Friday, February 24, 2012

Saving or Spending ?

A foreign bank took up a full page advertisement that it is giving 1.88% interest on its saving account to its current account holders. It tabulated a table to show the 'fantastic' high interest rate when compare to other banks, which pay 0.1% and 0.25% p.a. respectively for their current account and fixed deposits. The table uses $25K as illustration. So other banks are giving a mere $25 and $62.50 p.a. for their current and fixed deposits respectively, while this bank interest is $470 p.a.

Looks attractive, but hold on - there is a catch. To qualify, one has to spend $500 per month using the bank's card (I presume it refers to credit card). Besides this, the maximum qualifying amount is limited to $25K only.

Now the sum does not work out. Might as well save this amount instead as one would be $6K richer at the end of the year. Why spend $6K to get $450 interest ? As the bank limits the amount qualifying for the special interest rate, the bank has all the good deals at its end.

This is the type of tricks used by many banks. They highlight the attractive interest rate which has many qualifying causes. They are not simple saving or fixed deposit account. The interest rate could be spread over 5 years which would greatly reduced its attractiveness. Even our neighbourhood banks are doing this. How many uncles and aunties are tricked ? Dishonest ? Well, legally it is not. Ethical ? I would say NO!

Town Council Sinking Fund

Tampines Town council annual report stated that they collected $48 million income mainly from Service & Conservancy Charges. 29% of that which amounts to $13.97m went into sinking fund. They have $3.51m of operating surplus. 4% is transferred to town improvement fund and they used only $7.96m (16%)for estate maintenance.

From this data we can gather the Town Council collected more money than is needed for the estate maintenance. No wonder a number of Town Councils lost so much public money during the financial crisis when they invested in toxic investment products. They have so much money to spare that they dare to risk it.

Should not the Service & Conservancy fee be reduced? Should not the whole cost of lift upgrading program be taken up by them instead of making residents pay for part of the cost?

What is most disgusting is that the govt used this program as a carrot during general election. They also sell this to the public as estate improvement program which the govt is supporting. The truth is they are trying to make up for their shortsighted planning which did not cater to an aging population without admitting to their serious mistake.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Another Trick to LOCK UP our money by MIW

Remember HDB reverse mortgage scheme? It is now replaced by lease buyback scheme. Reverse mortgage stinks as we have to pay interest rate! Talk about sucking the elderly dry while in the pretext of 'helping' them monetized their flat to supplement their retirement income. So after their dirty trick is revealed they come with lease buyback which they claim is a govt subsidize scheme.

My take on this is - as there are so many folks who cannot meet the CPF minimum sum which amount used to buy CPF compulsory annuity scheme - they now want us to sell our flat lease to HDB so that we have money to buy annuity. The money goes back into CPF to be lock up forever!

I am disgusted with their dirty tricks which they sell to the citizens as helping the needy. Subsidize scheme? Really? There is very little information on HDB website on this scheme. When I called up, the staff told me because it is new. She is very evasive on details. When I asked when was it implement, she told me a few years ago but cannot put a year to it. If it is a few years ago, why so sketchy on details and expect the elderly to take up the scheme ? Perhaps it is to prevent those knowledgeable social bloggers (like Mr Leong Sze Hian) from analyzing it to unveil the short comings.

When I asked about what happened to the reverse mortgage scheme, at first she said it is discontinued, but when I asked when was it scraped, she changed her mind and said she is not sure if NTUC is still providing it. (She told me NTUC is running the mortgage scheme for HDB). If HDB is concurrently running 2 schemes, should not they tabulate the details of the 2 schemes for easy comparison ?

Is there a need for all these so call 'monetization options' for the elderly if CPF scheme is well conceived and implemented in the first place ? All these schemes come about because many of our elderly do not have enough for their retirement after working and saving for a LIFE TIME. What ever they have, they have no control over their own money in CPF, which is locked up and to be dished out to the owner of the money in amount determine by CPF Board !

It is only in Singapore that we have unique laws to ensure owner of the money has no say as to what he/she can do with his/her money ! It is a third party who has full control over our money ! Is this not abuse of the legal system ? Just pass a law to legalize any policy MIW wants to implement. Common sense has it that many of our current legalized policies are WRONG.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sam Hui's Hits - Coffee / Tea at Esplanade

To attend Sam Hui's concert, the tickets are not cheap. There is another way to enjoy his songs without paying a bomb. Ok I am not talking about CD but actual life performance.

Esplanade has this Coffee Morning Afternoon Tea program held once a month at their Recital Studio which has very good acoustic and sound system. The program features local and foreign singers who belt out songs from famous artists.

The recent one had Wilson Wong singing Sam Hui's hit songs (all Cantonese songs). I realized that though many of the songs were familiar and once a big hit, but I have forgotten the lyrics, due to lack of exposure for years. I suppose it could be due to our govt Speak Mandarin policies which kill off anything to do with dialects.

Sam's is a talent alright. His musical scores and lyrics will stand the test of time. They could be more than 20 years ago, but they do not sound like 'oddies'. He has such a good grip on the common lives and emotion of ordinary folks which he incorporated into his songs' lyrics mix with a heavy dose of humour.

If only our local bunch of PAP ministers and MPs have half of Sam's understanding of ordinary citizens, they may have avoided so many senseless and flaws policies.

Wilful Blindness

PAP is suffering from Wilful Blindness - which is - when they only see what they want to see only. Perhaps this is the reason why PAP is ignoring the obvious and implemented so many flaw policies, stone deaf to the cries from the ground.

It is unhealthy for one single political party to rule us for decades since our independence. Their group think, party ideology, conformity and refusing to lift the party whip in the recent parliamentary debate on ministerial salary - all are signs of their party internal chronic sickness which is surfacing over the years.

The very fact that they need to justify for their obscene pay tells all. Need we say more ?

CAT fed by a CROW

There is this white stray cat (Mr White) which follows me all over after his breakfast. He only eats dry cat biscuits, unlike other strays which prefer the more tasty wet cat food in cans.

He would sit around cleaning himself and basking in the sun while I exercise. Just the other day, I heard a loud 'tut' and saw something fallen from a tree. As I was not wearing my spectacles, I saw a lump which I thought was some riped fruit. Then there was another louder 'tut'. Mr White went to investigate and to my surprise he started eating it. As he is a fussy eater,that sets off my curiosity on what had fallen from the tree.

It was a fried fish head ! Besides it were another piece of fish meat and the whole fish bone. Next I saw a big black crow hovering around and calling loudly. The crow landed closed to Mr White but dare not approached nearer. It did that a few times before flying off when I cleared away the fish.

The crow must have picked up the fish from somewhere and flew off to enjoy its meal away from the meddling crowds. Unfortunately, it ended up 'feeding' the cat. Its loud call must have been sound of frustration.

Note : It is unhealthy to feed cat with fried fish. Besides the bone which could get stuck in the cat's teeth, the seasoning (eg garlic, oil...etc) used is not good for cat. Cats which have eating problem (teeth issues) can even choke on cat biscuits. They can't bite so they swallow the biscuits whole. So fish meat attached to bone is a definitely NO.