Saturday, February 05, 2011

Apple iPhone and Android developers

I have several apps developed on the Windows Phone and have been tested and uploaded into the Marketplace.

I wish to look for developers to convert these apps to Apple iPhone and to Android. As the apps have been tested, it is quite easily to port over the use the code and convert them to the new platforms.

If you are interested to do the conversion, please send an e-mail to We can discuss the projects and the fee.

Family Life Game #184

In game #184, I competed with Jason. His avatar got a child at age 32 and shot ahead of me in the success score. My avatar is trying to get a child soon, to catch up. (Family Life)

Beauty of Lappland

Lappland is the northern part of Norway, Sweden, Finnland and Russia. It is the land of the midnight sun. Here are some beautiful scenaries, contributed by Mike Hansford.

The beauty of Egypt

Egypt is a beautiful country with a rich, ancient heritage. Watch this powerpoint contributed by Mike Hansford.

Balance rights of consumers and business

A view posted in my blog
Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia follow a similar legal system. Laws are passed to balance the rights of consumers and businesses. The aim is to provide an environment that businesses can innovate to improve their products and services and make a profit, and, at the same time, ensure that consumers are fairly treated. Thanks a lot! Keep it up!

Family Life # 182 - Avatar died

In game #182, my avatar died at the age of 27. It was unexpected. Quite sad, but it is life! (Family Life).

Behavior of a thief [3]

Two people were quite angry that I described the behavior of the banks as "like a thief". They probably work for the bank. Perhaps they are even involved in the practices that are described as being dishonest.

Some people find my words to be too strong. I agree. Normally, I do not wish to make judgment on other people. In this case, I avoid mentioning any specific person or bank. But I have to use strong words, so that people wake up from their slumber and do not think that the current behavior is acceptable, especially as the practice is quite common - in the pursuit of profit.

My aim is to make people realize that the behavior, which they think is quite common place, really amounts to dishonesty. If they shocked about the description, perhaps they should ponder about the truth of my words. (And accept my apology if they feel offended - as I do not wish to be personal).

Tan Kin Lian

Family Life Game # 179

I played Family Life game #179. I was able to achieve the top ranking (among 200 avatars) at the mid-point of the game (around age 40). However, due to the competitive nature of the game, my ranking dropped to the 4th position by mid 50s. It is quite fun, but not easy to stay at the top. There are other players out to beat you.
Try the game at (Family Life).

Read this book


Here’s a question that was posed to the Dalai Lama:
“What thing about humanity surprises you the most?”
His answer was as follows:“Man”
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money
Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health
And then he is so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present,
And as a result he doesn’t live in the present or the future
And he lives as if he’s never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.

I have updated this portal to show the projects that are under development and those that are ready for viewing by the public. Some of these applications are useful to the consumers. Try them.

SGEP and minimum wage

SGEP has a few articles about the minimum wage. So people say "it is not the best solution". Of course, it is true - that it is not perfect. But, it is the best of all available solutions - that is why so many countries have adopted it, including Australia (remember - they were able to achieve an increase in fertility rate, compared to the decline in Singapore's fertility rate).

Read the continuing discussion in SGEP:

Increasing the fertility rate - Australian experience

SGEP has an interesting article (from Today paper) on how Australia was able to increase its fertility rate to 1.0 (from 1.7) while Singapore continued to suffer a decline in the fertility rate. It analyses the difference in approach of Australia and Singapore.

We have often been quite proud (some people say that we are arrogant) about the Singapore approach - so here is an example of one approach that has failed quite badly. We need to be able to respond more positively to the facts (i.e. be pragmatic) and not dogmatic about our approach.

One important quality of Singapore is pragmatism. It seemed to have been abandoned when it come to "baby bonus" and fertility rate.

Tan Kin Lian,-but-was-it-the-bonus?

Family Life 1.1 is now launched

Family Life 1.1. is now ready to be played. The link can be found at

You can login and click on "Guide" to learn:
  • How to register, login and play a game. 
  • Strategy to win in Family Life
  • Compete with your friends.
Try it. It is fun. A new version 1.2 will be introduced by 1 March 2011. It will have a significant improvement.
Tan Kin Lian

Video on Family Life

Friday, February 04, 2011


Many people have lost a lot of money on structured products. New structured products are being introduced and more people will be snared in the future. To understand what are good and bad products, you should attend the talk by a risk management expert, Paula Tan. The talk is on 19 February. Details are available in

I am giving a talk on financial planning on 26 February. This is specially suited for young people, to avoid being conned into buying a poor life insurance policy. Register at

My new book, "Get Value on your life insurance" will be available on sale to participants at $8 (usual price $12). You can buy several copies to give to your friends. I will sign a copy.

Consumer Protection & Fair Trading Act (CPFTA)

The CPFTA now applies to financial services. Many financial advisers may be guilty of infringing on the provisions of CPFTA and may be providing misleading information to the consumers, especially in the form of verbal representations. If the consumer is able to provide evidence of the representations, they will be able to get the financial adviser to be charged for infringement of the CPFTA.

Read the article shown above. You can share your personal experiences on how you were misled by the fianncial adviser and get a lawyer to see if you can have a case to bring the financial adviser to court for infringing the CPFTA.

Behavior like a thief [2]

I wish to share this personal experience. I was given an infinite credit card as a special privilege with fee waived for 5 years. I was not told about the annual fee and I did not keep track of the expiry of this waiver period. I authorized the amount due to be deducted from my bank account by GIRO (as I wish to avoid the exorbitant late payment charge).

As I received "tons" of letters in my mailbox, it was difficult for me to keep track of all the statements and letters. One day, I checked my past statements and found, to my shock, that an annual fee of $1,500 for the renewal of the annual fee. The bank did not call me to check if I wish to renew the card and pay this exorbitant fee.

I called their call center. Before I could tell them my issue, the call center staff offered to refund my annual fee, as he noticed that I have a lot of spending on the card. Is this the behavior of a thief - to levy a large annual fee and hope that the customer does not notice it? If they knew that I had sufficient spending for the waiver of the fee, why charged the fee in the first place?

I just went to the website of the bank to see if the annual fee for this card is stated. I was NOT able to find the annual fee, after searching through a few webpages. I got a lot of other information about the benefits offers, but NO INFORMATION about the annual fee. I had to get to the call center to get this information from the staff. I deplore this type of behavior - make it difficult for the customer to know the fee and levy it on the customer when he is not aware about it.

I have just written to the bank to give specific instructions that they are NOT to renew my credit card without my specific approval of the annual fee. We are dealing with people who behaves like thieves!.

Tan Kin Lian

Tangram and Shape Quiz puzzles

I am giving a talk on tangram and shape puzzles at Tampines Library on 19 March 3 pm to 4.30 pm. Keep the date free. Details can be found at NLB website soon. Attendance is free.

Behavior of a thief

It is quite common for a bank to impose dubious charges and fees on unsuspecting customers, such as a hefty fee for renewal of a credit card, or a fee for late payment. When the customer finds out about the charge and protests, the bank waives these charges.

The bank hopes to earn the hefty fees from customers who did not notice the charges and did not protest. This is a behavior similar to a thief. It is now quite common for respectable institutions to engage in this type of dubious behavior in the pursuit of greed and profit. Integrity, honesty and ethics have gone through the door!

I wish to send this message to our business corporations to be true to their statement on corporate social responsibility and to act honorably and make an honest profit, not by adopting behavior that is similar to theft.

I also ask our regulators and legislators to step forward and do their duty in upholding integrity and honest behavior in our society. Do not pretend that these bad behaviors can be left to be sorted out by the market. Even the USA, that has promoted the concept of the free market, has now decided that legislation is necessary to control the bad behavior.

Tan Kin Lian

Best wishes for the Year of the Rabbit

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Inequalities in Singapore

Hi Mr. Tan
I am becoming concerned about the issues of inequality in Singapore (e.g. widening income gap, bad vs good parenting, greater sense of selfishness amongst Singaporeans, etc.).

The many issues of inequality are due to our pursuit of economic growth and treading the lines of political correctness. In this respect, we are acting with an Asian value of 'we' as opposed to a sense of 'I' like in the West. But with each person so caught up with the overwhelming concern of survival, there is a sub-culture of individualism.

How can we possibly achieve a sense of belonging and maintain our nationhood when the working class man feels under siege by society and government? Are we wasting our money on National Education in schools when the roots of our nationhood are rotting away as we pursue political correctness and try to get into the upper strata of society, always overworking, always stressed.

I hope you and your readers can comment on this.
Spa Victim

I share you concern and has expressed it in my blog on many occasions. I will post your views in my blog for other readers to comment.

Jason and Janice Plays Family Life App

Video on Family Life.

Janice said "This is like Sim City but is more relevant and realistic:.
Jason said "It allows a young person to experience life in a short time and learn how to make the key decisions in life".

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Malay song win singing contest in Taiwan

Dear All,
The following is a link to a singing contest in Taiwan where a Malaysian Chinese won by singing this superb Malay song. Our great vision extraordinaire, MM Lee would never believe a Malay song could win any contest.

Wing Lee

Translate: The song title is Gemilang - translate to "Brilliant".

Poor customer service from Singtel

I sent this e-mail to Singtel 8 days ago. I did not receive any reply or acknowledgement or even a telephone call. This is  a deplorable standard of customer service that is typical of most big organizations in Singapore. These are organisations that pride themselves on excellence. What excellence, when they refused to give a reply to a customer?

According to CNA, Singtel wants to build a cloud computing business. Perhaps they should start by replying to e-mails promptly.

SGEP and events in Egypt

Read SGEP for a good coverage of the events in Egypt and other relevant issues in Singapore and around the world. It summarizes the top news in the international and local media and in the new media (i.e. blogs) on the social issues that are relevant to Singapore.

Personal accident insurance

A policyholder is unhappy with the change of practice by an insurance company which decided to stop giving 15% discount for a 3 year insurance. He asked for my views on how to convince the company to continue the past practice.

The insurance company has already decided on the new practice and will not accommodate his views. I advised him to check the personal accident rates and cover quoted by other insurance companies and consider moving to a new insurer. As personal accident is offered by many insurance companies, it is easy to find a competitive quote.

Here are two websites that offer personal accident insurnce:

Tan Kin Lian

Legislation to protect consumers

Update: I need to know the provisions of the specific legislations mentioned below. Please help me to do some research.

I wish to research the various legislations in Singapore that were aimed at protecting consumers. Some of them that I could remembers are:

  • Fair treatment of consumers by financial institutions
  • Unfair contract terms
  • Competition Act
  • Consumer Protection and Fair Trading Act
  • Public Transport Council
With these legislation, consumers are supposed to be well protected in Singapore. However, in reality, consumers are given a poor deal. Examples are:
  • Sold toxic products by financial institutions
  • Exorbitant charges by businesses for services charged under long term contracts by telephone companies and for late payment by banks and credit cards
  • Poor deal on long term life insurance policies
The problem is the lack of effective enforcements.

I like to get your help to identify the specific legislation, the agency that is responsible to enforce the legislation and, if possible, examples of their failure to act on infringement of the letter or spirit of the law. You can post your comments here or send them to

Tan Kin Lian

Cartoons on Political Life

See some cartoons on Singapore political life at:


You can use this tool to prepare your personal financial plan. You have to enter your past savings and your regular monthly savings from now. The tool will project your savings at your retirement age based on different yields. This is then converted into the monthly amount that you can draw down over 20 years of your retirement.

The figures are shown before and after adjusting for inflation. The adjusted figures show you what what your retirement income is really worth.

You will also see the impact caused by different investment yields. It is important for you to earn a yield that is 2% higher than inflation rate. Do not be trapped in a low yielding investment.

This financial plan is suitable for people of all ages. It is important for the young people to follow the right financial plan and make the right investment for their future. Those nearly retirement can also adopt the right approach for their past savings.

The tool is available here: Please introduce your friends and family members to
use this tool. It is critical for their financial future!

Tan Kin Lian
President, FISCA (

How to find a good lawyer

If you need to find a good lawyer who charges a reasonable fee, you can follow the guidance given in this FAQ:

Climate of Fear

Dear Mr. Tan
I wish to share the following:

1) " When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)- 3rd President of USA
and also 

2) " Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories."
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)- 3rd President of USA

Weak consumer protection in Singapore

The legal system in Singapore benefits the lawyers and business corporations that can afford lawyers. Consumers are badly treated in Singapore and they do not have redress. This leads to poor social justice in Singapore.

Here are the legal systems in other countries that have protection for consumers:

a) In USA, they allow lawyers to act on contingency fee. If the consumer has a strong case, the lawyers are willing to take up the case (and incur the risk of losing the case) to help the consumer to seek redress. They usually take 30% of the damages, but they will not act for a frivolous case as they waste their time. The court will not require the litigant (usually the consumer) who loses the case to bear the legal cost of the defendant (usually the business corporation).

b) In the UK, the Legal Aid Bureau will engage the lawyer to fight for the consumer (but perhaps only for cases with merit). The bureau pays the legal fees, and not the consumer.

Most countries have agencies that fight strongly to protect the consumer rights. In the USA, the attorney generals (employed by the government)  will take up cases on behalf of consumers, if they consider that consumers have been cheated. Their legislature (or Parliament) has law makers who spend time to look into these matters. The attorney general and legislators know that they are accountable to the people.

The situation in Singapore is bad for consumers. Even if consumers have a strong case, they are afraid to take it up as the legal fees are exorbitant. They are also worried that, if they lose the case, they will have to pay the legal fees of the big corporations (and these are even more exorbitant). Consequently, when consumers are badly treated and are ripped off, they can only suffer in silence. Such is the state of social justice in Singapore.

Business corporations are imposing excessive charges and selling bad products to consumers - with impunity. They know that consumers (except the multi-millionaires) cannot afford to take them to court. Our MPs are too busy to take up these matters in Parliament.

I hope that the next general election will produce a different kind of political system in Singapore and that the weakness in the legal system can be addressed.

Tan Kin Lian

Citibank survey - Singaporeans like whole life policies

Hi Mr Tan,  looking at the responses to the survey, many still depend on whole life plans for retirement funds. More Singaporeans should read your blog!

It is true that many people are still buying whole life policies. I need my blog readers to help spread the message through facebook, twitter, etc. Are you able to spend time to help me in this task? 

You can tell your friends through Facebook to get them to read specific articles in my blog. And ask them to spread the message to other people through their Facebook contacts. All you need to do is to read my blog daily  and identify the articles that you can spread around through your channels. We need more people to work together to spread the message.

The Quest for Dignity

Read this article

It seems that there are some similarities between Singapore and the governments that have fallen, i.e. governments that stay too long in power, ignore the opinion of their citizens and do not practice democracy and openness. But there are also differences, so will the Singapore system continue to survive?

Also, read SGEP

Income inequality - a lesson for Singapore

14:54 01Feb11 RTRS-UPDATE 1-Global imbalances returning, could fuel unrest: IMF chief
By Kevin Lim 
   SINGAPORE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The world economy has begun improving but is beset by problems such as high unemployment and rising prices which could fuel crippling trade protectionism or even lead to war within nations, the head of the International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday. 
   Rising food and fuel prices in recent months have already hit poorer countries and are one of the factors behind massive anti-government protests in Egypt and in Tunisia, whose president was ousted last month. [ID:nLDE71000N] 
Read the article in:

UPDATE 2-Joblessness, rising prices could spark war within nations: IMF chief

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Climate of Fear

"First They Came for the Jews"
By Pastor Niemoller

 "The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." - Ayn Rand
First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Family Life 1.1

Learn the skill of making the right decisions to lead a successful life.

Bad experience with M V Land

I sent this letter by fax to the directors of M V Land on 26 January. They did not acknowledge or reply to my letter after 5 days. They have been imposing a lot of troublesome requirements to other people, but when it comes to giving a reply, they are not able to cope. This is typical of many organisations in Singapore, and  reflects a culture of high handedness and arrogance.

I had another bad experience today. They told my staff that I had to submit a copy of my log card to apply for a season pass. Many places do not need the log card, but they insisted "as it is their policy". I do not know where I kept my log card, so I visited their office to offer my certificate of insurance.

I had to wait for half an hour as their staff was busy attending to another owner. When I was attended, the staff did not bother with the log card or the insurance certificate, If this was not necessary, I could have sent my application by mail. I protested about this waste of my time. The staff was apologetic, but nothing will be done to change this bad practice.

This is typical of Singapore - troublesome requirements, unnecessary work, blind adherence by the staff who follow instructions set in the ivory tower. This used to be the purview of the government agencies, but commercial organisations have now caught this disease!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Climate of Fear

Is there a climate of fear in Singapore? Read the editorial analysis in SGEP.

FISCA Talk on Structured Products

Paula Tan, an expert on structured products, is giving a talk on 19 February 2011. You can read an outline of the talk and register for the talk at

Avoid financial advisers

A foreigner, working in Singapore, approached me for advice. He bought a Vista plan from a financial planner two years ago, and was shocked to learn now about the high monthly charge of 5% of the premium that is deducted from the account. He never knew that he was buying a life insurance policy with a high upfront charge, which came into effect after 18 months. He was told that it is a regular saving investment product.

The financial adviser had assured him, a few times, that the charge was only 0.7% after 18 months. The adviser had told a deliberate lie to him, to get him to put in a large sum of savings, more than $3,000 a month. I asked him to check about the surrender charge, which I suspect will take away most of the accumulated premiums - if the policy is terminated now.

It is bad for an insurance company to design such a policy that is confusing to the consumer, and for the financial adviser to tell a deliberate lie to get the consumer to put in a large part of his savings. This amounts to cheating,  but how can the consumer prove it? He must have signed the forms without proper understanding.

I advised him to write to the newspaper but he is worried that his colleagues and employer will get to know of his predicament.

My advice to consumers - avoid all financial advisers and insurance agents. Do not buy any investment or life insurance product from a person who approaches you. You will never know if you can become the next victim of this type of financial product.

My message to MAS - is this the kind of financial hub that you wish to build for Singapore? Do you wish to sit back and allow these types of practices to continue?

Tan Kin Lian

Big loss on ILP

Dear Mr Tan,
Here is my two cents worth for investment linked products. My wife, being a naive person, bought an insurance/investment plan from a bank after she asked about how to earn a decent return on her hard earned money but was sweet-talked by a financial planner to sign up for the plan. Once the plan was signed, the financial planner did not call her for the next five years and she faithfully contributed $500 a month. 

After investing over $38,000 over 6 years, she was told that the current value was only $26,000, giving a loss of 31% (no counting inflation). 
After selling the policy, agents have a hands off approach. 

I do believe that most people are better off investing in an STI ETF or some blue chip share which gets dividends. I do hope that other investors do learn from our mistakes and not be CONNED into buying investment linked products from agents who think of nothing but earning a quick buck from naive people like my wife. My pain is your gain!

*Kindly take note that most insurance agents do not have a basic salary or a very low basic salary thus they would sell products which would give them the most commission as just to meet the client, they would have to pay for dinner, transport, parking etc thus selling low commission products such as term insurance would not make sense to them. PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES, WOULD YOU BE SELLING TERM INSURANCE TO EARN A MEASLY COMMISSION? (Food for thought)

My comment
It is best for consumers to avoid all financial advisers and insurance agents. They have to earn commission by selling this type of bad product to you.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

North South Expressway

I wrote this letter to the Straits Times to suggest how the $7-8 billion for the North South Expressway could be better spent. The ST did not publish my letter.

Logic Challenge (2)

Here is a more challenging (complex) level of puzzles:

Give them to your visitors to try during the Lunar New Year. But make sure you try first!

Logic Challenge

Try this logic challenge during the lunar new year. Get your visitors to compete in the challenge - but make sure that you try it first!

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