Saturday, August 15, 2009

Results of the JUTA Award (1)

Here are the results, based on 24 replies to the JUTA Award, to recognise an organisation or person who "jumps up and take action" to put things right.

I have excluded over 30 responses from the same IP address, giving the same answer in favour of one organisation. This hacker managed to bypass the security feature in the survey software to prevent repeat entries.

The survey is still open. Vote here.


Who said this, "Every tyrant will eventually destroy his own legacy" ?

An equal opportunity

God creates Earth with abundant land, forest, oceans, animals, plants and fishes. He gives every person an equal opportunity to make a living as a farmer, hunter, fisherman or craftsman. He is not a capitalist and does levy a charge or rental for using the natural resources.

In a modern society, every person should be given an equal opportunity to have meaningful work for a fair wage, without being exploited by people who take the lion share of the rewards.


A reader commented that Tan Kin Lian is a socialist. I am more inclined to be a social democrat, along the lines of our national pledge to "build a democratic society based on equality and justice".

I have also run a cooperative enterprise for 30 years based on the principles of cooperation. I wish to share this explanation of socialism, which I found in Wikipedia.

Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating state, public or common worker (through cooperatives) ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with an egalitarian method of compensation.

Modern socialism originated in the late 18th-century intellectual and working class political movement that criticized the effects of industrialization and private ownership on society, however, socialism itself is not a political system; it is instead an economic system distinct from capitalism. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels used the terms "socialism" and "communism" interchangeably, and posited that it would be achieved via class struggle and a proletarian revolution.

Vladimir Lenin, perhaps influenced by Marx's ideas of "lower" and "upper" stages of socialism, later used the word "socialism" as a transitional stage between capitalism and communism.

Early socialist thinkers tended to favor an authentic meritocracy combined with rational social planning, while many modern socialists have a more egalitarian approach.

Socialists mainly share the belief that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital, creates an unequal society, does not provide equal opportunities for everyone to maximize their potentialities and does not utilize technology and resources to their maximum potential nor in the interests of the public. Therefore socialists advocate the creation of a society that allows for the widespread application of modern technology to rationalize the economy by eliminating the anarchy in production of capitalism, allowing for wealth and power to be distributed more evenly based on the amount of work expended in production, although there is considerable disagreement among socialists over how and to what extent this could be achieved.

Socialism is not a concrete philosophy of fixed doctrine and program; its branches advocate a degree of social interventionism and economic rationalization, usually in the form of economic planning, sometimes opposing each other. Another dividing feature of the socialist movement is the split between reformists and the revolutionaries on how a socialist economy should be established. Some socialists advocate complete nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange; others advocate state control of capital within the framework of a market economy.

Social democrats propose selective nationalization of key national industries in mixed economies, while maintaining private ownership of capital and private business enterprise. Social democrats also promote tax-funded welfare programs and regulation of markets. Many social democrats, particularly in European welfare states, refer to themselves as "socialists", introducing a degree of ambiguity to the understanding of what the term means.

Tan Kin Lian

How not to lose your mind

Will Sudoku help? Read this report.
Are there other games to exercise the mind? Try here.

Healthcare arund the world

This report compares Singapore with US, France and UK.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bus arrival times

The Land Transport Authority is spending a lot of money to upgrade the bus arrival time shown in 50 bus stops. There is a better way to spend this budget to improve the bus service. My suggestion is listed here.

Strategy - how government approaches a problem

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount." However, in government more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead Horses.
5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living impaired.
7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead Horse's performance.
10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than live horses.
12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And, of course...
13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Contributed by A Tan

Case of the $12,000 kidney stone

Read this article.

Adjudication by FIDREC

Dear Mr Tan,
I will be facing a legal counsel from X (the financial institution) and one of the 5 other listed representatives in my adjudication. Further, the RM who sold me the minibond is named as a witness. As mentioned to FIDReC and MAS, I do not understand why for instance, a robber can be named as a witness instead of the 'Accused'. The arrangement has the effect of X sending three representatives including one legal counsel against me alone.

FIDReC stand since March (I sent in my complaint in Nov 2008) when I was told of adjudication procedures has been that I have to accept this arrangement if the Adjudicator did not reject.

I am wondering if others are facing similar unjust arrangement? Did they share their solutions with you? Appreciate if you can provide some advice. Thank you.

Many investors have expressed unhappiness with the FIDREC arrangement and the outcome.

I suggest that you bring up this matter to the Consumer Association (CASE) to ask for consumers to be given a fair hearing. CASE is represented on FIDREC. You can send your letter to Mr. Seah Seng Choon at

Petition to PM on credit linked notes (7)


Signatures as at 1 August: 650

The signing of the online petition has slowed down during the past weeks. An average of 10 people sign each day.

With the recent decision by Great Eastern Life to buy back their structured products, there is some hope of getting the banks and financial institutions to adopt the same settlement given in Hong Kong.

I urge all investors to put in a renewed effort to get more people to sign the petition and reach the target of 1,000 signatures.

Update as at 9 August: 716 signatures (average of 10 per day)

How to be happy

Read this article.

Whole life and endowment with low rates of commission

Someone asked me why I am against whole life and endowment plans, and why I offered these plans during my tenure as CEO of NTUC Income.

I have covered these issues on several occasions in my blog during the past two years. I shall repeat what I have said earlier.

I do not like life insurance plans that have these features:

a) Pays high rate of commission
b) Pays a low rate of bonus (i.e. less that what has been earned)
c) Gives a poor return

During my tenure as CEO of NTUC Income, the whole life and endowment plans had the following features:

a) Pays a modest rate of commission (i.e. about half of the market rate)
b) Pays a high rate of bonus
c) Gives a fairly attractive return, i.e. more than 5% p.a for policies taken in the earlier yeras.

During the last three years of my tenure, I encouraged the agents to sell term insurance and to sell an investment linked plan with low rates of commission (i.e. 15% for 3 years only).

After I left, the marketing strategy has changed.

Tan Kin Lian

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Interests of policyholders protected: MAS

Published in St Times Forum page

I REFER to last Thursday's letter by Mr Larry Haverkamp, 'Transparency in insurance: Policyholders underpaid'. He suggests that insurers have built up 'orphaned money' by under-declaring bonuses to participating policyholders. This is not the case in Singapore. With the introduction of the Risk-based Capital Framework in August 2004, insurers in Singapore are required to record the total amount of assets held in the participating fund as backing the liabilities to the participating policyholders. This means all assets in the participating fund belong to the participating policyholders. The issue of 'orphaned money' therefore does not arise.

In addition, there are rules governing the distribution of bonuses for participating funds. Under the Insurance Act, when insurers declare bonuses to participating policyholders, they can distribute not more than $1 to shareholders, as compensation for their management of the fund, for every $9 of bonus declared to policyholders. This ensures that insurers have an interest to manage the participating fund properly to achieve reasonable long-term returns for policyholders in accordance with the stated investment objectives of the fund.

These requirements ensure there is no incentive for insurers to intentionally under-declare bonuses in the hope of building up large amounts of 'orphaned money' to benefit their shareholders in future.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) informed insurers in July this year that the definition of a participating policy in the First Schedule of the Insurance Act will be amended to provide even greater clarity that the assets of the participating fund belong to participating policyholders.

Angelina Fernandez (Ms)
Director (Communications)
Monetary Authority of Singapore

I have sent a reply to the St Times. I will wait a few days to see if they will publish my letter. After that, the letter will be published in this blog.

Vote for the JUTA Award (new survey)

I have created a new survey for you to cast your vote for the JUTA Award (to recognise an organisation or person who "jump up and take action" to put things right). Vote here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Update on Gathering of 22 August (1)

1. Donations
I have received donations of $1,300. This includes a generous donation of $500 from an investor. The total is sufficient to meet the expenses of the Gathering, but not sufficient to take an advertisement on the Petition. Any balance, after deducting expenses, will be donated to FISCA (Financial Services Consumer Association). Further donations are welcomed.

2. Volunteers
5 people have volunteered to help with the ground work on 22 August. I need more volunteers. Please send an e-mail to You have to report at 4 pm at the cafe outside the Hong Ling CC on 22 August.

3. Petition
730 people have signed the online Petition. We will collect more signatures at the Gathering to reach the target of 1,000 signatures.

Minimum wage jobs

In many countries, an unemployed person is eligible to receive an unemployment benefit for a certain period, e.g. 12 or 18 months. After that, the person is eligible to receive a welfare payment at a lower level.
The unemployment and welfare benefit provides a certain level of minimum income. If a private sector job pays less, the person can decline and receive the state benefit.
Most countries also have a minimum wage policy. All jobs have to pay at least the minimum wage.
This social system is fair. It ensures that everyone can get a job or a benefit that can provide an income to meet the living expenses.
Unemployment and welfare benefits can be abused. People can be lazy. An alternative is to ensure that every person is allowed to get a job, provided by the state, at a minimum wage level. They have to work to receive this payment. There are many useful public services that the state can provide to the people, such as taking care of children, elderly, environment or safety.
These public services are flexible. If there are more unemployment (due to a recession), more public service jobs can be created. When the economy recovers, these services can be reduced.
If people are employed, they do not have to resort to crime or theft to make a living. They have the dignity. The society is more humane.
Tan Kin Lian

Make an honest living

A 21 year old person asked why my blog is against insurance agents making an honest living?
This person is mistaken. My blog wants to encourage insurance agents to make an honest living. I am against dishonest practices that take advantage of the consumers.
Honest living
a. Recommend a product that is useful and gives value to the customer
b. Earn an appropriate remuneration for your time and effort
c. Be efficient, so as to lower your cost to the consumer
d. Disclose your commission
Dishonest living
a. Exaggerate the positive points
b. Hide the negative points
c. Tell lies
d. Offer a bad or expensive product (which you would not buy yourself)
e. Earn high commission at the expense of the customer
As an insurance agent or financial adviser, you have the choice to make an honest living or a dishonest living. I encourage you to be honest. You will earn the lifelong respect and trust of your customers. You can face your conscience and say, "I am an honest person".
Tan Kin Lian

Public Consultation on Human Rights - 22 Aug 2009

Hi Mr Tan,
I hope this e-mail finds you well. I am writing to you on behalf of a group called MARUAH (, and specifically Braema Mathi who leads MARUAH.

As you may know, MARUAH is a human rights group that has been dialoguing at the regional and national level with governments and other stakeholders on the ASEAN Human Rights Body under the ASEAN Charter.

The ASEAN Human Rights Body, now termed the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights, is here to stay -- you can see the Terms of Reference at We feel that a crucial precondition for the AIGCHR to be meaningful (even within the constraints of its TOR) is for all civil society members and other stakeholders to at least know what it is about and how it can impact our work.

Accordingly, MARUAH is organising a public consultation to be held on 22 Aug 2009. We would like to invite you to attend this consultation. The attachments provide more details on this public consultation and also include the registration form. You may also register online at

Human rights is only going to gain more significance in the Singapore political landscape. We strongly encourage you to be part of this consultation. We intend to offer a one-stop shop for those who need more information, and we will also seek to gather views (without attribution to any particular group or person, to encourage a more open and frank discussion).

We would also greatly appreciate it if you could forward this email (including the attachments) to others who may be interested in this event, and also publicise this event on your site (e.g. by linking to

We really hope to see you there, to be part of the process of shaping the future for the next generation.

Thank you and we look forward to receiving your positive response.

Best regards,
Kum Hong

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Singapore GDP spike 20%

Read the good news here.

Day in the Life of a Family Doctor

Read this article.

Cost of Financial Planning advice

Some financial planners say that they need to spend 40 hours to gather information and give suitable advice to the customer. They need to charge $500 to $1,000 for this advice. This is expensive.

If doctors spend 40 hours to gather information about a patient and give suitable treatment, it will also cost just as much to see a doctor. But the doctor (i.e. general practitioner) has found a way to reduce the time taken, so that the information gathering and treatment can be done within 15 minutes. The doctor charges around $30 for consultancy. Read this report about what the doctor has to know and practice.

It should be possible for a financial planner to reduce the time that is needed to give advice. Some of the steps are:

a) Give a booklet to the consumer to read on their own, and understand the basics
b) Ask the consumer to provide the details in a form
c) The financial adviser has a preliminary discussion with the consumer
d) The financial adviser takes some time to prepare the analysis
e) The financial adviser presents the recommendation in a separate visit

If this is done using a more efficient approach, the time taken can be reduced to between 2 to 4 hours. This will reduce the cost of financial planning advice by 90%. Maybe a fee of $100 to $200 will be sufficient.

Hassle for Travellers

Do you find it discouraging to travel to another country, with the unnecessary hassle given to you by the authorities in the countries that you visit - immigration, custom, health forms, on top of the security checks? Share your views here.

Norway towns sue Citi over structured note losses

Perhaps it is time for Town Councils in Singapore to sue the distributors, following the example of the towns in Norway. Read this article.

I suggest that residents send this article to their Town Councils involved in the credit-linked notes.

NS for adult new citizens not practical

Published in Straits Times Forum Page

I REFER to last Friday's letter by Mr Michael Ang, 'Make English and modified NS a must'.

National service (NS) is not merely a rite of passage for young male Singaporeans. It was conceived with a specific objective to build up a citizens' army to defend Singapore militarily. This objective remains true today.

It is tempting to argue that foreigners should do NS as a price to pay for Singapore citizenship because many view NS as a liability borne by Singaporeans. However, NS functions as part of a wider framework of the war-fighting doctrine of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), as well as Singapore's national development. Manpower requirements, including those for conscription, must be meticulously identified and implemented.

Many foreigners coming to Singapore are in their late 20s or older. They are already economically productive and can immediately contribute to Singapore's economy. It makes little sense to disrupt their activities for two years. Whatever social networks they have developed would also need to be rebuilt.

Having modified NS is feasible only if it fits in with the overall requirements of the SAF and complements its capability. It is a waste of resources if it exists only to make some people 'serve their duty'.

Furthermore, the largest army corps is the infantry and this is where the SAF needs the most people. However, studies in other countries have shown that the specific kind of fitness needed for infantry soldiers, involving a combination of agility, stamina and tolerance of sleep deprivation, starts to degrade from the late 20s onwards. This is why armies across the world have a lower maximum age to join the infantry.

Xiao Fuchun

The Singapore Government has not resolved. I brought this issue up 25 years ago to point out the serious disadvantage faced by our male Singaporeans in having serving National Service, and having to compete for jobs with girls and foreigners. Over the years, this problem has became more serious.

Cunfusing cab fare structure

Should taxi fares be standardised? Read a practical suggestion here. Shut Out at Home, Americans Go to China

Read this article about job opportunities in China.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sense of belonging lacking among youth

44 years of nation building may be futile. Read this article.

I've got mail

Read this article.

Van for Aug 22

I need a volunteer to provide a van for transport on 22 August. Please contact me at

My life insurance policies

Dear Kin Lian
I am insured with NTUC. Seriously. I am naive and ignorant, how I should address my concerns (of the poor return) to the management board? Do you still have NTUC policies?

I had about 15 life insurance policies during my time with NTUC Income, including policies taken for my children. Many of them have matured. Some were transferred to my children.

I cancelled four whole life policies (on my life) during the past two years, due to the reduction in bonus rate and the increase in management expenses. As I am past 60, I do not need the insurance protection.

I have only a few investment linked policies left. I shall cancel them at the right time.

Insufficient savings? No wonder with poor insurance returns

Published in Forum Page, Straits Times on Aug 10, 2009

I AGREE with the views expressed by Mr Larry Haverkamp in his letter last Thursday, 'Policyholders underpaid?'.

Many life insurance policies taken today require more than 15 years to 'break even'. This is the point where the cash value of the policy is more than the premiums that were paid over the years.

During this period, the insurance company must have earned more than 40 per cent on the premiums that have been invested. As an actuary, I know that the real cost of providing life insurance cover is about one-quarter of the gain. The remaining three-quarters are used to pay the agent's commission and expenses, or retained as orphaned money, as pointed out by Mr Haverkamp.

If the orphaned money is distributed to the policyholder, as suggested by Mr Haverkamp, the return would at least have been slightly better.

In recent years, consumers have been given a poor deal on their long-term savings in life insurance policies. A careful study of the Benefit Illustration will probably bring out this point. But the Benefit Illustration is difficult for consumers to understand and needs to be explained by an insurance adviser, who tends to skim over the negative points.

This is similar to the situation with the prospectuses issued for Minibonds and other credit-linked notes.

If consumers are given a poor return on their long-term savings in life insurance policies and other financial products, and in many cases they actually get a negative return, is it a wonder why many Singaporeans do not have sufficient savings for retirement after many years of hard work, thrift and savings?

I call on life insurance companies and financial institutions to reconsider their roles and responsibilities to provide a fair deal to consumers, as they strive to make profits for their shareholders. I hope the Government will also review this unsatisfactory situation in Singapore.

Tan Kin Lian

Singaporeans are so predictable

Singaporeans are so predictable. Click here to learn why.

Happy 44th birthday, Singapore!

Harrassing the wrong people

On my return from Batam, I had to go through security check at Harbour Front. My bag had to be screened. The mobile phone has to be placed in a separate tray.

On passing through the metal detector, there was a beep. So, I had to be screened. I had to empty the wallet, keys, pen from my pockets. Many questions were asked. I only had two hands, so it was quite difficult to be holding the passport, wallet, keys and other items.

After being passed as "not carrying weapons", I collected my luggage and left. Ten minutes later, I realised that my mobile phone was missing. I had to go back to recover it.

I hope that our security officers realise that a traveller has only two hands, and that they had to take care of many things. It is not necessary to give so much hassle to the travellers, who are returning home.

The security officers are only carrying out their duty, as written by the top leaders. The top leaders (i.e. government minters and civil servants) are given VIP treatment, so they do not have to go through the hassle that lesser mortals had to endure.

I know that it is important to have security measures to ensure that terrorist do not smuggle weapons into Singapore. Are we harrassing the wrong people in the process?

In most other countries, the security officers exercise their discretion and do not follow the rules by the book. If someone (like me) does not look like a terrorist, they do not subject this person to the same detailed check.

But, in Singapore, everything goes by the book and is implemented blindly. It requires our top leaders to experience the inconvenience personally, before they change the rules. And the top leaders are trapped in their ivory towers, surrounded by security guards, and receive ground reports from underlings who only convey what they wish to hear. (Sigh). This is Singapore!

Tan Kin Lian

Investor to share experience on BBC

BBC is doing a series of global reports on the anniversary of the Lehman collapse. They are to do an "authored report", ie someone affected by the collapse in some way, talking about their experiences.

If you are interested to be interviewed by BBC, please send an email to You can request the BBC not to use your real name, but to write about your experience.

Apart from talking about how you were misled into the investment, you can also talk about the months of agony earlier with the financial institution, FIDREC and MAS.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sale of my books

An unemployed person posted a question - can he sell my books and earn a commission. If you are interested, send an email to

It is quite easy to sell my books. I sold 10 copies during my trip to Batam, just by showing people how to solve the shapes in the Shape Quiz book.

Prudential Yield 15/20 (2)

Someone posted a comment that the Prudential 15/20 is similar to the Great Link Choice. Can policyholders of this product give feedback on:

a) The structure of the product
b) Does it guarantee against the failure of a certain number of CDOs
c) What is the current value of the various tranches of this product?

FACTBOX: Jobless benefits vary around the world

With increasing numbers of people put out of work in the recession, here is a look at the unemployment benefits offered in the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Read this article.

Nominations for the SBW Award

Here are the nominations for the SBW (Sit Back & Watch) Awards:

1st choice (46 replies)
MAS - 27
President Nathan - 5
CASE - 5
PM Lee - 2

1 vote received for Public Transport Council, Goh Chok Tong, Law Society, M of Education, Investors, MD of MAS

2nd choice (26 replies)
PM Lee - 4
MAS - 4
Member of Parliament - 3
Lim Hng Kiang - 3
M of Finance - 2
Goh Chok Tong - 2

1 vote received for NTUC, M of Manpower, Singapore public, Prime Minster Office, CASE, Home Team, Land Transport Authority, People's Action Party

DBS Bank: 'definitely' no note buyback

By George Ng (HK Edition)

HONG KONG: DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd will "definitely" not buy back the Constellation Notes from its clients despite the fact that other banks have agreed to buy back another structured product they sold to investors, the bank's top executive said Friday.

"We have explained very clearly the risks involved when we sold the product to investors ... we have reviewed all complaints (regarding the sales of the product) and have made proper compensation in cases that involved mis-selling," said Chief Executive Officer Amy Yip, fielding media questions at a press briefing for the group's quarterly results.

"There will be no further settlement," she said. "We definitely won't buy back the notes." Yip emphasized that the structure of the Constellation notes is very different from the so-called Lehman Brothers minibonds.

Last month, 16 banks offered to pay at least 60 cents on the dollar to investors for the minibonds guaranteed by Lehman Brothers that lost their value after the US investment bank collapsed.

Linked to the credit of a basket of companies including Lehman, the value of the Constellation notes will be reduced whenever any of the reference institutions suffers from credit events such as bankruptcy or default.

DBS said in a statement in October last year that the possibility of the 4,700 investors losing their entire investment of $241-million in the Constellation notes "is likely to materialize".

Meanwhile, Koh Boon Hui, chairman of DBS Group Holdings Ltd, parent of DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd, told the same press briefing that the group will "definitely" not reduce its headcounts further.

Rather, the bank will do "necessary" recruiting in Hong Kong as business improves with the economy, Yip added.

DBS, Singapore's largest bank and one of Southeast Asia's largest banks, cut 900 jobs late last year after the global financial crisis hit the world, with half of the headcount reductions coming from its Hong Kong unit.

The DBS group yesterday reported a net profit of 552 million Singapore dollars (S$) in the second quarter, up 21 percent from the first quarter as revenue growth boosted earnings before bad-debt allowances to a record S$1.6 billion.

On a year-on-year basis, net profit fell 17 percent from S$668 million as improved operating performance was offset by higher bad-debt allowances, the group said.
DBS set aside S$466 million for bad debts, almost eight times more than a year earlier, with non-performing loan ratio rising to 2.8 percent from 1.4 percent a year ago.

Meanwhile, the bank's Hong Kong unit, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd, reported a net profit of HK$532 million for the second quarter, down 21 percent from a year ago as non-interest income dropped 20 percent to S$632 million while bad-debt provisions surged 61 percent to S$373 million.

Compared with the first quarter, net profit was up 12 percent as net interest income improved by 5 percent to $1.19 billion while bad-debt provisions declined by 17 percent.

The non-performing loan ratio of the Hong Kong unit rose sharply from 1.7 percent in December to 2.6 percent in March and then retreated to 2.4 percent in June.

The embodiment of democracy in our National flag and its reality

Read this article in the Kent Ridge Common blog.
Happ 44th birthday, Singapore.

HK investors protest DBS

HONG KONG - ABOUT 100 Hong Kong investors burned by complex financial products linked to failed US investment bank Lehman Brothers protested on Sunday, demanding securities regulators help them negotiate a settlement.

Tens of thousands of retail investors in this Chinese-ruled financial hub were hit by Lehman's collapse in September.

Hong Kong securities regulators announced a settlement deal last month for one group of investors who purchased certain Lehman-linked products through local banks, but the agreement did not cover products sold by Singaporean bank DBS Group Holdings.

Sunday's protesters were demanding securities regulators step in to strike a deal for DBS clients. The demonstrators bought so-called 'Constellation' notes from DBS - financial products that are linked to the credit ratings of a group of financial institutions, including Lehman.

About 6,900 Hong Kongers bought HK$2.3 billion (S$427 million) worth of the failed investments, according to K.C. Lok, an organiser of the disgruntled investors.

'DBS lacks a conscience', 'DBS is a swindler', the protesters chanted at a park in Hong Kong's downtown Central financial district.

Lok, who bought just over HK$100,000 in the Constellation notes, accused DBS of misleading its customers into believing the financial products were conservative investments.

'Many of the investors shifted their money from timed deposits,' Mr Lok said.

DBS Hong Kong spokeswoman Glendy Chu said on Sunday that the bank had explained the risks of the products and offered compensation to investors in cases where there was evidence of questionable sales practices.

The deal announced last month would see 16 local banks returning 60 or 70 per cent of the principal to thousands of investors in a payout that amounts to HK$6.3 billion. -- AP

Nongsa, Batam is now a safe place

I visited Nongsa, the most populated town of Batam, over the weekend. I was there more than 15 years ago. That time, I felt uneasy moving around the place.

I was surprised to find the town to be quite well developed now. I felt rather safe moving visiting various places in the town. There was no feeling that bad characters were hanging around.

I asked my guide, a Singaporean who visits his family in Batam every weekend, if Nongsa is now a safe place. He said that Nongsa is now safe, and the crime rate is now low. Pickpocketing is now rare. If any pickpocket is caught, the local people would punish the culprits as they gave a bad name to Batam and scare Singaporeans from visiting the island. The crime gangs has now move to Johore Bahru to operate there - which explains its current bad reputation.

It is enjoyable to visit Nongsa, Batam.

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