Saturday, June 30, 2018

The key to unlock doors

Today, my wife and I went to grocery shopping. We're looking for a pack of Origins Organic hulled millet that my son is eating as a porridge daily. It's running out and we desperately needed a packet to refill it up. It probably didn't help that it was about to rain heavily and I only have about 30 mins turnaround time to get back home because a student is coming for lessons. In other words, I'm looking for a grab and go situation, not really in the mindset for shopping around.

Not my wife.

I went to the usual shelf where the millet is, but it was empty. I searched around neighboring shelves to see whether there are any hidden packs, but I couldn't find any. I thought that it's time to go back empty handed now, and I'm all ready to give up and go home.

Not my wife.

She saw a employee packing some stuff at a nearby shelf, with several large carton of unpacked boxes on a trolley near her. My wife went ahead to ask her if there's any more stock left for the hulled millet. She said it's still in the process of packing. Right now, most people would have left there and then and accepted the fact that nobody is going to buy any hulled millet today.

Not my wife.

She asked if she can help her unpack the cartons containing the hulled millets. And we started partly opening each carton on the trolley to see if they contain the stuff we wanted. If not, we pack it up and move it to another spot, and repeat the process. To an oblivious observer, it seems like we're actually packing the store. Eventually after moving like 5 to 6 big cartons, we managed to find the exact carton with the hulled millet. I think in the process of helping ourselves, we also helped the auntie just a little to unpack the super heavy cartons off the trolley.

This is one of the lessons I'm trying to learn after coming out of school, that there's no definite yes and no and everything is negotiable. Life is not an MCQ (multiple choice question) where there is only one answer in the marking scheme. Human relations is the key to unlock a lot of locked doors out in the real world. Apparently, I needed a revision course on this particular lesson.

Not my wife.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Evolution of worry

Before my kid is born, I am worried about whether he will have genetic faults. The worry is real so both of us went to do some checkup to see if we have any hereditary illness that might be passed down to the next generation.

Then when he is born, I'm worried about whether his hearing is alright. He initially failed the test, but was okay after a second try the following day. When he is still crawling, I worry about whether he can walk. When he starts walking, I worry about when he will start talking.

Basically the worry is always there, just that the thing I worry about changes. That itself is a good thing because the nature of my worry evolves as we grow and mature. It'll be a problem if we keep worrying about the same thing over and over again, because that will mean that we never grow bigger and thus our problems remain the same.

It's interesting being a parent to a growing kid, because you start to see things from its very basic form, evolving to become more complex, and I hope that in the future, it'll become simpler again. A to B and back to A, isn't that back to square one? Isn't that a waste of time? No, I believe the journey itself is the point, not the end point.

My student is sitting for his common test these few days. He worries about whether he will complete the exam on time. But not too long ago, he was worrying about whether he will even pass his O'lvls. I reminded him of it, and he smiled. I also smiled. At the same time, I worry about whether my income can feed the family. Maybe in the future when my health deteriorate, I will worry about whether I can still see my family in the next hour.

While I worry about when my son will start calling me 'papa', I think back about the time when my biggest concern is whether he will be born healthy. All in due time.

And I smile.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

MyRepublic's Uno plan speed testing

Towards the end of May, I switched my mobile plan from a sim only plan from M1 @ $25 per month to MyRepublic's Uno plan @ $8 per month. This plan suits me to a T, because I don't like having a lot of excess data since I only use only 1 Gb per month working at home. I love the free caller id and best of all, there's this thing called boundless data. The plan gives me 1 Gb but if I exceeded 1 Gb of data in that month, I won't be charged for it. Instead, they will throttle the data speed so that you can do the bare minimum of things. If you want a speed that you don't have to rage, then you just need to top up the data and pay more.

The full details of the plan are as follows:

MyRepublic Uno plan 
 - 1Gb data
 - 1000 min talktime and 1000 sms
 - boundless data (throttled speed after 1 Gb)
 - free caller id
 - free incoming calls and sms
 - No contract

The main aim of this article is to highlight the throttled data speed after exceeding the allocated 1 Gb. Does the throttled speed allow you to do the basic stuff like checking email, surf, call (using data) and youtube?

These are the test parameters:

1) I stay in the east, specifically Bedok/Tanah merah area. I work at home and occasionally I'll travel also around the east side. It matters because MyRepublic is under Starhub, so the coverage for different areas will be different.

2) I'm using Android phone, Xiaomi Mi5 and my app for the speed test is Speedcheck Pro.

3) I tested the speed at various timing throughout the day during working hours. No early morning or midnight tests. Also the places where I tested is not crowded with people.

4) I did not do any speed test at any mrt lines while travelling

I'm going to comment on the data speed and quality, email checking, surfing, data calls and also some common apps before and after the throttle.

Here's my data speed before and after the data throttle:

* DL - download speed
* UL - upload speed

I did 6 sets of speedtest before my 1Gb limit is up, and another 6 sets after my 1Gb limit is up. Test parameters of the test had been described above already. You can see that before the throttle, the average download speed is 33.6 Mbps and the upload speed is 9.45 Mbps. After my data limit is hit, the download and upload speed of my data is throttled to 0.23 Mbps and 0 Mbps respectively. In fact, the speed test is interrupted by intermittent connection, especially during the upload part. Can't blame it...each test sends takes 100 Mb of data.

According to the speedcheck pro app that I'm using, they mentioned a rough guide on what is considered laggy and good speed (DL/UL) for different uses. These are screenshot as follows:




Video chat:


Based on the above guidelines, my usage experience before throttle gives me this:

Email: green
Browsing: yellow
Streaming: green
Video chat: yellow
Gaming: yellow

And after throttling:

Email: red
Browsing: red
Streaming: red
Video chat: red
Gaming: red it so bad after my 1Gb limit is reached? I tried emailing myself using a small attachment of about 200kb and felt no difference. Maybe it's a bit laggier, but I wouldn't know much because I don't have a lot of experiences sending email with attachment using my mobile phones. But normal email experience is perfectly fine. While the rating for email is red, I will say it's still usable. Just don't attempt to attach big files to your email and it should be fine.

Browsing feels appreciably laggier. I have to wait for the entire site to load and you can see parts of the site being loaded while others are still waiting. Pictures takes forever to load. I mean I can finish the entire text and still the pictures are still loading. I think browsing experience really deserves a red rating. Don't do serious browsing here, or you'll go crazy and start pulling your hair.

Streaming is a mixed bag. Netflix recommended at least 0.5 Mbps download speed, and we don't have that kind of speed after throttling. I tried to watch Netflix and the "loading...." screen seems to be there all the time. I gave up after a while. As for youtube, you can still continue watching. I find that the best experience for me is to watch it at 240p. Anything higher will have to be continuously interrupted by the loading every 10 s or so. I think 360p is also okay, but you might have to wait a while longer for the loading to be done in ahead before you actually view it. I'm actually surprised I can watch a you tube video after throttling.

Facebook work fine, until you start clicking on the video or the comments. It'll take a little longer than usual to load but it'll work. It's not as irritating as browsing though, so I feel it's still acceptable. Whatsapp messaging feels as normal and I tried the data call from whatsapp too. To me it's okay, and not especially lagging (data call are already laggy). But why would anyone want to data call when there are 1000 mins from voice call? I didn't switch on the face mode though, so perhaps there might be a suitable lag with the data throttle.

I don't game online with my handphone, so I've no comments on that.

Someone did a speed test before and after throttle too and got about the same result as me. The post is linked here. He practically got the same numbers as me, with the download/upload speed as 0.25 Mbps / 0.08 Mbps, so altogether we have 2 sets of independent study on the data throttling by MyRepublic after hitting the data limit of 1 Gb on the Uno plan.

As a side note, I really love their app. At a glance, I can see how much data I have, the number of sms and min of voice call left. If needed, you can top up and get instant data boost. This is one of the most friendly app I've used. I've used starhub and M1, but not circle line. But I suspect these days the telcos are really ramping up on their app to boost user experience.

I especially like it that the app have a date and time to tell me when the next reset is. There are many times when I have to check my contract and guess when the reset is when I'm with starhub and M1. Their app is just not that intuitive. This app even give me the exact time of the reset.


What's not to like about this? As I said, this plan fits me to a T. I understand that there are people who uses more than 1 Gb and this will not be a good fit. As for me, I'm smiling broadly because I save about $200 per year off my handphone bill.

Update 1: 21st Jun 2018 2pm

I just got wind of the fact that 3-4 hrs after I posted this article, MyRepublic no longer have this plan. Now they have 3 plans with the cheapest at $35/mth. Thankfully I didn't wait longer, otherwise I will regret for the rest of my life! Haha, I exaggerate, but yeah...

Update 2: 21st Jun 2018 5pm

A bigscribe member told me that the Uno plan is still available.
1) Go to :
2) Go check out forum to see the promo code to get the Friends Of MyRepublic
3) Sign up Uno plan for $8/mth

But better hurry, not sure when they will really stop the plan once and for all.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Easier to be a good dad than a good mum

When I go out, I always see wives scolding or complaining that their husbands are doing a super bad job taking care of kids. The husband literally just stand there and suck it up while their furious wife is pouring out all her troubles in public. I ever asked my wife if she'll do that to me in the future, and she asked if I'll do that to her instead.

The truth is that it's easy to be a good dad. In fact, it's easier to be a good dad compared to a good mum. The standard of a good dad to hurdle over is way way lower than that of a good mum. I mean a dad just needs to do a little housework, maybe cook a little, wake up at night perhaps once a week and change the diapers once in a month, and he'll be hailed as a national hero to be lauded with praises. "He's a good catch!", says random friends and relatives.

But the mum, despite having to work, look pretty, do housework, cook daily, do night duty almost every day and change the diapers almost every time, will still fall short of expectations. "How come you're still so fat 2 yrs after giving birth?", asked concerned random relatives during family gathering. "How come the baby is waddling in the mud, tsk tsk...the mum is not doing a good job", says observant random passerby.

I see it and I try my best to correct the inequality and unfairness in the whole dynamics. I did my fair share of work, but due to conflict of interest, perhaps only my wife can comment on whether I am really fair and equal in sharing the duties of child caring between ourselves.

To all the fathers who are ticked off by their wives in public, I wish I can help you deflect some of the attention, but you know I can't. The best thing you can do is to step up to the challenge and start being a good dad, by living up to the standard of being a good mum.

Happy Father's day.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Astrea IV private equity Class A-1 bond

Astrea IV is a wholly owned subsidiary of Azalea Asset Management Pte. Ltd, which is indirectly wholly owned by Temasek Holdings. They are issuing bonds from their private equity funds, so this marks the first time we have a retail bond linked to companies that are not publicly listed and thus not accessible to the general non-accredited retail investors like you and me. Wholly shit.


Name: Class A-1 Bonds 10NC5

Interest: 4.35% pa, semi annual payment. If not redeemed after 5 yrs on Jun 2023, will step up to 5.35% pa

Maturity: 10 yrs, on 14th Jun 2028 with scheduled call date on 14th Jun 2023. "Scheduled" is not "optional". If there is sufficient cash set aside for the class A bond to be redeemed, it must be redeemed. It's not an option. 

Application for IPO: Min $2k, with integral multiples of $1k thereafter

Period of application for IPO: 6th Jun 2018 9am to 12 Jun 2018 12 pm

Rating: Expected to be rated Asf by Fitch and A(sf) by S&P

Extra features: There is a bonus redemption premium of an amount not exceeding 0.5% of the principal amount. This means that if the par value if $1.000, the bond might be redeemed at less than or equal to $1.005, if conditions are met. The condition is that the sponsor receives 50% of its total equity (US $313 million) on or before 14th Jun 2023.

You can read more details from the full prospectus here. Product highlight can be found here.

Kyith has a more in depth and detailed write up on this same bond, so if you're into the nitty gritty details, you can check it out here. Kenichi kindly shared this video by Azalea regarding the bonds. Have a look below:


1) Firstly, this is not Hyflux. This is a rated A bond by the rating agency. While I don't give a shit what they say about the bond, ultimately a rated A bond is still better than an unrated bond because the financials support it.

2) Putting money into a bond is lending money to others, who are likely going to take the borrowed funds and invest at a higher returns while giving you a lower interest. If you're not comfortable lending them at 4.35% while they earn an astronomical returns of 15 to 30% and pocketing all the difference, then don't lend. The risk profile of investing in private equity fund directly and lending money to private equity fund in the form of bonds are totally different. While it's true that private equity investors have higher upside, they have a greater downside as well.

3) After IPO, the bonds is going to be transacted in the open market at SGX on 18th Jun 9am. If you're not going to hold until they redeem back, you can sell it off at the market price. The market price is just what the name suggests - it can be higher or lower than the capital you put in, and you still have to include commissions. If you hold until maturity at the 5 yr or 10 yr mark, then you'll get back all your principal, and perhaps plus a little more because of the bonus redemption premium.

4) The interest rate is going up now, so in the event of a huge rise in interest over the next 5 yrs or so, the market price of the bond might go lower. If you can't hold for the entire duration of the bond until they redeem it, you might have to suffer a capital loss. But if you hold till redemption, it'll be redeemed at the principal value, minimally. In other words, it's capital guaranteed upon maturity.

5) Since the interest rate is going up, there might be more enticing bond than this in the future. I wouldn't put my whole warchest into here. A suitable allocation here should be fine. I'll be applying for this. Initially I wanted to put in some new funds from my parent's retirement fund into here, but I think I'm having second thoughts.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Voluntary contributions by self employed

Not too long ago, I received a letter from IRAS that I have to pay for my mandatory contribution to my medisave account as a self employed. It comes up to be $6393. I was mulling through the options that I have, so I might as well share it here since I know there is a dearth of write up just for self employed by self employed.

My situation:

1) I've done voluntary contribution to my CPF for ages, and the reason is to reduce my income tax and also to build a buffer in my OA so that if I have a bad year of income, I can rely on my OA to make payments to my mortgage, which is my biggest expense. And since I've switched to a loan with a floating interest rate, there will be a time when I need to prepay the loan when the interest rate shoots up sky high.

So far, I've saved up about 14 months of full mortgage payment in my OA account. Usually the mortgage payment is split 50-50 with my wife, so this 14 months is full payment for both of us. This means that if both of us are in a tough situation where we don't have income, I can use my OA to pay for the entire mortgage for another 14 months. I'm using a floating interest rate now, and I'm using the figures for the monthly mortgage payment with the assumption that the interest rate increases by another 40%. Should be safe enough but I can do more. Maybe 24 months?

2) Based on my age band, every dollar contributed to CPF will contribute to the accounts in the following ratio:

     OA :     SA   :  MA
0.5677 : 0.1891 : 0.2432

Since I need to do mandatory contribution of $6393, if I were to do voluntary contribution to 3 accounts, I will need to contribute $26,287 (6393/0.2432). That is way way too much for me. I don't want to put in so much into the CPF, tax relief or no.

Of course there is another way out for me. I can also do a voluntary contribution direct to MA alone. So since I need to do mandatory contribution of $6393 to MA, I just need to pay $6393 to MA.

In summary, it's a contribution of $6393 direct to MA or a contribution of $26,287 to the 3 CPF accounts. Both have tax relief, if you satisfy certain conditions.

3) It's a bit more complicated than that, because of the conditions for tax relief. I wrote about the conditions and the various types of contribution here.

I didn't do any voluntary contribution direct to MA in tax year 2017. According to the rules, if I didn't do VC to MA alone in last year, and I want to do VC to MA alone for this year, I won't be eligible for tax relief for this particular contribution. I've checked and confirmed with an officer from IRAS and got affirmation that my thinking is correct.

I did, however, done voluntary contribution to the 3 accounts in tax year 2017, hence if I do the same thing in tax year 2018 (that is, this year), I will be eligible for tax relief.

This means that in tax year 2018, I won't get tax relief for doing VC to MA. There will still be tax relief for VC to all 3 accounts.

3) Hence I came up with 3 plans. Basically it's a combination of both VC to MA direct (without tax relief) and VC to 3 accounts (with tax relief).

Plan A:
Contribute a total of 12k, of which 4.6k is directly into MA, and 7.4k into the 3 accounts.

Based on 7.4k contribution to the 3 accounts, I'll have 1.8k in my MA (7.4/0.2432). Add this 1.8k to the 4.6k contribution direct to MA, I'll have a total of 6.4k into the MA, which satisfies the mandatory requirement for me.

Plan B:
Contribute a total of 14k, of which 4k is directly into MA, and 10k into the 3 accounts.

Based on 10k contribution to the 3 accounts, I'll have 2.4k in my MA (10/0.2432). Add this 2.4k to the 4k contribution direct to MA, I'll have a total of 6.4k into the MA, which satisfies the mandatory requirement for me.

Plan C:
Contribute a total of 16k, of which 3.3k is directly into MA, and 12.8k into the 3 accounts.

Based on 12.8k contribution to the 3 accounts, I'll have 3.1k in my MA (12.8/0.2432). Add this 3.1k to the 3.3k contribution direct to MA, I'll have a total of 6.4k into the MA, which satisfies the mandatory requirement for me.

It's all summarised in this table below. The tax relief is only for the VC to 3 accounts because I didn't do any VC to MA in tax year 2017 (stupid me).

4) This morning I saw the post by Kyith about 2018 July's Singapore savings bond here. The 9 yr rate already exceeds OA's interest rate of 2.5%. 10 yr rate average interest is at This instrument beats OA's interest rate, yet allows you to withdraw relatively short term (1 month max) compared to the CPF. What more do you want?

So, instead of having the CPF contribution, maybe we can do a plan D:

Contribute a total of 6.4k directly into MA. Then put in whatever amount (likely in the range of 8 to 10k) in the Singapore savings bond to get a return similar, if not better, than the CPF-OA account. There is no tax relief for this plan, but I can treat that as a 'cost' for more flexibility in the usage of my funds without the hard lock in under CPF.

I still have half a year to decide and think through the options, and I bet I'll be coming back to this post around Dec to decide by then.