Saturday, July 28, 2012

Team Singapore at the London Olympics

London's approach towards welcoming foreigners

London adopted a different approach towards welcoming foreigners that appeared to work well. Singapore can learn from their approach.

NUS Law Professor and his political views

Prof Tey Tsun Hang, who is charged with corruption involving grading a law student, has written several articles critical of the political system in Singapore. They are described here:
However, the Attorney General Chambers have denied any links between these publications and the charge that is now being levied on Prof Tey.

Singapore Flag

This is the Singapore Flag displayed at my gate. I walked around the estate this morning, and found the flag being displayed in less than 1 house in 10. 
It seemed that many Singaporeans are too busy and do not share in the National Day festivity any more.

Provide bus arrival time and sequential stop number

24 July 2012 

Editor, Voices
Today Paper

The Land Transport Authority is carrying out a survey to find out the 
interest of the commuters on information that indicate the loading of a 
particular bus, i.e. if seats are available.

Apparently, this an be obtained using the data that is now being collected
for the computation of bus fares.

It is more urgent to tell the commuters about the expected time of arrival 
of the next bus for a specific service. This will allow the commuter to make
better use of the time while waiting for the bus to arrive.

While this information is now available for SBS buses, it is not being 
provided for SMRT buses. LTA can use its data to provide a comprehensive

LTA should also ask the bus operators to display the sequential stop 
number for each service. This will help the commuters to identify the
stop to alight from the bus, even if they are not familiar with the places along
the route.

Tan Kin Lian

Make better use of buses

24 July 2012 

Editor, Forum Page
Straits Times

Many commuters take the MRT because they are familiar with the routes and the 
stops. They may not realize that there is a bus route that could be more suitable for their

As the trains are now over-crowded and it is difficult to increase the capacity, the Land
Transport Authority should look into encouraging more people to take the bus, if this is
a more convenient mode of travel. 

Here are some steps that can be taken:
  • Educate the public on how to use the bus, especially to find a convenient way
    to reach the destination on a direct route or with one convenient change of bus
  • Get the bus operators to display the sequential stop number and allow the
    commuters to know when to alight from the bus
  • Display the expected arrival time of the next bus, so that commuters can know the
    waiting time.
The bus arrival time is now available on mobile apps for SBS services, but is not
available for SMRT services. It should be possible for the information to be provided
by LTA using the data that is now collected for the calculation of the fares.

I hope that the Land Transport Authority can take early steps to improve the usage of
buses, to relieve the over demand on the trains.

Tan Kin Lian

Anger against open door policy

Rising public quarrels between Singaporeans and foreign immigrants
show that the government’s policy of mass importing of foreigners
to boost the economy and correct a declining birthrate
is going badly.
A worried Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
recently warned his people of the danger of social friction
between new citizens and locals.
Lee, however,
shows no sign of wanting to make any dramatic change.
Over the weekend he presented citizenship certificates
to 350 foreigners in two batches within a week.
Few Singaporeans believe the republic is in any danger of becoming xenophobic.
They agree that the country needs immigrants for long-term survival,
but only if their quality and numbers are controlled –
not taking in large numbers of workers with dubious quality
as has been happening here.

Taxis taken off COE bidding system

Friday, July 27, 2012

Opening of the London Olympic Games, 2012

The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony is starting soon. I was not aware about it until I heard it on CNBC. It seemed to be not well covered in our newspapers.

Watch this Youtube video.

The opening ceremony has been described as "eccentric and exuberant".

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Protect online accounts

Read this report

I am against the practice of changing password regularly for non-critical online accounts. As each consumer has to maintain many accounts, it is impractical to keep changing these accounts at regular intervals.

It is better to pass a law to make it clear that anyone who hacks into another person's account is considered as committing theft. I shall write more about this concept later.

Here are my views.

We lock our house, but do not change the lock every three months. Anyone who comes into the house without any valid reason is considered to be trespassing, and can be suspected to have an intent to steal and can be reported to the police.

We should adopt the same approach to a person who signs into another person's account without permission. It is similar to entering the house with an intent to steal.

Impressions of Phnom Penh

I like Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It is a city of 1.5 million people. English is a commonly used language.

There are a few tall buildings,  but most of the buildings are less than six stories high. This makes the city look more charming.

The climate is quite pleasant. It is not as hot and humid as in Singapore. The temperature appears to be cooler. Perhaps it is further from the equator.

Most people use a motor cycle, which is a more sensible type of transport compared to cars. I do not see many buses. I hope that this will become the next form of transport. They should avoid the mistake of most cities in allowing too many cars on the road.

Although the income level is low, compared to Singapore, the people are able to get by, due to the lower cost of living. However, imported products are expensive. So, they have to live with fewer choices.

Discontinuing a life insurance policy

Straits Times, 24 July 2012 

Surrendering insurance policies not the only option
WHILE insurance policies are aimed at helping consumers meet their long-term financial needs, individual circumstances may change and they may have to discontinue their policies.
Policyholders may believe that the only way forward is to surrender the policy and accept the cash value.
I surrendered one policy each with HSBC Insurance and Manulife this year because the customer service officers did not tell me about the other options, such as obtaining a loan via the policy, converting the policy to a paid-up policy, and selling to the resale market. It is important to stress the long-term benefits of policies, and that surrendering one should be the last resort.
Neo Chern Siang

New ticket for train rides

I am puzzled at this announcement

Will it replace the existing fare card? Is the user required to change the fare card after every six rides? What about passengers with concession cards, such as seniors or students?  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hefty charge on late payment

I was offered a easy credit card from Standard Chartered Bank. It allows the borrower to draw out a cash line, with a first layer of $3,000 free of interest. Interest is charged at slightly lower than 18% on the excess over this layer. The marketeer told me that I could take out only $3,000 and pay no interest.

If the borrower makes any payment late, there is a service charge of $80 for the late payment. I find this fee to be exorbitant.

I object to this type of business practice, which aims to make money on people who may overlook to pay on time, due to travel or a busy schedule.This is like laying a trap on a careless or unsuspecting customer.

 I feel strongly that the Monetary Authority of Singapore does disallow this type of deplorable practice.

Integration woes

Sensible business practice

I am now staying at Hotel Cambodiana in Phnom Penh. It is an old but grand hotel. I commend them on their sensible business practice.

I purchased a voucher to use the internet for 3 hours for US7. They allow the time to be accumulated and used over several days, so long as the connect time is within the specified duration.

Their user ID and password are all numeric, which makes it easy to enter on a mobile device (unlike the typical ID and password which require numbers, small letters and Capital letters). At least in Cambodia, the people do think and come out with sensible practices. 

I hope that our people in Singapore can learn about these good practices and not focus on making life diffficult for customers and imposing excessive charges.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What heart insurance covers

IT is very interesting to note that under the 36 critical illnesses list
where the heart insurance coverage is concerned,
insurance companies only cover
heart attacks and damage to the heart,
including open heart or bypass surgery.
Blockages in heart vessels are not considered critical
although these may lead to heart attacks and also death.
They do not consider angioplasty for payment
although it is done to prevent further damage.

Clear and relevant statements.

Lawyers are trained to write letters that are clear and contain relevant points. Here is an example of a well written letter. It is useful for consumers to write their statements in a manner in a similar manner, for example, if they have been misled into making a wrong investment or has not been given the service that has been promised.

Super rich evade tax

The super rich are able to evade tax with the assistance of the super banks.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wages and inflation

This article gives useful information about wages and inflation rates in Singapore in recent years. The target for an investor is to earn 2% higher than inflation. So, they investor (or consumers) have to learn how to achieve it. Join FISCA as a member.


The practice of cronyism in the West is worse than in Asia, according to this article. It is a hypocrisy that those who preach governance are guilty of the malpractice. Wonder if this also applies to Singapore?

Tax havens

The tax havens have drawn away an estimated 40 trillion in assets that escape taxation. This is the main course of government budget deficits that have played the global economy. It also led to the wide income gap.$40-trillion-in-hidden-assets

Get a feel of the ground

The author of this article said that the problems faced in Singapore are due to a lack of understanding of the situation at the ground and the hardships faced by the people.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How to read a benefit illustration

I have often been asked - "is XYZ a good insurance policy?"

It is not possible to answer this type of question. The correct approach is to get a benefit illustration for the policy, provided by an insurance agent. This article explains what to look out for, and how to determined if the policy is a good policy.

Here are the tips on how to evaluate a life insurance policy:

a) If you are buying it as an investment, make sure that the yield is at least 4% per annum. The article explains how you can calculate the yield.

b) If you are buying it for protection, make sure that the monthly premium is not more than $1 to cover $10,000. For example, if you wish to cover $300,000, do not pay more than $30 a month. You can get this cover from a term insurance policy.

Queue at Singapore Airport

This is the queue at Singapore Airport when I returned from Paris.

Guess what were the passengers doing at the counter? They were writing the useless immigration card.

I do not have to write any immigration card when I entered Paris. The European authority decided that they only need to scan the passport and the immigration card is useless.

Our Singapore Immigration authority did not have to decide anything. They just wait for instructions to come down from the Minister. As the Minister is too busy with other pressing issues over the past decades, no decision was taken to remove the useless card.

Queue at Paris Airport

This is the queue at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to leave France. The number of travellers overwhelm the  officers checking the passport due to the holiday season.

The actual time taken to process the passport was quite fast, as they do not only need to put a stamp. There was no need to check the computer system.

I wonder why they did not have more officers to handle the crowd? It must be a bureaucratic lethargy.  

Duration of National Service

Is our National Service too long? Here are the duration in other countries.

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