Thursday, October 19, 2017

People who "don't care"

I waited for bus 163 this morning. It was a long wait. During this time, I saw many bus 70, 86, 854 and 857 that went by relatively empty.

When bus 163 arrived, it was packed.

I get the impression that the schedules for these buses should be adjusted based on demand. The services that are relatively empty can have some buses diverted to the services that are packed.

This information can be obtained by studying the database each day showing the average number of passengers for each service.

I have suggested this method a year ago, and also send my suggestion to the Land Transport Authority. Nobody bothered to follow up with me on the suggestion. They don't care.

Each time I see the phenomena, and it must be happening daily, I get angry at the way this country is being run. My anger goes all the way to the top man, PM Lee.

Each time I see the MRT train breaks down, I say - this is to be expected. We have a "useless" transport minister and a land transport authority comprising of people who "don't care".

A communist country shows the way

Many people still look at China as a communist country that is run on totalitarian methods.

This was the propaganada of the western media.

If we look at the chaos and the violence in America, we would probably have second thoughts about the benefit of a "free society".

Looking beyond the surface of the control of the Communist Party of China, we can actually see that there is democratic election of the leaders of the Party. Although it does not involve the ordinary people of China, it does involve several hundred of millions of members of the CCP who elect their leaders at various levels of the party.

It seemed to produce more suitable leaders than the democratic system in America.

I am not saying that China has a perfect system. I am pointing out that all system have their flaws and their advantages. We need to see which system produce the best outcome for its people.

Up to now, the China system is way ahead, compared to America. Maybe, the system in Europe is better. We need to keep an open mind about it.

Now, I come to Singapore. There is a lot of flaw in our "democratic system" also. What can we learn from the successful systems adopted in other countries?

Rise of China

How do you view the rise of China in geo-politics?
Give your vote in

Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson has a difficult relationship with President Trump. How long will he last in this office.

Read what the Wisdom of the Crowd thinks.

The views are mixed.

PM Lee to meet President Trump

As PM Lee travel to US to meet President Trump, the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd has a clear message for him on the question -
Is it good for Singapore to maintain our strong ties with America at this time?
Read their votes here:

69% advised caution and the need to play a low key.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Can SMRT be managed directly by government?

Will SMRT operate more efficiently if it were to be run directly by the Government?

Give your vote in

Flooded tunnel

Who should take most of the blame for the flooded tunnel at the NS line?
Give your vote in

Get a foreign operator

Should we invite a foreign operator, such as Hong Kong MTR, to run our train system?

52% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said "yes" as we need real experts who know how to run the train system. Another 17% said that there is no hope with the available people in Singapore. This makes a total of 69%.

Read the detailed breakdown in

Major train breakdown

Should should the train operator do when there is a major breakdown?

38% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that the operator should compensate $10 to each commuter to take alternative transport.

28% said that it should fire the people in charge.

Read the detailed breakdown in

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Upgrading the Bukit Panjang LRT

Transport minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the Bukit Panjang LRT was badly designed with many ups and downs and sharp turns.

But it has been operating for 18 years since 1999. We did not hear of commuters complaining about the dizzy ride. The minister did.

Was the LRt ride uncomfortable, or was the minister just exaggerating?

If there is a need to remove the ups and downs and sharp corners for some stretch of the LRT, it should be possible to build the replacement section and when it is ready, divert the LRT to use the new section instead of the old section.

This would require the system to be closed for a week or two, rather than a few years.

I wonder if such an option was being considered?

Three years to upgrade Bukit Panjang LRT?

There must be something seriously wrong with our Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority.

It is surprising that an upgrading of the Bukit Panjang LRT line will take 3 years. We are now used to very poor standard of competence, but this is stretching the limit.

If we have to close down the LRT for upgrading work, it should not pose any issue. We only need to have feeder buses to run the route of the LRT

The minister may exaggerate the difficult of the job and maybe 70% of the public will believe him, but he is just trying to pull a fast one.

It is disappinting to see Singapore in this ridiculous state.

Top heavy organization

He (Khaw BW) noted that it would be left to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as to whether to impose a financial penalty on SMRT for the incident. But if it were up to him, Mr Khaw said "my preference is not to go back to this system of fines" because it "creates an adversarial relationship between operator and regulator".…/smrt-lta-have-to-get-to-root-…

Herein lies the problem. It is easy for LTA to sit in their ivory tower and impose fine on SMRT for failing to perform up to standard.

In the old days, we did not have this kind of "empires". The government is an entity. It's role is to ensure that the public services are run efficiently and at lower cost.

Today, we have a body such as the LTA that sits as "lord and master" imposing penalties and fines.

Well, this is Lee HL's system of governance. it has broken down badly. It has too many emperors causing a lot of money to taxpayers and enjoying an easy life with high salaries.

Expensive child care

I saw these fees for child care.

Infant Care School fees Full-Day Programme $1,364.00
Childcare School fees Half-Day Programme $690.00
Childcare School fees Full-Day Programme $770.00
Registration Fee, Deposit, Uniform, .... not included

I know that the fees are expensive, but I did not expect them to be so expensive. There is government subsidy, but how much?

No wonder, families do not want to have children.

The fees are really out of this world.

And the government still does not want to introduce a minimum wage of just $1,200 for an adult? This is not enough to pay for the full day program for a child.

Something is seriously wrong in Singapore. Our costs and wages are seriously out of alignment.

Is the "culture" unique to SMRT?

I find it rather strange for the transport minister and the SMRT CEO to blame the "culture" of the employees in neglecting the proper maintenance of the train system.

I agree that the "culture" has an important bearing but I must point out that this "culture" issue is not unique to SMRT.

It is prevalent among Singapore organizations. It is even displayed by our top leaders in the PAP government.

What is this "culture" issue? I wish to point out the following:

a) a focus on SOP and unwillingness to go outside of SOP or to take initiative.
b) focus on scoring on KPI to earn performance bonus, leading to lack of cooperation..
c) an unwillingness to take responsibility and accountability.
d) lack of transparency.
e) a habit to find excuses and push the blame to other people.

Now, you tell me. Is this culture unique only to the maintenace team of SMRT?

If we wish to change the culture, our top leaders should step forward to take responsibility and to provide leadership. They cannot sit back and pretend that the problem belongs to somebody else.

SMRT's corporate culture

What is wrong with the corporate culture in SMRT?

Give your vote in

Khaw BW's late apology

How do you react to Khaw BW's apology for the breakdown of the MRT service due to flooded tunnel?

Give your vote in

Wages and rental

If wages are increased, will it have an effect on rentals?

51% of the people voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd said that over the long run, it will achieved a better balance between wages and rental. It will be good for the economy.

35% said that the increased wages will translate into higher prices for consumers.

See the beakdown of the votes in

Monday, October 16, 2017

Collective sale fever

Is the collective sale fever good for Singapore?

59% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that it will lead to high property prices and make homes unaffordable.

23% said that it is wasteful to tear down condominiums that are still in fairly good condition.

A total of 82% said that this development is bad for Singapore.

See the detailed breakdown in

Rejection of medical claim

Should the insurer reject a medical claim on the grounds of non-disclosure of past medical condition?

47% of the people voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd said that the insurer should check on the medical history at the time of application and should not be allowed to reject the claim on this ground at the time of claim.

22% said that the insured usually rely on the agent to help to complete the application form, so it implies that the agent should take some resonsibility.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Private property market

What should the government do about the bubble in the private property market

Give your vote in

3 day training course on trading

Many promoters charge $3,000 to $5,000 for a 3 days courses purported to give training on futures and options trading.

A case was heard in the Small Claim Tribunal in 2010 on such a course. The report of the hearing in the SCT give an interesting insight into what happened in the 3 day course.

The SCT ruled that the organizer had to refund back the fees paid less $885, which it considered to be the "fair value" of what was taught.

Before you sign up for a similar course, you should read about this case.

Bad for investors

I have added the opinion of two knowledgeable people about why dual currency investment (DCI) is bad for investors. They are good for the banks because they make the profit from the losses by their customers.

Read about how it works here:

My dog Elliot - the Singaporean.

When I take my dog Elliot out for a walk in the morning, he walks in a haphazard manner - sometimes in the front, sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left. The worse case was when he walks behind me and then to the left, with the lease going round my back.

He did not realize that it was inconvenient for me. He only knew what was convenient for him.

His behavior reminds me of many Singaporeans. They know what is good for them, but does not if it is also good for others.

Elliot is also a Singaporean - born and raise in Singapore. So, it would not be surprising that he adopts the habits of many Singaporeans.

We call Elliot a useless dog. He does not bark at strangers. When the strangers came to the house, he runs and hide in the furthest corner he can find.

He is even scared of small animals and children.He is scared of the rain and of the sound of passing cars.

This behavior also reflects that of many Singaporeans who are fearful and paranoid about anything that is uncertain and not stated in the SOP.

They worry that any social activity could be breaking the law and they can go to jail. So, they prefer to be silent and avoid involvement in all social activity. They even avoid speaking out against social injustice.

It is very bad for many Singaporeans to behave in this shameful manner, without any backbone or conviction.

I hope that Singaporeans realize that they can and should be better than Elliot.

Ex journalists network

What is a good name for the news website for ex SPH journalist to submit their articles?

Give your vote in

Small cuontries should band together

Was it wise for PM Lee to make the statement that small countries should band together?

44% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that it was unwise for him to make this statement. 20% said that it is targeted at China and will be taken badly. Together they totalled 64%.

The remainder state that it was a fair statement or that it was necessary for small countries to make their views known.

Read the detailed breakdown in

Tray return station at Aperia Mall

I have taken lunch at Aperia Mall Food Court on several occasions. I was not aware that they have a tray return station. I did not see any signage to guide me.

Yesterday, my friend told me about the return station that was located beyond the food stalls and out of visible sight. It was easy to bring the tray there. They have two counters for "halah" and "non halal".

It is quite common to see poor signage in many places in Singapore.

Return trays at food courts

Should customers return trays so that there is no need for cleaners?

45% of those voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said "no" as there is a need to create jobs for cleaners. 34% said "yes" as there is a shortage of cleaners.

You can see a breakdown of the results at

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Unsuitable for NS men

Hi Mr Tan,

I saw this at the SAFRA website. It's horrible how SAFRA helping the organizers to sell the expensive courses to the public.

A lot of NSmen are going to be brainwashed into signing up for those expensive courses.

I have attended the preview of these course before and found their materials to be weak and not suitable for NS men.

Alternative website for ex journalist of Straits Times

I want to build a website to allow the ex journalists of the Straits Times to continue writing articles based on their research into topical issues and events happening in Singapore.

It will allow them to continue practicing their professional skills which they have developed for many years.

My business model is to ask each reader to pay $0.10 for each article that they wish to read and to pay the revenue to the journalist.

If they write 10 articles a month and 1,000 readers opt to buy their article at $0.10, they can earn $1,000 a month. It is not as good as what they earn before, but it helps them to keep busy and active.

They can continue to search for an alternative job.

To fund this project, I will set aside $50,000 to fund $5 for 10,000 readers. They will read the articles with the "seed money". After that money is exhausted, many will top up their account to continue reading.

What do you think of this business model and concept?

Downgrade to basic Medishield Life

I am a "Pioneer Generation" and insured with an Integrated Shield Plan (ISP) with NTUC Income Insurance (Plan B).

Since I am a PG, is it practical, cost-wise, to be insured with the expensive ISP? Being a PG, I am given heavy govt medical subsidies should I require them. Should I cancel my existing ISP and only be insured with MediShield Life instead? How do I go about it?

Read my reply in the FISCA website.

Improve life in Singapore

If you want to read my views on how to improve life in Singapore, you can read the articles in

Online article by retrenched journalist

Will you pay $0.10 for an online article written by a retrenched experienced journalist?

Give your vote in

Sexist remark

If a man tells a girl that she is sexy, is it a sexist remark?

Give your vote in

Articles on insurance and investment

Here are the articles on insurance and investmentment available to members of FISCA. They can be viewed by non-members for 14 days. After that, it is reserved only to members.

Read them now. And if you find them useful, you can join FISCA for only $36 a year. It allows you access to the old articles and to attend FISCA talks free or at a good discount.

Taking bets with dual currency investment (DCI)

Hi Kinlian

I have come across some of your articles online regarding DCIs and I just have a few questions regarding the mechanics of how it works.

Suppose I have $100,000 SGD (base currency) and the DCI is for USD. The DCI offers a higher interest rate of 3% becasue they are compensating me for the naked put on USD i just sold to them. I was just curious about how the volatility of the USD exchange rate affect how attractive this investment is compared to a FD of let's say 1.5% SGD?

I get that with higher volatility, a DCI is less attractive since upsides are capped. However, I can't seem to reconcile this with the formulae I learnt in my derivatives module. I know volatility affects the price of an option but I don't understand how a higher or a lower price for the option affects my potential returns on the DCI.

Would love to hear your opinion on this issue.

I have no idea how the complicated formula works.  I do not trust any complicated scheme.

I know that the real expert, who are paid a lot of money for the financial institution, have to earn their high income by giving more profit to their employers.

That profit must come from ordinary investors who try to take bets against the financial institution on the products created by these institutions.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Stupid process from Fundsupermart

I login to Fundsupermart website to change my password. After going through the troublesome checks, they notify me that the new password will be send to me by postal mail within a few business days.

I have waited more than a week. I went to check through the big volume of mail but did not get the letter from Fundsupermart. It never arrived.

I had to check through stacks of booklets and pages from listed companies demanding "my immediate attention". They were all unimportant. It is easy for them to make this demand, right? It cost them nothing to waste the time of their shareholders.

My problem with Fundsupermart is a repeat of an earlier requests a few years ago. The letter containing the new password never arrived. I was not able to login to my account for the past ten years.

I intend to close my account with Fundsupermart. Their process is ridiculous.

I know that they are implementing some stupid requirements from the MAS. I also know that government agencies have this stupid requirements for access to their website.

Recently, Corporate Pass allows the password to be changed online. But this change does not seem to spread to other government agencies and private companies regulated by MAS.

Things move very slowly in Singapore. We are weighed down by stupid and mindless activities. This is probably caused by some stupid instruction from the Ministry of Finance set up a few decades again and was probably never reviewed.

Most online websites allow change of password only. They send you a temporary password and asked you to change to a new password online.

I fear for the future of Singapore. We are inefficient, wasteful and costly. Things will continue to get worse under the neglect of Lee HL and his ministers.

Bad for business.

In the past, I spent about $100 a month on advertisements in Facebook.

Several months ago, I was barred for one month from posting in my Facebook page due to some violation of their community guidelines.

I explained to Facebook that I was responding to people who were deliberately rude to me. I told them that they were badly raised by their parents.

The Facebook staff ignored my explanation and continued the debarment.

I was able to get round the debarment by using another admin account for the page.

Since that time, I stopped giving any advertisement to Facebook.

I receive a daily request from Facebook to advertise my postings. I ignored them.

I hope that Facebook management be aware that the inflexible attitude of their staff has cost them some advertising revenue. The staff may be following the SOP of Facebook but failed to recognize the need to be flexible.

Many people in Singapore also adopt the approach of applying SOP blindly. This is the nature of SOP, and it can be harmful to the business.

One day, they will lose their jobs for causing harm to their business interest by not applying common sense.

Online edition of The Straits Times

The business strategy of The Straits Times seemed rather confused. Perhaps this comment also applies to the other newspapers in the SPH group.

The print edition cost $29.90 per month. The online edition also cost $29.90 per month. However, readers can access most of the articles online for free. However, they receives intrusive advertisements, which destroy the reading experience.

It is quite a hassle to enrol for the online edition, as the process is quite confusing.

If I were in charge, I would change the strategy as follows:

a) Charge the online edition at 50% of the print edition.
b) Offer the online edition free for subscribers of the print edition.

I believe that most people are willing to pay for the online edition, if it is priced at half of the print edition. However, this will reduce the subscription to the print edition, but it is bound to happen anyway.

Intrusive advertisements

Is it good for an online news website to have intrusive advertisements?

Give your vote in

Faulty pumps

What is the best way for SMRT to deal with the faulty pumps?

Give your vote in

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Will Rex Tillerson remain as US Secretary of State

Will Rex Tillerson remain as US Secretary of State for the rest of the term? He now has some misunderstanding with President Trump.

Give your vote in

Ties with America

Is it good for Singapore to maintain our strong ties with America at this time?

Give your vote in

Articles in FISCA

There are several articles on investments and insurance that are written specifically for ordinary consumers in Singapore.

You can view them in

You can also search for a past article by selecting the Artcile tab and entering the search word, such as Annuity, Critial Illness, Investment, etc.

Service of SingPost

Is SingPost providing a reliable service in delivering mail?

60% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd find the service to be accepted (a small proportion said that it is excellent).

The remaining 40% find the service to be unreliable some or most of the time.

See the breakdown in

Age restriction on smoking

Should be minimum smoking age be raised from 18 to 21 years?

56% of the people voting in the Wisdom of the Crowd support this move. 27% wish to see smoking banned totally. 11% wish to see the age raised to 25 years.

How many percent wish to see the restriction removed totally?

Find out the answer in

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

How to find brilliant solutions to problems that confound you

When a person gets stuck with a blem that they cannot solve, they usually keep working on the problem until they find the solution.

This approach can be frustrating and demoralising. It can be bad for the worker and for the colleagues.

There are two better approaches:

a) Describe the problem and ask someone for help.
b) Bypass the problem and work on something else.

Quite often, there is someone out there who has encountered the problem and found the solution. With Google and email, it should be possible to search for that person and to get the solution for free.

Another approach is to bypass the problem for the time being. Often, there are other things that you can do. Most tasks are not sequential, but are parallel. It means that you can work on another task as it does not depend on your completion of the current "stuck" task.

When you come back to the stuck task a few days later, you may be able to approach it with a fresh perspective. You will not continue with the thinking that got you stuck in the first place.

I adopt the above two approaches for a long time. They help me to be effective. They help me to get brilliant solutions to many problems that confound many people.

Perhaps Lee HL and his ministers should consider my approaches. They would not be stuck with so many issues that had confounded them for many years.

But my message is for young people who are struggling to make a mark in their careers. By learning the correct approach, they also can brilliant solutions to the problems that frustrated them.

Tan Kin Lian

Digital display in bus

Should all buses display the sequential stop number?

50% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd preferred the sequential stop number to be displayed. 36% preferred the name of the bus stop to be displayed. The remaining 14% are happy with the current situation, i.e. no display.

See the breakdown in

How to respond to a major train breakdown

What should the train operators do when there is a major breakdown.

I provide four interesting options for you to vote

Foreign operator to run our MRT?

Should we invite a foreign operator, such as Hong Kong MTR, to run our train system?
I give you five options. Cast your vote in

Requirement for Uber and Grab drivers

Should drivers of Uber and Grab met a minimum age or driving experience requirement?

The views of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd are quite mixed. Some preferred a minimum age, some preferred a minimum driving experience and some prefered the age and driving experience to be stated in the apps.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Unfair to reject claim due to alleged non-declaration

Published in St Times 10 Oct 2017

As president of the Financial Services Consumer Association, I have been approached on several occasions by consumers who had bought integrated Shield plans and gone for expensive treatment in private hospitals.

Prior to admission, they checked with their insurance agent and were assured that the treatments would be covered under the integrated plans.

However, their medical bills were subsequently rejected by the insurance companies.

When processing the claim, the claims officer checked the medical history of the insured and found some conditions that had not been declared when the insured applied to upgrade to the integrated plan or to reinstate the cover after it had lapsed due to oversight in premium payments.

In some cases, the insured was not aware of the past medical condition or the need to declare it in the application.

The alleged non-declaration was, nevertheless, used as the reason to reject the claim.

The practice of rejecting claims due to alleged non-declaration is unfair to consumers.

These medical bills are usually of large sums, involving several tens of thousands of dollars. If the insured person knew that the cover would be rejected, he would probably have opted for subsidised treatment, which would be covered under the basic MediShield plan.

I ask the Monetary Authority of Singapore to require insurance companies to check an applicant's medical history at the time of processing the application for upgrading or reinstatement.

If they are not satisfied with the medical status of the applicant, they should reject the application at that time.

If the insurer accepts the application, it should be barred from rejecting a claim on the grounds of non-disclosure of past medical conditions.

I hope that the authorities will act on this matter urgently, as it involves a large number of people, including many from the lower-income group, who have to pay large medical bills due to rejected claims.

Tan Kin Lian
Financial Services Consumer Association

Monday, October 09, 2017

Trust in the government

Is there an erosion of trust in the government of Singapore. Give your vote in

Erosion of trust in the government

When I made suggestions to improve the bus public transport in Singapore, I receive a few comments that the government would not implement them, as these measures would reduce the demand for cars and the governments gets a lot of revenue from COE and other car taxes.

I consider this scepticism to be unfounded and unhealthy. But it is quite widely held. There is a strong measure of distrust of the real intent of the government. Are they trying to make more revenue or to lower the cost of public transport and improve the life of the people?

This scepticm is the result of many years of poor communication or, may I say, non-communication. We do not really know what is the government policy. Even if the policy is announced by the minister or the prime minister, it is not properly followed through and things do not get improved.

I hope that the prime minister and his ministers are aware of this serious problem - erosion of trust in the government.

Effect of wages on rentals

Singapore has low wages but it does not result in a low cost of living. It has resulted in higher rentals.

If wages are increased, will it have any effect in reducing rentals?

Give your vote in

Make it possible for people to have jobs

In my opinion, one important function of the government is to ensure that there are sufficient jobs for the citizens. They should provide high value jobs that pay well, if it was possible. If not, they should provide other jobs, even if they do not pay high wages, provided that the wages are sufficient to meet the cost of living.

If we are short of labor, we should automate and mechanise. We should have driverless taxis and buses and customers should return trays.

However, if there are many people who are not able to find suitable jobs, we should have taxi drivers, private hire drivers and cleaners. We should also create jobs for information guides to help tourists, as adopted in Seoul and other cities.

We should set a minimum wage to ensure that all workers earn a living and respectable wage.

While a higher wage for workers will lead to a higher cost of living for consumers, I expect that this will be offset by lower rentals.

When wages are low, rentals become too high, which is what we have seen in Singapore. If wages are higher, it is not possible for landlords to extract exorbitant rent, as the businesses cannot afford these rents.

This is what my common sense tells me. I know that some people cannot see it, or cannot agree with my view. But they are entitled to their views.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Collective sale fever

Is the collective sale fever good for Singapore? There are two sides to this issue.

Give your vote in

Rejection of medical claims

Should the insurer be allowed to reject a medical claim on the grounds of non-disclosure by the insured person? Is the rejection carried out unfairly?

Give your vote in

Public perception of Chan Chun Sing

What is your view about Chan Chun Sing?

Only 4% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that they "like him a lot".

The other 96% have various reasons to dislike him.

Read the detailed breakdown in

This is quite a frightening vote of no confidence, as Chan Chun Sing is a strong candidate to take over as the next prime minister for Singapore.

Fine on SMRT director

Is it appropriate for the SMRT director to be fined for the fatal accident on the track?

Only 4% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd say that the fine is appropriate as the director should be personally liable for the outcome of the accident.

The other 96% found this approach to be unsatisfactory.

Read their reasons in

Rejected health insurance claims due to alleged non-disclosure

When you buy life or health insurance, the insurance company ask you to declare your medical history. The consumers do not know what should be declared and what does not need to be declared. He or she relies on the insurance agent to help fill up the application form.

The agent is likely to avoid declaring medical conditions that will lead to questions and possible rejection of the application.

When the insured makes a medical claim, the insurance company checks with the doctors that treated the insured in the past. Quite often, they find a medical condition that was not declared in the application form. They use this non-declaration as the reason to reject the claim.

This has been the practice of the insurance companies up to now. It is a bad practice and is quite unfair to the ordinary consumers.

There is a better way. I am surprised that the insurance companies do not adopt this better way. I am also surprised that the regulator, i.e. Monetary Authority of Singapore, did not insist that the insurance companies adopt this better way, to avoid the unfair rejection of claims.

What is this better way?

The insurance company should check with the doctors at the time of the application to obtain the past medical history and decide if they wish to insured the consumer. If they are not happy with the past medical history, they should reject the insurance at that time.

The regulator can pass a regulation to require the insurance companies to carry out the checking of the past medical history at the time of application. If the insurance company accept an application, the insurance company should be disallowed by law from rejecting a claim due to non-disclosure of the past medical history.

I hope that the regulator will pass this regulation to avoid the bad cases of rejected claims due to alleged non-disclosure.

Tan Kin Lian

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Wiser to stay with Medishield Life

I have encountered several cases of low income people incurring large medical bills for treatment in private hospitals, and their insurance does not pay for the treatment.

Why did these low income people opt to buy expensive insurance (i.e. the integrated plans) to cover treatment in private hospitals?

Often, they were told by the insurance agent that they can upgrade to the integrated plan without paying any cash. Actually, the higher cost comes out of Medisave savings.

They were also told that there is a long waiting time for treatment in a subsidised ward that is covered by Medishield Life. If they upgrade to a private plan, they do not have to wait when they need treatment.

This is how many people opt for the integrated plan and pay a much higher premium.

Why did the integrated plan not cover the expensive treatment?

There are two types of situations.

First, when they upgrade to the integrated plan, they might have not declared any pre-existing illness. The consumers were not aware of this requirement. The insurance agent was in a hurry to close the case and did not ask the question clearly.

In some cases, the agent said that the medical condition was not important to be declared. It becomes a different story when it comes to a claim. The claim officer rejected the claim due to non-disclosure.

Second, the cover for the integrated plan might have lapsed due to oversight in paying the top up premium. There is a cap on the annual withdrawal from Medisave. The consumer has to pay the difference for the integrated plan.

Many consumers overlook to pay the top up premium. The cover for the integrated plan lapsed. If they apply to reinstate the policy, they would be subject to exclusion of pre-existing conditions.

I have come across a few cases of rejection of claims for expensive treatment in private hospital from low income people. the bills came to several tens of thousand dollars.

For low income people, it is wiser for them to stay with Medishield Life. They should not worry about the waiting time for treatment in subsidised wards. The hospital will give immediate treatment for medical emergencies. The long waiting time applies only to non-critical cases.

Tan Kin Lian

Being insured can be worse than not being insured

Many people are worried about incurring a large medical bill when they fall sick. They buy insurance to be protected against the large bill.

To avoid the long waiting time, they buy insurance to be covered for treatment in a private hospital and pay a much higher premium.

They may not realize that being insured for medical expenses in a private hospital can be worse than not being insured. How can this be so? What is the paradox.

Here is the answer.

Learning about investing

This investment gave me a total return of 80% over 10 years. It represented a yield of 6.2%.

If I had invested a similar sum in a single premium life insurance policy, the total return would likely be only 40% giving a yield of less than 3%.

What is the learning point? Read this article.

Fingerprint scanning at checkpoints

Should car drivers and passengers have finger prints scanned at the checkpoints?

The views are quite divided, based on the votes in The Wisdom of the Crowd.

See the breakdown of the votes in

What will happen to Amos Yee

What will happen to Amos Yee over the next two years?

The views are quite divided based on the votes in The Wisdom of the Crowd. 
See the breakdown of the votes in 

Small countries should band together

Was it wise for PM Lee to make the statement that small countries should band together?

Give your vote in

Return trays at food courts

Should customers return tray at food courts to reduce the need for cleaners?
Give your vote in

Friday, October 06, 2017

Did not monitor my investment for ten years

Ten years ago (or thereabouts), I invested $50,000 in a unit trust with Fundsupermart in the name of my wife.

I had trouble logging in to their website as I forgot the password. They send statement to me encripted with their PDF password. I was not able to open the statement.

I tried to change the password but they send the new password to me by snail mail, which would arrive in "a few working days". It was too troublesome for me to look out for that mail. So, I never kept track of that investment for 10 years.

I had an online chat with the staff of Fundsupermart and complained about their troublesome procedure. She told me that the statement was encripted with the NRIC of the account holder. I was able to open it for the first time in 10 years.

To my surprise, the investment of $50,000 had grown to $92,000 in 10 years, giving a yield of 6.2% per annum.

It was not as good as STI ETF, which probably yield 9% p.a. (or thereabout) during the same period. But it was a satisfactory yield.

I would be withdrawing my investment and closing my account.

Tan Kin Lian

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Mis-selling of life insurance policy

This case occured many years ago. A Chinese educated lady approached me for help. An insurance agent had advised her to invest $50,000 in a life insurance policy, as it gives a better return compared to CPF.

Later, she was told that the policy had lapsed, as she did not pay the second year premium of $50,000. All the money invested earlier was lost.

She was not aware that she had bought an annual premium policy with an annual premium of $50,000.

She complained about the mis-selling to the insurance company but they rejected her complaint.

I helped her to write the letter of demand for the money to be refunded to her, as it was a clear case of mis-selling. A few months later, she told me that she got the full refund.

I asked her to make a donation to FISCA. She asked - how much? I said it was up to her - $200, $500 or $1,000.

Guess how much did she donate to FISCA?

You can find the answer here:

Do your part of the work

Someone approached me for help. He bought an integrated Shield plan and went for an expensive operation in a private hospital costing $60,000.

He had checked with the insurance agent and was assured that the operation would be fully covered. He had the integrated plan and the rider that covers the co-payment.

After discharge, he submitted the hospital bill for reimbusrement. The bill was rejected on the grounds that the policy had lapsed and when he reinstated the policy, he did not declare that he had approached the polyclinic for some medical checkup.

The case was quite complicated. There were many letters and documents for me to read.

I agreed to help the claimant as his sister diligently organized all the documents for me to review. She also helped me to draft the appeal letter.

Without the sister's help, I would have to spend many hours to understand the issues and to draft the letter of appeal.

I have turned down other requests for help because the the person asking for help was too lazy to do his part of the work. He gave confusing and inadequate information to me, and would have required me to spend many hours of my time.

If they had approached a lawyer, they would have to pay more than $1,000 in legal fees, as lawyers charged $300 for each hour, or maybe more.

Here is the lesson. If you expect someone to help you, you must do your part of the work to organise the information so that the person who is helping you do not have to spend too much time. You have to respect his time.

Two serious diseases affecting Singapore

At last, Singapore had introduced a mobile app for car park payments.

While we should all welcome this development, we must also realize that it shows clearly a serious disease that has inflicted Singapore for decades.

What is this disease?

Have you wondered why it took so long for this mobile app to appear? It has been actively used in other cities under more difficult situations.

We had a HDB/URA parking coupons system for a few decades. It would have been logical, and simple, for HDB/URA to change to a mobile app a few years ago.

Well, nothing moves in Singapore until the prime minister says so. And when the prime minister makes an announcement, things can move very quickly. In just a few months.

Is this not a serious disease? Are we going to do nothing until the prime minister says so? Is there no room for innovation and creativity? Are our administrators unable to see how to introduce change to make life better for every one?

Some cynics wil say that they do not want to make the change, because HDB/URA are benefiting from the large cash float when motorists pay for the coupons in advance. Furthermore, the earn the cash whent he coupons are lost or are not used.

This is another serious disease. Are our public bodies so focused on making money, even if it is done at the expense of the public and at high cost to the nation? You can imagine the unnecessary work, and the related expenses that has to be done in selling the coupons, accounting for the cash payments, and in cleaning up the tabs from the coupons.

If I am not wrong, the public administrators have KPIs that determine their performance and perhaps their bonuses. If they increase the revenue and profits for their agencies, they show a better KPI. If they introduce cost to the country and trouble for the public, it is not reflected negatively in their KPI.

For this reason, I have been strongly against the use of KPI to measure performance and bonuses for the public sector. I think it is a very bad idea.

I hope that our prime minister realises the two serious diseases that have hampered Singapore for the past few decades. I believe that he is intelligent enough to know what I am saying.

Tan Kin Lian

Win these prizes

Here are a few useful books. You can buy them for a few dollars at the online shop. However, you can save your money and earn these books as prizes when you vote in The Wisdom of The Crowd.

Click the link in the page to submit your votes on the current issues.

FAS Council

Is the technical director Sablon justified his comment about lack of support from the FAS council?

80% of the people voting in The Wisdom of The Crowd said that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) should be more open minded about Sablon's comments and should realize that there are underlying problems that need to be solved.

View the detailed votes in

Small traders peddle their wares

Should small traders be allowed to peddle their ware to make a living?

77% of the people voting in The Wisdom of the Crowd said that they should be given a licence for a small fee and be allowed to make a living. The remaining 23% disagree for two reasons.

When I was in Seoul, I saw many elderly and poor people make a living in this way.

You can view the details of the votes in

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