Saturday, March 23, 2019

WOTC - Control over hateful postings

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should social media platform exercise more control over hateful postings?

Here are the responses: (37 Votes)
35 % - They should take down hateful postings promptly.
22 % - It is difficult for the platforms to monitor the hateful postings.
22 % - They should only show posts of people who have authenticated their identity with a mobile phone.
22 % - There should continue to allow freedom of expression.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Grounding of Boeing 737 max planes

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Was CAAS slow in grounding the Boeing 737 Max planes after 2 crashes?

Here are the responses: (38 Votes)
50 % - They should have acted earlier for the safety of the passengers.
32 % - There were rather slow and acted only after several dozen countries have done so.
13 % - There is no need to take a decision in a hurry.
5 % - There was no real risk as the pilots on the Singapore planes are better trained to deal with failures of the automated system.

See the pie chart at:

Were there disclosure lapses in issue of Hyflux securities?

The Monetary Authority of Singapore and Singapore Exchange will look into the possibility of disclosure lapses when Hyflux issued its preference shares in 2011 and perpetual securities in 2017.

Did the board of Hyflux and the financial advisers involved in these issues made adequate disclosures of the financial position of Hyflux at the relevant times?

There was also the need to have "continuous disclosures" of the financial situation. Was this requirement adequately met?

I wish to ask this question - why now? Why was this investigation not done earlier?

Friday, March 22, 2019

SIA issue 5 year 3.03% retail bond

i saw this message: Singapore Airlines (SIA) issues a 5 Year 3.03% Retail Bond

The interest rate is too low. There is risk in investing in bonds, as shown with Hyflux.

I will not buy the SIA bonds just to get 3.03% interest. it is locked up for 5 years.

I might as well invest in the STI ETF. It is better diversified and can earn me a yield of 6-7% over the long term.

WOTC - Compensate owners of expiring HDB leases

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should owners of expiring HDB flats receive some compensation?

Here are the responses: (27 Votes)
56 % - Yes. They were promised that the HDB flat is a good investment.
30 % - They should be allowed to renew the lease for 5 years by paying a small premium.
11 % - Yes. They have paid a high price for the flat.
4 % - No. All lease of private property and HDB flat should have no value at the end of the lease.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Support current pace of National Service

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Why do some people strongly support National Service at the current pace?

Here are the responses: (37 Votes)
38 % - It is a necessary strategy for our defence.
27 % - They are probably foreigners and permanent residents.
24 % - They have completed their NS and expects other people to continue the same obligation.
11 % - They do not have any children who have to serve National Service.

See the pie chart at:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Exclusion of cover for drink driving under motor policy

Under Singapore law, it is compulsory for a vehicle owner to take up an insurance policy to cover liability to third parties arising from the use of the vehicle.

If the vehicle causes personal injury to a third party or damage to their property of a third party, the insurance policy pays the compensation payable to the third party. This is to ensure that third party are protected, in case the owner of the vehicle does not have the financial means to pay the compensation.

It is a practice of the insurance company to exclude coverage for accidents caused when the driver of the vehicle is under the influence of alcohol. This is common described as "drink driving".

This practice defeats the purpose of requiring owners to have insurance.

Read my views here:

WOTC - National defense

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Which approach do you prefer for our national defense

Here are the responses: (41 Votes)
41 % - Reduce full time NS to 1 year and reservist to 5 years.
27 % - Move to a fully professional army and stop National Service.
20 % - Reduce full time NS to 6 months and reservist to 3 years (like in Switzerland)
12 % - Keep to the current strategy of using NS men for 2 years and 10 years of reservist.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Ensure workers receive adequate pay

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

How can we ensure that workers receive adequate pay?

Here are the responses: (27 Votes)
37 % - Reduce the cost of living
33 % - Introduce a minimum wage that is sufficient to meet the cost of living.
26 % - Stop the inflow of foreign workers.
4 % - Give them a wage income supplement.

See the pie chart at:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Tuaspring tender

Someone shared this article which provides more details about the Tuaspring tender. This was the project that Hyflux won and it became the project that caused Hyflux to get into big financial problems.

It appears that the Tuaspring tender put out by the Public Utilities Board only asked for the desalination plant.

It was Hyflux decision to build the power generation capacity as part of the integrated plant. It was the power plant, especially the electricity sold to the grid, that caused Hyflex to lose a lot of money. The power generation was not a requirement of the tender.

Be transparent and willing to share information

If someone tells me something, I try to check the facts online, if it is available. But it may not be available.

I also exercise my common sense - does this information make sense?

If it passes these two tests, I share the information. It may or may not be accurate. But I do suggest that the information is not fully verified.

I do not wait until the information is proven before I share it.

By sharing it, I invite other people to check my facts. If they know of something that I do not know of, they can tell me. I can correct my information when it happens.

I do not like someone to tell me - check with this and that. I find it not helpful.

If they have an alternative set of facts, they should state it accordingly.

In this respect, I am quite different from many other people who do now want to express any views, but are active in challenging the views of other people. I delete these kinds of unhelpful comments.

Our culture of non-transparency is bad, and has caused a lot of harm. We have to reverse it.

Tan Kin Lian

A bad culture of avoiding responsibility

My friend related this event to me.

A Vietnamese girl studied and graduated from National University of Singapore and worked as a nurse for several years in a public hospital. She married a Singaporean but was not able to get permanent residency or long term visit pass for a few years. She had to return to Vietnam and come back to Singapore every three months.

They have applied for PR or LTVP many times, but they get a standard reply - under consideration. Their baby was on the way, and they were desperate to get this matter sorted out.

Guess what happened? Find out here:

WOTC - Losses suffered by Hyflux retail investors

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Who is responsible for the huge loss suffered by Hyflux retail investors

Here are the responses: (30 Votes)
53 % - The management and the board of Hyflux
37 % - The Energy Market Authority for allowing the massive over capacity in power generation.
10 % - The Public Utilities Board for their delay in taking over the Tuaspring plant.
0 % - The retail investors should take the blame for their careless investment.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Increase in health care cost

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What causes the large increase in health care?

Here are the responses: (38 Votes)
53 % - Large increase in fees charged by public hospitals, which are followed by private hospitals.
42 % - Failure of govt to control the health care cost.
5 % - An older population.
0 % - Our cost is still quite affordable compared to other advanced countries.

See the pie chart at:

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Telkomsel SIM card

I have an Telkomsel SIM card that I use for my travel to Jakarta.

Initially, I was not able to buy the data package in Singapore. The packages were only available when I landed in Jakarta.

I faced this problem. The free Wifi at Jakarta airport was slow and troublesome to subscribe. I was not able to buy the data package using the mobile app.

Later I learned that I could use the USSD. The code is *363# to access the menu. I am now able to buy the data package without Internet or WiFi connection.

Now, whenever I use a local SIM card, I take note of the USSD code to access the Internet.

After that experience, I provided a feedback to Telkomsel. Guess what? I am now able to buy the data package in Singapore, before I take my flight.

Telkomsel does respond to customer feedback.

I wish our mobile operators and other service providers in Singapore are just as responsive. I get the impression that they take ages to implement suggestions from their customers. They seemed to have a deaf ear.

Use USSD to buy data package

I tried to buy the Starhub data package for use in Phuket. Their app had a bug, so I could not buy the package.

I asked the Grab driver to allow me to use his hotspot for free. It served my purpose.

I found later that I could use the USSD code to buy the package as follows: USSD: *100*5*1#

I suggested to Starhub to have a link in the home page of their app (before login) to show the useful USSD codes. A customer who has no internet connection can still send a request to the USSD code.

The Starhub data package cost $5 for 1G and is available for 3 days. It is higher than the local data packages, (e.g. I pay RM 1.5 for a 1G on Digi in Malaysia), but I find the $5 to be acceptable.

Tan Kin Lian

Use common sense in applying technology

The two crashes of the Boeing 747 Max (Lion Air and Ethiopian Air) was suspected to be caused by a software fault.

The two crashes of the trains (Singapore MRT and HK MTR) are also suspected to be due to software fault in the signal systems.

We should be careful about introducing expensive and complicated software. In some cases, it is better to rely on human beings.

In the case of the train system, there is no need to have an expensive and complicated signal system. There will be less problems if the trains are controlled by human drivers. To avoid collision, we can install anti-collision devices in the trains (as it is done with motor vehicles).

I am in favor of software and automation, but only when they make sense. We should avoid nonsensical reliance and over-use of automation.

This requires judgment by experienced people. We cannot have blind trust in technology.

Tan Kin Lian

Do you agree? Vote in

Local investors commence suit in Texas

Dear Mr Tan,

Local Investors commence suit in Texas to get accounts from A2A
We are a group of Singaporean and Malaysian investors who invested in Singapore property company A2A Capital Management projects in Fort Worth Texas and we have commenced a law suit to compel the Trustee for proper accounts.  The projects involved are The Hills of Windridge and The Trails of Fossil Creek. We are in the process of connecting with other investors to notify them of our efforts to get an accounting of what happened to our investment funds.
Our efforts have been featured twice on CBS-DFW News reports, once in October 2018 and another time in November 2018. Our case first appeared in Straits Times on April 6 2017.
CBS News `Investors Sue Company '-  
This is the link to the report on A2A which we gave to the Straits Times on 6 April 2017. 

Over 1800 investors involved and US$65 million in investments in Texas
From just 2 people, the group now has a few hundred supporting investors, through sheer hard work to find each other and form a collective group to inquire into the status of our investments. Each investor has put in between US$10,000 to US$500,000.
Our efforts began in 2017 when many of us grew concerned after receiving very little returns and contradictory reports on the progress of the development for 6 years. We wrote to A2A and Singaporean CEO Dirk Foo to request an accounting of our assets as beneficiaries of the Trusts. Dirk Foo did not respond to the request. We wrote him again in 2018. This request was also ignored.
Thereafter, we gathered more support from investors, so we could engage a lawyer in Texas to demand an accounting. A formal demand for an accounting was sent to Dirk Foo by our counsel. Dirk Foo, through his lawyer, refused to provide us with the accounting we requested.
This refusal compelled us to file a law suit in Fort Worth, Texas to compel Dirk Foo, as Trustee of The Hills of Windridge Revocable Trust and the Fossil Creek Revocable Trust, to provide us with a written statement of accounts, as is required by Texas law.
While we have formed a sizeable group already, our research shows that there are as much as 1800 investors from Singapore, Malaysia, Hongkong, Taiwan and other places in Asia who invested close to US$65million in either Windridge A2A Developments, LLC and/or Fossil Creek A2A Developments, LLC. These are the investors with whom we would like to connect.
Over 3000 investors have invested an estimated US$250 million with A2A
It is estimated that over 3000 people in Asia have invested in A2A land projects in the US and Canada and the total investments collected may be in the region of US$250 million. The majority of investors are from Singapore and Malaysia and they have yet to see their initial investments being returned.
We are proactively moving forward with our lawsuit against the A2A entities and Dirk Foo, as Trustee.  If successful, the accounts will help investors understand what has happened to their investments and whether their funds have been properly managed in good faith.    
Volunteer Effort
Our group has been working for nearly two years now and we hope to call for mass meetings to update other investors who are unaware of the actual situation or are unaware of our actions. Our contact :
Vijayan Nambiar:    98004907
Investorcontact hotline: 8266 5420 

On behalf of IRMC (Investment Recovery Main Committee)
1.   Vijayan Nambiar  
2.   Kenneth Tan  
3.   Jeffrey Ng  
4.   Yan Seck Chew (Treasurer)
5.   Clarence Teh  
6.   CK Chin  
7.   CS Ping
8.   Rayson Tan
9.   Oh Ee Tiek (Malaysian Representative)

This is the link to the report on A2A which we gave to the Straits Times on 6 April 2017. 

For more information, please visit:

WOTC - Enough savings for retirement

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What is the best way to ensure the citizens have enough savings for retirement?

Here are the responses: (34 Votes)
53 % - Give them attractive options to invest their savings in CPF voluntarily.
24 % - Make it compulsory for them to buy the CPF life annuity.
21 % - Let them manage their own savings.
3 % - Delay the withdrawal age to 70 years.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Handle dispute with Malaysia

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Did the SG govt handle the dispute with Malaysia well?

Here are the responses: (37 Votes)
41 % - They are not diplomatic and caused the problem to worsen.
24 % - Malaysia is acting unreasonably and is bullying us.
22 % - They are arrogant because Malaysia is weaker.
14 % - They have handled it well by being firm and principled.

See the pie chart at:

Monday, March 18, 2019

Why GST was so unpopular in Malaysia

My Malaysian friend told me why GST was so unpopular in Malaysia that it caused Barisan Nasional to lose the general election.

To implement GST, each business has to implement a computer system that cost over RM 20,000. This is a very heavy expense for the business.

Although GST has now been removed, the business has already incurred this cost. It will take them a long time to recover their expenses.

There was another problem faced by the businesses in Malaysia. They had to pay GST to the government based on their sales. They can claim back the GST paid on their purchases. This claim was made separately. The tax authority was very slow in giving this refund. So, there business had to incur GST twice - first on their purchases and second on their sales. 

Yes, it was a big mess.

In the case of Singapore, the small businesses are exempt from GST. I do not know if the same exemption was given in Malaysia.

Although the small business in Singapore do not collect GST from their customer, they had already incurred their GST in their purchases and they cannot recover it back.

The actual prices that the small business had to charge the customer has a large component of GST inside it.

It is extremely complicated.

GST will continue to be a drag on the economy. It increased the cost of doing business and reduce consumer demand.

It is a stupid way to collect revenue for the government.

Are the investors greedy?

34,000 retail investors are likely to lose up to 90% of their investment in Hyflux preference shares and perpetual securities.

This will be a painful loss.

To make matters worse, some people said that these investors are "greedy". They are buying an unrated securities paying an interest rate of 6% per annum. Surely, they should know that these securities are risky?

But the investors replied that 6% is not really that high. They are not investing to earn 10% or higher.

Furthermore, they are investing in a well known company that has been successful in developing desalination plants.

If this company is in bad shape, why are they allowed to sell their securities to the retail investors? Is there any body that helps the retail investors to scrutinize the quality of the investments?

Should the regulators - MAS or SGX - have insisted that the financial advisers or the board of Hyflux post certain cautionary statements to alert the investors of the potential risk?

I wonder if the investor protection process in Singapore matches that of other countries?

Tan Kin Lian

Why GST is especially bad

Some people think that we need GST and cannot do without GST. They are mistaken.

There are many ways for a government to collect revenue to run the country - income tax, property tax, GST, consumption tax, import duties, excise tax, payroll tax, stamp duty, etc.

In Singapore, we have four additional sources of revenue that most other countries do not have - sale of leasehold land, motor vehicle taxes, levy on foreign workers and the earnings on investment of CPF funds (after deducting the interest paid).

Impersonate a government official

I read a report that someone created a fake Facebook account using the name Lee Hsien Loong.

There is a law making it a crime to impersonate a government official. LHL is a government official.

The police should arrest this person under the law.

The police should ask Facebook to disclose the identity of this person.

The person has to use an email address and maybe provide the telephone number to create the account. The identity can be traced.

I hope that the police will act promptly on this matter. It will help to educate the public about observing the law.

There is no need to spend another year to write a new law. The police can use the existing law to act now.

Tan Kin Lian

Quora: China will win the trade war

One person's opinion posted in Quora:

China is winning the trade war, right?

Bernard Wijeyasingha, BA History of South Asia, University of California, Berkeley (1987)

Yes, China is winning the trade war for three main reasons.

The first reason is that America is using the dollar as a weapon in her Financial sanctions. There are over a dozen nations under American sanctions, many are under Financial Sanctions. The backlash is that these nations are dumping the dollar and are using other currencies.

In addition, America is engaged in an economic war with China. Partly due to that China is creating alternative markets to bypass America.

Then there is America’s debt. It is massive and practically out of control. To put things into perspective America’s debt before President Reagan took office in 1981 was 550 Billion dollars (With a “B”). Today it is 22 Trillion dollars. By 2020 or 2021 America’s debt will increase by 1 trillion each year. Just the interest on the debt will be 500 billion dollars per year. It is unsustainable. The U.S. Government To Fork Out A Half Trillion To Service Its Debt In 2018

The second reason is China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Once that is completed the BRI will connect the European Market with that of the Middle East, Central Asia, Russia, South Asia, South East Asia and finally East Asia. The mega multi-market world has a population of 4.5 Billion to 5 billion.

The third reason is that America is spending an extraordinary amount of time, money and manpower waging wars or engaging in them. Venezuela could be the next major battleground.

China will win when America’s dollar no longer is the major currency of the world because so many nations have dumped the dollar

China will win when America’s debt burden cannot be sustained and implodes upon America.

China will win when all the Eurasian markets have a direct land link to each other markets using China’s railways to exchange trillions of dollars in goods and services.

China will win as America spends more time waging wars while China spends the same time building up commerce.

China will win when alternative markets are developed to the degree America’s role is greatly diminished.

Data breach of blood donors

More than 800,000 blood donors personal information were improperly put online by a Health Science Authority (HSA) vendor for over 2 months. Although HSA was not directly at fault, it cannot completely absolve itself from it.

With weak senior people in charge at MOH, citizens should not expect the latest blood donors personal information leak incident to be the last. I don't know if we have learnt by now, but there are costly prices to be paid when weak people are in charge of things like in MOH.

A dishonest practice by a bank?

Dear Mr. Tan

I wish to share this experience with my bank. I think that the bank is acting dishonestly.

I placed my fixed deposit with them a few years ago. The relationship manager advised me to set the fixed deposit to mature at the end of the term and to redeposit it at the rate at that time.

She advised me not to use the auto-renew feature as the auto-renewal is at the board rate, which is much lower than the rate for new deposits.

She also promised me that she would remind me about the renewal of the fixed deposit.

I took her suggestion.

Solve the water dispute

I disagree with the approach taken by the foreign minister in dealing with the water dispute with Malaysia.

He has taken an "act tough" approach. That is not being diplomatic. It is also not helpful.

WOTC - Flaw of the education system

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Which is the biggest flaw of the education system

Here are the responses: (31 Votes)
55 % - High stress in the education system
32 % - Prestigious scholarships that give a privilege to the winners for life.
10 % - Streaming into normal and express streams
3 % - Gifted program and special assistance program

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Streaming in secondary school

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Do you agree with removal of streaming in secondary school

Here are the responses: (33 Votes)
42 % - Why does it take the government more than three decades to recognize the flaw?
30 % - The streaming gave a negative image and demotivation for the normal stream students.
27 % - It is better to adopt the subject banding approach.
0 % - We should continue streaming to cater for different groups of students.

See the pie chart at:

Sunday, March 17, 2019

71 year old willing to speak out

I am now 71 years old. I can afford to retire and enjoy my remaining years. But I am afraid that the future for the people in Singapore will continue to get worse under the bad policies of the PAP. So, I am willing to speak out and convince people to support an alternative. (Do not describe me as kpkb).

Be positive in sharing your support of alternative voices

Once in a while, I see remarks posted here from people who said - do not just complain (they use the expression kpkb). Go and contest the next general election.

I do not know whether these people are PAP moles who has the goal to cause distraction and uncertainty to the alternative voices or whether they are just plain stupid.

I want these supporters of the alternative voices to know that it is not just a matter of contesting the general election. A candidate do not automatically get elected just by contesting in an election. The exception is a candidate on a white ticket in a safe GRC with an anchor minister

Voters who are fed up with the PAP do not just vote any non PAP candidate. They want to know the candidate - his character, his views, his background.

These people need to express their views in the social media. Even the established parties, such as the WP or SDP, need to be active in social media to reach out to the voters. Even if they have an active social media presence, they find it difficult to reach out to the voters who are generally apathetic.

So, the negative remarks are not helpful. If you want to support the alternative voices, you have to be positive and helpful.

Let me share with you who are the positive people.

About 300 of them turned up at Hong Lim Park at the protest arranged by the Peoples' Voice Party. At least, they take the trouble to show up and give their support. They have the courage to be seen at the protest rally. They already scored many points compared to the other supporters who only appear in the social media.

Those so called supporters who post negative comments should really be ashamed of their bad behavior.

I was further encouraged by the generous donations of several dozen people who came forward to put $10 or $50 into the donation box to defray the expenses of the rally. They are showing their support in a most positive way, with the little money that they can afford to spare.

These people really show to me that it is worth while for other people to come forward and stand in the general election and offer an alternative choice to the people.

I want to also share with you the good work done by Terry Xu of The Online Citizen. He is still being charged, and in my view quite unfairly, for criminal defamation by the Attorney General's Office. His only act was to post an opinion by a person who alleges "corruption at the highest echelons of government". He still faced the charge after agreeing to take down the offense post.

What did Terry Xu do at the rally? He posted the speeches live. You can view all the speeches held during the three hours here.

I recommend you to listen to the speeches by Brad Bowyer, Leong Sze Hian and Lim Tean. Click here.

There are brave people who are willing to take the risk and express their views on why we need a change of government. You can hear them at Hong Lim Park. Are you willing to support them?

I am now 71 years old. I can afford to retire and enjoy my remaining years. But I am afraid that the future for the people in Singapore will continue to get worse under the bad policies of the PAP. So, I am willing to speak out and convince people to support an alternative. (Do not describe me as kpkb).

Tan Kin Lian


Provide better benefits to citizens without raising taxes

Mr. Tan,
Some Singaporeans are quite stupid. When you propose that the govt should provide better benefits to citizens, e.g. to encourage them to have more children, they immediate react with the statement - do I have to pay more taxes?

They do not realize that they are already paying a very high rate of tax, which is why the govt is able to stash away so much money into the reserves and various kinds of special funds - that I honestly lost count.

By high rate of tax, we should include the high prices paid for private and public property built on leasehold land sold by the government and the high vehicle taxes that have a lease of ten years.

At one time, the owners thought that property is a good investment. They now realize that their property will stop appreciating after 40 years and may decline soon thereafter.

They are not investing in the property. They are paying a high rate of tax collected in advance by the govt, and marketed as "a great investment". How stupid can people be?

Even the high rate of contribution to the CPF is not savings. A large part of it is used to pay for health care cost and for the purchase of the expensive property which be fully consumed during the term of the lease.

Do you agree that we are really paying a high rate of tax and getting very little social benefit from the govt?

I agree with your view. We are certainly paying a very high rate of tax. That is why the govt has so much surplus, including the undisclosed money transferred into the reserves.

That is why they can afford to spend huge sums of money on weapons and infrastructure, some of which are spent quite recklessly.

It is possible for the govt to reduce the cost of living for the citizens and provide better health care and other social benefits, including paying a large share of the cost of raising children, without increasing the current tax burden on the citizens.

The citizens have long been brainwashed into thinking that more benefits means more taxes. They do not realize that they are paying a high rate of taxes and not getting the benefits that should come from the taxes that they pay.

Tan Kin Lian

WOTC - Help students who struggle with their studies

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

How can we help students who struggle with their studies?

Here are the responses: (35 Votes)
74 % - Allow them to choose the subjects that they like.
14 % - Put them in a special stream with other students facing similar difficulty.
6 % - Allow them to stay back by half or one year and mix with younger children.
6 % - Do nothing; they will catch up in due course.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - A more socialist approach

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Do we need a government that is socialist in its approach?

Here are the responses: (44 Votes)
61 % - Yes. Provide basic education, health care, housing at affordable cost or for free.
32 % - Yes. Ensure that everyone has a job that pays an adequate wage.
5 % - No. It is better to leave matters to the market.
2 % - No. The government should favor capitalists and businesses which produce the real wealth.

See the pie chart at:

What is Islamophobia?

The Straits Times described the terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand as Islamophobia (fear of Islam) and carried out by right wing ideology of white supremacist groups.

It did not explain the underlying cause of Islamophobia or the goals of the right wing ideology.

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