Thursday, June 28, 2012

Defensive driving

I drive within the speed limit of 50 km on most roads. If a dog or child that run across the road or a car comes out of the side road unexpectedly, I will be able to stop in time. I wish to avoid a collision or accident, even if I have the right of way.

When crossing a road intersection now, I pay attention to Ferrari or Lexus that may come speeding to beat the light. It does not matter who has the right of way, I do not want to get into their way.

I find young people driving too fast. I advised them to drive more slowly. If there is any unexpected accident, they can be hurt badly. It is better to be safe than sorry. There is no need to be in a rush. Our roads are congested anyway - so allow more time for the travel.

Poor service for a foreign bank

Dear Mr Tan
I have a housing loan with Bank X for over 10 years now. They have been sending me a monthly statement showing how much I have paid for the month and how much of the loan is still outstanding since we started banking with them in 2001.
From  Jan 2012 I have stopped receiving this monthly statement. I called up the bank and the call centre staff gave me many "possible" reasons why I have not been receiving the statement. But none of them seemed to be convincing.
It was only when I scrutinised the Dec 2011 statement that I realised in small print in that at the end of the statement was a statement saying from 2012 hard copy statement will not be sent any more supposedly to save the environment but I suspect it got more to do with saving money than the environment.
I called up the bank and told them I would prefer to receive the hard copy of the statement so that I can keep track of my payment and the amout still outstanding.
The bank said they do not entertain such request and advised me to use their internet banking to check and view the statemen online. Knowing internet banking in Singapore is not one of the easiest thing to manoeuvre I told them I still prefer the hard copy of the statement.They said "No!"
I have 2 questions. Firstly why is it that the staff at the call centre was not aware that Bank X is doing away with hard copy of housing loan repayment statement but instead gave me lots of "possible" reasons why I have stopped receiving the monthly repayment statement. And two, are banks allowed to swich to electronic statement without getting explicit consent from its customers. And even when customers choose to opt in or out of the e-statement the bank still has the final say? What about customers who do not wish to or have no access to internet?
I always thought that foreign banks offer better service than local ones but it seems that in Singapore nowadays companies and organisations are trying hard to outdo each other in seeing who can offer poorer customer service.
Just want to share this with you.

From a customer of Bank X

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Absolute liability

It is a crime in Singapore to engage in commercial sex with a person under age 18. Here is a report on the passing of the law in Singapore in 2007.

I did not find any mention that this is an absolute liability case, although some people have made a statement to this effect. I made some research on what is the meaning of absolute liability and found this description in Wikipedia to be enlightening:
Regulatory bodies tend to favour the approach of declaring offences to be strict or absolute liability, because it makes it easier to prosecute people: there is no longer a requirement to demonstrate that the defendant was deliberately intending to commit an offence. Jurists consider such a mechanism to be a blunt instrument, and recommend its use only in limited circumstances:
Absolute liability is used for certain regulatory offences in which it is necessary for individuals engaged in potentially hazardous or harmful activity to exercise extreme, and not merely reasonable, care. Such offences as exceeding 60 kilometres per hour in a 60 kilometre zone, causing pollution to waters, selling alcohol to underage persons, refusing or failing to submit to breath testing and publishing a name in breach of a suppression order. In these cases, the courts accepted that the benefits to the community overrode any potential negative impact on the accused person.
According to this explanation, it is a good practice to declare an offence as absolute liability, before it can be treated as such. This will impose a duty of extreme care to be exercised by the potential offender. If it is not declared as such, then the offender can put forward the defense of "mistake of fact". 

Can someone help me to search the law, to see if this offence was declared to be a "absolute liability"? 

Public consultation on Land Transport Master Plan

I am looking for people interested to discuss and provide suggestions to improve the master plan. If you are interested, please send e-mail to We can arrange two or three meetings.

The closing date to submit feedback is 30 September 2012.

Improve bus services

23 June 2012

Editor, Voices
Today Paper

In most buses, there is a display panel to show that the bus is stopping or is about to move off.

This panel can be used to show the sequence number and location of the next bus stop. All the stops should be numbered sequentially for each bus service.

When a passenger wants to know which bus stop to disembark, the bus driver can give the sequence number of the bus stop. The passenger will be able to count the stops to the destination.

I have missed my bus stop on a few occasions when taking the bus at night. If there is such a display, it would have avoided the mishap.

This simple service will be useful for visitors to Singapore or to people who are not familiar with a particular bus service. It is easy for the bus driver to tell them the sequence number of the bus stop to disembark. This will improve the communication and quality of service.

It may even encourage more people to take the bus and help to take away some of the load from our over-crowded trains.

Tan Kin Lian

A re-energized corruption bureau?

Recently, there were many cases of action taken on alleged corrupt practices involving civil servants and non-civil servants. The practices in some of these cases date back many years. In today's paper, the headlines highlight two cases involving a church pastor and a manager of a media company. It seemed that anti-corruption is the order of the day.  

I wonder why there are so many corruption cases recently, when there was relative silence in past years. I could guess that the focus must have occurred due to the change of minister for home affairs made after the 2011 general election. Perhaps the previous minister did not consider this matter to be important and the new minister took a different view.

While action against corrupt practices is important, we seemed to go overboard in focusing on this single issue. There are other urgent issues that need to be addressed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Benefit illustration are not contractual

Hi Mr. Tan,
I have a question about the recent AIA caseI'd like to clarify that a benefit illustration does not count as a legal contract (as the AIA's defence suggests). If this is true, does that mean the numbers shown in the benefit illustration can be changed by the insurer at any time? 

The benefit illustration said that the benefits are projected and are based on the projected future investment returns. If the actual investment returns are lower, the actual benefits will be lower. If the actual returns are higher, the actual benefits should be higher.

They cannot be changed at the whims of the insurer. However, the insurer may not give the fair distribution of the actual results. It is better to invest in a more transparent way, e.g. through an ETF.

Message from a great President


"It is indeed worth listening to this great actor who became President of USA!"

Watch this testimony from a former U.S. President
In recent times, more strident measures have been taken to eliminate God, Christ, and the Bible from the public arena and beyond. Yet, it wasn’t that long ago when another president had some very remarkable things to say. TURN UP YOUR SPEAKERS Watch this and pass it along…

Monday, June 25, 2012

Investing in ETF

Watch this video from the SGX Academy

FISCA talks - not to be missed!


There is a talk on 30 June 2012. The speaker is Wilfred Ling, a practising financial
adviser. He will be covering topics of special interest to those in the 30 to 50
age group - especially on SRS and CPF.

Many consumers have approached me for views on SRS (Supplementary 
Retirement Scheme). Recently, I found that the SRS scheme allows Singaporeans
to save an additional 15% of their earnings in a tax advantaged scheme. You can 
attend the talk and learn about how to take advantage of this scheme.

You can also ask Wilfred Ling about the CPF Life options. 

This is the first talk for members. Non-members are also encouraged to 
attend and learn about the activities of FISCA.

The dinner will be preceded by a talk about "Investment Scams", conducted
by Tan Kin Lian. These scams are subtle and consumers may not be aware
about them, until they get caught. Do not miss this opportunity to learn how 
to identify and avoid these scams.

This will be followed by a dinner. The cost of the dinner is $40 and members 
and non-members enjoy a subsidy. Previously, the menu included sharks
fin, which has now been replaced by a soup.


SGX Academy

You can attend talks organised by SGX Academy

License for taxi drivers

Malaysia is considering to issue taxi licenses to individual taxi drivers, instead of companies. The government thinks that this may be better for the welfare of the taxi drivers.

Review our defense needs

This article contains a good analysis of our defense expenditure and options to make changes for the future.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Diary of a Singapore Mind

I encourage you to visit this blog regularly.
I like the insightful articles written by Lucky Tan. He carries out his research diligently and write well.

Digital display in bus

The is the digital display in the bus. It shows only the words "Bus Stopping" and "Welcome Aboard".

I suggest that the bus companies should show the stop number and the location of the next bus stop, e.g. "Stop 15: Thomson Plaza."

The stop number should be numbered sequentially for the specific bus service. If a passenger ask the bus driver on the bus stop for Thomson Plaza,  the bus driver can say Stop 15. The passenger will be able to know how many remaining stops to reach the destination.

This is similar to the station number in the train, e.g. NS1, NS2, NS3. It is easy for visitors and tourists. It is also useful for locals who may be travelling on an unfamiliar service. 

Nursing homes in Johore Bahru

A nursing home has opened a branch in Johore Bahru to provide the service at half of the cost of Singapore.

To make it convenient for family members to keep in touch with their elderly facilities, I suggest that they should install Skype facility. The staff can arrange for the residents to talk to their family members on a weekly basis. This is an additional channel of communication, and should not replace the visits by the family members.

Choices for Singapore

Prime Minister Lee has framed the question - do you want to pay higher taxes for more welfare benefits, like the Scandinavian countries?

This is not the right way to frame the question. In the Scandinavian countries, the people who pay higher taxes are those with bigger incomes, and not the ordinary wage earners. So, the correct question should be - do you want a progressive tax system that require the higher income earners to pay more taxes, so that the Government can give better welfare benefits - and create a more equal society?

You can read the argument here:

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