Saturday, July 02, 2016

Asia Capital Re put up for sale

Asia Capital Re was set up in 2006 with a large capital from Temasek Holdings and other shareholders. At that time, it was considered to be a bold venture and a key player in the reinsurance world.

I understand that it had a very difficult time and could have incurred large losses. The financial statement for the year ended 31 March 2015 showed an accumulated loss of US $75 million against a share capital of US$765 million. It lost 10% of its capital in 10 years. Did the shareholders receive any dividend during the past years?

It has been put up for sale for a price tag of $1 billion.

This seemed to be another bad investment for Temasek Holdings. 

Health benefits of Soursop Leaves

If you search the Internet and Youtube, you will come across many articles and videos explaining the health benefits of soursop leaves, especiall in treating cancer.

The problem faced by most consumers is - where to get the soursop leaves. There are virtually no supply in Singapore.

If you buy the soursop leaves in the market, you face these possible problems - you do not get fresh leaves or the leaves could be grown with pesticides. You have to wash off the pesticides.

David Soh has obtained a supply of soursop leaves from Malaysia and Indonesia that are fresh and are not grown with pesticides.

You can read his e-book which is available at It is free.

If you wish to give it a try, you can order the leaves here:

Bernie Sanders continues his political revolution using the Internet

Sisters and Brothers,
The corporate interests are at it again. Monsanto, agribusiness and the bio-tech industry have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to overturn legislation passed by Vermont, Connecticut, Maine and Alaska that calls for the labeling of GMO food. In fact, they are moving aggressively now because Vermont's strong law goes into effect today.
This legislation is important because people have a right to know what is in the food they and their children eat. The more information we have, the better consumers we become. This is not a radical idea. It is why over 60 countries around the world have passed GMO labeling laws.
Unfortunately, the major agribusiness and bio-tech companies disagree. They do not believe people have a right to know what's in the food they eat. That is why they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions to overturn the GMO right-to-know legislation that states have already passed and that many other states are on the verge of passing.
A bill in the Senate would overrule Vermont's law, and prevent states from passing similar laws. This bill, introduced by Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) will be coming up for a vote on Wednesday orThursday of next week. It must be defeated.
Their goal is to deny states the right to go forward in this area and to pass legislation that is useless and with no value to consumers. And, if we don't stop them, they may just succeed.
On Thursday evening, with no hearings and no debate, a corporate-backed bill was introduced on to the floor by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
This legislation would create a confusing, misleading and unenforceable national standard for labeling GMOs. Instead of a uniform labeling standard like Vermont’s law, the language allows text, symbols, or an electronic code to be used. This is intentionally confusing to consumers, and the information may be entirely inaccessible if the consumer does not have access to the internet.
Perhaps most shockingly, this bill imposes no penalties whatsoever for violating the labeling requirement, making the law essentially meaningless. Thus, this is a weak bill, full of loopholes, without any requirement to comply.
The issue of labeling our food isn’t controversial. The overwhelming majority of Americans favor GMO labeling. People have a right to know what is in the food they eat. The Senate shouldn't stop states from passing laws that let that happen.
Congress must stand up to the demands of Monsanto and other multi-national food industry corporations and reject this outrageous, weak, and confusing bill. I will continue to do my best to defeat it, and take the necessary action to protect Vermont’s GMO labeling efforts. But I need you with me in order to ensure its defeat.
Thanks for standing up to Monsanto on this issue.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

Too late to reverse the bad policies

The headline in Straits Times said: "Engineering is key to Singapore success as a smart nation: PM". Really?

Did the PM just realize it after runing the country for nearly 30 years? And is it just to be a "smart nation"?

Did the PM realized that the high remuneration and profits in the financial sector and the property sector offered much better prospects that thousands of enginnering graduates went into financial services?

Did the PM realize that the sky high property prices and rental rates are causing a lot of harm to our competitiveness? Did the PM realize that the earnings from the financial sector were mainly through speculation and ripping the consumers?

It will take more than just words to undo the harm that was caused by his bad policies over the past decades.

Bad decision to raise parking charges

It was a bad government decision to raise parking charges in HDB estates. It will cause the private operators to follow and increase the cost of transport and the cost of living. It will have a multiplier effect.

Our property prices, rental rates and transport costa are already at an unbearable level. Why cause a further increase?

The government recently relaxed the financing restrictions on car purchases. This caused an increase in COE and car prices. Now, they are levying higher parking fees to add fuel to the fire.

The local economy is weak. The global economy is in turmoil.

The recent decision to increaes parking charges shows an inexperienced and incompetent government.

Friday, July 01, 2016

High level security do not stop the professionals

Hi Mr Tan,

Some time ago, I saw in your facebook posting about how inconvenient the security token(s) or 2FA have affected many when you have to have different token for banks and other govt services etc. Worse, some of those without a mobile number are also affected to some aspects.

It makes one wonder if the different levels of security is useful to prevent those high level professional hackers. Are those professional hackers going to follow usual login process ie. username/password, then token 2FA, then login step by step, or are they looking out for security vulnerability and weak points to do damage etc? Sometimes, these 2 level security or even multi level security might be effective to the obedient/legal users who login step by step but not sure if that would prevent professional "unfriendly or illegal users" from their undesirable act.

Maybe, it's like a house with door, security gate and window security mesh etc.... but professional theft might dig through the ground or the wall like those movies etc. Not sure where is this going to end, but rightful users are going to be burdened with more security levels.

I agree with you. The high level security cause a lot of trouble to ordinary users but do not stop the professional hackers. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Easier to take feeder services

I have to take a bus from Orchard Boulevard to Camden Medical Center, which is 4 stops down the road. My mobile apps tells me that I can take many services, but there were too many to remember.

I hopped up the first bus that came along (as I expected all the buses to travel down Orchard Boulevard. Bad luck. That service took a turn into Tomlinson Road. I had to alight and walk some distance in the hot sun.

It is better for the bus network to have feeder services to serve the neighbourhood, say a town. These feeder service can be shown in a "town map".

The commuter only needs to know which feeder service to take (which can be identified by a color).

The main bus services can connect the towns and the feeder services can take commuters within the town.

This mobile app tells the commuter to get up service 162 and to alight after 20 stops.

Our transport minister expects the commuter to keep counting the stops. A better way is for each bus to show the sequential stop number.

When boarding the bus, the commuter can take note of the number, say stop 15 and add the number of stops to get the stop to alight, say stop 35.

If the commuter is not familiar with the destination, the stop 35 will tell him (or her) where to get off the bus.

Alternatively, the commuter can check a guide to know that Thomson Plaza is stop 35 (say). Even if he is not familiar with the destination, he will know when to get down.

Before reaching the destination, he knows how many more stops. If he passes the destination, he will know that he has overshot, as the stop number will be greater than 35.

Will our transport minister instruct his Land Transport Authority to get the buses to show the sequential stop number? It will be very useful for commuter.

Buying the right size of air conditioner

According to this website, a room 25 ft X 20 ft requires a 12,000 BTU air con to cool the room by 12 Celcius, i.e. from 30 Celcius to 18 Celcius.

The website also gave this example: One 2,000-square-foot-home with normal insulation conditions in Washington, D.C., needs a 48,000 BTU air conditioner for adequate cooling in summer. It suggest that a 5,000 sq ft room needs 12,000 BTU, ie. 1/4 of the house.

However, one air con contractor recommended a 18,000 BTU unit and another recommended 1 24,000 BTU unit.

The 24,000 BTU unit can cool the room by 24 Celcius from 30 Celcius to 6 Celcius. It sounds like close to freezing.

Did I get the correct calculation?

After Note:
I found these two websites that shows 12,000 BTU to be adequate. They advised against buying an oversized one.

Pushing commuters to take premium taxi

At the airport terminal taxi queue, the usher asked the commuter in front of me. "Do you want the white taxi". "No". He pointed her to another taxi. He asked me. "Do you want the white taxi". "No". The white taxi is a Mercedes Limo and looks very expensive.

He asked me to go to the taxi at No. 7. It was a black taxi, Prestige brand with a starting fare of $5. That looked like a premium taxi.

I walked away to take another taxi, which is a standard taxi.

This dishonest practice of pushing commuters to the premium taxi is now getting to be quite blatant. It shows the "free market" taxi fare system to be very bad.

Pushing commuters to take premium taxi

At the airport terminal taxi queue, the usher asked the commuter in front of me. "Do you want the white taxi". "No". He pointed her to another taxi. He asked me. "Do you want the white taxi". "No". The white taxi is a Mercedes Limo and looks very expensive.

He asked me to go to the taxi at No. 7. It was a black taxi, Prestige brand with a starting fare of $5. That looked like a premium taxi.

I walked away to take another taxi, which is a standard taxi.

This dishonest practice of pushing commuters to the premium taxi is now getting to be quite blatant. It shows the "free market" taxi fare system to be very bad.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rising cost in Singapore

We face a serious problem about rising cost in Singapore. Here is another example.…/higher-opera…/2901662.html…

The high cost is due to:
a) High cost of property and rental
b) Inefficiency

We are now paying high prices for labor and all kinds of services.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Removal of jump in bonus

When the policy was bought many years ago, the projection showed a low rate of bonus for many years. On the 20th, 25th and 30th anniversary, the bonus had a "big jump". This was supposed to be a terminal bonus that occurs only on these years.

Many years later, the policyholder found that the "big jump" had disappeared. The surrender value was much less than initially projected.

He requested for a Post Sale Benefit Illustration. It showed that the "big jump" on these special years had disappeared.

The policyholder asked for my views.

I had raised this issue with MAS many years ago. I said that it is bad for a policy to be designed in this way. The insurance company pays a low surrender value for most years, if the policyholder has to surrender the policy.

The MAS official said that that this was the design of the policy. The policyholder had the choice of waiting for the special anniversary to enjoy the higher value.

I do not like the MAS position, but I had to accept it. If the policy is designed in this manner, it is wrong for the insurance company to withdraw the special anniversary bonus arbitrarily.

If the insurance company has to reduce the bonus due to poor investment return, they have to implement the cut fairly across the board. All policyholders have to bear their fair share of the cut. It is wrong for the insurance company to take away the special anniversary bonus, as those affected had to suffer a larger cut compared to the other policyholders.

MAS requires the board of directors to ensure that the policyholders are treated fairly when they have to review the bonus rates. It will be difficult for the board to prove that they have been fair to the affected policyholders when they take away the special anniversary bonus.

Capacity of air conditioner

If you have to cool a room of 25 ft X 20 ft X 10 ft high, what BTU of air conditioner do you need? You can get the answer here. You have to exercise some judgement to get the right answer.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Takes time for the business to build up

A new stall opened in Midview City Food Court recently. It served western food. There was no queue for the stall. Most of the other stalls had long queue.

I decided to patronize the stall to avoid the queue and also to help them to get some business. I ordered chicket cutlet. It was delicious.

The price was $6.50. It is cheaper than similar food served in restaurants, but more expensive than other food served in the food court - where the average was $4. That was perhaps the reason why they do not have many customers.

I asked the attendant how was business. She said okay.

I had since patronized the stall a few times and also given a treat to my staff at that stall.

Recently, I asked the cook how the food was prepared. He said that the cutlet was already marinated by the supplier, so he had just to roast it. The sauce was also provided by the supplier.

TKL - how is business?
Chef - not good. it is a struggle.

I hope that they can last a few months longer for the business to build up.

Invest for the future

The UK is leaving the European Union. The global stock markets are in turmoil. Bonuses on life insurance policies will be cut further.

How should ordinary people invest their savings for the future? Learn about the investing opportunities by attending this talk.

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