Friday, September 30, 2011

Bring back the Greenery to Singapore

I read with dismay that many of the unofficial greenery and kite flying areas have been re-designated for property development, be it commercial or residential buildings. The Garden City is fast becoming a concrete city.

I've written about the advantages of having rain gardens here in Singapore to reduce the flooding and I hope the authorities will look closer at creating such parks. At first glance, parks may seem to be non-essential but in the United States, it has been used successfully to control flood. When parks are designed to include stream networks, wetlands, and other low-lying areas, a city's green space system can provide numerous stormwater management benefits, including storing,carrying, and filtering storm runoff. American Forests estimates that the 187,767 acres of tree canopy in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region provides 949 million cubic feet in avoided storage of water, valued at $4.7 billion annually.

Isn't this much better than digging through all those concrete every year to ensure the flood waters are able to drain off? Won't building this green infrastructure be much more effective, and reduce the overall temperature of Singapore?

I seriously hope the authorities reconsider taking away all those green lungs of Singapore. In other countries, they have the option of traveling out of the city to less congested areas. We don't. I rather have more greenery than to see 6 million people in Singapore.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Control your Attitude

I quote from Charles R. Swindoll:
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Over self-confidence leads to arrogance

I was watching X-Factor the other time when one of the contestants reminded me that over self-confidence will lead to arrogance. The contestant can sing, but the problem is that the attitude and the self-confidence was way extreme. At first, people thought it was interesting but after that, it became offensive. Even though the singing was above average in my opinion, no one wanted that person to go through.

Self confidence is good, but too much of it becomes arrogance, especially when you shut out all else.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Negative real interest rate at an all time high

The Singapore banks are reducing the interest rates for deposit accounts to 0.05%, the lowest in my living memory (I'm not that old). That would translate to a negative 4.95% real interest rate assuming the inflation rate for 2011 is 5%. In layman terms, no use putting your money in the bank. It's almost equivalent to putting it under your pillow.

The only good news is that the economy is still growing. Stagflation will be a scary thought.

Inflation is up 5.7%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2011:
January: 5.5%
February: 5.0%
March: 5.0%
April: 4.5%
May: 4.5%
June: 5.2%
July: 5.4%
August: 5.7%

Transport and Housing are once again leading the pack, rising by 12.5% and 9.9% respectively year on year. The inflation was as expected, although slightly lower than the 5.8% I expected. Inflation will most probably
hold around 5.5% this month. The lower price of commodities are just not filtering down to us normal folks. Even if it filters down in November, it's going to be offset by the rise in transportation fees.

Looks like the average of 5% inflation for 2011 which I mentioned in my previous post may come true.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Anti-flash crowd has just grown bigger

Looks like Apple is now not only the party that is banning Adobe Flash, the common plugin that you see that is being used (e.g. facebook games). Microsoft has also joined in the party for the upcoming IE10. Not only that, Microsoft has banned all plugins, including Silverlight. They did emphasize however that it's only for Metro IE10. I'm not sure why is there 2 different versions of IE though within Windows 8.

What does this mean? Well, since Metro is that skin that Microsoft has been touting for Windows 8, like it or not, the browser developers definitely have to start moving towards HTML5. This change not only affects game developers, but also banks. Why banks? If you noticed, banks actually use some form of java encryption on their front-end, something which I think is fast becoming obsolete due to the 2 factor authentication that is being used nowadays to login.

Oh well, I am and still not a fan of using plugins in any browsers because I have bad experiences of plugins causing the browsers to crash. Not only that, plugins especially Adobe Flash, is the reason why browsers seem to use so much memory.

However, let's hope the non-IT folks will understand that without Flash, that may mean that you need to forgo some flash features that you have previously used. HTML5 is powerful, but not yet that powerful.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Are foreigners really the problem?

The topic of TFR (total fertility rate) has been surfaced umpteen times and the government has also explained their position of adding immigrants to Singapore's population. However, I felt everyone is missing the whole point of the complaint. The root cause I believe is not due to the foreigners immigrating to Singapore.

Why do I say that? I have many good friends who are permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners on employment passes. They are decent folks and good friends, and some I will say are more Singaporean than the ones I know. The root of the problem is that the government is importing immigrants into Singapore before Singapore is ready for them.

What/where is the evidence? Overcrowding in public transport, strong demand for housing and primary schools. All these are evidence that we're putting the cart before the horse. Singapore is not yet ready for such a huge influx of immigrants because the backend infrastructure is still not ready.

More people are granted permanent residency before taking into account if the number of flats are sufficient to absorb such a demand. Ditto for the number of educational institutes like primary schools. Public transport system is overcrowded even when our TFR has been dropping over the years. Why? Again it did not cater for the huge population growth due to the immigrants.

The problem is not with the foreigners so let's stop focusing on that. The problem is that our infrastructure is just not ready for such a huge explosive population growth. Drawing an analogy, what happens if you take a standard HDB block with about 160 households and only give them one lift for the entire block?

You'll be mad. A no brainer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I quote from John Lembo:
Every waking moments we talk to ourselves about the things we experience. Our self-talk, the thoughts we communicate to ourselves, in turn control the way we feel and act.

Whatever you're telling yourself, even in your mind, controls the way you feel and act. Think positively, and you'll be a happier person. Pre-judge yourself or allow yourself to be judged by others, will only bring about unhappiness.

Monday, September 19, 2011

No measurement of poverty levels in Singapore

Recently I was reading about poverty levels in the US when it struck me whether our government has such information on Singapore. That's when I realised that there is no such information for Singapore. The closest I can find is relative poverty which I roughly linked it to the Gini coefficient.

I find this data to be useful for every country because I believe poverty is subjective, depending on the environment you're living in. This data will tell you the affluence of the population without those big shots up there skewing the curve. This poverty level or poverty line is an absolute value and should take into account inflation and all the other costs that adds up to our living expenditure in Singapore.

With this data available, it will be easier to verify if life is indeed hard in Singapore, or we're suffering from relative poverty, which again I will link it to the Gini coefficient. Seriously, I do not believe Singapore has 0% poverty level, taking into account the number of people seeking help from their MPs on the cost of living. It's better to bring all this out in the open, and take concrete measures to address this issue and to bring this group of people above the poverty lines.

Judging from who you see collecting cardboards and cans, and what you see when you walk past underpasses and even the bottom of expressways, do you think we have 0% below the poverty level?

Friday, September 16, 2011

China is so quiet over the Euro

I find it quite interesting that China having made so much noise over the depreciation of the USD is not even making a sound on the current depreciation of the Euro. In fact, based on my personal observations, I find that China has also stopped making noises on the depreciation of the USD.

Personally, I think that China has realised that the current export model that they are using will not work in this new norm. United States and the Euro region could no longer borrow extensively to finance the type of consumption that they have been used to for the last decades. China and other export related countries, have to change. The current crisis that started back in 2008 will not end unless the world economy finds a new model that does not rely on credit or over consumption to drive the economy.

Meanwhile, it will take many years before the countries in trouble can get back on their feet without their government's support. Seriously though, I think what Iceland did to their banks save them from further pain.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Turn on the light

I quote from Sharon Salzberg:
It doesn't matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn't matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or ten thousand years -- we turn on the light and it is illuminated. Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on.

Do not be afraid of turning on the light and illuminate your life. Limitations in life is normal but what matters most is what you make the most of what you have.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not much difference in selling land through the confirmed list or reserved list

The Real Estate Developers Association of Singapore (REDAS) recently remarked that the government should stop releasing land to the confirmed list and instead use the reserved list. Seriously, the only reason that I can think of for doing that is for the property developers to maintain the current sky high property prices.

The reserved list now currently seems to only serve the purpose of allowing property developers to cherry pick sites and driving up land sale prices, resulting in overdevelopment and underdevelopment of sites. If you're looking at the sale of land through the free market concept, it does not matter if the land is sold through the confirmed list or the reserved list. Property developers will only bid for the land if they feel that they can profit in the sale of units after developing the land. If the land site is not in an ideal location, it doesn't matter if the site is in the reserved or confirmed list.

This will also allow the smaller property developer players to employ innovative methods to keep the cost of land low and yet make decent profits. This will in a way even the playing field for all developers, and keep the prices in check through competition.

In fact, my personal opinion is to sell the land through fixing the price of the units (maybe psf) and let the market innovate by requesting the developers to submit proposals for the kind of property that they will be building given this constraint. This is then true innovation at work.

I hope the government remembers the real reason why are they building so much HDB flats and releasing so much land. The citizens sure do.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stop wasting food in this period of high inflation

I find it very disappointing that in this period of high inflation and food scarcity, we still have events like making a 77 kg Rojak for the Singapore Book of Records. Don't we have better use of the food for other purposes? By supporting this kind of events, are we sending the message that we have no respect for food?

Seriously, the amount of food wastage that comes out of such events can be put to better use. Food prices are already rising across the board this year, and this kind of events doesn't help in keeping inflation down. We can unite citizens in other ways than this kind of mass wastage of food.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Change Sort Order of Files in Folders

I always have the problem where some of the folders are not able to remember my "sort" settings (e.g. Sort by Type, Sort by Date Modified, etc). Rather than editing the registry which I have detailed in the post here previously, I found another way of making the sort settings stick.

Just do the following:
  1. Open the explorer window (Windows Key + E).
  2. Navigate to the folder and sort the folder in the order which you want
  3. Hold down the CTRL key while clicking the X in the upper right corner (close the explorer window). 

That's it. The folder will remember your sort setting after the explorer window is closed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Relieved that there is no QE3

I am kinda relieved that the Feds did nothing in their most recent meeting because QE3 will not have any noticeable effect to the economy other than driving up inflation. In the US, I believe deflation is no longer a concern and in fact, inflation has been ticking up. Problem? Unemployment is not going down. QE3 will make things worst.

Personally, I feel that cutting the rates paid to banks parking their excess reserves in the Fed will help push the banks to think of ways to increase lending. The most recent rumour of driving the long term interest rates down and pushing the short term interest rates up is also one of the ways where the Feds can help to relieve the mortgage crisis for a while.

I believe the Feds should just stop at that. Driving down the unemployment rate is the job of the US government, not the Feds.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Inflation linked bonds good for Singapore

My personal opinion is the introduction of inflation linked bonds for all government bonds will be ideal for Singapore as it brings about accountability.

The government's mandate is usually to ensure the economy grows at a suitable rate. However, the GDP numbers being thrown about does not necessary show the truth about the economy growth. In fact, the economy growth may come at an expense of high inflation, without any corresponding increase in the salary growth. This kind of growth is not healthy for the citizens as life will become harder and standard of living will be inversely proportionate to the economy growth.

Inflation linked bonds in a way will remind the government that there is a price to pay for economy growth, and it is in the government's interest to balance economy and inflation growth. This will also encourage prudence in using loans to fund economy growth as there is a price to pay if inflation spikes up as a result.

Hope that the government will consider this.

Monday, September 5, 2011

To be whoever you want to be

I quote from Benjamin Button (Movie):
For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tracking load of buses through Ezlink

I always wonder why LTA never used the data collected from the Ezlink to determine the load of the buses. Yes, it may not be an accurate depiction of the load of the bus as some may not pay through ezlink but judging from what I've observed so far, it's a mighty good guess of the number of people that's on the bus.

I may not know the details of how Ezlink works but based on my background in IT, audit is very important in any financial transactions. Therefore, the amount deducted from which particular bus and location are audit logs that will be collected in the event of any dispute. Using this information, you can determine the number of people on the bus at any one time since they are suppose to tap out when they alight from the bus.

Using this data, you can actually further determine where are the bottlenecks in the bus route and if the bus is leaving on time from the bus terminal. This information is quite useful in determining if a particular route is over-congested or over-utilised at any time of the day. The data tracked from Ezlink will not lie and will validate all this "noise" that we've been highlighting all this time.

Personally, I still think that they should follow what Hong Kong is doing. All the major bus routes are serviced by double decker buses and only the lightly traveled ones are serviced by single deck small buses, unlike here. Oh well... Different definition of first class I guess.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...