Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gardens @ Marina South - Super Sky-Creepers

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 10, 2007

The 18 SuperTrees at the upcoming Gardens at Marina South are the first of their kind in the world

TREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW: Mostly ranging from 25m to 35m tall, the SuperTrees serve not only an aesthetic purpose but will also collect rain water for recycling and tap on solar energy through solar panels. -- PHOTO: GRANT ASSOCIATES, ST PHOTO: ALAN LIM

IMAGINE enjoying a glass of champagne in a bar atop a giant tree, surrounded by lush greenery and with a bird's-eye view of the new Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort and the whirling Singapore Flyer.

The 50m-tall tree atop which you quaff a drop is not actually a real one though, but one of 18 similar structures called SuperTrees, which have been built to resemble trees, complete with flowers entwining a concrete 'trunk'.

That towering vision of the high life is among the plans unveiled yesterday for Gardens at Marina South, the first of three gardens for the Marina Bay waterfront. It spans 54ha and is smaller than the 63ha Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The three gardens, to be built by the National Parks Board (NParks), are intended to add vibrancy to the new financial hub emerging at the bay, adding to its 'live-work-play' concept.

Work on Phase 1 of Gardens at Marina South - covering an initial 30ha to 35ha and due to open in 2010 - began yesterday at a ground-breaking ceremony by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development.

He told reporters after the ceremony that building Gardens at Marina South is expected to cost $900 million.

When the project was awarded last year, initial estimates of the cost for the three gardens were about $300 million to $400 million.

But Mr Mah pointed out yesterday that they are set to be a major tourist attraction, 'with an estimated annual visitorship of 2.7 million, contributing approximately $1billion to the economy over a period of 10 years'.

According to him, they will also add value to the surrounding real estate and will also boost Singapore's standing as a premier garden city.

Gardens at Marina South is the largest of the three gardens. The others are Gardens at Marina East, which will have terraced water gardens, and Gardens at Marina Centre, which does not have a design yet.

British firm Grant Associates won the contract for Gardens at Marina South last year in a contest involving international landscape architects, architects and planners.

In an interview with Life!, Grant Associates director Andrew Grant, 49, painted a picture of the garden that would turn any visitor green with envy - and make a greenie even more so.

HIS GOAL: Mr Andrew Grant, whose Grant Associates thought up the SuperTrees concept, says the firm's goal is to make the garden the most popular space in Singapore.

For example, as well as being an awesome sight, the SuperTrees are also functional, explains Mr Grant, whose firm, established in 1996, is known for its ecological park, Earth Centre, near Doncaster in Britain.

Some will collect rain water, which will be recycled and used in the garden. Others will have solar panels on top to trap sunlight for energy. Others will double as exhaust systems.

As well as the SuperTrees - which will be the first such structures in the world, says Mr Grant - there will be two conservatories: a cool, dry one for plants from the Mediterranean environment and a cool, moist one for tropical highland plants. These would be the largest such conservatories anywhere in the tropics, he adds.

The garden itself will be separated into three general areas. The first will have a 'plant and people' theme, exploring the cultural association of plants.

The plants will be split into four 'rooms' to reflect Singapore's multi-racial background. For example, one 'room' could have herbal plants that are used in traditional Chinese medicine, and another might have a coconut tree to reflect its Malay heritage, he says.

On another side of the garden will be a 'plant and planet' area that highlights the significant role of plants. A new rainforest will be created here and will include endangered species of plants found in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Between the two areas is what Mr Grant calls the central spine, where most of the SuperTrees are and where nature and technology meet.

Ah yes, those SuperTrees. Only one will be as high as 50m, and at this early stage, the idea of a bar atop it is only a possibility. The rest of the 18 will be about 25m to 35m tall.

Each consists of a concrete core surrounded by a net-like skin made of steel, where tropical ferns, orchids, climbers and bromeliads will grow, creating a 'trunk'.

Mr Grant says: 'I wanted to create something that will have a 'wow' factor. At night, they can be used as landmark structures when they are lit.'

At their height, these trees will be taller than real ones. Two of the SuperTrees will be connected by a walkway 20m to 25m above ground that visitors could take a stroll on.

As for the conservatories, more awe is in store there, too.

Their designer, architect Paul Baker of Wilkinson Erye Architect, says they will allow plants that are not usually seen in Singapore to be planted.

PROVIDING SHADE: 'Ribs' on the exterior of the conservatories(Above), which are designed by architect Paul Baker (Next)will provide shade and regulate the amount of heat entering the structures. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH

The 1.4ha cool, dry conservatory will contain an astonishing range of plants and flowers commonly found in the Mediterranean and semi-arid sub-tropical regions, such as rosemary, lavender, roses and proteas. It will also have a large central space in which a display of flowers will change every four to six weeks.

Dr Tan Wee Kiat, NParks' project director and adviser, says this conservatory will allow spring flowers to be grown in Singapore's tropical climate.

The 0.9ha cool, moist conservatory will have a tropical highland environment, with a rainforest inside and a lattice covered with orchids and mosses. It will also boast a 35m waterfall.

Mr Baker, 48, says both conservatories will have 'ribs' on their exterior that provide shade and control the heat entering them.

The temperatures in both conservatories will be kept at 23 degC in the day. 'It will always be at a comfortable temperature for visitors, regardless of whether it is sunny or raining outside,' says Mr Baker. This is his first project in Singapore.

At night, the temperatures will drop to 10 to 13 degC. 'The plants need a cooler environment to flower,' says Mr Grant.

Mr Mah says the conservatories are expected to cost $300 million to build, and to recover the cost of building and maintenance, visitors are likely to pay a fee to enter.

He adds that the conservatories will be built to be energy-efficient, and will consume less energy than an equivalent air-conditioned office building.

Mr Grant says the garden is his firm's most significant project to date, and the goal is to make it the most popular open space in Singapore. Grant Associates beat 170 firms from 24 countries to land the project, and was chosen for its vibrant and colourful concept.

Indeed the garden will be one of many hues. Mr Grant says there will be colourful shrubs planted around the garden, and especially in the conservatories. He will also be introducing new species of plants that have yet to be seen in Singapore. 'There will be thousands of species in the garden,' he says.

An existing lake will also be expanded, with a timber walkway surrounding it.

The garden will be more than a place for green lovers. In the works are also food-and-beverage outlets along the waterfront.

Mr Mah told reporters that work on the Gardens at Marina East and Marina Centre will start only after 2010.

As for Gardens at Marina South and its tree-mendous towers, Mr Grant says: 'I hope visitors go 'cor blimey' or the Singapore equivalent when they see it.'

Bay In Bloom

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 10, 2007

A guide on what to expect at the upcoming Marina Bay gardens

COOLING OFFERINGS: The cool, moist conservatory will house a rainforest and a lattice covered with orchids and mosses. -- PHOTO: GRANT ASSOCIATES

# Gardens at Marina South

THE largest of the three gardens, this 54ha garden is located next to the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort. It is designed by Britain-based design firm Grant Associates and highlights include its 18 SuperTrees and two conservatories - one will be dry, the other moist.

# Gardens at Marina East

LOCATED on the western bank of the Marina Barrage, this 32ha garden by Britain-based design firm Gustafson Porter will have a more serene ambience with terraced water gardens. Work on the garden will start after Gardens at Marina South is completed.

# Gardens at Marina Centre

AT 15ha, this is the smallest of the three gardens. Its 2.8km waterfront promenade starts near the Esplanade - Theatres by the Bay and winds towards Kallang Basin. Its design will be firmed up at a later date.

Hugo Boss Leads The Way With IR Boutique

Source : The Business Times, November 7, 2007

LUXURY brand Hugo Boss will set up a 2,000 square feet boutique in the upcoming Marina Bay Sands integrated resort (IR) - the first luxury brand to confirm taking space there - as it seeks to grow its sales in Singapore by as much as 50 per cent over the next three years.

'I see a potential upside for growth of about 50 per cent over the next few years, especially with the new stores,' said Hugo Boss chief executive Bruno Salzer. 'We will definitely have a presence in the two casinos.'

In addition to the Marina Bay Sands boutique and the one targeted for Genting's Sentosa IR, Hugo Boss is also keen to have a presence in upcoming Orchard Road mall Ion Orchard, said Brian Ang, managing director for the Hugo Boss franchise in Singapore and Bangkok. 'It is important for us to be in Ion Orchard,' he said. 'Most probably we will be somewhere prominent in the mall.'

Hugo Boss recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in Singapore, for which Dr Salzer flew into town. The upcoming boutiques in Singapore are part of Hugo Boss's push to expand in the region at a fast clip.

The label has about 170 stores in Asia (excluding Japan) at present, but Dr Salzer wants to grow the number by about 15-20 stores yearly over the next few years, he said. 'Asia now contributes about 10-11 per cent of total sales, and I expect double-digit growth over the next couple of years,' said Dr Salzer.

Within the region, Japan and China are the biggest markets for the group. Of the 15-20 new stores the brand aims to add each year, the bulk are likely to be in China, he said. But Dr Salzer is also excited about the potential for growth in Singapore, especially with the new stores coming up.

Mr Ang said that in addition to the planned new stores, Hugo Boss is looking at revamping its existing boutiques.

Right now, the brand's flagship boutiques in Ngee Ann City are split across two levels. But by the end of next year, the brand hopes to have its space all on one floor, - with a 7,000 sq ft floor plate - Mr Ang said. He did not specify if the boutique will be in Ngee Ann City as well. In addition, there are also plans to revamp Hugo Boss's 1,600 sq ft store in Paragon. Mr Ang is looking at taking up more space. The brand also has a boutique at Changi Airport.

The Boss boutique in Marina Bay IR will be 'more luxurious' and will be designed to appeal to high-rollers, Mr Ang said.

Foreign Companies Still Keen On Commercial Property In CBD

Nov 10, 2007

This year is a year which witnessed a lot of buying activities of commercial buildings in the Central Business District (CBD) by foreign companies.

Goldman Sachs real estate fund

In August, a Goldman Sachs real estate fund acquired Chevron House at Raffles Place for $730 million or a record $2,780 psf of NLA. Chevron House is a leasehold 99-year project.

The same group is also believed to be laying its hands on the next door Hitachi Tower for about $3,000 psf. The 37-storey office tower facing Collyer Quay is on a 999-year leasehold tenure.

In November 2006, it paid $690 million for two buildings that house the headquarters of DBS Group Holdings.

Macquarie Global Property Advisors (MGPA)

The other major overseas investor who has been busy acquiring commercial property here is Macquarie Global Property Advisors (MGPA). In September, it paid $2.02 billion or $1,409 psf ppr for a mixed development site within the Marina Bay area just behind One Shenton in a Government Land Sale Programme.

The winning bid is a record for a 99-year leasehold commercial site slated primarily for office development.

Earlier in March, an MGPA fund bought Temasek Tower in the Anson Road area for $1.04 billion or $1,550 psf of NLA.

Later, MGPA sold 12 floors at the neighbouring Springleaf Tower for $225 million to a unit of German pension fund manager SEB, making a neat profit as it had bought the floors for only $134 million in January.

SEB also bought SIA Building in April for about $526 million or $1,783 psf from TSO Investment, a fully-owned subsidiary of a property fund managed by CLSA Capital Partners. TSO had purchased the office block from Singapore Airlines in June 2006.

CLSA Capital Partners

CLSA Capital Partners, a global private-equity investor, has equity of $430 million in its Asian operation and can borrow three times that to fund purchases. Unlike local Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) which are restricted by MAS’ strict borrowing rules (maximum 60% of asset value) and the time it takes to get shareholder approval to raise funds.

In June 2006, CLSA Capital Partners’ subsidiary TSO Investment bought SIA Building at Robinson Road for around $260 million.

In April 2007, it resold the national airline’s former Headquarters to a German pension fund manager SEB for around $525 million or about $1,780 psf of net lettable area.

This is a new record price for an office building in Raffles Place and Shenton Way areas.

Built in 1997, SIA Building is 35-storey tall and has a total net lettable area of about 295,000 sq ft. It comprises 31 levels of office space, some retail space and parking facilities. It has a leasehold status and still has a remaining lease of 86 years.

Experts Sanguine About Real Estate In Singapore

Nov 10, 2007

“To buy or not to buy?” This intriguing question has attracted a full-house turnout
of about 170 investors at a dinner hosted by financial advisory firm ipac.

While there may be some concerns about the withdrawal of deferred payment scheme for uncompleted projects, the good news is that none in the panel of experts at the evening event foresee a property bubble.

The surprise move by the government to withdraw the popular deferred payment scheme, the rocket fuel for the recent property bull-run has cast a cloud over residential property's upward price trend.

Here is a list of the panel’s observation
Positive factors

The economic fundamentals unpinning the recent property bull-run are growth in employment, strong wage rise and increase in personal spending power. The evidence is in the strong take up rate of mass market properties. If there is a property bubble, it is in the early stages.

With employment booming, wages soaring and the real mortgage rate at its lowest level since 1990, the outlook still looks very promising.

The cost of servicing mortgage debt is at just about 14% of household income, compared to 50% in mature markets like London. The healthy gauge for such a ratio is around 40% for borrowers in developed countries.

Property values are still lagging behind the levels of the 1996 boom. When adjusted for the growth in incomes, the private residential property price index is actually only more than half of what it was in 1996.

The price gap between new and resale homes in the prime districts has widened sharply in 2007, reaching a peak of 60%, against a medium to long-term premium gap of 32% to 38%. This has been caused by the old deferred payment scheme which tended to inflate prices a little.

Prices in the resale market tend to reflect genuine demand better as there is no deferred payment scheme to help buyer tide over the initial period. So, when a purchaser does not have sufficient cash or could not qualify for a bank loan, he simply cannot buy.

With prices soaring in the prime areas, rentals in that segment have edged below the 10-year Singapore bond yield.

With the elimination of a speculative element, i.e. the old deferred payment scheme, prices of new homes will take a breather in the near term of next two to three years. In addition, the higher supply of new stocks in the next two to three years will no doubt soften the price; but, a sharp correction is not likely.

However, it does not mean that investors should altogether exit the real estate investment. In fact, property's ability to help diversify a portfolio is unrivalled by other investments such as stocks and bonds.

For example, property provided a positive hedge against inflation between 1992 and 2007, a period in which stocks and bonds did not provide such a hedge.

While all types of property offered a more-than perfect hedge against inflation, the best hedge was that offered by detached housing, followed by semi-detached homes.

Concerns ahead
(i) Price gap widening

The price gap between new uncompleted homes and resale homes should narrow from now on with general prices easing. In the last one-and-a-half year, price hike was around 20% or more that was way above the country’s GDP growth. In the near time, price rise should be within 10% in line with nominal GDP.

(ii) Yield may be falling

In other words, retail investors going for yield should not risk their nest-egg if their portfolio is not huge enough. For better yield, investing in a global property fund or a local Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is better.

Forecast ahead

While sentiment will be weakened by the negative news originating from the US in the short term, property prices especially residential properties are supported by strong fundamentals such as high wage increases and the inherent constraint in physical supply of real estate.

However, Asia as a whole will be better off over the medium-term. Asian property prices were not high relative to per-capita income, and advances have been modest compared to those in the UK, the US and Australia. The drivers include low real interest rates and positive demographics.

Rental rates for residential units will continue to climb on the back of the relative net increase in housing stock due to low completion and relatively high demolition due to en bloc sale. The rise in rental rates will likely continue to support further price appreciation.

In the nutshell, where Singapore as an economic unit is heading will decide the direction of real estate investment. At the end of the day, it is whether Singaporeans will be able to keep their jobs or businesses and will their salaries/profits increase.

Estate Agents' Group Objects To New Regulatory Scheme

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 10, 2007

CONSUMERS looking forward to greater regulation in the real estate industry might have to wait a bit longer, as the process has just hit a snag.

A group of property agencies is questioning a move by the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA) to launch a 'practising certificate' for its members, as there is already an accreditation scheme in place.

Launching the certificate back in September, IEA president Jeff Foo said it aimed to boost agents' credibility and give homebuyers more confidence in their professionalism.

This was supported by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), which called for more regulation in an industry facing a rising number of complaints against agents amid the property boom.

IEA, representing about 1,000 agents, said its members were bound to adhere to the organisation's strict guidelines and code of conduct.

But a separate group of agencies representing about 10,000 agents, including Knight Frank, HSR Group, DTZ Debenham Tie Leung and Global Real Estate, issued a statement yesterday that they were 'most concerned about the state of affairs' over the certificate. They have called a press conference today.

The Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies (SAEA) scheme, launched in November 2005 by IEA and the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV), seeks to raise the industry's level of professionalism.

Agents have to pass a professional test and are held to a code of conduct. Agencies were meant to have all their agents accredited by next year.

When contacted, Dr Tan Tee Khoon, director of KF Property Network, Knight Frank's agency division, told The Straits Times that IEA's efforts were commendable, but questioned the certificate's wording, which states that an agent is 'hereby authorised to practise as a real estate agent in Singapore'.

'This has a ring of legality to it, and will confuse the public. The industry should stand together and support one same scheme,' he said.

The chairman of SAEA's accreditation board, Dr Lim Lan Yuan, told The Straits Times that IEA's latest move ran 'counter' to SAEA which IEA had co-launched.

It gives the wrong impression to the public that IEA is issuing licences, he said.

Dr Lim, who is also president of valuation and general practice at SISV, said more than 7,000 agents - out of an industry of about 30,000 - are now accredited under SAEA.

Mr Foo countered that IEA was moving towards self-regulation, and was entitled to issue certificates to its members, who would have to pass tests on property-related matters such as financing, law and codes of conduct.

PropNex chief Mohamad Ismail, who is IEA's vice-president, added that no authority has made either test compulsory in order to practise.

'We will be supportive of any licensing authority, or any scheme, that the Government mandates.'

HK Property Sector Set To Grow Up To 30% In Next 12 Months

Source : The Business Times, November 10, 2007

Flow of cash into city and cheaper financing options fuelling growth

HONG Kong's property market is tipped to see growth of up to 30 per cent over the next 12 months amid a flow of hot money into the city and a favourable interest rate environment.

Looking up: A rise in real estate prices will narrow the gap between the luxury sector, which has been powering ahead over the past few years, and the lagging mass residential sector

This week saw HSBC cut its prime lending rate by a further 25 basis points to 7 per cent, following a rate cut only last week on the heels of one in the US. Other banks are expected to follow suit, fuelling a mortgage war among banks in the city.

As well as cheaper financing options for home buyers, the property sector is benefiting from a flow of cash into Hong Kong, in part due to an expectation that China will soon relax restrictions on capital inflows into the city.

This is expected to bring significant gains to Hong Kong's stock market, which has already risen 55 per cent over the past two months in anticipation of fresh fund flows by mainland investors.

This week, Standard & Poor's Equity Research outlined its bullish outlook on the residential property sector, reflecting what it sees as a return of confidence to the sector.

It cited recent record prices for luxury apartments, increased volume in residential transactions and the higher than expected bids for government land at auctions as indicators of confidence among developers and buyers.

The research arm of S&P said it expects a rise of 20 per cent to 25 per cent in the prices of residential properties over the next 12 months, as prices in large and small residential units remain well below 1997 prices.

But Colliers International director Ricky Poon believes property prices could increase by as much as 30 per cent. 'The market is very different from 1997,' he said. 'There's not too many people speculating.

'Also, some people have been playing the stock market and have come out - and are investing in the property market.'

He said he had recently revised upwards projections of a 15-20 per cent rise over the next 12 months.

This would narrow the gap between the luxury sector, which has been powering ahead over the past few years, and the mass residential sector, which had been lagging.

'The luxury sector has been going up a lot over the past two years,' Mr Poon said. 'It has even gone up by 10 per cent just in the past few weeks.

'Now I think the market is moving to the mass residential sector - so the gap will be narrowing.'

Adding to the 'feel good' factor in the property sector were figures this week from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority on the number of residential mortgage loans in negative equity - where the property is worth less than the sum owing.

The number of these mortgages fell by about 1,200 cases to 3,500 cases in the three months to the end of September. They had an aggregate value of HK$6 billion (S$1.1 billion).

It represents a 97 per cent drop from the peak of the negative equity phenomenon which was in June 2003, just as Hong Kong was recovering from the Sars outbreak and an endemic slump in property values since 1997.

Alexandra Housing Plot Up For Tender Soon

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 10, 2007

A DEVELOPER has agreed to pay at least $220.7 million for a residential site on Alexandra Road, in what is seen by some observers as a bullish move in light of recent property market caution.

This has triggered a tender for the 0.86ha plot, on which 360 to 400 homes can be built. It is a short walk from Redhill MRT station and the upcoming Metropolitan condominium.

The 99-year leasehold site has a maximum gross floor area of 451,428 sq ft and can hold a condominium of up to about 40 storeys high.

Under the reserve list system, a plot is put up for tender by the Government when a developer commits to bidding an acceptable minimum price.

In this case, the minimum bid price works out to about $448 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr), considered a bullish bid by some analysts in view of the caution among developers, after the Government scrapped the deferred payment scheme recently.

Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy, Mr Nicholas Mak, said the trigger price was 'quite aggressive'.

He estimated that the eventual winning bid for the plot would end up in the range of $500 to $600 psf ppr. This will push selling prices of condo units there to between $1,000 psf and $1,050 psf.

The regional director and head of investments at Jones Lang LaSalle, Mr Lui Seng Fatt, expects an even higher winning bid of $650 to $800 psf ppr, which will work out to between $300 million and $380 million.

Meanwhile, the Urban Redevelopment Authority has awarded a 0.3ha residential plot in Enggor Street to Far East Organization's Bishan Properties at a price of $233.8 million, or $852 psf ppr.

The tender, which closed on Nov 1, attracted only two bids. Far East is reportedly expected to build about 200 apartments at the location.

Successful Application For Alexandra Rd Condo Site

Source : The Business Times, November 10, 2007

Developer agrees to bid not less than $220.7m for the 99-yr leasehold plot

DEVELOPERS continue to trigger the release of sites from the Government Land Sales programme's reserve list.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday announced a successful application for a 99-year leasehold condo site on Alexandra Road near Redhill MRT Station and next to CapitaLand's Metropolitan project.

The developer who made the application - who was not identified - has agreed to bid not less than $220.7 million, or $489 per square foot (psf) of potential gross floor area.

The site will be launched for tender in about two weeks.

The 92,127-sq-ft plot can be developed into a new condo with about 400 units averaging 1,200 sq ft.

'My take is that the site could fetch a premium of within 10 per cent of the reserve price,' said CB Richard Ellis executive director Joseph Tan.

'Even at the reserve price, the breakeven cost for a new condo would be close to the $850 psf average price at which units of The Metropolitan condo have been selling in recent months.'

A 10 per cent premium to the site's $489 psf per plot ratio (ppr) reserve price works out to $540 psf ppr.

Savills Singapore's director of marketing and business development Ku Swee Yong estimates the site will fetch $550-$600 psf ppr, reflecting a breakeven cost of $850-$900 psf.

He reckons a condo on it could command about $1,000 psf on average if launched in 12-15 months.

'This is one of the better sites on the reserve list, near an MRT Station and on the fringe of the CBD,' he said.

'It should attract five to eight bids. We're not going to see the one to two bids that some Government Land Sale sites have been attracting lately,' he added.

CBRE's Mr Tan predicts at least five or six bids.

'This is in a sector of the market that lacks supply and developers will be keen to bid for it,' he said.

Market watchers believe a new condo near Redhill MRT Station should be able to tap demand from HDB upgraders given the high value of HDB resale flats in the area.

So far this year, 10 reserve-list sites on the Ministry of National Development's slate of private residential, commercial and hotel sites have been triggered for launch.

Separately, URA yesterday awarded a residential site at Enggor Street behind Icon to Far East Organization unit Bishan Properties.

The company was the higher of two bidders the 99-year leasehold plot attracted at a tender that closed on Nov 1.

Its bid of $233.8 million or $851.66 psf ppr was 55 per cent higher than the only other offer of $150.98 million or about $550 psf per plot ratio by Guoco-Land.

A tender for the residential site next door closes on Nov 15.

HPL Remark On Horizon Towers Decision 'Not Fair'

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 10, 2007

A LAWYER for a group of minority owners opposed to the collective sale of Horizon Towers yesterday said that comments made by developer Hotel Properties (HPL) on the proceedings were not fair.

HPL had commented on the possibility of the tribunal decision coming too late.

The consenting and minority owners of Horizon Towers are now battling it out at the Strata Titles Board (STB).

HPL and its two partners have been trying to buy Horizon Towers en bloc for $500 million, a price they inked in January this year.

On Wednesday, the third day of the resumed STB hearing, tribunal chairman Philip Chan said the board was under no legal obligation to rule on whether to approve the collective sale on or before Dec 11 - the sale completion date.

HPL group executive director Christopher Lim then commented to the media that the firm was surprised that the tribunal took the view that it had no duty to make a ruling before Dec 11, as that may 'potentially scuttle' the deal.

Senior counsel K.S. Rajah of Harry Elias Partnership told the board yesterday that Mr Lim, an interested party, was not qualified to comment on the board's decision when it is proceeding and ongoing.

He said the comment should be referred to the Attorney-General's Chambers.

Anyone who seeks to 'muddy the waters' must be told to lay off or face the consequences, he said.

At yesterday's hearing, sale committee member Henry Lim was cross-examined. He was asked questions that included whether sale committee chairman Arjun Samtani had disclosed his purchase of a second unit at Horizon Towers last March.

Horizon Towers Hearing - HPL Director's Words Were In Contempt Of Court: Owners' Lawyers

Source : The Business Times, November 10, 2007

Christopher Lim's comment could imply buyers going ahead with $1b suit

Lawyers for both the majority and minority owners of Horizon Towers have objected to recent comments made by Hotel Properties (HPL) group executive director Christopher Lim, and have accused him of being in contempt of court.

On Thursday, BT reported Mr Lim as saying that he was 'concerned about' the Strata Title Board's (STB) view that it had no duty to make a ruling on the collective sale of Horizon Towers before the Dec 11 sale completion deadline. He said that such a stance could 'potentially scuttle' the deal.

The STB tribunal had taken this view on Wednesday, after both sets of owners agreed that the board did not have a legal obligation to make a decision by Dec 11.

This prompted Mr Lim to announce that the buyers, HPL and its partners, were 'reviewing our position'. While he did not elaborate, BT understands that this could mean that the buyers will proceed with the $1 billion lawsuit they had earlier filed against the majority owners for breach of the sale and purchase agreement.

Lawyers for both sets of owners yesterday spoke out against the comment. KS Rajah of Harry Elias Partnership, which represents one group of minority owners, said that it was inappropriate for Mr Lim to comment on ongoing legal proceedings. He said that it was contempt that should be referred to the Attorney-General's chambers.

'Anybody who seeks to muddy the waters must be told to lay off or you will face the consequences,' Mr Rajah said. The STB tribunal's chairman Philip Chan said that the board would deliberate on the matter.

News of the potential lawsuit also distressed a number of the majority owners of Horizon Towers. Sales committee chairman Lim Seng Hoo however sought to reassure the owners that they were not in breach of the sale and purchase agreement as the committee was continuing 'to prosecute the present STB hearings expeditiously'.

He also said that their submission to the tribunal on whether it had a legal obligation to rule on or before Dec 11 merely explained that 'timelines agreed to between the parties to a sale and purchase agreement do not impose legal obligations upon the board'.

The drama continued in the hearing before the STB, as a new witness - former sales committee member Henry Lim - took the stand.

Philip Fong of Harry Elias fired off a series of questions to Mr Lim, asking him if the sales committee recognised that allowing its sales agent, Alvin Er, to take his commission from the buyer posed a conflict of interest for Mr Er, as that may have stopped him from trying harder to find a better price for Horizon Towers after getting an offer from HPL that met the sellers' minimum reserve price. Mr Lim did not answer the question, only saying that he had 'no comment'.

Senior Counsel Michael Hwang, who represents another minority owner, asked Mr Lim why the sales committee did not consider other expressions of interest - there were at least four other parties which had indicated that they were prepared to pay a higher price than HPL.

Mr Hwang cited the example of an unnamed Hong Kong developer who had offered $510 million - above HPL's offer of $500 million - for Horizon Towers. Mr Lim said that he had attempted to contact the developer but had failed to get in touch.

And it was during a tough session with a third counsel for the minorities, Kannan Ramesh of Tan Kok Quan Partnership, that Mr Lim revealed that he had been frustrated with the short amount of time the sales committee had unwittingly imposed on itself to consider HPL's offer. He said that he felt that they could have succeeded in getting better offers if they had more time to do so.

After intense questioning, Mr Lim admitted that three of the nine former sales committee members, including himself, were not satisfied with HPL's offer and had expressed their reservations about it.

Mr Lim also testified that the sales committee had rushed into the deal - and had failed to consult the majority owners before accepting HPL's offer. He said that the sales committee feared that it would be sued by the majority owners if it had taken too long to revert to HPL and had lost the offer as a result. But he also admitted that the 'prudent safe option' for the sales committee would have been to consult the owners - except that their lawyers, Drew & Napier, had advised them otherwise.

Mr Lim was clearly uncomfortable with the unrelenting scrutiny, choosing to answer most of the questions posed to him with either 'no comment' or 'I can't recall'.

Gardens To Do A Garden City Proud

Source : The Business Times, November 10, 2007

Marina South phase to cost $900m, entire project could draw 2.7m visitors a year

The Gardens by the Bay project - comprising three themed gardens at Marina South, Marina East and Marina Centre - is expected to draw 2.7 million visitors a year and contribute around $1 billion of tourism receipts over 10 years.

Gardens by the Bay will be a national garden set in the heart of Singapore on prime waterfront land. It will offer a compelling leisure experience for Singaporeans and visitors alike, and add value to the surrounding real estate.

But the 101 hectare project will not come cheap. The first phase - the 54-ha Gardens at Marina South, slated for completion by end-2010 - will cost $900 million. Development of the 32-ha Marina East and 15-ha Marina Centre gardens will take place later.

Highlighting the intangible value of the gardens, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said that their worth cannot be measured in dollars and cents alone.

'Gardens by the Bay will be a national garden set in the heart of Singapore on prime waterfront land,' he said in his speech at the ground-breaking ceremony yesterday morning. 'Gardens by the Bay will offer a compelling leisure experience for Singaporeans and visitors alike. It will add value to the surrounding real estate.'

According to Mr Mah, the Gardens will boost Singapore's international standing and differentiate it from other emerging cities.

Gardens at Marina South will boast two cool conservatories - a 1.4 ha 'cool dry' conservatory and a 0.9 ha 'cool moist' one - that will exhibit flowers and plants from the Tropical Montane and Mediterranean environments.

The National Parks Board (NParks) is looking into sustainable energy and water technology for the gardens. A commissioned study showed that cooling technology can cut energy consumption for each conservatory to less than that of a comparable commercial building in Singapore of similar size.

NParks adviser and project director for Gardens by the Bay, Tan Wee Kiat, said: 'Singapore is a garden city of perpetual summer. We are bringing spring into the picture. On top of that, the challenge to our staff is to use as many species of plants that are seldom seen in our other parks. Not only that, we want to use them in very creative ways.'

Visitors can also look forward to horticultural show gardens, 'edu-tainment' gardens, a flower market, a space for events and SuperTrees.

SuperTrees are steel structures 25 to 50 metres high that will act as vertical gardens. They will feature tropical flowering climbers, epiphytes and ferns, as well as a canopy to provide shade. At night, the canopies will feature lighting and projected media.

'The most exciting part is this is the most precious part of modern Singapore,' said Dr Tan. 'If you're very pragmatic, that is sold to the highest bidder. Yet this piece of territory belongs to everybody in Singapore.'

Suburban Malls Go For Smarter Look To Seek Fatter Rents

Source : The Business Times, November 10, 2007

Renovation work at 14 malls to keep downtown threat at bay

Suburban malls across Singapore are getting multimillion-dollar facelifts in a bid to improve their bottom lines. They hope to attract more visitors in a competitive retail environment and collect higher rents from their tenants.

Data compiled by BT shows that at least 14 suburban malls have either undergone renovation and repositioning exercises over the past year, are doing so now or plan to do so in the future.

Work on these malls is estimated to cost their various owners close to $500 million in all.

Market watchers said that with Singapore's main shopping belt Orchard Road all set to get three new malls in a few years' time, suburban malls have to try to differentiate themselves and become attractive alternatives to heading into town.

Experts also said that upgrading works are necessary before increasing rents at these malls, as they are away from Singapore's key shopping belts.

'Suburban malls will continue to play a key role in the local retail scene as they will continue to remain distinct from the downtown malls in the Orchard Road and Marina Bay areas,' said Stephanie Ho, assistant general manager of AsiaMalls Management, which manages five malls in Singapore.

For example, AsiaMalls' Pasir Ris mall, White Sands shopping centre, recently underwent a $25 million rebranding and expansion exercise, and is now positioning itself as an 'active lifestyle' mall.

AsiaMalls hopes that White Sands will cater to holiday-makers staying at chalets and families frequenting entertainment attractions in Pasir Ris and the East Coast areas - in addition to Pasir Ris residents.

Elsewhere, AsiaMalls' Hougang Mall is also now touted as 'a mall for the whole family' after a $13.5 million revamp.

The company is also in the process of improving Tiong Bahru Plaza and Century Square.

Other mall operators with suburban malls in their portfolio are going down the same route. Frasers Centrepoint Trust (FCT) will reopen Anchorpoint as a 'village mall' once its $12 million repositioning exercise is completed by end-November.

'It (Anchorpoint) was a little bit dated and its positioning was wrong,' Christopher Tang, chief executive of FCT's manager, said recently. 'We decided to reposition it in May.'

In addition to enhanced food & beverage offerings, Anchorpoint will also offer factory outlets, he said.

Next up is Northpoint, which will undergo a $30 million asset enhancement exercise starting from the first quarter of 2008.

FCT also has similar plans for Causeway Point in Woodlands further down the road, said Mr Tang.

FCT's parent company, Frasers Centrepoint, also hopes to start work on one of the malls in its portfolio - Valley Point - by the end of 2008. Rival trust CapitaMall Trust is not to be outdone; the trust will spend some $338 million in all for asset enhancement works at five of its malls - Lot 1 Shoppers' Mall, IMM Building, Tampines Mall, Sembawang Shopping Centre and Jurong Entertainment Centre.

Elsewhere, Jurong Point is adding a new extension which will be ready in about a year's time.

Managers of malls where revamp works have been completed report increased foot traffic and better rents.

At White Sands, average monthly footfall increased by 33 per cent post-revamp to 800,000, while at Hougang Mall, monthly shopper traffic has increased from an average of 870,000 in 2005 to 1.2 million in 2007, AsiaMalls.

And with Anchorpoint's repositioning exercise, rental rates have gone up about 40 per cent, said FCT's Mr Tang.

Hillview Regency

Hillview Regency is the latest and one of most luxurious condominium in Bukit Batok. With Bukit Batok Nature Reserve at your door step, West Mall Shopping Centre and Bukit Batok MRT Station just around the corner, 5 minutes drive to Pan Island Expressway (PIE) and Upper Bukit Timah Road and within the prestigious "Hillview Condo" Belt, it is one the most accessible and convenient condominium.

Units sizes at Hillview Regency range from 904 to 1152 sq ft for 2 room and 2 + Study + Balcony , and 1109 to 1195 sq ft for the 3 room and 3 + study. It's excellent facilities includes a split level lobby with gymnasium and function rooms, 6 pools, 4 tennis courts, golf driving range and putting green.

Address : 26 Bukit Batok East Avenue 2/ Hillview Avenue
District : 23
Tenure : 99 Years from 20/6/2000
Year of Completion : 2005
No. of units : 572
Developer : Hillview Regency Pte Ltd (Far East)

Units sizes:
2 bedrooms: 84 - 104 sq m (904 - 1119 sqft)
3 bedrooms: 103 - 117 sq m (1109 - 1259 sqft)

Selling Points :-
# Near Bukit Batok MRT Station & Bus Interchange
# Complimentary Shuttle Bus Services Between Hillview Regency & Bukit Batok MRT Station (Terms & Conditions Apply)
# Breathtaking views of Little Guilin, Bukit Batok Town Park and Bukit Batok Nature Park
# Proximity to amenities and prestigious schools
# 6 pools, 4 tennis courts, golf range and putting green, gymnasium and more!
# No restriction to foreigners

-Bukit Batok MRT Station (NS2)
10,Bukit Batok Central Singapore 659958
How Far? 1.04 km

-Bukit Gombak MRT Station (NS3)
802,Bukit Batok West Avenue 5 Singapore 659083
How Far? 1.05 km

-West Mall
1,Bukit Batok Central Link Singapore 658713
How Far? 1.07 km

-Rail Mall
384,Upper Bukit Timah Road Singapore 678042
How Far? 1.19 km

-Hillview Avenue Block 15 Market
15 Hillview Avenue Singapore 661015
How Far? 1.41 km

-Hillview Avenue Block 16 Food Centre
16 Hillview Avenue Singapore 660016
How Far? 1.43 km

-Bukit Batok Market
154A Bukit Batok West Avenue 8 Singapore 651154
How Far? 1.73 k

-Bukit Timah Market Hawker Centre
116 Upper Bukit Timah Road Singapore 588172
How Far? 2.33 km

-Bukit Timah Market Hawker Centre
116A Upper Bukit Timah Road Singapore 588172
How Far? 2.33 km

-Lianhua Primary School
2 Bukit Batok Street 52 Singapore 659243
How Far? 0.51 km

-Hillgrove Secondary School
10 Bukit Batok Street 52 Singapore 659250
How Far? 0.64 km

-ITE College West (Bukit Batok Campus)
20 Bukit Batok Street 21 Singapore 659635
How Far? 0.79 km

-Keming Primary School
90 Bukit Batok East Avenue 6 Singapore 659762
How Far? 0.81 km

-Bukit View Primary School
18 Bukit Batok Street 21 Singapore 659634
How Far? 0.91 km

-Swimming Pool
-Wading Pool
-Tennis Court
-Fitness Track
-Children's Playground
-BBQ Area
-Putting Green
-24 Hours Security

Phoenix Still Can't Rise Yet

Source : Weekend TODAY, November 10, 2007

Appeal quashed but en-bloc dissenters may not stop there

AT least one owner faces the threat of bankruptcy, while others are staring at rising penalties for failing to redeem housing loans for their next properties.

They are among the owners of 46 units at Phoenix Court, and their woes may not be at an end, even though a High Court judge on Friday allowed them to proceed with the en-bloc sale.

The owners of the sole dissenting apartment have indicated they might re-appeal against Justice Andrew Ang's decision to dismiss their appeal against the sale. Their lawyer, Senior Counsel Michael Hwang, said his clients could ask the court again to continue its order to hold the sale of the property.

On Friday, Justice Ang lifted the freeze off the sale of Phoenix Court, a freehold 13-storey apartment block at River Valley Road. He said some of the majority owners could have entered into agreements to buy other properties, and would thus risk having their agreements revoked in a rising property market.

Justice Ang called this "a real problem", with the majority owners left not knowing when the en-bloc sale would be completed.

Under the Sales and Purchase agreement (S&P), the sale of Phoenix Court to the buyers was to have gone through by Sept 18.

Justice Ang ordered Mr Hwang and his clients to file a fresh application, supported with affidavits, if they wanted to hold off the sale. Mr Hwang said he would consult with his clients first.

The tussle began in April last year when owners of Phoenix Court inked the Collective Sale Agreement (CSA). Among the 47 apartments, only the owners of one dissented — Mr Yip Hoi Thong and Madam Ng Swee Lang.

Six months later, a deal was sealed with Bukit Panjang Plaza for $88.1 million. The sale committee went on to apply for a Strata Titles Board to proceed with the sale in January.

After the couple's objection was dismissed by the board, they took the matter to the High Court, demanding that the sale be annulled due to "defective" procedures.

The elderly couple argued that two of the three majority owners who had applied to the STB for the sale order were not authorised to do so. Furthermore, the method of distribution of the sale proceeds was also omitted from the S&P agreement, they said.

But the judge noted the sale had valid CSA and S&P agreements, specifying the methods of distributing proceeds. He said the committee acted in good faith, as the $88.1-million sale price was above the valuation and reserve price.

He dismissed the appeal with costs.

$1b Promise Of This Green Oasis

Source : Weekend TODAY, November 10, 2007

Gardens by the Bay to open in 2010; plans for 'magical' landscape finally unveiled

SETTING aside prime land at Marina Bay, next to the upcoming new financial district, for a 101-hectare garden may seem puzzling to some — but there are enormous economic benefits as well as intangible value to be gained from this.

Painting a picture of what a foreign visitor would see, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said: "Imagine you are coming in from the airport … you are driving down East Coast Parkway and then, if you climb over (Benjamin) Sheares Bridge, you will see the city opening up.

"And as you go, you see the beautiful gardens opening up, especially at night. What a magical scene that will be."

At Friday's groundbreaking ceremony of Gardens by the Bay, the complete and detailed plan for this green oasis was laid out for the first time. It includes exotic conservatories housing plants from far-flung lands, themed gardens and extraordinary super-trees on top of which one might entertain.

In terms of cold hard cash, the gardens are expected to draw 2.7 million visitors annually, contributing more than $1 billion to the economy over 10 years.

Those with property in the area could also see the value of their real estate jump — by as much as $8 billion for the whole area collectively, some professional valuers estimate.

Then, there are the intangible pleasures, not just for tourists, but residents too.

Mr Mah said: "We took this position that we're going to make this a wonderful place for all Singaporeans to come and enjoy themselves."

Costing $900 million, the first phase of construction — the 54-hectare Gardens at Marina South — should be completed by end-2010. The other two gardens at Marina East and Marina Centre will be constructed after 2010.

The gardens will strive to be environmentally sustainable, using energy-efficient technology. And while the public will have free access to most areas, there will be entrance fees to some special features such as the conservatories and supertrees.

These are more expensive to build, and indeed, overall construction costs have gone up 30 per cent from the time of conceptualisation to the ground-breaking, said project director Tan Wee Kiat.

What the public pay to visit these few features will go towards offsetting the running costs for the gardens. Even so, there will be an overall deficit.

Meanwhile, the 32-hectare Gardens at Marina East will be located on the western bank of the Marina Barrage and would be an ideal venue for water sports if Singapore wins the bid for the 2010 Youth Olympics, Mr Mah said.

And the 15-hectare garden at Marina Centre could even hold the Formula 1 building, racetracks and grandstands.

Summing up the vibrancy the gardens would bring, Mr Mah said: "If you had put all apartments and offices on this land, you would've created more value. But is this what we want? Is this what Singapore is all about?"

URA To Launch Tender For Alexandra Road Residential Site

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 November 2007

The Urban Redevelopment Authority says it will launch the tender for a residential site at Alexandra Road in about two weeks.

The move comes after receiving a commitment from a developer to bid at least S$220.7 million for the site.

The 99-year leasehold site near Redhill MRT Station sits on 8,600 square metres.

It has a maximum gross floor area of 42,000 square metres.

The site was placed for sale in August under the Reserve List of the Government's Land Sales Programme.

Under the reserve list system, the government will put up a reserve site for public tender if it receives a commitment from a developer to bid for the site above a minimum price that is acceptable. - CNA/ch

REIT Retailers Forecast A Surge In Festive Spending

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 November 2007

Singapore shoppers are expected to throng the malls in greater numbers this coming year-end holiday season.

And mall managers said they would be spending more money on promotions this year to keep the crowds coming in.

They have set aside a bigger budget of up to S$300,000 for each mall.

Frasers Centrepoint has seven malls under its umbrella, with an average weekly traffic count of 320,000 shoppers.

It is expecting the number to jump by 20 percent over the next month in the run-up to the year-end festive season, with consumers more willing to splurge on luxury goods.

Raymond Chan, Marketing Manager of Frasers Centrepoint Malls, said: "In view of the upturn in the Singapore economy, we foresee a very robust consumer spending this season, and we hope to see a 10 percent increase year-on-year. Compared to last Christmas, we hope to see a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in traffic and tenant sales."

Frasers is optimistic that the booming economy will translate into higher year-end bonuses, resulting in shoppers being more than willing to indulge.

Over at CapitaLand, it is taking on a common holiday theme for the 15 malls under its brand this year.

This will allow it to save on advertising and seasonal decoration costs by buying in bulk.

Pua Seck Guan, CEO of CapitaLand Retail, said: "During Christmas, we spend quite a fair bit of money to create shopping ambience and festive ambience. We spend in the region of S$30,000 on decorating the malls, and on top of that, we are looking in the order of about S$100,000 to do advertising and promotion. So in general, we are spending between S$100,000 and S$300,000 for each mall."

Across its portfolio, CapitaLand is setting aside up to some S$3 million on promotions for the year-end holiday season. - CNA/so

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

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 10 November 2007

KUALA LUMPUR : Commenting on the Pedra Branca case being heard by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Malaysia's Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar has urged both sides to exercise maturity, so that the issue will not become an irritant to bilateral relations.

"I hope we are mature enough, both sides. There are so many irritants, but we are not conducting our foreign policy on irritants. We are looking at long term interest, and I hope that it is the long term interest that both sides will consider," said the Malaysian foreign minister.

Singapore presented its submission earlier this week before the court.

It claimed that Kuala Lumpur has no evidence to show its sovereignty over the outcrop.

But Mr Syed Hamid remains confident that Malaysia has every reason to stake its claim over the island which Malaysia calls Pulau Batu Puteh.

The Malaysian team will begin its submission on Nov 13.

"We do not go to court because we think we'll win by chance; we believe in the correctness of our position," said the Malaysian foreign minister.

He said both sides are expected to complete the submission by the first quarter of next year. He also reaffirmed Malaysia's commitment to abide by the ICJ ruling thereafter. - CNA /ls

Evidence Points To Singapore's Ownership Of Pedra Branca: DPM Jayakumar

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 November 2007

Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister S Jayakumar said the dispute over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca is a straightforward case.

He said evidence clearly points to Singapore's ownership of the island, which Malaysia calls Pulau Batu Puteh.

Professor Jayakumar said this as he concluded four days of oral argument at the International Court of Justice.

He added that the British never asked for permission to acquire it and never needed to back in 1847.

When Singapore gained its independence, Britain passed on the title to the island to the Republic.

The three-week hearing is meant to settle the dispute between Singapore and Malaysia over the ownership of Pedra Branca and its outcrops of Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

The last day of oral presentation for Singapore lacks no punch, with its DPM Jayakumar laying out the key facts to show how Singapore is the rightful owner of Pedra Branca.

Addressing the panel of 16 judges, Professor Jayakumar, who's also the Law Minister, reminded the court of specifics like how Malaysia has not produced a shred of evidence which attributed the island to Johor.

He said Singapore, on the other hand, has openly and continuously conducted a full range of state activities on Pedra Branca.

The Deputy Prime Minister also emphasised how Malaysia did not have an original title to Pedra Branca.

He said: "The original title is but a mirage conjured up by Malaysia, and it remains a mirage."

Professor S Jayakumar reiterated that the British did not seek permission from Johor or any other power for their activities on Pedra Branca. Malaysia on the other hand, claimed that permission was given by Johor to the British.

Professor Jayakumar said "Malaysia uses this alleged permission in the written pleadings as a panacea for explaining away all of Malaysia's embarrassing silence and inaction since 1847, when the British first landed on Pedra Branca."

Professor Jayakumar highlighted a 1953 letter from the Johor government at the time to Singapore.

In that letter, Johor said it did not claim ownership of Pedra Branca.

Professor Jayakumar said: "At the very minimum, this letter constitutes clear, incontrovertible evidence that Johor never had title to Pedra Branca and that Johor officials never regarded Pedra Branca as belonging to Johor.

"But this letter is more than just evidence of a fact or evidence of a state of mind. It is a disclaimer of title given by the Johor government. It is also a declaration that Johor would not, in future, assert any claim on Pedra Branca. It is binding on Malaysia."

"Malaysia is clearly embarrassed by the 1953 disclaimer of title by Johor. Malaysia tries hard to discredit the disclaimer by arguing that 'it is not a model of clarity'. Not 'a model of clarity'? What can be clearer than these 10 words: 'the Johore government does not claim ownership of Pedra Branca'?" he said.

Professor Jayakumar added that even as late as 1975, Malaysia had published a map which indicated that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore.

In fact, Malaysia only claimed Pedra Branca for the first time in 1979, when it published a new map of its territories, which included the disputed island.

DPM Jayakumar said: "This came after 130 years of silence, after 130 years of failure to assert Malaysian sovereignty, after 130 years of conduct and admissions against its own interest, including an express and unequivocal acknowledgement of Singapore's title."

Singapore had argued that based on all the extensive activities it had done on Pedra Branca consistently, it displayed sovereignty over the island. It said it wasn't necessary to define with accuracy or display formal acts to show the time at which the island became a British possession.

To the British, it was through its own acts and surrounding circumstances that would determine whether a territory had been acquired. But Malaysia rejects this argument.

This led Professor Jayakumar to point out that "reduced to its essence, Malaysia argues that all acquisitions must comply with a Malaysian-conceived format or procedure, and because the acquisition of Pedra Branca does not fall neatly into her pre-conceived format, Singapore's acquisition of title must necessarily be flawed. But this argument itself is flawed."

At the end of the session, Professor Jayakumar told Singapore reporters that the team worked well together with foreign counsel to present a persuasive and convincing case for Singapore.

He said: "It's still (in the) early days, there's much more work to be done and we have to be alert and agile to any surprises that may arise when Malaysia presents its case next week...Therefore our team is going to work hard in the coming two weeks to ensure that we have all our arguments covered and prepare all the rebuttals and counter arguments to any main points that may arise next week.

"Morale of the team is high, it's a closely-knit team which has worked very well and I'm sure that they will do their best to advance Singapore's interest in this important case."

Just within four days, the Singapore team of eight members gave over 10 speeches.

They dished out facts and evidence to prove Singapore's ownership of Pedra Branca.

Next Tuesday, the Malaysian team will have their say in court. And we can expect the Singapore team to be all attentive in preparing for counter arguments. - CNA/ch/ls

Beijing Curbs Foreign Investment In Key Areas

Source : The Business Times, November 9, 2007

China's economic planning agency has issued restrictions on foreign investment in real estate and other industries, part of a range of measures aimed at righting imbalances in the economy.

A lengthy list of revised rules that take effect on Dec 1 imposes bans on foreign investment in businesses such as golf courses, gambling, genetically modified crops, traditional teas, film production and weapons manufacturing, according to a document seen yesterday on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission.

China's leaders have touted a shift in planning away from hyper-fast industrial expansion toward a more sustainable form of development.

The change hasn't yet been reflected in data showing the economy growing at an annual rate of nearly 12 per cent.

The revised guidelines welcome foreign investment in environmentally friendly areas such as recycling, 'clean' industries and environmental protection.

They ban foreign investment in mining of strategically important minerals and restrict investment in energy intensive, highly polluting projects.

Some restrictions are for illegal businesses, such as the processing of ivory and tiger bones. Others, such as a ban on foreign investment in Internet services and news websites, had been announced earlier.

Many match a list issued by the NDRC in 2004. The reissue of the rules suggests that some, like limits on foreign investment in real estate, were not adequately enforced.

State media reports played up the limits on property investment, although apart from the ban on investment in golf courses and in real estate agencies, the list matches current regulations.
The NDRC's list also discourages investment in export-oriented industries, reflecting China's efforts to curb its ever-soaring trade surplus, which is expected to top US$200 billion this year.

Foreign direct investment in China rose almost 11 per cent in January-September from a year ago to US$47.2 billion, according to the state media reports. Of that total, foreign investment in property development accounted for 42.3 billion yuan (US$5.7 billion).

Foreign direct investment in 2006 totalled US$63 billion. -- AP

Lucida @ Novena

A true escapist therapy, you need little persuasion to surrender to the delicious lifestyle residing in it. With 62 units articulately developed in a 25-storey vertical paradise, every level spells 3 magnetic apartments where nothing ordinary is spared. The overriding feeling of freedom and joy everyday, you're promised the intrigue.

With 62 units articulately developed in a 25-storey vertical paradise, every level spells 3 magnetic apartments where nothing ordinary is spared. The overriding feeling of freedom and joy everyday,
you're promised the intrigue.

Address : 2 Suffolk Road
District : D11 - 21
Tenure : Freehold
Developer : Novelty Organisations Pte Ltd
Development : 25 Storey Development with 62 Luxurious Units, come with high end finishes.
Expected TOP : 31 December 2011
Architect : JGP Architecture Pte Ltd

Floor Size :
Type A - 1 bedroom (624 sqft)
Type C - 3 bedrooms (1324 sqft)
Type B - 2 bedrooms (1066 sqft )
Type BP - 4 bedrooms (3854 sqft)
Type B1 - 2 bedrooms (1098 sqft)
Type CP - 4 bedrooms (4176 sqft)

Imported Quality Fittings :
* LEMA Modular Wardrobes
* BONTEMPI Kitchen Cabinets
* GESSI bath fittings
* DURAVIT sanitarywares
* SCHOLTES cooker hobs and built-in oven
* JUNG Electrical switch system

Price : From $1700/psf

Selling Points :-
- Strategic Location in Prime District 11
- Walking Distance to Novena MRT Station
- Easily Accessible by ECP / CTE / PIE
- Near good schools
- Unique Architecture Design

Facilities :-
-Swimming Pool with Shower Area, Changing Room Cum Toilet & Pool Deck
-Wading Pool
-Hot & Cold Water Jet-
-BBQ Area
-Children's Playground
-24 Hours Security