Saturday, 22 April 2017


It supposes to be a ‘free election’ after the world football association’s (FIFA) new regulation on the running and management of local football associations. It is also an opportunity to show the world Singapore can have free election on non-political organisations, non-profit bodies or non-government organisations.

Unfortunately, it is now a high drama. The sage at Singapore Football Association election, whether the election is on or off at the end of April, will continue to make news headlines in years to come.

If you are not a football fan, you may not be interested on the saga at first. Now, it has become the coffee shop talks.

Is this political related? You make your own judgement.

However, some issues are interesting for discussions - corruptions, business models, and future options.

[$500,000 donation]

Is this a key concern? Is this implied a corruption?

Singapore is known for corruptions free and we always stress that we have zero tolerance for corruptions. When the FAS election campaign issue touches on the $500,000 donation, one will have to be alerted about the possibility of corruption. The thinking of corruptions, of course, will also lead to financial irregularities. To boost the case, highlighting, linking and imagining the multi-million income of jackpot machines to financial irregularities can easily catch the eyes of readers.  

Anti-corruptions are the key success factors for Singapore. The FAS election has touched this red line and the police ‘is now forced’ to investigate the matter after a complaint is reported.   

[Business models]

From the business innovation point of view, the Team Game Changers seems to come out with a workable model.

This model should be welcomed by the government. They even think of doing an Initial Public Offering (IPO) for FAS activities. The team has proved that they can successfully turn a profit-losing club to a profit-making club.

This is what Singapore wants. If every individual or company in Singapore has this mindset and innovation, then the government will not have to subsidy healthcare, worry about CPF minimum sum or medisave. Instead, the government can increase tax revenue from the profit-making businesses, be it jackpot machines or IPO.
There is no reason to kill this initiative - the golden egg. With money, FAS can develop local talents, import high quality foreign players, reduced government funding, promote football to a larger audience etc. Just like what Tote Board is doing through horse racing, big sweep and toto.   

[Out of control]

The government encourages social enterprises. They also want public services to generate revenue. They want all these activities to be self-sufficient or make profit. So SMRT goes into space re-design to generate income and neglecting maintenance. Religious bodies and NGOs like National Kidney Foundation come out with innovative ideas to generate revenue.  

This leads to MRT disruptions and many high profile court cases.

Football club and FAS making use of jackpot machines and IPO to generate income can be an innovative initiative but it also creates potential problems, conflict of interest.   

Is the government worrying about this development?

[Future options]

What can the government do? The past practice of appointing FAS President can ensure the matter will not go out of control. Just like the coming Presidential Election. Even there are problems, like the corruption case of Ang Mo Kio GRC Town Council’s general manager, they can just refer it to CPIB.

However, the past practice as shown will kill the entrepreneurship and innovation. A football club can generate income more than the total budget of FAS shows that there are many rooms for improvements.

However, if the government gives a free hand, many social enterprises , religious groups or NGOs will grow bigger and bigger. Will it end up like the banking industry in the US - too big to fail?

Will the development of social enterprises and NGOs even harder to control than the oppositions in Singapore?

Perhaps, from the wealth and income generated, many of them are bigger than the small and medium sized listed companies in Singapore.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

由上而下的小道政治容不下预己 - 新加坡是一个成功写照.


这里引用英国牛津大学 Professor Sir Paul Collier的论点进一步说明.Collier 教授分析人类从无政府状态到中央集权,再到包容性国家的过程中, 所面对的问题。他以经济学的从贫穷到繁荣角度来分析问题. 我们看到有些国家成功, 但是也有很多国家失败,甚至连中央集权都做不到(政令和政策无法下达到全国).

从无政府状态到中央集权,需要借助武力来达到目的。他认为中央集权国家(The centralised state)应该具备六个条件:政治上(精英)权力垄断,税收,司法,基础投资,富人(精英)间分享权力,(国家)具有借贷能力。

但是,中央集权还是无法顺利提高人民的所得和经济发展。而要通过包容性国家(Inclusive state)来取得财富和财富分配。理想的包容性国家所实行的政策,将顾及人民的需求和为所有的人制造平等机会。

通往包容性国家的道路有两条:小道和大道。(Minor Route and Major Route)


小道的包容是从上而下的精英政治。精英们掌握大权,以私人愿望在经济发展和财富分配上,实行对自己有利的政策。the elite are still in power and make selfishly-motivated choices between economic growth and the redistribution of wealth from the people to the elite.)

【大道的包容 -抗议的代价】

大道的包容则是从下而上的政治。下面的人民可以和精英分享权力。而在争取大道包容的过程中,我们必须了解抗议的经济学:奖励,回报和代价。(The major route to an inclusive state is through pressure from below to share power. To understand this route, we first need to understand the economics of protest: the incentives, rewards, and costs of protest.)




【大道的包容 - 对付社交媒体】






Saturday, 8 April 2017

Price Puzzle or Cartel?

same item big price difference.jpg

I am surprise to learn about the big difference in price for a simple medical skin cream as shown above.  It is by chance I find out the cheapest price (so far) at SGH pharmacy. If I am not visiting a friend at SGH, I will never find out the price difference.  

We know government hospitals are not subsidizing medicines, not to mention hospital pharmacies that cater for public.

So even at $3.82 per tube (including GST), SGH (Singapore General Hospital) pharmacy is still making profit!  Does this mean pharmacies outside SGH are having unreasonable huge profits?   

Is this a ‘one-off’ special case or a common practice?

I regular buy this skin cream at a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) shop. Last year, it was $5 per tube. However, recently, the price changes a lot from $5 to $8. It forces me to check the price at Guardian and NTUC pharmacy. They offer even higher price than the TCM shop. I think I may have to get cheaper and similar skin cream from Johor Bahru until I find out the cheaper price at SGH.

I wonder why the price increase so much outside SGH pharmacy. From $5 to $8, this is a 60% increase. We know electricity and water prices are going to increase, so hawkers and coffee shops also increase their prices. But I don’t think they increase their coffee or food price by 60%.

[Lack of Information]

We really don’t have perfect information and the market is also not in perfect competition.

We need to compare price. Even I shop at TCM shop, I can still manage to save 90 cents to $1 per tube. Actually, I bought 6 tubes at SGH pharmacy, you can imagine my savings. ($48-$22.90 = $25.10)    

Comparing TCM shop, Guardian and NTUC pharmacy, TCM shops are less likely to enjoy ‘economy of scale’ in their purchase. But how can they offer cheaper than the big boys?  Is this an advantage or disadvantage of small and medium size enterprise?

How can we protect the interest of consumers under an imperfect information environment? Oh! Some one may suggest we have CASE (The Consumers Association of Singapore)?

[Selective Reporting]

Under the imperfect information environment, we can also do selective reporting. The government can claim government hospitals do not make profit just look at the skin cream we are charging, so much lower than outside.

This is a ‘feel good’ reporting. Outside the government hospitals, whether you are able to get the same price or higher price, the selective reporting does not concern so much.  The report’s duty is just to project the good image of the government.

When the government announces that water and electricity price is going to increase, or transport fares are going to adjust, they always refer to ‘market price’. In this case, they are referring prices in the market (TCM shops, NTUC or Guardian).      

When they price the HDB (Housing and Development Board) flat and fees for university education, the government also uses the market price. However, when they calculate National Service pay, the government refers it as NS allowance. Allowance, of course, is different from market compensation.

Selective reporting can be bias and for political purpose. In Singapore, we can see this in not only in news reporting but also in radio, broadcasting and social media.  

For the purpose of illustration, the above report can also base on sentence reduction in term of percentage. Here, we can select and rank percentage reduction for all of them. And obviously, we will see the difference - who get more cut and who get less!   

Punishment Reduction in Percentage

After Appeal
% Reduction
Kong Hee
8 years
3 years 6 months
Chew Eng Han
6 years
3 years 4 months
Tan Ye Peng
5 years 6 months
3 years 2 months
Serina wee
5 years
2 years 6 months
John Lam
3 years
1 year 6 months
Sharon Tan
1 year 9 months
7 months

[Is selective reporting Fake News?]

Recently, we talk a lot about fake news and the government is thinking very hard to catch and punish the ‘fake news’ reporters.

This makes one wonder can selective reporting, bias reporting, brainwashing reporting, propaganda reporting also be a kind of fake news?