Friday, May 11, 2018

A high standard of transparency and accountability

The new prime minister of Malaysia is setting a high standard of transparency and accountability.

He wants the head of major government agencies to be vetted and approved by Parliament.

This is a much better arrangement that that adopted in Singapore. In the past, we do not know how the key appointments were made. Presumably, they were made on the decision of the prime minister or the cabinet.

After the constitution was changed to have an elected President, the key appointments were supposed to have the concurence of the elected President acting on the advice of the Council of Presidential Advisers. What we have in practice is a President that came into office without a contest and an unelected Council of Presidntial Advisers. The deliberations of the President and Council were made in secret.

It seems that most of the appointments made in Singapore over the years came from a close circle of people. I shall not called them "elites" or "cronies".

I wish all the best to Malaysia. I hope that you have a better system that Singapore can emulate.

Tan Kin Lian

Need more money to help the elderly?

The government said that they need to raise GST to get money to help the elderly. I do not believe it. Here is an extract of my speech on Budget 2018.

You can watch the full speech here:

Alternative May Day event

Gilbert Goh organised an indoor event on May Day. He invited a few people to speak at the event.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - What are your views of the alternative May Day event organised by Gilbert Goh?

51% of the respondents said that it is good to hear alternative views in the social media and youtube.

41% said that they wish to see more people come forward to speak on important issues.

9% were negative.

See the breakdown of the votes and the pie chart in

Should Dr. Mahathir be charged under the fake news law?

Dr. Mahathir said that his plane might be sabotaged to prevent him from getting to Langkawi to register his candidacy. He was being investigated under the fake news law.

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should Dr. Mahathir be charged under the fake news law for his allegation about sabotage of his plane?

42% of the respondents said the fake news law is being used to intimidate him.

21% said that it is a reasonable suspicion.

21% said that he has made an unjustified allegation.

15% said that he could easily prove that the plane was delayed due to a fault.

See the breakdown of the votes and the pie chart in

Will the High Speed Rail be delayed?

Will Tun Mahathir, as the new prime minister of Malaysia, delay or cancel the High Speed Rail between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur?

I expect him to delay this project. If he does it, I will understand that this decision is not taken against Singapore.

Malaysia has serious financial problems. The new government had promised to abolish the GST (but Tun had said that they will reinstate the previous sales tax). This is still a considerable loss of revenue for the government.

I agree with the decision to abolish GST, because it is a bad and wasteful tax and had caused considerable hardship to the people.

So, it will make sense for the government to delay the High Speed Rail until the finances of Malaysia are stronger.

However, there is a chance that he might proceed with the project. It is an important infrastructure that will lead to the development of Malaysia. Most developed countries have a high speed train network.

There are two ways for the new government to manage the funding of this project.

a) They can issue bonds for private investors to provide the funding. The bonds can be guaranteed by the government, so that the interest payable can be modest.

b) They can control the money that is spent on the infrastructure. There is no need for the project to be so expensive. I expect that it can be reduced by 30% to 50% (this is just a guess). At a lower cost, it should be possible to make the project viable and for the train fares to be affordable.

I know that most countries overspend on their infrastructure. They pay more than is necessary. The overspending is due to lax control. By following the wrong specification (which are recommended by the consultants), the project cost is inflated.

There is also a tendency to favor cronies in the consultancy and construction fields. The cronies will give someback back in return. This is the nature of large scale projects in most countries.

If a country can have a better system to manage the cost, it should be possible to bring down the project cost by 30% to 50%.

My statement applies to Singapore as well. For example, Singapore recently bought 17 trains for $250 million. I worked out that the cost per cabin (each train has 3 to 6 cabins) is $3.6 million. I asked - why do we have to pay $3.6 million for a cabin?

I believe that it should be possible to get a train cabin for half of this cost, and meet the expected standard of safety and reliability, perhaps without the unnecessary luxury.

Managing cost is largely a matter of applying common sense and asking the right questions to the consultants, who are the real experts. These consultants need to be managed, so that they do not write the specifications to favor their friends.

I now come back to the High Speed Rail. I hope that the Tun Mahathir can introduce changes that will bring down the cost of the project considerably and make it viable for the project to be funded by private investors.

The High Speed Rail is important for the development of Malaysia. It will also encourage more travel between the people of both countries and will help to strengthen understanding and friendship. .

Tan Kin Lian

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Helping locals to get skilled jobs

This is my third suggestion on how to get jobs for Singaporeans, i.e. skilled jobs. It is an extract of a speech that I gave on May Day 2018.

You can view the full speech here

Lessons from Harapan.

The Pakatan Harapan comprise of several parties with quite different policies and personalities.

Yet, they can get together to form an effective alliance to topple the Barisan Nasional.

Can our oppostion parties, which are much weaker, get together?

We have to learn from Harapan on how this can be achieved. Tun M gave a hint. He said that all the component parties of Harapan sign a pledge to observe the constitution, including the special rights of the Malays. This was enough to bold them together.

Our political parties can also hold the same pledge to original constitution of Singapore, prior to the changes during the past three decades. They can pledge to restore that original constitution.

They can also pledge to support certain policy platforms. I suggest the following:

a) Abolish GST
b) Revert to single member constituencies
c) Reserve public sector jobs for locals
d) Allow extention of HDB leases by paying a modest fee.
e) Allow CPF to be withrawn in full at 65.
f) Reduce full time NS to 1 year.

What are your views?

The rakyat are not stupid

The strong support for Harapan in Penang and Selangor shows that the rakyat (people) can see the difference between a corrupt and an honest administration.

The chief ministers and administration in these two states showed the rakyat what can be done when the state is governed property to benefit the people.

The rakyat are not stupid.

I am not sure about the people in Singapore. They are well educated but may be politically immature, or scared to make a change.

Unexpected upset in Malaysia General Election

The scale of the upset in the Malaysian General Election was totally unexpected. What were the key factors?

In my earlier posts, I identified the following:
GST and cost of living.
Split of Malay votes to three parties.
Social media
Tun Mahathir.

Still, I could not foresee the scale of the swing.

A future leader in Malaysia

I expect the new Deputy PM of Malaysia to be Azmin Ali. He may be appointed immediately or within a year or two.

I am very impressed with his values and performance. He is humble and work for the rakyat. He led Harapan in Selangor and the alliance won 90% of the state assembly seats.

He will be an excellent future prime minister. I have watched a few videos of the interviews he gave to the media.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

An innovative engineer

I started my May Day talk with a joke about an innovate engineer. I hope you enjoy it.

Here is the link to my full speech.

A journey involving 3 transfers

I visited my grand children at Bukit Timah Road. I took the following trips to return home.

Bus from their home to the nearest MRT station.
Downtown Line to Newton MRT
Change to NE Line to Yio Chu Kang MRT
Bus from MRT station to my home.

The trip requires 3 changes. The whole journey took 1 hour.

It is quite troublesome to change from a bus to the train, but we accept it.

I find it much easier to change from a feedber bus to a trunk bus, as it is done at the same stop. There is no need to walk a long distance to the MRT station.

Do you agree?

Unfair accusation by Charles Chong

The chairman of the Select Committee on the proposed Fake News law, Charles Chong, accused historian Thum Pin Tjin of engineering support for himself by rallying academics to sign the open letter on this matter.

I asked the question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Was Charles Chong fair in accusing Thum Pin Tjin of engineering support for himself?

52% of the respondents said that Charles Chong's accusation was unfair.

48% said that Thum PJ did what was proper and necessary to protect his reputation.

See the breakdown of the votes and the pie chart i n

Reserve public sector jobs for Singaporeans

In my May Day speech, I gave three suggestions on how to ensure that Singaporeans can have jobs. The first suggestion is to reserve all public sector jobs for citizens.

Here is an abstact of the speech.

You can watch the full speech here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Good-bye to Uber

I like to say a special word of good-bye to Uber. They are not longer operating.

This leaves Grab to be the dominant player in the ride booking platform.

A few other players have announced their intention to enter the market. However, it will be tough for them to compete with Grab, which now holds a dominant position.

I do not complaint about the virtual monopoly that Grab holds in this space.

As a rider, I have the choice of taking a bus or taking a taxi at the stand or on the road. I can also call the taxi company at their call center and book a ride.

I know that I can also book a ride using the app provided by the taxi company, such as Comfort. However, their app is likely to be difficult to use. So, it will be back to their call center.

I can still call Grab for my monthly trip to the airport. if their price is more than the taxi fare, I will call the taxi company.

I still have the choice of asking a family member to drive me to the airport, right?

I do not think that Grab can make a lot of profit from their dominant market position. The riders have their choice. The drivers also have their choice.

We will now be watching the next phase of the evolution of this market place.

Tan Kin Lian

Getting and keeping a job

Here is an extract of my May Day speech addressing the problems faced by Singaporeans in getting and keeping a job.

You can watch the full speech at

Budget 2018 - Why we can get rid of GST

In this extract of my speech, I explain how we can get rid of GST and still have a healthy budget.

You can watch the full speech at

Reduce inequality in Singapore

President Halimah said that the government's priority is to reduce the inequality in Singapore.

Is this for real? Or is this just another wayang?

Are they serious about reducing inequality? We are very unequal, like the USA. It has been the trend for a few decades.

Can we reduce inequality by following the same government policies that created them?

We import cheap foreign workers to keep wages low and create uncertainty of jobs for citizens.

We allow housing prices to grow to unaffordable levels. Even "subsidised" HDB flats take a long time, maybe 25 years, to pay the mortgage and it takes away a large part of the income.

We need to change many policies to achieve the goal of reducing inequality. Otherwise, it is just another wayang.

Listen to the views of the people

In her address to Parliament, President Halimah asked the 4G leaders to listen to the views of the people.

I wonder - is this possible?

Most of them are ex-generals who spent their entire military career giving orders to soldiers below them. The soldiers have to follow orders and not give any views.

Would it be easier to ask a deaf person to listen?

Is it good for Singapore to host the Trump Kim summit?

The media speculates that the Trump Kim summit may be held in Singapore.

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Is it good for Singapore to host the Trump Kim summit?

39% of the respondents said that we do not need this publicity.

28% said that it will put Singapore on the world map.

22% said it will cause trouble for us ahead.

11% said that it will boost tourism.

Positive - 61%. Negative - 39%.

See the chart and breakdown of the votes in

North Korea's nuclear program

The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, recently announced that North Korea will give up its nuclear program. It was unexpected.

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Why does Kim Jong Un decide to give up his nuclear programme?

49% of the respondents said that he was not able to sustain the program.

24% said that he has now consolidated his power and can take a new path.

14% said that he has already developed his nuclear weapons.

12% said he wanted to bring peace and prosperity to North Korea.

See the pie chart and breakdown of the votes in

Next prime minister of Malaysia

Malaysia is holding its general election on May 9.

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Who do you prefer to be the next prime minister of Malaysia

Here are the votes:

Dr Mahathir - 43%
Anwar Ibrahim - 31%
Wan Azizah - 17%
Najib Razak - 9%

See the pie chart and breakdown of the votes in

Monday, May 07, 2018

Rental of hawker stalls

I spoke to a hawker stall operator in Bishan North Food Center. He operates half a stall and pays a rental of $5,000 a month. This means $10,000 for a full size stall.

I searched the rental rate for a hawker stall during the 1970s. I was surprised. The subsidised rental was $200 a month. For a non-subsidised, it was $1,250 a month.

See this report…/Economic-Survey-of-Sin…/FA_1Q15.pdf

Sure, 40 years have passed. If we factor in an increase of 2% p.a. the rental should go up 2.2 times.

So, the rental in 2018 should be $450 for a subsidised stall and $2,750 for a non-subsidised stall.

The current rental of $10,000 reflects the "rentier capitalism" that is operated by Lee HL. The difference goes to the government and to the middleman.

This is really very sad. We have to vote for a change in the government. This is the only way to change a bad government policy.

No need to get a degree?

The ministers are now saying that there is no need for people to get a degree.

Their statements are greeted with derision and disbelief by the public. Most people say that employers look for candidates with a degree.

We are talking about different situations.

There are many jobs that require a degree. If you wish to go for these jobs, go and get a degree. Better still, get a degree from a good university. Many employers do not accept a degree from a private university that they consider to be below standard.

Remember. These jobs are highly competitive. There is only a limited supply of these jobs. If there are too many graduates applying for these jobs, your chance of getting the job will be slim, if you do not have a good degree from a good university.

There are many other jobs that do not require a degree. These jobs require skills and work experience. These are jobs in the service industry, such as hotels, restaurants, tourism, hospital, nursing homes, pre-school education, etc.

If you do not have the skill and work experience, you will not get these jobs.

If you are not academically strong, you should look for these non graduate jobs and work to get the skills and experience. You can still continue your study on a part time basis.

Many people overlook the fact that it takes three to four years to get a degree. This is the time that can be spent to get skills and work experience. Time is precious. If you spend your time on a degree, it has to be at the expense of skills and work experience, especially in the critical initial years.

The people in the western countries have a better and more practical approach. Many of them come out to work and get the skills and work experience. They still have the choice of going for full time study and get a degree, if it is more suitable for them.

If they wish to continue in a non-graduate job, they can still continue their education on a part time basis. It is the best of both worlds.

There is a change in government policy that can help people to make this switch. They have to get the employers to pay more for the non-graudate jobs.

The government can set a good example by paying more for the non-graduate jobs in the public sector. This will set the benchmark for the private employers.

The private employers will still want to employ foreign workers to reduce their cost. They cannot afford to pay high wages for the non-graduate jobs, as their business is struggling to survive.

The government should give a wage subsidy to the private employers when they employ locals to take up these jobs. With better wages, more locals will be willing to take up these jobs. The private employers can afford to pay the higher wages, when they get a subsidy.

In the western countries, the difference in pay for a graduate and a skilled worker is about 10%. The gap is not 50%, which is quite common in Singapore.

I wish to add a final word that it is the low wage, and not the prestige, that makes people avoid the non-graduate jobs.

Many people are willing to work as taxi drivers and private hire drivers, right? Even graduates are willing to take up these jobs, right?

Why? Because they can earn a good income, even though it is not an office job or a prestigious job. Yes, the earnings make the difference.

If the government wishes to get a better balance in the work force and distribute the workers more evenly between the graduate and non-graduate jobs, they have to address the root cause of this mismatch. Agree?

Tan Kin Lian

Should the polar bear Inuka be put to sleep?

Recently, the Singapore Zoo put the polar bear Inuka to sleep for "humane reasons". Is this the real reason?

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should the Zoo put the polar bear Inuka to sleep?

43% of the respondents said that the Zoo should have treated him and let him die from old age.

37% said it is a humane way to relieve him of his pain.

20% said the Zoo was finding an excuse to cut down the cost of his upkeep.

You can view the pie chart in

Should euthanasia be allowed in Singapore?

The polar bear Inuka was put to sleep as a humane way to relieve him of his pain. Should this option be given to humans?

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should euthansia be allowed?

36% of the respondents said that it should be allowed after going through safeguards.

36% said that a person should be allowed to depart through euthanasia rather than commit suicide.

27% said that it should be banned for two reasons.

See the pie chart of the votes in

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Jobs for Singaporeans

Dear Sir,
I have watch the youtube video of the speech on behalf of Singaporeans. Ut good that you have highlight to the Singaporeans,why the government are not doing something to help the citizen.

I belong to PMET which it hard to get job, I went to the seek help to from the repective department .And they advice me to upgrade or switch Career,

I take the advice to switch career and even take up course in HealthCare . I graduate certificate issued by WDA, I apply for job in Healthcare and was call up for interview, during the interview, the interviewer know my age 58 are not keen to take me, from their body language i can see that the interviewer giving excuse and mention i have no healthcare expericence and i not from the particular school which they are looking for.

As what i see the healthcare sector are looking for employee yet the mindest is not change where can singaporean get job.

The above share you what i this healthcare sector.

There is demand in the health care sector.
Don't give up.
Try to apply for a few more jobs.
I hope that you will become successful.

Direct your anger against the PIP

Rachel Ash said:
Mr Tan.
As much as many do not want the Chinese Nationals to step foot on their own shores BUT they greed for their economic dollars. Logically, there are billions of Chinese and just how many native Singaporeans are there today, the immigration/tourist impact of the former can be clearly seen.
I wondered why citizens are so focal against foreign nationals. The foreign nationals cannot sneaking in to Singapore without being caught (sneaking out is OK by our authorities - eg Mas Selamat but the only requirement is the use of empty plastic water bottles).
Then how did they come in invading all strata of our society. Taking away our bus driver's job, retail sales job including the service industry.
Many would be surprise by the number of new Chinese members in SICC. Don't believe just go on weekends and see for oneself.
These foreign nationals can only COME in either as visitors or permanent residents or new citizens BECAUSE our authorities allow them to come in with wide open arms.
So it is time to stop punishing the foreign nationals BUT instead direct your anger to authorities.

OK. I will direct my anger against the PIP (people in power). They are not doing their job to take care of the citizens of Singapore.

A bad development

When I moved into Cactus Crescent, there was a row of shop houses and coffee shops at the junction of Cactus Road. The eating houses were popular. They served the nearby community.

The shop houses and residential flats were sold enbloc and torn down for redevelopment. The new project took five years to complete. During this time, the neighborhood were deprived of the coffee shops and convenience store.

The new project, called Flora Vista, was completed last October. It had 30 shop units.

After 8 months, only 3 shop units were operational (apart from a pre-school). These are a cafe, Indian restaurant and a small convenience store. About 15 units are still vacant. The preschool occupied about 10 units.

The commercial facilities are inadequate for the neighborhood.

Has the qualify of life improved for the neighborhood? No, it has not. But the cost has increased sharply. Due to inefficiency and poor planning, we are getting more expensive and less useful.

Welcome to Singapore.

Working on short term passes

My friend bought a landed terrace house in a double gated community in Johor Bahru. It was half empty a few years after completion.

Recently, he saw several of the houses tenanted out. The occupants were young people from China who came to Malaysia to work in e-commerce. Many young people occupy one house.

He suspect that they are on social visit pass and work without permit. They might work renew the pass a few times, and then return to China. The next batch of young people can come to work in Malaysia.

This is the modern way of working overseas.

I suspect that many foreigners re working in Singapore in a similar fashion. They are probably working here while on social visit or student pass.

Karl Max 200th anniversary

China can be a positive example of what Marxism can do to uplift the lives of the people. It is a better alternative to capitalism.

TKL's view:
Capitalism - selfish, greed, wide income gap.
Marxism - society, solidarity, fraternity, welfare of the people

Engineer support

The people in power accused Thum PJ of engineering support for himself.
Hey, what is wrong with this action?
We all have to engineer support for your point of view, right?
If we are dumb, who will know about our views?
is the right to engineer support only available to certain people in power?
These people already have the advantage of the mainstream media to speak out their point of view - do they want to exclude other people totally from voicing alternative views?

Should CPF members be allowed to withdraw their savings at 55

For a few years, many members have asked for the right to withdraw their CPF savings at age 55.

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should members be allowed to withdraw all their CPF savings at 55?

50% of the respondents said yes, that was what was promised to them at the start.

27% said that they should be given the option to withdraw all their savings at 65, if they wish to.

13% said that they should be allowed to take out 50% of their savings at age 65.

10% said that they should be required to set aside a minimum sum to be taken out in installments.

See the pie chart at

Is Medisave a good scheme?

Medisave was introduced in April 1984. It required CPF members to set aside a part of their savings that can be used only for medical expenses.

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Is Medisave a good scheme?

44% said no, basic medical expenses should be paid out of taxation and not personal savings.

27% said yes, it allows CPF members to use their savings to pay eligible medical expenses.

18% said no, it has led to the Medisave savings being spent wastefully.

11% said the CPF savings should be reduced and people should pay their medical expenses using cash.

A total of 73% consdier that the Medisave is not a good scheme.

See the pie chart in

Ensure minorities are represented in Parliament

Singapore introduced the GRC system to ensure that minorities will be adequately represented in Parliament.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - How can our system ensure that minorities will be better represented in Parliament?

42% of the respondents said it is better to revert to single member constituencies and allow minorities to be appointed as nominated MPs, if they are not adequately represented.

42% said there is no need to ensure minority representation in Parliament as there is mutual respect among all the ethnic groups.

9% said allow the minorities to elected non-constituency MPs directly.

7% said that it is best done through the GRC system.

A total of 93% said that the GRC system is not a good system to ensure minority representation.

See the chart in

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