Hello, I want to pass this message to LHL. Your open market for electricity is in a mess. I signed up with Keppel Electric to have their supply to my office a few years ago. Someone came a few months to renew the contract. Today, another person came to my office, also wanting to renew the contract. Does Keppel Electric have a proper record of the renewal? I don't know what is the status now. Why does LHL want to introduce this kind of complicated and costly measures? He could have just asked SP Services to reduce the electricity charges by 20%, instead of opening up the retail market.
Why are Singaporeans so slow in accepting electronic payment?
Do they realize that currency notes can be easily faked? What would happen if some crooks flood the market with fake Singapore dollar notes?
When you accept a US dollar note, do you realize that it may be faked? With so much US notes floating around, there is a high chance that you may be receiving faked notes.
Apart from fake notes, the handling of currency notes is also inefficient and costly. Merchants have to count the notes and give change. When they bank in their notes, they also have to count. The bank also has to count.
Apart from China, India is also moving to e-payment in a big way. And very fast also.
Will Singapore prove to be among the last countries in the world to move to e-payment?
A person wrote to the St Times to complain about the wastage of paper in printing receipts for small purchases, e.g. supermarkets, etc.
I agreed. The receipts are hardly needed.
Another person replied that his company's accounts dept always insist on getting a receipt to recover the GST.
How wasteful. We are creating a lot of work, and wasting a lot of paper, just to handle GST. This is the hidden cost of GST that many people do not realize.
I call the GST system a "bits and pieces" system. We collect GST, refund it, collect again, etc. It is so wasteful and adds a lot of administrative cost.
I dislike the GST system of collecting and refunding "bits and pieces". I prefer that GST be entirely abolished and that the lost GST revenue should be recovered from income tax - if indeed it is necessary.
I believe that we can abolish GST without the need to replace the revenue, as the govt runs a big annual surplus.
If some revenue is needed, it can be collected as a tax on certain "luxury items", rather than collected GST in "bits and pieces".
The govt has increased the public transport fare by an average of 7% on 28 Dec 2019. It is a hefty increase.
This increase could have been avoided if the govt reduces the operating cost by streamlining the bus network.
I have given this suggestion a few months ago. The revised network will reduce operating cost and actually reduce the travelling time. However, it does require commuters to make an additional transfer.
I do not agree. There was no need to release the name, as it was not relevant to the issue. They could have continued to use a pseudonym as the facts of the case were correct.
The fact that the other agencies were "actively assisting" her is irrelevant. She did not receive the timely help that she needed.
The disclosure of the actual name is an unnecessary invasion of privacy and a form of intimidation. It should not be done in this manner by an "official body".
It was also ridiculous for the post to be issued jointly by several agencies. Surely one agency could issue it on behalf of the other agencies? It is this kind of wasteful practice that make it difficult to change bad practices, as so many "cooks" are involved.
The govt spend $1 billion a year on the SkillsFuture fund to provide training for older workers to get new skills and to help retrenched workers to get re-employment.
So far, the anecdotal evidence is that this training did not help many people to get re-employment. The money goes to provide general training that are "interesting" to the workers, but are not effective in helping them to get a job.
A woman called me. She wanted to engage me to help her to deal with a problem.
20 years ago, she took a loan on her life insurance policy. The loan carried an interest rate of 5.5%. She did not repay the loan for all of these years and the loan, with interest accumulated to more than $15,000.
She now learned that she had an option of en-cashing the bonus on her policy, instead of taking a loan.
Why didn't the servicing staff of the company told her about this option?
She could also have surrendered her policy at that time, either in part or in full.
Anyway, the value of the bonus would also have accumulated over the past 20 years, although it may not be at the same rate as the interest of 5.5% charged on the loan.
There was no way of finding out if the servicing staff had told her of these options. It would be difficult to argue about what she was told or not told 20 years ago.
She could have also raised this issue at any time during the past 20 years.
I declined to take up her case, because it does not have any merit.
I told her over the phone - sorry, I have to end this call.
An elderly woman went to a bank. The relationship manager (RM) introduced her to a life insurance policy. He asked her to invest $300,000 into the policy for another 40 years.
The woman approached me for my guidance. I asked her to make a donation of $150 to FISCA. She never came back.
I hope that she did not buy that policy. It gave a yield of 0.2% p.a. for the first 20 years. If she kept the policy for 40 year, the yield would be between 2.6% and 3.9% depending on projected investment return. It is not guaranteed.
The woman is unlikely to keep the policy for 40 years. She would be senile at that time.
It is a bad investment.
If she terminated the policy during the first year, she would suffer a loss of $60,000. The surrender value would be $60,000 less than the invested sum.
The life insurance cover is negligible.
Why should the policy cost so much? It is a "rip off" policy to catch the unsuspecting buyer.
The distribution cost, which is used to pay the RM and the bank, is $30,000. Here is a person who refuses to make a donation of $150 and is not aware that she is paying $30,000 to the RM for selling her this bad investment.
Penny wise, pound foolish!
Could she invest in other safe investment to earn a better yield. Most certainly she can.
If she invest for 20 years or longer, she should invest in an index fund, such as the STI exchange traded fund. The risk is minimal. The long term yield is likely to be between 4% and 6% p.a. It is not guaranteed, but quite safe for a long term investment.
Wisdom of the Crowd: the participants prefer to see the following changes in HDB rules - Govt to buy back old flats at fair valuation (40%), allow expiring lease to be extended (32%), relax use of CPF savings for old HDB flats (15%), allow citizens to opt out of CPf when they rent flats (12%).
Wisdom of the Crowd: the participants choose the following govt policies as affecting citizens most in a negative way - insecurity of jobs and inadequate pay (57%), inability to withdraw savings at age 55 (26%), HDB lease decay (15%)
I saw a report that Grab is applying for a digital banking license in Singapore. I am not able to verify the authenticity of this report.
Assuming that it is true, what are the services that Grab intends to provide to their customers?
They have an advantage in that Grab has a large customer base that has deposited money in their e-wallets for Grab rides. If not, they have the credit card numbers of their customers and use it for making payments.
What other services can Grab provide, under the digital bank license?
I believe that they will encourage their customers to deposit a larger sum with them, and earn interest that is higher than that offered by the bank on short term deposits. If the interest rate is 1% p.a., it would be attractive to customers.
Perhaps Grab can also offer consumer loans?
Maybe, with a banking license, Grab can go out and enrol merchants for digital payments, similar to AliPay and WeChat Pay.
Last Friday morning I chanced upon an elderly female on the sidewalk at Victoria Street. She asked me for directions to Coleman Street in order to attend a job interview.
I gestured to her the routes. However she did not appear to fully comprehend my explanations. To assuage her anxiety, I offered to walk her from Victoria Street to her place of interview. I learnt from this 65 years old lady that she was recently retrenched from her company. She was displaced by another new employee of Vietnamese nationality; a 26 years old female for the office cleaning job.
Many organizations in Singapore have an inefficient way of communicating their customers.
I often get a call on my mobile phone from an "unknown number". It is usually a land line. I do not pick up the call, because it comes an an inconvenient time or it might be a marketing call that I wish to avoid.
First, Xi Jinping is not a Donald Trump. Xi let’s his trade experts manage the trade situation that has China’s best interest at heart. Xi will be kept informed as conditions progress. China has been meeting and coordinating trade with other Asian countries. Trump has isolated the US. To replace US imports to China, trade representatives are getting new agreements from alternate sources. China is also making changes to her agricultural lands to replace imports from the US.
China’s exports to the US represents 18% of her total world exports, so while important, survivable. It won’t go to zero, but certainly something less than 18%. Much of China’s imports from the US are agricultural products and aircraft. They are replaceable with alternate suppliers.
Part of the equation, intentional or not, the Yuan has dropped in value, so it offsets some of the tariff damage on exports. We’ll see how this plays out as the damage becomes more visible. Right now, China’s focus is on technology and domestic consumption. The trade problem appears to be only with the US. Other countries have no trade disagreements or as in the case of the EU, they are talking about trade concessions and opening the China market wider to them. The world, including China, is moving to accommodate the US trade war.
Masao Miwa, Always interested, especially Asia Answered Dec 13
Currently, US trade represents 18% of China’s exports. However, because of actions by the US to threaten that trade with tariffs, China is moving to reduce the threat to her economy by trade and investments with the other countries. China’s trade as a percent of GDP has been falling since 2006, from a high of 64% to 38% in 2018, which puts China in the bottom quartile of dependence on trade. That trend will continue.
The issue is not just trade the issue of Huawei and 5G has more to do with China’s technology rise than trade. Huawei’s trade in the US before the ban was small but increasing, especially selling to small rural carriers, its mobile phone business was almost zero. In spite of Huawei’s ban to US markets, Huawei continues to sell well to the rest of the world and domestically. Other Chinese companies are recognizing the dangers in trade with the US and are creating their own backup plans for sourcing and for sales. You see a decoupling going on, one that won’t change overnight, But for sure it is occurring. US tech companies will be the big losers, same as happened to US soybean farmers, the China market lost because of US policies and actions.
Keep in mind there are other sectors that are being affected by the trade war. These are for the US to lose if Trump keeps pushing for demands China will not accept. Foreign affiliate sales are falling, tourism is falling, student enrollment is falling, and FDI dropped off a cliff in 2018. All are inputs of wealth from China that don’t show up in the trade figures. All these sectors are falling because of the trade issue and the general tone of the US against China. From meddling in China’s domestic affairs to bans and sanctions, all create a tone of retaliation and opposition instead of building on working together in peace.
“According to many in the United States, however, these flows are imbalanced to America’s disadvantage. Look no further, they argue, than America’s large trade deficit, which amounted to more than $622 billion in 2018, with China accounting for some $378 billion of it.
But there are serious problems with the simplistic cross-border trade-deficit metric – not least its failure to account for the business conducted within a foreign country’s borders. In 2016, (the latest year for which data are available), US multinationals, including their foreign affiliates, generated $5.8 trillion in sales in foreign countries.
That figure not only dwarfs direct US exports, which amounted to $2.2 trillion in 2016; it exceeds the $4.1 trillion in total sales by all foreign multinationals in the US market. When it comes to sales in foreign markets, therefore, the US had a “surplus” of $1.7 trillion in 2016 – three times larger than the US trade deficit of $502 billion that year. This has meant major profits for US multinationals: the ratio of overseas sales to foreign direct investment (FDI) implies that companies are doubling their initial investments.
Geographically, US multinational sales and FDI are concentrated primarily in Europe. In 2016, European sales by US multinationals reached $2.8 trillion, or just under half the global total. But FDI amounted to $3.3 trillion, meaning that every dollar of FDI produced $0.85 of sales. Europe thus represents a below-average market for US multinationals.
The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region – which ranks second for both US trade and sales by US multinationals – is more lucrative. APAC accounted for just over 29% of US exports in 2018, but 39.5% of imports, producing an overall trade deficit of $506.8 billion. But, returning to 2016 figures, US multinationals recorded $1.58 trillion in sales in the APAC region, while delivering $881 billion of FDI. For every dollar of investment in APAC, US multinationals gained $1.80 in sales.
One country is driving up this average: China. In 2016, US multinationals made $345.3 billion in sales, while investing $97.3 billion. That translates to an impressive sales-to-FDI ratio of 355%, up from 267% in 2009. (The much lower European ratio – 85% in 2016 – reflects a downward trend, from 123% in 2009.)
US companies’ sales in China dwarf Chinese firms’ sales in the US, which amounted to just $35 billion in 2016. In fact, by this measure, the US has a “surplus” of $310 billion. That is $2 billion larger than America’s bilateral trade deficit with China, meaning that, considering cross-border trade and overseas sales together, the positions of the US and China are roughly balanced. Meanwhile, US multinationals continue to reap huge profits in China – profits that, barring ill-advised interventions, will continue to grow.”
“Chinese travel to the U.S. fell another 2.4% in the first quarter of 2019. The pullback has taken a toll because Chinese tourists stay an average 18 days and spend an average of nearly $7,000 per trip – about 50% more than other international tourists, according to the U.S. Travel Association.Aug 9, 2019”
“Chinese enrollment in US universities is falling — several schools reported declines of one-fifth or more. Administrators and observers say trade conflicts and US concerns about the security risks posed by visiting Chinese students appear to be accelerating the trend.Sep 24, 2019”
“"It dropped from tens of billions of dollars several years ago to virtually zero. It's actually a contraction now. If you include sales of Chinese assets in the United States and add back in the investments, you still don't reach zero, you actually end up still somewhat below zero."”
Forest City provides a free shuttle from the transportation hub to Bukit Indah mall at scheduled hours. I went to the transportation hub to take the free shuttle.
I could not find a bus marked with Forest City. Instead, I saw a Causeway Link bus. The bus was nearly full, occupied by PRC nationals.
I asked if the bus was going to Bukit Indah Mall. Yes, it was. I asked what was the fare.
Several of the passengers answered in Chinese - it is free.
This was actually the free shuttle arranged by Forest City. They engaged Causeway Link to provide the shuttle service. The bus carried the Causeway Link name and was not repainted with Forest City colors.
After the shopping in Bukit Indah, I had to catch the return shuttle at the scheduled time. I was not sure where the pickup point was.
There were a queue of people down the road. Most of them looked like PRC nationals. I asked them - is this the pickup point for the shuttle bus to Forest City.
The gentleman answered - yes it was. He explained the expected arrival time and departure time.
That was very helpful.
I found the PRC nationals on both occasions to be helpful and alert. They were quick to give helpful answers, and were not shy.
Perhaps they were the more wealthy people, as they must have bought a property in Forest City and are staying there on holiday or more permanently.
I have read about PRC nationals misbehaving badly outside of China. But I have also seen PRC nationals that behaved in a helpful manner.
In 1973, the impeachment process started against President Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal. The investigation took one year. The House of Representative decided to take a vote on two articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress.
Before that vote was taken, Nixon resigned as President. At that time, it was clear that the vote would succeed and the matter will be taken to the next level at the Senate.
In 1998, the House of Representative passed a vote to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying under oath and obstruction of justice over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
The process went to the Senate but did not obtain the two third majority that was necessary to remove him from office. President Clinton served the remainder of his term of office.
In 2019, the House of Representative passed a vote to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power over the withholding of military aid to Ukraine for political gains and for obstruction of Congress over its investigation.
1. Ong YK will review the MOE practice of holding back certificates due to arrears. 2. Is it all right for the state to conduct surveillance in the public areas? 3. Should organizations make it easy for their customers to send emails?
Phone scanners, facial-recognition cameras and other technologies are heightening the authorities’ ability to spy on China’s nearly 1.4 billion people, according to police and private databases examined by The Times.
Individually, none of the tracking techniques are beyond the capabilities of other countries, including the U.S. But together, they could propel China’s spying to a new level, making its cameras and software smarter and more sophisticated.
The surveillance networks fulfill a longtime goal of ensuring social stability, but it’s unclear how well the police are using the capabilities, or how effective they are.
Big picture: The surveillance push has empowered the police, who are taking a greater role in China under President Xi Jinping and using fears of unrest to win power and resources. They can track criminals as well as online malcontents, sympathizers of the Hong Kong protests, critics of the police and more. It often targets vulnerable groups, like the Uighurs.
Quotable: “You’re uncomfortable with it,” said one technology worker. “But if you don’t do it, then there’s no possibility of living a life. There’s no way out.”
My view - we have to trust the state (whether China, America or Singapore) to use the surveillance for the right purpose, i.e. to preserve law and order).
Wisdom of the Crowd: 59% of the participants said the govt should respect the decision of the AHTC council and stop harassing them. 41% said the council should respect the decision of Parliament in passing the motion for the two MPs to recuse themselves from financial matters.
They make a net profit of 0.81 cents for 9 months or 1.08 cents for 1 year (pro-rata). Compared to the current price of $0.21, it shows a PE ratio of 19.4 times. This is somewhat high, so it reflects that the company is only marginally profitable.
The company has a net asset per share of 72.2 cents, which is 3.4 times of the current price of 21 cents.
The cash and bank balance is a healthy $53 million or 12.8 cents per share, which is 60% of the share price.
Koh Brothers have a large order book of $906 million which represents 2.6 years of their revenue.
I am quite encouraged by the results. The current price is quite low. I may increase my investment.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is increasingly employing a tactic used by authoritarians, not democracies, to stifle dissent.
India severed connectivity 93 times this year alone and 134 times last year, more than any other country, according to a monitoring group. The closest competitor, Pakistan, had 12 shutdowns last year.
Last week, the authorities in the northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura shut down the web after protests against a new citizenship law that will ease the path of non-Muslim migrants. And Kashmiris have not had internet access since August.
Source: SFLC.in, a legal advocacy group in New Delhi, tracked India’s shutdowns since 2012 using reports from journalists, advocacy groups and citizens.
Government explanation: The authorities say they are trying to stop the spread of misinformation, which can outpace their efforts to control it.
Big picture: The shutdowns are part of the tightening grip of the Modi administration, which has jailed hundreds of Kashmiris without charges, intimidated journalists, arrested intellectuals and suppressed negative economic reports. Critics say Mr. Modi is chipping away at India’s traditions of democracy and secularism.
Wisdom of the Crowd: 92% of the respondents to this survey agreed with the decision of AHTC to refuse to recuse the 2 MPs from financial decisions of the town council, in spite of the motion in Parliament.
Wah. POFMA can now be used to handle "interpretations" and not only "facts". Really? It is getting ridiculous.
Quote: “PAP spends S$167 million on Grants & Bursaries for Singaporeans, but S$238 million on foreign students??” wrote Mr Lim, who is representing blogger Leong Sze Hian in a defamation case involving Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
This implies that MOE spends less on Singaporean students than on foreign students, which is "false and misleading", states the Factually article.
The annual budget of MOE is S$13 billion, almost all of which is spent on Singapore citizens, and the S$167 million cited by Mr Lim refers only to bursaries for Singaporean tertiary students. Unquote:
What Lim Tean said is factually correct. The two figures of $167 million and $238 million are factually correct. What the government objects is the "interpretation" of the facts.
Since when does POFMA law, as it is passed, apply to "interpretations"?
I disagree with the interpretation of the government in addressing the issue. It is clear to me that the government does spend more on the foreign scholars, compared to the local scholars.
I also disagree with the government's approach to lump the full budget of MOE in the comparison. I think they are confusing the issue and misleading the public.
But, hey, this is just my opinion. Each person is entitled to his opinion.
POFMA is bad. And it has been abused against a few parties recently.
All politicians tell lies - regardless of the color of their party.
OK, they do not actually lie, but they misinform. They take some "facts" and "massage" it to give an impression that is favorable to them.
They have been doing it for decades.
It does not matter if the misinformation are given over TV, radio, newspapers, flyers, election rallies or social media.
It is unfair for them to stop the misinformation over social media, when they other channels are not blocked.
It is also unfair for one party, which is the government in power, to have the monopoly of decide what are "facts" and what are "falsehoods", especially when it comes into the realm of interpreting the "facts" to mold the perceptions of the people.
So, this is why POFMA is bad, especially when it is abused by the people in power to stifle a different perspective held by their opponents.
A case in point is the issue - is the government spending too much on educating foreigners at the expense of local students? This issue should be debated and not stifled by POFMA.
Over the past few weeks, I have seen several food delivery riders using their PMDs on the pavements.
They ride slowly, well within 10 kph, and do not cause any danger to pedestrians.
Among the riders are a young school girl (she looked like one) and three mature adults (of both genders). They have to make a living.
I like the government to allow registered food delivery riders to use the pavement provided that they ride at less than 10 kph and the food delivery platform takes up liability insurance for any injury caused by the use of the PMDs.
The platform should also modify their incentives to limit the number of deliveries per hour, so that there is no need for the riders to speed.
We have limited space in Singapore. We should share the space and use the space carefully and be considerate to other users.
I invite you to check my statement and issue any correction order. Thank you.
Many Singaporeans have the perception that the government gives better funding for foreign scholars, compared to local students. Why is this the case?
The government said that education in Singapore is largely funded by the government. However, they require the parent to contribute to a small portion of the cost of education by paying a small fee.
Some parents are unable to pay the fee, or did not bother to pay the fee. This has led to the practice for the school to hold back the education certificate until the fees are paid. It has caused stress and embarrassment to the students.
Are foreign scholars required to pay the fee, as their contribution to the cost of education?
I suspect that they are not required to pay this fee, and indeed that the government gives them additional funding to cover the living expenses in Singapore.
So, the funding for each foreign student is very much higher than the funding for Singapore students.
What about the funding for local scholars, who study in Singapore. Do they get the same benefit as foreign scholars who study in Singapore? Are they provided with an allowance to cover their living expenses?
If not, should the local scholars be treated the same as the foreign scholars?
Please provide the facts in the Factually website and issue me with the POFMA correction order. I will be delighted to post the "facts" as decided by the POFMA office.
A German, who has lived in Singapore for several years, asked me - why does HDB build the windows opening outwards? In Germany, most of the windows open inwards. It will be easier to clean the windows, and it takes away the risk of old windows falling down to the ground.
I told him that one possible reason is that in our hot climate, most people keeps the window open and by opening outwards, it does not take space inside the flat.
He said that we do not need to open the window fully. It is possible to open the window just at an angle, so that it does not take too much space.
This raise another question. Do most of our new flats now use sliding windows, or swing windows?