Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mobile Internet Data Costs across region... Brunei is most affordable, India is on the other end

Source: Tech In Asia, Socialmeediaweek.org

According to above sources, the most affordable mobile internet is in Brunei, followed by Singapore while the most expensive are Timor, India, Philippines.

I think the study is good but if possible there should be some points need to be considered. Especially the bottom of pyramid folks who occupy the bottom half or more in India, timor etc. If we focus on Mobile Data subscribers that would be a good measurement.

i.e. Take the sample and calculations from those who subscribe to Mobile Data. In that case there would be a huge different IMHO.

I am sure Indonesia, Thailand would be more 'affordable'. 

This is the real FREE Wi-Fi. Kudos to Changi Airport, living up to the credentials and rankings

One thing which frustrates me throughout the world is "free wifi" logo and "unable to connect" or "try after some time" messages.

I will try to take some screenshots from places like SFO, LAX, HKG, NRT where the WiFi experience  is killed by unnecessary advertisements, and clicks. ICN is different but plz take note my korean friends that very few travellers transiting /traveling in ICN international can read korean. Places like CGK, BKK, DEL, BOM, MNL are as good as trying to get free wifi in an US motel. So no point talking about them.  Out of these, CGK used to be the better one but recently the lack of maintenance or increased user traffic started to kill the experience. BKK is shine and shine outside and no substance inside so no comments on that. DEL, BOM: they are interested in your money, so never ever pay for the WiFi (which I did so naively) after the first 30 min free wifi. It doesnt work and they can double charge your credit card.

As always, Singapore is different. Here is a screenshot taken sometime ago at Changi :) Only downside or improvement they can make is the removal of OTP. It can be a registration or certification issue for past visitors (device ID/MAC may be or SIM authentication)




Taking Uber in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to City

Uber is so popular in US, EU and other developed countries where taking a taxi means you need to extremely lucky to get it first, then prepare a fortune, make sure your sense of smell is dead, and finally be humble to get robbed in the forms of tips. 

In asian countries, taxis are not bad and probably you don't need a uber in places like Korea, Hongkong and Singapore. The raid hailing apps or private car sharing apps like Uber, Grab getting plenty of attention in Indonesia, Malaysia & Thailand however. Reasons are mainly due to lack of discipline and professionalism. Be it faulty meter, taking wrong turns, or not going in that direction or cant understand language etc etc. 

So this is my experience during a recent trip to BKK. I saw the taxi queue which was going through multiple rounds and I tried Uber. There is a fixed price for Uber from Airport to City area and the charges shown was THB 355 including tolls. This is great actually as the traffic conditions are unknown in BKK just as in CGK. 

So the app asked me pickup location which I took the "Level-2, Arrivals, Gate-08". So this is just at the same floor after collecting baggage and you need to get out of the place. There is no strict "arrival pickup" place there but just hang-on there. One small tip is to call the driver and share that you are outside the place. Get a local SIM card and this will be very useful. 

The car came in 4 minutes (GPS/App was showing driver was 4 min away) and the car is in much better shape than any taxi. It was a Mazda-3 and the driver can speak basic english which is again a rarity in bangkok. I don't really know why, but the driver choose not to follow the GPS and made few turns here and there before bringing me to my destination. It was on the express way and its a fixed fare so i didnt really bothered. 

Total time it took was around 40 min and THB 355 including tools was the damage. Compared to regular taxi during non-peak hours or no-traffic hours of  THB200-250+THB55 toll+THB50Airport fee, Uber is much cheaper and most importantly this was charged to my credit card. What was not measurable in $ is the service and the feeling of beating hour long queue and able to converse with the taxi driver in english :) 




Friday, January 29, 2016

new direct flight from Singapore to San Francisco. Hurray

Source: CNA

Finally.. That's my feeling. With the large, and comfortable flights the long-haul flights should be a reality but thanks to sky high oil price, the justification failed it. Thanks to shale, or whatever now this is becoming a reality and I am really looking forward to reach my destination in less than 20 hours.

Ofcourse I still wish Concorde is here and I could potentially reach in 8 hours but doubt that is going to happen. Supersonic passenger flights are really a dream for current generation. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

SG Bloggers did a great job by writing an e-book (Investing your first 20,000 dollars), but no recommendation for CPF?

Came across this at work while having a nice cup of coffee to throw the bad feelings on the first monday morning of the year.

http://thefinance.sg/2016/01/04/free-ebook-investing-your-first-20000-by-singapore-finance-bloggers/

This is a good book and the suggestions are wonderful. Probably these young & mature investors are way better than my banker or myself or my friends when it comes to personal finance. But when I looked at the details, and surprisingly one thing is missing.  So the gist of the book is to invest 20K and have some brain dumps.

* you have 20,000 which you do not need for a long time
* No debts and no emergency needs.

Most of the bloggers ended up recommending investing in Index funds or REITs. I am surprised that not even a single soul thought of recommending CPF which is probably the best 'fund' for us according to CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/30/singapores-cpf-saving-plan-beat-markets-in-2015-with-steady-returns.html

If one were to start at 25, and by simply putting 20,000 in CPF and getting a 4%-5% interest would turn this in to 80,000 after 35 years which would be quite sufficient to cover the Medisave :)

Furthermore, there is no headache of worrying about index funds or REIT out of world asset valuations.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Indian students saga - Why students are deported from USA and common misconceptions about VISA

Recently there is a huge issue in Indian state of Andhra pradesh (& a bit in Telengana) about the ill-treatment by USA. As usual the media tried to blow it out of proportion and put emotional headings such as treating students like terrorists, keeping them with some unwanted people (??).  News articles here, here, here, here & here

But if one notices and do a simple search about what is a US VISA, one can clearly see,

http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/frequently-asked-questions/about-visas-the-basics.html

A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry, and the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration inspector authorizes or denies admission to the United States

Similarly, many nations have a 'disclaimer' stating that the VISA doesnt guarantee an entry. Singapore recently became popular with certain nationalities and specific profiles. ICA even explained in an article here

So in a nutshell if someone need to take the blame and be responsible it is none other than the students themselves & their families. First of all, they are just trying to exploit the system of United States and trying to enter under the context of education but with a different motive. It is very clear to any layman that why people are going for studies but with less than $5 in their pockets and with dubious financial arrangements (e.g. my friend will pay first, then i will repay. This was an actual statement from a student).

Probably the Gov need to educate the people and perhaps put a exit visa for students as a sanity check. Be it the people going to middle east on "tourism" visa and end up as workers under horrible conditions (??) or students been deported from USA (may be UK, AU next). But knowing the way India works, it is going to be a dream. Wish, this new year some of my dreams will come true. :)



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Too much over action by Prime Minister Tour organising committee

See the below list. Now, I am not sure I even want to read it. Forget about going to the event. I am expecting a total chaos at the meeting and venue with the too much over action. Is this happening in Singapore? We have various country leaders meeting people in Singapore, and never see such laundry list. Anyway, no food allowed and expect people to sit for 5 hours inside the expo, or you can't even leave the place. Good luck with that.

Thanks for wasting tax payers money, but no thanks Mr. PM.




  1. Entry Passes/Invitations are NON TRANSFERABLE
  2. Please bring a print out of the Entry Pass bearing your name.
  3. Please bring the identification that you provided upon registration for the event i.e. NRIC/FIN/Passport to the venue. We will require original identification card for verification. Photocopies will not be permitted.
  4. Please note that only individuals with Entry Passes/Invitations and the relevant ID will be permitted to enter the venue. NO ID = NO ENTRY.
  5. There will be airport class security at Singapore EXPO and all the rules that apply for airport security shall apply here as well. 
  6. Please arrive early as the event has free seating and the average screening time could exceed 30 mins.
  7. Please do not bring any of the items listed as “not permitted” on your Entry Passes/Invitation:
  8. a)     No outside food and drinks or water bottles are allowed. Water and snacks will be provided free of charge inside the Halls.
    b)     Umbrellas, sharp objects, cigarette lighters are NOT allowed.
    c)     Still Cameras and Video Cameras will NOT be permitted.
    d)     Mobile phones are allowed. No selfie sticks will be allowed.
    e)     Small ladies’ handbags are allowed.
  9. You will be asked to dispose of any items that are not permitted before being granted access to the Halls.
  10. There is limited food available at the EXPO and as mentioned, food and drink will not be permitted inside the Halls. Water and snacks will be provided free of charge inside the Halls however we advise you to eat and come!
  11. Once you enter the Hall, you will not be able to leave until the end of PM Modi’s speech. Restrooms are accessible from inside the Halls and additional portable toilets will be available towards the rear of the Venue.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Income tax collections: A very good lesson India can learn from Singapore

Source: CNA

Singapore shared that in FY2014/15 the Income tax collections grown by 16% and hit SGD 8.9 Billion. This is close to 2.1% of the nations GDP.

On the other hand, India tax collections for FY13/14 it stood at 242856 crores or SGD 53.9 Billion and budgeted for FY14/15 are at 63.1 Billion. From GDP point of ratio this is approx 3.3% of the GDP.

If we see the maximum income without paying any tax in Singapore is SGD 20,000(after deductions), and in India it is INR 250,000 or SGD 6,000.

However if we take the median income of a person in singapore, the effective tax rate is less than 10%. For the same, in India it is higher than 20%. By the way the common man on street in Singapore get "potable tap water, fresh air (except the few weeks of haze contributed by Indonesia) and never go hungry". On top of it there is heavily subsidised healthcare, education and scholarships. I didn't even have to mention the safety & security in the country.

I can easily say (my deduction could be challenged and I am no way posses any insider knowledge) the problem in India is the tax system itself is designed to be backwardish and not for an asian economy. We have to keep it simple and we have to make it easy, and transparent. Unfortunately the people who are honest and paying income tax will end up paying from their noses while those so called business man, big industrialists, and many other unorganized industries end up paying zero tax.

Finally the IRAS (Tax collection body in Singapore) shared another interesting fact.

" It cost 0.8c to collect $1 in tax revenue and they owe this to using technology and simplifying the process".

That's probably the best every anybody could hope for. But knowing Singapore, they would reduce it next year by few percentage points.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Extremely important day for Singapore and millions of people living, working, visiting the amazing nation.

11th Sep 2001 is an extremely horrible day for the world. But fast forward to fourteen years and today it is crucial for millions of people in this tiny nation Singapore.

It's the elections day. I don't think I can sleep tonight and I am eagerly waiting for the results announcement.

There are plenty of blogs, websites, forums, facebook chats but in a nutshell this is the day when 2.6 millions of voters going to decide whether a pragmatic, future looking and hard working party vs other parties who just behave like the parties in India, Indonesia or any other developing country (i.e. focusing on emotional needs, creating the fear of US vs THEM etc).

Singapore is a miracle nation, and it's success can't be attributed to one person. A minor chunk goes to a handful of visionaries led by Mr.LKY, while the rest which is the major portion to goes to it's people who backed Mr.LKY ideas of hardwork, perseverance and pragmatism. But this time, I am hearing some disturbing comments from highly educated, successful and nice people. Which is "preferential treatment based on birth, and most importantly FREE stuff". Unfortunately no person, family, town, state or nation can rely on FREE distribution. Someone need to pay for it.

So looking forward for the people of Singapore to use brain vs emotional hearts, and decide the future of this miraculous nation. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Goodbye Hello Card: No cheap calling cards from Singtel anymore

Source: Singtel

There goes another product which I loved a lot. This time it's Hello card. Basically it is a prepaid international calling card to make cheap (It's ~1-2c / min to many nations in asia pacific) voice calls. On top of it, the icing is you can let it call you back to minimize your outgoing minutes usage.


This is by far the most popular card for many of my friends who still use this as a backup on top of Skype/Facetime/Whatsapp. As most of us experienced, sometimes the plain old voice call using mobile CS is better than blazing fast LTE or WiFi.

Guess one of the reason is the popular Hi card from Singtel which is the mobile prepaid card which bundles cheap voice calls to specific countries and offer custoimzed top-ups based on subscriber country. e.g. topup a package to get 100 min to philippines or something.

Wish Netflix to come soon (they have announced that it's early 2016) and kill my other hated service which is MIO TV :)