Saturday, June 22, 2019

Make our voice heard

We should be more active in making our voice heard on public issues. We cannot leave it to other people.

Read this article

Wisdom of the Crowd

Vote on these issues. You are helping to increase the sample size and get more reliable results.

Passwords to access websites

Do you agree that many websites make it difficult for users to create a password that they can easily remember, without writing it down.

WOTC - Police permit for public assembly

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - does the police make it difficult to get a permit for a public assembly?

12% said that the police issue a permit quickly for an assembly that is supportive of the government. The remaining 88% said that the permit is slow in being granted.

See the result here

WOTC - Should a large scale protest be allowed in Singapore?

I asked the question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - should a protest similar to Hong Kong be allowed in Singapore.

5% of the respondents said that the protest could lead to rioting, but the remaining 95% are in favor of allowing such a protest.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Difficult to register for Business Times Online

I received an email asking me to subscribe to Business Times online for $0.99 per month.

I clicked on the link and proceed to register.

I had the trouble with the following:

a) They require my password to be at least 8 characters with capital and lower case.

b) I have to give my address with level and unit number.

After creating the password that match their requirement, I have to write it down somewhere - as it is not my usual password format.

Why do they need to have such a format? This is not something that hackers are interested in.

I could not pass through the address check. My address does not have a level and unit number.

They provided a telephone number and email address for me to seek help.

Before I could call their telephone number and hope that it does not get me to a "terrible call center", I saw that the subscription is $0.99 for 3 months and it will automatically revert to $34 a month (or thereabout) after that. This was too costly to me.

I abandon the registration process.

I wish our business organizations are more transparent in their operations.

Tesla may be ahead in self driving cars

I heard an interesting view expressed by an analyst that is bullish on Tesla. (The majority of analysts are still negative on Tesla).

This analyst said that Tesla has leased many cars to drivers. At the end of the lease, the cars are returned to Tesla.

Tesla will be able to use the data that is recorded in the cars to do machine learning and improve their self driving algorithm.

This will put Tesla a few years ahead of competitors in the self driving market.

The market for self driving cars will be a very large one, perhaps in the trillion of dollars.

Although he did not mention it, I think it is also possible for Tesla to ask their customers to share their data, maybe for a modest payment.

In developing the intelligent algorithms for self driving, the access to data is critical. Tesla appears to be ahead of all of their competitors in this field.

Express a view respectfully, objectively and without being persona

It is possible to express a view respectfully, objectively and without being personal. I do it all the time.

You can just state your views and give your reasons. You do not need to criticize another person's view, even if you disagree with it. You should not pass personal remarks about the other person that you disagree with.

Over the past decades, I observed that many people tend to be judgmental, i.e. they judge the view of another person and pass personal remarks. Often, their judgment is wrong because they do not check their facts or they misinterpret the view that is being stated.

There is a saying - give a dog a bad name and hang him. This best describes the behavior that I see quite often.

Their judgment and criticism reflect an arrogant attitude. They think that they are right and other people are wrong. They may be the ignorant person.

It is better to avoid being judgmental and to state your view respectfully, objectively and without being personal. This is being constructive and useful.

Tan Kin Lian

Hong Kong dilemma

Hong Kong is in a dilemma. The people want to have democracy and free market.

But the economy is under the control of a few large tycoons who owned most of the private land.

Under the free market, the land price escalates to a level that is unaffordable to the local people, especially the young ones.

If they want lower housing cost and lower cost of living, they have to accept a government that is more in control and more socialist in their approach.

The people have to decide what they want. They cannot expect the free market to produce a lower cost of living and lower cost of housing.

Tan Kin Lian

Wisdom of the Crowd

Vote on these issues in the Wisdom of the Crowd.
You will help to provide a better sense of what the people are thinking.

WOTC - Key features of democracy

I posed this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - what are the most important features of democracy.

One man one vote and rule of law together account for only 13% of the replies.

What other features are more important?

Find out the answer here.

WOTC - Protest against extradition law in HK

It was reported that one million people in Hong Kong came out in protest against the extradition law. The police however said the actual number is 250,000.

Why do so many people came out to protest?

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd. Here are the responses.

Attitude towards work

There are many reports that many local PMETs are being retrenched and in some cases, replaced by foreigners. Is the work attitude of the locals a factor that cause employers to prefer foreigners?

I like to bring up this case for discussion.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Myths about China

Here are five myths about China that needs to be debunked. The article is written for anyone who has the misconceptions about China - Americans and people around the world, including some people in Singapore.

Funding of political parties in Thailand

There is an ISEAS report on the funding of political parties in Thailand. It is quite interesting to learn how they deal with the problem of funding the political parties.

Thailand introduced the Political Party Development Fund in 1998 as a means of providing state subsidies for political parties.

Law makers hoped that such financing would be an effective means of curbing illicit fundraising and vote buying. More importantly, subsidization would support small and new parties and promote their organizational development.

The Political Party Development Fund proved a double-edged sword, however. While it provided resources for the development of parties, it also encouraged small parties to set up numerous branches and to increase their membership for the purpose of maximizing their shares of subsidies.

The 2017 Organic Law on Political Parties introduced a new method of allocating Political Party Development Fund subsidies to political parties, with the goal of solving corruption problems associated with the existence of many small parties.

My speculative portfolio

The loss on my speculative portfolio has reduced to $12,000. At the worst point, the loss was $22,000.

Not to worry. I had realised a profit of $22,000 from earlier trades. So, at the worst point, I broke even.

My biggest loss was on Sinopec. That position was caused by a mistake. I had intended to clear the position at a profit but instead submitted a BUY instead of a SELL order. The stock had been going down for several weeks. It may turn around now.

The dividend yield on this stock is 10%. So, I can afford to hold it until it recovers and enjoy the dividend.

Wisdom of the Crowd

Vote on these issues and win a prize.

WOTC - Ban on export of rare earth

What will be the impact of a ban by China in the export of rare earth to US?

Here are the results of the votes in the Wisdom of the Crowd.

WOTC - Protest against HK extradition law

How should the HK govt deal with the large protest against the extradition law?

Here are the votes of the participants in this survey.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Work of teachers

I am surprised to read that our teachers work 46 hours a week of which only 18 hours are spent on teaching and the other 28 hours on administrative and school activities.

Teachers in the other countries participating in the OECD survey worked an average of 39 hours of which 21 hours are spent on teaching and 18 hours on other work.

Why do our teachers have to spend so much time on non-teaching work, i.e. 10 hours more than teachers elsewhere?

Driving licence of elderly drivers

Should drivers above 65 be required to take their driving test again, as suggested by this writer?

At present, they are required to pass a medical examination to get renewal of their licence after age 65

Wisdom of the crowd

Vote on these issues and win a prize

WOT - PM Lee's remarks on Vietnam invasion of Cambodia in 1978

None of the respondents to this Wisdom of the Crowd survey is willing to come forward to side PM Lee over his comments about the invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam in 1978.

However 9% felt that the criticisms by the netizens of these two countries are unwarranted.

WOTC - Electric cars

Over two thirds of the respondents to the Wisdom of the Crowd expect electric cars to be used in the near future. See their votes here:

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Learn by experiments

Some truths can only be discovered by experiments. It cannot be found from Google or from what other people say.

I share two examples.

Example One
I have a $8 smart which that is sync to my mobile phone. I was not sure whether the measurement of the steps is made by the watch or the phone.

I checked Google and got confusing answers.

I carried out an experiment and found that my watch measured the steps. This applied to my situation.

In another situation, it is possible for a mobile phone to measure the steps, but you have to carry the mobile phone and activate an appropriate app that uses the pedometer sensor in the phone.

Example Two
I put my mobile phone (with a temperature app) into the fridge to test if the app could measures the temperature. It did not work.

I download another app and found that there is no ambient temperature sensor in my phone.

I will be looking for another mobile phone that has this sensor. I want to test the accuracy of the temperature measurement. 

A few years ago, I put my iPhone into the fridge to see if it could measure the temperature. I found that it did not work and shared the result.

Some young people laughed at my experiment and declared that I was stupid not to know how the app works. Even the SGAG website suggested that I was stupid. More than 10,000 followers of SGAG, mostly young people, joined the band wagon to laugh at me.

These people thought they were smart because they declare that it was not possible for a mobile phone to measure the temperature.

How do they know? The believe from what their friends say or what the experts say. They do not know how to find out for themselves and to use their common sense and judgment.

Well, the truth is - a mobile phone can measure the temperature if it is an ambient temperature sensor.

These people who think that they are smart should learn to be more humble. They should not laugh at people who learn by carrying out an experiment.

Tan Kin Lian

Message from Bernie Sanders

Here is a message from Bernie Sanders, who is competing in the primary election for the Democratic Party in USA. What he said about America also applies to Singapore.

Dear Kin Lian

During the last 45 years there have been a lot of campaign promises made by candidates, a lot of political party platforms, a lot of great speeches and a lot of important pieces of legislation passed.

But, at the end of all of that, we have to ask ourselves some very simple questions that are too rarely asked.

Why, despite huge increases in technology and worker productivity, is the average American worker today – in real, inflation-accounted-for dollars – earning no more than he or she did in 1974?

Why are half of our people living paycheck to paycheck, with no money in the bank and scared to death that their car might break down or that a family member could end up in the hospital?

Why, in the last 30 years, has there been a massive transfer of wealth from the working families of this country to the very rich – with the top 1% seeing its wealth increase by $21 trillion – while the bottom half saw a $900 billion decline in its wealth?

Why, for the first time in the modern history of our country, is the younger generation experiencing a lower standard of living than their parents with more debt, lower wages and less home ownership?

Why, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, do we have more people incarcerated than any other nation?

Why are we the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all, while we pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs?

Why will 500,000 Americans sleep out on the streets tonight while millions of others are paying 40 or 50 percent of their limited incomes for housing?

Why is there a gap in life expectancy of 15 years between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest, with life expectancy in our country actually in decline?

Why do we have more wealth and income inequality than any other major nation with the disparity between the rich and poor growing wider? Three individuals now own more wealth than the bottom half of America, the top one percent owns more wealth than the bottom 92 percent and 49 percent of all new income goes to the top one percent.

And here is the reason why.

Unfettered capitalism works extraordinarily well for the very rich and powerful special interests, while it is a disaster for ordinary Americans. While the billionaire class becomes richer, tens of millions of Americans are unable to afford the basic necessities of life – decent food, shelter, housing and education – and many are going deeper and deeper into debt.

What differentiates our campaign from all others is the understanding that real change in this country will not occur unless we have the courage to build a political revolution – unless millions of people stand up and take on the greed of the powerful special interests that control so much of our economic and political life.

We must not only win this election. We must build the kind of powerful grassroots movement that can bring transformative change to the country.

Together, we must finally confront the power structure of this country whose greed has done so much harm to the economic and moral fabric of America.

Our job is to take on Wall Street and break up the major financial institutions that have so much power over our economy. Our job is to take on the insurance industry and move this country to a Medicare for all single payer program. Our job is to take on the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drugs by half. Our job is to take on the fossil fuel industry and save the planet by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Our job is to take on the military industrial complex, cut military spending and end endless wars. Our job is to take on the prison industrial complex, end private prisons and mass incarceration. Our job, finally, is to bring about comprehensive immigration reform.

It goes without saying that what we are trying to do is enormously difficult. We are taking on the entire economic and political establishment. In that regard, I am reminded of the remarks that President Franklin D. Roosevelt made during his campaign in 1936 when he talked about the corporate elite of his time.

“Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.”

We are not going to run away from the power of corporate America. We will confront it and we will win.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

Can Hong Kong thrive as an independent country?

64% of the participants in my Facebook poll said that Hong Kong will do well, if it is independent of China.

I belong to the 36%. I think it will be a disaster for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's role is to be a port or hub to serve China. That role can be easily taken by Shanghai or other cities.

If Hong Kong breaks away from China, and China does not support the economy of Hong Kong, the damage will be severe.

What can Hong Kong do, if it is not connected to the China economy?

Someone said that Hong Kong depends on power and water from China. It will be very costly for Hong Kong to become self sufficient in these utilities.

It may be possible to look at Singapore as a model for an independent Hong Kong. But it takes a few decades for the Singapore economic model to be created. Relationships and trust have to be build.

Even so, the Singapore model will become challenged in the midst of changes in the world.

So, it is better for the people of Hong Kong to consider the implications of a split in economic relations with China, even though it may not lead to full independence.

Links to TKL Posts

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Wisdom of the Crowd

Massive protests in Hong Kong against the extradition bill

What are the reasons for the massive protest in Hong Kong against the extradition bill?

There are several underlying reasons:

WOTC - Smart Nation project

What are the reasons for Singapore to embark on the Smart Nation project? Here are the answers given by some participants.

WOTC - Air conditioning of subsidised wards

86% of the participants in this survey said that the subsidised wards in the hospitals should be air conditioned. They do not agree with the current practice of making the subsidised wards non air conditioned to push the patients to the non-subsidised wards.

More details here:

Monday, June 17, 2019

WOTC - Vietnam invasion of Cambodia

How should LHL deal with the uproar over this remark about the Vietnam invasion of Cambodia?

None of the respondents agree with this approach of just keeping quiet.

What do they suggest? See the result here.

WOTC - 5G network

Who should build the 5G network in Singapore. The views are quite divided. See the result here.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Realities about democratic systems

This is a translation of an article in Chinese. I am not able to locate the source of the article.

Democracy must face 5 cruel realities:

Vote - do you agree with this observation about the flaws in democratic system? It does not say that democracy is worse than other systems.

BBC Interview - America does not represent the world

Watch this 2.5 minute clip of the interview given by the founder of Huawei to BBC.

More importantly, read the 6,200 comments. They come from many countries - and most express support for Huawei. They are not fake comments.

Protest against the HK extradition bill

I do not wish to join the bandwagon and criticize the Hong Kong government for presenting the extradition bill to their legislature.

I also do not join the bandwagon in supporting the large numbers of people who have come out in protests against the bill.

I watched several videos explaining the issues on both side. I put the links below.

Here are my conclusions:

a) The HK govt has a valid reason to update the extradition law.
b) The protestors are worried that the law can be used to send HK residents for unfair trial in China.
c) There is still a deep distrust of the justice system in China.
d) I believe that the fear and distrust is exaggerated and not justified. It is probably fanned by people who have vested interests or bad intent towards China.
e) I commend the decision of the HK Chief Executive to suspend the bill. The govt now has the opportunity to make changes that will address the fear and distrust of the protesters.

I wish the HK govt and the protesters all the best in finding a better solution.

Here are the links:
Honorary Professor of Law at HK University

Nathan Rich

Dr. Margaret Ng

Political systems

In a communist country, the communist party is the highest authority. The country may have a legislature but it is ultimately under the control of the communist party.

In a monarchy, the sovereign (king or queen) it the highest authority.

In a democracy, the legislature is the highest authority (but sometimes they are not able to control the President who is elected separately).

Within the communist party, the leaders are elected democratically by the party members.

In a democratic country, the legislature is elected by majority vote of the people. However, in many countries, the democratic process is flawed and is controlled by big money or corrupt practice.

There are also hybrid systems. For example, the system in China is socialism (i.e. communism) with market characteristics. They have socialist principles at national level and allow the free market at the enterprise level. However, their political control is under the communist party.

Each system has its strengths, weaknesses and flaws.

Many people have the impression that the communist system is bad, but their view is colored by the western media over the past decades. They do not realize that the media is also controlled by big money and has not been truthful.

We should not just blindly believe that democracy is good and communism (or socialism) is bad.

The best test is - which system actually produces the leaders that work in in the interest of the country and the people and make the most economic and social progress.

Wisdom of the Crowd

WOTC - Managing escrow account

In the past, there were several instances where lawyers asconded with the money entrusted to them by their clients and paid into escrow accounts.

Is there a better way to manage this risk? Should a specialised third party be appointed to offer this escrow account service?

See the result of this survey here.

WOTC - Bicentennial of Singapore

I asked this question in the Wisdom of the Crowd - which is a better way to celebrate the bicentennial of Singapore?

Should we create a $200 commemorate note or $20 note or a coin?

You can find the answer here:

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