Monday, January 14, 2008

S'pore Growth Could Hit 7.2%

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 14, 2008

Republic will outpace most other regional economies, United Nations report predicts

GENEVA - SPURRED by a shift to more high value-added manufacturing and exports, Singapore's resilient economy will grow by 7.2 per cent this year, outpacing many other economies in the region, a United Nations (UN) report predicts.

Overall, East Asia, heavily influenced by the powerhouse Chinese economy, is expected to grow by 7.7 per cent, outpacing by a wide margin the overall rate of 3.4 per cent forecast for the world. The UN, in its baseline scenario, also expects world trade to expand by 7.1 per cent, down from last year's 7.2 per cent.

The report forecasts that China's economy will grow by 10.1 per cent from 11.4 per cent last year, and neighbouring Hong Kong will expand by 5.7 per cent.

The UN's flagship forecast - Economic Situation And Prospects, 2008, released simultaneously in Geneva and New York - also estimates that Indonesia will expand its economy by 6 per cent this year; Malaysia, 5.8 per cent; Thailand, 4.8 per cent; the Philippines, 6.1 per cent; and Taiwan, 4.4 per cent.

However, the UN warns that there is a risk a deeper housing slump in the United States, coupled with a steep and accelerated fall of the US dollar, could 'trigger a worldwide recession and disorderly adjustment of the global imbalance'.

'There is a clear and present danger of the world economy coming to a near-standstill,' the UN study cautions. 'The domino effect of a US recession would be to knock down export growth from China, Europe and Japan, in turn reducing their demand for exports from developing countries,' it notes.

Dr Hong Pingfan, the chief of global economic monitoring at the UN's department of economic and social affairs in New York, told The Straits Times that 'given the latest data coming in, there is a 50:50 chance of a US recession'.

In the pessimistic scenario, the US economy, which is projected to grow by 2 per cent this year, would contract by 0.1 per cent instead.

The spillover, say the UN analysts, would see world economic growth slow to 1.6 per cent and world trade growth to 4 per cent.

Such a turn of events would result in China's growth contracting by more than 2 percentage points to 8 per cent, and India's, from 8.2 per cent to 6.2 per cent, Dr Hong said.

The UN also projects the euro area would contract from the baseline expansion of 2.5 per cent to 1 per cent, and Japan from 1.7 per cent to 0.7 per cent.

Dr Hong, a US-trained Chinese economist, said the impact would be larger for smaller Asian economies, such as Singapore, with its more open financial markets, and noted that the contraction would result in a drop in growth that would exceed 3 percentage points.

Farmstay : Singapore

Source : The Electric New Paper, January 14, 2008

Lim Chu Kang Gets The Three-Star Treatment

YOU don't have to travel to Australia for a farmstay vacation.

This Singapore farm hotel will come with room service, housekeeping and spa-on-demand services.

Visitors will also be able to wine, dine, and shop at the agri-tainment farm.

Man with the plan: Dato Johnson Ong at the Lim Chu Kang site.

By September, you will be able book one of the 20 farm villas at Lim Chu Kang's new agri-tainment site off Neo Tiew Road.

It will have retail outlets, a restaurant with about 7,000 sq ft of outdoor space and a 6,000 sq ft beer garden.

The 547,883 sq ft attraction - about the size of six football fields - is the largest agri-tainment farm in Lim Chu Kang.

It is being developed by HLH Agri R & D, a subsidiary of mainboard-listed PDC Corp.

HLH is among the largest commercial corn producers in Asia.

Room with a view: The villas will have a balcony that overlooks a fruit plantation.

In December 2006, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) awarded HLH one of the first three agri-tainment land parcels in Lim Chu Kang at $880,000 on a 20-year lease.

Giving The New Paper on Sunday a preview, Dato Johnson Ong, deputy chairman of HLH Group, said: 'Each air-conditioned villa will have a balcony, which overlooks the two-hectare tropical fruit plantation. The toilets will have a sky view as they are partially sheltered.'

Besides the lifestyle offerings, a research and development centre for corn and other agricultural products will be built and used as an educational showcase for visitors.

Beverage company Super Coffeemix has sealed a deal with PDC to showcase coffee production methods at the research centre.

There will be no admission fee to the yet-to-be-named agri-tainment farm, which aims to draw 300,000 to 500,000 visitors annually.

Dato Ong said the entire development is estimated to cost $10 million.

About half of the construction work has been completed.

The firm said it expects to hire about 200 people to work at the farm.

The new development will further inject buzz to Lim Chu Kang.

Work in progress: A scale model of the 547,883 sq ft site.

There are more than 10 farms there now.

Farms under the Kranji Countryside Association include Neo Tiew Road's Bollywood Veggies, run by former Netball Singapore president Ivy Singh-Lim.

Visitors can dine at its bistro, Poison Ivy, go on farm tours and shop for fresh vegetables.

There is also the Petals and Leaves Bistro at Nyee Phoe Flower Garden.

The New Paper on Sunday understands that landscape company Nyee Phoe Group will be launching four kampung-style chalets in Neo Tiew Crescent this year.

And Yoli Technologies, which won the bid for two other plots of land - with a total land area of almost 296,000 sq ft - in Lim Chu Kang in 2006, will develop them for agri-tainment purposes.

Said Mr Teo Jing Kok, SLA's deputy director of land sales: 'The entrepreneurs who tendered for the sites were willing to try out something new and different to make Singapore a more exciting place to live, work and play in.'They are taking bold initiatives to help turn Lim Chu Kang into a rustic recreational hinterland.'

This is HLH's first foray into the lifestyle and hospitality business, although Dato Ong earlier ran a fish farm in Sungei Tengah Road for three years.

He recalled: 'Then, I couldn't offer even food and drinks for visitors at the fish farm because the land was solely meant for agriculture use.


'At Lim Chu Kang, I wanted more than just a dining experience. So we decided to build the villas where people can also enjoy the experience of living on a farm without travelling out of Singapore.'

HLH's villas also come with a private car porch each.

Guests who arrive by car can check-in at a drive-through point at the main entrance before driving to the villa and parking there.

Said Dato Ong: 'It will be a three-star hotel - without the swimming pool and tennis courts.'

The rates, however, will not be cheap. Each night will be priced from at least $150, excluding taxes. But Dato Ong is confident the villas will enjoy a 'good pick-up rate'.

He explained: 'I think the concept of living on a local farm will appeal to Singaporeans and tourists.

'There will be much to do and see at Lim Chu Kang.'



260 Neo Tiew Crescent
Tel: 67924298

100 Neo Tiew Road.
Tel: 68985001

62, Lot 75 Lim Chu Kang Lane 2.
Tel: 67937875

291 Lot 113, Neo Tiew Crescent.
Tel: 67921318

3 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4
Tel: 67920931

56 Lim Chu Kang Lane 6.
Tel: 67917229

181 Neo Tiew Road.
Tel: 67937789

No. 220 Neo Tiew Crescent
Tel: 67948368

251 Neo Tiew Crescent.
Tel: 6862-6363.

240 Neo Tiew Crescent
Tel: 67936500

85 Lorong Tawas
Tel: 62655808

1 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4
Tel: 63101884

301 Neo Tiew Crescent
Tel: 67941401


Atrium@Orchard Put Up For Sale

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 14 January, 2008

The Atrium@Orchard is up for sale. The Singapore Land Authority says the property will be put on a fresh 99-year lease.

The sale will be made through an expression of interest (EOI).

CB Richard Ellis, which is handling the EOI, says it expects to receive bids above $2,700 per square foot.

It notes that there is pent-up demand for grade A office assets from foreign and local investors, and that the absence of new office supply coming up in Orchard Road will fuel rental growth.

Completed in 2002, the Atrium@Orchard comprises two office towers - of seven and 10 storeys - with ground-floor retail space.

It sits on a land area of 9,575 square metres with a net floor area of 34,620 square metres.

Anchor tenants include Temasek Holdings, Barclays Capital and MTV Asia.

The EOI closes at 4pm on February 22. - CNA/ir

‘How Many Times More?’

Source : TODAY, Monday, January 14, 2008

Condo’s residents want to stop repeated en bloc efforts, will seek Prof Jaya’s help

YET another attempt to put Bayshore Park on the en bloc market has been nipped by poor attendance, and residents who are not interested in selling are fed up with the repeated efforts.

They now want to consult Law Minister Prof S Jayakumar - who is also their Member of Parliament (MP) - during a Meet-The-People session.

The meeting on Saturday to form an en bloc sales committee for the East Coast condominium could not proceed as a quorum of 30 per cent was not fulfilled.

This is the second time an attempt to start an en bloc movement in the 1,100 unit Bayshore Park has been thwarted.

Last September, a group called for a meeting to form a committee to sell the estate but had to disband after objection from other residents on legal grounds.

A group of opposing residents had sent a lawyer’s letter to the old committee challenging its constitution and its validity under the amended Land Titles (Strata) Act, tweaked in September last year to improve transparency and balance competing interests.

At least 30 per cent of the 21-year-old estate’s sole proprietors have to be present in order for the extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) to go ahead for any en bloc push to proceed.

Bayshore Park is one of the most prominent properties along the East Coast and developments at the 21-year-old condominium - which is more than 1 million sq ft in size - is keenly watched by marketing agents and developers alike because of its prime seafront location and vast land area.

Saturday’s poor turnout was due to an inconvenient location, said a resident who is a member of the group leading the en bloc charge. Because of space constraints, the meeting was held at Bedok Community Centre instead of inside the estate.

More than 20 per cent of sole proprietors had turned up and some did not make it in time for the 2pm deadline, said the resident, who declined to be named.

Despite the setback, he told Today another meeting would be called within four to six weeks.

Residents against selling their homes were happy that another attempt at en bloc has failed but are concerned that there is nothing to stop another bid to call for an en bloc EOGM.

One resident, who declined to be named, said: “It is clear that the level of interest only belongs to one group of hardcore people who want to sell. But under current laws, it appears that there is no end to it.”

Every time an extraordinary general meeting is called, the estate ends up forking up to $10,000 in postage and logistic charges to host the meeting, he said.

The resident added that those against selling the estate want clarification on how many en bloc EOGMs can be called within a short period of time.

Mr Donald Han, managing director of property consultancy Cushman and Wakefield, said that if pro-en bloc groups repeatedly try despite failures, they will have to work harder on the ground to get more support each time.

“There is nothing to stop them from setting up the general meeting. But if they keep doing it, people might get tired and they might get less support,” said Mr Han.

A Monster In The Making?

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 14, 2008

The push by the Housing Board to get private-sector developers to build and sell HDB flats was always a bold but risky move.

When it was first announced in March 2005 in Parliament, the proposal drew only muted responses from parliamentarians.

Nearly three years on, the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) has gained acceptance. Under this scheme, private companies develop and sell the flats, but only those who fulfil the Housing Board’s income and other criteria can buy the flats.

It has won buyers’ support, with over 6,000 applicants for 616 flats for the first project in Tampines launched in October 2006.

The second project at Boon Keng launched on Jan 5 attracted over 1,100 applicants on Day 1 of its launch despite average prices of $520 psf, high by public housing standards.

Buoyed by the positive response, HDB has set aside four more plots - in Bishan, Simei, Toa Payoh and Bedok - for privately developed public housing.

The DBSS may appear to be a success, given the enthusiastic market response.

But is it?

From a public policy perspective, there is a risk of the DBSS becoming a monster of the market’s doing. It is timely to take stock of where the scheme is heading.

Some issues need to be addressed.

The first is whether the new breed of DBSS flats - public housing featuring condo-style finishes - can be considered ‘public housing’. This has been aired in The Straits Times and The Sunday Times.

But to me, this is mere semantics. Whether you call such flats ‘public housing’ or ‘hybrid housing’, the fact is that it has the same ownership and income restrictions as Housing Board flats. To that extent, it’s clearly ‘public housing’.

But it’s not ‘public housing’ if you think public housing means highly subsidised HDB flats.

Some Singaporeans may baulk at this suggestion, but I think it is perfectly acceptable to have ‘public housing’ devoid of public subsidies.

An analogy from health care suffices. Public hospitals here offer a range of services to patients: from highly subsidised C-class wards to less subsidised B-class wards, to A-class wards which are charged at full cost with no government subsidy. Patients choose according to their means and desired comfort level.

It is no bad thing if public housing evolves likewise, allowing people to choose flat sizes according to their means and desired comfort level. At the top end, those who want public housing with plush finishes can have them - without state funds to subsidise their penchant for trimmings.

The other pertinent issue about DBSS is affordability. With prices at City View@Boon Keng averaging $520 psf, and three-bedroom units heading north of $700,000, concern has been raised about whether public housing remains affordable.

Here, it’s critical to keep an eye on the big picture: the total supply of HDB flats available.

In other words, to keep flats affordable, HDB will simply have to make sure there is ample supply of low-cost, subsidised flats to cater to those who need it, even while it offers high-end flats with costlier finishes. So DBSS flats with condo-style finishes should not constitute the majority of public housing.

In November 2007, HDB announced that there would be a supply of 7,000 new flats available from then to June 2008.

Another 3,200 flats will be built under the DBSS and executive condominium schemes. In other words, ‘hybrid’ or high-end ‘public housing’ flats will make up about 30 per cent of the new flats. That still leaves 70 per cent of traditional, subsidised HDB flats.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) and HDB will have to figure out if a 70-30 per cent mix of subsidised and high-end public housing is the right mix at this time. If not, it will have to recalibrate supply.

So HDB will have to manage the supply of new HDB flats, and make sure prices for subsidised flats are affordable.

Beyond that, those concerned about affordability should note that there are other HDB flats to choose from, which are quite a bit lower in price than those spanking new flats at Boon Keng.

In October, new four-room HDB flats in Telok Blangah went on sale for $308,000 to $402,000. Assuming sizes of about 1,000 sq ft, that works out to about $300-$400 psf - for new flats close to the city.

Further away from town, new HDB four-room flats can be bought in estates like Yishun and Sengkang for prices of below $200 to about $250 psf.

Five-room resale flats near the Boon Keng area - at Kallang and Whampoa - went for a median price of $423,000 in the third quarter of 2007. Assuming an average flat size of 1,200 sq ft, that’s $353 psf - much less than City View@Boon Keng’s average selling price of $520 psf.

In fact, some analysts have warned would-be buyers who think they can sell the flats for a big profit several years down the road that the potential upside is limited, given the already high prices.

The above back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that DBSS flats are fetching a high premium in prices above new and resale HDB flats.

Back in 2005, before the first batch of DBSS flats was launched at Tampines, one analyst predicted that such flats would get 10 per cent more than resale flats in the vicinity. The reality today is that the premium is closer to 50 per cent.

Simple logic tells us the premium is being paid by buyers. But who’s benefiting?

The HDB may benefit from higher land tender prices. But probably the biggest beneficiaries are the developers themselves.

A quick look at the numbers is instructive. In January 2006, the first DBSS plot at Tampines was sold for $113.65 psf per plot ratio (ppr). The developer estimated break-even cost at about $240 psf. The units were eventually sold at $300 psf - 25 per cent higher than break-even cost.

The second land plot at Boon Keng was sold for $233.74 psf ppr to Hoi Hup. Analysts calculated a break-even price of $400 psf. Units there are being sold for $520 psf ppr - 30 per cent higher than estimated break-even cost.

The third plot of land in Ang Mo Kio was sold in November 2007 for $212 psf ppr to Greatearth, a unit under United Engineers. Units have not been launched yet - but if the first two projects are anything to go by, this developer will be gunning for similar profit margins.

Question: How desirable is it for developers to be making such profits on even high-end public housing?

The above tour of the DBSS landscape throws up some interesting policy dilemmas.

When public housing is built by the private sector, what is the role of the Government in such a market? MND Minister Mah Bow Tan has said in Parliament that the Government does not want to step in to set prices. But there may be other ways to regulate this new market segment.

The Government will have to try to balance the interests of home-buyers and developers in some ways.

One thing policy-makers cannot do is sit on their hands and point to the robust demand in today’s market as proof that the DBSS is a success. The judgment of the market today can hide problems that erupt years later.

Caveat emptor is a good maxim for private transactions in the private market; it does not hold 100 per cent for public goods like housing, especially when policy innovations constantly create new and unpredictable market segments.

In such an environment, the onus is on policy planners to take a hard look at the DBSS and see if there are looming dangers.

If the market turns and negative equity results on DBSS flats, the mess will be in the Government’s court in any case.

Provided teething problems are tackled, the DBSS continues to hold great potenial as a way to involve the private sector in public housing development while giving consumers more housing choices.

Three years after its inception, it is timely for MND to do a stock-take of the DBSS and prevent it from becoming a monster of the market’s making: with runaway prices, panic demand laced by unrealistic expectations of capital gains, and ever-rising developers’ profits.

蒙巴登地铁站Mountbatten 附近地段最高标价1489万比预期低

《联合早报》Jan 13, 2008

新加坡市区重建局昨天招标截止的蒙巴登(Mountbatten)地铁站附近的地段,共吸引到三份投标书。其中Mezzo Properties的出价最高,为1489万元(即容积率每平方英尺69元)。

根据本报通过LAWNET2系统搜索出价公司的资料显示,Mezzo Properties是由Lim Kim Hong和Lim Huixing掌管,于去年7月成立。

其他出手的两家公司是贵族保龄球(Superbowl)和速美集团(Soilbuild Group),分别标价1480万元和1093万元。

位于蒙巴登地铁站附近的这幅地段,是市区重建局继史各士路(Scotts Road)和淡滨尼5道地段之后,所推出的第三幅短期办公楼地段。该地段占地2.12公顷,可建筑楼面为2万平方公尺(约合21万5200平方英尺),属于15年地契。成功投标的发展商可在该地段上建大约三层楼高的低成本办公楼。



他也指出,另一个影响标价的原因是,这幅地段估计将在2009年底至2010年时发展完毕,届时滨海湾金融中心(Marina Bay Financial Centre,简称MBFC)第一期工程将完工。到那个时候,办公楼的短缺问题就可能不那么严重,这也使发展商在下标时三思而后行。

去年11月截止招标、位于淡滨尼5道的短期办公楼的标价为1000万元(即容积率每平方英尺81元),高于蒙巴登的这块地段。莱坊(Knight Frank)咨询与研究部主管麦俊荣对此表示,价格上的差异主要反映了地段上的区别。



联明与乐赛投资合资1.48亿元购绿宝石大厦 Emerald Mansion

《联合早报》Jan 13, 2008

新加坡上市建筑公司联明集团,再度同美国投资基金管理机构乐赛投资管理公司(LaSalle Investment Management)联手出击,这一回,双方斥资1亿4800万元(即容积率每平方英尺1880元),买下位于第九邮区的绿宝石大厦(Emerald Mansion),并计划将这里重新发展成豪华私人共管公寓。

双方将成立一家称为联明置地(LB Land)的新公司。在这个发展项目中,联明集团(Lian Beng Group)将占10%的股权,但联明也会成为这个总值约3400万元的建筑项目的主要承包商。

联明集团主席兼董事经理王邦益接受本报电访时,谈到这个位于翡翠山(Emerald Hill)项目的发展计划。集团打算在这个黄金地段发展一栋高12层楼、拥有40个单位的豪华高档公寓,每个单位的面积至少是2000平方英尺。








与亲人争遗产 新加坡驳运公司老板败诉

《联合早报》Jan 13, 2008













四房式组屋59万转售 尺价破600元创纪录

《联合早报》Jan 12, 2008



这间四房式转售组屋,位于惹兰孟比那(Jalan Membina),屋龄约五年,面积是90平方米(968.76平方英尺),位置在20楼以上,两个星期前刚刚成交。












根据建屋发展局公布的去年第三季组屋转售价指数与相关资料,惹兰孟比那所属的红山区四房式组屋的转售价格中位数是39万6500元,而溢价(cash over valuation)中位数也只有4万零500元。


She Keeps Roof Over Her Head

Source : The Electric New Paper, January 14, 2008

Court rules low-IQ woman is owner of million-dollar house

AS she sits staring blankly at the TV screen in the comfort of her own home, Ms Chang Lee Siang probably does not fully appreciate what her late grandmother did for her.

She's taken care of: Ms Chang Lee Siang lives with a cousin in her late grandmother's bungalow. Her grandmother had willed a separate piece of property - a million-dollar semi-detached house - to her. The red-and-white chair is her grandmother's favourite chair.

Mentally-handicapped from birth, the 48-year-old woman is in many ways still like a child.

But she will not be left destitute, nor know poverty, because of the house in her name.

Call it a legacy of love: a grandmother's love for her mentally-challenged granddaughter.

Last week, after a long legal battle over her late grandmother's will, the High Court ruled that she can keep the gift of the million-dollar semi-detached house in Paya Lebar.

Madam Tan Soo Keow, who ran a lighterage business after her late husband died, had three houses to bequeath in 2002, when she made her will. She was then about 87 and in good health.

One semi-detached house she gave to her eldest son, Mr Chang Ham Chwee, 69, a businessman.

Generous: Madam Tan Soo Keow is said to be generous and charitable.

She then specified that the bungalow she was living in be split four ways - between her two daughters, her other son and charities of the daughters' choice.

The last house she gave to Ms Chang, Mr Chang's second daughter.

Madam Tan died in July 2006. She was 91.

It was only after her death that her family found out about the contents of her will.

And Mr Chang was unhappy with the way his late mother had divided her estate.

He sued his sisters and his own daughter for their shares of the houses, claiming that the land had been bought, and the houses built, with the money he had earned from their late-father's lighterage business.

Last week, Justice Choo Han Teck threw out his case, and preserved Madam Tan's inheritance for her granddaughter.


For more than 16 years, Ms Chang lived with her doting grandmother.

And it was Madam Tan who looked after her, although Mr Chang claimed in court that his daughter had moved in with her grandmother to keep her company in the 'big house'.

Ms Chang, who lives with a cousin in her late grandmother's bungalow in Paya Lebar, passes her day watching TV and VCDs. She is able to fend for herself, cooking simple meals.

She could reply to simple questions that were put to her by The New Paper on Sunday.

'Did you go to school?'

She replied: 'Yes, until Primary 6. To convent school in town.'

She was chauffeured to school by her grandmother's driver.

'Do your parents celebrate your birthday?'


'When is your birthday?'

'June 26.'

Asked about what she used to do with her grandmother, she replied: 'We go out, see show.'

'Do you like your father?'


The court had heard that Ms Chang was apparently treated like a maid in her own home, and had to work very hard cleaning the house and doing household chores.

But Mr Chang had said in his affidavit that he was suing his daughter only because she was named as a beneficiary in the will and he still intends to take care of her for as long as he can.

Her three brothers testified in court for their father, against their sister.

Mr Chang is the managing partner of Chan Kain Thye Lighterage Company.

When we asked Ms Chang if her father shouted at her or scolded her, her reply was 'No'.

Does he visit you?

She said again: 'No.'

No one knows why Madam Tan gave one of her houses to Ms Chang - the only grandchild to inherit something from her.

But her aunt, Madam Chan Meow Khin, 61, a management consultant, said: 'My mother probably wanted to show her love and concern for her, and ensure that her welfare is taken care of.

'She had a soft spot for her because she's disadvantaged.'

She added: 'My mother was an extraordinary woman - a woman of great character and virtue.'

In court, it was said that Madam Tan had taken over the reins of her husband's lighterage business after he died in a boat explosion in 1950, when she was just 35.

Madam Tan, a devout Buddhist, was as generous and charitable as she was capable.

Madam Chan, her second daughter, said: 'My mother used to donate tens of thousands of dollars to the temples every year because it gave her great joy in doing so.

'She was also very kind to the poor as she believed that you have to give to receive.'

When she was alive, her children all got along. It was only after the matriarch died that trouble started.

All the siblings have their own homes. The two semi-detached Paya Lebar houses are rented out.

Speaking for herself and her elder sister, Madam Chan Siew Khim, 70, a businesswoman, Madam Chan said: 'We were shocked when our brother took action against us.'

She added: 'We just want my mother's last wishes to be respected.'


Her dad claims properties belong to him

MR Chang Ham Chwee, 69, sued his siblings, Madam Chan Siew Khim, 70; Madam Chan Meow Khin, 61; Mr Chan Hung Hor, 67; and his daughter, Ms Chang Lee Siang, 48, for their share of his late mother's estate.

At the centre of the dispute was a semi-detached house and a bungalow in Paya Lebar.

Mr Chang was given a semi-detached house by his mother, Madam Tan Soo Keow.

Mr Chang claimed that all the properties belonged to him as the money that was used to buy the land and build the houses, between 1951 and 1963, came from the lighterage business he ran.

He claimed he took over his late father's lighterage business when he was about 12 years old after his father was killed in a boat explosion.

He claimed he gave the money he earned to his mother for safekeeping.

In court, he was represented by Senior Counsel Cavinder Bull and Ms Chua Ying Hong.

The sisters were represented by Mr Anthony Lee and Ms Pua Lee Siang, while Ms Chang's lawyer was Mr Wong Siew Hong.

Their case was that it was their mother who took over the reins of the business. It was she who bought the land and oversaw the building of the houses.

They said their mother was a formidable woman of 'steely character'.

Mr Chan Hung Hor switched sides at the last minute during the court hearing and took his elder brother's side.

The hearing lasted close to three weeks between July and August last year.

Last week, Justice Choo Han Teck dismissed Mr Chang Ham Chwee's claim, saying he did not believe his story.

He said: 'Ultimately, the question central to this action, namely, whether the plaintiff took over and owned the lighterage business after his father died in 1950, depended on whether I believe the plaintiff.

'I do not.'

Construction Demand Could Set New Record

Source : The Business Times, January 14, 2008

Analysts estimate $24 billion worth of contracts were inked in 2007

Construction demand in 2007 exceeded official estimates and is likely to have hit $24 billion, analysts said.

At present, the official forecast for last year's construction demand is $19-$22 billion. But in just the first ten months of 2007, construction demand hit $18.5 billion. In addition, several major contracts were also awarded in the last two months of the year.

'A ballpark estimate suggests that contracts awarded could have reached $23 billion for the whole of 2007,' said Citigroup economist Kit Wei Zheng. CIMB-GK economist Song Seng Wun is slightly more bullish - he expects construction demand for last year to come in at $24 billion.

Singapore's construction sector has once again emerged as a major growth driver, after being in the doldrums for about eight years following the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997/98.

Last August, industry regulator Building and Construction Authority upped its construction demand forecast for 2007 from its earlier estimate of $17-$19 billion.

There is also a sense that this year, construction demand will exceed the previous peak of $24.4 billion seen in 1997.

'The construction sector is expected to remain a key driver to GDP growth in 2008,' said Kim Eng's research team. 'The combined construction budget of the two Integrated Resorts amounts to over $12 billion and there is burgeoning demand from the residential property segment.'

Citigroup, for one, predicts that the pipeline of future contracts will likely remain large, supporting construction growth well into the second half of 2008 and 2009. 'Given the synchronised supports from the integrated resorts, residential and commercial property boom and infrastructure projects, construction demand could well exceed the previous 1997 peak this year,' said Citigroup's Mr Kit.

Apart from the two IRs and infrastructure projects, the large pipeline of residential projects could yield between $12-15 billion of contracts awarded over the next two years, he said.

OCBC Investment Research analyst Serene Lim also pointed out that the government intends to raise the value added of Singapore's energy industry to $34 billion in 2015 - an increase of about 70 per cent from current levels. The initiatives include probable plans to build an oil refinery with a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day, a liquefied natural gas terminal and biodiesel production plants, she said.

A recent report by construction cost consultancy Rider Levett Bucknall says that Singapore is on the upturn of the construction activity cycle, having recently emerged from a trough.

Analysts are also bullish on the prospects of construction firms in 2008.

'The going will continue to be good for local builders as they enjoy strong order books and margins expansion,' said Kim Eng Research.

Industry Players Feel Pinch Of Rising Hotel Rates

Source : The Business Times, January 14, 2008

They are a concern for leisure travel sector; the going may get tougher for Mice operators also

The average daily hotel room rate for 2007 is expected to have hit a record $200. And although 2,000 new rooms will be added this year, there will be no let-up in rising rates.

For 2008, consultancy firm HVS International tips a 15 per cent year-on-year rise in the average room rate (ARR) to $230, then a further 13 per cent rise to $260 in 2009.

But these increases are lower than that last year. According to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the ARR rose 23 per cent year on year between January and November 2007. For the month of November, it hit a record $226.

In comparison, the ARR for the same period in Hong Kong was $221.80. And the estimated ARR for Shanghai (which HVS notes was comprised of mostly high-end hotels), was $277.

Pressure on room rates will likely ease with new supply. For 2008, HVS reckons government land-sale sites could yield more than 4,600 rooms. But the actual number will depend on the take-up of such sites - and their cost.

HVS managing director David Ling said: 'As demand for the economy and mid-tier segments is expected to surge, the land-sales programme for hotel projects should be tailored to locations that encourage developments of this type. Such sites are likely to be outside the prime area due to land costs.'

STB has been encouraging the industry to develop a range of options to add to the hotel mix to cater to different markets.

STB director (travel and hospitality business) Caroline Leong said: 'In terms of hotel room rates, while we are seeing a record in Singapore, we are actually just keeping up with market rates in Asia. Also, prices are determined by demand.'

Industry players will be monitoring room rates closely.

Chan Brothers Travel executive (marketing, communications) Jane Chang said: 'Rising rates are a concern for the leisure travel sector as it becomes increasingly difficult to source rooms at competitive prices.'

Chan Brothers also has a meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions (Mice) arm, and on the upside, Ms Chang said: 'Despite the increase in rates, bookings remain high as demand for corporate travel continues to grow.'

A tour operator who spoke on condition of anonymity bemoaned the skew towards the Mice sector. Many Singapore hotels now prefer to take corporate bookings, he said.

'I believe top-notch hotels earn up to 60 per cent of their revenue from corporate travellers. Five years ago it was the reverse.'

Also in Singapore, accommodation can eat up as much as 26 per cent of a package-tour budget, the operator pointed out. 'Spending one night in Singapore is equivalent to spending two to three in Bangkok or Denpasar.'

While he expects more hotel rooms and budget airlines to bring costs down, he said: 'At the moment the number of packages we book has been decreasing and our margins are slimmer.'

Even for Mice operators, the going may get tougher.

Dilys Yong, immediate past-president of the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers, and president of Mice organiser HQ Link, said: 'The quoted average room rate for 2007 is bearable for exhibitors and average trade visitors, but not budget trade visitors. However, the fact is that during the run-up to big events, room rates are even higher than the quoted average rate due to a shortage of rooms.'

As such, Ms Yong says that while the forecast 2008 average room rate is still 'bearable', actual rates will be higher.

Budget Mice visitors will find it virtually impossible to get a room, as Ms Yong reckons affordability in this segment is limited to $120 per night.

Inbound travel depends partly on the strength of the economy in the traveller's home country, and SA Tours marketing and communications manager Ruth Lim noted: 'There is an influx of leisure tourists to Singapore at this point as generally, these economies are rather robust.'

Until six months ago, SA Tours did not have an inbound leisure travel arm, but Ms Lim said: 'Our inbound tourism clientele base has been steadily increasing.'

Chic And Good

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 12, 2008

The demand for sleek and mid-priced furniture is on the rise, and at least four new stores are offering the decor candy

COMBINE a thriving economy, a property boom and more Singaporeans becoming house-proud, and what have you got?

Home owners shelving the idea of budget furnishings in favour of sleek, chic quality, that's what. And decor stores are springing up to cater to this upgraded mid-market demand quicker than you can say chinoiserie retro post-modern.

At least four new home decor stores have opened in just the last four months alone, together outlaying up to $2 million to set up shop in order to ride the home-suite-home trend.

They aim to fill a gap in the market between big, affordable furnishing stores like Ikea and Courts, and top-end outlets like Space at Millenia Walk, which brings in high-end brands such as B&B Italia and Giorgetti.

The four new stores are targeting consumers prepared to fork out anything from $500 for a chair to $15,000 for a sofa. People in this price bracket would once have had a budget more like $150 for a chair to $1,500 for a sofa, say store owners.

They add that their customers are a mix of apartment and private home owners. On the rise, too, are HDB flat owners who are willing to spend to spruce up their homes.

The co-owner of newbie Tao Lifestyle Store, American expatriate Rick Harshman, who has lived in Singapore for four years, notes: 'People have been heavily investing in their apartments and homes.

'Subsequently, they want to invest more in furnishings that will help to best showcase their home.'

Another store owner, Mr Mel Yeo of PLVS, says Singaporeans are more well-travelled and informed these days, and they are getting more sophisticated in their choice of furniture.

'Their furniture is an extension of their lifestyle,' he says.

He cites the example of sofas, which were once seen as just something to plonk your bottom. 'Today, owners want sofas that come with plush cushions and soft fabrics, so they can spend hours lounging in them,' he says.

Interior designer Sarah Tham, owner of multi-brand store Three3Three, notes that Singaporeans bought more new properties last year and this meant they also needed new furniture.

She set up her store to give consumers 'more choices'.

Another interior designer who has set up a store recently is Adrian Chua. He says he did so after finding that he was customising furniture for his clients so much that it seemed more sensible to open his own outlet.

The result is Think Gallery, selling Mr Chua's pieces, which he describes as unique yet affordable.

Life! homes in on the four new stores and checks out the dandy decor candy.

The Cathay, 03-04

THANKS to interior designer Sarah Tham, 33, owner of Cube Associate Design, Singaporeans now have more designer furniture brands to choose from, courtesy of her Three3Three store which opened last October.

CHOICES GALORE: Think Gallery's main pieces are made in Singapore while multi-brand store Three3Three offers furniture labels from places such as Belgium and Italy. -- ST PHOTOS: DESMOND FOO, ALAN LIM

The 5,000sqft multi-brand store was opened by Ms Tham and a partner with an investment of $500,000.

Brands include Extremis from Belgium, Saiyart Collection from Thailand and Italy's Serralunga, Ferlea and Dema and are exclusive to the store. Shoppers can expect to pay from $800 for a coffee table to $14,000 for a sofa.

Getting the brands was not easy. 'There were countless e-mail telling them about our business plans and visits to the company before they agreed to let us represent them,' says Ms Tham.

Indeed, she checks out each item before deciding to bring it in. She says she has personally tested out each sofa, instead of just picking them out from catalogues.

'Sofas are particularly important, as sitting on them is the only way to test out their comfort,' she says.

The store's unusual name comes from three elements that Ms Tham says turn a house into a home. 'Furniture, lighting and accessories - and we carry all these,' she says.

Think Gallery
6 Jalan Ampas, 01-04

CURVES AHEAD: With pieces as sexy as these, we bet you won't need to think twice about buying furniture at Think Gallery.

AS AN interior designer, Mr Adrian Chua, 35, found it difficult to find furniture for his clients that was 'out of the norm but still reasonably priced'.

He ended up customising pieces so much so that he decided to set up a furniture store selling his designs.

With partner Ricky Lam, 37, he opened Think Gallery last September. Mr Lam runs the 5,000 sq ft store while Mr Chua does the designing. The set-up cost was a couple of hundred thousands, they say.

Think's main pieces are made-in-Singapore sofas, dining, coffee and side tables, beds and chairs. These are created by a team of six designers including Mr Chua. It also carries outdoor furniture from the Philippines.

Prices range from $1,800 for a dining table to $5,000 for a sofa.

Mr Chua says Think is like 'a cheongsam (a Chinese traditional dress) tailor but in furniture'.

By this, he means that its furniture can be custom-made according to the client's requirements. Or customers can select pieces at the showroom but have them fitted to size and colour. Customisation takes no more than four weeks.

As both a furniture and interior designer, Mr Chua reckons he has the edge over his rivals.

As a furniture designer, he says his pieces are able to 'come to life'. For example, instead of just creating sofas with a flat base, Think's Ripple Modular Sofa has a curved base that makes it look more sculptural.

As an interior designer, he says he is able to understand what home owners want and the types of furniture that interest them.

In the works is a new collection of furniture. 'We want things to move fast, so we won't be selling the same items two years later,' says Mr Chua.

232 River Valley Road

FURNITURE designer Mel Yeo, 37, began PLVS (pronounced 'plus') when he noticed a demand for 'high-quality furnishing items but at mid-level prices'.

'The higher- and lower-end furniture markets are well represented, with a host of both big and small retailers,' he says. 'But if a consumer is looking for something that offers high quality materials and finish, modern design and a middle price range, the search will be a lot tougher.'

Thus PLVS was started last October with a $180,000 investment. The 2,000 sq ft store got its name when a supplier spelt its parent company name, Plus Integration, as Plvs, and 'when I was thinking of a signage for the store, I thought, why not PLVS', says Mr Yeo.

The store carries items such as dining and coffee tables, bookshelves and TV consoles, but sofas are its forte.

Mr Yeo says its sofas - designed by him and three in-house designers - are made locally and cost from $2,000 to $7,000. Their fabric is the same as those used by big Italian names, he says, 'but we offer them at a more affordable price'. Consumers can choose from over 1,000 fabrics. There is a four- to six-week wait for the sofa to be made locally.

'We pride ourselves on offering pieces that are modern and yet still look chic even after 12 years,' he says.

Tao Lifestyle Store
88 South Bridge Road

WHEN American Craig Snyder, 34, moved to Singapore in December 2006 from Tokyo, he ran all over the island finding home furnishings - a long and expensive experience, he says.

Mr Snyder, who does sales and marketing for an American-based IT company, wondered why there wasn't a one-stop store for Asian-themed furnishings at a reasonable price.

He took matters into his own hands and, together with American colleague Rick Harshman, 30, opened the 6,000 sq ft Tao Lifestyle Store last October, despite having no previous experience in the furnishing business.

They together invested about $500,000 in Tao, and spent nine months visiting places like Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and China looking for suppliers and manufacturers.

The pair buy items based on gut feel and also that 'we would want these items in our homes', says Mr Snyder.

Items include old clan signs from China, lacquered lamps, dining tables and bed frames from Vietnam and Buddha statues from Cambodia. Customers can expect to pay about $700 for a chair to about $5,000 for a dining table with eight chairs.

Smaller items such as silverware and candle votives are also on sale, plus oil paintings. Shoppers can also bring in a photo or postcard and have it painted. Paintings are done by a Vietnam-based French artist and cost from $700 to $18,000.

The owners initially thought expatriates would be their main crowd, but say Singaporeans are dropping by.

There are plans for Tao to go regional and for the brand to design its own line of furniture.

Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Completes Main Upgrading Programme

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 13 January 2008

Residents at Toa Payoh Lorong 8 are enjoying a 38-million-dollar facelift of their estate.

A total of 1,532 households from 11 blocks now have a better living environment.

Besides new covered linkways and an amphitheatre, residents can now live amidst lush greenery. Other enhancements include playgrounds, pavilions and barbeque pits.

The lifts have also been upgraded with more security features and will now stop at every floor.

The precinct comprises 3-, 4- and 5-room flats and was built in the mid-1970s.

Residents paid between S$3,000 and S$6,000 to have their neighbourhood revamped. For one resident, the value of his flat has appreciated by 15 times since he bought it decades ago.

Dr Ng Eng Hen, Manpower Minister and MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, said: "They are telling me that the value of the flat has gone up and they are very happy with it. They feel that everyone can benefit from the common facilities, so that's quite useful." - CNA/so

设计师授招 巧用小饰物年味浓

《联合早报》Jan 12, 2008

























Designed in Singapore


The Lavender Lotus(Designed in Singapore)


Designed in Singapore


The Tree Wizard(Designed in Singapore)


Piece of Mine


Piece of Mine

Newton One

Inspired by Lake Point Tower, Chicago, Newton One represents a new standard in luxury living in Singapore. With unobstructed views from every room, extensive facilities, and the highest quality finishes, Newton One is within walking distance to the MRT and minutes away from Orchard Road.

Location : 1 Newton Rd
District : 11
Tenure : Freehold
Expected Completion : 2010
Development : A 29-Storeys Apartment
Total Units : 91

Unit Types:-
2+Study ~ 113sqm/1216sqft
3+Study ~ 168sqm/1808sqft
4BR ~ 178sqm/1916sqft
5BR ~ 224sqm/2411sqft

- Swimming Pool
- Children’s Pool
- Tennis Court
- Gymnasium
- Children’s Playground
- Clubhouse
- Sky Terrace Reading Corner
- Sky Terrace Viewing Deck
- 24 Hours Security
- Carparks

Waterfront Waves Kicks Off Bedok Development

Source : Asia Property Report, January 2008

Phase one of the Waterfront collection set for Q1

Frasers Centrepoint Limited and Far East Organization have announced plans for the launch of phase one of the Waterfront collection, which is expected to take place by the first quarter of 2008.

The first joint venture between the two companies, the Waterfront collection is located on Bedok Reservoir Road and is believed to be the largest residential development in area and one of the last private projects to have direct water frontage. The two developers are even engaging the Public Utilities Board (PUB) in talks to explore ways of enhancing the neighbourhood’s communal parks and water bodies.

The first of four phases of the development will be known as Waterfront Waves, while subsequent launches will have their own unique condominium names. Waterfront Waves will include 405 units, with more than 60% of all units enjoying reservoir views.

Cheang Kok Kheong, COO of Frasers Centrepoint Homes, said: “We’re pleased to be working with Far East Organization in the development of the Waterfront collection and are excited about the possibility of partnering PUB in their efforts to revitalise and beautify the landscape and water bodies in the Bedok Reservoir area.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to actively contribute to our society and support the Clean and Green Singapore programme,” he added. “We’re also making efforts to incorporate eco-friendly and energy-saving features in Waterfront Waves.”

Chia Boon Kuah, COO of Property Sales for Far East Organization, was also enthusiastic about the collaboration. “Waterfront Waves is the first of a series of exciting, innovative housing concepts we’re introducing to the area, where the extensive water bodies and verdant natural surroundings will be developed to their full potential,” Chia said. “We’re confident this high-quality product will be well received by the market.”

What Can Co-Owners Do To Protect Interests In Home?

Source : The Sunday Times, Jan 13, 2008

Q I AM 49 and single. I live with my parents, who are in their 70s, and my youngest sister in a three-storey terrace house bought in 1997.

The four of us bought the house for $904,000 under a tenants-in-common agreement. We each chipped in about $250,000.

The initial 20 per cent down payment of about $180,000 was paid by my parents.

At the time of purchase, my sister was unable to finance her full share of $250,000, so my parents paid $100,000 for her. Her total contribution was only about $150,000.

My sister and I each took up a 25-year loan of $60,000, using Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies. Combined, our outstanding loan commitments come to $95,000.

Now, my sister, who is 40, is getting married.

After her marriage, can she and her spouse move in with us against our wishes? If so, can the law protect the interests of both my parents and myself?

We have expressed our desire to buy out my sister’s share, but she has said no.

What legal options do my parents and I have? Are there any rights we can exercise to make her sell her share to us?

Selling the property is not an option.

A UNDER such a co-ownership arrangement, all four owners are entitled to the use and possession of the house, and none of you can claim a right to any separate part of it.

Thus, your sister can continue to live in the house after her marriage, but her husband, not being an owner, has no right of possession to any part of the house.

Your unequal contributions towards the purchase do not affect the equal rights of the four co-owners to use or possess the property .

One option is for the four owners to partition the property , allocating specific parts to each.

Agreement must be reached on the method to be used and other issues such as the title to the property and the adjustments of rights between the parties.

The agreement would also be subject to official approval under the Planning Act 1998.

Obviously, such a partition would be difficult to implement, especially if it is intended to allow at least two family units to live together in a terrace house.

If the parties cannot agree to a partition, any one of you can apply to the court to order a partition or to direct a sale of the property in lieu of partition.

The court might direct the property to be sold outright if this is more expedient. It could also order a sale where all the co-owners are free to bid for the shares of other co-owners.

You or your parents could propose buying over your sister’s share to the court.

If none of the co-owners is financially able or willing to take over the shares of other co-owners, then the court is likely to order that the property be sold in the open market and the proceeds divided among the co-owners in accordance with their entitlements.

Lie Chin ChinManaging DirectorCharacterist LLC (incorporating Lie Kee Pong Partnership)

Advice provided in this column is not meant as a substitute for comprehensive professional advice.

Demand For Bungalow Sites Expected To Rise

Source : The Sunday Times, Jan 13, 2008

Landed home prices likely to continue last year's surge and jump by up to 15% this year, say analysts

PROPERTY analysts believe this will be the year for mid- and mass-market properties to shine - but they say demand for landed homes should also remain favourable.

They expect prices of landed homes to climb by 10 per cent or even as much as 15 per cent this year.

BUNGALOW SITES ARE KNOWN FOR THEIR SIZE AND SHORT SUPPLY, and this 4,695 sq ft bungalow, which has an indicative price of $3.6 million, is one of the few in the Siglap area that will be put up for sale via auction this month. -- PHOTO: COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL

SOME AUCTION HOUSES ARE TARGETING SMALL DEVELOPERS or investors with sites such as the 12,847 sq ft plot in Branksome Road. This site has the potential to be redeveloped into a conventional landed project or a cluster housing project. -- PHOTO: JONES LANG LASALLE

That sort of rise may not be spectacular but is still substantial as it comes off a high base last year, when prices of such homes are estimated to have risen 25 per cent to 27 per cent, according to property consultancy Knight Frank.

A year earlier, in 2006, the price climb was just 6.7 per cent.

'The landed home sector was a laggard compared with non-landed homes,' says Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak. 'It started to pick up last year when people noticed that it was slightly undervalued.'

Good-class bungalows, in particular, attracted strong demand as wealthy homebuyers zeroed in on these large and exclusive houses in prime districts.

But demand for smaller bungalows remains fairly strong too as such properties are limited in supply, says Ms Grace Ng, the deputy managing director of agency and business services at Colliers International.

And what supply there was has dwindled. Many have been redeveloped into semi-detached and terrace houses as a result of the favourable property market conditions of the past two years, she said.

Bungalow sites do not come along often, but there are a few available at this month's auctions.

Ms Ng said Colliers has a distinctive bungalow that will be put up for sale this month. Located in the Siglap area, the two-storey bungalow has an 'English cottage' architectural design and is one of the few bungalows in the area.

The design was inspired by the houses the owner and her late husband saw during their postgraduate years in Britain.

The 4,695 sq ft property - in its original condition - was built in the 1950s and has an indicative price of $3.6 million or $766 per sq ft (psf).

Recent transactions in the same area - district 15 - ranged between $650 psf and $780 psf for two-storey detached houses.

Two large bungalow sites aimed at small developers or investors are also up for auction, at other houses.

One is in Branksome Road, off Tanjong Katong Road. It has a land area of 12,847 sq ft and an indicative value of $900 psf to $950 psf.

Ms Mok Sze Sze, the head of auctions at Jones Lang LaSalle, said this site has the potential to be redeveloped into a conventional landed project or a cluster housing project with six to eight units.

Cluster bungalows in the area are going for about $3.6 million to $4 million each, she said.

Knight Frank too will be auctioning a landed property, at the end of the month: a 14,170 sq ft site in Clacton Road off Meyer Road. It has an indicative value of $1,000 psf to $1,200 psf and can be redeveloped into three bungalows, said the firm's executive director (auctions), Ms Mary Sai.

Recently, demand for landed homes has also come from those who pocketed lump sums in cash from collective sales, said Mr Mak.

'Landed homes have always been a different class because foreigners can't buy them,' he said.

The market is much smaller than that for condominiums and apartments, which also means it will not be as liquid, said Mr Mak.

In addition, buyers nowadays are not prepared to pay too high a price above valuation, said Ms Ng of Colliers International.

This is due to high construction costs, cautious market sentiment, and the steep price increase over the past two years, she said.

Strong interest

'The landed home sector was a laggard compared with non-landed homes. It started to pick up last year when people noticed that it was slightly undervalued.'

MR MAK, on the surge in demand for landed homes that began last year and is estimated to have pushed prices 25 per cent to 27 per cent higher