Friday, February 17, 2017

Occupancy of buses

I take bus 163 to work and home regularly for the past year.

I observed that this service is usually very crowded. This morning after 9.30 am, I saw two buses passed by that were packed.

At the same time, I observed several buses under service 854 and 857 went by that were more than half empty.

After work, I also observed that bus 163 is usually full, while other services were less full. Service 410 came regularly and were usually less than half full.

I suspect that the Land Transport Authority is not monitoring the occupancy of the buses under each service. They probably don't have the statistics to help them decide on increasing or reducing the buses on each service.

I have written to LTA on this matter and did not get any response from them.

Financial deregulation caused a lot of harm

Many years ago, the banks collected savings and pay an interest rate to the depositors. They use the savings to lend to businesses at a higher interest rate. Their revenue is the margin and after deducting expenses, they make a profit.

Some smart financial expert figured out. Why does the bank need to carry the risk of the bad lending. Why don't we pass the risk to the ordinary people and make a profit without carrying the risk?

This seemed to be a good idea for the banks. They convinced the regulators, i.e. the government, that it is better for banks to be risk free, so they don't have to face the problem of losses and insolvency.

The regulators foolishly agreed to this concept. If the banks do not fail, they do not have to worry about a collapse of the banking system.

They forgot to think about the people who would be carrying the risks. These are ordinary people. If the banks, with their experts, cannot assess the risk properly, how can ordinary people carry out this responsibility?

This change seemed to be a good idea for a while. The banks could scale up their business significantly with a small capital. This business model worked well for the banks, but was risky for the economy.

The activities become very bad in two ways. First, the banks did not bother about screening the quality of the lending, as long as they can push the risk to the ultimate carriers. They started to grow very big.

Next, the banks found that they can make more profit by carrying out trading on their own account. The risks that they took were tremendously huge.

If they got the bets right, they make huge profits, by the billions. If they got it wrong, they become too big to fail and the government had to step in to bail them out.

This is the story of financial deregulation over the past two decades. It is criminal. It is madness. But the governments around the world are still in slumber.

We have to return to the old system. The banks cannot be allowed to pass the risks to ordinary people. It is their job to assess the risks and to manage them.

The government cannot neglect the responsibility to supervise and regulate the banks. It is the job of the government. Financial deregulation is a very bad idea. It is criminal negligence.

Problem solving skills can be learned

Do you know?

You can learn the skill of problem solving and perfect it by practice.

It is a matter of approach and practice.

The steps of problem solving can be learned. It is an approach that can be used in all types of problems.

Watch this video:

You can attend the 1 hour tutorial at:

Comments from past participants:
1. Mr. Sing: The concepts taught are very useful
2. My. Ng: I never knew that problem solving can be learned through the right approach.

Internship at TKL Associates

I take several interns to work in my office for 3 months over the past yeras. The intern is trained in software development by a local polytechnic.

I teach the intern the following skills:

a) To develop software and use computer tools
b) How to communicate
c) How to be confident in dealing with problems.

Some interns are good in software development, but others are weak. It does not matter to me. Even if they are weak, they can still learn how to adapt from the codes left behind by other developers and learn through reverse engineering.

My interns told me that the skills in communication and problem solving are important. They were told the theory, but they enjoyed the real life experience.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wasteful activity by IRAS

My wife has not been working for 3 decades. I include her in my income tax returns each year. She does not have to pay any income tax, as she does not have any income.

Last year, she received a tax bill for $340 based on "estimated original assessment". I don't know how IRAS got the estimate of her income - which never existed.

I called IRAS. The staff told me that they sent a tax form to her and she did not return it. So, they estimated her income and charged her the tax.

I have to pay the tax. I can resubmit her return and get a refund. She would send the form to me. The form did not arrive after three weeks.

Why is IRAS creating all this unnecessary work for themselves and for the taxpayer? Why can't they send the form only to people who are working?

Understand the Benefit Illustration

I estimate that 10,000 people buy a life insurance policy every month. They may be unaware that they are buying a life insurance policy, as it is usually sold to them as an "investment" or a "saving plan" by a relationship manager working in a bank.

The sales person is required to give a Benefit Illustration to the customer. In many cases, the BI is not given at that point but is quietly sent to the customer with many other documents. The customer may overlook the BI.

There is an important page in the BI that the customer should read and understand. When the customer reads that page, or sees the figures, the customer will cancel the policy for a full refund within 14 days.

If the customer does not do it, the customer may lose a lot of money - which is shown as "the effect of deduction":

See this explanation.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Earn a referral fee of $500

Earn a referral fee of $500 when you introduce a tenant for this apartment.

Thomson View apartment for rental. High floor. 2 bedroom, $2,300 p month. Full condo facilities. Available now.

Tutorial on problem solving - 25 Feb 2017

I will be conducting the tutorial on problem solving on Saturday 25 February. A fee of $10 is payable per participant. Details here:

The fee will be increased for future tutorials. Book early to enjoy the current low fee.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Compare Hong Kong and Singapore housing systems

Someone asked me if I prefer the housing system in Singapore, where there is a high ownership of homes through the CPF and HDB scheme, or the housing system in Hong Kong, where a high proportion can only afford to live in rental flats.

I prefer the Hong Kong system today. They give the choice to the people on whether they wish to rent or to buy a home. The people make their choice according to their preference and income capacity.

The Singapore system forces the workers to make a high contribution to the CPF and they can use it mainly to buy their own homes. This force a preference for home ownership, which in turn makes the property prices go through the roof. Even HDB flats are super expensive. This distorts the market.

The new HDB flats are now so expense that most new buyers can only afford them by getting government grants through the CPF.

Basically, we create a bubble market in property through the CPF housing scheme and then support it with a grant.

Renting a flat makes more sense for most workers. They can rent a flat close to their work place and avoid the long commuting journey each day.

I am not saying that everyone should rent a flat. I am saying that they should have the choice.

In the 1970s, the CPF/ HDB policy was better. The HDB flats were sold at affordable prices. Most people find it cheaper to buy the flats than to rent. That was a good policy. But the situation is different today .The HDB flats prices are far too high.

Exercise of common sense

I have been a member of the Grassroots Club for nearly 10 years. I went to the health center often.

I was required to hand over my member card to get the locker key. One day, I forgot the card. I had to give my NRIC instead to hold as ransom for the locker key.

The staff felt uncomfortable, because she needed my card, according to the SOP. She needed to record my membership number into her manual record. It was troublesome to log into the computer system ????

She is not a new staff. She knew me over the years. But SOP is SOP, right?

This evening, I forgot my membership card again. Another staff served me. She also knew me over the years.

TKL - Sorry I forgot my membership card.
Staff - Its okay.
TKL - Do you need my NRIC or other card?
Staff - No need.
TKL - Do you have my membership number
Staff - Yes. It is in the register. I can look it up.

I am relieved. There is hope for Singapore. There are still a few people who can exercise common sense, instead of relying blinding on SOP. Sadly, there are a disappearing breed.

The Singapore dollar will weaken

One loud criticism of the recommendations of the Committee on the Future Economy is - Singapore has become very uncompetitive due to the high cost of doing business.

Businesses are leaving Singapore due to this high cost. Why is the committee not addressing this issue of high business cost? Why is the government still in denial? Don't they know that we are now facing very serious challenges?

I agree with this strong criticism. We are in serious trouble due to the high cost.

But, there is an easy solution. When the Singapore dollar drops in value due to our economic woes, the cost will become lower. This will ease the problem for businesses.

The cost of imported goods will be higher and the cost of living will increase. The ordinary people will have to tighten their belt further. They cannot afford to spend wastefully. They have to become more prudent in their spending. They can take fewer vacations and have to go to nearby countries.

This is the advantage of the free economy. It will adjust to the economic cycles.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Scam in Malaysia

Here is a scam that was discovered in Malaysia.

We see similar scams in Singaore. We need to learn from the experience of other people. Right?…scsca

Videos on commly asked financial planning issues

I have created several short videos (mostly 5 to 10 minutes) on financial planning issues that are often asked by ordinary people. If you are interested in any of these issues, just click on the link and sign in with Facebook or Google.

Avoid costly treatment

Here is a story that can save families from being bankrupted by medical bills.

Beware of this bad practice

Some banks adopt a bad practice to get the customers to visit their branch. This allows their relationship manager to sell a bad financial product to the customer.

Read here:…/Bad-practice-of-Standard-Chartered-Ba…

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