Dear NTUC Income.

Last year, I wrote about how convenient your service was when it came to renewing my motorcycle insurance.


Motorcycle insurance renewal letter: no, I'm not interested in calling my agent or your 24-hour customer service hotline! I just want to click a button and give you my money!


NTUC Income Online: where is the renew button for me to renew my motorcycle insurance?

What is – I don’t even – which hamster told you that customers are desirous of this heinous pigletry???

I don’t want to “call [my] agent or [your] 24-hour hotline” because I don’t need to talk to a human being to do this.

I just want to click a button and give you my money so that you can insure Le Poots and I – that is all.

Like what you see in this picture here, just in case you’ve forgotten what convenience and customer service is all about:

Customer service and convenience, circa 2010.

At the same time, it seems my premium has increased to $322.58. Why?

If you think this is an uneducated grouse, don’t worry – I know what the basic principles of insurance entail.

Nevertheless, my question centres on a logical Key Performance Indicator that all efficient insurers should adopt (or should have at least adopted), and that is: insurers must aim to maintain or reduce the year-on-year premiums that a customer has to pay.

But why can’t insurers meet that aim in Singapore?

Is it because of:

I have no ready answers.

But if anything, ladies and gentlemen, this is yet another reason why we need honest and customer-oriented people in charge of the organisations and institutions in our country.

What is with this excessive tree-pruning obsession?

The excessive pruning of trees - disapprove.

I’m not against the pruning of trees, because pruning does help at times in terms of improving the aesthetics or safety of a place.

What I’m against is the excessive pruning of trees all over Singapore that takes place on a regular basis.

(At the same time, I do wish more trees could be planted in Singapore, but that’s another battle for another time).

That tree gave some much-needed shade to Pooters – something I appreciate because I hate sitting on an over-heated seat and I hate knowing Pooters is exposed to the elements.

There are other benefits to trees in our urban environment too: carbon sequestration, reduction in ambient temperatures, etc. Read more here.

That’s why trees are especially important in a place like sunny Singapore and in a world stricken by global warming.

However, I’ve always felt that whoever makes decision like these – e.g. to prune trees excessively – do so in the right spirit: to neaten and hence beautify the place, to prevent tree branches from falling and killing people during a gale or a storm, etc.

Unfortunately, these decisions seem to always be made in a vacuum, without consideration of other important factors like the ones I mentioned above: shade, shelter, preventing global warming, etc.


I think this has to do with encouraging critical thinking and providing these people with an actual knowledge of circumstances in our world today.

And that’s why it has never been more important for us to move away from subjects taught in the traditional curriculum, to teaching slightly more multidisciplinary and ‘real-world’ subjects like biodiversity or environmental ethics now.

Elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hogs.

Black Pooters

I’m extremely annoyed with the lack of ethics that a lot of Singaporean mechanics possess.

These wrangling pirates revel in a cut-throat ethos that places their customers’ needs below their shop’s bottom line.

To explain, Pooters’s battery finally yielded the ghost at the start of the work-week.

Because I didn’t have the time to get a replacement earlier, I went down to the shops near my home in the hope that I could buy a battery, return home, fix Pooters up, and carry on with the rest of my Saturday.


I was quoted a price of $90 at one shop and $60 at the next shop. I knew a battery didn’t cost that much, but I had no way of verifying that at that point in time.

Anyway, I gave some excuse about having to make sure it was the correct model and left the shops.

But I was so furious that they tried to take advantage of me obviously because of my n00b-ly ‘jiak kentang’ demeanour/inability to speak a Chinese language well: Hokkien Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, etc.

Pseudo-sociological ramblings aside, this pillagery probably worked last time in the age of no Internet.

Now that information is more perfect than it was before, however, a phone call to Lim Ah Boy (LAB) Shop when I got home provided more clarity – a Yuasa 12N9-4B-1 battery is worth $32, if it matters to anyone else.

I learnt something though: I could have saved myself much grief if I had called up the shops to check the prices + convinced myself that the trip down to LAB was worth the trouble.

Since the worm of conscience will never begnaw the souls of most of these louts, I’ve never been more convinced that there’s probably a market for English-speaking, socially-conscious motorcycle mechanics.

Unfortunately, there’s only so much one can do with a BA in English (and a PGDE to boot). But if you’re my student, and you can tell me how many King Richard III references I’ve made, you win a prize.