Monday, June 18, 2018

My bad experience in filing an annual return

I have to file my ACRA return today.

ACRA is quite inconsiderate. They designed a complicated system for submitting an annual return. I have to download a 16 page PDF to guide me through their process.

After I entered by business UEN number, I received a message that I have to update my Electronic Register of Members and Share Capital.

I have to search for where the link to update this item. I have to go through a website that has hundreds of confusing links. I could not find the place to update it.

I called their hotline. It was another nightmare. After listening to many irrelevant and distracting messages, I finally managed to speak to a staff.

The hotline staff helped me to go through the complicated steps. The information needed to update the share register was quite complicated. She had to help me.

I finally managed to complete the return. I saved the transaction and have to come back again to complete it.

I asked to complete a survey. It asked me to rate my experience from 1 (poor) to 6 (excellent). I entered 1. It was not accepted. I was asked a few times. I entered 1. They were all rejected. Finally, I was told that I had exceeded the calls.

What a sham!

Tan Kin Lian

Lessons from the World Cup 2018

I am following the World Cup 2018 with some interest.

Around the year 2000, the prime minister Goh Chok Tong set Goal 2010 - to qualify for the finals of the World Cup 2010.

We did not achieve the goal in spite of great efforts made to promote football. We organized the S League and imported many football "talents".

This goal has since been dropped. I thought that a country with a small population, like Singapore, would not make it.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that three of the teams who qualifed for the world cup have a population smaller than Singapore - Croatia, Serbia and Iceland. Iceland has a population less than 10% of Singapore.

These teams also performed well in the first round of the World Cup. the beat or drew with teams from bigger countries.

To do well in the World Cup does not depend on the size of the country. Although bigger countries have an advantage, the small countries could also perform well through a better system of developing their footballers.

So, it must be something else that cause Singapore to fail in this goal.

It could be some of the following factors:

a) No passion and time for sports - for most of the young people
b) National service disruption for promising players
c) Lack of innovation in identifying and dealing with other problems.
d) Insufficient recognition for sportsmen?

Tan Kin Lian

Can you add other factors?

Allow CPF members to invest in an CPF index fund

Many CPF members complain about the low rate of interest paid on their accounts - 2.5% for the ordinary account and 4% for the other accounts.

They have the option to invest in shares using the CPF Investment scheme. However, some members had bad experience with this scheme the past or are not familiar with how they can make the investment.

I suggest that CPF should set up one fund, which is well diversified in shares, as an option for members. This fund can be invested in the top 30, 50 or 100 blue chip shares in Singapore. It should have low management fees, e.g. 0.2% per annum.

CPF members can apply to transfer some savings from their ordinary or special accounts to be invested in this index fund.

The top 30 shares in Singapore, covered by the Straits Times Index, earned an average return of 9% per annum (or maybe slight lower) during the past 20 years. While the return may be volaltile from year to year, the long term average is quite attractive. Investors can be educated to take a long term view.

At present, the CPF members can invest in the STI ETF using the CPF Investment Scheme. But it is too troublesome for most people.

If the CPF set up its "index fund" option, it would be much easier. More people will choose this option and get a better long term return. They will not complain about the low rate of interest on the default CPF savings, because they have the option to take some risk and get a higher return.

Tan Kin Lian

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Likely outcome of the Summit

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - What is the likely outcome of the Trump Kim summit in Singapore?

Here are the responses:

39% - A major breakthrough
37% - A limited success
13% - A dismal failure
11% - A wasted opportunity

Success - 76%. Failure -24%

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Will Singapore play a major role in the Summit

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Will Singapore play a major role to achieve a successful outcome for the Kim Trump summit?

Here are the responses:

56% - We will only provide the venue and security
23% - We will try to help but will not be able to contribute
10% - We will help the two parties to find a win-win solution
10% - There will be a mess up someone.

Yes - 10%. No - 90%

See the breakdown of the votes in

Allow CPF savings to be withdrawn in full at 65

Many CPF members ask for the right to withdraw their CPF in full at age 55. This was the provision prior to 1987. In 1987, the mininum sum scheme was introduced to hold back a portion of the CPF savings.

The minimum sum started at $30,000 in 1987 and had been increased over the years. It is now at $181,000 and will continue to be adjusted upwards every year.

A large percentage of CPF members (maybe more than half) is not able to meet the minimum sum. In effect, they are not allowed to withdraw their CPF savings except for a small sum of $5,000 at age 55.

Many of these CPF members are aggrieved. They want to withdraw their CPF savings at 55 as originally promised.

I like to give my view on this matter.

Life expectancy has improved. It will be too early for the CPF savings to be withdrawn at 55. But I suggest that the CPF savings should be allowed to be withdrawn in full at 65.

This means that the minimum sum scheme should be scrapped.

CPF members can continue to keep their savings in the CPF after age 65 or invest in CPF Life. This should be made voluntary.

My approach is - do not make CPF Life compulsory, make it attractive.

CPF can offer attractive terms to encourge members to invest in its CPF Life scheme (which is a life annuity). This can be achieved by operating the scheme on a not-for-profit basis and keeping the administrative expenses low and investing the funds in government bonds yielding 4% p.a.

Some people may opt to withdraw their CPF savings fully at 65. They have their reasons. Let them make the decision that suit their own financial planning.

There is a risk that some of the retirees will squander away their savings. We have to accept this risk. We can only reduce it through financial counselling.

We can simplify the CPF scheme by removing the minimum sum scheme. Currently, there are too many confusing regulations involve in managing the minimum sum scheme.

Tan Kin Lian

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Why do we need two separate schemes?

I met two elderly men at the bus stop in North Bridge Road yesterday. They recognized me.

Man - Mr. Tan, why do we need to have CareShield? Can it be merged with MediShield? I am confused about two policies and having to pay two different premiums.

TKL - I agree with you. It is better to have one scheme that provide both types of benefits.

A few days earlier, I met a young couple in their thirties. They have not heard about CareShield. They will be asked to contribute to CareShield when it is launched in one or two years time.

Many people will be asking many questions when their money is being deducted.

The more scheme, the more confusion.

Breakdown of the $20 million budget

It is becoming quite clear that the $20 million spend by Singapore on the Trump Kim summit is excessive.

Does this include the sunk cost? Does this also cover the expenses of the US delegation?

It would be wise for Lee HL to give a breakdown of this budget. By keeping the citizens in the dark, he is inviting all kinds of speculation and distrust.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Goals of education

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - What is the most important goal of education

Here are the responses:

63% - teach children on character and values
32% - prepare children for the working world
5% - teach children to read and write
0% - select the best students to be scholars

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Separation of powers

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Which is most important for "separation of powers"

Here are the responses:

27% - independence of the Election Commission, CPIB and Public Prosecutor
27% - Transparency and accountability
24% - Limited tenure for the prime minister and ministers
24% - Parliament, Court and Government to play different roles

See the breakdown of the votes in

#HearMeOut and SG Conversation

During the first week, I had to write most of the feedback to these two platforms. I am now getting good contribution from the public.

You can read the feedback here and also contribute your own feedback.


Sg Conversation

You can view the feedback on your mobile phone by clicking the above links.

Build a relationship of trust and friendship

Han Fook Kwong wrote an article in the Sunday Times: Time for Singapore and Malaysia to discard old stereotypes.

KL's moves since May 9 polls raise hopes that the country will become a more just soceity based on rules of law.

In the long term, a Malaysia that is doing well, is stable and democratic and governed by competent people based on the rule of law is good for Singapore. A Malaysia that is divided, full of racial tension and always on the verge of the next political crisis is bad for Singapore.

I agree with Han Fook Kwong. Wholeheartedly.

The buiding of a relationship based on trust and friendship with the new government in Malaysia can start with a phone call.

It will be a call made by our finance minister Heng Swee Keat to his counterpart in Malaysia, Mr. Lim Guan Eng. Mr. Lim had said in an interview with Channel New Asia that he hope Singapore can help Malaysia to cope with debt.

Mr. Heng can ask - how can Singapore help?

Mr. Lim will probably bring up three areas:

a) Can Singapore waive the penalty of 500 million ringgit (SGD 150 million) for the cancelation or deferment of High Speed Rail?

b) Can Singapore return the CPF savings of Malaysians who have returned to work in Malaysia?

c) Can Singapore give a long term loan to Malaysia on favorable terms of repayment.

If I were the finance minister of Singapore, I would agree to the first two requests. They will not be costly to Singapore. It will be helpful to Malaysia and can be the start of a relationship based on trust and friendship.

However, I would not be able to agree on my own. I will suggest to Mr. Lim that Dr. Mahathir can call Lee HL to confirm the agreement.

There will be no need for any "package deal" for these two items. The agreement will be based on trust and friendship.

If Malaysia needs Singapore to help on the third item, the discussion will be more difficult. What is the favorable term that Malaysia would like to have and how much will it cost Singapore?

Would Malaysia be prepared to offer some benefit to Singapore in exchange - such as the extension of the water agreement, the sale of sand and use of air space?

But I would decouple this difficult discussion from the earlier items that are not costly, and would help to build a good relationship.

What are your views?

Tan Kin Lian

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Can we trust politicians?

Someone said:
Dr.M is still the same old politician. And I usually don't place too much trust on politicians.They like to say different things at different events.

My reply.
I also say different things on different occasions. I am not being dishonest. I have to convey the message in a manner that is relevent to the audience.

But the basic message is the same. There are different perspectives to that message.

For example, the key message coming from the Malaysia side is that they cannot afford the cost of the HSR at this time. They don't have the money.

The different perspectives are - to cancel the project, or to delay it to a future date when they have the money. Both perspectives are honest and acceptible.

Life is not just black and white. We have to accept that there are many "rights".

Do I trust Dr. Mahathir? Yes, I do.

Do I trust Lee HL? Yes, I do . I disagree with him on many of his policies, but I do trust that he is doing what he thinks is right for Singapore.

Tan Kin Lian

Adopt a "give and take" approach

Someone said:
MY has always been quick to play to their own advantage whenever dealing with us. In Dr M's case, he was even willing to give up obvious advantages in order to put obstacles in SG's path. S'poreans should always expect a govt that looks after S'pore 1st and always!

My reply:
During Dr. M's first term as PM (and that stretches many years), I assessed him to be pro-Malaysia and not anti-Singapore).

Although there were big diffierences in view, e.g. water agreement, sale of sand, use of air space), I felt that both sides were trying to outdo each other. If a more "give and take" approach had been adopted, it would have been better.

We now have the chance to take a new approach, and I hope that our current leaders in Singapore can act differntly.

WOTC - Top schools

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should we have "top schools"?

Here are the responses:

48% - All schools should be treated equally and given adequate financial and other resources.
33% - Each school should develop its own strengths in arts, sports,art, academic and other areas.
9% - It encourages students to study hard and get a place in a top school.
9% - It allows the school to bring out the best in top students.

Yes - 18%. No - 82%

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - CPF statement of deceased member

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should CPF give a statement of account to the beneficiaries of a deceased CPF member?

Here are the responses:

58% - The statement should be given to all beneficiaries
30% - The statement should be given to the executor of the will or the administrator of the estate.
9% - No. It could lead to all kinds of disputes
3% - It should be kept confidential

Yes - 92%. No - 12%

See the breakdown of the votes in

Who can you trust?

Someone asked me.

Mr. Tan. Do you trust people whom you do not know? How long does it take for you to trust them. What are the tests that you do before you trust them.

Here is my answer.

I trust people based on their sincerity and honesty. If they make statements on what they intend to do, I will trust them to carry them out.

But my trust is not absoute. I do not trust them with money, except maybe a small amount that I can afford to give away.

I do not trust them with secrets. Anyway, I have few secrets as I intend to be quite open with my beliefs and views.

For example, I have stated quite openly that I do not like the policies that are put out by PM Lee. This is not a secret.

If someone tells me secrets about other people, I do not believe them absolutely. I do not distrust them either. I just accept is as "maybe it is true, but it may not be true".

I do not gossip about other people.

If someone approaches me and tells me that he or she will help work with me towards the common goal, for example, to break the PAP stranglehold on power, I will accept him on his words. I do not worry or prejudge that he might be a mole.

From my observation, my attitude is quite different from most other people in Singapore. They tend to be judgmental. They tend to be distrustful. They tend to classify people into compartments - can be trusted, cannot be trusted.

What are your views?

Tan Kin Lian

Friday, June 15, 2018

WOTC - Expenses for North Korea delegation

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should Singapore pay for the cost of the North Korean delegation at the Summit?

Here are the responses:

68% - We are already paying for the security and hospitality and should not pay this additional expense.
18% - It is a modest sum and is good for our image
11% - America should pay
3% - South Korea should pay

Yes - 18%, No 82%

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Security for heads of states at Summit

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Who should provide security to look after the head of states at the Summit?

Here are the responses:
38% - Our Gurkha mercenaries
31% - Our SAF commandoes
31% - Our regular soldiers.
0% - Our NS men

See the breakdown of the votes in

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Show respect to other people

I often give this advice to other people - do not judge a person.

It is all right to give a view, but we must avoid judging that person.

For example, if someone said "The sky is red", you can say "I think the sky is blue". That is giving a different opinion.

What is judging? For example, "You must be stupid to say the sky is red". "How can you, as a public figure have this kind of opionion?"

When someone passes a judgment, he (or she) presumes that they are qualified to judge. That is quite arrogant.

Some people have bad manners. They pass judgment and insult other people without realizing it. It becomes a habit for them.

I consider these people to be badly brought up by their parents and teachers. It reflects badly on them and their parents and teachers.

The best way to avoid this character flaw is to be respectful of other people and their views. It is all right to give a different view but be respectful of other people's views.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Higher salaries for local nurses

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should we pay higher salaries to encourage locals to be nurses?

Here are the responses:

51% - It will create more employment opportunities for locals.
44% - local nurses can provide better care because they know local languages and customs
2% - It will be too costly
2% - Locals don't want to be nurses.

Yes - 95%, No - 5%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Higher salaries for bus drivers

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should we pay higher salaries to encourage locals to be bus drivers?

Here are the responses:

50% - This will create more employment opportunities for locals
47% - Locals can be better bus drivers as they know the local languages, customs and local places.
3% - I am not prepared to pay higher transport fares

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Duty of the government on creating job opportunities

I consider it to be the duty of a government to make sure that all its citizens are able to get a job that pay adequate wages to meet the cost of living in that country.

Here are the steps that the government can take to meet this duty:

a) Give priority for its citizens to get jobs, before allowing the entry of foreign workers.
b) Ensure that the jobs pay adequate wages so that the citizens are able to take these jobs.
c) Use the public sector to pay adequate wages and let these wages be the benchmark for the private sector.
d) If necessary, provide a subsidy to the private sector employers so that their business can be viable.
e) Provide a short period of relief, say six months, for workers who lose their jobs due to retrenchment or redundancy.

A better strategy is to reduce the cost of living and the cost of doing business, so that the private sector businesses can be viable, without subsidy.

If the government takes on this responsibility, they will be able to find the solution. They cannot have the excuse to say that the creation of jobs depend on the market. The government has a duty to create the suitable economic environment to ensure that this goal can be achieved.

Do you agree?

Tan Kin Lian

Feedback on government policies

Do you have feedback to give to the government on any policy that is not working well? Education? Job? Health care?

Give your feedback here.

Rejected insurance claim

Are you angry that your insurance claim has been rejected? Or the insurance company is taking a long time to approve the claim? Or you have bought a policy that is not what you were told that it would do?

Give your feedback here:

Poor call center

Are you fed up with the long time taken by a call center to answer your call? Have you been kept waiting a long time?

Give your feedback to the organization in

When more people complain, maybe the organization will wake up.

WOTC - Cap on use of Medisave

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd. - Should there be a cap on the use of Medisave?

Here are the responses:

41% - It is better for the government to control the charges from approved hospitals and doctors.
32% - Let the patient use his own savings for all necessary medical expenses.
16% - It is necessary to prevent overcharging by doctors and hospitals.
11% - Medisave should be used to pay all charges from approved facilities without limit.

Yes - 16%, no 84%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Social training for ministers

Dear Mr Tan

A lot of FB post on our Ministers general courtesy behavour eg sit before VIP sit, mobile on table, sitting posture etc

This together with their leadership style shows they lack skills eg a good leader is one who understand and feel the ground.

They stressed a lot for singaporeans to go for retraining.

Should our Ministers themselves go for retraining in social and leadership skills?

Wait. I go for retraining first. I also need it. OK?

I sent this feedback to PM Office.

WOTC - How to spend $2 billion a year

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Which is a better way to spend $2 billion a year

Here are the responses.

89% - Give to families to raise children
8% - Build more MRT and highway
3% - Put up more buildings
0% - Buy more military hardware.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

WOTC - Allowance for raising children

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Will a monthly allowance of $500 for each child until age 16, attract families to have children?

Here are the responses:

44% - It will attract young mothers who are not interested in a career.
29% - It will not be attractive enough.
24% - Most families don't want to have children.
2% - The current baby bonus is better.

Yes - 44%, no 56%.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Monday, June 11, 2018

Be an active citizen

You can post your views and feedback on these platforms:

#HearMeOut - - to give feedback on any organization

Sg Conversation - - to give feedback on any government policy.

Click on Latest - to see the latest feedback given by other people.
Click on Summary - to view the feedback given for each organization or topic.
Be an active citizen. Give our feedback and voice to improve life in Singapore.

WOTC - World Cup 2018

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Who will win World Cup 2018?

Here are the responses:

Another country - 35%
Brazil - 32%
Germany - 21%
Italy - 6%
Russia - 6%

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Employ nurses from India

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should we employ more nurses from India for our hospitals?

Here are the responses:

70% - No. We should increase the salaries and employ local nurses.
22% - No. We are opening the flood gates for more foreigners to work in Singapore.
5% - Yes. We need more nurse.
3 % - Yes. It will keep down the cost of health care.

Yes - 8%, no - 92%.

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Do not discriminate ex-offenders

Ex-offenders, who have served their sentence, should be allowed to work in the public sector without discrimination.

The government should set a good example for the private sector.

If the government continues to discriminate against the ex-offenders, the private sector will certainly follow.

There is the belief that the ex-offender has a character flaw and is likely to repeat the offense. This belief is not justified.

The ex-offender is likely to learn the lesson. Furthermore, the employer is put on notice about the previous offense, and is likely to pay more attention to avoid a repeat of the past incident.

It is a risk work taking, to give a second chance to ex-offenders who have served their sentence.

What is the point of organizing "Yellow Ribbon" projects, when the government does not intend to set a good example?

Tan Kin Lian

Change the law to allow the Will to cover CPF and cooperative society

CPF has a separate nomination procedure. The money in cooperative societies are also subject to nomination.

CPF and cooperative society moneys are not covered under the will.

This was the practice in the old days where most people do not write a will.

Times have changed. Most people now have properties and other assets and write a will to cover them.

But they often overlook the fact that CPF and cooperative society money are excluded under the Will.

They might have submitted a nomination to CPF or the cooperative society many years ago, and have overlooked the need to change the nomination when they get married or have children, or are divorced.

I suggest that the law be changed in the following aspects:

Allow the grantor to state in his Will that the Will will cover the CPF savings and the cooperative society money. If the grantor specifically make this request, it will take over precedence from the nomination that is submitted prior to the writing of the Will.

This will require a change to the law on estate administration and the consequential change to the law on CPF and cooperative society.

This change will simplify the process for most families and will protect them from oversight in updating the nomination.

Tan Kin Lian

Expenses for the Trump Kim summit

Singapore will be spending a lot of money to provide the security and facilities for the Trump Kim Summit.

However, most of the expenses will be "sunk cost", i.e. they are already incurred even if there is no summit. For example, the salaries of the police, soldiers and securities.

These resources are just diverted from their normal duties for the purpose of the summit.

The actual cost (i.e. additional cost) that will be incurred are for the dinners, meeting rooms and hotel bills that are hosted by Singapore. And, don't forget, the air flight and hotel bills of the foreign minister to Pyongyang.

Post your feedback on these platforms

Post our feedback on


Singapore Conversation

You can also read the feedback posted by other users.

These platforms can also be viewed on your mobile phone (no need to download any app) Just click on the above link to launch the browser.

WOTC - Competition in food delivery

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - What are your views about the strong competition in the food delivery business?

Here are the responses:

57% - Competition is good for the market
18% - The government should set the framework for healthy competition.
16% - The public will be taken for a ride
9% - It will be costly and wasteful

Positive - 57%, negative 43%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Business sector view of Lee HL's government

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Is the business sector confident about Lee HL's government

Here re the responses:

46% - Many business leaders find his ministers to be incompetent and inexperienced.
27% - Many business leaders hold a negative view of Lee HL's government.
17% - They are having doubts now, due to many setbacks.
10% - They are confident, as he is business friendly.

Positive - 10%, negative - 90%

See the breakdown of the votes in pie chart in

Johore sttate government wants to cut down the wasted time

The Johor state government is concerned about the time taken by travellers to move from Johore to Singapore and back.…/causeway-johor-bahru-comm…

I hope that the Singapore side is equally concerned.

On my frequent travels, I find that it took longer to clear the Singapore checkpoint, compared to the Malaysian checkpoint. This applies to travel on both directions.

I hope that both governments can work out an arrangement to have clearance at one end only, instead of both ends.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

WOTC - Meeting place for Trump Kim summit

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Where will the Trump Kim summit be held in Singapore?

Here are the responses:

36% - Shangrila Hotel
27% - Sentosa
20% - Istana
16% - Marina Bay Sands

The actual site selected is Sentosa.

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Challenge on Pedra Blanca

asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Why did Malaysia withdraw the challenge on the Pedra Blanca ruling?

Here are the responses:

76% - They have too many priorities to handle
17% - They have a weak legal case
5% - They want to build better relations with Singapore
2% - They want to get a long term loan from Singapore

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Friday, June 08, 2018

Monthly allowance for each child

I had proposed that the state gives a monthly allowance of $500 for each child up to the age of 16 years, subject to a maximum of 3 children per family.

Someone asked me if this benefit will encourage the wrong people to have children - i.e. those who are not able to take care of the children.

My answer is - yes, but this number will be small. The benefit to the majority, who will raise children properly will probably override the negative aspects.

This is a matter of judgment. It is also a matter of trust in human nature.

If the family is financially adequate, the children are likely to be raised properly.

There will be people who do not take care of their children. These people will still produce the children, even without the financial support.

My view is that we should provide this allowance, considering the positive and negative aspects.

Tan Kin Lian

Uber is not disruptive technology

Most people think that Uber is a disruptive technology. It introduces a new way of booking a ride and reducing the cost of the ride.

An economics professor explained that this is not the case. Uber is taking advantage of a loophole in the regulation.

Most governments regulate the taxi service. They imposed rules on licensing and competence of the drivers, the standard and safety of the vehicle, adequate insurance to cover passengers, etc.

Uber (and Grab in Singapore) uses private cars to bypass these regulations. The vehicles does not need to meet the safety standards. The insurance coverage may be inadequate. The drivers do not need to meet the same licensing requirements.

The professor said that taxi fares can drop significantly if the regulations are relaxed to the same standard as for private cars.

So, Uber is not a disruptive technology. It is a way to bypass the regulatory controls.

Uber does bring an unfair competition to taxi drivers. It has caused the earnings of the regular taxi drivers to drop, while creating employment for private hire drivers.

This kind of disruptive market is not good for the taxi service and the livelihood of the taxi drivers. The only party to benefit is Uber (or in our case Grab), as they can take a large commission from the earnings of the drivers by providing the platform for their operation.

Tan Kin Lian

Organized approach towards feedback

Many people like to give their feedback in Facebook. They are able to share their views and get comments from their regular fans.

But these feedback will respond quickly into thin air and be forgotten.

I have built two platforms for the feedback to be followed more permanently.

#HearMeOut -
Sg Conversation -

The feedbacks are arranged by the organization (i.e. government agency or commercial organization) or by the topic.

You can follow the feedback for a selected organization or topic and the response (hopefully) to the feedback.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Replace three experienced ministers

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Do you agree with PM Lee's decision to replace three experienced ministers

Here are the responses:

39% - I disagree. The new ministers are not capable and experienced.
29% - I agree. The three replaced ministers were not performing well.
18% - I agree. We need new blood.
13% - I disagree. We need experienced ministers in the government.

Agree 47%, disagree 53%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Stress in schools

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - How can the stress be removed from education?

Here are the responses:

43% - Broaden the syllabus away from academic subjects.
34% - Change examination to pass/fail instead of grades.
11% - Educate parents not to pressuer the children.
11% - Remove the competition for scholarships

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Top schools

Do you want to send your child to a "top school"? This is where the problem starts. Why should we have "top schools"? Why can't we treat all schools equally?

See my views in Singapore Conversation.

Deceased CPF member

I have given my views about how CPF should respond to the request of the beneficiaries for information relating to the recent transactions of a deceased member.

It is submitted to the Singapore Conversation platform.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Singapore Conversation


The free ride

I want to explain the concept of "free ride".

Suppose a condo wish to apply for a licence to operate a shuttle bus. The licence is given on condition that a fare of $1 be charged for the ride but any resident should be allowed to take the bus, even if they do not wish to pay the fare, i.e. have a "free ride".

What would happen?

Some residents will enjoy the "free ride" but to cost of running the shuttle service has to pay by the other residents.

It is obvious that this arrangement is unfair to the paying residents and will not be workable.

This is what happens with trade unions.

Workers have to pay a fee to join a trade union. The union negotiate with the employer for better terms of employment. The employer provides the negotiated term to all workers, including the non-unionised members.

Some people decide not to join the union to avoid paying the union fees and to enjoy the benefit of the work done by the union.

This is unfair to the union members, but most governmens tolerate this "free ride" flaw to weaken the trade union.

There are other examples of "free rides" in our society. Can you identify them?

WOTC - Service charge for Grab Hitch

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Is it acceptable for Grab to charge a fee of 10% for using its GrabHitch platform

Here are the responses:
27% - I will move to another platform
25% - It is a fair charge for the service provided
25% - I will boycott this service
23% - I expect Grab to raise the service at a later date

For - 25%, against - 75%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart at

WOTC - CareShield Life

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should CareShield Life be made compulsory?

Here are the responses:
35% - It should be made optional
28% - It should be merged into Medishield Life
28% - It should be provided by the government through tax revenue
9% - It is necessary to be compulsory to provide a large pool.

For - 9%, against 91%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Aztech Group

Someone posted in #HearMeOut ( his anger at the delisting of Aztech Group.

I looked at the share price of Aztech. It dropped from $1 to $0.40 over a period of 6 months prior to its delisting in Feb 2017.

In August 2017, Aztech Group embarked on a share reduction exercise and returned $0.42 per share to the participating shareholders. Details are in this letter.…/AztechGroupLtd_CircularDated0…

The letter stated that the share had been trading at a discount to its NAV (net asset value) prior to the delisting.

Aztech holdings has a history of 30 years. It is quite sad to see that the share price had been performing poorly, although the business seemed to be profitable.

I wonder if this company is suffering from the "Singapore disease" - high cost of doing business, lack of market, etc. This disease seem to be afflicting most small companies in Singapore.

It must be a big struggle for them.

WOTC - High Speed Rail

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Was the High Speed Rail (now cancelled by Malaysia) good for Singapore?

Here are the responses:

42% - The High Speed Rail seem to be not feasible and not necessary for both countries.

33% - It is good for Singapore to have a High Speed Rail to Kuala Lumpur and other cities in Malaysia

13% - The High Speed Rail will cause a lot of infrastructure spending and disruption in Singapore.

11% - It is better for Singapore not to be involved in this project.

For HSR - 33%; Against - 67%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Rapid Transit Link

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should the Rapid Transit System between Singapore and Johor Bahru proceed?

Here are the responses:

38% - It is good for both Singapore and Malaysia

31% - It will reduce the travel time for workers and visitors

25% - It should be cancelled

6% - It is economically viable

For the RTS - 75%, against - 25%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Reckless spending on infrastructure

Here are the relevant figures to compare the North South Line and the Downtown Line. I took it from the speech by the Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan 14 Nov 2017.

I asked the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to make a comparison between the two lines and highlight the differences. Thirty years separate these two lines and some of the differences are stark, to be expected.

First, the first phase of the North-South Line, cost us around $2.7 billion to build, or $4.4 billion in today's dollars. The Downtown Line cost us close to $21 billion.

The cost per kilometre has gone up from $160 million to $490 million. Each kilometre will therefore cost half a billion dollars - partly due to technology and partly due to inflation.

Second, the North-South Line is about 40 per cent underground while the Downtown Line is completely underground.

Third, the North-South Line has 26 stations, of which eight, or 30 per cent are interchange stations. The Downtown Line has 34 stations, of which 11, or 32 per cent are interchange stations.

Here is my analysis.
The number of stations increased by 30%. All the stations of the Downtown Line are underground.

Allowing for these two factors, I consider that the cost of the Downtown Line should be 2.5 times of the North South Line, i.e. $4.4 X 2.5 = $11 billion.

But we are paying $21 billion for the Downtown Line. It seemed that we are paying 2 times of what it should be, allowing for the points raised by the minister.

I fear that we are spending money on infrastructure quite recklessly. We are paying much more than we should be.

Tan Kin Lian

A balanced approach towards globalisation

I will be attending an ISEAS seminar on the regional trade blocs, i.e. CPTPP and RCEP.

I intend to ask this question to the presenter:

TKL - Mr. Speaker. In your talk, you assumed that free trade and globalisation is good for the world. But we should also consider the negative aspects of globalisation that led to stagnant wages, unemployment, and large inequality in income and wealth?

This has caused a strong reaction and led to the election of Donald Trump in America and the big swing towards Labor in the UK.

Should economists now focus on the negative aspect of globalisation and look for a new arrangement that beneft all the stake holders and not just the big corporations?

WOTC - Goals for people of Singapore

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Which goal is best for the people of Singapore

Here are the responses:

43% - Make the government listen and be accountable
30% - Abolish GST
21% - Priority of jobs for Singaporeans
6% - Clean up HDB/ CPF mess

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Policy changei n CPF/HDB

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Which policy change do you like to see with CPF/ HDB?

Here are the responses:

55% - Pay higher interest on CPF savings
22% - Allow CPF to be used to buy property with at least 30 years of remaining lease
16% - Reduce CPF contribution should that workers can rent or buy property freely
6% - Allow HDB leases to be extended by 5 or 10 years on expirty.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Review the PDPA Act

I suggest that we review the law on Data Protection & Privacy.

The present law requires organizations to put a message in their call centers that all conversations will be recorded.

This is a really tiresome message. I have heard it several thousand times.

It is time to remove this requirement. The recording can be understood to be a standard practice.

However, there should be limits set on how organizations can use the data.

It is unreasonable to ask the public to give their consent. They have no choice.

Participate in the #HearMeOut platform

I created the platform #HearMeOut for the public to give feedback on government agencies and commercial organizations.

The feedback are on positive and negative aspects of their operations and suggestions to improve their operations and service to the public and customers.

It is an alternative platform to REACH. Many people have commented that REACH does not act on the complaints. They submitted the complaints to government agencies and there was no response.

The #HearMeOut platform operates differently. The feedback for each organization is available for the public to view. The relevant organization can also view the feedback.

If they do not act on the feedback, they will get a bad reputation. It will be known to the public. This will give them the motivation to act on the feedback or give a response. They can reply to the same platform.

The platform can be accessed at

I urge the public to be active in using this platform. By your participation, we can make the government and commercial organizations act to improve their opertions and service.

Tan Kin Lian

Limits on use of Medisave

The government sets limits on the use of Medisave for outpatient treatment for cancer and other critical illness.

I suggest that the limit should be removed for treatment in a public hospital or other approved facility.

In giving approval, the government should negotiate with the facility on the charges to be imposed for each treatment.

This approach will relieve the financial burden on the patient and also set control over the charges.

I do not like the cap that is set by the government on the use of Medisave as the patient does not have any choice but to foot the difference.

Tan Kin Lian

Provide adequate wage to reduce inequality

The best way to reduce inequality is to pay adequate wages to all workers, regardless of occupation.

The adequate wage should be set at a level that is commensurate with the cost of living.

It is usually called the "minimum wage".

In America, there is a move to set the minimum wage at UD$15 an hour, or SGD 18.

The cost of living in Singapore is higher than in America. Our current wage of $6 an hour is grossly inadequate. It should be increased.

If all workers can earn a decent living wage, they can afford to raise a family and provide for the cost of educating their children.

There are enough jobs in Singapore for citizens. We should make sure that they are employed first, before employing foreigners.

Citizens do not take up some kinds of jobs because the pay is inadequate. We should raised the wages for these jobs so that they ar adequate to attract citizens. We should not employ foreigners to take up jobs that can and should be done by citizens.

Tan Kin Lian

Avoid unhealthy competition in schools

Let us stop the unhealthy competition in schools to get the best results and to give a huge monetary reward (i.e. scholarship and a lucrative government job to scholars) for the top students.

Instead, the focus on education should be to build a person who is literate, numerate, have social skills and good character.

We should set a syllabus that builds this goal and allow time for the children to enjoy learning, to develop innovation and creativity through discovery and enjoy their childhood and school life and make friends.

We still want the students to learn and pass the examinations, but the hurdle should be set at a moderate level, and not an exceedingly high level.

Tan Kin Lian

Monday, June 04, 2018

Speak out - give your feedback

Many people accept all kinds of bad treatment from the government or businesses, without lodging a strong protest.

My anger at the verification of my pledge to the Singapore Heart Foundation is an example of this bad treatment. Even when I make a pledge to donate to charity, I get the "officious treatment".

There are many examples of inconsiderate practices. The poor signage in MRT stations is another example.

Don't worry. There is a place for you to lodge your feedback. You can do it here:

Get into the habit of speaking out against bad practices and inconsiderate behavior. When more people speak out, the government agencies and business organizations will have to pay attention.

If you voice the feedback in Facebook, it will disappear after a few days. If you voice it in the #HearMeOut platform, it will stay there for a long time.

The government agency or business organization cannot hope that people will forget about your "negative feedback".

Tan Kin Lian

Council of Elders

If a new government is elected in Singapore and the government appoint a Council of Elders to advice the inexperienced ministers, this is how the council will work.

1. The council will comprise of people who are older and have experience in their respective fields. For example, they could be former civil servants and business leaders or government ministers.

2. The ministers can seek the views of the council. The council can also ask questions on the policy decisions of the ministers. The exchange of views will ensure that the policy decisions are well though out.

3. The final decision will be made by the minister, but their interaction with the council will ensure that their proposals are well thought through. This process also ensures that there is transparency in the decision making.

4. The council can form sub-committees to deal with different aspects of the government policies.

5. This process is different from the approval by the elected president or the council of presidential advisers. My proposed council will help to study the policy decisions as they are being formulated. It is different from giving the approval of the final decisions.

Please share your views.

WOTC - Council of Elders for Singapore

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd: Should Singapore appoint a Council of Elders to advise the ministers?

Here are the responses:
49% - The ministers will benefit from the advice of the more experienced elders.
28% - We need the ministers to act boldly to make changes to existing policies
14% - The elders are out of date and will not be useful
9% - The decisions of the ministers will be more acceptable to the public

Yes - 58%, No - 42%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Cancellation of High Speed Rail

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - If Malaysia wishes to cancel the High Speed Rail, what should Singapore do?

Here are the responses:

56% - Suggest that the project be delayed by 10 years and review at that time.
24% - Waive the compensation as a gesture of goodwill
12% - Insist on compensation as provided in the agreement
8% - Offer to fund the project as it cost less than 1 MRT line in Singapore

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Patient on life support system

Twp parents of children who are critically ill refused to give permission to turn off the life support system, resulting in large financial expense for themselves and for the state.

What can be done about this situation? Who should bear the expenses? Can the hospital turn off the life support system if the parents cannot pay the bills?

We do not want money to be the key determinent of this kind of decisions. What other approach can be taken?

Oftentimes the parents or family members cannot take this decision. It is too hard for them. Somebody must take the decision on their behalf.

I suggest the following approach. The parents or family members have a say up to one year. Beyond that date, the state or hospital will have a say. The law can be passed to allow the hospital to determine if the patient should continue to be on life support system.

What are your views?

Challenges for Singapore Exchange

I met a remisier. He told me that he had left the industry. The volume for trading was too low. His commission earnings was miserable. Many other remisiers had left.

The remisier said that there are too many restrictions in the Singapore exchange.

I told him that many investors lost money on the S chips from China. They were badly managed.

The problem was that the regulation on the S chips were too loose. He agreed.

We seem to have the wrong approach towards regulation. We are too loose in some areas and too strict in other areas. We seem to be contradictory.

Recently, someone decided to list her company in Hong Kong. They have a more active market. The Singapore market is poor.

Wrong government policies

I asked a few people - what is wrong with the policies pursued by the current government?

Here are the key findings:

1. Neo liberal policies. Focus on business to the detriment of the welfare of ordinary people. Wide income gap. Depressed wages and high cost of living.

2. Appointing wrong people to head the government. People without experience, incompetent, arrogant.

3. Free flow of foreigners into Singapore. Depress wages. Cause locals to be retrenched.

4. Don't listen to the people. They find solutions in their ivory tower. Impractical. Not workable.

Do you agree?

WOTC - Trump Kim Summit

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd a week ago - Will the Trump - Kim summit be held in Singapore on 12 June 2018?

Here are the responses:

47% - Yes. Both sides are keen to hold it here
26% - No. It will be held at a later date
21% - No. The summit will not be held at all.
7% - No. It will be held at another place.

Yes - 47%; no- 53%.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Will Go Jek do well in Singapore

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Will Go Jek do well in Singapore?

Here are the responses:

39% - They will succeed and be an active competitor to Grab
31% - They will fail, like Uber
22% - They will struggle and Grab will buy them over
8% - They will change their mind and not come into Singapore

Yes - 39%; no- 61%

See the breakdown of the votes in

Employ locals as nurses

Do we want more nurses from India to work in our hospitals? Should we get locals to be nurses?

In this video extract, I explain how we can get more locals to work as nurses.

You can watch the full speech in

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Allow young people to buy older HDB flats

In this extract, I explain why we should allow young people to buy older flats.

You can watch the full discussion on video here:

WOTC - Financial woes of 1 MDB

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should the new finance minister of Malaysia reveal the extent of insolvency of 1MDB?

Here are the responses:

71% - He should be transparent about it
21% - The foreign investors already know about their problem. They will not be worried about the revelations.
8% - He should not reveal too much at this stage as it would frighten off the foreign investors.

Postive 92%; negative 8%.

See the breakdown of the votes and the pie chart at

WOTC - What will happen to Hyflux?

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - What will happen to Hyflux?

Here are the responses:

48% - It reflects another failure for Singapore.
28% - It will be bought over by new investors, to the detriment of the existing shareholders and bond holders.
16% - It will be able to survive the existing crisis and the share price will recover.
8% - It will disappear from the corporate scene in Singapore

Positive - 18%; negative 84%.

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Is SMRT creating this mess?

A lady wrote an email to tell me about the mess that is created by e-scooters in a MRT station. She suspected that it was a subsidiary of SMRT. Why can't SMRT focus on solving the train service?

I asked her to write a post in the Feedback website. She did. It was an excellent post.

You can read her post in


Friday, June 01, 2018

Improve the birth rate

Q - Kin Lian, I like to hear your suggestions about improving the birth rate in Singapore. The birth rate has been dropping over the past decades. We now have one of the lowest birth rate in the world.

TKL - Yes. This has been a troubling issue for the government and for the future of Singapore.

Q - Why is our birth rate so low?

TKL - the key factors are the high cost of living and the uncertainty of jobs. Many people find it difficult to get married and to start a family. They are not sure that they can afford to raise a child. In fact, they are not sure that they can afford to get married.

Q - But the government has been giving incentives to parents through the various baby packages over the years. Why are these packages not working? I understand that they are quite generous.

TKL - I think the packages are too complicated. Many people don’t know what they can get from the packages, or maybe they know and find that the packages are not attractive enough.

Q - What would you do?

TKL - I would make it simple for the parents. If I were in charge as the government, I would give each mother a monthly allowance of $500 for each child up to the maximum of 3 children, until the child reaches age of 16.

Q - Would this be attractive enough? I know of many working women who will find it not attractive to give up a career for this allowance.

TKL - I agree. I am targeting a different group of mothers - those who have not started work.

In the past, many women do not work. They accepted that their role is to look after the home and raised children. This was the traditional family.

Q - But women want to work now. They like to have career like men. They would not be content with being a homemaker.

TKL - I agree with your observation. Maybe half or two thirds of the women would opt for a career. But some girls might opt to be a homemaker and raise a family, provided that the financial position allows them to do so. If they can get a monthly allowance of $500 for each child, up to a maximum of 3 children, it may attract girls who prefer the traditional role.

Furthermore, this may attract young mothers to get married and start their family early. Women are more productive in their twenties. They can produce babies more easily compared to those in their thirties or forties.

Q - I think that this is a good idea. But will it be too costly?

TKL - I have done the calculation. If we produce 40,000 babies in a year, the cost in the first year will be $240 million. But this will be cumulative, as another 40,000 babies will be born each year. At the end of 16 years, the cost will be $3.8 billion. It will then remain in a steady stage.

Q - Yes. $3.8 billion is a lot of money. But we must offset it with the cost of the baby packages and other money that are being spend on the existing schemes that do not seem to work.

TKL - I agree. I make a guess that after offsetting the cost of the current incentives, the additional cost in 16 years time will be $2 billion a year. But this would be an acceptable sum, considering the future of our country.

Q - Is there a concern that the low income people will be the ones that will benefit from this scheme, and the higher income may not be interested?

TKL - This may be the outcome, but we should welcome it. If we can help the lower income families to get a steady source of income, they can look after their children better and raise them to be more productive citizens. It will be a good way to reduce the inequality in the country.

Q - Should this allowance be given for working mothers as well?

TKL - Yes. We should not try to save money by writing complicated rules. Every citizen mother should be given this allowance. Maybe, the father might want to stay at home to be the home maker.

Q - What should the women do when they children have to to school. Will they be able to get a job in the working world?

TKL - Yes. they will be many jobs available for women with experience in household chores and raising children. They can work in child care centers, in eating outlets and even in senior care facilities.
Some may choose to run an ecommerce business or do home based work. There are many opportunities available for people who want to work from home. They have the choice of woringin during their free hours. There are many flexible jobs that pay well.

They can also continue their education by attending part time course or online courses. The opportunities are plentiful.

Q - Do other countries have a similar scheme?

TKL - Many countries provide family allowance to help the mother to raise their children. Some may be more generous than others. We have a special problem in Singapore. With the lowest birth rate in the world, we need to address our challenges head on.

Q - Some people said that this problem is due to the urban lifestyle. Many cities have low birth rates as well. However, they have a rural population with a higher birth rate to balance out the cities.

TKL - That is right. Singapore does not have a rural population, so we face the challenge of the low birth rate in cities. But the underlying problem is the cost of living and the uncertainty of jobs. If we can address the cost of living by giving an allowance to the mother to raise the children, it might be a great help.

Q - What about other issues such as child care facilities, preschool facilities, and others?

TKL - We have to provide them. But if the mothers have an adequate allowance, they will be able to afford these additional cost better. As the mothers are likely to stay at home, the demand for child care facilities may be lower.

TKL - Let me make a summary of the key aspects of my proposal

a. Provide a monthly allowance of $500 for each child (up to a maximum of 3 children) to the mother, until the child reaches age 16.

b. This will attract some women to opt to be home makers, instead of pursuing a diploma or degree.

c. They will get experience in looking after children and house work; later, they can work in the care or food sectors.

Tan Kin Lian

Singapore Conversation - online website

I am pleased to announce the soft launch of a new website called "Singapore Conversation".

The link is

This website allows you to give your feedback and contribute your views on government policies that need to be reviewed.

The latest feedback can be viewed here. You select any topic to view the feedback for that topic.

The aim of this website is to allow the policy makers to receive the feedback and consider them when they review their policies. The public can also read these feedback.

Please contribute actively to this website. Make it a supplement to the official "Singapore Conversation" process led by the 4G leaders.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Alow employees to opt out of contributing to CPF

I suggest that employee contribution to CPF should be optional. Currently, the employees are forced to contribute 20% of salary to the CPF.

They can use the saving to buy a new HDB flat or a resale flat with more than 60 years of lease. This can be too expensive for them.

If they are given the option to opt out of contributing to CPF, they can use the money to buy a resale flat of shorter lease, or to rent a flat.

I also suggest that the government should make more HDB flats available for rental. These flats can be partly subsidized, similar to the grant given to first time buyers of new flats. Maybe, the subsidy should be 20%.

If young people are allowed to rent partly subsided flats, they may be able to get married earlier and have children.

Remove stress in education

The minister for education Ong Ye Kung said that society can afford to loose up more with regard to the education system.

I have heard this comment for the past two decades. When Lee HL became prime minister, he said that we should "study less, learn more".

Slogans are good. But do they achieve the results?

We must understand the root cause of the problem - why are students studying so hard? Why are parents spending hundreds of dollars each month, which they can hardly afford to, to provide private tuition for their children?

The answer is - the competition in the school, to get to the top schools and win the scholarship that will ensure a bright future for the children.

If we want to remove the stress, we have to remove this unhealthy competition. Let the children enjoy education and their childhood.

How? Remove the competition for top grades. Remove the competition to win the scholarships.

The aim of the education system should be to educate the young in how to cope with life, how to learn, how to deal with other people. Of course, we still want them to be literate and numerate.

The examination should be just pass or fail. We can set the examination so that with a fair amount of effort and without private tuition, 90% will pass. Forget about award scholarships to the top students.

Let us identify our future leaders in the workplace and not in school.

Tan Kin Lian

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Snapshot and projected claim rate

n this article, the writer pointed out that 33% of people above age 65 are disabled in Canada and 35% are disabled in America.

The ministry of health Singapore said that the projected claim rate in Singapore is 50%…/moh-says-50-of-singapor…/

Is the Singapore figure over projected?

I can explain the difference between these three figures. The percentage for Canada and America is based the population now, where the proportion of the very old is small. I will refer to this as the snapshot.

The figure for Singapore is calculated by looking at the current population and projecting them over the future years until all of them have passed away. I refer to this figure as the projected figure.

This method will show a higher percentage for the projected figure compared to the snapshot that is used in Canada and USA.

I have assumed that the definition of disability is the same. In Singapore, the definition is inability to perform at least three activities of daily living. 

Combine MediShield Life and CareShield Life

I suggest that long term care, which is covered under CareShield Life could be integrated into MediSheild Life, so that we only deal with one scheme, rather than two separate schemes.

The argument in favor of a separate scheme to cover long term care is that the cost is highest at an advanced age, and there is a need for pre-funding of the cost.

The same argument could be made for the hospital and outpatient care that is covered under Medishield. If you look at the premium rate for Medishield, it does increase sharply at the advanced age.

It should be possible to provide the benefit for long term care under Medishield Life. There is no need for a separate scheme.

There is already an element of pre-funding under Medishield Life. The premium paid at the younger ages are set to be higher than the actual cost. This would leave a surplus to reduce the premium rate at the older ages.

This mechanism could be used to cover the long term care as well.

There is already pre-funding under Eldershield. The value of the pre-funding scheme can be refunded into the policyholder's Medisave account.

Tan Kin Lian

Premium and claim under Eldershield

Mr. Tan
Why is there a low payout in claims compared to premiums received under Eldershield?
The health minister said that a total of $2.6 billion was collected in premium and the claim paid out was $100 million since 2002.…/compulsory-eldershield-…/

Under Eldershield, the premium is paid up to age 65 and cover is provided for the whole of life.
Most of the claims are likely to occur after age 80.
So, we should not compare the premium vs claim on a year to year basis.
This is the same as whole life policy - the premiums are paid now, but the death occurs at a future date.
If you compare the premium and claim under a whole life policy, you will also see a low payout rate each year, because most of the premium are for payment in the future.
Although the claims will be paid in the future, it is quite likely that the premium paid for Eldershield is much higher than the expected future claim.
The actuary who calculated the premium probably assumed claim rate that are quite conservative, and the actual claim are lower than assumed.

Tan Kin Lian

Key appointment in civil service

Under the current system, key appointments in the civil service are made on the recommendation of the prime minister and approved by the elected president acting on the advice of the presidential council.

Malaysia has decided that the key appointments be vetted by Parliament.

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Who should decide on key appointments into the civil service?

Here are the responses:

77% - An independent commission.
11% - The elected president and the council of advisers
11% - Parliament
2% - The prime minister and his cabinet.

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Award of large contracts

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - How should the government award large contracts?

Here are the responses:

33% - Prepare a budget for the project based on expert advice and comparables.
29% - Award to pre-qualified contractors with a good track record
25% - Rely on open tender
13% - Pay more to get better quality and reliability

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


I am pleased to announce the soft launch of the website called #HearMeOut.

This website is for public to submit feedback (negative, compliment, suggestion) on a specific organization.

You can also view the feedbacks on any specific organization.

I hope that this website is used actively and that the relevant organizations will act on the feedback.

Here is the link to the website:

Please contribute the feedbacks actively and encourage other people to do so.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Be frugal in spending public money

An important quality of a government is to spend public money carefully.

They have to be frugal. They have to ensure that the money spent is necessary and produce valuable result.

If they are frugal, they will not have to raise heavy tax and other revenues that have to be borne by the citizens.

The first generation of leaders of Singapore has this frugal habit. By being frugal they were able to develop Singapore and remain competitive.

The current generation of leaders have lost this habit. They spend money wastefully. They spend billions of dollars here and there on questionable projects.

They spend a lot of money on posh buildings, expensive computer systems and other luxuries. They forgot that the money has to be taken from workers who earn low pay through GST and other taxes.

They pay high salaries for themselves which are out of proportion to the average income of the workers.

Due to the profligate spending, we are now the most costly city in the world. We are also highly uncompetitive in many areas.

What is the best way to wake up this government and restore them to the habit of frugality? One way is to change the government. But is there any other way?

Tan Kin Lian

Hike GST to 9%

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Why does PM Lee insists on hiking GST to 9% in a few years time?

Here are the responses.

54% - He needs the money to spend
39% - He is foolish and stubborn
7% - He will provide adequate relief to take care of the low income people.

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Problems faced by SMEs

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Which is the most serious problem faced by SME?

Here are the responses:

54% - High rental
18% - Finance and cash flow
16% - Complying with government regulations
12% - High cost of workers

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Meeting between PM Lee and Dr. Mahathir

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Did the meeting between PM Lee and Dr. Mahathir on 19 May went well?

Here are the responses.

60% - It was a short meeting which did not produce much result.
24% - Dr. Mahathir did not show much respect for PM Lee
15% - It should set the direction for better relations between the two governments.

84% of the respondents are disappointed with the outcome; 15% are positive.

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Next general election in Singapore

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Which issue will have most impact at the next general election?

Here are the responses:

44% - Abolish GST
19% - Listen more to the views of the people
19% - Be frugal in public spending; reduce minister's salary
17% - Priority for citizens in getting jobs

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Better to cancel the High Speed Rail project

I am now in favor of cancelling the High Speed Rail (HSR) project.

It is a bad project.

It involves spending a of money to build the infrastructure within Singapore to link to Jurong East. There will also be a lot of disruption during the construction work. We are also allowing travellers to pass through a long stretch of Singapore before they reach the checkpoint.

The alternative is a better approach. We focus on the Rapid Transit System (RTS) linking Singapore to Johor Bahru. There is a common checkpoint clearance at both ends. Travellers need to clear through only one checkpoint.

After reaching the JB end, it is a short walk to the KTM station at Johor Bahru. The current train service is rather slow, but Malaysia can upgrade it to travel at a much higher speed. We can leave it to Malaysia to work on their end.

If the train speed can be increased from the current speed 60 kph to 100 kph, it will take only 3.5 hours to reach Kuala Lumpur. This is acceptable. It is about the same time to travel by air (including the security checks prior to boarding).

If Malaysia decide to implement a High Speed Rail at a future date, it will be their decision. Singaporeans can also join the train at Johor Bahru. They can travel by MRT to connect to the RTS and then move to the KTM station.

It is just as convenient as taking the HSR from Jurong East.

Tan Kin Lian

How can government help SME

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - How can the government help SME?

Here are the responses:

34% - Award more business to SMEs
25% - Reduce the burden of complying with government regulations.
23% - Help them to get financing at low cost
19% - Give subsidy to help them to cope with rental and wage cost.

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart at

Rebuild relations with Malaysia

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - How can Singapore rebuild relations with the new government in Malaysia?

Here are the responses:

40% - Delay the High Speed Rail due to their financing problem.
38% - Speed up clearance at the checkpoint
13% - Reduce charges for Malaysian vehicles entering Singapore
9% - Build the crooked bridge between Singapore and Johor.

See the breakdown of the votes and the pie chart in

Differentiate between reasonable and excessive increase

When there is an increase in charges and fees, many people complained loudly in the social media.

We have to differentiate between a modest increase, in line with the cost of living, and an excessive increase.

Town councils have to increase their fees because the cost of labor and expenses have gone up. If the increase is in line with the cost of living, it should be acceptable.

The same consideration applies to fares for public transport.

We can complain if the increase is excessive, or if the town council or other agency is wasteful in their spending.

Let us be more sensible when we make our complaint, OK?

An alterantive to the High Speed Rail

An alternative to the High Speed Rail.

I wish to suggest an alternative to the High Speed Rail (HSR)

The HSR has two advantages:

a) Faster travelling time - i.e. 90 minutes between the two cities.
b) Joint checkpoint clearance.

An alternative is for Malaysia to upgrade the track for the existing rail to increase the speed. It can reduce the travel time by half - from 6 to 3 hours. That would be acceptable.

We can also introduce checkpoint clearance in Johor Bahru. A MRT line can go straight to this checkpoint without clearing Singapore checkpoint. The JB checkpoint will connect to both Singapore and Malaysia authorities.

The joint clearance at the new JB checkpoint can serve the train passengers as well as the other visitors to Malaysia. It will reduce the hassle of passing through two checkpoints.

This arrangement will avoid having the HSR coming all the way to Jurong East. We do not need to spend too much money on infrastructure and to ensure security within Singapore.

I hope that both governments have the vision to implement this new approach.

Tan Kin Lian

High Speed Rail

Malaysia has to pay a large compensation to Singapore if the High Speed Rail is cancelled.…/malaysia-to-look-at-how-to-l…

I suggest, as a gesture of goodwill to the new government in Malaysia, that Singapore agree to delay the implementation date of the HSR by up to 10 years. This will allow the Malaysia government to avoid a heavy expenditure at the current time, when their financial position is weak.

Tan Kin Lian

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