Saturday, August 04, 2018

Avoid investing in these durian trees

My friend told me that a company from the UK had been set up to develop 10,000 acres of land for planting the Musang King durian in Gua Musang.

I recalled that Gua Musang is the constituency under Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in Kelantan.

I wondered how they are going to market the Musang King durain (Mao San Wang) when it is in bloom. It will flood the market.

My friend said that they intend to export the durians and the overseas market is big. I still have my doubts.

I researched on Google and found this website,

I clicked on Product and found that they are selling the trees. It is like selling the teak wood trees. They are adopting the same model.

The developer makes the money by selling the trees to the investors. The investors take the market risk - whether they can sell the durians to earn a return on their investment.

This product is risky. I would not invest in the trees.

WOTC - Policy options

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:
Which policy option do you prefer?

Here are the responses:
38 % - Abolish GST
30 % - Ensure that locals can get jobs.
23 % - Provide affordable housing
9 % - Introduce a minimum wage law.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Minimum wage law

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:
Should Singapore introduce a minimum wage law?

Here are the responses:
77 % - It ensures that all workers each wage sufficient to meet the cost of living
11 % - It will reduce inequality.
9 % - It will increase the cost of living.
4 % - It pays too much for bad workers

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Impact of tariff

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:
is trade tariff bad?

Here are the responses:
42 % - It disrupt global trade.
29 % - It allows the government to protect jobs of local workers.
22 % - It is better than GST
7 % - It should be considered as a form of tax to generate government revenue

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Remove linkage to Internet

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:
Do you agree with the decision of SingHealth to remove the connection to the Internet?

Here are the responses:
36 % - It is an over-reaction to the hacking problem.
34 % - It is necessary to preserve the privacy of the patient data.
30 % - It causes disruption to the normal daily work.
0 % - The information that was stolen was not critical.

See the pie chart at:

Friday, August 03, 2018

Difficult to find the solution to this manpower contradiction

The PAP government is in a dilemma. They have to control the inflow of workers to make sure that they do not take over the jobs of Singaporeans.

But many employers need workers and could not get Singaporeans to take up these jobs, due to low wages. But these employers could not afford to pay higher wages as they cost of doing business is too high.

Due to shortage of workers, many businesses could not expand. Some cannot even operate.

As an example, we can see many construction jobs being delayed due to shortage of workers.

Many retain and food outlets advertised for workers, but they could not find any taker.

How can the PAP minister and the top civil servants solve this dilemma? They can't. It is a problem with contradictions. In spite of the high pay, they cannot find a solution.

What can be done about it?

I believe that one needs to look at the root cause and to deal with them, in order to get the solution.

Any suggestions?

Misappropriation of customer deposit

Most people are unhappy with the behavior of the shared bike operator who has used the customer deposit to repay off the loan.

While this may or may not be fraudulent, it is morally wrong. The customers' deposits are intended for that purpose, as a deposit to be used to pay the operator for legitimate charges owned by the customer.

The misappropriation of the deposit by the operator should be treated as fraudulent. The authority should act against this fraud, in a similar manner as they are expected to do when someone commits a crime.

There is the crime called cheating. It occurs when someone takes away money from another person on false pretensions. I consider that this misappropriation of the deposit would be considered as cheating.

I wish to see the law enforcement authority take appropriate action against this crime.

It is time for Parliament to set clarity to the law. They should pass a law to make it clear that any money collected on deposit should be used only for that purpose, and cannot be used for other purpose that it was not intended.

In the meantime, the law enforcement authority can take action under the common law of cheating.

Do you agree?

WOTC - Competition commission

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is the Competition Commission doing good work in Singapore?

Here are the responses:
62 % - No. Their actions are inconsistent and confusing
18 % - Yes. They ensure that businesses do not collide to increase prices.
13 % - No. They take action on the wrong business practices.
7 % - Yes. They prevent businesses from having a large market share.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Guidelines on medical fees

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should the Singapore Medical Association be allowed to set guideline for charges by doctors?

Here are the responses:
63 % - Yes. The guidelines are useful to tell consumers the reasonable charges.
26 % - Yes. The guidelines will protect consumers.
7 % - No. This is anti-competition.
4 % - Yes. Provided the guidelines are not mandatory.

See the pie chart at:

Thursday, August 02, 2018

WOTC - Grab Uber merger

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should the merger between Grab and Uber be allowed?

Here are the responses:
64 % - No. Grab will have a dominant share of the taxi booking market.
23 % - Yes. The consumer has other choices of taking taxi, such as at taxi stand or road hail
10 % - Yes. New entrants will come into Singapore
3 % - Yes. The consumer can take public transport

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Privacy and data protection act

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What are your views about the Privacy and Data Protection Act (PDPA)?

Here are the responses:
51 % - It is not effective, as I get the marketing calls and SMS anyway.
31 % - It helped to reduce the unwelcome marketing calls.
14 % - Life was easier in the old days before PDPA.
4 % - I find it troublesome to hear the PDPA message each time that I call a call center.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Low trading volume in SGX

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is the cause of the low trading volume in Singapore?

Here are the responses:
35 % - The practices are outdated
32 % - Singapore is a small country
25 % - The regulations are too strict
8 % - The regulations are too weak

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Trading colume in SGX

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

How can the Singapore Exchange increase its trading volume?

Here are the responses:
40 % - Improve trading links with other exchanges
27 % - Strengthen the regulation to protect investors
21 % - Relax the regulation to encourage a free market
11 % - Invite more companies to list in the exchange

See the pie chart at:

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Free and fair elections

In a democracy, there should be different parties offering manifestos setting out different policies on how the country should be run.

There should be free and fair elections to allow the people to make their choice on the type of government they want.

If the ruling party passes laws that impede the free choice of the people and make the other political parties difficult to compete fairly, it will lead to the incumbent ruling party contining in power for a long time. This will lead to corruption and abuse of power.

It will be bad for the future of the country.


WOTC - Journey of four segments

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is it acceptable for a public transport journey to take up to four segments?

Here are the responses:
49 % - It is all right, provided that the walking distance to make a transfer is short.
26 % - It is better to make the transfer at the same bus stop.
14 % - The transfer from one line to another may take a long walking distance.
11 % - The transfer from bus to train and from train to bus can be quite a distance.

See the pie chart at:

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

WOTC - Climate change

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is climate change a serious issue for the world?

Here are the responses:
69 % - It is a serious issue and every country should act to reduce its impact.
25 % - It is somewhat important but the proponents have exaggerated its impact.
3 % - The younger people are most worried about the harm to the environment.
2 % - I have no idea what this issue is about.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Allow immigration

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should Singapore allow immigration?

Here are the responses:
43 % - Yes. For jobs that Singaporeans do not wish to have.
22 % - No. The immigration will lead to other jobs being taken away.
22 % - No. The immigrants do not have to serve National Service, while local males have to.
13 % - Yes. We need more people to create a vibrant economy.

See the pie chart at:

Monday, July 30, 2018

Meet the People session

40 years ago, I helped my MP in the Meet the People session. I set up the system of getting case writers to interview the resident and write down the facts of the case, before they meet the MP.

The usual cases were request to get a earlier allocation for a HDB flat, request to get approval to give residence for a foreign spouse, request for a job, request for a hawker stall and request for a place in the school.

After a few months, it was clear that the exercise was a waste of time. The civil servants were rigid in implementing the government policies, and were unwilling to make any exception. The appeal through the MP usually resulted in a "No" answer.

The residents were generally appreciated that the MP tried to put forward their case. Some came back repeatedly to appeal. The MP usually obliged - it is easier than sending them away.

40 years had passed. I understand that the practice remains the same. Nothing changed. It continued to be a wasteful exercise. Maybe it has the value of public relations for the MP.

Goals for the next general election

I wish to suggest that voters look for the political party that can best meet the following five most important goals:

a) Reduce cost of living, e.g. abolish GST
b) Ensure locals can get jobs, e.g. reserve public sector jobs for locals, no outsourcing
c) Provide affordable housing, e.g. rental or short lease.
d) Give better return on CPF savings and allow full withdrawal by 65.
e) Listen to the people and address their concerns, e.g. full time MPs, more debate in Parliament.

There are other goals, but I have listed the five most important ones.

Do you agree with these goals?

WOTC - National Service

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What are your views about the current NS reservist duty?

Here are the responses:
46 % - It can be cut short by half of the time; currently much time is wasted
26 % - The current system is too costly and large wasteful
17 % - It is necessary to maintain our military competency.
11 % - It should be scrapped; the reservist can be called back for refresher in terms of hostility.

See the pie chart at:

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Giant fans to keep cool

I congratulation Resort World Sentosa for installing the giant fans in the outdoor area called the Forum. It keeps the place cool. The glass shade also keeps out the direct sun and make the place bright.

I hope that this feature is cost effective and can be replicated in other parts of Singapore.

Run the country on the correct goals

I quoted an example of a wasteful and efficient practice.
Someone commented - this is not an election issue, so do not bother about it.
Considering this comment, I have now found the reason why Singapore has become very noncompetitive, inefficient and costly.
The PAP government has been approaching matters from the wrong perspective.
They ask the question - will this affect the election outcome?
They should be asking the right question - how can we make Singapore more competitive, and life better for the people.
I am convinced that we have the wrong government, and that the country has been run for the past few decades on the wrong goals.

Fund CareShield Life through payroll tax

There is a lot of controversy about the premium rates for CareShield Life.

Some of the arguments are:

a) Should females be required to pay a higher rate compared to males?

b) Why should this scheme be compulsory?

c) Is the premium rate too high?

d) Are the claim criteria too stringent?

e) Why should the compulsory nature apply only to younger people? Are the older people being denied?

f) Is the government creating the scheme to make profit for itself?

This controversy is inherent in the nature of the scheme - a compulsory scheme that has to be fully paid through contributions (except for means tested subsidies).

What is a better approach?

It is better for the compulsory scheme to be paid through payroll tax, e.g. 0.5% of the payroll.

Compulsory insurance and payroll tax

The people in charge in the government is quite short sighted. They only want to reduce the cost to the government without considering the cost to the country.

I wish to quote the example of compulsory worker's insurance. The government mandated that all workers should be covered for this compulsory insurance and the employer must buy the insurance from the private market.

When a contractor quote for a project, they have to add the cost of insurance to be paid by the owner. This is part of the cost of the contract. The contractor has to buy the insurance separately for this contract. This adds to the cost of negotiating the insurance, which is part of the cost of doing business.

A better approach is for the insurance cost to be covered automatically from payroll tax, say at 0.5% of the wages. This approach can be adopted for all forms of compulsory insurance, including health insurance. Most countries adopt this approach.

The approach adopted in Singapore is inefficient and increase the cost of doing business. Due to five decades of neglect, our cost of doing business is now among the highest in the world. This is probably reflected by the very cost of living in Singapore.

WOTC - A non-PAP government

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:
Are you prepared to have a non-PAP government within 10 years?

Here are the responses:
44 % - I will accept a non-PAP government only if they have credible leaders
33 % - I prefer a non-PAP government as soon as possible.
20 % - I am now confident of a change of government following what happened in Malaysia.
4 % - It is better to stick to a PAP government and hope they will change their policies.

96% are prepared to accept a non-PAP government.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Stolen information

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Are you worried about the information stolen from SingHealth database?

Here are the responses:
50 % - The information is private and can cause a lot of harm.
37 % - We need to take the necessary precautions, but we should not exaggerate the damage.
7 % - The information is generally available from other sources. This is not a serious issue.
6 % - The issue is blown out of proportion. What can the criminal do with the information?

See the pie chart at:

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