Saturday, June 10, 2017

How to avoid being assaulted

Rachel Ash asked:
If you being the CEO then in the insurance business cannot eliminate these issues then we lay people who knows nuts what can we hope to achieve but to be repeatedly assaulted.

Many of the life insurance products being sold in the market now are bad for consumers. They take away too much of the savings. Many of these policies are sold to consumers through deceptive means.

The advisers did not explain the policies correctly. If the advisers had explained the correct facts to the buyers, the buyers would probably not buy these products anyway.

What can consumers do, when they were "assaulted" ?

They should come forward and lodge a complaint. If the Monetary Authority of Singapore receives many complaints, they will know that there is a real problem that need to be addressed. But if many people keep quiet, MAS will think that the problem is isolated.

I personally believe that the problem is quite rampant. Sadly, not enough people are coming forward to lodge their complaints.

Actually, there are already sufficient evidence for MAS to be concerned and to look into this matter. They should know that the consumers are being taken for a ride and the incidence of misselling is quite rampant. However, they are still not willing to act on this issue. I blame MAS for their apathy as much as I blame the consumer.

To avoid being "assaulted", the consumers should learn what to look out for. They should spend the time to understand the issue. They can watch the videos in my website or attend the talk organized by FISCA (

Otherwise, one day, the "assault" will be successful and the consumer would suffer a large painful loss.

How can the PAP regain the trust of the people?

I met a two old school mates for lunch today. They said that the trust between the government leaders and the people is now very low, based on "coffee shop talk". The leaders should make the effort to hear the "coffee shop talk" to know how the people are feeling.

I asked them - what is the single most important action that the government can take to regain the trust of the people.

Mr. X, who has been a grassroot leader for decades and is still helping the MP in a small way said,

"They should revise their salaries to be commensurate with their actual responsibilities. If a candidate can lose an election and is elected on the next attempt in a safe group constituency, and is then promoted to be a minister at a high salary, what will the people think?

Many ordinary people are strugging just to keep their job and they are paid a low salary. Why should that minister be treated so well?"

I told Mr. X that I agree with his view completely. The best way for the government to regain the trust of the people is to revise their salary according to international benchmarks.

Mr. X said - but some ministers deserve to be paid a high salary, because they were already earning the high salary in the private sector.

TKL - I disagree. If the minister is not willing to take the sacrifice to accept the proper salary, according to international benchmark, we do not need him to be a minister. We have to look for someone else. Surely, there are more than 20 capable people in Singapore who are willing to be a minister at the proper salary?

My view of the UK election results

The results of the UK general election has been bad for prime minister Theresa May. It is also bad for the Brexit negotiation with the European Union. The uncertainties will be bad for the British Pound and for the economy.

Why did the voters of the UK choose this "bad outcome"?

Many of the voters, especially the young voters, are dissatisfied with the status quo. They are unhappy with the austerity program that produces slow economic growth and low employment. They are also unhappy that the rich are getting richer while they have to struggle to pay for the high cost of living with uncertain jobs or unemployment.

They vote for a new social order in the UK. They vote for a more socialist society.

This is the same message that the voters in the US gave to the political establishments. It is the same message that causes people around the world to resort to violence.

The political establishment and the elite has to change their current policies. This statement applies to Singapore as well.

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Paul Thambyah and Chee Hong Tat issues

Dr Paul Thambyah is a courageous person. He is a senior doctor in government service and is willing to be a leader in the opposition Singapore Democratic Party.

Do you agree? You can view the results of the voting on this issue in

He made a comment in a speech at May Day. He was criticized by Minister of State Chee Hong Tat. What do the Crowd think about the criticism by the MOS?

Here are their votes:

Challenge facing young people

In the US primary election in 2016, Bernie Sanders drew the crowds. He had the strong support of the young. The Democratic Party nominated Hillary Clinton. She lost the general election to Donald Trump.

In the UK general election in 2017, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labor Party drew the crowds. He had the support of the young people who turned up at large numbers to vote. The Labor Party did unexpectedly well, although they still have less seats than the Conservatives.

The message from the young people in the US and UK are the same. They are fed up of the economy. They are fed up of leaving university with a high debt and no job. They are fed up of high cost of living and low wages.

The young people of Singapore faces the same challenge.

Improve the bus service

Two buses under service 163 arrived within 1 minute of each other last night. It repeated tonight.

The bus schedule is getting worse. This is disappointing. After the government took over the responsbility of managing the entire network, I expected the schedule to improve. After all, it is easier to plan the schedule when there are not "turfs" to fight over among the bus operators. This is not the case.

This is sad. With the massive amount of data that is available, it should be possible for the Land Transport Authority to plan the capacity to match the demand and ensure that the schedules are followed closely.

The Land Transport Authority does not seem to be paying attention to this matter. The transport minister is also sleeping. If he just check the management reports, he should be able to know that there are problems. He can direct the LTA to fix them.

Of course, he can also "don't care". I suspect that this is what is happening.

Regardless of race, language or religion

The UK elects 650 MPs to their House of Commons. Each MP is elected from a constituency.

They seem to be able to produce MPs to reflect the diversity of their country, i.e. people from various ethnic groups and religions.

They do not need the convoluted system of GRC (group representation constituency) that is used in Singapore.

They have also elected a Muslim of Asian origin, but born in the UK, to be the Mayor of London. They do not need to have a "reserved election" for him to be elected into this office.

Singapore had set a good example to the world of Singaporeans from different racial and religious backgrounds living in harmony.

Can we get rid of our GRC and reserved elections and elect Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion?

How many constituences in the UK and in Singapore?

I asked Google - how many constituences in the UK?

The answer - 650, each electing a single MP to the House of Commons.…

I asked Google - how many constituces in Singapore. Google does not know. So they give me this page:

So I asked again. How many MPs in Singapore?
The answer - 92, 89 elected and 3 Non Constituency MPs.

My conclusion - things are so convoluted in Singapore. We spend a lot of energy to sort out the complications, and do not have any energy left to solve our real problems - such as bringing down the cost of living, making sure that our citizens have jobs, can marry and have children, etc.


Thursday, June 08, 2017

Are baby milk powder prices in Australia subsidised by the government?

My research showed that milk powder prices in Singapore cost 70% more than Australia. I asked the question - why should our prices be so high?

Someone said - that is because prices in Australia are subsidised. We should compare the unsubsidised prices.

The statement was made with an air of confidence. I thought initially that it was true. However, there was no way for me to get the prices before subsidy.

I decided to check Google (thank you Google) - is milk powder prices subsidised in Australia?

I got the answer - the Australian farmers gets government support as the milk prices are too low, due to over-supply. Hey, if this is the case, the low milk prices should result in low prices for milk powder manufactured in Australia and sold in locally and for export, right?

I can classify the statement of subsidised prices as "fake news". i wonder if that person is working for the government, and makes the statement to deflect the failure of the government to deal with the high prices being charged in Singapore?

Quite likely, he is not working for the government. He must have taken upon himself the role of protecting the reputation of Singapore against people who ask troublesome and embarrasing questions?

Stores charge the same price for the same product, but describe them differently

I asked my staff to compile the prices of 50 baby milk powder under 5 brands sold at Fairprice, Giant, RedMart and Sheng Siong.

Here are the findings.

Fairprice and Giant describe the same products differently. My staff had a difficult time to match the products. He finally managed to identify the same products, which were described differently.

The finding - Fairprice and Giant and Redmart charge the same price. There are a few products where one party charge a lower price - under Promotion. Sheng Siong has only a few products.

Perhaps they were required to charge the same price by the supplier.

Sorry. The parents in Singapore will have to pay much higher prices than those in other countries.

Videos on financial planning and insurance

I like to ask young people to watch the videos at my website. This will help them to avoid the expensive mistake of buying a life insurance policy that they cannot maintain. They can lose a few thousand dollars of their savings.

The videos provide tips to ordinary people on how to handle their financial planning and insurance.

These videos are very popular. Every day, 10 to 20 people watch 1 or more videos. Although the videos were put up several months ago, they are still being watched every day.

Buying a policy that he does not understand or need

Mr. X sent an email to me. He had bought a policy and asked me if it was "worth keeping". The consultant who sold him the policy had kept the policy document from him until after the 14 day free look period expired. He was not able to exercise the cancellation. What should he do?

I asked Mr X to scan the benefit illustration for me to look. He took photos using his mobile phone in various odd directions. I replied to him that I cannot read it. (It was quite inconsiderate of him to expect free advice and provide the information in a shoddy manner).

I asked Mr. X to telephone me. He did. He said that he had bought the life insurance policy at a road show. He did not understand what he was buying but bought it anyway on the recommendation of the consultant. He paid $1,200 as an annual premium. He is still single but expect to get married soon.

Mr. X is totally lost. He would probably have to lose more than $1,000 on this bad mistake. Frankly, I am not able to help him in this complicated situation.

I had warned many people on the following:

1. Do not buy any insurance policy on a road show.
2. Attend the financial planning talk organized by FISCA
3. Read the financial planning tips in the FISCA website.

Many people ignore my advice. When they get stuck with a very costly decision (like what had happened to Mr. X) they expect me to help them. Sorry, it is already too late.

Apamil baby milk powder

One parent told me that he found this research to be very useful. He is trying Aptamil which is manufactured from New Zealand. The prices in Singapore are 70% higher than in Australia. Why should it be so?

Wyeth baby milk powder

A well known brand is Wyeth (subsidiary of Nestle). There are many products under this brand and they are available in Singapore. This milk powder is advertised as being "manufactured in Singapore". But the average price in Singapore ($4.28 p 100g) is almost double of Malaysia and Australia ($2.47 and $2.41 respectively).

More details in

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Research on baby milk powder prices in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia

The prices are taken on the first week of June 2017 from the online website of stores in Singapore (Fairprice, Giant), Malaysia (Tesco, Sam Groceria) and Australia (Coles, Woolworths).
The prices in Malaysia and Australia are converted into SGD using the exchange rate of 0.32 and 1.04 respectively. The SGD prices are then adjusted to get the price per 100 g of powder.
The average price per 100 g is $2.10 in Malaysia, $2.75 in Australia and $4.70 in Singapore. Singapore is more expensive than Australia by 70% and more expensive than Malaysia by 123% (i.e. more than doubled).
I have also shown the 10 most expensive products and the 10 least expensive products in each country.
I hope that this information helps parents to choose the most suitable milk powder for their babies, without paying for the most expensive products on the shelves.

Click here for more details

Starhub Perpetual Securities, Indicative yield. 4.25%

Issuer: StarHub Ltd
Issue : SGD Subordinated Perpetual Securities
Issuer/Issue Rating: Unrated
Format: Regulation S only and S274/275 of SFA
Issue Size: SGD benchmark
Tenor: Perpetual NC5
Price Guidance: 4.25% area (changes subject to market condition and demand)
Ranking: Direct, unconditional, unsecured and subordinated obligation of the Issuer
Settlement Date: 16 June 2017
Issuer Call Option: 16 June 2022 & at any distribution date thereafter at par, 100% of principal
Distribution: Fixed. Reset in Year 10 & every 10 years thereafter plus applicable Step up
Step up: 100bp from Year 10
Distribution Payment: Semi-annually in arrear
Distribution Deferral: At Issuer's discretion. Any deferred Distributions are cumulative and compounding
Dividend Pusher: Yes, with 6 month look back period
Dividend Stopper: Yes
Other Redemption: At par under tax reasons, accounting reasons, tax deductibility and clean up event
Use of Proceeds: General corporate funding requirements or investments of the Issuer and/or the StarHub Group (including financing new acquisitions and investments, refinancing of existing borrowings, working capital, capital expenditure and other general funding requirements)
Other Terms: SGD250k denoms; SGX-ST listing , CDP clearing, off S$2bn Programme
Governing Law: Singapore law
PB Concession : 15 cents
Sole Global Coordinator and Bookrunner: DBS Bank Ltd.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

A sense of proportion

I observe that many people in Singapore lack a sense of proportion. They do not difference between what is big and what is small, what is important and what is not important. They give the same degree of attention to all the issues that they encounter.

I frequently quote the example of the naming of roads. We have Sin Ming Avenue, Sin Ming Road, Sin Ming Drive and Sin Ming Lane. All of these roads are of the same width. In other countries, the name "avenue" is probably used for a road of three or four lanes on each side, the name "road" or "drive" has two lanes and the name "lane" has 1 lane.  If there are many lanes of a road, they use the name lane 1, lane 2, etc to differentiate them.

In the past, our planners do have a sense of proportion. They give the name "avenue" to identify the major roads in Ang Mo Kio and the name "street" to identify the smaller roads that branch from the avenue. The same approach was used in Bedok North and Bedok South. Before that, they used "lorong" to identify the major roads in Toa Payoh, although lorong, which means street, may not be the appropriate word to be used for a major road.

Before that, we have lorongs that branch out of Geyland Road and they are numbered sequentially.

It is a nightmare to understand the names given to the roads and streets in Sengkang and Punggol estates. We have to carry a street directory with us all the time. Fortunately, we now have Google Maps.

Improve the signs in Singapore

Changi Airport has good signs - among the best that you can find in Singapore. But, they can still overlook some points.

When a traveler enters the departure hall, they need the signs to tell them where to go. Most travelers need to find the departure gate, lounge and GST refund counter (for tourist).

I have a ticket for get C26. The sign does not tell me where to go. It cannot be to the right, but it could be straight ahead or to the left. They should include the other gates in the sign.

The lounges can be found at both ends of the terminal. This should be shown in the sign. The current sign misleads the traveler to go to the lounge on the right, when he should be going to the one on the left.

Fortunately, there is an information counter at the entrance. This is helpful. In many shopping malls in Singapore, one has to search for the information counter, which is located in an obscure corner. But Changi Airport did this right.

I find the signs to be bad in most places in Singapore. Changi Airport has one of the best signs, even if it has some small shortcomings.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Show telephone number and name

Some organizations are quite inconsiderate. When they call the customers, their telephone number does not show as the Caller ID. They do not realize that most customers will reject these calls, as they could be unsolicited marketing calls.

They should show both their telephone number and name. The customers are more likely to take the calls.

Employers prefer to employ foreigners?

I suspect that the employers prefer foreigners, because they do not have to be disrupted for reservist duties. This is unfair to our local males. I hope that the government recognize and address this problem.

Wisdom of the Crowd website

There are four new issues for you to vote in

When you submit 10 or more votes, you will win the prizes shown here:

You can view the results of the voting on the closed issues in

Blog Archive