Saturday, April 01, 2017

Encourage Signaporeans to take risk

How can we encourage Singaporeans to take risk, work as a team and think big?

Here are the results of the voting by the Crowd.

The two most important factors are:

a) Change the top level of government
b) Eduation reform

Right of way

If you find that you have to walk a long way to the bus stop or to the main road, due to lack of convenient short cuts, it is due to poor planning by the government.

Read this article.

Income tax return for year of assessment 2017

I just submitted my income tax return. It was supposed to be easy, but I was confused for a while.

They pre-filled my income tax return with figures for last year. I did not know that this was what they had done. I wondered - where did the figures came from? I do not recall submitting the figures before.

Anyway, I entered the actual figures for this year. The rental income on my property had dropped, so the actual figures were smaller than last year.

This year, they explained clearly that I could take 15% of the rental income as expenses, instead of declaring the actual expenses. Last year, they did not tell me about it. So, it was an improvement this year.

I look for the part where I had to declare my wife's income. I could not find it. Perhaps they have discontinued the joint declaration. This was rather bad. There aer many families, like me, where the spouse is not working and does not have any income. They should have allowed the taxpayer to make this declaration. If they have discontinued the practice, they should have mentioned it specifically.

I now have to make a separate declaration for my wife. She said, "I am not working and have no income. Why should I submit an incoem tax return?".

My answer - IRAS said so. The government said so. What can we do?

Financial advisers could get into serious trouble

Many financial advisers could get into very serious trouble if a consumer were to take up a case against them under an existing law, called the Financial Advisers Act. A copy of this Act can be viewed at this link.

You should pay special attention to clause 7.2 to 7.3 as follows:

Reasonable Basis
7.2 A financial adviser should ensure that its recommendations are suitable for the client, taking into account the information it has obtained from the client. It should ensure that its recommendations are based on thorough analysis and take into account alternative investment options.

7.3 A financial adviser should explain to the client the basis for its recommendation and why the investment product it is recommending is suitable for the client.

Read more at…

Ban on laptops in cabins

I saw this news report:

Terrorists are testing concealed explosives with stolen airport security equipment, intel sources say, raising questions about whether the laptop travel ban is broad enough.

ISIS and other terrorist organizations have developed innovative ways to plant explosives in electronic devices, according to the FBI. The intelligence led to recent airline restrictions banning many electronics from the cabins of planes flying directly to the United States from airports in eight countries.

Question - if this is a risk, surely it applies to laptops that are checked into the plane as well? Surely the risk with checked in luggage is higher?

I do not understand why there is a need to ban laptops being carried into the cabin. Surely there is already stringent checks on these laptops being taken into the cabin?

Minimum wage in Singapore

The Singapore government does not wish to implement a minimum wage. The Philippine government adopt a different approach. They have a minimum wage in their own country and also implement it for Filipinos working abroad. They have implemented it in Singapore in a creative way.…/minimum-pay-…/3642042.html…

A minimum wage has some benefits and some challenges. On the whole, the benefits outweigh the challenges. That is why many countries have a minimum wage. Singapore should also introduce it.

Wisdom of the Crowd

I invite you to vote for the issues in this website:

You can click on the Facebook or Google logo to login and submit your vote:

When you vote on 5 issues, you will receive a prize - the PDF copy of the book "Planning for your retirement".

You can also view the results of the voting on the closed issues at

Thank you for your participation and support.

How to give a differing view

I adopt the following approach when I see a post on social media by another person:

1. If I disagree with that person's view and it is a personal opinion, I ignore that post. He (or she) is entitled to her view. I would consider it rude to impose my differing view on him.

2. If I disagree with that view strongly, I will state my view and give my reason. However, I would avoid passing any judgment that his view is "wrong" or mock his view.

I would like anyone, coming to my Facebook Page or Blog to observe the same conduct. If they have a different view and wish to state it in my Page or Blog, they have to be polite in doing so. If they act in a rude manner, I delete their comment. For extreme bad behavior, I ban them from visiting my Page again.

I strongly detest a group of people who act in concert to mock other people. When I see this group action, I ban all of them.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Comedy of the Elected President

In their infinite wisdom, the Singapore government has created a wonderful new play, in fact a comedy, which is likely to achieve international stature. It is called the Comedy of the Elected President.…

Expansion of Woodlands Checkpoint

Woodlands Checkpoint will be expanded to cope with the increased volume of travellers.

I looked for the budget. It was not stated. I expect that it would cost several hundred million dollars, or even exceed the $1 billion budget.

We have a habit of spending large sums of money. It is in our DNA.

Has someone thought cooperating with Malaysia to have a joint immigration clearance? This will allow the travellers to double in volume with existing facilities.

Maybe we can also learn from the European Union on how to reduce the border checks. Or learn from America where there is no border checks when travelling from one state to another.

Who is the first Elected President of Singapore?

Who should be considered as the first Elected President of Singapore - Wee Kim Wee or Ong Teng Cheong. What is the most important reason?
You have five interesting choices to vote for in

Side gate at Midview City

This is a side gate at Midview City. It cuts down the walking distance to the bus stop at Upper Thomson Road by 300 meters for people working in the first block of Midview City. It took 7 years for the MCST management to decide to open this gate.

Midview City is a large industrial estate comprising of 6 mega blocks. They have a fence to enclose the entire area and have two entrances for cars. The people have to walk to these entrances/ exits to leave Midview City.

Why is it necessary to enclose this industrial estate? It is not a military complex. The enclosure forces the workers to walk additional distances every day.

I raised this issue with the MCST manager many years ago. He did not reply to me. Now, after a long time, the side gate is open.

Review of Insurance Law in New Zealand

This article explains how New Zealand carries out its review of the insurance law. Some of the key points that struck me are:

a) The law was last changed six years ago. The stakeholders said that this is a long enough period for the law to be reviewed.

b) The regulator asked stakeholders to identify the issues that needed to be addressed.

c) They are looking at activites that are now working well.

I find their approach to be very good. Singapore can learn from them.

A strange coincidence

Someone sent me an email yesterday expressing concerns about the marketing of an investment product by a company called 8I holdings. I replied that his statements could be considered defamatory.

Later, I saw a news report that the Police has arrested 81 people for scamming.…/81-arrested-…/3639030.html…

What a coincidence. I thought that the same company was involved.

I went to check the email and found that it referred to a company called "8I holding" withe the letter I and not the number 81.

This is the problem with the letter I. It could be easily mistook for the number 1.

Voting on Life Insurance Companies

Slightly more than 50 votes are received for the life insurance company that you LIKE the most. The results are shown here.

The voting for the life insurance company that the voters DISLIKE the most are shown here: 

Wasteful activities caused by IRAS

I share this example of the unproductive work and hassle that IRAS has given to a taxpayer (and I suspect that this affects many other taxpayers). I also share some suggestions on what IRAS can do to change their process and reduce wasteful activities for the taxpayers and their own staffs.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Low birth rate in Singapore

I listed five factors causing the low birth rate in Singapore. Which factor is most important? Give your vote in

Poor service from a help desk

Someone sent to me this example of poor service from a Helpdesk.

Difference between a positive and a negative approach

Do you know the difference between a positive and a negative approach? You can choose to be positive and make a positive influence on those around you.

Improve the public service

The majority of the Crowd are sceptical about the ability of the civil service to improve its service to the public. They think that the exhortation from President Tony Tan will not produce any tangible result.

Suggestion to reduce payment by cheques

Without spending tens of million dollars in new infrastructure, Singapore can sharply reduce the use of cheques by adopting a simple apporach. But it requires leadership to be taken by the MAS. This is how it can be done.…

Open letter to the Minister for Home Affairs

Kenneth Jeyaretnam sent this open letter to the Minister for Home Affairs.

Firends Provident Global Wealth Advance savings plan

Dear Mr. Tan

I'm a 32 years old expat professional working in Singapore. My husband and I recently had our first son and with that comes a stronger urge of saving.

We have been recommended to invest in a Friends Provident, Global Wealth Advance saving plan. But after 7 months a banker friend did show us what does the % fee really mean, this is when we understood how inconvenient was the policy for us, and how misleading is the way the sell it.

I want to put the case on MAS. The Financial Adviser who sold the policy did not advise us in our best interest because they are way better products for money savings

I need your help to find a group of people who might be similarly misled. I wish to invite them to join forces with us to present a strong case at MAS.

If anyone faces the same problem as this writer or bought a similar policy, you can share your experience here or send an email to

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Businesses should be encouraged to receive payments by bank transfers

The infrastructure is already in place for businesses to receive payments from their customers through bank transfer. This will improve efficiently tremendously.

Here is how it can be done.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Cheques are not used in Spain

At an insurance conference in Manila, I met someone who came from Spain and had worked in the Philippines for eight years. He told me that when he was in Spain, he did not use any cheque. All payments are made digitally by transfer from his bank account. Money paid to him are credited directly into his bank account.

He was surprised, when he came to the Philippines, to see so many payments made by cheques. He said that it is so costly and time consuming to be using cheques.

I told him that there is also a high use of cheques in Singapore for payments to and between companies. It is so backward and inefficient.

Are we really a smart city? I wonder why we are spending so many hundreds of millions in technology when the simple actions like payments are still done with manual cheques.

Prices of HDB resale flats

What will happen to the prices of HDB resale flats after the recent announcement by the National Development Minister that the value of these flats will become $0 on expiry of the 99 year lease?

Give your views in

The results will be announced after 100 votes have been received.

Strange encounters at Newton MRT station

I had two strange encounters when I changed from the Downtown Line to the NS Line at Newton Station. On the first occasion, which probably occurred two months ago, I was charged as a new ride when I tapped into the NS Line within 1 minute.

My friend told me that that was the system and it applied only to Newton station. I was puzzled because Singapore adopted an integrated fare structure and Newton station appeared to be the only exception.

Last week, I took the same journey and found, to my surprise, that I was not charged for both legs. I got "Free Exit" on the first leg and $0 on the second leg. I had to pay $0.54 for the third leg by bus.

Several people have shared that tapping out of one line and into the other line at Newton station is now considered as being the same journey if the delay is less than 15 minutes. This is what it should be, under the integrated fare system.

Perhaps my two strange encounters were caused by the teething problems before they moved to the latest system?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Locking up the locker

The fitness center in the Manila hotel provides lockers which require the user to set a 4 digit code. As I was a first time user, a staff had to explain to me how this system works.

Apart from remembering the 4 digit code that I had used, I had to pay attention to the locker number.

The Grassroots club in Singapore used an old fashion key for each locker. They also had a tag to show the locker number. I find this system to be more practical.

The Manila hotel probably cater to their members who use the locker to keep their exercise wear on a long term basis. The 4 digit code suit them well, as they don't have to carry the extra key.

Here is a test of common sense. Which system should the fitness center provide, since they have to cater to long term members and to once-off hotel guests?

Blog Archive