Saturday, August 18, 2018

Increase the frequency of KTM shuttle

There are 13 departures by KTM from Woodlands to Johor Bahru from 7 am to midnight. The interval for a train is 70 mins during the peak hours and longer during the off peak hours.

The journey takes 5 mins each way.

It should be possible to pack 3 departures every hour or a total of 51 departures a day. This will increase the capacity by 4 times.

If we plan the schedule properly, we can reduce the interval to 15 mins and increase the capacity by 6 times. This is based on a single track for the train, i.e. it takes 5 mins to travel one way, 5 mins to travel the other way and 2 mins to embark or alight from the train.

Currently, there is low demand for the train services as the fare is $5 from Singapore to JB and RM 5 for the return journey.

If the fare is reduced to $2 and RM 5 respectively, the train should be full.

This will reduce the travel time across the causeway during peak and off peak periods.

We do not have to wait for 2025 for the Rapid Transit System to be ready. We can increase the capacity by 4 or 6 times on the current train shuttle.

I wonder if the Singapore or Johore side will look into this possibility?

Cashless payment and anonymity

Some people are worried about cashless payments because their spending can be tracked.

I do not share this fear.

We are already using credit card for the major payment. They are being tracked. For anonymity, some places use an innocent name for the purpose of payment.

For example, you do not want your credit card bill to show that you have paid for social escort services, right?

When it comes to small payments using e-wallets, there is little need for anonymity.

Who is interested in your payment for a few dollars at a hawker stall or coffee shop? Anyway, most of these payments do not need to show the detail of the merchant.

Finally, if I have to make a payment that require anonymity, I will use cash or get someone to pay on my behalf. I hardly need to keep such secret.

So, I will find e-wallet or cash payments to be convenient. I do not have to worry about anonymity or privacy. It will help to reduce the time taken by the merchant and the customer.

At the pharmacy, I saw a customer paid the bill in coins. The cashier has to spend some time to count the coins. The payment would be much faster if the customer paid by e-wallet.

Good signs in AEON mall

I like the signs in AEON mall in Klang.

They show the following prominently, all over the place:

Toilet, Information desk, ATM, Large stores, such as Aeon.

They seem to know what are the facilities that are most commonly needed by the shoppers.

When I travel on the escalator, I know which level that I am going to and that I arrive. It is clearly marked.

The also show a floor plan near the escalator.

I find the Japanese to be systematic and thoughful. We can learn some tips from them.

Bad signs in Singapore

I find signage in Singapore to be generally bad. Over the past decades, I have countless occasions of being the victim of bad signage.

If I go up the escalator to look for a shop at a mall, I often had difficulty in knowing the level that I am on. It is often not shown. I have to walk to the nearly shops to see the unit number - and often it is also not displayed.

When I walk along the walkway of a MRT station to the exit, I often got lost. The signs disappeared at critical corners. I had to walk back to check if I had to take another turn.

I often find it quite difficult to look for the toilet in a mall, MRT station or public building. There is no toilet in some of these places. Some offices locked their toilet for use by the staff. Where do they expect the public to go?

I also have difficulty in looking for the information desk. It is not shown in many malls and buildings.

I have to ask the sales staff for directions. Often, they don't know.

When I visit other cities and find useful signs, I noticed immediately. The planners in other cities seem to be more aware of the needs of the public.

I observed confusing and bad signs in Singapore for decades. We have not improved.

Avoid an argument

I avoid making an argument over a view expressed by another person. That person is entitled to his or her view.

I may pose a different view, but I am not arguing about that person's view.

Here is an example. Suppose someone said that Lee HL is a good leader and he gave his reasons.

I would reply that I find Lee HL to be a bad leader and I give my reasons.

I do not wish to argue over his reasons on why Lee HL is a good leader. He is entitled to that view.

But if I agree with his reasons, I will say - I agree with your observation on (describing the reason).

I look for reason to agree. I do not look for points to argue over.

Contact information

I consider my email address and mobile number to be public information. I do not hide them. I share them when necessary.

My residential address is shown in the telephone directory anyway.

I get spam mail send to me from all sources. The risk of people reading my email from Facebook and spending spam mail or mischievous mail to me is small and can be managed. I know how to deal with them - I delete them immediately. End of email.

I also get calls on my mobile phone, mainly from telemarketing people. I give a reply "Goodbye". End of call.

I also get salesmen knocking on my doors. This happens less nowadays, because the Internet is an easier way to market. I say, "Not interested". End of knock.

If someone wants to target me, there are many ways that they can do so. Keeping my address, email or mobile number secret does not reduce the risk. It is better to learn how to deal with them.

My contact details are among the 1.5 million data that is stolen in the SingHealth cyber attack. I am not bothered. Unlike some people, I am not paranoid.

If anyone has criminal intent, I can submit "a police report".

Use of NRIC

I consider the NRIC number to be a useful public information - to identify a person. It is similar to the plate number of a car.

I find it unnecessary and unproductive to keep the NRIC number secret. We are losing the advantage of this useful features of a unique, state issued ID.

If the NRIC number is a secret, why should the government allow commercial building guards to demand that the visitors' NRICs be handled to them for safekeeping or for scanning of the details?

Why are we taking so much trouble to hide useful information while allowing the information to be passed to third parties. It is a contradiction.

What can a crook do with the NRIC number?

Sure, they can use it to impersonate another person. But they can also impersonate a person by using his name, right?

If I tell somebody that I am Lee Kuan Yew (while he was alive) and they accept it and give me $1 million dollar, they are being naive and stupid, right?

Anyway, impersonating another person is a crime. It is also a crime to impersonate any government officer.

If a business wishes to accept the NRIC number, they do it at their own risk. A sensible business will want to verify the photo on the NRIC with the face of the person.

A business is given a unique number UEN. This number serves the purpose of identifying a business, just like the NRIC number is used to identify a person. The UEN is used publicly for the business to receive payment using PayNow.

We do have many contradictory practices in Singapore. Is someone who is in charge using their brains and common sense to ask the right questions? Are we really a Smart Nation or a non thinking one?

Salaries of government leaders

There has been many comparison of the salary of our prime minister with the government leaders in other countries.

In most countries, the state provide their president or prime minister with houses, cars, planes and staff that cost many times of the official salary.

In Singapore, the prime minister and ministers are given a "clean salary" without housing and personal cars. Although a state car is provided, it is to be used only for official purposes.

The comparison of salary is not appropriate.

For example, if we count the cost of maintenance of the White House and Air Force One, it will be many times of the official salary of President Trump. The total cost will clearly be several times of PM Lee's humongous salary.


OK, PM Lee is clearly overpaid in relation to the salary of the ordinary workers in Singapore, but the comparison with other world leaders should take into account the other costs.

Friday, August 17, 2018

New signal system for MRT

About six months ago, I put out a post to comment on the $195 million that was spent on the new signal system for the North South and East West lines.

I find the cost to be very high. I also considered it to be too sophisticated. Worse, I hypothesized that the new signal system was the cause of the breakdowns.


When you use a sophisticated system to manage the trains, it needs to have reliable signals. If any of the signals are not received or appear to be contradictory, the sophisticated system will not work. It does not want to be responsible for causing a major accident.

If the train was driven by a human being, the driver would be able to exercise judgment to determine if the train was in danger.

The driver could be assisted by an anti collision device to prevent the train from crashing into the train in front, in case the driver was not paying attention.

I consider this approach to be better, i.e. to have a driver to driver the train and be assisted by anti-collision sensors.

Initially, there were a few train stoppages due to signal fault. I attributed them directly to the signal system.

Later, I observed that more of the stoppages and delays were caused by train fault, train fault and to power faults.

Even if there was a track fault, the trains could still run. Similarly, if there was a train fault, it would affect only one train and that train could be taken off. A power fault is likely to cause the signal system to slow down the train.

Ultimately, all the faults affect the signal system. If the trains were driven by people, they would probably be able to respond without causing the delay that are mandated by a driver-less system.

I may be wrong, but I suspect that many of the stoppages and delays were connected to the signal system.

If I am right, what can be done about it? We can still revert to having the trains largely driven by people.

WOTC - Mediocre people

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Why did Goh CT say that people who earn less than $500,000 are mediocre?

Here are the responses: (36 Votes)
56 % - He is elitist in his thinking.
17 % - He muddled up.
17 % - He was trying to help Lee HL.
11 % - He was referring only to people being selected as ministers.
0 % - He was misquoted.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - National Day Parade 2018

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is your impression of National Day Parade 2018

Here are the responses: (53 Votes)
45 % - It was quite wasteful 
38 % - It was boring.
9 % - It was an impressive display.
8 % - I feel proud.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Spend $40 million on National Day Parade

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is it worthwhile to spend $40 million to organize a National Day Parade?

Here are the responses: (52 Votes)
62 % - It is rather wasteful.
25 % - The National Day Parade has become boring
12 % - We need to have a grand parade to instill pride in Singapore.
2 % - It is a small sum of money

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Most harmful decision

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is the most harmful decision made by PM Lee HL?

Here are the responses: (52 Votes)
33 % - Appoint his wife to head Temasek Holdings.
27 % - Appoint SAF generals to hold top positions in government and GLCs
21 % - Allow massive immigration
17 % - Pay high salaries to ministers
2 % - His decisions are all good

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Singapore going downhill

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

How is Singapore going downhill?

Here are the responses: (52 Votes)
37 % - The leaders are arrogant.
35 % - Cost of living is too high.
13 % - People dare not express their views due to fear.
10 % - Jobs are uncertain and pays poorly.
6 % - People are too selfish.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - GST and cost of living

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Will abolishing GST help to reduce the cost of living?

Here are the responses: (53 Votes)
43 % - Yes. It will reduce the cost of living significantly.
36 % - Yes. Not only GST but the administration cost and other markup associated with it.
15 % - The cost of living will not drop; the merchant increase the profit margin.
6 % - No. It will only have a temporary effect.
0 % - No. It is better to offer more subsidies.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Display national flag

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should Singaporeans display the national flag to mark National Day

Here are the responses: (51 Votes)
47 % - No. I don't like the PAP.
25 % - Yes. It shows loyalty to Singapore.
20 % - Yes. I am happy to be a Singaporean.
8 % - No. I don't have money to buy the flag.

See the pie chart at:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

We are no longer productive

Thirty years ago, Singapore was quite productive. We do not take a long time to commute to work. The government took the initiative to implement changes to work processes. Activities were carried out quickly, with minimal hassle.

It is a different situation today. We have become quite unproductive. We spend a lot of time to commute to work and return home. When the train breaks down, half a day could be gone.

We also have complicated processes that took a lot of time to handle. We are not able to use the Internet well to improve the work processes. In many cases, we spend more time on online processes than on submitting manual returns.

We are obsessed with security and introduce many layers of work, quite often when they are unnecessary.

To make matters worse, our cost of doing business is now among the highest in the world. For the time being, our economy is being sustained by high property prices, which create the illusion that many people are wealthy.

How long can this situation continue? Will we wake up one day to a collapsed economy that takes a few decades to recover?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Yearly water bill payable to Malaysia

Singapore draws 250 million gallons of water a day and pays 3 sen per 1,000 gallons. The annual amount that Singapore pays to Malaysia is 250,000 X .03 X 365 = RM 2.7 million or $912,000.

Malaysia is asking for the price to be revised to 50 sens. If Singapore agrees, the total amount will be RM 45.6 million or $15 million a year.

It will be the cost of 5 MRT train coaches (at $3 million per coach). Each train with 6 coaches will pay for slightly more than 1 year supply of water at the rate asked by Malaysia.

Putting water price into perspective

Let me put the Malaysian governments proposed price in perspective.

Consumers in Singapore pay $3.69 per 1,000 liters of water for consumption exceeding 40 cu m. There will be a further price increase in July 2019.

The current price of water expressed in 1,000 gallons in RM is 3.69 X 3 X 4.54609 = RM 50.32

We now pay 3 sen per 1,000 gallon. Malaysia wants to increase the price to 50 sen or 16 times of the current price.

At 50 sens, it will be 1% of the price that Singapore consumers now pay to the government.

A dysfunctional economic system

I looked at my share investments in the Central Depository. I held most of these shares for 20 years.

The banks are doing well. The industrial companies are performing poorly.

This reflects a dysfunctional economic system. The banks were allowed to make too much profits at the expense of other sectors of the economy.

A broken down system

The ordinary worker and his employer contribute about 40% of salary towards health care, unemployment benefit and retirement pension.

The ordinary worker in Singapore and his contribute contribute a similar amount, but most of it goes towards a property. There is nothing for unemployment, inadequate income for retirement and a need to copay in cash for health care.

The property will decay and have zero value at the end of 99 years.

The German system is better than the lopsided Singapore system in taking care of the need of workers. We have a broken down system.

More charges should be regulated

I prefer many charges to be fixed by the government, rather than be left to the market:

Here are some examples:

a) Public transport fares
b) School fees
c) Taxi fares.
d) Public hospital charges
e) Legal fees
f) Water and electricity charges
g) Rentals of basic housing and stalls

These fees should be for basic services. If the customers want to additional services, they can pay for them at the market rates.

These fixed charges can be adjusted yearly based on supply and demand. With modern technology and data, it should be easy to determine the appropriate charges, rather than leave these charges to the market.

If these fees are kept at reasonable rates, the ordinary people can manage their expenses better and the cost of living will be kept more affordable.

If the charges and fees are not properly guided, the cost of living can escalate out of control. This is what has happened in recent years.

Do you agree?

WOTC - Income inequality

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Why are most governments unable to deal with income inequality?

Here are the responses: (56 Votes)
27 % - They have a vested interest to promote inequality.
25 % - They are funded by corporations and rich individuals
20 % - They have to return to progressive income tax, instead of GST.
16 % - They are fooled by economists who promoted globalization and outsourcing.
13 % - It is a difficult problem.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Telco's mobile app

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Do you use the mobile app provided by your telco?

Here are the responses: (59 Votes)
61 % - I hardly use it.
24 % - I used it often to monitor my expenses.
7 % - I find it convenient when I travel outside of Singapore.
5 % - The app usually hangs.
3 % - I find the app confusing to use.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Roaming charge

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What are your views about the roaming charge of $10 per 1 MB by telcos?

Here are the responses: (68 Votes)
78 % - It is daylight robbery.
10 % - The government should act to stop this kind of bad practice.
10 % - Consumers should be careful about using roaming data.
1 % - Consumers should turn off roaming data.

See the pie chart at:

Monday, August 13, 2018

Set cap on litigation cases?

Someone said that litigation is based on precedence and common law. The lawyer has to research and bring out past cases to argue the legal principle.

I agree.

I have seen simple cases end up with two feet of documents. The lawyer based his fees according to the work done - the more work, the higher the fee.

Maybe, the fee is equivalent to $10 per page of document? So, you can be sure that simple cases will take a long time to argue in court.

If the government were to set a cap on the fees for each tyoe of case, say $5,000 or $10,000, you can be sure that the documents produced will be less volumnous and the cases will be cleared much more quickly.

Maybe, this is the way to go?

Use technology and common sense

When I was in primary school, and that must be 60 years ago, I used to dream about science fiction.

Would it be wonderful if Singapore is cool down by installing a big shade to block out the sun?

Can we have moving pavement, so that people do not have to walk to the bus stop?

Well, these dreams have been realized. Raffles City had a big atrium to create a cool space. OK, that was in the old days before they convert the atrium to shops.

We have moving escalators in the airport. They are called travellators.

Over the years, I continue to dream about how lives can be improved with technology and common sense.

How to create jobs for people

We read stories about how automation and technology will take over jobs, and that more people will be unemployed.

They are asked to look for new jobs, but it will not be easy.

What is the solution?

We have to vote for a government that places jobs as a priority.

The government can set the social and economic policies to take care of people, such as:

a) encourage people to have more children
b) create jobs to take care of children and old people
c) educate the people
d) provide affordable health care to everyone
e) provide assistance to people on their daily problems.
f) provide affordable public transport
g) provide affordable housing

These jobs belong to the public sector. They only need to take up 20% to 25% of the workforce.

Can the country afford to provide these jobs? Most certainly - YES. The alternative is to have many unemployed people who are stressed, sick and create social problems.

There will still be a sector of the population that earn the revenue from providing services to other countries and can earn foreign exchange income.

It is a better of having a better balance. The government to provide the enlightened leadership. It cannot neglect its duty and let the market rule over peoples' lives.

How to cool down Singapore

For a long time, I wanted to find a solution to cool down Singapore. It is too hot.

I thought that it would be wonderful to have more breeze. How to create it?

I found the solution in Resort World Sentosa. They installed giant fans in their Forum atrium. It helped to cool down the place.

The plastic roof also provided some shade from the sun.

I wonder - would it be possible to install solar panels on the plastic roof to get the energy to power the giant fans?

If this is possible, it would cool down any tropical city.

Update the practice of law

A young lawyer gave up legal practice. Legal work, especially in litigation, is a lot of hard work to do research and present arguments. It can take long hours every day.

But I wonder if the practice of law could be upgraded. Do we really need to go through many complicated arguments, quoting from cases that occured several decades ago, and out of context to today's world?

Surely, the law could be updated and simplifed?

Sadly, the legislatures in most countries are dominated by lawyers who have a vested interest to maintain the current practice, to the detriment of the public.

Do you agree?

WOTC - Preferred population for Singapore

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is your preferred population for Singapore in 2023?

Here are the responses: (63 Votes)
67 % - 5 million
24 % - 6 million
6 % - 7 million
3 % - 10 million
0 % - 15 million

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Encourage immigration

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should Singapore have a policy to encourage immigration?

Here are the responses: (70 Votes)
46 % - We are already too crowded.
26 % - We can have more people, provided the infrastructure is kept in pace.
19 % - The immigrants will spoil the character of our population.
9 % - We need immigrants to offset the low birth rate. 
1 % - We need a bigger population to sustain the economy. 

See the pie chart at:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Use of talents in NS

My friend told me.

Israel is strict about national service. Every citizen must serve two years.

But they are flexible in using the talents of the conscripts. Those who are good in IT were allowed to spend their time on IT projects. They meet other people with similar interest.

After the two years, these people became entrepreneurs and form start up companies. Israel is able to produce many IT start up companies.

NS in Singapore is too rigid. We are not able to produce these types of entrepreneurs, unlike Israel.

I agree with him. In Singapore, we are good at killing the passion and talents of our young people, footballers and sportsmen, for example.

Pay better wages for locals

Many people think that it is a good strategy to import foreign workers to do the work that the locals do not want to do.

That is what Singapore has been doing over the past decades.

Here are the consequences:

a) Salaries for these jobs are kept at depressed levels.
b) As more foreigners come to Singapore, they will take over the higher paying jobs eventually.
c) More locals became unemployed as they lose their jobs to foreigners.

The alternative strategy is to pay adequate wages for all types of jobs, so that locals can accept these jobs, make a family and raise a family.

When wage cost goes up, rentals are likely to come down as the businesses have lower margins and cannot afford to pay high rentals.

The total cost to consumers is almost the same, except that the share between wages and rents are better distributed. Property prices will not escalate to high levels.

Many countries adopt the strategy of paying adequate wages for locals to do the "less desired" jobs. They provide a better future for their people.

It is time for Singapore to change our flawed policies.

WOTC - Population size

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is your preferred population for Singapore in 2023?

Here are the responses: (63 Votes)
67 % - 5 million
24 % - 6 million
6 % - 7 million
3 % - 10 million
0 % - 15 million

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Encourage immigration

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should Singapore have a policy to encourage immigration?

Here are the responses: (70 Votes)
46 % - We are already too crowded.
26 % - We can have more people, provided the infrastructure is kept in pace.
19 % - The immigrants will spoil the character of our population.
9 % - We need immigrants to offset the low birth rate. 
1 % - We need a bigger population to sustain the economy. 

See the pie chart at:

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