Thursday, May 26, 2016

A poor deal for their customers

Dear Mr Tan,

I notice that the policies from various insurance companies mostly work on the same pattern.

1. Low guaranteed returns
2. High but non-guaranteed returns.
3. Long break-even period.

Do you know why they don't have anything more innovative and provides a decent deal for the customers?

They make more profit by giving a poor deal to their customers.
They provide low guaranteed returns so that they can make a good profit on early withdrawal or "surrender" of the policy.
They give high, non-guaranteed return to make the policy look good on maturity. However, a high component of the return is not guaranteed.

Bernie Sanders gets another senator to speak to his supporters

Sisters and Brothers -
When I introduced a bill in the Senate that would slow the effects of climate change, I knew that I could count on Bernie Sanders to stand with me from the very first day.
Last year Bernie and I introduced the Keep It in the Ground Act, which would prevent new fracking, coal mining, and oil drilling on federal lands, as well as all new offshore oil drilling.
Bernie and I are committed to this fight because we know we can – and must – slow the pace of climate change. Scientists tell us that we need to keep 80 percent of remaining fossil fuels in the ground to prevent the worst effects of climate change.
To stop climate change from destroying our planet, we must act quickly and boldly to bring an end to the extraction and exploitation of fossil fuels in lands owned by the American people.
Not one more lease to extract coal.

Not one more license for fracking.

Not a single additional offshore oil drilling rig.
We must keep 80 percent of the world’s proven reserves in the ground – and the Keep It in the Ground Act is a powerful step toward this goal to avert climate catastrophe.
The fossil fuel industry is geared up for a fight. The Koch Brothers want us to fail, and we expect heavy resistance from people who profit off of the destruction of our planet.
Showing tremendous public support will help pass the Keep It in the Ground Act – will you be a partner with me and Bernie in this movement to fight climate change?
We’re building a movement to take on climate change and speed up our transition to clean, renewable energy. We need to act together and we need to act now.
Jeff Merkley
U.S. Senator from Oregon

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

An unusual Singaporean

Thomas (not his real name) came to see me on three separate occasions. His friend recommended a Prulink policy to him. He wanted my opinion about the policy.

I asked him to send the benefit illustration to me. He did. I analyzed the policy and presented my report to him. He insisted on seeing me, and indicated that he would pay my consulting fee.

I asked him to make a donation to FISCA instead. On each visit, he wrote a cheque for $250. I spent between 1 to 2 hours to explain the policy to him. He had several related questions and wanted my explanation.

He made three visits and donated a total of $750 towards FISCA.

I find him to be an unusual Singaporean. He was willing to pay for consulting fees, even though he could have avoided it.

Thomas felt that the fee was worth it, as it saved him a few tens of thousands from making a bad investment. 

Max Growth Plus

The Max Growth Plus a policy which requires premium to be paid for 6 years. The policy matures at the end of 12 years.

The return on the policy at maturity is quite modest, slightly less than 3% per annum.

The risk is that the policyholder may have to terminate the policy before the maturity date. In that case, he is likely to lose a large sum of his savings.

As the yield on maturity is not attractive, it is not advisable for the policyholder to buy this policy and take the risk of suffering a large loss on early withdrawal.

Read more details from the PDF here.

We need a law on renewal of leases

The food court in Thomson Plaza was operated by Kopitiam for many years. One day, customers saw different stalls. A new operator, Koufu, had taken over.

The convenience store at Yio Chu Kang MRT station was operated by Cheers for many years. A new operator, 7-eleven, took over.

Did the consumers benefit from the change of operators? Did they get a better selection of food or daily necessities? Did you enjoy lower prices? No! They probably end up paying more.

The original tenants did not give up the outlets because they failed in their business. They continue to do well and opened more outlets at other locations. They gave up the existing outlets because a new operator submitted a higher bid for the lease of their premises.

The new operators had to spend a considerable sum of money to renovate the outlets. The higher rental and renovation costs must be recovered through higher prices charged to the consumers.

This type of change of operators had been happening all over the place for many year. This is how the cost of living continues to escalate in the most expensive city in the world. This bad practice has to stop. How can it be done?

We need our parliament to pass a law regarding renewal of leases. The existing tenants must be given the option to renew the lease at the existing rental plus an adjustment for inflation. A further adjustment may be allowed if the existing rental is more than 10% below the market - which can be determined by market data available from the tax authority.

This law will be fair to both tenants and landlords. It will stop the wasteful practice that is prevalent in Singapore. It might help to moderate the cost of doing business and the prices charged to consumers.

Bernie Sanders endorse several candidates for Congress and state legislatures

Sisters and Brothers -
No president, not Bernie Sanders, not the greatest president you could possibly imagine, can take on the billionaire class alone. And that’s because change never happens from the top down, it always occurs from the bottom up.
That’s why today I am announcing my support for eight progressive state legislative candidates who embody the spirit of our political revolution.
Today, they are state representatives running for re-election or challenging to win their first race. Tomorrow, they’ll be progressives running for Congress and maybe even the presidency. And in 2020, they’ll help determine how congressional districts are drawn for the remainder of the next decade — a key to Democrats taking back and holding the House of Representatives for the decade to come.
It’s up to us to transform the future of the Democratic Party, and that’s why I am proud to ask:
Justin Bamberg is a state representative from South Carolina who was an early endorser of Hillary Clinton’s campaign but switched his endorsement before the primary because of Bernie’s work for "racial, social, and economic justice." Justin won his last election by ONLY 113 votes and needs our support in what’s sure to be another close race this November.
David Bowen is the son of Jamaican immigrants who is running for his second term in the Wisconsin State Legislature. He fought for and won a living wage for Milwaukee city employees and is a progressive champion Wisconsin needs.
Clara Hart is a refugee from Mozambique whose family fled from violence when she was just 8 years old. Now she's running for the South Dakota House, where she hopes to continue her work for immigrant families.
Terry Alexander is a representative in the South Carolina legislature who supports raising the minimum wage, expanding health care, and protecting the right to vote. He is a courageous legislator who I'm proud to support.
Carol Ammons became the first African-American woman to win election in her district of the Illinois State Legislature, scoring an upset election victory against a well-funded establishment opponent. She's fighting for progressive issues and candidates and deserves our support.
Chris Pearson is running for the Vermont State Senate after spending four terms in the Vermont House of Representatives. He is a champion on the issues of livable wages, strong labor union advocacy, climate change, and voting rights. This year he was able to pass a bill into law for automatic voter registration. Chris is a good friend of working people and of mine.
Jane Kim is the first Korean American to win election in San Francisco, and she's running to become a California state senator. The daughter of immigrants, Jane is a civil rights attorney who's fought for affordable housing and fair wages in her city.
Joe Salazar is a representative to Colorado's state house who is a tireless advocate for stopping fracking, protecting civil rights, and advancing criminal justice reform. He won his last election by just 221 votes, and your support will go a long way to helping him win this year.
We are going to keep fighting for every vote, every delegate, and every state, but this moment also requires helping progressives who are fighting for change at the local level. That is the political revolution, and that’s why splitting your contribution between our campaign and this great slate of local candidates is so important.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hybrid products sold be banks should be banned

Some banks sell hybrid products, such as the following example.

You can get a higher interest rate on your fixed deposit provided that you also invest in a life insurance policy.

The bank may offer an interest rate of 3.3% on the deposit (when the normal interest rate is say 1% lower) provided that a certain amount is invested in the insurance product.

I have come across many cases where the customer is not properly informed about the insurance product. As it is sold as a secondary product, the customer does not pay sufficient attention to understand the features of the product.

In some cases, they think that they are investing in another investment and are not aware that it is a life insurance policy that has a high penalty if the regular premium is not paid.

In some cases, they were given the impression that it is a 5 year policy when the 5 year is the period of premium payment and the policy will only mature after 10 years.

In some cases, they were not aware that the policy requires the premiums to be paid for several years. They were under the impression that it is a one time investment.

The customers are usually assured that they can get back their money at any time, and were not aware that the withdrawal amount, or surrender value, is far less than the invested amount. They have to suffer a large penalty on withdrawal before the maturity date. In other words, the investment could be locked up for 5 years, 10 years or even longer.

The risk of mis-selling is high when the life insurance is sold as a secondary investment to accompany a higher rate of interest paid on the fixed deposit.

Due to this risk of mis-selling, which is quite rampant, the Monetary Authority of Singapore should ban the sale of these hybrid products.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Prepare for a world of tariffs

If Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders becomes the President, America will introduce tariffs on products that are imported into the country. Donald Trump referred to tariffs of 35% for cars entering the country. Bernie Sanders did not state any figure, but he probably have to use the same approach.

Even if Hillary Clinton is elected as President, she would come under the same pressure to introduce tariffs to bring the jobs back to America.

My view is that it is good for countries to introduce tariffs. This is the only way to protect jobs in their country. The disappearance of the middle class, due to reduction of wages caused by global competition, is not good for any country.  It has lead to social tensions and unrest.

Here are some good effects on the introduction of tariffs:

a) The government collects revenue form the import tariffs.
b) The additional revenue can allow the government to provide better public services without increasing taxation.
c) The higher prices for imported goods encourages companies to produce the goods within the country and to pay higher wages to the local workers.
d) The price of consumer goods will increase, but not to the same extent of the tariffs. Corporate profits and top management salaries will have to adjust downwards to offset part of the tariffs.
e) The government may be able to reduce the VAT or sales tax, as they now have an additional source of revenue from the import tariffs.
f) There is less need for countries to adjust their currency values to become more competitive in their exports.

There could be some negative effects on the re-introduction of tariffs into the global trading system, but they are likely to be more than compensated by the positive effects.

I am in favor of introducing tariffs into the new global trading system.

US polls on the November general election

The latest polls shows that Hillary Clinton might lose to Donald Trump. But Bernie Sanders will beat Donald Trump by a big margin.

Say "No" to "Corporate Greed"

When a profitable company retrench its local workers by outsourcing their jobs to low wage countries, the company is engaging in "corporate greed".
We need a government that knows how to deal with this kind of unacceptable behavior. Does the PAP government have this ability to look after the interest of its citizens?
Prabu Ramachandran
7 hrsSingapore
Globalisation is the biggest myth, bullshit & lie that we have been fed. 1500 jobs from DBS outsourced to India. Orchard Road retail belt is failing. These 2 may seem un related but they are part of economics and the bigger economy.
Taxi companies are being challenged by 3rd party app companies, this benefits the consumer and the drivers as it created a new market.
Singtel we know outsources local call receivers to KL & Malacca to save on the SGDMYR exchange rate. These companies are backed by Temasek Holdings which is supposed to be SINGAPOREANS' national fund management. It makes sense that they should act in the interest of Singaporeans & creating jobs for Singaporeans.

ASEAN agreement on free movement of labor

Has Singaporeans woken up to this development? Are they still in slumber? Will they only wake up when they have lost their jobs to low cost foreigners?

Dealing with tax havens

This is how the UK government wishes to deal with tax havens.
Perhaps the Singapore government should set up similar measures?

Bernie Sander's campaign supports another candidate to challenge the current head of the Democratic National Committee

Sisters and Brothers -
The political revolution is not just about electing a president. We need a Congress with members who believe, like Bernie, that we cannot change a corrupt system by taking its money.
So let me introduce you to Tim Canova, a progressive challenger who is running against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a Democratic primary in Florida this year.
Tim endorsed Bernie’s presidential campaign, and was inspired to run because of Wasserman Schultz’ support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His campaign is funded like ours, by lots of people giving small amounts of money.
And on issues like taking on Wall Street, making tuition free at public colleges, and reforming our broken campaign finance system, he is someone you can be proud to support. That's why Bernie is endorsing Tim's campaign, and why we’re proud to ask:
A few weeks ago, we raised a tremendous amount of money for three progressive candidates for Congress. Your support changed their races overnight. In the days ahead, we’re going to add a dozen or more additional candidates to that list.
We’re doing this because it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics. We need real change. We need U.S. Senators, members of Congress and state legislators who have the guts to take on the big money interests whose greed is destroying the American middle class.
Tim Canova is one of those candidates, and I hope you’ll join Bernie in support of his campaign:
Thank you for powering this political revolution.
All my best,

Jeff Weaver
Campaign Manager
Bernie 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Invest our efforts at home and in nearby countries

Whenever the Singapore economy is in trouble, we see our leaders travelling around the world to open opportunities in other countries. Like this visit.

Does the PM realize that similar visits in past years did not produce the positive results? Such as the visits to India and several other countries? It seemed that the flow of the business opportunities went in the other direction.

There are so many opportunities to be developed in Singapore, such as our infrastructure, transport, education, health and public services and improving the efficiency of our financial services and business processes. It is better to focus the attention at home.

There are also business opportunities in neighboring countries, where our old relationships, business ties and familiarity with the business environment give us an advantage.

There are still issues to be sorted out between the respective governments. It is better to spend the time to work on these issues.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bernie Sander's political revolution

When we started this campaign, my greatest fear was that if we did not do well that it would be a setback not just for me, but for the ideas driving our campaign.
We had no campaign organization, no money, and very little name recognition. The corporate media called us "fringe," we were taking on the entire Democratic establishment, and we were down 60 points or more in the national polls.
Then a supporter from Chicago, Illinois made the first contribution to our campaign — for $3. A few minutes later, $50 from a supporter in California, then $10 from someone in Georgia. A little more than 12 months laterI am humbled to share that our campaign has received more than 7.6 million contributions through April, more than any presidential candidate at this point in a campaign ever. And we’re just getting started.
Your support has powered us to 21 victories and a much larger lead against Donald Trump than Secretary Clinton’s campaign. So we’ve created a website to show everyone the depth and diversity of our political revolution. It’s very important that you visit and share it with everyone you know today.
- Bernie
Take a look at our new website showing the depth of our political revolution

Friday, May 20, 2016

Gods in the ivory tower of MAS

The "gods" living in the ivory tower of the Monetary Authority of Singapore are concerned about internet security.

They passed a decree to the banks, stockbrokers and other denizens in the financial sector to impose a high standard of internet security, including the following:

a) All passwords must be a strong password forming a combination of capital letter, small letters, numbers and special characters.

b) The passwords must be changed at regular intervals and cannot be reused in the future.

What the gods did not realize is that an ordinary citizen, like me, is impacted in a most severe way. I have to maintain a confusing arrays of passwords for the following:

a) Two Paypal accounts - personal and corporate
b) One CDP account - using Singpass
c) Several stockbroking accounts for investments and trading

The administrators of these websites have different definitions of what is a strong password - so I cannot use a common password for some of these accounts. The regular change of passwords is a nightmare. The change request usually occurs at a bad moment, when I do not have the time to pay attention.

The outcome? I have to write down all the passwords in a notebook. It can be accessed by anyone who finds my notebook (isn't it risky?). Sometimes, I forget to update my notebook with the change in password and cannot remember the "funny" password that was created at the last change.

My online experience is now a nightmare - thanks to the "gods" in the ivory tower of the MAS.

Compare the Hong Kong MTR and Singapore MRT

This article compares the Hong Kong MTR with Singapore's MRT.

It also reflects the difference in emphasis of the government of Hong Kong and Singapore. The Hong Kong government is much better in looking after the interest of its citizens. The Singapore government is "out of this world" and "in the clouds".…/how-successful-is-hong-kongs-mtr-co…/

A ridiculous structure of taxi fares

The government allows each taxi companies to set their own fares. This can produce a ridiculous situation that occurs daily.

At the airport queue for taxis, the usher asked the passenger in front of me. Do you want the Mercedes taxi with starting fare of $3.90. No. Do you want the Chrysler with staring fare of $3.90. No. Do you want the Maxi Cab with starting fare of $5. No.

The usher went down the queue to ask the same sets of questions to every passenger. The answer is still "No".

 These expensive taxis occupy three spaces and must have been there for some time. The poor usher, who speaks with a foreign accent, must have asked the question 10 to 20 times before a passenger take the "offer".

The usher is not telling the complete fact. It is not just an increase in the starting fare. There is also an increase on the distance fare. My usual fare of $25 could earn up 30% higher with the expensive fare.

This ridiculous situation must be occurring for many years, not only at the airport but all over Singapore. Our million dollar ministers are not aware of it, or maybe they don't care.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bernie Sanders is likely to win Kentucky State

With 95% of the votes counted, Bernie Sanders is ahead of Hillary Clinton by a whisker, less than 1%. It is a virtual tie.
This is a great achievement for Bernie Sanders. The voters of Kentucky have supported the Bill and Hillary Clinton for the past two decades.
Bernie Sanders has achieved an upset victory!

It is not cool to not know what you are talking about

A great speech by Barack Obama. He is subtly negative of Donald Trump.

How to get the Amazing Number cards

Mr. Tan
Where can I get the Amazing Number cards?

You can order them here. You pay $6 for 4 sets of cards. It makes a wonderful gift.
Great news - postage is FREE for the time being.

Watch the video here

Display the sequential stop number in the bus

Here is a simple and inexpensive solution to make travelling easier for the public. The bus operator should install a sequential stop number to be displayed in the bus when it arrived at each stop. This allows the passengers to know if they have arrived at the right stop, Even if they are familiar with the road, they cannot see the landmark when they are travelling at night, when it is raining heavily or the bus is crowded.…/bus-should-display-sequenti…

We do not need the transport minister to be paid a million dollars a year. He only needs to be aware that there is a problem with the current system, and take feedback from the public on how it can be solved.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Secret of the Amazing Number cards.

I created the Amazing Number game with 7 cards. These cards have starting numbers of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64.

For any selected number, I find the combination of starting numbers that make up that number. For example, the number 13 is made from 1 + 4 + 8. So, I put the number 13 on these 3 cards.

If someone chooses 13 as the secret number, they will find it on the three cards starting with 1, 4, and 8. When they give the 3 cards to me, I add the starting numbers (1, 4 and 8) to get 13.

Easy, isn't it? This is the secret of "reverse engineering".

A good chance for Donald Trump to be elected as President

There is a good chance that Donald Trump will be elected as President of the USA. Here are the reasons:

1.  Hillary Clinton might be indicted for the email scandal. Even if she is not indicated, Donald Trump can focus on this issue to his advantage.

2. If Hillary Clinton is indicted, the establishment Democrats are likely to nominate Joe Biden as the candidate. This will anger the Bernie Sanders supporters. Many of them will not vote in the election or will vote for Donald Trump.

3. The polls have recently changed in favor of Donald Trump. The strong lead of more than 10 points held by Hillary Clinton in the polls have now virtually disappeared. Donald Trump is now ahead in some polls.

4. Donald Trump has shown a remarkable capability of attracting large numbers of voters to support his views and position. When it comes to the general election, he is likely to continue this trend.

5. Donald Trump has recently taken a more moderate position on many of the extreme views that he articulated earlier. He is now seen in a more positive light.

Making a will - list of assets

Dear Mr. Tan
I attended a talk by a lawyer about making a will. The lawyer want to charge $250 for the will. Is this fair? The lawyer said that if I do not have a will, my children will have trouble in recovering my savings and investments. They will have to spend a lot of money to get the "letters of administration".

The lawyer also asked me to provide a full list of my assets. He said that this will make it easy for my children to claim the assets when I pass away.  Is it necessary? What happens if my assets change in the future?

It is a fair to pay $250 to make a will. When you make a will, you can appoint two people to be the executors of the will. It will be easier for the court to grant the probate, i.e. to appoint the executors to take charge of the estate. This will prevent any dispute among the family members. The lawyer will also ensure that the will is properly executed in accordance with the law.

When you write your will, you will have to specify how your estate is to be distributed. You can specify a specified sum of money to be given to each child or grandchildren or to your siblings, nieces, nephews or other relatives and friends. You can also donate some money to charity.

You can also specify how the balance of your estate is to be distributed. Usually, you will indicate how many percent of the balance goes to each child or to your spouse.

There is no need to provide a list of assets to your lawyer. It is better to keep this information away from the lawyer, especially as you do not know if your lawyer can be trusted.

You should have a list of assets kept in your home, so that your executors will be able to locate them. They may need to get the lawyer to file the proper documents to take over the assets. The legal expenses are unavoidable and should be quite small, relative to the assets.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sign petition to stop deportation

Sisters and Brothers -
My father Eli immigrated to America from Poland in 1921 after World War I at the age of 17. He was not a refugee fleeing war, although much of his family later became victims of the Holocaust. He came to America looking to make a better life. He never made a lot of money, but it didn’t matter because he was able to start a family and send his two sons to college. That meant the world to him and he loved this country.
While my father came here as an immigrant seeking economic opportunity, many immigrants arrived in our country fleeing war, oppression and violence. This is true today for thousands of women and unaccompanied children who came to our country in the last several years fleeing horrific violence in Latin America.
This week the media reported something that I find not just wrong, but inhumane: President Obama is currently planning "a month-long series of raids in May and June to deport hundreds of Central American mothers and children" who came to our country fleeing that same violence.
Sending women and children back into harm's way after they already fled horrendous violence in Central America is painful and inhumane, and must be stopped.
Donald Trump has of course called for building a "Great Wall" along the border with Mexico. Hillary Clinton previously said that these same children who fled violence in Latin America "should be sent back" in order to "send a clear message."
I happen to see things differently. I don't believe that the United States should turn away from our historic role as a haven for the oppressed.
I recently met a young Salvadoran woman who came to the United States on her own at the age of 15 to flee gangs trying to recruit her. I’ve also spoken with many children who have told me with tears streaming down their faces that they live in daily fear that their parents will be taken away.
The United States of America must continue to be a refuge for the poor, the tired, the oppressed, and certainly for women and children fleeing horrific violence.
I urge President Obama to use his executive authority to protect families by extending Temporary Protective Status for those who fled from Central America, and I ask you to join me.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Severe penalty on giving up a property purchase

Michael (not his real name) went to the launch of a new condominium project. The show room was packed with potential buyers. It was chaotic. The buyers were given a queue number and had to wait for some time before being called to pick their unit and sign the option to purchase the flat.

Michael was under great pressure. If he did not take up his preferred unit immediately, it would be offered to the next buyer. To add to the pressure, they were offered a "discount" that would be withdrawn if the contract was not signed immediately.

He selected his unit, paid the option money and signed the contract.

After returning home, he did his budget again and realized that he could not really afford the mortgage on the property. His wife also felt the same. They decided to give up the booking.

The developer forfeited 25% of the deposit, which amount to nearly $20,000. This represents nearly one year of savings for the family. It was a severe penalty. This penalty is stated in the contract and had been explained to the buyer.

Michael learned that the developer was able to sell the same unit to a new buyer at a higher price. But the marketing manager of the developer firm was not prepared to refund the penalty to Michael. It became a part of the developer's total profit.

Michael and his wife had learned a painful lesson. They will not attend any new property launch in the future. It is easy for them to be caught in making a bad decision, as they were under hard pressure selling techniques.

Crony capitalism

Someone said:

The political leaders in Singapore redefined "corruption" to suit their purposes. Their claim that Singapore is low in corruption does not tally with the high score the Economist has given to Singapore on "crony capitalism". 

Many of the things they do in Singapore will be illegal or not politically acceptable in Australia. Like the wife of the PM heading Temasek. Like the wife of the PM running a law firm doing big government businesses. 

When Kevin Rudd became PM of Australia in 2007, his wife has to sell off that portion of her business that has Australian government contracts. Otherwise KR will be plagued by serious conflict of interests and corruption allegations.

Not "free of corruption"

A friend from Myanmar asked me to explain how Singapore achieves a high standard in being "free of corruption".

I said that the practice in Singapore is not "free of corruption".

Temasek Holdings is run by the wife of the Prime Minister. She is the CEO. Some people asked if she is the right person who has the business and management know-how to run such a large group of companies. I do not recall anyone giving a convincing answer.

The directors fees and the remuneration of the CEO of Temasek Holdings are not disclosed. Some people speculated that the CEO could be receiving several tens of millions in remuneration a year. But, the public does not know.

Friend - Is Temasek a public company? Are they required to disclose the remuneration of their top people?

TKL - It is technically a private company and is not required to disclose these information. However, it is wholly owned by the Government and is, in reality, a public company. All the citizens of Singapore should have the right to know how much the directors and CEO of Temasek are being paid.

Friend - I find this very strange. Perhaps it was embarrassing for them to disclose the actual remuneration, which must be extremely high. A better approach is to pay the CEO  a "reasonable salary" and to have it disclosed to the public.

My Myanmar friend was visibly surprised. Coming from a country that had a high level of corruption in the past, he had expected a high standard of transparency and meritocracy to be practiced in Singapore. He did not expect to hear about the practices that I have described.

Friday, May 13, 2016

How to manage stress

Some people do a stressful job with overwhelming responsibilities, but they must learn how to manage the stress.

This applies not only to government ministers, but also to ordinary people who have demanding jobs.

I had a demanding job for most of my working career, but I do not feel stressed. Here are my tips.

a) Set manageable expectations. Distinguish between those that are "must do" and "nice to do".
b) Communicate the expectation and the progress with your boss and with the people who work with you.
c) If you encounter difficulty, share them with your boss and colleagues. You do not have to shoulder the burden on your own.
d) Do what you can. Do not worry about challenges that are too difficult.

Here is the biggest threat that you must avoid.
a) Do not allow your boss to give you unreasonable expectations and demands.
b) Do not over-stretch yourself to achieve what you think your boss expects from you. This over stretch is worse that the demand made by your boss.

All the best in handling your stress! Enjoy life!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Caught by Section 73 of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act

Doris (not her real name) approached me for advice. She bought a policy from AIA many years ago and named her husband as the beneficiary. The marriage broke down. She subsequently changed the beneficiary to her son.

Recently, AIA told her that the nomination of her son was invalid, as the policy was covered under Section 73 of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act and the any change of beneficiary required the consent of the original beneficiary.

As Doris had no contact with her ex-husband, she was advised to approach a lawyer to assist on this matter. The lawyer said that the legal fees would be over $3,000 and would include taking a newspaper advertisement to locate the original beneficiary.

Doris asked for my advice.

I looked at the policy document, and there was no mention of Section 73. It was a standard policy which allowed the policyowner to change the beneficiary at any time. The AIA staff must have "imported" the Section 73 into this policy out of his or her own interpretation. It was outside of the provision of the policy and was not the intent of the policyholder.

I remembered a case a long, long time where the judge said that Section 73 would apply in that case. But the circumstances of the case could be different.

Doris said that she had taken a similar policy with another insurance company which had allowed her to change the beneficiary without any problem.

The position taken by AIA seemed to be unnecessary and unfair. It had caused a lot of trouble and stress to Doris. They could have taken the position that Section 73 did not apply to this policy, as there was no intention from Doris to place it under that law. She said that the AIA agent who sold the policy did not explain at that time that the policy would be subject to that law. In fact, it was probably not the intention of any of the parties at that time.

The Section 73 was not even a Singapore law. It was a law passed in England many decades ago. It is an outdated law.

It is sad that there is this uncertainty caused by  a vague and outdated law that was not intended to apply in the first instance.

A convoluted approach towards treating a new journey

On a few occasions, I alighted the bus at the wrong stop. Usually, the stop is an earlier one. It is easy to make this mistake for a passenger who is not familiar with the road, as the bus does not display the name of the bus stop.

When I realized that it was the wrong stop and I boarded the next bus for the remaining 1 or 2 or 3 stops, the next bus will charge me as a new journey if it is the same service number, but as a transfer if it is a different service number.

The elite who designed this system has a convoluted mindset. He thinks that a passenger who gets off the bus and takes the next bus of the same service number must want to make a new journey. He does not realize that the passenger got off the bus at an earlier stop, by mistake.

Bus should display the sequential stop number

For each bus service, there is a guide showing all the stops for that service, starting from the terminus. The stops are numbered sequentially from 1, 2, 3 etc. Some services have 50 or more stops on the journey.

It is useful for the bus to display the sequential stop number when it arrived at each stop. This display should be in the bus and does not need to be shown at the bus stop (as the sequential number is different for each service). This digital display is easy and inexpensive to install.

I visited the eye center yesterday. An app told me to board service 190 at Bras Basah Road and to alight after 9 stops.

I had to count all the stops along the way.

If the bus has the display, I would have noted that I board at stop 15 (say) and should alight at stop 24. Better still, the app would have told me directly to alight at stop 24. I will know where to alight by looking at the display.  If the display shows a number smaller than 24, I know how many more stops to go. If it exceeds 24, I would know that I have already passed my stop.

When I returned home late at night, I was not able to recognize the stops along the way. I had a difficult time to know where to alight from the bus, even though I took the journey every day. It is difficult to see the stops and the houses along the road. A display would be most helpful.

I hope that the Land Transport Authority and the Transport Minister will pay attention to this matter and get the buses to install a display to show the sequential bus stop.

Hillary Clinton will face difficulty in challenging Donald Trump

This is pretty scary, sisters and brothers. A trio of polls released yesterdayshowed Hillary Clinton in a very difficult spot against Donald Trump. She led by one in Florida and Pennsylvania, and actually trailed him by 4 percent in Ohio.
For months, Bernie Sanders has out-polled Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, and often by extraordinarily large margins. Because we must do everything we can to defeat Trump in November, our mission is to win as many pledged delegates as we can between now and June 14.
Then we’re going to have a contested convention where the Democratic Party must decide if they want the candidate with the momentum who is best positioned to beat Trump, or if they are willing to roll the dice and court disaster simply to protect the status quo for the political and financial establishment of this country.
But for our plan to work, we need to keep winning. And that’s why we ask:
Some people say we do better against Trump because we haven’t faced the Republican attack machine yet. But we’ve been told our goals for the future are utopian, and that our plans would raise taxes on middle class families. We just never thought those attacks would come in a Democratic primary. Yet somehow we keep winning.
We are the best chance to defeat Trump because people united can never be defeated. That is why we must keep fighting.
In solidarity,
Jeff Weaver
Campaign Manager
Bernie 2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Serious mis-selling of an "investment"

Susan (not her real name) received a call from a marketing person of her bank. He offered her an attractive investment. She went to the bank to buy the investment. She invested a sum of $70,000 for the five year investment.  She signed on a tablet and received the documents a few days later. As she was travelling, she did not read the document.

One year later, she looked at the document and was shocked at what she had bought. She thought it was a 5 year investment. Instead, it was a life insurance policy that required her to pay an annual premium of $70,000 over five years and would receive the maturity proceed at the end of 10 years.

She was misled by the marketing person working for the bank into thinking that it was a single investment of $70,000 that would mature after 5 years. She was horrified that if she did not continue to pay the annual premium for the next four years, the $70,000 that she had paid would be entirely forfeited.

When she lodged a complaint with the bank that sold the investment, the bank denied responsibility. The life insurance company pushed the responsibility to the bank that made the sale.

Susan stand to lose $70,000 of her hard earned money from this costly mistake. She asked:

a) How could MAS and the government allowed the bank to sell this "investment" to her?
b) How could the marketing person get access to her account details with the bank and approached her to buy this "investment"?
c) How can the MAS allow the bank and the insurance company to make a "profit" out of the $70,000 that had been "stolen" from her?

I have heard of many cases similar to Susan's case. It is very bad for the banks to be selling this type of life insurance policies. The risk of mis-selling is high. Many people have made an "investment" not realizing that it is a life insurance policy that has heavy penalty on early termination. Susan's case is more extreme in the mis-representation is so grotesque.

Increase in filing fee for ACRA

Someone sent a complaint to the CEO of ACRA about the increase in filing fee for the annual return to ACRA from $20 to $60. He copied his complaint to me and to many ministers. I followed up with my letter of support of his views.

Dear Mr. Kenneth Yap (CEO of ACRA)

I express my support of the views expressed by Mr. Tun.

I find it quite ridiculous for ACRA to charge an annual filing fee of $60 for a company to file its annual return. After receiving our return, ACRA sells our financial data to other users on a fee.

I recall reading the ACRA annual report some years ago. You showed a big surplus from your operations. Hence, the increase in fees is not justified.

I urge ACRA to reduce the large sums that you spend on I.T development. I am not sure if this is the case, but I suspect it to be so. There is no need for ACRA to develop a costly computer system, just to collect and "sell" company information.

As a SME that is required to submit annual returns to ACRA, I find your input form to be quite time consuming, troublesome and painful to submit. The pain is made more noticeable when we have to pay a fee of $60.

ACRA should not charge any fee for filing of our annual returns. Would it be ridiculous if IRAS also ask tax payers to pay a fee to file their tax returns?

I hope that the ministers who have received this e-mail pay attention to this matter.

Thank you.

Tan Kin Lian

Risk for Hillary Clinton in competing with Donald Trump

The polls shows Hillary Clinton to be marginally ahead of Donald Trump in a general election. But there is a real risk that this may change during the months of the campaign.

Donald Trump may be able to swing the votes against Hillary Clinton. He was able to achieve this task in the primary election against the other contenders in the Republican field.

The Democratic Party should be aware of this risk. They can nominate Bernie Sanders who has a better chance of beating Donald Trump in the general election. This is shown by nearly all of the polls.

Bernie Sanders has won the West Virginia Democratic Primary

Sisters and Brothers -
We just got word that we won our 19th state, taking the majority of the delegates in today's primary in West Virginia.
Every vote we earn and every delegate we secure sends an unmistakable message about the values we share, the country's support for the ideas of our campaign, and a rejection of Donald Trump and his values.
Now we're on to two more primaries next week in Kentucky and Oregon, where we also hope to do very well. So let's keep going.
There is nothing I would like more than to take on and defeat Donald Trump, someone who must never become president of this country. But I believe that it is not enough to just reject Trump – this is an opportunity to define a progressive vision for America. Voters agree: just today, three new polls showed that we are the best campaign to defeat Trump.
We fully acknowledge we have an uphill climb ahead of us, but we’re used to that. We have been fighting uphill from the day this campaign began, and we’re going to stay in the race until the last vote is cast. And with your help, I hope to take on Trump, too. Thank you for standing with me.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

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