Friday, November 9, 2007

Singapore Still Top Choice Of MNCs For Regional Headquarters

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 November 2007

Singapore continues to be the top choice of multi-national corporations when it comes to locating their regional headquarters.

This is according to a survey by Spire Research and Consulting, which polled manufacturing companies based in the Asia-Pacific region.

But it says Singapore will need to evolve new strategies to maintain its position due to fierce competition.

The study found that more companies are starting to favour China, as well as Hong Kong.

China is also the most favoured manufacturing site of the future, followed by India.

Spire's survey covered more than 100 global companies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Six in ten respondents operate in at least three Asian economies, with nearly a third operating in seven or more. - CNA/ch

Phase 1 Of Singapore's Gardens By The Bay Project At Marina South To Be Completed By 2010.

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 November 2007

Singapore’s transformation from a “Garden City” into a “City in a Garden”, has begun with Friday’s ground breaking works at Marina South for phase one of the Gardens by the Bay project to build three waterfront gardens.

The first of the three Gardens is the 54 hectare Gardens at Marina South which is scheduled to be completed by end-2010, in line with the completion of the Marina Bay Integrated Resort and other developments at Marina Bay.

To commemorate the groundbreaking of the Gardens, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan planted a Golden Rain Tree, a shade tree which will be one of many that will frame the boulevard bordering the East side of the Gardens at Marina South.

One of the key features of the garden designed by UK-based design firm Grant Associates, are the Cool Conservatories which will serve as architectural icons, horticultural attractions, and showcase sustainable energy technology. The two conservatories will apply a combination of the latest cooling technologies, so that the energy consumption for the “Cool Moist” Conservatory and “Cool Dry” Conservatory will be lower than that of a comparable commercial building in Singapore of similar size.

The Gardens by the Bay will also feature Plant Edutainment Gardens, a Flower Market, a Main Events Space and the Horticultural Show Gardens.

The 2.6 hectare Horticultural Show Gardens, will showcase the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry. Together with another 10 hectares of mass flowering and coloured foliage landscape, they will form a spectacle of colour and texture. Among the attractions will be displays focusing on economically important plants in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Another “wow” factor will be the SuperTrees which are tree-like structures that measure between nine and 16 storeys high. This vertical display of tropical flowering climbers, epiphytes and ferns will come alive at night with lighting and projected media while providing shade and shelter in our equatorial climate.

101 hectares of prime land by the water will be taken up by the Gardens by the Bay project which will feature on the western bank of the Marina Barrage, a 32 hectare development called the Gardens at Marina East. This will be the work of UK-based design firm Gustafson Porter and will create a more serene ambience with terraced water gardens that cascade down the Bay’s edge.

There’s been no master plan design awarded for the Gardens at Marina Centre as yet. The 15 hectare site, the smallest of the three plots, has a waterfront promenade stretching 2.8 kilometres.

Gardens BY The Bay Set To Bring In $1b Over Next 10 Years

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 November 2007

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan on Friday unveiled details of a S$900 million plan to turn Marina South into a lush Eden.

Cool Moist Conservatory

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Mr Mah said the Gardens at Marina South is set to be a major tourist attraction, bringing in 2.7 million more visitors each year.

Tourism receipts are also expected to reach some S$1 billion over the next ten years, due to flagship events like the Singapore Garden Festival.

Gardens at Marina South is the first phase of a masterplan to create three of such gardens on prime waterfront land in the heart of the Central Business District, to help place Singapore in the same league as other global cities like New York and London.

Related Video Link -
Gardens by the Bay set to bring in S$1b over next 10 years

Dr Tan Wee Kiat, Advisor to NParks, Project Director of Gardens by the Bay, said: "The other senses will come into play – smell, sound... and we will feature this in garden design, which is not often done in gardens in this part of the world. By nightfall, most of us just leave, but here we want people to stay."

Lion Grove (daytime)

Apart from 'Cooled Conservatories' where flora from cooler climates will be displayed, visitors can also expect to see some 'SuperTrees' – tall skeletal structures on which climbing plants will grow.

The Gardens will also be a showcase of energy-efficient technologies as water from the Bay will be recycled to be used in the park.

The 54-ha development, which is expected to be completed by 2010, will also have space for retail shops and events.

Mr Mah said the world-class city garden will add value to the surrounding real estate, but added that it is not all about numbers.

Overview of Gardens by the Bay site

He said: "I'm sure somebody would come up and say, 'Look, if you had put apartments and offices on this land, you would have created more value!' But is this what we want? Is this what Singapore is all about?"

The two other parks – one at Marina East and the other at Marina Centre – will be built at a later date.

A water-sports area will be built at Marina East, while a park will be incorporated into the Formula One circuit at Marina Centre. - CNA/so

Turbulent Time For Asian Markets Next Year: S&P

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 9, 2007


ASIAN stock markets face a difficult 2008 and could slide sharply, ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) said yesterday, as regional share prices fell heavily.

'Next year will be a more difficult one for stock-market returns and we would not rule out the risk of a sharp correction,' Asia-Pacific equity research head Lorraine Tan said in a statement.

Asian equity markets have reached increasingly risky levels and there will be less scope for them to rise after this year's strong performance, the report added.

'Markets would be jittery over potential negative news, such as on inflation and further deterioration in the US and European economies,' said Ms Tan.

The United States is struggling with a credit crunch and housing market slowdown, after record defaults on sub-prime mortgages extended to homebuyers with riskier credit profiles.

The report said markets in Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand were likely to deliver better relative performances next year, but Japan is set to do less well.

S&P also expects more ratings downgrades for the corporate sector next year due to rising costs and less readily available credit.

Mr Ian Thompson, the firm's chief credit officer for regional ratings services, said casualties were expected, especially outside the financial sector.

'There may be more ratings downgrades than upgrades among Asia-Pacific companies next year'.

That contrasted sharply with the general improvement in credit quality this year, he said in the statement.

S&P expects South-east Asian economies to grow on average by 6.4 per cent next year, with Indonesia and the Philippines seen as bright spots.

M'sia Hopes Pedra Branca Case Will Not Affect Ties With S'pore

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 08 November 2007

Malaysia hopes that the outcome of Pedra Branca case will not affect its bilateral relations with Singapore.

Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Malaysia will leave it to the International Court of Justice to determine which country has the sovereign right to the island.

"We (Malaysia) have assembled a very good team of lawyers in order to present our case and I hope that we will give our best presentation to counter arguments tabled by the Singapore team," he told reporters at the sidelines of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) assembly. - CNA/ac

Introduction Of Landlord Insurance Worth Considering: IEA

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 08 November 2007

With the growing property rental market in Singapore, it may be time to look at more ways to protect the interests of both landlords and tenants.

This was the opinion of some viewers who wrote in after a landlord was interviewed on Get Rea!, a Channel NewsAsia's current affairs programme.

In the Get Rea! episode, "Just Follow The Law", it was a case of a Singaporean landlord living in Australia who had problems with a difficult tenant in Singapore.

Among other things, the tenant refused to let the landlord's property agent arrange for a joint inspection of the premises towards the end of the lease.

So the inspection was carried out at midnight on the last day itself.

The property was left in such a mess that the two months security deposit was forfeited.

The landlord, Sharon de Souza, suggested the introduction of 'landlord insurance' in Singapore, which is something that is being offered in Australia.

She said: "Landlord insurance essentially gives you coverage. They will cover up to A$5,000 of your legal fees if you have to engage a lawyer to get rental back or claim for damages. Also, if you've lost rental income because of a delinquent tenant, the policy - based on what policy type you take - will cover part of your rental."

While insurance companies that were contacted declined to comment, saying they were not familiar with the proposal, the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA) thinks the suggestion is worth considering.

Jeff Foo, President of Institute Of Estate Agents, said: "Landlords buy the insurance to cover themselves against loss of income, damage, malicious damage to their property, theft and perhaps legal fees. But a lot of this will depend on supply and demand because a month's rental will go into paying for the premium of such policies. But it may not be a bad idea."

Ms de Souza had also suggested that property agents be paid their commissions on a staggered, monthly basis, instead of a total sum upfront once the Tenancy Agreement is signed.

However, property agents told Channel NewsAsia that adopting such a system is harder in Singapore.

Vincent Chong of Colliers International explained: "It's because generally, our rental rates are relatively low for the lower end of the market. For instance, if it's a S$2,000 rent and it's spread over 24 months, it's going to be less than S$100 per month for the property agent. But of course, if the rental prices are in the region of S$20,000, it would be possible for agents to accept a kind of staggered commission."

There was also a suggestion on how landlords could deal with difficult tenants, especially when it is a long-distance relationship.

"We suggest to the landlord that they engage a Property Managing Agent to do the day-to-day running of the lease, which includes collection of the rent, maintenance of the air-conditioning," said Mr Chong.

Engaging such a Lease Management Agent could cost you 10 percent of your monthly rental fee, although some property agencies offer it free-of-charge to landlords as a value-added service.

As for the tenants, Low Swee Kim, Vice-President of Institute of Estate Agents, said: "We have a Small Claims Tribunal where tenants or landlords can go to resolve their disputes. They don't need to pay any high legal fees because they don't need to be represented by lawyers. They can go anytime when they have a dispute during the tenancy; they don't have to wait till the end of the tenancy period."

But as in any relationship, sometimes all it takes to close the door on a nasty chapter, is simply by talking it out. - CNA/so

New Technology Could Be Employed To Beef Up Security In IRs

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 08 November 2007

An emerging technology called video analytics could be used to beef up security and surveillance.

Active Alert System surveillance system

Security solutions provider Honeywell, the company behind the active alert system, wants to pitch the idea to Genting International and Las Vegas Sands, operators of the two upcoming integrated resorts in Singapore.

This technology is already used at MGM's newest casino in Detroit, USA.

Major casinos around the world turn to surveillance systems to keep an eye on their business. On average, a large casino could be fitted with over 2,000 security cameras which monitor the gaming environment and game tables.

Honeywell is betting on its new technology to take it a step further.

Using video analytics, its Active Alert System can track and analyse the behaviour of individuals and objects and delivers real-time alarm when something is amiss.

Related Video Link -
New technology could be employed to beef up security in integrated resorts

Said Andrew Jackson, System Sales Manager at Honeywell: "We digitise the signal from the camera. And with advance algorithms, that information is interpreted. When you have thousands of cameras, the operator can only see so many cameras at any one moment in time.

"What we use analytics for is to perform the job of the operator and identify things of interest in the background, and presenting them to the operator to make a decision. That also increases efficiency of the system dramatically."

Hotel Michael, one of the six quality accommodations offered at Resorts World at Sentosa

The system is able to report on over 35 preset events and behaviours, including intrusion detection and even traffic flow measurement. The information gathered can then be used to modify operations for maximised security.

The company said the tool can provide marketing data like which areas are frequented more regularly by the patrons.

It can also help to enhance customer experience by tracking the length of a queue and waiting time, so that staff can open another service counter when the line gets too long.

The time taken to conduct investigations involving multiple cameras will also be shortened. Footage which take a week to review can now be done in mere minutes. - CNA /ls

S'pore Says It Has Exercised Clear Sovereignty Over Pedra Branca

SOurce : Channel NewsAsia, 08 November 2007

THE HAGUE : Singapore hammered home the point of how it consistently carried out activities and maintained public works on Pedra Branca since the 1800s till today.

The island-state argued that this is a clear display of a state authority exercising its sovereignty over the island.

These were the points made by Singapore's International Counsel Rodman Bundy, when he began the third day of hearing on Thursday at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

His points were backed by two other International Counsel representing Singapore, who also spoke on Thursday.

The aim of the three-week hearing at the ICJ is to settle a dispute between Singapore and Malaysia over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca and its outcrops of Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

Mr Bundy said Singapore built facilities like crew quarters at the Horsborough lighthouse, and in 1977 even installed military communications equipment on Pedra Branca.

He said Malaysia never displayed any reaction to all these works being done on the island.

Mr Bundy said, "… the activities that I have discussed were long-standing and continuous, they were undertaken on an open and notorious basis, they were acts of an official nature not private acts, and they went totally unopposed by Malaysia at least until well after Malaysia raised a claim to the island in 1979."

He also cited how in 1974, Malaysian officials actually sought permission from Singapore to visit Pedra Branca to carry out some scientific studies.

Mr Bundy said this attested to Singapore acting in a sovereign capacity for Pedra Branca.

Singapore's government officials such as ministers also made visits to the island without seeking permission to do so because they did not have to. And Malaysia never once protested this.

Mr Bundy added, "The evidence on the record relates to concrete activities on the ground, not woolly and generalised assertions of alleged jurisdiction over undefined areas. They leave no doubt as to which party considered itself to be sovereign over Pedra Branca and acted as such."

Speaking in French, Professor Alain Pellet also cited more evidence to support Mr Bundy's arguments.

He pointed out that Malaysia's non-objection and own actions had in fact showed that they were convinced then that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca.

Professor Alain Pellet said Malaysia also did not react when in 1977, "Singapore installed heavy-duty military communications equipment on the island. This is a superb example of state activity, which required a military helicopter, which could not remained unnoticed, not only at the time of the construction itself, but also after the installation of the relay station, for purposes of its maintenance. This silence is even more significant given the station was built two years before the publication of the 1979 map."

He cited an example in 1980, when Malaysia sent a note to Singapore requesting for approval to lay a power cable between Indonesia and Malaysia in the territorial waters of Singapore. That territorial waters was that of Pedra Branca, he added.

So Singapore has over the course of some 160 years carried out sovereign activities on Pedra Branca confirming its title of the island.

And this is a clear contrast to Malaysia who cannot seem to point to a single act of administration and control over the island.

Malaysia's failure to do so represents a fundamental defect in its case to claim sovereignty over Pedra Branca, argued Miss Loretta Malintoppi, another foreign counsel for Singapore.

Miss Malintoppi said based on all the facts, the conclusion must be that Pedra Branca is and has been subject to the territorial sovereignty of Singapore.

She said, "The fragmented and vague activities that Malaysia adduces to support its claim are so remarkably thin and unpersuasive that they do not rise to the level of effectivites (French word for activities) on Pedra Branca, and cannot, a fortiori, be confirmatory of any title to the island."

In the territorial dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia, the ICJ awarded the Sipidan and Ligitan islands to Malaysia in 2002 on the basis of "effective occupation" displayed by Malaysia predecessor Britain and the absence of any other superior title. So Singapore is using the same arguments to show that Singapore has sovereignty over Pedra Branca.

One of the arguments that had won Malaysia the case was that it had sovereignty over the islands because it had conducted activities there and administered them.

Mr Bundy argued then that this "applies with even greater force in the present case where Singapore has shown both a prior legal title stemming from the activities of Great Britain in the period of 1847-1851, and sovereign acts in confirmation of that title that are far more intensive than the scattered examples" of activities shown by Malaysia in the earlier case.

But Malaysia seems to disagree on this argument by Singapore, prompting Mr Bundy to say that "consistency appears to have its limits for Malaysia when territorial questions are at issue."

Another issue raised in court - Singapore operates and maintains a lighthouse on Pulau Pisang on behalf of Malaysia.

Until 1968, Mr Bundy said Singapore flew her Marine Ensign over the lighthouse on Pulau Pisang. But when Malaysia protested and asked that Singapore lower her flag on the island, she did so, knowing that the island unquestionably belongs to Malaysia.

Mr Bundy said "what is significant is that Malaysia made no similar request concerning the identical ensign that Singapore flew at Pedra Branca. There was not even a hint of a suggestion from Malaysia at the time that Singapore should lower the flag at Pedra Branca as well because the island belonged to Malaysia."

So it goes to show that Malaysia's "inconsistent attitude is that it did not regard itself as possessing sovereignty over Pedra Branca."

On Friday, the three speakers will continue to defend Singapore's ownership of the island and its outcrops.

After that, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Law Minister S. Jayakumar will sum up the first round of the nation's oral presentation.

A panel of 16 judges will deliberate at the close of the hearing, and a decision will be made by a majority vote.

The judgement, which is final and without appeal, will be read out in court. The outcome of this case is expected to be announced in about six to nine months. - CNA/ls/de

Related Video Link -
S'pore says it has exercised clear sovereignty over Pedra Branca

Asia-Pacific Equity Markets Look Attractive Next Year, Says S&P

Source : The Business Times, November 9, 2007

But don't expect the stellar gains seen this year, it warns

(HONG KONG) The strong outlook for Asia-Pacific economies means the region will still be an attractive destination for investors in 2008, but don't expect stock markets to repeat the stellar gains seen this year, Standard & Poors said.

Concerns about the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, rising crude oil and raw material costs, high market valuations and inflation risks, which could limit the scope for any interest rate cut, were all headwinds for regional markets.

'Generally speaking the equity market outlook is again going to be supported by favourable regional economies,' Lorraine Tan, head of Asia-Pacific equity research told a media teleconference.

'The difference for the equity markets is that we've had a very strong year in 2007 in terms of price appreciation. So we would expect it to be much more difficult in 2008. We certainly would not expect the same sort of increase that we saw this year,' she added. MSCI's measure of Asia-Pacific stocks has rallied 39 per cent so far this year, outstripping the 12 per cent gain for global stocks.

Ms Tan said China will remain the key driver for regional markets. 'A lot of liquidity, a lot of growth has been generated by China.'

S&P likes stocks in Hong Kong, including Chinese shares traded in the city, or H shares, South Korea and Thailand, but is neutral on Australia, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is underweight Japan.

'We're underweight Japan. We think the economy there is showing signs of spluttering again,' Ms Tan said. -- Reuters

Property Transactions With Contract Dates Between Oct 15th-20th, 2007

新加坡中峇鲁5座空置组屋 被宿舍公司租下再分租

《联合早报》Nov 8, 2007



建屋局于今年8月公开招标,委派代理负责出租这批三房式和四房式组屋。它昨天发文告宣布竞标结果:加东宿舍(Katong Hostel)以每月23万280元的最高献议价得标。组屋的租期为3年,之后可再续约3年。

加东宿舍发言人受询时说,该发展项目将取名为“Global Residence@Tiong Bahru”,公司计划出资超过300万元拮槲荩锢锿馔飧耐坊幻妗9┏鲎獾淖槲莸ノ唤峙瞥鍪谐。着?0至40个单位预期明年1月完成。

加东宿舍公司主要为学生提供住宿,近年来扩展业务,分别在2004年和2006年增加珍珠山宿舍(Pearl Hill Hostel)和剑桥宿舍( Cambridge Hostel)两个附属项目。公司发言人说:“公司预计学生住宿市场将会持续扩大,因此希望做另一尝试,例如为外籍专业人士提供良好服务公寓住宿。”