Saturday, October 21, 2017

Lee family dispute

What is the best way for the Lee siblings to solve their family dispute? Can you give some advice to Lee HL?

Give your vote in

Intrusive advertisements

Online news website need to get some revenue, so they introduce intrusive advertisements. But their readers do not like them.

There are better ways to get revenue.

How to prevent flooding of the MRT tunnel

Can you run SMRT better than CEO Kuek? Can you prevent the flooding of the tunnel? How can you do it?

Here are the views of the people who voted in The Wisdom of the Crowd

The answers are quite straight forward, yet Kuek did not get it right?

Buying from a friend

Someone sent this question for me to pose in The Wisdom of the Crowd - When you buy something from a friend, do you expect to get a special discount

Give your vote in

Friday, October 20, 2017

Forest City Progress report - 15 Oct 2017

The marketing executive for Forest City sent me this progress report as at 15 Oct 2017. The development is progressing well.

It also shows the construction of the hotel and the clubhouse at the golf course. This should be of interest to golf enthusiasts (but not me).

Forest City - 3 year guaranteed lease back

I am now considering the purchase of another unit in Forest City. Details as follows:

This is a 1+1 bedroom unit (517 sf) in Forest City.
The developer sells it for RM 673,832 (SGD 217,000) for advanced payment. This is after a discount of 15% for payment within 2 months. At this price, the cost psf is SGD 419.
The developer offers a lease back scheme for 3 years at 4%, 5% and 6% of the SPA price. It will be used for housing their staff. The average yield is 5% per year. After 3 years, the buyer can take over the apartment and use it on his own.
There is another payment for the renovation and furnishing of the apartment. I think it should be about RM 20,000 (but I have to check it).

You can view the PDF for the other payment schemes - if you do not wish to pay 100% upfront. You can also see a floor plan of the 1+1 bedroom apartment.

My investment
I have already bought a 3 bedroom apartment in Forest City. I am now considering purchasing this 1+1 bedroom apartment as an investment for 3 years. I will worry about how it is to be used after 3 years. By that time, maybe some tenants will be interested to rent the place to send a child to the international school.

If you are interested to visit Forest City to view the development, send email to

The flooded tunnel and the future of Singapore

The flooded MRT tunnel on 7 Oct 2017 caused serious disruption to commuters. But this is not the main problem.

There is a more serious consequence. It showed the failure of Lee HL's system of government Singapore. It showed the incompetence of the people that he appoints to run our ministries and agencies.

It is a clear signal of the tremendous problems that ahead for Singapore.

When Desmond Kuek was appointed to run SMRT five years ago, I thought that he was the best person that could be found for the difficult job. He was chief of staff of the armed forces. He commanded resources that were much bigger than the entire SMRT.

If we could entrust the big defence budget on him and his generals, surely it would be a less difficult task to entrust the running of the train system?

Although he did not have personal experience in running a train system, he can appoint suitable engineering and management people for the task.

He failed quite badly in this task. In that case, I wonder if we could rely on people like him for the defence of Singapore?

When Khaw Boon Wan was appointed to be the minister for transport in 2015, he was considered to be the best minister for the job. He had successfully tackled big challenges in the health and national development ministries.

I was most disappointed personally and for him that he also failed in this daunting task.

What worried me is the underlying causes. CEO Desmond Kuek referred to the doop seated "cultural issues". I suspected that he was referring to the attitude of the maintenance staff that was in charge of the tunnel.

I look beyond this team of low level staff to the entire system of running Singapore that I would describe as Lee HL's system. There are many flaws in this system that I had described on many occasions in the past.

They include the culture of avoiding responsibility, finding excuses, not taking charge, and other bad habits. I considered it to be a serious disease.

Yes, it is a flooded tunnel that should not have happened. But it reflects very serious "cultural issues" that should be addressed from the very top, from the prime minister himself. I hope that he realize the underlying problems.

Tan Kin Lian

President Trump's lack of progress

It is rather sad to see President Trump struggle to get legislation to implement his campagn promises.

a) Build the border wall
b) Repeal and replace Obamacare.
c) Tax reform
d) Infrastructure.

He got nothing done in one year, except create a lot of chaos and uncertainty.

He can't even teach a lesson to the "Liftle Rocket Man".

It is difficult to govern America. Nothing gets done. Even the bold campaign promises cannot be implemented.

The big money's control of Congress is too strong.

Li Hongyi entry into politics

Would Li Hongyi's entry into politics be good for Singapore?

Give your vote in

Li Hongyi in politics

Do you expect Li Hong Yi to be in the cabinet in the near future?

Give your vote in

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Do the work on the ground

In "the old days", managers carry out their work with dedication. A manager who is in charge of maintenance would go round to inspect the maintenance work that is carred out by the maintenance crew. If any work is not done properly, the manager would point out the shortcoming and get the crew to rectify it.

Today, most manager sit behind the desk to write paper reports. They do not go out to inspect the work that is supposed to be carried out.

If the SMRT managers had carried out their work like in "the old days", they would have noticed that the maintenance work was carried out in a sloppy manner and that tools and sludge were left in the tunnel. It eventually caused the breakdown of the pumps and the flooding of the tunnel.

We need to go back to the "good old days" and have managers actually do the work of inspecting and manager. We should not spend too much time at the desk preparing reports.

If CEO Kuek wants to know what is the "culture problem", he should look at the habit of writing reports instead of going out to inspect the actual work.

Naming of roads and buildings

When I moved into Thomson View Condominium in the early 1980s, I was surprised to see advertisements in the classified ads offering Thomson View at prices much higher than expected.

I learned later that these ads were for landed property in Thomson View (a road name) in Sembawang Hill Estates. It was not the ad for the units in the condominium.

It seemed rather confusing to have Thomson View Condomium and Thomson View (name of Road).

A few years ago, there was a collective sale of the mixed condominium called Seletar Gardens in Yio Chu Kang Road. It was located close to my current house.

The new development comprise of three separate condominiums called Flora Ville, Flora View and Flora Vista. Each condomiumium comprises of a small unumber of units.

Flora Road and Flora Drive are roads in Loyang. Why do they allow the name Flora to be used for three condominiums in Yio Chu Kang?

The suitable names for these condomiums should be Cactus or Seletar, not Flora.

Furthermore, why give three separate names when they can be treated as part of one bigger condominium?

I find the naming of roads and buildings in Singapore to be quite haphazard. This must certainly cause confusion for many years in the future. Nobody seem to be taking charge and paying attention to these matters.

People who "don't care"

I waited for bus 163 this morning. It was a long wait. During this time, I saw many bus 70, 86, 854 and 857 that went by relatively empty.

When bus 163 arrived, it was packed.

I get the impression that the demand for these services were not being monitored. They should be. The services that are relatively empty can have some buses diverted to the services that are packed.

This information can be obtained by studying the database each day showing the average number of passengers for each service.

I have suggested this method a year ago, and also send my suggestion to the Land Transport Authority. Nobody bothered to follow up with me on the suggestion. They don't care.

Each time I see the phenomena, and it must be happening daily, I get angry at the way this country is being run. My anger goes all the way to the top man, PM Lee.

Each time I see the MRT train breaks down, I say - this is to be expected. We have a "useless" transport minister and a land transport authority comprising of people who "don't care".

A communist country shows the way

Many people still look at China as a communist country that is run on totalitarian methods.

This was the propaganada of the western media.

If we look at the chaos and the violence in America, we would probably have second thoughts about the benefit of a "free society".

Looking beyond the surface of the control of the Communist Party of China, we can actually see that there is democratic election of the leaders of the Party. Although it does not involve the ordinary people of China, it does involve several hundred of millions of members of the CCP who elect their leaders at various levels of the party.

It seemed to produce more suitable leaders than the democratic system in America.

I am not saying that China has a perfect system. I am pointing out that all system have their flaws and their advantages. We need to see which system produce the best outcome for its people.

Up to now, the China system is way ahead, compared to America. Maybe, the system in Europe is better. We need to keep an open mind about it.

Now, I come to Singapore. There is a lot of flaw in our "democratic system" also. What can we learn from the successful systems adopted in other countries?

Rise of China

How do you view the rise of China in geo-politics?
Give your vote in

Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson has a difficult relationship with President Trump. How long will he last in this office.

Read what the Wisdom of the Crowd thinks.

The views are mixed.

PM Lee to meet President Trump

As PM Lee travel to US to meet President Trump, the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd has a clear message for him on the question -
Is it good for Singapore to maintain our strong ties with America at this time?
Read their votes here:

69% advised caution and the need to play a low key.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Can SMRT be managed directly by government?

Will SMRT operate more efficiently if it were to be run directly by the Government?

Give your vote in

Flooded tunnel

Who should take most of the blame for the flooded tunnel at the NS line?
Give your vote in

Get a foreign operator

Should we invite a foreign operator, such as Hong Kong MTR, to run our train system?

52% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said "yes" as we need real experts who know how to run the train system. Another 17% said that there is no hope with the available people in Singapore. This makes a total of 69%.

Read the detailed breakdown in

Major train breakdown

Should should the train operator do when there is a major breakdown?

38% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that the operator should compensate $10 to each commuter to take alternative transport.

28% said that it should fire the people in charge.

Read the detailed breakdown in

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Upgrading the Bukit Panjang LRT

Transport minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the Bukit Panjang LRT was badly designed with many ups and downs and sharp turns.

But it has been operating for 18 years since 1999. We did not hear of commuters complaining about the dizzy ride. The minister did.

Was the LRt ride uncomfortable, or was the minister just exaggerating?

If there is a need to remove the ups and downs and sharp corners for some stretch of the LRT, it should be possible to build the replacement section and when it is ready, divert the LRT to use the new section instead of the old section.

This would require the system to be closed for a week or two, rather than a few years.

I wonder if such an option was being considered?

Three years to upgrade Bukit Panjang LRT?

There must be something seriously wrong with our Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority.

It is surprising that an upgrading of the Bukit Panjang LRT line will take 3 years. We are now used to very poor standard of competence, but this is stretching the limit.

If we have to close down the LRT for upgrading work, it should not pose any issue. We only need to have feeder buses to run the route of the LRT

The minister may exaggerate the difficult of the job and maybe 70% of the public will believe him, but he is just trying to pull a fast one.

It is disappinting to see Singapore in this ridiculous state.

Top heavy organization

He (Khaw BW) noted that it would be left to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as to whether to impose a financial penalty on SMRT for the incident. But if it were up to him, Mr Khaw said "my preference is not to go back to this system of fines" because it "creates an adversarial relationship between operator and regulator".…/smrt-lta-have-to-get-to-root-…

Herein lies the problem. It is easy for LTA to sit in their ivory tower and impose fine on SMRT for failing to perform up to standard.

In the old days, we did not have this kind of "empires". The government is an entity. It's role is to ensure that the public services are run efficiently and at lower cost.

Today, we have a body such as the LTA that sits as "lord and master" imposing penalties and fines.

Well, this is Lee HL's system of governance. it has broken down badly. It has too many emperors causing a lot of money to taxpayers and enjoying an easy life with high salaries.

Expensive child care

I saw these fees for child care.

Infant Care School fees Full-Day Programme $1,364.00
Childcare School fees Half-Day Programme $690.00
Childcare School fees Full-Day Programme $770.00
Registration Fee, Deposit, Uniform, .... not included

I know that the fees are expensive, but I did not expect them to be so expensive. There is government subsidy, but how much?

No wonder, families do not want to have children.

The fees are really out of this world.

And the government still does not want to introduce a minimum wage of just $1,200 for an adult? This is not enough to pay for the full day program for a child.

Something is seriously wrong in Singapore. Our costs and wages are seriously out of alignment.

Is the "culture" unique to SMRT?

I find it rather strange for the transport minister and the SMRT CEO to blame the "culture" of the employees in neglecting the proper maintenance of the train system.

I agree that the "culture" has an important bearing but I must point out that this "culture" issue is not unique to SMRT.

It is prevalent among Singapore organizations. It is even displayed by our top leaders in the PAP government.

What is this "culture" issue? I wish to point out the following:

a) a focus on SOP and unwillingness to go outside of SOP or to take initiative.
b) focus on scoring on KPI to earn performance bonus, leading to lack of cooperation..
c) an unwillingness to take responsibility and accountability.
d) lack of transparency.
e) a habit to find excuses and push the blame to other people.

Now, you tell me. Is this culture unique only to the maintenace team of SMRT?

If we wish to change the culture, our top leaders should step forward to take responsibility and to provide leadership. They cannot sit back and pretend that the problem belongs to somebody else.

SMRT's corporate culture

What is wrong with the corporate culture in SMRT?

Give your vote in

Khaw BW's late apology

How do you react to Khaw BW's apology for the breakdown of the MRT service due to flooded tunnel?

Give your vote in

Wages and rental

If wages are increased, will it have an effect on rentals?

51% of the people voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd said that over the long run, it will achieved a better balance between wages and rental. It will be good for the economy.

35% said that the increased wages will translate into higher prices for consumers.

See the beakdown of the votes in

Monday, October 16, 2017

Collective sale fever

Is the collective sale fever good for Singapore?

59% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that it will lead to high property prices and make homes unaffordable.

23% said that it is wasteful to tear down condominiums that are still in fairly good condition.

A total of 82% said that this development is bad for Singapore.

See the detailed breakdown in

Rejection of medical claim

Should the insurer reject a medical claim on the grounds of non-disclosure of past medical condition?

47% of the people voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd said that the insurer should check on the medical history at the time of application and should not be allowed to reject the claim on this ground at the time of claim.

22% said that the insured usually rely on the agent to help to complete the application form, so it implies that the agent should take some resonsibility.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Private property market

What should the government do about the bubble in the private property market

Give your vote in

3 day training course on trading

Many promoters charge $3,000 to $5,000 for a 3 days courses purported to give training on futures and options trading.

A case was heard in the Small Claim Tribunal in 2010 on such a course. The report of the hearing in the SCT give an interesting insight into what happened in the 3 day course.

The SCT ruled that the organizer had to refund back the fees paid less $885, which it considered to be the "fair value" of what was taught.

Before you sign up for a similar course, you should read about this case.

Bad for investors

I have added the opinion of two knowledgeable people about why dual currency investment (DCI) is bad for investors. They are good for the banks because they make the profit from the losses by their customers.

Read about how it works here:

My dog Elliot - the Singaporean.

When I take my dog Elliot out for a walk in the morning, he walks in a haphazard manner - sometimes in the front, sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left. The worse case was when he walks behind me and then to the left, with the lease going round my back.

He did not realize that it was inconvenient for me. He only knew what was convenient for him.

His behavior reminds me of many Singaporeans. They know what is good for them, but does not if it is also good for others.

Elliot is also a Singaporean - born and raise in Singapore. So, it would not be surprising that he adopts the habits of many Singaporeans.

We call Elliot a useless dog. He does not bark at strangers. When the strangers came to the house, he runs and hide in the furthest corner he can find.

He is even scared of small animals and children.He is scared of the rain and of the sound of passing cars.

This behavior also reflects that of many Singaporeans who are fearful and paranoid about anything that is uncertain and not stated in the SOP.

They worry that any social activity could be breaking the law and they can go to jail. So, they prefer to be silent and avoid involvement in all social activity. They even avoid speaking out against social injustice.

It is very bad for many Singaporeans to behave in this shameful manner, without any backbone or conviction.

I hope that Singaporeans realize that they can and should be better than Elliot.

Ex journalists network

What is a good name for the news website for ex SPH journalist to submit their articles?

Give your vote in

Small cuontries should band together

Was it wise for PM Lee to make the statement that small countries should band together?

44% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that it was unwise for him to make this statement. 20% said that it is targeted at China and will be taken badly. Together they totalled 64%.

The remainder state that it was a fair statement or that it was necessary for small countries to make their views known.

Read the detailed breakdown in

Tray return station at Aperia Mall

I have taken lunch at Aperia Mall Food Court on several occasions. I was not aware that they have a tray return station. I did not see any signage to guide me.

Yesterday, my friend told me about the return station that was located beyond the food stalls and out of visible sight. It was easy to bring the tray there. They have two counters for "halah" and "non halal".

It is quite common to see poor signage in many places in Singapore.

Return trays at food courts

Should customers return trays so that there is no need for cleaners?

45% of those voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said "no" as there is a need to create jobs for cleaners. 34% said "yes" as there is a shortage of cleaners.

You can see a breakdown of the results at

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