Friday, June 27, 2008

Suggestions are not welcomed

Dear mr Tan
You have given so much practical suggestion for improvement for our public transport such as for MRT, taxi etc - I presume you have also been in direct contact with the concerned parties. Do they respond at all or accept any of your suggestions? Are they allowed to read your posting or allowed to reply?

I think the authorities concerned should make it a point to browse through your blog and other websites which are frequently suggesting improvement. They should actively encouraged those citizens who so freely give out ideas for improvement without any charges or selfish intention. Perhaps I am too naive to think in such way.
monsoon


REPLY
I have given a lot of suggestions to different levels of the Land Transport Authority and Ministry for Transport. Are they listening?

Read my article on "Suggestions are not welcomed".
http://theonlinecitizen.com/2008/06/suggestions-are-not-welcomed/

Often, I do not get any reply. This is our Singapore.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A divine right

A very attractive young girl was about to enter the church in a topless dress when the vicar ran towards her.

"I'm very sorry, miss," said the vicar, "but I cannot possibly allow you to go into Church like that."

"But I have a divine right," protested the young girl.

"Yes," agreed the vicar, "buy you have a divine left too, but I still cannot let you into my church like that."

Encourage more people to take public transport

Editor
Forum Page
Straits Times

During the past year, I take the MRT train regularly to visit most places in Singapore. I find the train to be more convenient that driving a car. I avoid paying high ERP and parking charges and driving in congested roads.

I wish to give the following suggestions to make it more convenient for commuters to take the MRT train:

1. Have a digital display above each door of the train to announce the previous, current and next train station as the train moves along the journey. The names of the stations can be displayed in English and Chinese. This system is used in the Taipei system and is helpful for passengers.

2. Have a green light at each door, to indicate the left or right door that will open at the next station. This system is adopted in Hong Kong.

3. Mark the space near the door with a yellow box. Passengers standing in this box should make way for disembarking passengers.

4. Display a map prominently at the exit of the MRT station, showing all buildings and bus services serving each bus stop within 2 kilometers of the station. This will make it easy for a commuter to take a connecting bus to their final destination.

5. Allow independent operators to use a light bus to run a feeder service to serve the catchment around each MRT station. This service can be operated at a low cost, with a short waiting time.

The first four suggestions are low cost and easy to implement. It will make it more convenient and enjoyable for commuters to take public transport, instead of driving a car.

Tan Kin Lian

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Give adequate wages to low income workers

I wrote an article with this title in Online Citizen. It is drawing a lot of discussion and comments.

http://theonlinecitizen.com/2008/06/give-adequate-wages-to-low-income-workers/#comments

Tolerance for mistakes

I posted this comment in www.theonlinecitizen.com regarding the case of a father who went through the immigration checkpoint using his son's passport (by mistake).

I am appalled at the attitude of Singaporeans to mistakes that must occur from time to time.
The photograph on the passport is usually taken a few years ago. It may be difficult for the immigration officer to detect the difference between a father and son from the photograph. It is sometimes diffiult to judge a person's age from his physical appearance.


If our immigration officers have to screen through 350.000 Singaporeans and visitors each day, an error rate of 1% of 1% means that 35 people will have to be missed daily.

Is there a big security risk? I doubt it. If I am a criminal trying to flee Singapore, there are better and easier ways to leave this place than using a wrong passport.

I do not like to see over-reaction that will lead to stricter measures that will create a lot of inconvenience to ordinary people who has to travel.

I do not tolerate complacency. I am very irrated to see customer service officers chatting among themselves, rather than serving the customer. This also applies to immigration officers. They should pay attention to their work, rather than chat among themselves to relieve the boredom. I hope that the supervisors can instill this discipline.

Let us accept mistakes as they occur and do not try to exaggerate their impact. We are not a perfect society. Let us focus on the more important things in life.

Jubilee Series 8 Notes

Hi Mr. Tan
What do you think of the above investment?
> Standard Chartered Bank is pleased to offer you higher fixed rate interest on your deposits and investments.

> The Jubilee Series 8 Notes, which pays 3.15% p.a%, interest payable quarterly,
EC


REPLY
There is an analysis of this product in this blog:
http://www.lioninvestor.com/merrill-lynch-jubilee-series-8-notes/

I usually advise people to avoid structured products.Read this FAQ:
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/sinvest.html

Are restructured products fair to small investors?

Are structured products fair to small investors? The evidence is "no". Many people have been disappointed with the poor yield on structured products. What can be done to deal with this problem?

Here are my views:
http://www.tankinlian.com/articles/structuredi.html

Lucky draw on a donkey.

Here is one of my favourite jokes which has some relevance to insurance.

A young man bought a donkey for $100 from a farmer. The donkey died. The owner thought of a way to get his money back. He arranged a lucky draw for the donkey, sold 100 tickets at $2 and collected $200.

The winner of the draw came to collect the donkey, found that the donkey was dead and made a complaint. The owner refunded back his $2.

The moral? Some insurance companies collect your premium. When you make a claim, the reject the claim (or refund back your premium) on the grounds of non-disclosure or other reasons. Look for an insurance company that is honorable in paying claims, and in treating customers fairly.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Waiting for Permission

Four young men - American, French, Indonesian and Singaporean were shipwrecked on an island. The local girls were friendly.

After a while, the American, French and Indonesian found their partners. The Singaporean was waiting for permission from his boss back in Singapore.

Waiting to be introduced

An Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman and an American, hitherto complete strangers to each other, were shipwrecked on a desert island. The natives were friendly and in a short time the American was doing show business, the Scot was running a store, the Irishman was training an army, while the Englishman was waiting to be introduced.

Wasteful competition

SMRT offers a free bus ride from Dhoby Ghaut station to Chinatown on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Why? I seems to be SMRT's way of diverting passengers from their competitor (ComfortDelgro) which operates the North East Line serving Chinatown.

Why is SMRT so wasteful, in creating unnecessary capacity? It will be better for SMRT to save this expenditure and reduce the train fares for their customers.

I hope that the Public Transport Council will disallow SMRT from raising their train fares, if they can afford to be wasteful.

Disembarking the MRT train

The passenger has to disembark the MRT train using the right or left door, depending on the station. Although I am a regular traveller, I have to look out of the windows to see which side has the platform.

It will be useful for the train to display a green light on the door that will open at the next station. This helps the passenger to get ready to use the right door.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Like a bird

"Doctor, I'm worried about my wife. She thinks she's a bird".

"Well, you better bring her to see me."

"I can't. She's flown south for the winter."

Unable to comment on specific products

Hi, Mr. Tan,
I have signed up for the following life insurances:

1. Life Protector Plus is uniquely designed to give you maximum and permanent life protection at a very affordable rate. It provies up to 140% extra coverage in addition to your chosen sum insured till age 65. Protection for loss of life, terminal illness and total and permanent disability (TPD). In the event of TPD, a lump sum benefit will be paid. Choice of supplementary benefits available for additional benefits and protection.

2. Nest Egg is a regular premium participating endowment plan which allows me to participate in the performance of the participating fund in the form of bonuses that are not guaranteed.There will be no bonus paid on death or TPD claim. IRR for a sum assured 50k, cover term of 20years and premium term is 15 years is 3.6%

Are these products suitable for me?
P

REPLY
I am not able to comment on these two specific products. Generally, I dislike them due to the high upfront cost to pay commission to the agent.

I advise consumers to buy term insurance and invest the difference in a low cost investment fund.

Read these FAQs:
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/fptips.html
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/savings.html

Living Policy give poor value

Someone asked me why I now advise against the Living policy - when I previously encouraged its sale as CEO of Income.

When Income kept its expenses low and distributed its bonuses fairly to policyholders, its Living policies and other products gave good value, compared to similar products in the market.

I bought two Living policies during the past years. Recently, I found to my great disappointment, that the cash value on one of the policy has still not reached the breakeven point after 12 years. This was due to the bonus cut during the crisis years.

Although the investment yield has improved significantly (with an average yield of 7.8%), the bonus cuts have still not been restored.

In fact, the cash value is far short of the "asset share" of my policy. The asset share is computed based on the premiums paid and investment income earned, less the actual expenses of the policy.

If insurance companies continue to treat their policyholders unfairly, incur high expenses and give a poor cash value that is is far below the "actual experience", I have to advise people to avoid all life insurance products - except for term insurance.

Life insurance is not a means for agents to earn high commissions and insurance companies to earn high profits, by giving a poor deal to customers.

Sand and stone

TWO FRIENDS WERE WALKING THROUGH THE DESERT.
DURING SOME POINT OF THE JOURNEY, THEY HAD AN ARGUMENT,
AND ONE FRIEND SLAPPED THE OTHER ONE IN THE FACE.

THE ONE WHO GOT SLAPPED WAS HURT,
BUT WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING,WROTE IN THE SAND
'TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE'.

THEY KEPT ON WALKING,UNTIL THEY FOUND AN OASIS,
WHERE THEY DECIDED TO TAKE A BATH.

THE ONE WHO HAD BEEN SLAPPED GOT STUCK IN THE MIRE
AND STARTED DROWNING, BUT THE FRIEND SAVED HIM.

AFTER HE RECOVERED FROM THE NEAR DROWNING,HE WROTE ON A STONE:
'TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE'.

THE FRIEND WHO HAD SLAPPED AND SAVED HIS BEST FRIEND ASKED HIM,
'AFTER I HURT YOU, YOU WROTE IN THE SAND
AND NOW,YOU WRITE ON A STONE, WHY?'

THE FRIEND REPLIED
'WHEN SOMEONE HURTS US WE SHOULD WRITE IT DOWN IN SAND,
WHERE WINDS OF FORGIVENESS CAN ERASE IT AWAY.
BUT, WHEN SOMEONE DOES SOMETHING GOOD FOR US,
WE MUST ENGRAVE IT IN STONE WHERE NO WIND CAN EVER ERASE IT'.

LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND
AND TO CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE.

THEY SAY IT TAKES A MINUTE TO FIND A SPECIAL PERSON,
AN HOUR TO APPRECIATE THEM,
A DAY TO LOVE THEM,
BUT THEN AN ENTIRE LIFE TO FORGET THEM.

Insurance for kidney failure patient

Hi Mr. Tan,

Hope that you can advise me. I am a kidney failure patient. and have two young children. What kind of insurance policy should I take up for them using my name or my wife's name? And also what type of insurance should I get for myself in my condition.
CH

REPLY
I hope that you are personally covered under Medishield or a private Shield plan. It is important that you have this cover for your own medical expenses.

You can buy a Medishield plan for your children. There is no need to buy life insurance for them. You should have savings to take care of your future needs. Read these FAQs:
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/savings.html
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/fptips.html

You will find it difficult to get life insurance due to your medical condition. Perhaps you can buy personal accident insurance. Read this FAQ:
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/pa.html

Call the hotlines for a lower quote on Motor Insurance

Hi Kin Lian,

Just to share with you my personal experience on the above. Faithfully, I drive safely for my personal and passengers' safety and earn no claim discount on my insurance premium. It reached the maximum of 50% within the first few years of owning/driving a car.

After 25 years of paying insurance premium, I feel like one of the loyal contributors to the pool for the sake of other not-so careful motorists and unfortunate injured persons. Insurers love to have us as we just pay and don't have to claim. But they don't differentiate us from other motorists.

Insurers made losses from motor insurance of which I did not have anything to do with it, yet I have to bear with adjustments in premium that they enforce to all insured parties.

Beside giving up owning a car, do you have any advice for me to look into for the sake of saving in motor insurance premium?
PT


REPLY
If your insurer increase the premium, you can look for another insurer who may be able to offer you a lower premium. The hotline numbers are shown in the FAQ:
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/motord.html

Suggestions are not welcomed

I wish Singaporeans to be more open to new ideas. They should be comfortable about interacting with other people who gives suggestions.

Why are Singaporeans so afraid of new ideas? How can they be overcomed? You can read my views in

www.theonlinecitizen.com
http://theonlinecitizen.com/2008/06/suggestions-are-not-welcomed/#comment-12182

Out of the Box

I write an article each week in the Online Citizen, www.theonlinecitizen.com. It appears in the column, "Out of the Box" You can visit this website to read about my views on life in Singapore..

Someone suggested that I should print a book of my articles. I am considering this suggestion.

Harassment by third party lawyers - action by CASE

Many motorists have received letters from third party lawyers that can be considered to be "harassing". The letters were written in legal language and were threatening. As the motorists have reported the accident to their insurance company, there is no need for the third party lawyer to harrass the motorist. They should write to the insurance company directly and sort out the claim.

I am a life member of Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE). I have asked CASE to take it up with the Law Society and they agreed. I hope that CASE and the Law Society can work out a protocol, so that the ordinary motorists will not be unnecessarily harrassed on third party claims in the future.

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