Archive for the ‘Suggestions’ Category

New ministerial pay benchmark

August 21, 2007

This is a new ministerial pay benchmark to end all. I’ll use Mr Mah Bow Tan as an example. As the Minister of National Development, one of his main roles is to build houses for Singaporeans. We can benchmark Mr Mah’s pay on how well he performs on this important role. In the current HDB balloting exercise, there are 10,000 applicants applying for 300 over flats. So Mr Mah effectively fulfils only 3% of Singaporean’s demand for housing. If we were to benchmark his salary to the percentage of housing demand he can fulfil, he would end up getting only 3% of what he currently gets.

Similarly in the case of Jurong West flats for example, we know that despite attractive prices, take up rate is only 70%. In other words, Mr Mah’s good agencies over built flats in Jurong West, which is a wastage of resources. If we were to again benchmark his salary to the percentage flats over built, his performance would be 70%.

Assuming there were 3,000 Jurong West flats on offer during the last selection, we can then calculate his weighted average performance as follows:

Performance = ( 3% X 10,000 + 70% X 3,000 ) / 13,000
= 18.5%

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Suggestions for public transportation

May 8, 2007

One of the reasons why MRT stations like Raffles Place and City Hall are crowded is because we have a situation where two lines are merging into one. People from both the North and East wants to go West so Raffles Place becomes the bottleneck.

The soon to be completed circle line would greatly resolve such problems by directly shunting people between North and East and between North and West so that passengers do not have to all congregate at Raffles Place or City Hall in order to change trains. But until that happens, we need a good stop gap measure.

Express buses linking major MRT stations

A good stop gap measure would be to have express buses running during peak hours that shuttle between say Clementi and Yio Chu Kang or Ang Mo Kio and Bedok which basically serves the same purpose that the circle line would eventually serve.

Travellators

To reduce the Raffles Place crowd, we can have travellators shunt CBD goers to the Clarke Quay station from which they can directly enter the Northeast Line. Travellators can also be useful for shunting people between Bugis and Little India and between Little India and Novena so that travellers need not go through the congested Orchard road stations and clog it even more. The good thing about travellators is that they can be built overhead so that they do not compete for real estate and they do not stop every 100 metres or so like buses do.

Shuttle buses

CBD goers complain they cannot get cabs because taxi drivers do not wish to pay CBD charges to get into the CBD. To get around this problem, we can get CBD goers out of the CBD by other means so that they can be met by taxis outside the CBD. Travellators is one way, shuttle buses is another.

Shuttle buses are also useful for shoppers at Takashimaya. There are long queues for taxis at Takashimaya because taxis simply do not wish to get jammed inside Orchard Road because time is money to them. To work around this problem, shuttle buses can be used to move shoppers out of the crowded Orchard Road to designated taxi pick up points. This would benefit both shoppers and taxi drivers by bringing them together.

Double decker MRT line

By building an MRT line on top of an existing MRT line, we can double our capacity without taking up more land.

If you travel west often enough from Raffles Place or City Hall MRT, you would realise that the bulk of the passengers get off at Clementi and Jurong East MRT stations. We can have an express line that brings passengers from Redhill MRT straight to Clementi without stoppages in between. The reason why it has to start from Redhill is because it is the first above ground train station in the westbound direction. Shuttle buses can bridge the distance between Raffles Place and Redhill.

Traffic junctions

Traffic at junctions like Bugis crawls unnecessarily because there is a busy pedestrian crossing that ought to be replaced by an underground link to the other side of the road. There should be an entrance to the underground near the busy bus stop at Bugis Village.

CTE

This can be quite difficult to implement but the rough idea is for the two middle lanes of the CTE to change direction between morning and evening. In the morning, we have four lanes going south and two lanes going north while in the evening, we can have four lanes going north and two lanes going south. We install movable barriers so that when you need to combine lanes, you lower the barriers and when you need to separate lanes, you raise those barriers. Raising / lowering of barriers to decrease / increase lanes can be effected at 4 am in the morning every day to keep the number of motorists affected to a minimum.

High averages not enough

May 1, 2007

Tharman said that our education needs to become more multi-disciplinary as opposed to specialised so that our students may be better prepared for changes in interest and careers later in life. I beg to differ. It can be multi-disciplinary at the beginning, but it needs to be focused at the end because a jack of all trades can never master anything. Also, more often than not, it is not because their interests have changed but rather they have discovered their real interests that they change careers later on in life.

What the school really needs to do is to discover the innate talents and interests of the students and then encourage them to pursue those talents or interests wholeheartedly. What that means is to expose the students to as many subjects and topics as early as possible. Organise talks, visits or even attachments so that students know first hand what the major professions entail and can better choose their future careers. Rather than let them discover their real interests 10 years after they’ve left school, would it not be better that they’re exposed to all the various career choices while they are still in school so that they need not make that painful career transition later on in life?

The problem is that what the school offers is often linked to what the industry demands which in turn depends on what the government has decided to focus on. In other words, students do not have the luxury of choosing what they love most or what they are best at but has to instead choose from what is available.

Tharman also said that the most intrinsic outcome of education is to mould characters that pursue excellence. I beg to differ. The most important purpose of education is to make good citizens. Citizens with moral kindness, compassion and a sense of righteousness. When we have professors spitting on taxi drivers or taking revenge on his mistress, we can’t help but wonder if we’re not encouraging blind pursuance of excellence at the expense of basic moral goodness. When we have our mountain climbing hero, Khoo Swee Chiow forsaking his team mates so that he could achieve personal glory, we wonder what kind of sick society are we becoming? When we have our own prime minister openly bargaining with the people about how much money he should be getting, we can’t help but wonder if our education has truly failed.

$20 million for school IT

April 26, 2007

Teachers are overworked trying to discipline students and setting and marking test papers all the time. What time or energy would they have left to devote to our students?

A centralised agency for setting test papers would significantly reduce duplication of efforts and reap tremendous scale economy. Instead of having 3,000 teachers set 3,000 sets of test papers every month or so, we can have just a handful of teachers setting the same test papers to be shared by 3,000 teachers.

If all schools use the same syllabus, then their test papers shouldn’t be too different from one another and should thus be amenable to becoming combined.

Marking of test papers can also be automated. Instead of getting all 3,000 teachers mark papers, we can transfer some of the marking to computers. Every school should have a computerised examination room. Students take tests over webpages and key in their answers into the computer system. At the end of the test, scores of every student can be totaled in an instant. Statistics with regards to the percentage of correct answers for each question can be viewed at a glance which allows the teacher to know instantly where the problem areas lie. She can then tailor her teaching / explanation accordingly.

The biggest headache teachers face is student discipline. Teachers are not allowed to discipline students these days, little wonder student discipline has plummeted. Students with discipline problems invariably come from low income, problematic families. Rather than teach, many teachers end up as counsellors not only for their students but also for their students’ parents. It can be very draining for the teachers which explains why many of them leave. Teachers are not social workers. They are not trained to deal with the social problems that the students bring into class.

For the good of everyone, it may be best that this group of students be grouped together to be taught separately by specialists such as retired officers and warrant officers. These officers are the best candidates to take charge of these delinquents.