Why should Singaporeans Boycott Uber, UberX or Uber Taxi?


With past couple of weeks with Uber company offering free rides under UberX or Uber Taxi, Consumers were delighted that they were able to get two free rides a day. While  the drivers for UberX and Taxis are happily earning to the max.

It brought cheers to consumers and drivers, but there are some angry passengers too. They couldn’t get a free ride after trying to get one after 45 minutes. It’s just a marketing strategy by Uber to market their services to the Singapore consumers.

Let’s get back to reality, here are a list of concern that Singaporeans should think about before using their services again.

1) Credit card information – While the credit card details are stored in the Uber data storage which might be prone by hackers

2) Global Position System (GPS) – Your traveling pattern will be known to unknown as Uber is using GPS to track where your journey starts and ends. Thus disclosing your location to unknown sources.

3) Credit card payment – The payment terminal is not located in Singapore but in United States where you might suffered exchange loss. Right now there isn’t significant different as they are still offering 25% discount on your taxi rides.

4) Unethical ways of doing business

I) Seeking customers to release details of  which taxi drivers and their contact who do not sign up with Uber. While it’s no wrong to share the good things to others, but it’s wrong to share our contact to other people without our permission. It’s the same that as a taxi driver, we do not send out passenger contact details to third parties. It’s the privacy of our rights that the contact must be kept confidential at all times.

II) Which ever taxi drivers that took up their free IPhone and their jobs, received a call from Uber that they are not allowed to use other third parties apps and are told to delete them off. Who are they to mind our business which apps taxi drivers use since they do not have any legal document that say that taxi drivers are not allowed to use other apps. This also create an anti-competition act in Singapore!

5) Most Importantly, Why we Singaporeans should boycott Uber?

While the government are not allowed to ban Uber outright due to the free trade agreement, but What I’m seeking is changing the business model of Uber and UberX which is using metered-charged system (I have previously mention in my blog).

The company comes here to earn money in Singapore without any employment benefit to Singaporeans. Yes they have Singaporean on the ground to run the promotion and signing up drivers. But once they have establish themselves in Singapore, all these job are made redundant. For your information, even their telephone operators are foreigners based overseas, using internet to contact drivers and customers. In other words, their company is nothing but an empty shell in Singapore.

While we welcome foreign companies to set-up their business in Singapore, we need to see economic growth and employment benefit for Singapore. Without any employment benefit to Singaporeans, what the use to welcome this type of company to operate in Singapore? I would rather don’t welcome them at all!

The choice is yours, nobody is stopping you from using Uber! But think again, if any company that comes to Singapore to start business without any employment benefit to Singaporeans, then there will be no job for Singaporeans in the future.

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Disappearing Act by taxi drivers angered Commuters


It’s been the long time that I had written in the blog as I had concentrate my posting in my facebook. With the recent article in the straits times, It probe me to continue writing here.

The articles: Are taxis doing a “disappearing act” just before peak-hour surcharges kick in? Or is it simply a case of demand outstripping supply? What are the ways to improve taxi availability? 

What the report said have some valid points. Commuters and Taxi Drivers have their own point of views.

On the commuters’ side, It’s a pain in the neck during these hours:
1) 7.30am to 10.30am (Monday to Friday except Public Holidays)
2) 5pm till 7.30pm (Monday to Friday except Public Holidays)
3) 9.30pm till 10.45pm (Everyday)
4) 9am till 6pm (Weekends and Holidays)

Why is it pain in the neck during this hours mention above? The only reason that I can offer is, everyone needs a taxi during these hours. Remember, there are currently only about 28,000 taxi plying the roads daily.

Assuming 5% of the population looking for a taxi at these timing, 250,000 commuters are looking for taxi. How many can the taxi take a one go? There is always a timing that the commuters are expected to wait a longer than usual before boarding a taxi, coupled with traffic conditions that taxi drivers have to navigate through.

Being a taxi driver for the last three years, it taught me lots of things and I learn from the trade. The few problems that are causing the slow turnovers in my own perspective view are the followings:

1) Uneven geographical location for taxis. Higher demand in the Housing estate going to CBD or industrial estate, resulting shortage of taxi in the estate further away from the mentioned locations. In the evening, higher demand is on the opposite, higher demand in the CBD and Industrial estate. The government had in facts trying to distribute out the prime location to different areas like IBP, CBP etc, but the taxi drivers are not benefiting is as yet. And sorry, I had been digging my brains for the past one year and I had failed to offer any solutions on this problem yet.

2) LTA had a rule or law that requires Taxi Drivers to follow the commuters instructions on which route to take or take the shortest possible route.  This rule comes about is to ensure that taxi drivers do not take a longer route in order earn the extra dollars which I fully agrees. But this rules might not be applicable during the peak hours as there are jam along the route which resulted in slower turnover of the taxis or taxi being caught in the jam. Sometime by taking a longer route which will enable the commuters reaching the destination faster and sometime cheaper (based on the commuters that commented on the route I had taken).

Due to this rule, taxi drivers are afraid to make any recommendation to their commuters for afraid that they will complain against him especially the CDG Drivers. They will just follow the instruction given. Being caught in the jam will cost the commuters to pay more while taxi drivers earning less.

To solved this problem, the rules should be amended to the following:  Taxi Drivers to follow the commuters instructions on which route to take or take the shortest possible route, suggest whichever possible route to get to the commuters’ destinations.

3) The third reason which I’m going to give might anger some taxi drivers, but I need to be fair on the commuters side too… Master your trade well and you should know where to find commuters in the shortest possible time even in the middle of the night. Take pride with what you do and offer no regrets. New Drivers, do not over depend on GPS and know your route as fast as possible.

Taxi drivers are self employed, they do want to earn the highest possible return in the shortest possible time. It’s the same in any trade, the boss would want to earn the most with the least cost and wages. Commuters, please put yourself in the taxi drivers’ shoe and you will understand why.

Lastly, public transports infrastructure needed to ramp up as fast as possible. With better public transport infrastructure, people will tend to drive less and less traffic congestion on the road which will offer the best solutions for everyone.

Creative Motor Traders In Singapore


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In the Strait Times published today in the Home section, there are two articles written on the Motor traders coming out creative ways to beat the Vehicle Loan Curb.

1) New car dealer using leasing program to lease their car instead of putting large down payment to buy them.

2) Used car traders using overtrade to ease the high down-payment.

Let us look at the first case: Leasing Program!

No doubt this will transfer the ownership to the car dealers with the following benefits:

1) Low deposit

2) No insurance / maintenance worries ( excluding no frill Leasing deals)

3) Keeping of Non Claim Discount (Insurance) for up to 5 years

4) No Vehicle Depreciation Risk

The downside of the leasing program is as follows:

1) Higher monthly payments compare to car ownership

2) Leasing program is for 5 years. Any early termination of contracts might be sued for termination of contracts

3) Maintenance/ accident repair must be done in their workshop, this is a concern for people going for no frill leasing deals. Typically, authorized dealers workshop charges higher fee which I would not go into details. Accident repair must be done in the their workshop as the car ownership is still theirs, more likely that it will cost a bomb if no insurance claim is made.

4) Higher Insurance Premium (for no frill deals), typically insurance for leasing car are higher compare to private car. On top of that no other drivers are allowed to drive that lease car unless included in the insurance policy (again this will cost a bomb in the insurance premium)

5) Mileage – depends on the deals, some deals that only allows a certain mileage to be clock in the lease vehicle, any excess of mileage will be penalised.

6) Can’t do any decoration in the leased vehicle – vehicle not owned by you.

7) At the end of the lease, some deals might need you to return the vehicle in the original conditions, thus extra cash upfront to repair to return the vehicle (check this out before you sign on the dotted line).

Basically, car leasing is not a bad deal after all, just that the leasing period which I felt is a little long, maybe one to two-year leasing period should be ideal for the drivers. Any drivers who want to lease the vehicle from the dealers must read all the fine prints carefully, questions them if in doubts before signing. Get the normal leasing deals (excluding no frill deals), although you are paying a little higher, but you do not need to worry about maintenance/ breakdown of the vehicle.

Next we look at the used car dealers using overtrade to ease the down-payment.

For every $10,000 overtrade, the buyers will come out less $6,000 down-payment. In order to close the deal, the used car dealers will try the higher possible overtrade for buyers to lower down the down-payment. Typically, the banks will inform the dealers what is the maximum loan allowed for the loan and the dealers would work backwards from that (basically all about paperwork).

The bank will not strictly follow the market value of the used car as there is no fixed price on each car (of course not for those ridicules high price), they will close one eye on that so long the paperwork are done properly. The loan will only approved if the buyer meet other MAS requirements.

In short, be it leasing or overtrade, with the expected increase in COE quota in the next coming one to two years, financial prudent is the most important thing to consider before signing on the dotted line. If you had existing car, hold onto it till the COE drops before deciding your next course of actions.

My View on Latest Curb on Property Loan


With the latest curb in the property loans, the MAS has said it’s not measure to cool soaring prices. It’s said the rules will help strengthen credit underwriting practices of financial institutions and encourage financial prudence among borrowers. More information: Read ChannelNewsAsia.

Let us take a look at what it means:

1) Total debts obligations must not exceed 60% or his gross monthly income: This rules applies to properties only. .

2) Borrower need to declared as the owner of the property. This changes are to prevent borrowers from getting round tougher limits for second and subsequent housing loans.

The two main concern listed as above with the rest are minor changes (which I don’t intend to go into it) . Let us see what the changes will affect us as borrowers.

1)60% loan limits, it is applicable to the property loan only, all other debts that the debtors incurred, such as, renovation loan does not fall within the framework. In short, property owner-would-be should buy the property before getting other debt committment.

2) The borrowers need to declared as owners as property-would-be would try all means to bypass the LTV in order to secure higher loan amount when purchasing the property.

In short, the latest measures is a good start as MAS introduce the TDSR framework. It’s help to control our debts ratio before serious implication happens like retrenchment. But I would like to see more active MAS roles in other areas. Below are my suggestions to MAS to review and implement the followings:

1) TDSR should included in all loan applications not just property loan. The other applications like vehicle loan, short term loan, renovation loans. Although this can be review by MAS  in different TDSR limits.

2) Credit card debts should included in the TDSR as this tend to be the main source of debts people incurred ( sometimes more than their 3 times their monthly gross incomes. MAS should implement that the credit card a person have in total should no be more than 3 times of the monthly gross income.

3) Vehicle Loan curb should be review as well, the current curb on the vehicle loan of 50% to 60% loan amount is sometimes less desirable to some people in need of the vehicle. Using the TDSR will be more a productive ways to curb the ever-increasing of COE prices. This at the same time able lower-income to apply for higher loan amount in vehicle loan within their TDSR.

Overall, the TDSR is a good start and more can be done with the recommendations given above will ensure that people will not overspend their expenditure.

Productivity in Singapore on the decline


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In the news, the productivity rate in Singapore on the decline even through the our GDP is increasing with ever-increasing of workforce mainly from other countries.

Based on Wikipedia:

Productivity is the ratio of output to inputs in production; it is a measure of the efficiency of production.

Productivity has many benefits. At the national level, productivity growth raises living standards because more real income improves people’s ability to purchase goods and services, enjoy leisure, improve housing and education and contribute to social and environmental programs. Productivity growth is important to the firm because more real income means that the firm can meet its (perhaps growing) obligations to customers, suppliers, workers, shareholders, and governments (taxes and regulation), and still remain competitive or even improve its competitiveness in the market place.

So the main question is: Why there is a decline in productivity despite more manpower and employee putting in man hours?

According the Gilbert Goh in transitioning .org, our workers are overly exploited. Yes, it’s overly exploited!!! I have come across PMET working every day from 9am till 1am the next day and the pay is pathetic.

Now I’m not going to talk about pay in here. I’m more interested in the real reason behind the decline of productivity decline.

1) More foreigner than local. Lots of foreigners are coming to Singapore to work.

We all know that in the service sectors like food industry, phone operators, construction worker and PMET. We don’t hate foreigners but the rate of foreigners coming into Singapore at such an astonishing rate, thus skill level of the foreigners are on the decline.

Quoting an example, in the telephone operators, mainly operated by the Pinoy and the Indian, like LTA, Banks, Singtel etc. Ask yourself a question: How many time do you need to call the operators to solve your problem comparing 10 years ago and now?

For me, I had to call Singtel, or DBS at least 2 to 3 times before my problem is solved. That why, today I only speaks to local operators.

Companies are arguing that local do not want to be telephone operators. Somewhat I agreed. Being a phone operator, they need to endure to nasty and rude customers. That’s not the main problem. The main problem is the pay. How much do the company willing to pay before a local consider this as a job? Less than a thousand dollars pay will continue let the companies into difficulties in getting locals to work in that industry.

Why not the companies pay a bit more like $1500 to $2000 to engage the local to work as telephone operators? As telephone operators are “Cost Center” to them, they would like to minimise the cost as low as possible. But in return, they had a trade-off of low productivity. This translate into productivity cost the company itself and productivity of the caller as well.

Also another reason the could be: telephone operators (foreign operators) work with their head but not their soul (This is what I feel). They do not really understand what our problem well and we had to repeat and repeat again to get the message through.

This kind of problems we had faced day-in day-out in today’s context. Not just in the telephone operators but in the service industry .

2) Too many Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

In order to safe guard the company or industry interest, there is always a SOP for all to follow. Don’t get me wrong! SOP is a must have to safe guard the interest of the company. But complicated SOP will sometime leads to employee confused themselves. Thus they need to ask around to make sure that they are following the SOP closely. This is total waste of time and man hours for the company.

A general and simple SOP will enough for all the employee to follows thus allowing more free play by the employees and easy understanding by them. Reduce unnecessary paperwork so they can cut their workload in a single case.

3) Top-down micro management

The top management do not really trust their subordinates and any questions and procedure that are out of the SOP need to sought the approval from the management. This create an unnecessary time wastage as subordinates are afraid of infringing the SOP set down by the management.

Sometime, when a decision finalised and pass the information down. Often than not, subordinates just follows and don’t question them. They are afraid to bring out the concern to the management about the decision made mainly afraid of offending their management.

Communication is a two-way thing and it is not a top-down communication. Management should not feel threaten when a concern raised.

4)  Job Hopping

There is a trend that job hopping is on the raise. This really bring down the productivity rate of the company as they need to hire new staff, train them all over again to get them familiarise with the working system in the company.

Company should work together with the employees. It must treat the employees as a family members. Employees must have balance work-life. Employees are not the slave of the company and don’t expect them to serve you 24/7. They have their families too. Money is never the major issue if the company creates a good work-life environment for their employees.

Why people job hopped is mainly due to work stress and lack of work-life balance. Money is another reason that people job-hopped, given all companies lack of work-life balance, they will choose the company with the higher compensation of their pay.

Given a choice, would an employee work-life balance company job hopped to another company that offer slightly higher package but with higher stress level and lack of work-life balance? Most properly not as they will tend to enjoy their work in the current company than going to other company. People will also resist changes to their current lifestyle (if given a work-life balance environment).

In order to increase productivity of the company, work-life balance is the way to go. Companies should treat their employees as family, retain staff and open management (open discussion with subordinates). Without all these factors, GDP will only continue to increase with the ever-increasing manpower.