Saturday, January 07, 2017

Time to cease wasteful activities

I was unwilling to give my contact number after scanning my NRIC to enter Raffles City Tower. I consider the whole exercise to be a waste of time.

Someone said, "Mr. Tan, the security guard are just doing their job. Why make life difficult for them? You know they are lowly paid."

What nonsense! The building management is making life difficult for me. They asked me to queue up to scan my passport and they ask for my mobile number. What is the purpose? To sell the number to a telemarketing company?

Do ordinary people have the right to privacy. Should they be required to leave their identity with all the buildings that they visit?

I refuse to comply with unnecessary and wasteful practices.

If there is a terrorist threat, they should inspect my bags for bombs. How does scanning my NRIC and asking for my contact number help to reduce the terrorist threat?

Someone said, "Oh, they want to contact you if there is a contagious disease". What nonsense! Is this a credible risk? it is just ridiculous thinking.

If we continue to waste money and manpower on useless activities, we will continue to be more expensive and uncompetitive. We are already the most costly city in the world.

A better workflow for a call center

Here are my suggestions for a better workflow for a call center. Most call centers fail my test of providing good customer service.…/A-better-workflow-for-a-call-ce…

How to differentiate between a good and a bad life insurance policy

Dear Mr. Tan
I remember reading several of your postings. You seem to suggest that all life insurance policies give a poor return on investment. Are there any exceptions? Maybe some of the policies can give a satsfactory return, compared to other types of low risk investments, right? How do we tell what is a good and a bad investment, rather than brush all of the policies as bad?

I agree with you. There could be some types of policies that offer a good return.
The consumer needs to know how to tell a good or a bad investment.
The clue is given in the Benefit Illustration. You need to know what to look for.
You can find the answer here:

Civil service and performance bonus

My friend works in a senior position in the Hong Kong civil service. She said, "We are paid a good salary. We do not receive any performance bonus. We do our best to serve the public. We are not motivated by any bonus".

I agree with her. This is the correct approach. The system adopted in Singapore is bad. It is Lee HL's system. He believes that the civil servants should be given performance bonus to improve their performance.

Instead, it created a bad outcome. The civil servants compete among themselves to score better and get a higher performance bonus. They distrust each other.

I am not referring to all civil servants. But the competitive behavior comes through various subtle forms. Sometimes, they are not aware about it.

This is why things are falling apart in Singapore.

We need to change our culture away from the greed for money. We have to refocus on a sense of honor and duty. Of course, we still have to give an adequate pay, like in Hong Kong.

Uselss security measures

I visited my stockbroker at Raffles City Tower. I had to pass through secruity. They asked for my NRIC and scanned it.

Guard - can we have your contact number?
TKL - why do you need it?
Guard - in case of emergency
TKL - what kind of emergency? how often does it occur?
Guard - sorry, this is our SOP. see this sign.
TKL - 12345678
Guard - never mind. don't have say so.

The SOP (standard operating procedure) is good for brainless people to implement and for brainless people to comply.

Does the PIP (people in power) who pass the SOP realize that this is entirely useless and a waste of time? It also infringes privacy. I do not want my mobile number to be sold to telemarketers.

Why do they need to scan people going into Raffles City Towers? It is not a high security building. If it is the case, they should be scanning the back pack for bombs! They are not!

Maybe they should be scanning the people visiting the Raffles City Mall for bombs, as it is a high risk area. They are not!

Thank you, Lee HL and PAP. You have raised a nation of brainless people.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Difference between "instruction" and "SOP"

What is the difference between "instruction" and "SOP" (standard operating procedure?

Many Singaporeans, including our leaders, do not know the difference. This is why Singapore is now in a big mess.

What is the difference?

The instruction tells you what should be done.
The SOP tells you how to do it.

Here is an example:
Instruction - clean the toilet
SOP - take a pail. put in water. take soap, cloth and broom. etc. etc.

When people are used to SOP, they follow it blindly. They don't know the purpose. They don't know what to do if the conditions are different from what was expected. If the SOP did not provide for the unexpected condition, they are stuck. They are lost.

Now, you know why Singapore is in a big mess. Too much SOP. Most probably from SAF and NS. Too many paper generals running the country using SOP.

Implement change and be entrepreneurial

Many people are afraid of change because of the risk of failure. In fact, failure is to be expected due to "teething problems" in implementing a new system.

Here is a strategy to minimise the risk and to allow an entrepreneurial approach. It involves implementing the change in small steps.

It adopts the "A and B strategy" rather than "A or B" strategy.

What is expected of the transport minister

Dear Mr. Tan
I have read several of your postings regarding the lack of display of the next bus stop and the faulty tracking device in some buses.

You blame these faults on the transport minister. You even went so far as to call him "useless". Do you honestly expect the minister to pay attention to such small issues? Surely this can be left to lower level civil servants? I expect the minister to pay attention to the big issues, such as transport policy and infrastructure.

I expect the transport minister to pay attention to the big policy issues and to the "small issues" that affect the ordinary people.

I do not expect the minister to personally inspect the tracking devices in the buses. However, if there are reports that many of the devices are faulty, I expect the minister to ask the question to his civil servants - how many devices are faulty? will they be replaced?

Just by asking this question, the problem will be fixed. Singaporeans are very good at execution. They may not do anything until the minister says so, but when the minister takes an interest, the problem will be fixed quite quickly.

The transport minister has a large staff in his ministry. He has one or two personal assistants. They can check the mainstream and social media for feedback. When someone raise an issue, the assistant could contact that person and get more details. They can pass the feedback to the minister, if it warrants attention.

It is quite shameful that nobody bothers about the faulty tracking devices for years. What is the point of installing the tracking devices and paying millions of dollars to install them, when you do not use it fully?

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Singapore's ranking on human rights

Does Singapore have a good record on human rights? Most people think about human rights in terms of freedom of speech and assembly, but it goes beyond these rights. It includes economic and social rights.

Singapore standing is not bad, but it is not good either. Here is my speech about how we stand.

Invest in unit trusts that perform better than the index fund?

Dear Mr. Tan,
You have been educating consumers to invest in the index fund (STI ETF). A financial adviser has shown me a few unit trusts that outperform the STI ETF over the past five years. He advised me to invest in these higher performance unit trusts, rather than the STI ETF. He said the the better performance is due to capable fund managers. Although their management fees are higher than the STI ETF, the net return is better. What are your views


How to try out a new call center system

Most big organizations are aware that their customers hate their call center system. The complaints about the bad customer experience are universal and have been occurring for decades.

But these organizations are stuck with their existing system. They dare not make the change. They fear the risk that the new system may produce worse results.

Here is a way to approach the change.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Speech by Tan Kin Lian on Human Rights, 10 December 2016

Here is the full video of my speech on Human Rights at Hong Lim Park, 10 December 2016.
Hope you listen to the full speech and give me your views.

Bus showed the wrong stop

I met with an incident yesterday which reminded me about our "useless" transport minister.

The fare display showed the wrong bus stop. I was misled and missed the stop. I had to get down at the next stop and walk back in the heavy rain.

Surprising results of voting

The results of the voting for three issues have closed today. The issues are:

a) Singaporeans should side with the government on the Terrex issue
b) President Duterte was not properly dressed on his state visit to Singapore
c) China is provocating a dispute with America on the underwater drone.

I am surprised by the votes on all three issues. You can view them at

How to vote in the Crowd website

Click on this link to view the issues that you have to vote.

The process is easy.
Click on the link at the top of the page.
It brings you to a page to sign in with your Facebook or Google account. Click on the logo.

If you are voting for the first time, you will be asked to provide your gender, age group and citizenship.
After that you can vote on the issues.

It should be quite easy.
It can be done on your mobile phone.
Give it a try.

After you have tried it for the first time, it becomes easy for you to vote on issues in the following weeks.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Wisdom of the Crowd website

AK Tan said:
How come most of the voting results show 25 votes? The same 25 people voting all the time? So much for the "crowd"...

Your observation is not correct. Some issues have more and other issues have less than 25 votes. The crowd is small and comprise of different people. Some voted on several issues, which is all right.

I checked the database. A total of 340 people have voted in the past. Some voted on more than 1 issue. But many voted on just 1 or 2 issues.

Please give your vote to improve the size of the "crowd"

Starhub Call Center

My internet router died. I called the Starhub call center. It was a tedious process to go through their call center and to get the required service. It is inefficient and poor service.
I first raised the issue with Starhub 10 years ago. I met with the manager in charge of the call center. Nothing was done for 10 years. Maybe I will have to wait another 10 years to see some improvement. Some things really move very slowly in Singapore.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Results of the voting on two recent issues are now available

Is President Duterte of Philipines showing disrespect for Singapore by being casually dressed on recent state visit to Singapore?

Is China provocating a confrontation with America by detaining the underwater drone?

The results of the voting has now closed. They are quite a surprise and unexpected. But it is the "wisdom of the crowd".

Cost of a bad decision

Dear Mr. Tan

Recently, I was advised to terminate my 2 prime life and 1 Financial Guardian policy with total surrender value of $100k to buy instead an investment linked fund Manulife GAAF (pays 7.2 cent for price of about 0.86 ct per unit and 1 Manulife Money protect of $30k with accelerator of $90k and 1 Manulife Enrich, also invests in GAAF - dynamic allocation) premium paid by GAAF of $8300.

The agent claimed I paid nothing compared to buying an NTUC Vivo life which get me lesser coverage compared what I gave up at AIA 2 prime for 100k and Financial Guardian coverage at $30k. Is this a smart move? Thanks for your advice.

Are you willing to pay $1,000 for a proper advice? Or do you prefer to lose $10,000 (maybe more) for a bad decision?

NS man lost all of his savings

This NS men has lost all of his savings in the PruFlexiCash policy. He regretted making this mistake. He did not understand the policy. He found that it did not suit his needs.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Levy on foreign workers

The levy payable for foreign workers are:

Work permit - $300 to $850 per month, depending on sector and tier
S Pass - $300 to $650 per month, depending on tier
E Pass - $0 (no levy)

To get more details, you have to refer to this PDF. It is complicated and is typical of the style of LHL's government. You need to spend a lot of time to figure out what is the levy you have to pay. He calls it "calibrated".

The biggest problem is with the E Pass. There is no levy payable. It defies logic. This is where the biggest abuse happens. Employers will find ways to get foreigners into Singapore on E Pass. They accept fake degrees, so long as it helps them to get the E Pass.

I know of some employers who collude with their foreign professionals to inflate the salary to qualify for E Pass and actually pay a lower salary to these foreigners.

Quite often, we hear that employers prefer foreigners, rather than locals. They must be many reasons for this preference. Perhaps, the waiver of levy for E Pass holders could be one reason.

The government sponsored Jobs Bank does not work. I hear of employers agree to recruit a foreign professional (E Pass holder) and then submit an application an application to the Jobs Bank just to pass the 14 day waiting period.

It is very difficult for locals to get jobs, when there are so many abuses of the system. One big hurdle for local workers is the need to serve reservist duty. Employers do not like the disruption, which does not apply to foreign workers.

The government leaders are either stupid or they are corrupt. They are stupid if they do not know of the abuses. They are corrupt if they close an eye and allow their cronies to benefit from the system.

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