Saturday, July 22, 2006

A few months to clear our backlog. Sorry.


Dear Mr Tan,

I am a big fan of NTUC income. In fact, most of my insurance policies and those of my family are from Income. However, I really have to feedback to you that Income’s back room operation is one of the slowest I have ever seen.

Previously, I waited for 6 months to receive my policy document for SAFRA living care. And that is after 3 calls and 1 email to chase after the document. The reasons given by your staff was that the computer system went through some migration.

Currently, I am waiting for the Incomeshield rider confirmation for my children, which I had made payment 2 months ago. I cannot help but wonder, what is going on inside Income?

All the best to Income.



I must admit that my group and health dept, which handles SAFRA and Incomeshield, is in a mess right now.

We received 60,000 requests for upgrading into Enhanced Incomeshield. My staff absolutely could not cope with the work volume. Guess what, one third resigned.

Give us a few months to sort out the backlog. In the meantime, I am sorry that there is nothing that we can do about the delay. Just be patient.


Dear Mr Tan,

Thanks for the prompt reply. Really appreciate it. I hope you can find more capable men to assist you.

One suggestion is to find part-time housewives or students during school holidays to help with all the paper work.

Another way is to outsource some jobs to other companies. Try out 1/3 and 2/3 rule. 2/3 inhouse and 1/3 outsource.

I hope I am not too nosey.


Thank you. We actually have help from the other depts. Some of the work needs some technical knowledge, so part time workers does not really help. But, I appreciate your concern.

Best Deal for your cash

The Sunday Times on 16 July has an article comparing fixed deposits. Here's what it said about our Flexi-Cash.


MOST, if not all banks, offer 3 per cent or more in interest for fixed deposits using fresh money only. There are varying lock-in periods and minimum sums to consider.

Insurance cooperative NTUC Income recently launched a scheme called Flexi-Cash. The minimum deposit is only $5,000, and you can withdraw your deposit at any time with no penalty.

The interest rate currently is 3 per cent a year, but it is not fixed. It will move ever so slightly, depending on the yield from short-term bonds that Income invests your money in and on interest rates in the Singapore money market that Income can lend at.

Among the banks and Income, interest rates differ by a fraction of a percentage point, which is insignificant unless you have at least six-digit sums to deposit.

Be careful of complex product

A life insurer has introduced a single premium investment linked product with these features:

- 7 year lock in period
- 4.9% annual payout
- return of 100% principal at maturity
- additional insurance cover of 110% of invested amount
- initial fee of 5% to 6%, annual fee 1 to 1.2% pa

This looks attractive. Our expert analysed the product, and found the following features:

* The product feeds into a specialty fund managed by an investment bank through a special purpose vehicle.

* It targets high yearly return and full return of principal at maturity

* The annual payout and maturity value are not guaranteed - they depend on low default rate of "reference entities".

This appears to be a complex product, with risks that are quite difficult to understand (even to my expert).

Existing motor polichholder wants to enjoy installment payment


Dear Mr Tan,

Am I allowed to renew my road tax and motor insurance with instalment payment?
I am a current policy holder. I was told it is only extended to newly joined members and why is this so? What are loyal members not taken care of?

Please reply urgently. How can I pay by installment, because S$1,000 upfront is a lot of money.


Yes, you will enjoy the privilege of installment payment. My colleague will contact you to handle your request. If you had called the telephone number that is shown in our advertisement, you would have got the correct information.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Annuitant Club

Dear Mr Tan

I am an active member of the Annuitant Club.

I would like to thank you for all the facilities afforded to annuitants. I would like to compliment especially the services and commitment of Mary Lim, the coordinator of all the activities, events and functions.

Our group truly enjoyed all the activities organised. Mary always make sure that everything is near perfect. Her services and commitment is exemplary.

We trust you will continue to support us in every possible way to enjoy our retirement years.

Logic9 (Sudoka) keeps a friend actively engaged

My friend in America is taking treatment for cancer. I sent a set of Logic9 (Sudoku) books to him. Here is an e-mail from his wife:

Dear friend,

You have a new Sudoku player here in America! D.... learned how to go about it from a friend and he has been doing it ever since!

We came out to our home in the West for a week in between treatments (he goes back in the hospital the morning after we arrive home). He bought a book with beginner, intermediate and difficult challenges. He loves numbers so this is a good brain teaser and will help him when he is in the hospital also.

Thank you once again for introducing the game to him. You are the best! As an aside, our friend who taught him, just tore all four ligaments in her knee waterskiing on the second day of their vacation. She had her knee operated on and has to stay still for six weeks. She said she would go crazy if she wasn't able
to keep her mind occupied.

A touching show of trust


Dear Mr Tan,

I came across your blog with great interest, and admire your candidness and most of all your willingness to face queries straight on, with undeviating statements and replies.

I had been wondering from whom I should get my insurance and now I am fully confident I would like to take it up with you/NTUC.

Could you possibly revert, or kindly provide your best personal referral and/or contact person, as to how should I go about signing up insurance with you/NTUC? I have every trust and faith in your recommendation, as I would look forward to becoming a NTUC Insurance Policy Holder with you as its leading Officer always.



I am very touched by your show of trust. I will ask my specialist in the business center to contact you.

My fond memory of Lim Kim San

I am sad to learn about the demise of Mr Lim Kim San, a pioneer of modern Singapore, at a ripe old age of 90 years.

I have not met Mr Lim personally, but I have a wonderful memory of a message given by him 30 years ago.

I was involved in Marine Parade constituency. We wanted to produce a monthly newsletter for the constituency. It was the first of its kind at that time. We wrote to Mr Lim for a message. He was the Minister for National for National Development. Marine Parade was a HDB estate, created out the sea, ie on reclaimed land.

In his message, Mr Lim said, "Marine Parade has no past. It only has a future". I remember these wonderful words over the years.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Views on the Singapore Economy


1) Over the past few years, the Singapore Government has restructured the economy and sought to remake Singapore. Some of these initiatives (such as CPF cut, shift towards a monthly variable component pay system, emphasis on education & retraining) were not exactly welcomed by the ordinary men-in-the-street. How successful do you think these measures have been?

Reply: Generally, these measures have been quite successful. They have contributed to the robust economic growth that was experienced over the past two years. The ordinary people may look at the immediate impact on their wages, and feel pessimistic about some of these measures. The real test is the ability to grow the economy and create more jobs. The recent increase in employment has led to a tight labour market, which is reflected in higher wages. The ordinary people will benefit from the higher wages soon.

2) Was there any specific measure which left a lasting impression on you?

Reply: I am impressed with the innovative measure to allow the refinancing of a property loan and allowing banks to have higher priority over CPF savings. This allows the banks to keep the property loan for a longer period, even though the property value may have dropped below the total charges (comprising of the loan and the CPF savings). It helps to stabilise the property market and gives it a longer time for the property values to be adjusted. There is no need for the banks to call back many of the property loans that have entered into negative equity. In so doing, we avoid a property crash.

3) Singapore economy is heavily dependent on external factors. With the uncertain global environment today (escalating oil prices, high US interest rates), do you think Singapore could achieve the projected GDP growth of between 5-7 per cent this year?

Reply: I think that it is still possible to achieve the projected growth rate. If the global economic environment continues to be difficult, we will probably be at the low end of the range. It will still be quite encouraging.

4) It has been reported that our employment outlook has improved. Is it likely for China or India to take away a significant portion of the existing jobs in Singapore due to their supposedly lower level of business costs? How successful has the Government's efforts to cut business costs (eg. reducing corporate taxes) been?

Reply: With the adjustment of business costs during the past few years, we are now quite competitive globally. The increase in employment is likely to be sustainable over a longer period. The lower manpower costs of people from India and China have already been factored in. We do not need to worry too much about this source of competition. The key is to upgrade our ecomony and find new ways to utilise our people and resources.

5) Under the Singapore Tourism Board 2015 Vision, the STB aims to triple Tourism Receipts to $30 billion; doubling visitor arrivals to 17 million; and creating an additional 100,000 jobs in the services sector by 2015. Are these initiatives (such as annual campaigns like the Great Singapore Sale, establishment of integrated resorts) sufficient to draw in the tourists, as our regional rivals are miles ahead of us?

Reply: We have to find ways to improve the attractiveness of Singapore to the international tourists. We may get a boost with the opening of the integrated resorts. We can also get some excitement from the development of the sports industry and the arts and culture industry. These activities may take a few years to develop. We have made a start. Let us learn how to make them more successful.

7) What else do you think the Government could do to further grow and sustain the economy?

Reply: We need to improve the efficiency of our financial services industry. At present, there are too many complicated products that are not well designed for the ordinary people. We have to streamline these products. We also have to improve the products to make them more easily understood by the general public, and give people an attractive return for their long-term savings.

How is interest calcuated on Flexi-Cash?

Question: I have invested in flexi-cash and wish to clarify on the followings. You said that the investor earn based on the bid price minus 0.1%. Looking at SIBOR, there are 5 different rates, namely 1mth (3.5%), 2mths (3.5625%), 3mths (3.625%), 6 to 12mths (3.6875%).

If investor conduct withdrawals and/or additional deposits from time to time, which of these rates would be applicable and do you provide statements to show the details of all these transactions?

Reply: The interest will be based on the average yield of the money market fund. As the fund is invested in a mix of instruments of different tenure, you will get an effective average of these instruments.

Question: Your example shows that the interest rate would be converted to unit price. What is the formula on the conversion?

Reply: We compute the bid price of the unit every day. This bid price is posted daily. It should move daily according to the average rate yield earned by the investments.

Question: If I send a cheque, when will my interest start accruing?

Reply: We will compute the unit price based on the date of transaction. This should be the date that your cheque is submitted for clearance, or it could be the date that the cheque is cleared.

Monday, July 17, 2006

NTUC Income assists owners of parellel-import Toyota cars

SINGAPORE, Tuesday, 18 July 2006 -- NTUC Income is offering assistance to owners of parallel-import Toyota cars recently recalled for their faulty steering. The affected models are Toyota Prius, Wish, Isis, Ractis and Corolla.

On 5 July, a Straits Times article reported a recall of about 5,000 cars to fix this faulty steering has run into problems because some of the importers have closed down.

"We understand that some of our policyholders who have bought their cars from parallel-importers are experiencing difficulties in replacing the faulty steering, as their parallel-importers have closed down or are unable to honour their warranties. Without the proper replacement of these faulty steerings, we are concerned about their safety on the road," said Mr Freddy Neo, General Manager of
NTUC Income.

Singapore's largest motor insurer, NTUC Income, has written to offer assistance to 2,759 of its affected policyholders.

NTUC Income is referring a professional workshop to carry out the replacement of their steering at a cost of S$250 plus GST. In addition, the insurer has given its policyholders an option to repay their replacement costs in five instalments.

While waiting for the parts to arrive in Singapore, a check-cum-tightening of the steering assembly can be arranged at the workshop at no additional charge.

Policyholders who require more information may contact NTUC Income's motor hotline at 98Income (98 462263).

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Insure against personal liability of directors and officers

Forum Page
Straits Times

I refer to the article entitled SATA acts to insure its board against lawsuits" (ST 14 July 2006)

NTUC Income offers a Directors and Officers Liability Insurance cover to the Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association.

The policy comes in two parts. The first part indemnifies the directors and officers for the defence costs if they are successful in defending an action brought against them in connection with the management of the company. The premium for this portion is quite inexpensive, and is the sum of $275 quoted in the article.

We also offer an additional cover, to reimburse the company for the defence costs in the event that the directors and officers are not successful in defending the charge for the wrongful act brought against them. The premium for this cover is higher.

The total premium for both covers works out to about $300 per director per year. The actual premium varies according to the type of business.

We wish to suggest that all organisations should a directors and officers liability insurance, regardless of their size or nature of business. Directors have personal liability in the discharge of their duty and should be protected. It has now been shown that charitable organizations are also exposed to this risk. Most businessses prefer to buy the full cover, comprising of the two parts. Even though the cost is higher, it is still quite modest.

Tan Kin Lian
Chief Executive Officer
NTUC Income

Difficult to access Blogspot in Kunming China

I had a lot of difficulty in accessing Blogspot in China. I could access other websites easily, including Blog. It happened for a few days.

When I returned to Singapore, I can access Blogspot immediately. I suspect that Blogspot is not welcomed in China.

Blog Archive