Sunday, January 31, 2016

Vacancy for Microsoft .NET developer

I have a vacancy for a Microsoft ASP.NET developer with at least one year of working experience. Applicant must be Singapore citizen, permanent resident or dependent pass holder. If you are interested, send your resume to kinlian@gmail.com.

Supplement to Eldershield

Many people bought supplement to Eldershield, which is a long term disability insurance. Eldershield pays them  a monthly income of $400 if they are severely disabled and need to stay in a nursing home or have a full time care giver. As the monthly benefit is inadequate, they buy the supplement to provide an additional benefit.

They ask me, "Mr. Tan, is it worth while to buy the Eldershield supplement? This is offered by many insurance companies under different product names".

A good way to determine if the insurance is worth buying is to look at the ratio between the claims and the premium. If you pay a premium of $1,000 a year and you get back $100 (on average) in claims, is it worth buying? Of course, insurance covers the extreme cases, so you may have a 1% chance of claiming for $10,000. If the claim payout is only 10%, surely it is a bad product?

What is a fair payout rate that makes the policy worth buying? The answer is 50% to 70%. If the total claim payout is 50% to 70% of the premium, the insurance product is worth buying.

How do you find out the claim payout under an insurance product? Fortunately, this information is provided in the website of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. I have extracted the data and put them in this website for your easy reference.

www.tklcloud.com/mas

The Eldershield supplement is classified as "Disability - Individual". You can view the results in this webpage:

http://tklcloud.com/MAS/publicview.aspx?class=20

The top four insurance companies are Great Eastern, NTUC Income, Aviva and AIA. They have an average claim payout of only 7%. However, as this product collects a premium for a limited period (usually up to 65 years) and provides cover for the whole of life, we have to look at the profit ratio.

The average profit ratio is 50%. Allowing for expense ratio of 20%, the long term claim ratio is only 30%. This is extremely high.

Conclusion - the payout for the Eldershield supplement is too low. Consumers are paying too a high premium for a small return. It is better for them to keep the premium as a "self insurance" plan.







Saturday, January 30, 2016

Long working hours in Singapore

Hello Mr Tan,

While surfing the internet on working hours in Singapore, i chanced upon an old article of yours:
http://tankinlian.blogspot.sg/2010/02/long-working-hours-in-singapore.html?m=1

6 years later, it seems that things haven't changed and people here are still putting in insanely long hours at work.

http://statestimesreview.com/2015/06/16/singapore-maintains-its-no-1-ranking-in-longest-working-hours-in-the-world/

Regards,
A Concerned Citizen

REPLY BY TAN KIN LIAN
Things will not change, if the government does not recognize this problem and take the lead to deal with it.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bernie Sander's tax

This article explains how the tax code will look like, if Bernie Sander gets elected as President and his proposals get passed by Congress (which will not be easy).

Looking at the charts, the tax rate will increase by 9% for income up to $250,000 a year, and by a higher percentage for income over this threshold. For a person earning $10 million or more, the income tax will increase by 34% to hit a top rate of 77%.

http://www.vox.com/2016/1/22/10814798/bernie-sanders-tax-rates

Wait a minute. This chart is not telling the correct picture.

America now spends 17% of GDP on health care. A large part of this expenditure comes from insurance premiums paid by individuals or their employers. Under Bernie Sander's health plan, a large part of the expenses will be paid by the Government. This point seemed to be overlooked.

If the saving is 17% of income, Bernie Sander's tax plan means that there will be a net saving of 8% for working families earning up to $250,000 a year. They will have a bigger disposable income.

Even if the saving is lower, there will still be a net savings, which may be lower than 8%.


Friday, January 22, 2016

If you are an American citizen, will you vote for Bernie Sanders as President?

Obamacare vs "Medicare for All"

President Obama fought very hard to get the Affordable Care Act passed in Congress. This Act has the nickname of Obamacare.

It has some significant benefits, namely:

a) Remove the restriction on pre-existing conditions
b) Achieve a net increase of 17 million people to be insured

It still has significant challenges, namely

a) 33 million people are still uninsured.
b) The insurance premium and deductibles have gone up
c) The health insurance companies have increased their profits significantly

Bernie Sanders have proposed a new scheme called "Medicare for All". It is a single payor system, i.e. the Government will pay the hospitals and doctors for health care provided to the insured people. This scheme will cover every eligible person.

What is the key difference between Obamacare and "Medicare for All"?

Answer: the role of the health insurance company will be removed. The Medicare will be the only insurer under this scheme.

This is a bold move. It is the right approach. By removing the private insurers under "Medicare for All", the cost of the health insurance is expected to fall by at least 10 to 20% (my estimate). This is the cost of marketing the insurance and the profit margin of the insurance companies.

There is still a role for private insurance to offer the top up or additional coverage on top of Medicare. This is the approach adopted in France.



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Medicare for all vs Obamacare


Bernie Sanders want to introduce "Medicare for All". Currently Medicare is available only for elderly people above 65 in America.

He said that, in spite of Obamacare, there are still over 20 million people who are not insured and the private insurance plans have high premiums and high deductibles.

He claims that his "Medicare for All" will reduce the cost to the working families by a few thousand dollars a year.

Hillary Clinton attacked him for undermining Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) and said that she wanted to work to improve Obamacare, rather than to replace it with a new system.

What is the difference between the Medicare for All and Obamacare?

I will give a prize (e-book on Medical Bills for the Elderly) to the first person who is able to explain the key difference.






Complicated CPF contribution rates

Many people are not aware about the burden that the government give on small businesses on just paying the CPF contributions.

The CPF contribution rates vary by type of worker (citizens, permanent residents in the first, second and third year), by age and by type of income.

Here is a very complicated table.
https://www.cpf.gov.sg/employers/employerguides/employer-guides/paying-cpf-contributions/cpf-contribution-and-allocation-rates

It is not possible to show all the calculations on one page, so there are additional pages in PDF to show the calculations.

The small employer has to engage an accountant or to buy a software just to carry out the difficult calculation. Reading the instructions can give them a headache. The admin staff working for the small employer cannot manage the complication.

I once saw the CPF sends many booklets to the employers to show the calculation. They know the trouble that is being faced. But they do not want to tell the government ministers about the necessary trouble that is imposed on the employers and on the CPF staff.

Wow!

Medicare for all

Bernie Sanders want to introduce a Medicare-for-all system in America to guarantee health care for everyone in America. This is to replace their current dysfunctional and costly health care system. He wants to follow the model in most advanced countries in Europe and Japan.

Singapore adopts the current health care system in America. If America change its health care system, Singapore will be among the few countries that follow an inefficient model.

Fortunately for Singapore, we do have a public sector that provides some form of competition to private health care. Our problem is that the public sector is following the bad practices of private health care in recent decades. There is still the opportunity to undo the damage that has allowed to rot our system.


Swing towards socialist policies

In the history of many nations, the people swing towards capitalist policies for a few decades and then swing towards socialist policies.

Each system has its strengths and weaknesses.

A capitalist system initially produces a vigorous economy. At its later stages, the income disparity widened and the rich became greedy. The people then voted for socialist policies.

The time has come for America to change towards socialist policies. They will elect President Bernie Sanders.

Best countries survey


Singapore ranked #15 in this survey, behind many European countries and Japan and ahead of China ans South Korea.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/01/20/these-are-the-worlds-best-countries-sorry-america-youre-number-4/?tid=sm_fb

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

ST index falling to 2500

The ST index will be falling to my target to 2500 soon. It is likely to fall further. I will wait for 1 or 2 weeks before investing in the STI ETF for the long term.


Monday, January 18, 2016

GPRS communication protocol

I am looking for a developer who knows how to handle GPRS Communication Protocol to transfer date between a GPS Tracker and the server. If you are interested to develop this software, send email to kinlian@gmail.com.


Change to the elected president system?

Ha! I told you so.
The PAP will scrap the elected president system.
It is round the corner (at least, that is my prediction).
http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/lets-talk-about-policy-failures-and-the-elected-presidency

Candidates give the same messages at various rallies

I have watched on Youtube several speeches given by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders at their rallies in many states. They keep repeating the same points in all their rallies. So, it is not difficult for them, except for the hectic travels.

I just watched a few speeches by Hillary Clinton. Maybe, she does not speak as much as the other two candidates.

Hillary Clinton is still ahead in the polls


Does a convicted criminal try to kill the prosecution lawyer after leaving jail?

Just a joke:

Someone said: I once worked with a prosecutor who had obtained a conviction in a nasty murder case. The murderer swore he'd kill the prosecutor when he got out.

After the killer got paroled, I asked the prosecutor if he was worried.

"No," he responded with a smile. "I'll have plenty of warning. He'll try to kill his defense lawyer first."

US Presidential Election 2016


My first choice for President of the United States 2016 is Bernie Sanders. I like his economic agenda - to create jobs, to improve social security and health care, to give a minimum wage. He receives donations from ordinary people - the highest number of donations in the history of this election.

My second choice is Donald Trump. I like his approach in addressing the real issues that face America and his ability to get things done. He is self funding his campaign.

My third choice is Hillary Clinton.

Go to Youtube, type in the names of the candidates and watch their rallies.

Life of a hawker




Someone wrote this story:

I helped out my dad for a short period while he was a hawker. 
 
I have to say you feel more motivated to study hard, graduate and earn more money to care for your parents.
 
You feel stressed that your parents are extremely stressed out plus the fact that people who comment "how come so expensive" when they buy food from your stall gets on your nerves. 
 
You will see every weekday, after they close the stall, your parents doing lots of prep work and waking up early around 4am to bring food to the stall to prepare. 
 
Every weekend without fail, your dad will get up early to buy food in bulk, prepare them for Monday. Worrying about utilities, gas, food expenses stressing them out, my dad was in a mess, his temper was at its worst.
 
I washed my share of dishes. I hate washing dishes and especially hate getting dirty, but I had no choice. I had to clean the floor, learn how to sell economical vegetarian rice, memorise the prices and hope to give correct change.
 
But on the other hand, whenever my dad cooked food I like, I had first grabs. I got fatter due to eating all the time. Time spent with my parents after we closed the stall was nice, seeing my dad cycle while mum sat on the back seat of his bicycle made me want to find a guy like my dad (simple, hardworking, showing his love through actions not words).
 
Luckily the bad/good times didn't last, we couldn't afford to maintain the high rent, and moved out of the hawker centre. Life is a bit better with me working currently. I hope it lasts.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Long working hours in Singapore





Mr Tan,

Recently, I've been reading up many news reports about Singaporeans being unhappy with the work-life balance in our country.

Some are some examples:

1. http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/more-unhappy-work-life-balance-here-says-survey

2. http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/work-demands-getting-in-the-way-of-family-time-survey

3. http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/more-young-professionals-suffering-from-burn-out

It is especially sad that while our government wants our young professionals to start their own families to improve the country's fertility rates (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw_VdsPQxA0), they are doing almost nothing to address the long working hours which can affect the social life of our people.

Nurturing a child can be challenging especially when both parents have to work equally hard to pay for expenses such as their HDB flat, the cheapest of which can be up a few hundred thousand dollars.

Singaporeans are generally known to work more than 40 hours per week, and yet are reportedly one of the least productive in the world.
(http://www.transitioning.org/2012/08/22/singaporeans-work-longest-hours-in-the-world-but-least-productive-worldwide/)

The long working hours neither help in our economy, nor do they help in improving our lives. Surely it is time we re-examine this system of ours?

Regards,
A Young Singaporean Adult

MY COMMENT
Most countries address this issue by setting out labor standards, e.g. maximum work week, overtime pay, minimum wages and giving better protection for workers. Singapore is lacking in these areas.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Is CPF adequate for retirement?


A retired banker said that the recent CPF changes do not go far enough to address retirement needs.
http://theindependent.sg/cpf-changes-dont-go-far-to-address-retirement-needs-claims-retired-banker/

I agree with this view. However, the gap should be covered by personal savings, rather than by adding more contribution to the CPF scheme.

Here is how it can be done.

The government set out the special account to make sure that about 15% of the wages are set aside for retirement. This provides a floor. It should be supplemented by an additional saving of 15% of wages outside of CPF. The additional savings can be used for emergencies, education and unemployment.

This is explained in my book on financial planning (http://c-pearl.com/cart.aspx?ID=19),

It is also explained in my talk which will be held on 9 April.
http://c-onyx.com/page/2371

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Best O Level Results

The Ministry of Education had taken an important step of not naming the top students in the recent O level examinations.

I agree with this move. But will they take the next step to stop giving overseas scholarships to the top students? The money spend on these scholarships could be used to provide better financial support for needy students. 

I prefer that the schools prepare a large number of students to be educated in a broader sense, rather than focus mainly on academic results. The future leaders can come out to the working world and develop their skills and knowledge in the real world environment. Let the true talents come out in this way.

We have many examples of the most talented people who did not have a university degree but have became successful entrepreneurs. 








Monday, January 11, 2016

Rent an office desk to start a business

If you wish to start your own business and is not able to work from home, you can rent an office desk.
http://leaseproperty.sg/Search.aspx?type=Office&dist&avail

How to prepare soursop leaf tea

David Soh has been trying the soursop tea leaf tea on his family members and friends for the past two years. He advised that the tea should be taken 1/2 hour before each meal. This allows the cancer cells to feed on the soursop leaf tea. He has seen good results, but is not able to give you any "scientific proof". But the lab readings have been positive.

This is how the soursop leaf has to be prepared.
http://soursopleaftea.com/page/4

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Condo software is being developed

Dear Mr. Tan
I am in the management council of a condo. Will you be able to demonstrate your condo software to the council?

REPLY
The software is now being developed and tested. You can view the features of the software from this PDF
http://c-onyx.com/page/2370

It will be available for demo at end January.

A nuclear war

If you are the leader of a major power with nuclear weapons and you are drawn into a major conflict with another nuclear power, here are some questions that you have to answer:

a) Will you avoid using nuclear weapons as the other power will retaliate with nuclear weapons?

b) When you resort to nuclear weapons if you are losing the war with conventional weapons?

c) If you are winning the war, will you avoid pushing the other party to the brink, as they might use nuclear weapon as a last resort?

d) If you are confident that you have a defense against their nuclear weapons, will you use your nuclear weapon to wipe out the other side, knowing the heavy cost in human casualties?

These are difficult issues that have to be faced by the president of the nuclear power. In a war, events happen suddenly and quickly. It is easy to make a major mistake.


100% of the people who voted is against using the name of Eunoia for the new junior college in Sin Ming.
You can list a shop for rental in this website

Lessons from World War Two


World War Two ended in 1945. The total casualties in that was was 60 million people. 40% are combatants and 60% are civilians.

The world has avoided a large scale world war for 70 years. There were a few major wars, such as the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Gulf War but nowhere near the scale of World War Two. There were also several civil wars in Africa, Middle East and in Bosnia.

The Cold War between USA and USSR ended in 1991.

Some people regard the events in 2015 with alarm, especially the war against ISIS and the large powers, such as Russia and USA, taking different sides. Will this escalate to a large scale war? Most people think that it would be averted, but accidents can happen.

Many videos on YouTube are giving alarming messages.

The lessons of World War One did not prevent the happening of World War Two. Will the lessons of World World Two be forgotten after 70 years?






Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Leasing Portal - summary of properties for rental

Here is a summary of the properties available for rental, 
http://www.leaseproperty.sg/summary.aspx

The types of properties are residential, office, shop, factory. The districts are north, south, east, west, central and north-east. The properties are also listed according to the available month.

The website is
http://www.leaseproperty.sg




Let the supplier make his margin

I met an old friend who was once a supplier of office equipment to my previous company. He related an incident to me, about 15 years ago, that I had forgotten.

One day, I visited his shop with my purchasing executive to look at some new printers. He demonstrated the printers and quoted a price that was quite inexpensive and the printers were useful.

My purchasing executive tried to press down the price, by stating that he could find any supplier to offer them at a lower price.

I told the purchasing executive. "The price is reasonable. There is no need to press down the price. Let him make his margin. He needs to earn enough to pay his expenses".

I have forgotten about this matter. But he remembered it until today. He was grateful that I was willing to help him at a time when he was struggling to build a business.


Monday, January 04, 2016

A new world order under Donald Trump

Mr Tan,
I thought you supported Hilary Clinton previously. Why do you change your support to Donald Trump (if I ready your sentiment correctly)?

REPLY
I like the policies and strategies articulated by Donald Trump. He wants to bring jobs back to America. That is essential to "make America great again".

This will require America to be more protectionist. I also support this policy. I have written a few years ago about the need for a limited return to protectionism. http://c-onyx.com/pdf/322

Donald Trump has the following positive qualities:
a) He is honest
b) He talks straight
c) He knows the problem and the root of the problem
d) He know how to deal with them
e) He is not beholden to the special interest and the lobby groups.

He also have a few negative qualities. But they are small relative to the positive qualities.

It is strange that someone who comes from the Republican party is now more pro-people, pro-jobs and pro-protectionism than the Democrats.

I had high hopes when Barack Obama become President and appointed HIllary Clinton as the Secretary of State. Unfortunately, they were not able to solve the problems faced by America and the world.

I think that Donald Trump will introduce a new approach. I hope that he will be successful in doing what needs to be done.

I also believe that the world will become a better place when America is great and strong again, and the world becomes more protectionist.

No fee payable for listing a rental property


Dear Mr. Tan
You said that listing a rental property in the leasing portal is free for the time being. When do you plan to introduce a fee?

When I get a tenant, do I have to pay a fee at that time?

REPLY
There is no plans to introduce a listing fee for the foreseeable future.
When you get a tenant, you do not have to pay any fee.
Good luck.

The website is
www.leaseproperty.sg

Why live in a condo?

If you live in a condo, you can ask your MCST or council to look at this software. It will improve service to all residents and help the MCST to reduce its operating cost (and maintenance fee) over the long run.

Improve you sales results

If you have to manage a team of sales people and you find that they are not as productive as you like, or you have problem in checking on the customers that they are following up, you will find this CRM software to be useful.

It is easy to implement, inexpensive, and can make your sales people more productive - just by keeping simple records for follow up.

http://c-onyx.com/pdf/2369

Singapore Flyer needs to improve their website



Why is the London Eye doing so well, and the Singapore Flyer is struggling?

I gave my views here:
http://tankinlian.blogspot.sg/…/london-eye-vs-singapore-fly…

Several people have commented that the poor location of the Singapore Flyer is a big factor. And competition from Marina Bay Sands is another.

I agree with the views on location and the competition. But these are physical factors that cannot be changed now.

There is no need for the Singapore Flyer to have a badly designed and confusing website. There will be many tourists who hear about the Singapore Flyer and want to read about it before they decide to visit it. They will be put off (like I did) with the website.

There are things that can be done, and other things that cannot be done. I hope that the management of the Singapore Flyer will improve their website and bring in some of the visitors that they lost unnecessarily.

President Trump and the return to protectionism



President Trump
Donald Trump is likely to be the next president of the United States. He will "make America great again". He will bring jobs back into America.

How will be do it? He will create a wall to stop illegal immigration. He will return the Syrian refugees back to their country. He will impose a tax of 35% on cars made in Mexico and exported to America. He will re-negotiate the global trade agreements. He wants to negotiate "smartly".

Impact on America
America was great in the days when there were plenty of jobs in America and a large middle class. They earn good wages and global trade was a smaller proportion of their economy at that time. Things were more expensive, relative to wages, in America in those day, but they got along fine. Perhaps they spend a bigger proportion of their wages on cars and other "made in USA" products, and have less to spend on houses. Which meant that houses were more affordable, and that was a good thing.

The American economy is big. They can afford to be protectionist. And the people will do better when there is a greater certainty of jobs in the country. With a stronger economy and more real jobs in the country, the government can collect more taxes and reduce their deficit and debts.

The American voters like his message (as evidenced by his strong poll standing).

Impact on China.
How will this impact the China economy? They have already embarked on a policy of domestic consumption. The leaders in China are smart and visionary.

Their economy is big enough for them for them to do well with a reduced volume of global trade. They will sell less to the world, but what is the point of selling more and keeping the surplus in US dollars and US treasury bonds?

The same situation will also apply to Japan and South Korea.

Impact on Singapore
Small countries like Singapore may be hurt by a more protectionist world. But we can also adjust.

We do not really need to bring in many foreigners to serve the global economy or the global financial sector. With a smaller economy due to diminished global trade, we will have less jobs for foreigners. The remaining jobs can be done by Singaporeans.

What about the jobs that Singaporeans do not like to do? We need to pay higher wages for our technical and skill workers to attract the locals to do the jobs. The Germans, Australians and many other countries have found the solution through higher wages. Singapore will also have to follow this route.

But we can take in a limited number of immigrants to do these jobs, and give them permanent residency, like our forefathers who migrated into Singapore.

Will higher cost of labor lead to higher cost of living in Singapore? Yes. But that meant less spending on houses (and house prices will be cheaper) and on cars. And that will also be a good thing.

The Singapore government will have a smaller budget surplus. They cannot afford to pay outrageous salaries to their ministers. And that would be another good thing.

My view
The big global corporations and their lobbyists will fight against Donald Trump. Most of the politicians in America, who depend on funding from the lobbyists and special interest groups, will also fight against Donald Trump.

But the majority of voters will be "smart". They will vote Donald Trump to be the President of the United States in 2016.

I personally welcome a change to a more protectionist world. It will reduce the income gap in most countries and lead to a more stable society. Ordinary people will feel more secure about jobs, the cost of living and the future for their families. They can have a more balanced and happier life.

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