Saturday, September 17, 2016

Yip Pin Xiu and Paralympics

I congratulate Yip Pin Xiu for winning the second gold medal at the Paralympics Games. You have made Singapore proud!

I also congratulate her parents for their tremendous sacrifice in supporting their daughter to achieve these medals.

A rigged election in the USA

Many people in USA felt that their political system is rigged. Here is another event to support their view.

Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein have failed to qualify for the first presidential debate, and their running mates will not be in the vice presidential debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday.

The decision means Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump will be the only two candidates on the stage, and Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, their running mates, will be the only participants on October 4.

Johnson has publicly said that being excluded from the debates would doom his campaign.The commission said it will review the criteria for the second and third debates in the future.
A fairer alternative solution is quite simple. Allow the top four candidates to participate in the debate, regardless of their share of votes.

In the Republican primary process, the debate was held with 17 candidates.

It is quite practical for the general election to have four candidates. Currently, the debate organiser set the bar at 15% of votes from the polls for a candidate to be eligible. Clearly, it is an attempt to restrict the process to two political parties.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pay $2,500 a month for a rubbish collector

From a friend.
I wish to share a story (from a Media Corp program which I saw) of a 50-60 year old Malay man who had 10 kids and made only $ 1000 a month as a rubbish truck collector.

When I was an apprentice in Sydney 40+ years ago, the rubbish collectors were paid well and lived in detached houses. Not only that, they have pride in their vocation.

Lets look at the scene in Singapore over the past 40 years. The rubbish collectors get paid a personal survival only salary. And I am sure they do not have the self esteem that I see in the same class of workers in Australia 40 years ago.

I then ask a big WHY and ask what can we do to help? I ask why we cannot pay all those who have to cling onto the back end of the rubbish truck and smell the unbearable odour a salary of $2500 for their horrible nature of work.

If we do this, there will be people lining around the block to get into these jobs. We will have rubbish collectors who have high self esteem and who will provide better for their family. We will have helped uplift their impoverished children. Would not this be a right idea? A noble idea?

We will have workers who do not need as much help from the government as they do today on their low income. How many collectors do we need, 1000 to 2000 ?

If we amortise the increased cost on everyone, it would cost us 1 -2 dollars more each per month. In public or private tenders, we ask the suppliers to pay their workers such salaries and establish a level starting point for all. We do not have to bring in the foreign workers.

Together we citizens can share the burden to help our fellow citizens and their children, our future citizens.

Rising unemployment, difficult to get jobs

The employment situation for locals is bad and will become worse in the near future.

More people are being retrenched. It will be a big hassle to find jobs.

I hope that this job portal can help to make it easier for job seekers to find the few available jobs, and will encourage employers to post their jobs to find suitable job seekers easily.

This job portal is now in testing mode. It will be launched live on 1 October 2016.

Encourage locals to be drivers

My friend made the following observations.

a) It cost more than $4,000 for a person to get a driving licence, including the tuition fees.
b) Many young people who come from low income families cannot afford this expense to get a driving license.
c) We now have to depend on employing foreign drivers
d) The foreign drivers are not familiar with Singapore roads.
e) Some of them could pose a security risk.

He made this suggestion:
a) Get bus companies to provide apprenticeship to drivers.
b) The employers pay for the cost of training the drivers to get a licence
c) The drivers are bonded to work with the employer for a certain period.\
d) They can be paid well, so that driving becomes a respected job.
e) At a later date, the drivers can upgrade their skills to drive heavy or specialised vehicles
f) This will create many well paying opportunities for locals.
g)  The drivers will improve their skills with many years of experience.

He said - we need a national policy to keep driving jobs for locals. 

Training of bus drivers

If you stand in a crowded bus, it is very uncomfortable because the bus is jerky.

I wonder if this is unavoidable, or if the driver could have been more careful in applying the brakes. As they are seated, they may not realize the problem that a jerky bus gives to the standing passengers.

A good way to train the bus driver is to make them stand as a passenger on a crowded bus during peak hours. Maybe, they should take at least four full journeys. If they realize the impact on the passengers, perhaps they will be more careful.

Elected President in Singapore

Here is the government's White Paper on the Elected Presidency. As expected, the next election will be reserved for a Malay candidate. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Singapore - a smart city?

This is very nice piece of public relations (which makes our government leaders very proud), but it is far from reality.

We are inefficient. It is difficult to interact with the government agencies. We have to spend a lot of time to make online transactions. Many companies write cheques because online payments are badly designed. We don't even display the name or sequence number of the bus stops or make any voice announcements. Commuters have to figure out for themselves.

Business Simulation Game

You will now receive a Certificate of Participation when you complete a business simulation game.

The Certificate looks like this.

Rejected critical illness claim

I give this advice to the claimant on how to respond to a rejected critical illness claim.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Style of governance

For discussion:What is the difference between a government that is run by military leaders, and one that is run by civilian leaders?

Singapore can be considered as a government run by military leaders. PM Lee has a background from the SAF. His approach is largely based on his experience from SAF.

He has appointed many ministers with military background. He also appoints these people to be in charge of key government agencies.

My perspective:A leader with a military background operates in a command and control mode. He lays down detailed instructions in standard operating procedures (SOP) and expects the subordinates to follow these SOP without question and without exercise of common sense.

This has been our mode of operation in Singapore for the past three decades. Most people now operate blindly and automatically based on SOP. Even if the SOP are producing wrong results, they continue to follow them blindly.

Do you agree?

Dread disease claim - rejected as not satisfying the claim criteria

A policyholder asked for my help over a dread disease claim that was rejected. He was diagnosed for cancer but acted on the advice of the doctor to remove the cancer using surgery. The claim was rejected as not satisfying the criteria for a claim.

CPF Investment Scheme

It takes the government a long time to realize what has already been obvious to many people. If they have been more willing to hear the message from the ordinary people and the independent experts, they would have acted much earlier.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dual currency investment is risky

It is highly risky to invest in dual currency investment. Many investors are not aware of this risk. Mr. Tan explains why it is risky.

Planning a vacation in Spain

I am planning a vacation in Spain. This will be my first visit to the country.

I booked my air ticket to London online. From London, I book a Ryanair ticket to Madrid. I also booked a 4 day tour of Madrid, Cordova, Seville and Granada and return to Madrid.

I booked my hotel online for my stay in Madrid and after the tour. I also checked on the airport transfer and found the fare for a taxi.

I watched Youtube for videos to Madrid and the other cities. This gives me an impression of what to expect.

One visitor said that a few words of Spanish would be helpful for visitors. I went to the Duolingo app to brush up on my Spanish. I would also be listening to my favorite Spanish songs which also teaches me a few words of Spanish.

The world has changed a lot with the internet. It is for us to make the best use of it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bus Rapid Transit in Guangzhou

Our Land Transport Authority should visit Guangzhou, China and learn about how they introduced the BRT - Bus Rapid Transit system. It is popular and highly successful.

And they do not need million dollar salaries for their leaders.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Amazing Grace - Cherokee Prayer

Hold on to what is good
Even if it's a handful of earth

Hold on to what you believe
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself

Hold on to what you must do
Even if it's a long way from here

Hold on to your life
Even if it's eaeier to let go

Hold on to my hand
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you.

Oh, Great Spirit whose voice I hear in the winds
And whose breadth give live to all the world, hear me
I am small and weak
I need your strength and wisdom
Let me walk in beauty
And make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset

Make my hands respect the things you have made
And my ears sharp to hear your voice
Make me wise so that I may understand
The things you have taught my people
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
In every leaf and rock

I seek strength
Not to be greater than my brother
But to fight my greatest enemy

Make me always ready to come to you
With clean hands and straight eyes
So when life fades, as the fading sunset
My Spirit may come to you without shame

Delay in receiving payments can kill a small business

Someone told me.

I run a business selling specialised equipment to government agencies. I have to submit a competitive tender to win the award. The equipment can cost a few hundred thousand dollars. The government agencies can take a few months to pay me.

I have to chase them. Their excuse is that a payment above $50,000 requires the signature of the director. The director is now overseas.

As my cash flow is tight and I am paying high finance charges, the delay can kill my business. I face this problem with large companies, but government agencies are the worst. I also have to waste my time chasing for payment.

Many other small businesses supplying products and services to government agencies face the same problem. They have to pay their supplier, pay GST and pay their employees upfront and wait a few months to get payment from the buyers"

I agree with him. It is a bad practice for the large companies and government agencies to take advantage of small business in this way.

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