Saturday, June 13, 2020

Failed to carry out what was promised

The minister promised to improve the facilities in the foreign workers' dormitories after the Little India Riots.

What was done by the ministry of manpower afterwards?

If the ministry was serious in dealing with the problems, we would not have the massive infection among the foreign workers, leader to the circuit breaker that cost the country over $90 billion.

Friend - in case you do not know, it is over $90 BILLION, and not $90 million. OK?

Let me ask you. Do we have competent PAP ministers? Should we continue to vote for PAP? Do we want Singapore to be doomed?…

What is happening with the circuit breaker?

The circuit breaker was imposed in early April. Over two months have passed.  Why are we still recording around 500 new cases daily, most of which are in the foreign worker dormitories? Those who were infected before the start of the circuit breaker should have passed their quarantine period and stopped infecting other people.  Does it mean that the infection continued to spread in the dormitories in spite of the safe distancing measures that were taken under the circuit breaker? Does it mean that the safe distancing measures were not effective? Our ministers should explain the reason for the continuing high number of cases that are being detected by covid testing today, after more than two months of  circuit breaker and over $90 billion of money that were spent on these measures.  Do you agree?

Tuition for children

Many parents spend a lot of money to engage students for their children. They want their children to do well for the current level and score high marks.  I suggest an approach that allows the parents to save on the tuition fees and prepare their children to cope better in their studies.  What is this approach? Encourage the children to do the examination papers for all subjects for the previous level year. They have already completed the previous level, so they will find it fairly easy to cope. For example, if the child is now at primary 5, they should do the examination papers for primary 4 (which they have already completed) and refresh on what they have learned. The parents can identify the mistakes that the children have made, and explain these mistakes. Alternatively, the parents can engage a tutor to explain the mistakes to the children.  It is also possible that the children can learn from their mistakes on their own, and may not need a tutor or their parent to guide them. Where do the parents get the examination papers for the previous school year?  There are shops selling the examination papers from several top schools in Singapore. They can be bought for a few tens of dollars. It is a small sum compared to tuition fees. There is also a website that allows the soft copy to be downloaded for free. It is available at I am developing a platform that contains these examination papers and allows automatic marking of the results. The student and parents can also keep track of the results. The private tutors can also use this platform. The students can also do the examination papers for the current level. However, this should be done towards the end of each semester, after the student has learned the topics in school.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

An alternative to the wearable tracker

There is no need to implement the wearable tracker. We can avoid spending several tens of million dollars on this project and have a more effective system. This project is likely to face many challenges and may lead to a waste of public funds. There is a more effective way to carry out contact tracing. We can avoid spending a lot of money and achieve better result.

An effective way to do contact tracing

I make this suggestion on how to carry out contact tracing in an effective way.

A good way to record contact tracing data is to scan the bar code in the NRIC or other identity card (for e.g. concession transport card) at designated locations, e.g. public transport stations, supermarkets, malls, classrooms, etc.

This is already being done at many locations under the "safe entry" protocol.

I suggest that the scanning can be carried out automatically by the devices and do not need to be manned. We can display prominent signs to direct the public to scan their entry. We can employ a smaller number of guides to help the public to do the scanning - at least at the initial stage.

We should give the incentive to the public to carry out the scan. For example, in the event that they are placed on quarantine due to the contact tracing by this platform, they will receive a free covid-19 test and an adequate allowance for each day of quarantine.

We need to use the data that has been captured. The NRIC of an infected person is entered into the database and an algorithm can be run to identify the other people who were scanned at the same location around the same time period. These traced people will be notified automatically by SMS to report to a testing station.

What about the "social distancing ambassadors" who are now employed to carry out the scanning? Will they now become unemployed?

These ambassadors can be re-deployed to perform the the next phase of the project. They have to handle a large number of people who have been traced and identified as "potentially infected".

The ambassadors can be trained to follow up with the large number of people who have been traced and ensure that they report at the testing station. These ambassadors can also be trained to man the testing station.

We will be making better use of these ambassadors to do useful work.

I suggest that this work should be managed directly by a central government agency, rather than the individual businesses. For example, the central agency can procure the scanning device and placed them at many locations.

The central agency may enlist the cooperation of the businesses. If this is done, the agency should direct the work to be done and carry out the coordination.

There is no need to implement the wearable tracker. We can avoid spending several tens of million dollars on this project and have a more effective system. This project is likely to face many challenges and may lead to a waste of public funds.

Tan Kin Lian


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Millions already spent on contact tracing

I read with concern the government's effort to introduce a wearable tracker and probably compel all residents to wear this device. Many people are worried about privacy issue. It is an important concern, but I will let them pursue it. I want to raise the concern about the cost of this national effort and the possibility of getting any useful benefit that justify the cost. There are no figure about the cost, so I shall have to make a guess. If this is a national effort, it means that the wearable tracker has to be issued to every person.   The cost of a fitness watch is $30. The wearable tracker may probably cost less, say $15. If this is to be issued to 6 million residents, the cost will be $90 million. We must add the cost of distribution - so the total project cost is likely to be $120 million. For this project to succeed, everybody must wear the device and regularly sync it to a mobile phone. Most people have a mobile phone. If they do not they can sync the device to a mobile phone of a friend or family member.  They sync process will allow the wearer to check against a database of infected persons. If the wearer has been in contact with an infected person, he can be notified about it. The law will probably require the wearer to report to a health authority and be placed on quarantine. The problem is that some people will not wear the tracker or they will not charge the tracker, so it will not be collect the contact data.  This project can succeed only if there is a high degree of social discipline and everybody play their part by charging the device and sync it to a mobile phone for checking the database at regular intervals. I am afraid that, in practice, there will be a high degree of non-compliance that make their project ineffective.  Rather than take this risk of a new project, I suggest that the government should make proper use of the data that is already collected by the Safe Entry operation. This exercise must be costing the country a few tens of million dollars every month. It does collect the data of people who visit tens of thousand locations every day.  If the safe entry data of infected persons are tracked against the safe entry data of other people in the database, it should be possible to identify the people who could be potentially infected. These are the people who checked in at the same location around the same time. This may not catch every potentially infected people, but it should catch a large number. The potentially infected people could be alerted. At the very least, we should try to make use of the available data, rather than create a new and expensive platform.  Let us now keep spending money that may be unnecessary and wasteful.

Quora: Donald Trump claims that China did not warn the United States, and so he was unprepared for the virus. Is that true?

Paul Mitchell, Veterinarian, replied.

The world knew about it in late December. It was on the TV in Hong Kong, so it was hardly withheld information. Also the US had people in the WHO at that time, when China told the WHO. In addition to all that, his intelligence people told him there was a disease situation developing in Southern China in late October, which is perplexing because the first Chinese case may have caught it in November.

In summary, the bloke lies consistently and continually so it’s difficult to believe anything he says.

Contact tracing with wearable tracker

Singapore is implemented a wearable tracker for contract tracing.
I remember reading that it is based on the new technology developed by Facebook and Google.
The aim is to consume less energy so that one charge of the battery can last a long time.
I do not know the full technical details - so I shall hazard a guess here.
If there is another person with a similar device nearby, the device will record that person's ID and time.
The wearer will probably have to sync the device to a PC or mobile device at regular intervals and a check is made against a database showing the ID of infected persons and the period of infection.
If the wearer has been in contact with this person during the period, the wearer is alerted about the possible infection.
I will develop a database to simulate this contact tracing concept.
There is no record of the location of contact or the identity of the persons.
Do you think that this is the approach adopted in the wearable tracker?

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Unique Passwords

We need to use the same password, so that we can remember them. However, there is a risk that if the password is hacked, the hacker can use the same password to access many other websites. Google now warn me that my password has been exposed and asked me to change them in the websites that they are being used.  It is really a big hassle.  I have now decided to adopt the following approach.  I will still use a common website, such as zyz1234#. It contains a letter, , number and special symbol. I will use this same password for various websites by add a prefix, e.g. G for Google, Z for Zoom, F for Facebook. So, my password is Gxyz1234#, Zxyz1234#, Fxyz1234#. I have now added a capital letter. Of course, some websites that have the same starting letter will have the same password, but it will only apply to a few. Do you like this idea?

How to prevent credit card fraud

I suggest that the regulator (MAS) should make it mandatory for a bank to require the customer to enter a PIN to verify a credit card transaction what is made online. It is easy for the customer to register a PIN for the credit card. The customer needs only to register a PIN for the credit card that they intend to use for online purchases.  This will stop  thief from making a fraudulent purchase just by quoting the details of the credit card. Many years earlier, when online transactions was not prevalent, it would be difficult for a bank to require the customer to enter a PIN. But with the advance of the Internet and mobile data during the past ten years, this is no longer an issue. But the banks are reluctant to change. So they need to be promoted by the regulator. Perhaps the law should be changed to place the responsibility on the bank when they make a payment based on the credit card number, which is not verified by a PIN. If this law is in place, the banks will be in a hurry to implement the PIN. I have seen some banks send a SMS to ask the customer to confirm the transaction.  I think the use of a PIN is more convenient for the customer and less costly for the bank. I suggest that MAS should take the lead to implement this change.

WOTC - Deaths from coronavirus in Singapore

Wisdom of the Crowd: 76% of the respondents are not alarmed at the number of deaths from the coronavirus in Singapore, as it is low by comparison to other countries. The remaining 24% are worried.

WOTC - Spread of virus after circuit breaker

Wisdom of the Crowd: 70% of the respondents are confident that the coronavirus will be contained after the relaxation of the circuit breaker. 20% think that the virus will not cause much harm. 10% are alarmed that it could lead to serious harm.

Investing long term savings

In my talk on financial planning, I advise young people to invest in the Straits Times Index Exchange Traded Fund (STI ETF). This ETF can be bought like any share on the Singapore Exchange. The STI ETF is a fund that is invested by the fund manager in the top 30 shares in Singapore that are part of the Straits Times Index. They include banks, industrial companies, REITS and other blue chip shares. By investing in the STI ETF, the investor is able to diversify the risk among the 30 blue chip shares. They do not need to worry about which the selection of the shares. They are investing in 30 shares for diversification of the risk. They should invest for the long term to average out the return in the good and bad years.  If the investor has $100,000 or more, they can invest in a selection of blue chip shares, rather than the STI ETF.  They can choose 5 to 10 blue chips shares and spread their investment equally among these shares. They can select the shares based on long term value. I give a regular talk to share my experience in selecting these shares. They can register for my talk, if they find it useful.  The website is:

Paying fee for online talks

I have organized many online talks on investment, insurance and financial planning.
In the past, I asked the participant to pay the fee of $10 (which will now be increased in stages to $30) by PayNow and to notify me of the payment.
I had to take the trouble to update the payment. It can be quite tedious.
I have now changed the system. The participant will update the payment on their own by entering the payment reference number from the bank. The fee is automatically taken as being paid.
It is possible for a participant to cheat me by updating the payment, even though they have not made any payment.
I will be able to check the actual payment received on the day of the talk. If the payment is not received, I will call the participant to verify.
I will only send the link for the talk only to those participants who have actually made the payment.
I do not think that participants will deliberately cheat me, but for those who do, I have a way to check.
The fee for future talks will be increased to $15 and later in stages to $30.
The fee of $30 for a 90 minute talk works out to $20 per hour.
I understand that some speakers charge $4,000 for a 3 day talk on investing (i.e. $200 per hour for a 20 hour talk).
So, my eventual fee of $20 per hour is only 10% of the commercial rate.
I advise participants to register early as the registration may close one or two days before the talk. I do not have the time to handle last minute requests as they are quite troublesome for me.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. The govt is planning for an early general election
2. Is it safe to relax social distancing in public transport?

Vote in

Monday, June 08, 2020

WOTC - Performance of PM Muyhidden

Wisdom of the Crowd: 65% of the respondents said that PM Muyhidden performed poorly. 35% said that he did a good job so far.

WOTC - Vote of no confidence in Malaysian Parliament

Wisdom of the Crowd: 32% of the respondents expect PM Muyhidden to win the vote of no confidence in Parliament. Another 32% expect him to lose the vote. 36% expect the situation to be chaotic.

Note - there was no vote.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Was the $95 billion stimulus during the circuit breaker well spent?
2. Is the coronavirus being eradicated globally?

Vote in

Have a broader perspective to the risk of covid-19

I said that the corona virus is mild and will not cause much harm in Singapore.
Some small minded people ask if I will have the same opinion, if I were infected.
My answer to them is - my view remains the same, regardless of who is affected.
I will only be worried if many people are infected and many are hospitalized and many die from the corona.
It does not matter whether it is someone that I know or not.
I continue to be disappointed at the narrow minded, self centered people. They make their decisions based on their selfish, personal perspective.
They cannot think more broadly and more rationally.

Salary subsidy of 50% for one year

I propose that the government provide a salary subsidy of 50% for one year for companies to employ locals into certain jobs that are now being done by foreigners. The salary should be set at a level that can attract locals into these jobs. The government should specify what the salary level should be. What happens after one year? Will the employer be able to sustain the salary without continuing government subsidy? After that, I will leave the terms of employment to market forces. The employer may offer a lower salary to the worker after one year. Or, the employer might be able to maintain the attractive salary, if they are doing well. If the employer is getting public contracts, such as cleaning and maintenance, the government should set the example by continuing to pay adequate fees for the contract. This will allow the employer to continue with an adequate salary for the workers.  It may be somewhat challenging in the private sector, such as retail or food and beverage. If the business conditions do not improve, the employer may have to reduce the salary. It is important for the employer and the local worker to try out the new arrangement for one year. The local worker may find that the work is quite acceptable after all. The employer may find the local worker to be quite good after all. After a year, they can work out the salary to be mutually satisfactory to both parties. I believe that the government subsidy of 50% of the salaries for one year could make the difference in changing to a new arrangement, and in getting locals to accept the jobs that are now done by foreign workers. It may be possible that the government will continue the salary subsidy for the second year at 25% of the total salary. This may give another year for the new arrangement to work well.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

National Jobs Council will create 100,000 jobs

The National Jobs Council has a challenge to create 100,000 jobs in 12 months. I wish to suggest how this can be achieved. We must avoid the temptation to take short cuts to achieve the target. It is easy to create the wrong kinds of jobs. This has happened in the past. The government has succeeded in creating the following kinds of jobs in the past and currently: a) Social distancing ambassadors b) Trainers under Skills Future Many of the people trained under the Skills Future programs take it as a hobby to spend the money set aside for them. They are not able to get skills to find a suitable job. These jobs do not achieve the long term goal of maintaining employability. We need to focus on jobs that are now done by foreign workers and make them acceptable for locals.

We can continue to develop jobs for the economy of the future but we cannot rely on this source alone. It will not create sufficient jobs for the future. We should not overlook the above types of jobs that need to be done and make these jobs attractive for locals.
These jobs include the following: a) Bus drivers b) Maintenance and cleaning c) Food & beverage To make these jobs acceptable to workers and local employers, the government has to provide financial incentives and set the wages and working conditions. This is how it can be done: a) The wages are specified by the government. b) The government will subsidize 50% of the salaries for one year. c) The government provides the public sector work at contract sums that the contractors find to be attractive. In the past, the government outsource the work to the contractors who then offer inferior terms of employment that are not able to attract locals. The one year wage subsidy may change the situation. It is possible that many locals will enter the food and beverage industry if the terms of employment are attractive. The establishments can pay better wages it they can have the 50% subsidy for one year. Beyond one year, the subsidy can continue at a lower level. If the government provides contacts for cleaning and maintenance and pays an adequate contract sum, it is possible to specify better terms of employment that can attract the workers. There is a need to employ a large number of bus drivers. But the nature of the job has to change. Instead of employing people to drive the bus, we should adopt automated self driving technology. The bus should have conductors who are responsible to provide the customer service and ensure that passengers pay the fares. The work of driving the bus can be taken over by self driving automation - which is feasible for vehicles driving along fixed routes. I now wish to summarize the key points. a) To achieve job creation for locals, we have to make it possible for them to accept the jobs that are now being done by foreign workers. b) The government has to make a fundamental change in the terms of employment. They cannot continue the past practices and expect to get different results.

Career Future is not working well

I have advertised on several occasions in Career Future website on several occasions during the past years. I looked for local candidates. I did not get any response.

This website is operated by the Workforce Agency under the M of Manpower.

Recently, I advertised in Facebook. I received several responses. Many of them met with my requirements. 

I found it easy to communicate with the applicants using the Facebook platform. 

I asked a few questions and got answers from the applicants. This helped me in the screening. I followed up with a telephone call and talked to the applicants. 

Clearly, Facebook is more effective, compared to Career Future. 

It is important for our government agencies to adapt to the modern environment. They have to build a platform that is easy to use. 

Improve websites of government agencies

I have bad experience with the websites of many government agencies, including ministry of manpower, ACRA, IRAS, etc.

I share my experience here. I hope that the officers in the Smart Nation office take these suggestions into account to improve these websites to make it easier for the public to submit applications and requests to these agencies.

a) Allow the public to download a PDF fillable form to submit the transactions.
b) Improve the design of these forms to make it easy to fill the form
c) When the applicant upload the form, carry out a validation at that point and identify the errors that need to be rectified
d) Ask for the data that are essential to process the application. Avoid asking for data that are not needed for the exceptional situations. Ask for these additional data separately by subsequent communication
e) Communicate with the public using e-mail. Although there is a small risk of the data being seen by an unauthorized party, the risk is small and the data is usually not sensitive.

The approach that suggested above can reduce the time and pain that the public has been facing over the past two decades in using the websites of the government agencies. It will also reduce the cost of developing the websites considerably. 

I will be happy to elaborate more on my suggestions, if someone in the Smart Nation office is willing to explore my suggestion.

WOTC - Treating different categories of workers

Wisdom of the Crowd: 28% of the respondents agree with the current approach to treat locals, permanent residents and foreign workers differently. 72% prefer this approach to be changed.

See more details in

WOTC - Find jobs for locals

Wisdom of the Crowd: 66% o the respondents are pessimistic about the ability of the leaders to find enough jobs for locals. 24% said that we need to lower our operating costs significantly. 11% are optimistic about our ability to adapt.

See more details at

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. US employment increased in May 2020
2. Is it safe to relax the circuit breaker completely in June?
3. Should the govt hold an early general election?

Vote in

Blog Archive