Saturday, December 10, 2016

How Singapore stands in comparison of other countries on human rights.

I pre-recorded this video to prepare for my speech in Hong Lim Park on Human Rights Day. It contains that points that I would be covering in my speech. I talk about our ranking on human rights and how it has changed over the past 30 years. It also shows how well our human rights score compares with the country that has the highest score according to the CIRI project that covers 200 countries.


Dear Mr. Tan
With regards to Eldershield provided by one of the 3 Insurance companies, does it make sense to sign up for it? The reason I ask is the payout also seems little..

You can find the answer here:

Human rights scores of countries - CIRI report

How does Singapore rank among the nations on human rights? Are we better or worse than America or United Kingdom? How about Malaysia or Indonesia or Russia?

You can find the answer from the CIRI report. It is a project to study of the human rights score of 200 nations.

I have taken the results from the database produced by the CIRI report and presented them in this website. You can search for the answer easily and quickly.

CIRI is the initials of Professor Cingranelli (CI) and Professor Richards (RI) both of whom are from American universities.

The CIRI score can be viewed at

It also shows a graph of the CIRI scores for the selected country over the past 25 years.

What are the ordinary people's views on current issues?

Here are some current issues for you to vote. The voting has increased in recent weeks. We still need more votes to get credible results. Come forward and play your part as a citizen.

You can also view the results of the issues that have been voted and closed recently. Here is the link.

Human Rights Day, Hong Lim Park, 12 Dec 4 to 7 pm

Human Rights Event will be held today at Hong Lim Park, 4 to 7 pm. I hope to see many of you attend. It should be a good opportunity to meet friends and be engaged with the community.

I will be speaking at about 6 pm. Timing is not confirmed. Depends on how long the earlier speakers take.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Importance of personal accident insurance

Personal accident insurance is essential for all young people. It is more important than life insurance or critical illness insurance. During most of my working life, I was insured for $1 million against death or bodily injury caused by accidents. I still hold the insurance today.

If you have term insurance, it is better than personal accident insurance. But if you do not have term insurance, you need personal accident insurance more than ever.

Read more about it here:

Give your vote on two new issues

I have added two more issues for your voting

1) Do you agree with Singapore's stand to ask Hong Kong for a formal reason for detaining the SAF vehicles?
2) Why was Dr Ng Eng Hen not elected into the CEC of the PAP?

Give your vote in

AIA Platinum Legacy Policy

In my earlier article, I missed the point that the AIA Platinum Legacy policy is actually a whole life policy that pays an attractive sum assured on death. 
I have now revised my article to reflect this point. It is still not attractive but is not as bad as I had indicated earlier.…

Talk on financial planning, 14 January

46 people have already registered for this 3 hour talk on financial planning on Saturday 14 January. The usual fee for this talk is $30 but it is being offered free on this occasion. There are still a few remaining places. You have to register now, before the talk is fully booked.

UN Human Rights Day

December 10 is UN Human Rights Day. Does Singapore have a good record on human rights? Cast your vote here:

Issues affecting the people of Singapore

This link leads you to a website that allows you to vote on issues affecting the lives of the people of Singapore.

The tab on "Results" shows the voting on issues that have closed recently.

12 years after the Asian tsunami

I am saddened to learn about the loss of lives and property damage caused by the earthquake in Banda Aceh, nearly 12 years after the devastating tsunami caused by an earlier earthquake.…/singapore-sh…/3349072.html…

I had visited Banda Aceh a few years after the tsunami and learned about what had happened, as seen by the locals.

I hope that the people of Aceh will recover from this catastrophe quickly.

Singapore scores well on global benchmarking tests on our education system

Singapore does very well in global benchmarking tests on our education system.

However, I suspect that the tests are focusing on the wrong measurements. I prefer our education system to be less stressful and more board based - rather than to score top marks on benchmarking tests.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

AIA Platinum Legacy Policy

Mr Tan,
Can I solicit your advice on this product?
My Citi RM is trying to get me interested in this product.
My experience from 2007-2008, has made me wary of RM's foisting financial products on uninformed and naive clients.
Thank You & Regards,

My reply is given here

How well did Singapore fare on human rights?

In the CIRI report on Human Rights, the countries are scored on four key attributes:

1) Physical Integrity – Torture, Extrajudicial Killing, Political Imprisonment, and Disappearance
2) Empowerment - Foreign Movement, Domestic Movement, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly and association, Workers’ Rights, Electoral Self-Determination, and Freedom of Religion.
3) Women – economic and political rights
4) Judiciary – independence of the judiciary.

In which areas did Singapore do relatively well, compared to other countries and in which areas did we do worse? You will be surprised at the results. It is not what most people think!

I will share my findings in the talk at Hong Lim Part on Saturday Dec 10, 4 to 7 pm See you there!

The cost and benefit of cyber security

I have been asked to give my views about what has to be provided in the legislation on Cyber Security.

My reply focus on the following points:

1. How serious is this threat?
2. Is the threat being exaggerated?
3. Can we identify the risks before spending a lot of money to counter the risk?

The possible threats are:

1. Cyber attacks that lead to internet infrastructure being brought down
2. Theft of money from bank accounts
3. Stealing of personal information

We need to understand if these threats are so serious that they merit action by the entire community.

Recently, the fibre broadband network of Sing Tel was brought down. Was it caused by a cyber attack or was it just carelessness by the operator? The service was restored within 24 hours. It was troublesome but we can live with it, if it occurs quite rarely.

If we get network being brought down regularly by cyber attack, we face a real threat. If not, we should wait and see if this threat is real before taking expensive preventive action.

There were a few cases of money being withdrawn from ATM machines due to criminals. Criminals will also break into houses to steal money and property. How serious is the hacking of ATM machines? The banks are already taking appropriate action. Is there a need to raise the level of security?

A more useful response is the audit function. If there is stealing of data and money, it should be detected soon after the event. It may be difficult to prevent criminals from all of their activities. It may be more useful to focus on detection and prosecution.

I am also not worried if my personal data, stored in several hundred databases, are stolen. It usually has my name, email address and maybe the password. If the criminal wishes to try using my password to access my other accounts in other websites, they are welcome to do so. Even if they place a fictitious online order for me, so what? They still have to make payment.

I am more careful about the password for my bank account and paypal account.

The real risk is with the stolen credit card details to make unauthorised payments. This is an area where the banks can strengthen their infrastructure, They should allow the customer to set a pin for their credit card and require the pin to be used for online and offline payment. The use of the printed CVV number is inadequate. It should be replaced by a PIN that is not shown.

I suspect that a lot of the hype on cyber security is created by the security firms. They use this opportunity to promote their services to prevent the threats. Often, the cost of the prevention is higher than the loss from the criminal activities. It is better to spend a smaller sum of money on detection and prosecution.

Young people should insure against the risk of accident

Many people are worried about contracting a critical illness. They are paying a high premium for this cover.

For young people, the biggest risk is accidents, especially traffic accidents. They should buy a personal accident insurance, at a low premium rate, to cover this risk.

You can buy $200,000 in personal accident insurance for a premium of $100 a year.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Speed up the hearing of a case in court

From time to time, I hear of court cases that takes a long time for a judgment. The judge has to listen to the evidence and argument put forward by the lawyers on both sides. But some lawyers abuse the court hearing by producing irrelevant materials that take time to be presented and heard in court.

Some lawyers love long hearings. They can bill their client at a high rate for each hour spent in court. The longer the case is dragged on, the larger is the legal fee.

Some judges are able to rebuke the lawyer for wasting the court's time. But other judges may be unsure of the issue and may allow the lawyer some leeway.

A long hearing can add a burden to the judge in having to consider the material that have been put forward. It also adds to the legal fees payable by the parties.

This abuse of the court process can be addressed by the court setting a limit on the time for a case to be heard in court. The materials could be presented in advance and the question time can be limited. A time limit can also be set on the time that can be spent to question the witnesses.

There can also be a limit set on the fees that can be charged by lawyers for each type of case, say $20,000 to hear a civil case. If such a cap applies, the lawyers will be super productive in presenting their case within a time limit.

A better way to build customer relationship

Bad habits die hard. I still receive calendars sent to my home from my bank, stock broker and other business associates.

Do they realize that we are not in the Internet and online world? Who still use a calendar nowadays? It is such a waste of paper and postage. It goes into the waste basket.

Do the marketing people use their common sense? Do they bother to find out if the calendar is still being used today? Is it due to laziness and an unwillingness to think and to find out?

If businesses want to build relationship with their customers, they could spend the money to provide better customer service, to reduce the waiting time, to have people to pick up the call instead of asking customers to waste time with an automated machine!

If they want their customers to remember them, they could give a voucher for a meal at a restaurant, rather than send a calendar. 

Do you agree?

Human Rights Day - event at Hong Lim Park, 10 December 4 to 7 pm

I am speaking at Hong Lim Park on Saturday 10 December, 4 to 7 pm on the issue "Human Rights". The day is UN Human Rights Day. Do attend this event to show your solidarity and support for human rights.

Beware or you will regret it

Many people bought a special ILP policy to enjoy a large upfront bonus. They were so engrossed with the bonus that they forgot to examine the other aspects of the policy. Most of them regret their hasty decision. Read about the problem with this upfront bonus here.

Cast your vote on these issues

Should public transport fares be increased in Singapore by a modest amount? There are reasons for and against this increase.
Is Vivian Balakrishnan performing well as Foreign Minister? He seemed to be rather quiet during the spat with China.
Will the Singapore economy take a long time to recover from the current slowdown? or will the recover by quick?
Is it useful for President Tony Tan to make a trip to Japan at this time?

Read the reasons for and against each issue and cast your vote. Make your voice be heard.

Monday, December 05, 2016

You learn better through "practice"

I have created 12 short videos on financial planning, insurance and investment. Most of the videos are from 5 to 10 minutes.

I observe, from the login record, that many visitors watch a small number of videos.

I encourage them to watch all the videos to get a good understanding of the subject. As the videos are short, you can spend 1 hour each day to watch a few videos. You should be able to watch all the videos within a week.

Another tip: Come back and watch the videos a few times. You can understand better through "practice".

The way forward for China and Singapore

I am disappointed with the action taken by China to detain the SAF military vehicles in Hong Kong.

They have the legal right to take this action, and they have quoted the following reasons:

a) The military vehicles were not declared in the manifest
b) Singapore should not have military cooperation with Taiwan in violation of the One China policy.

The underlying reason, which is unspoken, is that China is unhappy with the stand taken by Singapore on the South China Sea issue and in siding with America on military matters, including the intent to "contain" China.

However, China should also consider other countervailing factors:

a) Singapore provided a lot of moral, practical and diplomatic support to China during the 1980s and 1990s.
b) Singapore made major strategic investments in China to help develop its economy at a time when the world was uncertain about its prospects.
c) Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and Dr. Goh Keng Swee provided valuable guidance to China in adopting the market economy, including the setting up of the free trade zones.

Without Singapore's contribution during the crucial initial years, China would not have seen the tremendous progress that it had.

I know a little bit of this history. I visited China for the first time in 1985. I saw the abject poverty of China and its people at that time. I understand why Mr Lee KY, Dr Goh KS and Ong Teng Cheong stepped forward to help China.

China may not agree with the stand and approach taken by Mr. Lee HL on many issues. But it is not a matter between President Xi and PM Lee. It is a matter between China and Singapore and the people of both countries.

I disagree with the stand taken by China to exercise its "right" to detain the SAF military vehicles. The paper work may be sloppy, but mistakes are made and, between friends or between mature adults, this matter could have been sorted out more amicably.

China may complain about the military cooperation between Singapore and Taiwan. Surely, China knows that Singapore needs the land to train our soldiers? It is not a cooperation to help the other country on military matters.

The use of the training facilities in Taiwan has been ongoing for a few decades. China knew about it. If China wishes to ask Singapore to review this arrangement, a better way is for China to talk to Singapore about it, and find a better arrangement. Maybe China can offer a small part of its vast land mass for Singapore to train our soldiers?

While I disgree with the approach taken by PM Lee on many issues, I wish to say that in this instance, the action taken by China is unacceptable and amounts to "bullying". I hope that China knows about how some people in Singapore feel about this matter, and it is from people who harbor goodwill towards China and wish China well.

Improve the design of online survey forms

I have been invited to participate in online surveys. I tried to oblige but have often been disappointed at the poor quality of the survey questions.

Here are some of the bad features that I have frequented encounterd.

a) I am presented one page at a time. I have to complete the page before going to the next page. I do not have any idea about the questions that are being asked in the subsequent pages. I do not even know how many questions are being asked. The survey is often described as a "short survey" but this is a dishonest description.

b) The questions are bad phrased. I am asked to answer questions that I do not understand and are not relevant to me. My answers will distort the survey results. But I am not allowed to opt out.

Here are my suggestions on how to improve the design of the survey;

a) Allow the user to view all the questions before starting to give the answer. If they know the context of the questions, they can give a more accurate and reliable answer.

b) Have fewer questions in the survey. Based on the answers given by the participant, you can pick out the participants who are more interested in the topic. You can send a follow up survey to get answers to more questions or to get more indepth answers.

c) Focus on getting reliable and accurate answers, rather than to get a large number of participants who give unreliable or inaccurate answers.

A better way to insure and invest

Dear Mr. Tan

Hi Mr. Tan, I am exploring SAF group insurance where I have checked that the premiums ($410/yr for $1m) are about 55% cheaper than in the market ($900/yr for $1m). I am at age 27 and is looking at the death/tpd insurance until age 65.…/for-…/mindef/group-term-life.html

*In the above website, it states that the premium is same until age 65* I believe this is the most value for money plan where I can invest the savings into index fund. Please advise your recommendation. Thank you.

I agree with you. This is a good plan to provide insurance protection. The savings can be invested in an index fund (STI ETF) to get a much better return that the payout from a life insurance policy.

Inconsiderate survey from Ministry of Manpower

Dear Sir or Madam,

Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is conducting a quarterly Industry Pulse Poll to help us achieve a better understanding of your industry in terms of business and hiring expectations.

Your company has been selected to participate in this Industry Pulse Poll. This is a chance to make your voice heard: The poll enables businesses to provide feedback on ground sentiment, contributing to better informed policy-making.

This poll will close on 16 December 2016. After you complete the poll, we will send you a customised report on your industry’s business and hiring expectations as a token of our appreciation. The poll should take no more than 5 minutes to complete.

Provide your feedback Here or copy and paste the survey URL in the browser

All information collected will be analysed only at the aggregated level and individual responses will be kept strictly confidential.

Please email us at if you have any queries.

Thank you for your participation.

Dear MOM
I refuse to participate in any survey where I am presented one page at a time.
I prefer to see the entire survey and think through my answer.
If you expect to get useful answers, be considerate to the people you are asking to complete the survey.

CPF payment to retirees

Dear Mr. Tan
I follow your writings on facebook and agree with most of your views and observations. I like to hear your view on payouts made by CPF board for retirees. I find it queer that the board only transfer money to the bank accounts of its members on the 4th "working" day of each month. This means that CPF members will get their money on a variable date. It could be paid as late as the 8th of the month, if 1st is on Saturday, 2nd on Sunday and 3rd and 4th are holidays. Anyway, payments will be not be fixed! It may be on the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th day of the month. Payments made by citizens to the government for rates and taxes are always fixed on a particular day, say property tax must be paid on the 5th of the month and not the 5th "working" day. We also get our wages on a fixed day of the month. Thanks.

I agree with you. CPF Board should pay on a fixed day in the month, rather than use the 4th "working day".

Sing Tel compensates its customers for disruption of service

Well done to Sing Tel for offering a discount on the subscription for their broad band users.

It is not enough to cover the users for the inconvenience and cost that they had to incur, but it is nevertheless a good gesture.

I am sure that Sing Tel did not intend to have this disruption of service, so they should not be heavily penalized for a matter that is beyond their control.

However, if the Infocomm and Media Development Authority finds that they were careless and irresponsible, then they should instruct Sing Tel to increase the compensation to customers. The regulator should not be benefiting financially from the fine.

Survey request from inconsiderate organizations

I received a request to complete a "short survey" from two organizations today - from an association (which my company is a member) and from the hotel in Putrajaya.

Both survey forms force me to complete one page at a time before I could see the questions on the next page.

I replied to both organizations:

"I wish to see the entire survey from before starting to give my answers. I do not wish to be forced to complete one page of the form at a time without seeing the remaining questions".

This will be my standard reply to all requests to complete surveys from inconsiderate organizations.

Voting in Wisdom of the Crowd

The majority of people who voted in this website does not like Halimah Yacob to be fielded as a candidate for Elected President. What are their reasons? Find out here:

Do the crowd expect the next presidential election to be a walkover? Find out what they think here:

This bonus can cause you a lot of money.

Several people have bought an investment linked policy that pays an attractive upfront bonus in the form of bonus units. The bonus is attractive - and they forget to do their due diligence to see the negative aspect of it. They have lost a few ten thousand dollars in savings.
Be careful. Do not fall for this trap. Read this article.…

Talk on Financial Planning - fee is waived

FISCA will be waiving the fee for this talk on Financial Planning on 14 January. The usual fee is $30 for the public. As the places are limited, and the takeup is expected to be high, you are advised to register your place immediately.

Adjust to a new economic order

Many countries have to turn inward because the economic results of globalization have been quite lopsided - 1% benefit a lot, 9% are okay, but 90% suffer.

Singapore has to find a new way to survive in a less globalized world.  Article

We have to start by reducing our cost of living, our cost of doing business, and reducing wastefulness. We have to stop the old days of spending as if money grows on trees.

Our politicians cannot expect to command outrageous salaries.

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