Saturday, December 14, 2019

Insurer refuses to pay under "as charge" plan

Some people buy an expensive medical insurance policy that covers all treatment in a private hospital and can claim for the full amount "as charged".

They pay a hefty premium for this cover, thinking that they do not have to worry about the charges.

This is not the case. Here is a dilemma of a policyholder who paid a bill of several tens of thousand dollars and the insurance company refuses to settle the claim until the doctor reduces the bill.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Which of the failures of these govt policies affect citizens the most?
2. Which change in rule on HDB do you like most?

Vote in

WOTC - International media's criticism of POFMA

Wisdom of the Crowd: 94% of the respondents agreed with the criticism of the international media on the POFMA law in Singapore. 6% said that they should mind their own business.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Allegation of corruption at the highest level

Wisdom of the Crowd: 86% of the respondents said that there is justification for a person to alleged that there is corruption at the highest level of government. 14% disagreed.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Should windows open outwards or inwards?

A German, who has lived in Singapore for several years, asked me - why does HDB build the windows opening outwards? In Germany, most of the windows open inwards. It will be easier to clean the windows, and it takes away the risk of old windows falling down to the ground.

I told him that one possible reason is that in our hot climate, most people keeps the window open and by opening outwards, it does not take space inside the flat.

He said that we do not need to open the window fully. It is possible to open the window just at an angle, so that it does not take too much space.

This raise another question. Do most of our new flats now use sliding windows, or swing windows?

Can HDB and condo owners share your views?

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Should the CISCO officer who stopped the PMD rider be penalized?
2. Should Aung San Suu Kyii be penalized for the genocide of Rohinga people?

Vote in

Quora: Was China's attempt to destroy America's economy an undeclared war?

Masao Miwa, answered

You got it backward. ‘Was the US attempt to destroy China’s economy an undeclared war?’ The answer is yes.

The US under the guise of a trade war attempted to cripple the Chinese economy. It attacked ZTE and Huawei, it banned US companies from selling to 140 Chinese tech companies. It banned the sales of Huawei 5G and cell phones in the US. It warned other countries not to buy Huawei 5G equipment. It had Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei, arrested by Canada. It added tariffs to mostly tech products from China and threatened more tariffs if the trade war could not be settled. Trump demanded that US companies return to the US after his voluntary request to return got no response. And just recently, Trump signed a bill that meddled in the domestic affairs of China in Hong Kong. Now, we wait for China’s response where they said they would if the bill got approved.

There is a tough road ahead for American companies in selling to China with the damage that Trump has done to commercial relations with China. The sales of $600 billion in exports and ‘foreign affiliates sales’ in China are at risk of falling. FDI has already dropped off a cliff. The 3 million Chinese tourists that used to visit the US are falling. The 360,000 Chinese students enrolled in American schools and universities are taking a hit. The exchange of research between the US and China is now broken with the US demanding those that do so be fired. Trump has declared all Chinese students potential spies and restricted Chinese STEM students and basically banned Chinese STEM grad students. Our Silicon Valley tech talent is draining off with Trump’s immigration actions. SV employs about 75% of its tech force by immigrants, much of it from China are leaving. US grad schools in STEM are populated with 80% foreign students, much of it from Chinese. What Trump is doing is neutering America’s future in technology and encouraging the flow of tech students back to China. Is Trump a Russian agent? Trump is McCarthyism 2.

All these actions have made China happier. From accelerating China’s technology rise to increasing its tech workforce, Trump has supercharged China’s rise instead of blunting it. With the so-called ‘democracy bill’ passage, don’t be surprised if the trade war negotiations come to a screeching halt and more punitive actions from China ramp up again. All the efforts by the trade teams over the past year and a half will have been in vain and more pain to the US to come. Recession is no longer a case of maybe, it is becoming a reality.

Further, with the US demanding exorbitant increases in costs to station US troops in South Korea and Japan, it is another notch in these countries reexamining their relations with the US. There is a move underway for both to move closer to China. This just adds to that tendency. ASEAN and the SCO are moving closer together, as is Russia and China. The BRI successes now pull South Korea and Japan closer to China because now they see business opportunities in international infrastructure projects that were not available to them before. Trump is creating a huge political and economic block that will be the polar opposite of the US. Russia now is having more influence in Asia as the US loses its influence. Not only that, the US has lost both Pakistan and India as they both join the SCO and begin closer trade and military relations with Russia and China. Both China and India have purchased S-400 missile systems from Russia, and India has on orders for submarines and fighter aircraft. India and Vietnam have denied requests by the US to establishes naval and airforce bases in their countries.

Americans are being fed a false narrative. The changes in influence in Asia and Europe are happening at a quicker pace than ever. You can thank our POTUS for this situation, it all happened on his watch. BTW, the recent refusal of the US to pay its share of NATO costs has been paid by Canada and the EU. US influence in NATO is on the decline and the day of an all European military force is on the rise. Another point. With US sanctions being used like water, the EU, Russia, and China are seeking an alternative to the SWIFT and dollar system that makes the US sanctions effective. Today, the media announced that Venezuela is using the Euro and Yuan for paying its bills to creditors. If true, Venezuela will have an alternative to bypass US sanctions. Iran will probably also take this path. As this happens more and more often, the power of the US in ‘power diplomacy’ will become impotent. Sanctions will have less and less an impact.

WOTC - Stimulus package for Singapore

Wisdom of the Crowd: 89% of the respondents react negatively to the announcement by PM Lee that he wants to introduce a stimulus package to help the economy. 11% reacted positively.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - A good government for China

Wisdom of the Crowd: 55% of the respondents said that the communist party has produced a good government for China. 45% prefer a different type of government.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Singpass Mobile failed

I logged in to the website of IRAS. I have to sign in with my username and password. I did not get a message from my SingPass mobile to authenticate my login.

I tried again. There was no response.

There was a message that SingPass mobile would undergo maintenance from 3 am to 6 am on 12 December. I had logged in 4 hours earlier.

I asked for a PIN to be sent to me by SMS. I received it.

During the past two days, I experienced breakdown in DBS Bank (internet banking), Philips Securities (POEMS 2.0) and now SingPass Mobile.

PR who made a profit on HDB flats

Do not be jealous or angry at the permanent residents who made a profit when they sell their HDB flats. they are not that better off.

Adopt the Ang Mo Kio way to name the roads

Do you prefer the method used in Ang Mo Kio to name the roads in Sengkang and Punggol?

Unable to make a internet transfer with DBS Bank

I was not able to make an internet transfer due probably to failure of the DBS systems. I suspect that their complicated process contributed to the failure. They should have adopted a simpler system.

High taxes in France, so what?

New York Times:
By Paul Krugman

Over the weekend The Times ran an article by a couple who moved from the United States to Finland, and were pleasantly surprised by how good life can be in a high-tax, high-services country. Quite a few readers seemed surprised — probably because, without even knowing it, they’ve been influenced by pervasive conservative propaganda.

The thing is, there was a time when negative views of Europe had some basis in reality. In the 1990s Europe’s major economies seemed to be suffering from “Eurosclerosis” — persistently weak job creation, and a seeming inability to keep up with the United States as we experienced a productivity boom based on information technology.

But time has passed, and Europe’s economies have moved on. The critics, however, haven’t. They’re still carping like it’s 1999.

Let’s talk, in particular, about the right’s favorite horror story, the socialist hellhole known as France. In some ways France isn’t the best example of a big-government society: The French have made some big mistakes, especially in retirement policy, that the Nordic economies haven’t. And the French themselves are, if you ask me, too willing to believe foreign critiques of their choices.

But let’s talk anyway about how French performance compares with ours.

First of all, mass unemployment is no longer a problem. Many of the French retire too young — as I said, they kind of screwed that up. But in their prime working years, the French are actually a bit more likely than Americans to have jobs.

France’s technology lag is also a thing of the past. The French are considerably more likely than their U.S. counterparts to have broadband access, largely because broadband costs less than half as much as it does here, mainly because the French government has acted to limit monopoly power while the U.S. government hasn’t.

France has universal health care, with excellent quality. And French life expectancy, which was similar to ours in the 1980s, has risen much faster since then, so that there’s now a 4-year gap.

What is true is that French G.D.P. per capita is substantially lower than ours, partly because of early retirement, more importantly because the French take much longer vacations. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

Now, all of this costs money. French taxes are 46 percent of G.D.P., compared with only 24 percent here. But French taxpayers clearly get a lot in return.

And that, of course, is why U.S. conservatives insist that France must, despite all appearances, be a socialist hellhole. Their whole worldview is rooted in the assertion that taxes are a terrible, destructive thing, so a country that levies taxes as high as France’s must be a disaster area, no matter how nice it looks.

I mean, what are you going to believe, our doctrine or your own lying eyes?

Free events by TKL

Here are 3 events for you to register, if you are interested. They are free!

America is dysfunctional.

Many things can be blocked.

CNN News Alert: Federal judge blocks use of billions of dollars in Pentagon funds to build border wall

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Trump administration from using billions of dollars in Pentagon funds for the construction of the border wall.

Judge David Briones of the US District Court for the Western District of Texas said Tuesday that the administration cannot use military construction funds to build additional barriers on the southern border.

In September, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper authorized diverting of $3.6 billion in military construction funds for 11 wall projects on the southern border with Mexico. The Pentagon said at the time that half the money was coming from deferred projects overseas, and the other half was planned for projects in the US.

HDB lease decay - real or not?

There is a lot of discussion about the HDB lease decay. I will now add my view.

Did the PAP leaders lie when they said that the HDB was a good investment?

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. What is your prediction for the UK General Election?
2. A virtual telco in Singapore has suspended its operations.
3. Should Anwar Ibrahim get his chance to be the PM of Malaysia?

Vote in

WOTC - Deal with economic crisis

Wisdom of the Crowd: 84% of the respondents said that the government is not able to deal with the economic crisis facing Singapore. 16% said that they can.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - China's response to local elections in HK

Wisdom of the Crowd: 49% of the respondents said China will take a harder line in response to the success of the democrats in the local elections in Hong Kong. 51% said that they will not change their approach.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Should a separate lane be built for cyclists and PMD riders?
2. Should the road be renamed in Sengkang and Punggol?
3. Which HDB town has the best system to name the roads?

Vote in

We didn’t know what we were doing’

New York Times.

Thousands of pages of documents detailing the war in Afghanistan released by The Washington Post paint a stark picture of missteps and failures — as well as misleading public statements about how the war was going.
After a short-term victory over the Taliban and Al Qaeda in early 2002, the U.S. military’s efforts in the country grew hazy. Even as the Taliban grew and troops voiced concerns about the U.S. strategy’s shortcomings, senior officials almost always said progress was being made. But the documents show they knew otherwise.
Details: The Post said the documents come from 2,000 pages of Pentagon interviews conducted between 2014 and 2018 to write a series of unclassified “Lessons Learned” reports. They were released after a long legal battle with the government’s watchdog for the war.
Quotable: “We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking,” said one retired general who helped oversee the war in Bush and Obama administrations.
Cost breakdown: The Times found there was little to show for the $2 trillion spent on the 18-year war. More than 38,000 Afghan civilians and 2,400 American soldiers have died.

Quora: Is President Trump being honest when he says "China would like to make a deal but I'm not ready"?

Ivan Kraljevic, lives in Florida Answered

He is contradicting himself. But, anyway, what he is saying uncovers a lot.

First let’s lay out how he is contradicting himself:

Indeed, on Aug 9, 2019 he said: “we are not ready to make a deal, but we’ll see what happens ... China wants to do something, but I’m not doing anything yet. Twenty-five years of abuse. I’m not ready so fast”

Less than a month before that (Jul 26, 2019), though, he stated pretty much that it was China the one delaying a deal (“Trump said China may be delaying a deal in a bid to wait him out in the hope a Democrat wins in November 2020”). In his colorful and tendentious words: “I think that China will probably say ‘let’s wait,’” he said. “‘Let’s see if one of these people who gives the United States away, let’s see if one of them could get elected.’”

But a bit over a month earlier (Jun 12, 2019), it was the other way around, with President Trump insisting that “It is me right now that is holding up the deal. And we're going to either do a great deal with China or we're not going to do a deal.”

Not two months before, though (May 7, 2019), it was China the one dragging their collective feet: "The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!"

And if we keep looking further back, we will surely find more zigzagging.

Things like this are cause for his critics to see him as a liar and a fool.

But while he is certainly the former, the way to interpret President Trump is that although he will say whatever he wants to regardless of how false it is, he never utters a word (or writes a tweet, for that matter) but to achieve something. He is an absolutely utilitarian liar.

From that, one obvious probable reason for his zigzagging is that he is trying to position himself so that whatever happens he comes out as the one calling the shots: If there is a deal, it will be in spite of China trying to delay it; if there is no deal, it will be because he said no.

But, a lot more important, is the fact that both statements (he holding the deal, the Chinese holding the deal) have one thing in common: Both seek to preemptively justify the deal being delayed.

And it is in that light that we can start to make sense of what is going on: When the argument that the Chinese are holding the deal becomes plausible, he uses it to stir his base. But when that argument does not hold -when it becomes pretty evident that the Chinese are willing to make a deal- he uses the other argument, because he is really working to delay the deal and needs to explain why.

And why is that? Because every delay is an opportunity to apply more tariffs on more Chinese products.

If this seems too flimsy an indication of President Trump’s intent, we can actually reach the same conclusion from many other developments that have occurred since the Trade War started.

For example, when on May 6th, 2019 the negotiations -which had looked promising until then- broke down after President Trump accused the Chinese of “backtracking”, it became public, through the Chinese, that the big hurdle had been that the Trump Administration wanted to keep the tariffs even if a deal was reached. The Trump Administration did not dispute that account.

I.e., the tariffs are an end by themselves.

Why is that?

Because that was the plan from the beginning.

Indeed, the famous (infamous?) Tax Reform of 2017 had -very publicly- as a key element, a tariff-like tax, called the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) that was designed to compensate for the tax cuts that were going to be given to the higher tax brackets (the wealthy) and the corporations.

But the Trump Administration and Congress had to scrape it -or rather postpone it- after it was opposed by major Republican donors, being as it was a tax on consumers that would hurt their bottomline.

But the Tax Reform cannot survive without some means of compensating for the lost revenue. The deficit is exploding.

So, if the BAT could not be sold to the American public when it became obvious it was an additional tax on the middle class and the poorer segments, some other mechanism needed to be devised.

And, especially, a new packaging for that mechanism was required, one that the patriotic American public could buy…

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Should a separate lane be built for cyclists and PMD riders?

2. Should the road be renamed in Sengkang and Punggol?

Vote in

Separate lane for cyclists and PMD riders

We call the path that pedestrians walk as a footpath. The Americans call it a sidewalk. The British call it a pavement.

Roads are for motorised vehicles. Pedestrians use the footpaths. Where should the cyclists and PMDs riders use?

In many countries, they have a separate lane for cyclists. I saw the cycling lanes in the center of Kuala Lumpur as well.

Why can't we build a separate lane for cyclists and PMD riders?

WOTC - Should education be entirely free

Wisdom of the Crowd: 79% of the respondents said that compulsory education should be entirely free. 21% said that parents should be required to pay a small contribution towards the cost of education.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Share the use of footpaths

Wisdom of the Crowd: 57% said that the footpaths should be shared with PMDs provided that the safety measures can be observed. 43% said that PMDs should be banned from footpaths.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Monday, December 09, 2019

Rename the roads in Punggol

Here is my suggestion to rename the roads in Punggol estate. The roads running from west to east are renamed as Punggol Way 1, 2, 3, and 4. Those running from north to south are renamed as Punggol Drive 1, 2, 3 to 9.

Rename the roads in Sengkang

I find the current naming of the roads in Sengkang to be like "rojak".

I prefer the roads to be renamed as Sengkang Road 1, 2, 3, etc for the roads running from west to east and Sengkang Drive 1,2, 3 etc for the roads running from north to south.

Stupid XXX - got ears or not?

Divert savings to local conservation efforts

I do not agree with that the savings from the construction of the Cross Island line should be used for conservation. I do not like the concept of tying up the savings to be used in this manner.

We should spend money on local conservation, but it should not be tied to savings in the above manner.

If this is the approach, then there would be no money spend on conservation, if there were no savings from infrastructure construction.

Similarly, some people argued that the revenue from COE should be used for public transport. I also do not agree on this concept.

We should not restrict decisions in this manner.

Police call Gilbert Goh for questioning

The Police called Gilbert Goh for questioning concerning the rally that he held in Hong Lim Park. I was a speaker at the rally, so I have an interest in knowing if any offense had been committed.

I learned later that the Police called Gilbert Goh in response to a police report made by somebody (identity not disclosed) that a foreigner had participated at the rally.

Later, I learned that an Isreali national had attended the rally and asked a question at the rally. Does this amounts to "participation"?

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Is it good for parents to send their children for tuition?
2. Should the school syllabus be lightened?

Vote in

WOTC - Schools hold back PSLE result slip

Wisdom of the Crowd: 64% of the respondents said that it is bad for the schools to hold back the PSLE result slip because the parents did not pay the school fees.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - PM Lee's remark on the Hong Kong situation

Wisdom of the Crowd: 91% of the respondents said that PM Lee should have avoided making a remark on the Hong Kong situation.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Sunday, December 08, 2019

A better way to name our roads

We have a confusing way of naming the roads in Sengkang.

Is there a better way. I give my suggestion here.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Was it fair for the police to call up Gilbert Goh for investigating the Hong Lim rally?
2. The AHTC refused to recuse the 2 MPs from being involved in financial matters.
3. The govt question AHTC on their decision to ignore the motion passed in Parliament.

Vote in

Spend time in jail

My friend told me. A few years ago, he went to jail for a few weeks because he refused to pay a traffic fine of a few thousand dollars.

Why did he incur such a large fine? He bought an old car. The IV unit spoiled. He refused to pay $300 to install a new unit. He argued that the IV unit is the property of LTA and should be replaced at LTA's expenses. After all, it is used by LTA to collect his ERP fees!

Later, he stopped using the car. He gave the car key to a car sales person to sell the car. The sales person parked the car somewhere and incurred a large parking fee and fines. He disappeared and could not be traced.

Later, LTA compounded the car and asked the owner to pay for the parking charges and fines. He refused. He preferred to go to jail.

How does he spend his time in jail?

He read books. The jail has many books about Singapore. He read books on Lee KY, Goh KS, E Barker and others. He became quite aware about Singapore's history. He formed a good opinion about Goh KS and E Barker and a bad opinion about Lee KY.

My friend said that going to fail for traffic offenses is not a criminal offence. He does not have a criminal record.

True or not? My friend said. I don't know if he made it up.

Why an elderly lady is scared of a harmless dog

I let Elliot off the leash in Cactus Park. He is an "atas" dog and wants to look for a honorable place to poo. He said that the LHL commemoration stone is not honorable enough.

He walked passed an elderly lady who told me - Mr. Tan, please don't allow you dog out of the leash. I am afraid of dogs.

TKL - But this is a harmless dog. He does not bother anyone.

Lady - But I am scared of dogs.

TKL - Why?

Lady - I have been a teacher for many years. I was scared of the inspector, the principal, MOE and the govt. Now that I have retired, I need something else to be scared of. Otherwise, I am not a Singaporean. So, I am now scared of dogs.


WOTC - Use of footpaths

Wisdom of the Crowd: 82% of the respondents said that the footpaths can be shared with PMD riders, provided that some safety measures are observed. 18% preferred the footpaths to be reserved exclusively for pedestrians.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - SAF officers fly business class for military exercises

Wisdom of the Crowd: 82% of the respondents said that SAF officers should fly with their troops in military aircraft for military exercises. 9% said that they should fly economy class. Ony 9% said that they should fly business class, according to their rank.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Tale from a long term prisoner

My friend told me. A few years ago, he went to jail for a few weeks because he refused to pay a traffic fine of a few thousand dollars. He said that being jailed for a traffic offense is NOT a criminal offense, so there is no criminal record.

In the jail, he met another prisoner who had been in jail off and on for several years.

The long term prisoner related his personal circumstance. He come from a large family. He has been jobless. He committed an offence and spent some time in jail.

After he was released, he went back home but still could not find a job. His siblings complained that he was not contributing to the family income. When he fell sick, his mother complained about the medical bill. When he washed his clothes, his siblings complained that he used too much water, and water is expensive. During dinner, his siblings complained that he took the ayam, as there was not enough to share.

He found that it is better to be in jail. He got free laundry and free meals with curry and ayam. When he fell sick, he got free medical expenses. He did not need to work or to worry.

How does he get back in jail? Easy! He just stole some goods from the Fairprice supermarket. Sure get caught and sent back to jail!


Blog Archive