Saturday, November 10, 2018

How to accept an invitation

It is quite usual for a person to invite another person for lunch or dinner to get to know each other and to build a relationship.

Even political leaders have to build relationship with top business people and other political leaders.

If these types of meetings lead to suspicion of corruption, it would be difficult to do any business.

Somehow, Singapore appears to be paranoid about being involved in activities that they could lead to suspicion of corruption.

The civil service discourages this kind of activity. This paranoia also affects the business sector.

Perhaps this is why Singaporean businessmen find it difficult to do business in other countries. Other country's businessmen seem to be better in this art.

One way to get around this problem is for a simple system of declaration. If someone accepts a lunch or dinner from a potential supplier, he should make a declaration.

Another approach is to split the bill. Each person pays his share.

If someone invites you for lunch or dinner or a karaoke party, you can accept on the agreement that the bill equally.

WOTC - Budget airlines

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Will the Lion Air crash make you avoid budget airlines?

Here are the responses: (69 Votes)
55 % - I will avoid only the budget airlines without a good track record.
26 % - I will continue to travel on budget airlines to enjoy the low fares.
12 % - I prefer to travel on Singapore Airlines and its sister airlines - Silk Air and Scoot.
7 % - I will avoid all budget airlines.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Help children of disadvantaged families

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Will the task force to help children of disadvantaged families have an impact?

Here are the responses: (71 Votes)
45 % - No. It will be another exercise leading to recommendations that are not useful.
45 % - We seem to have gone through this journey many times in the past.
7 % - Yes. They are likely to come out with useful recommendations.
3 % - I commend the govt for taking this initiative.

See the pie chart at:

High cost of litigation

Someone said the purpose of high cost of litigation is to discourage people from taking this route.

This is a bad reason.

People need to find a just solution to a dispute.

Some disputes can be solved by mediation or through the small claims court. But some cannot.

The high cost will prevent many people, who cannot afford it, to abandon this means of solving a dispute. It leads to the rich and powerful winning the disputes because the poor cannot afford the cost of litigation.

We need to find a better way bring down the cost of litigation.

Some countries appoint an ombudsman to handle some kinds of disputes. This concept started in Switzerland and has been adopted in other countries, e.g. Australia. Some ombudsman handles disputes with the government but some also handles disputes with business organizations.

I support the use of the ombudsman.

But a better solution is for the govt and the court to put a cap on the fees that are charged by lawyers. It is horrible that some senior counsels charge $20,000 for each day of hearing in court. This could represent one years of earning for a low wage worker.

Some cases can drag on for a long time in court. There should also be an overall cap on the legal fees for a case, so that it does not drag on for a long time in court.

I know of some court cases where the legal fees could come up to more than 1 million dollars.

Lawyers are happy with such a system, but is it fair to the ordinary people?

We need to address this flaw in our legal system.

Tan Kin Lian

Friday, November 09, 2018

Leave behind a good legacy

When LHL steps down from office, he will leave behind his legacy.

People will remember him for the good and bad policies that he implemented during his years as the prime minister, and for many years earlier, as deputy prime minister and as finance minister.

I think most people will remember his bad policies, and his legacy will be negative.

There is one important change that he can introduce, before he steps down. This change will erase the bad policies and will put Singapore on a path of a brighter future.

What is this important change?

It is not abolishing GST, stopping the inflow of foreigners, returning CPF at age 55 and abolishing the GRC system. While each of these measures is important, it will not by itself have a significant impact.

In my view, the most important change is to allow the PAP to be split into two parties. He can ask his ministers and MPs to choose whether they wish to remain in the PAP or to move to an alternative party to be split from the PAP.

Without his blessing, the ministers and MPs will not make this move. They will not want to be seen to be disloyal or traitors and be involved in an acrimonious separation. There is too much at stake for them financially and socially.

With his blessing, two strong parties will formed from the from the original PAP. It will allow a genuine contest between these parties. Some of the non PAP politicians may wish to join either of the parties.

This will create a more vibrant political landscape. The genuine and democratic competition will produce better policies for Singapore.

The GRC system would probably be abolished together with the elected president. It could be replaced by an upper house.

If we continue without this change, the future for Singapore will be bleak. The existing policies of the PAP will be continued and will cause more harm to the country and the livelihood of the people.

Do not be misled into thinking that Singapore is now a prosperous country; it is not. We appear to be prosperous because of fictitious wealth created by an property bubble. The broader economy is high cost and uncompetitive.

If the PAP continues the existing policies, the economic and social conditions for most people will continue to get worse. One day, the PAP will be overthrown and will become totally irrelevant, like the Barisan Nasional in Malaysia. The future for Singapore will be most uncertain.

When I discuss this idea with a friend, he told me that there is a parallel in the development in Taiwan, during the time under Chiang Ching Kuo.

LHL has a choice. He can depart from the political scene with a bad legacy. Or he can make one important change that will create a better future for Singapore.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Reduce electricity price

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

How can we reduce electricity price?

Here are the responses: (66 Votes)
48 % - The govt should be transparent about the pricing of electricity.
32 % - The govt should generate and sell electricity at cost plus a modest profit.
11 % - The cost should be benchmark against the cost in other cities.
9 % - Open the market to competition.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Signs in buildings and roads

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Do we have helpful signs in buildings and roads?

Here are the responses: (72 Votes)
38 % - Essential signs are often missing.
32 % - I have often been misled by inadequate or wrong signs.
15 % - Our signs are good.
15 % - There are too many advertisements that distract from the essential signs

See the pie chart at:

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Protect your investment from a rights issue

I share this tip to protect your investment from a rights issue. Make sure that you do not lose out due to oversight.

Lack of internet access hamper the work of doctors

The hacking of the SingHealth database and the stealth of 1.5 million patient records was discovered on 20 July 2018.

Shortly after, SingHealth removed access to the database through the Internet. This was a precautionary measure taken to prevent further hacking.

It produced a negative consequence. The doctors need to access the database in the course of their daily work. The removal of the access through the Internet hampered their work.

Three months have already passed. The CEO of SingHealth told the commission of inquiry (COI) that the removal of internet access cause work to be delayed and many staff have to work extra hours.

I am surprised at the incompetence of the people in charge and the loss of productivity, which must lead to high operating cost. This must eventually be paid by the people who need the health services.

I wish to point out these issues:

a) Hundred of thousand of website and portals around the world allow access through the Internet. They seem to be able to manage their security without resorting to extreme measures.

b) It is possible to track unauthorized access and to act early to prevent the large scale stealth of data. Some data may be stolen by a hacked user credential, but early action can prevent more data from being stolen.

c) Some of the activities, such as booking of appointment, do not need to have access to the patient database, This can be facilitated.

d) The access by authorized users can be tracked so that each doctor is allowed a limited number of access to patient records for each day. Furthermore, it is possible to audit the access, i.e. that the doctor only access the records of his patients.

If the people in charge take the steps to implement the tracking of access by authorized users, it will prevent the large scale stealth of data. It will also allow the doctors to continue to access the database to facilitate their daily work.

We are supposed to aspire to be a Smart Nation. There are many highly paid and highly qualified professionals working under this project. Surely, they will be able to come out with a solution? If not, can they go out and ask for help?

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Hike in public transport fare

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is the recent hike in public transport fares justified?

Here are the responses: (62 Votes)
47 % - The govt is wasteful in managing the operations causing the fares to hike.
42 % - The hikes will increase the cost of living and add to the burden on working people.
6 % - Our public transport fares are still low compared to other cities.
5 % - We have to pay higher fares to enjoy a more comfortable and convenient ride.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Aljunied town council court case

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Will the recent court case on Aljunied town council affect the Workers Party

Here are the responses: (64 Votes)
45 % - Many people are fed up about the bullying by the govt.
39 % - It will strengthen the support for the Workers Party as they are perceived as being unfairly bullied.
9 % - Many people will have second thoughts about trusting the non PAP parties.
6 % - It will damage the Workers' Party as being a dishonest party.

See the pie chart at:

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

What legacy will LHL leave behind?

When LHL steps down from office, he will leave behind his legacy.

People will remember him for the good and bad policies that he implemented during his years as the prime minister, and for many years earlier, where he had a big influence on govt policies as deputy prime minister and as finance minister.

I think most people will remember his bad policies, and his legacy will be negative.

There is one important change that he can introduce, before he steps down. This change will erase the bad policies and will put Singapore on a path of a brighter future.

What is this important change?

I will write about it in a few days time.

Meanwhile, you can speculate on what I have in mind, or you can also give your own suggestions. OK?

Market for electricity

Dear Mr Tan

1. Under our old leaders, we able managed under one provider. Do we now need 13?

2. Based on the discounts they are offering, it shows right now our much the current provider is earning and they still increase the rate.

3. Why need 13 companies, unless creating posts for themselves. Isn't it waste of resources and manpower e.g. each company need directors, top management, staff etc. Its really wasteful.

Whats your views on this?

I prefer to have only one state owned provider and the electricity price to be controlled by an effective regulator. The price should be compared to the prices in other cities and any difference should be justified.

I find it wasteful to have so many providers. The marketing cost, admin cost, computer software, will all increase the final price of the product.

Contact us page of SGX

I am surprised that SGX does not provide an email address. They want their customers to call their hotline and probably waste a lot of time on their call center process.

I have tried the call center of most large organizations. I avoid them. They waste a lot of my time.

See this CONTACT US page.

Improve the trading volume in SGX

II was surprised to learn that the trading volume of Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) is 16 times of the volume in the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

We know that Hong Kong has a bigger population than Singapore and benefits from its closeness to China, but I thought that a difference of 4 times would be justified but not 16 times.

The HKSE is clearly doing very well. By contrast, the SGX is doing badly.

The decline of SGX has been happening for a few years already.

Many friends have told me that they gave up their occupation as a remisier in SGX. The trading volume is low. They cannot cover their operating cost, let alone earn a small income to live on.

What happened to SGX?

I organized a small discussion in my Facebook page last year and received many useful feedback.

The key factors were:

a) There were a few cases of manipulated trading of small penny stocks and China shares that caused losses by small investors. The investors blamed SGX for their poor regulation.

b) The removal of the share price display in teletext discouraged many older investors from trading in SGX. These investors were not technologically savvy and found it difficult to get the prices from the Internet.

c) Some elderly investors gave up trading in stocks after MAS introduced the financial literacy test. They do not feel confident of passing the test. It could be a language issue.

The low trading volume in SGX had a spiral effect. Other investors started to move out of SGX to trade in HKSE and other exchanges. I know of many people in Singapore who have moved to trade in HKSE.

The Internet makes it easy for investors to trade in other exchanges.

I suspect that 10% to 20% of the trading volume in HKSE are from Singapore based investors. These trading volume could have come to SGX to increase its volume by 4 times and give a better balance between the 2 exchanges.

What can be done to improve volumes in SGX?

I suggest the following steps:

a) For the MAS and SGX to be more active in protecting small investors from malpractices by listed companies. A more active regulator will build trust among the small investors.

b) For SGX to introduce a way of displaying the prices of the listed shares in the Internet that can be accessed by mobile phones and in the same format as teletext.

c) Remove the financial literacy test. Investors know the risks that they are taking. The test is not necessary and is a hindrance.

The people in charge have to take steps to improve the trading volume of SGX. We cannot be a financial hub with a moribund exchange.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Fake news

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Are Singaporeans naive about fake news?

Here are the responses: (58 Votes)
38 % - The govt is over blowing up this issue.
26 % - They are complacent and not aware about the harm that fake news can be used by state sponsored organizations to create rift in our society.
24 % - Most people are able to discern the truth and will not be gullible.
12 % - They are naive about fake news.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Low income worker

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is a good way to raise the wage of low income worker?

Here are the responses: (61 Votes)
61 % - Introduce a minimum wage, like in most countries.
23 % - Stop the inflow of foreign workers 
13 % - Get the public sector to pay adequate wages and set the benchmark for the private sector.
3 % - Introduce the progressive wage system for more categories of jobs

See the pie chart at:

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

What a coincidence!

I want to share a strange coincidence.

I watched Home Alone 2 on Netflix.

The boy Kevin got into the wrong plane from his family and went to New York. His family went to Florida.

While wondering around New York, he saw the World Trade Center. The film was made before the 9-11 terrorist attack, so the two towers were still there.

Kevin walked into the Plaza Hotel in New York. He had seen an advertisement that of the great hotel experience.

In the hallway, he asked a man where is the lobby. A man pointed out the way. He looked familiar, like Donald Trump.

I checked Google and found this explanation:

The Plaza Hotel is a landmark 20-story luxury hotel and condominium apartment building in the ... Westin sold The Plaza to Donald Trump for $390 million on March 27, 1988.

It was Donald Trump in the movie. At that time, he was some twenty or more years younger.

Tonight, the voters are going to vote for the mid-term election. Will the results be good or bad for President Donald Trump?

We will wait and see.

If you are on Netflix, go to watch Home Alone 2 and experience the coincidences that I went through.

Tan Kin Lian

Sill no solution for internet access?

I find this situation quite depressing. The health workers need to access the internet. The recent hacking of the SingHealth database has caused a reaction that is rather extreme, i.e. no access through the Internet. This is not the solution.…/singhealth-top-executive-hope…

I am surprised that within the govt circles, they are still not able to find a solution. It shows incompetency.

WOTC - Retrenchment benefit

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should employers be required to give retrenchment benefits?

Here are the responses: (54 Votes)
72 % - This will ensure that workers are protected against unfair dismissals.
13 % - It should be given only after the worker has served two years.
13 % - It should be capped at a maximum of six months salary to be affordable to employers.
2 % - It will make the workers lazy.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Changi Airport

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is Changi Airport doing well?

Here are the responses: (52 Votes)
33 % - Airlines and travelers avoid Changi Airport because its charges are much higher than other regional airports.
31 % - It is doing well as more airlines are adding flights.
23 % - It does well because it has a captive market of Singaporeans who can afford to spend.
13 % - It is doing well only in the holiday seasons.

See the pie chart at:

Monday, November 05, 2018

Hawker stalls built from containers

I like Tay Kheng Soon's suggestion to have hawker stalls made from containers.

Here are my reasons:

a) The containers are low cost due to large scale production.
b) They can be prefabricated to serve as hawker stalls.
c) They can be transported quickly.
d) It is possible to set up a hawker street in a few days.

It can be costly and time consuming to build a hawker centers. So, this concept from TKS is a good alternative.

Click here for TKS's concept.

Pay an adequate compensation for NSF and NS reservist for death and injury

There were several deaths of NSF during training.

Are the deaths excessive, relative to the number of soldiers that are trained?

Were they caused by negligence of the officers who were responsible for the training? Is there a culture of disregard for the safety of the trainees?

Some people think that each death is one too many.

I do not share this view. Accidents do happen. We cannot be over cautious to the extent of hampering the training or operations.

Who should be responsible for the deaths?

a) The officers directly supervising the training?
b) The military commanders higher up the chain?
c) The ministers in the defense ministry?

A committee of inquiry is being held for the recent death. But this involves only one event.

Should we have a committee of inquiry to look into the bigger issue - is there disregard for the safety of the NSF?

All these questions will take a long time to reach an answer. And the answer will still be inconclusive. It is a difficult issue.

There is one action that can be taken that will address most of the complaints.

The govt should give an adequate compensation for each NSF or NS reservists who is injured or dies while under compulsory service.

What is adequate?

I carried out a vote in the wisdom of the crowd. The majority consider the compensation to be $1 million.

I think that this is too much. I prefer a lower compensation. I prefer a sum of $300,000 for death, and a proportionate amount according to the degree of injury or disability.

This would represent 10 years of earning based on $2,500 a month.

Financial compensation is not a good consolation for the loss of a loved one. But it is better than $5,000, right?

I know that this sum is not adequate to replace the potential earning of a person who could enter into a highly paid occupation. But it should be based on the average of all NSF and not on the potential of each individual person.

Even when adequate compensation is provided, we should still expect the Singapore Armed Forces to ensure that all necessary safety precautions are taken and that negligent training officers should be held to account. But we should avoid extreme cautious measures that hamper the training.

I now come back to the question - should the high military commanders and the ministers be held to account?

It is difficult to make this judgment based on inadequate information. A committee of inquiry should be formed to address this question. The public can make their judgment based on the findings of this COI.

At this time, I will leave it to the defense minister to decide, in his own conscience, whether he should stay in the office.

But I expect him to take action now to get the govt to pay an adequate compensation.

I have suggested a sum of $300,000. Maybe he can justify a different figure?

Tan Kin Lian

Fave has a good "Help" feature

Fave has a good "Help" feature in their website.

I can send an email with just the name, email, message and add up to 5 files.

It is easy to use.

Most organizations make it very difficult to send feedback. Fave is a good alternative.

Tax more and give vouchers

The govt has taxed the people far too much - GST, water, electricity, public transport, hawker stall rental, etc.

They now have to give vouchers to many people to pay for these high prices.

The distribution and accounting of the vouchers create additional costs that increases the cost of living.

It is wasteful and crazy.

Continue your life insurance policy?

Do you want to receive a free e-book to explain whether you should or not continue your existing life insurance policy?

Vote on the performance of these agencies and ministers and receive it immediately.

Click here.

You can click on the Facebook or Google logo to sign in immediately. Alternatively, you can enter your email and password.

WOTC - Prof Tommy Koh and inequality

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Prof Tommy Koh spoke on inequality.

Here are the responses: (55 Votes)
42 % - I agree with Prof Koh's views. that a minimum wage should be introduced.
27 % - I agree with his comment that the Straits Times had been unfair in not reporting his views. 
22 % - It is brave of Prof Koh to speak his mind against the views of the ministers.
9 % - I do not trust Prof Koh as he has been supporting the PAP all along.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Third link to Johor

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should Singapore build a third link to Johore?

Here are the responses: (56 Votes)
39 % - Introduce joint clearance, so that travelers can clear both immigration checkpoints at the same building. 
36 % - It is better to streamline the flow of traffic across the existing two links.
21 % - It will ease the traffic congestion at the current two links.
4 % - It will cost a lot of money and take a long time to build

See the pie chart at:

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Small surveys can give reliable results

What is the number of votes that gives a reliable indicator?

My answer is 25.

Here is an example. I asked the question - will you vote for Lee Hsien Yang if he stands in your constituency.

After 25 votes, I got the answer - 80% yes, 20% no.

When it reached 100 votes, the proportion is still the same - 80% yes, 20% no, with a margin of difference of maybe 2%.

I have observed this pattern for many of the Facebook polls that I have taken.

The statistician will state that a sample size of 25 is quite reliable for this kind of yes/no poll.

Many of the surveys in The Wisdom of the Crowd have more than 50 votes. I believe that the results are quite reliable.

There will be some bias if the questions tend to be political and a large proportion of the voters are pro or anti govt.

But for non political issues, the results are quite reliable.

New hawker centers

You can view the many feedbacks on the new hawker centers here. Several are copied from the letters to the newspapers.
These suggestions show the failure of the NEA in managing this new venture.

A more efficient structure of bus services

I share my view on the problem with the current structure of bus services.

There are about 350 different services. This is too many. The ordinary passenger cannot remember the routes for these services.

A mobile phone app will be helpful, but only to those who know how to use the app. There are many people who does not know how to use the app, who do not have a mobile phone, or the battery has died.

On a busy roads, the bus stop can have more than 10 different services. A passenger may only wish to take the bus for a short distance down the road. But he does not know which service to take as some service may turn at a intersection before reaching that destination.

He has to ask the driver. But sometimes there is difficult in communication.

What is a better structure?

It is called the hub and spoke structure. Within each town, there will be not more than five feeder services that take passengers to one or two express stops and to the town center or MRT station.

The feeder services will also be to take passengers to other destinations within the town.

For travel to another town, the passenger will take the feeder service to an express stop, change to an express service to reach another town and change to a feeder service to the final destination.

The express service will travel along the expressway and will only stop at the express stops along the way.

This structure will reduce the travel time, as the express stops connect the towns and make a limited number of stops along the way.

There is a small number of feeder services in each town. They can be identified by A, B, C, D, E and will travel along certain routes within the town. Their routes can be easily shown in a town map.

This will be a more efficient structure. Do you agree?

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Embrace excellence

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Minister Chan CS ask to embrace excellence and shun selfish elitism.

Here are the responses: (55 Votes)
58 % - He just talk high sounding words, but no concrete action.
36 % - He should introduce concrete measures to improve the wages of low income workers.
4 % - The people have to play a part to shun elitism
2 % - I agree with the minister.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Repeal of section 377A

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should section 377A be repealled?

Here are the responses: (52 Votes)
37 % - I support the repeal
35 % - We should hold a referendum to get the view of the people. This should be optional, to reduce cost. 
19 % - I oppose the repeal
10 % - The govt should decide and not leave it to the future generation

See the pie chart at:

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