Saturday, February 18, 2012


In the past, I was asked by the public about a talk that they had missed, e.g. on financial planning and investment - when will it be held again. It is difficult for me to answer the question - I need to check and find out the answer.

FISCA has now posted the series of talks to be held this year. I urge those who are interested in financial planning, investments, insurance and similar subjects to register early and indicate your interest in the talk. FISCA needs your early registration for our planning. Do not wait for the last minute as the places may be taken up, or the talk is cancelled due to poor response.

Go to now and click on Events. Register early to indicate your interest.

Taxi booking (TABS) - new video

This is the 3rd version of the video. I hope that it is clearer now.

Develop a positive outlook

A university lecturer invited a politician to give a talk to the class. After the talk, there was a lot of interactive discussion. The following day, the lecturer asked the students how they felt about the speaker. One after another pointed out the parts that they dislike. Nobody pointed out the parts that they liked.

The lecturer was surprised. Why are these students only pointing out the negative points, and not the positive points. The remarks do not reflect the tone of the discussions, which were generally positive and lively.

I told the lecturer that I had a similar observation. Somehow, our education system and environment breed the culture to be negative, to see what is wrong. The students probably thought that they are trying to point out shortcomings to be improved. They should learn to be more positive and less judgemental. If they look at what is right, the climate will be more invigorating.

I also observe this pattern in many comments in my blog. Some people think that they are being helpful by taking a negative approach. They are mistaken.

Be considerate to visitors

This letter was sent to Today paper but not published due to lack of space.

3 February 2012

Editor, Voices
Today Paper

Many office buildings and multi story car parks in HDB estates 
locate the parking spaces for visitors at the higher levels 
and reserve the lower levels for seasons parking.

This does not make sense, as the visitors stay for a short period
and there is a high turnover of the parking space for visitors. Why waste 
fuel in making many visitors drive through many levels of the 
car park, especially of some season parking spaces are left empty?

As visitors are not familiar with the building, they may find scratch their vehicles 
against the narrow ramps while driving up many levels.

This type of arrangement reflects a disregard for the 
convenience of the visitors and the selfish attitude of the 
building planners.

I am aware of one notable exception in the car park in 
Nanyang Junior College which I visited two years ago. the visitors 
car park was located near the entrance. The visitors 
do not need to go round the premises to search for a 
parking space.

Tan Kin Lian

Message for young people

I wish to send this message for the young people of Singapore.

You have grown up in a competitive and stressful environment. You had to study hard and compete with your classmates - at least you try to excel, You spent many hours on tuition, home work and extra curricular activities.  Amid the heavy study load, you probably do not have the time to learn about the social values and interaction. Maybe, the values were taught to you, but you might not have paid attention to them.

So, here is my message to you.

1.  Difference of views
You will find people with different views from you. It does not mean that they are wrong and you are right. Many people with differing views are right from their perspective. Do respect their views.

2. Be positive
When someone comes up with an idea or suggestion - look for what is right, rather than what is wrong. When you look for what is right, you are being positive. There is a tendency for most people to be negative as they are looking for a perfect solution and nobody can agree on what this perfect solution is. By being positive, you accept that the solution is not perfect, but is probably better than the current situation, and that change has to be made in small steps.

3. Be courteous and respectful
You can voice a different view but it should be done in a courteous manner. You can state your views but should not insult, defame or attack other people. You have to be careful when you are posting your views anonymously on the Internet, as there is a tendency for people to behave badly when they feel safe from accountability.

4. Judging another person
There is a difference between judging a specific person or giving a view on an issue. You should avoid passing any judgment on another people. It is all right to express a view on any issue, without being personal.

Although I have addressed this message to young people, it is also relevant to other people who might not be aware of these points. I hope that you find the points to be useful and relevant.

Tan Kin Lian

Friday, February 17, 2012

Deleting comments from my blog and Facebook

I delete comments that are downright rude, insulting or defamatory from my blog and Facebook. The people who wrote these comments do not know how to be courteous or respectful. They think that it is their "freedom of speech" to insult other people, and to do it while remaining anonymous.

In some cases, I warned these people in my reply, but they insist on their "freedom of speech". I ban them from my Facebook, so that they can perform their freedom somewhere else. If they are deleted and feel aggrieved, they should reflect if they have been rude and insulting.

There is one terrible person who continues to write to insult me. His favorite expression is "Fatso 5%". I must have received 100 of his insults by now. I do not read the rest of his vitriolic. I just delete it automatically. It may take him a few minutes to write his venom, but it takes me 2 seconds to delete it. A few times, his remarks indicate that he is from NTUC Income. I can probably guess who he is.

There are many people who disagree with me, but they acted courteously, and I allowed their comments to appear in my blog and Facebook. You can read their comments from time to time, because they were not deleted.  

Video - taxi automated booking system

Distribution of flyers

I am looking for people who are interested to distribute flyers to taxi drivers at the airport and outside taxi companies. Those interested to earn some pocket money can send an email to

NS man waiting for taxi

A few days ago, I was walking to the bus stop to take a bus to my office. I saw a NS man waiting on the road-side to stop a taxi, but none was available. As he was outside a camp, he must be getting home after the camp training.

I thought that it would be good for the NS man to learn how to take a bus, or a change of bus, to get home. If he took a bus, there would be less demand for taxis - which could be used by elderly people, people with children, or those with a lot of shopping to bring home.

I do not know if the NS man came from a rich family. If not, he could have avoided paying a lot of money for the taxi fare.

Previously, I avoided taking a bus as it was too confusing. Recently, I learned how to take the bus, using a mobile app. It tells me which bus to take, or even a change of bus - what is the fare and how long is the journey - including the waiting time for the bus.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Perspective of the customers

My friend visited me in Midview City. He said that he could not find its way as the site was big and the signage was inadequate.

I agreed with his observation. I have observed that signage in Singapore is generally inadequate. I have got lost many times, due to the poor signage. Quite often, the signage led me astray.

Why is this the case? I suspect that our education system makes our students see issues from their perspective and fail to teach them on seeing matters from the perspective of other people. I observe this weakness in other areas, such as the design of our websites, forms and processes. This is too much focus on the needs of the "authority" and too little attention on the needs of the customers.

Generally, societies that are more democratic are more responsible and considerate of the needs of the people. We have to move towards that direction.

Provide toilet as public facility

Here is a photo of a public toilet that requires the user to pay an entrance fee of 10 cents. If you do not have any 10 cents coin, bad luck to you. You better find someone willing to give you change. I do not know if the gate accepts $1 coin. If it does, it will certainly not give you any change. If you have no coin, you have to find other ways to ease yourself.

I have always held the view that a public toilet is a necessity and should be made available for public use without any charge. Just like breathing air or walking in the park.

When owners of public buildings started to charge a fee to pay for an elderly person to keep the toilet clean, I did not mind this approach to creating jobs. The next ugly step was to eliminate the job and collect the fee as additional revenue.

When I stayed in a HDB flat 30 years ago, there were regular complaints from residents about peeing in the lifts. HDB had to install cameras in the lifts to discourage this bad habit.

Nobody thought then that the people who pee in the toilets were probably children or salesmen who were  not able to find a public toilet nearby. This problem was solved when public toilets were made available at most void desks, to be maintained by the operator of a convenience store.

The prevailing mindset in Singapore is to find all ways to make money and more money. I hope that the people in charge also consider the need to provide public facilities, such as public toilets, without creating too much hindrance on their use.

A sad outcome

I am saddened by the decision taken by the leaders of the Workers Party to expel Yaw Shin Leong from the party. I do understand the difficult and complex issue that the leaders had to deal with. I am sure that they have taken the decision in the best interest of their party and the future governance of Singapore.

Many people may not recognize the significance of this episode. It is already difficult for the  non-governing  political parties to find people to join their party. These party members will have to put in a lot of hard work, without any reward, and may have to face potential discrimination in the workplace or in the business community.  This is a big sacrifice that few people will want to shoulder.

I hope that the negative outcome of this episode will not discourage other people from stepping forward.

Many Singaporeans look on Yaw Shin Leong negatively, based on the rumors of his affairs and his refusal to answer them. I have already given my views on this matter and will not repeat them. We must not forget the  positive side - Yaw had put in 10 years of hard work in the grassroots of Hougang and had served his party loyally.

It is a sad trait of many Singaporeans to see the negative side and to overlook the positive side of a person. They are also ready to jump on the band wagon to bash someone who have personal or moral weakness, often forgetting that other people are guilty of similar transgressions,.but they are spared because these failings have not yet been highlighted in the media. Yet the same people who bash Yaw really yearn for an alternative to our current system of government.

I hope that there will be sufficient angels or saints to step forward to provide the leadership that is needed to ensure a better future for our country and children. I like to give best wishes to Yaw Shin Leong and his family as they face a new future ahead.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Speak out for people who are down

Here is a more detailed statement from me, posted in The Online Citizen. Please read it and also comments that follow.

Singapore among the world's most expensive cities

Hi Mr Tan,
Not sure if you have come across this article. Although it's not much better in some NZ and Australian cities, the rise in Singapore is quite notable.


At least, in Australia and NZ, there is a minimum wage and the lower income are paid much more than those in Singapore.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Alex Au withdraws comment about K Shanmugam

Here is a statement posted by Alex Au in his blog:
Please read this statement carefully and learn what was the earlier statement that Alex Au had to withdraw, and the context in which it was written.  The earlier statement was considered to be defamatory.
Many Singaporeans have been making statements, in other blogs and websites, about me and other people that are insulting and outrageous. They pass judgment on me that are more defamatory in nature and insist that it is within their right to "freedom of speech".
I hope that these people will try to exercise their freedom of speech against more powerful people, and see how far they can go.

An inspiration - Susan Boyle

How doctors treat themselves

This article explains how doctors treat themselves for serious illness. If we follow the same steps of the doctors, we can avoid spending a lot of money spent on futile treatment.

This article is available for FISCA members only at (click on Information).

Taxi booking

View this home page

Morality and hypocrisy

Don't get personal

13 February 2012 

Straits Times
Forum Page

I refer to Ms Christine Lim's letter in response to my statement about
the alleged affair of Yaw Sin Leong. It was not necessary for her
to pass her hasty judgement on me as a "former Presidential candidate".
As she has done so, I feel compelled to give this reply.

Yaw Sin Leong has resigned as Treasurer of the Workers Party. Ms Lim 
already said that this tantamounts to an admission of guilt. Most people 
would read it in this way. 

There is no need for Singaporeans to press this issue to the extreme and 
insist on a "transparent" statement. I wish to point out that two families are 
involved and their privacy of the innocent family members have to be 

The best person to judge Mr. Yaw is his own wife. I am encouraged by 
her support of her husband in this difficult issue. 

The other people affected are the constituents of Hougang. They will 
judge Mr. Yaw at the next general election. 

I know that many Singaporeans yearn for a better alternative to our
current system of governance. I hope that they will be realistic in 
their expectation of future political leaders.

I also agree with the approach taken by the leadership of the Worker's 
Party in handling this difficult issue. I have described it as 
"exemplary". Some people may disagree with this description, and they have 
the right to express their view, but they should refrain from attacking me 

May I politely point out that they is a past rumor of an extra marital affair 
involving another political leader, more powerful than Mr. Yaw, but the 
rumor did not surface in the mainstream media.

Tan Kin Lian

The Straits Times published my letter in their Online Forum, but remove the last paragraph about "the other rumor".

Tribute to Whitney Houston

Monday, February 13, 2012

Reply to Christine Lim

I have written a reply to the Straits Times on the points raised by Ms. Christine Lim. I will publish my letter in this blog in a few days time. It will address the issue raised by Ms. Lim and other Singaporeans who share her point of view. I wish to let them know that they can see matters in a broader perspective.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Revert to uniform contribution rate for CPF

Sent to Today paper on 9 February, but not published.

The Prime Minister has announced that the CPF contribution
rate for older workers will be increased gradually.

I urge the Prime Minister to take the bold step and revert 
to a flat rate of CPF contribution for all employees, 
regardless of age.

Employers already have the means of adjusting the 
wages of older workers based on their contribution and work 
productivity. This can be carried out through negotiation on a 
case by case basis, based on the financial situation of the 

Older workers will accept a wage cut, if 
their employer is not able to afford their high wage. They 
are sensible and will accept lower wages to avoid 
retrenchment or unemployment.

There is no need for the Government to legislate a 
lower rate of CPF contribution for older workers which 
have the negative consequences of disrupting their 
savings for retirement and creating fear of financial 

Tan Kin Lian

High termination charge under Vista plan

I received this e-mail.
Dear Sir,
I saw on your blog that you were looking for unhappy Vista customers. I am one of them. Although it was my responsibility to find out the terms and conditions, it is only now clear to me know how much I am really paying for relatively little result.
I have moved out of Singapore and have to pay extremely high penalties to terminate the contract. If I continue the contract, I face high transaction cost and currency risk.
I dislike the sales incentives that are driving agents to get people to sign up for longer and higher amounts than they can afford. This practice should be examined.
Here is my reply:
A few people had approached me on this matter, but they gave up after a few rounds. They decided to take the loss and did not want to fight the injustice that they suffered, i.e. having to lose a large sum of money due to mis-representation or non-disclosure by the sales agent. I do not know if there was  a case where they were paid off on the undertaking not to disclose the compensation.  If they were, they did not tell me.

Facilities for the Elderly

We need a solution to provide facilities for the elderly. Alex Au writes about some ideas. They are worth reading.

How can we provide facilities for the elderly and meet the concerns of property owners regarding the negative impact on their property values? I will give some of my views later (remember, I like to think out-of-the box) but I encourage other people to share their views first.

Poly student should not buy Life Insurance

I received this e-mail:
Hi , I am a student, from polytechnic. I had bought a pruflexicash policy. And I found out that the sum assured is only $10,500. And I pay $77 monthly. Is it really worthwhile to continue with this policy? I had already bought this policy for 8 months.
I asked the student to tell me how he was sold this policy. It is clearly not suitable for a student. If it was to buy protection, the student could have bought $100,000 of life insurance cover from SAF for $10 a month. If it was for savings, the student should have kept the money in the saving account - at least he does not lose 50% of the saving for the first two or three years.

Clearly, the insurance agent who sold the policy must be taking advantage of the ignorance of the polytechnic student. The agent earns the commission at the expense of the student. It is unethical. Should this be allowed to continue?

Manpower Shortage in the Productive Sectors

This article relates an incident of a person who was assaulted. He found that the Police did not have sufficient manpower and professionalism to carry out the investigation. He had to do the investigation on his own.

During the past years, I have also observed several incidents where the Police was quite sloppy in carrying out the investigation work. I suspect that it was due to shortage of manpower - but other factors could come into play, such as a lowering in the sense of duty. It seemed to be quite common to pass the buck around and point to somebody else to do the dirty work. Sadly, this has become our national culture.

One possible reason for the shortage of manpower is that most graduates prefer to work in the financial sector, who pays high salaries or to be property agents, insurance agents or financial advisers. Fewer people are willing to do the work as a police, investigator or other traditional occupations.

We need to get a better balance in the deployment of our resources. The finance and property sectors are the non-productive sectors of our economy. They should not be taking away so much manpower, to the detriment of the other sectors

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