Monday, October 31, 2011

S'pore Residents Definition

Titanic relics exhibition is being held here. Price at $20 is considered steep for me as when i first saw the price my brain immediately pull out the price i paid for the bicycle adventure trip to Kukup, Malaysia -RM90 inclusive of overnight stay at a homestay chalet, bbq dinner, breakfast, lunch & boat ride to Kelong(floating fish farm).

Again my brain tells me i have a better bang for the buck in terms of experience & memories despite paying lower compared to the price of the Titanic exhibition. A family with 2 teenagers will be paying $80 which to me is costly for most people in S'pore.

High pricing of the ticket is a matter but what intrigues me is the how come residents is used instead of citizens? Isn't it any wonder more & more citizens are disenfranchised with the incumbent govt? Instead of being treated as citizens people are merely treated as digits/cogs in the economic machine. Country or corporation?

The way residents instead of citizens price being used simply shows the worldview of the current incumbent govt. Notice how residents is thrown together from a myriad of sources.

It is also the way statistics are done by the incumbent govt by throwing everything together to paint a rosier picture to fool the ignorant instead of disclosing the real figures for each category like citizens, PR, work permits etc.

Humongous Lifeforce Thrown Away Watching Ads during Drama 爱

Taiwanese soap drama 爱 ended its run on S'pore tv not long ago. It has a humongous run of like 776 episodes here. While it is admirable that the drama can attract so many viewers despite its long long run i can't help but wonder how much time viewers have thrown away due to commercials.

Assuming an episode is 45mins here during a 1hour slot, there is about 15mins of commercial. Multiplied by 776 episodes & is 11640mins which is 194hours of pure commercial watching. Many people lament about being drained of energy after a day's work & the number of leave days for many workers in S'pore is around 14 days annual leave.

Well guess what? 194 hours is around 1 month of working hours exclusive of lunchtime. Time wasted on watching commercials during the drama's long run is almost equivalent to a month's break for huge majority of working class.

Little by little it might not seem much by over time the life thrown away watching commercials really adds up. Same goes for saving money.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

'Zebra' from Suntan After Long & Sunny Day Cycling

I sure need more clothing covering my skin. After 2 cycling trips in Johor, Malaysia i've become a 'zebra' especially for my feet & upper legs. The suntan is so obvious. For the feet it is because i'm wearing sandals instead of shoes. I wore sandals as sandals are versatile & if wearing shoes & cycling in the rain it becomes an inconvenience if i didn't bring along sandals or slippers.

For the upper legs it is obvious i'm wearing the usual cycling shorts. Now i seriously need to consider getting long cycling pants or at least in the meantime abstain from long & strong daytime cycling for the skin colour to hopefully 'normalise'.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

PAP Policies Vicious Cycle Flowchart

Remarkable in its simplicity. Less is more. Why bother writing an essay of words when a simple flowchart will do? Someone who contributed this flowchart to a socio-political website has succinctly sum up why he voted against the incumbent party. Its current policies are now a vicious cycle.

The part on keeping citizens loyal through high land prices is a form of modern slavery through 30years mortgage in an increasingly volatile economic climate. In the end how much savings is left as being reflected in a survey on S'porean savings after the bulk of retirement funds is used for a 99 year leasehold flat?

The high costs of doing business has made many businesses increasingly uncompetitive. What value is that in buying stuff as i've written many posts on paying for a big rental component?

Inflating the costs of public(also drives up private) housing to transfer citizen's retirement funds into the country's treasury which is control by a certain family. Just on demographics alone with aging population & low fertility rate, S'pore is already on track for long-term decline. Addressing the demographic issue through temporary stop-gap measure through immigrants is not sustainable as immigrants themselves are subjected to the same vicious conditions in time to come.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Individuals Partly Responsible: Insufficient savings put the frowns on S'poreans

In a consumerism driven & keeping up with the joneses society where too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like, the results of the survey is hardly surprising.

The mushroom like growth of moneylenders till the govt needs to control the legality of the business is written in plain view for all to see. As if that isn't enough the 'locusts swarm filled shopping malls' is endemic of the consume, consume, consume culture.

People who spend money wantonly are people i avoid being close friends with to avoid being contaminated by their foolish money habits & mindset. Choose your friends wisely & avoid peer pressure as much as possible to do unwise stuff. At times it is better to be lonely than to be with bad company. It seems frugal folks like me are in the minority in S'pore.

Singaporeans rate their personal savings as the area they are most unhappy with, according to a study called "The Happiness Report".

Conducted by global communications firm, Grey Group, the study found that nearly half of the respondents reported a lack of sufficient savings in the last 6 months.

Second area that respondents said they were least happy with was personal expenditure over the last half year, garnering 40.5% of responses.

Next 3 areas that made Singaporeans unhappy were their confidence in the economy (27%), job satisfaction (23%), and work-life balance (21%).

The study was conducted in June this year with 200 respondents aged 18 to over 60.

The study also revealed the top 5 things that Singaporeans were most happy about.

Area of residence topped the happiness index, with about 78% ranking Singapore as the best place to stay in the world.

Close family ties ranked second (74%), spirituality came in third, while social support networks took 4th spot and personal time rounded off the top 5 on the happiness index.

The study also discovered that baby boomers (45-49 years old) were the happiest people with an overall net happiness score of 11.4%, 4.6 percentage points higher than the young adult segment (18-29 years old).

It also found that men were happier than women at the workplace, with 46.08% of men found to be happy at their jobs as compared to 37.75% for women.

Shirley Ang, an account manager, said: "In schools these days, it's very competitive, so everyone's competing with each other, challenging each other.

"Back during the days of baby boomers and all, it was probably an easier life in a way. Hard in terms of earning money, but easier in terms of (the amount of) stress they are feeling from society."

Friday, October 21, 2011

1st 3 Groceries/Snacks Purchases at Tesco, Msia

Looking to make the trip more fruitful besides cutting hair, watching movies & eating at coffeeshops, the following are my first 3 purchases at Tesco in Johor. UO Superstore at Plaza Kotaraya has moved out since the mall is renovating. Between Tesco & Jusco it seems Tesco has more items that are cheaper. With a Tesco outlet at KSL mall which is nearer i've signed up for their clubcard to accumulate points for discount later.

-----Tesco@KSL (per unit price)
Tesco 1.5l Root Beer RM1.99
Kimball Medium Thai Chilli RM2.59

Root beer is irresistible because when converted back is S$0.81! How does it taste? Well it loses out compared to A&W Root Beer but given the price i can't complain.

-----Tesco@Bkt Indah (per unit price)
Mouse RM16.90
Tomato Beans RM1.99
Kim Large Thai Chilli RM2.99

Baked beans in tomato sauce on sale which converted back is S$0.81. Never tried this brand before nor seen it before. Acceptable taste so it is an awesome value for $ purchase!

-----Tesco@KSL (per unit price)
Tesco Chocolate bar-Fruit & Nuts RM5.9
Tesco 1.5l Orange softdrink RM1.99
Mister Potato Chips BBQ RM3.70
KF Sardine RM2.59
Cloud 9 Chocoloate filled with caramel, soft nougat & nuts RM3.29

Tesco chocolate bar is something i venture to give this house brand a try. Who says house brand is lousy? I find it value for $$ compared to an established brand like Cadbury.

No root beer flavor on sale & only orange softdrink for Tesco housebrand. Bought 2 bottles to experiment. Haven't drink so no comments yet.

Can of sardine is around S$1. Is it too good to be true? Again no comments as haven't open & eat yet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Using Stuff Till Worn Out

Maximizing usage after buying it. In corporate terms is call amortizing the purchase over like say 2,3,4 or 5 years. But how often do individuals amortize the stuff they buy instead of just discarding & replacing it while the item is still in working condition?

450W power supply unit for computer. Usage: 5years 3mths. The fan has failed like 3-4mths back & the cpu casing tower can feel the increased heat as i touch it. The final straw to replace it came when it takes 3 tries just to power up the computer - on & off after like 3-4secs, on & off after like 3-4 secs then finally on.

Bicycles gloves. A cheap pair that i have used for just over a year. What i found out is that whether is a more expensive pair or cheapo pair the place that gets worn out for me is the same places- between thumb & index fingers areas (right glove)then spreading out.

Using stuff till they finally 'give up' not only maximises the purchase value, you also contribute less trash & waste than others. Good for the planet. You might even have less clutter in your home when old stuff just collect dust after you bought a more fanciful newer & usually more expensive version.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

High Rental- Even Starbucks Feeling the Heat

This is probably the only Starbucks in S'pore whose premises is booth-like as far as i know. Other outlets are in shopspaces. Why? High rental after the mall is bought by the govt owned media monopoly - S'pore Press Holdings. It also begs the question how come a media company is dabbling in property?

High rental is killing many business since it is a fixed cost. Property bubble in turn causes rental to rise which increases the cost of living. 2 questions that often pops into my mind is how much rental am i paying for when i'm buying this item? What value is that in paying high rental component? Often these 2 questions is enough to shut down the purchase decision in S'pore.

The building of more hawker centres after 26 years is a welcome move. Tourists don't come here for Mac, KFC, Pizza Hut etc or other overly 'spam' businesses. They are here to experience the local flavor & ambience & not in some overly commericalised food court. This is an aspect the govt ministers & the bureaucrats ignored in favor of big business in effort to get more revenue. Neglecting the long term in favor of short term boost in revenues.

Isn't it any wonder the govt built 2 casinos within a short period? - High rents in S'pore is making many businesses uncompetitive & in desperate effort to keep it going the floodgates are open to import in many foreign workers which our local infrastructure is straining to cope as well as other social issues. If 2 casinos can be completed within a few short years, 10 simple hawker centres can certainly be completed within 5 years. 10 years is just dragging their feet.


Good news only if...
I APPLAUD Minister for the Environment & Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan for citing his preference for heartland hawker centres to be run as non-profit organisations ('Building more hawker centres welcomed'; Monday).

National Environment Agency (NEA), which manages all hawker centres, has worked admirably in ensuring that the centres are hygienic. Viability, its other responsibility, can be achieved only if NEA keeps rental rates affordable for entry-level entrepreneurs, who are often owners of fledgling family businesses or one-person operations.

I am an entry-level entrepreneur trying to make a living in Chinatown Complex.

After the building was refurbished in 2008, market rent for new stallholders who took over from retiring traders - be it subsidised or tendered lease - was raised reasonably. But in May this year, rent was raised again after NEA engaged professional valuers to appraise the value of the complex. Presumably the valuers considered its locality as well as the aggregate values of tendered stalls - which are unusually higher due to their speculative nature - and artificially affixed a new premium.

The result? Rent inflation ranging from an astonishing 71 per cent to a whopping 100 per cent.

This sudden, unexplained move is an unfortunate departure from the past practice of raising rent by small, graduated amounts - and a blow to struggling small traders.

On the one hand, the Government exhorts traders in hawker centres not to profiteer, but on the other, it surreptitiously pushes up operating costs.

Many large organisations fail due to over-trading. Small businesses perish because they are often undermined by high rents.

David Lam


Build hawker centres in 5 years, not 10
I HOPE the Government & the National Environment Agency (NEA) will build 10 new hawker centres in 5 years instead of 10 ("Building more hawker centres welcomed"; Monday).

The Government should also change the image & culture of hawker centres with bold new designs & quality features.

The NEA has the expertise to manage hawker centres under its purview on a not-for-profit basis and should drop its partnership with private players to cut unnecessary costs.

Low hawker food prices start with low rentals. Only with low rentals can hawkers charge $2 for a plate of chicken rice and $2.50 for a plate of wanton noodles. NEA plays an important role to mitigate cost of living issues by maintaining affordable prices at hawker stalls.

The agency must change its mindset of designing centres on the cheap. Instead, it should design the new millennium hawker centre to match Singapore's modernity. Why can't hawker stalls look sparkling clean and bright like the layout in foodcourts, with comfortable seating, marble-top tables, spacious aisles and neatly attired workers?

New complexes could be designed with natural lighting and ventilation, plus adequate ceiling fans. Use quality finishing to encourage patrons to keep the ambience clean and neat.

There should be adequate, well-designed restrooms, which must be kept dry at all times. Install powerful exhaust fans to filter out the odour of restrooms.

Regular hourly cleaning schedules must be strictly enforced by NEA inspectors. A dry toilet is a clean toilet.

Paul Chan

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Police Posts & Taxi Improvements in JB

Johor politicans are offended by the Chief Minister of Penang, Malaysia who said “Penang was number 1 last year in terms of cutting crime by 27%. For the first 6 months… also cut crime by another 25%. Whereas in Johor, a Singaporean is likely to get kidnapped. Won’t have that problem when you come to Penang.”

With the unrelenting rise in cost of living in Spore, more & more s'poreans are relocating across the border to Johor. I don't mind if the scaremongering deter more s'poreans from going over- less jams. Instead of being robbed blind in broad daylight in S'pore by the govt through legal fare increases, levies etc etc disguised as taxes, what a person can do in johor is exercise basic common sense & blend in with the crowd to become a less likely victim.

There are already improvements:
Police post along Jalan Seladang near KSL mall.

Taxis now have go by meter assurance instead of a price fixed by cabbies which fleece passengers

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kimball Thai Chilli Sauce

3 versions of the thai style chilli sauce but i only come across the smallest & medium version locally. The biggest bottle is in supermarkets in Malaysia. Though the medium version is available locally it is not common. I bought the medium & bigger bottles from malaysia & already the medium bottle is cheaper & yet more quantity than its S'pore smallest bottle.

All 3 bottles originate from Malaysia in same factory. Is just packaged differently.

300g $1.15
355g RM2.59 $1.07
520g Rm2.99 $1.23

300g per gram price $0.00383
355g per gram price $0.00301
520g per gram price $0.00236

Going by unit price the biggest bottle sold in malaysian market is the best value for $$.

Tesco 1.5l Root Beer - S$0.82

Tesco the british supermarket has penetrated the malaysian market but not in S'pore. Though i tend to avoid soft drinks which are in essence carbonic acid, i like to drink A&W Root Beer. Seeing the housebrand version of their root beer i bought 2 bottles home to give it a try. Is doesn't taste as good as the A&W version but given its irresistable price S$0.82/bottle it is a steal considering such 1.5l soft drinks retail for slightly double the price in S'pore.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2 Year Gains Wiped out in Around 2 Months

Buy & sell, not buy & hold. Economic cycles are getting shorter. With the steep drop in the stock market index i reckon S'pore has already entered reccession. The stock market is a leading indicator. Mass media only come out to announce is recession when is apparently clear- they wait & wait till is sure so as not to appear stupid in papers & news broadcasts.

I'm taken aback at the sudden plunge. Those who invested late in early 2010 when mass media reports of rebound & still holding on is highly likely to see losses now or back to square one.

It is a joke the current govt is subjecting the people buying flats to 30year mortgage slavery with its absurb price under such volatile economic times.