Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Broken Communications.

In our shared experiences, all of us have experienced the absurdness of bureaucracy. There is no doubt that processes are important, and bureaucracy is required to manage a large body of employees, however, forward thinking businesses have already changed their organizational behavior and adopted flatter models to promote innovation and manage change. With advancements of technology, many people expect speed and good user experience; however, even when large organizations that still run on layers of bureaucracy implement the use of new technologies, the implementation is usually far from ideal. Users can continually give feedback, but change never seems to adapt fast enough to user needs. One of the main reasons is due to broken communications.

Many people feel that poor communications in large organizations is unavoidable. They blame it on corporate culture. Many people think that poor communications is a mere inconvenience when they experience the bureaucracy, however, there could be a big waste of resources and other more disastrous consequences.

In 2017, a package of 105 botanical specimens of Australian plants owned by the Jardin des Plantes – and gathered by a French botanist more than 200 years earlier – had been destroyed by the Australian biosecurity officers at the Department of Agriculture.

The specimens were both priceless and irreplaceable, two or three of the specimens might have been species that were unidentified and new to science. While Australian communicated with template bureaucratic statements of regret, it's hard to get information on the chain of events that led to the destruction to learn from the disaster.

Sometimes when shipments are sent without the proper paperwork due to mistakes, when they don’t let it into the country, they just ship it back to the person who sent it. However, it was Australia, with its infamously bureaucratic customs regulations that managed to destroy such significant artefacts more than once.

Today, there is a ban that includes not only botanical specimens, but those from across the museum's vast holdings in areas such as mineralogy, geology, palaeontology and comparative anatomy. Several other museums and organizations also ban sending specimens to Australia.

In many absurd cases which occur, few problems surface to the top and the lessons are never learnt. Even when the problem is common, upper management may not even be aware of its existence. The following are collected stories of dysfunctional organizations and poor communications in which fictional characters are used to describe the encounter to entertain and educate.

Power Substation

Mr De Sina, is a well-known architect who designed many iconic buildings. As he was submitting new designs for a few projects, he realized that some of the guidelines have changed, due to the new head at Building Control.

There are a few projects he had started and he took on several smaller projects, altogether a total of 15 projects to be submitted within a 3 month period. As he was working on the first project to submit, he realized that it was not possible to comply to the guidelines. According to the Code of Practice on Buildability by Building Control Authority, for precast staircase of the power substation, the riser height is 150mm or 175mm & tread width of 275mm or 300mm. However, according to the Fire Safety Bureau, the staircase must be 5m high. According to both the guidelines, it is impossible to fulfil both requests. 150mm or 175mm riser height can never add up to 5m in height.

So Mr De Sina decided to visit the departments to share with them the rule he had to comply, that was conflicting with the other government department. When he approached the Fire Safety Bureau, they informed him that the safety guidelines cannot be negotiated. When he approached Building Control Authority, they informed him that the staircase riser height is to prevent errand contractors to build substandard stairs which will pose a danger to the users.

In both cases, Mr De Sina informed them that the staircase was only for maintenance, and not for everyday use, and relaxing the rules by a few mm would solve the problem, but both departments gave the same answer. “We cannot accede to all the requests that you have. There is a rule, and you need to comply. We cannot show any form for favoritism towards you, even when you have 15 similar projects. If you would like to have a special request, or somehow you cannot comply, you can always submit a request for a waiver.”

According a Minister, the government often seeks to innovate and make life easier for the public. That was why a Municipal Services Office was set up to have a central place to report incidents. Mr De Sina decided to meet the Minister to inform him about the 15 waivers on 15 projects he needed to apply and pay for. The Minister wrote letters to the departments for Mr De Siva.

The next day, Mr De Siva received phone calls from a director in the Building Control Authority. There was a long chat however, the director still persisted that the processes still needed to be followed, and 15 waivers needed to be applied for the 15 projects. In the afternoon, the Fire Safety Bureau also called to inform him the same thing.

Mr De Siva visited the Minister again to inform him that nothing has changed, and the Minister said, “I’m sorry that you encounter such inconvenience. However, I cannot force the different departments to do anything, and they still have to act independently and exercise discretion.”

Mr De Siva was disappointed and could not even apply the 15 waivers at once, and had to do so, one by one, and paid for 15 waivers, and had to have 15 separate meetings to review the waivers to get them approved. He encountered no resistance to reject his waiver, and everything had to go by the book.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Endorsing Milo

It seems that the President is endorsing Milo, and it is true. Because there is a new version in Singapore that does not add sugar.

Like before, Singapore Health Promotion board have given companies that pay it a "Healthier Choice" logo. Milo is delicious, but is nowhere healthy.

Even without added sugar, it contains sugar from the Malt and Milk.

Its like going to a Coffee Shop and order Milo, and they add Milo and Condensed milk. No added sugar, but is still diabetes causing(ly) sweet.

It seems like PAP politicians like to act like celebrities endorsing products. Sadly, Milo, owned by Nestle, a Swiss company which collects millions of gallons a year from springs and selling water is already causing controversy in California, promoting some sugary drink as "healthy" because there is "no sugar added" is simply irresponsible.

For years now, Ministers have been endorsing companies which have not much merits, but the fact that they are willing to pay for an award given by a ministers at an event.

It is often seen that drinks like Naked Juice that use statements like “no sugar added” and “only the best ingredients” lead customers to believe that the juice is healthier than it really is — one of its drinks has more sugar than a can of Pepsi.

I have no doubt that Milo in the new current form is  no where healthy, so don't start allowing your kids to drink this at a young age.

If this applies to juice, I would say it would apply to Milo.

Just remember that quantity is even more important than quality when it comes to letting your kids have fruit juice — the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:
Birth to 6 months. No fruit juice unless it's used to relieve constipation

  • 6 to 12 months. If juice is given, limit it to 4 to 6 ounces (118 to 177 milliliters) and serve it in a cup (not a bottle) to avoid tooth decay 
  • 1 to 6 years. Up to 6 ounces (177 milliliters) a day (that’s the size of two small Dixie cups) 
  • 7 years and older. Up to 12 ounces (355 milliliters) a day

-- Iron Bowl

Monday, June 18, 2018

Prediction for 2018/2019 #Singapore

Here are my predictions after the Malaysia General Elections.

I am sure some of the people in parliament start to feel a chill down their spine... Perhaps it is the aircon set at 20 degrees and they have a breeze blowing on their necks.

Well, I expect some changes to happen especially when their tone is completely changed before and after elections.

1) Expect more goodies - GST Angpow, Senior Citizen Packages and what not. Be clear that in 2019 and 2020, there will be more money given out to buy votes  trust.

2) 9% GST will be open for "discussion". The stance before the Malaysia election was that 9% is critical for growth, and test balloons were floated. When the opposition won in Malaysia, and the GST is getting abolished, the government would definitely reconsider their hard stance, may even delay it further until they win the next election.

3) When they placed a 100% tax on Motorcycles above $10k, no one took any action. The poor and marginalized are used to getting stepped on. And most of them don't know the effect on them, and did not want to think.

Then NEA gave a BS reason and banned bikes registered before July 2003. And when many of the motorcyclists who cannot afford new bikes found that their motorcycle are getting banned, there was much unhappiness. And a few groups sent petitions and wrote in to the papers to show displeasure.

I feel that banning the motorcycles by year is an unjust move, and motorcycles were already subjected to yearly vehicle tests, and with the current COE system, polluting vehicles and poorly maintained vehicles would not be on the roads anyway.

Thus, I feel that this motorcycle ban will be lifted by next year.

4) Carpark charges for teachers

The carpark charges for teachers is very unjust and stupid. Teachers put in extra effort and work late without claiming overtime, and they are charged parking. I expect some form of equitable sum to be paid to the teachers who drive and this may not be obvious to others as the government never admits mistakes or immoral decisions but to buy back the votes from teachers, there will be some agreements made.

As always, I don't expect the government to take any accountability for their decisions and actions, and would not backtrack because they are wrong, but because they are unpopular, I expect that some other reasons or made-up word be used to reverse decisions to make them look good.

-- Iron Bowl

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

S$20M Spent on Trump-Kim meeting

So what exactly happened?

From the perspective of a Singaporean in Singapore, being a gracious host to a peace event is something that we can be proud of. But what exactly happened?

In the past few days, there was more Google search for the country Singapore. This is a good thing as no doubt, many Americans will now know that Singapore is not part of China.

Educating Americans about the location of Singapore is rather hard and tricky. And even after spending the $20M, the US State department thinks that Singapore is part of Malaysia... This may be true say... 53 years ago.


The traffic during the event is horrible. When Kim Jong Un arrived, the traffic simply stopped. There was a lot of construction at Paya Lebar and not much communications, so when the traffic just stopped for security, it was utter chaos. It took me 1 hour to get from Paya Lebar to Toa Payoh on a motorcycle, a trip that would take 20 minutes during peak hour.

During the meeting on June 12, River Valley Road and Zion Road area was again blocked. Along with the road works in the area and lack of communications, everything did not move. It took me 1.5 hours to get out of the area as nothing moved. Nope, not even alternative routes worked.

Dennis Rodman

How can you not have Trump-Kim meeting with Dennis Rodman? The 5 time NBA champion is the master negotiator and there will be no agreement without him. He is probably the best defensive player there is, and yes, he is here in Singapore preventing a nuclear war!

St Regis, Shangri-La and Capella hotels

These hotels are the real big winners. They have a global audience for their brand. With the presidents staying there, they can add another list of celebrity staying in the hotel.

Kim Jong Un Toilet.

I don't think anyone believes in circular economy and zero waste as much as this man. Like a true green warrior, he brings his waste back for recycling. I'm sure the world would be a better place with him around, and for sure, the people he murdered are not wasted and definitely used for fertilizers for the plants in North Korea. #Organic

The Handshake.

So, Trump did not do the pull and squeeze on Kim Jong Un. The handshake was rather civil and the meeting seemed to be going on smoothly. Trump was rather "presidential" in his demeanor.

So what exactly happened?

1) The US and South Korea embargo on North Korea is still on. Nothing changed.
2) There is an agreement on paper that North Korea is starting the denuclearization process. It is the beginning of a trilateral negotiation involving US, South Korea and North Korea, to create a durable system of denuclearization and economic exchange.
3) Liberal media is still mocking Trump.
4) Foreigners who protested in Singapore get arrested. (Singapore is a protest free country)
5) Kim Jong Un gains legitimacy and prestige as part of the negotiation.
6) Trump gains the ability to brag that he has finally done something -- a start of a road to denuclearization of North Korea.
7) Singapore seemed right at home with the dictators, as freedom of expression is also highly curbed in Singapore. Human rights also pretty limited.

In short, the Trump-Kim meeting is to draft a Letter of Intent. With nothing gained by Kim Jong Un (Embargo is still on) and not much restrictions on nuclear weapons to start. There may be some agreement of releasing prisoners of war which may or may not happen.

So as a whole, the S$20M is spent to draft out an agreement.

Thank you Singapore for sponsoring such an International event. Like the Youth Olympics games, it has shown time and again that Singapore can be placed on the spotlight on international media when it decides to spend the money.

-- Iron Bowl.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

If vehicles are to be banned for pollution, shouldn't all vehicles be tested and those who fail emissions standard banned?

Since around July 2015, the motorcycle COE prices has been around $6,000, as a result, many poorly maintained motorcycle would be scrapped and off the roads after 10 years.

Many of the smaller bikes with high mileage would be scrapped off due to the high COE. Owners knowing that they will scrap their motorcycles as they will not renew may spend money on maintenance on their motorcycle as they know it will be scrapped, which can result in more pollution.

I own a BMW 1999 K1200LT is a fuel injection motorcycle which gets me 20km/l and it has a closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, compliant with EU3 emission standard, which I meticulously maintain as I occasionally travel to Malaysia and need to make sure it is road worthy.

Even though the motorcycle is almost 20 years old, it runs like new and it has less than 60,000 km on it. I usually ride it on nights and weekends. Like me, there are many big bike owners use their bikes for touring and most of them have relatively low mileage on them. The owners would own other vehicles or take the bus for daily transportation needs. How can we be considered to pollute if we don’t use it much?

The incentive seems to benefit people for something which they are already doing -- not renewing their COE, and for the underused well maintained motorcycles, the ban is a death sentence for our beloved underused motorcycles.

I feel that motorcyclists are targeted with this measure, and yet 15 year or older vehicles are exempted. Even when my seldom used fuel injected motorcycle pollute less, it is subjected to a ban while some od vehicles are allowed to be on the roads every day.

I don't understand why a blanket ban by NEA is needed, when clearly LTA does inspections on the motorcycles yearly to ensure we do not pollute, and if any vehicles, that cannot meet the standards, should they all be banned if NEA truly wants to control pollution and not just target motorcyclists?

If the vehicles are to be banned, shouldn't it be done by LTA. The arbitrary ban a specific group of vehicles because of the age of the vehicle seems rather discriminatory, just like the recent tax hike on motorcycles which did not reduce COE prices, and just cause motorcycle prices to increase, while luxury car drivers who own supercars are not affected. 

-- Ironbowl

My 1999 K1200LT is compliant with EU3 Emissions Standard.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Competitive Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go, a kids game is played by many old people in Singapore.

Like many things in Singapore, you get lots of players who seem to be playing the game to "WIN" whatever that is.

There are also many tips and tricks that everyone use.

Granted that there are some professional players who have lost their jobs and now carry multiple phones to catch Pokemons and sell their accounts, however, many of the players are simply too competitive, and they will constantly bring down gyms and hog them.

There are the usual suspects. Getting into multiple gyms with their multiple accounts, then defending them past 8 hours till no end. Leaving many others no chance to put their pokemons in the gyms.

There are also many other players who hack their GPS on their phones just to "fly" around to get Pokemons. That does not really bother me that much, but when you fight down a gym, these people come and fill up the gyms with their pokemons quickly.

It is ridiculous that even the gyms inside Bukit Brown are active at night. Perhaps, they can receive 4G LTE and people burn them cellphones...

Behaviors that pisses me off:

1) Please be gracious. If you are in a 2 gyms, and have stayed for more than 4 hours in each, please allow others to come in.

2) "Shaving" -- This is ridiculuous. When I have taken over a gym, spending time and hardwork to defeat a gym, I don't think anyone should come and "Shave" me off, minutes after I've put my pokemon inside. However, this is very common in neighbourhood areas in Singapore. Many aunties and uncles have multiple accounts and will shave you before you off can even a single coin in the gym. They will use their kids account from the other teams, and take out the first pokemon, then insert their own.

3) "Flying in to insert yourself into a gym." Yes, I know you spoof your GPS and can fly to anywhere to catch a pokemon, however, it is ridiculous that in the middle of MacRitchie Reservoir, someone can come and fill up a gym within seconds after the gym has been defeated. Most of the time, "No one is there" just a fly by to drop some pokemons. "REALLY REALLY ANNOYING" Please, if there are people who win the gym in some remote area, please give them a minute before the "airforce" slot in. I've had the app hang, and not able to put in anyone on several occasions.

There are many legit ways of playing the game, simply make friends, walk and enjoy the game. Don't spoil the fun for others with your unsocial behavior. Its just a game.

-- Ironbowl

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Some religious followers are impatient and have are not civic minded.

It is a New Years Tradition to go to the temple during Chinese New Year, and as I live relatively close to one, I could walk to the temple with my mom and she can go there and pray.

The temple is usually crowded and it is never a surprise that during weekends and holidays, many people in this densely populated country lose their civility.

While the temple and part of its grounds are tranquil and nice, where there is a crowd, there is always chaos. I've witnessed today that everyone seems to want to drive directly to the temple with limited parking space, and everyone is impatient.

When older passengers are getting out of their cars slowly, the driver seemed to want to park in a position where they block as many other cars as possible, and the car behind could not seem to wait a minute for the senior passenger to get out, and horns start blaring.

In the temple, some of the religious people seem to have a large amount of incense, and light it on fire and walking around the large crowd creating a huge cloud of smoke behind them. (The usual amount is about 15 sticks of incense, one for each urn) I've witnessed several people with more than 50 sticks and some even with 100 sticks of incense.

Like the 7th month. Burning more incense does not make your wishes come true more! When you burn more paper, it does not give you "BETTER LUCK" Please, there is a reasonable amount and many of you are OVERDOING IT!

Sadly, when there are crowds, there is also a lot of impatience and shoving. Its worse with children, elderly in an overcrowded temple with people carrying incense. Trust me, getting burnt with an incense is not fun.

I took a bus to the bus interchange and it was surprising to see more beggars out in Toa Payoh HDB Hub, more than usual, and I heard some of the people I've met in the temple say that many of these beggars were FAKE, and they own a 5 room flat, rented out and is begging for more money during the new year and can earn more than $100 a day. And I saw more people selling tissue paper again, and the going rate during Chinese New Year is 3 for $2, instead of 3 for $1.

When I go to the coffee shops, the price of Ice Milo is $2, from $1.50... Yup, Chinese New Year Surcharge. It is sad as it is also unclear that any of these surcharge actually benefit the employees and not the bosses.

Yup, and I've seen many people parking and leaving their vehicles causing jams outside temples. This is a common occurrence near the churches by my HDB flat in Toa Payoh as well, as many of them seem to park at handicapped lots, with no handicapped person, but some of the vehicles have the handicapped tags. Morally handicapped perhaps?

Please be civil, keep your cool and have a Happy Chinese New Year!

-- Ironbowl

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Smart Nation Cheap Labor Low Productivity.

I was talking to a friend about his situation and went to a job fair in Toa Payoh with him. He is in his 40's and had been laid off from work 4 times, each time taking longer to find a job. He is an engineering graduate from NTU and worked for several MNCs which have ceased production in Singapore and was retrenched. In between jobs, he drove a Taxi, taught tuition and even had various part time jobs to do stock taking.

He has not worked full time for almost 2 years and when we went to the job fair, it seems like all the jobs offered were blue collared jobs, like cooks, security guards and other hotel staff. It was quite disappointing, but speaking to some e2i people at the fair, they said that there are different fairs for different people, and this particular fair is for the unemployed uncles and aunties to join restaurants.

I talked to him about his situation and how his job application online is progressing. It seemed particularly bad as many new jobs seemed to be interested in younger people. When you are above 40 years old, jobs like "social media manager" which seemed to be quote common, never responded to him.

It seems like the job market is rather tough in Singapore. SMU, a university that boasts high paying jobs after graduation has uber driver graduates.

I still believe that there are a lot of cheap labor and displaced people in Singapore. There are a lot of talks about productivity, but I feel things are getting worse.

With all the PIC grants the government has dished out, how much productivity and use of tech is increased? When I see the ALL OF THE old automatic car wash at gas stations become "MANUAL" car wash with the use of plentiful Indian workers, it saddens me that we seemed to have gone backwards.

I've owned a construction company before and done some property development, and when I sub-con out some work to BIG construction companies, I seldom see mechanical tools. Most of the time to demolish a building, hordes of Chinese workers will wield sledge hammers and smash the walls. To remove tiles, they will just smash everything.

It is fascinating to see the use of diesel powered generators for events in town. Even at Marina Bay, Orchard Road, most outdoor events are still powered by diesel when solar systems with Lithium batteries are much more portable and "fumes free"

For logistics, delivery and transportation, most of the work is done with one staff -- the driver who is also the delivery guy, and without much trolley or other tools to help him move the goods. The loading and unloading bays are usually poorly designed, (because they did not spend $880k like the rubbish chute the government built) and the vans and trucks will jam up the area or the roads near by. Otherwise, they would also have to pay expensive parking to park far away and carry the heavy goods over a long distance.

For a Smart Nation, it seems that not all websites are 24 hours, and they are often shutdown for maintenance when you have time after work to use the sites. When I want to use the various smart payment methods, it seems to be unavailable or out of service (Or staff is untrained to use it)

With the current party still in power, it seems that their push to support more MNCs instead of growing local SMEs will continue and the situation will only worsen.

I guess I must send thoughts and prayers and hope that one day, Singaporeans will vote for their benefits and not for the few that rule over them.

-- Ironbowl

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Don't be that guy... Logan Paul (White Privilege?)

The stereotypical obnoxious American Tourist is clearly visible in this video. Where usually a white obnoxious tourist goes to another country to disrespect their culture, religion and people.

Travelers are ambassadors to their country whether they like it or not. Sadly through poor parenting, the rich kids / young adults who can afford to travel are creating a negative brand for their countries.

In Asia, Chinese Tourists are among the worse ambassadors for China. Many believe that since they are rich, they can do anything.

I feel this is like "White Privilege." When your race (caste, clan or whatever) control the government, you are rich, and laws in your country applies differently to you. People can be as obnoxious as they want and escape consequences. Sadly, when they go overseas, they expect the same treatment.

This is one of the reasons why many people hate the Americans, and how the China brand with Confucius and all that filial piety is making a whole world hate them when they visit.

Now Antartica, China has come to visit.