Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The "Opposition"

At the recent seminar on the Malaysian general election, several speakers referred to Barisan National and "the opposition".

The speakers forgot that "the opposition" is now the government.

After 60 years, habits die hard.

It is better to refer to them as BN and non BN.

I am sure that the same situation applies in Singapore.

It is better to refer to PAP and non PAP.

Responding to feedback

Most people have bad experience in giving feedback to govt agencies and large organizations.

Their feedback are ignored. Often, they do not receive any acknowledgement. If they do, it is a template reply without any follow up.

Our govt leaders set a bad example in not giving attention to feedback. I know that they are busy people, but they have several supporting staff who can attend to the matter. They should ask their staff to do it.

Recently, I met with some exceptions.

I sent a feedback to the new CEO of Starhub. He gave me a reply and told me that he will get his technical and customer service chiefs to look into the matter. Subsequently, his secretary arranged a meeting for me to meet the CEO and the chiefs.

A few years earlier, I had a similar experience with the CEO of Singapore Exchange. He replied to my feedback.

In both cases, the CEOs were foreigners who were recruited to head these organizations.

Somehow, the culture of the top people recruited outside of Singapore have a different culture, compared with the local CEOs.

I have to mention an exception. I gave a feedback to the Grassroots Club. The general manager called me to discuss the feedback.

I hope that our govt ministers and local CEOs set the example and leadership to get our organizations more active in responding to feedback and in engaging with their customers or the public at large.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Same government for many years

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is it good to have the same government for many years?

Here are the responses: (40 Votes)
63 % - It will lead to corruption and incompetence.
30 % - It is better to change the government every ten years or so.
5 % - It creates more stable and predictable policies.
3 % - It gives more time for the government to carry out its work.

See the pie chart at: 

WOTC - Fake news

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Will fake news cause a lot of damage?

Here are the responses: (43 Votes)
49 % - We need a law to provide freedom of information.
30 % - We have to act against deliberate attempts to spread lies.
12 % - The law will be used to stop the spreading of truths.
9 % - We have to stop the spreading of fake news.

See the pie chart at: 

WOTC - Change in govt

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is there a risk of changing the government?

Here are the responses: (42 Votes)
48 % - There are capable people who will come forward, if the people are willing to give it a try.
31 % - We need to take the risk to get a different and better future.
17 % - The risk is small, if we are clear about the goals.
5 % - There is a big risk of changing to an unknown government.

See the pie chart at: 

Monday, October 01, 2018

MAS Investor Alert List

Hi Mr. Tan,
I would like to inform you of this company which I believe may be a potential scam.

Recently, I was approached to invest money with this organisation called XXX which trades in forex. The person promised me 3% return EVERY MONTH, which I feel is too good to be true.

If you do a quick Google search, the company seems to have quite a good media team to portray themselves as a successful start-up. Their boss has also been donating alot of money to charity and taking photos with Halimah Yaccob.

However, it also seems that the company is on the MAS Investor Alert List

So I did more research by obtaining a business file and realised that the company is registered as having "office administrative services on a fee or contract basis" as its primary activities.

Worse, it is not even audited which is a BIG red flag for a company supposedly in the financial services.

I am not sure what you think about this but it is quite shocking that the regulators would allow such an organisation to exist!

I agree with you.

How to reduce the stress in education

Ong Ye Kung is not the first education minister, or the minister who wants to reduce stress for students.

I heard that spoken by Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Heng Swee Kiat.

I also heard the statement by PM Lee that he wants the students to "study less and learn more".

All these past efforts failed. Rather, they succeeded in a small degree, but did not make a major impact.

Can Ong Ye Kung do better?

I doubt it.

If the underlying problem is not address, all the new initiatives will not produce the desired outcome.

What is the underlying problem?

The government gives too much weight on scholars. Those who are selected as scholars are assured of an excellent career with a high salary. Most parents want their children to do their best and be a scholar.

This is the source of the stress.

For those who cannot be scholars, the parents will want them to be a good graduate. There is no future for those who do not have a degree. So, they have to get a degree from a public funded university or a private university.

Many students pursue a degree at the expense of a better and more suitable alternative. There are many jobs that do not require a degree and are in demand.

But the salary for these non-degree jobs are suppressed and are unattractive.

To solve this problem, the government has to increase the salaries of the jobs that do not require a degree. But they require skills and work experience. For example the jobs of nurses, bus drivers, technicians, cooks, service staff, etc.

If these jobs pay an adequate salary, many people will find them acceptable. They do not need to compete hard, and make a lot of sacrifice, just to get a degree.

For those who wants a degree to be "more educated", they can still pursue this goal after getting a well paying job that does not require a degree.

If we want to reduce the stress in education, we have to solve the underlying problem. We should give better prospects for non-degree jobs and for non-scholars.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Fake news

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is the best way for the govt to deal with fake news?

Here are the responses: (46 Votes)
43 % - Be transparent and gain the trust of the people
30 % - Set a good example and presenting the news honestly
17 % - Rebut the fake news with the facts
4 % - Pass a law
4 % - Ignore the fake news

See the pie chart at: 

WOTC - Guarantee jobs for citizens

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should the govt guarantee that every citizen has a job?

Here are the responses: (43 Votes)
74 % - We need to make sure that locals are employed before allowing foreigners to work in the country.
19 % - Guarantee a job that pays an adequate wage.
7 % - Workers who wish to earn more than the wage provided can develop the skills for the better paying job.
0 % - This will make the workers lazy.

See the pie chart at: 

WOTC - Most important issue

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Which issue do you consider to be most important?

Here are the responses: (47 Votes)
49 % - Economic security - wage, job, cost of living
21 % - Democratic process - remove GRC
21 % - Integrity of leaders - transparency, non-corrupt, honesty
9 % - Freedom of speech and expression, right of assembly

See the pie chart at: 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

How to make Corp Pass more useful

Prior to 1 September 2018, an authorized person can use his SingPass to submit transactions for government agencies, such as paying CPF contributions, applying for work pass, etc. This person is usually a director of the company or a person specifically appointed by the director.

Now, all transactions have to be submitted using a CorpPass, instead of the SingPass.

Each company has to create a CorpPass for each authorized person. A person who is involved as director of several companies need a separate CorpPass for each company. Instead of having one SingPass, the director has to remember a separate credential for each company.

One argument in favor of CorpPass is that it can be shared by several staff in the company. If the holder is on leave, another staff can take over.

This is not correct. The CorpPass requires to be authenticated by a OTP that is sent to the mobile phone of the holder. If the holder is on leave, the mobile phone goes with him. Another staff cannot take over.

We now have the situation where a separate CorpPass account has to be created for each business when previously one SingPass could be used. It creates a lot of hassle without giving any tangible benefit.

The CorpPass system has another troublesome feature. The business has to specify which transaction type the CorpPass user is allowed to submit.

In the past, the authorized director can submit any type of transaction for the company. Now, he has to be specifically approved for each type. If this approval is not submitted properly, the authorized director cannot submit the transaction. He is being blocked out.

There is also another complication. There are several roles, such as Admin or Editor. The CorpPass user has to be assigned the correct role.

Big companies have the staff to do this work of managing the CorpPass of their staff. It is an unnecessary burden and unproductive work for a small company.

To handle Corp Pass correctly, the director has to read a complicated FAQ of several pages. The instructions are not clear to a lay person. So, a call has to be made to the support line.

I see that Corp Pass has created a lot of unnecessary work and problems for small companies. I cannot see any benefit.

What is the solution? Revert to the old system. Allow an authorized user to use his SingPass to submit transactions for the companies that he is authorized to act.

CorpPass can be used to identify the SingPass of the authorized person for each company. The authorized person may be assigned two roles - to prepare or to approve. A person who is authorized to approve can also prepare the transaction.

Tan Kin Lian

Two intakes in a year

I have observed for a long time that children born in the first half of the year tends to do better than those born in the second half.

Many people shared this observation. They said that the first group of children are older than the second group and are more developed.

This is a general observation and does not apply to every case. There will be exceptions.

A child born in January can be almost one year older than a child born in December in the same year.

I asked this question - why can't we have two intakes into schools in one calendar year, i.e. January and July? This will narrow the difference in age between the children in the same class. It also allows a better option for parents to put a child in the intake that best suit the child.

A child that is slower in development can be placed in the later intake. One that is faster can be placed in the earlier intake.

If child cannot cope with the lessons, he can stay back half a year, rather than one full year.

I mentioned this suggestion a few years ago. Someone said that New Zealand adopted two intakes in a year. I wonder how they find this experience?

There is another advantage in having two intakes in a year. It allows families to take their year end holidays in two separate groups. There will be two peak holiday seasons, rather than one season.

To benefit best from this arrangement, parents should plan to have their children born in the same part of the year, i.e. the first half or the second half. This should not be an issue.

I wonder if this "two intake" concept has been considered by our education ministry?

Tan Kin Lian

Changes to the education system

I am quite disappointed with the changes proposed by the education minister.

He wants to reduce the stress in education by removing the examination at primary 1 and 2 and reducing the examinations in the later years.

But he wants to keep PSLE as the primary means of determining the educational path of the children.

If we continue with this policy, parents will continue to pressure their children to do well in the PSLE. It will not reduce the stress.

It will probably give more business to the private tuition industry and add more cost to parents. This will put the lower income groups at a bigger disadvantage.

What are my views?

a) Remove streaming at PSLE.
b) Allow students who did poorly to stay back on year, but follow the same syllabus.
c) Offer students the choice of academic or technical subjects, based on their choice and with guidance by parents and teachers.
d) Allow students to select their specialization at upper secondary - science, arts, technical, etc.

I am suggesting that the education system be based on the approach that worked well prior to 1980, i.e. the time when I was in primary and secondary school. There was no streaming.

We also have to improve wages for technical and service wages at the national level, so that students are willing to pursue these choices. The public sector should take the lead in this direction.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Grab and the economy

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is Grab good the economy?

Here are the responses: (39 Votes)
36 % - It forces the taxi companies and drivers to improve their service
33 % - It charges a high commission to drivers and force them to accept low fares.
21 % - It offers unfair competition to taxi companies.
10 % - It allows the unemployed to find jobs.

See the pie chart at: 

WOTC - Reserve jobs for locals

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should jobs be reserved for locals?

Here are the responses: (46 Votes)
50 % - I am willing to pay a higher price to give jobs to locals.
37 % - If locals are unemployed, they cannot give business to other locals.
11 % - The unemployed must accept any job that is available, even at low pay.
2 % - I want to pay the lowest price available through the free market.

See the pie chart at: 

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