Posts Tagged ‘ECs’

Hot case and hot property

In Money, News Reports, Politics, Sports on January 15, 2013 at 6:52 am

Trying trysts
I’m having a hard time trying to make sense of the sex-for-grades case. Which way does this go: She gave sex so she can get good grades? Or: If she gave him sex, he will give her good grades ? Or: She loves him and never thought anything about grades? Or: He wasn’t averse to having something on the side but grades didn’t cross his mind?
I think we know more about MontBlanc pens (and he says he uses Shaeffer), monogrammed tailored shirts and his red sofa (who has a picture?) which is where both trysts occurred.

The media needs to give a better guide on what the case is about – the criminal one. We all know teacher-student sex is wrong; married man-other woman sex is wrong. The criminal part is again on that famous word “corrupt intent’’.
Anyway, it was fun to read about the exchange between law teacher and ex-law student (and nobody’s found out where she works???) I was especially amused by her use of “undue prejudice’’ instead of favour or disfavour in her statement to CPIB. I don’t think I would ever use such a phrase but now I will bear it in mind….
What’s interesting is that like the Ng Boon Gay case, it sheds light on CPIB’s practices. A key one appears to be: You not afraid the whole world will know about you? – that was in response to Darinne Koh’s request about a lawyer. I believe a similar statement/comment/promise was made to Cecilia Sue in the Ng Boon Gay case too.

Hot property
Not women, but those places were people want to buy to live in or invest in. So we have PRs screaming unfair that they have to pay more stamp duty etc. It’s a further differentiation in the status of a PR and citizen. I am tempted to say that PRs should lump it. They still have their own home to go to while the rest of us have to actually live here. But then again, that would make me sound real xenophobic.

For me, the most important thing is whether property prices will fall as a result. (I also want to buy something lah.) And how creative developers can get in making the price right. They’ve shown themselves to be extremely entrepreneurial in the past. An ST Forum page letter writer already alluded to this today – give rebates, absorb stamp duty etc. Then the G would have to jump in again. Very hard to rein in private enterprise…

As for those gigantic ECs, seems like Mr Khaw Boon Wan thinks that capping the size would put paid to all the high-priced skysuites. That, and restricting the development of public areas to add to the unit’s size. Then there is the dual key concept for multi-generational families to live next to each other, except that some owners are renting it out. Now they definitely must be multi-generational families.

Actually, I didn’t realise it was so easy for EC owners to rent out their places. They don’t have to abide by HDB rules on staying on a certain period before renting it out? I would love to know how many people are profiting this way – and also how does the G even know about this? Taxes on rental income? Check against registered addresses?


He hath spoken

In News Reports, Politics on January 9, 2013 at 12:30 am

I feel sorry for the Prime Minister.

It’s been one thing after another in recent months. Strike-gate, Palmergate and now town councils. We shouldn’t forget the EC issue as well – you know those big penthouses meant for the sandwiched class? All taking place in an economy that’s slowing down, a labour crunch, poor productivity scores…and escalating COE prices.

Nevertheless, he hath spoken on town councils – and none too soon. I’ve often wondered why as head of the People’s Action Party, he hasn’t reined in his MPs. Instead, they are offering all sorts of explanations on the town council-AIM transaction and how the issue should be looked at. I guess even the PAP isn’t immune to the Facebook phenomenon, with trigger happy MPs and Ministers deciding to let fly in the name of engagement. Where’s the party whip? WHO is the party whip anyway?
But that’s looking at it from the PAP point of view. From the point of view of a reader and a Singaporean, it’s been interesting politics. You get to know a person better when their views are not controlled…

So now the PM has ordered a review of the town council-AIM transaction. By MND, the governing ministry. I guess there will be some unhappiness with that. You can just expect calls for an independent review. After all, if there was anything untoward in the transaction, shouldn’t MND have spotted it in the first place? It’s like telling MND to go through self-criticism.

What’s more interesting is how he wants a review of the “fundamental nature’’ of town councils. I wish the PM expanded on this point. Is he talking about the separation of political and public service aspects of town councils? Does he think the whole Town Council Act should be gone over with a fine-tooth comb? And if we’re looking at the “fundamental nature’’ of town councils, shouldn’t more people be involved in this exercise? Instead, he’s given a deadline of a month or two… How come? So the issue will be settled before he calls for the Punggol East by-election?

Alert: I am going to start meandering from here…

a. On politics and business
The PM has focused attention on town councils. Now what about shining a spotlight on the PAP’s own policies and practices? A small light? Like what sort of companies it has, for what purpose etc. You know, basic stuff…I keep wondering if the PM himself had been kept in the loop about AIM and its aims. Surely MND Minister Khaw Boon Wan knows more?

b. On ECs
Mr Khaw’s focus seems to be on ECs, like getting his ministry to review this gambit developers have of selling off free open spaces for profit. You know, it’s time he called for a review of the “fundamental nature’’ of ECs as well. Clearly developers aren’t listening to his exhortations to keep to the core of the EC policy: subsidised housing for the sandwiched class. He had better do it fast too because a whole lot of land has been allocated to the building of ECs in the coming couple of years.
You know, I’d really like to hear from these developers of EC skysuites. Get them to account for why they fly in the face of policy. Instead, the media is hyping up the sales, bringing more and more people to these EC showrooms. Heck, I want a sky suite too!!!!

c. On the possible PAP candidate
Wow! Did you see those credentials of Dr Koh Poh Koon? Looks like the PAP has ditched Ong Ye Kung or he’s ditched the PAP for a good private sector life in Keppel…

Building on numbers

In Money, News Reports, Writing on December 15, 2012 at 8:06 am

All those building numbers are making me dizzy. You know, the number of BTO flats to be built, private homes, EC sites and land sales…What I know is that we are building like crazy.

So I had a good look at the private housing numbers that are coming up, depending of course on whether developers buy and build on those sites that the G is releasing as reported today.

Actually, I am not sure I care. Isn’t the problem whether or not people can afford to buy property? Does a bigger supply of homes translate to lower property prices? I had to plough through half of the ST P1 story to find out that it won’t.
I went to BT and found that the land releases for private homes are represented as “joyous tidings’’. I wonder for whom? Private developers? Or home buyers? (you would think that plenty of people are unhoused at the moment)

I am not sure what to think after reading the stories although I’m sure the real estate types would make more of it. BT had a chart on number of homes to be built while ST had maps of plum sites. I wish one paper would have BOTH so I don’t have to read so much text.

What I was interested in was that ECs will form 45 per cent or 3,110 of supply in the “confirmed’’ list in the first half of next year. I guess we’ll see more penthouses for the sandwiched class soon. Isn’t it time we took a look at the sky-high EC prices and see if the policy still holds? I mean, ECs are classified as “private housing’’ even though they are subsidised and subject to some HDB-like rulings. Are EC developers making a killing on taxpayers’ money? I want to be enlightened.

Another numbers story that left me in a fog was over how we spent a record $7.4b on R&D last year. According to ST, it was by both private and public sectors, although it didn’t say who was responsible for how much. Reading the article though, you would think this was all G largesse, courtesy of A*Star. Especially when it mentioned that $16b had been set aside for the next R&D five-year plan – 20 per cent more than over the previous five years.

I had to turn to BT for the full picture. And that is: Private sector research, especially by foreign companies, out-paced that of the public sector. Local companies still lag behind, not a good sign given the productivity push Singapore is embarking on.

Also, here’s an interesting case of how numbers can look good or bad:
ST said that last year’s research spending of 2.3 per cent of GDP brings Singapore “closer’’ to other countries famed for research, such as Denmark.
It added that the Republic’s target is to get it up to 3.5 per cent in 2015, which would put it on par with the top research countries such as Israel and Japan.

BT, on the hand, did not refer to the levels of research in other countries. Instead it pitted Singapore’s achievement against its own target: Despite a red-letter year, the country’s research intensiveness is 2.3 per cent of the economy, still some way off its 2015 goal of spending 3.5 per cent of gross domestic product on R&D.
Amazing what sort of spin you can give to numbers. Also shows why you have to read more than just one media for a full picture.

Home sweet EC home

In Money, News Reports on December 6, 2012 at 1:08 am

I am turning green. With envy. Jealousy. CityLife@Tampines is oversubscribed three times, with many many people interested in those 4,300 sqf penthouses.  And here’s my rant: How can those people who earn less than $12,000 a month afford this? Neither ST nor BT published the price that those luxury homes or sky suites in CityLife@Tampines  is going for (How can? Basic info!) And I am too lazy to go check on past articles which others paid to do the job should have done.

Something must be terribly wrong with the executive condo scheme  if homes are going for a million bucks or so, whether new or resale. . Even the restrictions on sale of the unit aren’t deterring people going by the interest showed.

Minister Khaw Boon Wan sent out this intriguing message earlier reminding developers of the objectives of the EC – to cater to those who can’t meet HDB income ceiling requirements and can’t afford private property. Well, seems like a lot of people can…go for private property I mean.

So I am wondering what Mr Khaw meant by his reminder: That ECs should be priced cheaper? Less luxurious? But if those with $12,000 a month can afford it, why not? Or should the G really be looking at that income ceiling instead and re-examining the original concept of ECs?