Saturday, August 25, 2012

Suspension for three years

Dr. Susan Lim was suspended by the Singapore Medical Council from practice for three years, as they found that she had over-charged her patients.

I find the decision to be harsh and counter-productive. She is a renown doctor and to stop her from practice for such a long period is a lose-lose outcome. She has useful skills that can be applied for the benefit of her patients.

Dr. Lim said that there are no fee guidelines and her fees have been agreed with the patient. If the patient was unhappy with the fee, she could have raised the matter during the time that she was being treated. It was not fair for this matter to be raised by the family after the patient had died.

While many people may find her fees to be excessive, Dr. Lim had her reasons as well and her points should also be considered.  A better outcome is for her to refund some of the fees to the family - which is what she had done.

Are you happy to be living in a rich country?

No Singaporeans are crazy enough to pray for poverty, but extreme wealth in the hands of a few is just as bad. Without that the economic gap here is already the world’s widest.

All these impressive fortunes are good for boasting, but believe me, I would rather wish for a more even distribution. The foreign billionaires can be here today, gone tomorrow.

Loss of income for retirees

This article explains about the loss of income for retirees

A large cause of the loss of income is caused by the extremely low interest rate, and retirees depend on interest income earned on their past savings. The loss interest rate environment is not fair to retirees, and is a form of hidden tax. The interest rate is now below inflation rate, especially when retirees invest in "safe" government bonds.

Relying on the appreciation of houses is also dangerous, as seen from the US experience. This will also hit the inflated housing market in Singapore, in due course.

Even "safe" investments are not safe anymore. The municipal bonds in the USA may default. Some government bonds issued by European governments are now questionable.

The "best" investment is to invest in a diversified portfolio of blue chip shares. This is explained in my talks on investments conducted by FISCA (, Events). You can invest in an indexed fund, including ETF of index funds.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Anti-inflamatory drug

I have an inflammation in my foot. My doctor prescribed a NSAID. Here is an explanation of this drug from Wikipedia:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), alleviate pain by counteracting the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme. On its own, COX enzyme synthesizes prostaglandins, creating inflammation. In whole, the NSAIDs prevent the prostaglandins from ever being synthesized, reducing or eliminating the pain.
Some common examples of NSAIDs are: aspirinibuprofen, and naproxen. The newer specific COX-inhibitors - although, it is presumed, sharing a similar mode of action - are not classified together with the traditional NSAIDs.
On the other hand, there are analgesics that are commonly associated with anti-inflammatory drugs but that have no anti-inflammatory effects. An example is paracetamol, calledacetaminophen in the U.S. and sold under the brand name of Tylenol. As opposed to NSAIDs, which reduce pain and inflammation by inhibiting COX enzymes, paracetamol has recently been shown to block the reuptake of endocannabinoids, which only reduces pain, likely explaining why it has minimal effect on inflammation.
Long-term use of NSAIDs can cause gastric erosions, which can become stomach ulcers and in extreme cases can cause severe haemorrhage, resulting in death. The risk of death as a result of use of NSAIDs is 1 in 12,000 for adults aged 16–45. The risk increases almost twentyfold for those over 75. Other dangers of NSAIDs are exacerbating asthma and causing kidney damage. Apart from aspirin, prescription and over-the-counter NSAIDs also increase the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke.

Inconsiderate survey form

I stayed at the Pullman Hotel in London. The stay was quite pleasant. I received a survey from and tried to obliged them.

However, I found the survey form to be quite inconsiderate. It asked for too many questions. Half way, I gave up. I sent a reply to them by e-mail, but the reply was rejected automatically.

This is how many companies treat their customers and blew up an otherwise pleasant experience.

You can view the survey form here:

If the company is serious about getting a reliable response, they should keep to 5 questions and not 30 questions. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Panoramic View of the city of London from the 15th floor of the Pullman Hotel in Euston Road. 

How to address the Clergy

Three mothers were talking about their grown up sons who have joined the religious order of the Catholic Church.

The first mother said, "My son is a Priest. When he walks into a room, the people addressed him as Your Reverend". The second said proudly, "My son is a Bishop. The people addressed him as Your Excellency". The third boasted, "My son is a Cardinal. He is addressed as Your Eminence"

Overhearing them, the fourth mother said, "My son did not graduate from a religious school. He worked as a lumberman. But he is 7 feet  tall and weighs 300 kg. When he enters into a room, the people grasped, "Oh, my God.

Rising home prices are not welcomed in New Zealand

I consider rising home prices to be bad for a country. It is a burden on the young people and benefits the people who have more than one property This is also the view held in New Zealand.

This is the law

For a long time, I have always considered that the law and justice goes hand in hand. We do not want laws that produce unjust outcome.

I have met some lawyers who proudly proclaim their knowledge of the law, even if the outcome is unjust. They say, "This is the law". It is practiced as it was written and interpreted by the courts. It seemed to imply that the concept of justice is irrelevant.

I read this article with some interest, as it also touch on the concept of law and its outcome:

We will be a poorer society, if the law is written to benefit certain people, who have the means to pay expensive lawyer to defend their interest against the common sense of justice!

Impractical standards on online security

Some people make a big issue about online security and gets upset that their telephone number of email address is retrieved without their permission. Is this a big concern?

If anyone wants to know my telephone number or address, they can look up the telephone book. My mobile number and email address is already known to many unauthorized people anyway. 

When I get an unsolicited call on my mobil
e phone, usually from a telemarketer, I tell that person off - that he or she is intruding on my privacy. They must have noted my complaint and seldom call back again.

I get daily emails showing "... I got a business proposal for you". I just delete them.

I support a law that make it a crime for someone to hack into an online account (it is the same as stealing) but in other cases, I accept that this nuisance is a part of the daily life.

I do not want to be forced to change my password and PIN, just because of this small risk. Our regulator, such as MAS and IDA, should also mind their business and not impose unnecessary standards to protect online accounts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Government procurement - independent panel

18 August 2012 

Editor, Voices
Today Paper

I refer to the reply from the Director (Corporate Communications) of the
Ministry of Finance on government procurement.

In referring to my suggestion on having an independent panel for large 
tenders, the Director said that "While agencies can engage such experts 
to help in the tender evaluation, it is important that accountability for 
purchases remains with the agency."

The Director had missed the intent of my suggestion, which was aimed
to ensure that this is independent consideration in the award of 
the large tender.

The procuring agency can still have its influence and accountability when they make the 
recommendation to the independent panel. It will be more difficult for the procuring 
agency to collude with its favored suppliers when there is an independent panel.

The role of the independent panel is similar to the role of the board of directors 
in taking major corporate decisions.

The Director had mentioned the existing of an audit process. The audit process can 
check for compliance with procedures, but may not be effective in checking that 
the tender have been awarded based on achieving the right price and quality and 
in preventing favoritism in the award.

Tan Kin Lian

Attend the educational talks

I continue to get requests from my readers to give my views on specific investments and insurance policies. My reply is the same - attend the educational talks organized by FISCA - (Events).

I am sure that these people have read my postings many times before, asking them to attend the talks. They do not want to spend the time and money but like to get "free advice". They should realize that it takes time to analyse these policies and is usually a waste of time, as these products are complicated and have hidden catches.

Public transport in London

I posted a few observations of the public tranport in London in my Facebook,

Fingerprint of God

Current trends

Read my views on investments and current social and economic trends in

Drive slowly and carefully

We need to drive slowly and carefully on our roads.


I am now in London. I took the Heathrow Express from the airport to Paddington. Cost 19 GBP and only 15 mins. Another 10 GBP from Paddington to my hotel. If I took the taxi from airport to hotel, the cost would be 60 GBP. So, the train and taxi is half of the cost.

The taxi driver could not find the hotel, as the name changed recently. If he had Google maps, it would have been easier. They should use Google map.

I saw many cyclist on the roads in Central London. They appear to be quite safe. The traffic moves slowly.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Inequality in education

Every time I read about the "fight" to get the best primary school for the children, I feel very sad. Why do we have to compete to this extent? Why can't we make the primary schools more equal? You can call it excellence but I call it inequality.,-but-fair

Things are not going right in China

The writer had praise for China in the earlier years, but found that things are not going right now.

Many of the comments apply to Singapore as well. Both countries appear to adopt the same approach towards economic development, and face similar social problems.

Here are some interesting quotes:
Modern day mainland Chinese society is focused on one object: Money and the acquisition thereof. The politically correct term in China is "economic benefit". 
 How will it lead? Unfortunately, it has forgotten. The government is so scared of the people it prefers not to lead them. 
The domestic Chinese lower education system does not educate. It is a test centre. The curriculum is designed to teach children how to pass them. 

Charge fair rates for roaming service

Not published by Strait Times.
16 August 2012 

Forum Page
Straits Times

My mobile operator charges $10 to $20 per megabyte for data consumed
on my mobile phone or tablet when roaming outside Singapore. They 
applied a cap of $15 per day.

I find these charges to be exorbitant and refused to use the roaming data
charges. I prefer to buy a local pre-paid SIM card and
pay charges at less less than $5 a day for unlimited usage. This is my way 
of telling the operator that they have to be fair to their customers, and should not 
charge an exorbitant rate.

I have also provided feedback to my mobile operator, but they refused 
to review the charges.

Recently, I found a mobile operator in Jakarta that offers a pre-paid service
that is valid for one year at a cost of $15.  The volume of data provided
is sufficient to serve my needs for one year. As I travel to Jakarta regularly, this 
is a big cost saving.

While the mobile operator in Singapore likes to fleece as much 
as they can from their customers, they should also realize that this business
strategy is not good for them over the long term, They should look for ways to
provide a service to their customer at a fair rate, and still make their fair margin
of profit.

Tan Kin Lian

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Airport security

I understand the need for airport security, but I often wonder if the measures adopted are too mechanical and  impractical.

Often, the sensors are set at such a low level that it beeps when you pass through the detection gate. Even a  small coin will trigger the beep.

It is quite inconvenient and troublesome to remove the belt, pen, coins, wallet, mobile phone, watch and other items and still get "beeped". One might as well go through the body search, without removing these items.

I know of many airports where the security is more relaxed. They did not get any bombs blew up in the plane.

In risk management, one has to measure the cost and benefits of any risk measure. Is this a case where the cost now outweighs the benefits?

Protect online account - my approach

Not published
28 July 2012 

Editor, Voices
Today Paper

I refer to the report "Singaporeans putting their online accounts at risk" in Today 

It quoted a survey by an IT solutions company Assurity Trusted Solutions that many users do 
not adopt security measures, such as changing their passwords at regular intervals.
I wish to give my views, about IT security, so that the website administrators and regulators do not go
overboard in addressing this issue:

  • Many online accounts, especially those used for social networking,
    do not contain critical information
  • It is not practical to ask users to change their passwords at regular intervals, as they have to
    several dozen online accounts 
  • For transactions that have financial or legal impact, it is sufficient to use a second factor
    authentication, or to ask the user to enter a second password.
There is still the risk of unauthorized hacking into online accounts that do not have a high level of 
security. It is better to clarify that hacking is a criminal activity, similar to a burglar entering
into a private residence.  Many hackers may not be aware that they could be charged for this crime.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri

Best wishes to Muslim friends.
From Penang.

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