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The financial meltdown causing havoc to the US economy has inevitably spread to the shores of Singapore.
For the second day today, Singaporeans continued to line up to encash their policies at the American International Assurance (AIA) at Robinson Road for fear of AIA’s parent body in the US going bankrupt.
AIA is Singapore’s subsidiary of the insurance giant American International Group (AIG) that has sought and obtained $85 billion from the US Federal Reserve to prevent it from going under.
As early as 8 am, a long queue started to build up from the AIA Customer Service Centre at 1 Finlayson Green. Within two hours the queue expanded to about 500, snaking its way around to Shenton Way.
One of them was dispatch rider Hassan bin Maideen, who was in the queue to “foreclose” his 25-year policy, five years before its maturity.
“There is some doubt about the assurance that our money is safe. We don’t know what would happen next,” the 50-year-old Hassan told the SDP.
Another was clerk Peter Lam who was not prepared to wait in the long queue. Mr Lam, 45, said: “I will take a day off tomorrow and come early so that I can get my money back.”
Despite assurance from the Monetary Authority of Singapore that the insurance company is backed by liquid funds to meet any demand, anxious policy holders were eager to withdraw their money.
From 9.00 am till 5.30 pm AIG staff handed out cheques to customers who wanted to withdraw their funds.
A security guard at the entrance said clients who had been given queue numbers would be attended to no matter how late it was. He said the management expects the same situation tomorrow.