Saturday, August 17, 2019

Wisdom of the Crowd

1. Are Singaporeans generally complacent about govt policies?
2. What should the prime minister talk about at the National Day Rally?
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Streamline the bus network

Many people are used to the current bus network of over 300 bus services. They find that more services allow them a better connection to other parts of Singapore.

They do not realize that this is an efficient system and will eventually lead higher labor cost and higher fares.

They complain when the government wants to increase fares to cover the operating cost.

A better approach is to streamline the bus network to improve efficiency and lower cost, without sacrificing the convenience and connectivity.

Unauthorised sign up by electricity retailers

When the retail electricity market was opened up, I wrote a letter which was published in the newspaper. i said that it was better to ask Singapore Power to reduce the electricity charges instead of opening up the market for competition.

I said that the market competition approach is wasteful and does not produce any real benefit. It created cost.

We are now seeing other bad outcomes from this decision to create competition. There are cases of unauthorised signing of the contracts.

This will not be the end. There will be many other problems that will follow from this bad and wasteful decision.

Leave it to the free market

When an issue comes out for discussion, I have often seen these statements that guide the views of many people:
a) Leave it to the free market
b) No bailout from the government.
We should not adopt these principles blindly. We should examine the circumstances where they are to be applied.

Lessons from history - capitalism and socialism

The lesson from history seemed to be obvious - capitalism succeeded, socialism failed. This was proven by the collapse of the Soviet Union and its adopted of democracy and capitalism.

This was the message that came out from the western world. They advocated democracy as the strategy to achieve economic progress and improvement in the standard of living.

Do not fall for this propaganda. The lesson is not as simple as it is made out to be.

Quora: Did the US just win the trade war?

Quora: Did the US just win the trade war by imposing tariffs on all of China's exports?

Mike Neville, 40 years in the customs brokerage biz. Answered

ALL of China’s exports don’t go to the USA so only a small fraction of their exports are affected.
Trump is now out of things to threaten to tax. What does he do next?

If Americans were buying less of China’s goods because of the higher price China just devalued it’s currency, or allowed it to sink a bit, so the price to the American consumer should remain the same. We’ll see, that will depend on the honesty of the American importers and retailers.
Further more, the currency devaluation has made Chinese goods even cheaper to every other country so we will be buying more. Thanks for the discount Trump.

Now let’s discuss China’s response.
China is buying no more agricultural products from the USA. This is not a drop in sales or a sales slump, these sales are GONE. Possibly never to return. 

The Republicans will bitch when the next Democrat President has to go begging to the Chinese to please buy a soy bean or two but remember who caused it. Russian and Brazilian farmers send their thanks.
China is buying no more lobster from the USA. The entire east coast lobster fishery depended on sales to China. Canada’s east coast lobstermen send their thanks.
China has canceled all purchases of American bourbon. When you live in a country of over a billion people you probably need a bourbon or two every night. Not sure who they will switch these purchases to as bourbon is a peculiarly American product. But it won’t be Budweiser.
China has canceled plans to buy new Boeing aircraft. Ouch that one has to hurt. Boeing is not doing so well these days.
And probably hundreds of others that I haven’t heard of yet, and thousands of little orders.

These tactics are causing drastic possibly permanent harm to specific parts of the American economy. These are not duty rates that are as transient as American Presidents. The Chinese plan in centuries, not 4 year Presidential terms. The Chinese President has no voters to answer to, he is in office for life.

While the American public and politicians dither about exactly who is paying Trump’s duties (not tariffs, a tariff is a book), or whether consumer prices are up a dime at Walmart. Thousands of farms are facing dire hardship or worse, hundreds of lobster boats are tying up for the last time, Jack Daniels is rolling over in his grave and Boeing workers wonder how secure their jobs are.

And China has just begun to fight. Their list of things they might not buy anymore is far from exhausted.

For the first time in 15 years Chinese tourism in the USA was down in 2019. That’s a 20 billion dollar a year business. Would be a shame if it dwindled to nothing. And the U.S. can’t retaliate. How many Americans vacation in China? Both countries have issued travel warning about each other.

So you think the U.S.A. is winning? You don’t own a farm or a lobster boat.

WOTC - Are Singaporeans compacent?

Are Singaporeans generally complacent about govt policies?
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WOTC: Should the govt help Hyflux?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 65% of the respondents in this survey said that the government should help Hyflux to find a solution. 35% said that Hyflux should solve the problem on its own.
See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC: approving securities for sale to public

Wisdom of the Crowd: 82% of the respondents said that the government should change its current approach in approving securities for sale to the public. 18% said is satisfied with the current approach.
See the breakdown of the votes in

Friday, August 16, 2019

How to regulate the ride hailing operators

69% of the participants in a poll like ride hailing operators to be regulated. 31% prefer that this matter be left to the free market.
See my views on the areas that need to be regulated.

Wisdom of the Crowd

How do you see China's response to the HK protests?
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WOTC: Trade war between US and China

Wisdom of the Crowd: 55% of the participants in this survey said that the trade war between US and America will drag on until the US 2020 election. 32% expect it to get worse.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Who has lost the way?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 75% of the participants in this survey said that the entire PAP cabinet has lost the way.
See the breakdown of the votes in

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Review loans to foreign workers

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has recently introduced some restrictions on loans given to foreign workers by money lenders. These restrictions do not appear to work, as the number of loans continue to increase.

Some people are calling for a total ban on these loans.

Here are my views:

Wisdom of the Crowd

How do you view the protesters in Hong Kong?
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WOTC - Who should take the blame for CECA?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 46% of the participants in the survey said that the leading of the negotiating team, Heng SK, should take the blame for the harmful effect of CECA. 27% said that the prime minister at that time, Goh CT, should shoulder the blame.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Is CECA beneficial to Singapore?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 98% of the participants in the survey found the CECA agreement with India to be harmful to Singapore. Only 2% found it to be beneficial.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tracking of digital payment

Some people do not like digital payment because of the risk that the payment can be tracked.

I find this fear to be unjustified, for the following reasons:

China government is introducing digital currency

China has a successful cashless payment system involving e-wallets operated by AliPay and WeChat Pay. Still, the regulatory authority is rolling out their digital currency.

Singapore needs to learn from China about the strategy behind their move towards a digital currency. We need to use digital currency to replace paper currency and improve our payment system and reduce the cost of going business.

If China needs finds a need to introduce digital currency, surely the need is greater in Singapore, due to the heavy reliance on cash payments.

Invest in H shares of China blue chip companies

Prior to 1999, the blue chip shares in Singapore were separated into local tranche and foreign tranche for trading in the stock exchange. The local tranche can only be held by local entities. The foreign tranche can be held by local or foreign entities.

Due to the higher demand for the foreign tranche, the prices were higher than the local tranche by, if I remember correctly, about 30%.

Some local investors preferred to buy the foreign tranche because the prices were more higher and more active. They hope to make a "faster profit".

I was CEO for an insurance company. I insisted that all our shares were invested in the local tranche as it was cheaper, and the shares gets the same dividends and other rights.

In 1999, the government gave the green light for these blue chip shares to merge their local tranche and foreign tranches. They become just one tranche and both local and foreign investors are allowed to buy the shares.

The price of the merged tranche takes the higher price of the fireign tranche. Our portfolio of local tranche shares saw a large appreciation of 30%. It gave a hefty boost to our surplus.

I now see the same phenomena of blue chip shares of China that are traded in Shanghai and Shenzhen - the A shares, and those traded in Hong Kong - the H shares.

The price of the A shares are about 30% higher than the H shares. In the case of a particular share that I have invested, i.e. China Molybdenum (a mining company involved in rare earth), the difference is 80%.

I have decided to buy a large chunk of China Molybdenum shares in HK (HKG 3993) and wait for the prices to narrow. It will come one day.

Deal with the economic recession

The economic recession will be severe. We need to implement remedial measures to help the people of Singapore.

Tell Heng SK not to follow the expensive and ineffective measures adopted in the past.

We need new measures to deal with our problem.

He can take my ideas as shown here. He does not need to pay me any copyright, or worry that I will take over his position.

Why females prefer to vote for PAP

I have an exchange of email with another person. He asked why many Singaporean women - especially Chinese - still supported PAP?

He was referring to those who are highly educated and successful in their careers and holding positions in business development, professionals and top management.

They earn a high income between $6000-10000 per month and can be seen in networking events

Combined with their husbands' income, they have a total of over 1 million and more. They don't live in normal HDB but bungalows, semi-detached and condos and own cars.

I replied that I agree that most well educated women support the PAP. Perhaps one reason is that they do not have to perform National Service and have an advantage over the males.

They will suffer a disadvantage when it comes to raising children, but I understand that a high proportion opt to remain single. They also have the choice of marrying foreigners.

He replied that many of these women preferred to marry westerners because they communicate well and have better persuasion skills.

They married and moved out of Singapore and sometimes coming here occasionally to be with their families on Chinese New Year and National Day besides personal family occasions.

When he was a kid growing up in Holland Village during the 1970-80s, he had met many of them.

If you have ever been there and observed very carefully, you will soon realize the old shopping center is the dividing point between the rich and poor.

On one side are bungalows, semi-detached and condos while on the other are HDB, shop houses and old hawker center.

So even then, I already sensed elitism there.

The difference is obvious. The rich just entered the shops, see what they like and pay straight at counter while the middle income and poor just looked at certain items for a long time before deciding to buy or not to buy.

Most shop owners are friendlier to rich because the rich helped to generate more businesses and recommend their families and friends as well.

But again those are his experiences and opinions.

Wisdom of the Crowd

1. Are females more likely to vote for PAP?
2.Should females be required to do national service?

Give your vote in

WOTC - PSLE scoring system

Wisdom of the Crowd: 82% of the participants in this survey are not confident that the change in the PSLE scoring system will reduce the stress in our education system. 18% are more positive about this change.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Does Tan CB have a selfish reason?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 97% of the participants in this survey disagreed with Goh CT that Tan CB had a selfish personal reason to form the Progress Singapore Party. Only 3% agreed with that view.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Why females prefer to vote for PAP

I have an exchange of email with another person. He asked why many Singaporean women - especially Chinese - still supported PAP?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Form a separate board to review the population policies

I suggest that a separate board should be formed to review the population policies.

The members of this board should be given the responsibility and the authority to think outside of the box. It should not be constrained by the past policies.

It is vital for Singapore to improve the fertility rate of our local population. We cannot remain at the current level, which is among the lowest in the world.

Online surveys by national Population and Talent Division

The Straits Times reported the findings from the online surveys:

Somehow, the surveys did not ask the right questions. My "common sense" tells me that many families cannot afford to raise children due to the high cost of living.

Vote on these issues

1. If you were education minister, will you reform the education system?
2. How do you find the 54th National Day parade?
3. Who do you prefer as the next president of the United States?

Give your vote in

Win prizes

You can win these prizes by voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd.

WOTC - Prospects for global stock market

Wisdom of the Crowd: 44% of the participants in this survey expect the stock market to muddle along in an erratic manner. 40% expect it to suffer a big drop. 15% expect it to remain robust.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - New PSLE scoring system

Wisdom of the Crowd: 73% of the participants in this survey were negative about the change in the PSLE scoring system. 21% were neutral and 6% were positive.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Launch of Progress Singapore Party

Wisdom of the Crowd: 78% of the participants in this survey were positive about the launch of Progress Singapore Party. The other 22% were not.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Rap by Nair siblings

Wisdom of the Crowd: 68% of the participants said that the rap against the Chinese made by the Nair siblings were light hearted and only mildly offensive. The Chinese would laugh it off.

The other 32% found the rap to be offensive.

See the breakdown of the results in

Monday, August 12, 2019

WOTC - Stimulus package for Singapore

Wisdom of the Crowd: 69% of the participants in this survey are not confident about the stimulus package that is hinted by Heng SK to deal with the economic downturn. 26% wish to see more details of the package. 5% are confident about the package.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Will China send in troops to deal with HK protest?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 37% of the participants in this survey said that China will probably have to send in troops to deal with the HK protest. 28% said that China was probably responsible for paying the thugs to beat up the protesters. The remaining 35% said that the protest will cease due to internal reasons.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Funding of HK protest

Wisdom of the Crowd: 50% of the participants in this survey said that the protest in Hong Kong were probably funded by foreign and vested interest. The other 50% said that the protesters were acting on a genuine concern for their future.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - First time voters

Wisdom of the Crowd: 67% of the participants in this survey said that the first time voters will vote against the PAP due to difficulty in getting a job and a bleak future. 33% said they will vote for PAP.

See the breakdown of the votes in

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