Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Taiwan's Funny Internet People

Singapore has its list of funny / interesting people, like MRT Ip Man and Lian vs Auntie. In Taiwan, an online vote was conducted recently to pick the top 10 boliao (useless) news. Granted that it is a bit boliao to vote for the top boliao news, but it was interesting cause it shows that weird and funny people exists all over the world. Let's look at a few of these people worth mentioning.

Similarly to Singapore, Taiwan also like to give nicknames to these people - these nicknames are usually formed based on the nature of incident that these funny people are in, followed by appending it with a brother (哥/弟) or sister (姐/妹) at the end.

1. 猴抓妹 (Sister 'Monkey Pull')

The story: Charmian Chen (陈维芊), or known online as 猴抓妹 claims that she was holidaying in Bali when two long-tailed macaques started to pull down her dress, apparently in an attempt to retrieve a piece of corn that has fallen into her top. Her friend who was with her on the trip continue to photograph this 'wardrobe malfunction' while Charmian continue to cover herself as best as she could (at the same time, smile at the camera??). Subsequently, these photos were posted online and immediately went viral, earning her interviews on Taiwanese talk shows to talk about her incident, and also a mention in British news. Some netizens however, thinks that the whole episode was staged, so as for her to gain some fame and the chance to appear on TV. Whether or not it was staged, it did give her the fame as she is now appearing quite frequently in Taiwanese talk shows and modeling in press magazines.

2. 是否哥 (Brother 'Is It?')

The story: Guy drives thru a Mcdonald's store in Taiwan at night, wanting to order spicy fried chicken, and specifically wanting the drumstick portion for both pieces in the set. Unfortunately, the restaurant had only one piece of spicy fried chicken drumstick left and it will take up to an hour to defrost and prepare the other piece, and the guy was offered other options of either a non spicy piece or a spicy piece from another part. The guy refused the offer and begins to argue with the cashier / server, who happens to be the manager of the store. He also whips up his camera to record the proceedings, so as to post it online hoping it will go viral and to gain support for him. The video did go viral, but most of the comments were in support of the store manager, who during the entire session, appeared to be very patient and apologetic about the whole incident and even offered to get a piece of the spicy fried drumstick from a nearby Mcdonald's store. The nickname of 是否哥 was because during the entire session, he keep repeating the term 是否 many times.

3. 憑什麼姐 (Sister 'Who do you think you are?)

The story: During an interview on a Taiwan variety show talking about the topic of famous Taiwan internet people, Chen Xiao Rou (陈小柔), also known as 憑什麼姐 declared that she used her Facebook account as a wishing well - whenever she wants something, especially luxury goods, she will just post the desired thing on Facebook and one of her admirers will immediately give it to her the following day. She added that she does not feel embarrassed about receiving such gifts as she felt that she deserves it. Immediately after this broadcast, the internet was abuzz commenting that based on her looks and figure, who does she think she is ( 憑什麼) that she deserves such a high following as well as expensive gifts from the followers.

4. 非洲槟榔生气哥 (Brother 'Angry Betel Nuts from Africa')

The story: Basically, its just a recording of an Hokkien speaking African who is lambasting, amongst other things, that size of a pack of betel nuts have significantly shrink that have gone viral.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Buying a resale flat from the open market - CPF Valuation Limit (VL)

Just something that I would like to share in case you may not know.

If you have purchased, or thinking of buying a HDB resale flat from the open market, with the intent to pay it off using your CPF monies, please note that there is such a thing called a Valuation Limit (VL)

What is Valuation Limit?
Copied and pasted from CPF website "The Valuation Limit is the lower of the purchase price or the value of the property at the time of purchase"

E.g. 1 - Your resale flat is valued at $200k and you bought it for $250k, the VL is $200k
E.g. 2 - Your resale flat is valued at $200k and you bought it for $180k, the VL is $180k

What does that mean?
This means that if you are buying a resale flat, you will only allowed to use you and your spouse's CPF monies up to the valuation limit, and the rest of the amount would have to be forked out in cash. An example is as below

E.g.  - Let's say you intend to purchase a resale flat at $300k, which is the valuation set for your flat at time your purchase. You are able to pay off upfront of $30k and the rest of the amount will be paid over 30 years via HDB loan with interest at 2.60% pa. Based on the loan you are taking, which is $270k, your total interest incurred over 30 year will be $119,130, making your total amount payment for this loan of $270k to be $389,130. As above, the valuation limit is set at $300k. However, you would have to minus of $30k, which was the amount of CPF money that you have used for the initial down-payment, resulting in you only able to use $270k to pay for the loan of $389,100 and as such you would have to fork out $119,130 in cash. This amount may look large, but note that it is based purely on the premise that if you continue to service the loan on a monthly basis with the same amount you would have used if paying by CPF deduction. I guess for most people, when they reach the VL, and have been notified of it, they would have paid HDB a visit to re-work out a refinancing arrangement.

Please note that there are two conditions that will still allow use to continue to use your CPF monies to service the housing loan when your VL is reached. The two conditions are

(1) If you are below 55 and your CPF ordinary account has more than half of the CPF prevailing minimum sum, you can use the excess money to service this loan.

(2) If you are above 55, you may use the excess CPF ordinary account savings to repay the loan, after setting aside the minimum sum cash component shortfall. [source: CPF]

How does it affect me?
My gut feel is that it will not affect most people who have bought a resale flat from the open market  because of the following cases

(1) When you eventually have the capacity to 'upgrade', and decided to sell your current house, it is likely that the valuation of the house would have increased, and the valuation amount is able to cover the price of the house + whatever interest owned to HDB at the point of time.

(2) When your VL is hit, it is likely towards the later part of the loan period (20-25 years thereabouts). If you and your spouse earns a steady income, by then, both you and your spouse should have enough to set aside half of prevailing minimum sum, and use the excess to service the loan.

Thus, you can see that the VL should not affect most people much, and the actual cash amount that needs to be paid eventually (if any at all), should be minimal, or at least affordable on a monthly basis. However, its a little clause that I think a lot of people don't know about. At least for me, when I was sitting in the HDB office signing the documents to purchase my flat, I am certainly not aware of this VL thingy, and by the way the officer has explained, I would have thought that I would be able to pay off my entire HDB home loan purely on my CPF account.

In the next post, I would share how this you may actually be affected by this VL in some cases.