Saturday, September 28, 2019

Make it easy for a former employer to provide a reference

I received a request from an employment agency in Canada to provide information on their background check of a former employee.

I was able to answer several questions in a reply to a form, embedded in the email. They were answers that I was able to give easily based on my knowledge of the former employee. I find the questions to be relevant.

My reply took less than 10 minutes as promised in their email.

I find their approach to be considerate and very good, compared to the troublesome method that is usually adopted by employment agencies in Singapore.

Here are the faults of the methods adopted in Singapore:

a) Difficult to open their encrypted questionnaire
b) Difficult to answer their questions which ask for detailed scores to issues that are hard to measure
c) Too many questions, many of which are irrelevant.

I tried to be helpful by giving references on former employees. After a few frustrating experiences, I now refuse to respond to any question for employment references that are stored in an encrypted form or adopt the "Singapore method".

WOTC - Protesters in Hong Kong

Wisdom of the Crowd: 78% of the participants said that the protesters in Hong Kong will be charged for rioting and other crimes. 19% said they will get an amnesty.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Why some people like to keep GST

Wisdom of the Crowd: 53% of the participants said that some people want to keep GST because they were brainwashed by the PAP that GST is a good tax. Another 26% want GST to be levied only on non-essential goods.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Friday, September 27, 2019

Quora: What can China do to make Trump sweat?

Paul Noel, former Research Scientist 6 Level 2 UAH Huntsville Al. (2009-2014)

President Trump holds all the cards and he knows it. China cannot make him sweat.

China entered this trade war thinking they could bluff President Trump out. Their position was somewhat tolerable. As the US ratched up the tariffs China began to hemorrhage billions of dollars a day in trade position. Worse yet competitors to China such as Vietnam were fast filling in the market. Domestically in the US the people began filling in the market.

I met a man today who was in training at United States Steel Birmingham under contract with NuCor. He will be helping open an ultra modern steel mill in Pittsburgh Pa. US Steel is opening 12 new mills in the US. That work will never go back to China. In their tantrum against the US China has slit their own throat. The US is going to be a superpower in industry again. These mills will make cars for the US and around the world. They will make much more.

President Trump is not sweating at all. Maybe you should learn what his sister told about him. She said growing up with him she learned never to compete with Donald Trump he always won! China is learning this too.

The situation with China as of Sept 21, 2019 is very bad. China finds itself with its crops in 50% failure. Brazil is not filling in the demand as their crops are down. The US crops are tight but the US is the only nation with food for China. China is so desperate now as they find themselves without income and without food and the only nation that can carry China is the US. That means back to the table with President Trump hat in hand.

China has permanently lost 1/3 of their economy in this trade war. They have just had to release strategic food reserves including 100,000 tons of frozen pork. Their government is on the edge of collapse and I mean end of the communist government and they slammed the Americans under President Trump making him more intractable to them. China is losing its ability to even survive and it needs to beg to the USA.

Sweat! China is sweating blood and President Trump is about to rake in the chips. China thought they had taken control of the US. Now they find out Karma is very unfriendly when you do bad things.

Remember China started this trade war about 30 years ago. It is only now that President Trump said end it.

Vote and win a prize

Should e-scooters be banned?

There is a petition asking for e-scooters to be banned from our pavements and roads.

Is this too harsh? I wish to share my views.


This website shows some of the issues raised by readers in our mainstream newspapers and the replies from the authority.

WOTC - Life in Singapore

Wisdom of the Crowd: 79% of the respondents find life to be difficult and worrying in Singapore. 21% are positive.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Dissent and protest

Wisdom of the Crowd: 98% of the respondents said that undergraduates should be taught the topic of dissent and protest, but in a positive way. 2% disagree.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues for voting:

1. Should the public transport fares be increased to cover the higher operating cost
2. s it fair for short distance travel to be set at a high level?

Vote in

Increase in public transport fares

The govt has announced a possible increase of 7% in public transport fares to cover higher operating cost.

This increase is excessive. Here are my reasons.

WOTC - Locals are unhappy with PAP policy towards new citizens

Wisdom of the Crowd: 91% of the participants are unhappy with the policy of the PAP towards new citizen for 3 reasons. 9% support this policy.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - New citizens will vote PAP

Wisdom of the Crowd: 60% of the participants expect the new citizens to vote for the PAP at the general election, 36% expect them to vote for PAP for the first time, but not at subsequent elections.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Quora: How is China hurting from President Trump's trade war? Is China hurting more than the U.S.A.?

Jamie Cawley, lived in China 2012-2018, now Hong Kong Answered

Let’s be clear: “Trade War” is a political/news artifact, like “The War on Drugs” and all other political wars - the “War on Poverty” etc. Economically it is trivial.

It is odd, because it is cried up by Trump’s opponents as much as anyone. 10% tariffs or even 25% make little difference and are easily evaded when necessary by ‘re-originating’ stuff via another country (largely Thailand and Indonesia when Obama put 25% tariffs on Chinese tyres 2009–2015). They shout ‘disaster’ and ‘Smoot-Hawley’ and make it all look real and Trump big. Newscorps do the same, especially through low news periods like August.

It also depends on vanity. The US takes for granted that it is a big dog and that its actions will have huge effects. Exports to the US account for 2.6% of the Chinese economy, which grew at 6.5% last year. Tariffs on half of this make no difference you can measure.

They have had a bad effect, tho’, particularly the attack on Huawei (currently ‘suspended’) which has told Chinese corporations not to source from the US as one tweet can, apparently, cut off supply. Talk about cutting off your nose. It has also sabotaged the USDA’s - long planned and constructed - attempt to compete with the Aussies for meat and fruit in the Chinese market. Trump must be the toast of Adelaide.

But it keeps the news agenda where Trump wants it, as this question and answer show - away from Russia, away from profiteering from the Presidency, away from paying off tarts, away from the fact this his lawyer is serving three years for doing what Trump told him.

AND will give him a massive win next year when he ‘sorts out’ the mess and ‘gets what he has fought for’, alongside the North Korea Agreement (tba) in the lead up to the election. (The reality is that the US will be granted the same terms of trade with China as the rest of the world got in 2018 but that is not how it will appear. The NK agreement has been in the bag for some time, delivered by China as it happens, but awaiting the right moment for release).

The USA is supreme in many things, but, above all, in providing entertainment people love. Hollywood stands head-and-shoulders and waistband above others, alongside HBO, Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto, the Kardashians, etc. Trump has this nailed. The circus rolls on, filling the news channels and bar conversations.

And US citizens pay 6 times as much for medicines, imprison more citizens at vast expense than any other country has ever done, cannot sort out it shooter or Opioid problem and pours money into the largest Armed force ever conceived for no clear reason.

Wisdom of the Crowd - new issues

1. What will happen to Donald Trump?
2. What will happen to Boris Johnson, PM of UK?

Give your vote in

WOTC - Drone attack on Saudi oil fields

Wisdom of the Crowd: 22% of the participants in this survey expect America to attack Iran in retaliation for the drone attack on the Saudi oil fields. The other 78% expect do not expect America to make an attack.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - F1 racing

Wisdom of the Crowd: 23% of the participants in this survey said that the F1 racing is good for Singapore. 77% said that it is not good.

See the breakdown of the votes in

New York Times: Winners and Losers in Latest Trump Scandal

Author Headshot
Opinion Columnist
Only 11 days have passed since Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, revealed that the Trump administration was illegally withholding a whistle-blower complaint from Congress. When the news came out, I — probably like most observers — expected it to be another fizzle, yet another clear example of Trump malfeasance that would just fail to catch fire with Congress or the public.
And that may yet happen. I presume and hope that pollsters are at work as we speak, trying to gauge public opinion on the scandal. But this time feels different, maybe because it’s so simple and clear cut. The president of the United States and his personal lawyer both admit that they called on a foreign regime to produce dirt on one of his political rivals. It now looks as if he tried to pressure said foreign regime by withholding crucial military aid, which makes it worse.
The result is that this scandal is blowing up in a way previous Trump scandals, no matter how serious, haven’t. A House vote to impeach has quickly gone from “unlikely” to “more likely than not.”
Why does this matter? In general, I dislike the common journalistic trope of “winners and losers” from political developments. In this case, however, it seems to me like a good way to sum up the fallout so far. So here are three winners and two losers from the developments so far.
1. Adam Schiff: After years when it seemed as if nothing could shake Trump’s ability to stonewall, Schiff started an avalanche that has a good chance of bringing the wall tumbling down.
2. The narrative of Trump as betrayer of America: There has been abundant evidence all along that Trump’s team colluded with Russia in 2016, and that Trump in office has been all too happy to carry water for brutal foreign autocrats. But it was all complicated and obscure enough to confuse many people. Pressuring Ukraine to smear Joe Biden’s son is something everyone can understand, and it retroactively makes all the other accusations credible.
3. Hard-working reporters: We don’t have all the facts about what exactly Trump and company did to set off the whistle-blower, but the past week and a half have been one devastating revelation after another, all thanks to reporters at major news outlets, including The Times.
1. “Savvy” journalistic analysis: The two great media sins of 2016 were false equivalence and the substitution of speculation about how things would “play” for description of what was actually going on. Sure enough, the first reaction of some in the media was to present Trump’s verified abuse of power and completely unsupported claims of corruption by Joe Biden as comparably grave, and to suggest that the episode somehow “raises questions” about Biden — a cowardly dodge of the media’s obligation to get at the truth. But articles along these lines generated huge criticism, and I’m seeing a lot less of that sort of thing in the past couple of days.
2. Senate Republicans: It’s looking quite likely now that G.O.P. senators will have to vote on charges of impeachment — charges that will be based on documented abuses, not disputable interpretations. Most if not all of them will, of course, vote to acquit. But in so doing they’ll expose their corruption and disloyalty to American principles for all to see.
So it’s been quite a couple of weeks. And while it won’t be over until November of next year, and probably not even then, it looks as if Trump and his party are finally in the kind of trouble they deserve.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Confusing arrangement

My friend sold his condo and used the sale proceed to buy a HDB flat.

He was angry over two issues.

He has to transfer the electricity contract from his old property to the new property. It was quite troublesome. He is stuck with a two year contract and is required to keep the retail supplier.

The transfer was not smooth. He has to use Singapore Power for at least one week before switching to the retail supplier. It seemed to be quite confusing to him.

He said that each retail supplier has their own terms and conditions, which he found difficult to understand.

He asked - why can't Singapore Power reduce their electricity tariff and avoid giving this kind of problem to consumers.

After two years, what are the terms of renewal?

He also asked for the total sales proceed of his condo to be paid into his CPF account and for the CPF to pay him cash for whatever is due to them.

He found that the CPF had deducted the release of funds from his account but did not pay the money into his bank. It seemed that there is a 7 day delay. In the meantime, he has no money to pay for his CPF flat.

He found these process to be very confusing.

I told him - don't vote for PAP. They created all this kind of problem for ordinary people. Agree?

Wisdom of the Crowd

1. Was it wise for Singapore to renew the MOU on US use of military facilities?
2. Does PM Lee deserve the World Statement Award?

Give your vote in

Kra Canal across Thailand

The Kra canal across Thailand could have a major impact on Singapore's economy. Here is an update on the feasibility of this project.

The pros and cons of constructing a canal across the Isthmus of Kra have been debated for centuries: proponents stress economic and strategic benefits, while critics argue that it is too costly and commercially unviable.

Since the 2014 coup in Bangkok, advocates of the canal have highlighted three potential game changers: the new Thai monarch, China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Thailand’s 20-year National Strategy.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has responded cautiously to the proposal, as he must consider complex domestic, economic and geopolitical factors.
Because of political uncertainties in Thailand, lack of royal support and the global economic slowdown, construction of a Kra canal remains a distant prospect.

A new way to finance large losses

Most people look towards insurance to finance losses, such as health care bills, motor repairs caused by accidents, loss of property due to fire and disasters, etc.

I wish to suggest a new way to finance these large losses.

Anonymous e-wallet

Some people did not like to use e-wallet to make payments because they are worried that their spending can be tracked.

I find this fear to be exaggerated.

Here are my reasons:

Wisdom of the Crowd

WOTC - Would Lee KY have allowed the huge increase in population?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 52% of the participants said that Lee KY would not have allowed the huge increase in population if he was in charge. 48% said that he would.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Biggest blunder committed by PAP

Wisdom of the Crowd: The participants gave their views of the three biggest blunder committed by the PAP govt. Clue: The opening of the two casinos is NOT one of them.

See the results in

Quora: What is your opinion with Trump saying the US is not going to do business with Huawei, not ready to make a trade deal with China?

Lance Chambers, Been involved in US politics since Kennedy assassination.Updated

I think trump is full of s**t.

Trump bans android updates going to Huawei. He bans the sales of integrated circuits to China. Then the G20 happens and a few days later he reverse everything and says Android can go to Huawei and ICs can be sold to China.

Now he’s changed it again. The orange cheeto probably is incapable of wiping his own ‘arse’ (English spelling of ass).

China has stopped even talking to trump and/or his ‘negotiating team/s’. There is no point as he’s incapable of making any deal that’s worth anything. I suspect that he just keep flapping his gums so that his fans know he’s still breathing.

Trump saying he’s not going to make a deal is because he can’t get anyone in China to talk to him.

Anyway, China keeps on exporting more to the US every month and America exports less every month to China as the Chinese don’t buy American products since the start of the Trade War. China also continues to increase sales to the rest of the world.

Here’s the thing:

I’ve posted the following before but I think it needs to be read by a few more Americans.

Chinas GDP - 14.17 trillion US$ - World GDP Ranking 2019

Chinas exports to the US - 0.54 trillion $US - U.S. Trade with China

**Chinas trade with the US comprises 3.8% of Chinese GDP**.

If, when you were a kid, your parents held back 38 cents for every $10 you were given as your allowance would it have made a dent in your spending? Nope, it would not.

Same for China. The US market isn’t that important.

America is failing to manage trade with any nation that isn’t scared of the US and fewer and fewer are, today, scared of the US.

What I do believe is that trump is doing the right thing for Trump and for Putin.

Who believes that Putin cares for and supports America and Americans? We all know he hates the US and always has. He’s ex-KGB for Gods sake.

So why would he spend all that time and money to get trump into the WH? He did it because he had found a man he knew would trash the USA. He’s already doing the same as I write this as he and his cronies have already starting hacking in the US again in preparation for 2024.

If trump does get back in I will have to agree that Russia is far far more competent at hacking the US than the US is at stopping him and a hell of a lot smarter as well. It will also reinforce my utter contempt for the US government today with dump in the WH.

Monday, September 23, 2019

The govt should regulate but not micro-manage

Many people hold the view that the govt should not micro-manage.
I agree.
They even argue that the govt should leave matters to the market.
I disagree. The govt has a duty to regulate the market and make sure that the ordinary people are not "ripped off".

Read my views here.

Sharing office space


SoftBank's Masayoshi Son is in favor of removing WeWork's Adam Neumann as CEO, as the company's directors plan to meet this week to propose Neumann step down, CNBC reported. WeWork views Son's move against Neumann as an effort to prevent the company from going public, following a tumultuous week in which WeWork postponed its IPO roadshow. (CNBC)

My comment.
The business of WeWork is to share the use of working space, must like Uber share the use of vehicles. This is the right model, compared to renting of fixed business premises.

However, it seemed that WeWork is badly managed and has lost a lot of money. This is a similar outcome to Uber. It is the problem about taking and burning investors' money, which is the prevailing model in the technology startup.

Collapse of Thomas Cook

From CNBC:

The world's oldest travel firm Thomas Cook collapsed, stranding more than half a million holidaymakers around the globe and sparking the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history. Employing 21,000, Thomas Cook currently has 600,000 travelers abroad, forcing governments and insurance companies to coordinate a huge rescue operation. (Reuters)

My comment.
This is the free market and capitalism at work. When the company is profitable, the shareholders made huge profits. When it goes insolvent, the govt has to step in to bail out the customers and employees.

Surely there must be a better business model? Some large organisations should be state owned, rather than privately owned.

Learn from Johore how to name our roads in a logical way

I like the way that Johor name their roads. 
Take a look at Jalan Setia. The roads that branch from it are called Jalan Setia 1, Jalan Setia 2, etc. The roads that branch from Jalan Setia 4 are called Jalan Setia 4/31, Jalan Setia 4/32, etc. It is a logical way to name the roads.

Contrast it with the way that the planners in Singapore name our roads. We have Sin Ming Ave, Sin Ming Lane, Sin Ming Road, Sin Ming Drive. All of these roads are of the same size, i.e. Lane is the same size as Avenue. They do not follow any logical pattern.

It becomes worse when it comes to Sengkang or Punggol. They use various names. It is difficult to remember these names and to know how they relate to each other.

I wonder if the naming of our roads are intended to confuse the army that invade Singapore, so that the invading army will "lose their way".

Promote multi-racialism with positive measures

Lee HL is receiving a World Statements Award for fostering a society that embraces multiculturalism.

I agree that we do not have racial and ethnic tensions. That is a positive aspect of Singapore.

However, this outcome is the product of negative measures, such as:

Be aware and avoid being a bigot

A bigot is a person who is intolerant of the views held by other people.

The education system in Singapore has produced many people who are bigots. They hold a narrow minded view on issues and declare the other views to be wrong. They are strong minded and voice their bigoted views in a rude or arrogant manner.

I used to call these people rude and arrogant. I now know of a more appropriate description - they are bigots.

I have an open mind. I do not accuse other people of holding wrong views. I may disagree with them, but I do not wish to judge them. I only express my own views, which are different from their views.

Some people accused me of being intolerant of other views because I deleted them. They are wrong.

I only delete the rude and arrogant views of bigots. They think that they are right and declare me to be wrong.

If the differing views are expressed politely, they will not be deleted.

But then, the bigots do not know the difference. So, they will eventually be banned from this page.

Why does China want to introduce a digital currency?

China already has two successful e-payment platforms, namely AliPay and WeChat Pay. It is widely used throughout China. Why does the govt want to introduce a digital currency?

Here are my views.

WOTC - Performance of the current govt

Wisdom of the Crowd: 83% of the participants in this survey have a negative view of the performance of the current govt. Some describe them as a disaster.

See the breakdown of the votes in

China’s longest march: To the future

New York Times:

Around the world, Beijing is building trade and transportation infrastructure — and governmental partnerships — through its multibillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative. At home, the Chinese government continues to tighten social and religious controls.
For years, our correspondents have been tracking China’s emergence as a global powerhouse. and finding the trouble spots. Their latest work:
Business controls: Beijing is amassing vast troves of data — including payroll data, copyright violations, even how many employees are members of the Communist Party — and using that to grade businesses and their operators.
The penalties for low grades in China’s expansion of its “social credit system” could be high, and not just for Chinese companies: Warnings have been sent to United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and FedEx.

Quora: What will happen to the United States if China's technology continues to advance?

Steven Henninger, former Owner (1988-2013)

I’ve worked with Chinese tech companies. Their engineers and scientists are devoted to their families, employers and country.

China has the capacity to leap frog the US in many different technologies. Take your pick, they are on it.

The Chinese government places a high value on a highly educated population. Engineering and scientific professionals are leading a revolution in advancing scientific innovation in China.

Their current leader, Xi, was a chemical engineer before becoming involved in his political career. In fact, many Chinese politicians are former engineers, refreshing thought isn’t it?

The motivations for innovation in the US and China are a key point in China leap frogging the US. Both countries reward success with financial incentives.

But, the Chinese have a greater sense of pride in their country and it’s future.

The US is presently extremely divided politically, current leadership is seeking short term monetary goals over the advancement of scientific innovation.

China may take the lead in further technological and scientific breakthroughs in this environment.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

We need to revamp our bus network

In an earlier post of this photo, I made the remark - Stupid KBW. I will now explain.

We have too many bus services. The network becomes ridiculous in the CBD area. It is expensive to run many services, which leads to lower occupancy of the buses. The higher operating cost leads to higher fares.

See my views in this post.

A big network of buses was necessary in the old days when there were few MRT lines. The situation has now changed. The MRT network has reached most parts of Singapore.

We need an efficient network of feeder buses to bring passengers to the MRT station. This can be supplemented by express services that run on expressways and bring passengers from one town to another, subject to demand and connectivity.

A revamped network will be more efficient, reduce operating cost (and fares) and reduce travel time.

KBW inherited the current system. With a million dollars in salary, he has the duty to find a better solution to improve the system. Instead, the opts to adopt the easy way and raise the transport fares. Do you like it?

Stupid KBW. Do you agree?

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