Saturday, July 16, 2016

Major nations led by women

The major nations may soon be led by women

Germany - Angela Merkel
Britain - Theresa May
USA - Hillary Clinton ??
China - ???
Taiwan - Tsai Ing-wen

Waiting time for green pedestrian light

I arrived at the pedestrian crossing at 6.30 pm.  The pedestrian light had just changed from green to red. I missed it by a few seconds.

I pressed for the green light again. I had expected to wait for 1 minute or longer as the light had just changed.

To my surprise, the green light came on in 30 seconds. This is a busy hour for the vehicle traffic, so this short interval was a surprise for me.

On previous occasions, I had waited for 1 to 2 minute for the green pedestrian light to appear late at night, when the vehicle traffic was light.

What is the algorithm used by the Land Transport Authority to determine the time for the green pedestrian light to appear? It does not seem to follow a "common sense" logic.

A sensible algorithm would be:
 - during busy hours, wait for 1 minute
 - during off peak hours, wait for 30 seconds.

Another sensible algorithm would be:
 - wait for 30 seconds, if the previous change was more than 1 minute away.
 - wait for 1 minute if the previous change was less than 1 minute away.

Perhaps the transport minister would kindly ask the Land Transport Authority to review the algorithm that they are not using. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Just follow SOP, okay?

I took bus 70 and changed to bus 162 at Yio Chu Kang MRT station. I arrived a few secons late and bus 162 had left the stop. It stopped 5m at the traffic light.

I signalled to the bus driver that I wanted to board the bus.

He remembered his SOP - do not allow anybody to board the bus after it left the stop. No ifs, no buts. Just follow orders. No exception. if you make any exception and an accident happens, you lose your job. You might even go to jail.

If you follow SOP, you are safe. Don't care about the convenience of the passenger. Do not exercise any discretion, okay?

What happened?

He thought about his SOP and opened the door for me to board. The red light took 1 more minute before it turned green. He helped me to save 12 minutes of waiting time.

Thank you bus driver, for using your discretion and common sense.

A corrupt government

The American constitution was designed by the founders to ensure that power is shared by many people in different parts of the government on the principle of "checks and balances". This concept has turned out to be a nightmare. The government is grid-locked. Nothing can be decided unless there is "compromise". In many cases, the compromise is achieved through some form of "corruption".

The legislator will vote for the bill if he or his constituency gets some benefit. Or the people in the executive government will take some executive decisions if somebody that they like is benefited in some way. In some cases, the benefit is given in some hideous way and a secret way to the people who make the decision.

This is how America, in spite of being a democracy, has evolved into a corrupt form of government. To make matters worse, the corruption has now gone to the next level, where the people with the money can make large donations to fund the election of their legislators, presidents and governors who will make decisions favorable to their donors.

The system in other countries is not working as well. In many of these countries, the power is concentrated within a small number of strong leaders. They make most of the big decisions. The other people in the government are "yes-men".

The big decisions were made in a close circle, within the leader or his family or a small circle of cronies. The public does not know what how the decisions were made and who really benefited from the decisions. Usually, some members of the families or the close circles of cronies benefited most from the decisions. The people pay the price.

There is lack of transparency. The media is controlled and is not able to expose the hidden corruption.

Both extremes are bad. We need people in government who have high ethical principles and have the passion to serve the people, and not for their personal greed and personal gain.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Will the minister come out of hiding?

I took bus 163 after 7 pm. It was dark. I could not see the landmark outside.

I was reminded about our minister in hiding. I am referring to our transport minister. He was quite communicative in the previous two ministries. After moving to transport, he had been rather quiet for many months.

He and his Land Transport Authority decided to keep quiet about the hairline cracks in the MRT trains, rather than notify the commuters. The purpose was "to prevent unnecessary panic".

He and his LTA also chose to ignore many suggestions that I had put forward over the past years for our buses to have a digital display or voice announcement of the next bus stop.

They felt that this was not necessary as the commuters had the uncanny ability to know all the landmarks along the journey, even during the dark night.

Perhaps the minister in hiding should try taking the bus at night, without his encourage of assistants to guide him every step of the way.

Waited for the second bus 163

My mobile app indicated that Bus 163 would arrive at Thomson Plaza in 12 and 14 minutes. The first bus arrived at around 12 minutes and was full. Most of the waiting passengers boarded the bus. I decided to wait for the second bus.

The second bus arrived a few minutes later and was half empty.I could have a seat and avoid the crowd.

It makes sense to wait a few minutes longer. And thanks to the LTA app that shows the time of the arriving bus.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

DBS Bank allow crooks to withdraw a large sum of money

Hi Mr Tan,

This is another example where no numbers of layer of security token could prevent such "scams". Case in question, has the victim been able to think out of the box under stressed situation? did our supposedly safe environment gives the victim the trust to authority without the need to doubt any further? would the victim have doubts or dare question authorities or banks if she received calls posing as such? Another very sad case.

I am really surprised that DBS Bank could allow the crooks to withdraw $70,000 from the credit card. Something is wrong. Usually, any payment under a credit card has to be approved by the card holder before payment is made to the othe party. 

Land Transport Authority should have reported earlier

Transport Minister has now issued a statement to explain the delay in disclosure of the hardline cracks in the MRT trains. The Land Transport Authority should have disclosed it much earlier, rather than wait for the news to be reported from the Hong Kong media. By hiding the fact for some time, it has caused the public to distruct the government.…/going-public…/2950576.html…

Bernie Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton

Sisters and Brothers,
I am writing you today to express my deep pride in the movement – the political revolution – you and I have created together over the last 15 months. When we began this historic campaign, we were considered fringe players by the political, economic and media establishment. Well, we proved them wrong.
We showed that the American people support a bold, progressive agenda that takes on the billionaire class, that fights for racial, social, economic and environmental justice and that seeks to create a government that works for all of us and not just the big campaign donors.
We mobilized over 13 million voters across the country. We won 23 Democratic primary and caucus contests. We had literally hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the country. And we showed – in a way that can change politics in America forever – that you can run a competitive national grassroots campaign without begging millionaires and billionaires for campaign contributions.
Most importantly, we elevated the critical issues facing our country – issues the establishment has pushed under the rug for too long. We focused attention on the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in this country and the importance of breaking up the large banks who brought our economy to the brink of collapse. We exposed our horrendous trade policies, our broken criminal justice system, and our people's lack of access to affordable health care and higher education. We fought aggressively to address the crisis of climate change, the need for real comprehensive immigration reform, the importance of developing a foreign policy that values diplomacy over war, and so much more.
We have shown throughout this election that these are issues that are important to voters and that progressive solutions energize people in the fight for real change. What we have accomplished so far is historic – but our work is far from over.
This movement of ours – this political revolution – must continue. We cannot let all of the momentum we have achieved in the fight to transform America be lost. We will never stop fighting for what is right.
It is true that in terms of winning the Democratic nomination, we did come up short. But this election was never about me or any candidate. It was about the powerful coming together of millions of people to take their country back from the billionaire class. That was the strength of our campaign and it will be the strength of our movement going forward in the months and years ahead.
In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the creation of successor organizations to carry on the struggle that we have been a part of these past 15 months. I hope you will continue to be involved in fighting to transform America. Our goal will be to advance the progressive agenda that we believe in and to elect like-minded candidates at the federal, state and local levels who are committed to accomplishing our goals.
In terms of the presidential election this November, there is no doubt that the election of Donald Trump as president would be a devastating blow to all that we are fighting for. His openly bigoted and pro-billionaire campaign could precipitate the same decades-long rightward shift in American politics that happened after the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. That rightward shift after Reagan’s election infected not just politics as a whole but led to the ascendancy of the corporatist wing of the Democratic Party – an era from which we are still recovering.
I cannot in good conscience let that happen.
To have all of the work we have done in elevating our progressive ideals be dashed away by a complete Republican takeover of Washington – a takeover headed by a candidate that demonizes Latinos, Muslims, women, African Americans, veterans, and others – would be unthinkable.
Today, I endorsed Hillary Clinton to be our next president. I know that some of you will be disappointed with that decision. But I believe that, at this moment, our country, our values, and our common vision for a transformed America, are best served by the defeat of Donald Trump and the election of Hillary Clinton.
You should know that in the weeks since the last primary, both campaigns have worked together in good faith to bridge some of the policy issues that divided us during the election. Did we come to agreement on everything? Of course not. But we made important steps forward.
Hillary Clinton released a debt free college plan that we developed together which now includes free tuition at public colleges and universities for working families. This was a major part of our campaign’s agenda and a proposal that, if enacted into law, would revolutionize higher education in this country.
Secretary Clinton has also publicly committed to massive investments in health care for communities across this country that will increase primary care, including mental health care, dental care, and low-cost prescription drug access for an additional 25 million people. Importantly, she has also endorsed the enactment of a so-called public option to allow everyone in this country to participate in a public insurance program. This idea was killed by the insurance industry during consideration of President Obama’s health care program.
During the Democratic platform proceedings in St. Louis and Orlando, we were victorious in including amendments to make it a clear priority of the Democratic Party to fight for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, expand Social Security, abolish the death penalty, put a price on carbon, establish a path toward the legalization of marijuana, enact major criminal justice reforms, pass comprehensive immigration reform, end for-profit prisons and detention facilities, break up too-big-to-fail banks and create a 21st century Glass-Steagall Act, close loopholes that allow big companies to avoid taxes by stashing their cash in offshore tax havens and use that revenue to rebuild America, approve the most expansive agenda ever for protecting Native American rights and so much more.
All of these progressive policies were at the heart of our campaign. The truth is our movement is responsible for the most progressive Democratic platform in the history of our country. All of that is the direct result of the work that our members of the platform committee did in the meetings and that you have been doing over the last 15 months.
But none of these initiatives will happen if we do not elect a Democratic president in November. None! In fact, we will go backward. We must elect the Democratic nominee in November and progressive Democrats up and down the ballot so that we ensure that these policy commitments can advance.
It is extremely important that we keep our movement together, that we hold public officials accountable and that we elect progressive candidates to office at the federal, state, and local level who will stand with us.
As part of that effort, we still have a tremendous amount of work left to do in the Democratic Rules Committee that will be meeting in the coming weeks. We have to enact the kinds of reforms to the Democratic Party and to the electoral process that will provide us the tools to elect progressive candidates, to allow new voices and new energy into the Party, and to break up the excessive power that the economic and political elites in the Party currently have. As with our fights on the platform committee, that will only be possible if we stand together.
You should know that I intend to be actively campaigning throughout this election season to elect candidates who will stand by our agenda. I hope to see many of you at events from coast to coast.
In conclusion, I again want to express my pride in what we have accomplished together over the last year. But so much more must be done to make our vision a reality. Now more than ever our country needs our movement – our political revolution. As you have throughout this historic campaign, I ask for your ongoing support as we continue through the fall and beyond.
On a personal note, I cannot say with words how appreciative Jane and I are of the kindness, dedication and love we experienced from so many people across the country. We are deeply touched by it and will never, ever forget it.
Forever committed, forever fighting, forever forward,
Bernie Sanders

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The secret - how to get a good return on your investment

Many people spend a lot of time and money to learn how to analyze stocks and other types of investments. They aim to increase the return on their savings.

For most people, the secret of getting a good return may come as a surprise to them!

The secret is - avoid making the bad investments and falling for investment scams.

There are many scams and bad investments that are being marketed every day. The marketing methods are sophisticated. Many of the unwary may not be aware about them.

Some of these bad products are being sold by the trusted financial institutions.

To avoid falling for this bad mistake, which has snared many people, take some time to attend this talk. It will be worth your while.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Most people want to get  a better return on their savings and investments. They make two common mistakes.

a) Some want to study how to invest. But it does take a lot of time and effort. It is not easy to be an expert in inveting. Most people give up after a while, or after losing some of the capital in this pursuit.

b) Many resort to getting free advice from friends. The danger is that some of these advice may be conflicted. The friend may be involved in selling some financial products. They are likely to recommend these products, which are likely to offer poor value, after providing the sales incentive to the seller.

Most people actually overlooked the biggest risk in investing. They try to learn what is the best investment that they can make, but overlook to learn what are the investments that they should avoid. Many of these investments are scams that are out to cheat the unwary investor.

Many people lose a large part of their savings in investments that they should avoid. But they were not aware about it, until it is too late.

Many people have invested large sums of money in land banks, gold bars, trees and hybrids of these investments, only to lose their capital entirely.

Most people invest in life insurance policies. They did not realize that there are some good products but many bad ones. The bad product can take away as much as 40% of the accumulated savings. Instead of getting $500,000 from a lifetime of savings and investments, they get only $300,000 (after 40% is taken away).

These bad investments come back again and again in one form or another. Is the investor able to identify them and avoid them?

If you wish to avoid falling for these traps that have snared many other people, you should spend some time to learn about how to avoid them.

Register for this talk.

Video - how to play the business simulation game

Here is a video to show you how to play the business simulation game.

The game can be accessed at

How IRAS can be more helpful

I have to file my corporate tax. I logged into the IRAS website. It was quite complicated, so I had to talk to an IRAS officer.

I searched the website for a telephone number. They have a "Contact Us" page. That was helpful.

But the page contained a few dozen categories with their telephone numbers. I searched the categories and found a number to call.

I was disappointed. It turned out to be a hotline which requires me to press one button after another and listen to many irrelevant messages before I could speak to someone.

If they want me to go through this navigation, why make me go through so many categories in their "Contact Us" page?

Before talking to someone, I have to enter my company file number, without the alphabet.

When the tax officer answered, she asked me, "Mr Tan, please give me your corporate tax number.

I replied, "Your system already asked me for it, and I have pressed the buttons. Why are you asking me again? Never mind, my corporate tax number is 1234567."

IRAS must be receiving a few thousand calls each day asking for help, Why do they have a telephone system and website that make the public waste so much time on what is not necessary? Surely, they can be more helpful to the taxpayers by removing the unnecessary steps?

Terrible experience with Pay Pal

Many years ago, the Pay Pal website worked fine. In recent years, they must have received some instructions from the Monetary Authority of Singapore to tighten their security. Since then, it has been a nightmare for me.

I just received a message that a payment received into my account requires me to confirm my email address. I clicked on the link. They asked me to enter the account password.

I have to check my notebook for the password. This password was rejected. My staff was with me. She could see that I entered the correct password.

There was a link to allow me to change the password. I clicked on the link. They asked me to enter a new password and to receive a SMS to confirm it. I did as required.

I went to the Pay Pal login page and was able to login with the new password.

I went back to the email that required me to confirm my email address. It went to another page that asked me to enter the account password. The password was rejected. This page must be defective.

But it has caused me to waste a lot of time.

Thank you Pay Pal and MAS for messing up my daily work. It is really a nightmare to handle and receive online payments in Singapore.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Chilcot report on the Iraq War

The Singapore government strongly supported the war in Iraq in 2003. They are now proven wrong by the Chilcot report. They need to explain their decision and poor judgment.…/singapores-iraq-policy-w…/

Blog Archive