Friday, August 09, 2019

Should we continue with the competitive education system?

Over the past decades, we have adopted a competitive education system.
It has its advantages and drawbacks as explained here.

Which type of democratic system is better?

Should a country adopt a democratic system and which system should it adopt? How can Singapore change its political system?

How the Chinese Communist Party make their major decisions

I have been following this two week meeting of the Chinese Communist Party to understand how decisions are made within the CCP.

President Xi may be very powerful in China, but he still needs to get the support of the party leaders, including the previous leaders who have retired from the government.

Some of the hard liners wanted China to take a harder stand against America. President Xi has to convince them to support his approach.

Read this report from South China Morning Post

After Communist Party summer retreat, Xi Jinping is sticking to his policies

President has held at least four high-level meetings since the Beidaihe session wrapped up, but analysts say there are no signs of any big changes

President Xi Jinping appears to have successfully rallied the party around him at the Beidaihe meetings.

The annual gathering allows the leaders to break from their day-to-day work and engage with each other in a relaxed, informal setting where they can socialise and have discussions.

It has taken on an almost mystic status in Chinese politics, known as the place where major decisions are made while the country’s two dozen most powerful people are on their summer break.

This year, amid an escalating trade war with the US, a slowing economy and growing discontent at home, some China watchers were expecting Xi would face more pressure to make changes.

“Some people are saying, we are getting ourselves into trouble because we have been too tough, or we have been overly ambitious, we have become too impatient in showing that we are strong enough to resist US pressure,” said Wang Zhengxu, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Nottingham’s China campus in Ningbo.

But Wang and others agreed that signals coming out of China after the Beidaihe retreat showed that Xi had things tightly under his control.

This is what happened in Beidaihe.

First, the president called a meeting with the country’s top generals and demanded that the military show absolute loyalty to the party. He also vowed to deepen the anti-corruption campaign to clean up the world’s largest fighting force. 

Two days later, Xi chaired a five-yearly propaganda and ideological work conference. Speaking to top officials, media chiefs and editors, the president called on them to close ranks around the “party core” and unify minds.

He followed this with another key meeting on law and order, asking officials to deepen reforms and safeguard the constitution. That call came after major constitutional revisions were made in March, including the controversial move to scrap presidential term limits.

Xi chaired a meeting on his signature “Belt and Road Initiative” at which he defended the trade and infrastructure strategy against criticism from Western countries.

Amid this flurry of activity, there have been subtle changes indicating a softer tone, but there has been no sign of any fundamental change to Xi’s key policies.

Analysts said it showed that Xi had successfully rallied the party around him at the Beidaihe meetings.

“So far, it hasn’t gotten out of control. After Beidaihe, [Xi] needs to continue to signal that things are still in order – that I am still in charge, and the direction the party points to is still the right direction,” Wang said.

While the trade war has given his critics more leeway to articulate their concerns, Xi remains the most powerful leader in China for decades, and any political dissent is too weak to substantially change the policy direction, said Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London.

“When things get tough, some noises will be made, but it doesn’t change the basic equation of the power balance,” he said. “Xi is still very, very powerful. What I think we may be seeing is that because these kinds of noises are now being heard – and much sooner I think than Xi was expecting – he will probably do even more to tighten up his power.”

After Tsinghua University law professor Xu Zhangrun criticised Xi’s administration in a widely circulated article, Beijing rolled out an extensive campaign to promote a “patriotic striving spirit” among Chinese intellectuals.

Meanwhile, the latest commentary from party mouthpiece People’s Daily on Wednesday said Xi “profoundly analysed the domestic and international situation” and had taken the right steps to safeguard the country’s security during a “critical period in China’s national rejuvenation

Analysts say Xi’s rhetoric appears to be an effort to play down China’s technological advances – given US fears that Chinese industrial policies will allow it to overtake America – as well as the belt and road plan amid “debt trap diplomacy” fears, particularly after the Malaysian government suspended two key projects.

“The Belt and Road Initiative is an economic cooperation initiative, not a geopolitical or military alliance,” Xi was quoted as saying by state news agency Xinhua. “It is an open and inclusive process,
and not about creating exclusive circles or a China club.”

But while Beijing has sought to allay suspicions about the belt and road plan, even softening its outward posture on the strategy, observers say it is unlikely the government will make any substantial policy changes to Xi’s pet project – or to China’s approach to the trade war with the US.

In fact, his recent speeches “indicate that he’s not satisfied with progress and wants tighter party control and better management of propaganda, the military, the legal system, and the belt and road”, said Michael Kovrig, senior adviser for the International Crisis Group.

Zhang Baohui, a political science professor from Lingnan University in Hong Kong, also said there had been no major changes.

“People who were expecting policy adjustments were proven to be wrong,” Zhang said. “Xi cannot afford to admit mistakes in his policies – that would further embolden his critics.”

Wisdom of the Crowd - choice of prizes

You have a choice of prizes when you win 10 points for voting in this website.

WOTC - Vote of adults with families

Wisdom of the Crowd: 70% of the participants in this survey said that the working adults with families will vote against the PAP. 30% said that they will vote for PAP.

See the detailed result in

WOTC - Vote of less educated older folks

Wisdom of the Crowd: 72% of the participants in this survey said that the less educated older folks for vote for the PAP. 28% said they will vote against the PAP.

See the detailed result in

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Feedback from the public

Read the feedback given by the public on the issues affecting Singaporeans and vote if you agree or disagree with the feedback.

Wisdom of the Crowd

Vote on these issues and win a prize.

WOTC - How will the older educated Singaporeans vote?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 70% of the participants in this survey said that the older educated Singaporeans will vote against the PAP at the next general election. 30% said that they will vote for PAP.

See their reasons in

WOTC - Does PAP take governance seriously?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 88% of the participants in this survey said that the PAP does not take governance seriously. 12% said they did.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Feedback with most views

Here are the feedback with the most views. They include letters written to the newspapers.

Financial support for foreign students

The education minister said that the government spends $238 million a year on scholarship and tuition grants for international students. This is only a small part of the $13 billion that the government spends on education, of which a large part is spent on educating local students.
Some Singaporeans are unhappy that they or their parents have to take up study loans while the government funds international students. Furthermore, the places taken up by the international students could have been given to local students who otherwise have to go to overseas universities to pursue their university degree at high cost.
I wish to share my views on this issue:

Wisdom of the Crowd

Vote on these issues:
1. Did the govt dealt with the Hyflux problem correctly?
2. Who should be given a place in the university?
3. Should university places be reserved exclusively for local students?
4. Who manipulates the currency of a country?

Give your vote in

Should PMDs be allowed to use the pavement?

The minister said that if PMDs are not allowed to use the pedestrian pavement, the riders will be forced to use the road and many accidents would happen.

An opponent commented - is it better to have accidents happen on the PMD riders or the pedestrians?

Here are my views

Swiss standard of living

I dedicate this song to all those people who are still sore that GCT did not give them the Swiss standard of living that they were "promised".

WOTC - section 377A of the constitution

Wisdom of the Crowd: 59% of the participants in this survey said that section 377A of the constitution should be repealed. The remaining 41% voted to keep this provision.

See the detailed result in

WOTC - Charging of PMDs

Wisdom of the crowd: 59% of the participants in this survey said that the owners should not charge their PMDs at residential premises. The other 41% asked for adequate safeguard to prevent fires.

See the detailed result in

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Reform the education system

90% of the participants in my Facebook poll said that we have to reform the education system, and not tinker with it.

In this post, I suggest how the education system should be reformed. Do you agree with my suggestion? If not, how do you want to reform it?

Reduce suicide rate among youths

To reduce the high suicide rate of youths, we need to give everyone a chance to make a living by doing any of the jobs - academic or non-academic, that is needed in our economy.

Here is my suggestion. Do you agree with this approach?

Why is customer service in China so much better than Singapore?

want to share my experience of customer service in China compared to Singapore. You call the big difference.

What is the source of the problem? It is just, may a say, a stupid SOP adopted by Singapore organizations.

Read this post

Improve customer service

We need to improve customer service in Singapore.

Many organizations provide bad customer service, as follows:

a) They take a long time to respond to customers
b) They make it difficult for customers to contact them by e-mail. The customers have to use their call centers, which is very difficult to get through to talk to a person.
c) They refuse to call customers by telephone

What can we do to improve customer service? Let me share my suggestion.

My journey to lose 10 kg in weight

A few people have asked me to share my experience of my journey to lose 10 kg in weight. What am I doing to achieve this goal?

Here is my story

Transport Hub

I created this website to make it easy for Singaporeans to plan their travel by ferry to the Riau Islands and by bus to the towns in Malaysia.

Select Singapore as your starting point and Batam as your destination. You can see the various ferry services and the departure times.

If you click on the operator, you can go to their webpage, view the fares and make a booking.

I hope that you find it useful.

Wisdom of the Crowd

New issues for voting:

1. Do you expect the trade war between US and China to be settled soon?
2. Does the government have a duty to scrutinize securities offered to the public?

Vote here and win prizes

Leaving debts to the next generation

Minister Chan Chun Sing said that accountability means not leaving debts to the next generation. I think that a better term to describe it is - financial responsibility.

This implies that a person is not financially responsible when he or she have to leave debts to the next generation.

But the government has to play its duty and responsibility to protect the interest of the people.

Here are my views

Win prizes by voting in Wisdom of the Crowd

You can win these prizes by voting on the issues in this website.

WOTC - How will the UK perform as an independent nation?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 81% of the participants in this survey said that the UK will do well as an independent nation, similar to Japan and South Korea. 19% said that their economy will suffer.

See the details in

WOTC - How will UK leave the EU

Wisdom of the Crowd: 50% of the participants in this survey said that the UK will leave the European Union without any deal. 46% said that there will be some deal. 4% expect a second referendum to be called.

See the details in

Monday, August 05, 2019

Accountability and financial responsibility

At a National Day speech in Tanjong Pagar, minister Chan Chun Sing said that accountability means not passing debts to children.

I don't know where he got this definition.

I would use the term "financial responsibility" to mean not passing debts to the next generation.

So, what does accountability mean? Read my views here.

Should older people step forward to cause change in government?

Dr. Tan Cheng Bock is 79 years old. He has stepped forward to form a new political party, the Progress Singapore Party, to effect an change in government in Singapore.

Is he too old? Should he leave this matter to younger people? Surely, the younger people have a stronger stake in the future?

I share my views.

Is alkaline water good for health?

My friend introduced me to an water ionizer which produces alkaline water. He found that it encouraged him to drink more water. There was a study in Japan that showed people who drink alkaline water had longer lifespan.

I bought the ionizer and found that the water does taste different, and I ended up drinking water more regularly. However, I am not able to determine if it improved my health condition.

I have been taking some non steroid anti inflammatory drug for occasional pain in the foot. My doctor advised that I have to take the drug after food or to accompany it with another drug that "protect the stomach". It seemed that the NSAID drug produced acid that can harm the stomach lining.

If body acid is the cause of damage to the stomach lining, would alkaline water help to prevent it?

My common sense suggest that it should.

I searched Google for information on "will alkaline water help to counteract body acid"?

I found this article

It mentioned an opinion from a doctor that it should be helpful, although it does not solve the underlying problem of the cause of body acid.

I wonder about this advice. Surely, most drugs are intended to address the immediate symptoms and do not solve the underlying cause? The NSAID remove the pain but does not stop its recurrence.

However, there is a mention about the lack of medical evidence on the benefit of alkaline water. Furthermore, alkaline water is not regulated by the Food and Drug Authority of America.

Why is the FDA not interested in researching alkaline water? Perhaps, the patent for the production of alkaline water is held in Japan. Furthermore, the American drug companies are probably more interested in selling their drugs to counteract body acid.

I wonder if there is commercial interest in guiding the work of the FDA. I suspect that this is the main reason.

My views on the new PSLE scoring system

I am pessimistic about the new PSLE scoring system that is being introduced by the education minister. It will not solve the underlying problem about reducing the stress and competition in education. It will create more confusion and uncertainty.

What can be done to deal with the underlying problem?

Here are my suggestions.

Wisdom of the Crowd

New issues

1. Does the CECA agreement with India benefit Singapore?
2. Who is most responsible for the harmful effect of the CECA agreement?
3. Who has lost his way among the PAP current and former leaders?

Vote on these issues in

WOTC - New prime minister of UK

Wisdom of the crowd: 44% of the participants in this survey have a positive view of the new prime minister of the UK Boris Johnson in finding a solution for Brexit. 56% have a negative view.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Cope with life in Singapore

Wisdom of the Crowd: 59% of the respondents of this survey prefer the strategy to reduce the cost of living to help people cope with life in Singapore. 29% prefer to introduce a minimum wage.

See the detailed result in

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Vote on these issues

What are your views on the launch of the Progress Singapore Party?
GCT said TCB is forming PSP for his own interest. Do you agree?

Give your vote in

WOTC - 60,000 jobs not taken up by locals

Wisdom of the Crowd - 41% of the participants in this survey said that we have a dysfunctional job market when asked why are 60,000 jobs not taken up by locals. 27% said that employers prefer foreign workers.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Get customers to return trays

Wisdom of the Crowd: 52% of the respondents to this survey said that we should forget about getting customers to return trays and create jobs for cleaners.

The other 48% opted for three choices.

WOTC - Hong Kong protests

Wisdom of the Crowd: 65% of the respondents to this survey held a pessimistic view about the protest in Hong Kong.

See the detailed results in

WOTC - Prospects for the Singapore economy

Wisdom of the Crowd: 98% of the respondents to this survey held a pessimistic view of the Singapore economy in dealing with the economic slowdown.

See the detailed votes in

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