Thursday, March 24, 2011

Give me a choice, ST


I have been a reader of The Straits Times for as long as I can sanely remember – a critical reader, if I may add. I am generally pleased with the quality of issues you cover.

But in recent weeks, I have found that your coverage of Singapore issues focuses too much on the political climate here, in particular on the People’s Action Party. I also cannot help but find your reports less than objective. (For completeness, I should disclose I support my constituency’s current Member of Parliament, who is from the PAP.)

I appreciate that the General Elections are around the corner and this is an issue of public interest. I also accept that you have a clear editorial policy which endorses the PAP “as the best choice for Singapore” in an election. As such, it is inevitable you feel a profound sense of duty in going into overdrive mode to justify your endorsement.

Nevertheless, as I much as I respect your choice and defend your prerogative to do so, I would request that you give subscribers like me an option to either:
a. Receive your newspapers without the Singapore political news sections until the day falling 7 days after Polling Day; or
b. Suspend our subscription to your newspapers from now until the day falling 7 days after Polling Day.

I hope you can be fair in your dealings with your consumers. Give consumers like me a choice to opt out of your Singapore political news coverage temporarily.

Dharmendra Yadav

Please consider the environment. Do you really need to print this?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reader's Question: Singapore Foreign Lawyer Examination

I now receive queries not just from potential law students but also current ones. Here is one I recently received.


I am a final year LLB student from India. I am interested as to what are the means in which I can work in Singapore and take up the newly introduced 'Foreign Practitioner Examination' (FPE).


The FPE will be administered by the Singapore Institute of Legal Education. Details are currently being finalised.

The Minister for Law did provide some insights into this when he addressed the Singapore Legislature recently.

Some of the points he touched on may affect you:
a. Qualify in a foreign jurisdiction.
b. Gain some useful and substantive experience in that jurisdiction.
c. Be employed by or hold a job offer from a firm in Singapore.

If you pass, you will only be allowed to practise in a specific area (excluding litigation and certain domestic areas of law).

In essence, focus on becoming a good lawyer in India, and Singapore will open its doors for you.

For example, more Indian companies are looking east towards public listing in Singapore. That is an area of corporate law you may wish to consider.

Alternatively, consider doing a Master's qualification in law in either National University of Singapore or Singapore Management University. After you complete the course, you can apply to work in a local law firm (as a legal executive) or in an in-house legal department (which invites applications from fresh graduates).

Dharmendra Yadav

Please consider the environment. Do you really need to print this?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Choices After 'A' Level

The GCE ‘A’ Level results were released some weeks back. Traditionally, this is the time of the year when I receive many queries from those who have collected their results.

Many contact me about the options they have, specifically in relation to studying law in England & Wales.

Some of them have the luxury of unconditional offers from multiple universities. Some have conditional offers but didn’t quite make the grade. There are always the few who, like me, did not do so well at such examinations and do not know what to do next.

To all these people, I offer a similar line of thoughts.

Choices are never easy to make. Take your time to make these choices – of course, ensuring you work within any deadlines given to you in relation to offers from universities! Unlike most of my peers, I knew from the age of 14 that I wanted to study law in university. When I did not do so well in my ‘A’ Level examinations, I had two years (in national service) to decide my next steps.

Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of making any decision. Research, research, research! One tipping point for me in accepting an offer from Leicester Law School was I wanted a school where the faculty took a personal interest in you, and where you could make lifelong friends. I got this impression talking to past and present students, and the then teachers at the law school.

When you finally make a choice, make the most of it. Take advantage of as many of the opportunities as reasonably possible, which flow from that decision. Enjoy the journey!

Today, some 12 years on, I can confidently reflect that accepting that offer from Leicester Law School was one of the best decisions I made in my life. My stint there played an integral role in shaping my personal values and my professional career.

Dharmendra Yadav

Please consider the environment. Do you really need to print this?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Buying Motor Insurance

Singapore drivers have had to deal with rising motor insurance premiums in recent years. This trend is not isolated to Singapore. Despite this trend, there are still people who do not shop around for suitable insurance cover.

I bought my first car in Singapore last year because of the low car prices. The purchase was made just before car prices started to shoot up.

One of the things that struck me was the high insurance premium I would have to pay. I wanted insurance cover with low excess, breakdown / roadside assistance in Singapore and West Malaysia, and the flexibility a workshop near where I worked or lived. My problem was made worse as I had two inexperienced or young drivers in my family, who would use the car.

My friends, who have had the benefit of many cars in Singapore, told me that it would be no use shopping around. They said most of the insurers offered similar benefits with the same premiums.

I had owned two cars in England previously, and that experience impressed upon me the necessity of shopping around for suitable insurance cover.

I initially started by contacting an insurer that is traditionally featured for its focus on this area. I found its plans to be expensive and unsuitable for my needs.

What my friends shared generally turned out to be true but this assessment was not accurate with a financial adviser I approached after. While the financial adviser could tailor a cover to meet my needs, the plan was still expensive (even though cheaper than the insurer).

In the end, I bought my insurance online from a new kid on the block, Direct Asia. I compared their quote with what my financial adviser had found. It was about 20% lower.

My financial adviser was candid enough to admit that it would be the best price I would get for the kind of cover I was seeking. My financial adviser suggested Direct Asia was able to offer low rates as they were new, with a low claims experience.

I have been with Direct Asia for almost a year now, and I haven't had any complaints. I have also gone on to purchase travel insurance cover from them, which are similarly competitive.

Nevertheless, I guess the real test will come when I have to make a claim against their policies.

It is important to shop around for suitable insurance cover.

Dharmendra Yadav

Please consider the environment. Do you really need to print this?