Saturday, January 05, 2008

Impression of Taiwan

I have now returned to Singapore, after spending 12 days in Taiwan. This is the longest holiday that I have taken.

My impression of Taiwan is favourable. I like the following:

1. The MRT system and taxi service
2. Taipei 101 and the nearby buildings
3. Politeness and helpfulness of the people
4. Food and snacks
5. Hot spring and spas

Amazing Number game

Write down a Number between 1 to 99. Check your number against the numbers listed in my Amazing Number cards. I will be able to guess your Number.

http://www.tankinlian.com/amazing/index.html

Show it to your children and friends. Ask them the same question, "how is this done?"

Can you guess how I guess your Number? Send your reply to me at kinlian@gmail.com. Do not post your answer and give away your secret.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Coldest winter in 12 years

Taipei is cold. The news reported that the temperature during this winter is the coldest in the last 12 years.

Is this due to global warming, or just the cycle of nature? I suspect that the global warming is causing big climate changes around the world.

Ecocities

I found a book entitled Ecocities in the public library in Beitou, Taiwan. It is written by Richard Register. The author described how cities should be developed to be environmentally friendly and to give a better quality of life to the residents.

The author encouraged people to work near their place of residence, and reduce the travel between home and place of work. He also encourage the use of rail transport, instead of private cars.

More details:

http://www.newsociety.com/bookid/3923
http://www.newsociety.com/

I have given similar ideas in this paper:
http://www.tankinlian.com/articles/housing.html

Gifts for a mother and baby

Visit these websites:

http://www.pupsikstudio.com/

http://www.pupsikstudio.blogspot.com/

Visit to Xin Beitou and Danshui

I visited Xin Beitou and Danshui. Danshu is at the coast and the end of the red MRT line in Taipei. It is a popular tourist destination. The visitors enjoyed the local food, shopping and atmosphere.

The stall holders are helpful. If you ask for information and do not buy their goods, they still thank you for your interest.

I saw an interesting system of garbage collection. The collection truck came at night. The stall holders could hear the classical music that is being played by the truck. They bring their grabage bags to be dumped into the truck. Apart from the driver, there is no need to have any workers.

The red MRT line has a few stations that are underground, a few that are at ground level and a few stations that are elevated.

Hot springs

Hot springs are popular with the local people in Taiwan. They are also popular in Japan and China.

The minerals from the hot spring provides some health benefits. After spending two hours at a hot spring spa, I could sleep soundly during the night.

Bus trip to Xin Beitou

I took the bus from one terminal (Taipei City Hall) to the other terminal (Xin Beitou) in Taipei. The journey took 1.5 hours. 30 minutes was used as a feeder service to pick passengers in the area around Taipei 101. The journey time could have been reduced, if there is a separate dedicated feeder service.

Passengers are allowed to pay the fare on entering or leaving the bus. The bus driver has to be vigilent to identify passengers who did not pay the fare. It depends a lot on the honesty of the passengers.

The fare is NT15 (SGD 0.70) for short distance and NT30 (sge 1.40) for longer distance. The passenger can pay by cash or stored value card. For long distance, the passenger has to tap the stored value card twice (as each tap deducts NT15 from the card).

The bus has segments with one seat and other segments with two seats. Those travelling alone can choose to sit in the single seat segment.

My return journey by MRT took about 30 minutes.

Road names in Taipei

I observed some good features in naming of roads in Taipei:

1. Long roads are identified by sections, such as Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 1, Zhongxia E Rd Sec 2, etc. It is easy to locate an address according to the section of the road.

2 Lanes are identified by reference to the road, eg Yanji St Lane 1, Yanji St Rd Lane 2.

3. The names of Road, Street and Lane in a consistent manner to identify different sizes of roads.

It is useful to adopt these principles in the naming of roads in Singapore. I find the naming of roads in the new towns to be rather inconsistent. The name Avenue, Road and Street are being used for similar size of roads.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

High distribution cost

Someone said that Axa promoted "Buy Term and invest the difference".

When you invest in the Axa fund, you should select the single premium option, where the charges are quite modest.

If you select the regular premium option, you will have to incur a high distribution cost, which may not be disclosed to you by the agent. This was the experience of my friend, who was being offered a regular premium ILP at a roadshow.

For a comparison of the distribution cost, read this webpage:
http://www.askdrmoney.com/Ins_ILP_RP.htm

The distribution charge of 19 months under the AXA regular premium plan is quite high.

200% increase in premium for Plus rider

Dear Mr. Tan,

Happy New Year to you.

I have just received renewal letters for my medical insurance. Looks like the objective in INCOME has changed since your retirement. They have increased the premium tremendously.

I appended below the details of the "Plus Rider" for my family. The increase of 200% in the premium seems exhorbitant to me at one look. (details deleted).

Most likely we will continue with the plan unless there is a better product in the market. Please give us your expert advice.

REPLY

You have the option to cancel the Plus rider. In my view, there is no need to take the Plus rider to insure the Deductible and Co-insurance. You can pay them out of your Medisave account or by cash.

Read para 3 of this FAQ:
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/choice.html

Travel tips for Taiwan

Hi Mr. Tan,

I will be going to Taiwan in May 2008 for around ten days. I plan to go Taipei and one more other area. Any places that you would strongly recommend?

REPLY

Perhaps you can visit the places that I mentioned in my blog? You should also try the hot springs, which is popular with the local people.

If you are travelling free and easy, you should try the train system. I was given a guide book of the attractions in each town served by a train station. You should also search the Internet, which has a wealth of information.

I hope that you are travelling with some friends. It is more fun when you have people to travel with.

Hot spring in Wulai

I visited the village of Wulai yesterday. I spent 2 hours at a hot spring there. It is refreshing to visit a hot spring during winter. Many of the local people visit the hotspring to relax and be refreshed.

There are separate pools for males and females. You are not allowed to wear any clothing into the pool, not even a swimsuit. You have to wash your body, before entering the pool. This is to ensure cleanliness and hygiene.

The hot spring uses the mineral water from a nearby volcano. It has certain minerals that are good for the body.

If you are shy, you can rent a private pool for 1 or 2 people.

The normal charge for the public pools is NT 500 (SGD 25) per entry. Many places offer a promotional price of NT 250 (SGD 12).

First Prize for the Amazing Number game

Dear Mr. Tan,

Happy New Year to you.

The number is "guessed" by .............................. It seems to work something like a ...... system, so there is only one combinatiion of the cards that can result in a particular number in the range. Working backwards, all the 99 numbers can then be filled up in the cards.

Thanks for another interesting entry to keep my mind thinking.

Due to my enginnering background and being a software engineer, I am able to find out how the program works after a few clicks ........ So I probably have an "unfair" advantage over the other readers who have no similar training.

REPLY

Wonderful. You have a powerful logical mind. You get first prize, for being the first person to send the correct answer to me!

I am printing the Amazing Number cards. Give me your address, so that I can send the prize to you (but it may take 1 or 2 weeks).

It is all right to have an advantage, due to your training. That is what training is about. That is how one becomes a champion. Congratulations!

Treating High Blood Pressure

My friend's mother has high blood pressure. He sent an e-mail to ask for my recommendation on a specialist to treat this condition. I asked my wife for advice, as she is familiar with this medical condition.

My wife's advice is:

1. Send your mother to see a doctor (i.e. general practitioner) near your home.
2. The doctor will be able to take the blood pressure and prescribe the medication.
3. If the condition need specialist attention (and this is usually not necessary), the doctor will recommend a specialist.
4. High blood pressure is quite common and can be treated quite easily by a general practitioner in most cases.

Views on investing your money

COMMENTS POSTED IN MY BLOG

1) KEEP YOUR MONEY IN FIXED DEPOSIT AND CPF

I think it is perfectly fine for a person to buy Term insurance and not invest but use the money for other purposes - go for travel, catch the latest movies/musical, buy a branded watch, touch-up the house etc.

Whether he invest or squanders it away, that is his business. You all have no right to force people to invest. If i think investing is too troublesome, then I don't invest. I have this choice.

I think it is rubbish to force someone to invest. You can still live a good stress-free life with decent income.

I hope this blog do not use fear of inflation, fear of not enough for the future, fear of losing out, to scare people into investing. Using this emotion is just as bad as scaring people to buy insurance.

I find some of the comments and articles on this blog using this "scare" tactics to force people to invest. Your money in 20 years time will halved, etc. This is nonsense.

I have not invested my money for the last twenty years and my money is safe with CPF and I am still have money for travel and others. my insurance cover is $20,000 and I have 3 kids. So?

I don't understand why you all want to force people to invest in low-cost funds. "Low cost" is still cost right?

Are you saying our government is incompetent in managing our money? I think not. Inflation projection is just a "projection". If you saying inflation is 2% p.a, can you guaranteed that next year this time, everything in Singapore go up by 2%?

Therefore, I rather keep my money in fixed deposits and CPF, where it is truly no costs. If investing in low cost funds is right way, our government would have help us to invest already. If Mr. Tan wants to push his own products as part of his retirement business, that's his choice but please don't force people to invest because they have a choice not to and still stay happy and stress-free.

Anonymous.

2. EDUCATING THE PUBLIC

I think that is your business whether you wish to invest or not to invest. Whether you have enough for retirement is also your business. Everything is your business. You have complete freedom.

There is no force nor touting nor promotion of any product. I think you got it all wrong to think Mr. Tan's blog is to promote his products and that he has vested interest whether you agree or not agree to his advice or to other posters' advice.

This blog is to educate the buying public to do what is right. If you disagree with the comments you should rebut or debunk the advice, instead of accusing Mr. Tan of instilling fear and exploiting emotion as tactics to make people buy his products or ideas. He has none of these.

You must be very rich and have a huge balance in your CPF to care whether you earning a decent rate or will have enough to retire. This blog is not for you.

It is for those poor souls who are inevitable victims of unscrupulous insurance agents ..... You are safe from these agents but the poor ones are not. They are uneducated, ignorant, gullible, and too trusting that they get cheated ...................They need protection and help with their personal finances.

So you see the objectives of this blog is not to force anyone to invest in low cost funds. You can invest under your pillow ......... It is your freedom if you think that is the best place to invest your money.

The blog is also to educate and to create awareness of ........ agents on the loose and how to spot them out. It is also to identify the good products from the bad ones. This is a service to people who want to know about insurance and investment.

Zhumeng

3. DISAGREE WITH MY VIEWS

My blog is for people who find my advice to be helpful.

There are people who disagree with my views for the following reasons:

a) They are quite knowledgeable and find my views to be too simplistic
b) They are intermediaries making a living on selling high cost products

If you disagree with my views, you can ignore them, or stop visiting my blog. I am not forcing anyone to my point of view.

I expect to be challenged by intermediaries with a vested interest to sell high cost products. I allow their views to be posted, so that they can give an alternative point of view. I will only edit statements that are offensive and defamatory.






Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Elevated expressways in Taipei

Taipei had a network of elevated expressways. They travelled along the same path as the road beneath them. The traffic moved fast on the expressways. I was never caught in a congested exprssway, even at busy hours.

I think that the road congestion in Singapore can be reduced by building elevated expressways. It will be cheaper, faster to build and less disruption to existing buldings, compared to underground expressways.

When I moved to Yio Chu Kang in 1998, I found the Central Expressway to be quite busy. I wrote to the government to suggest that a second level be build over the Central Expressway. I received a reply that this was not possible, due to difficulty of building the access roads. I did not want to pursue the matter - but I was sure that a solution could have been found.

Ten years have passed. The Central Expressway is very congested. We are still waiting for the completion of the underground Kallang Paya Lebar Expressway (which is expensive and took a long time to complete).

Perhaps, we should try the elevated expressways, which is adopted in Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing and many other cities?

MRT ride in Taipei

I took the MRT in Taipei from City Hall Station to Xindian station. The journey of 13 stops took 30 minutes and involved two transfers. The transfers were convenient and easy. One transfer was on the same platform.

All the stations are modern, well designed and standardised. The entire system is underground.

At each door of the train, there is an electronic message board that tells the previous station, current station and the next station.

I find this board to be helpful, as I am not familiar with the stations. I can be sure that I am heading the right direction. I am also know one station ahead. If I missed my station, I could still find out and alight at the next station. There is also a clear voice announcement in Mandarin, Hokkien and English.

The minimum fare is NT 20 (SGD 1) and can take up to approximately 6 stations. The maximum fare is NT 40 (SGD 2). Those using a store value card gets a discount of 20%.t

I was able to get a seat on my forward and return journey, although I travel during the busy time of the day. The train is not as crowded as in Singapore.

I give top marks to Taipei MRT.

Buy the simple, good value product

If you go into the shop to buy product A for $1,000. There is another product B which is similar to A, but it cost $1,500 and gives additional items worth $300. Do you prefer product A or B?

Some life insurance products are designed to be like product B. It charges a higher premium and gives you frills that are worth less than the additional premium. But the customer is not able to know the value of the frills. The sales agent sells the enhanced product, because they can earn a higher commission. The enhanced product gives poorer value to the customer due to the higher marketing cost.

Lesson: Go for the standard products that can be compared easily. You can get better value due to competition. If you buy a complicated product, you are likely to be over-charged.

New Year Celebration in Taipei

Taipei celebrates the New Year in style. At the stroke of midnight, fireworks are set off in many building in Taipei. The most spectacular is the fireworks at Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world. This is followed by the fireworks at other buildings. Here is a short video clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbVWrIAdD1U


video

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Observatory at Taipei 101

I visited the observatory at Taipei 101 on New Year Day, 1 Jan 2008.

It was crowded. I had to queue for 30 minutes to take the lift to the 89th floor. The observatory occupied the entire floor and give a 360 degree view of the city of Taipei from the tallest building in the world.

The observatory provided an audio guide. It explains the various landmarks that can be seen from each side of the building. It uses high-tech in an effective way.

The express lifts to the observatory travelled fast and smooth. It received the world record for being the fastest lifts. It reached 89 floors in 37 seconds, without any jerk or noticeable acceleration.

Admission to the observatory cost NT 350 (SGD 16).

Get adequate insurance at a low cost

Dear Mr. Tan,

You advised to buy personal accident insurance now, and life insurance later. What happens if at a later date, I am in poor health and not accepted for life insurance?

REPLY

The risk of uninsurability is quite low (less than 0.5% a year).

The bigger risks are:

1. People hesitate in buying expensive insurance, and are inadequately insured against accidents (more than 50%).

2. People buy an expensive life insurance and lapse the policy due to inability to continue paying the premium (5% a year).

It is better to have adequate personal accident insurance now, and upgrade to a more expensive insurance at a later date. For young people, the risk of meeting an accident is much higher than contracting a serious illness.

High speed train - Taipei to Kaoshiung

What is the fare of the high speed train from Taipei to Kaoshiung? I found this information from the internet.

A brand-new high speed (300 km/h) train service using Japanese bullet train technology started running in January 2007 between Taipei and Kaohsiung. It is run by the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation, http://www.thsrc.com.tw/

The 300km/h trains link Taipei and Kaohsiung every half hour throughout the day, or at times more frequently.

Journey time is 1 hour 40 minutes on the faster trains, 1 hour 55 minutes on the slower services. The fare is 1,490 Taiwan dollars (SGD 70) in economy class, 2,440 Taiwan dollars (SGD 110) in business class.

Investing in Exchange Traded Funds

Hi Mr Tan,

1) What are the investment risks or disadvantages involved in U.S. Cross-Listed ETFs, listed in

http://www.sgx.com/psv/securities/etf/ETF_US_Cross-Listed.shtml

DIAMONDS®
SPDRs®
iShares S&P500 Index Fund
iShares MSCI Singapore (Free) Index Fund
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Technology Sector Index Fund

REPLY:
I am not aware of any special risk or disadvantages involved in the US Cross Listed ETFs.

In selecting an indexed fund, you want to look for a fund that is managed by a reputed fund manager, charges low fees and provide good service in accounting and execution.

You are taking the investment risk of the specific market. If you are investing for the long term, the risk will averaged out to give you an average return for the period.

2) There are more than 10 ETFs listed on SGX but why is it that you are only recommending STI-ETF. Since STI-ETF is only focused on Singapore, would it be better to invest in e.g. Lyxor ETF MSCI AC Asia-Pacific (covering Asia minus Japan?

REPLY
I recommend the STI ETF for people who are familiar with investing in Singapore stocks and wish to remain in Singapore currency exposure. If they are familiar with investing in Asia, the Lyxor ETF is suitable.

All indexed funds are suitable, if they cost is kept at a competitive level and the investment is for 10 years or longer.

Fed Ex Logo



Someone gave me the link to a forum discussing the Fed Ex logo. It is creative. Can you see the arrow between the letters E and x?

Overcome your Fear

Hi Kin Lian,

Thanks for sharing the video of the firework in Taipei.

I read from your blog about your recent experience on upgrading your computer. It is very encouraging and inspiring for computer illiterates like me to want to try too. What holds us back is the Fear Factor. What if our computer hangs! Only we can overcome this fear ourselves. You have shown the way.

Many are held back by their own fears. They fear doing maths or science, making decisions and even making simple comments on matters of special or even common interest. These are too many KIASU people. Unfortuantely some are even proud of this too!.

We all have our own talents to do certain things to make contributions which can benefit others. You and I have been doing this throughout our lives in various ways as a purpose of our lives, if not our mission, to add values to the lives of others.

Carrefour, Taipei


I visited Carrefour in Taipei. It offers mainly local products, unlike the Carrefour stores in Singapore and Dubai.

I learned something about the Carrefour logo. Caj you see the small red arrow pointing to the left and a larger stylish blue arrow pointing to the right. Did you wonder what the two arrows meant?

I discovered it on my visit to Carrefoure in Taipei.


Answer: If you look at the white space between the red and blue arrows, you will see the letter C. This is creative!

A new approach to improve the taxi service

To improve the taxi service in Singapore, we have to adopt a new approach. Here are my suggestions:

1. Taxi fares should be regulated (and not left to the market). The regulator can balance the interest of commuters and taxi drivers and seek to achieve an efficient system that that provides quality service at a fair price. This approach is adopted by most countries, including Hong Kong and Taiwan.

2. The regulator can approve premium taxi service that charge differently from the standard service. The premium service has to pick passengers by telephone booking only (i.e. not from the road or taxi stands). Commuters willing to pay a higher price can telephone for the premium service. This service will use a different color of taxis (i.e. not the same as the regular taxis).

3. Booking of taxi should be reduced to $1.50. This will compensate the taxi driver adequately for taking the call and improve the usage of the taxi (instead of plying the road to look for taxis).

4. Commuters should be allowed to share a taxi, if they are travelling in the same direction. The appropriate fare should be fixed. This will improve the usage of the taxi, reduce cost for the commuters and increase earnings for the taxi drivers.

Make a lump sum investment

Hello Mr. Tan,

You have mentioned in your blog that up to 21 months of savings can be taken away to pay the agent to sell a monthly sum investment-linked policy. Does it mean it will be more worthwhile to buy a lump sum unit trust instead? I'm looking for long term investment actually.

My insurance agent has been asking me to buy monthly sum investment-linked policy and recommends that I treat it like a savings plan. I am not too sure whether I should take his advice.

REPLY
You should invest in a single premium ILP, such as the Flexi Link from NTUC Income. It has low charges, compared to a monthly plan.

You can see a comparison of the charges here:
http://www.askdrmoney.com/Ins_ILP_RP.htm

Read these FAQs to make your decision:
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/savings.html

http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/ilp.html

Adequate insurance

Dear Mr. Tan,

I have already bought a five years term insurance($15,000) from NTUC income, do you think I still need the DPS ($46,000) required by CPF board?

REPLY

It depends on your personal circumstances. If you have dependents, you should aim to insure for 5 to 10 years of your earnings. If you have accumulated savings, the insurance cover can be reduced by this amount.

Read this FAQ
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/choice.html

Investing a lump sum at 51 years

Dear Mr. Tan,

My mother is 51 years old now. She has $50,000 of cash to invest. What is your recomendation investment, annuity, etc?

REPLY
If she is investing for 10 years or more, it is better to invest in a low cost, diversified equity fund.

When she needs to draw out a monthly income, she can convert it into a life annuity. At that time, she should wait for a has good time when the investments showed a good gain of 5% to 8% per annum.

Read the following FAQs
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/life.html

http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/savings.html

Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year Celebration in Taipei

There will be a big celebration to welcome the new year in Taipei. A big firework display will be launched from Taipei 101, which is currently the tallest building in the world. Most people in Taipei will be watching the fireworks.

We will be watching the fireworks from the roof top of my daughter's apartment. It is just 1 kilometer away from Taipei 101. We have to get a pass and pay an admission fee to access the rooftop - as it will be in high demand.

Winter in Taipei

It is now winter in Taipei. Although there is no snow here, the temperature can be quite cold. It gets below 10 degree Centrigrade. I enjoy the cold temperature, as it is a good change from the hot climate in Singapore.

Personal accident insurance

I encourage all young people to buy a personal accident insurance to cover $100,000 for an annual premium of less than $100 (for most occupations).

Here are the reasons:

1. It is easy to buy this insurance. You do not have to provide any information about your health status or to take a medical examination.

2. Most young people face an accident risk. They are unlikely to face a health risk, until they are much older.

3. You can invest your savings in a diversified, low cost equity fund to get a better return. Most of the return goes back to you, instead of being spent on agent commission, expenses and profit for the insurance company.

4. Do not buy your life insurance too early, especially the costly plans, such as endowment, whole life or critical illness. You can think about life insurance later, when you have started a family. At that time, you can make a better choice. You will learn that it is better to buy Term insurance.

5. If you wish to buy Term insurance earlier, it is also appropriate. Term insurance covers death from accident and sickness, and is slightly more expensive than accident insurance. It does not cover permanent and temporary disablement (unlike personal accident insurance).

6. The cost of personal accident insurance is so low, that you do not have to think twice about it.

Audio driver for my notebook computer

My notebook computer was running slowly. I decided to remove the unused programs and deframent the hard disk

After re-starting the computer, I learned that the sound card did not work. I had removed the audio driver by mistake, thinking that it was an unused software.

I wish to share this interesting experience.

I searched Google for "Sony Vaio audio driver" and was given a listing of several websites. A few websites were discussion among other owners who also lost their audio driver.

I visited the Sony Online website. It asked for the model number of my notebook. I entered the model number (taken from the back of the notebook) and was told that it was an "unrecognised model".

The discussion forum showed another owner with the same model number. It seemed that this is just a marketing reference and that the actual model number could be found on the front monitor.

I was able to get the correct model number and to locate the audio driver in the internet. I download and installed it in my notebook. It worked - to my considerable surprise!

Previously, I had to depend on a techie to solve the problem for me. I learned today, how it can be done.

Lesson: There is a wealth of information that can be obtained through the internet. Each day, I am discovering its usefulness.

Personal accident insurance

Here is an example of a standalone personal accident insurance from the market. Several insurance companies offer similar terms

1. Compensation as % of sum insured

Death: 100%
Double Indemnity on weekends, public holidays and school holidays: 100%
Permanent Disablement: up to 100% depending on extent of disablement (defined in schedule)
Temporary Disablement: up to 0.1% per day, up to 104 weeks
Medical Expenses: up to $10,000 any one accident
Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation

2. General Exclusions (i.e. not covered by the policy):

pre-existing physical or mental defects
pregnancy
suicide
war risks
motorcycling
climbing or mountaineering necessitating ropes or guides
judo, karate and some hazardous sports

Note: you can pay a higher premium rate to cover some of these risks.

3. Example of a typical plan

Death: $100,000
Double Indemnity: $200,000
Permament Disablement: Up to $100,000
Temporary Disablement: $100 a day up to to 104 weeks
Medical Expenses: Up to $2,000

4. Premiums (inclusive of 7% GST) for the typical plan, depends on occupation:

Class 1: $72 (most office bound jobs)
Class 2: $92 (production and outdoor jobs)
Class 3: $127
Class 4: $209

5. You pay a lower premium for the basic cover, i.e. death and permanent disability cover, excluding temporary disablement and medical expenses.

6. You can apply for higher or lower coverage and pay a proportionately adjusted premium. If you change your occupation, the premium rate will be adjusted on each year's renewal.

7. The premium rate for a standalone personal accident policy is much lower than a rider to a life policy (providing similar coverage). It offers higher protection at a lower cost, compared to a life insurance policy.

Class 1: Profession of administrative, supervisory or clerical nature such as accountant, lawyer, banker, doctor, teacher, nurse, secretary, clerk.

Class 2: Professions of outdoor nature, work involving overseas travel or whose duties involves the occasional use of tools or machinery such as foremen, grocers, hairdressers, salesmen, tailors, surveyors, tourist guides.

Class 3: Profession involving manual work or use of tools or machinery, such as carpenter, builder, painter, driver, technician, hawker, unarmed security guard.

Class 4: Full time national serviceman, fireman, policeman, armed security guard, woodworking machinist.

Accident and hospital benefit riders

Have you taken an accident or hospital benefit rider with your life insurance policy? They are sold to provide enhanced protection under your policy.

They look attractive, but has a big drawback. The premium rates are quite expensive, compared to standalone policies.

If you buy a standalone personal accident policy to cover $100,000, you need to pay about $80 a year. To buy the same cover as a rider, you will have to pay two times the premium. The hospital benefit rider also charges much higher than a standalone policy.

The standalone policy has to offer more competitive rates, as you are able to shop around and get the best deal from the insurance companies, including the general insurance companies.

If you buy a rider with a life policy, you are a captive customer and has to pay the premium rates that is being sold to you by the agent.

What can you do now?

Look at the premium and the coverage on your riders. Get a quote for a standalone policy that provides similar coverage. If the saving is significant, you can cancel your riders and buy the standalone policy. As the rider does not have any saving component, you do not lose out by cancelling the rider.
You can invest the savings in your premium to accumulate more funds for your retirement.

National Palace Museum, Taipei

I visited the National Palace Museum. Here are some facts from Wikipedia.

Taipei's National Palace Museum, located in the Shihlin District, is the pride of Taiwan. It ranks as one of the four best museums in the world, in a class with the Louvre, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The museum holds the world's largest collection of Chinese artifacts, around 700,000 items in all. Since the museum only has space to display around 15,000 pieces at any given time, the majority of the treasures are kept well protected in air-conditioned vaults buried deep in the mountainside. The displays are rotated once every three months, which means 60,000 pieces can be viewed in a year and it would take nearly 12 years to see them all. Furthermore, the collection continues to grow through donations and purchases.

Some of the oldest artifacts in the collection of the museum are pieces of prehistoric pottery over 5,000 years old. The vast majority of these art objects are from the private collection of China's emperors.

Included in the collection are artifacts made from jade, bronze, porcelain, lacquerware and enamel. There is also tapestry and embroidery, and many priceless documents and books containing excellent examples of ancient Chinese calligraphy.

Allow for inflation

Hi Mr Tan,

I was reading your article on "Sufficient funds for retirement". You mentioned that to retire comfortably, we need savings of 200K to 400K when we retire. Does that exclude CPF ?

However, for a person retiring in say 5 yr's time, 200K to 400K could be sufficient, but say for a person retiring in 30 yrs' time, due to inflation, this sum of money could be much more.

REPLY

The sum includes CPF. You should allow for inflation at say 2% per annum. In 30 years time, you will need about twice of the amount to keep the real value of money.

Read this FAQ:
http://www.tankinlian.com/articles/financial.html

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Night market in Shilin, Taipei

I visited the busy night market in Shilin, Taipei. I encountered an interesting experience.

The street was very busy. Suddently, a stall holder started to pack up his goods. We asked him for the reason. He said that the police is making a raid on the illegal stalls.

Within two mintures, a convoy of about 20 illegal stalls were moved in an orderly fashion down an alley to be kept away from the scene. When the police arrived, there were no illegal stalls. After the police left, the stalls were back in business, within half an hour.

How were the stalls alerted? They posted someone to lookout for the police. When the police came, a message was passed by mobile phone.

Wow! This is a new way to use technology!

Slow economy in Taiwan

My friend told me that the economy has been weak in Taiwan during the past ten years. This is caused by two factors:

1. Relocation of manufacturing to China
2. The unstable political situation.

The people are still cheerful.

Earnings of taxi driver in Taipei

I spoke to two taxi drivers in Taipei.

They work hard and drive a taxi for 12 hours a day, 365 days a year. They earn an average of NT 50,000 a month (SGD 2,500) after deducting their expenses.

They used to earn more a few years ago. Business has reduced due to the slow economy and the opening of the MRT lines.

In spite of their difficult life, they are polite and helpful.

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

This article is Dr. Lee Kum Tatt's message to start the New Year of 2008 with his wife's introductory comments.

www.leekumtatt.blogspot.com

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