Saturday, September 03, 2016

Change to constitution led to unintended consequences

Aung San Suu Kyi's party won a landslide victory in the general election in Myanmar late last year. She could be be the President as the constitution was specially drafted to stop her from taking this office. Her party had to elect Htin Kyaw to hold this office although the real power lies with "the Lady" as she is commonly called.

A change to the constitution requires a 75% majority. The military leaders hold the 25% votes that can block a change to the constitution.

There was a provision in the constituiton to allow the government to create an agency "to facilitate the efficient governance of the country. A simple majority of Parliament is required to create this agency.

The ruling party passed a law to create the office of the State Counseller. A lot of power was given to this office. This office holds more power than the President. Parliament appointed "the Lady" to be the State Counseller.

Here is the irony. The miliary ruler wanted to stop "the Lady" from being the President of the country. She is now the State Counseller and actually holds more real power than the President.

This is an example of unintended consequences. Dictators in power wanted to make the rules that will perpetuate their power against the will of the people. Usually, their schemes backfired.

Can you think of a similar situation in Singapore? Do we have a change in the constitution that also boomeranged and produced serious unintended consequences?

Helping Singaporeans to find jobs

The government sponsored Jobs Bank is not helping Singaporeans to find jobs. The process of matching applicants with available jobs is not working well. Most job seekers and employers have given up on this portal.

I have developed a new Jobs Portal to overcome this problem. It uses a different approach in matching job seekers with employers. It removes the tedious tasks of reading pages of resumes that do not contain the relevant information.

The new approach is - indicate the type of job that you want to do and your expected salary. You will get an email showing the jobs that matches your criteria. You can view the jobs and indicate if you wish to apply for the job.

The employer can view the applicants and shortlist the job seekers, based on the basic information that is provided. This reduces the work for the HR executives in screening the resumes. An email is sent to the shortlisted employees. The shortlisted employees can send their detailed resume to the employer by email (outside of this portal).

A prototype of this website is now available for job seekers and employers to get the user experience. This website contains simulated data of job seekers and employers (with simulated jobs). This makes the portal look like real. And the job seekers and employers get immediate response?

Watch this video to understand how to use the portal.

Be careful about the English language

PM Najib of Malaysia said:

"I am only a servant of God who has weaknesses too, and plenty of knowledge that I still need to learn," he said. -

Initially, I thought that he said God has some weakness. This is the problem with the English language. One has to be careful.

It is better for him to say,
"I am only a servant of God. I have weaknesses too, and plenty of knowledge that I still need to learn," he said. -

See more at:…/najib-some-situations-are-be…/123…

Energy saving LED lights

A friend gave me some insight into energy saving LED lights. This new technology gave the same brightness as the normal light but uses a fraction of the energy.

The government of the UK and Europe subsidized the replacement of the ordinary lights with the LED lights. In one country, they went to all the eligible households to replace the lights with the new LED lights, at the cost to the state.  In other countries, the cost of the LED lights were made affordable due to heavy subsidy from the government.

In recent years, the cost of LED lights had dropped significantly, due to high demand and economy of scale in production.

I did not recall a similar initiative from the Singapore government. It is time for the Singapore government to encourage households to switch to the LED lights.

How to be really helpful

I read this story in the Readers' Digest magazine 20 years ago.

The husband passed away suddenly. The young widow had a difficult time dealing with the unexpected situation. She had to make arrangements for the funeral and receive many friends offering their condolences. She also had to take care of the young children.

A neighbor, whom she did not know well, came over with a box containing shoe polish and brush. He sat down quietly at the door and spent a few hours polishing all the shoes that were left at the front door. On completing his task, he briefly offered his condolences to the widow and left.

The widow was moved by his thoughtfulness. He knew how he could be really helpful. At the funeral, all the shoes were polished and shined. In the hussle and bussle, who would have thought about looking smart at the funeral?

The neighbor did not ask the widow how he could help. He knew how to be really useful. He did not interrupt the widow who was busy taking care of many other matters.

I often had people interrupting me when I was extremely busy asking for an answer to an unimportant issue. They could have found the answer on their own, by exercise initiative. Instead, they expect answer from me "out of the blue". They did not realize that I had to spend time to understand the issue before giving my answer. And my answer would probably be worse that the answer that they could have got on their own.

We need people to exercise initiative, and not wait for instruction all the time.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Promoted to aristocracy

Joe visited a hunting farm each year. There was a dog called "Salesman". He was very hardworking. When Joe shot a bird, Salesman would search high and low and bring back the fallen bird to Joe.

 One year, Joe visited the farm but Salesman was nowhere to be found. He asked the farm owner what happened to Salesman.

The owner said, "A few months back, one of the hunters decided to call him "Sales Manager". Now the stupid dog refused to search for the birds. All day, he sat on his haunches and bark.

That story reminded me of what happened to our ministers in Singapore. Previously, they were hard working. Then the prime minister decided to call them "natural aristocrats". Since then, they stayed in their ivory tower all day and refused to mix with the "lesser mortals".

Buses with faulty tracking devices

I took a bus and changed to bus 162. The mobile app showed that Bus 162 would arrive in 15 and 30 mins. As there was nobody waiting for this bus at the bus stop, I thought that the earlier bus had just left.

To my surprise, bus 162 arrived within two minutes. This is the "ghost bus" with a faulty tracking device.

It reminded me, again, that the Land Transport Authority did not bother to check that the buses have tracking devices that are in working order.

I have given this feedback countless times, but nobody cares. Even the "super" transport minister does not care. I have lost my respect for him. I will now refer to him as the "substandard" transport minister. We hardly see him or hear from him any more.

Why spend tens of million of dollars on a tracking system which is now not reliable? It just take a little effort and attention to get it in working order.

Be responsive to public feedback

During the past decades, the government reply on letters to the newspapers for feedback from the public. They paid attention to the published letters and follow up with a reply. It reflected a government that is responsible to the feedback from the public and is working hard in the interest of improving lives for the people.

Much has changed in recent years. There is a proliferation of other channels for the public to give their feedback, especially in the social media.

The government agencies now often ignore letters published in the newspapers and the social media. Perhaps, they find it difficult to cope with the rapid growth in the channels for public feedback.

There is an opportunity for the government agencies to use this growth to its advantage. They are able to tap into the feedbacks to identify the problems that need to be corrected, to implement what can be done, and to be recognized and appreciated for responding to the feedback.

Here is how it can be done.
a) Appoint people to monitor the feedback in the social media
b) Give a reply in the social media to ask the person to call a specific person at a specific hotline
c) Take down the details of the feedback
d) Pass the feedback to a senior person who is authorised to act.
e) Give a reply to the person concerned.

This will give the impression of a government that is responsible to public feedback and is working hard to improve the lives of the people.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Air con systems

I installed a split aircon system in an apartment (2 blowers, 1 condenser) for $2,200. The air con price is about $1,600 and the installation is $600.

When I was in Johor, I asked a shop about the price, just for comparison. The shop quoted a similar price for a similar system. They recommended 2 separate systems, each comprising of a blower and condenser for $350 X 2 = $700.

I was surprised that 2 separate condenser cost less than 1 combined condenser. Maybe the price is lower because more units are sold for the single system?

I was not offered this option by the contractor in Singapore. They seemed to jack up the price as much as they could. Is this a bad business practice in Singapore?

Expert on investment scams

Over the past ten years, many people have approached me for help on their investments. They were caught with bad investments. They invested a large sum of money and could not get it back. In many cases, they were investment scams - land banking, gold bars, trees and similar types of investments. In other cases, they were life insurance savings policies sold, or rather mis-sold, by marketing officers located at the banks.

By helping these investors, I get to know about the different types of scams and the situations that cause ordinary people to fall into the trap. There investors were not dumb people. Many of them were cautious and knowledgeable. But they did fall into the trap. It is easy to be deluded by some special circumstances.

In most cases, these investors could not get their money back. I will share the real live stories of these investors (but I cannot disclose their real names). Many of these investors could not get their money back, but you can learn from their experience to avoid falling into a similar trap.

By helping these people, I was able to become an expert on investment scams. I get to know how the investment scams operate, and how investors, including the well educated ones, were caught.

You can register for this talk on 10 September.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Short videos on financial planning and insurance

You can now register with Google or Facebook and watch the short videos on financial planning and insurance, relevant to young people in Singapore.

Be aware of investment scams

It is easy for an unwary consumer to fall for an investment scam or a mis-sold investment, even from a bank. This can cost the consumer several tens of thousand dollars.

To avoid this risk, you can attend this seminar on 10 September.

Trial of self driving car in Singapore

I am willing to test this self driving car. Are you?

World's first self-driving taxis go on trial in Singapore

The world's first ever self-driving taxis have gone on public trial in Singapore. Starting 25 August, some selected Singapore residents have been invited to use a ride-hailing smartphone app to book a no-cost ride in a self-driving car which will be either a Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle, both of which have been specially configured for autonomous driving.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Disappointing experience with Jobs Bank

The Ministry of Manpower set up the Jobs Bank a few years ago to help locals find jobs. Employers are required to post their jobs in the Jobs Bank for locals to apply. If they could not find locals, the employers can submit applications for work passes to engage foreign workers.

Many employers and local workers were disappointed with the Jobs Bank. It is not effective in achieving its goal.

My personal experience has been disappointing. Over the past few years, I have posted several jobs and did not get any suitable candidates. Initially, a few people applied but they were not serious and were not suitable. In recent years, I did not receive any application. Maybe the job seekers were also disappointed that the process is not working well.

Most of my postings were for software developers. Perhaps Singaporeans do not like this type of work. But I have also posted a request for administrative staff. It did not get any response also.

The current work flow is clearly not working. Perhaps, the Ministry of Manpower should re-look at the process and revamp the system.

Good work by the governor of Jakarta

On reaching Jakarta city from the airport, I passed a large river. It was clean.

What a big contrast compared to the situation five years ago. At that time, the river was dirty.

The cleaning of the river occurred when Jokowi was the governor and Ahok was the vice governor.

It is a clear demonstration of the achievement of people who walk the ground.

It reminded me of the work done by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew when he was the prime minister of Singapore. He walked the ground, saw what needed to be done and gave orders for the work to be done.

It is time for the present government of Singapore to follow on the foot steps of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. There are many issues in Singapore that needed their attention.

Price control on seven commodities

The Indonesian government is setting the minimum and maximum prices on seven commodities, namely meat, soybean, rice, sugar, red chili and shallot (onion).

Is it a good idea for the government to set prices to "stabilize the market"?

Price controls is generally good to protect consumers. If the prices are adjusted according to world market prices, this mechanism is good for both traders and consumers. It prevents exploitation of consumers who may not be aware about the fair prices of the products.

If there is a shortage of the commodity, the traders may withdraw the stock from the market waiting for the price to increase. This is a disadvantage of the price control mechanism. The negative impact can be minimized by adjusting the prices quickly according to the market condition.

An alternative approach to price controls is for the government to published the market prices as a benchmark to be used by consumers. The traders are likely to follow the published benchmarks.

Grab Taxi waive booking fee during off peak period

At long last, Grab Taxi is now offering no booking fee during weekdays, off peak period.

Why queue for a taxi when you don't have to? From 29 Aug - 9 Sep 2016, we are waiving booking fees for weekday Standard Taxi rides between 10am - 5pm. Enjoy door-to-door, on-demand taxi rides today at no extra charge with the promo code below:

Promo code: NOBKFEE

Can you trust a bank?

Several people have lost tens of thousand dollars in a place that should be very safe - at the bank. They went into the bank to place a fixed deposit. The relationship manager introduced a financial product that offered a higher interest rate. The customer put in a large amount into a 5 years investment plan. They end up losing all of the invested amount.

Where is the catch?

Attend this talk to find out.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Don't be caught in an investment scam

If you are caught in an investment scam, you can lost a few ten thousand dollars.
You can avoid it.
Register now to attend this talk on 10 September.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Over-supply of new lawyers

We now have another problem - oversupply of lawyers.

I hope that the review panel will look into the root of the problem and come out with an innovative solution. We actually need more lawyers in Singpaore, judging by the long time taken for cases to be resolved.

However, the current practice makes it difficult for the pool of lawyers to be used efficiently.

Videos on Financial Planning & Insurance

Mr Tan
I like your video #2 on Financial Planning.
When are you putting up your next video and what is the topic?

The next videos will be
#3 - How to invest your savings and earn 5% return
#4 - What are good life insurance policies to buy
#5 - Should I buy a critical illness policy?

They will be put up over the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, you can look at the following
#1 - Introductory video
#2 - Financial Planning

Blog Archive