Saturday, August 11, 2018

George, God and TCB

There was a big flood. George climbed to the roof of his house. A man rowed a boat to take him away.

George declined. He trusted that God would take care of him. He stayed on the roof.

One hour later, the water rose. Another man came with a speedboat. George trusted God and stayed on the roof.

One hour later, the water rose to the top of the roof. Another man came with a helicopter, and rope. George remained steadfast in his trust of God.

George drowned.

When he went to heaven, he complained to God. All my life I believed in you. I trusted that you would take care of me. You let me drown.

God replied - I already sent you two boats and a helicopter.

Back to Singapore. For the people who think like George and have been asking for the non-PAP parties to unite, they have already joined the TCB coalition. What more do you want?

How to make an enemy

Lee HL made a strategic mistake. He could have just let TCB contest and win the Presidential Election.

Instead, he changed the constitution to bar him from contesting. Now, he has to face TCB coalition in the next general election.

TCB served PAP loyally for a few decades Why does Lee HL have to fear him being the president?

WOTC - Members of Parliament

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should MPs be well educated professionals and business leaders?

Here are the responses: (53 Votes)
57 % - They are too busy with their full time work and cannot perform their duty as MPs well.
40 % - We need more diversity in Parliament from people of different backgrounds.
4 % - They are better respected by the voters
0 % - They can make better decisions in Parliament.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Senior positions in government

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should we appoint top scholars to senior positions in government?

Here are the responses: (54 Votes)
59 % - They do not understand the real issues facing the people.
35 % - They look after their self interest.
6 % - It is a meritocratic system.
0 % - They are the most capable in running the country.

See the pie chart at:

Friday, August 10, 2018

People in power

There are two types of people - those who take care of themselves and their wealth and those who take care of the welfare of others.

The first type are able to earn more than 1 million dollars annually, if they are capable. The other type are capable but they earn a more modest income.

If the first type are people in power, they will manage the system to preserve their power and privilelge and pass them to their children. They are the elites.

It is sad that Singapore is being led by people of the first type. The future for the ordinary people is bleak.

It is better to have the second type to lead Singapore.

Do you agree?

What makes a good minister?

ESM Goh Chok Tong made the following points about picking government ministers:

a) The person must already been earning more than $500,000 - otherwise, he or she is considered as "mediocre".
b) Salary is not the starting point for looking for ministers.

Although salary is not the starting point, he must have already ruled out anyone who earns less than $500,000 as that person is "mediocre".

If salary is not the criteria, what is the criteria?

Apparently, the criteria seemed to be that the person must have held a top position in the military, civil service, profession or a big company.

It seems that leadership is quite important - I agree. But the selection process seemed to lack two key elements:

a) Values and beliefs - what does the minister believe in? Is he pro-business or pro-people? Why does he hold these values?

b) Experience - does he have experience and understanding of the ministry that he is supposed to head? Or, is he just going to learn on the job?

I believe that the selection process of the PAP government is flawed.

WOTC - Jobs for locals

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is a good strategy to ensure that locals have jobs?

Here are the responses: (45 Votes)
40 % - Reserve public sector jobs for locals. 
31 % - Introduce a wage subsidy for employers to employ locals.
27 % - Stop immigration.
2 % - Leave it to the free market.
0 % - Keep wages low

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Free of corruption

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is Singapore largely free of corruption?

Here are the responses: (49 Votes)
69 % - No. Our corruption takes a different form. 
14 % - No. This is proved by many recent cases of corruption. 
8 % - No. We have become complacent.
4 % - Yes. It is our key strength.
4 % - Yes. The government is vigilent in dealing with corruption.

See the pie chart at:

Thursday, August 09, 2018

A new way for captcha

I like the new captcha which says "I am not a robot". I find it ridiculous for the old captcha where the user has to read difficulty images.

Actually, I find the captcha to be unnecessary. Although there are instances where a bot sends out messages, they can be easily identified and ignored.

It is not necessary to burden ordinary people with additional obstacle just because of a few mischievous and harmless bots.

A new arrangement for bus services

Currently, we have over 300 bus services. Each service stops at every stop. A journey by bus can take 60 to 90 minutes from terminal to terminal.

I wish to suggest an alternative way to organize the bus services to cut down the number of services and to reduce the travel time.

1) The express services will run on the expressway and stop at the HDB and major towns along the way. The average distance between the stops is about 2 km. These express services can run at 5 to 10 mins interval.

2) Local services will connect the interchange to the local stops in each town. The local services can run at 3 min interval.

3) A big town may have a few interchanges linked to the expressways. It can have several local services to cover different parts of the town.

4) A typical journey will take a passenger to an interchange to take the express service to the destination or to change to another express service. The final journey is another local service.

5) Transfers from one bus to another is at the interchange and involves a short walk. It is easier than changing from bus to train.

6) The interchanges are also located next to MRT stations. The passengers can also change to a MRT line as part of the integrated journey.

7) This network of express services can act as a backup in the event of a breakdown of the train service.

8) The local services also bring passengers to the nearest train station.

9) I expect the travel time to be reduced in most cases, for people travelling by bus.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Reduce cost of living

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is the best way to reduce the cost of living?

Here are the responses: (46 Votes)
65 % - Abolish GST
20 % - Implement rent control
11 % - Offer more subsidies.
4 % - Reduce income tax.
0 % - Bring in foreigners to reduce the wage cost.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Open tender system

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should the open tender system be used all the time?

Here are the responses: (41 Votes)
44 % - The open tender system can be easily rigged to favor cronies.
29 % - It should be used for all contracts.
15 % - It should be used only for large and special contracts.
12 % - For standard contracts that are used frequently, benchmark pricing should be used.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Spending on infrastructure

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Why is the government spending too much on infrastructure?

Here are the responses: (49 Votes)
39 % - There is corruption somewhere.
31 % - The officials are incompetent.
12 % - They set high specification 
12 % - They favor cronies.
6 % - The tender prices are acceptable.

See the pie chart at:

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Land reclamation - missed opportunity for Singapore

Forest City in Johore is being built on reclaimed islands. Gateway Melaka in Melaka is also being built on reclaimed islands. The China construction companies are actively involved in both mega projects.

Singapore has been active in reclaiming land from the sea for the past few decades. Sadly, we did not build the companies and people with the knowhow to go outside Singapore.

This opportunity is now taken by the China construction companies. We missed the boat.

It is sad for Singapore. It is a reflection that our approach is short sighted.

Serve the country and not self interest

Goh Chok Tong thinks that the most capable people earn more than $1 million a year.

I have a different view. The people who can earn $1 million are those who want to earn as much as they can. They include doctors, lawyers, corporate executives and politicians.

But there are other people who does not want to earn that much. They are happy with a more modest salary. They want to serve the country and the ordinary people. Many of these people are also capable, but they are notthat greedy or self-interested.

Sadly, the people willing to serve the country do not get the top positions as ministers. The person calling the shots belong to the self-interested category. He picks other people who thinks like him.

Do you agree?

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Microsoft and Skype

Microsoft paid a few billion dollars to buy Skype. But Skype is now outdated. Few people use it now. I had some credit in my Skype account, but it was not used for a few years.

I believe most users have abandoned Skype. They probably use the WhatsApp chat or other new platforms.

Perhaps Microsoft had access to the Skype customer database. But how could Microsoft monetarise the customer data?

Could this be a bad investment for Microsoft?

Access to the health database

The Ministry of Health is studying the feasibility of delinking some PCs permanently from the internet.

I agree with this approach. There is no need for some PCs used by the staff for processing the work to be connected to the internet. They should be connected to the healthcare database through a secure intranet.

However, there is a wider community of doctors and health care workers that need to connect to the database through the public internet.

These users can have their access restricted only to certain portions of the database. The doctor need to know the patient visit records.

We should avoid imposing more security or other restrictions that hinder the authorized access by doctors to these records.

There will always be a risk that somebody may steal the identity of the doctor and have unauthorized access to the records of patients. This cannot be prevented by the use of more security protocols.

A good way to deal with this risk is to log all the access by each user to the record.

A audit script should be run at regular intervals, say each hour, to count the number of access by each user to the patient records, and to highlight any case of unusual activity.

We can expect each doctor to access not more than 10 patient records in a hour, or 100 records in a day. Any excess activity can be highlighted immediately for audit review.

Similarly, the staff have access to details of visits by patients for each day or longer period. The access should also be logged. An audit script should also be run at regular intervals to identify the excess activity by the staff.

It is possible for a hacker to get the credentials of a staff to access these records. The restriction of access to the intranet will reduce this risk but it cannot be totally prevented.

It is also possible for a crook to bribe a authorized staff to access the record and steal the information. This cannot be prevented through access control.

I caution against the excessive reliance of access control or security protocol to manage this risk. It is costly and can make life difficult for the regular users.

My suggestion of the audit log and regular check of the log will manage this risk better. It cannot totally prevent some patient records from being stolen but it can alert the audit staff immediately to prevent the damage from getting worse.

It will certain stop the hacking after a few hundred records, rather than be sleeping while 1.5 million records are accessed and the data stolen.

The biggest risk is the access by the database administrators. They can also be bribed. The access by these administrators, who have almost unrestricted access to the database, have to be monitored closely, perhaps to the minute.

The best risk management measure is prevention. If the hacker knows that there is an effective audit log and that unusual activities will be detected early, they will avoid hacking the database. The risk of being detected early is high.

It is easy to implement the access log and the audit scripts. It is also quite effective. I suggest that this approach be considered immediately.

I have assumed that the security and access protocols are adequate, but the weakness is in other areas.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Abolish GST

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should Singapore abolish GST?

Here are the responses:
31 % - We should abolish GST totally for maximum impact.
29 % - We should abolish GST and be more careful with infrastructure spending.
21 % - We can afford to abolish GST totally as there are sufficient revenue from land sale.
19 % - We should reduce the rate of GST to reduce the impact on the revenue.
0 % - We should keep GST at the current level so that the government can increase welfare spending.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - What will voters look for

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What should voters look for at the next general election?

Here are the responses:
74 % - It is better to vote for change.
18 % - The goals of the political parties
5 % - The candidates being field by the political parties
3 % - Credibility of the political parties
0 % - It is better to vote for stability

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Coalition under TCB

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Will the coalition of political parties led by Dr. Tan Cheng Bock do well?

Here are the responses:
65 % - I expect the coalition to make good progress at the general election
26 % - It is a positive start.
5 % - It will make the PAP more willing to listen to the people.
5 % - It will not have any impact at the general election

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Best outcome for GE 2020

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is the best outcome for the next general election?

Here are the responses:
51 % - PAP loses more than 40 seats
22 % - PAP loses 21 to 30 seats
9 % - PAP loses less than 10 sets
9 % - PAP loses 11 to 20 seats
9 % - PAP loses 31 to 40 seats

See the pie chart at:

Monday, August 06, 2018

Deplorable practices of telcos

I used Starhub in Singapore. For my regular travels to Indonesia, I have a Telkomsel SIM card and and to Malaysia, I use a Digi SIM card.

Here are my experiences in using the SIM cards of the overseas telcos:

a) It is important to use their mobile app.
b) I have to top up the SIM card at regular intervals so that it remains active. If it is deactivated, I will lose the balance in my account. I ask my friend to do it for me.
c) I can buy a 1GB data package for about $2. This will last 3 to 7 days. Make sure that it is a one time pass and not a weekly renewable package.

I find the practices of the telcos in Singapore and the other countries to be deplorable, in the following ways:

a) They expire your SIM card and STEAL your balance.
b) If you do not realize it, they will sell you a renewable package that keeps deducting the money from your account (like stealing money).

I have lost quite some money from these deplorable practices. It is a tough learning experience.

Data Package from Starhub

I could buy 1 GB for $1.30 from Telkomsel, Indonesia. I can buy 1.5 GB for $3.50 from Digi, Malaysia.

Starhub now has a data package for 1 GB for $5. Although the data package from Starhub cost 3 times of the local telcos, I find it acceptable.

Vote for change

Most people find it unlikely for the opposition to form the next government. It will take a few rounds of general election to achieve this outcome.

I agree.

However, I do not share their pessimistic assessment of this effort.

The most important outcome is that the PAP should lose say 30 seats. If this happens, guess what.

You can be sure that the PAP will have to change many of its bad policies, especially the policies that increases the cost of living and add a big burden to the daily lives of the people.

They will certainly not proceed with increasing the GST to 9%. They will roll back the hefty increase in water and electricity prices, and in rentals.

It is important for voters to vote for the coalition so that the PAP will lose a few GRCs and 30 seats.

Some voters are worried that if the swing is too large, the PAP will not form the government. That outcome will be better. The new government can implement the changes more quickly.
We can learn from the experience of Malaysia on how the transition can be carried out smoothly and even increase the confidence of foreign investors.

The voters should have the confidence to vote for change. Both outcomes will be good.

Do you agree?

Exorbitant charge for data roaming

I turned on data roaming on my mobile phone as I thought that the data package was active. I was mistaken.

When I arrived in Jakarta, I received a SMS alert that I had already exceeded $20 of data usage. I checked with Starhub. The data used was 2 MB.

The data package cost $5 for 1 GB. Without the data package, I would have to pay $10,000 for 1 GB. Why is the charge 2,000 times of the package price?

Something is wrong. I like to ask the regulator to step in and ensure that consumers are charged at reasonable price.

It would be reasonable to charge a few times of the normal rate, but certainly not 2,000 times?

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