Monday, May 25, 2015

Medishield Life - household information

I overlook the hard copy mail that was sent to me regarding Medishield Life transitional subsidies. Fortunately, I got this timely reminder from Richard Giam's Facebook:

Please remember to log in to with your singpass. To declare your household members in order to receive the 4 years transitional subsidies given by the government due to the implementation of medishield life.
Only 1 member each household need to do this. So any member of the family can do it.
Please do this by 6th of June 2015.
Ministry of health data collection to decide on the subsidy for the coming medishield life exercise. Fill up and replyTake only less than 5 mins to confirm your household members details.
I am sure that there will be a few hundred thousand people who would have overlooked this step, like me. Why was it necessary to carry out this registration? I guess that the government wanted to give a lower subsidy to those who stayed in private houses.
As the government intends to label people according to the type of house that they stay in to give different levels of subsidy, it is better than they assign a code that will last a lifetime. They can use this code to determine the amount of GST offset and other subsidies. It is wasteful to carry out a separate "registration exercise" every time.

A better way is for the government to impose higher property taxes (if this is really necessary) for people who live in private houses. (Actually, this is already happening). After imposing this higher tax, they should give the same level of subsidy to people without worrying about the type of housing that they stay in. They can still differentiate by age group. 
It is wasteful to carry out this type of unproductive work, which must have cost the country several tens of million dollars each time. This waste should be avoided.

Follow the rules

I overheard two elderly teachers discussing how to deal with student issues in school. One teachers raised two issues - taking drugs and being raped. Should the teacher inform the parent? According to the school manual, these affect the privacy of the student. The teacher is not supposed to inform the parent. He said that the parent should be informed, but it is best to "follow the rules".

I dislike thus "follow the rules" mindset that is prevalent in Singapore. What if the rules are written wrongly? Do we follow them blindly?

Common lobby for 2 gates

My flight to Jakarta used gate C25. It uses a common lobby with C19 but there are 2 separate doors and 2 separate screening gates. The door to C25 is closed and the screening gate is unattended. Many passengers to Jakarta were waiting outside, confused. There is a queue waiting to be screened at C19. I asked a security staff why C25 is still closed. She said that it uses a common screening gate as C19. To her, this is "understood". She did not realized that many passengers were confused and waiting outside. This "brainless" behavior is quite common. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Poor business at Kopitiam

I visited Kopitiam at Greenwich V at 8.30 am on a Sunday morning. Only 2 stalls were operating - the drinks stall and the noodle stalls. Another six stalls were closed.  This is in stark contrast to Hong Kong where the restaurants were packed every morning at 7 am. 

Lions XII win the Malaysia F.A. Cup

Congratulations to coach Fandi Ahmad and the Lions XII team for wining the Malaysia FA Cup. It is an unexpected win and something for Singaporeans to be proud of! Here is the coverage in the front page of Today paper. Link

I was following the live blog of Channel News Asia last night. Congratulations to CNA for covering this event. 

Posting in blogspot

I had stopped posting in blogspot for the past year to focus on Facebook. I have now decided to abandon Facebook and come back to blogspot.

Although the readership in blogspot is smaller, I find it  to be a better platform. I do not get the idiots from the Internet Brigade posting their nonsense in my Facebook page.

A morning walk

I took a Sunday morning walk from my home to Greenwich V, a distance of 2.2 km. I could have driven or taken a bus, but I decided that a walk would do me good.

Along the way, I saw a plump woman walking in front of me. As I passed her, I said "good morning" to her. Guess what happened?

Well, she turn around, smiled and said "good morning" to me!. Further down the road, she run passed me to a waiting car. As she entered the car, she looked at me. I gave her a wave and she waved back. The male driver of the car must be wondering what had happened!

Further down the road, two female joggers passed me. I said "good morning" and they replied back.

On the way back, a male jogger was coming towards me. As he passed, I said "good morning". He panted and replied back with a "good morning".

All the people that I had met that morning were polite in returning a greeting.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Turning a weak point to an advantage

My friend told this interesting story of how he turned a weak point to an advantage and landed the job that he was passionate about. Link

Can Singaporeans think?

The writer of this article made a statement that most Singaporeans cannot think. It attracted several interesting responses. Half of them disagreed with him while the other half agreed. I also agreed with his view. Most Singaporeans cannot think and lack common sense.  Link to the article. 

Fake flash drive?

I bought this 32G flash drive from Hong Kong for HK 10 (or SGD 1.60). 
It does not work. I think that this is a fake flash drive. 

Protecting the image of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE – The Government is looking at enacting laws to protect the name and image of the Republic’s founding Prime Minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, from commercial exploitation and misleading use.

Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong revealed this while speaking to the media at the sidelines of the National Community Engagement Programme Dialogue today (May 23).

Mr Wong said the move comes as many members of the public have raised concerns over the misuse of Mr Lee’s name.


See Seah
This is a dangerous preposition ....As much as we respect the Late LKY ...we should not reduce him to be a Cult figure or allow ourselves to embrace such culture of being overly I remember what was being spoken by one of LKY grandson during his eulogy speech which reminded us that we should remember LKY by the system and foundation that he has built and not by monuments and legislating rules on the use of his names that reflect badly on our society a nation.

New Zealand Air Force

My friend said, "It is quite funny that the symbol of the New Zealand Air Force is the Kiwi - a bird that cannot fly.

I told him that the Kiwi is the national symbol for New Zealand, and not for the Air Force alone. He said, "is it"? 

Singapore Lions XII in Malaysia Cup Final

Best wishes to Lions XII. I was not following football and was surprised that our team is doing well to reach the finals!
Click here for more details.

The case for a minimum wage in Singapore

Kenneth Jeyaretnam said:

A few days ago I put up a post on Facebook about the decision by the Los Angeles City Council to raise the minimum wage in the city to US$15 per hour. I asked why Singapore could not afford a minimum wage of, say, $8 per hour. In response an American economist gave his reasons why the case for a minimum wage was much stronger in Singapore than the USA:

There are many. But I’ll give you four. One, the Singapore workforce is now nearly 40% foreign imported labour vs. 16% in the US. Actually, since a good percentage of foreign workers stay and eventually get citizenship vs. very few in Singapore, the gap is effectively much larger. Two, Singapore has much tighter controls on immigration than the US. Three, Singapore’s “democracy” is structured to minimize specific-issue local dissent. Four, Singapore is a city-state with a tiny physical geography while the US consists of 50 states, DC and nearly 10 million square km.

Read the full article here.

Famous People

Can you recognize the famous people in this painting?  Click here.

Confusing taxi fares

The taxi fares in Singapore is confusing. Even a local person, like me, can easily fall into the trap and pay a much higher fare than necessary.

I returned back to Singapore from Jakarta last Monday past midnight. The concierge at the airport directed me to a waiting taxi. The taxi is white in color and had a special branding. I asked the taxi driver if it is a standard taxi and he said "yes".

When I arrived home, the taxi fare was $37. The normal fare was around $25, even after midnight. I asked why it was so expensive, and the taxi driver said that there was a surcharge after midnight. I believed that it was a non-standard taxi, but he appeared to be "blur".

In the past, the concierge would asked me if I wanted a non-standard taxi at a higher fare. That night, the concierge did not ask me. She just directed me to the specific taxi..I suspect that she was new to the job, or was being bribed by the taxi driver to direct a passenger to the higher fare taxi.

This is why I dislike the confusing taxi fare structure in Singapore. It is subject to abuse, The public could be conned when they are not aware about the higher fares.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Visit to Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou

I visited Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou in early May and spent a total of 5 days in these cities. It was a pleasant trip. I met many nice people and found the shopping and food to be very good in these cities.

I liked the early morning yam-cha in all the three cities. The food is good and the prices are inexpensive. The early morning crowd are mainly the elderly people, who spent their time in leisure to eat the dim-sum, read newspapers and chat with friends. What a contrast to the hectic life and the relative lack of socializing in Singapore.

The restaurants in all three cities are packed in the morning, afternoon and night. They have a high turnover of customers, indicating a high level of productivity. In spite of the large crowd, their service is excellent. They service staff are well trained.

Prior to this visit, I had the impression that it is not safe to be in Shenzhen and Guangzhou. This fear was unfounded. I did not face any problem with criminals in these cities. Everybody is busy with their work and daily activities.

Shenzhen has a population of 10 million, which is almost twice of Singapore. Guangzhou has a population of 15 million. It did not seemed to be too overcrowded.

I stayed at the Holiday Inn in Shifu, which is next to one of the popular pedestrian streets.  On my free morning, I took the underground train in Guangzhou for four stops to visit the shopping center in Beijing Road. The train system is well organized. It was quite full, but not packed. I liked their signage and the announcement of the stops. They numbered their train lines, which made it easy to remember. My station served Line 1 and Line 6.

I like Guangzhou and will make a longer visit in the near future.

ASEAN agreement

Kenneth Jeyaretnam writes about the ASEAN Agreement on Free Movement of Labour and the risk that this agreement poses to Singaporeans in competing for jobs in our own country. This agreement will come into effect in December 2015. It will also confer mutual recognition of qualifications for several professions.
Read this article. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

National productivity Fund

Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam wrote this open letter, published in his website, regarding the National Productivity Fund. He is concerned that a lot of money has been transferred into this fund and there is no accountability of the money spent. I share his concern. Link

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What is a life annuity and how does it work?

Suppose you have $400,000 in saving at age 65. You decide to set aside $100,000 as an emergency fund or to give to your children when you pass away. You invest $300,000 to get a monthly income.
You are told that the life expectancy for a normal person at age 65 is 20 years, and you belong to this category, i.e .you are not unhealty nor super healthy.
The insurance company (or CPF) offers you two choices:
a)  FIXED ANNUITY FOR 20 YEARS. You can get $1,840 per month payable for a fixed period of 20 years. If you die earlier, the balance of your savings will be paid to your family. However, the money will run out after 20 years, and you will get nothing after than.
b) LIFE ANNUITY. You will get $1,840 per month payable for your lifetime. If you die before 20 years, the balance of your savings will be kept in the fund to pay the monthly income for those who live beyond 20 years. If you live beyond 20 years, you will continue to get the monthly payment as it is taken from those who left the balances in the pool when they die.
Which annuity do you prefer - the fixed annuity for 20 years, or the life annuity?
Under the fixed annuity, you stand the risk that you will live beyond 20 years and your money would have run out by that time. Under the life annuity, you are assured of receiving the income for your lifetime, but it could be shorter or longer than 20 years. You are pooling your "longevity risk" with the other members of the pool.
Your decision will depend on your belief - do you like to pool your risk with the other members of the fund? This assumes that you belong to the group that expects to have a normal life expectancy, i.e. you do not have any reason to believe that you will die earlier or later than most people of the same age as you.
What is your choice?

Visit this website for the following information that may be useful to you:
Condo - details of condos in Singapore
Bus Service - find bus services at any bus stop, or all the stops for any service
Forms - locate forms from government agencies or business organisations (CPF now available, other forms will be provided
Find Word - help for this 4 picture-1 word game
Financial Planning - prepare your financial plan
Financial Projection - new format (being developed).
TKL books - under development.

Pinnacle Notes

If you are an investor in the Pinnacle Notes, please read this notice urgently.
Dear Mr Tan,
As you may know, the deadline for investors to claim their share of the Pinnacle settlement fund is 2 June.  Would you perhaps post some notice on your blog about the claim deadline?  Attached is an ad that we ran in the ST last week that contains all the relevant information for claiming.  Feel free to post the ad itself. 
Daniel Hume
Kirby McInerney LLP

Click here:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Land banking in Georgia USA

I received a letter from a UK lawyer that a comment posted in my blog is defamatory and asked me to remove the comment. I have done so.

I am surprised that this blog, which is already three years old, is still attracting the attention of the unnamed company X. Something must be happening here.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Do not invest in unregulated investments

Dear Mr Tan,
I read your blog.
Have you heard about this UFUN (
A lot of people (Spore, Msia, Thai) are investing and claim they are getting good returns in the first few months. Is this kind of investment safe?
They give dividends (in the form of e-token) to members and the returns are good.
They are inviting a lot of new members to join.
Each investment can be US$500, US$1000, US$5000, US$10000 and US$50000.
‎Pls comment if you know about this UFUN scheme and if some people have already fallen prey to this scheme.

I have not heard about this scheme. My comments below apply to questionable schemes in general and are not related to this specific scheme.

I would advice people to avoid investing money in schemes that are not regulated by the authority. It is easy to give your money away, but quite difficult to get it back.

Even if you are getting back the return, in the form of dividends or principle, remember that the money that is used to pay you may come from the investments of other people. Similarly, your money may be used to pay off the earlier investors.

This type of scheme is called a Ponzi scheme. The Ponzi scheme will grow as more and more people join. Eventually, when there are more people wishing to withdraw their investments, the scheme will close down and the promoters will disappear. The investors will not get their money back.

Lighten Medisave burden on self-employed seniors

Contributed by Dr. Tommy Wong

From 1 January 2014, the Medisave contribution rate for non-pensioners and for those who are age 60 and above is 9.5%. This rate applies to both employee (monthly wage ≥ $750) and self-employed (average monthly income > $1,500). There is a cap of $5,700- on the annual contribution for the self-employed. While this practice appears fair on surface, there is actually a hidden burden to the self-employed.

For the employee, the following table shows the contribution rates by the employer and employee to the employee’s CPF account. So even though the Medisave contribution rate is 9.5%, depending on the age, the employee's ​​contribution rate is ​7.5% or 5.0%.

Age (Years)
Contribution Rate (for monthly wages ≥ $750)
Contribution by Employer
(% of wage)
Contribution by Employee
(% of wage)
Total Contribution
(% of wage)
Above 60-65
Above 65

On the other hand, for the self-employed, since there is no employer’s contribution, they have to pay the entire 9.5% contribution all from their own income. So, compared to an employee, his take home pay is lower. For the self-employed whose financial situation is not well off, this is a real burden.

Can the Government review the Medisave contribution rate for the self-employed seniors so that their burden​ can be lightened?​

Dr. Tommy Wong is the author of the book series "Wisdom on How to Live Life" The ebook series can be ordered at His website is at

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to use the IRR function

 you have a complicated stream of cash flows under a life insurance policy, you can use the IRR function to calculate the yield, as explained here:

Internet banking is difficult with DBS Bank

If I use the standard of the internet banking system of DBS Bank as a gauge, I have to declare that the level of efficiency in Singapore is deplorable. It is so wasteful and inefficient. That is why Singapore has become so costly, and has achieved the distinction of being the most costly city in the world. 
Somehow, the impractical approach adopted by our regulars and businesses towards managing business risks has added layer of costs and waste to the economy. 
It can be so costly so to handle simple business transactions and to make payments.

Here is my painful experience. I spent one hour to make payroll for four employees through Internet Banking for DBS Bank today. 
As there were two new employees, I have to register them as "a new beneficiary". After registration, I could not find these beneficiaries. 
I called their hotline, listen to all kinds of irrelevant messages and spoke to their help staff. 
She asked me to click a few buttons, but none worked. She had to go and check their back end system and call me back.
My admin staff was at my side to double check that the entries were made correctly. She wasted one hour as well.
I may have to revert to paying by cheques.
This is the level of inefficiency that I have to encounter each month. My feedback to DBS Bank over the past year went through deaf ears. They don't care.
I could not move to another bank as they do not have a branch nearby.

Coal mining venture - is this a scam?

Is this investment a scam?

If you offer you a guaranteed interest rate and a buyback option, do you find it to be more acceptable?

Create a pseudo rural sector to raise the reproduction rate

In most countries, the marriage and child birth rate in the cities is low. This is due to the high cost and stress of city life. These countries have a rural sector where the cost of living is low and where most people married at a young age and raise many children.

These countries with a rural sector have an overall fertility rate that is higher than countries with a high urban population.

If Singapore wishes to increase our reproduction rate, we need to build a "rural sector" where some families can afford to marry at a younger age and raise a family. But it is not possible to have a real rural sector in Singapore due to our small land area and the high cost of housing.

We can create a pseudo rural sector which allows some families to marry at a younger age and raise a family.

 How can this be done?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Deductible under Medishield Life can be removed

I find it quite ridiculous that we take so much trouble to design a medical insurance scheme, called Medishield, that pays a small proportion of the hospital bill. It is better to change the scheme to cover a larger proportion of the hospital bill and make it more meaningful. 
One change is to remove the Deductible or reduce it to small amount. 
Here is the explanation

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hedging a stock portolio

I have $X invested in shares, mostly in Singapore. I do not like the events in Ukraine, Iraq and South China Sea. I wanted to sell some of my share holdings, but it will take some time. 
I decided, as an alternative, to sell $X in futures (S&P and Nikkei). If the stock market falls by 5%, I hope to be able to gain 5% on the futures. However, if the stock market rises by 5%, I will lose 5% on the futures. So, my net exposure should be nil.
My actual holdings in shares will not correlate exactly with the two indices that I have sold. So, there will still be a small net exposure, perhaps of 10% or so. It does not matter. At least, I am more than 90% protected.
When the events are resolved, I can remove the positions in the S&P and Nikkei and continue to hold my long stock position.
This is an example of using the futures to hedge an existing stock portfolio.

I use the online platform called It is easy to use and is much better than other platforms that I have tried previously.

Tan Kin Lian

Sunday, June 15, 2014

CPF milestones and timelines

5 July event in Hong Lim Park

I have decided to speak at the 5 July event in Hong Lim Park asking if Lee Hsien Loong is the right person to lead Singapore.

I hope that many of you will turn up to hear my speech. Do register in the page to show that you are joining the event. 

Question: will I support or oppose this motion? Come and hear my views.

A pathetic response from a Member of Parliament

The 76 year old lady begged for her CPF money to be returned to her. MP Hri Kumar could only say that these are the rules, and everyone must abide by the rules - good and bad. They cannot take the good without the bad.

I find the MP's reply to be pathetic. Surely an MP can give a better answer? Does the MP know that the lady, and many others, did not agree to the rules that lock away their CPF money?

A better answer from a good MP is - if you know how to take care of your money, if you know the consequences of your decision, and your personal circumstances justify the return of your CPF money, I will speak on your behalf to ask for your money to be returned to you.

And this special consideration should be given to other people who have good reason to take out their CPF money.

This will create some work for the MP and for CPF, but what are they elected or employed for? They have to use their judgment and do not implement rules blindly !

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Poor standard of our civil service

I applied to speak at Hong Lim Park and received an approval e-mail from the National Parks Board.

Dear applicant,

Your application to register your event has been approved. In registering your event, you have agreed to the Speakers’ Corner terms and conditions of approval for events and activities carried out at Speakers’ Corner, Hong Lim Park.

Please note that you will be required to apply for a police permit or licence if any of the organisers and speakers are not Singapore citizens, or if any of the participants are not Singapore citizens or permanent residents.

Please refer to the Public Order Act, Public Order (Unrestricted Area) Order 2013, Public Entertainments and Meetings Act and the Public Entertainments and Meetings (Speakers’ Corner)(Exemption) Order 2013 for information on the situations you will be required to apply for a police permit or public entertainment licence under existing laws.

As an organiser, you are responsible for ensuring that the laws are complied with. We also seek your cooperation in helping to keep Hong Lim Park litter-free.

Please print this page as proof of your registration and bring it on the day of your event. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Commissioner of Parks and Recreation

Dear National Parks Board,

There is no information in your email about the event that I have registered for, which you have approved.

There is something seriously wrong with our civil service. They cannot get a simple procedure right.
I am not an organizer of the event. I am just applying to speak. Their reply holds me responsible as an organizer.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Should I join Eldershield at 40?

Several people have asked for my views on whether it is advisable for them to buy Eldershield insurance.

Basic Eldershield is recommended and designed by the Ministry of Health and is underwritten by three insurance companies - NTUC Income, Great Eastern and Aviva. Each person, on reaching age 40 will be assigned to an insurance company at random, but is allowed to switch to another company.

Click here to read my views:

Life insurance - before and now

There was a time, long ago, when life insurance was good. The insurance company took your money, invest for the long term, earn a yield of 6.5% and give you a return of 5%, after expenses and profit. 

You are not able to earn a yield of 5% from other investments, except for quality shares, but most people do not know how to invest in these shares.

Today, life insurance gives a bad deal. The insurance company takes your money, earn a return of 5% and gives you a return of 2.5%, after expenses and profit.

You can get a good return by investing in an index fund, i.e. the STI ETF. This can give you a return of 6% or more. This gives you a payout that is more than 50% higher than the payout from a life insurance policy.

If you have a better choice, why put your money in a traditional or investment linked policy and get a poor return?

To learn more about how to invest in a better investment, attend this talk:

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