Saturday, October 28, 2017

Voter suppression

There are complaints of "voter suppression" in several states in America. There are regulations adopted by the states ostensibly to prevent fraud in voting, but have the result of preventing legitimate voters (especially from minority groups) in casting their votes.

These regulations state that the voters have to register way ahead of the voting day and to provide documents to prove their identity. Many people missed the registration deadline or could not produce the documents. So, they were denied the right to vote as citizens.

Singapore has a simple system. We already have our NRIC. We are supposed to register our residential address, which is used to indicate the constituency for voting.

But the problem faced in America of voter registration is quite daunting. This cause doubts on the exercise of democracy.

A secure e-voting system

There was a news report that someone filed a suit in Americal to have a recount of the votes in a certain voting district. After the suit was filed, they found that the server was wiped clean and the recount could not be carried out.

The proposed solution was to go back to paper voting slips.

It is a retrograde step. There is a way to deal with the security of the e-voting slips, to prevent these slips from being wiped out from the server. What is this solution?

I believe that the voting in elections should be done electronically, but the voting authority should find a secure way to prevent the tampering of the e-voting results. It can be done effectively.

So, what is the solution?

Daniel Yong's Article #2 - Culture and Empowerment

Hi Kin Lian,

The previous article drew comments about mind sets and behaviours. And that these differences come about due to differences in "culture". That's absolutely right.

In this article I'll like to touch on Hofstede's research on organisational culture. This may seem a little dry but bear with me. There's some practical application too. Hofstede identified a number of "dimensions of culture" that he could describe that were different among people from different countries.

Today I'll just touch on one - Power Distance. Without getting too technical, Hofstede's Power distance Index measures the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. This represents inequality (more versus less), but defined from below, not from above.

In the case of the airline first officers questioning their captains, I see that as merely discussing a problem and situation and voicing uneasiness. To me that's part of the learning by be able to question and ask why. In asking why you also find out why not and can gain from the experience of others. That includes critical thinking (but we'll talk about that another day). Back to questioning - In my opinion, such discussions are very useful in complex situations which are not time-critical e.g. planning for organisational change.

Australia has one of the lowest "power distance index" of all countries in the study. As such, there is an expectation both for management to consult and for those managed to be consulted. If anything, such consultation brings together the collective experience of everyone in the organisation. It's like "wisdom of the crowd" except in this case you are also consulting with people who face the issues or situation you want to improve upon and have a personal stake in successful implementation.

This consultation in my view also generates organisational buy in. Simply people are more supportive of changes or decisions made if they have been part of the process and have influenced those decisions. This also improves morale. It gives people a sense that they can make a change. Management people call this "empowerment".

I don't know how common these terms are in Singapore or how much empowerment there is, but I think Singaporeans need to open their eyes a little bit more and look at what other jurisdictions are doing and how they are engaging their people.

I think when you were CEO of NTUC Income, you made some decisions that also empowered your staff. Singapore should do more of this. In doing so, we will begin to encourage more thinking and less doing things by "robot mode" or SOP. But more on that another day.

Daniel Yong

Prospects for Singapore economy

Do you expect the Singapore economy to improve in the near future?

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Employment in Singapore

Is the employment situation improving in Singapore?
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Bad for Singapore

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

87% of the people who voted in The Wisdom of the Crowd said "no" for three main reasons. It was an overwhelming vote. 13% said "yes".

You can view the detailed breakdown of the votes in

You can fool some of the people some of the time. But you cannot fool all the people all of the time, right?

Will Li Hongyi be in cabinet?

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

58% of the people who voted in the Wisdom of the Crowd expected him to be in the cabinet within 10 years. 42% said that he would not be in the cabinet.

See the detailed breakdown of the votes in

Friday, October 27, 2017

National Service

How should Singapore's national service policy be changed?

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King Bhumipol of Thailand

Why was the previous King Bhumibol of Thailand so much loved by the people?

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Poor display at bus

I took bus 67 from Little India station to Park Royal Hotel in Kitchener Road.

The app told me that I should get down at Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, 3 stops later.

As this bus was operated by SBS, it did not have a display of the bus stop.

I stood near the exit to watch the bus stop display on the fare meter.

As it approached my stop, it still showed Broadway Hotel. I decided to get down at the stop after Kitchener Road, even though it did not display the name of the temple. Apparently, the GPS was not working well.

I am reminded again about the poor display and the lack of attention by the Land Transport Authority on this issue, even though I raised it with them many times. I suggested that the bus should show the sequential stop number. I would have taken note of the SSN of the temple and got down at the correct stop.

I also raised it with the transport minister, but it was useless. He did not care.

Difference between retrenchment and redundancy

Mr Tan

Recently a friend, age 60 worked with Company X for 30 years was 'redundant' stated in the letter, guess what was her package? @ 8 months payout. The company was smart and they use the word REDUNDANCY instead of RETRENCHMENT so a different mode of calculation formula is used. If retrenchment payout will be more for 30 years.

Understand that in their company exercise, those age 58 and above were the targets whether they are excellent or poor performers.

Those younger age who are under performer were not affected.

Mr Tan, based on your past experience as CEO

1. is the use of such words redundancy fair - resulted in the worker receive lesser payout than retrenchment?

2. the exercise of targeting 58 years and above - is it fair

3. the company is driving message be underperformer if you are under 58 you are safe.

4. whats your view if you are the company CEO? are they manipulating these staff?

It looks like such companies are following our leaders style i.e. manipulation of 'words' to benefit the company and in such case our MOM, TAFEP etc bodies are just useless.

Major retrenchment exercise etc, they should step in.

If I am correct majority of the staff affected are in this category. Sad, they have no one to turn to.

Let me get the views of other people to this issue, before giving my comments.

Rise of China

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

58% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd expressed a positive view to this development. 42% expressed a negative view.

See the detailed breakdown of the votes in

Low expectation of PM Lee's visit to America

I posed this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd prior to the visit of PM Lee to Washington - Will PM Lee's visit to USA be a success?

Click here to view the votes by the people who responded to this question.

About 10% expected the visit to be useful to Singapore, Over 90% had negative views.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Daniel Yong's Article #1 - A different culture

Hi Kin Lian,

When I was in Spore you talked about having me write some very short articles on how people in Aust do things differently than in Spore. I'm happy to start this. Here's one:

Recently the organisation I work for engaged external consultants for another round of consultations to help steer the strategic direction of the Division. Our Executive Director is very open to fresh input from anyone. He's opened focus groups and is inviting anyone to participate and have asay in what they think the Division ought to be focusing on and how it ought to conduct its business. To him, the people "at the coal face" are the ones who know best what works or doesn't work and are the people most likely to have suggestions on how to change or improve. And he wants to hear from them.

This is so different from many organisations in Singapore. Especially government organisations. The system of management in Singapore mainly keeps people in the dark. Decisions are made by a few with very little if any consultation. And often times, there isn't much process in place to systematically identify and record where the organisation is currently, where it hopes to be, and what it takes in terms of change to get to where they want to be. As a result, decisions are made without much measurement of success or failure. There is also much less accountability. People especially in government "just move on".

Daniel Yong

Excessive fines

I am quite worried about the excessive fines imposed by government agencies.

I submitted my return to ACRA after the deadline and had to pay a fine of $300.

An entrepreneur applied for a patent. He did not reply to email enquiry in the portal for 4 months and had to pay a fine of $800 to continue the application.

He said that it was difficult to login to the IPOS portal as they have four levels of security.

These fines are excessive. It does not help the small businessmen who have to struggle to keep afloat.

Unreasonable for IPOS to introduce a fine

Dear Mr Tan

I just spoke with an Ipos (intellectual properties office of singapore) officer. But I'm very upset to be told to pay a "fine" of. $200 per month of s $800 for 4 months of delay on my part if I want to continue with the application.

This was because they sent me 2 previous letters into my IPOS account in 24 April and 24 July and 23 Oct 2017 but I did not check into the portal which require 4 levels of security. As such it is not convenient to check often if one travels regularly.

I feel that this is an excuse to make money out of a patent applicant's mistakes and not at all helpful in the national interest too.

I need to bring this to the attention of fellow would-be patent applicant's.

Do you think this fine of S$200 per month of delay is right?

It is unreasonable for IPOS to impose this fine. They must be wanting to get revenue to cover their high cost of operation. Maybe they want to show a profit.

I do not think your delay in replying to their emails has cause them any expense that justify the imposition of this fine.

Xi Jinping's power

Is it good for the world for Xi Jinping to be a powerful leader in China?

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PM Lee's visit to USA

Was PM Lee's visit to USA successful so far?

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$19 billion purchase by SIA

Do you agree with the spending of $19 billion in new aircraft by SIA?

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Flooded MRT tunnel

Who should take most of the blame for the flooded tunnel at the NS line?

63% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that the CEO should take most of the blame. 18% said it should be the board of directors.

A smaller percentage said that it should be the VP in charge of maintenance or the Bishan maintenance crew.

See the breakdown of the votes in

SMRT to be runned directly by government

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

55% of the people voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd agreed for two reasons.

View the detailed breakwond of the votes in

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Transport minister's apology

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

Only 5% of those voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd welcomed his apology. The remaining 95% had different views about his statement.

See a breakdown of the votes in

Corpoorate culture in SMRT

What is wrong with the corporate culture in SMRT?

See a breakdown of the reasons in

Monday, October 23, 2017

More harm than good

I met an old school mate, who is about the same age as me. He told me that his wife had gone for cancer treatment for the past two years. She is weak and has no energy and vitality. The cancer treatment is not doing any good for her.

Another classmate, who was practicising as a doctor and had since retired, said that in many cases, the cancer treatment does more harm than good. It is better for patients to look for alternative treatment, rather than go for chemo or radiotherapy.

There is now more people who have formed this opinion, after watching their friends and family members gone for the futile treatment.

I shared with them the story of Dr. Charlie. They agreed with the thrust of the story.

Improve the health care system

I asked a doctor who has been in private practice for 35 years - what are your three wishes to improve the health care system in Singapore and bring down the cost to an affordable level.

He gave his reply here:

He knows the problem and can make a better health minister than Gan Kim Yong. If minister Gan wants to improve the system, he should talk to this doctor.

Minimum age to enter into a life insurance contract

Hello Mr. Tan,
In Singapore law, can insurance salesmen sell insurances to NS man below age of 21 (say only 20 years of age)? Is there a regulation for this?

When they bought the policy is like signing a formal contract with the insurance companies. I am afraid they are too young to understand the contract or terms and benefits of policy which are long and complicated.

My view is that NS men or Poly students about 20 years of age are too young to understand the contracts and complexities of insurance benefits sold to them.

Read my reply here:

Be more responsive to feedback

My regular visitors would have noticed that I have often given my observation on "what is wrong" and my suggestions on how to put it right.

Some people expressed the view that I like to complain on many things. That is the wrong impression. Frankly, it does reflect on the negative approach of these commenters.

When I said that JetStar has a bad system to collect feedback, I do not mean that JetStar is bad in many respect. In fact, I travel on JetStar regularly and like their low fares and reliable service.

But I did encounter a lot of problem in getting my itinerary. In spite of make a request to "resend itinerary", i still did not get it. Something is obviously wrong with the website.

To make matters worse, it was extremely painful for me to send my feedback. JetStar should make it easier for customers to give feedback, especially on things that went wrong and needed to be fixed.

I may add that this is not peculiar to JetStar. Many big companies make it difficult for customers to give their feedback. Some people said that it is deliberate. I do not think so. I think that it is just being "stupid".

Let me get back to my general point.

We are now used to getting bad customer service. Many people accept it to be a norm. But this should not be the case. It does not save money for JetStar or any other company to introduce inefficient and troublesome processes. It may even harm their business.

I believe that customers need to be more active in giving feedback and businesses should make it easy for them to do so.

My comment also apply to government agencies. They should be more willing to hear the feedback of the public and be ready to engage them. This could lead to improvements in government policies and processes that make life better for ordinary citizens.

Downtown Line 3

Would you consider the opening of Downtown Line 3 to be a success?

Give your vote in

Fake news

What can be done about fake news?
Give your views in

Ex journalists website

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

The votes are mixed. None of the names is catchy enough to attract a majority of votes.

Asean Transport Minister's Meeting

Why did Khaw Boon Wan not chair the meeting of the Asean Transport Ministers held in Singapore?

69% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd chose the "obvious" answer. He would be embarrassed if the other transport ministers ask him about the frequent breakdown of the MRT system.

Find out the details of the votes here.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Benefits of being a FISCA member

You can join FISCA at

Here are some benefits for FISCA members.

1. Complimentary books on Financial Planning & Insurance by Mr Tan Kin Lian value at $24.

2. Free admission to attend FiSCA Talks and Gatherings. Public need to pay $20.

3. Free access to articles on FiSCA Website which will be closed for Public viewing after 3 days.

4. Savings in Car Insurance premiums. Email FiSCA at least 14 working days with your vehicle log card, existing renewal premiums and your particulars (FiSCA Membership number, Name, NRIC, Address, Contact Number, Email Address, Date Passed Driving and NCD)

5. Savings in your premiums for Personal Accident and Home Contents.

6. Are you paying too much for your insurance? If you need review, special rates for FiSCA members $80 per hour, Public $120 per hour.

7. Many more Benefits.

Be careful of facebook sponsored ad

I saw a sponsored ad from selling an innovative product ear cleaner for US10. I searched Lazada and found exactly the same product selling to S$2.60 inclusive of delivery. So, I am able to get 5 of this item from Lazada for the same price as advertised by Dapiz.

I have been caught before and have to pay more than twice the price shown on the sponsored ad. Now, I will search Lazada or Q10 for a similar product. Usually, I can find the same product for a fraction of the price.

Here is the product from Lazada.

Cancel a policy during free look period

Hi Sir,
I bought a policy a few days (Family First Secure from AIA) and is starting to have second doubts about it. I understand that going straight to the customer centre is the best way to terminate it within 14 days of the policy but I have some points which I'm unsure of.

Read the reply here:

An alternative to retrenchment

During the dotcom burst and the economic recession in the early 2000s, I have to cut down expenses by 10%.

Instead of retrenching 10% of the staff, I cut everybody's salary by 10%, from the CEO down. i gave the staff one month of paid leave every three years.

I cannot remember if the salary cut was 5% or 10%, but my approach was to share the pain equally. I did not wish to have to retrench some of the staff, because they have families to feed.

When the economy recovered, the salary cut was restored. And the one month of paid leave was removed.

Fortunately, during a recession, the cost of living went down. So, the staff was able to cope with the the salary cut.

Some staff were able to find other jobs on their own at better pay. So, they were not worse off. But the majority stayed on and rode through the tough times.

I hope that big companies can consider this method of cutting cost, instead of resorting to retrenchment. Perhaps SPH could have adopted this approach?

Development need to be pedestrian friendly

I took a walk around the shops in Flora Vista. I observed the design of this mini shopping mall. It was most disappointing.

The mall was designed on the assumption that all the customers would be driving to the mini-mall. It did not take into account the fact that most of the customers live in the houses nearly and are likely to walk to the mini mall. They have to walk a long way to the entrance of the mall.

It is all right for people who drive. But it is a long walk for people who walk to the mini-mall.

Sadly, most of the developments in Singaore are designed to be friendly to drivers but most unfriendly to pedestrians. It is time for our planners to realize their shortcomings.

It is so sad that after five decades, we have not changed our basic approach towards designing our development to be pedestrian friendly.

PM Lee visit to America

Will PM Lee make a big blunder in his visit to America?

Give your vote in

Today paper

Do you like the online version of Today paper?

Give your vote in

GST increases the cost of living

The Malaysian government struggles with dealing with the high cost of living. They are now giving various forms of relief for the lower income groups.

Sadly, they do not know the underlying cause. The most important is the introduction of GST. It increases the cost of living by 6% to 8%. 6% is the actual cost of GST, but the business cost and enforcement cost adds to it.

Why introduce GST and then take measures to deal with it, including lowering income tax for the middle income?

GST is a stupid tax. Why did Malaysia have to follow Singapore. Don't they know that Singapore become so costly after GST was introduced?

Of course, high property prices also play a part. But you can be damned sure that GST also plays a big part.

So stupid!…/who-will-benefit-most-malaysia…

Downtown Line 3

Is the successful start of Downtown Line 3 a good sign for the future of our MRT?

Give your vote in

Articles by Ex Journalists

Will you pay $0.10 for an online article written by a retrenched experienced journalist?

I am surprised. About 65% of the people voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd said that they would, for four reasons. 35% would not pay for the article as they can get free articles from the Internet.

You can see the breakdown of the votes in

A sexist remark?

If a man tells a girl that she is sexy, is it a sexist remark?

Most of the people answering in The Wisdom of the Crowd must be men. 49% said that it is not a sexist remark if it is meant as a compliment. Anouter 24% said that it is not a sexist remark if the girl does not feel offended.

See the votes in

I wonder what the girls really think?

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