Friday, November 01, 2013

How to eradicate poverty in Singapore

Singapore is an affluent country. Based on GDP per capita, she is one of the richest countries in the world.

Hence logically, one would expect all her citizens to live comfortably, well above the poverty line (wherever that might be since it has never been officially defined). Yet ironically, there is a small group of Singaporeans who are living in “poverty”. With the country’s vast wealth, both in terms of revenue and savings, it should not be a financial issue to bring this group out of poverty. Further, the government has implemented the “minimum sum” and “CPF Life” schemes which are designed to ensure her citizens would have sufficient savings to spend on necessities during retirement. So it is not as though the government is not aware of the amount required for sustainable living at the minimum level for life. So, if it is not a financial problem to bring people out of poverty, then what could be the problem?

Ideology. In Singapore, welfarism is seen as a “dirty” word. Instead of encouraging the rich to help the poor, she encourages everyone to make their own living. This ideology is fine when everyone is able and there are sufficient jobs. But when some are less able and the job market is challenging, it can lead to a state of “us and them” and "everyone for himself (or herself)". With such an ideology, Singapore indeed has one of largest income gap in the world. In the present economic structure, the rich also tend to get richer while the poor get poorer. So, is there an ideology that is more friendly to the poor so that they can live a dignified life?
We are all one.  The power of this ideology leads us to feel for others - "we are not separate" and “your pain is my pain”.  To implement this ideology in the practical world, we may have an inverse relationship between the salary of senior political and administrative leaders and the number of people living in poverty. With such an arrangement, it is then to the interest of the leaders to ensure that poverty is erased. Yes, with the “right”  ideology and practical approach, poverty can literally disappear from the islands of Singapore overnight!

Dr. Tommy Wong
Author of book series "Wisdom on How to Live Life"

The book series can be ordered here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Negative impact of National Service on our male citizens

For 25 years, I have held the view that National Service has a heavy burden on the future of your young men. More people are now sharing the same view. Read this article and the comments:

Excessive concern about privacy and security

Our banks and security firms adopts a ridiculous approach towards internet security. I suspect that the measures are directed by MAS.

I applied to receive e-statements of contract notes. They are sent to me with password protection. I do not know the password that were used. I could not open the statements for many months.

This morning, I went to SGX website, login to my CDP account, and searched all over the place to set my own password. I could not find it.

Maybe, the passwords are set by my securities firm. Anyway, it is confusing and troublesome. I never asked for this security. I do not consider it as important anyway.

The statements are received by e-mail, which require me to access with a password anyway.

I also have trouble with the quarterly change of passwords that is mandated in my login trading account, and the funny combinations of password.

I hope that MAS will stop directing the banks and security firms to implement impractical security arrangements. If they have to, they should adopt sensible (and not ridiculous) arrangements.

Evaluation of Insurance Products

I have created this website to evaluate the life insurance products that are marketed in Singapore. 
I will be putting up the benefit illustration for these products and give my evaluation of the product.
They will be rated as "Recommended", "Neutral" or "Avoid".

I will be building up the products over the next few weeks. 

If you have a specific product, you can search for it under the "Latest" tag (which also serves as a Search tag).
If you wish to find a better way to invest your savings, you can contact one of the financial advisers listed in the website. Be ready to pay a modest consulting fee, so that they can make a living by advising you on the most suitable products.

The website is called "Evaluation of Insurance Products" and can be accessed at

Wasteful practice in renewal tenancy of stalls in food court

Six months ago, the operator of the food court in Midview City told me that he is not continuing the lease, as the rental is going up by a large percentage. A few of the stalls could not survive and had moved out.
I just learned that the successful stalls are also moving out this week. They were uncertain about the terms of the renewal of their stalls and had signed up at other places to continue their business.

The management office had decided to operate the food court directly (most probably because they could not get another operator) and had offered to renew the tenancy for the existing stalls at the last minute (but they had already signed up elsewhere).

It is very wasteful for the existing stalls (which were doing well here) to move out and set up business elsewhere, and for the management office to look for new stalls to come in.
This is a consequence of the practice that is quite common in Singapore, where there is uncertainty of tenure and the prospect that rentals will continue to be pushed up, beyond an affordable limit. And in the process, there is so much wastage.

Singapore has many wasteful practices!

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