Saturday, December 22, 2012

Find the Hidden Code

Be the first person to find the hidden code for any of the three sets of 6 puzzles (i.e. puzzles 1 to 6, puzzles 7 to 12 and puzzles 13-19) and win a prize - Intelligence Quiz book. Three prizes will be given. The answers have to be posted in

How to replace cheque payments

78 million cheques are cleared through the banking system in Singapore a year. This works out to an average of 18 cheques per person. This number must be higher than most other countries in the world.

With the availability of electronic payments, there is no need for so many cheques to be used. It is time consuming and costly, considering the time spent to write and mail the cheque, for the receiving party to receive and bank in the cheque, and for the bank to enter the transactions for clearing.

While there are several ways to make electronic payments, e.g. GIRO, internet banking, AXS and SAM, these channels are used mainly for regular payments to large organizations. They are not suitable for once-off payments to small businesses, which now use cheques to make and receive most of their payments.

I suggest that our banks in Singapore make the following changes to allow more people to make payments using their ATM or internet banking facilities:

a) allow the payer to make an electronic payment to a bank account number and view the name of the receiving party
b) allow the payer to enter a number, e.g. the invoice number or customer number,to identify the payment
c) allow the receiving party to download details of these payments, and view the name of the payer

These changes may require some of the existing regulations of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to be changed, e.g. to disclose the name of the other party in the transaction. 

Most banks should be able to implement these changes  to their existing systems quite easily and at a low cost. If the changes are made, most people would prefer to use the electronic payments, instead of cheques. This change can be accelerated if banks are allowed to levy a fee for the use of cheques, which is more costly for them to process.

The United Kingdom have set a target to eliminate the use of cheques by 2018. I urge our MAS to take the lead, so that Singapore can largely, if not entirely dispense with the use of cheques at an earlier date.

Potential investment scam

A Poly student consulted me about this investment. He was introduced by his friend to two companies which made  vague presentations promising high return through landing bank, convertible bonds and pre-IPO shares allotted through private placement.  

He carried out his research on these two companies and their management from their websites and had a hunch that this could be another Ponzi scheme. Several of his friends and other teenagers that had invested tens of thousand of dollars into these companies. If this is a scam, he wanted them to be stopped before more people are caught in it.

I told him to collect evidence of the investments made by his friend. There is a law that issue of shares to the public require approval to be obtained from the Monetary Authority of Singapore These two companies could be breaking the law.

Be more gracious

Alex Au has written this excellent article about what is needed to make Singaporeans more gracious and generous.

Yield on a life annuity

Here is a simple way to calculate the yield on a life annuity.

US fiscal cliff and the relevance to Singapore

This is an excellent article explaining the need for change, and for political leaders to exercise leadership to change and compromise.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Damage caused to former employee

 The chief executive director of the Peoples’ Association (PA) has asked the public 
to give space to the former staff of the PA who was involved in “an intimate relationship” with 
a former Member of Parliament and had since resigned. The chief asked that she be allowed 
to continue with her life. (Today paper, 17 December)

It was not necessary for the PA to disclose her name in the first place. The reason given for 
the decision to disclose her name was not acceptable, in my view. Her relationship with the 
former MP was a private and personal matter, and (to my knowledge) did not affect her 
work performance or caused any conflict of interest.

By disclosing her name, the PA had caused distress to the former staff and made her 
a subject of ridicule and shame. I believe that the PA owed an apology to her and possibly, 
some compensation for her distress and financial loss.

I have deliberated omitted to mention her name in this letter, and I ask other people in 
Singapore to respect her privacy. If there are any blogs that were put up with her photos, can 
the creator remove them?

Tan Kin Lian

Restructure public transport operations

To achieve better economy of scale, efficiency and competition, all train services should come under SMRT and all bus services should come under SBS. 
The competition should be between travelling by train and by bus. I now opt to travel by bus, rather than train, where possible.
The current system, where SMRT and Delgro operate both trains and buses does not enhance competition, and lead to inefficiency. 
What are your views?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Governance of town councils

What are your views on the issues covered in this report?

I do not like the current system of tying up the management of town councils to the MPs who have been elected for the town. I prefer that they should be kept as separate issues. The residents deserve continuity and should not be disrupted with a change of their representatives in Parliament.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Issue of shares without a prospectus

Dear Mr Tan
I attended a presentation at Orchard Road.  It was an impressive presentation. It showed the company directors receiving awards for their individual achievements from government ministers and picture taken with a former President.

This company dealt with oil palm, fisheries and property development in Malaysia and Indonesia. The company is offering convertible preference shares. The minimum subscription is for 3,000 shares at $10 per share. The investor needs to deposit 10% and pay $499 for admin fees. 

The investment guarantees a return of 7% annually for 3 years. If the investor signs up on another day, the price  will be $12 per share and the return is reduced to 4% annually. They claimed to have approval from MAS, but did not give me any prospectus.

Is this a scam?


Under the securities law in Singapore, any offer of shares require the issue of a prospectus that has been registered and approved by the MAS. You should file a police report.

Disgraceful activity

I suspect that a few members of the internet brigade of a certain political party are active in my Facebook.

Their mode of operation is as follows:
a) They do not provide a photo or a fake photo. There are no personal details.
b) If they find any view that suggest that things are not doing well, they will give a counter attack by being defensive of the status quo.
c) They will make a personal attack or criticize my view, and even interpret my view in their way and then attack it.

When I make observations of developments in other countries that Singapore can emulate, they attack my suggestion.

I find it a disgraceful for a respected political party to have its brigade to conduct this type of negative activity. It is better for people to have an open discussion, rather than to blindly express views to support a political dogma. Their behavior remind me of the "dogs" that were raised by the dictator Napolean in the novel, "Animal Farm".

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Time to do away with checks

Many consumers can pay regular bills to a few large companies, such as utility companies, using GIRO, AXS, SAM or similar channels.

However, they are not able to use these channels to make once-off payments to small companies. These payments have to be made by check. Small business also use checks for their payments.

I suggest the following changes be made to allow more payments to be made using electronic means to replace the use of checks:

a) allow payments to be made by quoting the bank account number and for the name of the receiving party to be displayed for confirmation
b) allow the payer to enter a number, e.g. the invoice number or customer number, to identify the payment, and for the identity of the payer to be shown to the receiving party
c) allow the receiving party to download details of these payments easily and on demand.

These changes may require some of the existing regulations of the Monetary Authority of Singapore to be changed, e.g. to disclose the name of the other party in the transaction. 

Most banks should be able to implement these changes to their existing systems quite easily and at a low cost. It will encourage more consumers and small business to use use electronic payments, instead of checks.

Do you agree?

Discover: Find the Hidden Code

The title of the book has now been changed to "Discover: Find the Hidden Code". A free sample book is available for download. The puzzles in the book are now checked to have unique answers. You can place an order for the book now.

The benefit from the book - develop your skill in logic and problem solving. This is a skill that Singaporeans are weak at, especially the young ones, and should be strengthened.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Logic puzzles

Learn how to solve the Rubik cube and impress your friends.

Pay bills through ATM

In Indonesia, many people pay their bills and insurance premiums through the ATM or bank transfer, instead of sending a cheque. I am quite impressed with their payment system. Many companies ask their customers to pay directly to their bank account using the ATM. There is a network connecting the ATM of most of the banks, so payment can be made from one bank to another.

This system seems to be quite advanced. In Singapore, our payment system is quite fragmented. Even eNETS is hardly used, and is quite complicated. We are still using archaic methods to make payments, i.e. cheques.

Singapore is using too many cheques

According  to this report, (, the United Kingdom processed 350 million cheques for a population of 60 million, or an average of 6 cheques per person. The number of cheques used in the UK declined by more than 50% over the past 10 years.

Singapore processes 78 million cheques a year, or an average of 16 cheques per person based on a population of 5 million. The usage of cheques in Singapore is 2 1/2 times of the UK. This shows the level of inefficiency that is found in Singapore.

I do not not if the usage of cheques in Singapore has declined during the past ten years. I suspect thta it has not.

There is a plan in the UK to phase out the use of cheques entirely by 2018, recognising that this form of payment is the most expensive to handle. It is time for Singapore to set a similar goal.

Comparing Yaw and Palmer

In an article in The Online Citizen, Joseph Chiang said that Yaw Sin Leong did not respond to the rumors because he wanted to protect the identity of the women. I agree with this view.

In Michael Palmer's case, he said that the girl was named and shamed. This was unfair to he
r. I also agree.

It should be noted that Palmer did not name the girl. Her name was released by her employer, and as a result infringed her privacy.

Blog Archive