Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bank Relationship Managers

Bank Relationship Managers

Can you trust your Bank Relationship Manager with your savings?

Bank Relationship Managers credibility has taken a beating recently because of investments related to the failure of the Lehman Brothers (the fourth largest investment bank in the US). Structured products by other investment banks, not related to Lehman Brothers, have also dropped to a miniscule 9 to 12 percent of their original value because their underlying value is still pegged to the performance of a large number of companies, including Lehman Brothers.

Many Singapore retirees, uneducated, Chinese speaking, first-time investors and normally conservative investors were left holding what could be worthless / devalued papers that were once believed by investors to be as “safe” as fixed deposits. A number of them obviously did not know what they were investing in and referred the minibonds as "mini-bongs". One of them was reported to have lost as much as $600,000 of their lifetime savings (money meant for their golden years) by investing in these high risk investments.

Approximately 9,750 Singapore investors who have invested over $501 million into structured products linked to Lehman (such as Lehman Minibonds, Morgan Stanley Pinnacle Note 7 (sold by UOB, OCBC, Hong Leong Finance, Standard Chartered and Maybank, among others), DBS High Notes 5 and Merrill Lynch Jubilee Series 3 LinkEarner Notes).

Over 80 percent of investors buying the Minibond Series 2 & 3 and Merril Lynch Jubilee Series 3 noteholders invested up to $50,000. On the other hand, 28 percent bougth $10,000 or less, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

In the case of DBS High Notes 5, more than 1,400 retail investors bought $103 million worth of notes. More than half of them invested $50,000 or less. According to DBS, 80 percent of their High Notes 5 customers are aged below 62 years.

Frankly, I think DBS should give us statistics about the affected customers below age 45. It is much too late for these people rebuild their nest eggs at the ripe old age of 62. Are they expecting these people to work until the age of 80? Who is going to employ them at the age of 62? This scene is played out not only in Singapore but also in Hong Kong, Taiwan and elsewhere.

Who is to blame for this state of affairs? Many point the blame on the Bank Relationship Managers. Others lay the blame on the banks selling these products. Based on my numerous dealings with Bank Relationship Managers in Singapore, I reckon that the blame lies equally between banks and their front line employees and the investors themselves who don’t realize that whenever there is slightly higher returns, it usually translates to an increase of risk to the product they invest in. In normal markets, the risk is low. In distressed markets like the current Credit Crisis, the risk will suddenly become extremely high particularly if there is a default or bankruptcy.

In my many close encounters with Bank Relationship Managers here, I’ve yet to meet one Bank Relationship Manager who would say that their investment product is risky and that your risk profile does not qualify you to buy the product. It is like expecting a car salesperson to tell a prospective buyer not to buy their company’s car because it not has as many safety features as a competitor’s car of the same price and quality.

Also do not expect the bank relationship manager to be an expert on the products and able to tell you all the risk features of the product. There is a high turnover of bank relationship managers, so you won’t expect to see them again after the sale.

Unlike insurance agents, you can't have a long term business relationship with your bank relationship manager. Insurance agents are paid for the sale of an insurance product over a period of lifetime of the product, and are therefore more motivated to promoting products that are more suitable to their clients needs so as to enable them to have a long term business relationship with their clients. Bank relationship managers, on the other hand, are paid a monthly salary or a one-time sales commission. This coupled with the focus on selling to meet their quarterly targets and rarely on the emphasis on ethical selling can lead to potential problems like what we see now. They continually switch portfolios / companies in the course of their career.

What you must realize is that the Bank Relationship Managers, like stock brokers, are not your friends. Nor are they your investment adviser. If you have not paid them a fee for professional investment advice, and they are not professional financial advisers (aka wealth planners), don’t expect independent investment advice from them. They are bank salespeople who make an income promoting the bank's investment products. You have to do your own homework, just like investing in the stock market.

What you can do to prevent making investment mistakes when talking to Bank Relationship Managers

When talking to Bank Relationship Managers, you have to be careful what you say to them. Their role is to find out your hot buttons. They will sell you a product based on your responses. Some of the questions you could ask your bank relationship manager are:

  1. What is the worst-case scenario for this investment if the market turns really bad?
  2. Is this product something like the Lehman Brothers Minibonds or the DBS High Notes?
  3. Please show me relevant clauses in the sales contract which mentions the risks to this investment. (This is usually found in the section on “Risk To Investor” or similar worded heading)
  4. I don’t understand this clause. Please explain these clauses to me in layman terms. Terms like “first-to-default”, reference entities”, “credit event”, and "credit derivative”. If you don’t understand any of these clauses, then maybe this is not the investment product for you. As the well-known investor, Warren Buffet once said: “If you don’t understand how the investment works, don’t invest in it”.
  5. If I need to exit early from this investment, what are my options?
  6. If things turn really bad, what are my options to exit the investment? How much money can I get back?

When your bank relationship manager does the mandatory Customer Needs Analysis at the end of their sales presentation, they will have to ask you what your "Risk Profile" is. Tell them that you are “very conservative” irrespective of your investment profile previously. The rationale for this declaration is if you are promised something as safe as fixed deposit, that for all intents and purpose, you are making a conservative investment, and therefore for this case, you are a “conservative investor”. This will help you later on if you want to make a complaint of mis-selling.

You can also ask to put a note in the Customer Needs Analysis that you are buying this product because it is as safe as fixed deposit / savings deposits. Normally, they won't agree to this. When the bank relationship manager tells you it is not necessary, ask to see the bank manager to get confirmation on this. This gives you an opportunity to re-evaluate your decision to invest in the product.

If your Bank Relationship Manager tells you that the product or investment amount is “guaranteed” “safe’, ask them to show you where in the sales prospectus, this is mentioned. Make sure you take away a copy of the prospectus and keep it until the maturity of your investment.

What’s Next for Bank Relationship Managers?

In its strongest worded statement to the financial institutions to date, MAS has asked the banks to "do the right thing", that they "should not take an "overly legalistic" approach in dealing with such cases" (Straits Times, 18 Oct 2008). MAS said that the "financial institutions should reach a fair settlement in full or in part. "We are focusing on cases of mis-selling to vulnerable customers and on cases where the product were clearly inappropriate for them given the circumstances, said Heng Swee Keat, MAS managing director.

MAS said it has directed the financial institutions concerned to interview each customer within 2 days of receipt of the complaint. Following which, these institutions have to complete a review of the complaints and update the customers within 4 weeks of the interview.

Investors who are not satisfied with the outcome may refer their complaints to the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (FIDRC) for mediation or adjudication. The FIDRC mediation process is free of charge and if the case goes to arbitration, the cost to the customer is just $50. FIDRC usually deals with claims not exceeding $50,000. But in the case of structured products, the centre has agreed to hear all "deserving cases".

With former NTUC Income CEO, Tan Kin Lian taking up their cause, investors are asking a return of 50-70 percent of their money. If they hire lawyers, the money they get back eventually may be even less.

It is good to hear that Hong Leong Finance, which distributed Lehman Minibonds, said it "will focus special attention on those above 55 years old, less educated and first time investors in structured products.

Maybank said that it has to date, contacted 50 percent of customers with complaints to schedule interviews. It told The Straits Times that it is also dealing with "vulnerable customers" first.

Many people are also unhappy and are demanding an overhaul on how banks sell high risk investments like structured products. They also want to see stricter guidelines on the way such investments are marketed right down to printed materials and even who should buy them. They also hope that the qualifications and training of the bank relationship managers be looked into and proper checks and balances are instituted by the banks to ensure that these bank relationship managers put the clients' interest first before the banks interests.

MAS confirmed that they have been conducting formal inquiries into allegation of breaches of the law, inadequate internal controls by the financial institutions, or poor sales practices by their bank representatives.

If there is no change in the way such risky investments are marketed, more people are likely to suffer the same fate of those who invested in these risky notes. For many of the affected people, this is as good as having experienced the Great Depression if they don't get a major part of their money back. Who could have foreseen they would have lost so much of their hard earned cash in one fateful week in September 2008. Yeah, sure, many people knew that there was a Sub-Prime Crisis in the US. But who could have predicted the magnitude of its effects in Singapore.

The lesson to be learned from this Credit Crisis? Don't put all your eggs in one basket, don't buy everything at one go and don't take everything at face value. Believe in your own fallibility. Don't be so eager to sign up if don't understand what you are investing in. Do your homework or get outside help. Certainly don't think your bank relationship managers are financial gurus who are going to make you rich. As they say in investment circles: "There's no such thing as a free lunch". Even if a free lunch is provided, there always is a price to pay.

© - bank relationship managers

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

AIA Singapore To Be Sold

AIA Singapore To Be Sold

AIG has finally come out to say that it may offload a minority share (up to 49 percent) of its foreign insurance units ie AIA (including its Singapore), a sale that analysts say could bring in US$20 billion to the debt strapped US behemoth. (Weekend Today, 4 October 2008, Strait Times, 7 October 2008).

AIA Singapore SoldAfter denying for the longest time, AIA Singapore’s parent company finally announced plans to sell its profitable life insurance operations in the US, Europe, Latin America, South Asia and Japan in order to raise cash to repay a US$123 billion loan from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. AIG had drawn down US$61 billion of the facility as at the end of September. The unprecedented Fed loan was given as AIG was deemed to big to be allowed to fail (being the third largest investment pool in the world). AIG incurred US$18 billion in losses over the past 3 quarters from guarantees it wrote on mortgage derivatives.

According to AIA Singapore president of operations, Mark Wilson, the announcement meant that AIG would retain majority interest in the AIA companies, which hold the life insurance business in Asia. AIG operates a general insurance business in Asia under the AIG name. Mr. Wilson said that the introduction of one or more minority investors will ensure the AIA companies’ ability to grow to their full potential in future years”.

Mr. Edward Liddy, CEO of AIG said that he prefers to sell “large slices” of AIG to “brand name” companies because that strategy will hasten sales and benefit customers and employees. AIA Singapore is one of the largest insurers with 4,000 agents and 2.6 million policies. Across Asia, AIA has over 20 million policyholders and over 200,000 agents.

AIA is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIG. If AIG decides to sell its Singapore operation, it would have to seek approvals from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which would look at, among other things, the capital structure of the buyer to ensure that AIA's business goes into the hands of a stronger company.

This is a positive news for AIA policyholders. I know this for a fact because I did not suffer any disadvantage when ICS was sold to AVIVA when my policy was three-fourths into maturity.

As AIG had said earlier, its Asian operations are the “jewel in the crown” of AIG. AIA Singapore has total assets valued at $24 billion, including five buildings.

Mr Mark Wilson, regional president of AIG Life Companies and AIA president reiterated that AIA Singapore had a capital adequacy ratio of more than 200 percent, well above the regulatory minimum of 120 percent. What AIA is saying is it has sufficient capital to pay up the guaranteed benefits and cash values of all policies here. Also life funds, which invest the premiums that policyholders pay, are also invested conservatively.

AIA Senior VP, Tan Soo Thiam said about 25 to 28 percent of the assets are in local government bonds that are very liquid. The rest of the assets are held in investment grade securities that have experienced some price volatility in line with turmoil in financial markets.

Sale of AIA: Potential Buyers

India's Tata Sons is said to be in talks with AIG for a stake of AIA which has more than one million customers in Singapore. Tata Sons, the holding company of India's second biggest industrial group. Tata Sons runs two joint ventures with AIG, a life insurance firm Tata AIG Life and a general insurance firm Tata AIG General. Tata Sons owns 74 percent whilst AIG owns the balance.

Canada's Toronto-based Manulife Financial Corp is reportedly another company interested in the Asian assets of AIG. Singapore’s former general manager, Mark O’Dell left AIA Singapore on Sept 18 to head Manulife’s Taiwan operation. O’Dell’s departure from AIA Singapore at the height of the crisis caused a lot of unhappiness and uncertainty among AIA' Singapore’s 1 million policyholders with 2.8 million policies in force.

Other potential suitors includ rival insurers like Britian's Aviva, Prudential and China's China Life and Ping An.

In my opinion, it would be better if the sale of AIA goes to its former Chairman and CEO, Maurice R Greenberg better known as "Hank" who has expressed interest in buying the AIG units. Hank Greenberg, who has been with AIG from 1962-2005 and who was instrumental in building AIG into a leading insurer, is the best person to add value to AIG shareholders and AIA policyholders. After Hank Greenberg left A.I.G., he became chairman of C.V. Starr and Company, a private insurance brokerage firm. (The company was named after CV Starr, the founder of AIG who groomed Hank to succeed him after Starr retired from AIG) Hank however continue to retained his AIG stock, which in 2006 was worth $21 billion until the company’s fortunes started to plummet. According to reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Sept. 25, Greenberg and the entities sold 40 million shares of AIG for US$125.9 million (BestWire, Sept. 26, 2008). Greenberg has strong ties with key leaders of the two political parties going back many decades.

Panic in the Streets: AIA Singapore

What a traumatic time it must have been for the poor AIA Policyholders. At the height of the crisis of confidence, there were snaking queues outside AIA's Raffles Place and Finlayson Green offices. About 2,600 policies, or 0.1 per cent of the 2.6 million in force were surrendered from 15-18 Sept 2008.

These people should not have joined the queues as they could have easily contacted their AIA agents and got them to do the paperwork for them. This is what they are there for. For goodness sake, this is not a bank run where you must turn up personally to get your money back! You won't get your money back any faster. In fact, my friends who contacted their AIA agents, got their cheques (they took loans against their policy or cashed out their dividends) within 4-5 days. This is very good service considering the mad rush to the exits by many panicky AIA policyholders.

When AIA offered those who surrendered their policies during the week a chance to reinstate their whole life and endowment policies without penalty, about 20 policyholders had their insurance plans reinstated.

Timely assurances by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) that AIA has sufficient assets in its insurance funds to meet its liabilities to policyholders and urging customers not to act rashly also helped calm nervous policyholders. MAS said: “Policyholders should not act hastily to terminate their insurance policies as they may suffer from the premature termination and lose the insurance protection they may need".

By 18 Sept, the queues at the AIA service centers dwindled and AIA Singapore had weathered the storm. Phew! What a week it has been. The AIA panic was certainly more exciting than the inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix in Singapore.

Advice given to AIA policy holders were:

  1. Find out your policy’s cash value. If your policy did not break even, you will lose money. If you have positive cash value, you could take a loan against your policy if you are worried about your profits. If your policy pays a dividend, you could cash it in.
  2. If your health has worsened since you took up your AIA policy, you may not be able to find cover with another insurer. Which is worst? The remote possibility of losing your invested life funds or the coverage for a critical illness or death benefit after a long illness? Your future medical expenses is likely to be more than double the amount you put into your life funds . If you have a serious illness anytime in your lifetime(which is highly likely for most of us), it can wipe out all your lifetime savings and investments if it is under $100,000. If you were to die young, (under 40) your loved ones are likely to miss out on millions of dollars of income. Only insurance can provide some protection against such a loss.
  3. Even if you can find cover, the premiums may be higher due to your health and / or age.

So think carefully. Don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire. Worry about your future medical expenses first. Future medical expenses and your family's future living expenses are more likely to go up rather than go down and most likely to be more than what you have insured for or the premiums paid.


AIA Singapore announced that it has laid off 20 employees and closed its Life Profit Center (LPC) and Accident and Health (A&H) divisions. It is expected that more retrenchments are in the air for some 400 of its employees. LPC used to support AIA's 4,000 life agents in launching new products and producing new marketing materials.

According to advertisements by some property marketers, there seems to be some moves to sell or rent out the AIA Tower in District 1 and the Changi AIA building though this has not be confirmed by AIA Singapore.


AIG is in talks with China's US$200 billion sovereign wealth fund - the China Investment Corp. (CIC) for a 49% stake in AIG's Alico unit which operates in 55 countries.

AIG finally announces it intends to sale whole units rather than 49% stakes of its units. This will probably speed up it divestment to pay back the FED (US$143.8 billion todate at an interest rate of 11.7%) what it had borrow. This will make it more attractive for prospective buyers as they would be acquiring 100% control of AIG's profitable units particularly those in Asia like AIA. This will also ease concerns of policyowners after months of uncertainty if the deal goes through. AIA Singapore had been trimming costs with the merging of its divisions and shedding of staff. There has also been talk that it is looking for buyers of one of its buildings as they trim their workforce and tighten their overheads (though this could not be verified for now).


Four insurance companies, Axa, MetLife, Prudential and China's sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation (CIC) are separately in ongoing talks with AIG. If successful, the deal will net AIG US$10.8 billion (S$16 billion). The ALICO (American Life Insurance Co.) deal is likely to be inked in the new year, sources say.


AIG rejected offers from UK insurer Prudential Plc, Canadian insurer Manulife and Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings to buy the AIA unit citing their offer was too low. There is talk that AIG may float AIA in the US Stock Market or offer part of it to the FED in return for bailout funds.

UPDATE ON AIA - 23 April 2010

Today and The Straits Times  reported on 23 & 25 April 2010 that Prudential is one step closer to sealing its bid to buy over AIA.  Britian's largest insurer plans a secondary listing on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) effective May 11 concurrent to its primary  listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. This involves the migration of shares held on Prudential's principal registers in the UK to HK and SGX. With a market capitalization of US$21 billion, Prudential will be the largest foreign listing since the Jardine Matheson group moved its Asian listing from Hong Kong to Singapore in the early 1990s.

This is the precursor to its plans to get its shareholders to vote on  May 27 for its US$35.5 billion agreed takeover of AIA, the Asian arm of the troubled US insurer the American International Group (AIG).  Prudential's move to Asia  is expected to draw local investors to its US$21 billion rights issue, launched to fund its purchase of AIA.  Details of the rights issue will be released on May 5.

With this deal, Prudential will become the world's largest non-Chinese insurer by market capitalization, overtaking major competitors, Allianz and AXA.  The Singapore government has a 0.5  percent stake in Prudential.  The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) last month signed up to underwrite a multi-billion dollar portion of the rights issue, which will be used in part to help fund the take over.  GIC is one of the 30 banks and sovereign wealth funds which have agreed to underwrite Prudential's rights issue.

Once Prudential buys up AIA, whose market value is around US$35.5 billion, the overall entity would be the largest SGX-listed firm by market value - ahead of telco SingTel.  Its listing in SGX will attract mega-funds wanting to invest in Singapore and the region.

Prudential's buy over of AIA may still see AIA policies being sold and serviced by AIA agents.  However, the management will firmly be in the hands of Prudential executives and  the merger could lead to more attractive insurance products being sold in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia by the merged company.

Prudential  has operated in Singapore for over 75 years and in Hong Kong for nearly 50 years.  Pru's acquisition of AIA would increase Pru's new business profit from 47 percent to 60 per cent.

As I said earlier, everything will turn out alright eventually.

NOTE: I am not connected with the insurance or any financial industry.

© - AIA Singapore To Be Sold

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Merlion Legend

The Merlion Legend

The Merlion Statues

The original Merlion is the mid-sized statue (8.6 meters weighing 40 tons) seen in the photo - and sprouts water from its mouth when tourists get too close - which they often do!

This Merlion sits facing East aligned to the most auspicious feng-shui / geomancy position as advised by feng shui experts. The Chinese believe that aligning structures / buildings to feng shui principles helps this resource-poor island to remain prosperous despite its more important shortcomings - like the lack of water, natural resources and sex movies.

The Merlion was designed in 1964 by Fraser Brunner, the curator of the Van Kleef Aquarium, as an emblem for the then Singapore Tourism Promotion Board. The lion head represents the animal spotted by Prince Sang Nila Utama. The fish tail symbolises Temasek, which means "sea" in Javanese.

This Merlion structure was originally sited (1972-1997) at the mouth of the Singapore river but had since been moved in 2002 to its new location - the Merlion Park (due to a building of the Esplanade Bridge which blocked the view of the original sited Merlion and the Marina Bay waterfront). There are another Merlion in the Merlion Park - a baby merlion which you can hug as much as you like but which it is much too heavy to carry in your arms.

The Merlion: Singapore Legend - feng shui certified structure

In all, there are 5 significant Merlions in Singapore, the largest is a 36 meters lighted Merlion structure at the Sentosa island in southern Singapore - where many illegitimate children were fathered.

The fourth Merlion (3 meters) is at Mount Faber and fifth at the Orchard Spring Lane.

There are variations of the Merlion which are found throughout Japan (Nambo Paradise Botanical Gardens in Tateyama, Chiba) ; China (like the XinYi Condo at Chang'an No. 1 & Window Of The World theme park in Shenzhen) & (Mystic East of Chessington World Of Adventurers theme park in London) where Singaporean investors had worked or lived. It is not reported in official sources, but I have a small Merlion in my garden too.

The Merlion Legend According to Javanese and British Historical Records

According to the "Malay Annals" (literary and historical work from the 15th or 16th century), ancient Singapore (Temasek) got its name in the 11th Century from a visiting Prince Nila Utama of the Sri Vijaya empire.

The Palembang Prince who, on landing on the island, pissed in his sarong when he saw what he thought was a hungry lion coming menacingly towards him. He promptly named the island Singapura - the Sanskrit word for Lion (Singa) City (Pura) so as to warn people not to visit the island. He also swore never ever to return to the island - not until all animals larger than a mouse deer had been totally eliminated from this incredibly dangerous island.

He got his wish when the British landed in the early 1800s and used their big guns to promptly kill off all the lions (actually they were tigers) and thus preventing Singapore from being labeled a "Tiger Island".

The tigers were so afraid of the British, they became pale (white, in fact) and migrated to Bengal, India. These white tigers are an endangered species. Now that the dreaded British colonial rulers have departed from the Lion City, some white tigers have made a comeback in Singapore namely in its famous Zoo. Tourists wanting to be eaten by tigers can now go to the Singapore Zoo to satisfy their curiosity.

The merlion legend was born when the Brits saw the fleeing lions (tigers) swimming furiously across the Straits of Johore to get away from their guns.

The legend of the merlion having destructive red x-ray eyes was actually fabricated by the British to justify killing these normally peaceful and graceful creatures which ruled Singapore since the time when the island was just a volcanic outcrop. The red lights could also be Johore natives firing back at the British to ensure they do not cross the Straits without proper invasion documents.

Singapore was then also a safe haven for pirates during the British rule (as depicted in the 2007 blockbuster movie "Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End" which starred Johnny Depp). Yes, in those days, pirates ate people as they were cannibals.

Nowadays, the only pirates you see in Singapore are those people selling pirated DVDs on street corners. These DVD pirates are usually arrested by the Police within one month of starting their illegal business - so they are an endangered and starving species too.

The Origins of the Merlion

Legend has it that the merlion were desendents of majestic lions from the fabled lost continent of Mu (also called Lemuria or Pacifica) which existed some 100,000 years ago. Mu was said to be the mystical "lost homeland" , the garden of Eden - the birth place and "golden age" of humankind. Many of the Asian, Babylonian, Polynesian and native American oral traditions are said to have originated from this Atlantis-like continent in the Pacific.

The continent was progressively destroyed some 12,000 years ago by asteroids, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and glacial meltdowns. The survivors had to sink, swim or hitch a ride. Some made their way to Singapore which was then relatively uninhabited. One of them was a merlion.

The merlion may have existed in Singapore in prehistoric times. But sighting of the merlion in recent history can be taken with a slight pinch of salt from the sea.

The Merlion, a legendary lion-mermaid creature, was last reported to have been sighted by some horny local sailors in the days when Singapura as still a sleepy fishing village. (People slept more those days as there was no TVs or PCs).

This was the time before the British bought over the island and made it one of the major military and commercial port of British Empire - the Empire where the Sun Never Sets. Well, actually the sun does set on the British Empire now that the Empire has shrunk. Cor blimey!

Frankly, if you asked me, the sailors must have been stoned cold drunk when they saw the Merlion. The sailors probably saw a manatee (dudong or sea cow) a large marine mammal that is common in Singapore waters even today. Visitors can also get up close and personal with a manatee at Singapore's Underwater World at its leisure island - Sentosa (soon to be named "Universal Studios Island").

No, manatees do not eat people! Manatees are not sharks. Even sharks don't eat people - especially tiger sharks. Watch the DVD "Sharkwater" to find out more!

The Merlion is a tourism symbol which is copyrighted by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

There are made-in-Singapore Merlion chocolates. They are delicious, contain no melamine, are not made in China and can be safely eaten. NOTE: These are merlion chocolates, not melamine chocolates! But these merlion chocolates can make you fat and tigers love to eat fat people.

Related Articles:

Lighting Strikes the Merlion - Good or Bad Omen?

Read my partner's more pseudo serious article on the Origins of the Merlion Legend

Another Feng Shui Singapore landmark - The Singapore Flyer

© - merlion: the singapore legend