Saturday, October 01, 2011

Mobile apps to desktop

I am some apps developed on the mobile platform (iPhone and Windows Phone 7). I wish to develp the same apps to run on the laptop. Can it be done by adapting the mobile apps or does it have to be completely rewritten? Please send your answer to

A wonderful person

Here is a video of a wonderful person, Warren Buffet. He is a multi-billionaire but he thinks for the common people. And he continues to support Barack Obama, in spite of the difficulties that the US President had to overcome. And he is optimistic that the US economy is coming out of a recession. I hope that he is right!

Political cartoons

Casino and money laundering

I heard that casinos are used for money laundering. Here is my guess on how it works.

The customer brings "dirty" money, e.g. obtained through corrupt or illegal means, to the casino and converts them to non-negotiable chips. When the customer uses the chips to bet. When the customer wins a bet, the customer is paid with negotiable chips. The customer can convert the negotiable chips back to cash and is given a receipt by the casino. The customer can report that his wealth comes from winning at the casino. He does not have to report the money that is brought in for the gambling.

Is this how it works?

Read this article on money laundering. There is a mention about betting in a casino.

Occupy Wall Street

There is a protest in New York called the "Occupy Wall Street". 

It is targeted at "bankers and traders who run the financial markets and their enablers in Washington have hijacked the system from ordinary Americans who just want a decent job and a home of their own."

More details here.

High cost of living and low wages

In this article, Leong Sze Hian pointed out that Singapore ranked as the 10th most expensive city in the world and the wage level of the people ranked at 42nd. This is why many Singaporeans had to work hard and for long hours just to earn enough to pay for the cost of living.

Pursuit of justice

Lucky Tan wrote this article about the pursuit of justice in Singapore.

Challenges facing Singapore

Here is an excellent article by Lucky Tan who writes about the problems that will be faced by Singapore in the near future, as we have many of the characteristics of America that has caused huge challenges to their government. I agree with his views as stated in this article.

New rules on evidence

The Ministry of Law is seeking public views on several changes to update the rules on evidence to be submitted in court. I welcome this move to move with the times. It is an encouraging step.

There are many other areas on updating our laws and enforcing our laws. I hope that the Ministry will be more active in these areas, as the administration of justice in Singapore leaves much to be desired.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mobile website for FISCA

FISCA is now trying a new website that is suitable for access by mobile phones, and also through the browser. You can access it at Try it with your mobile phone.

New scam on motor insurance claim

A consumer approached me on this problem. He had a minor accident 8 months ago. He decided not to make any insurance claim and carried out his own repairs. He has now received a large claim from the other vehicle with a witness report that placed him in the wrong. The claim was inflated and the witness was probably ,making a false statement.

He submitted the third party claim to his insurance company - but the claim officer rejected the claim as he did not make a report at the time of the accident. He is now in a dilemma and does not know how to handle the third party claim.

His only recourse was to engage his own lawyer to fight the claim, but it would be costly. It was likely that the claim was fraudulent but it was quite sad that his insurance company was not assisting him on this matter.

New scam on time sharing

A consumer shared this story with me. He bought a time sharing unit several years ago. The marketing company disappeared after collecting $7,000 from him. He wrote off the loss.

Recently, he was contacted by a service company who claimed to act for the developer. The told him that he had outstanding service payments on his time sharing unit and that the unit had some residual value. He was convinced to pay the fee to this service company to terminate the contract and claim back what was due to him.

After paying the service fee, he did some research and found that the service company was not connected with the developer. He had been scammed again.

Consumers should be careful and not attend presentations or meet people that they do not know. There are too many scams happening around. Some Singaporeans are easy targets due to their naivety.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Labour churning has social and economic cost

Here is an excellent article in Yawning Bread.

Most Singaporeans will not have much idea of the economics of the foreign worker recruiting system, since our daily lives are far removed from this issue. What I can’t figure out is whether civil servants at the Ministry of Manpower know much about it. If they don’t, the question would be: But isn’t it part of your job to know? If they do, then: How have you managed to ignore the injustices, and social and economic consequences of such a dysfunctional system for so long?

Read more.

Fallacies about Singapore Welfare System

At risk of simplification, this static thinking about our social welfare can be roughly summed up in a few statements: Singapore is not a welfare state and should never be, because the Western welfare state is doomed to fail and social welfare is fundamentally un-Asian. As a small country with no natural resources, we have no choice but to define our own style of social welfare, which by and large has worked over the years. So why fix it if it ain’t broke?  
Underlying these statements are four powerful ideas about social welfare and Singapore society. In the spirit of critical reflection, let us now examine the truth in each of them. 
[Ng Kok Hoe].

Read his article here.

Financial system gets less stable

When you go out to buy your next television set, it is likely that you end up with something better than your existing TV sold for the same price. Like many things around us, man made systems tend to improve over time - if you take Boeing's newest aircraft, The Dreamliner, you will expect that to be build with more safety features than the old Boeing 747.

There is however one exception, our financial system - it seems to get less stable with each passing year and generates crisis, turmoil and recessions much more often that in the past yet we seem to accept this all encompassing system because most of us are born into or do not really understand what goes on in the banking system. Here is an interesting video that explains quite clear how money is created, how it drives the economy and why we are seeing so many crisis and so much in stability in the current system [Lucky Tan].

Read this article.

Look back at the Pinnacle Notes

Here is an interesting article written nearly two years ago, about the Pinnacle Notes Series 3. Here is another explanation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Retirees should keep the mortgage

In a low interest rate environment, it is better to keep the mortgage and cash in the bank, or keep invested.
See this article.

How to solve the messy CPF Life scheme

Many people find it difficult to choose among the four options given by CPF Life. Many of them do not like the CPF Life scheme for reasons that are peculiar to their personal situation. Here are my suggestions on how to get out of this messy situation.

Financially sound retirement

Read this article about how to prepare for a financially sound retirement. Several tips refer to the tax situation in America which does not apply to Singapore. Some of the other tips, e.g. do not have debts, how to spend within  your means - are relevant. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Class action on Pinnacle Notes

An important decision on the class action for the Pinnacle Notes in the USA will be decided soon - the hearing will start on 28 September.

By GRACE LEONG (Business Times)
A lawsuit involving allegations that Morgan Stanley & Co Inc sold rigged Pinnacle Notes as 'safe, conservative' products to a group of Singaporean investors including Singapore's oldest credit cooperative, costing them US$154.7 million in investment losses, is making its way through federal court in Manhattan.

A hearing is scheduled for Sept 28 in which the US District Court for the Southern District of New York will decide whether the case can proceed in the US or whether it should be dismissed and heard in Singapore, The Business Times has learned.

If approved, the Singapore investors will seek class-action status.

Under a class action (in the USA), any compensation received will be shared by all investors in the class, including the investors who were not involved in lodging the original complaint. There is no provision for a class action suit in Singapore.

Volatile gold and silver prices

Gold an silver prices can be quite volatile. Gold dropped 8% in 3 days and is expected to rally. However, there is the risk that it may drop much further. The drop in silver is more severe. This is an example of a speculative and volatile market. Be careful.

Here is a bearish view:

How to use private bankers

In some countries, financial advisers or private bankers can advise their wealthy clients on tax and estate planning, so that they can minimize the tax payable on their income or on the estate that is transferred to the dependants.

It is difficult for these advisers to help their clients in market timing or stock selection - as this is speculation and a zero-sum game. In fact, after allowing for the cost of transactions and fees, it is a negative sum game for the clients.

The best way to get a good yield on the investments is to invest in an index fund and to invest for the long term - to average out the good and bad years. There is little that the advisers can help the client to achieve a better yield.

I have seen many cases where the investor who had relied on the financial adviser to pick the manage the investments on their behalf - only to be disappointed with the bad results. The financial adviser probably did their best, but when the market is volatile, some investors will be at the wrong end, and the results can be disastrous. For each winner, there will be a loser - and after deducting fees and expenses, most investors (actually speculators) will be worse off.

To avoid speculation, you should learn how to invest for the long term. Read my book on financial planning ( or attend the financial planning talk organized by FISCA (

Monday, September 26, 2011

Advisers acted honestly but gave bad advice

Many people had bought a bad financial product from an agent or adviser whom they know and trusted. They learned later that this was a bad decision.

The adviser might have acted honestly but gave the wrong advice, due to being naive. The advisers desperately needed a job, e.g. they have just graduated. They were taught about the positive aspects of the financial product (e.g. life insurance policy or structured product) but did not know about the negative aspects (i.e. the high charges and high risk). They honestly sold the financial product to their friends and family members thinking that they are giving good advice.

When they learned later about the negative aspects, they felt quite bad about letting down the people who trusted them and left the business quietly.

Their agency managers knew the full picture, but exploited the ignorance of the newcomers. Some advisers or agents, who later learned the tricks, decided to continue the game and make a lot of money for themselves.

I do not wish to imply that all agency managers or experienced advisers are dishonest. I know of a few who are honest and acted in the best interest of their customers. But there are dishonest or naive advisers as well, so consumers should be wary.

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