Saturday, July 04, 2020

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Which party gave convincing messages during the e-broadcast?
2. What vote share do you expect the PAP to get?
3. Which non PAP party will win the most seats?
4. How do you find the PAP candidates?

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WOTC - $95 billion was largely wasted

Wisdom of the Crowd: 70% of the respondents said that the $95 billion spent on the circuit breaker was largely wasted. 30% think that it was well spent.

WOTC - Corona virus is still a threat

Wisdom of the Crowd: 72% of the respondents said that the corona virus is still a big threat around the world. 28% think that the threat is subsiding.

NS can be reduced to 6 months

The Reform Party wants National Service to be reduced to 6 months. I agree with their policy. Some people said that it is not possible to train a NS men within 6 months. They pointed out the training time needed for the various vocational skills that are needed to run an army. These people are looking at this issue from a narrow perspective - namely, the approach that was adopted five decades ago, and continued until today.  They need to see this issue from a different perspective. Many countries are able to train their citizens in a shorter time, but they adopt a different approach.  A successful example is Switzerland, which is able to train their citizens in less than 6 months. Their approach has served them well over the decades. Under our approach, the NS men are expected to be operationally ready, just like full time soldiers. I find this approach to be wasteful. We are spending billions of dollars to train NS reservists. Being part-time, they cannot acquire the competence that is expected of full time professionals. I prefer a different approach. I prefer to have a smaller but highly competent full time professional army. They are the people who can be relied on to fly the fighter planes, man the artillery guns and tanks and run the military operations. The professional army will be backed by a large force of NS reservists. These reservists have received 6 months of full time training on combat skills. During times of hostility, the reservists can be called back for retraining. As they already have the basic skills, the retraining can be completed within a short time. As there is a real emergency, they will have the motivation to do their best for the country. At that time, we will need a large force of soldiers in the front lines and to protect the homeland. This is the role of the NS reservist army.  The NS reservist army is NOT to be the core of the highly sophisticated military force. That should be the role of the professional soldiers. We need a new strategy for our National Service.

PAP no longer offer a safe option

In the past, people vote for the PAP to get a team of experienced and competent leaders.

PAP does not offer this choice any more.

Instead, they offer a relatively inexperienced team. Look at the potential ministers that are being helicoptered into parliament.

The current ministers are found to be incompetent. They wasted $95 billion on the circuit breaker and did not solve the underlying problem. We still stand a high risk of a second wave of covid infection.

The $95 billion could have been used to waive GST for 8 years and reduce the cost of living for the people.

The ministers refused to consider this option, but instead spent it wastefully on the circuit breaker.

The $95 billion could have been used to give a monthly pension of $800 for those above 70, payable for their lifetime.

The ministers refused to consider this option, but instead wasted the money on the circuit breaker.

A small part of he $95 billion could be used as a wage subsidy to ensure that locals can have good paying jobs. 

Does the PAP offer competent ministers? No, they did not.

Does the PAP offer leaders who can make the right judgement? No, they did not.

Do you still want to vote for PAP, when they no longer offer experienced and competent ministers?

Voters of Singapore, it is time to vote for a change. We cannot continue to give a strong and unquestioning mandate to people who have failed us.

We start by voting into parliament, people who have the a different set of ideas and more importantly, people with the passion to serve the people.

We need enough alternative voices in parliament to force the PAP govt to be transparent and to work harder and find better solutions. They cannot continue to be complacent.

Even if the PAP were to be replaced as the government, a new government can tap competent and passionate people to be advisers to help them to run the country. This will still be a better option that a PAP govt that continues to stubbornly follow failed policies.

Vote for change.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Difficult to file an annual return with ACRA

It is extremely difficult for me to file an annual return to ACRA as a private company. I faced difficulty every year for the past ten years. The problem arise from a complicated website and often a non-responsive website. This year, I decided to take a video showing the user experience.  I upload this video to show the confusing journey that I have to go through, and still failed to submit the annual return. ACRA charges me $60 for the privilege of submitting a return, after they made my life very difficult and troublesome. I am submitting this feedback to ACRA and also to the Smart Nation Office. When will our minister and civil service recognize that they have to change their approach and avoid giving a heavy burden to the business community?

Landlords may also be struggling

The finance minister expect the landlord to help their tenants by waiving rental for 2 to 4 months. The government will only compensate the landlord for half of the cost. The landlord has to bear the other half. This directive is wrong. It assumed that the landlords have been enjoying a good yield on their property and can afford to bear part of the loss. It is a wrong assumption. Read my view here:

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Why burden business with troublesome administrative work?

The government loves to calibrate their regulations to fine detail. In the process, they cause a big headache and administrative burden to businesses. Businesses are already struggling. They can do without the additional burden. I recall reading a report that a landlord has to give rental relief to their tenants to help them to overcome the economic crisis.  I have to search the internet for the kind of relief to be provided and how it can be recovered from the government.  I found this webpage. It seems that I have to waive the rental from my tenant for two months and to seek a recovery of 0.68 months from the government. I was given 0.32 months in property tax relief. I have to bear the loss of one month rental. Never mind the additional work. This government loves to calibrate and add the cost of calibration to the business community.

Bureaucratic burden on small business

I receive this email from the PDP Commission to appoint a Data Protection Officer.
I gave this reply:
Dear Administrator
My company now has 1 employee and recently just recruited 2 more.
Do you need a Data Protection Officer for such a small company.
Don't you distinguish between big and small companies.
Do you realize that small companies have to take care of many activities just to survive.
Is it possible to relieve small companies of costly bureaucratic requirements?

Who Dares Win - Looking beyond the Reign of the Men in White

By Chung Sing Yee, retired corporate executive Among members of a number of chat groups in which I participate, there appears to be a consensus that the PAP will win the coming GE hands down, with quite a few postulating a clean sweep for the PAP.  A clean sweep for the PAP means they win every seat in Parliament, from single seat constituencies to group representation constituencies. It means that the Workers Party will be unceremoniously booted out. These clean sweep proponents, however, lament that such an outcome is far from ideal because they would prefer to see at least 20% of seats going to the Opposition, so that they can  serve as a Check and Balance to the PAP. They are therefore resigned to virtual PAP absolutism because the Opposition has offered no credible platform  other than negativity towards the PAP, which in turn means that they are far from offering any semblance of an agenda to steer Singapore forwards and onwards to a viable future. Read the full essay here

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Invest based on long term value

I saw a comment - Mr. Tan, you gave talks on investing. Some people followed you. When you sell, you have to tell them - so they can run.
I deleted that comments. It is obviously from someone who does not know what is happening.
In my talk on investing, I emphasized the following:
a) Pick your shares for long term value
b) Even if the market goes down, you do not need to panic. You can hold them for the dividend yield and for the eventual recovery.
c) You do not buy or sell based on what other people do. You make your own judgment. Preferably, you invest for the long term.
d) If you wish to take a short term trading view, you have to make your own judgment. Do not follow other people blindly and expect them to make money for you.
Actually, if you want a professional to manage your money for you, you have to pay them an annual fee of 1% to 3%. After paying the fee, you may still get poor results.
You can attend my talk here.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Give preference to locals for jobs

Over a period of 35 years, several manpower ministers failed to find a solution to the challenge of getting employers to give preference to locals for jobs. They kept to the same strategy - getting employer to pay a levy to employ foreigners and set limits on the proportion of foreign workforce.  The strategy did not work. Foreigners and employers were able to get round the loopholes.  Many jobs went to foreigners, leaving many locals unable to find good jobs.  How can this problem be solved?
Here is my suggestion.

Australia allows the residents to withdraw from their superannuation schemes

Australia has a sensible approach towards providing financial relief.

They allow people to withdraw their savings from their superannuation fund.

This is similar to the Central Provident Fund in Singapore.

This is a better approach compared to the arbitrary rules that are applied in Singapore for people to qualify for the self employed income relief.

These rules result in some people being cut off and they have to appeal and fight to get the relief.

Arbitrary rules for self employed income relief

My friend is a used car dealer. His business has been bad last year. It became worse this year.
He applied for the self employed relief (I think it is call SIRS).
He was rejected.
He appealed and fought hard. He spent some time to fight his case. Finally, his appeal was successful.
He received $9,000 for 9 months. It was helpful.
Question - does it mean that those who do not know how to fight their case will lose out?
Why does PAP introduce this kind of scheme that is quite arbitrary and unfair to those who are not able to fight their case?
Is there an alternative?
Sure, there is.
I prefer that the government allows people in financial need to withdraw their CPF savings, or to take a loan from the government that needs to be paid back.
There is no need to create arbitrary rules and require people to fight their case according to these rules and to have administrator send a lot of time dealing with tens of thousand cases.
Do you agree?

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Crystal ball gives a warning

My crystal ball (CB) whispered to me - Boss, better sell away all your shares.
TKL - Why?
CB - Second wave of corona. Big.
TKL - Where? America or Singapore?
CB - Both
TKL - But we already spent $95 billion on our circuit breaker.
CB - Sorry to say, boss. The money is wasted. It does not solve the underlying problem. So, you expect a big second wave.
TKL - But LHL already called GE2020
CB - Yeah. The PAP will report low numbers by doing fewer testing. But after GE, it will be a different story.
TKL - Another circuit breaker? Another $95 billion?
CB - Boss, you stupid or what? After GE, you think the PAP will be so generous? I think they will raise GST to 9%, or higher, quite soon.
TKL - Alamak. This is serious! What about America? Another $3 trillion?
CB - Boss, they got no more money.
TKL - After the unemployment benefit run out in July, and another lockdown, there will be trouble.
CB - Boss, you can expect riots and looting again. More serious than George Floyd riots.
TKL - Wah, really serious.
CB - Yeah. That's why I tell you to sell all your shares!
Hello, you think the CB is a scare monger or not?

Many manpower ministers - no solution

Many ministers were appointed to be in charge of the manpower ministry over the past four decades - Lee Boon Yang, Ng Eng Hen, Gan Kim Yong, Lim Swee Say, Tan Chuan Jin and Josephine Teo. They were not able to solve the problem of finding jobs for our local professionals, managers, executives and technical (PMETs). They do not understand the root of the problem. They continued to applied the same approach - which failed for the past decades. As our cost of doing business continued to escalate over the years, many manufacturing and service businesses went offshore. Those that remain needed to have low cost labor to continue their operations. The PMETs bore the brunt of this structural change. They lost their jobs and had to take low paying jobs to continue their livelihoods. They became taxi drivers and "business and marketing consultants". They engaged in new business ventures. Many of the new ventures did not succeed. The displaced PMETs accepted their fate. They were fortunate to be cushioned off by the rising values of their HDB flats and private properties. They were able to cope financially, in spite of a drastic drop in income. The financial cushion will not be available for the next generation of PMETs and also the new graduates who will find it difficult to get low paying jobs. All this while, the structural problems were not solved by the many changes in manpower ministers. Maybe, the government was blinded by the revenue of $4 billion to $5 billion a year that is collected on foreign worker levies. It was a good source of income. Sadly, pay-back time had arrived. The spread of covid infections in the foreign worker dormitories caused the government to call for a circuit breaker to deal with the problem. A total of $95 billion was spent during three months to deal with this problem. It probably took away 20 years of the foreign worker levies. The revenue that was earned from the foreign worker strategy was totally spent. We are still left with the problem of displaced PMETs and growing numbers of new graduates who cannot get enough jobs. The future is bleak for the local workers.

Managing the foreign workforce

The ministry of manpower has to manage the local and foreign workforce to meet the goals of ensuring that locals have jobs and that the business has access to the foreign workforce to meet their needs (where the locals are not available). They tried different methods in the past years and have not found a good solution. They tried the "Fair employment Framework" which requires the employer to look for locals first, before asking for approval from MOM to employ foreign workers. They created two portals for the employers to look for locals. Both portals do not appear to provide the solution. I like to suggest a new approach to achieve these two goals. a) MOM should provide in its portal, the types of job, the required qualifications and the minimum salary. b) Interested local and foreign workers can submit their interest in this portal. They have to provide evidence that they have the suitable qualifications. MOM should be satisfied that the qualifications are genuine. The workers can pay the employment agents to make the submission. c) The employer can view the available workers in the portal and invite them for an interview and hire the suitable workers. d) The employer has to pay a levy to recruit a foreign worker. This system can continue. It should be extended to cover employment pass holders as well. e) The govt can provide a wage subsidy to the employer to employ a local worker. It can be 20% to 30% of the wages for one year. This will cover the employer CPF contribution. The above measures will give the employers a financial incentive to employ local workers. There is still the risk that the foreign worker may be willing to accept a lower salary than specified or allow the employer to recoup the levy from the wages. This risk can be managed separately, if it is serious. However, this risk is not likely to be serious, as the employers have the financial incentive to employ locals. The new approach also reduces the incidence of false declaration on qualification and experience, as the checking will be done by MOM or its appointed agency. I hope that the above approach will make an impact and give better job opportunities for locals, and still allow access to a foreign workforce to supplement the local supply.​​​​​​​

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. What do you expect will be the result of GE2020?
2. What outcome do you prefer for GE2020?
3. Should the circuit breaker be continued in July?

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WOTC - Early general election

Wisdom of the Crowd: 61% of the respondents expected the people to call for a general election, but mostly for a selfish and bad reason.

WOTC - Should the circuit breaker be relaxed in June?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 55% of the respondents said that it was not safe to relax the circuit breaker completely in June.

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