Friday, August 19, 2016

Traffic restriction in Jakarta

Jakarta has introduced the restriction based on the licence plate number from 1 August 2016. The implementation has been quite smooth. There was no protest.

Vehicles with plate numbers ending with an odd or even number are allowed to use the roads on odd and even days during the peak hours from 6 to 10 am and 4 to 8 pm. There is no restriction during the non-peak hours.

This restriction has led to a boom in car sales. The high income owners bought a second car with a plate that has a different odd/even number than their existing car. This has led to parking problems for the second cars, but it is a different matter.

This restriction is a temporary measure. Jakarta will be introducing electronic road pricing (ERP) similar to Singapore. When ERP is launched, the restriction based on licence plate number will be removed.

Potential partner interested in database technology

I sent this video about my database technology to a potential business partner in Jakarta. He was impressed with this technology. He asked his IT head to study how to collaborate with me.

Tax amnesty in Indonesia

The tax amnesty has started in Indonesia.

An Indonesia tax payer is allowed to declare his past undeclared income and pay a tax of 2% if the money is brought back into Indonesia and 4% if it is kept overseas.

For example, a tycoon had earned income of $100 million and did not pay any tax on it in the past years. He can now declare this income and bring it back to Indonesia by paying 2% or $2 million. He will not be prosecuted for failing to declare the income in the past. If he keeps this income overseas, e.g. in Singapore, he pays a tax of 4% or $4 million under the amnesty plan.

The tax increases from 2% for the current quarter to 3% for the next quarter, then 4% for the following quarter and finally 5%. If the income is kept overseas, the tax is doubled. This gives the incentive for the taxpayer to declare the income earlier and enjoy a lower rate of tax under the amnesty plan.

An Indonesian friend told me that it is better to declare the income earlier and pay 4% and keep the money in Singapore. The taxpayer will become free of future prosecution for tax evasion in the future.

The tax amnesty plan is created by President Jokowi to bring additional tax revenue to the Indonesian budget. The tax authorities were not able to catch the tax evaders in the past. This is a way to bring some revenue, although it is only a small portion of the tax that should have been paid. It is a pragmatic approach.

GST Carousel Fraud

Many people dislike GST for being a regressive tax, which imposes a heavy burden on low income people.

I have a separate issue. I found it to be a wasteful taste. It creates too much unnecessary work and waste for businesses. They have to pay the GST on what they buy and then reclaim their GST when they resell the goods.

If a consumption tax has to be imposed, it is better to impose it at the final point of sale, rather than at all the intermediate points. I described GST as a "bits and pieces" tax.

I now find another reason to dislike this wasteful tax. Some people have taken advantage of its weakness to create the carousel fraud. It is described here.

Some people may be caught. But how many people get away with this kind of fraud or similar evasive activities? We will never know.

It is time to review the GST and find a better way to collect revenue without imposing unnecessary cost to businesses. Already, the cost of doing business is too high in Singapore.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The future for Joseph Schooling

Our Olympic Gold medalist, Joseph Schooling, will be returning to America. He is likely to stay there and make his career as a sports professional.

Many Singaporeans understand and agree with his decision. Joseph and his parents have made tremendous financial and personal sacrifices to bring the coveted Olympic Gold medal to Singapore. The state did almost nothing to support him in this humongous effort. There is no future for sports professionals in Singapore. He has to plan for his future, which must lie in America.

Wait! There is an alternative.

Suppose, Singapore engages him to set up the Schooling School of Swimming (SSS), modelled along the Bolles School in Florida. This is the school that had trained Joseph to win the Olympic Gold. Joseph had trained in that school for several years. He knows the entire training regime inside out. He must have also observed how the training regime impact not only him but the other students in his cohort.

Joseph is most qualified to be the founder and chief trainer of this new school. Singapore can put a few tens of million dollars into this venture. Who can be more qualified that to train our future swimmers than a local and Olympic Gold medalist?

Singapore has a future in swimming. Over the past decades,  we have produced medal winning swimmers in various international events. Swimming is one of the few sports that Singapore can excel in. It is largely an individual sport. It does not require many participants to form a team.

The future swimmers have to be trained from a young age. A young trainer, like Joseph, is more likely to relate to these youngsters than an older guy.

Furthermore, one does not need to be a business or engineering graduate to be an sports professional. Joseph can puruse his degree, but it has to be in the field of sports.

I hope that our minister for sports will consider this suggest and take a bold step to reach out to Joseph Schooling.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Difficult to use Singapore Airline website

I have a lot of problem in using Singapore Airline website.

I wanted to know how many Krisflyer miles are required for a return ticket to London. The website asked me to choose Book or Redeem. So, I indicated Redeem.

I have to enter the Departing City and Destination City and the dates. Some of my entries keep disappearing. I get an error. I have to make my entries all over again. They do not remember my previous entries.

I have to try this a few times to get the entries correct. Then they ask me to sign into my Krisflyer account. I cannot remember my number. Furthermore, my points will only be credited later this month. There will be insufficient points to make any redemption.

I just wanted to know the points required. It is really difficult to use.

Two weeks ago, I called the SIA hotline. The staff checked and came back with the wrong answer. If the SIA staff can be confused, it is certainly more difficult for the customer.

I hope that SIA will consider my feedback and make their website more user friendly.

Insurance policies to be in electronic form in India

India is moving forward by requiring certain types of insurance policies to be in electronic form later this year.
They will be way ahead of Singapore.

It is time for our Monetary Authority of Singapore to take the lead and move forward to a more efficient way of handling insurance.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Explaining TPP to LHL

I asked Bernie Sanders to explain to Lee Hsien Loong why the Trans Pacific Partnership is a very bad idea and why LHL should stop advocating the TPP.

Sanders sent this video.

Understand the business cycle

Understanding the business cycle is crucial to the success of any business. Know when there is an increase in demand, when there is increased compeitition from other suppliers and how the market reacts to pricing and marketing. This insight and skill applies to any business, big and small. If you fail to read the cycle correctly, your business can suffer large losses. This is what happened to Neptune Orient Lines.

You can learn how to read and react to business cycle from this business simulation game.

Watch the video guide on how to play the game. It is easy and fun. But you have to practice a few times to get the feel of the game.

Dispute within PM Lee's family

The dispute between PM Lee and his sister is simmering again.…/lee-wei-ling-slam-lee-hsien…/

Problem solving

Develop the skill of problem solving using the shape quiz

Know where to start
Look for the obvious clues
Solve the problem step by step

Scandalizing the judiciary

I consider the concept of "scandalising the judiciary" to be ridiculous in this age of the Internet. I agree with the British High Commission that this concept should be abolished.

Database technology

My expertise is in creating database and in processing the data to get useful results. This video explains my database technology in more detail. I can help corporations to find creative solutions to improve their business.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Quest for Olympic Medals

Singapore embarked on its quests for Olympic medals many years ago. It started a sports excellence program to develop local and foreign sports talents. It imported foreign athletes and gave them citizenship and special training. It must have invested tens or even hundreds of million dollars over the past years in this quest.

This program did produce some results - a Silver medal in the Beijing 2008 Olympics and 2 Bronze medals in the London 2012 Olympics.

It took a young man with a burning ambition and indomitable determination and the selfless sacrifice, support and love of his parents, to bring the most covered Olympic Gold medal to Singapore. This was achieved outside of the state sponsored program.

Joseph Schooling and his parents, Colin and May, deserve our adulation. We are proud of your achievement and what you have done for Singapore.

Ironically, the state almost obstructed this historic achievement. Joseph was required to spend two years of full time National Service, an obligation that is incumbent on all male citizens. If he had been called up, it would have disrupted his training. Most certainly, he would not have won any medal, let alone the coveted Gold Medal.

Joseph Schooling is invited to attend a Parliamentary sitting in honor of his achievement. It is timely for the government to review its national service policy, in the light of this experience.

Here are my suggestions:

The Schooling family has shown, beyond any doubt, what can be achieved through personal ambition and determination, and the support of the family. The government should encourage this initiative and long term commitment.

It should make it easy for these families to receive deferment of the national service obligations, while the young man pursue a laudable goal. If they achieved the goal, they should be fully exempted from national service. They have already served the nation in a more meaningful way.

Most families would find the financial sacrifice to be unaffordable. The government should find some way to help the family in this quest. It will be a challenge to decide who should or should not be supported. This is not easy but we must try to find a formula.

We can find this formula, but it requires judgment, impartiality and transparency from a selection panel.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The lesson from Neptune Orient Lines

Neptune Orient Lines was an icon of Singapore. It was our national shipping line. It was important to Singapore because maritime trade is an important part of our economy. The port of Singapore is one of the busiest in the world.

It is an extremely sad episode for Singapore when NOL had to be sold to a French shipping group. It had sustained large losses in recent years and the shareholders could not bear the loss or see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The CEO of NOL said that the downturn was sudden and could not be foreseen. Was it really the case?

It might be unforseen for someone who is relatively inexperienced in the shipping line, but is should not come to a surprise to someone who has been in the industry for a few decades and had seen the ups and downs of the business cycle.

Unfortunately, the CEO was previously a military person and did not have any experience in this shipping industry. It is a mistake on the part of the major shareholder, namely Temasek Holdings, to put a relatively inexperienced person to run this large company.

The business cycle will affect all industry, not only the shipping business. It will affect airlines, hotels, tourism, manufacturing, retail, property and just about any industry. That is the nature of the free market and competitive economy.

Apart from gaining experience, insight and the feel with decades of experience, there is another way to understand the nature of the business cycle.

If the CEO of NOL and his top management had practised on this business simulation game, they would have known about the market cycle and how they should adjust their pricing, capacity and marketing expenditures under various market conditions and economic cycles.

Watch the Video Guide in the home page. It shows you how to play the simulation game and gain the experience that comes from many years of operating experience. Maybe, you can avoid the fate that brought down NOL.

Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Why is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) bad for ordinary people?

Bernie Sanders explain why it is bad. He gave four reasons.

They apply not only to America. They apply to other countries as well. They also apply to Singapore.

TPP is good for the multi national companies, the drug companies, the Wall Street banks.

Avoid Dual Currency Investment - it is a form of financial terrorism

From time to time, some unwary customers invested in a Dual Currency Investment. They did not realize the high risk. They were mis-advised by the bank relationship manager who recommended the DCI to them.

I wrote this article to explain the DCI. I encourage consumers to read it to understand it. After understanding it, most sensible consumers will avoid the DCI like terrorism.

Training of Joseph Schooling

I saw an article stating that Joseph Schooling was trained in USA and his father spent over $1 million (USD) in his training.

The environment in Singapore was not conducive to his training. It must be very costly for his family.

I am glad that this investment is rewarded by the glory of achieving an Olympic Gold and a generous cash prize from the state.

Perhaps our elites in Singapore can reflect on our training system - which seems to be not going well here.

Joseph Schooling and National Service

When Joseph Schooling won the Olympic Gold for Singapore at the age of 21, this question came to my mind - Did he have to serve his full time National Service?

I read that his mother had to ask SAF to allow Joseph to complete his basic training plus three months, so that he can continue to train for this sport.

I do not know if this request was granted. I hoped that it was - and that would demonstrate that the SAF is flexible.

It is a miracle that the first Olympic Gold for Singapore came from a local born citizen, and not a foreign import.

We will never know how many Olympic medals were lost in past years when National Service disrupted their sports training and the young boys did not have parents who fought hard for them to be given "some flexibility".

Congratulations to the Schooling family. Well done. You have made us proud!

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