Saturday, April 13, 2019

Vote on these issues in Wisdom of the Crowd

WOTC - Slogan for non PAP party

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Which slogan should a large political party (not PAP) wants to select? 

Here are the responses: (40 Votes)
38 % - Stand together for a better future
35 % - A government you can trust
15 % - A brighter future for your family
13 % - Make Singapore great again.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Taxi fare

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Do you like our taxi fare structure?

Here are the responses: (41 Votes)
63 % - We should apply a standard fare tariff for all taxis.
17 % - It works well and give a balance between supply and demand of taxi.
12 % - Taxis should pay a monthly ERP fee, rather than per entry.
7 % - We should increase the tariff and remove all surcharge, except for midnight surcharge.

See the pie chart at:

Friday, April 12, 2019

Frivolity and financial imprudence

literally got a shock when I read that the final stage 6 of the Circle Line will cost a whopping $1.2 billion per kilometre to build, or 5 times the average per kilometre cost of the first five stages.

I can't help but wonder how many people truly appreciate and understand just how much $1.2 billion is? For every one metre of that stage 6 Circle Line – with only 3 stations - it will cost our citizens $1.2 billion. If this is not frivolity and financial imprudence of the highest level, what is?

Do not force your views on others

Some people like to force their views on other people. They tell me - Mr. Tan, you should not say this.

I prefer that they give their views and state their reason. They should not try to force their view on me, or on anybody else.

They should have the courage to express their own views and let other people judge them.

Story of a Grab driver

I spoke to a Grab driver. He told me that he earned $5,000 a month from Grab. Previously, he drove Comfort and earned $1,500 a month.

The $5,000 seemed rather high, so I asked him more. He told me that he drove from 6 am to 10 pm and take 2 hours break. So, he drove 14 hours a day.

He set his app to auto accept calls from Grab. He is able to get calls back to back.

Vote on these issues in the Wisdom of the Crowd

Should the Jewel be inside or outside the airport?

This will be an interesting test of the capability of our planners.

Should the Jewel in Changi be "inside" the airport, so that it can be accessed by transit passengers?

Or should it be "outside" the airport, so that it can be accessed by the public or by passengers before passing through immigration?

WOTC - Fake News Law

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Which change do you like to see with the Fake News Law?

Here are the responses: (46 Votes)
52 % - We do not need any fake news law.
24 % - Parliament should appoint an independent administrator to decide on action against any offending news.
24 % - The definition of fake news should be clearly defined.
0 % - The law put forward to Parliament is fine.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Problem with Hyflux

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What cause the problem with Hyflux

Here are the responses: (41 Votes)
41 % - Bad decisions my management and board of Hyflux
29 % - Decision by Public Utilities Board to award the tender to Hyflux when they seriously unquoted the water price.
22 % - Energy Market Authority allow massive overcapacity in the energy market.
7 % - Unwillingness of Public Utilities Board to help find a solution.

See the pie chart at:

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Give helpful and constructive comment

One reader posted a remark - TKL behaves likes the PAP minister, delete comments that disagree with him from his Facebook page.

This reader is either stupid or a liar.

I do not delete comments that disagree with me. I delete comments that are rude and offensive.

An united party against PAP

Many people like to see the non PAP parties unite under a single banner against the PAP in the next general election.

A year ago, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) called a meeting and that meeting invited Dr. Tan Cheng Bock to lead an united opposition. Nine month passed, and the united opposition did not materialize. Dr. Tan decided to form his own party.

I know what happened behind the scenes. I like to share my perspective and to give some encouragement to the voters who want to see a "new government".

Difficult for PEI graduates to get jobs

An article in TODAY newspaper showed that 27.2% of fresh graduates from private education institutes (PEI) were either unemployed, or in part-time/ temporary employment even 6 months after graduation.

Private education is not the first-choice education route for any average family students. They are ‘consolation prizes’ for our young people who failed to earn a place in our tertiary institutions and they are expensive for many working class parents who love their children too much to pass.

So, why are PEI graduates unable to secure decent employment opportunities in Singapore?

PAP policy cause locals to lose jobs

I posted this remark - It is PAP policy that cause locals to lose jobs, not the foreign workers who took the jobs.

Airbit Club - Opportunity or Threat?

Someone sent this message to me:

Last year, I contacted an old friend (N) residing in Hangzhou, China. During our conversation, he mentioned about Blockchain technology and Bitcoin, which leads to
the introduction of “AirBit Club”, an organization that mines and trade crypto currency. N told me he has invested USD5,000/- into the company which promised him high yield and no risk. He would continue to collect dividend even if the trade made a loss on any day.

This raised an alarm bell in me so I went to do some research on Airbit Club. After my research, my opinion is that Airbit Club is a MLM organization. I told N I am not keen at all.

Read more here:

WOTC - Draft fake news law

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Do you agree with the fake news draft law that is presented to Parliament?

Here are the responses: (48 Votes)
58 % - The draft law does not define fake news and leave it to the minister to decide.
31 % - It will curb freedom of speech.
6 % - It is necessary to have a fake news law.
4 % - Many countries have passed similar law.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - PUB charge 8 times of actual price

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is it acceptable for PUB to charge 8 times the actual cost of water?

Here are the responses: (49 Votes)
67 % - The rate is far too high.
16 % - A fair rate is three times of the actual cost.
16 % - Each household should have a certain quantity of water based on two times of actual cost.
0 % - This will encourage consumers to cut down on water usage.

See the pie chart at:

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

P J Thum's views about the Fake News law

(Slightly edited by TKL for clarity)

Dear Friends

The law is ostensibly designed to target “fake news,” but its language gives Singapore's Ministers a virtually unrestricted right to define the "truth" and to declare anything to be a falsehood. Scholars doing academic work relating to Singapore may get caught up with the law, should the Singapore state object to their work for whatever reason.

Migrate to Facebook

This is a personal message to Yujuan, who is a frequent reader of my blog. Thank you for your continuing interest.

Most of my readers have migrated to Facebook. My Facebook page is more active. It can be accessed here:

I encourage you, and other readers who are still stuck with Blog, to give it a try.

Wish you all the best.

P J Thum's views about the Fake News law

(Slightly edited by TKL for clarity)

Dear Friends

The law is ostensibly designed to target “fake news,” but its language gives Singapore's Ministers a virtually unrestricted right to define the "truth" and to declare anything to be a falsehood. Scholars doing academic work relating to Singapore may get caught up with the law, should the Singapore state object to their work for whatever reason.

According to the definition in the Bill's text (Section 2), "a statement is false if it is false or misleading” (Yes, the definition is a tautology).The state gets to arbitrarily define what that means in practice. The definition is so broad that the omission of a fact (accidentally or otherwise) is sufficient for something to be considered "misleading". Given that it is impossible to include every single fact about any issue (especially if you are writing to a word limit), this guarantees that virtually anything can be deemed “misleading”.

There is also a public interest clause where statements that can affect “friendly relations” with other states or “diminish public confidence” in state bodies are subject to sanction. Any criticism of a politician or public body, for example, would qualify. The government insists that it will not abuse the law to act against critics — but in the past, every single such law has ended up being used primarily to silence critics.

Moreover, the law has extra-territorial reach, so not just scholars based in Singapore but also those who write about Singapore from abroad will be liable, as will publishers. Publishers with a business presence in Singapore will be forced to publish “corrections,” block access, or remove content any Singaporean Minister considers “false.” Even if an article is academically rigorous and otherwise accurate, publishers have to either block access from Singapore or put up disclaimers on the article stating that it is “false.” According to the legislation, the minister demanding corrections can determine the wording of such "corrections." Punishment for non-compliance are jail terms of up to ten years and fines of up to a million Singapore dollars (roughly US$740,000). 

There is the possibility of seeking recourse on "corrections" through the courts, but authors, editors, and publishers will have to comply first before seeking recourse. The legal process is lengthy, tiring, and very expensive, which means it will probably be prohibitive for most people. Singapore's courts are not known for disagreeing with the government, and the Singapore state tends not to exercise restraint on issues it does not like or finds somehow embarrassing. 

So in the future, ...... , a Minister could simply order me (or any other academic, anywhere in the world) to withdraw my work and issue a statement declaring it false, under penalty of law, with only recourse to an extremely costly legal process (and I would have to comply with declaring my work false before I can turn to the courts). Once I comply, I can then appeal to the same Minister, who can consider the appeal indefinitely (there is no time limit), during which time my declaration that my work is "fake news" would be sitting on the internet for all the world to see. That would be so much easier than a lengthy public interrogation or charging me with perjury.

I link to the text of the bill below as well as some articles for your reference. You can easily find other information online. I am also happy to try to answer any questions you may have. Please do let colleagues and other interested parties know, especially those who may be potentially interested, so that they are in a better position to decide what is best for themselves and their scholarship. Thank you once again for your support. It meant a lot to me at a difficult time. Rest assured I will keep fighting for the truth, and speaking truth to power, in the best tradition of academia.

Yours sincerely,


Human Rights Watch:

International Commission of Jurists:

Committee to Protect Journalists:

Allow members to take out their CPF at 55

I wish to add my call to allow members to take out their CPF at age 55.

Here are my reasons:

Difference between fake news and opinion

If I say - Singapore has among the highest cost of living in the world, can any minister challenge me and ask me to remove this statement as it is "fake news"?

Bus driver from PRC

I spoke to a bus driver from PRC. He has been working in Singapore for 8 years. His family stays in China.

Why can't we pay better wages to bus drivers so that the job can be taken up by locals and is sufficient for them to raise a family here?

By keeping wages low, we may be reducing bus fares, but why is our cost of living still among the highest in the world?

If we want to employ bus drivers from other countries, can we make it possible for them to bring their families to Singapore after working here for three years?

Can we give a better life to all the workers, locals and foreigners?

Vote on these issues in the Wisdom of the Crowd

WOTC - Allow CPf savings to be taken out at 55

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Will many CPF members lose their savings if allowed to be taken out at 55?

Here are the responses: (42 Votes)
69 % - Offer the members attractive schemes to keep with CPF voluntarily.
14 % - Make financial advice available to them for a modest fee.
10 % - Create approved schemes for them to invest outside CPF.
7 % - The savings are likely to disappear soon.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Depleting value of HDB flat

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

How can we solve the HDB problem of depleting value?

Here are the responses: (45 Votes)
62 % - Adopt SDP approach of non-open market flat to reduce the price of HDB flat.
24 % - Allow expiring lease to be renewed for 5 or 10 years at a modest premium.
11 % - Make rental flats available at modest cost
2 % - Adopt LHL approach of VERS (voluntary enbloc redevelopment scheme)

See the pie chart at:

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

WOTC - Which political party do you support

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Which political party do you support?

Here are the responses: (42 Votes)
50 % - Progress Singapore Party (under Tan Cheng Bock)
31 % - Singapore Democratic Party
12 % - Workers Party
7 % - People Action Party
0 % - Another party

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Prime minister of Singapore

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Who do you prefer as the next prime minister of Singapore

Here are the responses: (44 Votes)
41 % - Dr. Tan Cheng Bock
32 % - Tharman Shanmugaratnam
18 % - Chee Soon Juan
9 % - Heng Swee Keat
0 % - Pritam Singh

See the pie chart at:

Monday, April 08, 2019

Has Open Electricity Market led to unnecessary cost and confusion?

Straits Times Forum Page, 8 April 2019

With the new Open Electricity Market, retail customers now have the option of choosing their electricity supplier and enjoying a lower price. This is supposed to be good news for consumers.

However, many remain confused. They do not know which supplier to buy from and find it difficult to decide on whether to accept a plan that offers a discount from the Singapore Power price or to go for a fixed rate for a specified period of, say, 12 months.

They are consumers, and not speculators. Why give them this difficult decision?

Often, in the shopping malls, I have seen teams of young people marketing the electricity plans offered by the different providers. Based on rough estimates, there could be several hundred people involved in this marketing exercise.

After a consumer decides on a new provider, the supplier also has to do some work to register the provider, set up the billing and invoicing system and arrange for a meter reading, among others.

Does all of this work help to improve productivity or reduce the cost of the electricity that is produced? It seems that the answer is no. Instead, they just add to the administrative, marketing and customer service costs, which must result in a higher overall cost.

So, what is the alternative?

It is quite clear that the wholesale electricity price has dropped due to overcapacity and overproduction.

It should be quite easy for the Government to get Singapore Power to reduce the retail electricity price to match the average wholesale electricity price.

This will avoid the wasteful exercise, which has added a lot of unnecessary cost and confusion.

This is also not a one-time cost, as, when the contract expires, the consumer and supplier will have to go through the whole trouble of negotiating and renewing the contract once again.

Tan Kin Lian

Express support for proposals for change

Many people are not happy with the current policies of the PAP government. What is the alternative?

Some people have done their research and presented their proposals for a change in policy in clear terms.

It is somewhat sad that there do not get much support for their proposals or acknowledgement for their work from the people who are fed up with the PAP policies and like to see change to these policies. Why is this so?

Price of water quoted by Hyflux

What was the price that Hyflux bid to get Tuaspring?

According to this report, Hyflux bidded $0.35 per cu meter.

However, I have seen in other post, the price of $0.45 being quoted.

Which is correct?

I have written to the author of Global Water Intelligence and now wait for his reply.

It is rather sad that such an important piece of information, the whole essence of a project that can doom Hyflux, is being kept secret.

Laws should be enforced

Simon Lim is unhappy that many laws are passed but are not enforced.

Remove unproductive and wasteful practices

There are many government practices that add to the cost of doing business. Eventually, these costs will be reflected in the prices that are paid by consumers. They increase the cost of living. Singapore already has the highest cost of living in the world for several years.

A large part of the high cost of living is the cost of property. I will not deal with this matter here. I will deal with it separately.

I will deal with the government practices that I consider to be unproductive and wasteful.

WOTC - Should PUB award the tender to Hyflux?

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

What should PUB deal with the under-priced tender from Hyflux for Tuaspring?

Here are the responses: (33 Votes)
42 % - Allow Hyflux to withdraw from the tender by paying a modest withdrawal penalty.
30 % - Allow Hyflux to adjust the price to 5% below the second highest tender.
21 % - Award the tender, as it offered the lowest price for water, i.e. $0.35 compared to $0.52 (next highest tender) and $1.00 (other tenderers).
6 % - Award the tender and let Hyflux face the consequence.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Should PUB pay more than $0 for Tuaspring?

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should PUB pay more than $0 for Tuaspring?

Here are the responses: (46 Votes)
50 % - The govt should ask PUB to pay a fair value as it was the EMA that caused a big loss to Hyflux.
30 % - The value for Tuaspring should be decided by the court after considering all the issues involved.
17 % - The govt should ask PUB to allow Hyflux to get a better value from the international market.
2 % - PUB pay $0 for Tuaspring as it is the correct value.

See the pie chart at:

Foolish to impose GST burden

In this post, I explain why it is foolish for the govt to impose a heavy GST burden on the people. There are better ways to collect revenue, but they already have more than sufficient revenue.

GST is a bad tax

People who does not analyze the situation deeply argue that the government needs revenue (which I agree) and that GST is a good source of this revenue (which I disagree).

Here are my reasons why GST is not needed in Singapore, and it is a bad tax, as it hurts the low income people and is costly to administer.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

The future of blockchain

Two years ago, my friend was enthusiastic about blockchain. He explained the concept to me. He attended a course on blockchain and was excited about it.

MAS was also excited about the potential of blockchain.

My friend gave me some technical references. I did not like it. I found it to be an expensive and inefficient way to achieve "independence from a third party".

I did not like the concept that the database has to be duplicated into many "nodes" and that a lot of computer processing power had to be spent on arguing which version is the correct one.

His reply was computer power is cheap. I did not agree.

I met my friend recently and asked for an update about blockchain.

He told me that a new version of blockchain had been developed to address the inefficiency of the earlier version.

My common sense seemed to be correct.

One day, blockchain will be successful. But it will not be the inefficient model that most people were excited about, and after billion of dollars have been poured into a concept that obviously would not work.

I wonder if it is all a scam. But our government would probably have poured in several tens or hundreds of millions to support the work that would eventually be found to be useless.

Like the concern over Y2K.

The CLOB saga and the Hyflux saga

Many people remembered the CLOB saga that occured 20 years ago. They remain bitter until today.
How big was the CLOB losses, compared to the Hyflux losses today?

Remove unproductive and wasteful work

An operator of a child care center told me that his staff has to spend quite a lot of time to check eligibility for grant. They have to chase parents for documents to prove their income level and other matters.

This is an example of wasteful unproductive work.

It is better to offer the same grant to all citizens, regardless of income level and type of housing. If the govt is short of funds, just increase the income tax. 

I see this type of wasteful work in many parts of our system. For example, medical treatment also has different types of grants.

It is one reason why Singapore has a high cost of doing business.

This high cost has eventually to be paid by the consumers. It increases our cost of living.

I wish to see all of these unproductive work being removed. We should be spending time to do useful work, rather than unproductive and wasteful work.

There are too many of this kind of wasteful work for me to name. It is "all over the place".

WOTC - Health care system

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Do we have a world class health care system?

Here are the responses: (48 Votes)
71 % - Our health care cost is too high.
23 % - I prefer a system that is not expensive, no need to have very high quality.
6 % - We have a health care system of high standard.
0 % - KBW says so, he must be right.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - US China Trade dispute

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Will the US China trade dispute be settled?

Here are the responses: (42 Votes)
40 % - It will be settled but dispute will arise within a short time.
33 % - There will be further delay.
19 % - There will not be a settlement.
7 % - It will be settled soon.

See the pie chart at:

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