Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mobile apps developer

I wish to look for mobile apps developer to take projects under the following platforms - Apple, Android, Windows, Nokia. If you are interested, send message to

High earnings of new CEO

Someone told me that the annual report of a listed insurance company showed that its recently recruited CEO earned $2.6 million in 2009. This remuneration was twice of the remuneration of the previous CEO who headed the company for 10 years. The insurance company had cut its policyholders' bonus two years ago due to market conditions and had still not restored the bonus cut.

He asked, "Mr. Tan, is this fair to the policyholders? Why is the company allowed to increase its management salaries by so much, while policyholders are still suffering the bonus cut?" He also pointed out that the previous CEO was a Singaporean and that the new CEO was a foreigner.

Foreigner first policy rankes

Here is an article by Seah Cheang Nee.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Investment in land banking in Canada

Dear Sir,
My family and I bought some land in Canada 7 years ago and have yet to see our profits actualised. Is this investment a scam? We haven't tried asking for our money back but reading about the same company being raided in Malaysia makes me think it may be one.

It is difficult for the investors to get back their money from land banking projects. Many investors have waited a long time, and have now given up hope of getting back their money.

Law on found items

The Police told me that I am not allowed to keep found items and that these items have to be reported to a neighborhood police station. The officer asked, "Did I consult a lawyer about my Lost & Found portal?"

I am not aware that there is a law regarding the return of found items to the Police. The Police officer was not able to point out the law to me anyway. If the Police does not know, how do you expect the citizens to know about such a law?

I searched the Internet to look for the existence of such a law in Singapore. I could not find any mention of it. I know that there is a law against theft of property. If somone finds a property that could be traced to the owner, e.g. car, computer, mobile phone, and keeps the property or sells it away, the finder could be guilty of stealing the property. In that case, it is better for the finder to report the found item and hand it over to the Police to be kept in its centralised store.

But the Police should make it clear to the public that they can report a lost item to be traced. The Police needs an efficient matching system. Perhaps they can use my portal or create one of their own.

There is the concept of "finders keepers". I believe that if an item is lost and it is not possible for the finder to trace the owner, the finder is entitled to keep the item. However, if the owner comes back one day to claim the item, and assuming that the owner is able to prove ownership, then the item has to be returned to the owner.

Tan Kin Lian

Monitor my blog

Someone asked me, "How did the Police learn about my Lost and Found portal?". I suspect that they are instructed to monitor my blog to look for seditious or defamatory statements.

Various categories of public housing

Our HDB flats have become expensive and is now a burden for many young people to start their first home.

To solve this problem, I have suggested that a new category of HDB housing be offered based on cost of the flat. This could bring down the price by 30% to 50%. The resale value of this new category will be based on the cost of a new flat (which will increase with inflation) less depreciation of the flat.

I believe that it is possible to have the various categories of HDB flats to co-exist side by side. Right now, we have HDB and executive apartments. What is wrong with a third category, with different conditions?

Some people may choose to pay more for the "market based" HDB flats. Other people may prefer to pay less for the "cost plus" HDB flats. Give them a choice. From my survey, the demand for "cost plus" flat is likely to be higher than "market based". It does not matter how the final choice will turn out. It is good to offer the choice.

Tan Kin Lian

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Video: How to solve the Shape Quiz

Watch this video on the technique to solve the Shape Quiz.
It is good to develop your child's creativity and thinking process and confidence to solve a problem.
It is also good for seniors to keep their mind alert.
You can order the mini-pak or book here.

Lesson from Mao

Someone told this story to me. Mao Tse Tung was admired and loved by the people of China for his contributions to building the nation during the first three decades of his leadership. During the last decade, he lost the respect of the people due to many mistakes that were made in his attempt to perpetuate his power, which worsen the living conditions for the people.

Treat people equally

DPM Teo Chee Hean is quoted to have said, "A company that does not discriminate against any particular age group or gender will naturally have access to a large pool of potential hires".

I agree with this concept of non-discrimination and ask that it be applied to all aspects of Singapore life. We should treat people equally in respect of the following (just a few examples):

- school fees
- medical fees at government facilities
- income tax relief for children
- contribution to CPF

We are so used to being differentiated according to our residential status, employment status, educational level, education level of our mother, year of birth and other factors that it becomes part of our daily lives. It is not only unfair to those in the wrong groups - it also makes life complicated in Singapore.

Tan Kin Lian

Political implication

The GPC Chairman for Transport said that increased (COE) premium could be seen as a "cost of living" issue for current and future car owners. He said that any price increase, from COE to HDB prices, will have a "political implication".

I have heard the term "political implication" used many times by politicians from the ruling party over the past years. It is a necessary vocabulary to show their understanding of the ideology of our great leader.

There is another way to make decisions that is not based on "political implications". It is based on what is right and wrong, what is good and bad. It is right and good to take care of the welfare of the people, to maintain an affordable cost of living and to a comfortable and secure life to the people. It is not necessary to do them based on "political implications".

Tan Kin Lian

Big rats and fat cats

How is this relevant to Singapore? What is the role of government? Read this article by Dr. Wong Wee Nam.

Role of Government

The poor will only get a fair share of the economic pie through a just re-distribution of income. The only way to re-distribute income is through public policies and laws. Unfortunately the problem is that most of the people who are in the position to influence, initiate or implement the changes are members of the tiny apex who have the largest share of the national income. Unless one is very altruistic, who would want to come out with an equitable system especially when it means affecting one’s self-interest? It is natural for anyone in this position to believe completely the virtue of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”.

Big businesses and corporations love to wave the flag of globalisation, free market and competitiveness. This is because the wages of the workers can always be kept low by making them compete against foreign workers that can be imported from the part of the world where many people are still hungry. They can easily wring concessions from workers with the threat of relocation. Conversely, no worker can hope to wring concession from the bosses with the threat of resignation or emigration.

The power of big corporations and businesses can also be be seen in Singapore. Thus when companies do not make profit, they can put pressure to cut the workers’ salaries so that they can still be profitable. If the profit is not attractive enough, they can exert pressure to bring down the corporate tax rates.

In the end not only do they pay lower taxes, the tax payers’ money that is used to produce skilled workers, good infrastructure and a safe environment for these companies will be raised through the GST that is paid by everyone.

In a just and equal society, the role of the government should be to act as a regulator to balance the needs of the people and the greed the big businesses. Its job should be to iron out any kinks that may give rise to injustice and conflict and to re-distribute wealth in a fair manner. Its policies should not favour one side or the other. It cannot play such role if it decides to go into business and become a Fat Cat itself.

For a just an equal society, a government must be able to control the greed of the Big Rats and trim the fat of the Fat Cats instead of justifying the necessity of their existence

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Make a date with FISCA on 8 May 2010

Make a date with FiSCA on 8 May 2010 from 3pm to 6pm. Talk on "Financial Planning - A Practical Guide"

Note this down in your diary. Put it in your calendar. Register now! It's free to all FiSCA members. Also, a free copy of the Practical Guide on Financial Planning book will be given out to all members who attend the talk.

The public is welcome to join in as well. Public participation fee is $30. For this event only, the public who attends the talk will also get a copy of the Practical Guide on Financial Planning book worth $12.

Group insurance rates

You can view the group insurance rates charged by Aviva for SAF members and dependents here. These rates can be used as a benchmark to compare the rates offered by other insurance companies for term life, critical illness and personal accident insurance.

The rates for term life (payable on death) and personal accident (payable on death or injury by accident) is the same regardless of age.

The rates for critical illness increase sharply after age 45. If you find them to be expensive, you do not need to have this insurance, if you already have sufficient savings by that time. You can draw down on your savings in the event of a critical illness.

Assume that you are 30 years old, earn $3,000 a month and wish to insure for the following:
Term life $200,000 premium $25.60
Critical illness $100,000 premium $10.00
Personal accident $100,000 premium $4.17
Total premium $39.17

The premium is about 1.3% of your earnings. This rate will remain unchanged until you reach age 45. After that, you have to pay a higher premium for critical illness, but you can discontinue it at that time.

CNBC Interview with Roger Kirby

 The US law firm Kirby McInerney will be speaking at a seminar on 13 April about class action in the USA to recover losses due to securities fraud. You can watch an interview with Roger Kirby in this CNBC video.

Investing and the casino

This article is quite frank. It says that investing is like the casino. The lessons from the casino can be applied to investing. I agree.

Lost & Found Service

I have launched the Lost & Found website.

I sent this media release, but the newspapers did not cover it. I have approached several transport companies and educational institutions to tell them about this service and to encourage them to report the lost & found items in this website, to make it easy for the items to be matched. Two of them have responded positively.

The Police called my office to tell me that under the law, I am not allowed to keep the found item. They said that the found item has to be reported to a neighborhood police station and kept in a central store. This works fine for me and save me the hassle. I will post more details about this service in the website.

I hope that my readers can help to promote this website through Facebook and other social media.

Tan Kin Lian

Affordable housing

Read this article in the blog: Diary of a Singapore Mind

My comment:
The problem has reach a stage which is difficult to solve. Housing price is too high. People are unclear about how to treat housing - is it an investment or a cost of living? One party blames the other party.

My preferred approach is to create a new type of housing based on controlled price, i.e. cost plus. This can be adjusted with inflation and reduced by depreciation. Give people a choice whether they wish to treat housing as an investment (i.e. based on the current market pricing) or as a cost of living (i.e. based on the controlled pricing).

Tell a blatant lie

The benefit illustration of a life insurance policy showed the distribution cost to be 7.3% of the total premium paid over 25 years. If the total premium amounted to $100,000, the distribution cost was $7,300. The insurance agent twisted the figures and said that the cost was only $292 a year and amount to 0.3% of the invested sum (i.e. similar to the cost of investing in a exchange traded fund).

This is a blatant lie, as the annual cost of $292 is still 7.3% of the annual investment of $4,000. The agent twisted the figure to confuse the clients.

How many agents adopt this type of dishonest way to sell their high cost life insurance policy? Is this type of blatant lie being taught to the insurance agent by their training managers?

Do you know which agent you can trust, and which agent to avoid? It is important for consumers to be educated and avoid falling into this type of trap. Spend $12 to buy my book, Practical Guide on Financial Planning, and learn a better way to manage your savings and investments through an exchange traded fund. Do not spend $7.300 as distribution cost in a financial product that gives you poor value.

Tan Kin Lian

Group insurance from Aviva

Aviva has offered attract group insurance - term, critical illness and personal accident - to their existing policyholders under the SAF scheme and their spouses. I have looked at the premium rates and found them to be quite attractive.

I have recommended to consumers to buy term insurance (including critical illness and personal accident riders) and to invest their savings in a low cost investment fund. The group insurance offered by Aviva under the SAF scheme is suitable and get my endorsement.

If you are not an existing policyholder under the Aviva SAF scheme, you can get similar group insurance under the SAFRA scheme offered by NTUC Income - if you are a SAFRA member (and most Singaporeans are).

For the low cost investments, it is best to invest in the STI ETF managed by State Street (lot size is 1,000 shares or about $2900) or the fund managed by DBS (lot size is 100 shares or about $290). The transaction cost and expense ratios are quite similar in both cases. The DBS fund has the advantage of being in smaller lots. (Note: there is a minimum brokerage of 40% and a higher brokerage rate for smaller transactions, so it is not feasible to invest in 100 shares lot of DBS STI ETF. It is better to invest in the Statestreet 1000 shares lot.)

If you buy term insurance for protection and invest in a low cost investment fund, you will get a much higher return from this investment strategy compared to the high cost life insurance policies that are offered in the market now. This concept is explained in my book, Practical Guide on Financial Planning ($12) available here.

Tan Kin Lian

Platform fee on Fundsupermart (2)

Some investors are unhappy with the platform fee of 0.5% that is being imposed by Fund Supermart. They have two options of responding:
- move to another platform, e.g. Dollar Dex or POEMS]
- sell their unit trusts

They should consider the second option for the following reasons:
- they probably make a profit from the high stockmarket prices now
- by selling the funds, the fund managers may ask FSM to remove their platform fee.

The underlying unit trusts already pay a share of their annual fee to FSM. It is not fair for FSM to add a new layer of fee.


When the Japanese economy busted at the end of the 1980s, it went through a deflation that has lasted nearly 20 years. Some commentators said that the US economy may go through a period of deflation but they are optimistic that the economy is more robust and will recover. I am less optimistic. I think that the underlying weakness of the free market system , which contributed to asset bubbles, may affect the US economy as badly as it had affected the Japan economy.

During a period of economy growth, people are willing to borrow and invest in assets, leading to inflation. During a period of deflation, people are not willing to borrow and invest and the excess capacity will take a long time to be utilized. More people will remain unemployed and this will worsen the deflationary cycle.

The second world war ended the deflation of the 1930s. We may need a third world war to end this deflation. But it is also possible to find a more peaceful solution - and that requires to restructure the global economic system into a more socialist type, using the Keynesian approach or its modern version.

Tan Kin Lian

Chance for change in Singapore

Read this article by Yoong Siew Wah.

My comment:
I believe that change will be good for Singapore. Several of the old economic and social policies have not been good for the people and need to be changed.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

More business for taxi drivers

A taxi company boss told me that the business for taxi drivers has picked up significantly since the opening of the Sentosa integrated resort (aka casino). The average earnings of taxi drivers has increased to $2,500 compared to $2,000 previously. Some taxi companies have applied to the Government for work permits for taxi drivers from overseas - due to shortage of locals willing to be taxi drivers. I hope that more unemployed workers will come forward to try driving a taxi.

Employ adequate public officers

We need sufficient people working in the public sector to deliver public services to the people. We need adequate numbers of  teachers, nurses, doctors and policemen, in proportion to the population. If the population increases, we have to employ more public officers. In particular, we need more people in the police force to keep law and order, to investigate crime and fraud and to prosecute criminals. If the increase in public officers is in line with the popular, the total cost of public service will still remain at the same share of the national spending.

We should not try to keep down cost by employing insufficient public officers. We need sufficient manpower to maintain the standard of public service. We cannot expect over-worked officers to deliver the expected standard of service.

If we do not provide sufficient employment in the public sector, there will be insufficient jobs in the private sector to absorb the excess manpower. We should not have too many people selling insurance, property and financial products, as they do not add to the real wealth of the country, although they may create false wealth through asset bubbles.

We should also avoid paying high salaries to the top levels of the public sector to match the salaries in the private sector. The private sector salaries are likely to be excessive anyway, and should be moderated in some suitable way, e.g. to impose a high rate of tax on extremely high earnings. If we remove one top earner, we may be able to create jobs for 50 people at the working level.

Let us have a fair balance. We need adequate people in the public sector to provide an adequate level of service while keeping the cost at an acceptable level.

Tan Kin Lian

Quick action could have reduced number of spa victims

My comment:
It is important for the Police to investigate a potential fraudulent practice promptly, rather than expect the public to provide evidence. The public do not have the resources and the power to carry out an investigation to produce the evidence.

There are several potentially fraudulent practices, such as land banking and get rick quick schemes. If the Police does not investigate, more people will fall victim to the frauds.

Unethical opt-out mailer on insurance

Kirby McInerney on CNBC

Dear Best Friends and Business Associates,

Roger Kirby will be appearing on CNBC Asia Squawk Box Wednesday morning at 7:30AM Singapore time.  He'll be interviewed from NY, and the anchors will be Martin Soong and Karen Tso.  The topics that he will be discussing include:
1)      What does your firm do for Asian investors?
2)      What rights to Asian investors have in a US court?
3)      What results have Asian investors received/could receive in a US court?
4)      Are these cases worth it financially given the time involved in reaching a resolution?
5)      Do you expect more cases to be brought?
6)      Is fraud on the rise? In what sectors?  In what ways?
7)      What kind of regulation will prevent the fraud that has been committed?

Teo Guan Hock

Do not trust unrealistic projections

Dear Mr. Tan,
I would like to seek your advice on a policy which I had signed up, which is still within the 14 day free look period.

1) The benefit illustration of my policy showed that the "effect of deduction" drops significantly in the 25th year as compared to the 20th year. Would you know the reason for this?

Reply: I do not trust this type of projection where the effect of deduction drop "magically" after 20 years, i.e. the maturity value increases "magically" on the 25th year. When the time comes, the insurance company will find many excuses to tell you whey they are not able to pay out the "magical" increase. Remember, these figures are not guaranteed.

2) I am a bit confused as to which year I should take to calculate the "effect of deduction". Assuming 5.25% Investment Return, the effect of deduction at the 20th year is 37% while at the 25th year, it is 17%. The difference is vast and if I take the 20th year calculation, the policy is obviously too expensive but if I take the 25th year calculation, the policy appears reasonable. Can you advise which is the correct figure I should use?

Reply: Do not trust the "magical" figure shown on the 25th year.

3) I informed my agent that distribution cost works out to be 7.3% which is quite high in my opinion. However, he informed me that over 25 years, the distribution cost only works out to be 0.3% a year and that if I buy ETF yearly, the transaction costs will work to be around there. Is this argument valid?

Reply: If you invest in ETF, the distribution cost is 0.3% of the total invested sum, compared to 7.3% for the life insurance policy. It is dishonest for the agent to divide the 7.3% by 25 years and say that the cost is the same. The agent is telling you a blatant lie.

4) I informed my agent that I have heard horror stories of policies falling way off projected returns upon maturity. However, he mentioned that in the past, the projections were very high and that now, MAS has regulated the projections to be a very reasonable and definitely acheivable 5.25%. Again, is this true?

Reply: The horror story will happen again in the future, due to the unrealistic projection on the 25th year.

5) I highlighted that saving through ETF or investing in equities may yield more but my agent informed me that it is easier said than done and it takes a lot of discipline to keep investing and monitoring shares and buying the policy would be a disciplined way to save for the future. What do you think of this?

Reply: It is easy to keep investing in ETF. You will have better control of your money. There is no need to monitor the ETF as it is well diversified and invested in 30 large shares.

6) Finally, do you think that this policy is reasonable and I should keep it or is it too expensive and I should terminate it while I still can?

Reply: I would take advantage of the 14 day free look period, and give up the policy for a full refund.

You can buy my book, Practical Guide on Financial Planning here. Spend $12 and save a few thousand dollars. Be educated. Do not be misled by dishonest agents.

CNA More quit workforce in their 50s

Read this article in Channel News Asia.

My comment:
I believe that most people want to work to an older age, but they are likely to be retrenched due to restructuring of the company, the desire of the company to increase their profits by employing lower cost workers and the weak protection of workers' rights.

Different management style

Dear Mr Tan,

After serving NTUC for 30 years, I must say that we have lost a caring leader that really look after the welfare and investment of policy holders. With the new comer, all the existing management staff who have followed you for many years have to give way !!! One of the “victim” is a friend of mine and I could not believe the way he has been treated. After spending almost all his life in this career, learning from your style of hard working and not to waste unnecessary money for any expenses related to work, he has to face a new comer after you left. With a promise of two years  contract, he was asked to leave only half a year later after he has given his full collaboration to new staff understudy from him !

It appears the new management style of working is totally different from yours and the new policy is no longer “attractive” as before ! It is unfortunate to see such things happened in one of the most modern city in the world.


Monday, April 05, 2010

Time to review COE system?

Published in Straits Times on 5 April 2010

The current system of bidding for Certificates of Entitlement has been operating for more than twenty years. When it was first introduced, it was envisaged that the end buyers would be bidding for the certificates.

Over the years, the bidding for these certificates appear to be dominated by the motor dealers who make a large profit on the trading of these certificates, adding to the total cost of ownership of a vehicle. The bidding system also encourages speculation and price volatility due to greed and fear.

One obstacle for the end buyer to bid directly is the high price of the certificate and the lack of financing for this item.

I wish to suggest the following modifications to the system reduce the speculative activity:

- Allow the successful bidder up to of six months to find a suitable vehicle
- Require the successful bidder to pay only 10% at the time of bidding and the remaining 90% on purchase of the vehicle
- Change the bidding cycle to three months (instead of the current one month).

The proposed changes will create a fairer and more transparent market for the certificate of entitlements and remove the unhealthy speculation.

Tan Kin Lian

Dear Mr Tan,
I saw your letter to the ST Forum today. I applaud you that you raised this issue for consumers like me. I was held captive by the COE system. The COE bidding discourages end users to bid due to the high upfront cash layout as deposit. Genuine bidders with limited cash will be left out. We are left at the mercy of the car companies who do not provide transparent cost structure.

Very often, you will not get a good car price if you got for your own COE. LTA insists that COE is transparent but COE is obviously a tool for car company to hide profits. I do not have the history of when COE started, (how many people have? we buy cars at most 5 times in our life time?) e.g. why there is this 'Open Category' where car companies can hold them and trade later, exchanging hands ... There seems to be more happening than we, as consumers, know. This is not transparent and definitely unfair.

S Y Tan

Role of insurance agents

Insurance agents can play a useful role in marketing insurance to consumers. However, the insurance products must be designed to be fairly priced and to give good value to consumers. The design of the product is the responsibility of the management and the actuary.

Many general insurance products carry a commission rate of 10% to 15% of the premium. This is acceptable, if the premium is based on the risk that is covered by the policy. This rate of commission can be applied to health and term insurance policies.

For savings and investment policies, the commission rate should be much lower, e.g. similar to the chargespayable for the purchase of shares and bonds, e.g. brokerage is 0.3% of the amount invested. It is wrong for the commission and distribution cost to take away one or two years of the savings.

I hope that the life insurance companies and their management and agents change their practice to offer life insurance products that are fair and good for consumers. This will allow insurance agents to hold their heads high that they are serving their clients well.

I like to ask my readers to be fair in making your comments and not to use this blog to  "bash" insurance agents. Please state your views objectively.

Tan Kin Lian

Book-keeping scam

A FEW weeks ago, two Republican House members asked Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, whether the Fed knew — before Lehman’s bankruptcy examiner revealed it — about the bookkeeping scam at Lehman known as “Repo 105.”

Well, the truth is this: The collapse of Enron back in 2001 revealed that the biggest financial institutions, here and abroad,were busy creating products whose sole purpose was to help companies magically transform their debt into capital or revenue ...

High rate of tax

America is discussing how to curb the high salaries of top CEOs.

In my view, the best way is to impose tax of 90% on salaries above 50 times of the average national wage. The current average net compensation in America is $40,000. This will mean that the special tax will apply to salary above $2 million. The salary of the President of America is only $400,000.

There is an argument that high tax will drive away the top CEOs. I disagree. The top CEOs have to work in a company that is likely to use the human resources or market of the domicile country. It is not easy for the top CEOs to relocate to another country. For example, the health care companies in America make their profit in that country and cannot be relocated overseas. This also applies to the profits from the other big professions, such as law and accountancy.

The financial services industry may be one that can be relocated overseas. However, the top bankers and financial traders make their profits from excessive speculation and leverage, which is likely to be curbed and is not sustainable anyway.

The wonderful outcomes of a high tax on excessive earnings are:
- prevent the rampant profiteering at the expense of consumers
- can abolish the wasteful  and unfair Goods and Services Tax.

There should also be an international agreement among the countries to prevent the use of a tax haven strategy to attract the high income earners to move their profits or earnings into that country. It is almost like cheating other countries of their tax revenue.

Tan Kin Lian

Lost & Found Portal

Have you lost a mobile phone, notebook computer, pet or other item. Report it at the Lost & Found portal. If you have found an item, you can also report it here. Our staff will match the reports and contact the owner and the finder. This service is free. Click here.

Please help to publicise this service through your blog, twitter, facebook and other social media.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Here is an explanation of this new term.

Al Jazeera English TV

Al Jazeera English TV is dropped from SingTel Mio TV from April 1, 2010. Here is a selection of some of their videos

Microsoft .NET developer

I wish to look for developer who is familiar with Microsoft .NET to work on a project or to work at my office. Preference will be given to a person living in or near Ang Mo Kio. If you are interested, send an email with your resume to

If you wish to attend a course, there may be a government scheme to give you a training allowance and work for me after completing the training course.

Private medical practice

Some of the trends in USA may come to Singapore. Read the views of some doctors here.

Modify the COE system

The COE system for allocating licences for new vehicles has been used for more than 20 years in Singapore. It is a crude system that produces the following negative impacts:

- it encourages speculation on the COE prices and lead to price escalation due to fear of further increases
- the motor dealers take advantage of the system to make speculative profits at the expense of consumers.

Is there a better system? I like to propose the following modification to smoothen price volatility, reduce speculation and allow consumers to bid directly:

- have COE bidding for six months (and not monthly)
- the car owner is allowed six months to buy a car (and the COE will start from the date of purchase)
- the car owner needs to pay a deposit of 10% to make a bid and the balance on receiving the COE
- an owner who sells a new car within one year has to pay a levy (to prevent speculation)

Tan Kin Lian

Great websites

I wish to look for great websites on the following:
- financial education
- education (popular universities)
- travel (great places to visti)

I will put the links in this page:

If you know of these websites, please send a link to or post them as a comment. I will put them as links in my portal.

Unconscionable remuneration

U.S. health insurance giant WellPoint Inc. revealed Friday that it boosted its chief executive's compensation 51% last year. Chief Executive Angela F. Braly saw her total compensation shoot to $13.1 million, from $8.7 million a year earlier. "It's unconscionable," said Mark Weiss, a Century City podiatrist whose policy will jump 35%.. "How much more does somebody need?",0,3259739.story

Someone complained to me that top executives in life insurance companies in Singapore are getting big salary increases while the bonuses to policyholders are being cut. It is sad that the regulator does not realize that they have a responsibility to protect the welfare of policyholders in getting a fair return on their long term savings.

Electric vehicles for short distance travel

More people are now using bicycles for short trips, e.g. to the MRT station. They have to use pedestrian walkways as there are no separate lanes for bicycles and it is dangerous to cycle on the main roads. Pedestrians have complained about the safety hazard.

Some cyclists have asked for separate lanes to be provided for them. However, this is not an efficient solution. If more people cycle to the MRT station, there will be insufficient parking space for the bicycles and the risk of theft and vandalism. Bicycles are not suitable for rainy days.

A better system is to use small electrically driven vehicles (like a golf cart) on a for time based hiring.  The vehicles can be parked in various locations in a town and used by the public (who have to register as members) to move from one station to another. This system requires the initiative of the town council to provide parking spaces and to have separate paths for the vehicles.

Paris is implementing such a system.

Tan Kin Lian

Investing in Foreign Currency

Some people like to invest in foreign currencies to earn a higher yield. For example, they can earn 3.1% on Australian dollars (1 month deposit) compared to 0.2% on Singapore dollars. However, they have to consider the spread of 1.7% in converting to Australian dollars and back. The higher interest rate is taken away entirely by the spread for short time deposits.

You can reduce the spread to 0.1% by investing in Australian dollars through the forex trading market. For example, if you wish to invest in AUD 50,000 you can buy the same amount in the forex market. Although you have to put in a margin of only 2%, i.e. AUD 1,000, you can keep the remaining 98% of the invested sum in Singapore deposit and enjoy the same investment result.

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