Saturday, May 11, 2019

Tariff and GST

Many people get the idea that tariff is bad, and that GST is good.

If they think through the mechanics, they will realize that it should be the other way round, i.e. tariff is good and GST is bad.

Why? Here are the reasons:
a) Tariff is collected in bulk at the point of import. GST is collected individually on every small piece of item that is sold. The cost of collecting GST is much higher than tariff.

b) Tariff can be selective, according to type of product. Groceries and medicine can be exempted. It is difficult to differentiate it for GST as there are so many individual decisions to be made.

c) Tariff can be used to protect local industries and jobs.

d) As a revenue measure, the govt can impose excise tax on local manufacture at the same rate as tariff or at a lower rate, to help local industries.

Vote here:

Wisdom of the crowd

Vote on these current issues

WOTC - LHL attends the BRI forum

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Did LHL get much respect from China during his visit to the BRI forum?

Here are the responses: (45 Votes)
56 % - He received less than the normal respect compared to other ASEAN leaders.
38 % - He received the normal respect according to visiting heads of govt.
7 % - He received special attention in the special meetings in China.
0 % - He reserves special attention due to our close relationship.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - AGC act over LKY's will

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should the AGC take action against LHY's wife over LKY's will?

Here are the responses: (46 Votes)
65 % - It should be left as a private family matter.
20 % - It is shameful for this matter to be brought up again.
13 % - Why argue over what LKY had intended - he is already gone?
2 % - It is a matter of public interest as it involves LKY

See the pie chart at:

America raised tariff on China imports

America has raised tariff on $200 billion of China imports to 25%. They threatened to impose the 25% tariff on another $200 billion of imports.

The global stock markets have recovered. The investors bet that this is a temporary situation and that a trade deal will be agreed.

The investors are likely to be mistaken. I expect that the tariffs will stay as they provide revenue to the American govt. 

Read my view in full in this link:

Friday, May 10, 2019

Feedback - most view

You can read the feedback that has the most views and give your vote (agree, disagree) to the question.

Life under a communist system

For people who think communism is bad for people, I want to share these observations.

Fifteen years ago, I asked a Russian retired woman whether life was better in Russia under democracy or when it was under communism.

She replied - life was better under the communist system.

Why? Although they wages were low and products were scarce, the cost of living was also low. The workers have security of jobs. They can work and have leisure time to enjoy culture and spend time with their family.

I met a West German recently. He told me that many people in East Germany also felt that life was better for them when they were under a communist system.

Most people were influenced by the propaganda of the western media to look at the bad side of the communist system. But the ordinary people who lived for decades under that system could see its benefits.

Dealing with sudden tariff

The sudden imposition of a new tariff or a large increase in the tariff can cause a big disruption to exporters of the target country.

When the US increases the tariff on imports from China, the exporters will be affected and the impact may be serious. Some may face insolvency. They may have to impose a large scale retrenchment of its workers.

The govt of the affected country can help the exporters to cope with this sudden and major disruption and reduce the impact on employment and business.

This is how it can be done.

Using milestones to identify location on a road

When Singapore was under the British administration, the long roads were marked with milestones. For example, Serangoon Road and Bukit Timah Road were identified with 3 milestone, 4 milestone, 5 milestone etc.

This is a practical and convenient way to identify the various spots on the road. For example, if you need to turn to a side road, the first instruction is to pass a certain milestone and then to make a turn.

In modern Singapore, we have ceased the use of the milestone (or the km stone). We miss a convenient notation.

Wisdom of the crowd

Vote on these current issues

WOTC - Tripartism in Singapore

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is Tripartism (between unions, employers, govt) good for Singapore?

Here are the responses: (46 Votes)
50 % - It creates dilemma for the trade unions, as they are not able to look after the interest of workers.
41 % - It has resulted in poor wages and working conditions for workers.
4 % - It has produced a harmonious relationship that promoted the economic growth of Singapore.
4 % - It has produced more good than harm.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Severe leaks in Changi Jewel

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is someone shared news about severe leaks in Changi, should he be penalized?

Here are the responses: (48 Votes)
35 % - He should be allowed to share the news, if he believe it to be true.
33 % - The govt can issue a statement if the news is false.
21 % - He can share the news and allow the receiver to verify it.
10 % - He has to make sure that this is not fake news.

See the pie chart at:

America will impose higher tariff on import from China

President Trump said that tariff is a good alternative to a trade agreement with China.

I agree with this perspective.

Tariff will bring revenue to the US government. The govt needs revenue to run the country. They cannot continue to run the country with insufficient revenue and rely on debt.

President Trump said that China will pay for the tariff. This is not true.

Retrenchment in a German company

A German told me. He worked as an engineer in a German company for more than 20 years.

The company had to retrench some of its staff due to unprofitability caused by globalization.

He was retrenched. How was he selected?
Find out here:

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Investing in property

A year ago, I wanted to invest some spare cash. I thought of looking at property investment.

A friend recommended a "reliable" property consultant. He introduced several expensive residential property to me.

I learned that I am subject to additional buyer stamp duty (ABSD) on top of an inflated property price. I was not interested.

The consultant then recommended retail units in suburban malls. These are not subject to ABSD.

Electing members of Parliament

There are two main ways of electing people into Parliament. Which way is better?

Trust in key institutions

The minister of law said in Parliament that the fake news law is needed to retain trust in key institutions.

In my view, the best way to deal with trust is transparency.

WP proposed change to the fake news law

The Workers Party has proposed changes to the fake news law that is now being considered by Parliament.
He proposed that any order relating to fake news should be decided by the court and not by any minister.

This is similar to the suggestion that I put up yesterday in my website:

I was not aware of the proposal by WP when I wrote it. I am sure that many other people probably have the same idea.

I hope that this change will be made to the law that is being passed. It will create more trust in the fake news law.

Wisdom of the crowd

Vote on these current issues

WOTC - Citizenship for large donors

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should the govt accept a large donation and give citizenship to the donor?

Here are the responses: (42 Votes)
60 % - It is a corrupt practice and should be rejected.
19 % - It is acceptable provided that the donation goes to an approved source, e.g. university.
14 % - It has been a practice for a long time
7 % - It is acceptable provided the donation is "clean money"

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Verbal security threat on airline

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

If a passenger makes a verbal security threat, what should the airline do?

Here are the responses: (46 Votes)
52 % - Carry out a second security check and delay the flight by another two hours.
30 % - Delay the flight, even if it may cause inconvenience to the passengers, especially those with children and infants, and cause missed connecting flights.
17 % - If the security threat is incredible, ignore it and depart on time.

See the pie chart at:

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Issue of order relating to fake news

The minister for law said in Parliament that individuals who appeal to the courts to challenge a minister’s order relating to fake news could have their cases heard as quickly as nine days after the challenge and that the cost would be kept "very low", with no court fees imposed for the first three days of hearing.

I suggest that the order relating to fake news by issued by the court in the first place, based on a complaint lodged by the minister. This will ensure that there is consistency in the issue of the order, and does not depend on the individual decision of the minister.

It will also simplify the appeal process.

I hope that the minister will consider this suggestion and avoid the controversy in the implementation of this new law.

A practical way to achieve direct democracy

I like the Swiss system of direct democracy.

Every three months, the citizens are asked to participate in a referendum and vote on a number of issues concerning the laws to be passed in the country. I do not know if the results are binding on their legislature or used by the legislature as a guide in the passing of the laws.

One objection to the referendum system is the work that is required to organize it. I like to suggest how the work can be handled more efficiently.

Comments on NS reservist training

Sng Dexter
The problem with reservist training is that after months
of civilian life you are expected to switch to military after a few days of reporting.
In this case worst u go for
overseas training where u
are pressed to perform.

Tommy Ng
it's a problem with reservists everywhere, lack of familiarity with weapons and equipment, lack of spatial awareness, just refresher training before exercise, seen Taiwan reservist use mortar wrongly

A land of opportunity

A well groomed young man was talking to an elderly man at the front of the double deck bus. He was flipping through his mobile phone and explaining to the elderly man about the properties that are available for sale.

He said - here is a landed property for $4 to $5 million with three stories and 4,000 sf land. And here is another property. They are better than apartments that will depreciate in value when the lease runs down. But you have to add 12% for the additional stamp duty.

If he makes a sale, he will earn enough commission to last for one year.

Singapore is the land of opportunity for young people who are abreast with the times, and property sales is a great business to be in, in spite of cooling measures.

Book offers

You can find some attractive offers for books on financial planning and puzzles (good for training the thinking of children) here:

Make better use of our SAF training

I spoke to a Grab driver. He was previously served over 20 years in SAF and retired as a major at age 45.

He said that the pay was good but there were no challenges to continue a career in SAF. He wanted to try something new.

Here are some thoughts that crossed my mind:

a) With his kind of training (and SAF does provide top class leadership and operational training to their regulars), surely he could be useful for some suitable jobs in the private sector, rather than drive Grab?

b) Could be be retained in the SAF to provide training to NS men, rather than rely on young and inexperienced NS officers and NCOs to provide the training?

What do you think?

Save Hyflux from liquidation

I share the results of two surveys on Hyflux.

Wisdom of the crowd

WOTC - Should we preserve the know-how in Hyflux?

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is it worthwhile to preserve the know-how in Hyflux?

Here are the responses: (51 Votes)
31 % - It is wasteful to lose the years spent in developing the know-how, experience and contacts
29 % - The know-how, experience and contacts are valuable.
27 % - Singapore needs to preserve Hyflux as a locally grown unicorn.
12 % - The know-how, experience and contacts are not valuable.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Should Hyflux be saved?

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should Hyflux be saved?

Here are the responses: (50 Votes)
58 % - It should be saved through compensation from the govt for the losses that were caused by the mismanagement of the energy market
28 % - Let it be liquidated.
8 % - It should be saved with fresh foreign and local capital
6 % - It should be saved with fresh local capital

See the pie chart at:

Monday, May 06, 2019

Wisdom of the crowd

WOTC - Peeping tom case

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Do you agree with Monica Baey approaching to bring up the peeping tom case

Here are the responses: (61 Votes)
79 % - She was brave to bring this issue to public attention.
18 % - She should have brought up this matter as a general complaint and not ask for Nicholas Lim to be punished again.
2 % - She is trying to get publicity for herself.
2 % - She should have accepted the apology from Nicholas Lim as there was no further damage done.

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - A higher penalty

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Should Nicholas Lim be given a higher penalty now?

Here are the responses: (49 Votes)
37 % - He should be given a higher penalty as the previous penalty was inadequate.
29 % - He has already been punished by public opinion and loss of his job.
29 % - NUS should increase the penalty for this type of offense.
6 % - He should not be punished again, after going through the first punishment.

See the pie chart at:

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Deal with harmful news, and not fake news

Do we have a serious problem with fake news? No, we do not. The existing laws are able to cope with any fake news.

We do not need any new controversial law that is suspected to be an attempt to stifle dissent and criticism of the government.

What is wrong with the approach adopted by the govt? Is there a different and better approach?

Give your vote to this suggestion.

Why do Chinese people choose an English first name?

Two day trip to Batam

Here is my impression of Batam since my last visit more than five years ago.

Batam has developed a lot with new buildings and more cars on the roads - but the roads are not congested yet.

I feel quite safe in Batam (but it is just an overnight stay). The shopping malls are quite busy and offer a good variety of products. The people that I met at the malls and on the street are nice and can speak English well. The Chinese run shops can speak Mandarin and Teochew.

I stayed at the Baloi Hotel in Nagoya City. It is a new hotel and provides excellent breakfast and service. The discounted room rate is $70.

I checked Agoda and found that many good hotels offer rates of $20 only.

Batam is popular for the massage services. I had a 1 hour foot and back massage for $13 at the Batam Center Mega Mall just before boarding the ferry. I gave the masseur a $2 tip which he received gratefully.

My friend said that two ferry operators offer a return fare of $31 for senior citizens. I think the normal fare is about $50.

Wisdom of the crowd

WOTC - Response of education minister

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Did he education minister acted promptly on the NUS peeping tom case?

Here are the responses: (55 Votes)
58 % - He acted rather late, after there was a public uproar.
16 % - He respond more quickly to the issue compared to other ministers who faced similar issues.
15 % - He acted at the appropriate time to guide the NUS to review the issue.
11 % - I am satisfied with his response

See the pie chart at:

WOTC - Great Eastern's suspension of agent

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd:

Is it correct for Great Eastern Life to suspend Nicholas Lim as an agent?

Here are the responses: (51 Votes)
63 % - Great Eastern Life must show that its agents have a high standard of personal conduct.
20 % - The misconduct occurred before he joined Great Eastern and has nothing to do with his current duties.
12 % - This is unnecessary and the agent is already dealt with by NUS for his past misconduct.
6 % - The agent deserves to be condemned for a lifetime.

See the pie chart at:

Blog Archive