Saturday, October 28, 2006

Car Tracking

If you visit Malaysia often, it is better to install a car tracking device.

NTUC Income has tied up with a provider to give a special package to our policyholders to install a car tracking device.

60 policyholders have installed this device. We have successfully recovered 1 car fixed with the trackers. With a tracking device, there is a high probability of recovery if cars are stolen.

Policyholders thus benefit from a 10% to 25% reduction in their insurance premium. The amount of discount given varies, depending on our theft experience of the model of car.

Our policyholders pay a one time installation fee of $720. We allow our policyholders to pay over four interest-free installments.

There is also an annual subscription fee of $132. This subscription fee is
for the management and maintenance of the alarm centre.

The first year's subscription fee is waived during this promotion period.

Car sharing service

The Minister for Transport recently advised households to use public transport, instead of owning a second car.

I wish to suggest that these families can join as a "car share" member to have access to a second car for the occasional events.

NTUC Income started the first pilot car-sharing scheme with 4 cars in 1997. Today, there are 4 car-sharing organisations operating 500 shared cars with 10,000 members.

The NTUC Income Car Co-Op has 195 cars at 77 locations, serving around 5,000 members.

For more details, click here: Car Share

Advice from an insurance specialist

Dear Mr Tan,

I recently tried to help my wife to see the possiblity to switch her AIA policy plan to NTUC. She bought the insurance plan in 1996. Next year will be so-called critical 11 years.

As we are both not so familiar, we do not know whether to keep the AIA policy.

I bought NTUC living policy and it seems the return is much better compared to her this AIA policy.

We did not go for your NTUC walk-in counters as we think that most of them may just ask us to keep the policy.

Do you know of an insurance specialist who can advice on this matter (prefer speaking mandarin so that my wife can understand better)?

Thanks alot.

Best regards,



Dear HSW

I will ask my colleague to get a insurance specialist, who speak Mandarin, to call your wife and explain to her.

Tan Kin Lian

Friday, October 27, 2006

Learn to play Logic9 (Sudoku)

Sudoku is popular all over the world. It is printed in Today paper and in MyPaper (under the title Logic9).

I am surprised that many people do not know how to play this puzzle. They have seen the puzzle before, but have not been taught how to do it.

I will be giving a 30 minute talk on how to play this puzzle at easy and difficult level in November and December. We will be giving a Logic9 puzzle (worth $5) to each attendee.

If you want to learn the tip on how to be an expert in this puzzle (and be within the top 5% of the population), come to listen to my talk. It is fun and rewarding.

Watch out for the advertisement in the newspaper and in eNN. You can register to subscribe to eNN for free at:, Free eNN

Buy unit trust through a financial adviser?

There are more than 300 unit trusts and insurance funds available for the public to invest.

The financial adviser can select the best performing funds and offer them to the investing public.

There is a danger in this approach.

The funds that perform well in the past may not perform well in the future. In fact, the academic studies have shown that actively managed funds generally perform worse than index funds, after deducting the fees.

In fact, if an fund has performed well by adopting a certain strategy, it is likely that the same strategy will perform below average in the future, as the results go in cycles.

So, if a financial adviser ask you to invest in a fund that performed well (and it is easy for them to pick these funds from the large numbers in the market), you are likely to make the wrong choice.

It is better to invest in a large, well diversified fund with low charges. Indexed funds fall in this category.

Return on Money Market Fund

The money market fund managed by NTUC Income offers a return that is linked to the money market.

The fund charges a very modest 0.25% p.a. to cover our expenses. The rest of the return is given to the investor.

The actual monthly return from the money market fund (net of charges) was:

31-May-06 0.31%
30-Jun-06 0.11%
31-Jul-06 0.23%
31-Aug-06 0.29%
30-Sep-06 0.20%

The average is 0.22% per month, or 2.7% per annum.

I have decided to transfer $100,000 from my bank (which earns about 1%) into the money market fund.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Posting in SG Entrepreneurs

Among all Singapore CEOs, Mr Tan Kin Lian is definitely one of the most bold and interesting personality for being the only CEO who holds a corporate blog to his name.

In the recent Spirit of Enterprise Awards 2006, we met up with Mr Tan and invited him to come and contribute to our blog. Immediately without hesitation, he accepted our invitation.

So, we are honoured to have him sharing with us his experiences as a CEO in NTUC income, his thoughts about the insurance and financial planning market and advice to young entrepreneurs and also his future plans after NTUC Income.

Read the interview

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Election in Melbourne

My friend who lives in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia told me that the candidates are paid by the government, a certain sum of money for each vote that they get in the election, provided that they get at least 2,500 votes.

This is intended to defray their expensses of contesting the election. It will give them the funds to contest the next election.

He said that the payment is usually sufficient to cover the expenses of the contest.

I am not sure if his facts are correct. He is not sure if this payment applies only to the local election, or applies to the state and national elections as well.

Traffic Congestion in Singapore

The Minister for Transport said that there are too many cars on the road. He is looking into measures to improve the traffic system. The current system has been largely unchanged for 10 years.

We can expect new measures and higher charges for using the roads. We have to think of new ways, e.g. to encourage car pooling and encourage more people to use public transport.

The traffic congestion is quite bad in many parts of Singapore.

The History of Sudoku (Logic9)

It’s hard, perhaps impossible, to pinpoint the exact time and place in which the original concept of Sudoku (Japanese: 数独, sūdoku) began, but it seems to be related to the appearance of the first Magic Squares.

The idea of the magic square was transmitted to the Arabs from the Chinese, probably through India, in the eighth century.

It appears that Magic Squares may have introduced to Europe through Spain by Abraham Ben Meir ibn Ezra, a Hispano-Jewish philosopher and astrologer.

The Swiss mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) presented to the St. Petersburg Academy on October 17, 1776, how to construct Magic Squares with a certain number of cells, in particular 9, 16, 25, and 36.

This particular type of puzzle as we know it was first published in the late 1970’s in Math Puzzles and Logic Problems magazine by Dell Magazines. The name given by Dell to these puzzles was Number Place.

Dell took Euler’s Latin Square concept and applied it to a 9x9 grid with the addition of nine 3x3 sub-grids, or boxes, each containing all numbers from 1 to 9.

So, the Sudoku concept was not invented in Japan as many people may believe, but the name Sudoku was. In 1984 Nikoli, Japan’s leading puzzle creating company, discovered Dell’s Number Place and decided to present them to their Japanese puzzle fans.

The puzzles, which were first named Suuji Wa Dokushin Ni Kagiru, ("the numbers must be single" or "the numbers must occur only once") quickly became popular.

In 1986, after some important improvements were added, mainly by making symmetrical patterns and reducing the number of given clues, Sudoku became one of the best selling puzzles in Japan.

Realizing that the only problem with the Sudoku puzzles was their long name, Kaji Maki, the president of Nikoli abbreviated it to Sudoku - (Su = number, digit; Doku = single, unmarried).

At the end of 2004 Wayne Gould, a retired Hong Kong judge as well as a puzzle fan and a computer programmer, visited London trying to convince the editors of The Times to publish Sudoku puzzles. Gould, that had written a computer program which generates Sudoku puzzles of different difficulty levels, demanded no money for the puzzles. The Times decided to give it a try and on November 12, 2004 launched their first Sudoku puzzle.

The publishing of Sudoku in the London Times was just the beginning of an enormous phenomenon which swiftly spread all over Britain and its affiliate countries of Australia and New Zealand.

Even the Teachers magazine which is backed by the government recommended Sudoku as brain exercise in classrooms and suggestions have been made that Sudoku solving is capable of slowing the progression of brain disorder conditions such as Alzheimer's.

In April 2005 Sudoku completed a full circle and arrived back to Manhattan as a regular feature in the New York Post. On Monday, July 11, the Sudoku craze spread to other parts of the USA.

Today there are Sudoku clubs, chat rooms, strategy books, videos, mobile phone games, card games, competitions and even a Sudoku game show.

Sudoku has also sprung up in newspapers all over the world and is commonly described in the world media as "the Rubik's cube of the 21st century" and as the "fastest growing puzzle in the world".

Invest in Money Market Fund

My investment in ST Tracker Fund has appreciated 60% during last 3 years. I am thinking of realising it and re-investing in the Global Equity fund.

But, in the meantime, I may put the money in the Money Market fund to earn about 3% per year.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Smiling Tiger

I met someone at the supermarket. He said, "Hi, Mr Tan".

I asked him, "How do you know me?" He said, "From your smile. I call you - a smiling tiger".

I am not sure if this is a compliment. But, I know that he meant well. I found that he was a union branch leader, and worked in the National Heritage Board.

Sorry to hear that you are leaving Income

Dear Mr Tan

I have been a policy holder of Income since 1993. I am glad to inform you that Income remains my preferred insurer for me and my family to this day.

It is thus with great regret that I learn that you are leaving Income, as I feel that you really have the benefits of the policy holders at heart and really take the effort to educate the public on insurance and personal financial planning.

Hopefully, your successor will be a person who holds fast to these ideals too, who will continue to look after the welfare of Singaporeans.

If I could share with you on a personal basis - I like Income as I feel that its policies are priced fairly and clear and easy to understand, the management looks after the interests of policyholders, and the agents (or at least my agent) are honest, upfront and do not give me any b*llsh*t. (please pardon me!)

My experience with other insurers have not been too pleasant, as I always feel that they try to sell me a product that either 1) they do not understand, or 2) is not useful to me, or 3) gives them lots of commission but does not benefit me, or 4) try to oversell a product without due consideration of whether I can afford it in the long run.

Kudos to you and Income for a job well done, and I wish you all the best in your future pursuits.

Best regards


Dear JY

Thank you for your kind words. Wish you all the best.

Tan Kin Lian

Negative headline is unfair

Last week, a leading newspaper had a headline that suggested that a prominient entrepreneur (a multi-millionaire) based in Singapore, is sued for fraud.

This created an impression among a few knowledgeable people that this entrepreneur is acting dishonestly.

I pointed out that the suit was taken by a private individual. The circumstance of the dispute is under litigation.

It was unfair of the newspaper to use a headline that created a wrong impression among the general public.

It is a different matter, if the case is taken by the public prosecutor. The prosecutor has a duty to carry out some investigation to be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to press a case.

I urge the public to be careful about reading the headlines, especially if there is a tendency for some newspaper to be sensational or negative. Do take a more generous view about people who may be charged or sued unfairly.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Use Skype for text meetings

I intend to use Skype for meetings. Up to 100 people can be involved in the chat meeting (ie communicate by typing).

This new method can also be used in a meetings within Singapore, involving people at various locations. It saves time travelling to the meeting.

It is especially useful, if some of the participants are overseas.

Discussion with text message is also quite convenient.

Use Skype for International Calls

I have started to use Skype for international calls. It works well. I can speak from my personal computer, and contact the other party using their telephone number. I have to pay about 5 cents a minute for the call. The voice quality is good.

If both parties arranges a scheduled time, they can talk or chat (using text messages) over the computer. This is free.

It is a cheap and wonderful way to communicate.

How can employers prevent the escalation of medical expenses?

Question: Are employees' medical expenses continually on the rise? What can bosses do
about this situation?


Medical expenses for employees are likely to increase in the future as the workforce gets older.

A good way for the employer to be sheltered from the increasing cost is to pay a fixed sum to the employee, according to the level of the employee. This allows the employee to buy their own personal medical insurance. Many insurance companies now offer a Shield plan that provides lifetime coverage. The premium in each year depends on the age of the insured person and on the type of plan that is selected.

The employee can select a plan that meets his or her personal needs. They can choose a plan that covers a low class of ward and pay a lower cost. If they choose a plan that covers a higher class of ward, they have to pay a higher cost. As the employee has to pay for their own cost (after receiving the fixed subsidy from the employer), more are likely to choose a more cost effective plan.

This system has a further advantage. When the employee changes his or her job, the employee can continue the coverage under the Shield plan. The plan is not linked to the specific employer.

The Shield plan covers in-hospital treatment, and outpatient treatment for certain specified illnesses. The empoyee will have have to pay on their own for visits to the general practitioner or specialist. They should avoid seeing the doctor for minor ailments, as they now have to pay on their own. They can learn how to take care of the common ailments on their own.

Tan Kin Lian

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