Friday, July 20, 2012

Family Life

At the request of a young person, I am re-starting Family Life. A new game will be created at 10 pm every night. The game will run for 80 minutes. Here is the link:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

High fees charged by credit cards

Hi Mr Tan,
thought you might be keen on posting this on your blog

In short, the above article indicates that the card companies have
finally bowed to regulators and consumers.

However, in asia (and of course Singapore).....

a) the fees charged by card companies in asia are way too high, making
crazy profits on this
b) the bank rates they charge, in collusion with the banks, for any
overseas transactions, are equally crazy.

Somehow, i don't see MAS taking a more pro-active stance on things.

Talk on Financial Planning

I have uploaded the slides for a 1 hour talk on financial planning given to a company. It was attended by 120 staff members who found the talk to be relevant, interesting and useful. They bought all of the books that I brought to the talk

Korean movie - Architect 101

Cast of Architect 101 - Lorean movie
I watched this Korean movie - Architect 101 - on the journey to Paris. It was in Korean, but had English sub-titles.

The story line was quite meaningful and touching. It showed the depth of the talent in Korea. I learned how the Korean professor taught the class in architecture, and found his approach to be interesting.

The two Korean actresses were stunning. I did some research and found their names to be Han Ga In and Bae Suzy. There are extremely popular in Korea, based on the comments in Youtube. The young actor was also quite good looking.

This is the first time that I had watched a full movie in Korean. I now know why it is so popular.

Some lessons from corporate canteens

I had lunch a few occasions in the canteen of the SIA Training Center and the Defense Science Organization. The prices were half of those charged in the privatized canteens. I was told that the stall holders had to pay a rental, but it was a modest rent and not the highest that the market could bear. Due to competition from a few stall holders, the prices had to be kept low, to cover the cost of rental, the ingredients and the labor. The stall holders could make a living, and the prices were kept low.

This was the business model adopted in the market and food courts that were leased out by the HDB and the Ministry of Environment two decades ago. It was a good model. It did not follow the maxim of tendering to get the highest market price, i.e. to maximize the returns. The controlled rentals still reflect the cost of cost of building these facilities. It was a good model to keep prices affordable over the long term, and to keep the cost of living low.

To prevent abuse by the stall-holders, the landlords forbid the sub-letting of the stalls. Exceptions can be made for older stall holders who wish to pass the business to their children. This can be managed, and is not a serious challenge.

Unfortunately, the Government decided to privatize and sell the stalls to the private sector. This has produced results that turned out for the worse. It is time to change and go back to the old model.

The recent move by the Government to build new markets and food courts that are operated by social enterprises is a step in the right direction. I wish the Government well in this experiment and hope that they have the wisdom and experience to deal with the challenges.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Best International Airlines

1. Qatar
2. Asiana
3. Singapore

Crafting a bogus narrative

Read this article by Lucky Tan.  He said that the government leaders now make it the responsibility of the citizens to integrate the newcomers.

Complexity in politics

Prime Minister Lee said that graduates have to learn about the "complexity". It seemed that complexity science is now the rage of government and public policy. Link. Is this the reason why many of our government schemes are so convoluted?

Is there a simpler way? Rather than be complex, can we be simple, honest and positive? If we look at the teachings of major religions, we are told to lead our lives in an honest, helpful and compassionate way. They do not teach about the need to be complex.

Join FISCA to learn about financial planning

Hi Mr Tan, 
Need the following advice on unit trust: 
1 Is unit trust a safe investment? 
2 Any recommendation for any particular unit trust?
3 How long should I hold? Is now a good time to buy them?
4 I have 50k to invest but not sure what to invest? any suggestion (not a big risk taker) 


My recommendation is to invest in the ETF, instead of a unit trust (due to difficulty of choosing which unit trust). Join FISCA ( and attend the educational talks.
Click "Register" to be a member 
Click "Event" to see the talks available. 
Attend the free talks on Financial Planning and Investments". 

Monday, July 16, 2012

An honest statement

America is not the greatest country in the world any more ....

Ask Mr. Tan

Here are a list of useful articles for consumers. Ask Mr. Tan.
To view any article, you have to provide your email address once, and later, you can see other articles without registration (as your email address is remembered in the cookie).
I hope that you find these articles to be useful.

Formula One Grand Prix

Will this be the last year for the Formula One Grand Prix? Was it a bad decision from day one? Read this opinion.

When the Formula One was announced five years ago, I had the trust that our Government leaders were savvy in negotiating a good deal for Singapore. Now, I have second thoughts. It seems that our leaders had a certain mindset, and could make bad decisions using that frame of mind.

Lessons from the purchase of the Brompton Bike

Read Lucky Tan's views here.

My own view is that the Government's purchasing procedure should be updated to apply the following principles:

  • Common sense
  • Accountability
  • Trust
We can still have purchases through GEBiz, but it should be made easy for potential suppliers to be alerted and to submit a quote. There is no need to pre-register for approval to use GEBiz. By all means, ask the supplier to register the essential particulars after their quote has been accepted. 

The selection should be based partly on common sense (i.e. judgement) and accountability. We have to learn to trust people to make judgement, after paying them top salaries.

Some suppliers have told me that it is frustrating to go through a lot of hassle to register in GEBiz, to submit many quotations and not get any business. They gave up.

Make better use of display panel in bus

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

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