31 August 2013

Very Original and Local Music Video

I recognize Tosh and Wei Liang from the Ah Boys to Men movies, and this video is really funny and original, must support local product.

30 August 2013

Will The Allied Forces Attack Syria?

Seems like the leaders of US, Britain and France are very eager to punish Syria for the alleged gas attack, but also seems like their citizens have no wish for their country to intervene, I'm actually very curious why the allied powers are so eager, in fact too eager to attack Syria, how come they are so sure that the Syrian president is guilty? Why don't they wait for the findings of the UN inspectors? But one thing for sure is Britain is now officially out because their lawmakers voted against an attack.

Today, I read a news that says the UN inspectors are really there to determine what kind of gas was used, it's not their job to determine who used it, so it's actually quite pointless, I think somebody should take the effort to dig out the culprit instead of hurling threats, shouldn't the big boys at least show the world some proof before they bring their country into a conflict?

I really hope that the US and France would at least wait for what the UN has to say, at least wait for the report from the inspectors, I don't know how it will help though. The US also said they will release classified information regarding the gas attack, I wonder what exactly made them so sure, especially since they were not there, or maybe they have intelligence stationed there during the attack?

28 August 2013

STI Index Closed at 3000 Points

News of the likely attack on Syria by the US have dragged down the index, this really came as a surprise, last Friday I thought it was on track for a rebound, and earlier on, I saw a video of a gas attack in Syria but thought it was a prank, little did I know everybody was taking it so seriously, even Britain and Australia were backing the attack, and the attack is supposed to happen tomorrow, wow, it's like so fast so furious.

But recalling the video, I felt that it looked a bit fake (that was why I thought it was a prank), there was a part where a man was foaming at the mouth, and the guy filming just continued doing it, that video-man should at least call for some medical personnel or something, isn't that weird. And the weirdest thing was, everybody was like poisoned, sitting around, lying in beds, and then there's just somebody filming non-stop, it's like this video-man was expecting something to happen hence he brought along his video-cam for night shooting.

And what really bugged me was the allies were reacting too fast, they were so sure that it was the Syrian president who ordered the gas attack, and it's their job on behalf of humanity to go in and punish the regime. Australia even said they would back the attack with or without the UN's approval, wow.

Doesn't it all smell too fishy?

24 August 2013

KFC has Become Such a Disappointment

I haven't had the original KFC for a long time and so today I decided to try out their Ultimate Zinger Box which came with a Zinger burger, a whipped potato, a piece of original chicken and a soft drink of my choice, and I chose Mountain Dew. The meal costed me S$7.30 and the Zinger was okay, but I remember it used to be much bigger, whipped potato was the way I remembered, tasted quite good, well-peppered, nothing much to say about the soft drink, but the original chicken was bland, tasted like one of my mother's failed fried chicken experiment. I remember the first time I had KFC, which was a long time ago, they didn't have the spicy version, back then their original chicken was really good, well salted, truly finger lickin' good, and what I had today was a total disappointment.

Actually it was the spicy version of the chicken that killed the original recipe, when it first came out, it was immensely popular, I think everybody just switched and stuck to it, and if you visit any KFC restaurant, you will notice that they don't prepare too many original chicken, obviously because it's much less popular. The spicy version is quite good, but it's really oily, it gets overwhelming really fast. I still like the spring chicken that we have in our coffee shops, those are leaner, less oily, more tasty and cheaper, but I think the old original KFC is the best, but too bad they lost their touch.

23 August 2013

Recontracted My Starhub Power Value 100 Mobile Line and Sold the Phone

I asked my wife whether she wants to get a new phone but she said she doesn't need it so I re-contracted and sold the mobile phone instead. I paid only S$48 for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) Silver, and then I immediately sold it to a mobile phone shop for S$260, a S$212 profit. I think I might be able to sell higher than that to someone who wants to use it rather than to a dealer because eventually the dealer will sell it to a user, maybe for S$300 or more, but I'm too lazy to keep posting on forums and waiting for a genuine buyer, it's just so time consuming, and even if I get someone who wants to buy it, I still got to travel and meet that person, sounds really tiring.

And when I was at Starhub shop, I saw an auntie with 2 Filipino guys, I heard that she was also re-contracting and I think she was going to sell her phone to those 2 guys, and what a coincidence, she was also getting a Galaxy Tab 2, same model as mine, I think she also think it's a good deal, maybe she managed to sell at S$300 or more, who knows.

22 August 2013

Always Check Your Starhub Bills

Last time out of nowhere they charged me for the Connecting Tones Service, now they charged me more than what I signed up for. Last month I signed up for their Surf and Watch package, it's an internet plus cable TV package and the cost per month was S$66.65 inclusive of GST, basically the internet costs S$39.90 and the cable TV costs S$26.75, and the cable TV was supposed to be HD upgraded. The salesperson also told me that the S$66.65 was before Hub Club discounts, which means the bill will be lower. But when I received my bill, I was puzzled by the cable TV charges.

Cable TV Charges

As you can see in the picture, if you take 45 - 11.887 = 33.113, so how is that cheaper, and that's after my Hub Club discount. So I called 1633, and they informed the billing department to call me back, and when they did, the billing department told me they need to check and will call me back, but instead of them calling, the salesperson got back to me and told me actually the HD Upsize was supposed to be free, she said the mistake has been corrected and the amount will be pro-rated in the next bill. So luckily I checked or else every month I'll be paying for something that's supposed to be free.

But I think I'm satisfied with Starhub so far, don't go thinking because I complain means that I don't like their product or service, I've been their customer since 2000, back when they had the 1.5Mbps cable internet, I must say their customer service has always been good, but they better be more careful with billing.

21 August 2013

Coach Plunged into 150 Meters Ravine when Descending from Genting Highlands


When I reached home today, my father was telling me a car flew down from Genting, I was having my dinner and I looked at him in bewilderment, and he had this serious face, I was thinking why the hell would anyone do that.

This kind of news really sends shivers down my spine, now I think it will really take a lot for me to go there again, the last time I went was in Apr 2012, actually before I went, there was a news report of a coach overturning, also during descent, I was quite worried that time because I was going with my parents and my wife, and when we were descending, I was praying in my mind, damn scary, luckily nothing bad happened.

150 meters, that's really high, a coach falling down that kind of height, with 49 people inside, damn, and they confirmed 32 deaths, really sad. I think if I were to go again, I would probably take the cable car, but the cable car is also damn scary.

COE Climbing Up Again

When the government introduced the new borrowing policy, the COE price for Cat A plunged, but now it's going up again, I think the demand is there that's why dealers will bid for it, which also mean people are willing to buy it anyway.

Cat A COE on Aug 13 2013

Let's look at the new borrowing policy that was introduced this year.
  1. If your car OMV (Open Market Value) is <= S$20000, you can loan up to 60%.
  2. If your car OMV is > S$20000, you can loan up to 50%.
  3. The maximum loan tenure is 5 years.
So let's say you buy a S$95000 car, you have to pay S$38000 i.e. 40% in cold hard cash, as for the other S$57000, you can only loan up to a maximum of 5 years, say at 2.88% interest per annum, you will need to pay about S$1087 a month.

Car Loan Calculation

Top that up with season parking, ad-hoc parking, fuel, ERP, road tax, insurance, maintenance, ad-hoc maintenance, I think it can all add up to more than S$1600 a month, I can understand if people buy it as a family car and everyone helps to pay for it, but too damn expensive to buy it alone, car is a luxury item here.

20 August 2013

National Day Rally 2013 - Housing

"We will always make sure that a HDB flat is always within reach -- affordable and available to Singaporeans. Don't worry. Go ahead, plan on it, get married, get your flat." - PM Lee

Yet I am married and I can't afford my own home, how ironic. The 2-room BTO is a joke, we can only apply at the age of 35, factor in the waiting time, we would probably get the keys at 38 or 39, I'm not saying it's totally bad, it's good for Singaporeans at that age, but for people like me who is only 30, either we wait or try to have baby or stretch our necks and buy resale.

But then again, even if they allow us to buy at 30, I don't think HDB can cope with the demand, look at the Jul BTO, there were 55 singles applying for each 2-room flat, so what happens to those who didn't manage to get it? Well, either they keep trying if they don't mind waiting, or buy resale.

I can understand how difficult it is, too many people, too little housing, of course there will be shortage, they can't please everyone and there's nothing anyone can do but to accept the situation, but what really annoys me is our government can keep giving misleading statements, and keep telling people that housing is affordable when it is not affordable, yes, if they are talking about BTO, of course it is affordable, but how about resale, how is resale flat affordable?

I wonder when I can finally have my own place, 5 years, 10 years, I don't know, or perhaps I'll just stay with my parents, it doesn't make any economic sense to buy resale, but staying with parents, there are a lot of conflicts, it can get really tiresome at times, they know you can't afford your own place, so it's like your at their mercy, even when they get really unreasonable, it's still your fault because you have no choice but to comply and be humbled, but actually it's so tiring living here, having to worry about everything everyday, it's like everyday is a struggle, how I wish I could just cash out and go live a carefree life at my wife's home, set up a stall, sell food or what.

19 August 2013

Waterfox, a Google Chrome Alternative for 64-bit Windows

I discovered this browser only today, it is a 64-bit version of Firefox and it's named Waterfox, don't they sound like siblings. Anyway the design goal for Waterfox is Speed, now that really piques my interest, I've been looking for a browser that can compete with Google Chrome, seems like I found one. But do note that it only works in 64-bit Windows, and also seems like I can't have both Firefox and Waterfox together, if I run Firefox, it will end up running Waterfox, my colleague had it the other way, when he ran Waterfox, it ended up running Firefox, so we both uninstalled Firefox, this fixed my colleague's problem.

I tried Waterfox for a day, it really does feel fast, I can't really tell the difference in speed between Waterfox and Chrome, both seems equally fast, now I'm just waiting to see if Waterfox will freeze up, you know I have this problem whenever I open a link in a new tab in Chrome or Opera, and if that tab contains Flash player stuff, it will freeze my computer for 10-20 seconds, it's intermittent and very annoying and I haven't had any luck fixing it. I hope this doesn't happen with Waterfox.

And yes, Waterfox is definitely way faster than Firefox. Oh one more thing, I used to have screen tearing when I was using Firefox and I had to fix it by turning off hardware acceleration, seems like this has been fixed in Waterfox, I'm now using it with that option on and it's working fine.

Download Waterfox

16 August 2013

Blogger Comments Spam Filter

Recently I noticed a few attempts from people who tried to advertise their site by posting in the comments section, I know because whenever someone posts a comment, I will get notified via email, strange thing is when I go check out my site, I don't see the comments there. So I checked my blogger's comments section and found there is a spam section, those comments were automatically dumped there.

So spammers, I don't really mind you posting but you got sniffed out by blogger, so too bad, and I'll leave it as it is because I don't wish to encourage spammers.

14 August 2013

Interesting Documentary About the Famous Bang Kwang Prison in Bangkok

Part 1

Part 2

Seems like most offenders are for drug trafficking, 99 year sentence, wow...

My Wife's Hospitalization Costs in Thailand

The billed amount was 15,333 Thai Baht and it was for:
  • 8 days of hospitalization in a 6-bedded ward.
  • 4x INR each day.
  • 1x Echo-cardiogram.
  • Fees for cleaning her up after her miscarriage.
  • Medication for during stay and after discharge.
For those of you wondering what INR is, it's a blood test to check whether a patient's Warfarin dosage is okay.

I gave her S$1300 when she left on 01 Aug, the exchange rate then was 1 SGD to 24 THB, so we'll base her hospitalization charges on that.

15,333 / 24 = S$638.87

It's just way cheaper than in Singapore, I remember I paid S$478 just for her Echo in Singapore, really a world of difference.

Anyway, next time round I will definitely send her back to Thailand once she is pregnant, and furthermore, her mom is always available to take care of her, she'll just suffer if she stays in Singapore, and I'll suffer financially.

So to all Singaporeans with foreign spouse out there, if your foreign spouse is pregnant, and if she does not have PR nor LTVP+, please do not follow-up nor deliver in Singapore, once she is 4-5 weeks pregnant, send her back to her hometown. Actually even if she has PR or LTVP+, it's still expensive if you compare to a Thai citizen seeking treatment in Thailand, healthcare costs in Singapore is simply obscene.

Yeah, I know there is this Marriage and Parenthood Scheme where the government allows you to claim from your Medisave account, but be warned, you can only claim up to S$450 for pre-delivery costs, and S$450 each day + the procedure + S$450 for delivery, you might think it's enough, yeah maybe when there is no complication, but if there is complication, the claim will not be able to cover for it and you will still have to fork out cash for any outstanding amount, obviously because there is a cap on how much you can claim, so it doesn't matter if you have 5 digits, 6 digits or even 7 digits in your Medisave, it's useless.

And I really find the whole Medisave thing very bullshit, actually the whole CPF thing is very bullshit, it's my account, I top it up monthly, but I don't get to fully utilize it when I need it, then why the heck do I even need to bother with something so useless? Might as well take out the money and put it in stocks, I can easily get minimum 6% return anytime, and if I need the money, I need only 4 days to liquidate, bam, money in my bank account.

12 August 2013

Seems Like My Wife is Doing Fine

She has been staying in the hospital since 06 Aug, the doctor checks her blood 3 times daily, and she is instructed to be on bed rest and no walking around, not even walking to watch the television, I think it's at another corner away from her bed. Everytime I call her, she is lying on the bed, but she sounds better now.

I think her mom is really nice, she has been staying there with my wife since day 1, cleaning her, buying food for her, I asked my wife where her mom sleeps and she says on the table, must be really tough, if it was me I would have body aches, and she's been sleeping like that for almost a week.

I should have sent her home when she was 4 or 5 weeks pregnant, staying in Singapore she has to do the chores and all, my mom doesn't help much, and if my wife doesn't do it, my mom will find fault with her, it's just very annoying, it's as if she's taking my wife for a maid, I tried to help out as much as I could but I can't be home all the time.

I really don't know what caused her miscarriage but thinking of how my mom shoves all the chores to her, it may be related, whereas if she stayed in Thailand, her mom would take care of everything, that's just how different our moms are.

And my sister, she simply hates my wife, I don't know why, I don't understand why she has her own home, why she would come back and find fault with my wife, isn't it just crazy? How I wish I can afford my own home and get out right now, I'm such a loser, can't even afford my own house, making my wife suffer with me, and losing our baby.

Maybe I'm just trying to find something to blame so I can feel better, anyway my wife is scheduled for an INR (monitor Warfarin) on 14 Aug, if it goes well, she might be discharged.

Sigh, what is family for?

11 August 2013

Thoughts After My Wife's Miscarriage

My wife had a miscarriage on 07 Aug 2013, the doctor took the baby for investigation and my wife and mother-in-law are still waiting for the findings. We don't know what went wrong, is it having sex during pregnancy or eating certain food or exhaustion due to household chores, I really don't know but for our next try, we will be very careful, and I'll have my wife stay in Thailand with her mom so she'll have someone to take care of her.

And you might be wondering what will happen to the baby, the doctor offered two options, one is my wife can bring home the baby, two is we let the doctor keep the baby in a jar for exhibition, like in horror movies I think, but either way, we will need to perform a ritual for the baby so that he can go to a better place, we will need to buy clothes, milk powder and some other necessities for him, and the ritual will be done at a temple. We choose the latter, at least our baby can help the educational cause, and we can visit him anytime because if we bring him home, we will need to cremate him eventually.

My wife is still in the hospital though, but she is recovering well, she is now on drip, she lost a lot of blood during the miscarriage, doctor gave her a packet of blood, she says everything is okay except her breasts hurt, I think she's producing milk, I told her to massage her breasts and see if it will lessen the pain.

Anyway, once she gets out of hospital, I'll bring her home to Singapore, give her some time to settle down, probably send her home next year Jan or Feb to check her heart condition, if everything is good, we will try to conceive and after about 4 or 5 weeks, and once we confirm the pregnancy, we will head to Thailand and see the gynae and she will stay there till delivery, that's our plan for now, actually this was advised by the gynae.

10 August 2013

Lame Phishing Attempt

The logo is so fake that I don't even need to check the links and I know immediately it's a phishing attempt. Anyway the links are pointed to some dubious location. And then this "No authentication of email address has been performed.", what the hell does it even mean lol?

Fail Phishing Attempt

Be careful people, stay safe from scammers.

07 August 2013

My Wife May Need to go for Abortion (Update)

You can read my last post here.

It's pretty much confirmed now, the baby will not survive, my wife was experiencing heavy bleeding, the nurse at the hospital changed 4 blankets for her, can imagine how much blood there was, they were just waiting for the baby to be expelled naturally, then the doctor will proceed to do cleaning.

Me and my wife have mostly accepted the loss, what to do, of course we feel sad, we were thinking of Chinese and Thai names for the baby, I was thinking of having the baby learn Thai, English and Mandarin, now it's all gone, we can only look forward, but still, it's so hard to accept, I'm feeling so helpless.

The doctor told my wife that we can try again after 3 months, but next time round, my wife has to avoid any strenuous activity, avoid garlic and ginger, and to see the gynae as soon as my wife is pregnant. I think maybe we will try again next year, let my wife recover both physically and emotionally, we'll see how.

Update: The baby has been expelled, my mother-in-law says can see the head, hands, legs, penis, bum, it's still moving, very tiny, not sure how heavy, she says his back looks like me, she thinks it's about 4 months old. Poor little fella, he didn't do anything wrong, sigh, don't think he will make it past tonight... My mother-in-law took a picture, my wife's phone run out of battery, and my wife is now waiting for some other stuff to be expelled, and it took too long, the doctor is now trying to manually remove those stuff. Poor boy, he didn't even have a chance to achieve anything, how unfair, this is so fu*ked up.

06 August 2013

My Wife May Need to go for Abortion

Today my wife called and cried on the phone, she said the gynaecologist in Thailand said the baby is positioned very "down" (I have no idea what that meant, very close to the vagina?) and there will be a miscarriage eventually in a few weeks time, and even if the baby managed to survive, the baby will not be strong, and my wife should go for an abortion.

I don't understand why, my wife said the ultrascan shows that the baby is doing fine, and before she left Singapore, she also did a scan and the baby was doing fine, her heart surgeon also said my wife's heart is doing fine, her INR reading is a bit low (1.78) but the doctor have adjusted her Warfarin dosage, so that should be fine too.

My wife also told me she had heavy bleeding yesterday night and there was a large jelly-like substance and she is very worried about it. I really don't know what to say, I was at a loss for words. She then asked me whether we should go for the abortion, again, I was at a loss for words, I decided to let her do the necessary, only if necessary.

After work, I called her, I thought she had gone for the abortion, then she told me she's now staying in the hospital, she told the gynae that she wanted to wait and see how, I also thought the same, it just doesn't make any sense to go for an abortion when the baby is doing fine, maybe just poor positioning? And my wife don't feel any pain to her belly or pelvic area, I guess that's a good sign? I read that pain to those places are signs of miscarriage.

Not sure if it is related but I have a colleague who had a miscarriage, now she's pregnant again and she had a loose cervix problem, she was rushed to the hospital and the doctor stitched it up for her and she seems to be doing fine now, pregnant and working, of course doing everything at a very slow pace, I don't mean I have a problem with her doing things slowly, don't get me wrong, just saying that's the right thing for her to do, take it slow and easy, my wife is pregnant so I can totally understand how difficult it is for her.

Anyway, my wife will see the gynae again tomorrow, I hope everything will be fine, actually I've done some research and there seems to be plenty of women who bleed during pregnancy, and most of them delivered successfully, of course there were the unlucky ones, I really hope my wife is not so unlucky.

04 August 2013

Rich Relatives

Sometimes I wonder if my personality will do a 180 degrees turn when I get rich, especially the way I talk to people. I heard from my mother that in Kampong days, everybody had everybody to depend on, when relative A runs out of cash at the start or end of a month, this relative would send their kids to relative B to borrow some cash, but basically, all my relatives were poor at that time.

I heard from my mother that although my father used to earn S$700 after CPF, every time when a relative asked for financial help, he always tried his best. I have this fourth auntie, she used to phone my dad to borrow money, and my dad would ride his motorbike with my mom to her house with the money, even when returning the money, she would also phone my dad and he would go collect, I can guarantee you will never find this kind of service anywhere else.

This fourth auntie is now doing well, her son lives in a condo, youngest daughter married a rich man, eldest daughter seems to be doing well, and the way she talks is totally different. I remember her as a very kind auntie, but during my second uncle's funeral, that kind image was gone, she was talkative, bossy, and a few times she was rude to my mom.

Then I have this third auntie, her husband is a rich man, her two sons are doing well, I think they have a family business and they live in a bungalow, have maid, very big deal. My parents have stopped talking to them, only my father sometimes still talk to this auntie, she's his sister after all, and I still addressed them, it's courtesy. This relationship went downhill because of a few incidents, one I was there.

When her youngest son's boy was born, she invited us to her house to share the joy, there were food and drinks, that day my father was working so he came late, my auntie wanted to keep some food for my dad but this husband of hers kept all the good food and left bits and pieces for my dad, my dad was angry but he kept his cool and ate the food. So I sat down and drank some beer with my dad. The last straw came when this auntie wanted to give a baby car to my sister, of course we rejected it but this auntie kept insisting so out of courtesy we accepted, then her youngest son came out of nowhere and yelled that he bought the baby car, my father lost his temper and dragged us all home.

Anyway, kind of distressing talking about such things, I just don't get why people have to suddenly "feel rich" and forget about everything else.

Good Dad Poor Dad

Just returned from the cremation ceremony of my second uncle; my father is the youngest of four brothers. Let's just call this second uncle "Lao Er" (meaning number two). I heard many stories about uncle Lao Er from my parents, he was both a heavy smoker and gambler, and his gamble was on 4D and TOTO. I also heard that he can spend hundreds of dollars in a week on gambling.

When uncle Lao Er was still around, he was earning about 500 Singapore dollars a month, I'm not sure if his wife is working. My uncles and aunties would sometimes chip in some money for him, but I heard he would spend it on gambling almost immediately. He and his wife were living in a 2-room flat rented from the government, I heard they paid 100+ a month. He has a son and a daughter, his daughter is married and seems to be doing fine, his son is not doing so well. Let's call his son Ah Boy.

Among the 4 brothers, uncle Lao Er was the most worst off, he used to own a 3 or 4-room HDB flat, I remember when I was young, I visited him with my parents every year during Chinese New Year (CNY). I also remember there was once when I was at my grandma's house during CNY, and that was like 18 or 20 years ago, I saw Ah Boy and he was carrying a helmet, smiling to me, he was putting on his socks and was leaving with a girl, I think it was his girlfriend, that was the first and last time I saw him, until recently after his father passed away. I can never forget that image of him smiling at me.

In between this long period of time, I heard many stories about Ah Boy from my parents. The first one was Ah Boy's 3 years of imprisonment. He was arrested and prosecuted for loan sharking and assault. Uncle Lao Er sold his HDB flat and hired a lawyer for Ah Boy, they ended up losing everything.

Then my parents heard from my grandma that Ah Boy was beaten up by cops, and broke his spine. After a few years, I heard that Ah Boy was released from prison, I sort of felt glad. I'm not sure how long it was but next news I heard he was back in prison for loan sharking again. This cycle went on for a long time, it was only in recent 2 or 3 years that Ah Boy finally got back on track. I heard from my father that he is now learning how to cook, trying to pick up a skill.

I also heard from my parents that when Ah Boy was a small boy, grandma and uncle Lao Er doted on him a lot, maybe too much, and there were many times when Ah Boy refused to eat, uncle Lao Er would buy fizzy drinks for Ah Boy. In those Kampong (village) days, having a fizzy drink on the dinner table was a big deal, that's according to my mother. My parents would never do that, if I refused to eat, they would probably slap me to death. I grew up not understanding why my parents were so harsh on me, but as I heard more about Ah Boy, I started to get it.

Ah Boy is now living in a rented place, I heard from my parents that he is doing odd jobs, not earning much and he doesn't have any money for the funeral, and it was so sudden, uncle Lao Er passed away in the middle of the night. Many friends and relatives attended the funeral and gave Pek Kim (white gold, a token sum to help family of the deceased) and good thing is at the end of the whole thing, it was enough to cover all the costs. I tried my best and gave 50 dollars, but felt that I should have given more, he is my elder cousin after all.

Uncle Lao Er left peacefully, but he died a very poor man, his life could have been so much better, if only Ah Boy would realize earlier how fortunate he was, maybe everything would have been so different, but then again, it's never too late to repent, I was once like him, always getting into trouble with the law, only difference was my father decided not to shield me from the rain and shine, he left me to fend for myself, and I learned everything the hard way and managed to get back on track early.

Looking at Ah Boy felt like looking at an alternate me, sometimes I wonder where I would be right now if my father was always protecting me. I can only say being a dad is not easy.

03 August 2013

Insurance Premium Rates for Age Next Birthday

My health insurance is under NTUC Income, the plan name is Enhanced IncomeShield (Advantage) and I have an Assist Rider.

I signed up last year, first time I paid S$102 via CPF for the main plan, and S$100 in cash for the rider.

This year they informed via post that they will deduct via GIRO S$118 for the rider, then I logged into Income and checked my main plan, it says I will need to pay S$209 for my main plan, so that's like a 51.19% increase for the main plan and 18% increase for the rider.

I don't remember receiving any notice about the revision of premium rates, I checked my policy and read this clause,

Non-Guaranteed Premium

The agreed premium is payable to effect and keep the Rider in force. The premium rates are not guaranteed and may be reviewed and varied by us by giving you (30) days' prior written notice to your last known address.

Then I emailed their customer service, and they said the revision is due to a recent MediShield change,

The Ministry of Health has announced that MediShield benefits will be enhanced and premiums increased to provide better medical coverage for all Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents, from 1 March 2013. Following the MediShield enhancements, NTUC Income is revising our Enhanced IncomeShield/IncomeShield plans which are integrated with MediShield. The changes to the benefits and premiums are also aimed at keeping pace with customer needs and rising medical costs.

I briefly read through the attachment, basically the coverage limits have generally been increased, there's also Prosthesis Benefit (all plans), Living Organ Donor (only for Enhanced - Preferred), and some other benefits. But they also increased the Deductible for all the plans by S$500; deductible is an amount we need to pay first, it's like they give you S$10000, but you need to give them S$100 in exchange, and this is on top of your premium, something like that, someone correct me if I'm wrong, please and thanks.

And I am very sure that I did not receive any written notice prior to the revision, come on, or at least send me an email, they do have my email address in their system, and isn't it strange when they can email me travel insurance offers, wish me happy birthday but they can't inform me of revision of premium rates.

NTUC Income Travel Insurance Offers

As for the premium rates, I am currently 30 years old, so at first I didn't understand why they were charging me the 31-35 rates until I saw the words "Age next birthday" on top, then it all made sense, I would be 31 on my next birthday, but that's like 8 months later, damn easy money huh, shouldn't they like prorate it or something, it's like some sort of advanced payment.

And their customer service guy didn't even bother explaining why they were charging me for the 31-35 rates, he just attached a file for me to read it myself, some service huh. Actually the only reason why I choose NTUC is because it's local, that's it, I always read about their poor service and management, and just happened that my agent is my long-time co-worker, so I'm really just helping a friend and also helping myself.

Enhanced IncomeShield Premium Rates

Assist Rider Premium Rates

02 August 2013

Discrepancy in Procedure for Surrendering Long-Term Visit Pass (Update)

So today a lady from ICA named Nabila called me, she explained that there could be a miscommunication, she asked me what was said to me by my wife, I told her when my wife tried to surrender her LTVP at the immigration counter, the officer asked my wife to provide a cancellation form, my wife then called me while I was on my way back home, and I had to rush back to the departure area, I think I told her almost the whole story which I wrote in my last post, except the part where I tripped and fell at the escalator LOL.

After I finished with my storytelling, Nabila sounded very sorry and she apologized, she then said the officer at the counter should have clearly informed my wife on what to do. She said the procedure for surrendering LTVP is to go to the DO Counter (DO for Duty Officer), there my wife will need to fill up a cancellation form to surrender her pass, but this has not been conveyed to my wife. She also said the officer who attended to my wife is her junior and she has spoken to her about this matter.

I felt that Nabila sounded like I might blow up the matter, but actually as long as they would acknowledge their mistake, it's good enough for me, but my concern is whether we would get fined or anything if my wife were to return to Singapore after the expiry date of her LTVP. I told Nabila my concern and she said there would be no fine or penalty, she said they handle many such surrender of LTVP daily.

I wasn't sure why she told me they handle many surrender daily but the "no fine or penalty" part was what I wanted to hear, so I asked whether she would reply to my email with what she said, I explained that I want everything in black and white in case something goes wrong when my wife returns next year, but she said since she has responded to me via phone call so there would be no email reply.

I remained and sounded very skeptical, so she went on to assure me that there would be no fine or penalty, she then mentioned that there were people who surrendered years after leaving Singapore, and they did not receive any fine nor penalty, I was then both surprised and felt a bit glad, sounds like ICA has its merciful side.

Nabila was also kind to ask about my wife's condition when she heard that my wife is pregnant, she also asked why we have decided to follow-up on her pregnancy in Thailand, I told her the story and she sounded sympathetic. She said she has a friend or relative who also had a heart operation and this person cried or something, actually I didn't get her clearly because my phone was having a lot of static.

I forgot how we ended the conversation, but after I hanged up, I realized that I overlooked something important, luckily Nabila called me again, she wanted to close the case with me so I asked whether my wife's LTVP application would be affected if she surrender her pass after the expiry date, she told me she has noted everything in my wife's file, what she has said to me, what my wife should do when she comes back, everything in black and white, exactly what I needed, I can't tell you how glad I felt, it's beyond words.

Phew, a load off my mind.

Oh wait, I forgot something again, I think I should have told her to update their Terms and Condition, instead of writing,

Under regulation 8(5)(f) of the Immigration Regulations, should you intend to leave Singapore and return only after the expiry of the Pass issued to you, you are required to surrender this Card to the Immigration Officer at the Checkpoint at the time of your departure.

They should just write,

Under regulation 8(5)(f) of the Immigration Regulations, should you intend to leave Singapore and return only after the expiry of the Pass issued to you, you are required to proceed to the Duty Officer Counter at the Checkpoint to cancel your Card before the time of your departure.

Isn't it like so much clearer, cancel just say cancel, Duty Officer Counter then just say so, and of course do it before the time of departure because if my flight is 10.55am, that means the plane will fly at 10.55am, so when you ask me what time I depart Singapore, of course it's 10.55am, so just imagine departing and trying to cancel your pass at the same time, how does it make sense?

01 August 2013

Discrepancy in Procedure for Surrendering Long-Term Visit Pass

My wife left for Thailand today to follow-up on her pregnancy, I read a clause in the Terms and Condition for Long-Term Visit Pass that states the following,

Under regulation 8(5)(f) of the Immigration Regulations, should you intend to leave Singapore and return only after the expiry of the Pass issued to you, you are required to surrender this Card to the Immigration Officer at the Checkpoint at the time of your departure.

The "you" in the clause refers to the holder of the LTVP i.e. my wife. Her pass is expiring on 31 Dec 2013, and she will return after that date because her expected period of delivery is around Feb 2014, so that means she will have to surrender her pass.

But when my wife tried to surrender her pass at the immigration counter, the officer told her to provide a cancellation form, my wife then called me and I rushed back to the departure area, I tripped and fell at the escalator, how clumsy of me. I was panicky because her flight was at 10.55am, by the time she called, it was already 10.01am and I was in the bus on my way back home.

So when I reached the departure area, my wife was waiting outside, the problem is that I cannot enter the departure area to speak with that immigration officer, so I spoke to a guy in black jacket, I assumed he is from ICA, but after telling him our problem, and him providing unhelpful answers, I noticed a Jetstar logo on his jacket and realized he is not from ICA, what the hell man, why the heck did he even bother with me, don't know just say don't know, not from ICA just say not from ICA, #%^&%*.

Anyway I spoke to the security staff who checks boarding pass, I thought he is from ICA so I told him my problem, his face tells me he can't help because it seems like he doesn't have any answer for me, so he directed me to the information counter (after that I realized he is from Certis Cisco because he is wearing the same kind of uniform as the guys checking public buses travelling in between airport terminals). Well at least he was quick to direct.

At the information counter, I was met with two ladies, I told them about our problem, it took a while for them to realize what was going on and finally, one of them asked me to go to Lavender (obviously ICA Building) to cancel my wife's LTVP. At this time, I lost my temper, it was already 10.20am, my wife's flight was 10.55am, how the heck would we be able to make it. Then another lady with the word "Customs" on her jacket came to the counter, I thought help has arrived but unfortunately, she can't help much, but at least she tried to understand the situation and I appreciate that. I left the counter with no answer, again.

I didn't think we would find any help in the short amount of time left, so I told my wife to board the plane without surrendering her pass and I'll go home and find out what we should do next rather than waste our time asking around.

After I reached home, I read the Terms and Condition again and again, it clearly states that my wife has to surrender her pass to the immigration officer at the checkpoint at the time of departure, the checkpoint obviously refers to the immigration counter, if not, where else could that be? ICA building? Then why the hell did they put "at the time of your departure"? How in the world would anyone be able to surrender the LTVP at ICA building and then rush to the airport to board the plane?

What is clear to me now is a screw up from ICA, obviously the requirements in the clause does not match with their actual procedure, the question now is, are we supposed to be present at ICA building to cancel our pass and obtain a cancellation form before we proceed to the airport or are we supposed to follow the clause in the T&C?

I called ICA, nobody pick up, I called their Quality Service Manager (QSM), line busy, finally I emailed them and their auto-mailer says they will get back within 5 working days, awesome, luckily I kept REACH in the loop and asked them to help bring my case forward. I must add ICA to my T5GATLTPPO list.


Currently HDB is number 1, followed by ICA, congratulations, well done. *Applauds*

Update: A lady from ICA replied to my mail within 2 hours, she said that they are looking into my case, I am impressed, I thought it would take them at least 5 days to respond, seems like keeping REACH in the loop is a good idea.