Monday, October 8, 2007

Great Magic - An Old Man In Disguise

Magic Is Funs!!!

Magic Trick By Barry and Stuart

Don't Act On Han's 'Forecast', Says F&N

Source : The Business Times, October 8, 2007

Company distances itself from outgoing CEO's remarks given to the media

FRASER & Neave (F&N) has distanced itself from comments made by Han Cheng Fong, its former chief executive whose unexpected resignation on Friday shocked the market.

A statement from the company yesterday referred to comments Dr Han gave to the media in which he spoke about the company's future. Dr Han, who stepped down following disagreements with the board, had given his own take on the company's prospects. An F&N spokesman took pains to stress that investors should not act on that information.

In a statement of his own after F&N announced his departure, Dr Han had said: 'As the third-quarter results indicate, we are going to end this year with sterling quality performance.'

Dr Han added that he is confident of strong double-digit growth over the next five years and F&N is likely to achieve a doubling of this year's bottom-line performance by the end of the fifth year.

F&N said its outlook for the year, given during its third-quarter results in August, is expected to improve over that of the previous year, barring any unexpected circumstances.

In addition, F&N said while it is known it has set itself a target of 10 per cent improvement each year, it does not make public forecasts of its long-term performance.

'Investors are advised not to act on information which has not been issued by the company,' said F&N's group company secretary Anthony Cheong.

The booming property market helped to boost F&N's third-quarter net profit by 28 per cent to $97.1 million, while net earnings for the first nine months rose 36 per cent to $280.7 million.

On Friday, F&N said Dr Han is leaving with immediate effect, citing differences with the board.

No successor has been named but F&N said that pending the appointment of a new chief executive, the board's chairman will oversee management of the group.

Current chairman Michael Fam steps down next week to make way for Lee Hsien Yang, the former chief executive of Singapore Telecommunications.

Lumos @ Leonie Hill

Foreign Appeal/Extremely High Investment Potential
Being located in the much sought after prime distict 09.

Design Concept
# The iconic architecture of the building is evolved from the idea of a glittering chandelier. The Lumos cradles a central column of sparkling glass “Living Pods”, designed to resemble the jewel like crystals of a chandelier. Units at either side of the “Living Pods” symbolize the crystal plate of the chandelier.

# With Sky Gardens connecting each level (except on Duplexes, where they alternate), every unit opens onto a landscaped plot of green living space, offering residents a refreshing sanctuary.

# well-designed living areas and kitchens that open to generous balconies.

Top-Of-The-Line Designer Fittings
# Master Bedroom equipped with Italian-made Visentin "Rainbow Shower"-gentle colour-therapy backlight that changes colours to enhance the user's mood, providing a complete home spa experience

# The Master Bedroom in each unit also comes walled with Strass Swarovski Crystal tiles and appointed with imported Bellosta Italian Bathroom fittings.

# The exterior-facing master bathroom windows are made with advanced Liquid Crystal Glass, allowing them to turn from frosted to clear at the flick of a switch.
Address : 9 Leonie Hill (Former Site of Hilton Towers)
District : 09
Total Units : 53 State of the Art GEMS Freehold Apatrments with Magnificent
Orchard Road View
Tenure : Freehold
Development : 1 Block of 36 Storeys Residential Apartments
Site Area : 33,700sqft
Plot Ratio : 2.8

Expected Year of TOP : 2011
Developer : Buildhome Pte Ltd(Koh Brothers Development Pte Ltd, Heeton Holdings Ltd)

Project Consultants:-
Architect : Alsop Architect
Landscape Architect : PDAA Design Pte Ltd
Interior Designer : ID Department

Units Estimate Sizes :-
1-Bedroom Type A 635sqft - 4units
2-Bedroom Type B Duplex 958sqft - 3 units
3 Bedroom Type C 1,744sqft - 12 units
4 Bedroom Type D 2,433sqft - 12 units
3 bedroom Type E Duplex 2,390sqft - 10 units
4-Bedroom Type F Duplex 3.337sqft - 10 units
Penthouses Type G & H 5,640–5,974sqft - 2 units (comes with Roof Terrace complete with a private pool)

Map Source :

Coveted Location
Situated in the prestigious Leonie Hill residential area, a mere 5-minute stroll from Orchard Road, The Lumos promises luxurious living in the very heart of the city

Magnificient Views/Excellent Environment
Close proximity to Singapore's vibrant shopping belt, yet still manages to afford owners a rare haven of peace and tranquility admist the hustle and bustle of city life

Built at the peak of a gentle elevated slope, residents of all units are ensured breathtaking panoramic views of the nearby Orchard Road skyline and surrounding cityscape.

Facilities :-
-Lap Pool with Male & Female Changing Rooms
-Children's Playground
-BBQ Pits
-24 Hours Security
-Basement Carpark

The Metz @ Devonshire Road

The Metz is a high-rise tower block located at Devonshire Road, off Orchard Boulevard. This well sought-after prime location ensure convenience at your door-step.

Address : 83 Devonshire Road
Tenure : Freehold
District : 09
TOP : 2007
Year of Completion : 2009
Developer : MCL Land

The Metz is a stone-throw from Somerset MRT Station or the Orchard MRT Station. It is within few minutes walk from the popular shopping and entertainment belt of Orchard Road. Clubs such as The Tanglin Club, The Pines Club and The American Club are within a stone’s throw away. Good schools and educational institutions such as Raffles Girls School, International Singapore School (ISS), Overseas Family School and Chatsworth International School are located nearby. Amenities like eateries, shops, NTUC Fairprice supermarket at Killiney Road (with a large wine section) and convenience stores are within a short stroll away.

The Metz is accessible via Orchard Boulevard, River Valley Road. Driving to the Central Business District takes a mere 5 minutes. Public transport is easily available around the area.


1, Somerset Road Singapore 238162
How far? 0.24 km

437, Orchard Road Singapore 238878
How far? 0.75 km

11, Orchard Road Singapore 238826
How far? 0.99 km

49, Scotts Road Singapore 228234
How far? 1.43 km

10, Eu Tong Sen Street Singapore 059815
How far? 1.59 km


1, Grange Road Singapore 239693
How far? 0.23 km

321, Orchard Road Singapore 238866
How far? 0.24 km

277, Orchard Road Singapore 238858
How far? 0.25 km

8, Grange Road Singapore 239695
How far? 0.26 km

220, Orchard Road Singapore 238852
How far? 0.29 km


21, Cuppage Road Singapore 229452
How far? 0.44 km


1, Grange Road Singapore 239693
How far? 0.23 km

163, Penang Road Singapore 238463
How far? 0.43 km

2 River Valley Green Singapore 237993
How far? 0.57 km

25F, Paterson Road Singapore 238515
How far? 0.66 km

101, Penang Road Singapore 238466
How far? 0.67 km

-Swimming Pool
-Tennis Court
-Bubble Pool
-Children's Pool cum Water Feature
-Children's Playground
-Barbecue Pavilion
-Car Park
-24 Hours Security

Global Credit Crisis Not Over Yet: IMF's Chief

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 October 2007

LONDON : The global credit squeeze is a "serious crisis" that is not over yet and will have an impact on government budgets, the IMF's outgoing head Rodrigo Rato said in an interview published Monday.

Speaking to the Financial Times from Washington, IMF Managing Director Rato said: "Policymakers should not think that the problems will stay at the desk of the bankers."

"Problems are going to come to the real sector, come to the budgets - that is something we keep telling people."

Rato said that it would be "a few months, probably into next year" before the availability of funds returned to normal levels in the markets, which was "going to have an impact on growth."

He noted that the limitation on growth would mean that finance ministers would have to amend their budgets, but he told the FT that it did not seem that many were willing to do so.

Rato added that the credit crunch, sparked earlier this year by concern in the financial markets over high-risk or sub-prime mortgages in the United States, was "not a storm in a teacup".

"The US is going to slow down...Growth in Europe looks less strong than before, and in Japan too - though Japan will probably stay (at about) potential," said Rato, who will be succeeded as IMF chief by former French finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the end of the month.

Emerging markets will also likely have some impact, Rato said, adding that while those countries were growing rapidly, "to what extent they will keep that momentum will depend on how long the slowdown is in the US and Europe."

In Madrid Monday Rato said the risks had grown considerably in the past six months.

"The risks are clearly much greater now that they were six months ago," Rato told a Latin American conference organised by Spanish chambers of commerce.

"This turbulence in the credit market, if it continues, would obviously have a much more serious effect on the world economy," he said. - AFP/ch

Conditions Unchanged, Why 8% Rise In Flat Price?

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 8, 2007

I READ with interest the reply by the HDB, 'Fernvale flat prices: Comparisons inapt' (ST, Oct 2).

From the letter, it would seem that the pricing of units in the Build-To-Order project is justified. However, I would like to ask HDB to justify this.

I bought (although technically I leased) an executive apartment in Sengkang in January.

At the time of booking, the unit one floor below mine was going for $298,000. After six months, the same unit was going for $322,000.

Absolutely nothing was done to the unit to justify an 8 per cent increase in selling price, considering there was no change in facilities or 'improved design features'.

Another issue I would like to raise is the so-called subsidy new flat buyers like me are supposed to enjoy.

At the point of signing the lease agreement, my flat was priced at a mere $10,000 less than resale flats with similar qualities, that is, same cluster and same flat size. What is more, resale flats came renovated.

May I ask, where is the subsidy? It is unfair that I have to pay a levy of $50,000 for a price difference of only $10,000.

Liew Yi Xui (Ms)

Wide Range Of Parks And Open Spaces In HDB Estates

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 8, 2007

I REFER to the letter, 'More open, green spaces to rejuvenate HDB estates' by Mr Chai Joo Siong (ST, Sept 24).

We recognise the benefits of green spaces for recreational use and green relief in built-up areas. In planning and rejuvenating its estates, the HDB works closely with other agencies on provision of park facilities. There is a hierarchy of parks and open spaces in HDB estates from regional, town and neighbourhood parks to common greens and open spaces. NParks also implements an islandwide park connector network.

The land between Dakota Crescent and Geylang River was previously occupied by residential blocks. These have been cleared under the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) to further optimise land use and the land is zoned residential in Master Plan 2003. Part of the site has been awarded to the private developer for condominium development under the Government Land Sales Programme.

There is currently an existing park connector along the southern bank of the Geylang River and the open space near the junction of Mountbatten Road and Old Airport Road. We also understand NParks has plans to introduce a park connector along the northern bank of the river, which will add to the overall green ambience.

Dr Chong Fook Loong
Deputy Director (Physical Planning)
for Director (Research & Planning)
Housing and Development Board

Credit Crisis Not Over Yet: IMF's Rato

Source: The Straits Times, Oct 8, 2007

LONDON - THE global credit squeeze is a 'serious crisis' that is not over yet and will have an impact on governments' budgets, the IMF's outgoing head Rodrigo Rato said in an interview published on Monday.

Speaking to the Financial Times from Washington, IMF Managing Director Rato said: 'Policymakers should not think that the problems will stay at the desk of the bankers.' 'Problems are going to come to the real sector, come to the budgets - that is something we keep telling people.' Rato said that it would be 'a few months, probably into next year' before the availability of funds returned to normal levels in the markets, which was 'going to have an impact on growth'.

He noted that the limitation on growth would mean that finance ministers would have to amend their budgets, but he told the FT that it did not seem that many were willing to do so.

He added that the credit crunch, sparked earlier this year by concern in the financial markets over high-risk or subprime mortgages in the United States, was 'not a storm in a teacup'.

'The US is going to slow down ... Growth in Europe looks less strong than before, and in Japan too - though Japan will probably stay (at about) potential,' said Mr Rato, who will be succeeded as IMF chief by former French finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the end of the month.

Emerging markets will also likely have some impact, Rato said, adding that while those countries were growing rapidly, 'to what extent they will keep that momentum will depend on how long the slowdown is in the US and Europe.' -- AFP

Thank You, America

Source : TODAY, Monday, October 8, 2007

Strong US job data should help to stop recession in Asia

UNITED States jobs data showing that the country’s economy is likely to skirt an outright recession should help set the tone for Asian markets, including Singapore’s, this week.

In addition, Singapore’s third-quarter economic report, due to be issued early on Wednesday at the same time as the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) semi-annual policy statement, is widely expected to show continued strong broad-based expansion.

Economists told TODAY they expect third-quarter gross domestic product to have expanded 9 to 9.6 per cent from a year earlier, faster than the second quarter’s 8.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, ING’s economists, in a weekly report, said uncertainty surrounds MAS’policy, which has held a tightening bias since April 2004.

“Irrespective of whether it does (tighten further), we expect the trend of confidence-sensitive capital inflows appreciating (the Singapore dollar) and pushing short-term rates lower will persist,” the report said.

Last week, the Straits Times Index (STI) rose 3.14 per cent to 3,822.62.

Average daily volume totalled 4 billion shares valued at $3.44 billion, compared with 2.58 billion shares worth $2.75 billion the week before.

On Friday, the US Labor Department said employers outside the farm sector added 110,000 jobs in September, more than economists had predicted.

The report also significantly revised the same figure for previous months: In August, the economy gained 89,000 jobs, compared with the previouslyreported loss of 4,000 jobs for the month.

Morgan Stanley chief US economist Richard Berner said the change to the August jobs figure exceeded almost all expectations. “We’re not talking about an economic boom. We still have a slowing job picture. But it’s one that’s far less dire than the one that was portrayed by the data” when it was released a month ago, he said.

The good news on job creation drowned fresh warnings on housing-related losses. Washington Mutual and Merrill Lynch said their third-quarter profits would be hit by turmoil in the mortgage and credit markets.

Merrill projected it would lose as much as US$0.50 a share in the quarter because of writedowns of US$5 billion ($7.4 billion) on sub-prime mortgages and other investments.

Still, investors, as they did all of last week, ignored the bad news from companies hit by subprime losses. Merrill’s shares ended the day up 2.53 per cent and Washington Mutual was up 2.24 per cent.

“It’s all good, that’s the motto right now,” said Mr Russ Koesterich, head of investment strategy at Barclays Global Investors. — AGENCIES

First business complex in Bangsar ready by 2009

Source : TODAY, Monday, October 8, 2007

HOPING to tap into the growing buying interest in real estate in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur-based developer UOA Group was here over the weekend to market their latest project in the prime Bangsar suburb.

“It is the first business complex in this area, which is actually known as a residential area for professionals working in the city,” said Mr Teh Heng Chong, UOA general manager of marketing and sales.

The 78,000-sq-ft business complex is in Bangsar Utama and will be completed in the first quarter of 2009. A single 800-sq-ft unit costs about RM500,000 ($220,000) while a 10,000-sq-ft double-storey business suite costs about RM4 million.

Among its other projects is the development of a Soho (small office home office) in Bangsar South, a first for Malaysia.

Strong Q3 Growth Expected

Source : TODAY, Monday, October 8, 2007

S’pore economy healthy and resilient despite US sub-prime turmoil

THE United States’ sub-prime mortgage mess may have raised global uncertainties, but the Singapore economy retained healthy vigour in the July-September quarter, economists said.

Recent data indicated all engines fired strongly in the period, suggesting the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s advance estimate for third quarter gross domestic product on Wednesday will show the economy expanded 9.0 to 9.6 per cent from a year earlier, they said.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which will issue its semi-annual review at the same time at 8am on Wednesday, is expected to stick to its policy of a “modest, gradual appreciation” for the Singapore dollar. The MAS uses the tradeweighted Singapore dollar exchange rate, rather than interest rates, as its main policy tool because the city state’s trade flows dwarf the island’s domestic economy.

“Growth in the third quarter is likely to remain broad-based with the services industries sustaining strong growth while the recovery in construction continues to take hold. As a result, we could see third-quarter GDP growth coming in at around 9 per cent year on year,” said UOB economist Ho Woei Chen.

Ms Ho reckons industrial output grew “a robust 18.1 per cent year on year in July-August”, with manufacturing for that period “driven largely by the biomedical and transport engineering clusters which helped to compensate for weaker electronics

“Even with flat output growth in September, the manufacturing sector should still be turning in around 11.5 per cent growth in the third quarter,” Ms Ho said.

Should third-quarter GDP come in strong as expected, UOB will likely raise its 7.5-per-cent full-year GDP growth forecast, she said.

Early August, MTI raised the full-year growth forecast to 7 to 8 per cent, from 5 to
7 per cent, after the economy’s expansion became more broad-based in the second
quarter amid upbeat business sentiment.

Some economists are even more positive about the economy. HSBC senior economist Robert Prior-Wandesford expects growth of 9.6 per cent for the third quarter and 8.5 per cent for the full year.

The strong domestic market, though, could become a victim of the turmoil caused by the sub-prime crisis.

“It would be interesting to see if earnings have taken a dip in the financial services sector, given the sub-prime crisis,” he said.

Mr Cem Karacadag, director of Credit Suisse’s Emerging Markets Economics Group, said in the bank’s Emerging Markets Quarterly report he expects the strongerthan-expected performance in the first half of the year to be offset by a slowdown in the US this half year, intensified in part by the recent financial market turmoil.

“We expect real GDP growth to slow to 6.5 per cent in the second half of the year, from 7.5 per cent in the first half, and thus to an average of 7 per cent in full year 2007, just within the Government’s 7-to-8-percent range,” said Mr Karacadag.

With a continued US slowdown in its sights, Credit Suisse has lowered its GDP forecast for 2008 to 6 per cent from 8 per cent.

According to an MAS survey of forecasters conducted in mid-August and released earlier this month, economists forecast an average 7.5 per cent growth this year,
higher than their June median growth forecast of 6 per cent.

Heal The Debt Ills

Source : TODAY, Monday, October 8, 2007

Letter from CHIA HERN KENG

I REFER to “A worldwide downturn looms, New York City mayor warns” (Oct 2).

When the financial markets were doing well, few experts criticised the credit policies responsible for the huge national debt incurred by the United States, which in turn have become responsible for the recent financial markets turmoil. However, after the sub-prime mortgage crisis, warnings on global depressions have never ceased.

The truth is that America’s debt issues are hardly news but have been around for a long time.

In the 1970s, the US government appreciated the price of gold astronomically, to fulfil its promise to other nations that had been accumulating billions of US dollars that the currency was worth its price in gold. And given the clout of the US, of course the new gold price set became the world standard.

It is well known that American society has all along been a heavily debt-ridden one due to the widespread use of credit cards. As a result, total debt is several times
bigger than the sub-prime mortgage.

To say now that US society should be conservative in its spending sounds rather odd when the belief in such a debt-based economy has been so completely institutionalised and embedded in the American culture —and is now also spreading to other nations.

Now that the world has got a taste of how dangerous a debt-based economic policy can be on the markets, what is needed is action to correct the effects of this disease and not more doomsday warnings. This is because the global markets have somewhat recovered from the shocks and the new global economic order, propelled by huge emerging countries like BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), is showing increasing economic resilience and is decoupling from Wall Street.

This is good for America, too, because global prosperity will enrich the US, where much investment funds still originate.

More negative talk from the experts can only depress the markets unnecessarily.

The concrete problem lies in the spendthrift disposition of the US, and as long as this continues, there is little point in harping on the negative effects.

Not Only The Rich Live Longer

Source : TODAY, Monday, October 8, 2007

In Singapore, good healthcare is accessible to all

Letter from ONG HUI GUAN
Secretariat, National
Longevity Insurance Committee

WE REFER to the letter, “The numbers tell the story” (Oct 4), by Vincent Chia, who cited statistics from the United States and the United Kingdom that showed a positive correlation between socio-economic status and life expectancy.

We thank Vincent Chia for his input, but care should be taken in extrapolating these findings to Singapore. One major factor that can influence life expectancy is access to good healthcare, and this is equally accessible by Singaporeans rich and poor.

This explains why our infant mortality rate — a reliable indicator of general health delivery to the entire population — is one of the lowest in the world.

At present, private insurers in Singapore do not differentiate premiums for annuity products according to one’s earnings or housing type.

Vincent Chia further suggested that most of the very old in Singapore are from the higher socio-economic groups who lived in larger homes. This is not so when compared to the general distribution of households (see table).

More importantly, professional actuaries do not make conclusions about life expectancy based on the distribution of housing types. This would be an inaccurate and wrong approach.

We would like to reassure CPF members that the National Longevity Insurance Scheme will be fair to all participants.

It will consult actuarial experts who use best practices to determine the life expectancy of various groups of Singaporeans. Premiums will be adjusted to equalise groups with different life expectancies.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital To Be New Model Of Hospital Management: Khaw

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 07 October 2007

The soon-to-be-completed Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun will be a new model of hospital management, says Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

This includes the setting up of a charity fund to help patients where government subsidies are insufficient.

Mr Khaw also announces the hospital's board of directors, most of whom are from outside the medical field, saying they will bring in fresh perspectives.

The Khoo Teck Puat Hospital will be Singapore's newest general hospital, come 2010.

Related Video Link -
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to be new model of hospital management: Khaw

The Health Ministry says the hospital can pick up a tip or two on service-oriented management from the Raffles Hotel.

That is why Jennie Chua, the former CEO of Raffles Holdings, has been appointed to head the hospital's board of directors.

Alexandra Hospital's CEO, Liak Teng Lit, said: "If you look at our board members, because they've all been successful in their respective areas, they are able to help us in a very deep way, not in a superficial way of just giving us general directions or general ideas of what can be done."

Minister Khaw said that the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, with its board independent from the National Healthcare Group's management, provides an opportunity to structure a new way of hospital management.

He said: "The bulk of the cost will still come from the government, so it's not a VWO like Ren Ci. But at the same time, it's not a completely public hospital because there's this $125m from a foundation. So I need to find a slightly different governance model."

This includes using an annual grant from the Khoo Teck Puat Foundation to help patients where government subsidies like MediShield, Medisave, MediFund are not enough.

If successful, Mr Khaw hopes to replicate the idea in other general hospitals.

In an example of innovation at the new hospital, the C-class ward will be divided into groups of five beds each.

Bathrooms will be located at each cluster, which means greater convenience and comfort for patients.

The 5-bed arrangement also allows for quicker isolation of patients from infectious diseases.

The Ministry says that while costs may be higher, some patients have expressed willingness to pay more for better service.

Mr Khaw said: "We would have to have a say in the final pricing; they would have to clear the final pricing with us. And, of course, the Ministry of Health will ensure that the key point remains - that they (prices) will remain heavily subsidised and affordable."

Alexandra Hospital, which will run the Yishun facility, says it aims to have a one-hour turnaround time for 90 percent of its patients once the hospital is ready in 2010. - CNA/ir

Look At Crazy Ideas ...

Source : TODAY, Monday, October 8, 2007

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital board urged to 'run a little wild'

The 550-bed Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) under construction in Yishun boasts a board of directors that would not look out of place in a multinational corporation.

Announced by Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday, more than half of the 11-member board — described by hospitality and charity veteran Jennie Chua as a "private sector" hospital board — are not medically trained.

Headed by Ms Chua, the board — which has a three-year tenure — includes non-doctors such as food entrepreneur Douglas Foo of Apex-Pal International; Citi Private Bank managing director and region head Tan Su Shan; Mr Ramlee Buang, executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Cerebos Pacific and Mr Tham Kui Seng, chief corporate officer of CapitaLand.

"We made some effort to scout around … and we looked for talent from different sectors," Mr Khaw told the media at a community event yesterday. "The idea of forming (this particular) board is to stretch their imagination. We would like to get them to think out of the box, so that they can push the boundary ... (and) look at crazy ideas. The key point is: Do patients find it useful?"

The board will not come under the purview of the two national healthcare clusters — the National Healthcare Group and SingHealth. But Mr Khaw said his ministry would ensure that patient fees are kept in line with other healthcare facilities in Singapore.

A key factor behind the decision for "a slightly different governance model", he said, was the $125-million donation from the family of the late Mr Khoo. This sum includes $5 million set aside every year for five years as part of a welfare fund to help needy patients.

This model for KTPH — which also got major funding from the Government — would let the Khoo family stay involved, as well as to rope in talent from other fields. Goodwood Park Hotel chairman and managing director Mavis Khoo sits on the KTPH board to represent the Khoo Teck Puat Foundation.

The team running Alexandra Hospital (AH) will take charge of KTPH. AH's chief executive Liak Teng Lit said the 3.4-ha development was "three months behind our expected schedule" due to the labour and sand squeeze in the building sector, but he is optimistic it would open as planned in 2010.

More F&N Drama

Source : TODAY, Monday, October 8, 2007

The firm weighs in on former CEO's comments on its prospects

The drama surrounding the sudden resignation of Fraser & Neave (F&N) chief executive officer Han Cheng Fong became more intense yesterday with the conglomerate weighing in on his comments on its prospects.

F&N was responding to reports in The Straits Times and Business Times on Saturday on Dr Han's resignation, which took immediate effect on Friday.

Both newspapers quoted Dr Han as saying that F&N "is going to end this year with sterling quality performance".

Also, Dr Han was "confident the next five years promise strong double-digit growth and F&N is likely to achieve a doubling of this year's bottom line performance by the end of the fifth year", they reported.

In its statement filed with the Singapore Exchange yesterday, F&N distanced itself from Dr Han's reported statement, warning investors "not to act on information which has not been issued by the com-pany".

F&N's outlook for the year, announced in its Aug 10 third-quarter results, had stated that "barring any unforeseen circumstances, the group's performance is expected to improve over that of the previous year", the company reiterated.

Also, "the group does not make public forecasts of its long-term performance", F&N said, even as it acknowledged that it had set itself a target of 10-per-cent improvement each year.

On Friday, F&N said in its statement to the SGX that Dr Han resigned due to "differences of opinion with the board".

When asked by Today to elaborate, F&N had said the company didn't want "to dwell on the details" as it "has to protect what might be commercially-sensitive information".

F&N added that the departure of Dr Han's and the appointment of former SingTel chief executive Lee Hsien Yang are "unconnected" although the timing of the two "is unfortunately close".

A Funeral Hub, Sir?

Source : TODAY, Monday, October 8, 2007

Sin Ming residents upset by plans to build funeral home complex

There were the expected questions on Electronic Road Pricing, public transport fares and the quality of public bus services. It was the Transport Minister holding court in this dialogue session after all.

But even as construction on the Circle Line was taking place in their backyard, transport issues failed to draw the same heated emotions as those concerning funeral matters.

For some 200 residents of the Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency, proposed funeral parlour developments at Sin Ming Lane was the order of the day at a meeting with Transport Minister Raymond Lim yesterday. This topic came up in half of the 20 or so questions raised during a 75-minute dialogue session.

According to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) plans, this proposed funeral parlour development would be situated about 200m behind Ai Tong School. Public and private housing estates are also within view of this proposed site.

Noting the funeral parlours already there, one resident, also a grassroots leader, asked whether Sin Ming estate was being converted into "a funeral hub". She was worried the proposed development would "look like Disneyland", having heard from the authorities at an earlier dialogue session that it could have a "beautiful facade".

The resident, who lives opposite the proposed development, added: "The residents are strongly against the idea of locating a funeral parlour within the estate."

Another resident expressed concern over a potential fall in property value if the development gets the green light from the authorities. He wanted to know if homeowners at Sin Ming Lane would be "compensated" if the parlours are built there.

In response, Bishan-Toa Payoh Member of Parliament Hri Kumar said grassroots leaders have already raised resi- dents' concerns with the URA. He said the authorities had mooted the building of funeral parlours in Yishun years ago but commercial operators failed to take it up "because they needed it to be in a more accessible location".

A resident then queried: Would the new parlours be truly accessible, given there was no MRT station nearby or anything more than a few bus services?

Mr Kumar assured residents that "no decision has been made ... URA is still receiving feedback from us on this". He said there would be no "Disneyland concept" and a proposed light industrial development at Sin Ming Lane could shield residents from the proposed funeral parlour development.

Mr Lim also weighed in and told residents that Mr Kumar and grassroots leaders would take up their concerns with the URA.

Mr Lim, cautioning against a "not in my backyard" mindset, said: "We are living in a small and compact city, and trying to address many competing interests."

Govt To Build 550-Bed Yishun Hospital

Source : The Business Times, 08 October 2007

Donation of $125m to come from family of late banker Khoo Teck Puat

THE Ministry of Health (MOH) is building a regional hospital in Yishun to better serve residents in the northern region of Singapore.

Ms Chua: Appointed chairman of hospital's board of directors

Spanning over 3.4 hectares, the 550-bed hospital will offer a comprehensive range of medical and healthcare services.

The new public sector hospital will be named Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, following the promise of a donation of $125 million from the family of the late banker and philanthropist.

A new entity, KTPH Pte Ltd has been incorporated under MOH Holdings to own and operate Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

A board of directors, chaired by Jennie Chua, president and CEO of The Ascott Group, has been appointed to guide the strategic direction of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, a ministry statement said.

The board will ensure that the hospital is managed well with strong corporate governance to achieve financial sustainability, service excellence, and an active programme of development and innovation so that it can deliver on its mission of being a hassle-free and patient-centric hospital, it added.

MOH also noted that Mavis Khoo, representing the Khoo Teck Puat Foundation, has agreed to serve as a member of the board.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital will be run by the existing team running Alexandra Hospital and will continue to be led by Liak Teng Lit, chief executive officer.

The incorporation of the hospital provides the team with the opportunity to try out innovative models of care delivery and coordination, as well as eliminate wastage that stands in the way of efficiency, with a view to improving healthcare for Singaporeans.

Why GST On Condo Sinking Fund?

Source : The Straits Times, Monday, October 8, 2007

I OWN a property and receive monthly billing from the property management corporation for the following:

Management fund;

Sinking fund; and

GST on the sum total of management fund and sinking fund.

My interpretation of sinking fund is a fund deposited into the management corporation account for future ‘large amount expenses’ which have been decided and approved in the property annual general meeting.

Therefore, my question is this: Is GST applicable to this deposit held in trust by the management corporation, as the money has not been spent?

At a future date when the management corporation spends the sinking fund to fix certain items, a contractor will be chosen and then the cost to be paid by the management corporation to the contractor will certainly be charged GST.

This issue has probably missed the attention of many property owners. Therefore, an answer from the authorities is greatly appreciated.

Real Estate Scheme Helps Youth To Build Solid Job Foundation

Source : The Straits Times, Monday, October 8, 2007

Mentorship programme helps seven at-risk or disabled young people become property agents.

THE property boom is offering disadvantaged youth a new lease on life.

Under a programme called Project Youth Regeneration, seven young people who are at risk or physically disabled are soon to become real estate agents.

Among them is Miss Zaina Tahir, whose life was tumultuous for several years before she turned 21. At 16, she had been sent to a girls’ home for drug abuse and truancy.
But finally deciding she did not want her life ‘to be corrupted like this’, she approached Mr Adrian Lim of ERA for help in March.

He oversees training, and says that while the money is good, learning the ropes is, in fact, ‘extremely difficult’.

‘It is a long process to teach many of these youth to understand what integrity, responsibility and honesty is,’ said the 43-year-old.

‘We started off with 60 youth, only seven have pulled through.’

But the apprentices who have made it are reaping rewards already.

They handle telemarketing to source for sellers and buyers, then arrange for viewings and, with an agent-mentor, learn to close deals.

Of a real estate agent’s commission of 2 per cent for each sale or tenancy deal, these recruits then get a 15 per cent cut - or about $900 and up.

That, as well as renewed confidence and direction.

Institute of Technical Education graduate Ivan Lin’s severe limp due to cerebral palsy has become less of an issue for him in the months since he joined the programme in January.

The 20-year-old said: ‘Sometimes when I meet a client face-to-face I can tell they are shocked to see I am disabled… but I can overcome my disabilities.’

Joanne Tan, 17, whose left spastic hemiparesis condition weakened her left arm and made it difficult for her to focus, is enthusiastic, too.

‘I am willing to learn. I am so glad I got this chance and started early,’ said the N-level holder. ‘I used to be scared to take phone calls, and now I am not. That’s progress!’

After they prove themselves, ERA will then register them as full-fledged agents who are entitled to their full commission, said Mr Lim.

He was so convinced about the project, he even quit his five-figure-salary job to work on it. He and his partner, 77th Street retail chain owner Elim Chew, even put in about $150,000 of their own money to the cause.

‘Real estate is perfect for those who are not highly qualified but have great interpersonal skills,’ he said.

Pundits agree. The project won a non-profit organisation contest, The Pitch, by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre in June last year, which came with an award of $50,000 from UBS bank.

The President of the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA), Mr Jeff Foo, also believes the industry is a level playing field for those who do not have paper qualifications.
‘There are no entrance requirements apart from age,’ he pointed out.

In fact, IEA’s estimates are that 60 per cent of Singapore’s 19,500 agents hold O-level or lower qualifications.

‘That means almost anybody can be a real estate agent if the person has the aptitude. With proper training and mentorship, they have an equal shot at success.’
For Miss Zaina, an N-level holder who just two years ago thought she was a no-hoper, it means a second chance.

She currently works part-time at a factory while she understudies ERA agents, and boards with a friend’s family for $150 a month.

But not for long, she hopes.

‘I know I can do it this time. Now I really want to. I want to have a good life and earn a decent salary.’

Not Another Funeral Home, Please

Source : The Straits Times, Monday, October 8, 2007

Sin Ming residents worry yet another one in the area may drive down property values.

A PROPOSED building in Sin Ming for funeral parlours has raised protests among some of the area’s residents, who say their neighbourhood already has too many of them.

They told Transport Minister Raymond Lim during a dialogue yesterday that placing it near their residential blocks is not ideal, taking into account traditional superstitions which associate death and dying with bad luck.

Some also feared a drop in the value of their properties.

The site for the proposed building is an empty plot next to Bright Hill Temple. It is near Ai Tong School and residential areas, both HDB blocks and private condominiums.

The spirited debate on the issue dominated the 90-minute dialogue, held after a three-hour ministerial visit of the Thomson division by Mr Lim. He was accompanied by Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MPs. including Mr Hri Kumar, the MP for the neighbourhood.

They visited hawkers and residents, and Mr Lim launched the Community Engagement Programme to bring Thomson schools and residents closer together through activities like ceramic workshops.

At the dialogue, at least seven people, out of a dozen or so who raised various issues, took to the microphone to express their dismay. They questioned the need for the building, given the area’s many funeral parlours.

‘Are we now turning the estate into a funeral hub?’ asked Dr K. Premarani, secretary of Sin Ming Garden Residents Committee, prompting a burst of laughter.

The Yellow Pages website shows at least five funeral parlours in Sin Ming.

Dr Premarani also said she was disappointed after residents held a round of talks with the Urban Redevelopment Authority recently.

She said they were told the building would look like ‘Disneyland’, with a good-looking facade. It seemed the URA had made up its mind to go ahead with the project, she added.

However, Mr Kumar, who was involved in the discussions between residents and the URA, stressed that a decision had yet to be made.

‘The dialogue is still continuing,’ he told reporters after the session with residents, adding that residents’ feedback will be considered and it is a ‘healthy sign’.

During the discussion with residents, he said as he understands it, there was no ‘Disneyland concept’ but rather, the building would look ‘dignified’.

Mr Kumar also pointed out that a piece of land beside the building at issue will be the site of light industrial development in the future.

These industrial buildings would block the funeral parlour from residents’ view, he said.

Operators of funeral parlours prefer to be located in the central area to be accessible to bereaved families and their friends.

However, residents at the dialogue countered this, saying Sin Ming does not have an MRT station and is therefore not conveniently located.

Responding to their concerns, Mr Lim said the URA does not have a closed mind, and is still taking in feedback.

However, he warned residents to guard against what he called the Nimby - Not In My Back Yard - approach.

He related how a resident had asked the Land Transport Authority for a bus stop near his home, to make travelling more convenient. However, he was quick to add that the bus stop should not be outside his block of flats.

There are therefore many different interests, and these must be considered, Mr Lim added.

‘We have to balance all these things,’ he said, calling it part and parcel of living in a small, complex city like Singapore.

Void deck offices 'worth looking at'

ALLOWING businesses to set up offices at void decks is something the HDB would have to look at, said Minister for Transport Raymond Lim yesterday.

He was replying to a resident who had asked if Singaporeans could set up offices in the HDB heartland in the same way National Kidney Foundation dialysis centres have been developed.

This will help reduce costs for business owners who will then not have to pay higher rental rates in the city, the resident added.

In response, Mr Lim noted that the HDB currently allows certain types of businesses to be operated out of flats.

'This is to address some of these concerns people have', like high costs, he said.

Why Build Flats When So Many Units Unsold?

Source : The Straits Times, Monday, October 8, 2007

Lawrence Ng Wai Chun

I READ with renewed surprise that the HDB will build even more flats (’Govt to boost supply of homes’; ST, Oct 2), even as many blocks in Jurong West remain fenced up and unsold and many individual units in my block and neighbouring blocks remain unsold.

The HDB should be responsible in its building programme as resources should be well used.

Who bears the brunt of these bad decisions in which poor planning led to these unsold flats? Buyers like me who collected my keys more than eight years ago when demand was so high I had to queue. I paid $387,000 for my HDB executive flat.

When I wrote previously to ST Forum about high prices, I was told they were subsidised and based on real cost of construction and so on. Well, guess what. Over the past 12 months, the HDB has sold the same types of flats including some in the same block as mine at about $260,000. Has their value dropped so drastically in eight years? Or does the costing now get some subsidy from elsewhere to allow the flats to be sold so cheaply?

Now, original buyers are unable to sell their second- hand flats, because the HDB is selling ‘new’ ones in the same block at more than $100,000 less than what we paid. The HDB has effectively taken the bottom off the resale market for new home owners who qualify to buy directly from it, leaving a much smaller group of resale buyers who do not meet the guidelines for direct HDB purchase. These buyers are willing to pay a little more but are unwilling to pay a decent price since the HDB set the ‘new’ sale benchmark.