Saturday, December 31, 2005

Xin-Hui gets a REAL fairy costume

Daddy had quite a backlog of department store vouchers to clear, so Xin-Hui got an early birthday present. Unlike mrbrown's day out, however, the shopping experience was really not as good. Over a few short hours at two major Orchard Road department stores, Mommy and Daddy endured several instances of bad service including:

i) a blur cashier who didn't know what an American Express Gift Cheque was and was too bleeding lazy to check. Much easier just to say "no" and hope that the customer will hurry up and get out of your face, mah. Fat hope.

ii) a totally green attendant at a branded lingerie counter who didn't know her stuff, her stock and how to take simple instructions. Seems like the experienced aunties all siam somewhere, just when there was a major sale on.

iii) a facist Nazi attendant at a luxury luggage brand who was more interested in keeping her displays lined up just so, than in making a sale. Hello, you are talking hundreds for a suitcase OK, so what's with the monosyllabic answers?

Totally wrecks your day out, if you ask me. With competition like this, it must be a walk in the park for Robinson's.

The one that Daddy made? Not good enough, OK.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Finding it hard to hit the gym?

Put it this way. Say you are paying $60 a month for your membership. If you go once a month, that session just cost you a whopping $60. Once a week, and it drops to $14. If you haven't gone since September (you know who you are), that workout you just did cost you something like $100. Wow.

Or you can try this alternative (I've heard it really works):

For FB.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

So cute

Jia-Hui: Weahhhhhhh!!!
Xin-Hui: OK, OK, jie jie pei ni... (big sister keep you company)

Jia-Hui has a passport photo taken (nowsaday digital one).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Chinese teenager beats Steve Davis to win snooker's UK Championship

Wow. China boleh.
This one takes the cake

Of all the incredible excesses revealed by KPMG, this one really did it for me:

Nothing to show for $70,000 Las Vegas 'study trip'
The Straits Times, 20 Dec 2005

LAST year, former NKF chief executive T.T. Durai apparently felt that the foundation's annual charity shows had become stale and repetitive and needed the injection of some new performers and cutting edge techniques.

His answer was a study trip that cost about $70,000 to Las Vegas for him and five members of the events marketing team, including a former board member and a senior volunteer.

The executive committee noted: 'The team attended several shows...to study various concepts in entertainment marketing...Since the team intended doing at least three shows in the following year, it was imperative that they do the necessary research for the same. The shows they attended offered various innovative concepts in the use of light and sound,' said the minutes of an October 2004 executive committee meeting.

On the agenda was a sports event at the MGM Grand Hotel and a concert at Caesars Palace. In his written response to KPMG's report, Mr Durai had clarified: 'The purpose of going to Las Vegas was (i) to see and get ideas from the Andre Agassi children's charity show; (ii) to meet the creative directors of the famous Ronald McDonald show; (iii) to gather creative content and experiential ideas so critical for a successful organisation of the NKF's charity shows; (iv) to make useful contacts in the creative arena, for example, to meet show production people; and (v) to try and make contact with top artistes from Las Vegas to attract them to perform in Singapore in an NKF charity show.'

Yeah, right.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Maidless

Or "helperless", for you PC types. Daddy is just not feeling PC at all towards our love-them-hate-them domestic help right now. Or the bloody businessmen who bring them in either. Why?

Because on Monday morning, the maid ran away. Yup, just upped and walked out when Mommy was having a shower, leaving the door unlocked and the baby unattended. Mommy couldn't get hold of Daddy on the phone and SMSed him about it. Meanwhile, Daddy was in the midst of a meeting getting hit with enough work to make a grown man cry. It was not a good morning.

And some more this is the new maid, who has been with us for all of two weeks (we got rid of the previous one after she developed a major attitude problem). Seems she (the new maid) never wanted to come work in Singapore in the first place, and said that the agent coerced her to. NB, then the agent still recommended her to us.

So she got this bright idea, probably from some friend, to run to the embassy, with a pack of lies about how badly we treated her. From the embassy's point of view, once that happens, the employer has to foot the bill to send her home. No evidence needed, no negotiation. And she's off the hook on her loan from the agent too. Good deal, if you ask me.

So we got through these few days with the house looking mostly like a war zone until today. Help from the folks is not really forthcoming, so we got Xin-Hui's old confinement lady to come in for two weeks to help out while we got another maid. What to do, just spend more money lor. Now Daddy understands why some people never let their maids out of the house, never let them have the keys, and screen all their letters.

Daddy thinks part of the problem is with the gahmen (arthen?). Bloody because we are paying the maid levy, we can't afford to pay our maids as much, and therefore cannot compete with the HKers and Taiwanese for quality domestic help who actually want to do an honest job. Pay And Pay, as they say.

So it's back to the bloody lottery of getting a new maid, and doing the training all over again. It's a necessary evil that in an ideal world, we'd be better off living without.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Then again, ah, Mr Ee...

I was just thinking further from my last post, especially on the large amount of new money that is likely be needed if NKF's reserves were to last for its target of another 10 years. Why 10 years? Because the majority of dialysis patients live longer than this.

Now I am no charities expert, but I really wonder whether NKF *absolutely must* provide for the expected lifespan of its patients in its reserves. Like as if all its sources of funds could disappear anytime just like that, totally without warning. Bear in mind we've been through the Asian financial crisis, 9-11, SARS and the Durai crisis, and yet I believe the majority of NKF's donors have stayed faithful to the cause.

My question is this: Should the NKF not weigh the probability (or improbability) of a dramatic fall in its donations against the need for a high level of reserves? After all, every dollar (or million) sitting in NKF's reserves could be a dollar spent on a more desperate need.

How about this: Supposing the NKF's yearly donations are at level which is sufficient for its operational needs and a little set aside for future capital expenditure. Then, supposing the NKF sees a 30% chance that all contributions could cease, and that if this happens, it still wants to be able to provide for its patients for another 10-15 years. The appropriate level of reserves might then be 3-4.5 years (30% multiplied by 10-15 years).

This, IMO, could be the larger question.

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By golly, Mr Ee, you're not kidding!

Call it an occupational hazard, but when the NKF issued a press statement saying that their reserves could run out in as little as 4.5 years, I decided to check out whether it was reasonable (you know, given the wide-ranging views on this issue). So I got hold of their latest financials, and did a little projecting of my own.

To cut a long story short, I forecast that NKF will run out of funds as early as 2011, just a year longer than NKF's projection. I think what most people (including me) did not realise was that the number of dialysis patients could grow by about 10% a year. If we assume that NKF will not shut its doors to new patients, this means that its patient load could double in roughly seven years. This puts a larger strain on resources than previously thought. Also, when I looked at the financials back in the Durai-controversy days, I did not assume that they will cut dialysis fees, which would have been a further drain.

So I guess its safe to take out your wallets now, folks. In fact, I estimate that the NKF will need S$530m in its reserves (from S$206m currently) if they were to last for 10 years which is what the NKF is targeting. In other words, reserves no enough.

Here are my workings:


And this is what I did. First, I took the 2004 statements and adjusted them (column 2004A and 2004P) to what they would have been if the NKF:

1. Stopped collecting funds and placed all their reserves in no-interest checking accounts.
2. Cut out all fund-raising, PR and investment management (woe to my industry!) costs, leaving dialysis and admin costs.
3. Halved dialysis fees.

From 2006, I assumed that the NKF will:

1. See patient load rise by 10% a year, in line with recent trends.
2. Be able to cut dialysis cost per patient by 10% in 2006, but will see cost rise by 2% a year thereafter.
3. Raise dialysis fees per patient by 2% a year, after halving them.

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