Saturday, March 17, 2012

Coping with the rising cost of health care

I have often been asked to advice on the suitable type of insurance to cope with the rising cost of health care. My answer is posted in See

Friday, March 16, 2012

OKI 3300 color printer

I have a OKI 3300 color printer (hardly used) with color cartridges (partially used), available for sale at SGD 300 or best offer. Interested? Send email to

Singapore's defence policy

Lucky Tan writes about Singapore's defence policy.

My view: If we spend less on defence, we have more money to help reduce the cost of living for our citizens. It is a goal what is worth pursuing. We need to give a better quality of life for our people.

Volunteer for Alert Portal

There was a breakdown in the train service along the North East Line. Over 70,000 people were affected. They complained about the lack of updates. Some of them asked to be alerted through their mobile phones.

I have developed a portal that allows people to check for updates and alerts at a portal. It can be accessed using the browser of a mobile phone,

I wish to ask for a volunteer who can spend one or two hours each day to update the alert portal. The volunteer can view the twitter and facebook of the service providers, such as SMRT, SBS, PUB, SingTel, Starhub, M1, etc. They can extract the information to be put into the Alert Portal.

This service will be useful for the public. If you are interested to volunteer your time, send email to You can ask a friend to volunteer with you and share the work load. Training will be provided. It can be a useful experience.

The Minister for Transport wanted to force the taxi companies to control the "On Call" sign on the taxi roof centrally, rather than allow the taxi driver to manipulate this sign. It seemed to be an expensive way to control the bad habit of taxi drivers in mis-using this sign.

I think that it is better for the Minister to ban the taxi calling fee, and incorporate say $1 to the starting fare. If there is no fee, many people will call for a taxi, instead of stopping one on the roadside. Taxi drivers do not have to waste petrol to ply the road to look for a passenger and add to the traffic congestion and accidents.

Do you agree?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Train delay and no updates

Passengers are angry about train delays and no updates

This can be solved if the train operators use this alert portal

It can be accessed with any smart phone.

Currently, it is developed for use in Singapore only. I will now change it to be used anywhere in the world.

There are frequent train delays in Singapore as well. The train operators should use this alert portal to give updates to the passengers. Maybe, the Minister for Transport can encourage them to use the alert portal as another channel to get updates.

Taxis and road accidents

Sent to Editor, Voices of Today paper on 12 March 2012 

In the letter  "driving behind a cab should be safe" (Today, 12 March 2012), Francesco Ferri said that it is dangerous for taxis to stop suddenly to pick up passengers on the side of the road.

I suggest that the Land Transport Authority make it mandatory for customers to telephone for a taxi or wait at a taxi stand, rather than stop a taxi along the road. If taxis do not ply the road to look for customers, there will be reduced petrol consumption of petrol and less congestion and accidents on the road,  The taxi drivers should wait in a convenient place for a booking from the customer.

The regulator should mandate that the booking free should be incorporated in the starting fare of the taxi and should not be an additional charge.

Tan Kin Lian

A re-think of CPF Life

From 2013, the Government will be offering
only two plans under 
CPF Life, instead of 
four plans that are available now. 

There are still a lot of doubts about the two plans, i.e. the diminishing amount of the bequest as the years go by, and the question of who bears the subsidy given to people with lower savings (i.e. they get a higher rate of payout for each $1,000 of saving, compared to those with higher savings). 

Some people are still unhappy with the compulsory nature, as they are forced to use their CPF savings to buy an annuity that they do not like and may incur a financial loss if they should die at an earlier age.

I suggest that the Government consider the following approach.
  • Allow all CPF members the option to keep their minimum sum in the retirement account, i.e. do not make it compulsory for those borne after 1957 to buy CPF Life
  • Offer a new annuity plan, which is voluntary, for people to get a payout from age 85, after the savings in the retirement account has run out
  • Make the new annuity plan attractive, e.g. the Government subsidise 50% of the cost of this annuity.
I estimate that the cost of the post-85 annuity that pays $500 a month to be less than $10,000 at age 65. The cost to the Government of a 50% subsidy is only $5,000 and is incurred only for people who buy this annuity. If 20,000 people buy this annuity each year, the cost to the Government is only $100 million. 

It should be made clear to the purchasers of the annuity that they are participating in a risk pooling arrangement. The members who die before 85 will be leaving behind their savings to pay the annuity for those who survive beyond age 85. 

If this arrangement is acceptable to most people, it would be possible for the Government to discontinue the CPF Life and to offer an option for those who bought these confusing plans to change back to the retirement accounts and, if they wish, to buy the post-85 annuity plan.

Tan Kin Lian

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Outrageous behavior

From The New York Times:

DEALBOOK COLUMN: Conflicted, and Often Getting a Pass
Lawyers provide cover for executives guilty of outrageous behavior, but they somehow get relatively little blame.

My friend sent this article to me, as it supports my issue that lawyers are helping their clients to carry out immoral activities, such as making unjustified claims for payment of licences on doubtful patents. This type of immoral behavior seems to be quite common.
March 13, 2012 5:08 PM

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Taxi booking service - how to use the service

Singapore is Asia's most competitive city

Ratio of nurses to patients in Hospital

Britain has decided that they have to regulate the ratio of nurses to patients in hospitals. This is to ensure that there is a satisfactory standard of care. It illustrates the need for the regulator to step in, rather than leave such matters to be decided by the market.

Financial education for consumers

I have written a few comments to educate consumers on investing in this troubled world. You can ready my comments and the referenced articles in

Swiss reject 6 weeks of paid holidays

Switzerland has an interesting system of conducing referendums for their citizens to give their views. Here are the results of a recent referendum about getting 6 weeks of paid holidays in a year. The citizens rejected this proposal, to ensure that their firms can continue to be competitive globally. This shows the benefit of giving voice to the citizens and, in return, they act responsibly. This is a good way to involve the people and to cultivate a responsible behavior.

This strategy should be adopted in Singapore. However, it will take a long time to educate the people, but a start must be made. If we wait longer, the situation will get worse. Let us start with the by-election in Hougang.

Malaysia set minimum wage

Malaysia has decided to set a minimum wage of M800 to M900 per month, depending on location

Two weeks ago, a newspaper reported that a complaint by Malaysian employers that a minimum wage will cause 90% of the workers in small companies to lose their jobs, as the profit margin of these companies cannot sustain the minimum wage.

The employers overlook an important fact. The minimum wage will apply to all businesses. Their competitors will also have to bear the higher cost. The higher cost has to be passed to consumers through higher prices. And the lower income earners can afford the higher prices, as they earn higher wages, due to the minimum wage.

An important outcome is that the rental component that is embedded in the prices will become relatively smaller, compared to wages. This is a good and fair outcome. It is better to have the proper balance between wages, rental and profit.

Without a minimum wage or other regulations protecting workers, the wages will be be depressed by market forces. This has led to the high disparity between the high and low income levels, i.e. the widening wage gap, whic his bad for society.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Straits Times index gain 12% in 2 months

In spite of an uncertain global economy, the Straits Times Index gained 12% during the first two months of 2012 and gave a dividend yield of 3.7%. Who would have thought that the stock market could be robust? This shows the importance of investing for the  long term, and not speculate on short term trends - as no one can make an accurate and reliable prediction. To learn about investing for the long term, attend the FISCA workshop that wil be held on 31 March 2012. See (events). Do not miss this last workshop sponsored by SGX.

A pleasure to find a place that is not so crowded

I drove to Thomson Plaza at 10.15 am to visit the bank. It was a pleasure to see many vacant spaces in the car park. I park the car, carry out my transaction with the bank quickly and lefe the place within 10 minutes. It has been a long time since I had this feeling of leisure, of not having to drive round and round to look for an empty space or to wait in a long queue.

The quality of life can be much better, if Singapore is not so crowded. I had experienced this feeling when I visited a friend in Ohio, USA. There was so much space and houses and cars were not expensive. People had time to talk to their neighbors and friends. 

Business of the future

Read this interesting article. I am interested to do 2, 3 and 7 and look for people who want to participate in these exciting  projects.

1. A better search engine.
 Google was once an awesome search engine. It is now bloated up with all sorts of extra features. Graham says, "Google search results used to look like the output of a Unix utility. Now if I accidentally put the cursor in the wrong place, anything might happen." He suggests building something closer to that old-school, super simple version of Google.
2. Make email better. Email is just a "todo" list says Graham. As it's built right now, it's a terrible todo list. We need a new protocol for email. "As a todo list protocol, the new protocol should give more power to the recipient than email does."
3. Kill off universities. There has to be a better way to do education than what we've got right now.
4. Deliver great TV programming through the internet. The content companies have been slow to embrace the Internet. So, some startup needs to figure out a way to deliver the drama that people love on TV through the Internet. Says Graham, "There are two ways delivery and payment could play out. Either some company like Netflix or Apple will be the app store for entertainment, and you'll reach audiences through them. Or the would-be app stores will be too overreaching, or too technically inflexible, and companies will arise to supply payment and streaming a la carte to the producers of drama. If that's the way things play out, there will also be a need for such infrastructure companies."
5. Be the next Steve JobsGraham believes Apple is toast without Steve Jobs. As a result, there's an opportunity for a visionary to come up with an idea for a new hardware company like Apple.
6. Re-invent Moore's law. This one is a little complicated. Graham says Intel can't deliver faster CPUs, just more CPUs. "It would be great if a startup could give us something of the old Moore's Law back, by writing software that could make a large number of CPUs look to the developer like one very fast CPU."
7. Improve medical diagnosis. In 50-100 years, Graham thinks people will consider our current methods for diagnosing serious health conditions "barbaric." There has to be a better way to figure out if we have cancer, or if our arteries are being clogged up.

Save money on your vacation

VB.NET Developers - for full time employment, projects or training

Read this article about the businesses of the future:

I wish to look for developers who are experienced in VB.NET to work on a full time job, or on projects. I can also provide training to school leavers who have learned about VB or C# during school.

Interested? Send your resume to

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cap on interest rate for loans to low income earners

This article is from a contributor who prefer to remain anonymous. He puts forward the view that the cap on interest rate imposed for loans given to low income borrowers will actually work to their disadvantage as the licensed money lenders will find it not viable. The low income borrowers will have to turn to illegal loan sharks.

Bangla is not a derogatory term

I refer to this article about the use of the term "Bangla"

I agree with the Editor of The New Paper that they use this term as a shorter form for Bangladeshi, which is too long for a newspaper headline and it was not intended to be derogatory.

It is important that we treat all people with respect, so that there is no misunderstanding about superiority and derogation.

I have read in the blogs that Singaporeans are referred to as Sinkies, just like Hongkongers are referred to as Honkies. If this is intended to be a shorter form, it is all right. But the intent should be for convenience, rather than to be insulting to other people.

Over 2,100 officers to be recruited by Home Team

I welcome the recruitment of more police officers as there was inadequate manpower in recent years to to police a larger population.,100-officers-to-be-recruited-by-Home-Team

From my observation, we also need to have more police officers willing to do the ground work and investigation. There is a tendency in recent years for many officers to be involved mainly in desk work.

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