Saturday, December 16, 2017

Some questions about citizenship

Here are some arguments why citizenship should not be revoked so easily. If a person has committed a crime, he should be punished according to the law, but the citizen should not be revoked.

It also brings the question about whether citizenship should be given out so easily. This is a separate question, but it is worth considering as well.

I hold the view that citizenship should not be given easily and it should not be taken away easily.

I also hold the view that the burden of citizen should be shared equally. It is quite ridiculous that local born male citizens have to served two full years of national service and another ten years of reservist duty whereas new citizens escape this burden.

This burden can be made fairer by paying the citizens a market salary for the time that they have to serve in the military service.

Tan Kin Lian

Pay for hawker assistant

How much should a hawker assistant be paid a month for 40 hour work week?
Give your vote in

Should the citizen of the S League player be taken back?

Recently, the government took back the citizenship given to a S League player for being involved in a global match fixing scam.

I posed this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Should the citizenship of the S League player be taken away for global match fixing?

58% are in support of this action. 42% are against it.

You can view the breakdown of the votes and the reasons in

Friday, December 15, 2017

Did Li Shengwu scandalise the court?

The Attorney General is charging Li Shengwu for scandalising the court by referring to a "pliant court system" in one of his Facebook post.

Did Li Shengwu scandalised the court? What does the ordinary people think?

You can see their votes in

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Will Seah MM take over as CEO of SMRT?

Seah MM was recently appointed as chairman of SMRT. Later, he resigned from his full time job to focus totally on SMRT.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Do you expect Seah MM (current chairman) to take over as CEO of SMRT?

a) 35% said that he will be appointed as executive chairman but Desmond Kuek will remain CEO.
b) 25% said that Seah MM will quite likely assume the position of CEO, replaceing DK.
c) 20% said that this is part of the plan decided earlier.
d) 12% said that this change is likely to happen within the next six months.
e) 8% said that this is not likely to happen.

A total of 57% expect Seah MM to take over as CEO while 35% expect that he will be executive chairman and DK will remain as CEO fo SMRT.

View the breakdown of the votes in 

Should the government worry about the increasing number of elderly in the population?

Over the years, the government has been expressing concern about the increase in the elderly in the population.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Should we worry about the increasing number of elderly in the population?

Here are the replies:

a) 67% said that the government does not provide a pension to the elderly, so the elderly will not be a burden to the state.
b) 14% said that the elderly can downgrade their property and get cash for their living expenses.
c) 11% said that most of the elderly can take care of themselves financially.
d) 8% said the the elderly will be a burden to the resources of the state.

A total of 92% said that the concern of the government is misplaced.

View the breakdown of the votes in

Should condo apartments be allowed for rental under AirBnB?

The government passed a regulation recently to disallow apartments in condominiums to be rental out for short term stays. Recently, the government sought public consultation over this issue.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Should condo owners be allowed to rent our their apartment for short term stay under AirBNB

Here are the votes:

a) 36% said that short term rentals should be disallowed as it affects the neighbors.
b) 28% said that short term rentals should be allowed in condominiums, similar to the practice in private landed properties.
c) 28% said that this should be allowed provided that it does not disturb the neighbors.
d) 8% said tht it should be allowed but the guests cannot use the condo facilities.

A total of 64% are in favor of short term rental of condo apartments under AirBnB but they have some conditions to the use.

View the breakdown of the votes in

Should banks impose a charge for ATM cash withdrawals?

Should banks impose a charge for cash withdrawals from ATMs?

Obviously, the answer is NO. But what if they banks offer a higher interest rate on deposits and reduce their charges on credit cards?

Give your vote in

Bleak prospects for retail sector

My friend is in the retail trade, online business. He said that the retail sector in Singapore faced two big problems:

a) There is a big over-supply of retail space. Too many malls were buit and sold at high prices. The landlord needs a high rental to pay the mortgage and get their expected return. But the retailers cannot afford these rentals as the customers are spread around too many malls. Business is poor.

b) More customers are now buying online. The recent entry of Amazon into Singapore will pose a big threat to stores selling branded goods. Amazon is able to see the goods at half the prices of the retailers. Even the non-branded products are affected by the online merchants.

c) There is some hope for the F&B sector as they are not affected by the online stores. But these operators are affected by the high cost of wages, due to government levy on foreign workers and the reluctance of locals to take up these jobs. These outlets are also struggling.

The positive side is that the rentals for retail sector will have to fall by a lot. At that time, the F&B sector may be able to survive. But that will take a long time to sort out.

The REITS (real estate investment trusts) will soon feel the pain from lower retail rentals and lower occupancy.

This is a bleak prospect for the retail sector.

Tan Kin Lian

Tan Kin Lian

Why does the government want to build 17,000 new flats next year?

Why does the government want HDB to build 17,000 new flats next year?

There are four possible reasons. Give your vote in

Thursday, December 14, 2017

E-Payment is different from the past NETS payment

The general public is used to paying in cash. They think that it is the "best way" to make payments. The hawkers and merchants also think the same.

If this is the case, why did China move towards e-payments using AliPay and Wechat Pay?

I can tell you that the people in China are not stupid. They know that e-payments save them time in counting money, giving change, banking in the money, etc.

The time saved means more time for business. They do not mind paying a small fee for e-payment as it is small relative to the business that they can do with the extra time.

Our merchants are concerned about the cost of setting up the infrastructure for e-payment, the fee that they have to pay and the delay in receiving their money.

These are valid concerns, but they refer to the old e-payment system using NETS.

The new payment system using e-wallents (similar to AliPay and Wechat Pay) do not have these issues. If ou have used DBS PayLah or similar wallets issued by OCBC and UOB, you will know what I mean.

The e-payments using the e-wallets have these advantages:

a) There is no need to incure any infrastructure cost for merchants and hawkers. They only need to use their mobile phone with access to free wifi or a data plan. Most of them already have it.

b) There is no fee payable for the e-payment transfers. It is free for the time being.

c) They get their money in their e-wallet immediately. They can transfer it to their bank account free.

The only problem is that there are too many platforms (i.e DBS, OCBC, UOB, Grab, NETS, Apple, Android, etc).

This problem can be addressed by setting up a clearning house, as explained here:

The clearing house has to be set up by MAS or the Association of Banks or by a party approved by MAS.

If we have a clearing house, we can make e-payment successful in Singapore.

Do not get the misunderstanding that e-payment is exclusive. Cash payments will continue to be allowed (as in China) but, over time, more customers will prefer to pay through e-wallets.

Tan Kin Lian

Singapore has to deal with several challenges

Headlines in the Straits Times:

Better job prospects but long-term jobless figures up.
Number of resident unemployed for at least 25 weeks highest in Sept: MOM report.

Who are the unemployed residents who could not find jobs for 6 months or longer?

I guess they are:
a) PMETs
b) Unemployed graduates.

If we include the young people driving Uber and Grab, the figures would be more worrisome. It would add to the long-term problem.

What are the underlying causes of this situation?

Much has been written about the plight of PMETs who are displaced by cheaper "foreign talents". Our PMETs cannot accept the lower pay as they have families to feed and mortgages to pay, and these are very expensive in Singapore. Even if they are willing to accept lower pay, the employers still prefer foreign workers for various reasons.

What about the unemployed graduates and those who are "employed" as Grab or Uber drivers? We have a serious problem about the waste of resources. These graduates spend several years to acquire a paper degree that do not get them a job.

The economy provide jobs for only a certain number of graduates each year, and these jobs go to the better quality graduates. The rest could not find jobs.

In the past, these graduates could work as property or insurance agents. Even these lucrative jobs are now in over-supply and the demand for their services have also dropped.

There are real jobs that have to be done in the economy, such as in the construction, engineering and technical fields. However, these jobs required real skills that the grauduates do not have. Their time was spent in acquiring the paper degree.

We have serious challenges to address. They require a restructing of the pay structure of jobs and the education system.

We also have to restructure the "national service" obligations imposed on our young males over more than a dozen years, putting them at a disadvantage against foreign workers. 

We can look towards Germany and Switzerland for the answers to these challenges.

Fortunately, with the huge reserves, the government has the financial resources to deal with these challenges. We need them to have the wisdom to recognize the real problems and the courage to deal with them. Are our ministers up to mark?

Tan Kin Lian

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mindef hire hackers to test the vulerabilities of their internet portals

Mindef is offering rewards to hackers who are able to find vulnerabilities in their internet portals. Is this a good approach?

Give your vote in

Will the electric car sharing scheme succeed?

An electric car sharing scheme, called Blue SG, has started in Singapore.

Will it be successful?

Give your vote in

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Will Lee Hongyi's entry into politics be good for Singapore?

Li Hongyi is the son of PM Lee. Some people expect him to enter politics and take over as a future prime minister. He has already said that he is not interested in politics, but many people do not believe this statement.

A few months ago, I asked his question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Would Li Hongyi's entry into politics be good for Singapore?

Here are the votes:

a) 46% said no. It would be a bad example of nepotism.
b) 24% said no. He will not be a good leader as he does not know the lives of ordinary people.
c) 17% said no. It will be bad to continue the policies of Lee HL.
d) 6% said yes. He is a brilliant and capable leader.
e) 6% said yes. He will continue the legacy of his family in leading Singapore.

A total of 88% voted that this would be a bad outcome for Singapore. Only 12% said that it would be good for Singapore.

How will PM Najib respond to this request?

Anwar Ibrahm's lawyer has asked PM Najib to release Anwar from hospital early.  See here.

Will PM Najib grant this request?
Give your vote in

E-bikes should be banned on walkways

Someone wrote to the newspaper to complain that it is dangerous to allow e-bikes on the walkways as it might cause collision with pedestrains.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - should e-bikes be banned from walkways.

Here are the votes:

a) 61% said that they are dangerous for pedestrians and should be banned from walkeays.
b) 20% said that there were a few accidents but the number is quite small. We should continue to monitor the situation.
c) 16% said that the riders and e-bikes should be licensed.
d) 2% said that the speed is not fast. The rider can be expected to be careful.

A total of 81% said that the use of e-bikes on walkways should be banned or restricted.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Are we already a smart nation?

The minister in charge of the Smart Nation project said that we are already a smart nation. He quoted many new initiatives that have been implemented.

Do you agree with him?

Give your vote in

Long queue at opening of Gong Cha outlet

The tea outlet Gong Cha operated in Singapore previously but closed its operation on termination of its franchise agreement.

It reopened recently. It first outlet attracted a long queue with people waiting for many hours in the queue.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Is it good for people to queue for many hours at the opening of the Gong Cha outlet?

Here are the votes.

a) 33% said that the long queue generate publicity.
b) 24% said that we should look for a better system to handle the queue more efficiently.
c) 22% said the the people enjoyed queuing. It is a good way to pass the time.
d) 20% said that it might generate quarrels when some people perceive that other people are breaking the queue.

A total of 55% is happy with the current arrangement while 45% prefer a new arrangement to spread the crowd.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Police action agains illegal brothels

The police took strong actions taken by the police in conducting raids on illegal brothels.

Do you agree with the actions taken by the police?

Give your vote in

Recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Isreal

President Trump has now recognized Jerusalem as capital of Isreal. A few countries have issued statements against this decision. Riots have occurred in a few countries.

Will this decision lead to more problems ahead? Will there be more acts of terrorism?

Give your vote in

A strong fight between Comfort Taxis and Grab

We are likely to see a strong fight between Comfort Taxis and Grab for control over the taxi and rides market. Is this competition good for the public that uses the transport?

Give your vote in

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