Sunday, April 23, 2017

Why I choose Uber over Grab

I used to call GrabTaxi for my ride to the airport.

I now use UberPool. Here are my reasons:

1. I can get a car faster and it is much cheaper ($15 instead of $25 on a taxi).
2. Uber deducts the fare automatically from my credit card. No cash payment.
3. My Uber account can be used in other cities - not just Singapore.

I know that Grab is trying very hard to provide the same service as Uber. But Grab seems to be introducing many platforms - while Uber uses a common platform for their shared and exclusive service. 

I also like the abiilty to use Uber in other cities.

My view about the sentence meted to the convicted leaders of City Harvest Church

Should the convicted leaders of City Harvest be punished severely for their crimes?

I wish to give my personal views on this matter. I know that many people in Singapore will not agree with my views, but I like to express it nevertheless.

Have empathy for people in distress

One of the convicted leaders in the City Harvest Church case was seen crying in court.

The journalist asked her, "How do you feel".
The husband of the convict replied to the journalist, "What do you think"?

I have empathy with the convicted person, her hushand and family. Their lives and future will be destroyed by a mistake that she had made. It was a mistake because she probably felt honestly that she was promoting a good cause for the church and was not benefitting financially from that decision.

The question posed by the journalist probably reflect the attitude of many people in our society. They seemed to be enjoying the circus, without regard to the lives of the people who were directly affected.

What does the Crowd think about Lim Hng Kiang?

The performance score for trade minister Lim Hng Kiang is now available for viewing. A surprise! He performed quite well, in spite of being rather quiet over the years.

What will happen in North Korea?

What will happen to North Korea? I posed this question last week at the height of the tension between North Korea and America. The majority of the Crowd said "Nothing. Things will return to normal". They are right, as nothing happened last week.
The next highest vote is for "North Korea will continue to provoke America until Donald Trump loses his patience". Will it happen?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Is the coverage redundant?

I am currently insured under a 10 year Term insurance policy which covers death and permanent total disability. Total disability is defined as "complete and continuous inability of the Insured at that time and at all times thereafter to engage in any business or occupation or perform any work of any kind for remuneration or profit"

I am also covered under a supplementary Eldershield policy which pays on severe Disability. This is defined as "inability of the Life Assured to perform at least 3 of the following activities of daily living, even with the aid of special equipment and always to require the physical assistance of another person throughout the entire activity (washing, dressing, feeding, toileting, mobility, transferring).

Is the coverage under Eldershield redundant? If I am able to claim under Eldershield, would I also qualify to claim for permanent total disability under the Term insurance policy?

My reply is given here:

Changing money at Changi Airport

I share this experience of changing money at Changi Airport. It will be damaging for the reputation of Singapore. We take a few decades to build up a good reputation, but this is now being destroyed. Once destroyed, it will take a decade to regain it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Retirement income poilcy

I analyzed a retirement income policy recently and was surprised that it is just a fixed term annuity and not a life annuity. The yield on the policy is between 0% to 4%. (Actually, it is difficult to calculate the yield as there are so many uncertainties and variables).

The policyholder could have obtained a better return by investing on his or her own in an indexed fund.

What is the value of this retirement income policy to the consumer? Virtually none! It's value is to create a way for the agent to earn a high commission and the insurance company to make a large profit, at the expense of the consumer.

Election of Jakarta Governor - relevance for Singapore

Jakarta is holding the 2nd round election of the governor today.
The top two contestants in the 1st run (Ahok team and Anies team) will now participate in the 2nd round election. Good luck to both teams.

Indonesia has a good system to elect their governors. If the 1st run does not produce a clear majority of 50%, the top two candidates will compete in the 2nd round.

Singapore should adopt this system for the election of the Elected President. This will ensure that the final person who is elected has the votes of more than half of the voters.

The worst case is to have an Elected President who won through a walkover, right?

Performance score for minister Yakoob Ibrahim

The performance of minister Yaacob Ibrahim is now ready for viewing. What is his average score compared to the other ministers? You can see the results here:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

TKL websites

The new normal under LHL government

I visited the health center at Grassroots Club.

TKL - Are all the facilities working today>
Staff - Yes.
TKL - What about the cold pool?
Staff - Oh, it is still out of order.
TKL - You said that all facilities are working?
Staff - The cold pool is out of order. The rest are all working.
TKL - ?????

Okay, this is the new normal under LHL government. We do not count those out of order, okay? Like train breakdown now and then - don't count okay? The rest are all working.

Win attractive prizes by voting here

Vote on 10 issues at the Crowd website and win an attractive prize - Financial Planning for Young People (usual prize $6). Win a new prize for each additional 10 votes.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pay premium over a shorter period

Mr. Tan
An insurance agent advised me to buy a life insurance policy with a premium payment period of 15 years. He said that I should not pay for a longer period, in case I lose my job.

What is your advice?

This requires a more detailed explanation. Read this article

Relative performance of six ministers

The voting on ministers have now closed - Khaw BW, K Shanmugan, Lim SS, Gan KY, Ng EH and Chan CS. Which minister performed best among them? Which minister performed the worst?

Make a guess and then check the results at

Performance score of ministers

The weighted average of the performance score for the ministers can now be viewed at

Do you agree with the votes of the Crowd?

This is based on a self-selected sample and is not reflected of the views of the population.

Performance of defense minister

How did the Crowd vote the performance of defence minister Ng Eng Hen?

Not bad, compared to their votes for the other ministers that were voted earlier.

You can see the weighted average score of the ministers at (now under development).

Lee HL as Elected President?

Issue - If Lee HL stand for elected President after retiring as PM, will the people vote for him?

You can view the voting of the Crowd at

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Buy an annuity

Mr. Tan
Do you have any tips on which type of annuity to buy, and which to avoid?

You can search for "Annuity" at
Here is the link:

Prizes - two spiritual books

You have been receiving financial books as prizes for submitting votes in the Crowd website.

The next two books, after reaching 40 votes, will be spiritual books. It will be a refreshing change.

Several participants will be eaching this level soon.

An alternative way to award jobs - lesson for Singapore

Singapore relies on the tender system to award jobs. This has some advantages, but the disadvantages are often overlooked. We are now seeing the outcome of this bad approach - low quality of work, delay in completion and high cost.

Is there an alternative method of awarding jobs? There is, and it has proved to be successful in several fields.

Candidate for a reserved presidential election

What should be the criteria for a candidate to qualify under a reserved presidential election?

Should both parents come from the reserved ethnic group? Is it acceptable if one one parent come from the reserved group, i.e. a mixed marriage? Should the spouse also come from the reserved group?

You can see the results of the voting by the Crowd here:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Smart nation needs a smart approach

We spend tens, maybe hundreds of million dollars on big IT initiatives, but do not seem to get them to work?

I think that our approach is wrong. We just want to be "leading edge" in technology. It is better to be "leading edge" in common sense applications. For example, if the government decide to use email for official correspondence, it would go a lot of good to get the nation to be "smart".

They have a paranoid fear that email could be hacked. So what? In most cases, the emails are not top secret. Even physical mail can be hijacked during the delivery, right?

How to write better SOP

Our government agencies and big organizations in Singapore should learn from the lesson of United Airlines. It is dangerous to get the staffs to rely on SOP to the extent that they forget about common sense.

Singapore stands a bigger risk because it is standard practice to adopt SOP in the Singapore Armed Forces. All male citizens are conditioned to think SOP for two years. It became ingrained in their mindset.

There is a simple way to avoid this kind of problem that can lead to disastrous consequences. Just take a tip from me.

How should a retiree invest his cash?

Dear Mr. Tan
I have invested in some ETF and REITs and very little on blue chips etc.
In this current scenario of low interest, what would be the best options if I have some cash ( say around 200K)
I wouldn't want to put all the eggs in one basket. Buying a private property will not be on my wish list as I felt the prices are too high.
Buying a brand new car has been on my thoughts these few months but it's not worthwhile to commit 100K cash to a four wheeler.
I am nearing 60 yrs old and would like to best manage and invest and spent my hard earned dollars.
Looking forward to your advice.

My reply can be found here:

Should we have a reserved election for the Elected President?

A big majority of the Crowd does not like the concept of the reserved election for the Elected President.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tips on buying Term Insurance

I have given some useful tips for how you can buy the suitable term of term insurance coverage for your needs using the Compare First website.

My tips include:
1. What is the term of the policy (I suggest 20 to 25 years)
2. What is the sum insured (I suggest 5 years of income)
3. Choice of level or reducing term coverage?
4. Should you include critical ilness coverage?

My reaons for these choices are explained in the artilcle.

This article is available for the public for 14 days only. After that, it will only be available for FISCA members.

Should you buy a supplementary for your long term care insurance?

Eldershield is an insurance policy that pays a monthly benefit to the policyholder who has a long term disability and needs long term care from a care giver. Some insurance companies have offered a supplementary to Eldershield. It pays an additional monthly benefit to supplement what is paid by Eldershield.

Should you buy the supplement? Here is an analysis of the MyCare policy provided by Aviva. They are one of the active providers of this supplementary insurance.

Before you sign a contract to spend several thousand dollars on this insurance, read my analysis of this insurance policy.

Risk of buying directly at Compare First website

A consumer is worried about the risk of buying the wrong product when he buys directly from the Compare First website. Here are my views.

Is a HDB flat still a store of value?

Do you agree with national development minister Lawrence Wong that HDB flats are a "store of value" after he had said that the value will be $0 at the end of 99 years?

Lesson for organizations from the United Airlines debacle

Any large organization face the risk of suffering the serious damage that had befallen United Airlines.

Let me make a bold claim. This kind of debacle would not have happened if United Airlines had consulted me on writing their SOP. If this statement appear to be boastful and benefiting from hindsight, let me explain.

How do you like to receive government mail?

Most people prefer to receive government mail in soft copy sent to their regular inbox. But there is still a sizeable proportion who are happy to receive the hard copy.

The result can be viewed from

Wearing of headscarf in the workplace

Should the public service allows Muslim employees to use the headscarf? The Crowd has a practical approach to this thorny issue.

People don't like the recent changes to the Elected Presidency

Lee HL is clearly out of touch with the Crowd. The recent changes to the Elected President receive support from less than 4% of the people who voted on this issue. The majority (49%) preferred the system that existed from 1993 to 2017. The next highest vote (31%) prefer an upper house of 6 elected persons.

You can view the results on other issues in

Alternative to the tender system

Singapore has been using the tender system for many decades. We treat it as the best approach, and continued to rely on this approach even when the prices are ridiculously high or the quality of the work had dropped sharply. It is time for us to open our eyes to see the weaknesses of the tender system and to look at an alterative approach.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Elected president - recent changes are unpopular

Lee HL is clearly out of touch with the Crowd. The recent changes to the Elected President receive support from less than 4% of the people who voted on this issue. The majority (49%) preferred the system that existed from 1993 to 2017. The next highest vote (31%) prefer an upper house of 6 elected persons.

You can view the results on other issues in

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Three good reasons to join FISCA

Here are several good reasons why you should join as a member of FISCA.

1. You have access to the articles archieved under Insurance, Investment, Learning and Product Analysis. Non-members do not have access to the articles more than 14 days old.

2. You attend most FISCA talks free or pay only $10. This is a discount of $20 from what the public pays.

3, You can attend gathering or dinner for members, at a subsidized rate. You get to meet the committee members.

How to join? Go to this page:
The membership fee is $36 a year. This is a good deal for the knowledge that you can get on financial matters.

The United Airlines episode and its relevance to Singapore

The United Airlines episode, where a passenger is forcefully dragged from the plane, has a lesson for the Singapore government in the conduct of its CPF policy. Here are my views.

Performance of transport minister

Here is how the Crowd rate the performance of our transport minister. It is quite sad. The overall score is far below average.

I know that he has a difficult task to do. If he had been communicating more often with the public, instead of hiding behind the Ivory Tower, the public would have given him a better score.

We do not expect miracles, but we like our well paid ministers to be more accoutable, right?

To view the results of other issues, go to

When a CEO says he will "take personal responsibility"

There was an ugly incident where a passenger was forcefully removed from an United Airlines flight. The CEO finally stepped forward to "take full responsibility". What does it mean? I have a few words to say about this incident, as it also involved DBS Bank in a similar incident in the past.…

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Poor standard of maintenance

Here is another example of the poor standard of maintenance in Singapore. Some of our bad practices, such as the tender system, has come back to hit us very badly.

Big cut in bonuses

A mother bought a life insurance policy for her 19 year old son. After 25 years, the policyholder (son) saw that the insurance company had cut the payout significantly.

More details are available here:…

Excessive rate charged for level term rider

In 1992, a mother bought a life insurance policy for her 19 year son. The policy included a level term insurance rider of $50,000 payable on death up to age 65. The annual premium for the rider was $199. The life insurance company was among the top companies operating in Singapore.

Keep up to date with what Singaporeans are thinking

Three issues voted in The Wisdom of the Crowd website were closed last night.

What do Singaporeans think about the evacuation of the Hougang MRT station? Was it necessary? Was it an over-reaction?

What do Singaporeans think about the actions taken by President Duterte to solve the drug problem in the Philippines. Were his methods too extreme? Could be have done it in some other way?

You can also view the results of other issues that were closed during the past week. Keep up to date with what Singaporeans are thinking.

You can view the results in

How President Duterte handles the drug problem

How do the people in Singapore see the way in which President Durterte of the Phillipines is handling the drug problem? You can veiw the results of their votes at

The views are quite well divided into - necessary, bad and don't know.

Unattended bag at Hougang MRT station

A bag was left unattended at Hougang MRT station. The police evacuated the station for 20 minutes. Is this the correct action?

43% of the people agreed with this action. An equal number said that the police should look at what is inside the bag before calling an evacuation.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Low payout under the Prudential policy

The low payout under the Prudential policy raises two issues that required the Monetary Authority of Singapore to step in. I hope that they will take the appropriate aciton, rather than leave the policyholder to fend on his own.…

Provide guides in hospital

I share this observation about visiting the hospital. It is useful to have a guide that can bring the patient around to the relevant clinic in a large facility.…

Easy to win this prize at the Crowd website

28 people won the book prize yesterday for reaching 10 or 20 votes in the Crowd website. That was the highest in recent weeks.

You can also win the prize easily. There are 17 active issues. When you cast your vote for 10 issues, you get the prize immediately.

After passing 10 votes, you can continue to reach 20 votes and get the next prize.

My experience with

I have now removed most of the "following accounts in I did not follow them, but some bots automatically added these accounts into my @kinlian account.

My daily feed is now quite clean. There are still a few hundred bad "following" that I have to remove, but that should not be a problem.

I find that the twitter feed is quite good, maybe better than Facebook.

I intend to use twitter more actively and to post less frequently in Facebook. I like to ask you to follow me at @kinlian in Twitter. It should be quite easy for you to get used to this platform.

Providing jobs in rural communities

I like this article, especially the part in the end about connecting people living in rural areas to the world using digital platform, so they can offer the existing skills they have from where they live. It has been an idea that I have working on for many years.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Avoid insurance policies that give an upfront bonus

Many people fell for this trap. The financial adviser or agent told them that they can earn an attractive upfront bonus is they buy the policy during the promotion period. They bought the policy and regreted it very much.

The products that have this feature include the Vista policy from Zurich, the Pulsar policy from AXA and the Global Wealth from Friends Provident.

Consumers should avoid these policies. In fact, they should be wary of any policy that offers an upfront bonus. This is how they are distracted from looking at the other important features of the policy.

Easy to win this $6 prize

There are 15 questions that you can vote on. You only need to submit 10 votes to win the prize - Financial Planning for the Young (usual price $6).

Is this a good investment?

Are you willing to give your money to a financial institution who promises to invest their money carefully for 25 years, and ask you to give them 40% of the accumulated amount, so that you get only 60% as your return?

For example, if your investment amounted to $300,000, the financial institution will take away $120,000 and give you $180,000?

Your total savings for the 25 years could be $130,000, Your net gain is $50,000 for 25 years.

After you have considered this matter, you can read this article to see the correct answer.

Stand up and address the allegations

I expect the police to be able to stand up and address these allegations, rather than hide under the protection of legislation. This legislation will lead to silencing legitimate protest against abuse of power by the people in authority.

Lessons from New Zealand

Michael Ng said:
New Zealanders are happy with their government because of the consultative approach of running the country. High degree of transparency and accountability earn trust. Although the tax rates are comparatively much higher than Singapore, the tax evasion cases are rare. The government spends wisely on great improvement on infrastructures, education, healthcare and social welfares, etc.. Because of excellent diplomacy and friendly relationship with other countries especially the superpowers, only a small budget in terms of GDP percentage is allocated for defence purposes. Good practice of democracy makes the difference. The united and happy population ensure that New Zealand enjoys harmony and high productivity.

Who would you vote as the next Elected President?

Who would you vote as the next Elected President, if this were an open election?

Dr. Tan Cheng Bok beat the incumbent Dr Tony Tan by almost 10 to 1. Okay, there is a bias in the voting by the crowd.

Who should be considered as first Elected President

Who should be considered as the first Elected President. An overwhelming majority of the Crowd took a few different view from PM Lee.

Some views about the reserved election

I met a few old classmates over coffee at a food court. We talked about the next presidential election.

Friend 1 - I spoke to two Malay friends. They told me that they felt ashamed to have a Malay President elected under a reserved election. They prefer a Malay to win the election on their own merit.

Friend 2 - Of the possible candidates who could be "endorsed" by the PAP, 2 have an Indian father, 1 has a Chinese mother and 1 has a caucasian wife. They cannot be considered as "pure" Malay. This will make our system a laughing stock.

Friend 3 - We are supposed to have a president who has a strong financial background. One of the "favorite" candidate does not have any background in running a large organization or ministry. How can this candidate perform the duty expected of the Elected President?

TKL - I think Lee HL now realized that his idea of a reserved election is a bad one.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Vote on performance of health minister and manpower minister

You can now vote on the performance of the health minister and the manpower minister.

This will help you to reach the 20 vote mark and win the next prize.

Low birth rate in Singapore

According to the Crowd, the main reason for the low birth rate in Singapore is the high cost of living (58%), the insecurity of jobs (22%) and saving for a HDB flat (10%).

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