Saturday, December 08, 2018

Relations between friends

My friend wants to borrow my car. I am not using it. It does not cost me anything to lend the car to my friend.

Should I lend the car to my friend, or negotiate for some benefit in return, such as the access to their holiday home in another country?

I would not negotiate for the "package". It is not friendly.

I will lend my car to the friend, without condition. I would trust that he will let me use his holiday home when I need it, and if it is available.

My friend might let me down, but I would take that risk. That is what friends are for. We have to trust each other.

I believe that the same approach can be done for relations between neighboring countries.

I do not agree with the "negotiate a package" approach that was adopted by the govt in dealing with issues concerning Malaysia. History had shown that it did not work. It was difficult to negotiate a complicated package.

I am not totally adverse to negotiate a package with another country. But there need to be room for give and talk, and some leeway for generosity.

If both parties want to get the best deal, without regard for the interest and fairness to the other party, then the deal will not be struck.

Tan Kin Lian

Have an open mind towards a more protectionist world

China is now promoting globalization. But critics complained that many industries in China are still protected or are receiving govt subsidies.

Rather than complain about China, the other countries can also adopt the same approach, i.e. to protect some of their industries through tariffs and other measures.

The tariffs should be non-discriminatory, i.e. they should be applied to all countries. The intent is to protect the local industry and allow it to grow.

The tariffs increase the cost to consumers. There is nothing wrong with this approach. Consumption and sales tax, such as GST, also increase cost to consumers.

The higher cost to consumers caused by tariffs brings revenue to the govt. The govt needs revenue to provide social welfare for low income people and to provide essential services, such as health care, education and infrastructure to the people.

Some economists argue that tariffs allow the local manufacturers to make excessive profits. They cannot make the excessive profits because the country could raise the wages of workers and improve the working conditions. This will give better income to the workers, which will be good for the long term development of the country.

If the local businesses, through tariff protections, make more profit (and after paying more to the workers), the govt can take a share of their profit through taxation.

Under the current globalized system, it is difficult to get corporations to pay their share of tax because they can shift their profits to tax havens.

I am in favor of protectionism and tariffs as a way to put the global economy into a more sustainable path. It will help to improve wages and reduce inequality around the world.

Small countries, such as Singapore, will be adversely affected by a more protectionist world. We can find our niche in the new environment. As a small and well educated country, we should be able to make the adjustment. We must.

With protectionism, there will still be ample opportunity for world trade. Not every country wants to produce all of the products and services that they need. They would prefer to buy many of the products from other countries.

World trade will continue, but will be at a lower scale than now.

We need an open mind to address the challenges of the global economy and to reduce the gross inequality that exists in many countries, which is likely to cause more social unrests.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - most respected 4G leaders (1)

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Which of these 4G leaders do you respect most?

Here are the responses: (45 Votes)
38 % - Tan Chuan Jin
36 % - Heng Swee Keat
13 % - Ong Ye Kung
9 % - Chan Chun Sing
4 % - Gan Kim Yong

See the pie chart at:

WOT - Compensation of life insurance agents

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should MAS review the compensation of life insurance agents?

Here are the responses: (68 Votes)
31 % - They should ensure that the compensation packages are reasonable.
29 % - They compensation packages are too generous and are at the expense of consumers.
22 % - They should leave it to the market.
18 % - The migration of agents due to high payouts is bad for the life insurance industry.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Smart city project

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is the smart city project making good progress

Here are the responses: (76 Votes)
62 % - It will be another disaster, due to poor management.
20 % - It has created a few initiates that are struggling.
18 % - It has made a small impact and need more time to be fully implemented.
0 % - It has launched several initiatives that are doing very well.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Confidence in 4G leaders

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Are you confident about the new generation (4G) leaders?

Here are the responses: (83 Votes)
61 % - I do not have confidence in the new team, due to their background.
30 % - They are likely to keep to the current policies, as they will be reluctant to make big changes.
5 % - Being a new generation, they now have the chance to bring about big changes in govt policies.
4 % - We have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

See the pie chart at:

Friday, December 07, 2018

Resolve the water issue

The 1962 water agreement with the Malaysian govt allows the water price to be revised in 1987, i.e. after 25 years. Malaysia did not take up this revision.

Singapore govt said that Malaysia lost the right to revise the price, because they failed to act. They quote "international law". They have legal experts to confirm this position.

The Malaysian side also has legal experts who took the view that that they did not lose the right to raise the water price, even though they did not act earlier.

Who is right?

I don't know. But I know who is wrong. The amount involved is $15 million a year. It would cost us much more to argue the case in international court. The expert lawyers will be very happy, thank you very much.

There is also a moral issue. I do not expect my 1962 rental to remain the same today. It probably went up 15 times, maybe more.

What is the cost of producing water through other means, i.e. desalination and osmosis? Can this be a benchmark?

My common sense says, pay Dr. M the 50 sens that he ask for. The amount ($15 million a year) is too small to quibble. The cost of the quibbling, and the ensuing disputes over water and air rights, is many times more than $15 million a year.

Some people worry. Will Malaysia take this opportunity to bring up other issues? They might, but their case on the new issues will be much weaker.

However, I trust the people and the govt of Malaysia to be reasonable. We can only build good relations based on trust, understanding and mutual respect.

Tan Kin Lian

Extending a helping hand

Some people think that Dr. M is back to his old ways of "do Singapore in". This perception is also being fanned by some people at senior levels and the media.

I have a different view. Here are my reasons:

a) Dr. M today is quite different from the past. He came back from retirement to remove a kleptocratic govt (quoting the description that he used). He does not want to see his country go down the drain.

b) Malaysia faced financial challenges. His ministers approached Singapore to waive the penalty for the cancellation of the High Speed Rail. We refused. He asked Singapore to pay a higher price for the water. We refused.

c) He came to Singapore during the ASEAN meeting to receive an honorary doctor of law degree (which he does not need). His main purpose was, in my guess, to talk about the price of water. The meeting concluded with an understanding to continue discussions. We are talking about $15 million a year, not a lot of money.

Dr. M must be disappointed at the attitude of the Singapore govt leaders. I can understand his disappointment.

I have been alarmed at the billions that we spend on infrastructure projects in Singapore. In some cases, I felt the large sums spent were excessive and unnecessary.

I would certainly have preferred to spend just a few hundred millions to build good relations with Malaysia, especially during their hour of need.

Sadly, we did not extend a hand of help. We missed the opportunity to build goodwill.

We will now pay the price for the bad relations. It will cost many times more than the money that we should have spent.

Some people will argue that we need to be "principled" and to adhere to the rule of law.

I cannot understand why being "principled" should preclude us from being generous in helping someone who needs the help.

There is still time to change our approach. I hope that our foreign minister can play a role in bringing this about. He should not miss this opportunity.

Tan Kin Lian

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

WOTC - Facebook and fake news

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is Facebook a good tool for people to communicate.

Here are the responses: (55 Votes)
55 % - It is a good tool for people to communicate and share information.
40 % - The benefits outweigh the risks.
5 % - It has been misused to spread lies and falsehood.
0 % - It has been used to spread hate and terrorist activity.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Fake news law

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Do we need a fake news law?

Here are the responses: (54 Votes)
76 % - The fake news law can be abused to silence critics of the govt policies.
13 % - It is needed to stop people from spreading hatred and racist comments.
7 % - The existing laws can cope with the lies and hate speech.
4 % - A new law is required to stop people from deliberately spreading lies.

See the pie chart at:

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

On demand bus service

I may be proved wrong.

But my common sense finds that it is not practical to operate an on-demand bus service with a large bus.

If the bus is to be despatched from its terminal, it will take quite a long time to arrive at the pickup point. It will not work for the commuters.

If the bus is already on route, it will arrive at the pickup point based on its distance anyway.

An on demand service will probably work with a smaller vehicle, maybe a 8 or 12 seater bus. We already have Grabshare that operates with a car. Allow a light bus to be used.

Anyway, let us wait and see how things turn out.

I read that there is a problem of scheduling bus during the off peak period.

This problem can be handled by analyzing the data. It should be possible to change the frequency of each bus service to meet the actual demand.

It will work better if we convert our current structure of 350 bus services to a new structure that involves maybe 30 intertown expressway services to take passengers from one town to another.

Within the town, the passengers will travel by local services.

I hope, after the six month's trial for the on demand bus services, that my suggestion will be considered.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Mechanical counting of votes

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

The Election Department is introducing mechanical counting of votes.

Here are the responses: (78 Votes)
49 % - We should introduce a more efficient system and ensure that there is transparency and security.
40 % - I prefer the votes to be manually counted.
6 % - I prefer to have electronic voting, instead of manual ballot paper.
5 % - This is more efficient than manual counting.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Heng SK as prime minister

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:
What are your views about Heng SK being the next prime minister?

Here are the responses: (82 Votes)
37 % - He will not address the underlying problems that need to be changed.
34 % - I am pessimistic about the future of Singapore.
27 % - He is probably the best that is available.
2 % - I am optimistic for the future

See the pie chart at:

Monday, December 03, 2018

Prepare for the post globalization era

I advocate a more protectionist world. It will help to protect jobs in high wage countries. This will work for large economies, such as America, European Union, China.

How will a more protectionist world affect Singapore, which has a small domestic market and depends on providing services for global trade?

We have to find out own solution. We should not continue to benefit from an economic system that produces high inequality and problems for many countries.

What are the solutions?

a) We can find our own niches, and provide new services that are needed by people in other countries.

b) We have to reduce our cost of doing business and cost of living. They are now among the highest in the world.

c) We have to cut down on wasteful spending.

d) We have to improve the efficiency. We should stop wasting time on implementing convoluted schemes. We need to simplify.

e) We need to join with other small countries to create a larger market, like small countries in the European Union.

I am optimistic that we can find the solution in the new global system, which must come within the next decade.

As a small country, we have the advantage of being easy to manage. We can create a clean and green environment that attracts people to come and live here, and to study here.

We can be the showcase of how a city should be run. We were once a showcase, but the current leaders messed it up. This can be corrected.

If we do not recognize the reality of the new global challenges, we will face more difficulty.

The era of globalization is over. The world will become more protectionist. And that will generally be good.

Tan Kin Lian

How to make America great again

I like to give best wishes to America. They were once a great country and have done a lot of good for the world.

Sadly, America has deteriorated over the past three decades - in terms of their economy, infrastructure and social fabric.

President Trump will not make America great again with his divisive policies.

America needs to return back to the economic policies in the past, i.e. which occurred for four decades after the second world war.

There were two important components of their economic policies during this period:

a) social programs to reduce inequality
b) protectionism - which allow the country to provide good paying jobs to its citizens.

The removal of protectionism was a great time for the multi national corporations. They became big and powerful. They made huge profits but moved them to tax havens and paid little tax.

However, it was a bad period for the working people who suffered through depressed wages and poor working conditions.

I am not advocating trade wars of the type practised by President Trump. I believe in tariffs that make it possible for manufacturing to survive and serve the domestic market. And it is a large market. This will allow well paying jobs to be protected in America.

I believe that this is the economic approach adopted by China. They imposed certain tariffs on foreign products to allow their domestic industry to survive and grow.

America is angry at these tariffs imposed by China and want them removed. That is a wrong strategy. Instead, America should get the Chinese economic planners to advise them on how to introduce similar tariffs in America.

When countries introduce more protectionism, global trade will still continue, but on a lesser scale. There are quality products manufactured in some countries that will still be demanded by consumers in other countries, in spite of the tariffs.

America can start to develop its infrastructure and create well paying jobs for its people. It does not need to depend on its defense industry to the same extent that exists now.

What an irony. America helped to rebuild China after the opening up of China's economy. It is now time for China to help to rebuild America by introducing the correct economic policies.

Tan Kin Lian

PS - I know that my views are controversial. You may disagree, but be polite and give your reasons. Rude comments (from idiots) will be deleted and the idiots will be banned.

Simulation of next general election

I expect a swing of 15% to 20% against the PAP at the next general election, due to several factors.

Click on these links to see the results of the simulation.

15% swing

20% swing

The actual seats won by the non PAP parties may change, due to realignment of the parties, but the seats won by the PAP is likely to be quite stable.

You can carry out your own simulation here:

Note - the results of the simulation for the same swing percentage by differ due to a random factor built into the simulation. You can try the same swing a few times and see how the results may differ. The difference will be small.

WOTC - Require MC for sick leave

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should employees be required to get a MC for sick leave?

Here are the responses: (47 Votes)
38 % - It is better to allow the employee to have up to 3 days of sick leave without getting a MC.
36 % - It is a good way to ensure that the employee is really sick.
19 % - Some employees abuse the privilege to get many days of sick leave.
6 % - Some doctors issue MCs freely, even to employees who are not sick.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Build terminal 5 when airspace is limited

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Why are we building terminal 5 when our airspace is limited?

Here are the responses: (49 Votes)
84 % - We are quite wasteful in spending on infrastructure.
10 % - Terminal 5 will allow greater efficiency for the airport.
4 % - The planners probably overlook this important consideration.
2 % - The limited airspace is due to weather condition. We can have more planes on normal days.

See the pie chart at:

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Vote non PAP - you will win either way

Half of the respondents of a poll preferred the non PAP parties to work together to win the general election and form the next govt. This will allow the bad policies to be changed.

The other half preferred that they win at least one third of the seats in Parliament.

The option to form a new govt requires the non PAP parties to form a coalition and to contest under one logo. This is not likely to happen. The SDP had called a meeting of the non PAP parties and asked Dr. Tan Cheng Bock to lead the coalition. He was open to that idea at that meeting.

However, there was no further development since that meeting. The grapevine reported that Dr. Tan is forming a new party. We will have yet another new party.

The unhappiness with the policies of the current PAP govt seems to be quite widespread among most segments of the society. There is clearly a yearning for change. Most people want to see change.

It is quite likely that there will be three strong non PAP parties at the next general election - the Workers Party, the SDP and Dr. Tan's new party.

What about the other parties that contested unsuccessfully at the previous election and the new party formed by Lim Tean? Tean's party seemed to have quite a good following and has a large impact in social media.

It will be best for these smaller parties to join one of the three major parties. (I am giving credit to Dr. Tan's party as being a major party). Being a new party, it is likely to be able to attract the merger of the smaller parties.

The next best thing for the non-PAP supporters is to see three major non PAP parties contesting the next general election against the PAP. It should be easy for these non PAP parties to have an understanding of the constituencies that they should be contesting, e.g. WP in the east, Dr Tan's party in the west and SDP in the north and central.

The widespread unhappiness may bring about a 15% to 20% swing against the PAP. This could lead to the non PAP parties taking over 15 to 25 seats in Parliament. It will be a healthier state of affairs for Singapore.

The PAP will still govern. But they will have to change some of their bad policies to avoid the risk of being kicked out of govt at the following general election. This change will be welcomed.

What if the PAP loses the majority in Parliament? They are likely to form a coalition with one of the other parties. It would be a good outcome.

My message to the people is - vote non PAP. You will win either way.

Tan Kin Lian

Our tax system punishes the middle class

Rachel Ash said.
Mr Tan. Our current tax system "punishes" the middle class. The "poor" does not pay tax while the rich have the means to pay "little" tax through clever accounting and personal expenses deducted as company's expense.

The middle class literally pays full tax as most are civil servants or purely salaried person. Hence, it is the middle class who is "supporting" the poor and not the rich.

As a citizen, I never cheat on my taxes because I felt it is a social responsibility. I have gotten to the extend of writing in to the IRS informing them that I forgotten to pay tax on a certain income that occurred 10 years ago. It was done NOT out of fear but plainly did NOT want our authorities to give excuse that we are evasive in helping our needy in society.

Unfortunately, the less than prudent spending by our government of white elephants (expensive computer system that cannot connect is left to rot; rubbish bin which can buy a BTO 5 room flat; Brompton bicycle because some civil servants got expensive backside; Herman M chairs that cost $500 plus for office in civil service departments; etc........

Moving the country forwards takes two hands to clap.

I agree with your views.

Shopping at Lazada

I bought a lot of stuff from Lazada. I joined their Live up membership and get a 5% discount on all purchase and also free shipping.

I am able to compare the prices of the same product offered by other sellers, so that gives me a good idea about what is a fair price. Often I go for the lowest.

I also get a good description of the product. It improves my product knowledge and helps me to make the right choice.

Lazada offers a 7 day return policy. If the product is defective or not as advertised, I return it and get a full refund. For large items, they send a collection van. For small items, I go to the POP station.

Previously, I shopped at Q0010. But I do not like the confusing pricing structure of Q0010. They quote a price and then add on for their options. It is confusing. I stopped shopping at Q0010.

I am able to find most of the items that I need from Lazada. So, I do not need to go to other online websites.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Police questioning of editor of TOC

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

The police called up the editor of TOC for questioning.

Here are the responses: (51 Votes)
61 % - This is police harassment.
16 % - The questioning is unreasonable and takes too long.
14 % - Why should the filming equipment be taken away?
10 % - This is an acceptable practice.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Relations between Singapore and Malaysia

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Who is responsible for the unsteady relations between Malaysia and Singapore?

Here are the responses: (51 Votes)
55 % - Lee Hsien Loong. He is inflexible.
24 % - Dr. Mahathir. He does not like Singapore.
20 % - Relations will improve.
2 % - It is better to maintain unsteady relations.

See the pie chart at:

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