadership of the Worker Party from Low Thia Khiang?

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Leadership of Worker Party

Why does Low Thia Khiang plan to step down from Workers' Party?

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Lapses at SMRT

Should a formal inquiry be called to look into the lapses in SMRT?

Give your vote in

A secure e-voting system

I am looking for a solution to an e-voting system.

I will stored the votes in 3 separate servers, under the control of 3 independent parties. This will prevent the people in control of the primary server or hackers from manipulating the results, as they do not have any access to the other servers.

I just found another feature in database that enhance the control. I can set the table to prevent updating of the votes. The votes can be inserted but cannot be updated.

All the three servers will have security features that make it difficult for hackers to access the servers (unlike the email server of Hillary Clinton that was hacked and the emails were downloaded).

Even if a hacker can access and download the e-votes, they do not know who the voters are, as their ID is replaced by a random code. The hacker cannot alter the votes.

Furthermore, they will not be able to change the votes in the there independent servers that are separately secured.

I find this arrangement to be quite secure. I hope that some countries will have the confidence to move to e-voting. It will reduce the manpower to count the votes and prevent the fraudulent practices in a manual voting system. The results can be announced within a few minutes of the close of polling.

Click here for more details

King Bhumiphol of Thailand

King Bhumiphol of Thailand died a year ago and was recently cremated.

I posed this question in The Wisdom of the Croed - Why was the previous King Bhumibol of Thailand so much loved by the people?

The votes were evenly split between three main reasons. You can view them at

Prospects for the economy

The government reported a slight dip in unemployment. Does this point to an improving economy?

I posed this broader question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Do you expect the Singapore economy to improve in the near future?

50% of the people who voted said that they are still pessimistic about the economy due to high cost, wasteful practices and incompetent government.

Another 30% said that the economy will continue to be bad due to bad leadership.

That makes a total of 80% who are pessimistic. The remaining 20% are optimistic.

See a breakdown of the votes in

Dip in unemployment

The Ministry of Manpower reported a slight dip in unemployment in the 3rd quarter of 2017.

I posed this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Is the employment situation improving in Singapore?

56% of the people who voted said that the unemployment situation is still quite bad with many graduates and school leavers finding it difficult to get a full time job.

Only 2% said that the employment situation is improving due to better prospects for the global economy.

See the breakdown of the votes in

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