Saturday, May 19, 2012

Making a health insurance claim

Here are some tips on how to make your health insurance claims, and avoid nasty surprises and rejection.

ST inverview with Yeoh Lam Keong

Dear Mr. Tan
I enjoyed the ST interview of Yeah Lam Keong, written by Susan Leong. Usually I don't read articles from SPH journalists, as they are too pro-Govt, but the headline caught my attention, and as I read, tears welled up my eyes. What Mr. Yeoh said reflect precisely what I have been thinking about the state of situation here in our beloved country.

American economist Roubini once said about China's leaders handling of the Chinese economy, "The path of least resistance is to go forward", as by stopping what the Chinese Govt has been doing would lead to a collapse of this Asian Giant's economy, and that is catastrophic, and will lead to social chaos. 

Roubini's description of China also applies to Singapore. Our leaders have also lost their way, and they can't stop what they have been doing, so they resort to tweaks here and there to try to plug holes appearing fast in the economy. And the future is scary. The new leaders seem to be very shortsighted, no planning ahead and seem to be frozen at a standstill position. One word to describe them, incompetency,as compared to the old guards who are no longer around.

Simply, there is no real talents among the pool of PAP leaders, and lamentably, the real talents are not joining the Govt, as they know they would not get to be heard and made much contributions. All the Govt is concerned about is holding on to power at all costs, and get themselves rewarded highly, so pump in foreigners to prop up the GDP growth, their rewards being GDP linked, and in the process stepping on a large segment of the citizens, leaving them poor and demoralized.

Our PM is not able to lead Singapore, and yet is steadfastly hanging on. How we wish to have a really competent leader emerging on the political scene, but at the moment there is, lamentably, none. We really fear for the future.

Concluding an excellent article, I hope that our leaders do reflection on what Yeo said, but we know, even if PM Lee knows the situation mentioned here, he is powerless to act, simply he does not know how to  remedy it. So he could only resort to stop gaps and continue to do the same thing all over again.

It's really bleak for Singapore, and our Govt is copycating what the Chinese Govt is doing, leading to stalemate here. As citizens we have to stop dreaming, and the Govt has to stop pepertutaing this dream. but our Govt won't dare to stop.

Note: An extract of the interview can be found here.

Google driverless car

This review of the Google driver-less car is positive. It is performing up to expectation. The writer was disappointed that it may take a few more years before the car can be used on the road, as Google is cautious about making sure that it is entirely safe. Link.

Update on Corporate Portal

Several companies have joined the Corporate Portal during the initial free promotion. Read the benefits of joining this portal and the types of companies that have joined.

Outlook on shares and properties

I have posted a few articles in the FISCA website ( on the outlook for shares and properties. They are educational. Consumers should read and understand the cautious views of the experts.

Xenophobia in Singapore

Dear Mr. Tan

Here's my observation about the recent xenophobia that arose amongst Singaporeans in the wake of the Ferrari-taxi crash tragedy.

Back when I was a little kindergarten student in 1980, I learned that Singapore's population was 2.4 million. In fact, Singapore always had waves of immigration. Of course in the 19th century to mid-20th century, it was our Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese forefathers from South China who came here to work as coolies. Then when Mainland China opened up, waves of Chinese came in during the 1990s, both professionals (teachers, accountants) and non-skilled workers. There was also a big wave of Hong Kongers who migrated to Singapore before the 1997 handover to China, in addition to constant waves of Malaysians and Indonesians throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. 

All in all, it took about 25 years for the population to reach 4.2 million (increase of 1.8 million) by 2005. With the country's birth-rate so low, this was also largely the result of immigration...over 25 YEARS.  Xenophobia was unheard of and totally alien to Singaporeans before 2006. I believe the majority of Singaporeans were fine and happy with our "foreign talent" injecting fresh skills, ideas and best practices into our professions and businesses.

THEN from 2006 to 2011, suddenly there is a 1 million increase in population. Suddenly Singapore's population grew from 4.2 million to 5.2 million people in 5 YEARS. NOW, there is xenophobia.

So what happened? 

The old Biblical story of Exodus as depicted in The Ten Commandments movie classic is a case in point. When the Jews left Egypt, theirs weren't a pure Jewish community. A whole lot of Egyptians and slaves from other ethnic groups also left with them, forming a wandering disparate community of 2 million people (as estimated by Biblical scholars based on a census of 603,550 men mentioned in Exodus 38:24-29 – if you include women and children, the community population was likely to number around 2 million). There were plenty of teething problems, with the community rejecting their Jewish roots and wanting to worship a golden calf (maybe due to the influence of pagan beliefs from other ethnicities) in the beginning. OK, we all know what happened when Moses came down the mountain and became enraged at the sight of the notorious golden calf.  Subsequently, this disparate nation of 2 million people had to wander around the wilderness for 40 YEARS before they reached the Promised Land of Israel.

Lesson: It took 40 years for all the different non-Jew ethnicities to integrate with the Jews and become truly one people. There are interpretations that the 40 years in the desert was a punishment for worshiping the golden calf, but God also had a very practical reason. It takes that long to forge one united nation out of this 2 million-strong cauldron of disparate ethnicities.

My take is that 5 years is way too short to expect the 2 million foreigners now living amongst us to integrate and be totally accepted by the people of Singapore.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Letter of Administration for an Estate

Dear Mr. Tan,

I need to apply for a Grant of Letter of Administration for my late father's estate. Do you have any ready access to lawyer who could provide such services at a reasonable fee?


You can look for a list of lawyers posted in FISCA website - member only. This article shows their fees for the writing of a standard will. You can ask them to quote the fees for a getting the letter of administration and choose a lawyer who quotes a reasonable fee.

You have to be a member of FISCA to access this document. If you are not a member of FISCA,  you can apply to join FISCA first before accessing this document.

Trading in currencies

Here are some tips on how to learn about trading in currencies.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

15 great companies started out differently

Hi Tan,

We would love to share with you an article that we just posted on our own blog! “15 Famous Companies That Started As Something Much Different” ( would be an interesting story for your readers to check out and discuss on your blog.

Either way, I hope you continue putting out great content through your blog. It has been a sincere pleasure to read.

Ferrari in Bugis crash - whose fault?

The fatal crash of the Ferrari in Bugis on 12 May 2012 led to 3 fatalities. Most people placed the blame on the driver of the Ferrari, who died in the crash. Video.

I want to point out that our government agencies have also to take a share of the blame. I remember reading several letters in the newspapers from the public complaining about the racing of cars in the early mornings.

One writer went to the Police and was told to refer the complaint to the Land Transport Authority or the National Environment Agency. Apparently, none of these agencies want to take responsibility to deal with the complaint. Link

We have to stop the finger pointing among our agencies. If there is a complaint about a law being broken, e.g. driving beyond the speed limit, any agency should take the complaint and work internally with the relevant agency to deal with the matter. They should not ask the public to go from one agency to another.

Now that three people have died, and needlessly, perhaps the government agencies will wake up and take action. They should also reflect on their past attitude - and be ready to act pro-actively in the future.

Tan Kin Lian

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Understand compound interest

Many consumers do not realize the importance of understanding compound interest. This may change their perception!

Do you know your motor insurance coverage?

This is an actual case.
Mr. X’s car was hit by a lorry which was reversing from a space in a parking lot. The lorry driver was careless. Mr. X reported the damage to his insurer. The insurer advised him to visit a workshop to make a third party claim.
The workshop contacted the insurer of the other lorry.  After some time, the workshop told Mr. X that the other party was only willing to accept 50% liability for the accident. Mr. X was furious, as he felt strongly that the lorry driver was 100% at fault.
Mr. X wanted to file a complaint with FIDREC, as the assessment was unfair.  
If you were Mr. X, what would you do?

Find out the answer here.

Gold player with "buyback offer"

Dear Mr Tan
Business Times has an article about another gold company. Attached is the link

TKL Views
In my view, this is similar to taking a deposit with the promise to pay interest and pay back the principal. In this case, the deposit is the difference between the price of the gold and the amount invested. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is responsible to regulate companies that take interest paying deposit. It will be difficult for MAS to deny responsibility if the promoter is not able to meet its buy-back obligation. I hope that MAS will consult the Attorney General and take appropriate action for infringement of the regulation on deposit-taking.

Hougang by-election – my vote

Invest in ETF without passing a test

A stockbroker has told me that it is possible for a consumer to invest in the ETF without having to pass a difficult test administered by SGX. Here is the way that it can be done. Link

Advertising on Facebook

General Motors has decided to stop advertising on Facebook. They are not able to get value for the advertisign dollars spent.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Low interest rate, bubble and risk

The Minister for National Development is worried about investors rushing to buy "shoebox units". Link. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is worried that they are rushing to invest in perpetual bonds. Link.

I hope that our Government realize that the underlying problem is the extremely low interest rate in Singapore. Investors need to get a better return on their money. Retirees cannot afford to live on interest rate of 0.25% per year. If the retiree has $100,000, they only receive $250 A YEAR. Who can live on this type of income?

The low interest rate have forced investors to look at other types of investments, including paying high prices for "shoebox units" in the hope of getting a decent rental return. This high prices, which looked like a bubble,  may not be sustainable.

If the Government is concerned about the financial future of the citizens, it is time for them to review their economic policy that caused interest rate to be so low. While low interest rate is a global phenomena in recent years, the low interest rate in Singapore has been around for a much longer period.

The Government should consider the issue of long term Government bonds that offer a yield to citizens that is higher than the rate of inflation. Some countries have issued bonds that give an interest rate that is higher than inflation. This option should be explored.

Rush into perpetual bonds cause alarm

The MAS is alarmed at the rush into investing in perpetual bonds. They are worried that the investors may not be aware about the risk of investing in these bonds that have no maturity dates. See this report.

There is no need for MAS to be concerned. The investors are not that naive. They do know that these bonds do not have a maturity date. When they invest in shares, there is no maturity date either. Investing in perpetual bonds is similar to investing in shares, except that the perpetual bonds have a fixed coupon rate, while dividends on shares are not guaranteed and depend on the future profits of the company.

Both face the risk of insolvency of the company, but bond holders face a lower risk compared to shareholders, as they get paid earlier out of the proceeds of an insolvent company.

As many people understand the risk of investing in shares, the risk is much lower when investing in the perpetual bonds issued by the same company.

Perpetual bonds are quite straight forward, unlike the credit-linked securities, such as Mini-Bonds, Pinnacle Notes and other financial products that are based on derivatives  They are many complex financial products that MAS should banned from being sold to retail investors, but perpetual bonds are not within this category.

Investors should, however, be aware that all bonds, whether perpetual or non-perpetual, have a credit risk, i.e. there is the risk that the issuing company may become insolvent and be unable to pay its obligations. Investors should look at the credit rating of the bonds and, if the bonds are not rated, at the credit rating of the issuing company. If both the bond and the issuing company are poorly rated or unrated, the investors should avoid making the investment.

There is also the risk that interest rate will increase and will cause the value of the perpetual bonds to drop. If the long term interest rate increases by 1%, the market price of the perpetual bonds may drop by 20%. This risk affects all types of long term investments, and not just perpetual bonds.

This may not be of concern to the investor, if they are satisfied with the current yield (which is around 5%) and the inflation remains below this level, and they are investing for the long term.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Big banks should be regulated

Financial Tips for consumers

Here are some ways for consumers to get financially savvy and to earn much more on their investments

Hougang by-election - my vote

Is this a local election to elect a Member of Parliament to represent a constituency or a mini referendum on the performance of the PAP Government?

In my view, it is both; and more inclined towards the latter.

Local election
Both candidates have good points and deserve the support of the voters.

Desmond Choo of the Peoples’ Action Party has been working hard and “wearing his socks out”. He has also promised to continue to work in the constituency, even if he is not elected in this round.  He does get good media coverage – which is a benefit of contesting under the PAP banner.

Png Eng Huat of the Workers Party has been working in the grassroots in Hougang for five years. I know of this fact, as he was my former colleague. I know Png to be reliable, helpful and friendly.  He may appear to be “low key” but I watched a video of his speech at the previous general election – and he talked sense!

Whoever wins on 26 May will be a win for Hougang voters.

Mini Referendum
I expect that this by-election will be a mini referendum on the performance of the PAP Government over the year since the 2011 general election.

Positive Points
Here are the positive points that voters can give credit to the Government
1. It carried out a salary review of government ministers and implemented a cut of one third of their previous salaries. Link.
2. It accelerated the building of HDB flats. When completed in a few years time, the new supply is likely to moderate or reduce the cost of HDB flats. Link.
3. It reduced the issue of work passes for foreign workers and declined to renew some existing passes. Link.
4. It invested $1.1 billion to provide more buses for public transport. Link
5. It launched the Financial Advisory Industry Review to look into consumer issues in the finance sector. Link
6. It promised to review the insurance schemes for medical and long term care. Link

These are commendable efforts, although many critics were able to find fault with the pace, extent and direction of these initiatives.

Negative Points
I give demerit points to the Government on the following issues.
1. It refused to amend the Internal Security Act, in spite of a similar act being abolished in Malaysia. Link
2. It delayed the calling of the Hougang by-election unnecessarily, which prompted a resident to take this matter to court. Link
3. It appeared to be rather weak, depending on a few experienced ministers to look after several key ministries and to rely on new ministers that are inexperienced in their portfolios.
4. It refused to recognise the flaws in past policies that caused the bad outcomes, and to make fundamental changes, preferring instead to “tweak” the ineffective policies.

My vote
If I were a voter in Hougang (and I am not), I would place my vote for the Workers Party. It is important to pass a message to the PAP Government that several existing policies need a fundamental review and change. They should also change their style of government and be prepared to listen more to the “common sense” of the people in deciding on the future direction of Singapore.

Tan Kin Lian

A plus for Singapore

Sunday, May 13, 2012

SGX Academy

I registered with SGX Academy to take an online course .They have a complicated registration procedure. See this e-mail.

Dear Kin Lian Tan,
Welcome to SGX e-Learning System.
You have successfully registered on SGX e-Learning Application and an Account has been created for you. You can login into the application using following information:
Please use the password sent to you via SMS on your following handphone number:
Hand-phone Number: 65-81685845
The password typically contains 10 characters and ends with a special character. Examples of special character are ~,!, @ and ^.
If you are unable to login to system or have not received your password within 3 hours of your registration, please feel free to contact us at:
SGX elearning System Administrator

My reply to SGX
I am not able to login because my mobile phone is being charged and I am not able to retrieve the password sent by SMS. After it is charged, the 3 hours will probably expire.

Why do you have to make it so complicated for the public? This is the password for an online course. It is not the password for transfer of money. It is quite frustrating to go to so much complication and trouble.

Complicated password
I finally managed to login. I am asked to change a password to this complicated structure. This is the type of password that has to be written down on a piece of paper, because it cannot be remembered. It is quite ridiculous.

Password must not be derived from words that are:
  1. commonly used or found in the dictionary; or
  2. associated with a user's likes and interests known to his or her colleagues or friends.
Passwords must contain at least three of the following criteria:
  1. one alphabetic character in small letter;
  2. one alphabetic character in capital letter;
  3. one numeric character; or
  4. one special character
  5. Passwords must be difficult to guess. For example, dictionary words, names, number sequence and passwords associated to personal details, such as Identification Card numbers, should not be used.

FISCA Website

There are several useful web pages available only to members.
Members need to login to view the restricted pages.

Bad experience of investing retirement savings

Mr. Chan T F, a retiree, came to my office to tell me about his bad experience in investing his retirement savings. Based on my encounters with many retirees, this story sounds quite similar, and is not confined on to the bank that Mr. Chan dealt with.

Most retirees are not willing to share their experience, as they were embarrassed or did not keep a proper record of their transactions. In Mr. Chan, he wished to share his story and to advice other retirees to avoid this type of situation that he had encountered.

This video is split into three parts, due to the 10 min limitation on Youtube.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

My advice to consumers, especially retirees, is to avoid investing in the complicated investment products sold by the banks. Most of these products have features that are baffling to consumers, and can result in the unexpected outcome experienced by Mr. Chan.

Hawker center to be run by social enterprise

This is a good idea, and should be supported

Do not over-react

I urge Singaporeans not to over-react to general comments posted by foreigners and not to retaliate in a way that reflects badly on our character.

Complicated offer

9 May 2012

Editor, Forum Page
Straits Times

Recently, I contacted Singtel to upgrade the speed of the internet connection in my office. The Singtel sales representative provide the prices for the various speeds and a choice of several free software, hardware, mobile line or mobile broadband. The details of the promotional offers are sketchy.

I do not understand why it is necessary for Singtel to give these complicated offers, which require the business customer to spend time to evaluate the offers, causing a delay in the primary transaction. It would have been much easier, if they had offered a lower price for their internet service.

Singtel also wanted to check if my earlier contract had expired and if a penalty has to be imposed for the early termination of that contact. I am puzzled at this practice, as I am upgrading to a service that provides a higher revenue to Singtel. Surely, they can just transfer me to the new contract without imposing a penalty on me, or forcing me to wait for the completion of the current contract.

I continued to be puzzled at the convoluted way that business is done in Singapore. It cause a waste a lot of time for customers and also create a lot of unnecessary work for the customer service employees.

I urge Singapore businesses to get rid of the unproductive practices and to focus on the essentials of their business.

Tan Kin Lian

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