Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stressful but am looking for joy in it

I am indeed really stressful from now onwards but I will try my best to find joy in them, setting daily milestones and achieving them one by one.

I remembered the last time I broke down from stress was during my final year as a NUS undergraduate. Back then, I accelerated and took one additional module which happened to be a 5MC (normal is 4MC) module. Stress overwhelmed me and I actually made an abrupt decision to spend overnight in school, determined to complete an individual project, but slept in the end doing nothing. A call to my ex-girlfriend calmed my emotions. That was 4 years ago.

Stress sources are 1) 2 project milestones to be achieved by year end with the very much depleted working days due to 1-week long of ICT, 1-week long of course, 10 annual leaves to be cleared, 2) School work, 3) PMP Certification Exam, and responsibilities and commitments in assisting my mother to settle new house's administrative and logistics matters.

Seeking joy in seeing tasks to completion :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Product Review on CIMB StarSaver Account

A week before the official product launch of new Savings deposit account StarSaver Account by CIMB Bank Singapore, I was introduced to it by a friend's friend working in the bank. Back then, product description for the savings account was still not finalised and brief.

This week, CIMB Bank is to officially declare itself as the new entrant into Singapore's personal banking market, taking on incumbents with their latest so far most attractive personal savings deposit account in the market. CIMB StarSaver offers 1.2% p.a. interest but with a catch.
  • Minimum deposit S$5,000.
  • Monthly deposit of at least S$500
According to my friend's friend, if deposit in the bank account is maintained at S$11,000 or more, interest rate will be set at 1.2% p.a. without having to continue with the monthly deposit.

I personally feel this new deposit plan is good only if CIMB ATMs are more readily available in Singapore.

Monday, September 28, 2009

To recommend a stock for others is HARD++

To make a decision to buy a stock is already hard. To make recommendation on a stock for others is even HARDER.

I expect myself to come out with a recommendation and teach a friend how to make simple trades this coming Wednesday evening.

What should I do? I better declare some disclaimer.

S'pore firm sells all-terrain vehicle to UK for Afghanistan operations

From the title, it should not be difficult to guess which S'pore firm is involved in the deal.

S'pore firm sells all-terrain vehicle to UK for Afghanistan operations
[via]

Paper Cranes Productions Wedding Showcase 2008

Dirpy - Convert YouTube videos into MP3 for listening

Dirpy allows you to easily convert YouTube video to MP3 audio. Another useful feature Dirpy provides is the flexibility to rip only specific segment e.g. 1:00 to 2:00 minute.

Dirpy: YouTube to Mp3 Converter
http://www.dirpy.com/

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My answer to an interesting quote

I came across the below quote while reading a magazine.

“What does not kill me makes me stronger?”

Along my way back home, I seek my own answer to that question. Since the author used a very strong word “kill”, my answer has to be equally powerful, for Newton's third law of motion states “for every force there is an equal and opposite force”.

My answer is "Experential Learning".

Taylor Swift -- Love Story


This song is my latest FAVOURITE.

Taylor Swift - Love Story ( Official Music Video ) [BETTER QUALITY]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlbB7qt6v_0

Ayutthaya Itinerary

The below is the Ayutthaya itinerary I sent out to a friend recently.

Just for sharing.

Should visit

Wat Yai Chaimongkhon

You will find a reclining Buddha and a Buddha images lined up all wearing saffron robes. This is one of the must-go in Ayutthaya.

Ayutthaya Historical Park

For elephant ride (if you want)

Wat Mahathat

This is also where you can spot the famous tree that has grown around a Buddha head.

The Royal Palace and Wat Phra Si Sanphet

2 places but they are quite near to each other. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the largest temple in Ayutthaya, known for its row of chedis. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the top tourist spot in Ayutthaya. There are several other places around this area.

Royal Elephant Kraal and village

You can witness how elephants spend their typical day.

Lunch

I had my lunch at "Siam Restaurant". It is located just opposite of Wat Mahathat. The restaurant is air-conditioned and price of food is very affordable (not restaurant price, around 100THB/pax with main and drinks). Their orange juice is served in a nice porcelain.

Can MISS
  • Chao Sam Phraya Museum
  • Japanese Village
  • Portuguese village

Translator for Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi collapsed during translation process

Translator for Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi actually collapsed during a translation process. The translator was Kadhafi very own brought-in translator, rather than those supplied by the United Nations. He needed his own translator because he has the habit of talking in his own dialects whereby no U.N. translators can understand, repeating phrases again and again, and sometimes mumbling in some gibberish language to himself.

The translator shouted "I just can’t take it any more" into the live microphone into his 75th minute of translator. At that point, the U.N.’s Arabic section chief, Rasha Ajalyaqeen, had to take over the translation duty for the final 20 minutes of Kadhafi's speech.

Lesson Learnt: Singapore did the right decision in not promoting the use of dialects.

Translator collapsed during Khadafy's rambling diatribe [via]

林峯 + 泳兒 -- 明天以后

明天以后粵語版和國語版都非常好聽。
難道好聽的歌曲都是悲傷的嗎?

林峯 + 泳兒 -- 明天以后 (粵語版)

林峯 + 泳兒 -- 明天以后 (國語版)

2009 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix Saturday Qualifying Results

The qualifying race for 2009 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix is out, with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton on pole, followed by RBR-Renault's Sebastin Vettel and Willims-Toyota's Nico Rosberg.

Nico Rosberg is already being labelled as one of the hot favourites for Marina Bay's street circuit, having performed very well last season. The Q3 race was in fact cut short after Brawn-Mercedes's Rubens Barrichello crashed in the final 26 seconds before the chequered flag was due to fall. The crash soon brought the red flag up, halting the race, and everyone who started later and behind Hamilton had reasons to feel disappointed. With only 26 seconds remaining, Q3 would not be restarted and the grid would be formed on the basis of their first run times. If the red flag was not up and Barrichello did not crash, drivers behind Hamilton like Nico Rosberg could have a high chance of finishing off at a faster timing than Hamilton. So, Rubens Barrichello may indirectly had helped Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix.

Looking at the grid conditions, I thought Singapore's street circuit is still very bumpy despite several calls for improvements. I hope Singapore will improve and make the circuit less dangerous the next time round.

I predict Nico Rosberg as the hot contender to be the Singapore Grand Prix champion for 2009 season.

2009 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix Saturday Qualifying Results
Pos  Driver               Team
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault
3 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota
4 Mark Webber RBR-Renault
5 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes
6 Fernando Alonso Renault
7 Timo Glock Toyota
8 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber
9 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber
10 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes
11 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota
12 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes
13 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari
14 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari
15 Jarno Trulli Toyota
16 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
17 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari
18 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari
19 Romain Grosjean Renault
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes

Pondering over a change in environment

Should I or should I not go for a change in environment? The current environment I am in is making me lazy.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Singaporean wages decreased for the past 3 years, while cost of living shot up

The Prices and Earnings 2009 survey by the UBS Swiss bank concludes Singapore's wages to have decreased for the past 3 years while cost of living has shot up.

In all rankings by UBS, Singapore came out low.
  • Singapore’s wages after taxes and social security contributions rank us at 41 out of 73;

  • Singapore ranks as the 15th most expensive city, after factoring in the cost of rent (a major expenditure for Singaporeans);

  • Our workers’ purchasing power is ranked 50 out of 73;

  • Three years ago a Singaporean worker had to work 22 minutes to earn enough to afford a Big Mac. Today that same worker has to work for 36 minutes, because his wages have decreased and the cost of living has increased.
High costs and low wages in Singapore [via]

Beethoven Symphony No.9

Free Coke Promotion @ Bugis Junction’s McDonalds


From now till 31 Oct 2009, spend $10 in Bugis Junction and enjoy a free 16oz Coca Cola from McDonald’s #01-66 . All you need to do is to present your purchase receipt to redeem!

Valid on same day of purchase. Limited to 1 redemption per receipt.

Free Coke Promotion @ Bugis Junction’s McDonalds [via]

Working time needed to buy a Big Mac

Singaporeans need to work 36mins in order to earn enough money to bite into a Big Mac.

Experts-Exchange Beta has got blogging feature

Wow! I just found out Experts-Exchange may be launching a blogging feature soon. This new feature is now in Experts-Exchange Beta site.

My EE Blog is here: http://beta.experts-exchange.com/blogs/hongjun/

印度麥可傑克森

So funny! This particular video was even joked by 吴宗宪 in one of his talkshow.

Pre Wedding Film "IMAGINE"


The above video is produced by renowned videographer and director, Santo (Susanto Widjaja). He had had just won 2 Australian Awards for the video.

Flight Trial Celebration at Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant

Yesterday, we had an informal self-sponsored mini celebration on the success of our very first flight trial for our project at VivoCity's Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant. The lunch was with my DSO colleagues - 1) my boss who was not so involved in the trial, 2) a colleague who was deployed at Lim Chu Kang, and 3) a colleague who was deployed at Pulau Tekong. The last time I patronized this German restaurant was about 1.5 years ago, with my ST colleagues.

This time round, we ordered Brotzeit's most famous German pork knuckles, Würstelplatte (authentic sausage platter with spicy chicken sausages, Nürnberger pork bratwurst, mini pork cheese sausages, weisswurst sausage and garlic sausage with sauerkraut and mustard), Brotzeitflade Speck (thin crust fladenbrot with belly bacon, onions, vine ripened cherry tomatoes, chili and mozarella cheese), and Original Munich Lager.

This second time at Brotzeit was definitely much better than my first time, mainly because of its purpose, despite I need not had to pay for my first visit.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Miss Singapore World 2009 Ris Low was charged due to credit card fraud

Ris Low, the newly crowned Miss Singapore World 2009, and who is made notorious for her substandard handling of questions during one of the interviews is now again on the news for the wrong reason. It is reported that Ris Low had earlier been charged and found guilty for credit card fraud. She was convicted of five charges of misappropriation, involving cheating using illegally obtained credit cards, and impersonating their users' identities.

It is now unclear whether Miss Low will be allowed to leave Singapore to take part in December's Miss World 2009. I really hope NOT because she will be a disgrace to Singaporeans.

Guilty of credit card fraud [via]

Miniatur Wunderland - Largest model railway / railroad in the world

This is simply unbelievable. The "Miniature Wonderland" model railroad in Hamburg, Germany the largest in the world, covering 16,146 square feet of space with more than 10,000 train cars running around its 6.8 miles of HO scale track. Now, the makers of this huge layout have created a video that gives you a jaw-dropping look at the vast scope of this intricate work of art.

Its construction started in 2000, and is still underway, with a tiny airport due for completion by the end of this year. This is just the beginning — there are plans to double to layout by 2014. We especially like the Las Vegas portion, complete with dazzling LEDs lighting up the night.

You have to watch the new video to get the full impact of this remarkable achievement, which has taken in excess of 500,000 working hours to build. There's good reason why this is Germany 's most popular attraction, already visited by more than 5 million flabbergasted tourists.

I am impressed by the number of talents and ideas needed to get everything in place.

The Wonders of Technology - Windows Live Messenger

Spent 2 hours planning Bangkok and Ayutthaya trip for a friend

Just spent the past 2 hours changing my previous Bangkok-Ayutthaya itinerary for a friend.

Better carry on with my readings now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Anything can happen will happen

Murphy's Law says “Anything can happen will happen”. How true is that?

Today's flight started off and ended with lots of hiccups which is totally opposite from yesterday's far too perfect 5.6 hours of flight.

Weather was not ideal -- thunderstorms reported with cumulonimbus clouds advancing from the southern west regions, and many regions in Singapore heavy rained. Colour flag was red. If weather conditions did not improve, scheduled 1000hr take-off would be delayed and precious fixed flight time to be jeopardised. Singapore lived up to its reputation of erratic, unpredictable and fast-changing weather condition, clearing the sky in just an hour. At 0900hrs, all signals were cleared for flight.

While climbing up, we met with mild turbulence because of thick clouds, but everything was in control. I must say the turbulence felt was definitely rockier than any other turbulences felt on any commercial passenger planes. Smaller and lighter aircraft, lower flight altitude, and thick clouds after a thunderstorm, could be some of the contributing factors. In fact, even on level and in auto-pilot mode, I noticed the plane's speed, track angle and altitude were not constant.

Next came the hardware part. Hardware for the system (not the pilot's) to be run malfunctioned several times and each time, they had to be restarted. This was in contrast to yesterday's.

The last hiccup of the day was SCARY. We were then only at our 2nd hour out of our planned 5 hours of flight when the loadmaster came telling my colleague and I “RTB (Return to Base) and please get back to your seat and buckle up”. Very quickly, we grabbed our aircraft food, relayed the message back to the 2 system engineers, before getting back to our seats and got ourselves buckled up with the 5-points safety belt, without knowing what had actually happened. The 2 system engineers rushed to the cockpit to question what's the reason for “RTB”. Through the PA system, the pilot announced “Engine Fault”.

I made several quick observations on the expressions of the 2 system engineers and my the other software engineer colleague. Upon hearing the “Engine Fault” announcement, the 2 system engineers looked apprehended and worried stiff, while the software engineer looked calm and he could actually still joke around, finishing his lunch. Like the software engineer, I was also pretty calm. Why the difference? I spent my 40 minutes of ride from Changi Air Base back to workplace searching for the answer and I'd got one - a possible one. The 2 system engineers were both married with kids and family but the software engineer and myself have no such commitments. By making this deduction, I do not mean I don't treasure my life, and in fact, I treasure my life and everyone around me a lot. I just thought there may be some correlation, somehow.

Why am I still here writing this entry? The pilot and the co-pilot managed to bring everyone back safely on earth without major problems 30 minutes later. Only when the plane was stationary were we being told that the “Engine Fault” was due to the right hand side auto fuel indicator turned faulty. The 5 hours mission had to be aborted prematurely because, without the “auto” function, both the pilot and the co-pilot had to manually control the fuel usage and that would need a lot more attention and concentration on their side. Another reason given was, no risk should be taken because no one could guarantee if the minor indicator fault could lead to a more major fault later.

So, here I am -- alive and kicking! Oh ya, I just received a SMS, informing me of a half day morning off-in-lieu for tomorrow for the past 2 days' of hard work, however, I am not going for the off because I have a second project to worry about.

My next flight should be around end of October.

Murphy's Law of “Anything can happen will happen” really still stands even TODAY!

HP Abandons EDS Brand

Big news? YES!

HP Wednesday announced it would leave the EDS brand behind and rename its IT services provider business HP Enterprise Services. EDS, giant service provider, was acquired by HP years ago in a bid to expand its business to compete against the likes of IBM.

HP Abandons EDS Brand [via]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

THIS IS FUN!

Read below!

This is fun!
¡unɟ sı sıɥʇ

Manga artist Yoshito Usui, author of Crayon Shin-chan (クレヨンしんちゃん, 蜡笔小新), found dead

Yoshito Usui, the famous Japanese manga artist responsible for the widely exported "Crayon Shin-chan (クレヨンしんちゃん, 蜡笔小新)" series, was found dead this weekend after an apparent hiking accident. The death is classified as an accident, ruling out foul play or suicide.

R.I.P. Yoshito Usui.

Manga artist Usui found dead [via]

Monday, September 21, 2009

A mysterious series for H.G. Wells

Google gave an explanation to the recent mysterious doodle on Google Search page below.

A mysterious series for H.G. Wells [via]

Warren Buffett, the missing voicemail and the spectacular collapse of Lehman

Could a lost voicemail have changed the course of financial history? It's conceivable, in the case of Lehman Brothers and the legendary stockpicker Warren Buffett.

Warren Buffett, the missing voicemail and the spectacular collapse of Lehman [via]

Sunday, September 20, 2009

To-Do List for long weekend

To-Do List for long weekend (started since Thu 3pm)
  1. Draft presentation slides for CS5212 (my part)

  2. Read 2 papers (backlog) for CS5212

  3. Read 2 papers for CS5212

  4. Search for 2 papers to be used for CS5212 term paper

  5. Get the 24+9 pages of CS5261 readings printed and read

  6. Start preparing for my long due PMP certification exam (I re-scheduled it to Oct 29)

  7. Participate in Experts-Exchange and get at least 3,000 expert points to reclaim my Premium Membership.
This post is constantly updated (added if necessary)

Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum 2009


I am interested in the coming “Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum 2009” and have signed up for it. Hopefully, the balloting process will register me.

Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum 2009
http://krmf.nuspa.org/

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Market Outlook: Bulls for the past week and the week to come

I personally like the below piece of article. It sort of sums up what had happened the past one week and predict what's to be expected in the week to come.

I managed to snap up defensive ST Engineering stock at a 3% discount on Friday closing. Hopefully, the stock will grow strongly.

Monday Morning Outlook: Bulls Remain Firmly in Command [via]

Requalified for FREE Premium Services from Experts-Exchange


Many months of inactivity resulted in my free premium membership from Experts-Exchange revoked. Now, I have finally requalified for the premium services after answering 3 questions and earning more than 3,000 expert points for this month. I first joined Experts-Exchange since Sep 1999 and that's a good 10 years.

EE started off as a 100% free service, made up of several experts determined in helping one another, who were always dedicating significant amount of their time and effort to make EE experience a pleasant one. Strong sense of belonging in the EE community created an excellent base for sharing of knowledge. I got to know a few friends from EE myself. Back then, the number of expert points awarded for every question was in the range of 0 to 1,200.

If I remember correctly somewhere in year 2004, EE began making itself searchable on Google and had its business model changed with profit as one of their top priority. With the huge inflow of new participants, EE saw the business opportunity and began charging for Premium services. Once signed up, they are entitled to unlimited question points and with that, many questions irregardless of their difficulty levels are now maximum 500 question points. If such questions are answered and accepted with an A grade, more than 2,000 expert points can easily be earned. Many veteran experts are unhappy that their hard-to-earn and often took more than 2 years of more than 1,000,000 expert points can now easily be attained by the new rules of the game. My highest achieved ranking in EE Hall of Fame of 51st was overtaken and knocked out of top 100 in just 2 months. I ain't happy either.

My Experts-Exchange Participation Record
3,415  Questions Answered
9,081 Questions Participated In
25,899 Comments Posted

Current EE Hall of Fame Position 162
Best EE Hall of Fame Position 51

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http://www.experts-exchange.com/M_237966.html

Malaysia trying to claim chilli crab and hainanese chicken rice Malaysian

Malaysia is trying to claim popular dishes like chilli crab, hainanese chicken rice, nasi lemak, laksa and bak kut teh Malaysian. I thought this idea from the Malaysian Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen highfalutin.

What makes them think these dishes theirs when chilli crab and hainanese chicken rice taste much better in Singapore?

I quote from a post in today's Straits Times which says if Malaysia claims these popular dishes theirs, then can we say Malaysia stole Ramly Burger from the Americans?

Laksa and nasi lemak among our pride, says Yen Yen [via]

Realistic World = The Matrix

"The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it." -- The Matrix, Morpheus

Mythbusting: Frequent Rebalancing improves portfolio returns

An interesting article published by Fundsupermart on "Mythbusting: Frequent Rebalancing improves portfolio returns". It employs a statistical approach to determine frequent rebalancing of portfolio actually improves return is a myth or a truth . The result of the study seems to conclude that the more frequent the rebalancing is, the less profitable the portfolio will be.

However, the study did point out a fidelity - transaction costs are not considered. If transaction costs were to factor in, more frequent rebalancing will definitely result in more transaction costs and thus significantly lower profit. Likewise, transaction will also result in smaller gains for annual rebalancing portfolio too.

YouTube Resume from where you left off

YouTube added a simple but useful feature a couple of days ago to allow a video to be resumed from where it left off before it is closed. This resume feature will apply only to videos that are longer than 20 minutes and if you've watched more than one minute of the video and there are more than three minutes left.

Excerpt from YouTube Release Notes: 9/17/09:

Resume where you left off: Let's say you're watching an epic (read: longer than 20 minutes) video, and you get distracted and click away. The next time you return to the video, it will resume where you left off watching, assuming you've watched more than one minute of the video and there are more than three minutes left.

YouTube Release Notes: 9/17/09 [via]

Best Global Brands List 2009

No surprises except I never knew clothing store chain H&M is ranked so highly at 21st this year.

Best Global Brands List 2009
http://www.interbrand.com/best_global_brands.aspx

Friday, September 18, 2009

Google Book Downloader Downloads Books to PDF

Google Book Downloader is small utility which allows you to save book as PDF from google to your local filesystem. This downloader will download fully any book from Google Books marked as 'Full view' and partially download any book from Google Books marked as 'Limited preview'. This tool should be a great hit for those who wish to read Google Books offline.

One prerequisite for Google Book Downloader is Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1.

Google Book Downloader [via]

Office Web Applications First Look

With the launch of the Office Web application Technical Preview, Chris Bryant (GPM for Office) gives us a first look at the details of the new free Office web applications and tells us the angle as compared to other similar applications like Google Docs. We get to see a demo of the Excel Web App, Powerpoint Web App, Word Web App, and the sharing capabilities. After the demo, Developers get some insight into what you can do with the Office Web apps.

To sign up for the beta version of Office Web Apps, visit
http://www.microsoft.com/Office2010

Learn more about Office Web Apps by visiting their Blog:
http://blogs.msdn.com/officewebapps

Land Banking investors in Singapore described as NAIVE

Land banking is an investment practice to purchase land and hold with the intention of profiting from the plot by selling it away.

I posted several articles on the perils of Land Banking as investment and the most recent one which was posted yesterday described that the case of possible fraud is now very true.

One interesting article on Wikipedia says,

"Many land banking companies target victims outside of the UK, particularly Canada, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia as residents of these countries are naive of the UK property market and UK planning regulations such as green belt zoning."

We are NAIVE!

Shares of suitmaker, Dalian Dayang Trands Co, soar because Buffett wears them

Billionaire Warren Buffett remarked that he wore suits made by China suitmaker, Dalian Dayang Trands Co, had resulted in the Chinese company's shares soared. In the financial world, anything can really happen. It's indeed a dynamic industry.

Buffett Praise of China Suit Maker Boosts Shares [via]

Increased holdings on ST Engineering yet again

I just made a last minute trade on 5:06pm for additional defensive ST Engineering shares after seeing it fallen more than 3%. Another reason for buying ST Engineering is to save the trouble in doing homework in picking stocks. Ooops!

The Bizarre Behaviour of Singaporeans

Edited to add in my own inputs in red

I read the below and agree with some of the points. The below observations are made by a German national who has lived in Singapore for 9 years Singaporean.
  1. 44 years of economic and material success have spawned some very strange behaviours among Singaporeans. They spent so much to buy a house or flat, furnished it up like a palace, but spent their time outside, most of the time at work. And the maids are the ones enjoying the million-dollar or multi-million-dollar assets.

    We Singaporeans are spending much time outside working for a living, paying off huge housing loans and savings for 2nd generation. For some, they have extra to spend on private car and seeing them depreciate as time passes. We have to accept all these in such a highly competitive inhabitation and still want to call Singapore our home.

  2. Then they pay so much, the highest in the world, for a car only to park at home. Too expensive to drive, too many ERPs and car park charges to pay. And they are encouraged to park their cars at home and take public transport, being cheaper and more convenient.

    Buying a car in Singapore is not difficult for we just need to sign on the dotted line to secure a loan. It is the usage of a car and driving it onto public roads that is killing many. Parking fees in shopping malls and ERP charges are the two main deterrences. I personally do not see a strong need in owning a personal car unless I have a family.

  3. And when Singaporeans travel, instead of seeing the places, they went shopping. The best part is that they would head for the cheapest bargains, buying stuff that they could get in Chinatown or pasar malam, at even cheaper prices. But they are still happy that they got a bargain.

    I am not shy to say Singaporeans including myself have the mentality of if we did not get something from the country, the trip would be a wasted one. That's what boost global economy isn't it? I prefer a trip to have a balance of sight-seeing and shopping.

  4. And while the heartlanders are busy trying to make a life here, being told to bust off if they are not happy, which they could not, the rich and presumably very happy and contented citizens are buying up properties overseas just in case they need to make that escape from this paradise.

    This is just another obvious evidence that hectic and fast moving Singapore city is not their preferred place for retirement.

  5. While many Singaporeans are thinking of jumping ship, or preparing to jump ship, hoards of new immigrants are rushing in to take their place in this paradise.

    The Singapore government wants us to embrace foreign talents and we really have to since the population of foreigners now make up 33%.

  6. And to top it all up, they keep complaining about the govt and all the policies that they found unpalatable, but come every election, they will vote and return the govt to power.

    The incumbent PAP will triumph unless the opposition parties can show their worth and get their policies/agendas conveyed without getting themselves implicated in court cases like SDP's Dr Chee Soon Juan.
Strange Singaporean behaviour

The Bizarre Behaviour of Singaporeans [via]

Marco Polo Marine shares surge too good to be true

Since Monday, Marco Polo Marine stock is seeing daily jump of more than 5% (almost daily) with it currently trading at 9.8% higher than yesterday's close. It looks too good to be true!

A decision was just made to sell off all Marco Polo Marine shares since it has not disappointed me and has given me near 50% profit. So, I just cannot resist my emotions after all.

What is Cognitive Dissonance Theory

What is Cognitive Dissonance Theory?

Unmet (i.e. disconfirmed) expectations will create psychological discomfort. When an individual receives ideas that are dissonant, he or she will try to reduce the discomfort by distorting one or both of the ideas to make them more consonant. Individuals adjust their perceptions of satisfaction to bring them more in line with their prior expectations and to reduce dissonance.

What is Disconfirmation Theory

I did a search on this interesting term "Disconfirmation Theory" after seeing it yesterday night from a magazine.

What is Disconfirmation Theory?
  • Predicts that unrealistically high expectations will result in lower levels of perceived benefit than those associated with realistic expectations.
  • The expectancy disconfirmation model of customer satisfaction focuses on the gap between performance and expectations.

Haze Outlook

Singapore, 16 September 2009 – Singapore has been experiencing slightly hazy conditions since yesterday. The Pollutant Standards Index was 55 in the 'Moderate' range on Tuesday (15 Sep 09). The 24-hour PSI at 4 pm today was 64, again in the 'Moderate' range.

Dry weather conditions have resulted in the escalation of fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra. The latest satellite pictures showed 66 hotspots in Sumatra, mainly in the provinces of Riau, Jambi and South Sumatra and 4 hotspots in Kalimantan. The low hotspot count for Kalimantan is due to cloud cover.

The prevailing southeasterly to southerly winds have brought some smoke haze from these fires in South Sumatra to Singapore. Slightly hazy conditions are likely to prevail for the next two days. However, an expected increase in shower activities in the region over the next few days may help to alleviate the smoke haze situation.

Haze Outlook from NEA [via]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Case on Land Banking is now REAL

Many times, I have mentioned the risk in Land Banking. It looks like the case against Land Banking is going to be "erupted" and brought to light soon.

As posted on a blog, several investors have attempted to withdraw their investment after 12 months with a certain rate of return as stipulated and agreed in the T&C. They exercised their option, but the land banking company refused to honour the promise. This case was presented to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) but the CAD advised them to engage a lawyer and to take a legal case. These investors soon approached their respective constituencies' MPs but these civil servants referred them to the CAD instead, playing passing baton game.

First world Singapore has far too much red tape and bureaucracy in the government sector and terribly lack of protection for investors. I wonder when will this be reported BIG on the news.

黎明 -- 堆積情感

One of the few nice oldies by 黎明

Hide your Windows from bosses

Don't want to get caught playing your favourite games, surfing entertainment news or chatting over instant messenger? With Don't Panic, you can now hide or minimize and open multiple programs with the click of a button. So you won't have to panic anymore.

Features of Don't Panic
  • Close, hide or minimize as many programs as you want using the BlackList (by executable filename or keywords present in the window title)
  • Open up to 3 programs (files) at the same time
  • Open files with a certain software (other then the one selected as default in Windows)
  • Predefined software paths (includes paths for all Windows games!)
  • Run Don't Panic! at Windows startup, block access to Windows Task Manager and mute master volume
  • Clear some system folders (Recent Files, Internet Explorer History, Typed URLs & Cache, Recycle Bin) for extra privacy
  • Panic Mode (complete with customizable size, position, transparency level and hotkey)
  • WebUpdate (complete with news) and statistic modules
  • User-friendly, multi-language UI (only English and Romanian are installed by default)
Don't Panic
http://sourceforge.net/projects/dont-panic/

Too auntie behaviour?

I was telling my colleagues that since yesterday, DSTA Science Park is selling mooncakes on offer. Meritus mooncakes were sold yesterday, Bengawan Solo today, Raffles Hotel tomorrow and next Friday, and so on. DSTA Depot Road is selling mooncakes from Raffles Hotel today.

Colleagues: Why do you know all these?
Me: I ask and listen
Colleagues: The other time during CNY on Bah Kwa and abalone you seems to know quite a bit too. Both DSO and DSTA offers.
Me: Erm.. I think I am too auntie.

Am I? Hahaha...

George Yeo on New Media to Build Trust

Minister George Yeo's remarks at the Singapore Blog Awards 2009 at the Supperclub on 16 Sept 2009. The minister himself is one of the earlier adopters of blogging and twitter.

“You can be sure, looking ahead, that those who succeed as bloggers or as websites or as web aggregators, they succeed over time because they have established a reputation of trust.”

My Destiny

I seriously do not have any idea what should be my next step. Do A or B are both NOs.

If it's your destiny, then it's yr destiny. Where can I find the resurrection magic wand? Guess I am just not good enough [Shrugged].

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Singapore PSI hits 64 today at 4pm

Singapore Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was 64 at 4pm today, which puts Singapore's air quality condition to moderate level. According to NEA, it looks like West region is experiencing the worst PSI. PSI level is expected to remain in moderate range for the next two days but may be improved with expected showers.

My speculation is that Singapore may perform cloud seeding to ensure haze does not result in visibility and operational issues on the coming Formula One (F1) race which is to be held in 10 days time.

For more updated PSI readings from NEA, visit http://app2.nea.gov.sg/psi.aspx.

My advice to those with rhinitis allergy, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and chronic lung diseases to avoid staying outdoors.

Windows 7 Professional-English (32 bit and 64bit) available for my download

Yippee! Windows 7 Professional-English (32 bit and 64bit) is now available for my download and most importantly, it's FREE and ORIGINAL!

Downloading in progress...

I am worth S$700,000

My net worth for next Wednesday and Thursday flight trial is set at S$700,000. I wonder what's its equivalent premium for that level of coverage.

Sitting on comfortable profits on recent stocks for doing my homework

The 4 most recent stocks (since Jul 09) I have on hand are currently sitting on reasonably handsome profits. They are possible due to recent improved investors' sentiments and more detailed meticulous due homework conducted before investing.

They are currently performing at a gain of 31.25% (Marco Polo Marine), 12.65% (MapleTree Logistics Trust), 6.77% (Koh Brothers) and 4.57% (SMRT).

PM Lee says the interest of citizens will always come first

I am not convinced.

Speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the NTU Student’s Union Ministerial Forum Forum Held on 15 Sep 2009
[via]

Just how difficult it was to cancel an AOL account

Reading and watching how difficult it is to cancel an AOL account, I feel so much blessed to be staying in Singapore, dealing with the not so difficult customer service officers here.

The below 2 articles including comments in them are MUST-READ!

Canceling AOL? Just Offer Your Firstborn [via]
AOL Said, 'If You Leave Me I'll Do Something Crazy' [via]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I am insured the most next week

So in the end, I ended up being the one with the highest insurance coverage for next week's flight trial. Besides the standard coverage as the rest, my parent company is insuring me with an additional S$200,000 coverage.

I heard I am also entitled for a S$100 to S$200 flight trial allowance for the 4 hours flight. Better find out more tomorrow.

Knocking senses into UEFA with "financial fair play"

UEFA president Michel Platini's plan to make clubs live within their means has been approved by European soccer's governing body.

The new rules, dubbed "financial fair play," will in principle ban clubs from spending more than their revenue.

Platini "financial fair play" approved by UEFA [via]

History of the PDA

The below video was shown in today's lecture for a brief intoduction on the history of PDA.

Google Fast Flip - News Scanning Tech

Google recently launched a new web application named Google Fast Flip. Google Fast Flip is a web application designed to help users quickly browse a number of sites, mainly news related. It combines qualities of print and the Web, with the ability to "flip" through pages online as quickly as flipping through a magazine.

Visit Google Fast Flip now at http://fastflip.googlelabs.com/.

Totally drained (Battery flat)

After spending 2 hours working on my assignment, which is due tomorrow (or today 15 Sep 1830hr), with full concentration, I am already half dead. With 50% remaining energy left, I logged onto IVLE forum to participate and attempted to comment on each and every single thread! That took me yet another 2 hours. The last time I was so active participating in IVLE was during my Uni days. I remember I was so interested in a module, CS2281 - Unix Programming, that I answered EVERY single question being posted.

Alright, I am totally dead.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Investing for the long term in high dividend yield value stocks

I have been advocating the benefits and importance in investing for the long term, especially in high dividend yield value stocks. My earlier strategy in buying and selling in short span of time was mainly for quick contra gains and I thought can be risky at times - certainly not for the weak heart.

For a safer and more stable investments, I believe in buy-and-hold strategy. Looking through financial reports of companies is extremely important to have an idea of their financial health, cash flows, future growth, corporate governance and dividend yields (both historical and future) before committing monies in any company.

The below article discusses just why buy-and-hold strategy works. I share the same sentiments.

What's Right with Buy-and-Hold? [via]

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fed up with Challenger VERY poor service

I am totally disappointed and fed up with Challenger VERY EXTREMELY poor service. This is my third encounter with them and all ended up I feeling badly affected. I have decided to write in to them and demand an explanation from a manager.

First encounter: Sembawang Shopping Centre customer service staff
Second encounter: Funan Centre customer service staff, Mr Liu
Third encounter: Funan Centre customer service staff, Mr Liu

I shall do so after I am done with my assignment.

MediShield should cover congenital illnesses

Just when the U.S. Obama Administration is pushing for healthcare initiatives, making sure all U.S. citizens will never be denied insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition, Singapore public insurance Medishield has denied coverage to its citizen due to congenital illnesses.

MediShield should cover congenital illnesses [via]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Removing Splinters using bananas

It is said that banana peel can be used to removing splinters. To remove splinters, simply tape a piece of the peel over the splinter and the enzymes do the job by helping to dislodge the splinter and heal the wound. This means you need to bring along banana peel if you are prone to splinter wound [LOL].

7 Ways to Reuse a Banana Peel [via]

Weekly Address: Losing Insurance Can Happen to Anybody

2 important points raised by U.S. President Obama in his latest Weekly Address.
  • And I’ve heard from Americans with insurance who thought that "the uninsured" always referred to someone else – but between skyrocketing costs and insurance company practices; they’re beginning to worry that they could find themselves uninsured too.

  • In the United States of America, no one should have to worry that they’ll go without health insurance – not for one year, not for one month, not for one day.

UOB Life Assurance up for sale?

I heard this is still a speculation.

UOB Life Assurance up for sale?
Business Times
12 Sep 2009


UNITED Overseas Bank is selling its life insurance unit, according to sources involved in the auction, in an effort to shed a non-core asset and raise up to US$500 million in the process.

Sources say HSBC is advising the company on the sale of the business, known as UOB Life Assurance. Prudential plc is among the global insurers bidding for the company, sources say, with first-round bids arriving a few weeks ago.

When contacted by BT, a UOB Life spokesman said: 'We do not comment on market rumours. However, should there be any development, UOB Life policyholders will be among the first to be informed.'

A Prudential spokesman in London said the company would not comment on market rumour or speculation about specific companies. But he added Prudential would evaluate any opportunity against strict financial criteria with a view to delivering value for shareholders. -- Reuters

Rich son poor son

3 of the old parents were proud of their children's careers. However, these children did not have time for their parents. "They were very busy" each said. The last woman did not talk much of her son. Her son was not a high flyer like the others. But her son has time for his mother. The other 3 women were in awe. They would prefer that their children spend time with them.

World turns disapproving eyes on Singapore banquet

World turns disapproving eyes on Singapore banquet
ERIC ELLIS
September 8, 2009


WERE every high school as wonderful as Singapore's United World College.

Each morning, a convoy of chauffeur-driven Mercedes, BMWs and SUVs sweep up to the expansive campus, dropping well-shod students dangling all manner of modish teenage bling; mobile phones, computers, designer this and that. The sumptuous grounds are more suggestive of a five-star resort than a secondary school.

With yearly fees of more than $40,000, UWC is where Singapore's well-heeled foreign residents send their kids. That's the common or garden expat professionals on an Asian posting, as well as Tay Za, regarded by Washington as bagman to the Burmese junta. Tay Za's teenage boy Htet is dropped off in a chauffeur-driven Lamborghini, as his father evades US sanctions.

Some teachers are disquieted by all this but Singapore seems to subscribe to a ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy on where money comes from. In recent years, Singapore has actively sought to become Asia's Switzerland, the discreet depository of the super-rich, however they made their money. That led to a boom in private banking, with an attendant boom in property and high-end services for this monied elite, including education.

While the vast majority of Singaporean depositors are squeaky-clean, as anywhere, some are not. The Burmese junta banks in Singapore and the money of some of North Korea and Zimbabwe's potentates is widely thought to be salted away here.

The big money comes from Indonesia, whose tycoons have regarded Singapore as a refuge from volatility at home. The two countries have no extradition treaty and there's good reason for it to remain that way. Merrill Lynch estimated a third of Singapore's 60,000-odd millionaires were Indonesian, making the city-state Jakarta's affluent northern suburb. Re-elected on an anti-corruption ticket, Jakarta's Yudhoyono Government suspects a good few of its countrymen in Singapore have salted away tarnished money there.

But while markets were roaring, no one really much cared.

Singapore's private client relationship managers (RMs) were pushing high-margin exotic derivative products created by their investment banks, and the rich got richer. The atmosphere was perhaps best exemplified by the appearance of UBS executive director James Tulley, known to friends as ''Tulley Tubby'', in Singapore Tatler magazine boasting about his 30 pairs of spectacles and 100 pairs of shoes.

But the financial crisis changed everything. It devastated values, banks and depositors, and Western governments sought to crack down on tax havens and regimes reluctant to adequately disclose their financial affairs. Earlier this year, Singapore was threatened with a blacklist of financial shelters compiled by the G20. Germany's Angela Merkel, Britain's Gordon Brown, France's Nicolas Sarkozy and the new US president Barack Obama linked arms against international tax havens and secretive financial regimes, seeking scalps to make up for their own economies' failings.

Now the Europeans are pressing Singapore and other financial centres to open their books. Just 3 per cent to 5 per cent of Singapore's private banking clients are regarded as European, most of them thought to be Russian. That's incidental in the private banking scene in Singapore but the implications beyond Europe are acute.

What Singapore doesn't want is the same rules as the EU and the US. It also doesn't want to be singled out among Asian financial centres if Hong Kong doesn't face the same rules. But Singapore cherishes a self-styled reputation as an exemplary international corporate citizen, operating by globally accepted norms.

Complicating the picture is a spate of court actions in Singapore's courts where the big Asian tycoons Singapore loves are at war with big international banks it also covets over who's responsible for the massive GFC trading losses in their private accounts. Several cases involve ''accumulators'' which involve banks signing clients to a long program of buying stocks, often bank stocks, at fixed discounted prices. That was great when Citibank was trading at $90 and the client bought shares at $45, but not much fun when Citi shares slumped to under $10, but the contracted accumulators kept, well, accumulating at $45. Banks claim caveat emptor, but no wonder clients dub the contracts ''I kill you later''.

Private banking consultant Roman Scott of Calamander Capital says private banks are in denial over the extent of the problem. And, he says, Singapore faces a tricky dilemma. He likens Indonesia and countries like it to diners in a restaurant where various regulators, unfamiliar with the menu, look to the smaller European table and chorus ''We'll have what they're having.'' And, as it struggles to again economically re-invent itself, Singapore is hoping everyone somehow is well fed.

Eric Ellis writes for Forbes from Asia.

Do not show your iPhone to Microsoft CEO Ballmer

In the recent Microsoft 2009 Company Meeting, a Microsoft employee from the Windows group was "caught" taking photo of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer using a Apple iPhone. Upon seeing it, Ballmer grabbed the Apple popular camera phone from the employee and made some funny remarks as everyone booed. Then he put it on the ground and pretended to stomp on it, before walking away.

Rule No. 1: Hide the iPhone from Ballmer at the Microsoft meeting [via]

Finally people are more understanding

I woke up recalling what was being discussed during yesterday's meeting. In the meeting, issues of manpower were raised and they acknowledged a risk in my part exist. They understand it is not possible for me to contribute to the project fully if I am also participating 100% in a second project.

Though this manpower issue was raised and discussed, I know nothing will be done to decrease my workload. I understand the many administrative constraints facing them but what I always demanded for was their understanding and I got them now.

Facebook Lite: Lighter version of Facebook


Facebook this week rolled out Facebook Lite, a stripped down version of its site largely aimed at users with slower connections. I know of another method to access Facebook faster is to use their mobile version Facebook Mobile.

Facebook Lite
http://lite.facebook.com/

Interesting Warren Buffett Quote on Diversification

“Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.” -- Warren Buffett

Efficient PDA user once again

I was an inefficient PDA user without a stylus pen for slightly more than a month. Now, I am back to being an efficient PDA user once again.

THANK YOU for the stylus pen.

Colleague selling his car for a very unique reason

I was talking to this colleague of mine 2 days ago when I learnt that he intends to sell off his car for a very unique reason - so that he can have more time reading. His rationale is ever since he owns a car, his time for reading is limited since he cannot drive and read at the same time.

This colleague of mine is a true genius. So far, I really don't know of anything that he has no knowledge of. Knowledge from areas like engineering, computer science, market risk analysis, mathematics, astrology, biology, religion studies, history, and many more, all seem to be part of him. I believe he is the only one in my workplace who is allowed to sleep officially at work on his personal safari bed without being "questioned".

Impressed!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphony 40 in G min KV 550

China-made Losang-branded laptops at COMEX 2009 come with pirated Windows

55 China-made Losang-branded laptops selling at COMEX 2009 were found to be installed with unlicensed Microsoft Windows XP Professional software. This incident is going to further tarnish the already negative image of China-made products.

Microsoft Singapore urges consumers to be wary of illegal software [via]

Flight confirmed

After so many trials and discussions, the first flight for my project is now finally confirmed and scheduled for take off on 23 Sep. There remains one, though small but is in fact very important, piece of the jigzaw not settled - insurance coverage.

Am I excited? YES I am! I wonder how it would feel like when the aircraft does its "S" course and tight bending. Hopefully I can still stand firm when the aircraft disembark.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Geronimo Stilton - Best-selling children's book series

I was introduced to a new children's book series Geronimo Stilton by a friend. From my friend, Geronimo Stilton is now one of the best-selling children's book series.

The books I remember reading when I was a little kid were Enid Blyton, Famous Five and the Hardy Boys.

BTW, I am not reading Geronimo Stilton.

Free laptop for doing freelance

I got myself a free laptop from my boss for doing freelance :)

Embeddable Google Document Viewer

This is a very nice tip! This tip tells us how to embed PDF or PPT files online in a webpage.



<iframe src="http://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/papers/google.pdf&embedded=true" style="width:480px; height:400px;" frameborder="0">
</iframe>

Embeddable Google Document Viewer [via]

Google Maps and Hasbro launches Monopoly City Streets


Google Maps and Hasbro team up for an enormous game of Monopoly. Monopoly City Streets, which launches on Wednesday, allows users to compete in a live, worldwide version of the popular game, creating the biggest Monopoly tournament ever played. Players will literally be able to buy any street in the world, and compete with every other player on the "board". Everyone starts with 3 million Monopoly dollars, and can build not only hotels and houses but also football stadiums, castles and skyscrapers.

Monopoly City Streets [via]

Kennedy’s Letter to Obama

Below is the letter from the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy sent to President Obama on the need for changes to the health care system, as released by the White House on Wednesday. I see both Kennedy and Obama as two true dedicated leaders to public service. I admire their tireless days and nights in placing public interests as their top priority despite being paid many times less than what the many cabinet ministers are earning in Singapore.

May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat - that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family's health will never again depend on the amount of a family's wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign- and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America's behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend- and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,

[Ted]


Kennedy’s Letter to Obama [via]

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Startup Invents Anti-Theft Tag for Smartphones

Looks rather cool.


Startup Invents Anti-Theft Tag for Smartphones [via]

What is "Economic Rent"?

I came across this term "Economic Rent" when I was reading an Economics book on a bus today.

From the Google, the definition of "Economic Rent" is as below:
  • Economic rent is the difference between what a factor of production is paid and how much it would need to be paid to remain in its current use.

  • The difference between the benefit and the opportunity cost.

Memory Lane on Presbyterian High School by a friend of mine

I came across a video shot by a secondary school friend on Presbyterian High School, 3 days before the school was torn down to make way for a new building. The video did bring back some memories, with familiar background captured in the video. The video was filmed as part of his polytechnic school project.

Memory Lane (1/2)


Memory Lane (2/2)

MAS responds to feedback on sale of unlisted investment products

MAS responds to feedback on sale of unlisted investment products
ChannelNewsasia.com
9 Sep 2009

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it will ban the use of the term "capital or principal protected", or any form of the term, in all disclosure documents and marketing materials for unlisted investment products sold to retail investors.

It said this is due to a lack of an agreed definition of the term, which would be clear and easily understood by investors.

This was one of the changes highlighted in MAS' response to feedback on a recent consultation paper, which reviewed the sale and marketing of unlisted investment products.

The Consultation Paper on the Review of the Regulatory Regime Governing the Sale and Marketing of Unlisted Investment Products was published on March 12.

Unlisted investment products include debentures and unit trusts which are not traded on an approved exchange, and life insurance policies.

The central bank will also impose restrictions on marketing and advertising materials.

These include guidelines on the font size, which must be a minimum of 10 point Times New Roman, and restrictions on the use of graphics or words that are inconsistent with the nature or risks of the product.

To offer more timely disclosure, MAS will also require issuers to provide semi-annual and annual reports on unlisted investment products with tenures of 12 months or longer.

They must also disclose "material changes" to all unlisted investment products regardless of tenure. MAS said ongoing disclosures can be made online and it will provide more details on how this can be implemented later.

The central bank will also develop guidelines on the format and information to be included in the semi-annual and annual reports, which will be put up for consultation in the first quarter of 2010.

Another change is that issuers have to inform investors of the bid or redemption prices of each unlisted product publicly and regularly. This is to give investors an indication of the price at which they can exit from their investments.

But MAS noted that this is only an indicative price and may not be the actual exit price. Issuers are not obligated to provide an exit mechanism for investors.

However, issuers must ensure that their representatives are competent in selling complex investment products.

In light of that, MAS said both new and existing representatives will have to pass the new Capital Markets and Financial Advisory Services (CMFAS) module for complex products before they are allowed to sell them.

Transitional arrangements will be made for existing representatives when the new model is implemented in the first half of 2010.

MAS added that it will also introduce a cooling period of seven days for unlisted debentures with tenures longer than three months.

The central bank will publish the second part of its response to the public feedback in the 4th quarter of 2009. It will cover areas like remuneration structures for the sale of investment products and risk rating of retail investment products, among others.

MAS bans use of "Capital Protected"

MAS bans use of capital protected
The Business Times
9 Sep 2009

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has published the first set of new rules that it plans to implement to change the way financial institutions here treat customers in response to the recent scandal over mis-selling in the industry.

The 19-page document released yesterday details MAS's response to feedback it received on changes it proposed in March to regulations governing the sale of unlisted investment products. Unit trusts, life insurance policies - including investment-linked insurance plans - structured deposits, and debentures such as structured notes fall into this category.

MAS will ban firms from using 'capital protected', 'principal protected', or similar terms to describe investment products. Such adjectives have been widely used here in the past to market structured products that promised to return at maturity at least the initial sum invested.

But these promises were based on the design of a product - typically using embedded derivatives - rather than a binding guarantee by the issuer. When the financial crisis struck last year, many investors cried foul when the 'protection' crumbled, saddling them with large losses.

Yesterday, MAS said that marketing and advertising materials should not suggest that a product 'is, or is comparable to, a bank deposit', or that there is little risk of an investor losing his principal or not achieving a stated rate of return.

In addition, promotional materials should not 'give the impression that an investor can profit without risk' or bury information in footnotes 'if such presentation would cause difficulty to an investor in understanding the product', it added. Information in advertisements and footnotes must be in a font size of at least 10-point Times New Roman - slightly bigger than this text.

As widely expected, tellers at banks and finance companies will be banned from referring customers to staff selling investment products, unless customers themselves ask for information on such products.

'As a general principle, MAS strongly discourages all financial institutions from actively promoting investment products to customers who visit their premises without the intention to purchase investment products,' MAS said.

From now on, issuers of all unlisted investment products will be obliged to inform investors of any 'material changes' that may affect the risks or returns of their investment, similar to the disclosure requirements for securities listed on the Singapore Exchange.

For products lasting a year or more, issuers must also update investors with reports at least twice a year. MAS said it will publish suggestions on what these reports should contain early next year.

It will also require issuers to put up indicative prices of investment products regularly on their websites, to give investors an idea of the price at which they can sell their investments.

And firms selling unlisted debentures such as structured notes with tenures longer than three months must now give buyers a 'cooling-off' period of seven days during which investors can cancel their purchase without paying sales charges or commissions.

In future, firms will also be required to include a 'product highlights sheet' summarising the key features and risks of a product when marketing it to customers. MAS said it has formed a workgroup to develop the content and format of such summary documents.

David Gerald, president of the Securities Investors Association of Singapore, which represents retail investors here, welcomed the changes.

'It's really a positive move,' he said. 'But the responsibility is still with the financial institutions and their staff to carry out ethical practices.'

And investors 'must not invest with their eyes closed', he added. 'If they don't understand an investment, they should walk away.'

Distributors of investment products, including firms that sell products created by other firms, will be required to put in place formal policies to assess each new product and its suitability for targeted customer segments before selling it, MAS said.

Several other proposals, including those on pay structures for financial advisers selling investment products and a definition of complex investment products, need further study, MAS said. It plans to publish a detailed response to industry feedback on these proposals later this year.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Why is price of Gold rising?

Just today, price of precious metal gold has risen to US$1,000 an ounce as the dollar falls. A friend of mine asked me why is gold price rising? My answer to him was, "When printing of money results in dollar depreciation, people will move to safer haven like gold. Many central banks may be expected to give up the dollar if the talk of a new currency pass through.".

To prove my point, I made a search and found the below very interesting article. It talks on the reason why gold price is rising and its likelihood that it may even hit US$2,000 per ounce within the next 2 to 3 years. However, I personally am not very keen on gold investing unless its price falls back near to US$800 before I am comfortable.

The Case for Gold Today [via]

Monday, September 07, 2009

Survived meeting marathon but was left dehydrated

I managed to survive today's meeting marathon from 0900hrs to 1730hrs in a "cold" room but was left feeling dehydrated after realizing I had not had enough water. What goes out must come back in. I left the meeting earlier because I have a lecture to attend to, right after I had presented my part, before it ended officially at 1845hrs.

It is a long day with only two 5-minutes break, one in the morning and the second in the afternoon. Pizza was served for lunch and we had a working lunch, meaning to say, we discussed and lunch at the same time.

This is not my longest meeting so far, but is certainly one of the longest and most torturous ones.

More Singapore big names firms sold to foreign investors

Last year, Senoko Power was being sold to a Japanese consortium. This month, homegrown oil company, Singapore Petroleum Company (SPC), is sold to PetroChina. Today, we are seeing local semiconductor company Chartered Semiconducter being sold to Abu Dhabi.

The above mentioned 3 companies were all owned by Singapore government in some way and I do not see why they are selling such prized assets to foreign investors.

Kraft Foods takeover Cadbury speculation

Wow! If U.S. Kraft Foods really was successful in their US$16.7 billion takeover of U.K. chocolate giant Cadbury, then the combined result will be gigantic! According to Kraft, a combination of the two would create a "global powerhouse in snacks, confectionery and quick meals" with annual sales of more than US$50 billion.

Kraft's Cadbury move sparks wider deal speculation [via]

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Yet another post on Land Banking

Last year, I made at least 2 posts on Land Banking and its so-called "dangers" in this investment. My previous posts are Land Banking - Read This First and 3 Land Investment Companies in Malaysia Raided.

Despite many independent reports by free press in countries practising freedom of media (excluding Singapore) on such investment product, many are still going for Land Banking without doing their homework. I am here to say SOME and NOT all lands are not worth investing, so please do not prosecute me and put me behind bars.

Today, I saw TV adverts on land banking on today's news. I hope investors interested in Land Banking to do their due homework, making sure the plot of land they are investing in will really one day have buildings on, and investors to be familiar with local property tax laws and regulations.

An article published on February 2009 on Guardian.co.uk mentioned the perils of Land Banking.

Don't bank on this land for making a profit

"A company called Profitable Group is offering UK land for sale here in Singapore on TV adverts. The deal is that you buy land without planning permission - they are selling this in Colchester and Hounslow - and wait a little while until its gets the local authority go-ahead when it will become very valuable. As it is very hard to find out information here, can you tell me what you know about Profitable?"
CC, Singapore

This is landbanking - a get-rich-quick scheme that has never delivered except for the promoters, who can multiply their investment in land many times over - £10,000 an acre agricultural land is sold for £100,000 by landbankers.

Profitable's Colchester land is protected by a covenant preventing resale at a profit, so planning gains would be difficult - and currently house demand is so low that builders have an over-supply of both homes and land.

Profitable also claims interests in sport and recruitment. Former Scottish footballer Kenny Dalglish is listed as an executive on its sporting side.

The main board of this Singapore-based company also includes Tim Goldring, John Nordmann, James Hodgson and Nigel Blanchard, who were also directors of UK-based Profitable Plot Company. This went into liquidation last year after failing to produce accounts and, after three years of landbanking, sales in the UK did not produce the big gains promised.

"Google" = "Gogle": Google's unexplained phenomenom

Today Google's search page logo has a UFO trying to suck up one of the O's from its "Google" word. Curious in finding out this "unexplained phenomenon", I attempted to do a search on it and I found a possible answer to it from ComputerWorld.

If we were to have a look at Google's Twitter account, it says "1.12.12 25.15.21.18 15 1.18.5 2.5.12.15.14.7 20.15 21.19". This long encrypted ciphertext if decrypted reads "All your O are belong to us", where A=1, B=2, ... Z=26.

Another discovery is Google actually owns the domain Gogle.com, with one less "O"! Gogle.com will bring you to Google.com as well. The million dollar question now is Will Google end up become Gogle?

Wait and see strategy for September

September is said to be an unlucky month for investment, historically been a bumpy month for stocks ever since the Great Depression in 1929. Since 1929, the Dow Jones has dropped an average of 1.4% in September with last year's September falling 6%. Similar trend can be seen in other stock market indices as well.

Many fund managers are actually mindful of unlucky September and some even move funds from equities to safer bonds temporarily before moving back in few months' time. Trading volume is traditionally also lower than the rest of the year.

I shall use a wait-and-see strategy for this September before investing in my next stock. I shall enter when others are fearful.

"We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful." -- Warren Buffett

范瑋琪 --- 可不可以不勇敢

歌曲:可不可以不勇敢
歌手:范玮琪
作词:姚若龙 作曲:陈小霞


你用浓浓的鼻音说一点也没事
反正又美又痛才是爱的本质
一个人旅行也许更有意思
和他真正结束才能重新开始

几年贴心的日子换分手两个字
你却严格只准自己哭一下子
看着你努力想微笑的样子
我的心像大雨将至那么潮湿

我们可不可以不勇敢?
当伤太重心太酸无力承担
就算现在女人很流行释然
好像什么困境都知道该怎么办

我们可不可以不勇敢?
当爱太累梦太乱没有答案
难道不能坦白的放声哭喊?
要从心底拿走一个人很痛很难

几年贴心的日子换分手两个字
你却严格只准自己哭一下子
看着你努力想微笑的样子
我的心像大雨将至那么潮湿

我们可不可以不勇敢?
当伤太重心太酸无力承担
就算现在女人很流行释然
好像什么困境都知道该怎么办

我们可不可以不勇敢?
当爱太累梦太乱没有答案
难道不能坦白的放声哭喊?
要从心底拿走一个人很痛很难

我们可不可以不勇敢?
当伤太重心太酸无力承担
就算现在女人很流行释然
好像什么困境都知道该怎么办

我们可不可以不勇敢?
当爱太累梦太乱没有答案
难道不能坦白的放声哭喊?
要从心底拿走一个人很痛很难

Shall print out and read through the lyrics next week.

Back to old ways again: Wall Street Pursues Profit in Bundles of Life Insurance

After the collapse of collaterized debt obligations (CDOs), Credit Default Swaps (CDSs), mortgage backed securities, and other structured investment products, Wall Street financial and investment companies are now looking into other ways to make quick money. They may have found one but this time, it is by redesigning life insurance policies, investing and "gambling" them.

Plan for such life policies is still in design stage.

Wall Street Pursues Profit in Bundles of Life Insurance [via]

More credit card safeguards

More credit card safeguards
Business Times
05 Sep 2009

Issuing banks agree to cap card members' liability at $100 for unauthorised transactions; online transactions will require second password

By SIOW LI SEN

INCREASED protection is on the way for credit card members against unauthorised charges and for card holders who make online purchases.

Yesterday, credit card issuing banks agreed to cap card members' liability at $100 for unauthorised transactions starting Nov 1.

By the first quarter of next year, those buying goods online will have to provide a second password, similar to existing online banking transactions, as part of enhanced security measures. This includes using tokens or getting an SMS from the bank for the second password.

On the move to limit cardmembers liability, the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) said that this means that before notification of a credit card loss to the issuing bank, the maximum liability for cardholders due to unauthorised charges is $100. But this cap will not apply if the cardholder has acted fraudulently or was grossly negligent.

An example of gross negligence cited by the ABS is leaving one's wallet unattended in the office and the card is then stolen, used and returned to the wallet without the cardholder realising it.

A cardholder would be acting fraudulently if, for instance, he disputes charges on his card which he claims to have been stolen overseas, when in fact he has under duress signed for exorbitantly priced drinks.

The move to limit liability is a U-turn by the industry which had earlier declined to do so.

Currently, only two card issuers, American Express and Maybank, have liability caps, of $100 and $500 respectively.

In July, there was a consumer uproar when three banks insisted that a human resource administration manager, Tan Shock Ling, make good her $17,100 charges after her credit cards were stolen from an unlocked car. The three banks were Citi, Royal Bank of Scotland and United Overseas Bank.

ABS director Ong Ai Boon yesterday said even after Nov 1, Ms Tan would still be considered as grossly negligent. 'You wouldn't leave $17,000 cash in your car, unlocked, unattended,' said Mrs Ong. 'It appeared that the car was not smashed, not broken into.' Mrs Ong said that two of the banks have given a discount to Ms Tan while one has insisted on full payment.

Adam Rahman, Citi Singapore head of corporate affairs, said that 'on a goodwill basis, we offered to waive 25 per cent of the sum charged to the card, as well as offered a three-month interest-free instalment repayment schedule for the remaining amount'. RBS and UOB declined to comment, citing customer confidentiality.

As for enhancing security for online transactions, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) yesterday said that it is working with the industry on the implementation of dynamic authentication for card-not-present or online transactions and the adoption of a chip technology platform. 'We are looking at a phased introduction of some initiatives in the first quarter of next year,' an MAS spokeswoman said.

The additional authentication will be similar to what is used for current banking transactions such as getting a randomly generated second password from a token or an SMS from the bank.

I wonder how the extra second authentication is to be done for online credit card transaction. So far, I never see any merchant prompting for that extra token.

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