Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Fallout From Mkt Turmoil Not Over Yet: Japan

Source : The Business Times, October 3, 2007

Its ministers hint at problems ahead for banks hit by US sub-prime crisis

THREE Japanese government ministers said yesterday the fallout from recent global financial market turmoil may not be over - despite surging stock prices in Tokyo and elsewhere that seem to suggest a strong return of investor confidence.

'We've been checking to see if the risk has spread and to what extent firms are exposed to securitised products related to the sub-prime market.' - Japan's Financial Services Minister Yoshimi Watanabe

Some analysts suggested the ministers could be signalling problems ahead for Japanese banks hit by the US sub-prime mortgage crisis.

So far Japan's biggest bank - Mitsubishi-UFJ Financial Group - has said sub-prime-related investments could threaten its profit this year. It has estimated its exposure to such investments at 280 billion yen (S$3.6 billion).

More Japanese banks and other financial institutions are expected to reveal exposure to sub-prime-related products when they publish their half-term results soon.

Some US investment banks have already revealed major financial losses after financial market turmoil resulted in the value of many sophisticated financial products being marked down dramatically when they became virtually untradeable.

On Monday, Europe's biggest bank - UBS - became the first of the world's largest lenders to post a quarterly loss of US$3.4 billion on write-downs of mortgage-backed securities.

Japan's Financial Services Minister Yoshimi Watanabe yesterday sounded what some analysts took to be a warning to markets, as the Nikkei 225 stock average soared more than 200 points to top the 17,000 mark.

'We've been checking to see if the risk has spread and to what extent firms are exposed to securitised products related to the sub-prime market,' he said. 'If we do find any problem we plan to deal with it quickly.'

Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, meanwhile, said: 'Even though financial markets have regained some composure, we would like to carefully monitor them and the economic situation.'

Economics Minister Hiroko Ota warned that it will take a while for the sub-prime problems to affect the real US economy, including consumption and corporate finance. 'We have to see whether the US economy achieves a soft landing,' Ms Ota said, sounding an unusually cautious note.

Japanese investors, meanwhile, appear to have begun rebuilding carry-trade transactions in which they speculate in foreign currencies and securities - those denominated in Australian and New Zealand dollars especially - to take advantage of higher yields than they can obtain on yen instruments. This is despite warnings by various authorities that such 'one-way bets' could result in huge losses.

Vibrant New Logo For Raffles City Brand

Source : The Business Times, October 3, 2007

CEO: Another step towards realising investment potential

CAPITALAND yesterday launched a new logo for its Raffles City brand at the 21st anniversary of Raffles City Singapore.

Peek into the future: MM Lee being shown a model of upcoming developments yesterday after he unveiled the new Raffles City brand logo at a ceremony to mark the 21st anniversary of the shopping mall

Capita-Land chief executive Liew Mun Leong said that the re-branding was another step towards realising Raffles City's investment potential.

'We have said that we would grow the number of Raffles City developments globally to 10 or even more. We are working on this, with prospects in several gateway cities.'

CapitaLand said that its new clean-cut, vibrant and modern logo encapsulates Raffles City's sophistication and timelessness as an international icon.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who spoke at the event, said that the Raffles City site was where Raffles Institution stood, where he studied for four years from 1936 to 1939.

However, Raffles City Singapore transformed the landscape in the very heart of the city, MM Lee said.

'It was a bold engineering move of its time, the biggest development project in Singapore which linked the central business district in Shenton Way to the shopping belt in Orchard Road.'

'It was to be a city within the city,' Mr Lee said.

And as Raffles City goes global, it is also bringing other 'Made in Singapore' retailers such as BreadTalk and Bee Cheng Hiang along.

'With more Raffles City developments, together with their Singapore retailer tenants established in key cities around the world, they can over time become another marketing icon for Singapore,' Mr Lee said.

CapitaLand is building several new Raffles Cities in Beijing, Chengdu and Bahrain.

Schroders Buys CBA's S'pore Private Bank Unit

Source : The Business Times, October 3, 2007

SINGAPORE - Fund manager Schroders said it will buy the Singapore-based private banking unit of Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) for US$10 million, expanding its services to wealthy clients in Asia.

The private client advisory unit of the Australian bank managed US$600 million in assets and had a staff of 12 people, Schroders said in a statement on Wednesday.

'We have a strong asset management presence in Asia and we now look forward to building a private banking business in the region,' said Philip Mallinckrodt, group of head of Schroders Private Banking.

Khing Go, currently head of private banking unit of CBA, will become head of private clients Asia for Schroders.

The transaction is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2008.

Schroders Private Banking managed £9.3 billion (US$19 billion) in assets at the end of June.

Schroders is a global asset management company with US$276 billion in assets globally.

In recent years many big European and US banks such as UBS, Credit Suisse , Societe Generale and Citigroup have set up large private banking offices in Singapore to manage money for local and foreign clients. -- REUTERS

Is The Worst Over?

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 3, 2007

Investors and analysts clash over whether the global sub-prime mortgage crisis has turned the corner

Yes, say investors


Banking giants disclose sub-prime related losses on Monday but investors take the disclosures as a sign that the worst may be over.


Investors push US stocks to its highest-ever close on optimism that the sub-prime crisis is nearing its end.

Key index ends Monday up 1.4 per cent at 14,087.55.

Stocks recover all of the nearly US$2 trillion (S$2.98 trillion) lost in July-August rout.


Bad news from two banking giants but investors choose to focus on the positives.

Citigroup to write off US$5.9 billion (S$8.8 billion) in third quarter. Profit to drop 60 per cent. Citi chief executive Charles Prince says profits will return to normal in fourth quarter. Investors choose to focus on this healthy forecast.

UBS to write off US$3.4 billion and suffer a loss in the same quarter. But it indicated that the current period might see a return to normal earnings levels.


'Is this August-September credit crisis about to be over? Possibly,' says former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. He cites signs that lenders are seeking to buy longer-term assets of lower quality.


Investors still expect another rate cut from the Fed to boost the US economy.

Maybe not, say analysts


Conditions in the credit market are still fragile. Many problems remain for the United States economy, especially in the housing sector.

'The question really is, 'Is this the end of it or not?'' Mr Axel Merk, portfolio manager of the Merk Hard Currency Fund told the Washington Post. 'For whatever reason, the market wants to see the glass as half full. I just think we need to see more,' he said.


Banks cleaning up their balance sheets only solves half the problem. Going ahead, they are likely to generate less income as the buyout boom slows.

Banks must find ways to replace the income from sub-prime mortgages, a market that could take years to recover.


The US consumer spending is being hit by falling home prices, higher mortgage rates and foreclosures. Thus lower spending will adversely affect the economy in the long run.

Most US adjustable-rate home loans will reset over the next several years at higher rates. This could lead to more foreclosures and a fall in home prices.


Analysts caution: Do not read too much into the Dow's rally.

This is because the rally was achieved on low trading volumes.

Shares of large companies recovered because of investments in strong economies overseas and a weak US dollar.

Many mortgage companies, banks and home builders are still trading far below their highs.

Leonie Towers @ Leonie Hill

Leonie Towers is located in the Leonie vicinity. Being generally on higher ground than other apartments, you can enjoy the good view and breeze if you live here. Units in Leonie Towers are spacious and bright, renovated units are most sought after by expatriates.

This condominium is located near to the Central Business District. It is only 6 minutes walk to the Somerset MRT station, Orchard Road shopping malls, supermarkets, bookstores and restaurants, residents of Leonie Towers therefore enjoy both the quiet retreat and city life.

Address : 20 (Blk B), 28 (Blk A)Leonie Hill

Tenure : Freehold
District : 09
No. of Units : 92
Year of Completion : 1975
Developer : Hock Seng Enterprise Pte Ltd

Unit sizes:-
4 bedrooms: 270 - 302 sq m
Penthouse : 580 - 608 sq m

Blk A 3250sqft 4Bdrm #14-ABV (Only 2 Units/floor). Newly Renoavted -$250k. North South Facing (Balcony-North, Door-South). Asking $6m. Sold with Vacant Possession

Map Source :


Orchard MRT Station (NS22)
437,Orchard Road Singapore 238878
How Far? 0.69 km

Somerset MRT Station (NS23)
1,Somerset Road Singapore 238162
How Far? 0.90 km

Tiong Bahru MRT Station (EW17)
300,Tiong Bahru Road Singapore 168731
How Far? 1.37 km

Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station (NE6-NS24)
11,Orchard Road Singapore 238826
How Far? 1.62 km

Newton MRT Station (NS21)
49,Scotts Road Singapore 228234
How Far? 1.77 km


Great World City
1,Kim Seng Promenade Singapore 237994
How Far? 0.43 km

Takashimaya Shopping Centre
391,Orchard Road Singapore 238873
How Far? 0.64 km

Cineleisure Orchard
8,Grange Road Singapore 239695
How Far? 0.70 km

Wisma Atria Shopping Centre
435,Orchard Road Singapore 238877
How Far? 0.71 km

Mandarin Shopping Arcade The
333,Orchard Road Singapore 238867
How Far? 0.72 km

Ngee Ann City
391A,Orchard Road Singapore 238872
How Far? 0.72 km

Wheelock Place
501,Orchard Road Singapore 238880
How Far? 0.79 km

Lucky Plaza
304,Orchard Road Singapore 238863
How Far? 0.79 km

Orchard Shopping Centre
321,Orchard Road Singapore 238866
How Far? 0.82 km

Liat Towers
541,Orchard Road Singapore 238881
How Far? 0.84 km

Paragon Shopping Centre, The
290,Orchard Road Singapore 238859
How Far? 0.84 km

Tang Plaza
320,Orchard Road Singapore 238865
How Far? 0.85 km

Heeren, The
260,Orchard Road Singapore 238855
How Far? 0.86 km

Specialists Shopping Centre
277,Orchard Road Singapore 238858
How Far? 0.89 km


River Valley Primary School
2,River Valley Green Singapore 237993
How Far? 0.59 km

Gan Eng Seng Secondary School
1,Henderson Road Singapore 159561
How Far? 1.20 km

Outram Secondary School
3,York Hill Singapore 168622
How Far? 1.37 km

Anglo Chinese Junior School
25,Peck Hay Road Singapore 228315
How Far? 1.49 km

(ASPN) Tanglin School
143,Alexandra Road Singapore 159924
How Far? 1.53 km

-Swimming Pool
-Childrens' Playground
-Covered Car Park
-24 Hours Security
-Function Room
-Vending Machine
-BBQ Area
-Water Feature & Resting Area

Minority Owners Make Their Case For Horizon Towers

Source : The Straits Times, Wednesday, October 3, 2007

HORIZON Towers minority owners said yesterday that the Strata Titles Board (STB) was right to throw out the estate’s collective sale application over a paperwork glitch.

Mr Ramesh Kannan, who is representing some minority owners, told the High Court that rules should be followed particularly strictly, because they involved compulsory acquisitions of assets.

‘The approach must be strict compliance…when it comes to the forced acquisition of people’s homes,’ said Mr Kannan, adding that the STB had consistently advocated strict compliance in previous cases. The sellers argued on Monday that the glitch - three missing pages - was a technicality that STB could overlook.

They want the court to reverse the STB’s August decision to abort the deal. This would allow the $500 million sale to a group headed by Hotel Properties to go ahead.
But Mr Kannan and Senior Counsel K.S. Rajah, who is representing another group of minority owners, argued that the STB had no powers to disregard the missing pages.
Mr Kannan also noted that upcoming changes in legislation will give the STB the power to ignore technical irregularities, as long as no owner’s interest is prejudiced.

The introduction of this rule proves that Parliament recognises that the STB now has no such powers, he said.

Mr Kannan, Mr Rajah and Senior Counsel Michael Hwang are acting for different groups of minority owners but all argue that the STB’s decision be upheld.

But while the floor was largely given over to the minority owners’ lawyers yesterday, Senior Counsel K.Shanmugam - acting for Horizon Towers buyers - made a brief appearance.

He told Justice Choo Han Teck that his clients’ only interest was to see the sale through. If this happens, the buyers will withdraw their suit against the sellers for breach of contract, without claiming costs, he said. The buyers are claiming up to $1 billion in lost profits.

‘We are not in the business of suing,’ he added, to sneers from the public gallery, where about 40 residents of Horizon Towers were sitting.

The hearing ends today, with the sellers’ lawyer responding to yesterday’s arguments. A decision is expected from Justice Choo in about a week’s time.

S’pore Leads Asia-Pac In Homes Price Boom

Source : The Straits Times, Wednesday, October 3, 2007

SINGAPORE’S property market is setting the pace as real estate prices soar across the Asia-Pacific region.

The country posted a ‘remarkable house price growth’, year on year, of 21.05 per cent for the 12 months ended June, up from 6.08 per cent the previous year, an online research house, Global Property Guide, said yesterday.

That placed it fourth in the overall ranking of 42 countries and top in the region.
Singapore’s property market recovery from an ‘eight-year house price slump’ was ‘thanks to its booming economy’, the report added.

Top spot went to the Baltic state of Latvia while its neighbour, Lithuania, came in third. Bulgaria was second. All three recorded price rises of 25 per cent or more for the year ended June compared with the same period a year ago.

Some other Asia-Pacific economies that made the rankings included the Philippines, which had price growth of 14.29 per cent, placing it seventh, and Hong Kong - in 14th position with 8.78 per cent growth.

Unlike most Asian countries, Thailand’s prices dropped by 3.47 per cent for the period after a rise of 3.92 per cent for 2006.

While prices in the Asia-Pacific are heating up, Europe’s price growth continues its moderate trend, said the report.

Property Agents Should Go Through A Course On 'Code Of Conduct And Ethics' Before They Are Given Their Practising Certificate

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 3, 2007

I REFER to the article, 'Case, property body seek licensing of housing agents" (ST, Sept 26).

I fully endorse the positive move as we are behind many developed countries which already have this in practice.

I was at the public forum on Sept 25 organised by the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA) with speakers from HDB, Case, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, the Small Claims Tribunal and NTUC. NTUC secretary-general Lim Swee Say and Case president Yeo Guat Kwang were there to grace the event.

Firstly, let me applaud IEA for initiating the launch of its 'Practising Certificate' for its members. By taking this first step, IEA shows that it is seriously concerned with the regulation of estate agents in Singapore.

However, it needs the support of the various government bodies to recognise and endorse its intention so that complaints lodged with Case can be reduced.

Mr Yeo's remarks that complaints lodged against real estate agents have almost doubled in the last two years (991 last year) makes one ponder how many of these complaints are from agents who have passed the Common Exam for Housing Agents (Ceha).

Most of its complaints can be avoided if agents were more ethical in their business transactions. I suggest that besides the 'paper qualification' of Ceha, agents should also go through a course on 'code of conduct and ethics' before they are given their practising certificate.

To eliminate 'rogue agents', there must be a system. If agents breach any code of conduct and ethics during their course of duty, they should be given a firm warning. If they continue to practise in an unethical manner, they should be barred from practice. In this way, we can be sure of high standards of professionalism and integrity.

During the forum, Mr Lim and Mr Yeo voiced their support of IEA in promoting real estate professionalism. Mr Lim also mentioned that the Government is looking into various categories of workers, comprising Blue, White, Silver, Gold and No collar workers. Real estate agents should be categorised as Gold collar workers as they are professionals. They should be regulated, go through a comprehensive course on ethical behaviour and pass Ceha to qualify them as full-fledged professionals.

Dennis Wee Chuan Peng
Dennis Wee Group

Unfair Contract Terms Of A Bank Will Not Be Legally Binding On The Consumer

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 3, 2007

IN HIS letter, 'When a bank makes a mistake, how is the client protected?' (Online forum, Oct 1), Mr Chin Kee Thou raised the interesting issue of the extent of a bank's liability to its clients, notwithstanding the blatant negligence of the bank.
The DBS has this clause which reads: 'The Bank shall not be liable for any errors, negligence, defaults, acts of omissions, whether of itself or of its employees' and prima facie, this is a paper tiger.

The English Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 ( UCTA 1977) in Part I s 1 clearly provides:

'For the purposes of this Part of this Act, 'negligence' means the breach -

a) of any obligation, arising from the express or implied terms of a contract, to take reasonable care or exercise reasonable skill in the performance of the contract;

b) of any common-law duty to take reasonable care or exercise reasonable skill (but not any stricter duty)."

In the case of losses suffered by a client, a person cannot so exclude or restrict his liability for negligence except in so far as the term or notice satisfies the requirement of reasonableness. Where a contract term or notice purports to exclude or restrict liability for negligence, a person's agreement to or awareness of it is not of itself to be taken as indicating his voluntary acceptance of any risk.

The UK Consumer Protection Act 1987 ( CPA 1987) protects consumers from unfair terms in pre-formulated contracts, that is, contracts already prepared, such as insurance policies and credit-card agreements. A contract term in a pre-formulated contract is unfair if it: -

a) causes a significant imbalance in the rights of the bank and consumer, to the detriment of the consumer;

b) could put the consumer at a disadvantage because he is not clear about its meaning.

If a contract term is unfair, the term will not be legally binding on the consumer and a bank cannot obtain a court order to enforce a demand for payment based on an unfair term. Under the CPA 1987 the following are examples of unfair terms:

a) 'Equipment is used entirely at the customers' own risk.'

b) 'Goods are sold as seen; we accept no liability for faults discovered after purchase.'

c) 'We at ABC Bridal Gown Pte Ltd accept no liability for your bridal gown if it is not completed by your wedding day.'

d) 'Management reserves the right to suspend services without liability.'

e) 'If goods are returned, customer must pay for delivery and packaging.'

It is clear that unfair contract terms are not enforceable against customers and consumers.

In the UK, if a business refuses to accept that a term is unfair the consumer can ask for the help of the Fair Trading Commission.

In Singapore the dissatisfied consumer can seek the help of the Consumers Association of Singapore.

The banks could also ensure that their terms are unambiguous, fair and reasonable and they should not take the liberty to ride roughshod over the legitimate concerns of their clients.

Heng Cho Choon

Industry Regulation Of Estate Agents Overdue

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 3, 2007

I REFER to the article, 'Case, property body seek licensing of housing agents' (ST, Sept 26).

I fully support the move towards industry self-regulation of real-estate agents by the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA). It is long overdue.

The launch of a 'practising certificate' for all its members is a step forward. It is not surprising that the IEA is doing so as, for years, it had sought to regulate estate agents.

With IEA as the national regulatory body, consumers can be sure of better control over housing agents.

Perhaps the relevant government body can recognise, endorse and support IEA's new initiative at self-regulation.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), HDB, the Small Claims Tribunal, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and now NTUC have been working closely with IEA because they recognised it as the proactive body representing real-estate agents. Over the last year or so, IEA has also been more proactive in organising public forums and educational talks for both agents and consumers.

Both Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, president of Case, and Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, have voiced their support for the IEA initiative to promote high standards of professionalism and integrity in real-estate agents. Self-regulation will boost the image of agents as well as the interests of consumers. The latter will now have a body that they can turn to for redress.

It is timely that real-estate agents be regulated because of the rise in complaints, as reported by Case.

Dave Lau
Executive Director
Roof Real Estate Group

MP Now Convinced CPF Funds Don't Come Cheap

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 3, 2007

I REFER to the article, 'CPF returns: As good as it can get' (ST, Sept 29).
In the article it was reported that I used the word 'cheap' to describe CPF monies as a source of funds for the Government, in the debate in Parliament on CPF reforms.

I wish to clarify that my choice of the word was motivated by a comparison between the cost of CPF monies to the Government and the returns that the Government is able to get in the longer term through careful fund management.

Indeed, this is an issue with a number of Singaporeans and I had thought it appropriate to reflect these sentiments, on the occasion of the debate on CPF changes, to get an explanation from the Government.

I should emphasise that the word was not chosen, as some may have suggested, to imply that the Government was making money at the people's expense.

I am glad to note that your newspaper had accurately reported my remark that any income derived from such investments has been applied for the benefit of the people of Singapore.

Having considered carefully the explanation of the Second Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, I am now satisfied and have come to the conclusion that the CPF monies, with risk-free interest guaranteed, do not represent a cheap source of funds to the Government, particularly now that the interest rate on the CPF balances has been pushed higher by the recent changes.

Sin Boon Ann
MP for Tampines GRC

Regular Reviews Needed For ERP To Be Effective

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 3, 2007

I REFER to the letter, 'How will ERP changes help solve traffic jams?' (ST, Sept 24), by Mr Andy Chua Ping Hong.

Mr Chua is right that ERP is intended to alleviate congestion on our roads. For ERP to remain effective, regular reviews are required to adjust its coverage and rates in response to changes in traffic conditions. The extension of ERP hours on the CTE and the implementation of new gantries from Nov 1 are part of such on-going reviews, to address congestion that built up on the identified roads.

Contrary to what Mr Chua has pointed out, ERP has been effective in encouraging motorists to consider alternatives, and this has kept traffic on the priced roads flowing smoothly. The merit of ERP is that it places the decision as to whether to drive, travel at a different time, use a different route or take public transport into the hands of motorists.

Those who are prepared to pay a congestion charge for a smooth ride will also have the option to do so. Some may decide, given the extension of ERP hours on the CTE, that they prefer to take public transport or a different route rather than pay ERP. But the decision is theirs to make, based on their individual circumstances.

With ERP, the Government has been able to rely more on usage charges and less on ownership taxes to manage traffic demand. As a result, annual vehicle-ownership revenue has fallen from $3.4 billion in 1997 to $1.7 billion in 2006, compared to about $90 million in annual ERP revenue collected during that period.

The use of ERP to manage traffic has also made it possible for more Singaporeans to own cars than we otherwise could, and our vehicle population has grown from 680,000 to 800,000 over the same period.

ERP has thus proven to be a more effective approach to managing traffic demand, while costing motorists less overall.

Mr Chua asked about the longer-term plans to manage road congestion. There is no single solution. To keep our roads smooth-flowing, we will continue with a holistic and integrated approach using all the tools available, including building more roads, regulating vehicle growth, implementing traffic-engineering solutions, managing traffic demand through ERP and promoting the use of public transport.

More information on the Government's approach to dealing with congestion is available on the Ministry of Transport's website (

Amy Hing (Ms)
Director (Land Division)
Ministry of Transport

Raffles Cities Abroad Help To Extend S'pore Brand: MM Lee

Source : The Straits Times, Wed, Oct 03, 2007

RAFFLES City has become a landmark since it opened two decades ago, and CapitaLand's efforts to take the concept overseas has extended Singapore's global footprint, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew last night.

He told a ceremony marking the building's 21st anniversary that the site had special memories. 'This was where Raffles Institution stood for more than a century before Raffles City. I was a student here for four years from 1936 to 1939. We demolished several old, brick two-storey buildings of considerable historical value.'

The complex - comprising a mall, two five-star hotels and a premium office tower - that was built transformed the landscape in the very heart of the city and was the largest development project in Singapore at the time.

'Raffles City has added to the unique Singapore brand and gained international recognition for itself and Singapore,' said Mr Lee, adding that it attracted many tourists and business travellers daily.

But with developer CapitaLand exporting the Raffles City concept to cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Manama in Bahrain, it was also blazing a trail for other Singapore firms, he said. 'Reflecting the excellence associated with the Singapore brand, Raffles City Shanghai recently won the accolade of being one of the best buildings in China.'

Other 'made in Singapore' retailers have also joined Raffles City overseas, with familiar names such as BreadTalk and Bee Cheng Hiang featuring in the malls.

'With more Raffles City developments, together with their Singapore retailer tenants established in key cities around the world, they can, over time, become another marketing icon for Singapore,' said Mr Lee.

CapitaLand plans to increase the number of Raffles City projects to 10 and a number of major cities have already expressed interest. It also unveiled a new logo for the Raffles City brand, which is similar to the developer's own logo.

CapitaLand president and chief executive officer Liew Mun Leong said yesterday the logo would help expansion.

'Now that we have achieved the critical mass of five Raffles Cities, it's high time we consolidate the image,' he said.

Mr Liew added he expected gains in private home prices to slow in the fourth quarter.

Third-quarter prices rose by 8 per cent to a 10-year high but the increase slowed for the first time since prices began to rise two years ago. 'The momentum will be there but may not be as fast. It will not be fast growth but there will still be growth,' said Mr Liew.


'This was where Raffles Institution stood for more than a century before Raffles City. I was a student here for four years from 1936 to 1939. We demolished several old, brick two-storey buildings of considerable historical value.'

MR LEE, at a ceremony marking the mall's 21st anniversary

Rates To Stay High, Despite 15 New Hotels

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, October 3, 2007

TWO hotels will open in December and at least 13 more are in the construction pipeline, which will ease the shortage of rooms facing the hotel industry here.

Room rates, however, will remain high for a while yet, said global real estate consultant, Lodging Econometrics.

“The hotel market in Singapore is booming. It’s one of the top locations in the Asia-Pacific and occupancy rates are very high,” said Mr Patrick Ford, Lodging Econometrics president.

“These trends are likely to continue into 2008. But I say that with a caveat: Assuming there is no big carry over from the financial crisis in lending, as long as there’s no serious impact on the economy, there should be little impact on hotel demand.”

Over the next three years, the 15 hotels will supply 6,429 rooms in anticipation of a rise in visitor arrivals for business conventions, casinos and the F1 races, Mr Ford said.

Singapore had 30,476 hotel rooms as of the end of last year, according to DBS. Strong demand saw a 30-per-cent rise in room rates this year. Occupancy reached 91 per cent in July this year, up from 85 per cent last year.

Raffles City Extends Singapore's Footprint In Global Arena: MM Lee

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 02 October 2007

When a Singapore icon like Raffles City goes global, it brings along with it other "made-in-Singapore retailers", said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at the 21st anniversary celebrations of Raffles City on Tuesday evening.

Raffles City was launched on 3 October 1987, and for Mr Lee, the site brings back memories of Raffles Institution, where he was a student from 1936 to 1939.

Over the years, Raffles City Singapore has transformed the landscape in the very heart of the city.

Mr Lee said: "Over the past two decades, Raffles City has added to the unique Singapore brand and gained international recognition for itself and Singapore. It is an iconic landmark attracting throngs of tourists, business travellers, shoppers and diners every day.

"Its mix of tenants and visitors is a reflection of the cosmopolitan and diverse nature of Singapore. Its continued vibrancy speaks well of the original design and of its continuous maintenance and upgrading."

Related Video Link -
Raffles City extends Singapore's footprint in global arena: MM Lee

Mr Lee also added that CapitaLand, the developer of Raffles City, is exporting the concept overseas.

Several new Raffles City developments, designed by the world's top architects, are being built in the city centres of Beijing, Chengdu and Bahrain's Manama.

According to Mr Lee, the success of Raffles City can be attributed to its incorporation of experienced tenancy operation and management of hotels, service apartments, shopping malls and commercial spaces.

And such an expertise is being exported by the Raffles City team in CapitaLand.

He said: "With more Raffles City developments, together with their Singapore retailer tenants established in key cities around the world, they can over time become another marketing icon for Singapore.

"CapitaLand is planning to increase the number of Raffles City developments to ten and a number of other gateway cities have already approached CapitaLand to build similar Raffles City projects. The challenge is always to find a site suitable for a development of this nature."

In this way, Mr Lee said, companies like Capitaland also extend Singapore's footprint in the global arena. - CNA/so

Raffles City Gears Up To Take On The World

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, October 3, 2007

THE next time you walk along the glittering streets in one of the gateway cities of the world, you may well encounter a slice of Singapore.

Raffles City — the iconic development at the heart of Singapore that once housed the world's tallest hotel — plans to expand its presence to at least 10 major cities. It can become Singapore's international marketing icon by taking household brands under global wings, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew yesterday.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark Raffles City's 21st anniversary, which also saw the launch of a new logo, Mr Lee reminisced how the original premises of his alma mater Raffles Institution were knocked down in a "bold pioneering move of its time". And he has been impressed with the continued allure of Raffles City.

Mr Lee said: "(The) site was where Raffles Institution stood for more than a century … Over the past two decades, Raffles City has added to the unique Singapore brand … Its continued vibrancy speaks well of the original design and of its continuous maintenance and upgrading."

At a cost of $800 million, Raffles City, which comprises two hotels, an office tower and a shopping mall, was then Singapore's biggest development project when it was unveiled in 1986. One of its hotels, the 73-storey Westin Stamford — now known as Swissotel The Stamford — was then the world's tallest hotel.

Three years ago, Raffles City's first overseas development was completed in Shanghai. Two more in Beijing and Chengdu are expected to be unveiled by 2008 and 2010 respectively. By 2010, the first phase of Raffles City Bahrain is also expected be completed.

Noting that several cities have already approached CapitaLand, which bought over Raffles City last year, to build similar projects, Mr Lee said: "Familiar names like BreadTalk and Bee Cheng Hiang are now in Raffles City Shanghai.

"With more Raffles City developments, together with their Singapore retailer tenants established in key cities around the world, they can over time become another marketing icon for Singapore."

CapitaLand chief executive Liew Mun Leong said that the developer recognised the "tremendous business opportunities" of the Raffles City brand, and its rebranding was "another step towards realising its investment potential".

Horizon Towers - Omission May Be Punishable

Lawyer calls error of missing pages a 'serious breach'

TO SENIOR Counsel K Shanmugam, who represents the prospective buyer in the botched $500-million en bloc sale of Horizon Towers, it was simply a matter of picking up where the deal fell apart due to a technicality.

But to his opponent, the technicality was in fact a "false declaration" and a "crime" that might have attracted civil penalties like a fine or even a jail term.

The sale committee of the 210-unit condominium had taken the minority owners to court in an appeal against a Strata Titles Board (STB) ruling that scuttled the en bloc sale, after the board found three pages missing from the sale order application in August.

The missing pages thwarted the deal and sparked off a separate lawsuit from Horizon Partners Private Limited (HPPL) — the consortium buying the development — against the majority owners for failing to file a proper application.

Wrapping up his submission in court yesterday, in the case between the sale committee and minority owners, Mr Shanmugam said one way of solving the problem was to amend the mistakes in the filing procedure and continue where the parties left off.

"Our interest is to see the sale through and we've publicly stated we have no interest of claiming damages," he said.

Representing four minority owners, Senior Counsel K S Rajah called the omission of the pages a "serious breach" and a "false" declaration to a statutory board, where perpetrators could be investigated by the Attorney-General's Chambers.

The civil penalties for a false statutory declaration include imprisonment and/or a fine, he added.

Describing how HPPL was "holding a gun" to the heads of owners by taking them to court, Mr Rajah said his clients, in turn, could have reported the false declaration. "Then we, too, would have a gun to their heads," he said.

Senior Counsel Michael Hwang, representing one minority owner, told Justice Choo Han Teck that the court had allowed intervention by Mr Shanmugam to help it decide whether or not the STB had erred in its ruling.

Instead, Mr Shanmugam "overstayed his welcome" by submitting a "shopping list" of what he wants the court to direct, said Mr Hwang.

Similar submissions were made by Mr Ramesh Kannan, who represents three minority owners, on why the STB decision should not be overturned.

The hearing continues today with Senior Counsel Chelva Rajah — acting for the majority owners — rebutting points brought up by the lawyers representing minority owners.

Upp Serangoon Condo Site Gets $290m Bid

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A 99-year leasehold condo plot in the Upper Serangoon area has fetched a top bid of $290 million from Duke Development, which edged out higher profile developers such as Frasers Centrepoint and Allgreen Properties when the tender closed yesterday.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority received six bids for the 17,600-sq-m site at Simon Road, with the second-highest bid of $280 million, or $4,540 per sq m (psm) of gross floor area, coming from Bishan Properties.

Duke’s bid was $4,700 psm.

A 555-unit condo could be developed on the site, according to CB Richard Ellis.

Its executive director Li Hiaw Ho described Duke’s bid as “reasonable”, and would translate to a breakeven price of around $800 per sq ft (psf) and an estimated selling price of between $850 psf and $950 psf.

Modest Growth In Prime Office Rents In Q3

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 02 October 2007

Prime office rents climbed 16.7 percent in the third quarter to S$12.60 per square foot a month from the previous quarter. This was up 82.6 percent from a year ago.

According to CB Richard Ellis, prime rents have exceeded the historical peak of S$11.50 per square foot a month in 1990.

Grade A office rent saw a smaller quarterly increase of 13.7 percent to S$14.90. However, compared to a year ago, the gain was over 96 percent.

CBRE is expecting more modest rental growth as tenants become more resistant to rental hikes and are more prepared to explore lower-cost locations and alternative premises options. - CNA/so

Consultants Expect Property Prices To Go Up By 15% For The Full Year

Source : Channel NewsAsia,03 October 2007

HDB flats in Bukit Merah and Redhill are leading the jump in HDB resale home prices this year, according to real estate agency PropNex.

Overall, HDB resale prices are forecast to jump by 15 percent for the whole year, but those in Bukit Merah and Redhill are already seeing gains of more than 19 percent.

Five-room flats in the quiet estate of Redhill, which has an MRT station nearby and is 10 minutes away from the city by car, have seen a 19.3 percent increase in property prices from last year.

Those in Queenstown, Toa Payoh and Marine Parade are following suit, with increases of between 16 and 19 percent.

Mohamed Ismail, CEO of PropNex Corporation Pte Ltd, said: "HDB prices have been lagging behind private property for some time and such appreciation in price will bring much cheer to a lot of people who are holding on to their assets.

"Since its last peak in 1996, when the price index hit 136 points, prices were down for a long period of time, and the recent announcement that prices have gone up by 6.5 percent, bringing the price index to 115 points, shows that the current prices are in fact higher than the last peak recorded in 1999."

Estates further away from the central areas are seeing a more modest jump in prices.

In June, a three-room flat in Yishun sold for an average of S$159,000 or a 4 percent increase from last year, compared to the 13 percent jump for a similar flat in Marine Parade, which was sold for S$240,000.

Analysts said strong prices in HDB housing are a clear sign of economic strength, since foreigners are not allowed to buy them.

And although they expect further upside, they caution against factoring in the increase for eventual profit.

"As long as someone pays the cash above value in a rational way, and today in my opinion, the cash is anything in the range of S$10,000 to S$50,000, such cash for a good location in the long term is attainable," said Mr Mohamed Ismail.

Property consultants said flats that are in a good location and have a great view from a high level will always fetch a premium over the rest, and they are expecting HDB resale prices to rise by as much as 10 percent next year. - CNA/so

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Big Developers Lose Bidding For Prime Kovan Plot

Source : The Straits Times, 03 October 2007

BIG gun property developers who lined up for a prime residential site in the Kovan area were pipped in the bidding by a firm hardly anyone has heard of.
Duke Development placed the top bid of $290 million for the 190,000 sq ft site in Simon Road, trumping high-profile rivals Far East Organization, Hong Leong Holdings, Frasers Centrepoint and Allgreen Properties.

Duke is believed to be a group of private investors with a pair of top dealers as shareholders.

A company search turned up Mr Han Seng Juan and Mr David Loh as Duke shareholders. They are former executive directors at UOB Kay Hian, the brokerage arm of United Overseas Bank.

Both Mr Han and Mr Loh, who are believed to be related, also hold shares in Cybertech Communications and Healthstats International, among other companies.

Their winning bid works out to about $437 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio, and is a 'reasonable bid', said CB Richard Ellis Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho.

Mr Li believes this offer can break even at about $800 psf for the finished condominium units, which are likely to sell at between $850 psf and $950 psf.

Nearby Kovan Melody has sold out all 778 units, a testament to the strong demand for homes in the area. The units are now being resold in the secondary market for more than $800 psf, said Mr Li.

He added that part of the area's attraction are the good schools in the vicinity, such as Rosyth School and Maris Stella High School.

A condominium with about 555 units can be built on the Simon Road site, which has a maximum gross floor area of 664,337 sq ft.

Apart from homes, the plot can also host service apartments, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Growth Of Office Rentals To Slow

Source : The Business Times, 03 October 2007

Tenants prepared to explore lower-cost locations and alternative premises: CBRE

Modest but still attractive: The indicative price for the six-storey building at 23 Middle Road is $28m

ENOUGH is enough. Or so it seems for those having to pay high office rents.

CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) executive director (office services) Moray Armstrong foresees further rent rises but reckons that the pace of increases will slow.

'We have observed tenants' increasing resistance to rental hikes,' he said. 'Occupiers are more prepared to explore lower-cost locations and alternative premises such as business parks and high-tech space.'

CBRE's analysis of Q3 2007 data shows prime office rents averaged $12.60 psf per month, an increase of 16.7 per cent quarter on quarter (QoQ) and 82.6 per cent year on year (YoY).

Grade A office rents now average $14.90 psf per month, an increase of 13.7 per cent QoQ and 96.1 per cent YoY.

CBRE said that at end-August, full potential supply - the sum of known private sector project supply, awarded Government Land Sales sites and potential supply from expected future land sales - was 10.8 million sq ft for 2007-2012.

This reflects an increase of 147 per cent from full potential supply of 4.4 million sq ft identified two quarters ago at end-March 2007 and works out to average potential annual supply of 1.8 million sq ft for the next six years, higher than the past 10-year average supply of 1.5 million sq ft per annum.

Based on projected average annual take-up of 1.6 million sq ft for 2007-2012, CBRE forecasts relative equilibrium between supply and take-up over this period, remaining in the range of 91 to 95 per cent even if full potential supply materialises.

'On the supply side, the government's reaction has been measured so far, but care is required in monitoring any future change in demand for office space,' says CBRE.

'As such, it may be timely for all in the sector - landlords, tenants, policy-makers - to take stock of the market dynamics in setting out policy and making decisions.'

The temptation to keep pushing rents is why Colliers International expects a modest office building at 23 Middle Road to be attractive.

The indicative price for the six-storey building - which has a total gross floor area of 23,499 sq ft and a net lettable area of 17,314 sq ft - is $28 million or $1,600 psf of net lettable area.

Colliers' executive director for investment sales Ho Eng Joo says: 'If tenants in the CBD have to pay more than $10 psf per month they may as well consider buying their own property rather than face landlords who keep raising rents.'

Mr Ho expects accountancy and law firms may be among the bidders for the Middle Road building.

With space tight, office property also has good investment potential.

Based on average rent of $6-$8 psf per month in the Middle Road area, Mr Ho expects an investment yield of 4-5 per cent.

And with capital appreciation, gains could be much higher.

US Spending Slowdown Won't Hit Asia Hard

Source : The Business Times, October 3, 2007

But risk from China equity correction is a threat: economist

THE threat to Asian economic growth from a slowdown in US consumer spending may not be as great as widely feared, said a senior HSBC economist last week.

Economic growth in Asia is increasingly driven by domestic demand, while the historical relationship between US consumer spending and Asian export growth is quite weak, said Robert Prior-Wandesforde, senior Asian economist at HSBC.

'We think generally growth in Asia will hold up very well,' he said. He was speaking to members of the British Chamber of Commerce at the Raffles Hotel.

Overall US economic growth has already been slowing in recent months, but Asian economies have survived this 'incredibly well', he said.

And in the last two years, consensus forecasts of Asian economic growth a year ahead have shown an 'unprecedented divergence' from similar forecasts for US growth, as economists downgraded their outlook for the US while simultaneously becoming more optimistic about Asia.

He noted that in Malaysia, overall exports have not slowed as much as exports to the US alone, which suggested its exports were increasingly fuelled by demand from Europe, China, India, and other Asian countries.

In Singapore, overall economic growth accelerated in the first six months of the year even as export growth has been slowing, he noted. 'The domestic economy has managed to shake off the downturn in exports.'

'There are good chances that it will continue.' HSBC now predicts 8.5 per cent growth for Singapore this year, higher than the 7 to 8 per cent official growth forecast.

The other main fear - that a slowdown in US consumer spending triggered by falling house prices there would hobble Asian growth - may not be fully justified either, he said.

An analysis of nine major Asian economies including Singapore suggested that total export growth since 1995 was more closely linked to the amount of investment on equipment and software in the US than with American consumer spending.

'The point is that US tech spending has already slowed pretty dramatically. I think the worst is either close at hand or we may even be past the worst in the US tech cycle, and that is the more important driver of what happens to Asian exports.'

But there remained other risks to his relatively rosy outlook for Asia, including the risk of a correction in the Chinese equity market, where share indices have soared to five times what they were two years ago, he said.

'The danger is we focus too much on the US and forget about the bigger picture.'

'There are vulnerabilities in a lot of housing markets around the world, not just in Europe or the US,' he said.

Call For More Hotel Rooms Amid Crunch

Source : The Business Times, October 3, 2007

WITH hotels filling up and guests having to pay more for their accommodation, there is 'a call for more hotel rooms' in Singapore, says a consultant. There are already 15 more hotels planned or under construction, which should help, he says.

In an interview with BT, Patrick Ford, who is president of Lodging Econometrics, an international consultancy based in the United States, said that the HotelBenchmark Survey by accountancy firm Deloitte & Touche shows that Singapore had the third highest occupancy rates in the Pacific Rim at 81.5 per cent, last year. Hong Kong was first and Melbourne second.

The half-year results for the Deloitte report puts occupancy rates for the first half of 2007 at 82.9 per cent for Singapore, a 5.3 per cent increase over the corresponding period for last year. Deloitte reported average room rates for Singapore to be about US$160, a 22.4 per cent growth from the previous year.

Revenue per available room was strong and 'driven up by average room rates' Deloitte said, to US$132, a 28.9 per cent rise. The strength of these figures puts Singapore ahead of other Asia Pacific markets such as Hanoi, Mumbai, Manila, Shanghai, Bangkok and Bali.

According to data from Lodging Econometrics, Singapore currently has 15 hotel projects in the pipeline - which have been formally announced in the public domain or are being actively pursued - to provide the hotel industry with more than 6,400 rooms over the next few years.

Of the 15, five are currently under construction, two are expected to start in 12 months and eight are in various stages of early planning. The 15 hotels are expected to be completed between 2007 and 2010. Two of the 15 hotels will open their doors this year - the St Regis, Singapore, being one of them.

Mr Ford said the upcoming integrated resorts, coupled with Singapore being a popular choice as a MICE destination, keeps the city as a top international market and tourist destination as well as being on the booking rotation for conferences and conventions.

'It puts Singapore on the map as a hot destination for different reasons and different markets,' Mr Ford said.

Propelled by the flourishing property market, future hotel developments may have to be luxury or high-end ones, so as to reap the highest possible room rates and offset the costs of development and land, Mr Ford told BT. While there will still be a demand for mid-market hotel properties, they may be pushed outside of desirable locations.

MGPA Sells 12 Floors Of Offices For Quick Profit

Source : The Business Times, October 3, 2007

$225m sale price is 70% up from price it paid in Jan for space in Springleaf Tower

TWELVE floors in Springleaf Tower that were bought in January for $134 million have been sold again for $225 million - an increase of almost 70 per cent.

Springleaf Tower: The buyer of the office space is SEB Asset Management, part of German pension fund manager SEB, which bought SIA Building in April for $525m.

The seller is Macquarie Global Property Advisors (MGPA) which made headlines recently by submitting the top bid of $2.02 billion for a development site at Marina View.

The buyer of the SpringLeaf Tower space is SEB Asset Management (SAM), part of German pension fund manager SEB, which bought SIA Building from CLSA Capital Partners in April for more than $525 million.

SAM said in a statement yesterday the Springleaf Tower investment is its second in Asia for its new SEB Asian Property Fund, after it acquired an office tower in Shanghai's Puxi district in a 50-50 joint venture with Pacific Star at the beginning of September.

In Singapore, churn in the office sector appears to be increasing.

CLSA Capital Partners, for instance, acquired the SIA Building for $344 million in June 2006 before selling it less than a year later for 50 per cent more.

MGPA acquired Temasek Tower in March for $1.04 billion. And with capital values rising, it too could sell for a quick profit.

According to a report by CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), the average capital value of prime office space was an estimated $2,900 per square foot in Q3 2007, reflecting an increase of 16 per cent quarter on quarter and 114.8 per cent year on year.

CBRE said prime office yields were 4.32 per cent - up only slightly from 4.23 per cent in Q2 2007. But that has not stopped investors buying offices.

It said the office investment market remains active, with $3.459 billion of transactions in the third quarter. Notably, a fund linked to Goldman Sachs bought Chevron House for $366.4 million or $2,780 psf of net lettable area, setting a new benchmark that exceeded the $2,650 psf that British-based property fund Develica paid for One Finlayson Green in June.

SAM expects an internal rate of return of 9 per cent per annum on its investments.

Star Stockbrokers Make Top Bid For Kovan Site

Source : The Business Times, October 3, 2007

Duke Development's bid of $436.55 psf ppr beats 5 others for 99-yr leasehold

Sweet music: The 778-unit Kovan Melody (above) is sold out, with the secondary market transacting recently in the low $800 psf range. ''There could be pent-up demand for new homes in this location,'' says CB Richard Ellis executive director Li Hiaw Ho

A COMPANY controlled by stockbrokers Han Seng Juan and David Loh Kim Kang of UOB Kay Hian yesterday emerged as the surprise top bidders for a 189,812 sq ft site next to Kovan MRT Station and the Kovan Melody condo.

Through Duke Development Pte Ltd, they bid $290.02 million or $436.55 psf per plot ratio (psf ppr) for the 99-year leasehold site, which can be developed into a condominium project with possibly about 600 units averaging 1,200 sq ft.

Duke Development outbid five other contenders at yesterday's state tender conducted by Urban Redevelopment Authority. The others were:

# Far East Organization's Bishan Properties, which bid $280.1 million or about $422 psf ppr;

# A tie-up between Hong Leong Holdings unit Kingston Development and ASPF II Delta GmbH ($273 million or $411 psf ppr);

# Frasers Centrepoint ($262.4 million or $395 psf ppr); Allgreen Properties ($256.8 million or $387 psf ppr); and

# GuocoLand unit GLL Ventures ($227 million or $342 psf ppr). Property market players were busy yesterday evening trying to find out just who Duke Development was. The company is a fully owned subsidiary of Duchess Development, whose shareholders are Mr Han, Mr Loh and Angela Loh Moo Cheng, a companies search showed.

Mr Han and Mr Loh, in addition to being prominent stockbrokers at UOB Kay Hian, are also known to be corporate investors, who control stakes in companies like Summit Holdings and Pine Agritech.

They are also well known for pre-IPO China investments, and are dubbed the 'David and Han Team' and 'The Dream Team', according to stockbroking circles.

Mr Han and Mr Loh are well known for pre-IPO China investments and are dubbed the 'David and Han Team’ and ‘The Dream Team', according to stockbroking circles.

Industry players believe that based on Duke Development's top bid of $437 psf ppr at yesterday's tender, its break-even cost for a new condo development on the site could be in around $730 to $750 psf.

CB Richard Ellis executive director Li Hiaw Ho said: 'It is likely the selling price would range from about $850 to $950 psf. The 778-unit Kovan Melody has sold out and there could be pent-up demand for new homes in this location. Units in Kovan Melody in the secondary market were transacted recently in the low-$800 psf range.'

Prices of suburban condo sites have been rising as the residential recovery spreads to the mass-market. Last month, a plum 99-year condo site next to Ang Mo Kio MRT Station fetched a top bid of $601 psf ppr, a new record for a suburban condo plot.

Mr Han and Mr Loh are well known for pre-IPO China investments and are dubbed the 'David and Han Team' and 'The Dream Team', according to stockbroking circles.

Horizon Towers Case - Counsel: Buyers' Lawyer Has 'Outstayed Welcome'

Source : The Business Times, October 3, 2007

Minority owners' counsel point to several defects in application

The Horizon Towers appeal continued in the High Court yesterday, with the minority owners - those who didn't agree to the en bloc sale - presenting their objections as to why the Strata Titles Board's (STB) decision should not be overturned.

And while it was a distinctly more muted session than the previous day's, sly barbs were still exchanged between the various lawyers - with the atmosphere remaining charged.

The inclusion of the buyers - Hotel Properties (HPL) and its partners - represented by Allen & Gledhill (A&G) in this appeal has been the source of much consternation among the other parties and it obviously continued to rankle some of the lawyers yesterday.

Senior Counsel KS Rajah of Harry Elias Partnership, who represents a group of minority owners, said A&G's lawsuit was akin to 'holding a gun to the heads' of the owners. 'And yet they dare to come into this courtroom and preach to us what's right and what's wrong,' Mr Rajah complained.

Senior Counsel Michael Hwang, who also represents one of the minorities, took issue with A&G's tactics. He said A&G Senior Counsel K Shanmugam had 'outstayed his welcome in these proceedings' in asking the court to make certain orders for the 'express purpose of influencing a possible outcome' of the suit between the buyers and the majority owners.

The viewing public also didn't spare Mr Shanmugam, who must have felt like the party's most unpopular guest. Members of the gallery booed him when he said: 'We are not in the business of suing people except in the case of serious misconduct.'

This ongoing appeal is meant for the High Court to determine if it should set aside STB's decision in August to dismiss Horizon Towers' collective sale application, on the grounds that it was defective because it was missing three signatory pages. The buyers have, in the meantime, sued the majority owners over the botched application. That suit has been stayed, pending - among other things - the outcome of this appeal.

Doreen Siow, a former member of the sales committee and one of the majority owners, turned up to witness the court proceedings yesterday - braving the torrent of criticism that has been levelled against her. It is A&G's position that Ms Siow tried to sabotage the en bloc sale.

The emotional outbursts from the crowd prompted Mr Shanmugam to comment that 'this should not be treated as a circus' - which moved Justice Choo Han Teck to tell the court officer to keep the public gallery in order.

Mr Shanmugam went on to remind the court and its participants that his clients' interests are in line with those of the majority owners of Horizon Towers - which is, to see the collective sale through.

The afternoon was taken up by the minority owners' lawyers, who argued that STB's decision should be upheld. Mr Hwang and Kannan Ramesh of Tan Kok Quan Partnership both agreed that neither STB nor the High Court had the jurisdiction to amend the defects in the collective sale application, and cited various statutes and case law to support their position.

Mr Ramesh also pointed out that STB has since 2000 required strict compliance with collective sale applications and that, even if the non-compliance were of a technical nature - as the majority sellers and buyers are arguing - it would still strip the board of its jurisdiction to rule a defective application as being valid.

Mr Ramesh and Mr Hwang also agreed that there were more defects in the application than just the three missing pages. Mr Hwang related how, in August, he was interrupted in his cross-examination of the first witness at the STB hearing - when the board decided suddenly to throw out the application. He said there were 'lots of other cases of discrepancies' which hadn't yet been heard and would have to be brought up if the case was sent back to STB. 'So it isn't just a matter of these small technical issues,' he said.

Mr Rajah took a more impassioned tack, saying the missing three pages 'isn't just a technicality, it's a crime'. He also told the court that the law is meant to protect the minorities.

The hearing will continue today, with the majority owners making their replies to the minorities' submissions. Judge Choo has indicated he will take a week to rule on the matter.