Saturday, June 09, 2018

WOTC - Meeting place for Trump Kim summit

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Where will the Trump Kim summit be held in Singapore?

Here are the responses:

36% - Shangrila Hotel
27% - Sentosa
20% - Istana
16% - Marina Bay Sands

The actual site selected is Sentosa.

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Challenge on Pedra Blanca

asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Why did Malaysia withdraw the challenge on the Pedra Blanca ruling?

Here are the responses:

76% - They have too many priorities to handle
17% - They have a weak legal case
5% - They want to build better relations with Singapore
2% - They want to get a long term loan from Singapore

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Friday, June 08, 2018

Monthly allowance for each child

I had proposed that the state gives a monthly allowance of $500 for each child up to the age of 16 years, subject to a maximum of 3 children per family.

Someone asked me if this benefit will encourage the wrong people to have children - i.e. those who are not able to take care of the children.

My answer is - yes, but this number will be small. The benefit to the majority, who will raise children properly will probably override the negative aspects.

This is a matter of judgment. It is also a matter of trust in human nature.

If the family is financially adequate, the children are likely to be raised properly.

There will be people who do not take care of their children. These people will still produce the children, even without the financial support.

My view is that we should provide this allowance, considering the positive and negative aspects.

Tan Kin Lian

Uber is not disruptive technology

Most people think that Uber is a disruptive technology. It introduces a new way of booking a ride and reducing the cost of the ride.

An economics professor explained that this is not the case. Uber is taking advantage of a loophole in the regulation.

Most governments regulate the taxi service. They imposed rules on licensing and competence of the drivers, the standard and safety of the vehicle, adequate insurance to cover passengers, etc.

Uber (and Grab in Singapore) uses private cars to bypass these regulations. The vehicles does not need to meet the safety standards. The insurance coverage may be inadequate. The drivers do not need to meet the same licensing requirements.

The professor said that taxi fares can drop significantly if the regulations are relaxed to the same standard as for private cars.

So, Uber is not a disruptive technology. It is a way to bypass the regulatory controls.

Uber does bring an unfair competition to taxi drivers. It has caused the earnings of the regular taxi drivers to drop, while creating employment for private hire drivers.

This kind of disruptive market is not good for the taxi service and the livelihood of the taxi drivers. The only party to benefit is Uber (or in our case Grab), as they can take a large commission from the earnings of the drivers by providing the platform for their operation.

Tan Kin Lian

Organized approach towards feedback

Many people like to give their feedback in Facebook. They are able to share their views and get comments from their regular fans.

But these feedback will respond quickly into thin air and be forgotten.

I have built two platforms for the feedback to be followed more permanently.

#HearMeOut -
Sg Conversation -

The feedbacks are arranged by the organization (i.e. government agency or commercial organization) or by the topic.

You can follow the feedback for a selected organization or topic and the response (hopefully) to the feedback.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Replace three experienced ministers

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Do you agree with PM Lee's decision to replace three experienced ministers

Here are the responses:

39% - I disagree. The new ministers are not capable and experienced.
29% - I agree. The three replaced ministers were not performing well.
18% - I agree. We need new blood.
13% - I disagree. We need experienced ministers in the government.

Agree 47%, disagree 53%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Stress in schools

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - How can the stress be removed from education?

Here are the responses:

43% - Broaden the syllabus away from academic subjects.
34% - Change examination to pass/fail instead of grades.
11% - Educate parents not to pressuer the children.
11% - Remove the competition for scholarships

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Top schools

Do you want to send your child to a "top school"? This is where the problem starts. Why should we have "top schools"? Why can't we treat all schools equally?

See my views in Singapore Conversation.

Deceased CPF member

I have given my views about how CPF should respond to the request of the beneficiaries for information relating to the recent transactions of a deceased member.

It is submitted to the Singapore Conversation platform.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Singapore Conversation


The free ride

I want to explain the concept of "free ride".

Suppose a condo wish to apply for a licence to operate a shuttle bus. The licence is given on condition that a fare of $1 be charged for the ride but any resident should be allowed to take the bus, even if they do not wish to pay the fare, i.e. have a "free ride".

What would happen?

Some residents will enjoy the "free ride" but to cost of running the shuttle service has to pay by the other residents.

It is obvious that this arrangement is unfair to the paying residents and will not be workable.

This is what happens with trade unions.

Workers have to pay a fee to join a trade union. The union negotiate with the employer for better terms of employment. The employer provides the negotiated term to all workers, including the non-unionised members.

Some people decide not to join the union to avoid paying the union fees and to enjoy the benefit of the work done by the union.

This is unfair to the union members, but most governmens tolerate this "free ride" flaw to weaken the trade union.

There are other examples of "free rides" in our society. Can you identify them?

WOTC - Service charge for Grab Hitch

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Is it acceptable for Grab to charge a fee of 10% for using its GrabHitch platform

Here are the responses:
27% - I will move to another platform
25% - It is a fair charge for the service provided
25% - I will boycott this service
23% - I expect Grab to raise the service at a later date

For - 25%, against - 75%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart at

WOTC - CareShield Life

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should CareShield Life be made compulsory?

Here are the responses:
35% - It should be made optional
28% - It should be merged into Medishield Life
28% - It should be provided by the government through tax revenue
9% - It is necessary to be compulsory to provide a large pool.

For - 9%, against 91%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Aztech Group

Someone posted in #HearMeOut ( his anger at the delisting of Aztech Group.

I looked at the share price of Aztech. It dropped from $1 to $0.40 over a period of 6 months prior to its delisting in Feb 2017.

In August 2017, Aztech Group embarked on a share reduction exercise and returned $0.42 per share to the participating shareholders. Details are in this letter.…/AztechGroupLtd_CircularDated0…

The letter stated that the share had been trading at a discount to its NAV (net asset value) prior to the delisting.

Aztech holdings has a history of 30 years. It is quite sad to see that the share price had been performing poorly, although the business seemed to be profitable.

I wonder if this company is suffering from the "Singapore disease" - high cost of doing business, lack of market, etc. This disease seem to be afflicting most small companies in Singapore.

It must be a big struggle for them.

WOTC - High Speed Rail

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Was the High Speed Rail (now cancelled by Malaysia) good for Singapore?

Here are the responses:

42% - The High Speed Rail seem to be not feasible and not necessary for both countries.

33% - It is good for Singapore to have a High Speed Rail to Kuala Lumpur and other cities in Malaysia

13% - The High Speed Rail will cause a lot of infrastructure spending and disruption in Singapore.

11% - It is better for Singapore not to be involved in this project.

For HSR - 33%; Against - 67%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Rapid Transit Link

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Should the Rapid Transit System between Singapore and Johor Bahru proceed?

Here are the responses:

38% - It is good for both Singapore and Malaysia

31% - It will reduce the travel time for workers and visitors

25% - It should be cancelled

6% - It is economically viable

For the RTS - 75%, against - 25%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Reckless spending on infrastructure

Here are the relevant figures to compare the North South Line and the Downtown Line. I took it from the speech by the Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan 14 Nov 2017.

I asked the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to make a comparison between the two lines and highlight the differences. Thirty years separate these two lines and some of the differences are stark, to be expected.

First, the first phase of the North-South Line, cost us around $2.7 billion to build, or $4.4 billion in today's dollars. The Downtown Line cost us close to $21 billion.

The cost per kilometre has gone up from $160 million to $490 million. Each kilometre will therefore cost half a billion dollars - partly due to technology and partly due to inflation.

Second, the North-South Line is about 40 per cent underground while the Downtown Line is completely underground.

Third, the North-South Line has 26 stations, of which eight, or 30 per cent are interchange stations. The Downtown Line has 34 stations, of which 11, or 32 per cent are interchange stations.

Here is my analysis.
The number of stations increased by 30%. All the stations of the Downtown Line are underground.

Allowing for these two factors, I consider that the cost of the Downtown Line should be 2.5 times of the North South Line, i.e. $4.4 X 2.5 = $11 billion.

But we are paying $21 billion for the Downtown Line. It seemed that we are paying 2 times of what it should be, allowing for the points raised by the minister.

I fear that we are spending money on infrastructure quite recklessly. We are paying much more than we should be.

Tan Kin Lian

A balanced approach towards globalisation

I will be attending an ISEAS seminar on the regional trade blocs, i.e. CPTPP and RCEP.

I intend to ask this question to the presenter:

TKL - Mr. Speaker. In your talk, you assumed that free trade and globalisation is good for the world. But we should also consider the negative aspects of globalisation that led to stagnant wages, unemployment, and large inequality in income and wealth?

This has caused a strong reaction and led to the election of Donald Trump in America and the big swing towards Labor in the UK.

Should economists now focus on the negative aspect of globalisation and look for a new arrangement that beneft all the stake holders and not just the big corporations?

WOTC - Goals for people of Singapore

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Which goal is best for the people of Singapore

Here are the responses:

43% - Make the government listen and be accountable
30% - Abolish GST
21% - Priority of jobs for Singaporeans
6% - Clean up HDB/ CPF mess

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Policy changei n CPF/HDB

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - Which policy change do you like to see with CPF/ HDB?

Here are the responses:

55% - Pay higher interest on CPF savings
22% - Allow CPF to be used to buy property with at least 30 years of remaining lease
16% - Reduce CPF contribution should that workers can rent or buy property freely
6% - Allow HDB leases to be extended by 5 or 10 years on expirty.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Review the PDPA Act

I suggest that we review the law on Data Protection & Privacy.

The present law requires organizations to put a message in their call centers that all conversations will be recorded.

This is a really tiresome message. I have heard it several thousand times.

It is time to remove this requirement. The recording can be understood to be a standard practice.

However, there should be limits set on how organizations can use the data.

It is unreasonable to ask the public to give their consent. They have no choice.

Participate in the #HearMeOut platform

I created the platform #HearMeOut for the public to give feedback on government agencies and commercial organizations.

The feedback are on positive and negative aspects of their operations and suggestions to improve their operations and service to the public and customers.

It is an alternative platform to REACH. Many people have commented that REACH does not act on the complaints. They submitted the complaints to government agencies and there was no response.

The #HearMeOut platform operates differently. The feedback for each organization is available for the public to view. The relevant organization can also view the feedback.

If they do not act on the feedback, they will get a bad reputation. It will be known to the public. This will give them the motivation to act on the feedback or give a response. They can reply to the same platform.

The platform can be accessed at

I urge the public to be active in using this platform. By your participation, we can make the government and commercial organizations act to improve their opertions and service.

Tan Kin Lian

Limits on use of Medisave

The government sets limits on the use of Medisave for outpatient treatment for cancer and other critical illness.

I suggest that the limit should be removed for treatment in a public hospital or other approved facility.

In giving approval, the government should negotiate with the facility on the charges to be imposed for each treatment.

This approach will relieve the financial burden on the patient and also set control over the charges.

I do not like the cap that is set by the government on the use of Medisave as the patient does not have any choice but to foot the difference.

Tan Kin Lian

Provide adequate wage to reduce inequality

The best way to reduce inequality is to pay adequate wages to all workers, regardless of occupation.

The adequate wage should be set at a level that is commensurate with the cost of living.

It is usually called the "minimum wage".

In America, there is a move to set the minimum wage at UD$15 an hour, or SGD 18.

The cost of living in Singapore is higher than in America. Our current wage of $6 an hour is grossly inadequate. It should be increased.

If all workers can earn a decent living wage, they can afford to raise a family and provide for the cost of educating their children.

There are enough jobs in Singapore for citizens. We should make sure that they are employed first, before employing foreigners.

Citizens do not take up some kinds of jobs because the pay is inadequate. We should raised the wages for these jobs so that they ar adequate to attract citizens. We should not employ foreigners to take up jobs that can and should be done by citizens.

Tan Kin Lian

Avoid unhealthy competition in schools

Let us stop the unhealthy competition in schools to get the best results and to give a huge monetary reward (i.e. scholarship and a lucrative government job to scholars) for the top students.

Instead, the focus on education should be to build a person who is literate, numerate, have social skills and good character.

We should set a syllabus that builds this goal and allow time for the children to enjoy learning, to develop innovation and creativity through discovery and enjoy their childhood and school life and make friends.

We still want the students to learn and pass the examinations, but the hurdle should be set at a moderate level, and not an exceedingly high level.

Tan Kin Lian

Monday, June 04, 2018

Speak out - give your feedback

Many people accept all kinds of bad treatment from the government or businesses, without lodging a strong protest.

My anger at the verification of my pledge to the Singapore Heart Foundation is an example of this bad treatment. Even when I make a pledge to donate to charity, I get the "officious treatment".

There are many examples of inconsiderate practices. The poor signage in MRT stations is another example.

Don't worry. There is a place for you to lodge your feedback. You can do it here:

Get into the habit of speaking out against bad practices and inconsiderate behavior. When more people speak out, the government agencies and business organizations will have to pay attention.

If you voice the feedback in Facebook, it will disappear after a few days. If you voice it in the #HearMeOut platform, it will stay there for a long time.

The government agency or business organization cannot hope that people will forget about your "negative feedback".

Tan Kin Lian

Council of Elders

If a new government is elected in Singapore and the government appoint a Council of Elders to advice the inexperienced ministers, this is how the council will work.

1. The council will comprise of people who are older and have experience in their respective fields. For example, they could be former civil servants and business leaders or government ministers.

2. The ministers can seek the views of the council. The council can also ask questions on the policy decisions of the ministers. The exchange of views will ensure that the policy decisions are well though out.

3. The final decision will be made by the minister, but their interaction with the council will ensure that their proposals are well thought through. This process also ensures that there is transparency in the decision making.

4. The council can form sub-committees to deal with different aspects of the government policies.

5. This process is different from the approval by the elected president or the council of presidential advisers. My proposed council will help to study the policy decisions as they are being formulated. It is different from giving the approval of the final decisions.

Please share your views.

WOTC - Council of Elders for Singapore

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd: Should Singapore appoint a Council of Elders to advise the ministers?

Here are the responses:
49% - The ministers will benefit from the advice of the more experienced elders.
28% - We need the ministers to act boldly to make changes to existing policies
14% - The elders are out of date and will not be useful
9% - The decisions of the ministers will be more acceptable to the public

Yes - 58%, No - 42%

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

WOTC - Cancellation of High Speed Rail

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - If Malaysia wishes to cancel the High Speed Rail, what should Singapore do?

Here are the responses:

56% - Suggest that the project be delayed by 10 years and review at that time.
24% - Waive the compensation as a gesture of goodwill
12% - Insist on compensation as provided in the agreement
8% - Offer to fund the project as it cost less than 1 MRT line in Singapore

See the breakdown of the votes and pie chart in

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Patient on life support system

Twp parents of children who are critically ill refused to give permission to turn off the life support system, resulting in large financial expense for themselves and for the state.

What can be done about this situation? Who should bear the expenses? Can the hospital turn off the life support system if the parents cannot pay the bills?

We do not want money to be the key determinent of this kind of decisions. What other approach can be taken?

Oftentimes the parents or family members cannot take this decision. It is too hard for them. Somebody must take the decision on their behalf.

I suggest the following approach. The parents or family members have a say up to one year. Beyond that date, the state or hospital will have a say. The law can be passed to allow the hospital to determine if the patient should continue to be on life support system.

What are your views?

Challenges for Singapore Exchange

I met a remisier. He told me that he had left the industry. The volume for trading was too low. His commission earnings was miserable. Many other remisiers had left.

The remisier said that there are too many restrictions in the Singapore exchange.

I told him that many investors lost money on the S chips from China. They were badly managed.

The problem was that the regulation on the S chips were too loose. He agreed.

We seem to have the wrong approach towards regulation. We are too loose in some areas and too strict in other areas. We seem to be contradictory.

Recently, someone decided to list her company in Hong Kong. They have a more active market. The Singapore market is poor.

Wrong government policies

I asked a few people - what is wrong with the policies pursued by the current government?

Here are the key findings:

1. Neo liberal policies. Focus on business to the detriment of the welfare of ordinary people. Wide income gap. Depressed wages and high cost of living.

2. Appointing wrong people to head the government. People without experience, incompetent, arrogant.

3. Free flow of foreigners into Singapore. Depress wages. Cause locals to be retrenched.

4. Don't listen to the people. They find solutions in their ivory tower. Impractical. Not workable.

Do you agree?

WOTC - Trump Kim Summit

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd a week ago - Will the Trump - Kim summit be held in Singapore on 12 June 2018?

Here are the responses:

47% - Yes. Both sides are keen to hold it here
26% - No. It will be held at a later date
21% - No. The summit will not be held at all.
7% - No. It will be held at another place.

Yes - 47%; no- 53%.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Will Go Jek do well in Singapore

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Will Go Jek do well in Singapore?

Here are the responses:

39% - They will succeed and be an active competitor to Grab
31% - They will fail, like Uber
22% - They will struggle and Grab will buy them over
8% - They will change their mind and not come into Singapore

Yes - 39%; no- 61%

See the breakdown of the votes in

Employ locals as nurses

Do we want more nurses from India to work in our hospitals? Should we get locals to be nurses?

In this video extract, I explain how we can get more locals to work as nurses.

You can watch the full speech in

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