Saturday, September 22, 2012

F1 extended till 2017

It is good news that F1 has been extended by another five years. After so much money has been spent during the first 5 years, it would be a waste if the race is stopped.

The estimated increase in tourist spending is $150 million a year. The cost of organizing the race is stated to be $150 million, of which the government pays 60%. I have checked and this is the cost for each year's race. So, we are spending $150 million to get $150 million in tourist revenue.

Why Nations Fail

Read this summary by Lucky Tan


Why Nations Fail

There is an interesting book by Daron Acemoglu. an MIT economist and James A Robinson.a political scientist from Harvard. When they talk about failure, it is not a country disappearing or wipe off from the map but a failure of its socio-economic and political systems leading to abrupt change or revolutions.
You should read the book in its entirety but in case you don't have time, as usual, I'll summarise its findings for you.
"Countries such as Great Britain and the United States became rich because their citizens overthrew the elites who controlled power and created a society where political rights were much more broadly distributed, where the government was accountable and responsive to citizens, and where the great mass of people could take advantage of economic opportunities" - Extract from the book. 

Ferrari Crash - two views

Insurer right to refuse claim...
Michael Ng
I DISAGREE with Mr Tan Kin Lian's observations and conclusions
("Ferrari crash: Regulator should step in"; Tuesday).
While consumer protection is a laudable goal that should be rigorously pursued,
there is a line between vigilant protection of consumers
and indiscriminately criticising finance-related companies.
... If that is so, why charge higher premiums?
G. Krishnamurthi
I HOPE the Insurance Commissioner addresses the point
raised by Mr Tan Kin Lian on Tuesday
("Ferrari crash: Regulator should step in").
Aren't higher premiums meant to cover the insurers,
partly against the higher risk of exactly such claims of negligence
expected from such drivers?

ACRA returns

I received a reminder to file my ACRA returns. I acted promptly on the reminder
but had to pay a filing fee of $20 and a penalty of $120 for filing the returns late. 
ACRA did not remind me earlier. 

I was not given a copy of my own filing, in spite of paying the filing fee. I needed
a copy of my company profile to submit to another government agency. I had to 
pay $5.50 to buy my own profile. Apart from this payment, there was the 
added inconvenience of making a payment by credit card.

I suggest that ACRA should waive the filing fee, and also make a copy of the 
company profile available at no charge to each entity that files its return.

Interest rate on installment plan

During festive seasons, you can see advertisements of consumer products that can be bought for cash or installment plan. This article shows you you can calculate the interest rate on an installment plan. The interest rate paid by consumers is much higher than they are aware of.

To avoid paying the high interest rate, consumers should learn how to manage their finances. They can attend the course on financial planning conducted by FISCA,

Access to AMD Register

21 September 2012

Forum Page
Straits Times

I am quite disappointed to see this reply from the Ministry of Health (Access to AMD register 

balanced with safeguards on patient confidentiality, ST 21 September)

A large portion of the lengthy letter was written to justify their current practice. The complaint 
from Ms Krishnan was that the hospital does not know about the existence of the AMD. She was
not asking for the actual content of the AMD to be disclosed, but to know that it had existed. 
This is a simple and sensible requirement.

MOH acknowledged in the closing paragraph that they agree with this suggestion and 
will be implementing it. Why can't the reply from MOH go straight to this essential point?  

It is quite strange that up to now, the hospital is still relying on manual access 
to the AMD register.

Tan Kin Lian

Friday, September 21, 2012

Health care system in Canada

Wing Lee, a former Singapore citizen and now a Canadian citizen, shared this perspective about the health care system in Canada.

Dear Kin Lian,

I believe you asked about the Canadian healthcare system which I have delayed in replying.  I have recovered well after 3 weeks in hospital. I am up and about doing my regular routine and catching up with my emails.

The Canadian Healthcare is compulsory for all citizens and permanent residents including Singaporeans or other nationalities working in Canada on assignments. You must be working or living in Canada for at least 3 months before entitlement of the Canadian Healthcare. For individual, the healthcare premium is about $150 per month. For family, there is a group premium. My wife and I paid $116 per month or C$58 each. Most family doctors and patients are friends. For example, my family doctor has been our friend since we immigrated 25 years ago.

In Canada, doctors and healthcare system including nurses, pharmacists, administrators, treat patients like human beings with passion and care. This is something lacking in the Singapore healthcare system.

It is a one class healthcare system regardless if you are in minister or ordinary citizen we all get the same treatment. I do not understand why the Americans are against President Obama. The British are envious of our system. The following two links will give you an idea of the Canadian healthcare.

Canadians are very happy with their healthcare system with more than 80% approval rating.


Wing Lee

End of life - no medical bills

Isabel Ling shares this story of her father passing away, with no worry about medical bills.

Forum to discuss the Internal Security Act

Two NGOs planned to organize a forum to discuss the Internal Securities Act. This has turned out to be a messy affair, with the involvement of the Archbishop of the Catholic Church and the Government. Here is an account from the perspective of one blogger, who is in the center of the controversy.

Fee guidelines are helpful to consumers

Fee guidelines are useful

29 September 2012

Editor, Forum Page
Straits Times

Mr. Joshua Seet said that medical fee guidelines may lead to higher prices for everyone 
as it will encourage practitioners to match the recommended guidelines (ST 19 Sep).

I hold a different opinion. The fee guidelines will be helpful to consumers and will also most likely 
lead to lower prices.

I have been approached on several occasions by consumers on how much they should pay in
legal fees to write a will or obtain probate for an estate. The Law 
Society does provide in its website some lawyers that provide the service, but they are not
able to give the fee guideline. The consumer need to call several lawyers just to get an 
indication of the fees.

I have also experienced difficulty in getting the fee to notarize a contract with an overseas party.
My staff had to spend more than two hours just to get the information. A fee guideline would 
have been helpful.  

I am sure that most patients, being consumers,  would welcome the existence of a fee guideline 
for medical treatment as well.

The publication of the fee guidelines will encourage competition and lower prices. Some 
new practices would tell their clients that they are charging lower fees, compared to the guidelines,
because they are newly established or have lower cost of operation. Consumers who
are cost conscious may opt for their services.

If the fee guideline had been published, some reputable practitioners may charge above the 
guidelines. Consumers who accept these fees willingly do not have cause to complain 
that they have been misled.

I urge the Competition Commission to review its stance on fee guidelines that are set
voluntarily by professional associations. They serve not only the interest of their professional
members, but the interest of consumers as well.

Tan Kin Lian
Financial Services Consumer Assocation

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Be careful of bad workshops

If you meet with an accident and the workshop promises to take care of the repair and make a claim against the third party - be careful about accepting this offer. A few people have got themselves into hot soup.

FISCA talk - Priorities @ Retirement

More than 300 people have registered for my free talk on "Priorities @ Retirement". This is targeted at older people approaching retirement. To accommodate the large number, the talks will be held in September, October and November.

Adequate CPF for retirement?

Is CPF adequate for young people to retire?
Lucky Tan ask for this matter to be studied carefully.

Safe investment that yields 5%

Investors who are risk averse want to look for safe investments that give a yield higher than inflation. Here is the tip that I give to people who attend my talks on investment and financial planning. It is what I learned over 40 years and is given free to consumers!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How Torch died

This is taken from an article "How Doctors Die" by Dr. Ken Murray. 

Summary: Torch had the choice to be treated and prolong his life by four 
months. He went untreated and lived for eight months, and had a memorable 
time with his cousin.

Several years ago, my older cousin Torch (born at home by the light of a flashlight—or
torch) had a seizure that turned out to be the result of lung cancer that had gone to his
brain. I arranged for him to see various specialists, and we learned that with aggressive
treatment of his condition, including three to five hospital visits a week for
chemotherapy, he would live perhaps four months. Ultimately, Torch decided against
any treatment and simply took pills for brain swelling. He moved in with me.

We spent the next eight months doing a bunch of things that he enjoyed, having fun
together like we hadn’t had in decades. We went to Disneyland, his first time. We’d
hang out at home. Torch was a sports nut, and he was very happy to watch sports and
eat my cooking. He even gained a bit of weight, eating his favorite foods rather than
hospital foods. He had no serious pain, and he remained high-spirited. One day, he
didn’t wake up. He spent the next three days in a coma-like sleep and then died. The
cost of his medical care for those eight months, for the one drug he was taking, was
about $20.

Torch was no doctor, but he knew he wanted a life of quality, not just quantity. Don’t
most of us? If there is a state of the art of end-of-life care, it is this: death with dignity.
As for me, my physician has my choices. They were easy to make, as they are for most
physicians. There will be no heroics, and I will go gentle into that good night. Like my
mentor Charlie. Like my cousin Torch. Like my fellow doctors

Lucky Tan's perspective of the National Conversation

Lucky Tan talks sense. Our Prime Minister's approach towards the National Conversation is already getting a lot of skepticism. Perhaps, the PM should read what Lucky Tan has said.

End of life care

Society needs to find a better way to handle end of life care.

How doctors die

Many people are worried about the high cost of health care when they fall seriously ill, at an old age. They ask me for solution.

 Why don't we ask the doctors? They also suffer from cancer and organ failure. They also die eventually.  What do they do? How do they pay for the high cost of their own health care?

Be ready for some surprise! Read this article.

Reply from ACRA

Mr Tan Kin Lian, in his letter
"Better processes make for better business sense" (Sept 13),
cited difficulty in filing his company's annual returns through the ACRA's online system.
We again extend our offer to Mr Tan to tell us
if he wants to participate in stakeholder dialogues
and give his views on how we can further improve our systems and processes.

I was invited to attend the stakeholder dialogue. I accepted on 16 April. They
told me that they will invite me. I heard nothing from them for five months. Now
they want to re-invite me, suggested that I was unwilling to participate in their dialogue.

Immigration card

Why are visitors to Singapore still required to complete an immigration card? This practice has been abandoned in many countries, including Malaysia. The visitors passports are scanned and most of the required information can already been obtained from this exercise.

I can think of two reasons for continuing this practice:

a) To collect data for tourism
b) To warn visitors about the severe penalty for drug offences.

Both of these goals can be achieved in more convenient ways, for example:

a) Give a flyer to visitors passing through immigration to warn them about the penalty.
b) The tourism statistics can be obtained through other sources, e.g. occupancy of hotel. Alternatively, a more reliable statistical profile can be obtained through a separate representative survey.

Let us get rid of the immigration card.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bad investment-linked policies

Most investment linked policies provide a poor return to consumers due to the high charges that are taken away from the savings. Consumers are not aware of this fact. They were told untruths about the projected return and were under the impression that they would get a much higher return than was actually the case. If you have bought an investment-linked policy, you should check the facts here.

Some investment-linked policies may be acceptable. Do you know the difference? Learn about how to tell the good from the bad policies.

Greater accountability needed for SAF

It is time for National Service to be reviewed as part of the National Conversation

Modify PSLE

Here is a view from one Member of Parliament

He asked, "is there an alternative?"

We should use the PSLE to determine who has passed, and who has failed. The passing rate should be 90% or higher. After a person has passed PSLE, he can go to a secondary school near the home, to be decided by ballot. There should not be any good school and bad school. The school is to educate people to be literate, numerate and people of good character. It is not a place for competing to be scholars.

After a few years, we will see a better distribution of students across all schools and the difference between good and bad schools will narrow sharply. All schools will be "good" in their own way - in sports, arts or academia.  It will depend on the talents of the students.

This is my contribution to the National Conversation.

Motor policy covers collision

A slightly edited version of this letter was published in Straits Times today.

15 September 2012

Forum Page
Straits Times

I agree with the views expressed by Abbas Vakharia "Fatal Ferrari crash: 
Insurer's stance cause for consumer concern" ST 15 Sep 2012.

AXA's insurance policy clearly states that it covers the motor vehicle that is
accidentally damaged by the operation of several named perils, including "collision".

I am puzzled by a statement from AXA reported in Today paper that it covered 
only "accidents" and not "collision".

AXA's policy does have a clause, stating that the policy does not cover "any wilful act 
and/or wilful negligence" of the insured or an authorised driver. 

A "wilful act" means that the Ferrari driver intended to collide into the taxi
and even to take his own life. While the driver was reckless, I cannot image that 
he had intended to cause the collision.

I hope that the Insurance Commissioner's office will discuss this issue with AXA and 
clarify if AXA's stand is justified, based on the circumstances. Consumers need to be
assured that insurance companies will act fairly in meeting their obligations. Special attention is required from the regulator, as motor insurance is 
compulsory by law. 

Tan Kin Lian
Financial Services Consumer Association

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Renewal of motor insurance

If you have been given stiff terms on renewing your motor insurance, take part in this survey.

Internet Trolls are harmful

The Australian Government is taking action to crack down on Internet trolls. One troll harassed a victim to the point of depression and near suicide.

These trolls are "sick" people who enjoy harassing other people needlessly.

Stiff renewal terms for motor insurance

Motor insurance is compulsory. If you do not make any claim, you enjoy a higher discount (up to 50%) on renewal of the insurance.

If you make a claim, you will lose up to 30% from your discount for each claim. For example, if you earned discount is 50% after five years and make a claim, the discount is reduced to 20%.

However, some insurance companies loads the premium in additional to reducing the discount. This is double penalty. It is an unfair practice.

If you have suffered this type of double penalty in the past, please give the particulars in this survey.

Wilful negligence

The AXA motor policy exclude liability due to "wilful act" or "wilful negligence". I searched for a definition of "wilful negligence". The nearest is "gross negligence" or "wilful misconduct". It is explained here:

Third party claim that failed

If you meet with an accident and wish to engage a workshop to make a third party claim, so as to protect your No Claim Discount, you may end up in a bad situation. Read this incident and avoid this stressful situation.

A few people had met with this bad situation and sought my help. It seemed to be quite common and many motorist had fell into a trap.

Train the mind

If you want to try some computer games that train the mind, especially for children, go to

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