Saturday, May 18, 2013

Staggering infrastructure projects

Singaporeans had the impression over the years to think that we have a corruption free government. Recent events should make us re-examine this belief.

Here are some worrisome facts.

a) NParks purchased the Brompton bikes at 5 to 10 times of the cost of suitable alternatives. They are found to be "in compliance" with the standing procedures.

b) Two senior civil servants were charged for corrupt practices in the sex-for-favors trials.

c) We are spending staggering sums for infrastructure projects, e.g. Thomson Line, Marine Coastal Highway, Gardens by the Bay, River in Bishan. We did not get much details of these projects  in the mainstream media lately.

In the past, we can be sure that the Auditor General would keep a close eye on these matters. But, in recent years, I do not seem to hear about issues raised by them. (I could be mistaken).

Do we have people who are capable of auditing these large expenditures to ensure that they are "value for money" and not just "in compiance" with standard procedures. We are talking about staggering sums of money.

Intelligence Quiz Vol 1

Get a free PDF copy of this book at

This is based on a famous puzzle purported to be created by Albert Einstein. The book contains a solution to the puzzle and 72 new puzzles of the same pattern.

Lessons from a Bank Robbery

This was written by an unknown author in Chinese and translated into English.
There was this robbery in Guangzhou, the robber shouted to everyone: "All don't move, money belongs to the state, life belongs to you". Everyone in the bank laid down quietly.  This is called "Mind Changing Concept --> Changing the conventional way of thinking". 
One lady lay on the table provocatively, the robber shouted at her "Please be civilised! This is a robbery and not a rape!"
This is called "Being Professional --> Focus only on what you are trained to do!"
When the robbers got back, the younger robber (MBA trained) told the older robber (who in only primary school educated), "Big bro, let's count how much we got", the older robber rebutted and said, "You very stupid, so much money, how to count, tonight TV will tell us how much we robbed from the bank!"
This is called "Experience --> nowadays experience is more important than paper qualifications!"
After the robbers left, the bank manager told the bank supervisor to call the police quickly.  The supervisor says "Wait, wait wait, let's put the 5 million RMB we embezzled into the amount the robbers robbed".
This is called "Swim with the tide --> converting an unfavorable situation to your advantage!"
The supervisor says "It will be good if there is a robbery every month".
This is called "Killing Boredom --> Happiness is most important."
 The next day, TV news reported that 100 million RMB was taken from the bank. The robbers counted and counted and counted, but they could only count 20 million RMB.  The robbers were very angry and complained "We risked our lives and only took 20 million RMB, the bank manager took 80 million RMB with a snap of his fingers.  It looks like it is better to be educated to be a thief!" This is called "Knowledge is worth as much as gold !"
 The bank manager was smiling and happy because his loss in the CINOPEC shares are now covered by this robbery. This is called "Seizing the opportunity --> daring to take risks!"

Spending on public works

We are spending staggering sums on our roads and MRT system. I wish to remind everyone that in some countries, excessive spending on public works is a source of corruption. (I do not wish to imply that this is the case in Singapore). 

I wish to share this joke told to me by a friend from Europe:
The head of the ministry of works of an European country attended a prestigious US business program and met his counterpart from an African country.
One day, the African was invited to visit the home of his European counterpart. It was a grand and impressive house. The African asked the European friend how he could afford such an expensive house.  The friend pointed out to the newly build highway not far away from the home and said "Do you see the new highway? It takes only a small portion of the budget to pay for this house".
The following year, the European visited the African country and was invited to the home of his African friend. It was a palace, much grander and more expensive than his home in Europe. He asked the African how he could afford it.
The African said, "Can you see the highway out there?". The European looked out and said, "But there is no highway. I only see jungle". The African pointed to his palace and said, "Well, the money is spend here", i.e. pointing to his palace.

14 May 2013

Editor, Forum Page
Straits Times

It is quite common for the public to be invited for a 
free preview on a training course to trade foreign exchange, 
commodities, futures and other financial products.

During the preview, the presenter may make some 
exaggerated claims on the effectiveness of their trading
techniques or even offer verbal promises of guaranteed 

It is easy for the public to be taken in by these exaggerated
claims and to sign up for a course costing a few thousand

Their subsequent trading experience is often a 
disappointment. Some have incurred large losses, based on 
anecdotal evidence.

Some of the public signed up after seeing other people
rushed to the signing tables. These could be agents
who were planted to create a false impression.

The authority appears to be reluctant to put a stop to 
these practices,  

I suggest the authority should make it a requirement for 
the preview talks to be video recorded, so that they can 
be accountable for false or baseless claims, which can 
amount to the crime of cheating. 

This could be a sufficient deterrent for the time being.

Tan Kin Lian
Financial Services Consumer Association

Friday, May 17, 2013

Free copy of Intelligence Quiz Vol 1

You can get a FREE PDF copy of the Intelligence Quiz Vol 1 (hard copy sold for $7,90) by applying at this website:

Tell your friends to take this offer now, as it will be withdrawn after 1,000 copies have been distributed.

Note: There is a problem with the Registration as the Telephone number is being rejected. This will be fixed today.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Earned a passive income to supplement your earned income

Someone who gives talks on investing told me ....

Singaporeans study hard to get a degree and work hard to earn a salary. They do not know how to invest their savings, so they were unable to earn a passive income, from dividends and interest, to supplement their earned income.

Many of them put their savings in a life insurance policy and gave it up after a few years, losing nearly all of their hard earned savings.

I agreed with him. They do not know their priority and are destined to be poor. They can change their destiny by spending some time to learn about financial planning and investing from the FISCA talks

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Are you financially aware (2) ?

Here is another test of your financial awareness.

Wisdom on how to live life

Dr. Tommy Wong, professor turned international author, has written five books on "Wisdom on How to Live Life". 

These books are written in a conversational style, which makes them easy to read and understand. The topics covered by the conversations are relevant to daily living in a place such as Singapore. In his books, Dr. Wong brings out the important message of paying attention to the spiritual aspect of living, rather than just focusing on the materialistic aspect. This change in focus can be comforting to those who are experiencing stress in their daily living. 

The style of writing in Dr. Wong's books is similar to the dialogue used by the Greek philosopher Plato in his ten books "The Republic". While Plato's books are considered one of the best works of all times, Dr. Wong's books are particularly useful to those who are living in a modern society such as Singapore.

Dr. Wong’s books are currently on offer. Further information about his books can be found here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Big Fat Purse website

Training courses on Financial Trading

Many people have attended a free preview or a success seminar and heard stories of how experts make money by trading foreign currency, commodities, futures and options.

Before you sign up and pay a few thousand dollars for the course, read my paper here. It will explain why you should stay away.

Avoid Dual Currency Investments

Hi, Tan:
Thank you for your article on DCI posted on the internet.  That is indeed very insightful.  

Could you kindly educate me on the in-depth of DCI?  For am interested but would like to minimized the risk.  Am a very conservative invester - will never go for margin for am a firm believer of 'living within your means and to bless others when opportunity arise'.

My advice is to avoid it altogether. Don't waste your time trying to figure out the complexities. 

If you want to learn how to invest to get a good return, and manage the risk, attend the FISCA talk on financial planning,

Sale of town council software

The issue of the sale of town council software to a PAP owned company continues to reveal baffling facts. Things are not right.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Foreign wealth and income inequality

The influx of wealthy foreigners, who do not pay any significant amount of tax, is not benefiting Singaporeans as a whole.

Ask for Benefit Illustration

Hi Mr Tan, 
Is it normal for insurance advisors to show you the benefit illustration plans etc, but not giving you the handouts for you to take home and analyse thereafter (prior to buying any plans)? I have encountered this a few times, it seems like it is their company or agency's policy to do so. 

Without the numbers and terms on hand, how am I supposed to do a detailed analysis myself. The se
ssion with the agent himself is intensive. Without the printouts for me to analyse on my own thereafter, I am afraid there will be conditions and terms I would have missed out. This is not a fair system it seems like an aggressive sales strategy. No doubt there is a cooling off period after purchase, but it forces you to sign on the dotted line without giving you easy accessibility to information. 
If I understand it correctly, the agent is required to give the benefit illustration for you to take back and analyze. If they don't, you can lodge a complaint about the unethical conduct.

Develop the skill in problem solving

You can develop the skill in problem solving by following the right approach and gain confidence in your problem solving ability. You do not have to rely on your boss or other people to think and solve problems for you.  This is an important life skill.

Give your child the opportunity to develop this skill now. Let them grow up with confidence in their own ability..

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Expensive Seminars and Wild Claims

A consumer attended a 3 day seminar and came out with this observation. He wished to warn gullible Singaporeans not to be taken for a ride.

I hope that our government will keep an eye on such activities and intervene early, I believe Singaporeans being too naive, ignorant and greedy and are not immunized to handle on the cutting-edge sales pitch. Since our government is slow to react, I like to ask people like you to warn the gullible flock.
The speakers said that Asia is the future and they have chosen to settle in Singapore, Perhaps, they have found their gold mine here, from the fees paid by the gullible people.

My Favorite Ten Commandments

This is written by an unknown author, and is being circulated in the Internet.

Are you financially aware?

Here is a test of your financial awareness. Work out your score.

Big Fat Purse

This article on financial planning, investing and insurance was written for

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