Saturday, June 16, 2007

Use the call center or e-mail

Dear Mr Tan,

I have an agent. However, can I choose to buy direct from NTUC call centre for travel insurance? Can I get a direct discount without going through her?

I am not happy with the agent (million dollar roundtable member) as she is away often on seminars. I can't contact her sometimes.

But unfortunately, this is the experience I have with previous NTUC agent, so I live with it.



For simple matters, such as travel insurance, it is more convenient for you to go through the call center or handle it directly through the internet. NTUC Income offers a very low premium for travel insurance. Most people arrange it directly.

It is best to use the agent for the more complicated product, where you need advice. If the agent is travelling, you can send an e-mail to the agent.

If the agent does not respond to you, you can find another agent who is able to spend more time to take care of your needs.

Buy a Dell PC through the Dell shop

I bought a Dell Dimension PC through the Dell shop. It got an attractive price (same as buying direct through the internet) and the service of a Dell representative from the shop in Funan Center.

As the Dell representative is familiar with the product and options, it was a great help to me.

The Dell representative uses the information from the Dell website (which is available to customers). As he handles many orders a day, he knows where to go on the site, and what to do.

This is a great business model. It is good for customers. It is efficient and brings down the cost.

I am happy with the Dell PC and the service.

Financial planning tips

Dear Mr Tan,

I enjoy reading your blog. Do you have any advice for my father, who is reaching age 60. I am now 33 years old, with a child. How should I invest my savings?



You can click on the link "Financial Planning Tips" that appears on the right panel, below my photograph. It will bring you to my website, where there are tips for people at various ages.

You can also click here.

Learn about insurance

Dear Mr Tan

I like to learn about insurance. Can you advise me on a suitable website?



You can try the following:
know your insurance

Invest in Bonds

Hi Mr. Tan,

I'm interested in buying bond but have no knowledge of which bond to buy. Could you recommend same save and low risk bond.



I suggest that you consider the following:

* Global Bond or Singapore Bond fund from NTUC Income

* Singapore Government Securities (buy through a stockbroker or from Fundsupermarket or DollarDex.

Four Clever Financial Tools

Larry Haverkamp posted a article entitled "4 clever financial tools" in his blog. It is easy to understand and is useful for the lay investor.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Social and private Insurance

What is social insurance?

It is an compulsory insurance scheme provided by the state and covers a defined group of people (eg citizens or permanent residents). The cost of the scheme can be fully paid by compulsory contributions or partly funded by general taxation.

What are the risks that can be covered by social insurance?

Here are some examples:

* unemployment
* sickness
* health care
* injuries
* old age pension

In the past, the governments in many countries were active in providing fairly generous benefits under the umbrella of the welfare state. Due to abuse, the governments scaled back these welfare benefits. They prefered to let the citizens take care of these matters on their own, through private insurance.

The disadvantage of private insurance are:

* it is costly
* some groups of people cannot be covered (due to their existing condition)

We should strike a right balance. Some types of benefits should be covered by social insurance, eg catastropic payments for accidents and costly medical treatment, or for living too long. The other payments can be covered by private insurance.

Invest your CPF ordinary account in BIGe

Dear Mr Tan,

I read your blog everyday without fail. It is so informative and covered a large variety of topics which are very relevant to ordinary retirees like us.

I would like to seek your advice on a product being marketed by Aviva Pte Ltd.

3.5% pa guaranteed for 3 months on your CPF savings. The BIG e is a single endowment plan that offers :

(a) Interest that's always higher than CPF's existing rate of 2.5% pa.
(b) 100% capital sum guaranteed.
(c) No lock-in period.
(d) No sales charges and withdrawal fees.

I have some CPF left and would like to invest in this endowment plan. Would appreciate your advice and comments.



This is a good plan for a CPF member. If I have money in the CPF ordinary account earning 2.5%, I would probably have opted for the BIGe myself.

To my knowledge, there is nothing adverse about it.


Hi Mr Tan,

I've just placed $X of my CPF ordinary account into Aviva's BIGe single premium endowment. It gives a guaranteed interest rate of 3.5% p.a. for 3 months. In your view, how does Aviva's BIGe compares to Income's Flexi-Cash?



Aviva's Big-e gives a guaranteed return of 3.5%. This is higher than Flexi-Cash in NTUC Income, which earns between 3% and 3.5% (not guaranteed).

If Aviva keeps the interest at 3.5% beyond 3 months, it is attractive. If it drops below 2.5%, then it is not attractive. Between 2.5% and 3.5%, it is marginal.

Avoid betting on financial products

Many new financial products are advertised in the daily newspapers. Most of them involve an element of betting. Your return depends on the performance of various shares over the next few years.

You should avoid "investing" in these products. Often, the bet is to the consumer's disadvantage. The regulator does not vet that the risk and reward has been designed fairly for the consumer.

You can read my views of these structured products in my website.

If you wish to take a bet, it is better to go to the casino or to Singapore Pools. You will probably get better odds for the bet.

Lesson: To get a better return on your investments, you should choose an equity fund, bond fund or money market fund. You will get the actual returns from the fund, less the charges. You should find out what the charges are. Make sure that it is not more than 1.5% per annum. Better still, go for charges that are less than 1%.

Choice of Workshop

Dear Mr Tan,

NTUC Income advertises a motor insurance plan that gives the choice of workshop to repair the car. Is this a better plan?



You have to pay a higher premium when you select the plan that offers you a choice of workshop. The difference could be 10% to 20% higher.

Most customers prefer the normal plan that charges a lower premium. In most cases, they do not make any claim. If they have an accident, it is better to let NTUC Income handle the repair at their quality workshop. The customer feedback on service and quality of repair has been good.

My suggestion: Go for the normal plan. Enjoy a lower premium (10% to 20% lower). Let NTUC Income handle the repair for you. You can save the hassle.

Exception: If you own a new car (1 or 2 years old) and you are fussy about the repair, then pay 20% more and take the "choice of workshop" plan.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Business simulation game

Dear Mr Tan,

I read that you are involved in developing a business simulation game. What does it do? What can I learn from this game?



The simulation games teaches the participants on how to run a business. Each team (comprising of up to 4 members) will run a company and decide on the price of its products, its marketing expenditure and the production capacity for the following year.

The game comprises of 5 to 7 virtual years and can be completed within 2 hours. The game is more interesteding when there are several teams competing against each other in a market environment.

You can find out more from this game from this webpage.

The game can be organised for students in a class, or colleagues in a workplace. You can choose from a range of scenarios and business sectors, eg insurance, banking, hotel, airline and retail.

How to invest $40,000 now

Dear Mr Tan,

My wife and I have about $40K (in fixed deposit). We are less than 30 years old.

We are keen to put this money into good investment, as the payout from fixed deposit is really too low. We are not well versed with shares. We like to invest in the financial products from NTUC Income.

Can you advise how best we can invest this 40K?



I will ask an insurance adviser to give you some information on how you can invest in the combined fund (growth or balanced) of NTUC Income. I suggest that you invest the lump sum in installments over the next 5 months, to get the effect of averaging of the cost of your investment.

If you are investing for the next 10 to 20 years, it is all right to invest in the combined fund.

Flexi-cash from NTUC Income

Dear Mr Tan,

You have mentioned that you keep 50% of your investments in the money market. I would be grateful if you can tell me more about the money market. Is fixed deposit part of the money market? What else?



My investment is in the money market fund of NTUC Income. It is called Flexi Cash. You can read about it in

10 year bond yields

Here are the yields on 10 year government securities in various currencies:

Japan JYP 2%
Singapore SGD 3%
Germany DM 4.6%
Hong Kong HKD 5%
US USD 5.25
UK GBP 5.5%
Australia AUD 6.3%

Generally, we are in a low interest rate environment across the world (except for Australia and New Zealand).

For every 1% increase in the yield, the bond prices may fall about 8%.

As inflation is expected to increase in many cuntries, it is better to invest in the money market.

Investing in Foreign Currency Deposits

Dear Mr Tan,

What are your views about investing in foreign currency deposits, such as New Zealand dollar?



Earlier this year, I wanted to invest in New Zealand deposit, as it offered an attractive interest rate. I spoke to a banker from that part of the world. He told me to be careful, as the NZD had already appreciated a lot.

I decided not to make that investment. Since then, the NZD had appreciated by another 5%. I missed that boat!

Many of the currencies, such as AUD and NZD, are at a historical high level. I have decided to keep my savings in SGD to earn 2.5% to 3%.

Imbalance in Global Trade

I saw an interesting remark:

* China has a huge trade surplus
* They invest the surplus in US Government bonds
* If US forces China to revalue the yuan, China may sell the US Government bonds
* But, who will buy these bonds from China?

This remark reflect the state of the imbalance in global trade. It is not good for the global economy.

Subprime mortgages in America

Subprime mortgages are mortgages given to borrowers of lower credit standings during the boom days of the property market in America. Due to the downturn in property values, many of these borrowers have defaulted. They also have to suffer large financial losses.

There is a debate in America about the role of the regulator (ie the FED or Federal Reserve Board).

Some of the issues being debated are: should the FED have stepped in earlier to ban these mortgages as the borrowers were not aware about the implications of a rise in interest rate? Were there adequate consumer protection?

I find the debate to be important as it has to balance between:

* the need for free markets
* the need for consumer protection

I hope that these issues will lead to a proper balance between these two requirements. It will be relevant to Singapore.

American Presidential Election, 2008

I am watching the developments on the 2008 election with great interest. It shows the American system of democracy.

I am fascinated by their system of choosing the best candidates to represent the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

Many candidates come forward to participate in the "primaries" for their party. To win the primaries, the candidates have to give their views on many major issues over the media, especially television. There is great debate on these issues.

The voters express their choice in the primary elections, which are held at all the states.

This helps to pick the best candidate to represent their party in the national election. The final votes will be decided in November 2008.

Leadership - by Rudy Guiliani

Rudy Guiliana was the mayor of New York City for many years. He was credited for turning New York City into a safe and attractive city, by overcoming the crime situation in past years.

He is now a leading candidate for the American Presidential election.

I watched an interview with him on Bloomberg TV. He said (something along these lines), "Leadership is doing the right thing, and educating the public about what is right. Too many politicians (in America) are watching the public opinion polls, instead of providing the leadership".

I agree with his views.

Personal note: I like Rudy Guiliana because his family name is GuiLIANi. It includes my name! Ha Ha!

Asset allocation of Absolute Return Fund (Pimco)

I heard a news item on Bloomberg TV. It reported the asset allocation of an absolute return fund managed by Pimco, a well known fund manager. The cash component is about 50%.

Under an absolute return fund, the manager is free to move the investments among the various asset classes, ie equity, bond and cash, to achieve the optimum return, considering risk and reward.

This item caught my attention, because about 50% of my personal investments is in the money market fund (ie similar to cash).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What Chemistry Can Do For You

Dr. Lee Kum Tatt and his former Chemistry colleagues have organiserd the First National Chemistry Week from 16-24 June 2007.

For more information read the article in his blog.

Overcoming the Fear Factor

Everyone of us have some fears of our own. The fear can be traced to threats to our physical, financial or emotional wellbeing.

Dr. Lee Kum Tatt feels that this has something to do with our mind. If we can control our minds we can get rid of these fears.

Read his article on an experience he had on this subject.

Sufficient savings for retirement


I would also like your thoughts on the CPF Minimum Sum changes, as listed on the website:

This increase is in line with the announcements made in August 03 that the CPF MS will be raised gradually to reach $120,000 (in 2003 dollars) in 2013. The increase in MS, which includes an adjustment for inflation, is to ensure that Singaporeans set aside sufficient savings for their retirement.

Do you think that 120,000 would be sufficient for retirement in 2013? I assume this amount will increase after 2013 too.



The amount of $120,000 is intended to be the minimum sum that is applicable to every CPF member. It is calculated to be sufficient to meet the basic needs of the retiree.

The retiree can have additional savings to top up the minimum sum. You can read about my views in my FAQ on "financial planning for seniors" and "life annuity, which are posted in my website.

Risk of inflation

Global assets (ie stocks and properties) are now at historically high level. They are fueled by low interest rate. The global economies are booming.

I read a news report that the booming global economies will lead to higher wages. Wage increases of 5% to 10% are projected in several countries.

High wages will lead to inflation. This will be followed by higher interest rate. When this happen, global assets will fall in price quite quickly.

I now keep about 50% of my personal investments in the money market. It earns about 2.5% p.a now. I still have the remainder of my investments in stocks, funds and properties - but most were bought at low prices more than 5 or 10 years ago.

A new way to bet

When you invest in the stockmarket, you are taking a bet (unless you are willing to invest for the long term). You bet that you can sell the stock at a higher price and make a profit. If you are forced to sell out at a lower price, you make a loss.

Here is a new way to take a bet:

* you are given 4 stocks
* you are given 4 observation dates which are 3 months apart
* if, on the observation date, any of the stocks fall below 88% of the launch price,
you may suffer partial or total loss of your investment.
* if, all of the stocks are above 95% of the launch price, you are "knocked out" and you get back your investment with a return
* you have the potential to earn a return of 20%, if all of the stocks stay between 88% and 95% of the launch price for the year

To learn about how much you can earn or loss in this "investment", you have to apply and read the prospectus.

Why is similar to a bet? You are betting on the outcome of the prices of the 4 stocks. You have the chance of losing part or all of your investments, and the potential of earning a return of 20%.

What is the chance of each possible outcome? What is the risk and the reward? I do not know. But I suspect that the designer of this bet can fix the odds in the favour of the issuer. As the investor, you will probably lose out, and pay high charges as well (to cover the cost of marketing and other fees).

Lesson: Do not take this bet. It is better to invest directly in stocks, bonds or the money market.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why Study Science?

This was a common question that many asked Dr. Lee Kum Tatt when he was chairman of the Singapore Science Council and SISIR after Singapore’s independence. Today this same question is still being asked by many.

Read Dr. Lee’s article on this in his blog and the references he gives as to where to get the answers.

Capital protected products

Dear Mr Tan,

I like the financial products that guarantee no loss of capital and the chance to earn a good rate of return, better than deposit rate.

How do I calculate the chance of getting a better return, and the amount of that return?



If you wish to have a safe investment, you should buy government bonds and earn 3% per annum, or 15% in 5 years.

If you buy a specially structure product, you are taking a gamble. If the gamble is 5% up or down, you stand the chance of earning between 10% to 20% for 5 years - before deducting expenses.

The charges for designing and marketing this product can take away 10% for the 5 years. So you may get an average return of 5% for 5 years. The actual return could be between 0% to 10%.

To make it more attrative, the financial engineers, working for the issuer of the product, can give you a 75% chance of earning close to 0% and a 25% of earning a better return, that can go up to (say) 20% for 5 years (or just 4% per year). They advertise the potential return of 20%, but does no tell you that the chance of achieving it is quite small.

Many investors in these financial products have earned a poor return, close to 0% for the past years.

Lesson: If you want a safe return, buy government bonds and earn 15% for 5 years. Do not spend money to buy other product that eats into the return.

Changes to ST Index

Hi Mr Tan,

I enjoyed reading your blog and your advice, please continue! What is your opinion about the STI changes at the end of the year:

1) The number of constituent stocks will be reduced from 50 to 30. This will make the STI a blue chip index. The reduction in constituent stocks will not significantly alter the representativeness of the index, given that it is value-weighted. In fact, the smallest 20 stocks of the current STI represent only about 10 per cent of the index by market capitalisation.

(2) The STI will be calculated by FTSE according to its internationally recognised methodology for liquidity criteria and free-float adjustment. The index's constituents will also be reviewed by the three parties at regular intervals.

The FTSE ST Indices

The STI will be complemented by a new family of FTSE ST indices that will consist of 5 benchmark and 13 industry indices, including a new theme index to represent China stocks listed in Singapore.

I am looking forward to the new indices and subsequently the ETFs that may come out



Thank you for alerting me about the proposed changes. I find the changes to be more meaningful, especially as the STI will be weighted by market capitalisation. I got the impression that this was not the case in the past (but I was not sure if it had been changed already).

I am also looking forward to the change, which is to keep up to date with the latest methodology.

Design Blog by Laissezfaire

My daughter Su Ling created a blog to catalog interesting design ideas.

She finds the information by searching Google and her favourite design websites. She extracts interesting designs and posts them on her blog, with suitable acknowledgement and links to the source.

She hopes to share her passion for design with others through this blog and hopes that this will inspire others to appreciate the value of good design.

This is a new way to learn from what is best in the world. The internet is an interesting place, and a useful source of reference.

Design Blog

Find out about the new plan first

Dear Mr Tan,

I bought Hi-Saver Investment-link Product in 1999 with a maturity date of 2014. It's fully paid up.

It covers $10,000 for death and permanent disability with a top up on death of $55,000. The money are invested in two funds. The funds have shown a good gain.

Every year, some administration fee and charges are deducted. It looks like quite a lot when added together. I don't like them to deduct all those fees and charges.

I am thinking of terminating this plan, but the life insurance cover will also terminate. What do you think?



Before you terminate the current plan, you should see what is offered by another insurance company, e.g. NTUC Income. You should find out the following:

* premium payable under the level or decreasing term plan that gives similar coverage
* charges under the new investment fund

You should check if the new plan is better, before you decide to terminate the current plan.

Complaints about the Swing Fund

My friend told me that the Chinese newspaper publised complaints from several investors about the poor return from the Swing Fund. They earned a miserable return of about 2% after investing for 5 years, or 0.4% per year.

They were promised a product that guaranteed no loss of capital. They were told to expect a better return if the stockmarket did well. In fact, the formula is based on the return from 15 selected stocks.

During the past 5 years, the global stockmarket must have increased by at least 50%. The Singapore stockmarket increased by more than 100%.

In spite of this unusually favourable climate, the investors of the Swing Fund get a poor return of 2%. No wonder, they are very unhappy.

Lesson: Do not invest in complicated financial products that are based on a formula that gives you the worst of a number of selected stocks. One of them will perform badly, and the investor will lose out.

Lesson: Do not trust these products, even if they are marketing by respected banks.

Expensive to stay in Daydream Island

Dear Mr Tan

I checked the internet and found that it cost AUD 400 to book a hotel room at Daydream Island, Australia. You must be quite rich to be able to afford a holiday there.



You should be able to get a lower rate or good discount, if you book through a travel agent or go as part of a larger group. The conference organiser was able to get a special rate of AUD 220 per room.

In my case, the air fare and accommodation are paid by the organiser, who invited me to speak at the conference. Otherwise, it can be quite costly, even for me.

I normally prefer to have a holiday in the nearby countries, i.e. Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand or China. It is more affordable and the food is good. The weather is also warmer.

Taxi from Airport

I arrived at 6 am this morning and took a taxi to my home.

The taxi driver told me that he waited 1 1/2 hours at the airport before getting a passenger (me).

My wife remarked that the taxi queue at the airport could stretch for a long distance. If the taxi driver had to wait for more than 1 hour and get a passenger who travels a short distance, the taxi driver can be quite angry.

In my case, I had to travel quite far, so the taxi driver was happy.

It seems to be quite wasteful for a taxi driver to wait so long for a passenger at the airport. We need to make our taxi service more efficient and less wasteful.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Lower return from Money Market fund

Hi Mr Tan,

The price of the money market fund of NTUC Income has been stagnant at $1.065 for the past 13 days. It seems this is the longest period of being stagnant since the past few months. Will this be the start of trend for the future and hence reduced return?



The inter-bank interest rate has come down during the past week. The current rate is around 2.2% p.a.

The unit price of the money market fund has stayed at $1.065 price stayed for 13 days. It has since moved to $1.066 on 5 June 07.

Based on the price movement, the fund provides a reasonable good return without any locked-in period.



I am still keeping my personal savings in the money market fund. Although the return has fallen to about 2.2%, it is still better than fixed deposit rate (which has fallen as well).

Poor return on Whole Life policy

Dear Mr Tan,

I am currently 28yrs old. I have a wholelife policy which I believe give me a poor return.

Sum assured $40,000
Annual premium $694 /yr
Policy inception: Dec 1993, paid 13 yrs of premium already
Surrender value now: $7,500

Should I surrender the policy and invest in stocks, ETFs when the stock market corrects?



The cash value now is less than the total premiums paid for 13 years. The return has been unsatisfactory. Most policies should have provided a positive return after 10 years.

I suggest that you should ask the company to give you a projection of the cash value in 10 years time. This will help you to decide if you should keep the policy for the next 10 years, or to move to another investment.

Poor connection to Singapore

I flew by Jetstar from Hamilton Island to Brisbane, arriving at 2 pm. My connecting flight was by Singapore Airlines at midnight.

Originally, I wanted to check my bags through to Singapore, so that I could spend the afternoon visiting Brisbane downtown.

Jetstar was not able to check my bags through to Singapore. I had to retrieve by bags from the domestic airport and take a train to the international airport in Brisbane.

The check-in counter for Singapore Airlines opened at 9 pm. Brisbane Airport does not have any facility to store my two big bags. I had to bring them down to Brisbane downtown to store my bags.

It was a big hassle. I cancelled my trip to the Brisbane downtown.

If I had flown Virgin Blue, instead of Jetstar, I would have been able to check my bags through to Singapore. They have a connecting arrangement with Singapore Airlines.

Lesson: Buy your tickets from the airlines that have a connecting arrangement. Do not buy them independently.

Bringng up Vera

My daughter Su Ling shares her joy and experience in bringing up Vera in her blog. Her tips and insights are valuable to mothers and fathers of new born babies.

Vera has a happy and sweet smile. Everyone likes her.

Advice on compensation for injuries

I saw an advertisement in the Australian newspaper. It offers advice to people who are injured in a workplace or traffic accident, and helps them to make a claim.

In Singapore, the advice is usually given by the lawyer, but the claimant has to bear the legal fees.

It is useful for this advice to be offered through an independent source, to be used as a second opinion to the advice of the lawyer.

Dr Lee Kum Tatt

Dr Lee Kum Tatt is a creative person, full of energy and enthusiasm. He has many interesting stories to tell about research, innovation, creativity and his past experience.

I have known him for nearly twenty years. I continue to marvel at his experience and insights. If you have the time, do read the stories in his blog.

High interest rate in Australia Dollar

I saw many advertisements in the newspapers offering interest rate of more than 6% per annum for flexible savings accounts. This is quite attractive.

During the past two years, the Australia dollar has appreciated significantly. Apart from the high interest rate, an external investor also benefitted from the exchange rate.

However, an expert told me that the Australia dollar is now too high. I am undecided, if I should invest some of my short term funds in this currency.

Research and Continuous Education.

Continuous Education is necessary in building our knowledge based society. Our system must encourage people to do research to acquire more knowledge in building this society.

The genuine researchers encounter many obstacles in their work. Many have to go through a lot and have to make personal sacrifices to do what they like to do for the good of others.

How can we help to attract and create a bigger pool of researchers who can contribute to the good of our society? Dr. Lee Kum Tatt is sharing some of his experiences with us on this topic in his blog.

Financial products

Dear Mr Tan,

I find your analysis of the Pinnacle Notes to be quite useful. Do you have analysis of other financial products that are sold in the past?



I suggest that you read the following:

Structured Products
Dr Money's website
How they work

Designs by Laissezfaire

My daughter Su Ling likes design. She has stopped working temporary to take care of her daughter Vera. She has created a blog to show her passion for design. It is quite interesting.

Property in Hamilton Island

The property in Hamilton Island is expensive.

Several houses are being advertised for sale at more than AUD 3 million. They appear to be quite modest in size.

1 bedroom apartments are being sold at AUD 400,000. A 2 bedroom apartment will cost nearly AUD 700,000.

They are more expensive than in Singapore.

Swimming in the sea

I learned the following matters about swimming in the sea in Hamilton Island:

* if the water is cold, you have to wear a wet suit to keep warm
* you need to wear a sting suit to avoid being stung by the jellyfish.

Tavern in Hamilton Island

I visited a tavern last night for dinner. I wanted to see what a tavern in Australia is like.

It was full, with people drinking beer and having a dinner. It is like a pub in England. There were a few television screens with sports and racing.

I saw that the upper floor was the gaming room. I went up to see what it was like. It was like a casino. There were jackpot machines. There were several television screens showing a dog race, a motor cycle race and sports. People were betting on the races, like in a turf club.

It is a good place to bring friends and socialise.

Bad storm in Sydney

I read a news report that there was bad storm in Sydney during the last few days. I felt it in Hamilton Island as it was unusually cold.

I suspect that the bad weather is caused by global warming. However, someone said that you can expect bad weather in some parts of the world each year, so it cannot be blamed on global warming. It is just nature.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cruise to the Great Barrier Reef

I took the cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. It was a great experience, somewhat beyond my expectation.

The catamaran took two hours for the journey from Hamilton Island the the Reef. The oeprator had a floating platform, called ReefWorld, which is located next the Hardy Reef.

The activities on ReefWorld include the following:

* two trips on a submersible vessel to view the reef, through a viewing panel
* snorkelling
* viewing panel at the platform
* lunch and refreshments
* scuba diving (for the more adventurous)

I was given clear instructions on the use of the snorkelling equipment, including a wet suit to keep warm.

I was able to see the reef fishes through the submersible vessel (like a submarien) and the viewing panel. The fishes also came near the platform to be fed.

It was a whole day journey and most memorable.

Shuttle service in Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island Resort operate a free shuttle service. There are three routes which are coded Orange, Purple and Green. They operate through the Resort Center and Marina and travel to the north and south of the island. The route and schedule is printed clearly at each bus stop. It is convenient and easy for the visitors to travel around the island.

Suggestion: I hope that the bus service in Singapore can be organised in a similar way. Each town can have a few shuttle services to serve the different parts of the town and bring the commuters to the MRT station or bus terminus (for the long distrance or express buses). It will be easy for the residents and visitors to take the shuttle service (or feeder service).

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